Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dave Ramsey and Me

    I want to say right off the bat that I respect Dave Ramsey for what he has down and how he has helped many people get out of debt.  However, I have a bone to pick with him.  Dave Ramsey and I do not see eye to eye on the subject of gold.

Dave Ramsey     Dave Ramsey counsels people to invest in mutual funds.  He tells them to avoid investing in gold.  According to Ramsey, gold does not have a good track record.  In fact, Ramsey is even in several radio ads telling people to sell all the “extra” gold they have laying around.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any “extra” gold laying around.

    In my opinion, gold is the smartest investment you can make, especially today.  Today, gold reach an all-time high of $1,038.65 an ounce.  That is a lot of money, especially in this economy.  The dollar could go away tomorrow and gold would still be this valuable.

gold     Gold has long been seen as a standard of value.  Gold has been used all through history as money and has always been a solid investment.  Why should now be any different today?  Should you invest in an instrument that can fluctuate drastically over time (mutual funds), especially if an economy goes south; or should you invest in a precious metal that you will always own and that will always stay valuable because supply is so limited?

    Please comment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

EVONY Has to Drop Their Provocative Ads

Every time I go to a new website, 9 times out of 10 I see an ad from EVONY. Most of the time, these ads feature a “peasant” girl with a plunging neckline with the words “Come Play, My Lord”. I’m getting darn sick of it. I want to be able surf the web without seeing these particular ads everywhere. Even the homepage for this site has the same picture.

I can block these ads with Firefox, but the problem is that I work on about 7 or so other computers, so I still see them. On top of that, there are millions of kids exposed to this pictures as they surf for school or fun.

EVONY is using sex to sell their game. They are giving kids the wrong idea. There’s is enough of that crap on the web without them adding to it. In Gospel of Mark, Jesus said, “And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me: it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.” (9:41)

EVONY, if you read this, pull these ads and try something more tasteful.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tech Disasters

I found these pictures all over the web.  These systems are in pretty bad shape.  Click each image to get a larger version.



sysadmin_day_117 sysadmin_day_126  sysadmin_day_79 sysadmin_day_106

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tech Support Problems – cont.

While I have problems trying to teach people how to use technology, these are stories that I have collected from the internet and have nothing to do with me.

Story 1

One day a friend of mine called me up to tell me he was thinking of buying a computer. This guy is particularly sensitive to criticism and not to exactly in the upper eschelon of the IQ range, and personally I don't think he should own a programmable VCR much less a computer, but he's a good guy, so I said "good for you." The following conversation ensued:

  • Him: "Well I have a couple questions though, that I thought I should ask you, cause you know about those things, right?"
  • Me: "Yeah, ok, what do you want to know?"
  • Him: "Well...what one should I buy?"
  • Me: "What do you want to do with it mostly? Play games, word processsing (blah blah blah)...?"

Twenty minutes later....

  • Him: "Well, I think probably I should get a real fast one, you know, cause I want it to go fast so I don't have to wait for the Internet."

I proceed to explain, SLOWLY, about the difference between megahertz and modem speed, which takes another twenty minutes.

  • Him: "So how much is this going to cost me anyway?"
  • Me: "It all depends on what you want. Some stuff costs more.

(Now, let me say here that at the very begining of all this I had stated that neither a monitor nor a printer would come with a computer itself, unless you went for a package deal. He was, at this point saying that he wanted to spend about $500 and that everything had to be from the same manufacturer. This was when the 550 P3 had just come out, so prices were still higher than $500 for any system you could go buy in a Circuit City, which he said he HAD to do.)

  • Him: "Well, you know, I just want the basic stuff, a monitor, and a printer and a scanner, and maybe a camera, plus the stuff to make cards and print photos and all that, and the stuff to take care of paying my bills, and online."
  • Me: "Ok, well, you need to get a system first, then think about the extras. You really need to learn the basics first. A computer with a monitor and a printer is probably going to be a minimum of $800 to $1000, if you really want them all to be from the same company."
  • Him: "REALLY?! Well, ok, but I probably will need two printers, so it'll be more then, huh?"
  • Me: "What?"
  • Him: "Yeah, you can do that, right, hook up two of the same printer to one computer?"
  • Me: "Well...NO, you can't."
  • Him: "But I'll need to do that!"
  • Me: "No, really, you won't. Why do you think that?"
  • Him: "Ok, wait, I know, what about two computers? Can you do that? Can you hook two computers together?"
  • Me: "But...why? No."
  • Him: "But I am going to NEED that! You can't do that for me?!"
  • Me: "Ok, ya know what, what the hell are you talking about?!? No one ever NEEDS to do what you are talking about doing so why do you think you need to do this?!?"
  • Him: "Well, when I go to print out that manuscript I'm going to write, it'll probably be like 800 pages or so, so how am I ever going to get one printer to print that much, and one computer probably can't even hold that much in one thing right?"

Inside I was going ballistic at this point, and it did boil over, especially since there is NO WAY there is 800 pages worth of anything in this guy's head, but I explained that (a) one computer can in fact "hold" that much and a whole lot more, and (b) one printer (unless it is a huge Xerox or other office type industrial machine) CAN'T hold that much paper in one shot.

I hope that none of you nice tech support people never EVER get a call from this guy, because I guarantee you it will be the worst call you ever get in your life. You guys may all have to get together and dedicate a page to him, posting only his calls, just to vent your anger. He is the cupholder guy, the NOSMOKE.EXE guy, the guy who insists he "hasn't changed anything" when he really edited his AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS to include lines like "and don't say I'm bad and an invalid," and the guy who has everything plugged in but nothing where it is supposed to be plugged in. He WILL have his powerstrip plugged into itself and will insist that it is NOT. May the force be with you all; you'll need it.

Story 2

  • Tech Support: "I need you to boot the computer."
  • Customer: (THUMP! Pause.) "No, that didn't help."

Story 3

Giving instructions on how to use Microsoft Word 7:

  • Me: "Type in a few words, or a test sentence."
  • Secretary: (skeptically) "With what?"
  • Me: "The keyboard."
  • Secretary: "The what?!?"
  • Me: "Keyboard. The jobbie in front of you with the keys on it."
  • Secretary: "Oh. That."
  • Me: "Yeah, it works like a typewriter."
  • Secretary: "I don't understand. (types a few words) "Oh! Hey! It works just like my typewriter!"
  • Me: "Uh-huh..."

Story 4

A teenage lad and his mother called in to our shop and approached me. The mother announced her son needed a virus killer for his computer. The Atari ST had been out a year or two, and Amiga computers were rapidly gaining popularity at the time, and both machines had viruses being passed around on floppy disks. So we asked the son which of those computers he had. He muttered to his mother again, and she announced her son had an Amstrad 464 -- which only had a built-in cassette deck and no floppy drive whatsoever. After we explained that it was the more modern computers which had floppy disk drives that got viruses, the mother calmly stated that the virus had been on his friend's new ST computer and that her son and his friend had played a few games on it. The virus had passed from the friend's computer directly to her son, and thence, later that evening, from her son to his aforementioned Amstrad 464!

Boggling, but still polite, we patiently explained that although computer viruses existed, they could not be "caught" by human beings and passed on to other computers by physical contact. The word "virus" was, we told her, slang that referred to hostile code that replicated itself when a disk was inserted into a computer, not an actual biological virus. Her son's computer probably had just gone faulty and needed a repair. Smiling smugly, and after informing us her son knew about computers (and that we didn't), they left the store to search for more computer-savvy tech support.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Google Moves into Internet TV, For Real

A couple days ago, YouTube added a new feature to their homepage.  This new feature was a link to a collection of movies and shows available to watch.  Unlike previous postings, these shows and movies are legal and are not illegal bootleg.

I wrote a posting last year, when Google first experimented with this idea by posting full classic Star Trek episodes.

It it very easy to get to the shows and movies.  Google added a link to the top of the YouTube homepage and several ads on the page.

Below I posted pictures to point out the updates and give you an idea of the shows.  (Notice that I used Google Chrome in the pictures.  I though it would be a fun touch to show YouTube in Google’s browser".)





Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Hate Tape Drives

Recently a tape drive broke down.  I realized one thing: I hate tape drives.  I’m not saying this to be funny, I officially hate tape drives.  They are harder than hell to get working.  It it hard to find drivers for, especially for Windows NT 4.0.  We go through these things like crazy.  The darn things keep breaking down because there are so many moving parts. 


I am looking forward to the day that computer hardware does not have any moving parts.  This means that they will last longer and will not have to be replaced as often.  But until then, we have to suffer through … tapes drives.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Computer Horror Stories – Part 1

Story 1

I used to be a technician on the U.S.S. Ranger, an aircraft carrier, just before the Gulf War. A new commanding officer had just come on board, and, in preparation for our excursion out to Iraq, he ordered that we go through all our spaces and ensure that everything was secured in place, so that if we hit rough seas, or hit something explosive, there wouldn't be debris flying everywhere. Fairly standard routine.

About two days later, the Ranger's marine detachment called my shop and said, "Our computer is broken." So I head down to the detachment office to take a look. These PCs were the old Zenith Z-248 desktop models, secured with four zillion screws and weighing in at what seemed like half a ton. Our marines had taken the order to secure things pretty seriously, because they had done it with two half inch lag bolts. They had drilled straight through the case, the mother board, the bottom of the case, and the desk it was sitting on, to drop the lag bolts in place.

They couldn't figure out what was wrong, but they knew that it wasn't going anywhere.

Story 2

Fact: Boston Computer Museum sells chocolate bars shaped like floppy disks.

Fact: Three year old kids see daddy boot his computer using a floppy to play games.

Fact: Computers are warm inside...even some quite expensive computers.

I don't want to talk about it.

Story 3

I worked at a photo lab in New Mexico. Part of my job was outputing digital files to a film recorder. Everyone there was friendly, except for one woman who never seemed to like me. After a few months I asked my boss about it. He told me that before I got there, they had tried to train her to do the digital output. They even paid for her to go to a class to learn about computers. She was the only student in the class who managed to get a floppy stuck in the drive upside down and backwards. The teacher had to disassemble the machine to get the disk out. She told him she had to pound it with the heal of her hand to get the disk to go in. After that, the photo lab decided she probably wasn't the one for that position. She always resented the fact that I had 'her' job.

Story 4

  • Tech Support: "Hello, tech support, may I help you?"
  • Customer: (in a thick Russian accent) "Yes. Monitor is working fine but has sparks and smoke flying out back. Is ok?"
  • Tech Support: (blink)

Story 5

  • Customer: "There are smoke and flames coming from my computer."
  • Tech Support: "Uh, hang up, unplug the computer from the wall, and call the local fire department."
  • Customer: "That's not the problem. I need to know how to do a backup. Fastest possible method."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stupid Tech Support Calls – Part 2

Story 1

An man purchased a laptop from me. He called about a week later and said that it would no longer boot up. He brought it in, and I discovered that sixteen nicely drilled holes were in the bottom of the case. I asked him about it, and he said the machine was too hot sitting on his lap, so he had drilled these "air holes."

"Could that be the problem?" he asked.

Story 2

One day a customer called complaining that he just received his computer, but it won't turn on. When he first pushed the power button, the screen flashed and then everything died.

I couldn't do much over the phone, so I went to the customer's office. It was plugged in, everything was hooked up ok, but, sure enough, it refused to turn on. I decided to take it back and promised to deliver a new one as soon as possible. But when I went to pick it up, I couldn't.

Fearful of thieves, the man had fired some 24 inch bolts straight through the box, through the hard drive, motherboard, everything, locking it to his desk.

"Oh," he said, "I thought it was just the TV part that was important. Will my warranty cover this?"

Story 3

  • Customer: "I need a new modem."
  • Tech Support: "What's wrong with your current modem?"
  • Customer: "The Internet light is not on."
  • Tech Support: "Did you reset your modem recently?"
  • Customer: "Yes I did, but what does it have to do with it?"
  • Tech Support: "Well, resetting the modem wipes out your configuration profile, so we just need to reconfigure it."
  • Customer: "Did you not hear me? The modem is broken, and I demand a replacement now!"
  • Tech Support: "The modem is not broken. If you are willing to, we can configure it in about 2 minutes."
  • Customer: "I want a new modem!"
  • Tech Support: "We can't replace modems over a simple reconfiguration issue. All we have to do--"


  • Customer: "Now it's broke! Replace the thing already!"
  • Tech Support: "Ok sir, we cannot replace a modem that you destroyed, and your modem is past warranty, so you'll have to buy a new one anyway."
  • Customer: "!*#$(*@#%!@&#$&*(!@#*$!@*^!@#$@" (Click.)

Story 4

While I was at college (back in the days of Archimedes computers), I often helped to teach new users the ropes while the teacher concentrated elsewhere. This one sweet girl was very new, and I didn't mind that she had no concept of the mouse, the screen, and whatnot -- she soon got good enough that I could leave her to do some task and help someone else. Pretty soon, however, she was tugging on my chair, and when I went to see what was going on, she said, "My bracelet is stuck in there."


It was wedged into the floppy disk slot. Why? Apparently, the bracelet was annoying her when she typed, so she took it off. She found a small slot on the computer with a happy little door on it and just went ahead and shoved it in. Tech support had to rescue it by taking the thing apart.

Story 5

A customer had bought a computer from us about a year ago and a Voodoo 3 card just yesterday. He took it home and tried to install it but couldn't, so he brought them both in this morning. He ranted and raved, etc. He had reboxed the Voodoo 3, expecting a replacement, so we took the computer and the Voodoo 3 in the back and told him we would fit it for free. When we opened the box for the Voodoo 3, it was in a terrible state. The bit of metal that attaches the card to the case was taken off, and a wee heatsink had been scraped off the chip with a screwdriver. I reglued the sink and reattached the backplate. So we opened the machine, and tried to fit the card. Ack. Card is AGP, computer has exactly zero AGP slots. So we went back to the front.

  • Me: "Sir, your computer has no AGP slots, and this is an AGP video card."
  • Customer: "Yeah, but the card fit perfectly into the little white slot."
  • Me: "Which white slot?"
  • Guy: "There's five of them -- little white ones. There's a spare one."
  • Me: "The PCI slot? Uhh...it shouldn't...let me check."

Sure enough, if you remove the heatsink and backplate, turn the card around, and really hammer it into the only free PCI slot, it will just fit snugly next to the hard disk.

We explained that the AGP card was completely destroyed and he had voided the warranty on it by hacking away at it with a screwdriver. The usual mad customer vs. techie exchange ensued, but he eventually backed down and bought the PCI version instead...and got us to fit it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stupid Tech Supports Calls – Part 1

The following is just a few of the stupid tech support stories that I have found around the web.  There are a lot of them, all funny.  Enjoy!

Story 1

The place I work for charges about $100/issue for tech support.

  • Tech Support: "So what can I do for you?"
  • Customer: "I'm trying to run Live Update with Norton, and it came up to a screen with a list of updates, and it says 'Next.' What do I do?"
  • Tech Support: "Did you hit 'Next'?"
  • Customer: "Oh, it's working now."
  • Tech Support: "Anything else I can do for you?"
  • Customer: "No, that's it, thanks."

Story 2

  • User: "I've just unplugged my monitor from the wall in order to clean it without getting shocked. How do I plug it back in?"

I had about ten different responses flash through my mind, but as this guy was fairly high up on the food chain of management, I had to control myself. I said, "Align the pins with the hole, and push it into the socket." Satisfied, the user hung up.

Story 3

  • Customer: "I installed Windows 98 on my computer, and it doesn't work."
  • Tech Support: "Ok, what happens when you turn on your computer?"
  • Customer: "Boy, are you listening? I said it doesn't work."
  • Tech Support: "Well, what happens when you TRY to turn it on?"
  • Customer: "Look, I'm not a computer person. Talk regular English, not this computer talk, ok?"
  • Tech Support: "Ok, let's assume your computer is turned off, and you just sat down in front of it, and want to use it. What do you do?"
  • Customer: "Don't talk like I'm stupid, boy. I turn it on."
  • Tech Support: "And then what happens?"
  • Customer: "What do you mean?"
  • Tech Support: "Does anything appear on your monitor? I mean, the TV part."
  • Customer: "The same thing I saw last time I tried."
  • Tech Support: "And that is what?"
  • Customer: "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
  • Tech Support: "Yes, sir. What is on your screen?"
  • Customer: "A bunch of little pictures."
  • Tech Support: "Ok, in the upper left corner, do you see 'My Computer'."
  • Customer: "No, all I see is that little red circle thing with the chunk out of it."
  • Tech Support: "You mean an apple?"
  • Customer: "I guess it kind of looks like an apple."

Then it took me fifteen minutes to convince him that he had a Mac. Even after showing him "About this Macintosh." I spent another fifteen minutes trying to convince him that Windows 98 wouldn't work on his Mac. He said it should work because Windows 98 is for PCs, and he had a PowerPC. I think he's still trying to get it to read that CD, because I never could convince him.

Story 4

A member of getacoder.com posted and asked for someone to write an operating system for him. It had to have all the features of Windows XP Professional. In return, he would be willing to pay $20 to $100.

The listing:

I need someone to program me a new OS (Operasting System) that looks different than Ms Windows XP etc. but has the same style. It does not need to run on a mac but all the other PCs. It's supposed to have a stylish look with clear edges etc. And ITS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE JUST A REDESIGNED WINDOWS as I'm going to sell that operating system later on. These are some important points :

It should have ALL THE FEATURES that Windows Xp Professional has. ALL the files that run on Windows XP ust also run on the BlueOrb OS. It must have a very user-friendly interface (like MS WINDOWS XP) When it gets Installed, the user needs to insert a serial number. It HAS to be HACKER SAFE! It must be quick and good looking.

Here's the listing on getacoder.com.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kumo (Live) Search’s Homepage to be

A couple of days ago, I talked to you about Kumo, Microsoft’s rebranding of Live Search.  Here is a picture of what the homepage will potentially look like.  Cosmetically, it looks the same as Live Search, but I’m not going to make the mistake of criticizing it and regretting it later.  We only see the face, what is underneath is more important.  We will just have to wait and see, but I’m hoping for a Google-Killer.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Who is he?

Have you every heard of Doctor Who and wondered who he is?  This video will clear everything up.

Hackers Zeros in on Apple

For many years, Windows has been the target for the majority of the hacker community.  Because of this many alternative operating systems claimed that they were safer than Windows.  The truth of the matter is that there are just too few people using alternative operating systems to make it worth it for hackers.

OSXLeopard Look at it this way.  About 90% of people who use computers use some version of Microsoft Windows.  Apple’s Mac OS has 9.61% of the operating system.  The other less than 2% is split among the many versions of Unix and Linux.  Why would a hacker waste his time breaking into an operating system that .5% of people use?  It’s more logical to do something that would cause the most amount of damage and open the most number of computers to pillage.

OS Market Share

That said, hackers are either getting tired of Windows or the security is getting better because Apple has been coming under more attacks in recently.  There have been several bugs that targeted Mac OS.  In recent news, it has been announced that Apple’s browser, Safari, is vulnerable.

Apple_Safari The annual hacker contest Pwn2Own is almost here.  Charlie Miller, last year’s winner, said that Apple’s Safari would be “easy pickings”.  He predicted that 4 people would be able to crack the browser.  This does not bode well for Apple, especially in light of their recent release of Safari 4 beta.  This is also bad news for Windows people who use Safari.  It will give hackers a back-door into Windows.

My advice: Apple should stop boasting about the performance and features of both their operating system and browser.  Instead they should hire some of these hackers to help them tighten up security in their products.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Microsoft Advertisements from India – Part 3

Let’s see how long we can keep this going.

Microsoft’s Second Try at Search

Several years ago Microsoft realized that there was a computer related market that they did not dominate: search.  They immediately moved to unseat the ruling and undisputed leader in search, Google.  They introduced Live Search and the Windows Live suite of products to do just that.

Overall, Live search has a 8.5% market share of US searches (Jan 2009)  and 1.73% international market share (Feb 2009).  Not all that great.

Recently, news has come out that Microsoft will rebrand and re-release it’s search engine.  The name, sources discovered, will be Kumo.  In fact, Microsoft Netherlands released a screenshot.  They also stated that Kumo would work with the Web Slices function in IE8.  (I will comment on this at a later time.)

It will be interesting to see what actually comes out of this name change.  Hopefully it goes better than Microsoft’s attempt to buy Yahoo for it’s search capabilities.

Kumo, Live Search rebranded

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Update on Chrome Bundling

In a previous post, I predicted that Google would give Microsoft a run for it’s money by making deals to have the Chrome browser bundled with new computers.  Today, news came out that Google is making some headway in that direction.  Google Chrome is now bundled with Real Player.  While this is a long way from being bundled with an operating system, it still shows a step in the right direction for Google.


Microsoft Advertisement from India – Part 1

I know that this is the first blog post I have written in a long time. Sorry about that. College work tends to get hectic, but now that I have Windows Live Writer I can put up posts faster and will get more up.

Microsoft has spend quite a few dollars (or rupees) advertising in India. Why not?! They have the business of almost all of the developed world, why not aim for developing countries. This will be the first in a series of Microsoft ads from India that I will post. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chrome vs. Everyone Else: The Long Haul

Google has a history of taking products that we have taken for granted and making them better. The latest example is Google's take on the browser, Chrome. With this new development, all the other browsers are going to have start praying.

First, lets take a history trip back to the beginning of the original browser wars. Netscape Navigator was the big browser. Microsoft released their Internet Explorer to compete with it. Before too long Internet Explorer was bundled with Microsoft Windows. Microsoft gained over 90% market share and Netscape faded into obscurity.

Out of the ashes of Netscape rose Firefox with the hope of challenging Microsoft's dominance. In a small way, they have been successful. Today Firefox controls about 20% of the market. However, Firefox is not bundled with any Windows based computers as far as I know. For most people, Internet Explorer come default on their computer and they don't use anything else.

Google may mix things up and change the way things are usually done. Not to long ago, it was announced that Google was making a deal with computer companies to get Chrome bundled as the default browser. This will probably take some money on Google's part, but they have enough do it. This would seriously threaten Internet Explorer's dominance.

Firefox also has reasons to fear Google. In 2008, Mozilla, creators of Firefox, reported income of $75 million. $66 million of that came from Google. Imagine what will happen when Google stops investing in Mozilla. This will cause Mozilla to fold up and die.

It looks as though Mozilla realizes what's going on. Recently, they made an announcement. The Russian localization of Firefox is switching from Google to a Russian search engine named Yandex. They say this search engine to better designed for Russian needs, but I think there is more to it than that.

Only time will tell, but I predict that Google will shut down Firefox and another browser war will erupt, this time between Microsoft and Google. I'm betting that Google, the younger company will win out.