Why you need at least two computers these days

At least if your are a Windows user you probably need two computers these days. In the morning after I have turned it on and wanna start working with it my computer usually becomes in-responsive for several minutes while updating the virus scanner, running virus scans and especially when the installer kicks in to install updates.
The disk light goes on and the system is basically freezing. No matter how powerful your computer is, Windows turn it into a slow creature. The disk seems to become the bottleneck while virus scanner and installer read tons of data and other applications almost get no time slice to do anything.
Time to grab a coffee, or use your second computer to get things done, hopefully one with may be Linux installed. I decided to leave my computer alone while it is doing all its morning routine. True multitasking apparently doesn’t work under Windows if a single application or two can force it to be completely under their control.
On my private desktop computer with Windows 7 installed yesterday I changed the settings in Windows Update Center from "Automatic installs" to "Automatic downloads, but prompt me for install". This should allow me to decide when the install actually will run and thus give me as a user the power to first get my things done before letting the computer do its sanitary work. Let’s see how this works out in the future.

( I actually wrote this blog posting on my second computer while waiting for my primary work computer to become usable again Zwinkerndes Smiley )

My favorites for week 18, 2011

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout tail chasing and big fish

Let me show you some real silly comics this week from B.C. and Garfield which don’t need any further commentary…

 

NerdSomething to watch: my favorite video clip of the weekabout funny signs

The world is full of funny signs. And funny software error messages of course. Anyway, here is a nice compilation of funny signs in “weird things in the world ”:

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout a place in Lhasa

Potala Palace, Lhasa
"Potala Palace, Lhasa" by ddanforth.

My wife has been there in Lhasa a couple of years ago when she did a great hike from Jiri to the Mount Éverst Base Camp.

Surprise Something to surprise: my favorite "I really didn’t know this" of the weekabout internet crime in Germany

This morning in my newspaper …

Did you know that

  • 7 % of German internet users (= 3.5 million) already experienced their account data for one of their online services being stolen,
  • 5 % of German internet users (= 2.5 million) experienced some financial loss because of this,
  • 4 % of German internet users said they will stop shopping in the web because of the recent data theft case at Sony, 23 % feel unsafe now when using online services.

Source: “Allgemeine Zeitung for Friday, May 6th, 2011”, survey by Bitkom. Also I am reading on their German web site that 37 % of internet users share their password with someone else.

Something to talk about: my favorite quote of the weekabout computers

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.

We could add: … once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is outdated and needs to be replaced.

My favorites for week 17, 2011

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout redundancy

One road to simplification leads through reducing redundancy. Redundant solutions or processes lead to confusion, expensive overhead and loss of productivity. Thus, it is important to not introduce more redundancy in the attempt to reduce it or to “simplify”. Simplification  should mean throwing things away instead of adding more. Nicely illustrated in this Dilbert comic strip !

NerdSomething to watch: my favorite video clip of the weekabout the smallest computer in the world

How small can you make a computer ? Well, this version, nicely presented by John, has a keyboard with just one key. John show us how to use it in this funny video “THE FUTURE TECHNOLOGY!”.

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout Egypt

Egypt
"Egypt" by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.

This impressive photo from NASA shows Egypt in spring, where you can see the green Nile delta and vegetation zone following the river throughout the desert.  The photo was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard the Terra satellite on April 11th. Where the Nile begins to broaden and form the delta, the city of Cairo can be seen as a gray oval smudge.

Cool Something to discover: my favorite bookmark of the weekabout a nice little time saver for Lotus Notes
Tired of typing the same thing again and again ? “ has been a question I recently asked in my blog when I introduced a little gadget I developed using AutoIt: TypeBot, a little tool letting you define phrases to be typed into windows with a particular title through a simple single click on that phrase. Meanwhile version 2 became available allowing you to add, change and delete your own phrases through the GUI, allowing to handle multiple INI-files and also coming with an executable so that you can use the tool without having to install AutoIt.
Alan Lepofsky must have had a similar thought when he developed the Paste Information Application,  a little Lotus Notes database and tool to avoid re-typing the same things again and again, allowing you to paste pre-defined bits of information that you reuse often into Lotus Notes documents and mails with two simple clicks ( one to select that bit from a listbox, one to click OK ). In his blog he nicely describes the application and how to install it, and provides links to download the needed Lotus Notes database.
I installed it on my Lotus Notes 8.5.1 client and it works like a charm.

My favorites for week 8, 2011

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout cubicle landscapes

  One of the many reasons why I love Dilbert comics is that they very often are about the pleasure to work in these modern cubicle landscapes our employers have crafted for us. Well, I only go there if I have to, otherwise I stay at home. Why should I go through this morning commute madness ( actually not so bad in my case; just a 20 minute car ride into Mainz, a medium size town in Germany ) just to get to a place where I actually can not work efficiently ?

Anyway, here is another nice one about this topic:

NerdSomething to watch: my favorite video clip of the weekabout an amazing Guitarist

Thinking outside the box might mean to use a tool in a very different way than people do usually. Watch Erik Mongrain playing his guitar in a very different way …

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/xerqg
Amazing Guitarist

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout a crater in Death Valley.

Little Hebe Crater
"Little Hebe Crater" by stevelyon.

Apparently the Little Hebe Crater must be somewhere in the Death Valley Area, as I assumed when looking at this photo by Steve Lyon, and as I confirmed through Wikipedia. I must have missed it when I was there in 1995. May be next time. You can’t see everythng when travelling…

Surprise Something to surprise: my favorite "I really didn’t know this" of the weekabout facebook

  Did you know that

  • Facebook has 642 726 020 users world wide,
  • most Facebook users come from the US, where 49 % of the population have joined this social network,
  • Germany is on rank 11 with 16 million users, that is 19 % of all Germans
  • in the US the majority of Facebook users are female.

Source: These statistics are available here on socialbakers.

Something to talk about: my favorite quote of the weekabout language

Language is the source of misunderstandings.

Especially human language ! Watson did a great job last week to deal with this and win the Jeopardy! Challenge. In case you missed it you may want to head to my stream of IBM related videos on youtube and find there 6 10-minute video clips showing how the 20-minutes show episodes went last week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, or you may just want to watch this nice 10-minute summary. A collection of articles about Watson I have collected here as a Goodle Bookmarks List.

My favorites for week 41, 2010

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout technical knowledge

Documentation is always important, not only in your life as a professional, but in your private life as well. Think about the special knowledge you possess, for instance about your finance matters or technical equipment in your household. Does your family depend on your availability all the time, or do you have enabled them to fix problems on their own through some documentation or training you have provided ? This comic strip from “Herman” is nicely drawn and funny, but there is also a lot of truth and food for thinking in there.

How much does your team in the company depend on your availability ? Have you been professional enough to provide good documentation about your job and responsibilities and enabled them to solve problems on their own ? Or do you prefer them to be dependant on you ?

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

What is true for a man might be true for a woman as well, right ?

Knowledge is the best charity. To learn a lesson is a far better reward than to receive a gift.  It is better to know how to help yourself than to beg from others. Give and take is fair play. (Source: wikipedia)

NerdSomething to watch: my favorite video clip of the weekabout communication and language

We all know: communication can become quiet difficult. This funny sketch demonstrates how difficult it can become if someone starts to speak a very uncommon "language": "Funny Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry Comedy Sketch! ‘Your Name, Sir?‘ "

Surprise Something to surprise: my favorite "I really didn’t know this" of the weekabout space shuttles

The last Space Shuttle mission is scheduled for February/March 2011: Space Shuttle Endeavour is supposed to deliver some parts to the ISS and an antimatter measuring instrument into the orbit.

To acknowledge the end of the Space Shuttle Program bild der wissenschaft – my regular monthly science read – published an article with some interesting facts about that program. Did you know that

  • 132 Space Shuttle missions have been accomplished so far, 2 more are scheduled, 2 ended with a complete disaster ( Challenger in January 1986 and Columbia in January 2003 ), making that program less reliable than attempted.
  • 5 shuttles have been in the fleet: Columbia ( 28 missions ), Challenger ( 10 missions ), Discovery ( 39 missions ), Atlantis ( 32 misisons ), Endeavour ( 25 misisons )
  • More than 2000 tons is the weight of a space shuttle during take off, 24 tons is the weight of the cargo it can lift into the orbit.
  • 355 astronauts have used a space shuttle to get into the orbit, among them 332 US astronauts and 7 Germans. Taking into account those who used it multiple times 787 human beings have been taken into space using this program.
  • Discovery is the shuttle with most missions ( 39 ), spending 363 days in space, orbiting Earth 5.400 times, flying a distance of 213 million kilometers in total.
  • All shuttles together have orbited Earth 21.000 times and flew 850 million kilometers.
  • Longest mission was performed by Columbia in November 1996 lasting 17 days and 15 hours.
  • Discovery reached the largest height in December 1999 with 609 kilometers during the third Hubble repair mission.
  • 32 times a shuttle docked at the ISS, 9 times at the Russian space station Mir.
  • Shuttle astronauts have delivered 63 satellites into the orbit plus 13 research units which returned to Earth.

Source: “bild der wissenschaft 10/2010”

ApplauseSomething to learn: my favorite tip of the weekabout the touchpad on your thinkpad.

Does it sometimes gets into your way ? You are typing in a lot of text and suddenly your windows starts scrolling automatically like crazy ? Because you have somehow touched the touchpad ?
Sometimes it might be a good idea to simply disable it, especially when you don’t use it usually anyway. Head to Start –> Control Panel –> Mouse, then open the “UltraNav” tab ( at least that’s how it works on my Lenovo W500 thinkpad with Windows XP installed ), then uncheck “Enable Touchpad”.
Now, what if you need it sometimes ? If you check on “Show UtraNav icon in the system tray” you get that little icon into the system tray which allows you to enable or disable it any time with just two clicks. Left-click on that icon, that click on the menu item “Enable Touchpad” or “Disable Touchpad”.

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout shadow and light

Illa de Arousa
"Illa de Arousa" by Noel Feans.

I like this photo because of the nice light and shadow effects and the interesting atmosphere it generates. It has been taken by Noel Feans somewhere in Spain and is called: “Illa de Arousa”.

Something to talk about: my favorite quote of the weekabout fish and knowledge

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.

While I was googling for that quote I used above – Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.I was surprised to see how many variations of that quote exist:

<—see this one

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he’ll eat for weeks!” by Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish; and you can sell him fishing equipment.”—Author unknown

Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  Unless he doesn’t like sushi—then you also have to teach him to cook.”—Auren Hoffman, Herald Philosopher

Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in the boat and drink beer all day.”—OldFox

My favorites for week 35, 2010

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout defending a castle. Or: project management in the good old times

Being a project manager many hundred years ago probably wasn’t much easier than it is today. Think for instance about the project of defending a castle. For such a project it was real critical to meet the dead lines, as nicely shown in the Herman comic strip.

NerdSomething to watch: my favorite video clip of the weekabout multiple computer

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers

Look at this quote Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, made in 1943. OK, that’s long ago. Nowadays there are actually 7 computers in my household, not to count any mobile devices, which I actually don’t use except a mobile phone. Some day we will probably ask ourselves: what do we do with all these computers ? Do we really need so many ?

The guy here in this video gives you one idea what you can do with so many computers. Just give him a few seconds…

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout NASA

The Goddard Photo and Video Blog publishs a few interesting shots every day, like the one from Hurricane Earl, as seen on September 1, 2010.

NASA joined the Commons on Flickr on August 30th with three iconic sets spanning the US space agency’s 50+ year history. Their Commons account will feature photos from across the agency’s many locations and centers, chronicling the history of space and lunar missions, and the people and places of the organization.

One of their photos you can see below on the right.

NASA Satellite Captures Hurricane Earl on September 1, 2010
"NASA Satellite Captures Hurricane Earl on September 1, 2010" by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Apollo 11 Launched Via Saturn V Rocket
"Apollo 11 Launched Via Saturn V Rocket" by NASA on The Commons.

Dear Firewall, stop asking me …

You know this: you have got a new computer with Windows Vista installed and certainly with a firewall like G Data Security Firewall and this thing starts bombing you with tons of questions whether you want to allow this and that – questions you actually don’t know how to answer right since in most cases it just throws a cryptic program name at you and you have no idea who started this ( was it me Embarrassed? ), what this piece of software is doing and who developed it.

This can look like this dialog ( in German of course, since I have a German copy of Windows Vista on my home computer; in this case the firewall is asking me whether I want to allow some guy called SoftwareUpdate.exe started by Explorer.EXE to open a outbound connection from my LAN ):

Who the hell is “SoftwareUpdate.exe” ? Who has launched this and how can I know whether this is something necessary for proper operation of my computer, wherher it is may be harmful or even dangerous ? Can’t this ignorant firewall ask its questions in a way that I can understand it ? Come on; i am the one supposed to make a decision here, how can I do this without knowing answers to those essential questions I have ?

Well, looks like this firewall software is not smart enough to phrase questions in a reasonable way. But, a closer look reveals there are options available to make ourselves a little smarter. See, “SoftwareUpdate.exe” is shown in blue color; isn’t that typically the color of a link to some more information ? Well, I admit, I found out by accident as well, even I am working with the internet for many many years meanwhile. I just did not expect a link showing up in some dialog box on my desktop.

Anyway, clicking on this link reveals some more information:

Does this help ? Not really, but there are more items offered to click on Disappointed. By clicking on “Gestartet von” ( “Started by” … how do you like these free German lessons, my dear English speaking reader ? ) we get to know who has started “SoftwareUpdate.exe”. And if we click on “Eigenschaften” (“Properties”) after selecting “SoftwareUpdate.exe” we see real interesting information:

We see where the program is located. The path name has some meaning for us: “Apple Software Update”, And we also see the same in the description (“Beschreibung”). Great. Since we believe Apple belongs to the good guys I think we can answer that question from our firewall with: “Yes, I allow that.” Before we do so we might verify by checking under “Digital Signature” that Apple really is the provider of this software, and we see there: “Apple Inc.”.

All good. Let’s see what the next question will be coming from the firewall in a few minutes, I guess …