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26  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 16, 2009, 12:38:13 PM
Quote
Anybody able to come up with a better name for this so we can call it done?
Bar be cue?
Grin I want to congratulate you on one of the more inventive puns I've come across lately.
27  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 15, 2009, 03:18:06 PM
if you have a lot of meters configured, back that file up for the time being.

I assume I have to back up any file I don't want to lose... I've had programs that ran perfectly - and some other app that didn't even have any business in that folder came along and deleted files on me. That has happened to me almost as often as, ummm, that well known technical issue: operator error. Grin

I will wait to post about this until the bug has been fixed, though. Too many of my fellow writers have a distressingly unfounded faith in the infallibility of anything digital. I know someone whose only copy of their 300,000 word novel was on their hard drive, and someone else who had fifteen years' worth of work they left on floppies. Notice the tense I used...

Quote
Try the latest and see if this is what you had in mind:

Exactly like that. I'm impressed.

28  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 14, 2009, 11:45:09 AM
It looks great to me! You even made it portable. And I like the tray functionality. That makes it easy to access whenever you want to check it out. It makes a very excellent tool. Thmbsup

I did think of one feature some people might find useful, assuming it can be added easily. An option to add a line (below the title or at the bottom of the meter) with a deadline is something I suspect some users will ask for, although personally I'd find it a bit like decoration on the icing on the cake - nice enough, but the cake is just as sweet without it. smiley

Is it okay to spread the word about this, or would you rather I wait?
29  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 12, 2009, 11:24:13 PM
It looks great to me! smiley When it's ready, I know a lot of people who might be interested in this, if you don't mind my mentioning it on a certain forum. (I'd give a quick explanation of the idea behind DC, too, of course.) Your idea looks much easier than editing HTML all the time, too.
30  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 11, 2009, 06:14:09 PM
The page that generated the original code is linked above. The image is from static code I edited by hand to set the numbers and percentages, so I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. As far as that goes, I have no problem with standard Windows controls; I just found this and thought I'd try it out to see how easily it worked.
31  Special User Sections / The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009 / Re: The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009 - Preliminary Planning on: April 09, 2009, 05:39:17 PM
In the end, I believe creative productivity can be pigeonholed into 3 major areas (over-generalizing)

Area 1: Results
Area 2: The Confidence to Fail
Area 3: The Capacity to Salvage a Failed Project to Inspire and Utilize for Future Projects

Personally, I think you've missed a few points. Like ideas. Some people have 'em, some struggle to find them. Also, processes that help you proceed from idea to finished result with as few unpleasant detours as possible. Both of those are major issues for writers, and I'd guess for many programmers as well. Although I do agree your three points are good ones.

Quote
Here I am a bit confused, on one hand you suggested a loose model above and on this end, you suggested a stricter model of an organizer. Could you specify the model you are thinking of? It might help make this vision of yours more concrete and make it simpler for people to agree or disagree upon. (We could make another topic specifically addressing your model)

Perhaps I didn't make this point clear enough. I wasn't suggesting a stricter model, simply pointing out that even a loose model does need a moderator of sorts. Otherwise, it is all too likely to drift into a discussion of the funniest lolcats we've found on the Web, or whatever. And I have seen that happen here, so I know it is not just writers who have this weakness.  Grin
32  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 09, 2009, 04:49:28 PM
1: I didn't have a specific number of meters in mind; personally, I have 11 projects active right now that I'd track with this, but the number might go up or down over time.

I found a web page that generated code, which I was able to play with to put together a HTML page with meters, which might give a better idea what I'm talking about. I'm attaching a screen shot of my HTML page with the type of meters I had in mind.

The essential points are this: The title (top line of each meter), and the last word(s) on the bottom line need to be user specified. The target count would be specified in the beginning; every gain in a project would either be added (650 more words) or the total gain would be updated. The simplest option for the user would be to simply add that day's count, of course. The background and the progress section each need to have custom colours set for them (the lighter background on two are items I'm ready to start editing). I assume calculating the percentage would be pretty simple, as it is a very basic formula (done/target)*100

Custom font colours would be nice but are not as important, especially if at least the basic background and font colours could be set for the overall list. Not sure if that answers all your questions...

(Sorry about the image, I'm not sure what the issue is. I thought I'd used too low a quality setting when I saved, so I did another one. I checked this one first, and it looks fine on my computer. If I click on the image in the "footer" to the message, the result seems okay, too. If I put the image in the message, it appears smeared and blurry.)
33  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 09, 2009, 12:34:02 PM
I posted a similar request recently and it was added to TopBar, a project by dc member jake78:
http://www.donationcoder....m/index.php?topic=13908.0

Actually, I looked over the project you mentioned. The principle is similar, but your idea was for a date based progress bar. While useful in its own right, it is different than what I had in mind. I think I'm just going to have to wait until I learn enough coding. I found a web page that generates HTML/JavaScript to include in a simple HTML page for a meter much like what I want (http://honorless.net/progressbar.htm), so I guess my goal should be to see if I can learn enough about how this page / the meters it generates work to translate the process to something like AutoHotKey, tweak it for the details I want, and have it generate the meters on a transparent window on my desktop. Does that sound like a sane approach, or am I headed up the wrong tree?
34  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 09, 2009, 11:07:49 AM
Hey, thanks! I'll go take a look at that.

The really annoying thing (to me) is that I suspect, from the ease of finding progress bars for web pages, it wouldn't be that hard to whip up what I want - if I knew a lot more about coding. I find learning never comes as quickly as I'd like it to. Grin Especially since I do have to do other things in the meantime...
35  Special User Sections / The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009 / Re: The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009 - Preliminary Planning on: April 08, 2009, 02:25:12 PM
A person who drives to the basket for example, will in turn have different variations of the same fundamentals as that of a shooter. Then there's inside and outside scoring. And then there's the whole other thing with trainers and coaches where the fundamentals aren't there to be practiced as skills so much as to be integrated into a team model. Then there's the fundamentals of your team and of your play and of the whole kinds of situation you are placed in. Even a general manager needs to know the fundamentals in order to be effective.
....
This idea that the "best model for the GOE is one that will help every participant discuss and understand all the possibilities, while leaving them the freedom to set personally meaningful goals, then explore the best processes to help them - as individuals with different working styles and needs - achieve those goals." It's great but where does it fit in the entire road map? If anything it's like another month-long project of "Organizing" the Getting Organized Experiment and this month right now seems to be it.

Yet at the same time, right now where and what model to adapt, none of us knows yet and none of us has any idea how to decide. At least, I don't. It seems that is the problem with the loose model but the strict model appears to be awfully unpopular. Right now in this week, we all probably have done no productive things as opposed to even doing unproductive things to pursue this upcoming experiment. It's really a dilemma. (unless someone has already secretly established something without posting it here)

I agree, I did overgeneralise a bit, but the point I was making is still valid. Despite the variations, winning a basketball game still requires focus on one result - and the skills are strongly related. I am hardly enough of a basketball player to give advice on how to accomplish that goal, but the point is that a basketball coach can help their team to do so. If that same coach were to apply the same principles to helping writers write more and better works, or to helping programmers code more and better applications, a few individuals might come away with a few helpful ideas, but overall the results would be underwhelming.

If a writer tried coaching a basketball team (unless they also knew basketball, but let's not complicate this too much), the results would also be pretty pathetic. And neither a writer nor a basketball coach would do much to help a bank increase their revenues. And so on... My point is, "productivity" is a very general goal. It has specifics that may work - in specific areas - but they seldom translate well to other areas. So a system developed for business will only be completely helpful in increasing productivity when it is applied to business tasks. Even the most diehard GTD enthusiast is unlikely to suggest GTD can play a very significant part in creating a winning basketball team. If the GOE is to adopt any type of strict system, it would first be necessary to decide what type of productivity was the goal.

I agree completely that my remarks don't provide a clear goal on any road map, although the outlines of a goal could be inferred between the lines. That is because I believe that before any goal can be defined, the problem must first be understood. And the problem, as I see it, is that creative work, which I believe is what most if not all programmers practice, is not as easily pigeonholed as most other areas. Basketball, it is at least possible to use one system of training to build a successful team. Business, likewise. Why do so many companies offer programmers more flexibility? It isn't because in their secret wishes, all managers are non-conformists. Wink It is because there is no one system by which all programmers can do good work. Music, art, writing - all creative work I know anything about has this in common: one person's system will stifle another person's creativity.

So how do we experiment at all? I freely admit this is my own opinion; others may not like it at all. But my own impression of what would be most helpful would be a month long discussion where everyone who took part tried putting into practice whatever methods appealed to them, then openly discussed what worked for them - and what didn't - and why. That aspect would help others learn. And mutual participation, even if our paths and goals varied, would provide a sense of camaraderie. In addition, those who have the ability to whip out quick, useful apps could put together tools to help in the application of the various methods. The crucial point there is to understand the distinction between cool but ultimately distracting "toys" and tools that offer a real benefit. Whoever led the event would need to encourage as many people, with as many divergent ideas as possible, to take part, moderate and promote the discussion of what ideas worked or didn't work and why, and keep the tools that flowed from the GOE focused at least mostly on the truly useful. Sure, those ideas need refining; I'm not claiming that is anything like a finished picture of what the GOE could be.

As far as sustaining interest, I think most people are interested in anything that can help them do better. One of the reasons I think so many productivity "drives" fail is because they don't take the problems into account. If you adopt a single method, one that only works for half the participants, then only that half that benefited will be enthusiastic. The ones that method failed for will be discouraged; of course they won't keep trying once the month is up. And if you adopt a method that only partially works for a few participants, all the momentum will die, quickly. Keeping interest alive year round is only possible if the month long GOE enables most or all of those who take part to see real gains.
36  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 08, 2009, 01:52:05 PM
If you are using Vista, you might try looking for a sidebar gadget that can do what you are looking for.

Another option is a Yahoo Widget Engine widget. http://widgets.yahoo.com/
These can be made to hide on a separate overlay pulled up with a hotkey, or can be forced to stay visible on the desktop.
I don't know if there is one that is directly what you want, but these are often fairly customizable with respect to colors and things as you asked.

Thanks for the suggestions, but I use XP Pro, and although I can't say I've checked every Yahoo widget, I searched them pretty carefully and didn't find anything that was quite what I wanted. Word counters are actually not that hard to find - for the web. I have never seen anything for a desktop that was at all similar. The closest idea would be the meters in Samurize: the horizontal bar type meters are just about what I'm thinking of. The trouble is they require far too much effort to set up and to update the data. A system will not work if using it is too difficult.

On a side note, although I call this idea a word counter, it could be used to monitor progress on many types of projects. The visual feedback is helpful in getting a quick overview of things. A customisable label after the numbers (that is, for example: 27,253/90,000 words - where "words" is the custom label) could help if some wanted to use it to track different types of projects. The number could represent words, lines, pages, items, stages, messages - whatever the user wanted. I know I can think of many types of projects where such visual feedback of my progress would not only help me keep on top of things, but would also provide encouragement.

I understand the idea may be too much for a coding snack. I was hoping it was not, since Web meters (often code you can cut and paste, inserting your own numbers to update it) seem common. But if anyone can figure out a quick way to do it, it might even be useful for the Great Organisation Experiment, as they are neat little productivity tools. I won't claim they work for everyone; no tool I know of does that. But they do urge a lot of writers I know on when they're tempted to lose steam. I assume there are non-writers who could benefit from a more general version; if the idea suits your personality, any project with a goal that lends itself to a fairly accurate representation of percentage completed could be tracked using such a meter.

Sorry, can't resist the little 'plug' urging someone to see if they can think of a way to do this... Grin
37  Special User Sections / The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009 / Re: The Getting Organized Experiment of 2009 - Preliminary Planning on: April 07, 2009, 06:18:50 PM
What does "productivity" mean? In the narrowest sense, of course, it means producing more items; a factory churns out 10,000 more units of the same model one month than the last. But most people aren't producing identical items. I am not much of a programmer; I can only make a few very minor things work right now. But I have toyed with it just enough to understand it is a creative process. Creativity cannot be measured as precisely as output or profits.

Understanding systems designed for business may be helpful in gaining a general insight into productivity issues, but systems intended for business users will never provide a fully satisfying answer for anyone whose work involves creativity. Most systems tell you to "Focus on what matters." Now, that is a good point, well worth keeping in mind, but what does matter? To the executives of a large corporation, profit is what matters. To the people who work under them, pleasing their bosses is what matters. Yes, some corporations do manage to foster creativity to a certain extent, but no one has ever seriously suggested it is the ideal environment.

To get more creative work done, each individual needs to discover and establish processes that work for them. In one of the posts on this subject, someone mentioned that, if a number of people practice the fundamentals of basketball, most of them will improve. Of course! That is because basketball is a specific skill; everyone practicing has the same goal. Productivity requires different skills, depending on what it is you're producing. I think the best model for the GOE is one that will help every participant discuss and understand all the possibilities, while leaving them the freedom to set personally meaningful goals, then explore the best processes to help them - as individuals with different working styles and needs - achieve those goals.
38  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / IDEA: Desktop progress meter on: April 07, 2009, 04:02:00 PM
I don't know if this can be coded quickly or not, although the basic idea seems simple. I'm looking for something simple that can display a meter on my desktop. Specifically, it must allow for multiple instances / meters. This meter would have a text title, then a progress bar that would indicate a target and the amount completed. Ideally, there'd be a text line underneath with the completed / target amounts. Although I suspect others could use this for other types of projects, I'd use it as a word count meter.

I'd put up meters for every book, article, or story I'm actively working on, listing the title. The meter itself would show targets of, say, 12,000 words, or 90,000, or whatever my target for that work was. Then I'd enter a word count (total if needed, daily if it is easy enough to add this to the previous total) and the meter would display the result. Say, 3,000 words of 12,000, and the bar would be 25% filled. Below, it would read "3,000 / 12,000". Of course, most actual percentages would not be so easily calculated, but that's what a computer is for, isn't it? Wink

Ideally, if this isn't too hard to code (I shouldn't think it would be), I'd like to be able to specify the colour of the meter. If it isn't that hard, different colours for text, progress bar, and filled in portion of bar would be even nicer. In either case, the ideal would be settings for each meter, not just overall settings. (So I could make certain projects stand out, if I needed to.) Oh, and choice of fonts would be nice, rather than putting up with whatever MS decides is the default. But I have no idea how hard this stuff is: I know in HTML it is easy enough to specify fonts and colours, but selecting them from an app isn't anything I've tried playing with yet.

I have a feeling this might make it too complicated, but if not, the ability - just for the filled in progress portion - of being able to set different colours at different "levels" would be a real plus: say, for a particular work, any count under 20,000 would show up as red, any count under 45,000 would show up as yellow, and anything over that would be green. But with custom colour choices.

The idea is to have an easy way (yes, I know, if I go into Samurize and go through enough work - including editing every day when I need to update - I could probably get this) to list all my active projects, with a visual, easily updateable meter and stats on my progress on each. If there's no way around it, a simple pop up window with the information would be better than nothing, but I've found the ability to show something right on the desktop where I can't avoid seeing it at least sometimes to be very helpful. In fact, if it can't be on the desktop (I don't know how hard that aspect would be) the next best option would be to combine this with a routine to pop up the window at set intervals (user choice) headed by a customisable reminder / prompt.

One caveat: I don't want to mislead anyone. Right now, I don't have any spare cash to donate. I'd gladly hand some out to anyone who could do this - but I can't say how long it might take before I have the ability. I do know a lot of other people who could use this, and I'd happily point them to it, along with a plug for a donation - but writers tend to be broke, so I don't know how much result you'd see. Although we are good at understanding the position of others who are struggling to see some reward for their efforts. smiley That may be why I think the idea behind DC is so cool. cheesy
39  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 07:55:34 PM
You can back up your settings to a file so you can restore them if you need to. Gluing the reset button would only cause a problem if you completely lost access to the router via the admin interface.

Thanks, the glue idea is a great one! I already save my settings to a file: one of the first rules of computing I've learned is the one that says: "If you spent any time and effort at all on it - back it up!"

Although, come to think of it, I did lose access to the admin interface on my router once, after a lightning storm. (Yes, I use surge protection. It doesn't seem to have been enough, in this case.) I had to reset to get access so I could restore my settings: but on the other hand, in another month or so, that router just turned belly up and died. A sudden power outage left its replacement unstable - that's why I got a router I could put Tomato in, hoping that would prove a more stable firmware. At least from what I've heard, it is.
40  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 07:51:17 PM
Thanks for the info. It gives me a few things to think about. Although considering what The Roommate is like, nothing that happens on her computer would be far-fetched. I think if she saw an offer for "Free Malware" she'd think that was a good thing and download it. Grin

If your sister is that concerned, the easiest thing to do would be to just order an additional DSL/Cable line and put The Roomate (hmmm...starting to sound like a movie title isn't it?) on a completely different router.

I already thought of that. It would mean a lot less work for me, but poor little roomie would have to pay for the extra Internet connection, which for some reason is presumed to be a bad thing. (Not by me...) My daughter and son-in-law are trying to be nice; they feel bad for the woman. I can't fault them for that. But I do think the woman takes advantage of that. Which is something I'm powerless to do anything about, since I'm assuming any reprogrammable entity would be smarter than that.  Grin
41  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 07:40:40 PM
As for packet sniffing I think for most people that is entering the realms of fantasy unless her room mate is a really knowledgeable hacker. Far more likely that the packets will be sniffed by malicious people on the internet!

I guess I don't know enough about packet sniffing. It isn't exactly anything I've ever wanted to do, and so far I haven't written any high-tech spy / thriller stuff, so never needed to research it. So I just assumed it would be easier / more tempting to snoop on the computer right on the same network with the infected one. As far as how knowledgeable the hackers are who infected / will infect the roommate's computer, well, I suppose they don't need to know much. Just how to make a little button that says something like "Hot Action! Download Now!". Grin

Sorry if my post was confusing above - I thought the room mate would have access to the laptop too

ohmy This is a woman who is quite capable, if she needs a hammer, of picking up the laptop and using it to drive a nail. She's already done things like that - just not quite as costly. It has to be wireless so it can be removed from any area she has access to unless someone is actively using it. (No, I have no idea why my daughter puts up with her.)

PS - most routers are manageable remotely (at least all the ones I have seen are) so you can connect via the internet. You can also set them to email you with any changes made to router setting or other events. Check out the router settings.

But if it is reset to factory defaults, won't that wipe out the setting that tells it to e-mail someone when there are changes?

PPS - I suppose the reset button is present because mostly routers are either locked away or in the home where there isn't a real issue. If it didn't have a reset button and the settings got scrambled or corrupted (which happens) what would you do?

I understand why the button exists - what I don't understand is why there isn't some method of "flashing" the default settings, or at least one or two crucial ones, to allow you to set your own default password, for example. It would give the same functionality, with a lot more security.
42  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 05:24:20 PM
In answer to your question, there is such a thing as packet sniffing. Is this roomate a hacker or network administrator type? If not, I doubt you'll need to fear much from her observing datagrams (assuming she knew what they were) since you'd need a very high degree of knowledge about network protocols to adequately interpret the results.

If she would be stopped by wireless encryption and passwords, then she's not the type of person with the background to do Wireshark and Nessus snooping.

I guess I may not have made my concerns clear enough. I do understand there is no danger of virus / malware infection simply from sharing a router. What I'm wondering is this: since the roommate's computer is - or will be - infected with any and every possible variety of nasty malware ever developed, isn't it possible the hackers who control the malware on her machine could use the machine for packet sniffing? The roommate herself is an idiot. Her boyfriend is more of a concern (he might at least think of resetting the router if he wanted to change anything), but any guy who would hook up with her is not going to be up to packet sniffing. But, if her computer is compromised, couldn't it be used to do anything she herself could do with it (assuming she had the knowledge)?

That's the part that's keeping me wondering. Also, I agree, if there is nothing to be done, then there's no point worrying about it. But I have found enough information to make me believe setting up two separate VPNs, one for the wired ports and one for the wireless, might lessen the risk. So, assuming my concern about the potential remote use of the roommate's computer is not unreasonable, that would seem worth trying out, if I can work out how to do it.

Alternately, if I can't work out how to do that, how much would encrypting data (say, using TrueCrypt, or CryptainerLE) before sending - on both ends, of course - protect against packet sniffing snoops? Does anyone know? That routine would be a real pain for my daughter and son-in-law, but might be worth it if no other solution can be worked out.
43  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 04:38:08 PM
Is your sister's Roomate-from-Hell using her own computer, or will she have access to that new laptop?

If she can't use the laptop, it doesn't matter what she gets up to on her own machine. It can't infect or cause problems on your sister's laptop because you're not sharing any files like she might be if she was connected to the same server as your sister. Merely sharing the same router shouldn't cause problems.

Just make sure you keep her grubby mitts off your sister's laptop and all should be well. Use a BIOS bootup password along with a decent Windows password and you should be all set. Change the workgroup name on the laptop from the default WORKGROUP to something nonsensical so that it's hidden from casual net browsing. For extra security you could also disable File and Print Sharing on the laptop since you won't be needing it anyway.

The roommate is going nowhere near the laptop. If she was going to be allowed to touch it, there'd be no point in having any security at all... And, yes, I'd disable File and Print Sharing on the laptop. But on the sharing a router issue: I keep hearing that alone "shouldn't" be a problem, but here's the thing. Both computers can access this one device, which is handling all the traffic in or out to either machine. So how can anyone be sure one machine can't 'observe' that data flow and collect data from it? What protects the data sent to and from one machine from observation by some app on the other machine? Has anyone actually tested the possibility?

I don't mean any offense. It's just that "I don't know how to do it, and I don't know anyone who knows" is not at all the same thing as "No one can do it". And when the possibility seems as obvious as it does with two machines sharing one connection, I have to wonder. It isn't as though the creeps who write malware and spyware advertise their capabilities; as far as I know, they go to great lengths to hide what they can do / are doing. And if that second machine isn't part of a zombie network already, it sure will be one of these days - I don't think the security researchers who try to collect malware on their machines could do a better job than this woman. Grin
44  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 04:26:02 PM
For security and the reset button issue why not set it up and lock it in a a cupboard. If it fails they can always unplug the mains adapter wait a while and plug it in again. If it is a wooden cupboard the wireless connection shouldn't lose too much power over a short distance.

Thanks, that's one I hadn't thought of, although I'm not sure the spot where the connection comes in allows many options along that line. And even wooden cupboards use metal fittings, so I suppose it would depend on the exact construction / location of fittings just how much trouble I'd have with any given enclosure. Running wires in / out would also be a huge pain. Still, it is at least another avenue to consider.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out if there's some way to monitor the router's settings from Windows. It won't matter much what the roomie does if my daughter and son-in-law are not connected, and as long as their computer can warn them when they connect... Assuming I can figure out a way to do this. I do find it odd no one ever seems to have considered the built in factory reset as a potential vulnerability. What use is it to set passwords for access when anyone with a finger can override the setting? So I wonder if, somewhere out there, this problem has been conquered already, and I just haven't found the answer yet.

For security make sure you enable WPA2+AES if possible in the router and give it a very long unguessable key. Then switch off broadcasting the SSID (network ID) so that no one can see the router and the only way to log into it is to use the invisible SSID and the unguessable key. Make sure you also change the default router password so she can't log in to change settings. You can also set the router to only accept specific MAC addresses so that even if she guesses the WPA key you can restrict the router to the computer containing her wireless card only.

Yes, I will do all that, at least. AFAIK, though, the MAC address is easy to spoof if you have any idea what you're doing, and it is just a matter of time before WPA2 crumbles. Still, I think that's the best I can do for wireless security at the moment. I'll have to hope if WPA2 is replaced by a better standard, I can find a firmware update that will address that. That, at least, is safely in the future. smiley If I can get this up, working, and secure for now, I've at least won the initial battle.

Now on her computer set her up as a a user (not an admin) and encrypt the admin account, giving it a long unguessable password. That way she will only have basic user rights to the system and won't be able to access system settings and devices etc. If you set up her wireless connection there is no need for her to know the WPA key at all unless the connection is lost or damaged.

I may be thick, but I'm not sure I'm clear what you're suggesting here. On my daughter's computer, there's no reason not to let her access an admin account, although her husband isn't ready for that. He hasn't learned what not to touch yet. Grin On the roommate's computer, if I could lock her out of most settings I certainly wouldn't object, Grin but if I could do that this whole thing wouldn't be such an issue.

Yes, I have suggested just telling the roommate she can't use the Internet from there. I would really prefer that, myself, but it isn't my apartment so I can't make that choice. Sad Somehow, I have to face the machine from hell long enough to get it working on the new router. Just touching that keyboard is going to have me soaking my hands in alcohol for hours afterward. Cry Of course, if I can't get it to work, roomie is out of luck - and even playing fair, that thing isn't what you'd call highly functional. It spends most of its time displaying little messages like "Uploading your credit card info to Russian Mob now: Confirm / Surrender All Cash Now" (Yes, I exaggerate, but not as much as I wish I were - the woman spends her life on the kind of porn site where they keep telling you to download their "special" viewers... The thing has so much crap loading on it now it has started throwing up "out of memory" errors when you start it up.)
45  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Tough Router Question on: February 06, 2009, 01:41:33 PM
First, I need to explain the situation. I need to help my daughter & son-in-law set up their new laptop on the Internet. Simple enough, in itself. The problem is their roommate. I don't know if anyone heard of the study where someone put up a link that said something like "Click here to infect your computer with a virus" - but if she came across that site, she would have clicked on the link. (As I recall, almost 400 people did, in a depressingly short time...). Her computer is actually more screwed up than any public access computer I've ever encountered, and for a few years public access computers were my only link to the Net... No point cleaning out the crapware and any malware lurking among it - she'd just mess it right back up again.

 In fact, they got a laptop so they can use it wirelessly, as they don't dare leave a computer out where she might get her hands on it. (She is also hell on hardware: her keyboard is gummed up with peanut butter, she thinks slapping the CPU around is a great move to resolve any technical issues ohmy you get the idea.) My s-i-l is trying to manage his dairy farm remotely (it is several thousand miles away, outside the US), so they need to keep their computer secure. I've already been over-ruled on the obvious non-technical solutions. Wink My daughter would have no idea what to do, and my s-i-l has never even used a computer before. So I really have no choice but to figure something out.

I know just enough to do some research: I figured out my best hope is a wireless router with OS firmware so I can set up the LAN ports as one VPN (the roomie's - might as well give her all, as she's the type who is just as likely to unplug her computer and stick it back in anywhere) and the wireless connection as another VPN (my daughter and s-i-l's). The best available choice seems to be the Linksys WRT54GL (as it happens, I just bought one myself, as my router is ailing). I was hoping to use Tomato, but looking over the documentation that exists online, I don't see how it would be possible to do this with Tomato. Or that could just be my ignorance... embarassed

Which leaves me with DD-WRT. I have two problems with that: first, the documentation I looked over didn't even leave me quite clear which file to download for that router (I think I know, but I do know enough to be aware when updating firmware that is an awfully risky assumption). Second, I have the definite feeling DD-WRT is going to prove a bit more than I'm prepared to take on, or, to be exact, more than I can quickly master. I could probably figure it out, given time. But my daughter already bought the computer, and wants it hooked up ASAP. (They do really need it, so I can understand her urgency.) I really don't think I have the knowledge to get up to speed with DD-WRT that quickly.

Any suggestions on anything else I might be able to do? Also, one further problem. As the roommate has a boyfriend of dubious honesty and at least some technical knowledge, the "factory reset" option seems a very obvious danger (Internet connection, and, thus, the router are in an area everyone has access to). I presume there is no way to disable or password protect this (that would more or less defeat the point) and I can't even figure out a way to monitor the router and pop up an alert if settings reverted to factory default. (Even if I puzzle out how to write a script to do it, once the settings are reverted, the script wouldn't be run, so it would be pointless to run it to check for the one condition under which it won't be run...)

I suspect there are other issues I haven't even thought of; I don't do a lot with networking, so it isn't an area I know much about. I do know wireless security is shaky (again, that factory default issue makes me nervous - that, and the fact they live in an area where everyone tries to get everyone else to install wireless so they can steal a connection). So any thoughts, information, resources, whatever you can offer would really help. I'm sorry for asking questions I ought to be able to find answers to myself - I just don't think I can find and absorb it all quickly enough (especially since some bits of information I've found contradict others, leaving me with the need to learn enough to figure out which ones were written by idiots).
46  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Obama staffers find no Mac love among White House computers on: January 22, 2009, 09:53:29 PM
If I was the U.S. CTO I would mandate use of FOSS. I would mandate the use of Linux. I would then take (most likely the vast majority of) the money formerly spent on proprietary operating systems and software and create a federally funded program for open source developers that work on FOSS to fill the government's needs. I would then work with the EU and the United Nations to coordinate with other such organizations throughout the world.

If were the President, I'd appoint you the CTO of the US immediately upon reading this post.  Grin
47  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: PlayOnLinux might be what the Linux world needs to succeed on: January 22, 2009, 09:37:46 PM
Although I don't have any Windows programs I haven't found equal or better alternatives for under Linux, I'll install it, play around, and come back here.

Should I assume you don't do a lot of word processing? Or do you know of one for Linux I've never heard of? I'm incredibly interested in the idea of finding a really good writing tool for Linux, since that is the one thing keeping me tied to Windows. Sure, I could dual-boot, but I spend far too much time writing - it wouldn't be worth the effort unless I can find something fit for a writer that works under Linux.
48  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Seeking Programming Language To Learn on: January 22, 2009, 09:31:44 PM
Thanks for the info. You've given me a lot to think about. smiley I've already noticed most of what's out there seems pretty similar, and I suspect you're right about getting closer to the machine - but I'm not ready for that step yet. cheesy I want to at least feel comfortable with the idea I can create a program, however limited, before I go that far from shore.

The books you mentioned sound useful; I'll have to check them out. I guess everything looks easier, until you actually settle down to learn how to do it. embarassed
49  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Looking for random map generator. on: January 21, 2009, 07:21:23 PM
I just stumbled across FracPlanet, and thought of this thread. Before you read the page, see that it was written for Linux, and despair - note that it has been ported to Java so there is a platform-independent version available. There is a link to that page, or search on TerraJ - and good luck!
50  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Anyone use RoughDraft? on: January 21, 2009, 02:19:38 PM
A workaround for one of RoughDraft's annoying bugs is available. I use RoughDraft for writing some stories, and it crashes (at least on my system) whenever it is already open and I click on another file to open it - even though RD is capable of having multiple files open at once.

Well, the point is, I put together a very tiny, extremely simple AHK hack to get around this, compiled it, and reset my Registry entries to call this compiled hack instead of RoughDraft. It seems to work, and if anyone else thinks it would be useful, I'll put it up on one of the free hosting services for you to grab. If I'm the only one who uses RD, there doesn't seem to be much point. (And if anyone else uses RD, you've probably already thought of this one: it isn't exactly a complicated idea. I just test to see if RD is open. If not, open with the filename passed; if already open, activate the window, open the File, Open dialog, and pass the filename and OK it. The hardest work was making an icon to let me know what the strange add-on in RD's program folder was for...)
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