Monday, August 18, 2014

My new Brother Wireless Printer (MCP-J470DW)

This post is unrelated to anything, just bantering.

This is my second wireless network printer. The setup was fairly easy, that is, easy if you DON'T follow the "quick setup guide" which is ridiculously confusing. After everything was working, I was having the occasional problem that almost every home network printer user knows about: the printer periodically goes off line. You could turn the printer off and on, or re-install the printer software, and it would go online, but the problem would still recur. I had this problem with the last printer, too, but at that point I was unaware that the solution is so blindingly simple. It is also stunning that the guidance that comes with these printers does not give you this information as standard instructions. And, evidently, almost every IT professional knows about this.
The solution?

Use a static IP address for the printer.

The technical explanation:
Usually, by default, your home network is set up to automatically assign IP addresses  to different devices on the network-- like computers, tablets, and network-enabled printers. This address is a unique identifier for all of the devices so that the router can communicate with each one separately. These "dynamic" addresses are assigned and reassigned periodically, as the devices come on and off the network. This process is called DHCP. The problem begins if the IP address for the printer changes, and is different than the one which was assigned when the printer software was installed on the computer. For whatever reason the printer software is "dumb" and the computer cannot track the printer at its new, changed IP address. When this happens the computer cannot see the printer and therefore thinks its disconnected. Restarting the printer or re-installing the software on the computer allows them to find each other again but the same problem will inevitably recur.

To prevent this from happening, you can use a static (permanent) IP address for the printer rather than a dynamic one. There are several ways of doing this, but the simplest way to accomplish this is the set it from the printer itself. Depending on your make and model this is done from the front panel of the machine or from the printer web interface which you access from a browser. You have to pick an IP outside the range of the DHCP which you router uses. You don't need to make any changes to the router, but you may need to check the router settings (via the web interface) to see what your DHCP range is. Make sure that the subnet (the first 3 parts of the IP address) are the same as the IPs assigned by DHCP, but the last part (after the 3rd dot) can be any number above the range up to 254. You enter this IP into the printer settings, and set "static" as the method for IP assignment. In Brother printers, this is found under the "network-->TCP/IP" menu.
After doing this, restart the printer and the computers, and you should be good to go.
The printer will remain online, because the computer always knows where to find the printer.

Why don't manufacturers include this basic information in the instructions? I am sure the countless hours of frustration and technical support calls are made because of offline printers.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Open Letter to the People of Gaza (and to their supporters)

What has already not been said about our conflict? We accuse you of terrorism and wanting to throw us into the sea, and you have endless grievances against the Zionist "occupation" and the blockade of Gaza.

In 2005, Israel left the Gaza strip, down to the very last soldier and settler. True, this did not include the West Bank, but this was a perfect experiment for us to see what your intentions were and what direction your society and leadership would take you when you were free of "occupation" . Would it be towards economic prosperity, development, trade and peace? As you know, until 2005, Gaza was never "free", so for the first time you could have shown us, and the whole world, what you were capable of when left to yourselves. No settlers or settlements, no soldiers, no roadblocks, no Israeli military law. Sadly, you chose an extremist, incompetent, and corrupt leadership that holds you ransom to its militant and religious agenda. You turned towards terrorism. Rather than building infrastructure, businesses, agriculture and open trade, under Hamas leadership you spent your resources on tunnels and rockets (which have no military value other than for terrorizing civilians).

Which "occupation" are you blaming now? The only occupation of Gaza now is Hamas.

As for the Israeli blockade, there would obviously be no need for it if you weren't attempting to smuggle weaponry which threatens Israeli citizens. You also have a border with Egypt with whom you can pursue your own agreements. The minute that you would commit to disarming, the boycott would be lifted and Israel would have no reason to attack Gaza.

In Gaza there are about 1.2 million people who are considered "refugees" by the UN. Yet Gaza is under Palestinian rule, so why are they being kept as refugees in territory ruled by their own nation? Can you imagine Jews escaping persecution coming to Israel and being kept permanently in refugee camps in Israel? Why have you not settled and absorbed them? Why do they, and their descendants,  remain refugees?
The answer is glaringly obvious:  they are intentionally being kept that way by your leaders and by other Arab countries, enabled by a misguided UN, to be used as political weapons against Israel, with the false promise that one day they will "go back" to their homes in Israel.  They and their suffering are being used as pawns in a cruel political game.

So, the only conclusion that an Israel citizen could make from your behavior, is that you have an unwavering long-term commitment to the destruction of Israel. You have done nothing to dispel this impression.

As such you cannot expect us to commit suicide, by either agreeing to your absurd demands or allowing you to defeat us militarily.

This means that any complaints about your continued suffering, be it from "occupation", blockades, or and other grievances, should be directed at your own leadership--and your own dysfunctional society, which goes from one disaster to the next.

Ask yourselves the following questions:

1. Since Hamas has taken over Gaza, are your lives better or worse than they were before?
2. Do you honestly believe the twisted logic of your government's propaganda that Hamas rockets are "defending" Palestinians? Do you feel defended? Do you see any contradiction between your cries of Israeli attacks against defenseless civilians, and your claim that Hamas is defending you with their rockets?
3. Does the cost in Palestinian lives and property justify the emotional satisfaction that you get by firing rockets towards Israel?
4. Finally, are you prepared for endless suffering and hardship, holding out for some unseen "victory" over Israel, rather than settling for something less then everything you want?


Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple and Steve Jobs

I miss Steve Jobs.

Of course I didn't know him personally, and I never had any personal connection with Apple. But the world lost something with Jobs' death. His charisma. His marketing and business brilliance. And, most of all, his innovation.

Apple is still making good products. But so is Samsung, Amazon and Asus. But are they making GREAT products? The kind of cutting edge, innovative and beautiful products that make people say "wow" every time they see them?

Since Jobs died, Apple has continued to release new products, like the Iphone 5 and the Ipad 3 and 4. They are nice. But they are incremental improvements on previous models-- a little faster, a little lighter, and little brighter. And this is what all of the companies are doing. And this is the rut that Apple previously got itself into in the years that Jobs was in exile. Trying to leapfrog devices that other companies put out.

Think how different that is from what was happening until 2011. Every year or 2, apple was coming out with a REVOLUTIONARY product, that had the competition catching up for years. Forget the first Ipad, which blew the competition out of the water. (It is still better than most of the competition out there).  Think of Ipad 2. It wasn't just a little faster or lighter. It was completely redesigned, adding multiple new groundbreaking features (like Facetime) and announced in parallel with wonderful Ipad applications like Garageband. Part of the genius was pairing the hardware with great software and content and how the two worked together. There is nothing that comes even close to Itunes U, for example.

But now, it seems that Apple is treading water. They come out with new models once a year, but nothing really groundbreaking. I hear they're coming out with an Ipad 5, a little lighter and thinner than Ipad 4. Great. But its not going to make people run out and buy them. A few more years of this and they will lose their edge.

Monday, May 13, 2013

So I have switched to Android, and I am sold

Well, I switched but not entirely. I still have my IPad which I love and use a lot. And my trusty IPod Touch still sits on my nightstand, in its dock. But I recently bought an Android phone (Sony Xperia Ray) and I absolutely love it.

Physically, the phone itself is great. Personally, I think its silly to walk around with a large brick in your hand that can't easily be carried in a pocket or belt case. So all of those phones with 4 or 5 inch screens make no sense to me. Nowadays, who doesn't have access to a regular PC anyway? I still want a smartphone, but web access is only for occasional on-the-go use, and a smaller screen does not bother me. The Ray's 3.3" screen is just right. Perfect for email, typing short messages, running Waze, and occasional news check on the web. I have an old horizontal belt case that holds it perfectly. I got a silicone protector off of Ebay for $2.

Even though the android version is not the latest (it runs 2.3.4), it is every bit as intuitive and easy to use as IOS. In fact, the standard Android back and menu button makes learning to use any app easier than with IOS. And, most of all, the fact that almost every aspect of the phone is customizable (either with settings or with separate apps), without the need to "root" ("jailbreak"), makes it a joy to use. Want to change the dialer or keyboard? No problem. I love the swiping gestures for typing. It makes the small keyboard screen easy to use. Screen widgets are integrated into Android and give a tremendous advantage over IOS devices. Want a quick shortcut for turning off your Bluetooth, or a Google search? How about turning on a wi-fi hotspot? Live weather and clock widgets are also included, and many more can be downloaded. Just by tapping an icon on your home screen, these functions become far more convenient than having to navigate through layers of settings menus. Just about any function or setting can set up as a widget or shortcut. For the hackers out there, "rooting" Android provides yet more flexibility (although it voids the phone warranty), and gives you the ability to install entirely new firmwares, which are freely available. There is a slight disadvantage in that because there are different variations of android available for hundreds of different phones, there is occasional incompatibility. But the sheer breadth of available software more than compensates for this shortcoming.

The integration with Google services is seamless, so its easy to sync contacts, calendars and email. Importing old contacts from my old Nokia posed little difficulty. Using the Play store (android market) is a pleasure--its available from any PC (no Itunes!), and any app you request is instantly downloaded to your device.

Everything just works. Of course, nobody can beat Apple on the variety and quality of media in the Itunes Store, and admittedly this is a big selling point. But my phone is still primarily a phone, with occasional use for other functions. I don't buy albums or movies to watch on my phone. I do love podcasts, and there are lots of podcast apps (many free) in the Android market.

Finally, my Android phone was much less expensive than an IPhone. Intense competition and innovation keeps the prices down. I bought my unlocked Sony from an independent dealer for about 1100 NIS, whereas an IPhone would cost 3 times that.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

DebkaFile and Haaretz- for the morons out there

Periodically, out of boredom or curiosity, I still visit both the Debkafile and  Haaretz websites.

They remain on my bookmark list because years ago I used to take them seriously. DEBKAfile claims to have inside scoops on everything about Israel, security, terrorism and the Middle East. Sometimes their analyses seems intelligent, with a conservative, security oriented slant. Other times their articles really seem over the edge, like this story. Are well really stupid enough to believe that the US president would be visiting Israel if there was a serious credible threat of a chemical attack at the airport? Sometimes they just make shit up, apparently due to a Caroline Glick-like paranoia and hatred of the left and Obama.

In many ways, DEBKAfile is the Jewish equivalent of the right wing Christian WorldNet Daily. They openly promote radical right wing conspiracy theories and fear-mongering. If their analyses and predictions were true, Al-Qeeda would have taken over the world years ago, and we Jews (and Christians) would all be kneeling down to Allah in front of our Salafi Muslim masters.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is the English Haaretz website. The English and Hebrew pages for Haaretz are quite different. The Hebrew site , although decidedly left wing and whiny about anything related to the settlements and the Palestinians, represents an authentic Zionist and dovish perspective. In Israeli it is read by a small but elite group, especially for its excellent finance section. The English site, on the other hand, has a  anti-Israel, post-Zionist slant. If you didn't know you were reading Haaretz, often you would guess that you were looking at a leftist anti-Israel European newspaper.  An editorial slant is acceptable. However, the choice of news stories of leading headlines, as well as mis-translations, change the tone of a story entirely. This has been written about and documented by several observers. There is an unfortunate parallel to the doom-and gloom fantasies of DEBKAfile.  If we were to believe Haaretz's scoops and analyses, Israel long ago would have either become a shunned South Africa-like country, living in poverty due to sanctions and boycott, or a Jewish State living in bliss next to a peaceful, progressive and democratic Arab state of Palestine.

Both websites suffer from the same pseudo-intellectual and delusional thinking.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Egypt-- Go to Hell

A Message from Israel to our Cousins of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:

Your country has so many problems-- overcrowding, corruption, poverty, lawlessness, lack of human rights. And, you have your own form of home grown terrorism in the Sinai.

So why focus your thoughts and attention on us? We have a terrorist problem, and its none of your business. Take care of your own problems, and stop trying to distract your people from them by focusing on the "crimes" of the "Zionists". We have nothing against you. We have a peace treaty, we hold none of your territory, and we don't attack you (even though attacks on us come from your territory).

So leave us alone. And if you don't control the extremists in your own territory and prevent them from attacking us, we'll act in the Sinai too.

If you don't like it you can go to Hell.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some thoughts on Windows 8

I've being working on Windows 8 on my notebook computer for about a week.

The bottom line: The marriage between a desktop interface and the new graphic interface is unsuccessful.

The new GUI, with its large live tiles and mouse/swiping gestures, is great for a tablet touch screen, but seems to have no advantage whatsoever on a desktop. Desktop OS's have advanced tremendously over the years, giving users many new capabilities including multitasking, mutliple re-sizing windows, shortcuts and other tools to help productivity. The Metro GI is quite simply a regression. It is a necessary compromise for a smaller touch screen of a tablet, but for a full size computer you simply have nothing to do with it. The "live" tiles are just a gimmick, and not worth the awkward compromises which make getting down to real work much slower and more difficult. On the desktop if you really want something "live" just install one of the many widgets available.  To be honest, I spend 99% of my time working from the desktop. The other 1% when I go back to the new user interface, I find that I am asking myself, "what am I doing here?". Furthermore, I installed one the free Windows-7 type start menus (Classic Shell), in order to bypass the new interface. The "apps" in the Windows store consist of programs that are the equivalent of widgets that already exist for the desktop environment.

In the course of a week I have discovered a few quirky things, some of which have to do with the interface, and others are just oversight. A few examples:

1. Getting to the "full" control panel is a pain. It does not show up on the dumbed-down, over-simplified "settings" charm on the home screen, but does from the desktop. I finally made myself a shortcut tile on the home screen.  The "PC Settings" screen from the new interface is completely useless.

2. Microsoft has been pushing Skydrive as a default place to store your files, and they include a Skydrive app in the home screen. Yet, Microsoft forgot to tell you that you need to install the Skydrive desktop program to make it work! Otherwise you have no way of actually storing files on Skydrive. This was particularly strange since I had it installed on my Windows 7 system, which I upgraded to Windows 8, but somehow the program did not get carried over.

3. Security settings were altered, without letting me know. When I emailed myself Powerpoint files, I got an non-informative error message that there was a problem with the file. Powerpoint then offered to repair the file, which did not work. After a few frustrating hours I discovered that Windows and Office tag the files as suspicious, and don't let you open them unless you unblock them, via "trust" settings in Office. At least the error message should have told me this!

4. The Metro interfaced Internet Explorer is, again, good for a tablet, but for the desktop is completely awkward. No folders, favorites or toolbars. Yes, you get full screen, but so what? The same is true for the dumbed-down mail and calendar apps. They are a regression from all of the feature rich programs that we have gotten used to. It is a throwback to the days of MSDOS based programs.

Basically, I plan on using my Windows 8 like Windows 7, and ignoring the new interface.

I'm not sure what Microsoft had in mind with Windows 8.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Open Letter to the Turkish People

The Israeli people are friends of the Turkish people. There are many Israelis of Turkish origin, who maintain a link between our peoples. Our businessmen continue to make deals with your businessmen. We have respect for the Turkish culture and history, and, up until a few years ago, we visited your country in droves.

In contrast, your government headed by PM Erdogan is conducting a disastrous foreign policy. A few years ago your Foreign Minister proudly boasted of his "zero problems with neighbors" strategy. Now, a few years later, you have problems with everybody. Not only are relations with Israel at a low point (due to your government's bottomless stupidity and Erdogan's stubborn contempt for Israel), but you are in conflict with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and the Kurds. Every day Erdogan blows off more steam at Israel, making baseless accusations and hollow threats.

However, your government's attempt to portray itself as the leader of the Muslim world, by sacrificing its relations with Israel, has backfired. It was easily predictable, too. Because when you decide to cozy up with the likes of Ahmadinejad, Assad and other assorted dictators, it's hard to be a democracy. Then, you have your show trials of Israeli military officials involved in the Marmara affair. These trials will be worthy of an American television court program.

Perhaps Erdogan's strategy of distancing himself from the West (and Israel) seemed like a sensible short term strategy to gain favor with Iran and the Arabs, and increase trade. But now you are paying the price. Even your military is suffering technological losses due to its cutoff from the Israeli military industries. Erdogan should reconsider his strategy, and realize that if Turkey wishes to maintain a democracy, it has no choice but to remain close with its natural allies--democracies-- of which Israel is the only one in the Middle East.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Muslim Inferiority Complex

I think much of the Muslim rioters' recent behavior and protest of the Muhommed flick can be explained by well known psychological phenomena.

I recently saw an Arab commentator in the news referring to the fact that Muslims are "touchy" when it comes to their prophet. That's a bit of an understatement, but it is revealing in terms of the Muslim emotional structure and makeup.

When you are strong and confident in your beliefs, you aren't shaken easily. Other's insults or challenges are met with disdain, disgust, and are perhaps refuted. The Jews deal with this all of the time. They will publish a rebuttal, or complain to their congressman, etc. This is true not only the the liberal USA but with Jews around the world. I can't recall ever seeing a "jewish riot" because somebody insulted their religious beliefs. However, this was not always so. Both Judaism and Christianity went through phases in which they committed violence in the name of religious belief. The bible is full of such exhortations. Yet we got past that (althought the Christians did so much later). Only when you are yourself ambivalent or unsure about something, when somebody pricks that sensitive area, you become defensive and angry. If Muslims themselves were confident and comfortable with who Muhammed really was, they would not react in this way.

Looking at the Muslims is like looking in the mirror at what we were thousands of years ago. A violent, jealous and insecure people who still aspire to convert the rest of the world to the one true religion. Yet when they look at us, and we reflect back to them what they really are, they become "offended", angry and violent. Its a reaction to the cognitive dissonance regarding the status of Islam in the world today.

At the same time the Muslim's hypocricy screams to the heavens. Arab country's daily newspapers and television are filled with inciting and hateful images regarding Jews and Christians, yet when a little scorn comes their way from Western countries, they become "insulted",  hysterical and violent (despite their characterization of Islam as a religion of peace and love...)

Perhaps it will take a few hundred more years of social progress in the Arab and Muslim world, when they, too, will stop becoming violent over "insult" and symbols. A drawing of Mohammed isn't worth a single human life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I bought a pet pig, and named him Mohammed!

Let's keep the riots going!
Those fucking animals believe in killing people because of a silly play.