Create your own BSOD in Windows XP (on request, that is) [TechRepublic.com 5/18/2005] As puzzling as it may sound, it can be quite useful to create your own Blue Screen Of Death in Windows XP. From troubleshooting your Startup And Recovery settings to demonstrating to end users what to do if they encounter a BSOD, this tip will come in handy. Here's how to create a BSOD: 1. Launch the Registry Editor Regedit.exe. 2. Go to HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesi8042prtParameters. 3. Edit, select New | DWORD Value and name the new value CrashOnCtrlScroll. 4. Double-click the CrashOnCtrlScroll DWORD Value, type 1 in the Value Data textbox, and click OK. 5. Close the Registry Editor and restart Windows XP. When you want to cause a BSOD, press and hold down the [Ctrl] key on the right side of your keyboard, and then tap the [ScrollLock] key twice. Now you should see the BSOD. 5/19/2005 7:06:59 PM
Xbox 360 Unveiled [Slashdot: 5/13/2005; 8:53:27 AM] You may or may not have caught the Xbox 360 unveiling on MTV Thursday night, but the internet will provide. A plethora of sites have photos, videos, commentary, specifications, and interviews about the new system. Your fellow readers have pulled together to provide links to: 1up.com, Joystiq, Gamespot, The BBC, CNN, NYT, Gamespy, Team Xbox, Voodoo Extreme, Anandtech, and eToyChest. The official Xbox 360 site opened last night as well for word straight from the source. For more official images Ourcolony.net has been 'solved', and now features an OurColony specific video preview. Finally, for commentary on the event, the Video Game Ombudsman provides an alternative to the press releases. 5/13/2005 9:15:34 AM
Also: Mark Shuttleworth: Claim Your Bounty!, Public Software Fund, AROS project, ... 5/11/2005 8:30:09 AM
Introducing Agile to a legacy project [Steve Eichert 4/7/2005] Brian Marick recently posted his “talking points” for how to introduce Agile to a legacy project. I think this is something that is often overlooked in the agile community. There is oodles and oodles of documentation about how to run an agile project when you’re starting fresh, but I haven’t seen very much on how to introduce agile into an existing “legacy” project. Usually the team is deciding to give agile a try because of disappointments on previous projects, which are usually still around. This poses some difficult problems since the legacy code usually doesn’t have very many (if any) tests, is likely highly coupled, and possibly a complete mess. Brian’s post provides some good guidance on how to get started when you’re in such an environment. The most important thing to note is that it should be gradual process, you can’t make a project agile in a day or week, but you can begin to see immediate benefits from moving in an agile direction. 5/7/2005 6:40:04 PM
Top 10 Light Therapy Products [About.com 5/6/2005] These products, ranging from $10 to hundreds of dollars, can help you add broad- or full-spectrum or natural lighting to your home or office. Recent studies show strong evidence that exposure to artificial broad-spectrum light is an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in which people become more depressed in the darker days of winter. They're good for your general health, too. 5/7/2005 5:49:37 PM
Criminal Enterprise Moves Into Net [TechWeb 4/27/2005 via W2Knews 5/6/2005] Malware, spam, phishing, spyware, bots and root kits are raking in big bucks and fighting them effectively is a huge challenge. David Aucsmith, Microsoft's Security CTO, said, "We've seen an explosion of criminal enterprise moving onto the Net in the last 18 months or so... It's no longer just for kicks. It is for making money... 70 to 80 percent of all spam comes from bots. These are your moms' machines, compromised by a bot. They're fairly sophisticated now." The "herders" who operate bot networks offer to rent out their bot networks. "People are making a lot of money with spam," he said flatly. The Wall Street Journal had an article on May 5 about true Mafia tactics where e-commerce sites were sent extortion emails, and told to pay up 10 grand protection money, or else be attacked. Looks like true crime has arrived in the neighborhood. 5/6/2005 7:51:29 PM
Interview with James Gosling: "The Man Who Brewed Up Java" [Business Week 5/4/2005 via Boing Boing 5/6/2005] Business Week has a good interview with James Gosling. "The really lucky thing was we ended up reading the tea leaves correctly and guessing the direction things were going to take. "
Q: How has becoming known as "the father of Java" changed your life, personally?
A: In some sense, it kind of ruined my life. I'm absolutely an engineer, a scientist kind of guy. I've kind of learned how to have a public presence. But it doesn't give me the same kind of job satisfaction that building something does. 5/6/2005 7:31:44 PM
- RSS Bandit is a desktop news aggregator written in C# and .NET under active development at SourceForge. See Revamping the RSS Bandit Application for a 2003 MSDN article about RSS Bandit.
- Creating a generic Site-To-RSS tool [9/29/2003] describes a generic HTML-to-RSS scraper tool that uses regular expressions with VB.NET.
- Template Based Scraping [10/28/2002] A quick overview of screen scraping.
- RSSxl is an HTML to RSS converter that will generate an RSS feed from pretty well any HTML web page - with no requirement to edit the source HTML first. It is a free online service that translates HTML to RSS.
We know what you did [CNET HotTopicsNewsletter May 3, 2005] Go to ZabaSearch.com, type in your name, and see what comes up. Are you shocked at the search results? Or are you not surprised? In Pick your battles with Internet privacy, Tom Merritt maintains that ZabaSearch is no evil Big Brother. It's a search aggregator, and a rather efficient one at that. All the information in its database can be found elsewhere on the Web. Its crime, if any, was making personal information supereasy to find. 5/5/2005 9:23:24 AM
Practical auto MP3 (at a realistic price) [Woot! 5/5/2005; 2:52:09 AM] The Omnifi DMP1 20GB Car Media Jukebox (reviewed here) consists of a controller, a removable hard drive, and a wireless adapter. Thanks to the auto sync feature, it can sit out in your garage and fetch the content you want while you're snug in bed. You'll roll off to work every morning armed with a fresh batch of podcasts, tunes, news, audiobooks, whatever. You could buy it at Target for $665.98, which might seem reasonable considering the technology involved, but it's way too much considering a 20G iPod costs $299.99. Today's Woot! special (May 5 only) has it for $139.99, which puts it on the right side of the cost-convenience equation. 5/5/2005 8:34:46 AM
Searching by Image Instead of Keywords [Slashdot: 5/4/2005; 9:53:22 PM] Content based image retrieval (CBIR), the technique to search for images not by keywords, but by comparing features of the images themselves has been the focus of much research for decades. Consider for instance adding CBIR to Google Images, where you would be able to search for images similar to a query image instead of using keywords. A research project at Penn State University has recently been applied to the biggest aviation photo database in the world with close to 800,000 images. You can search for images similar to a photo already in their database (click "View similar photos") or submit your own query image. Some queries generate better results than others but CBIR is certainly here to stay and will be standard in many image applications of the future. 5/5/2005 8:21:34 AM
The Unemployed Working on OSS Projects [Slashdot: 5/5/2005; 2:52:26 AM] In Australia the unemployed have to fulfill a 'mutual obligation' requirement in order to receive welfare payments. What this means is that recipients of welfare payments have to be involved in some sort of activity that improves their chances of finding employment. Until now this has included various types of community service and training and education programs. Recently an organisation called CommunityCode has been established to allow recipients to fulfill this requirement by contributing to OSS projects. 5/5/2005 7:52:57 AM
Utilize MySQL's features through .NET [TechRepublic 5/3/2005] MySQL continues to gain market share due to its ease of use and price. The open source community has extended its reach by developing a connector to be used with the .NET Framework. Learn more about using MySQL in .NET applications and get extended examples of how to work with MySQL data via .NET. 5/4/2005 1:53:17 PM
Why I Don't Use DataSets in My ASP.NET Applications. [4GuysFromRolla 5/4/2005] This article examins the fundamentals of the two data access objects provided by ADO.NET: the DataReader and the DataSet. Both objects have their time and place in .NET applications but, according to Scott Mitchell, DataSets are rarely, if ever, useful in ASP.NET Web applications. There are exceptions, granted, but for the majority of Web applications, DataReaders should be used exclusively. Performance, performance, performance. (There's also a good discussion on this topic going on over at Scott's blog.) 5/4/2005 1:43:00 PM
How to make screen capture work with Windows video
Most people know that when you press the Windows Print Screen (PrtSc) key, nothing (apparently) happens. Some people know that Windows actually takes a snapshot of your computer's screen and copies it into the clipboard, so you can paste it into your favorite graphics processing program, or Paint. A few people even know that pressing Alt+PrtSc copies the currently selected window instead of the full screen. Of course, there are all kinds of screen capture programs to give you more control over the process.
In theory, it should be easy to capture stills from video files, whether paused or streaming, by pressing Atl+PrtSc and pasting the result into your graphics program. However, quite often all you get is a beautiful image of the media player's border and controls, with a blank where the picture of the video is supposed to be.
In Fixing a blank display, the screen capture experts at PixelMetrics explain how to turn off the media player's acceleration while recording. They give instructions for Media Player (7,8,9,10), QuickTime Player, RealPlayer, and WinAmp.
If that doesn't work, they also explain how to disable hardware acceleration system-wide.5/4/2005 9:49:27 AM
Punching the Clock: Hacking an alarm clock to snooze when hit [via Street Tech 5/3/2005] This is a fun hardware hack: a cheapo alarm clock outfitted with an accelerometer so that it will go into snooze mode when you smack it, whack it, punch it, toss it off your nightstand, etc. This application note for the low-cost DE-ACCM[pdf] accelerometer board shows how to reverse engineer an off-the-shelf appliance and modify it so it's much more fun and useful. Dimension Engineering was formed in 2004 by two Carnegie Mellon graduates to sell easy-to-use electronic products to the hobbyist, educational and research markets. 5/4/2005 8:40:31 AM
When Reality Bites the Free Gospel [Free Software Magazine April 2005 via Linux Today 5/3/2005] "In a dream world, all software would be free. However, we spend enough time with our eyes open to realize that some situations call for proprietary software, either as a desktop or as a server application, on a free system... Examine this scenario: you have an Oracle database that’s been running for x years and it’s tweaked so perfectly you can’t afford the time and effort to scrub it and migrate to a free relational database. Rest easy: Oracle is available on free systems, albeit certified only on certain distributions... Another scenario: You’re one of the poor sods who pass your company's Free-OS exemption test because of some esoteric application not available on free systems... OpenOffice.org to the rescue." 5/4/2005 8:36:16 AM
On average, only five make it to interviews: poll [Globe and Mail 5/4/2005] On average, executives only interview five candidates for each job opening, according to a new survey of 100 Canadian executives by OfficeTeam, a unit of Robert Half International Inc.. "Once you secure an interview, you've crossed a major hurdle," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "The key then becomes presenting your skills and talent effectively and building rapport with the hiring manager to distinguish yourself from other candidates." 5/4/2005 8:14:14 AM
Open Document Format Approved [Slashdot: 5/4/2005; 5:52:18 AM] Open Document Format approved! Read all about it!* The OpenDocument format is intended to provide an open alternative to proprietary document formats including the popular DOC, XLS, and PPT formats used by Microsoft Office. Organizations and individuals that store their data in an open format avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out of business or changes their software or licensing terms to something less favorable. The OASIS Group announces that the third Committee Draft [PDF*] of the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 Specification has been approved as an OASIS Standard.
*Acrobat reader required to read open format PDF 5/4/2005 8:08:50 AM
Lobbyists in uproar as Florida Legislature considers banning felons from lobbying. [St. Petersburg Times 5/3/2005 via Fark] Lobbyists were in an uproar Monday over a proposal to ban felons from lobbying the Florida Legislature. It was a last-minute amendment to a bill which would require lobbyists to report the dollars they spend wining and dining lawmakers. The Senate President said he was unaware that any lobbyists had felony records until telephone calls and notes started pouring in. Senator Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, suggested the felony amendment be named in honor of the defibrillators required on the fourth-floor, where lobbyists hang out. 5/4/2005 7:47:09 AM
Data integration can be a hoot with OWL [SearchWebServices.com 2/17/2005] The movement to standards-based computing that XML and Web services herald is eerily analogous to the work done in the first half of the twentieth century to establish international long distance telephone standards. The use of semantic integration technologies, like Web Ontology Language (OWL), can solve the problem of data composition. Using ontologies as an abstraction layer for enabling automated information exchange is analogous to the use of Service contracts to abstract the implementation of service providers from consumers. However, just as SOA requires an advanced investment in architecture, the creation of ontologies are quite time-consuming, and require a leap of faith by implementers before they can realize their value. 5/3/2005 7:41:52 PM
Beating the RSS crunch with aggregation/bloglines [SearchWebServices.com 10/20/2004] Bloglines has created a freely available, simple and straightforward set of APIs that developers can use to access their aggregated blog database and relieve congestion problems. What Bloglines does for RSS feeds is very much like what Google and Yahoo do for popular Web pages and information: they compile this content into their databases, so that accesses to frequently requested pages are satisfied from a local cache, instead of requiring the original server to handle yet another update or access request. 5/3/2005 7:35:14 PM
The Business of Design [Fast Company 5/2/2005] Roger Martin argues that in this turbulent, get-real economy, the advantage goes to those who can outimagine and outcreate their competitors. Traditional companies reward those who prove that something actually operates or that something must be. Design shops reward those with the foresight and courage to act on what might be. "We're telling students that the big bucks are made by administering linear improvements -- getting better and better at doing essentially the same thing," he says. "But the real challenge lies in getting better and better at a different thing: devising clever solutions to wickedly difficult problems." See also: Fast Take: Thinking Like a Designer 5/2/2005 7:34:23 AM
"The result, after six months, is an end to the annoying phone calls ... Yes, they're all still using GNU/Linux. It's what they imagined computing would be in the first place -- no hassles, no threats, no worries. It's like a dream come true, not just for them, but for me too -- no more troubleshooting nightmares and monthly service calls."
Of course, while a static system may be "a dream come true" for support, it may be a different kind of dream for a user who wants to use a new game, camera, or file format ....
"GNU/Linux does not pose the kinds of problems that Windows does. There is no registry to easily corrupt, and the operating system does not fail in generic, catch-all ways. The user has no power to alter the system software, so important files are not accidentally deleted, and potential viruses and spyware programs have no ability to wreck the system."
It's true that Linux currently has fewer installations and fewer attackers, but both of those statistics are changing. As a direct result of Linux's increasing popularity, more and more malware writers are targeting Linux systems -- after all, you're guaranteed that each target system has at least minimal compile/link/load support and scripting, not to mention rootkit support. Security through obscurity is a fool's game.
The point about protecting the system software from the user is an excellent one, though. I wonder if the author has ever heard of Windows XP?
"It takes a knowledgeable, skilled user to keep a Windows system properly maintained. In short, they need an operating system that, for all their trying, they cannot screw up. Windows isn't it."
Mind you, as long as the users are unable to change the operating system, add or remove software, or add or remove hardware, you have an appliance computer. The underlying operating system is almost irrelevant, but in practice it makes much more sense to run a locked down Windows XP installation running in User mode. Windows XP's autoupdate and autorepair mean that with a properly configured antivirus program the system will maintain itself with NO user effort.
Of course, it's not even that simple. I configured a fully locked-down XP system so my mother could use email and browse the web. This worked extremely well for her, but it drove my father nuts. He couldn't change any of the desktop settings, let alone "clean up" the system by moving all the DLLs to the same directory, installing the "right" applications, and deleting "problem" files like kernel32.dll. He finally lost patience, wiped the system, and installed his own highly "optimized" version of Windows 98. He'd probably have done the same thing to Linux. He's happy, she's thrilled any time her email works, and I stopped taking support calls -- so, I guess, that approach works, too.5/1/2005 3:18:22 PM
Near Perfect "Einstein Ring" Discovered. [Universe Today 4/29/2005] Gravitational lensing happens when the gravity of a relatively close galaxy acts as a telescope lens to focus the light from a more distant galaxy. The galaxies are never perfectly lined up, though, and the "natural telescope" is a bit blurry. But now astronomer Remi Cabanac has found one of the most complete lenses ever discovered: a near perfect Einstein Ring, magnifying a distant galaxy with incredible clarity. 5/1/2005 3:09:23 PM
Microsoft Reaches Out to Open-Source Community. [eWeek 4/29/2005] Microsoft Corp. has extended an olive branch to the open-source community, calling for a sit-down to discuss how the software giant can better work with the open-source world. Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, called for bridge building between Microsoft, its competitors and the open-source community. "We will need some new rotations in how we work together, in how we license, in how we share technology or intellectual property rights with each other." Larry Rosen, former general counsel for OSI, said this was the first conciliatory statement to come out of Redmond. Rosen noted that the open-source community helped WWWC develop a royalty-free intellectual property policy, is working with OASIS, and would like to work with Microsoft in the same way. Eric Raymond, an open-source community leader said he too welcomes the conciliatory tone from Microsoft. "Nobody in the open-source world expects Microsoft to open-source their core products; given their business model that would be insane," Raymond said. "But, realistically, they could do some important things... Microsoft has a history of destructive meddling at organizations like the IETF and W3C, and of attempting to hijack standards like Kerberos by making them dependent on proprietary 'extensions.' Simply not doing this would be a huge improvement." 5/1/2005 10:05:24 AM
Space Elevator Group's First Commercial Nanotube Factory opening in June [Universe Today 4/27/2005 via Slashdot: 5/1/2005] LiftPort Group, a consortium dedicated to commercially developing and constructing a space elevator by 2018, will open a commercial-scale carbon nanotube manufacturing plant this June. LiftPort Nanotech will be located in Millville, New Jersey, a community with a history in glass and plastics production. Both the City of Millville and the Cumberland County Empowerment Zone are partnering to provide $100,000 in initial seed money for the new facility. Many expect the LiftPort Group to be a front-runner in NASA's recently-announced Centennial Challenges competitions for space elevator technologies, which begin in September of this year. 5/1/2005 9:50:55 AM