Archive for the 'whinge' Category

minutes of your life you’ll never get back

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


“…How long have you got before you have to go home tonight?”

Fortunately, once the thing finished booting, the ETA dropped to a single digit number.

Seriously, people, don’t buy a laptop with less than a gig of ram. It makes me want to cry.

stop! i said it’s happening again!

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Doesn’t this just curdle your giblets?

I won’t be finishing Fallout 3 this weekend. I’ll be painstakingly recovering my savegame off another dying ST31000340AS.

(Yes, another; this is my second one. I won’t be buying a third.)

Doesn’t seem to be the usual problem that plagues this model, which is high temperatures (60-70 degrees, while my drives sit at 29-30 in a slight breeze) and slow transfer speeds (this poor guy got seven megabytes per second). Windows used to just pause for 10-20 seconds at a time, and vague ATAPI warnings would show up in the event log; I came home from work today to a machine that might get to the desktop, might not, and would then completely lock up.

I don’t get it. They’re not overheating, they’re not bashed with sticks or fed coke, they’re held in a cage by rubber mounts behind a giant fan. I’ve had more of my fair share of dead hardware, but I don’t actually do anything wrong to cause it. I just have the world’s worst luck with computers.

tim demands modern nomenclature.

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I’m sitting at my desktop computer. Before me are my keyboard, my mouse, my monitor.

Behind me sits my broadband modem, my backup hard drive, my wireless access point, and my laptop computer. My printer’s over there *points* and there’s a stack of compact discs on the floor just *points* there.

I am completely bored with every word in the above three sentences.

“Computer” is such an old word, despite its most common meaning. It’s even more generic than calculator, which is a pretty stock standard little device that hasn’t changed its appearance in a number of years. We still talk about personal computers (duh), desktop computers (instead of room-sized electronic caves), laptop computers (instead of desktops), and keyboards (it’s a board of keys. We get it now).

Automobiles are just cars now, mobile telephones are just phones… why can’t computer stuff get nice modern names too?

I think “Wifi” was a good start, but it’s such a silly word nobody took it seriously, and so we still sell wireless access points. We don’t even call FM radio “wireless” anymore; we need to move on and start calling it RadioLAN (“W-LAN” is awkward to type and say). This is a more annoying problem than you think – have you ever tried to explain the difference between wireless networking and wireless internet without spontaneously combusting?

Desktops and laptops are okay – use both words in the same sentence and people can separate the two ideas in their heads. For some people, though, they’re still just “computers”, and calling the desktops “towers” offends my love of small computers. One term you may not have heard is deskside, which is vastly underused and IMHO outrageously cool.

Here’s a sign computer nomenclature is far behind that of cars: Top Gear throws the words “supercar” and “hypercar” around like confetti, and they do it while talking about unbelievably awesome things. Meanwhile, a supercomputer is still something that takes up a room and predicts the sodding weather for a living, and hypercomputers are so unexplored, Wikipedia still describes them as hypothetical.

I dunno what to do about modems. I instantly hate on sight people who talk about input and output (unless they’re discussing RAID 5), or the super information highway (even if they’re being ironic). We should all be calling them gateways, and better distinguish between those, and routers, and wireless access points, so when we make all-in-one devices it doesn’t take half an hour to explain what they actually do.

“CD” is alright, and “DVD” is still cool, but compact discs aren’t compact anymore, and if you still refer to computer stuff as “digital” then you’re as irrelevant as the word analogue.

Bluray and Bluetooth are stupid words too; is anybody else as bored of blue as I am? I bought a new LED fan for my desktop this week, and it makes my room glow purple. It’s divine.

We seem to be over lasers now, probably because the general population’s realised we can’t make super burny handguns out of them (and the really cool ones are banned in my country, because idiots were pointing them at helicopters).

I’m happy with mice for the time being – mine would look like a stealth car, if it didn’t glow orange in places – but keyboards give me the shits. It’s 2008, and we can’t custom-order nice looking keyboards with our own exact layouts and shapes and functions? I’ve looked into this, and it seems if you don’t like what Logitech or Microsoft make, you’re completely screwed. Custom, made-to-order keyboards go to entities like airlines and point-of-sale outfits that need lots and lots of buttons that do weird non-normal-computery stuff, or people with serious disabilities. And they look like 20 year old model M boards.

Yes, I’ve seen the steampunk keyboard. No, I’m not impressed. I want a normal keyboard without the completely unused numberpad, but I don’t want a trendy “compact” keyboard that forces you to press a laptoppy Fn key to do normal everyday tasks. Gaming keyboards are sometimes pretty cool, but usually go in completely the wrong direction in terms of size (you could use the Logitech G15 as a land bridge between here and Saturn).

this rant brought to you by C8H10N4O2

a thimbleful of internet: a tale of woe

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

This is my NB6W. It’s a one port ADSL modem with wireless LAN. This coming Tuesday will mark its 3rd return to Netcomm for purposes of warranty.

We were selling a lot of NB6Ws at work, so when my WAG54G died during a storm, I figured I’d get one and familiarise myself with it so I’d be better at supporting it over the phone and such.

What I’ve actually accomplished, though, is to become familiar with the various ways in which these things become faulty and die.

By far, the most common is that they’ll suddenly stop working one day, you’ll turn it off and on again, and all you’ll get is a red power light, and the USB and Ethernet lights will stay solid green. Plugging and unplugging anything else – phone line, network cable – makes no difference. If you see an NB6W doing this, it’s gone.

We’ve also had a couple that just refuse to get line sync whatsoever. We’re aware of incompatibilities with telephone exchange hardware – apparently NB5s won’t work on Optus ADSL2 – but that doesn’t seem to be the issue.

This one is new. When I woke up today, i had every light but USB on (I don’t use it as a USB modem), the power light was red, and the network light was flashing. Even when I unplugged the network cable. It’d locked up hard; which lights were on was completely irrelevant to what was actually plugged into it, and I definitely couldn’t see it on the network.

I cycled power to it, and now it’s as you see it above. Red power light, ethernet light comes on if there’s a network cable, and that’s all. Basically it’s a blinky doorstop.

I’m still trying to decide what to replace it with. We also sell the NB6+4W at work – the four port version of mine, which must be different enough inside to not have the same problems because we’ve never had a single one back – and one of those would definitely solve my issues.

At the other end of the scale, I’m eyeing up Belkin’s N1 Vision router, that insane thing with a D-pad and LCD screen. I’d pair that with a Billion 7300 or a plain NB6 – again, same as mine but without wireless, and again we’ve never had a single one back – and rely on the N1 for routing and wireless networking.

That’s all speculation, though. It’s the long weekend, and I’m stuck without broadband.

I still have internet access, though. Of sorts.

This is my W800i. It’s a GSM mobile phone with Bluetooth. It’s not 3G, but it does support GPRS, and is capable of running Opera for very slow web browsing while out and about.

It’s also, if you can connect it to a PC, a GPRS data modem. It’s no speed demon – OzSpeedTest reckons I managed five whole kilobytes a second, so calling it a “broadband” speed test is a bit of a misnomer – but it’s rock solid stable and reliable, and is more than enough for MSN, light web browsing and blogging.

This is a snap to set up. Pairing a Windows PC with a Bluetooth mobile phone will automatically install it as a Bluetooth dialup modem. If you have a USB data cable, it’ll detect as a USB dialup modem.

Then, create a dialup connection in Windows, with your phone as the modem. The number to dial is *99# and you can leave the username and password blank. When you start ‘dialing’, your phone will behave like you’ve just opened its own browser and told it to load something off the net.

Whether or not you can take and make voice calls while you’re using GPRS depends on what kind of phone you have. I think my phone downloads SMSes via GPRS anyway, so Voicemail could let me know I’d missed a call, but calling them back dropped out my net access. I think my W800i is a class B, and the GSM network can tell, so it didn’t interrupt the GPRS connection to allow the call though.

why i hate consumer hardware

Friday, April 4th, 2008

My hate-hate relationship with the D-Link DSL-G604T continues:


Point 1: I am using a G604T again because my other modem died. Again. Right now, I don’t recommend the NB6W either.

Point 2: I had to power cycle the modem when I got home today before it would connect (it just sat there blinking its ADSL light slowly).

Read the rest of this entry »

black and white and annoying all over

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Do you walk past an angry magpie every morning on the way to work? I do.

I’m 10-30, male, and respond aggressively to being headslapped by a coward who then glides into a tree 30 feet above my head. I was actually surprised to learn there’s ever such a thing as a warning swoop; the little bastard near me has always just gone for my head.

He’ll come after me even if I’m looking straight at him; I either have to duck every swoop or put my fists up and mock-punch the air (the latter is more fun – ever seen a bird skid mid-dive?).

There’s an easy solution – contact your local Department of Environment & Climate Change office and report where it is and what it does (they’ll ask if it’s actually hitting you or not, if it’s swooping other people too etc). I was told basically they’d pass the info on to a ranger, they’ll probably do something about it, and to wear an umbrella in the meantime. Worth a try.

Public service announcement ends.

Error 80048820

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Error 80048820: You can’t sign in to Windows Live Messenger
You may not be able to sign in because of a problem with Internet connectivity, your firewall (A security feature designed to help protect a computer from unauthorized external access. It can be hardware, software, or both.) , date and time settings, proxy settings, security settings, or SSL security. The server may also be temporarily unavailable.

You’d think, with an eight digit error ID, they could be a bit more specific.

(Check it out. Click on the first “help topic” in the left pane. My ACTUAL problem was error #80048412, because I’d just reset my BIOS and my computer thought it was 2004.)