May 05, 2003

Funky Combos

I finally found something I don't really care for on my Samsung DVD/VCR Combo device. The rewind and fast forward for the DVD have to be held down to work. If you press one of the buttons and release immediately, it jumps tracks. This is really dumb since there is a separate button for jumping tracks. Oh well, if that's the only problem I find, I'd say I'm pretty lucky.

Posted by queue at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

March 26, 2003

Got The NT Blues

Today, I was reminded once again how painful it is to install Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. It absolutely amazes me how many mouse clicks you have to make just to confirm various aspects of the installation. If it weren't for crappy driver software by Pentek, I could upgrade these systems to 2000 or XP.

The good news is, I've been given a bunch of money to fix all kinds of issues in our software and the first thing on my list is to remove our dependence on the Pentek driver.

Of course about the time I get this finished, we're going to start upgrading all of our old VME based systems to PCI based systems. Welcome to a whole new world of problems, I'm sure.

Posted by queue at 06:52 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

March 25, 2003

A Ride To The Stars

Here's some great news for the economy in my area. LiftPort Inc., a Bremerton, Washington based company has seen a tremendous boost in interest in their endevor to build the worlds first Space Elevator.

This is great stuff. There's all kinds of information on this site about how it would work, potential problem, myths, etc.

Posted by queue at 07:02 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

Combo Update

Interesting. My brother posted this entry on his blog. I guess I should be very happy that I didn't go with GoVideo when I chose my DVD/VCR combo video machine.

I'm anxious to see if the GoVideo line gets any better under Opta Systems.

Posted by queue at 06:42 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

March 22, 2003

It's All In The Combo

I did a little research on DVD/VCR combo units. It's amazing, but it turns out that most of the big names produce decent units, but lack a lot of good features. The low-end names such as GoVideo and Samsung seem to have the most features at a lower price. Now I've heard all kinds of bad things about GoVideo, so I chose not to go with theirs.

I bought a lower end Samsung and I'm very pleased with it. It has lots of features, it's quiet, and the quality is better than my TV can handle anyways. I only paid $180 after tax, not too bad. We'll see as time goes on if I have any problems.

Posted by queue at 03:13 PM | Comments (1) | Category: Technology

March 11, 2003

The Sound of Quality

For some time now, I've been using a pair of Sony headphones that I really enjoyed.  They fully covered the ear which shut out quite a bit of noise and they sounded really nice.

For my birthday, I was given a Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headset.  I'm absolutely in love.  These little babies shut out nearly everything.  When I fly, I turn these on and I don't hear the plane at all.  Heck, once I turned on some music, I didn't even hear the 16 month old screaming in the row behind me!  And let me tell you, this kid could scream.  I'm just glad my kid isn't that loud.

But I have to say, if you've got a spare $300 laying around, pick up a set of these.  You'll be glad you did!

Posted by queue at 08:26 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

March 10, 2003

Fiber To The People

Speaking of broadband networks, here's an interesting tid-bit.  Recently, a new fiber trunk was run up from Olympia, WA through my county.  Surprisingly enough, the commissioners in this county believe that the Internet is the future for this county and they've done nearly everything in their power to increase technological access here.  Just yesterday, I read this article about the fiber in this county.

Here's a little background.  The commissioners asked private industry to consider last-mile links to this backbone and were given a resounding "Not interested."  Private industry claimed that there wasn't enough market despite the fact that our county is listed as one of the most ripe areas in the country for deploying internet services due to demand and previous success.  Even Charter Communications reorganized their internet business after having the most success and profit right here in the city I live!

So our commissioners decided that they give public utilities the opportunity to jump on this, and did they ever.  The power company, Puget Sound Energy, is looking to be the main player.  (Power line networks, anyone?) They've actually even considered running fiber to the home.

Suddenly, private industry wants a piece of this.  Now, of all the lame excuses I've ever heard, Elaine Davis, executive vice president of the Bainbridge Island-based Fair Competition Alliance said, "We expect the public sector to make good, conservative decisions.  I don't think this qualifies."  Then, to add idiocy to her statement, she says "There is not consensus in the telecommunications industry that fiber optics is the next best medium for data transfer. Even those who push for fiber can't guarantee something better won't come along. If that happened, those who invested heavily in fiber would be left with outmoded technology."

Wait a minute.  If I read this correctly, she thinks that we should not go with fiber networks because something better might come along?  What dream world is she living in?  Fiber has proven to be stable, safe, and probably the most efficient means of distributing large amounts of data in a timely manner.  Why do you think the telecommunications industry has been replacing all of their copper with fiber?  Has she got a better suggestion?  I'd love to hear it!

Posted by queue at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

The "Power" Of The Internet

I've been reading a lot of information on this idea of using power lines as a means of implementing broadband internet for the home and small business users.  Of all the opinions I've read, I'm starting to side with John C. Dvorak.  This is not a new idea.  Power line technology has been used in some form or another nearly 30 years.

Now I'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything, but I have to admit, the potential for abuse is scary.  What would keep a "repair" person from installing some sort of monitoring device in your house or worse, a manufacturer of some sort of equipment spying on you through your always-on connection?  The only way I'll ever buy into this kind of a network is if there is some sort of physical firewall device attached to the main power line going out of my house where I can control what devices can connect to my network and what they're allowed to send.

Posted by queue at 08:36 PM | Comments (1) | Category: Technology

February 26, 2003

Compiler Conspiracy

An interesting article I read talks about an idea I've never thought of before.  It suggests that Microsoft and Borland are in bed with each other with this whole .NET initiative and that .NET is in fact Borland's idea and development work.  I'm not 100% convinced, but there's a lot of evidence.  Read for yourself.

Posted by queue at 09:02 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

Compiler Mish-Mash

Have you noticed that Microsoft is trying to kill C/C++ programming?  One of the compiler suites we use is Visual Studio .NET.  Visual Basic and Visual C# in this package have wonderful graphical user interfaces for creating programs.  They're flexible, fairly user friendly, and for the most part, robust.

Then you look at Visual C++.  This package has virtually not changed in several generations of releases.  Form building is a chore and most components don't work as documented, if documentation even exists.  The one saving grace is the text editor.  Their text editor has options that blow away every other compiler's editor I've ever used.  I credit this to the fact that they're using the same text editor in Basic and C#.

As much as I love Borland's C++ Builder, I wish they'd add some of the text editor options.  I have to give them a standing ovation for Kylix, however.  This little baby is the Borland IDE for Linux. It works on several different Linux GUIs, looks and works exactly like the Windows equivalents, and the code is 100% portable to Builder and/or Delphi.  Given the fact the Microsoft will probably never release a version of their compiler for Linux, Borland stands to gain huge market share in the compiler market.

Posted by queue at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

February 01, 2003

Free-Text Protocol (FTP)

FTP is a great way to transfer files around on the internet.  After all, it requires a username and password, giving permissions based on the user. So if it uses a password, it has to be secure, right?  Think again. Anyone who knows a little bit about FTP knows that it is a free-text protocol, meaning, the username and password are sent, unencrypted, to the server for verification.  I've personally had my account information stolen from someone monitoring for free-text protocols.  This includes POP as well. You know, the protocol most e-mail servers use for you to get your e-mail? That's right, completely insecure, just like the e-mail itself.

Unfortunately, there just really aren't many alternatives at this point.  Even though plenty of technology exists to secure your transmissions, most ISPs don't offer those services.  Until we demand these secure means of transmission from them, they will continue to let the hackers have free reign.  All we can do is continue to educate people and encourage them to demand better.

Posted by queue at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

January 31, 2003

Flash Me

Have you looked at the cost of flash memory? Memory Stick, Compact Flash, USB Flash Drives, SmartMedia, Secure Digital; All of these have one thing in common. They are all based on flash memory. This is really cool stuff. There are many applications for flash memory, but none as cool as the possibility of the instant-on computer.

Imagine this. You flip the power switch on your computer. Within a second (maybe a few more if you have a CRT), you see your computer desktop with a document open that you were working on earlier in the day. You begin doing research on the web, your document growing larger and larger as you work. Never once do you hit save. Suddenly, the power goes out. No problem. After an hour or so, the power comes back on. You turn your computer back on and within a second of hitting the on switch, up pops your document, right where you left off! If this were to happen today, you'd have lost at least part, if not all of your document as well as the links to any open web pages that you didn't put into My Favorites. Flash memory opens the door to computers never having to use volatile RAM again. And by using flash memory, your computer data storage could be tremendously faster since there are no mechanical parts. Say goodbye to hard drives, floppy drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Tape, etc. Some of the technologies I'm hearing rumors about will make all mechanical storage devices as obsolete as a manual typewriter.

Posted by queue at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

January 29, 2003

Windows XPerience

I've been using Windows XP Professional for quite some time now, both at home and at work. I have to confess, I love it. XP truly is the best OS I've ever seen. The interface is more stable than any Unix based system I've come across (Mac, Linux, etc.), and it looks nice too. I'm not saying it couldn't use improvement. Microsoft has a long way to go. If you really want to make Windows usable, you should check out the Ease into XP and Make Windows Work Better guides at PC Magazine.

Posted by queue at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology