Archive for March, 2005

Optimized Firefox

Firefox is great, but IE is definitely faster. In response to this, you may find that an version of firefox specifically compiled to use all features of your processor may help it run a little quicker. Try these out:



In this day and age of high-speed internet, we’re all used to downloading multi-megabyte programs, sometimes vanishing into the hundreds of megabytes, so it’s always good to find something small that’s useful. XMPlay is such a tool. It’s a music player that has the ability to play MP3, OGG, WMA files, along with most other music formats you can find. All in a 300k ZIP file. Sweet.

Being small, you’d think it was feature lacking, but it has all the essentials: skinable, equalizer, playlist management, http streaming; even Winamp plugin support for all your favorite visualizations or to add support for any other file formats. The audio quality is also very good, with neat features like auto level adjustment for listening to those tracks recorded from different CDs – although you might need to enable 32bit processing, 48kHz sampling etc in the options to make it sound its best.

My favorite skin is ‘silk’, which allows it to slip into an area about the size of a titlebar, and sit always-on-top at the top of the screen. Best of all, it’s free, so click here to enjoy:


Amazing – Tiger iChat

While I don’t have a Mac, I want one. As a life long PC user, I’ve been stuck in the Windows world, but that will soon change. The reason? Mac OS X 10.4 – ‘Tiger’.

Apple have released previews of some of the new features, which include a new search system, improved web browser, email client, etc. My favorite has to be the iChat demo:

That is very slick, full screen video across the world with virtually no latency, all due to the h.264 video codec built into QuickTime 7. No video conferencing looks that good on the PC. Anywhere. Yes, in part it’s due to the iSight camera (640×480 autofocusing CCD), but it’s also due to excellent product design.

Rumor has it that Apple will announce Tiger in April, and if they decide to offer free upgrades on all Macs purchased from then to Tiger, I will be buying.


Fifth Gear to buy

Well finally the TV companies are taking some interest in the fact that some of us would pay to download TV: Slashdot article

Having visited the download site, I have some comments:

– The files are only segments of a program

This may seem like being pedantic, but I don’t watch sections of a program, I like to enjoy 30 minutes of saturated humour etc that can temporarily make me forget work etc. The TV companies need to learn to supply what there is demand for.

– The quality is rubbish (please use DivX!)

WMV. Yuck. Not only was the quality dire, but the codecs are non-standard. A large part of the world wants the freedom to use a file in whatever way they want when they’ve purchased it. That means on Linux, Max OSX, PDA etc. I would never in a billion years buy a .WMV file. Ever. Not if it was my favourite show. AVI file encoded with DivX, yes.

– The site was really slow to download from (probably the slashdot effect)

Speed is not actually essential. Providing a good download mechanism (think multi-platform before creating some Windows DRM rubbish) exists then I don’t mind if the file takes a day to download. You might want to embrace something like bittorrent though. Provided the tracker is protected as your purchase mechanism, then put the files out there in a way that users help you distribute the videos.

Congrats for giving it ago though.


Nice kettle

eBay kettle



From Google (don’t think it matters which one, just need to search the web) type in:
“french military victories” (without quotes…) and click “I feel lucky” button.


Flexible File Renamer

This is a bit of software I almost wrote until I found this: Flexible File Renamer. It’s a neat little tool that simple allows you to rename files in bulk. This means if you download files named like 01_XYZ-BOB.MP3, 02_ABC-BOB.MP3 etc, you can really easily rename them all by applying common changes (replacements, case changes etc.) to a set of files. You have a preview of the change you are making before it is applied for safety. And while the site looks Japanese, the program runs in English file.


Comcast problems

Usually reliable, have today had the worst day of their life, at least around the Atlanta, GA area.

The net is up and down like a yo-yo. All day, every few minutes.

Oddly enough, my Vonage phone has stayed up all day. Most odd. Calls have even been able to come in when I cannot browse the web. I thought their problems might be DNS related at first, but direct pinging of IP addresses doesn’t work, so it’s not that.

Perhaps it’s something to do with their odd routing system they have just put in place: all net traffic is routed through a router of unknown description with a private address (



This is the first of many posts, where I will list essential, free software. I will never post details on anything that has spyware in, and only things that I find useful and work 100% reliably.

RegScrubXP is a neat little tool for cleaning out your registry. It will scan your PC and registry and remove registry keys that are no longer useful, potentially offering a very tiny performance gain.

Download page


Interesting article

13 things that do not make sense

Phrases like “It’s an embarrassing hole in our understanding. Astronomical observations suggest that dark matter must make up about 90 per cent of the mass in the universe, yet we are astonishingly ignorant what that 90 per cent is.”


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