Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2009 April 22

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April 22[edit]

how can people just hack into gov. computers??[edit]

how is it possible to simply hack into a government computer or power grid or whatever? Let's say there wasn't any social engineering with email either. I mean, I just don't get it, if this capability exists couldn't someone technically shut down 80% of every internet end-user because we're all on the same windows operating systems? or couldn't the entire backbone of the internet run by the DoD or DARPA or whatever be shut down? If gov. computers are vulnerable it just seems like nothing is safe. why isn't there trillions of dollars of credit card fraud if you can hack F-35 data filtering 16 digits of credit card data on a 128 bit encryption should be child's play. Any inight into this? thanks, -Rob (talk) 00:26, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I can't remember numbers, but I think a large proportion of hack-jobs involve insiders, which presumably makes the job considerably easier. And for some reason, I think decryption is one of the worst ways of hacking since it's infeasible to attempt to crack some of the stronger algorithms out there (240+) - it's a lot "faster" to look for exploits like open ports and badly-configured control panel areas. x42bn6 Talk Mess 00:39, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Further... If you read an article in mainstream press that states something like "Someone hacked the CIA," it does not mean that someone hacked into a CIA computer that contains anything secure. It means that someone hacked into the CIA webserver, which is obviously accessible from the Internet, and is not considered a "secure" or "high risk" server. Often, the web servers for secure locations aren't even housed in the same building (or state) as the real servers that are used for storage of information. -- kainaw 01:20, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
You say that - but just today I read that many terabytes of design documents for the Joint Strike Fighter were copied by hackers - probably from China: In this case it seems they hacked into computers belonging to the developers of the jets - and from there got into Pentagon computers.
What amazes me is that this information is stored on computers that are connected in any way whatever to the outside world. The best security is physical security - if there are no wires and no wireless connections - then it's going to be very tough indeed for the information to get away. But evidently, even the best kept secrets of the US government are out there on servers that you can reach from the Internet. Incredible. SteveBaker (talk) 03:03, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I read the paper today and i think it said the real real top secret data was physically separated from the internet, but yes, still that terabytes could be stolen out of thin air is just incredible to me. how could there be that many loopholes that net admins aren't monitoring!?? -Rob (talk) 03:23, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Unless I'm reading that article incorrectly, it does not make any sort of claim that hackers got into Pentagon computers. It specifically states that the Pentagon computers are not connected to in any way to the Internet. It states that the hackers got into computers that monitor the flight tests, which record a lot of information about performance and such. Sure - that's bad. However, it isn't the same scale as hopping from AOL to Lockheed to the Pentagon and then downloading all the nation's top secret info. I also like the way the article scales up: It appeared to come from China, but very well could have been anyone since online identities may be spoofed ... It is possible it was China ... China would do something like this ... We are damn certain it was China because we need another reason to convince everyone that China is evil! -- kainaw 05:32, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
There's a name for this: air gap (networking). -- BenRG (talk) 21:44, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
  • This morning there was an article in Dutch papers that said the Chinese government spied by breaking into "secure" computers of the Dutch government. In this case it was possible due to pure ignorance about security on their part. - Mgm|(talk) 09:38, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
You don't have to hack into them, see Data spill (and that lists only a tiny fraction). Only foreign governments are interested in things like CIA records and it's dangerous meddling with them so there's more easy money in things like your credit card details, but even that's not worth much because it is so easy to get such details nowadays, they need thousands to make a good profit. Dmcq (talk) 17:10, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I used to work on the NSSN nuclear submarine program, and they kept all the important data (nuclear reactor, weapons/sonar systems, etc.) on different, secure computers while the majority of the boat was less secure. So, it's quite possible that someone could have broken in and gotten lots of data on the less secure parts, but who wants the plans for crew quarters, galley, and bathrooms ? ("Those yanks have X98 urinal cakes on-board ? Now we know the secret to world domination !") StuRat (talk) 17:42, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Laptop graphics - will it run..[edit]

Hello, I'm thinking about getting hold of some older RPG games to run on a laptop - the amount of memory and processor speed it has seems much greater than that required. However I'm not sure about the graphics - it has an "Intel Mobile 945 Express chip" which I think will use software for much of the rendering - I've heard that sometimes such chips just don't work..

Games I am considering include the old Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series, and maybe Neverwinter Nights

I've done dxdiag successfully to 9.0c.

Should I expect problems (esp on Neverwinter Nights) ? Thanks. (talk) 00:38, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

BG and IWD shouldn't have any problems running, but it depends on the rest of your hardware. If you have a decent CPU and RAM, then you might manage to get NWN running. What are your other system specs? --Russoc4 (talk) 01:29, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
You beat me to it - update - I downloaded a Neverwinter demo (couldn't find demos for BG/Icewind) - curiously - it worked - even with everthing turned on (shadows etc).
However that was just as far as getting the 3D display up and running, moving around, menus etc.
I think I'll take the risk that it continues to work on a full version - unless anyone knows better.?
Is there any reason I should expect problems later on? I can still supply specs if wanted (tell me what figues you need).FengRail (talk) 02:12, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Intel graphics chips are extremely problematic. You might get lucky - but I wouldn't bet on it. If you'd named an older nVidia or ATI chipset, I'd have said "Yes" with a high degree of confidence. SteveBaker (talk) 02:04, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
That's what I had heard hence my suprise when it worked - if it starts ok should I expect it to continue to work - any thoughts?FengRail (talk) 02:14, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Not necessarily - but it's a promising sign! SteveBaker (talk) 03:07, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I'm going to mark as resolved and cross fingers. Thanks.



My brother's laptop with XP won't load the desktop when started up. When running in safe mode, I got the error code 1073741819, which apparently means the computer is infected with a virus. All the fixes I see online involve going to start and then run..which is impossible since the desktop won't load! Any ideas? (talk) 01:26, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Try to start in safe mode: (press F8 as the computer is booting up)

if computer starts shutting down

  2. Click the Task Manager button.
  3. Click the Processes tab.
  4. Click the Image Name column heading to sort the processes alphabetically by name.
  5. Look for a process named Msblast.exe. If you find it, click the name to select the process, and then click the End Process button.
  6. Close the Task Manager

Then go to here and download the tool and run it.

Hope that helps — Ched :  ?  02:23, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

You can access the "run" dialog by pressing and holding the Windows key plus the letter R, irregardless of whether or not explorer is running visible.   — C M B J   04:03, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
No, Windows+R is handled by explorer so you cannot use it when explorer is dead. --wj32 t/c 07:20, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I sincerely apologize. You are right. In the event that explorer is an invisible zombie process, however, it will get the job done.   — C M B J   15:17, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


I just downloaded Dr. Spyware to run a scan, and it found 21 infections of these two viruses: Trojan.CWS and Trojan.ClientMan. First, what exactly are they? Second, this pretty much confirms the reasons behind my computer freezing and crashing and what everyone has said about Windows Live OneCare sucking. Of course, the reason I took it was because some guy at FutureShop recommended it to me. Does anyone working at those electronic retail stores really have a clue about what they're doing? --Whip it! Now whip it good! 03:29, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Hey Whip, re: the various viruses/trojans - I'd just google each term, read the summary on the first few lines to get an idea of what each one is. The following rant, is all WP:OR and IMO only. First, most of the people you find in tech stores are either going to be older folks just supplementing their income, or younger kids either working through school, or looking to get into the technology field. Also, stores are going to have "hot items", sales folks are told what items to push, because of a markup or promotional gig. Live One Care is M$, so it's gonna have a brand recognition advantage. I won't get into what I think about Best Buy. So the answer to your question is: NO, they don't really have a clue - that's not meant as a violation of NPA, just that the folks who do have the ability in the technology fields, don't work those type of jobs. Get yourself a free copy of Spybot S&D, or AdAware - then protect your self with a good AV program. The top free ones would be (AVG, Avast, or Avira). All IMO as I said. — Ched :  ?  03:48, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, and I do have Spybot S&D, which is why I'm so miffed that these viruses got under the radar. BTW, when Dr. Spyware "cleans" the infections, does it really get rid of them? Cause I have the free version. --Whip it! Now whip it good! 05:08, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
As a general policy, I do not certify infected machines as sanitary unless they have been freshly reformatted. You cannot ever be absolutely certain beyond any reasonable doubt that an infection is in fact gone.
With that said, when I am, however, forced to eradicate an infection manually, I use a combination of HijackThis, Autoruns, Process Explorer, Process Monitor, and RootkitRevealer. (Note: These tools are designed for advanced users. Use them carefully under the supervision of someone knowledgable that can provide advice, or seek a qualified friend to do it remotely for you.)
My advice is this: if the machine is used to transmit or store sensitive data; play it safe. It's a whole lot easier to reinstall Windows than it is to clean up identity theft.   — C M B J   04:19, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
P.S. To verify the integrity of a single file, scan it with Jotti and Virus Total. This will test the file up against 30+ different virus scanners.
For future reference, when you are deciding which anti-virus solution to use on your computer, take a look at the latest benchmarks. According to the charts, OneCare has 81.1% detection rate, whereas Kaspersky has 97.1% and AntiVir Premium has 99.7%.   — C M B J   04:28, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Don't trust an antivirus or antispyware product just because it reports an infection that another one doesn't. Some of these products are outright scams which tell you your system is infected so that you will pay for the registered version that can uninfect it. Even the legitimate products (I gather Spyware Doctor is in that category, if that's what you meant by "Dr. Spyware") often report false positives. The vendors don't have a lot of motivation to reduce false positive rates because it helps their bottom line, both by encouraging unregistered users to register and by creating the impression that the product is actively fighting off barbarian hordes when in reality it's just sitting there wasting RAM and CPU. Note the quote from the review at the bottom of the Wikipedia article: "in our trial scans, Spyware Doctor repeatedly flagged several dozen harmless cookies as potential threats, more than any other antispyware product we tested." Were those Trojan.CWS and Trojan.ClientMan infections that it flagged just cookies? If so, you're not infected. -- BenRG (talk) 12:54, 22 April 2009 (UTC) Spyware Doctor would probably not report cookies as Trojans! :O Trojans.CWS refers to CoolWebSearch, an infamous browser hijacker Trojan. The PC Tools description And here's the PC Tools description for ClientMan. Both are real threats and should be removed ASAP. Additional scans should also be run with Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware Both are legitimate programs that well known for their detection and removal capabilities. In fact, MBAM (Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware) recently removed its one billionth piece of malware. :D (MBAM does not target cookies; SAS [SUPERAntiSpyware] does) I should note that Microsoft Live OneCare will be discontinued in June and that it is not a recommended anti-virus. Even McAfee does better in the latest AV Comparatives tests. It is simply not effective enough against malware.--Xp54321 (Hello!Contribs) 23:25, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
One more important note. The free version of Spyware Doctor does not remove detected threats. It only detects them. You're better off with Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware instead. Replace OneCare with avast! or Avira but not AVG Free. (Or any good paid anti-virus; Kaspersky, NOD32, avast! Professional, and Avira AntiVir Premium are all good choices) AVG Free lacks anti-rootkit; something simply not acceptable these days. Rootkits are used by a lot of malware these days to both hide themselves and protect themselves against removal. If anyone wishes to debate my recommendations; please feel free to do so. ;) I will provide links to back them up along with more information on why I consider certain programs to better than others. :)--Xp54321 (Hello!Contribs) 23:33, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


Suppose I wanted to check the movie while it is still downloading....Will it damage the file permanently?What will happen if the % is around 50? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:38, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

It depends what program you're using to download the torrent file. I know LimeWire and FrostWire allow you to preview what you're downloading, playing only the percentage that has been downloaded so far, but I can only say that about audio music files. Don't know about movies. --Whip it! Now whip it good! 03:47, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't know of any bittorrent client that will damage a file if you open it for viewing before its done. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes you won't be able to view the file. 1) bittorrent clients do not download the files in order. If you don't have the parts at the beginning of the file, you cannot view it. 2) Some filesharing clients seem to use some sort of cache mechanism I've never bothered to figure out, so the file isn't where you think it is until it's done. I'm not sure if I've ever seen this in a torrent client, but it's pretty common in programs like Limewire. APL (talk) 04:03, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I have had torrents stop downloading because the data was in use by the media player when an upload request came in. Just had to restart, picked up right where it left off. Was using utorrent. (talk) 18:28, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
What media player were you using? That wouldn't happen unless the media player opened the file for write access, which is just stupid. --wj32 t/c 07:23, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
When I download stuff I sometimes check the first few seconds (if available) to take a look whether that which I am downloading really is what I want, to check quality and things. Never had any interruptions, neither with videos nor with audio. Using Transmission running on Zenwalk Linux. --Ouro (blah blah) 10:49, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Firefox 3 tabs[edit]

I'm not sure if this is belated or if I'm just missing something, but I thought the tab bar didn't show if there was only one tab. I just recently installed Firefox beta but uninstalled it shortly after, but maybe it affected Firefox 3.0 since this was about when I started noticing this. But then again it could be some of the addons I have installed since some of them lost their preferences (no idea why). I always thought the tab bar hid when there was only one tab open was a FF default (at least in ≤3.0)...was it? -- penubag  (talk) 06:02, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I have no idea if it is a FF default or not. But you can change it. Tools→Options→Tabs, and check 'Always show the tab bar'. Oda Mari (talk) 06:27, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
It's not a default (or at least wasn't in v3.0.3)- somehow the setting must have been changed. --Alinnisawest,Dalek Empress (extermination requests here) 17:11, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Software for interior design[edit]

Can someone help on software for use in interior design? The name of the software? Difficulty to learn? Thanks for the help. roscoe_x (talk) 07:12, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Whilst you wait why not browse Category:Computer-aided design software - some are not for interior (architectural design), some are.
Also List of Lighting Design Software might help you in a web search - depending on what sort of thing you were looking for.

How does YouTube generate its unique IDs[edit]

YouTube is using rather short, 11 characters long, unique IDs to identify their videos (see for example this video), and I'm wondering how they generate them and make sure there are no clashes? My assumption is that they generate a standard UUID (36 characters), base64 encode it (22 characters) and finally only keep the first half of the string (11 characters). However, by doing so, isn't there a risk of getting duplicate IDs? What is the theory / reasoning behind generating such short IDs? Laurent (talk) 09:37, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Conversely, what would be the point of generating longer IDs? As long as there are sufficient IDs for all the videos, does it matter if they are 11 characters or 22 characters? Well, yes, because humans don't much care for long strings of random characters. If the URLs are too long, people will feel the need to abbreviate them. In the event of a collision/duplicate ID, youtube can just modify or regenerate the second ID. While there are some very good reasons to make UUIDs secure, none of them apply to youtube video/page IDs. Besides, your suggested "shortened" IDs provide 6411 possibilities—roughly 7.3x1019 (73 quintillion) unique identifiers—well more than youtube is likely to ever need. – 74  10:58, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes 6211 (62 = 26 lower case a..z + 26 upper case A..Z + 0..9) is a big number.
To prevent duplication I would imagine that they would implement some sort of numbering scheme eg start at 0 and work up 1,2,3 etc - to prevent codes looking like "aaaaaaaaaaa" "aaaaaaaaaab" etc they might perform some sort of add followed by bit shift to make the strings look more random - what the exact proceedure is I don't know. —Preceding unsigned comment added by FengRail (talkcontribs)
They don't need to avoid colliding with other people's ID generators like UUIDs do, which makes the problem much easier. They could just use a counter that increments once for every video that's uploaded. If the system is too distributed for that, there are still ways they could densely pack the ID space—for example, each server could request blocks of 1000 IDs from a master server as needed. I don't know how many videos are on YouTube, but I think it's less than 230, so they shouldn't need anywhere close to eleven characters—five should be enough. (And if those ran out they could just bump the length.) But the identitiers are much longer than that and they look random, not sequential. One possibility is that they're using some sort of counter but then obscuring it, e.g. by encrypting it with a block cipher and a fixed key. That would still guarantee no collisions (because block ciphers are invertible). I'm not sure why they'd want to obscure the id, though. Another possibility is that they're generating random IDs and hoping there won't be any collisions. In that case I hope they're aware of the birthday paradox, which says that the probability of a collision will rapidly go to unity when the video count exceeds 233 ≈ 8 billion videos, a number I can imagine them actually reaching some day. They could avoid random collisions by checking with a central server, but if they're going to serialize everything through a central server then it would be easier to just use a counter. -- BenRG (talk) 12:17, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Many thanks all for your help. I wish it wasn't so much WP:OR so that I can add the result of this discussion to the UUID article. I ended implementing a short UUID algorithm using the BenRG's suggestion - i.e. I store in my database a unique number that's incremented each time it's read. I then encrypt this number using a block cipher and a fixed key and finally base64 encode it so that's it's usable in a URL. Again, thanks for your help! Laurent (talk) 15:10, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Just wanted to add the following observation. YouTube video IDs are made of eleven base-64 characters (A-Z, a-z, 0-9, - and _). However, for the last character in the ID, only 16 out of the 64 characters are uniquely used. (For example, in the video pF7snTyCrJs, you can use s, t, u, or v as the last character to get the same video. There are 16 groups of four sequential characters that follow this pattern, so there are really only 16 unique values for the last character.) Thus, the total number of unique IDs is 6410 × 16 = (26)10 × 24 = 264. In other words, the internal ID number is 64 bits. --Bavi H (talk) 03:23, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Please help me understand more about java applets/content panes.[edit]

I want to modify a program that i just completed for a class, and add extra functionality. The program is basically a java applet which allows the user to play minesweeper. I want to add the contents of the current applet to a Jpanel or something so i can add a little section above the game where the user can change the game difficulty by pressing one of three buttons.

What i dont understand though, is how to get the contents of the applet to put it on a Jpanel in the first place. I talked to a friend who happens to have years experience with Java and he told me that there should be a place where the code uses .add, and i dont see it. How is the content added to "Applet", which The public class "MineFinder" extends?

If anyone could help me to better understand what is happening, and how to add the information displayed by my applet to a Jpanel for me to mess with, i would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

Here is my code:

Thanks again! (talk) 15:47, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Your friend is generally correct, but in this case your applet is being a component, rather than containing components (which would indeed be added to it with the add method). The good news is that, with the source code, this is no impediment. You just rewrite your code to inherit from JPanel (or just JComponent) instead of Applet, and then remove the Applet-specific code (principally init(), jbInit(), getAppletInfo(), and getParameterInfo()). Then you can add an instance of your new class (that looks and acts very much like the old class) to a JFrame or so to make an application, or even to another Applet that also contains buttons or whatever. Hope this helps. --Tardis (talk) 00:20, 25 April 2009 (UTC)


I have been reading about remote desktops. I have used remote administration, in that the techies at work prefer to do things this way when staff phone up with queries that are not simple. I know that there are various ways to share screens, and that this lets you virtually look over someone's shoulder -- great for explaining an aspect of a project to a co-worker, e.g. a pdf. What I am trying to find is a way to look at the same webpage at the same time, with the ability to point to and annotate stuff. For example, let's say I phone my brother to choose a present for our parents. I go to to find something suitable, and invite him to the page I found. I click on one item, he says he prefers another and moves his mouse to it, and my cursor moves too. Is there a service like this? BrainyBabe (talk) 16:58, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

What you might be looking for is VNC. Setting it up might be a little complex if your not really IT, but it can be done. Hope this helps – Elliott(Talk|Cont)  19:19, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
If remote desktop is acceptable, take a look at this list of remote desktop software. TeamViewer, for example, is free for personal use, requires zero (and I do mean zero, as it automatically bypasses host and client firewalls,) configuration, and overall handles bandwidth very well. VNC, which is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows, should also be considered as a viable solution. A KVM switch is more akin to what you describe, but it would not be as practical.
If you need any further assistance, or if remote desktop is simply unacceptable, feel free to give me a holler. I'd be glad to help.   — C M B J   03:34, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Where can I get a supercheap big TV or LCD display[edit]

hi there, thanks for any leads or tips you can give me, Wikipedians! I am a PHD student in Los Angeles, California and my colleague and for research purposes (we analyze TV, film and online video content) we need a big flatscreen TV or LCD monitor (maybe about 30inches but could be smaller) for supercheap (almost free or free!) due to our tight budget. Where would be a good place to find such a thing? I know this is a long shot, but this site was recommended to me as somewhere which might come up with a good answer! thank you very much! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:16, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Since you are in Los Angeles, there are refurb factories nearby. They take returned monitors/tvs and check them to see if they are in fact broken (and make minor repairs). The ones that work are resold at a fraction of retail cost. I purchased a 42" LCD television that was $1800 retail for $600 refurbished. Come to think of it... My printer was $300 retail, but I paid $50 refurbished. My two monitors on my computer were $400 retail, but I paid $150 refurbished. My laptop was over $2,000 retail. I paid $900 refurbished. That is the way to go, in my opinion. However, you state that you are a PhD student. You must be going to a university. I've worked at many universities and they all have a supply office which allows you to "borrow" things that aren't being used by others. I borrowed 32 computers (with monitors, keyboards, mice, desks, etc...) once to do networking research. -- kainaw 18:04, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Thanks very much Kainwai!!!! you mean I can go right to the refurb factory and buy equipment? I will look into the supply department angle too! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:32, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Yes. Some refurb factories will sell direct to the public. Some may be under contract to only sell to certain dealers. You are in LA though - so there are many refurb businesses. I see no reason for all of them to be under a contract to sell only to certain dealers. Another option, if you are still looking, is to purchase from a rental company. Again, there are a lot of rental companies to choose from in LA. Along that line, there are a lot of pawn shops, but my experience with pawn shops in LA is that they will give you about 1% of retail when they buy from you and charge 90% of retail when they sell stuff. -- kainaw 04:25, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Google News down?[edit]

Is anyone else getting an HTTP 503 error when browsing to Is the site down or is it a problem with my network? Mike R (talk) 18:37, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Fine here. Algebraist 18:40, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I get a 503 as well. --Russoc4 (talk) 18:45, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Same problem here: "Server Error The service you requested is not available yet." Laurent (talk) 18:46, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I am in the Central US. Could the problem be geographically based? Where are all of you? (Feel free not to answer due to privacy concerns etc.) Mike R (talk) 18:56, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I'm in the UK. I tried accessing the site via a US-based proxy, but it still works for me. Algebraist 18:59, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I've also gotten the error several times today. I wait 30 seconds, refresh, and I do get the results though. — Ched :  ?  19:00, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I am no longer getting the error. Mike R (talk) 19:29, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Here's a nice resource that helps answer your question for any URL: I hope I have been helpful. (talk) 19:01, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the info, that's a helpful site. Mike R (talk) 19:29, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Cursor moves up and down on computer screen all by itself[edit]

Most of the time it behaves, but sometimes it suddenly jumps to the top or bottom of the screen, sometimes it moves just a little (from one memu option to another), sometimes it moves up and down at random even when I'm not touching the mouse. It never moves horizontally. I often do different malware scans, nothing significatant found. I cleaned my mouse shortly before it tarted, but that might be merely coincidence. (talk) 21:28, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I would lean toward a mechanical "problem". Is it an optical mouse? Could you give us any details? Kushal (talk) 01:05, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
It's a common symptom of a mouse with a broken tail. The cable bends and flexes every time you move the mouse and wires are really not good at doing that so they break. When they do, one of two things happens - either you can't move the mouse in one axis because the metal broke and the wire is disconnected - or (as you've found) the insulation between the wires breaks and one of them shorts against the next - then the mouse won't stop moving in one direction. Wiggling the wire will sometimes restore function for a while - but it's going to do it again after another couple of minute's use. I've thrown away literally dozens of mice over the years that failed in exactly this way. If you're desperate and you are handy with tools - you can de-solder the cable - cut maybe three inches off of the end and solder it back again...but I've bought perfectly usable mice for $5 - so I don't think it's worth the effort. SteveBaker (talk) 02:14, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Unless it's a wireless mouse - I which case electromagnetc interference could cause it - I get similar effect at ~11pm as the motors in the central heating go off - shouldn't happen to a digital signal - but does. (Before anyone asks - yes the motors are sparking and should be fixed)FengRail (talk) 04:09, 23 April 2009 (UTC)


Does anyone else hear wonder why blue ray, is so successful, it this where we are going in the next 20 years, isn't the whole 3d shape of a dvd out of date with growing flashdrives, highspeed internet and frostwire. "Blue ray lasers" have a wave legnth of 405 metres which is still within the range of light visible by the human eye, can a ray outside that range still be burned? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ryan Prevost Baldwin (talkcontribs) 22:14, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Blu-Ray is much higher quality than DVD. There is no other viable competitor. With Blu-Ray, if I want to watch a movie, I just pop it in and watch it. With high-speed Internet, I can download a movie at lower quality (Blu-Ray is 1080p and our on-demand HD is 1080i). Of course, I can't watch it right away because it takes about 8 hours to download the movie. I can drive to Blockbuster and rent a Blu-Ray version of a movie I don't have faster than waiting for it to download. As for flashdrives, it is possible to put movies on many different storage formats. Discs are easy to store. The case is just about the right size for scanning a stack of blu-rays and easily seeing which one you want to watch. So, this all comes down to asking why DVDs were so popular when everyone had VHS tapes or why CDs were so popular when everyone had cassette tapes or why cassettes were so popular when everyone had LPs or why the next storage medium will be so popular when everyone has blu-rays. -- kainaw 03:24, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Flash/stick/pen drives do seem to me to have potential to take market share from Blu-Ray. They have the advantages of being more portable (a Blu-Ray won't fit in your pocket), and have more storage capacity, so you can store an entire season of a TV show on one versus just a few episodes on Blu-Ray. The moving parts in a Blu-Ray player guarantee that it will break down in a few years, and waste electricity until it does. A Blu-Ray disk is also more fragile and subject to breaks, scratches, and delamination. Flash drives can be rewritten, too, or made as read-only devices. The price for flash/stick/pen drives is a bit more, at the moment. The real disadvantage, currently, is that flash drives don't have read speeds high enough to play 1080p directly, so you'd have to copy from there to a hard drive first. When this improves, watch out Blu-Ray. StuRat (talk) 14:03, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
USB 3.0 has the speed requirements and is supposed to be available next year. --Wirbelwindヴィルヴェルヴィント (talk) 06:28, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't have the copy-protection requirements though. Until the entertainment industry feels that copying a USB movie is at least as much of a pain for the average person as copying a Blu-Ray, they won't be interested in USB. -- kainaw 19:13, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Good use for a Caps Lock key?[edit]

Does anybody know of a good use for a Caps Lock key? One day while at work I realized that the only time I ever hit the caps lock key was by accident, so I found a screwdriver and pried it out of my keyboard. I now have a new & improved 103-key keyboard (patent pending) and love it, but I also have a useless caps lock key cap that I don't know what to do with. Any suggestions?

Real question: Can I do the same with my laptop? Can laptop keys be removed as easily as desktop computer keyboards without doing real damage? I have a Toshiba Satellite A205 series. -- Tcncv (talk) 23:45, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

On my Toshiba Satellite Pro A100 I can remove and reattach keys without problems. An alternative solution would be to remap the capslock key to do something useful. Algebraist 23:48, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
If you have a word processing software, you can always set case in it if you made a mistake. I don't really use the caps lock but some people might need it *cough* Oprah *cough*. Kushal (talk) 01:01, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm also a rabid caps-lock hater. Generally, I lever off the keycap, pour plenty of super-glue into the hole beneath - then cut the bottom quarter inch off the bottom of the keycap and epoxy the cap back in place. Sure, I could remap it - but that hardly expresses my distaste adequately. As an alternative - you can get one of these [1] and glue that onto the capslockectomy site. As for the left over key...hmmm...high explosives? SteveBaker (talk) 01:55, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I just tell the computer to remap the caps lock key to nothing. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 02:26, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
The Colemak keyboard layout replaces Caps Lock with a second Backspace key; you might give that a try (or, as jpgordon said, just remap it to nothing instead of removing it). – 74  02:43, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I use the caps lock key rather often. When someone claims that a computer is not responding, I press the caps lock key. If the little light turns on, the computer is still functioning. If it doesn't, the computer is no longer responding to the keyboard. This often shows how bogged down it is. If it takes 5 seconds or so to turn on, the computer is running at max processing power on something rather nasty. For me, it isn't for capitalizing text, it is a quick PC diagnostic key. -- kainaw 03:18, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Yeah - that's a useful diagnostic - but you have NumLock AND ScrollLock that both do the same you don't NEED CapsLock for that. SteveBaker (talk) 15:12, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
First of all caps are very useful - there got it off my chest. As is the caps lock key. I like to press caps lock, scroll lock, and num lock in rapid succession and watch the lights go on and off - who needs drugs.
Uses - scrabble - that's quite a good score. Otherwise make a pendant - sell it to a geekFengRail (talk) 04:06, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I use the caps lock key reasonably often, for, I guess, its intended purpose: connecting to an IBM mainframe, which likes to be talked to in all-caps. Something of a special case (ho ho) though. (talk) 07:37, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Take it off anyway. It stops others wanting to "borrow" your keyboard. When you need to use ALL CAPS (just typed with shift) you can still operate the switch with a biro. A set of removed caps lock keys make good "jacks" for juggling with, as an anti-RSI exercise for the hands. (talk) 13:01, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
I use caps lock as a backspace and my older laptop's caps-lock key wore out and fell off. There was no way to put it back (glue might have worked but with my skills I had probably jammed the rest of the keyboard too). I think you can remove it carefully if you are not planning to put it back. -- (talk) 09:15, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Some entertaining and useful ideas in this thread. I enjoyed reading it. --Dweller (talk) 10:48, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I grew up with Sun Oracle keyboards, which had a Ctrl key where the CapsLock is on PC keyboards, so I just remap my caps lock key to that. It's a lot more comfortable than reaching way down to the corner. --Sean 13:38, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
The only time I would use it is when entering a lot of text as uppercase, such as on the title page of a document. However, I agree that it's probably hit by mistake more often than on purpose. They really should move it away from the A, perhaps it could be stuck over with the Print Screen/Scroll Lock/Pause buttons. That leaves open the question of what to put in it's place. Perhaps a reverse tab ? That is, what shift-tab does at present (returns you to the previous field in a form). StuRat (talk) 13:47, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I JUST USE IT TO SHOUT! To be honest though I did just type that with the shift-key held down rather than caps-lock maybe the caps-lock is a bit of a waste of time ny156uk (talk) 16:24, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for all the ideas. I popped it off my laptop, but with the exposed mechanism underneath, it wasn't as clean a fix as on my desktop. I'll pursue the remap approach. -- Tcncv (talk) 22:16, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

I use the CAPS LOCK semi-regularly at work. Some of our branches use alpha-numeric locations in their warehouses and the alpha part has to be entered in CAPITAL letters. So, when I need to do a lot of entering involving those locations, it's easier for me to CAPS LOCK it to avoid accidentally making a % instead of a 5 (especially since that's a wildcard character on my WMS... Matt Deres (talk) 01:42, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Another use is being able to type with correct case with one hand - while, say, eating with the other. Sure, it's possible to use shift-key combinations with one hand, but I find hitting CapsLock, a, CapsLock, n, ... a lot more comfortable. - IMSoP (talk) 17:52, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

DRM strip[edit]

i downloaded the Robot Chicken Star Wars Specials and can play them on iTunes 7.6, but on iTunes 8, it says that my computer is not authorized to play the videos. I can play them on QuickTime, but can't convert them. I've already paid for the videos and don't want to buy them again. Can i use a program to get rid of this DRM?

PS: I've tried re-authorizing my computer, but even though i can play songs and other videos, i can't play these two videos.

 Buffered Input Output 23:51, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure if it works with video but with songs from iTunes you can just write them as an audio-cd and then download them. If you could do the same burning to disc and reimport it might wipe the DRM. ny156uk (talk) 22:33, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

iTunes doesn't allow ripping video, so you'll need a DVD importer. Dendodge T\C 15:28, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
This won't get rid of your DRM but it might help you play it. It sounds like iTunes 8 isn't linked to your itunes account yet. Go to (and this is coming from memory) tools (edit: It might be under Store. It's one of the things on the top bar where File and whatnot is), then look for something like "Authorize machine" and click it. It should prompt you for your itunes account name and password. Now your video should play. If it doesn't I'd suggest talking to itunes support. Gunrun (talk) 08:28, 27 April 2009 (UTC)