Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2007 September 22

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September 22[edit]

Laptop recommendations[edit]

I'm thinking of getting a laptop, but I don't need to get the latest and greatest, or even anything new. A nice refurbished model would be also be acceptable. My parameters are: 1) < US$500; 2) DVD; 3) wireless; 4) support a Linux (e.g. Ubuntu) or BSD. I don't have a lot of experience with PCs , so I don't know what is out there (or what WAS out there). I used to use an IBM ThinkPad T42 for work though, so that's my point of reference; anything small and lighter than that would be nice. Can someone give me some ideas? Thanks! TresÁrboles 05:10, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Less than $500? Don't go with dell. But you don't have a lot of options. Check out that price bracket on newegg. --frotht 05:39, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. I'm surprised that you say I don't have a lot of options. The reason why is because I was walking through Best Buy and noticed that there were one or two sub $500 laptops on display (sorry I don't remember what they were). I was thinking that if I could find latest-model laptops under $500 at a brick & mortar place, then I should be able to get a wider selection online (especially since I wouldn't limit myself to latest models, but also include anything recent, or even not that recent but certifiably refurbished). I was also not looking to pack it out with tons of memory at this point, or get the biggest hard drives or fastest CPUs, and certainly I don't care about Vista (in fact, I would prefer not to have it). TresÁrboles 18:30, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Check out ebay, I think you should be able to get that if you look for it. Your processor power won't need to be massive on ubuntu, I would guess 512 MB would be ample. If you want a dual boot, don't expect to get Vista on it for that price too, though. I would check out the make for its general compatability with Linux though: some manufacturers (eg. Sony) aren't famed for this area.martianlostinspace email me 09:34, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks. I was looking for specific recommendations, then I can research the specific requirements for, let's say, Ubuntu or FreeBSD myself. TresÁrboles 18:30, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Acer's fine, that's why I linked to newegg --frotht 15:27, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the info on Acer. TresÁrboles 18:30, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

MediaWiki formatting glitches[edit]

I have a MediaWiki-powered site at, and I had trouble incorporating the Template:Strawberry Shortcake character to the site, since it displays badly in my wiki whenever I use it.

Here's the screenshot:

Screenshot of my wiki

Compare the infobox in the above screen to this:


Is there something missing in my site? Blake Gripling 06:36, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

(images → links) --h2g2bob (talk) 13:34, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Oh no you di-ent. Fixed. --frotht 15:29, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Try copying the template over again - it probably has line breaks added somehow. It's a good idea to use Special:Export and Special:Import when uploading pages from Wikipedia to your wiki, which preserves the full edit history of the page. --h2g2bob (talk) 13:51, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't know. Wrong place to ask, try WP:HD --frotht 15:30, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Make sure your templates on your server understand the #if function. On my wikimedia servers, I had to add it as a template extension. -- kainaw 15:36, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
How? Blake Gripling 00:48, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
I checked and discovered that I couldn't get it working, so I make a Template:If with the following content: {{{else{{{test|}}}|{{{test{{{test|}}}|{{{then|}}}}}}}}}. Instead if {{#if}}, you just use {{if}}. -- kainaw 12:05, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
To get #if working, you need to install the ParserFunctions extension. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 19:31, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
The ParserFunctions are already there in my wiki... I already fixed the Template:Strawberry Shortcake character glitch; now the infobox Actor's messed up. Whenever I insert a picture there, it appends "colspan="2" style="text-align:center; font-size:100%;" beside the picture... Blake Gripling 23:10, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

How easy is it to start a search engine?[edit]

It would cost hundreds of million dollars if not billions to develop a search technology and index and store all pages in our servers and start a search engine. But is there an alternative? I recently came across, a small website. Do they index pages? Or, do they outsource the core things to someone and just design the interface? Any other ideas for starting a search engine without any investment? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:36, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Clusty isn't as small as you think. RedHerring said (more than a year ago) that it had 35 employees and $2 million in funding (that seems to me to be very low; to still be in business now with that kind of burn rate it must surely have obtained more financing to the tune of $5 to $10 million). The size of the web means that crawling it involves a huge volume of data traffic and storage - there's no magical algorithmic solution to that. And new search engines have a much harder road than did startups Yahoo! and Google - when they started (particularly Yahoo!) the web was many times smaller, so they could afford to scale up to crawl the whole web fairly easily, and then grow as the web grew (making profit as they go). To compete with Google search (even if your algorithms are lightyears better than theirs) you need infrastructure of a similar (massive) size to theirs. I think "billions" is a bit much, but certainly tens of millions to play at all. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 10:09, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
You could alway be sneaky and just have a 'frontend' that uses someone else's search engine but returns the results in the manner you desire. I understand there are a few firms that use google's search technology but return it in their own style. AOl do this don't they? ny156uk 11:18, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
AOL do, and I seem to remember Yahoo! using Google's search a while back. Smaller sites can use Google Custom Search Engine (or just hook their search form up to, so the user gets a Google search with results only from their site), and companies who want to search their own servers can use Google Search Appliance or Google MiniMatt Eason (Talk &#149; Contribs) 12:02, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Before the days of google's might, I used to use CNET's but now they do exactly that- aggregate search results from several engines. --frotht 15:32, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Wide screen Vs Full screen[edit]

It seems the battle is over. Wide screen every were. Why is it? I always have been thinking that full screen is better, but it seems every one likes wide screen. Is the wide screen every were happening because people like it or is it because the companies have imposed them? If people like it, why is it? If manufacturers have dumped them in the market, why is it? Which do you like personally? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:38, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Are you talking TV's or computer monitors? I guess monitors because you are in the computer department. I have both types of screen attached to my computer. I like the wide screen because I write computer code using a text editor. As this code can sometimes have many characters on a line, my widescreen enables me to see more of it with less sideways-scrolling. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:58, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Well they say the move to widescreen was due to a desire to get that 'cinema' experience at home. I guess with the increasing amount of online video/computer based tv there is a move to bring this into monitors as well. Presumably it is cheaper for firms if they build their monitors/tvs in the aspect ratio because they can then maybe share machine/production methods/things like that. I know i'm not particularly keen on widescreen monitors (though my macbook has one), but you get used to it pretty quickly and soon forget the difference. ny156uk 15:37, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
I used to hate widescreen since websites generally look terrible when you even "Maximize" your browser in a 4:3 monitor, let alone a widescreen. But I got a widescreen 2nd monitor, and it's amazing. The whole purpose of a 2nd monitor is extra room for when you have a lot of stuff open, and the widescreen aspect added 280 more horizontal pixels for use over if I had gotten a fullscreen monitor. I never maximize my browser on it (which looks reallly bad for sites that don't have a fixed width) but I do maximize hammer and Paint.NET, that sort of thing. A lot of people like to fill that extra space with the vista sidebar.. the only gadget I find useful is a digital clock to look at while I have a fullscreened game running on my main monitor, but it costs ~40MB of memory so no. Does that answer your question? I got a widescreen monitor because the whole reason I wanted an extra monitor was for extra room, so why not go for even more room? I would never use it as my primary monitor though, the widescreen aspect is annoying when you're using it for anything but watching TV/movies or image/map editing, or just holding running applications like VLC --frotht 15:42, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Marketing could be one reason 'widescreen' sounds better, plus the film argument is a biggy. Personnally I'm still pushing a 1:1 screen ratio - but I doubt anyone is there to listen... 15:57, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Can't find info about what human vision aspect ratio is, but it's probably widescreen, which helps its case. And less vertical movement of the eye does make reading easier and faster. --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 16:05, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
That's a good point - and I've asked a question about " human vision aspect ratio" on the science desk because of it. I notice the 'eye-hole- is wider than it is tall (for me anyway) 16:23, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, part of that is probably because you have two eyes positioned horizontally (and the eye is itself made to let in more light in from the sides than it is the tops and bottom, no doubt because peripheral vision is most important on the horizontal level and with a bright sun could be even impeding on a vertical level). If you stare forward with one eye closed, you can easily see that you can usually put your arm pretty far off to the side and still see it in your peripheral vision, but if you put it much higher than your forehead you can't see it without looking up. With me, anyhow, I can see a ton more to the sides and below me (I can see my hand all the way down to my belly while staring forward) than I can above me, probably for the sun reason. -- 16:43, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
I'd say it's because your eyebrows are in the way when looking up. They, in turn, are there to catch falling dust that might otherwise get in your eyes. StuRat 03:21, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
I don't much care what the standard is, I just want everything to be in the same standard. That way, I can watch TV on my computer monitor, play movies on my computer monitor, and use my TV monitor for my computer, all without messing up the aspect ratio or having to deal with truncated portions or black bars. In the US, the FCC seems to have decided on the HDTV standard, so I hope movie makers, TV producers, and computer monitor manufacturers will all use that ratio. StuRat 03:21, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Imposing a single aspect ratio standard would be extremely restrictive to movie makers. 05:47, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Why? Aren't most films in theatres widescreen anyways? --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 18:38, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
There seem to be many different aspect ratios in use, such as panoramic and IMAX. StuRat 19:18, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
See Aspect ratio (image) for some information.
Atlant 13:52, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
Making us deal with different aspect ratios extremely annoying to the people who pay for those movies. If I pay for a 40" 16:9, you'd better not be trying replace a quarter of my screen with big black bars.. --frotht 22:14, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. I suppose the movie makers must consider what portion of their audience is the DVD market. Some movies are direct-to-video, so it would seem stupid to make those in any other ratio. For those that go to the theater first, using a weird aspect ratio may slightly improve the theatrical experience, but at the cost of a major negative for the home audience. StuRat 16:43, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
I own a 16:9 TV, a 16:10 one, a 4:3 one and I used to have a 5:4 one. Even if all films were released in one aspect ratio from now on, they'd still have black bars on 3/4 of my TVs. Then there'd be loads of problems for the director and cinematographer -- things like Barry Lyndon just can't be done in widescreen, and things like Manhattan or 2001 can't be done in anything but widescreen. A standard aspect ratio just gets annoying for everyone. 11:52, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
It's kinda ironic to see all this tension between 4:3 and 8:5 and 16:9, since the first "big" monitors that I remember were called Full Page Displays: about 612×792 pixels. (Now of course I find 1024×768 cramped.) Then there was the Radius swivel monitor, which could work in either portrait or landscape mode (I think it had a mercury switch). When did They stop selling "portrait" monitors? —Tamfang 00:05, 29 September 2007 (UTC)


What program should I use to open a file that is of the type application/x-msdos-program ? —Preceding signed but undated comment was added at 15:04, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

It is a program. You don't use another program to open it. Of course, you can get anal and claim the operating system is a program required to run it, but that is just silly. Next you'll be saying the BIOS is a program used to launch the operating system. -- kainaw 15:38, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Don't listen to him he's being sarcastic :( --frotht 15:43, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
He's right though. There's probably some name for the service that runs it but it's all tied up in windows --frotht 15:46, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
Under NT-based Windows, MS-DOS executables are run by an MS-DOS emulator called ntvdm.exe, which gets invoked automatically when you launch a file with the appropriate filename extension and internal signature. Similar emulators are available for other operating systems, though they're typically not as transparent. The last OS to run MS-DOS programs "natively" was Windows Me. -- BenRG 19:05, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Sometimes when downloading a file the browser freaks out and thinks it's an application because it doesn't recognize the extension... if you give us the extension (as in, filename.XXX, the XXX part) we can help you better. Also, if this is the case, try clearing your browser cache, for some reason I've seen that work. Kuronue | Talk 22:28, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Dazzle DVD recorder[edit]

Should this work ok on windows vista as having problems connecting and recording programs off sky plus. this did work on windows2000. am i able to upgrade if nessecery? alison —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:09, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

According to the CompUSA website [1], it is not compatable with Vista and I saw no new Dazzle DVD recording that will be coming out for Vista. Keep my posted. monkeynoze 21:31, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Can not find Internet Folder[edit]

I have a new computer and recently put Windows Vista onto it. I can't seem to find the temporary internet folders although when I go to internet tools and press delete temporary internet files folder it erases, so where could it be erasing from? Is it possible I don't have and internet folder on it? And, how could I find it? (There aren't any folders when I do a search on index.dat, Contents IE5, or twmporary internet folder, why can't I find these? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:47, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Using IE7, open the "Tools" menu (press the alt key if you can't see it) and click "Internet Options". In the "General" tab, look under the "Browsing History" section and click "Settings". The window that opens should tell you were the Temperary Internet Files folder is and you can click "View Files" to open it. 23:21, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

It's in a hidden folder. Microsoft started hiding folders (with XP I think) to prevent novice users screwing up windows by accidentally deleting/modifying something critical. I don't have Vista so I can't guide you how to turn off the generic "hide system folders" setting - but it is in folder options in XP. Astronaut 19:40, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Hotmail Inconvenience[edit]

Hello. How can I conveniently move my e-mail messages to a new folder? Firstly, I selected my messages that I want to move. Secondly, I click on the drop down button beside "Move to". Thirdly, I click on "New Folder". I typed the name of my new folder and clicked Save. A new folder has been created, but I have to re-select those e-mail messages and move them to my new folder that I have recently made. Thank you in advance. --Mayfare 23:31, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Just create the new folder first and then move to it instead of using "move to new folder"? --frotht 22:05, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Never mind. I got it! --Mayfare 20:06, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

system administrator[edit]

my questions are to know what are the primary role of a system administrator,what role do they use,what tools do they use,what other skills do they work with,what are the certifications are needed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:38, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

See system administrator and then come back here if you still have questions. -- kainaw 00:38, 23 September 2007 (UTC)