Monthly Archives: February 2008

8-bit Graphics retrospective

From the ACM SIGGRAPH, Vol.32 No.2 May 1998: Game Graphics During the 8-bit Computer Era – a look at what was possible when all you had for graphics hardware was a large rock and a piece of chalk operating at 2MHz, some of the hacks that were used to squeeze the very last drop of functionality out of those systems and some of the more notable games insofar as their graphics.

iTunes and 64bit support

A little update to my previous entry on purchasing a iPod Touch.

Apple surprised me by releasing a 64bit version of iTunes 7.6 with little or no fanfare on the 15th January 2008. I actually didn’t get the update until the following week and it was only by chance I noticed a 64bit version.

I’m very happy to say that I’ve been using 7.6 on my primary 64bit box and have been extremely happy with it, i’ve even moved over my iTunes music collection from my temporary home (a 32bit Windows 2000 installation in VMWare (thanks Josh for the tip)).

As I write this I’m still hunting down Album covers for music that iTunes can’t find and removing all duplicates from my library, but it’s fun šŸ™‚

Ultimate No-Shows?

It’s been just over a year since Microsoft released Windows Vista to the public (30th January 2007) and Microsoft seem to have ignored the “optional features” that would be available to only Ultimate Edition owners.

To date three extras (Texas Hold’em Poker, Windows DreamScene and BitLocker/EFS, hardly inspiring or everyday wonderful extras) andĀ a number ofĀ language packs have been released. The last extra, Windows DreamScene, being made availableĀ on the 14th March 2007, since then na-da, stuff all, absolutely nothing. Even the Windows Vista Ultimate site is lacking in any form of communications (news or blog posts)Ā about the future of Ultimate Extras.

Long Zheng (a wonderfully witty Melbournian) posted on the 9th January 2008 a fabulous tongue-in-cheek post on this very subject but still Microsoft and the Windows Vista team remain quiet on the future of Ultimate Extras.Ā  A few commenters to his blog posted their own suggestions as to what Microsoft could provide as Ultimate Extas (these are some of the ones I’d have liked to haveĀ seen):

  • HD-DVD playback software that supports the 360ā€™s HD-DVD player (waste of timeĀ now?)
  • Advanced/More features for Windows Movie Maker
  • Multiple Desktops (Workspaces)
  • Sidebar/WPF version of MSN Messenger
  • TweakUI for Windows Vista
  • Sidebar integration of MediaPlayer (so it shows cover-art and other details in the sidebar)

Will we ever get anything more from Ultimate Extras, we can all believe that there will be but honestly I think (apologises to Monty Python) :

“The Ultimate Extras are no more! They has ceased to be! They’ve expired and gone to meet their developer! Bereft of development, Ultimate Extras rest in peace! “

Setting up Joomla on Windows

I had to do this recently. It’s not excessively difficult.

You can use this thing, but it’s really for dev environments.

WampServer installs Apache, MySQL and PHP. Easy.

Once it’s running, go into PhpMyAdmin and change the root password from the default (blank). You’ll need to update the PhpMyAdmin config too: this is in C:\wamp\apps\phpmyadmin2.10.1\ — remember that this, like most of the files, is in Unix format, so you need to use a Unix-aware file editor. (Wordpad seems to be okay for this if you have nothing else installed, at least on Windows Server 2003.)

Download Joomla and chuck it into the root directory (default is c:\wamp\www)

Browse to http://localhost/

If Joomla tells you to change anything in the PHP setup, you’ll find it in C:\wamp\bin\php\php5.2.5\php.ini — though it seemed to take no notice when I changed magic_quotes_gpc as requested. Odd. I eventually found you can reset it using the WAMP5 tray icon: Left-click, PHP, PHP Settings. It then automatically restarts Apache to make it take effect. Neato.

The rest is easy… go through the Joomla install pages and it does it all for you. Then start figuring out your template and structure.

Still to figure out:

  • Contact page/email doesn’t work. Probably some hiccup with Apache not figuring out how to send emails from Windows… maybe I need to make sure the Windows IIS SMTP server is running or something.
  • Issues with .htaccess, needed to switch on friendly URLs (well, friendlier than those default Joomla/Mambo monstrousities)

Just in case you need to know

My main web provider logs all their problems onto a fault-tracking database, and publishes them onto the Web, including via RSS, to make sure their customers are kept informed, and can work around things where necessary.

Even down to the most trivial thing.

We are currently experiencing issues with the on hold music on our telephone system. This is causing customers to receive silence when placed on hold. Periodic messages are still being played.

This will be rectified tomorrow morning.

Maybe I don’t need to know that, but it’s reassuring to know they’re being open and honest about any faults that occur. If only all companies were this open.

Spreading myths on FB

Oh jeez. Facebook is the new place where idiots forward hoaxes, including a reminder to forward it on to all your friends. All these were spotted on a single person’s wall:

“OMG this is amazing…. ever wanted to know who looks at your profile the most? to find out all you have to do is re post this to everyone on your friends list then press alt+f4 together then it should re-direct you to a status screen where it shows”

“BEWARE—— YOUR PROFILE: This is a message I received this morning. Someone is cloning our profiles. This person copies our pictures & creates a profile similar to ours. Then sends scrap, spam or garbage to our contacts or friends in Hi5 and other profile sites. Insulting themā€¦or asking them personal information…Beware!!! Send this message to your friends, to prevent them from being offended in your name by other people. If you receive some junk mail from me, please inform me first, Ok? Send this to all your friends! REPOST>>>>”

“who has a crush on u?… man this is creepy its called mind reader. send this to every1 on ur list and then press F8 and ur crushes name will appear on ur screen”

“Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this! To anyone with kids of any age, here’s some advice.
Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about eleven things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.”
… (Snopes entry)

Sigh. Sometimes the proliferation of this crap gets me down. How can so many in the human race be so gullible?

Kill the beep

When you want your PC to work silently, you switch Windows to a silent sound theme. But it still beeps at you for some things. Very irritating, especially when I’m trying to listen to music on headphones, to have an ear-shattering BEEP every time an email arrives or you dare to try and move the cursor beyond the end of the document in Wordpad. WhoTF decided it should beep for that anyway?

Solution 1: Double click on the volume control speaker icon. Options / Properties, and get it to display the PC Beep volume. Then mute the sucker.

But if there’s no sound devices on the PC, including a Virtual PC you’ve otherwise got the sound disabled on, you need to resort to other methods.

Solution 2: (Windows 2000 and later) net stop beep will stop the beeping for the current session.
sc config beep start= disabled will stop it permanently. Note the space after the equals sign.

(There are whackier ideas too, like recording silent WAV files to use for system events. And you could physically disconnect the speaker, if you have access to the hardware.)