September 02, 2009

How things have changed

Want to see what some popular websites looked like back when they launched? Check out this article to see how things have changed over the years.

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May 12, 2009

Wishful thinking on display

Another article which states categorically that Linux will supplant Windows as the OS of choice. Certainly the author makes some valid points, many of which I agree with, but the reality is that if Vista didn't provide incentive to switch, nothing short of Armageddon will. There are, however, some things that could make the switch more likely:

1) Get some PC distributors to sell them with Linux installed. Pick 3-4 total distros and give the buyer a choice of, say, Ubuntu, MEPIS, Mint or Xandros. Have versions of them on display so that prospective buyers can see what they'd be getting. Oh, and make certain that these distros get installed on the top-end machines. Sure you can run Linux on a lesser machine than what Vista requires, but you're the comparison is between a Ferrari and a Model T. Install Linux on a quad core machine with 4-8 Gb of RAM and let people see just how fast the system is.

2) Install Wine or Virtual Box to try and make it painless for users to install their beloved Windows only applications, such as Quicken. Better yet, install the software via Virtual Box or Wine for the user so that they hit the ground running. People like me love to fiddle with settings and such. Most people? Not so much. They want it to work out of the box.

3) Install lots of robust open source applications, such as Open Office, Evolution, Thunderbird, GIMP/GIMPshop, etc.

4) Hammer the cost savings. Windows Vista, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop? They all cost big bucks if you pay full price. Compare that with the zero dollars you'll spend on the Linux machine.

There are ways to make inroads into Microsoft's market dominance, but none of them should include wishful thinking. Unfortunately, the author of the article falls prey to that. Pity.

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April 02, 2009

Speed up that virus download!!!

If you like to download stuff off the Innertubes, but get somewhat irritated by the splash/delay screen, then this is the perfect Firefox extension for you. Excerpt:

SkipScreen is a no-frills Firefox extension with a singular focus. Once you install SkipScreen the splash screens on popular file sharing services, that show you advertisements and encourage you to upgrade to premium service to avoid having to wait, are a thing of the past. As you can see in the screenshot above, the save file dialogue box popped up immediately while the count down was still in progress.

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March 31, 2009

Screw with our friends

Or your enemies, as long as they aren't armed. Geek pranks for tomorrow. Excerpt:

3. Hijack Firefox with the Total Confusion Pack Extension (Enabled on April 1st Only)

rickrolled.png Your victim use Firefox? Install the "Total Confusion Pack" Firefox extension, which enables the following "features" on April 1st only:

* Two Steps Back: Make the back button go back twice—not every time, but only on random instances.
* Rick Rollr: Switch out 2% of the video clips your victim watches with the infamous Rick Astley video.
* The Devil's Inbox: Make the number of unread email in your victim's Gmail inbox exactly 666.
* Highs and Lows/Sarcarsm Enhancer/For real: Add LOL, *sigh*, "for real," "Whatever" and various other commentary to web page text.
* Watch it: Make it look as if the page was loading forever. (Now this is just plain mean.)

Download the Firefox Total Confusion Pack here.

There's more. Much, much more. Mheh.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 03:25 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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November 24, 2008

Backing up your DVDs

If, like me, you own some DVDs and if, like me, you have small children around who can make the survival of such discs problematic, you might be inclined to create playable backups of your discs. There a variety of ways that you can go about it:

1) Buy a second copy. Not really sensible from a a financial standpoint, but doable. You've now a got a backup without actually having to make one.

2) Use DVD Shrink to extract the main movie only. Remove all of the subtitles-unless you need them, of course- and all of the foreign language audio tracks. Then, if you're feeling adventurous, trim the credits at the beginning and end. This will reduce the compression considerably. Then hit the "Backup" button and you're on your way.

Sure, you can copy the entire disc without removing diddly, but you'll get around a 50% compression ratio. Not that bad on standard definition TV, but certainly not good on an HD set.

Note: You will need some burning software, such as Nero to burn the resulting image file. Lots of free software out there, so have at it.

3) Use AnyDVD or DVD43 (you can't use both, because AnyDVD bitches about the presence of DVD43 during installation) to remove the region encryption and then use IMGBurn, which replaced DVD Decrypter. I actually think DVD Decrypter is great, but all work on it has ceased, so you're better off with the newer IMGBurn, which is why you need AnyDVD or DVD43, because IMGBurn will not make an image for you of an encrypted DVD without at least one of them running in the background.

Anyway. Let's suppose that you've got AnyDVD running, and you've inserted your copy of the last Indiana Jones movie. Click on the Create Image from Disc button, or click on the Mode/Read pulldown menu choice. Voila! IMGBurn creates an ISO image of your DVD on your hard drive. Onto the last part.

Now it's time to burn that ISO to a disc. Since you're making a backup of a commercial disc, you'll need to have purchased some DL discs, which have an 8.5 Gb capacity, the same as standard commercial DVDs; I will ignore HD discs, which aren't really available yet.

Note: Do not skimp on funds and buy crap Memorex discs. Spend the extra cash and buy VERBATIM DL discs. They work great. The Memorex discs are turds. Sure, they cost less per disc, but you'll spend more because you'll end up throwing lots of poorly burned discs into the trash.

Already, click on the Write Image to Disc button. When the screen appears, set the burn speed to 2.4x. Any faster and you're just asking for trouble. Then click "Burn" and walk away until the music sounds, which signifies that your disc is ready.

So that's it. Easy as pie. Have at it, and don't forget to label your newly created DVDs. Just an FYI.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 05:36 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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November 03, 2008

Watch at your leisure

If you want to record your favorite TV shows and movies without commercials, you don't have to pay a monthly fee. Simply download and install Ted. Excerpt:

ted makes downloading TV shows easy!

We are two TV addicts. The internet is great to provide us with our favorite TV shows free, early and watchable on demand. We always had to spend lots of time to keep up to date with the newest episodes. Until we created ted, our torrent episode downloader.

ted can find episodes of any TV show you like to watch. Just add your favorite shows to ted and he will search for the newest episodes and downloads them for you. ted uses bittorrent and RSS technology to get you the newest episodes as fast as possible!

Besides Ted, you will need to download and install a bittorrent client. I use Bitlord, but there are tons out there that you might like better. Be aware that the default setting for most bittorrent clients is to prompt you before downloading begins. You will want to disable that option to make good use of Ted. Anyway, here's how you do it:

1) Download and install your bittorrent client of choice and set the "do not prompt before downloading" option.

2) Download and install Ted. You will be shown various options that you can change, but I'd suggest using the default ones, especially this one:

ted config1.JPG

3) Add the shows that you want to download, usually up to several weeks in advance. The default list is quite extensive. Once you've selected a show, you will see several possible downloads, and when they'll be available. Click on the image below to expand it:

ted config3.JPG

4) Suppose that you're looking for something that isn't on the list like, say, the Legend of the Seeker? Simply click on Add a custom show, enter the title and search for an episode. You can select a specific season/episode or select from available episodes, which works well if some episodes have already aired:

5) Ted will search for an uncompressed file with some minimum number of seeds and begin downloading.

You can watch the AVIs on your computer or convert/burn them to DVDs and watch them on your television. If you do so, I recommend using some DVD-RW discs so that you can save some money. However, if you plan to keep the episodes forever, go ahead and use the -R or +R discs. Be aware that you can stuff lots of episodes onto a single disc.

Good watching.

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October 27, 2008

making my life easier

From Pamibe via Val comes this: a lazy bloggers post generator.

Ah, life is good. Now I need to code a bot to randomly enter the text for me. Here's the first "post" below the fold:


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October 20, 2008

Useful tool for Windows

Recently, I've been dealing- a lot- with applications freezing on a semi-regular basis. The Task Manager does okay at killing the apps, but sometimes those apps also kill my OS. What to do, what to do... hey, I know! Why don't use Windows Xkill? Excerpt:

An App that your using Freezes, and your first thought it to CTRL+ALT+DEL to bring up Task manager, then you have to wade thought the processes to find said frozen app, then kill it... Or you use xKill.

Using a system wide hook in xKill, when it is running, just Press Control+Alt+Backspace, and you will see a Skull and Crossbones follow behind your cursor. When you click on the next item (say, the frozen application), it will kill it. simple.

And just because i know that people will try this out with out having an app to kill, when the skull and crossbones is up, if you choose NOT to kill any thing, press Escape, and you will exit out of xKill mode.

No external references, this app is Portable, you will know when it is running doe to the color changing Skull and Crossbones in your system tray. you can Right click on the glowing icon to either go in to xKill mode, so that you don't have to do Control + Alt + Backspace, or you can exit out of xKill.

Bringing Kill -9 to Windows. ::sniff:: I'm just so happy right now.

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October 15, 2008

I've got your anti-leeching protection right here

Currently, I use the Fast Video Download add-on for Firefox to retrieve things from YouTube, Google video, et al that I would like to have on my PC. However, some sites have taken steps to prevent me from being able to do such a thing. Enter Tubemaster Plus via Freewaregenius. Excerpt:

Description: TubeMaster Plus is a free tool that can download streaming video and audio files from almost any media sharing site, including sites with anti-leeching protection. TubeMaster Plus also can convert downloaded videos to several formats, offers a video search function across multiple video sources, and offers a downloadble audio mp3 search function.

There's more. Much more.

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October 14, 2008

Something cool for you multiple monitor geeks

Recently, at work, I was given the option of a laptop or a desktop. Since the desktop came with a 21" monitor, I opted for the desktop, notwithstanding that "management's preferred option is the laptop". I cited the reduced strain on my eyes and management said, "Okley-dokley." Anyway, a couple of weeks later, my boss mentioned that laptop users were now being given the option of having a 21" in addtion to the built-in on the laptop. Of course I said yes.

The cool thing about newer laptops is the ability to have multiple monitors. However, I found it quite maddening to try and keep track of what was open on each monitor. Invariably, I'd tab through my open applications to the one that I wanted it and said application would be on the other monitor, at which point I'd drag it over to where I wanted it to be. And then I'd promptly forget about it until I attempted to use the program again.

Never fear, though: someone has fixed my problem for me. I give you Oscar's Multi-Monitor taskbar. Excerpt:

Normal Windows XP or Vista:


All windows are displayed on the primary monitors taskbar regardless on which monitor they are opened.

With Multimon Taskbar:


Second Task bar is added to the extended monitor and it displays item from that monitor while primary taskbar displays items from the primary window...

TaskBar (freeware)

  • It adds second taskbar to the extended desktop on Monitor 2
  • It can add third taskbar to the second Extended monitor if you have 3 monitors setup.
  • It shows only applications from that Monitor
  • It hides the applications on Monitor 2 and 3 from normal Windows Taskbar
  • Adds a Move to Monitor button to windows applications (XP).
  • Add Text Clipboard Extender
  • Buttons to roll-right the taskbar (good for full screen Remote Desktop)
  • Very carefully written, I don't want to crash my own desktop!

There is a pro version, which costs money and, to be frank, is a bit more robust. However, I've found the freeware version to be just fine. Also, there are some more features which I won't bother to discuss. You can find out about those features here.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 07:50 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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October 07, 2008

Getting started with Linux

Sure, I'm a KDE sort of a fellow, but lots of people love Ubuntu and its Gnome interface. Here's a quick How To Set Up Ubuntu on your computer tutorial. It's pretty short, so I won't excerpt anything from it. Just click on over, if you're so inclined.

BTW, I'm about to replace my PC's hard drive with something much larger than currently resides within my tower. However, the smallish hard drive will be ideal for installing some version of Linux; I'm leaning towards MEPIS 8.0, which looks pretty slick. The reason for two hard drives, rather than partitioning a single one is that I don't want a crash to wipe out two operating systems at the same time. And, if I'm feeling really adventurous, I'll add a third HD with the OS X (open source Mac clone) installed on it. Nothing like 3 operating systems to let the whole world know how freaking geeky you really are.

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October 06, 2008

Useful site

If you have a certain wmv file that you want to convert to Flash Video (flv) format and upload to YouTube, you might check out this site, which allows you to convert between multiple video formats. Just an FYI.

Update: See below the fold, if YouTube hasn't pulled it yet. more...

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October 01, 2008

Linux games on Live DVD

Everyone who plays computer games has, at one time or another, seen a game and thought, gee that looks cool, and then installed it on his/her PC, only to be disappointed when the game wouldn't easily travel with you.

Okay, that second point was more important before laptops became so ubiquitous, but it's still -somewhat- valid. Anyway.

Now, though, you can carry a Live DVD of Linux games. All you need to do is carry the DVD with you, pop it in the drive, boot up your computer and off you go. Sounds like a great deal to me. Excerpt:

lg-live is a live Linux DVD pre-installed with some of the top linux games out there. You just boot from your dvd, select your game and start playing. As simple as that.

Minimum requirements for the games to run:

- AMD 1800+
- 512MB ram
- ATI Radeon 8500 (NVIDIA GeForce3)

The liveDVD itself is based on ArchLinux and comes pre-loaded with 13 popular Linux games, and more are planned for future release. Some of the games currently available are:

Astromenace is a brilliant 3d scroll-shooter allowing you to feel the adrenalin rush of a fierce space battle against relentless swarms of alien invaders. Immerse into a decisive battle against tons of cunning foes, face the terrifying bosses and protect your homeland throughout 15 diverse levels of the game. The hardcore gameplay of AstroMenace, packed with pure non-stop action, will become a full scale test for your basic instinct of survival.

Battle Tanks is a funny battle on your desk, where you can choose one of three vehicles and eliminate your enemy using the whole arsenal of weapons. It has original cartoon-like graphics and cool music, it’s fun and dynamic, it has several network modes for deathmatch and cooperative — what else is needed to have fun with your friends? And all is packed and ready for you in “Battle Tanks”.

Glest is a real time strategy game which is freely available. The game is settled in an ancien

There's a lot more. Check it out if you're so inclined.

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September 30, 2008

Getting to the good stuff

Ever try to watch a YouTube video where someone said, "Skip for to the 5:20 mark to see..."? Yeah, that first 5:19 usually blows great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts. Anyway, here's something that will make the viewing a lot less painful: Splicd. Check out this description from Lifehacker:

Web site Splicd creates custom links to embedded YouTube videos that start and stop at any time you define, allowing you to skip straight to the good part and avoid the rest. Let's say, for example, you've stumbled onto a gem on YouTube but had to suffer through 10 minutes of complete boredom to get there. You want to share the video with a friend, but you don't want her to have to sit through the whole mess for 20 seconds of pure gold. Just paste the URL of the video into Splicd, give it your desired start and end time, and it generates a custom link that starts and stops the video where you told it to (like this one).

Pretty cool stuff.

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September 23, 2008

Old school gamin'

As good as computer games are today, I sometimes feel a twinge of nostalgia over games that I played long ago (the 1980s and 1990s). My current computer thumbs its electronic nose at these games, and will not allow me to play them. At least, it didn't allow me to play them. I give you DosBox, a DOS emulator which will play some/most/a lot of old DOS style games. You can find lots of games to download here.

Here's how you setup and install DosBox, including how to run your old games.

One thing that I'm not entirely clear on is whether or not I can install my old games via DosBox. I'll give it a try and report back to you. Feel free to try it yourself and let me know.

Yeah, that last part was a nudgenudge-winkwink sort of a hint.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 09:33 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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September 15, 2008

Load movies onto your iPod

I don't actually own and iPod, but a friend of mine asked me last week how to go about converting DVDs that she owns into video viewable on her itty bitty screen. There are several methods that I'm aware of; here are a few:

  • Use DVD Decrypter and Videora iPod Converter. Note: While I use DVD43 a lot, I'm not certain that its' entirely necessary for this to work, as DVD Decrypter does a fine job removing the protection from commercial DVDs. Also, I don't own an iPod and am therefore unfamiliar with Videora. However, here's one site for you to download from.
  • Use DVDx, Xilisoft and iTunes 6.0. This article is several years old. For all I know, iTunes 60.0 is available for download.
  • Use Handbrake (Mac OS only): Okay, there is a version of Handbrake for Windows available, but it shat itself rather spectacularly on my laptop, which means that I won't recommend it. For Mac people though, it might be your best bet.

And there you have it.

This political season, while quite entertaining, is starting to bore me. It's become so predictable on both sides of the political aisle that I can make more accurate predictions than Nostradamus. Except for this year's winner, of course, because I have no freaking idea. Anyway, I'd much rather post entries about geeky computer stuff, beer and stale jokes In fact, I plan to get back to my Brewing Beer series, which I left woefully incomplete.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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August 27, 2008

Fixing Firefox

Annoyed by those effing Flash content ads loading on seemingly every single webpage? Don't be. Simply add Flashblock to Firefox and voila! No more Flash content. You can, of course, view the content by clicking on it, but you won't be forced to listen to or watch crappy ads by default.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 08:45 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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August 24, 2008

Hacking wifi in an airport

If you don't like paying the ridiculous fee that airport Internet cubes charge you, you might be interested in this little hack. Excerpt:

Without any hope of success I typed into my browser's adress bar, and to my big surprise I saw the page you see when you follow the link right now. The next thing I typed in was: but that didn't work. But I went on, and found that url's like worked like a charm. I found that I could easily visit sites like slashdot, google, or even this weblog, when adding a ?.jpg at the end of the url.

Give it a try, if you're so inclined. The author also mentions a script that automatically appends that ?.jpg to each URL. I'm probably too lazy to do that, but give it a shot and let me know how it works out for you.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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August 04, 2008

Advice from Microsoft: how to speed up Vista

Well, Redmond decides to offer some free advice on speeding up Crapta. Funny thing, though: I didn't see "uninstall this piece of crap and install XP, Linux, Mac OS, or Dos 3.0" anywhere in the article. I'm sure that it's simply an oversight.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 10:31 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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July 07, 2008

Good customer service

Maybe Microsoft could take lessons...

Microsoft (MSFT) is no longer shipping Windows XP, but frustrated Vista-hating consumers may have new options to avoid the operating system. Dell (DELL) says it's found a loophole in its licensing agreement with Microsoft that allows it to keep selling Windows XP Professional.

This lets customer’s [sic] upgrade to the Vista platform when they’re ready. And yes, Dell will support both OSs.

XP will remain the dominent PC OS until Microsoft's next generation operating systems comes out which, based on the lack of customer sales, should in no way resemble Crapta.

Hat tip to Stephen Green.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 12:41 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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