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Archive for June, 2013

Web Hosting Problems

June 22nd, 2013 Comments off

This domain was unavailable this morning due to technical problems with my hosting service Network Solutions. My business Web site, this blog, and the business e-mail service were all unavailable. I’ve had frequent problems with the e-mail hosting for both the business e-mail and my personal domain. Often the server is unavailable or fails to recognize my log-in.

I called Network Solutions this morning and waited over 15 minutes to speak with some robot in the call center. I explained the problems and she recited the canned spiel about the technicians working on the problem. I nicely explained my dissatisfaction with the service and asked her to relay my dissatisfaction to whomever is responsible for customer service. The response was to put me on hold and after another 5 minutes of listening to distorted music I gave up.

I thought Network Solutions would provide reliable service but that is not the case. Unfortunately I renewed the hosting service for 2 years just a few months ago. I will certainly look for an alternative once I use up the remaining service time.

Categories: General Observations, Site News Tags:

Windows 8 – Part 2

June 12th, 2013 Comments off

After using Windows 8 on the desktop for a while, I understand what Microsoft is trying to accomplish: include a convenient smart phone or tablet-style interface to show the commonly-used application while getting away from the desktop metaphor. That seems well and good, except the desktop metaphor works better on a large screen with a keyboard and mouse. I can see all of my commonly-used applications and a whole lot more when my screen is 24 inches instead of 4-10 inches. It is similar to Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and 10.8 (“Mountain Lion”) that includes the “Launchpad,” “Dashboard” “Notification Center” features. The difference between recent version of Mac OS X and Windows 8 is that Apple allows the user to turn off the cell phone interface and use the traditional (and much more productive) desktop interface by default. Windows 8 does not offer this option.

Microsoft has recently announced that the first major update to Windows 8 (“8.1”) will include an option to go directly to the desktop, and will offer some sort of alternative to the Start Screen for launching programs “for use with keyboard and mouse.” I’m surprised it took them this long to come around. Exactly how this will be implemented remains to be seen.

The included “Tile” applets like Mail and Calendar all run full screen. Again, this is appropriate a small screen but is ridiculous on a large screen. Why would I want to view my daily calendar full screen at 1920 x 1200? Again, all that is needed is to provide the option to run it in a window. After all, this is “Windows.”

Until Microsoft corrects the one-size-fits-all mentality, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to prefer Windows 8 over Windows 7 for devices with medium to large screens. For tablets, it is a different story since a Windows “Pro” tablet that can run full version of programs like Word and Acrobat and thus may serve as a lightweight replacement for a larger notebook. And a Windows RT tablet may be an alternative to an iPad or Android tablet. I still prefer a lightweight notebook over a tablet for this application, but it is good to have alternatives.

Categories: General Observations Tags:

Welcome To The Police State

June 6th, 2013 Comments off

President Obama stated that it was time to end the “war on terrorists.” I agree. It’s also time to end the police state that collects data on  what everyone is the U.S. is doing, just in case (in the words of Senator Feinstein) they “might become a terrorist in the future.” Since my youth I worried that a Nazi-like regime could appear again. This NSA surveillance is beginning to look like the Gestapo.

I guess I was naive in thinking that the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would prohibit searching my personal data except  where there is probable cause.

Categories: General Observations, Legal News Tags:

Big Brother Is Watching

June 6th, 2013 Comments off

A news story today that reports a leak of a secret court order. The order requires Verizon business services to turn over to the National Security Agency information regarding all telephone calls and data usage by Verizon business customers on a daily basis. The information does not include the content of the communications, but simply the the logs of the communication such as phone numbers, time and length of connection, etc.

This single leak is probably just the tip of the iceberg. How many other orders have been made that were not leaked to the media? Is the government sifting through the logs of every phone call and every data connection made in the U.S.? This is a definite possibility. I guess the 4th Amendment has been nullified by the Patriot Act. I expected better from this administration.

Categories: Legal News Tags:

Windows 8 Test Drive

June 5th, 2013 Comments off

I’ve played around a bit with Windows 8 in stores but never really used it. My first impression was that it seemed ok for tablets and notebooks with small screens, but it was a step backwards for desktop computers and notebooks with large screens. I thought it might be useful to do a more extended evaluation. I didn’t want to spend any money on something that I probably won’t use, so I downloaded a limited time evaluation copy from Microsoft.

The first day of testing Windows 8 was an exercise in frustration. All of the feature and settings seemed to be hidden. I had to keep going back to the tiled “Start Page” and from there grope around to find the application or setting. What I could do in one or two clicks of the mouse in Windows 7 now required 4 or 5 clicks or more. Eventually I could find the Control Panel or whatever else I was looking for. But I really saw no benefit in the clumsy grafting of the mobile-device oriented tile interface to Windows 7.

The second day I started to get use to the layout. Running programs could be accessed from the upper left corner of the start page, and the list of all programs could be accessed by right-clicking the bottom of the page. I can customize the tile layout including the programs that appear, size, and position. Tile based programs allow live content on the start page: the Mail program can preview incoming mail, the Weather program shows the forecast, News can show headlines, etc. I can see where that might be useful. Conventional Windows programs will include an icon on the desktop and the desktop Task Bar, so you do not need to go back to the start page. You can also add as desktop toolbar to the task bar to directly access the Control Panel and other settings from the desktop. That greatly reduces the frustration with the simplified tile overlay.

… to be continued

Categories: General Observations Tags: