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Comments

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An SSD for Your Current Computer May Save the Cost of a New One (Video)

kriston Re:DUH (353 comments)

About three thousand like-minded individuals are wondering why this article was conceived and assigned to someone to write for ANY reason and why whatever that publication happened to be, why did they feel the need to publish this drivel?

about two weeks ago
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How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

kriston Re:ACARS (491 comments)

ACARS may have been turned off, but the radio interface used by the ACARS system was still pinging.

about three weeks ago
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How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

kriston ACARS (491 comments)

The article does not make it clear that the satellite signals in question are those of ARINC's ACARS data system, developed in 1978.

ACARS

about three weeks ago
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It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing

kriston Re:Not even close to the worst. (290 comments)

The CANDU reactor program got it right decades ago and keeps getting better, but since it's not from the US, and has the false reputation of promoting nuclear proliferation, the US is not interested.

CANDU also, unfortunately, has a politically-fueled false perception of promoting nuclear proliferation partly because it was falsely accused to have aided the Smiling Buddha program (that was CIRUS, not CANDU, but who's paying attention?).

Oh, there is that unavoidable 1% tritium release rate, though.

about a month ago
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It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing

kriston It is not "coal sludge." It's coal ash slurry. (290 comments)

It is not "coal sludge." It's coal ash slurry.

Did the OP even read the article? Even TFA refers to the flood as consisting of coal ash slurry.

There is no such thing as "coal sludge," but there is "coal slurry" which is something entirely different from coal ash slurry that allows transport of coal through pipelines in a very expensive process.

about a month ago
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Portal 2 Incompatible With SELinux

kriston Re:Gaming and security don't mix (212 comments)

Yeah, I agree, but many folks' computers with checkbook software are also used for lots of other uses, including games. My opinion of SELinux still applies.

Thanks for your thoughts.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux For Grandma?

kriston Lindows/Linspire, then gOS, oh, wait... (287 comments)

I would have recommended the excellent Lindows/Linspire, then gOS, but, oops, they've been forced out of existence.

After that I gave up.

about a month ago
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Portal 2 Incompatible With SELinux

kriston Gaming and security don't mix (212 comments)

Simply put, gaming and the security model enforced by SELinux, just don't mix. The whole idea of SELinux is to provide fine-grained control to system resources. You can't have that and expect acceptable gaming performance. The specialized way that Miles' uses memory is just one example. The modern "direct" graphics drives are another.

How to solve this? Simple. Don't play games on your security assets. The security provided by SELinux isn't really intended to protect your checkbook from buffer overflow attacks.

about a month ago
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Damming News From Washington State

kriston Re:William Mulholland didn't take action (168 comments)

But Mulholland did not draw down the water behind the St. Francis despite so many warnings of impending failure, and 600 people died as a result.

about a month and a half ago
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Damming News From Washington State

kriston William Mulholland didn't take action (168 comments)

William Mulholland didn't take action when the St. Francis Dam performed similarly, and after his inspection, killed up to 600 people twelve hours after his inspection.

about a month and a half ago
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Broadcom Releases Source For Graphics Stack; Raspberry Pi Sets Bounty For Port

kriston Re:The bug is as such, and was hard to fix (but no (77 comments)

Unfortunately, USB requires much CPU power. Some folks believe Intel pushed USB so hard specifically because it required higher-powered CPUs to run effectively, unlike the competing FireWire which is DMA.

about a month and a half ago
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Russia's Dyatlov Pass Incident May Have Been Explained By Modern Science

kriston I still think it was the local jets making noise (110 comments)

Some folks still think it was local jet traffic that made the noise that scared them all so much that they ran out of the tent, lost their lights and senses of direction, and died of exposure. It's just much more likely than a freak sound event.

about 2 months ago
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Hard Drive Reliability Study Flawed?

kriston Not just flawed, but includes non-enterprise drive (237 comments)

As I posted before, this study had included non-enterprise drives which any thoughtful enterprise data preservation expert would not have ever used for enterprise data storage.

about 3 months ago
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Bletchley Park's Bitter Dispute Over Its Future

kriston Bletchley Park is a ruin (99 comments)

I visited part of Bletchley Park in the late 2000s and it was a ruin. The guard at the gate house said they are very much in need of money. The buildings were falling down.

Sure, it is a site of historical importance, but even the Enigma-cracking computers like the esteemed Alan Turing's bombe were dismantled and scrapped decades ago, and the hundreds of subsequent generations which won the war of the Atlantic are all over the world in both their original form, as replicas, and as computer emulations.

about 3 months ago
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Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?

kriston Re:Amazing how times change. (444 comments)

I just toileted three Seagate Barracuda drives of varying vintage, from three to five years old. I don't understand why my Western Digital, Samsung, Hitachi, and Toshiba drives don't crap out so soon.

In particular, Samsung F1 drives just flat out refuse to die, so why isn't any of that rubbing off on new owner Seagate?

about 3 months ago
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Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?

kriston Re:Amazing how times change. (444 comments)

Was this a Seagate scandal or actually a MiniScribe scandal (acquired by Maxtor, acquired by Seagate)?

about 3 months ago
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Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?

kriston Re:Hitachi Deathstar is the most reliable now? (444 comments)

Yes. The IBM "Pixie Dust" technology wasn't quite ready or understood well enough to be manufactured in a repeatable, reliable way.

Though sometimes quoted that this was the reason IBM exited the hard drive manufacturing business, it was a minor factor at best. IBM had been seeking a buyer for that business unit well before Pixie Dust spawned the annoying DeskStar "DeathStar" jokes.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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myOpenID to shut down in February

kriston kriston writes  |  about 7 months ago

kriston (7886) writes "This is an email sent to myOpenID.com users this afternoon.

Hello,

I wanted to reach out personally to let you know that we have made the decision to end of life the myOpenID service. myOpenID will be turned off on February 1, 2014.

In 2006 Janrain created myOpenID to fulfill our vision to make registration and login easier on the web for people. Since that time, social networks and email providers such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yahoo! have embraced open identity standards. And now, billions of people who have created accounts with these services can use their identities to easily register and login to sites across the web in the way myOpenID was intended.

By 2009 it had become obvious that the vast majority of consumers would prefer to utilize an existing identity from a recognized provider rather than create their own myOpenID account. As a result, our business focus changed to address this desire, and we introduced social login technology. While the technology is slightly different from where we were in 2006, I’m confident that we are still delivering on our initial promise – that people should take control of their online identity and are empowered to carry those identities with them as they navigate the web.

For those of you who still actively use myOpenID, I can understand your disappointment to hear this news and apologize if this causes you any inconvenience. To reduce this inconvenience, we are delaying the end of life of the service until February 1, 2014 to give you time to begin using other identities on those sites where you use myOpenID today.

Speaking on behalf of Janrain, I truly appreciate your past support of myOpenID.

Sincerely,
Larry


Larry Drebes, CEO, Janrain, Inc.
"

Link to Original Source
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Will France quit nuclear?

kriston kriston writes  |  about a year ago

kriston (7886) writes "Reuters is reporting that France is considering cutting back on nuclear power. France went so big on nuclear they are a net exporter of nuclear-generated electricity which has caused severe economic and logistical problems. That's part of the reason they are cutting back. Is the other premise of this article that considers a nuclear engineering career crisis somewhat overblown?"
Link to Original Source
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Chumby Industries out of business

kriston kriston writes  |  about 2 years ago

kriston writes "Chumby Industries informally announces via Facebook and their blog that they re out of business.

Duane has taken possession of remaining stock and is selling it off.

Very sad."

Link to Original Source
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Microsoft invests $300 million in B&N Nook

kriston kriston writes  |  about 2 years ago

kriston writes "CNNMoney is reporting that Microsoft has invested a 17.6% stake in Barnes & Noble's Nook business unit, valuing the e-book business at $1.7 billion which is twice the value of the entire Barnes & Noble company itself."
Link to Original Source
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Amazon issues 9-day credit for AWS outage

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

kriston writes "Dear AWS Customer,

Starting at 12:47AM PDT on April 21st, there was a service disruption (for a period of a few hours up to a few days) for Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS that primarily involved a subset of the Amazon Elastic Block Store (“EBS”) volumes in a single Availability Zone within our US East Region. You can read our detailed summary of the event here:
http://aws.amazon.com/message/65648

We’ve identified that you had an attached EBS volume or a running RDS database instance in the affected Availability Zone at the time of the disruption. Regardless of whether your resources and application were impacted, we are going to provide a 10 day credit (for the
period 4/18-4/27) equal to 100% of your usage of EBS Volumes, EC2 Instances and RDS database instances that were running in the affected Availability Zone. This credit will be automatically applied to your April bill, and you don’t need to do anything to receive it.
You can see your service credit by logging into your AWS Account Activity page after you receive your upcoming billing statement.

Last, but certainly not least, we want to apologize. We know how critical the services we provide are to our customers’ businesses and we will do everything we can to learn from this event and use it to drive improvement across our services.

Sincerely,
The Amazon Web Services Team

This message was produced and distributed by Amazon Web Services, LLC, 410 Terry Avenue
North, Seattle, Washington 98109-5210"

Link to Original Source
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Cherrypal mini-laptop now runs Android

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

kriston (7886) writes "The Cherrypal Asia laptop at http://www.cherrypal.com/ is now shipping with Google Android installed. This replaces the older Cherrypal Asia mini laptops that were running Windows CE and Linux based. Both laptops run the ARM9-based VIA 8505 SoIC platform at 533 MHz with 256 megabytes of RAM and 2 gigabytes of NAND flash. The $148 version has a 1024x600 screen while the sub-$100 model runs 800x480. I'm looking forward to seeing how Android can squeeze more throughput out of the VIA 8505 since Windows CE didn't do such a great job on the original Cherrypal Asia."
Link to Original Source
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Why do some devices refuse to charge via USB?

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

kriston (7886) writes "I have lots of MP3 players, mobile phones, video devices, and game controllers. All of them can plug into USB sockets, but a curious few simply refuse to charge. The chief offenders are Motorola phones, Creative MP3 players, and most annoyingly, the Sony PlayStation 3 controllerss. Simply putting +5V at 500 mA on the port is not getting these things to charge. What is the magic secret ingredient these chargers have that make these USB devices start charging?"
Link to Original Source
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What desktop search engine for a shared volume?

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

kriston (7886) writes "Searching data on a shared volume is tedious. If I try to use a Windows desktop search engine on a volume with hundreds of gigabytes the indexing process takes days and the search results are slow and unsatisfying. I'm thinking of an agent that runs on the server that regularly indexes and talks to the desktop machines running the search interface. How do you integrate your desktop search application with your remote file server without forcing each desktop to index the hundred gigabyte volume on its own?"
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FCC approves satellite radio merger in 3-2 vote

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 5 years ago

kriston writes "FCC approves the Sirius takeover of XM Satellite Radio in a 3-2 vote Friday night. They won't be required to include HD Radio but they must pay $19 million in fines for repeater anomalies, set aside 8% of their channels for public interests and minorities, and maintain a price cap for three years. The final vote was from Deborah Taylor Tate and she cast it when the companies agreed to the fines."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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Installing Java for desktop use in /opt/java

kriston kriston writes  |  about two weeks ago

Putting symlink in /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins for libnpjp2.so -> /opt/java/jre/lib/amd64/libnpjp2.so

Trying to run a Java app from, say, http://kriston.net/games/, the Java runtime might still refuse to work on the principal of "security reasons." Feh.

Run this as the normal (non-root) user: /opt/java/jre/bin/jcontrol
Click on "Security" tab and select "Medium" which allows the Java plugin to run unsigned Java apps with a prompt.

That is all.

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Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook problems

kriston kriston writes  |  about 2 months ago

The Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook has a number of problems that require too much attention. Perhaps that's why I bought one new today for over $400 off list price. This Ultrabook has a 12.5" 1920x1080 screen, touch screen, Intel Core i5, 4 gigs of memory, 128 GB SSD, and has a nifty screen flipping feature so you can use it like a tablet.

Here are a few problems so far.

The keyboard is bad and the keys stick up unevenly. Normally this isn't a problem but the white LED backlighting points out to you which keys are jutting out. It's okay to type on but I prefer to flip it into tablet mode and plugging in a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard.

More importantly, the touch screen can stop working. What happens is the two I2C HID Devices under Human Interface Devices are disabled by Windows because it "detected a problem." This happens randomly but most often when coming back from sleep. I got used to the touch screen, especially in tablet mode, so I'm not sure I want this feature disabled. Simply doing 'Scan for hardware changes" in the "Action" window will re-enable them but they will eventually stop working again. So updating the BIOS should fix this. The BIOS update from Dell from A03 to A04 updates the BIOS, another Intel firmware (likely the touchpad's firmware since it's an Intel device), and a third firmware, and reboots. Following this, updating the touchpad drivers from Dell should do the trick and I will be watching this for success.

Finally, updating to Windows 8.1 complains that my user is not an Administrator. Well, this is, of course, incorrect. What I did to fix this is to remove the Windows Update 2871389 from the system, reboot (takes a long time), run Windows Update and install updates again, reboot (again takes a long time), and then go back to the App Store to download it again. Finally, now I'm waiting for over three gigabytes to download.

The screen is beautiful and it's too bad Dell and Intel didn't test this Ultrabook enough. They must have lost a ton of money on this model. My local store had around 25 new in stock at fire-sale clearance prices. You can't get a 12.5" 1920x1080 Ultrabook at anything near this price, let alone a Core i5 with 4 gigabytes of memory, 128 GB SSD, and a "carbon fiber" case, whatever that means. Just make sure you have the patience and problem-solving skills to work out the problems.

Windows Experience Index details (before Windows 8.1):
Processor 6.9
Memory 5.9 (bummer)
Graphics 5.7 (Flunky Intel graphics)
Gaming Graphics 6.5 (Flunky Intel graphics)
Disk 8.1 (Superb!!).

A great value for a new Ultrabook over $400 off the list price. Too bad for Dell's profits on this troublesome Ultrabook.

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Why aren't Android binaries stripped for performance?

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I was doing some reverse-engineering of my Nook Color with Cyanogenmod just to see where they store the data for Angry Birds. Most of the configuration stuff is in Lua, which is interesting, but I also noticed that the shared objects have copious help text and even documentation inside them which would never be seen by the end user. These are space-, memory-, and cpu-constrained devices. Why aren't these data stripped out?

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Bootstrapping compilers

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

This evening I'm building OpenJDK 7 for FreeBSD and it requires me to install an older version of Java to build this version of Java. It reminds me of when we would use the Solaris compiler to build a nominal version of gcc and then use that gcc to build gcc again, and then use the built gcc to build the final gcc a third time.

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Scanning documents and cleaning them up

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Years ago I got into the habit of taking handwritten notes and scanning them into the computer. I then have a digital record and no paper lying around to get lost, stolen, or cluttered.

A problem has arisen with this recently. Late-model multi-function copiers like the Xerox ColorQube scan at such a high resolution and sensitivity that they capture not just the handwritten notes but the texture of the paper. This is extremely annoying because all I want is the writing, of course, and even the "Remove Background" feature of the Xerox ColorQube just doesn't.

So, for the time being, here is a cheap way to remove backgrounds. Load the scanned document into your favorite editor and reduce it to sixteen color palette.

For example, in Paint Shop Pro 4, my favorite for quick-and-dirty fixes, select Colors...Decrease Color Depth...16 Colors and select "Palette Windows'" then "Nearest color" and finally "OK." This magically removes the background noise and so far it has worked on nearly everything I scan.

Be sure you do this after scaling down your image. PSP 4 calls this "Resample" which, by the way, is the only correct way to resize an image in PSP 4.

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Solving Google Earth's bad performance

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Forget CentOS, who are taking too long with 6.x. Amazon AWS with Red Hat Linux 6.1 for $0.085/hour for t1.small is excellent and $0.02/hour for t1.micro is even more excellent for high-availability services.

For file backup services, the S3 reduced-redundancy storage for $0.093/GB is a steal, but make sure you convert your storage buckets to RRS. The Windows Home Server plugin does not set RRS so use an Amazon EC2 instance to run convert_to_rrs.py and quickly convert your bucket to RRS for big savings. The AWS console won't work on huge buckets, nor do the popular Windows-based S3 tools. This might cancel out some of the savings.

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How to kick-start Windows 7 updates

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Do you want to kick-start Windows 7 updates for a computer you've built or set up for someone else? This is what I do and it mitigates the threats to newly-installed machines. It installs certain libraries and other dependencies that trigger Windows Update to give you the latest and greatest. You can let the user do the Service Pack updates at a later time. In this situation we are bootstrapping the update process for most of the important libraries and software you care about without buying Microsoft Office and installing the most important updates before you leave the user to his own devices.

Download and install the following software in this order on another PC and put them on a USB drive.
Do not connect your new computer to the internet yet.
Run these installers in this order. Nothing should ask you to reboot, but if it does, let it reboot and continue with the next one.

Microsoft Word Viewer 2003 (the latest is Word 2003).
Microsoft Visio Viewer
Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007
Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007 SP1 Update
Microsoft Excel Viewer 2007
Microsoft File Format Converters
Microsoft DirectX Redist
Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 (Windows Vista and XP Only, x86 and x64 are in the same download)
Microsoft .NET 4.0 Full (x86 and x64 are in the same download)
Microsoft Security Essentials

Restart your computer.
Go to the Windows Update control panel, click "Check for updates," and then install all of the Required and Optional ones.
After you're done with all this, go to the Windows Update control panel and ask it to install "for all Microsoft products". This is somewhat more difficult to find.
Go to Windows Update and hit "Check for updates" again and install everything.

Note that Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1 includes .NET 2.x and 1.x inside it. Windows 7 has 3.5 SP1 built in already. Windows Vista may or may not depending how old it is.

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Cherrypal now runs Android

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

The Cherrypal Asia laptop at http://www.cherrypal.com/ is now shipping with Google Android installed. This replaces the older Cherrypal Asia mini laptops that were running Windows CE and Linux based. Both laptops run the ARM9-based VIA 8505 SoIC platform at 533 MHz with 256 megabytes of RAM and 2 gigabytes of NAND flash. The $148 version has a 1024x600 screen while the sub-$100 model runs 800x480. I'm looking forward to seeing how Android can squeeze more throughput out of the VIA 8505 since Windows CE didn't do such a great job on the original Cherrypal Asia.

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Review of ABS mechanical keyboard

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 3 years ago

[Reposted from Newegg because I'm proud of my review.]

Blurb: "Great feel and nice loud sound, but not a Model M clone"

Pros: Loud, ringing reverberation is just like keyboards of old PC clones not made by IBM (see Cons).
The keyboard is only a little larger than the keys take up. This is a major bonus if you like small keyboards but don't want to compromise on keys.
FULL SIZE caps lock key for Unix people who remap CTRL to caps lock. This is rather rare on any keyboard (and I am still searching for a Model M clone with full-sized caps lock either).
The keyboard is nice and heavy as nature intended, with amazing, grippy rubber feet (and really good rubber on the risers, too, also rare).
Stiff, solid, and a very tasteful matte black finish that isn't painted on (the plastic is black).

Cons: The case reverberates a bit with a ring. Your table may amplify or muffle it. I don't happen to care but you might.
This is not a Lexmark Model M keyboard clone and does not pretend to be. The reviewers who think this is a Model M are confusing this with another type of old-school "clicky" keyboard.

Other Thoughts: This type of keyboard is not the same as a Model M. The clicking noise comes from the keys landing, not from the (very faint) click in the key mechanisms themselves. However, the click happens at the moment of keystroke actuation which gives this a nice touch. I didn't feel any of the "halfway down" actuation some other reviewers claimed.

This keyboard is an excellent a clone of those "other" clicky keyboards that came with Compaq IBM PC clones in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I have about twenty real IBM/Lexmark Model M keyboards in various states of repair. Those boards click loudly as the key is struck and also when the key hits the back plate. This one only really clicks when it hits the back plate. If you had a PC clone in the late 1980s or early 1990s you know this feel. I think some people call it the "Cherry" feel.
It's not better or worse than the Lexmark Model M; it is just different.

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Cherrypal Africa Windows review

kriston kriston writes  |  about 4 years ago

The unit is a very small and light, slightly customized version of those $100 laptops that have been spreading across Asia for the past year or so. The model I ordered runs Windows CE 6.0 and a suite of custom installed programs like various media players and document viewers. The Youtube application does not work but the rest work fine. The machine is rather slow but it browses the web just fine. The word processor is also good. Some applications are formatted for Pocket PC (the menu bar is on the bottom instead of the top) but Windows CE users are used to this. A benchmark I ran says 200 MHz but I believe that speed is actually due to power management which is always adjusting the CPU speed based on your usage of the unit.

My unit came with some nasty glue that I had to clean off, presumably from stickers that were removed from the original manufacturer. The Cherrypal brand stickers are coming off, too.

I had to order this thing four different times. The credit card processor changed each time, too, but no money was stolen from me. The Cherrypal people say the delays and strange circumstances were due to hacking attempts but my own observations make me speculate that too many customers complained to the credit card ordering processor which caused Cherrypal's account to be terminated for undelivered goods. I persisted through four different ordering processors since December of 2009 and eventually got my unit in late March 2010.

When you order the Cherrypal Africa you are not guaranteed any particular processor type, memory, or screen size, just the minimum specs. This means that your processor can be ARM, MIPS, some x86 variant, or maybe even a PowerPC. Most people seem to have gotten what I have, which is a "VIA" ARM-VT8500 and I'm not really sure if that's the real "VIA" from Taiwan. It also has 128 meg of ram, WiFi, and 2 gigabytes of NAND flash.

In conclusion, I expected what I had received, which is an extremely basic laptop. One thing I didn't expect though was that the "Windows XP" spec was changed to just "Windows" when I had originally ordered it. If I had realized that it is Windows CE I would have ordered the Linux version instead.

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Install Go-OO version of OpenOffice on Fedora

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

OpenOffice, the free desktop office application suite, is almost totally compatible with Microsoft Office. It does not support *.docx files and other proprietary (non-free) elements that are needed to share documents with users of Microsoft Office. Novell has solved this with their own version of OpenOffice but it is only for Windows and SuSE Linux. For Fedora users the Go-OO version can be used. Go-OO is the special version of OpenOffice with the non-free elements which Novell's version is also derived from. It should be noted that Fedora's version of OpenOffice is also Go-OO with the non-free portions stripped out.

The challenge is to replace the OpenOffice that cannot be removed from Fedora with this new, enhanced Go-OO version. It's not easy because OpenOffice is a core desktop application and Fedora forbids its removal without removing about 300 other packages that make up the desktop operating system. We're going to force an installation of Go-OO on my Fedora system, uninstall the "required" OpenOffice, and then force another installation of Go-OO on top of that to get things cleaned up.

Go to http:/www.go-oo.org/ and read the documentation.

Run Go-OO's downloader script in its own directory:
        mkdir GO-OO ; cd GO-OO
        wget http://go-oo.org/download/download-go-oo.py
        chmod a+rx ./download-go-oo.py ./download-go-oo.py

Forcibly install everything it downloaded:
        sudo rpm --install --force *.rpm

Remove the original OpenOffice packages:
        sudo rpm --erase openoffice.org-math-core openoffice.org-presenter-screen openoffice.org-opensymbol-fonts openoffice.org-core openoffice.org-math openoffice.org-brand openoffice.org-calc-core openoffice.org-impress-core openoffice.org-writer-core openoffice.org-graphicfilter openoffice.org-draw-core openoffice.org-langpack-en openoffice.org-xsltfilter openoffice.org-impress openoffice.org-writer openoffice.org-calc openoffice.org-extendedPDF

Install Go-OO forcibly again:
        sudo rpm --install --force *.rpm

Now it's all set. I can read and write *.docx and *.xlsx files in Fedora. It's also much faster than Fedora's OpenOffice.

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HP MediaSmart Windows Home Server update notes

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I'm not sure why, but we bought another HP MediaSmart Windows Home Server with the intention of gifting the old one to someone else. This version is really different. Not only is the server two gigabytes of memory and uses a 64-bit CeLeron processor, it also has a large number of features that were not present in the refurbished Sempron 512-megabyte HP MediaSmart server. I'm not really sure why but this newer model has Amazon S3 backup service and a huge number of new features that aren't present on the Sempron-based version. We updated the server software on both models but only the Intel CeLeron model has the new features.

If you're going to try out Windows Home Server to automatically and effortlessly backup your Windows machines, get a non-refurbished Intel-based HP MediaSmart server. All of these new features are in the HP MediaSmart software and not WHS itself. I'm not sure why HP did this but it's eye-opening.

I'm going to try to install the Amazon S3 and other software add-ins to our older, refurbished model by doing a "factory restore" from the Server Recovery Disc that came with the non-refurbished model and see if these awesome features get installed on the older server.

Very interesting difference. It might be that the newer one has two gigabytes of memory and the other one only has 512 megabytes. It's possible the features are dependent on the memory specifications of the server, but I doubt it.

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Windows Home Server the Sleeper Killer App

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Windows Home Server has a really neat feature. Install the Windows Home Server Connector and configure it to back up your computer. In a day or so take the hard drive out of the computer and throw it into a lake. Get a new blank hard drive. Boot the computer from the Windows Home Server PC Recover disc. YOUR COMPUTER COMES BACK.

This is the killer sleeper Windows app of the new century!!

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Flashblock getting fooled

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

The Mozilla Flashblock plugin is getting fooled by advertisements on some sites like urbandictionary.com which use a countermeasure (seems to be iframe abuse). Installation of version 1.5.11a2 from the special link http://flashblock.mozdev.org/installation1.html solves the problem for now.

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Why Cox Cable's video service is stupid

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Here's the stupid thing about Cox Cable Television in the Northern VA area.

Technicians are going crazy yanking old cable off the telephone poles to install multi-wavelength fiber and switched-video-compatible boxes because they ran out of bandwidth to compete with all the HD channels that the other services, like FiOS and satellite, offer.

The stupid thing is that FiOS has the same 1 gigahertz video capacity that cable does (not including Video-on-Demand which is served by Internet on FiOS and through hidden video channels by Cox). Likewise, FiOS has twice the SD channels and HD channels without the need for switched-video to solve a perceived bandwidth problem.

This doesn't make sense. I did some digging. For now I still use cable internet so I scanned the Cox Cable signal on my HDTV and found out that nearly all of Cox Cable's SD channels are still analog. This means that most of Cox Cable's 1 gigahertz of bandwidth is consumed by analog channels at 6 MHz per channel, even though you can fit more than 10 digital channels in one analog channel if they were to use digital instead.

Why is Cox Cable spending so much money installing switched-video if all this bandwidth is available?
Why isn't Cox Cable using digital for their SD channels?

Apparently the bandwidth required for Video-on-Demand is the business reason for the switched-video upgrade, but switched-video is not just for VoD. It is also used on non-VoD channels because of a system-wide bandwidth shortage on Cox Cable. This means if nobody in a neighborhood watches Food Network HD, it gets turned off until someone tunes it in again.

The cause of the problem is that Cox Cable is still using 6-MHz-per-channel analog for most SD channels.

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Godwin's Law for Software Engineering

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 5 years ago

In professional Software Engineering circles we debate topics with real-world applications.
Sometimes, the debate must be aborted when a participant quotes one of the following so-called pundits. Most of them are academics or failed dot-com company founders.
The key point here is that "professional Software Engineers," referring to people who make a living actually accomplishing real work on real systems.

Here is the list of Godwin's Law violations.
Quoting them makes you forfeit your side of the debate:

Joel "On Software" Spolski
Daniel "I always wear black" Bernstein
Randal "I hacked into Intel and all I got was this felony conviction" Schwartz

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OLPC Satellite Book Beaming

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 5 years ago

This is the tool that enables the partnership between OLPC and WorldSpace Satellite radio so important.

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/BookBeaming

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Google Apps, Writely, Tonic Systems

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 5 years ago

[Written as a response to a LinkedIn.com question concerning the use Google and Adobe's online applications instead of Microsoft Office]

I dare suggest that the Writely and Tonic Systems applications that became Google Apps are very simple and rather slow when compared to OpenOffice.org or Microsoft Office.

The global accessibility is appealing if you are not able to use an internet file sharing service or a remote login program like LogMeIn.com but you lose a large number of important features using Google Apps and you sacrifice your personal, and more importantly, your business', privacy and security.

Finally, if you are concerned about privacy, you should know that Google's agreement reserves the right to anonymously search, index, and catalog your "private" files. This is the same thing that Google does with Gmail. While they currently only use this for targetted advertisements you should be aware that they are scanning, indexing, and cataloging all of your data.

Google exists to scan, index, and catalog the entire body of data in the world. If you like that idea, then you are contributing to it by using Google Apps.
If you want to preserve your personal and business security you should not use it.

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Consumer Products for Computing 2008

kriston kriston writes  |  more than 6 years ago

More consumer products for computing and an update.

1) Logitech Marble mouse for daily use. Kensington Expert Mouse for continuous use.

2) SIIG MiniTouch Plus PS/2 keyboard with 5-year warranty appears to be out of production but there is plenty of stock on hand at all the major retailers that report stock levels.
This same keyboard is also sold as the generic BTC-5100C keyboard in either ivory or charcoal gray.
The recent SIIG production models actually have "BTC-5100C" in the model number, but only the SIIG model has a 5-year warranty. The BTC version is about $15 cheaper but is only warranted through the vendor.
Both brands of this fabulous sub-$40 keyboard easily trump all the $60+ Happy Hacking keyboards since they have the backspace and back-tick keys in the expected places for PC users, and the full-width caps lock key is suitable for use as your control key.
The most recent models have a clean, silent feel. Earlier SIIG models have squeaky, noisy feel, which can be remedied by a warranty replacement which supplies you with the most current SIIG-branded BTC model.

3) The Hawking H-U2PS2 PS/2 to USB converter is the only PS/2 converter that properly accounts for keybounce elimination, multiple key chording, and can keep up with touch-typists. It also has special support for all the key sequences required by Sun machines.

4) Dell's cheaper flat-panel monitors. Even though these are TN panels they are clear, bright, and don't have stuck pixels.

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