Friday, March 28, 2008
Whether you're just getting started or have been running a PC repair business for a while, there are several factors that will help you run a successful business. Here are five of the easiest ways to make your PC repair business a success:
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Five steps - that's all it takes to fix your customers' PCs. As an active PC tech for the last few years, I was regularly asked how I troubleshoot problems. It was a single question with a thousand answers, and one I'm sure most of you field every day.
Narrowed down, here are my Top 5 Quick and Dirty PC Troubleshooting Steps:
Friday, March 21, 2008
For those of you just tuning in, I'm working on a project to statically analyze an untyped code base to try to bring some of the advantages of typed languages to the code base.
The first step is to figure out which language I should write a static analysis tool for. This is obviously an important decision with quite a few implications both at the beginning, during the creation of the parser, and at the end when we try to find an actively developed code base to look at.
The first requirement is that it be a relatively popular, untyped language. Let's look at some languages:
Thursday, March 20, 2008
For a few hours last nite, you likely were surprised if you visited our blog. It seems someone thought it would be funny to hijack our site, and redirect traffic to an inappropriate and unrelated site.
Frankly, it's pretty un-funny to us. We want our site to be a place were people like you can find interesting technical and topical information.
If any of you were offended, our apologies.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
One of the early steps to my static analysis project is to parse the language that I'm going to analyze. I'd like to form a relatively clean Abstract Syntax Tree that I can play with later.
C++ has a lot of advantages over C for this sort of thing. It's got an enormous amount of machinery that can be used to build high level abstractions without sacrificing much more runtime overhead than you're willing to pay for.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Gibson's suit against Activision for patent infringement would be laughable if it wasn't such a crystal clear example of how the patent process is being abused.
Briefly, Gibson says that Activision stole its patented idea that lets guitar players inject their licks and chops into some larger score as part of a virtual reality program. Back in the mid 90s, I actually had a program on an old Mac that let me do something like this with my old guitar (a Martin, not a Gibson); I don't remember the name of the app, but it was fun even though the pre-mixed music was pretty hokey.
But really; Guitar Heroes as a VR concert? Yes, I've seen folks pretend they are Slash, The Edge, or Keith Richards while in the throes of Guitar Heroes. In fact, I could probably embarrass (but won't) at least one of my PC-Doctor colleagues who does a great Pete Townsend impression.
But here's the point: Not one of them has actually played a power chord or plucked a note. Why? Because the Gibsonesque guitar (that Activision licenses from Gibson, oh by the way) is a game controller, not a musical instrument. At the risk of bursting a few bubbles, the people playing Guitar Hero aren't playing music at all.
Here's hoping that cooler heads will prevail and this patent harassment is stopped sooner rather than later.
Monday, March 10, 2008
A while ago I wrote about whether or not untyped languages were a good idea or a bad idea. I didn't come to any real conclusions at the time, and it's bothered me. I'd like to outline a way to gather some real conclusions now. I still won't be able to come to a conclusion, but I think this approach sounds interesting.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to untyped languages. One of the disadvantages is that, because variables have no type, you can assign the wrong type to them. A strongly typed language can avoid most of this problem. (You might still have problems involving type conversion, but a good programmer or a strict language can avoid those problems.)
Thursday, March 6, 2008
I found this Netflix article just fascinating - Netflix has found a way to extract value from knowledge experts thousands of miles away who are giving the company value before ever getting paid.
We at PC-Doctor have our own software development challenges and we sure should look closely at the way Netflix is innovating. To sum up the problem. Netflix is trying to improve upon Cinematch, its movie recommending software, in an effort to increase and retain subscribers. To do so, it didn't hire more developers, it outsourced the work . . . sort of . . . or at least their model seems to work like outsourcing. Yet, their model is many times better.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
The decision by Toshiba to drop HD DVD was just enough motivation for me to find out for myself which standard is ultimately better: HD DVD or Blueray (I'll name them HD and BD from now on for simplicity). I don't want to rehash the marketing glossies which overlook the entire mess of the implementation. In fact, I believe that the only useful pieces of information from the marketing slicks are the following:
- HD stores about 15 GB per layer, and 30GB per side of a disc.
- BD stores about 25 GB per layer, and 50GB per side of a disc.
- BD uses a subset of Java for interactivity, with the specification inspired by Sony.
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