random thoughts to oil the mind

Category: Technology Page 2 of 9

[:en]On matters relating to computer hardware, software, and other technical goodies.[:de]Beiträge über Hardware, Software und Ähnliches[:]

Key Literacy

Dieser Eintrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar.

I’m sitting at the table one morning, hands cradling a warm mug, that rich smell of coffee hanging in the air. The sun is shining down on a brand new day, only the chittering of birds offering their choral backdrop to an otherwise blank canvas. Then a vibration on the windowsill accompanied by a tinny melody. Dad’s calling.

‘The battery in my car key’s dead,’ he tells me, apparently standing in front of his locked car on the car park, desperately pressing the transponder. ‘Can you find the number to call the AA? I can’t get in the car.’

‘Why don’t you just use the key?’

‘How?’

‘Put the key in the lock and turn it.’

‘Oh, does that work?’

I was reminded of this little exchange, which already happened many months ago, by a similar but rather less amusing news report from New Zealand. A couple found themselves ‘locked’ in their car without the key, and believing there to be no way out, resorted to pomping the horn to attract attention, and attempting to smash through the window with a car jack. They didn’t think of unlocking the door in the regular manner.

Eventually the couple were rescued by neighbours after over 12 hours in the vehicle, with the women already unconscious and the man having difficulties breathing. According to the emergency services, doubtless a touch on the dramatic side, their little misadventure could have proven fatal.

How is it that we can so easily forget some of our most rudimentary tools when they are superceded? What makes us forget things we otherwise take for granted in our day to day lives so readily? These two stories may occupy two extremes in terms of their potential consequences – from the mildly humorous to the near fatal – yet whilst most of us are liable to shake our heads or brazenly laugh at others’ apparent ignorance and stupidity, it’s a situation we readily find ourselves in as we become increasingly reliant on life’s many little technological gizmos to get us through the day. As the mechanical is replaced by the digital, will any of us remember how to fix things when the machine stops?

We compare many things in life to riding a bicycle: you never forget. At least, that is, as long as it isn’t chained up, in which case you’d better hope you can remember how the key works.

Lazarus bei Firefox

This post is also available in English.

Zwar ist Lazarus damals von den Toten auferstanden, doch nun muss er wieder endgültig in Frieden ruhen. Dieses praktische Zusatzmodul für Firefox speichert all die in den Eingabefeldern einer Seite eingetippten Daten, während man arbeitet und schont man dadurch von der möglichen Katastrophe, sollte der Browser abstürzen. Leider scheint es nun von seinem Autor aufgegeben worden zu sein, denn seit einigen Monaten gibt es keine Aktualisierungen mehr und mit jedem Firefox-Update geht es ein wenig mehr kaputt, bis ich nur noch das Symbol in meinem Fenster sehe, mit dem Vermerk „Lädt …“.

Zum Glück gibt es noch Alternativen, wie zum Beispiel den Alleskönner Form History Control.

Dieser Eintrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar.

Lazarus may be risen from the dead, but it looks like he’s now been lain to rest again once and for all. This handy plug-in for Firefox, which stores what you write in input fields and staves off the frustrations of having your work lost should your browser crash, seems to have been abandoned by its author and hasn’t been updated for some time. Each progressive new version of Firefox leaves it a little more broken, to the point where I’ve sadly been left with a button that does nothing more than say ‘Loading…’ in the latest version.

Fortunately there are some other alternatives out there, including the all-singing and dancing Form History Control.

You’re in a Johnny Cab!

Obviously the technology is making leaps and bounds, but it’ll probably still be some time before the wheels of bureaucracy allow self-driving cars on our roads.

Kindle 4 WiFi Frustrations

Just had a maddening time trying to work out why a Kindle 4, which was to replace a Kindle 3, refused to connect to the family wireless. After trying all of the obvious – resetting devices, checking passwords – it was off to scour the web for a solution. All kinds of suggestions cropped up, relating to passwords or SSIDs with special characters, or wireless networks using channel 13, but none of them applied to our situation. Finally I hit upon a post which hinted that the Kindle 4, unlike its predecessor, doesn’t support WPA2 with AES encryption. Switching the router over to accept WPA/TKIP and WPA2/AES together didn’t make a difference, but the device finally logged in when I turned AES connections off altogether!

Just to paraphrase the post, Kindle 4s won’t connect to a wireless network if it:

  • uses WPA-Enterprise or WPA2-Enterprise
  • is an ad-hoc network
  • has data encryption set to AES only
  • is set to 802.11n only

Further settings that might cause problems include if the network:

  • has data encryption set to TKIP+AES (even though TKIP is available, it might not connect)
  • is set to broadcast on channels 12, 13 or 14, or it is set to automatically choose a channel and lands on one of these (USA only uses channels 1-11)
  • has a pre-shared key containing special characters

Quite why Amazon release an upgraded device with downgraded hardware is beyond me. WPA2 is hardly a recent development, and is pretty much a requirement to be fully compliant. I’m only surprised that there weren’t more users having problems and complaining. Worse is that it isn’t detailed anywhere, nor do Amazon employees themselves seem to have much clue about what their device does and does not support, judging by the number of flummoxed users on the forums. Just one more reason I’ll be sticking with paper.

Page 2 of 9

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén