Sunday, September 30, 2007

USB on/off-switch mod

Last week I got the idea to create a USB-cable with an on/off-switch. This because I have several USB-devices (mug heater, mug chiller, reading light, battery charger, etc.) that have no on/off-switch and I think it's really tiresome having to unplug them every time I want them turned off.

So I looked up USB on Wikipedia and learned, amongst other things, that the 5V power that a USB-port supplies travels through the red wire inside the USB-cable. So it should really not be any more difficult than just cutting the red cable and connecting the ends to an ordinary on/off-switch that you can buy in any store that carries electronics and such.

It took me a couple of tries to get it right though. Inside a USB-cable there's not just the four wires (red, black, green and white) that send power and data back and forth but also foil that wraps around all four wires and a bunch of thin metallic wires and apparently this foil and possibly also the metallic wires should not be removed when pealing the outer insulation off the USB-cable because then it will not work. It took me three USB-cables to figure that one out. Very frustrating.

But anyway, on the third try I got it right and I now have a USB-cable with a nice on/off-switch mounted on it and I can turn my mug chiller on and off just like I do the reading lamp by my bed. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Windows Vista provides the greatest user experience ever

Yeah, you got me. That sure was sarcasm.

A couple of weeks ago I assisted my dad in buying a new laptop. Their old laptop was state of the art when they bought it about five years ago, but today it's not really cutting it. So, time to buy a new one.

We went to the Sony Center and there my dad fell in love a pretty sweet Vaio-machine. It's really a damn sexy piece of hardware and after inspecting the specs I gave it the thumbs-up. Only one problem really, it ran Windows Vista.

Now why is this a problem besides the fact that I loathe Windows? Well, it's no secret that plenty of people that have gone from Windows XP to Vista have had and still are having a shitload of problems with Microsoft's new and sparkly OS. My dad is not a complete computer imbecile at all, he's a pretty ordinary user. He does some e-mail, surfs the web, plays some simple online games, does his banking online, organizes photos from his digital camera and things like that. Nothing fancy, nothing very advanced or odd at all.

So, while I was sceptical I thought that since good 'ole dad's computer habits were nothing out of the ordinary I said "what the hell" and hoped for the best.

Silly me. Stupid damn fuckin' silly me.

I assisted with starting up the new laptop, installing all of the bundled software (Norton Security-stuff, a bunch of Google-apps, etc.) and configured it as best I could (remember that this was my first hands-on experience with Vista and that I haven't been a regular Windows-user for over six years) and when I left my parents' house it seemed to be working fine.

It took about two days until I received the first desperate call from my dad about his new computer "not working". I googled some stuff and helped him out as well as I could over the phone. That was just the first of a seemingly never-ending series of calls, and all of them had to do with the new and fancy features in Vista fucking up my dad's computing experience. In most cases I managed to hook him up with some sort of temporary work-around to the problem that he could live with until I had the time to get over there and get under the hood of the thing.

This week however things got so bad that my dad called me to say that he needs the old laptop back (I'd borrowed it to do some experimenting on) because the new one was completely unusable to him.

He couldn't send e-mail properly, no applications except Internet Explorer 7 were allowed access to the internet, every time he tried to do just about anything useful he was driven mad by a bombardment of security pop-ups, the list goes on and on. What finally did it though was that IE and Vista wouldn't allow him to install the certificate for his bank, thus making it impossible to pay their bills online. Awesome. Now tell me what's so great about Vista again? Fuck.

So here's someone that uses computers at work and has been using Windows XP both at home and at work for the past five years. Not a dimwit at all, actually pretty computer-savvy for a man in his late fifties. He goes out and buys a brand new awesome computer for $1800 with the "latest and greatest OS" and after three weeks he switches back to his old piece of cyberjunk because he's being terrorized by Vista. Good one Microsoft.

Seriously, Vista must be the biggest piece of shit ever released by Microsoft. When experienced XP-users can't get the damn thing to work properly you gotta call it a freakin' failure, because that's what it is. I don't give a rat's ass if it's "more secure" (I doubt it) or looks snazzier than XP. It's completely unusable to ordinary computer users as proven by my dad and many others I've read about online.

If it wasn't for my dad having to run a few work-specific applications (which requires Windows) on his computer I'd have him buying a Mac or switching to Linux in a heartbeat.

And you know I'm gonna have to go over there next week and spend a hundred hours "fixing" that brand new Sony Vaio. Just because it's been soiled by Vista. Damn.

Windows Vista is a sad piece of shit and once again Microsoft should be ashamed of themselves for releasing such a pathetic excuse for an operating system.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Memory upgrade day

Yeah, bitches! I can has memory upgrade on all my computaz!

And life on this side of 4 Gigs of memory is schwee-ee-eet, that I can tell y'all!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

OK, now you lost me again Apple

I long since accepted the fact that I don't need an iPod. It wouldn't make any sense at all for me to get one, especially since I loathe iTunes and if you don't live your life according to what is dictated by iTunes, your iPod is pretty much a crippled device. Also, I only have one Mac-computer (my iBook) and all my other boxes run Linux, so even if I swallowed my pride and started using iTunes it would still be a pain in the ass. So, no iPod for me.

However, lately I've heard from friends and fellow Linux-zealots that there are application available that actually work pretty well if you want to use an iPod with your Linux-computer. I've been told good things about Amarok for example, and there have been other pieces of software mentioned as well. This has naturally gotten me thinking that maybe an iPod could be in the cards for me after all.

But nooooooo, Apple doesn't want me to buy their hardware as is proven by what they've come up with for the current generation of iPods. From the article:

The latest iPods have a cryptographic "checksum" in their song databases that prevents third-party applications from synching with the portable music players. This means that iPods can no longer be used with operating systems where iTunes doesn't exist -- like Linux, where gtkpod and Amarok are common free tools used by iPod owners to load their players.

Notice that this has nothing to do with piracy -- this is about Apple limiting the choices available to people who buy their iPod hardware.

What the fuck Steve? Why the hell would you do something like this? That's just plain evil and stupid as hell.

It's not gonna get anybody to switch to Mac that hasn't already done so. I mean, it's not like I'm gonna go out and replace all of my Linux-boxes with MacPros and iMacs just so that I can bask in the glory of iPod-ownership. That would be really stupid.

Instead, Apple have just decided for me that if I buy myself some sort of portable mediaplayer in the future it will not be an iPod. I know they'll get buy pretty well without my $299 but it strikes me as odd and damn stupid that they'd actively reject some customers in this manner, especially since the existence and development of iPod-software for other platforms than the Mac doesn't impact Apple in any negative way what so ever. It expands their user base without costing them a dime.

Real dumb Steve, outright moronic really.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Updated my Twitter-widget

If anybody gives a shit I updated my Twitter-widget tonight. It now parses URLs in the text and turns them into links, and I also tweaked the CSS a bit.

You can download it from the same 'ole place. Enjoy!

And you Mr. Internetsupportman are an idiot

The past three months or so I've been experiencing some problems with my internet connection. It works and is stable like it should be, the problem is though that it's waaaay slower than it should be.

When I measured it three months ago I had a download speed of about 12 Mb/s, which is OK. But since then it has decreased to about half and that is simply not acceptable. So today on my lunch hour I went home and called my provider. Little did I know that I would be talking to the biggest moron in internet support ever.

After waiting in line for five minutes I get to talk to Mr. Internetsupportman and here's how it went:

Me: Hello, my name is so-and-so and I have a problem... (I explain my problem as per above)
Mr. Internetsupportman: According to my measurements you're connection is fine. You have 14 Mbit/s.
Me: No, I don't. I used TPTest and tested and it clearly states that my speed is way lower than that.
Mr. Internetsupportman: You know that TPTest is only reliable 80% of the time don't you? (Note: this might very well be bullshit, I've never heard anything like that about TPTest)
Me: Well, even if it is I've been doing these tests every day for weeks and it shows the same results every time. I think it's safe to say that TPTest is not the problem here.

Mr. Internetsupportman then starts to blame all manner of things for my decrease in speed ("your cables could be busted", "is your router properly configured?", "maybe you have a weird firewall or antivirus software?", "your network card is probably old and defective"), and I claim him to be wrong in every single case. I'm not running any particular firewall or antivirus software on the computer doing the test (my iBook G4), I've done the test straight into the modem without my router and I know there is nothing wrong with my hardware.

He's basically trying to bullshit me so I'll give up and stop bothering him. Well, that didn't make me give up but little did I know what kind of superior moronic firepower I was up against. The conversation continues...

Mr. Internetsupportman: Did you say you ran TPTest from a Mac?
Me: Yes, it's an iBook. So yes, it's a Mac.
Mr. Internetsupportman: Well, you see these days Macs run Unix which is a very safe and stable system. But you see, Unix demands a lot of resources so I think that's probably your problem. Could you run TPTest from a PC?

WTF?!?! So because my Mac runs Unix (or Mac OS X in reality), which it has done since I bought it a couple of years ago, all of my computers are experiencing a slower connection? This guy is clearly an idiot.

Me: But it's not just the Mac that's feeling the decrease in speed. All of my computers are having the same problem. I clearly notice the difference from now and three months ago no matter what computer I use.
Mr. Internetsupportman: I don't know what to tell you. From here your connection looks fine. Can you run TPTest again, but from a PC this time?
Me: Sure. I'll do that. (and this is where I hang up)

Seriously, how much dumbass bullshit is it possible to shovel in one day? I just gave up at this point and hung up because this guy had obviously crawled out of the ocean just 20 minutes ago.

I'm calling them back when I get home from work though. Hopefully I'll get to speak to someone with at least a quarter of a brain this time.