Friday, May 31, 2002

IBM STUPIDITY (IMHO) - IBM wants folks to have PCs without Hard Drives and force you to Network Boot (iBoot) and have all your data on Servers.
......................."You just have a disk that is physically distant from your
....................... PC, The disk looks like it's local."
Whoever came up with this must be too young to know we gave all that up 21 years ago. Why?
Security: Data you control is more secure, than data out of your hands.
Reliability: You still have access to your data if a Router or Switch burps, or if DHCP Server fails.
Speed: Data on a local Hard Drive will always be accessed faster than on a shared Network Drive
Privacy: Same argument as for security

The only reason to use IBM techniques is to save a little money on the desktop, which then requires more money spent on the Servers and folks to maintain the servers.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

I'm almost think I'm too old for Xbox, as any game I've tried so far is too hard for me, even in easiest setting. But then one of my sons emailed me that he just got his July XBox magazine. I ran out and bought me a copy. They tell in there about XBox Live coming in the fall, so we could play over the Internet. If only they have a new 3-D version of MULE by then. Actually the magazine with its playable demos are perfect for my attention span and skill level with Xbox. I loved the demo of All-Star Baseball 2003. Any hit was a BIG Home Run. Any of the "scab" players are not in the game as they are not members of the Players Association which won't let the 94-95 strike breakers join. The Players Association is a licensee of this game.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I HATE SPAM When I go to web sites that require an email address, I usually give "" so I won't get added to yet another email list. I must get 3 "You've won a Vacation" emails a day at my HotMail account. TechTV has a good section on SPAM. Microsoft tells how to get SPAM out of Outlook 2002.
And new legal action may help too.
Handspring has finally started selling the color Treo, a combo Palm device and cell phone, with a built in mini keyboard. It looks very interesting, and might be better than my Samsung I300, but I'll never know. It only runs on the "GSM" Cell phone protocol, which is the default in Europe, but not in the United States. In the U.S., one would have to use VoiceStream, bought last year by Deutche Telecom. VoiceStream itself bought Aerial the preceeding year and immediately starting requiring 1 year contracts and discontinued First Incoming Minute Free. VoiceStream's web page seems more interested in promoting vaporware, ie. a yet to be delivered PocketPC/cell phone device, rather than the now available Treo. Go Figure. I use Sprint on my cellphone. I'm not especially enamoured of Sprint as their Customer Support is as poor as everyone else in the cell business, but they do provide true free Nationwide Long Distance.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

I violated one of my prime rules in Computing. "Don't buy promises". I bought an X-Box and hope real soon now to be able to play something online with my sons, who both now have broadband. I went into Frys yesterday and they had stacks of X-Box up to ones armpits. I carefully picked one that had been made in Mexico, which I trusted better than the new batch "Made in China".

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I earn a good living taking care of a large Network of mostly PCs, running Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows XP; and everyday I say Thank you Bill Gates, because Microsoft software is so illogical and nonintuitive that it provides great job security for us IT folks.

This Blog is being written at home on a Macintosh. I note for instance that if one wants a lap top; The PowerBook G4 is less expensive with 50% longer Battery life than an (almost) equivalent IBM ThinkPad T23.
Blogger is full: Error /home/localOutput/gen3496413.html (No space left on device) (server:disco) popped up today
[5/22/2002] 9:22:00 AM CST All is fine now.
The Klez virus continues to confound folks. It uses an infected computers Email address book to pick senders and also to randomly pick an address to forge as a from address. Thus its not obvious who the infected email is coming from or who has an infected computer.
I personally blame Symantec and Norton Anti-Virus for most of the problem. Their software comes free with many computers, but is only updated for free for 3 months, and many folks don't want to or don't appreciate the need to keep the antivirus software current when it costs extra money. To further confuse end users, Norton Anti-Virus will continue to perform a "Live Update" for its "Live Update" component, when it stops updating the antivirus, thus tricking many folks into thinking their software is being updated. Dell fails to even mention the future cost in a prominent web page promoting Norton Anti-Virus. Gateway recommends folks check for updates every 2 weeks, when Symantec publishes new updates at least weekly.

Having not up-to-date AntiVirus software is worse than useless. The software uses up memory and computer resources but won't protect one against new viruses, of which there are litterly 100 + new ones appearing every week. But then thats another advantage PCs have over Macintosh. PCs have so many more viruses.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Reuters is 3 days behind TeraBlog. Friday we told you about defeating copy-protection on Audio Cds. Today, three days later, Reuters does.
GOODBYE MS Internet Explorer. At least if AOL (owner of Netscape) has its way. AOL is currently beta testing new versions of its AOL software for both Windows Machines, and Macintosh OS X that use Netscape, instead of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Perhaps its in partial retaliation for Microsoft not including AOL software on its Windows XP disks.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

In the last two years we learned how Ford Motor Company cut corners and ordered up cheaper tires for the Explorers, which already were (too) prone to tipping over in emergency situations. Now we learn that Experian who they used to check on credit for folks who still wanted to buy those cars, also cut corners (in terms of computer security) and for months had folks dipping into its database. And this was not the first such problem for Experian ! ! ! So 13,000 folks are now likely candidates for indentity theft. Thanks Ford. Thanks Experian (formerly TRW).

Friday, May 17, 2002

Copy protection on audio Cds I blogged about on Tuesday can in fact be easily defeated by some very low-tech techniques as reported in the Register.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

I've been taught the three most important things about personal computing. 1. Backup 2. Backup
3. Backup. David Coursey of ZDNet today brags about discovering a backup solution I've been using for almost a year now. Backup your home computer to an external Firewire (IEEE1394) Hard Drive. I went him one better by rolling my own Firewire Hard Drive. One saves $100 or more by buying a Hard Drive and putting it inside an external case. Takes all of 6 screws. 4 screws to mount the Hard Drive in the case, then insert a power cable and a data cable, and lastly 2 more screws to reassemble the case. With Windows XP one has to do an image backup, but with Macintosh a simple drag and drop backup works wonderfully (and faster than any other known backup). This has the benefit of a file oriented backup where any single file can quickly be recovered from the backup. Macintosh computers come with built in firewire ports, most PCs, one has to add a $50 PCI card, although combo cards with firewire are beginning to appear. The All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500 has firewire ports.

P.S. The Blogger spell checker wants Firewire to be fireweed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

My opinion of Western Digital is as low as it is high for Maytag. I just bought (mailorder) a 120 Gigabyte Special Edition (8 Meg Cache) Hard Drive. It was DOA. Strange it came sealed in an anti-static pouch dated Feb 02, but the drive shows a manufacture date of 10 March 2002. I called Western Digital on the telephone (using an 800 number), and for 15 minutes heard voice over telling me to use their web site for RMAs. Funny thing that - you end up at web pages dated February 2002 that says this service is unavailable. Finally I got a "live" person who said their system was down and they could not give me an RMA. I asked if he could take my info, create an RMA when their system came up, and email me the required information. No they couldn't. That response means I never again buy Western Digital products, since effectively there's no warranty replacement. I will be returning the drive to the mail-order vendor, and getting a charge back if they don't perform pefectly. Thats the advantage of using a credit card. It allows one some leverage in cases like this.

5/16/200211:53:00 AM FOLLOWUP. I just received an email from Western Digital. "If you can return the drive back to the place of purchase then that is always the best option." So much for honoring the warranty and replacing a DOA drive with a like new one.
Capitalistic competition works. When there is true competition, prices fall. When Microsoft cut the price of MS-DOS 1.0 to way below that of CPM/86 in 1982, they captured the market. Earlier this week Sony dropped the price of its Playstation 2 by $100, and today Microsoft followed suit for its X-Box; with both now selling for under $200. Likely they are each losing money at that price, but they make big profits on the game cartridges and accessories, so it's a sound business move.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Sony and Epic are busy trying to bust your PC/Mac with their "copy protected" music CDs. Some are suggesting that such copy-protected CDs be correctly called "Corrupted Audio CDs". They do after all vary from the Sony/Phillips specification for what an Audio CD is.

Monday, May 13, 2002

I'm looking forward to the day later this year when I can buy an Apple PowerPC G5.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

So there I was wandering stores today. CompUSA, MicroCenter, BestBuy. Generally with prices significantly higher than one can get mailorder, except for items that manufacturers manage to get everyone to sell at the same price. And in this city I wonder why they now have cable modems available on their shelves. The Cable Company here has basically now got the whole city covered, and for now, gives away the Cable Modem if one subscribes to cable Internet. So there should be next to no one who would need to go to CompUSA to buy one. Apparently the stores' National Buyers don't know these local nuances. Maybe someone eventually will wonder why they sell so few (maybe zero) cable modems here.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

In my humble opinion Maytag appliances are as trouble free as they say. Our Maytag DE-408 Electric Clothes Dryer stopped working today, after 22 years. The drum was not rotating anymore. I opened up a panel on the back and found that the drive belt had busted. Imagine that - only holding up for 22 years. So I went to a local appliance store and paid $18 + tax for a new belt. The price was high, but I guess I was paying for the cost of their having it in stock. Luckily it had some good instructions on the back of the plastic bag that told me to remove the front, and then remove an inner panel to put the new belt in place. Thirty minutes of effort later, I had saved myself the $500 a new dryer would have cost or the $150 a repairperson might have charged. Any luck at all, it's good for another 20 years.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Todays top Tech News Story: major computer manufacturers will come to your home to set up your newly purchased computer. They see this as a new revenue source. Well if Dell used $18/hour Dell employees, this could be great. If they use contract employees, it will be an unmitigated disaster. Windows XP has some excellent migration tools for getting data and settings from an old computer to a new one.

Will they take the time to download the 23 Windows XP updates from Microsoft that a computer needs? It takes only a few minutes with dsl or cable, but could be hours via dial-up. Will users be told to not install Gator, Comet Cursor or Webshots because the Spyware it installs will mess up their computer? Likely not. Will they be told that antivirus needs to be updated at least weekly, and that typically updates stop working after 3 months if you don't pay a nice fee to Symantec (or whoever)? Likely not.

I won't even get into the fact that all this setup difficulty flat doesn't exist in the Macintosh paradigm.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

I have a SprintPCS cell phone. Actually its a fancy combo Palm Pilot, the Samsung I300. I've grown kinda used to it, as its nice having both functions in one device, but I haven't yet started using the "Wireless Web" functionality, as effectively its 9600 baud transmission of data, and I don't feel like boldly going back to 1985.

All Cell Phone companies (Sprint is certainly no exception) have cut corners in a major way on customer support. Folks that don't like Sprint even have their own website.

SprintPCS employees should be glad that last years planned merger with MCI/Worldcom didn't go through. Last time I looked, Worldcom stock price was below $2.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Too many pundits are hailing the "Death" of System 9. All that has happened is that Apple Computer has proclaimed it will henceforth devote all its development efforts to OS X and its successors. I have no complaint with Apple's decision. But with tens of millions of Macintosh Computers running OS 9 or earlier versions of Apple's System software, and likely more than half of those won't even run OS X suitably, if at all, it will be many years before we have seen the last of OS 9. I for one picked up a PowerPC 8100/100 at work today that another department was about to surplus. It can still be a very functional and productive computer, but not with OS X.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Hewlett-Packard moves slowly to make Compaq disappear from the web. redirects to, but compaq drivers are still found at, unchanged with all the Compaq logos like the merger never happened.

Monday, May 06, 2002

How does Microsoft still get away with this stuff? Intel announces a new 2.53 GHz Pentium 4 CPU today, Dell announces its Dimension 8200's with this chip available immediately. Two catches. It has to come with Microsoft Windows, and it has to have Microsoft application software. Isn't that illegal bundling, forcing me to take Microsoft application software? And just because I am a State employee and can get a legal licensed copy of Microsoft Office XP Premium for $10, I still have to buy Microsoft application software from Dell, so Microsoft by its monopoly is forcing me into a duplicate purchase.