Posts 851 to 858:

VNC and XP

I get an infinite loop when I log into VNC on an XP box.  Saw your posts and no answeres and wondered if you found a solution?


Posted by sam on 2 replies

Sony's Nasty CDs & Wal-Mart's Nasty Music Service

Last year, Sony sold some audio CDs that secretly contained rootkits -- essentially a nasty virus, albeit one that doesn’t self-propagate -- that not only seriously messed up your system, but also contained security holes that allowed hackers to mess up your system, too.  They’ve received all kinds of bad press about this, and rightly so, and have since been schooled by the justice system for it.

The settlement allows people who purchased one of their nastyware-infested CDs to get a free replacement along with 3 free album downloads from places like iTunes or Wal-Mart.  The list of available albums is pretty slim, but I can find 3 on there that I’d like to have.  And since I purchased the album "Faso Latido" by A Static Lullaby last year, which is one of the infected CDs, I’m in the money.

Not owning an iPod, I thought I’d check out some of the other download services, like that offered by Wal-Mart.  I won’t even bother to link to their site because 1) their site structure is awful, with ugly unintelligible links that look like they might not even work outside an existing session, and 2) their music download service is IE-only, Windows-Media-Player-only, and Windows-only.  From their FAQ:

How can I get the best performance out of Wal-Mart Music Downloads?

To avoid problems with downloading and playback, please make sure you do the following:

Use Internet Explorer 6.0 or later, or Windows Media Player 9 or later

Disable pop-up blockers

Disable firewalls

Disable download accelerators

Oh, sure, that sounds great!  While you’re at it, why don’t you unplug your computer, put it outside in the rain, and have your dog take a dump on it.

If I’m not mistaken, you can buy songs from ITMS and burn them to a CD, even if you don’t have an iPod, right?  It looks like that’s what I’ll probably do.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies

The S is for Sucks

While watching the new movie V for Vendetta on Friday night, all I could think of was Trogdor and how the "s" is for "sucks."

OK, so the movie didn’t totally suck.  It was entertaining and interesting, but also annoying.  The thing is, with all the hype about "it’s by the Wachowski brothers, creators of the Matrix!!1!", I was expecting something great.  I guess I should have more heavily factored the suckiness of Matrix II and III into my expectations.

[Warning: spoilers follow.]

V for Vendetta rather overtly panders to the liberal crowd.  It paints a picture of the future where Great Britain has become a totalitarian state in the wake of an awful terrorist attack.  Of course, in the end it turns out that it was actually the British government who carried out the attacks, in order to have an excuse for stomping out civil liberties and amassing more power in the government.

In other words, it’s everything the crazy leftists believe that America is today.  The ruler of Britain was depicted exactly like Hitler, complete with raised arm, buggin’ out eyeballs, and red flags waving all around him.  If V for Vendetta were a thread on an online forum instead of a movie, it would have been over pretty quickly thanks to Godwin’s Law.

Then there was the pointless lesbian subplot.  Apparently some liberals believe we’re on track for a future where homos are collected up and put away by the government, again Nazi-style.  Never mind the fact that in the real America today, some states have gone so far as to change the centuries-old definitions of words in order to give special rights to homos.

In general, I liked the characters in the movie, I liked what little action / fight scenes there were, and the plot itself wasn’t bad.  They managed to not include the pointless sex scene that virtually every movie has nowadays, so that was cool.  If it weren’t for the whiny liberal tripe underlying the whole thing, I’d give it two pretty solid thumbs up.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies

Mo' Money

I run another blog over on Encodable, and I’m now putting some of my more technical type posts there instead of here on ND.  That’s mainly because blogging == money (or more accurately, blogging == traffic =~ money) for business sites.

So anyway, if those kinds of posts interest you, then you may want to frequent that blog too.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies

You Must Be At Least This Smart To Use The Internet

It’s sad but true.  And the grammatical error in the comic’s title is the icing on the cake.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies

Mac Mini

Well, I finally went crazy insane and bought an Apple computer.

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The Mac Mini is actually pretty cool, mainly because it’s so small.  But in any case, I needed a Mac system so that I can develop and debug web pages in its Safari web browser, and that’s basically all I’m going to use the Mini for.

Within a few days of having it up and running, I was able to spend some time getting FileChucker to work properly in Safari, so it now works in all modern browsers.

Of course, a couple weeks after I buy the thing, Apple releases a big update to the Mini, most notably including the switch from the old PowerPC architecture to the x86 architecture: the Mini now runs either an Intel Core Solo chip or an Intel Core Duo chip.  Other fun upgrades include:

Quoting ARS:

...built-in 802.11g and Bluetooth support, 4 USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, analog and Dolby Digital audio out, DVI video out, two slots for RAM, and 512MB of PC2-5300 DDR RAM (to go with its 667MHz FSB)...

So that’s kinda stinky, but on the other hand, it’s cool to have one of the last PPC-based Macs too.  However, I wouldn’t mind having the increased performance of the newer units:

Quoting ARS:

Steve Jobs claimed that the new Core Solo Mac mini is anywhere from 2.5 to 3.2x faster than its PowerPC 7447 predecessor...

But that’s OK.  As I said, I’m not going to use the system very much anyway; I’m just glad to be able to have a system running Safari to debug web applications on.

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Posted by Anthony on 7 replies

Goodbye Shadycrest

Well we’ve moved out of our first home together and back to the eastern side of Pennsylvania.

There was a brown boxer that lived across the street from us, who was tied on a 4-foot leash on the tiny concrete stoop in front of his house for what seemed like 24 hours a day.  Even though he had 4 feet of leash, he only ever stood in one spot: directly in front of the door, wanting to be let inside.  Whenever we’d leave the house he would turn his head away from the door to look over at us, and it was the saddest thing.  I so wish we had gotten a photo of him, but I guess this will have to do:

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I’m going to miss Pittsburgh a lot.  There is so much to love about that city: it’s cozy and inviting, yet big enough to have lots of separate districts and a real skyline.  The downtown ("dahntahn") area is situated at the meeting-point of 3 big rivers, and on the other sides of the rivers are small mountains, so leaving downtown you often cross a really cool bridge and then go through a really cool tunnel.

That’s what you had to do to get to our house: you crossed the Liberty Bridge and then went through the Liberty Tunnel and then came out on the South Side.  Another awesome thing about where we lived in Beechview was that it was totally residential/suburban: we lived in a nice little neighborhood with trees and a (small) yard and kids who played baseball in the streets, yet it was only a 7-minute drive to downtown.

One thing I’m really going to miss is Molly’s Cheese Sticks from Adrian’s Pizza.  They’re not unlike cheese sticks from other pizza places: basically a 12-inch pizza with some garlic, no sauce, and cut into rectangular strips.  But something about them was different and just perfect.

And I couldn’t believe the letter we got from Verizon the week before we moved out: they are now rolling out their FIOS (sickeningly fast fiber-optic) internet service in Pittsburgh.  Doh!

Of course I’m waxing sentimental here; it wasn’t all rosy out in the ’burgh.  Sure, we lived there during Superbowl XL which the Pittsburgh Steelers won, which was cool... but we also had to put up with insanely obnoxious fans.  The tunnels are really cool, but whenever people approach them, for no good reason they cut their speed in half.  It’s so bad that they actually have to roll out these big blinking construction signs that say "MAINTAIN SPEED THRU TUNNEL."  Pittsburgh is probably the only city in the world where the road signs encourage you to go faster.

Another thing I won’t miss is the rarity of Turkey Hill Iced Tea in Pittsburgh.  You could get it at some Shop ’n Save locations, but no where else, and even there they often failed to store it cold; for anyone who knows anything about real iced tea -- or anyone who can read the label on the container -- you know that if you let it get warm at any point, it goes bad.  But the thing is, it doesn’t go so bad that it’s like rotten milk (unless you let it get warm for a really long time, which I’ve only ever experienced one time); it only goes bad enough that it tastes gross, and if you didn’t normally drink it, you’d just think it was a crappy brand of iced tea.  The bottom line is that the dairy managers at these grocery stores seem to be clueless about this so it’s really hard to find unspoiled Turkey Hill Iced Tea.

And that’s one more thing I won’t miss about Pgh: the crappy grocery stores.  Basically your only choices are Shop ’n Save or Giant Eagle, both of which are pretty sad.  OK, they are getting better, but still sad; nothing like a Wegmans or a Giant.

To close this marathon post, I want to thank everyone who helped in our colossal moving effort.  Rolly flew out to help us load the truck load the truck and to drive the truck across the state; Brian helped with the unloading; Tasha and Dan let us use their basement to store some lots of stuff for a few months; and the parents Allen helped with the unloading, driving the truck for the last leg, and providing a place for us to stay for a while.

No thanks to U-Haul for selling us a reservation for a 19-foot truck, then telling us there is no such thing as a 19-foot U-Haul when we tried to pick it up; for not renting their vans for one-way moves; and for refusing to rent trailers to anyone who drives a Ford Explorer.  Also for just being generally annoying and shady, like claiming that a truck with a 14-foot bed is a 17-foot truck because of the tiny "Mom’s Attic" space above the cab, and then simultaneously referring to the Mom’s Attic as "Extra Space!!1!" in their advertising.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Video of Your Hard Drive In Action

Here is a really cool video that shows a hard drive running with its top cover removed.  (Of course, that particular drive is now worthless, since the tiniest bit of dust can cause the heads to damage themselves or the platters.  But it was surely worth sacrificing one hard drive for the purposes of making a cool demo video.)

One note of clarification: people sometimes use the term "hard drive" to refer to their entire computer (sans peripherals like monitor, keyboard, and mouse).  That usage is incorrect, though.  The big ol’ tower that you plug all the cables into is not the hard drive, it’s the computer.  The hard drive is an individual device -- the size of a small book -- that is found inside the computer.  And it’s the device shown in the video above.

Update: the first time I watched this video, I missed the first ~5 seconds of audio (I had my volume muted previously).  During that time the guy mentions that the hard drive has a transparent cover.  So they didn’t remove the cover from a disk, killing it in the process, as I originally stated.

But don’t let that dissuade you -- there are other benefits to killing your hard drive by removing its cover.  For example, the magnets that control the servo for the read/write heads are extremely strong and fun to play with.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies

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