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Messages - oblivion [ switch to compact view ]

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I'm not sure how many licenses OpalCalc is going to sell at $15, though, even with evangelists such as yourself.
I rarely evangelise -- I am told often enough that my taste in software is "a bit weird" that I certainly wouldn't want to insist that a particular thing is best. But the traditional calculator, however good they are (and my experiences of the things goes back to the 1970s and I still own several) is specifically designed to be finger-friendly in a relatively restricted space -- something that computerised calculator programs don't, it seems to me, need to emulate.

I tried a couple of the wabbitemu TI emulations and was thoroughly impressed with the quality of them -- and I completely get that a smartphone host for one of them would be a good idea. The restricted space and keyboard facilities apply again, so it makes sense.

For me, Opalcalc sits nicely between the input complexity of the calculator (infix or postfix? Do I start with a number and apply a trig function to it, or start with the function as if I were writing the formula on paper? How do I get at the stats functions again?) and the big iron of the fullblown spreadsheet, and it needs me to have a full-size keyboard I can use with it without having to grope for symbols.

And some of the things it can do would need Google, otherwise. How many days to Christmas? (@ 25 dec 2015 - @ today as whole days) What's $15 in euro? ($15 as euro) How many centimetres in 12 fathoms? (12 fathoms as cm)

And the developer is still tinkering with it, and that $15 is a lifetime license. Personally, I think it's worth every cent. But then, I'm a bit weird. :)

I guess it might not be the most traditional looking calculator, but I discovered OpalCalc here and ...

...well, all I can say is that I have a FARR alias CALC that loads it. :)

Follow the trail...

Well, maybe it's not all I SHOULD say. It looks basic. But it's very configurable, can be as minimalist as you want, and I've never used another calculator that hides so much power under the hood.

General Software Discussion / Re: MS-DOS Player for Win32-x64
« on: April 30, 2015, 11:57 AM »
I couldn't remember the name CompuServe until about an hour later.  :)
...and the cost of Compuserve is one of the main reasons (for me, anyway) Fidonet existed. <sigh>

General Software Discussion / Re: MS-DOS Player for Win32-x64
« on: April 30, 2015, 09:35 AM »
It's weird the stuff you find in drawers.  I had a stack of 10 CD caddies left over from around 1993.  I assumed CD drives would all use caddies so I bought a 10 pack from Computer Shopper.  I think 7 of them were still in the cellophane in 2013.  :)
Not quite the same thing, but I keep tripping over the 5-CD changer I used to have in the BBS I ran back in the late 90s. I can't quite bring myself to get shot of it, "just in case" but really... too much nostalgia is probably bad for you. (See previous comment re fingers. ;) )

General Software Discussion / Re: MS-DOS Player for Win32-x64
« on: April 30, 2015, 09:18 AM »
Heh heh.  5 1/4" floppy sounds much easier than trying that surgery on a 3.5" plastic jobber.  :)
I have a boxful of 3.5" disks that are waiting for me to get round either to destroying them or suddenly discovering a use for the things: perhaps I'll give it a try.

I might see if I can find someone with more than the usual complement of fingers to do the scalpel-work, though. :D

I have given up on free solutions, for the time being.

Mostly because the only one that even got close to being acceptable really does seem to be a bit of a pain to work with.

So I'm now trying F-Secure AV (not any of the more comprehensive solutions they offer) in trial mode.

I like F-Secure the company -- have done for years -- but have always regarded the product as more corporate- than home-friendly. But most of the other likely commercial offerings are either too bloated or past their best (or both) and some have blotted their copybooks so badly in the past that I won't go there (anything Symantec or McAfee I freely admit massive bias against!) so the available options are decreasing rapidly. So F-Secure claim to be low-impact and if that doesn't work out for me I may have to try Kaspersky, rather against my better judgement despite their popularity and apparent effectiveness (I gather it's hard to remove.)

I should say that Avast tried very, very hard to persuade me not to uninstall but went away nicely when I insisted. ;)

General Software Discussion / Re: MS-DOS Player for Win32-x64
« on: April 30, 2015, 08:23 AM »
If you feel adventurous, on the websites there are a number of other emulators, for example one for CP/M:)
A CP/M emulator? My first serious taste of the command prompt that, arguably, is still with us now? Brilliant! Let me at it!   :greenclp:

[Just because I have the urge to reminisce: my first proper computer job was Z80-based systems that were primarily turnkey word processors but ran CP/M 2.2 if you had the right boot floppy. I got given the push from that job because the -- now defunct -- company decided that a computer department just was never going to be a useful thing to have. The last thing I ever did there, before they told me I was leaving, was recover some valuable but not backed up pharmaceutical research data from a 5.25" floppy disk that had been used by some twit as a coffee mat. I used a pristine new floppy disk, the case from another, a scalpel and a disk sector editor called, if memory serves, DU. First time I ever did the (apparently!) impossible, over 30 years ago, and that's a bug that never really leaves you.]

Just an update, for what little it's worth... I'm still using Avast Free.

I don't like it much -- occasionally it's clearly doing something behind the scenes because the computer becomes unresponsive, but it's hard to see what. One of the more positive points of Comodo Free -- however sluggish it might have been in comparison -- was that you could go and look at the tasks it was running and, if appropriate, tell them to stop. Avast, in comparison, is positively secretive.

I guess I have no right to complain about the adverts it throws up, but (and I have no real evidence for this assertion) it feels like it decides it's going to put an ad on the screen come what may, whatever else might be going on, because responsiveness will just go away entirely for a few seconds, then an ad will appear, then it'll be nicely whizzy again.

A side-issue: I've never really felt comfortable with Readyboost but I bought one of those tiny Sandisk things that hardly sticks out of the USB socket at all, 8Gb, reformatted it to exFAT (having seen a suggestion elsewhere on DC) and gave it all to ReadyBoost and it actually seems to have done something useful. The netbook is still occasionally sluggish but when Avast isn't busy doing anything in the background it actually feels faster than it's ever been. So... well, we'll see. I'm still open to suggestions!

Oh, and by the way:



Panda's interface is very metro-y. (You may like this. I don't.) And although the install and initial scan went smoothly, it eventually put a "select Panda account" dialog onscreen and wouldn't let me fill it in, or even close it. Flickering pointers and no response to anything. Not a great start.  :down:

The upshot: Panda properly panda'd my netbook.  :o So much for lightweight, cloud-based security... it tried quite hard to stop me unloading it so I could take control back and uninstall -- which might be a point in its favour, I guess, sort of -- but whatever it thought it was doing around the "select Panda account" dialog didn't actually achieve anything except an awful lot of disk thrashing and an all-but-unresponsive system. It has therefore been consigned to the bit bucket.

(In the process of cleaning up after Panda I discovered that a couple of Comodo addons -- a version of Chrome called Chromodo, and a remote support tool called GeekBuddy -- weren't removed when Comodo went. So they've gone too, now. Scrubbed with Revo. ;) )

f0dder's advice notwithstanding, I've managed to get quite paranoid about the "good enoughness" of MSE and so I'm giving Avast a go, based on Ath's suggestion.

Looking good so far.  Not counting chickens, though.

I get that everyone's mileage varies, but a word to the wise (and an underlining of f0dder's warning above) my experience with Panda was bad enough that I actually wondered for a while if the disk thrashing was ransomware and I'd been taken in by some sort of diverted download that was only apparently from their site.

Another failed experiment, while I think of it, and only because they (a) offered me a good price if I ran the trial and liked it, (b) use two AV engines and (c) claim great speed and performance was  :nono2: Ashampoo. The only good thing I can say about it is that the uninstallation process was straightforward and uncomplicated. (Everything in between only served to demonstrate that people occasionally make inflated and unverified assertions about their software.)

This has presented me with such a lot of things to think about that I've done some proper research. Well, I've relied on others to do proper testing, I guess...

Anyway, the upshot seems to be that Webroot's offering above is generally considered pretty good, but I debated the subject with myself for long enough that I lost out on the free offering.  :-[ Oh well... I've removed MSE, anyway. The general view seems to be that it's not really fit for purpose any more -- ditto Defender in Win8.

I haven't settled on a final answer yet -- I'm keeping updated versions of Clamwin and MBAM handy but my current best hope is Panda Free Antivirus, which appears to be a similarly lightweight product to Webroot and seems quite well thought of. (I tried Panda AV many, many years ago and wasn't over-impressed but that would've been on a Win98 machine and the world's quite a different place now!)

One thing, though: my goodness, but my netbook runs well without a resident AV product.  :D

Oh, and eSet's AV Remover tool is a dead useful bit of kit :)

To address the problem you had with Comodo towards the end, oblivion, I believe Microsoft provided a way inside Action Center to change the way notifications are presented regarding what Windows thinks is and and isn't installed on your system in the way of security software.

I probably didn't explain myself very well on that front.

The problem here was not that Windows was telling me I was at risk. Windows was happy the moment I switched Windows Firewall back on, having disabled the Comodo one.

Comodo's tray icon, in the Pro version, only has one state when there's a security issue from its viewpoint, and IT doesn't look to see if there's an alternate firewall running, it just panics because the Comodo firewall isn't. Windows, by contrast, knows that there's a firewall running, even if it's not the Windows firewall, and only bothers to mention it at all if you go and look at the Windows firewall settings. Although it goes against the grain for me to praise Microsoft for anything, that's exactly the behaviour I'd hope for.
That would be an acceptable temporary solution until you can report the problem and Comodo can fix it.
Comodo's view seems to be that if I didn't want all the abilities of the paid version, I shouldn't have updated it.

Which I guess I can sympathise with. I assumed the paid version would be an improvement over the free version within the facilities I was actually using, not just a way to get access to components I didn't actually expect to have to use, or particularly need.

Another thing you may try is see if there's a way to reinstall the suite with just the security component(s) you'd like.

If I decide to switch away from MSE again -- and I may, I change my mind about the best security choices based on what I read and experience -- then I'll look at other possibilities too. The increase in performance of my poor little netbook since removing Comodo has been such that I'm actually thinking that I made a poor choice initially, despite the positive reviews.

As for MSE, there is no way on God's green Earth that MSE could be described as "good enough" by any stretch of the word by modern standards.

Nevertheless, might it be "good enough" given that I use Firefox with Noscript, rarely if ever connect to the net anywhere except behind a router that I've told to use OpenDNS with all the "filter out the bad guys" setting enabled and rarely if ever download stuff from places I'm not confident of?

For the time being, anyway. ;)

Just out of interest, although I've got a license for MBAM and can therefore use its realtime stuff if I want, I never have. Does anyone have a view on whether ditching MSE and turning on realtime protection in MBAM would be a step forward or back, given my other (hopefully fairly safe) practices?

Use MSE only if you are solely concerned with finding cracks and keygens on your system as that seems to be the only thing Microsoft is issuing signature updates to protect users from these days.
Does that include Defender?

My favourite realtime AV was NOD32 -- I switched away from it only really because I lost confidence in Eset's support for it compared to the fullblown security suite, and as (at the time) I was using either Windows firewall or my lifetime license for Outpost (I must check if that still exists!) depending on which machine/OS I was using, I really didn't see the point of buying into components I didn't need (where have we heard that before?!) But I'm pretty agnostic, really: I'll consider anything that's not going to cripple the machine's performance and has at least some credibility (so let's forget about Norton and McAfee!)

I've never seriously considered ClamWin (except its portable version lives on a thumbdrive in case of dire need) -- last I looked I think it was still missing disinfection facilities -- but from what you say I might be as well served by it and MBAM as I am by MSE...

Food for thought. :)

So I chose to remove it all, lock, stock and barrel, and go back to MSE.
My desktop PC is currently "only" protected with Windows' inbuilt security: the firewall and Defender.

I am guessing your last claim maybe is the actual one; right now you're not using MSE, but Windows Firewall and Defender?  :-\

I am using MSE (and Windows Firewall), and I like it.

No, I was discussing (maybe not as clearly as I might have) two systems: a Win7SE netbook (which is now running MSE and Windows Firewall) and a desktop machine which is using Win8.1 "native" security, which consists of Defender and Windows Firewall.

MSE is okay, and definitely less hard on system resources than Comodo, but it's realtime protection needs some work to get right, particularly where things like FARR are in use. Still, I got it working reasonably well last time I used it and it hasn't changed much recently... ;)

I'm pleased I'm not alone in considering it "good enough" anyway -- I occasionally worry that MSE is a big target and therefore more vulnerable to attack, almost by definition.

This isn't really a cry for help as a story detailing some of my experiences that others may find useful. I posted a version of this on Gizmo's (as I used their security expertise for one of the relevant decisions I made here) but it's a bit in the grey area for them because it's not just freeware I discuss.

I have a Win7SE netbook. It's about five years old now -- an Asus Eee -- and despite the small limitations of having Starter Edition instead of one of the more <cough> expensive versions of Win 7, it's been pretty good and very reliable.

Naturally, being something I carry around with me quite a bit, security's a greater concern than it might be if it was always sitting at home behind my router. It's had various AV packages, paid and free, on it over the years: when I first got it, I used Microsoft Security Essentials, then I discovered that MSE was tying rocks round the ankles of FindAndRunRobot so I extended my desktop's eSet NOD32 license to include it, then after I decided eSet weren't quite the company they used to be, I went to TechSupportAlert's security page looking for the current top two or three picks and, after some thought, went with the free version of Comodo Internet Security.

I've been using it for about a year. It was noisy for a while, as it learnt about its environment, but my main observation of it was that it was a bit demanding for my taste, at update time, in particular: the download of updated signatures takes what it takes but the time to apply them and the CPU usage while it does it (bearing in mind this is an Intel Atom 1.6GHz machine, not exactly a powerhouse) is enough to make me sigh and go and do something else for a while.

There are also occasional onscreen notifications that almost count as advertising. They're not too big of a deal, not frequent, but I'm often slightly grumpy about such things... however, a week or so back, one of these notifications offered me a full license for a year for $5. That's cheap enough that it hardly matters, I thought, and maybe it'll get me a bit more performance and a package that sits quietly in the background more. So I went for it.

I shouldn't have.

First, although it accepted my swiftly-emailed license key, it instantly started reporting problems. With the help of Comodo's support, the (huge!) offline installer for the current product was downloaded, the existing installation uninstalled and reinstalled from the download, configured and installed and everything looked fine again.

Except that I was now using their firewall rather than Windows. It is definitely easier to configure, it looks capable, it's nice and informative, but the performance hit the system has taken since the full Comodo Security Suite was installed and enabled has been noticeable.

This morning, I decided to switch off the Comodo firewall component and go back to Windows firewall.

The product started complaining loudly that I'm at risk, and I can't find a way to tell it to ignore the firewall's "off" status and just focus on the status of the AV engine. Performance instantly improved, at least to pre-upgrade levels, but at the cost of an "at risk" warning in my system tray that, effectively, is a false positive I can't do anything about.

So I chose to remove it all, lock, stock and barrel, and go back to MSE. I might try Comodo on my desktop machine -- Win 8.1 with a much faster dual core cpu -- just so my $5 doesn't go entirely to waste, but I'm not sure right now that I want to...

I've never been completely happy with any sort of software suites: I'd rather choose components that fit my needs rather than hoping that (as in this case) the other bits that get bundled with my antivirus of choice were also fit for purpose. I get the concept of integration, I'm just not sure it ever really delivers on its promises... ;)

My desktop PC is currently "only" protected with Windows' inbuilt security: the firewall and Defender. From what I think I know about Windows 8.1 and the inbuilt security stuff, coupled with the fact that I try to practice what I preach on the subject of sensible web browsing (and I use OpenDNS with their more sensible levels of security chosen and locked into my router) I'm probably okay, and $5 isn't much to lose (to the extent that if I ask for a refund I'll probably just add it to my DC donation for this year!) but I COULD try it on the desktop box...

Anyone got an useful $.02 to chip in?

(This won't be the first time I've wasted cash on security software: I bought a lifetime license for Vipre a while back that was sufficient of a learning experience that I didn't even bother documenting it above :) )


I should try to spend more time on DC -- it's rather nice not always to have to explain things and for people to understand anyway! :)

Oh, I also had the bright idea of a mug design that looked like


possibly in crt-style green on black, but I decided it was a bit too smartass.  :)

Okay, I've amended it a bit. I've stripped out the background colour, tarted Cody up a bit, got rid of the radiant lines that, on reflection, I never really liked and changed the font.

Font choice is still relatively arbitrary -- if anyone has strong preferences, I can probably get close -- but I'm reasonably happy with this.

MugDesign2015 redux.png

I've only just got back to thinking about this again. Should I forget all about it, rework it for NANY2016 or is it still worth trying to fix up the image above?

Please please please someone with artistic abilities make a custom mug design. :Thmbsup:

I'm not completely convinced by this, but if anyone likes it I can tweak.

(Disclaimer: I can't draw. Cody was therefore stolen from elsewhere on the site, extracted from the original graphic and repurposed.)
 (see attachment in previous post)

I like it but Cody seems to be missing part of his tail and hand :(

I might not have extracted Cody from the original graphic very carefully. Sure I can fix that.

Also...not entirely turned on by the choice of font...but that might just be me xD
Now I look at it again, I'm not entirely sure I disagree. My workload is maxing out again right now but I'll see if I can find something a bit less 1970's sci-fi in the next day or three. ;) I think I was trying to do something distinctive rather than bland but I might have rushed that bit. :)

Living Room / Re: Do you use a Portrait mode monitor?
« on: November 13, 2014, 08:25 AM »
The first is probably trivial: you can't really stretch a wallpaper across an L-shaped space. I must research the possibility of landscape and portrait wallpapers being used simultaneously...

I never tested it with that configuration, but you might consider giving my Wallpaper Welder application a try.

I'm impressed -- it works really well!

I'd found DisplayFusion by the time I saw this but it does an awful lot I don't need, whereas WW does just what I want, no more and no less, so I think WW may well be a keeper. Thanks, skwire -- another extraordinarily fine piece of work!  :Thmbsup:

Please please please someone with artistic abilities make a custom mug design. :Thmbsup:

I'm not completely convinced by this, but if anyone likes it I can tweak.

(Disclaimer: I can't draw. Cody was therefore stolen from elsewhere on the site, extracted from the original graphic and repurposed.)


Living Room / Re: Do you use a Portrait mode monitor?
« on: October 31, 2014, 05:20 AM »
Until I read this thread, I'd never really considered portrait mode.

My work setup is two monitors, and I always have Thunderbird glued to the right hand monitor. And it occurred to me that Perry's setup might work well for me.

So right now, my right hand monitor is portrait. I like it -- although there are a couple of downsides.

The first is probably trivial: you can't really stretch a wallpaper across an L-shaped space. I must research the possibility of landscape and portrait wallpapers being used simultaneously...

The second might be more important. I'm not sure why -- probably something to do with pixel shapes -- but although my monitors are completely capable of displaying the same colours when they're both landscape, I'm really struggling to make the portrait monitor's colours look identical with the landscape one. Even with Lutcurve's help (but that might be my own stupidities -- I'm not very good at achieving the results an expert probably could, and I tend to give up at the "that'll have to do" point!)

However: most of the stuff I do (with the exception of file management and web browsing) seem to benefit from as much vertical real estate as possible -- to the extent that my taskbar is always vertical and autohidden so I think I'll persevere, at least for the time being. Thanks for giving me the idea!

As usual, great newsletter -- and it's been a particularly useful diversion of attention from things that make me go  :wallbash: so many thanks!

Living Room / Re: Your favorite podcasts?
« on: October 28, 2014, 10:11 AM »
I'm very, very behind on my podcasts: I try not to skip too much but I seem to download more than I have time to listen to so I'm about a year behind, right now. So this list might include things that aren't as good as they used to be, I guess...

Not all of them are safe for work, mostly on language grounds. Google them by all means but I won't post links, for that reason.

Answer Me This
The Bugle

These two usually make me laugh. The latter would be topical if I were up to date but it's worth it for John Oliver -- yes, that John Oliver -- and Andy Zaltzman's unique take on world politics. The former is ... well, the clue is in the name. It's also usually funny.

I'm not sure of availability outside the UK but the BBC produces quite a few weekly podcasts that I like. In particular, the Friday Night Comedy podcast, which is always news-based comedy, and More Or Less, which is about statistics, often the sort that are misquoted by politicians and journalists, and is usually a lot more interesting than you might think. (There's a version of it that's broadcast on the World Service and I imagine the podcast of that one is available everywhere, even if the others aren't.)

And I've been recommended Radiolab, but apart from hearing a bit of one in a documentary podcasts about podcasts (!) I have yet to hear a full one. I have a few downloaded, though...

I've recently reluctantly given up on Escape Pod. Excellent, good quality sf stories but I have to try to clear the backlog somehow... and Greg Proops' Proopcasts were often amusing (also somewhat NSFW) but patchy and his lengthy diatribes on the subject of baseball aren't a good fit for British ears, so I, possibly also unfairly, gave up on those too.

Mostly, podcasts are for car journeys and distracting me from the tedium of things like vacuuming; I have a rolling playlist that ensures I listen in chronological order and -- with extremely rare exceptions -- they're deleted after listening.

I've only just seen this, Mouser: I don't seem to have had much time to do anything around DC lately but the newsletter jumping up and down in my inbox finally persuaded me that I needed to read it.

The downside of having pets that you're pretty much guaranteed to outlive is that every so often, this is inevitable.

And you can tell yourself that all you like, if you don't cry big tears when they die, you're probably not normal.

I have no intention of trying to match the eloquence of others on this thread, but I'm sorry for your loss.

But like the man said, Saffron's not gone while you remember her.

best wishes


Anyone else?
It's working okay for me too, but I'm not doing anything complicated with it -- in particular, I'm only capturing the content of an entire (vnc) window and I'm not capturing audio.

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