Monthly Archives: October 2006

The context for geek stuff

One of the things that makes blogs such as Scoble’s so readable is that he gives his observations some non-geek context. For example when he highlights the generational change in technology, it’s not just 8-bit vs 32/64-bit, it’s also how it’s affected culture. Things like buying music: the kids aren’t queueing up to buy records anymore, they’re just buying off iTunes.

This kind of observation gives his geek reports some context in the real world, so although it mostly interests techheads, we can see how it’s relevant to non-techheads. The Zune music player from Microsoft might get bought by die-hard Apple-haters, but the mass market is going to want to follow the pack, who are almost all wearing white earphones.

Unless we’re specifically writing some arcane UberGeek technical article, it’s probably a good idea to remember to how it all relates to the real world.

Mummy, where did iPods come from?

The iPod’s Birth: off the shelf parts, reference design from external design group, OS from mobile phone. And stacks and stacks of design and usability iterations. Basically, Apple’s value-add was software and UI design.

PS: Check out The Seven Phases of Owning an iPod – An Illustrated Journey

Israeli Brokerage Services spam

I’m glad I’m not the only one getting endless offers of jobs from Israeli Brokerage Services Limited.

Spam from Israeli Brokerage Services

Apart from anything else I find it puzzling that they think their scam will work better if they bombard email address many dozens of times every day. Like getting ten of the same offer isn’t going to make me suspicious?

Update 10-Nov-2006: Information on this scam at the Western Australian government ScamNet.

Using old hardware: Win2K drivers in XP

How to get an old Canon scanner (which has no XP drivers) working in Windows XP: Use Win2000 scanner driver, but follow this procedure (on Canon’s German site, but written in English).

In summary you make sure the scanner is DISCONNECTED; then use the old Setup.exe to install the software; shut down the PC and THEN plug the scanner in. When you start the PC up again, it’ll detect the new hardware and — against all odds if you ask me — figure out that it matches the drivers you’ve already installed. After that you should be right to go.

It worked fine with my ancient FB-310, and it’s something to keep in mind with other hardware, too.

Australia’s new copyright laws

Kim Weatherall’s been tracking the new copyright laws in Australia. The bill has just been published, and oh, what a confusing mess.

Region coding and backup copies — Confusion reigns on this one.

Use of iPods to continue to be, technically, illegal.


Douglas Adams and Tom Baker in Hyperland

In this one-hour (50 minutes, actually) documentary produced by the BBC in 1990, Douglas falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, examining (then) cuttting-edge research by the SF Multimedia Lab and NASA Ames research center, and encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn’t: these days, no one’s heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super-high-tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted – for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web…


Firefox 3 ideas

With Firefox 2.0 almost out, Mozilla are asking for suggestions for version 3 via a Wiki page. But it looks like they still don’t “get” the corporate world — at one stage one subheading read: “More Bullshit vs. Less Bullshit”. Is that likely to convince any CIO that they should migrate their X thousand users over to Firefox?

Anyway, I wonder if this means they’ll look at my favourite 5 year old Title bug… Ah. Nope. Not before Firefox 3.0 (May 2007), would you believe. Hey, I’m not holding my breath.

(via Ars Technica)

Foxtel Scifi channel

Foxtel Australia to launch a sci-fi channel on December 1st. It’ll be interesting to see if they confine themselves to parent company (CBS Paramount, NBC Universal, Sony) shows, or if they look wider.

And will it be enough to convince more people to get cable TV? The sci-fi channel will be part of the My Escape package, meaning a minimum total monthly cost of A$51.90 if you want to see it.

(Me? I don’t watch much TV anyway. Somehow I suspect another X dozen channels aren’t going to change that…)

Shorter copyright duration

What if the copyright period, instead of concluding at creator’s death plus 70 years, concluded after a period of 20 years since initial performance? Surely, there’s an imperative to create more content if it has only a “short” copyright period? And harmonizing patent and copyright law has got to have benefits.

Who writes software, or produces a movie, or writes a book anticipating income from their work more than 20 years hence? No one, that’s who. So, I’m going to go ahead and change the copyright duration.

Any objections?

XP logon problems?

Windows XP logon - with language indicator?!Is it just me who’s got problems with the Windows XP Welcome screen (friendly logon) in the last few days (perhaps since the last security update)? Firstly I note the presence of a language indicator next to the logon name; I’m pretty sure that wasn’t there before.

Secondly periodically the password box doesn’t work when I go to type in it. Clicking, typing, nothing works. Have to either restart the machine (thankfully possible via the mouse) to get it back, or Ctrl-Alt-Del twice to get to a “classic” logon, which lets you in.


Okay, it’s not just me. (Usenet thread)

PS. 28/11/2006: Another Usenet thread on this problem. Still no definite solution, though one suggested (unverified) is: regsvr32 shgina.dll

PS. 8/12/2006: The above register command doesn’t fix this problem.

PS. 13/12/2006: Some of the guys on the SysInternals forum have also noted this problem. No solution yet.

PS. 26/7/2007: Graham comments below that he’s found KB923191 appears to be the problem. But given this patches a critical security flaw, I’d rather live with the workaround.