Friday, 31 October 2008

Card readers

A 53-in-1 card reader?  It must be to good to be true.

After spending a brief period of time counting (three times), the various connectors the card reader actually supported came to 31.  So, I wondered, as many of us would.  What happened to the other 22?  Or did they count the various versions of the same type of card.  Like pcmia one thru four?

Wondering what winging an email off their way would produce.  I promptly sent one off.

Four days later a reply popped into my box from their support centre.

"Our reply regarding your question:
It's marketing. It just reads all cards. :)
Beware however that it does not support SDHC unless it is specifically stated."

So in the end, it's just a clever little marketing ploys to get us to part with our cash!

But even though a severe ticking off should be brought in by trading standards, do have to admire the company's honesty at answering a direct question.


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Sun weblog writer

Well after hearing some negative comments regarding the sun weblog writer, I thought i'd give it a quick spin; just to see how useful, helpful and time saving it might be – especially in comparison to microsofts live writer.

Well it took a few minutes to eventually get the download, either sun's servers were under a bit of pressure or to many people siphoning off my connection. But it eventually downloaded and installed without a hitch.

I looked for a new program, but nothing. Opened oow (openoffice writer), to notice two new icons. The first a little feather with an upward pointing green arrow next to it and the second another little feather with a downward pointing orange arrow.

So I clicked on the open weblog entry icon the feather and downward pointing orange arrow icon, to get the following pop up.

Clicking on either of them produced, well, a basic ui.  But unlike the many complaints I saw on the site, it connected and retrieved without a hitch, as can be seen in the image below.


But  rather than use that to retrieve an existing post and have it do something untoward, i created a new post - this one - to upload and see what happened. 

So clicking on the to weblog icon to upload a quick draft blog – this one – brought up the window (see image below), which was a tad basic but had the send as draft clicked.  Uploaded and then went to the blog to see how the first bit of the test came out...


Unlike windows live writer (which I must admit is a piece of software I find indispensable, I would even go so far as saying it's one of the best offline blog-producing bits of software i've used so far; it doesn't have the all in one place functionality i've become used toplaying with in wlv.  Just little things.  Like been able to easily change the displayed and click-able picture sizes by a couple of mouse movements, is an excellent implementation of resizing.

... and now over to the blog.  The sun weblog writer dismally failed.  First off, it published/posted to public despite the save as draft option been checked.  Secondly, the first image above failed to appear and paragraph spacing was doubled spaced.   Little things which wouldn't have made a great bit of difference four years ago, but things have moved on at breakneck spead!

So on this occasion the clear winner (splutter, cough, cough), is undoubtedly microsofts live writer.  Which, unless a decent open source alternative comes out, I heartily recommend.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Fattening fox

I have, albeit briefly, fallen out of love with my favourite browser - firefox.  We had a wonderful affair going back many years when all was perfect.  From when it initially poked its head through the holes left by the thundering internet exploriphant, which had terminally wounded the previous king of the jungle - netscape. 

Through thick and thin, when ff refused to load bookmarks or refused to put them in the correct locations, to losing all the passwords in a minor tiff!  Through all of that we patched up and roared on.

But with the growing popularity of the add-ons things took a slight turn for the worst.  Was it a badly written meal ff had digested, causing it to go a strange colour of blue?  No just a badly prepared theme i'd stupidly installed.  But its initial speed was slowing, on some occasions even taking longer to load a page than it took ie to load and be ready.  Blasphemy! 

The last time - when the camels back finally broke - ff was still loading up long after i'd loaded up chrome, checked my banking balance the weather and what was on at the local cinema before it sputtered onto screen.

What was going on?

A quick look through the trusty task manager brought up a few home truths.  Chrome with five tabs open was taking up only 56MB of ram. Firefox on the other hand (whilst still in its loading phase), was chugging through over 1.3GB of memory; before settling down to a relatively wieldy 215MB. 

The only thing that had changed was the inclusion of more add-ons (figure 1). New add-ons that are recommended by someone you know which they just can't live without, you just have to try.  That other slightly strange but winking at you add-on from the pages of the latest magazine to hit the door, or viewed on a site, all offer time saving, enjoyment having wasting more time than sense hours of fun. The time had arrived to ruthlessly remove all those juicy helpful helpers.  To return the browser to a state of speed and efficiency - you might even find it crashes less frequently too. 

Figure 1. Add-ons


Sigh, what to remove and what to keep...

  • The all-in-one sidebar I regularly use for its unabashed over helpful organisational abilities. 
  • The latest add-on was Tab Mix Plus, which looks good adds to the functionality but I can do without for the time being.
  • Scrapbook is good but somewhat duplicating Google notebook so that will have to go.
  • Fire gestures - mouse gestures certainly require that onboard.
  • Firebug haven't really used it so that can go.
  • As can answers since I now use ubiquity for so many things.

...and on you go, through each add-on and saying yes or no.  Once you've reached the end of your list, you can restart firefox.


Firefox now consumes just 165 MB of memory to open before settling down to a modest 152MB. By just removing 5 add-ons the start up time has dramatically improved, and as seen below its memory footprint is now more manageable.



The image following shows how the new look slimmed down version looks:



So if firefox is causing you problems it may more than likely be an arrant add-on.  The best thing is to start the browser in safe mode:

Start menu -> all programs -> mozilla -> mozilla firefox (safemode)

which will bring up the following window:


Simply check the disable all add-ons option and click the continue in safe mode.  If that works and it starts okay (best to wait before the wonder of watching it zoom along is lost), then it is with great probability your add-ons.

Go on a helpful worthwhile mission: the add-on decluttering mission, and watch ff fly.