Will technology ever catch up?

Archive for the ‘Windows XP’ Category

Rant: Mourning the release of Vista…

Posted by cascadehush on February 1, 2007

It’s probably obvious, but I’ve taken a week off from the blog.  (Apart from a few linkdumps, which don’t count, because who really reads them anyway.)

Vista is released today, that is the big story. I don’t like it, but it’s happening anyway. I could rant and rave but that’s not going to change anything. Many people will buy it, many more will get stuck with it and a significant number will continue with XP for many years to come. That’s my plan.

And if the OS after Vista isn’t something totally new, re-engineered from the ground up, without all the silly DOS throwbacks and over-the-top self conscious showboating (designed to mask the silly DOS throwbacks) then I’ll be switching completely to OSX and or Linux for my sundry boxxens.

Hey, maybe in 5 years Linux will actually be good.

Posted in Rant, Vista, Windows XP | 2 Comments »


Posted by cascadehush on January 10, 2007

Here is a list of recent stories I have found noteworthy but don’t have the time to blog about specifically. Call this a bit of a trial-run; most of them are Lifehacker articles but next time I’ll try to mix it up a little.

Highlight overused phrases with the Cliché Finder – Lifehacker

The Cliché Finder leaves no stone unturned in the hunt for overused phrases in your writing.

Create smart sets in Flickr with SmartSetr – Lifehacker

Web site SmartSetr lets you create smart sets for your Flickr account based on predefined criteria, like tags, text, date taken, or date uploaded.

Download of the Day: Ophcrack Live CD – Lifehacker

The free, open source Ophcrack Live CD is a Windows account password cracking tool designed to help you recover lost Windows passwords.

Download of the Day: Docsvault (Windows) – Lifehacker

Windows only: Organize, manage, search and archive all your documents with Docsvault Home Edition. Reminiscent of the PaperPort document-management software that used to come with Visioneer scanners, Docsvault helps you organize saved and scanned documents using a simple cabinet/drawer-style filing system.

How to Change the World: The Art of Schmoozing

The key is to establish a relationship before you need it. And this is why I’d like to provide the art of schmoozing.

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive 20 Different Ways to Manage Your To Dos «

How many ways are there to manage your task list? Almost as many as there are people with tasks to do.

Geek to Live: The command line comeback – Lifehacker

But I don’t use the command line, you say. Oh but you do! Let’s take a closer look at this surprising “circle of life” right back to the trusty old command line with some examples of CLI in modern personal computing.

Track your reading trends with Google Reader – Lifehacker

Google has added a Trends feature to Google Reader, allowing you to track your reading and subscription trends in Reader.

Boot Linux from a flash drive – Lifehacker

you can boot the Linux distro Knoppix right from your USB flash drive. A simple new tutorial shows you how.

Mac Switchers Tip: Remap the Home and End keys – Lifehacker

details on how to remap those keys to behave the way they do on other operating systems.

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

Each of the photographs below represents 200 calories of the particular type of food; the images are sorted from low to high calorie density.

Free e-book teaches Ruby programming – Lifehacker

Mr. Neighborly’s Humble Little Ruby Book, a new e-book that teaches the basics and then some.

Posted in Freeware, General Knowledge, GTD, Links, OSX, Photography, Productivity, Software, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Download of the Day: Comodo Personal Firewall (Windows) – Lifehacker

Posted by cascadehush on January 10, 2007

Download of the Day: Comodo Personal Firewall (Windows) – Lifehacker:

Windows only: Keep your PC safe with Comodo Personal Firewall, a free security program designed to block outside intruders and keep your PC from “leaking.”

Unlike the free version of ZoneAlarm, Comodo recognizes thousands of known programs as safe, meaning it won’t bombard you with pop-up warnings for those programs.

I used the free version of ZoneAlarm myself for years, until SP2 gave every activated copy of XP a built-in firewall. There was a time when ZoneAlarm was great, it would let you know the name and location of the .exe file that was trying to access the internet, and you could make an informed choice. But towards the end I found I was getting asked about programs referred to as ‘Generic Process’ or ‘Run DLL as App’ accessing the internet. Clearly these types of descriptions could mean anything from a regular system service to a nasty bit of spyware, and so the app became unusable.

Personally I think you are better off with XP’s built in firewall combined with a bit of common sense about what programs you install in the first place.

I can’t vouch for Comodo, but I thought the post worth linking to. It’s possible in the future I may try it, if I find I need more than the XP firewall. There are some interesting comments, as usual, offering suggested alternatives.

Posted in PC, Security, Software, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

PC: Rip and watch, the only way to experience DVDs.

Posted by cascadehush on January 9, 2007

Hack Attack: One-click DVD rips – Lifehacker:

I love a good DVD as much as the next guy, but the whole optical media world has been on my shitlist lately. I’m sick of renting or Netflix-ing a DVD, getting an hour into it, then hitting the scratchety-skip zone that freezes up my DVD player and leaves me unable to finish my stories.

My solution to this problem is to rip every DVD I rent to my hard drive as soon as I get it. In my experience, a rip smooths over those un-renderable sections of the DVD without issue, so when I’m ready to watch the ripped DVD, it’s certain to be scratch and skip-free.

Same here. DVDs suck anyway. It’s bad enough you have to sit through the propaganda from distributors, but now you often get anti-piracy messages on rental DVDs.

I don’t want to be forced to wade through a few minutes of drivel. It’s kinda ironic that these things that are supposed to help alleviate piracy are the very things that force me to rip the DVD.

And of course, as Adam says in his post on Lifehacker, you often encounter read errors that bring your evening’s viewing to a halt.

None of this is fun. Watching DVDs is supposed to be entertainment.

About 4 times a year I watch an actual DVD, and I almost always regret it. Rip and watch, the only way to experience DVDs.

Posted in Media, Software, Troubleshooting, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

XP: Finding and Installing Drivers, Part 1.1 – Via Motherboard Chipsets

Posted by cascadehush on January 8, 2007

N.B. This is a continuing series of articles about finding and installing drivers in the case that you either don’t have the original driver CD or choose not to use it. There is an introduction to this series as well as an section introduction about Motherboard Chipset.

VIA Technologies, Inc, without a doubt, have the best motherboard driver package. I can’t say whether they are the best chipsets, though most of my PCs have Via chipsets. I find them a nice balance between cost and performance.

4 in 1 Driver
The older motherboard driver package was and is called the ‘4 in 1 Driver’. It is recommended for systems more than about 3 or 4 years old. Personally I have had good results with this driver on quite old systems running Win98; so don’t feel compelled to track down motherboard specific drivers for some ancient hardware if you have already identified it has a Via chipset.

The 4 in 1 driver contains the following drivers

  • AGP VxD; necessary for proper operation of an AGP Graphics Card
  • ATAPI Driver for smoother running of your IDE device.
  • The ‘INF’ driver which sets up the power management
  • The PCI IRQ Miniport Driver, which is only necessary and only installs on Win98, to fix IRQ routing.
  • For NT only, the VIA IDE Bus Mastering driver. This is the only driver installed on NT.

The package runs on any version of Windows from 95 to XP (32 bit only) and is smart enough to know which are the appropriate drivers for your hardware and OS.

The current version is 4.43 and was released on 25 October 2001. Don’t let its age fool you. It is a stable, mature driver set. Download the Via 4-in-1 Driver

Hyperion Pro
Sounds impressive. Well, perhaps not. But this is the name for the current package of drivers. I guess the name 4 in 1 was getting a bit silly since there were 5 drivers included, of which you would get 1, 3 or 4 drivers depending on your OS.

The Hyperion package include similar but updated drivers to what is in the 4 in 1 package, with the important addition of the SATA drivers. As of this writing the latest version is 5.10a which was released on the 8 September 2006.

The Hyperion package is for Win98 through XP and Windows Server 2003. Both 32 bit and 64 bit versions, where appropriate, are included. As with the 4 in 1 package, the installer is smart enough to know what drivers are required.

You can download both the Hyperion and 4 in 1 drivers from VIA Arena.

A Note about RAID Utilities
Now here is a fact worth noting. Many SATA drivers give you the option of installing just the driver, or the driver plus the RAID utility. I recommend that you DONT install the utility, just the driver.

The RAID utility is not necessary, and is usually just another annoying taskbar icon.

If you have a Raid 1 or 5 array where a drive fails, you usually have to go into the BIOS or RAID BIOS to run a utility to re-build the array. (after replacing the faulty drive, of course). Whilst the array is being rebuilt you can’t use the PC, but it is the quickest way to re-build the array.

However, with the utility installed you can rebuild the array inside Windows, which means you can still use the PC whilst the utility re-builds the array. Your PC will probably be slow, and the array will likely take all day (maybe all night as well) but at least you have access to your email and play Freecell.

So if you really, really, must rebuild the array with Windows loaded, install the utility then, and not before. The uninstall it when you are done, or at least remove it from the line-up of programs that run whenever you start Windows.

Posted in Drivers, Hardware, PC, Troubleshooting, Win9x, Windows XP | 9 Comments »

Security: The Ten Most Dangerous Things Users Do Online

Posted by cascadehush on November 1, 2006

Dark Reading: The Ten Most Dangerous Things Users Do Online:

most users have no idea how dangerous their online behavior is.

Indeed. But whilst this is all good advice, I can’t help but point out that whilst most of these activities pose a great threat on Windows, they pose much less of a threat on OSX or Linux. Most of these are threats because of vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

So the top tip is to get get Firefox and Thunderbird, especially if you are a Windows user, and even if you are not.

Posted in Internet, Linux, OSX, Security, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Vista: 2 Gigs ‘Great’ Says Dell CEO

Posted by cascadehush on October 31, 2006

TechWeb: Vista With 2 Gigs ‘Great’ Says Dell CEO:

Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins told Bloomberg News: “I think they tell you maybe 1 gig [gigabyte] of memory is okay. No. Two gigs of memory would be great.”

Well maybe, but I’m running Visa RC1 with 1GB of memory and a 3GHz Prescott P4 and performance isn’t an issue. I could even run Aero even though I only have an nVidia FX5200 based graphics card. I don’t run Aero because I mainly use this box for video playback and the graphics drivers can’t cope with both Aero and video at the same time. This is a driver issue that will be fixed in due course.

The system requirements for XP were always over-hyped. Most people have trouble with XP because they have bloatware on their system or are trying to run too many programs. You can’t blame the operating system when the bulk of memory and CPU time is being used by a bunch of (often) poorly written programs. You’ll find that most of the time XP itself is using a very small percentage of your CPU cycles and RAM to keep itself going.

There is always a sweet-spot, however. Whilst XP struggles at times with only 256MB, it runs very well with 512MB. I’m sure Vista will double those values, but I don’t think it will quadruple them.

Posted in Hardware, PC, Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

XP & OSX: Adobe Soundbooth Beta

Posted by cascadehush on October 30, 2006

MacMerc.com: Adobe Soundbooth Beta available for download:

According to the specifications, Soundbooth requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.4.3 or greater.

Adobe Soundbooth is a baby sound editor, which looks like a drastically cut down version of Audition. What interests me is that this is available on both Windows and OSX. Audition is PC only and it sticks out like a sore thumb amongst Adobe’s otherwise cross-platform lineup.

Could this be a hint that Adobe are planning to start work on a version of Audition for OSX. The fact that Soundbooth is Intel only suggests that it may in fact contain code from Audition or it’s predecessor Cool Edit. Perhaps this is Adobe’s way of cutting their teeth on a smaller audio app.

This is all just speculation, but one can always hope.

Posted in OSX, PC, Security, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

XP: Happy 5th birthday, Windows XP!

Posted by cascadehush on October 30, 2006

ars technica: Happy 5th birthday, Windows XP!:

After five years, many people consider Windows XP to be getting a little long in the tooth. Yet such is the maturity of the operating systems market that there are far fewer “must-have” reasons to upgrade now than there were in the past. Windows XP brought drastically improved stability, a robust file system, and overall improved performance (provided you had enough RAM) to the general public, making it a worthwhile upgrade from the 9x series in almost all cases. Will Vista offer enough compelling reasons to upgrade? Or will the venerable XP keep chugging along in most people’s homes for years to come?

According to this article, 75% of Google searches are performed using XP and only 8% with Windows 98. But I suspect there are many Windows 98 boxes still out there that are not necessarily used by the type of web surfers that are big on Google searches, but are used for email and online banking.

My point is that 8 years after Windows 98 was released, and 5 years after XP, it still runs a significant proportion of PCs, despite being vastly inferior to XP.

Now Vista is not significantly superior to XP. If Windows 98 has survived 5 years of XP, I think XP will survive more than 5 years of Vista. I think there will come a time when Microsoft will have to start taking drastic measures to move people away from XP. It will eventually stop making XP available to distributors, that is inevitable, but I fear this may be sooner rather than later. There could even come a time when they no longer allow activation, which is exactly why such copy protection is evil.

I don’t consider XP long in the tooth. It is more stable and reliable than ever. I plan on using XP for a long time to come. I want to make it clear that my utter disgruntledness about Vista only increases my respect for XP. In the long-term, unless Microsoft can come up with something way better than Vista, it is likely I’ll be migrating completely to OSX. But I’ll be keeping my XP boxes alive for as long as possible.

Posted in PC, Vista, Win9x, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

IE7: Microsoft’s most secure Web browser

Posted by cascadehush on October 24, 2006

Security Bites: Microsoft’s most secure Web browser | CNET News.com:

For the first time in five years, Microsoft has released a new version of the Web browser. CNET News.com’s Joris Evers and CNET.com’s Robert Vamosi discuss IE 7’s heavily promoted security features in this week’s Security Bites.

Basic security isn’t a feature; the lack of security is a bug.

Microsoft has a history of selling us things as features when in actually fact they are merely fixes for problems that they engineered in the first place.

But I niggle. Watch the video, if for no other reason than to re-affirm your belief in Firefox.

Posted in Security, Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »