Posts belonging to Category Computers

Around the Web – 3/5/2009


  • Like robots? The Big Picture has pictures.
  • E.T. Phone Home. The Kepler Spacecraft will launch Friday in its quest for Earth-like planets in Earth-like places.
  • Read Kindle Books on Your iPhone. Can’t afford to shell out $359 for a Kindle 2? Download this free app that lets you read Kindle books on your iPhone instead.
  • How to Make Your PC Boot Faster. I know, my brother would say, “Buy a Mac.” (See PC and Mac in the Garden of Eden) The “/noguiboot” setting was a new one for me.
  • Gdrive in 2009. Google Drive, or Gdrive as it is better known, will offer online storage where Google servers have enough capacity to hold the entire contents of your hard drive. (Question: Do you want to give Google access to every file on your hard drive?)

An Inexcusable Stupidity

When I was in seminary one of my professors had the following notice on his office door.

All work must be handed in by the assigned due date. Late work will only be accepted in the case of an unavoidable catastrophe. Note: Failure to back up your hard drive is not an unavoidable catastrophe. It is an inexcusable stupidity.

Well, I am now guilty of an inexcusable stupidity. My hard drive crashed last week, and I did not have everything backed up. The computer was working fine on Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning I came downstairs to a blank screen with the following words blinking ominously in the upper left-hand corner: “Operating system not found.” I tried rebooting but got nothing. A friend who works with computers came over and tried, but the hard drive was not spinning. We couldn’t even look at the files on it. My hard drive is dead.

I thought I had a good system synchronizing files on my work and home computer over the internet, but after the crash I found some gaping holes in the system. The system worked well for word-processing files, but because photos are much larger I did not always synchronize them at the same time. Also, not all files were being kept in the folders that were synchronized. As a result we have now lost our most recent photos plus other important files. I contacted several hard drive data recovery companies, and the average quote for retrieval is about $1500. So, my poor hard drive now sits in a zip-lock bag filled with data that I cannot retrieve.

It could have been worse. Just read this guy’s story. (And he was far better at backing up than I am.) Thankfully, I still have all my document files stretching back some 20 years – sermons, Bible study notes, thesis, church documents, etc. We have all the boys’ school work. We have all of our photos up through 2006 and some scattered photos from 2007 that happened to be on CDs. But we lost a lot of important files, and it was all completely unnecessary.

Lessons learned:

  1. Things don’t last forever. Love God, love your family, enjoy your friends. (That’s the big philosophical lesson for the day.)
  2. Back up! (There’s the highly practical one.)

I am now backing up and synchronizing all data on both computers via external hard drive. Much more efficient and no more gaps. I am using Laplink Gold software for this. PC Sync is a cheaper solution, but I already had the Gold version. I also signed up with Mozy, an online backup company that gives you unlimited storage for $5 a month. (They also have a free service for backups under 2 gig.) The initial backup with them is painfully slow, but once everything is backed up, you can set and forget, and they automatically keep all your designated files backed up for you. You can read about other online storage options here.

Do you have a good backup system in place? If your hard drive crashed right now, without warning, would you lose anything of importance? Remember, failure to back up your data is not an unavoidable catastrophe. It is an inexcusable stupidity. Just ask me. I know.

Customized Sports Scores with RSS

This is a pretty neat feature if you like to keep track of your favorite teams’ sports scores.

Totally Scored makes it easy to track your favorite sports or teams using any RSS reader by subscribing to the feed. You can customize the display so that you only see the results you are interested in. Whenever a game ends, the final score will be automatically downloaded to your computer, cellphone, or other RSS reader.

The site gives you scores for both college and pro teams. You can use the RSS feature or bookmark the site with your browser and check back for scores later. I just signed up for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Florida Marlins; the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat; and the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

By the way, if you enjoy the posts here at, you can subscribe to this blog by RSS or email, too. It’s easy, and it’s free! Click here to subscribe.

Click here for more Helpful Hints.

HT: Lifehacker

PC and Mac in the Garden of Eden

Mac versus PC: In which PC and Mac get theological in their debate:

PC: PCs are way better than Macs. Remember, it was an Apple that caused all the problems to begin with back in the Garden.

Mac: True, but that’s only because Eve would never have been tempted by a PC.

(I am actually a PC guy myself, but my brother should enjoy this.)

Click here for more Random Thoughts.

Meet Chinook, the Ultimate Checkers Champion

Chinook is the world’s first unbeatable checkers program.

The scientists at the University of Alberta who developed the program report that they have rigorously proved that Chinook, in a slightly improved version, cannot ever lose. Any opponent, human or computer, no matter how skilled, can at best achieve a draw.

In essence, that reduces checkers to the level of tic-tac-toe, for which the ideal game-playing strategy has been codified into an immutable strategy. But checkers — or draughts, as it is known in Britain — is the most complex game that has been solved to date, with some 500 billion billion possible board positions, compared with the 765 possibilities in tic-tac-toe.

If you enjoy losing, you can actually play a game against Chinook here.

Why Email is Dying Out with Younger Generation

“Email is for old people” – so says the younger generation (ages 13-24). They still use email when they need to, but it is no longer their primary means of written communication. For the younger generation, email has largely been replaced by text messaging (SMS), instant messaging (IM), and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

So why is email dying out? Stephen Wellman offers the following three reasons why today’s young people prefer these other means of communication:

  1. Control. The advantage of text messaging, IM, and social network sites, compared with e-mail, is that these systems are controlled by users’ buddy lists. While spamming inside these modes of communications does happen, it’s still much harder and more expensive to spam people through IM, text, and social networks than it is through e-mail.
  2. Immediacy. IM is instant and so, too, is SMS. Social networks are immediate, too. E-mail is slower. Users have to wait for a response and e-mail communication isn’t, in most cases, a real-time dialogue.
  3. Personalization. E-mail is a cold medium. It’s not as personal as social networking, where message updates and friend connections extend users’ online personas through their communications. Cell phones are, almost by definition, highly personal devices and, likewise, younger users see text messages as more intimate.

So, what do you think? Is email really on its way out? How about some of the younger readers of this blog? Is email “just so twentieth-century?”

HT: Jim Martin, at A Place for the God Hungry