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Find capitalized words in Libreoffice or Openoffice

Sometimes you need a way to find capitalized words in Libreoffice or Openoffice. This can make it easier to figure out if the word needed to be capitalized, in the case of a poorly written or edited document. Then you can make a decision whether the capitalization was appropriate.

Another time you would need to find capitalized words in Openoffice or Libreoffice would be when you’re creating an index. I’m sure there are others.

It’s easier than it sounds.
Read More »Find capitalized words in Libreoffice or Openoffice

HP splits in two.

Don’t you feel like trying something new
Don’t you feel like breaking out
Or breaking us in two
You don’t do the things that I do
You want to do things I can’t do
Always something breaking us in two –Joe Jackson

After years of buying up companies, HP is splitting up. While that’s probably more prudent that exiting the desktop PC business, which is another idea they flirted with in the past, it’s anyone’s guess how this is going to work out.

But it’s what all the cool kids are doing, so it’s what the investors want, and that means HP is going to do it.Read More »HP splits in two.

Why I set work aside for a while before calling it done

A former supervisor called me the other day. He’s having quality control issues at his new gig, and quality control was one of the things I did when I was working for him. He wanted my insight. And he was very direct with one question he asked me.

“You would always set work aside and then come back to it,” he said. “Why?”

He knew my tactic worked, but wanted to know why it worked.Read More »Why I set work aside for a while before calling it done

Cringely takes on Ashton Kutcher’s movie about Steve Jobs

Mark Stephens, a.k.a. Robert X. Cringely, wrote last week about his disappointment in Ashton Kutcher’s movie Jobs, about the late Apple co-founder and CEO.

Here’s the most important part of his quasi-review:

[S]omething happened during Steve’s NeXT years (which occupy less than a 60 seconds of this 122 minute film) that turned Jobs from a brat into a leader, but they don’t bother to cover that. In his later years Steve still wasn’t an easy guy to know but he was an easier guy to know. His gut for product was still good but his positions were more considered and thought out. He inspired workers without trying so much to dominate or hypnotize them.

Indeed.Read More »Cringely takes on Ashton Kutcher’s movie about Steve Jobs

Cable connections are the last thing most people check…

Fed up with trying to host a network printer on a Windows 7 box on a mixed network, I broke down and bought a Jetdirect card for my aged HP Laserjet 4100. Don’t worry–used Jetdirect cards are cheap these days. I paid $7 for mine.

Of course I made installing it harder than I needed to. I’m a professional. Don’t try this at home.Read More »Cable connections are the last thing most people check…

How to find all the capitalized words in a Word document

I recently edited a long document whose original author capitalized way too many words. I needed to fix it. To speed up the process, I needed a way to find capitalized words in Word–all of them, and automatically. Then I could make a decision whether the capitalization was appropriate.

Another time you would need to find capitalized words in Word would be when you’re creating an index. I’m sure there are others.

It’s easier than it sounds.
Read More »How to find all the capitalized words in a Word document

Shame on you, Medtronic

Insulin pumps marketed by Minneapolis-based Medtronic have a serious, life-threatening security flaw, and the company couldn’t care less.

For these two reasons, this isn’t your typical security flaw, and Medtronic’s response–in 30 years, we’ve ever seen a problem that we know of–is beyond deplorable. Ford’s infamous decision to pay lawsuits rather than fix a deadly flaw in the Pinto comes to mind.
Read More »Shame on you, Medtronic

Is it OK to sell gifts on eBay?

This is a followup to Friday’s post. I really should let this go, but the journalist in me loves a great story, and this story has lots of twists and turns and weirdness.

I wrote on Friday about several people giving gifts to someone they thought was a disabled Gulf War II veteran who was getting into the hobby. As parts of his story began to fall apart, there was a falling out. For some people, the biggest slap in the face came when the gifts they had sent him showed up on eBay.I don’t want to delve into whether the recipient of the gifts was a war veteran, except to say there are enough inconsistencies in his story that some people began to question everything, even up to and including whether he even was a real person. He had either told me or posted in a message on the forum that he was disabled and walked with a cane, but in my digging I found a craigslist posting looking for odd manual-labor jobs, such as cutting down trees. It was in the right town, he was willing to accept Lionel trains as payment, and the writing had the same mistakes in capitalization, punctuation, apostrophe usage, and grammar that I was used to seeing in his messages on the forum. I’m pretty sure it was the same person.

War veteran or not, this illustrates a willingness to change his story if it might gain him an advantage in his situation.

After the trains showed up on eBay, one person contacted the owner of the account. She said she was letting him use her eBay account to sell them, and said she had some awareness of the situation but didn’t want to say anything else other than they were gifts, so wasn’t he free to do anything with them that he chose?

And that really got me thinking.

I guess selling gifts on eBay is becoming more common. I tried to see if Emily Post had written anything about reselling gifts but I couldn’t. I know my friends and I used to snicker at the Ben Folds lyric in "Brick" that went, "Then I walk down to buy her flowers / And sell some gifts that I got."

The way I was raised, for the most part you kept gifts out of respect for the gift-giver. Exceptions were clothes that didn’t fit, or duplicate gifts. And hopefully, as you enjoyed those gifts, it reminded you of the giver and your relationship with that person.

I’ll admit, a lot of the toys I received as gifts as a child ended up in a garage sale. I was 13, I had a room full of toys I’d outgrown, we were moving, and it was time to move on. They’d had a good, long run.

The other exception for me was post-breakup. After a relationship ended, generally I would get rid of the things the ex-girlfriend had given me as part of my moving on process. The stuff would end up at Goodwill, where hopefully someone would get some benefit from it.

One could make an argument that in the case of these trains, the conditions were similar to the post-breakup. But I don’t think so. The first item that showed up on eBay was a Lionel 1501 Lackawanna 4-8-4. That locomotive had a story. It started with him being invited into an elderly man’s basement, where he saw a giant O gauge layout, and this gentleman saw how much he appreciated the layout and the collection and gave him several gifts, including the Lackawanna 4-8-4 and a Lionel ZW transformer. "I will always cherish the Lackawanna 4-8-4 I received from my friend," he wrote on the forum.

"Always" ended sometime before 12 July 2007 at 05:18:30 PDT, when the cherished locomotive sold on eBay for $150 using buy-it-now. The eBay listing said there was nothing wrong with the locomotive, it was just too big for his layout so he decided to sell it.

The gentleman who gave him the locomotive had nothing to do with the falling out he had with his other train buddies. According to the story he posted on the forums, this gentleman died less than three weeks after he gave him the locomotive.

When he died, there was no fanfare, no tribute. Just a brief, matter-of-fact statement, something like, "With his passing, I’ve been wondering what will happen to the trains." Then someone asked if he had died. The response was simple. "I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. Yes, he died."

That’s pretty insensitive.

Of course, one possibility is that the gentleman who gave him this locomotive was a fabrication and he received the locomotive a different way. If that’s the case, then he isn’t insensitive. He’s just dishonest.

A lot of other people sent him trains because they wanted someone less fortunate than them to be able to enjoy their hobby. Spending time together in person wasn’t realistic, but maybe as he ran those trains in the basement, he’d remember the people who gave them to him, enjoy them, and the bond could grow that way.

When those trains ended up on eBay almost immediately after someone pointed out how he had told two people different stories about himself that contradicted each other, they came to a conclusion: This man had been telling stories to take advantage of them for financial gain.

Trains aren’t especially easy to pack and mail, and they aren’t cheap to send. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to send cash. Of course, giving him money wasn’t the idea. The idea was to introduce someone else to the hobby you love, in hopes he would enjoy it as much as you did. Send someone cash, and for all you know, the money is just buying beer.

Seeing a price on those trains was like seeing a price on your friendship. And in the case of the "treasured" Lackawanna 4-8-4, the price seemed arbitrary, and perhaps even insultingly low. I found one and only one locomotive like it in eBay’s recent sales. It sold for $281.

Is this Apple a surprise to anyone?

So, Apple unveiled its new Imac today. (I’m sick of improper capitalization. We speak English, not C++.) To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, it has a bigger screen. And I’m sure it’s not too surprising that they crammed everything into the unit next to the screen. It’s the next logical step, after the lamp-shaped Imac.

So how’s it gonna do?I think it has potential. Do people really want laptops because they can carry them everywhere they go, or do they want laptops because they can move them about the house freely and don’t have to have a dedicated “computer room”?

I suspect to most people, the latter is more important. Most people have better things to do with their lives than surf the ‘net at Starbucks or Panera Bread.

This new Imac can go on a small desk in a study or spare bedroom and not take over an entire wall the way computers have been doing since the late 1970s. As long as there’s a way to add some memory, and there are ports for people to plug in their digital cameras and their portable MP3 players and a printer, they’ll be happy.

Who knows, maybe demand for wireless printers will increase too.

Some analysts have said they don’t think all-in-one is the slam dunk it was in 1998. I agree it isn’t, but small is a slam dunk. Witness the explosive popularity of cube PCs. Yes, it flopped for Apple, but Apple’s cubes lacked the flexibility, there was too much confusion about their expandability and what exactly they were compatibile with–I designed a Mac network for a client right around the time the Cube was released, but the rumor was it would only work with Apple monitors. That alone killed the deal. They bought G4 towers instead, which would work with NEC and Viewsonic monitors.

But the other problem with the Cube was the price. Yes, it was cheaper than a G4 tower. But the price difference wasn’t enough to make people willing to take a chance on it. And besides, if it was cheapness you wanted, there were at least four companies willing to sell you a PC for half the price of a Cube. Emachines would even sell you a PC for half the price of an Imac.

And that’s the biggest problem I see with this new Imac: price. $1299 gets you in the game. Ten years ago, that was cheap. But this isn’t 1994. Emachines didn’t exist in 1994, and while a Mac would cost you more than a Packard Bell, there wasn’t much price difference between a Mac and a Compaq or an IBM. Compaq or IBM usually had one model that sold for a hundred or two less than the cheapest Apple, and Apple usually wouldn’t give you quite as much CPU speed or quite as much disk space, but if you walked into the store with $1500 in your pocket, which was pretty much the selling price of an average PC, you could walk out with a Mac just as easily as you could walk out with something that ran Windows.

What will Dell give you today for $800? 2.8 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 40 GB hard drive, CD burner, printer, 17-inch monitor, and some software.

For the same money, Apple gives you 1.25 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 40 GB HD, CD burner, and a 17-inch display. No printer.

For $1,299, the price of the new Imac, Dell gives you twice the CPU power and twice the memory. Just not as much wow factor.

Yes, I know the Pentium 4 is a horribly inefficient processor but the design does scale surprisingly well, and efficiency alone won’t make up a 1.6 GHz speed deficit. Besides, if you’re willing to spend four figures, you can get an AMD Opteron. Just not from Dell.

Will this Imac sell? Yes. Will it do much to increase Apple’s 2.2 percent market share? I doubt it. The main audience is going to be people with aging CRT-based Imacs who’ve been holding out for something with a G5 in it. They’ll buy it, find it’s a lot faster than their old one and takes up less space. Of course they’ll like it. But it’s still the Amiga problem. The Amiga didn’t take over the market because it it only sold 6 million units. The Amiga was a commercial failure because those 6 million units sold to 1.5 million people.

People will ooh and ah over how little space this new Imac takes and how convenient its wireless keyboards are. But most of them will buy a Dell because it’s faster. Or cheaper. Or both. Maybe they’ll complain about how much less convenient it is, but it’s just as likely they’ll forget about it.

It happened with the first Imac and it happened with the Cube and it happened with the dual G4 and it happened with the G5. Who are we kidding? To some extent, it’s been happening since 1983 when the Lisa came out. People see the machine and it knocks their socks off until they see the price tag. The classes buy it anyway, while the masses figure out how to get by with something cheaper.

History is going to repeat itself one other way too. Somewhere in the Far East, I guarantee you a no-name maker of whitebox PCs is designing a box that puts the brains of the outfit behind the LCD, just like this Imac. Maybe the thought didn’t occur to the designer until this week. Maybe the designer has been working on it for months already.

It will look a lot like this new Imac, only it will have an AMD or Intel processor in it, and it will run Windows. It might be three months before we see it. It might even be six. But it will appear, and it will be priced under $1,000.

It will sell. And within another six months, everyone will be doing it. This new form factor may not come to dominate the market, but it won’t take much for it to outsell this new Imac. A small percentage of 97.8 percent is likely to be a lot bigger than even a large percentage of 2.2 percent. Compared to the new Imac, these clones will look like a runaway success.

And Mac fanatics will be screaming about another Apple innovation stolen by someone else.

Thinking on Compaq Presario upgrades

I’m going to be upgrading a Compaq Presario 7360 here pretty soon. It should be fun to shatter some of the myths surrounding recent Compaqs. It’s a standard microATX PC, nothing more, nothing less. With a $20 replacement power supply ( calls the form factor used by low-end eMachines, Compaq, HP, and Gateway PCs “mini ATX”), it’ll handle any modern microATX motherboard.
Buying a new PC is easier, and if this PC were going to anyone else, I’d probably just tell the person to buy whatever the local consumer electronics store is hawking in its post-Christmas sales, or whatever Dell has for $349-$399. But for the technically savvy (or those who have a local computer store that’s honest and savvy and don’t mind paying for the use of that privelige), upgrading in pieces still makes sense. A motherboard based on an Nvidia Nforce2 (I’m sick of goofy capitalization) costs $65. Add a $36 1.6 GHz Duron CPU, a $10 fan, and a $35 256MB stick of DDR memory to go with the $20 power supply, and that Presario becomes a formidible computer for not a lot of money.