Category Archives: GeekStuff


The Morning Paper…

People sometimes ask me “How do you keep up with new technology?” and seem surprised when I reply “I read web sites.” How can they be surprised? I mean web sites are easy to publish and most of the ones that I choose to read update on an daily, if not hourly, basis… there’s no printing involved, no time to market – you change a file on a server and *bam* the page is instantly available. Maybe it’s what I read that’s key…
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Y’z Dock

Anyway, one of the neatest things about the new OS X interface is the dock. The dock is Apple’s answer to the omni-present task bar that is sitting on your desktop at the moment; it’s used to show the currently running applications as well as giving you a “Quick Launch” icon bar for launching applications. Like I said, it’s about the same as the Windows’ XP task bar, but with a great deal more flare and style – it’s basically become the new trademark of the Apple desktop. In fact it’s one of the neatest pieces of OS code that I’ve seen in a good long while, probably since the animated and fading menus of Windows 98 – I’m comfortable in saying “one of the neatest” because there’s been a new product released that is equally as cool, but for Windows XP users: Y’z Dock.
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Samsung S105 and T-Mobile USA

If you recall, I’ve been using an Ericsson t68 with coverage from VoiceStream since April. Times have changed. VoiceStream is now T-Mobile USA. Having been bought a number of months ago by Deutsche Telecom, they decided that their USA subsidiary should be named T-Moble, like the rest of their cellular franchises. Mostly just a name change, but I was sorta psyched – I mean given the great phone technology and service that I’ve seen with the international T-Mobiles, I was hopeful that they might bring the International methods with them. I can sum this up relatively simply: Hah!
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Shadow Puppets, by Y’z

It’s on the extremely rare occasion to find an application that live up to my expectations with a great piece of coding, but it’s happened just last week: Y’z Shadow is a small application that sits in the SysTray (next to the clock) and has only a couple of “tasks.” One is to draw user-configurable drop shadows, under both active and inactive windows. Don’t worry: there’s options for the size and opacity of the shadows and it really looks good when it’s running. Y’z will effect any open menu by turning it semi-transparent, which is a neater effect than you would think.
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Professional Therapy, in Progress

Therapy. I think that’s the best part of this web site for me – it provides me a way to get out my personal Rants and pass on Geeky knowledge; in some cases, I even get to declare certain outrageous experiences to the world. Regardless, when I started this whole thing up, I purposely planned never to attack personal Issues (person, place, or thing) too directly, because it can be problematic. In some cases, it’s about biting the hand that feeds you and in other cases, it’s so particular to my own life that no one would care anyway… in this instance, I have a very pointed Issue, but I doubted anyone would be interested. Then I realized that what has happening to me lately, might be happening to other people; this is how Dilbert got started, actually. People began to realize that the madness of the Cubicle Farm was spreading, and viola!, Dilbert was born. Having said the above, I have two Rants of a GeekStuffs nature. I feel I need to share some professional (or lack there of) experiences with my fellow Code Warriors.
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Resistance: DENIED – Say Hello to iRandy

Didn’t I say, just last week, that someone had to prevent me from dipping into the Mac universe? Well someone fumbled. My used G4 tower is already on it’s way to CT, along with a set of G4 System discs (for OS 9) thanks to eBay and a copy of Jaguar/OS 10.2 from Apple. I also discovered that since I am a professor, albeit part time, that I qualify for the Education discounts at Apple – I could have gotten the new 10GB iPod for $369 – that story just doesn’t seem to want to end!
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OS X: A Cry for Help!

Someone needs to stop me from moving to a Mac. I’ve looked at the applications I use lately, and with the exception of MSN Chat (which I’m told is being Mac-ified soon), my compilers (Visual Studio 6.0 and .NET), and CityDesk, everything else that I use is already ported to OS X. What’s OS X? That’s the latest version of Apple’s operating system, with a new user interface (known as Aqua) built on a version of Unix (mostly a flavor of Linux) – I’m assuming you’ve heard of it already, but if you haven’t Apple explains it better than I can in this little Rant. So not only do you get the warm and fuzzy feeling of stiffing the “monopoly company” of the PC world, but you also get the “hippie” feeling of OpenSource, Linux, BSD, etc. I think you get to show off not only an Apple Logo, but you also get to show off the Penguin – I don’t know for sure what’s proper in Geek-Etiquette.
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iPod version 1.2 + Calendar

Got iPod 1.2? If you don’t you can upgrade either with a Mac or a PC. The first release from Apple was the 1.2 OS X based Upgrader. This is in a new format exclusively for Mac’s OS version 10, or higher. Shortly there after, they posted a release of the Firmware Upgrader for version 9.x of the OS. This is the version that most PC users are using to get the 1.2 version of the Firmware onto their iPod. Of course the new iPods already come with 1.2, so if you’re just buying an iPod now, you’re already all set. If not, I recommend the new version of the Firmware – they’ve added a bit of stuff to the iPod with this release.
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StyleXP

I’ve been trying out this particular product for a while now, waiting for it to screw up – it’s rare that I get pleasantly surprised by an application. First, what is StyleXP? Simply put, it allows you to apply a “skin” to Windows XP. What’s a skin? I know you won’t ask that, so lets move along. Now some background. For years, there’s been applications that would allow you to change the way your Windows desktop looked and worked – applications would take over the Window itself, or offer a shell replacement, and that would allow you to put a custom look and feel on your desktop. The most commercial and memorable one, to me anyway, was Norton Navigator for Windows 95 – and it nominally sucked.
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Sending Contacts to iPod

PC-based iPod owners, here’s a tip for you. As I’m sure you know, 1.1 of the iPod software can store contacts as part of it’s storage. They show up in the menu as a storage item; depending on your software, you may or may not even have automatic synchronization for the contacts. I didn’t want anything automatic, of course being an untrusting Geek, so I wanted to figure out to get my contacts on the device on my own. It’s simple actually: the iPod wants vCards (.vcf’s) and Outlook can export them, if you ask it nicely.
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RAVE: AIM+

Chat rooms have been around for a long, long time. How long? From the days of the Apple //e and the Commodore 64 so at least the early 80’s. Before the earliest chat rooms, there was still one to one communication, commonly found on UNIX terminals, in the form of “talk”. Actually, it’s because of AIM that I am writing this in the first place. It seems that there’s an ambitious programmer out there that got tired of some of the AIM restrictions and opted to do something about it. Enter AIM+.
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Mozilla 1.0 released!

Mozilla 1.0 is finally done! It’s available for download now on a few different platforms… it’s all set to go. For those of you that may not know, Mozilla is an open-source initiative that was orchestrated to offer the world a “free” browser to surf the web with. No need to buy into Windows or buy AOL‘s Netscape Navigator – this is open-source! You could even add your own features, by getting the source code from Mozilla and going to town on adding your own things. It even includes a built in IRC client so you could stiff the no-longer free mIRC.
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Find in Files Fix in XP

It took me some time to find the problem with the “Find in Files” option of the Windows Explorer that’s included with Windows XP. In Windows 2000, I was able to say find “Bubba” and it would go and search every file in the directory that I told it to. Since I work with text files that can be named .HTM, .HDM, .WML, or even .ASP, I was a perturbed to find that when I did a similar task in XP, it only look at .TXT files and sometimes .HTM files. Well, perturbed was an understatement, as I chased my tail for almost five hours looking for a particular Title tag in a WML file, but that’s another story.
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