Thursday, February 19, 2009

Texting and Driving

Almost everyone these days has a cell phone or two. Heck they practically issue them to you at birth, and don't get me wrong they are a real convenience (and nascence). They allow us to stay connected to family and friends, to be a far more mobile workforce, and provide a invaluable tool to get help in an emergency. However they also allow us to endanger our lives far move easily especially behind the wheel. Many states have now made talking on a cell phone or sending text messages while driving illegal. Text messaging while driving in particular sounds like a deadly pass-time while driving.

There is one angle to this situation that I haven't quite figured out however. Why have the cell phone manufactures not stepped in to help save us from ourselves as the auto manufactures have done. After all we have seat belts, air bags, and even speed control systems all designed to help keep us safe in the event of an auto accident. Why are there no safety features on our cell phones?

I challenge cell phone manufactures to utilize the GPS technology that it already built in to most modern cellular devices to develop technology to disable the device from either sending or receiving phone calls and text messages when moving above a certain speed. Let's say 10 mph. Of course just as with the safety features built into automobiles the user should have the option to disable this feature if they wish. I mean you don't have to wear your seat belt if you don't want to. Besides you can easily be moving and not necessarily driving. Additionally just as there are usage controls and block features available to parents to control there kids cell phone usage let's allow parents to permanently lock this feature on and not allow there teen drivers the ability to disable it. I can only image the impact a feature like this may have on reducing the number of cell phone related accidents every year.
Posted by:
Joshua Nicholes

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lotus Notes really is the WORST application ever

A company I work for, which shall remain nameless, sadly still uses IBM's Lotus Notes. In fact they recently upgraded to version 7. After being a notes user for a few years now and working with hundreds of different software applications over the years I am convinced that Lotus Notes is in fact the WORST piece of software in existence. If you have never suffered through the difficulties of attempting to use it count yourself lucky.

First of all the user interface is extremely archaic and gives you that late 1980's feel. It looks like something that should be running on the Apple IIe right alongside the Oregon Trail. If that isn't bad enough the different user options to change configurations and settings are located in about 6 different places and nearly impossible to find in some cases. The overall layout of the program does not come anywhere near the standards of most modern Windows programs.

Second it is an absolute resource hog. Even on decent hardware it uses an incredible amount of memory and system resources while just running in the background. More than any common email client (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc...) that I have ever used.Third it lacks many features common to modern email clients unless you wish to program agents. These agents are over-complicated and difficult at best to understand. In almost every other client I have worked with these features are set-up via check boxes and simple input fields. It does however have a vacation auto responder. Unfortunately after the system receives a new message it could take hours or even days before your vacation auto response is actually sent back to the message sender.

Lastly and perhaps the most frustrating characteristic of Lotus is the fact that it is incredibly unstable and prone to crashing. When it crahses it almost always requires a system restart before it will run again. On top of all that the Lotus folks have written some of the most difficult to understand and nonsensical error messages that I have ever seen. What exactly does; "Type Mismatch" tell the user? Or another one of my personal favorites; "An error occurred while processing a request on an object"

If you are an IT administrator considering implementing Lotus Notes in your organization: DON'T. It lacks many common and useful features, it is insanely over-priced, and it is riddled with problems. If you are using it already switch to something else... fast. You'll be glad you did. And if you are poor user stuck with notes and you hate it... at least your not alone. Check out THIS SITE.

Posted by:
Joshua Nicholes

Monday, February 2, 2009

Windows 7 & the Acer Aspire One

Recently I bought my wife an Acer Aspire One as a gift. It came preloaded with Windows XP SP3, but of course I found this unacceptable. It seems a little silly to load a six year OS on a brand new PC. So, I opted to download and install Windows 7 Beta. As you may or may not know the Aspire One does not include a built in CD drive so your only option is to do an install from either an external hard drive or a USB thumbdrive, HERE are some instructions if you need to know how to do that.

The installation went off without a hitch and Win 7 found drivers for everything but the wifi card a little poking around on the net and I found THIS SITE. After installing the driver manually and a reboot everything worked fine. After using my network to install some apps and join the mini to my AD domain the mini notebook works like a champ. Even with 1 GB of ram and the Atom processor the system is surprisingly fast and stable. Able to run multiple apps and switch back and fourth with no issue.

My one criticism is that the tiny keyboard and touchpad take some getting used to but what do you expect for such a small size. Overall I am very impressed and Microsoft is true to their word. Windows 7 is truly notebook and netbook friendly. If you have an Aspire One I strongly encourage you to give Windows 7 a try.

Posted by:
Joshua Nicholes