30-Something Married-With-Small-Children Software-Developer.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Tools For Safe Surfing
Connecting to the Internet has become like running the gauntlet. You need to protect yourself a best you can while connected and clean your wounds once you have finished. All the programmes mentioned below need to be updated regularly, less so the firewalls.
The cleaners are Spybot-S&D (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html) and Ad-Aware (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/support/download/#free). They complement each other well and together I don't think they leave much if anything behind.
The spy-ware guard is SpyWareBlaster (http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html). Its job is to stop the dodgy stuff loading itself in the first place. The Spybot-S&D program detects Spywareblaster and recommends its use.
AntiVir Personal Edition (http://www.free-av.com/) is a free antivirus program from HBEDV. It is better than Grisoft's AVG Free Edition (http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php/doc/2/) because it will treat the virus on discovery. The downside is that its updates are big and slow so Grisoft may well have the upper hand on a dial-up system.
I suggest one of two often recommended firewalls: Zone Alarm (http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/home.jsp) and SPF (http://smb.sygate.com/download_buy.htm). I use SPF but I have installed Zone Alarm on other machines as well since it was suggested to be for the less technical user.
Monday, October 11, 2004
The Tale Of The Overloaded PC
The hard drive is 93% full and 15% fragmented. Things are going slow.
It’s a HP Omnibook 4150 (366 MHz Pentium II, 128MB RAM, 4 Gigabyte hard drive) and some not-so-smarty-pants has Windows XP Professional loaded on to it. Things will never get much faster, not on this laptop PC anyway.
It comes with a CD-ROM drive, PSU, a PC-card modem with no lead and a new owner who is disturbingly innocent at times, disturbingly innocent as in: how could she have bought this.
It would have been better if the original Windows 98 was left on, it could have done very nicely, but what can you do? With no original recovery or installation disks: an OS reinstall of a machine of this type has too many risks.
First thing to do was to make space on the hard drive. There was a lot of game (CDs needed), demo, PDA and mobile phone software. There was also an install of Office XP (yip, with Windows XP and on this spec of machine). Off they all came.
Finally the previous owner's (he sold to his girlfriend's sister) account was wiped. I genuinely hope that there was nothing he wanted in there that he didn't take a copy of before hand, I could had left it but there was 3/4 of a Gig of stuff in there and most of it looked like music, Buffy, lo-res 'phone pictures and more games.
Crap Cleaner (http://www.ccleaner.com/) removed another 230 Meg. Yipped we are at 57% free hard disk.
So next I clean up the registry after all those uninstalls and deletes. To do this I just used CCleaner again, this time with Tweak Now registry cleaner (http://www.tweaknow.com/RegCleaner.html) and a trial version of Winguides Registry Mechanic (http://www.winguides.com/regmech/). I also used two trial versions of registry defragmenting programmes (http://www.acelogix.com/regcompact.html and http://www.elcor.net/rdefrag.php).
Then I thoroughly defragmented and generally sorted the hard drive out with a trial version of VoptXP (I really should buy this) from http://www.vopt.com/VoptXP.htm.
Things are running a good bit more bearably now. A quite passable performance, particularly if you don't try to do two things at once, even.
Only a few things left to do now. I can't see the point of looking for any driver updates, just be thankful it works. It looks like it has never been connected to the Internet and there are no modem leads, so I hide all the Outlook Express and IE desktop references using the Tweak UI PowerToy.
Last thing: some applications. I installed Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org/), IrfanView (http://www.irfanview.com/) and JetAudio (http://www.jetaudio.com/download/) For some reason (will it ever be used?)I also installed the GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/). The disk is still only 50% used.
I'm guessing/hoping the applications have small execution foot prints. So with regular use of CCleaner and Microsoft’s built-in disk cleaner and defragmenter this laptop will do for its light office work regime until something breaks.
I've put together a list of recommended parts for usability: USB floppy drive (CD writers are too dear)(actually a 128/256 Meg USB pen drive might be better) and USB modem (for a total of £42). Sadly a RAM upgrade is too dear (£40 or £80 for a new total of 192 or 256 Megabytes) to justify. A new PC would be the only thing really worth her spending any real money on.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Why I Am Running On Windows At Home
If people were to ask me, “Why do you have Windows on your home PC and not something like Linux or something?“ and they might because they talk like that around here, then my answer would be, "Games". I like games. I even pay for them. My favourite is the IL-2 Sturmovik set of combat flight simulators. They are what force feedback joysticks were created for.
Flight Gear (http://www.flightgear.org/) is THE open source fight simulator.
If you prefer to fly around space then there is VegaStrike (http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/).
For real life outer space there is Celestia, (http://www.shatters.net/celestia), if you can't cope with the reality of Celestia you can always add in the Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien and other SF objects and systems that are available.
There are also some really slice screen savers about (http://www.reallyslick.com/).
Monday, September 27, 2004
PC Hardware Monitoring
How fast are your fans spinning? How hot is your CPU/Hard Disk/Case? What are your clock rates and multipliers?
Here are some free programmes that provide all the PC metering you should need.
The original Motherboard Monitor (http://mbm.livewiredev.com/) is no longer being actively developed but it is still good for current motherboards so take a look.
An alternative that is till under active development is SpeedFan(http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php).
CoolMon (http://www.coolmon.org/) is a cool monitor that can monitor a lot of things about your PC as well as display data from Motherboard Monitor as well as SpeedFan. CoolMon is currently being rewritten to version 2.0.
Finally there is CPU-Z and PC Wizard from (http://www.cpuid.com/) that tell one all about their CPU and PC system. PC Wizard can link with Motherboard Monitor but in my case it got the case and CPU temperatures transposed....
I Now Know What A Browscap File Is
Do you? Web servers use them to identify the capabilities of browsers and the like. Just like termcap and printcap files then. The print cap file can be found at (Windows) WINNT\system32\inetsrv\browscap.ini.
NASA's World Wind program is big and uses a lot of bandwidth. It will let you see what your house looks like from space. It is a very impressive program. I got a lovely view of Navy Pier in Chicago IL with tour boats tied up along side. I was also very disappointed because I don't live in the USA and outside the USA the resolution drops to 1 pixel per kilometer. Maybe they plan to change that someday as the names of the villages in my area where there. I can't complain thought as NASA is a USA public funded organisation and I don't pay for them.