Friday, July 27, 2007

Blowing in the dust

If you're like me you have plenty of very old computers coming across your work bench. I usually have a can of compressed air to clean off all the dust. Recently, I've come across information which may make my clean tendencies to be downright dangerous.

While I knew that using compressed air on a hot computer mother board was a bad idea because the extreme cold of the propellant could potentially crack the board, I had no thought of the possibility for static to be released. There is of course the concern of blowing dust deeper into the equipment and thus ruin an otherwise working computer.

Here's what I'm doing: I use a vacuum cleaner on keyboards, fan vents and drive bays. I used the compressed air on very dirty mother boards -- which have completely cooled down.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Drop of a file

DropBoks offers the simplest interface I've seen for uploading a file that you or others can access at a later time. The site is both free and use encryption to secure the contents. You may send up to a 50 meg file.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Remote control and beyond

Controlling a remote computer can be useful for troubleshooting or for demonstration purposes. There are many expensive ways to do this and there are few free systems, such as VNC.

I've always liked VNC for remote control but it was not easy to use, especially when used with SSH encryption. eliminates all that complexity and adds the additional service of allowing multiple units behind a firewall to communicate. This is not an easy thing because home users have rotating IP addresses. ShowMyPC can also be used for broadcasting a desktop for demonstration purposes. This often requires a lot of money. The expensive alternatives include neat features, such as voice, but it's been my experience that these advanced features don't always work well on less than great bandwidth.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Getting the picture in math and science

Teaching math and science is not always easy to visualize. Equations are often nothing more than something to be memorized for the next test and then promptly forgotten. The University of Colorado has a fantastic site that models and demonstrates mathematical equations and many scientific concepts -- even Schrodinger's quantum wave model. Wonder how is cat is doing...


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Making a child-friendly PC

SendMeOn has a good article on how to create a child-friendly computer. The purpose of the article is to get people to donate their old computers or work on other people's old computers to make them available for children. That goal is something that a school computer club might find interesting or you could use the information for parents who ask what they can do to keep their children safe or what to do with an old computer they have laying around home.


Monday, July 02, 2007

What does Microsoft know about you?

The answer is quite a lot. This article gives the most complete list I've seen of what types of information Microsoft's Vista operating system collects and then sends to Microsoft. XP also collects information but not on this scale. Microsoft would certainly point out that this information goes into making their products better and their service to you more effective. That may not mean much to you if the government decides to collect these records -- as they have with searches on the major search sites -- or the RIAA figures out how to get them.