Saturday, July 15, 2006

A few more words on PC power supplies

I've been telling you that power supplies from years past are often not good enough for today's motherboards and chipsets. I've been talking to techs and white box builders about it and they agree in the main with my observations.

PC power supplies have adhered to a standard deviation in voltage on every circuit of plus or minus 5%. That was perfectly adequate for the parts we had then. Some of the higher priced, brand name units performed in the neighborhood of plus or minus 3.5%. Now, it seems that the most modern processors and chipsets require a little better. Plus or minus 3% is the figure I heard the most, with a few saying 2.5% was needed.

A machine will run without damage with the looser specification power supplies. Some few will be unstable, though, and the techs I spoke to make a point of swapping the power supply early in the diagnostic process.

The good news is that making these more tightly spec'd power supplies is within the reach of every manufacturer and some of them are already doing it. The cost added by this is minimal. You will end up paying more for the increased capacity today's systems require than you will for the tighter output specs. A lot more.

Until the manufacturers wise up and start posting the tighter specs, stick with the really well known name brands, such as Antec and Solar. There are others, but I just can't think of them off-hand.


Microsoft shutters Windows private folders

Well, I did download the software, so I have a copy around here, somewhere. But private folders is gone within a week of it's debut. I never even had a chance to start checking it out.

Corporate IT types had a coronary over the thought of their users having encrypted folders on company machines. The dustup was severe enough to convince MS to withdraw the product, either pending a rethink or permanently. (I note that or has similar software available for any Windows users, but evidently this being an "official" MS product had more effect on users decision to download it and install it on their work machines.)


Dell abandons mail-in rebates

They're going to phase them out gradually, keeping them as long as they can, no doubt. Dell swears this isn't going to change the net price we pay for their products, just simplify the purchase process.

It is long overdue.


Microsoft Live CRM lashed

I have to say that my limited experience with is why I think Microsoft isn't going to make it in the hosted CRM field any time soon. First off; they're not using software built for the purpose. They are using a modified version of their regular CRM software. It's a bad idea and almost certainly will add tremendous complications and time to the development and proving processes. Second off; they are late to the party and in order to get anyone as customers who aren't already firmly locked-in to MS products, they are going to have to demonstrate that they are at least as functional and reliable as the established players. works, after a fashion. They still have problems related to their basic concepts that are being dealt with, and then there are the problems related to their rapid growth. Microsoft is starting in a hole, so to speak, and that tells me it is going to take them quite a while to get it right enough to stop the cursing on the customer end.

The one place where Microsoft might have a head start is in fail-over, which has caused no end of complaints. Microsoft is good at redundency. So are others, but MS is definitely in the big leagues here. The biggest complaints has had have to do with service interruptions due to bungled handovers between machines in trouble and those expected to take up the load at those times. They've made tremendous strides here, even according to their critics and users. If I had to bet, though, I'd put my money on MS having less interruptions of service simply because they do that sort of thing so well.

It will be interesting to watch this unfold. Start an office pool on when MS can have it up and running for all comers. Everyone picks a year and the winner gets the pot. Okay. I'm being cruel. But the fact is that it will take quite a while for them to get up a head of steam and no one should expect different. No matter what Mr. Ballmer says in between bouts of tossing furniture.


Friday, July 14, 2006 | Intel's Core 2 Duo processors

I was first introduced to this site via TWIT and they promoted the complete review of the new Intel Processors, and here it is! Enjoy. :)
Today, Intel has officially unveiled the eagerly-anticipated Core 2 Duo product line up, based on the Conroe processor. Earlier in the year, we had the chance to have a look at an engineering sample Core 2 Duo E6700 in a system built by Intel. While today is not the day when Intel's new Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors will be available to buy, it is the day that we are finally allowed to publish our own independent benchmarks on systems built and configured by ourselves.

Intel is releasing a total of five different processors today, the first in a breed of new desktop processors based on the Core architecture - we will talk about what makes Core tick in due course. Rather than raw speed, Intel has changed its stance on processor design with clear roots shining through from the excellent Pentium M architecture, and the even more impressive Yonah architecture that we looked at in May.

It has lots of pictures and specifications. Comparisons between Intel and AMD, fascinating! I can hardly wait for round two. Go check out the article.
--MissM | Intel's Core 2 Duo processors

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dimension manufacturing centre makes things fast

What this is is a sort of inkjet printer that uses ABS plastic to "print" prototype parts. Things like this have been promised for decades and are only now just becoming fact.

Feed in a CAD file and some materials and some time later you open the door and remove your part. It's probably not quite that simple, but even so, this is a huge leap forward. At various times in my life, I have been involved in what we used to call "rapid prototyping" and there was nothing really rapid about it, except perhaps the pace of the cursing.

It's just cool. And it's only $18 grand!! MissM? It's almost my birthday time.


OLPC: the technology scam of the century?

Waleed al-Shobakky, with whom I maintain a lively correspondence, pointed this blog out to me. Waleed is Egyptian and we have long discussed the One Laptop per Child initiative and other efforts to bring computing to less developed regions of the world.

One need not agree with this blog's conclusions against the OLpC project and it's goals to see that there are a LOT more potential problems than those who have not delved deeply into the project have been told. While this does not change my support for the OLpC project, it does dampen my optimism, significantly.


Netscape Demonstrates How Not to Do Web 2.0

Netscape is getting a lot of flak, this morning. It seems they've redone their home page. What was once a fairly dense set of links and descriptions that transmitted a vast amount of information and options in a very small space is now all spread out and less than informative.

While I expect some folks will like it, the new page leaves me cold. I found it hard to get to what I wanted and when a dialup user complains about a site being unresponsive, you KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG!

Check it out.


Application UI goes back to basics

Y'all have heard me moan on this subject repeatedly over the years. I'm always telling you how I use a text editor instead of a word processor. They're quicker for most chores and posting to the web, with it's own formatting, is easier and functions better with no formatting. In other words; plain text. Same thing for email. Plus, the files are smaller for sending and storing.

Whether Windows or Linux, I keep a text editor open all the time. In Windows, I prefer Edit Pad Lite, though there are scores of others if that one doesn't suit you and I use Crimson Editor for programming. In Linux I use GEdit, KEdit, Jed or XJed. They're easy to get around in, the user interface encourages quick use for those little scraps of information and they take nothing as far as system resources go. It has been a couple months since I opened a word processor of any kind, and that was only to demonstrate to someone how to do something.

I like my computing experiences to be simple. The less navigation I have to do the more time and energy I have to devote to whatever it is I'm doing, whether work or play. Yes, I'm aware of the duality of my stance. Simplifying the interface to the most complex system most of us will ever deal with seems almost counter-productive, at least until you reap the benefits. Given that the necessary tools are at hand, less really is more.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 - updated!

Microsoft is offering Virtual PC 2004 for free. Grab it at the link above.

For those of you who aren't familiar with VPC04, it's Microsoft's virtualization toolkit for Windows. Reviewers say it's pretty good stuff. I intend getting my copy very soon, as soon as I'm done downloading the 1.1 GIGABYTES of updates to my various systems over dialup!

I think this is one you really need to get, if only to have it around. Support for Vista (as much as that is possible) is included.

Previously, the server version of Microsoft's virtualization framework was also made available as a free download. Grab it here.

I will also remind you that VM Ware is available for free, as well. Get that, too, burn it to CD and tuck it away, if you can resist experimenting.


Analysts see Java EE dying in an SOA world

The idea is not that the Java programming language is fading. That's simply not the case. Java will be around and will be an enterprise standard for the foreseeable future.

For those of you that aren't familiar with it, the Java language is part of a much larger, more complex and more capable whole called the "Enterprise Edition", with added functionality and such that might be needed in web applications. They are included in the hope that programmers won't continually have to "reinvent the wheel" during enterprise development cycles.

The analyst's point is that things have gotten so big and complex that developers are now looking at more agile solutions, such as the Ruby scripting language and the excellent Rails development platform. It's an interesting idea and seems to be backed up by Ruby on Rails' growth as a platform of choice. Decide for yourself after reading this.


F-Secure : News from the Lab

From F-secure's weblog, a new type of phishing attack with a "man-in-the-middle attack"
The first ever case of using a man-in-the-middle attack against an online bank was reported by Brian Krebs of Security Fix on Tuesday.

The security industry has long predicted this type of man-in-the-middle attack; it was only a matter of time. The attack targeted Citibank's Citibusiness service and was designed to spoof the token key hardware device used by the bank's customers. The phishing site checked the logon credentials with the real site before rendering the results to the phishing victim. Enter an invalid password, and you got an invalid logon page. A man-in-the-middle attack checks everything done at the phishing site against the original, so everything should look and feel more genuine.

Exactly the same kind of attacks can be used to target other types of two-factor authentication, including one-time password sheets.

This is one of several references to this new type of attack that I've seen this morning, and I thought it was important enough to let y'all know.

F-Secure : News from the Lab

Can Zoho's Web 2.0 Office Beat Microsoft?

Beating Microsoft is beside the point. They just put that in the headlines so they'll get attention. Any real conflict with MS will be rather far in the future. Right now, the only question that needs asking is whether or not any of the new crop of web applications will do us, the users, any good.

Anyway; here's an ExtremeTech review of a web application productivity suite. Some of you might want to check it out. It's well written and decently informative.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Magnetic memory chips come to market

We're not going to see this new type of memory in our PCs, or even our servers, but it has potential in embedded usage and several other types of installation.

It's expensive, but it is just the ticket in some uses.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 07-09-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 07-09-06. You can listen LIVE every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.