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May 19, 2010 / douglasac

An Open Letter to Microsoft

Dear Microsoft,

As you may or may not know, I recently asked your Australian counterparts regarding the availability of Office 2010 Professional Academic via Twitter:

You then responded thusly:

Question One: WTH is the INC offer? I didn’t bother to ask as it took five days to respond to my initial tweet (which is mediocre if you ask me), and question two: why not release it in Australia initially?

Australia, if you’re not aware, isn’t a backwards country where we ride kangaroos around, all live on farms and are all Crocodile Dundee. Far from it, in fact. We love our technology. We love it a lot. Yet you and many other technology companies a) neglect us completely or b) price gouge and make a tidy profit (Ohaithar, Adobe!).

Now, I’ve been using the Office 2010 Beta for a few months now. I like it. In fact, I love it (although it irks me how Publisher always seems to be a generation or two behind feature wise, you should look into that), and had you have released the Professional AE here initially, I may have considered snogging you and would most certainly have let you have my money unquestioningly. Especially if you sold it here for AUD$99, or even AUD$150. I’d buy that.

But, alas, you’ve determined that Australia is not worthy of this wonderful offer “to begin with”. Which then inspires the next question: why?

I can tell you right now that many university students would be queuing up for this. Hell, a lot of High School students would be as well, especially in senior years when they tend to get their own laptops. Instead, though, you’re offering the Home and Student to us, though. Sure, it may have three licenses, but it’s missing out on a couple of the programs I use regularly, one on a daily basis: Outlook and Publisher.

So, please release it in Australia. And soon. And don’t do an Adobe, and be nice to us and charge a reasonable price (i.e. AUD$99-150). Otherwise you will find students turning to either a) Staying on 2007 (which is sucky in comparison), b) Pirating it (which hurts you) or c) Importing it from overseas (which hurts local retailers, which is something I am against unless strictly necessary).

And before you say shipping costs increase the price, my boxed copy of Office 2007 came from Singapore. If anything, US prices should be higher than Australian ones, as Singapore à US > Singapore à Australia distance-wise.

 

Much love,

Douglas.

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May 12, 2010 / douglasac

Using MSN Emotes Out Of MSN

So I was wanting to get my MSN emoticons out of MSN to use elsewhere. A quick Google turned up the results I wanted, but the guide wasn’t necessarily perfect (’tis here), primarily because I run Windows 7 and it’s not geared towards beginners. So, I’ve expanded upon it here for you and made it more userfriendly. Enjoy!

First Steps for Windows XP

  1. Click Start à Run.
  2. Type C:\Documents And Settings\ then click OK
  3. Click Tools à Folder Options
  4. Choose the View tab.
  5. Click Show Hidden Files and Folders so that there is a checkmark in the box next to it.
  6. Click Hide extensions for known file types (recommended) so that there isn’t a checkmark in the box next to it.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Open the folder with your username on it.
  9. Open the Application Data folder.
  10. Open the Microsoft folder.
  11. Open the Messenger folder.
  12. Open the folder with your Windows Live ID on it.
  13. Open the folder called ObjectStore
  14. Open the folder called CustomEmoticons.

First Steps for Windows Vista/7

  1. Click Start à All Programs à Accessories à Run
  2. Type C:\Users\ then click OK
  3. Click Organize à Folder and Search Options]
  4. Choose the View Tab
  5. Click Show Hidden Files and Folders so that there is a checkmark in the box next to it.
  6. Click Hide extensions for known file types (recommended) so that there isn’t a checkmark in the box next to it.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Open the folder with your username on it.
  9. Open the AppData folder.
  10. Open the Local Folder.
  11. Open the Microsoft folder.
  12. Open the Messenger folder.
  13. Open the folder with your Windows Live ID on it.
  14. Open the folder called ObjectStore
  15. Open the folder called CustomEmoticons.

Steps for Windows XP, Vista and 7

  1. Right-click an empty space and choose Sort By à Type
  2. Click on the first DT2 file (which should be the first icon in the folder)
  3. Press and hold Shift.
  4. Click on the last DT2 file.
  5. Right click on any one, and choose Copy.
  6. Open your (My) Documents folder.
  7. Create a new folder. Call it Emoticons (do not call it anything else or later steps will fall flat on their face and die) and open it.
  8. Right click anywhere in the folder, and click Paste.
  9. You will now have a folder filled with assorted files. Keep it open.
  10. Bring up the Run dialog box as specified in step 1 for your version of Windows (up top)
  11. Type cmd and press OK.
  12. All going well, you should have something that looks like this:
  13. Follow the steps appropriate for your OS:
    1. In Windows XP, type cd My Documents\Emoticons then press Enter.
    2. In Windows Vista, type cd Documents\Emoticons then press Enter.
    3. Under Windows 7, you may choose to follow Step A or Step B above.
  14. Type ren *.dt2 *.gif then press Enter.
  15. If you are presented with a new prompt, you’re good. Any errors, you ballsed up and I don’t want to help you, so find yourself a nerd to help you.
  16. Download and install IrfanView (from hither) if you’ve not got it already.
    1. Don’t let it install any toolbars. Browser toolbars are the scourge of the known universe.
    2. Don’t let it associate itself with anything. You’re probably quite happy with whatever you’ve got right now for your images, etc.
  17. When it’s installed, it will open. Close it.
  18. Go back to your Emoticons folder.
  19. Right click the first one, and choose Open With, and select IrfanView
  20. Press the Spacebar key repeatedly.
  21. If an error message like this comes up, click OK, or continue mashing the Spacebar key.

Now, that was a bit longer than the original post, but you now have all your emoticons in an appropriate format for use elsewhere. Enjoy!

May 1, 2010 / douglasac

Protecting Your Money When Using Cards

EFTPOS is becoming increasingly common today: no need to worry about having cash, just swipe your card, follow the prompts and SHAZAM!, the goods\services are yours. However, as always, there are people exploiting this technology. And here is the Douglas Concise Guide to Protecting Your Money at EFTPOS Terminals and ATMs.

Quick! Identify this object!

Image found at WAtoday.com.au

If you answered with EFTPOS terminal, you would be correct. If you answered with Ingenico PX328 EFTPOS terminal, you would be even more correct for that is what it is.

Why are the model number and manufacturer relevant, I hear you ask? Well, it’s relevant because this is a decade old model of EFTPOS terminal. It is easily tampered with: as it has no tamper proofing, anyone can open it up and put something nasty in there that will skim your card and nobody’s the wiser.

These terminals can be seen mainly at McDonalds and Australia Post. The local GoLo store uses an early model of these (as in, from the mid to late 90’s).

Rule of thumb: if you see this model of EFTPOS terminal, be careful. I’m not saying that every PX328 is booby trapped, but don’t assume that it can’t happen.

Newer EFTPOS terminals have all sorts of things that can prove if it’s been tampered with (they can throw up errors and all sorts).

Other miscellany card security tips

Simple points to remember:

  • If there is something on an ATM that asks you to swipe or insert your card into something else before putting it into the ATM, don’t. This is a skimming device and only a fool would swipe\insert\whatever it.
  • If someone is offering you help at an ATM, shoo them away, they aren’t.
  • Using your less dominant hand (i.e. left hand if you’re a right handed person), cover your dominant hand as you enter your PIN on any ATM or EFTPOS terminal (on EFTPOS terminals, if you can hold it, it can be more comfortable and therefore feel less awkward). This prevents people from seeing it.
  • Identify this object:

    Image from BNZ
    It is an ATM green sleeve. There are a couple of variants, a common one being round instead of rectangular like this one. What this does is ensure that skimming devices are nigh on impossible to install on an ATM equipped with this. If you can see the happy padlock as a moving hologram it’s the real thing. If you have a choice between an ATM with a green sleeve and one without, choose the one with the green sleeve. Newer ANZ and Westpac ATMs tend to have these.
  • If the ATM\EFTPOS terminal looks like it’s been tampered with, don’t use it. In fact, some will go so far as to say, I may have been tampered with and am out of order.
  • Don’t tell your PIN to anyone.
  • Where possible, always use your chip on your credit card (it’s far more secure). Most EFTPOS terminals will insist that you insert a chipped card if you attempt to swipe it, usually accompanied by an angry beep.
  • Unless you absolutely must (i.e. some weird countries), sign for a credit transaction as opposed to using a PIN. Far more secure in my books: four digits vs. an almost unique doodle… which is more secure. Hohum.
  • If you do notice some irregularities, call your bank and let them know immediately. The quicker you do something about it the quicker they can put a stop to it, investigate it and refund you your money.

So, now that we’ve been educated in commonsense, I hereby send you out into the world to spend, spend, spend!

March 12, 2010 / douglasac

Securing your Computer

Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of people out there who are dumb enough not to have security software on their computers. In an ideal world, these people would be forbidden from using any form of technology for the remainder of their lives, however, this is not the case. So I, being a merciful blog writer, will do the hard work for you and find the security software that you should have if you don’t have any to ensure that your system doesn’t get hacked\attacked\raped by a virus\whatever.

Note: Unless you like dealing with conflicting software, install only one of each of these and uninstall any trials of McCrapfee and whatever you have installed on your computer.

Antivirus\Antispyware

Until recently this crown was shared by Avira and Avast. However, Avira has had to surrender, to, of all people, Microsoft. And with good reason, their software is quite good. If you enjoy having a computer free of crap, you need this.

Avast Antivirus 5

Microsoft Security Essentials

Image

http://www.addictivetips.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/avast5freeantivirus.png

http://www.onlytechtalks.com/techtalks/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Microsoft-Security-Essentials-Beta.png

What it does

Protects your computer from Viruses and spyware

As per Avast

Where you can get it

http://www.avast.com/en-au/free-antivirus-download

http://www.microsoft.com/Security_Essentials/

What you need to run it

Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 (32/64 bit)

Genuine Windows XP with SP2 or SP3, Windows Vista with no Service Pack, SP1 or SP2, Windows 7.

Support for Windows XP Mode under Windows 7 exists.

Cost

$0

$0

Antiphishing

Phishing is where people masquerade as banks and the like to get your details so they can steal your identity. Sometimes it’s fun to give them false information for teh lulz, but you should never feed them real information. It goes without saying, if your bank is emailing you asking for details you should ignore it and see if you bank has a phishing email address you can forward the email(s) to. If your bank doesn’t have this, then you need a better bank. For instance, Westpac have such an address, of which is spoof@westpac.com.au (Westpac FTW). The elected product, McAfee SiteAdvisor, is one of two of McAfee’s only good products (the other being their Total Protection Service for Small Business). Anything else made by them can go die in a hole. EDIT 1/5/10: After McAfee’s screwup the other week, I have hereby revoked their title of best anti-phising and suggest you switch your web browser to Google Chrome or Opera which have intergrated Antiphising tools in them.

McAfee SiteAdvisor

Image

http://www.imagengratis.org/images/411_mcafee_siteadvisor.jpg

What it does

Steers you away from websites which could harm you, your finances or your computer.

Where you can get it

http://www.siteadvisor.com/download/

What you need to run it

Internet Explorer or Firefox

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Cost

$0, paid (but pointless) version available

Firewall

The firewall keeps the nasties out, and can also keep any nasties you’ve picked up along the way in as well. It dictates what is allowed to access the internet from your computer and what is allowed to access your computer from the internet. You want one of these as much as you want, say, oxygen.

PC Tools Firewall Plus

Image

http://www.pctools.com/res/zoom.html?/res/images/firewall/screenshot.gif

What it does

Steers you away from websites which could harm you, your finances or your computer.

Where you can get it

http://www.pctools.com/firewall/

What you need to run it

Windows XP, Windows Vista (32 or 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit)

Cost

$0

A Real Web Browser

Lets face it, although it works with almost everything on the Internet, and it is getting better (slowly but surely), Internet Explorer is still sucky. Here are some real browsers for you (note that Firefox is the only option that will work with most anti-phising tools, McAfee included)

Google Chrome

Opera 10.50

Firefox

Image

http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/Google-Chrome.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Opera_10.50.png

Clicky

What it does

Lets you use the interwebz. It has an intergrated anti-phishing, anti-nasty site filter, and it looks very slim.

Lets you browse the interwebz. Has the allegedly fastest Javascript engine. Best Windows 7 compatibility of any non-IE Browser

Lets you browse the interwebz. Annoys me to no end to the point where I willingly return to Mother Microsoft’s arms.

Where you can get it

http://chrome.google.com/

http://www.opera.com/

http://www.getfirefox.com

What you need to run it

Windows XP, Windows Vista (32 or 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit)

Windows XP, Vista or 7 recommended, can run on Windows 2000

Windows XP, Vista or 7.

Cost

$0

$0

$0

What this will cost you

$0.00

Oh, and maybe about an hour of your time to download and install each one of these. And some downloads, no more than 150MB worth (although with Australian internet, that’s a lot).

For the Time Poor and Money Rich

We have some simple alternatives for you… we call them paid suites. You will need to provide your own browser, though. But that’s just another

Norton Internet Security 2010

Trend Micro Internet Security 2010

Image

http://www.securitysofts.com/images/
softpic/Norton-Internet-Security-2010.jpg

http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n58/
quanzi_1507/security/TIS2010.png

What it does

Contains antivirus, antispyware, firewall, anti-phishing, and almost everything bar the kitchen sink. Installs fast. May come with free Norton Utilities.

Lets you browse the interwebz. Has the allegedly fastest Javascript engine. Best Windows 7 compatibility of any non-IE Browser (whoops, dunno how that got in there)

Contains antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing, antispam, and some filter thingy should you actually be a responsible parent.

Where you can get it

http://www.symantec.com/norton/internet-security

http://www.trendmicro.com.au/au/products
/personal/pccillin-internet-security/index.html

What you need to run it

Windows XP, Vista or 7

Windows XP, Vista or 7

Cost

Usually around $90 for three PCs

Usually around $99 for three PCs

I have a Mac, therefore I don’t need security software. Ha!

Shut up and get a real computer, like a Lenovo or a Dell. Oh, wait, you can’t, you’re too poor because you had to buy that wanky iPhone and preorder the stupid iPad and iPod and MacBook Pro and Mac Mini and for some reason you needed a Mac Pro, because you really do need two four core processors for refreshing the Apple Website every three seconds for mentions of new products\porn\whatever.

Perhaps you can’t afford this either, but you can surely apply for your eighteenth credit card for it, right?

Norton Internet Security for Mac.

Image

http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage
/n/norton_internet_security_for_mac-233855-1240391344.jpeg

What it does

Protects your precious Mac from nasties. And don’t pretend they don’t exist, because they do.

Where you can get it

http://www.symantec.com/norton/
macintosh/internet-security

What you need to run it

Mac OS X 10.4.11 or higher

Cost

From $80

February 25, 2010 / douglasac

Shows That Should Be Taken Off Television Immediately

If there’s one thing I hate, its bad television. Numerous times I’ve seen television shows so bad that they deserve to be placed in cement vault and left there For the Remainder of Time. Here are some of the notable shows and reasons why:

  • The View: “Ugh” is a polite way of describing this show. It is also a very succinct way to describe it. A full way to describe it would be that it’s a group of woman sitting around bitching about everything they can think of. And they’re all idiots. And then there’s the occasion segment on something or another that nobody cares about. How this show manages to survive is beyond me. It is an absolutely inane waste of airtime.
  • Nine News: Reported a story once I read about in the Advertiser two weeks prior to their broad cast. Need we say more?
  • Rachel Ray: I’ve never actually sat down and watched this show. I’ve seen a clip for it on The Soup. Think of it as a talk show that mated with a cooking show. Yep, it’s bad. The audience cheer and shout and so on when the host whose name is also the title of the show does something as simple as stirring. *sarcastic applause* Such a worthy contributor to television today.
  • Any show that reports celebrity “news”: News in the loosest sense of the word, these shows are nothing but vile tripe that serve to promote the idiots we call celebrities and the stupid things they do. Hate, hate, vomit.
  • Girls of the Playboy Mansion: A show I never, ever, want to see: even the title makes me want to gouge my eyes out in agony.
  • The Hills: From what I can gather, a bunch of girls sitting around discussing things inanely in front of cafes. If it’s scripted, fire the writers, it is such a poor excuse for writing I could do better. If it isn’t scripted, the girls call out for summary execution for their sake and ours. Excuse me while I vomit.
  • Dr. 90210: Wrong. Just, wrong. I do not care about breast enlargements on women, or whatever. I fail to understand what people find wrong with the bodies they are issued. Of course, there are needs for plastic surgery, such as burn victims, but this is ridiculous. Dr. 90210 can go die in a hole.
  • Family Guy, American Dad, etc.: Unfunny crappy TV shows with disgusting jokes? Oh, what an excellent idea! Oh, while you’re at it, could you please kill me, say, right about now? Thanks!
  • A Current Affair and Today Tonight: Ugh. The producers of these shows should be ashamed of themselves. These. Are. Utter. Bile. I do not care about credit cards, I am intelligent enough to figure out the only good ones are ones with the words “MasterCard Debit” on them, which is all of four in Australia. The poor people who can’t afford to pay their rent need to cough up some money; they signed a tenancy agreement and should either have negotiated an extension or not rented such a swanky building. Possibly the only notable thing that A Current Affair has ever done is the interview with Corey Worth(less)ington, which made me LOL.
  • E True Hollywood Stories: If I want a biography of an actor, I shall keep an eye on the Biography channel or find one on the internet as opposed to this regurgitated crap that classifies as television.
  • The Young and The Restless: Oh, just hurry up and kill everyone off in a freak nuclear explosion or whatever. In the meantime, you can find me elsewhere.
  • Australian\American Idol: How many people who’ve won these shows gone on to super-mega-stardom? Oh, that’s right, none! So why bother with it year in, year out? Because there are idiots with IQ’s less than zero who seem to enjoy it. This, logically, brings us to…
  • So You Think You Can Dance: As per above. Except with dancing. ZOMG! Not!

If you disagree with any of these, expect a summary beating. If you have any more that you want to add, comment. And if I don’t like what you think, expect to be flamed from here to eternity.

February 21, 2010 / douglasac

iPhone vs. Milestone – An Objective Analysis

Because I know how much you hate my ranting, here’s an objective analysis of the iPhone and the newest competitor on the block, the Motorola Milestone (also known as the Motorola Droid), based on things that I look for in a phone, and by extension, what you should be looking for too, in the form of an idiotproof checklist.

Of course, this needn’t apply if you’re an idiot or an Apple fanboi. Then that’s okay. You can go and suck your iPhone or go bow down to Steve Jobs or do whatever it is you people do.

Motorola Milestone

(Motorola Droid)

Feature

iPhone 3GS

Sort of

()

You can do almost anything with this. Google and Motorola don’t care, although you can’t flash your own firmware onto the Milestone: it must be signed by Motorola. You can onto the Droid, though.

Open Operating System

You do what Apple says you can do. Which is, basically, fuck all.

As per above.

There Will Always Be An App For That

If it conflicts with Apple’s interests, then no, there will *not* be an app for that.

Provided the non-NextG version is purchased.

(
Incompatible on Australian networks)

Optus\Vodafone Dual Band Compatible (900MHz\2100MHz)

(Telstra NextG and Optus\Vodafone 2100MHz only)

()

Multitasking

8GB MicroSD card provided

(
16GB MicroSD card provided)

Expandable Memory

3.5mm headphone jack

Full hardware keyboard

However, it will be shipped in a future update, due in coming months.

Support for Adobe Flash 10.1

To be shipped on the 12th… of never.

$699 for non NextG version

Acceptable Price

$879.00 for base model

Motorola say you should use Motorola Media Link, but it doesn’t work with Windows 7, so the consensus is to use DoubleTwist. Or you can copy and paste manually, which rarely, if ever, fails.

Does not rely on craptastic software

iTunes. Need we say more?

January 3, 2010 / douglasac

Why Online Translation Is Made Of Fail

To readers on Facebook: best to read the full article as opposed to on Facebook, Tables are used.

In my epic boredom as a Rocky Horror fan, I found the lyrics to the German Translation to Rocky Horror here. And then I ran them through Google Translate.

What a mess.

Original In German Translated in Google Translate
“It’s astounding — Time is fleeting

Madness takes its toll

But listen closely — not for very much longer

I’ve got to keep control.

I remember doing the time warp

Drinking those moments when

The Blackness would hit me — The void would be calling.

Let’s do the Time Warp again

Let’s do the Time Warp again

It’s just a jump to the left

And then a step to the right

With your hands on your hips

You bring your knees in tight

But it’s the pelvic thrust

That starts to drive you insane

Let’s do the Time Warp again

Let’s do the Time Warp again

It’s so dreamy — oh fantasy free me

So you can’t see me — no not at all

In another dimension — with voyeuristic intention

Well secluded — I’ll see all

With a bit of a mind flip — you’re there in the time slip

Nothing can ever be the same

You’re spaced out on sensation

Like you’re under sedation

Let’s do the Time Warp again

Let’s do the Time Warp again

Well I was walking down the street

Just having a think

When a snake of a guy gave me an evil wink

Well it shook me up, it took me by surprise

He had a pick up truck and the devil’s eyes

Oh — he stared at me and I felt a change

Time meant nothing — never would again

Einfach irre – die Zeit macht mich kirre

Wahnsinn will Tribut

Diese Nummer – mach ich keinen Tag länger

ich bin jetzt auf der Hut.

Komm doch mit uns – auf den Zeitsprung

Leben ist fatal

im Dunkel vergessen

laß Stimmen mich fressen

Mach doch den Zeitsprung nochmal!

Mach doch den Zeitsprung nochmal!

Der erste Sprung geht nach links

Ein Schritt nach rechts irgendwie

Kreisel mal mit dem Dings

Es reicht dir bis zum Knie!

Ist es auch ein Schlauch

fühl mal deinen Bauch

Mach doch den Zeitsprung nochmal!

Mach doch den Zeitsprung nochmal!

Ja, ich weiß nicht, ob ich’s kann

auf der Straße sah ich dann

einen Typen – er machte mich tierisch an.

Was der für’n Auto hat

er setzte mich mit Teufelsaugen matt

oh, er nahm mich her

mir war so schwer

einfach zeitlos – ganz ohne Qual

Mach doch den Zeitsprung nochmal!

Mach doch den Zeitsprung nochmal!

Just insane – the time makes me tame

Madness tribute will

This number – I do not one day longer

I am now on my guard.

Come with us – at the time jump

Life is fatal

forgotten in the dark

let me eat Votes

Why do not the time-warp again!

Why do not the time-warp again!

The first step is to the left

A step to the right somehow

Tops times with the Thing

It’s enough to you to your knees!

Is it a hose

times feel your belly

Why do not the time-warp again!

Why do not the time-warp again!

Yes, I do not know if I can do it

I saw on the street

a guy – he introduced me to animal.

What the car has für’n

He sat down matt with devil’s eyes

Oh, he took me here

I was so hard

simply timeless – no pain

Why do not the time-warp again!

Why do not the time-warp again!