197 Articles


12 years Ago

Like a Brick Wall

Published by marco on

The Sales pitch is low and away (Macalope) tells us that Steve Ballmer is all agog over Vista. Hardly surprising considering the source, who’s widely known as “monkey boy” throughout developer circles for his excitable antics. Drinking your own kool-aid is almost never pretty, but Steve takes a big ‘ol swig for us:

“Asked about the timeline for Vista service packs, Ballmer quipped that as it is the highest-quality, most secure and reliable Windows operating system ever, there should be no need for a... [More]”

Storage Boom

Published by marco on

As of today, there are new rules in effect governing storage of electronic data for companies doing business in the United States. Though the title of this article is a bit misleading, New rules compel firms to track e-mails (Yahoo), it’s more or less true. More accurately, companies will have to keep track of every scrap of digital detritus that may be needed in possible future lawsuits.

“The rules, approved by the Supreme Court in April, require companies and other entities involved in federal... [More]”

Finding a domain name

Published by marco on

 Lookup for earthliThese days, it’s incredibly hard to find a domain name that hasn’t already been taken. This odious process usually involves going to a domain name provider and typing in a desired name, hitting submit and hitting back when the ensuing page shows that the desired name is taken. PC Names has found a perfect use for Ajax, testing the domain name you’ve typed as you type it and showing the results for .com, .net, .org, info, .biz and .us below.

There are other tools as well, for searching all... [More]

Spolsky’s Choices

Published by marco on

The article, Choices = Headaches by Joel Spolsky, starts with the following screenshot of Microsoft Windows Vista:

 Vista 'Off' Choices

From there, he launches into a diatribe on a surfeit of choice. It’s pretty well-written, as usual from Mr. Spolsky, but somewhat poorly aimed, also as usual from Mr. Spolsky. The basic premise is a good one: don’t provide more choice than your customers know how to deal with. Provide just enough and no more. Extra functionality should be available to those who need it and no one else.

His... [More]


Published by marco on

 The ZuneDo you hear that sound? That’s what Apple shaking in its boots sounds like. With the Zune, Microsoft enters the personal music player fray, diversifying further into the hardward market. It’s like an iPod, but it’s not from Apple; it’s from a company you can trust.

It was accidentally released a tad earlier than expected, but that alone can’t explain the way it’s stumbled from the starting blocks, tripped over its own shoelaces and face-planted into the tarmac. The trouble started with the... [More]

Fun with Windows Display Drivers

Published by marco on

In order to enhance the learning process, the lessons learned will come first:

  1. Using the “Hibernate” feature will eventually bite you in the ass
  2. Hibernating while using an external monitor as the primary display is a bad idea if that display will not be around when Windows re-animates
  3. Doing step (2) while attached to a display that is rotated 90 degrees is a sure-fire way to see things in Windows XP you haven’t seen since Windows 3.1.

In order to begin a rip-roaring rollercoaster of an... [More]

Visor − Quake Console for your Mac

Published by marco on

 Visor on YmirVisor is a plugin for the Terminal from the same people that brought you Quicksilver, the navigation and search tool many people swear by. Basically, you install it along with another extension, SIMBA. Though the installer puts everything in the System/Library folder, moving them to ~/Library as indicated in the instructions works fine. You can configure the terminal window displayed by Visor with special settings; note that the screenshot has a semi-transparent window, even though the standard... [More]

Graphing Web Sites

Published by marco on tag graphThe article Websites as graphs introduces an online tool for creating art out of HTML code. The online version of the grapher accepts a URL and then retrieves and processes the page, tag by tag, building a graph, which displays the connections and nesting. The graph is built in real-time, but deliberately slowly[1], so that it starts with a few large nodes, then seems to zoom out as more nodes are added. As new branches lead to more and more clusters of nodes, the branches “wave” around to get out... [More]

Office 2007 Innovations

Published by marco on

The next version of Microsoft Office looks to be quite a bit different from the last several releases, which were, on the whole, rather disappointing evolutions of the base products. Each version introduced more features without giving users any way of coping with “featuritis”—a term coined to describe Office. At one point, the menus started hiding unused features in an effort to appear smaller, but commands were still hidden in menus and the notorious nested dialog chains that hampered... [More]

Boot Camp for Mac OS X

Published by marco on

 Boot Camp is the newest product recently released with the OS X 10.4.6 update. With it, Mac users can resize their hard drive, create a new partition and install Windows XP on it. It burns a CD with all the necessary drivers prior to Windows installation. Windows XP is not included.

In order for Boot Camp to do what it does, Apple adjusted its EFI-only firmware to be able to emulate an old-style BIOS so that Windows recognizes it. They also built an initial set of Windows drivers for their... [More]

Windows Vista Build 5342

Published by marco on

Microsoft recently released another build of Windows Vista to members of their developers network. A flurry of screenshots ensued. The system appearance, if not its feature set, is starting to stabilize and shows signs of having had input from graphic designers for this go-round. Windows Vista Screenshots (Only4Gurus) provides the latest batch in what they show to be a long line of screenshots from the various Blackcomb/Longhorn/Vista incarnations from over the years.

Initial Impression

The basic... [More]

Hasta La Vista, Baby

Published by marco on

 Following close on the heels of their delay announcement last week, Microsoft finally dropped all pretenses and cancelled the next version of Windows entirely in a press release early this morning.

Vista was plagued throughout its many-monikered existence by delays, feature withdrawals and a heavy amount of FUD[1]. Windows Vista slips…out of sight (The Register) has a full history of the troubled software:

“Harking back to the days of the XP beta “Whistler”, which was regarded as a code cleanup and facelift... [More]”

Synchronizing iTunes Libraries

Published by marco on

This is a synopsis of the instructions I found at New PC & moving itunes library, which didn’t strike me as concise or to-the-point enough for the less-savvy user.

Target Audience

This guide is for people who do not let iTunes organize their music for them.[1] It further assumes that you’ve already copied your music files (mp3, m4a, ogg, etc.) to the new computer. This guide will show you how to make iTunes on the new computer use the ratings, play count and other information from the old... [More]

John Dvorak: A Cautionary Tale

Published by marco on

Simply put? John Dvorak is a troll. He is a click-through slut who will write anything to get people to visit his site. Since he doesn’t seem to get sued for libel and he garners ratings, PCMag hasn’t fired him yet for constantly making predictions that fail to come true. His latest opus is called Will Apple Adopt Windows? (do not click, see below), in which he predicts that Apple will abandon their OS X in favor of licensing Windows for their hardware. Here’s a good example of his... [More]

Irish Case Mod

Published by marco on

The Whisky PC is a PC inside a whisky bottle. It’s about the size of a Mac Mini and looks pretty cool.

It’s apparently not so easy to do, as the guy (I’m assuming) who made the case had to get it professionally done:

“I tried to cut and drill couple of similar bottles at home but I realized that my tools are not good enough for it, then finaly a professional glass grinder man prepared the whisky bottle for me. He made two holes: one at the back of the bottle for CPU cooling and one at left... [More]”

13 years Ago

“Top of the Line” Workstation Redefined

Published by marco on

 PowerPC G5 (Side View)The new quad processor solution from Apple for their G5 line is an amazing machine. It would certainly be good enough for any other company to trumpet as their flagship product. Not Apple. If you enter their online shop and start to configure a system, you’ll notice that there is a curious option under “Graphic Cards”.

“Quadro FX 4500 / 512MB SDRAM [+ CHF2400.00]*”

*I was shopping in the store in Switzerland … that’s about $1875.


Google will tell you that this is not a typo — the... [More]

Technology Reporting

Published by marco on

Tech reporting is spiraling ever downward: information generally starts out in the form of a carefully vetted press release and is copied verbatim to one of the big “news” sites (CNet, I’m looking at you), where it’s adorned with banner ads and clever user comments. From there, other sites copy chunks of these “articles” and paste them on their own pages with their own ads and their own clever users. As an example, there is this short article called Microsoft Takes Aim At Google (Slashdot). It is quoted... [More]

How to buy an LCD

Published by marco on

 Apple LCD (not reviewed)Budget LCD Roundup April 2005 (Firing Squad) is a perfect guide for people looking to buy an LCD. Let me rephrase that to anyone looking for a computer, because CRTs barely even exist anymore. In fact,

“For those of you who still have a CRT monitor on your desk right now, know that it will likely be the last CRT you will ever own. … Your vintage high-end CRT is better than many CRTs being produced today.*”

*That’s me. I’ve got two vintage 19" Viewsonics, both 5 years old.

Pixel Speed

So, LCD it is, then.... [More]

Mac OS X Tiger − a Promising Future

Published by marco on

 Now that Mac OS X Tiger has been out for about a month, the next wave of more in-depth reviews are coming out. These provide a more hands-on critique than the initial wave of sycophantic “reviews” that were mostly created by copy/pasting Apple’s press releases. Some of the latest reviews sing Tiger’s praises, offering workarounds for weaknesses and others are harsher critiques that take Apple to task for breaking their own UI guidelines.

Mac OS X 10.4 − more bling than bang? by Andrew Orlowski (The Register) mentions right off... [More]

Browsing the web faster

Published by marco on

Browser Speed Tests offers an in-depth speed comparison of dozens of popular browsers (in different versions and platforms) in several categories:

  • Startup time
  • Table rendering
  • CSS rendering
  • JavaScript
  • Graphics (downloading and displaying multiple graphics)
  • History (traversing back and forth)

The results are hardly surprising for those that have tried and used different browsers: Opera wins in amost every category. On Windows, it’s almost twice as fast as any other browser in most of the... [More]

Standing out by Blending in − Development on OS X

Published by marco on

OS X is a demanding environment for budding applications. There are a lot of customs, rules, standards and recommendations to follow in order to integrate properly with the rest of OS. Since the OS that Apple delivers is so strongly integrated in its look and feel (you can’t change the Aqua theme without third party software), applications that do whatever they like feel somehow “wrong” and get uninstalled.

 Delicious Library (Ars Technica) reviews the product of the same name (their attention to graphic... [More]

Wikipedia Comes of Age

Published by marco on

 They say you’re nobody until somebody hates you; it proves that you’ve gotten noticed and are having an effect, if nothing else.

Wikipedia is an online, extremely complete and cross-linked encyclopedia built using the Wiki online collaberation software and available in several languages. The English Wikipedia has 450,000 articles, while the German Wikipedia has a respectable 188,000 articles. What’s more, it’s created completely by its users and visitors, constantly evolving and growing with... [More]

Bill Gates Talks About DRM

Published by marco on

Anyone who can remember the anti-trust case brought by the U.S. Justice Department against Microsoft (and I know that, since nothing really came of it, we can forget that it ever happened or that Microsoft was actually convicted of anti-trust and illegally obtaining and abusing their monopoly) will recognize the Bill Gates we see in a pair of interviews he gave recently.

Gates taking a seat in your den ( is a longer one (four pages), in which he shows off his unique interviewing style in which a... [More]

OS X Tiger approaches

Published by marco on

The MacWorld Expo has come and gone. Steve Jobs has demoed OS X Tiger once again and there are neat animations of some of the cooler features coming this year (second quarter 2005) to a Mac near you. I thought three of these were particularly interesting.


The OS X Dashboard (click ‘Play here now’ in the desktop picture shown near the top of the page) “is home to a new kind of application called widgets”. There are a ton of these widgets, for checking weather, converting units,... [More]


Published by marco on

Scraping and ad-stripping Google’s results is an explanation/manifesto explaining why they offer open-source code for scraping the Google search results pages.

“If done in the public interest and not for profit, it’s legal. What’s more, Google can’t block you if they can’t find you.”

Their basic point is that Google has built a $50 Billion market cap simply by trawling the Internet for content you’ve created, attaching ads to it and serving it all up in super-context-sensitive search results.... [More]

Define “stupid” on the web

Published by marco on

I once had a conversation in an Opera forum with another user about document standards, validating web sites and browser support/detection. His opening salvo was as follows:

Coding to make your site break for 8% of your visitors is definitely stupid, whether you do it because of ignorance or evil is irrelevant. Sites that require MSIE pretty much never validate, and obviously you can’t even start thinking of incompatibilities between IE6 and IE5 before you have checked that your code is valid.... [More]”

14 years Ago

You’ve got XP

Published by marco on

It sounds like a venereal disease when you say it like that.

Whereas your health is not endangered by Windows XP (yet!), the latest numbers from security services around the world are out and they agree that:

“[20 minutes is] how long your average unprotected PC running Windows XP will last once it’s connected to the Internet … before it’s compromised and effectively 0\/\/n3d.”

Infected in 20 minutes (The Register) takes you through the by-now familiar drill of security problems with Microsoft’s flagship... [More]

Extensions and Plugins

Published by marco on

PC Magazine Reviews Firefox, Opera (Slashdot) is a discussion about Firefox, for the most part. Several times during the discussion, people praise the Extension Manager in Firefox.

It’s not enough.

To really take off, this Extension Manager is an excellent base. However, if you visit the site and see the jungle of plugins that await you, you’re a fool if you think “most” people are willing to wade through it to configure their browser. Programmers and geeks love it. “Most” people will not.

Here’s the... [More]

Spam Gourmet

Published by marco on

 Here is an intriguing solution to spam. An infinite supply of email addresses; useful for when you must submit a usable email address (e.g. where a mail is sent to verify registration).

All mail sent to addresses you give out from spamgourmet is routed through that site and filtered through rules before going to your real address. For example, if your user name is ‘dude’, then you can sign up for a dodgy website with:

This will allow 5 messages sent to this... [More]

Microsoft vs.

Published by marco on

Stupid Microsoft Tricks by Robert Cringely (PBS) talks about recent happenings in yet another lawsuit for anti-competitive practices that Microsoft is involved in; in this case, they are accused of flat-out stealing another company’s technology after prolonged (2 years) discussions with that company about licensing.

When asked to provide all emails from that period, the record at Microsoft came up blank for 35 weeks.

“The reason for this mass erasure, it was explained, is that Burst technology was unimpressive and not... [More]”