Monthly Archive: January 2005

Carnival of the Capitalists

Once again there is a Carnival of the Capitalists, this week hosted at Small Business Trends.

Of particular interest, I found there is a CIO Weblog, touting business and technology coverage of the software market. First Call was not impressed with Apple’s new Home Media Server. Frank Scavo reports on Microsoft’s efforts to pick up business from PeopleSoft’s customers. Wayne Hurlbert has advice on using viral marketing to get more e-mail newsletter subscribers or, the more modern equivalent, blog visitors.

Do We Make It Too Easy?

When I got my first IBM compatible PC, a 286, it booted up to a C prompt. That was it.

I had to know or learn what was a file and a directory, how to navigate, and that some files by typing their names and pressing enter would – gasp! – run program. Do things, make the computer be useful. By the same token, I learned that other files contained data or were in support of programs, and I learned that files had extensions, usually three characters after the period, and what those extensions were controlled what the system or a program expected them to contain or do. This became vastly more important with the advent of Windows.

These days, people get computers and fire them up to razzle dazzle graphics, but don’t know and often don’t care to learn the first thing about files and folders (directories), how to find and open things, and so forth.

So it is that I have routinely encountered a rather comical if sad scenario. People who never use and are unfamiliar with the concept of Windows Explorer, as such or accessed via “My Computer,” know that they use Word, and the File, Open dialog is a way to navigate and see files. And it is, to a point, because these days instead of the old Windows common dialog interface, it’s a wrapper to Explorer.

The unwitting user then tries to open a JPEG file the location of which they have been given on a network drive, or an EXE utility they have downloaded and extracted from a software vendor, and they cry out “all I get is gibberish!”

Well, yeah. You opened a picture or a program in Word as if it were a document. File open may be a wrapper to Explorer, but it’s a specialized one that says “open the file I have selected in Word as best you can.” Not “open the file I have selected with the appropriate program or action Windows associates with the extension” as it would be in Explorer proper, or from the run command line.

If this were a rare thing, I’d shrug it off. It almost routine though. I find it unbelievable the way people don’t care to learn to drive their computers that are absolutely integral to their jobs. It’s not rocket science.

Time for a Switch

I have long said the same thing. Granted, on most computers now there is a switch directly on the power supply, at the back of the machine. But sometimes there isn’t, and there was a window of time when the funky switches that are controlled through the motherboard had started, but power supplies with switches were rare or didn’t exist.

Still, there are ways around it, and holding the switch in really will usually result in a shutdown and off.

These days there is always a trickle of power to the motherboard so long as power is plugged into the power supply and the power supply is connected to the board. Thus the green LED that is common on the motherboard, lit even when the machine is off. I’m in the habit of turning the power supply switch off before I plug the cord into it to avoid any chance of a surge happening then.

The biggest problem is when the switch or motherboard circuitry start acting up. It’s common for me to hear the complaint that a machine won’t turn on. The usual solution is to turn off the power supply switch, turn on the power supply switch, then try the front button again.

Of course, here’s where I could get into the problem of users burying their computers in places, or under/around/between stuff, where it’s barely possible to reach the front switch, never mind the back switch, or the cables on the back.

Carnival of the Capitalists Catching Up

I have been remiss in failing to link to the editions of Carnival of the Capitalists in weeks following the one hosted here. Not such an odd thing to link, since this blog is about technology and geek stuff, but also about business to a lesser degree, this business and more generally. So it was on:

December 27
Business Opportunities Weblog

January 3
Management Craft

January 10
Odyssey of the Mind

You may find some interesting and unexpected links there, if you check them out.

Firefox Tweaks and More

There are some extensive details on how to tweak Firefox linked from here.

I added a user.js for myself, and used the tweak to add an option to force new window links to open in the same tab or a new tab. I opted for new tab. The only things I don’t like are that immediately changes focus to the new tab, and that it opens the named comment windows Movable Type blogs normally use in a tab as well, though that second was more unexpected than bad. I’d rather have the same behavior in a single click that I would get from right-click and open in new tab.

I also added the code to banish blinking text, and another one that I promptly forgot.

At Weekend Pundit there is also a recent post on traffic cameras, a technology whose time will never come for application to direct law enforcement.

And finally, I hate it when this happens. Especially when there aren’t backups.