The Care And Feeding Of Helpdesk Callers

One of the more, umm, interesting challenges of working on a Helpdesk is dealing with people's home computers. Many businesses these days have some kind of provision in place to allow employees to connect from home on an as needed, or even a full time basis. Because the connections are almost always over an Internet connection and use some kind of browser-based interface, the Helpdesk person (me) is at the mercy of a usually non-technical users and the wasteland that is often their home computer.


Millenials vs. Boomers - P. J. O'Rourke

The interview below between editor Nick Gillespie and writer and humorist P. J. O'Rourke is very interesting and worth a listen. This is not a bunch of yucks, it is a "real" interview.
The interview also includes a tour of O'Rourke's long and varied career in journalism, from his humble beginnings writing for an underground alt-weekly to his time as editor of National Lampoon and his incredible work as a foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone to his current position as columnist at the Daily Beast.
A prominent libertarian, O'Rourke also discusses the difficulties in selling a political philosophy devoted to taking power away from politicians.


Senior Moment Confession

Yes, they happen to the best of us - and to me. Two outlets in the kitchen stopped working, one of them being a GFI outlet. I reset the GFI outlet (ground fault interrupt) and checked the breakers in the basement. We only moved here a few months ago, so I'm not 100% sure of the condition of all of the electrical stuff; I pulled the two affected outlets to see if anything had shorted out, or come loose. Nope. I did notice that it looked like the GFI was connected to the other problem outlet - which made sense - so I reasoned the GFI was the problem. A few more minutes head scratching and it dawned on me that I had actually been putting the GFI into test mode instead of resetting it back to normal operation. Grrr.

Bear in mind, I work on a help desk and so perform a lot of troubleshooting during my work week. The weekend seems to be another matter though...

Fission, Fusion; What's The Difference?

Nuclear fission is the process currently used by the world's nuclear reactors; it produces large amounts of energy from small amounts of processed radioactive materials. It also leaves radioactive waste that must be safely disposed of, but which hangs around in a radioactive state for centuries (or millennia).

Nuclear fusion is the process most stars are fuelled by, including our Sun. The benefit of fusion is that small quantities of water can be used as fuel, and there is little or no waste to deal with. Great, except it has turned out to be very hard to accomplish in a controlled sustained manner here on Earth. However, we are now seeing some cash being pumped into research by investors, so maybe we will see some results in the coming years.
Two major tech investors have plowed $1.5 million into Helion Energy to help it develop a technology that hasn’t worked, despite decades of research and millions of research dollars.

Most of the money, $1.25 million, was given by Mithril Capital Management, a venture capital firm in San Francisco. Mithril co-founder Ajay Royan says his company pays special interest to “state-shift companies,” those that represent revolutionary change in their industries. Helion, he said, is one of them.

No company, big or small, has yet to build a reactor that can sustain nuclear fusion, a process that generates more energy than it consumes. Still, Royan says Helion, of Redmond, Wash., is unique because of its concrete approach.



Michael J Fox And Intel vs Parkinson's Disease

BetaNews - You're likely familiar with actor Michael J. Fox, star of the Back to the Future movies, that we, of a certain age, all remember. Now the actor suffers from Parkinson's Disease, a malady his foundation wishes to draw awareness to, perhaps even help with finding a cure.

Now wearable technology is getting in on the action. Intel has teamed up with the charity in an effort to utilize such items as the Pebble Watch to help in the fight. While a number of people are skeptical about this path that technology is now heading down, this certainly makes for a good use that few would likely argue against.

"By harnessing the power of data science, wearable technologies like smartwatches, and cloud computing, researchers can explore individual patients’ experience with the disease -- looking for patterns and insights that were unavailable to them before -- and hopefully lead to improved treatments", Pebble announces.


Remember This? Windows 95

On August 24th 1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95. The very successful operating system introduced the Start button and set the basic look and feel of subsequent Windows versions until Windows 8 appeared in the latter part of 2012. Interestingly, the initial release of Windows 95 did not include the Internet Explorer web browser, and the default installation did not include TCP/IP networking (the network protocol used on the Internet).

The System Requirements are something to behold almost 20 years later. Notice only 8 MB [megabytes] of memory are recommended, where even a cheap smartphone today has 512MB, and most computers would have at least 2GB [gigabytes].

Q - Which Rolling Stones song was heavily featured in the marketing campaign for Windows 95? (answer below)

System requirements for installing Windows 95:
Personal computer with a 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended)
    4 megabytes (MB) of memory (8 MB recommended)
Typical hard disk space required to upgrade to Windows 95: 35-40 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
Typical hard disk space required to install Windows 95 on a clean system: 50-55 MB The actual requirement varies depending on the features you choose to install.
    One 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive
    VGA or higher resolution (256-color SVGA recommended)

To use Microsoft Exchange and The Microsoft Network:

    8 MB of memory
    20 MB of additional hard disk space
    Modem (required for using The Microsoft Network) 

A - "Start Me Up" was heavily featured in the marketing campaign for Windows 95