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801  Special User Sections / General Review Discussion / Re: UltraEdit Review and Giveaway ($50 value) on: October 16, 2007, 11:45:02 AM
Agreed, UE is the best.
802  Special User Sections / The Getting Organized Experiment of 2007 / Re: Getting Organized Experiment 2007 - starts in November on: October 15, 2007, 04:31:49 PM
Only if you sort descending.

803  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Less Than Worthless Reply From Take 2 Interactive on: October 15, 2007, 12:49:04 PM
In all fairness, you can often get into the BIOS even though the system won't boot, since that term these days is more associated with getting the OS up, rather than the old "basic bootstrapping".

Yup, but keep in mind this came fairly late in the call, after I had established that the machine was stone cold dead, pushing up the daisies, joined the bleeding choir invisible, an ex-computer.

Another favorite call was the time I had to request service for a computer not physically in my presence.  A travelling employee called me for help in getting a power brick replaced, which was necessary because I am the point of contact for Dell.  The tech was completely thrown when I kept insisting I could NOT do any of the tests she requested since the computer in question was 1200 miles away.  But instead of absorbing this fact, she kept plodding through the script.

The penultimate moment came when she finally acknowledged the machine SOUNDED dead, and wanted an address for the on-site visit.  She heard the zip code and sounded surprised: "That's not where YOU are at all, is it?"
804  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Microsoft patches applied - EVEN WHEN AUTOUPDATE IS OFF on: October 15, 2007, 12:41:33 PM
It would be nice to have a little hootchie to turn this stuff on/off easily with a click.

Mmmmm... coding snack?
805  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Leech Attacks on: October 15, 2007, 12:33:31 PM
It occurs to me this will always be a losing battle.  These people are not the sort to read posting guidelines, even if the guidelines are thrown in their face as Tinjaw suggests.  The "gardening" is absolutely necessary but only to prevent aggrivation to legitimate users.

A "containment strategy" if you will...
806  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Less Than Worthless Reply From Take 2 Interactive on: October 15, 2007, 10:56:43 AM
Well said, Tin.  My most pleasant calls to tech support are when the rep listens to what I say and determines I am not an idiot, that I did my homework, and am calling them as a last resort.

My least favorite calls (I'm looking at you, Dell) are when I can't get the rep to deviate from their script.  "Have you rebooted the workstation?" causes me to grip the phone tightly and envision rabid weasels chewing on their entrails. 

One time I called to get an RNA on a laptop that was totally dead, and the tech wanted me to hold the F2 key down while booting and check out some BIOS settings.  I patiently explained that the computer WOULD NOT BOOT, but did that phase them?  No.  The Script Must Be Followed.

Treating customers like hordes of unwanted zombies?  Not a good business plan.
807  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Have any web-based applications replaced desktop apps for you? on: October 15, 2007, 10:16:58 AM
One trend I find particularly disturbing...

There is at least one company out there (name omitted) that markets web-based solutions for government agencies.  Not for the PUBLIC, mind you -- I am all for online registration of car tags, etc. -- but for ENTERPRISE use by gov't employees.

The idea (how their marketers sell it) is that instead of devoting countless IT hours to maintaining big enterprise apps on local servers and hardware, pay us and we'll maintain the thing on OUR servers in far away places.  Via the magic of the interweb, your employees will have access to all their data right in their computer's browser, just like it was "local", but without the hassles of configuring workstations, maintaining servers, etc.

We're not talking about cat licenses here, or when it's legal to water your lawn... this is often patient-confidential data, customer financial data, and lots of stuff critical to the functionality of the agency in question.

Think about that for a second.  Potentially YOUR data (depending on which state you live in the US) is being hosed back and forth over the internet daily as part of the normal business operations in some agencies.

Security issues aside, why is this a bad idea?

Has anyone noticed that the intertube is not necessarily 100% reliable?  What happens when some script-kiddie gets mad at (say) the state of California and DOS attacks the frack out of the state servers?  I'll tell you: nobody gets any work done.

Of similar concern: what if the vendor goes out of business?  The data's all stored on THEIR servers.  Sure, contingency plans exist (e.g. "in the event of operational shut-down a copy of the data shall be delivered to the customer") but that's little comfort if you don't have a crack IT staff standing by to rebuild your enterprise.  And that's assuming the customer even GETS the data -- I've personally witnessed situations where the customer ended up with nothing.

A better solution would be to run the vendor's wonderful software inside the firewalls, on state-owned hardware.  But that's not the business model that sells, apparently, because none of the customers I know using this product operate that way.

It's a disaster waiting to happen, many know it, but are powerless to do anything. I know, because some have tried.  It seems the interlink is a Bright Shiny Object that overcomes rational thought, at least for some folks.

Sorry for the rant, but this situation has been on my mind since this thread started. It's not a condemnation of web-based apps, far from it... just an observation that not everyone is immune to the power of marketing bad ideas. 
808  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: CD Earth picks up where ThinkAll left off on: October 15, 2007, 09:58:59 AM
Criminals is stupid.
809  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: do you use any system to read/write faster(speed reading/autocompleter)? on: October 15, 2007, 09:53:44 AM
I liked Phrase Express (free edition) when I experimented with text expansion:
810  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Leech Attacks on: October 15, 2007, 09:50:54 AM
A big clue is oftentimes the subject line itself.  A carefully worded subject ("How do I use Windows BitBlt to create a mask?") means I'll take a look, whereas a poorly worded one ("HELP!") gets ignored.

One of my favorite articles:
811  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Strange customer... on: October 15, 2007, 09:45:52 AM
Thanks for the update!  Hope all turns out well.
812  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What is the currently best Desktop Search software? on: October 15, 2007, 09:31:46 AM
Okay, based on feedback from Armando and Darwin, I'm giving Archivarius another try.  Perhaps what I experienced was an anomaly.  I really like what I saw, and if it's snappier than X1 I'm willing to give up X1's prettier interface and some of its advanced queries.

If I decide I want to buy Archivarius, is there any place it can be had for a discount?
813  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Use video RAM as a swap disk? on: October 15, 2007, 09:12:33 AM
The number of files in a single dataset can get up to several 100.000 entries. Big networks could deliver several millions.

How many searchable bytes per entry?  100?  1000?  100 * 2M = 200 megabytes, still within the realm of keeping all the indexes within system RAM.  The best way to optimize disk I/O is to avoid it. :-)

Stop me if you've heard this before, but optimization in and of itself is a game of diminishing returns.  You can spend hours shaving tenths of a second off a routine -- is it worth it?  Maybe, if that code is run inside an inner loop.  But knowing WHERE to optimize is most of the trick.

Personally I'd look at trying to pre-identify which data is most likely to be needed most often.  Using some kind of date parameter can be helpful in some cases, like a movie database.  Prioritize newer movies/entries so their indexes stay in RAM, move the older stuff to the disk-bound indexes.
814  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Less Than Worthless Reply From Take 2 Interactive on: October 15, 2007, 09:02:40 AM
My initial take: not evil, just stupid.  Typical customer support fuster-cluck overseen by ill-trained, low-pay, front-line "support" techs.  Chances are your real issue never ran the gauntlet to somebody with any real power to fix anything.

Like that makes you feel any better...
815  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What is the currently best Desktop Search software? on: October 14, 2007, 11:01:31 AM
Whelp, I tried Archivarius -- it lasted about 30 minutes on my system before I undeleted it.

- Trial edition runs 30 days; groovy.  Should be plenty of time to evaluate it and compare side-by-side with X1.

- Trial edition only indexes 10,000 files.  Whaaaa..?  I mean, I have folders with more than 10,000 files in them.

- Whenever I did a search against my puny 10,000 file index I'd get a result pane full of stuff.  And it was QUICK.  Whoa, pretty.  Very cool looking. 

- Scrolling within that list was insanely slow, and displayed a pop-up "please wait" kind of dialog with a countdown calibrated in .1 second increments.  Sometimes the dialog would be there for 2 or 3 seconds, sometimes less than half a second.  Almost EVERY TIME I scrolled or did anything the stupid dialog popped up.  This behavior almost gave me siezures; I'd go for the mouse to click on something and up it'd pop.  D'oh!  I'd wait for the dialog to clear, click on something else... click again... wait... wait... no dialog.  Hm.  Clicky and... D'oH!! 

- If it does this with a measly 10,000 files, what'll it do after indexing 2TB of local files?

So it's gone.  I maye have been a bit quick with the uninstall, but honestly I was starting to react emotionally to this software, and not in the good way.

Apologies to anyone who's an Archivarius fan, I really REALLY wanted to like it.  X1 is slow sometimes but I'll take slow over annoying any time, any place.  I'm sticking with X1 unless somebody can tell me there's some secret "Do Not Be Annoying" switch I failed to notice for Archivarius.
816  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What is the currently best Desktop Search software? on: October 13, 2007, 08:50:18 PM
Is Yahoo desktop search still based on X1?
817  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: PocketPC or Palm? on: October 13, 2007, 08:47:13 PM
Verizon usually will not from my experience no matter what.  They tell their salesmen that it won't work at all without a data-plan.  It is a bunch of crap, but it is a requirement for them to sell it at the price listed.

Why am I not surprised?  When my wife died (some time ago) I tried to cancel her Verizon cell phone account.  The customer support rep tried to talk me into keeping it!  It was surreal.  Then, when he sensed his sales pitch was failing he switched tactics and told me that cancelling the contract would incur a $175 "penalty" and that it would be cheaper for me to just keep the phone service going!


Yeah, Verizon's a top notch organization.
818  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: PocketPC or Palm? on: October 13, 2007, 08:32:18 PM
Dont take this the wrong way, I still greatly value your input smiley

No problem!  The only thing I use my phone for is making/receiving calls -- for exactly the reasons you cite.  I didn't even want the stupid camera.

819  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: PocketPC or Palm? on: October 13, 2007, 07:54:15 PM
The problem with using a SmartPhone device is that I have to pay more for plan JUST TO SUPPORT the device. I cannot use a standard family plan like I have now, I have to upgrade to a data plan. This is why I want a standalone palm/pocketpc type device.

I can understand that.  However, those rules apply only if you plan to surf the web via the phone.  All the other stuff they do (so long as the data stays within the phone) does NOT require any fancy "data" plans, no matter how hard they try to get you to believe.

Now, will they sell you a smart phone without a data plan?  I can see that being a battle, or maybe not.  Depends on the carrier.  AT&T sold me a camera phone even though I explicitly turned down their data plan so I could transmit pictures via SMS.  (But for awhile I thought the sales critter's head would explode.  "Why not you want send pix?  Everyone send pix.  You not send pix.  But everyone send pix.  Man sure not want send pix?")

Fun fact: If you see a phone sold by your carrier that you want, but don't need a new/different plan than what you already have, you can often go on eBay and buy an "unlocked" version of that phone.  Brand new, factory warranty, often for cheaper than the carrier's price.  Swap your SIM chip into the new phone and ta-da, you're done.  As far as EvilExpensiveWireless Co. is concerned you're still using the old phone.
820  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: PocketPC or Palm? on: October 13, 2007, 03:16:43 PM
Many cell phones have these kinds of features along with qwerty keyboards.  Maybe contact your cellular provider and see if you're due for a phone upgrade?
821  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: ASUS bring out motherboard with built in Linux and Firefox - 15s boot time! on: October 13, 2007, 03:13:50 PM
There's something VERY appealing about being able to boot your computer even if drive C: is toasted, without resorting to bootable CDs.
822 Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Use scroll lock LED as hard drive indicator on: October 13, 2007, 01:31:30 PM
I tried to find something like that a few years ago and discovered that there's something about my USB keyboard that doesn't like having its LED toggled numerous times a second.  Either the LED would get stuck in a particular state, or the keyboard itself would go nuts requiring a reboot.

I gave up and ended up using FloatLED:
823  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Strange customer... on: October 13, 2007, 01:26:25 PM
All you need to do is assemble a quotation for the additional work and send it to him.  Estimate the number of hours it'll take you (+ 25% since these things ALWAYS take longer than anyone thinks) then send it to him for approval.  Keep it polite.  Tell him if he wants the work done, all he has to do is approve the quote via email and you'll jump on it, with delivery by date x.

It'll accomplish a couple of things: (1) indicate that the party is over, no more "minor mods" for free, (2) shows in a professional manner that you disagree with his definition of "minor" without making a big deal of it, and (3) serves as a defacto contract that you can wave around later for payment.  If he agrees, and you deliver, you're owed the money.  Period.

Of course this won't replace a real contact if/when that comes, but it'll cover this small bit of extra work.
824  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Use video RAM as a swap disk? on: October 12, 2007, 10:47:26 AM
Why would you cache playback for a movie file? You'd need to have a really crappy disk system to have video playback be a problem (except CPU-wise, for HD content). Guess it might be a difference if you have uncompressed HD video, but then you're most likely running off high-end hardware anyway smiley

Heh.  It's not that I *want* to cache the whole thing, that's just what happens with my configuration.  It's eerie to see the disk spin for a bit, the video start, then no further disk activity.  On a really humongoid file.

Theoretically my Windows system files (including the registry) are being cached in RAM thanks to SuperSpeedStupidName II.  I am forced to guess because there's no easy way to interrogate the utility to see *what* it's cached.  But it utilizes a "most frequently accessed" mechanism so it makes sense.  Aaaaand, bottom line, my system is way snappier with it turned on.

Using a ramdisk for compiles is pretty nice, too bad that ramdisks are fixed-size.

I actually started the quest for faster disk access by investigating RAM disks.  Allocating even 1G (from my available 3.25G) worked fine, and for experimentation I set up some .bat files to copy my development projects to the fake disk for testing.  Upon startup it took about two minutes to move all the files (booo) but compiling was very much faster, especially when the linker kicks in and thrashes the disk.

What I found interesrting was that I could use the RAM caching utility instead, skip the RAM disk initialization, and realize the same performance boost -- all without worrying about power failures.

So that's what I'm doing now, and it's been pretty solid for > year.
825  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Use video RAM as a swap disk? on: October 12, 2007, 09:39:30 AM
Ach, I'd forgotten about the 2D acceleration.  But that doesn't use much RAM, does it? Nothing close to what a modern FPS utilizes, anyway.

I'm intrigued by the new hybrid drives, but the performance reviews I've seen have been "meh".  I think the real attraction there is robustness (laptops will benefit) and power savings (laptops, again).  When 100% solid state RAM drives start shipping, then I'll be interested.

As far as write-caching goes: for over a year I've been using SuperSpeed SuperCache II, otherwise known as the "really great product with a stupid name".  Basically it's a $79 set of volume filters/drivers that allows the user to designate as much system RAM as desired for caching disk activity.  It augments Windows own caching algorithyms and is completely transparent to all apps.

Performance for some things -- video playback -- is phenominal.  I've allocated 1.5GB to read-caching and most .AVI files end up completey in memory.  Compiles of large software projects also benefit by 2x or 3x.

Write-caching, when it works, is very nice.  However I've not hit upon a combination of memory allocation and write-delay that yields performance with total safety.  SuperCache's reading implementation is perfect and solid; not so the write-caching.  I've experienced mysterious system hangs and BSOD's traced back to the write-cache being overloaded.  It's possible my system is to blame (I do not have a plain vanilla Dell desktop anymore :-) but figuring it out is pretty low on my priority list, as the read-caching is totally worth it alone.

Anyway, it's not directly related to the video RAM thread but thought it worth a mention.
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