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Topics - allen [ switch to compact view ]

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Linspire, Inc. Is the worst company I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with.  From my first moments with them several years until . . . Probably forever. . . They torment me. I think they do it on purpose. That or they aspire linspire to a level of incompetency that can be rivaled only by monkeys post brain-transplant-with-toad surgery. Boing.

I was going through a multi-boot kick.  I had a few flavors of Linux as well as trusty windows installed.  There was a special one week only offer to get Linspire (Then Lindows IIRC) free.  I am not one to turn away free stuff usually, and it was more fodder for my OS playing.  So I downloaded and installed it.  If I knew then what I know now . . .

Their primary source of income isn't the OS itself but their software distribution system.  They have a package installer, like any other linux distribution (and no easier to use than, say, Ubuntus) -- but unlike others, you have to pay a monthly fee to use it. Paying gives you access to some stuff, other stuff you have to pay even more out of pocket for.  It's very capitalistic.  It's not very good, at all, and its only real claim to fame is larger, shinier buttons than other Linux distros -- as if to say "Look at me, I am not Linux and I am not windows. I have giant buttons like a child toy and will hold your hand all the way to the bank."

So you can get Linspire.  You can forfeit access to all windows software while at the same time not gain the robust flexibility of Linux.  And if that's not cool enough for you, it was horrendously unstable.  The only thing you get is the ability to brag to your idiotic windows using friends (I think that's what all Linspire users think of windows users) that you use linux.  Of course, if you're at all perceptive you'll realize you shouldn't mention which distro you're using to anyone but fellow Linspire users. Because real Linux users will know you're an idiot; and windows users will know you're a fraud.  Yes: I passionately hate them. I uber hate them. I passionately uber hate them!

At this point in my story, however, I didn't passionately uber hate them. I was just disappointed and not fond of them.  So I canceled my click and run subscription, wiped the Linspire partitions to put something useful on there and believed that was it. Click and RUN!!!

Alas. The next billing cycle came around and I was charged despite my having canceled it. I was unimpressed but still reasonable.  It took a lengthy correspondence with support, but eventually I got my money back and was assured that I wasn't scheduled for rebilling. My relationship with them was seemingly concluded. Click and RUN!!!

Alas. The next billing cycle came around and I was charged despite my having canceled and having been reassured I wouldn't be rebilled.  This time, I was unable to negotiate a refund. As far as they were concerned, I was using CNR, demanding refunds and thereby getting a free ride.  My insistence that they check records to see I wasn't logging in, wasn't downloading were to no avail. They didn't care that the operating system no longer existed on my computer or that I was no longer using it or that it was disabled in my account and should not, under any circumstances, be rebilled. They didn't care. I was forced to cancel that card to prevent future billing. I believed, finally, it would be the end of my relationship with them. Click and RUN LIKE THE WIND!!!

Alas. Every couple weeks I would receive their newsletter--much like Click and Run, I disabled it in my account. And still it kept coming to the same e-mail address.  I tried going through support to get them stopped, and despite the support personnel assuring me my e-mail address wasn't subscribed, I continued to receive their e-mails.  This battle between them and me continued on--continues to this day!  I realize I could manually create a filter to reject these e-mails, but I shouldn't have to! When I say stop, they should stop! They must stop! They will not stop!  The headers all indicate the messages are being sent to the e-mail address I am attempting to removing, but the message body always says <> in place of my e-mail address. (This message has been sent to <>) -- They can't even get THAT right.  Each time I receive their e-mail, I try to log in to my account to double check that I shouldn't receive their e-mails. But EVERY time I do, I get the same message:

Yowza! Looks like we're quite popular right now, and our servers are experience a very high volume so we can't process your request presently. We apologize for the inconvenience, but please try again a little later. .

So self-important! Oh, so popular! It's probably other desperate schmucks like me trying to turn off their compulsory e-mail messages!! Everything about them is self-important, idiotic and broken. (I should mention, they even fail on the ellipses: it should be three dots, not two!) Oh how I hate them, how I passionately uber hate them.

If I lived closer to their headquarters--or if ever I am passing through--I would handle this like the descendent of an ape that I am, I would show my disdain and make my territorial claim. Each time I received their self-important newsletter (sometimes as often as weekly, usually two to three weeks) I would walk into their offices and piss on their rugs.  Obviously they do not respond to a civilized approach.

I'm starting to feel like Milton from office space. "I'll set the building on fire... "

Tonight, having exhausted every civilized avenue, I decided to e-fling poo.  I'll continue to e-fling poo until they leave me alone.

You idiotic spamming sons of bitches, yet ANOTHER newsletter has dripped from your incompetent cunts into my inbox.  I explicitly unsubscribed through my account interface and I have been "assured" countless times by support that my address has been removed, and yet I continue to receive your self-important, meaningless ass residue excuse for a newsletter in my inbox. MAKE THEM STOP! Is it really necessary to excrete your shit all over my inbox every fucking week despite my pleas for reprieve? STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!

I do not want to receive your newsletter. Do not send it to crepe [at]
I do not want to receive your newsletter. Do not send it to crepe [at]
(This line was repeated 101 times.)

General Review Discussion / Wovel
« on: February 27, 2008, 12:16 PM »
Basic Info

Supported OSesOffline, Outdoors
Support MethodsPackin DVD, Telephone, Email
Pricing Scheme$119.95 (Right now $77.97 mid-season sale)
Reviewer Donation Link Donate to Allen, the Reviewer
Screencast Video URL

The wovel ("Wheel Shovel") is not a software application, but a real life tool for snow removal.  My review of it going to consist of two components. A brief, hopefully concise, review followed by a mess of a longer review with backstory and comparative experience with other means of snow removal.


The wovel comes together remarkably easily. The included instructions (with additional installation tips on DVD) are accurate and thorough.  It's an easy, one man job requiring only a screwdriver and crecent wrench.  There are 4 positions to mount the wheel on to adjust whether more leverage goes to the scoop or the arms; this is easily changed via quick release in a fashion similar to bicycle wheels. Removing the wheel also makes it much easier to store. There are four positions for the handle to be mounted in to accomodate different operator heights.  I initially set it to the highest setting (suggested for >5'7") but might drop it down one.

The Assembled Product
While I haven't had it long enough to do an over-time durability analysis, I do believe that it's going to last a great while.  It's comprised of well fitting, well made parts.  There are no moving parts to speak of short of the wheel itself, so there's really no concern over mechanical difficulty.  As with any shovel, the blade will experience wear--replacement parts are sold on their website.  You can also purchase an optional metal blade guard to affix to the front of the blade. ( I wish that this was included with the Wovel; the fact that it isn't is probably an indicator that the blade is more durable than I give it credit for, however. )

Wovel in Action
After finishing my initial run with the Wovel there were three primary things that were very clear to me.

First, which was a shock for me, was the fact that it could forward plow in a single pass every bit as much snow as the big scoop shovel I'd previously used--quite possibly more.  I expected it to be quite the opposite.  The Wovel blades vertical orientation, allows it to move a great deal of snow at a time with less snow spilled over the sides than I'm accustomed to. This translates to far less going back over already cleared parts afterwards to clean up.

Secondly, I finished up extraordinarily faster than I'd ever before.  No exaggeration, I finished in less than half the time it usually takes me to clear the same amount of snow.  The wovel easily plows through the snow and afterwards throws it effortlessly up onto or over the piles.  In contrast to the pained plowing of the big scoop and excruciating process of forcing the snow up onto hills, I am absolutely smitten with the wovel.  The quality of my driveway clearing is the same as before and the resulting hills are pretty much the same, too.  I did the same job faster, easier.  While I won't attempt to compete with expensive multiple cycle blowers, I feel comfortable saying I could clear any reasonable sized surface faster and better with a wovel than a single cycle snow blower could.

Finally, the way I felt when I finished.  A previous shoveling session left me drained, exhausted and sore.  My initial shoveling session with the wovel left me feeling satisfied and invigorated.  I worked my lower and upper body a bit, obviously, but nowhere near the point of fatigue.  There was absolutely no strain on my trunk or neck.

The contrast between woveling and shoveling was, for me, nothing short of staggering.  Short of expensive and complicated machinery, the Wovel is by far the best tool for snow removal.  Added benefits are physical exercise, you don't emit toxic gasses into the atmosphere, no trouble starting it (or fueling it or oiling it).  In a few minutes, I'm going to be going out for another woveling session -- and quite honestly, I'm looking forward to it.  For anyone who has snow to contend with and finding their current method less than perfect, I cannot strongly enough reccommend the Wovel.


The narrative-slash-comparitive-slash-digressing Wovel review
I live in Northern Maine, where winters are no joke.  This year alone we've already had over one hundred and thirty inches dumped on is; with a couple months left of snow season, there's more still to come.  Subsequently, during the winter months I am resonsible for a significant amount of snow removal.  I do not have a plow affixed to the front of my pickup, as so many (Most!) here do nor do I own a snow blower.

The first thing you should know is the amount of snow I have to remove -- if I only had a small walkway to worry about, I wouldn't be scrutinizing the tools I use.  I have a two car garage--the drive way, obviously, has a width sufficient to accommodate it and is comparable in length.  The surface area that has to be shoveled is more than can be handled with your trusty grain shovel if it's in excess of an inch.  Additionally, I have to maintain a walk way for the delivery of fuel for our heater.

Up until now, I have used a "Big Scoop" push shovel -- which is essentially a man powered plow.  While it can be used to remove significant amounts of snow, it requires a great deal of effort -- especially when the hills you're pushing snow onto start piling up to masses that look more tractor than man made.  A typical shoveling session concludes with me generally aching from top to bottom, panting quite heavily as you might imagine.  With it, I could relatively comfortably handle 4 or 5 so inches of light to medium density snow; anything in excess of that (or more than 3 or 5 inches of higher density (wet) snow) would usually result in two shoveling sessions to finish it, each ending in complete exhaustion and fatigue.  I'll continue to mention the big scoop throughout this as it is the only other man-powered means of snow removal I am aware of for removing non-trivial amounts of snow.

To keep up with heavy snow fall -- 8+ inches, it's imperative to shovel in intervals, making sure an amount doesn't settle on the ground that is impossible to remove sans heavy machinery.  During a heavy snow storm this can mean being out shoveling as often as every three to four hours.  Complete exhaustion multiple times a day can really make a body loathe snow.

Enter: The Wovel.

The "Wovel" is so named as it is, literally, a wheeled shovel.  It's a big shovel attached to a big wheel.  I discovered the wovel while searching for a picture of the Big Scoop.  While looking at a product listing on, I saw a related product listing--a giant wheel with a shovel affixed.  I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever seen, had a good chuckle, and proceeded to take a look at it to see what garbage they were peddling to unscrupulous individuals.  After reading about it, the testimonials and viewing the demonstrations online, however, my interest was piqued.  I jokingly mentioned it to my wife--I was mildly interested, but skeptical.  As it happened, they were also running a mid-season sale, cutting the price by 35% -- later that day, my wife informed me my wovel would be arriving in a week.  I cringed, still not convinced it would possibly be everything it claimed to be.

It arrived in a white box that featured its logo and web address -- which sparked an amusing little discussion with the delivery man about my having purchased a giant wheel with a shovel on it.


The wovel went together amazingly easily, requiring only a screwdriver and crescent wrench (not included).  I've had to put together quite a few pieces of furniture and toys over the years--I have never in my life encountered a product with such clear and accurate installation instructions. There was no second guessing, no scrutinizing over which screw/nut/bolt to use.  I remember marveling over the  instructions, saying to myself, "If the quality of these instructions are any indicator of its ability to remove snow..."

The Wovel also included a DVD, which is a concise introduction to woveling.  It's brief and contains good information on proper use of the wovel to get the most out of it.  It even goes so far as to include strategies on various shapes and sizes of surface areas of snow removal.  It concludes with some installation tips.  Apparently it was meant to be viewed prior to assembly -- fortunately, the aforementioned instructions were more than sufficient for assembly.

After putting it together, a strange thing happened--it didn't snow for two to three weeks.  The one time this winter I want snow, it's actually holding off.  By the time it snowed--last night--the excitement over the wovel had worn off. I no longer wanted it to snow, and while I was curious about how well it would work I, I was no longer so excited as to hope for snow. It became an untested tool, rather than a marvelous toy.  I think this is for the best though--as my initial impression will not be curbed by excitement over a new toy nor will it be marred by disappointment over something I had high hopes for.


The woveling technique begins with a forward plowing of snow, much like I'd previously employed with the big scoop.  What makes the wovel unique, however, is what happens at the end of that plowing.  While still moving forward, you press down firmly on the handle to raise the scoop.  This is done quickly. Done properly, the snow flies up and forward as the wheel hops off the ground.  While it takes a few tries to get used to throwing the snow while moving forward, it is really quite easy to do. The coordination is not difficult and it doesn't require nearly as much physical strength/energy as one might expect. One consideration: be sure to lean forward a bit doing it, lest you force the bar down onto your forward knee. That hurts!

The snow on the ground this morning was, really, the ideal benchmark for the wovel.  Three to five inches on the ground, on the heavier end of the mid-weight wetness; it wasn't not slush, but certainly not a light powder, either.  It was the perfect "average" snow quantity to remove -- the kind of snow that previously I would finish fatigued and exhausted.

I started with the narrow walkway I maintain for fuel delivery.  Really, it was the worst place to start with a new tool as it's just a single shovel wide and the terrain beneath it is uneven as a result multiple snows, drifting, melting and refreezing and receiving less attention than the driveway.  The wovel blade is oriented significantly differently than that of my big scoop. The big scoop basically lays on its back and slides accross the ground while the wovel blade is more upright, angling the blade to the ground.  Because of this difference in blade orientation, I really couldn't just plow forward with the wovel as I had with the big scoop.  This served as good training with the actual snow throwing: move forward a bit til I hit a surface peak, throw the snow to the side, repeat.  At this point I realized how little forward momentum is needed to toss the snow.  Just a slight forward motion while pushing the handle down is sufficient to send it away.  I initially thought the wovel more awkward for clearing that awful walkway than the big scoop or grain shovel.  However, upon finishing, two things were immediately apparent to me. (1) That was the fastest I'd ever cleared the walkway (2) That was the easiest I'd ever cleared the walkway.  Though working with a new tool, I was already out performing my other tools.  The only downside was that I had not yet worked hard enough to get sufficient endorphins to chase my hangover away.

From there I moved on to the real deal, the driveway. My driveway is a much kinder surface than the walkway -- and woveling on it was, quite honestly, a pleasure.  In terms of agility/maneuverability, it's on par with the big scoop for the most part.  I generally same clearing method/path as before.

After finishing, there were three primary things that were very clear to me.

The first, which was a shock for me, was the fact that it could forward plow in a single pass every bit as much snow as the big scoop (quite possibly more).  I expected it to be quite the opposite.  The Wovel's blade is the same width, but lacks the big bucket. Its vertical orientation, however, allows it to pile snow higher.  The other benefit of this vertical orientation is much, much less snow is spilled over the sides during a pass. This translates to far less going back over already cleared parts afterwards to clean up.

Secondly, I finished up extraordinarily faster than I'd ever before.  No exaggeration, I finished in less than half the time it usually takes me to clear the same amount of snow.  The wovel easily plows through the snow and afterwards throws it effortlessly up onto or over the piles.  In contrast to the pained plowing of the big scoop and excruciating process of forcing the snow up onto hills, I am absolutely smitten with the wovel.  The quality of my driveway clearing is the same as before and the resulting hills are pretty much the same, too.  I did the same job faster, easier.  While I won't attempt to compete with expensive multiple cycle blowers, I feel comfortable saying I could clear any reasonable sized surface faster and better with a wovel than a single cycle snow blower could.  And this is without worrying about fuel/oil mixing and mechanical problems.

Finally, the way I felt when I finished.  A previous shoveling session left me drained, exhausted and sore.  My initial shoveling session with the wovel left me feeling satisfied and invigorated.  I worked my lower and upper body a bit, obviously, but nowhere near the point of fatigue.  There was absolutely no strain on my trunk or neck.  The contrast between woveling and shoveling is, for me, nothing short of staggering.

DC Website Help and Extras / chat blocked
« on: February 16, 2008, 07:51 AM »

So, lately when I try to join the chat, I get this:
You are banned from this server- Temporary K-line 1440 min. - Blacklisted IP found. Visit the website for info. (2008/2/16 08.38)

I know my isp is a small company run by monkeys, and very likely has been abused by people more competent than them (There are so many haaxors here in northern maine...) but why must I suffer? There any way to convince openrbl I'm not a spammer?

I'm surprised no one has posted this here yet, as Aquaria has been out for a couple months now.

Aquaria by Bit-Blot is an independently developed game that exudes brilliance, style and beauty.

It's an underwater exploration/adventure game that really seems to hale back to the glory days of SNES adventuring--but is an experience all its own.  It features a large, open ocean for exploration.  Rather than walking around land in a 3d over head view (ala zelda) or running and jumping (ala metroid), you swim about an open ocean surrounded by gorgeous sea life (hostile and benign alike).  There's a great variety of things to discover -- materials from killed sea life to use for cooking (lots of recipes to discover), treasures/decor for your home, new outfits (most of which are not merely cosmetic but lend you different assistance, from healing to armor).

The games ambience (both aesthetic and aural) is positively stunning.  It's a fun and immersive game well worth checking out.  I haven't finished it yet (I think I'm getting close). . . have bene playing it rather leisurely and have logged 25 hours in game time.  It's fun, yet difficult; brilliant. The pacing is a bit different -- as it's more open than most games I've played, making it easy to find yourself unsure what to do next.  But I've found it a positively enjoyable experience.

A massive ocean world, teeming with life and filled with ancient secrets. Join Naija, a lone underwater dweller in search of her family, as she explores the depths of Aquaria. She'll travel from hidden caves, shrouded in darkness, to beautiful, sunlit oases, all lovingly handcrafted by its two creators.

Naija's story, narrated fully with voice overs, will become yours, as you join her on this magnificent adventure.

DC Website Help and Extras / Tab to Submit
« on: February 08, 2008, 08:21 PM »
From the editor box when replying to a post . . . when I hit tab, I'm not taken to the submit button immediately beneath the text editing field but back to the top of the page.  Is there a workaround (or hope for a fix?) for this?  Interestingly enough, here in the new post maker, hitting tab jumps past all the toggle junk and straight to the Post button. I guess I could just start putting all my posts in new threads :)

Living Room / Freeware Independent Game: Cave Story
« on: July 19, 2007, 10:38 AM »
Cave Story is an amazing little freeware gem--I've played through it once and will very likely play through a time or two more.  But I'll let the more qualified do the gushing--

Cave Story, or Doukutsu Monogatari, is a Japanese freeware PC side-scrolling platformer game developed by StudioPixel. It has been translated into English by Aeon Genesis Translations and will have an official translation script published sometime in the near future.

Cave Story is really one of those games that can be considered a masterpiece of game design. There are so many wonderful and classic gaming elements, that I cannot even begin to describe just one quality well enough to say “It is for this one reason alone that Cave Story is a great game.” There is just so much effort, originality and ingenuity behind this game and it really shows more and more as you play through it.

The developer, Pixel spent five years making this game as fun and as great as it is by adding solid controls, smooth gameplay, a great cast of characters and dialogue, an interesting plot, good music and beautiful old-school 2-D artwork. And on top of all this added multiple endings, several boss battles, tons of items to collect, all kinds of added secret bonuses and special challenges, various and considerably different methods of playing through the game depending on your actions, competition ranking features and an extremely high replay value. For a freeware game it is fairly lengthy too. Cave Story is by far the best freeware game I have ever had the honor of playing through and certainly one of the best games I’ve played.

The gameplay plays like a combination of various NES/Famicom games. Some that come to mind are Metroid, Castlevania, Megaman, Blaster Master and Monster Mash. Pixel’s art style and character design and boss battles are very reminiscent of Treasure games, like Gunstar Heroes, which happens to be one of my personal favorite games of all time. So if you are a fan of any of these titles, then you are in for a real treat. It was a wonderful and addicting experience playing through it and I hope anyone reading this who has not already played this game will give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed. It reminded me of why I enjoy playing videogames.

edited to attach picture:
Screenshot - 7_19_2007 , 11_18_43 AM_thumb.png

fSekrit / Idiotic Antivirus
« on: May 05, 2007, 09:07 AM »
AntiVir PE is driving me absolutely crazy--every time I go near an fsekrit file it pops up alerts: HEUR-DBLEXT/Crypted . . . to the point where I'm about to just uninstall it and not bother with antivirus software :P

Living Room / Wii Browser
« on: December 22, 2006, 06:58 AM »
Making this post from my Nintendo Wii browser--typing is a bit slow but DC looks great!

General Review Discussion / MiniReview: SpaceMonger
« on: September 10, 2006, 09:02 PM »
App Name:SpaceMonger
App URL:
Direct download URL:
App Version:2.1.1
Test System Specs:WinXP-SP2
Supported OSes:Win95/Win98/NT/ME/2000/XP
Support MethodsForum, Email
Upgrade Policy:Annual license
Trial Version:30-day trial period. Periodic nag screen.
Pricing:$USD 19.95
Additional Screenshots:

There are two kinds of people who should read this -- those who obsess over what files/folders are on their computers and those who feel they've lost control over what's on their computer and don't know where to begin cleaning up.

Personally, I'm both.  I've traditionally been very strict about my computer and what's on it but have allowed it to fall on hard times.  Sure, I'd like to clean it up -- but I really don't want to open my file explorer and click through each and every folder trying to figure out what's there and whether it needs to go.  On the other hand, I don't trust a software application to scan my computer, give me a massive list of what I should delete and then trust myself to scan the list and effectively protect what should be, cull the rest.

Today, I stumbled on what seems to be the perfect solution--SpaceMonger.  I downloaded it figuring it was going to be a novel waste of 5 minutes.  The fact that I'm writing this little review is a testament to the contrary.

First off -- what SpaceMonger does not do.  It does not automatically clean up anything.  There's no files or folders suggested for deletion.  No file type bias.  No false positives to worry about.  SpaceMonger is not about baby sitting your computer for you.  You're smart, you need a smart tool.

What SpaceMonger does do . . .

It scans your drive(s) on your computer, collecting file and folder names as well as file types.  It then uses this data to make you as an omniscient god over your data.  Seriously (as serious as I can be, calling you a god anyway).  When I look at my computer as presented by SpaceMonger, I feel empowered.  Before I've even begun to clean up my drive I feel better because I know and see all.

Let me explain.  SpaceMonger, with your data, creates a treemap.  What this treemap shows you is an interactive, zoomable, scrollable map of your data.  Pictured is a small zoomed section of mine, you'll notice several donationcoder applications surrounded by other stuff (some of which I'd probably rather you (or I!) didn't see there.).


I realize my folly already is that I'm going on about how this application, a tool not a toy mind you, makes me feel and I'm not giving you a lot of real information to go on.  It's not that this utility lacks substance, it's simply a matter of "You've got to try it to know what I mean!".  This application reminds me of those unbelievable interfaces you see on computers in movies. "Yeah, that sure would be cool -- but it's unrealistic."

The way it presents your data is amazingly intuitive.  You can scan your hard drive, with your eyes, in the same way you'd scan a collage -- just glance over it, it's all there to be seen.  Something catches your eye, double click it for it to zoom to fit the screen.  Something within that catches your eye? Zoom in further. Not what you were looking for? Zoom back out, scan around some more.  Enjoy your bird's eye view of your computer.

Found a folder that you know needs to go, delete it.  A folder of old memories you want to browse, open it.  No going back and forth among folders. It's all presented immediately.  You zoom in, you zoom out; everything is shown in context.

You're not just looking at your hard drive, remember -- you're now god and your data is your minion.  You can destroy.  You can examine.  You can move.  You can simply observe from a distance.  Literally, I mean from your pedistal you can quickly and easily move, delete and otherwise manipulate the files/folders.

If not interested in all of your creation, you can hide things.  The most handy application for this, for me, is when culling my hard drive.  I see something I like, that I want to keep, I hide it.  I elminate good things, delete bad things.  This can all be done via your right click context menu. You may also be glad to know the most useful features also have convenient keyboard shortcuts to further expedite progress.  Worth mentioning, you can further filter your view  based on name, date (specific or range) and size.


Outside the treemap, you can view statistical data about your files.  A pie chart will break down your data: programs, documents, windows, personal data, etc. You can even use the pie chart to manipulate data on your Treemap.  Right click a slice of the pie to select all the files under it (they'll be listed in a pane on the bottom) or hide the files in the treemap.


A bar graph of file sizes will let you know what's taking up the most space. (Big files, small files).  More "Oooh, data!" than "Powerful Tool!" but it's there whatever the case.

These statistics may not serve any -great- purpose, but what geek doesn't thrive on data?

Since you're probably a PC power user or at least aspiring to be one, you very well may be thinking "What a great tool, would be especially handy when trying to find something on a friends computer when I'm fixing it for them -- I don't know where they store their data!" -- SpaceMonger is designed so that you can install it to any volume -- even non-rewritable.  You can put this power tool on your SuperGeek CD or USB drive.

Finally, SpaceMonger is configurable.  There are many different ways of viewing the treemap -- whether you want files shown proportional to their size or if you want everything shown homogenously -- option is yours.  You can also fully customize the colors, fonts, borders, you name it.  You can stand and lovingly view your computer in whatever light you wish to see it.  There's a good chance that, while sufficient in terms of contrast, the default color scheme makes you think "yuck". I'll admit I'm not fond of the pastels.  I think I'll go with earth tones.


SpaceMonger bears an affordable 19.95 USD price tag.  You'll find real information, additional screenshots and the webstore at

Living Room / Hi
« on: September 08, 2006, 06:39 PM »
After a few pings from mouser, occasional peaks in at the forum, and never missing a newsletter -- I'm back.  Officially, I never left . . . I just got distracted.  My free time decreased by a good bit (not something GTD could help with, more a matter of my wife working longer hours and son demanding more attention.  My remaining free time has largely been divided between web projects I'm obligated to and a video game.  Shameful!

I'll try not to disappear for a while.  In the mean time, could someone give me a way to turn off the rich editor buttons when making message? :P

General Software Discussion / EditPad Pro 6
« on: May 27, 2006, 07:26 AM »
I've been beta testing EditPad Pro version 6 for a number of months now and have been very enthusiastic about the release -- many of the features lacking in this already stellar editor have been implemented.  The biggest additions, or at least the ones I've most commonly heard listed as shortcomings by other users, is full macro support and an extensive upgrade to its external tools support including full support of standard I/O.

There is a free trial version available -- price goes up in July, so buy it now if you love it :)

Below is the list of major additions, scraped from the version history page.

  • New file panel (View menu) showing a tree of files inside projects. This makes it much easier to manage large numbers of files.
  • New explorer panel (View menu) making it easy to open files without going through File|Open.
  • FTP support (View menu). Open files from FTP, save files to FTP and upload/download files from/to disk.
  • File history (View menu). Easily manage and compare backup files. New backup options in Options, Preferences, Files.
  • File navigator (View menu) showing an outline of the file's structure, based on fully editable .jgfns files. The .jgfns file can also generate automatic text folding points.
  • Keystroke macros: Record and play back sequences of keystrokes and/or menu items to automate repetitive editing tasks.
  • Redesigned search-and-replace panel, with all commands and options now available through the new Search menu.
  • Improved rectangular block editing or column editing, with many new commands in the Block menu. Rectangular selections are now truly rectangular. They no longer need to start and end at a character, but can extend beyond the end of the line.
  • Redesigned Project functionality. EditPad Pro can now keep multiple projects open. Once saved into an .epp file, changes to a project are saved automatically.
  • Extra|Compare Files: New output options that can be used in addition to or instead of creating a new tab with the merged contents. Highlight changes in the original files, create a new file with only removed lines, with only added lines, with only removed lines, with both added and removed lines, or with only lines that both files have in common.
  • Fold menu: A block of text can now be folded, keeping only the first line visible. File navigation schemes can define automatic folding points. Commands to copy only the visible lines in the selection to the clipboard, and to delete all the lines in the selection that were made invisible by the code folding.
  • Improved syntax coloring. All JGsoft-supplied schemes are now fully editable .jgcscs files. Syntax coloring is now applied in the background. If your scheme is too complex or the file too large, syntax coloring will temporarily disappear rather than temporarily locking up EditPad Pro.
  • External tools can now be configured through Tools|Configure Tools instead of Options|Preferences. A great number of new options, including a new message panel with syntax coloring, are now available.
  • Install on Removable Drive command, so you can carry EditPad with you wherever you go.

Link: EditPad Pro

Living Room / nontroppo
« on: May 06, 2006, 06:46 AM »
I'm really slow.  I mean -really- slow.  Like, if I got my IQ tested I think I'd score a "durr" this week.

Trying to figure out some keyboard stuff for opera, I went to the Opera Browser Wiki at as I so often do and found a link to FARR.  I scurried back here to see if a link had been posted and just realized user "nontroppo", who I'd been referred to about bug reporting previously, is none other than said  Needless to say, I got to make this post instead of a "Hey, look what link I found!" post.

I'm really slow.  I mean -really- slow.  Like, if I got my IQ tested I think I'd score a "durr" this week.

Living Room / Web Hosting Review
« on: May 05, 2006, 07:31 AM »
In an overt-cover operation, dreamhost exposes "hosting review" services for the pay-for-bias goldmines they are.


Developer's Corner / PHP Frameworks
« on: April 27, 2006, 08:58 AM »


This is a relatively lengthy blog entry.  Generally it's about the pros and cons of various php frameworks which, refreshingly, emphasises thinking for yourself and finding what, if anything, suits your needs.  It touches on a few other php related issues (and takes a nice stab at Ruby :) as well.

"This post discusses the existing PHP Web development frameworks.
It provides advice on what criteria is relevant when choosing a framework that addresses the needs of each PHP developer.
It also explains why certain frameworks seem very popular while others are not getting as much attention as their developers hoped.
Finally it mentions a long list of packages and tools that make up the framework that is used to implement the PHPClasses site."


While you health nuts are posting your this or that will kill you warnings, I've got this one to fire back :)

Coffee lovers can drink up without fear of increasing their risk of heart disease, according to a major new study that found people could consume as many as six cups a day without upping their risk.
 So the best answer is, if you enjoy coffee and you drink four to six cups a day, it's not going to cause you heart disease."

. . . this would be great news to me, drinking 2 pots a day, if I didn't love cigarettes so much :)

Living Room / Opera 9 Beta
« on: April 20, 2006, 08:54 AM »
Opera 9 has been under development for a while, and preview builds have been available -- but for those too cautious to use pre-beta software but not cautious enough to avoid betas, Opera 9 beta is now out.

Opera Software today announced the first public Beta of Opera 9. This version includes Widgets, small Web programs running in their own windows that are fun, easy-to-use and live on users' desktops. The Opera 9 Beta also features support for BitTorrent, a popular file downloading technology, in addition to an easy-to-use content blocker and thumbnail previews of tabbed sites.

Press Release
Windows Beta Download

I made an admittedly simplistic widget for it.

Living Room / Access all your bookmarklets at once
« on: April 16, 2006, 05:35 PM »
Blummy is a bookmarklet that unifies all your bookmarklets (and other JavaScripts, like pageRank for example) in a single bookmarklet -- launch it and you get a central control panel to all of them, remotely hosted for universal access and highly configurable.  You can drag and drop "blumlets" from their library of user created items or create your own -- whether just a quick search or a full blown bookmarklet.


I'm also glad to report that it works just fine with Opera, for the most part -- occasionally there'll be little cosmetic issues, but usually a reload or relaunch of blummy will fix it.


Find And Run Robot / Name Display problem with group items
« on: April 16, 2006, 04:23 PM »
I've got a group for launching xplorer2 in a couple different modes.  The regex matches fine, the launcher matches fine, but I'm having trouble with the text display.  I'm assuming I'm missing an error somewhere, but . . . I can't find it, so:

Explore $$1|c:\Program Files\zabkat\xplorer2\xplorer2_UC.exe "$$1"
Flatten $$1|c:\Program Files\zabkat\xplorer2\xplorer2_UC.exe "$$1" /F:1
Find $$1|c:\Program Files\zabkat\xplorer2\xplorer2_UC.exe "$$1" /F:1 /L

If I remove the $$1 from the names, it works fine -- it displays explore/flatten/find.  But with the variable inserted, it truncates things as shown in this screencapture:

truncated names.png

No matter what size I make the column, it gets trimmed like that.  Is it a bug or user error?

Living Room / Flash Games: GrowCube Series
« on: March 31, 2006, 09:34 AM »
There are a series of "GrowCubes" by the same author -- if you haven't played them, explaining is difficult.  But the general idea is, you start with a cube (not always a "cube" per se, depending on version) and proceed to click on one of several items.  Depending on the order they're clicked, different growth combos will happen on the cube you started with.  Clicking them in the proper order (difficult and time consuming to deduce!) will get you the final product -- until then, you just get different combos and watch it grow.

It's absurd, addictive and immensely challenging.  Oh, and fun.

GrowCube v 3

He has a bunch of other really . . . interesting stuff.  The GrowCubes are my favorite though.

Living Room / Zelda and the Collecting of Pills
« on: March 29, 2006, 06:59 PM »
It's PacMan with a Legend of Zelda twist, featuring the music and graphics of SNES Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Living Room / Eets
« on: March 28, 2006, 10:44 PM »
Eets is a brand new game for the PC that plays something like lemmings but with the zany personality and graphic style of Worms.  It's a real delight to play.  Adding icing to the cake, it comes with a robust level editor so you can create your own levels to share online with friends or via their online community. A time limited ( 1 hour ) demo is available for download, it's worth checking out.  I have to warn you, though, after spending that hour with Eets, you'll probably be strongly considering the 20 dollar price tag . . . I am. :)

Living Room / Downloading your Gmail Account
« on: March 20, 2006, 09:43 PM »
There's been talk here and, really, all over the net about backing up Gmail locally -- largely because a few people have fallen prey to what seems to be spontaneous combustion of Gmail accounts.  While some of these may very well be the result of violations of terms of service, I know I for one lost my account without ever violating any ToS and was given neither warning nor later justification for my loss off account.

That said, I personally feel anyone who uses gmail and values the information they keep on their account should take care to keep a backup of said data.  It is a bit ironic, if not counter-productive, to backup locally something that urges you to "archive everything" and enjoy universal remote access -- unfortunately, all that convenience and archival is meaningless if you don't have an account.  Unfortunately, sometimes gmail accounts just die.

Gmail does provide POP3 access to your account which, if nothing else, services are a rather efficient means of backing up your data.

Just go to your settings, select the POP/Forwarding tab, and make sure you select "All Mail" (even already downloaded) -- this will release all your mail for download to a third party client so you can download away.  Just follow the setup instructions provided for your mail client of choice.

The real reason I started this thread is the following, tiny bit of information--because it threw me off at first.  Gmail doesn't release all of your mail immediately.  It releases blocks for 200 - 400 messages at a time.  So when you go to download and it says it's downloading 300 or so messages, don't be alarmed.  Next time you check your mail, it'll grab another block -- and so on.  If you have a big gmail account, your best bet is to set your e-mail client to download every minute or two and just leave it running overnight.  Eventually, it'll download them all.  From there on out, it's easy street -- just downloading your daily mail traffic.

Any seasoned computer user knows the value of backing up data (even if they don't actively pratice it :) -- gmail is no different.

Developer's Corner / Highlighting Changes in Files
« on: March 01, 2006, 10:10 PM »
It's taken a bit, but I've finally managed to implement a change highlighter in my wiki script.  The final approach is actually quite a bit simpler than my previous attempts and the result is much more accurate.  I'm exceptionally excited about it simply because it was such a nuissance to implement   :-[

The only "problem" I have is when a file contains identical lines -- it doesn't detect adding/removing identical lines.  Addressing this would, i think, be rather difficult and not particularly useful.

For the curious--
function compFiles($file1,$file2) {
  $array1 = file($file1);
  $array2 = file($file2);
  $same = array_intersect($array1,$array2);
  $same2 = array_intersect($array2,$array1);
  $removed = $array1;
  foreach($same as $num => $val ) {
  $added = $array2;
  foreach($same2 as $num => $val) {
  function compCol($value,$action) {
    if ($action == 'add') $color = '#efe';
    elseif ($action == 'rem') $color = '#fee';
    else $color = '#fff';
    $value = '<div style="background:'.$color.';">'.$value.'</div>';
    return $value;
  $same = array_intersect($array2,$same);
  $added = array_intersect($array2,$added);
  $counter = 0;
  foreach ( $same as $num => $val ) {
  foreach ( $added as $num => $val ) {
  foreach ( $removed as $num => $val ) {

Mini-Reviews by Members / BatchFTP
« on: February 11, 2006, 03:48 PM »
Once upon a time, I used BulletProof ftp religiously -- it's small, straight forward, no frills, gets the job done . . . and a solid 30 bucks.  Too bad I lost my registration and they can't retrieve it for me.  I also spent a few years toying with various versions of CuteFTP/CuteFTP Pro -- a solid FTP client, but with a bit of a shocker price tag if all you need to do is upload a few files now and again.

A couple years ago, I stumbled into a new FTP client, largely unheard of and still in very early beta.  I was skeptical, when I could find no ties to a public version prior to 6 or 7 -- but decided to give it a whirl -- after all, I was in the market for an FTP client and "free beta" was just the right price.  I loved it, then I was away from my computer . . . but this last week, when I was unable to chmod via ftp.exe, I re-discovered BatchFTP when I remembered they'd sent me a 50% discount code for my beta input.  I was too late to claim the code, but quickly send them my money-- BatchFTP more polished than ever with a few new features, to boot.  Listen: If you maintain a website, I think you should download it.  Really.

I'll warn anyone trying it for the first time -- your first few sessions will most likely feel a bit awkward and you'll wonder if I know what I"m talking about, lending my approval to BatchFTP.  You're going to need to let her be your primary client for at least a few days, preferably a week or two, to really appreciate how valuable she is.

That warning aside, I'll say this -- I've tried pretty much every client that has a free trial over the years -- and think I know what to expect.  Each client will have its own unique features, but there are quite a few things that are generally identical from one client to another -- namely the connection manager.  You open a folder/tree panel or popup and save ftp connections, maybe making duplicates with different default folders, to account for separate projects.  This is where BatchFTP threw me at first.  There isn't an immediate connection manager.

Instead, you go to create a new connection and it brings you to a "Batch Properties" editor.  This is not only the name of BatchFTP, but the heart and soul of it -- the aspect of it that sets it apart.  So pay attention, here, this simple connection setup is important.


It's simple enough, you input your server settings like any other ftp connection.  You move on to the file transfer tab and setup the default local and remote folder, toggle on a log file if you want one and set the "Overwrite Policy" -- this single option is very important if you want to be left with a good impression of BatchFTP. 


See, BFTP doesn't use one rule for overwrites across the program -- it's based on the batch itself.  If you're going to want to overwrite these files in the future, select always overwrite, prompt or date smart.  Before I noticed this option, I uploaded a file many times wondering why nothing was changing . . . Silly me!  Move on to the next tab, you can set up some file filters if you don't want to see .txt files or images or . . . well, whatever you don't want to see. 

Then finally the Advanced tab -- this is important.  Not so much now, but keep it in mind.  First, let me explain something --> BatchFTP immediately assumes you're going to be uploading and downloading the same files over and over again, as if you're going to update your script or website in the future.  If there's a lot of stuff to upload, you might want BFTP to close after its done.  Or you might want it to launch a program, maybe your browser, when its done.  Or you might want your computer to shut off, since you yourself are already fast asleep.  You can do this here.

I'd mentioned that BatchFTP assumes you might not want to watch it while it uploads . . . It also assumes that you may not want to coddle this along.  It assumes you may want to be out drinking that night when the update needs to be made.  Here's the sweet spot -- see, when you select a file for upload, it doesn't upload (unless you turn off Batch Mode, but who'd want to do that?) -- it queues it.  When you're satisfied with you queue, you can hit F5 and send the files to the server -- but, hey -- you have BatchFTP, you have windows -- let BatchFTP insert an item in windows scheduler.  When the time is right, BatchFTP will wake herself up, send the files on their merry way, and then shut herself and if you want your computer down.  It couldn't be easier.


Need to update the website again next week? Items aren't deleted from queue! That batch is saved, buddy.  You can add to it, remove from it, reuse it as is -- Batch to your heart's content.

Other than weekly sending my fSekrit files and a few other things to the server for backup, I don't use the automated stuff, I don't have deadlines.  But I do have batches for all my web projects.  When I load the batch, all the files I routinely update are already in queue, I don't have to scroll around looking for them.  I just check a box in front of the ones I want and send them on.  It saves a lot of time.  It works slick.


Most FTP clients do support some or all of these features, some more than others -- but in every other case I've encountered, batch operations and automata are afterthoughts.  BatchFTP is built around the idea that you're going to upload the same files more than once and it is streamlined to support this ideology.

Both times I've picked up BatchFTP, after the initial "Getting used to" time, I find myself preferring it over the slim BPFtp; over the powerful but convoluted CuteFTP; and over the somewhat clunky, albeit free, FileZilla -- I won't continue trying to apply names to all the rest, you get the idea.

Bottom line, BatchFTP is an elegant, effective, time saving FTP client for both the power user and low-maintenance hobbyist.  The only thing left to discuss is the price -- which, despite all the love I feel it deserves, is -not- 49.95.  It's not even 29.95.  Ladies and gentlemen, it's not 19.95.  All this automata, this convenience, this FTP wonder . . . is a mere 14.95 -- and that license means you can use it on not one, but two computers.  You can't beat that with stick, no sir.

For further information (or just to distance yourself from my gushing), wander on this way...
BatchFTP Home
BatchFTP Screenshots -- Lots of them, with annotation
BatchFTP Tutorials

Mini-Reviews by Members / GeminiSoft Pimmy
« on: February 10, 2006, 07:05 AM »
Historically, Pimmy has been an incredibly small mail client designed with portability in mind.  Drop the program's folder on a floppy disk or, in this day and age, USB flash drive and you're ready to go.  As of this morning, Pimmy is officially version 4.0 -- and packing quite a wallop for its mere 750k!

I've always felt the need to try nearly every mail client to be released, even when completely happy with the one I'm using, so I've tried quite a few.  I've used more powerful clients than Pimmy . . . and I've used smaller clients than Pimmy -- but I have never used something that was this small and powerful.

Pimmy is happily suited to handling multiple e-mail accounts and streamlines this with filtering capabilities more powerful than most "full" mail clients I've used (not all mind you, most), can be used for reading/replying to newsgroups, and fetches RSS feeds.  Aside from these bigger things, they haven't missed the details either -- little things are present, like the ability to configure multiple sender profiles with unique reply to info and signatures; a plethora of keyboard shortcuts for common tasks and even the ability to rot13 or password encode blocks of text in the composer.

The way you organize things in Pimmy is a bit different from the traditional approach, and I think it works really well.  It's a tabbed interface, not a true MDI -- switching tabs swaps your entire view. 


Create a tab for your RSS feeds, another for your newsgroups, another still for your work mail and one for your personal mail.


Pimmy 4.0 isn't free, as previous versions of Pimmy were -- a license will cost you twenty USD but I have no qualms with that.  Pimmy has always been a remarkable application and unrivaled for a portable mail client.  This release raises the bar further, making Pimmy 4.0 capable of accommodating full-time, rather than just on the go, use.  The caveat there, is with a large mail base (thousands of messages) she can get a little slow if you're selectively viewing messages ( ctrl+g to filter messages by text/subject, ctrl+h to filter by read/unread).  In this day and age of gmail, I find myself not needing a larger more resource intensive mail client as I once did.  I use Pimmy for the every day downloading/reading and leave my archiving to gmail. Which brings to light another caveat--Pimmy doesn't natively support SSL, but they do have a nice quick guide to using "Stunnel" to connect to SSL servers.

Bottom line, Pimmy is an excellent choice for on-the-go users or users who need something small but effective for home and on the go.  It's not a great choice for e-mail pack rats who like to keep all their mail in the same place over the years, it's just not geared to handle that kind of bulk.

You can...
 View What's New in Pimmy 4.0
View the Full Feature set
Download Pimmy

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