Oh, We Are so Spoiled With Computers

Did you notice the rapid improvement of computers? Did you appreciate it?

I remember when I was 7 years old (some 13 years ago), when we got our first grey box. Oh the joy. I had played with computers before, mainly my fathers Packard Bell which he used at his office. Windows 3.11 with the additional Packard Bell UI. But the family computer running Windows 98 was something special. I got to play real computer games, and I got to browse the World Wide Web using a dial-up modem.

I remember the lag with, later on, newer games. Then we got another computer, slightly faster, which amazed me. Oh the joy, with every improvement. Every slight boost in computer hardware yielded awesome speed.

When I was around 13, I got my very own computer. My first one. We got it through some company deal, very cheap (those deals are not available anymore in Sweden). A year later we installed ADSL broadband. Unrestricted internet on Windows XP, that was amazing. I could play single player games with good graphics, and I could even play multiplayer games. I could play web-based flash games. I could download any multimedia I wanted (back then, it was legal to file share in Sweden, as long as you didn’t pass the files on).

Today, on the other hand, computers and internet are essential things. Everything is based on certain specs and won’t work otherwise. Some e-mail software won’t even work offline! Though, some software will nowadays work without internet because of increase in disk size. But do we appreciate this? Do we enjoy the speed boost, or do we enjoy the design and user interface more?

When 4Gb of memory is as good as 8Gb as memory, do we really appreciate the capacity? We are so spoiled with innovation.

The flip side is, unfortunately, that we can’t go back. Put a 14-year-old in front of a old computer, and watch the frustration grow. We want instant results, we want a boot time less than 3 seconds, we want to play music while downloading updates while browsing the internet while playing a game.

I’m writing this from my old laptop. A 4-5 year old MacBook White with a Core2Duo and 1Gb of RAM. It works with any one piece of software (games excluded), but not with more.  With some performance penalty, I can run two apps at once. Of course OSX runs more smooth than Win7.

When you’ve finished reading this, take a moment and think about how spoiled you are. Cheers!

Can You Crack It?

Recently I came across an interesting code challenge that really got me going. If you’re like me and love solving problems you should totally check it out and give it a go!

Puzzle games are all fun but, obviously, they’re designed as games. This code challenge, on the other hand, is a real challenge. Besides it being fun trying to crack a code, I love the fact there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to solve it. The mystery makes it so much more exhilarating.

Most of us seek out things to figure out all the time, whether it is to prove or improve ourselves.

Personally, I think the same reasoning applies to problems in programming. Last week I spent a few hours straight trying to solve a single problem. I was trying to validate Swedish social security numbers with a single algorithm, and I refused to do it any other way (might upload the C++ source code later). The kick you get from solving a hard problem is amazing.

I’m not finished with the code challenge yet, but I think I’m on the right track. Can You Crack It?

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Använder folk fortfarande antivirus?

“Surfa inte på skumma hemsidor” – jo visst. Hur gör folk idag? Igår framkallade både chips och knäckebröd cancer – idag äter folk det som vanligt. Saker och ting förändras. Har vi slutat äta antivirusprogram?

Läste en uppsats om det nyss, kanske inte helt relaterat men det fick igång tankeverksamheten. När jag var mindre ansåg jag det som väldigt viktigt att ha ett antivirusprogram. Man talade mycket om hur prestandan förvärrades fast man skulle ändå ha det. Gud nåde dig om du skippade det.

Idag bryr jag mig inte så mycket om det. Den mänskliga kroppen kan inte skydda sig helt och det kan inte datorn heller. Med en router som skyddar mot internet och Windows Firewall som skyddar mot nätverket så känner jag mig säker. Fast sen kör jag inte så mycket konstig kod heller. Spel och program köper jag, så risken med att “ladda ner” finns inte.

Kanske är det därför intresset dog ut. Internet Explorer under Windows kunde tidigare ladda ner Active-X-komponenter som hade möjligheten att infektera ett system. Utöver den risken fanns det drive-by downloads och ett par rejäla hål in i systemet. Antivirus behövdes faktiskt och väldigt lite skydd gav väldigt mycket säkerhet.

Dagens hot är mycket mer sofistikerade och virus skapas fortare än vad de registreras. Jag har själv skapat trojaner som undgår upptäckt så jag litar inte så mycket på programvarorna. Däremot är det inte dåligt att ha ett extra lager skydd, så se till att i alla fall ha ett gratisalternativ installerat!

Jag tror att ett stenhårt system tillsammans med brandväggar klarar det mesta om användaren vet vad den sysslar med.

Hur resonerar “den stora massan”? Ska man fortfarande ha antivirus eller har man slutat med det?

One.com Criticism

One.com control interface

Happy to get rid of it!

Freedom of speech is great – but don’t bite the hand that feeds you! I can speak freely now when I’m rid of One.com and it’s bad hosting, though. I’m going to try to highlight the positive as well as negative sides of One.com (but mostly negative, since One.com is crap). Today I’m using Swedish host Binero and I’m happy with the result.

Reasons why not to use One.com

One.com Downtime

One.com was my first web host, so they set the standard for what I thought was acceptable. Downtime two times a week is unacceptable, but how would I know? I’ve had two sites hosted at One.com and both had issues with downtime. Problem is – One.com won’t tell you when they shut your site down for an hour or two. You will, however, receive a notice if there is maintenance about to happen (which could take 5-8 hours to complete).

When this site was hosted at One.com it had to go through five maintenances and I found about ten unreported major downtimes. Moreover I can’t remember how many minute-long downtimes I found. Estimated uptime at One.com? 90%? It’s hard to estimate since errors are not reported, and 1-2 hour downtimes are hard to find if I’m not online. Do not use One.com if you need your material on the web at all times.

One.com Stability and Speed

A web host must ensure stability and speed since it’s the reason why we hire them instead of hosting the site ourselves. This goes hand in hand with downtime since a site cannot both be stable and have downtime. According to Google Webmaster Tools my site was slower than 90% of the web. 90%?!?! On top of that One.com threw more Server Internal Errors than you can imagine! And when things went fine you had to worry about the MySQL server slowing your page down! I’ve seen queries take 3.5 seconds to complete. Do not use One.com if you plan on using software such as WordPress.

One.com Limitations

We need to understand that One.com is a very simple web host. This is no excuse for the lack of stability and poor uptime but it explains why you, as a customer, are limited. You have access to a web server with PHP and MySQL functionality, although you can’t configure the web server directives or the PHP settings. One.com gives you one MySQL-database and nothing more. You are unable to run asp.net applications and as far as I know SQLite is not supported.

Additional domains are not supported and you have limited domain control. If you want to transfer your domain to another registrar you have to talk to support and cancel your account. They rip you off when it comes to domain pricing, but for a single domain it’s not that big of a deal.

The mail servers won’t support the standard port for sending mail, and they refuse to use SSL (secure connection) for sending and receiving mail. Credit where it’s due – the catcher mail functionality is great. It’s not unique but it’s the only fancy thing you can enable over there.

There is no such thing as free traffic, and One.com knows that. You are, by agreement, unable to host large files on their servers. Not that this in itself is an issue but they also limit the size of a request to 3MB. This means that a site with a lot of images might get suspended. All it takes is one page, so make sure to check the size! Flash-games and such might easily doom you.

Is One.com worth using?

There is no right and wrong I suppose. One.com gives you something that “works” for most people, but then again most people don’t own a web site. If you have a blog for family and friends One.com could satisfy you, but beware of downtime and so on. The only reason to choose One.com is their pricing. If you plan on creating a larger site, go and purchase a better package from a better web host!

Bottom line: Do not use One.com as your web host unless you need a cheap host. Be aware of the stability issues and limitations.

Why do blogs die?

I wonder why beautiful things are left alone and forgotten. Why people abandon things they have worked so hard on, why they deserted them. Same goes for blogs, why would anyone simply let their blog die?

Since most blogs are hosted using automated system, they are not cleaned up afterwards. The hosting companies want to have material on their servers in order to generate traffic, and the cost of text is close to none – so they keep it as long as they can. If the users don’t chose to erase their work.. it stays online.

But why does a blog die? Is it because the writer is dead? Hehe, I hope so… or not. Well, sometimes I really hate the author since he or she might have been about to write something I need (like a tech walkthrough) but never got around to it. As far as I understand, the reasons for letting a blog die is as follows:

Not having time to blog.
Lost interest in blogging.
Created a new blog.
Lost login credentials.
Started going outside more.

Okay, I have to admit – I added the last one myself. It’s a joke… going outside have nothing with blogging to do, don’t worry! You can go outside and still write about silly cats on the internet, no problem! Seriously thought, why would anyone stop blogging?

Most dead blogs I’ve come across are deserted. It’s like walking into a house with plates of food still on the table. If you lost interest in expressing yourself on the internet, would you not have the courtesy to write a last post? Same goes for not having time – could you not write a last post about not having time? Or perhaps delete the blog.

Lost passwords and usernames can often be recovered, but in a worst-case scenario a new blog might be in order. Those people I can forgive for not posting a last post or such. But why would one create a new blog without reason? When I was younger I actually did this.. I blogged but I couldn’t stay in one place. I changed service four times before ending up with WordPress (and what is the ancient version of this blog!).

I think I deleted my previous blogs (one service actually shut down as well). The reason to why I switched was that I didn’t have enough control. After some three or four posts I had to move on because I couldn’t change text color or upload big images. It drove me mad, in a way. But could this really be why there are so many dead blogs? People should host their own blogs, so when they don’t want to blog, the blog will be taken offline.

I’ll die before this blog dies out. Stay tuned for some sixty years of blogging!


EasyBits Go … Away!

Perhaps it hasn’t troubled you, but one day a software called EasyBits Go installed itself on my computer. “Ding ding ding” – malware alarm!

Turns out it’s a gaming plug-in for Skype (as in an extension for Skype). Lucky me, otherwise a full reinstall would be in order.

I did uninstall it, although I don’t know if that worked. I’ve read posts saying the uninstaller had issues, leaving the software in some kind of limbo-state (unaccessible but not uninstalled). According to the same post, it was installed by a patch error.

Good to know. I’ll be locking down my computer soon, making sure not to accept any UAC requests in the future! Bloody bugs…

DNS Change

I’ll write this post later on, just gotta make sure I write this on the correct site.

Okay, there we go. I’m sorry about the not-writing-new-stuff thing, and I’m sorry about the possible loss of comments during this DNS transfer.

Basically the DNS (oscarhjelm.com) translates into an IP-adress which a computer uses to load the website. Now, this usually works fine, but when you change your DNS records there will be some confusion. The slowest part is where your ISP updates their DNS cache(s), because if they don’t you’d still see my old blog right now.

I had some troubles telling this site from my old one, since they both look exactly alike. Almost. The landing page doesn’t have headlines from my blag, because there was no blag here when I set that up. It’s was the only difference.

Anyway – everything should be in order now. I have some back-end stuff to do, but it should work as-is.

Planned Downtime

Edit: So it has been a week since this was posted, and it’s such a shame I’m keeping the blog idle for now. If this is your first time reading my blog, stay tuned for a ton of awesome posts! Regular readers – I’m sorry for not writing. I’m changing host, and almost everything is set.. except the DNS transfer. It’s said to occur tomorrow.

Because of various reasons I’m changing service provider, and therefore some downtime will be expected. It’s unclear when this downtime will occur and how long it would be (One.com could not give me an answer).

Happy browsin’!

Edit: Yeah, almost forgot to mention, you have no idea how much work has to be done in order to move a website! I need to set up a new blog and migrate content. You probably won’t notice, though. Cheers!