A Mind Lost

Anything and everything.

David Berlinski makes an ass of himself defending intelligent design

Originally posted on Why Evolution Is True:

I know of no critic of evolution—perhaps save the late William F. Buckley, Jr.—who is at once so eloquent and so ignorant as David Berlinski.  The man has spent years attacking evolutionary biology and defending intelligent design (ID), and is, to my knowledge, the only living creationist who is not religious. (He claims to be an agnostic, though I have trouble believing that.) He’s also a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, a position reserved for only the Highest Poo-Bahs of Ignorance.

Yesterday, at the Discovery Institute’s News and Views site, Berlinski wrote “Majestic Ascent: Berlinski on Darwin on Trial,” a post apparently designed to fête the twentieth anniversary of Phillip Johnson’s execrable Darwin on Trial: the book that launched the ID movement.  Johnson’s book is full of inaccuracies and lies (I use the word deliberately, because no honest scholar could make the claims that he did).  And…

View original 1,646 more words

PDFCreator

It’s been many a long year since I’ve had a physical printer connected to my computer; instead, I’ve been using PDFCreator as a virtual printer, the output of which I can then send off to the real printer connected to another household computer if necessary.

Unfortunately, the developers started included some pretty shitty “extra” software in 2009.  Over the years they’ve changed what crapware is installed, but never removed it entirely.  So, on to the point of this post – installing PDFCreator v1.6.2 (current as of March 2013) without any extra crap.

pdfcreator_01

pdfcreator_02


pdfcreator_03


pdfcreator_04

This is the point where one really needs to start paying attention.  I unselect Images2PDF and PDFArchitect, because I (initially) had no freaking clue what they are and was installing a virtual printer, not a kitchen sink.  Incidentally, Images2PDF supposedly lets you make a PDF out of images, and PDFArchitect looks like a PDF editor of sorts.  But with no description in the installer, the average user will have no idea.

pdfcreator_05

I also unselect the COM samples option, and ensure only the English language translation and help file are installed.

pdfcreator_06

After selecting what parts of PDFCreator will be installed, we come to the disingenuous part of the installer.  It’s deceptive that “Express” is marked as recommended, and the “Custom installation” option is grayed out (which implies it’s not selectable at all).  Adding “(advanced)” is the icing on the lame-cake; it’s a sure-fire way to scare off the general computer user.
pdfcreator_07

Select the “Custom installation (advanced)” option, and uncheck each of the previous hidden boxes.
pdfcreator_08

But wait, there’s more!  As if avoiding one round of crapware wasn’t enough, we’re presented with a second!  The wording “I accept” and “I do not accept” are again deceptive.  Just select “I do not accept” and move along.

pdfcreator_09

Triple check the options listed, ensuring just the components desired are installed.

pdfcreator_10

I don’t have a problem with software developers, even Open Source developers, trying to make a buck off their work.  Generosity and a desire to share doesn’t put food in your belly.  But being disingenuous and deceptive not the right way to try to earn a few dollars.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found an acceptable alternative that delivers the functionality of PDFCreator that I desire.  I’ve been meaning to dig out a copy of Visual Studio and see if I couldn’t roll a crapless installer based on the available source code, but just never seem to get around to it (and have completely forgotten what little I knew of VB anyway).

Uninstalling the Sentinel License Service (hasplms)

One of the (many) things I absolutely hate is when, during the installation of a program, a ton of other crap is silently installed beside it without any warning or indications.

I just noticed a new service, “hasplms.exe”, running.  I have no idea where it came from or what installed it.  I did give Lightworks a spin yesterday (not impressed), as well as my lengthy ordeal attempting to install Tomb Raider Anniversary which I complained about in my last post, maybe one of them install it… but I dunno.

With no idea where it came from, and no uninstaller to be found, I turned to the Internet.  It didn’t take long to find a YouTube video illustrating the uninstall process, and it was surprisingly pain-free.  From hasp.com/srm (which redirects to sentinelcustomer.safenet-inc.com/sentineldownloads/) download the command line run-time installer and run it as

haspdinst.exe -purge

And it looks like the service’s gone, without me having to rage and fume about yet another bit of computer BS.  Now I just have to see if anything breaks…

*Update 2013/10/18*

A few comments have prompted me to provide slightly more explicit instructions, with pictures.  Anywhere you see my name (Andrew), expect instead to see your name (or whatever the name of the account you are using is).

First, downloading the software:

Sentinal001-WebSite

Open the Downloads folder, or wherever you saved the file to, and right click on the downloaded file.  Click on “Extract All…”.

Sentinel002-DownloadandExtract

A window will open, asking where you want to extract the files from.  Remove the highlighted part.

Sentinel003-Extract1

This is the path we want the downloaded files extracted to.  Again, if your name’s not Andrew, that part of the path will be different.

Sentinel004-Extract2

Returning to the window that was showing us the Downloads folder, you’ll see the newly created folder.

Sentinel005-ExtractedFolder

Ensure that the “haspdinst” program was properly extracted, if you must.

Sentinel006-Files

Now you must open a “Command Prompt”.  You can do this in various ways, but for now just use the Start Menu.

Sentinel007-OpenCommandPrompt

Your command prompt window may not look exactly like this; I use it fairly frequently, and so have resized and customized it to suit my uses.  Also, be aware that I run Windows with UAC permanently disabled.  I don’t know if UAC will interfere with this process.  If it does, you’ll have to look in to running the command prompt with elevated privileges.

Sentinel008-CommandPrompt

This next part may look like gibberish, but there’s only three commands that really need to be run (they are underlined in pink in the picture).  Obviously, <ENTER> is the enter/return key.

cd Downloads<ENTER>
cd Sentinel_LDK_Run-time_cmd_line<ENTER>
haspdinst.exe -purge<ENTER>

Sentinel009-RunIt
A small window should pop up, asking you to wait. This will uninstall the software.

Hopefully this clears things up a bit.

Steam(ing pile), part 2

I can hardly believe it’s been two years since I bitched about Valve’s Steam platform, but it’s that time again.

After playing Torchlight II for a bit this morning, I exited the game (and Steam) for a bit.  A while later I restarted the client and received an indication that there was an update of 110 MB. The updater ran to about 73 MB and stopped, and shortly thereafter my wireless network appeared to lose connectivity.

Now this is not an usual occurance around here.  Contrary to whatever claims they make, my ISP (Rogers) is complete garbage.  My connection frequently and inexplicably drops out – this has been an on-going problem for years now.  I actually had one of their phone reps tell me I needed to power cycle my modem every few days because “the logs get full”.  With geniuses like this, it’s no wonder their network is garbage.

Steam - FU

Queue the usual run-around – is it just me, is it my router, is it the modem, what?  Well, it turns out that it was only my machine that had no Internet connection, everyone else’s was just fine.  So I did the disconnect/connect dance and fired up Steam once more, and once more it tried doing the download.  Again, at 73 MB it died.

So, generic solution #2: REBOOT!

This garnered a few more inexplicable, hair-pulling results.  After the first reboot, instead of the Windows 7 login screen I got a oddly fuzzy white screen with a black strip running down the middle.  I should have taken a photo of it, as I’ve never seen that before.  Powering off and back on got me to the login screen, but I’d no sooner opened Windows Update than I got a blue screen.  Rebooting into safe-mode and running NirSoft BlueScreenView showed a problem with the nVidia display driver.

Generic solution #3: driver updates!  Never mind that my system has been running perfectly fine since I configured it in September of last year.  So, I did a round of updates, including my graphics card (which was only a single driver release out of date anyway), wireless network adapter, wired adapter, and even my Intel RST drivers (I run a software raid as my boot drive).

Reboot many times, finally start Steam.  Still stops at 73 MB.  This time, I do the reconnect dance before the updater can complain of requiring an Internet connection, and after a brief delay it continues the process.  I had to toggle my wifi one more time before it finished.

Finally, I get the Steam window up!  And everything freezes!  Yay!  10 seconds or so later, the Firefox window I’d clicked on finally raises itself, but once again I have no Internet connection.  If I had to guess, I’d say the Steam client is burning all four cores and leaving Windows no room to do anything, but that should really be impossible these days.

  • Yes, my drivers are up-to-date.
  • Yes, my Operating System is up-to-date (Windows 7 x64, Service Pack 1, completely updated).
  • No, I do not have any viruses or malware.
  • No, my computer is not running anything obscure or uncommon.
  • No, there is no problem with the hardware, either.
  • This problem just started with the latest Steam update!

This absolutely does not make sense.  How is a user-space program which is nothing more than a feature-limited web-browser and program launcher KILLING MY FREAKING NETWORK?!?!

So, while I continue the reconnect dance as Steam continues to try to download the 220 MB update to Half-Life (and I’m skipping ahead a bit, as I restarted the Steam client several times, and also uninstalled Steam completely, reinstalled and copied back my library (well, copied is wrong, as I use a symlink, but I digress), I decide to give the Steam forums a whirl.

Of course, this is going to require yet another freaking account, after the Steam account itself, and the account I made to use the Steam Support site.

So, make an account, link it to my Steam ID, browse a bit not find anyone complaining of my specific problem, hit New Thread and…

Steam vBulletin BS

So basically I can’t post until some wanker gets off his arse and “activates” my account.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: This one’s for you Valve!

fuck-you

Seriously, almost a decade after its release and Steam still doesn’t work properly?  And then one has to jump through hoops trying to get some form of support, only to run into the Impassable Brick Wall of Freaking Stupidity in the end anyway.

In the end, the only “solution” I found was to disconnect/connect to my wireless network every time I lost connectivity.  gg Steam.  gg.

Because it makes me feel better, here’s the ticket I’ve put in:

The most recent “update” to the Steam client (that clocked in at 110mb, with an unskinned updater) has broken my ability to download content via Steam. In fact, the updater itself required several tries to get it to download the whole thing (via disconnect/reconnecting from my network before the updater complained about requiring a connection). Now, the client will download for a short while before completely screwing my network connection, killing *everything* and requiring that I disconnect from and reconnect to the network.

I shall be clear here: everything was working perfectly fine before this update! That’s said with a 285 GB SteamApps folder! Nothing has changed aside from the Steam client itself. I have completely updated both my system, and all drivers for my hardware. There is nothing uncommon or unusual in my setup.

On top of that, I tried to post to the forums, but apparently cannot until an admin gets off his butt and “approves” my account, never mind I’ve been a Steam user for years. Honestly, three logins related to Steam (Steam account, support account, forum account) is too much. This is ridiculous, and I’ve found the whole process of trying to resolve my problem with your jumped up web browser/program launcher to be entirely frustrating.


Update 2013/02/21: The problem was still there this morning, so I threw together the video now embedded at the top of this post. A short while later I tried again, and this time I managed to download the remaining gig of data without interruption.

I changed absolutely nothing, and everything has the appearance of working as it should be. The only thing I can think of at this point is that Steam really is a pile of garbage, like many on the ‘net claim, or (and I’m grasping here) that my ISP was sending something back down the line that was causing my network device to barf. That wouldn’t surprise me, as Rogers has admitted to tampering with what passes through the tubes. But at this point I have no freaking idea what’s going on.

Linux Mint 13

Haven’t really had much to say lately.  Windows 7 has been surprisingly obedient, and without any issues I haven’t had much to complain about.  I even finally managed to get Service Pack 1 to behave, after every previous attempt ended in inexplicable bluescreens!

As for Windows 8, I’ll be giving that a pass.  The new UI doesn’t appeal to me at all, and with a smooth-sailing 7 x64 installation I see no reason to upgrade.

What this post is really about, as the title indicates, is Linux Mint.  I tried Mint 12 way back in January, and was not particularly impressed.  Well, a few weeks back I decided to scrap the Slackware install on my notebook, an aging ASUS F8Sn-B1.  Within is an Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 clocked at 2.1GHz, 3GB of memory, an Nvidia Geforce 9500M GS with 512MB of dedicated memory, and the only upgrade I’ve made to it, a 640GB Western Digital Scorpio Blue drive.  Originally I had upgraded to a 500GB Scorpio Black from the stock 250GB Toshiba drive, but after just a few hours of power-on the BIOS started reporting S.M.A.R.T. errors.  RMA’ing the drive required jumping through a few hoops as the drive’s serial number didn’t match where I had purchased the drive from (I’m in Canada).  Western Digital eventually sorted it out with no problems, and I did get an RMA, but in the meantime I had picked up the 640GB drive.

As with my previous try with Mint, the installer went smooth as butter, this time without stalls.  I selected the Xfce version of Mint as I wanted something light yet functional.  After a month of use, I really had no complaints whatsoever, and while I missed Slackware due to my familiarity with it, the ease of software installation and dependency resolution assuaged both my yearning and my guilt.

Unfortunately, I am ever the tinkerer.  The replacement Scorpio Black drive, which had seen infrequent use as an external drive, was taunting me to swap it into the notebook for its better performance.  Don’t get me wrong, the Blue drive has worked great (I also put a desktop Scorpio Blue in the desktop I gave my Dad), but I just couldn’t resist.

This time I decided to give a different flavour of Mint a try.  I started with the KDE version, which is my preference over Gnome and its relatives.  After installing and updating, I set about to tweaking.  One of the features I love about KDE is its customizability.  One of the things I don’t like, however, is its apparent performance.  KDE 4 has always felt “laggy” to me.  Opening windows, moving them, closing them, the interface just feels sluggish.  I don’t remember KDE 3, which I loved, suffering from this.  While it’s not a deal breaker, it is an annoyance.

Then I came across a problem with fonts.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the fonts in KDE’s application launcher to look right.  Everything else was fine, desktop, taskbar, tray, and application fonts all looked ok.  Even GTK applications looked great!  Being near-sighted, I find I am sensitive to fonts that don’t look right (and bits of dust and hair on the screen, my laptop’s screen is like a magnet to such), and blurry/fuzzy fonts are just unacceptable.

So with the fonts driving me nuts, something inside me broke for a minute and I decided that since the GTK app fonts looked great, I’d give the Cinnamon version of Mint a try.  Download, wipe, install and update again.

Yes, I realize I could have just grabbed everything via Synaptic and done an in-place change to Cinnamon, but I reasoned that if I was switching to Cinnamon I wouldn’t need the bulk of the KDE stuff, and that it was just easier to grab a different .ISO, rather than tediously going through all the installed packages and removing the unneeded ones.

So, Cinnamon.  The Mint guys have done a great job making Gnome 3 usable, so much “props” to them for that, but it’s still Gnome and I really just don’t like it.  I haven’t used Unity, and probably never will as I don’t like the direction they’ve taken with it as a user interface (much the same as I don’t like Windows 8′s Metro).  But no matter the work they put in to Cinnamon, it’s still Gnome, and I find there’s just not enough options to make me feel comfortable with it.  And the application launcher is horrible!

There were other little things that bothered me, such as the Alt+F2 launcher not offering suggestions, but the final straw came when X crashed in the midst of opening a window and dumped me back to the login manager, a problem I did not experience in either Xfce or KDE.

I didn’t try the Debian edition of Linux Mint, because after KDE, then Cinnamon, I was frustrated and had had enough.  So, I’ve come full circle and reinstall Linux Mint Xfce.  My notebook feels snappy and the interface offers enough customization to make me happy (though to be honest I like Xfce’s out-of-box experience).

The TL;DR is Linux Mint 13 Xfce gets a definite two thumbs up from me.

Something else I want to mention here regarding the Western Digital Scorpio Black drive.  As with many drives from WD, it seemed particularly aggressive about parking the head.  Every 8 seconds without activity the drive would emit a loud clunk as it moved the head into the landing zone.

I also experienced this with the Scorpio Blue, and worked around the issue by adding a call to hdparm within the local rc startup script (/etc/rc.d/rc.local in Slackware, and /etc/rc.local in Mint):

hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda

This completely shuts off power-management for the drive.  I did the same with the Black drive, but this had no apparent effect!  After Googling, I came across the WDIDLE3 utility on Western Digital’s website.  This software cannot be run under anything but DOS; fortunately, I happen to have a bootable USB drive with a copy of FreeDOS on it.  Keeping a bootable FreeDOS USB stick has been incredibly useful, as I also used it to flash the firmware for my motherboard’s Asmedia USB 3 hardware.  Also, I nostalgia’d hard upon seeing a fullscreen bare C:\ prompt.  Oh the memories.

However, even after using the software to completely disable the idle timer, the drive was still merrily clicking away as it parked the head.  After another reboot in to FreeDOS, I decided to set the timer to its maximim value of 300 (that’s 5 minutes).  Since the drive is touched in some way in much smaller intervals than 5 minutes, this has effectively worked to eliminate the head parking.

Note that the head parking is, in general, a good thing.  However, for my usage scenario it’s not necessary.  I don’t carry the notebook around while it’s running, or often move or jostle it.  I’m fairly delicate with my computers.

Also note that although the drive (I don’t have the exact model available atm) wasn’t listed on the WDIDLE3 page, the program did work just fine.  YMMV, just be aware that messing with low-level stuff like this can render your hardware useless.

MinGW windres.exe “can’t popen” error

I’m not sure what causes it, but the windres.exe from MinGW’s binutils (2.22) package doesn’t work properly, claiming an error of No error.

c:\msys\mingw32\bin\windres.exe: can't popen `c:\msys\mingw32\bin\gcc -E -xc
-DRC_INVOKED  -': No error

Note that this is when running in the MSYS bash shell; I didn’t receive this error when running it from a CMD.EXE compatible console (TCCLE).  I also did not encounter this problem with the MSYS windres.exe (binutils 2.19.51.20090704).

To fix this, I use a script that I place in ${HOME}/bin/windres.  Since ${HOME}/bin comes before /mingw/bin in my PATH, the shell picks up the script rather than the binary.

#! /bin/sh
/mingw/bin/windres --use-temp-file `echo "$*" | sed 's/\\\\//g'`

The –use-temp-file flag fixes the popen problem.  The text replacement is just an added bonus.  I’ve noticed that when configuring software with autoconf in MinGW, quite often it adds more escaped characters than are necessary to the command-line.  The call to sed removes these unnecessary escape sequences.

Yasm Crashing

While messing about attempting to build a plethora of software with MinGW, I came across an oddity with Yasm.  When building software for personal use, I generally pass gcc the “-march=native” option, which instructs gcc to figure out which features are available on the host system, and to tweak instruction scheduling to match it.

When building Yasm (an assembler) with this option, the resultant binary would immediately crash.

Compiling with -march set to “corei7″ produced a program that ran just fine, but using “corei7-avx” again resulted in a crash.

$ gdb yasm.exe
GNU gdb (GDB) 7.4
Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.  Type "show copying"
and "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "i686-pc-mingw32".
For bug reporting instructions, please see:
<http://www.gnu.org/software/gdb/bugs/>...
Reading symbols from <...>\yasm-1.2.0\build.corei7-avx\yasm.exe...done.
(gdb) run
Starting program: <...>\yasm-1.2.0\build.corei7-avx\yasm.exe
[New Thread 2292.0x7b8]

Program received signal SIGILL, Illegal instruction.
0x00409fe2 in BitVector_Boot ()
(gdb)

Since I have no idea what BitVector_Boot is or does, and I really doubt that an assembler will have much of a noticeable improvement with AVX, the simplest solution is to just use “-march=corei7″.

I really don’t know why it wouldn’t work anyway. I have a Corei5-2500K processor, which supports AVX. I found but a single reference to someone else encountering this, so it doesn’t appear to be a common problem.

Back to World of Warcraft

A while back my brother sent me a Scroll of Resurrection for World of Warcraft, which gives a week of free gameplay in an effort to lure back players.  I’ve had my account since February of ’05, a few months after launch, though I’ve taken intermittent breaks here and there.  My last, and longest, break began shortly after Cataclysm’s launch, around March of 2011.  Before cancelling, did I manage to get two of my characters to 85, and a few to 81/82.

I’ve never really had good luck with finding guilds.  I’m not a hopper, I try to stay fairly loyal.  But I’m also the kind of person who tries to help out whenever I can, and in the end I usually get crapped on.

During The Burning Crusade, when Karazhan was the raid to do, I watched as the guild I’d been in for a year and a half swelled with new members.  Gradually, these new members pushed me out of my raiding position, even those raids I had explicitly signed up for and was expecting to do.  Needless to say, it happened once too many times and I /gquit.  I found out a month later that three of the people who “got geared” via those Kara runs jumped ship to another guild as soon as their gear was good enough.

With Mists of Pandaria’s launch drawing ever closer, the pre-expansion lull is definitely noticeable.  While I’ll probably be one of the many people who line up outside the local Future Shop for the midnight launch with the intention of scoring a Collector’s Edition, I can’t really say that I’m all that excited.  My biggest complaint with WoW, and this has been true for the last four years, is that the “endgame” experience is lacking.  It’s a never ending cycle that goes like this:

1. Collect gear to do more difficult content.
2. Collect gear from difficult content.
3. Wait for new content, while doing increasingly less-difficult content.
4. Go to 2.

For me, there’s no longer much satisfaction in the endless gear upgrade circle.  I want more than just replacing blue items with purple items while waiting for the next expansion.  I want to continue to develop my character when the maximum level has been reached, rather than just changing his clothing!

EverQuest addressed this with its Alternate Advancement system.  Introduced with the Shadows of Luclin expansion, AA (as it was shortened to) allowed the player to allocate a portion of their earned experience to a separate leveling mechanic upon reaching level 51.  If I remember right, it required the same amount of experience to go from 50 to 51 to gain an AA “level”.  Gaining AA levels granted the character points that could be allocated to Generic, Archetypical and Class-specific abilities.

The basic bonuses one could assign AA points to included increasing base stats, protection stats, movement speed, and regeneration.  Archetypical AA abilities fell in to four categories: Fighter, Priest, Caster and Hybrid.  They included increasing damage done, reducing damage taken (avoidance and mitigation), spell effectiveness and a host of other abilities.  Finally, the Class-specific abilities included, as one might well guess, a variety of class-specific buffs such as improved dual-wielding hit chance, mass group buffing, transformations (into an elemental, for example), cooldown reductions, and far too many other abilities to mention.

This gave the player much more customization, and in my opinion was an amazing addition.  It also allowed a lot of differentiation between two characters of the same class.  Two tanking type characters could spend their AA points in different ways.  One could be a soak tank, with a larger HP pool, while the other might instead opt for a mitigation tank, reducing damage taken.

World of Warcraft, on the other hand, has given us a seven year and counting endless gear grind.  Really, they haven’t innovated very much at all.  The Glyph system, while a nice addition, doesn’t offer much in the way of variety.  For each class and spec combination, the number crunchers have long advised the players on which glyphs to use and which to avoid.

With the redesigned (or excised, if you prefer) talent system of MoP, World of Warcraft is losing the only real feeling of customization it had.  Sure, there has always been the cookie-cutter specs that one had to use if they wanted to remain competetive, but at least there was the illusion of choice.  And by max-level, there was usually a few talent points left that could be allocated where the player wanted after all the core requirements were met.

After playing the recently released Diablo III (and being sadly underwhelmed by the game as a whole), I can only say that I wish the D3 and MoP developers worked on different continents from one another, with no communications between them.  World of Warcraft is shaping up to be Diablo III, only on a different world and with a monthly subscription fee.

I continue to hope that Blizzard will add some sort of secondary leveling system that will allow players to customize their characters beyond just the “gotta get the new ilvl 9000 item from that raid” we’ve had for so long, but I shall not be holding my breath for it.  They continue to dumb the game down to appeal to more subscribers, and it seems like ample choices in character customization are #1 on the chopping block.

Oh, and then there’s the Transmogrification system.  Compared to Lord of the Rings: Online, Warcraft’s implementation is a joke.  In LotRO, one can opt to display a costume rather than their equipped gear, and it’s no more difficult to use than equipping the costume item to the appropriate slot and clicking a “Show This Outfit” button.  In true Blizzard fashion, the Transmog system is little more than another gold sink, where each wardrobe change requires spending in-game money to change the appearance of a worn item.  Disappointing, to say the least.  Every time a piece of gear is upgraded, the player must pull the piece they want their gear to look like out of the bank (or the other new gold sink, Void Storage), and again pay to apply the appearance transformation to the new item.

I really don’t know why I keep going back to WoW.  I have missed out on about 95% of the raiding content over the course of the game’s lifetime, have only made two lasting friends who no longer play very much anyway, and on the whole don’t find the game to be very compelling any more.  Sure, leveling characters is fun for me, and I do enjoy a lot of the quests and their dialog, and the story as a whole is interesting enough.  Yet once I reach the level cap, I just move on to the next character and plow through it all again.  Every expansion leaves me feeling less satisfied than the previous, and I know this feeling is going to reach critical mass eventually.

YouTube Service Scam

Seems the scam artists of the Internet are trying a new trick.  After seeing mail from Blizzard, Runescape, and a bunch of other MMO’s, as well as various banking sites, it looks like they’re trying to use the YouTube name now.

YouTube Service has sent you a message:

Your video has been approved
To:*****@*******.com

http:// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK1qRu97Wx&feature=topvideos_mp
You can reply to this message by visiting your inbox.

Don’t click on the fake YouTube links, they lead to “http://russ.vndv.com/impeccable.html&#8221;.  I didn’t actually open it, so I’ve no idea what kind of scam they’re running.  Neither did I bother looking up the domain to try to determine which asshole of the Internet this one is.

*Edit* I just checked my junk mail, and found nearly 20 more of these with minor variations in the subject, and some linking to other sites.

Edit with GIMP Context Menu

I’ll keep this one short and to the point.

After installing GIMP 2.6.12 for Windows, I noticed the “Edit with GIMP” entry in the context menu for image files was missing (that’s the menu that pops up when right-clicking on a file).

One Google later and I was reading a blog post on “Thoughtful Code” that pointed me to the correct registry key.  A few minor changes to Mr. Reiter’s solution and I was good to go.

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\edit]
@=&Edit with GIMP

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\edit\command]
@="C:\Program Files (x86)\GIMP-2.0\bin\gimp-2.6.exe" "%1"

The “@” refers to the “(Default)” value in a key.  I opted to set GIMP as the default edit action rather than creating a separate menu item, and set the shortcut key to “E” (that’s what the ampersand in “&Edit with GIMP” does).  I also had to change the path, as I use a 32-bit GIMP on Windows 7 x64.

For the quick ‘n easy, copy and paste the following to a text file with the .reg extension (such as Edit_with_GIMP.reg), and run it.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\edit]
@="&Edit with GIMP"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\edit\command]
@=hex(2):22,00,43,00,3a,00,5c,00,50,00,72,00,6f,00,67,00,72,00,61,00,6d,00,20,\
  00,46,00,69,00,6c,00,65,00,73,00,20,00,28,00,78,00,38,00,36,00,29,00,5c,00,\
  47,00,49,00,4d,00,50,00,2d,00,32,00,2e,00,30,00,5c,00,62,00,69,00,6e,00,5c,\
  00,67,00,69,00,6d,00,70,00,2d,00,32,00,2e,00,36,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,\
  22,00,20,00,22,00,25,00,31,00,22,00,00,00
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