Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Flashing Question Mark

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  • Paul Campbell,

    I used to design Mac stuff and went to MacWorld SF for years - even for years after I moved on - but I never went to keynote, to my Mac geek friends it was always considered something for the marketting guys and the embarrassing fan-boi contingent (and journos too)

    I bought a G1 (the first of the google phones) for a project I'm working on - I like it, probably the best phone I've owned - I'm not quite sure what "googlish" means - it's missing some of the whizbang impact of the iphone, that may just be because it's second (and that Apple's patented some of the UI stuff).

    But I bought it to program - it's wonderfully easy, and more importantly no need to go through Apple to sell stuff (I need to give it away directly to my customers) - everything's open - source is available, linux under the hood, lots of geek goodness.

    The main reason why I'm playing with this platform though is that I want cheap phones that I can program (for my current project), but I'm not in the phone biz, and don't want to be - instead I want dozens of cheap phones competing on price all using the same software platform - $100 gPhones - I don't see Apple reaching that price point, they're too much in love with their gross margin

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Sorry for the thread hijack - BUT it is christmas... And hopefully topically for the PA crew.

    OK so I have got my thirteen year old neice a laptop for her present this year (I made the fatal mistake of asking two now self-aware pre-teens what they wanted rather than just giving them something) and now her mother and uncle are most concerned on how to keep an eye on the wholesomeness or otherwise of her internet usage.

    I don't want to put an intrusive net blocker on her computer, or spy via a key stroke logger or somesuch. She is to clever anyway for me to be sure she doesn't know how to find and disable such applications - I know I would have at her age.

    So I am thinking that I will have to completely re-jig the way the broadband works at her house, rather than simply sharing the ADSL modem via a wireless router I am glumly resigned to spending a day or two converting an old machine I have here at home to act as a firewall, installing a wireless card and sharings its internet connection.

    Anyone got a more elegant solution than that? Know any decent software that might allow her to browse on a laptop without heaps of false positive stuff happening?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    You would expect you'd have to do something bad to unleash the Flashing Question Mark

    Really?

    Heck, even my new FreeVo crashed yesterday. And I've only had it a day. The old Freeview box you could just turn off then on again from the remote to fix it, but not the new Zinwell - it needed the whole unplug from the wall thing.

    Is the command to change the channel that taxing?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Newsprint,

    It was a power surge that introduced me to the question mark of death

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Is a flashing question mark the user friendly Mac equivalent a Blue Screen Of Death? Or of the noted Yugoslavian, Kernel Panic?

    In terms of trying to firewall the kid from the world, if she's smart enough, she'll get round anything you do. (Like, you'll build this monster firewall and she'll just use the neighbours wireless). Even if she isn't the next Kevin Mitnick, she can just go to an Internet cafe after school for $3 an hour.

    Most kids have a naturally well developed sense of ickiness anyway and are fully aware of the presence of wierdos. Worst case, she'll become an emo.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The old Freeview box you could just turn off then on again from the remote to fix it, but not the new Zinwell - it needed the whole unplug from the wall thing.

    Unplugging Macs from the wall is a good way to reset any latent hardware issues. Several times I've had to unplug my work workstation, because the damned thing has refused to start. Removing all power for 10-15 minutes is a sure-fire way of establishing if your Mac is simply being a temperamental over-large paperweight or if it's actually in need of professional assistance.

    As far as your HDD goes, Russell, I'd still take it in to be checked unless this permissions thing is some kind of known Mac fubar'd-ness. When disks misbehave it's frequently a sign of impending death, and in your position I'd much prefer to have a tech run a diagnostic over it and pronounce it cured (or not) than to have it die catastrophically at an unexpected moment.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Is a flashing question mark the user friendly Mac equivalent a Blue Screen Of Death? Or of the noted Yugoslavian, Kernel Panic?

    It comes up when your Mac can't find a system to boot with.

    Most kids have a naturally well developed sense of ickiness anyway and are fully aware of the presence of wierdos. Worst case, she'll become an emo.

    Agreed. And the likely perils aren't amenable to a technical solution anyway. Are you gonna block her out of Bebo?

    I think talking to her (and Mum and Dad) about being risk-aware, stuff not to do, etc, is going to be more effective than any kind of net-nanny software. They can always insist that the laptop lives in the family room, not her bedroom if they want to keep an eye on things.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    I've used Time Machine to get my system up and running again (I backup at least once a day because I live in fear of losing my PhD thesis) and it's great.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Is a flashing question mark the user friendly Mac equivalent a Blue Screen Of Death? Or of the noted Yugoslavian, Kernel Panic?

    No, the Mac version of the BSOD is the MLSOD, or Multi-Lingual Screen of Death. Which is simply your computer telling you, in about a dozen languages, that it's had a whoopsie and needs to be kicked.
    I've not encountered this flashing question mark, despite having witnessed both RAM failure and HDD failure in my 24" iMac. So I'm not sure what its PC analogue is. At a guess it's close to a drop-to-debug panic.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just added this to the main post:

    The Creative Freedom Foundation website was launched today by a group of artists to advocate a more reasonable view of copyright -- and, in the first instance, to kick off a "Not in My Name" campaign against Section 92 of the copyright amendment bill. The whole site is published under a New Zealand Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike licence. Go look.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Russell: Single parent family, I am shocked at your un-politically correct assumption of nuclear family-hood! I think I shall write to Santa and dob you in.

    I agree with you all... Since my alternate plan of locking her in a tower until she is thirty has been ruled out as possibly an over-reaction and you can't protect them forever, I suppose on going worry and fretting is about we can do.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Not a single mention of how sad you are to not be in Wellington for tonight Russell? *sobs*

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    Yeah, sorry, but fourthed. We wondered about trying to use some software system to keep the kids safe on the internet but straight old parental advice is the best way. They'll either try it or they won't, just like the dreaded drugs and alcohol.

    Excuse nosiness Russell but how much for Kermadec? I would always rather pay more for something really good than a medium amount for a medium meal.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Russell: Single parent family, I am shocked at your un-politically correct assumption of nuclear family-hood! I think I shall write to Santa and dob you in.

    Whoops. I read "mother and uncle" as "mother and father" ...

    I agree with you all... Since my alternate plan of locking her in a tower until she is thirty has been ruled out as possibly an over-reaction and you can't protect them forever, I suppose on going worry and fretting is about we can do.

    Like I said, I think the risk for teenage girls, such as they are, are more social risks: bullying, or going on to meet someone she shouldn't in real life. Kids should be given some grounding in social media at school -- but, of course, Bebo and MySpace are usually firewalled at the school gate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Excuse nosiness Russell but how much for Kermadec? I would always rather pay more for something really good than a medium amount for a medium meal.

    The menu's here (although it's not quite the same as the one on our table):

    http://www.kermadec.co.nz/Menus/index.php

    Mains $40 or under, entrees around $20. Better than most places at that price, IMO. The wine list is choice (I was impressed to see several cellared options for the De Bortoli Noble One, my favourite dessert wine) but steep.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Not a single mention of how sad you are to not be in Wellington for tonight Russell? *sobs*

    Without a word of a lie, I was thinking about you guys just now. Have a glamorous and boisterous TAWAs, you all ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Tom, I think the obvious thing to do would be to go onto Bebo, pose as a teenage boy, and try and pick up your niece to see if she's got enough sense to tell you to get lost...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Which is simply your computer telling you, in about a dozen languages, that it's had a whoopsie and needs to be kicked.

    Hey, it's not OK to kick your computer just because you're having a bad day. (Sorry, Russell, but I couldn't resist.) Anyway, I watch television --

    The Creative Freedom Foundation website was launched today by a group of artists to advocate a more reasonable view of copyright -

    Wow, and doesn't it say something rather unflattering that it's the arty-farties asserting those tiresome distinctions between being accused of an offence and being convicted of one.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Joanna - ewww and ewww and more ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!


    Never engage with tweeny girls.

    I was foolish enough to take her at her word when her and three of her girlfriends were camping out in a tent at the back of the farm telling horror stories in the dark all Blair witch stylez and she said someone should sneak up up and frighten them...

    My hearing is never going to fully recover from the shrieking that ensued when I jumped on their tent doing my Sasquatch impression.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Tom, I think the obvious thing to do would be to go onto Bebo, pose as a teenage boy, and try and pick up your niece to see if she's got enough sense to tell you to get lost...

    Woo - a strategy not without some risk... years ago when I worked for Dept Internal Affairs, I knew a guy whose job it was to visit video stores & check that the correct ratings were displayed, that the videos were legit & that they been rated by the censors at all. This was the ealy 90s.

    By the end of the decade, this guy & his colleaguies were pretty much fulltime on the net posing as children. He's still doing it but there's a slightly dead look in his eyes now.

    They don't get in on the arrests, but they take it far enough with predators to arrange meetings in hotels & motels and the like... (a man in blue attends in his stead).

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The Creative Freedom Foundation website was launched today by a group of artists to advocate a more reasonable view of copyright -- and, in the first instance, to kick off a "Not in My Name" campaign against Section 92 of the copyright amendment bill.

    Paging Simon Griggs. Would Simon Griggs please report to this campaign immediately, to put his money where his mouth is.
    Unless, of course, he actually does agree with the tactics of big media.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    Bad plan Joanna. You're lying to your kids either way and that won't work as long-term strategy. That aside, could be great fun to get back at the little b*stards with some psychological torture of your own.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Never engage with tweeny girls.

    Perhaps I'm missing out on the all the binge-drinking and purging, whorish Beebo orgies-slah-suicide cults, but the "tweeny girls" I know are frighteningly sensible. I think all you can do is have faith that they're not stupid, but they will inevitable do dumb shit that makes your flesh crawl. What can you do other than say "I'll always love you, but I reserve the right to be very pissed when you're a dumb-arse"?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Paging Simon Griggs. Would Simon Griggs please report to this campaign immediately, to put his money where his mouth is ...

    When you're calling someone out, it helps if you spell their name right ...

    Besides, it's still early in Bali ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    And meanwhile, I still don't know whether Time Machine really works …

    It's waiting for Hadrons to collide.

    I've used Time Machine to get my system up and running again (I backup at least once a day because I live in fear of losing my PhD thesis) and it's great.

    You back up your whole system just for the thesis?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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