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Computer Complaints, Comments and Reviews

This is a work in progress and is added to irregularly. Last Modified 
Topics-
IE 5.0 Arrives
Browser Wars
The Button Bin
perl

Free Web Hosting

I've happily gotten my Real website http://bangkokwizard.com/ but still have several free hosted sites. These are useful for backup web space. Everything I write or want saved goes up to several places on the Internet. Since they are all the same :-) this takes little effort. All data goes up in a perl script in the background and it would take a major meltdown of the entire Internet for me to lose all of them.
All of these use FTP and none require form base uploads. Some have storage limits which I can handle with excludes in the perl script (see the Perl page). With one exception they have some advertising to contend with. This is usually transparent so it can be ignored.
I'm not going to give a lot of details on these as they keep changing. They are all fairly reliable and most have been up for more than a year.
http://members.xoom.com/robertmwhite/
50 meg of space. They want to sell you things by email.
http://bangkokwizard.hypermart.net/
Lots of members and lots of businesses. Extensive help and newsgroups. CGI support!
http://bangkokwebwizard.webjump.com/
also CGI support (somewhat irratic, this) but 24 hour tech help also. 25 meg
http://members.tripod.com/~BangkokWizard/
They now offer CGI and Frontpage (but only 11 meg of space)
http://angelfire.com/ct/BangkokWebWizard/
FTP fairly recently and are promising CGI Real Soon Now. 30 meg.
http://bangkokwizard.teabbs.com/
No ads on this small fast host. You don't need to play TradeWars but it helps

Aside from backups free sites can be useful for testing on different hosts. Since maintainance is easy there is no real reason to take them down. I'm sure there are others. And I have a few neglected sites out there on hosts that were unsatisfactory for one reason or another.

New Resouces

Lockergnome is a kinda wierd name for Chris Pirillo's website and newsletter that has useful tools, tips, links and quirky humor. I really like the newsletter and always find something worth clicking on. Today I found 6 of them and decided he'd made it to the Reviews page.
Chris has a book out on newsletters, that's how good he is.
Timestamp: October 18, 1999
The Internet Tourbus comes email once a week. Text only and a main topic covering something interesting about the Internet. Good. Timestamp: May 24, 1999

New Software

Disk Piecharter out of Amsterdam does a nice job of showing where the fat lives on your hard drive.
Drill down on a segment to get details. Very easy and useful.
Something Better!!
Steffan Gerlach's scanner has a very unusual display that is pretty, practical and very very fast.
It doesn't do very much, which is fine with me. I like to dig in with explorer and delete things myself, by hand.
Was interested to learn that my 790 favorites are taking up 25 megabytes of valuable space. 99% waste. :-((
Besides causing me to take a serious look at what I actually use in all that junk I'm reconsidering switching to fat32. Course I'll just fill the excess space with more files anyway. :-))
Anyway I've recovered 30 meg this morning, thanks, Steffan. ThumbsUp Timestamp: May 16, 1999

Search Tools

Express by Infoseek didn't last. I didn't use Infoseek for a month and decided to it was too invasive and fat to keep around.
Started using Web Ferret which is small, fast and accurate. Produces a list of titles and URLS. Put the mouse on an item and you get the description. Very nice but...
AltaVista Discovery
Indexes everything on your hard disk. (except directories and file types you don't want).
Boolean search and gives highlighted results in a browser window.
Very fast, generating the page takes longer than local searches
Not in the way too much. I even let it live in the system tray.
Very clean interface, AltaVista Discovery
unlike Infoseek which tried to do too much. If they can fix the bugs without adding unwanted features it's a winner.
Bugs
Screws up my taskbar somehow. Mine uses AutoHide and after running Discovery it gets lost. Needs a restart to fix it.
I'm using Outlook Express 5.0 and they've hardwired a different EXE name in there. Had to export a bunch a mail folders but now I can get good searches on the 2 meg of Perl mail.
Nevermind, after a month I still like it. Handy for web searches too. No need to got to AVs homepage.
Timestamp: February 15, 1999
Taskbar problem fixed by making the toolbar=floating in the options.
When it indexes Exchange mail you get an Exchange console to read it. Makes sense. This is the Only application that I let load on startup. Even the background indexing doesn't take up too many resources. They've obviously worked on their CPU scheduling and priority stuff.
Timestamp: Mar 7, 1999

Advanced Web Art and the best News

Hotwired has good interesting news     is into innovation.
Their Art Gallery is very impressive.
Timestamp: October 08, 1998
Hotwired news service has the best tech news around.
Good reports and they are Not afraid to link you to another service for a story.
I spend more time on this In Box item than anything else.
Timestamp: December 22, 1998

Microsoft

Cleaning up Windows' Explorer

If you've clicked on File-New in Windows Explorer you know the thrill of being able to create brand new stuff like 'Microsoft Office Binders', or 'ACDSee Image Sequence' or even 'Microsoft Data Link' whatever that is. Some of these you might not want cluttering up the menu, and let's not forget the time taken to look up these obscure icons.
Take a look at HKEY/CLASSES/ROOT with RegEdit and search for 'ShellNew'. Look at the file extension and the description and if you don't want it just delete the ShellNew key. Don't get too enthusiastic. Try deleting just one first.
Shut down explorer and when you restart it File-New should be a bit cleaner.
BTW, this is prolly in one or several books and faqs but it gets a mention here because I found it easier to figure it out myself than to wade through endless Windows 95 links.
Timestamp: December 21, 1998
Deluxe CD Player came in when I installed '98.
It looks very slick, beautiful in fact.
1. Lives in the system tray, but the popup menu has NO way to make the beast visible. The option to download playlist information is right there, but you can't turn down the volume if you've disappeared it.
3. Chokes, stutters and sounds like a bad AM radio every time the CPU gets even a little busy.
3. Can't uninstall it. Had to chop it out with Regedit. ThumbsDown

The Pinball Game that came with my NT4.0 works fine in '98. Nice game. They got the inertia of ball down pat.ThumbsUp
Timestamp: October 05, 1998

Editing

Nice HTML editor This is the web superguru's editor from W3C.. Not really Flash, but it grows on you. Very, very Politically Correct results. Useful as a tester. If Amaya chokes on a page it must be bad HTML so time for a rewrite..
What I really like about Amaya is that is the Only WYSIWYG HTML editor that doesn't add a whole lot of spurious, unnecessary FONT tags to my pages. I can edit a page in Amaya and later recognize the raw HTML.

While it takes a bit of getting used to, Amaya's Odd mix of being a browser and being an editor at the same time has real advantages. I can define a link then click on it and start editing that page! Still haven't explored all the features yet. It'll handle image maps and mouseovers and all sorts of things like math and making books..
Does have some problems.
The keys ain't quite user friendly, and I haven't figured out how to make Shift Insert do a paste. And sometimes hitting END will refresh the screen and you're looking at the top of the page or something. The arrows sometimes do odd things.
I downloaded their update, and its a bit friendlier but Windows-centric people will go a bit mad before they figure it out.
Timestamp: May 3, 1999
Ok, now I'm getting irritated. Maybe I don't use it enough to understand the quirks but when trying to do a new page from scratch I keep getting wierd and annoying stuff happening. Silly things like hit the up arrow and land in the middle somewhere. I assume this makes sense in terms of their model somehow but it's not friendly and seems to be getting worse.
I still check things with it but can't really recommend this thing. Timestamp: December 7, 1999

Editpad

is a Notepad replacement. Nice recent file list and a 'reload from disk' item. Tabbed pages. Most of my HTML is written with Editpad. Its 'Only a text Editor' like the shuttle is 'Only a Space Truck'. The most used program in my system.
Notepad
I'm very very conservative about what I use for editing but Notepad is gaining more attention. It will automatically reload the documents you were looking at last time so the 2 textfiles I use for notes everyday and all day are right there when I start it up.
They have many many features, like running a Perl script on some selected text, and a wierdly effective macro setup. I'm running a free light version that doesn't have all the features but I like what I see and it isn't too Fat.
Timestamp: May 23, 1999

perl

I love Perl. An interpreter, but you can turn things into executables. Command line driven, but talks to Windows,
talks to the internet, talks to Com ports, system calls, anything you want to do. I'm an old time Assembler and C programmer and I Love this thing. A whole OOP inplementation, persistant interpreters. eeeek..
Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish
Lister


how about fetching the latest perl by running this command: 

  perl -MLWP::Simple -e '
    getstore "ftp://ftp.sunet.se/pub/lang/perl/CPAN/src/latest.tar.gz";perl.tar.gz" '
Timestamp: October 05, 1998
Perl is WebGlue and you need it for CGI work, obviously. But its wonderful for site maintenance. I have 10 sites to keep updated and backups happen every day. The script for this is only 6k. Lightweight activeX objects work nicely with Perl too so rolling your own utilities is Not difficult. But I'm also finding that you can access most of the fancy Visual Basic DLLs from Perl too. Wondering why I need VB?
Timestamp: December 31, 1998
Wrote my own tracker.cgi for seeing who's looking at our pages. That will go up here when when its tested a bit more. CGI can drive you crazy but I like it.
Timestamp: February 15, 1998
see the Perl page
Timestamp: April 8, 1998

Browser Wars

Opera

Lets start this off with Opera . Very Fast, nice multiple document interface useful for looking at several screens at the same time, but a lack of support for some CSS and javascript means its not good as a main browser.
Updated: December 22, 1998 Version 3.5 is better but still not good enough.
I use it a lot for coping with the many pages of Perl documentation on my hard disk.
It saves the window contents and positions so you are exactly where you left off the last time.
For me that means the table of contents on the left, a row of minimized buttons down the bottom of pages I often consult, and a page or two open. This saves many clicks. It would be useful to save different configurations but Opera doesn't provide that.

I'm using both IE5 5.0 and Netscape 4.5 for different things.
Let's take the positives first.
IE loads very fast.
NN bookmarks still work better for me, especially for editing
IE now lets you synch the Netscape bookmarks into favorites.
NN saves a page and makes all the references local
IE saves a page and leaves the URLs on the web if I save all the pictures too.
Negatives:
IE "Organize Favorites" utility is a joke. Easier to cut and paste directories.
NN is Very Slow to load. (and 4.5 crashes daily)
IE still gives "I didn't like something but can't tell you why" error messages.
NN Mail is better, but will go off and do something in the background leaving me to type into the vapor, annoying.
IE is available as an Object I can manipulate as a programmer.
NN wants a wierd combination of DDE and OLE that I can't get to work.
So who's gonna win?
6 months ago the pages I manage were running 30% IE. Now its 45% You wanna fight Microsoft? You gotta be crazy.
Plus NN is annoying enough in what it doesn't support that I'd dump it in a minute.
As a user I prefer Netscape. As a writer of web pages I wish it would go away. I've wasted too much time trying to keep the two happy to give a damn about the 'Religious' issues.
IE does things like Hover and pretty CSS based filters that are very cheap to implement,,,, 40 bytes, maybe, and a gradient drop shadow that is beautiful. But I don't use it cause it breaks in NN and I just refuse to waste time doing any cross-browser code that is not absolutely essential, and that's gonna change in another 6 months anyway.
Updated: December 22, 1998 Now writing everything to IE specs. When Navigator 5.0 comes out the CSS will turn on.
One other note, if you don't know about Visual Basic...
I'm building my own Browser that works the way I want. It's 4k of code and a 64k executable. The rest just hooks into the operating system. Netscape who? Oh, the guys who released their source code, and somebody made their bookmark routines into an activeX object. Yeah, I remember them.
Timestamp: November 11, 1998
Navigator Dumped
Till version 5.0 comes out anyway. Netscape isn't working on this line anyhow, a whole new engine is coming.
IE5 has its quirks but nothing I can't live with. AND it doesn't crash.
Using Outlook Express 5.0 for mail. Good mail filtering. If you want to send mail to 10,000 people use something else.
Timestamp: February 7, 1999

IE5.0 final arrives

Went to Microsoft's site, want to download setup...
Try Australia,,, croak
Try Czech,,,, croak
Try Japan,,, not authorized (?)
Try the US Mirror ok, got it
Run setup,,, croak can't do that
Run setup,,, croak can't do that
Run setup,,, croak can't do that
Sigh,,, give up
See AltaVista has a customized version, cool, good search engine, Download setup, ok. Run setup,,, corrupted file (sigh)
back to US Mirror, download setup. croak croak croak
Aha! over to Tucows right here in Bangkok, just down the street 25M! Oh well. Screw around on WWW while downloading this at warp speed, nice. unzip it, run setup, Ooooh, it Worked!
contains IE5.0 and optional stuff
    Offline Browsing Pack
    Browsing Enhancements
    Outlook Express
I'm using Express so install everything. 5 minutes, restart computer, It wants to connect, ok. doddle oddle 5 more minutes customizing, quietly finishes reboot and install is done. I'm not done though.
It's put the Task scheduler back in taskbar, hmmm.
Lost my startpage, gives me one from Lycos. Fix homepage, Whoops all the text is bigger? Tools, Options see what else is different. Check fonts, they have options for Thai, nice, Lao, Mongolian, say what... Cherokee(?), lets leave that alone for now but note that All the Fonts are bigger so all my nicely formatted pages are now trashed. :-(((
but I get Cherokee now, ya gotta Love these guys.
Options Advanced not too much new, click, unclick, no I do not want a Go button, thanks, no, do not check for an updated Explorer ever time I log on, idiots.
Tucows has added some stuff to favorites and my Links bar is different, delete delete delete. We now have a button to check mail. Click.
Express wants to migrate all my mail from the Beta format, ok. While its doing that run Regedit cause I'm not gonna want to look at "Microsoft Internet Explorer provided by TUCOWS" much longer, change that to "IE5", ok. Outlook Express will do my Hotmail for me now, and I can download everything from sociopath.culture.thai and read it offline, but first Tools-Options what have they screwed with now, click click click, fix toolbars from Views-Customize. Add Hotmail account, easy. Fiddling for an hour now lessee if it Works
,,, Boy it grabbed the mail awfully fast, Ok, I understand, The Brand New Super Duper Task Scheduler has replaced my flickery little green thing on the taskbar that told me I was connected and I'm been sitting here online all the Time! Oh, well, how do you disconnect? Can't find it, no way, I am now connected permanently and forever, Hey, Billg, turn off the bubble machine. Finally unplug the damned phone. Gotta love those guys.
As a final note after a bit of checking. View Textsize is defaulted to largest. They've screwed the fixed width fonts something awful. Hotmail doesn't work, can't read their own query string, can't read newsgroups offline
AND they seem to have BROKEN their own CSS filters, idiots.
Its faster and some new stuff looks ok, gotta love those guys.
Timestamp: March 21, 1999
One of the add-ons I downloaded fixed the CSS problem. Form based text entry is real difficult these days as the fonts are Tiny.
Timestamp: April 14, 1999
One thing you gotta watch. There's a memory leak somewhere that causes IE5.0 to just sit there and twiddle it's thumbs for twenty seconds or so if you switch from one browser window to another. It's really really annoying. Whatever it is doesn't eat a lot of cpu cycles and its not chewing on the disk. hmmmm.
Possibly has something to do with writing an email at the same time as you have half a dozen browser windows open.
I don't love IE5 but I can live with it. And it helps that the puppy is OLE programmable and I wrote a lil' perl script to migrate my favorites and the address book out to where I can back them up.
Mozilla may come up with something better. I'm dubious, and not sure a slim crashprone monster is better than a fat stable monster.
Timestamp: May 16, 1999
Ah well! A later version of OE5 fixed the memory leak and all is well, mostly. Course this new OE5 can not longer get my Hotmail.
The fonts problem turned out to be an Obscure Thai language setting deep in the registry.
the new Navigator is quicker loading pages than IE but has little else to recommend it. More on this when the official release is out.
Timestamp: December 7, 1999
More on new new 5.0029somethingsomething Outlook Express
It is now Fatter. When replying it must dig into the swap file before keystrokes start showing up and we have a 5 second pause. NOTE: this is not just OE5, any HTML form now digs the KEYBOARD HANDLER out of the swap file before proceeding.
32 meg is no longer enough memory.
They have managed to lose that useful, almost unnoticed, facility of populating the subject line with the subject line of the original when you reply to a message. Now I must cut and paste. That particular whiz-bang piece of technology goes back to the prehistory of text only emailing. The only bit of new stuff is apparently a button on the news section. Still can't talk to Hotmail. Thanks guys.
BTW,,, the proper method for getting updates on anything from Micros~1 on a dialup line is to start it up and Do Not Touch the machine in any way, especially don't run another application. Assume its gonna crash if you breathe hard. Just sit there and wait for the thing to finish. Micro~1 apparently believes in megabyte chunks. Way back when there were download utilities that could pick up at the same point they left off. Is time and Redmond running in reverse?
IE50.00.2919ect
I was happy with the old one :-(((. Page rendering seems a touch faster. However, we have a new feature called Illegal Operation. This puts a little complaining box up that will not go away until you reboot your machine. This I don't need. No way to get rid of it though. Twice a week I can live with. maybe.
Timestamp: December 24, 1999
Recently I was at the micros~1 update page grabbing something useful like the Japanese IDE or something. Don't remember what exactly, nevermind because those sneaky little devils pulled an upgrade off right under my nose (and with mentioning it, either). The OE5 problem with the subject line is now fixed. As is the message rules problem.
Timestamp: April 30, 1999

The Button Bin

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good things worth the time and space     
Apache Webserver
works nicely on Win98 software for the unweary and unwashed, good
stuff, but too much of it and Impossible to get off their mailing list Good news and usually valuable comments See my Wallpaper! Amaya is a WYSIWIG HTML editor from Wc3 Mensa
useless but impressive mozilla has turned into a Gekko.  Will size matter? Good FREE Web Hosting
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