Operating Systems


So I’ve run Windows 7 for a few months now. I really like it. But I dislike having to run it. I dislike being forced to endure change. The flux of computers actually makes me like computing, as a hobby, less. I get tired of spending time creating the same solution over and over again. To me, most of these problems have been solved.

[[[ I often have problems with the fact that I’ve solved a certain problem before most people ever realized they had it. For instance, I was tagging my photos in 2000. It was awhile before web sites like flickr popped up (2005ish) and got into tagging more. So while new people got to go straight to tagging in flickr, I had to figure out a way to programmatically import tags from my pre-existing system into the existing one. Another instance: Playlists. I have playlist generation down pat. My music is strictly managed on a per-track basis, with me making adjustments on a daily basis. The problem is solved. But then iTunes comes along. They don’t let you import your music directly. So I can’t just take a playlist, and have a program copy all those songs to an iPod. Nope. I’d have to write an apple-approved app, even though I already have a program that works just fine (on Android phones, non-Apple mp3 players, etc). I’m actually penalized for having solved the problem before it became trendy to do so. This situation is another one: Somebody just starting to edit audio today would choose from a choice of modern programs, and would hopefully choose one that lets you edit one file while saving another. I don’t have that choice. I’m locked in to what I know and am experienced with. To learn something new would waste more time than this blog post…]]]

So anyway… one thing I do is I run CoolEdit to edit audio. I RUN IT TWICE. I actually copy the folder to two instances, and run each EXE separately with cooledit1.bat and cooledit2.bat. Why? That way, I can be editing on 1 while the other is saving the last file I edited. Some people buy 7200RPM drives and brag about how much faster their files save, but I kept all the money and never had to wait for a file to save anyway, because I’m in the other CoolEdit, clipping away that annoying 10 second trailing silence… while the other cooledit is saving. Or perhaps I’m looking through files and realizing they don’t need to be edited at all, while the other cooledit is loading more files. Either way, running two definitely helps. And you couldn’t just run it twice.

Enter Windows 7. But now I have a new motherboard with multiple “soundcards”, one per each jack. These cooledits don’t seem to be able to share audio. Let’s try setting one to SPDIF digital audio. Let’s try setting the other to the speaker analog audio. Maybe I’ll still be able to hear it from the downstairs speakers (which are hooked up to the “2nd soundcard”)? I am NOT fucking editing files listening to speakers on another floor! Maybe I can set one for Microsoft Sound Mapper and the other for SPDIF. Goddamnit. Okay. I think I got both sharing sound finally. But no. They crash a lot. Which 20 files did I have open in them again? Arrrgh! Keeps crashing! WTF! Damnit. Let’s try compatibility modes for the EXE files. Let’s set them for coolpro.exe in both folders. What a pain! Still crashing.

Finally, I realized something: I was assuming I needed 2 folders at all anymore. Sure, that was the case from 2000-2011, but maybe that isn’t the case from 2011-present?

I ran cooledit1 twice. And I got 2 instances of it, even though it’s the same folder and same EXE file. WTH? And they share sound with each other perfectly too!

Apparently Windows 7 has improved the way things run, allowing you to run multiple instances of certain programs that could never do this before? Praise Peter Quistgard! I can finally dump that second CoolEdit folder! Next time I re-install Windows, it will be nice to not have to set up my hotkeys and preferences TWICE. (more…)

Some tips for doing re-installs frequently…

1) Always keep your hardware drivers for any computer in C:\HARDWARE\computername\hardwaretype\hardwarename

For example:
c:\hardware\Hades\video cards\ATI\ for your video card drivers.

And of course, make sure this folder is copied onto 2 computers, or part of your backup process. This is very helpful. For one thing, install CDs are often lost. For another thing, personal research allows you to leave little notes like “Use the install CD, then upgrade to this version, but NOT the latest version, it sucks”. Information that’s not used frequently and often forgotten can save you if you put it in a place where you can’t miss it.

2) I always keep my basic non-installable command-line tools in C:\UTIL\, which is replicated to every computer every reboot. Lots of my tools thus work, automatically. I copy my command-line, 4NT, from another computer as well. So out of the box, most of my “ClintIsms” work without any form of installation.

3) I find it helps to make a folder called \RE-INSTALL\ somewhere, with numbered subfolders, to deal with those programs that require pesky installation:

U:\RE-INSTALL
├──1 (do before bringing online)
├──2 (daily use programs)
├──3 (near-daily use programs)
└──4 (weekly or less use programs)

For me, folder 1 just includes WinZip (so I can unzip my other programs), my antivirus (EZ AntiVirus), my firewall (SyGate), and my settings tweaker (X-Teq Pro).

Before going to folder 2, we must bring the computer online safely. This involves fully patching the machine without connecting to the internet — which is a catch 22. The updates are on the internet, but you need them to safely be on the internet. How do you solve that? Answer: CTUPDATE. CTUpdate is a command-line script that can first be set to download every patch for an OS. You do this once ever, and add it to your backups. You now have all the patches in an offline form. CTUpdate can then apply them without ever going online. It also reduces the total reboots to about 3 or so instead of 10 or so, and runs without you having to click or do anything! Unfortunately, it fails if you don’t make sure these 4 files are deleted, so I had to make a ctupdate.bat to run ctupdate.cmd by deleting th ese 4 files:

C:\bat>cat ctupdate.bat
if exist c:\recycled\SetOSEnvVars.cmd *del c:\recycled\SetOSEnvVars.cmd
if exist c:\recycled\wsusscn2.cab *del c:\recycled\wsusscn2.cab
if exist c:\recycled\update.txt *del c:\recycled\update.txt
if exist c:\recycled\MissingUpdateIds.txt *del c:\recycled\MissingUpdateIds.txt
c:\util\ctupdate\client\Update.cmd
REM note that if it’s XP, it’s c:\recycler\ and not c:\recycled\

Folder 2 includes my daily use programs, which are different for each person. For me, they are AudioScrobbler, Winamp, EditPlus (text editor), Firefox (but having a new version is tricky; still, an old version is better than nothing), MSCOMCTL.ZIP (a DLL I always end up needing), TweakUI, WinZip Command-Line Addon, VLC Player, John’s Adventures Desktop Background Switcher.

Folder 3 includes things I use not quite daily. ActivePerl, EvilLyrics, VNC server, Winrar. IT’S IMPORTANT TO PUT VNC SERVER IN YOUR STARTUP! If you mess up your video card such that your computer can’t display anything, you can VNC in and fix it. You could also use Remote Desktop in this situation.

Folder 4 are my more esoteric tools that I only occasionally use. CoolEdit audio editer, Acoustica audio converter, ImageMagick, Xing mp3 encoder (which I only use for CBR encodes; I use c:\util\LAME.exe for VBR encodes).

Anyway — being able to install windows in only 3 reboots, and get most of my drivers and programs installed without having to hunt them down and download them (or find the install cd) really helps take away a lot of the stress of the process. And repositories that can be backed up are helpful too. But my last tip has to do with those programs you only use rarely — once a month, once a year. Make a C:\INSTALL-FILES\ and make separate folders for util-net, util-video, util-sound, util-diagnostic, games-misc, games-tetris, etc. This repository will grow to be several gigs big, but it’s really nice to be able to install any program you’ve ever installed in the past without having to connect to the internet.

And for God’s sake, don’t leave your EXE files exposed. Zip them. This protects them from a virus better than running antivirus, as most virii wont look inside a ZIP file. I lost thousands of EXEs in my c:\INSTALL-FILES\ due to the w32.licum virus — but 0 of my zipped ones. (more…)

So who did the Windows Update that came out last night? Since I had automatic updates, I had no choice. But I tried to stop it by killing some processes. This was a bad idea. I should have just let it go.

Now [UPDATE: it’s fixed now], all non-bolded text on all webapages are italics, including any text box I type in. Firefox 2.0.0.13 and I already decided Firefox 3.0 is something I’d like to avoid based on trying it out [UPDATE: it wasn’t a firefox error, it happened in IE as well]. So what the hell is happening? How can a Windows Update affect Firefox? [UPDATE: It didn’t. My Arial font got corrupted.] Is Microsoft pulling some shit (forced incompatibility)? [UPDATE: No.]

This just goes along with my general rant against changing computers. If I set something up, it should stay exactly as I set it up – for the rest of my life. This is progress? Now I have to find a new web browser, and kiss my working plugins goodbye? I need the NoSquint plugin to live on a 52-inch monitor. [UPDATE: To add to this rant .. a font file, once installed, really shouldn’t be touched. Ever!]

UPDATE: My arial font may be corrupted.

UPDATE: Fixed by downloading arial font HERE.

(more…)

My new computer is coming along quite nicely, but I still think Windows XP blows compared to Windows 2000. Change is bad when you already have everything you need and just want to continue using the same hardware and software you’ve been using for 10+ years. If I want to do new stuff, I’ll get another computer for that. Leave my main computer alone. Also: Micro-review of Shrek 2. ** WARNING: SUPER-LONG POST **. You might want to ‘star’ this for lunch. Click for the rest–> (more…)

    Yup.  Damn those hedgehogs are amazingly cute for such a fugly animal. (more…)

    Busy day full of bad news. Corporate censorship by Verizon. Cop fined just $400 for shooting at people in an off-duty road rage. But if you cough on an officer, expect to go to jail. More stuff below. Please make sure to read about the [black] student getting her wrist broken by the [white] security guard, after he made her go back and clean up her cake she spilled. It’s the last link. Please read it. This shit makes me nuts. (more…)

      Kathy Griffin’s Emmy remarks to be censored – thank you Catholic League.  Hilarious MS-DOS 5 Upgrade Video – a 5-minute “rap” about MS-DOS 5.0 and how you MUST GET ITThey even say, “Give me 5!”.
      (more…)

        Joggers drop flour to mark route; charged with felony; “decontamination” ensues; paranoid fucks.  Disable Windows Key via registry. (more…)

          It’s the weekend and I’m getting nothing done!
          Click for some links. (more…)

          I WANT MY WINDOWS KEY TO WORK GODDAMNIT… wtf. No, Control-Escape isn’t good enough for me!! It was my meta key for winamp…. I don’t want to use the stupid buttons. I like normal keys, damnit.

          Girder sucks, but it’s all I know. I can’t believe that Girder under XP can’t capture the Windows keyboard, but Girder under 2K can. Laziness has prevented me from downgrading XP to 2K, but more and more, I just find more things I hate about XP. Now that my XP machine has become my primary machine… I am half-tempted to re-install windows. But, in the interest of the short-term, I will try to live with this crap. I have for 2.5 years already; just not as my primary computer. (more…)

          Iraq killbots to begin killing humans. Sex Offender Registration Targets Homeless — Man Faces Life In Prison At Tax Payer Expense … For Homelessness! High-Quality Content Can’t Be Easily Played by Vista. Flickr To Add Video… And more! (more…)

          Definitely the worst mouse-click ever. (more…)

          You Wouldn’t Catch Me Dead In Iraq. Design your own t-shirts for $15. Microsoft Vista requires you to already have windows to install it! (WTF?). Also, a really need search engine. Read on for the links. (more…)

          You are Windows 98.  You're a bit flaky, but well-liked.  You don't have a great memory, but everyone seems to know you.  A great person to hang out with and play some games.
          Which OS are You?
            I am, apparantly, Windows 98. (more…)

          U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has snuck the dreaded and condemned "broadcast flag" into a bill on Net Neutrality.  In effect, it would allow broadcasters to veto any features of digital televisions and downstream devices.  This would ultimately give Hollywood studios control over technology and ensure that technological innovation does not affect their business model.

          One alarming element of the broadcast flag proposal is how it prohibits the use of free and open source software in digital TV applications (including PC operating systems, video drivers, etc).  This is because tech companies would be required to build devices to be robust, to resist the attempts of their owners to modify them.

          Um………… Can we say "load of crap"?  As a user of open-source video drivers who has used his video card to record hundreds of gigs of television, I do not want my rights to use my technology as I see fit taken away.

          Net neutrality is good, but this bill is a poison pill that should be rejected.

          Beware wolves in sheeps' clothing.

          http://www.okgazette.com/news/templates/cover.asp?articleid=423&zoneid=7

           Be afraid. Be very afraid.

          Next step, Washington?

          It seems everything is a bait-and-switch conspiracy nowadays.  Give them what they think they want:

          Called the “Computer Spyware Protection Act,” House Bill 2083 would create fines of up to a million dollars for anyone using viruses or surreptitious computer techniques to break on to someone’s computer without that person’s knowledge and acceptance, according to the bill’s state Senate author, Clark Jolley.

          But really, make it exactly what they don't want:

          That means that Microsoft (or another company with such software) can erase spyware or viruses. But if you have, say, a pirated copy of Excel — Microsoft (or companies with similar software) can erase it, or anything else they want to erase, and not be held liable for it. Additionally, that phrase “fraudulent or other illegal activities” means they can:

          • Let the local district attorney know that you wrote a hot check last month.
          • Let the attorney general know that you play online poker.
          • Let the tax commission know you bought cartons of cigarettes and didn’t pay the state tax on them.
          • Read anything on your hard drive, such as your name, home address, personal identification code, passwords, Social Security number … etc., etc., etc.

          “I think in broad terms that is still a form of spying,” said Marc Rotenberg, attorney and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.

          And I'd agree.

           So basically, Microsoft uses spyware as an excuse to spy on us.  Corporations manipulating lawmakers into changing the law so that our computers testify against us.

          Nothing is sacred, and this is only the beginning.

          So I tried installing VectorLinux on Fire (after burning a new disc with better media).  No go.
          At least with Kubuntu, through some googling I found out Alt-M puts you in adminstrator mode.  So I can do administrator stuff despite the fact the button everything says to push doesn’t exist.
          Of course, that did nothing to fix the network, which doesn’t work.  And I’m not super-duper interested in finding out what the problem is when the card worked fine under windows.
          This is my 3rd bout with Linux (Slackware in 1999, Redhat in 2002) and once again I do not think it is ready for old machines.  Maybe it would work fine on new machines, but Windows is still better in my book.  And less annoying.  Yes, I said it.
          Well, my computer “Fire” seems to be shaping up a bit.  Once we realized the cd was invalid, despite passing verification, we realized we’d spent like 2 nites pulling harddrives 5 times, ram once, cpu once, moving monitors, and all kinds of crazy shit.  All of it was a wild-goose-chase stemming from thinking the computer was bad instead of the CD!
          Burned a new cd.  Used its self-testing method to self-test.  Fine.  The thing actually worked.
          I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, so I only installed the base package.  What a mistake that was.  I was all done and all I got was a unix prompt!  “HELP” only revealed shell operator commands.  I guess I’m supposed to know all this stuff already?  I manually went thru directory trees looking for “startx” where I thought it should be.  Finally, I realized I only had the base package installed.
          So I decide to install the rest.  How do I do it?  I don’t know.  Apt-Get?  Nah.  My network wasn’t configured.  I said “configure network later”.  No opportunity was given.  If “configure network later” means having to do it manually later, then warn me!!!   I kidna figured I would be presented with an opportunity of equal ease to setup my network.  And to install the additional packages.  No fucking way.
          So, yes, I had to install again starting from scratch.  This time I put in my network info right away, and did the full installation.
          Yay!  I had a login prompt by bedtime!  But… My browser wouldn’t work.  Oh look, my network card is greyed out.
          I’d like to change the settings, but they are greyed out.  They say I need to push the “Administrator Mode” button to be able to make those kinds of changes.
          I do not see this button.  And upon googling, I am finding other people who don’t see the button.  So then they have to find out the name of the binary that is being called and “sudo <binaryname>” just to use what is essentially a control panel.
          Fuck that. I might just literally throw the whole computer away.  This Ubuntu is not living up to it’s reputation.
          There’s still VectorLinux to try.  At least it has some cool screensavers.

          So my computer Fire is confusing me again… Now I find out the Ubuntu install cd has some sort of self-check program, and it tells me the fucking disc is corrupt! Well goddamn, I burned it using Nero with Verify turned on on my pre-built Gateway machine running Windows XP. Never in my whole life of Windows not-XP or non-Gateway cd-burners have I had this problem.

          And “Storm” (my main computer, best computer ever) just had it’s cd-burner break! That Plextor burned every cd I burned for years! (Of course I’ll never get another Plextor, but that’s another story.)

          So now I am stuck with 600 or so blank cds from my huge batch of 1,200 way way way way back when (3 dvd burners ago). And they aren’t “in the burn strategy list” for the stupid Gateway DVD/CD burner. It insists on a verification. And lies to you that it is fine when it isn’t. What… The… Fuck.

          Am I to become suspect of combo cd/dvd drives now? Do I need to buy a separate cd burner? (That’s sooooooo stupid when dvd burners are so cheap!) Do I have to research the cd-burning capabilities for my dvd drives?

          Oh why did I buy those 1,200 CD-Rs?

          Fortunately Gateway had some stupid recovery program that came with their computers, and I opened the shrink-wrap and found five CD-Rs I can use in the meanwhile. I must choose wisely. Ugh. It’s like collecting fancy pennies. Worthless, but you need several kinds. Okay sue me I’m not in the mood to think of a good analogy, you’ll just have to be happy with a bad one. I’d be surprised if anyone read this far. :)

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