September 2014 Column – Part 4

Computing at Chaos Manor
Column 369 – Part 4 of 4
September, 2014

The final installment of the September Chaos Manor Reviews column discusses SD cards, and winds down with the Books and Movies of the Month.

 SD Cards

Years ago I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ-30 camera. It works just fine, but it came out just as the SD card standard was being published. The original SD standard was 2 Gigabytes, but when my camera came out a 100 MB card was pretty big. Over time various companies developed ever larger SD cards, and then came out with micro-SD, tiny little cards a couple of centimeters square containing 2 and later up to 64 GB. They came with SD card sized adapters that would allow them to be used in SD devices. The Kingston 2 GB micro SD card in the Kingston SD card adapter works just fine in the camera, but trying to read that SD card on a PC is a bit more difficult: older multi-card readers don’t always adapt micro cards properly. I found this out when my PC offered to reformat the card on which I had about a thousand pictures.

There are two solutions to the problem. The simplest for me is an even smaller Kingston micro SD card adapter, which converts the micro SD into a standard USB thumb drive. When that is inserted into a USB port on a desktop the system recognizes it and can read and write to it with no problems. The second solution is a proprietary cable for the FX30 available for a few bucks online. Panasonic developed what I call a “mini-micro” USB plug before micro USB became standard.

Alas, the FZ-30 model came out with firmware that believes 2 GB is as large as SD memory cards get. After the camera came out the SD standard was redefined to allow for much larger capacity, and later models of the Panasonic camera line have no problems with big cards. In my case, Good Enough is really Good Enough. One day I’ll update my camera, but the Lumix optics work great, and a 2 GB SD card holds over a thousand pictures. I don’t take hundreds of pictures and choose the best, although that seems to be the habit of younger photographers.

Winding Down

The Book of the Month is the California Sixth Grade Reader, compiled and edited by Leroy Armstrong in 1914. The 2014 edition is edited with comments by Jerry Pournelle. This is the sixth grade reader in use when California public schools were considered among the very best public schools in the world. It contains stories once considered an important part of the heritage of Western Civilization; they’re also cracking good stories, once you get used to reading with what was considered a normal vocabulary for sixth graders in 1914; today’s public schools would consider many of those words “too hard.” There are also a number of poems that were once considered a vital part of our heritage.

I also recommend Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II by Arthur Herman. This tells the story of how America, which had no defense industry in the 1930’s, converted the economy into the greatest arsenal the world had ever seen. It is also the story of Knudsen, and Henry Kaiser, and some of the heroes of that story. I found it fascinating.

Safe Is Not An Option, by Rand Simberg is a reliability expert’s look at the space program. The book is discussed at length on its own web site. Those interested in the space program should read it: the book is quite critical of current space policies. It has endorsements from both astronauts and space policy analysts.

His general thesis is that NASA’s obsession, born of the days when “ours always blow up” and brought back with a vengeance by the Challenger disaster, is eliminating all human risk from spaceflight. That doesn’t work and the obsession is a huge obstacle to progress. There will always be risks, and we will always have heroes.

Simberg is an aerospace engineer with considerable experience and his analyses of various space incidents such as the Challenger Disaster are spot on, which is to say, I agree with them. Recommended.

We haven’t got out to many movies in the past few months, and some we did get to, like the Saturday morning live simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera productions, aren’t on any longer. We have found those well worth going to, and the Met usually chooses accessible operas for those simulcasts. My wife’s sister also enjoys them, and unlike Roberta, her sister doesn’t have a musical education. We particularly enjoyed Dvorak’s Russalka, which I had never seen before. It’s not likely to come back to a theater near you, but if it does, don’t miss it.

The Movie of the Month is quite old and already on television, so you won’t find it in theaters. That’s a pity because it’s very good there. I mean Frozen, the Oscar winning Disney film sort of loosely based on a Hans Christian Anderson story; actually the movie is better than Anderson’s tale. It’s still available on cable TV, or of course as a recording.

There is no game of the month because I haven’t had time to collect any new games. That comes later.

Those interested in comparing views of the Computer Revolution might find the March 2010 column interesting.

Next Time

Next time the new Surface Pro 3 with OneNote. Back around the turn of the century I said that a good tablet with OneNote was about the best research tool I knew of. That may be true again, with the Surface Pro 3 as the tablet.

I also have Office 365 subscription service. At present that is Office 2013 (for Windows; Office 2011 for Mac) and includes a more complete OneNote than the one that comes with the Surface Pro 3. Actually it’s more complicated than that; we’ll have a lot on OneNote with the Surface Pro 3 next time.

And we’ll start looking at new computer books once I let publishers know I’m back in business here.

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One comment on “September 2014 Column – Part 4

  1. I’m glad someone else noticed that there seems to be multiple versions of onenote out there. Unfortunately they don’t have any labeling to tell you which particular version you have, so if you rely on onenote for lots of stuff, you may be unpleasantly surprised to find out that the one device you have with you at an important event is the version that doesn’t let you work with embedded or attached document files. I found that out the hard way and lost some docs I really wanted, when the version of onenote I happened to have with me refused to let me copy word or pdf documents into the onenote notebook. No branding, no banner telling me I was using a crippled version, nothing. It simply changed from being an indispensable tool to being something I now view with suspicion and distrust. WTG Microsoft for wrecking something good.

    Maybe the column might shed some light on how to figure out which crippled variant of onenote is being used, BEFORE you find out the hard way when a disabled feature doesn’t work when needed?

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