Compaq Evo Notebook N610c

Compaq Evo N610c The Yahoo! IS department delivered a Compaq Evo N610c laptop to my desk today. My almost-3-year-old IBM Thinkpad 390X has been sent off to the place where All Good Laptops Go To Die.

I had been schlepping the IBM 390X from LAX to SJC pretty much every week since fall of 2002. About 6 months after I got it, the internal 56K modem stopped working. Being modem-less was not such a big deal at home (I’ve got broadband), but turned out to be a pain in the neck when I really needed to check email while travelling. Then about a year later, the CD-ROM drive stopped working. Pretty crappy, but I resorted to sticking CDs in Ariella’s computer and mounting them over the network.

Recently, the battery stopped charging. I could get about 7 or 8 minutes out of it before I needed to plug it in again. At that point, it essentially stopped being a laptop (I couldn’t use it on the plane anymore) and started just being a portable computer. So I finally put in a request for repair or replacement, and the IS department opted for replacement.

I’ve had this shiny new replacement for all of 3 hours, and I’m already set up with Cygwin and GNU Emacs. But there’s still one burning issue I need to resolve: how do I disable the Touchpad? It’s got both the eraser-nub pointer (which I absolutely love) between the G, H, and B keys, but it’s also got a trackpad/touchpad that I’ll never use.

I went to the Control Panel (Windows 2000, by the way, even though there’s a sticker on it that says “Designed for Microsoft Windows XP”) and chose Mouse but there are no Touchpad options. There are 4 tabs that say Buttons, Pointers, Motion, and Hardware. But nothing that lets me disable the Touchpad (or turn off the tap-to-click feature). Any ideas? Maybe I’ll call the IS help-line.

[Update: JR had the right solution. It’s a CMOS setting, so you’ve gotta reboot the box and hit F10 to turn off the Touchpad. Hurrah!]

big@boss.com virus

I just got another email from big@boss.com which looks to me like a virus. This is the 3rd or 4th in a couple of days. So I went to both Symantec‘s and McAfee‘s anti-virus pages, and didn’t turn up anything.

Then I tried a Yahoo! search for “big@boss.com virus”. Nothing. For kicks, I tried a Google search for “big@boss.com virus” but that turned up no search results, either.

Google AdWords to the rescue

But wait a minute: on the right-hand side of the Google search results, I saw an advertisement that looked like this:

SoBig Virus Information
big@boss.com emails may contain a
virus attachment. News and Links.
bcstx.com/sobig.htm
Interest:

Someone bought an ad on Google to help spread the word faster than the Google search engine can index pages about the virus! That’s really generous of them! They should add a PayPal donations button to their page. (No such helpful advertisements were found on the Yahoo! search results.)

Hunting around a little further, it appears that this is the W32.Sobig.A@mm virus (the subject line of Re: Movies and attachment of Document003.pif matches what I’ve been getting). But no mention of big@boss.com on the Symantec page. Bizarre.

Recapping the scores: Symantec 0, McAffee 0, Yahoo! 0, Overture 0. Google AdWords: 1.

A leaner version of the Yahoo! homepage

Yahoo! Search There’s a mean, lean version of the Yahoo! homepage. If you pull up search.yahoo.com in a web browser, you’ll get a bare-bones page with no ads. It’s even got the nifty little trick to put the cursor in the search box.

The total page weight (HTML + Images + JavaScript) comes in at 10.3K, which is actually lighter than www.google.com (12.3K). Both of these load faster than the 33K www.yahoo.com home page if you’re using a 56K modem.

Now, if only there was a way to skip the banner ads in the search results…

=rand(2,5)

Reading the most recent copy of PC Magazine, I stumbled across an article called Generating Dummy Text in Word. I gave it a shot this morning, and sure enough, it worked:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Although it’s nifty to have such a tool on your desktop, I much prefer the web-based Lorem Ipsum Generator, which uses a time-tested formula for page-filling text. Anyone who has ever worked for Adobe knows that “Lorem Ipsum” has been a favorite of typographic professionals for the past 500 years.

While we’re on the loosely-related subject of pangrams:

  • How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts?
  • Cozy lummox gives smart squid who asks for job pen.

Got any other favorites?

Palm Zire

palm-zire.jpg I bought a Palm Zire at Fry’s Electronics last night. It was on sale for $89.

I lost my trusty old Palm V in November and have been miserable without it for the past 6 weeks. One of the reasons it took me so long to get a replacement was that I saw it as an opportunity to purchase some hot new technology. I toyed with the idea of getting a Dell Axim X5 for a while since I’ve been meaning to play with a handheld Microsoft OS, but I already know the Palm Desktop user interface and I’m too lazy to learn how to use Outlook. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks and all.

In the end, there’s nothing hot or new about the Zire. It’s a monochrome device with a wimpy 2MB of RAM and has absolutely no expansion capability whatsoever. The other extreme would’ve been to go with the Tungsten, but it’s kinda absurd to spend more on a handheld than you do on a desktop computer.

Busy at work this week

I’m in the SF Bay Area this week for work and I’m really busy. I don’t even have time to write anything amusing for my blog.

Now that I’m officially a pointy-haired (in the Dilbert sense) manager-type, there are lots of meetings. Some intersting new projects are on the plate for the coming year.

Speaking of the coming year, it will be interesting to see if 2003 is the year that Yahoo! Engineering really starts to move en masse to PHP, or whether properties will wait until 2004, when our infrastructure group cuts off support for yScript.

Adding content previews to MT Main Index

mt-logo-small.gif I’ve got a 30-second improvement to the Main Index template for MovableType. In the Recent Entries section on the right-hand column, I have added HTML title=”…” attibutes so you can get a sneak preview of the content before you click.

I simply changed this:


<a

href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryTitle$></a><br />

to this:


<a

title="[<$MTEntryDate format="%x"$>] <$MTEntryExcerpt$>"

href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryTitle$></a><br />

If you’ve got a modern web browser, simply hover over the links and the first few words of the entry will appear in a tooltip.