Engineer gadgets obsolescence

The ghosts of computing past

I have a large plastic box with a lid (you know the type you can buy from the local DIY ‘shed’ or independent hardware store) filled with various cables, adapters, a backup ADSL router, an old US Robotics dial up modem that connects via good ol’ RS-232, and — most interestingly of all, I think — two Iomega zip drives (a 100 MB drive that connects via parallel, and a 750 MB USB drive).

Along with the goodies mentioned, I also have an opened box of 100 MB disks and an unopened still-in-shrink-wrap box of 750 MB disks. At the time I bought these disks USB flash sticks weren’t so prevalent and neither was broadband. I bought them as a backup solution for the Pentium 166 PC I had at the time but never really got round to setting up a backup procedure. And y the time I retired that machine I had USB sticks bigger than its hard drive (a whopping 2.1 GB) so data transfer was no problem.

So I feel I am holding an important bit of computing history in my hands, but I am also wondering what is best to do with the Iomega zip drives considering that the company is apparently no more and that these days the drives only appear on eBay.

All suggestions welcome, and I’ll get the camera out tomorrow and add a picture.

End User mobile connectivity

Sometimes it’s best to just hit reset

Toward the end of January I got a notification that a firmware update was available for my Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 so I went ahead and applied it.

Now my years of supporting PCs has taught me that when upgrading an OS its sometimes best to do a clean install, equally, if you have a corrupt download it’s best to delete the file before attempting to download it again.

Why I was under the illusion this didn’t apply to smartphones I don’t know.Since applying the update I’ve had quite a few crashes of applications and Android processes such as System UI and  just general sluggishness.

I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling applications and clearing caches but to no avail.

Anyway this morning the phone just completely froze so I ended up pulling the battery.

I’ve held off a factory reset because of having to put stuff like the home Wi-Fi passphrase back in but I decided to just go ahead and do a reset and hey presto its working like new again, in fact the touchscreen appears even more responsive than when it was new.

End User fun stuff

Could a KITT-like car be driving down your road sometime soon?

While setting up a TomTom satnav (others are of course available) for a relative recently I noticed on their site you could purchase a William Daniels voice pack for their devices.

If you are a fan of the classic 80s series Knight Rider like me you will know that Mr Daniels was the original voice of KITT, the pretty much indestructible car with a razor sharp wit that regularly saved Michael Knight’s bacon.

Seeing this reminded me how much I loved the series when I was a kid so I had to buy the DVD boxset (the less said about the 1998 and 2008 remakes the better)

Watching a few of the episodes got me thinking, as 4G is expanding and the computing power that can be tapped via the cloud increases on a minute by minute basis could such a car be built with the human interaction code hosted in the cloud utilising neural network technology?

Yes I know Google are testing self driving cars and some are being put into service in Milton Keynes but I doubt very much these will have a personality at the moment.

Obviously anything safety related would be in the car itself in case of a loss of signal for example but wouldn’t it be a cracking idea to ask your car to drive you home after a session at your preferred watering hole or after a busy day at work, there would at long last be a use for that smart watch you’ve had your eye on.

I doubt the Department for Transport would approve the turbo boost function though, either to allow you to get somewhere quick or to jump over obstacles which would be a shame eh?