nullstream weblog - December 2004

Don't read this


December 31, 2004 10:59 PM PST

This is a long link, and once you start, you won't stop. Oh sure, once you get 25% through, you'll go get a coke, but you'll come back and stay 'til the end:

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PocketIE Saved Passwords

Mobile Tech

December 31, 2004 05:01 PM PST

I was accessing my companies mobile email site from my pocket PC like I've been doing for weeks now, and I finally got tired of re-entering my user name and password on the network login screen. So I thought I'd be clever and click the little check box that says 'save password'. As I sometimes do, I made a typo in my password and got an error message about invalide username / password etc. Oh well, no problem right, just refresh the page and enter it again... Doh! Same message.

Continue reading "PocketIE Saved Passwords"...

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Going Walkabout

December 31, 2004 12:36 PM PST

Sometimes I feel a bit cooped up in my office. Of course it doesnít help that it is extremely small, I share it one someone else, it contains 7 noisy computers, and itís about 90 degrees F in there. At any rate occasionally I find that I need a change of scenery. In these cases I find that the combination of a wifi laptop and remote desktop client comes in handy. I can just pickup and move to somewhere else within range.

Continue reading "Going Walkabout"...

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Cheap iMac Rumor

Cool Tech

December 29, 2004 03:36 PM PST

G4 Cube George says:

Think the headless imac rumor is real or some mac fanboy's wet dream? I want to believe and I would buy one if they really turn out to be $500 but it probably won't come to pass as it makes too much sense. For $500, I'd buy one for my inlaws also just to get out of providing IT support for an adware infested Windows 98 box."
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The Future Is Now

Cool Tech

December 26, 2004 11:37 PM PST

Back in the day of working at GoAhead, John and I were trying to find a way to have tasty food at lunch without paying a huge amount of money or getting bored of eating the same thing. Enter TastyBite.

Continue reading "The Future Is Now"...

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ExtremeTech Reviews Sage

Cool Tech

December 24, 2004 02:43 AM PST

SageTV is a popular PC based Tivo competitor. Now it is taking on Windows media player. ExtremeTech puts it through its paces here.
Sage is a favorite of several of our readers. Its strongest features in my opinion, are that you don't have a monthly fee and that your TV is stored in easy to archive, DRM free Mpeg2 format. There are lessons here for both Tivo and Microsoft.

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Firefox tweaks

Cool Tech

December 24, 2004 01:16 AM PST

Ever want to download more than 2 files at a time, but IE won't let you? Use Firefox! Type about:config in Firefox's address bar and adjust the following variable (by double-clicking on it) to something that makes you happy:


I set mine to 8, but I hear it can go to 11.

I also noticed that the default settings of Firefox don't always get the freshest page. I had to 'ctrl-R' to get the latest page from a site occasionally, especially frequently updated blogs. The following tweak always gets the freshest page:

browser.cache.check_doc_frequency = 1

This variable can take the following values:

0 = check once per session
1 = check each time
2 = never check
3 = work out when to check from the info provided by the server.

Note that 3 is the default - anything higher than 3 is the same as 3, whatever the heck 'work out' means.

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December 23, 2004 06:46 PM PST

Yeah I know there are a zillion notepad replacements, but I've really found this one handly lately: Notepad2. It is lightweight, does color syntax highlighting for many formats including xml, has regular expressions, bookmarks and a bunch of other cool stuff. And yes Paul, it remembers its window position and size between runs.

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Christmas Song


December 22, 2004 11:24 PM PST

iTunes Icon
(removed because of direct linking)
Christmas Song
Live Feb. 18, 1997
Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
6.45 MB mp3
First post of an occasional feature here - Audioblog. Around Christmas time I always think of this song. Whether or not you celebrate or what you believe, it to me is one of the best descriptions of the basis of Christianity and the message of Jesus that gets lost in both the doctrine of religion and the commercialization of the holiday. My Christmas wish is for people to see past their religion to the core of what each of the prophets convey - it's a simple feeling that we've all shared and should live life by.
Continue reading "Christmas Song"...

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Land of Smiles


December 20, 2004 02:08 AM PST

Thailand is truly the land of smiles. It is so refreshing to travel in a place with virtually a complete lack of xenophobia. Thailand is the #1 country for repeat tourism and it is not hard to see why. From the beautiful beaches and countryside to the temples and food and people, Thailand is the best place to become acquainted with Asia.

Fun fact: It's a recent fad among Thai teenagers to wear fake braces. They're kind of like jewelery for the teeth, given the cost of orthodontics for the average Thai family.

"He who has understanding and great wisdom does not think of harming himself or another, nor of harming both alike. He rather thinks of his own welfare, of that of others, of that of both, and of the welfare of the whole world. In that way one shows understanding and great wisdom.Ē - Buddha

Continue reading "Land of Smiles"...

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December 18, 2004 04:30 PM PST

So in the process of setting up a new PocketPC I realized that I could not find my install or registration information for old CHM Reader 2.0. CHM files are compiled HTML help files used by various Windows apps etc. Many of Microsofts technical books used to come with the entire book on CD in this format. I have used this program off and on to read CHM files on my PocketPcs in the past. The program was slow and wouldn't handle large CHM files but was the only real solution at the time...

Continue reading "CHMReader.Net"...

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Bye bye Yahoo Money Manager


December 17, 2004 11:19 AM PST

I tried to log into Finance section today to check on my stocks and got this:

"Service Announcement
We regret to notify you that we are closing Yahoo! Money Manager, effective February 1, 2005..."

I'm not surprised as the service stopped pulling updates automatically from my accounts about two weeks ago. I am disapointed though. By dropping yahoo finance I no longer have a reason to make my home page and main portal. I guess it's finally time to move to my.msn. Sigh. I've used them for a long time and I admit to a sort of nostalgic attachment. By this time next year I predict we'll be yodeling a different tune: "Ya-Who?-ooooooo".

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HP4705 + Betaplayer = Portable Media Madness


December 15, 2004 12:06 AM PST

Ok the HP hx4705 pocketPc isn't exactly cheap, but it has some pretty impressive video specs: 4" True VGA screen powered by an ATI Imageon graphics chip. I decided to try and figure out what this hardware combination could really achieve in the mobile video department...

Now I've tried playing video on my pocketPc's before. It made for a pretty impressive demo on my original Ipaq, and I've done a little bit on my Dell Axim x5, but overall these machines didn't really have the horsepower to do anything fancy. If you wanted to get video to work you needed to encode your sources down to a very low resolution with a low framerate. That was a lot of work for not so impressive results. Boy how things change.

Continue reading "HP4705 + Betaplayer = Portable Media Madness"...

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Suck It Down, Blockbuster!


December 14, 2004 10:37 PM PST

Blockbuster is going to drop late fees so that they can compete with Netflix. This move will cost them around $300 million US each year.

Now for a local take...

When I lived in Bellevue, I used to go to the Blockbuster across from the Wendy's right near GoAhead. Very convenient. But it sure felt like there was a late fee scam going on. It seemed that every single time I went there, someone in line ahead of me was being charged late fees. Most people feign a bit of indignance, then cough up the dough because there is usually a long line and they don't want to embarrass themselves arguing over over a few bucks. The system is designed to use social pressure and people's general discomfort of arguing to charge them an additional few dollars.

But this happened so often that I suspect that there was something else going on. So I made sure to never ever return movies late to see what would happen. Eventually, while renting a movie, I got the tap: "You have unpaid late fees..."

Continue reading "Suck It Down, Blockbuster!"...

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Asus Wlan HD Box

Cool Tech

December 13, 2004 08:58 PM PST

box.jpgI bumped into a comment about this over at FurryGoat. What could be cooler than a hard drive enclosure that you just plug into your LAN to serve out files? Try one that doesn't need to be plugged in at all! The new enclosure from from Asus has 802.11G in addition to ethernet. It has built in DHCP and FTP server support as well as NAS (Network Attached Storage) functionality. Just set one of these guys up in your house and serve out your media wirelessly. The downside, it only supports 2.5" hard drives. There is a review over at Tom's Networking. They also mention some interesting competition.

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December 9, 2004 12:38 PM PST

OneNote is a great program, but for me it is totally useless as it doesn't fit my use case. The OneNote guys were giving a big demo in my building this week. But as I talked to them I released what I had only previously suspect... their marketing guys just don't see the world the way I do. They still do not have plans for a pocketPc version or two way sync solution. They did mention some sort of smartphone client, but what use this would be I don't know. My guess is it would be read only. This looks like another hole waiting for a 3rd party to fill.

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Babylon 5 Movie

December 9, 2004 09:41 AM PST

I know this has been slashed, but mentioning it again here. Work starts in April for a new Babylon 5 Movie to be released in theaters. It sounds like the time frame of the movie puts it during the 'crusades' years and I doubt it will have any of the original cast.

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Automatic SpeechCasting


December 4, 2004 09:34 PM PST

Blogging is big. Thatís probably not accurate, blogging was big before it was called blogging, now itís huge. In many cases blogging allows people to play amateur journalist posting their commentary online for the masses to read. The latest twist in blogging takes it up a notch by allowing you to be your own radio talk show host. This recent phenomena is known as Ďpodcastingí. The short story is you record your precious audio content to MP3, upload it to your site and wrap it in RSS tags. Reader can then use various software to pull down your content and sync it to their Ipods, PocketPCs or other portable devices for listening on the go. It's becoming quite popular. You can read more about it at: You can find a directory of podcasts here: and here:
As interesting as this is, it is not the main focus of this post...

Continue reading "Automatic SpeechCasting"...

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Swiss Army Knife or Batman Utility Belt?

Cool Tech

December 3, 2004 12:55 PM PST



This is the dilemma facing a mobile devices loving geeks such as myself. As the number of doodads and gizmos I want to have handy at all times grows, I feel the strong desire to munge them together into one uber-device. There are others however who argue against such a device saying it would be jack of all trades and master of none Ė not to mention expensive. Excluding the craziness of being locked in to a cell service provider, I'm pretty sure I would be willing to live with any trade-offs in my quest for 'one device to rule them all'.
An example of such a convergence device would be: A pocketPC with tri-band phone, 4" Vga screen, wifi, Bluetooth, integrated 1.3Mb camera, 4G hard drive (for mp3s), GPS, dual card slots, fast processor, 128Mb RAM, a slide out thumb board and some bluetooth headphones. Of course no such device exists today.
On the other end of the spectrum someone could achieve this level of mobile functionality by carrying around a PocketPC, a snap-on thumboard, a Bluetooth enabled Cell phone, a mini-ipod, wired head phones, a hand held GPS, and a digital camera. You would need a bat belt to carry them all. Of course real mobile die-hards use a ScotteVest. I'm not sure I'm man-nerd enough to attract this kind of attention.

Your thoughts?

Continue reading "Swiss Army Knife or Batman Utility Belt?"...

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Geek stuff I canít live without.

Cool Tech

December 2, 2004 02:38 AM PST

Following Paulís excellent lead, I did some thinking of geek things I really enjoy. While I wouldnít classify these as brilliant pieces of coding per Paulís definition, they are high on my Ďpry it from my cold dead fingersí list.

XP Remote Desktop
This is by far my favorite feature of XP. I have tried quite possibly every windows remote control product that has come along since windows 3.0 in my holy quest to be able to work efficiently from home. Here are just a few I can remember off the top of my head: Remotely Possible, PC Anywhere, LapLink, Radmin, Netmeeting, numerous flavors of VNC. Nothing can compare to having highly tuned code right in the OS. Now granted bandwidth has radically improved since my first attempts caused me to upgrade my modems to 14.4k, but all things being equal this code blew away the competition. It has allowed me to put in numerous dog years of extra work (including the session I just finished) in without having to hang out at the office all night. My wife appreciates this.
The client code that backs up this service is far from elegant, but this is something I cannot live without. I travel on average between 1.5 and 2 hours a day in the car. Listening to audio books during this time has been a godsend. Now instead of nodding off a the wheel (which was a regular occurrence on the way home late at night during the Ďstartupí years), or fighting back road rage, I put my body into autopilot while I enjoy learning something new or a bit of fiction. It feels like Iíve reclaimed a Ďlostí part of my day. I know that many balk at the subscription fee, but I feel Iím getting every dollars worth. In fact at close to two hours a day, Iím currently spending more time listening to audio books than watching TV. And by choosing long books Iím getting more hours of entertainment for my dollar than I am with Netflix. Of course my driving situation is not the norm for everyone, and I am locked in for two books a month at a lower rate than new subscribers can get, but Iíd give up most of my other Ďfrillí services excluding power and internet access before Iíll let this one slip.

Iím a big fan here, no surprise. Iíve managed to integrate my PocketPC into most aspects of my life. Iím always on the prowl for new add-ons (hardware and software) to get more use out of it. Iím currently in the market for my next pocketPc which will be my 3rd (or fourth if you count that I have two original Ipaqs.) Iíve got some big plans and some new potential use cases in mind. But that is a topic for another day.

Not much to say here. Going wireless is true freedom and now that I've tasted it I won't be satisfied until I have wireless broadband access where every I am.

Oh and of course Xbox Live. I didn't really convert fully to consoles until this came out. :)

What geek items (hardware or software) really float your boat?

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New MSN Messenger Beta

December 2, 2004 02:08 AM PST

Looks like they are now doing a beta of MSN Messenger 7.0.
Here are the main new features quoted from the site:
"Winks: Express yourself with impact. Send animations with sound to really get some attention.
Drag and Drop Backgrounds: See an image you like? Drag it to your MSN Messenger window to set it as your background.
Set Status Before Logon: See who's online before others know you've logged in by setting your status! Subsequent logons can start you up in stealth mode."

Hmm, this doesn't seem significant enough to warrant a major version number, but maybe they have some more stuff in the queue for the final release.

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Half-Life2 Multiplayer

Cool Tech

December 1, 2004 10:09 AM PST

dm_lockdown.jpgWell all this whining about HL2 only being single player was for not. They just released the deathmatch multiplayer update via steam. The are even offering a map creating contest with a $5000 prize. Ahh I'm looking forward to some old school Half Life Mayhem. I hope they still have the blue gun and trip mines. OCModShop has a quick review with some screen shots. Warning their site is a bit slow right now.

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