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Sarah Palin will pry your Klondike bar from your cold dead fingers.

calendar   Friday - September 20, 2013

been there

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Yup, them was the days. 16 month project that started in Red Status and never left. World’s heaviest data model. Overhead? Ha, even the metadata was more than the client server network could pass around efficiently. 70-80 hour weeks for months at a time. Required. Paid overtime? What’s that??

And yeah, we had hourly status meetings when things got really bad. Because when you’re really behind the 8 ball, and need every minute to try and meet some idiotic schedule, nothing makes you try harder than walking 10 minutes across a giant building to go to a 15 minute meeting every hour to report on your completion status.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

And testing? NOBODY ever budgets enough time or money for decent testing. As one uppity keyboard savant put it, “You don’t need to test my code; I wrote it.” And the whole damn company shared that attitude!

Oh, I don’t miss those days at all.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/20/2013 at 04:28 PM   
Filed Under: • Big BusinessComputers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Monday - August 12, 2013

The internet sux

Write some crap that everybody already knows. Stick up a bunch of simple pictures with smart-alec remarks on them. Get half a million hits. Ok, being on a big-time site helps, but it doesn’t help that much, does it??


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this was humorously cute though




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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/12/2013 at 03:20 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceFun-StuffHollywood •  
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calendar   Tuesday - July 30, 2013

Don’t Even Go There

New iPhone will have fingerprint sensor?

Examination of Apple’s latest beta software has revealed a folder labeled ‘Biometric Kit’ in iOS7.

A string of code from iOS 7 revealing ‘a fingerprint that changes colour during the setup process’ was posted online yesterday, sparking rumours that the new iPhone could contain a fingerprint sensor.

If the rumours are true, the latest iPhone will be the first Apple product to feature such a sensor, which could be used for unlocking the homescreen or confirming identity for payment from the App Store or other outlets. Any sensor would likely be embedded into the physical home button.

Earlier this year it was reported that a supply chain source in Taiwan said Apple had been forced to delay production of the next iPhone due to failure to find a coating material that did not interfere with the fingerprint sensor.

I think people may finally be wising up. Too little and way too late, but that’s par for the course. More than 110 comments on the article so far. Comment #1 says Why Bother with front end security, when the government is peeling all your data out the back? Comment #3 wonders how long until Apple sends your fingerprints to the government? Well duh. A few hours, at best. That’s what it’s all about. Photo and fingerprint ID for every citizen, every phone call and credit card transaction ever made, every banking record, vehicle ownership, CCTV monitoring of your car’s location by license plate identification, and real time GPS location of the cell phone in your pocket. All your school records, your DNA, and soon all your health records. In other words, the government knows everything about you and where you are at all times. And that’s OK. But voter ID is racist.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/30/2013 at 10:18 AM   
Filed Under: • Big BrotherComputers and CyberspaceGovernment •  
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calendar   Monday - July 29, 2013

No More Gay Penalty

Only 60 years after he was driven to suicide ...

Alan Turing, credited with ending WWII, to be given posthumous pardon

The “Father of Computer Science” — who played a key role in defeating the Nazis during World War II — is set to be posthumously pardoned of his gross indecency conviction, according to a new report.

WWII hero Alan Turing is widely credited with hastening the falls of the Nazis because he cracked the German Enigma, which allowed U-boats to securely communicate in the North Atlantic.

Turing, who was gay, was later convicted under anti-homosexuality legislation and sentenced to chemical castration.

In 1954, Turing, 41, was found dead of cyanide poisoning — a half-eaten apple sitting on his bedside table.

The government signalled on Friday that it is prepared to support a backbench bill that would pardon Turing, who died from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41 in 1954 after he was subjected to “chemical castration”.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a government whip, told peers that the government would table the third reading of the Alan Turing (statutory pardon) bill at the end of October if no amendments are made. “If nobody tables an amendment to this bill, its supporters can be assured that it will have speedy passage to the House of Commons,” Ahmad said.

The announcement marks a change of heart by the government, which declined last year to grant pardons to the 49,000 gay men, now dead, who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. They include Oscar Wilde.

Turing broke German ciphers using the bombe method, which allowed the code-breakers to crack the German Enigma code. His colleague Tommy Flowers built the Colossus computer. [Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a government whip] Ahmad described Turing as “one of the fathers, if not the father, of computer science”.

[ Liberal Democrat peer Lord ]Sharkey has campaigned for a pardon after being taught mathematics at Manchester University in the 1960s by Robin Gandy, Turing’s only doctoral student, who became a close friend and was the executor of his will.

Sharkey said: “As I think everybody knows, he was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency and sentenced to chemical castration. He committed suicide two years later. The government know that Turing was a hero and a very great man. They acknowledge that he was cruelly treated. They must have seen the esteem in which he is held here and around the world.”

[long retired Bletchley Park aide] Lady Trumpington told peers: “The block I worked in was devoted to German naval codes. Only once was I asked to deliver a paper to Alan Turing, so … I cannot claim that I knew him. However, I am certain that but for his work we would have lost the war through starvation.”

If I recall my ancient computer history properly, Turing was also adept at riding a unicycle and playing the accordion. No word yet on whether the UK has finally decriminalized those activities as well.

And headlines being what they are, obviously Turing didn’t end the war all by himself. But he did break the code, and that was invaluable in ending the Blitz ... although it was Churchill’s decision to let Coventry be bombed.

link to the Alan Turing story

Minor Update: a somewhat contrary view from Max Hastings: these were the laws of the time, so by what right does today’s UK go about pardoning or apologizing for past wrongs? Or, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might put it, “At this point, what difference does it make?” Not that she, or her husband for that matter, are any strangers themselves to meaningless apologies.

Well, I suppose the point is that it’s never too late to try and do the right thing. Granted, 60 years after the guy is dead is rather pushing the envelope.

The secondary argument, “what about the other 49,000 homosexuals also convicted?” may be moot; the way I read the Guardian article it seems as if all of them could be cleared of their long-ago offenses.

And when you come right down to it, the Allies were only too happy to forgive a bunch of Nazis and take them on board. Almost all of the early brains in NASA had earlier worked for Adolf (eg SS Major Werner von Braun). Revisionism can downplay their involvement, but come on. They didn’t NOT know. So what’s a little power bottom action compared to that? What they ought to be apologizing for is not standing up for their man, who saved the lives of millions by shortening the war by a year or more. But not one of them did; not a single string was pulled for Turing. That’s abhorrent. Things should have been swept under the rug as they were done for so many others with far more “dirt” in their dustpans.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/29/2013 at 12:32 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceHistoryWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Friday - July 26, 2013

Attention Drew…

… and anybody else who’s interested:

Drew, I don’t worry about the summer rerun season—haven’t watched TV for almost two decades. But I do have this magic card that allows me to checkout and watch all kinds of movies and TV shows. It’s called a library card. I don’t even have to go to the library to browse anymore. The library catalog is online now. All that’s required is login, do a search, and if your library has what your looking for, reserve it. I’ve set my home library up as the closest branch so the library system sends my reserved items to my local branch and sends me an email notifying me that it’s ready for pickup. Easy.

If that isn’t easy enough, there’s an App for Macs called Library Books. Here’s a screen-shot:

image

It sits right at the top of my desktop, turns green when items are ready for pickup, turns red when items are due. Click on it and it turns blue and lists your items out, what is ready for pickup, etc. Don’t know if Windows has something similar. Did I mention that Library Books was free? I said was because now it’s like $1.99 in the Mac App Store but I’ve refused to upgrade.


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 07/26/2013 at 03:51 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceDaily Life •  
Comments (4) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  

calendar   Thursday - July 18, 2013

Fun With Ads

Das Leben Is Zu Kurz

Für Den Falschen Job




Not exactly new, this 2009 anti-ad ad campaign for an employment agency in Germany features the right people doing the wrong kind of work. “Billboards” were placed on the side of vending machines in popular locations, and the rest ... is viral internet history. Love it.


“Life’s too short for the wrong job.”



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image




Links? Dude, it’s viral. Google it up; the stuff is everywhere.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/18/2013 at 07:51 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceHumor •  
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Meh, plus making infinite tasks take only seconds

Sorry, not much from me right now. I’m trying to get a whole bunch of things done here, all sorts of stuff that got set aside when I was sick.





Interesting sort of news on that license plate scanning story. Once upon a time, when I was studying computers in college, in a brutally difficult course on algorithm analysis, I got introduced to Aleph Zero, the concept of countable infinity. Countable. Infinity. I know, right? Anyway, the concept applies to computer programs that are actual algorithms - which are defined as repetitive but finite processes - that would simply run until the end of time before they finished. And that’s my first thought about the license plate scanning story: given a few dozen million traffic cams or cop car mounted scanners, it would take forever to plot the movement history of all the tens of millions of cars in the USA.

But on second thought, I learned about old Aleph Zero when a red hot PC ran at around 66Mhz. 10x faster is 660Mhz. 100x faster is 6.6Ghz, about twice the speed of today’s best desktop machine. But while today’s PC is about 50 times faster, it also has up to 8 subprocessing units in it, and since this plate searching thing is pretty much a linear task, any one of those could handle the job for one license plate at a time. So figure that a good PC can do 400 times (50x8) the work that a machine from back then can do.  Still, Aleph Zero divided by 400 still equals Aleph Zero; that kind of power increase doesn’t make a dent in infinity. Scalar (4) times 2 orders of magnitude (10x10=100) isn’t much.

But if we move beyond the mundane world of personal computers, countable infinity starts to take a beating. The Chinese admit to having a supercomputer that churns data as fast as 338 MILLION modern PCs. Keyword: admit. Take a guess what they really have, and aren’t telling you. And do you think that our own NSA is far behind? Or more likely, far ahead and not saying a word? We already know about the phone call and email tapping stuff. And now folks have figured out that all those CCTV cameras can feed facial recognition software ... in real time. So, is keeping track of where everyone is in their cars at all times still a finite, countably infinite, effectively impossible task? Let’s take a fast look at the math.

Pull a number out of your hat, or whatever hypothetical guess storage device you use. Guess that the task of tracking all the cars every day would take about 100,000 years of computation on an old PC, each and every day. Now make a tiny assumption, that the NSA has supercomputers (how many? LOTS!) a decent step faster than the ChiComs admit theirs are. Call it 500 million times faster. 500,000,000 faster than today’s PC, which itself does 400 times as much work as the 66Mhz machine from 1993. Ignore that factor of 400 entirely for now. 500 million is a scalar of 5 followed by 100,000,000 - 9 orders of magnitude. So the 100,000 year task - which is 36,525,000 days including leap years gets divided by 500,000,000, and we get 0.07305 days, which is just 1 hour and 45 minutes. Now let’s factor in Modern PC against Old PC, so we divide 1.75 hours - 105 minutes - by 400. And the answer comes up 0.26298 minutes, or just under 16 seconds. Aleph Zero is dead: one of NSA’s supercomputers by itself can keep track of the whereabouts of every car in the USA just 16 seconds behind realtime. Well, given a nearly continuous data feed from all those scanners. If they check in any less often than that, say once every 30 seconds, then NSA can easily stay just one update behind, which is as close to realtime as anything other than a targeted missile strike will ever need. So be aware: it can be done.

Driving somewhere? There’s a gov’t record of that

Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.

Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.

As the technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, and federal grants focus on aiding local terrorist detection, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. While the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge’s approval is needed to track a car with GPS, networks of plate scanners allow police effectively to track a driver’s location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. The ACLU says the scanners assemble what it calls a “single, high-resolution image of our lives.”

The license plate readers alert police to an automobile associated with an investigation, “but such instances account for a tiny fraction of license plate scans, and too many police departments are storing millions of records about innocent drivers,” the ACLU said.

“Private companies are also using license plate readers and sharing the information they collect with police with little or no oversight or privacy protections. A lack of regulation means that policies governing how long our location data is kept vary widely,” the ACLU said.

The civil liberties group is advocating legislation regulating the use of the technology.

The readers have been proliferating at “worrying speed” and are typically mounted on bridges, overpasses and patrol cars, the ACLU said.

The devices use high-speed cameras, and the software analyzes the photographs to retrieve the plate number, the group said.

The system then runs the data against “hot lists” of plate numbers and produces an instant alert when a match, or “hit,” registers, the group said. The hot lists include the National Crime Information Center file, which includes stolen cars and vehicles used in the commission of a crime.

“License plate readers would pose few civil liberties risks if they only checked plates against hot lists and these hot lists were implemented soundly. But these systems are configured to store the photograph, the license plate number, and the date, time, and location where all vehicles are seen — not just the data of vehicles that generate hits,” the ACLU report said.

The growing collection of data allows police to create “a single, high-resolution image of our lives,” and the constant monitoring “can chill the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association,” the group said.

The “good news” here is that without the computing power of the federal government, tracking all vehicles or even one of them goes right back to being an Aleph Zero algorithm. In other words, your local town or county will never be able to afford the cost of the top-end computers that have the power to do the job. Phew. Of course, the bad news part of that good news is that all it takes is your local po-po streaming the data to the feds. And my goodness, given both the nationalization and militarization of police departments across the country since 9/11, and all of those “walls” Jamie Gorlick spent so much time building coming crashing down thanks to the Patriot Act and other bits of Big Brother legislation ... you’d never ever think your local donut eaters would be passing along data like this. Not them, not ever!

Think again.

So, shouldn’t this pretty much put an instant end to crime? Between the drones and the CCTV and the NSA, wouldn’t the Forces Of Goodness pretty much be able to track anything and anyone and thus capture the bad guys right away? Well no. To do that, we need to have a CCTV camera on every corner, every quarter mile or so on every road.  And a whole army of citizens to target the analysis. Which would cost trillions. Which would cost $Aleph Zero dollars. But it’s for the chiiiildren, and think of how many jobs that would create or save!!!11!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/18/2013 at 12:30 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and CyberspaceCrimeGovernment •  
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calendar   Sunday - June 23, 2013

wanted, easy answer for tech question. if that exists.

Got a problem ppl.

Ctrl/Alt/Delete

It doesn’t.  Maddening because when it says “End Task” and I click on that, it does nothing.

Anyone know of a solution or work around that isn’t complicated?

Much appreciated if ya do.

I’ve tried talking to the puter but that doesn’t work.  And I discovered that swearing at it doesn’t work either.  I even threatened to shoot it once but it reminded me that we are in England and that just wouldn’t do.  At best I can give it an ASBO but it even laffed at that.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 06/23/2013 at 08:34 AM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Tuesday - May 07, 2013

https and a question on tech

I was going thru a computer magazine, just browsing and came upon this.  It looked interesting but the blurb in the mag. went into little if any detail. Which is my ungeek way of saying they didn’t tell me it might be a mite confusing.  Except to Drew and his peers in the tech world, of which I am still a lowly outsider.

For example,

This means that while someone spying on your Internet traffic will be able to see what websites you’re connecting too, they will not be able to see what you are doing on that website.

What’s that mean?  If you were visiting a gun site or a porn site, they could well guess what you were doing.
So I guess my question is, is there any real value in this?  Or is it bells and whistles, smoke and mirrors?
Here is the link.  And they have it for Chrome as well.

I’m always nervous about installing new features and stuff that I am not familiar with.  I do know what HTTPS means ok. Just thought it might be a good idea to run this by some of you more tech savvy people before I click on anything.

HTTPS EVERYWHERE

imageimage


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/07/2013 at 10:06 AM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Sunday - May 05, 2013

SuperDrive?

I’ve been having problems with my built-in Apple DVD SuperDrive. After hanging out on Apple and iMac discussion boards, somebody finally said something that made sense. It’s a vertically-mounted drive. Doesn’t take much for the disk to be just 1/1000th of a micron off. So I bought an external, and horizontal, SeaTech SuperDrive. So far, so good.


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Posted by Christopher   United States  on 05/05/2013 at 09:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Thursday - April 11, 2013

That Sucking Sound As Sales Evaporate

Windows 8 blamed for biggest PC shipment plunge ever

Global PC shipments fell by 13.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and according to analyst firm IDC , Windows 8 could very well be the reason.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that 76.3 million PC units shipped during the most recent financial period, marking the biggest decline since the IDC began publishing quarterly numbers 19 years ago.

“The reaction to Windows 8 is real,” Jay Chou, an IDC analyst, said to The Wall Street Journal.

Increased demand for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have also played a role in this decline, but Windows 8 hasn’t helped. IDC continued to say that the OS actually contributed to the slump, saying that Windows 8 devices come with “features that don’t excel in a tablet mode” and take away from traditional PC usage.

PC demand for business users has declined as well. According to Chou, companies now buy computers every four or five years as opposed to every three years. Estimates for global PC shipments may fall even lower than the already-grim 1.3 percent contraction for 2013, IDC told WSJ.

“At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” said Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays. “While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.”

Some folks like it, but most don’t. And even if you could afford a touch screen monitor - regular sized models appear to cost 2 to 4 times more than a new PC - you’ll still be using it in vertical mode as a desktop. Instead of on your lap, horizontal mode, like you’d use a tablet. The OS is perhaps a few years ahead of the tech ... and everyone is expecting a HUGE OS release this year (aka Windows 9) that does away with the thing, and gives back the Start button and makes everything more W7-ish. July’s SP1 release is already seen as merely a band-aid over a sucking chest wound.

The Windows Blue update expected this summer promises several enhancements, including the ability to view more apps on the screen at once and easier access to settings, but it may not be enough.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/11/2013 at 01:40 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Wednesday - April 03, 2013

Netwoik? Fuggedabowdit.

Well, I gave up trying to make a network. I thought I’d done everything right, but it just wouldn’t click. I had both machines wired to the Wireless transponder/router thingy, and the Win 7 machine could clearly recognize the wifi “network”, but couldn’t see beyond it. Same thing for the XP machine. So after several dozen attempts I got sick of unhooking the monitor and schlepping it up and down stairs ( I only have the one monitor ), and umpteen reboots ... so I went to Walmart and bought a 32GB flash drive, a portable memory chip hardly bigger or thicker than a dime. And I put my entire old hard drive on it, with plenty of room to spare. 14 years worth of work, data, and accumulated programs. Heck, I can put my 3 DVDs full of bridge pictures and vacation pictures on there, and still have room left over. It isn’t fast; it’s only USB 2.0. So no way I would transfer the data to the HDD and then use the flash as a boot disk. Not sure that it’s even big enough, but Win 7 is eager to do all sorts of kinky things with it. Even gave me a list. Click Here For More!


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/03/2013 at 06:33 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Sunday - March 31, 2013

a question on tech.

A senior moment?

Until Drew’s post, I forgot it was Easter Sunday and so, perhaps this won’t be seen by a lot of you, and probably not by Drew til tomorrow.

I have a tech type question.

Take a look at this screen shot. It’s my C:

I have had differing opinions on the use of indexing. Not a lot of opinions, just a couple.  But you know, the more I can learn the better off I’ll be. Or at least the better off my puter will be.

Is there any need for indexing unless you’re an accountant or someone in a profession? 

I have read in a pc magazine that this will slow you down, not make things faster. 

Opinions please?

image


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/31/2013 at 07:35 AM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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calendar   Friday - March 29, 2013

it’s Here!

The new PC arrived about 90 minutes ago. I took everything out of the box and just looked at it for awhile. It’s all black and sinister looking with chrome piping around the edge of the front panel. Pretty neat. The DVD has a spring loaded trapdoor on it, like the dust cover on an M16. Also neat. The top of the case has a little depression in it for your hand held devices, and there are 2 USB 3.0 ports, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack right there. So I hooked it all up, turned things on. And it came to life just fine. So this is my first post from my new i7 machine. I’m going to name him Hecho, after my surprise at finding him hecho en Mexico.

Oooh, the new keyboard is nearly flat. It doesn’t weigh a third what the old keyboard weighs. Actually, the whole machine is lightweight. Great big box, but the Fed-Ex guy carried it with one hand. No kidding; the PC itself probably doesn’t weigh 10lbs. That’s a far cry from the nut busting weight of the old one. Thank goodness that one’s old 18” CRT monitor died a few years back. That sucker must have tipped the scales at 50lb.

So, I’m up and running. Now to figure out Windows 7, get Outlook going, blah blah. Oh, and I have to see if either WiFi or Ethernet is faster. And then finagle moving files across. And exploring what kind of bloatware Dell put on the system (doesn’t look like much, since this is a “business” machine). So I might be busy for a bit.

Gah, I am not used to this new keyboard at all! But it’s quieter. I was hoping the keys would light up, but no. Oh well.

I like the mouse. I can adjust the speed of the thing right from the top. Cool. Now to figure out what these extra buttons on each side do.

See ya ...


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/29/2013 at 04:52 PM   
Filed Under: • Computers and Cyberspace •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
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It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

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GNU Terry Pratchett


Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
free counters