Computer Stuff: June 2005 Archives

My Intellimouse's scrollwheel was acting up, so I decided to take it apart. The article was very helpful, mostly by pointing out that the screws you need to take the fucker apart are underneath the back feet - mine didn't have front screws. The rest are instructions on how to fix the cabling issues you might get, which I don't because I have fasteners on my very lovely mouse-pads. I might have to get more of this stuff before I go over. But yes, easy as pie, once you know how. I feel it gives me mastery over my mouse now. But contrary to my earlier beliefs, no extra weight - though I'll have a look at the others to make sure.

On The Fidelity of Status

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Boo Hoo, Poor Me, I have too many friends. 2 things for you, "Busy" and "Ban User?".

I know that some people are particularly conscientious, putting themselves as "On The Phone" or something when that's the case. Annoying people, however, do one of two things. They set themselves as perpetually "Away", or as perpetually "Online". The particularly annoying ones set themselves to sign in as Invisible. Anyway the Away thing is very evident in MSN, since you've applied the patch, and can differentiate between when a use is Idle, or setting him/herself as Away. But regardless the effect is much the same, to discourage people from sending you messages.

Telling people to fuck off has always been effective enough for me, you should try it.

I always feel like an idiot messaging people when I'm not sure whether they're in front of their computers or not, and it's pissing me off. Sure people can pounce on you - Deal with it. And then set yourself to "Fuck off and stop pouncing".

Gave your work colleagues your personal IM account and regretted it? Get another one. Or use another protocol, like ICQ or something.

Microsoft Update is supposed to be the new be all and end all place to update your MS software - superceding Windows Update. You can access it, I think, by going to, or you can convert your windowsupdate link in the IE toolbar (tools, windows update) by using the IE link, and then following the instructions on the right hand side boxes about Microsoft Update - it'll install a MS Update in your start menu and convert the link in IE. Basically it saves you going to both Office and Windows update. (yeah, doesn't do anything special quite yet, you have look at the "news" section on the right hand side of the Windows Update page, and move your computer to MS Update manually)

Updating Windows is not optional. If in doubt, make sure you have a clean bill of health from XP's (SP2) Security Center, under Control Panel. If you need free antivirus, at least for 12 months at a time, try the one that has the least drain on system resources, from Computer Associates.

@Max Tray Player is a wonderfully small and easily tucked away in the system tray (screenies on the site), so that I don't have to use WMP to play music. Very spanky and worth a look - esp if you don't want to lose your place in your video file just to play some music. And the interface is so tiny and tucky.

In case you're curious, the updated keygen for XP SP2, that generates the valid product keys, manages to bypass all of this nonsense of people having problems validating, and genuine advantage blah blah. How I would know that, I couldn't tell you.

One of the first things my first Platoon Sergeant very forthrightly said to us was this - if your problem is too small, ie: something you can ask someone else or you can solve yourself, don't bother me with it; if your problem is too big such that there's nothing I'd be able to do about, don't bother me with it.

This is how it's going to work from now on. If you want help, e-mail requests only. Give me a succinct diagnosis of the problem - not what you assume the problem is, but rather the specific symptoms. Tell me how you've searched for a solution but haven't found one, and perhaps why that is. Tell me what you've done to troubleshoot (restart, uninstall/reinstall etc.), to isolate the problem, basically everything you've tried and what you know the problem isn't. By the time you've done that, most likely you've either solved the problem, or it's not something I can do anything about.

If there is something I can do about it, you can call my home number and I'll walk you through it. I will no longer do troubleshooting over IM - my hands can't take it. You have to understand that that amount and frequency of typing causes me quite a bit of physical pain. If it's an emergency (though really, I'd like to see what you might consider an emergency) you can message me, ask if you can call, and just call. I suppose in the end if you just need help, phone is at least preferable to IM.

Asking me abrupt questions over IM (or really, in person) about computers, software, file-sharing, error messages, problems, complaints, "why doesn't it download faster", "why is there no sound or video", will get you what is referred to as "a right bollocking", ie: I will, without exception, tell you to go fuck yourself. Then I will direct you to this post. Hi.

Also, if you want from me any good will at all, when we are around "people", you are to protect me from annoying people and their endless little queries that could so much easier be addressed by using a search engine, or wikipedia. The only reason why their silly little minds haven't worked it out is they don't really care and don't really want to know, and are just idly interested without the will to do anything other than bitch and moan. It takes a good deal of effort to make these things understandable, and if you're not going to do anything with it, I'd rather you asked the wind if you could piss into it.

Learn it. Know it. Live it - No Shirt, No Shoes, No Dice.

I think I've been excessively rude to a bunch of people, though most of whom I don't know or don't really give a flying fuck about. Most - not all. That, however, is somewhat beside the point.

It's one thing to send an e-mail to a huge number of recipients - that's fine if it's something important (though importance is often pretty relative). It's another thing to do so without using one of the most flouted "rules" of e-mail etiquette - not putting those multitude of recipients (by omission, not by design) as BCC rather than To, or CC. Wikipedia is nice and helpful as to the exact what and why.

But to me the main reason is privacy. I give my personal address only to people who I give a crap about, as opposed to my public address which I plug into anything and everything up to and including $2 hookers. My personal address is not to be circulated around to people who (refer above) I really don't give a crap about. Also it's an invitation to receive spam and a big target board for e-mail worms - especially when you use e-mail clients that add all your recipients automatically to your address book (yes, you, the idiot who uses Outlook Express' default settings). Fun, huh?

When it comes to this, I have very little patience. Despite the fact that the perpetrator might not be someone I generally want to be rude to, I do what I do on principle. There's very little that's personal about it - I've done it to plenty of people - including people that it's not generally good sense to be rude to.

That said, there is a special place in hell reserved for people who see a long, non-BCCed recipients list and decide that the best thing they can do is "Reply All". Those people should take their knuckle-dragging incompetence and go swivel. These people should be cleansed in righteous fire and sent to the ovens. Fuckwit motherfuckers all.

But yes, there are actually times when you don't BCC, when *everyone* on that list consists only of close friends, or when you need a group to collaborate on something and actually want those addresses circulated. Otherwise, you can bite my shiny metal ass.

I have to admit, I scammed the makers of The DiscHub. I'd previously bought 2 of them, and I had really loved them, and when I saw them advertising on their front page for bogglers to review it in exchange for a "free sample", I thought, hey, why not.

I first heard about it via Tom's Hardware, which must have a been a coup for the dischub people. The fact that the article convinced me, and that I subsequently paid money for 2, and still want another one (admittedly for free) - pretty much tells you all I really need to say about my (surely much celebrated) endorsement of their product.

09062005.jpgMy particular caveat however, is this - it does what is says on the tin, but it's not the be-all and end-all storage solution; not that it advertises itself as such. Whoops, sorry, it does - "Say Goodbye to Stacking". As I've illustrated in what is as little a posed shot as possible, the dischub is good at what it does, but it hardly eradicates the problem for serial eye-patch junkies like me (a drop in the ocean, more like). At the same time, it also isn't the most efficient way of utilising surface area, which can so often be at a premium.

09062005(001).jpgAll that said, the Dischub excels at making certain discs readily accessible. If you use a particular disc very often, it can be placed strategically, and the jagged layout of the dischub means you can see what you're reaching for without flipping through an album or sorting through a stack. Unfortunately taking a disc out of the hub, while easy enough, requires two hands - one to get the disc, and one to hold the hub in place, since it's pretty light - something that their new rubberised feet won't really help (though presumably they must sell to a lot of igloo dwellers). Not a problem perhaps, but something to take note of, especially people who are used to spindles that just sit there while you yank.

Personally I don't make it a habit of keeping discs that need to be reused - that's what no-cd cracks are for. I tend to use it to hold things I want to keep in front of my attention, like movies I want to watch, or things I need to complete. I also keep one next to my home entertainment system in the living room to hold stray discs while sorting through things to watch - again an instance where the easy reading of the disc labels comes in handy.

What I'd like to do now though, is mercilessly mock the dischub people for their rather silly and not a little opportunistic marketing of their product. Their shop, at the moment, stocks 4 variations - See Through, Satin Blue (both of which are the prettier ones), as well as (wait for it) Vader (Black - duh), and Storm Trooper (White - get it?). Charming, but also not a little moronic. Also, I received as my "review copy", a not so charming "Vader" when I asked for a much more handsome "See Through" - something that doesn't bode well for their warehousing and shipping operations. Though previously when I'd paid for it, they'd given me what I'd paid for.

Yeah, one of the other issues I remember annoying me when I last bought one was that their web store only takes Paypal, which is fine for those of us who've signed up, but would be pretty annoying for people who haven't - and presumably those are the masses of Mensch that you'd want to sell such a consumer-oriented device to. Credit card numbers are just easy. And I know the signs say "Hacker Safe", but the word "Hacker" in any context is going to raise more questions than a poky little image is likely to answer. Of course it's perfectly safe, but I just think some things cause more anxiety than they alleviate.

But I've saved what I like most about the dischub for last. Because I can tend to procrastinate as much as I do, I tend to leave things unattended for longer than they should, and most of the time that means layers of dust. The dischub holds the discs upright, so that there's nowhere for the dust to settle - so your neglected discs (at least those in the hub) aren't gonna get dusty. More of a problem for me than you'd think (or not, depending if you know me).

Oh, and like they say, the neoprene things that hold the discs won't scratch them - though scratch worriers are just (mostly) paranoid anyway.

So if you want one, get it - it's pretty (well, some of them anyway) and surprisingly well made (though for 12 bucks US, it should be). And if you boggle, try before you buy more.

By the way, all images were taken with my spanky Nokia 6630 - which I'll post about when someone comes over with a digital camera that will do it justice.

Edit: Jon, who's the guy running this LSD-induced lava lamp of a boggling program, sent me a number of clarifications, all of which are fair, and as far as I know, perfectly true,

1. If you roll the disc out of the slot you can do it one handed! It pivots around the edge of slot and come right out (I've tested it, true enough - it'd probably require practise to get it to be effortless though - they're considering applying to the Olympic committee in 2045)

2. Sorry for the mistake on the black vs the clear, I send review samples out myself, and must have put the wrong one in - our fulfillment for orders on the otherhand is ace.

3. PayPal stopped requiring users to register in order to process a payment over a year ago. Had that not been the case we never would have used them - but in the next week or two we will be swithching to an in house payment processor.

So there, DiscHub is perfect and and I and my opinions can be bought for the low low price of US$12. I will cede editorial control to you if you ask nicely. But really at this point, I'm just too tired to care, and abdicate all responsibility.

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

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