trixtah: (Default)
So, here is my wee guide to letting us use the data plan we want after having purchased a USB modem - with actual money - but no longer wanting to use Telecom NZ's data services. I feel that if I've bought the hardware, I should be able to do what I like with it.

This describes setting up a connection to 2degrees Mobile Broadband in NZ, using Telecom GPRS USB modem (ZTE is the hardware brand) on a Windows 7 computer. You will probably need to run the following with Administrator rights on the PC.

Read more... )


Sep. 27th, 2011 12:07 am
trixtah: (Default)
As a social networking option, it's starting to get mature enough that I'm thinking about investigating it. I know some people have already joined up some pods, but if I made a pod of my own, would anyone else be interested in using it?

I'd be hosting it on my US-based hosting site, so it would be subject to their laws and whatnot, but not being commercial, it wouldn't have the problems that offerings like FB, LJ and G+ do in terms of satisfying advertisers. Also, being hosted means I can have a reasonably high uptime once I get it up and running.
trixtah: (lulz)
Utterly unbelievable, but bloody hilarious:

But at least I'm "smart" and "rich". Unlike certain support staff, evidently.

ETA: Appropriate lol WIN

trixtah: (Default)
I'm eagerly anticipating my Windows 7 upgrade disk - after no less than 16 emails to Dell, I might even get upgraded to the right version now - but I don't know whether it does an upgrade upgrade, or if it wipes the current image and puts in a new Windows 7 one. I doubt it does, but one of the things about doing a significant OS change or hardware switch is having to install everything from scratch. With that in mind, I wish I had heard of this site a few weeks ago, when I got my new lappie:

It's a site that has a whole pile of free software available, and you click to select the ones you want, it packages them all up, and you run a single install of all that software!

So for me, on a Windows machine, I always install Avast, Paint.NET, Audacity, Foxit, Firefox, VLC, uTorrent, 7-Zip, Notepad++, FileZilla and Putty. Those are all on that site, plus tons more, such as OpenOffice, GIMP, Skype, etc. The only thing that isn't there that I always use is Foobar2000. I'll definitely give it a spin the next time I need to configure a machine from scratch.

trixtah: (boom)
(following on from yesterday)


Fuck YOU )
trixtah: (Default)
     to ANZ_cc_cust_service.,, AAA Techie. 19:19 (3 minutes ago)

Dear all:

I'm afraid I'm getting quite dissatisfied with what is going on here.

Here is the issue:

I purchased a laptop with the service tag 5XD???? on the 18th of August and got it at time specifically as I would be able to conveniently upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released. As part of the purchase, I upgraded from Windows Vista Business Edition to Windows Vista Premium Edition. I expected to be able to receive the Windows 7 Premium Edition upgrade.

1. Logged onto to register for the upgrade. Found that my machine is registered with having Business Edition and is therefore only eligible for the Windows 7 Professional upgrade.

...moan, grizzle )

Dear Dell

Aug. 21st, 2009 10:07 pm
trixtah: (boom)
I broke my vow, drunk the Kool-Aid, and ordered a very spunky new Studio XPS from your website. It has an excellent spec (1GB graphics, 4GB RAM, 64-bit OS freely upgradeable to Windows 7 (of course, I'll be dual-booting Linux), back-lit LED HD screen, and Blu-Ray), gets great reviews, and is pretty damn good value for money. After all my previous experience with Dell, personal and professional, I compromised myself to order from you (but I still won't buy a desktop or server from you!1!).

But this is all I see on your website now, day after day after day:
We have received your order. It may take up to 3 business days for your estimated delivery date to be available. Please check this page again to view your estimated delivery date. 

It's been 6 days since I ordered!!! FIVE business days!! I give it all up for you, and you scorn my sacrifice. I feel taken advantage of, used and abandoned. The little greyed-out delivery status icons that step through "Work in Progress", "Manufacturing Build Complete", "Shipping", "Arrive in Australia", "With Carrier", "Delivered" are just there to tantalise me. Woe!


No love,


P.S. Dear libido, you can fuck the fuck off as well right now. I'm not in the mood.

trixtah: (Default)
I've been meaning to do a post for ages about the great freeware software that's around, and here it is, finally. It's for Windows software only, for which I make no apology. Apple is not exactly across the free software paradigm (unless you dig into the BSD underpinnings), and naturally they provide a lot of functionality out of the box (especially for handling media). For Linux, well, duh.
  1. This is a no-brainer: Firefox. Now, the browser is good, and 3.5 is shaping up well with its new Javascript engine, and CSS support. However, pretty much any modern browser does a decent job these days; even IE has tabbed browsing. No, the killer app with Firefox is its extensibility. IE is a joke, and Opera's addins are total crap. So in that respect, there are three things that really make it for me for Firefox:
    1. Gmail Manager (although that's not working in FF 3.5 yet, unless you cheat). Being able to automatically check and directly login to multiple Gmail accounts is total win.
    2. Adblock Plus. Need I say more? I was recently party to a discussion about the ad overload on Facebook - erm, I hadn't ever seen any, except from those spammy "applications" that go around (ok, a few of those are fun. Not the ones that are advertising and nothing else).
    3. Zotero. [personal profile] cheshire put me onto this citation management tool, and it is total WIN. The ability to nab citations from the uni library Webpac, Google Scholar, online databases of any description, and even Amazon is fantastic. Add the ability to fully index text-based PDFs, archive and index web pages, tagging, notes, page snapshots... OMG, it's love. Really, best software I've used for ages. And that's not mentioning the nifty part where you can insert your references correctly formatted in pretty much any style into your documents. Nor the fact you can register on their site, synch your citations (although not any attachments) to the site entirely for free, and be able to access them from anywhere with an Internet connection and Firefox. Holy shit.
  2. Paint.NET. If you're still using MS Paint for anything or playing stupid amounts of money for things like cut-down versions of Photoshop, when all you want to do is tweak some photos, adjust colour levels, and clean them up a bit, or do some drawing, put what you're using down and get Paint.NET. As it says on the tin, you need the .NET framework on your machine, but if you're running XP and up, you should have that anyway. It has a number of drawing and image tweaking controls in an OMG EASY interface. It does layers. And you can download plugins to extend functionality, like more image adjustment features, or importing RAW files, or any number of things. It's powerful, and much more intuitive to use than Photoshop and especially GIMP.
  3. Foobar2000 is an excellent music player. It plays just about any music file format you can think of, but the most powerful feature is an excellent tagging function. It's a bit barebones when you first install it, but you can download plugins to add more display feaures, and support things like iPods, as well as skins to make it look prettier. It interfaces with, so it will scrobble the tracks you play, and stream radio stations. It will rip CDs beautifully, filling in the track info from FreeDB. The only slight "difficulty" is that you need to download the encoder for each file type you want to rip to. That's it. It's also completely portable. You can stick it on a USB key and take it anywhere.
  4. Notepad++. A really excellent Notepad replacement. It has tabs, will reopen files that were open when you closed the product, and it has syntax highlighting for just about any programming language you care to use. But the best thing for me is its really powerful search-and-replace functionality. It will even do regular expression search and replacing.
  5. VLC and/or Miro. VLC is a free media player, which will play pretty much any video or audio format with no need to download codecs. While the basic interface is basic, there are some nice skins you can install to pretty things up. For Firefox users, there's a VLC plugin that will allow all manner of media to be played inside Firefox - you select to install the plugin when you install the product. Miro is a product that builds on VLC, by using RSS and Bittorrent to create a media subscription service that runs really well. You can subscribe to podcasts, video blogs, and other media feeds, and they just show up in the player when a new one is ready. You can also use it just as a media player instead of VLC.
  6. Audacity is a fantastic audio editing application which will output into any number of file formats (again, you have to get any encoders that you want to use, although WAV is a default). Want to nab a rare track from YouTube? Play it on your PC while you've got Audacity set to "record". Trim the rubbish from the beginning and the end (drag-select > DEL), select your export format, done. And, hey, Mac and Linux users are catered for as well (although the Linux interface was horrible; don't know if it's improved recently).
  7. 7-zip is an excellent zipping tool, which is completely free, will fit on a floppy disk, if you actually have any, and unzips just about any format you can think of, including ZIP, GZIP, BZIP, TAR (and will zip those too, and its own special .7z format), as well as RAR (yay! I hate hate hate WINRAR), CHM, CAB, ... (it won't encode those latter ones though). It integrates with Windows Explorer, so if you want unzip a file, you right-click on it and select "extract" (there are a few options to choose from). Zipping files is the same, in reverse. There's a command-line interface that you don't have to pay for (boo Winzip).
  8. µTorrent. The best Windows bittorrent client, if you're not using it already. The most similar product on Linux is KTorrent.
  9. Avast Home Edition. A very good virus scanner, completely free, and not prone to support/licencing weirdness like AVG has been of late. You register on the site, and you get updates and automatic signature file updates.
  10. Foxit PDF reader. I hate Acrobat. Bloat bloat bloat. Foxit has a good search function, does notes, highlighting, comments, bookmarks, the works, and doesn't try to jam crap onto your system.
  11. Super © is a good video encoder and transcoder (for example, converting MPEGs to AVI, or shrinking a file size, etc). While the documentation on using it is horrible, it's as simple as select your options, drag and drop the file into the file box, and hit Go.
Now, the only thing I am really feeling the lack of in Windows freeware is a good video ripping/editing tool. There are some, but they are pigs to use.
trixtah: (Default)
One of the drawbacks about living in the antipodes is the ridiculous price of books here. Also, some books are simply not available, unless ordered at great extra expense, and shipping via Amazon is horribly expensive.

I've found a couple of excellent sites that provide good alternatives. One is Better World Books, which is a charity promoting literacy around the world. They sell both new and used books, they ship worldwide for less than $US4, and for free in the US, AND they do carbon offsets of any shipping they do.

Another is Book Depository, which is a UK-based company (yay for UK English editions! - I've been gritting my teeth about buying hard-to-find Diana Wynne Jones books from Amazon, and now I won't have to buy the Scholastic editions) that ships worldwide for free. Neither of these organisations ship super-fast airmail, but who cares? It sometimes takes me two weeks to get things sent from Sydney, and I've received things sent surface mail from the US in less than a week.

Now, the extra-bonus search engine, from an Australian perspective - and I think for kiwis as well, since prices for shipping to Oz or NZ from the UK and the US are pretty similar - is a metasearch engine,, which accumulates both the list price and shipping price from a number of sites, including locally-based (including the Melbourne Uni bookshop?) and overseas. So, The Vorkosigan Companion, which costs $AU48 from Collins Australia, and $36 including shipping from Amazon, can be ordered from Book Depository (ie. via the UK) for $30 bucks total. 20% off the Amazon price. I got Yes Means Yes from Amazon last month for over 30 bucks, when I could have gotten it from Better World for under $27 (that one is particularly irritating - 10% off and helping a worthy charity).

Even if you don't want to open accounts with a number of vendors, you can still use the booko search engine, and just select from the vendors you're happy to do business with. I've got BWB and BD accounts underway as we speak. Booko does DVD searches as well, and they have a listing for the Collector's Edition of When Night Is Falling - gah, I only bought the original DVD (and I'm still not sure if the Region 4 copy I have was derived from the cut US version, or from the "unrated" Canadian one) a couple of years back - which has the Amazon price only $2 more expensive than the cheapest offering - hardly worth creating another account for that.

trixtah: (Default)
Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

some inspiration )

You can find out about Grace Hopper, the first woman to write a computer language compiler, and the first to promote programming using English words, here. Funny that Augusta Ada was the first to write a computer algorithm - the logic and language parts of the computing equation more so than the actual mechanics.

One day, I hope to see a scene like the above one myself. A room full of women, learning, talking about and building technology. It hasn't happened to me yet - I tend to have to put up with scenes like these, where the women are typically outnumbered 5-to-1.

So here's to the young women who are not believing the crap that IT is solely about sitting around building or programming widgets (although it's about that too, for the more engineering-minded), but it's the glue that holds modern communications, information processing and knowledge management (if that's not too hackneyed a term) together. Knowledge - knowing where to find it and where to apply it - is power.


Mar. 16th, 2009 11:44 pm
trixtah: (Default)
Well, it must be said that I've had better support interactions with Microsoft in the past. Before anyone feels tempted to laugh derisively, Microsoft professional support is usually pretty damn excellent. It's better than Red Hat support, which we don't pay very much less through the nose for.

We've had a problem with our mail server transaction logs filling up the space that normally lasts 5 days in less than 2 hours. Once the transaction log disks get full, the mail databases get dismounted. It happened twice on Friday, and then again this evening. On Friday, I contacted MS support, they got back to me with an engineer in about 10 minutes, we ran through the general stuff, and I supplied some examples (actually hundreds) of the problem logs. Things were working fine after the second occasion, so I downgraded the alert to "urgent" and we had a quiet weekend. I expected them to find some kind of cause for the logs filling up so quickly.

Cut to today, when the engineer tells me that they couldn't find anything particularly odd about the logs we'd provided. This was strange, since we had inspected a number of them ourselves on Friday, and found that each and every one of the 10s of gigs of problem logs that we looked at was making reference to one particular user's mailbox. We thought that his Outlook might have been causing issues, so one of the things we did on Friday afternoon was take him offline. I pointed this out to the engineer, and he goes away and comes back with "...Oh, yes, that is odd that it's full of all one user's transactions" ! So I really don't know what he was doing with our logs before then.

Anyway, it happened again tonight, and the "bad" user was emailing (and references to him were filling the logs). We had disabled the Outlook setting that we thought might have been causing the problem. I moved his mailbox to a new area where he had his own private database and own set of transaction logs, so if it causes problems again, it won't stop mail for the other 1000+ users. I then had the bright idea of inspecting his mailbox, and found a message sitting at the top level of the folder tree - that is, outside of the Inbox, Sent Items and all the other folders. Exchange mailboxes are not designed to hold messages outside subfolders! I moved the message back to a sensible place, and perhaps the "corrupt" mailbox was causing the problem. I've seen people inadvertently drag-and-drop messages to this location before, so maybe that's what triggered the whole thing.

So I'll see if Microsoft can actually confirm that possibility tomorrow. Hm. I would like to know that we've actually "fixed" the problem, and also have a reasonable idea of where to look first if we encounter this kind of thing again. And how it might be prevented, if possible (for example, they could fix Outlook so that those potential drag-and-drops to the wrong place can't happen).

trixtah: (Default)
Cloud-computing is the buzzword du jour, and refers to services that host applications and data that are accessible by way of the Internet. Zoho/GoogleDocs, Microsoft Hosted Services and plenty of others are examples of these.

It's new assignment time - Reading Review: Are Leaders Smarter or Do They Just Seem That Way? - and, gah, I can't finish it off. I've been using an online service that is subscribed to by the university for my references, RefWorks. It's great, because you fill in these little forms for all the data, you can add notes and tags and whatever, you insert little macros in your doc and upload it (this works for all kinds of document formats, or you can install a Word add-in), and the product formats both the inline references (ick) and reference list perfectly... and the references are available wherever you are. In theory. Alas, I can't logon to the site today. From a non-university machine, you logon to the uni web proxy which then forwards the connection to Refworks, where you logon there. No dice. I tried from one of the university's machines subsequently, but no luck there either. This is the second time I've had trouble with this, meh.

So maybe one day we will be able to guarantee connectivity, security - and more importantly, responsive support - of applications and data hosted in the cloud, but that day hasn't happened yet. And if you're a money-making organisation, and/or one that needs to be able to respond quickly to clients, then you shouldn't rely on these services either (unless you're tiny). Part of the problem with these services is that the support can be dicey. RefWorks are yet to respond to any of my emails (I'll be chatting to the uni library tomorrow if it's still a problem); organisations like Google can be less than responsive. In an enterprise context, unless it's entirely shambolic, you'll at least have people you can talk to about the problems you're having, and you should also get a reasonable ETA of when they'll be fixed.

Anyway, moving onto the current events of the world, [ profile] cheshire_bitten expresses perfectly just what I've been thinking about the Catholic Church this past week.

trixtah: (Default)
How not to get phished

If you ever get an email purporting to be from your bank, or credit card company, or tax office, or Great Aunt Bessie who wants to know your credit card number or bank account details for some arcane reason, for god's sake, do not, even if it has all the logos and your name or anything, click on any links.

Simple. Here endeth the lesson.

But what if you're worried that your bank/credit card issuer/tax office/great aunt is genuinely trying to contact you about an urgent matter? Ok, open your browser, and type in your bank website address. If you don't know your bank website address, then you obviously haven't used online banking, so don't bother. Once you're on your bank website address, look for the account logon link, which should take you to a page with https: at the start of the address and a cute little golden lock icon on the bottom right of the browser window, or perhaps in the address bar. Somewhere. Then you can logon and see if your bank has actually been trying to get hold of you.

If it's Great Aunt Bessie, for chrissakes, give the old dear a ring. The phone is still a mighty handy instrument for banks/credit card companies/all of the above as well. Don't click the links!

That goes pretty much for any email message that contains links where the content is not obvious or trusted - you can hover over the link to see where it is intending to take you. If you're still unsure, you can type in the address from the "http://" up to the next "/" to check if the top level site is anything recognisable. Even that could be slightly risky, though.

On a slight change of topic, well, it's no wonder the govt in NZ doesn't give a shit about women's wages. Incriminating pictures from a "Job Summit" held by the govt to discuss employment during the current recession tell the story. Yep, white middle-aged men. Apparently 15% of the participants were actually women. 20 Maori, 2 PI men and one Asian guy. 60% from business, a big swodge from government (central and local), and a whole 3 people from community organisations. Ok, most employers are going to be men (gah!), but you can't tell me that 85% of civil servants and pollies are male. So much for quaint notions of representation.
trixtah: (Default)
...especially when you still don't know what caused the Exchange server with the greatest amount of users (ie. the Canberra one) to hang. No serious errors in the error log, and yet it took 40 minutes to reboot. Hmmmmmmmm.

I know, it's because I gave the go-ahead yesterday to have our test environment built so we can prepare for our upgrade to the next version. It knows its days are numbered. Muahahahaha!

trixtah: (Default)
As mentioned to [ profile] faxon : (complete with entry appropriate for those who need to use it)

And the tried and true

trixtah: (Default)
This Graphjam demonstrates perfectly the relative advantages and disadvantages of the main operating system types.

Read more... )
trixtah: (Default)
I'm just taking Mandriva Linux for a run, and it's going quite nicely at present. I use the KDE desktop by preference, and it certainly has a more nicely-integrated KDE 4.1 experience than Ubuntu. Configuring my wireless LAN was a matter of click->select network->enter password. The new wireless LAN manager seems a lot less flaky than the old one (not that I had  major problems with the old one per se, but about 5% of the time it didn't launch during startup, and I'd have to log out and in again).

The only drawback I can see is the file explorer is buried waaaay down the menus (in Tools -> System Tools -> Dolphin File Manager), nor is there a menu shortcut to the Home directory in toolbar or on the desktop. Ok, I know how to do Alt-F2 (or select "Run Command" in the start menu) and type in "dolphin", but it'd be a PITA if you were a new user. Adding a new shortcut to the home folder should be straightforward, once I install it.

I do like the fact you can open a console from anywhere in the filesystem just by right-clicking. There's also a nice "configure your computer" dashboard for doing those configuration tasks. All the KDE apps l like, Amarok for music, Ktorrent for bittorrent, as well as the OpenOffice suite and GIMP, are installed by default. The sortware installer tool is easy to find and nicely laid out. Lots of games! (freeware/opensource ones, but still a good collection). Fonts configuration is easy, and there is even an "install Windows fonts" button right in the fonts dialogue window (this is useful if you're going to run Windows applications using Wine, or even use some web/flash controls).

Compiz 3D effects are running nicely as well. No need for your ridiculous graphics cards *cough*Vista*cough* unless you're intending to play Farcry (in which case you'd be using your Windows box anyway). I only have a poxy Toshiba M3 laptop with the built-in Nvidia card. It seems that Mandriva have used a better driver there as well (although I believe Nvidia have finally realised that Linux is not going away, and are more friendly with driver releases). Again, not that I had a problem with the Ubuntu version, but this seems more functional. The trackpad driver seems a lot better too.

I'm going to install it and blow away my Ubuntu install. If you're currently an Ubuntu KDE user, it's certainly well worth a look in comparision.

trixtah: (techie)
See, there's a reason I'm a techie - I figured out the problem that I was having with my course enrolment yesterday.

One of the questions was

8. Where was your permanent home residence during Year 12? <input ... >

Now, I fairly naturally stuck in "NZ" - the above is the entirely of the question. There was no cute dropdown, nor specification to enter an Australian postal code. If you look at the HTML for the input box name, it is "p_commencing_location". Aha! And the max_size for the field was 5 characters. So I nabbed the 4-digit code for NZ that had popped up after an earlier dropdown selection, and stuck that in, and OMG, it worked. It would have been really tough shit if my permanent home residence in Year 12 had been a different country to my final year of school, which is not necessarily the same in NZ (we go up to 7th Form, which is Year 13).

I'll now drop their webmaster a note advising them of the trouble with the form. Student Records - or whatever they're called - haven't got back to me yet after my messaging them yesterday.

trixtah: (Default)
...for the stonking big expensive piece of testing software we are about to purchase.

If you're in a phone conference with me and my boss, and I explain which platform we intend to use, it is really stupid saying that you're not sure how supportable the Linux version is, because you haven't installed it before yourself and actually everyone in Australia is using the Windows version. It was quite hilarious watching your sales guy in the same room as us cringe mightily, but didn't really give us the best impression. I'm also quite sure that your huge multinational hardware/software vendor firm would be interested in your view of its supportability on one of the platforms they explicitly say they support.

Might I also suggest that any implementation problems you've encountered might be more to do with people trying to shoehorn tomcat/Jboss onto Windows systems? Ok, it runs ok, but not as nicely as on *nix systems (in my experience, at least, not surprisingly because Jboss is owned by the largest Linux distributor¹). In other words, don't argue with the customer, unless you have actual grounds to do so. Hopefully you'll actually have time to read the Linux installation documentation supplied, oh, by your organisation, before turning up to do it.

¹If you look at the Jboss wiki, guess what? 2 out of 34 are running the server component on Windows. This might indicate something.


trixtah: (Default)

January 2016

2425 2627282930


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags