“The Wii Edition” of the Dr. Bill Podcast #128

Dr. Bill Podcast – 128 – (03/23/08)
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Geek Culture about the Nintendo Wii, how to update ALL your Microsoft software, Geek Software of the Week: VSubst, and the Tech News of the week… as well as the usual silliness!

Mozilla Proclaims Firefox 3 Ready!

Mozilla Firefox Version 3 is just about ready according to Mozilla’s VP!

Mozilla says Firefox 3 ready for prime-time

“A new version of Mozilla’s popular Firefox Web browser is ready for download with improved security and memory use as the tiny company takes a stab at Microsoft Corp’s dominant Internet Explorer. The program’s creators told Reuters on Thursday that the privately-held company’s trial version of Firefox 3 browser is ready for the masses to use after months of development. Until now, the company has discouraged average Internet users from moving on from Firefox 2, which was launched in October 2006. ‘In many ways it (Firefox 3) is much more stable than anything else out there,’ Mozilla Corp Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer said in an interview. Key rivals to Firefox are market leader Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple Inc’s Safari browser. Engineers at Mozilla are still putting the finishing touches on the software and hope to release the final version of Firefox 3 by the end of June, Schroepfer said.”

Arthur C. Clarke – 1917 – 2008

Arthur C. ClarkeOne of the great “hard science” science fiction writers passed away today… Arthur C. Clarke. He wrote science fiction that had a lot of clear, exacting science fact in it, that made his flights of fancy more believable. He was also credited with the “invention” of the earth orbiting satellites that make the communications that we take for granted today, possible. He will be missed.

Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author, dies at 90

“Arthur C. Clarke, a writer whose seamless blend of scientific expertise and poetic imagination helped usher in the space age, died Wednesday in Colombo, where he had lived since 1956. He was 90. The author of almost 100 books, Clarke was an ardent promoter of the idea that humanity’s destiny lay beyond the confines of Earth. It was a vision served most vividly by ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ the classic 1968 science-fiction film he created with the director Stanley Kubrick and the novel of the same title that he wrote as part of the project. His work was also prophetic: His detailed forecast of telecommunications satellites in 1945 came more than a decade before the first orbital rocket flight. Clarke’s influence on public attitudes toward space was acknowledged by U.S. astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, by scientists like Carl Sagan and by movie and television producers. Gene Roddenberry credited Clarke’s writings with encouraging him to pursue his ‘Star Trek’ project in the face of indifference from television executives. In his later years, after settling in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Clarke continued to bask in worldwide acclaim as both a scientific sage and the pre-eminent science fiction writer of the 20th century. In 1998, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Clarke played down his success in foretelling a globe-spanning network of communication satellites. ‘No one can predict the future,’ he always maintained. But as a science fiction writer he could not resist drawing up timelines for what he called ‘possible futures.’ Far from displaying uncanny prescience, these conjectures mainly demonstrated his lifelong, and often disappointed, optimism about the peaceful uses of technology – from his calculation in 1945 that atomic-fueled rockets could be no more than 20 years away to his conviction in 1999 that ‘clean, safe power’ from ‘cold fusion’ would be commercially available in the first years of the new millennium.”

My early science fiction habit was cut on books by Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, and Larry Niven. To know that Sir Arthur was also an inspiration to Gene Roddenberry to develop Star Trek ties him even more to my favorite avocation of reading Star Trek books, and enjoying the latest versions of Star Trek lore, like Star Trek Phase II (formerly Star Trek: New Voyages.)

Geek Software of the Week: Vsubst!

Visual Subst

In Citrix, we sometimes rename the “C:” and “D:” drives on a server as other drive letters. However, some apps want to be installed on “C:”. Well, what if the system drive is now “R:?” You need to create a “symbolic link” to that drive. In the old DOS days you could do it with the “SUBST” command. Now, in Windows, along comes a freeware Visual SUBST! Here it is:

NTwind’s Visual Subst

“Visual Subst is a small tool that allows you to associate the most accessed directories with virtual drives. It uses the same API similar to the console ‘subst’ utility, but makes it easier to create and remove virtual drives in a GUI way. Personally, I use virtual drives everywhere – I always prefer to press ALT+F1 in the file manager and switch to a project directory where hundreds of various files are kept. Using virtual drives, these files can be quickly accessed at any time. Generally, a virtual drive is just a symbolic link in the Local MS-DOS Device namespace. It is just one more Windows feature added for backward compatibility with old programs. Virtual drives are therefore objects of the operating system, and Visual Subst can create, enumerate and delete these objects. All local MS-DOS device names are removed when the user is logging off. To handle this issue, Visual Subst saves the list of virtual drives into an INI-file and is able to load them the next time. This program runs only on Windows 2000/XP and newer operating systems.”

“The 133t Edition” of the Dr. Bill Podcast #127

Dr. Bill Podcast – 127 – (03/15/08)
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Geek Culture from 133t G33k B34t (and no that is not a typo… it is l33t.) Geek Software of the Week: AsterWin! Tech news! And a quick tour of the web site!

Microsoft Patches Four Critical Issues in Office!

If you use Office (and, why aren’t you using OpenOffice!?), you need to apply some patches from Microsoft!

Four critical Office issues patched

“Microsoft has addressed critical issues in Office and Office Web Components, as well as specific issues within Excel and Outlook. All the issues deal with some type of remote code execution risk, according to Microsoft. The first, dealing with the entire suite, is a critical issue for Office 2008 and an important one for XP and 2003 SP2, as well as Office for Mac 2004. Two flaws address memory corruption problems, including an issue with cell parsing. A specially crafted Excel file could take advantage of the latter, while the former attends to an overall problem with malformed Office files. In Office’s Web Components feature, URL parsing and DataSource security holes have been patched. A total of seven different flaws within Excel were patched in that applications security patch, which deal with problems the company previously highlighted in an off-cycle advisory issued in January. The issues affect Office 2000, XP, 2003, and 2007, and are rated Critical in Office 2000. Altogether the patch fixes data validation record, file import, style record, formula parsing, rich text validation, conditional formating, and macro validation problems within the software.”

Even Microsoft Employees Are Having Problems with Vista!

And, we are not talking some guys in the mail room! These are folks that should be very competent Windows users. Check out the article excerpt below…

Microsoft emails reveal problems with Vista

“Senior Microsoft staff complained about misleading advertising and Windows Vista incompatibility issues in a series of embarrassing emails made public during a court case. In the emails, published online by The New York Times, corporate vice president for Windows product management Mike Nash said he ‘got burned’ after purchasing a notebook computer advertised as ‘Vista Capable’ that was incapable of running the full version of the operating system. Even more embarrassingly, Microsoft chief operating officer Jon A. Shirley chose not to upgrade one of his computers to Vista after discovering it was not compatible with several of his peripheral devices including a printer and two scanners. Microsoft staff also discussed a decision to lower Vista’s hardware requirements to encourage sales, with one manager warning the move would result in ‘a complete tragedy.’ In one email sent to senior Microsoft staff including general manager for Windows Brad Brooks, Mr Nash said he had wound up with a ‘$2100 email machine’ after buying a notebook that was incapable of running the full version of Windows Vista. ‘Are we seeing this from a lot of customers?’ Mr. Nash asked in the email. ‘I know that I chose my laptop (a Sony TX770P) because it had the vista (sic) logo and was pretty disappointed that it not only wouldn’t run Glass, but more importantly wouldn’t run Movie Maker.’ ‘Glass’ is an internal code-name for the standard Windows Vista user interface shown in advertisements, officially called Aero. Movie Maker is a video editing program that comes with the operating system. The messages, which reveal senior Microsoft executives suffered the same problems with Windows Vista reported by consumers, were made public as a US judge granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed against the company.”

Whoa! No wonder so many businesses are telling suppliers to take Vista off the new computers they order! No driver support, ton’s of issues, and a sorry excuse for an operating system… yep, sounds like M$!

Geek Software of the Week: AsterWin!

OK, have you ever created an account on a web site, and had your browser “cache” the password… but then you forgot the password that you used? Later, you want to log in from another computer, and the password is not cached on that PC; what do you do?

Well, it wouldn’t be a problem if you used AsterWin! It doesn’t work in all cases, and there are some caveats, but it is better than nothing!

AsterWin 1.20

“This utility reveals the passwords stored behind the asterisks (‘***’) in standard password text-boxes. It supports the following operating systems: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. This utility works fine with most password text-boxes, but there are some applications that don’t store the password behind the asterisks, in order to increase their security. In such cases, AsterWin will not be able to reveal the password.

The following applications and OS components don’t store the password behind the asterisks:

  • Netscape 6.x (Passwords in the Web page)
  • Dialup and network passwords in Windows 2000
  • Windows NT/2000/XP user management tools.

Asterwin also cannot reveal the passwords in Internet Explorer Web pages, Because they are stored in different way than in other applications. if you want to discover the passwords behind the asterisks in Internet Explorer, you can download the AsterWin IE utility.”

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