Showing posts from January, 2010

Laptop with two external screens

I use my laptop as my primary work/study/home PC. The laptop itself has a fairly small 13.3" screen but compensates with a high resolution of 1440x900. At work I also have a 17" Dell desktop LCD with a native res of 1280x1024. I've been using this as an external second monitor for a full year now. Doing this is simple enough, just plug in the VGA cable into the laptop's VGA port, hit WinKey+X in Windows 7, choose connect display and select extended desktop.
Extending the desktop on two screens allows you to move application windows between the screens freely, so you could have say Firefox open and maximized on the external screen and Microsoft Word open and maximized on the laptop screen. The productivity gains from doing this are quite significant. Instead of having to Alt+Tab between applications you can just move your gaze from left to right. This doesn't sound like much, after-all hitting Alt+Tab only takes about half a second. Switching gaze however is far l…

Minimalistic Ubuntu Virtual Machine with VirtualBox on Win 7

I've been meaning to create a minimalistic Linux Virtual Machine that I can clone and adapt to particular needs for a while now and today I finally got around to doing it: Download VirtualBox from here (free for personal use).Download an Ubuntu Minimal CD Instal iso from here (I used 9.10 x32).Open VirtualBox and create a New virtual machine by following the prompts (I gave mine 384MB RAM and a 7GB dynamic disk (this is the MAX size)).Once the VM is created, click on settings and tweak whatever you like. Select to mount your Ubuntu ISO in the storage area.Start the VM and at the Ubuntu installer boot: prompt type cli and press enter.Follow the installer wizard selecting appropriate values (I selected to install on entire HD with no LVM).Once the installation is complete, unmount the ISO and restart the VM.Once at the Ubuntu terminal:>>sudo gedit /etc/apt/apt.conf----ACQUIRE {http::proxy "http://username:password@proxy:port/"}>>sudo aptitude install xorg ---(th…

Windows 7 Hard Disk Thrashing

I recently noticed my Windows 7 HTPC has been spending a lot of time doing 'something' with the hard drive, but I had no idea what. That is, the hard disk activity light would keep flickering constantly and you could hear the disk churning away. This also resulted in choppy Live TV playback as the HD needs to be used to record & play simultaneously.

I tried disabling Microsoft Security Essentials, turned off the disk defrag service and SuperFetch. Restarted several times for good measure as well but problem persisted. I then opened up the Resource Monitor and had a close look at the Disk tab. This shows a list of processes and their real-time hard disk read and write data rates.

Sorting by read speed I noticed many instances of wmpnetwk.exe. The disk activity pane showed that this program was opening up a lot of my mp3 music files. A quick Google search revealed that this is the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. This is used to stream music and videos to other d…

rm - too many arguments

I was trying to delete about 55,000 files in an Ubuntu directory the other day. Something along the lines of:

rm -f *

This failed with a "too many arguments" error. The root-cause of this seems to be a little involved, but the simple one-line workaround is:

find ./ -name '*' -print0 | xargs -0 rm

Google Nexus One Released

The highly hyped Google Nexus One phone has finally been revealed today and is now available for purchase directly from That is, if you live in the US, UK, Hong Kong or Singapore. The rest of the world misses out for the time being as Google will not ship to other regions (although some imports are sure to trickle through).
Google has stated that they're looking to expand this to Verizon in the US (it's all about the US) and Vodafone in UK/Europe in the near future. No word as to other regions just yet, but it appears what Google is trying to do is enhance the public presence of Android and increase general public awareness.
That is, Google is offering to sell Android phones directly through their web-pages where customers can choose one of many Android models from different manufacturers and one of many different carriers available in their region, or outright unlocked. The Nexus One (HTC) will be just one of many. Likewise, T-Mobile, Verizon and Vodaf…

Microsoft Office 2010 Free Beta

The Microsoft Office 2010 Professional FREE beta is now publicly available for everyone to download. Whilst trying to install this I got an error message stating that "An Office 2003 installation on your computer is corrupted and setup cannot continue. Remove or repair Office 2003 product and re-run setup." This was on my Windows 7 Pro x64 laptop.
I did indeed have Office 2003 installed but I had removed it via the control panel Add/Remove programs before running the downloaded Office 2010 beta. I then tried the Microsoft Office Removal Wizard utility which deleted a whole bunch of other files and assured me no Office 2003 remnants were left but the error persisted (be careful with this tool as it will delete everything in your c:/temp or any-other-drive/temp folder, Office related or not).
Turns out the cause was Visio 2003 which is also part of the Office lineup but is installed and removed as a separate product. After uninstalling Visio 2003 the Office 2010 installer worke…