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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Advice needed about splitting or re-sizing a partition ... on: May 20, 2014, 10:43:33 AM

If you don't have the Windows install disc, joiwind, I'd suggest getting one. I'd also suggest using something like the Nirsoft utility to get the Windows key for (re)install, & storing it with the disc you'd burn from the Windows setup ISO. With older hardware the latest version of backup software rescue discs may not work. I'm a believer in making disk/partition image backups -- If you feel the same way, you might do a bit of testing to make sure you have a rescue disc that works with the laptop, or go through older versions of backup software to find one. I'm assuming you wouldn't want to take up disk space with a full backup app.

I'd think an external drive for some or most of your software would also come in very handy. You might have or want to buy a card to interface with the drive [I don't know what your laptop has]. External drive housings &/or docks can be found pretty cheap on-line -- for a drive to put in it, I've seen smaller remans pretty cheap as well.
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Simple audio recording utility wanted on: May 20, 2014, 10:14:51 AM
Recording audio is fairly simple -- the difference between the old Windows Sound Recorder & couple hundred dollar software isn't the part where audio's written to disk. SO just about any audio recording app will do -- I like wavosaur for it's plugin support etc., but there are loads of simpler, easier to use apps without any editing functions.

THE problem is that the drivers for audio hardware [motherboard audio chipset or card or USB device] frequently don't allow you to record speaker out -- what creative labs products label What You Hear. If/when that the case, Google. Sometimes there's another driver that will work, say from another manufacturer using the same components. Sometimes it just takes a simple registry edit.

If there's no cure apparent when you Google with your make/model system, some people hot wire the connections, running a jumper between speaker/headphone out to mic/line-in. You can also use a headphone splitter with volume control to try & tailor levels. There are also virtual sound card drivers -- most of the one's I've seen are bundled with audio apps, usually out of China, but those are just what I've seen, not necessarily a reflection of what's out there. There are also ASIO drivers, sometimes hardware specific, or if those are unavailable, ASIO4ALL -- however the software that will use ASIO is more limited.
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: ImgBurn - full of OpenCandy and other crap on: May 20, 2014, 09:59:15 AM
I use 7-Zip to expand the SetupImgBurn_2.5.8.0.exe [or whatever version number], then move the file, ImgBurn.exe, to the ImgBurn folder -- update completed. Universal Extractor, original & mod versions, works too.

4  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: XP to Windows 7 advice on: May 20, 2014, 09:46:05 AM
Purely FWIW...

RE: Thunderbird... I'm a big fan of Firefox, but fear for its longevity -- things aren't going extremely well in Mozilla land. IF that sort of thing bothers you it *might* tip your decision towards Microsoft's Live.

RE: Performance... I still have XP Pro on this rig, along with 7 & 8.1. Running the same software, 8.1 can be marginally faster, I assume because of better memory handling but could of course be wrong. XP Pro is every bit as fast as 7 as long as the task doesn't need the full 8GB of RAM.
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Continuing with XP on: May 20, 2014, 09:33:07 AM
Shades is right. You can fairly easily turn an existing copy of XP, including software, into a VM -- Paragon & Microsoft both have tools -- but to say it can be sluggish as a VM would be a gross understatement. Installing XP fresh is only a bit better. Running the modified version of XP that Microsoft uses for win7's XP mode helps a lot, but it's still way underpowered from the real thing. On that netbook I doubt it would even run well enough to consider it useable.

cranioscopical is also right -- move directly to 8.1. Why? Microsoft is trying to get 8.1 to run on just about anything more powerful than a calculator. You can for example run off a wim rather than have the full, expanded file setup -- that was developed just because of situation's like your wife's netbook with little storage. 8.1 also has better memory use/handling than win7, which you're going to need.

That said, perhaps the best solution would be none at all -- XP will still work without the monthly patches. Second to that, rumor has it that in the future Microsoft will have their own version of the Chromebook -- basically low powered hardware that runs software on a server.
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Raymond.cc compares 20 Drive Imaging Tools on: May 20, 2014, 09:13:12 AM
Regardless the tool(set) you choose to use, test it -- make sure restoration works on your hardware setup & you know how to use it. Sounds simple enough but I've read lots of complaints where folks lost everything because they couldn't fully restore a backup using the software they had been using for however long. Also test external drives if you use one to store your backups. If it won't work well outside Windows, e.g. using a boot disc, obviously that's a problem. If USB, doesn't hurt to check sustained data transfer either -- I've seen USB drives that seemed fine otherwise, but failed during backup restoration because of that sustained transfer. If you put the rescue disc ISO on a USB stick, test that on all your systems, &/or use CD/DVD -- mileage varies depending on USB stick & PC/laptop hardware.

Admittedly I just did a quick skim of the original article, but suspect the results are inaccurate in a couple or more cases... Why? Well Paragon for example includes disk integrity checks by default, as well as an option to protect your data in the event of power loss. Others such as Aomei do not. To get a valid speed comparison with Paragon the author needed to go into preferences & turn off those 2 features, but I didn't see any mention of that, though as I said I just skimmed the article & could have missed it.

Finally I have to question the whole concept of incremental backups with a disk/partition imaging app. Imaging works because you're moving raw data -- taking the time to look at that data as files/folders, & thus determine what needs to be backed up, increases the time it takes to backup, often by quite a lot. It also makes mounting backups [when possible] & restoration less efficient.
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Couldn't be more disappointed in Windows 8 :( on: September 25, 2011, 11:10:44 AM
Purely FWIW, the hype & release of the win8 dev prev. is a marketing push to try & avoid another hugely expensive game of Catch Up like MS is going through with Bing. They want into the cell & tablet market. It's not like it's going to cannibalize their Windows or Ofc sales, and with Microsoft's history of just abandoning projects & perceptions that they may not be the best company for devs to work with, they need a big marketing push.

Metro is a cell phone/tablet interface -- perhaps the main advantage of having it available on PCs/laptops is as part of that marketing push... publish in their store & you get access not just to cell & tablet owners, but every machine running win8. It *may* also help less PC literate folks use Windows, but there IMHO the jury's still out. It *may* help corp IT when/where they need/use touch screens like on the factory floor. It's not for everyday, normal PC use -- for that you have the normal Windows interface...

Long story short, fingers are fat, sometimes clumsy things that are best suited to holding & using tools. Ignoring biometrics for a moment, you don't sign your name or write notes dipping your fingertip in ink. Fingers/thumbs work on a cell/tablet because 1) you're not doing something terribly precise, & 2) carrying/using a stylus can be a PITA. And then there's this: desktop monitors are not normally placed in your face, but sit towards the back of your desk, so among other things you can see the entire screen at a glance. Would you rather stretch your arm out or keep it comfortably at your side? IMHO that's why touch just doesn't work on/for most desktop users. And if you don't use touch, you don't need huge buttons/icons. That said & to be fair, Metro might be useful for moving some of the stuff you do on-line to your desktop, if/when/where that makes sense -- you can write a Metro app using JavaScript for example.

SO what else does the win7 SE have to offer? Any tech improvements they can manage to get ready by the time it's RTM. Better support for VMs, a more capable Windows' Explorer, the capability to run on less powerful hardware, *Maybe* Windows to Go [my guess is that it might be restricted to corp, and bring with it heavier DRM], along with other assorted bells & whistles like being able to open ISOs. Nothing more than a guess, I *think* that MS might be focusing more on special cases or situations they can sell to IT dept.s that have already moved to win7 -- convincing them to move the complete enterprise might be too much of a hard sell [Gartner seems to think so anyway].

PCs started as a hobbyist device [toy?], slowly moved into business use, & today are a large part of many, many everyday lives. PCs have also [& always] been very much Jacks of all Trades -- that's where things are changing nowadays... if all you want to do is watch movies &/or browse the web you simply don't want or need all those other capabilities, & certainly don't want to pay for them [in money, effort, or inconvenience]. Specialized PCs as appliances aren't just here, now, but they're being bought far more often than desktops. Cell phones, tablets, cable boxes, DVRs, TVs, eBook readers, hand-held players, cars, anything that can benefit from more intelligence is either becoming a PC or contains one. The general use PC isn't dead or dying -- it is being outnumbered. And if you can have a piece of every one of those sales, that's HUGE -- it may turn out that no one company can manage that, but it won't stop Microsoft, Google, Apple etc. from trying.
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 10 Steps To Make A Sale on: September 25, 2011, 11:06:40 AM
FWIW... there are IMHO 2 kinds of sales: 1) to fill a want/need, & 2) because the buyer wants to do something for the seller... if you want to get into psychology you could argue that number 2 is just a subset of number 1, since feeling good about yourself is a psychological need, but I split it to get away from complicated gray areas like the person who buys because they expect some quid pro quo.

THE Most Important Rule is to avoid all negatives, & yes, that includes the salesperson. What type of person is negative? Obviously there are images that come to mind's eye about unkempt, rude smelling people, but beyond that no one has any real idea, because no one can know every like or dislike of every buyer. The best salespeople then tend to average in appearance, chameleon-like in demeanor, & excellent in projection -- whatever personality is called for, they project it. To do that effectively learn to profile or qualify everyone, always being prepared to alter your approach & personality as you read the prospective buyer. Remember, when buying to fulfill a need, the buyer would often rather not have to buy anything, and may well wind up not buying the best solution in favor of the least painful, least negative choice. Listening to a salesperson rattle off a long list of positives may be a BIG negative, whereas the one who says: "This much $ - problem gone" gets the sale, so again I stress learn to read people. If you can't, &/or if you can't control your tongue, Hire someone. Tech people tend to make the worse sales people in the world, because their mind is so full of tech details that they can't control their tongue!

On a side note, fulfilling a *Real* need makes for much harder sales. Apple's proof of how successful you can be creating a need that you alone can satisfy -- I haven't read of anyone trying to sell their virginity to pay for a Windows cell phone. And yes, you can sell to a real need based on a manufactured one -- focus on some more imaginary benefit, e.g. "Wouldn't you like to have all this time & freedom? Well buy from me & you'll have it because these other problems will go away". Better yet, if you're successful with or in that approach, at least a portion of their problems will go away &/or stay away, so every time they have another problem or concern you're the 1st person they'll call, begging you to do it again.

OK, so you want to make a sale, think you have at least the beginnings of this stuff nailed down, how do you do it -- what do you say? The best approach is a one-two combo -- know that you've made the sale before you started, & never give a prospective buyer a choice that includes the word: "No". Believing in yourself &/or your product is one thing, but unless you believe you've already made the sale, the buyer Will pick up on your doubt, & if you doubt it, shouldn't they? Saying No closes doors -- consider it irreversible. To get someone to change their mind you have to convince them that they're wrong -- not an easy thing by any means, & it's filled with negatives. Always create 2 or more choices, but never include a No [BTW I've even seen this spelled out in Dilbert, so your prospective customer probably doesn't expect you to give this option either]. At any rate, if you combine the two you never actually have to ask for the sale -- you *know* they'll buy -- so it's just a matter of now or later, and you do your best to incentivize the now.

If you don't get the sale, Don't try to make the same, exact sale again to the same people. Invent reasons to keep them aware of you. Learn about their biz & when you can propose another solution, propose it. Offer something else free or low cost that helps out with something else, even if it's just donuts for the crew. You'll most likely never know all the reasons you didn't make a sale -- the buyer's boss may have a guy, or the wife insists on giving the biz to her brother's friend, but things change, & perseverance is respected if not admired, as long as you don't become a PITA. You want to project that you're both a pro & a nice person that only wants to help them -- it was never about banking their cash, because while you're as hungry & aggressive as the next person, you're already successful at what you do. If you'd rather go after sympathy sales [just starting or down on your luck], or greed [I have to sell this so I'll take bottom dollar], that stuff can work too -- just don't plan on being respected & watch out for offers of repeat business where the buyer only intends to screw you as an easy mark.

If you can't do the basics above, seriously consider hiring the job out or taking classes. If you doubt it, read/research or even watch the adverts on TV with a critical eye, seeing just what it is they're selling & how -- most of the time it's not their actual product. If you think best products/service win, it's actually those whom are perceived as having best products/services wins biggest. If you don't do that stuff & your biz has customers now, that means competition with better sales hasn't gone after them yet -- maybe in the future they will, maybe they won't, or maybe they're not as valuable as the customers/clients you could have?
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What's your experience with 3rd party color inkjet ink replacement? on: May 19, 2011, 06:54:15 PM
In the cases I have seen there seems to be a convincingly odd correlation between the ink used and the head failures - some within warranty period (which I have never seen on Canon printers using genuine ink).

Unfortunately I have, Carol -- very last printer I ever bought for >$150... no more!

My current logic is to pay as little as possible for what I consider a disposable commodity.  If I want really, *Really* nice prints I'll order them online for less than the ink & paper will cost me.
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What's your experience with 3rd party color inkjet ink replacement? on: May 19, 2011, 06:31:42 PM
With apologies for barging in late in a thread that might not have a lot of remaining interest, & purely FWIW of course...

Over the last 15 years or so I've found that OEM ink cartridges, besides being vastly over-priced, tend to have something added [glycol?] to keep them & the heads from drying out as rapidly as non-OEM inks. Aftermarket inks may also come very close but not exactly match OEM colors -- something more noticeable with 6 color printers.

Generally refilling is better quality than buying so-called re-man cartridges -- re-man often being more to get around legal fine points than actually meaning reman or refurbished... cartridges with the head [e.g. some Canon] may be an exception, but as the Canon cartridges at least only recently appeared at significant savings over OEM, I haven't had a chance to try them. The reason I say refilling is better is non-OEM casings may leak, may not fit properly, & you have no control or way to judge the amount of ink they hold -- I have gotten some that probably were at best 1/2 full. Epson is a special case because of the electronic version of DRM added -- if you print enough to justify it there are aftermarket cartridges designed to be both resettable & refillable, but the initial investment can run as much as a new set of OEM ink at some place like Sams Club [often cheapest].

The main limitation of refilling is the old ink dried on the sponges inside, reducing capacity unless you clean them out. With cartridge/head combos like many Canon's you can also get clogged heads from sitting [empty or full] prior to (re)use, which can take a day or three to dissolve -- I usually run a couple of cleaning cycles, let it sit, print a test in notepad to reset, then run a couple more, with a 12 hour or overnight rest to soak... running the 3rd cleaning cycle without a real print job in between often triggers a Super cleaning cycle that wastes a lot of ink, makes a mess inside the printer etc.

Personally my problem is no one prints enough so heads clog, OEM ink or not, & family members have been un-willing to use a printer in another room over the network, so I've got 3 to deal with. My solution is to buy cheap refurb printers on sale -- I've bought 1 Epson & 6 Canon AIOs over the past 3 or 4 years, paying between $15 & $35 each, which in all cases was less than the new OEM cartridges that came with them -- I generally prefer the Canons using 2 cartridges that each include the heads in case one gets thoroughly clogged... permanent heads can both clog & do things like leak, which I have seen in the past from Canon. When a cartridge needs replaced I'll pull the top of the old one, soak everything to clean it, then put it back together, sticking it on the shelf until needed, when I'll refill it. Working that way I can use each cartridge 3 or 4 times usually.

I was able to buy the Epson cheap because it was a problem model [RX 595], & I originally intended to get rid of it when the cartridges emptied... instead I held onto it because it prints DVDs. It has a habit of rejecting/not recognizing cartridges (OEM or not), the aftermarket ones from meritline are the only ones I've had luck with, & frankly I would have been better off to buy an OEM set at Sams Club had I known how much I'd spend buying 2 sets that didn't work, &/or that the sets that do work from Meritline last just a bit over 1/3 as long as the originals.

Finally, again FWIW, folks that do a LOT of printing AFAIK usually add an ink tank setup, with tubes running from the much larger ink tanks to special cartridges.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Blog Find: How to unblock blocked startup items in Vista on: July 28, 2009, 04:07:38 PM
No offense, but seems like a long way around @ 1st glance... Haven't ever had something blocked like that,  but then never used UAC either 'till 7 made it endurable. 1st thought is why wouldn't app compatibility work easier/better? Does provide a different sort of solution though, that might come in handy sometime.
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: An easy software to make street/road maps? on: July 28, 2009, 03:59:21 PM
FWIW I've always had better luck using Microsoft Maps off the msn page. Fair # of options including printing, which I usually do to PDF & copy, but saving images & screen cap works too.
13  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Photo Scanner Software on: May 29, 2009, 05:48:02 PM
When looking for a scanner, if you're thinking about the <$100 range, & if you're not after a slide / negative adapter, you can find the best deals by buying an All-In-One refurb, model closeout, or clearance. I've picked up 6 of them now -- the cheapest <$20 & the most expensive ~$35, all shipped prices BTW. In fact every year after the 1st I go on the lookout... I think of it as buying new ink cartridges that come bundled with a printer.

Yes I know it'd be cheaper to refill, & I've got the ink, but if you don't print often enough the heads clog, & that's been a constant problem with the printers here, & sharing printers hasn't worked out too well either.  Angry
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Photo Scanner Software on: May 29, 2009, 05:35:57 PM
Especially if you have the negatives, this solution might save a lot of nerves:     embarassed


For lazy people.

If you want to pay for the software, there really is an awful lot that can be done (near) automatically, so this sort of service can offer great results for a fair price. If you have the right software & hardware all you need 90% + of the time is someone to load & unload the negatives / prints. That's the basis for all those photo kiosks in everything from the grocers to the pharmacy.  The downside is if you've got negatives, there is a huge leeway on what the result can look like & still be technically very good...

If you've got the time & inclination to play with the results after negative scanning, you might get something truly remarkable. The web site linked to provides the endorsement of a prize winning photog, & for his work it probably is the best way to go [though today I'd find it hard to imagine a pro going non-digital]. On the other side of the fence there are photographers that focus more on their art, often using more everyday subjects, instead of trying to capture those once in a lifetime moments. You're not going to get those sorts of results only trying to make the picture technically good.
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Photo Scanner Software on: May 29, 2009, 05:17:52 PM
Generally you're left to whatever drivers your scanner manufacturer develops -- the software provided, & it's level of expertise, is a selling point when you get into the upper mid-range. Better software might have something like GEM code built-in, while pricier scanners might have it in the electronics. Normally whatever GUI other software might provide, you're still using the scanner's drivers underneath it all.

That said, what you want to focus on is getting the truest picture, no matter how close or far it is from ideal. If you capture all the data, software can handle the rest after the fact. One problem area is grain, where you either buy a plugin or try one of the free graystoration alternatives -- or struggle with whatever your image editor provides.   Sad 

Spot / dust removal software is also useful & popular, and you might want or need some sort of color adjusting -- Corel for example has long had ICM profiling of your own scanner.

Scanning negatives vs. prints is a minefield of a topic, depending a LOT on the condition of what you've got to scan -- few people ever store negatives as they should. And the picture you'll get from negatives will often bear no resemblance to the print -- the automated process at the developers is actually quite involved, & now you have to mimic it manually. You'll also have to deal with more prominent grain issues. A print however might have discolored, and depending on the processing & paper, might not offer great resolution. I've had better luck with a dedicated slide scanner than an adapter for a flatbed, but those adapters are usable if you must... be careful though as the adapters themselves &/or negative holders are usually rather flimsy.

As always, if you want to buy hardware google 1st... There's some real junk out there, & not reading semi-pro or even pro reviews first could find you struggling to fix problem photos that are un-fixable & due to your hardware.
16  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What the hell is OpenCandy? on: May 29, 2009, 04:51:49 PM
Hi Dr. Apps,

I don't disagree with you or OC at all... really. But going from here I read a few Google hits and read what seems to be the same sort of upset user response. From a purely Marketing & Customer Service / Satisfaction standpoint, where a lot of my work was focused for a couple decades, there's a perception problem, & those won't just go away by presenting logic or even facts.  tongue 

Saying another product does worse, or has more dangerous potential [mouser / wraith808 etc], only heightens an already suspicious customer's suspicions, & goes over less well if there's any sense of competition -- it's then seen as a "grasping at straws" sort of desperate defense when you can't or won't fix the customer's problem. [It does however work apparently with potential customers when a clear A/B choice is presented (for example MS Shopper ads).]

That all said, myself I'm rather neutral... my sole attempt at being useful was to post another point of view -- that of some % of any coder's clientele or customers. While not Obsessive - Compulsive like Monk (at least I hope not), personally I like to keep additions to my hdds to a minimum, & be aware of every addition made. Media Coder, which was already on my "Questionable" list is gone -- it only offered an in-case alternative to other apps, the author stopped providing a zipped, no-install d/l, & now it results in a few extra folders & entries to get rid of, which tipped the scale. Media Info I use daily, & it stays, though I'll still remove any extra folders / reg entries, & take another look at uniextract-ing it. The same criteria applies & will apply to programs I pay / paid for... a simple cost benefit analysis that includes the unwanted stuff I have to either ignore or remove. I would like to say I'm average, but I think I'm to the moderate side of center -- I've seen several GOTD visitors make negative comments because the developer included an innocuous ad for their pay-for upgrade in the GUI!
17  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What the hell is OpenCandy? on: May 29, 2009, 03:49:00 PM
In other words -- I really think its misdirected energy to be complaining about the abstract concept of using a DLL in an installer -- there is just nothing to complain about regarding such a trivial everyday thing.  And I don't see why anyone should care if an installer makes an opt-in recommendation to a user about another program that the author wants to recommend.

FWIW there are folders & reg entries created without the user's awareness / permission, even if you ask politely as with the StarBurn example I mentioned. People don't watch because they don't feel that they should have to. I'm not saying that's right or wrong -- just that it is. If it bugs some % of customers & potential customers, it's still the developer's decision -- I think they should approach it with their eyes open. Users are after all more than occasionally fickle, & telling someone that logically they shouldn't be upset is kinda like throwing gasoline on an open flame.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What the hell is OpenCandy? on: May 29, 2009, 03:32:06 PM

You make a very good point about installer software & it's often abusive nature. It's a solid endorsement of uniextract, when it'll work, along with Regshot & maybe even installwatch pro when it won't. In my personal experience easily 90% of the registry entries made by most installation software is not needed, nor are the redundant, hdd stored install files they sometimes provide helpful or wanted. Just like OC, IMHO they should be avoided if at all possible, and usually circumvented when not. In fact, bypassing the install often tackles OC from what little I can tell scanning my drives & registry very quickly.
19  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What the hell is OpenCandy? on: May 29, 2009, 03:19:20 PM
OK -- here's the deal...

If you're familiar with the GOTD site (giveawayoftheday.com), today (5/29) they're offering a copy of StarBurn. StarBurn offers in an very upfront, opt-in/out way to add a toolbar etc -- check out the high % of negative comments & comment ratings, mainly because the add-on's even offered. Take that to mean whatever you want... myself, I think it's an expression of the indignation many users feel when they find developers even approaching anything beyond the normal expectations of their app. Personally I think a full statement & notice should be presented as the 1st step in the install, & NOT in the EULA.

I think any developers, marketers etc reading this should take note -- people do get upset. They should also note the loyalty & respect so many users give to whatever anti-spyware apps they favor, & they do go wild over that sort of software. I'm NOT saying Open Candy is spyware, but rather that people are rather paranoid & distrusting of this sort of thing.

That said, I feel it reasonable that developers include Open Candy if they wish, & I will act accordingly, now that I'm (embarrassingly late) aware of it. If it's an app I can do without, I will. If it's an app I don't wish to abandon, I'll do my best to remove / disable Open Candy, & will make others aware of it as possible &/or reasonably convenient.

Thanks Much, kartal, for bringing OC up!
20  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What's your mouse of choice? on: March 05, 2009, 03:21:29 PM
FWIW, closest I've ever come to the free-wheeling scroll wheel on my VX Nano was with a trackball -- a Kensington clone I believe I used to pick up at CompUSA. Not that the scroll wheel on the Nano is necessarily a good thing -- more an addiction making conventional wheels with detent near unbearable. :-(

Personally I use the mouse a *lot* for graphics/vid, but more often than not just for a short amount of time... with my right hand constantly going from keyboard to mouse or tablet or cup of coffee/tea, I've developed a rather strong dislike of ergo mice, or mug handles for that matter. ;-) I just want to grab it & let go the easiest, fastest way possible, & the Nano fills the bill. So does the Microsoft Notebook mouse, but the receivers kept dying.

Wireless is a must, because with hi rez mice only wireless is delicate enough -- the reason I like smaller, notebook mice is I can control them exclusively with my fingers, which is nice for detail work. When you give it a slight nudge, any cord has an unfortunate habit of nudging back.

For mousing surface, rather than spend a bunch of money, I use flexible (roll-up type) kitchen cutting boards/surfaces. They're relatively large to stay put, easy to clean, & have just enough texture for tactile feedback -- otherwise it's pretty close to an air hockey table in feel. And finally, because I've been doing this a bunch of years, I use this, which I've padded:
http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.10541   [despite the pic, it's really an arm rest]
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: making a recovery partition on: December 11, 2008, 03:09:08 PM
FWIW would it work to 1) create the partitions, 2) create a bootable backup image on the 2nd partition (basically the same as on a DVD, only on hdd), 3) switch to booting from image drive via bios hotkey during post.

The reason for not using a boot menu is someone is going to restore an image when they didn't want to, and complain of lost work, files, etc. If it's there, someone will press it.  Cry  Fact o' life.
The reason for hdd vs other media is loss... If it can be lost, damaged, or misplaced, it will be.

What I don't know is what will be involved in having the 2nd partition fully bootable & not interfering with the primary, bootable partition. I know it's possible - this is a common feature for laptop restores, triggered by a selection in their bios BTW. If you had any problems it might pay to look at setting the 2nd partition with a file system Windows doesn't understand natively - I know some partition mgr type programs provide/use Windows or Linux boot discs for their DOS/Win apps. And/or might be able to use the HP applet for creating bootable USB sticks?
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: advice needed.....FirstDefense-ISR, ShadowProtect, ShadowUser, Rollback Rx??? on: December 11, 2008, 02:41:08 PM
FWIW I've had excellent service with Paragon software - IMHO heads & shoulders above Acronis.

Programs like Rollback are perhaps a more complicated solution than disc mirroring when you need that level of redundancy (IMHO you usually don't). You have system and program software that doesn't change that often -- a few times a month depending on updates -- so it's inefficient to expend resources on archiving (or even monitoring) them more often.

I think it pays to use a bit of common sense... When you install random small apps, the cost in resources to archive them is often more than just re-installing if something happens before the next disc image. Some minor updates to Windows (&/or other software) fall into the same category.

I take the opposite approach to software like Rollback: I was taught to design for the usual -- that's where you want your greatest efficiency -- then have procedures in place to treat the exception... I have ample backups if needed, but I don’t force my systems, or myself to constantly work around creating backups. That’s NOT the primary purpose of either.

Data of course changes - some critical, some not. For the critical stuff there are all sorts of programs that maintain sync (of folders you select) with another storage device/location, and back things up manually, on a timer, or by watching for changes. This puts the focus where you need it.

If you want/need access to replace just damaged or missing files, like ShadowProtect advertises, & assuming you know just what's damaged or missing, a good image backup program will let you restore at the individual file level. Of course it’s still smart to ask: “Is it worth it”? If you can restore an image faster than you can determine what’s wrong, by restoring individual files you’re shooting yourself in the foot. I've also found nothing beats a simple zip archive for quick & easy access of individual files. However I’ve found backup programs storing compressed versions of your files much less efficient overall than the image type... they take much longer to compress &/or restore, & they usually don't perform as well with *hot* files (those in use). Boot restore discs are also more common with image backup programs.

Restoring files is a matter of copying them from one place to another, unless you’re using something like MS Shadow Copy in Vista, where theoretically you may just have to rename. Copying files isn’t necessarily going to be faster with one product versus another, so I take ShadowProtect’s ad copy with a large grain of salt.

According to the mini-review on DonationCoder, FirstDefense-ISR is very roughly the same thing as having several Windows installs - you choose your system via the boot loader when your PC (re) starts. The main cost is disc space [I don’t know if there are any performance hits], with a secondary loss in defrag times I’m imagine - the savings is however long it takes to restore a disc image (less than 20 minutes for a compressed 18 GB image using Paragon software on this PC - the only restore I’ve done in memory). I’ve restored a disc image once this year, & that because I intentionally butchered my Windows install trying to get an Adobe product installed & working. IMHO it’s a better choice to store a backup image on another drive (& remotely), use profiles in Windows as necessary, & if needed have a multi-boot PC. If your environment can’t wait 20 minutes or so to restore an image, have a copy of the system drive on the shelf... plan for the everyday, be prepared for the exception.

Putting backup archives on DVD is great for cheap, off-site storage, but you'll take a performance hit restoring, have to worry about poor quality media, & if there's a writing problem, often have to restart the entire backup -- I normally split my image archive files into chunks that can be burned to DVD for remote storage (I actually only burn maybe every 5th or 6th image), but leave the originals on the back-up drive. If I have to restore a drive & need to use the DVD copies I take a hit, but the odds of that happening are much less, & the backups I don't burn go much faster. Using a single drive for everything -- windows, software, & backups -- is risky, since hard drive failure is more likely to bite you than most anything else.

IMHO... & in a nutshell... while we all need to realize that problems happen, & plan accordingly, you can focus too strongly on what *might* go wrong, to the point that you’re robbing resources that should/could be spent on getting things right, improving on success.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Editor for PDFs: recommendations, please? on: December 11, 2008, 10:27:29 AM
1 thing to remember when talking about, rating, trying PDF conversion &/or editing software, is that there are several ways, programs to create PDFs now days -- the PDFs created are not always the same internally. What works for PDFs created in one program might fail miserably on the output of another. There are quite a few cheaper PDF conversion programs out, but in my experience how well they work, or if they work at all depends on what created the PDF you feed them. A few examples with ratings/comments for Quick-PDF [http://www.quick-pdf.com/] can be found here [http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/category/quick-pdfcom/].

FWIW RE: Serif...
AFAIK -- & from what I can recall (which may not be *totally* accurate) -- Serif was started years & years ago by Russian coders going up against Adobe & quite possibly Aldus (it was that long ago) (assuming anyone else is old enough to remember Aldus). They had excellent products, but not a lot of marketing clout in a then very closed-minded publishing & graphics arts community, where it was felt your professional credibility rested on the price of your tools, not your results. I think they then started licensing code or collaborating on niche products like a vector-based Dinosaur Drawing program one of my boys used back in a grade school project, eventually I believe turning over marketing (or selling themselves?) to one of the mass marketers similar to Broderbund. Their initial DTP program was dumbed down a little to compete with the brand new Microsoft Publisher, over the years becoming the PagePlus discussed here. You'll usually find deals on their software on various shareware &/or PC magazine sites like vnunet, at software surplus sites, at discount PC parts & accessory sites, & sometimes in the cheap software racks in retail stores.
24  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: If and when can you be sued for open source? Donationware? on: November 05, 2008, 07:40:11 PM
Entirely FWIW, & you might check out Electronics Frontier Foundation etc...

AFAIK a successful lawsuit has to show intent to knowingly defraud or whatever - Video sharing got off for a while claiming they'd remove anything on request, & I've seen a lot of software disclaimers that say please contact us if we've used any (c) code.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Things your kids will never know - old school tech! on: November 05, 2008, 07:11:59 PM
The Mimeo's impressive...

1) When 8-tracks 1st came out, there was no cheap/easy separate FM stereo, so tape adapters were popular.

2) Keypunch & related... Tape drives... Ancient teletype terminals [thunka thunka thunka] & early basic... Decolaters... Bursters...

3) Pushmowers... Hand-powered grass trimmers...Manual drills... Manual mixers for that matter.

4) V8 engines... Carburetors... Generators... 6 volt electrical... Lead for body filler... Bias ply car tires...
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