backs and skype

June 28, 2005 under Computers, Life, Software

Dena has a herniated disc, which would explain her sore back as of late. So for the near future she has to give golf a break, which will be tough 🙁

Barry and I starting chatting about Skype this afternoon, for whatever reason. That lead to me installing Skype (Barry is already a Skype user), which led to me dashing to Futureshop to pick up a couple of microphones; one for the home computer and one for the notebook. As the evening progressed, the idea of creating a podcast came up. But first we’d have to figure out how to record it. No problem. I used Audacity and recorded what will surely become one of the Internet’s few collector’s items. Ladies and gents, I present to you start of what may blossom into something wonderful. We think it’s what the first trans-Atlantic phone call might’ve sounded like 😉

Bullines and The Chapel – “Mutha Fuckin’ Yeah”

You heard it here first 😉

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take back the web

June 26, 2005 under Computers, Internet, Programming, Software

I like Iceberg Radio and usually listen to their 2Kool4Radio station at work. They offer a plethora of stations, spanning almost every genre of music you can think of, and it’s all free. However, Iceberg Radio‘s website doesn’t play nicely with Firefox. I shouldn’t say that. The website itself is fine with Firefox, but… When you listen to a station, a new browser window is launched and in that window is an embedded Windows Media Player. Everything works fine in Firefox as far as streaming the audio goes. But if you want to know the artist and the name of the track you’re currently listening to, you would have to go back to Iceberg Radio‘s website and look up the info based on the station you’re currently streaming. If you’re an Internet Explorer user, you don’t have to worry…you always get to see the artist and track info in the window containing Windows Media Player. Why do Internet Explorer users have it so good? A Microsoft web browser (IE) with a Microsoft technology (Windows Media Player); it’s pretty obvious. What’s a Firefox-using music lover to do?

No problem. I wrote a Greasemonkey script that will continuously put the artist name and song title in the title bar of the window that contains the media player. So now Iceberg Radio listeners who are also Firefox users can simply look at the window’s title in their Windows taskbar (or Mac OS X Dock) to find out which song is currently playing, instead of having to surf over to Iceberg Radio‘s website, find the station they’re currently listenin to and look up which song is currently playing.

If you already have the Greasemonkey extension for Firefox installed, then you can get and install my script from either Greasemonkey’s list of scripts or directly from right here (it all links back to my website anyway). Enjoy!

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keepin' the score doon

June 24, 2005 under Golf, Life, Sports

Dena and I just finished a great round of nine holes at Doon. The week before at Doon was atrocious for both of us. But today we, just the two us, played well. On the par 36 front nine, Dena shot a 52. She hit some very good balls, even with a sore back. I managed a 43 and found a way to par four holes with some near-birdies. We’ve been getting into the swing (ha!) of golfing every Friday evening instead of at random times, like in summers passed. I think we’ll switch it up a bit next weekend and play Puslinch; a very nice course with cheap green fees.

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greasey circle

June 22, 2005 under Computers, Internet, Programming, Software

Sarcasm alert! If you’re looking for the Greasemonkey script that’ll get the Web talkin’ and set hearts aflame, check out my Inner Circle script. Ok, I’ll fess up. It’s not meant to be some wicked thingie that you can’t live without…not yet, anyway. It’s merely a little something to get my feet wet with Greasemonkey. It was also my first exposure to anonymous functions in JavaScript. I do have some ideas that I think will prove useful, though, which I’ll provide here once I’ve transposed the idea from my brain to code 😉

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framerates++

June 21, 2005 under Computers, Hardware

Being proactive is better than reactive, I suppose. With a warranty well in the past, the fan on my GeForce4 Ti 4400 was ready to pack ‘er in. To stem any “hot” issues, I picked up a GeForce FX 5700LE from Bestek; just up the street from Dena’s office. For whatever reason, they were the cheapest in town and online. $97 for that card isn’t too shabby 😉

I didn’t want to go hardcore and get a high-end Radeon or GeForce6, and figured the FX 5700LE would be a slight improvement, but not a killer one, over what I had. Ideally, I’d get a PCIe card which requires a new mobo. In that case, I’d be building a new computer. But since Dena and I have had enough of apartment dwelling, we’re saving our money. If I had my way, I’d have a few systems. For day-to-day stuff like email, IM and Web browsing, I’d go with a Mac Mini. My gaming rig would have to be a tricked-out Windows computer. I’d keep another Windows computer for Windows apps development and also have a Debian or Ubuntu computer for UNIX-y development stuff. And of course those dev computers would have a dual-monitor setup; I’ve been spoiled by it at work and constantly wondered how I’ve gone without it for so long 😉 Finally, I’d have a server running OpenBSD or FreeBSD to store and share everything. Maybe toss in a MythTV box as a PVR like the dudes from Systm mention here.

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somebody feed byck, please

June 20, 2005 under Computers, Internet, Software

When I fired up Thunderbird this evening, I was greeted with a “wonky RSS feed” kind of error pointing squarely at this:

http://www.patrickbyck.com/index.php?/feeds/index.rss2

Venturing over to Pat’s site reveals that it’ll return. Turn off the flash…bright light, bright light 😛

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kick in the monad

June 14, 2005 under Computers, Software

According to this THG article, Microsoft will finally be killing off the DOS command-line in Longhorn and replacing it with something codenamed Monad. I think this is a good thing and am fond of the “3 mode” setup. The DOS style will make the transition to Monad a bit easier. The shell scripting similar to bash brings things up to par with the UNIX world. And the scripting ability will be awesome since it’ll be built-in and dynamic languages like Python and Perl are very popular right now. I can see plenty of new avenues for automation opening up with this, since I’d assume it would have even more hooks to the OS than what’s currently available from existing scripting languages like Python and VBS (with WMI).

However, some people think it’ll be yet another source for exploitability; especially the guy who wrote this article. On a side note, the guy says “As currently designed, Monad allows administrators to use commands to list and shut down any process running on a Windows system…” and “None of those features are available using cmd.exe”. Perhaps he’s not aware that tasklist.exe displays running processes, and what that says about his technical abilities, I don’t know? Anyway, I don’t see Monad being the source of all of this security breaching. IMHO, the main problem with Windows that has existed since the beginning is the insistance that users always be logged in with root (read: administrative) privilages. I blame this for the reason that there are so many zombie computers passing along every worm, trojan and virus released into the wild. But you should also add the fact that most people don’t use antivirus software (and if they do, it’s outdated), rarely if ever install software patches, and use IE to browse the Web. OSs of the UNIX variety (including Linux and Mac OS X) push the idea of using root to only install apps or make changes that should be system-wide. If a user does something bad to their account, it doesn’t compromise or bring the system down. And sure you can setup limited accounts on Windows now, but how many people actually do (rhetorical question alert!)? And what about the apps that weren’t designed with multi-users in mind and exhibit weird behaviour when run from a limited account?

Maybe Microsoft has finally gotten the hint. Apparently IE7 will by default run in a mode that disallows the installation of software through the browser. This is a a good start. If they implemented an idea like this throughout the entire OS, things would be even better. Perhaps all user accounts should be limited, with the exception of one administrator account that is somewhat hidden. If a user wants to install something, a mode similar to SU in UNIX kicks in (after much prompting) and immediately shuts down when the installation is complete. Maybe software should be installed in a per-user manner. It would be a pain but alleviate the need to install anything system-wide. Perhaps the the problem with Windows is its wide user-base that runs the spectrum from hackers and power-users to n00bs. The UNIX-like OSs tend to attract the tech-savy people who consider security. That’s not to say a n00b couldn’t bring a UNIX system down if they were logged in as root. But Microsoft‘s Windows development team have a big and old code base to work from which may or may not be condusive to large-scale changes like that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.

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greased up

June 9, 2005 under Computers, Internet, Programming, Software

I’m getting into Greasemonkey; a very handy extension for Firefox. It allows you to write scripts that manipulate web pages on the client side. Don’t like the way a given site lays out its content? Change how it looks on your browser by writing a script to modify the page’s DOM structure.

I’ve written my first Greasemonkey script and it was for our world-wide support forum at work. For whatever reason, the UBB forum software uses a style sheet that renders unreadably small text in Firefox (but is fine with Internet Explorer) when it displays code snippets that users post. My script simply enlarges the text of any code snippets posted on the forum, resulting in far less eye strain for our users and ourselves. Now I’m trying to think of other Greasemonkey scripts that I can write for other Web sites. Hmmmm.

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c dull add-on

June 7, 2005 under Computers, Programming, Software

Has anybody out there successfully distributed an Office Add-In developed with VS .NET 2003? I wrote an Add-In for Outlook using C# and the (ahem) ever-so lovely .NET wrapper for COM (Office.Interop). The Add-In is fine but I cannot get my DLL to register for the life of me. I even followed a Microsoft’s employee’s suggestion but still no go. If anyone has done this before and had success, I’d love to hear how you did it. If worse comes to worse, I’ll just write it as a stand-alone EXE instead of as an Add-In.

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blame the skeeters

June 5, 2005 under Golf, Life, Sports

It was a weekend of golf for Dena and I. On Friday evening, we played the font-nine at Puslinch with some of her work collegues and a lot of mosquitos. It was my first round of the season and started off horribly, but got better as the round went on. I ended up with an absolutely ugly 50. Dena hit some very good shots and wound up with a 56. On Saturday evening, we golfed the front-nine at conveniently near-by Doon, just the two of us. We both fared a bit better; I shot a 47 and Dena shot a 52. It’s early in the season, so there are still plenty of kinks to worked out, though.

Back in April, I posted some memories of the BBS scene in Timmins. Surprisingly, I got a reply from a member of that scene; Jason Boudreau (aka: Hadean). I always saw Jason’s name on the various BBSs but never really knew him or talked to him. But it was kewl that somebody from Timmins found my post and likes reminiscing about that scene like I do. I’d like to hear from others, as well.

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