Thursday, December 30, 2004

New Computer aided Border Security: The newspapers are full of Homeland Security's next new thing. Computer database matching of entrants to the United States.

Seems I remember Switzerland having that in 1985 when I flew into Zurich for a scientific conference.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

911 Lines get tied up on Christmas - The California Highway Patrol reports that their 911 lines get tied up with nonemergency calls every Christmas.

My hypothesis is that it is because more new cell phones are unwrapped that day than any other, but the carriers are closed and aren't available to activate phones. So folks (often teenagers) call 911 to verify their shiny new Nokia is working. They can't call a friend as Verizon recommends because the phone wont complete any call not to 911 until it is activated.

AT&T Wirelsss used to sell phones on the web that were activated before you received them, with the nasty side effect of AT&T Wireless starting billing the day they activated the phone, 2, 3, 4 or more days before you received the phone. At Christmas time, that could be weeks one would be paying for service never used.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Thunderbird - Another success for Mozilla. First Firefox, now Thunderbird. Firefox was the new better than Microsoft Internet Explorer Browser, now Thunderbird is a better than Microsoft Outlook email client. Rave reviews are pouring in. Like this one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sizzle without substance: So I read this "news" story today about TV on your cell phone, and it's a perfect example of marketing hype gone bezerk. Tiny screens with not enough pixels showing programming when there's not enough bandwidth, even with so-called 3-G networks, and they are hardly ubiquitous. Current attempts at TV on cell phones give 2 frames per second, as compared to home TV at 30 frames a second.
I think I am the one to coin the term for this. "Squintavision".

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

TiVo : Like most TiVo owners, I love mine and have a hard time remembering life before TiVo, and am happy to sing its praises. Judging by the armpit high stacks of TiVos at my local BestBuys and other stores, TiVo should sell double this year what it sold last year. Whether that means you should buy TiVo stock is a decision you'll have to make on your own.

However if you, like David Letterman use "tivo" as a verb, the company may get upset at you, as often folks "tivo" a show, but in fact are just recording it in some fashion, maybe still using videotape, or some other (inferior) type of Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Thus TiVo has started writing to TV Networks warning them not use use "tivo" as a verb.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Help Niagara Falls: Go to this site, where each click helps plant trees around Niagara Falls, even if it's the Canadian side. It sounds like a typical Internet Hoax, but isn't. If you get email (especially if it's a dire warning and been forwarded from a nonauthoritative source, like your aunt on WebTV) always check here to check whether its real or not.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Nov. 21 - ABANDONWARE - Software from companies that have gone out of business may end up in the public domain. One such game is "Solitaire's Journey" perhaps the best solitaire game ever made for a PC. It's Windows version is available for free!
at :
I apologize for the attached pop-up ads.
The program being from 1992 wants to be installed from a floppy disk, but installs fine if one extracts it to (or moves the extracted files to) a folder named Disk1.

UPDATE 12/8 for unknown reasons the freeoldies site no longer has a link to:'s+Journey
or to

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

IBM leaving the PC business ? Not at all, too many mainstream news agencies seem to have the story wrong. In fact IBM sold it's "manufacturing business" which consists of part ownerships and contracts with many Taiwan and Chinese companies. This deal is mainly a way for one Chinese manufacturer (Lenova) to buy another Chinese manufacturer (Great Wall). IBM laptops will continue to exist for the forseeable future and with the IBM name on them. IBM's press release says : "IBM will continue to provide our clients with outstanding IBM- and Think-branded PCs through our alliance." The biggest difference may be for the 2,300 IBM employees in the U.S. who will become Lenova employees.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Why are SCSI Hard Drives still so expensive? IDE hard drives have gotten bigger, better and faster over the years such that performance difference is just about zero now. Some background. Indeed IDE drives can be put into Raid arrays for use with Servers that require reliability and performance. Oracle tested Hard Drive Raid arrays and discovered that the low price Apple XServe Raid was the best and have proceeded to buy many.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Make Love Not Spam (MLNS) lives?: The Lycos screen saver (MLNS) that attacked Lycos identified spammers web sites is now not functional. Its no longer downloadable from Lycos (but available elsewhere on the Internet), and is no longer attacking "spammers" as Lycos has shut down its feed of "bad guys" to the screen saver.

While Lycos had a change of heart, relative to ethical concerns or fear of lawsuits, others may not, and likely a "modified" version of MLNS, or a Patch program to provide new life to MLNS is likely to appear from other sources before the week is out.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Lycos pulls the plug on its "antispam" Screensaver - Others have reported
as I have that one can no longer download the screen saver that bombards spam advertisers web sites. What they omit is that already deployed screensavers are now deactivated. They required access to a Lycos database of "badguys", and that's been turned off.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Help stop SPAM, be a vigilante: Lycos in Europe has developed a FREE pretty screen saver, which also sends traffic to spammers' web sites, and with thousand of folks running it, it may over whelm a SPAMers web site. Lycos claimed 66,000 downloads. They have Windows, Macintosh (both OS X and Mac OS 9) and Linux versions available. You'd have to say you were in England to download it, but if you're on the edge of legality being part of a DDOS what's mistating your country of origin? Download it here at your own risk. And for added effect the Windows version could be run minimized to be hitting SPAMers 24/7.
I don't advocate any of this, I'm just reporting it.

UPDATE: The screensaver is not available currently at the Lycos website of:

I expect a quick Google of MLNS.exe or use of Kazaa could still find it. Another view of all this is here:

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Networking a DirecTv Tivo : DirecTv doesn't support that functionality, even though stand alone TiVo units can be networked. Luckily TiVo is a Linux system, so by adding some extra Linux software and Ethernet drivers to ones' system, Networking is possible. And enough folks have done it already that full instructions and Install CDs are available on the web. Instructions are here. And all the software to Install; scripted to just semi automatically do it all for one is here. I'm about to attempt all this "programming", and will report back.

FOLLOWUP - I couldnt get it all working with 3.1.1e (the current DirecTiVo OS), but with 3.1.0 OS software (leftover from a replaced OEM hard drive), it all worked. has the details on the TiVoWeb program, that allows controlling ones DirecTv TiVo from a Browser.
Next is to try the tytools.