Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hybrid Mini Cooper

Why aren't car manufacurers doin this?

Electric Mini: 0-60 in 4 Seconds: It Has Motors In Its Wheels

One of he more interesting quotes:You really ony need 2 motors, which would cut the weight in half again.

It gets about 80 MPG in hybrid mode, but also is long-duration electric car.

Maybe it is time for a new car company?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Getting a new computer

Several weeks ago my old computer passed away and I bought a new one. It is a nice HP machine that was on sale at Circuit City. "The Deal of the Week" kind of thing.

When I unpacked the computer, I was greeted with a "Quick Setup" poster. This is one of the images on the poster:

Click to enlarge

That's a lot of connectors. I don't know why this image strikes me as so humorous, and ridiculous. Perhaps because, at some point, all of this becomes meaningless. It reminds me of the plaque on the side of the Voyager spacecraft.

The first step was to turn the machine on and jump through all of Microsoft's hoops to initialize and activate XP. I am struck yet again by the fact that Microsoft sells an operating system so fragile that you are required to buy virus protection software -- rather than integrating that protection into the OS and the normal automatic update process.

Next comes setting up accounts and securing the machine.

Next comes a new graphics card. I run dual monitors and like having a fast graphics card, so the one that came with the machine had to go. This graphics card installed fine, but then a day later had a problem -- the left monitor would "go dim" after logging in. It took a couple of hours to debug this, and it turns out that the ATI helper software running in the taskbar was the source of the problem. I have no idea why, but turning off that software in msconfig solved the problem.

Next comes settings. Dozens of little stupid settings. I don't like sounds to play when I log in or switch accounts. I want no sound to play when an error dialog comes up. I do not want automatic updates (because automatic updates reboot my machine without asking). Stuff like that. There are probably ways to automate settings transfer, but I don't have one.

Next comes applications. As far as I know, there is no easy way to move applications from an old machine to a new one. You hve to reinstall all of them from scratch. Each one has settings of its own (Just look at all the settings in microsoft word. Multiply that by a dozen or so applications).

Next comes drivers for hardware - printers, scanners, cameras, wireless network cards, etc.

All the wires left after removing the old machine

Then there is the process of moving all the data. Several hundred gigabytes of stuff in multiple accounts had to be restored from a backup (yes, there was a backup. A recent one. Have you backed up lately?)

The UPS needed to be upgraded because it couldn't handle the new machine. Probably old batteries contributed to the problem too.

Then there is email. And I haven't actually finished that yet. Email is still a work in progress, complicated by an unfortunate spam episode on which I will spare you the details. So I handle email right now with the "web browser" versions of my email accounts. Handling large volumes of email is a real pain, and migrating to a new machine is very painful, it turns out.

Let's say I've spent a total of 30 to 40 hours doing all of this. That's probably low -- it may have taken longer. Why? Because lots of things don't work the first time. Like the graphics card problem described above. Or the printer drivers, which aborted during the first driver install session, meaning you have to figure out what went wrong, back out the aborted install, call tech support, etc. Or the update process (I believe there were 49 Microsoft updates that had to be installed), but after installation the machine didn't work anymore, so they had to be backed out and redone...)

The good news is, the new machine is a nice machine. It is much more stable -- 3 years of microsoft updates on the old machine had not been kind to its stability. And the new machine is much, much faster.

My question is, the process of migrating to a new machine has been getting harder and harder for the last 20 years. When does it start to get easier? When do we get to the point where you buy a new machine, you set it on the desk, all the devices in the room are wireless so they auto-connect and auto-configure, all the applications you have purchased automatically re-install themselves over the Internet, settings move with you no matter what machine you are using, etc.?

Do we ever get to the point where things are that easy?

What is going on here?

Here's an article:

Rep. Harris: Church-state separation 'a lie'

From the article:Why do we bother voting? Or are we all puppets when we vote?

Friday, August 18, 2006

A different look at Killer Whales

We have been to Sea World with the kids (ages 8, 6, 4 and 4) and the kids LOVE Shamu. They have Shamu plush toys that they sleep with, etc. Orcas are very cool animals.

But if you watch this video you get a different feeling about Shamu...

It's interesting how "marketing" and "reality" can be so different.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sony UX180P Micro PC

Kevin, this might be it...

Tiny, light (relatively speaking), 1024x600 screen, always connected to Internet through the cell network and WiFi available too, full Windows XP.

See this prior post from 15 months ago.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Skywalker Jet Packs

Speaking of flying:

From the site: "Skywalker jets has set the bar for future jet pack designs. With a weight of around 90 pounds (40.91 Kgs), and the size of your average back pack, this unit can be carried in cars or vans. Our jet pack can fly for about six minutes with the basic configuration. The production model jet pack will be capable of flying for up to ten minutes. With a range of 4 miles (6.436 kilometers), and an integrated global positioning system to compliment the pack."

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