Cool stuff from Lifehacker!

Lifehacker has been on a roll as of late, with even more cool articles than usual:

– A guy sawed his video iPod in half and added a hinge, so it can bend up for easier viewing.

– Got a Linksys router? Learn how to power it using only an Ethernet cable!

– Lastly, here’s a cool (and useful!) Firefox extension: Mr. Uptime monitors a non-responding website and lets you know when it’s back up, so you don’t have to leave an empty tab open and refresh the page manually!

SONGS I LOVE: “Real To Real”

Real to Real“Real to Real” is the opening track from Simple Minds’ second album, Real To Real Cacophony, which came out all the way back in 1979.

Like a lot of bands at the time, Simple Minds seemed to be obsessed with technology and the future – “Real to Real” is all about satellites and how humans can communicate with each other almost instantly… but don’t. The song is slow, airy and spacey – just the way I like my pop music. The lyrics aren’t much – Real To real cacophony\Echo echo endlessly\Satellites communicate\Pick up signal\Then translate – but that’s not the point, really. It’s one of those songs that’s all about the experience. And this experience is pretty awesome!

Go ahead – have a listen! If all you’ve heard of Simple Minds is “Don’t You Forget About Me”, you might be surprised that this is the same band!


Sharing Calendars With Outlook 2007

One of the neatest features of Outlook 2007 is the ability to share a calendar with anyone. All you have to do is open a new email, enter the recipient and title, then click in the main message box and click Insert > Calendar. If you have more than one calendar, you will be prompted to choose one. You then choose which dates you’d like the calendar to be; you can choose pre-defined terms like “Next Two Weeks” or “Next 30 Days”, or you can choose specific dates. You the choose how much detail you want to include with the Calendar (“Availability Only”, “Limited Details” or “Full Details”). You can then click “Advanced” if you’d like and choose other features, like “Show Private Appointments” (which are hidden by default). You finally click “OK” and Outlook will go to work. Within a few minutes, you’ll see something like this in your email:

Outlook Calendar Sharing

Outlook will also attach the calendar as an ICS file that can be imported into many calendaring programs. Even better, if the recipient also has Outlook 2007, he or she can simply click a line in the email’s header to automatically import it as a separate calendar in Outlook itself – no manual importing necessary! You can even use the Overlay view to view the two calendars as one! Niiiiiiiiiccccee!

The Mystery of Jan Vermeer

Vermeer PaintingThe city of Delft, in the Netherlands, is famous for two things.

The first of these is Delftware, a “porcelain substitute” developed in the city in the 16th century to compete with “real” porcelain, which came from China and was hideously expensive, even for rich people. Delftware is almost always white with a blue pattern on it; if you look in your grandmother’s china cabinet, you’ll almost certainly find some delftware in it – or at least a reasonable copy thereof. Delftware became amazingly popular, so much so that it was even exported into China and Japan. Amusingly, the Chinese made copies of delftware to ship back to Europe, so at some point it was possible to buy a Chinese copy of a European copy of a Chinese original!

The other thing Delft is known for is being the home of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Johannes (Jan) Vermeer.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, until very recently, was credited as being “the inventor of the microscope” in many middle and high school textbooks. But the truth is, microscopes existed decades before van Leeuwenhoek was born. However, van Leeuwenhoek did greatly improve microscopes. He was a glass grinder, and van Leeuwenhoek was a master at making lenses. And, while testing out the lenses, van Leeuwenhoek made many interesting observations that he dutifully forwarded to England’s Royal Society and other scientific groups. Even though van Leeuwenhoek was nothing more than a tradesman, really, he is known in some circles as “the father of microbiology” more than anything else.

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Three Great Programs For IT Guys

If you’re in IT support, you’ve probably come across same issues over and over again. These three utilities can take some of the hard work off you and make your IT life a bit easier:

The Offline NT Password Editor – How many times have you gone to work on someone’s computer, only to find that they didn’t know their password because they had auto-login enabled? Or maybe they’ve logged in under their own account for so long that they’ve forgotten the local admin password? It’s not something that happens often, but when it does happen, this handy lil’ app is one of the few ways to reset a password. The Offline NT Password Editor comes as a bootable floppy or CD image; all you do is download the file, transfer it to a floppy or CD, then boot into the tiny Linux distribution that comes with the editor. Everything is driven by a command menu, so there’s no way you can screw this up… mostly. The editor doesn’t natively work on domain controllers (although it can be hacked to do so; I recommend this only at your own peril!). Also, follow the advice of the app’s author and only use the editor to reset the admin password to blank within the editor. Although the password editor has the ability to change a password to almost anything you choose, the author says that you will occasionally run into a problem with doing so. It’s much safer to simply change the password to nothing (i.e. blank) and change it from within Windows.

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Rose Byrne is as cute as a button!

Rose Byrne is an Australian actress. She’s interesting, in that I first remember seeing her on the new FX series Damages, but then she started appearing everywhere: Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, 28 Weeks Later, and even the new sci-fi flick Sunshine. Here’s hoping we see more of her soon!

Rose Byrne

Vista Is Broken…

Dear Microsoft:

For years, I’ve been one of your biggest fans. And why not? You’ve given me a career selling and supporting your products. You’ve put food on my table and countless trade show t-shirts on my back. It’s been a whole lot of fun, but that fun came to an end when you released Windows Vista. Why? Because Windows Vista is just broken.

My personal computer is an old Northwood Pentium 4 processor with HT. It’s got 2GB of RAM, an ATI Radeon x1300 pro video card and around 500Gb worth of space spread out among several hard drives. It’s pretty dated, to be sure. But it should be plenty powerful enough for a desktop operating system, right?

Apparently not. Here’s a short list of my woes with Vista:

Virtual PC: My Bittorrent setup wasn’t compatible with Vista, so I downloaded Virtual PC 2007. I installed Windows XP on a virtual machine and got everything set up just the way I like it: the OS stripped down as much as possible, autologin enabled, and a batch file that starts PeerGuardian and uTorrent at boot. The only problem? The virtual machine hogged up between 30-60% of my CPU cycles, even sitting at idle. That’s right, if the virtual machine is booted up, but not doing anything, it was using an average of 45% of my CPU cycles. When I went back to XP, I decided that it was simply easier to install Virtual PC 2007 and reuse the existing virtual machine (rather than install all the BT apps on my system). Under Windows XP, Virtual PC 2007 uses around 5-15% of my CPU cycles, with around 9% or 10% being the average. I hardly even notice that it’s there!

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