Category Archives: General

Stuff that doesn’t fit into existing categories

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) and a number of language packs have been released. The last extra, Windows DreamScene, being made available 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) 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.  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 have seen):

  • HD-DVD playback software that supports the 360’s HD-DVD player (waste of time 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! “

Poor window titles

H:\ says N:\ is not accessible.

H:\ says N:\ is not accessible

Sometimes using the window title for your dialog title isn’t such a hot idea.

Bungie and 2Clix and Archon

It took them about a fortnight, but 2Clix have finally issued the Notice Of Discontinuance on their action against Whirlpool.

Bungie has split from Microsoft, so maybe Halo on the DS isn’t an impossibility after all?

There’s a lot of classic games showing up on mobile phones now. I haven’t tried this, but here’s one I used to love: Archon.

Brief stuff

Nokia is recalling 46 million batteries, type BL-5C made in Japan by Matsushita. It affects a wide range of products (my 6230i uses that type of battery, but not the exact one being recalled) and apparently there have been around 100 cases of the batteries catching fire.

Microsoft’s cutting of XBox360 pricing around the world continues in Australia, with the XBox360 Pro now retailing for A$579.95, and the XBox360 Core at A$399.95 — the same price as the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo said they won’t drop their price; they’re selling plenty as-is. But it makes you wonder if Sony will drop the PS3 from its dizzying A$999 price.

Ars Technica notes that their beautiful iPhones are billed by AT+T with dizzying amounts of detail: even when covered by an unlimited data plan, every single connection gets its own detail line in the bill, resulting in one bill with 104 pages of usage listings.

Microsoft must be getting a little concerned: Google have added Sun StarOffice to the Google Pack.

Just for a laugh… The future is digital…

(via Dan Warne)

A few brief things

Tony’s talked before about Mozy online backup. Now Ars Technica have a comparison of Mozy and three others. Worth a look.

I’m sure I remember posting a link to a PC inside a C64 case. Here’s a couple more: inside a Commodore 64 SX case, and inside a BBC B case.

Cam’s looking for geeks to help run The Podcast Network.

A few good links

Last night I upgraded this site to the latest version of WordPress 2.2.1. Thank goodness it always seems to go smoothly. To my surprise, even the template (which dates back to WP 1.5) didn’t need modifying (well, not for technical reasons, anyway — I’m considering tweaking it on aesthetic grounds!)

Anyway, here’s a few good links from this week:

How Google Earth Really Works.

You’re used to the Mac/PC adverts… here’s the Parallels adverts, highlighting their virtual PC for Mac “Parallels Desktop” product.

Something I’ve talked about before highlighted again: The growing problem of accessing old digital file formats is a “ticking time bomb”, the chief executive of the UK National Archives has warned.

Home Improvements – Here endeth the lesson

For the story so far see Part 1 and Part 2. If you’re totally bored, then please don’t read on… this is the longest post yet!

So I got my Linksys NSLU2 home. I thought I’d fire it up and make sure it worked. There’d be nothing more frustrating than flashing it with the Linux OS, find it doesn’t work and then wonder whether the issue is with the new Firmware or the actual hardware.

Plugged it in, fired it up, plugged in and formatted a blank external drive I dug out of the cupboard. All good so far! I can’t plug in a disk with anything on it because the LinkSys requires disks to be formatted with EXT3.

Hmmm… what’s this… a firmware upgrade to the NSLU2 that allows it to read NTFS! That’d make the device usable until I get my head around the Linux options!

Loaded up the upgrade, all went smoothly. Plugged in my external hard drive to see if it works. Get “Drive not formatted” message in the NSLU2 admin screen, so it must not support NTFS after all. Oh well. Plugged the external drive back into my desktop PC.

“This disk is not formatted. Do you want to format it now? Yes/No”




An entire disk’s worth of data… gone. Video from when the kids were little, lots of photos… gone. I know what you’re all thinking… why wasn’t this data backed up? I have two responses to this. 1) It’s not that easy to back up a 14GB video file. 2) Part of the reason I was setting up this solution is to make automated backups more accessible!

Some have said that I shouldn’t have trusted the device with my data, but in my defence, it’s a shrink wrapped consumer device that’s designed to have drives plugged in to it. If I can’t trust this device with my data, I don’t have much use for it!

I kicked off a File Recovery scan and went to bed very sad.

In the morning, the file recovery had found a bunch of deleted files, but none of the files that were not deleted at the time of the corruption! I tried loading the drive up in a couple of EXT3 file viewers, but they couldn’t read the drive either.

I’d pretty much given up hope of getting my data back.

Then my neighbour nonchalantly suggests I try a partition table repair tool. I load one up and run it. It tells me “The partition table on the disk is incorrect. Would you like to fix it?” I click “Yes”. Bang. All my data is back!!!

Yay! Waves of relief! Not to mention proof that the Linksys had screwed up the disk. The partition table was written for an EXT3 disk, even though it was still formatted in NTFS.

Yesterday I took the Linksys back to Harris Technology and threw it at them as hard as I could. Actually I didn’t and they were incredibly helpful, giving me a full refund without any hassle.

So back to the drawing board. Now that I realise how precious that data is to me, I’m going to have to get a proper, RAID based network drive solution. More money 🙁 I’ll probably go for a Thecus N2100.

Lesson the First
Imagine losing all your data that is not backed up. How do you feel about that?

Lesson the Second
No, really. Losing it. Right now. Seriously, how do you feel about that?

Weigh your reaction to the above questions against the cost of getting dedicated backup.

Here endeth the lesson.

Update: I was talking to Josh last night and he said it wasn’t clear that I hadn’t installed the funky open source firmware on the LinkSys box yet. It was running the latest official firmware release. I probably also didn’t emphasize enough that I wouldn’t recommend anyone buying one of these pieces of junk

Home Improvements – Part 2

I’ve purchased my Linksys NSLU2 🙂

Now I want to make some modifications. The issue is that there are a number of different firmware options to choose from.

My requirements:
– Serve files for media (Basic functionality for all firmware)
– Read from FAT32 formatted external drives (isn’t provided by the base firmware!! The device requires all disks to be formatted!)
Bittorent client
Subversion server

Based on this comparison of different firmware options I’m going to have to look at a full linux based OS. Unfortunately I’ve never used Linux, so trying to get it to work on a small memory/slow processor device is going to be a steep learning curve.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

Home Improvements

I’ve annexed a room at my house to be my ‘den’. First order of business is getting some entertainment in there.


  • Watch DVDs
  • Watch other media from my computer
  • Reasonably inexpensive

My current solutions contains the following components:

  • Xbox running XBMC as a games/media streaming console (just purchased from Global Consoles)
  • Some sort of network storage so I don’t need to have my PC running constantly.

The network storage decision is narrowing down. I considered solutions such as the Thecus N1200. I dismissed this as being overpriced and probably overkill for my needs.

My current front runner is a Linksys NSLU2. It doesn’t have any internal disks, but has two USB ports to plug in external drives. The real beauty of the device (affectionately known as the ‘slug’ by fanboyz) is that there is an open source Linux based operating system that can be installed to it. This adds lots of extra functionality like all sorts of servers (print, bittorrent, iTunes, media/photos). I was even thinking I could install svn on it and it can be my source control repository.

I’ll let you know how my plans proceed. Any advice/comments would be very welcome!

Snippets of interest

Jon Galloway on how to avoid RSI by ditching the mouse, with particular attention to web browsing, which is one of the hardest things to do with just a keyboard.

(My particular pet hate is that even Alt-D to get to the address bar can get disabled when a web page has Flash on it.)

Telstra Sensis and NineMSN have clubbed together with to try and fight off the onslaught from Google (who have data from

Long Zheng has a great piece on the next steps for GUI environments, pointing out that, really, they haven’t changed all that much over the years.

Stuff and nonsense

Very interesting guide to DVD media, highlighting which brands you should entrust to your most treasured archives (but check yearly and re-burn regularly!) and which should be saved for stuff that doesn’t really matter.

Commodore launches game machines with high-end components and custom-painted cases, using that same old C= logo, preloaded with Windows Vista and a Commodore 64 emulator! Launching in April.

Haven’t tried these yet, but Killfile for Google Groups (Firefox/Greasemonkey) and Killfile for Google Groups (IE). Shame Google doesn’t implement this themselves, of course, so users don’t have to install it on each browser they read from.

Friday brief stuff

Google for the Enterprise: Google Apps Premier edition is here. $50 / user account / year, providing Gmail, GTalk, GCalendar, GDocs & Spreadsheets, GPage with guaranteed uptimes, phone support and more storage and options.

Favicons: Good article on making a good favicon.

One commenter left a useful link to the PNG2ICO command-line tool. This online tool also looks handy.

RIP: Robert Adler, the man who invented the TV remote control (despite not watching much TV himself, apparently).