Monthly Archives: June 2008

Start menu subfolders

Everyone knows this already, right?

To put start menu items into a subfolder, use folder name and backslash.

I use it to try and help keep the start menu tidy, since the most commonly used shortcuts end up on my desktop and/or quick start menu. If I can tidy away Firefox, Thunderbird, Filezilla, Ko

mpozer and whatever else that's Net related into an Internet folder, my Start Menu might not grow to take over the whole screen when I open it.

You can also move them around after installation, but that means if you ever remove the application, it won't know where to find the shortcuts and remove them. (You'd hope one day they'd get this fixed in Windows.)

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billg's rant

Bill Gates' rant about Windows (or to be precise, microsoft.com) usability:

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weir

d dialog boxes.

Doesn't Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

Read all of it here. It's from five years ago, but still makes entertaining reading.

(via Cameron Reilly)

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Byebye Google Browser Sync

If you've upgraded to Firefox 3 and are wondering when Google will update Browser Sync to work with it, you'd better find an alternative product.

Google has decided to dump the product.

It appears that for now, Mozilla's Weave might be the best substitute (though it's in beta at present). Or Foxmarks, though apparently it doesn't play well with the Web Developer Toolbar.

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Firefox dictionary WTF (and FF3 is out)

Firefox typoFF WTF — is the AU English dictionary written by volunteers or something? How can it be missing so many basic words? It doesn't know reminds for instance?

Is this fixed in FF3 then?

I saw today is FF3 download day, world record, yadda yadda yadda and jumped over to download it. Bz

zt. 10am is too early here. Apparently it's all based around US time. Blargh.

Now it's well after 11pm AEST, and it's still not there. What time does this thing kick off? Even the Pledge bit doesn't work; keeps resetting the region dropdown every time I choose something.

No matter, a post in the forums on spreadfirefox has revealed where the FF3 download is: it's here.

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Slow Gmail startup

Is it just me that’s been getting a lot more of this recently?

Slow loading Gmail

It’s not just on slow connections, or even on fast connections when there’s a lot of activity going on. It’s even happening to me on connections where everything is fast, and from a variety of computers (so I doubt it’s a cache problem).

And the Basic HTML view is fast, but missing too many features to be practical most of the time.

Is it Gmail getting too many users per server?

Or is it feature-creep getting into the Javascript? I can think of a few things I’d dearly love to “uninstall” from my personal Gmail experience if I could. I never use the Chat. I turned off the Web Clips. I know the adverts pay for it, so I guess I’ll put up with them. I have turned contacts’ pictures. Perhaps the recent upgrades to speed up the response on the interface is to blame?

I don’t know what it is, but Gmail, especially the initial load, is definitely slowing down for me.

PS. heh. After I ranted, I tried clearing the browser cache. After that it loads up like a dream, very fast. I’ll try it on the other affected machines’ Firefoxen. Maybe some combination of Ajaxy library version clashes did something funny.

WarGames sequel trailer

No way will this be as good as the original.

WarGames: The Dead Code

From the looks of it, they’ve taken the original plot and just substituted different teenagers, a different city, a new computer and… well, not much else. It’s more of a remake than a sequel.

No wonder it’s going straight to DVD. Release is expected in July.

And if that’s not to your taste, how about this rumour: Leonardo Dicaprio to play Nolan Bushell in a movie about the creator of Pong.

Typical URLs and how to shorten them

Some web sites have very well designed, brief, URLs.

But some have URLs that are way too long. And you don’t always want to be putting them through TinyURL.

Here’s how some of them can be shortened if sending them via email (when they might break when text wraps) or in print.

Anything that’s not bold can be chopped out. And remember when putting it in print, drop the http:// — it’s not necessary to key in, and only slows people down. The same is usually true for the www — though I’m in two minds about that. For publicity etc, it sometimes helps to jog people’s minds that we’re talking about web addresses.

Amazon — it’s the ISBN or other identifier which is critical here

http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-Complete-David-Tennant/dp/B000UVV2GA/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1212896155&sr=8-1

YouTube — remove the country, and any extraneous arguments such as “Featured”

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-BOYAl0F6xs&feature=user

The Age (and other Fairfax sites) — remove the headline text. (This works for their older articles/older URLs too.)

http://www.theage.com.au/national/clouds-loom-as-oil-price-soars-and-petrol-hits-170-20080607-2n9n.html?page=-1

Google Maps — the co-ordinates and zoom quotient (or whatever it’s called) matter the most. Though if you’re trying to specifically point out an address, you’ll need to leave the query in.

http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=q&q=247+flinders+lane,+melbourne,+vic,+AU&ie=UTF8&ll=-37.813751,144.964621&spn=0.011188,0.018196&z=16&iwloc=addr

Realestateview — gets really messy depending on how you find the property. Some of the arguments tell it what navigation options to show, but when it all comes down to it, it’s the OID which is the critical argument. Mind you, leaving the “rev=on” stuff gives you the area map by default, so better to leave that on if emailing.

http://www.realestateview.com.au/cgi-bin/view.pl?OID=1136439&rev=on&s=102294592&Sub=bentleigh&BeL=0&BeH=9999&PrL=0&PrH=99999&Surr=&IKW=bolinda&PT=hou&PT=uni&PT=tow&PT=stu&PT=lan&PT=dev&PT=inv&PT=ter&PT=vil&PT=sem&PT=dup&PT=pen&PT=wac&PT=hol&PT=rta&PT=alp&PT=car&PT=bof&PTr=&CS=VIC&OrderBy=listed&OrderStr=&Con=S&SearchPage=/buy/residential/melbourne.shtml&Bkmk=_&OFI=&OFIDays=&BS=10&Thu=&Qui=n

BBC News — these aren’t overly long, but can still be shortened.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7442323.stm

MS KB — all kinds of different versions of their URLs fly around the place, though a lot of their new links use the most sensible, concise version.
One of many of the old style: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q917925
Better: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917925
(Of course to many geeks, just say Q917925.)

For other sites? No doubt people will have their suggestions.

For myself, when I’m sending a URL to someone, and I have the time, I tend to muck about and remove what look like the extraneous parameters and see what still works. Mind you, some sites don’t work very well for this — Dick Smith (dse.com.au) for example, relies on some kind of weird-arse session parameter, so it’s best to use their own “email this link” feature.

And always check it before you send it.

Encoding XVid for MediaGate

Get slightly jerky results when encoding XVid and watching it on a MediaGate player?

Turn off the Packed Bitstream option. That seems to fix it.

Games in popular culture

I was amused to see this Donkey Kong reference in a cartoon by Andrew Dyson in last Friday’s Age, commenting on the current Australian political stoush over petrol prices. It features opposition leader Brendan Nelson as Donkey Kong, and PM Kevin Rudd as Mario.

Donkey Kong carton