Free arsty ecards

I wanted to send a high school friend a birthday ecard. And bluemountain.com now charges $14 for a year of cards. I’m cheap, so I kept looking around. And found some really nice cards at Taschen. I of course sent him the one of the Pinup-Girl. Give ’em a shot. Looks like they’ve got about 40 cards or so.

wireless network

finally got my netgear wireless router to start working right. It was a problem with the firmware. I had installed the “latest” beta. I pulled it back one revision and whammo I’m up and cruising. Also upgraded my main compy to a wireless adapter.

I tried to get my old PCMCIA card to work with my new laptop only to find out that Ashton Digital, the maker of the NIC, has probably gone out of business. At the least they forgot to reregister their domain. So much for their 3 year warranty… And now I can’t find my install CD. Luckily I did have a USB NIC I could use. It’s only a B but that’s enough to eRas in with.

mp3 players

Chilli showed me a good deal on a half-gig SD card.  It showed up today so I had to get off my butt and find my mp3 players.  So now I’ve got a Rio Chiba with 300 MB and a Rio S10 with 512 MB.  It’s pretty slick…but I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone else.  They’re USB 1.1 and the file format is propietary so you can’t use a card reader.  They’re a product of my impulse buying and their low cost.  If I’d just bought one mini-ipod then I’d have 4x the capacity and a high transfer rate for the same money.

Anyhow, this will help me get out and do a long run tomorrow.  That can set me up for a long bike ride on Thursday(I might just commute to work again.)

managed devices in my home. tune out now if you don’t like geek cultural observations

It’s an interesting question that many Americans are bypassing.  You pretty much have to be a geek to know what’s up.

At first your computers would update themselves.  But they politely asked if it would be alright.  And if you were the 1% that had a hardware firewall you might get emailed advisories to update your firmware.  Now you can set up your computer to update it’s OS on a proactive and non-interactive basis.  Just whammo the system tells you it needs to reload and boom it’s done.  You AV software does the same thing.

But now you have more intelligent devices in your homes.  You have fridges with TV’s and internet connections.  Your HVAC cools and heats depending upon when people will actually inhabit you dwelling.  Your security system monitors the temperature in your rooms and the physical security of your home.  You may even have outdoor security cameras.

I don’t have much of this recent cool geekness but I do have a Time Warner Pioneer PVR in my home.  And it allows you to fast-forward through commercials.  I used to have a Dish Network PVR and it was much better.  Every time you hit fast-forward it went 30 seconds.  6 hits usually got me through a commercial break.  Time-Warner’s really wasn’t near as good.  You had to pay attention and sto the fast-forward when the show started back up.  But now now.  Sometime in the last week they upgraded my software.  The fast-forward functionality works much better…but it’s a less robust setup.  I have to reboot the device every once in a while.

And this gets to the point of my post.  It’s fine that providers want to upgrade their devices, I mean I do lease it from them, but shouldn’t they inform me of their intent to upgrade without notice?  Shouldn’t they give me an option to opt out?  Proactive upgrades without user acceptance are a Microsoft-type solution.  It’s semi-harmless now(what if a tornado warning was around and my damn TV wouldn’t work.)  But what happens when someone writes a virus that causes your internet-capable oven to overheat and catch on fire?  Shouldn’t you be able to tell the device to not automatically upgrade until it’s been released for a few weeks?  I don’t even know if the upgrade to my PVR was checksumed or if it just accepted it’s upgrade protocol(geek speek for I don’t know if it works right.)

Anyhow…while many of my friends in the tech field are busy writing RFCs for very specific things they are not busy writing documents that explain what customers deserve.  I know of no documentation that explains how software should be designed in order to embrace life and minimize it’s chance of harming anyone.  These are the building blocks of the Artificial Intelligence that is being defined daily and yet no one has stepped up to the plate and stated:  This is what is right for the world, this is what intelligence is, computers should be allowed to do this, computer vendors should be allowed to do that, government agencies should be allowed to monitor that.  It’s completely irresponsible and I suppose I should be busy writing the RFC that I’m so upset that it doesn’t exist…but at the moment I’m just angry and on vacation.

Let me note one small thing in passing.  The upgrade to my Time Warner PVR?  It’s an improvement.  But it doesn’t mean that I approve of the way that it occurred.  If you wear glasses today and the government fixed your eyes overnight(with a risk of making you blind) would you feel better in the morning?  Or would you feel violated that someone has changed your world or body without your acknowledgment?