Hardware

HD-DVD has won the high-def media format war?

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It appears that HD-DVD will win the high-def media format war, if history is anything to go by.

History lesson: In the 1980's Sony's Betamax tape standard lost out to JVC's competing and technically inferior VHS tape standard primarily due to the adult entertainment industry's backing of the latter's lower production and media & equipment costs.

While Las Vegas's played host to 2007's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), down the street was the adult entertainment industry's annual convention where many studios announced support for the more affordable of the two new high-definition media standards: Microsoft's HD-DVD. While Sony's Blu-Ray is admittedly a superior technology, as Betamax was versus VHS, it is the media costs, production costs, playback-equipment costs and popularity of the players (in part due to Microsoft's XBox360's popularity, which has a HD-DVD player available for it, versus Sony's Playstation 3 with its Blu-Ray player) that has sold them.

Keyboard went bad? Who'd a thunk!

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I've mentioned before about the Kensington Comfort Type keyboard, which I found to be extremely comfortable to work with, especially because of the unique key shapes. Well, as it happened there was some trouble in paradise.

It seems that the PS/2 connectors on our motherboard are either not the sturdiest on the planet, or they were getting tugged on more than they liked, because after a few months of use the keyboard plug would start falling out of the port thus causing it to stop responding. Well, at ten o'clock at night when you're trying to work on a project you don't have many options, so it was off to the local Walmart where I found a PS/2-to-USB converter. This little widget which would let me continue using the keyboard only instead plug it into the USB port, and even could connect a PS/2 mouse if I was interested, and ultimately cost less than a new keyboard.

I'm glad to say that it worked fairly well for over a year, though it did have some weird behaviour afterwards - you couldn't hold a key for longer than about two seconds (made text selection difficult), and you also couldn't very easily press multiple keys simultaneous (control-shift & cursors tend to make it forget what it was doing), but we could live with it.

This past week it started stopping to work altogether, only to kick in again if you wiggled the cord coming into the board itself - it was on its last legs. Finally, last night while I was working on a new PHP shopping cart program it decided it had enough of me and refused to start working again, so this morning I've swapped it with a rudimentary USB keyboard that should last a tad longer.

Have fun with wireless network intruders

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Here's someone who discovered his neigbors were using his wireless Internet connection without his bidding. Instead of blocking them he decided to have a little fun, first redirecting all of their web page access to Kitten War, then he set up a web proxy so that he could manipulate what they were seeing, to interesting effect. Full details, including source code and configuration, are available.

19" widescreen monitors are awesome!

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I'm having a major bout of monitor envy. At work, after my suggestion, they upgraded the office so everyone is on LCDs and as part of the deal the Geek gang got swishy new 19" widescreen Viewsonics. They're awesome. With a native resolution of 1440x900 it has 1.6 times the screen real estate of a 15" 1024x768 screen, has lots of width to place windows side-by-side (useful for code comparisons) and doesn't make you crane your neck to look from top to bottom, unlike some larger screens. One really cool feature is that if you have two computers available, one with a regular 15-pin VGA connector and one with a swishy new DVI connector, you can have both of them connected simultaneously and just press a button on the screen to switch between them, so using this I've got both my Mac and beefy PC ready to go as needed. I will definitely say that the DVI output from the Geforce 6800 in the PC is far superior to the VGA from the Geforce 4 MX on the Mac, the text is much more crisp. To give you even more screen envy we got them for about $216 with free shipping and a $20 rebate brings the price to under $200, a third of what we paid for our 17" LCD a few years back! NewEgg is where we got them and to make life easier for you here's a link to search their site with the various options we went for:

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