Too silly. I've been frustrated with a new install of XP lately because my Internet Explorer windows for some reason wouldn't keep their status bar at the bottom of the window. The status bar is remarkably useful and I use it constantly when hovering over links to see where the browser will take me upon clicking. For some reason my Internet Explorer would keep losing its status bar. I thought it could be fixed by turning it on (View->Status Bar) then exiting IE completely. Sure enough, that works. When you re-open IE, the status bar appears at the bottom. Try creating another IE window though and your status bar doesn't get created along with it. Argh. This went on for a week and then I had an idea. Microsoft has hugely integrated the abstractions and code behind folder windows, explorer windows and internet explorer windows. So, I opened up my C drive folder, turned on the Status Bar, then went to the Tools->Folder Options menu, then clicked on the View tab then finally clicked on the "Apply to All Folders" button. This effectively tells Windows to open all 'Folder' windows just like the one I am editing (which happens to have its status bar shown). Sure enough, when I re-open IE and start creating windows all the new windows have their status bar shown. WoOt! But, how in HELL would your average user figure this out? As far as most people are concerned, IE and the view of their C drive are as separate as their browser and OS. :) Oh, wait, nevermind. heh.
April 2003 Archives
If you stand by ComVentures at 305 Lytton Ave in Palo Alto, you can get a free wireless connection using SSID Colubris Networks. Why would you need to pay for you Internet access?
21VC Partners, located at 151 Lytton, Palo Alto, CA, provides a free wireless connection to all passing by. SSID is, aptly enough, 21VC.
Blogging from San Antonio Caltrain station on the Palo Alto-Mountain View border. SSID=thecrossings.net. No encryption. Nothing but net. I've downloaded NetStumbler, an excellent little app that gives you a constantly updated assessment of the wireless networks nearby. From where I sit, there are 9 networks around me. Two of which are close and unencrypted -- the main criteria for hijacking. The app also logs the networks you see, their signal to noise ratio, their strength etc over time. If you save the log you can upload it at netstumbler.com so that others can do searches for access in different areas. Ideally my log should be tied to some GPS coordinates, but I can likely upload it without them. Train is here.
I recently bought a new CD burner. The HP 3x speed burner I inherited from a friend had started producing more coasters than usable discs. I purchased a 40x Verbatim drive for $35 from Fry's. Wow. I've now been happily burning a complete CD in around 3 to 4 minutes. For software I tried out Nero, Alcohol, and some other big names.. but in the end my software of choice is BurnQuick from TritonInteractive. It integrates with Explorer so that burning files literally means selecting them, right-clicking, and choosing "Burn to CD". A simple popup window follows that asks me for the name of the compilation, the speed I want to burn at, and a few other simple options. Click Start and it burns. No silly wizards. No huge windows to pore over. Select and Burn. It even recognizes if you are burning MP3s and asks if you want to make a music CD instead. Very cool.
Larry Seltzer's article, Throw Away the Internet; Start All Over, brings up some approaches to 'fixing' the SMTP protocol and reducing spam. The title is all bark, and the article very little bite. Other than the first paragraph, where Larry proclaims that the creators of the Internet weren't thinking about security and proposes scrapping the current infrastructure and starting from scratch, the article isn't really about starting all over. He mostly talks briefly about how SMTP is inherently insecure and how a certification program for clients and servers would solve all of this. Perhaps a good idea, but the transition to such a system will likely be more difficult than the problem it is solving. Some numbers Larry throws out seem a little high to me. He figures that if people were limited to 100 emails a second, and major companies to 10,000 emails a second, that spammers would be out of a job with little to no change in habits for everyone else. 100 emails a second? Isn't that still ludicrously high? 100 per second.. 360,000 per hour... 8.64 million per day. It may be that some spammers send a lot more than 8.64 million emails a day, but I doubt they would be that upset with such a cap imposed. Where Larry is on to something though, is with the idea of making Email more expensive. The only reason your meatspace junkmail isn't as overwhelming as your electronic junk mail is because printing stuff is expensive. The US post office is expensive. If we could increase the cost of email to the point that for your average user it would only be a few dollars a month.. but for you average spammer it would cease to be economically viable, then we'd be in business. Big marketers would still pay.. but your daily dose of "Get Rich Quick" schemes, Inadequacy Pumps, sub-$100 PhDs and hot young vixens in need would be greatly reduced if not obliterated entirely. How we make email more expensive when it is so ridiculously dirt cheap right now is left as an exercise for the reader.
I'm sure my wife would say I'm being very geeky. Afterall, I did just walk through downtown Palo Alto from the train station to my house with my laptop open in my arms. I'm obsessed it seems. The world (at least here in the bay area) seems absolutely littered with wireless networks. I'm currently posting this from an alley way about 1/2 a block from my house. Thanks to "ToddsWireless" I have full access to the Internet from the top of a recycling container away from home and work. Very cool. This could get very addictive.
I've just started working with a new laptop and I've been killing some hours customizing it just to my liking. One phase of those customizations is making sure no extraneous processes are running on my computer. I don't want any process that I don't need using up my memory, slowing down my CPU, or interacting with the network in unknown ways. A potential goldmine for finding such processes is in the Services control panel. My default install of Windows XP came with over 80 installed services, approximately half of which were started and running at bootup time. The problem of course with just randomly stopping services that don't appear to be useful is that it isn't always obvious how useful services are, and stopping them can make stuff stop working. I usually would just do a Google search for the service name and find some site that explains what it is for. This works fine but can be a bit slow. I recently found a great site that provides information and advice specifically for the task of weeding out one's services. The Elder Geek explains what each service does in both Microsoft-speak as well as "Real World" lingo and also provides recommendations on who might need the service and how to configure it. An invaluable resource for people that want to squeeze every spare resource out of their machines.