Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2008 January 25

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January 25[edit]

Vista games[edit]

Is there a way to download free games off the internet that you can play as "Games" on Windows Vista. That is to add to the other games (Mahjong Titans, Minesweeper, Free Cell)? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:02, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Not legally (aka from microsoft). Also, don't forget Hold 'Em --f f r o t h 18:42, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Dual core speed equivalence[edit]

If I had a dual core processor rated at 1.6GHz, would that be equivalent to a single core processor operating at 3.2GHz?--TreeSmiler (talk) 00:24, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Not equivalent, but it may be comparable in many cases. With a multithreaded workload, it may outperform the single 3.2 Ghz core. With a single threaded workload, the extra core doesn't really help you. So it depends on what you're doing, exactly. Also, you can't just compare clock speed to clock speed, either. Newer processors are more efficient and get more effective performance out of a given clock speed. Friday (talk) 00:29, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
But aren't most Windows environments multi threaded (or multi tasking) any way. I mean my computer is doing lots of oter things while I'm typing yes?--TreeSmiler (talk) 00:58, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Multi-threaded means it can do two things at the same time, otherwise, it's just going back and forth between two things very rapidly. I'd recommend my 2.6GHz FX-60 (dual-core) over any single-core CPU. Useight (talk) 01:00, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
OK but what about a dual core 1.6 GHz machine over my current 2.4 GHz single core m/c. Is it going to be faster?--TreeSmiler (talk) 01:30, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, pretty much any typical computer usages these days is at least a somewhat threaded workload, so it works out well. But, if you were running some big math job that was going to take 3 days, it won't magically take 1.5 days when you have a second core (unless the problem gets divided up into multiple problems which can run concurrently). What it might do instead is take 3 days but the computer is still usable without feeling slow, during those 3 days. Your OS is always switching jobs on and off your core(s) anyway, but in a multicore/multi-cpu system, more than 1 job can literally be running at the same time. You lose some efficiency when switching threads on or off the cpu, no matter what, but the more cores you have, the more efficiently you'll run a multithreaded workload. Friday (talk) 01:12, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
OK Whats the probability of my having a multi threaded workload? (ie what does that depend on?)--TreeSmiler (talk) 01:45, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It depends on what kinds of programs you use and whether they are written to use multiple threads. This blog post shows pretty well how some things know how to use such cores, while some don't (his is about quad cores, but the idea is the same). In general, though, a dual core is going to outperform a single core a lot of the time, and dual cores have been around long enough that they are pretty well supported. -- (talk) 02:32, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Not many programs these days support multi core, and therefore multi core processor does not help in most cases. A typical example of where processing power is needed is 3D rendering. Some of the 3D rendering programs do support multicore, others don't. For example, I am using Poser 6. It does not support multi core, so dual core does not help at all. However, the latest Poser 7 (published some 2 months ago) now supports up to 4 cores. So I would have to spend hundreds of dollars for upgrade in order to get the benefit of dual core processor. Another 3D application I use is Terragen. It does not support multi core. Some of the latest games do support multi core, but most games do not.
On the other hand, even if you are using application that support multiple cores, 1.6 GHz dual core would not be as fast as 3.2 GHz single core. Both of the cores use the same L2 cache and same memory interface, both of which work at 1.6 GHz speed, so the cores can not run at full speed except while running tight loops from L1 cache.
However, if you are comparing P4 to Core 2, don't forget that a single core of Core2 running at 2 GHz delivers about the same processing power as P4 running at 3.5 GHz, due to more advanced architecture.
PauliKL (talk) 16:33, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
The words "while I'm typing" make me suspect that you're worrying about the wrong thing. Your CPU is typically doing almost nothing while you're typing. If the typing is happening in a word processor or email client or IM client or web browser, for example, then the CPU is asleep most of the time waiting for you to press the next key. When you press a key, it briefly wakes up and reflows and redraws the text, which takes maybe a millisecond tops, and then goes to sleep again. The only way you'd notice a slowdown in this situation is if the update took as long as the time between key presses, and it's been probably a decade since CPUs that slow were on the market. The same is true of hard disk access or network access. The CPU doesn't actively do these things, it delegates them to coprocessors and then sits idle until they finish (unless it has something else to do). About the only thing that'll make heavy use of the CPU is heavy-duty number crunching that isn't graphics-related (graphics-related calculations are delegated to the GPU). A lot of people make the mistake of believing that the CPU is the most important determiner of a system's speed, but that's not true for most typical users. When is it that your current computer feels slow? If it's booting up or starting applications, a faster CPU probably won't help (but more RAM might). If it's waiting for responses from web servers, a faster CPU won't help (but a faster broadband connection might). If it's playing the latest video games, a faster CPU might help (but a faster GPU will probably help more). -- BenRG (talk) 08:58, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It depends if you have 2 processes that use a core each or only 1 process that needs to use a core. At work I use a 3.0Ghz P4, while other people have 2GHz dual cores. They boot up faster because we have antivirus software that takes up 100% CPU on mine, but only 50% CPU on theirs, letting normal windows things load on the other core. However once we start processing data the applications are all single core, and my pc is obviously faster and runs at 100% while theres only runs at 50%. Generally speaking I would buy a dual core because from now on most programs are going to be coded to take advantage of them and if you are ever multitasking dual core is way better.-- (talk) 05:09, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

A Certain Website[edit]

I remember going to this website where you type in something and it gives you a bunch of sentences that tell you about it by using search results from Google, For example, if you type in "Wikipedia" it might say something like "Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia". I'm happy for any help anyone can give me.

I Found a Cat in my Hat (talk) 03:00, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Googlism. I also remembered this site as a passing fad mentioned on blogs years ago, but couldn't remember the name of it. It was popular at the time for typing in your name and seeing results of the form "(your name) is...". After trying various search terms, I finally found it as the number one result for the search google your name. --Bavi H (talk) 05:50, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
I loved that site. Especially since the first one it threw up said I was sexy :-) Astronaut (talk) 12:10, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Check out Open Mind Common Sense too. --Ouro (blah blah) 13:56, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Linux stuff[edit]

I'm running Ubuntu 7.10 on my Dell 2400 with 512 MB of RAM and have noticed some slow down, most notably when I'm using several programs at once. This is understandable, I suppose, considering that the minimum requirement for 7.10 is 300M~, so I'm going to bump up the RAM to a gig or two when I can. Until then, is there any way to speed things up? I'm using GNOME and have heard that KDE is lighter, but I don't particularly feel like switching. And I've already got my computer just the way I like it and don't want to do anything drastic... Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. --((FLYINGNINJAMONKEY)) ((BANANA!)) 03:15, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

More ram will fix it. Linux these days requires large amounts of ram. How bad is the slow down and what programs exactally? You may want to try asking at (talk) 05:05, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Have you looked at XFCE at all? It is designed for systems with small amounts of memory in mindTheGreatZorko (talk) 09:11, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
"Linux these days requires large amounts of ram"? Since When? I never heard of this before... (Not saying you're wrong, I was just under the impression that Linux could run on a minimum spec system.) JoeTalkWork 10:27, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
KDE and GNOME have both become fairly memory-intensive. As said above, XFCE is lighter. Though it has to be said that I use Kubuntu 7.10 on my desktop which is significantly lower spec than the one mentioned above and I haven't noticed problems... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sam Korn (talkcontribs) 10:53, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
So the days of running Linux on a decade old machine for non memory-intensive things (e.g. word processing) are over? JoeTalkWork 16:57, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Certainly not - there are many distributions of Linux (see Category:Mini Linux distributions) that run, and will continue to run, on old hardware. I guess mainstream Linux distributions like Fedora and Ubuntu will roughly track the progess of hardware (although they do a pretty good job on older machines, that said), but it's one of the many great things about Linux is that you'll always have (too many, really) choices. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 22:03, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
It's not linux (the kernel) that uses lots of ram, its whatever apps you run on it! Lots of people say "linux" when they really mean "my linux distribution." Still its usually possible to take any distro and strip out unneeded software to make it run better. -- Diletante (talk) 23:30, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
GNOME is an absolute memory whore, don't even think of using it on a low memory system. Use fluxbox and its ilk if you're really hardcore or try XFCE if you want actual graphical functionality. --f f r o t h 16:54, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the help, all. I appreciate it. (Note: I have a question about RAM but I'm going to start a new section for it since it's really got nothing to do with this question) --((FLYINGNINJAMONKEY)) ((BANANA!)) 22:50, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Leopard and GNU[edit]

I upgraded my MacOS (PPC) from 10.4 to 10.5, and suddenly GNU sort no longer recognizes the +n switch (to skip n words before the key). I wonder what other gotchas I should watch out for! Any suggestions short of writing my own sort filter? —Tamfang (talk) 08:16, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Instead of +n use -k n+1. E.g. instead of +2 use -k 3. You can also reenable the old syntax by defining _POSIX2_VERSION=199209 in your environment, as described here. -- BenRG (talk) 10:11, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks! I wonder what else would be broken by that Posix setting. —Tamfang (talk) 18:46, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Setting _POSIX2_VERSION doesn't change the behavior for me under Leopard, although the -k syntax works fine. man compat seems to say that setting COMMAND_MODE=legacy should restore the older syntax, but that's not working for me either. BTW, Apple changed a bunch of stuff in Leopard in order to meet the Single Unix Specification; see Apple's Unix 03 Conformance Release Notes (especially the "Command usage issues" section) for other things that might bite you. —Speaker to Lampposts (talk) 22:42, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Speaking of POSIX sort, is there a syntax to sort by the first word descending and then the rest of the line ascending? —Tamfang (talk) 21:59, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Blurry Picture on External Monitor[edit]

I have a macbook connected to a dell 24 inch monitor and I have the screen mirrored and the external display is at its native resolution of 1900x1200 at 60Hz but it looks blurry, it seems as if its not really at 1900x1200. I'm using the DVI cable for the macbook if that makes a difference, any ideas on why? Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:02, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

What kind of monitor is it? LCD? CRT? -- kainaw 15:06, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Probably LCD if it has a native resolution. -- (talk) 16:12, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
The Macbook resolution is 1280x800 and if you have it mirrored it will be simply scaled to 1900x1200 i.e "not really at 1900x1200" --Trieste (talk) 08:15, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes its an LCD, I figured it out, thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:46, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Windows Vista[edit]

As a general question, does WinVista prevent the use of applications like Limewire and other P2P programs? I'm not talking about illegal file sharing, but more freeware/open source stuff... Does Vista's security prevent access to those types of networks? Also, does the digital rights management security function of Vista prevent me from listening to songs I've got from a burnt CD? And lastly, is it possible to turn off the User Account Control on Vista without any hassle/long term damage? Thanks in advance. ScarianCall me Pat 15:21, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

First of all, if you're using Vista I recommend switching to XP. Vista has had some trouble connecting to the P2P network my roommates set up, us XP users could play games together, but the Vista-using roommates couldn't join games of Warcraft III or Age of Empires II. As for Limewire, I don't know (don't try Kazaa, it's got adware). I've heard if you turn off the UAC, your computer loses most of its security (however, I assume you have an antivirus program installed). The UAC pops up all the time annoyingly asking if you're sure you really wanted to open a command prompt. Useight (talk) 17:20, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
If they couldn't connect it's because either the software is so ancient that it's not supported anymore (likely for those titles, check yourself) or they were too stupid to set up the networking properly. Vista networking is a mess but it's a lot more stable and generally better than XP.. no vista won't affect your networked apps like P2P at all.. it's the same interface and that's the point of object-oriented programming. switching to xp is just ridiculous.. it'll be out of support in only a few years and meanwhile you're stuck with outdated software --f f r o t h 18:47, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Who needs Microsoft to support the OS? It's not like we have to call them every other day with problems and questions. Worst come to worst, backup your data and reformat. Switch to XP. Useight (talk) 21:34, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
People who use microsoft's products need microsoft to support them.. without automatic updates the world wide web would not exist --f f r o t h 08:39, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
That last is a pretty meaningless statement, since Tim Berners-Lee's invention of the World-Wide Web had nothing to do with Microsoft, Windows, or automatic update. —Steve Summit (talk) 17:33, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Microsoft opened up the internet as we know it by making it accessable to the everyday stupid users who have completely shaped the web as we know it. Can you imagine the mammoth central-to-the-web-experience services like google/googlemail/youtube existing without sheer millions of americans staring at ads or paying for subscriptions? And none of these people would be able to connect to the internet without microsoft updates since every windows machine in the world would be too bogged down in thousands of viruses to even visit a third-party patcher or AV tool. Yeah we'd have usenet.. email.. but no World Wide Web, at least for many more years than it took Microsoft through throwing billions of dollars at it and cutting every concievable corner --f f r o t h 23:21, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
To answer your question as quickly and as well as I can, no it does not prevent their use. I have vista, and programs like LimeWire and uTorrent work fine. When it first came out, there were some rumors going around about DRM and p2p on vista, but they were all unjustified. —Akrabbimtalk 12:38, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

MediaWiki templates opening html tag[edit]

I would like to use a template that only includes the opening html tag, and I would like to do this on my own mediawiki 1.11.0. Here on wikipedia, Template:Div_col is a template which only includes the opening html tag of a div. This appears to just work as expected on wikipedia. In my own mediawiki 1.11.0 the tag is automatically closed when the template is transcluded. So in Wikipedia {{div col}} becomes <div style="...">, but in my mediawiki it becomes <div style="..."></div> even though the templates are the same.

Do I need to configure something? Is this a mediawiki-current feature? If this is not the right place to ask, where is? I got here from Help:Contents/Technical information's "Help with software related to Wikipedia" but this page appears quite general. JackSchmidt (talk) 17:54, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Elegant mySQL Table Transformation[edit]

Hi! If I had this table:

RegId Name
100 Southern Afrika
101 Northern Europe
102 Western Australia

To make it more elegant, i'd add two additional tables:

DirId Direction
0 South
1 North
2 West
3 East
ContId Continent
10 Africa
11 Asia
12 Australia

My new region table should look like this:

RegId DirId ContId
101 0 10
102 1 13
103 2 12

Is it possible to do this tranformation automatically with mySQL? TIA --Hochwohlgeboren (talk) 20:02, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

The following will do it. The main point is that you can do an insert ... select. --Sean 22:23, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
-- This is what you have now:
create table region
    id int,
    name varchar(100)
insert into region values (0, 'Northern Africa');
insert into region values (1, 'Southern Africa');
insert into region values (2, 'Northern Europe');
insert into region values (3, 'Western Australia');
insert into region values (4, 'Eastern Antarctica');
-- and you want to split it into these three:
create table continent
    id int AUTO_INCREMENT,
    name varchar(100),
    PRIMARY KEY (id)
create table direction
    id int AUTO_INCREMENT,
    name varchar(100),
    PRIMARY KEY (id)
create table mapping
    region_id    int,
    continent_id int,
    direction_id int
-- so extract continents from the ends of the region names,
insert into continent (name)
    select distinct substr(name, instr(name, ' ') + 1)
    from region;
-- and directions from the beginnings:
insert into direction (name)
    select distinct substr(name, 1, instr(name, ' ') - 4)
    from region;
-- and then set up the mapping based on the original table
insert into mapping
    from region r,
         continent c,
         direction d
    where = concat(, 'ern ',;
-- The following query should give you back your original
-- region table
select m.region_id, concat(, 'ern ', as 'name'
    from mapping m,
         continent c,
         direction d
    where m.continent_id =
      and m.direction_id =;
-- which you don't need anymore
drop table region;
Ingenious! Thank you very much! --Hochwohlgeboren (talk) 17:33, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

OEM Vista[edit]

I'm interested in updating to Vista, but am swayed by the very cheap price of the OEM version (just the software i.e. without the instructions manual etc.) I am a reasonably advanced computer user; is there anything of vital importance in the instructions that I would miss out on and not be able to find elsewhere? MHDIV ɪŋglɪʃnɜː(r)d(Suggestion?|wanna chat?) 21:11, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I'd say buy the OEM version. You should miss out on anything critical. Actually, my true recommendation is stick with XP. Vista is slow and its UAC is annoying. Useight (talk) 21:36, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
I turned off UAC in 5 minutes and see no performance decrease even with Aero on. YMMV. - Carbon [Nyan?] 03:01, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, peoples' experience with Vista is extremely dependant on their computer's hardware: if it's got more than 1GB of RAM, a dedicated video card, and all the hardware has mature drivers, Vista works well. If any of these is not met, it works extremely poorly. --Carnildo (talk) 09:36, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

OS upgrade -- is it worth it?[edit]

Is it worth me upgrading from XP to Vista on a 2.4 GHz single core machine? I know nothing at all about Vista. Whats so good about it?--TreeSmiler (talk) 21:55, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I say don't do it. It's got a prettier interface, but it runs slower, fewer things are compatible, and you already have XP so you don't have to pay for anything. (talk) 23:00, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Seconded, don't do it. You're way better off getting FreeBSD or NetBSD for a second partition. --Ouro (blah blah) 17:45, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

Please don't do it, unless you have to. You wouldn't want to buy Vista only to upgrade back to Windows XP. Kushalt 20:32, 26 January 2008 (UTC)