Microsoft plans to discontinue support for Windows XP in April, 2014. What does that mean for most Windows XP users?
In general, I don’t recommend upgrading a Windows XP computer to Windows 7 or 8. (One reason: Windows 7 requires twice as much memory as XP and its Aero interface requires more CPU horsepower.) Wait until your Windows XP PC fails, and then replace it with a new PC with Windows 7 or 8 already pre-installed on it. (If your new Windows 8 PC lacks a touch screen, you’ll prolly want to install Classic Shell or Start8, so that it works like Windows 7.)
Would you like to see how operating systems ranked in popularity across the web during the past month? You can see that and more web client statistics here. Statcounter.com gathers and displays data on
Mobile vs. Desktop
Mobile Screen Resolution
Mobile Vendor (Beta)
These data are collected by three million websites across the globe. Read statcounter.com’s FAQ.
A client recently asked me to uninstall Corel WordPerfect Suite release 8 from a Windows XP PC. That sounds easy: Start / Control Panel / Add/Remove Programs, right? Wrong. The normal uninstall procedure resulted in a request that I insert the Corel WordPerfect Suite release 8 installation CD, which of course was unavailable.
Here’s how I uninstalled it:
Backup the registry:
Start / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools / System Restore
Within System Restore, choose Create a Restore Point
Delete contents of directory C:\Corel:
(Enter only the boldface commands)
Start / Run
C:\Corel>ATTRIB -R -S -A -H *.* /D /S
C:\Corel>DEL *.* /S
Enter ctrl-F to find each instance of COREL
Delete each instance of COREL
Choose Scan For Issues
Choose Fix Selected Issues
Warning: If you stumble, any one of these steps could destroy your Windows operating system and render the computer unusable. DOS commands and Windows Regedit are like dynamite — powerful, but dangerous. Don’t follow these steps if you’re not fluent in DOS commands and Regedit.
Based on file datestamps, this copy of Corel WordPerfect Suite seemed to be from 1998 — back when Windows 95 was still viable!
Yesterday Twitter and Microsoft added multifactor authentication, which is a good thing for the security of users. Microsoft has used the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)’s RFC-6238 time-based one-time password algorithm, which is also a good thing. I’m not sure what method Twitter chose.
Two-factor authentication, in addition to requiring a traditional static password, requires a time-sensitive password to authenticate a user. This may be delivered via a cellphone. With RFC-6238, new time-sensitive passwords are created every 30 seconds.
The beauty of RFC-6238 is that it’s a standard that’s well-documented and tested. Google already uses RFC-6238, so you can use Google Authenticator for Android to log into your Microsoft Accounts, and vice versa. Because they also use RFC-6238, you can use Google Authenticator to log into Dropbox, Facebook, Bitcoin, WordPress, et al.
Let’s hope that more websites that store our data hop aboard the RFC-6238 multifactor authentication train.
In the early 1990s, the Internet was compared to a library whose books had been removed from the shelves and thrown into a large pile.
Altavista and similar search engines indexed and brought some order to the chaos. Google ran with this idea and today provides a flexible general purpose user interface to its awesome Internet index (called BigTable). This month, the Digital Public Library of America website has arrived online. According to its About page, it will attempt to provide a single index for many existing libraries. They’re professional librarians who have the cooperation of some prestigious libraries, such as Smithsonian, Harvard, and New York Public libraries, so http://dp.la/ should become a valuable resource. The DPLA index points to more than just books: documents include works of art, multimedia, historical letters, etc. The Wikipedia entry for DPLA contains comments on DPLA’s history and controversies.
Their user interface includes the fascinating ability to browse its index by place or time, and they provide an open-source application program interface (API) for use by anyone. The nonprofit DPLA is funded for two years by private grants.
Reports have leaked from Microsoft that its upcoming Windows 8.1 release will revert to a classic Windows Start button (a Start button only, not a Start menu) — at least on PCs. I don’t know how it will behave on tablets with touch screens.
Microsoft has claimed that they ship twenty million copies of Windows 8 each month, yet PC sales fell 14 percent last quarter. Some observers claim that the unpopularity of Windows 8 is at least partially responsible for the downturn. The growth in mobile device sales and a weak global economy have eaten into PC sales, as well.
According to leaks, Windows 8.1, expected to be revealed at the end of June, will no longer boot to the “modern” (né “Metro”) interface and its “Start screen”, but instead it will boot to the familiar Windows desktop interface. In the meantime, if you’d like to make your Windows 8 computer work like Windows 7, give Classic Shell a try. (It’s open source and available for free.)
Last week’s hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers succeeded only when an FBI specialist identified the brothers on a surveillance video that was provided by retailer Lord & Taylor. He noticed the brothers’ nonchalance as the bombs exploded. Facial recognition software failed to match their images with those on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Facial recognition of still images requires enormous horsepower. Behavior analysis of moving images will require even more horsepower.
Last month, Prince took exception to eight 6-second video clips, apparently owned by him, that appeared on Twitter’s Vine platform. He issued a DMCA copyright complaint to Twitter, who apparently complied by removing the material. Here’s a good news story.
The copyright system is a house of cards. Now that anyone can make perfect copies of media, performers may need to stop relying upon royalties and instead be paid once for each performance, just like most people.
In the late 1960s I was part of a small product development team whose goal was the design of a frequency-synthesized radio receiver. This included a phase-locked frequency synthesizer whose output could be set to anything from 156 to 186 Mhz in 100 Hz steps. It used two VCOs (Voltage Controlled Oscillators — their output frequencies vary as a function of steering voltage). The output frequency of each VCO was determined by a phase-locked loop. It was the first time that our employer had developed a phase-locked loop frequency synthesized product. The frequency synthesizer’s high-speed VCO covered 30 MHz in steps of 1 MHz. We distributed the 30 MHz range amongst three oscillators, each of which covered a 10 MHz range. While prototyping, we discovered low-frequency noise sidebands on the VCO’s output signal. We needed to remove these noise sidebands, or they’d appear in the receiver’s output. On a spectrum analyzer, the noise sidebands appeared to be 20 to 400 Hz each side of the output signal and 15 dB below output signal level.
After selectively freezing circuit components while observing the noise sidebands, we learned that the carbon composition resistors in the loop filter were (one of) the culprits. That was a surprise: I had always thought of resistors as discrete inert lumps. I learned that carbon composition resistors consist of tiny grains of carbon bound to tiny grains of ceramic. We were seeing noise caused by random molecular motion. These voltage spikes, though mere microvolts in amplitude, were modulating the VCOs, resulting in noisy sidebands on the VCO’s output signal.
We substituted carbon film resistors, and discovered that the noise sidebands dropped substantially. I learned that carbon film resistors can dissipate less power, but offer a more contiguous medium than ordinary carbon composition resistors. Once we’d peeled back this layer, we discovered that the ceramic feedthru filter capacitors that fed each oscillator with DC power were also modulating the high-speed oscillator.
Instrumenting this circuit was interesting: we couldn’t load the phase locked loop itself with instrumentation or the phase lock would fail; we could only examine the noise sidebands that were an effect of noisy phase locked loop components. Since those days, I’ve learned that often we can’t directly examine phenomena — we can only see indirect effects. I suppose that this is how astrophysicists have discovered dark matter. Dark matter doesn’t reflect or refract electromagnetic energy; it’s detectable only indirectly because it’s affected by gravity.
What do we ever know about anything?
B.F. Skinner was alternately praised and despised because his brand of psychology, which became known as behaviorism, admitted that it’s impossible to know the inner workings and hidden mechanisms of humans; we can only observe behavior. He had a point: are humans less mysterious than electron movements or dark matter? In the end, what do we know about anything or anybody other than its behavior?
Another dumb choice by our federal government of where to spend taxpayers’ money is crashing if not yet burning. Fisker Automotive, manufacturer of an over-priced electric car, announced yesterday that it is laying off most of its employees. Fisker problems:
They outsourced control system design. This is the core of an electric vehicle. Outsourcing its design demonstrates that they’re in the wrong business.
$110,000 per vehicle MSRP
40 mile range
193 million dollar DOE financing
Their sole-source battery vendor, also govt financed, went bankrupt
These are the ingredients for a disaster. Why do we allow government lawyers (the entire Obama administration) to make investment decisions about technologies that they don’t understand? (Which is all of them.)
The proliferation of Internet access has encouraged the growth of LMS (Learning Management Systems) over the last decade and competition is hotter than ever. Why? LMS can provide a walled garden for students to learn. Many LMS vendors have priced their LMS products cleverly: they’re available gratis for a single classroom, but require substantial payment when deployed throughout a school district. The profit motive is alive and well in the LMS market.
Today’s LMS leaders are
In my neighborhood, the Palm Beach County school district has committed to Edmodo.
This blog discusses LMS deployment from a teacher’s perspective.
You’re probably aware that Google is building fiber to the home in Kansas City. Wired broadband access is preferable to wireless, and in response to this need, even when subscribers are away from home and office, Google now offers an answer. Google, on April 1, is touting its new gigabit Fiber to the Pole service.
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City
They gone about as fer as they can go
They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high
About as high as a buildin’ orta grow.
– Everything’s up to date in Kansas City song from stage show “Oklahoma” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This delightful production number was performed by Gene Nelson in the 1955 movie “Oklahoma!”. It’s a magical performance. If performed today, I’m sure that the lyrics would include,
Everything’s up to date in Kansas City
They’ve even rolled out fiber to the pole