Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photo of the Week (#2)

My German Shepherd, Siega...isn't she pretty?

photo copyrighted by Ingela F. Hyatt

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On the Rag: Windows and Bit Rot

Because there's always something to rag about...

I hate Microsoft.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I think it's worth repeating.

I hate Microsoft.

Why, you ask? Well there are many, many, many reasons to hate Microsoft, IMHO, but today I'm here to talk about Bit Rot. Bit Rot refers to “degradation of a software program over time.” (Wikipedia). Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), this problem occurs only in PCs—computers configured to run Windows operating systems (XP, Vista, Windows 7, etc.) and Windows based programs.  

Back in the '90s, many experts claimed Bit Rot was due to electrical problems. They claimed that if your computer was not plugged into it's own dedicated wall receptacle, it would start to deteriorate which would result in said Bit Rot. This seems completely illogical to me. Computers have built in transformers which convert 120 AC into low voltage DC. They're designed to deal with voltage fluctuations, and can easily handle anywhere from 110 to 130 volts—and still produce the correct output. If there's an electrical problem, it's going to burn out the transformer first, long before it effects the PC. Again, this is my personal opinion.

Recently, some experts owned up to the truth. Bit Rot is caused by three basic things: Microsoft's Window OS uninstalling software incorrectly, badly written software programs, and conflicting hardware drivers.  

When you install software onto your computer, not only is it written into the file system but also the computer's registry. If you're unfamiliar with the term, the registry “is essentially the catalog or reference source for your computer. When you attempt to open a program-for example, your word processor-your computer queries the registry to find where the program is stored.” (Registry Repair Learning Centre) The problem is, though most programs are good at installing themselves on your computer, they are terrible at uninstalling, and often leave not only bits of the program in the filing system, but also in the registry. Neither does Windows have the ability to clean up the registry. So while you think you've uninstalled a program, its left it's mark on your computer and added to the ever expanding size of your registry.

Unlike Apple, Microsoft does not make software developers meet certain criteria when writing Windows based programs. This means anyone can write a program for Windows, even someone who doesn't know, or care, what they are doing, which will result in conflicts between various programs. This most commonly occurs with Freeware & Shareware programs. Be sure to double check the source or developer of the program before downloading it into your computer, because once you do so, you may have a hell of a time removing it completely.

The third culprit of Bit Rot is drivers for hardware, such as printers, audio and graphic cards. In recent years, it seems manufactures have gotten “lazy” when it comes to uninstalling the old driver before updating your system with the new one. This can cause tremendous conflict and often leads to freezing up and even crashing your computer. It also leads to Bit Rot as it effects Windows as a whole.  

Now, some will try to claim this is Microsoft bashing or Windows “urban legend”, but I and my family have personally experienced this with five of our Windows based computers over the years. Most recently, was with my Toshiba Laptop, A40, one of the best computers I've ever owned. I wrote several romance novels on that keyboard and probably well over a million words. Needless to say, I wore out the lettering on the keyboard. But after four marvellous years, it too gave up the ghost. As I loved this laptop, I did tons of research and tried hard to “bring it back from the dead.” I even restored it back to the original factory settings using Toshiba's own software, but the blue screen kept appearing, which meant the laptop was no longer stable. It seems to me, Bit Rot may have corrupted the motherboard, and perhaps even the processing chip. And once Bit Rot starts eating away at your computer, there is no stopping it.  

How do you prevent Bit Rot? Well...according to the experts, there's not much you can do. Other than try to limit the software or types of software you install on your computer, but that's not always possible as you will never know which software is going to cause a conflict in your PC. Because most software released to the public is not properly beta tested, even programs from trusted developers can start the ball rolling with bit rot. And lets not forget all those drivers you'll be installing with each new printer, scanner, etc. Once you're computer starts slowing down, and especially when you receive your first “blue screen”, it's just a matter of time before it breathes its last...

To learn more about Bit Rot, check out this excellent article at ZDnet – Windows bit rot – fact or fiction?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

eReaders. Are They Really the Chef of the Future?

Recently, I read a very informative article: Electronic Readers: The Death Toll of Books or an Offering to Our Electronic-Addicted Society? (January 2009 RWR).  

 Now before I continue, I want to make it clear where I'm coming from. Though my novel, A Knight of Passion, is published in both ebook and print, it was when it came out in print that I really got excited. Why?

 I love books. Period.  

 To me there is something magical about the tactile feel of a book. The crisp pages, the gentle bleeding of the ink, the smell of the paper and glue, the full-color cover. All these things help to make a read that much more satisfying.  

To read more about Kindle2 (above), click here.

 But that's not to say I haven't read ebooks.  

 I've read plenty of ebooks. But the ones I really enjoyed, I went out and bought them in paperback.  

 So when I read the article on Electronic Readers, it was with some scepticism. But after carefully examining the “Quick Comparison Chart of E-Book Readers”, I quickly became convinced of two things.

1)All eReaders are most certainly not created equal.

2)e-Books will never have a large share of the market, especially during the economic crisis—as many are predicting.

 Why, you ask? (I think number 1 is self explanatory.) Because eReaders, generally speaking, cost anywhere between two hundred to five hundred dollars. In the current economic situation, I really can't see readers spending $200.00+ of their hard earned cash, and then, buying ebooks on top of that. When it's easier and far cheaper to spend $3.99 to $7.99 on a novel that will give you hours of enjoyment.

According to recent statistics (February 2009 RWR – Letter from RWA President, Diane Pershing), ebook sales only take up 3% to 4% of overall book sales. True its up 2% to 3% from a couple of years ago, but that is not going to make eReaders fly off the shelves. Besides that, an eReader isn't running on love (or even romance for that matter) but batteries. And once those batteries go dead, you have to wait up to four hours before they're recharged. Down time for print books? None. And like every other electronic gadget out there, once you buy an eReader, it's obsolete the moment you turn it on because the company is already working on the next “new and improved” version. But there is no “better version” for books. A book is a book is a book. Good or bad, it's all about the content.

 So don't throw out your paperbacks yet, because print books are going to be around for a long time...or until they create an ebook reader that not only looks and feels like book, but is inexpensive too. 

 I've shared my two cents, now share yours. Do you think eReaders are the wave of the future? Or are print books here to stay?


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photo of the Week (#1)

I've decided to start a new segment on my blog, Photo of the Week. Not only am I a prolific writer, an avid reader, a history buff, and a graphic artist, but I'm also an amateur photographer. My father was a professional photographer (years earlier) and his nature photos are absolutely stunning. Now, I don't profess to be as good as him, but I've taken over ten thousand photos since I was given my first digital camera back in 2004. So I'm sure I can find something to post here once a week. And like the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words... So that means there's a thousand words less I have to post. LOL

This week's photo...
I don't know about you, but I'm getting mighty sick of winter, so I've decided to turn a blind eye to all that white stuff out there and think about Spring (the Spring Equinox is Friday, March 20th). And nothing says Spring like daffodils...

photo copyrighted by Ingela F. Hyatt

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Too Much Doom and Gloom...

Because of the recent economic slump, I've noticed a hell of a lot more negative press concerning the publishing industry. Book sales are down... This publishing house is having problems... That publishing house is consolidating it's imprints. This executive was laid off... That editor was fired. Every day I read Publishers Lunch and PW Daily and they were filled with nothing but bad news. I became addicted to it like some “doom and gloom” junky, running around in frantic circles and squawking “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” It was getting to be so bad, it was starting to affect my writing.

Finally my very wise father noticed what was happening and sat me down for a talk. “There are people out there who thrive on spreading misery,” he said. “I know the publishing industry is having problems right now, but there is nothing you can do about it. You have stop reading this stuff, and get back to doing what you love most, writing.”


As usual, my father was right (Did you see that dad? I said you were right!). Not only was the negative pub news having an effect on my writing, but also my health. I was getting way too caught up in the negative. So, I unsubscribed to both Publishers Lunch and PW Daily and I haven't looked back. In fact I feel remarkably “free” from all the negativity and once again I've been able to concentrate on my writing. That's not to say I don't keep an eye on the publishing news, I just don't get it daily and I get the important stuff filtered through my various RWA list groups (which are far more positive, btw).

So if you're one of those “bad news” junkies like I was, maybe it's time to “turn it off”, and concentrate on something you historical romance for instance.

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