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Messages - Jimdoria [ switch to compact view ]

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General Software Discussion / Re: Linux question - mount fs in Windows?
« on: September 30, 2008, 10:35 PM »
Thanks for the links. I also turned up Explore2fs. (I always google something before I post a question about it. Common netiquette!) Unfortunately, Explore2fs is read-only at the moment. Write access was removed due to instability and the author is not optimistic about it being added back anytime soon.

I definitely need R/W access or the whole point is moot, so that lets that out.

I'll see if I can post something over at the Puppy forums. I hesitate to post a Windoze question in a Linux forum, but I guess I'll just have do it, then dodge the rotten tomatoes. Thanks!

General Software Discussion / Re: Linux question - mount fs in Windows?
« on: September 26, 2008, 03:15 PM »
OK 40Hz - I think I've got it.

A question though - one of the reasons I went with QEMU Puppy is that it has the ability to boot "bare metal" Puppy Linux from the thumb drive. I've done this successfully. In this scenario (AFAIK) QEMU is not involved at all - it's just Puppy running. So Puppy must have the ability to access the volume file natively, outside of emulation.

I was guessing that using the .3fs file as a mountable storage volume was something you could generally do in Linux. There are analogs in the Windows world. TrueCrypt works the same way, mounting a single encrypted file as a storage volume.

Is this feature specific to Puppy Linux? That would explain why it isn't widely supported.

General Software Discussion / Linux question - mount fs in Windows?
« on: September 26, 2008, 12:34 PM »
Hi everyone (especially the Linux gurus out there...)

I'm a rank noob when it comes to Linux, but I've been experimenting with QEMU-Puppy on a USB stick, and so far I like it very much.

Puppy Linux runs from RAM, and when you are done and shut it down, it saves it's changes back into a file system on the media from which it was run (thumb drive in my case.) This file system appears on the disk as pup_save.fs3 under Windows.

I'd like to get access to what's inside that file from within Windows so I can open and save things there. I found and installed Ext2 IFS which lets you mount Linux Ext2/Ext3 file systems in Windows, and gives you read/write access. (I'm guessing that because the file is named .fs3 that Puppy is using an Ext3 file system?)

The problem is that Ext2 IFS seems geared to partition based file systems. The GUI will let you mount an Ext2/3 partition, and shows all the partitions on my physical drives. I'm assuming that if I had a partition formatted in Ext3 I could just mount if from there.

But the file system I want to mount is not a partition - it's just a file! And I can't see any way in Ext2 IFS to select this file and mount it so that it will become accessible under Windows.

I'm probably missing something really basic here, but as I said I'm new at this. Could someone with a bit of Linux/Windows experience point me in the right direction? Thanks!

General Software Discussion / Re: Gbridge
« on: September 25, 2008, 02:00 PM »
@CMPM: Why don't you use a multi-protocol client like Pidgin?

I scored a 3! Not too bad.

As men age they lose the ability to discern the color yellow.

When I first heard this factoid, I doubted it. Then one day, a good friend told me about a family friend of his in his 70's who was helping my friend to paint his apartment. The old guy opened a can of light yellow paint and asked my friend "Is this gray?"

Men also lose their sense of humor as they age. So if you know any older men who can't see yellow, you probably don't want to needle them about it. They won't think it's so funny.

Women don't suffer these degradations. Just more evidence that they're generally put together better than men.

BTW - if the high score is 99, how did somebody score 1492?  :tellme: Did they arrange all the colors perfectly but put them in the wrong order?

General Software Discussion / Re: Lazy guy query: taggable file mgr
« on: September 05, 2008, 04:01 PM »
Thanks, Kimmchii!

I wound up spending the time to go and find something anyway. I remembered way back when there used to be a file manager (for DOS!) called XTree Gold that let you tag files and then operate on them.

Turns out there are numerous clones of this classic app. Most are full-blown Win32 applications now, although some still run in good old text mode. I wound up downloading Extreme ( which although running in text mode, is a Win32 app with good mouse support.

It did the trick and has earned a permanent place in my utilities folder on my thumb drive. Us lazy guys like power tools.  :D

General Software Discussion / Lazy guy query: taggable file mgr
« on: September 02, 2008, 07:15 PM »
Sorry to be so lazy (really I'm just super busy and trying to squeeze in one more project...) but I just don't have time to search all over for this right now. But I'm sure somebody here would know about it if it exists.  :-[

I'm looking for a file manager that works like a backup program. (Freeware preferred.) I want something that will let me tag files and folders hierarchically the way a backup program does, but instead of archiving them, move them all at once to target drive/folder.

Actually archiving them wouldn't be so bad, as long as it used zip files and could restore them easily.

So maybe that's just... a backup program? But I don't want to image my drive or do thing on a schedule - just a simple batch tag -> backup or copy operation.

I'm sending a laptop off for repair and I want to re-image the drive with the restore disk first, to eliminate any potential driver issues, etc. I need to back up my docs, profile folders, etc. but my external drive has limited space and I don't want to wait for the entire contents of temporary internet files (for example) to come along for the ride.

Anyway, any quick help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Just a quick addition - you don't have to host a domain name in order to have an unchanging emaill address.

For years now we've had my wife's e-mail through It's a service that simply receives e-mail and forwards it on to any address you specify. Change ISPs? Simply change the address your e-mail is forwarded to.

The annual fee is really low, and you can even have multiple aliases for aggregation, etc. For a less technical user who doesn't want to deal with the whole domain regsitration/setup/maintenance process, I'd definitely recommend this service.

Pretty simple, really. New features sell, and can be charged for. Bug fixes cost as much as new features to implement, but you won't be able to sell them by themselves. Users think they should get them for free.

Also, change is hard in a market as mature as the PC market. Remember BeOS? It was a radical departure based on a manifesto of sorts: one processor per person is a dumb idea when CPUs are so cheap. Be OS was designed to run on proprietary multi-cpu BeBox hardware, and to handle the demands of a fully multi-cpu ecosystem. The hourglass would be a thing of the past.

Crash. Burn. A decade later we're just now getting multiple processors per user as the default on the desktop (and only since Intel figured out how to get them onto the same chip. Why was that so necessary?) Be Inc. gave up on the multi-cpu box first, then their OS puttered along for a while until it went down for the 3rd time.

16gb thumb drive = about $30 on eBay.

Are you using folder compression? Folder -> Properties -> General tab -> Advanced... -> check "Compress contents to save disk space" then say OK.

Works better for some file types than others, but if you've got lots of MS Office documents or uncomressed files like WAV or BMP, you could see some gains. Wouldn't do this on the WINDOWS folder, though.

Living Room / Re: What are your favorite gadgets and gizmos?
« on: June 19, 2008, 03:28 PM »
Somebody beat me to posting the ZyXel. I have one and it is a way cool gizmo. I seldom really need to use it, but every time I do, I get to feel like a secret agent! 8) There are other WiFi finders, but few as capable as the ZyXel. (Plug it in to your PC, and it can work as a WiFi access point, letting you set up a temporary WiFi network without having to muck around with ad-hoc mode.)

But to anyone who knows me, my "gadget" always refers to my PDA. I've always liked the idea of a Swiss Army computer you could carry in your pocket, but always balked at spending hundreds for something that could get dropped in a puddle at any time. Currently I have an iPaq 3670, which is ancient by most people's standards, but it was super cheap and there's still tons of freeware available for it. Among other things I can use it to read novels, check the current phase of the moon or keep my daughter entertained in the restaurant while we're waiting for dinner.

My wife has said she might buy me an iPhone for Christmas, and as much as I relish the idea, I'm slightly worried that I'll actually have to take a step down in the functionality department when I give up my old PocketPC. Plus I'll have to be a lot more careful around puddles.  :P

Sharing whole hard drives may be a bad idea, but it's the default in many versions of windows.

Browse to \\machinename\c$ on any machine where you have an admin account. Enter your admin username and password if prompted. Helllooo C drive!

Basically, any machine on which you are an admin is an open book, either at the keyboard or across the network. I don't recall having to disable simple file sharing to do this, either.

General Software Discussion / Re: Let go of your bookmarks!
« on: June 19, 2008, 02:46 PM »
I find for the sort of things I often bookmark, Google isn't all that useful.

First of all, to Google something I've got to remember what it is first. There's no reminder functionality which bookmarks provide.

Second, try googling "windows xp tips". You get thousands of hits. Which one is that particular tips site I saw a few months ago that had that list of obscure RUNDLL32 functions? Bookmarks to the rescue!

Living Room / Re: What annoys you to no end?
« on: June 16, 2008, 02:37 PM »
Ooops - late to the party, and don't really have anything to say about global warming, but stuff that annoys me  :Thmbsup:

* Lawyers without ethics
* Modern-day Pharisees
* The sad, sad state of education in the U.S.
* Wire coat hangers (Quote: "Wire hangers are the world's grouchiest items." - Oscar The Grouch)

...and the special prize for being the most consistently and enduringly annoying:

* Microsoft

General Software Discussion / Re: Let go of your bookmarks!
« on: June 16, 2008, 02:13 PM »
I don't have more than a hundred or so bookmarks in any bookmark system...

Of course, I've got at numerous bookmark systems  8)

* Work-related bookmarks (and browsing) in Firefox
* Personal interest sites that I'm likely to come back to repetedly (or at least once in a while) in Maxthon
* Project-related searches & sites saved as Groups in Maxhton (different list from bookmarks)
* Odd sites that I probably won't vist that often, but that might interest others, in
* A surf list for sites I want to visit in OneNote
* Hotlinks for frequenly-visited webcomics & entertainment sites in the K-Meleon install on my thumb drive

I also have a wish list in, which is essentially a special purpose bookmark list.

Despite all this, I usually just go to lifehacker, consumerist, donationcoder.  :P

Well, to go off in a different direction, is it possible (or practical) to simply capture the audio out of the Audible player and work with that?

I've used Total Recorder ( for years to break out DRMed music so I could put it in MP3 format. It's a virtual sound card driver and recorder program that records the output of any application that plays audio and can save it as a WAV or MP3.

If the Audible player can play an entire audio book at one go on the PC, you could start it playing overnight and in the morning have an MP3 file of the thing ready to slice/dice/burn as you please. Total Recorder is pretty smart about not recording silence, system noises, etc.

It's a great tool, and reasonably priced (about US$30 as I recall).

General Software Discussion / Re: Unallocated drive space
« on: June 04, 2008, 02:30 AM »
A lot of systems (Compaqs esp.) have a small partition on the disk that they use to store setup/recovery info. Some systems use this scheme to store the setup program, instead of running it from CMOS memory.

These partitions can have weird formatting (FAT12? or some proprietary format) that can be tough for disk part programs to deal with.

Not sure how you'd get around this one. Acronis Disk Director or similar can identify many of these partition types, but that doesn't mean you can do anything with them. And you don't want to wipe it out as it may cripple your PC's ability to run setup.

Your best bet might be to visit the PC manufacturer's website and poke around. They may have a downloadable system setup disk that will give you access to this partition, or let you recreate it on a new disk.

As for W2K, check to see if there's a "makedisk" or "makefloppy" program buried somewhere in the WINNT folder. You can use this to create the 4 floppy disks needed to boot W2K. They are setup diskettes whose purpose is to get the OS up and running to where it can read from the CD and finish setup, but they also let you run a limited recovery-console style command prompt, which you might find useful in your tinkering.

Good luck!

General Software Discussion / Re: What makes software 'good'?
« on: May 08, 2008, 12:29 PM »
Actually, there's a whole field dedicated to solving the problem of what makes good software. It's the Usability/Human Factors profession.

The problem with developing a "standard" is that the measure of how good software is depends on who is using it. Is a CD burner application with hundreds of options good software? It could be, if you are an audio engineer charged with mastering CDs for mass duplication. Probably not so much if you are a teenager who wants to make "backup" copies of CDs you've purchased.

To determine how good a piece of software is, you have to analyze how well it serves the needs of its users, and how well it matches to the way they work, the other tools they use, how they use their computer, and a range of other factors. It's like relativity - there's no privileged frame of reference. Goodness is measured relative to the users of the application.

The word "intuitive" gets thrown around a lot in these kind of discussions, but it's usually just shorthand for "who the heck knows?" "Intuitive" is a popular term because it removes responsibility from developers. By definition, it implies a certain immunity to logical analysis. But the thing is, there are perfectly objective, measurable ways you can design software that works well and serves the needs of its users. Unfortunately, there are many companies (and individuals) who don't see the need, don't want to spend the time/money or simply don't know that it can be done.

All that said, there are certain qualities of "usable" software that can be taken as touchstones of its "goodness". These were defined by Jakob Nielsen in 1993, and they are:
  • Learnability - How easy is it for new users to learn how to use the software without extensive training/assistance?
  • Efficiency - How well does the software accomplish the tasks the user is attempting to do? Does it speed the process or throw up barriers?
  • Memorability - Can you easily find that function you last used a week ago? Can you come back to the software after a few months away and still use it like a pro?
  • Error Handling - How gracefully does the software cope with the unexpected, either in interacting with the user or as the result of its own internal processing?
  • Satisfaction - How do people feel about using the software? Do they love it, hate it or just think "eh"?

This may not be an exhaustive list, but I'd say that any program that exhibits all of these qualities in abundance will be thought of as "good" software by the people who work with it.

General Software Discussion / Re: Your fav' audio CD burner?
« on: May 08, 2008, 12:09 PM »
Winamp will also burn CDs, but I primarily use it as a player and haven't really tested that aspect of it.

Living Room / Re: questions for programmers
« on: May 03, 2008, 07:54 PM »
Just saw this thread - what a great topic! Thanks, Nikki & Gally for getting it started.

As far as the first programming language and how to get started, I was reminded of Hackety Hack:

In the 1980s, a language called BASIC swept the countryside. It was a language beginners could use to make their computer speak, play music. You could easily draw a big smiley face or a panda or whatever you like! But not just BASIC. Other languages like: LOGO and Pascal were right there on many computers.

In this century, you may have dozens of programming languages lurking on your machine. But how to use them?? A fundamental secret! Well, no more. We cannot stand for that. Hackety Hack will not stand to have you in the dark!!

Hackety Hack is a learning environment based on Ruby that aims to re-create the workflow of those early BASICs - type, run, see something cool happen, tweak, and so on. It's Internet focused ("Code your own blog in 6 lines! Your own IM in twice that!") but there's no reason you couldn't write desktop apps with it too.

Might be worth a look to aspiring programmers of any age.

This may be redundant, but have you ruled out hardware issues?

I had a lot of freezing/crashing issues with one of my XP machines until I ran MS's memory testing utility and found that one of my RAM chips was failing some of the tests. Replaced it and my system's been much better ever since.

Bad hard disk sectors could also cause issues like you describe.

Got it. Thanks!

I have a script that enables my 2nd monitor and sets it to a particular vertical offset to match the physical arangement of the screens on my desk. It's a total hack based on simulating mouse clicks & drags (although watching the mouse pointer move that 2nd screen into position every time always makes me smile, and think about how many months I spent doin it by hand.)

I never bothered adding the ability to disable the 2nd monitor because it seemed like too much effort for the return on investment, since that only takes two clicks anyway.

I'll have to take a look at the code and see if I can adapt it to use screen offsets. THANKS!

BTW - I didn't seem to get the ICL in my copy of the zip file. Should it be in there?

Living Room / Re: Home Network Recommendations?
« on: April 13, 2008, 06:58 PM »
Well, depending on the version of your router, you might want to look into the alternative firmwares for the WRT-54G. Not all versions of the router can support it, but if yours can it could give you some very nice extended cababilities for no extra costs, and might improve stability as well.

Check out Tomato, Sveasoft Talisman or DD-WRT for alternative firmware possibilities.

I don't run Vista, but I have to ask... are you folks who are seeing so many of these popups running as Administrator?

Because isn't that supposed to be the point? To break people of the "habit" of running in Adminstrator mode, and breaking developers of the habit of assuming their apps will run in Administrator mode?

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