Computer Stuff: March 2005 Archives

I've been yoyo-ing about what search to leave as default and I'm still pretty flux-y about it. I was doing my best to use Opera Search, which you can get to via search.opera.com or the more expansive portal.opera.com. It's good - according to Haavard they use Overture, but it lacks features like image search, languages etc. But it also lacks ads. Unfortunately the main issues are that it's not customisable in that I can't get it to show more hits per page, though I'm sure it could be handled easily with a tweak to the url and it doesn't group hits by site; more importantly though, it's width limited, which annoys me.

Many pages limit how wide the content can be so that it will a) display the same to various monitor resolutions - ie the designers were just lazy b) they want to squeeze more ads in to less content - which I have not too much problem with, except it leads to squeezed content strips which are annoying. I suspect that in certain ways column paragraphs are less intimidating, though it might lead to the wish to format shorter paragraphs otherwise.

But getting back to the searches, MSN I like because the layout is pretty, and so is the butterfly icon. The annoying thing is that the paid searches aren't filtered out by Proxo. Yahoo I'm getting very fond of because it has tended to find the things I want to find - it's also doing a good job of indexing my site, especially my broadvoice sucks post (as is Opera, but not quite as well). The customised Google search is cut down and a bit annoying - I'll eventually upload a fixed custom search.ini. I think I'm sticking with MSN for a bit, but Yahoo is again climbing the charts, despite being a bit plain. But yes Google also tends to limit widths.

I make it a point to format this site to fit variable widths - and testing is easy, just zoom with Opera and you can see how it'll look. granted I have menus on the right with the main page, but that's mainly for navigation - if you read via the RSS feed, you'd never really need to see it, and you get full width pages - the MSN notification thing I still find pretty fun, more so if not for the frames. Not to say I'm able to fund the site on ads (yet), but prospects look promising, despite me not going crazy with them.

I'm considering moving back to the cheaper broadvoice plan. If only to spite them.

I'm pretty damn sure that installing graphics drivers is going to piss me off. To be fair, I saw behaviour with Nvidia drivers that I wasn't too wild about, but I can't imagine how things could ever be quite as bad as with ATI - and the process is annoyingly painful. Makes me wonder if a clean install would even fix it. I think there are good reasons why I've become lazy about clean installing, not least of which is that it's a pain. I'm ever so slightly disappointed that no one's tried skypeing me via my link, I've even hooked up my telemarketing gear.

And so I'm getting ever closer to removing most of the ads from my site - the search boxes are annoying me now, and to be honest, their search is pitiful - unless it's just that indexing the site too difficult - the built in search is much better. The ring tones will be gone - I'll just stick to the adsense ads, maybe even cut out the economist link, or at least the image link, along with the other bits from CJ. The buttons I'm also getting annoyed with. Basically I'm just concerned at how long the page load for the main page is.

And so it's done. The old site I can't be bothered. I'm thinking of getting rid of the forum and auditioning WordPress, to see if I can make it not be ugly. I'm also reminded now that my junk fastmail address is starting to piss me off, so I might move to another one and abandon that one. Anyway it shouldn't really matter to anyone other than me, since I tend to send mail and give the address that is personal, and the e-mail link on the site will always be active.

The 3-Headed Monster's Back

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I don't know why, but it's important that you know that I've moved back to using the classic theme for XP, ie the Win2k theme. It's just cleaner, and if Win2k had a slightly expanded feature-set, I'd seriously think about moving backwards. Opera is back using Oxid, since the toolbars are so much more convincingly compact. The panel button will eventually annoy me enough. The black skin has great icons, if only it wasn't black.

I wonder if I could keep a promise to myself not to build a new comp till Longhorn comes out. It would mean that by then dual core would have become more commonplace, and the various platforms would have stabilised. And also it'd always be nice to be able to make use of all the UI features that they ask you to have a higher end graphics card for. I'm so going for Athlon 64 though, because I doubt Pentium M is going to make it to the desktop so convincingly in that time frame.

Makes me think I should go for a cpu upgrade on my shuttle - wait till the 3.2 gig P4s for my socket become dirt cheap. Oh, and the 3 headed monster is back - CMV still makes shitty panels - the backlight luminesence problem is still as pronounced. I can't put my finger on it, but my samsung looks cross hatched - it's probably just me being paranoid - and the zap was probably the dvi connector rather than the internal ones.

I've discovered how to make those lovely buttons that have been popping up all over the place, and I've spent 5 minutes making one for here. The generator is here. I think I like the second one better.

button.png

Speaking of generators, I can't remember if I've already mentioned that you can make e-mail buttons here - like so:

I've also been looking enviously at WordPress, especially since it specifically works towards valid XHTML and CSS - I'm probably too lazy to change over, but it looks cool. I'd have to figure out how to use MySQL properly someday though - and the idea of dynamic databases like that frightens me. Obviously I'd just like to be in a position where I could pay someone to do all the hard stuff for me.

It appears that all this time I've been misspelling the word - it's supposed to be weltanschauung, rather than weltenschauung. I wish someone would have told me, not that it would have made a lot of difference. But I could have sworn that that was how it was spelt in the narrative texts I read - misprinting or me being silly? Oh well, not much I can do about the e-mail addresses I have with it. I was considering putting up a button with my gmail address, as seems to be the rage, but it's just free advertising isn't it, for a service that I really don't use - and whose pop service seems to be flaking on me. Bugger, it turns out that I'm just the leader in following instructions - it's not my fault they don't provide screenies for the advanced screen and make sure you turn on SSL - bastards. But yes, the misspelled word above is my gmail address. But apparently the buttons aren't gmail produced, you can find the generator here. I suppose it's useful in that you can use the smtp for fastmail :). I still think IMAP is a more useful protocol, especially if you have as many accounts as I do.

The Frank Black version of Hang on the Your Ego is incredibly apt for him.

Pretty damn - would be the answer to that question. There's a long documented saga of how that silly company seems determined to use things that break in Opera, the beta forum is full of people complaining. And really, I need another e-mail account like I need herpes, or an Alanis Morrisette/Coldplay album. Honestly, if you want free IMAP, I recommend, as I always have, FastMail.fm - I've used them for years now, and not a single piece of spam that I didn't deserve. And their free accounts ask you to use long usernames, so all the better to frustrate dictionary spam. SMTP is an issue, but you can use your isp or any other smtp server. If it comes down to it, you could get a fallingbeam.org account if you wanted, just contact me - no strangers need apply, sorry. And please don't become a spammer, or I'll turn you into your father's sperm. I have about 90+ accounts on my domain with my hosting plan, so go crazy. Oh, and I'm not not mentioning names because they otherwise advertise on this site, I'm just tired of hear the tripping whine that is branding hell - and I think it's actually unlimited accounts if I'm not wrong.

Opera's Nobody's Bitch

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I get the feeling Opera's decided that they want to stop getting creamed, and have a much more effective PR strategy. It's just crazy the amount of headline news they've been getting in the past couple of days alone. Someone must being doing something right in their PR department. Whatever the case, I can only assume that this is the blitz before the big launch of the soon to be named not-Opera-8. And every big headline gives it more exposure, which for them would translate almost directly into downloads and sales. So no more being slapped around by ugly sister, it's moving day - graduation. So far no reals signs of "big thing badly".

How could you love me and leave me, it's only, your first time.

The simplest I can make it is this: look for 50 disc spindles that have a grey base and a flat edged top. That means getting spindles that look like this

5395404_ra.jpg

rather than this

5395388_sa.jpg

which has a sharp edged top and a black base. The brands that normally have the former are TDK and Maxell. TDK tends to have both (as evidenced above), so pick the right one. Maxell I've only really seen having the former. Beyond that, brand really doesn't matter. You should never be paying anything like $30 for 50 discs - the benchmarks should be that 50 shouldn't cost much more than $20. If you go to Sim Lim, you can get it for about $18 - $20. I recommend Z-Nix upstairs 6th floor, turn right as you get out of the lift. If you ask them for "Ritek" discs they'll tend to know what you're talking about.

End of Simple version. I might do more detailed versions if the need arises. That version would include the fact that Ritek manufactures the former, CMC Magnetics the latter. Also that these manufacturers make CDRs for many many brands - and brands don't always stick to a particular manufacturer. Manufacturers, however, stick to their own unique packaging - hence the diffentiation between spindles. Ritek happens to be the good (and compatible) of the cheap.

Tempting Fate

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I'd try to find and post the quote from Toby, but it's funnier when you watch it - Election Night, 4th season, directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. So I should be writing 2 speeches, one, yay computer, the other, I'm sorry for your loss. Apparently Eugene was asleep at home, so it wouldn't have been a good idea for me to have just gone over and tried calling him there. I'm bringing popiah, which is happily halal (there's a sticker on the wall), though there's one less than there was because I was hungry.

I'm currently reinstalling Neverwinter Nights, since I've discovered the new campaigns, I hope they don't suck. If only the DVD versions weren't all in Italian or spanish. The side glare of the panel is much better now that they changed the panel, and they'll get back to me about the colour issue. Not all that bad, them coming over, and prepared to do the swopsies on the spot - but still plenty of annoyance to get there. Tech repair people are so meek and unassuming, I wonder what that's about.

The Maxell discs I bought (well, eugene bought) are fantastic, especially with the Benq - exceptional in fact. I'm very tempted to replace the Lite-On, but then I wouldn't have pretty scans anymore. At least not on this box. I'm being stubborn about restarting but I really should, so my mouse gets turned back on and the monitors work properly again.

Troubleshooting Narrative

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Not surprisingly, I credit with a kind of wistful holding the half an hour I spent at the computer fair before the thronging, and the fire, and the jumping. I would walk and see them eating before, the dressing applying the final tart, primping and smiling and hiking, groups in huddles going through the ritual of preparation. And me, walking away with CD sleeves and - oh what was it again - a $500 Samsung monitor.

The Benq that Eugene got as quite a steal at $99, and I'm sure the Analog version of my monitor that they bought will do well. At some point I'll post the quote of what I'm getting for them, again to all comers. I don't really feel like telling the story so they mixed up and gave me the wrong monitor, I got a $1000 LCD TV instead of a monitor, but I gave it back because I couldn't stand the though of having to come back to get a monitor after all the drama and effort.

There's a whole troubleshooting narrative to accompany this, but what I choose to mention now is that the cloning of monitors appears to have made the old CMV look sultry. At the moment I'm still finding it endlessly useful, so all of the non-existent offers can now stop. Unless you're a vintage CMV collector.

I suppose I should breeze past the fact that it doesn't seem to be as compliant with Opera as it should be, and hence there are at least some things that can't be done if you use Opera, and talk about how underwhelming it is. The biggest thing you realise is that it's nice to have gotten rid of some of the crap there that just didn't interest you. Without the pictures it's just boring.

Every other news service has offered customisation - Yahoo, MSN, MyWay - and for the first two, you can even add my RSS feed as a headline box (see under syndication on the sidebar). So let the day of jubilee commence. Really all I do there is browse headlines, loose interest, and perhaps click on a couple of the Reuters links.

You can apparently also share your customised page with your friends, who can then choose to mock or worship. Step One. I'm going to get my Big and Tasty.

So again, my apartment smells like fabric softener, and I'm trolling about in my one pair of jeans that, honestly, are rather comfy - for jeans. Now if I could only stop waking up at 7 every morning. I forgot to put my towel in, and am wondering if I'm neurotic enough to change my sheets just so I can wash my towel. Of course you'd ask where my other towels are, to which my response would be - have you not *met* Louis? But if it ever happens, shower curtain, bedside table, new shoe rack, and uncontrollable weeping.

I just did the rather silly thing of checking how many episodes there would be in this season of 24. Wait for it. This also means that I can now test out my new firmware.

Apparently there's some computer fair thing on tomorrow at Suntec, and all are welcome to join me and Eugene - I must warn you though, that from my experience, these things are designed for one thing only - to clear old stock before new products are launched or price cuts announced. And I can build you one much cheaper and better - though I'm starting to think I really should charge.

Eugene seems to be wanting to help g/f to get new comp, and I'm just wondering whether it'd just be a better idea to go for a cheap socket 754 processor, and put some ass-indentations in Athlon 64. Though I'm wondering whether it's just not worth it if there's going to be no overclocking - the rated speeds are pretty low for the cheaper chips. And the whole SFF thing is making me wonder if it's a good idea. Well they can have a look at the crap being offered, then they can come crying back to clever Louis.

I suppose I've noticed for a while now, that Google's searches have been returning more and more irrelevant search pages and links. (by the way, I'm writing this on the back of a Burger King tray liner - damn this dagger pen is useful)

I mean obviously I can't offer more than anecdotal evidence, but it's noticeable and I'm sticking with that. The wonder then turns to why. Maybe it's the product of google indexing *everything*, that now their previous strength, breadth, is now coming to bite the thing that's handed to them. And especially with idiots like me entering as much text as I do - and not just in easily closeted off domains like blogspot or livejournal or typepad, I wouldn't wonder if they're starting to get a bit swamped.

The other problem is no doubt the fact that they are still the market leader in online search, or since I lack figures to back me up, they at least have the largest mind-share. That would mean that most sites would be trying their darndest to optimise/fineagle their way into an improved google ranking. Personally I just skew my site to cater to the traffic they were sending my way anyway.

For better or worse, the fact that *I* get as many referrals as I do do off of google searches can't be the best thing yes/no?

I can't wait for it: "we're the market leader, so of course we'd be the most open to exploitation etc. etc.". Let the Microsoft schadenfreude begin.

Now this isn't to say that google sucks at everything - Google News is still by far the better new search service (compared to Yahoo news at least) - and honestly until MSN gets the stick out of its ass and starts being more standards compliant, it knows where the sun doesn't shine.

But all in all, my personal endorsement (as I've stated before), goes to Yahoo search. The only reason why I don't put that as my default search in my customised search.ini is that google pays me. The searches have been more consistently relevant, especially in certain instances. That and I find the interface fresher.

MSN search is the worst, cluttered interface, ugly and annoying - espcially compared to Yahoo after proxo has done its work. In terms of search relevance I'd have to get over a couple of bumps before I even find that out. You have to admire Google for making it profitable to have their search boxes and branding all over the fuck-shop, though it might get hairy eventually. I have to mention that MSN only recently began crawling my site (I didn't submit it I suppose) so I might check in and see if that leads to a rise in their referrals.

In many ways, the various blog search engines are the ones most likely to send me traffic - there are a bunch.

Oh, and Opera, as of 8 beta 2, now supports multiple ed2k links on the page being passed directly to eMule. Happened at the same time the started fully supporting Movable Type.

Fate Telling Me

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For whatever reason it seems that the ads on my site keep disappearing in Opera - despite my having added my domain to the bypass list. It works find for a while, but when you refresh the page (any page) from then on the entire site stops showing the ads. The only way to turn it back on is to disable the proxy via Opera settings, refresh, and then enable it again. In IE it seems to work as it's supposed to. I might post on the MyOpera forums, since it does seem to be an Opera issue. Otherwise I can just take it as fate telling me that people who actually listen to me are not fated to view ads on my site.

So now I have to go to IE to see it with ads - I suppose I could have another installation of Opera and use Optool to move between.

Been listening to talk about Marqui - I want to agree, but some of it is *so* annoying.

It's really so easy. Shut Down ICQ. Go to the ICQ directory (usually C:\Program Files\ICQLite\) then go to the "LiteDataFiles" directory. You'll find a file called "banners.xml". Delete the file, and then create a new directory and name the directory "banners.xml". Restart ICQ.

As Michel commented, this is artful hacking 101, where you make sure the offending file can't be replaced - ie they can't copy over a new banners.xml so the ad spaces have nothing to serve.

Take note that doing this won't get rid of the space where the ad used to be on the contact list - that'd involve more hacking which I have no access to. But most important it gets rid of the banners/banner spaces on the message windows. I got this from the forums of a site called www.icq-4u.com - check it out. They tend to keep up on happenings in icq world, and the last time I got an advanced patch, it was from there. Not sure how it's doing, haven't been there in a while.

Huh, apparently, they've been busy, so look here for the amped up crack. It'll send you here. This crack is absolutely superb, it gets rid of everything - kudos. Manual hack was fun, but this is sweet. It not only gets rid of the banners and the banner boxes, it also gets rid of the silly google search box. Really really, it makes the interface *so* much less cluttered.

Oh, and if you have problems using your centre mouse button to double click contacts - turn off tooltips: they're what's causing the problem.

If you're looking for patches for MSN Messenger, you can refer to my post about general MSN freakness, including where to get Beta releases - they generally also post ad patches etc.

Louis has resolved to get his lovely new monitor, and perhaps a side table. But Louis, as always, is shy and retiring and needs to be squired about. Louis welcomes all takers. I'd link to my monitor post, but I can't be bothered. Make me an offer on my LCD - if the whole dual monitor thing doesn't pan out, you can have it for cheap. Perhaps we could go before that dinner on Saturday that no one seems to have replied about. I remember rumblings of a Sheng Siong outing. I was also promised a play-date to disabuse people that Six Feet Under is anything but tosh.

I must stop being obsessive about the display of ads on my site. It's driving me completely bitchcakes and bonkers.

I've uploaded a copy of my customised search.ini for all to use. It will give you more searches via the drop down search box, and you can add more searches to the address bar. Furthermore, if you enable your personal bar (right click on the address bar - customise), you can put a whole bunch of searches there.

In the interests of full disclosure, the search box of Google sends you to my customised Google search page, so that I recieve the advertising from the paid links in your searches - normally Opera would be the one recieving them (no longer true, but it now defaults to Yahoo Search). Similarly for Amazon.com and .co.uk searches. I personally don't use Google any more, since Yahoo seems to have more accurate results. Also, you won't be able to set the number of searches per page through the Opera preferences.

Instructions:

Just download this (Updated for Opera 8.01). UnRar to your Opera Profile Folder (*not* the root Opera folder that has opera.exe in it) the exact location of which is explained here, or you can also refer to this. This will ask you to overwrite the existing search.ini - say yes. If you have problems, the default search.ini can be copied over from the root Opera folder.

Start Opera.

Simple huh?

Suggestions/Shortcuts:

If you updated Opera to either 8.0 or 8.01, they might have overwritten your old customised search.ini - but it'll have been backed up to something like search.001 or something in your profile folder - if that happens just close Opera, delete the current (new) search.ini and rename the old one, editing the new search.ini to change the version number to the current version - currently 6, as of 8.01. Or just download the file again from above.

If you want to know how to enable the personal bar look here. If you want more screen real-estate as a result, you can turn off the menu bar by pressing ctrl-F11 (this might change in Opera 8). And so it has, you now have to customise your keyboard shortcuts in advanced settings - use the Unix shortcut of Alt-F11, if you ask I might bother to post a download you can put in your profile folder.

To add more searches to the personal bar, right click on it and hover over "show searches". To move the search boxes around, press and hold the "shift" key while dragging and dropping. That's also the easiest way to move search boxes to the address bar to complement the drop down box. The other way is to right click and customise - the searches are under "buttons" category "search".

Press shift-F8 to highlight the drop down search box, shift-F7 to go to the first personal bar search.

Your right click menu is also enhanced so now when you right click after highlighting a word or phrase, your "dictionary" will be dictionary.com and "encyclopedia" will be wikipedia. All the available searches are also available under "search with". The default "search" will send you to Google, or the last thing you "searched with".

If you want to find out the various keywords to search in the address bar with, go to Preferences (Alt-P) - "search". There are examples in the preference menu to explain further.

When pasting something from your clipboard into a search/address field, you don't have to press ctrl-v and then enter, just press ctrl-d.

List of Searches:

Google, Yahoo, IMDB, Dictionary.com (ad-blocker advised), Wikipedia, TVTome, Isohunt, Shareprovider, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Google News, Neoseeker, Urban dictionary.com, Chicago Reader Short Reviews, Allmusic.com for Artist/Song/Album, Pricegrabber, Pricewatch, Ebay, Cracks.am, Astalavista, Yahoo Bizfinder in Singapore. (there, have been changes, have a look at the trackbacks)

Further Reference:

All this was done with the Opera Search.ini Editor.

To move between different browsers, try Optool.

Also feel free to download the companion Customised default bookmarks, and Customised Toolbar Setup. Or all of these together as one file, together with the Opera Not So Compact skin, to unRar into the profile folder. These are also for me to customise peoples' setups when I install Opera for them. (This is too old now, you'll probably just want to get the search.ini provided above)

Note: if you want to keep up to date with this, you can comment, and then check the box to subscribe to changes to this post. I'll be tidying up the search.ini as I find the effort. It is now tidy - most hotclicked items are near the top etc.

I'm uploading a copy of Proxomitron for you to download - it's my own setup, based on JD's filters. But what that means for you is that it'll cut out ads - so aggressively your head will spin.

Just download, unRar, preferably into Program Files or something. Then run Proxomitron.exe when you want it to be on - remember to set up your proxy settings in your browser to point to "localhost", port 8080.

In Opera this means Alt-P, Network, Proxy Servers, under "http", add those values. It also works with FF and IE.

If you need more details, the help/installation files are included as a directory of html files. If you want proxo to startup with windows, just create a shortcut to it in your "startup" folder in your start menu.

I'm doing this, at least in part, because proxo can be difficult to set up properly and tweak till it's useful - this way you just unpack it and you're ready to go. The best thing about these filters is that the pages still end up looking nice and nicely formatted, and you'll start to realise how much ads can mess up site layouts. I had problems with a couple of sites, but I just added them to my blocklist and they work fine.

Again full disclosure prompts me to say that I've added my own domain to the blocklist, which means ads will show on my site. I put a lot of effort into making my ads fit the look and feel of the site, so I set it up so that I can monitor them when I browse myself. If you want to delete the entry, the file is in the directory called "Lists", "Bypass Lists.txt". The entry is [^/]++.fallingbeam.org/ - just delete it.

I'll probably make this post definitive. Hopefully it'll be part of my series on advanced Opera techniques. There are a bunch of files in the directory that don't actually need to be there, but I can't be bothered to figure out which those are, so there.





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

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