Technology: February 2008 Archives

Cool and unusual

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) reports that American Airlines is looking for a 150-seat narrowbody aircraft to replace its fleet of MD-80s and 757s. The engines for this new short-haul fleet will need to make less noise, consume less fuel, and produce a lower volume of emissions. CFM (the GE / Snecma joint venture) and Rolls Royce are considering open-rotor technology for their next generation jet engines. Instead of the fan blades being inside a cowling, they'd be exposed. (Here's a photo of an open-rotor engine.)

This technology, and the promise that this could give a 25% to 30% improvement in efficiency, "seems to be really a paradigm shift in fuel consumption", says [American Airlines executive VP of operations Bob Reding].

He notes, however, that questions still need to be answered concerning the maximum cruise speed that aircraft can fly with open rotors, the noise characteristics and certification requirements.

"There will probably be some blade-out requirements," says Reding, adding that since certification requirements are not yet written "that is certainly one of the unknowns and certainly one of the issues that will have to be addressed".

By "blade-out" I think he means, "What happens if a rotor blade breaks off and goes spinning through the air like a ninja's throwing star?" Given that the United Air Lines DC-10 Sioux City crash was caused by fan blades from a cowled engine severing the hydraulic lines to the control surfaces, that could be an important thing to test.

AT&T has announced a deal that with Starbucks that will, among other things, give AT&T broadband subscribers access to free Wi-Fi at the coffee chain's 7,000 company-owned US locations. That's in addition to AT&T basic Wi-Fi access already available at McDonald's and Barnes and Noble Bookstores. The switch-over from Starbucks' current provider will take the remainder of 2008. Having to pay for Wi-Fi is one of the reasons I avoid Starbucks in favor of locally-owned coffee houses. (Better coffee, later hours, a more interesting clientele, and not doing evil things like threatening a local coffee company over use of a generic term like Double Shot are other reasons I like local better.)

In order for an AT&T DSL subscriber to qualify for free basic AT&T Wi-Fi, you have to subscribe to at least the Express level of service (1.5 Mbps download). Check your bill: I started back when unlimited access to AT&T Wi-Fi (then called FreedomLink) was an extra $1.99 a month. They're still charging me for it, but they shouldn't, since I qualify for free access.

It'll be nice to have more Wi-Fi connections available in a pinch, but I expect I'll still make places like Coffee House on Cherry Street, Shades of Brown, Double Shot, and Cafe de El Salvador my caffeinated, wireless homes away from home.

My browser was filling up with tabs I opened in trying to diagnose a problem which I thought was related to Windows. (I'm beginning to think it's really a hardware problem.) For my reference and yours:

DevCon: A Microsoft tool to list, check status, enable, disable, and update devices and drivers from the command line. Handy for when your system is too sick to handle running the graphical Device Manager. There are versions for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions. Works with Win 2000, XP, and Server 2003.

SC, the Service Controller: Built-in command-line tool to view status of and control services and drivers. Full command details here.

Windows command-line reference: The complete list of commands and how to use them. Nice for us old-timers who grew up on VMS and Multics and Unix and DOS. Most if not all of the system management and admin tools can be manipulated from the command line.

driverquery: Another built-in command. It outputs a table of info about all the installed drivers. With a switch and redirection, you can have it produce a CSV file that you can manipulate in Excel or another spreadsheet or database program.

Windows XP Support Tools: Won't vouch for it, but this site purports to offer for download the tools that come in the "Resource Kits" for various versions of Windows.

Debugging startup hangups: Enable boot logging via msconfig or when hitting F8 on startup, then check the log in %SystemRoot%\Ntbtlog.txt. You'll see the sequence in which drivers are started, and may be able to detect a pattern.

Several issues of InformationWeek's Langa Letter have been helpful:

XP's No-Reformat, Nondestructive Total-Rebuild Option: "Fred Langa shows you how to completely rebuild, repair, or refresh an existing XP installation without losing data, and without having to reinstall user software, reformat, or otherwise destructively alter the setup." It's not easy to find this option, but it's there, and it may solve your problems.

The OS Inside The OS: "Fred Langa shows how a simple tweak turns XP's low-level Recovery Console into a complete, standalone mini-operating system--in effect, an XP DOS!"

XP's Little-Known 'Rebuild' Command: "There's an easy fix for "Missing HAL.DLL," "Invalid Boot.Ini," and several other fatal startup errors, Fred Langa says."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Technology category from February 2008.

Technology: January 2008 is the previous archive.

Technology: March 2008 is the next archive.

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