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Topics - Fred Nerd [ switch to compact view ]

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Living Room / New Laptop suggestions
« on: May 11, 2015, 11:25 PM »
Time to upgrade.

I know I could reformat and reinstall and my current laptop would be fine, but it's had a hard life and deserves a break, so give me suggestions what I should buy.

I have a budget of about $1000. I need an optical drive, large ~16inch screen, not fussed about image quality (I don't do much with images).
Mostly I need it to be powerful when I want it to be (many tabs open, ripping a cd and then compiling a sketch and listening to music) and when I'm just browsing, I need it to be QUIET.
This is the bit the specs don't mention. Who has had a good experience with a laptop that the fan is rarely on, and maybe even SSD. Dual HD would be nice and sometimes in my price range.
Other features such as good speakers, touchscreen, etc are all desireable, but not essential.

And it needs to be tough, physically. My current Satellite Pro occasionally gets taken onto jobs and covered in dust, dropped, stowed behind a seat, has breadcrumbs and ketchup dropped on the keyboard etc.

I was looking at a gaming laptop such as an ASUS N550 (there's a few manufacturer refurbished on ebay that look good) but I'm not sure if they are quiet when not being maxed out.

Who has any suggestions, or warnings?


Living Room / Pick a number between 1 and 10
« on: February 27, 2015, 03:57 AM »

I have no idea if anyone else has done this before but I decided to answer this once and for all.

You know where Marvin the Paranoid Android is demonstrating his intelligence to the mattress and asks it to pick a number between 1 and 10, and the matress says (IIRC) 7 and Marvin crushingly points out that it's wrong and how stupid the mattress is?  Well I thought I'd work it out.

The answer is 2

And I'll hide the reasoning so that others have a chance to think about it and tell my why I'm wrong and why they they are smarter than Marvin.

First we have to work out some rules. The fact that a robot asks it would mean it's safe to presume there is a correct answer.
Also, it's important to note that it's NOT 1 and 10 INCLUSIVE
Now, the only way there can be a correct answer is if there is only one number between 1 and 10. Which means that the question must be in a context that only allows this. The simplest context is if it is in base 3 (trinary) so the counting numbers would be 0,1,2,10,11,12,20, etc
In this case, the answer is 2.
Very simple.

Living Room / Rethink Smartwatch
« on: September 16, 2014, 03:24 AM »
After all these weird and wonderful wearables, there's still not one that REALLY solves any real problem.
They all need bluetooth tethering which too limited for anything other than wearing your phone anyway.

So.... here's my idea:
The watch has a SIM and a phone/data plan.
Watch can take and make calls either with bluetooth headset or loudspeaker.
Can receive messages.
Can send messages. No idea how current input is but I imagine you could write one letter at a time on the screen and OCR would recognise it.
Can receive emails, probably using an app where the email is parsed at the server and the watch only gets plain text and low res images.
Maybe send emails.

AND.... can tether.
So then you get home, tether your phone/tablet (by resting your watch on a wireless charger that also is a wifi booster) and your messages get synced and saved and you can see the full version of your emails.

This would mean a light phone user could get by with only the watch. But would be notified when an email came.
You could go on holidays with a watch and a Surface Pro, be out partying all day, make calls/text, and when you got an urgent business email you could grab the Surface and deal with it and then go back with empty pockets.

This watch could also be waterproof, so you can get caught in the rain/fall off a boat and not worry.

I'd buy this as a builder so I can leave my tablet in my truck while working, watch (or even minature fob watch in pocket, like a nokia phone designed for tethering) would do everything I need and when I need to read emails with supply documents I go to my truck.

What do you guys think?   Should I start a kickstarter?  Or am I only designing for myself?

Living Room / Apple Collectors: 100 000 for iPod Gen 1
« on: April 27, 2014, 06:11 AM »;hash=item3f3464bfcd

That was a pretty slick investment...


So I have a really cool idea for a website (I think it is anyway) and basic web skills.

This is what it might look like

So, songwriters load demo songs, they get their own page with the songs on them and each song gets it's own page.
That can be done in HTML. I don't predict will get too big so it won't be too hard to manually manage.
BUT on the homepage, it wants a shuffle music player so people listening to a song can skip until they find something they like.
Which means that the song need to be in a database so that they can be shuffled then the corresponging song, songname, artist and artist pic can be dynamically loaded.
I can handle the Javascript (just) but then I need PHP or somthing to work the database.
I was hoping to work out something that will run on an Access database since I have enough troubles without SQL.

Can someone point me in the right direction on which set of languages to use?
Keep in mind that, if it is successful, I want it so that artists still have to be manually set up and screened, but after that they can add songs easily and the song pages will be dynamically created.


Living Room / Fight back against the NSA
« on: February 06, 2014, 07:11 AM »
We all want our privacy back,
This idea looks good, it just needs more support.

I like it. I vote we ask Mouser to put the banner on DC.   

Incidentally, to go with it, my idea of fighting back starts with always using a fake name online. ALWAYS. Especially FB. It makes it just that bit harder to search and profile people.

Does anyone else have any opinons on this movement, or any tips for fighting back?

Just remember, if you have ever been glad that you can break minor regulations like picking flowers in a park and get away with it, you have a moral obligation to do something to stop us being totally monitored.

Living Room / Electric shock from USB cable
« on: January 11, 2013, 04:13 AM »
Has anyone else got an electric shock from a USB cable?

Anyone died?

I have my laptop setup on my desk, and since I have always been too busy/lazy to get a USB hub, I am constantly unplugging things, these unplugged cables often hang over the edge of the desk at knee height. A couple of times I've bumped then and thought 'sharp edge on that' but today I took a closer look at the offending plug and it wasn't sharp, it was giving my nice little blue sparks.....
It's the cord that goes to my old printer, and I figure since the printer is plugged into the wall, it must be leaking a bit of power back into the cable.
It still works fine, and I haven't died yet, but I will be wary in case it gets worse (will try to refrain from sucking it.....).

Has anyone else had similar experiences?


I don't know if anyone's played with this yet, but I saw it on Ask Leo and it looks really cool.

Classic Shell is a collection of usability enhancements for Windows. The main features are:

    Highly customizable start menu with multiple styles and skins
    Start button for Windows 7 and Windows 8
    Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer
    Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

N.A.N.Y. 2013 / N.A.N.Y Pledge: Automatic GST calculator
« on: December 02, 2012, 05:04 AM »
I haven't had much time for programming recently, so this is a good excuse to get back into it. It's only small, but I'm only a beginner

A bit of background: In Australia, all businesses have to charge 10% GST (tax) on goods and services. I work as a carpenter so I have to account for it.
I do all my accounts in an Access database since I like to do things manually for full control, and when entering data, I have to calculate the GST component. There is probably a way to get this done automatically BUT I want to do it my way.

I want a small app that will background monitor all keystrokes, if there is a series of numerals followed by TAB, it will display the GST component in a discreet manner. It will stay on to to allow it to be entered in if needed, and will dissappear on TAB.

Should include a settings dialoge to allow position of pop up answer, and a few other things.

Living Room / Foxtrot on Apple Comics
« on: June 20, 2011, 06:17 PM »
Apple has a sense of humour? Hmmm, thats a really risky bet,

Living Room / Couch surfing over USA
« on: June 11, 2011, 06:00 PM »
Hey all,
How many of you know Couch Surfing?
It a REALLY good way to meet interesting people and to see things you normally don't when travelling.  Not to mention the cost saving.

I'm coming from Australia to USA for the 2nd time in July. All I know is that I'm getting into NYC on the 28th. I have some plans and ideas for there, but my next step is to get to central Wyoming sometime in the middle of July and stay out on a the most awesome ranch there which I discovered last year.

So if anyone is in the New York or pretty broadly surrounding area, or near an airport since internal flights are cheap enough, and want to catch up for a few drinks, or wants an excuse to go sightseeing, or anything else fun, we could meet up sometime.
If I can sleep on your floor/couch, then I can buy the drinks and dinner :)

Oh, and here is my CouchSurf profile http://www.couchsurf...eople/joshuacobargo/

And even if it doesn't help me, I hope people check it out and join and help spread 'helping people and having good times'

Living Room / Visual Studio lost my solution
« on: May 16, 2011, 05:54 AM »
OK, so I'm smoking mad...
Was almost finished Assignment 8 of Programming School in C#
Had the project open in Visual Studio, and remembered to hit CTRL +S after everything that worked. System had some form of crash (I only ever hibernate, so its not too suprising) and now its GONE.
Shadow Explorer can't even find it.
This is Vista, does anyone have any idea of how it might be recovered?
Serves me right for not having a full backup plan, BUT I often haven't the time for the laptop, and I only back up important docs/photos.
Gnnnn Gnnnn Gnnnn, this is sooo annoying. And I was so close.

Living Room / If a tree falls (in c#)
« on: May 07, 2011, 07:43 AM »
Just a random, late night thought of a programming student.

I think I might be on the track of solving the age old problem of
"if a tree falls in the forest and no-one hears it, does it still make a sound"

I have considered it equal to:
"if something happens in my atempted program but there is no gui link, does it do what I wanted (and will use and later link)?"

When I work it out, then I will have solved both of them.

I also found out that is the answer os 42, the question is "How long is a piece of string?" Now to find out the units..... ( I need another drink)


Living Room / Can anyone repair Li-ion battery circuit?
« on: February 21, 2011, 04:57 AM »
I'm a carpenter as a day job, and I had a Makita 18v lithium ion battery fail on me today after being drained too far.
Which made a conversation topic and I found out the following info:
This is a VERY common problem; there are heaps of dead batteries out there.
Often its a case of the charger saying it HAS to be dead because its so low, but actually it isn't, and if you can trickle a bit into it, then it will work again.
Also, there are plenty of sites on the net showing you how to pull them apart and replace the faulty cell.

BUT, here's the killer: there is an on board circuit in the battery. And if you get a 'fail' 3 times in a row, it stops it from ever trying to charge again.

Now, if someone with a bit of circuit knowledge can find out how to remove the block, there would be good money in restoring old batteries. And/or it would help a lot of people (new batteries are about $200 in Australia, and there's only a one year warranty on them)

Anyone want a project?


I think we all know the Wikileaks story.
Now he's being branded as a terrorist before charges have even been laid.
This is not good for someone who's innovation supported freedom and democracy.

Please help by signing this petition for Get Up.,527677,3

Living Room / The worm as a 'cyber missile'
« on: December 01, 2010, 05:02 AM »
This is absolutely crazy technology,


This sounds like fun. Imagine being able to write code like that....

Living Room / Android to rip MP3 to ipod
« on: May 09, 2010, 06:28 AM »
So, here's the scenario:
In June I'll be coming over to the USA for a 2 month holiday.
(on a side note, anyone want to meet up somewhere? Nashville, Austin, San francisco, LA, Vegas, Denver, Cheyenne)
I'll be travelling light, and I won't take my main laptop. So I wanted to get a really cheap and nasty netbook off ebay.
I checked ebay and I like those Android tablets (for about AUD$150).;hash=item2eacf356fd
Now since I'm likely to buy a lot of cds (I'm a music freak, Nashville for the country music festival, and sure to buy a lot of music), I want to rip these to my iPod Classic.
Now: does anyone know if:
I can hook up an external CD drive to the android tablet (it says it supports USB, but that might be to connect it to a PC)
I can rip music in any reasonable quality (600mhz [depending on model] will be slow, but do-able, and the ipod supports AAC and MP3)
THEN, can I transfer it to the iPod to play.

Also can I use the Ipod as an external HDD for extra storage (backup photos)?
The android on ebay has an SD slot which would read my camera card directly.

This is a bit of 'not what its meant for' but it looks worth a try since I have heard good things about Android, and want to play with it. (and it looks cool)

Any ideas?

Finished Programs / DONE: Group files from within folders
« on: October 24, 2009, 08:47 PM »
This probably exists, but I can't find it.
I should be able to do it in AHK, but I am sure there are people who can do it faster and better.

All I want to do is to select a collection of folders
And then want the program to select all the files in them and put them in a single folder.

What I want it for (ATM) is that most medai players store music in individual folders, which is a nuisance when you want to burn it directly to disc.

Also if you want to review files before sending them to an iPod.

Photo organisers can do this too.

So a simple Open folder window (allowing multiple folders to be selected)
Then read all files from inside
Select destination folder and then copy all files to there.
Or even just a list which I can paste into a burn program, but they don't like that unless it perfect.....

Thanks for any help.

Or if no help, watch this space and eventually I'll do it myself and post it... (I hope)

General Software Discussion / PC email program and new computer
« on: October 09, 2009, 08:37 AM »
I just got a new laptop, so apart from having to migrate all emails over, it also means I want to optimise my system.
Situation is:
I have been using outlook express, with 2 separate accounts which I would like to amagamate.
I want to use either windows mail or thunderbird, or something similar. I do the occasional lessons for people so I need to know how to use the common types, so I need to be something similar all the time.
I might partition the new laptop for vista/win7 (possibly Ubuntu but that might be virtual) and if possible I want to have the same program running in both OSs and accessing and adding to the same database.

So, any tricks to moving and amagamating the Outlook express files, and what would be the best way to do what I would like to do?

Thanks a lot


Living Room / Windows, Nuclear power, Viruses and Tech help
« on: August 26, 2009, 04:25 AM »
What more do you want to make this funny....

Its probably a fake question, but imagine if it was real.....

Possibly its from Australia, I can picture that sort of sitation here.....

Living Room / CD archive and copying
« on: June 28, 2009, 06:36 AM »
Hi, just seeing if anyone could point me in the right direction for software

I have a large cd collection, and want to archive to HD in a way which
a: is a perfect archive, i.e. not just lossless tracks, I want exact album. If it has an enhanced part then that will still be there, and all tracks in order, exact gap in between as original etc.
b: the original album can be burnt to cd with as little or no data loss of any sort.

I don't care if I can't play them on the HD, but I was hopeing I could use a virtual drive for it.

I'm currently using an old version of CloneCD (back when licences were permanent) However I dislike 2 things about it:
a: the cost, not so much for myself, but I can't give a copy of the program to a friend or two so we could have a communal archive HD
b: too many settings, if its set right, it does a great job, but isn't guaranteed identical. And should it be set in Raw-Dao, Sao or whatever it has. I take a pot guess.

So what I want is sort of a music cd imaging program complete with virtual drive. But as far as I know, music cds don't turn into ISOs.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance

Living Room / Firefox getting forgetful
« on: February 10, 2009, 04:45 AM »
I've used Firefox 3 for a long time,  but recently I noticed it hasn't saved any history, and visited links are not coloured as such and the address bar doesn't have any recently visited sites.

I have AdBlockPlus, Flashblock and a couple of other minor add-ons (Foxytunes, forecast fox)

Any idea what is causing it? I could try turning one or the other off, but I think just disabling them doesn't help, and I like them too much to uninstall.

I have checked settings and its set to remember history for 90 days.


Living Room / New Ipod/ cleaning mp3s
« on: January 08, 2009, 01:48 AM »

I just bought my first Ipod. 120GB classic. I mean to fill it with my cd collection (ok, partly fill it :)).
But I also have a bunch of random songs on my computer which come from questionable sources.
The question is: is there any danger in transferring these to the Ipod, and how can this be avoided? I was thinking of running them through a program like Super(c) and changing format to clean them of any other data, I don't know if this helps?

Also, what other sync programs do you reccommend? Or should just stick with Itunes? Usless 65.5MB download.....seriously, couldn't they put it on the ipod, or on a cd, or anything??????
I'm on a 500 a month plan, and what about people on dialup??????

I'll see how I like it when I finally get it down. But I don't hold much hope, I never did like apple, and I think this will just justify it.....

Developer's Corner / Dictionary, list of words, etc.
« on: October 18, 2008, 12:26 AM »
I'm not a very good programmer, but I wanted to make myself something which is sort of a scrabble practise game. Basically it finds a random word, then mixes up the letter and asks me what it is.

So far I have got an AHK script which works on words up to 7 letters long, which will scramble the letters, and a gui to make it useable.
I just need a list of all available words.
(then need to find a way to select a random one.....computers don't like random..)
Anyone know of such a resource?
Of course I could just use a few wordy letters/wepages/e-books, but I want to do it properly..


Living Room / Open DNS is s***ware
« on: September 09, 2008, 08:18 AM »
I read one article on and it advocated Open DNS for security reasons. So I decided to try it out. I can't say I noticed any performance increase of any kind, but what happened was that
a: when it couldn't go to the sitein the address bar, it would gi to its own search page. Prick.
b: it wouldn't play the streaming music on MySpace. It stopped at about 13 secs (luckily I'm not superstitious).

So I scrapped it,and all is good now.

I also found out that Google Web accelerator blocks Myspace Mp3 Gopher, but since I shouldn't be using it anyway, I won't boast about it.

It works now.

So be careful with Open DNS, and GWA, neither of them did any noticeable good, and a bit of bad.....

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