Archive for the ‘Computers’ Tag

It’s Not Just Second Life That Crashes — Updated

computer crash

Every time Second Life has a crash, or burps or hiccups, or just simply is scheduled for a restart, there is a vocal group that starts howling to the moon, complaining about how Linden Lab should get its act together and get these problems fixed.  After all, something should never be permitted to interrupt their work and exploration, and this is a sheer piece of arrant effrontery, etc. ad inf., ad naus.  What they’re really complaining about, of course, is that their convenience and enjoyment is being interrupted.

We’re talking about computers, of course:  complex boxes of intricate components and traceries, running on electricity and insanely baroque slabs of software.  And not just one computer, remember; Second Life — in fact, most large Internet-based services — are run on thousands of computers, all laboring to cope with the simultaneous demands of dozens to hundreds of individual clients every minute.  Is there any wonder why sometimes things seem to chug, and why these machines run hot, and sometimes need a restart, or that they can melt down and die?  The only system guaranteed to run perfectly every time is the one created by someone farther up the technological hierarchy than we can reach, outside of prayer.

Why do I waste bytes taking on this old bugaboo?  Because I’m experiencing it on a site that’s only distantly related to Second Life.  I do most of my photo exhibiting on Koinup instead of Flickr these days, because I get more of a response on the Italian-based service.  Unfortunately, Koinup seems to have been down (at least to me) for something like 24 hours now.  (If anyone else is having the same problem, please let me know.)  It frustrates me; but is there any reason to bitch about it?  Not really, because I use this as a free service (sound familiar, most Second Lifers?), and they have their problems like any other computer service.  Hopefully they’ll get things fixed up very soon; until then, I need to hang on to my patience and wait.

It may not even be Koinup with the problem.  Every browser I’ve tried so far says some variation on “the connection was reset” or “the address can’t be found.”  Can Koinup’s address have become lost in the DNS server’s database?  Curious….

UPDATE:  June 7

I still don’t know what was going on, but I’m glad to report that Koinup is back and functioning.  I may get a message from someone about it; if so, I’ll append a supplemental to this.

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Bye, Steve

From the Apple front page, 10/5/2011

Apple has announced that Steve Jobs, their former CEO and the man who took Steve Wozniak’s hobbyist idea and helped usher in the era of the home computer, has died from his pancreatic cancer.  He was 56 years old.

I like to think that Radio Shack had something to do with the age of the hobbyist computer; the TRS-80 Model I was the one that I saw the most of, and its programs were pretty damned good.  But Steve was the friend of the Woz, was pulled by Wozniak to attend meetings of the old Homebrew Computer Club in the San Francisco Bay area, and saw the potential for a handful of chips that could do wild things.  He found the venture capital, got an actual case designed for the thing, and had the vision to push Apple Computer to its first great era. Long after Radio Shack had left the computer field, Apple carried on, and does to this day.

The company and he had friction at times, such as when he came up with the idea for the Apple Lisa — an edgewise predecessor to the Macintosh, though Wikipedia says it is really not that direct.  Still, it must be said by all that Apple always ran best with Jobs at the helm.  He had the ability to come up with ideas that would sell; sometimes it might take a chunk of work to get there, but forth from Apple during his time poured the Macintosh and the i-line of products, and in poured the money as a result.  And, when nothing else seemed to work, Jobs could always turn on the famous Reality Distortion Field, and either convince or bamboozle all around him into belief and herculean feats of effort to make that idea work.

Not confining himself to computers, he entered the graphics and entertainment field, buying up the company that would eventually become Pixar Animation Studios and, essentially, saved the bacon of Walt Disney Animation with Toy Story, A Bug’s Life et al.  At his death, according to Wikipedia, Jobs held a seat on the Disney board and 7% of Disney stock, stemming from Pixar’s eventual sale to Disney.

Some of his business skills and interpersonal methods can be criticized, but nobody can deny his vision.  He will be missed.

“…and thereby hangs a tale” — My SL Box was Infected

Download 16 tons
‘n whaddya get?
Some Trojans, worms, virii
And ways out of debt

“Download Sixteen Tons,” filk based on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s song

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‘…And thereby hangs a tale.’

Shakespeare, As You Like It:  II,7

The desktop is back from purgatory — also known as the repair shop.  Sadly, it is without that 1-terabyte drive I was thinking of getting.  Not that I’ve stopped thinking and planning on it; it simply turns out I don’t need it right now.

You see, it wasn’t a hard drive problem.  I was actually infected with a virus, which was murdering Windows for me.

In fact, I had seven viruses.  Not to mention a mess of malware, for which I take responsibility for not scanning for a year.  But I was running Symantec’s Norton Internet Security fairly regularly on this machine, and it never said I had anything worse than a tracking cookie.

Peter Norton’s software used to be some of the best in the industry; his Norton Utilities may still be good (under a different brand name now).  But, if he knows the level to which Symantec has taken his quality and good name on what is now the up-front products of the company he sold to them, he is probably cursing.  And I wouldn’t blame him; a good true-hacker always takes pride in his work, but a corporation doesn’t care, apparently, as long as they get their dollars.  This program was written by a company.

I’d encourage readers to do these things:

  1. Scan your computers regularly, on a bi-weekly basis at least.  You can often set timers to run the program at night, while you’re sleeping, in Windows accessories if nothing else, as I recall.  (I’m unsure about OS X [as I don’t use a Macintosh] or the various mutants of Linux.)  And scan all your hard drives, not just the system drive!  It takes a while, especially if the drives contain more data than a few dozen gigabytes, but that’s what sleep time is for (grin).
  2. Also scan regularly for malware.  I’m unsure what’s the best product for this; there are quite a few out there.  I’ve used Lavasoft’s AdAware in the past, and been generally satisfied with it, but any program will let some intruders through.  Any road, there are plenty of freeware or low-cost alternatives available.  (My computer store installed Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware.)  Purging malware from your system can improve performance tremendously.  (Who knows but that may be part of what’s crufting up Second Life for many of us.)
  3. Avoid Symantec’s products like they were carriers of the plague!  I like Peter Norton, but I distrust the company he sold to.  My computer store recommended AVG Antivirus Free, which was installed on the machine — and Norton uninstalled — when I picked it up from the shop yesterday.  I’d encourage you to talk to your local independent computer store — where I bought this box a year or so ago, hand-rolled — and heed their advice.  My apologies to the Geek Squad, but I wouldn’t be sure that you’re not shilling for Best Buy’s chosen products in this case.  An independent often has no ax to grind other than steering his/her customers away from the bad stuff, and onto the good stuff.  My computer store doesn’t make a nickle out of telling me to install a freebie.

Remember, just to increase your paranoia, those suckers are out there, waiting to sneak through your defenses.  You gotta make sure those defenses are good, and use them regularly, or at least often enough to stop the attacks from penetrating.  Else you’ll be facing down time and a couple hundred bucks of repair bills yourself.

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The ULTIMATE SL Tool — Updated

Prad Prathivi has created the ultimate keyboard for navigation and control in Second Life.  Using this keyboard, which is more versatile than any mouse or trackball, you will have the needed controls to cover any situation that may arise on the Grid.  He hasn’t started marketing it yet, but you can see pictures of the prototype.  Just go to this Flickr photo, see the full size by clicking the “All Sizes” button, and read the testimonials that it’s already accumulated.

Oh, by the way:  don’t be drinking a cup of coffee or eating a bowl of cereal when you look at the full size picture.  You don’t want to need to buy a new screen….

UPDATE — September 24, 8:55 a.m.:

The word is spreading about this nifty new keyboard.  It’s even gaining notice among Spanish SLoggers.

Posted September 23, 2008 by Harper Ganesvoort in Arts, Humor

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What’s Everyone Got Against the Lindens?

It’s truly amazing how much discontent I hear and see around the Grid and the SL-‘sphere about Linden Lab, much of it aimed toward the loss of operations that strike periodically.

Of course, it’s not surprising people will gripe. If you’re in the middle of a good talk or dance with a sexy fellow Resident, or in the middle of (wink, wink) other things, and you’re suddenly booted out or your region is reset, you’re going to be mad. It’s even worse if you’re doing actual business, like many people use Second Life for. Imagine a presentation going on, and you suddenly go etherware. Not fun! And it has to be admitted that SL does have an amazing number of bugs and crashes at times.

But is that surprising, people? Think of where the technology is — even with the number of MMORPGs in existence already, we’re still in the toddler stage of development at best. And I’ve never seen a time when the Resident counter isn’t sitting around at least 35,000 people logged in. All those people are walking/flying/dancing/having sex/riding horses/streaming music and video/flipping prim hair and skirts…well, I hope you get the idea. All that action puts a heavy burden, not to say a strain, on the sims at the best of times. In a busy region, like Franks Place or a big sale by a couturiere, the sim computer has to do calculations and draw pictures for 40-45 Residents at a shot. Timesharing has its limits at this level of the technology, my friends — although it’s a hell of a lot better than in the early days, of course. But graphics-intensive services such as Second Life means a need for not just megaflops, but maybe teraflops, of computing power. Nobody has that yet — unless the Guvmint in Washington isn’t talking (fnord).

I’ve read Snow Crash (the parallels are what drew me to Second Life), and know how the Metaverse is supposed to operate. But if we’re expecting anything less than a roomful of supercomputers to keep up with all the demands we place on the Lindens’ systems, then (not to put too fine a point on it) we’re terribly spoiled and stuck in instant-gratification mode.

Let’s cut the Lindens at least a little slack, okay? Instead of grouching about how much the Grid is down, think about how much it is usually up, and how well it does then….

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