Monday, April 24, 2006

Windows 98 gets its Expiry Date

Microsoft has begun alerting its customers that three of its legacy Windows versions--Windows 98, Windows 98 SE (Second Editon), and Windows Millennium Edition (Me)--will be retired as of July 11, 2006. That is, these products will exit the Extended Support phase and Microsoft will cease providing any support.
"Microsoft is ending support for these products because they are outdated and these older operating systems can expose customers to security risks," a note on Microsoft's Web site reads. "We recommend that customers who are still running Windows 98 or Windows Me upgrade to a newer, more secure Microsoft operating system, such as Windows XP, as soon as possible."
Windows 98/SE/Me represent the end of the line for Microsoft's MS-DOS-based Windows versions. Current versions of Windows, such as Windows XP and the upcoming Windows Vista are based on a different code base that began with Windows NT. Windows NT and its successors are not based on MS-DOS, an operating system with roots dating back to CP/M in the late 1970's.
For Windows 98/SE/Me customers, the time to upgrade has come. Microsoft will stop providing paid incident support and, more important, any downloadable critical security patches, on July 11, 2006. Then, a year later, the company will cease providing self-help support online."

What can we expect the Expiry Date of Windows XP to be? According to their web site, "Mainstream support will end two years after the next version of this product is released. Extended support will end five years after mainstream support ends."
Windows Vista is expected to be launched in January 2007, so if your PC lasts another 3 years you're already in trouble.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hetzner Saves Me a Fortune!

When my web site was hosted at DataPro, I had no idea how much traffic the "Vineyard Music EXTRA" site was generating. Now I know: far too much to be affordable! In the last few days it has worked out to 150-200MB per day. I guess when you've had over 4 million visitors in the last few years the site becomes more well known than most.
At the DataPro rates I would be looking at a bandwidth bill of an extra R500 per month added to my normal R114 bill; by moving my site to Hetzner's servers in Germany I get 20GB per month included in my R99 total monthly fee.
I have had good service from Hetzner: the setup was easy and straightforward, they have always been knowledgeable and helpful, and they have sorted out my problems quickly and efficiently. Here is a company that finally put the "S" back into ISP. They are truly an Internet Service Provider.
The transfer went through flawlesssly, without a single hitch. Bravo, Hetzner!

PS: Good job it isn't hosted on a Vodacom HSDPA server: 20GB would cost me R4990 for the first 10GB, and thereafter the next 10GB (they don't have a 20GB contract - I wonder why?) would be another R20800. All this for a hobby web site that doesn't earn me a cent.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

War with Iran being planned

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

Read the complete The New Yorker article

Rediscover the Magic of Books

When my car radio/tape player was stolen, it felt like I had lost a friend. It wasn't the incessant chatter of the radio I missed, but music mostly. I decided to replace it with a portable device, so I could listen even when not driving, and settled on an iPod Shuffle. About the same time I decided to get Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" on Amazon.com. That's when I discovered Audible.com and audio books in general. It was the first audio book I bought.
Ever since then driving has taken on a whole new significance. A literary significance, and a quantum leap. Instead of mindless chatter and background music, my car is filled with facts, mystery, suspense and fascination.
What's more, I have rediscovered reading. As a programmer I spend hours each day reading my computer screen. By the end of the day the last thing I want to do is read; my eyes just go on strike. So having a good book read to me is simply delicious.
Now my wife and I can share the same book together, at the same time. She's an avid reader, and I just couldn't keep up. Now we enjoy the same books together, and it has drawn us closer, and given us some real quality time together.
Audible has enabled me to rediscover the magic of books. It's been worth every cent.

Audible.com | Wikipedia entry on Audible | Amazon.com

Stratospheric Bandwidth Prices

I always thought Telkom's ADSL pricing was pretty excessive at R99 per GB (R0.10/MB), until I saw the cost of Vodacom's 3G offering. It's stratospheric! R2.00 per MB if you exceed your "contract" allocation - that's R2048 per GB. If you buy a 1GB contract, it's "only" R499 (R0.49 per MB).
So it may offer fast speeds (no guarantee) but it's even faster on your wallet! Did I mention that Telkom owns a large share in Vodacom?
The graphic is quite interesting: in their bid to show how fast HSDPA is, they are also pointing out how slow their current service is. If you can get a signal, and it isn't overloaded with voice callers, then anything above 9.6kb is a bonus. All I can say is that you'll have to have a damn good reason to buy bandwidth at these prices. Of course, there is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the reason why it is all so expensive is the stranglehold Telkom has over international internet access. None whatsoever.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hunter Killer Bug Fix

Today my laptop copy of Hunter Killer went completely crazy and ran out of memory. I found a bug in the program and fixed it. Please upgrade to version 1.00.0010 (i.e. build 10) to avoid this problem. I have also limited the program to a maximum of 500 subdirectories, although I haven't been able to test this limit.

Hunter Killer Download Page | Hunter Killer article

Monday, April 10, 2006

When "delete" is not enough

It was only a single digit in a 20-page Microsoft Word contract between two partners, but Scott Cooper earned his fee several years ago when he found it.

read more | digg story

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I Will Survive


I spent a great afternoon at the Barnyard Theatre in Cresta, at a show called "Jukebox Hero", where audience members get to choose the songs. One of them was Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive", brilliantly done by the stage band. I couldn't get the "Alien Song" video out of my head, though. If you haven't seen it before, click on the link or watch it directly, courtesy of You Tube.

You Tube Video | Barnyard Theatre | Victor Navone's Alien Song video

Friday, April 07, 2006

Best News Podcasts

I listen to a number of news-related podcasts. One of the most interesting is Newsweek on Air, a radio show produced by Newsweek magazine. It's a bit more detailed than the CBS Weekend Roundup, and covers more world news. Even so, both are very US-focused, which is sad.
The BBC World Service doesn't have that parochial bias that the American news has. BBC Newshour is one of the best news programmes on the planet. You can listen to the streaming version for free, or you can get the podcast version from www.audible.com, and I think it is well worth the US$9.06 per month or US$48.97 per year. Since I'm an Audible member, it cost me only 4 credits for a year's subscription. Well worth it: you get 5 issues per week, 1 hour long. I download mine when I wake up in the morning, and can listen on my way to work. There is also the BBC Radio Newspod among a whole host of BBC podcasts.
There are a number of other podcasts available from PRI in the US, as well as from the Apple iTunes store. If you have a more scientific bent, then the Discovery Channel Podcasts are an absolute must.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Discovery Cartoon

Published in a local medical magazine. It would by funnier if it wasn't so true.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Zapiro on Zuma

The antics of Zuma's lawyer are an embarrassment to the legal profession.

DataPro invests R4.5 million in hosting operations

DataPro has announced that it has invested R4.5 million in expanding and upgrading its hosting operations. This comes as part of the company’s move to focus on delivering hosting services, comparable to that in the US.
According to Dave Crothall, newly-appointed hosting manager at DataPro “the expansion has become necessary with the restructuring of our current hosting offerings but more importantly because of the growing demand we have for premium hosting services.”
Commenting further, Crothall said: "Hosting is a major focus at DataPro. Although not currently the situation, we expect and are gearing ourselves for the commoditisation of bandwidth. With commoditisation, we foresee that hosting solutions will be sold on key deliverables such as service, reliability and value-added offerings rather than the price of bandwidth.”
"Our objective is to offer the cheapest bandwidth costs possible. In this light we have upgraded and refocused our entire hosting operation to prepare for critical mass and to enable us to offer a slew of exciting new products and services at very competitive prices. We are not going to base our model on bandwidth."
He stressed that the company will be introducing a range of exciting and new hosting-focused product and service options "over the next 12 months".
Dave has an uphill battle on his hands. His initial "announcement" to his customers scared the bejeebers out of me, and his response convinced me to move my hosting from DataPro to Hetzner. I think he has realised that some mistakes were made, and I wish him luck. The corporate culture at DataPro is going to have to improve if they want to attract good customers. My experiences with them have been dismal. By comparison, I have had only one bad experience with Hetzner, and everything else has gone like clockwork. I can administer much of the web site myself, which I prefer.

MyADSL: Technology and Broadband News: DataPro invests R4.5 million in hosting operations | My initial reaction

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