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Monday, September 27, 2004

Fighting with a Compaq

Well my latest fight with technology deserves a writeup. After fighting with a ME -> Windows 2000 upgrade on a Presario 5000 (PIII 1.0GHZ 256 MB RAM, 40GB HD) I was tasked to upgrade the video card. Now, in honesty, the upgrade to Windows 2000 was in response to remove the crappy Win 9X relesae that is Millennium edition.

The new video card was required by the kids to play The Sims 2 (32MB Video memory minimum). The integrated Intel 810 Graphics on this MB has 4MB of memory. Now, the Intel 810 chipset MB provides for disabling the onboard graphics controller, however Compaq's implementation sucks as dows Windows 2000's ability to disable such devices. Despite finally finding the spot in the bios (use F10 to enter) to disable, Windows 2000 decided to blatently ignore my request.

My last effort to get 2nd video card to be used as primary was to install Windows XP and disable the Intel 810. Well Windows XP is much smarter. After install, it used new video card automatically or in response to the BIOS setting. What a pain! Do not buy a Compaq or HP. For their "model" of a comptuer, in this case Presario 5000, there are about 500 (no lie) variations that makes it impossible to find out whats inside these machines.

Oh, I also learned that Windows XP SP2 appears to run just as fast, if not faster than Windows 2000 on PIII machines of this spec.

Some Links:

Friday, September 24, 2004

Boys and their toys...

Women, especially mine, have a long history of tolerating boys (ok, men technically) and the passion they have for toys. Whether it is cars, gadgets or gizmos we all have our passions.

I recently got a new toy, a Hitachi 2.5mm 7200RM 60GB ATA100 HD for my laptop. This is a big increase over the factory 40GB model. While only 20GB seperates the storage increase, it is bounds faster. The original 4200RPM HD was a dog at handling intense tasks and loading required of a tasked engineering machine. A decked out Dell Latitude C840 (P4 2.0Ghz, 1GB RAM, 64MB GeForce 440 Vide0) was a real desktop replacement for me at first, but after a year of software and wear, its weak spot was clear, the HD speed. This mechanical device is the most important and slowest in a computer. The mechanical nature of HD's preclude them from the same reliability and speed as their non-mechanical computer component counterparts. So if you need a speed increase on your laptop (or PC), spend a few bucks on a high-end HD, you will be glad you did.

Laptop: 2.5mm HD, 7200RPM or faster, 60GB or larger, ATA100 or faster
PC: 3.5" HD, 7200RPM or faster, 120GB or larger, ATA100 or SATA or faster, 8MB cache or larger

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The new MP3 player

I have been a long admirer of MP3 players. In fact, I have owned 2. A 6GB Creative Nomad Jukebox. Great device. 2nd, is a memorex 128MB flash based player, armband for the gym. Also great.

Lots and lots of talk have been given to the iPod. It is a great device. Really. But, and this is an important one, many are better, functionally. Nothing is going to beat the iPod styling. It is great. However, Creative has 2 products that really shine. The Creative Nomad Zen Touch has a touch based scroll bar that was made by Synaptics, the laptop touchpad maker that also made the iPod scroll wheel. The Creative Zen Touch boasts a 20 GB HD, USB 2.0 transfer, and a 24 Hr battery life. Awesome, and that kills the iPod by half a day. Purchased from for $240, it is about $59 dollars less than the iPod and IMHO a lot better. Get this if you want a HD based MP3 player.

The second is the Dell DJ. You may recall I said, earlier, that Creative as 2 products that really shine. Well, they made and designed the Dell DJ. The Dell DJ comes in a 15GB and 20GB size and prices from approx $199 - $249 respectively. It is everything the Zen Touch is except it has a mechanical wheel to scroll instead of the cool touch pad. Expect about 10 - 14 hrs batterlife.

Check these out at and

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The plague that is SPYWARE

Recently, I have been called upon by many peers, co-workers, and friends to fix their "broken" computers. I hear things like its slow, its doesn't work, "x" brand sux. However and especially of late, the problem is spyware. Have a million pop-ups or pop-under ads while web surfing? Some search page overtaking your browser, Internet Explorer? You are infected with spyware.

Spyware Defined: Silent background use of an Internet "backchannel" connection MUST BE PRECEDED by a complete and truthful disclosure of proposed backchannel usage, followed by the receipt of explicit, informed, consent for such use. Any software communicating across the Internet absent of these elements is guilty of information theft and is properly and rightfully termed: Spyware

Unknown to most people, especially computer savy but ignorant teens and young adults, they are allowing this software to infiltrate their PC's. It is happening at work, home, and school! In the next few paragraphs I will attempt to discuss a few sources of spyware (and/or adware).

The first and most plaguing entrance of spyware to your computer is Kazaa and other P2P, music DL software. Kazaa installs several annoying and resource hogging spyware and adware components. These components spy and report to their makers your surfing habits to target those annoying pop-up adds to you. Some of the included spyware are tools of the name P2P networking, BDE projector, and others.

The next spyware issue is not a specific program but a class of program. Internet Explorer "search toolbar" add-ins. These are often marketed with "cool" features of graphical add-ons and claims of the best search results. However, they often completely overtake your web browsers settings and lock you in to what THEY want you to see. On major offender is the CoolWebSearch bar. CWS for short. They force themselves to always be your start page, prevent you from visiting Microsoft's windowsupdate AND inundate you with Pop-Ups. WORSE! they often tell you you have spyware and offer removal tools that are also spyware tools themselves!!!

So what can YOU do about spyware to remove and protect yourself. Well there are a few options. To start, ALWAYS have a good anti-virus software installd and updated on you PC. An extremely effective and FREE anti-virus software is AVG Anti-Virus. You can read more at:

If you need the comfort of spending money on an anti-virus solution I suggest Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus, or Trend Micro antivirus. Find them at and respectively.

The next protection you should have, especially if you have a broadband connection to the internet such as a cable modem or DSL, is a firewall. A firewall performs a function similar to its name. It insulates your computer from the whole of internet connectivity. There are many levels of firewalls but I will provide guidance for the home and school user here. If you have Microsoft Windows XP, you already have access to a built-in firewall. Visit and install Service Pack 2 to enable it. If you have an older version of windows, I suggest a software firewall such as Zone Labs ZoneAlarm or Norton Internet Security. Check out and

This is all great, but what if you are already infected with spyware. Then you need a spyware removal tool. Leaders in spyware removal offer a version free for home users. Ad-aware from and Spybot - Search and Destroy from are your best bets. Download, install, update and scan.

There are several very persistent spyware programs out there, coolwebsearch is one described as a browser hijacker. The best bet is to use Google to search for methods of removal.

A Newbie's First post

Hello Blog and Bloggers and friends. This is Trifster's first post. I am looking to keep this online posting as a resource for myself, friends. Expect a variety of topics, thoughts and ideas that hopefully you will find enjoyable to read and informative in your everyday life.

First, a little about me. I am a 25 (almost 26) year old Systems Engineer who is married to a wonderful wife, Michelle, and soon-to-be father! I have a B.S. Computer Science from The Pennsylvania State University and a M.S. Integrated Product Development, Systems Reliability and Design from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ.

I enjoy many activities that include Golf, Skiing, Computer research and home improvements. I am a huge sports fan and enjoy Penn State college football, Flyers Hockey and Philadelphia Eagles football. If you like sports, get an HDTV. Picts of mine forthcoming.