Technology’s Infestation of my Life

Examples of how technology has permeated every single bit of my life.

Suprnova.org and Others are Shut Down

Suprnova.org and Others are Shut Down

Reuters, along with just about every other news company, has reported that Suprnova.org, the popular BitTorrent site, has been shut down. While this comes as no suprise, what is suprising is the amount of P2P traffic on the Internet. CacheLogic is reporting that "Peer-to-Peer is the single largest consumer of data on ISP’s networks." Even outweighing web traffic. I had no idea P2P traffic was this big, although, in retrospect, it does seem reasonable.

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The Internet Makes Life So Easy!

For the second year in a row, I completed all my shopping online. This year, I used two online services, rather then just one (like I did last year). Despite the fact that I have to pay S&H, I think I really come out a head in the long run. Beside, what could be easier then shopping from your house. All I have to do is answer the door when the UPS guy arrives.

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Google Desktop Search

Google Desktop Search

After being around for a few months, I thought I might go ahead and try Google’s new Desktop Search. The install process was pretty painless and right now it’s indexing all my crap. It says it might take a few hours. From what I can tell, this should be very promssing!

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Is That an Apple in Your Pants? Why No Sir, It’s a Pear!

Ok. So that title probably doesn’t make the most sense, so I’ll explain it. There’s a program called PearPC. In short, it’s a PowerPC emulator for the x86 arcitecture. In english, I can run MacOSX on my Windows-based computer. And that’s what I’m doing. So what’s so novel about this? Well, persons running MacOS have been able to run Microsoft Windows under their operating system for years. The software was even supplied by Microsoft! Apple has never recipercated the favor. So some awesome genius peeps at pearpc.sourceforge.net decided to take matter into their own hands, and voila! I will keep you informed of my progress.

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Possibly the Worlds Most Connected Man

send_a_message.jpg

So my cool new toy is the Abacus by Fossil. It’s a Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) enabled watch, which means that it uses Microsoft’s MSN Direct service. SPOT works by using an FM subcarrier frequency (SCA – Subsidiary Communications Authorization) in major cities. If you are old enough to remember the change from mono to stero FM stations, the stero component ( a Left minus Right signlal) was broadcast on a SCA channel. This allowed users of mono FM recieves to still receive that signal, but users of stereo FM receivers to recieve both signals. In short, anywhere I can hear an FM radio, I can get data for my watch.

So that’s how it works, but what does it do for me? Well, to start out, the watch receives daily corrections to the time based on the atomic clock. Also, because the data signal is sent regionally, the time automatically changes based on what time zone I’m in. I also receive local, national, and international news, plus breaking news on my watch, sort of like one of those fancy pagers. Even better is the fact I get current forecast, both locally in Golden and in my Frequent Destinations (i.e. Seattle), plus international weather information. I also get wind direction and windchill information plus a three day forcast for my location. I get daily diversions which include things like quote of the day, word of the day, and this day in history. And now the really cool parts: If you use MSN Messenger and I’m on your buddy list, you can now send messages directly to my watch…as well as my cellphone. AND…and this is part I like the best and half the reason I got this watch…my Outlook Calendar syncronizes with the watch to AUTOMATICALLY alert me of appointments I have scheduled. Now how cool is that? Really! How cool is that? That is awesome, that’s how cool that is. Check out the online demo.

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Vertigio by U2

After a few week of hearing U2’s new song Vertigo on the TV in Apple’s iTunes + iPod commercial, I finally bought it. However, I used iTunes. This was the first time I used iTunes and I have to say that it was very quick and painless. I just searched for "U2 Vertigo" and it came up with the song I wanted. I had a free download, so I used that and 30 seconds later, the song was on my hard drive. It also automatically downloaded the artwork from the cover, so that was pretty spiffy. Apple’s iTunes Store is defiantly giving conventional brick and mortar stores a run for their money. Not to mention curbing illegal downloading to some extent.

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Just One of Those Days

Well, it’s been one of those really long days again. I was fortunate to have a really short Chem lab, so I was done with school at 3:30, instead of 5. I’m on the final stretch of the semester! I really can’t even believe I’ve been in school for 10.5 week already! Only 5.5 more weeks to go!
My new laptop is even more then I imagined. Using the thing is like going into space. It’s just so amazing and packed with so many technological features. It really is amazing. I hope you enjoy the version 8.1 of AFdN. The load time is twice as fast. Also be sure to check out pictures from my life @ Mines.

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How The Internet Really Works

There is a big difference between how the common user percieves how the Internet works and how it actually works. This is something I’ve been learning over the past week and it really makes me hate and appreciate the Internet more now. Let’s say you go to my website, https://www.andrewferguson.net. The first thing your browser does is check with the local Domain Name Server server. DNS servers are responsible for maintaining a listing of websites and where they point to. The DNS server will do one of four things:

  1. It can answer the request with an IP address because it already knows the IP address for the requested domain.
  2. It can contact another DNS server and try to find the IP address for the name requested. It may have to do this multiple times.
  3. It can say, "I don’t know the IP address for the domain you requested, but here’s the IP address for a DNS server that knows more than I do."
  4. It can return an error message because the requested domain name is invalid or does not exist.

Herein lies the key to why the Internet is a crazy place. Everything has to be specified. There are 9 types of records: A, AAAA/IPv6, SOA, MX, NS, rDNS, CNAME, PTR, and TXT. Here is the DNS record for this website:

andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN SOA ns0.xname.org. andrew.fergcorp.com. 2004102505 10800 3600 604800 10800
andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN NS ns0.xname.org.
andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN NS ns1.xname.org.
andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN A 70.56.95.233
www.andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN A 70.56.95.233
andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN SOA ns0.xname.org. andrew.fergcorp.com. 2004102505 10800 3600 604800 10800

The first line says that for andrewferguson.net, ns0.xname.org is the Start of Authority (that is ns0.xname.org has the official responsibillity to know where andrewferguson.net is located at all times).

2004102505 is the date this record was last updated: October 25, 2004, 5th version of the day. The next string of numbers are just timeout numbers and are not that important.

andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN NS ns0.xname.org. and andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN NS ns1.xname.org. basically says that ns(0/1).xname.org is a Name Server for my website.

andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN A 70.56.95.233 and www.andrewferguson.net. 86400 IN A 70.56.95.233 tells the DNS the actual physical location of my website. Note that both the qualified name and the www subzone are both listed. This is the actual information that the DNS server sends back to you, the user. Then your browser initiates a connection with 70.56.95.233 and you arrive at my website.

For fergcorp.com, the records look pretty similar. The one notible difference is the addition of:

fergcorp.com. 86400 IN MX 5 mail.fergcorp.com.

This says that for the domain fergcorp.com, all mail should be sent to the server named mail.fergcorp.com. The 5 indicates that this is the first mailserver that should be contacted.

That’s a lot of stuff to figure out. Thus far, I’ve covered A, SOA, MX, and NS. I don’t use AAAA/IPv6, CNAME, TXT, or PTR. The rDNS basically is the reverse of the DNS lookup. It takes an IP address and gets an address back. Reversing my IP address will always return fergcorp.com, it’s just the way it’s setup.

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Toshiba M200

Toshiba M200

So I’ve been using the Averatec Tablet PC for about 6 weeks now and I’m fed-up. Averatec has a great design with great features at a great price that almost gives everyone else a great run for their money, except the fact that it’s buggy. Really buggy. I can do any harddrive or processor intensive things without the motherboard overheating. The mouse also flips out all the time making it close to impossible to work. So I said, “Screw it, I’m getting a Dell Toshiba.” (Dell actually doesn’t have a Tablet PC, neither does IBM, supprisingly.)

So I got a Toshiba. It’s a beauty:

  • Integrated Intel PRO/Wireless (802.11b/g)
  • Intel Pentium M 745 Processor (1.80GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 400MHz FSB)
  • 80GB HDD (5400 rpm)
  • 12″ Polysilicon SXGA+ Display (1400 x 1050)
  • 512MB PC2700 DDR333 SDRAM (256MB x 2)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition

PC Magazine also gave it 4/5 stars and the members gave it 4.5/5, it was TechTV’s (now called G4techTV) “Pick of the Week” and it was Laptop Magazines Editors Choice. This will be sweet.

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