[H] Consumer Archives: April 2006

Archive Listing

Sunday April 30, 2006

FoxIT

Just as the author of this article has stated, I’m not a very big fan of Acrobat Reader. I have never seen a program that can take any rig and choke it to death. PCMechanic has a look at an alternative PDF reader.

I have never been a fan of Adobe Acrobat Reader. It constantly needs updating, runs slowly and locks up in IE. So I when I came across Foxit Reader from Foxit Software, I wanted to try it as an alternative.

Tech Support: Life on the Other End

Those of us who have worked in tech support can certainly attest to this story. For anyone who hasn’t done support, take a look at the other side of the coin.

"I was trying to explain to this sales manager [that] his hard drive was dead and I couldn't recover his presentation," Aceto says. The customer turned beet red, picked up his PC, and hurled it out his office window, Aceto says. The PC fell three stories and smashed to pieces in the parking lot. Next, the man jumped over his desk and tried to assault Aceto. Luckily people rushed into the office and stopped the attack.

Never seen one hurled from a window, have seen one come in with some ball bat damage though.

Firefox Flicks Video Contest Winners Announced

We had told you about the Firefox Flicks contest that the people at Mozilla were running. The winners have been announced so go check out the videos!

Mozilla today announced the winners of its Firefox Flicks video contest at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The winning videos were selected from nearly 300 submissions created by Firefox enthusiasts from around the world, who responded to the opportunity to help promote Firefox through short film.

Thanks to my good friend Jason Kuhn on this one.

How NOT to Do VOD

We are big proponents of Video on Demand around here. I’ve had a lot of conversations with you guys agreeing with my point of letting us watch a movie on our couch instead sending us to an uncomfortable over priced theater. Slowly but surely you are starting to see some big names trickle into this type of media service, some are doing well, and some are basically a how not to type of scenario.

The Movielink announcement last month about releasing VOD movies for purchase left me with a lot of unanswered questions. First, who the hell would pay for this? Why would you spend $20 for KING KONG on your computer when you could go to Wal-Mart and buy the DVD for $14 and watch it on your computer, TV, portable DVD player, etc. What’s the appeal of owning an electronic-only version of a film when you can own an actual transferable copy of a film. All the major studios, minus Disney for the time being, have bought into the service so it must be something someone thinks is a good idea. I couldn’t wrap my head around so I figured what better way to figure out the benefits than to give it a go myself. So on Tuesday night, I set out to legally download my first movie from the web courtesy of Movielink. And as luck would have it, I kept a running diary.

If nothing else, it really is a funny read. I also think maybe 20 bucks is a bit high on the price point too.

Changing Passwords

While reading this story I was shocked and I wasn’t. I was shocked that only fourteen percent of users never change their passwords and a whopping fourty one percent use the same password for everything. Then I thought about all that, and realized it really isn’t that surprising at all, now is it?

A survey from IT security company Sophos shows that just 14 per cent of users have a different password for every site they access, with 41 per cent admitting to using the same password for everything they do.

Maybe we should have a [H] Adopt a Noob program where we each get a normal user and educate them in security. I wonder if education in terms of these types of problems would be a better deterrent than anything else we throw at it.

DHzer0point 0.64

The folks over at DriverHeaven have the latest Zero Point drivers up for download. Versions are available in both red and green.

Increased amount of screen resolutions Powerplay support returned, after exiting a 3d application your card will revert to a lower power state. All mobility cards supported through the x1k series cards, if you have trouble installing on your notebook let us know.Increased pixel shader and vertex shader efficiency, with increased clipping optimizations. General performance enhancements. DHzer0point Color optimizations. Support for and increased performance noted with Crossfire configurations. We have removed the CP from this release due to the lack of configuration options. We are working on an alternative CP option other than CCC.

Saturday April 29, 2006

Canadian Music Creators Coalition

I have to applaud these musicians for realizing the same thing we have been saying for years. They have created the CMCC, a group that has some very alternative views from the record labels. Things like not suing your customers and on-demand music downloads are a couple key points. Hopefully this type of thought will catch on.

A group of popular Canadian musicians have established (PDF) the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) in an effort to sway public policy in a direction that they believe is beneficial to consumers. Concerned by highly restrictive DRM technology and the escalation of lawsuits that target consumers, the CMCC wants to promote intellectual property law reforms that will prevent the recording industry from trampling on consumer rights:

Major FireFox 2.0 Feature Dropped

For those of you who have ever had FireFox eat your bookmarks, you’ll be disappointed to know that the rewrite of the bookmarking system has been yanked in order to meet the target launch date.

While Microsoft has become a favorite target of critics who say the company has dramatically scaled back expectations for Windows Vista, Mozilla's Firefox Web browser is about to join that crowd.

This was a major reason I moved over to Opera. After losing 200+ hardware bookmarks alone, I was done with FF. On top of that, their solution was to automatically backup your bookmarks at every exit so when and if it happened, then you could restore them. To me, this is a big problem that apparently isn’t important enough to fix.

Windows Live Shopping Debuts

Microsoft has released their newest customizable service dubbed Windows Live Shopping. This service is meant to compliment the MSN Shopping Portal, and has some neat features.

Additional features include the capability to create "shopping lists," user-created shopping guides, "tagging" of products, improved ratings and reviews, and Microsoft Gadget capability. Windows Live Shopping would also sport the same minimalist design that has become prevalent across most of the Windows Live sites. At this time, the service only supports Internet Explorer, but Microsoft said it was working toward providing a Firefox-compatible version as well.

You can also look for some other big product announcements at the upcoming MSN Summit.

Slvr Of Doubt

I have been researching a lot lately because it’s about time I retire my old cell phone for a new one. Now obviously the Razr is a hot ticket item, but a lot of people are wondering if that might have been somewhat of a fluke on the part of Motorola.

When Motorola announces first-quarter earnings late Tuesday, it will remind competitors like Nokia that the slender, geometric Razr phone Motorola brought to market nearly two years ago is still going strong on multiple carriers and in multiple colors--including three different shades of pink.

Surface-conduction Emission Display

There is always a lot of banter going about as to who prefers what in terms of monitors. You have your die hard CRT guys, and a lot of us love our LCDs. Now there is a new new player in the game called SED.

Every four years, Canon travels around the world and organises three products exposition, one in Tokyo, one in New-York and the third one in Paris. One of them is currently held in la Défense, Paris and it is impossible not to see them.

*EDIT* Ian Massey sent along this link that really gets into the nitty gritty of this new technology.

Microsoft looks Ahead

For those of you who don’t follow the stock market, Microsoft took a bit bit of a tumble yesterday setting off a chain reaction in tech. Now believe me, when it comes to the market, an Alaskan could take a dump to close to a pipeline and all hell would break loose. The guys at Microsoft Monitor believe that MS is simply gearing up for a big attack and that most signs are pointing to something radical on the horizon.

Today's New York Times story, "Is Microsoft Preparing Big Attack?," by reporter John Markoff asks many of the right questions about the company's 2006 fiscal third-quarter earnings. By all indications, Microsoft expenses are going up, tempering profits even as revenue rises. The question: Why? The answer isn't simple, but I'll offer some broad-strokes perspective. I encourage Microsoft Monitor clients competing or partnering with Microsoft to contact me for a deeper view. Caveat: I'm no financial analyst and so shouldn't sift through the numbers interpretation; but I can offer useful strategic overview.