Now in yummy caramel flavour!

Monday, January 31, 2005

More ways with Linux 

After more than a fortnight of frustration trying to get my wireless card working with a Linux driver, I now find that a good deal of cards will work with a Windows driver and a copy of ndiswrapper*. Arrrgggh!!, wish someone would have pointed out that minor detail to me. OK... back to the drawing board.

*Ndiswrapper is to Windows drivers what Wine is to Windows programs.
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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Slipstream - what, you mean you don't know what it is? 

It's one of those secret things you find out by accident, and kinda makes you wonder how it slipped you by, (pardon the pun). Just type the phrase "slipstream" into Google and you'll wonder how you never got to hear about it.
This is a damn handy preparation tool that is fully automated within windows. It just requires you to issue a couple of commands in DOS.

So... what is it?
It's the process by which you integrate a service pack into your operating system and then create a bootable CD for it. The result is you get an up to date copy of Windows without the need to spend hours installing hotfixes, patches and packs in order to get it bang up to date.
I slipstreamed with the help of these two articles, but there are a few more listed below that you may also find useful.

Webtree
PC Stats
One Computer Guy
blogs.linux.ie
Help with windows

Windows2000 and WindowsXP have a very similar process.
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

And now for some fun....... 

Can you think of any more?











Have fun making your own here
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It stinks 

Whilst we are on the subject of refuse, I feel I have to share my drive to and from work with you.
Around the J6/7 area of the M1 you are compelled to close all the vents and windows in your car. The reason being the repulsive chemical, rotting smell that permeates the interior of your vehicle, should you not react quick enough.
After a quick scan of Google, I can only assume that the nauseating stench is coming from the Pishiobury Site of Wastelink, judging by the location.
It makes driving in the Summer across that section very unpleasant.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Taking the...... 

Right.... I want to gripe at you about rubbish. Not I don't mean I'm going to waffle for 5 minutes, I'm talking about refuse, or more accurately, refuse collection.

Now, I'm not knocking the refuse guys for one minute, they do a great job and (most of the time) they turn up on the right day, so no complaints there. No... my moan is with the council.

When we moved in to our shiny new home it came fitted with a dustbin cupboard - "what a great idea", we thought. "That will keep all the smelly rubbish out of sight and the foxes and badgers (yes, we have badgers too) won't be able to get at it. "
Our delight was shortlived however, when less than three months after moving in, the council adopted a 'collect at the property boundry' policy. OK, we thought, that's a pain in the arse and kind of makes the cupboard redundant, but we can live with that. So we started leaving our rubbish at the bottom of the drive.

Then, this Christmas, the council posted their revised collection times for the holiday fortnight. In very small letters at the bottom, it said "and then fortnightly thereafter". Great! Slipped that in rather slyly, didn't they?

Now the logic behind this is that if households recycle their rubbish, the remainder won't be much and probably only needs collecting every two weeks.
So the following week I ring the council offices and ask to join the pilot recycling scheme. This involves being given two plastic bins - one for cardboard and paper and the other for plastic and metal. Whilst on the phone, the dazzling receptionist casually mentions that we have the dubious honor of being added to the Wheelie bin list, "...but not until next year". My mood slumps. I've heard all about wheelies. They only collect once a fortnight, if you want the larger one you have to pay and anything that doesn't fit in the bin doesn't get collected. "Oh they're not that bad", she chirps. Yeah, well tell that to the thousands that use and detest them.

The recycle bins arrived nearly two weeks after I requested them, so I put them straight to use. They're not very big, so it didn't take a lot to fill them - in fact they filled up rather too quickly. One week later and they were stuffed. Again, they're only going to be collected once a fortnight. Now it appears at the moment like they are stilll being collected weekly, which is great. I can just about manage that - but fortnightly? That's hardly encouraging me to be green, it's about 3 miles to the refuse site and that involves me driving a smelly car and contributing to greenhouse gasses.

Now you've heard the phrase "great idea in principle", I'm sure. I think here's another good example of that phrase being put to use. Make us 'green' by all means, I can even live (*gasp*) with the wheelie bin if that's how it has to be, but please don't subject us to fortnightly collections, smelly bin cupboards and frequent trips to the refuse site.

Subliminals [WK103] 

  1. Material world::Madonna
  2. Satin sheets::Moody Blues
  3. Blizzard::Snow!
  4. Real estate::House
  5. Dress up::Party
  6. Wesley::Snipes
  7. Robber::Swag
  8. Saliva::Gland
  9. Slave::To the Rhythm
  10. Shift::Gear
Join in the game
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Monday, January 24, 2005

Starting Afresh 

Well reformating the PC was fun. Here is as good a place as any to document it, should I have the misfortune to have to go through it again. You never know, I may save someone from similar heartache, should they stumble upon this post sometime in the future.

Here's what you need to do (preferrably in this order!)
  1. Export all your email accounts.
  2. Export all your browser favourites.
  3. (Optional) Export all your emails.
  4. (Optional) Export all you web account settings.
  5. Obtain the driver for your video card and any other bits of hardware that use non-standard drivers.

If you have a burner, the following maintenance will save you a lot of heartache in the future:
  1. When you download new programs, save the install files to a separate directory called "Downloads" or something similar.
    Before a fresh install, back up this directory to disc.
  2. If you have good clone software like "Norton Ghost", now's the time to put it to use. If you don't yet own "Norton Ghost" and you have the cash, it is a worthwhile investment, and I would recommend it for backups and crash recovery. Clone your drive (yes, I know it's going to take at least 8CDs, but you'll be thankful you did.)

Now for the format / install:

Viola! One functioning system. If you have "Ghost", install it. Anything that you forgot will be on the Ghost discs, which you can browse and extract.

One final thing, if you have Ghost, get the system to bare-bones functioning, so it is a nice lean, clean system with all the software and drivers required and then clone it. That way you can always go back to a system that is ready to go very quickly.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Two steps 

Well the plan tonight was to reinstall Windows on one PC and use the Linux PC while the other one was being put back to a state of readiness.
Well..... that was the plan anyway. The reality turned out quite differently.

First job, reinstall Windows and while thats running, clean the inside of the Linux PC because it's starting to stink and the fan doesn't sound healthy. (So far.. so good). OK, install complete - reboot.

Then the Linux PC starts to smell. I put my hand down the back of the case - nothing blows out of the CPU vent. Oh crap! I switch off the PC and sulk.

The Windows PC finishes booting. Ick! look at those graphics!! Oh well, never mind, we can work on the drivers later, let's browse the Ghost files and start putting some programs back....

Windows balks... not enough space to load Ghost. (what???) I look at the C drive. WTF? There's plenty of room, what's the problem? Check permissions, all OK. So I then alter the boot sequence in the BIOS to boot only from the CD, in the hope that it will start to install off the disc - nope, it still wants to boot from the HDD. (Windows 2, User 0)
At that point I notice I have the option of booting into Windows, or booting into Windows, so just for kicks I pick the second option. Yep, I booted back to my old setup. Took a while for my tired brain to catch on. I now had TWO copies of Windows.

My brain has also burnt out. I'm going to give it a rest and try this again in a few days.... maybe.
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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Subliminals [WK102] 

  1. Yoda::Master
  2. Mensa::Brain
  3. Pink::Singer
  4. Text message::SMS
  5. Galactic::Battlestar
  6. Chicks::Fluffy
  7. Quesadilla::Mexico
  8. Backpack::Walker
  9. Socket::Electricity
  10. Compromise::Settlement
Join in the game

Yet more fun 

I didn't spot it straight away, but the little moneys shipped my laptop with a US keyboard!
In other news, the NIC still refuses to work, despite my attempts to troubleshoot - oh what fun.
Still despite all that, the laptop *is* gorgeous. Look, here's a picture of it:

Proper one of my actual laptop coming later....
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Friday, January 14, 2005

Laptop working! 

Yay! finally!
The replacement CDRom arrived today and I got MDK 9.2 on there reasonably easily. I had to manually configure the screen, but apart from that, it's running peachy. A work colleague gave me an old wireless card, so I'm going to see if I can get that working now.

There was a moment of panic yesterday when I thought the reason the CDRom was not reading my discs was because it was too old to play nicely with my CDRs. I can happily report that that doesn't appear to be the case.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

London menaced by flaming DVD players 

The lizard army has been busy mobilising its forces of technology in London this week with a terrifying attack on the population's domestic appliances.

[Those] who have been following [The Register's] coverage of the Rise of the Machines™ will recall the case of Canneto di Caronia, where panic-stricken villagers abandoned their homes after an outbreak of autocombusting fridges and mobile phones. The authorities there were unable to explain how - even when unplugged - Sicilian white goods launched a suicidal assault on their human masters by spontaneously bursting into flames.

Full story here

Dell dissapoints 

Well the CPxH arrived today. Looks lovely. Small problem, the CDRom does not work properly. I was advised to clean it, which I did, but it sounds as bad as it did before. Bizarrely, it would only read one disk - DSL, which is a "live-CD". Odd that it will boot that one (abeit with a little encouragement), yet it could not cope with any Linux install disk or any other "live-CD" that I had available.
I also mistakenly believed the laptop came with a modem port, as it was advertised as being supplied with a modem cable. Neither the port not the cable materialised. Just as well I never threw out my old PCMCIA modem then.
You have to appreciate the irony. I can't stick in the modem because the O/S needs to mount it, so I can't even download, say SuSE straight from the internet!

Update: What else could go wrong?
You've guessed it, that's right, my PCMCIA modem does not fit!

Subliminals [WK101] 

  1. Pistol::Whip
  2. Rick::Shaw
  3. Full circle::Revolution
  4. I wish::Upon a star
  5. Frame::Maker
  6. Adult::Literature
  7. Photography::Exposure
  8. Stew::Dumplings
  9. Cheat::Cards
  10. Brad::Pitt
Join in the game
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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Gone to the docs 

The Windows box hasn't been well for some time. Intermittently the fan would groan and grind during booting. I'd explained this to the local shop on the occasions I'd had to leave it with them, but every time it was handed back to me with "no fault found". They couldn't replicate it. So, I'd gotten into the habit of leaving it on all the time, which worked fine. I had no problems with that, and did it most of the time anyway.
I rebooted it yesterday, for the first time in months to update it and the noise was terrible - far worse then I'd remembered it. Luckily I had my dictaphone with me, so I recorded it. The groaning must have lasted a good 3-4 minutes. It didn't sound healthy at all.
Well it went into the shop today, along with a promise to forward the sound files to them. I still had to insist that the CPU fan was noisy and that I suspected the bearings were on their way out. Seems the box is so old that they do not manufacture CPU fans to fit any more. Which could mean a change of motherboard. Problem is, if the motherboard is changed then the graphics card has to change too. Mine still runs at 3v. I have a scrap mobo here, so I'll take it in, see if anything can be salvaged off of it.

It seems weird sitting here with the (solitary) Linux box plugged into the huge Windows monitor, even though the two have been working side-by-side for months. For one it's terribly quiet! (no suprise there) the AMD fans are not the quietest things at the best of times, particularly the older ones. Secondly I miss my music - it's all stored on the Windows PC. I had taken that for granted.
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Monday, January 10, 2005

New toy 

I've got around to buying an updated laptop. It's a Dell Latitude CPX. OK, it's not state-of-the-art, but with a PIII processor and a 6GB Hdd it's not to be sniffed at either!
The old laptop (Toshiba Satellite Pro 430CDS) really is coming to the end of it's useful life. I have to face that fact. No USB ports and no easy way to change the boot sequence either. (It really didn't like bootable CDs).
Anyway, I've ordered the replacement today and it's due to arrive on Wednesday. The plan is to install Linux on it and buy a wireless NIC and possibly a 10/100 network card. The good news is right after I bought it, I found a Linux website praising it's install capabilities!

Things are looking up.
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Friday, January 07, 2005

Subliminals [WK100] 

  1. Newspaper::Print
  2. DVD::Player
  3. Resolution::Monitor
  4. Intimate::Close
  5. Song::Bird
  6. Essential::Hardcore
  7. Whistle::Blowers
  8. Glass::Houses
  9. Countdown::Clock
  10. Child::Star
Join in the game
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