Archive for September, 2007

it’s Talk like a Pirate Day, arrr!

“Once upon a time — on June 6, 1995, to be precise — we were playing racquetball, not well but gamely. It wasn’t our intention to become “the pirate guys.” Truth to tell, it wasn’t really our intention to become anything, except perhaps a tad thinner and healthier, and if you could see our photos, you’d know how THAT turned out. As we flailed away, we called out friendly encouragement to each other -“Damn, you bastard!” and “Oh, jeez, my hamstring!” for instance – as shots caromed away, unimpeded by our wildly swung rackets.

On this day, for reasons we still don’t quite understand, we started giving our encouragement in pirate slang. Mark suspects one of us might have been reaching for a low shot that, by pure chance, might have come off the wall at an unusually high rate of speed, and strained something best left unstrained. “Arrr!,” he might have said.

Who knows? It might have happened exactly that way.

Anyway, whoever let out the first “Arrr!” started something. One thing led to another. “That be a fine cannonade,” one said, to be followed by “Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!” and other such helpful phrases.

By the time our hour on the court was over, we realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. We decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day. “

Source: http://www.talklikeapirate.com/about.html

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free Racing Simulation to promote the new BMW M3

BMW just released a free racing sim for your Windows PC. It’s based on the same GMotor 2 Engine that poweres GTR 2 and RFactor.

m3challenge

Source: Downloadlink

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a replacement software for your UMTS/3G card…

With every UMTS/3G card comes a tool that tracks your connection information, your traffic and everything… and it looks like this for a Vodafone UMTS card:

That’s not even close to cute and well useable. So someone took the task and created this:

screenshot3

A small tool that is compatible with almost any available UMTS/3G hardware on earth and has these features:

tiny executable: 0.3 MB, very little CPU load

  • permanently displaying:
    • up- and download speed in kBytes/s, used data volume in kByte (with round option), used online time (with round option), mode of operation UMTS(3G)/GPRS, signal strength in percent and dBm, network name and cell id (if provided by pc card), homezone status
  • movable mini window with information display:
    • sitting on the task bar, at upper screen border, in front of the start button, as dynamic tray icon with gauges
  • warning when exceeding data volume or online time
  • optional beep output for signal strength,network change and cell change
  • manual or automatic selection of network and mode
  • optional warning when using not listet networks
  • determination of receivable networks
  • retrieve and charge prepaid credit
  • automatics:
    • start/terminate connections,start extern programs such as Browser or Ping, reconnect after errors/freezes, generate network entry, dynamic com port determination
  • adjustable connection error tolerance
  • connection test by “smart Ping”
  • SMS reception can be activated
  • PC remote-control by SMS
  • SMS transmission by batch job
  • logging of data volume and connection information
  • connection statistics as semigraphics
  • timer for program end or shutdown
  • deactivate graphics compression (some networks)
  • scriptable
  • service terminal for data card commands
  • shows data card netlocks
  • service log for data card control communication
  • for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/embedded

And the best of all is that this is a freeware tool. Unfortunately it’s not available for OSX.

Source: http://www.mwconn.com

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WLAN’s Labyrinth

So the Telekom finally managed to bring DSL to my home region. Immediately new stuff was bought to establish a WLAN-network inside the house. When I went home of course I wanted to add my laptop ( a Medion MD 41100, 4 years old) to the net to gain access. But after never having used the WLAN-functions before (yes, there are such people…) no one could know that this would end up in such tremendous trial and error.

The router was a Speedport W 900V and working. It took me about an hour to find the add-new-user-option in the router-menu. After filling in the MAC of my Intel PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 card and creating a new WLAN-connection I was ready to go but nothing happened (yet).

Speedport W 900V

From now I tried several ways to get it done:

1. Get your drivers updated

This was strongly recommended because my card didn’t know the WPA-coding yet, only the older WEP-standard. OK, done. Now I was able to type in some data required by the router. But still no connection.

2. Get your Windows updated

Somewhere I read that there is a support-patch for WPA by Microsoft. Downloaded and installed. Still no access.

3. Use the cards firmware

Intel programmed a software called Intel PROSet for doing some adjustments if needed and adding a new connection which I did. But again without any success.

Here an important thought crossed my mind: Maybe the card is deactivated (The problem had to be clearly somewhere in my laptop because I was using another one for researching in the Internet, so there was a WLAN available and it was working.).

Some clues:

PROSet-configuration (hardware deactivated)

Tray-icon (no network, no connection, transmitter OFF)

Good! So I narrowed down the problem. But how to activate the transmitter?

4. Try the Windows-network-configuration

Many options but nowhere the one I was looking for.

5. Try the firmware

Look above to the PROSet-configuration image: The option to activate the transmitter is simply disabled. Hmm…

6. Try the tray-icon

No, not here.

7. Check your BIOS

Yes, there is a WLAN-entry. But my Phoenix-BIOS has only two modes: card always deactivated on every start or card activated only if activated prior to the system shut-down. So no solution here.

8. Remove the card from your profile

Done and the same as before.

9. Deep-looking in windows

As you know there is a life under the desktop. Typing in %systemroot%\system32\services.msc brought up a nice menu about the systems local services. Here you look for network-connections as follows:

The way to start already has been “automatic”. OK.

10. Look for a hardware-button

Some of you might mention here that this could have happened much earlier: simply looking for an activation-button. And you are right, this button exists. However, pressing it changed nothing.

The solution:

The hardware-button proved to be a good hint. Next I checked the program for controlling the programmable buttons (EzSystem).

Hey, there is an option for WLAN. Activated and one system restart later it was like it was before: the card still deactivated. Then I checked out the directory of this EzSystem-Software.

wbutton.exe –> nothing happened

wirelesscontrol.exe –> peng! WLAN activated and access to the Internet.

Finally it worked. Let’s review it: Obviously you cannot activate WLAN neither through Windows nor the cards firmware; you need a third party’s software. This is (in my opinion) a very weird way.

So I guess that simply some links between components got lost and you have to re-engineer that. A hard task, especially if you have formatted the harddisc right after the purchase, do not knowing anything anymore about the original state and with the support disc hundreds of kilometers away.

Jens Heymann

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this is what Flip3d should have been…

Switcher is the name of the tool that is available since some months and if you ever used Flip3d in Windows Vista you maybe know what it means when I say: Switcher is the Flip3d that should have shipped with Vista.

There are several usability issues with Vistas built-in Flip3d, take a look:

feat_UX_09

First of all you just don’t see the content of the windows… then you don’t see their name… then… who came up with that layout?

Compare that to the UI of Switcher:

switcher-1984-1

Neat, isn’t it? Try it, love it.

Source: http://baostuff.spaces.live.com/default.aspx

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Windows Eventlog Client/Server Application to monitor your servers…

When I first saw a review of “Microsoft Windows Home Server” I was impressed by several features. One that I never thought about is that little icon on each Home Server client that shows you the overall status of your home network:

128073458_b451f2821f

This little icon can look like this, depending on the status:

128073457_f5531306fb

As you can see – it’ll give you a clean and fast status by telling you that everything is okay on your network or that anything needs your, maybe immediate, attention.

I am administrating round about 12 Windows servers and I always looked for a clean and easy to use tool to monitor them. So I came up with a plan: Build my own tool.

Since I am extensivly using Windows Communication Foundation in the last weeks I was intrigued to try it on that matter. So I built a WCF selfhosting service that makes the eventlog of the machine it is running on available. Then I built a small client that fits nicely in your tray. I am not quite done yet but it’s a good start.

vs_overview_eventlog

As you can see. There is the Host, running on the server and making all Eventlogs of this machine available. Then there is “SmallClient” – being exactly this: a small client for testing purposes only. And thirdly there’s the EventLogClient – giving you the full blown user interface…

This is how it looks when you add a server to the client:

eventlog_sources

And this is how it looks when you configure a filter:

eventlog_filters

I thought it would be nice to have this workflow:

  1. configure/add the server and select the eventlog that you want to monitor
  2. create and configure a filter that is matched upon the particular eventlog source

For the icons (see above) I used one of the icons from the Tango Icon Gallery as a starting point and added some color and stuff.

So why do I even talk about all this? I want YOU to take the code and use it…add more functionality…I am releasing the code(except the icons) under the BSD license. So you can do almost whatever you want with it – but I would love to hear about the things you’re doing with my code and idea.

You can download the sourcecode of my little project here. (200 Kbytes)

Source 1: Home Server Homepage
Source 2: http://tango.freedesktop.org/Tango_Icon_Gallery
Source 3: Sourcecode.

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Olive is WCF for Mono.

Finally someone started to port the Windows Communication Foundation to Mono. That’s great news because the only thing that keeps some of my newest works from running under anything different Windows is the WCF.

monoolive

“Implementing peer-to-peer (P2P) communication was the main objective. WCF ships, by default, with predefined bits for making P2P connections in an easy way, being possible to build services which hosts a mesh of nodes (a node represents a potential client), taking care of everything related to registration of new nodes, message flow over the mesh, etc.”

You can get the plan as pdf here.

Source: Mono Olive

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Beim ersten Mal (Film-Review)

Da habe ich sie also gesehen, DIE Komödie des Jahres. Tolle Kritiken hier und in Übersee, dazu hohe Einspielergebnisse an den Kinokassen. Vermutlich werden die Preise auch nicht lange auf sich warten. Nur – ich verstehe absolut nicht, warum.

Alle, die sich diesen Film ansehen wollen und eine heftige Komödie erwarten, sollen gewarnt sein. Der Humor ist überwiegend (sehr) tiefsinnig, und wenn er mal brachial herauskommen will, kann man damit nichts anfangen. Ganze Szenen ergeben irgendwie keinen Sinn (ja ja, Charakterentwicklung) und im Kinosaal herrschte dementsprechend minutenlang bedrückte Stille. Sicher funktioniert der Film an sich, aber für mein Verständnis nicht als Komödie, sondern eher als etwas aus der anspruchsvollen Romanzenecke.

Wer also richtig ablachen möchte ohne schwerdrückenden Realismus, der ist bei einer Komödie wie demnächst “Chuck und Larry” garantiert besser aufgehoben.

Jens Heymann

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