Dan's Data letters #3Publication date: 17-Oct-2002.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
I ran across this "service" the other day and thought it would interest you. I'm more than a little skeptical about their claims. Artera Group claim their software can make your dial-up modem run as fast as a 256K DSL connection! They don't make any claims about improving your sex life or regrowing your hair so maybe they're on the up and up. Or maybe they're smoking crack at the office.
By the way, I liked your article on MailWasher. It looks pretty cool. I think it will be just the thing for a few friends and family members plagued by spam. I use Cloudmark, which is an interesting anti-spam tool that uses P2P technology. Ben
Mmmm. Whadda pile of fresh, steaming marketing.
Artera provide a proxy service, basically, which recompresses stuff to make it smaller (and uglier, though if it's done well you wouldn't notice a lot of difference on a lot of content), and which also blocks stuff you don't need to see (ads), and which also compresses data better, allegedly, than your modem would by itself. I'd be bloody surprised if their compression beat in-modem compression by a significant amount, but never mind about that; the other stuff they do could genuinely significantly improve the effective download speeds you'd get when browsing the Web.
It'll do absolutely nothing for incompressible data, though; file downloads won't be faster, games will play no better (it's possible their proxy stuff would make your ping times worse, though I doubt it), and if you didn't have an always-on connection before, you still wouldn't have one now.
Since low latency, fast file downloads and always-on connectivity are why I pay for broadband, I wouldn't give Artera a buck a year for what they're selling.
With regard to Cloudmark, I dare say it's great, but it's only available as a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook, which is an e-mail client created by Satan to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
Oh, all right. Microsoft e-mail clients aren't that bad any more. It only took them about six goes to make the first one that was worth using, and if you use a current Outlook variant and keep up with your security patches then you shouldn't even be sending HI SEXXXY LOOK SUCH A KOOL NEW FLASH Trojan-mails to your entire address book every ten minutes.
But you're still not gonna catch me using Outlook. Someone else can review plug-ins for it.
I see these little cylinder shaped things in a lot of electrical devices and power supplies etc. and have asked a few electronic guys, but they don't know what they're for!
It's the little black cylindric thing just before the device which you usually wish to power. What the hell are they? A filter of some kind? I even have one on my Microsoft Intellimouse!
The "electronic guys" you asked can't have been paying too much attention in class, if they didn't recognise a ferrite interference suppressor. You can get un-encapsulated ferrite beads, too; you're meant to wind a cable through them, or clamp a two-part one over a cable, to increase the cable's inductance and thus suppress unwanted high frequency signals. Ferrites stop cables acting like receive/transmit antennas at high frequencies.
There's no need to bother with this in many situations, because many cables don't carry high enough frequencies to radiate anything, and aren't plugged into anything sensitive to RF at either end. But when a cable really can benefit from a ferrite bead, it'll often have one or more built in. Hence the lump in your mouse cord.
Here's some more info.
One of the PCs I've built has an IBM DeskStar HDD. It's a 60GXP, not the infamous 75GXP.
It's working. I've not lost a bit of data on the drive, surface scans report no errors, performance benchmarks are normal and the S.M.A.R.T. self-tests all insist the drive is in perfect health. Opinions differ on how unusual this is, but that's not what I find curious.
It's the noise that started around a fortnight ago.
Now, I don't mean "noise" as in "This is a little irritating." I mean "noise" as in "I turned it off five minutes ago and my ears still ring."
Having isolated it from the other components, I can confirm it's the drive alone that is making the noise.
At first I assumed something had strayed into the path of a cooling fan, or that a fan was suffering a severe bearing failure. It's a buzzing, comparable to living around the corner from a busy sawmill. It reverberates around the house.
Then there's the electro-magnetic interference; a periodic 'click'. I recorded it with the sound card of another PC. No additional wiring or equipment was required, as induction seems to do the job just fine. The neighbours will surely love this one too.
I asked IBM to confirm whether this sort of malfunction was covered by the warranty. I'm getting the silent treatment thus far, so I'm currently weighing the cost of a new drive against opening this thing up and seeing what's going on inside.
Do you have any idea what could be happening here, and how the drive can be working with such traumas evidently going on inside?
I don't know exactly what the noise in question signifies (though you may find this, or the ripped-off but better-described page here, amusing), but I would definitely retire the drive. You should be due a warranty replacement.
If consumer protection laws where you live are like the ones where I live, then the manufacturer's warranty on the drive - whether it's for three years, one year, or whatever - is of interest only to the people who bought it from IBM, not to you. Your contract is with the reseller, and any goods that don't last as long as goods of that type can reasonably be expected to last are covered by an "implied warranty". Sure, if the manufacturer wants to do the deed directly then that's great, but otherwise you can drop the drive on the reseller and get satisfaction. In theory, at least.
The principal fly in this ointment is that I presume you'll want to transfer the data from the old drive to the new one. This fact makes it easy for an irritated reseller to make you pay through the nose anyway, as they can charge you if you hang onto the old drive for a day when you've already got the new one, or charge you for doing the data transfer themselves.
It beats me as to what the actual problem is, though. I'd guess a bad bearing, because it shouldn't be possible for anything to have come adrift and rub on the edge of the platter.
Since it s almost summer [...here in the Southern hemisphere...], I decided to remove my PC's side panel to allow better airflow. However, this approach allows more noise to emanate from my comp, and I've been freaked by the fact my IBM hard disk is making those so-called Clicks of Death at startup.
I previously had a 40Gb 60GXP that died on me, and now this 20Gb 75GXP is making those noises which kind of scare the crap out of me. Interestingly though, it only makes those noises at startup (XP splash-screen and loading of desktop) and then stops. I wonder if then is the time of greatest hard disk activity (or danger).
I m pretty scared of using my comp now, just writing this email to see if you can confirm whether I should start backing up (I have already done so), or whether I should start shopping for a new hard disk.
The 75GXP drives are known to be dodgy; even if you've got one that seems to be behaving itself, it's a good idea to switch to something else. If yours is making a funny noise, heck yes, you should change it.
The bigger issue, though, which is one that most people don't know about, is that any consumer hard drive that's more than a couple of years old and which has been on for most of that time is due for replacement. Full stop.
Don't get me wrong; a two year old consumer drive that's been used non-stop for all of that time may live for five more years. But the down side of the ultra-low price and excellent performance of consumer IDE drives is that they do come with use-by dates, and it doesn't do to push your luck. Especially if the drive's making noises it didn't used to make.
Retire questionable old drives as scratch disks, or something, and grab yourself a 100-120Gb giant for whatever the ludicrously low price for the things is this week.
If you remember to swap 'em out every two years, consumer ATA ("IDE") drives are a great option even for serious professional drive-flogging tasks. Their price-performance really can't be beaten, if your application doesn't have to have SCSI disks, and if you can spare the time every couple of years to upgrade them.
Our call center is working 24/7. To improve efficiency, management introduced "desk sharing" - sharing of desks and peripherals. For hygiene reasons, people would like to use their own keyboard and mouse. So the idea is to give each operator a wireless mouse and keyboard.
The main problem that I can see is - what will happen if suddenly over 25 mice and keyboards working in the same environment?
I've read that there is configuration software which can do ID detection, but it seems only to work each time you reboot your PC, which we almost never do here.
An office-load of wireless input devices won't all interfere with each other, but most of 'em will, if they're the usual couple-of-channels kind of gear.
You can, however, get cordless input devices that can set a unique ID code to allow multiple devices to operate on the same channel without interference. Check out this, for instance. Something like this will be a must for your situation, but I don't think it'll let people swap from one keyboard to another without rebooting and reconfiguring.
Alternatively, of course, you could just give everyone a desktop USB hub and USB input devices. Cheaper, hot plug and unplug, no interference, no problems.
I was just wondering if you've ever played with a SmartMedia (or Memory Stick, or MMC... etc etc) to floppy disk adapter.
How do they work? I mean, you plug in your little memory card...and automagically it's converted to magnetic data, and you can (very slowly) transfer the contents to your computer. How?
FlashPath adapters are conceptually similar to those gadgets that let you plug a portable CD player into a car cassette deck via a fake cassette on the end of a wire. The adapter has, inside its 3.5-inch-floppy-shaped casing, got a fake disk surface with a coil in it; it's powered by lithium coin cells, because they're the only things thin enough to fit inside the floppy casing. FlashPath adapters don't look to the computer like a normal floppy disk, though; you need driver software to use them. There's a decent, though not very new, review of FlashPath adapters here.