February 2007

Free WiFi

Fon is trying very hard to provide free WiFi, worldwide. They’re a startup that’s a little over a year old. They can provide you with a wireless access point (WAP) which you can install in your home or business, making part of your bandwidth available (via WiFi) to other Fon users. And it’s actually two WAPs in one: a public one which you share and a private one which you don’t.

So, a couple of questions immediately occurred to me when I heard about this:

Q. What do you get in return?
A. You can get free WiFi access through all the other Fon sites around the world.

Q. Where are Fons installed?
A. Take a look at their maps. Within a couple of miles of my workplace, I found 5 hotels and a couple of restaurants that offer Fon access.

Q. How much does it cost?
A. You can buy one at their shop for $29.95 plus tax or you can go here and sign up for a free one. The only catch to the free WAP is that you must promise to either install it and use it or pass it on to a someone who will.

Q. Is it secure?
A. The public side uses no encryption BUT you must login through Fon’s web site to be granted access to the web. The private side uses WPA by default (i.e. very secure depending on your key).

Q. Who’s connecting through the public side of my WAP?
A. You can use the Fon site to see who and when.

Q. How much bandwidth must I share?
A. You can configure it through the Fon site.

I ordered one last week and received it today. I’ll be setting it up a little later in the week. A friend of mine from the UK ordered his last week and should be receiving it shortly. Another local friend ordered one last week and it should be here any time, now. I’ll post more when I have some experience with the WAP (called “La Fonera”). In the meantime, I suggest you check them out — www.fon.com

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Only 30 days before you must activate Vista? I don’t think so!

Another interesting story from WindowsSecrets.com, is this article which tells you how to extend your activation grace period from 30 days to up to 120 days. It seems that the slmgr command, when invoked with -rearm will give you another 30 days from the time you run it before you must activate. Go read the article for more details.

Only 30 days before you must activate Vista? I don’t think so! Read More »

Vista upgrade requires an installed version of Windows!

Microsoft has changed things with the upgrade versions of Windows Vista, When installing XP, you could insert a CD or DVD with Windows 98 or another upgradable Windows version on it. Not so with Vista! It requires you to have an upgradable Windows already installed on one of your disks. Now, I suppose you could install XP on a USB drive and carry it around with you or simply install XP first, before you install Vista but that’s really a pain.

WindowsSecrets.com has published this article that tells you how to install Vista on a bare hard drive, and the author (Brian Livingston) has come up with a reasonable rationalization as to why this approach is OK. The process is a little funky in that you boot the DVD and go partway through an install and then use that partially installed copy as the version you’re upgrading from, but it sure looks like it’ll work. And, when you think about it, if you blow you hard disk and have to reinstall from scratch, how much sense does it make to first have to install XP in order to upgrade to Vista again?

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All Vista versions on one DVD

I was corresponnding with a friend (hi, Chad) about Vista and were remarking how not everyone knows that all versions of Vista for your platform are on the Vista DVD. For instance, the January Microsoft Action Pack shipment contains a DVD that’s labelled Vista Business and a license key for it. But if you don’t enter the license key during install, you’re presented with a menu which allows you to select the version you’ve purchased. And, like Windows XP, you’re allowed to run the version for 30 days before it requires you to activate it. But, I’ve gotta think that, by virtue of how the installer and activation works, it’s perfectly OK to install Ultimate, for instance, to see if you like it before you plunk down your money for an upgrade (or the full version).

So, if you’ve got a DVD with Windows Vista on it, go through the installer and see what you’ve got. Note that the DVDs are bootable so you can run the installer by running setup from Windows or by booting the DVD. In both cases you’re prompted for your license key and in both cases if you don’t enter it, you can select the version you want to install. Note that this is platform dependent, though. The 64-bit versions are not packaged with the 32-bit versions and vice-versa.

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Meebo: Web-based IM Client

I just stumbled across Meebo. It’s a web-based service that connects you to MSN, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Jabber and ICQ IM services. And if you’re like me and have multiple AIM and Yahoo! accounts, you can have them all signed on at the same time. Honestly, that’s the reason I use Miranda and GAIM — I have an AIM account for my day job as well as a personal AIM account. Ditto for Yahoo! IM. Doing it this way allows me to keep my work contacts separate from my personal contacts. So, when I’m at work, I’m signed on to no less than 5 IM accounts, across 3 different services Meebo will let me do it all via the web. Haven’t hd a lot of experience with it yet but if I find anything earthshaking, I’ll give you all an update.

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I’m running Miranda again

I gave up on Miranda quite a while ago because the development team was in a mess and they weren’t producing usable code on a regular basis. I switched to GAIM. Well, the GAIM team seems to be in the same shape as the Miranda team was a couple of years ago — they’ve stalled. So, it’s back to Miranda for me, at least for a while. Miranda’s very flexible and extensible but it’s also a tough nut to crack — you have to load extensions for EVERYTHING, including smileys (Yahoo!’s smileys aren’t included in the package).

So, in case you’re interested in giving it a try, here’s my running config, complete with plug-ins:

Miranda IM version: 0.6.7 Unicode
Build time: 17:19:03 on 09 February 2007
Profile size: 136.48 KBytes
Profile creation date: 19 Jan 2007 at 16:04:06
Language pack: No language pack installed
Nightly: No
Unicode core: Yes

Active Plugins (12):
Aim.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - AIM OSCAR Plugin - Version 6R
clist_classic.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - Classic contact list (Unicode)
dbx_3x.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - Miranda database driver
ieview.dll v. [08 Jun 2006] - IEView
import.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - Import contacts and messages
msn.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - MSN Protocol (Unicode)
png2dib.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - PNG images processor
smileyadd.dll v. [22 Dec 2006] - SmileyAdd
tabsrmm.dll v. [09 Aug 2006] - tabSRMsgW (unicode)
VersionInfo.dll v. [28 Jan 2007] - Version Information
Yahoo.dll v. [09 Feb 2007] - Yahoo Protocol
yapp.dll v. [14 Nov 2006] - YAPP

I’m running Miranda again Read More »