Friday, May 22, 2009

I think JMicron finally fixed their JMB36X drivers

After I upgraded from XP to Vista, I started having problems with my Memorex 3202 3292 16x dual layer DVD writer after resuming from sleep (S3, Standby to RAM). Sometimes my computer just hung for a bit when resuming. Other times my computer kept hanging for a fraction of a second every few seconds and it was impossible to access the drive. My workaround was simply to disable the JMB36X (GIGABYTE SATA2 RAID) device on my GA-P35-DS3R (rev. 1.0) motherboard, and only enable it when needed. I needed the drive rarely so, this wasn't too bad.

I just upgraded to R1.17.48.12 drivers direct from JMicron (I used, and it seems the problems are gone.

By the way: earlier while trying to solve this problem I flashed my drive with the NEC ND-3520 3.07 firmware, and I got PIE/PIF scanning support.

An old genuine 2GB SanDisk Ultra II SD card

Yesterday I picked up a 2 GB SanDisk Ultra II SD card, mainly for my small and cheap RCA RC3000A boombox. (Earlier, RCA support told me 2 GB is the maximum size supported.) I got the card from FactoryDirect. Here's what it looks like:

That's not like any of the images I found via Google, and according to online information, there are many counterfeit SanDisk Ultra II SD cards. I was starting to think it is counterfeit, but when I called SanDisk, I was told that the card is old but genuine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beware of Vista firewall environment variable substitution in paths

If I attempt to create a Vista firewall rule for an executable which is in my personal directory (under \Users\<username>\), the browse dialog substitutes environment variables like %APPDATA% or %USERPROFILE%. However, the firewall itself runs as a different user, so those variable substitutions are invalid. A full path must be used in these cases (eg. starting with C:\Users\<username>\).

BTW. The Blogger composer can't handle < and >. Instead I had to use &lt; and &gt;

A streaming success story

I watched the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest live from the official site. Octoshape P2P streaming worked very well, and image quality was good. It was legal, free and without commercials. It was even without the sometimes annoying commentators who are found on TV broadcasts of the contest. You can even watch it again from the official site. This is all very impressive. It shows what technology is capable of when people don't try to stop it from working.

BTW. If I could vote, I would have voted for Finland. However, I'm in Canada, so I can't vote and I couldn't even watch this on TV.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My love/hate relationship with Reddit

In one way, Reddit is the best site on the Internet. Practically any new an newly discovered interesting thing shows up there. It often shows up earlier than on other sites like Digg or in the news. Generally, if someone tells me about something, it's already on Reddit. Sometimes I've already seen it on Reddit.

In another way, Reddit is the worst site on the Internet, because it is horribly addictive. It is the most addictive thing I've discovered, and I don't mean just on the Internet. It's also for the most part useless. I used to think that learning about new things there could be helpful, but it's far more efficient to actively seek knowledge which is currently useful. For example, I saved many stories from Reddit thinking some of that would be interesting or useful later, but it never was.

Reddit also has another downside: alarmism. That is stupid because it is an unproductive fad which is disconnected from real risks. For example, high oil prices led to countless Peak Oil posts and then, when oil prices went down, suddenly it seems like everyone forgot about it. Recently, there has also been some alarmism about the Swine Flu. There are also regular "outrage posts" about various injustices suffered by individuals. In all these respects, Reddit seems worse than the mainstream media. It's interesting how something like this happens automatically. I guess the upvote/downvote paradigm is simillar to TV ratings, but there's probably more to it than that. I guess Reddit is getting better however.

Despite the downsides, I like Reddit. I think the main strength of the site is the sense of community which sometimes exists. Discussion of new and interesting things is not innovative. It's an old idea which has been around for a long time. It also has no staying power; it draws people as long as Reddit presents new and interesting things, and if another better source appeared, those people would move on. However, what goes on in some "self" posts and the occasional deeper thread of comments is different. There, I see signs of a Reddit community. That makes me think that Reddit might even be immune to the sort of decline that Digg experienced.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Is Windows ready for the desktop?

Some people doubt Linux is ready for the desktop. What about Windows? Is Windows ready?

The answer is a clear NO. The problem is that maintaining a computer running Windows is too much work. Sure, it's not a problem if you make it a hobby. However, if you just want things to work and be safe, it's totally unacceptable.

Microsoft updates used to be a pain. I remember when updating XP required checking the Windows Update web site and rebooting multiple times. Nowadays, keeping Vista up to date is quite easy. However, Windows isn't very useful without third party software.

Updates for third party software come from many sources, and there is no consistency. Sometimes one has to uninstall the application, download a new copy, and reinstall it. Other times it's best to not uninstall. Sometimes the application has a built-in update check. Sometimes the company making the application has an updater program. Often, updaters don't work. For example, Java or Flash Player updaters never seem to find new versions. Even when updaters work, they're still a waste of resources; there's no need to have a process running constantly to keep a program up to date.

For example I just installed a Winamp update. The installer is relatively user-friendly. It detects what is currently installed and by default doesn't install what you didn't want before. However, I still had to check to make sure that it isn't installing new crap. Then there are a bunch of dialog boxes to go through. That was all for a minor and insiginificant update.

I wish everything came from a central repository and updated itself automatically.