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Archive for July, 2005

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A Laser Printer for $45

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

OK, call me old. Call me very, very old. But I remember the day when laser printers were only for offices, because they were too expensive.

Here’s one for $45.

Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

Help for the Tech Support Generation

Saturday, July 9th, 2005

Fog Creek CoPilot is software that’s supposed to help resolve this problem:


“Click START”
“What?”
“Start. Click Start. It’s in the bottom left.”
“I have C – T – R – L in the bottom left.”
“The bottom left of your screen.”
“Oh. OK, I clicked it.”
“OK, now click RUN.”
“What?”
“On the menu that came up. Click RUN.”
“It’s not there.”
“What do you mean it’s not there?”
“It’s not there. I don’t have a RUN.”
“What do you see? Read me everything you see”
“Recycle Bin… My Computer… Anna Navratilova J P G…”
“No, on the menu.”
“What menu?”
“The menu that came up when you clicked start.”
“When I what?”

Basically, you and your dad/mom/uncle/aunt each go to their website & download an app, which acts as a kind of traffic cop for tech support. Both computers send information to their server, and it sends it back to the opposite party. That way, you can take control of your technically-challenged relative’s computer and fix the problem while they watch, without requiring a direct connection between the two machines.

Very cool idea. I see one problem with it, which is this:

“OK, you need to go to www.copilot.com”
“I need to go where?”
“Open your web browser”
“Wait – I’m getting my coat on”
“Why?”
“You said I had to go somewhere”
“No – you need to go to a website. Just sit down at the computer and open your web browser”
“Can I take my coat off?”
“Yes. Just open your web browser”
“What’s that?”
“Click on the fancy ‘e’ near the bottom of the screen – next to the ‘Start’ button”
“OK, I see that screen with my news headlines and stock quotes. And a naked picture of Anna Kornikova that says ‘Click here’ to win $1,000″
“Ugh. Close the picture of Anna and type in ‘www.copilot.com’ “
“OK, I did. It’s asking for my credit card number so it can credit me the $1,000″
“I thought I told you to close the picture”
“I thought I did. What does all of this have to do with my problem?”
“Nevermind…”

Categories: Tech Talk | 3 Comments »

Introducing the IBM PC

Monday, July 4th, 2005

Jeff Porten has posted a review of the first Macintosh computer. Fascinating reading, in a “look how far we’ve come” sort of way.

Ever being the one to seek balance in the world, here’s the first USENET post to review the IBM PC (according to Wikipedia).

Compare and contrast, folks…

Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

Google & Blogger – Perfect Together

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005

Remember the days when a gadget you had stopped working, and you had to ask everyone you know if they knew how to fix it, or stay on hold for hours with some tech support guy just so he could tell you he had no idea? It’s times like these I realize just what a blessing Google is in our lives. Here’s what happened:

I’m happily going along posting entries to my blog (you know, in case anyone suddenly decides to stop by and read them). All of the sudden, I notice that my posts aren’t indenting anymore (the body of the post is supposed to be indented 10 pixels from the title and the “posted by Brian” line at the bottom – it makes it easier to pick the posts out when scrolling down the screen). Anyway, it was working fine for weeks and had suddenly stopped.

(NOTE: Here’s where it gets all techie, geeky. You’ve been warned)
Into the template I went. The post body is defined by a class called “blogpost_text” which clearly specifies the 10 pixel indent. I have another style defined for quotes (“blogquote”), and I noticed that when I use it and then manually switch back to “blogpost_text”, then indent is there, so it’s not the style sheet that’s the problem.

So I checked View…Source… on the blog page itself. Turns out that Blogger is inserting this line in the HTML at the beginning of each post:

<div clear:both></div>

I couldn’t figure out why (it’s simply not in the template), so I turned to Google. I typed “blogger div clear both” into my Google toolbar, and two clicks later, I was here. It seems the folks at Blogger added the “div” command to take care of another problem they were having with image posting (I haven’t had that problem yet, so it’s either pretty obscure or my image needs are very basic). In any case, the link directs you to a simple 1-click setting to fix the problem.

I made the change and voila! I’m back in business. Total time to fix this daunting problem: 30 seconds.

Bravo, Google. Bravo.

Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

SCOTUS Interruptus

Saturday, July 2nd, 2005

It seems Sandra Day O’Connor shocked everyone today by retiring from the Supreme Court. I am no expert on the Supreme Court, but since blogs serve, among other things, as a kind of public record, allow me to put a few predictions down on pap…well, on silicon:

In the next 6-8 weeks:

1) No one will give two hoots about whether John Bolton is confirmed as UN Ambassador or not.
2) As this heats up, the news will be all-consumed by it. Based on what we read and see, we will safely be able to conclude that no one’s looking for that girl in Aruba anymore, people have magically stopped dying in Iraq, and Social Security has magically healed itself.
3) The Democrats will be shocked – outraged even – at Bush’s nominee, regardless of who it is.
4) The Republicans will be shocked – outraged even – at the Democrats’ reaction to the nomination.
5) Everytime a Democrat says something negative about the nominee, some Republican somewhere will use the word “filibuster” or the words “up or down vote.”
6) Before we’re done, the nominee will endure at least two scandals. There will be at least one “major” scandal, which will turn out to contain just enough shades of truth to keep it alive, but will have been twisted into something much larger than it ought to be. There will also be at least one “minor” scandal, which will be absolutely true but completely irrelevant, and it will be brought up every time someone tries to poke a hole in the “major” scandal.
7) There won’t be a single news story written or spoken about this topic that doesn’t include the word “abortion.”

OK, so we’ve got a checklist set to go. Pencils ready? Begin…

[This essay is part of The Red and the Blue discussion: Supreme Court/Independence Day.]

Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

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