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Topics - nosh [ switch to compact view ]

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So, I've been dabbling a little with cooking lately and one seemingly easy task I'd failed at most spectacularly was making a decent plate of fries.

I tried the double fry method (fry on low heat, cool, fry on high heat) which seems to be online gospel and the results were nasty, to put it mildly. The fries turned into things I'd never encountered before - the closest I can come to describing them is "Elven shoes", completely hollow on the inside and hard and leathery on the outside.

To the rescue: Chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, an MIT grad who has a high regard for McDonalds fries and took it upon himself to understand what makes them so "great", his description but I concur. He gets quite technical about the chemistry involved which I though DC would appreciate. My very first try with this method was a 90% success, a quantum leap from anything I'd made earlier (bad comparison) and better than most restaurant fries I've tried.

http://aht.seriousea...le-french-fries.html (the recipe is linked at the end)


I run a Mac Mini connected to two displays. The first is a DVI monitor (connected via a Thunderbolt to DVI adapter) and the second is a TV, directly hooked up to the HDMI out. I mirror the display to the TV to watch movies. The TV conked off a week back and was replaced.

The problem I'm facing after changing TV sets is, when I'm using the TV with the cable box or Playstation, the computer monitor starts blinking every few seconds, a solid black screen, similar to what one sees when changing resolution.

The blinking occurs twice about a second apart, every 15-20 seconds.
Observing the display options menu, I noticed that immediately after the first blink, the menu item for the TV disappears (because the Mac can't see it) there's another blink soon after when the TV gets detected and appears on the menu. It stays that way for 15-20 seconds and then the process repeats.

I've googled around and am at a total loss, I don't even know if the culprit is the Mac or the TV.
I've played around with the power consumption options on the TV, disabled mirroring, selected the "Use as separate display" option on the Mac - none of it made any difference.

When the display is being mirrored, it doesn't blink at all, steady on both ends, so I assume the HDMI cable (10 meters) is ok. Should I opt for a 5 meter high speed cable? Totally out of ideas, the only thing that works for sure right now is to pull out the HDMI cable from the Mac every time I'm not mirroring the display but that's a pain.

Edit: If I'm using the TV for Playstation or cable and power it off (standby), the monitor keeps blinking even when the TV is on standby.

I just purchased the Mac version and got a discount code with the license. It's the best Airplay host I've found on Mac - does audio streaming, video streaming & full device mirroring. They have a PC version and support for non-Apple devices too.

We hope you enjoy AirServer! As a thank you we'd like to give you a $4.0 discount coupon.
Feel free to use it within 14 days on additional licences or give it to your friends or family:

General Software Discussion / Hola VPN sells users' bandwidth
« on: May 28, 2015, 11:58 AM »
When a user installs Hola, he becomes a VPN endpoint, and other users of the Hola network may exit through his internet connection and take on his IP. This is what makes it free: Hola does not pay for the bandwidth that its VPN uses at all, and there is no user opt out for this.

Here's the part I find most disturbing:
rather than having their IP addresses cloaked behind a private server, free Hola users are regularly exposing their IP addresses to the world but associated with other people’s traffic – no matter what that might contain.

I wonder if there's some way for users to prove their IP was used by someone else on Hola and not directly by them. If not, you'd have to be out of your frikking mind to use this service, or... really, really like free shit. Hola claims to have 46m users. ;D

General Software Discussion / uTorrent has gone rogue
« on: March 08, 2015, 06:22 AM »
I was surprised when I installed a recent OS X update and it hi-jacked two browsers without user consent. Some looking around showed that there were others complaining about malware too. I rolled back to an older version, warned whoever I could and vowed never to trust the company again.

And today, there's this little gem on TorrentFreak:

Many users of the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent are complaining about it silently installing a cryptocurrency miner with a recent update. The Epic Scale tool, which slows down host computers, is reportedly being installed without consent and for some is particularly hard to remove.


uTorrent had two things going for it: a no-nonsense, lightweight app and street cred among people like me who have used and loved the app for years. Looks like they traded both in for some $$$. :P

Collectorz have switched from a traditional update model to a new subscription based one. They're dealing with some pissed off customers while they try and clarify the new system.

The new plans give customers who've bought their program two options, a $2.50 monthly recurring plan or a $25 yearly prepaid plan.
The company claims that they plan to release smaller, more frequent updates instead of a big yearly update. If you're subscribed to the update plan, you can download the latest update. If you're satisfied with the current version you can keep using it, older versions will stay functional.

I've purchased Movie Collector Pro, when I heard they were going subscription-based my first thought was "this can't be good!". But there's a catch. You can join & cancel your monthly subscription at any time. If you cancel for 6 months and join on month 7 you don't have to pay for the six months you weren't subscribed. You can pay $2.50 for the current month, catch up to the latest version available and cancel again if you so wish. So someone who is satisfied with the program and willing to wait 6 months or a year to catch up to the newly introduced features can do so for as little as $5 or $2.50. Alwin has clarified that they will accommodate users when it comes to bug fixes so people don't have to shell out to get a bug fixed. There will be no major version upgrades with higher upgrade costs in the future.

The company could of course change something in the future (I'm unaware of the exact details but I'm aware of Collectorz pissing off lifetime(?) license holders in the past.) But without getting into hypotheticals, what do you think of these plans? I have to admit I actually like them. I had a hard time wrapping my head around how they expect the new plans to benefit the company, they just seem to have taken up a lot of pressure on themselves - people paying a monthly fee will expect to see regular results. And the yearly update fee is around the same ($20-25 range). I can't see a catch or some kind of hidden cost either.

The one aspect I see benefitting the company is that they may get more people updating - a user who didn't care to pay $25 at the year end will now have the flexibility to pay much less and still keep up with the program after waiting it out. And someone who doesn't mind spending more but cares about getting the latest features ASAP will be accommodated too.

I don't know what Alwin's reasoning was when he came up with the plans but I find the fact that they cater to both ends of the market very interesting.

I've always believed that having a uniform price for software has been partially responsible for piracy. A large number of people will refuse to pay even a cent when a software can be pirated but there are a lot of those who will pay when they believe they're getting a very good deal. And with digital distribution the overheads to the vendor are nominal. More revenue would ease the situation for everyone.

Collectorz software is not the best example since their entry price is reasonably high and they also have standard and pro versions (weaker/stronger), but their update model seems to be the least discriminatory. If ported to a software with a low entry point, it could be great for people on either end of the financial spectrum. It'll be interesting to see how things work out for them once the dust settles and the initial uproar dies down. 

Forum Announcement

“You are all very familiar with how we have paid the bills so far. These new changes mark our next step towards finding that difficult balance between keeping our lights on and providing a positive user experience,” they explain.

The sponsored torrents will appear in a highly visible spot on top of the list of downloads and will be used to promote content from advertisers. They can’t be “turned off,” but users have the option to click away individual ads.

uTorrent Becomes Ad-Supported to Rake in Millions | TorrentFreak

However, a person close to the company told TorrentFreak that even without the uTorrent ads the company is doing very well. Current annual revenue is estimated at somewhere between $15 and $20 million and the company is backed by millions in venture capital.

I expect the company will benefit financially from the move, even though their savvier users will boycott the later versions or switch clients.

General Software Discussion /
« on: August 01, 2012, 01:32 PM »
So MS rolled out yet another email service:

Digital Inspiration has compiled a "reasons to love it" list.

Some good features listed there, some not so much.

This bit (from the above mentioned article) got my attention...
Outlook makes it easy for you to recover your deleted messages even if you have permanently emptied your Trash bin. Open the “Deleted” folder in Outlook and click the link that says “recover deleted messages.”

- seems like a very good reason to not use the service for anything private if MS is going to hold onto my mail till it decides not to.

MS's reasoning:
With Microsoft Outlook, you can recover email that might have been accidently deleted from your inbox. This is also helpful if your account has been hacked, because hackers often delete all the messages in an account.

Hilarious! If a hacker gets into my account the last thing I want is for him to have the fxxxing ability to resurrect every last one of my deleted mails.  ;D

This feature doesn’t work for child accounts. This way, parents can be confident that when they delete messages from their children’s accounts, they stay deleted.

I have no clue how to create a child account but apparently, that's the way to go.

Living Room / For your viewing pleasure: a Windows 8 BSOD
« on: June 09, 2012, 03:23 PM »
Ohhh ... so pretty!  :-*


Living Room / LOL Internets
« on: April 08, 2012, 04:17 AM »
Get high.

Go to

Notice you’ve typed in the address bar


Realize someone has actually bought that domain.


General Software Discussion / Google Maps 8-Bit
« on: March 31, 2012, 12:55 PM »
Made me slightly nostalgic.  ;)

Copy pasted the whole post here, I suspect they won't mind.

TPB is not hosted in -insert country here-, as far as we know. "As far as we know?" you might ask! Yes. TPB is set up in a very special way to make sure that it will stay up. This means that noone really knows exactly where the servers are, but we've made sure to stay out of the United States of Arrogance and some other countries where the governments do not like free speech.

The only box someone could find is the one in the front, that needs to be public. We have multiple of those, scattered like diarrhea around the world. They contain no storage device, no graphics card. Only a network cable, a cpu and memory. Being nice people, we've put small easters egg into each box though, for the hard work put into finding that public machine! Nothing dangerous though, just funny.

Even though this means that TPB can never be pin-pointed to a certain country, the Swedish district attorney Fredrik Ingblad initiated a new investigation into The Pirate Bay back in 2010. Information has been leaked to us every now and then by multiple sources, almost on a regular basis. It's an interesting read. We can certainly understand why WikiLeaks wished to be hosted in Sweden, since so much data leaks there. The reason that we get the leaks is usually that the whistleblowers does not agree with what is going on. Something that the governments should have in mind - even your own people does not agree.

Since our recent move to a .SE domain the investigation has been cranked up a notch. We think that the investigation is interesting considering nothing that TPB does is illegal. Rather we find it interesting that a country like Sweden is being so abused by lobbyists and that this can be kept up. They're using scare tactics, putting pressure on the wrong people, like providers and users. All out of fear from the big country in the west, and with an admiration for their big fancy wallets.

We're staying put where we are. We're going no-where. But we have a message to hollywood, the investigators and the prosecutors: LOL.

Living Room / URGENT Board Mod Request: Sobriety Mod
« on: March 10, 2012, 01:30 AM »
User enables the "input module" just as (s)he is about to start drinking and chooses all possible drinks he may consume from a dropdown list.
The forum software now presents the user with (largeish) colorful buttons that represent different serving sizes for the chosen drinks so the user only has to be coherent enough to left-click the buttons as the drinking session progresses.
The forum software calculates the sobreity level and indicates it in the sidebar for everyone to see, starting from "You can talk to him" to "Just drunk enough to be manipulative, don't be taken in" to "Troll mode activated: ignore the bastard".  

Ways to prevent drunk abuse to the board:
The forum logs the user out automatically after a certain level is achieved.
Capchas and complicated calcluations to be performed in order to post.
The post button starts jumping around, so only those who can successfully click on it can post.
The buttons get progressively more vibrant and larger, eventually occupying the entire screen, so the user really has no way to post.

As you can see, I've put some serious thought into this. More suggestions are obviously welcome...

I don't know how many Winorganizer users are still around. Very few, if any, I'm guessing. I've tried to move away from it since it's been all but abandoned and have tried several other programs. Some of them have a feature or two to beat Winorganizer but overall, they always fall short.

One feature that some of the newer programs have and that I really miss in Winorganizer is live search results (find as you type).

I've put together a hack to supercharge Winorganizer's search into live search. Some of the code is my own and some of it is straight-up nicked from the interwebs. :)

The end result seems to work fine on my (XP) system. It seems harmless enough to me as far as unwarranted side-effects are concerned and consumes next to no resources. But, as a complete novice who only dabbles with AHK every year or so, I think it's appropriate that I share it with a USE AT YOUR OWN RISK - REALLY NOT MY PROBLEM kind of disclaimer.  :P

If someone who actually knows AHK wants to refine the code, that'd be great.

tl;dr - AHK hack to convert Winorganizer search into live search, use at you own risk.

Code: Autohotkey [Select]
  1.                 WinWait, ahk_class TfrmFind
  2.                 IfWinActive, ahk_class TfrmFind
  3.                 {       TClick = 0
  4.                         SetTimer Stroke, 1
  5.                 }      
  7. Stroke:
  8. ;Based on code from
  9.         If (A_TimeIdlePhysical > 30 or A_TickCount-TClick < 125)
  10.         Return
  11.         MouseGetPos mX, mY
  13.         If (mX0 = mX && mY0 = mY)
  14.         {
  15.                 TClick := A_TickCount
  16.                 LiveSearch()
  17.         }
  18.         Else
  19.         mX0 := mX, mY0 := mY
  20.         Return
  23. LiveSearch()
  24. {       ControlGetText, MyOutputVar, TdxPickEdit1 , Find text in file
  25.         StringLen, MyStrLen, MyOutputVar
  26.         if MyStrLen > 0
  27.         ControlSend, Find, {Enter}, Find text in file
  28.         Return 
  29. }

General Software Discussion / iPad tips
« on: November 16, 2011, 11:50 PM »
A lot of these are well known but there are some good ones.

100 Essential iPad Tips and Tricks

I frequently remove hearing impaired tags from subtitle files, so regex support is essential.

I currently have to load the subtitle file in my text editor and
replace \[.*?\] with "" (blank)
replace \(.*?\) with ""
save + exit

The process could be a lot quicker (2-3 clicks) if I could add these two search and replace commands to a batch profile that shows up in the system context menu.

Any utility that supports this?

Living Room / Libel, webmasters and veiled threats.
« on: October 18, 2011, 04:40 AM »
A couple of years back, a friend, who was a management student then, needed to interview some people for a dissertation. She asked me to air my opinions about the city we live in. I agreed, with the understanding that whatever I told her would be between me, her and her college staff.

A few months back, I google my name and find a long rant with racist undertones posted on some essay writing site. The title of the essay "An interview with Mr. [my name]" - Whoa!

Now - a) I'm a Zoroastrianw (apparently, there are more elephants in the world than people belonging to my community) and
b) Even within my community I have a rather uncommon surname.
This makes my name totally unique. I have yet to meet another person who shares my name for the simple reason that he doesn't exist. If you search Google for my name you KNOW that all the results refer to me. (On a tangent, is it wiser to give our kids generic names in the intertube age?)

Some of the stuff posted in the essay, I remember saying, some genuinely doesn't sound like stuff I'd ever say. The end result is, I come across as a half-witted racist. The me-being-half-witted bit has occasionaly been debated by my friends and associates, but I definitely don't want anyone who ever googles my name to end up seeing the article.

So, I do a whois and get the administrative contact's email (a UK based SEO company). I tell him there's libelous material on the site, my name is being used in an interview I never gave (a white lie, IMO, which I use since I don't want to get into a bickering match) and could he please pull it down?

He puts me onto a lady, she's really co-operative and gets the tech staff to pull the links down, no questions asked. I'm left feeling impressed and grateful.

A month later, I google my name and Bingo! 3 hits to the same site with the full essay visible. I mail her again and am met with silence. I wait for around 10 days and mail her one more time... again, silence. I mail the admin contact who had put me on to her... silence.

Suddenly, a wild idea appears...

I sent them both the following mail today (it's a little melodramatic but if you've read this far you're obviously immune to that kind of stuff)

Hi R and J,
I had approached you both a couple of months back reg. an article that used my name in an interview I had never given.
You R, put me on to J with whom I had a very amicable interaction - she helped take down the article.
A few days later the same article appeared again on the site.
I have mailed you, J twice and R once regarding this. Not only is the article still up, neither of you have bothered to even revert back to me.
I'm not going to BS you guys, I don't have the time or the resources to take legal action to get this piece that hurts my reputation taken down. I think it is callous and cruel to not help someone in my postion. And it is arrogant to not even take a minute to revert back.
So let me make this a tad more personal and ask you, R [full name] and J [full name] this. How would you like it if some aggrieved party with enough technical understanding about the working of the internet took it into their heads to sully your reputations? Would you be as silent and unconcerned then?
Thanks for your time.
Best regards,
(Feel free to Google my name if you'd like to know more about me. There are a couple of interesting links you might find. :)

So I get the nicest possible email, (within the hour!) from the lady who's already taken every possible link she can find, down. She goes on to explain that the techs had reconnected the old db and that caused all the problems. She offers more help if I need it.
Needless to say, I'm pleased with the outcome - and TBH, quite amused at the prompt reaction the mail got. I've experienced this IRL too, people hide behind a corporate facade but the minute you target them personally and their own wellbeing is at stake they become way more cooperative.  :)

I have a folder full of tiny utilities collected over time, single exes with maybe an associated .ini or a .hlp file. I suspect a lot of you have a similar collection. I could launch these using a launcher like FARR or Launchy but I rarely seem to remember their names. There are also occasions where I'm not sure I have the right tool for a job and need a quick look at what I have in a certain category... eg:networking

I figured the best way to do this would be to use tags and after trying some tagging software, none of which I cared much for, I've settled for a somewhat unconventional solution. I use Linkman to organize these files. The files can be dragged and dropped to the "Apps" folder in linkman, the Apps folder has ~apps in its comment keywords field. Each util gets a bookmark inside this folder with all applicable tags added to the comment field. So if I'm search for an app I type ~app (to get the url bookmarks out of the way) and follow it with whichever tags are appropriate. I haven't really committed to this system but I really like it. I'm curious what system others use to access these apps... (other than using your superior memories to remember their names, of course! :P )

Edit: Quicker/"dirtier" approach, just add the tags to the filename and use something like Everything to find them. The name length restrictions shouldn't pose much of a problem. Also takes care of portability. [Edit: Bad bad bad for command line utilities! :) ]

I've had problems with the NTFS filesystem of a Truecrypt volume (external HDD) getting corrupted in the past. I've run chkdsk and that fixed it most times. I had to reformat the drive and start from scratch on one occasion (after chkdsk couldn't fix the problem, IIRC - I'm hazy about the details since it was a while back.)

I suspected hardware issues but it struck me it could be the forced dismount I used on the volume. The dismount was initiated through a batch file using the /force switch, so it occured everytime.

I stopped using forced dismount and started using Unlocker to take care of whatever was stopping the volume from dismounting normally.

Today, I tried to dismount the volume and got the usual "truecrypt volume contains files or folders being used by applications or system" message. Unlocker shows there's nothing locking the drive. I installed iobit Unlocker and it doesn't show the drive as locked either. I did a forced dismount, remounted the volume and ran chkdsk. No errors detected, but I'm worried my luck may not last. There seems to be a mismatch between what Truecrypt and the Unlocking utilities are reporting. The Windows Indexing service never runs on my system and I even closed the usual suspects - Everything & Locate32 (both configured to ignore the TC drive), anti-virus (doesn't scan in realtime, in any case).

Is there any way to know which files-in-use/apps Truecrypt has detected? Or should I just go ahead and use a forced dismount as long as Unlocker gives me the all clear?

General Software Discussion / Plugging Adrive
« on: July 26, 2011, 11:31 AM »
If you came here to read about floppy disks you're in the wrong decade thread.  :P

I just want to plug the online file storage service, Adrive.

I needed to download a few episodes of a TV show before they were taken down from the channel's site. The downloads total to a few GBs and I have other stuff downloading that I don't want to interrupt. So I looked for an online service that would directly download files from the web., which I tried first, was a disaster. I read about Adrive and tried it next and it seems like a great service. No-nonsense signup, 50GB free, it fetches the files fast from 3rd party sites (~10 mins/GB - would be dependent on the host servers too, so YMMV) and it allows the use of a download manager with resume capability. I thought they deserved a mention. :Thmbsup:

A team of researchers, studying the economics of email based spam, have released a detailed report on how the whole system works and how much do spammers make from these transactions. The researchers made over 100 purchases at these spam-advertised pharmaceutical sites for the study, spending a few thousand dollars.


General Software Discussion / Short rant on Youtube
« on: May 20, 2011, 10:10 AM »
A friend of mine, who's bad with computers, managed to upload a video about a very personal matter to Youtube some months back. He later regretted doing it and wanted the thing off. I guided him through the process... basically just read out the instructions I Googled and he said it was done. End of story. Or maybe not.

Today I get a call from him telling me the video isn't deleted after all and could I just do it for him. He mails me the link and his login credentials. Youtube tells me I can't login unless I link the Youtube account with his existing email account, something I am loath to do coz who knows if Youtube will decide to let all his contacts know about his "new" Youtube account. I have no option, however, since that's the only way I can get into the account. Once I'm in I see that my friend has set the video public. :-\ I scramble to make it private. And then delete it. I then close his youtube account and get automatically signed out.

Just to make sure it's done I search for the video on Youtube and bingo! - it shows up. He's got his name in the user id, his face in the thumbnail and the video title is completely revelatory. The video can't be viewed but everything that he was trying to cover up is right there.

Youtube claims deleted videos show up in "non-Youtube search results" for a while, which is perfectly understandable. But I'd searched from Youtube. I read a post by someone who claimed the video he deleted was showing up in search results four months later.

I admit it was a stupid decision on my friends part to upload the video in the first place, but it still seems wrong that the guy has to live with the consequences even after it's been deleted and the account closed. And I'm assuming that setting a video public and making it private later would have the same effect?

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