Friday, July 30, 2004

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Shocking news just in - programmers find a use for Internet Explorer!

Hate them or hate them, we all hate viruses. Regardless, far too many people throw caution to the wind, refusing to use a virus scanner on the basis that they are too resource intensive, or because they feel they are somehow immune to being caught out - "I'm a careful surfer", they'll tell you. Careful or not, viruses can come from all kinds of unexpected sources, not just the more murky areas of the web, which is why you shouldn't rely on other people to be vigilant for you.

If you're one of those people who avoids installing a dedicated anti-virus suite because you would rather keep your computer running at peak performance, an excellent compromise is to use an online anti-virus tool and conduct regular manual scans via your web browser. As these make use of ActiveX components, and Internet Explorer is the only browser that supports them, you are forced to use the spawn of satan to keep your system free from the scourge of viruses. That grumble aside, online virus scanners are an ingenious innovation even if you only plan to use them as a 'catch-all' backup to your usual integrated scanner.

Some of the most adept online virus slayers include eTrust AV Web Scanner, Bit Defender Online Scanner System, RAV Anti-Virus Scan Online, Panda Active Scan and Symantec Security Check.

The first time you opt to have your system scanned you will be asked to install a plugin ...of sorts (don't go getting all technical on me you nitpickers :p); these will be in the region of 1.5mb per scanner. That task out of the way, scanning will commence - note that you don't have to remain connected to the internet in order to maintain the virus hunt, but you do need to be online to get the results. This I'm sure will be a relief for those of you who are subjected to regular hard cut-offs by your ISP.

Now you have no excuses not to take precautions, so get scanning now ...if not sooner!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

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Life is meaningless

Once you come to terms with this home truth, the next *dramatic booming voice from above* Big Question to clamour for your attention, assaulting your grey matter at every turn, should be, what can I do to while away the hours when I'm supposed to be working and squander my employer's resources? Note the emphasis on the word 'and' - that's critical here - half-hearted, time-wasting digressions are all well and good, but having successfully fulfilled criterion one, you should really be looking to 'push the envelope'... that is whenever you're not strangling your glib colleagues with their own blackboard-scrapingly nauseous corporate buzz-phrases.

Hark! What's this? Something furry this way comes. It's a rodent riding on a gleaming white charger. He's clutching a bundle of blueprints of some kind. Could they be the templates for a range of multicoloured, miniaturized replica arcade game cabinets, lovingly crafted with pinpoint accuracy by the dexterous critter himself? By Jove, that's precisely what they are! There's a design for every 80s video-gaming progenitor you care to mention; Galaga, Dragon's Lair, Pac-Man (and his better half, Ms Pac-Man), Donkey Kong, Defender, Gauntlet, Gravitar, Robotron, Tempest and even that unforgettable moolah-chomping, pixilated gem, Change Booth. I think that's the one where you get to play the role of a club-wielding cave-sprog who, to complete each mission, must defend the Dinobabies by bludgeoning to death hoardes of marauding trolls who try to thwart their retreat to a primordial utopia of some kind... but I could be wrong. It has been known.

Each bluebrint can be downloaded as a PNG image from the Way of the Rodent web site and scaled to fit whatever size paper or card is available to you in your company's stationary cupboard. In a few snips of your scissors' blades and with a dab of glue here and there, you'll have your very own pint-sized amusement arcade to gawp adoringly at as you reminisce over your misspent youth. Your chums will poke fun at you for unwittingly being the perfect parody of a dopey Labrador puppy tilting its fluffy head in anticipation of its next roll of Andrex, but then they're not the ones who have just passed the Kookosity duel time-wasting/resource-consuming challenge with flying colours are they. Heh. ^_^

The nice chaps over at WotR suggest you might like to heighten the exhilaration of the retro experience by buying some dolls to populate your new amusement arcade. If you ask me that's utterly ridiculous; everyone knows dolls don't have pockets, so where are they going keep their spare change? Come on guys, think. *confused*

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

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Forum Googleism

If you're looking for quick answers, the best place to find them is on web forums because the questions to those answers are likely to have already been asked a multitude of times. We all have our favourite forums bookmarked and get into the habit of returning to the same ones for information, though being this selective severely limits the scope of the resources available.

Typing the same query into the search box of each one sequentially isn't practical, which is why Board Reader is such a miraculous web widget. Board Reader's spiders tirelessly crawl the web looking for vBulletin and UBB forums. Forums of all shapes and sizes are unearthed, their contents are indexed and then made available to visitors of the Board Reader web site via the search box. Relevant hits are displayed in an easy to read, uniform fashion as with more traditional search engines, and it even provides cached versions of the pages in case the original sources have been moved, deleted or are temporarily unavailable.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

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Why do some sites prevent you from using the right-click function?

Such anti-right-click mechanisms are implemented to prevent visitors from viewing (and possibly stealing) the site's source code, copying and pasting text and saving images.

If you want to know how to stop people right-clicking on your own site, visit a free javascript snippet site like Dynamic Drive. Bear in mind though that none of these 'solutions' are totally foolproof. For instance, Firefox's javascript preferences menu allows users to prevent web sites from disabling their right-click context menu. Unticking a check box is hardly rocket science.

Sunday, July 11, 2004


Alcohol 120% is dead... no it's not, yes it is

Alcoholics everywhere began to quiver having ascertained that one of the the top two CD/DVD cloning tools was to be laid to rest owing to recently beefed up copyright legislation. The 'so long and thanks for all the fish' farewell message was posted on Alcohol Software's official home page, so why wouldn't it be genuine? According to Paul Pullen, general manager of Alcohol Software, the announcement was made not by the developers, but by Fubra Limited, the internet consultancy firm that formerly hosted the site and coordinated sales of the software on behalf of the Alcohol team.

It is thought that this action was taken to avenge the developers' decision to terminate their relationship with Fubra once the current contract had expired. Nevertheless, to quash the rumours and confusion this move has generated, Paul insists that the Alcohol team have no intention to sell or retire their backup and emulation software; on the contrary, they are gearing up towards a new release and will continue to distribute their products via the alternative domain, Existing customers have been assured that their lifetime support agreements and access to future software updates will be upheld despite delays in verifying their licenses.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

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Amiga radar detects activity in Camp Winfellow

In April of this year, the developers of Winfellow, the no-nonsense Amiga emulator for the Windows platform, shook the dust from their sorely neglected source code and began the arduous task of converting it to the C programming language in preparation for a new release. The last offering was made available way back in November 2001, and until recently the Winfellow CVS repository lay dormant, leading fans to believe the project had been abandoned.

So far 5000 lines of code (20%) have been converted, the file system has been updated to use the UAE 0.8.22 code base and several bugs have been squished. The switch from Assembly code to C will bring with it the option to port the emulator to other platforms and make future debugging and the introduction of new features more straightforward. The developers are keen to recruit beta testers to ensure the comeback release is of the highest standard, so please don't hesitate to contact them if you have some time to spare and would like to keep the Amiga spirit alive.