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April 5, 2014, 8:50 amHow wolves changed an entire ecosystem
This video, less than 5 minutes long, is pretty incredible.
March 3, 2014, 9:56 pmSwitching back to Internet Explorer
After using Google Chrome as my daily Web browser for the last few years, I'm now switching back to Internet Explorer, at least for a while.
Chrome is a fantastic Web browser, but as of the past few versions, something is wrong.
I always keep many tabs open, because during the day I constantly need to switch to various Web pages. It's part of my work stream.
The problem is that Chrome seems to have developed some memory problems -- or something like that. I have gotten to the point where I need to restart the browser at least once a day, just to "clear out the gunk". I restart the browser and all of those dozen tabs or so are running snappily again. And then they start slowing down until I need to restart again.
So it's back to IE. I'm now using IE 11 running on Windows 8.1.
IE11 has most of the features that I love about Google Chrome. Mainly the ability to automatically syncronize bookmarks, settings, and tabs between computers. Plus at this point it's just as fast as Chrome, and it supports most of the same modern Web standards -- so you won't have to be left in the stone ages anymore.
And now that I mention syncing bookmarks and such, I should mention that's one great feature about Windows 8.1: complete intergration of SkyDrive (which has recently been renamed to OneDrive). What a great service.
Everything is setup to be able to automatically save to the "cloud", which is like an extra hard drive attached to your computer, except it's stored on the Internet. So you never need to worry about losing your documents in SkyDrive, because Microsoft automatically backs everything up. And because it's stored in the "cloud" you can access all of your files on any computer instantly. The IE11 Web browser uses SkyDrive (OneDrive) behind the scenes to automatically syncronize all your bookmarks, settings, tabs, etc.
So I guess we'll see how this works out. Who knows, maybe I'll be back on IE for a few years.
January 30, 2014, 1:10 pmMitt Romney the front runner for 2016? I hope so!
He may have lost the 2012 election, but I am still as firmly convinced today as I was back then that Mitt Romney has the potential to be a truly great US president. It would be rare to see a candidate come back for another run after a general election loss, but in my view it would be most welcome.
August 22, 2013, 10:25 amYour perilous future on Windows XP
If you are still using Widnows XP on your computer, you need to read this article. Especially if you are under the impression that you don't need to upgrade because "you don't need new features", or because "it works fine right now as it is", or any other reason.
July 11, 2013, 9:05 amBest product demonstration of 2013
How many times can you say "WOW"?
The best part? You can buy it now right here!
Last Edited: July 11, 2013, 9:08 am
May 6, 2013, 11:37 amVideo: How the new Corvette interior was designed
This is a really interesting presentation that shows how the new C7 Corvette interior was designed, starting early on with sketches, and proceeding to clay and real material mockups. There is a great amount of detail in the second half in the Q&A part. It sounds like the audience is made up of dealers who want to know the details.
April 22, 2013, 3:53 pmeBay letter points out dangers of proposed internet tax law
The Democrats in the US Senate are scheduled to introduce Internet tax legislation that will be extremely harmful.
Can you image trying to sell something on eBay, and then getting audited by some lawyer on the other side of the country because you didn't collect and pay sales tax? Get ready: if this thing passes, that's what you'll get. Everything sold on the internet will be taxed, and, like always, it's individuals and small businesses that will be broken by it.
Here's the letter I received today from eBay:
• • • • • • • • • • •
Congress is considering online sales tax legislation that is wrongheaded and unfair, and I am writing to ask for your help in telling Congress "No!" to new sales taxes and burdens for small businesses.
Whether you're a consumer who loves the incredible selection and value that small businesses provide online, or a small-business seller who relies on the Internet for your livelihood, this legislation potentially affects you. For consumers, it means more money out of your pocket when you shop online from your favorite seller or small business shop owner. For small business sellers, it means you would be required to collect sales taxes nationwide from the more than 9,600 tax jurisdictions across the U.S. You also would face the prospect of being audited by out-of-state tax collectors. That's just wrong, and an unnecessary burden on you.
Big national retailers are aggressively lobbying Congress to pass online sales tax legislation to "level the playing field" with Amazon. And, as they compete with big retail, Amazon is advocating for this legislation too, while at the same time they are seeking local tax exemptions across the country to build warehouses. This is a "big retail battle" in which small businesses and consumers have a lot to lose. But eBay is fighting, as we have for more than 15 years, to protect small online businesses and sellers and ensure healthy competition, value, and selection that benefit consumers online.
The solution is simple: if Congress passes online sales tax legislation, we believe small businesses with less than 50 employees or less than $10 million in annual out-of-state sales should be exempt from the burden of collecting sales taxes nationwide. To put that in perspective, Amazon does more than $10 million in sales every 90 minutes. So we believe this is a reasonable exemption to protect small online businesses. That's what we're fighting for, and what big companies such as Amazon are fighting against.
I hope you agree that imposing unnecessary tax burdens on small online businesses is a bad idea. Join us in letting your Members of Congress know they should protect small online businesses, not potentially put them out of business. Click here to make your voice heard. Together, I believe our voices can make a difference.
President and CEO
April 22, 2013, 12:31 pmVideo describes how Internet works
This is a pretty cool description of how a web page is delivered on the Internet.
It's cool because it makes the process fairly easy to picture, but in reality it is much more complex for a sophisticated site like Lottery Post, because a web page doesn't just come from one server, and there are dozens or maybe even hundreds of "round trips" like the one described in the video to dozens of servers for every web page you see. For example, the web page you are viewing right now has elements that come from perhaps a dozen different servers from several companies.
A large part of my job is knowing how all these "pathways" for data and images from different servers will be requested for each page, and structuring the pages and requests so as many can happen as possible at the same time, in order to reduce the amount of time it takes for a page to assemble and load. Also, I try to structure pages so that the minimum number of requests can happen before a page can be shown to you and you can start to use it, even when there are parts of the page that have not finished loading. That's why you may see the browser's "loading" icon (a spinning icon) continue to spin even after you see the page for the first time.
April 20, 2013, 1:08 pmUncle of bomber is a stand-up guy
I'm very impressed by everything this guy has to say. Too bad his nephews turned out to be monsters.
February 26, 2013, 10:03 amIE10 finally released for Windows 7
Four months after delivering Windows 8 that includes IE10 (Internet Explorer 10), Microsoft has finally released IE10 for Windows 7.
I really, really like IE10. It's very fast and has just about all the latest web standards and bells & whistles.
If you are running Windows 7, I strongly recommend that you upgrade to IE10 right away.
If you previously installed the preview version of IE10, the process will smoothly upgrade you to the final release -- no need to uninstall the preview. (I tested that out myself.)
Here is the link to get started with the free upgrade:
January 14, 2013, 12:10 pmLP Flash content approved by Microsoft for Windows 8
In Windows 8, you have two choices for your web browser: regular desktop mode (the same as you use in Windows 7, Windows XP, etc.) or full-screen "Modern UI" mode. The full-screen mode is what most computers will use when you buy a new computer with Windows 8 installed.
Full-screen mode is actually much safer to use, because Microsoft purposely disables the ability to add browser plug-ins to it. (Browser plug-ins, like Flash or Java, are the biggest cause of viruses and other malware on PCs.) If you want to use plug-ins like Flash to your heart's content, then you need to use the desktop browser.
When Microsoft was developing Windows 8, there was a bit of concern among Web site owners, because many sites rely on Flash to display all or some of their content, and if the Web browser did not support Flash (because plug-ins are no longer allowed), then many sites would not work.
So Microsoft made a compromise: They added Flash as a built-in component of the full-screen IE Web browser, but it would only work for certain pre-screened Web sites that Microsoft has deemed "safe".
I am happy to announce that Microsoft has included Lottery Post on that list, so all the Flash content that is on the site is available in both the regular desktop browser, as well as the full-screen "Modern UI" browser.
An example of Flash content on Lottery Post is the clickable map that appears on the main Lottery Results page. If you do not have Flash, a list of links will appear, but if you have Flash, an animated map appears.
Another example is the graphs on the site, such as the graph showing the past year of Powerball jackpots on the right side of the Powerball Jackpots page. If you don't have Flash available, then you don't see the graph at all.
Inclusion on Microsoft's Flash list is especially important for tablets, since most Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet users will rarely use a desktop browser. It's also a neat feature for Flash to be included on tablets running Windows because, by comparison, the iPad does not have Flash at all, so Flash content is never visible on an iPad.
I have tested Lottery Post's Flash content on both regular Windows 8 as well as on a Windows RT tablet (Microsoft's Surface tablet), and it works perfectly in both. A nice thing to know if you are contemplating an upgrade to Windows 8. (Something I definitely recommend!)
Last Edited: January 14, 2013, 12:11 pm
December 29, 2012, 1:52 pmThe Sopranos ending explained
I just saw an article that came out a couple of weeks ago called "The Sopranos ending explained". It is from an interview with the series' creator, David Chase.
I remember watching the final episode barely able to breathe as the final minutes were counting down, and I was waiting to see what would happen to Tony. When the screen went blank with no sound for several seconds my first thought was, "Oh my God, I just sat on the remote control and changed the channel right as it was ending!!!"
Then the titles came on.
What? That's the ending?!!!
It was like a cruel joke, but I was sure the show's makers were trying to make some kind of point — I just couldn't figure out what it was.
Now, years later, comes this interview with David Chase, and with two sentences plucked from his interview it all makes sense. And it's really clever:
"All I wanted to do was present the idea of how short life is and how precious it is. The only way I felt I could do that was to rip it away."
Some people might read that and still think "cruel joke", but for me, that's like the light bulb moment that suddenly makes the whole series much, much better.
If you watched The Sopranos and enjoyed the show, hit the link below and check out the entire interview. It's not very long, but very interesting and thought-provoking.
November 13, 2012, 12:47 pmIE10 now available for Windows 7
It's a preview version of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10), but to my eyes it's a complete web browser that is fine for anyone to install.
Unlike previous releases of IE10 for Windows 7, this is a complete interface, and it looks and works just like IE9.
My expectation is that Microsoft will only make subtle tweaks to this before releasing the final version soon. By "subtle", I mean there will probably only be little performance improvements, but nothing that most people would notice.
Because IE10 adds very good support for modern web standards, I can easily recommend it to any Windows 7 user.
Also, a VERY nice feature is that IE10 will automatically install updates to itself, like Google Chrome has done for a long time now.
Here's the download link. Click the Download button under "IE 10 on Windows 7 Preview".
October 29, 2012, 11:44 amReinstate gadgets on Windows 8!
I have always liked the concept of gadgets in Windows, delivering whatever real-time information you like right on your Windows desktop. In fact, I like gadgets so much that a few years ago I developed the Lottery Results Gadget, which has been installed by people around the world hundreds of thousands of times, and is still running strong today.
Now Windows 8 is upon us, and Microsoft has ditched gadgets in favor of "live tiles" in the start screen. The problem for me is that I spend most of my time on the Windows desktop, and not in the start screen, so live tiles are not as useful for me.
Fortunately, there is a quick and easy solution available.
Some nice guy has released some free software called the "8GadgetPack", which reinstall all the original Microsoft gadget files that were part of Windows 7. Not only is the software free, but there is no "crapware", advertisements, or anything else installed — just the original files and a few extra popular gadgets.
I did the installation, and it worked perfectly. The software initially puts a few gadgets on your desktop, which I immediately removed. One of them is the Sidebar gadget, which mimics the original Windows Vista Sidebar, so that was the first thing I removed. Putting the gadgets right on the desktop is so much better than the Sidebar.
After getting rid of the initial slate of gadgets installed on your desktop, it is time to put the ones you want on there. Just do the normal right-click on the desktop and select "Gadgets" to see the familiar gadget box containing all the gadgets you can drag to the desktop. Everything works as it always did in Windows 7 and Vista.
Here's a link to the 8GadgetPack: http://8gadgetpack.bplaced.net/
Last Edited: October 29, 2012, 11:45 am
October 28, 2012, 10:02 pmTook the Windows 8 plunge
I've been running Windows 8 on some test computers for severals months, so I'm comfortable with the new version of Windows and what to expect from it, but it is very different testing a brand new operating system than it is to convert your primary computer to it.
And so this weekend was the time I chose to convert my primary computer to Windows 8, and finally go do-or-die with it.
You know what? Not only is everything working great on my PC, but there are surprisingly few hiccups, and I'm really digging the new OS.
There are so many cool new things about Windows 8 it would be impossible to list them all, but I guess the most important thing for anyone considering the upgrade is that despite the new "metro" Start screen that replaces the Start Menu, you can operate your PC very much like you're used to with Windows 7 (or Windows Vista, or whatever you're using now).
In fact, if you just think of the metro Start screen as merely a replacement for the Start Menu, you'll be 90% along in understanding the changes to Windows. If you want, you can exist in the traditional Windows desktop mode most of the time, and just use the Start screen as a launcher of programs. In that respect, not much has changed.
But then once you get the hang of the Start screen, and you realize all the additional benefits that the metro interface gives you, there is a whole new world to explore, with a "Windows App Store" that works just like the Apple App Store, in which you can quickly find and download new programs ("apps") instead of having to search around the Internet for them. There are lots of free apps, in addition to cheap paid apps.
Another very cool thing about Windows 8 is if you have multiple PCs and/or devices. Because a Microsoft account is now linked directly into Windows, when you sign into your different Windows devices, it instantly synchronizes all of your settings to each device.
For example, I purchased a new Microsoft Surface tablet running Windows RT (the low-cost tablet version of Windows 8), and when I sign in on the tablet, changes I made on my PC are also instantly visible on the tablet. For example, when I changed the desktop background graphics on my PC, the same background graphic appeared on the Surface tablet. It's kind of freaky-cool the first time you see it happen.
Again, there is so much to like about Windows 8 there is hardly room to list it all, but suffice to say that it's really great. I was really nervous about switching over my primary PC, but I'm really happy I did so now.