Why Microsoft keeps pushing laptop navigation software?

Microsoft has a range of GPS navigation products, such as Street & Trips, Map Point and Pocket Streets (did I forgot any?). The problem is that the former two run only on full blown Windows only (forget Pocket PC devices) while the later has no turn by turn navigation which makes all of three useless for in-car navigation.

I mean who would want to put a laptop on the windshield to have a navigation. This is so impractical that makes it useless. Even if you have a passenger that holds your laptop is really not usable.

On the other hand having a software (Pocket Streets) that runs on PocketPC and only shows your position on the map (the map that is pain to transfer from desktop PC to PocketPC) without turn-by-turn navigation is useless, too.

Combined with lack of map coverage for Slovenia makes it so useless combination that it almost hurts. I am struggling to understand the Microsoft strategy on GPS navigation software but I fail to see one. Even if I had Slovene maps it would be still useless.

Here is a free advice for MS: make a solid PocketPC (or Windows CE) turn-by-turn navigation software like the competition does (TomTom, Garmin, etc.) if you really want to have a car navigation system.

Computers enhance your home heating system

I just read the power requirements for new Nvidia G80 DirectX10 based graphic cards. And I can't say I didn't expect this numbers coming, perhaps I didn't expect them being so huge. I mean, graphic cards industry is going berserk. Which sane person will mount dual 8800GTX graphics card and at least 800W PSU (rhetorical question)? I am not even going to imagine the loudness of such as beast. Dissipating 800W should be loud, very loud. 

But hey, on the bright side you won't need heating for the winter.

PS. Thanks to some manufacturers out there for selling fanless/silent graphic cards such as Gigabyte GV-NX76T256D-RH which I am planning to get soon. I'll certainly avoid everything with fan on it for the time being.

Dell 2001FP LCD and USB hub problem

Since long I have a nice 20" Dell 2001FP LCD monitor that works just fine. As a bonus it has an integrated USB hub which works just fine, too, as long as I don't standby my computer. Once computer wakes up from standby the integrated USB hub doesn't work anymore. The only remedy I've found is to detach/attach cable that connects USB hub with my computer. Pretty annoying and lame if you ask me.

So I went writing an e-mail to the national Dell dealer over here in Slovenia. I've got a response that this is probably a problem in my computer. I could understand this explanation if it wasn't for other 7 USB devices that are connected directly to my computer and all of them wake up from computer's standby just fine. So I replied with my reasoning and never got another answer (OK, it is been just a day since but the initial post was sent 5 minutes after my question was sent).

So, the question for everybody that uses Dell 2001FP LCD screen is - does your USB hub works after computer standby or it is really a problem in my computer (which I am going to change soon anyway). I would be really thankful for any response.

And the another question could be: Is this a proper support from a large manufacturer? Rhetorical question...

BlueSoleil mystery revealed

A couple of days ago I wrote about how BlueSoleil bluetooth stack keeps resetting my Windows XP. I finally found what is going on.

The reset is triggered by RUPS2000 software. I guess you are wondering what is this thing. It is an UPS management software - it watches your UPS (if you don't have one you should get one) and when things go bad (AC is gone, battery is empty) it can shut down your computer. And this is actually happening - RUPS2000 is shutting down my computer thinking that battery is empty (I found this by looking at system event log). The problem is that battery isn't empty and AC is available - IOW it is a false alarm.

It seems like BlueSoleil bluetooth stack is somehow messing with RUPS2000, it gets confused and starts shutdown procedure. Go figure. Until I find a proper solution I'll keep RUPS2000 disabled.

PS. Needless to say that I didn't get any support from either IVT (BlueSoleil manufacturer) or MSI (bluetooth dongle manufacturer).

BlueSoleil bluetooth stack is restarting my Windows XP

Perhaps it is just me but I keep bumping into problems with bluetooth stacks. Making Qtek2020 to work with a bluetooth headset was an adventure by itself.

But now I am facing another very annoying problem. I have a Logitech® Mobile Traveller Headset and a couple of friends with voice enabled MS Messenger (or some other IM software). So I bought a MSI BToes 2.0 bluetooth dongle for my desktop computer to enable chat via headset. This MSI dongle comes with BlueSoleil bluetooth stack (my first thought was: crap, why not Widcomm). So I installed this BT stack and amazingly everything worked smoothly. Even headset worked immediately. This was a warning that something bad will soon happen - I never saw bluetooth device working out of the box like that. And soon, I found out that I was right.

The crappy BlueSoleil BT stack started restarting my Windows. It happens in few minutes after login - Windows just go into restart for no reason. Go figure - why would BT stack reset my Windows? I would understand BSOD or something like that but not a restart. And it happens even when dongle is absent so it has to be a pure software issue.

I don't know if it is just me but I find bluetooth software of very low quality in general. I wonder if I'll be ever able to solve this latest issue.

x64 or x86

My next desktop computer will have an AMD x64 dual core CPU for sure. While Intel has come out with Core 2 Duo there is no motivation to buy such a beast because AMD is still cheaper ($/performance) and reliable, plus it has great support from mobo makers. Anyway, since I'll have a x64 bit CPU I am thinking whether to install x64 or x86 version of Vista. x64 sounds better but what does one really gain with 64 bits CPU? I am not a hardware expert but I see only cons when going 64bit on desktop (out of my head):

  • pointers are double size which means your applications are larger and consume more memory (I am sure there are others memory size increases)
  • even worse, CPU cache will even more suffer (being rather small)
  • drivers are hard to find even for mainstream hardware and just forget about exotic devices (this one will eventually improve of course)

So, what gives? One of advantages is bigger memory address space (do I really need it? no). So, am I missing something?

I guess I'll install x86 Vista version afterall. I only hope that I won't need more than 4Gb one day...

UPDATE: 14.8.2007 - Even though I was thinking about AMD I've ended up with Intel Core 2 Due E6600 - the $/peformance ration is turned upside down now and Intel is clear leader in performance desktop arena.

Robotics anybody?

Microsoft released Robotics Studio June 2006 CTP for creating robotics application easily. Ever wanted to play with robots but you didn't want to mess with different robot operating systems? You don't need to as Robotics SDK will take care of it.

Now, this sounds like a lot of fun for any (adult) child out there.

Internet fragility

I switched from cable TV to internet TV (Slovene SIOL provider - ADSL) a while ago. At the time it looked like a good move, but not everything is evident at beginning. Here is my list of pros and cons:

Pros:

  • plenty of channels
  • switching to future standars might be easy

Cons:

  • plenty of useless channels
  • picture quality is problematic, specially on scenes with lot of changes (you know, the usual decompression story)
  • forget classic VCR - there is no way to let VCR change the channel with my STB (Amino that is)
  • no support for anything else besides Amino (i.e. Windows Media Center)

And the biggest problem out there, the one made me write this post, is incredible fragility of this technology. It isn't mature by any means. Occasionally modem freezes (needs a reset), sometimes Amino freezes (needs a reset) and today at evening there is no picture at all on any channel. Apparently infrastructure provider messed something. Since it is late the problem won't be repaired until tomorrow, hopefully. And there goes my show.

If you worry that eventually the internet TV technology will gain maturity and will stabilize, fear not, there are new problems on the horizon. Competition is pushing for even faster speeds, either ADSL2+ or VDSL, or new HDTV standard which will probably translate in even more problems.

So, instead of simply watching TV one has to deal with providers and technology, resetting gadgets and staring at blanks screens sometimes. Ah, the beauty of new technologies. Did I mention my PocketPC? The story is strikingly similar. Once upon a time I had a simple Nokia 6210 mobile phone which didn't have a single problem. Until it died on me one day. Then I went with Qtek 2020 PocketPC (pocket pc with Windows). Soon I found myself resetting the thing once per day, since the phone part has frozen at least once per day (with no obvious signs of course - the only sign was that the caller got "not available" message or you got it if you wanted to phone somebody). And of course upgrading ROMs here and there.

I guess the bottom line is that better the gadgets are and more work they do for you, more work you have to do to keep them doing more work for you. I fear the day I will have to deal with ultra intelligent elevators...

Logitech headset problems, again

It all started with broken ear ring. Now, I've got another problem, probably a deadly one. Battery won't recharge anymore. It is charging, charging, charging and then it works for a minute or two. I guess it is time for reclamation.