Archive for Computer Related

Windows 7 XP Mode

For my work computer, I upgraded the hard drive to an Intel X25-V 40GB (sucks that no one respects the GiB anymore, other than memory manufacturers), which has TRIM support and is well supported under Windows 7, so I took out the old HD to keep as backup and did a clean install on the new drive. Thinking that my legacy accounting software would be able to run under 7, I tried to install it to no avail. Of course I did install the 64bit version of Windows 7, so maybe that has something to do with it, but who knows.

I had read about a backwards compatibility mode in Windows 7, which is why I got the Professional version just in case, since you need at least that to run it. And fortunately my laptop was able to support Intel VT (which was actually obscured in the POST Behavior section of the BIOS setup) so after downloading and installing two pieces of software, had a virtualized copy of XP running.

XP Mode is actually pretty slick. You are automatically connected to your network, host drives and network drives function as mapped drives with clear labels, and printers are automatically discovered. You can even have applications launch directly from the Windows 7 environment. However, there is a trick to that. When you are in XP Mode, right-click on the start menu and select All Users. Your application much have a shortcut in there in order for it to show up under the Windows Virtual PC -> Windows XP Mode Applications list in the Windows 7 Start Menu. Or, if you have the option when installing applications, it must be installed for all users. So now that I have all the pieces in place and the settings configured corrects, it’s pretty easy to start up my legacy accounting software and have it run as a single window inside the Windows 7 host environment with almost the same look and feel as a native app. Kudos!

more info here.


Interesting Google Voice Musings

My friend Andrew and I were testing out the backend of Google voice today. Here are a few of our findings. (And please let me know if any of this is incorrect.)

  • SMS Relay - GV is smart somewhat smart. If Party A txts Party B’s GV number from a non-GV number that’s associated with a GV number, it will show up in Party B’s phone/GV as Party A’s GV number. If Party A releases the association, then the txt appears from one of google’s 406 area code numbers.
    • Basically, all txts from others without a GV association will have a 406 area code and not be known to you — unsolicited behavior. It will however append the body of the message with the caller id of the sender. (Clever)
    • But, if you send a txt from the GV web interface to a number, any response will have the proper sender ID. Because GV now has a hook since you solicited the txt. If you send a txt from the GV web interface, any reply may have the same area code as the recipient, but it will not be the same number. In this case, the receiver’s name will be appended onto the body of the msg — solicited behavior.
    • The above two bullet points apply to numbers that you’ve never allowed GV to know about. I believe if there is past sms or calling activity to a number from within the GV website, it will remember that and use that caller ID instead of the 406 area coded number.
    • One more point. The reason everything is still routed through a Google owned number is so that they can keep a log of all your conversations. Only txts that originate from somewhere they do not know about (from your cell phone to another cell phone) will not be recorded.
  • Calling the 406 number - (i’m not as sure on this) everyone has a 406 number associated with their GV that redirects the call or txt to the number that was chosen when you sign up for GV. It acts as an intermediary that intercepts all incoming transmissions and sends them to the GV number or the other numbers associated with the GV.
    • Just like the SMS relay, if you use a phone that is associated with a GV and you call the 406 number, it will go to that person’s cell.
    • HOWEVER, if your physical phone number is deleted (not just unchecked from being forwarded) in GV, you will get a “this call cannot be completed as dialed” message and will not be able to connect.
  • Calling a number from within the GV website will ring your phone of choice first, then call the number you wish to reach.
  • When calling a GV number via cell phone, your call timer starts immediately when you hear the first ring tone. This is a clue to tell you the number is being routed through GV because your actual cell/provider starts charging the moment routing begins.

A couple of other notables:

  • Calls made through the GV website that connect to your cell phone still cost you money even though it’s an incoming call. This is unfortunately the way US cell service works right now. In Europe, incoming calls are free (caller pays).
  • There is no mechanism to call from your computer. You must have a phone associated that you can use as a terminal.

Edited 2009-08-07 09:56 CST: Added more info on the SMS caller ID relay.


iPhone Apps

Now that the app store is about to debut, I thought I’d write a couple of thoughts about it. First and most importantly, I think that any app should strongly consider having an interface with the web. Let’s take a mileage program for example. By itself, it may have a great interface, and functionality. But in today’s connected world, we want access to our information the way we want it. Yeah, you’ll have your iPhone with you at almost all times (for access to the info), but it’d be great if the info was sync’d to a website and you can view it on your much larger desktop or laptop and utilize the larger format’s ability to display the data in different forms. You could then take the data in a csv file and interpret/manipulate it how you see fit in a spreadsheet program of your own choosing. It’d also be backed up more securely (free from loss, not from possible trespassing though :-( ) than just having a sync with your local computer. Perhaps, taken to another level, data could be backed up into MobileMe or maybe Google could do a hostile takeover and offer MobileMe functionality for free.

Secondly, I’m hoping that with the wireless and GPS functionality built-in, these apps will grow and expand beyond those that were written for the Palm and PocketPC. Right now, iPhone apps are in it’s infancy. This stage is going to be very familiar to those who used to have a PDA. Hopefully, the weak and inferior programs (and/or redundant and overpriced programs) can be quickly weeded out and allowed to die a quick death.

Apps I’m waiting on:

  • Smugmug browser (not just uploader)
  • Remember the Milk
  • Wordpress publisher
  • Secure Facebook (https)
  • Voice Recorder
  • Google Docs/notes interface

Possible Cool Stuff:

  • yelp
  • evernote
  • moocow pianist
  • guitar suite
  • pandora
  • tuner
  • whereto, vicinity - apps that return restaurant, bar, POI information based on your location
  • limbo - tells your friends/otheres where you are and what you’re doing — kinda scary too

Might be time for me to get some better in-ear headphones.


A worm to avoid

W32.Deletemusic. Deletes all your mp3s. It work by spreading through removable media such as usb drives and running through autorun. So disable your autoruns on the windows systems. Or hold down the <SHIFT> key when inserting removable media.





Firefox trick

I often inadvertantly close tabs in Firefox with a middle click and have to go to History -> Recently Closed Tabs to reopen them. Well today I was trying to open up a blank tab with <CTRL>-T and accidently hit <SHIFT> as well and lo and behold, <CTRL><SHIFT>-T will recover/reopen the most recently closed tabs in order.

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Windows Vista First Impressions (ongoing draft)

Lets start with the negatives:

  • User Access Controls - this thing which is supposed to provide greater security will end up getting disabled because it is the greatest piece of nagware ever created. You can’t copy a file without the damn dialog box popping up. Did they actually test this before releasing it? It’s absurd!
  • Windows Explorer - why did they get rid of the up-one-level button? That was probably the most useful icon and now it’s dissappeared. Strange how they would make a “better” version of windows yet make it less functional, no?
  • Start Menu - the whole scrolling programs thing sucks.
  • Icons - suck
  • Memory Hog

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