Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2007 March 20

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March 20[edit]

centrino duo[edit]

why is it called duo62.240.62.168 01:02, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Because it involves a dual-core microprocessor. -- mattb @ 2007-03-20T01:05Z

Multiple user OS[edit]

Hey I had a cool idea and was wondering if anyone's thought of this before. Has anyone heard of an OS which would allow 2 users to operate a PC simultaneously, possibly on different tasks, using 2 keyboards and mice and 2 monitors hooked up at the same time? I imagine this would take a lot of power but was just wondering hypothetically. Mix Lord 01:08, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

I know this would be pretty easy to achieve with X Windows. -- Diletante 01:22, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Or any *NIX OS really. --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 01:24, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
ASCII in the Netherlands have built a "three headed monster" which allows 3 users to work on one Linux machine simultaneously, using a single pentium 3 box. See for how to build your own ! -- 01:26, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

This sort of setup used to be how most computers worked. See X terminal for an example. --TotoBaggins 01:38, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Of course a "personal computer" being shared with other users is an oxymoron.... But is normal time-sharing. As others said, run Linux and share its resources via Xwindows or telnet/ssh sessions. Even MS Windows running Citrix server accomplishes something similar, if a bit clumsily. As for one processor with multiple monitors, keyboards and mice: well, it could be done, but it would be challenging (especially the keyboards and rodents) and much clunkier than multiple PCs. —EncMstr 08:34, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Mainframe computers always worked like that, with many "dumb terminals". With a server and client, the server takes the place of the mainframe, and the client becomes more of a "smart terminal", meaning it does more than just pass info back and forth to the server. StuRat 13:24, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, not "always", but for a good long time now.
Atlant 16:05, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
There is a wonderful development called ndiyo that is about a pretty average pc being used as a 'pc server' running many computers. This is being designed with the idea of making mass-computer usage possible in poor countries, as it requires just one pc, their system and multiple monitors/keyboards etc. I think it's called thin client networking or something like that. Worth a look into ny156uk 20:08, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Moore's Law should make mass-computer usage possible in poor countries soon enough. Suppose a usable computer costs $1024. Moore's Law cuts the cost of the equivalent computer in half every 18 months or so. Cutting $1024 in half ten times leaves a cost of $1. That's in 15 years. Among the world's poorest billion people, per capita income is around $1/day. In 15 years, even the poorest people on Earth will be able to afford the equivalent computing power of what today would be considered a usable computer. Of course in 15 years, expectations will have scaled up in lockstep with Moore's Law, so the minimum acceptable computer will still cost around $1K, and the computer you want will still cost around $5000. And of course Moore's Law would have to similarly extend to peripherals to deliver a truly affordable third-world computer. The costs of large monitors and so on haven't dropped as fast as CPU costs. The only way to make displays a lot cheaper is to make them smaller, which means figuring out how to couple them more directly to the user's eyes. A large monitor sprays photons all over the room, when all you really care about is the tiny fraction that hits your retinae. Perhaps ultra-miniaturized computers will someday fit in a contact lens. Or in brain implants. --Teratornis 03:13, 26 March 2007 (UTC)
I don't think you can extrapolate current trends that far. The price should level out far above $1, at least with what we currently define as a computer. The keyboard, mouse, network cable, and monitor (as you said) will all cost more than $1 each in the foreseeable future. Only a very different computer, say one which is the size of a pen and is controlled by voice recognition, could hope to get down to such a price, many years from now. Also, I would expect used, obsolete computers to be resold in 3rd world nations more than new computers. BTW, the article you linked to says it's every 24 months, not 18 and also says the computing power for the same price doubles every 2 years, not that the same computing power can be had for half the price every 24 months. The two are not quite the same, as something like a "quantity discount" goes into the price of units with more computing power. For example, you can get a 1 GB pen drive for $8.49 [1], but that doesn't mean you can get a 10 MB pen drive for $0.08 or $0.09. StuRat 14:06, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

How to replace my computer hard drive without re-installing all the software?[edit]

What's the easiest way to upgrade my hard drive without replacing all the software I have on the old one? I ran out of space on my old hard drive and I bought a new bigger one. I have a few programs for which I don't have the install disks anymore and it seems that I ought to be able to just make a disk image (including the boot sector) but I've been snooping around on the web for a while without finding an obvious solution.

I have a Dell Inspiron 8200 running Windows 2000 SP4. I've already bought the new HD but I haven't formatted it yet for fear of messing something up.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks in advance!

Jon —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 01:25, 20 March 2007 (UTC).

You can leave your existing hard drive in place, and not monkey with your existing installation at all. Just install your new hard drive and move all your porn and downloaded movies important documents to it, and leave your existing software alone. It will work fine. --TotoBaggins 01:35, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

This will save you the hassle of not having to buy another copy of XP/Vista either. :) -Wooty Woot? contribs 01:41, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
If you really want to image your drive, use something like WinHex or a commercial drive imaging product. Splintercellguy 01:45, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
it's not easy unfortunately because if you wanted to do it, you have to copy files which are in use by your operating system, which is not possible, it's the equivalent of the PC trying to pick it self up by its shoe laces. There used to be a trick with dos boot disks and an application called xcopy but that's going back years…. These days, unless you're willing to muck around with linux and a live distro I'd also recommend just installing the second disc as a secondary, problem of course is, propriety PC may not have a spare disk bay or controller…. Vespine 04:25, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Get a Linux LiveCD (eg. Ubuntu), put in the harddrives and find out what each drive is in linux (/dev/hda or /dev/sda, etc. depending on the type), and do this in terminal
sudo dd if=[your original drive] of=[your new harddrive]
eg. sudo dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb
Wait for some time, depending on the size of your harddrive and you will have an exact copy of your old harddrive on your new one (with all the boot sectors and stuff). But yeah, just adding the new harddrive and move all your stuff there would be a better idea.--antilivedT | C | G 06:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Err, is that such a good idea? I suppose it would be okay if the drives were exactly identical, but I think you may have problems otherwise. dd is not the be-all and end-all. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 09:50, 20 March 2007 (UTC).
dd is very similar to ghost and I've done it a couple of time before, although it was with a NT4 server and it booted up without problem: since only the harddrive is changed no extra drivers would be needed and I think it would work for XP is well since only the harddrive is changed. What problems are you thinkin about? --antilivedT | C | G 19:55, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
dd would probably work, but is fairly tricky. Back in Windows 98 all you needed to do was:
  • Partition the new drive, if needed. This is probably easier from a Knoppix LiveCD and qtparted, but MS-DOS's fdisk is, erm, usable.
  • format the new drive in Windows or MS-DOS, specifying transfer system boot files, just like making a boot disk. ie: format -s D:
  • Reboot. Copy all the files (drag-n-drop!) to the new PC. Make sure you select "view hidden and system files" (in View, Config I think).
  • Reboot, but press del to go to BIOS setup. Pick new drive as first boot drive.
The advantages are that it's not too hard. Plus the new files should be defragmented. The disadvantages are that it's fairly slow to copy files this way. Also I have no idea if XP will throw a wobbly going "I wasn't installed on this drive... meh!" Does this still work for XP? --h2g2bob 14:49, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
The easiest way is to use commercial software developed just for this purpose. Get yourself a copy of Norton Ghost and you can image entire drives without any difficulty at all. Or monkey around wth the ad hoc solutions above, waste a lot of time and probably end up having your operating system not start up. Ask yourself if your time and your data is worth more than the $70 it would cost to just get software that would do it for you.-- 17:41, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Lol, sounds so much like an ad. If you are technically proficient I don't see why I need to shell out dough. Splintercellguy 00:01, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Creating a very mini Linux setup[edit]

I'm trying to compile a very mini linux setup to play around with. Basically I want to compile the kernel and possibly something like Busybox (for a basic shell in the meantime) and have it running on a second HDD. I'm hosting everything in VMware server so I can chop and change with my dev environments as needed.

I can compile the kernel absolutly fine, but I'm having major difficulties getting a boot loader going on the other HDD. I've got grub-install to claim that it's quite happily written a boot sector to hda0 (the host OS is on sda0) and I've got a configured grub.conf but I just can't get it to actually boot there. All I get is a flashing cursor.

I've seen things like Linux From Scratch, but this makes a bit more bulk than I'm after, and as this is a learning exercise for myself I'm not simply wanting to install a mini linux distro. Is anyone able to help with this? Elaverick 03:07, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Have you changed the BIOS setting to boot from the other hard drive? —EncMstr 08:25, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Yeap done that, hence why I get a flashing cursor rather than booting into the boot loader on the SCSI drive. Elaverick 10:52, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

You might want to consider Linux versions already designed to be small, like Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux. StuRat 13:18, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

GRUB might be getting confused by the boot order (it needs to know the order the devices show in the BIOS). Take a look at your, or boot from a GRUB boot floppy and install grub from it (since it will know the correct device order); you can also boot your kernel directly from the boot floppy. --cesarb 00:57, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

(Excel Question) - Increasing row height does not let text go into 2 lines[edit]

I have increased the row height in my excel spreadsheet, but still it crossess over to other cells. Is there any work around this? --Paracit 08:09, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes: Format cell (or cells) | "alignment", tic "wrap text" or "auto wrap" or whatever it's called. —EncMstr 08:24, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Try this: In a cell, type a line of text, and then hit Alt + Enter
and type the second line.
That will put both lines of text in that cell exactly as you formatted it.
Is that what you were trying to do?
Note, that in Microsoft Word, pressing plain ol' ENTER will actually start a new paragraph which very often makes Word leave a small blank line before it starts the new paragraph. If you use Shift + Enter it will move to the next line but without starting a new paragraph, i.e. no extra space. It's the same with Excel, except you use Alt + Enter instead of Shift + Enter Rfwoolf 12:20, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for answering my question :). --Paracit 14:15, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Custom messages on folders[edit]

When you hold the mouse over a folder in WinXP a little message comes up stating the size of the folder and some of its contents. Is it possible to customise this message for particular folders? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Zain Ebrahim111 (talkcontribs) 09:04, 20 March 2007 (UTC).

Yes, it's possible (although a bit convoluted). Have a look at the third post here. You need to customise the folder's icon by right-clicking it and going to Properties > Customize > Change Icon... and pick any icon. Then open Notepad and navigate to that folder and open desktop.ini (you'll need to type it and hit enter - it won't show up in the file browser). Add this on a new line at the end of the file:
InfoTip=The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
...changing the stuff after = to whatever you want the tooltip to display. You can remove the lines starting IconFile and IconIndex if you want to get rid of the custom icon. — Matt Eason (Talk &#149; Contribs) 10:39, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

It worked. Thanks. Zain Ebrahim 11:43, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Newsnet servers[edit]

I'm looking for some free Usenet news servers (NNTP) which I can configure using Outlook Express or any other mail client. I want to also use it to post messages using my gmail smtp. Any recommendations? Regards, =Nichalp «Talk»= 14:45, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

The NNTP article links to Public News Servers on the Open Directory. What exactly do you mean by "using your gmail smtp"? If you want to post to usenet using your Google ID, you can just use Google Groups. grendel|khan 15:28, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I found this list. Apparently very few of these newsgroups allow posts to the site. To post, wouldn't you require your email address and server set up? I would like to use a mail client instead of the browser. =Nichalp «Talk»= 16:27, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I'm not being allowed to post when I reply to a thread in a newsgroup. :( =Nichalp «Talk»= says it support up to 25 posts a day per IP address. You can even connect to it over tor, if that's your thing. I telnetted to that host, and I was able to retrieve messages; I didn't attempt to post. Give that one a shot and see if it works. Note that it doesn't carry binary newsgroups, only text. grendel|khan 20:54, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Does this JasperPrint object represent an empty report?[edit]

I was looking through the Jasper Reports docs (the article was deleted a few months ago), specifically at JasperPrint, which represents a filled-in report object, which can then be rendered to a PDF or HTML document, or an Excel spreadsheet, or whatever. My question is this: sometimes the reports come back empty. What can I do to test whether or not a JasperPrint object represents an empty report? I'm pulling them out of an object database, so it would be preferable to run some kind of test on a JasperPrint object itself. If all else fails, I'll add a test to the encapsulating object which will say whether or not the report contains data, but I'd like to avoid that if possible. grendel|khan 15:26, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

invisible contents[edit]

The first time I ran into this was in a web site folder. When I wen to delete the folder permission was denied for the reason the the folder could not be deleted because its directory was not empty? Now its happening with local and local network folders. The folders appear empty, however. How do I delete these folders? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:32, 20 March 2007 (UTC).

What operating system are you using? --Kainaw (talk) 17:56, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Windows XP(x86) Pro —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:01, 20 March 2007 (UTC).
Make sure hidden files are visible. Click Tools → Folder Options → View → select Show hidden files and folders. --Kainaw (talk) 19:11, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

modern computer measurable impact[edit]

what are the stats in respect to the measurable impact of the modern computer on commerce? Can the impact be measured? If so, in terms of degree or fraction, what has been the impact? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:36, 20 March 2007 (UTC).

It depends on the area. The porn industry had a first explosion with the popularity of VCRs because you didn't have to watch the porn in a movie theater anymore. The Internet (with computers) launched a second boom because you didn't have to leave your house to buy the porn anymore. Then, there's credit cards. Handling millions of credit accounts making purchases at millions of retail outlets would not be possible without computers. The cost of people to handle the paperwork would easily offset any profits. Of course, with the ease of getting credit in the early 80's, you have the retail (please, put me in debt) culture that followed. --Kainaw (talk) 17:59, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

High Quality GIFs[edit]

Does anyone know where to find a high quality gifs suitable to set as the desktop background (1280 x 1024)? Thanks.

Use google's image search. Images that big are usually jpegs. --Kainaw (talk) 19:01, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
When I want a good desktop background (which I don't use anymore because it wastes system resources), I usually check Wikipedia:Featured pictures, and on some pages it says something to the effect of the image having a suitable aspect ratio for use as wallpaper. Someoneinmyheadbutit'snotme 19:20, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes, we have a category with those. Category:Wikipedia featured desktop backgrounds. Some very nice stuff in here. And just curious: how much memory do you have such that a wallpaper is an issue? -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 04:31, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I might be wrong here, but I'm assuming that as they're specifying gifs, rather than just images, the user may be looking for large animations. --Kiltman67 05:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
rolling with the assumption that they're looking for animations to use, i have to strongly recommend the Drempels program. it looks similar to how a screensaver would (and can in fact run as one too) but instead it replaces your wallpaper with a lovely, animated, somewhat psychadelic image. use the Desktop mode. (note: it doesn't list XP as an operating system it runs on, but many of my friends with XP have used it with no problems) -- 08:56, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
High quality and GIF are polar opposites. By definition, a gif can't have more than 256 colors. You might want to try PNG or JPEG? Also, get a real monitor, 5:4 isn't a proper aspect ratio.--Frenchman113 on wheels! 01:38, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

What OS to boot from[edit]

Hi there! When I bought Vista a month ago I also got a new harddrive to install it on. When the new HDD was plugged in I just put in the Vista DVD and the installation went perfect. Since many drivers won't do well in Vista I was clever enough to keep XP on the other drive, the problem is just that I can't get my PC to boot it without opening the case and switching the SATA wires. I just want to be able to choose what OS to boot from, every time I start the PC. I know it will make me choose if there are two on the same HDD, but how should I do if they are on different drives? Help... :/ 20:28, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Hmm.. you should be able to select it if you boot into the BIOS screen, but that isn't the most easy-to-use solution (though easier than playing with the wires). -- 21:21, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps fiddling with the NTLDR bootloader could do the trick. Splintercellguy 04:12, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
There are a couple ways to go about it. Your BIOS may have an option to present you with a list of drives to boot from when you start up the computer. Or, assuming the Vista drive is set to boot first, you should be able to use EasyBCD to edit Vista's BCD. With this tool, you should be able to add an entry for XP, which will make it appear in Vista's boot loader. You'll then get the option to choose between one or the other at boot. -- Consumed Crustacean (talk) 04:24, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
You could just install grub or another free software bootloader. —Dark•Shikari[T] 17:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Printing to a network Printer[edit]

I am trying to set my XP Home edition laptop to print to the printers at school. I got the information printout off an HP laserjet 2300

How can i set it up to print. It is connected directly to the network.

Omnipotence407 21:02, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Using the Add Printer wizard, add a network printer using the name of the printer from the printout. Splintercellguy 21:57, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
What Name? Host Name, Appletalk name, Printer Name (under product information). I used all three (appletalk name and priner name are the same) Omnipotence407 00:54, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I believe what you want is either the host name or printer name. Basically, feed the wizard the NetBIOS name or an IP address. Splintercellguy 04:11, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Accessing my home computer from elsewhere[edit]

I would like to be able to access the shared files on my computer from outside my home, but how would I do this?

I am running XP Home edition on a DSL connection.

Omnipotence407 21:04, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

There are a few options but I think what would suit you best would be setting up an FTP program to allow you to access certain folders. I use Cerberus FTP for this [2] which isn't too bad. There are a few other methods but for a new user this is probably the easiest to get right safely. You may also like to look at Windows Home Server when this is released by Microsoft as this gives a little finer control over things.

Elaverick 21:10, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

Another method is an SSH server. Which is probably a little bit more difficult to set up on windows. But it is more secure than FTP. Here are a couple of sites that show you how to do it: [3] and [4]. Akamad 21:23, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
If you don't mind paying, is a good solution. Otherwise, I'd recommend FTP, as I've used it before and it's worked very well. JoshHolloway 22:19, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
I've been using logmein for a year and really like it. It's just like being there! The only thing I can't do so far is toggle the CapsLock key. And it's FREE! --Saintrain 22:54, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
logmein seems to be a trial, not completely free (note i just discovered that the pro version is a trial, the basic is free)Omnipotence407 01:17, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
RealVNC is free and secure (well the pay version is secure) and is perfect. --frotht 01:08, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
I use Teamviewer [5] which is free. a good website is [6] it is very helpful --jake 16:22, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Text formatting using javascript[edit]

Hi! I just did some javascript to collapse table columns and need a little help formatting the text in the collapsed column. I'm trying to take the column header, say,

Col Head

and make it one character wide like



But the resulting text I get is

C o l   H e a d, my first try, or 
C \n o \n l \n   \n H \n e \n a \n d, or 
C <br/> o <br/> l <br/>   <br/> H <br/> e <br/> a <br/> d, and I even tried 
<p> C </p><p> o </p><p> l </p><p>   </p><p> H </p><p> e </p><p> a </p><p> d </p> !!!  

But WYSIWIG. I think the problem is that my javascript plays after the page load so f("Col Head") is not being rendered as HTML.

Is that the problem? Is there a way around it?

The code (User:Saintrain/S3/colcol.js) is "ccx.textContent = hds;", where ccx points to a DIV and hds is the new string. The DIV is otherwise empty. Is there better javascript for this? (FWIW: the DIV shares a TD with a TABLE that has the column stuff in it. Clicking on the DIV or "Col Head" toggles the "display" properties of the DIV and TABLE. Yeah, I know, but it works.)

The HTML table code is generated using a template (User:Saintrain/S3/ccColEx) and the column header is one of the arguments. Can I use template magick to reformat the header before it becomes HTML?

Thanks. --Saintrain 22:47, 20 March 2007 (UTC)

In HTML, "Col Head" will only collapse to "Col" on one line and "Head" on another. It will not put one character on each line. You must change the contents of the header. I assume you are using a <th> tag. If so, it is very easy. Ensure the tag has an id attribute, assume it is id='myheader'. Then, you can grab the tag using var myheader = document.getElementById('myheader'). The current contents of myheader is easy to get using var curhtml = myheader.innerHtml. Make a newhtml variable. With a for loop, for every character in curhtml add the character and a line break to newhtml. Then, myheader.innerHtml=newhtml. Note that the column will only reduce in width if it has to. The web browser doesn't always make the best decisions about which columns need to be wide and which ones need to be skinny. --Kainaw (talk) 00:07, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Woohooo!!! Look what I can do!! Big difference between textContent and innerHTML. Thanks Kainaw. --Saintrain 19:15, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Wow! I got an answer right. And my second grade teacher said I'd never graduate from the Big Chief tablet. --Kainaw (talk) 12:01, 22 March 2007 (UTC)