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901  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: BioShock Demo Shock! on: October 04, 2007, 10:37:56 PM
PLEASE give it a chance. BioShock is an *amazing* experience.  I usually don't get into FPS games anymore, but this one's incredible.  The atmosphere alone is worth playing on "easy" just for the tourist experience.

The SecurRom error popped up on my system too.  In my case it was due to the SysInternals Process Explorer I keep running mostly all the time.  SecurRom (BioShock anti-piracy crap) detects certain debugging & disassembly tools and won't run.  Process Explorer is one of them.

The deal is, PE leaves a driver behind in memory after it runs, even if you shut it down.  BioShock sees the driver and won't boot.  For the rest of the session.  *groan*

Solution(s):

1. Reboot Windows and don't start PE.  Bioshock loads just fine for me this way.

2. Upgrade PE to the latest version from SysInternals -- Mark R. has recompiled a new build that avoids SecurRom's paranoia.

If you're not using Process Explorer, then check what else is running in the background.  SecurRom is touchy about debugging tools.

HTH,
Ralf
902  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner on: October 04, 2007, 03:07:39 PM
How to restore a backup with PaperBack:

1. In the year 2107, search eBay for an ancient USB scanner just like the one you used to have as a child, to plug into your carefully restored 100-year-old Windows workstation.  You find a scanner, and luckily it only costs $65,000 North American Dollars!

2. Using your Frigidaire Matter Compiler[tm], you fabricate a USB cable from specs downloaded from the Internet after providing Homeland Security with eCredentials that you do not plan to interface any WMDs with the cable.

3. You hire a consultant to design and hand-assemble a solar converter to replace the scanner's brick power supply (using 110v main power for recreational purposes during daylight hours is a felony).

4. You plug everything together and it works!  Sort of... Windows has just popped up its "Found New Hardware" dialog and is patiently awaiting the driver disc.  Frak!  Frak!  Frak!

5. You remember that the drivers you need are encoded onto the piece of yellowed paper you're trying to scan...
903  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Programming 101 Lesson: Don't Purge User Data on: October 04, 2007, 08:30:13 AM
No problem!  Glad to help.

The system design prevents duplicating an archived key in most cases, and in other cases we kind of shrug in a distracted manner and mutter "don't care".  Multiple duplicate keys aren't a problem, since all the ACTUAL key fields used to relate tables together are hidden from the user and remain unchangable.  We NEVER allow user-manipulated data to link records together, so if somebody deletes the Master Record ID for a chunk of data, all they're doing is erasing a cosmetic item.  The system chugs on.  Likewise of they change a Customer ID to match another Customer ID the REAL linkages behind the scene don't change, but the next time they query for that ID they'll see two items listed in the results.  And BTW if users are doing this kind of thing, they sort of get what they deserve.

The system was designed with the basic understanding that humans are very clever at entering duplicate data no matter how hard you try to stop them.  We accept that and assume (some) duplication exists, but allow users to clean it up when they want.

Part of it is training, also.  Before creating (say) a new Customer record, it is strongly urged that the user perform a search first.  When the search fails (both live and archived data) only then is it a good idea to create a new Customer record with unique Customer ID.  And the machine generates all the unique IDs, not the user.

Ah, but what about those diabolical customers who change their names everytime they call?  In 2005 when they signed up they used "BRIAN T. DAMAGED" but now when they call back they're "BRIAN DAMAGED".  Next time it might be "B.T. DAMAGED".... and if a user's not careful they might end up with three separate records for the same guy.

Well fortunately, the system does some pretty comprehensive searches.  Querying for "BRAIN DAMAGER" would still match the original 2005 record.  And all that's assuming the user doesn't know their unique Customer ID number, which oddly enough most of them do. 

But I digress.

So what would happen in your suggested scenario, where the 2005 "BRIAN T. DAMAGED" has been archived, and some n00b creates a new 2007 "BRIAN T. DAMAGED" despite there already appearing to be a record for the guy?  Despite the thunderous warnings from the system, the hooting alarms, the electrical shocks?

The system happily accepts the duplicate record, and will eventually archive it alongside the 2005 version when it grows old enough.  If a smarter user stumbles across the two records and decides they should become one, it's a menu option to merge them.

Seems to work well, so far.  And most of the above still applied before we implemented the archiving feature.

Does that make sense?
904  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Any MWSnap users out there? on: October 04, 2007, 12:23:32 AM
I *love* MWSnap!  Despite its dated Win95-ish look, its sometimes wacky behavior, its inability to see more than one monitor in a multi-monitor environment... I love it.  Why?

- It's small.

- It's fast. 

- It's simple and obvious to use, with a standard Windows Classic appearance.  No stupid alpha-blending effects or weirdly shaped non-rectangular windows.  No faux Aero shiny happy gradients.  Yes, it looks like a Win95 refugee, but so what?

- It's free, and no stinking ads.

- It remembers settings and defaults from session to session.

- It's solid.  Never crashed, not even once, and that's saying a lot on my system.

- It's well behaved and does not hijack all my keyboard hotkeys.

- It is not skinnable.  Yay.  How useless is that technology? 

- Its feature set is *perfect* for what it is.  No, I do not care to email screencaptures or create Flash files.  I don't need to edit or annotate the screenshot -- I have plenty of other high-power tools for that.  Just gimme the damned snap.

The only thing I wish could be fixed is the multi-monitor myopism.  Oh, and the printing support is kind of surreal, but that's a "nice to have" feature since I usually paste into Word and annotate there before printing.

MWSnap is defintely one of my favorites.  I've tried FS and a few others and have been dismayed at the results, always returning to reliable old MSWnap.
905  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner on: October 03, 2007, 10:13:53 PM
If you think decoding a CD or DVD in 50 years will stump our grandchildren, what will they make of 2D barcodes?

In any case, it's a moot point: paper degrades.  Acid-free paper stored in a nitrogen environment lasts longer but still degrades, and is hardly cheap.  I also doubt paper bonded with inkjet ink or toner holds up as long as "regular" print, so assuming the document can actually be read in 50 years is questionable.  And not just readable -- but perfect enough to scan correctly.  Hope your document contains some redundancy and/or solid CRC's.

FWIW archival quality CD and DVD media exists, and is actually reasonable cost-wise.  Archival discs are rated at 100+ years retention, without any warranty that our alien overlords or radioactive mutant descendants will be able to comprehend the data formats.

In this particular case, the old ways are best.  You want your data to last more than a few centuries?  Carve it in granite, preferably in close proximity to a Rosetta stone.  Anything else means you're lazy.
906  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Online Privacy Policy Generator on: October 03, 2007, 09:53:55 AM
Thanks for the links!  I checked them out and like the FEULA's "feel".  I'll probably end up using a derivative of that.

And I guess I don't really NEED a generator... viva search/replace!  :-)
907  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Programming 101 Lesson: Don't Purge User Data on: October 03, 2007, 09:49:38 AM
Every record has a "Date Created" and "Date Updated" field, standard MS date types.  It makes aging of records simple.  For a 90 day cut-off (Access database syntax):

SELECT * FROM Table WHERE DateUpdated < (Now - 90)

...or, SQL Server Syntax:

SELECT * FROM Table WHERE DateUpdated < (GetDate() - 90)

:-)
908  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Online Privacy Policy Generator on: October 02, 2007, 02:28:01 PM
Anyone know of an online EULA generator?
909  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Back up files with a printer and scanner on: October 02, 2007, 02:22:56 PM
All I keep thinking: Blank DVDs are cheap.  Printer supplies are expensive.

Although, it *would* be cool to use this technology to have software tatooed on my butt.
910  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Programming 101 Lesson: Don't Purge User Data on: October 02, 2007, 09:37:27 AM
Recently encountered a scenario similar to this (massive database of live data, >90% "too old" to matter).  The solution we came up with:

1. Keep data that's routinely accessed in the "live" database.

2. Regularly archive older data to big, slow servers but still retain access from the main app.  If a user requests data not in the live system, a secondary query is performed in the archives.  If data is found there, it's reactivated -- moved back to live storage.

This was just implemented so I don't know how it will fare over the long haul, but so far so good.  There's a noticeable lag when the archives are hit but in this case the results are worth it, since performance when accessing live data has improved dramatically.  And users have access to everything, all the time.
911  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: IBM Lotus Symphony on: September 28, 2007, 05:25:34 PM
I'd *love* to have an alternative to MS Office, but so much of what I do is based on automation.  So far none of the free alternatives have supported VBA or any serious extension capability.  Symphony "macros" are simply not enough.

So until somebody publishes a com interface or an API or something I have to opt out.  Alas...
912  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: (Webfind) Programmer Personality Test on: September 28, 2007, 05:15:52 PM
DLSC.  Seems to be a few of us here. :-)
913  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Microsoft patches applied - EVEN WHEN AUTOUPDATE IS OFF on: September 27, 2007, 12:39:32 PM
BinderDundat: If by "trusted" you mean the Windows firewall or ZoneAlarm or something, then you are correct.  However, the wa* files Microsoft updates have no special "trustworthiness" assigned to them by the operating system.  Windows Update could potentially change ANYTHING on your PC, and they have demonstrated the ability to do so without notifying the user.

Justice: So long as Microsoft ONLY twiddles the mechanism that interfaces with the update servers, then I agree.  I am not protesing the maintenance of files Windows needs to update itself; in fact I avail myself of Windows Update periodically to get the recommended patches.  That's only common sense.

But MS has demonstrated their ability and willingness to deliver updates DESPITE MY REVOKING PERMISSION TO DO SO.  I opted out, they did it anyway.  Doesn't matter if the patch was necessary or not, it's frikkin rude to shove software onto my PC without telling me.  May even be illegal, since most states prohibit unauthorized tampering with data systems.  And no, the EULA does not shield such intrusion; there is plenty of legal precedent protecting computer users.

But here's the kicker: I don't even believe it's necessary.  When you login to the Windows Update website, what's the very first thing that happens?  You get a small update to your "Installer" and THEN you get to the scanning-your-pc phase.  If updates to the wa* files are necessary, then that's the logical place to perform maintenance.  I would bet real money that they *are* updated there, also, just in case your machine hasn't been online in awhile and the stealth updates never installed.  Not everyone has a 24/7 connection.  Note that the Windows Update website works fine even on machines freshly installed from CD without any patches at all.

So it's rude, possibly illegal, potentially dangerous, damages the user's trust in MS, and finally: UNNECESSARY.

All for what?  Microsoft's response continues to be evasive, addressing only WHAT was stealth-modified, but not why.  Yes, we know those are Automatic Update engine files, and it'd be nice if everyone was 100% in sync all the time with the latest micro-update.  But why do it this way, using stealth and sneakiness?  If told up front what was being changed and why, I doubt any reasonable user would object.

So again, Microsoft, why?
914  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Microsoft patches applied - EVEN WHEN AUTOUPDATE IS OFF on: September 14, 2007, 11:24:16 AM
Setting aside the Windows Secrets tendency to "cry wolf" occasionally, I still feel they're right to make noise about this item.  Keep in mind that the real issue here is not that Microsoft is downloading updates without our permission (though that pisses me off no end)... rather it's the amount of information they publish about what it *is* they're downloading.

Zero.  In fact, they're being evasive.  ANYONE twiddling files on my PC without permission is cause for alarm; being told nothing about what was changed is even worse.  It's not hard to describe technical changes in simple english, so why aren't they?  The possiblilities are disturbing.

If a stranger sneaks into your house in the middle of the night and "fixes" your plumbing for you, wouldn't that bother you?  Wouldn't you be concerned that they might've helped themselves to the beer or maybe installed one of those terrible 1.3 gpf toilets because THEY think it's necessary?

Wouldn't you rather they asked first? 

And in fact they DID ask, and you said "no updates to the plumbing please" but they came and did it anyway.

Even if MS publishes a complete spec for what was changed in the wau*.* files, I'd still like an explanation of the process.  Why the subterfuge?
915  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Microsoft patches applied - EVEN WHEN AUTOUPDATE IS OFF on: September 13, 2007, 12:28:18 PM
Actually, it *is* a big deal.  Reaching into my computer and changing files -- any files -- when I have expressly denied permission is wrong.  Even with the best of intentions, mistakes happen.  Recall the WGA disaster of a month ago where Vista machines went dark because they couldn't phone home?  All Microsoft's fault, no malicious intent, but the incident should be a wake up call.

How would you feel if one morning you discovered your Windows validation had been revoked, only due to a mistake?  They have demonstrated they can stealth-modify files.  Even more troubling, the article states there is no way to learn what was modified or why -- only the date & filename are available.  No KB article.  This is not transparent behavior, and one is compelled to wonder why?  If it's a simple bug fix, then say so.  The fact they go to some lengths to obsfucate the matter is more upsetting than the action itself.

I utilize a fully-paid MSDN platform subscription for all my Windows test machines.  It's not difficult to imagine a block of serial numbers accidently deactivated, and the news sent down the wire to my little herd of test mules.  Suddenly I cannot conduct business.  What recourse then?

Or try out this far fetched, but still plausible scenario: MS licensing policy changes, and XP schedules itself to stop working on a particluar date, forcing a migration to Vista?

Until we learn more, there is nothing good to say about these activities or by extension the policies they enact.
916  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: CPU monitor that plays sound according to activity on: July 04, 2007, 11:52:50 PM
Quote from: Ralf Maximus
one is a compiler that takes about 7 minutes to complete and pegs the CPU at 100% (50% on a dual core) the while.
Get a build system that supports parallelization... it's really great putting your dualcore system to work cheesy


Bah.  T'weren't for the extra core, my system would be locked up while the compile compiles.  :-)
917  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / IDEA: CPU monitor that plays sound according to activity on: July 04, 2007, 03:03:55 PM
This oughta be a fun one. :-)

I have a couple of long tasks I kick off and walk away from -- one is a compiler that takes about 7 minutes to complete and pegs the CPU at 100% (50% on a dual core) the while.  It would be great to be able to HEAR how the thing is doing while I'm in another part of the room.  Thus...

- Need a small utility that sits in the tray and monitors cpu activity
- Should handle multiple cores/cpu's and report on the TOTAL cpu usage
- Should play a small "blip" or hum or something that rises in tone/frequency for every percentage increment
- Should be entirely silent if average activity falls below a threshold (10%?)
- XP compatibility only; Vista not needed.  In fact, screw Vista.  Vista sucks.

Nice to have:

- Customizable sound (maybe select a .wav file?)
- Ability to select wanted/ignore unwanted processes by .exe name
- Upon falloff to 0% (or below threshold) for x seconds, play a "completed" sound.

Whatcha think?
918  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: Request: Force NUMLOCK always on on: July 01, 2007, 12:48:56 PM
Yayy!  That works!  Exactly what I need.

Thank you.
919  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: Request: Force NUMLOCK always on on: June 30, 2007, 11:39:04 AM
I've got an Optiplex GX620.  Love it, love it, love it.  Bought it for cheap at the Dell outlet store online.

USB keyboard, if that matters.  The only software I've discovered that it doesn't like is anything that tries to toggle the keyboard LED's in real-time according to disk activity.  No big loss. :-)

To summarize the thread so far:

0. Need a utility to monitor the state of NUMLOCK and switch it back on if it gets turned off, either by keyboard action (butterfingers) or via a rude application.

1. The "standard" AHK script to toggle NUMLOCK doesn't work here, but according to others it doesn't seem to work anywhere.

2. I have other AHK scripts purring along in the background that work fine.  I keep everything in autohotkey.ini, but a standalone .exe would be fine.

3. Hacking the registry only sets the state of NUMLOCK at startup.  Not my problem, since the Dell BIOS has a nice feature to configure that.

Thanks!
920  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: Request: Force NUMLOCK always on on: June 29, 2007, 08:33:54 AM
App103:  Bingo, that's it.

I have something called CAPShift that does that for the Caps Lock; the minute you turn on Caps Lock, CAPShift toggles it off again.  CAPShift gets loaded at the start of my Windows session and runs silently in the background.  It stays in memory until the machine reboots.

I need something that does that same trick for Num Lock, but in this case keep the bugger turned on forever.

Thanks!     
921  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: Request: Force NUMLOCK always on on: June 28, 2007, 03:02:47 PM
Hacking the registry only sets the default state upon Windows login.  Alas, it does not prevent the numlock state from toggling.

Too bad...
922  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: Request: Force NUMLOCK always on on: June 28, 2007, 02:13:08 PM
Thanks for the reply!

Alas, I tried it here and no workee.  I've got a Dell Optiplex with a standard 101 keyboard (USB).  All the other AutoHotKey stuff I have works fine, and the code above compiles without complaint.  But the numlock refuses to stay locked on.

Bah...

923  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Request: Force NUMLOCK always on on: June 28, 2007, 12:36:23 PM
Howdy,

I've searched for a utility (or HotKeys script) that automatically forces NUMLOCK to remain on at all times.  I have some ill-behaved apps that turn it off, and when I go to use the keypad...

So, anything?

Thanks,
Ralf
924  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Triple-Click Mouse Utility on: May 08, 2007, 08:13:07 AM
Worked like a champ.  And doesn't interfere with single or double clicks.  Thanks!

Ralf
925  DonationCoder.com Software / Post New Requests Here / Re: IDEA: Triple-Click Mouse Utility on: May 07, 2007, 07:58:30 AM
W00t!  Thanks!  I'm off to compile me some AutoHotKey macro!

Ralf
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