Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Almost upgrade time!

27.10.2011 00:46

Last week, I decided to go through with upgrading my laptop. The laptop is a 3 years old Dell Studio 1535, with 250 GB hard drive space and 3 GB RAM. After some research, I found that it currently has two RAM modules installed (one 2 GB and one 1 GB), and supports a maximum of 4 GB, meaning, I’ll be replacing the 1 GB module with a 2 GB one, maxing out what the laptop can handle. I also went with a new 500 GB hard drive, doubling the total capacity it can handle. Last, but not least, I threw in a 8 GB USB memory stick for good measure. It will come in handy when transferring somewhat large amount of data.

I finally got a message from the postal service that it was almost here:

Meaning, the package is ready to be picked up tomorrow. And since I just found out that the downtown post office had spent the last few days moving to another location, which would become just a few minutes away from where I work, it won’t even be a detour during my lunch break.

I might even get brand new software for my upgrade from my workplace, too. Today, the laptop has Windows Vista Ultimate and Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate, amongst other things, and through my office, I have access to Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010. I just have to ask my boss for the license keys, and it looks like I’ll go for the Windows 7 Professional and Office Professional Plus 2010 editions, since our company’s subscription package includes more than one license for these two. Our company only has one single license for the Ultimate edition of Windows 7, and I don’t want to be the one hogging this particular one. Besides, the differences between “Professional” and “Ultimate” aren’t that much of a deal anyway.

If I get the license keys secured before the weekend, I’ll be spending the weekend upgrading and reinstalling software, and start next week with a renewed laptop.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Or, at least somewhat, since my laptop won’t exactly be online while I’m doing this.


Browser IQ

29.08.2011 17:47

Last month, several news media (even the reputable ones) reported that a study claiming that Internet Explorer users had lower IQ than users of other browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Safari), and that users of Opera and Camino browsers had “exceptionally higher” IQ levels. I primarily use Opera myself, but since I was on vacation at the time, and wasn’t that much online, the story never caught my eye until the aftermath earlier this month.

Just about every news media took the bait, never researching further into the story, which shows how strong the inclination of Microsoft-hate has become – a claim that users of Microsoft’s already-controversy-filled browser seemed likely to those who are against Microsoft on some level or another. I’m not too keen on either Microsoft or Apple, but I do see good market areas for their products – it’s like that quote about religion; “I’ve got nothing against God, it’s his fanclub I can’t stand” – it’s the herd of almost-religious followers of either side I’m very much against. I’m also kind of glad I was playing the high-resolution offline game (aka. “real life”) at the time, or I would most likely have been suckered in as well.

What annoys me the most about the story, is the follow-up by the joker who published the false study in the first place, trying to set people straight. In the aftermath, he had released at least two articles – “How the hoax started and propagated” and “Tell-Tale signs that should have uncovered the hoax in less than 5 minutes” (I have saved a cached version of these for your viewing pleasure, since the original site has been taken down and only redirects to some price-comparison site) – and the latter one seems rather arrogant towards researchers and those who believed the story in the first place. I’d like to point out flaws with each of the eight so-called “tell-tale signs” for you.

1. The domain was registered on July 14th 2011.

Sure, this might have revealed that the so-called research bureau hadn’t been in business longer than a week or two, but who does this as their first step towards confirming the truthfulness of a published study? For all we know, the new name/domain might have been a recent change, as companies all over the world change names all the time.

2. The test that was mentioned in the report, “Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (IV) test” is a copyrighted test and cannot be administered online.

Who knows these things? Sure, the test is probably under some level of copyright, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be administered online. There are several tests that are administered this way. For instance, most Cisco certifications (such as CCNA) is administered partially online. Granted, they are administered in a secured environment certified by their test delivery partner Pearson VUE, but they are nevertheless able to administer some of the exams online.

3. The phone number listed on the report and the press release is the same listed on the press releases/whois of my other websites. A google search reveals this.

Granted, the researchers with the news media might have tried calling the phone number listed in the report and press release, but there’s usually no need for this, unless they want to request additional information not already addressed in the press release or the report itself.

Also, you may want to look into what’s known as “call centers” (for incoming use).

4. The address listed on the report does not exist.

Unless you went to the address yourself (or live in the nearby area of the proposed address), used Google Maps/Streetview, or tried sending a letter to that address, how would you know? There are also streets that are small enough to not appear on larger map services, you know. (Especially streets that only have one or two street numbers assigned to them.)

Also, changes in street names or numbers are usually transparent to most people – just because a street changes its name doesn’t mean the address never existed in the first place. For all we know, the analytics bureau hadn’t updated their marketing materials for some time (or had overlooked that particular marketing template), which might have listed an older address.

5. All the material on my website was not original.

The researchers were addressing the received study, not going into detailed scrutiny of the website it was linked to. If you’re receiving financial advice from someone, do you audit their entire financial background before you act on the advice?

6.  The website is made in WordPress. Come on now!

Just because someone’s website is made in WordPress, doesn’t mean that it’s not reputable. Network Solutions, Samsung, TechCrunch, Forbes, Ford, Rackspace, Spotify, eBay, Ben & Jerry’s, CNN’s Business 360, GE, Pepsi, OnStar, Best Buy, Fisher Price, and even Wall Street Journal, all use WordPress for some section of their websites (if not all), just to mention a few. Just the fact that they trust the WordPress publishing platform for a part of their business areas elevates the trustworthiness of WordPress, as far as I can tell, not the other way around. I mean, something like that doesn’t pull the trustworthiness of those companies downwards, does it?

7. I am sure, my haphazardly put together report had more than one grammatical mistakes.

Typos can happen to anyone. If you have someone who doesn’t have English as their first language (such as myself), grammatical errors are bound to happen at any time. Even if the domain WHOIS record for currently lists “Tarandeep Singh Gill” (a foreign-to-America-sounding name, even for Canada) at the top of the registrant’s record, you don’t expect perfect grammar for any news source.

8. There is a link to our website in the footer.

I’m sure this guy has never heard of sponsorships. Even an analytics bureau has to have income from somewhere – a business not related to the type of studies released by said bureau may just reveal where they get their money from.

And from what I could tell, is a price comparison search engine, which has nothing to do with browser user analytics. For all we know, that site might’ve even assisted in reeling in users/participants for the study.


As I mentioned earlier, a simple phone call or two might have debunked the so-called study at an earlier point, but I feel the reasons for discovering the validity listed by the original prankster in themselves are just a tad off.

Summer is here, and so is Monday

20.06.2011 20:09

Yes, summer is here, hot weather, ice cream (outside!!), brighter days, the whole shebang. Such things make my spirit lighter, even though “hot” around here means sun with anything above 13° Celsius (around 55° Fahrenheit), or above 15° C (59° F) without the sun. The picture above is of me enjoying the sun, composited over a panoramic view over Brosundet (the sound between the two main city islands in Ålesund), both taken on my way to work today.

Then again, although I don’t usually experience such things, today was also what could be called a “typical” Monday. About 10 minutes before I was due in a teleconference meeting (over the Internet – via WebEx), my laptop started to slow down on me. Every browser window or new program I wanted to run/open took at least a few minutes just to show some activity. This meant that I was also unable to connect to the meeting and participate. When I finally got to a point where I could connect, the meeting was already over. Shucks, indeed. Thankfully, I was able to get a second meeting, with a summary of the first, about 45 minutes later. This gave me enough time to reboot my laptop completely, just to root out any programs running in the background that was causing this slowdown.

Even if the client contact and I have such a good tone that we could brush it off in the end, such breakdowns in technology do darken my originally bright day.

On a brighter note, I was able to secure myself one ticket to see the sneak preview of the latest Harry Potter movie on July 13, just three days before I leave for USA. I just wanted to get it out of the way before I go, and in the time leading up to the movie premiere, I’ll be watching all 7 of the previous movies, 6 of them on DVD. I admit, I’ve downloaded “part 1” of this two-parter illegally, rather than getting it on DVD, but that’s because I want to buy these two parts as a complete set, and not separately. I assume these last two in the series will be sold together as a boxed item once the last one is ready for release on DVD and Blu-ray.


14.06.2011 01:45

Over the last week, I’ve watched the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, just to catch up on the storyline, and on Sunday, I finally got around to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment in the story of Captain Jack Sparrow, based on the Disney ride of the same name. And since the early showing was the 3D version, I decided to go for it. I’ve heard so much hype about movies in 3D, and having tried it briefly on my visit to Disney World and Universal Studios two years ago (although only for 5-10 minutes at a time), I thought I’d give it a whirl.

To be honest, it didn’t impress me much. Sure, some segments had some “cheap 3D tricks”, such as pointing a sword in your face, and sitting in a small rowboat (making you feel like you’re sitting right across from the person). The beginning, with the 3D version of the Disney logo, and looking across the ocean in darkness, were quite impressive, but as the movie progressed, I got the feeling that I might as well could be watching the “regular” 2D version. And with the Norwegian tradition of subtitling everything in Norwegian when another language is spoken, it broke the illusion at a few points in the movie. Granted, the subtitles were “floating” in front of the movie (and was more or less unreadable when I removed my 3D glasses, just to double-check), but when a person was supposed to be closer to us in distance, at a eyeball’s measure being “in front” of where the subtitles were positioned, the illusion broke as soon as that person moved sideways to where the subtitles were. Also, the fact that the movie screen is a limited rectangle did its job of ruining the 3D illusion at some points.

The movie itself was pretty good, though. It did keep in canon with the rest of the movies, even though I missed seeing both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly from the previous movies, even if their characters’ stories are more or less done at this point. Only a few small cameo appearances would’ve been enough to satisfy me, though, just as some reassurance that their characters were still around.

In any case, I’ll be looking forward to parts 5 and 6, which are coming out in 2013 and 2014 (if the rough release dates listed on IMDb can be trusted).

Way beyond normal (in the wrong direction)

05.11.2010 15:23

I’m seriously starting to wonder what the hell is going in with South-East Asia in general. (If you’re sick of rants about China, North Korea and/or politics, skip the next two paragraphs.)

As you may’ve caught, China strongly disapproved of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 2010, Liu Xiaobo, as they consider him to be a criminal. They’ve gone as far as sending letters to the Oslo-based embassies of Western governments, urging them to disapprove of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (and not attend the ceremony on December 10), as it interferes with Chinese domestic affairs. All mail sent from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to the Chinese embassy lately has been returned unopened. Liu’s crime? Signing a public manifest (Charter 08) which disagrees with some of China’s politics. Something which is strongly encouraged in most of the rest of the world, and in all of what’s considered the Western world. It’s just silly.

And today, it was revealed that North Korea has a new device on its market. Where the concept of a PDA is more or less outdated in the rest of the world (or at least in developed countries), this appears to be “cutting edge” in North Korea just now. From what Engadget could tell by the photos, this PDA runs Windows CE, a half-sibling to the Windows Phone platform (previously called Windows Mobile). It doesn’t have Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, broadband, or even phone capabilities, which more or less states that it doesn’t have many areas of practical use. The cost? Around $140 for the high-end 8GB model with a microSD slot. And that’s in a country with an estimated $150 monthly income per person (btw, that’s pure guesswork based on the GDP numbers per capita from CIA’s World Factbook).

In more positive news, my blog article on my little backstage tour of the Blue Man Group production in Stockholm was recently featured on Blue Man Group’s official Facebook page, as well as shared on their recently created Twitter feed. My, I feel proud. 🙂

I just hope I’ll be able to repeat such a trip next year. I’m hoping to either visit one of the stops on the U.S. National Tour (which has brand new material) or see the permanent show in New York (which is the classic show, going “back to the roots”). I’ll have to see what direction the economy takes me once 2011 has begun. If I’m extremely lucky, I’ll go for both options, but there’s also a chance the outcome will be neither one – I’ll just have to take it as it comes. I won’t know for sure until the end of March or beginning of April, though. Mid-April would be the last opportunity for a well-planned trip in July (although I could plan it as late as mid-June, but that would be pushing it to an uncomfortable level). Until then, I’ll happily accept suggestions for possible destinations. 🙂

Hosting options?

01.10.2010 02:37

In my blog comment spam queue, I found a question about what my hosting provider was. It was probably just spam, as detected (which is why I’m still not letting the original comment through), but I thought I’d answer it anyway.

I’m using Linode as my hosting provider. I have three virtual Linux servers with them (two in Dallas, Texas, and one in London, UK). My blog in particular is hosted on the one in London – mainly because it’s “midway” between the US and Norway, where my intended audiences are located. I don’t have that many readers, I know, but you never know. Then again, I don’t get any comments to my posts (aside from about 30-40 spam comments a day, which are intercepted by the spam filter).

It’s a Linode 512, with 16 GB storage space, 512 MB RAM, 200 GB transfer per month (pooled against my other two Linode servers), all for $19.95 a month (plus a 10% discount for paying annually). I’m managing the server myself as if it was a full-fledged server

That spam post mentioned some provider having “unlimited” disk space and transfer, and I just have to say that any provider claiming this, is downright lying in their advertising. There’s just no such thing as unlimited disk space or transfer. You’ll always find limits to their “unlimited” buried deep in their terms and conditions. In the spam post, a provider was mentioned by name (which I’ll leave unnamed), and sure enough, deep in their terms and conditions, they reserve the right to suspend your account if they feel your disk or transfer usage is excessive. The only usage mentioned with actual defined amounts, regards downloading sites for “video, audio or other files” – where the download limit is 25 GB per month.

Point is, if a hosting provider promises unlimited space and/or transfer, pick someone else, or at the very least, be very skeptical.