Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

My TFT monitor is back

I’m sure each of you can relate to the similar story that I’m about to tell.

In November last year, I got myself another computer at home. Since LG 1730 monitor I had did have both VGA and DVI jacks, I wanted to connect both comps to it, and use the built switcher to work with both. I connected my main comp to DVI and my new one to VGA. But DVI just refused to work. It detects when the cable is on or off - when it is off, it would display check signal cable. But when I start the comp, it will immediately go to Power saving mode and nothing I did could get it out of it. I changed cables, graphic cards, all in vain.

Thus the monitor went to service, at the first days of December. Few days after it, my dad was injured and then passed away, thus I forgot about it for days. I finally checked the status over the Internet and on the 16th I saw “completed, ready for pick up” status. I could not do that until 24th, when they surprised me with the information that it is not serviced, but that I have received a replacement invoice instead (they certainly need to debug that part of status application).

Trouble is - there was not a single monitor to be found in those days. Starting from January 1st, Serbia has the pleasure of the introduction of Value Added Tax (18%). Considering the fact that before that, almost all computer equipment was tax-free, computer sales in December sky-rocketed. Everyone were buying stuff, like it was free. I took the replacement note to my salesman, but he said sorry, but there is nothing I can do now. I sold more in the last month than in the previous 11 months combined..

Nothing surprising really, so I settled for the long wait.

Then came the New Year, then orthodox Christmas (Jan 7th) - the companies started working on Jan 10th, but because of VAT introduction and all the new paperwork, most started working on Jan 17th. As it happens to be the case, monitors were not in the first shipments that arrived, so I got my replacement on Jan 31st.

Whole two months! I used my old Belinea CRT until Jan 20th (when it went to my sister) and afterwards I used company laptops.

A series of unfortunate circumstances, something I hope never to experience again. I hold no grudge towards the companies (both the store where I bought and the importer). The man called me as soon as the monitor got in - I got it directly from the importer’s warehouse - and it is a nice thing to look at (brighter silver colour of the front panel). It seems that I got the newer series of TFT panels too, as they seem to be better made. Or so the guy from the warehouse told me, who checked the monitor closely - probably looking to buy one for him (he checked it using Doom 3 and looking for ghosts and blurs).

DVI is working now. The problem with the first one was the defective digital board. Everything worked in the old one, apart from the DVI logic. Strange problem, but it happens sometime.

Click keyboards

I type a lot. I mean, a lot. Code, email, documents, articles, whatever - keyboard is still the main input device for me, much more than mouse is.

All keybords should be like this

Now, ignoring the high-school time when I owned Amiga 500, I’m typing on PC keyboards for little over one decade. I changed probably two dozen keyboards in that time, either at home or various companies I worked for.

There is only one I really loved and that is Focus 2001, the old model, with Print Screen, Scroll Lock and Pause keys at the top. New model include stupid, useless Sleep/Wake/Power keys, and the middle part of the keyboard is totally ruined. A depressing-to-look-at successor, since the type-feel of this keyboard is fantastic. Just the right dose of pressure, clear clicking sound and desired letter is up - there’s no chance of mis-typing or false-typing, something often happening with my current HP-branded soft-touch garbage.

These sentences are written on the very same Focus; I found it in an old closet, wrapped away long time ago when some keys (both Shifts among them) deteriorated from unhuman usage (pinball simulators and Mortal Kombat). I unhinged the problematic keys (there was like 8-9 of them), clean them separately, washed the whole board, reattached the keys and it all worked, apart from the Space key, of which one under-part was broken. I worked-out a replacement using some plastic and glue, and it seems to work so and so.

Even so badly broken, it is better than membrane-based keyboards you can buy for 10 bucks in any store.

Product activation

As the company that sells envious amount of software, Microsoft has vast interest in fighting piracy and unauthorized use of its software. Since Office XP they introduced product activation. In the nutshell, this means that apart from required product key, you must activate the software with Microsoft in the first 30 days or 50 starts or something similar. Activation can be done over Internet or telephone.

It’s doubtful how effective this really is, since product activation can be voided with cracks. PA sounds like a good solution since it should prevent users of pirated software to do thing like automatic updates, but even that can be circumvented. I have no idea what impersonation routines Microsoft uses. I would expect AU service to ask for the product key and some sort of PA id which should not be easily faked or could be checked in some sort of internal database. This could also be nonsense.

But the locking of activation down to your computer innards - that is plain stupid. If you change any internal part - graphic card, hard disk, whatever - you need to repeat the activation. Death blow to the whole concept comes with the limited amount of activations per product key.

Let me illustrate…