Goodbye Compuserve

Just read this morning that as of yesterday, Compuserve Classic ceased to be. That’s a major milestone for a service that had been around for a very long time. Now I didn’t realize the old Compuserve still was operational, that was a surprise.

Anyway, Compuserve and I go way back. When I got my first modem in 1986 (a 1200 bps card for my Apple //e computer), the first place I dialed was Compuserve. As I recall, I ran up quite the bill that first month – something like $400. I was addicted to online stuff immediately. As time went on, I was a member of the Sci-Fi forums, and when I got hired a few years later by Apogee, the gaming forums, too. I was all over the place there.

And yeah, if you’re a Compuserve old timer, you pronounce the name of the GIF file format like the peanut butter name. That’s the right way, not the other way (sounding like ‘gift’).

Anyway, I lasted there for quite a long time, way past when it was commonly used by people. Basically until the point where the guy at my company who paid the bills asked why I still had that account going. :) My old account of 71540,306 is no longer needed, sadly. I read where you can still use your old email addresses if you wanted, but you probably had to sign up to keep it active. I didn’t do that, so I’m guessing mine doesn’t work anymore.

So goodbye Compuserve, you were my first.

F-Secure Anti Virus Question

I’ve been looking at using this as my anti virus software. However, my research tells me that it doesn’t get along well at all with Zone Alarm Firewall.
So much so that it will refuse to install as long as ZA is installed. I also found out that ZA itself won’t install if FS is installed, either.
Anyone reading this using F-Secure 2006 or 2007? If so, what are you doing for a firewall solution if you can’t use it and ZA, short of using F-A’s own firewall software in their higher up package?

Pegasus Mail – SOS!

I’ve been using Pegasus Mail forever. It is my preferred email client – I believe it’s far superior in every way to most other commercial apps. Because of it’s old school method of dealing with email, it’s not subject to all the viruses and worms that plague more modern clients (hello Microsoft).
Anyway, I read this afternoon a message from the author that he’s contemplating stopping development on the software completely and not issuing any further updates. If you are a Pegasus Mail user, you will want to read this.
What disturbs me most about that is he’s given his users no facility to go “NO – WAIT!” By removing the ability for people to respond to his ultimatum of sorts, there is no facility to show him how his decision might affect people. Now I understand where he’s coming from in the angle of “Well, people don’t pay unless compelled to”. Well, you’re right. People don’t. But if folks had been told the situation was THAT drastic, there might have been a change seen. The additional thing is that as far as I know, this is the first public mention that the situation was this bad for David. I would prefer the chance to rectify that.
Don’t know if David will read this, but if he does, open it up again. I know I’d help out – I’m one of the guilty parties he talks about. It always was “I’ll pay for that later”, and later got forgotten about simply because of laziness and the fact that program doesn’t force me, yes.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, David.

A change in my IM client software

I just today switched IM clients. For awhile now I’ve been using Trillian Pro. Been with them for awhile. Yesterday I started looking at something else due to the ICQ protocol problems Trillian has had over the last week or so.
What’s #1 to me is my IM client has to be multi-protocol. There’s NO WAY I’m running all the individual clients – that’s just stupid. I have a lot of industry connections on every client there is, so I have to have them all. That’s why using the “real client” was never an option.
Two choices for replacements were Gaim and Miranda. I ended up going with Miranda, as I liked it’s interface better than Gaim’s. Gaim was nice, but it “felt” to me like a Java app. Standalone Java apps have an odd “feel” to me, and while Gaim may or may not be one, I have to like the programs I use regularly, otherewise I feel like I’m fighting the program, and I have enough going on to be worrying about that. It’s a nitpicky thing I admit, but it’s my reason. That was not the only reason, but it was one of them – another is listed below.
One thing my Trillian suffered from was bloat. I looked at my installation, and it was 114Mb. Miranda is 5. Now, of that 114Mb, 48 of it was my log archives. I was stunned to find I have 48Megs of IM logs. I didn’t realize I was on it so much. Anyway, take away logs, and it’s still 55Mb or so, Miranda is about 1/10th of that size. Tons of the features from Trillian I never used, nor would I ever use made up all that space. Trillian was taking over a minute just to start, and Miranda is instant.
So after giving Miranda and Gaim a drive through I decided to go with Miranda. It’s fast, quick, and it’s sorting of server side contact lists is something that Cerulean should have had in Trillian. It’s far superior than anything else, and was my primary reason for switching to this program vs Gaim. I had about 215 contacts on my list when I started this – some I had forgotten about, and several I had no idea who they were. Miranda’s tools allowed me to clean that up and have it stick. I tried it a couple of times with Trillian, but my changes always were reverted for some reason I could never find out. Hell, Miranda doesn’t even have a splash screen – you can add one as a plugin, although I don’t know why you’d want to do that.
Another thing I wanted was my contacts to have the images for the individual service next to their name. Some folks I have 3-5 contacts for the same person, so I’d need to know which service they were on (one guy I know has 8). Gaim may have had this option, but it wasn’t easily accessible, and Miranda did it out of the box, so that was a big deal to me. As I recall, Trillian didn’t do that by default either, I had to add it in a skin, which was more bloat – I prefer not to use skins if I don’t have to, as they just add to the overall memory usage of the program.
I basically use IM for chat only. I know there’s other things you can do (video chat), but none of that interests me. Out of the box, Miranda is “no frills chat”, which is exactly what I wanted. There is a plugin system to add things, but to me, that’s why I left Trillian. If I wanted to junk up my im client, I’m sure I could bog down Miranda the same way Trillian got with RSS readers, weather plugins, and Gmail checkers. I’ve added only a few plugins to Miranda. The ones I added are:
1) Sounds – Out of the box, Miranda is mute, and I’ve gotten used to hearing a sound when something comes in. With so many windows open at once, a sound is necessary. It’s not technically a plugin, but since it’s something I added manually, I wanted to mention it. There’s all kinds of goofy sound packs at their site, but I went for a really basic one with just a few beeps and boops.
2) Metacontacts – That was one thing I liked in Trillian. For the guys that have 3-5 (or the one with 8), having multiple names in the same group is a waste of space. This is a good way to have those 5 accounts for the same guy appear as one.
3) History++ – The one thing that’s the biggest negative with Miranda is it’s history. I’m sorry, but it’s complete ass. It will only let me look at one line at a time – what the hell is with that? Fortunately, someone has written a decent history viewer. I can’t believe the people writing Miranda think that allowing you to look at just one line at a time in history is acceptable. Here’s the built in history – no way was that acceptable.
Anyway, the change is done. Trillian Pro (which I actually paid for awhile back) is gone from my machine, and in it’s place is a really streamed down copy of Miranda which has functionally the same featureset I had in Trillian Pro 3.1. Miranda is free, is a good slick program, and something I can definitely recommend.

Mozilla Firefox Extensions & v1.5

I’ve been a user of the Firefox web browser for some time now. There’s been a lot written in the press about how Firefox is safer over IE, and I believe that to only marginally be true. Firefox is considered safer because it’s got a smaller market value, and there’s fewer attacks on it vs. Internet Explorer. Anyway, I consider it to be a good, solid, fast browser, and what makes it powerful for me are it’s extensions. IE has the ability to extend itself too, but the difference is IE is tied into the operating system, and it’s “extension” method (ActiveX) is a bit more dangerous in terms of attacks.
Firefox’s extensions are a bit more secure (as I understand how it works). There are a boatload of extensions available to do all sorts of things. After using several of them, these are my regulars. Ones I use for some reason or another. I’ve wanted to detail them for awhile now, but haven’t. The other day, Firefox v1.5 final was released, and as such I had to evaluate my extensions again, as v1.5 breaks some of them. Here’s a list of all the extensions I use with Firefox v1.5 and what they do.
These extensions are all working in Firefox v1.5 for me:
Adblock: Should be extension #1 for everyone. Lets you block advertisements.
Webdeveloper: This extension adds a whole mess of tools relevent to doing web development work. Things liek showing tags, css, image stuff.
Google Preview: This one will show you screen captures of the resultant webpages in search results in Google.
Sage: This should probably be on everyone’s installation. It’s an rss feed reader for Firefox. The way it handles rss is incredible, I really love this program. Since I’ve installed it, it’s kept me from actually visiting an awful number of sites with all their different looks and feels. Since you’re reading the news/posts in your rss reader, they all look the same to you.
Signature: This was created to allow you to enter signatures in online messages in areas where they didn’t exist. However, I use it as a form answer program, as well as having it store templates for some repeated pages in other websites I do.
Flashblock: This one will disallow the automatic execution of flash files on webpages. Helps keep a lot of stupid annoying advertisements at bay. Has a whitelist feature (which I’m proud to say they put in at my request). The whitelist is necessary for sites that have flash as part of their main navigational scheme (like for instance).
Tabbrowser Preferences: This extension has a lot of features, but I pretty much only use it for one, and that’s to force Firefox to load links that would open another window in another tab.
BookmarksHome: This is one of my lesser used extensions. It will basically make a nice page of all your bookmarks which you can view in your browser.
PDF Download: This is a simple extension. All it does is give you a prompt for what you want to do when you click on a pdf link. It gives you the option of saving the pdf to your hard drive, or just viewing it in your browser.
Customize Google: This extension allows you to have more information on a Google search. It will do autofill when you’re typing in the google box (with approx search result numbers), it will put links to other search engines at the top of the page, and also remove unwanted information (like ads). On image searches, it rewrites the results to link directly to the image, and not that transient results page Google displays by default. If you use Google a lot, you should check this out.
These extensions need an update from the author:
Spoofstick: Spoofstick places something in your browser which always shows you what web server you’re on. Good for detecting phising stuff, as it will always show you were you really are. This one is not compatible with Firefox v1.5. I had to modify the install xpi file to tell it to use Firefox 1.5. A true update is probably needed from the author.
Minimize to Tray: This is another simple one. When you minimize Firefox, it doesn’t leave it in the taskbar, it minimizes it to your system tray. This one does not work with v1.5 at all, and my trick of modifying the xpi file didn’t work either. Currently disabled, waiting on an update from the author.
These extensions don’t work in v1.5 either. I actually had forgotten I had them installed, and didn’t bother updating them.
Whois: Gave you a right click option in Firefox to bring up another window with a whois entry on that particular domain you happen to be on.
Bookmarks Syncronizer: This would let you “backup” your bookmarks file by uploading the file via ftp. I ended up turning it off, because it would try doing that every time I made a change and then quit Firefox. I got tired of waiting for it to do it’s thing before it actually quit the program.
As a seperate note, if you use Internet explorer, search out PopUpCop. When I was an IE person, I swore by it. On the odd time I still use IE, I still have PopUpCop installed. It basically has the features of adblock and flashblock combined, along with a lot of other coolness.

Comments are temporarily off

I’ve turned off comments on this blog for the time being. This weekend I’m getting FLOODED with spam comments.
This new revision is pretty good with not letting them public, but I’m tired of seeing a couple hundred new ones each morning, so for the time being comments are off.
If you have something to say about one of my blog entries, please use the mail me link. Thanks.

A question about Palm PDA Address Books

Some time ago I updated my Palm Desktop software to the current version (4.14).
I recently noticed that it has the ability to have multiple addresses per contact, so I set about updating my addresses so that they were properly in Work vs. Home. That was all nice. However, when I go to sync, if someone has just a “Home” address (aka the second one), it doesn’t get synced to my PDA, since it’s address book app only recognizes one address.
Problem is that I have an older Palm unit. I’m using an m515 with PalmOS v4.1. My address book app is v4.0. I looked around for newer stuff, and it appears that the Address Book app stopped at v4.5, and was replaced by a program called “Contacts”.
What I want to know is this.. Does that contact app require a Palm OS higher than what I have? I really want to have an updated address book app which will let me sync to all the fields in the current Palm desktop. Am I SOL here? I’d love to get the updated Palm contacts program, but am afraid I’d have to update my Palm to do it. AFAIK, the m515 doesn’t have a PalmOS v5 or higher OS upgrade path, right?
So if I can’t use the Palm native stuff (which I’d really prefer), is there a third party program that will let me do what I want?
Thanks for any help you can give. I realize it’s a stab in the dark by putting this on my blog, but I thought I’d take a shot anyway.

Don’t want your picture taken, eh?

So, you don’t want your picture taken, eh? Seems like Hewlett-Packard has gotten a patent on something that will allow you to prevent people from taking your picture. It’s detailed here.
In short, it will be a way for someone to tell the camera “Hey, I don’t want my picture taken”. This is an intersting concept. Obviously, it would only work with newer digital cameras, and people set up to block them. While it is set up as a privacy issue (presumably to stop the practice of upskirting. However, I can see it being used in other ways.
If adapted properly (or improperly depending on your point of view), it might allow the MPAA to finally put a serious crimp in people taking camcorders into movie theatres. I can also see it being abused by lawyers and pro sports teams.. “You can’t have your own pictures of the team and the players, you have to buy our $6 official versions”.
I wonder if the usual folks (Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the ACLU) will have anything to say about this.

The Mac Mini as a Media Center

I want one even more now!

The Mac Mini Looks cool

Long ago in a galaxy far far away, I was an Apple user. What I consider to be a “real” Apple user. I owned an Apple ][+, then an Apple //e, and finally a IIgs. To me, when Apple invented the Mac, the soul of the company died.
However, since the return of Steve Jobs a few years ago (was he ever offiically bought back as full time CEO? I know he was interim for a long time), the company seems to have revived some of it’s coolness. When they came out with the cool purple (and other color) iMacs, I considered buying one for home. At home, I don’t play very many games (I play games at home on my Xbox & Gamecube), all I really do are sort mp3’s, write the occasional letter, balance my checkbook, and do email/web browsing. All of that can be done from a Mac. But I never bought one. I kind of let the idea drop.
Until I saw the Mac Mini this week which was announced at Apple’s annual MacFest. It looks really REALLY cool. It’s basically an entry level Macintosh. It’s got some really great style, which has been the hallmark of recent Apple products. Quite frankly, if I didn’t have a kid on the way, I’d seriously consider it. The only thing that concerns me is the small amount of hard drive space in the thing. If I read the press releases right, it’s only 40Gb. Feh, I have a 160Gb HD for all my digital media, I’d have to immediately upgrade the hard drive in there, assuming it’s possible. The size of the thing seems to preclude the fact that you can do much in the way of expansion. I seriously doubt you can do more than two hard drives in there. The Mac Mini doesn’t come with a keyboard, mouse, or monitor, but I already have all that stuff. I have to say, I really like the idea of this.
But, I can’t really afford it with my first kid on the way in about 3 months. But I can dream about it. I’ll probably go out to the Apple store in Plano Texas and sigh over it.
Anyone want to be nice and buy me one?