Saturday, December 22, 2007

Plexiglas-like DVD to hold 1TB of data

Finally! Someplace for John B. to put all his penguin pictures in one place!

If this debuts at reasonable prices, this puts a whole new spin on backups. Until it does, I'm staying skeptical.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Kaspersky false alarm quarantines Windows Explorer

"Stuff" happens. This highlights the problem with signature databases. As time goes on, they get so large that confusion rears it's ugly head. Kaspersky got on top of this one in a hurry, but some users were still affected; especially those with it set to delete rather than quaranteen files. A cautionary tale, that.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Download details: Standalone Update Package for Windows XP Service Pack 3

"Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate"
This is a public release of XP's SP3. This is still BETA it's very close to the full version. This is 336.1MB download and I would guess Microsoft will be mailing CD's at a later date.

Maybe it can fix some of the WUD problems.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Patch Tuesday IE Update Goes Wrong

I ran into this yesterday, but did not attribute it to the proper cause and instead reinstalled IE, which seems to have fixed the problem, which is something you might wish to keep in mind.

However; This short article at The Inquirer will give you the basic info you need and steer you to the appropriate Knowledge Base (KB) article if you are having the problem.

It's hard to tell how widespread this is. However, it is starting to get a lot of press and may affect a lot of people or only a few.


QuickBooks update shreds Mac files

This story is still only about 12 hours old and is still developing in terms of what Intuit might be able to do to mitigate damage. Support is available. For now, don't install anything and hit the Intuit support pages for further instructions.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-16-07

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-16-07. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Review: Windows XP

It's a Vista satire that I think you really will like.


Links from the Gregg Zone!

1) I just ran across this site looks interesting sort of like a cross between a verbal blog, personal talk show (you can host), a Socrates café, all wrapped up in one. I will need to check into it some more, but on the surface I think it might be fun to play around with.

2) Next up a site that is in process of creating a web reference for every species of life known to exist on the planet, and then to keep up with the new discoveries as they come along. Sounds easy until realizing there are currently 1.8 million known, and we add several thousand every year. The problem is cataloging them before they become extinct.

3) This is another of those free online movie sites they currently have over four hundred available. Need to sign up, but it is free. They even had Rocky and Bullwinkle, used to be a favorite of mine, especially the fractured fairy tales, and Peabody the Dog, with the way back machine. They also have many classic movies, and you can share viewing, not sure, I understand why though.

4) This is an interesting link on determining the meaning of your name, just type in a name and you will get a breakdown of who you are supposed to be. The readings are interesting, and surprisingly accurate.

5) One more for those who like ghost stuff, sorry I found this to late for Halloween, but rather than wait till next year I thought I would just throw it in. It is rather extensive there are many subjects, covered in depth. I am still browsing around the site, I hold most of this stuff at arms length, but am always willing to keep an open mind.

A Few Words About Flash Memory Sticks

I've spoken on the show about durability of flash memory devices several times. Because I'm often questioned by listeners and others on this subject, I decided to write a bit about it for you and sort of put it all in one place.

Note throughout that this is just my opinion and based on my experiences and those of a few people I know. This base is fairly limited and your experiences may vary quite a bit. I do walk around with a minimum of 4 at all times, carrying Windows software, Linux distros and all sorts of tools for working on systems, not to mention how-to stuff and my own documents. I use them a lot at home, as well.

Still, I have gone through a number of these things now and I think I can state rather fairly that there are some problems that can affect them.

First and foremost is heat. These devices get warm. The longer they stay warm, the more prone they are to failure, in my experience. Not total failure. They will simply lose capacity. I assume a few transistors die and the system drops that entire block from the file allocation table. Neither I nor anyone I know has had one simply die. They just lose capacity, either in small or large increments, as they age.

Because simply leaving the memory sticks plugged in to the system keeps them quite warm, I have taken to physically removing them whenever I am not either actively reading or writing from them. (Just ejecting them or unmounting them from the file system is not enough. They will still heat up if left connected.) Since implementing that little policy, I have not had one lose even a tiny bit of capacity. Obviously, I do not recommend someone plugging flash memory devices in to take advantage of Microsoft Vista's "Ready Boost" feature. You can do it, but be warned that the boost in performance is not large at all and you're going to have to replace the flash device fairly often. And if you insist in giving this a shot, there are devices specifically intended to fulfill this purpose. Buy one of those. The price premium is because they are designed to take the heat.

And you've already figured out not to leave them in the car, right? That will kill them faster than a 3 year old with a hammer.

The second enemy of memory sticks is dust. It gets into the sockets and kills connectivity. I assume what happens is that the dust is sometimes conductive and crosses connectors, but I am not sure of this. I never buy a stick that folds into it's cover. I want one with a proper cap that fits rather tightly. That way it won't collect all the different dusts and particles that lurk in my pockets and in the bottom of my toolbox and purse. (Yes, guys. I carry a purse. I simply have too much junk to handle when I move away from my home to get along without one. I just make sure it's neither pink nor patent leather and no on says anything about it.)

The third area of concern as far as reliability goes is rough handling. This is kind of a "no brainer", but even the toughest sticks I have seen are prone to damage if they are crushed. It sounds simplistic, but when we chuck these things into a bag or whatever, if we pay just a bit of heed to storing them they will not be damaged. Personally, I just put them into a side pocket and go. Back pockets are a no-no.

I've had experience now with all sorts of brands and models. I have a few favorites. Tied for first place are Memorex and PNY brands. They seem to last the best and offer the best read and write speeds, regardless of whether you buy the fast stuff or just their run of the mill. Running relatively close behind them is San Disk and their Cruzer lines especially.

A word about PNY brand. In the early days of flash memory sticks, their stuff was average at the best. The ones they made early on were in sizes of a few megabytes, and that stuff failed repeatedly on me. Since then, and especially in the last 18 months, they have really brought up their game. I hear this from everyone and my experiences jibe with theirs. I used to avoid PNY like the pest because they were so unreliable, but now will spend my own money on them and gladly so. Even at that, I do steer clear of the older, smaller PNY units; those 256 MB or smaller. I have some and I use them, but only where a quick backup or replacement is at hand. I have learned not to trust them the hard way and they never leave the workbench. It is at the least embarassing to have one fail in front of a client.

I am not aware of a "bad" brand; one that you need to steer clear of.