* Posts by Paul Vail

34 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Thai kids find free tablets hard to swallow as govt scheme hits trouble

Paul Vail

Re: What is the point...

The point is that tablets offer the ability to be electronic books, drawing tables, calculators, audio and video players all in one place. The paper book is no longer $$$$/child. The ability to have one tool rather than 5 means space and (presumably) cost savings.

Unless they don't work. Or run on some obscure Android release binding the children to seven levels of hell.

The amazing magical LED: Has it really been fifty years already?

Paul Vail

Re: LED lighting instead of fluorescent 'haz mat'

Being scientifically literate in the US (rare animal, I know), I cringe at statements like this. The CFLs contain a very small amount of Hg, like 5 mg or less. If one takes into account the amount of power saved over their 3 year lifespan, and translate that into the amount of coal NOT burned to produce the wasted electricity saved, you'll note the Hg emissions avoided from the coal burning would be far GREATER than the 5 mg released if EVERY CFL bulb was smashed on the ground at its EOL.

Clearly the latter is not going to happen much, and if the bulbs are recycled (accepted for free here in the States by home improvement stores), the Hg release is very, very small. If we add in the overall reduction in Hg to our food sources (less Hg pollution to the Atlantic seaboard fisheries), then our overall Hg exposure continues to diminish even with the widespread adoption of the CFLs.

I don't know where Mr. Hawkins resides, but my understanding is that the UK has a history of relying on coal for some power production as well. Brits, to our uninformed American way of thinking, also likely consume some seafood, and maybe even have conservatives that actually conserve (or know the meaning of the root word - another rare animal in the States).

The total cost of ownership of a CFL is at break-even in 3 months in my area, but the TCO of an LED doesn't reach break-even for most consumers until well over 2 years. I like the 'warm' CFLs personally, and look forward to slightly warmer LEDs as they arrive. I'll begin converting to LED only when the TCO break-even drops below 2 years.

Paul Vail

Re: Every one already?

I live in Raleigh, NC, USA. There are still signals that have not been converted, but my unscientific survey would say at least 90% of the lights I drive by have been converted. An article in the local rag here years back ran the power consumption numbers, and noted that the (then) very pricey bulbs would pay for themselves in electrical savings in well under a year. Naturally, our taxes were not adjusted downward a year on, so either the cost savings was not realized, or we have politicians in our midst. Me fears the latter.

So no, the claim of the author was inaccurate, but every time a bulb blows in a signal there is one less tungsten traffic light. BTW -- we are somewhat slow to adopt new technology in the South. A generation has to die out before we move ahead one step.

Triceratops horn find supports meteor extinction theory

Paul Vail


The only way in which this horn supports the theory is that it is yet one more data point showing no dino bones post-date the K-T layer. I would think digs at sites further from the epicenter of the strike may have a better chance of showing bones just beneath. Montana was not too distant, compared to say China -- so would its proximity to the impact make the K-Y layer less distinct?

The Cube: Apple's daftest, strangest romance

Paul Vail

Mine still works

Bought mine when CompUSA discontinued them -- got the display model with the 15" screen. Upgraded to 1.5Gb RAM, tried the larger hard drives -- went back to a 5400 rpm 120Gb, and added a quiet fan to the bracket clearly designed for one. OS 10.4.11 -- runs as the house media server as well as general browsing. With the likes of Appleworks, MS Office 2004, Starcraft, Photoshop 7 and more, it's got plenty of workstation life left in the old thing. Tell me, is MS Office 11 making you more productive than Office X or 98? Does that new Quicken do more for you than Quicken 98 or 2007? Has the content of the Internet improved -- or declined -- in a decade. Surely music hasn't improved. So I don't get the foolish tripe drawn out every discussion about how things are better. The Cube is as good as any modern computer in terms of what most all of us do with them. I look to having this box live another 10 years. Tell me how many other computers are doing daily service 10 years on.

Apple closes book on iPhone-look jotter

Paul Vail

there goes my plans

to own the feminine hygiene market with my own custom iPads. Does that make it black and white and red (sic) all over?

Mac OS X 10.6.8 hails from Paleolithic era

Paul Vail

Um... no issues here

PICNIC - problem in chair, not in computer.

A peek inside Apple's iCloud data center

Paul Vail
Thumb Down

hey, there's my investment in Xserves..

I knew they wouldn't kill off the Xserves we bought. Oh wait, those are the MacPro servers we all turn on their sides... no, no, I'm mistaken. Those are Mac Minis for running the enterprise.

Um -- OK, I think Steve bought a Dell, dude.

Simply viewing Apple kit provokes religious euphoria

Paul Vail

perpetuation of foolish notions?

Why did the researchers assume the areas of the brain titillated about this originally developed for religion? Or was that the journalist and his poetic license?

Those areas of the brain originally lit up at the site of an attractive member of the opposite sex in the flesh, or slower moving prey, or ripe berries on the vine. Just because some punter dusts his broom while fantasizing about invisible friends, then expands his fantasies to inanimate objects for his misplaced love doesn't make that section of the brain 'for religion'.

Those areas were far more functional for mating and munchies -- diety dalliances came (sic) much later.

Paul Vail

glacially, it continues...

Windows is down to under 89%, Apple Mac+iOS up above 7%.


Apple squashes location tracking 'bugs' with iOS update

Paul Vail


So Apple (and other vendors) have a way to cache data locally on the phone to assist your aGPS needs. And if they didn't, the chatter from the phone to the network would increase your data transfer dramatically -- jacking your bill for that traffic. But you'll whine anyway, because that's what you do. All of you.

The cost of beating Apple's shrewd screws? £2

Paul Vail

title? what title?

You don't 'own' it if Apple has to warranty things. Until the warranty expires, you have limited access unless you do not wish to exercise the warranty. You break it, you (should) buy it. But here in the States there are a lot of DYI types who think others should pay for their experimentation. Then again, we've had 30 years of Reaganomics where the neo-cons felts everyone else should pay for their experimentation. Perhaps it is only an extension of a culture in decline...

Apple yanks Snow Leopard Server 10.6.5 update

Paul Vail

January 15?

Let's do the time warp again. .. Was this 10.6.5 v1.1 release really 10 months ago? Man, I missed it.

Steve Jobs in iPhone bitchslap to creationists, Tea Party

Paul Vail

Pots and Kettles?

Hypocrites, perhaps. We kind of felt that way about the crown in 1776, too. The whole citizen/representation thing. I guess every nation has to go through that whole process to become has-beens. Our country (the U.S.) is unfortunately sliding down toward the abyss in which our Pond counterparts now find themselves.

Paul Vail
Paris Hilton

No, no no no NO!

ARRRRgggh. We did NOT descend from a monkey.

We and the monkeys descended from something (more monkey-like than us-like, well, if you stand naked in front of a mirror and such). Good grief -- read Chuckie's work, will ya.

I'm not saying that Palin or ODonnell don't look monkeyish when they speak, or in front of a mirror unclothed -- but here, I digress.

Paris, because that Japanese hotel jail has just got to be worse than the limo ride in Vegas.

Office for Mac finally breaks out of Microsoft

Paul Vail
Gates Horns

more than one reason to move to Mail

You may have to click (elsewhere) for your iCalendar or your AddressBook, but whether it is a click to the left (cue Rocky Horror music) or just a click to the dock... it's just one click, dude.

As for mail filters, Enrage is just as horrid as Mail. No one with half a brain (first name=Steve) would use either without SpamSieve.

Here's the value in drinking the Mail-koolaid -- Mail's stores are mbox files (plural). I invite any Outlook or e-rage user to explore what happens when one little bit flips in that massive database they call an email store from Redmond. Try backing that beast up with TimeMachine, Bru or Retrospect on a daily/weekly basis -- sucks the living storage out of any external drive or tape. Mail (or Eudora) mbox methods keeps the backups and the data recovery to a sane level. Not something considered by the propellerheads who dig single point of failure mail storage. One dead mbox file = one missing email, not 1 or 2 or 3 Gbs or years of communication. Oh wait, that's a problem how?

'Freeware' phishing kit dupes s'kiddies

Paul Vail
Paris Hilton

Conspiracy Theorists love it

Ah, those pesky arabs... committing economic warfare against the unsuspecting west again using our own stupidity against us. First they came at us with that whole zero-nine numbering scam (clearly bringing the downfall of Rome), then that whole religion thing (as if two Abraham lineages weren't enough bother), then they suckered us into a civilization based on petroleum -- and now this. When will it end?

Paris... because she'd never let herself get hacked. Oh, wait...

Cybercrime's bulletproof hosting exposed

Paul Vail


The issue isn't the botnet -- it's the user who buys the product.

Where's a decent plague when you need one...

Undead botnets blamed for big rise in email malware

Paul Vail

never happens

an ISP here in the States never removes the infected user from their services. That would be a reduction in profits. Easier to tolerate bot traffic spewing garbage than replying to or following up on ANY report of infected IP addresses (with supportive logs to determine the errant customer exactly). Here, ISPs turn a blind eye to the problem rather than risk offending paying sheeple. Is this the case in Europe?

Spanish disco offers gals free 'consolers'

Paul Vail


Is this another OhMiBod giveaway?

Scientists unlock DIY DNA

Paul Vail

Then again, Gordon is a Moron

@Gordon, um... my biochem paper hangs on my wall, too. However, in our PCR lab work even 20 years on, the enzymes didn't target amino acids, since that isn't what makes up DNA (come on, you can say it: deoxyribonucleic acid, not protein).

And I don't see where the folks promoted this fallacy discuss supplemental DNA analysis from mitochondria, a different genome, but would have to be a 'must match' between suspect DNA and collected evidence. Once again, did anyone ask a real biochemist about these tests and their meaning?

LHC rushed back into service at 50% max power

Paul Vail

Big Bang or 4004 BC?

And once again, the cycle repeats... a species gets just a little too full of itself and in 15 billion years (a billion here, a billion there ... pretty soon we're talking real time) some pondscum that thinks too much of itself will be inventing all new mythologies to explain how its universe came into existance. Little will they know...

Palm slams Apple, hoodwinks iTunes

Paul Vail
Paris Hilton

Beware! There be lawyers...

I can soon see some duff who goes out and buys a Palm, syncs up with their iTunes library, gets locked out and sues Apple because their Palm doesn't work as Palm advertised. Yep... only a matter of time. Maybe Apple is saving us all legal nightmares by not tacitly permitting Palm's desired free ride.

Wow -- you mean this isn't a real Rolex you sold me, Palm? Oh, how could you?

Paris, because at least you know what you're getting...

Nokia nixes flagship phone in US

Paul Vail

Try supporting what you make, Nokia

I've an E71 -- great little phone, but have you tried to find applications for it. That's a googling exercise in extreme frustration. Spending 3 hours looking for apps at hundreds of websites, after sifting through hundreds of forum postings that don't lead to solutions, is discouraging. If Nokia spent a million on three or four web coders and crafted an 'iTunes' store for apps for their line of phones, us dumb 'Americans' might warm to Nokia. Or, hey, here's a thought: open more than 2 stores in the US. Or, hey, here's a thought: have franchise partners who can help service the phones. With an older 6230, I needed a firmware upgrade to have it see its own SD card for music storage. Couldn't download the software from the web, couldn't download an installer app. Couldn't take it to a local store for a firmware update. Was instructed that I would have to ship it to Nokia for 2-3 wks. My business cell phone, without it for 2-3 wks? Nokia -- grow up and support your products. Oh, and make a VNC client for the E71 that works. Maybe some of us dirty Americans will respond by that tired old method of viral marketing your products for you. We do like a lot of your output, but the support execution sucks -- unless that's just how you do it overseas.

Apple pulls posted pulled iPhone modem app

Paul Vail
Paris Hilton

Blackberry 8120s suck the same

iPhones aren't the only 'smartphone' hit with the stupidstick. The Blackberry 8120 is dog meat in an Olympian way -- bluetooth-enabled, but not with the Mac for syncing. Smartphones -- heh, there's a concept stillborn.

Paris, because only she can share over bluetooth. (and share, and share...)

Ankle-biting hackers storm net's overlords, hijack their domains

Paul Vail

and you think ICANN knows what they are doing?

look as how they coddle the cybersquatter industry. ICANN is a joke.

Mac OS X Tiger out, Leopard back in

Paul Vail
IT Angle

alternative sw

The article is nice and all, but so little research went into the application part of it. Spend a little time on VersionTracker or any of the boards, and a wealth of alternatives pop up. GraphicConverter is pretty powerful for most Photoshop needs. NeoOffice, as mentioned above, obviates the need for X11. Compatibility issues for many were and remain due to haxies and not Tiger issues. Yes, Adobe sucks (Photoshop 7 no longer works), but that just leaves begging solutions for some developer that isn't Adobe -- we do hope. Do your homework (and don't rely on your readership to do it all for you -- makes for a better read.

There was a package called Canvas for the Mac that was on par with the CS collective. But Deneba let it get stale, sold it to a pathetic little company that does scrapbooking, and it hasn't been bought up by a smart firm. Bit of a pity, in that it has some powerful tools, too. Apple should take note.

As for the evolution of the OS X Kernal, it has done some significant growing up. Wasn't really locked down until 10.3, and with the intel changes after 10.4.6, it has done some more changes. Running 10.5.2 on a PB G4 867, it isn't any slower than Tiger. Give it some working room on the hard drive with 5 Gb free and allow it to run its maintenance routines in the wee hours, and it does just fine.

Internet s&x auction ends in pregnancy, legal feud

Paul Vail

or was this a 'buy it now' item?

One auction, six winners ?

I think she was flogging the same item to all !

Um... isn't this a 'dutch' auction on eBay?

Apple keeps critical security fixes to itself

Paul Vail

Yawn... maybe the common Joe isn't as stupid as you IT types want

and perhaps we common joes will download and install the patches because we've grown accustomed to finding most bug fixes are worthwhile. What an arrogant bunch you are to think the general public is too stupid to think an update might be a 'good thing'?

After all the years of being 'trained' to suspect every patch is required in Windows, even us switchers are aware enough to consider that if a patch is offered, there might be a reason for it.

Burned by a MacBook

Paul Vail

No backups, bad optical drive

Or did the writer put a minibusiness card disc in a slot-load drive and destroy it prior to using normal size media -- perhaps part of the story that didn't get written up? Was that cord bent back and forth until the wires shorted and burned out? Did the author use an external hard drive and free software like carbon copy cloner to make backups? Did her friend -- the expert -- tell her that a flashing question mark is just as often a corrupt directory normally repaired with the Disk Utility, Disk Warrior or a dozen other apps?

There's a ton wrong here -- and a lot we might not have been told. Hey, maybe this just runs right up the winteller fanboi club, or the macfanboi club. But this non-professional can easily see a lot that the user here could have done to contribute to her problems. Thankfully, she didn't get really hurt -- but the rest of this screams out for a competent consultant -- not the genius bar, or the winteller 'geniuses here.

Danes 'prove' sudden iBook death syndrome

Paul Vail

Surface mount chips all can have issues

My daughter's clamshell iBook was an ebay purchase. The seller said it was pristine, but within a day or two of receiving it, a six year old girl was frustrated and tearful about the sound that would come and go. Using external speakers through the stereo audio port would sometimes work (or iPod earbuds), but not reliably. Sometimes one could press on the case next to that port and the sound would come back. After a few months of this, I disassembled the iBook, got out the dissecting microscope and saw that many of the leads on the IC next to the audio port had lifted from the board.

I have a very nice soldering kit, so with it, a coffee-free morning and the scope, we carefully resoldered the chip to the board -- kissing each lead until the solder below melted. Sound was completely restored.

I've currently got a G4 iBook that will blink off when lifted from a table. I've thought it was a bad battery contact ... now I think I need to walk the boards to look for more loose leads on chips. Many thanks for the article -- Legos and Metallica: never thought there was a connection there.

What someone else attempted to describe is thermal hysteresis (or thermal fatigue / annularization) of the solder, where the heat/cool cycles will propagate minute imperfections of a solder joint into cracks that eventually lead to intermittant open contacts -- and a faulty circuit. Used to be the most common failure of the power Caps in the 128K/512/Plus series of Macs -- and Pina's 'Lost Mac Scrolls' helped us salvage many a goner Mac. Looks like this problem will never go away completely so long as we have solder and heat. Maybe once we go to solid state 'hard drives' and LED displays, a lot of that heat will be managed better -- but ANY electronic device will always have some risk of this aging phenomenon. The old tin/lead is stronger than tin/silver/copper now in production -- we'll have to see if going green means filling landfills faster...

Hotmail's antispam measures snuff out legit emails, too

Paul Vail

Golly, and what OS is favored by the BotNet scum?

Anyone care to wager what particular OS by what particular vendor is responsible for the security lapses that permit botnets? A Windows user is simply a spammer waiting to happen.

'Please read this important email: you are being shot'

Paul Vail

Technology isn't the answer

Kurt is right on the money. I spent a decade in Blacksburg, as a student and employee. The campus is huge - think large town. This isn't a cluster of buildings on a 27 acres -- it is 100 times larger. Nothing short of police cruisers gliding by expressing the message on the loudspeaker could have been effective. And until the shooting in Norris began, Kurt's post is correct is asserting this was thought to be love-gone-wrong, and West AJ was the end of it.

Blast the school all you want. I'd like to know what the response times were when the Tube was bombed on 7/7, or that knifer in the British school. The fact of the matter is that we humans do not think on large scale very often. 9/11 - so complex and huge (yet so simple), that we still are in denial in some capacity. This Hokie tragedy didn't fit any model of terrorism to date. It didn't make for something easily deliniated in an action protocol handbook. They had a couple of folks killed -- and unless there was evidence to the contrary, why should Tech have shut down completely? The media 'experts' do monday-morning quarterbacking all the time. Did CNN's offices shut down when that guy shot his girlfriend RIGHT OUTSIDE THEIR DOOR some days ago? Where was their action plan? Why were they still on the air? Because they thought it was horrible on that scale, but that it was also over. At VPI, the campus cops thought the same. Sadly, they were wrong -- but who here would have reacted any different? I seriously doubt anyone in the media or outside of the situation can possibly be in a position to cast stones.

If you want to cast stones -- look at why the Governor became so defensive about gun topics. Yes we are in mourning. Yes, we need time to heal. But we should also be angry that this incident could have been made less likely if we had politicians of either stripe with backbone. Follow the money to him and the folks in Richmond VA who are so petrified by any concept of handgun control. Not long-gun -- just handgun. At least with a long gun, it would have been a lot harder for the shooter to have concealed his intent as he crossed the Drillfield to Norris. I'm pro 2nd amendment, but not for hand guns. It is well past time the moderates stood up to the extremists within the NRA and made sensible controls. But alas, politicians cower before the extremists... unable and unwilling to build a society capable of offering better protections for our children.

No technology can protect us from a determined killer. Nothing can offer instant communication the way the media pretends it *should have happened*. Nothing the Tech Police could have done to lessen this sad event. Those who wish to blame them need to walk that campus to understand the total enormity of possibilities they faced, and the reasonable assumptions made.