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Fri, 03 Dec 2004
The death of Thinkpads

Diego said it best regarding IBM's exit from the PC business:

More than anything, what will be missed the most will be the innovation that Thinkpads championed
The Thinkpads were the best Intel based laptops, as far as I was concerned - size/form factor, features, and reliability. At ApacheCon, the dominant notebook brands were Apple and IBM, by far. As an IBM shareholder, I want the company to exit non-profitable businesses. As a person who might one day want an Intel based Linux notebook, I'm sad.
[23:06] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Wed, 01 Dec 2004
Even more XMPP

I'm going to respond to the thread of comments on the Growl/Zephyr/Jabber posts here, in the hopes that a regular post might help disseminate some of the information in related posts and comments.

Peter Millard, the author of Exodus wrote a post that addresses some of Mark Eichin's criticism of XMPP vs Zephyr. Peter and Mark, if you want to continue clarifying, etc, please feel free to use the comments on this post to do so. Peter was also somewhat put out because my criticism of Jabber clients was not concrete, which is true

Yesterday I asked Peter St. Andre if there was a scorecard comparing the features of the various Jabber clients. Here's why I asked that, and why (in part) my criticism of Jabber clients has been abstract. If you go to Jabber.org and look at "What is Jabber®?", you get a description that talks about open standards, some stuff about servers, security, and extensibility. What is missing, in my opinion, is a clear list of features that the Jabber/XMPP protocol enables, like "headlines". I want to see the client features (like headlines or security) that I don't get (or are hard to get) with other IM systems. Then I want to know which clients actually implement those features. From where I sit, it's very hard to know what is possible with Jabber/XMPP solutions, other than reading a stack of RFCS and JEPs. Unless I can tell people why I (and therefore they) are switching to Jabber, it's hard to make the case. The opening paragraph of the Jabber.org overview is about open standardsness. My own use of IM tells me that while I value open standards, I value features, and my network of people more. I use iChat, not because I love AOL (and I'm happy for whatever Jabber support Apple tosses into Tiger), but for one reason. It's the only client that I can use my iSight with, and the iSight video conferencing is the first web cam style thing that actually works for me. I'm starting to use Skype. I hate the proprietaryness of their protocol. But no one's audio sounds better (not even iChat), and nobody lets me do an n-way voice call. There are like 147 JEPs (okay less than that, but still a lot), most of which were presumably introduced to enable features. But beats the pants off of me if I could tell you what those features are.

I've been writing about Jabber because Lisa Dusseault and Joe Hildebrand tried to educate me one day. They sort of succeeded, because I know that there's a bunch of cool stuff that Jabber can do. But I don't really know what all that cool stuff is, and I have no idea whether a particular client can do the particular cool thing that I need. Jabber is a cool system, that can do cool stuff. I'm convinced of that (at least until Mark and Peter mix it up again). The problem is, I can't actually tell somebody else what any of the cool stuff is. I could read the pile of RFCs and JEPs and eventually figure it out. But it sure would help if someone who already knew could explain it for the rest of us.

Okay, so all that was abstract. Here's a concrete request. Which XMPP Macintosh client should I use if I want to experiment with headlines, so that I could do my system notifications with that instead of Growl?

Here's another one. All you Jabber folks come and leave a comment on your favorite cool - not found in any/most other IM systems - Jabber feature. I'm professing my ignorance -- here's your chance to educate me.

[ After I finished drafting this post, I discovered Dare's posting of the press release on MSN Spaces and the new MSN Messenger, and his personal favorite features. Those of us in the "free world" ought to be able to build stuff like this, and we need a substrate like XMPP to do it. ]

[22:56] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 16 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 05 Sep 2004
Lunchbox multiprocessor
Most of my Intel hardware is between 3 and 6 years old. I keep saying that someday I'll replace one, but I haven't quite done it yet. But this Small Form Factor dual Opteron box from IWill has got my attention.
[23:50] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Cell processors?
[via Paul Thurrott]

For folks that like to ruminate on where things might head, Paul Murphy of Linux Insider has written three interesting articles related to the upcoming Sony/IBM Cell processor for the Playstation 3. The first article describes the processor itself, along with speculation that some form of Linux will be the OS for Cell derived machines. The second article speculates that Linux developers will adopt Cell based machines in droves. The final article discusses (as usual) the dire consequences for Apple -- Murphy has a conspiracy theory to explain why Cell is bad for Apple.

I know a lot of people who would plunk down $250 (the price of a PS2) for a low/no maintenance box that could run Mozilla/Firefox/Thunderbird, do their taxes, balance their checkbooks, and play cool games. I don't know if Cell is it or not, but somebody will probably do this in the next 2 years.

[11:53] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 24 May 2004
EverythingUSB but nothing RSS
Julie's friend Lisa Williams posted about EverythingUSB today. This is a site every gadget head would love. Unfortunately, they don't have an RSS feed. They have a NewsIsFree feed, but those feeds are ... suboptimal. I already sent the EverythingUSB folks a note about it, but if you think the site is cool, you should drop them a note and ask for a feed.

It looks like the same folks have registered EverythingFireWire.com, but it's empty.

[00:01] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 26 Feb 2004
David Fedor's blog
David Fedor is an old friend from Brown, and Apple's Newton Group. After Newton, David and a bunch of other Newton folks made their way over to Palm. David's been involved with developer relations for many years now, and has helped a lot of people write Newton, and PalmOS applications. If you are into Palm, you need to check out his new blog at PalmOS Protein News.
[21:56] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 15 Feb 2004
You get what you pay for...
Late last year I finally stopped delaying and purchased an 802.11 wireless router for the house. Because I had just gotten the Powerbook, which supports 802.11b and 802.1g, I was looking for a router that could do both and which could support WPA as well. After doing a bunch of research (including favorable online reviews), I settled on the SMC SMC2804WBR, which also had a rebate to bring the price down. Unfortunately, it seems that the old adage is true. The router works great -- it covers the entire house and supports WPA. Unfortunately, it seems to have stability problems. It takes anywhere from 1-3 days for it to lock up tight, requiring a hard reboot in order to solve the problem. I really like being able to take the machine and work somewhere else in the rest of the house, but its a royal pain to have to trot upstairs and reboot this thing every few days. I'm guessing that there are problems with the WPA implementation that need to be shaken out. Also, the dialogs for inputting WEP and WPA keys are horribly unfriendly -- type a 64 digit hex number? Twice, once for the router and once for the Powerbook? Insane. It's so error prone that I dread having to do it again.
[23:11] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 8 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 21 Nov 2003
I actually called tech support
I very rarely call tech support for a product, in fact, I can't even remember the last time that I did. Today I made an exception. I ordered an SMC 2804WBR 802.11b/g wireless router because of a deal I saw on More Stuff 4 Less blog. The router was working very well, with much better range than the Netgear 614MR that I helped a neighbor install early this year. If I leave the router in my office, which is in the back of our house, I get green bars in the master bedroom closet, which is at the opposite end of the house, one floor up. The signal carries onto the front porch (key for watching the kids and hacking in the summer), and will certainly carry onto the deck in the back. And that's without me moving it around to put the signal area where I want it.

So far, so good, until I turned on security. Once I started with WEP, I just couldn't get a connection. I tried 128 bit WEP, 64 bit WEP, I tried for too long. It was just a pain. So I broke down and called SMC tech support. Turns out I was only typing in 1 of the 4 WEP keys, and this was causing the problem, because after I typed 4 keys in, I got a connection just fine.

Unfortunately, the saga's not over yet, because I haven't gotten remote administration to work (where remote is the inside of my network, not the WAN -- I have a Linux firewall/router for that), and I still have to get WPA working once the PowerBook arrives. And then I'll have to hack the firewall rules on the wireless router and inside the firewall. No, it's not over yet.

Still, I've been eying one of these for years but have been too lazy, and you can't beat it for $50.

[22:20] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 1 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Thu, 09 Oct 2003
Multiple Monitors
Slashdot has a story on a study that shows that multiple monitors improves productivity. In the personal computer space, this idea has been around since at least 1987, when the Macintosh II with NuBus slots was announced. Once you've used a machine with multiple displays, you just won't want to go back.

Right now I'm running a Cornerstone p1650 at 1800x1440 attached to an ATI All-in-Wonder 8500DV as the primary display and a Hitachi CM801 at 1600x1200 attached to a eVGA GeforceMX PCI card as the secondary. That's one display for code and one display for output, server consoles, IM, media players and whatnot. A pair of these guys would be the bomb, but I'm plenty happy with what I've got.

[13:52] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 12 Sep 2003
Back after outage
After a 19 hour DSL outage, I'm back, and on the air again. For a few minutes it was kind of scary yesterday. I was in the middle of IRC, and all of a sudden the connection went dead. The coincidence with the date was a little unsettling until I finally got the ISP on the line and they confirmed an equipment failure on their end.
[11:07] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 07 Sep 2003
Alan Green was reminiscing about the olden days, and started thinking. That thinking led to a table comparing a Commodore 64 to his current hardware. If you stop for a minute and look at the multipliers in the right hand column (crude though they be), you have to marvel at the wonders that the hardware engineers have been doing. And no offense to Alan, but his system is isn't that current. You could multiply CPU clock by 2, RAM by 2 and disk by 2 or 3.

Of course, if you think some more, you start wondering what the software multipliers would be if you had corresponding ones...

[00:17] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 28 Apr 2003
A whole keyboard?
I just got off the phone with IBM Thinkpad support. Turns out I have to replace the entire keyboard. For around 50 dollars. That's a lot for a single keycap. Anybody know an online thinkpad junkyard? (Yes, I've checked eBay.) All I need is a keycap.
[13:36] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Sun, 27 Apr 2003
Busted keycaps
Anyone out there know the best way to deal with broken keycaps on a Thinkpad? A book fell on my X20 today and broke off the ~/` keycap. I hope I don't have to replace the entire keyboard....
[14:31] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Mon, 03 Mar 2003
Wireless routers?
I'm going to be helping a friend set up a WiFi network. It looks like we're going t use either the Linksys BEFW11S4 V2 or the Netgear MR814. If any one has experience with either of these on a WinXP / MacOS X network, I'd love to hear about it.
[23:33] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Fri, 14 Feb 2003
Multiple Monitors
John Lam is writing about his move to multiple monitors. He's using UltraMon, which is staple on my desktop machine. I've never played much with Hydravision, even though the main card in my machine is an ATI AIW 8500DV. I got mine before ATI really started shaping up their drivers -- even now, I'm a bit reluctant to upgrade my ATI drivers, for fear that something will stop working. But the multiple desktops might get me to try again.

My setup is an AGP ATI AIW 8500DV and a PCI eVGA GeForce 2MX. I tried a bunch of cards before I settled on this combination, which is mostly stable, although I have had some WinXP failures related to the ATI drivers. The ATI is connected to a 21" Cornerstone p1650 @ 1800x1440 (I tried 1920x1440 -- too small, even for me) and the GeForce is connected to a 21" Hitachi 801 @ 1600x1200. This setup is invaluable when working on a web application because I can keep Eclipse on the main display, and put a browser and vnc/ssh on the secondary display.
[17:13] | [computers/hardware] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

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