Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2008 April 7

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April 7[edit]

Help[edit]

I was on this website erailer today. I right clicked on it and hit something and now the images wont show in firefox. Wtf did i do. БοņёŠɓɤĭĠ₳₯є 02:25, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't have any options available from a right click in Firefox 2.0.0.13 that would disable images. Perhaps it's just a coincidence and something else is wrong. Try a reboot and clear the cache. StuRat (talk) 03:23, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Could you perhaps have adblocked explosm.net? Also, great comic I follow it daily. Today's is mind blowing. :D\=< (talk) 04:24, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
You probably clicked on "Block Images from this site". This option seems to have disappeared from current versions of Firefox so you probably have a slightly older version. You should be able to get the images back by right clicking on a blank space where an image should be and clicking on "Unblock Images from this site" (emphasis mine.)
Alternatively, you should be able to go to the tools/options window, in the content pane there should be an item about loading images automaticaly (this should be on) and a button to bring up the exceptions list to loading images. Remove explosm.net from this list. Hope this helps. APL (talk) 14:01, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks what would i do without you guys! =]!! БοņёŠɓɤĭĠ₳₯є 20:25, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Server Space vs Shared Hosting Space[edit]

Hello all.

  1. I'm looking at hosting. I already have shared hosting, but looking ahead to an optimistic future I was wondering something. Hostican has dedicated servers that cost more than shared hosting. This makes sense because you pay for control of the whole server. Yet on shared hosting you get more GB of space. How is this so? Is the shared hosting figure from multiple servers connected together? Is that seamless? Is it a lie?
  2. Are the limits on GB for servers the same/similar to those for a standard PC?
  3. How difficult is it to set up a server on your own, if you just buy the thing and connect it to the interent on your own, and what might the costs (rack, server(s), cables, software) for such an endeavor in general?
  • Answers to any of these questions or links to resources are appreciated. Thanks! Smaug 03:00, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't know what I'm talking about:
  1. Renting your own server costs more. That's a given for obvious reasons. Having less space helps them keep the price down; as well, I'm sure they're betting on most shared users not using up 100% of their package, so there's a chance they oversell space (similar to what ISPs do with bandwidth).
  2. What limits? Hard drives are hard drives, though server drives tend to be more expensive/reliable and covered by backups and RAIDed.
  3. You need a computer. What type depends on your particular needs. And you may want to invest in RAID and such to keep the data safe (and downtime short). Plus you'll probably want an ISP that allows hosting (though many will tolerate it as long as your bandwidth usage isn't too high), and probably one that has decent uptime and decent upstream speeds. And then you'll want to set up something Linux or BSD or Solaris or (oh ffs don't) Windows Server based, which isn't too hard (and free for all but Windows, unless you specifically pay for support). For a lot of people, all of this isn't really worth the time and effort, though. There are also hosting companies that let you use your own machine, but who handle the ISP and networking stuff themselves, which can potentially save you money.
-- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 03:43, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
A rack of high-end blade servers will be way too expensive for your needs if you're currently on shared hosting. Also if you want a solid connection to an upstream ISP then you're going to be paying a lot. Hosting companies can afford it because they have lots of customers paying specifically for the bandwidth.. but you probably can't afford it. :D\=< (talk) 04:29, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

What is this, and how can I get rid of it?[edit]

For the least 60 days or so I have had this bar that appears on my computer when I am on line to inform me that "My computer may be infected", but when I originally went to the site that they suggested my anti-virus program warned my that my computer caught something. Since then I have steered away from the site, buyt can not get that damn bar off the internet explorer. Does anyone know what I can do to remove it? TomStar81 (Talk) 04:25, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Run Ad-Aware, Windows Defender, and Spybot (yes, all three). Or reinstall the OS. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 04:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
And next time don't run malicious code. It's not hard. Honestly, I don't even understand how this happens to people. :D\=< (talk) 04:44, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
It is hard, if you want to have a high level of confidence that it won't happen. The problem is that all software, except perhaps the simplest, has undocumented behaviors. It is practically impossible for an ordinary user to know for sure whether the software he or she uses has exploitable bugs or configuration problems. Are you sure it is impossible to craft a piece of Flash content that can infect a computer? (Not to pick on Adobe, I'm just using Flash as an example of a complex and expressive format.) --71.162.241.83 (talk) 08:42, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
A very small portion of malware infections come from drive-by exploits in things like Flash. Most of it is bundled with shady software (usually laughably so), or comes through email attachments or the like. That's not to say that situations like that don't happen, but they're really not common, and patches are often pretty fast these days. It's really not that hard to avoid. People just need to learn how to properly assess the trustworthyness of software packages. Unfortunately a lot of people can't be bothered, or refuse to take responsibility for anything. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 08:51, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Another helpful post from Froth (:D\=<). That'll be the last time TomStar goes to the malicious software store and buys some malicious code! Seriously, this can be more difficult than it seems, anyone who says differently does not understand the normal, everyday user. The user may be running an old version of IE with security holes large enough for drive-by spyware infections. But even ignoring that possibility, it's entirely possible that the user downloaded some seemingly innocuous software product like WeatherBug or Bonsai Buddy. Seeing the difference between these products, and completely legitimate free products, like Firefox or AdAware, is not easy for people not familiar with the software industry. It is extraordinarily unreasonable to blame the user for not being an expert not only in the maintenance and upkeep of a household appliance, but also in the industry that produced the appliance and its accessories.
I recommend using a spyware-checking software like AdAware and an anti-virus like AVG on a regular basis.
And do you recall the name of the site it tried to direct you to? I'm just curious. APL (talk) 13:55, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
It's perfectly reasonable to expect people to be responsible for the code they execute. If you're downloading innocuous-looking programs left and right without a better foundation of trust than "it looks ok", you're going to get burned. :D\=< (talk) 02:36, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
For you and I, perhaps. But most computer users are not willing to put more effort into maintaining their computer than they are into maintaining their microwave oven. These are the same people whose VCRs blinked "12:00", back when people had VCRs. Was it their fault their VCR's clock wasn't set? No, because the mechanism for setting the clock was often extremely ridiculous. Especially before on-screen setup became common. Sure, with enough time you could read the manual, or experiment for a while, and eventually overcome the ridiculous design, but why bother? The VCR's design was so crumby that the next time the power failed you'd be going through the same needlessly complicated, time wasting ritual. The same is true for computers. For me a computer is a vital tool of my trade. I make sure I know how to use it. But for most people, a computer is an appliance like a VCR or a blender. To blame these people because they're not dedicated enough to overcome the appliance's serious usability problems shows a lack of understanding of the situation. APL (talk) 13:50, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
APL, I must say that I agree with Froth. I agree with you on what to do next but we also need to keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. I know there is so much to be done about the interface and the "user experience" but that is not an excuse for sloppy work on the consumer's part. Kushal 00:17, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
All of that said, there are tones you can take with a user that are helpful, and tones that aren't. Taking a certain tone can reinforce an idea that people in the know about computers are utterly clueless when it comes to human interaction. Of course prevention is better than cure. Doctors still don't make yelling at people or calling them names part of their bedside manner - why do you suppose that is?

I teach math, and even though I think there's no excuse for making claims such as (a+b)^2=a^2+b^2, I can't simply tell people that there's no excuse, and then say it's their responsibility to learn it. I mean, I can, but that would make me a bad teacher. I could say that "most students can't be bothered to take responsibility for anything," but would that make me a more effective teacher, or a more bitter one? Teach smart computer hygiene; teach prevention. Don't display incredulity or contempt for people who don't already know what you do. It's not about whether or not an "excuse" counts. It's about making things better, starting where we are now. -GTBacchus(talk) 00:26, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

That is closer to what I'm trying to get at, but to say that the solution is better education is just another way of blaming the user. The point is that the system requires an unreasonable amount of education. To most people a computer is a mundane appliance that makes up a minimal part of their life. I don't claim to have a solution to that, which is why stop-gap solutions like AdAware, etc are so valuable. Here is the key point : To suggest that there is an easy solution that the user has somehow missed or failed to learn is misleading and can lead to a lot of frustration. Better to admit that the amount of effort currently required for good 'computer hygiene' is unreasonable, and suggest alternatives like always active spyware/virus prevention software. APL (talk) 17:53, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Hmmm... "the solution is better education is just another way of blaming the user". This doesn't make sense to me. I think the solution is more education, and I don't believe in the validity of the concept of "blame" at all. Clearly, suggesting better education is not a way of assigning "blame" of any kind; it's a proposed solution. If we're talking about how to address people who don't know how to use their computers, I'm certainly not suggesting that they be told "you should be more educated". That's just as unhelpful as saying "why don't you know?" The solution is to gently explain to the user what they need to know. Acknowledging at the same time that the requisite training is somewhat esoteric probably wouldn't hurt. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:06, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

32 vs 64 bit OSs[edit]

Why bother making a 32 bit OS anymore? Why hasn't everyone gone to a 64 bit OS? Dismas|(talk) 05:06, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Incompatibility with drivers, things that need kernel mode access, and things that rely on messing with kernel things that they really shouldn't mess with. There also still exist CPUs which are 32-bit. And most users could care less about 64-bit. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 05:26, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
What, my laptop has a Core Duo, best available processor 2 years ago when I got it and the last 32-bit Intel processor. Should 2 year old computers be unable to use new OSes? :D\=< (talk) 05:48, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Okay, you have a point in the here and now. What about in 2 more years when Windows 7 is supposed to be released? Why create a 32 bit OS then? Dismas|(talk) 08:21, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
No point. Not really much point in switching to 64 bit either though; people who really need it to overcome memory limits will buy it, people who don't won't. :D\=< (talk) 12:36, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Paging..?.? --212.149.216.233 (talk) 13:57, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Leap-frogging OS[edit]

I saw in the news today that MS will offer XP for sale all the way through until the release of Windows 7. Basically, through the entire run of Vista. Is this the first time that a software manufacturer has offered software package A all the way through the time of software package B until the release of package C? I'm not really explaining this very well but I'm hoping that you can catch my drift... Dismas|(talk) 05:11, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

I am not sure how good Windows 7 will be if Marketing wants to get it out by 2009. I think it makes sense that Microsoft is selling Windows XP. There is little additional investment to make for XP. Some people dislike Vista. Some people have fears about Vista. I think it little matters to Microsoft if a few customers shy away from Vista to XP. The main point is that if Microsoft sells Windows XP and someone buys it, it is a sale for Microsoft and one more customer retained/enrolled. In all this humble mumble about Vista, we tend to forget that Microsoft is HUGE. Even if Vista was a total failure (which it is not), Microsoft can absorb it. If you talk about any "software manufacturer", I am sure there are plenty of other instances. You can still find Mozilla Firefox 0.9.3 here. Although I don't know if fits the bill as "Mozilla is not a traditional software company"[1].:I don't think everyone needs to upgrade to the latest software at once. I am running Tiger and I am not rushing to buy a new piece of software "just because it is there". If I need to upgrade it, or if it makes my life easier, surely I will upgrade. Leopard looks great but I don't know why I need it yet. I'd say it is the same with Microsoft products, too. Kushal 10:23, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
The question isn't one of need or want but of availability. I don't think Tiger is still being sold by Apple. Their only OS that is comercially available is Leopard. Dismas|(talk) 10:43, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
My bad. Sorry. Kushal 17:17, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't have a cite, but I think microsoft continued to offer Win95 for a surprisingly long time after 98 came out. The issue as I understand it is largely companies that have five thousand computers with version X and they need to buy a dozen more computers. They don't want to have five thousand computers with Version X and a dozen with version X+1. They want everything to be the same, and they don't necessarily want to upgrade what they've already got to achieve that. APL (talk) 19:29, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

write-proof a cookie[edit]

Is there a way to write proof cookies? (in Firefox, under Linux). So for example, users of a computer cannot change the settings on one website, for example Google Preferences, but everyone else's cookies are okay to change.

Change the permission on the cookie to not be writable?.. :D\=< (talk) 05:47, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
It seems that Firefox stores all its cookies in one single text file. Is there an extension for this maybe? Duomillia (talk) 12:14, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
This sort of user-restrictive policy is difficult to enforce (what if they use Epiphany, or Konqueror, or Lynx, or W3, or...?) and is generally taken to be against the spirit of FLOSS anyway; if there were an /etc/cookies file, it (probably) wouldn't override the user's own cookies, and if it did by default there would be a trivial way (like firefox --no-etc or so) to ignore them. That said, there's nothing stopping you from writing a script that periodically overwrites /home/*/.mozilla/firefox/*/cookies.txt with all the same cookies except those for google.com. — although woe be unto you if you corrupt your users' cookie files! — or modifying Firefox itself to obey your rules — but remember the multiple-browsers thing; even bash can be used as an extremely simple "web browser"! --Tardis (talk) 13:30, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
It would take some effort, but I'm thinking you could force all HTTP traffic to a proxy server, and have the proxy edit the Cookie header. -- Coneslayer (talk) 13:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Laptop idles at 140˚ F, normal/problem?[edit]

When I purchased my Macbook it was fine, really. But now I'm seeing the temperatures go up to 85˚C (I usually turn off any processor intensive programs by then), and the processor idles at around 60˚ C. What's wrong, and how can I fix it? I know there is at least one fan working, how many fans are there inside a MacBook? Between the F, G, and V keys, it is cool to the touch while the rest of the computer is blazing hot, I can't even hold my finger on the hinge where the monitor connects to the body. I tried downloading a fan speed program to work the fans harder, but turns out they're at max already: ~6200 rpm. What should I do? 72.188.156.142 (talk) 05:57, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Are you browsing to any web sites that have singing/dancing advertisements (even as a pop-under/pop-behind)? I find that some web sites toast my MacBook.
Atlant (talk) 15:10, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Mine is at 58º right now. Is Firefox (or any other program) running in Rosetta (software) mode for you? In my experience, running shockwave intensive programs seems to be a culprit.

Realtek drivers not detecting plugged in speakers/headphones[edit]

My computer recently stopped detecting when I plug anything into it to try and get sound output. As a result, the sound is no longer working. I've tried reinstalling two different versions of realtek's drivers r190 and r180 and neither has fixed the problem. I'm using an abit kn9s motherboard. Does anyone have any ideas on how to fix this problem? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 121.210.80.202 (talk) 08:26, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Why do you assume this isn't a hardware problem with the headphone jack (or, less likely, the related circuitry)?
Atlant (talk) 15:23, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure its not related to the headphones because ive tried 3 different pairs —Preceding unsigned comment added by 121.210.80.202 (talk) 23:10, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Sure, but you're plugging them all into the same headphone jack, aren't you?
Atlant (talk) 13:41, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
nope - tried plugging into the different jacks that ive got —Preceding unsigned comment added by 121.210.80.202 (talk) 08:16, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

I guess I'm just not getting your point. Let me "replay" to you what I think you've said: Your computer has a jack which outputs sound to external speakers or a headphone. Lately, you haven't been able to get any sound out of that jack, even though you've tried multiple sets of headphones and these headphones are known to work elsewhere (in a Walkman or an iPod or something). For some reason, you've concluded that the problem is the software in the computer.

Did I state that all correctly?

The part I can't get past is why you don't think the problem is the hardware of the headphone jack. After all, frequently-used connectors break much more frequently than just about anything else in a computer except maybe for the fans.

Atlant (talk) 12:23, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


not quite - the computer has headphone jacks for at least a 5.1 system and normally i can configure it so that the headphones work in any jack but i've tried all 6 of the plugs in the back of the computer and i think its pretty unlikely they all simultaneously failed —Preceding unsigned comment added by 121.210.80.202 (talk) 07:23, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
It may not be the individual plugs, but the sound system itself. Either a chip burnt out, or the wiring that leads from the sound card/motherboard to the outputs is broken. Those are single points of failure that would make all 6 ports useless. -- Kesh (talk) 23:29, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

How to delete a program I can't rid of...[edit]

There is a program on my computer called "American Greetings Scrapbooks and More" (I don't know how it got there... I don't remember installing it...) and every time I try to remove it because it's taking up space it still stays there and wont let itself be uninstalled! What do I do? --Candy-Panda (talk) 08:56, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Have a look at this FAQ page: [2]. It certainly does seem like a rather convoluted method you have to follow to uninstall it. - Akamad (talk) 11:45, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Alternatives to GraphViz for drawing graphics[edit]

Presently I use GraphViz for graph drawing but I need a couple of extra features in the graphs. First, they need html links on them (and not only plain text) and second, it should be possible to develop them collectively. The perfect solution would be an Adobe Flash application where users could log in and add their nodes to an existent graph (mathematics). Mr.K. (talk) 12:50, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Note that 'graphs' and 'graphics' are two different things. WikiWiking (talk) 18:18, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Excel formatting[edit]

I have a Microsoft Excel document with 33 sheets, and I want to adjust the cell sizes on them, exactly the same for each (I'm making up 33 schedules). Is there a way to "copy and paste" the format so I don't have to manually shrink 15 columns on 33 sheets? (That is a lot of columns to do!) I tried just plain copy and paste and I tried the format painter and neither one worked. Cherry Red Toenails (talk) 15:13, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Try selecting the whole sheet (click on the empty button diagonally up and left from A1 cell) and then copying/pasting. Admiral Norton (talk) 15:27, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The format painter works, but don't forget that you will need to apply it to the column or row as a whole, not to the individual cells in the column. It's also possible to export the sheet as a .XML file and then use a competent text-editor (as compared to Excel) to make the column width/row height changes that you have in mind.
Atlant (talk) 15:30, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, the tip about using the format painter for the column as a whole worked perfectly! Cherry Red Toenails (talk) 15:40, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Alternatively (for future reference) you should be able to multi-select all the sheets you want to format (Shift-Click or Ctrl-Click the tabs); format the one you can see and all of them will be affected. AndrewWTaylor (talk) 22:44, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Sockets[edit]

What is a socket in terms of network applications?

I think it is something that contains the IP address of a computer and a and port number which allows a computer to connect to the internet, but other than that i dont really understand it, Please could someone explain in simple-ish terms, as i have looked at the wiki sockets article and that hasnt really simplified things. Or is it a virtual connection between 2 computers?

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.136.46.250 (talk) 18:33, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

sockets is a disambiguation page. I hope you looked at Internet socket and maybe Berkeley sockets. "A socket is one of the endpoints of a network connection" is as simple as it's going to get. (Not entirely true because there are forms of network communication not based on "connections", and sockets are used for those too.) To add a little more detail, from the programmer's point of view, a socket is an object that can perform network-related operations such as: initiating a connection to another host; waiting for another host to initiate a connection; sending and receiving data on the established connection. --tcsetattr (talk / contribs) 19:21, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Ban on commercial use of the internet?[edit]

According to a statement on Open mail relay (unsourced) and other sources (I don't remember where) I seem to recall that commercial (spam, selling stuff) on the internet was banned when it was first created (FIDOnet, etc, and college run). Any idea if this happened, preferably with sources. ffm 19:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

First, Fidonet is a completely separate network of bulletin board systems. It's not Internet.
Second, yes, at first, Internet was entirely noncommercial. There's an article in Wikipedia - History of Internet, I think. (Or it could be Internet history. I don't remember.) --grawity talk / PGP 20:01, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Unfortunately, that information in the article is not cited, and I have been unable to turn up anything via google. Someone added a load of fact tags to Open mail relay, and one of them was about the non-com nature of the internet. I'd hate to remove the information, as it seems true, but I can't cite wikipedia inside itself. ffm 20:35, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
RFC 1192, titled "Commercialization of the Internet Summary Report", written in 1990 (during the transition period), says:
  Under the draft acceptable use policy in effect from 1988 to mid-
  1990, use of the NSFNET backbone had to support the purpose of
  "scientific research and other scholarly activities."  The interim
  policy promulgated in June 1990 is the same, except that the purpose
  of the NSFNET is now "to support research and education in and among
  academic institutions in the U.S. by access to unique resources and
  the opportunity for collaborative work."
The keywords to finding more information are "NSFNET Acceptable Use Policy. Google finds many references: http://www.google.com/search?q=nsfnet+acceptable+use+policy
One of them appears to be a copy of the 1988 policy: http://www.cni.org/docs/infopols/NSF.html where "no commerical use" is found in rule number 7. What remains is to decide whether that is a reliable copy of the original document, and to define the extent to which Internet==NSFNET was true in 1988... --tcsetattr (talk / contribs) 23:39, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Aww, I can't believe "RFC1192" doesn't auto-link. I had to put a space in it. RFCnnnn without a space is standard form, ain't it? Feels tragically un-geeky with the space. --tcsetattr (talk / contribs) 23:45, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

The second edition of The Whole Internet - User's Guide and Catalog, an O'Reilly book from the early 90s, has a fair bit on this subject. I can't remember its exact date offhand, but it was at the time that commercial use was just starting to happen. 81.187.153.189 (talk) 18:59, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Internet Explorer automatically refreshing pages.[edit]

I am using Internet Explorer on vista. I was editing a wiki page for 20 minutes (not on WP), when much to my extreme annoyance the page automatically refreshed. I calmed myself down and worked on another page, only to have it happen again! Arg!

Why is IE doing this thing, would it be harmful to stop it, and how can I stop IE from doing this thing? Thanks. Smaug 21:42, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

If one web browser gives you problems, try another: Firefox - Opera - Safari - Konqueror. --h2g2bob (talk) 22:23, 7 April 2008 (UTC)
Are you sure it's the browser causing this? I use Vista and IE 7 and have no such problems. Astronaut (talk) 00:45, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't follow your problem, either. I would love it if you could migrate to Mozilla Firefox, but unless we know what caused the problem, we will not know if Mozilla Firefox will solve it. Automatic refresh is a feature which, I am sure, IE7 (I assumed 7 since you are on Vista, your story may be different if you have addons installed) does not have this feature. I thought automatic refresh is one of the most touted features of Opera Internet Suite. It is very easy to enable/disable it with just two clicks, however. Kushal 12:32, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I do not think upgrading to Mozilla Firefox will solve the problem. The same problem (strangely enough, like you, every 20 minutes) happens at the college I go to. All Internet Explorer and Firefox (even Firefox portable) pages refresh for no apparent reason. The PC's are using Windows XP, not Vista. (I cannot confirm, but I think this is something to do with computer settings, as the problem at my college is limited to one room of 45 computers)
Upgrade to firefox anyway though :p Scottie Too Hottie7 (talk) 18:24, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Very strange. I use XP and IE 6 and even when I reload a page while I'm editing it, things in textboxes always stay the same. Admiral Norton (talk) 14:42, 9 April 2008 (UTC)