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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 92 declined, 9 accepted (101 total, 8.91% accepted)

+ - Problems with Windows XP caused by Microsoft.

Submitted by Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) (558542) writes "We are seeing 4 kinds of problems with Windows XP today at 2 remote locations:

1) One kind of problem is similar to the one in this April 7, 2014 story about computers in Australia: Pop-ups irritate Windows XP's remaining users. Microsoft Security Essentials on computers in the United States give pop-up messages about the MSE service being stopped.

2) Computers are requiring far longer to start, perhaps 12 to 15 minutes. Then the MSE pop-up appears.

3) Microsoft Security Essentials now calls into question whether XP is genuine. These are all computers that have run without issues for several years. The customer bought licenses when Windows XP was first released.

4) We have seen problems with the Windows XP operating system detecting a key stuck down when no keys were pressed on the keyboard. That is a software problem, not a keyboard hardware problem. It causes the system to be un-responsive because the key being detected is not one actually pressed, but is actually a key combination. Again, that is happening on computers that have been trouble-free for years. That problem began happening after a Windows update.

Microsoft said it would support MSE on Windows XP for another year. See the Microsoft article, Microsoft antimalware support for Windows XP. Apparently that support is not happening in the normal way."

+ - Windows XP did not instantly become unsafe on April 8. 1

Submitted by Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) (558542) writes "Windows XP did not instantly become unsafe on April 8, 2014, the date Microsoft calls the "end of life" for Windows XP.

"End of life" is a way for Microsoft to make more money. Governments and big corporations are often influenced by people with no technical knowledge. Because of their ignorance, governments have already paid Microsoft probably more than it costs to fix the few security defects found each year. However, the taxpayers of those governments will not be allowed to have the fixes.

It's like Toyota told all owners of older Toyota vehicles that the vehicles are unsafe now and owners must buy new vehicles or pay millions of dollars to keep them. Except its worse: Software doesn't have mechanical wear.

This article contains tips about how to use any version of Microsoft Windows safely that can be shared with people you want to help. Unnecessary computer maintenance is an ugly way to make money."
Software

+ - Book software?

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "What is the best software to organize and print a book? The software must order and format all the chapters, generate the table of contents and the index, and allow HTML links inside PDF files. Good documentation and ease of use for non-technical operators would be a big plus."
Firefox

+ - Mozilla Foundation should fix Firefox instability. 1

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "Unfortunately, Mozilla Foundation suffers from poor management. The rapid unexplained major version changes are only the most visible evidence.

Mozilla Foundation is a rich, rich corporation. No one should make the mistake of thinking that work on Firefox is done mostly by volunteers.

Did you see $78.6 million worth of improvements in 2008?

Did you see improvements suggesting that Mozilla Foundation had $168 million in assets in 2010? (Official PDF file, see page 2. Numbers are in thousands, as it says at the top of the page.)

Firefox is a world-class asset. Firefox is extremely important partly because those who need to do a lot of research online depend on Firefox and Firefox add-ons such as Session Manager, Session Manager Export Tool, Mozilla Archive Format, Flashblock, Multi Links, and Tab Mix Plus. There is no substitute for the capabilities of Firefox together with Firefox Add-ons. (Add-ons are also known as extensions and plug-ins.) For those who do research, Firefox is simply the best browser. Firefox is literally a world-class asset.

Biggest flaw: Firefox is unstable. The first step in improving management would be to fix the instability of Firefox. There would be a huge additional advantage in doing that, as someone else mentioned. Investigating how Firefox can be so unstable under Microsoft Windows might reveal flaws in Microsoft Windows that make the OS so unstable when using Firefox.

Firefox instabilities are experienced most frequently by those who open many Firefox windows and tabs, and leave them open while putting the computer into standby or hibernation several times. That is the pattern of use of those who do a lot of online research.

An example of research: For example, in researching HDMI cables there are numerous manufacturers, distributors, online sellers, explanations of HDMI standards, explanations of the U.S. National Electrical Code, and online reviews. The research is made far more complicated by the many companies that try to take advantage of the ignorance of the average person about cables. Good research is important because HDMI cables are often embedded in the infrastructure of buildings. Poor cables may need to be replaced when video equipment is upgraded, sometimes requiring tearing walls apart. Equipment upgrades may be years away, but are almost certain to happen.

One condition of instability: Windows XP 32-bit with Service Pack 3, for example, becomes unstable when Firefox has taken all the available memory, and is beginning to require the OS to use virtual memory. It seems a reasonable guess that Microsoft will be slow to fix Windows instabilities since poor experiences encourage people to buy new versions. Microsoft requires payment of the full price for each new version of Windows. Microsoft does not allow upgrade pricing even when a previous version has had many flaws, as with Microsoft Windows Vista. The laws against unfair business practices of those who have virtual monopolies have had no effect on Microsoft, apparently.

Firefox crash info: Here are some links for those who want to discover more about the instabilities in Firefox.

about:crashes
Put about:crashes into your URL bar and press ENTER. Firefox will then show a list of crashes of the copy of Firefox on that computer.

Crash info for all users and all versions
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox

Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 7.0.1, last week's version
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox/versions/7.0.1

Top crashers, version 7.0.1
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/topcrasher/byversion/Firefox/7.0.1/14

Notes:

1) The lists of crashes are ONLY the ones that Firefox caught. The lists do NOT include crashes that don't start the crash reporter.

2) Version 7.0.1 sometimes stays in memory even though the GUI was closed.

3) The crashes are often preceded by rapidly increasing memory use. Firefox often corrupts Microsoft Windows, so that Windows needs to be re-started. When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

4) The crashes and memory gobbling have been reported for more than 10 years, since version 0.9 of Mozilla Suite, before Mozilla began using the name Firefox. Firefox is still unstable even though the change reports for every version say there have been "stability improvements".

5) Versions 4 to 7 of Firefox were more unstable than the Firefox 3.6.x versions. Version 7.0.1 is more stable than the others, but still unstable. So there has been some improvement. This week's version, 8.0, is too new to have extensive statistics."

+ - Western Digital buys Hitachi, Seagate buys Samsung 2

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "Western Digital is buying the Hitachi hard drive division and Seagate is buying the Samsung hard drive division. So the major hard drive competitors will be reduced from 4 to 2.

Hitachi recently plead guilty in the U.S. to bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies. Samsung recently plead guilty in the U.S. to a price-fixing conspiracy.

The European Commission is investigating both the Western Digital-Hitachi and the Seagate-Samsung hard drive division mergers. Apparently there is no action by the U.S. government concerning the mergers.

Will having only two major makers of hard drives make it easier to raise prices?"

+ - Western Digital buys Hitachi, Seagate buys Samsung-> 2

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "Western Digital is buying Hitachi and Seagate is buying Samsung. So the major hard drive competitors will be reduced from 4 to 2.

Hitachi has recently plead guilty in the U.S. to bid-rigging and price-fixing conspiracies. Samsung has also recently plead guilty in the U.S. to a price-fixing conspiracy.

The European Commission is investigating both the Western Digital-Hitachi merger and the Seagate-Samsung merger. Apparently there is no action by the U.S. government concerning the mergers.

Will having only two major makers of hard drives make it easier to raise prices?"

Link to Original Source
Databases

+ - Best framework for database programs?

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "We want to write an application that uses a database. What is the best C++ GUI framework?

Also, what open source database applications are good examples of coding using that framework? We are interested in the PostgreSQL v8.4 and/or SQLite v3.6 free databases.

The cross-platform Nokia Qt 4 framework is impressive, and the database classes look clean, but the license causes concern. The Qt 4 license says that if any work was done with the free version of Qt 4 it cannot be used in a commercial environment unless it is licensed as GPL. Technically that means that someone experimenting at home could corrupt an application written for commercial use. GUI design is done with Qt Designer.

WxWidgets is also cross-platform, free, and has database classes. Apparently there is no support for SQLite. There is a commercial application, WxDesigner, for designing GUIs.

Dabo looks helpful for desktop database applications.

SQLite Database Browser is an example of a open source SQLite database application using the Qt framework.

There is a extensive list at the The GUI Toolkit, Framework Page, but no indication if the frameworks have database classes, and the latest update to the page was in 2007.

An open source example of good coding for database access and good GUI design would help us avoid the usual hassles."

+ - Lessons from the Haiti earthquake->

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "Writing in the scientific journal Nature, seismologist Roger Bilham says, "Every possible mistake was evident: brittle steel, coarse non-angular aggregate, weak cement mixed with dirty or salty sand, and the widespread termination of steel reinforcement rods at the joints between columns and floors of buildings where earthquake stresses are highest."

About 15% of the more than 2.5 million people in Port-au-Prince were killed or injured and about 1.5 million people are now homeless, a consequence of many decades of unsupervised construction permitted by a government oblivious to its plate-boundary location.

"Calculations show a 1–2% chance of magnitude-7 earthquakes ... before 22 February [2010]. Such forecasts are not an exact science... Yet there is no doubt that the recent shock has enhanced the risk of another earthquake."

"The catastrophic earthquakes that have occurred since 1999, in Turkey, Taiwan, Sumatra, Kashmir and Sichuan, demonstrate that elementary engineering guidelines for earthquake resistance in crucial civil structures (schools, hospitals and fire stations,) have been alien concepts to local authorities, or have been ignored."
"

Link to Original Source
Social Networks

+ - Dave Chappelle show demonstrates Twitter's power.->

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "Rumors of a surprise show by Dave Chappelle demonstrated the power of social networking. Drawn by rumors on Twitter and Facebook of a free performance, a crowd estimated at 2,500 to 4,000 packed into a downtown Portland, Oregon square after midnight on Wednesday. [IMPROVED FROM EARLIER SUBMISSION]"
Link to Original Source
Sun Microsystems

+ - Sun Microsystems: What are your theories?

Submitted by
Futurepower(R)
Futurepower(R) writes "Why has Sun Microsystems not done particularly well in the last few years? Why are they finding it necessary to sell themselves to Oracle? My theory is that the highly reliable hardware Sun Microsystems sells is no longer popular because it is far cheaper to use consumer-grade hardware with software that is fault-tolerant. The excellent 2008 book Planet Google describes Google's experiences on page 54: "For about $278,000 in 2003, [Google] could assemble a rack with 176 microprocessors, 176 gigabytes of memory, and 7 terabytes of disk space. This compared favorably to a $758,000 server sold by the manufacturer of a well-known brand, which had only eight multiprocessors, one-third the memory, and about the same amount of disk space."

Why would Oracle buy Sun? Possibly because there are difficulties in making Oracle database products work with the new fault-tolerant technology. For example, fault-tolerant technology may require performing all database modifications on 4 computers at the same time, and Oracle may not want to sell 4 licenses for one application at the same price as the 1 license used with the more expensive high-reliability equipment.

What are your ideas about the sale of Sun, and Oracle's interest? There are many people with far more knowledge about this than I have."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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