Monthly Archives: June 2005

Dead USB port

So, in building the broadband access machine I’ve found a gift computer (twice as powerful as anything else I owned) that was ‘not working’. After loading XP onto and futzing with it for a while, I figured out that doing anything with the USB port locked up the computer… after a while. I tested the theory by running up a memory/CPU intensive game and letting it run for a few hours. It was happy until I transfered some files off the USB stick. Fault identified. If I want to transfer stuff off the machine, I’ll need to get a USB card, or hook up a network. And I think I’ll do the later.

With fault identification complete, I hooked up the broadband modem (Netcomm NB5) via the ethernet connection (given the USB connection wasn’t going to be working on this machine). Entered the IP of the modem into the browser, and got the modem’s login screen. Everything was good, and I shut down all access other than web via port 80 using the modem’s built-in firewall. Connection to the ISP was established, proxies entered into Firefox (not IE – CERT says there are no secure versions), and Google was available. Connectivity proven.

The web browsing machine got Fedora Core 3 loaded on (a simple process), and the proxy setup was repeated with the same results. FC3 comes with a pre-release version of Firefox, so I loaded up the CD with the .gz for 1.0.4 and loaded that onto the desktop. Then I spent a couple of hours figuring out that I needed to be root to install the browser, and where to install it. Having done that, I still haven’t got it as the default browser – that’s still the prerelease Firefox. But I can run up 1.0.4 from the command line, so at least it’s available, and adBlocker is installed, so well and good.

I figure that I’m going to lock the modem down to a single IP address it’s going to talk to, the FC3 machine. Anything else that wants data from the net is going to have to transfer it from the FC3 machine and won’t be exposed to the big bad internet, because I’m not ready to migrate our entire PC collection over to Linux just yet.

Which means I need to buy a switch.

iTunes Catches Podcast Wave

The latest version of iTunes has been released overnight. Unfortunately there’s still no music store for Australia but you can, at last, synch your podcasts directly from within its interface. This may spell the end of the nascent podcatchers industry but should prove a boon for Cameron’s The Podcast Network.


And this just spotted on the BBC site :

A software update for the click-wheel iPods and the iPod minis will offer a podcast menu, including bookmarking and the ability to show podcast artwork.

You can get the iPod updater here : Ipod Updater


No way of importing your existing OPML or adding your own custum feed that I can see at a quick glance.

Another Update

I should have RTFM. You can add your own podcast by entering the URL under the ‘Advanced | Subscribe to Podcast’ option.

Cool new Google things

Google Video — with a new Google video viewer (yeah, ‘cos the world needs another multimedia content player, especially one that only runs on Windows…)

Google Earth — again with its own viewer, Windows-only, and needs a 3D graphics card. Still, it appears to do some remarkably cool stuff.

YahooGroups getting paranoid

I use YahooGroups a fair bit. Is it my imagination, or is YG asking for way too much authentication of my logon? Increasingly it seems to show me the old logon screen (logon name/password) even though I keep turning on the option to remember me (and yes, my cookies are enabled).

Old-style Yahoo sign-in

…then straight after that it will ask me again, with a captcha displayed as well.

New-style Yahoo sign-in

In fact, trying to edit my account password today, I got the old, the new, then I changed my password (which involved re-entering the original password and the new one twice), then got the old and new sign-in screens again. Too much!

Podcasts for all

The Podcast Network has launched the Mac User Show. They also have a Linux show. Good to see them covering lots of different topics — not just the Wintel crowd, and in fact plenty of non-geek mainstream subjects such as music, drama and lifestyles which should help podcasting make it from geek novelty into the populace at large.

Letting non-Admin users see the calendar

Some time ago I ranted about the Windows date/time control (double-click on the clock) not being accessible to mere (non-Admin) users on Win2K. This is an issue because a lot of people use it as a calendar to check dates, even if they have no intention of changing the date/time setting.

Raymond Chen writes that to use it in that way causes all kinds of havoc on older versions of Windows, and points us to an article which explains how to let non-Power/Admin users see the calendar. (It’s on a blog which I may have to read in more detail, about running Windows with non-Admin rights.)

Adsense weirdness

Okay… I’m not sure what prompted this:


…Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Google Maps Does Australia

Google Map’s satellite pictures are now available for Australia, you can see my place on this page. Judging by empty blocks that are now houses the pictures were taken in the past six months or so.

Sick of MS Paint? Courtesy of the good people at Washington State University, try its free (and open source) replacement: Paint.Net. Packed with features, though a little slow on some computers if you leave the handy dandy transparent windows turned on.

While the multiple layers are great for a freebie product, would you honestly want to save all your graphical IP in its rare PDN format? Though arguably it’s at least partially future-proof as it’s open-source. requires the .Net Framework. By the way, how silly is this: the .Net home page contains no link to the Framework download. Obviously it’s a marketing site targetted at people who might be convinced to take on .Net as part of their IT strategy, but surely some of the people who hit it would be looking for the download so they can run some .Net program. Thankfully it is offered via Windows Update.

So That’s where our TV signal comes from!

Pretty roofline, poor reception

When we moved into the new home, I couldn’t find the TV antenna. But when we plugged in the TV, we got acceptable reception and then lazyiness kicked in. But the digital reception doesn’t cut it, so I decided to find out if our TV reception was coming from a coat hanger or something more sophisticated. Turns out you can hang an antenna in your roofspace using a length of rope and have a passable signal. Excpet for SBS. Pretty roofline, poor reception. A pretty roofline would be more important if it didn’t already have a evaporative cooling stack and a skylight breaking it up.

It’s winter here, and the roofspace was roasting hot. So, while the insulation had been abused and moved, there was enough of it doing it’s work that… gaugrh. Hot.

I also found out that our ventilation fans vent straight into the roofspace (great for both heat loss and moisture damage) and that our kitchen extractor fan doesn’t vent anywhere, even though it has a riser in the kitchen. Another housing disaster I’m going to have to address.

Now I need to buy a post to externally mount this bastard of an antenna onto. And a length of coax… or perhaps I’ll recycle one of the many lengths running around up there. There used to be a satelite TV link running off to the garage, I think that one might be long enough (turns out no: satelite hook-up was disconnected with wire cutters, leaving insufficient wire to make the distance). Currently the coax runs into a four-way splitter (three splits used), and I have my concerns that the splitter is contributing to our reception issues. Any opinions?

Hotspots, iPod and the death of cassettes

The Hotspot index says Melbourne has 26,243 people per hotspot. Sydney comes in at 36,000, Australia as a whole at 42,850. US 38,632. UK 22,963. But the modern Asian megacities beat all, with HK at 19,654 and Singapore 12,604. In Melbourne (and I assume other cities) they were investigating the idea of hotspots on trains, which could be a moneyspinner. Would almost make an hour-long commute from somewhere like Frankston or Belgrave bearable.

The Queen has an iPod. Hmmm, can’t see her rocking out to Bohemian Rhapsody.

Meanwhile MP3 players and CDs appear to be killing off cassettes. Yeah, and good riddance, say I. Poor sound quality and no random access combined with a fragile physical media. But it does remind me of a classic line from Alas Smith & Jones: “What is Dolby? It’s basically a very complicated system for playing cassettes with the little green light on, or off.”

The pros and cons of Windows Movie Maker

The pros and cons of Windows (XP) Movie Maker 2.1.

Good: It’s easy to use, it’s a freebie with WinXP, it produces nice looking results.

Bad: It will only output MiniDV (huge files) or Windows Media (which a lot of people can’t play). Would it have killed them to at least let you spit MPEG out of it? It’s a very 1994 attitude towards interopability. On the other hand, if they’d done so, they’d probably have Adobe and ULead screaming about monopolies.