Sunday, December 31, 2006

Is this 2007 or 1997?

As we enter 2007, almost all Net users in Malaysia will only be able to surf at modem-like speeds, or worse. After years of using broadband, it feels a bit surreal. To add to the surreality, a fair number of major websites are still unreachable, almost as if they never existed. I found that even the mighty Google was inaccessbile at times.

As my colleague H. Amir Khalid wrote for In.Tech:
It's 1997 all over again for Net users
Apparently, Jaring users will be worse off. According to Jaring CEO Mohd Awang Lah, the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN 2) was not the only one damaged. The FLAG Cable network, which is one of Jaring's main backup lines, was also hit by the earthquake.
The slow Net access must be particularly frustrating for MMO (massively multiplayer online) gamers. Interestingly, I had signed up for a free 10-day trial of World of Warcraft about a week ago. Since the earthquke, WoW has been unplayable; you either can't log in or you get booted out after a few minutes. Maybe it's for the better; despite all the hype about WoW, it doesn't seem too compelling to me. I'm only a level 13 Paladin, BTW. WoW feels very much like Everquest II, which I played for only two months before getting bored.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all, and here's to faster and more reliable Net access in the year ahead.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Net access severely affected by quake

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan early this morning (the 27th). Unfortunately, it also damaged major undersea cables (submarine cables) which is causing a slowdown in Internet access for most of Asia. No word yet on when the problem will be fixed. Most ISPs have issued statements saying "traffic diversion and restoration works are currently in progress" or something similar.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

No In.Tech on Boxing Day

The Star will not be published on Dec 26 due to the Christmas break. That also means no In.Tech this Tuesday. The Star will be back on Wednesday, Dec 27. While the next In.Tech will appear on Thursday, Dec 28.

Happy Holidays, all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shared memory means less for OS

An In.Tech reader inquired recently:

I bought a computer recently with the following specifications:
Processor: AMD Sempron 3000+ 64-bit
Motherboard: A33G SATA ATX
Memory: 512MB

However, when I did a system information check, I noticed that the memory showed this information:
Total physical memory: 447.30MB
Available physical memory: 212.26MB

Have I been short-changed?

A. Samy
via e-mail

It sounds like you have a motherboard with integrated graphics, or as it is sometimes called, built-in graphics.
The A33G motherboard is from PCChips and the website specifications indicate “Embedded Mirage Graphics with 128MB shared memory”, which is also another way of saying integrated graphics.
As the phrase suggests, the graphics system is sharing part of your main memory, which results in decreased memory for the operating system and other programs. In your case, about 64MB is being used by the graphics system.
If you’re concerned about memory usage, you can reduce the amount used for graphics via the BIOS settings, which are accessible during startup. If you’re not playing games on your PC, you can get by with just 32MB or even 16MB for the graphics.
However, the better alternative is to just buy more RAM. These days, RAM prices are quite reasonable. Your mobo is listed as using DDR2 RAM; if you’re buying new RAM, make sure it matches the speed of your existing RAM.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Outsourcing: Multi-super what?

A BusinessWeek feature examines the trend of companies increasingly sending IT work to hubs outside India. Ominously, Malaysia is not even mentioned as an outsourcing destination.
Outsourcing: Beyond Bangalore
"So companies are setting their sights on a slew of emerging hot spots for IT outsourcing. Need a multilingual workforce adept at developing security systems and testing software? Buna ziua, Bucharest. Want low-cost Linux developers? Bienvenidos a Buenos Aires, where many companies adopted open-source software after the devaluation of the peso in 2002 made licenses from abroad prohibitively expensive. Other cities on the list include Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia and Prague in the Czech Republic, according to consulting firm neoIT. Other hot spots include Mexico City, São Paulo, and Santiago in Latin America; and within Asia, Dalian, China, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

AutoHotkey and regular expressions

I've been using AutoHotkey, a powerful scripting language, for about a year. During this time, I've written several programs to make my work at In.Tech easier. A few of my colleagues also use the programs and they seem to like what I've created. The latest version of AutoHotkey (1.0.45 and onward) now supports Regular Expressions, which makes it even more powerful.

AutoHotkey is open source and completely free, so there are no licensing issues. Plus, it has very helpful user community. So, if you need to automate boring/tedious tasks, and just need to code quick programs for solving special problems, give it a try.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Antivirus is Dead

I've heard this prediction a few times over the years. And now it seems to be finally happening. Let's start with a ZDNet report from July:
Why popular antivirus apps 'do not work'
which reveals that antivirus apps are largely useless against new trojans and viruses.
Then Info World's Roger A. Grimes asked in Sept:
Is the end of anti-virus finally here?

Now we have the CTO of BigFix who declares:
Anti-virus is Dead!
"Stand-alone, signature-based, anti-virus is dead. The stand-alone anti-spyware market is over too, if it even existed!"

On my systems, I dumped Norton Antivirus a few months ago because it seems to sap resources, and its product activation annoys me. I now use AVG Free Edition and the built-in Windows XP firewall. For anti-spyware I use AVG Anti-Spyware ( from the same company) plus I run the old standbys, Ad-Aware and Spybot occasionally.