Saturday, August 27, 2005

10 Years After

Thanks to Slashdot Review I was reminded that August 24th was the Ten Year Anniversary of the release of Windows 95.

(Or, as those of us who are old enough to remember Redmond's previous iterations the minimally acceptable version. That being mostly due to the fact that, having one the appeal in the Apple Look-and-Feel lawsuit, the boys up in WA pretty much made the thing a clone of the Macintosh UI.)

And so, Redmond's seemingly unstoppable march into the Homes, Offices and pockets of the entire world jumped to light-speed.

It does little good to argue the superiority of OS/2. Redmond had pulled out of the deal and IBM was, at best ambivalent. By the time the Y2K issue came to a head 5 years later, only a few were tardy enough in the transition to require hunkering down with their well-proven OS/2 environments and, having weathered the storm, finally convert to the latest Mr. Bill had to offer. (To this day, I can't swear that every customer site at my day-job has transitioned every machine.)

Ten Years.

This is a HUGE number in the dog-years we use to measure technological devices.

Consider just how far we have come.

A quick Google (IBaNAaV) of "windows95 minimum" yields this info. on the second hit:
(Lord only knows WHY the U of IN thinks they still need this on their website...)

The minimum hardware requirements for Microsoft Windows 95 are:

* A personal computer with a 386DX, 20MHz or higher processor

* 4MB of memory (8MB recommended)

* At least 70MB of available hard disk space for installation

* One 3.5" high-density disk drive or a CD-ROM drive

* VGA or higher resolution graphics card

Think about that for a moment. How far we have come.

The PalmPilot I purchased the next year reminded me of my original Macintosh, both in user experience, capabilities and just plain fun.

And now, Dell Axim x50v in my pocket (well, to be technical, on my belt) blows the doors off that original Windows machine, many times over. And runs a superior version of the operating system, more akin to XP than 95.

Ain't this a GREAT time to be a Geek on the Go? ;-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

True Music Legend Passes

While looking up information on funeral arrangements for a friend's grandfather, the KC Star informed me of the passing of Robert Moog. As much as Leo Fender and his fellows affected the rock-n-roll revolution of the '50s and '60s, Moog affected the music from the '70s to the present day. My first 'technology' job was working in the recording studio at the Conservatory of Music, KC. Our pride and joy was a full Moog Synthesizer housed in the second floor of the old Russell Stover mansion. In the '70s Wendy, then Walter Carlos led an avant-garde music explosion. Chip Davis, whose early Fresh Aire recordings used harpsichord and string tracks recorded here in KC, was another innovator in the new 'electronic' music. (I once met Chip's father while visiting the shop where he was constructing a harpsichord to be used in the Omaha based recording studios where the other tracks were laid down. Extra music-geek-trivia points for the first person to e-mail me the name of the hit recordings produced by this Omaha-based recording studio, whose popularity allowed the luxury of producing the high-quality classically-inspired Fresh-Aire records, which had zero commercial potential at the time.)

Now-a-days, entire recordings are produced in home studios that would have required hundreds of musicians and thousands of dollars 30 years ago. Mostly through the direct lineage of Moog's electronic descendents.

You never heard Moog or Fender.

But you heard the fruits of their labor. And the world was forever changed.

RIP Robert Moog

His life and his life's work spanned Millenniums.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Early Adoption of Hand-Held Computing

Some might argue that the true right-of-passage of any new product is:

Product Placement.

Yes, those Oh-So-Subtle (or not) inclusion of Brand-Name products into your favorite movie.

Apple has made much hay with it's distinctive PowerBooks. (WinDoZe notebooks are at a dis-advantage as they do not have a immediately recognizable look that relates to BRAND.)

While surfing the web this afternoon, I was reminded of one such product placement for another Apple product in the movie I was half-watching.

The Movie: Under Siege 2
(I like Stephen Segal movies on the whole. I like the message that there ARE still heros, not just the anti-heros Hollywood seems to prefer.)

The Product:
The Newton.
(An amazing technology platform, ahead of it's time. Killed off by Jobs in his grand home-coming to the fruity fun-house. Mostly because it was John's baby.)

Did you miss it? It is a real hacker moment.

Geek points for the first person to send me it's usage.

Extra super-geek points for the first person to e-mail me the earlier '90s movie that featured hacking with another early hand-held device.

Valuable prize awarded for highest points.
(Well, you will get something.)

Send e-Mail to: Mr. Gadgets loves Hand-Held Computer Cameos!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bye bye dih dah?

A long-time friend and fellow Amateur Radio operator sent me an e-mail with this subject recently, along with this link:

Here is my reply, though it is more some info. (links added for this post) on my, now infrequent, HAM Radio activity:

I was actually expecting this a long time ago. I decided to acquire my Expert Ticket while the 5wpm was still in effect. (Given the pre-disposition amongst Hams to judge based on this subject. It isn't much, but it is something.) My Radio-Activity was rekindled by the big Tornado heading through the William Jewell campus my daughter's Senior year of HS. The dorm where she was supposed to live took a couple of years to re-hab. While monitoring the emergency radio nets, I directed some of the emergency communications vans to unfamiliar locales North of the river.

After passing my tests, in early June, I participated in my first full field-day and helped facilitate the extra points given for a Satellite contact by tracking the bird with a hand-held yagi. Also did quite a bit of QRP work with nothing but wire thrown up into trees or a couple of portable whip setups. Some voice, but mostly PSK31 a digital mode which uses the Sound Card as a modem. I even had a couple halting CW contacts! The PSK31 is really fun. I could 'talk' all across the US easily and worked well down into South America and some Europeans. All on 5w and a bit of wire. Still amazes me.

Anyway, have not powered up any of the radio gear for at least a year. I guess I should sell the whole lot off, while I still can.

73 de AB0YO (MrGadgets)


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

There and Back Again - Episode 1 - Back from Indy

My oldest friend, (the one person other than myself I can count on to read this) sent me an e-mail inquiring as to my return trip while I was still in Indiana.
This post will close the book on this particular trip.
The rest of the trip there:
I did indeed board a second plane at approx. 6:30pm (Eastern Time in Motor City) that arrived, by the time you make the change to Central time, five minutes later in IndianaCity.
Out at the street I find the Rental Car stop and wait.  And wait.  And wait...
Now, to be fair, I am used to this to a certain extent.  I may have mentioned before, my rental-car company of choice is National.  (Now merged with Alalmo, though the merger is not reflected by joint operations at all destinations.)  This is not because they are the biggest, nor because they have the most frequent bus service to their lot.  On the contrary, It seems that the pattern is more like Three Hertz busses and two Avis busses pass by trolling for customers be for the Blue/Green NationAlamo (my suggested name for the merged company...  ;->) arrives and I can schlep my bags on-board.  In fact I most notice this pattern when traveling to a frequent destination: Boston's Logan airport.  I once made the comment to the young ladies working the National desk in Providence's TFGreen airport, that they could send some vans all the way UP to Boston and STILL come by more frequently than the on-site operation at Logan.
Why, you may ask, do I rent with National, given this complaint?  Two Words:
Emerald Aisle.
Unlike their four-letter competitor, who are happily to drive me to a reserved car, with Emerald Aisle, I get to choose my vehicle.
MrGadgets is a 'hefty' guy and this makes for a more comfortable driving experience.  Plus, they will, on occasion, get a bit behind populating the Aisle with four-door mid-size models.  In this case, they will make a SUV or Mini-Van available to me at no additional cost.  I find that being a bit higher than surrounding traffic is a major advantage, especially when driving in a new city.
This particular trip there was a wait.  There was also a message...
When I got there there was a Hertz bus PARKED at the pick-up area.  Another arrived and pulled over to check on the first.  And Avis bus passed, with no reason to stop.  A third Black/Yellow bus rumbled by.  Meanwhile the White/Red Avis bus arrived and began disgorging travelers returning home.  As the FOURTH Hertz bus came into view, I noticed there was an Avis right behind.
Soooo, this time there were FOUR, count them FOUR Hertz and THREE AVIS busses.  And at one point there were THREE Herz and TWO AVIS busses present AT THE SAME TIME.
As the big Hertz tigers began to rumble off, the Blue/Green NationAlamo finally came into view.
TELL me their is not God and that he doesn't have a sense of humor.
The drive was un-eventful and I arrived at the Residence Inn much the worse for wear, walking into my room almost exactly 12 hours after I had left my drive-way.  At that point I could have driven to Indy, turned around and been most of the way BACK to KC.
Sholda drove...
The week itself varied:
Lows: exhausting (working each break to make up for set-up time lost on Monday's trip in and just the nature of this Client) and exasperating (lost a key bit of tech.)
Highs included interesting eateries/shops.  (Ate some good food, including Russian, shopped some good stores, mostly Half-Priced Books and generally had more good than bad.)
I must say the Northern area of Indy and it's sub-urbs is obviously inhabited by well-heeled Hoosiers.
Only thing I regret is not being able to meet-up with a friend for coffee.  Maybe next time.
Like I said, I was exhausted at the end of each day.
One expected low was my now-dreaded trip home.  This turned out to be un-founded.
Arrived back at airport in plenty of time.  (Discovered back-road.)
Shopping Tip:  BrookStone had assortments of tips for the iGo power adaptor system.  These were reasonable choices and much cheaper than the individual RadioShack prices for same.  I will have to check other locations to verify if this is a regular offering.  (E-Mail with any reports.)
Unusual Ethnic Food Selection:  Indy has a new Kolache Factory franchise.  Kolache's are a Chech invention featuring dough surrounding meats and sauces (entree choices) or fruits/jams (dessert.)  They are franchised out of Texas of all places.  I first encountered Kolache Factory locations in Houston.  Quite good, give them a try, if you get a chance.
Flight home (my only reason for flying) was a dinky plane.  I was cramped but it was quite short and un-eventful.  I arrived home safe and sound a full hour and a half faster than having returned by car.
Shoulda...   Oh Heck! You get the idea.
The Joys of Business Travel (tm)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

How 2 Phish

I know I seem to be fixated on this topic, but it is Huge.
I received no fewer than three Phishing messages today looking for all the world like a message from PayPal.
Looking at the HTML code that performs the dirty deed:
onMouseOver="a('');return true"
For those not familiar w) HTML, everything from the initial <a to the final </.a> is the link code.
Let's break it down:
is where you will actually go if you are foolish enough to click on the link.  (After this you won't be, will you?)
The two lines:
onMouseOver="a('');return true"
Is what makes you THINK you are being routed to PayPal.  WhereEver 211.5212.70 is, you can BET it ain't anywhere near the PayPal offices.  (Interestingly enough, this guy is an idiot, 211.5212.70 is not a valid IP address, so in this case there is no harm done.  No, I didn't change this entry, I just noticed the mistake.  Sheesh!  What a Moron!)
The onMouseOver and onMouseOut lines are what make you THINK you are clicking on a PayPal site. 
Thus, (had the numb-skull specified a legit IP address) he would have you thinking you were on PayPal while his imitation site gathers info. about your identity and your Credit Cards/Bank Accounts!
Don't be fooled!  For one thing BOTH eBay and PayPal make it CLEAR on their sites that they NEVER send this type of e-mail!
ALWAYS TYPE IN ANY ADDRESS LIKE THIS YOURSELF if you have any doubts.  Don;t follow the links, or you will be caught in the Phishing net...
Caveat æquoretor