Latest Entry: July 23rd, 2008 by dean

MMO Elegies


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I worked up a little ditty about being a monster magnet in online role-playing games, particularly a priest in World of Warcraft. Sat on it for a year (due to moving among other things), but decided to finally post it to iCompositions.Com so people can enjoy it — hopefully. :)

So, enjoy — Aggroman!

Entry Date: April 29th, 2008 by dean

Apple and the USB Flash Drive Quest


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For some time, PowerWatcher Gene has been hunting for just the right USB flash drive to use with the USB hub ports on the keyboard of his Macintosh computer. Apparently Apple’s keyboard doesn’t provide much power through the USB ports, so finding a flash drive that worked was quite a chore. The latest keyboard also doesn’t have a lot of clearance around the ports, so attaching the flash drives was troublesome. The PQI 2GB i810 worked, but Gene wasn’t happy with its design: an extended piece of the circuit board with contacts for USB and no surrounding hood.

Now his quest seems to be over after trying the PQI Cool Drive Series U339 Pro. Here is his review from our Non-Mac Hardware forum:

FINALLY. A winning winner that wins.

PQI Cool Drive Series U339 Pro. Unexciting external design is matched with a low power 1GB to 8GB ( I bought the 4GB) USB 2 flash memory stick.

Works beautifully on the Apple keyboard and pretty much anywhere else.

Comes with a USB extension cord which it doesn’t need BECAUSE IT WORKS ON THE KEYBOARD!!!

The thin memory stick design even fits into the weird positioning of the USB port on the new Mac Aluminum keyboard without causing the keyboard to be elevated on one end.

The only downside it that it’s fairly pricy. 4GB cost me $55 at Meritline only after shopping around. Other places listed it for as much as $95 IF you could find it.

My other 4GB test drives cost me about $20 each.

Over at memory suppliers.com, style VK looks like it is the save drive. It’s definitely a PQI U339. Unfortunately there are four models of 339 and only one U339-pro is low power. The others are all higher power and wouldn’t work on the keyboard, so the odds are against VK being the right one.

This concludes the money I’m wasting on flash drives. I gave away the PQI i810 with the slide out crappy connector that made bad contact. My son took the 4GB SanDisk Cruzer Micro. I kept the 4GB Kingston even though it doesn’t work on the keyboard. It’s still a pretty good drive.

And my new primary drive will be the PQI U339-Pro.

Do you have any USB flash drive experiences with your Mac to share? Join our forums and add your notes to Gene’s list today!

Entry Date: March 3rd, 2008 by dean

Obama and NASA


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Today, Science blog Cosmic Variance mentions a NASA Watch overview of a TV interview with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Cosmic Variance’s take is here.

Obama seems to want to focus more on unmanned missions and review any planned manned missions to ensure we get the maximum potential from them. “I want to do a thorough review,” he said, “because some of these programs may not be moving in the right direction and I want to make sure that NASA spending is a little more coherent than it has been over the last several years.”

As mentioned in our NASA’s Doom series here on PowerWatchers, the only thing coherent about NASA spending during this administration has been its goal of driving NASA into oblivion.

The comments thread at Cosmic Variance is full of interesting info as well. As usual, if you want to comment on anything here, we welcome you in our forums! That’s where all the hard thinking work happens. :)

Entry Date: February 29th, 2008 by dean

NASA’s Doom is noticed?


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PowerWatcher David Thiel notes in a recent forum message a Defense Daily article saying Congress may be finally taking notice that NASA too underfunded to execute its mission. Defense Daily requires a subscription, so I will paraphrase the article, entitled “Some Democratic And GOP Lawmakers Believe That NASA Is Underfunded.”

The gist is that some Democrats and Republicans in both the legislative and executive branches, as well as independent observers, agree that NASA is underfunded and cannot properly handle science and research suitable for a country the size of the U.S. The House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Bart Gordon blames the Bush Administration for not providing resources for things it has mandated NASA do. At risk are some very important programs, including the Orion-Ares spaceship system (a.k.a. Project Constellation) scheduled to takeover duties from the Space Shuttle program when it is retired in 2015.

David writes, “Now that congress is noticing, this wheel will begin to turn a little bit each budget cycle.”

We can hope — and we can contact our representatives and tell them this is a priority for us in the coming decade. The dividends NASA’s research provides back to the industrial and commercial sector, in the form of new and improved devices and materials, more than pays for the investments we make today.

Previous posts about NASA’s funding, or lack thereof are here and here.

Entry Date: February 4th, 2008 by dean

Return of the Blog!


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All right, it’s been long enough. I finished my move. I finished getting settled into a new place. I finished getting an apartment and getting some of my crap back in order — or on a plan to be in order soon. And now I’m bored. What better thing to do when bored than to get back to this blog?

So, you ten folks who might be checking out this place due to finding us in a Google search for TV themes or “girls kissing alot” (where the hell did I post about girls kissing? Hmmm… Maybe that’s the way to get hits!) will have some more to read now.

Among the first things I plan to do is update the Sci Fi Fan Film list I keep. Some interesting stuff has been released, including the follow-ups to Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, more Defenders of Stan, and the continuing improvement of Star Trek: New Voyages. Other plans include more Powerwatchers Forum posts turned into blog articles, a new Friday video series, and more.

As always, though, this is all just the tip of the iceberg at Powerwatchers. The real energy here is in the forums with discussions of all types in our Complete Randomness section, tech help in our computer sections, talk of Apple computer and its products in the Apple sections, and the like. Most of the people in the forums have been there since the mid-1990s when PowerWatchers began as a website devoted to Power Computing computer users. We welcome new people who need Apple computer help, have networking questions, or just want to shoot the breeze about the latest movie they’ve seen or rant about the politician that took over their TV that day. Jump in! The water is fine — well, at least it isn’t too rough most of the time.

Entry Date: May 11th, 2007 by dean

More Sci Fi on Classic TV Theme Friday!


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My hunt for the more obscure science fiction shows continues. Maybe they just aren’t mentioned much. Maybe they’ve been forgotten for a reason. Whatever the case, they could end up here (before we hit the usual suspects from Twilight Zone to Star Trek)

Before this show in the 70s, my parents knew David McCallum from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. People today will recognize him as the odd forensic scientist on NCIS. I present the power of a blue spandex body suit in:

The Invisible Man

Because it’s my unashamed hope that PowerWatchers will get many thousands of Google hits from people looking for information on the new Spiderman 3 movie, we’ll count comic book heroes in sci fi today. Before the big splashy movies, people wanting live action Spiderman pretty much had Nicholas Hammond to thank:

The Amazing Spiderman

Okay, thank Nicholas Hammond and his stunt double in the spidey suit.

BONUS VIDEO: (More Spidey google hits, hooray!)

Spiderman — 60s Cartoon Theme

Entry Date: May 11th, 2007 by dean

TJMaxx’s Insecure Network Gives Away Millions of Customer Credit Card Numbers


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PowerWatcher Julian warns us in our Complete Randomness forum that if you have purchased anything at T.J.Maxx or Marshall’s over the past few years with a credit card, you better recheck all your transactions closely. Apparently hackers aimed a telescopic antenna at one of their stores, ended up on an unsecured wireless network node, and were able to grab credit card numers. It’s the biggest known credit card number theft in history. Just how big? Try at least 45.7 million credit- and debit-card numbers big from 18 months of data they were able to download. Julian’s banks have reissued him new cards because of this breach.

More information on the issue can be found at ZDNet on George Ou’s Real World IT blog. Two articles of particular interest are:

I’m not usually fond of scaremongering media, but in this case we need to be scared, and we have to make these retailers understand that we want them to be more than just duly diligent with our financial information! As it is, confusion and denial among retailers is putting our money at risk. For example, George Ou notes this incident:

When I worked as a security consultant for major retailers and organizations during 2004 to 2005, I knew this was a time bomb waiting to go off because the vast majority of businesses and retailers were running bad wireless LAN security with blatantly weak security. Many businesses refused to fix their security and refuse to this day, through a combination of ignorance and denial. Some businesses and retailers listened and upgraded their security to WPA; others flat-out refused. I actually had one client go the extra mile to buy all-new WPA-capable equipment, only to be told in the end that they would only implement WEP because that was the “standard” their corporate head quarters used.

The emphasis is mine. It illustrates the crazy top-down mentality which corporations force throughout their various layers, and when it comes to security nothing should get in the way. The second Ou article above covers several retailers besides T.J.Maxx and Marshall’s which Ou tested himself to see which was using the outdated insecure WEP encoding and and which was using the more secure WPA encoding for wireless connections. It’s well worth a read.

Have you had a problem with this TJMaxx issue or others involving wireless networks and retailers? Join us in our forums and tell us about it. An account is necessary to post and read our catch-all Complete Randomness forum, but a couple of our tech-related forums are an open read for everyone.

Entry Date: May 4th, 2007 by dean

Classic TV Theme Friday — SciFi Edition


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I may not get much up on the blog during the week, but I’m not going to forget my classic TV themes! We’re still in the Science Fiction mode. Let’s start off with a real favorite of mine. While I played Star Trek with my friends, I really liked being Admiral Harriman Nelson or Captain Lee Crane from:

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

The black and white ones are great. The series devolved into monster-of-the-week later on due to pressure from ABC. What was it with TV networks thinking all the people wanted was rubber-suit monsters? At least they had that glorious flying sub.

Next, before science fiction and westerns were combined in Firefly… Before the fantastic inventions made by Socrates Poole in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.… Before steampunk became steampunk, there was:

The Wild, Wild West

Oh, what the hell. Because I mentioned it, and because Bruce Campbell is a genius:

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

Enjoy!

Entry Date: April 27th, 2007 by dean

Classic TV Theme Friday Goes SciFi


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I think I’m done with 70s detective show themes now. Sure, there are more, but it’s time to move on. I’m now going to hit on some Sci Fi TV show themes. These will include spooky shows and fantasy style shows, as well. And, like before, I will focus on some lesser known ones first before playing a few of the better known ones. So, don’t expect to see Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galactica until the end of this run.

However, because I may not get to do many of these before my move coming up second week of May, I will start off with one of my favorite monster shows ever:


The Night Stalker

And one a little less known, I bet:


Fantastic Journey

This show starred Ike Eisenmann, who as a kid I wanted to be like since seeing him in Escape to Witch Mountain. It also had Roddy McDowell, who I’ve always liked, and Jared Martin who went on to star in several other sci-fi shows.

Do you have a favorite sci-fi show that few others might remember? Pass it on to me in our forums, and I’ll see if I can fine the theme to post here!

Entry Date: April 20th, 2007 by dean

Classic TV Theme Friday is here!


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This week, I’ve decided to pick from the several I have been holding back for last. They are among the most popular detective shows of the 70s and probably have the most recognizable theme songs ever. Maybe you never watched Mannix or Cannon, but surely you’ve heard of:


The Rockford Files


Hawaii Five-0

I always played Steve McGarrett when my best friend and I played Hawaii Five-0. And, yes, we sang the theme song and did the turning around to the camera/freeze-frame bits. Another Rockford Files theme sequence is here, but the uploader didn’t allow embedding. Sound quality is a bit better. Before Bart Simpson had something different to write on the blackboard before each episode of The Simpsons, Rockford had different phone messages, so check this second one out, too.