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Linking URLs on the TV

Posted 2011.08.15 20.28 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Music/Movies/TV by Stephanie

Here’s something that has been bugging me for about the last 5 years or so.¬†When you see a URL on the TV, why can’t you just click it and have the link open up on your browser on your computer?

Ok I know the TV isn’t usually connected to the computer. Doesn’t matter. What about the digital hub stuff that they’ve been going on about for a few years? Between all the digital devices we’ve got in our homes, there should be a way to make this happen.

If the rumours of an Apple-branded television are true, then I expect this has to be one of the features. Click a link on the tv screen and it opens on your iPad or your Mac. So you can keep watching the show, while you follow the link.

The Horrors Of E.D.

Posted 2008.12.03 1.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

ED, or “Electronic Dysfunction”, is predominantly thought of as a problem of the older generation. However, it does occasionally strike young and otherwise healthy technology.

Earlier this week, I had settled down for the evening, looking to spend some quality time with my computer — a relatively spry 15-month old iMac. The evening started out well, things worked as planned. However, as the evening progressed, my iMac started to slow down, to stumble a bit. Even stalling at times. I attributed this to software lag, or internet lag — but those issues usually come and go, this was a case of a steadily worsening condition.

Then it happened… the computer siezed up completely. We’ve had lock-ups like this before. Rare, but they do happen. Particularily when using a certain program which shall remain nameless (I’m looking at you SecondLife). However, before I went for the full reboot, something new happened: The entire screen went black, then hard-drive errors started spewing all over the place. New, and nasty.

One reboot later and things were functioning again. Still, the hard drive errors troubled me, so I went into Disk Utility. And there it was. It was ED and it was confirmed. My iMac’s hard drive was no longer hard, and wasn’t driving.

What to do?! The iMac looks pretty but it’s not exactly easy to get in for a hard-drive swap. I fretted for a bit. It’s out of warranty. The thought of actually paying someone to fix my computer is intolerable. Then I remembered the Makers’ creed: If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. The iMac was not going to beat me. I would OWN this computer.

Turns out, the door to the (Aluminum,2007) iMac is through the screen! The glass panel is held on by magnets(!!) and you can pry it off with the right tools. Under the glass are a bunch of screws, that free the frame, then the actual screen itself covers up most of the electronic jiggery-pokery.

Skipping through the dull boring bits, I got my iMac open, got the screen out of the way, and extracted the droopy drive. I replaced it with a much bigger, much harder drive — I mean really, the only reason to put a 1TB drive in there is “because I can”. It was easy to put it all back together and now my iMac is all virile and strong again.

The message nobody wants to see.
The HardDrive message nobody wants to see.

How Computer Programming Works

Posted 2007.09.19 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Writing a computer program is kind of like trying to explain a complicated task to a gifted three-year old who only speaks Esperanto.

What do I mean by this? Well computers are usually very fast, and they usually have a very good memory, but they are not very smart. They need you to explain things in detail, and the fancier the task, the harder it is to explain exactly what you want done. And in Esperanto, because no matter what your native tongue is, the computer speaks something different. Unlike three-year-olds, however, computers always do exactly what you tell them.

Example: Tell the computer to pick up your dry cleaning:

If you’re using a high-level computer language, then there might be lots of built-in functions or routines that you can use, such as getNextDryCleanTicket, accessCar, and driveCar. You still have to program the actual map to the drycleaners, so how many meters on what bearing. You’ll want to include some event-handling processes to respond to other traffic and so on. High-level languages work because someone else has done the low-level work of creating those various functions / routines.

If you’re using a low-level computer language then you have to build your own functions and routines, so instead of just accessCar you need to define how to access it (where’s the key, where’s the car, what the key does, how to turn the key, etc.)

At the assembly language level – the lowest level language – you have to tell the computer everything – not just what’s a key, and what’s a car, but what’s a noun. Then work your way up from there.

The bottom line is, computers always do exactly what you tell them; they just don’t always do what you want, or what you expect.