Tag Archive for: technology

USB Fridge

The USB port is a pretty handy thing. Especially if you want to keep a soft drink cool. Yes. You can have your very own personal USB fridge. Via.

USB Fridge


Just in time for Christmas. Bay Bloor Radio is stocking iPod docks for music lovers. For a mere $2,000 you can pick up the Fatman 252/VDC.

The folks at TLAudio describe the product this way:

Stunning to behold and a thoroughbred performer featuring no less than 9 valves and 3 line input stages to offer 25 watts per channel of pure listening nirvana. A more powerful version of the iTube 182, this amplifier delivers a sonic performance and value for money which is unmatched by any similarly specified product in the known world.

Just think, you can dock your iPod and play all of those highly compressed audio files through this world class tube amp. Pushing MP3/AAC digital artifacts through tubes will make them sound so much better (heavy satire).

Audiophile redefined.


Greg the Architect

For my friends in I.T. and, in particular, those friends involved in the practice of architecture: the story of Greg the Architect. Courtesy of Tibco.

Greg the Architect

IT Field Support

Someone passed me this clip that shows one of the earliest field support calls. Hundreds of years later and not much has changed.

Get Started

My wife’s VW Passat has suffered from an ongoing issue with technology. It began with an odd message from the car’s computer: steering wheel column lock error. The car would not start.

We could not move the car and the dealer arranged for a tow truck to move the car from our house. Fortunately, the car’s transmission shift still operated. We put the car’s transmission into neutral, wheeled it out of the garage and the tow truck pulled up and hitched it for transit to the dealer.

The diagnosis led to a low battery. The dealer replaced the battery and we picked up the car.

And the next day the car would not start. Same error. Only this time, the car would not release the key. The same tow truck driver came to pull the car a second time. However, the transmission would not shift to neutral. So how do we get the car out of the garage?

The dealer sent a technician to figure out how to get the car into neutral. He could not get his portable diagnostic device to communicate with the car because of an invalid key. Sigh.

The tow truck driver thought that he had a way to bypass the computer. He reached under the hood, pulled some cable somewhere, and put the transmission into neutral. Those tow truck operators know all the tricks.

So the car went back to the dealer for about a week as they waited for a replacement computer.

The car is back now. It starts. But the doors won’t lock.


My Backup

My pilgrimage to the Apple Store, driven by a need to repent from my use of a Western Digital external USB hard disk, took me to the shrine of all things Mac and iPod.

In keeping with the theme of purity, everything in the store appears to be white, or lightly brushed aluminum.

I picked up a G-Drive Q external hard disk and a thin firewire 400 cable.

The drive is already prepared for the Mac. Plug and play.

I connected the drive to my now fully restored and operational iMac. And, as expected, everything continues to work just fine. I did a full system backup and then an incremental backup last night. No issues with any of my Photoshop apps.

Life is good.


Woe Is Mac

I have a number of Macs in the house and they all share a common attribute: they just work. No crashes, no viruses, no spyware. Just a pleasant computing experience.

Until last week.

One of my Macs, the iMac in my office, started to exhibit a very unusual symptom. When I used Adobe Bridge, the application would lock. Since I had not experienced such a symptom before, I had to scramble to find the key sequence to force quit the application.

Except that the application would not quit. The only way I could recover was to perform a hard reset. That is, turn the power off and then power up. I call this the BRS routine. Named after the Big Red Switch on my original DOS-based IBM PC.

This happened repeatedly with Bridge. Which is a major concern as I manage all of my digital photos with Bridge. And then it started to happen with Photoshop CS2. Unexpected and apparently random locking of the application.

I scoured troubleshooting forums in Adobe and then for the Mac. I repaired permissions and volumes. I trashed preferences. I was almost to the point of performing the standard Windows routine of reformatting the disk and starting over.

And then I noticed something. Another application exhibited the same problem: SuperDuper. SuperDuper is my backup program. It locked in the same way as Photoshop and Adobe. However, I could quit the application. But why?

I have no patience. The Bridge and Photoshop apps were trying to access an unresponsive drive. I would not wait long enough for the system to call it quits on the unresponsive drive. So I waited a minute or so and then shut things down. The backup utility ran unattended while I was asleep. Which is why I could quit that application normally.

I have a 500GB Western Digital MyBook external USB hard drive for my nightly backups. Although it checked out okay in terms of testing, the disk falls asleep after ten minutes or so when it is not accessed. The problem with my system is that the disk no longer wakes up after it falls asleep.

I disconnected the drive and everything in my Mac works as it should. I need a new backup drive.


According to compete, my website ranks 408,961 out of the top 1 million websites in North America based on the number of unique visitors.

So how many websites are there in North America? No one seems to know. Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions? Billions?

If you enter “site:.com” without the quotations marks into Google’s search engine, you will get 5.86 billion hits. That gives some idea as to how many indexed pages there are on sites with a .com extension. However, there are many other extensions in use on the Internet.

Berkeley did a project way back in 2000 called How Much Information. And they updated the project in 2003. Some interesting data points from the 2000 report:

There are two groups of Web content. One, which we would call the “surface” Web is what everybody knows as the “Web,” a group that consists of static, publicly available web pages, and which is a relatively small portion of the entire Web. Another group is called the “deep” Web, and it consists of specialized Web-accessible databases and dynamic web sites, which are not widely known by “average” surfers, even though the information available on the “deep” Web is 400 to 550 times larger than the information on the “surface.”

The “surface” Web consists of approximately 2.5 billion documents, up from 1 billion pages at the beginning of the year, with a rate of growth of 7.3 million pages per day. Estimates of the average “surface” page size vary in the range from 10 kbytes per page to 20 kbytes per page. So, the total amount of information on the “surface” Web varies somewhere from 25 to 50 terabytes of information [HTML-included basis]. If we want to obtain a figure for textual information, we would use a factor of 0.4, which leads to an estimate of 10 to 20 terabytes of textual content. At 7.3 million new pages added every day, the rate of growth is, taking an average estimate, 0.1 terabytes of new information per day.

If we take into account all web-accessible information, such as web-connected databases, dynamic pages, intranet sites, etc., collectively known as “deep” Web, there are 550 billion web-connected documents, with an average page size of 14 kbytes, and 95% of this information is publicly accessible. If we were to store this information in one place, we would need 7,500 terabytes of storage, which is 150 times more storage than we would need for the entire “surface” Web, even taking the highest estimate of 50 terabytes. 56% of this information is the actual content, which gives us an estimate of 4,200 terabytes of high-quality data. Two of the largest “deep” web sites – National Climatic Data Center and NASA databases – contain 585 terabytes of information, which is 7.8% of the “deep” web. And 60 of the largest web sites contain 750 terabytes of information, which is 10% of the “deep” web.

Although I do not know how many sites exist in North America, I suspect it must be a large number.