Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Computer Collectors and Collecting

I have been interested in and collected Computer Collectables for most of my life, storage costs and concerns along with moving costs has cost me much of my collection over the years and I am not alone.

I regularly hear sad stories of fellow collectors passing on and their collections were sold as scrap or worse yet, priceless collectables dumpstered along with the rest of the junk. In some cases the collections are broken up and sold on eBay, often badly listed or listed as a generic unknown.

What follows is a string of conciseness on the subject of Collectors and their collections, for those interested I have started a separate Blog on this subject from the viewpoint of a publisher and developer .

While most collectors enjoy showing off and talking about their collections, few have the desire or resources to build and maintain a website for their collections. Those of us that do have a strong desire to share online, have already started a webpage or three :)

There are many that have small collections of but are happy to contribute pictures and stories as long as they do not have to maintain anything themselves.

There are some young and energetic people that want to contribute but know not how.

more thoughts on this later .....

Monday, March 12, 2007

What time is it .... here and now

Who the Phd who came up with the idea to change Daylight Savings Time (DST) again!

Ok, I understand the idea is to move 1 hour of daylight from the morning hours where the children do not need it, to the evening, where it can be better utilized in an energy efficient manner for the betterment of mankind...... Rrrrrright ?

When I first heard of this idea my first question was, what about all the computers and timers that are DST aware? The official party line has been, we had so little real problems with Y2K, because of the upgrades and upgrades made then, changing the rules will somehow be accounted for. Ok.... if You say so ......

Let me take a moment to look back to Jan 1, in 2000, I along with many other Technologists were on call New Years Eve 1999 to monitor the great Y2K switch over. Here in my town, the Emergency Management Team had a full crew in the bunkers prepared and drilling for the possible end of the world. I had set up an automated remote monitoring system that pinged several critical points on the internet recording any disruptions or changes in timing should they occur, and watched and waited. The only excitement in my house was when I saw IBM going down unexpectedly at midnight. While, expected by everyone directly connected to IBM or its customers or anyone for that matter who cared to check their scheduled maintenance announcements. It was a shock to me, it sure appeared to be a serious network crash, and it did coming back on line immediately.

So, when this idea of extending DST came up, I was not surprised to see most people have assumed it would not be a problem. On the other hand I took a wait and see attitude.

Well the time has come and gone. I was pleased to see the vast majority of my technological tools and toys handled the switch over properly, but alas several did not, as too was expected.

About 50% of my Microsoft based computers updated to DST properly on Sunday night.
While the NT and 2003 servers updates properly, the Win2000 servers required DST to be turned off and time to be changed by hand. I fully expect to have to fix it again in November. In one case I was asked to open a hole in a corporate firewall so that an old Unix box that has been running in total isolation since it was lasted updated in 1999 for Y2K could be connected to the internet and get its clock fixed. There were ans still are good reasons to put the system back into isolation again.

The only DST based problem to blind side me, occurred with my DirectTV HD DVR. It should have not been a surprise. This TiVo based system runs a flavor of Linux and I added a second hard drive shortly after I got it. I should not have been surprised the automatic update from DirectTV did not take. Oops my bad :-)

I understand the good people of the European Union have taken a wait and see approach to this problem and will not begin, their experiment in time, until 1am on the last Sunday in March.

I happened across this link on WebExhibits about daylight savings plan Incidents and Anecdotes which covers the subject well.

Feel free to add DST related stories and comments .....

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Total Lunar Eclipses - March 3 2007

March 3 2007, there was a total Lunar Eclipse viewable to most of the world. Here in central Ohio, totality occurred at Moonrise / Sunset about 6:16p local time. We expected to experience totality about 6 degrees just a little above the horizon followed by the return of the sun as the moon made its climb in the eastern sky. On the other hand, the good people of China on the opposite side of the world witnessed the first half of the eclipse at sunrise with the moon setting in the West. On August 28 2007 we will have that opposite situation during a second total lunar eclipse of the year. The eclipse in August will occur at Sunrise / Moonset and will be viewed in the western sky here in Central Ohio, and at sunset over in China. What made this eclipse a bit more interesting here was the fact that here in the Midwest USA we were socked in by clouds and light snow flurries. Any chance of getting a picture of it was slim to none, unless there was a miraculous momentary break in the overcast.

Long before we had any idea what the weather was going to be like for this event, Bill Kramer, the famed eclipse-chaser and I had made plans to photograph this eclipse. I had wanted to photograph it sitting nicely in the sky over a covered bridge in the area in the foreground. Alas, it did not look like the weather was going to cooperate with either of our plans. As sunset drew near, communications were established as we both watched the satellite images and weather radar looking for any hopeful indication, that there was a chance of a small hole between the two converging fronts moving through the area. Much to the surprise of our wives we decided to make a last minute dash.

At this point, I should note that MrBill normally does not chase Lunar eclipses. It is the Solar ones he travels around the world to photograph. But if we could by any chance appease the weather gods into providing us but a brief glimpse to capture. It was most likely going to be the only picture taken in Ohio or most likely the only one taken in the Midwest. So off we went, heading Southeast out of Columbus down State Route 23, and sure enough we found a small break in the two cloud layers. At a public rest area halfway between Columbus and Chillicothe we captured a few pictures. The cold wind, combined with the vibration of the trucks going by on teh highway did not help MrBills long lensed camera setup. I, on the other hand, captured two usable shots taken at full auto between wind gusts on my old Minolta Dimage 7hi. The high point of the event was when a young man pulled up and asked us what the cameras were for and we both pointed to the sky. We got a "Wow" as he pulled off to the other side of the rest area, where we noticed several others were standing in the lights of the service building pointing at the sky and then back at us, off away from the lights. Considering the news stories about rest area sexploits, I am not surprised that our presence at a rest stop with cameras on tripods with long lenses was not disturbing to some when we arrived and began setting up. Shortly after dropping me back off at my house, MrBill found himself blocked in by police and fire trucks. A walk around the block revealed; yet one more photo-op for the night ....

Who can resist a good car crash :-)
No one was seriously injured and it should be noted the two cars parked inside will need body work. It looked like the Mustang pulled out in front of the Camaro and got it's nose cut off. The then out of control red Camaro tried to push two cars out the back side of the garage. Sorry that picture did not come out, they had turned off the emergency lights by the time I got over to that side.

"The same old New AT&T, little has changed" followup

This is a follow up to "The same old New AT&T, little has changed" muttering I posted here in early February, exactly a lunar cycle ago. Since my last muttering on this subject, I reluctantly paid the AT&T - Cingular overcharges, but I am not quite willing put this incident to rest yet. It should be noted that the new statement from AT&T did not reflect any credits, not even the $50 disgruntled customer credit that had been offered.

On the way home the other day, I went by the Cingular shop where this all began, only to find it is now a T-Mobile shop. I stopped in to find the same owner operator, and asked him what happened to Cingular. He told me that when AT&T took over he dropped them like a rock. When I pushed him for a reason, he would only say that he did not agree with the New AT&T quota system that expected him to push extra services and packages that the customer often did not need or want. He refused to treat his customers that way. When I dropped the line "We don't card, we don't have to care, we are the phone company", he chuckled and said exactly.

Last night on the TV news I saw a piece about AT&T raising the rates on directory assistance to $1.75 per number. If you call 411 (directory assistance) and ask about more than one number, then each number will be charged separately. So the old rule of a 3 number limit per call seems to have been raised, now asking about 4 numbers will now cost you $7 on your phone bill for the single 411 call.