Technology


I have this song from the Counting Crows band in my head. Here are the lyrics:

A long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leaving
Now the days go by so fast
And its one more day up in the canyons
And its one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven…I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that its all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And its one more day up in the canyons
And its one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California…I think you should
Drove up to hillside manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And its been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
And its one more day up in the canyon
And its one more night in Hollywood
Its been so long since I’ve seen the ocean…I guess I should.

A lot has happened recently and I haven’t posted much, been trying to learn to play the guitar which has taken up a lot of my free time. With the election over, and a new administration taking over in January, “there’s reason to believe this year will be better than the last.”

PC Magazine will stop printing soon and will be available online only. I hate to see this as I learned much about computing from their magazine. I fondly recall learning about expanded memory, extended memory, micro channel architecture, and so on and so on. In truth, since the dot com bust, the magazine went from a multi pound thick info packed warehouse of knowledge to a thinly disguised advertisement and buying guide for their advertisers.

Part of this is due to Intel copyrighting the Pentium name and keeping more of the lid on the inner workings of these chips, or perhaps people just are not as geekily interested in how these chips work like some of us before were. The information is available sooner online anyway. My Kim Kommando newsletter I receive from her is timely and informative about technology and tech issues. People like Jim Seymour, who died prematurely a few years ago, aren’t around to enliven the mysteries of computing either. He was great to read in PC Magazine. I like John Dvorak’s writing but the magazine has definitely moved from being an information tool to being a sales tool. John is not afraid to challenge the makers of software and hardware products. Still, I hate to see it go. It was a good run.

When you’re Democrat or Republican, isn’t it refreshing to be treated by the new hires as adults, rather than some ignorant people who don’t deserve any information at all?

Enough said. December has only just begun, but it will soon be over.

Happy holidays!

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Google has a introduced a new web browser named Chrome, which is currently a beta product, on Tuesday, September 2. It is an open source browser. Google developed the browser in response to many applications being ported to the web. These app’s need a browser to run in and Google wants to supply that browser.

Operating systems such as Windows are not as important as they once were, with many systems operating all the key functions and features users desire.

Google believes the browser should be less intrusive on the user experience, use less processor power and system resources to run the app’s consumers need while at the same time offering up a bullet proof architecture that should reduce browser crashes. If anyone uses IE 7, you are well aware of browser crashes. Many people using Internet Explorer have stayed with IE 6.

The architecture segregates each open browser into a separate partition in memory, which also has the side benefit of enhancing security through separating the activity of a malicious web site and restricting it from reaching outside the partition to harm any other processes taking place on the computer.

Google relied on open source development already pioneered by Mozilla. Also, the engine behind Apple’s Safari browser was relied on in developing Chrome.

Reportedly, it is very fast, exceeding Firefox in many instances. Simple in design, able to create application shortcuts on your desktop, and a tab system that is located at the top of the browser. A task manager lets you monitor which web pages or add-ons are consuming the most processor resources. The tabs can be dragged around to a separate area of the desktop. The search and address line have been combined into one.

Chrome doesn’t support the extensions in Firefox and there is no print preview feature. Still, it is an interesting development in the browser wars and may prod Microsoft into improving their browser with the release of IE 8, rather than just issuing a stock release that doesn’t have much feature enrichment.

I still like Firefox but will use Chrome occasionally to put it through its paces. I’m a geek, and will be looking to monitor its development down the road.

The upload link for Chrome is: http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?hl=en&brand=CHMG&utm_source=en-hpp&utm_medium=hpp&utm_campaign=en

Feeling a little nerdy? Want to know where your favorite satellite is right now? The web site http://www.n2yo.com/?s=33053 provides a live motion map and links to monitor the whereabouts of your favorite satellite.

The link above directs you to the GLAST satellite page which is where I was looking around just now. On this page you can navigate over to other satellites and see where they are currently. You see track weather satellites, Echostar satellites, browse by launch date, read satellite news, or click the “What’s up?” link to see all the satellites overhead in your part of the country at this moment.

It’s pretty cool. Even the ISS can be tracked, the International Space Station. Right now it is moving from southern Illinois into southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee. It’s actually motoring along pretty quickly. It’s already entering South Carolina.

Check it out!

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This year is the 40th anniversary of Intel’s birth. Does anyone remember their very first chip? Below is a recap, based on information in a PC Magazine article.

YEAR

MODEL

NOTABLE

NOTABLE

1971 4004 400 khz 1st microprocessor
1974 8080 traffic light controllers Altair computer
1979 8088 5 mhz; 8 mhz IBM PC & clones
1982 80286 compatible with 8088 new processor family
1985 386 DX first 32 bit processor 275,000 transistors
1989 486 DX math co-processor
1994 Pentium up to 100 mhz
1995 Pentium Pro 2nd cache memory chip 5.5 million transistors
1996 Pentium II MMX technology 7.5 millions transistors
1998 Pentium II Xeon scale 4 to 8 processors workstations & servers
1999 Pentium III 500 mhz 9.5 million transistors
2000 Celeron portable PC’s performance + price
2000 Pentium 4 1.5 ghz 42 million transistors
2002 Pentium 4 3.06 ghz hyper-threading
2004 Pentium M Centrino technology low voltage technology
2005 Pentium 4 Extreme 3.8 ghz for gamers
2005 Pentium D 800 dual-core technology
2006 Core Duo speed efficient design
2007 Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 ghz leading edge high-end gaming
2008 Atom Z540 ultra-mobile pc’s smallest chip

What’s really amazing, looking at the table, is the number of transistors that can now be placed on a chip, 42 million versus 275,000 only twenty years ago.

Intel was founded on July 18th, 1968 by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. It’s name is an acronym for Integrated Electronics. Gordon Moore is also well know for Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively place on an integrated circuit increases exponentially, doubling every two years.

Intel has 100,000 employees and is in the Top 50 on the Fortune 500 list.

I’m finally participating in online banking. I pay bills online and save the cost of postage. A side benefit is the ability to schedule the date of payment and coordinate when it will be deducted from my checking account. I no longer receive paper statements, instead opting for online statement delivery. It’s pretty slick; except when the web site is down and I can’t access my account. Admittedly, this is a rare occurrence, but when it does occur, and it does from time to time; it’s very annoying.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to rent a pickup truck. So on a Thursday morning I went to U-Haul’s web site, put in my information including the fact that I wanted to pick the truck up two days later on Saturday morning. I received an immediate reservation email which said someone would call me back within an hour to confirm, and someone did. I went in Saturday to pick the truck up and as they were completing the paperwork and getting the key, another individual came in to ask about renting a truck. They were all booked up and didn’t have any available. I commented to the U-Haul employee that I reserved my rental through the web and got a call back to confirm; that it was nice and I appreciated the convenience. His reply was, “Yeah, it’s pretty slick when it works.” I didn’t realize, not being in the habit of doing of lot of renting, that it would not work.

I have a Flickr photo sharing account and ordered some prints this weekend, designating the local Target store as the place where I would like to pick them up. The web site said the photo department at Target opens at 9:00 and that the photos would be ready in one hour. I had some errands to do and arrived at Target three hours later to pick up my photos. Unfortunately, their photo processor was out for the day and my pictures would not be ready until the following day. I remembered the U-Haul rep’s comment, “It’s pretty slick when it works.” The problem is, people are involved, not just computers. Computers can do their bit, but then people have to carry out their part to make it look “slick”.

The U-Haul rep’s comment is applicable to many things about the online age, and it also a warning. Whether it’s Internet Explorer, Windows Vista, wireless networking, cell phones, cd’s you burned, online banking, online reservations, etc. It’s pretty slick, when it works. The warning being the fact that you should always have a back up plan, and don’t be overly surprised if the online processes don’t work like you expect.

It even applies to my blogging software, which I have been through several frustrations with. It’s pretty slick, when it works.

 

 

Internet traffic is booming and yet the United States ranks fifteenth among major industrial countries in average broadband speed at 4.9 megabits per second. This means it takes two minutes plus to download an average sized movie in Japan through iTunes whereas in the U.S., the same download takes nearly thirty minutes. This is in a country where most of the infrastructure, going back to DARPA in the seventies, originated.

Some sample speeds of various countries are below taken from the Wall Street Journal based on October 2007 data of the OECD and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

COUNTRY MBPS
Japan 63.6
South Korea 49.5
Finland 21.7
France 17.6
Sweden 16.8
Netherlands 8.8
Portugal 8.1
Norway 7.7
Canada 7.6
Austria 7.2
Belgium 6.3
Iceland 6.1
Germany 6.0
UNITED STATES 4.9
Denmark 4.6
Italy 4.2
Slovak Republic 3.5
Hungary 3.3
Luxembourg 3.1
United Kingdom 2.6
Average 9.2

 

We rank eleventh in terms of broadband-access affordability and tenth in broadband penetration. Cost per megabit is $12.60 versus $3.09 in Japan or $5.29 in England. Only 57% of American households have broadband compared with 93% in South Korea.

It’s time for a unified broadband policy in the United States, something the presidential candidates need to spend more time developing with their policy experts. Although not a critical issue at present, information technology is a big income generator for this country. We need to ensure we aren’t left behind the rest of the world. I believe a national board of some type should be set up to develop goals on how we want this infrastructure to look in the next 5 to 10 years, including broadband access for schools where affordability can be a problem, and what mix of private versus public investment is desired.

 

Think of these tips to avoid the art of the social engineering scam. Awareness goes a long way toward defending yourself.

1. Don’t ever click a link in an email, especially if its from a bank or brokerage; PayPal or eBay. Go directly to the company’s home page and investigate before entering any personal data. Emails asking for updates or to correct problems with your personal information are fake 99.99% of the time.

2. Don’t click on links in emails to obtain free software or goods, especially if you have never heard of the company. If you think its software you might like to have, perform some Google searches to vet out any complaints or adverse comments concerning the software.

3. Don’t ever download software from a site that you are not familiar with. It may be trying to load you up with malicious programs to steal your keystrokes or other personal information. If you are at a site, and it says you need “Quicktime from Apple” or “Adobe Flash” to display content, go to Apple’s web site to download the Quicktime player or to Adobe to download their Flash program.

4. Don’t download special software to view videos. If it is a well known product, go to the home page of the producer of the software to download the program. A lot of the time, extraneous software and malicious programs are included in the “special” software you are being told to download. The video viewers that came with your PC should be able to view most any legitimate program.

5. Don’t use an out of date web browser. Use Internet Explorer 7.0 for Windows or Firefox 2.0 for Windows or the Mac. These are more bullet proof and have all the up to date security features. Apple’s Safari for the Mac is good but lacks ‘anti-phishing’ detection.

6. Don’t be without anti-phishing capabilities. If your browser doesn’t support this consider McAfee or Norton security software that contains this important feature.

7. Don’t assume anything. Be aware by reading up on social engineering scams and phishing techniques and what to do to avoid these popular scam approaches.

These tips are from Walt Mossberg’s www.wsj.com column and can be found at his web site http://walt.allthingsd.com.

 

 

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