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Category — technology

APRS Tracking is up!

Ok, so some of you may know about what APRS tracking is. APRS stands for Automatic Position Reporting System, which runs using Amature radio, GPS, and a network of interconnected stations that relay position reports around the world. I have had all of the pieces nessisary to set up and connect a APRS tracking station for quite some time, but have yet to finally get it integrated and set up in an easy to use package. Sometime soon I’ll take a few pictures and detail how I put together my system for everyone to look at. In the meantime, you can now go to http://www.tz42.com/findken.html to see where my lastest position report has come from. I figured that this was the perfect time to put the system online, as we are in the midst of a trip to NH to visit with some friends for the weekend. My plan is to mount the system in the truck, so that whenever I am off on a job I can turn the system on, and you can all see where I am at. There is a nice embedded system for display that uses google maps, play around with it, you can zoom right in close, and be sure to click on the icon for my car, which will give you information about when the position report was last updated and more information (like speed and direction of travel). Let me know what you think! Oh, and I am also currently testing out Google latitude, which I will have a review for shortly, if you are using it, add me (ken at tz42 dot com) I’d like to see if anyone else is using it.

February 20, 2009   1 Comment

25th Anniversary of the Macintosh

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Macintosh computer, so in honor of this historic day (ok, historic to me), So I decided to put together this list of the many different Macintosh computers that I have owned over the years.

MacSEFirst off, is the Macintosh SE, which was introduced in March of 1987, and originally had two floppy drives, one megabyte of RAM, and a 9 inch Black and white monitor. The model that we had was the upgraded version with an SuperDrive (FDHD) floppy drive, an internal 20 megabyte hard drive, and one megabyte of RAM. We later upgraded the RAM to 4 Megabytes, and added an external SyQuest cartridge based external hard drive, as well as eventually an external CD-ROM drive and Zip Drive.

Click here for the full specs from Lowendmac.com

 

Next came the Performa 5200/75 TV. Which might be a little hard to find out there, but yeah, we had one. The most interesting thing about this particular computer was that it had a built in NTSC tuner, so the entire computer became a television when needed. It also could function as a CD Player, considering that it actually contained a built in CD-ROM drive as well. This computer originally released in April of 1995, this was a long overdue upgrade for us considering how long we had stuck it out with the SE. Click here for the full specs

Around about the same time came my first Powerbook, which was also my first computer that was completely my own. Unfortunately this computer happened to be the Powerbook 190cs, much slower than the 5200 that we had at home. This computer I continued to use for the first two years of college as well. This model was introduced in August of 1995. Kind of amazing to think that I was actually using this computer actively up until the summer of 1999, when I got my next computer. Click here for the full specs 

Yosemite G3

During the summer after my freshman year of college (1999), I finally saved up enough money to buy a “real” computer, and bought the PowerMac G3 Blue and White, otherwise known as “Yosemite” the original specs of this machine, it had a 350Mhz G3 processor, 64Mb of RAM, and a 6 gig hard drive. This machine was such a good machine however, that It still is running as my home backup server, though it has been upgraded quite a bit. Currently this machine has a 550Mhz G4 processor, 1.25Gb of RAM, and several hard drives totaling over 250Gigs of hard drive space. Still an excellent machine, and still running almost ten years later. Click here for full specs from www.lowendmac.com

This machine was Alina’s first Mac During College, and in fact is still running at her mothers house and used daily for email and web surfing. Based upon the original iMac, this is the iMac DV SE (Digital video, Special edition) which came with a built in DVD Drive, as well as a unique graphite case. First introduced in July of 2000. Click here for full specs.

 

 

This next machine was the Powerbook 3400c, which when it was introduced in Febuary of 1997 was the fastest laptop in the world. While we were living in Vermont, I bought two of these, one for my parents and one for myself second hand from someone who specializes in refurbished older Mac laptops. I used it for a couple of years, as this was something to use to replace my venerable 190cs that had continued as my primary laptop for many years past its useful life. This machine is currently sitting in a closet waiting to get resurrected, as the PRAM battery is dead, the screen refuses to stay in one color mode, and for some reason it is stuck with the caps-lock in the on position. Click here for full specs.

During our final year in Vermont (2003), we finally decided to buy a new computer for Alina, (though I get to use it on occasion. 😀 This being our first major purchase together. The Powerbook G4 12inch was and still is Apple’s smallest full featured laptop produced, it weighs under 5 pounds and yet has a 1ghz processor 1.25gigs of RAM, and a DVD burner. An excellent computer, this laptop is still going strong, despite several nocks and scrapes. The G4 12inch was introduced in August of 2003. Click here for full specs from www.lowendmac.com 

I’m not really sure if this counts as a Mac of mine, however my parents had an iBook G3 for several years, which was mostly destroyed in a house fire in 2003, I rescued the iBook, replaced the melted keyboard, and continued to use it for an additional 3 years, burn marks and all. Unfortunately this computer was one of many that suffered from the infamous iBook motherboard failure problems, and died finally due to those problems, and not damage suffered by the fire. Click here for full specs

 

 

And Finally we arrive at my current Mac. I am currently the proud owner of a 2007 MacBook Pro 15inch, 2.2Ghz, 2gigs of RAM and 160gig internal hard drive, with a Dual Layer DVD+-R Drive. This was the first laptop by Apple to incorporate LED technology into the display, which is much brighter and clearer than previous laptop models. Although the new unibody MacBooks are interesting, I am quite happy with this computer for the time being. Click here for full specs from www.lowendmac.com

So after my many years of owning macs, I am hoping there will be many more to come in the future. 

 

January 24, 2009   No Comments

Data networks to be pounded tomorrow.

It looks like tomorrow is going to be a big day for mobile broadband in Washington DC, so much so that some of the mobile carriers are actually asking people to cut down on their cell usage during the actual event. According to the New York Times, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are all asking customers to cut back on their usage tomorrow especially in DC itself. All three major carriers are bringing in lots of extra capacity to be able to handle the call volume, this being in the form of temporary towers and COW’s (Cell On Wheels), that are being brought in to increase the capacity. 

This is a problem that honestly cannot be completely overcome. There is only so much capacity that is physically possible in one particular area, and considering that they are figuring on as many as three million people on the mall tomorrow to watch the Inauguration, that is a lot of people, who are all going to be taking pictures with their camera-phones, uploading them to flickr, facebook, and twitter amongst other places. 

I use the cell networks a lot for getting online while I am out in the truck, as well as for general communications and email. In the news industry we often use cellular telephones in the trucks for IFB (audio to the reporters ear) and PL (Producer Line) back to the station, which in this situation is going to be pretty impossible. Hopefully all of the news networks in the area all are going to be running with regular landline connections. Wireless is great, but there is only so much that it can do when demand increases. 

What is my suggestion for keeping in touch, if you are lucky enough to be down there tomorrow? Use text messaging, as text messages use an incredibly small amount of capacity to send and receive, and have a much better chance of getting though. 

This also brings up a question about overall network capacity in the area, as even if the airwaves are saturated, might the switching networks and backbones have issues tomorrow with everyone trying to send those millions of photos back through the network? I also wonder how many social networking sites will end up going down, or experiencing some downtime due to the dramatic spike in posts during such a short period of time. 

Original Article in the New York Times

January 19, 2009   No Comments