* Posts by The Unexpected Bill

179 posts • joined 24 Dec 2008

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Netcraft adds Heartbleed sniffing to site-scanning browser tool

The Unexpected Bill
WTF?

I just have to ask...

Does the extension really support Firefox 1.0? Is anyone really still running that ancient of a release? (No, wait. I'm not sure I want to know.)

I'm probably too lazy to actually download v1.0 of Firefox and find out...

Back to your regularly scheduled program.

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Tube be or not tube be: Apple’s CYLINDRICAL Mac Pro is out tomorrow

The Unexpected Bill

Re: Rollaway

You're setting it on your desk* wrong.

* or table, or couch, or counter top, or whatever...

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Windows 8.1 Start button SPOTTED in the wild

The Unexpected Bill
Facepalm

Re: Half way

I forgot about that! When the need first arose, I was kind of broadsided by "where DID they put the shutdown option anyway"? I wasted a little time ticking through the Start screen and logging out before finally asking SysInternals Process Explorer to do the job. Never mind that doing so was like using a big truck to move a single sheet of paper, it worked.

The next thing I found was a snarky article from another publication (not to be named here, but I'm sure you can find it if you believe that a Start button won't fix Windows 8'sproblems) that said "just push the power button". Whatever. That whole thing just reeked of snark and stupid. While that'll work and may be a legal move under Windows 8, I was of the impression that earlier versions of Windows performed the most orderly shutdown they could before power was shut off, if you did this. So I didn't do that.

The fact that someone has to search the web to find this doesn't just mean it is that person's fault. This is thoughtless, feckless UI design at its very worst (or is that best?) ...

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The Unexpected Bill
Meh

Waking up from the slumber...

...to post another comment.

I've read all the fury surrounding Windows 8 from both sides while being content to sit on the sidelines. After all, I'd skipped Windows Vista and 7 for the most part. I was initially appalled by the idea of a full screen Start "menu", so why subject myself to it?

I answered my own question upon picking up a cheap computer bundle, one cheap enough to make Windows 8 worth looking into. Worst case scenario I could run Linux, BSD or something along those lines.

Windows 8 does a few things right. On hardware that's really nothing to write home about, it's quite zippy. It gets right through the whole out of box thing quickly as well (at least my example did). Even so, plenty is still wrong enough that I'd find it hard to use on a daily basis. Explorer windows are still crippled (menus in the wrong place, no useful toolbars), IE9 (or is it 10 in Win8?) has inherited the "every browser thinks it's Google Chrome" disease and the various freebie apps like Paint and Wordpad are still infested with those bloody ribbons. Not long after the initial power up, the machine dropped into a STOP error. It's not happened again, so I don't know what to make of that.

I gave the Start screen (what I'd consider) a reasonable chance despite my initial bias against it, learned how to configure it, and really tried to use it. I'd even go so far as to say it's great for tablet computers. The first major miscue is that there's no obvious button on which to click when you're sitting at the "classic" desktop. You're just supposed to know that moving the mouse to the extreme lower left and clicking will bring it up. What a load of FAIL.

I don't care at all about Metro apps. I've gone into a few out of curiosity, but they're not something I could see myself really using. In fact, I excised all but the "Bing News" tile from my Start screen.

What really burns me, the one thing I cannot forgive above all else, is the blatant waste of screen space. It is bad enough that the Start screen has to take up the whole of your screen and worse that the tiles representing applications are FAR bigger than they'd ever need to be for many people. I am one of those people who likes to put as much information on a given screen as will reasonably comfortably fit, and the Start screen isn't any way of doing that.

I tried. I really did. And in the end, after looking at a few different options, I went for Classic Shell. So far I haven't looked back.

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Crypto boffins: RSA tokens can be cracked in 13 MINUTES

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

@Stoneshop

These token things are tougher than you might think. I came to have an "obsolete" token and decided to see what it would take to break the thing. A bored mind is a dangerous thing.

The short answer: quite a lot!

Don't try any of this at home, nor anywhere else.

I threw it at walls, jumped on it, stomped on it, ran over it with a truck, attempted to stuff it into a paper shredder, chucked it down a two story staircase repeatedly and watered it. It was still in one piece up until I chucked it down the staircase. Then the casing started to break, but the electronics still worked.

Around that time, I decided to pull the coin cell battery from it, and saved that for another project (probably re-enlivening a computer clock module or something) since it still seemed to be good.

The end finally came when I threw it in the microwave oven for a few seconds...not once, but twice. Nothing happened the first time around, and the thing still worked when I put the battery back in. The second time produced a very nice flash and bang, which was the end of the line.

Maybe you didn't ask. Now you know.

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Nigerian scams are hyper-efficient idiot finders

The Unexpected Bill
Stop

I don't think so...

I'm surprised by this statement from the report, and in the article:

"Herley's analysis suggests the scam works because it quickly passes BS-detection thresholds in most readers, but those stupid enough to fall for the scam self-select by responding."

Really? I realize that it'll be difficult to look at this objectively, as my "internal logic" (for want of a much better way to put it) always sets off alarm bells when I see one of these messages in my inbox. I really don't understand, other than through greed, why anyone with average intelligence would start thinking that there is going to be any good outcome from responding to these messages, even before they've searched the web. Isn't it an almost-universal understanding that almost any "Something for Nothing" scheme will either have tricky conditions attached or not pay out in the end?

I've seen an elderly person (whose mind was failing) fall for a similar scheme. She was convinced that her grandson had really been calling her to get money since he'd been "imprisoned" against his will and without any recourse. In that case, I can understand why the con was successful. I got there just in time, I think, to prevent a lot more fallout. I don't know what else had happened, but the passwords for her online services somehow changed to unknown values around that same time.

As to whether or not a "stupid person" deserves to be taken by this particular type of fraud, well, I suppose that can be debated all day. It's a given that this fraud will continue to happen, as society demands all types to keep itself in balance.

Hmm...hope I didn't get here too late. I see that part of the discussion had turned to trolling for users of Apple computer equipment.

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Techies beg world to join the 1% on IPv6 launch day

The Unexpected Bill
Go

Worth what you paid to hear it...

So far as I know, all the "odd numbered" revisions to the IP spec are beta and testing releases only. Even numbers are for production use.

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Windows XP update fails in infinite .NET patch loop

The Unexpected Bill
WTF?

It was odd...

First time around, the Automatic Updates icon popped up and indicated the need for a few .NET Framework updates. Okay, fine, fair enough. I let them run in the background.

After a while, the icon just disappeared, which was fairly odd. I would have expected the "updates complete" or "you need to restart your computer to finish updating" notice, but I got neither. Automatic Updates popped back up a few moments later with the same updates. Strange. Maybe the updates failed to install themselves...oh well, might as well let it try again. I did, and the same thing happened.

What eventually sorted it was going to the Microsoft/Windows Update web site. It's not been back since doing so.

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VIA outs $49 Raspberry Pi-alike

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

I'd like to get my hands on this...

...same as the Raspberry Pi (when it becomes available). VIA's design looks a little more interesting to me. I like their inclusion of more RAM and positioning of the ports so that it could be fitted into a conventional computer case.

What I'd really like to see, though, is a socket for installing your own RAM, just to keep the device viable as programs get larger.

The WonderMedia CPUs have been used in some cheap (and mostly nasty, though that's a question of the operating system) "netbooks" running Windows CE.

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Sony stock slides to 30-year low after record loss

The Unexpected Bill
Unhappy

Once upon a time...

There was a time when you could buy a Sony product (no matter what) just as a matter of course and be pretty safe in knowing that you'd get good value for the money. A lot of companies would do anything to have that kind of reputation. So what happened? Bad management? Cost pressures?

I recently picked up a Sony table radio from the late 1970s. It still works well, looks good and sounds good. The internal build quality is very high. I could go on and on about similar Sony products spanning many years, from cordless phones to television sets. Most are still around and still giving good service.

If anything, it seems like they started to falter in the 1990s and the whole rootkit-on-music-CD was just the capstone to a series of less than stellar products and services.

I've got my doubts that Sony will fail, given their diversity. They do need to get their products back up to where they used to be, though.

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Windows 3.1 rebooted: Microsoft's DOS destroyer turns 20

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Ah, memories!

It's hard to believe that it has been twenty years since Windows 3.1 hit the shelves and the computer market. There are things I do and don't miss, along with fond and not-so-fond memories.

When it worked, Windows 3.1 really did open up some impressive capabilities. It certainly didn't represent the technological pinnacle of achievement, though it was good enough for many including myself. I was, after all, a child at the time. While I knew OS/2 existed as a competitor, the odds of my getting it weren't very good. High resolution graphics, multi-tasking, easier data exchange between programs (via copy and paste or even the more rarely used OLE), and (slightly later on) multimedia were all there. At the time, when everything was working, it was hard to imagine how things could be any better. At the time, I ran it on a Dell Precision 433Si and a Packard Bell "Multimedia" 486 system. Both were massive leaps over the Kaypro PC I had been using.

There were certainly drawbacks. Memory management (due largely to the underlying DOS), running out of system resources, and the oddball crashes that usually took the whole system with them--usually when you hadn't saved your work for quite some time! (How some things haven't changed.)

Some have asked what later versions of Windows have brought us, besides larger disk space, memory and processor requirements. Windows 95 went a long way to relieve the pressure on the three system resource stacks, and it was a little harder for a wayward application to bring the whole system down. With any kind of serious use, I can't see Windows 3.1 staying up as long as any NT-version of Windows could, especially Windows 2000. And these days, it's a lot more difficult for a wayward application to take the whole system with it. (One can still get into situations where rebooting soon is clearly a good idea, but at least you can usually save your work before having to flip the big red switch.)

There's also the matter of things you "probably could do" on Windows 3.1 as compared to "definitely could do" or "are easier to do" on a later version of Windows. Handling things like digital photographs and multimedia stuff, while doable on Windows 3.1 (within reason) is much more easily done on more modern operating systems and more modern hardware. And in some regards, system management is easier than it used to be. It's easy to forget fighting for hours to get enough free interrupts, DMA channels, I/O ranges or dealing with odd interactions between hardware devices that didn't always have a clear explanation. Thankfully, at least some of those problems are much less common today.

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Americans resort to padlocking their dumb meters

The Unexpected Bill
Go

I know this is stupid...

...but the only thing I don't care for concerning the new meters is the loss of a spinning disc to "indicate" real time power consumption. The more modern meters seem to all have a boring digital display. While it may be capable of more, around here the display simply switches between a self-test and an accumulated kWh reading.

Couldn't they at least have included a "snake" character that changes its "crawl" speed based on power usage?

I've been told that remotely-readable meters with spinning discs exist, but I've never seen one. As it is, I'm not sure that all the modern meters are remotely readable. Only the ones located in rural areas clearly indicate such capability, at least for now.

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Facebook: Your boss asks for your password, we'll sue him! Maybe

The Unexpected Bill
Flame

Here's what I don't get...

Why would anyone ever turn this information over to a potential employer? I think that would be a huge warning sign. After all, what might they ask about next? Political leanings, hobbies, religion, sexual orientation?

Laws probably vary by jurisdiction, and even then I don't know that a potential or existing employer could force anyone to do this, other than through the order of a court of law.

There was a story on National Public Radio about a man who was told to divulge his Facebook credentials when he re-applied for a job, so I guess it's spreading.

Obnoxious opinions: A) I'd never bank on Facebook choosing to do the "right thing". B) I'm still so very glad I don't have a Facebook account. (And yes, I know that this could well be extended to other forms of social networks beyond Facebook.)

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So, what IS the worst film ever made?

The Unexpected Bill
Go

Re: every

I can think of one...the 1999 remake of Gone In 60 Seconds.

Not that the original film wasn't interesting, it just didn't have much of a story line.

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Apple antagonist Proview unveils its own iPad

The Unexpected Bill
Go

I've seen that before...

That's basically a Compaq iPaq Internet Appliance (either the IA-1 or the IA-2, I don't recall which one is which). The iPaq CRT monitor's OSD behaves identically to a Mag InnoVision monitor. There is some relation between Proview and Mag InnoVision...

Proview's rendition has a different color scheme, but every other aspect of the design is identical to the Compaq product. These two Compaq products were members of the ill-fated Internet Appliance "craze" of the late 90s/early 2000s. They featured a National Semiconductor Geode CPU and booted into Windows CE from a DiskOnChip device.

I found one on the curb. It's still moldering in my basement, as I never had much luck getting it to boot into anything other than the copy of Windows CE on the flash memory disk.

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FCC (finally) cracks down on BLARING! TV! ADS!

The Unexpected Bill
Trollface

Well....sort of...

> Bingo, no noisy ads, no effort! And no monthly subscription :-)

...isn't there still a requirement to use SchedulesDirect with MythTV?

I know. I hate to be *that* soldier (to paraphrase the BOFH)...

(I played with it a while ago and it was strongly hinted that using SchedulesDirect was required. I figured that MythTV could do the same as a $5 garage sale VCR and accept simple start/stop times. It seems I was wrong, though I never really got it running and lost interest because I don't know when the last time I *cared* about TV was...)

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The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Magnavox TV Volume Limiter

> Does anyone know if this was effective?

I have a 19" Magnavox* table TV with the SmartSound feature available in the menus. Said TV dates from 1997, has been an excellent set and continues to work very well. (My only real complaint is that the firmware turns the closed caption decoder off after every power cycle, but it's only one key to turn it back on...)

Yes, the feature does work very well most of the time. When turned on, the overall audio level drops slightly. I suppose it simply watches for a sudden spike in the audio signal and cuts the amplifier's gain.

* kind of ironic that the word Magnavox is said to be based on the Latin for "great voice" ... or maybe it means that outright. I'm nobody's idea of a language scholar.

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Ten... mono laser printers

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Laser Printers

The Dell printer looks so much like a Samsung laser printer because it probably *is* a Samsung laser printer. If you look at the driver files, you will probably find that they are thinly disguised, with the version information for each giving away the truth. Likewise with the self test page if it's got one.

While on the subject, Samsung has some very credible low cost laser printers, and while I have no experience with anything newer than a 2006 model, their drivers were quite good for Windows and Macintosh systems. (It's also been my experience that while Samsung did "chip" some of their toner cartridges, they will usually continue to work until they really are empty.)

HP's low cost laser printers aren't too bad mechanically, but someone at HP seems inclined to turn their print drivers into a complicated mess. Even the low end LaserJets were free of this scourge for a while, but I fear it has spread to them as well.

Although not the subject of the review, a used laser printer is worth considering for some...especially if it's an older HP LaserJet series machine. They run almost forever on cheap supplies and usually only ask that you put in a new set of rollers and pick pads every few ten thousands of pages you run through one. A LaserJet III probably isn't a reasonable suggestion for anything other than very basic printing needs and is likely to have a lot of miles on it now anyway, but a LaserJet 5, 6 or 4050/4100 is a pretty reasonable bet.

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The Secret of Monkey Island

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

"Never pay more than twenty bucks for a computer game..."

The Secret of Monkey Island succeeded where almost no other computer game or gaming system ever did--it sucked me in around the early 1990s when I came into a copy the way I suspect a lot of people did. (A neighbor gave me a bunch of "old computer stuff" at the time and one of those things was a cracked copy of the program. Most of it wasn't old, just unwanted.) I was probably too young for it at the time, as I never managed to get off of Melee Island.

Fast forward to the mid-2000s when someone else was giving me their old computer stuff. (Notice a pattern here?) Most of it was the usual junk, but buried deep in a box was a LucasArts multi-game box set that looked new. A few of the disks had bad spots, but nowhere that mattered and soon I was playing once again, with my eye on actually seeing it through to completion. I completed the game while waiting in a car dealership, playing it on a Compaq LTE 5000 laptop.

I always loved the soundtrack, whether played on a proper soundcard or PC speaker (weren't those the days?) The newer version of the game in that box set had better (MCGA) 256-color graphics and no longer required the "type in the year this pirate was hanged" test at startup. I still fire it up every now and again on a PS/2 Model 70 and spend a few hours puttering around with it. This and the modern Rigs of Rods stand alone in holding my interest.

Extra points awarded if you knew that the title of this post was actually something you could choose to have Guybrush say at the end of the game.

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Ten... digital voice recorders

The Unexpected Bill

@UltraDisk Voice Recorders

If I may, let me start by thanking you for coming to the Register forum and responding to the review and questions about the UltraDisk voice recorders. However, the whole file system thing sounds a bit confused...NTFS isn't a partition type, it's a file system. In any case, Mac OS X (from 10.2 on up IIRC) does support read only access for NTFS formatted storage devices with any other software being required. Read/write support for FAT32 is defintely present in Mac OS X (and I believe Mac OS 9 as well, but it's been a looong time). If the UltraDisk recorder presents itself to the computer/operating system as a USB mass storage class device, surely it would work fine with a Macintosh (less the software, of course)?

As a Reg Hardware reader who is located in the United States, I'd also like to ask if you have any plan to enter the US market with your products. I do like the small form factor and the convenience it implies.

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Al Gore wants to borrow your Facebook and Twitter accounts

The Unexpected Bill
Coat

Shoot, why not?

After all, Al Gore _invented_ the Internet, don'tcha know? (imagine that in the most sarcastic looking font available, and you'll have my meaning)

(I don't even play on any of those social networking services, and I never intend to.)

Mine's the coat with the 40-year-old refrigerator that outcools many newer ones in the pocket...

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Domino's to serve pizzas on the Moon, apparently

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Domino's Pizza

(it'll surprise me if I'm the first to say it...)

It's Domino's Pizza...does anyone really eat that stuff? This is the same company that once ran a radio ad with people saying terrible things about their product, after which they claimed to be "improving" it. From where I was standing, their pizza went from bad to worse around that time. At least it's cheap.

Therefore, I postulate that it makes little practical difference if their new location is indeed intended to be on the moon. Although I'd love to know how they plan to get it there...

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Sony calls time on 8mm video format

The Unexpected Bill
Coat

Sony Stuff

Has it really been a year since the Walkman announcement was made? (The answer is no, not quite.)

Earlier this year, I was introduced to minidisc for the first time, with a Sony MDS-JE510 component unit--the first minidisc-anything I'd ever seen in many years of seeking out assorted pieces of audio equipment. (It's a slippery slope and I recommend not ever getting started. The stuff only multiplies!) It required near-heroic efforts to get it working again because I assumed it had worked from the factory. So many bad solder joints and the replacement of a few bad parts later, it came to life. It's still running today.

All I can say is that it is really too bad minidisc didn't really make it. It is everything cassette tape wanted to be when it grew up. Titling, full random access...really the only thing not to potentially like (other than the SCMS infestation) was the ATRAC compression and to my ears it never caused any problems. Then again, maybe I would like it. I'm still making mixtapes on high-bias cassette (remember those?) with a 1981 or 82 era Technics cassettte deck.

I'm also a latecomer to the 8mm video format. I never used conventional Hi8 machines, but I have a somewhat low end Sony Digital8 Handycam that I purchased secondhand not all that long ago. Despite its being a relatively low end model, it does a phenomenal job and has some nice features (slow frame rate recording, time lapse recording, stereo microphone, a light, some onboard video effects). If the Wikifiddlers are to be believed, Hi8 tape is actually a "safer" storage medium for the DV datastream that all Digital8 machines use due to its wider tracks. I gather that most of the modern Handycam product offerings don't do half of the stuff this one does (no Nightshot in particular). From what I've seen, today's flash-memory based cameras might be "better" due to no moving parts, and they might shoot HD video (something I have no interest in), yet many of them don't do as good of a job as the old Digital8 Handycam does. The cheap ones in particular tend to be fairly nasty, especially in lower light conditions. At least the 8mm tapes remain available and reasonably priced.

I'll get my coat. It's the one with the book of technological wonders that never made it, and a DAT Walkman in the pocket.

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Name that donkey: Barbarella battles Bathsheba

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Hmmm...

If those are the choices, I'd have to say that I like "Bathsheba" the most.

To think that a little commentard such as myself may in some small way influence the naming of a donkey that is far away from my own part of the world...this is The Power Of The Internet(tm).

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El Reg iPhone app rated a flaccid 12+

The Unexpected Bill
Paris Hilton

This is a title (first time I've done that!)

That'll be the Paris Hilton angle revealed at last!

Yes, I'll get my coat. Thanks.

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Mozilla to shift 12m surfers off 2-year-old Firefox 3.5

The Unexpected Bill
Coat

Why I'm (mostly) on Firefox 3.5 even today...

First of all...to those who are crashing out of Fx 4...you have a bad extension, corrupted profile or faulty operating system/underlying computer hardware. You can downvote the comment, but I'll guarantee to you that one of those things is the problem and not the browser itself. And no, I'm not a Firefox "fanboi" or any sort of apologist. I have no affilation whatsoever with the Mozilla organization.

The good news is that Firefox 4 does in fact run on Windows 2000, and it runs quite well. So if you "have" to upgrade a computer running an older (Windows family, at least) operating system, you can, as long as that computer has enough RAM and processor capability to run the newer browser. A reasonably fast Pentium 3 (866MHz+) will still pull it off.

Otherwise...I'm less than totally impressed with Fx4. Call me cranky, say I need to take my pills...but I want my status bar back. (Yes, I've got a status bar extension installed, but something so close to the core of the browser's UI should be a selectable option.) I'm not thrilled about the relocation of the stop/load button to the address bar and don't care for the fact that the Add Ons manager is no longer in a small window of its own. In fact, the only thing I've really liked so far about Fx4 is the ability to highlight a URL in text and have contextually appropriate options (open in new window/tab) appear when I right click said text.

Beyond that...I'm probably going to stay on Firefox 3.6 (or 3.5) with the majority of my systems. (And for those who are wondering why I might be sticking with Fx3.5, I'll tell you. There was this really, really useful little "Image Properties" window available in the contextual menu when right-clicking any image on a web page. It bought the farm in Fx3.6, only to be replaced by a window that seemingly has to process every image on a page before it'll do anything.)

Yes, I could probably figure out how to develop an extension that restores these capabilities.

@ZimboKraut -- it's been a while since I've had anything to do with the inner workings of a Firefox extension, so this is worth what you paid to hear it. (Hopefully not much.) Furthermore, it may well send your browser down in flames, throw all your furniture in the trash, tell the world your darkest secrets, insult your mother or worse--so consider yourself warned. If you look at the package that makes up your VMware extension, there is a declaration within one of the files making up the extension that tells Firefox which versions may safely use it. You may try bumping this value out to something that is greater than whatever it is currently set to. I can't recall exactly where this lives, but some quick Giggling ought to turn it up.

I'll get my coat.

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'Upgraded' Apple iMacs lock out hard drive replacement

The Unexpected Bill
Thumb Down

That's pretty dumb...

Many hard disk drives produced over the last decade have an onboard temperature sensor whose data can be gleaned by communicating with the drive through SMART. Practically all drives produced in the last five years do.

So why would Apple need to monitor the drive's temperature in any other way? A company that has the ability to design its own CPUs and other custom logic should know better than this.

Beats me--they did the same thing (with a temperature probe coming from the circuit board, no changes to the drive itself) in the Time Capsule, and I *know* those drives reported their temperature via SMART.

All in the world this will do is leave owners of these machines high and dry after Apple has forgotten they ever made such a thing and nobody sells custom adapters any longer. And no, I don't dislike Apple products--but this is still a very *stupid* thing to do.

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Reg reader lost for words over blank HP keyboard

The Unexpected Bill
Unhappy

Blank Keyboards

It's a pity that the seller doesn't ship to the US. Probably wouldn't be cheap even if they did.

(Yes, there probably is someone in the US with similar keyboards. I can't be really be bothered to look--they're no Model M. Yes, I've got a couple of similar ones with letters on.)

Now if someone's got a letter-less Model M... (and no, I don't mean "pull all the keycaps off" - it doesn't feel the same if you do)

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Five amazing computers for under £100

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Couple of other submissions....

I'm surprised that no desktop PC made the list, so I guess I'll suggest not just one, but two, potential entries.

First off the bat, how about Compaq's Deskpro EN...available in desktop, tower/desktop convertible and SFF cases. They're dirt cheap ($5-20 or maybe less), still somewhat common, will run about any OS (my testing covered Windows 95 through 7--and 7 actually ran passbly well--OS/2, Linux and PC-BSD) and appear to be extremely reliable. (Only one of many I have quit, and an cheap-n-nasty PCI video card got it going again.)

After that, how about the Dell OptiPlex GX620? There's a huge supply of them on the secondhand market with SFF, desktop and tower versions available. Shop around and you can find them for less than $100 (or its equivalent), sometimes a lot less.

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Death threats against 'worst song ever' YouTube teen

The Unexpected Bill
WTF?

@Ally J / @Jason Bloomberg

I'm going to have to remember the phrase "autotuned bratling". People are going to wonder why I'm laughing like that...

- - - - -

As far as the "freedom to hate goes", the old argument is that with great freedom also comes great responsibility...or, as it's commonly phrased, "don't yell "fire!" in a crowded theater when there is no fire". So...while I'm quite free to say that I might not like this young woman's singing and think she should stop or even less polite things than that, actually *threatening* her is definitely crossing the line. There's no point in doing that, but there are all kinds out there.

As it is, I haven't heard the young woman sing, don't really care one way or another and think it's truly unfortunate that there are some people who feel it is right to threaten a person over their beliefs/orientation/religion/opinions/abilities/whatever.

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Seagate sucks up Samsung storage biz

The Unexpected Bill
Unhappy

Nothing against Seagate...

I just don't like all this consolidation in the storage market. Having a *choice* when it came to buying hard drives was very nice at times...now it seems that there will just be two left standing: WD and Seagate. If I want any more SpinPoint drives, I guess I'd better get them while the getting is good...

I don't consider Toshiba a serious maker of hard disk drives. So far as I know, they don't make desktop drives and their mobile drives are garbage.

It comes as a surprise that Seagate does not already have a market in places like China...most, if not all, of their drives are made in China these days.

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Feds indict poker sites, seize domains

The Unexpected Bill
Flame

I see they're still using the same bozotic web designer...

I wonder, other than a case of "look at how big and mighty *we* are", why it is that the sites being taken down are replaced with these ridiculous flashy banners? Is it supposed to scare people? Violate accessiblity guidelines? Smear an individual's good name before or regardless whether they are proven guilty in a court of law?

There are some very interesting (and by interesting, I mean "troubling") things going on here.

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Binary dinosaur drive found alive and breathing fire

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Couple of old PC clones still going here...

Most notably, I've got a Zenith Data Systems PC (8088) and a Kaypro Professional Computer (8086) that are both going strong. The Zenith is floppy-disk only territory while the Kaypro had a Seagate ST-251 hard drive installed sometime in the early 1990s, or so says a printout that I found tucked in the bay above the drive.

The ST-251 still works well, yet due to its use of a stepper motor to drive the read/write heads around and its tendency to drift out of alignment due to changes in climate and position, it needs to be low-level formatted.

I had some other "neat stuff" in my collection, including a fully functional Apple III and a fully loaded Apple IIe. Too bad I had a basement flood that washed it away.

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Naked at 30: Osborne 1 stripped to its chips

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

Couple of thoughts...

First of all, thanks for an interesting article and exploration. Some years back, I rescued an Osborne 1 from "Curbside Discount" along with a bunch of software. Apart from a burnt out bulb in the power button, it worked quite well. I certainly did not go as far as you did in taking it apart, mainly out of fear of breaking it.

If you can find a copy of Peter A. McWilliams' Personal Computer In Business book, it will be an interesting trip down memory lane...and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Mr. McWilliams was none too fond of the Osborne 1 and made that perfectly clear. He felt the screen was too small, the fan too loud (of which more later) and the character font unclear. His description of the screen's phosphor color was also not to be missed--"several shades of orange, not unlike a punk rocker's hair" IIRC. He also disagreed with Adam Osborne about screen size--Peter's thought being that bigger screens were the way of the future while Adam insisted that smaller screens would be all you'd see. In their own ways, I think both men were right.

(If anyone out there still has the supplement to this book that is mentioned at the back--I'd love to know about it. Likewise, I think there was a much later version published in the 1990s that I can't seem to find now.)

I was surprised to see that your system had what appeared to be a green phosphor display, and found the lack of a cooling fan interesting as well. Every O1 I ever saw had the cooling fan underneath a sliding door in the handle. I don't think there was a black and white version of the display--I definitely did not expect to see a green one!

As for the display, it's probably fixable. You should turn down the brightness and contrast dials before the screen gets a permanent line or a "belly button" burned into it. I would bet that the failure is either bad solder or dried up capacitors that have drifted far from specifications over the years. Bad solder could be determined by poking at the CRT board with a **well insulated** object. If you're not comfortable around very high voltage electronics, see if you can get a knowledgeable friend to help--and maybe you could owe them a favor or buy them dinner?

Anyway...that's a pretty cool walkthrough of the system. Thanks again for doing it and sharing the result.

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HP taps Google's print server in the sky

The Unexpected Bill
Badgers

@thecakeis(not)alie Uh, check the date?

I think you're taking an article seriously that isn't meant to be taken seriously.

What I want to know is how you find a cloud printer once you've used it...someone really ought to do a mashup and then it'd really be Web 2.0 compliant.

(Of course, there is something to be said for a printer that the users can't find, because if they can't find it, they are a lot less likely to break it by pushing buttons and hoping for a miracle.)

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German Green extracts tracking info from mobile operator

The Unexpected Bill
Go

@bill 20 - 30th Mar 11 14:33 GMT

TV shows have a long running habit of doing stuff like this, or at least the ones made in the US do. One rather high profile show (who wants to guess at its name?) on CBS once showed a late model G4 iMac in a close-up camera shot, ostensibly displaying a screenshot of its hardware configuration, which reported it to be running a "Generic Operating System", version and build number 5.0.2195 (Windows 2000's build number, if you were wondering). I'm one of these strange people who enjoys sitting there and watching for this stuff, and it shows up absolutely all of the time. I'm not complaining...I like it and it's usually more fun than watching the program in the normal way!

I don't assume malice when stupidity will do, so I guess the writers just don't have time or the expertise to fact check everything. Plus, I suppose, some stuff simply sounds better when it's been embellished or totally fabricated.

In reference to the article, that is just one of a few different reasons why I do not carry a running cell phone with me. I would grudgingly admit to having a little prepaid phone, but it's turned off 95% of the time. Most of the time, it ends up resting in the house because I have no desire or need to be *that* connected to the world.

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Chilean clock-cooking could cause computer chaos

The Unexpected Bill
WTF?

What chaos?

Years and years ago, Microsoft supplied a little goodie known as the "Windows NT Timezone Editor". It was even backported to Win9x as part of the Kernel Toys series, where the help file was sure to point out that this version was "so compatible, it even says Windows NT in the title bar".

(Now, why is it I can't remember this week's password?)

That tool was the only way to go if Microsoft didn't offer an update package for your version of Windows when the US changed some of its DST rules.

Around that same time, Apple did the same thing for Mac OS X, although they did not release it for older versions. I'm sure the Linux/Unix, BSD, OS/2 and whatever other operating systems you might care to name all adapted somehow as well. After all, if even Microsoft was smart enough not to hard-code timezone info into Windows...it should have been obvious for everyone else not to.

So, what's to stop anyone from simply doing the same for Chile and its time zone(s)?

I'll bet I'm not the first to mention this... :-)

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Steve Jobs screws my wife (out of $944)

The Unexpected Bill
Troll

VulturePad? I like it!

Well, I'll admit that I've wondered if Prickett Morgan indicated a middle name or hyphenated dual surname, so I guess you've cleared that up. Idle hands and all of that. :-)

Okay...back to the real point of the article. I recently came into a first-gen iPad (64GB/WiFi if you must know) and while I've got to say that it is truly slicker than snot on a doorknob...and frankly I'm glad it hasn't got a camera in it...after many hours of messing around with its built in web browser and some of the other applications, I still don't see what the iPad's real purpose is. What does it want to be? Why do I need one and what will I do with it?

On the other hand, I do have an Amazon Kindle (3G+WiFi/latest generation hardware) that is used primarily as a reading device. I don't browse the web with it much, but it does what it does very well and the fact that Amazon is paying for the 3G service only makes it more appealing to me. I haven't had the problem with mistaking the device's e-ink screen for a touchscreen, but others certainly have, so there's something there. The lack of color in the screen really doesn't bother me that much.

With flash memory, of course, there is no need to worry about magnets. It'll take a lot more than that to corrupt anything.

I'm not really trolling per se, just kind of responding to the article. Hopefully you'll get a blue cover for your new iPad soon enough...

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Apple Mac OS X: ten years old today

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

It doesn't seem like ten years ago...

Right now I have a copy of the Mac OS X public beta sitting on my desk. I've never run it, though I did try to boot it up on a Power Macintosh 9600/350 a couple of years back. It only got so far before locking up. I never did try to troubleshoot it.

I remember hating to see the clean, classic look and feel of Mac OS 9 and prior vanish in OS X, but it didn't take long to get used to the VASTLY improved stability and actual pre-emptive multitasking! These days, even considering how much simple charm (is that even what I want to say?) the Classic Mac OS has, I'm not sure I could go back...

1
0

BlackBerry bans drink-drive apps

The Unexpected Bill
Flame

Drunk driving is very stupid...

I'm not a fan of these checkpoints, and I do my best to avoid them if I somehow come to know that one is around.

Why? I was driving along fairly late at night when I saw this distant scene of flashing lights and what looked like the elevated bed of a flatbed towing truck in the distance. To me, it looked like an accident and nothing that I wanted anything to do with, much less interfere. So I turned around rather hastily in a parking lot (without signaling my intention) and was almost through it when this police car (no lights of any sort on, not even its headlights) snuck up behind my vehicle. Turns out the police really weren't very happy that I'd turned around, and they also weren't happy that I hadn't signaled. (Do you believe that was the only reason? I don't. I'm sure they thought I was possibly drunk and looking to dodge the checkpoint.)

That's how I got the only warning on my driving record...and to be quite frank, it made me mad. I really call into question how putting a road block right near a busy intersection in the dead of night is any less potentially dangerous than a drunk driver.

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BOFH: In distributed denial

The Unexpected Bill
Coffee/keyboard

Absolutely Hilarious!

Everyone will just have to keep wondering why I'm laughing like I am. My keyboard was very definitely in danger at several points in this story. The fact that I've done the whole surreptitious wireless keyboard and mouse installation only makes it funnier.

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The Unexpected Bill
Go

@AC 19th Mar 2011 12:55 GMT

You're remiss on your BOFH history...it's likely something that is only available to Register Platinum level cookie users, as opposed to us normal "lead cookie" types, the same as one of the BOFH stories was.

In case anyone thinks I'm serious, I'll have a bridge to sell on the eighth day of this week.

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Fukushima one week on: Situation 'stable', says IAEA

The Unexpected Bill
Thumb Up

Thanks for the reporting...

Compared to the other reports about the disaster, Lewis, your reporting has been very well worded and thought out. I don't think there is any doubt that the situation is not great, but it doesn't call for the hysterics that some news outlets are engaging in. (One case in point--an article on the Huffington Post--was written so badly, stating that the Fukushima reactors had gone "China Syndrome" already--that I almost wanted to reach through the screen and smack the author for being silly.)

I don't think you've got anything to be sorry for, although the tone of this article does come across as a bit defensive of your position on the issue.

2
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Apple 'gay-cure' app severely slapped

The Unexpected Bill
Flame

Why does it matter?

I realize that I might come to regret making this post, but I'm somehow driven to climb up onto my obnoxious opinions soapbox and extense once again. You have been warned. :-)

I just don't get why someone's sexual orientation and preference matters the way it seems to. (Although, thankfully, it seems to be mattering a lot less than it used to.) Are people really so sad as to care who you spend your life and satisfy whatever intimate desires you might have with?

The question is mostly rhetorical, but I've been asking it to myself for years and have yet to find a really good answer. (In other words, this isn't your invitation to flame and be rude.)

Okay, there. I said it. (And now that I have: I'm not in a relationship, not looking, probably never will be, have no real desire to be and this has more to do with a great desire to do "my own thing" than anything else. I haven't given much thought to my own orientation, though I know that I'm not into women at all. I have a very independent mindset and am not good at pleasing other people unless I want to be.)

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Moving to Windows 7: Is it worth it?

The Unexpected Bill
Go

In a word, the simple answer is...

"No".

If the software you have is working well on your current version of Windows, and does everything you need, why put yourself through an upgrade?

The actual answer is a bit more complicated and depends upon a number of factors. You do have to consider that older operating systems frequently lose support for newer applications. Security update support ends at some point for all systems, which is probably the real deciding factor for a lot of business operations. So far, though, Windows XP refuses to die and (so far as I know -- may vary depending upon who you ask) has the largest user base of any release of Windows thus far. And so far, any software that I can think of or would want to run...well, it runs just fine on Windows XP.

(In truth, I'm still using Windows 2000 as a production OS on many machines, though not any longer in a commercial setting. I'm not stupid. Well, OK and perhaps more honestly, I'm not that stupid. It simply does what I want, need and nearly all of the programs I use regularly run just fine on it.)

The operating system just doesn't matter like it used to, and that's a fine concept by me.

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0

Microsoft releases IE9 for chip happy Windows world

The Unexpected Bill
Happy

I was wondering when 'someone was going to say'...

...and I agree wholeheartedly. Microsoft was, arguably, one of the first* to include a browser with their operating system. And what did it get them? An anti-trust action. Now everyone includes a browser with their operating system.

I'm not saying IE was great, but at one time, the Trident rendering engine behind it was quite nice in terms of speed. Check the requirements for IE6 SP1 and you'll see they listed as a 486DX2-66 processor as the minimum CPU...which wasn't unreasonable for the less-scripting intensive sites we had back then.

All I'm saying is that Microsoft made something of an innovation and drove the rest of an industry to do the same thing. Maybe, in that way, they did more to revitalize the market for a competing web browser than you'd realize at first guess?

I don't buy the whole Windows and IE "make it so much better together" argument and I think it's pretty dumb of Dean Hachamovitch to say something like that.. IE9 is a non-starter for me as I'm not running Windows Vista or Windows 7 and I doubt that I will be. Neither one has a design that I find useful or appealing. It's quite possible (and probably not that hard) to write code with case-by-case optimizations that are called into service for each operating system where they are needed. Having had conversations with Microsoft employees in the IE, Office and Windows divisions, I'd not call them stupid. (Opinionated and convinced that theirs is the best or only way: absolutely.) Yet that statement is pretty dumb and reeks of pure marketing.

* maybe not *the* first, but I'm far too lazy or busy (your pick) to research it now and see...

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Microsoft calls time on Zune media player hardware

The Unexpected Bill

Zune was a mixed bag...

I remember when the Zune first came out and everyone at Microsoft was saying "this will be the iPod killer". Hmm. I guess it didn't work out quite like they thought it would.

In my role as a freelance computer serviceperson, I never even saw that many Zune players in use. People were using iPods or Sandisk players of some kind. Whenever I asked, many of the comments about Zune players were negative. Most people complained that the hardware was unreliable/fragile and technical support was not all that great. For me, it was a non-starter. An iPod mini and iTunes work on Windows 2000* while Zune's software claimed not to. (I have no idea if the Zune appeared as a conventional USB mass storage device or if it required the software.)

I also remember the Zune HD getting some pretty good reviews, and I did like the way it was designed. I've never seen one of those in the wild, but maybe I'll pick one up on the cheap and see what I think of it.

* yes, I'm going to beat the drum on that for a while. What can I say? It works relentlessly and it's paid for. And it might just be the best release of Windows that Microsoft ever managed to produce.

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Microsoft says 'sorry' after Japan quake marketing gaffe

The Unexpected Bill
Go

@skelband - explanation

Someone might well beat me to this. Who knows?

Twitter hasn't got a whole lot to do with this, other than being the medium. What's going on here is that someone within the Microsoft corporation posted a message to the Twitter site stating that for every response they received to their posting, they would donate some amount of money up to a certain value (seemingly $100,000 in this case).

Well...I'm relatively sure that they probably meant well, but here's where the problems start. For starters, how do we even know it's legitimate? E-mails purporting to be from some reputable corporation (including Microsoft, speaking in terms of legitimacy of their business, not quality of their product, so don't flame me) were sent around claiming a similar thing would happen. Only trouble is, they were completely bogus. And while their intentions might have been good, the whole part of posting it to Twitter and saying "respond to this and we'll donate" can really come across as a cheap, poorly thought out publicity stunt. I don't know that it was, and I don't pretend to pontificate in a way that would suggest I did.

That is basically the point of the article. Microsoft pulled off what could have been (and mostly was) perceived as a poor publicity stunt as opposed to just quietly supporting the recovery efforts in Japan.

By the way...just because it's been "that kind of a day"...those who are thinking that $100,000 doesn't buy a lot of cars...well, you're right. Congratulations. It could buy a lot of meals for those who don't have one, it can buy lots of cleaning supplies and many other little things that just might help a lot. I've been close enough to a disaster where the American Red Cross was involved, and I can say that their presence was an enormous help. Even though I wasn't particularly hard-hit by said disaster, I did help people who were and all of those buckets, mops and other cleaning supplies provided without reservation by the Amercan Red Cross were much appreciated.

As for these people's cars...well, I'd guess I'd say "let's just pull the engine apart, drain the water out, slap a new battery in and see if she'll go!"

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Google juices VP8 open source video codec

The Unexpected Bill
Thumb Up

There is a reason for the names...

...and while I cite Wikipedia on this, it does seem to be backed up by actual verifiable fact. On2 Technologies was known early on as The Duck Corporation.

http://www.duck.com/ now redirects to Google, check the IA Wayback Machine if you don't believe me.

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Seagate launches XP-supporting 3TB drive

The Unexpected Bill
Go

The problem is not one of the motherboard or BIOS...

...it's the simple fact of the matter that the MBR partition scheme simply runs out of steam past the 2TB mark. Having been to the 3TB line a few years back (using a real hardware RAID controller and doing entertaining things with it), I can say that 32-bit Windows XP will only recognize the first 2TB of any volume that is larger than 2TB.

A BIOS isn't likely to care as long as it can properly figure the disk geometry calculations and can pass control over to something that will take the system through the booting process.

What you need is another partition scheme, and that doesn't necessarily require a 64-bit operating system. A number of 32-bit operating systems will support disks over 2TB without incident, but Windows is not one of them. 64-bit Windows (XP x86-64 and newer) supports the GUID partition table (GPT), which can support really large volumes.

It seems that 32-bit XP and Windows 2000 before it are "aware" of a GPT volume but unable to mount and access it.

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