Category Archives: You-Asked

You asked: Linksys WPSM54G

My WPS54G just died yesterday: this is a Linksys (nee Cisco) Printerserver that supports a whole slew of USB based printers. I had it tied up to my Canon MF5650 printer and if I remember correctly, installing was as easy as.

So, to the local computer grocery chain where they only had the WPSM54G (Linksys info page) for a price of 89.99 CDN. The sad part was that we had to look for the device because obviously, not too many people will buy these printer servers. That is probably because most printers nowadays come with an ethernet connection. Additionally, installing printer servers can be confusing and I suspect many people will just give up after a couple of tries.

Here’s my first tip: You do not need to install the Linksys drivers or software. On all your local computers that need to have access to the printer, you only need the proper printer drivers and most likely you already installed those drivers.

So, here goes again:

  • Wire up the device up to your network. By default it will automatically get an IP address (DHCP): it shouldn’t be too hard to find it on the network.
  • Open up the ip address in your favourite webbrowser: leave the username empty and enter the default password (“password”).
  • Set the IP address to a static IP address, change the password and set the wireless router properties. Here comes something that got me stuck first. For some reason, it’s supposed to work on wireless and not on wired. I have not been able to get it to work on both: so, make sure you set the proper gateway and credentials to your router. After you installed the firmware, take out the wired ethernet cable.
  • Make sure you get the latest update of the firmware: 1014 is so shoddy that it didn’t detect my Canon printer. Version 1019, made the difference for me.
  • At this stage, it should be time to start setting up your Windows machines and the principle is the same as described in the posting regarding the WPS54G, that is in 5 easy steps: 0. Add Printer 1. Local Printer… (uncheck auto detection) 2. Create a new port (TCP/IP) 3. Enter IP address (generic network card) 4. Select the proper printer and you should be go.

Afterthoughts: We had tried to print pages on our old printer server the day before and the moment the 1019 update was applied, these prints made it through. Note that I used the same IP address for the new server: so the moment the printer started spitting out pages from yesterday, I knew that the printer should be working, despite what the Linksys software suggested to me (“No Printer found, LOL, try again”). In short, the software is extremely lacking here and you can take my advice above at heart: There’s no need to install that Linksys crap load. Make note of the printer support page though (if you have a multi-functional printer…)

You asked: Creative Live 24-bits review

A couple of yearsCreative Live 24-bits ago, I bought a Creative Live 24-bit USB, after finding out that my latest computer’s soundcard did not include a wave-out mixer. The logical choice was to find an external USB soundcard and luckily I didn’t have to go too far (or dig too deep in my wallet). Two years ago, the Live’s went for around the 100 dollars (Canadian): nowadays they go for a lot less (the Creative site even has them listed between 45-50 dollars US). However, they’re generally considered to be an older generation of soundcards: Creative now solely focusses on selling you the X-Fi line of soundcards, which also includes a portable USB version, for a reasonable price.

But back to the Live!: It’s powered by USB, which saves you from having to use one ugly brick of an adapter. The device itself isn’t too big but is definitely not ‘wallet-sized': it feels sturdy enough to tag along and throw around the room. Installation of software and drivers is needed, of course, and this is where my main criticism comes in: I’m generally not so impressed with Creative’s software and the same is true for the software that comes with this card. To be frank: I’ve never actually used the software because there are generally better alternatives available to mix sound and create music files (I use Audacity for this). The default Windows Mixer is replaced with the one from Creative and it’s even in use when the card is not plugged in. So, don’t expect the typical USB behaviour of ‘plug-in anytime anywhere': if you’ve unplugged the Live and plug it back in, most likely you need to restart you computer to have your Live! sound come back (obviously, the box doesn’t come with a reset/on/off button of sorts).

The most important part of a soundcard is the sound of course: This is excellent and doesn’t disappoint. I’ve read that some people heard ‘clicking noises’ over time, but at this time the Live is still doing good. The MIDI sound handling is a bit poor, but if you don’t expect Roland SoundCanvas quality you may be able to get away with it. The card is also properly detected by many of the MID/DAW software packages out there: however, in some cases, you may need to poke through specific settings to get your MIDI In/Out going. Another nitpick is that the Live! doesn’t really have an ‘Audio in’ facility: this is actually shared with the Mic-in (The manual states this too, but I only discovered this after the fact of course).

So, if you’ve managed to find the USB version of the Live! online and you just discovered that your laptop doesn’t have a Wave Mixer, then the Live! is a good buy. If you have more money in your budget, and are a so-called audiofreak who likes to brag about the latest and greatest 7-1 Dolby system, you may want to consider investing in something else.

Minor update: I managed to get the card working on KDE too, but obviously you need to go through a lot more steps to get it actually going.

Update 2: This is probably a related post, using VirtuAmp (guitar plugged right in the box).

You asked: Windows+applications+laptop

Obviously, a lot of people prefer buying laptops nowadays and the question ‘Which+applications+install+laptop+windows’ pops up regularly in the Apache logs at this domain. I’m not providing links to the applications (or will use links sparingly, I guess). I assume you know how to use Google.

Internet

  • Email – Thunderbird (and RoundAbout): Thunderbird is the logical choice for your POP3 and IMAP addiction. RoundAbout I still use to read all my older archived mails and may (or may not) work for you. Disclaimer: I was a member of the RoundAbout developers team. (open-source)
  • Web – Firefox, Opera and Safari (in that order): Firefox 2 is currently my default browser. Opera and Safari I regularly use to check for errors in CSS.
  • SSH, SCP and FTP: There’s only one good SSH client and that is PuTTy. This is actually one of the first applications I install on new computers. And while you’re at it: you may just as well download WinSCP. I think Alfons introduced me to SCP, like in, a long time ago. Currently, I don’t use any FTP client except for the command-line ones that come with either your Windows (ftp) and Unix system. I’m quite comfortable with the command line, thank you very much.
  • Communciation: I’m not a big fan of messenging and online communication, but yes, I do install Skype on my computers.

Media

  • ISO/CD/DVD: I use ImgBurn extensively. If I’m not wrong, the program uses some open/sourced/infamous/legendary applications underneath the screens.
  • Video: Because most AVIs I have are encoded in Div-X format, I install the DivX encoder/player, grudgingly. I have an aversion for Windows Media Player and I generally use Media Player Classic.
  • Audio: Audacity for editing and converting audiofiles to MP3 or OGG formats. As a reminder, if you download Audacity, don’t forget to download the LAME encoder.
  • Graphics: The GIMP (which is open-sourced, as you may have already found out). There are a lot of people who are impressed with Paint.Net. I haven’t tried it, really. For conversion to different (graphic) formats, you may consider Irfanview (freeware). I also use Picasa for (simple) management of my JPG photos.

Tools

  • Development: This ranges from the C# Express edition to SharpDevelop. Also, WinCVS comes to mind. Yes, I know a lot of people shudder at the thought of WinCVS. I use HelioSQL.Net for my SQL stuff. If you need to test and install test databases, you may consider installing SQLite and Postgres. Also, NSIS. TinyHexer (Hex-editor).
  • Office: OpenOffice, hands down.
  • Password management: I use KeePass, which is a great application with an unfortunate name.

I guess, that’s most of it.

You asked: heathrow+how+much+time+needed…

Actually the complete search query was ‘heathrow +how+ much +time+ needed+to+go+ through+customs+and +retrieve+luggage +for+connecting+flight’. For that, the searchee ended up somewhere at January’s entries on my travels to Europe.

(Note this only applies to travellers who booked connecting flights on different carriers) My personal experience is that you need approximately 2 hours if you have don’t have any luggage on you: add an another extra hour if you need to wait for your luggage. Additionally, if you’re a European citizen (that is, if you have a passport from a country that is part of the EU), you may have a slight advantage going through customs since European citizens can go through an ‘express customs lane’. A couple of years ago, on my first return trip to Europe, my wife accidentally joined me in the lineup for European citizens (instead of going through the International visitors lane) and she was (kindly) reminded that she was in the wrong lane.

When you pass through Customs, make sure you verify the Terminal of your connecting flight. If you’re coming from an international flight (ie, a flight from North America), you probably will need to head for Terminal 1, which means you’ll have to take the train. Time is tight here: After Customs, go through Arrivals and directly turn left: I ended up taking the wrong turn and found myself in a mass of people who were waiting for loved ones. In any case look for the sign ‘Heathrow Express’.

If you’ve arrived at the Departure Terminal (1 or 2), the worst part is yet to come up: you have to check-in again and yes, it’s extremely crowded and busy. Worst yet, there’s security after check-in (30-45 minutes!) plus count on an extra additional luggage check at the departure gate. But if you’ve made it to the departure gate, you can (safely) catch breath.

You asked: Satellite A100-TA9 review

ThereThe A100-TA9 we go again: you ask and I’ll take a look at it.

To start right off: It appears that Toshiba has been rushing to get laptops out before the official Vista release, last week. Their current A100 high-end laptop (the VA-9) features almost exactly the same case (the black/silver coloured one) but comes with slighly different hardware: for example the VA9 comes with a T5500 processor, while the TA9 has a T5600. Both are (as you probably know) Duo Core 2 processors (wikipedia). Other slight differences between the two is that the VA9 apparently comes with a 200 Gig harddrive, while the TA9 comes with ‘only’ 160 gig: additionally, the VA9 comes with Windows Vista Home Premium. Since the TA9 is basically a slightly older model (Fall 2006), it comes with Windows XP (or Media Center, generally). You may (or you may not) consider upgrading to Windows Vista (as discussed here).

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You asked: Sharp+Develop+ODBC+example

I had that question appear in my logs a couple of times, and I assume, these are (beginning) .Net developers who want to have examples of accessing database servers via ODBC in C#. If you thought this was going to be ‘plain and simple, drag and drop in Visual Studio’ (or SharpDevelop), you are partly wrong. As in everything in programming, you end up doing a lot of coding yourself because of certain limitations.

First of all, Visual Studio 2005 (SharpDevelop might) by default does not have the (visual) ODBC controls installed in the ‘Toolbox’. You need to add them yourself (there should be 4 of them). After doing that, you’ll find out that using these ‘visual’ controls is not as ‘visual as that fancy commercial promised’. Worse, you read in the Framework documentation that:

While the OdbcDataReader is being used, the associated OdbcConnection is busy serving the OdbcDataReader, and no other operations can be performed on the OdbcConnection other than closing it

Or:

Due to the limitations of native ODBC drivers, only one DataTable is ever returned when you call FillSchema. This is true even when executing SQL batch statements from which multiple DataTable objects would be expected.

There’s generally two ways to get and retrieve data using the .Net 2.0 Framework: the first one is to use the earlier mentioned DataReader, the second one is the ‘in-memory cache’ DataSet/DataTable. Most of time, you’ll end up using a combination of both: when there’s lots of data involved you may want to skip the DataSet and go for the DataReader (wrap it in an object for example). If you want to keep data in memory and want to keep connections open (persistent), you may want to keep close attention to the first quote I mentioned above.

But the good stuff is right here (warning: untested code ahead! All disclaimers apply). If you’re not into programming, you may want to skip this:

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You asked: Toshiba laptop Vista upgrade

From the logfiles, the inevitable question about the (supposed to be free) Vista upgrade. That is if you bought your laptop before October 2006: Canadian Toshiba users (and there are apparently a lot of them1) interested in a ‘free’ Express update should probably go to this link. The follow-through link requires quite some information from you, from model number to computer id. The pages following that link will also ask you to send your kids, pets and the name of the colour of your underwear to a special Microsoft Windows Vista Express Upgrade address in Utah. OK, how about Nova Scotian tartan. That’s a colour, right?2

For some kind of reason, Toshiba’s ‘Ten reasons why you should upgrade’ make me laugh. But I will resist making a snark, since I’m obviously a content user of this particular brand (Although I agree that Vaios look better).

1 During my travels earlier, I saw a lot of Canadians walking around with Toshiba laptops, particularly around Heathrow (earlier at xsamplex).
2 Obviously it’s not: it’s a plaid but for convenience sake, lets pretend it is a colour, like say, closely resembling black.

You asked: CreatMapFile & Pascal

From the logfile, a Polish person looking for CreateFileMapping, most likely using Delphi. The WIN32 API function is generally used in conjunction with ‘MapViewOfFile’. You’d generally use memory mapped files when you run into a TStringList limitation. At this stage, you’d probably cursing the Delphi implementors.

Your first step is to create the filemap like this:

// fileMapHandle = THandle, filehandler = integer. Choose your mapping
// protection appropriately (in this case I used page_readonly
fileMapHandle := CreateFileMapping(filehandler, nil, 
  page_readonly, 0, 0, nil)

Verify if a handle was returned (you probably also want to use GetLastError). Your next step is to actually map the file to an address using MapViewOfFile. It is probably handy to learn about PChars at this stage (note this is an example that comes from Fandro: in this case the ‘magic search’ happens in a function called ‘SetData’):

  // size == integer.
  if fileMapHandle <> 0 then
    SetData(MapViewOfFile(fileMapHandle,
      file_map_read,0,0,0),size)

When done processing, don’t forget to close (any) open handles:

  CloseHandle(fileMapHandle);

And that’s it!

You asked: Thanksgiving in SQL

From the logs: how do you calculate Thanksgiving in MS SQL? For that, first a background reminder from Wikipedia. There are of course two kinds of Thanksgiving: A Canadian one (which is the second Monday of October) and the US one (the 4th week of November). The good news is that I’ve got the queries right here, so you can copy and paste it right in your SQL code.

The Canadian one is the base query: basically, I pick out the first Monday of October first and add 1 extra week to it:

select DATEADD(wk, 1, 
    DATEADD(wk, 
      DATEDIFF(wk,0,
      CONVERT(datetime, '10/01/' 
       + cast(DATEPART(yy, getdate()) as varchar(4)), 
       101) ), 0
           ) )

The US query is based on the one above: First I get the very first Monday of November, I add 3 days to that, and add another 3 weeks to the last DateAdd function, et voila.

select DATEADD(ww, 3,
     DATEADD(
     dd, 3,
     DATEADD(wk, 0, 
    DATEADD(wk, 
      DATEDIFF(wk,0,
      CONVERT(datetime, '11/01/' 
       + cast(DATEPART(yy, getdate()) as varchar(4)), 
       101) ), 0
           ) ) ))

Mind the bad code formatting.

You asked: most difficult shoot’em ups

Without a doubt, that would be Salamander, a Konami game released in 1986 (wikipedia). I played the game on an MSX-2 home computer and I actually tried to beat it last year (that older entry has a screenshot plus original sound!).

There are a couple of reasons why I think that game is so hard:

  • The game can be played with two players simultaneously, which shows: there’s so much action going on all over the screen that it is sometimes impossible to break through stages without any help.
  • The game features multi-directional scrolling in all stages.
  • There’s a frequent change of view: in most stages, you ‘fly from left to right’, however, there are 2 or 3 stages that shows your ‘ship’ from a birdsview.
  • ‘Yo Save Games are for losers’. There are no save games in Salamander. You’re supposed to beat the game. And you start with only 3 lives.

That said, I beat the game: However, if you plan to play it (there’s plenty of MSX emulators around nowadays), make sure you buy the right joystick. The game is all about counting.

I read that the Wikipedia article states that the MSX version contained way longer stages. Yeah: like if I didn’t know.

You asked: How to find count between two dates mssql

Oh: that age old problem. It depends on what you’re looking for? Years, days? Milliseconds?

/* Days */
select DATEDIFF(D, getdate(), '10/11/06');
select DATEDIFF(Y, getdate(), '10/01/02');

You may need to be careful with using year calculations: obviously MS SQL does not take in account the actual number of months that elapsed during year calculations. So, if you do the datediff for the dates ’10/11/06′ and ‘/12/01/03′, the result is definitely not ‘3’ .

Calculating dates in PostgreSQL is actually easier, where you can use constructs like ‘date ‘2001-10-01′ – date ‘2001-09-28”.

As an aside: you may have struggled with getting the MSQL Developer Edition to run on your high powered laptop. The DE comes with the free install of any of Microsoft Express editions of C#, C++ or Basic. In my case, a couple of months ago, I decided to turn off the automatic ‘start’ options for both SQLExpress and SQL Server Browser. To test the above code, I decided to run the above services, but found out that activating them did not get me connected to anything. Well: not MS SQL.

  • Open to the SQL Server Configuration Manager
  • Go to SQL Server 2005 Network configuration
  • Click Protocols for SQLEXPRESS
  • Enable TCP/IP
  • Restart both (earlier) mentioned services.
  • Go to ODBC Datasources manager.
  • Create a new datasource, select SQL NATIVE CLIENT (yes, you heard it here first). You should see the SQLEXPRESS (or whatever your computer’s name is) in that Server combobox.
  • Use your Windows Logon user/password combination to complete the rest of the setup.

Yeah. Really.

You asked: Lyrics “The People are heroes now”

So you wanted to know the lyrics of ‘The People are heroes now’ and you stumbled on a rant about Civ 4 (I’m still trying to find out about the performance details of that specific track in the game). I forgot to mention that it comes from John Adams’ opera ‘Nixon in China’ (wikipedia). Note, generally if you look for lyrics for operas (or fragments of songs in an opera), include the word ‘libretto’ to your search. You would probably get better results than the one posting you came up with on this site. But without further ado:

The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow
The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow
The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow

When we look up
the fields are white
the fields are white with harvest in the morning light
And mountain ranges one by one
rise red beneath our harvest moon
And mountain ranges one by one
Rise red beneath our harvest moon
Rise red beneath our harvest moon
When we look up
the mountain ranges rise beneath,
the moon and fields are white

The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow
The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow
The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow

The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow
The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow
The people are heroes now, the behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow

See also the Civ 4 entries on this site