nullstream weblog - February 2007

Nerd Power Ups


February 26, 2007 12:53 AM PST

Even though I've been using computers for longer than I haven't, there are always shortcuts and cool, but unknown features, in the ever increasing amount of software that I come to depend on. Here are some of the tips and tricks that John, J and I have picked up over the years.

Please add yours!

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XP, 2G of Ram and Hibernate


February 23, 2007 09:04 AM PST

I'm a big fan of Window's hibernate feature. I don't power off my computers I hibernate them. They shutdown quickly and they boot back up quickly - and bring me right back to where I left off. And unlike standby mode (sleep mode to you Mac users), I can leave my computer in this state for days, weeks, months... you get the idea.

Since I upgraded my Laptop to 2G ram (in prep for Vista) however, hibernate has been, well, pretty unreliable. Many times I try to hibernate it either wigs out and drops to standby or gives me an "Insufficient System Resources Exist to Complete this API" error. I though maybe it was something wrong with my Laptop configuration. But I saw the same thing on my desktop when I upgraded it to 2G. Turns out it is a 'known' bug in XP. Well, 'known' isn't the word I would use. I certainly didn't know about it. Anyhow the fix can be found on microsoft's download site here.

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ESR rants on Fedora


February 21, 2007 11:59 AM PST

This ESR letter is pretty good. He basically covers my biggest frustration with Linux over the last decade. All of my distribution experience has basically ended up the same way: hours and hours of dependency chasing to try and install a single package. It usually ends with me either giving up or hosing my system to the point that lots of other things stop working. It is interesting though that most of my serious Linux attempts were derivatives of Redhat / Fedora. I also echo his experience with Ubuntu. In my few hours of playing with Ubuntu and Kubuntu 6.10 I have been pretty impressed with the package install / updating process. Could it be that someone will finally figure this out? Only time will tell.

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My Next Car


February 17, 2007 01:07 AM PST

Because, I'm sure that you've always wanted to know, here it is:


At least it's realistic: it's got a can.

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Music Software


February 13, 2007 01:40 AM PST

One of the original reasons that I justified buying a PC back in 1996 on my tiny grad student research grant was the prospect of turning it into a recording studio where all the effects and synthesizers were software and storage was digital: lossless copies and no bouncing tracks around on 4 track tape recorder. No more racks of expensive dedicated gear that you'd have to lug around and best of all, no wires, power cords, MIDI cables, or patch cords. U2 had even talked about releasing one of their then upcoming albums with raw instrument tracks for fans to remix, which sounded too cool. That never happened, but it would have been fun to mash up Edge's guitar tracks:

"Bono always messes with my settings"

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Intervention Required


February 9, 2007 11:53 PM PST


After having so much fun playing games over the internet in co-op or mayhem mode, I'm getting seriously tempted to join an MMORPG like World Of Warcraft or EVE-Online. Please tell me why I shouldn't.


I like the idea of persistent worlds, where the "twitch factor" is minimized and there is a large universe to explore.

The economics of these games are quite different, but if you look at it as more of a social experience where one night's gaming equals one night out for beers with your friends, the monthly fee is actually quite cheap: $13 per month for WoW, versus $5 per pint, with a usual 3-4 pints on a normal night out. This article has an interesting analogy comparing the social aspects of MMORPGs to the sports enthusiasts.

I wonder if World Of Warcraft is worth it at this point, as it's been out since 2004 and everyone has leveled up...

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Something Cool

February 9, 2007 08:22 PM PST

Back in my startup days my office mates and I had a tradition we called 'something cool'. When someone would come into our office that we hadn't seen for a while we would usually end our conversation by saying "hey, want to see something cool?" We would then proceed to show them something we hoped they didn't already know. These would usually be something like a new Windows or Linux trick, a new cool utility or macro or even a new web site we discovered. It was our way of 'sharing the wealth'

In the spirit of 'something cool'...
Meet MetaVnc.


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Oh, come on


February 9, 2007 08:13 PM PST

Virtualization Illegal?
Specifically Parallels, won't release a version that can run OSX under virtualization because they don't want their users to do anything illegal, or to open them up to legal issues. VMWare is wrestling with the same moral issue. Apparently Apple's ELUA specifically forbids virtualization.

I was just talking about this very thing yesterday. I know Apple is worried about running OSX on non Apple, hardware, but why not just work with them to make sure it doesn't? How cool (or ironic depending on your point of view) would it be to run OSX in a VM under Windows on Mac hardware? In fact I think if Parallels could work it so that they can virtualize either way while accessing your native partition, it would be good for their business and Apples.

Oh and if you want a laugh, read the last couple of sentences of that article where they speculate if it is even technically possible to run OSX under virtualization. Are they serious? Just search a few torrent sites guys, people have been running it under VMWare on non Apple hardware since the first Intel developer version came out! I guess I expect too much from ARS.

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New Remote Desktop Client


February 7, 2007 12:13 AM PST

Now that Vista is released Microsoft made the new Remote Desktop Client available for XP. This version is 6.0 and is basically the same client that ships with Vista. The killer feature for me is the /span monitors option. It allows you to create a remote desktop session that will fill two monitors. Note that the monitors need to have the same vertical resolution for this to be effective. Also they need to be oriented side by side. You do not need to have multiple monitors at the remote (server) end - just the client.

This one feature has been a real productivity booster for me. I have been using versions ripped from various Vista builds for over a year now, and can't live without it.

There are some other neat features in there as well, but most are limited for use with Vista as the server. These include 32bit color, font smoothing, and desktop composition. Oh, and by Vista I apparently mean Vista ultimate, since for some sick reason MS marketing yanked remote desktop support from Vista premium.

You can get the new client from windows update (if it hasn't already been pushed to you by now.)

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