Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

Over One Billion Served

Well, not exactly… but I’m amazed at how the readership of my BLOG continues to grow.

I’ve added a widget that lets me view information on how many hits I get, the frequency, and geographic dispersion.

I would say my BLOG has global appeal, but I haven’t registered a hit from Antarctica (yet)… so that wouldn’t be true.

The vast majority of hits are from the United States, second on the list is Canada (which makes North America the heavy weight for sure); but an amazing number of people read my BLOG from Europe, Australia.  There’s a good number from Asia as well; and I need to talk to my marketing people about South America and Africa.

On a weekly basis (daily it’s all over the map):

  • I see about two hundred feed subscribers downloading posts (some daily, but most seem to do it less frequently).
  • The number of hits in the four weeks I’ve monitored has been between around four hundred and eleven hundred (yeah, pretty wide variation over a month time; but the numbers looked to be generally increasing — to tell more I’d really have to do some statistical analysis).
  • I get about six contact messages (for the month, one of those was from a company wanting to help promote my web site, in rather poor English; one of those contained almost as many explicative as mis-spellings; three of them have been from a vendor; and the rest have been complimentary).

When I decided to do this BLOG it was really a replacement for my mailings to a group of people I knew that focused mainly on technology, I’ve been aware for sometime that the readership has greatly increased (initially it seemed due to the search engine indexing); but I’m continually amazed at the number of people who read my BLOG and keep coming back.

All I can say is THANKS — and that I have no intention of commercializing my BLOG in any way, it will continue to express my views and you need not worry about advertising!

Originally posted 2009-02-06 01:00:10.

HDX Media Player

I ran across this site while reading on the web.  The HDX 1000 and HDX 900 look like they could be interesting devices to hookup to your high definition panel to give you options in how you acquire and manage your content.

I haven’t played with one, so all I have to go by is what’s on the web site.

http://www.hdx1080.com/

Originally posted 2008-11-13 12:00:36.

System Update Readiness Tool for Windows

If you have any issue installing Windows V6 SP2 or an update for Vista or Server 2008 you might want to download and run the System Update Readiness Tool from Microsoft.

You can read about it and download it via the link below.

 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/947821

Originally posted 2009-06-08 11:00:04.

Good-Bye CVS…

I’ve been using the Concurrent Version System (CVS) for almost a decade, running mostly on a Windows server machine (the March-Hare CVSNT Open Source build); but a few months ago I made the switch to Subversion (the VisualSVN Open Source build).

Why?

Well it wasn’t because CVS wasn’t working (well — there were a few nasties in a couple recent builds of the client; but that wasn’t it)… it was because CVS and TortoiseCVS simply weren’t taking Vista (and particularly Vista64) seriously and I didn’t want to be limited by my source control.

The transition from CVS to SVN was painless, and the server works great (and the GUI administration tool from VisualSVN is really why I picked them — I don’t want to be a full time source control administrator; for professional use the CollabNet Windows SVN Server might be a better choice); and of course TortoiseSVN clients (they have both 32 and 64 bit versions, that work fine with Vista as well as Server 2003 x64 & x32 plus XP).

The SVN model is a little different from CVS… and of course SVN is designed from the ground up to work over the internet (it’s hosted as a module for Apache).

If you’re in the middle of selecting a “free” source control solution; I’d say you only have one real choice in this day and age… you simply need to decide the platform you’re going to run your server on, and which build you want to use of Subversion.

Originally posted 2008-07-16 16:48:46.

Graphene

First theorized by PR Wallace in 1947, realized by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov in 2004, and awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 it’s a material that’s made from carbon…

There’s a great deal of money funding research, and there are many practical uses for the material that we’re likely to see marketed soon — the potential has been touted to be enormous… but the expectations that graphene is a replacemnt for silicon might be a little over stated.

Here’s a bullet list — and you can read an article on graphene on BBC News — Is graphnen a miracle material?

 

  • Graphene is taken from graphite, which is made up of weakly bonded layers of carbon
  • Graphene is composed of carbon atoms arranged in tightly bound hexagons just one atom thick
  • Three million sheets of graphene on top of each other would be 1mm thick
  • The band structure of graphite was first theorized and calculated by PR Wallace in 1947, though for it to exist in the real world was thought impossible
  • Due to the timing of this discovery, some conspiracy theorists have linked it to materials at the Roswell “crash site”
  • In 2004, teams including Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov demonstrated that single layers could be isolated, resulting in the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010
  • It is a good thermal and electric conductor and can be used to develop semiconductor circuits and computer parts. Experiments have shown it to be incredibly strong

 

 

Originally posted 2011-06-05 02:00:00.

Just Host – Just A Dependable Hosting Company

It isn’t often that I get to praise companies over and over — and honestly this time I’m writing about Just Host again not because they’ve done something great, but because they’ve continued to do what they’ve done since day one — work.

When I originated my multi-year hosting contract with Just Host I was expecting that I’d be canceling it and taking advantage of the money back guarantee… while we’re no where near the end of the term of my contract yet, I’m beginning to believe that the likelihood of canceling the hosting is far lower than renewing the contract.

Now if you need 99.99% uptime (high availability) and you’re running a web site that makes you millions of dollars every day this isn’t for you… but if you have a business or personal site that isn’t mission critical, but could still be very important to you — this might be for you.

I don’t know much about the internals of Just Host, and I’m glad that I haven’t needed to figure all that out… when things work, I’m perfectly happy just using the service.

At the moment I’m hosting my forty plus domains; sites for several of my friends and relatives; and a number of sites for clients of mine (for the most part I designed and manage the sites — and they’re nothing lavish, just basic sites that provide these business a presence on the web).

If you’re looking for a solution to your needs for hosting, click the ad below (or the one I put in my sidebar long ago) and try a reliable, reasonably prices solution that seems to just keep working.





Originally posted 2010-10-19 02:00:31.

Thinking Inside the VirtualBox

Sun Microsystems used to be a major player in the computer world; and I guess since Java belongs to Sun they are still a a fairly major force…

There’s a number of open source or free projects that Sun sponsors:

And, of course, it’s VirtualBox that has inspired this post.

VirtualBox 2.0.4 released on 24 October 2008, and from my initial experiences with it, it’s a contender.

A fairly mature x86/x64 virtualization framework for x86/x64 platforms.  VirtualBox runs on Windows, OS-X, Linux, and of course Solaris.

What sets it apart — well it’s to my knowledge the only fairly mature cross-platform virtualization framework that’s FREE on all platforms.

In general it doesn’t require hardware virtualization support with the exception that to run a x64 guest you must be on an x64 host with hardware virtualization.

Going through the list of features and playing with it there’s really nothing I couldn’t find that it didn’t do (and in playing with it, it seemed to work well)… the one feature that VirtualBox supports that none of it’s competitors had last time I looked (and that Hyper-V is sorely missing) is SATA (AHCI – Advanced Host Controller Interface) support… that provides much more efficient emulation of disk channel connections to the guest (and thus much better performance — and if you recall from my post on Hyper-V the fact that Microsoft doesn’t have SCSI boot support or AHCI support at all is what prevents me from moving to Hyper-V).

VirtualBox does apparently support VMWare virtual disks, but not Microsoft virtual disks (both of them provide open specifications, so my only conclusion is that Sun’s anti-Microsoft bias is at play which is sad since VirtualPC, Virtual Server, and Hyper-V account for a fairly substantial segment of the market, and a growing segment).

Like any product, you really need to carefully evaluate it based on your needs, but my feeling is that certainly for Mac users this might be the choice if you don’t want to by Parallels Desktop… and for Windows desktops this looks to be a very good.

NOTES:

On Windows if you want to use this on a server host machine (ie one that doesn’t require users to control the virtual machine) VirtualBox doesn’t really provide any interface for controlling machines in this manner; however, you can launch a VirtualBox machine from the command line, so you can have your server start up VirtualBox sessions at boot… though there are no tools provided by VirtualBox for managing running instances started this way.  My recommendation is that the VirtualBox team add a tool to manage and launch instances in a server environment.

On Windows (and other OSs) the way VirtualBox handles host networking (the default is a NAT’d network through the host… which could have some performance impact) is buy using the TUN/TAP driver.  Certainly they way Microsoft handles virtualization of the network adapter is far slicker, and I found that using host networking is not as reliable as NAT; hopefully this is an area where there will be some improvement.

Lastly, I haven’t run any actual performance tests head-to-head with  Parallels, VMWare, VirtualPC, and Virtual Server… but I can tell you that guests “feel” substantially faster running under VirtualBox (I was quite impressed — and surprised).


VirtualBox

Originally posted 2008-12-08 12:00:55.

AT&T U-Verse

I signed up for AT&T U-Verse service about two months ago — I’ve already made a post on that, but I decide to go ahead and do a series of posts on it.

This post will be an over view of what it is; then I’ll do a post on each of the services that are part of it.

The first thing to say about AT&T U-Verse is that it is offered by a company that I think very little of; a company that does not engender trust (in fact I’m suspicious of them at every turn — they seem to make mistake after mistake after mistake — and all their mistakes benefit them).  The sad thing is you might not have any substantially better company in your area to receive similar services from — so it’s not necessarily choosing the best, but often choosing the one that gives you that most without costing you the most.

U-Verse in short is AT&T’s name for an “advance” set of services — voice, television, and internet.

AT&T’s system generally provides these services to the home over copper (fibre is required in fairly close proximity as well).  The technology is called FTTN (fibre-to-the-node) and while they do have some FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) it’s only found in extremely dense areas.

With FTTN a VRAD (video-ready-access-device) is present between the Central Office and the end node consumer; in FTTP it isn’t.  VRADs are generally fairly large pieces of equipment similar to a cable company’s “head-end” (used for digital cable deployment) and much larger than a TELCO’s mini-DSLAMs (used for DSL deployment via copper from fibre from the Central Office DSLAM).

The services offered via U-Verse are: voice (“land line” telephone), television (“cable” tv as well as video on demand), and internet (“high speed” broadband).

When the service is installed it’s likely the installers will work in a team; the outside cable will be run by one person (generally the entry copper from the pole will be replaced) and new inside wiring is run.

It’s important to note that all services are digital.

Voice is provided by voice over IP (VoIP) technology; television is provided through ip video (including live and video on demand [VOD]); and of course the internet service is the core of everything (though an optional part).

The center of the system in the home is a residential gateway which handles all three of the services (along with a battery backup unit — mainly to insure that emergency services work in power outages).

Many people ask the question if they can use their own residential equipment rather than what AT&T provides.  The answer simply is NO.  Currently you must use the AT&T equipment — you may use your equipment in addition to the AT&T residential gateway, or remove your equipment and use exclusively the AT&T provided equipment.

I’ll cover the details of each service with respect to the gateway in the following posts — but your installer will work with you to provide a reasonable installation that should provide you with voice, television, and internet services much as you currently have.

The gateway itself has one WAN side connection, two telephone jacks  (it’s not clear to me whether it’s cable of three lines or four lines, but currently you can only subscribe for two lines of service), four 100-Base-T Ethernet (LAN) connections, one wireless (802.11-N) radio, one USB connection (for a PC), one “F” connector for video, and one Ethernet “broadband” connection (I’m not sure what this is for, it’s got a piece of transparent tape over it on my unit).

Initially the set-top boxes and DVR units must be cabled directly to the unit to insure proper discover; after they are configured you can use a switch if you want more ports; or you can connect your router to the gateway if you like (you will need to reconfigure the gateway if you do this to allow your gateway to work as before).

If everything goes well in the installation, once the wiring is in place the gateway, set-top boxes, and DVR units will register and come online within a few minutes — however, AT&T seems to have quite a few units that are defective, so don’t be surprised if there are some problems.

I had ordered one DVR and two set-top boxes (mainly because I wanted the maximum installation I could get for free).  One of the set-top boxes was DOA (dead-on-arrival), one of the set-top boxes worked (but I decided I didn’t really want to keep it so the install took it back), and the DVR unit wasn’t completely dead, but was defective.  Fortunately the installer had another unit he could replace it with — but since the unit had worked well enough to register itself it took quite sometime for the installer to find someone at AT&T support who was able to clear out the previous registration so my “new” DVR could register.

We also had some issues with the voice service; but by the time the DVR issues were resolved a reboot of the gateway seemed to download the proper service configuration and both inbound and outbound calling worked.

I will note that my install was originally scheduled for a Saturday (it was the first day I could select); and AT&T never informed me that they had moved my installation date to the following Monday.  I found out when I called them 15-minutes before the close of the installation window.  I was more than a little pissed since I had changed my plans Saturday to accommodate them, and now I had to change my plans for Monday as well!

Over all I give my installer fairly high marks for doing a good job (though he still owes me a jack — AT&T doesn’t give there installers a very good supply of equipment or parts); but like almost every AT&T system, it’s brittle and almost appears designed to fail.

The one short coming of my install is that he really didn’t know a great deal about configuring the gateway for a “complex” network; but since that isn’t something AT&T technically supports I can’t fault him on that, and I certainly knew enough to figure out what needed to be changed (the 2Wire device they use could be considered a “pro-sumer” grade device, so it capable of meeting most needs, but don’t expect it to have highly technical descriptions of the various settings).

I will say, that after the initial installation the system appeared to work… though before you place your order you’ll want to read my next three posts as well as do a price-feature comparison with what you have now.

Also, you may find that it turns out to be less expensive to order more services than you want.  For example, if you only want internet service — it’s cheaper to order enough service to get a free installation (well, it’s not free — I found no way to avoid the $29 activation fee — but it’s easy to see how to avoid the $149 installation fee).  If you order a bundle, the installation fee is waived; if you downgrade in the first thirty (30) days there’s a $5 fee — so as the installer is leaving, call and downgrade — save $144 of the installation fee… though taking advantage of some of the rewards and promotions may actually make it less expensive to have more services for longer.

Oh, and one last word — make sure you keep copies of everything you “read” online to do with any promotional credits, rewards, requirements.  As I’ve already said, AT&T does not engender trust.

Originally posted 2010-05-14 02:00:22.

Computer Tid Bits; Malware

Computer viruses, worms, trojans, etc are on the rise… if your computer is connected directly to the internet (or on a public wireless network) you’ll definitely want to have a firewall enabled.  The firewall in Windows XP SP2 (or better) and Vista is reasonably good (so there’s no reason to spend money on one).

Also, you should definitely consider running Windows Defender (free from Microsoft) and a Virus scanner.

Two good free Virus scanners are Avast and AVG.

Avast is extremely thorough, but can put a bit of a load on lower end systems.  AVG isn’t as thorough, but a great deal lighter on CPU.  Also, Avast will require you to register for a key — you can use a throw-away email address (from my experience they don’t seem to SPAM).

Avast

AVG

Originally posted 2008-05-09 18:20:12.

iJoke

I’ve never owned an iPhone; and since the only network they work on (in the US) is AT&T I’ve never considered one… but given the large number of people who swear by them, I naturally just assumed that it must be a modern smart phone.

Well, perhaps Apple should call the iPhone the iJoke — because that’s what it is.

No multi-tasking in any currently shipping iPhone… wow — what a basic (and necessary) feature to be omitted from the iPhone.

No wonder the iPhone purports to be more stable than Windows Mobile devices — they simply aren’t anywhere near the same caliber devices.

Windows Mobile has had multi-tasking for a very very very long time — in fact, since well before Windows CE was badged as Windows Mobile multi-tasking was part of the operating system.

I just can’t image a “computer” device made in the last decade that doesn’t do multi-tasking… how simply archaic… how simply useless for a pda / smart phone.

For instance; on all iPhones sold to date when you make a telephone call while trying to use your phone for navigation — navigation becomes useless, and may well miss your turn unless you know where you’re going (and why would you be using navigation if you knew where you are going).

I just don’t get it — and apparently most people who own iPhones don’t either — you paid good money for a joke… you wasted money for something that does one thing at a time, and only one thing at a time.

I’ve had Windows smart phones for much longer than the iPhone has been in existence — I paid less for them than the iPhone cost and they do way more than the iPhone did when it was released and still does.

Get a real smart phone — buy a Windows Mobile device or an Android based device, or just admit to the world you carry a fashion accessory and need to feel like the world likes you because you waste money on gadgets that simply aren’t anything more than a shinny bobble.

Originally posted 2010-06-12 02:00:05.