Upgrading a Compaq Evo D510 for Windows 10 and beyond

I had an old Compaq Evo D510 full-size tower/desktop convertible PC, from the Pentium 4/Windows XP era, that I wanted to upgrade. The machine long ago outlived its usefulness–its Pentium 4 CPU is less powerful than the average smartphone CPU while consuming enough power to be a space heater–but the case is rugged, professional looking, and long since paid for. So I thought it was worth dropping something more modern into it.

I chose the Asrock Q1800, which sports a quad-core Celeron that uses less than 10 watts of power and runs so cool it doesn’t need a fan. It’s on par with an early Intel Core 2 Duo when it comes to speed, which won’t turn any heads but is plenty fast to be useful, and the board can take up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM and it’s cheap. I put 16 GB in this one of course. I loves me some memory, and DDR3 is cheap right now.

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Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

The Commodore brand is back again, this time on an Android smartphone. For a premium price, you get an Android 5.0 phone with the Commodore logo on it, preloaded with VICE and an Amiga emulator, which, between the two of them, emulate just about everything Commodore ever made, except, perhaps, the products that can be emulated with the Android calculator app.

But I don’t expect this attempt to be any more successful than earlier efforts to resurrect the brand.

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Meet Waze, the crowdsourced GPS

I’ve read a few things here and there about Waze, a crowdsourced GPS that runs on smartphones, including those that run Android, Apple, and Windows. Its premise is simple: Based on how traffic is moving, it figures out the fastest way to get where you want to go. It adds intelligence to the GPS.

The trade-off, of course, is that it’s tracking you too. The data is anonymized, they promise, but it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a showstopper.

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All-in-One WP Security and Firewall plugin can be spectacular, but be careful

Over the weekend I installed the All-in-One WP Security and Firewall plugin to fix another issue–more on that tomorrow–and I ended up breaking my site. Hopefully I fixed it to a better state than it started in.

The lesson, as with many security tools, is to proceed with caution.

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Build the best, most secure wifi in your neighborhood

My neighbor asked me for advice on setting up wi-fi in his new house. I realized it’s been a while since I’ve written about wi-fi, and it’s never been cheaper or easier to blanket your house and yard with a good signal.

Blanketing your house and yard while remaining secure, though, is still important.

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PCs are dead! Tablets are hot! Tablets are dead! PCs are hot!

In a shocking turn of events, PCs are now outselling tablets. Last year it was the opposite. What’s going on?

Priorities, that’s all. It’s the cycle of events in electronics. It’s happened before and it’s going to happen again as the market matures. Read more

The ultimate budget smartphone: The Moto E

I wanted to like the Moto E, for sentimental reasons. The Motorola who made this phone isn’t the same Motorola who made the MC68000 CPU in my Amiga, and it’s not the same Motorola that built the hulking briefcase-sized bag phone Dad toted around in the 1980s, but the logo is the same.

The stingy Scottish miser in me wanted to like the phone too, because it costs $129. A few short months ago, the only phones you could buy new for under $130 were cheaply made no-name phones like the Blu Advance with half a gig of RAM, a low-visibility screen, a low-end processor you didn’t want and an Android that was a few versions out of date, encased in lots of cheap plastic. Next to the Moto E, the Blu phones lose what little appeal they had.

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The droid I’m looking for: The $129 Moto E

On Tuesday, Motorola announced the Moto E, a new low-end, $129 phone. Sporting a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, a single-core GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and a micro SD slot for expandability, it’s a modest phone for modest needs. It won’t be much good for gaming, but it’ll be a nice upgrade over my aging Samsung Galaxy S 4G, and I can take it to T-Mobile, where I have an unsubsidized, bring-your-own-phone plan. Not having a subsidized phone plan saves me about $100 per year, which pays for the phone. When the phone dies, I’ll buy whatever’s available at a comparable price then, which will be better than the most expensive phone on the market right now. There wasn’t anything out there like the Moto E in 2011 when I bought the SGS4G.

I’m probably the kind of person Motorola had in mind for this phone. I use my smartphone but I don’t live on it. I use it to check e-mail, occasionally look something up on the web, use it to download and listen to podcasts, and I have a few apps loaded on it to take advantage of having a dual-core computer in my pocket, but I don’t game or use social media on it. I also don’t use my phone as a status symbol. Give me two cores and a gig of RAM, and I can do everything I need or want to do.

I’ve been tempted by several of Blu’s supercheap phones, but their 512 MB of RAM was a dealbreaker. This costs $40 more than the Blu Advance I’d been eyeing, but to my mind it’s worth it. It ships with 1 GB of RAM, which is more usable, and Android 4.4, which is better suited to the Blu Advance’s skimpy memory than the OS Blu ships with it. Plus it’s guaranteed to get at least one update from Motorola. On top of that, Motorola ships its phones with a better screen and more durable build quality than Blu does. And, given Motorola’s storied past, the Motorola name is worth at least something to me.

I’m also sure the phone will sell well enough to get an aftermarket following, to extend its life even further by delivering future Android releases to it. The Moto G has good aftermarket ROM support, so I would expect the Moto E to follow.

The U.S. release date is June 3. I have better things to do than wait outside for a store to open to get one on that day, but I may very well get one sometime in June.

The publicity around security is a good thing

On one of the podcasts I listen to, two of the hosts questioned whether the publicity around recent security vulnerabilities are a good thing.

As a security professional who once studied journalism, I think it’s a very good thing, and it’s going to get better. I liken it to the rise of computer virus awareness. Read more

Spritz promises to revolutionize speed reading

I found a reference this week to Spritz, a promising smartphone/tablet app to help people read faster. Much faster. I tried the demo of the technology and could almost keep up with its 500 word-per-minute pace right away.

Now, I’ve always been a fairly fast reader, though I’ve never felt any need to have someone time my speed. I just know I read faster than most of my classmates did. But I know I don’t normally read anywhere near 500 words per minute. My typical blog posts are usually about 750 words, so that would be reading one of my posts in a minute and a half.

I’m interested in it, though, because I’ve resolved to read more this year. You can roughly estimate 100 pages at 25,000 words, so at 500 words per minute you could read a 200-page book in about an hour and 40 minutes.

I’m not sure I would want to rush through something really dense and technical at that rate–especially not something like the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge–but when the other choice is not reading at all, it’s obviously much better than that. And nothing says you have to pick one way of reading or the other. You can read a book quickly and come back and read the tougher parts more slowly. Some people say you shouldn’t read without taking notes; but running a book through Spritz is a fast way to find out if a book is worth sitting down and reading with a pad of paper–or, ahem, laptop with a word processor–next to it.

Details of how it will work are a bit sparse. Hopefully the app will be able to read your existing e-book library. If it exists as a walled garden where you have to buy books within the Spritz app, that seems like it would limit its usefulness to me. We’ll see. This is definitely a technology I want to track.