Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Best Hard Drives

There are many websites out there that evaluate the merits of the different manufacturer's hard drives. One of my recent complaints is that the quality of drives has suffered when the speed and capacity increased.

These drives generate a lot of heat, but I've already talked about that at length.

Now Seagate is upping its drive warranties on certain drives to 5 years.

Great. Glad to see it. It's about time. I've purchased many Maxtor's, Western Digital's, and Seagate drives, and I haven't been happy with their reliability. Many client systems suffer failures just days or weeks after the 1-year warranty expire.

Which brings me to an interesting point in this article:

Disk drive quality is already fairly high. IDC's Reinsel said annual return rates are less than 1 percent for the industry.

Ha! Sure. Reduce the warranty from 3 years to 1 year so you get less returns, and say that the drives are more reliable. What a joke.

Oh well, hope to see the other manufacturers follow suit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Get Rid of Norton!

Jack himself doesn't care for Norton products. In his opinion, they are bloated programs that interfere with normal system operation and don't do a very good job. In fact, it's been my experience that Norton Anti-Virus misses a lot of Viruses out there. Of course, YMMV, and Norton might work just fine for you. If so, stop here and don't read any further.

Jack makes good money fixing computers simply by uninstalling Norton Internet Security 200x, and installing Command AntiVirus or AVG and Tiny Firewall or Zone Alarm. NIS 2004 causes many problems, and is a 198MB installation! I have NO idea why it needs to be so large.

Jack's client supplied PowerBook G4 came with Norton AntiVirus on it. As it is now officially mine (It's not 'borrrowed' anymore), I wanted to uninstall NAV.

You need the original disk.

Don't have it, and the client couldn't find it.

As a public services announcement, I give you Mac OS X users the link to the Symantec Uninstaller, which removes any Symantec product from OS X, and is compatible with 10.3 Panther.

You can find it with Google, but it wasn't on the first few pages if you searched for 'Uninstall Norton AntiVirus OS X'.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Copy Protection Grrrrr...

Jack's kids are huge Harry Potter fans. The youngest's birthday is coming up very soon, and as she just spent the week at Grandma's and Grandpa's, they gave her some money to buy her own birthday present.

I loved getting money as a kid, meant I was able to get what I wanted, instead of 'something close'.

Jack takes the kids to a local computer store to pickup a RAID controller for a client installation, and while we're there, they see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for both the PC and the Gamecube. We have 10 PCs and 1 Gamecube - yes, I know, I'm hopeless.

The Gamecube version is $40, and the PC is $30. The youngest just happens to have exactly $30, and decides she wants the game. So we buy the PC version.

I put the game CD into my computer and start the installation, which goes just fine. After the game installs, it tries to start and stops with the error, "CD ROM not found. CD/DVD emulationb detected, please disable CD/DVD emulation and try again."

OK - The CD is in the tray, don't know why it can't find it. However, I do use an old version of CloneCD that supports 'Virtual Clonedrives'. Why? Because I have kids. Kids are very rough on CD media. This way I can image the disk to the hard disk, and the kids know how to mount the images.

No problem, I disable CloneCD and try again.

Same error.

Over at Foxnews, they have the Strakalogue, which chronicles things that make you go Grrr... They also have some interesting definitions of people like 'Oblivions', 'Obliviots', and 'ImporTants'.

I know its the CD protection on the disk that is causing this error, and that makes me go Grrr. I'm using their disk in my computer, I didn't download it from some warez website. I bought it with cold hard cash. Actually, my little one did.

Back to the computer store for another copy in-case this one is bad. With the advanced copy protections using things like digital signatures, bad sectors, and the like, it would be easy to get bad copies. I exchange it and head back home.

Same error after uninstall-reinstall. I even uninstalled and cleaned CloneCD from the computer just in case. No help.

I head down to my workshop, haul out one of my test computers, do a complete install of Windows XP only with all the patches. Install the game, and yes, it works, after a lot of thrashing about.

Hmmmm. So I head over to some of the areas on the web that help you make backup copies of software. I know that most of these sites are so you can get games for free, but I'm just looking to get my $30 out of what I bought. I use a program that analyses the disc, and tells me that it is using Safedisc v3.20.20 - Which uses a bunch of different methods to protect the disc.

I have no problem with that at all, until it comes to the point that I can't play a game I paid for on a computer that has nothing wrong with it.

I did find a solution to the problem at one of those sites. I'm not going to tell you where I found it or what it was, because I don't want to help people steal the games, but its safe to say its not hard to find on your own.

I certainly wouldn't blame anyone for taking the same steps I did to get something I paid for working. It is sad that I had to go that route at all.

UPDATE: Apparently my blog is high on the Google search list results for this same problem. I have received many e-mails from people with the same problem. Here's a Google Search you can try to get you what you need.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Get 1 GB of E-mail NOW

Jack likes options. OK - As an active Blogger, I could get a Gmail account. But it hasn't intrigued me. In fact, it has seemed like a lemmings-over-the-cliff fad that you just have to get to be 'in' on-line.
As if that's something to aspire to.
Anyway, I was checking around, and got send over to Spymac - 1 GB of E-mail, along with 100MB for storage space (like uploading graphics). Though I've just noticed that the free blogger now allows uploading of graphics. Hmmm....

Anyway it looks neat, and yes while the name is a little scary, I think its a good alternative. OK - It's Mac-centric, but does it really matter? It's a new service, so there are a few bugs. To activate your storage, you have to first go create your blog. I did that and pointed my blog to here.

Give it a try.


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Knoppix, the Computer User's Friend

Jack's here, bored, waiting for some HUGE mailboxes on some Microsoft Exchange servers to move from one location in Kansas to here in Ohio. It's all coming across a T1 line. I need to have multiple Remote Desktop windows open to make sure things are going smoothly, and unfortunately, Remote Desktop Connection for the Mac only allows one RDC window to be open at a time. No matter, I have my trusty Netlux Notebook Computer I've mentioned before.

That was until the dreaded hard drive failure I've been talking about happened to me.

So earlier today I was wondering how I'd get the job done without going crazy logging in and out. Standing in front of a 19" rack in the server room for hours wasn't my idea of fun.

So what to do? Easy. Hard Drive failure won't stop Jack. I just whip out my trusty Knoppix 3.4 CD-ROM, boot it up on the Netlux, and instant Linux operating system complete with X-Windows, sound, network, and all the goodies you need. In fact I am listening to a Shoutcast stream on Port 80 (Firewalls are annoying, don'tcha know), typing this post, and have 3 RDC screens open (one to home for MSN Messenger, see previous content between parenthesis).

Jack uses Knoppix for many of his Computer Forensics' applications. You can boot into console mode, skipping the pretty X-Windows, which sometimes just gets in the way, and use dd, dd_rescue, md5sum, and other tools that are already compressed and waiting on the Knoppix disk. Amazing that you can get 2 GB of data onto a little 700MB disk, and have it all work.

Cheers to Knoppix!

UPDATE: You can also get Knoppix info at www.knoppix.net.