Microsoft Windows PC running non-stop for 609 days

diane has been a faithful server for about 5 years. Before that it was a general purpose laptop for 3 years until its screen died.

I have been using as a file server, podcast server and backup server all this time.? Only need to restart the Real Audio application, time-to-time due to memory leaks.

The OS never caused a re-boot. This proves that NT based Windows can be very stable if your drivers are stable and you pay attention to your applications.

diane is being retired. She has been replaced by a younger and faster ex-laptop.

csw

System information for \\diane:
Uptime:??????????????????? 609 days 22 hours 53 minutes 47 seconds
Kernel version:??????????? Microsoft Windows 2000, Uniprocessor Free
Product type:????????????? Professional
Product version:?????????? 5.0
Service pack:????????????? 4
Kernel build number:?????? 2195
Install date:????????????? 06/02/2002, 22:12:56
Activation status:???????? Not applicable
IE version:??????????????? 6.0000
System root:?????????????? C:\WINNT
Processors:??????????????? 1
Processor speed:?????????? 365 MHz
Processor type:??????????? Intel Pentium II or Celeron
Physical memory:?????????? 192 MB
Video driver:????????????? NeoMagic MagicGraph256AV driver

Dell Vostro 1520 sux

My four year old Dell Insperion 610? was having power supply issues, so I asked our system manager for a new laptop–same as all the sales guys. WRONG.

He gave me a Dell Vostro 1520.? In addition to the total wrong name, Vostro, the design of this laptop is wrong for sales guys and wrong as a laptop.

  1. Too big and heavy for sales guys/
  2. While being too big, Dell shrunk the keyboard for no reason.
  3. The big nice space in front of the keyboard to rest your hands get too HOT to rest your hands. The left side will cause damage to your hand–there should be a law against this.
  4. The four USB? connections (4 is good) are in the wrong place. Two should be on the back and two should be on the left or right side, but closer to the screen. They get in the way (e.g. of the mouse).
  5. Speaking of getting in the way, the headphones and microphone connectors are on the front. Again dumb place.
  6. There are some nice buttons to control the media player and sound volume.? But the only feedback you get is a pretty blue light which your finger covers. Dumb.

I’ve told my system manager to get me a smaller, not hot, anything. This Dell Vostro (dump name) 1520 really should not be bought by anybody.

So long Bloglines

After using Bloglines for a few years, I have switched completely to Google/Reader.

I spend way too much time getting my news, politics editorials, F1 updates, latest gadgets, funny pages, Google Alerts, software updates, LinkedIn changes–everything, via RSS feeds. Bloglines was my RSS reader of choice and I spent hours using it.

Google/Reader‘s user interface never appealed to me. Actually, I really like the Beta Blogines UI and could not figure out Google/Reader‘s.

Over the holidays I got fed-up with Bloglines slow performance and outages.? I forced myself to try again Google/Reader. After a month, I am a happy convert.

I still don’t like how Google/Reader groups feeds when you read a entier folder, but the keyboard short-cuts for navigating folders (shift-n, shift-p, shift-o, shift-x) which started as a workaround have become the killer feature for me. Also, Google/Reader/Mobile is clean and fast.

I am sure that if Bloglines did not have operational problems I would have never switched–to much momentum. Now that I have, I am one happy puppie.

So long Bloglines and thanks for the fish.

More Windows Mobile Applications I Cannot Live Without

Here are a few more Windows Mobile Applications I Cannot Live Without to add to my previous list.

  • ceTwit
    is the best way I have found to upload photos from my phone to the web. It uses twitter and a site called twitpic. As a site affect, the link to the photo gets sent to my Facebook status feed. Works with SFRWAP too!
  • iSkoot
    keeps me in touch with my Skype contacts. The IM part works fine, but the updates are a bit slow. The phone part works great for calling your Skype contacts. With my SFR subscription it costs nothing to call my Skype contacts. Works with SFRWAP too!
  • playlistmgr
    is the Swiss army knife of the playlist world on Windows Mobile.
  • klaxon
    is a basic alarm clock program that will ring until it wakes you up.

Windows Mobile Applications I Cannot Live Without

I use Windows Mobile V6.1. In addition to the standard Office applications that come with Windows Mobile, I use the following applications, which are presenting in order of usefulness:

  • Pocket Player V3
    I use it for for listening to podcast, Internet radio, and audio books. Great playlist management ($$).
  • MobSync V2
    I use it for syncing files between my phone and my laptop. Used every day for moving podcasts to my phone ($$).
  • MyMobileR
    Remote terminal from my laptop to my phone. Useful if you have to type a lot on the phone or need a mouse (free).
  • Pocket Informant V8
    I use it for contacts and agenda. The filtering for contacts and the agenda view are great ($$).
  • TomTom V6
    I use it for GPS any time I am in the car. Also useful when walking in a town ($$$).
  • TOMBO version 2.0 beta 4
    I use it for storing passwords, bank info, and reference notes. The simple text files are encrypted and are shared with the Windows version of Tombo; where I enter most of the info into Tombo (free).
  • GSFinder V1.04
    File manager which is a lot more feature filled (free).
  • MortButtons 2.5
    Finger friendly menu system (free).
  • AE Button Plus V2.6
  • Redefine any button on the phone. I have one button for ALT-TABing through the open applications and one for turning off the screen.

Update 7-Dec-08

The last three applications I have not installed. I have only missed AE Button Plus V2.6, but the phone has been much more stable without it, so have not installed it.

Tabs for Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile

Surfing the web using a browser without tabs is a complete waste of time. Surfing the web on a phone without tabs is even worse.

To be sure Opera Mobile is a better web browser than IE for Windows Mobile and it has tabs. But Opera Mobile does not work with my service provider (SFR blocks it) so unlimited wapsfr surfing on my phone using Opera Mobile.  SFR only supports IE 🙁 .

Web Viewer for WM5/6 adds tabs to IE (plus a few more features). Easy to use  and works fine with wapsfr. I found it via Download Squad.

Web Viewer for WM5/6 Screenshot

Why does svchost.exe consume a lot of CPU?

Time-to-time I’ve noticed that one of my svchost.exe processes on Windows XP consumes an inordinate amount of CPU. I’ve now figured out why.

There are several svchost.exe processes on Windows XP. The one of interest is the one supporting all the network services. It is started with the command line:

C:\WINDOWS\System32\svchost.exe -k netsvcs

While I am in the office, my WiFi interface connects to an Access Point (AP), but the AP does not give the interface an IP address. It seems that when this happens, the svchost.exe process does not give up trying to get an IP address via DHCP. When it does, the svchost.exe process consumes 20%-30% of my CPU.

The solution is to disable the WiFi interface while in the office.

Skype versus Gizmo

Good bits the same:

  • Great sound quality when you have a good Internet connection.
  • Free calls to 800 numbers
  • IM

Skype only bits:

  • Group conference easy to setup (add people to your conference). The host has all traffic and costs
  • Cost is higher than Gizmo (€1.19/hour vs €0.85). Also has a €0.045 connection fee.
  • More people use it.
  • Network stats available
  • Voice mail is not free.
  • Worldwde local SkypeIn phone numbers.

Gizmo only bits:

  • Group conference easy to setup (create conference and invite people to join). The host has no traffic and everybody pays their PSTN costs. There is a conference mode which works only with Gizmo users and is free.
  • Cost is low than Skype (€0.85 vs €1.19/hour)
  • Works with any SIP network.
  • CPU usage is lower than Skype.
  • Voice mail is free.
  • Only USA Gizmo phone numbers.

Copy error messages text to the clipboard

Amazing to learn something this basic and so useful after all these years of using Windows.

When you see a Windows error dialog that you want to preserve, no need to screenshot it (as I have been doing all these years).

Sample Windows Error Message

To make a copy, just press Ctrl-C ! You get an nice text copy:

—————————
xplorer²
—————————
\\diane\d$\usr\willy\radio\atc200700613\atc20070061317.mp3
Error reading from source

Windows error = 3: The system cannot find the path specified.

—————————
Abort Retry Ignore
—————————

Cool !

This tip found from lifehacker.com.

Rocher des Monges

Beautiful walk with great views of the sea and the mountains.

An added bonus is lunch on the beach afterwards.

Julia with laptop and lunch You can see the mountains in the background.

Sea and Moutains Sea and Moutains
No real difficulty as most of the walk is alone a fire road. Maybe a bit tricky at the end where it was bit steep and rocky.

There was one trick to find the trail head. It is not alone the main road (the RN). Go to the port and walk alone the sea to the tunnel under the railroad.

Walk Profile

Two hours for the walk with stopping.
300m up and down.
6.5km total distance assuming you don’t get lost like we did at the start looking for the tunnel.

Walk in Google Maps Google Earth and in Google Earth.

Rando pédestre page for walk for all the wheres and hows.

How to create ‘normal’ playlists for the SanDisk Sansa c150

Bought a Sansa c150 as it was cheap and small. Bummed that it liked Windows Media Player for managing playlists. After harsaing technical support, I got them to tell me how to make a ‘normal’ playlist for MP3 files. Woop!

First ensure you are connecting your c150 to your PC in MSC mode. There is a setup option for this. My was set to MSC mode by default.

Next create a directory: “Music”. I then copied some Simon & Garfunkel so I had a directory looking like:

E:\Music\Simon & Garfunkel\Bookends\01-Bookends Theme.mp3
E:\Music\Simon & Garfunkel\Bookends\02-Save The Life Of My Child.mp3

Next, create you playlist. I will give you the complete instructions from SanDisk support later, but the just is you create a M3U style playlist, comments manditory, using only the filenames of the songs to be included. You also need the global M3U comment.

Below is an example playlist for the two Simon & Garfunkel songs above. I put it in:

E:\Music\MyBookends.m3u

The content is:

#EXTM3U
#EXTINF:
01-Bookends Theme.mp3
#EXTINF:
02-Save The Life Of My Child.mp3

Note:

You need the comments. Without the first comment the playlist is always ’empty’. Without the comments between songs, the c150 skips a song.

The ‘offical’ instructions from SanDisk support.

M3U support and MSC Mode: (Unofficial)
Make sure player is in MSC mode (Menu > Settings > USB > MSC).
Create/save an m3u playlist file from any application (winamp, media player, etc)
Find file through My Computer, right-click the playlist and Open With > Choose Program > Notepad
The first line of the file should be #EXTM3U. You will also see 2 lines of text for each song in the playlist.
Leave the first line alone for each song.
For the second line, you need to delete everything except for the filename (which is everything up to and including the last \ ).
Repeat that step for every each song listed.
Save the file by going to File, Save.
Copy-and-paste or click and drag the m3u file to the Removable Disk
Copy all the songs to the Removable Disk by making a folder on the Removable Disk called “Music” and copy the songs into there

Regardless of method, the playlist will now show on the mp3 player under menu>play music>Playlist

Took a week to solve this. Happy with the c150 now.

Ride to Saint-Valier-de-Thiey via Grasse

Beautiful ride to St Vallier-de-Thiey. The weather was sunny; 19 degrees at start and 25 degrees at the end.

52.1km, 848 meters of up.
Two and a half hours on the bike and eleven minutes stopped.

Using my favorite GPS website, GPS Visualizer, I created the ride profile and Google Earth KML file.

Click on the images below for full sized views. The Google Earth screenshoots give a good idea about the ride.
Ride Profile Ride as seen by Google Earth Google Earth sees the hard climb around Grasse.

The Col du Pilon was highest point at 782 meters Col du Pilon.

When I arrived in St Vallier-de-Thiey‘s town center St Vallier-de-Thiey Town Center,
there was a cool outdoor market Outdoor Market.

Ripping “This American Life”

NPR’s This American Life is a great entertaining radio program. It is weekly, one hour long and perfect for a podcast listening. Unfortunately, the show owners make it difficult to download. I am a NPR station member of KGNU and if you download This American Life you should become a member also.

Below is a very easy way to get the weekly MP3 file.

I use mplayer and its dumpstream option.

The command line is:

mplayer.exe -dumpstream -dumpfile outputFilename showURL

The outputFilename can be what you want. I use shownumber.mp3

The showURL (might change), but is currently something like:

http://wbez-tal.streamguys.us:8020/content/showNumber.mp3

The showNumber changes every week. It is three digits and is around 316 today. Check the website archives for the value for the current week’s show.
For example.

o:\media\mplayer\mplayer.exe -dumpstream -dumpfile AL316+TheCatCameBack.mp3 http://wbez-tal.streamguys.us:8020/content/316.mp3

Update 29-Jun-07

A better URL is:

http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/322.mp3

Crêtes-du-Bauroux

This walk is medium hard. Not to bad on the ups/downs. The crest part of the walk was a disappointment as it was all in the trees (good for full summer I guess).

The high points were:

  • A few good views.
  • Nice View 1 Nice View 3 Nice View 2
  • The ruins near B193.
    vieux seranon
  • The valley behind Caille (OK it does look like a women’s sex).
    Pussy Valley
  • The Bauroux summit
  • .Summit
  • Caille has a nice Auberge where you can have a beer.
    Caille
  • Gliders were cool.
    Gliders were cool.

Note the large deviation of from the trail on the map after the Bauroux summit. The map is out-of-date.

W011+Crêtes-du-Bauroux^after^withTrack.jpg

Click for full size map.

Four hours is about right.
650m up and down.
13km total distance.
Rando pédestre page for walk.

View in Google Earth and/or Google Maps (slow).

The GPS trace.

Gorge Du Loupe–not quite to Greolieres (52Km)

Longest bike ride yet 50Km. My legs suffered going back up to Chateau-nuef.
A bunch of up, which was OK until I got 3 Km from Greolieres. The grade then went to >10% and my legs gave out.

Have a look at the profile below. After Pont-Sur-Loupe there was a 5Km up which was a good steady slog, but not so bad.

Profile of ride

Click for larger image for altitude provide
Loaded up the route in Google maps.

Google Map of ride

Click to open ride in Google Maps

You can also look at it in Google Earth by clicking here.

Configuration of multiple wikis with MoinMoin DesktopEdition

MoinMoin DesktopEdition is a very easy to install personal wiki.

One issue I had was how to configure it to allow it to support multiple wikis.

The following steps makes it happen:

  1. From the download page the the zip version of the DesktopEdition.
  2. Then follow the rest of the installation instructions and confirm the default config is working.
  3. Down load and expand the normal version moin-1.3.5.tar.gz.
  4. From the normal version copy MoinMoin/multiconfig.py to your installed DesktopEdition. This is the main bit of magic needed as the multiconfig.py in the DesktopEdition does not know about multiple wikis.
  5. In the DesktopEdition root direcotry (the one with moin.py) create you farmconfig.py and persowiki.py files (see below for examples).
  6. Edit you hosts file to include a mapping for each wiki you want.

farmconfig.py
wikis = [
# wikiname, url regular expression (no protocol)
# Standalone server needs the port e.g. localhost:8000
# Twisted server can now use the port, too.
("persowiki", r"^.*persowiki.*$"),
("testwiki", r"^.*testwiki.*$"),
]

persowiki.py
# -*- coding: iso-8859-1 -*-

from MoinMoin.multiconfig import DefaultConfig

class Config(DefaultConfig):

sitename = u'CswWiki' # u means that it will be converted to Unicode
interwikiname = ''
data_dir = 'wiki/persowiki/data/'
data_underlay_dir = 'wiki/underlay'

testwiki.py
# -*- coding: iso-8859-1 -*-

from MoinMoin.multiconfig import DefaultConfig

class Config(DefaultConfig):

sitename = u'Test Wiki' # u means that it will be converted to Unicode
interwikiname = 'testwiki'
data_dir = 'wiki/data/'
data_underlay_dir = 'wiki/underlay'

hosts
127.0.0.1 persowiki
127.0.0.1 testwiki