Hardware Software

Microsoft’s Hibernation Bug

This bug annoys me to no end. There are quite a few of us out there who need more than 1GB of RAM to get by these days, especially those on a laptop (trying to minimize use of that paging file because it’s on a 5400RPM Hard Drive). Officially it diagnoses the cause as:

This problem occurs because the Windows kernel power manager cannot obtain the memory resources that are required to prepare the computer to hibernate.

It seems to be something related to memory fragmentation, as many people have noted. I really hope Microsoft doesn’t wait until SP3 to release a hotfix for this. There’s more discussion of this problem here.

Oh come on Microsoft. Get us a decent patch. I really don’t want to be using something that you consider so experimental you won’t even post on your website. Especially when one of the files involved is Ntoskrnl.exe. Please take care of us. Us large memory users are Power Users, and do represent a fair amount of your business (especially since many Power Users work in corporate IT departments). Keep us happy.


Firefox 1.5

Upgrade to Firefox 1.5!

Get downloading.

And I’m still looking for news articles, so if you run across Firefox 1.5 articles, especially if they make any reference to the reporter/broken website tool… leave me a comment there.

BTW: While your downloading, thank the sysadmin’s who have been working constantly to keep the servers up, and will likely be lacking sleep for the next few days so you can download.

This is being posted slightly early, as I’ve got class for part of the evening. The webpages should be updating sooner than later.


New Laptop Redux

I definitely like my new IBM Thinkpad (made by Lenovo). I did have a few complaints of things that weren’t quite ideal, so I though I’d do a quick little post on how they have been resolved (or if I adjusted to them):

  • PATA->SATA Bridge – This little chip was causing problems prohibiting you from using a third party hard drive in a T43 without an annoying error on boot. While still not officially supported, IBM did release a new BIOS to disable the error. This makes it easier to upgrade. So I consider this fixed. A major setback, as I really want a 100GB Hard Drive in this beast.
  • Fan Noise
  • Web Navigation Keys – I got used to not having these anymore. Still liked the feature though.
  • IBM Backup Software Stinks – This wasn’t a big deal, I got Acronis True Image, and I’m thrilled with it.
  • No 2nd hard drive – Now that I can get a 100GB Hard Drive, I could partition. Now I have a lighter computer, and the storage. Very cool

In addition to these mainly minor complains, the Keyboard is a little strange. Still better than many other brands, it doesn’t feel “right”. Especially compared to my old A31. The response isn’t always there, causing missed keys, and it occasionally squeaks (mainly the trackpoint scroll button). There’s slight flex on the right side. After a little research, I found out that some T43 keyboards are made in China (Alps brand), and others are made in Thailand (NMB). A simple call to IBM today and the support rep had no problem sending me a new keyboard. This type of stuff typically ships same day (and arrives the next). Now that’s service!

So yes, I’m very satisfied now. I was satisfied, now I feel very satisfied. The keyboard was the last thing that got on my nerves. Once you miss a few keys, and know your finger touched them, you get a little frustrated. At first I blamed it on myself, and that I just need to get used to the new laptop, but I’m convinced it’s the way the keyboard is. I hear the NMB are vastly preferred.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make backup CD’s for my Thinkpad (restores to factory defaults should the HD die or I replace the HD). I made them, but the last one failed. I tried again, and couldn’t do it (in retrospect, it appears that uninstalling the backup software may have broke a shortcut or two in the whole Access IBM deal. I found a few dead ones, fixed them, and everything was fine). Called IBM, and they sent me the CD’s ASAP. Hopefully no need for them, but it’s good to have in case there is a problem.

So IBM service just rocks. They make stuff like this so easy to resolve. When I asked the rep just said “sure, I can do that for you”, and got my information. My last real complaint on the replacement computer is resolved. I guess I’m once again a completely satisfied customer. They screwed up my A31’s repair pretty bad, and the replacement process was way to slow. But I feel that I’ve been taken care of very well again.

So for anyone out there that just doesn’t understand why their Thinkpad keyboard feels inferior compared to other Thinkpads they have used, check the part number and see what model it is. The NMB’s (made in Thailand) are considered to be the better made ones.

So yes, the Thinkpad T43 gets a 5/5. It’s a fantastic laptop.

In The News Mozilla

Firefox News Articles

With the pending release of Firefox 1.5 said to be really soon , I’m getting ready to see what the press has to say, and ultimately the users.

So if you notice any news articles, feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email. I’m especially interested in anything that references the new reporter tool (aka “that broken website thing”). So if you find any of those, be sure to leave a comment or email me.

This really is the fun part of the release cycle. I’ll leave this post with a great quote from this Browser Face-Off Article:

Regardless, just having a choice is a great thing for consumers. Vive la différence.

Hardware Mozilla

Nokia 770

After seeing Doug’s post on the new Nokia 770, I totally want one. $350 is a little steep for 3hr battery life, though still extremely cool. Being Mozilla based makes it even cooler.

Checking out Maemo Planet shows some really interesting stuff is going on in the Maemo Platform. There’s already quite a few things ported. I think there is serious potential here. I imagine it’s only a matter of time until Skype ports it’s software to this device as well.

Everything but that price, and the battery life sounds perfect. I think I want one.

As usual Engadget has some pretty pictures.

Apple Mozilla

iPod Sync Unteaser

Unfortunately it’s not done yet. The big issue remaining is to ensure the Thunderbird UI doesn’t completely freeze up (which many people apparently don’t like). I just don’t feel it’s right to release like this, since it’s annoying and problematic. My first stab at it was unsuccessful, so I’m taking it on from another angle, but need some solid time to sit down and really dig into it. I’ve been hoping to also handle non-ASCII characters as well, but that might get pushed out to the next release. My plan was to have done this already, but real life interferes with my plans at times. This week is Thanksgiving (read: I’m not coding when I can be eating, as I’m sure most of you can relate with), and I’ve got finals rapidly approaching (read: less coding time). I’ve also got a few other projects that I’m balancing here. There’s lots of great announcements coming up on this blog in coming months, so keep an eye on that RSS feed.

So how much longer?
The correct answer is “when it’s done”. My true hope is by the end of the year at the latest (which is only a couple weeks). Hopefully earlier than that (I’d really like to have it by early December). It all depends how much time I get to work on it.

I guess that’s just life… everything takes a little longer than you want.

Daniel Glazman is sitting on two really sweet extensions (CaScadeS II and OpenWengo), and hacking away at them ever so diligently. So I’m not the only one making people crazy by not going fast enough (seriously, check out some of those screenshots on his blog. Really cool stuff he’s been working on).

While your waiting, check out the Mozilla Quality Blog for ways you can help ensure 1.5 totally rocks. There’s no such thing as too much testing.

Update [12-26-2005]: It’s out, and available here.


CCleaner Seems To Kick Some A**

I don’t pitch software to much, but I do review things that I buy, or download from time to time. This is one worth reviewing briefly. CCleaner really kicks some A**. I did a scan of just a few key areas, and turned up almost 2 GB of garbage. Most of it being a few key files in Windows Temp, likely left over from an installer. Lots of garbage that I really have no need for, and didn’t even know was there. I didn’t clean Firefox simply because I like my profile just the way it is.

Still not quite comfortable with a Registry Cleaning just yet, so I haven’t done that.

Overall, I’d say it’s a must download for any Windows user. Just a few minutes cleaned up my laptop quite a bit. Very nice for a free utility. I think it’s a keeper on my Hard Drive.

Google Internet Mozilla

Who killed popup ads?

New York Times writer Randall Stross said in an article that he believes that Google’s Text Ads solved the problem of popup ads littering the web (makes a mention of X10, the most annoying and popular of that era). I think the article is rather misguided as to say Google’s Text Ads got rid of the popup problem.

I’ll make the bold statement that the problem was solved by popup blockers from Mozilla, IE, Google Bar, and the many ISP solutions that popped up (pun intended) to help customers deal with the problem. Look at the number 1 reason to use Firefox. It’s Microsoft’s Number 4 and it’s on Google Toolbar’s page (when browsing in IE as they serve up different pages for Firefox) has it listed too. When so many became blocked, the effectiveness of these ads diminished. Earthlink, AOL, and friends all advertised they had popup blockers as their killer feature.

Google was the one bright enough to realize that users got so annoyed with the ads they started to ignore them. Google then realized that if Ads were to abide with their “do no evil” mantra, perhaps users wouldn’t be bothered by them. And so Google’s Text ads comes into the equation. Advertisers now have a way of reaching customers again, and popups start to die off. Most people don’t seem bothered by Google Text Ads. Personally I like them, it’s easy to support a site and doesn’t feel distracting. No Java applet ads (the worst of all, especially those video ones we saw for a while), Flash, or animated GIF’s. Just a simple line of text that’s about what I’m reading.

Why doesn’t Google push image ads more (they do offer them)? Because text blends in better. The human eye can scan a rather quickly and pick out what the brain wants to see. When you visit a website, you want to see the site’s contents. Having banner ads in predictable sizes just help the brain to ignore things quicker. Text ads blend in much more, hence may be seen within page. If I were to put a flashy animated GIF in this page, you would simply read the text around it, ignoring the ad as unwanted information. If I put a text ad there, you’ll likely read a few words. If it’s a relevant text ad, you may read it all, and perhaps click on it. text is less invasive. It doesn’t bother people nearly as much as a “punch the monkey and win a prize” style ads. Some will still ignore it, but I think the majority of people don’t really mind text ads, provided they don’t take up to much of the page. Context is so important. Why do you think beer commercials rule sporting events? Why don’t they appear as often on daytime TV? I don’t think an answer is needed there. It’s really the same thing. When an ad blends into it’s surroundings it does better. Many beer ads are well designed to integrate well into a sports broadcast by featuring either action or comedy, both entertaining values attractive to their target audience. When an ad stands out to much, you ignore it as an ad. Look at the superbowl. People watch the game just to see the ads. Why? “Entertainment”, they blend in with the theme of the evening “entertainment”. They are all made to entertain you.

Popups definitely didn’t die because of text ads. No way. It just doesn’t make sense They were too effective, hence the high commissions for sites who displayed them. Text Ads are essentially the compromise brokered by Google to help solve the battle over advertising between web surfers and content providers.

Perhaps we should send Google to the middle east?

Software Tech (General)

Sony should compensate for it’s rootkit fiasco

After this whole mess with rootkits, I’m starting to think Sony should be giving monetary compensation to those effected. Write an app to see if the rootkit was installed, and give a confirmation number. That number should be worth some hard cash, since it appears that the only way to get rid of this giant hole is to completely wipe your hard drive and reinstall your stuff (lots of time, and as we know time = money).

I don’t believe for a second this caught Sony by surprise, they knew what the software did, and how much trouble it can cause the end user. Their business strategy was simply to hope nobody noticed. There’s no way this software was written without an understanding of what it did. Absolutely no chance. Rootkits have been a topic of discussion for sometime (mainly related to spyware).

I’d say those effected deserve at least $250- per computer, likely more. Considering the best remedy right now is to backup documents, format and reinstall. That will take at least 3hrs -5hrs for most people. And for many people who don’t have much experience with this, it will take much longer.

In all honesty, Sony should face some legal consequences for fraud or hacking, since that’s essentially what they did. If a 17 year old can get 17 months for hacking Paris Hiltons cell phone (the last part of her anatomy not widely available on the internet), and Canada got a kid for 2 years, how could this be worth nothing?

If nothing happens to Sony (which is very likely), the next company to attempt this is going to take it a step further, and it’s just going to get worse. I think CNet’s article has a great title “Who has the right to control your PC?”. Very appropriate.

Update [11/21/2005 @ 1:58 PM EST]: Texas sues Sony BMG over alleged spyware. Thank you State of Texas! I still want users to be compensated though. They are the ones who get still get the short end of the stick.

Internet Networking

Pathetic Speed Part II

Decided to run a speedtest in the lab today, to compare with my test from the other day. I know they limit the dorms a bit. But boy was I suprised to see this:

8400kbps Down 3140kbps Up

That’s insane.