Archive for March 2009

PC Problems

March 29, 2009

I know. Why do I even use a PC? Go with Apple or Linux and forget all the other nonsense. Well, I have some stuff that Apple does not support. Like Netflix downloads.

Last week I decide to take Microsoft at their word and finally install all the security updates to my XP professional + SP2 operating system. (professional? What a joke that is! over 100 updates and three major service packages and counting. What amateurs! That is why they have to claim professionalism. You would never guess they were professional by their actions.)

Right after installing the updates, I started having trouble with my Hauppague PVR-250 card. WIN-TV2000 became flakey. Flakey to the point of finally causing the computer to reboot repeatedly.

Virus? MS updates? No, bad video card. I replaced the new fancy video card with a known good older card and the system healed itself.

Bail Out

March 24, 2009

Bail out refers to the act of using a bucket to ship water out of a boat that is flooding. If done properly, it can save the boat from sinking. You can’t ‘bail out’ a boat that is already under water.

Picture this. A very high cliff. At the edge of the cliff is a large factory. Smokestacks everywhere. Suddenly the entire structure falls off the cliff. People scream, scurry around, claiming ‘it is too big to fall’. It is too big to fall mainly because it will make a hole large enough to drain the lake below when it hits the ground.

Lets save it! How!? Throw money at it!

So now you have a mob of politicians at the edge of the cliff throwing money down on top of the falling enterprise. More, more, more, money. How much does it need? How much have you got? Throw it all down there.

Before long the enterprise hits the bottom of the cliff, makes a large hole. drains the lake and in the process sucks all that money down with the water. Gone forever, enterprise, money, and lake. The only thing left are the politicians at the top of the cliff blaming each other for the mishap.

Now we all know that only a moron would throw money at a falling (failing) enterprise. By the time an enterprise gets into serious trouble most knowlegable stockholders have already moved on. Whats left is stuff that is going to hell regardless. Throwing money after it is like spitting into the wind. No, it is worse than that. At least if you spit into the wind it will come back and hit you in the face. Not so when you throw money down a rat hole.

So, why is it that politicians don’t know that? Well, that is not a fair question or even a logical question. That question indicates that the person asking does not understand what a politician is. Look it up in the dictionary.

Political solutions are political because they often favor an indefensible position on the part of the politician. What us commoners call common sense, the politician sees as inconvenient obstacles. You see, ALL politicians have an ax to grind. They ALL have a set of wants, wishes and desires some which may not have anything to do with the people who elected them. If the politician did not tell you what they were going to do if elected, or, worse, if they lied to about that, and even worser, if you believed those lies, they no longer have anything to keep them from running amuck. Regardless of what is in their oath of office or in the Bible their hand blasphemed. Once you sell your soul to the devil, you become his representative.

So, as we wonder why so many politicians appear to us to be morons, people who lack any common sense, we are simply not analyzing the situation correctly. We are in danger of being the morons.

Go back to the ‘falling of a cliff’ analogy. It is all over things are calming down when two weeks later a few survivors of the now defunct enterprise go swimming around the hole their enterprise made. They find a few bills came floating up to the surface. They pocket the bills. The public discovers their find and becomes indignant. So much so that they insist that the same ‘morons’ that threw the money down the rat hole take away the few bills from the survivors. Now we have AIG.

AIG is not the problem. The political mis-solution was the problem. It still is the problem. We need politicians who share and respect our morals, laws, and culture. We need to retire those who do not feel and act as we do.

USB, USB, USBe too slow

March 19, 2009

Wonderful interface, USB but worthless in some application.

Ever since ver 2.0 usb was introduced some misguided folk have tried applying it to applications not suited for such slow interfaces.

Chief among these are external hard drives. Apple is quick to caution the use of USB for external boot drives. They are too slow and will not work because they are so slow. Firewire is the answer.

One of the best deals out there with regard to external drive enclosures is the $25 VOX enclosure that does NAS, USB, and firewire. It works well in all modes but does not limit the user to the slow USB mode.

We have been using a VOX external drive enclosure with a medium sized IDE drive for about a year now running it over firewire. Works great. Just recently got the drive set up on NAS. That works great too and eliminates a box and cables around the ibook notebook.

Using airport wifi interface, we now have wireless access to internet as well as serious external storage.

Well worth the $25 it cost for the VOX unit.

Doctor Quack

March 18, 2009

It is probably not fair to label as quacks all medical folk who act unprofessionally. There are probably some within the that pool of quackery who don’t deserve to be there, but these exceptions may be very rare. Even if that is not the case, who in their right mind would seek treatment from a doctor who at times is unprofessional?

We can put up with loud ads, screaming sales people, impossible claims, and even mail-in rebates from folk selling beads, trinkets, and novelties but when medical professionals act this way, we have to question their ethics and professionalism.

In the Dallas area we have had a running battle between two eye doctors for some time now. Each claims to be better than the other. I could not recommend either.

If they were as good as they claim, they would not have to resort such aggressive advertising. I am pretty sure that the aggressive advertising is a result of a lack of patients. Listening to such nonsense results in a lack of patience on my part as well.

Cerberus Security Guard

March 15, 2009

This is a neat little program that allows you to disable a lot of windowsXP features that are less than useful and not needed by most users.

It is a free program. The download is free and the program is free.

Google on Cerberus Security Guard for the URL.

NERO

March 14, 2009

NERO is software that came ‘free’ with the purchase of my Sony DVD burner. Supposedly, nero can author and burn DVDs and CDs. In reality it is a coaster maker.

It seems to burn CDs and DVDs as long as they are data only. It has a real problem making DVDs that you can run in a standard DVD player.

My drive came with Nero 6. It has been updated once to a newer version. The current version is 7 or 8. Heck, they may even be up to version ten by now. I don’t know and have no reason to find out because I am not ‘upgrading’ to software that does not work.

If they come back and make version 6 work I might reconsider. Naw who am I kidding, these folk have already demonstrated a complete lack of useful talent. Life is too short to waste time on morons.

Besides there is plenty of DVD authoring software out there that does work.

Read the Fine Print

March 3, 2009

Where have I heard that before? Mmmmm….lets see, ALMOST EVERYWHERE!

For those not familiar with this phrase, welcome to our planet and here is what it means.

Fine print contains information disclosing why you would not want to involve yourself with what is being offered. With medicines, the fine print lists side effects which at times can be worse than the symptoms the medication is said to relieve. With radio advertising, the ‘the fine print’ is that fastspeak at the end of the commercial that essentially tells you everything you have heard up to that point is a lie. With written ads and contracts it is that tiny hidden paragraph of print that discloses why this is a bad deal. With on-line vendors, the fine print is usually hidden in the ‘privacy statement’ or the ‘returns policy’.

Appears that the Geeks.com in California have a return policy that declares ‘ALL SALES FINAL’. In other words, they have a policy of not accepting returns at all. This means that you need to very, very, very carefully read all the fine print you find in the information they provide describing the product before you buy.

Recently I bought what they described as an ASUS motherboard. It did turn out to be a motherboard originally made by ASUS but it also had an HP sticker indicating that Hewlett-Packard had excercised their ‘magic’ on the board, found it less than acceptable afterward, and discarded it. The geeks then found it and used it to make money off it after HP had trashed it.

I ended up getting taken. Okay, it does have an ASUS stock number but it does not have any documentation or drivers or support. No support by anyone including ASUS, the Geeks, or HP. It is not just a debranded board. It is junk. $52 worth of junk if you include the price of shipping.

Unhappy customers become pessimistic customers. If the deal is a good one it is probably over rated if it is offered on the geek website. Read the fine print and make sure you understand where the product came from, what is included in the package, and any additional parts-information-drivers-instructions that may not be included but needed to make the offering work.

In the case of a socket 478 motherboard be advised that it needs a manual, driver CD/DVD, I/O shield, and bag of hardware if you want to install it in a computer. If any of those things are not included, you are wasting your time and money. Even if those things are included, you still need to have in your possession or the ability to get the required CPU and memory.

Also, when you see the word ‘refurbished’ it means that there was something wrong at one time with the product you are considering. ‘Refurbished’ may mean that now there is nothing wrong with the product and it could very well be that if it was ‘refurbished’ correctly it is even better than new.

‘Refurbished’ can also mean that the thing was declared defective in error by an incompetent technician and merely repackaged and offered to you without any other consideration.

A better and nearly equivalent term is ‘used’. Worst case, it may not only the ‘used’ but also abused and finally put back in the box in an unusable condition.

It is usually a good idea to avoid ‘refurbished’ stuff especially if the price is too good to be true because it is too good to be true.

So we chalk this one up to experience. A very bad experience and vow that it will not happen again.