Computer Stuff: February 2005 Archives

This is my definitive post on Broadvoice, whose service I still use. I'll update this page as and when I have faults etc. In the interests of full disclosure, if you click on the provided Broadvoice links and sign up for service, I get a comission of your first month's bill. Go straight to the bottom of this post if you're looking for the horror stories.

Update 24/04/05: I've pretty much given up on Broadvoice, but I'm leaving this post as a cautionary tale to people to stay away from the company. I stayed with them for about 3 months and it was 3 months of intermittent service and static filled calls. I did eventually manage to get through to their help line, but their magic bullet answer is to change proxies. There are 5 that I've found, dca, mia, lax, chi, bos - none of which really helps me - all have problems at some time or other.

Their customer service is so lax that even though I've been topping search engines for "Broadvoice Sucks" for weeks now, they've never contacted me to help solve problems - or point out that some of the info I provide is very wrong - for instance the disconnection fee does not apply if you BYOD. I've moved to SkypeIN - which is fantastic and fantastically cheap. I might do more posts on VOIP, but Broadvoice is dead to me. Any referral fees will no longer come to me, as I will no longer be a customer in good standing. Die bastards Die.

411:

Broadvoice offers a tantalising solution - you get a phone number in the area code of your choice and it can be very cheap: $7.50 a month for unlimited incoming calls ($5.95 + $1.50 "Regulatory Fee"). Sign up price is $10.00 if you want use your own device ($40.00 if you want them to send you one) or X-Lite (the softphone).

Then comes the first problem they're not immediately open about - if you don't cancel within the first 30 days, you pay a "disconnection fee" of $50.00. So be sure to be sure if you want to keep the service.

This is my setup: I use Phoneconnector to connect a phone to my computer. I can then use that to talk using either Skype or X-lite (for Broadvoice). I use the latest version of everything, drivers, applications etc. I'm using XP SP2. My connection is through Starhub Cable in Singapore (6500 down/384 up), and I tend to talk for long periods of time to the US.

Broadvoice vs. Skype (Sound Quality):

I prefer Broadvoice to Skype.

The sound quality is definitely better, especially on your end if you're on Broadvoice and the other person is on a normal line. That's the majority of my experience, and I assume that that's how most people will use it.

The reason for this though, is that Broadvoice uses a much less "lossy" codec compared to Skype - it sounds better, but it takes up more bandwidth. I don't have a problem with this, and have an upload speed of 384 kbits/s - so I'm still able to run say eMule in the background uploading at 10 kbytes/s with no noticeable effects.

However, anything more than that and the voice quality suffers from excessive lags, regular crackling, and the sound cutting in and out - though mostly on the recieving end - you will still hear the other person fine.

So if you have a very slow broadband connection/super high latency, or you *need* to run your filesharing 24/7, Broadvoice is definitely not for you. I've found that Skype is much much better at working with limited bandwidth - but in the best case scenarios, Broadvoice is still better.

Broadvoice to Broadvoice I sometimes can't really distinguish from Skype, but like I said, I don't use it this way very often. I similarly have never really tried SkypeOut, so I can't say that much about its quality.

*caveat*: VOIP is really not about super-superb voice quality, even in the best circumstances, you're going to get the occasional echo etc. But having used plenty of traditional "budget" long distance services, the sound quality of Broadvoice is at least as good as those, only cheaper.

Broadvoice vs. Skype (Features):

Most important, with Broadvoice, I have a phone number people can call in to. And if the person you want to talk to most often has unlimited local calling in the US, you can just get a number in their area code and let them go crazy calling you for $7.50 a month.

With Broadvoice, there are unlimited plans, so if you know that's what you want it's definitely more worth it than say using SkypeOut.

Broadvoice vs. Vonage (Price):

I've since moved to using the $11.50 Broadvoice plan, since it was a chore to have people call me back all the time, and Phoneconnector has some issues I'll talk about maybe later. Vonage now has a cheaper plan at $15.00 (I'm not sure about other charges), but it's 500 free minutes out, unlimited in. They also offer X-Pro along with it. Personally I still find Broadvoice a better choice for me since I make my humungous amount calls all to the same place in-state.

Conclusion:

My final bit of advice is to try out the various services yourself. Skype and Broadvoice are pretty much free/cheap to try, depending on what hardware you have and how much you know how to do. That's the best way of finding out. Just be careful of Broadvoice's 30 day limit.

My Litany of Complaints About Broadvoice:

This isn't the full extent of my problems, I'll save those for when I feel the need to get my bile up.

March 02 2005: Cut off in the middle of a call, wasn't able to call back. Still managed to get incoming call, but then got cut off after 20 minutes. After that could call in or out. All in all lasted about an hour of inconsistencies after which everything was fine. Concievably they were further fixing a previous problem, that I couldn't call my Singapore land line. But had been fixed at least a couple of hours before. Will probably be seriously considering whether or not to cancel up till my 30 day limit. You'd think if you pay for something it'd just work and not give you problems.

I've decided it's just easier for me to post my e-mails to Broadvoice below. I've *NEVER EVER* recieved a reply from them either by e-mail or with a callback - though the problems do tend to eventually get fixed. I edit out all the personal information.

Further Links:

From my own research the links below are the most useful, and contain the most horror stories for those who want to hear the worst of what Broadvoice can offer. If you're willing to trawl, you can go through these reviews at dslreports.com. The most extensive and frequently updated report looks to be this one though: this seems to be the most exhaustive account of faults and problems a guy had before moving to Vonage. There are good reviews as well, but that's probably not what you came here looking for.

Latest e-mail to Broadvoice:

This is an update on the problem below that you’ve still not fixed and still not replied to me about.

The crackling sound still persisted, so I tried changing proxies from proxy.lax.broadvoice.com (which is what I’ve been using all along) to proxy.dca.broadvoice.com. dca doesn’t ping quite as fast, but changing it to that seemed to fix the problem – however, after talking for an extended period (about 30 minutes), the regular crackling on the other side came back. When I called back, the crackling still persisted. I’ll say this again – this was never a problem before 12pm Monday March 14th Singapore/Hong Kong time.

Throughout all this, with either proxy, I was still unable to call the singapore numbers, though the mobile number might be okay now – the land line definitely isn’t.

You have to realise that I send you e-mails because your 24 hour support line is never *never* available.

At the moment, my “Broadvoice Sucks” post is now no. 2 on Google, by the way: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=broadvoice+sucks&btnG=Google+Search

You can find the actual post, with these e-mails and the gaping hole of your lack of replies here: http://newblog.fallingbeam.org/blog/archives/2005/02/broadvoice_suck_1.html

Louis

www.fallingbeam.org

Account no:
Order Number:
Broadvoice/Contact Tel. no.: call any time.
Using X-Lite softphone with Phoneconnector
Not using Router, connecting on gateway computer running XP SP2, ICS, Windows Firewall (exception for X-Lite)
Using Starhub Cable (Singapore), 6500/384

I’ve had a history of problems, as detailed below. I’ve received no replies to my e-mails, even though the problems below were eventually fixed.

As before, I find I can no longer dial this number: . Previously I had been able to do so without problems. That number can still call in to me with no problems. Other phones are able to call in. The error message in X-lite is “408 – Timed out”. The problem no. belongs to my cable company (they also provide broadband to me) – it’s a digital phone service.

Previously when this happened I was still able to call in to the country (singapore +65), for example the mobile no. . Now this is not the case and I can no longer call that mobile no. I get the same error message: “408 – Timed out”.

*The biggest problem though* is that when calling a US no. – – the person on the other end hears continual crackling sounds at regular intervals, at least as of 12pm Monday March 14th Singapore/Hong Kong time. Previously there had been no problems and I was able to call and receive calls from this number with no problems – this has occurred at the same time I noticed the above problems.

The only time I had previously had this crackling problem was when I had had limited upload bandwidth from running P2P programs. I’ve since stopped using those programs while calls take place and that solved the crackling (so there have been no problems with this crackling for weeks since I figured this out) – but now, despite having stopped the P2P during calls, there are still these artifacts as stated above.

The crackling occurs regardless of whether I initiate the call or I am called.

Drop me an e-mail or call when it’s fixed – it’s only polite.

I maintain a log of the deluge of problems that Broadvoice gives me: http://newblog.fallingbeam.org/blog/archives/2005/02/broadvoice_suck_1.html

The worst part of this is that this is the last day I’m able to subscribe to your service without incurring your usage penalty of $50 if I later cancel my line – you tell me what I should make of that.

Louis

www.fallingbeam.org

________________________________________
From: Louis
Sent: Monday, February 28, 2005 8:23 PM
To: 'support@broadvoice.com'
Subject: Can't call to this no.

Account no:
Order Number:
Broadvoice/Contact Tel. no.: call any time.
Using X-Lite softphone with Phoneconnector
Not using Router, connecting on gateway computer running XP SP2, ICS, Windows Firewall (exception for X-Lite)
Using Starhub Cable (Singapore), 6500/384

I’ve had a history of problems, as detailed below. I received no reply to my e-mail, even thought he problem below was fixed.

When it was fixed though, I found I could no longer dial this number: . Previously I had been able to do so without problems. That number can still call in to me with no problems. Other phones are able to call in. The error message in X-lite is “408 – Timed out”.

Am still able to call in to the country (singapore +65), for example the mobile no. . Everything else has been fine, I’ve been able to call US no.s and they’ve been able to call in. The problem no. belongs to my cable company (they also provide broadband to me) – it’s a digital phone service.

Drop me an e-mail or call when it’s fixed – it’s only polite.

Louis

www.fallingbeam.org

________________________________________
From: Louis
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 9:13 PM
To: 'support@broadvoice.com'
Subject: Unable to recieve incoming calls (but can still call out)

Resent to comply with support instructions.

Account no:
Order Number:
Tel. no.: (call the singapore no. because, well, I can’t receive incoming calls on my Broadvoice no. ATM), call any time.
Using X-Lite softphone with Phoneconnector
Not using Router, connecting on gateway computer running XP SP2, ICS, Windows Firewall (exception for X-Lite)
Using Starhub Cable (Singapore), 6500/384


I’m having problems receiving incoming calls. There had been no problems with the service previously, I signed up about a week ago and had been receiving incoming calls fine. But while I can’t currently receive incoming calls, I can still call out, without problem.

What happens when someone calls in (now, that is), they just hear silence for about 10-20 seconds then an engaged tone – or maybe a cannot connect message. On my end, I get a call through, but when I pick up, X-Lite says connected, but there’s just silence. If I let it ring, X-lite acts as if 2 calls are coming in, on line 3 and line 2 – by which time the caller has already gotten the engaged tone.

Please fix this. I’ve restarted X-Lite a number of times, and restarted my computer/internet connection – and I say again, I can still call out without problems.

Also, when are you going to allow support for more efficient codecs on your service? Things like ilbc? Or basically just codecs that are more bandwidth efficient.

I’ve also still not received a response from you regarding your site’s incompatibility with the Opera Browser. This is a copy of what I sent previously:

“When I sign in to my account, instead of being brought to my account page I’m sent to a page that says this:

You are using a mobile device.
Opera/7.60 (Windows NT 5.1; U; en)
Click Me

I tried this with numerous versions of Opera, including the latest 8 beta. I identify as Opera. Please fix this. For more details on browser sniffing/headers etc. please refer to http://my.opera.com/community/openweb/info/
In addition, the automated referral service (http://www.broadvoice.com/opportunities_referral.html) you provide does not work in Opera, ie the referrer’s no. is not filled in when you go to the sign-up page.”

Louis

www.fallingbeam.org

Slashdot says so

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Good god, it must be because it's early and I just woke up that I just did this:

Did no one see this? Opera actually has benchmark testing that arguably makes it the "fastest" browser. It's true. Slashdot says so: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/11/2016227&from=rss

I'm not sure if you know this, but Avant Browser used to have another name: IE Opera - until the guy figured out what copyright was.

Also, since Microsoft has so recently found the religion that is inter'opera'bility, it'll only be a matter of time before we have a more agnostic interweb. I meant that's what IE7 will be about right? right? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/11/hakon_on_ms_interroperability/

Some things really have that effect - to put the fanboy shrill in your voice. If us scrappy underdog browser users can sound that way, it's from years of frustration.

Does anyone really think that something as clumsy and cluttered as these IE slappers will ever be more responsive, more elegant that the real thing?

Don't even get me started on Firefox.

So yes, that's me, angry Opera guy. *sigh*

You'll find it here, from here. Does no one else feel my pain?

This reminds me of the beginning of the Firefly pilot, Walsh playing with the dinosaurs, "curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal... Oh, No - God."

Category Feeds

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I found this little helper to create category based RSS feeds - so if you're just interested in a particular category, you can subscribe to the relevant feed.

You can find the list of categories as folders here, and just get the respective feed inside - index.rdf.

Pretty spanky if I should say so myself.

Feedburner Feeds: Television

Feedburner I find a bit annoying, but since it's there what the hell. The ads only really show up in IE, but then that serves people right. In other browsers it's just a neater page to browse - in feed readers it just shows the content. I'm wondering who would continually read in IE that they'd see the amazon links though.

Fanboy Heaven

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I saw this on Scoble's blog and couldn't resist.

I'm probably too big of a Klipfolio (www.serence.com) fanboy (T-shirt anyone?), but what's up with RSS readers looking so incredibly boring - this one included.

Speaking as an Opera fan(person), I can't even say that its RSS functionality is that much less boring - but at least with that you get a proper browser/mail client along with it (html blocking, super-fast database searches). How much you want to bet NewzToddler's "embedded browser" is UI slapping on IE? And I've yet to see anyone particularly excited by any use of the Windows XP notification balloons.

So if Klipfolio is too radical for you, and you insist on paying money, I'm sure Opera's news/rss etc. functionality is still that much better.

I'm such a troll.

Apparently Eric Rice hangs out there as well.

It had to be just as I moved over to Movable Type 3!!! Opera has enabled document.selection and document.getSelection, as you can see here. Which means there is nothing I can't do with Movable Type in Opera anymore!! Happy day :D. I can now post links through Opera with abandon.

Opera da man.

Also, Google has fixed its Google maps service to work with Opera, and this beta fixes the much ballyhooed IDN security issue. More details here.

I heart Opera. I want to hug it like it's furry.

"Victory is mine, Victory is mine! Great day in the morning, people, victory is mine... I drink from the keg of glory Donna, bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land."

On another lovely note, Mozilla seems to have stumbled, or at least caused some controversy, with it's own version fo the security fix - disabling the feature. But then it's the Register...

Finally Defrag, Gay Marissa

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After moving my eMule temp files from the temp disk, it seems that they were what's stopping the drive from defragmenting - the bastards. Gay Marissa is probably the best thing about the OC this season.

I'm sorry, but how many rss related ads is google going to serve on my site? I encourage you to at least click on all the klipfolio ones. I personally endorse them - though if you click on them, they probably have to pay for it. The good part is the money comes to me. Me me me. Muahaha. Louis has gone ad-crazy apparently.

"I'm sure it's just a phase" - effective fade out on Kirsten. "It was for me". Alienating and severe. How could this episode actually be an okay one? Oh my god. Most fetching Marissa in loose shift ever in recent memory.

Lost in suspension.

But it would seem that the underclocking is doing good - I can only assume that I ran out of luck with the CPU, since the ram's supposed to be bending in the pollen.

For a film reference I must say that at least they can't be faulted for not building it up and working it. Though I think the roof was the better climax.

Merci Y'all is still cracking me up.

Format

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Why do people still have to use 800x600. I'm feeling ever so slightly gumpy about the whole affair. At least I know now that that's one thing my Acer will be perfect for for a while yet - I should probably do most of my formatting there - it probably that much rarer for things to go wrong at higher than at lower resolutions. The ads are pretty much done - any complaints would be welcome.

As it is I'm much fonder of this kind of advertising, with a set rate of return per click through, that's not dependant on purchase. And at 8c a click, the returns aren't going to be too bad, espcially once they get around to indexing the pages. I'm really setting the target to break even in terms of hosting, to get back the $65 bucks. Doesn't seem unreasonable.

Unfortunately I'm never going to get to see most of the ads, since they're blocked most of the time, I suppose the search is the likeliest way in that sense, but even then the paid links get suppressed. I suppose I'm just going to have to leave it to the people using IE, haven't discovered proxomitron, an who use Firefox because the UI is snazzy. I'm probably the only one so rabid in blocking ads of the people I know though, really.

Hopefully Blogads comes through as well, and then I can tell the ringtones to bite me - though as I've noted, they do show up despite ad blocking. In many ways I'm not convinced Google does that good a job of indexing the site, the built in search seems more capable, and doesn't just scan the big amalgamated pages.

Tell me my LCD is worth buying

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I'm planning on getting a new monitor, because, as a great philosopher once said "because we want to, because we want to" - or was it "do you have a girlfriend?".

I want it with DVI, not just because someday I might find dual monitor useful, but supposedly for higher resolutions it's just the thing. And I won't have to boot from the TV any more. I've figured that 15 is getting too small for my britches, so 17's the way to go. I'm eying this Viewsonic one, that coincidentally has a Tom's Hardware article on it. It also appears to be the cheapest 17 with DVI available at Sim Lim that's not CMV.

The only thing in the article that worries me is the luminecense issue, which is so annoying with my current monitor. Latency doesn't appear to bother me, it's just I need to be able to show black properly so games don't suck.

Flame me. Flame me please.

Mac-Loving Fanboy Freaks

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I just felt like using that title. Move along, nothing to see here.

PCAnywhere

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Again, Nice Warez if you can get it. I'm not only using it to control my US comp, but I'm now using it as an extra remote control from my bed to my Shuttle. Now I can seek in WMP. Having my comp next to my bed also means I can now bog from my bedside, even as I smurf the interweb. Yay me.

Brain

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It's all kinds of naughty that I'm suddenly drawn to taking a look at Greymatter. It's just that open source blogging software would be that much more likely to be standards compliant yes/no?

Louis has finally figured out how to pin important entries to the beginning of his bog!!! The required plugin can be found here. Louis is also such a hack at doing these things. But yes, there will now be about 2 pinned posts at the beginning of this page, everything below that is as per normal. Just be glad I didn't refer to them as "sticky".

It is a bit crazy that this requires you to hack around in the templates, but it's done, so I'm not complaining. For those looking at this as trackback, using this is pretty simple - try adding the sample code from the original "MTEntry" post to your Main Index Template - just below the line div class="content". Once you rebuild you'll see how it turns out.

If you want your posts to look like they normally would, just copy and paste everything between the MTEntries tags within MTEntry - it's that simple. If you want more than one post on top, just duplicate. That is my super-inelegant way of doing it. Comment if you need help.

Cascade

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I'm wondering to myself whether it'd really be better with someone actually teaching me XML, CSS, XHTML etc., or whether I should just go through what W3Schools can give me first. It'd be nice if Movable Type actually managed to be properly validated. But if the courses were anything like the York courses, I'd stab myself - well, a bit anyway.

The question is whether I can be bothered - but really, how long can I put off wanting to do things? Though I don't know how much playing bass is a part of all this. I suppose I'd like to go to a boot camp where I could be made to run every day, play bass and learn proper CSS. I think the problem with the bass is that they're going to want me to learn how to read.

Firestarter

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I've actually wondered to myself - and quite rightly I must say - that I played at least some part in Opera being so conscientious, in their releases over the past year or so, to release their browser on as many platforms as possible at/around the same time - especially with preview or testing versions. Sure they've been working with a common codebase, but at least someone must have had a mild attack of panic that a news site (even if it is the Inq) would cover a spat attributed to the disenfranchisement of non-windows users.

Actually, I am proud of myself.

Surrender

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Yeah, I'm now putting that much more consideration into getting a 17 inch LCD. 15 now really seems a bit constrictive - and judging by how I liked 1280 on my CRT, it should be a day at the races. I'm sure someone'll want to get a slightly used and recently repaired LCD for cheap.

Not-Singapore

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This is really a bit weird - ever since I've been back, there have been times when there have been bandwidth issues with my p2p apps over Starhub. Download speed doesn't seem to be terribly affected, but upload speed becomes dismal. It's 1 am now, it's probably been going on since midnight. I did a bandwidth test, and bandwidth between here and the dslreports.com test sites is dismal. However the Singapore based Singnet test shows downstream is fine. I suppose I could call tech support, but I'd have to stab myself. Previously I had seen this happening just with eMule, Azureus doing okay - but it would go away. I had also previously recycling power to the modem, and that used to help. But this time, nothing. My IP address never seems to change, so that wouldn't have, historically, been an issue. I can only assume that starhub's infrastructure is still undergoing some work? Especially between Singapore and not-singapore?

And yes, I've confirmed that it is X-Lite starting up with Phoneconnector that's been causing problems. I now startup without X-Lite and manually turn it on. No problems. But they're still so going to fix it.

Just for the fun of it I'm going to point you to where you can find out more about starting a business in Singapore, business.gov.sg.

I'm still waiting on replies to my trackback queries. I suppose I should check in at the Serence forums again.

In a moment of weakness I've now decided to enable comments by default - but I'll probably also turn on the need to approve anonymous comments, so get ready with your typekey accounts. It'd be a chore if I had to keep approving new posts.

Ok: So it appears that it just goes away on it's own - they must have fixed the router or whatever. No need to restart next time then.

Ah hah!

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subtitles: RSS and Economist

So you have to use the bookmarklets in order for trackback to work.

Unfortunately the page is formatted specifically so as to annoy Opera users.

But otherwise: Move Along, Nothing to See Here.

Uh: I just pinged the MT site having posted their url. I'm confused. But at least I know that my auto ping thing is working. Sort of.

Agatha Christie Freaks Unite

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Someone I know might be interested in this: Miss Marple.

The best way to keep track of what's new on the site is to monitor its RSS Feed: http://www.the-realworld.de/TRW.rss

I refer you to my previous post on RSS and Klipfolio.

Naughty Starhub

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But yes, my bandwidth is so definitely affected by other users/usage. Either that or eMule has some issues with something. But it can't be coincidence that Saturday morning things slow down. And really generally during the day. Which is annoying because I feel I have to adjust the up speed accordingly so I don't choke the pipe.

I'm sure I've considered this before, but I suppose I could do a review section for the food places round here.

And again it pops into my head to update the IP filters in eMule.

Eric Rice used to be the guy (I suppose he nominally still is) behind most of buffyradio, later slackstreet/showtalkers. He's got a new thing going for a while now called AudioBlog, which is just what it sounds like. Hence the correlation with podcasting. He's supposed to be doing a podcast radio show with Josh AKA Suge White ++ eventually, but knowing these guys' penchant for promising things...

Which brings me to FeedBurner, which is an RSS service that provides stats, etc. It also makes the feed itself look more presentable in browsers amongst other things. My FeedBurner feed is here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Subtitles. I'll probably play around with it for a bit before using it as my klip url - if only for the stats I suppose. Doesn't seem to fix the paragraph break problem, but hopefully the Serence people can help with that.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm that wild about giving Feedburner that much publicity, it really isn't offering *that* much. And the image links it provides are just downright ornery, they don't align properly, and they're pretty ugly. I'm really not sure adding them to my klip would really add value. I'm definitely not going to put advertising in the feed.

Zone

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I've probably become too stuck in my ways, and have decided that eventually I need to look into other P2P networks. Gnutella 2 is supposed to be good, supposedly Shareaza is spyware free. DC++ is also quite lauded. Ares got mentioned but has spyware, from what I'm told.

Still need to get around to updating the forum. Or not.

Whatever it is I do seem to be endlessly chatty of late, who knows how long that'll last. Probably till another equilibrium break occurs.

Firefox CSS ad-blocking

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I've been talking about this to people, so here it is. It really is very idiot proof, just follow the instructions.

It blocks most ads, though probably not with the finality that Proxomitron does - but Proxo is anything but idiot proof. The downside is that you have to use Firefox. Well, the day will come when Opera will support those CSS extensions (or whatever). Maybe IE7 will help push for that - though ad-blocking in IE7 might never happen - besides I don't think style sheets would be a priority for IE anyway.

And yes, I think Eugene might be interested in Camino, a Gecko based Mac browser that is native and thus a bit prettier. It'll be on Mozilla.org.

Gumpy

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Having gone through all that, I feel at sort of a loss what do write about. I'm very tempted to go ahead and play around with installing the newer version of PHPBB, but I'm just not that anxious to do it. It'd be a drag if I had to fiddle too much with it. I suppose I could turn comments on, but that's not going to happen. I think for me I'd be pretty happy knowing, as I know now, that most people either don't read this, or don't really care. And honestly, people with anything interesting to say can just message me rather than cluttering this place up. And well, there's the spam which I'm avoiding, which is always nice.

Oh, I finally got rid of the festering sore that was the phpnuke bits on the Opera site, honestly I quite like that my hosting provider is self-interested enough to know what's causing them problems, and that they can tell me about it.

I suppose I could do a category to would be a kind of Opera news blog, but I'm sure that's done. I could also give a go to using blogger for the purpose I suppose. Off to the fan site listing I go.

Or I could just go to Opera Watch, which seems to do quite a good job at what it names itself. Pretty partisan by its tone, but we'll see. Posting using Firfox, or really, using Firefox just to post, isn't too awful. Hopefully Opera puts in document.selection by the end of the Opera 8 development cycle.

Buoy

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I've been spending the past couple of hours playing around with Movable Type 3. Long story short you can have a look at it here. The annoying thing is that I'll probably not move over because the month archives don't come out right - also I still don't have formatting tools in Opera (*Firefox* does though) which is embarassing since even Blogger has got them now for Opera.

And honestly, I don't see that much of a difference, other than the new styles, which I have to hack rather relentlessly for them to be worth a damn, and which are otherwise quite limited. Thankfully security isn't an issue since I don't bother with comments.

After that I had the pleasure of finding out more about how X-Lite and Phoneconnector don't kiss nice. I'm sure Phoneconnector's tech support are going to get right on it. There's a workaround, but it's annoying and repetitive.

Mininova.org

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Because of my recent penchant for posting banners etc. here's one for you:

mininova: the ultimate BitTorrent source

Unfortunately, if you use Proxomitron like I do, you'll see a blank space.

I weighed whether to make my Opera buttons (which now also occur at the bottom of every page) point to a page other than the "buy opera so they pay me licensing page", but then I figured that the banner in and of itself is advertising already, so the link isn't that big a deal.

Way

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I wondered to myself for just a moment before being safe and registering with Do Not Call regardless. There's actually a rather happy way to find out my phone no. without asking. Just hover. But yes, Louis did a little broadside html hacking to put advert links more prominently. I suppose I should move the Klip link higher, but I figure it's fitting where it is, and people who don't read beyond the first entry aren't likely to be bothered anyway.

Sygate Begone.

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Ok, so I'm not saying that Sygate is Evil, I'm just saying that it can fuck more things up than it really fixes. As usual any security issues I thought I had was just so much paranoia. At some point I think I'll uninstall ETrust, but it's supposed to be harmless. The MS Spyware detector is okay, so whatever. I've just left Sygate off, so I can be paranoid in the future. And yes, it was Skype that opened up port 443, god knows why it chooses that.

The real problem with Sygate on was that CPU usage spikes. But more importantly it fucked up the latency for VOIP, so Skype was fucking up (it's not so great anyway) and then it led to BroadVoice fucking up. Lots of fucking up for paranoia. The XP firewall is admirably admirable.

I'm getting too happy with drama for headlines. Thought the next logical step is outre Inquirer-land. Smurfing... hilarious.

Broadvoice

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I've signed up, so I now have a US telephone no. which you can have if you ask. Haven't had much time to fiddle with it, but it works, so yay. You can use this link if you want to sign up yourself. There's a referral program, but the buttons they have available are really annoying so I'll probably put a text link somewhere when I can be bothered. Apparently that link only works with Firefox and IE. I've complained to Broadvoice about it, as well as about their inadequate browser sniffing.

Die Mac Mini, Die.

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Since I'm doing this for Eugene right now, I offer this to all comers. A cheap, small, reasonably fast computer. The idea is to offer something that will keep people from the delusion that is the Mac Mini.

AOpen SFF system: $365
Sempron 2600+: $149
2x256 DDR 400: $140
250 gig hard drive: $260
BenQ DW1620 DVD-Writer: $130

This is a pretty good recent generation processor (like the G4), but with double the RAM, 6x the storage, and DVD writing. Software, of course, is free. All for about $895. A mac mini costs $928. If you added the ram, added a much slower Superdrive, and got a mere 80 gig, it would cost $1348.

In both cases you'll still have to supply a keyboard, monitor and mouse.

The AOpen is one of the prettier SFF systems - but best of all it has built in graphics, GeForce 4 MX, granted (which is less powerful that the mac mini), but that just means you can tack on more later. And it's so cheap I could spit. IGP means that you can't clock more than 333mhz, and unfortunately that's what the Sempr0n is at already, so if you want to overclock, you'll have to get a discrete graphics card. If you want to get similar performance to a Mac Mini, you can try this:

GeForce 5500 128ram DVI/Tv-out $105 (This can go much higher, depending what you want)

But remember, the IGP already comes with dual monitor and S-Video. You could even go for more RAM instead of better graphics, if gaming isn't the biggest issue.

Caveats include the fact that you can't add extra internal hard drives, but that's the same with the mac. No DVI with the IGP.

Louis takes no commission. This is a public service. I'd probably charge if you were a friend of a friend though.

MSN Messenger Beta

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I hate nothing more than people who use their "usernames" on MSN to put anything other than their name. Thankfully, the new beta shows that Microsoft feels my pain. You can actually broadcast a headline along with your username, as a kind of subtitle. Hopefully, i won't need to keep having to view contacts by e-mail address. You also get more integration of the avatar into the contact list, so you see thumbnails which can be small or large. I enlarged my contact list just to take advantage of this - it's a nice touch.

These are links to places that will give you everything you need, the installers, and patches to get rid of all the crap. This is a leaked beta, and you should know what you're doing if you want to install it. www.mess.be www.mastaline.com

MPAA FUD-spreading liars: who knew?

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Inadvertent

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I just realised there's probably a reason that the MPAA put its prints all over lokitorrent.com and torrentstop.com (the subsidiary), but you just get a plain old 404 on mufftorrent.com.

Slashdot: Opera Fastest Browser

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Gasp. Where have all the Firefox Fanboys gone? To bite my shiny metal ass.

RSS and Economist

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Just to inform people who don't already know, RSS stands for, amongst other things Really Simple Syndication. It basically allows you to read newsfeeds, to view headlines and some extra text, normally with a link to the full story etc. That's not it's only use, it does many things, including notification of new torrents/blog posts etc.

The RSS feed for my blog is this: http://blog.fallingbeam.org/blog/index.rdf

Though you could have found that at the bottom right of the main blog page, under syndication.

A convenient way to read RSS feeds is to use Opera, which uses its mail client to read feeds. 8 Beta even notifies you in the address bar when a page has a feed. Personally I prefer Klipfolio, made by Serence. I even have my own customised Klip (also linked on blog and site front pages). You can add any feed url you want to Klipfolio by making copies of Feed Viewer. Klipfolio has tonnes of preset and ready made klips for things from weather, stocks, news, to Hotmail/Gmail inbox feeds etc.

TVtorrents, at www.tvtorrents.ws or www.tvtorrents.tv (currently, they keep moving), has its own custom app to auto download and launch torrents, TVTAD. If you need another reason I use it instead of btefnet (if both have it) is that tvtorrents tends to only release torrents that are very well seeded as a opposed to just releasing them fast.

The Economist has added it's own RSS feeds just recently. I wonder if the ad-viewing free full access is still in effect.

Suspicious minds think that CNY has proved that cable speed/latency is dependent on the number of users, because there's been quite a bit of crawling from people being home, which alleviates in the wee.

Louis got pwn3d

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It was probably the naughty beta (the one that was withdrawn) of MSN messenger 7.





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This page is a archive of entries in the Computer Stuff category from February 2005.

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