Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Comcast matches Verizon Fios speeds | CNET

I get allot of my tech news from CNET News, but I think their headlines are sometime misleading. Today they reported Comcast matches Verizon Fios speeds, implying that Comcast is reacting to Verizon. Of course the Verizon spokesperson chotelled such in the article.

For those of use that have worked in telecom, we know that this is bunk. Cable so far exceeds any offer a wire line carrier can give you that there is no rational comparison. See, to most people, the networks of the world are just a big nebulous cloud in the middle of a wiring diagram. As for me, I helped build the cloud.

Here's the deal: Phone companies (like Verizon) use a star topology. They run wires from the CO (central office) to your home. This was an architecture that Bell designed for Washington, DC, in the 1880's. Cable companies run trunk lines, and peel off a network segment to your home. This is the same construction we see in an ethernet architecture. Now which would you rather have-- 1880's wire line service or ethernet?

Still not convinced? If a cable trunk line fails, thousands of customers loose service. If the phone company looses a DSL repeater in the CO, a dozen customers loose service. Needless to say, the cable companies are much more responsive.

Then there is basic physics. Most cable companies actually have fiber trunk lines. Most phone companies still have wire trunk lines. Until they migrate to fiber, they'll never match what Comcast offers.

The bad thing about this story is they are only upgrading service in four cities. The good news is-- I live in one of the four! Woo Woo Woo. More bandwidth! Yeah!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fedora Core 5 Install Failures

I made several attempts to install FC5 on my main linux system, with no luck. I kept getting the same error:
  BUG: spinlock bad magic on CPU#0, anaconda/466 (Not tainted)
  lock: c040d32c, .magic: 00000000, .owner: /-1, .owner_cpu:0

The machine (Gateway E3200, PIII 550mhz) was running FC4, so I was surprised it wouldn't run FC5. I've had problems with memory on this machine before, so I swapped chips, swapped the order of the chips, tried the chips one at a time, but still no go. Another factor is the fact that this one is a dual head system, so I pulled the second video card. Even the old standby failed:
  linux text
  linux noprobe

All generated the same error. I finally found a messages where someone was having trouble with FC5 under VMware. Their solution was to disable acpi and usb at install time:
  linux acpi=off nousb
I figured what the heck... And it worked! Turns out it was the acpi=off option that made it work. That makes sense, as FC4 always tossed up an error about ACPI: BIOS age (1999) fails cutoff date (2001).

So.. I guess I can put off buying another computer until spring 2007. Maybe Vista will be ready by then.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

BBC NEWS | Americas | Pentagon plans cyber-insect army

Normally I wouldn't beleive something like this, but there a three reasons why I do. There are reports of the Pentagon plans cyber-insect army. The basic plan is to insert microchips into caterpillar cacoons. When the caterpillar morphs into a butterfly, it can be controlled by soldiers, like a remote control airplane.

Pretty strange, huh? Well, I believe it for three reasons:
1. I trust the BBC. They haven't succumb to the liberal bias of the American media, and haven't been seduced by the New World Order.
2. I believe everything I read on the Internet. Why would the it lie to me?
3. I once met a guy that told me the CIA had put a microchip in his brain and could read his thoughts.

Isn't technology great!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dilbert Ultimate House

I've gotta say, the Dilbert Ultimate House has it all. It's almost like it was designed for me! Not that I'm a nerd like Dilbert, or any thing...

I Fixed Froogle

Last year, I liked Froogle. Starting around January, Froogle broke, rendering it pretty musc useless to anyone that wanted to price comparison shopping. Considering this was the site purpose, the introduction of this new feature was not a wise choice.

The problem was Froogle's decision to list eBay auctions. Thousands of "eBay merchants" have embraced the policy of listing an item with a $25.00 retail value for a price of $.01 (one cent). This would be a good deal, except the shipping and handeling is $28.00! It's just a scam to beat the search engines.

This means that any attempt to search for something by price on Froogle results in 50 hits on eBay. Here are results if you search by price:
    usb bluetooth adapter
    First 199 hits are eBay, most under $1.00
Here's how to prevent this from happening:
    usb bluetooth adapter -ebay
    First hit is uBid for $6.00

Monday, March 06, 2006 - CEV vs. Apollo - Mar 3, 2006

This a great recap of NASA's new moon initative built around the CEV spacecraft. I especially like point number four, where they say "...enabling all four astronauts to descend to the moon's surface while their spaceship orbits in autopilot mode." Oh, good idea. What if they lock the keys in the mother ship and can't get back in? Leave somebody to baby sit the orbiter! It didn't hurt Collins-- it won't hurt future generations of astronauts. As a matter of fact, I'll volunteer.

I can see it now:

Doug Bunger: Space Valet!