The Bubblies Are Flowing At Microsoft As Windows 7 Bypasses Windows XP

Microsoft has been trying to get users of Windows XP to dump their old computers or to buy a new system with Windows 7 installed. Most of the older Windows XP machines could not be upgraded to Windows 7 because of the steep hardware requirements. So Microsoft has patiently been waiting for the day that Windows XP would finally be over taken by Windows 7. That day has finally arrived but the numbers are very, very close. Windows XP users garner 31.56% and Windows 7 now stands at 31.71% for users in the United States.

It is hard to believe that Windows XP was released almost 10 years ago in August 2001. It is also hard to believe how long Windows XP has remained a viable operating system. I had previously mentioned that both my dentist’s office and local TV stations still were using Windows XP. So it still may take Microsoft another 10 years before they see the last of Windows XP.

So what does this tell us about Windows XP? I believe it demonstrates Microsoft’s ability to build a reliable operating system that just flat-out works. I know that over the years we hear about how wonderful Mac OS is, but the fact is that even Windows XP has double the amount of users compared to all those who are running all versions of the Mac OS. That in itself says quite a bit about a 10-year-old operating system.

But there is one statistic that might not make the folks at Microsoft happy. Worldwide use for Windows XP still remains at about 48%. So while the people in the US may be buying new computers with Windows 7 installed, the rest of the world is hanging onto their old computers using Windows XP.

How long do you think before Windows 7 over takes Windows XP for worldwide use?

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – Royal Pingdom

Source – Statcounter

Is Craigslist Good Enough To Go Unchallenged?

I don’t believe anyone could deny the fact that Craigslist is not noted for its fancy GUI nor for its flashy Web site. If anything, one could be critical of how Craigslist presents the ads as it does — in such a fashion that appears outdated. The simplicity of the design has not been changed since Craigslist was started, yet the site continues to rack in some $100M a year in revenue. Working with a couple of dozen workers in an older building in San Francisco, one would never suspect that the building housed a multi-million dollar a year business.

What is surprising is that no one has challenged Craigslist a la Facebook to take these folks on. What is also surprising is that Craigslist still functions using an archaic system that does not support the latest smart phone, tablet, or Apple iPad technologies.

So why is it that Craigslist remains so popular and basically has no competition? It could be that Craigslist is so simple it is what attracts people to the site. The atmosphere is low-key and it is just a bunch of people trying to unload their treasures and do so for free. It is a combination of simplicity and no charge for selling anything that keeps attracting sellers and buyers.

I have used Craigslist for both buying and selling my personal items. What is actually interesting is that I do not give the Web site design a single thought. In fact, I couldn’t care less how it looks. As long as I can buy and sell for free, what it looks like is not a concern of mine.

What about you? Do you care how Craigslist looks? How has your buying and selling experience been?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Quora

Kansas Has Dorothy, Toto, And Now Google Broadband

In the year 1939, the movie industry released several movies that, over the years, have become classics. Movies such as Stagecoach, Gone With The Wind, Of Mice And Men, Beau Geste, and the Wizard Of Oz. The film the Wizard of Oz featured a young girl named Dorothy who, along with her dog Toto, are whisked away in a tornado from their home in Kansas and dropped into the land of Oz. The movie put Kansas in the limelight, but now the state has another distinction for which many have applied.

When Google had announced that it would select a city in the US to install and test a new high-speed broadband system, over 1,100 cities applied. If I recall, one city in Kansas [Topeka] changed its name to Google in an attempt to gain attention to itself when it applied. But in the end it was Kansas City, Kansas that won the contest and has been selected by Google as its new test bed for what Google says will be broadband at speeds that are 100 times faster than what most Americans have.

So how is Google going to be able to meet these types of speed? The company states that it will be using ultra high-speed fiber optic connections. Google also states that the increase in speeds will allow streaming of HD video, video conferencing, and other new innovations to the people of Kansas City.

It should be interesting to see how this project impacts the city — not only the people, but also the businesses. The project is expected to be completed sometime in 2012.

Comments welcome.

Source – Google Blog

The U.S. Patent Office And Its Claim Of Shame

Yesterday Microsoft took to the legal avenues of redress in an attempt to address what it alleges are patent violations by a variety of companies that use Android. It even filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, which is already struggling to remain afloat in these economically challenged times. So not to show any partiality, Microsoft is also going after Foxconn and Inventec for their participation in making the company’s Nook e-reader. Many are seeing this as an attack on the Google Android operating system and claim Microsoft is doing this since it cannot compete against Android. Whatever the situation and whatever your feeling either in favor or against Microsoft, there is a far bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

The United States Patent Office has handed out patents for technology in which there is a high probability that the governmental agency did little investigation into the legitimacy of the claim. There is also a high probability that claims for a patent have been made by some companies even when there was sufficient proof in concept that the idea was developed by another. An example that patents have been issued for dubious technological claims is when Amazon secured its famous ‘Amazon “1-Click” Patent.’ Though the U.S. Patent Office granted the patent, the European Patent Office refused to grant it.

The lunacy in which patents were issued for claims on inventions not being fully invented by the person or company applying for the patent continues to be a thorn in the side of technology. With billions of dollars at stake for some of the technology companies located in the United States, it is easier to sue than try to compete against rivals when a company infringes on a perceived patent. One would think that our Congress is aware of the situation but has ignored revamping the U.S. Patent Office and conduct a reexamination of claims being made before allowing them to clog up the courts.

There is also one other minor issue. If Microsoft wants to go after Android, wouldn’t it make sense just to sue Google?

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – All About Microsoft

One-Fifth Of Computer Chips Come From Japan – Prices To Rise While Supplies Shrink

The devastation and loss of life continues to make the news as the people of Japan survey the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami. We are now learning that some of the nuclear power plants in Japan could be leaking dangerous amounts of radiation and it is not clear how this danger may affect the country. What is known is that some 20% of the world’s supply of various computer chips are produced in Japan, and with dwindling supplies the cost is starting to rise. Though these price increases will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher pricing, what is unknown is what effect it will have in the production of new and existing products.

Apple sold out of its popular iPad 2 tablet computers last weekend. It is being said that the waiting list is now four weeks before you can expect delivery of a new unit. But now with the disaster in Japan looming, and the unknown availability of chips from the country, this could impact just how soon the units will actually arrive in the US. In addition, other companies such as Toshiba, Canon, and Sony have shut down their plants, and it is unknown if and when they will start up again. These companies make products that are used in a large variety of products including LCD panels and parts.

Texas Instruments, which has two major plants producing chips in Japan, has stated that its plants will be down until at least July. It is also not known how long other plants may be closed nor when they will return to production.

What could be the biggest disruption and which could also affect production of chips is the unknown effect that the nuclear plants exploding and radiation leaks will have around the country. In addition, the Japanese auto plants have ceased production of new cars, because parts distribution has also been disrupted. The entire Japanese economy is teetering with all of these unknowns and the possible ramifications that could ripple around the world.

While many of us believed that 2011 would be filled with new tablet computers from various companies challenging the Apple iPad, this may be delayed until next year or beyond.  IHS iSuppli gave us some insight into the situation when it stated that a two-week supply disruption would be felt until the third quarter of this year. One can only guess that if the supply of chips went on for months at a time that this could disrupt the distribution of new devices into next year or beyond.

My prayers are with the people of Japan and I would hope you would join me.

Comments welcome.

Source – Reuters

Does Using Electronic Devices Before Going To Bed Interrupt Our Sleep Patterns?

Researchers at the National Sleep Foundation are making some correlations between our use of electronic devices and the lack of sleep some of us experience. The report states that 43% of people between 13 to 64 years old report sleep disturbances and dissatisfaction in the amount of sleep they get each night. The most disturbing fact is that the report indicates that 95% of those surveyed used some type of electronic device before bed. The survey included devices such as televisions, computers, laptops, cell phones, and video games and were segregated by age groups. Each of the different age groups had a preference in which technology they preferred to use before going to bed.

The report uses the following breakdown in ages:

Baby boomers (46-64 year olds)
Generation X’ers (30-45 year olds)
Generation Y’ers (19-29 year olds)
Generation Z’ers (13-18 year olds)

The device used most often by all age groups before falling to sleep was the television. I fall into this group since we have an HDTV in the bedroom and enjoy watching programs that we have previously recorded on our home DVR service from DirecTV. The younger generations indicated in the survey that video game playing was what they like to do before bed. All groups indicated that surfing the Internet before bedtime was also popular. The younger generations also indicated they like to send and receive texts before going to bed as well.

I think the most disturbing fact in the report was that one in ten claimed they were woken at night by a text message. This is where I draw the line in my cell phone use. Who wants to be woken in the middle of the night to answer some silly text message that can wait until the morning? I have enough problems sleeping without setting myself up to be woken up in the middle of the night. Even those Facebook messages can wait until the morning.

So what do people do, according to the report, to combat insufficient sleep? They consume a copious amount of caffeine and also take naps. Again, this is me. When I have a bad sleep night, a nap is in order to refresh myself and continue on the day with a better attitude. I am fortunate to be in a position to nap, since I work out of the house to do my blogging here at LockerGnome.

There was one piece of advice in the report that I think I am personally going to try. The report stated that if you must nap, keep the napping under 45 minutes and before 3:00pm. I already do the other no-nos such as avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before going to sleep. I also try not to take my daily stresses to bed and like my sleeping environment cool when I sleep.

So what do you think? Do you believe that electronic devices play a significant role in preventing us from getting a good night’s sleep?

Comments welcome.

Source – National Sleep Foundation

If Online Retailers Are Forced To Pay State Sales Tax, Will You Stop Shopping On The Internet?

The battle between the states and online retailers such as Amazon and others is about to become more heated. Both sides have drawn lines in the sand and are not going to budge no matter how many threats are made. Amazon, because of its huge Web presence, seems to be the main target that the states are focusing on. The main thrust of the states appears to be the premise that if you have a physical presence in our state, you must collect sales tax. Amazon has sought protection from a claim by the state of Texas, stating that its distribution center, located in Texas, was an affiliate of Amazon. In the state of California, Amazon has threatened to cut off some 10,000 affiliates that make a living selling products on Amazon. Neither Texas nor California seem to be backing down and other states are now joining the effort to tax online sales. The states are claiming that the lack of online sales tax also hurts local brick and mortar stores, because the large online retailers can sell items that cost consumers less, especially when it comes to expensive electronics. States also claim that they are losing billions in sales tax revenues. States further state that shopping locally provides jobs, which is good for the local economy. Tax opponents claim that city, county, state, and federal governments have overspent these tax dollars for frivolous pet projects. It is also claimed by some that taxing online sales would become a nightmare for some smaller retailers online who would also be forced into having to collect taxes. This in turn would force many mom and pop online companies out of business. No matter whether a sales tax is imposed or not, I believe I would continue to shop online. I enjoy the convenience of letting my fingers do the work without having to go to a store and fight the crowds to obtain the same product. I also find it less expensive to shop online now that gas prices are continuing to climb. So for me it is more about convenience than cost. Don’t get me wrong. I checked out prices as well to make sure I am getting the best deal. But what about you? Would you stop shopping online if sales tax was imposed? Comments welcome. Source – SF Gate

Blogging Died Yesterday And No One Told Me

Yesterday the New York Times posted a story, or maybe I should call it a tale, of two young people who quit blogging. Nobody was visiting their Web sites so they fled on over to Twitter or Facebook where the world recognized their talents. The youths were then able to reach their target audience, which in the article was vaguely described.

Citing facts from PEW, in its ‘The Internet and American Life Project,’ blogging in the 12 to 17-year-old group fell 50%. We are than presented with other facts that claim that older folks seem to read blogs and their numbers have increased by 4%. But it was this one statement that best describes what is really going on:

“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs,” Ms. Camahort Page said. “You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”

Writing this article I already exceeded the 140 letter limit and I am not finished with what I have to say. In the original PEW report cited in the article, it also went on to state that some 14% of all online users blog, up from 11% from 2008. This fact alone is fairly amazing. That means that at least 1 in 10 people are writing something online, in addition to what they post on Twitter or Facebook.

So the title of the New York Times article, ‘Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites like Twitter,’ is slightly misleading. If the numbers show that blogging has actually increased overall, maybe the title should have been ‘Young Tweet More Than They Blog.’ Blogging isn’t dead and I am extremely glad it hasn’t died. I enjoy writing here at Lockergnome and I am looking forward to doing so for many years to come.

I believe many of us who blog also post on Twitter and are members of Facebook. I know I belong to both and enjoy social networking. I believe that blogs and social networking sites work very well together.

I am sure that everyone here at Lockergnome appreciates you, the loyal readers, for stopping by and reading our blogs.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

Source – PEW report

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Is Open For Business

The government wants to protect us from those financial institutions that would take advantage consumers. So in order to protect us poor souls from being swindled, they have open up another government agency called The Consumer Protection Bureau. I went over and checked out their website and it is stated that they are under the construction phase so be patient. But what I found interesting was their purpose, which is to protect us from financial companies that would take advantage of us. They also have listed real consumer horror stories by victims who were taken advantage of. Their mission statement is:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will make sure consumers have the information they need to choose the consumer financial products and services that are best for them. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a student loan, or a mortgage, you may have felt like you were signing your name to pages of incomprehensible fine print—and weren’t quite sure what was in there. Fine print can hide fees and rate increases, allowing companies to advertise one low price when the real price is much higher. Fine print can also make it impossible to make a direct comparison between two different loans because differences that could cost a lot of money are difficult to see and understand. The CFPB will work to ensure that financial companies make the true price clear to consumers so they can compare prices and features of consumer financial products and services and make the decisions that are best for them. Companies shouldn’t compete by figuring out how to fool you best. Transparency means that markets really work for consumers—and that means that companies will be rewarded for offering lower prices or better features.

Stop the presses. This statement bothers me:

and that means that companies will be rewarded for offering lower prices or better features.

Rewarded how? By the government? This is where the government is failing us. The government should not be in the business of rewarding financial institutions for playing by the rules. I have a better idea. Arrest those who scam consumers and put them in jail. This does two things. It gets the crook off the street and sends a message to other lenders that they will be prosecuted as well. No country club Federal prisons for these guys either. We put them in a nice violent prison population climate and in a cell with big Buba who needs a friend. A real close friend that can teach them the error of their ways. :-)

What do you think?

Reward the nice financial companies or punish the bad ones?

Which makes more sense to you?

Comments welcome.

Source – CFPB

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7 Major Airlines Offer Facebook For Free On Flights – Do We Really Need This?

Facebook, the most popular social networking Web site on the Internet, will now be offered free on flights for seven of the largest airlines, which include Virgin America, United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, AirTran, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines. But before you get too excited about the offer, this is a limited time promotion being offered by Gogo. The company is hoping that by allowing users to try its Wi-Fi service that they may wish to pay for inflight Internet services, which range in price starting at $4.95 for a short flight and $ 12.95 for a long flight. Currently the Wi-Fi services are only being offered on domestic flights.

One article also states:

Virgin, the first airline to launch a Wi-Fi fleet, says up to one-third of its passengers log on to Gogo. One of its more popular routes, San Francisco to Boston, is called the “nerd bird” by Virgin crew members. The top task on Gogo is e-mail, Gogo says.

While I was reading this article it suddenly dawned on me. We are spending way too much time being connected to the Internet. The Internet is starting to consume most of our waking hours. Yesterday I mentioned to someone that there was a storm hitting the mid section of the U.S., and they were not even aware of it. They stated they had their nose in the laptop all day and obviously this did not include current events.

I must admit that I am just as much at fault as the next person. I spend a majority of my day surfing the Internet, answering emails, and looking around Facebook.

But I have an excuse. My surfing in general is to look for interesting articles to write about — articles like this that I believe readers would want to know about.

But what is everyone else doing on the Internet that they would need to Google when they fly?

What is your opinion? Are we spending too much time on the Internet or is there a real need to fly and surf?

Share your opinions with us.

Comments welcome.

Proposal To Turn Off Internet In The U.S. During ‘Cybersecurity Emergency’

News about how the Egyptian Government was able to effectively turn off the Internet and cell phone service made headlines during the period of unrest that the country is experiencing. But there is also a plan that is being proposed here in the U.S. that would also turn off the Internet for U.S. citizens during times of a ‘Cybersecurity Emergency.’ The bill has been floating around since June of 2010 and is being co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Collins. A vote is expected later in 2011, since after some criticism, the bill has been modified and is still being circulated.

According to one article the proposal would work like this:

Lieberman and Collins’ solution is one of the more far-reaching proposals. In the Senators’ draft bill, “the President may issue a declaration of an imminent cyber threat to covered critical infrastructure.” Once such a declaration is made, the director of a DHS National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications is supposed to “develop and coordinate emergency measures or actions necessary to preserve the reliable operation, and mitigate or remediate the consequences of the potential disruption, of covered critical infrastructure.

I think that the idea of having a way to protect the Internet here in the U.S. is a good idea, especially during a mass cyber attack. But the majority of these attacks come from outside of the U.S. How about a system where we could block access from outside of the U.S., and keep the Internet functioning in our country? To me that makes more sense.

Another question I would ask is what exactly is a ‘Cybersecurity Emergency?’ This needs further explanation.

Opinions, please.

Comments welcome.

Source – Wired

Source – Boing Boing

Train Station Closes Public Restrooms – Passengers Pissed Off

At the New Rochelle, New York train station, passengers are having to hold it because the public restrooms have been closed. It seems that the city fathers and daughters have decided that keeping the pee holes open is way to expensive, so that have closed them for public use. This means that passengers, taxi drivers, the homeless and anyone with a full bladder will have to seek relief elsewhere. Needless to say that this has not been a huge hit with the public, some of whom complain that people do have emergencies and now have no place to relieve themselves.

According to one recent report it also stated that:

New Rochelle’s City Manager Charles Strome said vandalism has become a problem and the city simply can’t afford to monitor the bathrooms on a regular basis.

“Our police department has ceded a 10-percent reduction in staff so we don’t have regular patrols there like we used to. So all in all it was costing us a significant amount of money to keep the bathrooms open at the train station,” Strome said.

I like this one the best:

City Manager Strome’s suggestion: skip the station, and use the bathrooms on the train.

Wonder if you are not taking the train? I guess you will have to go elsewhere.

But I recall a day in which public restrooms were pay only. You would deposit a coin to unlock the door, which helped to defray the cost of keeping the restroom clean and tidy. No money in your pocket? You always had the option to slither under the door.

What suggestions do you have to solve this problem?

Comments welcome.

Source – CBS New York

House In Idaho Listed For $66k Less Than Market Value – Snake Infested

The American dream of home ownership has taken a hit during the past few years, as foreclosures and bankruptcies have flooded the real estate industry. So in most cities there is now a glut of properties usually priced below what they once commanded during the heyday of high prices. But one real estate company seems to be trying to unload one residence some $66k below market value because it is snake infested. The snakes, thousands of them, are not venomous, but have been impossible to exterminate.

How bad is the infestation? Well the original owners walked away from the house and let it go into foreclosure. According to one article it stated that:

It was taken over by the lender, Chase Bank. Now Realty Quest associate broker Todd Davis is faced with the daunting task of trying to sell it.

That task would be hard enough with the current market, but once the slithery occupants are factored in, you have to feel a pang of sympathy for the optimistic Mr Davis.

Even his decision to slash the price from the estimated value of $175,000 to $109,000 may not be enough.

A pest inspector has estimated they are living in the house in their thousands.

‘It’s not a problem, it’s an infestation,’ Mr Davis bravely continues. ‘It’s been a horrible experience.’

It seems that the home is located in an area where the snakes have a den. Unfortunately the home was built in an area that the snakes return each fall with their family. I guess they use the house for family reunions. :-)

I recall a story, not sure if it was true, about a house in Reno, NV. Apparently they had a similar problem. The home was built on a den of snakes. But in this case it was a rattlesnake den. The house was eventually torn down because they could not get rid of the infestation of rattlers.

Personally I wouldn’t inhabit the house if they were giving it away.

Comments welcome.

Source – mail online

Were You A Vonage Customer Before January 3, 2011? You May Be Entitled To Some Cash

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey has reached an agreement with Vonage America, Inc., Vonage Holdings Corp., and Vonage Marketing LLC, in the amount of $4.75 million dollars. Vonage is accused of deceptive and unlawful activities when it came to promotional gimmicks and disconnection charges the company charged to customers. Vonage has denied any wrongdoing in the matter. On the claims Web site, it has listed who may be eligible to file a claim.

Here are the requirements:

The Court decided that the Class includes anyone in the United States who subscribed to Vonage services on or before January 3, 2011, with certain exclusions, and was unable to receive a full month of free service, did not receive a full money back guarantee under certain circumstances, was charged disconnection fees after cancellation or paid for monthly service after requesting cancellation.

How much money can you get?

The proposed Settlement provides four categories of relief. Class Members may be entitled to receive benefits from more than one category, although no Class Member will be entitled to receive both the benefit contained in Category 1 (“One Month Free Claims”) and Category 2 (“Money Back Guarantee Claims”). The categories and benefits, prior to any pro rata reduction as set forth above, are as follows:





Forms for filing a claim will not be available online on  February 2, 2011. At this time I will be filing a claim under Category 4, disconnection. When I canceled my service from Vonage, it clipped me for just about $40. :-(

Outside of this, I was pleased with the Vonage service. Call quality was clear and the system worked very well for me. Plus the price was about half the price that AT&T wanted for a landline.

Source – You can file your claim by click on this link.

Super Street Traffic Design Reroutes Left Turn Traffic

Where I live, we have two recently redesigned intersections, in which left hand turns have been eliminated. Called double crossover diamond interchange, it basically eliminates the need for left hand turns in front of oncoming traffic. At the North Carolina State University they have a similar proposal to reroute traffic by eliminating left turns at intersections. The new design is not meant for freeways, but instead is meant for thoroughfares where side streets intersect.

What is impressive about the super street design is that it is estimated that the design will reduce travel time by about 20%. In addition this type of traffic design will also reduce fuel usage by making traffic move more efficiently. Below is a picture of the proposed super street design:

In a recent article it also states that:

The researchers assessed travel time at superstreet intersections as the amount of time it takes a vehicle to pass through an intersection from the moment it reaches the intersection – whether traveling left, right or straight ahead. The travel-time data were collected from three superstreets located in eastern and central North Carolina, all of which have traffic signals. The superstreet collision data were collected from 13 superstreets located across North Carolina, none of which have traffic signals.

The superstreet concept has been around for over 20 years, but little research had been done to assess its effectiveness under real-world conditions. The NC State study is the largest analysis ever performed of the impact of superstreets in real traffic conditions.

The complete paper will be presented on January 24, 2011 to the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. , and hopefully the design will be under consideration in future designs.

In addition to smoother traffic flow, the new design will also reduce traffic collisions by an estimated 63%.

What do you think of the idea?

Comments welcome.

Source – North Carolina State University