An occasional outlet for my thoughts on life, technology, motorcycles, backpacking, kayaking, skydiving...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Time to stop recommending Netscape!

I sent this message to Bank of America today. I think the message needs to get out to more organizations, so let's spread the word.

You need to update your list of supported browsers.

There are several issues here.

  1. Netscape is no longer made by anyone, as stated in this announcement. The most important statement there is "We'll continue to release security patches for the current version of the browser, Netscape Navigator until February 1, 2008", which means that on 2008/02/02 it became a liability to use or recommend the Netscape product. You, as a banking institution, should be concerned about giving advice (browser to use) that if followed could lead to account hijacking.

  2. Microsoft no longer makes nor supports an Internet Explorer browser for Macintosh.

  3. Apple no longer makes hardware capable of running OS 9.

You should be recommending Mozilla Firefox, as does Netscape/AOL, for non-Windows users of the Macintosh, Linux, Unix, and (Free/Open/Net)BSD varieties. Having such outdated information on your website makes you appear to be "behind the curve" on technology and does not garner confidence in future customers. That is a real shame considering that I, as a computer engineer in the internet industry, am very impressed with the display of technology found with Bank of America. The statement made outside your site does not reflect the excellent user experience that is to be found inside.


Why are they putting VGA ports on modern computers?!?

I should start by saying, "I'm going crazy over this now." I'll just get that out of the way.

PC manufacturers are continuing to make computers (desktops, notebooks, ultra-portables, motherboards ATX thru SBC) with VGA ports on them. This is totally ridiculous to do. VGA is an analog output. DVI output is [basically] always actually DVI-I, which carries both analog and digital output. DVI-I can be converted to VGA with an inexpensive passive (no electrical components) adapter. In short, DVI can drive an analog display but VGA cannot drive a digital display.

Why does this matter? Because modern televisions are being made with high resolutions (1920x1080 or 1366×768/1368x768) and no VGA ports. This is perfectly reasonable because those high resolutions require tremendous bandwidth and the analog cables are very prone to interference at those rates. Another consideration is the cost of high resolution Analog to digital converts. It makes no sense to have your video source convert its digital data to an analog signal to be transfered over a highly vulnerable cable, only to be converted back to digital at its destination video display. This brings me to my second point.

All video cards/chipsets start with digital information. They process the information into a digital video signal. The signal is then passed to a D->A converter. Here is where things diverge. The device either:

  1. sends both the digital and analog signals out a DVI port.

  2. trashes the digital signal and sends the analog signal out a VGA port.

Clearly option B is a total waste, and results in the device being worthless for connecting to televisions for use as a PVR, or web surfing device. I am amazed that in 2008 it is still hard to find motherboards with DVI output and it's virtually impossible to search sites like NewEgg and TigerDirect for them.

My intention here is to explain that there is no good reason for putting VGA outputs (exclusively) on computers. I would like to see more people get upset about this so we can influence the market. If I have failed to persuade you, please post a rebuttal so I can revise my argument.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cleaning up Adium

I was having a problem where Adium would not let me speak in group chats. This is quite annoying as it is common practice in my company to use 3-10 way chat with DBAs, SysAdmins, and developers to get a task completed quickly and have a record of the conversations.

I don't know what caused the problem, but I know that reinstalling Adium didn't fix it. I am certain that the problem is the result of moving my ~/Library/Application\ Support\Adium\ 2.0 directory from machine to machine to machine, etc. and trying out lots of plugins.

My goals where:

  1. Save my chat transcripts/logs

  2. Save my 10+ IM accounts so I don't have to re-enter them again

  3. Have a working Adium again

I pulled it off and here is how

# Exit out of Adium
cd ~/Library/Application\ Support
tar cf Adium.tar Adium\ 2.0/
rm -rf Adium\ 2.0/
# Launch Adium
# I do not know if you HAVE to set up an account via the wizard, but I did
tar xf Adium.tar Adium\ 2.0/Users/Default/Accounts Adium\ 2.0/Users/Default/Accounts.plist Adium\ 2.0/Users/Default/Logs

It is important to note that if you have a conversation you need to keep between the time you "rm -rf Adium\ 2.0/" and "tar xf..." (in the same day, because Adium logs are created 1 per contact per day) you will need to create a second tar and merge the log manually. I had to do this with about 12 conversations because I let 2 days go by before I attempted to recover the backup.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Baby prep is in full force.

I'm starting to enter that crazy preparation phase as we prepare for baby #2 (second girl) in July. I'm starting wish I would have had the fore-sight years ago to say, "No honey I don't feel comfortable [installing light fixtures/sconces/switches, crown molding, building built-in cabinetry, sewing Roman shades, etc.]"

The 23 year old who wanted to his wife's Super-man is now her Advil-man.

Anti-Virus, why?

If you believe that there is a "grand design" to the universe then you must conclude that viruses exist for the purpose of population control. I'm against anti-virus software because I believe it violates the "natural order" of things. If permitted to do so, viruses will restore balance to the wreck that is the current market share prospectus.

Why does mankind always feel the need to "play God"? ;-)