I’ve never actually said this to a user before…


… but I have thought it from time to time.

Nothing worse than an aging I.T. nerd.

WDHDsaleI’m sitting in my cube at work this morning going through my daily routine of checking my work and personal email when I come across an ad from Newegg.com that includes the item over on the right. A 1TB Western Digital HD for a little under $50.

As it is my habit to try and get other people to spend money on stuff they don’t need, I engage in a ritual of reading off this deal to my cubemate who is roughly eleven years older than I am. We both stop to marvel at this price because we’re both old enough to remember life before hard drives.

At this point he pulls out a dry erase marker and starts to write things down on his whiteboard. Back in the day he used to sell computers for a living and he can remember that in 1984 a 10MB hard drive went for about $500. In today’s dollars that comes out to around $1,148.48.  A 10MB drive is equal to about 0.000009536743164063 terabytes. To put it another way, the cost per MB of that 10MB drive in today’s dollars works out to around $114.85. The price per MB of a 1TB drive in today’s dollars is roughly 0.00005.

I can remember a time when us computer nerds spoke of a one terabyte hard drive in hushed, reverent tones as though describing a unicorn. A fantastic, mythical thing that could exist, but probably never would and if it ever did surely it would be so fantastically expensive that we’d never afford one in our lifetime. Oh, but if we did get our hands on one we’d never need another hard drive again cause there’s no way we’d ever fill it up! Just imagine having a hard drive you’d hand down to your children and them to their children and even then it’d probably take another generation of kids to come close to filling it up!

You know you’re getting old when you waste time figuring shit like this out and then shaking your head at how spoiled kids are these days.

Addendum: The first computer I ever bought with my own money was my venerable Amiga 1000. I got a job at McDonalds and took out my first ever loan from a credit union to pay for it. The machine itself cost $1,295 at launch and the CRT monitor was another $300 bringing the total to $1,595 not including sales tax. In today’s dollars that works out to $3,537.43. That boggles my mind.

Mom gets free tech support for life.



The Engineer Guy on why the Dvorak keyboard failed.

Being a professional computer technician in general, and a blogger in particular, I spend a lot of time with my hands on a keyboard. Specifically a QWERTY keyboard. I taught myself to type quickly using a minimum of fingers long before I had a proper typing class in high school and, to this day, I still tend to type using a mish-mash of proper and improper techniques that looks bizarre to anyone who watches me type.

I have always used QWERTY keyboards and even though I’ve seen a Dvorak keyboard once or twice in my lifetime, I’ve never tried to use one myself. It’s always been a curiosity that you occasionally hear mythical tales about how much better it supposedly is over QWERTY, but seeing as QWERTY works fine for me I’ve never felt the need to try one. Which brings us to this interesting video by The Engineer Guy who talks about the Dvorak keyboard and the myths surrounding it:

I have to say that a 5% improvement in typing speed wouldn’t be enough for me to make the switch. My blogging is probably the most typing I’ll tend to do in a day and my speed is already faster than my thoughts can keep up with most of the time so being 5% faster wouldn’t really benefit my output any. Plus there’s the hassle of learning an entirely new keyboard layout when I am, fundamentally, a lazy person. Still, I found the video interesting and thought I’d share it with you in case you might as well.

Today’s I Feel Old Video: Kids reacting to an Apple II computer.

The Fine Bros. are at it again. Tormenting today’s youth with the technology of yesteryear. This time out they sit a bunch of them down in front of a venerable Apple II computer to see if they can make heads or tails of it:

I can’t blame the kids for not appreciating the Apple II. It was a pain in the ass compared to the Commodore 64, but I admit to having some bias in that regard. I’m pretty sure they’d have had just as hard a time figuring out a C64. Especially if they had to use a tape drive instead of a floppy drive, but at least the games would’ve been a lot better. And in color!

If you’re still running Windows XP you’ve got one year of support left.

roadends_by_Johan_Larsson_flickrIt’s amazing to think that Windows XP has been around since 2001 and there are still a crap load of people using it daily. Microsoft has been supporting it all along with new patches for any vulnerabilities that are found, but unfortunately that support will be coming to an end in just about a year’s time:

Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6, Office 2003 enter their final support year | Ars Technica.

Windows XP drops out of extended support on April 8, 2014. As of April 9, 2014, there will be no more security updates or other fixes made for the ancient operating system.

Joining it are Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange Server 2003. Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 2 will also end support on that day, but newer Service Packs will continue to be supported. Naturally, this also includes “Windows XP Mode” in Windows 7 and other virtualized solutions.

If you’re one of the 38% of folks who still run Windows XP then now is the time to start considering moving on to something else. Once support for patches ends the longer your continue to use the OS the more vulnerable you will become. It’s impossible to patch every possible exploit and it’s only a matter of time before new ones are found. The more unpatched vulnerabilities discovered the more likely you are to fall victim to one. Especially if you spend any amount of time on the Internet.

So what should you make your next OS? That depends on you and your needs. Microsoft is, of course, hoping you’ll make your next OS Windows 8, but unless you’re going to buy a new computer with a touch interface of some sort then it’s probably not the ideal choice. Windows 7 would probably be a better option and it’ll continue to be supported for many years to come. If you’re buying a new machine and aren’t interested in Windows 8 then there’s always the Apple Mac as an option, though it would mean learning the ins and outs of an entirely new operating system and putting up with Apple’s annoying attitude of dictating how you use the hardware you spent so much money on. If you have older hardware and don’t want to upgrade or spend any money there’s always several flavors of Linux available to choose from. With a year left of support for XP you’ve got some time to investigate the various options and make a decision.

Google is killing Reader and I’m hating all the possible replacements.

googlereadertombstoneGoogle announced recently that they’re going to close down their RSS aggregator called Reader due to declining usage and their desire to concentrate development resources in other areas. I’ve used Google Reader for years now, pretty much since it was launched in 2005. It’s how I keep up with the couple hundred different blogs and websites without having to visit each and every one of them in turn. Needless to say this announcement was very distressing, but all good things come to an end and it’s not like they’re the only RSS aggregator out there so I started looking into alternatives.

In the past few weeks it became clear that what Google considers a “small” group of users is still huge compared to anyone else as just about every other RSS aggregator I tried was swamped with people checking it out after the announcement. The three most recommended ones I tried were Feedly, Newsblur, and The Old Reader.

Newsblur was almost completely useless at the start because its servers were so overwhelmed by all the folks jumping ship. Things have settled down since then and I’ve had a chance to try it out a bit and it certainly seems to have the most features, but it’s also limited to 64 feeds with 10 stories max unless you subscribe to their service. It’s only $24 a year and it might be worth it, but I’ve not used it enough to make that determination yet. It’s one I’ll definitely be playing with more, but my initial impression is that it’s trying too hard to be everything to everyone and the fact that it requires a subscription to really be useful is a negative. It also doesn’t appear to be able to share items with anyone who isn’t a Newsblur user. I’ve gotten used to sharing items on my Google+ page and Newsblur doesn’t support that.

Feedly also was near useless in the immediate aftermath, but it has since become more stable. It wants to present your feeds in a magazine format that’s quite different from Reader’s layout. Ultimately it suffers from what I call “Apple Computer Syndrome” in that it’s very pretty but it wants you to do things its way instead of the way you’d want to do them.

I have a particular way that I go through my RSS feeds in Reader and getting Feedly to allow me to do the same thing has been a real pain in the ass. Some things can be set as default through the preferences option (full articles as opposed to excerpts with a pic next to it), but other things have to be configured on a per-feed basis (showing only unread vs all articles). Considering that I have 200+ feeds having to tell each and every one of them that I want to see both read and unread articles is damned annoying. How you sort feeds in Feedly is also a mystery to me. I want mine sorted alphabetically, but by default it sorts them by who has the newest content. I seem to have somehow gotten it to sort alphabetically, but I have no idea how I did that.

It’s also slow compared to Reader and it becomes even slower if you have a crappy network (like I do at work). Lastly it seems to have a habit of skipping over some articles in a feed. I’ll get to the end of new articles, but it’ll still show 5 or 6 as still unread and if I click on the feed again it’ll suddenly show new items between the items I’ve already seen as if it had them in its pockets and just forgot to show them the first time around. But it is very pretty and it will let me share items to my Google+ page as well as Twitter and Facebook and a couple of others I don’t recognize so it has that going for it.

The Old Reader is an attempt to clone Google Reader from back when it was more of a self-contained system. When you shared items back then it wasn’t posted to your Google+ steam because Google+ didn’t exist back then. Instead it was only shared with other GReader users that had marked you as a friend or subscribed to your shares. TOR also suffered from the sudden influx of new users, but it didn’t seem to impact the functioning of the application so much as it did it’s ability to import your Google Reader subscription lists. You can export your subscriptions as an OPML file that you can use to import them into another RSS aggregator. I did with this TOR and it was nearly two weeks before it got around to actually processing it because so many other people were trying to do the same thing.

That said, TOR is the closest so far to Reader in terms of how it does things and it’s relatively speedy once it gets your subscriptions imported. The ability to rearrange subfolders has a couple of annoying quirks, but you can work around them. It’s definitely a work in progress and its performance will vary as a result, but the biggest negative against it is the same one Newsblur has. That it will only share with other users of TOR.

So, for the moment, I’m still trying to use GReader until they yank the plug or I find an aggregator that does everything I want. Alas, Google appears to have broken GReader’s ability to share items with Google+. When I try to do so these days it’ll pop up the box and I’ll get halfway through typing in a comment only to have the box suddenly disappear and all my key-presses interpreted as keyboard shortcuts screwing up where I am and losing the share in the process. It’s damned annoying. So I keep hopping back and forth between Feedly and GReader and finding I’m not happy with either one.

Granted, in the grand scheme of things RSS aggregators are pretty low on the list of most import things ever and it’s definitely a First World Problem I’m bitching about, but that won’t stop me from pouting over it.

I have lived this nightmare.

That day was not a good day.

The transistor revolution put in perspective.

Adam Savage gives us a guided tour of how far along computing has come in 60 or so years:

You’ve come a long way, baby! It’s interesting to note that the massive 1GB HD they have is from 1981 back when I was cutting my teeth on a Commodore 64 with a 177K 1541 floppy drive.

Anyone else seeing Viagra spam being inserted into SEB posts?

A user contacted me through ***Dave to let me know he was seeing extra content in SEB entries that didn’t look like it belonged there. He sent along a screenshot and a copy of the HTML source and, yep, there appeared to be extra paragraphs with spam links being inserted among the other text.

Here’s the screenshot:

Click to enlarge (ha!).

Awhile back there was some WP hacks going around (mainly through compromised plugins) that would insert hidden spam into a template that only showed up when you did a Google search for the blog in question, but otherwise didn’t show on the live site itself. This, however, appears to be something totally new.

I’ve checked SEB pretty thoroughly and it doesn’t appear to be anything generated here. The reader who reported the problem has since followed up saying that it only happens on his work laptop and not his personal machines at home. ***Dave also verifies that he doesn’t see it on any of his machines. I check SEB on a number of different PCs and smartphones regularly and I’ve never seen this happen so I’m assuming it must be something on the user’s laptop, but he says it only happens when he views SEB which seems oddly specific.

I can’t find anything on Google that seems to match this odd situation so I’m turning to you guys to see if anyone else has experienced this with SEB or something similar with some other site. Anyone else seeing this happen or know anything about a possible hack or virus that could cause it? Let us know in the comments.