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76  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / WDS and huge index files? on: February 17, 2009, 10:54:11 PM
Windows Desktop Search is not my first choice, but I love OneNote and you need WDS in order to search OneNote, and I balk at the idea of having 2 search engines on my PC, so WDS is it.

It usually works fine, and I hardly notice it, but today I got a balloon popping up telling me I'm out of space on my C: drive. Well, I've been downloading more videos lately, and my usual amount of software, but this still surprised me. I hadn't expected to run into space issues for a while yet.

Turns out, WDS created a 35GB index file on my machine! So that's where all my free space went.

Does anyone else who uses WDS find that it creates huge index files? The drive is only 100GB all told, so this index is substantially bigger than the actual content it's supposed to be indexing, considering most of my HD space is taken up with non-indexed files such as videos and programs. My entire My Documents folder is only about 9GB, which  includes my outlook data store.

I'm thinking of just deleting this file. Does anyone know of any negative repercussions I will experience if I do?
77  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Crazy brits crossing railroads on: February 12, 2009, 12:59:48 PM
Death Rail 2000! Thmbsup
78  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Bywifi Video Accelerator on: February 12, 2009, 12:28:39 PM
And why is this better, exactly?

If I have 4 connections each running at 200Kbps or 1 connection running at 800Kbps, am I gaining anything? Considering that each connection probably includes some overhead for managing the connection that takes away bandwidth which could be used for actual content, I may actually be worse off with multiple connections!

Maybe my assumptions about the problem are wrong? I'm not trying to be stubborn, I really would like to understand what the benefit is of this system. So far I'm just not getting it.
79  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Bywifi Video Accelerator on: February 11, 2009, 06:09:26 PM
So the benefit is only on my own network? It doesn't use anyone else's bandwidth?

I can't see how this scheme would confer any real benefit. The bottleneck in most home networks is the pipe to the ISP. Max out your cable or DSL bandwidth, and it doesn't matter how many machines you've got trying to pull down a stream - only so many bits are going to get through at a time.

No "algorithm" behind the bottleneck is going to be able to alter this equation. Now, if software outside your network were re-compressing and re-streaming, that might help. The biggest benefit I could see would be that multiple peers serving up a stream from different locations would effectively avoid any upstream bottlenecks between you and the video site - swamped servers, a downed router, etc.

I'd be very suspicious about the effectiveness of recompression, though. Video streams are already highly compressed, using asymetrical compression technology that applies the best compression possible for the given content. Any re-compression would have to be done on-the-fly, using a more generic, real-time algorithm. If you saw any benefit at all, it might be 10%-15% - not 300% - 500%.

Compression and streaming are also CPU intensive. I doubt you could run this in the background without seeing a substantial performance hit, provided it's doing what it claims.

This strikes me as very similar to those "RAM doubler" programs that used to be around. Using compression on data in RAM sounded plausible enough to people who didn't really understand the technical issues, but it proved to be nothing but snake oil. I wouldn't be surprised if this was of the same ilk. Improving video downloads is a problem lots of people would like to see solved, but that doesn't mean that a cheap, easy solution to the problem really exists.
80  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Bywifi Video Accelerator on: February 10, 2009, 12:32:08 PM
This looks really interesting, but it sets off some red lights on my spyware warning system.

They're establishing their own P2P network, used only by other users of the software? It's going to take a while for that network to grow until there's any benefit for most users, I'd think. Is it using bittorrent, gnutella, or some proprietary protocol?

Also, how are they setting up this network? What data is being communicated over it? Is there a central server orchestrating connections, and possibly keeping a list of what files I've downloaded? How much of my bandwidth will be used for sharing?

I'd want to know a little more about how this thing works before I'd let it loose on my hard drive, as good as it sounds.
81  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: [IDEA] recode intellicomplete, make it publicly available on: February 04, 2009, 08:22:17 PM
I'll have to check out PhraseExpress. I'm currently using LetMeType for autocomplete, and Speed Typing (from Invention Pilot, for text replacement/correction.

I've only found one utility that did everything I wanted in one place, for free. It was a script called Slave that I found over at the AHK forums. The author seems to have abandoned it though, and when I asked if he would release the code, I think he replied that it was too amateurish and embarrassing to let out without a bunch of cleaning up.

The problem I typically have with these utilities is list management. Proprietary formats make it hard to port word lists from one app to another, something I really need to do if I'm going to consider switching.
82  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: copy paste between 2 computers on separate networks? on: January 27, 2009, 07:56:06 AM
R2 Studios also has a free app that will take pasted text and propogate to the clipboards of other machines on a network. It's called CopyCat

Seems a bit simpler than Ditto, and I recall it wasn't always 100% reliable, but you might have a look.
83  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Another Linux Thread :-P on: January 27, 2009, 07:46:50 AM
Thanks, 40Hz - I did download the whole Fedora 9 DVD. It sucked up all my bandwidth for a while, but I've got it now. I appreciate the offer, though!

I've registered with the Amahi site, but the issue is now the box I need to put it on. If I go with the dual P2 box, I 've got to assemble the hardware from scratch, which may require some duct tape and baling wire, and I'll need to appropriate some precious shelf space for a monitor. I don't have a flat panel lying around, so that means a humongous CRT, at least until I get things running to the point where I can use the machine over the network...

Hmmm - I think I just talked myself into using the laptop after all. cheesy

Anyway, I think I'll post updates to this thread periodically as the project goes along. Thanks for all the great help.

P.S. - Amahi says they have an Ubuntu version in the works, but it's not ready yet. So I'm going with Fedora for now.
84  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Another Linux Thread :-P on: January 22, 2009, 01:27:28 AM
Wow, thanks for the replies everyone!  Thmbsup

Shades, I'm glad to hear you say that the dual P2 might fit the bill. It's a nice little box, but it's just been gathering dust since I "rescued" it.  Wink I think I'll put it to use for this project, and maybe later set up the laptop as a Linux desktop.

I'll definitely check in to Amahi. It looks like it might be just the thing I'm after.

And thanks for all the links, Zaine! Roadmaps are always good when entering foreign territory!

And f0dder - you get the prize for the quickest replies!  drinksmiley
85  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Microsoft Word Question -- on: January 19, 2009, 12:51:17 AM
Hi Gorwin -

Something you might want to try is when you increase the font size, also decrease the page margins. If you imagine the effect of "zooming in" on an existing page layout, you'd expect the white space around the edges of the page to shrink as the area occupied by the text grows. With some fiddling, you might get a good match between the existing pagination and the "bigger font" pagination with narrower margins.

Other options include playing with the character spacing (Format menu -> Font -> Character Spacing tab) and the line spacing (Format menu -> Paragraph -> Spacing) You can set line spacing to "Exactly" and enter values other than the font size to finagle the amount of text that will appear on the page (i.e. specify a line spacing of 10.5 pts for a 12 pt typeface to squeeze lines together.)

You'll need to check for legibility with any changes you make, as adjusting these values can cause words to run together, lines to overlap, letters with descenders and ascenders to conflict, etc.

Another tip - Word can assign point sizes in half-point increments. When you are fiddling with font size and margin settings, it can be helpful to have the extra wiggle room of using using 11.5pt type instead of just having to settle for 11pt or 12pt.

There's a good chance some combination of these techniques will get you close to what you want. You'll probably still have to do some manual tweaking/page breaking when it's all done though. Good luck.
86  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Another Linux Thread :-P on: January 19, 2009, 12:33:14 AM
Thanks, f0dder -

I hadn't thought about power consumption, but it's a good point. The stuff I'm looking to run most of the time shouldn't be too CPU intensive. Tomcat & Red 5 could be, but they'll be mostly for playing around. Apache/MySQL/Drupal and Samba will probably get most of the work.

I've run XAMPP on my other Dell P3 laptop and performance was acceptable. I'm hoping on Linux it will be noticeably better since one of Linux's chief benefits is supposed to be better performance than Windows on a given CPU/memory setup.

I'm definitely going for a binary distro. My programming experience is exclusively with interpreted languages on DOS/Windows, and the thought of having to compile something from source code - on LINUX - makes me want to dive under the bed. Way too scary.
87  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: software for removing greenscreen/inserting any background on: January 18, 2009, 09:34:19 PM
Google "chromakey" and you will probably find something pretty quick. It's a standard trick in video apps.

Corel has a plug-in for Photoshop called Knockout that specializes in this.
You don't even need a green screen to use it, so it should work great if you've got one.

A company called Serious Magic used to have an app called Ultra that did this for video. They were bought by Adobe who now sells it, but I don't know if it's stand-alone anymore. It may only be available as part of one of Adobe's suites.

You could also check on software from Ultimatte. They are the originals and the uber-pros at greenscreen, but their software is pricey. You might check out the Ultimatte plug-in for Photoshop, though. I think they have one.

Many video programs have this built-in - Premier for example, or Sony Vegas. You could also look into Zweistein, a video app that has chromakey and is not limited to video resolutions. It's also free. Google "Thugs At Bay Zweistein" and it'll come right up.
88  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Another Linux Thread :-P on: January 18, 2009, 09:22:12 PM
Hi everybody -

I'm working my way through some of the existing Linux threads here - there sure are a lot of them!  embarassed But I thought I'd post this anyway, in hopes of getting some direction on my specific project.

I'm fairly Windows and even DOS savvy, but a complete newb at Linux/Unix. I've been meaning to take the plunge for a while now, and I think I'm finally ready to do it.

I'm not so much interested in using Linux as a desktop replacement for Windows. Windows is a fine desktop environment as far as I'm concerned, and already runs most of the software that I would ever want or need. But I've long wanted a home server, and the prohibitive price and hardware requirements of M$' server software has kept me from setting one up. This is the task I'd like to put Linux to.

All my (fairly) recent hardware is occupied doing desktop work, but I have a couple of older machines I could dedicate to the task. One is a full featured Dell Pentium 3 laptop and docking station. The other is a dual-processor Pentium 2 desktop machine. So I guess my first question is, which would be a better platform? I know Linux can make use of multiple processors, but would 2 PIIs be better than 1 P3, other things being equal?

I'm not so much interested in doing streaming media or anything like that - simple file sharing via an external USB drive and some LAMP serving/development (Drupal, possibly Tomcat/OpenLaszlo) are all I have planned for this box right now - plus of course it would be my "learning Linux" machine. Although at some point I might want to try out Red 5 on it as well. I'd also eventually like to use it as a gateway into my home network from outside, to give me access to remote web proxy capabilities, remote desktop via VNC and the like. So something that can be exposed directly through my router and still be very secure would be a plus.

If anybody has gone down this path themselves, I'd also love to hear any war stories you might have. Forewarned is forearmed. Or any tips for Linux tech I should be on the watch for. I know Samba is the default way for setting up network shares for Windows boxen. Are there other alternatives? Any gotchas with particular distros? It may be heretical, but we're not giving up Windows anytime soon here, so I need to make the new kid play nice with the existing crowd. cheesy
89  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: World's First Flying Car Prepares for Take-off on: January 12, 2009, 09:41:57 AM
The problem with an airplane/car hybrid (besides the dual licensing requirement) is that you can't just take off from wherever. At least in the U.S., you need to take off from an airport, file a flight plan, etc. Otherwise, the big men with the stars on their chest pockets will be wanting a word with you.

There's also the Moeller air car, but it only flies, it doesn't drive. And it runs  into the same issues.

The devil may be in the details, but hell is in the infrastructure. When the car appeared, it made use of the existing horse carriage infrastructure (which caused some controversy, but they were freer times.) When the plane appeared, there was no flight infrastructure to impinge upon. But a flying car today must fit into both the existing car infrastructure and the existing flight infrastructure - which are well entrenched, heavily regulated and protected by numerous interests.
90  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for random map generator. on: January 12, 2009, 09:33:25 AM
This might be a little wide of what you're after, but you might want to look at Terragen which is a photorealistic landscape generator. You can use the program to generate random "terrains" then modify them, combine them, etc.

Even if you never use the photorealistic rendering options, it could be a nice creativity booster.
91  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: General brainstorming for Note-taking software on: January 10, 2009, 01:06:20 PM
Yes, we've used it. But it's very difficult to use quickly in real time and the audio is not good at all.

Ok, well I've got to chime in here.

As for "difficult to use quickly in real time" I can see where this comes from - maybe - but seems like an inflated claim. In OneNote, there's a button to display the recording toolbar, which has the usual play-pause-stop-record buttons. Two clicks to start recording (one, if you had the foresight to turn on the audio recording toolbar before you started notetaking) doesn't seem to me to be "difficult to use." There's no keyboard shortcut, though, which is a bit annoying. Switching between notes while recording can also confuse things. But for the most likely scenario - recording on a single page while you take notes - OneNote's audio recording is perfectly usable.

OneNote's audio quality is skewed out of the box to produce small file sizes, so the quality is limited, though OK for spoken audio around a conference table or with a clip-on mic. However you can tweak the audio quality to be as high as you want. Bumping up the recording parameters gives much better quality audio, albeit with a slightly larger file size. You also get to choose the codec that will be used to encode the audio. It defaults to the Windows Media Voice codec, again assuming spoken word recording. But you can use the regular WMA codec for better quality.

Microphone quality is a much bigger factor in quality of audio anyway. No program is going to work magic with the crappy audio you'll probably get from a laptop's built-in mic. For recording something like a lecture, an inexpensive external mic would be a better investment.

When you play back the audio, the app will highlight the text you typed as the recording was made, which is neat to watch, and possibly even helpful. There's even an add-in that lets you tweak this timing if it somehow gets unsynced, or if you're extremely picky and have lots of free time.

My biggest gripe with OneNote's audio is that there's no audio meter in the program, so it's not easy to see what level you are recording at. If your mic is set to low or too high, or your external mic is not completely plugged in, causing you to record either buzzing or the sound of your own typing via the built-in mic, you can't really tell this while you are recording. (And yes, I 've had all of these happen.  embarassed )

For things like lectures or meetings where you've only got one chance to capture the audio, this is a major oversight.  Since OneNote just uses the system audio settings, you could theoretically run a separate app or widget to display audio levels during recording. I've been looking for such a thing for a long time though, and it doesn't seem to exist. The recording level gauge built into Windows is too klunky and hard to access to be of much use.
92  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Swoopo - A New Take on Online Auctions, or a Scam? on: November 03, 2008, 09:32:27 AM
Just looking at the middle item in the screenshot tells me this is a scam.

Bidding on cash? That's just absurd. Why would you bid on cash? Why would anyone auction off cash? All by itself, this item shows this site up as a come-on for suckers.

This reminds me of those games you find on the midway at carnivals and places like Coney Island. The fabulous prizes are prominently displayed to whet your appetite, but getting hold of them is never as simple (or cheap) as it seems.

(And what's with the "100% off" banner? Are they saying this cash used to be worth $80,000? Or that you can win it by bidding $0.00? Neither makes any sense.)
93  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: ZoneScreen: Expand your desktop on the network on: October 22, 2008, 10:22:33 AM
I've used Synergy, Win2VNC and also purchased MaxiVista. I'll have to try this out and see how it compares.

2stepsback, I'm wondering where you are looking for KVM switches, though, that you find them too expensive. You can get a decent one for 2 boxen in the $30 range, or even less, especially on ebay. Software is nice, but for just switching two PCs between 1 kb/mouse, it's hard to beat hardware.
  • Transitions are nearly instant.
  • There's no performance compromise. Sending video over ethernet almost always requires some kind of trade-off - color reduction, lag time, etc. Plus whatever it's doing to your network bandwidth.
  • There are no glitches/crashes/incompatibilities to worry about
  • You can always control either machine - even at boot time before the OS loads, which I sometimes find to be critical.
I bought a little 2 PC KVM with a USB port for around $20 if I remember correctly, and it's turned out to be one of the most useful pieces of kit I own.
94  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: My computer is older than YOUR computer! on: October 15, 2008, 11:24:12 AM
BASIC on the Atari 2600 was a great way to prepare for modern computing. Spend hours tweaking an underpowered program using a fiddly interface, then lose all your work when you turn off the power.  Just like when Windows crashes today! cheesy

They designed a real programming system for the 2600 once that would have turned it into a bona fide home PC. It plugged into the cartridge slot and added a chicklet-style keyboard as well as BASIC. It never saw the light of day, though. Perhaps they feared it would pirate Atari 400 sales.

I too have a 130XE in the attic, but haven't plugged it in in years. I'm hoping the floppy still works and that the disks are still readable so that my college ouevre will not be lost to history.

The oldest working/still useful PC I have is a Gateway Handbook 486. It's a notebook PC slightly larger than a paperback book, with one of the best small-size keyboards ever invented. (Oh, you thought the eee book was a new idea?  Wink ) I've actually got 2 of them - one runs Win 95 and the other runs DOS/GEOS. If only the dead batteries weren't so expensive to replace, I'd probably still be using these.
95  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Linux question - mount fs in Windows? on: September 30, 2008, 10:35:06 PM
Thanks for the links. I also turned up Explore2fs. (I always google something before I post a question about it. Common netiquette!) Unfortunately, Explore2fs is read-only at the moment. Write access was removed due to instability and the author is not optimistic about it being added back anytime soon.

I definitely need R/W access or the whole point is moot, so that lets that out.

I'll see if I can post something over at the Puppy forums. I hesitate to post a Windoze question in a Linux forum, but I guess I'll just have do it, then dodge the rotten tomatoes. Thanks!
96  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Linux question - mount fs in Windows? on: September 26, 2008, 03:15:51 PM
OK 40Hz - I think I've got it.

A question though - one of the reasons I went with QEMU Puppy is that it has the ability to boot "bare metal" Puppy Linux from the thumb drive. I've done this successfully. In this scenario (AFAIK) QEMU is not involved at all - it's just Puppy running. So Puppy must have the ability to access the volume file natively, outside of emulation.

I was guessing that using the .3fs file as a mountable storage volume was something you could generally do in Linux. There are analogs in the Windows world. TrueCrypt works the same way, mounting a single encrypted file as a storage volume.

Is this feature specific to Puppy Linux? That would explain why it isn't widely supported.
97  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Linux question - mount fs in Windows? on: September 26, 2008, 12:34:16 PM
Hi everyone (especially the Linux gurus out there...)

I'm a rank noob when it comes to Linux, but I've been experimenting with QEMU-Puppy on a USB stick, and so far I like it very much.

Puppy Linux runs from RAM, and when you are done and shut it down, it saves it's changes back into a file system on the media from which it was run (thumb drive in my case.) This file system appears on the disk as pup_save.fs3 under Windows.

I'd like to get access to what's inside that file from within Windows so I can open and save things there. I found and installed Ext2 IFS which lets you mount Linux Ext2/Ext3 file systems in Windows, and gives you read/write access. (I'm guessing that because the file is named .fs3 that Puppy is using an Ext3 file system?)

The problem is that Ext2 IFS seems geared to partition based file systems. The GUI will let you mount an Ext2/3 partition, and shows all the partitions on my physical drives. I'm assuming that if I had a partition formatted in Ext3 I could just mount if from there.

But the file system I want to mount is not a partition - it's just a file! And I can't see any way in Ext2 IFS to select this file and mount it so that it will become accessible under Windows.

I'm probably missing something really basic here, but as I said I'm new at this. Could someone with a bit of Linux/Windows experience point me in the right direction? Thanks!
98  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Gbridge on: September 25, 2008, 02:00:50 PM
@CMPM: Why don't you use a multi-protocol client like Pidgin?
99  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Flash Toy of the Week: How Well Can you Differentiate Colors? on: September 17, 2008, 12:52:17 PM
I scored a 3! Not too bad.

As men age they lose the ability to discern the color yellow.

When I first heard this factoid, I doubted it. Then one day, a good friend told me about a family friend of his in his 70's who was helping my friend to paint his apartment. The old guy opened a can of light yellow paint and asked my friend "Is this gray?"

Men also lose their sense of humor as they age. So if you know any older men who can't see yellow, you probably don't want to needle them about it. They won't think it's so funny.

Women don't suffer these degradations. Just more evidence that they're generally put together better than men.

BTW - if the high score is 99, how did somebody score 1492?  tellme Did they arrange all the colors perfectly but put them in the wrong order?
100  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Lazy guy query: taggable file mgr on: September 05, 2008, 04:01:56 PM
Thanks, Kimmchii!

I wound up spending the time to go and find something anyway. I remembered way back when there used to be a file manager (for DOS!) called XTree Gold that let you tag files and then operate on them.

Turns out there are numerous clones of this classic app. Most are full-blown Win32 applications now, although some still run in good old text mode. I wound up downloading Extreme ( which although running in text mode, is a Win32 app with good mouse support.

It did the trick and has earned a permanent place in my utilities folder on my thumb drive. Us lazy guys like power tools.  cheesy
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