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126  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Q: Nexus 7 and Ad Blocking on: November 20, 2012, 07:03:56 PM
The most recent WugFresh Nexus Root Toolkit (1.5.5) is dated November 5, 2012. 

My Nexus 7 received an OTA update to Jelly Bean 4.2 just a few days ago.  If you were also updated to 4.2, you might want to wait for the next version of the WugFresh toolikit before applying it, just to be sure it handles the latest mods from Google.
127  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: ~$300 Laptop/Netbook recommendations on: November 13, 2012, 09:54:17 PM
All the laptops I've bought for myself or relatives over the past 10 years or so have been ThinkPads from the IBM Certified Pre-owned Laptop site.

I like ThinkPads because they are built like tanks (meaning strong, not heavy), have the best keyboards of any laptops, and being targeted at IT departments rather than the folk who shop at Best Buy or Staples, their on-line support is top-notch if one is technically savvy.  There is also an extensive on-line ThinkPad user community.

Right now, the site is having a 20% off sale and including a 1-year extended warranty for free.  Looking there, I see they list a T400s with a 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor, Windows 7 Pro, 4GB RAM, 120GB HD, DVD-RW, a/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth and a built-in camera for $369. With 20% off, that comes to $295.20. The model number is listed as T28153YU, which translates to 2815-3YU, so you can go to the Lenovo Support page, enter 2815-3YU in the Quick Path box and find more information (such as that the screen resolution is 1440x900), download user guides and maintenance manuals, etc.

That particular item may be gone by the time you look, but their stock changes daily, so if you keep looking and do your due diligence, you can come up with some great deals.  They also have free shipping and a 7-day money-back guarantee.
128  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Strategies to stay with Windows 7 as long as possible on: November 12, 2012, 04:05:52 PM
Adobe Acrobat 6 and Paint Shop Pro Versions X and earlier will not run properly, or at all, under Windows 7.

A lot of older software will not run under Windows 7, no matter how much you play around with UAC and compatibility settings, which is why Microsoft made XP Mode available for free.  Among other things, Windows 7 dropped support for 16-bit programs and programs which include legacy 16-bit code.

While XP Mode will work if you have Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate, and does not require activating an XP license, VMware Workstation and VirtualBox do more and do it better.  They also free you from depending on Microsoft's future kindness.
129  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: 010 Editor (hex editor) discounted today at bitsdujour.com on: November 09, 2012, 09:21:35 AM
010 editor is at BDJ again today for $49.95 (Commercial)/$19.95(Home/Academic).

010 Editor is designed primarily to be a hex/binary editor, but it handles text well too. For serious editing, it does not have the features I depend on in Kedit and EditPad Pro, but it is far more capable than Notepad and loads much faster than EditPad. Because it integrates nicely in the right-click menu for Explorer and can read any type of file, it has become my goto editor when I just want to look at a file or make some simple text edits.
130  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Quo vadis Microsoft? on: November 06, 2012, 11:41:36 AM
At the risk of beating a dead horse (at least among DC folk), I submit the following opinion piece from PC magazine calling Windows 8 a "Desktop Disaster" along with Robert X Cringely's guess as to what Microsoft may actually be up to.

I suspect that Cringely may be putting the cart before the [dead] horse, but his idea makes as much sense as anything else in this regard.
131  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: The Best Way to Share Kindle Books on Nook, Kobo, iPad on: November 02, 2012, 11:01:38 PM
Best solution: do whatever it takes to convert each book to an unencrypted pdf.

pdf???  You must not read a lot of ebooks.

ePub is a much better format for all readers except Kindle, which requires mobi.  In addition, since both are based on HTML and CSS, so they are likely to be decipherable long after pdf has moved on.

Of course, getting rid of the DRM is the most important thing.
132  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Win 8 Patent Lawsuit on: November 02, 2012, 10:50:38 PM
Goes way back to how MS stole code from CP/M.

My understanding was it was Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products who borrowed certain parts of CP/M for 86-DOS which was famously acquired for $75K by Microsoft and renamed MS-DOS.


IIRC, Tim Paterson's OS was named QDOS, for Quick and Dirty OS.

One major problem with CP/M was the addressing of physical disk sectors, which led to incompatible formats from nearly every hardware manufacturer. It also could not handle the larger hard disks that were coming on the market (>10MB !!!). Paterson solved that with the File Allocation Table (FAT), which was a major reason QDOS/MS-DOS quickly eclipsed CP/M and CP/M-86.
133  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Confusing Apple Promo (Spoof) on: November 02, 2012, 10:19:34 PM
And here, the new iPad Mini commercial (courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel)
134  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Neowin reviews Windows 8 - Leave your pre-conceived notions at the door on: October 28, 2012, 01:29:24 PM
This discussion reminded me of an InfoWorld article a couple of months ago that is well worth reading, despite the sensationalist headline (headlines are written by editors, not authors).
135  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Remote Android Control Solution? on: September 29, 2012, 09:56:26 PM
TeamViewer has an app called QuickSupport that supposedly does that, but at this time, it is only available for certain Samsung devices, and based on users reviews, still seems to be quite buggy.

Teamviewer says that they need cooperation from the manufacturers to make the program work on other devices.
136  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Help me understand Virtual Machine [VMWare] on: September 26, 2012, 04:24:36 PM
Both VMware Workstation and VirtualBox have just released major updates.

VMware Workstation 9 is an expensive ($119) upgrade barely a year after version 8 was released. It appears to bring some interesting new options, such as the ability to access a VM remotely or to mount a virtual disk as a drive on the host system, but it's getting harder to justify the cost versus the free (at least for personal use) of VirtualBox 4.2.

InfoWorld has a comparative review of VMware 9 and VirtualBox 4.2.

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137  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Shit Apple Fanatics Say on: September 16, 2012, 06:59:25 PM
Meet the new iPhone. Same as the old iPhone.
138  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: The Best Way to Share Kindle Books on Nook, Kobo, iPad on: September 15, 2012, 09:59:00 PM
The Kindle app for Android works with most tablets, but for ebook readers based on Android, like the Nook, you need to root the device in order to install the Kindle app.

A much better approach is to remove the DRM from the ebook and convert it from the Amazon AZW (encrypted Mobi) to ePub.  There are various ways to do this, but the easiest and most reliable is through the deDRM plugins for Calibre.

The deDRM tools may be downloaded from Apprentice Alf's Blog.

Note that there are legal and ethical issues involved in stripping DRM from ebooks or any other digital media.  I personally feel that if I have paid for a book, I have the right to read it however I want to, as long as I do not distribute it to anyone else.
139  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Steal Windows 8 and Microsoft probably won't mind? on: September 09, 2012, 09:02:15 PM
Some twenty years ago, WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 dominated the office software market and both had effective copy protection schemes.  Microsoft Word and Excel did not and were widely copied and distributed.  Once Microsoft's software became the dominant player in the office, it adopted a license activation scheme to prevent widespread piracy (at least by general users).

Today, Microsoft is in the position WordPerfect and Lotus were in two decades ago. The challenge to Windows is not Linux, but Android and iOS, which power the devices consumers are using more and more in lieu of PCs for everyday tasks.

I really don't see how selling Windows 8 for PCs makes any difference to Microsoft. Most people who acquire it will do so when they buy a new computer. Individual copy pricing is mostly for system builders anyway, and they have little choice in the matter.  The real battleground is on tablets and phones, and Microsoft is way behind there.
140  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Apple v Samsung Verdict is in on: August 27, 2012, 11:21:17 AM
From today's NY times:

Velvin Hogan, the foreman of the jury in the Apple-Samsung case, said in a phone interview on Saturday that the decision should send a “clear message” to the industry that companies that violate intellectual property will have to pay a penalty, like the one Samsung officials face. “They took the risk and it caught up with them,” said Mr. Hogan, 67, a retired electrical engineer who holds two issued patents himself and has a third pending.

I wouldn't venture a guess as to whether this verdict might be eventually overturned, but I'd say that Samsung's lawyers certainly have some pretty good grounds for their inevitable appeal.
141  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tech support — why bother? on: August 26, 2012, 10:21:51 AM
My first personal computer, many (many!) years ago, was a Z-80 based Vector Graphics 3 maxed out with 56 KB (that's kilobytes) of RAM.  The Vector ROM-based assembler could not generate 8080 code, so I purchased the M-80 assembler ($400!!) from Micro Soft (as it was then known), which advertised a library to generate either Z-80 or 8080 code from a common source file.

The first time I used the assembler, I was working late at night, and found nothing about the 8080 library in the documentation, which consisted of about 20 single spaced pages poorly reproduced from something printed on a mis-aligned daisy wheel printer.  Micro Soft was based in New Mexico, which was 2 hours behind NY, so I figured there might be a chance someone might still be around to answer a question.

My phone call was in fact answered, by a very knowledgeable young man who identified himself only as Bill and, in a voice I would come to recognize many times over the years, explained how the library was fully documented in the source code comments. We had an interesting conversation about the the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of providing documentation in this manner, and when it was appropriate to do so.

I gather Bill no longer works for Microsoft, but it's good to know their tech support is still top notch.
142  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Help me understand Virtual Machine [VMWare] on: August 20, 2012, 09:28:10 AM
Even if you can use snapshots for testing, I agree with Renegade that it is a good idea to keep backup copies of any original "clean" VMs you create.  In many ways, a VM is like another computer available to work on when needed, and you really don't want to lose it by accident.

A VM is like a disk image. The difference is that the operating system on it has been modified to require a virtual environment in which to run.  In some cases, it is possible to convert an image of a real system to run in a VM, or to convert a VM to run a real system.  I have used Paragon's virtual manager (part of their Hard Disk Manager Pro but also available separately), to restore a backup image of an older system to a VMware VM, allowing me to run programs that were installed on it even though I no longer have the original computer.

143  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Help me understand Virtual Machine [VMWare] on: August 17, 2012, 01:53:22 PM
A VMware virtual disk is just a set of files contained in a directory.  Some tools even allow you to mount a VMware VM to your host system as a virtual drive.  I suggest using the option to limit file sizes to 2GB because it makes it much easier to manage and copy or move large VMs than as a single huge file.

Player doesn't have the snapshot feature of Workstation, but you can close a VM and make a backup image of the VM directory, then restore it later to return to the initial state.  The easiest way to do that is just make a Zip archive of the VM directory.  I do that anyway to make backups of some of the VMs I use regularly.

You can create as many virtual machines as you want on a single host system, although you can only open one at a time with Player -- Workstation allows you to network multiple VMs.

If you use VMs more than occasionally, Workstation is well worth the price, IMHO. That said, Player is probably adequate for most people's purposes.

144  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Windows 8: Yes, it's that bad on: August 15, 2012, 09:30:34 PM
"Windows 8 review: Yes, it's that bad"

"Windows 8 is a failure -- an awkward mishmash that pulls the user in two directions and ends up as a desktop OS for tablets and a tablet OS for desktop."

"Windows 8 is guaranteed to disappoint nearly everyone."

These harsh words come from Woody Leonhard, of all people, writing in InfoWorld today.

Not having tried Windows 8 yet, I'll reserve my own judgment, but while I have read good things about the underlying engine, there seems to be almost unanimous condemnation of the Metro Modern UI.
145  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: programming language for math on: August 14, 2012, 08:57:24 AM
That depends on what you mean by "calculating math."

If you are talking about writing high-performance software, most high speed math libraries are written in C, and most C compilers provide optimization choices to help speed up math routines. Depending on whether or not you will be working in floating point also makes a difference -- there are libraries optimized for math co-processors and parallel processing, and for nearly any math functions you might desire.  Fortran is still widely used because it is easier to program (for mathematicians) but not as efficient or flexible as C/C++.

If you are talking about the need to quickly implement a variety of math calculations, processing speed is not as important a factor as the ability to use existing routines that are known to do the job properly. There are many specialized math programming systems, most of them pricey, favored by different folks in different fields: Mathematica, Matlab, Gauss, etc..  R is a good choice for statistics, but is inefficient on large data sets.
146  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Windows 8 Metro has gone ... on: August 08, 2012, 04:16:55 PM
Sadly, it's only the name that has been changed (it's now called the "Windows Start Screen").

I haven't played with W8 yet, but given that even J. Peter Bruzzese, the house shill for Microsoft at InfoWorld, admits that it makes him physically ill, I'm not in a hurry to do so.
147  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: In search of ... desktop/mobile calendar/task list/appointments app on: August 07, 2012, 09:16:01 AM
Just an FYI. When I evaluated Essential PIM a few months ago I had it lose information that had been previously entered and saved to the calendar. Don't know if this was an anomaly or something specific to the machine I was running it on. But it spooked me enough that I removed it from further consideration after that happened. Which was a shame. It looked to be a very capable PIM. YMMV.

I dumped Outlook (which I used only for calendar, contacts and tasks) about 6 months ago and have been using EPIM exclusively on my Windows PCs since then without ever having any data loss, although I did mess up a few entries at first while learning how to adapt the features to the way I work.  EPIM is extremely customizable, but the way options are selected and applied  is not always intuitive, at least to me.  EPIM can be set to make automatic backups with location, timing and number of versions saved all user selectable.

I had been looking for a PIM to replace Outlook since moving to Android from Palm several years ago, and had tried many (including Pimlical). Essential PIM was the first one I found that I felt I could live with.

Note: I use the portable Pro version and do not use the Windows defaults for either program or data locations.

The ability to run in portable mode and to specify my own data locations is one of the most important considerations I have in choosing many kinds of programs. 

I have an Apps folder under which I install programs that allow for a portable usage mode (and certain others). I also have a Data folder under which I keep all my critical data folders. This allows me to easily replicate my data on another computer  for backup or for when I travel. It also allows me to update many programs without having to run Setup, and to transfer them between systems, along with their settings.
148  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: In search of ... desktop/mobile calendar/task list/appointments app on: August 06, 2012, 08:31:56 PM
Another option might be EssentialPIM.

The Windows Pro edition is licensed per computer, but there is a free version that is probably good enough to see if you like the way it works.  The Pro edition also provides a fully functional portable version. There are free apps for both Android and iOS.

On Android devices, EPIM uses its own tasks, notes and password modules and the built-in (Google) calendar and contacts, but you can synchronize those directly if you prefer not to use Google.
149  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Strange Windows Explorer problem - anyone know how to fix this? on: July 26, 2012, 09:51:21 PM
I'm not sure if this is the same thing, but I recall having a similar problem a few years ago.

How I solved it was to open the next to lowest level folder in Explorer and drag the lowest level folder to without opening it. Once that was done, I was able to open the folder by clicking on it without Explorer hanging.

My interpretation of why this worked is that a folder is a file that contains pointers to the physical location of other files, which Explorer uses to build the path to those files when the folder is opened. Dragging the folder to a higher level before opening it shortened the path before Explorer tried to build it and hung.  I don't know enough about the internals of how Explorer works to know if my explanation is correct, but in my situation, it did work.





150  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google's "Take action" - Celebrate freedom. Support a free and open Internet. on: July 20, 2012, 12:58:44 PM
Not to be outdone, the Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has just hired Mark Penn as "corporate vice-president of strategic and special projects."

My guess is that the only reason no big tech company has hired Bernie Madoff as CFO is that he won't be free for the next 150 years.

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