Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blind users still struggle with 'maddening' computing obstacles

We, and especially Riley, have commented on this for years. Here is a succinct summary of the problems encountered by blind users, along with some information on remediation and tools available.

I was recently asked to re-write a web site to increase usability for the visually challenged. I had to turn it down. Why? Well, most of us who do HTML and derivatives never thought about the blind and so we did our sites in such a way that simply inserting "ALT" tags would do nothing to improve accessibility. Sites need to be designed for accessibility from the start. Once that is done, improving accessibility is really not that much work and surely not inconvenient beyond the needed labor. The site I was being asked to work on really needed to be completely redone, not just tarted up for the blind. Too big a job for the likes of me.


Firefox released April 16th

Just a bug fix, no new features.
Quote from the release notes :
Fixed in Firefox
MFSA 2008-20 Crash in JavaScript garbage collector

Interesting though, when you go into the full details, they say the bug is fixed in Thunderbird as well, but no update showing up there, yet. Still showing for latest download.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Web tripwires" reveal 1.3% of web pages altered in transit

As far as I'm concerned, this is just one more thing to be suspicious of with regards to the Internet.

That the practice is supposedly "benign" justifies nothing to me.


Mac Clone Maker Psystar Vows To Challenge Apple EULA

PsyStar, a Florida company specializing in storage rigs, announced their "Open Mac" product Monday and their site was immediately taken down......Slashdotted into oblivion. It's back up now, at least most of the time, so I felt it was time to post this.

Open Mac is a "Hackintosh"; Intel hardware that will run Apple's OS X without any modification to the code. Open Macs come with OS X installed, if you buy your copy from PsyStar. This is a violation of Apples license agreement and I waited over 24 hours for Job's Mob to squash PsyStar like a bug under a flood of legal writs. That didn't happen. Or at least it hasn't happened yet.

PsyStar has come out swinging on this; saying Apple gouges on hardware for the priviledge of running "what is arguably the best OS out there". They intend to change that. To accomplish their goal, they are going to have to challenge the Apple EULA (End User License Agreement). They have 3 possible avenues of attack, that I can see. One is to argue that the terms of the license are unenforceable. The second is to argue that the terms are unconscionable. I assume the third is to argue that Apple is basically objecting to free money for the product which they do not have to subsequently support, which is a very weak argument and probably won't actually come up. (If it does, it likely will be seen as without merit. After all; it IS Apple's property and they cannot be forced to sell it.)

This one is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch. Personally, I hope that PsyStar wins, though I doubt they can. Still, I am not a lawyer able to judge the case from afar and as everyone knows, stranger things have happened in courts.


Monday, April 14, 2008

First Look: Gimp 2.5.0 - UPDATED!

So far, the general consensus is that The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program, for those who might not know yet) is not quite a competitor for Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. Still, it's quite close. Close enough that I certainly am not qualified to judge. I simply don't work at that level in graphics.

In my opinion, and apparently the opinion of others, too, The GIMP's interface is even more confusing than that of it's competitors. As a result, the GIMP team has made a lot of changes. I think they are worth checking out. I'm a GIMP user on Windows or Linux and looking forward to them making more changes to make it easier for folks like me to use it profitably. I think this new release will be well worth your time to check out.


UPDATE: Here is Scott Gilbertson's Wired blog post on the subject, which seems an even better overview of things.


The Coming Processor War: Opening Salvo

Here's an interesting quickie from Lloyd Case at Extreme Tech. He makes the case that eliminating the graphics processor in favor of the CPU is entirely possible now and will only become more so and wonders how NVidia will respond to that.


OnComputers Radio show Podcast 04-13-08

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 04-13-08. 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.

Remember this was our Geek Meet 2008 show with video of the show, to see the live video you need the asf file from our archives mms://

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How much can you improve network throughput with a high-end NIC?

Hi. We are finally back online, after 75 hours without power. Sorry for the absence.

Here's a short article at that I think everyone should read.

For ages, I have trolled for the lowest cost nics with a decent chipset. For a couple years, I was centered on Kingston parts, but they got out of the nic market. Now, I have failed spectacularly in finding cheap nics that work well. I have had to resort to nics costing 3-5 times as much to get decent performance and reliability.


Links from the Gregg zone

1) To start, the geek meet weekend show links this week I am posting a link to an article about storage of data. The goal of this group is to put a full petabyte of information on a single disc. To put that in perspective 20,000 times what fits on today’s blue ray disc or 200,000 DVD’s without increasing the size of the disc. They are looking at several options, such as, color spectrum, dimensions, layering, and nano technology.

2) This is a link I found the other day I thought was interesting it is the only free open internet-rating site. They provide audience profiles for over 20,000,000 sites. They are primarily for advertisers, but it is interesting to look up sites and see what type of audience is using the site. For instance, oncomputers ranks 859,387, mostly male, mostly over 55, mostly under 30k per year, mostly Asian, mostly no children in house hold. There is a statement that these results are based on insufficient data, and there is an option to “get qualified”, if we wanted, I suppose that would improve that accuracy

3) Here is a very good audio/video site while there is an incredible amount of stuff here since this is geek meet I thought I would just highlight the computer section. Five-hundred-sixty items on the archives of the Computers Chronicles T.V. show broadcast for twenty years 1983-2002. Other shows available include The Digital Tipping Point, Net Café, Internet Governance, BBS Documentaries, several Linux groups. That is just part of the section covering the computer. I also found such things as the original ads for the Commodore, among many others. I found this stuff under Moving Images, browse from the main page.

4) A link to an article in Wired Magazine about the Chinese using Trojans to spy on us has spurred the latest Microsoft’s patches. Seems the Tibet issue is not limited as far as spying tactics are concerned when it comes to the Chinese Government. I am not sure I like the direction all this seems to be moving.

5) Last link before I have to head for downtown and meet the group for our prim-rib buffet at Fitzgerald’s casino, the ten weirdest computers. An article posted yesterday in the New Scientist Tech Magazine. I need to hurry so I’m just going to say here is the link, by.