The AnswersThatWork Blog

Thursday, 25th January 2007

18x optical zoom !!!!!

Guacamole !!!  Here I was, waiting excitedly for my new Casio Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-V7 7x optical zoom pocket camera to catch that woodpecker knocking itself silly at the end of the garden, and what do Olympus do today ?  They announce an 18x optical zoom SLR-like wonder of technical excellence and irresistible looks.  Now I can zoom right into the woodpecker's nostrils !

I remember betting with someone in the spring of 2005 that by mid 2006 we would see all in one SLR-like cameras with 500mm zooms.  In fact nothing happened in 2006 aside from crazy and often super megapixel counts.  But now....

Man, I like 2007 – we ain't finished January yet and already we have two new cameras taking photography into the previously unimaginable. 

Check out the Olympus SP-550 UZ: 18x ultra zoom here.

Man, I like 2007 !  I'm dizzy....

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Wednesday, 24th January 2007

Could MSN Search be the worst search engine on the planet ?

MM just read my blog of Monday and reminded me of something that amazed us so much when we were researching that Sysprep problem that we spent more time on that discovery than on our original Sysprep problem.

We ran  "The system is not fully installed.  Please run setup again"  against three search engines, in this order :  Google, Yahoo, MSN.

Google lists 3 pages from the Microsoft website starting at the third entry down the page.

Yahoo lists 3 pages from the Microsoft website starting from the first entry.

Now MSN.  Remember, this is Microsoft's own baby : MSN has 0 entries from the Microsoft knowledgebase in the first 5 pages of results – Nada, Nothing, Rien, Niente, Nichts, Zero !  On the 6th page we finally get totally non-relevant entries from the Microsoft website.  MM and I gave up after the 11th page.  We could not believe it.  It was so unbelievable we spent another half hour re-doing the search. Same result every time.  This is incredible stuff, and to spell it out again :  In January 2007, Microsoft's own darling search engine,, is unable to list, in any of the first 11 pages of search results, the extremely relevant links from Microsoft's own website which Google and Yahoo themselves list right on the first page !!!

Two days later and MM and I still can't believe it, so we had to tell the world – there you have it :  Could MSN Search be the worst search engine on our planet ?

Hasta Luego.

—— TopBlog

Monday, 22nd January 2007

The system is not fully installed. Please run setup again

Ever got this error :  "The system is not fully installed.  Please run setup again?

We got that on Friday last week when setting up a PC at a client.  Searched the Microsoft Knowledgebase and found nothing useful.  Searched the web – nada aqui tambien !  Everyone has identified exactly when the error occurs, but no-one has a definitive solution.

So when I got back to the office today I thought I'd experiment and work it out.  Roped in MM here and together we worked out the following :

  • The problem always occurs on the reboot after doing a  RESEAL  on a Sysprep setup  (that  reseal  may be a transparent  reseal  after restoring a PC with the System Recovery CDs that came with the PC).

  • A recent Microsoft Windows update has changed the Sysprep Reseal default setting of  "Use Mini-Setup"  from checked to unchecked.  If the IT engineer does not notice this and forgets to check  "Use Mini-Setup",  then on reboot after the  "Reseal",  the above error will occur.
    To correct this, re-image the hard disk with a Sysprep image.  Then, this time, ensure you check  "Use Mini-Setup"  before clicking RESEAL.  Job done.

Adios Amigos !

—— TopBlog

Sunday, 20th January 2007

You can't anchor anywhere you want any more !

Something caught my attention last week.  A large tanker carrying 4,500 tonnes of fertilizers suffered engine failure near the east coast of England, in the North Sea, with grave danger that the force 10 stormy seas might push it towards one of the gas platforms in the area, with devastating consequences.

Having already narrowly missed two gas platforms, the captain tried to drop the anchors to try to slow the drifting tanker, only to be asked by the Coastguard to raise them again to prevent the anchors ripping apart gas lines on the ocean floor !  Eventually a major tanker vs gas platform accident was averted, after two further gas platforms were missed.  A probably catastrophic ecological disaster was also averted as the ship was rescued by Coastguard tugs which towed it safely into port.

But having to raise the anchor because of gas pipes on the ocean floor really caught my attention.  What challenging world we live in nowadays ?  A potential catastrophe is playing out but the old sure fire method of stopping a boat from drifting, the anchor, cannot be used because of a network of gas pipes on the ocean floor.  I bet there are also a few telecoms cables down there too.

It is like the siting of schools in cities nowadays :  in many countries you cannot build a school in the vicinity of a cell phone relay mast (and quite rightly too).  And what about all the checks one needs to do when planning to build anything, particularly in a city :  is the site close to anything with historical significance which might put paid to any plans of developing anything;  does the ground need decontaminating because of past industries or past use (e.g. petrol/gas station);  are there major gas, electricity, water, or sewer pipes or tunnels below ground; is the city metro (tube/underground/transit) running below;  is there an underground natural water table or river you need to consider;  will it be disrupting a local animal reserve;  etc.., etc..  Phewwww.  I don't envy today's architects and engineers.

And what about space.  Did you know there are teams of scientists all over the world, NASA, France, UK, China, Japan, Canada, Germany, etc..., who track debris and rubbish in space, like old communications satellites, or parts from those satellites, like nuts and bolts ?  Yes, there are, and the reason is that a bolt orbiting the Earth at 50000mph evidently does a little bit of damage to anything it crashes into, like thoroughly destroying your brand new $5 Million satellite !  So every country or company that has satellites orbiting the Earth, also has a tracking team or employs a firm which specialises in tracking space rubbish so that if, say, a satellite and an orbiting piece of rubbish are on a collision course, the tracking team controls the satellite's mini boosters to slightly change the satellite's orbit thereby avoiding an entirely devastating "meeting".

Some challenging world this is when you can no longer automatically drop the anchor when in distress !  And to think that with all these orbiting dangers some companies are thinking of opening luxury hotels in space, orbiting the Earth.... Are they nuts ???

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Sunday, 13th January 2007

One dead birds mystery solved !

Well, well, well – would you believe it, it appears some birds clearly need to learn how to judge car speeds so they can fly across the highway safely.  The Longmont, Colorado mystery is solved – read here

This reminds me of an experience I had just yesterday.  I was driving home when I saw a town fox about to cross the street.

It was late, and there were no cars behind me.  Before crossing, the fox looked up in my direction, saw me, and..... waited !  I drove right past while it waited on the pavement.  I immediately looked up in the rear view mirror to see what the fox was going to do, and wasn't I amazed!  The fox next looked in the other direction (the direction I was disappearing into), waited for a car to come past, quickly looked the other way again (unbelievable!), and once the way was clear on both sides, it crossed the street !

Aren't these town foxes an educated lot !

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Thursday, 11th January 2007

Canaries in a coalmine ?

You all know the story :  in the ol' days coalminers brought canaries into the mines with them. We're talking the 1800's here.

The natural process which creates coal over millions of years also creates methane gas, the major component of natural gas.  Other gases found in coalmines include carbon monoxide.  Both gases are odourless, colourless, tasteless, and kill if breathed.  In addition, in the case of methane there is the risk of explosions.  As coalminers saw or blast into a coal deposit they can release large methane pockets which will explode spontaneously when coming into contact with the sparks generated by mining equipment, sometimes causing the total collapse of a mine.  This is why, before using heavy machinery into a new coal deposit, an important part of coalmining includes draining methane by cutting into a wall face and drilling holes into the coal to draw out and pipe out the methane to the surface.

Unfortunately, while piping the methane out reduces the likelihood of catastrophic explosions, it does not eliminate the constant seepages of carbon monoxide and methane, so there is still a need to detect the presence of these deadly and explosive gases in the air.  This is where the canaries came in.  It was found that canaries have a significantly higher sensitivity to either methane or carbon monoxide than humans, and will die before the gases start affecting humans.  Because canaries tend to sing most of the time they are awake, carrying a canary into the mines with the miners was both an excellent visual and audible alarm warning of impending disaster from those totally odourless deadly gases.  If the canary died the miners would immediately vacate the mine and increase the ventilation in the mine to remove the toxic gases.  They would then test the air quality with another canary and repeat the process till a bird survived thus indicating that all toxic gases had been removed.

Despite not being totally foolproof this system was still in use as late as the 1980s in many parts of the world because of its simplicity and cheapness compared to the more complex alternatives that were also invented in the 1800s, such as the Davy Lamp (called the Protector Garforth GR6S Flame Safety lamp today) – a dead non singing bird is rather easier to comprehend, even by me, than the complex evaluation of the size, colour and luminescence of a flame !  Additionally, these mine safety lamps which turned off if too much methane was in the air, did so at a stage later than a canary's death.

Nowadays, modern technology has come up with more reliable and more precise air quality monitoring devices, digital methanometers, together with corresponding alarm systems.

From those early coalmining days the expression  "canaries in the coal mine"  has been used as a metaphor for any warning sign which points to an impending disaster.

So, my point ?

Birds are dying suddenly, in dozens, in hundreds, in thousands at a time.  All of a sudden, with no warning, and no-one knows why so far.  That's a lot of dead birds all over the world, all of a sudden....

Here are some links to the facts – you decide (and do it fast !).

Canaries in a coalmine ?

Norfolk County, Idaho – 14-Dec-2006
Haute Marne, North-East France – 19-Dec-2006
Boise, Idaho – 6-Jan-2006
Austin, Texas – 8-Jan-2007
Watertown, South Dakota – 9-Jan-2007
Longmont, Colorado – 10-Jan-2007
Esperance, Australia – 10-Jan-2007
Colombo, Sri Lanka – 11-Jan-2007

—— (DK) άberGeek

Wednesday, 10th January 2007

Microsoft releases January's Windows Patches

The second Tuesday of the month has just been and gone and, as is custom, Microsoft released yesterday a number of patches to address vulnerabilities, particularly in Internet Explorer 7, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player.  A definite round of updates to install, we say.

For those of you who have  Automatic Windows Updates  turned OFF, as per our normal recommendation wait a week to 10 days in case there are major problems with the updates – this will allow Microsoft to pick up the problems and re-issue corrected updates without you having been affected.

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Tuesday, 9th January 2007

TUT 3.76 released

We released TUT 3.76 today.  A minor enhancement while we work on the Vista ready version of TUT :  ability to stop a service that is running but whose Startup Mode is set to Disabled.

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Monday, 8th January 2007

7x Optical Zoom right in your jeans front pocket !

Wow, Wow, Wow. It's taken 3 years to happen, it's taken endless and useless megapixel contests (as my colleague MM-2 explains in his November blog), and it's taken a significant sudden slump in worldwide sales of 3x optical zoom pocket cameras for camera manufacturers to finally realise that the everyday user is no longer impressed by mega megapixels when it comes to choosing a pocket digicam (say it again MM-2) – what the every day Joe and Nikki wants in their pocket, in their handbag, is something that zooms furrrrrrrrrrrrther.  Yes, furrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrther !

So, yet again, as they did 3 years ago, Casio is the first camera maker to come out with the digital camera of the future, and in so doing establish the standard by which all this year's pocket digicams will be judged :  a 7x optical zoom camera that you can keep right in your jeans front pocket – the Casio Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-V7.  Finally there is a pocket camera with which you can catch that woodpecker knocking itself silly at the end of your garden.  Congratulations to Casio on another world's first, yet again.

Check out the Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-V7 here.

Warning :  it's not in the shops or online yet and I've ordered mine already, so you may have to wait a little while before YOU can buy it.....

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Wednesday, 3rd January 2007

Buying a new laptop

Oh dear, have to move on.  It's a new year (wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2007 by the way).  It's tough tearing oneself away from all this wonderful space shuttle stuff, and all the feedback emails you've all sent, but Life goes on – time to talk about other things.

So, you've been cleaned out by all the Christmas presents buying, the New Year postcards, the festive break back with the family, the January bills, the Tax Returns. You're down to the last $500 and you need a new laptop.  The January sales are in full flow, there are online offers everywhere, and your friend, wife, husband, tell you they saw an incredible deal on laptops in the window of the downtown PC World yesterday evening.

That's it!  You're going downtown on Sunday to buy a laptop.  It's a good time of the year to buy one, you need one anyway, so your decision is made.  It WILL happen.

No problem – check out first our  Minimum Laptop Specs Recommendations  in our AnswersThatWork's Recommendations library.  It's a quick read, yet it will give you all the knowledge you need to ensure you get the best laptop for YOU !
Enjoy, and have a great time shopping !

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

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Andreas Lubitz, Germanwings 4U9525, and Pragmatism
Barack Obama, Julia Gillard, and Patrice Evra
Security in the Office
Football World Cup South Africa 2010 wallchart
Our Earth is Disturbed
Play your part in changing history
Let it Rain
Barack Obama, President-elect 2008
Most Tech Savvy State
McAfee Site Advisor Toolbar problems
Get Rich Quick
Josι Mourinho joins AnswersThatWork
Baby steps count too!
A new type of eBay fraud
TUT v4 is released
Amazing Space Shuttle facts and statistics
Disable Windows Vista's multiple confirmations
MSN Search does not cut it
Casio Exilim EX-V7
Canaries in a coalmine
IE7 configuration
CA nightmares and McAfee Site Advisor
Digital cameras
Philips makes us glow
Nokia 6234 / 6233
Fake antivirus programs