Google Restores Lost Gmail Accounts – Could This Incident Hurt Cloud Computing?

There are things that we experience in life that we never forget. When I was a senior in high school our history teacher mentioned something that I never forgot. As a youngster he recalled newspaper articles that covered the Korean war, which stated that only [fill in the blank] American troops were killed. He went on to state that the number didn’t really matter, especially if you were one of the ones that was killed.

Google Gmail suffered an outage for some 39,000 Gmail account holders, which was, the company was quick to point out, less than 0.02% of its entire account base of some 150 million users. The company also was quick to point out that its Gmail services were spread over multiple data centers and that the Gmail accounts were not lost, just misplaced. Google also stated that all of the information would be restored and every user would have their information returned.

I couldn’t even imagine waking up yesterday morning to have your Google Gmail stuff gone. My first thought would be, who do I call? Google has been criticized for a lack of phone technical support services and I recalled the problem I had when my own personal account was disabled several years ago. It took me four days of emails to get my account restored fully, which was a giant pain in the butt.

Many of you know that I have been beta testing Google’s Chrome OS Cr-48. When I had issues not being able to connect to the Verizon 3G, I posted a bug report and I was contacted by a Google representative. The problem was resolved and I felt like I had received special treatment from the Google Chrome OS team. But others who have had issues with their Gmail accounts have expressed the lack of support as a real concern.

Though I realize that the services Google offers are free, it needs to address the lack of technical support and the concerns users have. Since Google is trying to convince users to store their personal files online in its Cloud, what happens if your stuff is unavailable one day? What are we users supposed to do? Who do we call?

If Google is to convince us to buy its Chrome OS computers and trust all of our important documents to it and it alone, Google will need to change its current support system. I want someone to call and I want to speak to a real person. I would also prefer to speak to someone who speaks English as their primary language.

Is this asking too much? What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Google Gmail Blog

We Come Not To Praise Pontiac, We Come To Bury It!

Most of us have already read that GM has axed the Pontiac automobile. I just have one question. Why Pontiac? Pontiac has always represented the ‘sport element’ of GM, a distinction that started with the GTO. I remember seeing my first ‘Goat’ as we called them when I was in high school. Damn fine machine with a HO 389 engine, 3 dueces [that is 3,  2 barrel carbs], and a 4 speed. There was even a song about the car from Ronnie and the Daytonas which was their first and only hit record.

But for a generation of boomers, cars were more than just a hunk of metal that transported you somewhere. Cars were an expression of who you were, or more aptly put, who you wanted to be. The GTO belted out 360 horsepower and did 0-60 m.p.h. in about 6 seconds. This was a breed of car that came straight from the factory and was ready for race day right out of the crate.

Safety features? Yeah right! The only safety feature I recall was padded dashboards that replaced the metal ones that would crack your skull open like a grapefruit. Belted ply tires, drum brakes all around and stoping was about the same as a freight train. LOL But they were fast machines meant to be driven in one direction only. Straight. None of the muscle cars were engineered for cornering.

Here is a look at a GTO:

So long GTO, so long Firebird, so long Grand Prix and TransAm. You will be missed.

Comments welcome.

PS The last time I was in the Bay Area I rented a Grand Prix. I’m glad I did. It was a blast to drive.

Dell Issues BIOS Updates For Laptops – Important

If you own a Dell laptop system, I would highly recommend that you check on the source link below, to determine whether your computer is in need of a BIOS update. It appears that NVIDIA GPU may prematurely fail on select Dell systems, if the BIOS fix is not done. If you are already experiencing video problems, a BIOS update will not help. Hopefully your system will still be under warranty or the repairs will cost you to a fix. In their blog Dell states:

Though this issue is not unique to Dell, some of these affected GPUs are used in certain Dell laptops. That’s why I wanted to take a few minutes here to explain the issue and to let customers know what to do next. The issue is a weak die/packaging material set, which may fail with GPU temperature fluctuations. If your GPU fails, you may see intermittent symptoms during early stages of failure that include:

  • Multiple images
  • Random characters on the screen
  • Lines on the screen
  • No video

Dell recommends that you flash your system BIOS (see links in the table below). Each of these BIOS updates listed in the table below modifies the fan profile to help regulate GPU temperature fluctuations. Note: if you are already experiencing video-related issues like the bullet points above, updating the BIOS will not correct them. Dell will provide support for customers who have experienced GPU failure according to the terms of the system warranty.

These BIOS updates will help reduce the likelihood of GPU issues. New systems are being shipped with the updated BIOS revisions. Here’s the list of the latest BIOS versions. Click on the links below to download them.

Dell Product NameBIOS RevisionDateUpdate File Name
Inspiron 1420

A09

7/14/081420_A09.EXE
Latitude D630

A12

6/22/08D630_A12.EXE
Latitude D630c

A06

7/11/08D630CA06.EXE
Precision M2300

A07

7/11/08M2300A07.EXE
Vostro Notebook 1310

A10

7/10/08V1310-A10.EXE
Vostro Notebook 1400

A09

7/10/081400_A09.EXE
Vostro Notebook 1510

A10

7/10/08V1510A10.EXE
Vostro Notebook 1710

A07

7/10/08V1710A07.EXE
XPS M1330

A12

7/9/08M1330A12.EXE
XPS M1530BIOS will be available before the end of July

If you need help flashing your system BIOS or experience any of the video-related issues listed above, please contact Dell Technical Support. Our teams are committed to working with affected customers to resolve issues on a case-by-case basis.

If you have not updated a BIOS before, may I suggest you contact Dell before trying the procedure. If the BIOS update fails, your system could be rendered inoperable.

Comments welcome.

Source.

Dell's New Premium Service Coming Soon

One would think that Dell would of shouted this from the roof tops, but they have chose to simply put out a news release on their new Premium Support Service. In seems the once #1 computer company, has listened to customers and is going to provide ‘old fashioned’ technical support once again. You remember the old Dell technical support? Support people that actually would solve your problem and who spoke English.

On their site Dell says:

To further enhance a great customer experience, Dell today announced forthcoming expansion of its consumer services offerings aimed at delighting customers and helping them get more out of their digital lifestyle.

Dell’s new premium support service is to provide a dedicated team of technical professionals which customers can contact directly for support of any Dell-branded product. This new fee-based offering is designed specifically for those customers who want to engage with the same dedicated team each time they have an issue with any of their in-warranty Dell-branded products.

The premium service offer provides household support by an advanced support team in North America for one year. The technicians are empowered to address a comprehensive range of issues across the breadth of Dell’s product line.

“Our commitment to a great customer experience has never been stronger,” said Ray Roman, vice president Dell global consumer services and support. . “This premium service is all about making the tech support experience more personal; users who want high-touch support can now receive it. We’re excited to bring them to the market.”

In the future Dell is looking to expand this type of service to retail customers as well those who purchase Dell products online.

Comments welcome.

Full Dell article is here.

[tags]dell, service, premium, technical, support, program, dedicated, help, [/tags]

Microsoft Open Source Pledge – Lawyers Say No Way

The legal community for Open Source are saying that Microsoft’s pledge for Open Specifications under the GPL is not true. Citing some inconsistencies such as these:

Irrevocable but Only for Now

Microsoft makes its promise “irrevocably,” but upon careful reading of the entire OSP, this promise is weakened considerably in the definition of Covered Specifications. In that provision, Microsoft clarifies that:

New versions of previously covered specifications will be separately considered for addition to the list.

Because of this narrow definition of the covered specifications, no future versions of any of the specifications are guaranteed to be covered under the OSP. Each new version is subject to Microsoft’s ongoing discretion on a case by case basis. In other words, every time a specification changes, Microsoft can effectively revoke the OSP as it had applied to previous versions of that same specification. Microsoft states that it will commit to renewal of the promise for future versions of specifications subject to standardizing activity “to the extent that Microsoft is participating in those efforts,” which means that Microsoft reserves the right to cancel the promise with respect even to standardized specifications, by merely withdrawing from the relevant standard-setting workgroup or activity. While technically an irrevocable promise, in practice the OSP is good only for today.

Are the lawyers just being cautious or do have they come to distrust any promise made by the Redmond software giant? What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Full article is located here.

[tags]microsoft, gpl, lawyers, osp, specifications, technical, promise, practice, [/tags]

The Union Of The Technical And Non-Technical

In the past, it has always been my mother who has stolen the spotlight with her lack of technical knowledge and skills. Her odd questions and comments have been the topic of a few of my articles. However, I recently married someone whom I believe has less technical knowledge and skills than her. I’m still undecided, but leaning slightly more towards my husband after his most recent blunder.

Last Christmas I bought my husband a small, sixty-dollar RCA MP3 player that he could take to the gym. It was a risky gift but I bought the least complicated one I could find. I loaded it up with his favorite songs, explained what it did and showed him how to turn it on, play songs, and turn it off.

Aside from seeing it strapped to his wrist when he left for the gym that was the last I heard about the MP3 player – until last week when my son decided that he wanted to purchase a similar one. I asked my husband to come to the store with me to pick one out for him. My husband’s response was: “He gets an MP3 player before I do? He is only 9.”

Recalling his Christmas gift from last year, I was a little confused by his comment. I proceeded to remind him that he did indeed own one and questioned whether he had lost it or forgotten about it. This went back and forth for a few minutes. Finally, my husband got annoyed and went on to tell me that he did not own an MP3 player. He had an iPod.

Imagine my surprise to know that I had purchased a small, sixty-dollar RCA iPod. Who knew such a thing existed? Needless to say, instead of carrying on with the conversation, I continue to let my husband go to the gym each day knowing he has his iPod strapped to his wrist.

Steal This Computer Book 4.0: What They Won't Tell You About the Internet by Wallace Wang

Concepts included in this manual include encryption (explaining PGP, stynography and Blowfish) which is the hiding of text or messages in graphics, however, while the entire 370-page book tends to surround political problems the simple explanations of what are actually interesting concepts are written well below the intelligence level of the average adult. However, maybe it is this easy reading, with its very practical and entertaining style, that the first time user will find beneficial when presented with the writer’s multitude of insights into the use of the internet. The book further offers a glimpse into the world of hackers (why they do what they do) and what the average user can do to protect themselves against an intrusion into their privacy. Another benefit of the book is its accompanying CD that offers security-related software such as Spyware blockers and spam filters, some of which are already outdated but still effective.

Unfortunately, since I am current with modern technology and software I was disappointed that the fourth revision of this book still contained references to MS-DOS and other programs that are outdated and passé. Overall the book offers such a variety of different topics on the Internet from P2P applications to finding wireless networks making it no wonder that the author can’t be current with all aspects of what he has tried to cover.

For more information on this manuel you may want to use your Google search engine.


[tags]book review, technical, computer, Steal This Computer Book 4.0 by Wallace Wang- Internet, instruction manual[/tags]

Microsoft PowerToys For Windows XP

I’ve been using Microsoft PowerToys since they were first introduced for Windows 95. Back then they had limited functionality and were mainly used to tweak Windows. In fact one of the most useful tools was called TweakUI. Starting with Windows XP, Microsoft expanded PowerToys to 15 tools all with a specific purpose that is described on their site. You will also notice that among the tools is still TweakUI, which still remains one of my favorites.

Microsoft describes PowerToys as: “PowerToys add fun and functionality to the Windows experience. What are they? PowerToys are additional programs that developers work on after a product has been released.

Note: We take great care to ensure that PowerToys work as they should, but they are not part of Windows and are not supported by Microsoft. For this reason, Microsoft Technical Support is unable to answer questions about PowerToys. PowerToys are for Windows XP only.”

Is TweakUI still available for other versions of Windows ? YES! You can still find it on the web and it will also work with Windows 98, ME, NT & 2000.

So take PowerToys for a spin and see what you think. Enjoy and happy computing.

Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP

TweakUI for all other versions of Windows

[tags]Microsoft, PowerToys, Windows, experience, Technical, Support[/tags]