Friday, December 30, 2005

Boy opens video iPod box, finds Spam

Boy finds mystery meat instead of iPod, via Engadget..

At least the guy who found batteries inside a hard drive box from Staples got something useful as his mystery prize; when a 14-year-old Hawaiian boy opened up the video iPod that his mother had bought him for Christmas, he was treated not to one of Steve's little treasures but to an unopened package of "mystery" meat instead.

Oh, come on, Spam is useful. You can eat it. Some gems in the comments, too:

Had this happen at my place of employ before. A digital camera was returned with a bar of soap and a can of V8 tomato juice instead of the camera. *sniff*

I live in Hawaii, and I ate a Spam musubi (spam, rice, seaweed) for breakfast. Spam is everywhere!
One time I bought a can of Spam, and it had a fricking iPod in it! I was PISSED.

Seen it haappen where a bag of flour was found instead of a subwoofer

Years ago I bought a CD copy of Nirvana's Bleach album, and it looked like the real thing, right down to the print on the disc. But they had somehow accidentally put the contents of some really shitty disco pop music on the disc.

ROFL!, that exact same thing happened to me when i bought my Raedon 9600.

ROFL, indeed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

More on Opera's Times Square sign

You might have read my previous post on Opera's marketing decision to place an Opera user's face in Times Square, New York on New Year's Eve on the ABC sign.

Well, they made a decision on who will be representing them!

Dan Alexandru (aka dantesoft) of Romania is Opera's New York - New Year's competition winner!

He had presented us with an interesting story of romance, of love and of course: Opera IRC. His story was just too good for us to pass up. We wouldn't do the story justice by telling it here - read on in Dan's blog to let him tell it properly.

Congratulations, Dan. We hope to be kept up on how this develops.

First image of Dan
"hi guys!"

Second image of Dan
"opera pwns firefox"

I'm sure he will do us proud in Times Square. Ahem. I wonder which of those pictures will actually be displayed on the massive sign?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Microsoft Paint

Yes, it's everyone's favourite graphics editor, Microsoft Paint.

While looking around the internets, I discovered a number of features in Paint that a lot of people don't know about..

The tertiary colour
Most people know that you can pick a primary and secondary colour in Paint - primary is left-click, secondary is right-click. But did you know there is a tertiary colour controlled by CTRL+click?

Tertiary colour
The tertiary colour here is blue. (Red is primary, and green secondary.)

In case you didn't guess, this means that you can use the tertiary colour to paint by holding CTRL while click-dragging the cursor in whatever tool.

Fixed lines, rectangles and ellipses
This feature is fairly simple, but there are still a lot of people who don't know about it. Holding down SHIFT while using the ellipse, rectangle or line tool will result in a "regular" shape. That is SHIFT+ellipse produces a perfect circle, rectangle yields a square and line a line at exactly 0 or 45 degrees from the horizontal or vertical (ie. all the cardinal points including NW, SW, NE, SE).

Clone and trail tools
This is a less useful feature that is still quite interesting and not very well-known. Select an area with the freehand or rectangular selection tools, then hold down CTRL or SHIFT and drag the area. CTRL clones the area - a duplicate image is created, much as if you pressed CTRL+C/CTRL+V. SHIFT creates a trail of the area - as if you had continually been pasting images. It certainly could save you a lot of time if you wanted to do this in the first place, and had to do it in Paint for some bizarre reason.

Mr. Smiley Snake and his Smiley Eggs.
Smiley Snake looks over his Smiley Spawn.

10x zoom
This is a bit glitchy. If you click a certain row of pixels just below the 8x magnification level, you can get 10x magnification.

Click the red bit.
You've gotta click where the red line is.

Apparently this is a removed feature. It's not all that useful considering how much of a pain in the ass it is to get the right pixel row, especially since it makes almost no difference whatsoever.

Magnification levels
Made in Microsoft Paint.

Anyway, I found these "easter eggs" fairly interesting. More easter eggs can be found at, including the famous Word '97 pinball game. Also, a substantial amount of this article was shamelessly taken from the Wikipedia, although I did rewrite it. Wikipedia also has an article about Paint .NET, which is apparently an open-source program made under Microsoft's guidance.

64k 'net sucks. :-(

Online petitions

When are people going to learn that petitions, much less online petitions, don't do shit. Fuck!

You may have heard of a site called, which offers free online petitions. A similar service is offered by PetitionSpot. God.

Let's go through some of these petitions. For starters, the "most active" petitions on PetitionOnline include "INVESTIGATE VIETNAM FOR CONTINUED VIOLATION OF CAMBODIA’S NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY AND SURVIVAL" with 3623 signatures at the moment. It's a letter addressed to the President of the United States asking him to "investigate" relations between Vietname and Cambodia, ie. start a war as far as I can see. Assuming he is able to read the letter, I can't see Bush suddenly saying "let's go declare war on them", unless oil mysteriously appears in Vietnam or something.

So PetitionOnline is pretty worthless, but PetitionSpot is another completely different level of shite. "Ricky is NOT ugly" is currently on the front page as one of the most active petitions. Similar petitions include "we heart emo hair", "PETITION SPOT BLOWS", "Eminem Sux" ("maybe it is time he came out of his closet and let everyone no he is really gay wit dr uhh dre i think it is or wait nooo its dr gay!! now i remember"), or "Make All MMORPG's FREE". What kind of dumb fuck would think that companies like Blizzard would just give up US$100 million per month (based on US$20 per month subscription fee and 5 million active subscriptions to World of Warcraft) just because a couple of people signed a petition saying "it should be free like any other game". MMORPGs have ongoing costs (moderators, servers etc.) unlike "other games", dumbass.

While most petitions have stupid concepts behind them, KKK KILLAS not only is a ridiculous idea for a petition ("KKK SUCKS MAN. THEY SHOULD DIE! HAHAHAHHA. MUHAHHA") it has inspired hundreds of idiots from all walks of life (read: both black people and white people) to comment on either how "niggers deserve to be working on the farm" or "black people have bigger cocks than honkeys". Oh yeah and also "you rasists suk". I post as of now the newest 50 or so signatures in their full unedited (just restyled) glory.

kkk sucks evry body knows eat there just white pppl that has sexs with ther hats
kkk suck the ponty things on there head are used to have gay ses fuck the kkk
lol kkk already xist? they dont give a shit they are fucking death , whites and blacks fucking sucks
363the man
What strikes me is the effort that you people put into this and all it really is ,is free advertising for the Klan.

Thank You for all the support.
Long live the Klan!!!
Damn straight number 342
These fucking pointy hat white ass wiping jerk offs are all going to burn in the gates of hell. And when you do I will laugh. Do you know how there founder died he got poked in the eye with that gay pointy hat. Have fun in hell you white ass wiping fuckers
They will burn in hell every one of them just like there finder
I support this petition.the kkk suck, there is no chance in hell that they will get what they want cuz they seriously need 2 get thei freakin facts rite, white niggas (no offense 2 anyone who is against the kkk)thats rite if they call black ppl niggas they must b white niggas, fuck them, the most racist organisation ever nd y, cuz black ppl got their freedom, how selfish can u get???
i just wanna remind 'THE DEMON WITHIN'(#42) that he shouldn't say that only the whites own america.

first of all, america is actually originally owned by the NATIVE AMERICANS... and the whites, then.. took it away from them in 'UNCIVILIZED' ways. i have a lot of white friends and i am not hating whites at all. in fact, i hate the fact they (some of 'em..) think that they should be superior.

by saying that foreigners make america like saying that he is, as well, technically..'coz the white americans are not the original people of america.

know your history, THE DEMON WITHIN', sir. as an american military..i think that you should set a good example to other them that americans are educated and respectful.

thank you!
355Bryan Millsap
I support this petition.
354kkk fucker
KKK are just facist racist and bitch.They are against evolution and race minorities.They are only a group of son-of-a-bitch who try to look tought but they failed they are cock sucker and dog fucker.EAT THIS KKK PRICK
The KKK stands for Korny Kracker Kunts...i remember not too long ago maybe a couple of months ago they tried marching somewhere in the south and got jumped by the "hood"...i loved seeing it too...
352Angry Fucker
They should change to CKC:
Culture Killing Cunts
The kkk is the biggest group of fags I have ever seen, I'm mean they all wear a dress and look like crackheads. What do they represent....
The freak show?! My high school chess team can stand up to them.
350taylor epley
the kkk just needs to go straight to hell
Yo nigger i think the KKK is white trash hicks that need to get over them selfs cause it aint the way of god god wants us to all be together as one io no iot may sound cheesy but its true
not only fuck the kkk fuck everything that is racist!
not all whites are kkk we can't help being white any differently than u can help being black
these days to get ahead u have to be black sooo wat u on about
the kkk were bad pplz wateva their race
like the suicide bombers they are claiming to be doing thid on behalf of a religion that they break the 1st rule of it by doing that
FucK the KKK they suck big white cocks!!
345jolis friend
jolis is rights just that he ment reipers isted of rapers
344jolis friend
jolis is rights just that he ment reipers isted of rapers
kkk are a bunch of fucking pussys rapers . KKk is full of fucking old bastards bothering others. So kkk motherfuckers we are going to kill you. Watch out idiots.
if u kkk fuckers dont want us in america then why tha fuck did u bringus here in tha first place,since i KNOW u dont have AN ANSWER TO THAT JUST STFU!!!

I hope that this has inspired you to never sign a fucking online petition, as it will do jack shit. For more ranting about the worthlessness of petitions, see Maddox.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Opera to Put User's Face in Times Square

Opera to Put User's Face in Times Square (via Slashdot)

Regardless of whether or not this ever actually happens, they've opened up a forum where users can submit pictures of themselves along with a blurb as to why they feel they deserve to be "honoured" by the Opera sign at New Year's. Suffice to say, it's fucking hilarious.

WHY NOT? - thorgy (link)

Them's some fine-ass bitches right there.
"Them's some fine-ass bitches right there."

This guy (known only as "SerbianFighter") posted a twelve-page rant on civil unrest in Czechslovakia, or something.

Former Yugoslavia consisted of 6 states in which 6 main nations lived... all spoke basically the same language, had same roots, history... all were mixed and it couldn't break peacefully ... nationalism grew on all sides and it all was like a volcano ready to erupt... I really am not here to disscus the reasons or decisions some people that were entitled to decide in our names made... I can only say that we all together and each nation individualy didn't need those rivers of blood and years of hate..

Times Square needs me - magnus_1986 (link)
My name is Muhammad Jamal Abid, and I am ninteen years old. I feel I should be representing Opera on Times Square because this photo gives a look that it is 'aerodynamic' and fast. Just like Opera. It is also very friendly looking as well as aggressive to malicious things, just like Opera behaves with spyware/malicious popups. I gives a fresh young look with a new outlook on life but not immature. Just like Opera.
Friendly tip: Include your "aerodynamic and fast" picture next time!

Someone made a conscious decision to upload this picture to the internet, because they would like it to be displayed on a massive electronic sign in Times Square, in front of a million other people.

Thanks for clarifying that.
Oh, now I get it! Thanks for the clarification. Picture of the man himself.

One acronym: LOL

Original submission.
That's OK Christos, I forget my name sometimes, too.
I forgot my name.

CLICK HERE FOR FREE XBOX 360! - albaby348 (link)
Haha noob! Thank you for checking out my post. Now that I have your attention I will make a claim using obscure reason why you should pick me to REP-RE-SENT Opera. You should pick me because I am not a noob, I am a 1337 h4x0r!!11! I can pwn all other noobs in NYC! In addition, my disgruntled look for prom says it all, Opera is the shizzle!

Damn, I was fooled.
"Damn, I was fooled by albaby348! THERE IS NO XBOX 360!"

Shit yeah.

Swiss Cheese going global - Numer0bis (link)

I eat IE for breakfast, bitch!
swiss cheese going global 24/7 beating down the door fully unstoppable hardcore cubed unit bringing together my brothers and i don't take none of that ie shit for shizzle dizzle. IE SUXXX

Lin Zhizhao - I want my mother know - quasimo (link)
Hello!I want my mother know!I want my mother say Wow!And I want to share my love to the world!I'm Lin Zhizhao,Chinese.
What the hell is with Chinese people wanting to share their love to the world? I thought their goverment banned that?

current mood thoughtful lol
current mood: thoughtful lol XD

Times Square Screen Submission - Underwater Plunge in Paradise - tomasboman (link)
Remember the song "Bakerman is baking bread"? Remember the line "Relax, take it easy"? Use the picture of me taking a plunge on Bora Bora, to remind people around the world that work is not all there is.
What the fuck are you talking about?

Get the fuck off my monitor!
Get the fuck off my monitor!

My 2 greatest loves - Ana and Opera - vlad_leonte (link)
I lOve you both! HOpe we'll make it all three Of us tO NYC!
You forgot the Os in 'you' and 'both', Vlad.

use opera or ill fuck you up wanker
"use opera or ill fuck you up wanker"

Hahaha, Opera rocks.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gotta love forums

Here we go with another rip-off of SomethingAwful's Weekend Web segment. Hey, those bastards don't ever accept any of the shit I send in for them, so I'll do it myself.

Message deleted by administrator
Yeah, iMDB has a pretty good 'posting community'.

oh gn03s, a spyware-virus!
It's spyware.. it's a virus.. it's SPYWARE VIRUS! (

Don't be racist towards negroes!
"don't be racist about negros" (gamefaqs)

Alright, GameFAQs forums are just too funny. The rest are all from GameFAQs.

"no, ur the noob"

Samus gets tired, eventually.
Samus also can curl up into a ball approximately one-quarter her regular size in half a second and drop an unlimited supply of bombs while in this ball, but how the fuck can she walk around all day with a heavy cannon on her arm?

Samus and Master Chief to wed.
I'd hope they invited me to the wedding. Man, that would 'pwn'.

What is the viscosity of Phazon?
Oh, and what is the symbol for kryptonite?

I happen to prefer Metroid Prime.
"I will admit that Britney Spears is decent. I happen to prefer video game characters." "I beg to differ, sir."

'Hawt Samus' stash.
Copy of the first image listed above.
Does your 'stash' contain any 'hawt' pictures of Mario? I've been looking all over.

I'm a Christian!
What in the fuck does this have to do with Halo 2?

I've got nothing to say.
Thanks for sharing with us!

This is too much for me. I might come back later and have another crack at reading GameFAQs forums.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New AIM virus: "lol no this is not a virus"

According to IMlogic, the worm, dubbed IM.Myspace04.AIM, has arrived in instant messages that state: "lol thats cool" and included a URL to a malicious file "clarissa17.pif." When unsuspecting users have responded, perhaps asking if the attachment contained a virus, the worm has replied: "lol no its not its a virus", IMlogic said.

Hahaha. Sadly, this virus will go far.

Something else mentioned on Slashdot: AOL for Dummies. Yes, they actually make such a book.

Simplified BitTorrent media distribution with µTorrent's internal tracker

Some of you may have read my previous review of µTorrent, a relatively new BitTorrent client that aims to provide many of the more advanced features provided by 'full-featured' clients such as Azureus without using massive amounts of computer resources.

Today I'm going to show you how to use µTorrent's undocumented internal tracker to track torrents, and along with DHT allow for simplified media distribution. But before we get started, you may want to know a little more about how BitTorrent works. Wikipedia has a lot of information that may be useful, but I've written an intro to the anatomy of a BitTorrent session which is a must-read for the rest of this article if you don't already know all about trackers.

It's tracking that we're looking at in this guide. Of course, this client is first and foremost just that - a client, and as such can download and seed torrents too (using another tracker). But it features a tracker, which many people don't know about.

The first thing you need to do to track using µT is find something to track. You may want to start just by grabbing any old thing off the net and seeding that; for testing purposes something around 5MB is good since it's quick to download and hash, but slow enough so that you have time to check out what's going on. Epitonic (a depository of free, legal, high-quality music) would be a good place to get such a file.

Now (and this is something you should have done already), you need to get connectable. I'm not going to waste my time telling you how since there are plenty of resources available online such as You need to be connectable to run a tracker, and it will have significant effects on your download speed with regular BT anyway.

Next, create the .torrent by using File > Create new .torrent.

Image of the .torrent creation dialog
What do I have against eBaum? Refer to

PUT.YOUR.IP.HERE:PORT needs to be changed to your external IP (get it from here if you don't know what it is) and your connectable port (the one listed in Options > Preferences > Network Options). The final result should look something like, although the numbers will differ.
Piece size can be changed if you really want to and know what you're doing. You should check Private torrent if you don't want people sharing peers with DHT - ie. you don't want the files leaked outside people who have access to the .torrent file. Click Create and save as when you've entered all the relevant data.

The torrent will appear in the main µT screen and begin seeding. However, there is one thing you should do to optimize speed (this may be necessary on some internet connections) and that is change your IP to localhost. Do this by double-clicking the torrent and replacing your IP with localhost, so that the above example would become http://localhost:5412/announce. Why didn't we do that when creating the .torrent? Well, localhost means the PC that the tracker is currently running on - it only works from that PC. If you had made a .torrent with localhost as the tracker, nobody would be able to connect to it.

You can now send the .torrent on to other people, upload it to the Internet, etc. and people will be able to download its payload - as long as you don't stop seeding that file or close µTorrent.

security concerns

Did you notice that there was no setting that needed to be activated in order to set up and configure the tracker?

This means that any connectable µTorrent user can be used to track a torrent. In my opinion, this presents a minor security risk, especially since it is extremely simple to abuse this fact to track your own torrents. Tracking of torrents containing copyrighted content is a legal grey area, however, should someone release a torrent that you unknowingly tracked, which becomes very popular and contains illegal content (eg. a leaked version of a new movie) it is likely that you or your ISP would at the least receive a cease-and-desist letter. Also, a popular torrent would use up a fair bit of bandwidth / computer resources (if you're just a regular home user) and could cause problems for you that way.

Any µT user (this can be done in most other BT clients, too) can get the details necessary to do this. Simply join a large swarm and open the Peers tab - you'll need to have the IP, Port and Client columns open for this, which can be done by right-clicking on any existing open columns and checking the columns you're missing. Click the Client column to sort by client after 'harvesting' a large number of peers (staying on the torrent for a while should achieve this) and look for the µTorrent users. Any user with an entry in the Port column is connectable, because you initiated communication with them. (Users with no entry here may be connectable, too, but it's simpler just to stick with outgoing connections.) You can then use the IP and port listed for them to run a tracker on their computer without them knowing. Harvesting several IP:ports using this method and embedding them all in a multi-tracker .torrent would make this much more reliable, since if one user were to shut down their client, the torrent would still be tracked.

Worse, there is no way to block this traffic port-wise, since it is on the same port as regular µTorrent traffic.

Disclaimer: I strongly discourage tracking any content on another's computer without their permission! Not only is this unethical, it is probably illegal in most countries, although I don't know enough to provide any details.

Update: There is something you can do to fix this problem now, if it concerns you. The latest beta version of µT, v1.2.3 beta, contains some new features including Unicode support from all Windows OSs past Windows 98, and an advanced option which is off by default to enable the internal tracker. Using this version instead will disable the internal tracker for you without affecting your other downloads. However, it is still a beta version, which means it is not as stable as current final versions. Hopefully, it will be completed soon and all clients will be auto-updated.

µTorrent is a great client, and the internal tracker a great feature. It makes it heaps simpler to self-track torrents and distribute media without mucking around with complicated, highly-configurable trackers.

However, I think that the above concerns need to be addressed - the simplest way would be just to disable the tracker by default, and make it only functional if you enable it in the advanced options dialog. This feature is now present in the latest beta of µT.

Additionally, I think that the µTorrent site should provide some documentation for the internal tracker, basically what I just did, since this is definitely a useful feature and I shouldn't have had to create a new thread on the forums to work out how to use it. (µT development, I give you permission to use anything from this guide in such documentation should you wish to create it.)

Basic anatomy of a BitTorrent session

This is a brief explanation of the anatomy of a BitTorrent session, without going into details on interest, choking, snubbing, et cetera. It's part of my guide to µTorrent's internal tracker, but I didn't want to include it in that article since it was getting a little long, and most readers will already know this info.

Basically, BitTorrent is a way of downloading files which is something of an alternative to HTTP (despite the fact that it uses HTTP). It saves the user a lot of bandwidth because people downloading the file are also uploading it at the same time (or at least making it available for upload).

A BitTorrent session starts on the user's end when that user downloads a .torrent metadata file. This file contains info about the file you want to download including the tracker address and checksums of each piece.

I'll explain. BitTorrent splits up the payload (the file you want to download using it) into a number of pieces and calculates the checksum of each piece. The checksum is a string of characters (in BitTorrent's case, 160 bits worth as it uses SHA-1) that can be used to verify that the part file you downloaded is exactly the same as what the original creator of the .torrent had. I won't go into the maths in this, but you can read about it here. This is necessary because when you allow users to upload your files, you want to be sure they're uploading the right thing and not something that could damage your users' computers (eg. viruses).

So that's what the checksums are for. The tracker address is the address of a server that manages a list of the people on the torrent (collectively referred to as a swarm). Typically, if you want to use BitTorrent to distribute data, you'll have to run the tracker yourself so that people can actually get the file. (Although you can use "decentralized tracking" which is a form of DHT, you should always include a tracker too, since DHT isn't supported by all clients, and is still a bit buggy, as well as slower.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bicycle charger for iPod

Interesting project here over at

Basically this guy used an earlier project where he powered his iPod with a hand crank and adapted it to his bike. Oh, and the entry has lots of pretty pictures.

Picture of the iPod mini displaying one 'power bar'

Visual Basic 2005 Express

background reading: wikipedia links
Visual Basic | C++ | C♯ | J♯

This is a newish program from Microsoft built on Microsoft Visual Studio .NET.

Basically, it's a free (for one year) version of Visual Studio, which is slightly cut-down and only supports Visual Basic. There are also several other Visual Studio Express products including Visual C#, J# and C++.

The Registration Benefits page also is very interesting.

We are offering thousands of dollars worth of resources from Microsoft and third-party partners to ensure that you have a great experience with the Express Editions.
Basically these resources include eBooks and royalty-free graphics including icons for use in your super-leet 'Hello Worldz0r' Visual Basic 'app'.

Hey, but in all seriousness, this seems pretty cool, at least for people just getting into programming and interested in Visual Basic (although whether or not that is a good place to start is debatable). And it will probably decrease the amount on piracy of Visual Studio.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Teenager Posts Suicide Note on Myspace

via New America Media

"This could of ben stoped," [says a friend] via a Myspace comment page that has become Josh's memorial.
According to his words, Josh loved "girls who cry"; was married; was 8 feet, 11 inches tall and made $250,000 a year or more.
"i'm speechless," wrote Kelsey, a 17-year-old from San Juan Capistrano who enjoys "good times."
"unfortunatly we had a scary about 4 days ago he atemted suicid and failed we were all on his back ever since but this mornig right before school he posted this on a bulliton ..." she wrote me. "as soon as my friend rach saw that she told mimi and mimis mom call the police and drove up to his house (they live 1 street up from each other) she found it was to late. if i could telll josh one thing is that i love you and i wish that you could have send the people that hold you dear to"

Myspace, bringing emo kids together.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

8GB temp file for MSN Messenger

The other day I was defragmenting my disk and had a look at the most fragmented files on there in case I could delete them or offload them to an external disk (it speeds up the process a lot).

I noticed that right at the top of the list was a file called
C:\Documents and Settings\Scott\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\MSN Messenger\00037ffe8709ca1c\SharingMetadata\Working\SimilarityTable_2
and that it had about 500 fragments, and was 8.00GB in size. :|

Picture of the file appearing in Windows Explorer.

Right-clicking on the image's properties, however, reveals that the file doesn't actually take up that much room on disk..

Picture of the file's 'size on disk' readout in Windows Explorer.

Naturally, the first thing I did was Google the files which turned up a whole bunch of dead links, as well as this Portugese forum (Google translation) and this unhelpful English forum.

Unless its giving you problems or you're runing out of HDD space-- I wouldnt worry about it. Especially since you don't really know what it's for yet.
Great. Anyway, translation of the Portugese page led me to this thread on Neowin which clarified the issue somewhat. Apparently I'm not alone in this.

Looks like the file came from the Windows Messenger Live beta. I'd advise anyone who installed it to look for this file and delete it. It's a hidden and system file, so you might have to turn a few options off in Folder Options.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

"Can I ask you whether you prefer Internet Explorer or Firefox?"

This is an interesting "video blog" where they go around asking random people on the street "whether they prefer Internet Explorer or Firefox".

download via
BitTorrent | HTTP
please use BitTorrent if you know how, otherwise use HTTP.

The comments are really insightful. Here's a few memorable ones.

"It seems to be faster, and for what it's worth, it seems to be more secure."
"Explorer." "Why?" "'Cos I don't know how the fuck to use Firefox right now! It seems all weird to me; Mozilla, right? It's just weird to me."
"Firefox, definitely. Isn't it like the best invention of 2005 or something?"
"[Firefox,] 'Cos it's a non-Microsoft product - it doesn't crash as much."
"[Firefox, because] Uhhh... Internet Explorer has all kinds of problems with uh, many websites that you might go to visit, you know, in Firefox maybe it has less, you know, I think perhaps it's more secure anyway."
"Firefox." *gives thumbs up and runs away*
"I use Firefox, just because my dad said I get less viruses that way."
"[Firefox,] Because it has a fox and it's on fire."
"[Firefox,] Because.. I hate Internet Explorer." "Why?" "I dunno, it's not as secure as Firefox."
"I'm not for big err.. the Microsoft is giving me trouble."
"[Firefox,] Because it blocks all my cookies."
"Why?" "I dunno, I just like Firefox."
Oh yeah, the harp music was a nice touch, too.

Go Firefox marketing! Firefox, the browser used by people because "my dad says it gives me less viruses, it blocks all my cookies, and it's a fox on fucking fire, dude!"

Friday, December 02, 2005

Windows OneCare Live: first public beta (Microsoft anti-virus)

The first public beta of Windows OneCare Live is now available. This is essentially Microsoft's new anti-virus solution, which is apparently based on the software by the Romanian anti-virus company they acquired some time ago.

It seems to be tying in to Windows Live somehow, though I haven't had a chance to test it out yet. I'll post back here when I do. For now, you can get the beta from here, although you need to open this link in IE6 to actually get the file, as well as supply your email address.

More at The Register.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

News: Firefox 1.5, evil 'Mosquito' device

Firefox 1.5
Yes, everybody's favourite browser (except mine) has been released in version 1.5. Given that I posted a rant about Firefox users just the other day, you might wonder why I am talking about the 1.5 release.

Well, rather than answer that question, I'll give you some download links for the browser first.
The main Mozilla page which is redesigned (looks nice, I might add) and features a direct link to a download, which I assume automatically does load-balancing and gives you the fastest/closest mirror to you.
Firefox 1.5 RC3 on the iiNet FTP. This is a high-speed link, I suggest you use this instead but...

Well, "1.5 Final" is exactly the same as 1.5 RC3. That stands for release candidate 3, which means that it's the third iteration of the browser that was "ready for release" but submitted for peer review. When I say exactly, I mean exactly; even if you are the type who updates just to get rid of the RC3 notice (ie. me), I assume that there was no such notice in the first place, since the checksums of the files are exactly the same. Bleh. (Oh, and it hasn't yet been localized to en-GB - Commonwealth English - for those of you who like that version. But I personally prefer en-US since GB changes the Google search to, and I'm in Australia.)

Anyway, there are some fairly extensive release notes that come with this version, I'll summarize them here because a lot of it wouldn't matter to most people (ie. accessibility options for disabled people like Braille displays).

  • Automated update to streamline product upgrades. Finally! First, there are automatic updates that work properly (the automatic ones in 1.x were crappy), and they are actually incremental, which means that updating Firefox no longer means "downloading the entire 5MB installer and reinstalling it". This is one feature I'm sad to say Opera still doesn't have yet.
  • Browser navigation improvements. This marks the introduction of two new features ripped from Opera: one; 'instant' back and forward, which is almost as good as Opera's version, and definitely a cool feature. Also you can now drag and drop tabs into different orders, which is IMO another feature I like to have in Opera, but effectively useless. As far as tabbed browsing goes, I just want to see a browser that allows (not forces) you to have two rows of tabs. When you have lots of tabs open, it becomes difficult when they are too small to display window titles, and I really don't think this introduces any clutter issues since many browsers (and extensions) include toolbars below the tabs already.
  • Improvements to product usability. This is where they bundle a bunch onf minor updates, interesting ones are descriptive error pages (like Opera, it means that errors don't pop up in front of you and annoy you - screenshot) and a redesigned options menu (doesn't seem all that special, just like they moved the icons that are equivalent to tabs in most options dialogs to the top, where they used to be on the left).
  • Report a broken Web site wizard. Sounds pretty cool, although I don't know if the web designers will really give a shit.

Also, the new version is accompanied by a new domain: Seems a bit weird to me but I guess some people weren't responding to the .org. Oh well.

Evil 'Mosquito' device
Some guy has decided to create a device that "he hopes will provide a solution to the eternal problem of obstreperous teenagers who hang around outside stores and cause trouble".

The device, called the Mosquito ("It's small and annoying," Stapleton said), emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that, he said, can be heard by most people younger than 20 and almost no one older than 30. The sound is designed to so irritate young people that after several minutes, they cannot stand it and go away.

Right. This seems really stupid to me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

eDonkey / eMule sucks.

I recently had to get a file from the eDonkey (eD2K) network and can honestly say that it sucks.

First, for those of you who will be confused when I start throwing around terms like eDonkey, eMule and eD2k, you may want to know the differences between them..

eDonkey / eDonkey2000
I use it to refer to network that software such as eMule uses. However, there is also a eDonkey client made by the original creators of the network called eDonkey2000. It's generally not that popular, since you either must pay for it or use an ad-supported version.
An open-source eDonkey client. The most popular client used on the eDonkey network. Download it here.
Most people use this to mean an eD2k link, which is sort of like a .torrent file in BitTorrent terms.

Anyway, back to why eDonkey sucks donkey balls (har har). First, a disclaimer; yes, I have used it before, and have all my settings right. I used to use eDonkey on a more regular basis until I discovered BitTorrent and even then I thought it sucked. Sorry, but even Kazaa is better, IMO.

Why do I think eDonkey sucks? Well, I'll do a pros and cons chart, because it certainly has its pros as well. I'll throw in a few comparisons to BitTorrent, too, and Kazaa, although when I speak of Kazaa I'm technically referring to the FastTrack network it uses.

  • eD2k links, which function by embedding the hash of a file into a URL so that someone can spawn an eDonkey download with their client by clicking a link on a website. (They're typically prefixed by 'ed2k://'.) This functionality is available in BitTorrent as a .torrent file, and in Kazaa as a Sig2Dat link, although Kazaa requires an external addon to utilize these.
  • 'Chunk distribution', which is basically a way of redistributing a download before you actually have the complete file. I'm not 100% sure how, technically, eDonkey achieves this, but it doesn't seem to work as well as the equivalent feature in BitTorrent, which is essentially the same concept but chunks are called 'pieces' instead. There's no such feature in Kazaa.
  • Many ways of searching. You can search via the server you're connected to, distributed search over several servers and the Kademlia decentralized network it uses, or using a number of web-based solutions like FileDonkey.

  • It's slow as hell. Typically it takes around an hour to get anything to even start downloading, and I'm really not sure why, although I personally attribute it to lack of policing...
  • ...because eDonkey doesn't really have a big 'sharing community' any more, nor a way of preventing leechers. For example, private BitTorrent sites use BitTorrent's trackers to monitor the amount uploaded or downloaded by a given user and in this way prevent users from abusing the network with leecher modifications. I think there are quite a lot of people using such mods on eDonkey. For example, once I'd downloaded over 0.5% of the file I was looking for, I had already started maxing out my upload speed allocated to eDonkey (~100KiB/s). I limited this to 30KiB/s since my download speed was less than 15KiB/s. By the time I had finished downloading the file, my share ratio was over 6.5. Seriously. That's how many people were leeching the file off me, and I wasn't even leaving it open for that purpose.

So, screw eDonkey. The other thing is that the whole thing seems to be a more seedy affair than BitTorrent. For example, consider when I set eMule to automatically connect to both the Kad network and a server. (eMule supports a hybrid of P2P, similar to latest versions of BitTorrent clients with DHT - you connect to a server, similar to a tracker, which was the original method of distribution, but you can also connect to the Kademlia - or Kad - network at the same time, which is decentralized, and works basically the same as DHT in BitTorrent.)

Screenshot of the server connection status
"Sexy-sex-o-sex? Gotta get me some of that."

Yes, that is the server I was automatically connected to.

Screenshot of the wide selections of servers I can join
5.98 + 8.03 = 14.01. There are more than 14 thousand users on a server called 'zoo sex'. I think I'll pass.

Here's the wide selection of servers I could have picked. Go eDonkey!

Oh well, I don't have much more to complain about. Just stay away from this crap network, except as a last resort. Look for stuff on BitTorrent instead.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


What is Firefox? Firefox is an open-source web browser that is making significant headway in the online world.

However, every person who uses a browser other than IE and Firefox is familiar with the rabid Firefox fanboy. The person who starts up their own page on how brilliantly awesome Firefox is because of all it's innovations, including:

  • Tabbed browsing! First present in Opera v1, 1994.
  • Popup blocking! First present in Opera v5, 2000.
  • More secure! The main reason Firefox is "more secure" is because it doesn't load ActiveX controls, which isn't exactly a feature. Opera has obviously had this since v1 also. However, the "Privacy" tab in the Options window features several convenient methods for deleting your "browsing tracks". This is essentially a duplicate of the "Delete private data" dialog first introduced in Opera v4 (2000).
  • Smart searching! This means three things: Google search integrated into the toolbar (Opera v5, 2000), "instant find in page" searching (ie. searching as you type) and "smart keywords" which allow you to type for example "wp BitTorrent" into the address bar to search for BitTorrent on Wikipedia. Both of the latter two features have been present since I started using Opera (v7, 2003) but may have been present earlier.

Just for reference, Firefox was first released as "Phoenix" in late 2002, however at this stage it was extremely immature and had very few features compared to what it has today (as well as a much smaller number of extensions and extremely unstable extension code).

These are the main advantages first preached by Firefox fans and most prominently featured on the main Firefox website. However, there are a number of others that are also Opera innovations or were already present in Opera before Firefox. I've also left out a lot of features present in extensions that are also in Opera already.

For a larger list of Opera's innovations, read Innovations by Opera on the Opera 8 Wiki. Also this blog post by haavard is an interesting writeup with a similar theme.

There is one major feature I like about Firefox though, which is why I install it whenever I can on computers I'm working on (ie. fixing - a computer that is usually not used by a "power user"). You can read more about it here, but basically, Firefox is a lot simpler and closer to IE "out of the box" than Opera is. For starters, the panels on the left are way different to IE. The tabs don't quite look right to someone used to IE in Opera. However, overall, Opera is a better browser for power users, once you get used to it.

Also, the rendering engine in Firefox (Gecko) appears to be a lot closer to that in IE than the one in Opera

What annoys me is people that really are, in my opinion, power users (or at least approaching it) who use Firefox and remain ignorant of Opera's advantages. People that say things like "Firefox is better because it's faster/simpler" or "Firefox is better because of all its extensions" when those features are already in Opera, and Opera being an integrated program is much more efficient resource-wise.

This blog is going on about how great Firefox is for BitTorrent.

If the “open with” box is greyed out for some reason, I advise to download the mimetype extension. This extension allows you to edit the way all filetypes are handled.
In other words, if Firefox screws up for some unknown reason, you need to download an extension to activate a simple feature that's already built in to Opera! The page also features a" number of comments by Firefox users on how awesome the article is.
A veggie and damn proud… there is no god.. because IE exists.. Firefox pwns" - Null
"I wish I could use FireFox. It works fine on my old computer, but for some reason on my new one it always works fine for about 10 minutes then doesn’t respond and eventually crashes." - Nereus (but he still loves Firefox!)
"Good" - Kaoiri
"thx for all those “beautiful words” related to firefox! indeed, a GREAT browser." - Adeekos
"cool" - Alex
"fire fox is cool" - Alex

Nobody has come up with a good reason for me to switch to Firefox yet, however, every time I talk about Opera someone tries to tell me how much better Firefox is. I've yet to see someone do this without claiming something that's just not true. The only thing that tempts me (apart from the fact that Firefox is open-source, which doesn't appeal to me all that much now that Opera is free) is that Google's code (which is often a little kludgey) is as far as I can tell designed to work in Firefox and IE - if it works in other browsers that's just a bonus. Thus I can't use the full benefit of some of their applications like Reader and to an extent Blogger. However, hopefully things will become more standards-compliant in the future as the standards become more mature, and webmasters are able to achieve more without resorting to ugly hacks.

On a more positive Firefox-related note, I discovered The Firemonger Project the other day. If you do any work that might involve you promoting or installing Firefox, you may find this interesting - basically an ISO including Firefox, Thunderbird and a whole lot of documentation which could come in handy if you're teaching a newbie how to use Firefox or the internet in general.

PS: Anyone know how to stop Blogger from switching to preview mode when you press CTRL+SHIFT (when you're coding in HTML)? It's pissing me off. :-(

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Canon EOS-350D (Digital Rebel XT) Digital SLR camera: first impressions

Skip towards the bottom to see the photos I've taken with the camera, and ignore all the camera-speak if that's your thing.. :-)

I recently picked up a Canon EOS-350D digital SLR from Plaza Cameras in the city. So far it's looking pretty good, although I'm pretty sure my photography skills still need some work :-)

To start with, I'll run over some of the camera's basic specs. In other parts of the word (USA and Japan) it's called the "Digital Rebel XT" or "Kiss 'n' Digital" for some reason unbeknownst to me, but I'll call it by the name everyone else uses, the EOS-350D. EOS ("electro-optical system") is the prefix Canon affixes to its digital SLRs. For those of you who don't know what that is, you may want to check out the Wikipedia articles on SLR photography and digital SLRs. A full review of the EOS-350D was linked above, and is available on You can see a picture of the camera here.

The camera features a 8 megapixel CMOS sensor and I purchased it with the "kit lens" which is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens.

I have some minor problems with the camera... but then again there are a lot of great features it has that I'm pleased with. I'll get the bad things out of the way first.. to start with, the method of downloading your photos to your PC pisses me off. Instead of using the USB mass storage device class it uses some sort of shitty other standard that I don't quite understand, and you either have to use external software or WIA (Windows Image Acquisition) to get the images. I guess I'll be picking up a card reader soon, because this kinda sucks. Also, I keep losing my USB cables so if I get a card reader that should simplify things somewhat :D

Another thing that annoys me is that in my opinion, the automatic modes (ie. where the camera decides how to take the photo for you) are too simplistic. I can understand where Canon are coming from - they assume that since this is an entry-level DSLR, you buy it to get into photography, and when you're starting off or someone who is not familiar with your camera is trying to take a photo, you don't want to be confused by additional options, when the camera should be taking care of it for you.
However, even though I'm starting to get a feel for what works well in manual mode, I still like to use the basic modes as backup - just in case I screw up the manual ones. The problem here is that the camera doesn't just set the options for you - it hides them. So I can't manually change the ISO speed for example, which even the most basic photographer could understand in a second. What really annoys me most about this though, is that you can't shoot in RAW or manually disable/enable the flash. There is a 'no-flash' mode, but if the camera deems it necessary, the flash will pop up and the camera shoots with it if you're in any other mode. And no-flash mode is the same as the full-auto mode, what if you're trying to take a portrait or landscape shot? I'd like more control over the flash, which is the main reason I started using the manual mode so quickly (ie. full control over it).

Finally, and apparently this is a gripe all 350D owners share, you don't see the ISO speed in the LCD screen or viewfinder. Let me explain. Canon have moved all the key information about your shot (shutter speed, lightmeter, shot mode, aperture etc.) on to a black-and-white LCD above the "main" LCD, although some of this info is still available when looking through the viewfinder. This LCD is backlit when you press a button, and obviously consumes a lot less power than the full colour LCD (which is only activated when looking at the advanced menu or reviewing your shots). I think this is a great idea, since it's often difficult to read a colour LCD in the sunlight. However, for some reason, they neglected to put the ISO speed on this readout. What the hell?

As for the good side, the camera performs as you would expect it to, which doesn't sound like much, but it really is. The sensor gives you excellent detail with almost no noise even at ISO 1600. If I had any complaints they would relate to the flash and lens - but I'm using the standard flash (inbuilt) and lens, so I really can't expect the absolute best quality from them compared to professional photos. Also, these problems are easily fixed by throwing money at the camera and buying a Speedlite (for fill and bounce flashing) and a good lens.

As soon as I have enough money I'll be buying myself a new lens, probably a decent telephoto lens (for those used to point-and-shoot digital cameras, a "zoom lens", although technically this refers to any lens that can zoom in and out, even if it is from wide-angle to 55mm like mine - which means the closest it can zoom is basically the same as your regular eyesight). The lens I have my eye on (haha, optics pun) is the EF 100-400mm USM IS "super-telephoto" lens, but I'm really not seriously considering it; seeing as it costs more than double the cost of the camera's body (around $2 500 AU as far as I can recall). ;-) Also this has Canon's Image Stabilizing technology as well as USM AF (ultrasonic motor auto-focus) which in a nutshell, means really clear and bright images and extremely quiet and fast focussing without a flash.

Anyway, for those of you who I'm sure would rather see some of the photos I've taken than read endless camera-speak, here are some photos I've taken. Click the thumbnails to enlarge them. The only post-processing I've done is resizing/encoding (from 3.5MB JPGs) and on a few, cropping or rotating. (I'll be updating more photos on my deviantART page as I take them..)

picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d
picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d
picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d
picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d
picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d picture taken with canon eos-350d
Damn, that took a long time. Thanks to ImageShack for the free image hosting.