Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cox Sux

I used to have weeks, if not months, of trouble-free service uptime from Cox. Was truly happy with it.

Recently, though, the quality of service has gone seriously downhill - now I am having downtimes several times a day, up to tens of minutes each time. There were two citywide downtimes for several hours in a row within last week.

Cox representatives are either diligently denying any liability ("Sir, we could send a technician to your house (the next available opening is, let me see, two days away), but you understand that if there is a problem with your home network, we'll have to charge you, oh, and would you like to buy a Cox assurance plan?"), or are totally unreachable ("All circuits are currently busy, please try your call another time").

My ability to work depends on having uninterrupted Internet service, so I am now seriously pissed and considering alternatives. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

LCD Monitor Trends

  • 4:3 is going extinct;
  • 300 cd/m2 brightness is the mainstream;
  • 1000:1 contrast is the mainstream;
  • 1920x1080 (16:9) is rapidly gaining upon 1920x1200 (16:10), and you can get disproportionately better deals for monitors in 1920x1080 vs. 1920x1200. 1920x1200 seems to be pushed into the "elitist" market niche, priced accordingly;
  • resolutions higher than 1920x1200 seem to be treated as exotic, with either significantly less bang for the buck for 30" at 2560 x 1600, or higher pixel pitch for 23" at 2048 x 1152;
  • HDMI connector isn't quite making it out there yet;
  • At the same time, more than half of monitors declare themselves HDCP compatible.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Special Place at The Ninth Circle of Hell...

...must be reserved for Lotus Notes developers that did not provide a way to change a font size.

It doesn't matter whether you have a cheapskate 14" laptop with 1024x768 screen, or a decent 24" 1920x1200 flat panel - either way, you're condemned to stare at those microscopic letters till your abused eyeballs pop out of sockets and roll down the table.

PS: And don't tell me that there are ways. The idiots specified dialog box and button sizes in pixels, with no regard to font size. This is what happens when I try to make the fonts readable on a big screen:

Large fonts in Lotus Notes

(photo by chrismar)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quote Of The Day: Motivation

Don't try to race sheep.
Don't try to herd race horses.

-- How to Motivate Programmers

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Antec P183: Thanks, but No Thanks

Disclaimer: I don't have a physical case at my hands, this review is based on actual experience with Antec P182 case and SPCR review of P183. Hope you find it essential enough, though.


The case is apparently a bit bigger, which means that you would be able to fit big video cards with rear mounted power connectors together with hard drives in the middle cage - barely, though, judging by this picture (page six of the SPCR review).

The case is apparently better ventilated, especially at the front - though it is questionable how well a non-directional airflow dissipation will work.

The bottom fan had been moved from the middle of the case to the front of it - which will improve the airflow through hard drives installed in the bottom cage.

  • The bottom fan moved to the front will increase acoustic noise.
  • Bottom fan is now optional (read: you will ave to pay extra).
  • Hateful Tricool 120 fans. These will have to be ripped out and thrown away, for the level of noise they generate is unacceptable. Assuming the same Scythe SY1225SL12M are used, this, again, brings the price up to $200 - and again, you have better options in that price range.
  • Fan grills. Problems with them have gone unnoticed by original P182 SPCR review, and I was unlucky enough to discover them only after all the components wer installed. In this incarnation, though, the problems were so aggravated that it deserved a special note from SPCR (look for this picture) and read the comments. This means that before the components are installed, the fans have to be ripped out even if you decide to keep the stock Tricool fans, and something will have to be done to the grills to smooth the airflow.
  • Antec CP proprietary PSU form factor and mounts: given the fact that all Antec power supplies I've ever bought have already died, most just outside of the warranty period, and one barely within, and it still hasn't been replaced yet, I (my humble personal opinion) couldn't care less about their improved proprietary technology, no matter how good it sounds on paper. Simply can't afford to waste that much money and risk the life of equipment those PSUs feed.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Google Adding Contact Fields, Losing Touch

So all right, they've added fields to contacts. Cool! Let me go add some to mine.

All right, birthday, check.

Marriage anniversary, ... wait, what? "Anniversary"? Hmm, not so cool, but okay, check.
The day I won the Nobel Prize... what? "Other"?

Now tell me, how difficult was it to give me the ability to name my dates the way I like them? (and don't tell me that I should use "custom" for that, for it is not a date and can't be treated as such).

Since I'm ranting already anyway, tell me also how difficult was it to integrate contact dates with the calendar and provide an ability to add a notification, just the way the calendar does it? What's the point of adding a date if you can't act upon it?

And how difficult was it to provide an ability, when adding a person, to add a person that is already in the address book? With a hypertext link to that other person?

Tsk, tsk, tsk. Not the quality of application that can be expected of Google. Time to think about a backup plan.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

R.I.P.: Antec Phantom 500W "Fanless" Power Supply

2006/10/30 - 2009/04/30

I used to like Antec power supplies - they were cheap and hip and everyone was loving them.

Then, they started dying. I've lost count of all Antec power supplies that died on me, I believe it was all of them that I've ever had - about five. The last addition to the cemetery is the Phantom Fanless. It just failed to produce power next time I switched it on, and I don't really care why.

I will not be buying another Antec PSU, ever. PSU manufacturer of choice is, for now, Corsair. CMPSU-620HX works since 2007/04/08 (replaced dead Antec True Blue), CMPSU-750TX since 208/05/04 (new installation). I think I'll just get another 750TX as a replacement for this Phantom, to be on a safe side.

The jury is still out on other Antec products, but there's little to break, really...

UPDATE: Apparently, Phantom is backed by Antec's 3 year warranty. The fact that the phone line is only open 10:00 to 16:00 Pacific on weekdays doesn't make me too optimistic, though. Online support request submitted, let's see how fast and how good does it go. So far, not even an automated email confirmation.

UPDATE: Customer service is, ahem, schizophrenic. People (at least the rep I'm dealing with) are helpful and expedient. Support site, on the other side, is trigger happy, riddled with dead code and dead links, and if you do submit a form, you better follow through with a live rep, because you will not receive feedback by email (why is that, by the way?). Once you're assigned an RMA number, your ticket is closed, and you have no way of notifying Antec of, say, additional details, or, say, a tracking number.

Shipping this animal, by the way, costs arm and leg - about a quarter, if not a third, of the price of a new comparable PSU. Think twice before you ship - you're paying for it.

UPDATE: It's been a week and a day since Antec facility has received the dead PSU and signed off the UPS receipt. It's like it went to /dev/null - the only response that could be evoked from tech support is "RMA department will take 2-3 business days to process, and will issue the tracking number". Time to rough some feathers.

UPDATE: There doesn't seem to be a phone queue manager on Antec's RMA department. You are greeted with a lifeless and apathetic voice stating stating "Please leave us your name, email, phone number and RMA number, and we'll call you back". Hmm, did you know the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary? OK, after calling back quite a few times I get a live person. And guess what, I am being informed that the unit is "on a back order". And that they don't know when it is going to be available, and that they will have to call me back when they have the date.

Yeah, right.

Well, I guess it's time to buy a PSU - and guess what, it's not going to be an Antec.

UPDATE: You've got to be kidding me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Does white G1 chip?

Yes, it does.

Two phones - black, purchased on October 23rd 2008, still without a single scratch, and white, purchased a month later, with same usage pattern, exhibiting extensive chipped areas around buttons and corners.

Not to even mention the fact that black one is the only one with the keyboard backlight actually visible...