Thursday, August 24, 2006


It's my grandfather's birthday today. He should have been 88 today, and I think he would have probably enjoyed American Idol quite a bit.

I can tie my current week of IBM-compatible personal computer rants to my grandfather, even though they were in my life at the same time for only a month. I kept myself busy in those days learning the reasons why the operating system that came with my Kaypro didn't run a thing, then I used the computer to make get well banners, looked up medicines on Prodigy, and was playing Clue: Master Detective when the phone call came that Pa had died. I still seems like a rather odd thing for me to be doing at the time, but I was not in possession of a driver's license or a car, just an 8086 with no hard drive and a 3mHz processor, which would--from that day on--be my main billiards partner. I still have the save file from that Clue game. "Gumby," "Jessica," and "Lothar," never found out whodunit. Never really cared to find out, actually.

I think, actually, those days might have directly influenced my data hoarding habits. Write everything down, stick it on a disk, and no one ever dies. Jolly good work.

YouTube, of course, is possibly the greatest service ever invented. It wasn't around in 1990, and that's just as well because this would not have looked right in 16 colors.

1988 was fabulous, really.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I have nothing to say about computers today.

So I'll just point out that there is no reason to make anything but quiet keyboards, as anyone who really wants a noisy keyboard ought to have said keyboard stuffed into their mouth sideways. Results are much better than noise as proof of work, and learning to type with the uvula could earn more fame than anything typed the old fashioned way.

This from someone who had the typewriter sound effect from Monty Python's Complete Waste Of Time CD on their PC for years.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I hate Adobe.

Oh sure, you say, and Microsoft are a load of tarts. But I have decided this day to aim my hate at Adobe, makers of popular, overpriced, bloated "productivity" software.

This hate doesn't stem from my lost tech support job, where everyone kept asking me how to use Adobe products I was to poor too purchase legal copies of. It doesn't even stem from the fact that employers are so snobby about Photoshop that users of Paint Shop Pro are passed over for jobs when they call Adobe's layout nasty looking.

No, this hate comes from the 65 megabytes of hard drive space I recently donated to Adobe for their latest Reader. It does nothing else. Distiller isn't included, PDFs cannot be created with this large hunk of crap, no, it's only there to stall for a minute while it loads itself, and then shows me something that could have been done in bloody HTML anyway.

But my hate does not lie with the PDF format. No, PDFs themselves are neat, what bothers me is the Reader.

So I went and found a better one.

FoxitReader describes itself as the best reader for everyday, and it bloody well is.

It loads PDFs right off the web the same as Adobe, lets me save them, print, find, it's exactly the same as Adobe...except for two things.

The system requirements for Adobe Reader 7.0.8 are Windows 2000 and up. 192 RAM is needed, for what, I have no idea. Foxit works on anything from Windows 95 up.

Adobe Reader 7.0.8 takes up 64.80MB of disk space--or more, depending on the installation, while FoxitReader takes 2.76MB. Foxit's got one file. No installer, it just works.

Explain to me how this is possible.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The ongoing saga of Buggy McNetwork

Right, so almost everyone with Windows 2000 and up experienced problems with svchost and netapi32.dll, starting last week.

Me included. I have that dual-boot 98SE/XP thing going on, and because I've been revisiting 1988, I've had to stay on XP for a really long time, so I'm getting hit with all sorts of new bugs I'd never heard of.

I've just gotten File & Printer Sharing working, so shutting down all my ports now was not going to happen.

If you use Windows XP, get the netapi32 upgrade, enable your firewall, close the DCOM (135) and 445 ports with the Windows Worm Door Cleaner, and thank me later.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I loved you, you bastard.

Peter Norton used to live in my computer. Every week in the '90s, he'd pop up looking rather tough in a geeky way and he'd check my files for viruses.

Recently, though, those people who use his name decided to phase out the copy of Norton Anti-Virus I'd been updating faithfully every week since 1995. Suddenly I couldn't check my boot sectors.

Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus 2005 was so slow, that I disabled it regularly when I had to do work, which was pretty much all the time. Norton Personal Firewall 2001 was okay, but I had to disable it when I was burning a CD, because the kids didn't play nicely together.

So I got that virus.

Once it was all cleaned up, I decided it was time to move on. I started using Kaspersky Anti-Virus, which runs on everything, and Webroot Firewall for my 98SE computers and the Windows XP firewall for this thing here.

Symantec wouldn't go quietly, of course, its Virtual Device Driver entry threatened all my 16-bit programs. I don't even know what business it had with my 16-bit programs.

But that's that, the one program I'd had on every PC I ever owned is no longer on any of them, and my network is a swingin' land of joy now.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Licum? I don't even know him!

Right, today's lesson is this:

If you have a network, and you have even one folder with full-access and no password required, and you also tend to take down your firewall to burn CDs, you will, eventually, get a virus.

Maybe not for 15 years, but it will happen, and when it does, it will be irritating.

Then again, if you're fond of 16-bit apps and games, and have loads of DOS-based programs, any virus that starts with W32 won't do a bloody thing to your old apps. So screw progress, I say. My Tetris was untouched, and that's what matters.

I've repaired and re-installed everything, and the threat has now passed. While you were enjoying my video selections, I was banging my head on the wall trying to stop everything from contacting Italy.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Video killed my brains cells, y'all.

When we were moving out of our apartment in 1981, I saw the following three videos for the first time, and my life was never the same.

You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates, Play The Game by Queen, and Queen of Hearts by Juice Newton all ended up among my favorite songs, but at the time, guess which one I liked the best?

Queen of Hearts, actually, but I can understand if you answered the other two. I didn't know who the guy jumping over the drums was, but the Queen video cracked me up (Freddie jumps on the drums in the middle of this video, WATCH IT and live through an experience you will never forget, that kind of stuff is gold to me), and I had no idea who Hall & Oates were.

I was seven, give me a break. I made up for it. Queen became hardwired into my brain over the years all thanks to Play The Game, and I went on a hunt for the Hall & Oates song and video years later, and had YouTube been around back then, my work would've been way easier.

So here, for the first time together since September of 1981, are three videos that changed my life. Here's hoping the next 25 years are half as entertaining.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Put that antenna out.

I didn't have MTV from the start, you know. I had U68, and they played things like Put That Head Out.

OMG, I loved that station.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Want another video? No? Too bad.

Now, this video, on the other hand, The Kill by 30 Seconds To Mars, amuses me.

It's The Shining, right down to the furries!

And you (should) know how much I love The Shining.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

You're alive, how else could you hear me?

It's always a little disappointing when I find the video for a song I really love, like On A High by Duncan Sheik, and it's not what I'd expected.

It's basically the video for the Talking Heads song Wild Wild Life, minus John Goodman, which might make it a better video, but damn. I don't wanna see other people sing my Duncan Sheik's song, dammit.