The Rude List

Today marks the beginning of a series I am calling The Rude List, a compilation of rude software and web site behaviors.

This is not a “top 10” type list as entries will be in no particular order, even though some raise my  blood pressure more than others.

To software and web site developers, if your product has these any of these characteristics, my only request is that you give these comments some consideration and know that your customers may have strong feelings about them.

Rude #1 – Lightbox-style Popup Messages



Time And Relative Capacity in Space

Back in 1977 or 1978, I remember my dad and I riding down to a nearby major city to pick up one box of ten 8″ diskettes. I remember they were SS/DD (single-sided, double-density) Nashua Five Disks vs Playbookbrand with a formatted capacity of about 230k under CP/M. The trip was justified because they were a great deal at $50 for the box.

That was $50 for a total 2.3 MB of storage.

For a simple comparison, my BlackBerry Playbook, a full computing device with input and output, is thinner than 5 discs and certainly smaller and has 64 GB of built-in storage. It would have taken over 291,000 SS/DD 8″ disks to reach 64 GB. Of course, one could upgrade to DS/DD 8″ disks and cut that around 146,000 disks.

(And don’t forget, we now have 64 GB MicroSDXC cards that are (roughly)

Looking at it from the dollars perspective, using, that works out to about $175 in 2013 money, about the cost of a tablet today. For 2.3 Megs! To reach 64 GB back then, it would have cost over 1.4 million dollars.

Just thought it was an interesting observation.

Keep Hard Drives from Powering Down in Windows

Okay, how about a useful post, this time.

I recently purchased a Windows 8 computer on which I use a number of external USB hard drives, the spinning kind. The problem is that Windows 8 seems to want to make these drives shut off and spin down, presumably to save power.

It has been getting very frustrating and every couple of minutes, I would have to wait an extra 10 seconds for the drive to be available again. In the meantime, programs would be unresponsive and show ‘Program is not responding.’ I just want to keep those drives to stay awake, powered up and spinning.

I tried one utility but it always crashed .NET so that didn’t wasn’t going to do so I started to write one myself but I frankly don’t have the spare time, so I decided to whip one out using a batch file. I found another but it only operated on one drive — I needed to keep two or three drives spinning.

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Photo – Rippled Clouds

When I got home from the office, I got out of my truck and it felt like you could almost reach up and touch the clouds.

Under a ripply sky
Nikon D5100 (24mm 1/640s f/13 ISO 100 HDR)

Or if you looked down the street, it felt like you were in a giant box with a blanket hanging overhead.

I believe the clouds would be classified as stratocumulus undulatus. Here is a Wikipedia entry with a bit more information about them.


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Web Site: S100 Computers

I was thinking about the old Cromemco, S-100 and CP/M days when I ran across a most interesting web site,

They have a great history and technical section plus active NEW board designs. The author has created his own S-100 bus based system from scratch incorporation modern designs and equipment.

If you have any interest in CP/M or the S-100, this is a must visit site. And if you’re curious about the early days of microcomputing, this site will give you a taste of what it was like in those days.


Type 60 AP Selective Signaling System

What you see here is called a Western Electric Type 60 AP Selective Signaling System or sometimes called a Model 60 AP Selector.

AP Selector View 1B (x0180)It was a gift from a friend of mine in Illinois after he saw my fascination with the device. He has an extensive knowledge of mechanical telephone systems and a fully working vintage telephone system.

In a nutshell, it was used on railway dispatching telephone circuits for a couple of purposes.

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Sangean CL-100 Quick Review

Up for my first quick review is the Sangean CL-100 AM / FM-RBDS / Hazard Alert NOAA Weather radio and alarm clock.

When you first hold the unit, it feels quite solid and the rubber buttons operate very nicely. The MENU button allows access to everything from the time and alarms but also a strong set of customization features navigation by the arrow and SELECT buttons.

Sangean CL-100 - Weather (x1080)

Of course, the primary purpose of this radio is to receive NOAA weather broadcasts and play audible alerts with triggered from one of 7 weather frequencies. The display will show the alert, such as SEVERE T-STORM WARNING, and illuminate a corresponding alert LED.

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Ultimate Laptop Cooler

Okay, I know those are some pretty bold words but when you see what I am trying to accomplish, it will be clear.

Laptop Cooler Box - Standard Air Flow (x1080)

Elsewhere are vents for things like the RAM, hard drive, video processors and CPU support chipset. The battery isn’t cooled and who knows whether these vents get any measure of forced air to conduct heat away.

Normal laptop coolers are somewhat beneficial in that they will supply the fan with some air (reducing back pressure), provide a general influence of cooling to the bottom of the housing plus at least stir up the air around the vents.

My problem is that I often leave my laptop stationary and on for weeks at a time and I want to keep the components as cool as practical to extend component life.

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