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(archived) Technology News

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This page documents random thoughts, observations, reviews, criticisms, rants, anecdotes, tips, tricks, and discoveries by Blake Nancarrow. The notes here pertain specifically to information technology. They are dated and arranged in reverse-order, the newest items at the top.

2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | the '90s


Index of Postings

30 Dec - Daisies (USB, Mac)
27 Dec - Backup More Often
24 Dec - No Universal IM Mac Client (instant messaging)
20 Dec - Common Emoticons (instant messaging)
17 Dec - Learning MX (Dreamweaver)
17 Dec - Accessibility (Web)
4 Dec - Another Web Site
13 Nov - No Virus Warnings SVP
1 Oct - ND6 out (IBM/Lotus Notes Domino)
18 Aug - I'm IMing (instant messaging)
17 Mar Powerless

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30 Dec 2002 - Daisies

When I was trying to "install" and test Mom's new Zip drive, it looked to me like there was only one USB (universal serial bus) port on her Apple iMac. The printer was connected to the USB port; the keyboard and mouse were connected to the keyboard/mouse port. No other ports (except for the network RJ-45) available.

It looked like that she would have to disconnect her printer whenever she would want to use the USB Zip drive...

I didn't relish buying a USB hub.

Then I remembered you could daisy-chain devices. I looked on the back of the printer. No extra USB ports. I thought that was the point...

Oh well. I showed Mom that you can plug and unplug USB devices on-the-fly without powering down. So I didn't think it a major issue. Mildly inconvenient.

Later, after returning home, I was doing some research (at AppleCare Support) on another matter, I came across a technical bulletin documenting the iMac 350 specifications. I read this to refamiliarize myself with her computer. When I saw the bit about how many USB ports the machine had (2, two, deux, yep, 2), it finally clicked: the keyboard and mouse were USB!

(I was used to the old Mac ADB proprietary keyboard/mouse port.)

Now that the keyboard and mouse are USB, that means the Zip drive, when needed, could be more easily plugged into the extra port on the keyboard. A funny set-up to be sure, but nonetheless a daisy-chain.

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27 Dec 2002 - Backup More Often

It's the second-year anniversary of Mom's Apple iMac 350. Happy birthday! woo hoo...

Interestingly, this machine does not have a built-in floppy (but it does have a slot CD-ROM). That's a little radical—no removable drive... I normally like different approaches, thinking out-of-the-box, the path less travelled, the Macintosh way. But in this case, I'm not sure what Apple was thinking. I mean, how the heck are you supposed to transfer data in and out of the machine. Sure, it's connected to the net so it's now a networked appliance... Still.

My immediate concern about this is that as my mom uses the machine more and more, and as I get her wrapping her head around "write-it-once," and as I encourage her to "save everything," and when I reprimand her to not print so much, and as there's more and more precious data not duplicated anywhere else... we have a potential major problem, a time bomb...

Wouldn't you know it, Santa brought Mom an external 100MB iomega Zip disk. How thoughtful!

I "installed" and tested Mom's new Xmas gift. And immediately backed up her "documents" folder. Whew!

This, once again, reminds me: we must all back up our data often. Do you? I think you should back up your data. More often than you presently do.

To that end, I noticed on Apple's web site, they now have technical support bulletins, explaining how you can "backup" your iMac... Hmmm.

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24 Dec 2002 - No Universal IM Mac Client

Here's an opportunity for you gear-head, Mac-head programmers out there: we need a universal client, like Trillian for Windows, for the Apple Mac platform.

I spent hours and hours searching for one over the holidays for my Mom's iMac 350 (running OS 9). Nothing...

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20 Dec 2002 - Common Emoticons

I've looked high and low but I cannot find a "common" emoticons list anywhere. A list, written in a procedural order, that shows what to type to get a particular emoticon and how it will be represented on different instant messaging (IM) clients. Example, if I type :-) it will show as a happy face smiley in all the IM clients. But if I type (6), different things happen. Devilish!

So I'm building one!

A universal emoticon list by Blake.

[When first writing this note, it was a preliminary version. Now, this link goes to the formal, stable version... ]

Warning! These are big files with a billion little graphics...

I know, I know, I seem to have a lot of time on my hands...

[updated on 7 May 2003]

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17 Dec 2002 - Learning MX

Began preparations learning the latest version of Macromedia Dreamweaver, the "MX" version. I basically used the MX Windows software at a basic level to create a simple web site. These are my first impressions...

beefs I still have

  • named anchors—inserted as an empty set
  • no Undo in Site window
  • no Save button in toolbar
  • no AutoSave
  • editing text is wobbly in many places...
  • no "auto link" when typing URLs or email addresses, like FrontPage
  • image editing—nothing "basic" built-in, like FrontPage
  • lowest CSS cascade level—cannot be done without hand-coding
  • copying RTF content from the clipboard—still sucks!


  • Save All—it's back (in version 3, gone in 4)!
  • improved CSS implementation—the Property Inspector can be flipped to CSS mode vs. FONT (finally)
  • oooo, Paragraph style applied to new text entered AFTER a heading...
  • encoding type option on FORM—added
  • inefficiencies in tables, e.g. column width—smarter now!
  • accessibility stuff built-in

There's more testing and investigating to be done. Stay tuned...

[updated on 7 Apr 2003]

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17 Dec 2002 - Accessibility

After all these years... I finally met someone visually-challenged who was designing web sites! I was to teach them the basics of FrontPage 2000. I told them that I always taught, in all my web-design courses, that internet and intranet sites should made accessible to all people, no matter where they are, what technology they use, no matter their abilities. I regularly refer people to the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) at the University of Toronto. It was a pleasure working with her.

It also prompted me to finally look up some information, to substantiate something recently I heard or read. I recalled hearing that in the U.S. some web sites had to be accessible—by law!

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4 Dec 2002 - Another Web Site

I'm coaching Will Zaraska with FrontPage and web design. He's building a very fine web site for his business.

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13 Nov 2002 - No Virus Warnings SVP

I received, yet again, a virus warning from an "acquaintance." This is very irksome. I understand that this person was trying to help and warn their friends. But I think a lot of people don't realize that this, in and of itself, excerbates the problem of computer viri.

I remind you all to be as knowledgeable as you can about the subject. There are excellent web sites such as the Symantec Anti-virus Research Centre (SARC) and McAfee Security where you can learn a lot about viri, worms, trojans. And equally important, hoaxes.

And I strongly recommend that you have anti-virus software on your computers and that you ensure it is very current.

I have developed over the years policies and a firm stance about virus warnings, computer protection, and email handing. If you're interested in the strategies and policies that I use and recommend, don't hesitate to contact me.

Finally, and please don't take this the wrong way, I ask that you do not warn me of viri. I appreciate the gesture but unless you are a skilled microcomputer consultant with experience fighting and disinfecting computer viri, I must treat your warnings suspiciously and will usually, immediately discard them.

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1 Oct 2002 - ND6 out

IBM Lotus released the next version or release of their powerful Notes client/server technology: that's Notes Domino 6 (ND6).

(Thanks, Malcolm, Oh Great Notes God!)

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18 Aug 2002 - I'm IMing

I stuck my big toe in the instant messaging (IM) waters. And it is good!

It was suggested to me that using instant messaging software was a fun way to communicate so I downloaded the usual suspects software and started to play. I set up a new ID on MSN (my old HoTMaiL account had long ago evaporated) and AOL/AIM. And I dusted off the Yahoo! Mail account. Email me if you want to know my IDs...

Quickly I was disenchanted with the idea of using different IM clients for the different services. And then I learned that Microsoft's client is a pig! It sucks up HUGE amounts of memory. Surprise, surprise...

Snooped around and found the wonderful trillian IM client by Cerulean Studios. Brilliant! A single, universal, Windows 9x product that handles MSN, AOL/AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ, etc. Easy to use. Well-featured, including tons of emoticons. Sound effects. Alerts. Skinable. And free! Ah, ain't the internet grand. I was so impressed, I decided to donate and get a full copy.

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17 Mar 2002 - Powerless

I learned today (I forget the source) that 2 billion people on the planet do not have electric power.

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This page was last updated on 26 February 2013.
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