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Dux Computer Newsletter
July 2, 2001; Vol. 1, No. 6

Recent News and Commentary
Tech Tips

Around the Internet

Recent Articles

Recent News and Commentary.  Microsoft announced earlier today that the first release candidate (RC1) of Windows XP was available.  Just as I was finishing-up this newsletter, an E-Mail arrived from Microsoft stating that another e-mail with download instructions and a product key would be sent in the next few days to people who have signed-up (and paid) for the preview program.  The download will be in the form of huge (500 Mbytes) .iso file which must be burned to a CD before Windows XP can be installed (or a third party utility can be used to extract the files).  It will take about five hours via DSL or cable MODEM to download it.  You can sign-up for the preview program here.

Intel released 1.6 and 1.8 GHz versions of their Pentium 4 processors today.  A 2 GHz version is expected this Fall.  Well, they left me behind at 1 GHz.  I can see no reason to buy a processor faster than that.  Which brings to mind some infamous quotes:

"I think there's a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson
Chairman of IBM (1958)

"There is no reason why anyone would want to have a computer in their home."
Ken Olsen
President, Digital Equipment Corporation (1977)

"640K ought be enough for anybody."  [640 KBytes of computer memory]
Bill Gates (1981)

In the high-performance, server/host/database market, Intel took the first step in eliminating a competing processor to the new 64-bit Itanium by taking-over "significant Alpha microprocessor and compiler technology, tools and resources" from Compaq.  Samsung will probably continue making Alphas for awhile, but the processor is certain to die in the next couple of years, as Compaq has agreed to shift it's server products to the Intel chip.  That leaves IBM and Sun as the only major contenders in this arena.  That is, until next year when AMD is expected to introduce its 64-bit Sledgehammer processor.  Success of the Athlon in the processor wars lends some basis for the appropriateness of the code name for the processor.

There is word floating around (again) that Dell is looking into building computers with AMD processors for the first time.  This is supported by the fact that Dell is running a survey on their web site to gather customer opinions on AMD versus Intel Processors.  Glue that info together with the preceding paragraph, a little imagination, and what do you get?

As the PC wars continue, it doesn't take a genius to figure-out what is really happening to Compaq after reading about the Alpha chip, cancellation of contracts to Mitac to build PCs for Compaq (apparently, some of this business is going to FIC and Foxconn), and Compaq's shift in focus to software and services.  The Rise and Fall of Compaq pretty much sums it up. 

Michael Dell say's he is out to grab 40% of the PC market and he might just do it, but I don't think so and don't think the top spot will be Dell's forever.  In this business (PCs, that is), history shows that a PC king today, is a fiddler tomorrow.  That's simply because anyone can build a computer and just about everyone seems to get "tired" sooner or later of supporting them.  We may(!) soon have a single rewritable DVD standard and the creation of mass market for these drives.  Dell has announced that it is throwing its weight behind the DVD+RW standard (3 GB) and will start shipping computers with the drives later this year.  HP is also solidly behind this standard.  The DVD+RW alliance includes HP, Sony, Philips, Mitsubishi Chemical, Ricoh, Thomson, and Yamaha.

Not to be outdone by Intel, which announced a few weeks ago that is had the world's smallest and fastest transistor, IBM announced that it had the best silicon-based transistor and promised 100 GHz silicon chips in 2 years; however upcoming silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology may prove to be even faster.

Median salary plus benefits for Electrical Engineer's rose to $99,000 in 2000.

More news.

Tech Tips. If you are using Microsoft FrontPage 2002 (may work with older versions) for your web site and you want to insert a graphic that is already in the web into a page, simply grab it with your mouse from the Folder List on the left (or even from the Windows Explorer), drag it to the page you are working on to the right, and drop it where you want it.  I often work-up a bunch a graphics with Corel PhotoPaint, save them to the folder in the web on my local drive where the article is located, and then simply drag them to the appropriate pages.  Remember, however, that if you use the same image (exact same file) in more than one page, altering in one will alter it in the others.

If the LED on a newly installed floppy drive stays on all the time, the flat cable was plugged-in backwards.  Unlike hard disk and CD-ROM drives, where pin one of the flat cable connector and the red stripe on the cable are always towards the power connector, the location of pin one on floppy disk drives varies by manufacturer.  It is usually easier to determine where pin one is located by looking at the printed circuit board on the bottom of the drive before installing the drive.

Most floppy disk cables have a twist at one end of the cable.  That end connects to floppy A:, the other end connects to the motherboard or controller, and the one in between, if present, connects to floppy drive B:.  Some cables have pairs of connectors to accommodate either a 3 or a 5 inch drive in each position: A: and B:.

Some motherboard CMOS Setups have a "floppy mode 3" as one of the choices for the type of floppy drive.  It is for a special 3 " 1.2 MByte floppy used in Japan.

Around the Internet.  Dictionaries and other references. The Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing is a searchable dictionary with over 13,000 definitions of words, acronyms, jargon, and anything else to do with computing.  It is frequently updated.  You can download a copy to use off-line, put a button on your web site so visitors can use it, or download the entire dictionary.  If you can't find it there, try Whatis.com.   If you just need a dictionary or thesaurus try the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus.  It beats running to bookshelf and digging through a fat dictionary.  The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.  The OneLook Dictionaries index currently lists 3,230,085 words in 736 online dictionaries.  Dictionary.com has all kinds of dictionaries and a translator.  You can also access it with the Internet Explorer by clicking Search in the toolbar, More., Look up a word.  Alta Vista has another translator that I use.  The Indiana University Knowledgebase has over 7,000 answers to questions about computing.  You can find most of the rest of the on-line dictionaries, etc., really hard to find definitions, and answers to tough questions at Google, my favorite search engine.  The next time you get a Windows error and it mentions a problem with a specific file or driver, try searching Google with the file or driver name, or with the error code itself.  And, of course, one can find a lot of answers in the more than 2,500 web pages comprising the Dux Computer Digest with our Site Search Engine.  I found this info on plastic memory interesting.

Recent Article.  I have rewritten the nVIDIA nFORCE motherboard chipset piece presented in the last newsletter and made it into a Dux Computer Digest article.  It has some new material, pictures, and block diagrams.  You can read it here.


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Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.