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Tech Industry

Global XML config for time change rules

Posted in Software Engineering, Tech Industry, Technology on February 15th, 2007 by leodirac – Comments Off on Global XML config for time change rules

I’m sure by now most of you have heard that last summer congress legislated a new start to Daylight Savings Time this year. Instead of the first Sunday in April it’s going to start on the second Sunday in March from now on — March 11 instead of April 1 this year. Overall I think this is a good change — I’d prefer daylight savings time year ’round, except for that part where kids get run over going to school in the dark. But it is of course playing havoc with computer systems everywhere which have the DST rules built…

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Why you won’t be able to send text messages from an iPhone while driving

Posted in Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Tech Industry, Technology, User Experience on January 17th, 2007 by leodirac – 3 Comments

A few months ago I wrote about why single-purpose devices will always have better UI’s than general purpose devices. Here, always really means for about the the next 5 years. I’ll explain why in a second. In the iPhone, Apple has built a completely generic UI. All the controls are software reconfigurable “soft keys” — you touch a part of the screen that has a picture of a button on it. This offers a fantastic level of flexibility, allowing them to build a lot of useful functions into a small package. But soft keys like this are intrinsically limited by…

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Upgrade Firefox or lose all your Gmail

Posted in Electronic Security, Tech Industry on December 28th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Upgrade Firefox or lose all your Gmail

Here’s the best reason I’ve heard to upgrade your browser in a long time. Apparently a number of people are finding their gmail accounts wiped clean. This is potentially linked to a known security flaw in Firefox 2.0 which was fixed in 2.0.0.1 related to cross-site scripting (XSS). So upgrade your firefox, yo. I’ve heard from security experts that FF has way more problems than IE does, but it just doesn’t get attacked as much. I hate to say it, but we’re probably already living in a world where all software not only has bugs but has security bugs too….

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My Yahoo clogged up with Peanut Butter?

Posted in Business, Tech Industry on December 14th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on My Yahoo clogged up with Peanut Butter?

I’ve used my.yahoo as a feed reader for a while. It’s a nice compact way to view a few of the feeds I pay close attention to. But in the last few weeks it’s been screwing up left and right. Sometimes it doesn’t get updates for days on end. Today it reached a new low: it thinks there are no posts from any of the feeds I subscribe to. I think maybe they’ve got a bit too much peanut butter clogging up the works. ;) Maybe I should make a serious attempt to switch over to Realtime.

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Google vs. Microsoft: MS Retreats to Hardware

Posted in Business, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Music, Tech Industry, Technology on October 25th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Google vs. Microsoft: MS Retreats to Hardware

A couple of recent product announcements out of Redmond have me thinking about the current big struggle in the software industry: GOOG vs MSFT. Frankly, GOOG is eating MSFT’s lunch on the consumer software front. But MSFT still dominates in the enterprise, and will for a long time. GOOG’s model is hosted solutions, which enterprises are really hesitant to deploy. And with good reason — if you were a CIO would you trust all of your company’s IP to somebody else? Regardless of what promises they make, I wouldn’t. So Microsoft continues to turn into IBM. The two announcements I’m…

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Democratization of Information

Posted in Business, Democratization of Information, Google, Investing, Tech Industry, Transhumanism on October 11th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Remember what internet search was like back in the pioneer days — say 1998 or 1999? There were lots of bad ones out there, but I’ll talk about three representative ones. There were lots of page-search engines along the lines of Alta Vista. They crawled the web and indexed the contents of each web page. They would try to figure out which web page best matched your search keywords based entirely on the contents of the pages themselves. This didn’t work very well since spammers could fill their pages with keywords they liked that didn’t necessarily add any value to…

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How PC volume controls should work

Posted in Music, Tech Industry, User Experience on October 9th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on How PC volume controls should work

The volume control system on Windows XP is somewhat broken. The main volume control is pretty easily accessible — you can adjust it with a single click on the volume icon in the tasbar icon tray. This master volume adjusts everything going out to the speakers (or headphones or line-out or whatever). But model for adjusting the relative levels of different sound sources is awkward and not well implemented. Feeding into the main volume is the “mixer.” You can get to it by double-clicking the main volume control. It lets you adjust the relative volume of various sound sources like…

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Free IP-geo location services

Posted in Geography, Tech Industry, Technology, Transhumanism, User Experience on October 7th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

I’ve been installing OS’s a bunch lately. Every time I do the installer asks me what part of the world I’m in so it can set the timezone. This totally seems like 20th century technology to me. There are really accurate IP-geo lookup databases these days that can tell from your IP address where you are in the world pretty reliably. So once the OS has my network stack working, why does it need to ask me what part of the world I’m in? When it comes to installing something free like Ubuntu, it seems that there’s a real “you-get-what-you-pay-for”…

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Switching to a MacBook Pro

Posted in Consumer Electronics, Ego, Gadgets, Tech Industry, Technology, User Experience on October 7th, 2006 by leodirac – 2 Comments

A little while ago, I got my hands on a MacBook Pro. I’ve been slowly switching over to it as my primary machine. It’s pretty. It’s fast. When using it, I feel calm and happy as if I’m sitting in a japanese garden. (I bet if it wasn’t so expensive, this effect wouldn’t be so pronounced. But that is part of the charm too.) I haven’t had the guts to switch over to it as my mail e-mail machine yet, but maybe the new .mac email will convince me. Here are a couple of thoughts on why I’m liking it…

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Sonos: Easy multi-room music

Posted in Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Music, Tech Industry, User Experience on October 3rd, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Sonos: Easy multi-room music

My house pretty much always has music playing in it. Generally the same music is playing throughout the entire house. I do this through a fairly complex involving a pirate radio station, a PC dedicated to playing music, and a set of custom perl scripts and remote-control applications to be able to select music from any of the house’s internet appliances. When it’s working (most of the time, actually) it’s a fantastic system. I wander around, and hear the same thing, and it’s pretty much always something I want to be listening to. For everybody else out there who didn’t…

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