Disabling SuperFetch on Vista

I just disabled Superfetch, and suddenly, my hard drive fell silent. It’s awesome I’m telling you! Most of the time how it works is this: I boot up the computer, and it gets to the logon screen, I type my password, and wait for about 30 seconds before I can see the desktop, all the while the disk is churning and clicking like mad (dude it’s really starting to worry me, why do hard drives come with 3 year warranties when people say that hard drives fail when they click? this thing is clicking like mad, and it’s only been 4 months!). As a result, everything starts slower because everything’s trying to read the disk at the same time, but SuperFetch is trying to read pretty much 40% of the programs I have on my system, so it turns out that the system actually is slower when SuperFetch is copying programs from disk to memory. I don’t need to mention the horrible clicking sounds again, do I?

Okay, so SuperFetch isn’t all that bad. It tries to use up my RAM (ATM reports 1.2GB free without SuperFetch at the moment – ho ho such a nice pun) and it supposedly makes things faster once everything’s loaded into RAM. Problem is, it does take some time to load everything into RAM, and during that time my HDD’s life expectancy is being slowly depleted. I mean, I defrag my drive so that the head doesn’t have to work too hard zipping all around the drive and clicking while it does so, but when SuperFetch and 10 other ‘essential’ Windows services are accessing the HDD at the same time, the head still has to jump around a lot, so the effect is pretty much like having a heavily fragmented drive. Plus, as SuperFetch copies programs from the hard disk to RAM, things actually run slower instead.

So I guess the moral is this: if you’ve got a desktop that runs 24/7, SuperFetch is only going to kick in when you boot it, and after about 10 minutes of thrashing it’s going to be relatively well behaved and sit in the background. For a laptop which is frequently turned on/off SuperFetch hogs the hard drive, so you can’t start working until like, 10 minutes later or something without having to wait longer than usual for a program to start up. And isn’t that what SuperFetch is supposed to fix, anyway? Sad.

Ah, what a silent hard disk! I’ve never had such a nice, quiet computing experience on this laptop before, except when I ran XP on it (no SuperFetch, yay!). Linux is slightly better than Vista, because it doesn’t have SuperFetch, but then again I spent hours trying to figure out how to get everything else working, so it doesn’t count. It actually logs in faster now! Photoshop is slower starting up now, though. Nero seems to start up faster. foobar2000 starts up slightly slower, but then it’s running all the time, and when I close and restart it, it comes up quicker than before. Apparently that has nothing to do with SuperFetch, then.

I think I’ll just keep SuperFetch disabled.

Compal GL31 BIOS notes

Intel’s Download Center says that the latest BIOS is 025A. Well according to Compal.com, the latest is actually 116A – but wait a minute, how come the numbers changed? WTF is going on?


Thank you.

Apparently 025A is just before 114A. Grr. And I don’t have the resources to boot into a DOS environment and flash my BIOS. Oh well, it’s not like I needed to anyway.

HGL30/HGL31 BIOS Change Notification 03/15/2007


*GL30114A.ROM Checksum: 1005h
*GL30114A.WPH Checksum: 6948h

Change notification:
1. Default builds with EC 22A
2. Change version number from 027A

Issue Fixed:

Function Modified:

Other Notices

HGL30/HGL31 BIOS Change Notification 03/05/2007


*GL30027A.ROM Checksum: B603h
*GL30027A.WPH Checksum: 0F46h

Change notification:
1. Default builds with EC 22A
2. Change Intel VGA BIOS from 1413 to 1436 for 3D Mark issue.

Issue Fixed:
1. Fix system hang-up with some 1394 CardBus Card + 1394HDD.
2. Add 1394 HDD workaround with VIA 1394 + Prolific 1394 Client.

Function Modified:

Other Notices

HGL30/HGL31 BIOS Change Notification 02/13/2007


*GL30026A.ROM Checksum: D485h
*GL30026A.WPH Checksum: 2D0Bh

Change notification:
1. Default builds with EC 22A

Issue Fixed:
1. Change Option ROM sequence in ROM.SCR to
avoid some HGL31 sku S3 failure in WinXP.

Function Modified:
1. Add Merom-L (014h) and Merom -L2 (051h) MicroCode.

Other Notices

EDIT: I searched for Compal HGL31 BIOS 30 minutes after posting this, and Google showed this already! Whoa!

EDIT2: Nope, the new BIOS does not give any OCing abilities 😀 like hell it would. So I updated the flash to 116A, which supports the low-voltage Merom CPUs, not that I have one anyway. So what was the point? Nothing really… kinda like how I updated my Liteon SSM-8515S drive to the latest GS09 firmware, I also updated the BIOS. No huge changes noted.

A Perilous Experience with a Tiger

Yesterday I dined with Uncle Mike and Aunt Florence. That was good. Then I came home and plonked down on the bed at 9pm, posted the previous post you see on the blog, and downloaded uphuck’s OS X patch, and slept until 3am.

And that was where the bad stuff started. I deleted Linux to make way for OS X. Now, since GRUB looks to the Linux partition’s /boot/grub/menu.lst for its menu, it wouldn’t work at all when the computer booted and it suddenly realized that its home had been razed to the ground. No matter, I say to myself: OS X will come up, and by then I’ll figure out some way to get a bootloader going again, and in a best case scenario it’ll recognize my Windows Vista partition and offer to boot it (if Apple is so tolerant of other OSes).

So I popped in the OS X DVD+RW. One thing I realized about the installation process was that it was DOG SLOW. My DVD drive sounded like it was going bonkers, zipping from one region of the disk to another – why can’t they align all the sectors up so that the laser head doesn’t have to move around? The installation disk is pretty fixed – it should be easy to predict which files would be needed after which file, and thus place them in order. But no, apparently not. It’s just the same thing as with when I installed Jaguar on that Powerbook G3 Lombard at home, although I thought it was just because of that old CD-ROM drive.

I finally got to the installation screen, and there weren’t any volumes for me to choose to install Tiger to. I dragged out the Disk Utility (which in turn lashed at the DVD drive) and it didn’t let me delete the partitions at all. I mean, what kind of disk utility is that? It should be able to at least let me create and delete partitions, but it just doesn’t have the ‘delete’ button (that’s for the entire disk, which is a no no). I didn’t have a Linux live CD, so I pulled out my Windows Vista installation disk (slimmed down through vLite) and proceeded to delete the Linux partitions there before rebooting into the Tiger DVD again.

Then I found that the stupid POS Disk Utility wouldn’t let me create a partition either. I pulled out the Terminal and invoked fdisk, but it was speaking an extremely foreign language. It also didn’t help that all disks on the system were /dev/rdisk0s2 or something, and I didn’t know that rdisk1 was the DVD drive, for instance, or that rdisk0 was the HDD. So I had to waste all that time and go back into the Vista installation disk again, create a new partition, and cancel the installation right after and boot into Tiger again.

Finally, it would install. All right! It looked like it was going to take up 2.3GB, which is not too bad, Linux charges you the same amount if you want X11. I installed it, and checked the appropriate drivers. And rebooted.

Oh baby, it was wonderful! I actually had Mac OS X on my machine! I mean, it just doesn’t get any better than this. CPU frequency scaling works out of the box, the multimedia keys worked too, and the alt key became my Command key. iTunes played the music, but it copied everything over to the OS X volume at the same time, which was not what I wanted, so I used Quicktime player instead. Having used the Powerbook G3 before, I worked like an ace in OS X… until I found out that it didn’t connect to the internet. Why? Because it didn’t detect my ethernet, a Realtek RTL8139.

I swore – didn’t I already install that package? I installed it again, rebooted multiple times (Tiger boots fast, and shuts down quickly too, and doesn’t hit the disk as much as Vista, and Spotlight, Tiger’s indexing application, works very nicely without hitting the disk either). It still didn’t work. Since I couldn’t access the internet at all (now Vista was complaining that winload.exe was corrupted, and OS X wouldn’t recognize my ethernet card, I was royally screwed) I was really fucking screwed. But I managed to learn how kexts function. They’re kinda like Linux kernel modules, except that kextunload doesn’t quite work, and depmod is kextcache -e. And I have to put ‘sudo’ in front of everything, just like in Ubuntu, but OS X’s terminal emulator sucks balls. An example: the home key doesn’t take me to the beginning of the line, it takes me to the goddamn top of the scrollback buffer. Same with the end button.

Eventually I gave up. I asked my friend to let me download a 30MB Arch Linux iso, and he willingly did. I erased the OS X image on my DVD+RW (what a pity, it would be a good OS if only it let me connect to the internet, also NTFS-3G works on OS X! Wow) and set to work on installing Linux.

Now, it was night. Yes, I spent the day getting this done. I actually went to class in between, too! Anyway I decided to sleep for a while since I was getting worn out and I didn’t want to wait and see even more progress bars scrolling towards the right of the screen (I’ve had enough of that installing OS X, thank you very much) even though it was just 90MBs… and so while Arch Linux was downloading everything I turned in and slept for 4 hours.

When I woke up it was night time and apparently everybody was getting out the Friday night party atmosphere. I stayed in here, though. Installed Arch, then looked online for some way to get a real Vista installation disk (mine was at home, and the one I had with me was a vLite stripped version which didn’t have the Windows Recovery Environment). It really sucked. I installed rtorrent, irssi and DC++ all in one go to maximize my chances of finding a fast source (everybody knows how big Vista is even on DVD). In the end, rtorrent proved to be the fastest, since all the files I downloaded over irssi had CRC errors and DC++ just didn’t have a single image of the sort, and I had to go to the Pirate Bay to find a suitably fast torrent.

It was then when I found out that actually, I wasn’t using a Realtek RTL8139 ethernet chip – it was the 8111B! FUCK! Why didn’t I download that kext beforehand to prevent such a waste? I wasted an entire day on this stupid OS and my ethernet chip… oh goddammit. In any case, I finally got that Vista image, and learned a lot about irssi in the meantime (it looks damn cool). Then there was the problem of burning it to DVD+RW. I’m pretty bad at this in Linux, all I have experience is with cdrecord, which was exactly what didn’t work (along with its brother dvdrecord). After 40 minutes of nothing and failed burns (thank lord for DVD+RWs!) I used
growisofs -dvd-compat -Z /dev/sr0=Vista.iso
I got a working copy of the image burnt onto the DVD. From then on, everything went as planned. Thank lord.

And so I’m typing this on Vista, having deleted that Linux/OS X partition into which I’ve poured so many hours over the past few days, and extended my NTFS partition to regain that lost space, and only a few files from Mac OS X to show for it (as seen above).

Lessons learned: always keep a recovery CD around with you. One for Windows, and one for Linux. I’m thinking Gentoo for the latter.

An Even Briefer Linux Foray

As you can see, I tried Linux again, but this time with xubuntu. As a busy university student, I do appreciate the extra effort that the ubuntu developers made into making this distro desktop friendly. Yes, Ubuntu is desktop friendly, I just like XFCE more. Don’t you agree, with a wallpaper like that and compiz showing all these fancy transparency effects? I even have this awesome workspace switching plugin that prints a really stylish arrow in the middle of the screen. X11 works and uses 1280×800 out of the box, with the proper graphics driver. Sound works out of the box. CPU frequency scaling, controlled by the kernel, works out of the box. The LCD brightness and multimedia keys don’t work, though, so battery life isn’t as good as Vista’s. I’m sure I can correct that if I work hard enough on it, but for now I’m pretty satisfied. I mean, with a desktop like that, you really can’t complain.

Plus, Openoffice.org even reads .docx files!

So if I’m so satisfied with xubuntu (which is taking up ~2GB of space, all the music/pictures are on the Vista partition instead, I’m very satisfied with ntfs-3g, which may I add was included in the default install, why am I saying that this is an ‘even briefer Linux foray’? Well, it’s pretty simple: I’ve got an image of OS X Tiger patched to work on PCs, as you can see in one of my thunar screenshots above. Later!

n.p. Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Akira Symphonic Suite) Tetsuo

A Decidedly Brief Linux Foray

I bought a DVD+RW today, I’ve pretty much had it with DVD-R media of any sort. No other media has given me so many problems with ‘power calibration’ and the like. I burned a 100MB iso of Arch Linux onto the beautiful, untouched surface, ran PerfectDisk on my Windows partition to consolidate free space (I love it, it’s much less bloated than Diskeeper and provides several defragmentation schemes).

I booted into the DVD, saw that it wanted me to boot the arch kernel, and duly typed in ‘arch’. After waiting about 20 seconds for the initrd.img to load, I found myself staring at the kernel bootup text again for the umpteenth time in my life. And it detected my Intel 3945ABG PCI-e x1 wireless adapter. So far, so good. I was thinking I had to download the driver from some website and patch it into the official kernel.

Then it stood there. Not doing anything. The CD drive spun down, and I was waiting… waiting… and then I finally gave it the 3-finger salute and tried it all over again. Nope, still hung there. It’s great that you know the name of my wireless adapter, but don’t just hang there! I looked at the kernel selection screen, wondering if ‘nohwdetect’ would help – or was that only for good old Gentoo? It looks like the good old Linux woes that caused me to swear against Linux being used on any high-end desktop/ordinary laptop have come back, and this time, I’m going to write them down and tell everybody exactly why Linux is just not ready for the desktop. (Running the ‘lowmem’ kernel skipped the wireless thing, and it worked now)

I prepared my hard drive (Windows Vista is so polite it can shrink its NTFS partition for me so I don’t have to use 3rd party programs) with only 1GB of swap (with 2GBs of RAM, I doubt Linux’d be hitting the swap anytime soon) and ext3 (hey, who cares, it’s only a test platform). Installing the base system, blablabla, okay, done. I reboot into my new kernel, and there, it works. It works! I install elinks, htop, fluxbox, xorg, gnome, inkscape, gimp, firefox, rxvt-unicode, eog, even ntfs-3g and fuse, everything’s working fine and dandy, I love it! At this point it’s only taking 2.5GBs, while it seems to me that my Program Files folder in Windows is taking up 30GBs of space (don’t ask me). It seems that XMMS2 is ready for consumption, so I installed it to check it out. It seems to work, even starts, but I could not for the life of me get those damn GUI clients working. Abraca 0.2, a GTK2 client, has an interface which looks nice, except that the middle panel is purely for search results and so wastes a lot of space when I’m not doing anything on it. Then I click File->Add. What the fuck? Nothing’s being added! I don’t see anything! I click madly around. I create a new playlist called moo. I try to click here and there. I try to delete moo… and wait a minute… it’s not disappearing! I just clicked delete, pressed yes, and it didn’t go away! Later on I somehow managed to get files appearing by using the xmms2-cli client instead, but when I double-clicked on a file, it would play a totally different song! Just how retarded is this? Wait… how did this program even make it past 0.1? Okay, try gxmms2. The official source package from the website fails to compile. I download a copy from Arch Linux’s AUR website. Hey, guess what? It says I need xmms2 – which I’ve already installed. I remove the line of code that says I need xmms2, and voila it fails while compiling. Then I get desperate, trying out those python applications with gtk bindings and stuff… and they all never work in the end.

Okay, so screw XMMS2. I install Amarok. Amarok comes at a hefty 70MB thanks to the Qt libraries (70MB media player? In Windows I’d be crying foul already, but hey I love Amarok). Amarok uses the xine engine for playback, which I haven’t heard from in some time, but it seems to work pretty well. I install and run it and let it build its collection of music (you gotta love ntfs-3g). I play some Maison Ikkoku, and all seems well, and I even edit a few album tags (which proves that ntfs-3g works, I’m typing this on Vista and I just verified it), and heck, even my Carpenters DTS SACD rip works, although the tags didn’t seem to show up. I’m very impressed so far… then I realize that it’s not playing any of my APE files, and that whenever I doubleclick on a song to play it, it takes several seconds for the interface to be usable again. Specifically my Rachmaninov Piano Concerto files… which is a real deal-breaker here. So I Google to find how to get Amarok playing APE, and apparently it needs the gstreamer engine. Arch Linux only provides the xine engine, and GStreamer was misbehaving when I tried out Rhythmbox earlier today, so I decided to call it a lost cause. I also don’t need to mention that my SPC, PSF, GBS and NSF collections didn’t work. Oh, and one last thing: REPLAYGAIN DOESN’T WORK. The deal was broken already.

Okay, so maybe MPlayer will do the trick. I get MPlayer 1.0rc2 (hey, they updated by one rc while I was gone!) and configure and compile (oh baby, Linux on a high end laptop is so fast… make –j3 flew through MPlayer in 3 minutes, while I remember waiting 30 minutes for my VIA C3 laptop to compile, and almost as long for my Celeron 600 machine back home to compile). I love dual core processors, especially dual cores which are running at 1.6GHz and have higher IPC than an Athlon XP. Oh, and add 2GBs of RAM into that too, heh! It’s finally running, although I forgot to enable gmplayer, and I go to my NTFS partition and play some good old Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (Hauu’s MKV h264+aac encodes). Right off the bat I notice VIDIX doesn’t work. I google and find that actually there’s no VIDIX drivers for Intel graphics at all – I was really surprised since Intel was supposed to be more supportive of open source adaptation of its graphics chips. No matter, xv works. And indeed it works… hey where’s my subtitles? Hmm… I can’t be bothered to go through the manpage for that! I’m here to watch anime, not code! I’m sure it’s easily enabled, although you’ll have to watch mplayer’s output carefully to find out which Matroska stream is the subtitles, and then look up the appropriate command to load that stream as well… no idea why it wouldn’t automatically load it, you know.

Then I watch some BSS-Anon HD encodes of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Wait a damn minute, why is mplayer crashing? Come back! I run it from the CLI, and xv keeps on talking about ‘insufficient resources’ or something like that. Hey now, I’m pretty sure you have enough VRAM for that! I mean, if you can display at 1280×800 you can surely afford enough space for a video overlay. VIDIX wouldn’t have had this problem at all, I just know that, and when you move the window around, you wouldn’t see the colour key either. Goddamn xv – the color key for today, I noticed, was blue.

Ah, whatever. Let’s get some custom kernel action going! I download a fresh 2.6.23 from kernel.org, patch it with uvesafb, give up on v86d (how the fuck do you work it anyway) and proceed to go through the entire make menuconfig like I’ve done countless times before. I compile, find that it’s loading a module called scsi_wait_scan.ko, and I get miffed and dive in to take it out (I had a bad experience with modules in the past. Yes, my VIA C3 again, although I must add that modules have worked flawlessly for me ever since. It’s a preference thing). Then I reboot.

For some reason, this new kernel insists on referring to my SATA hard disk and DVD+RW drive as /dev/hda and /dev/hdc instead of the proper /dev/sda etc. So I had to edit my /etc/fstab to get it to work. But once I got in there, I found that the Intel i915 framebuffer was corrupting my beautiful Tux logo which I’d set up, plus it was taking longer to boot than the official Arch Linux kernel. I decided to give up on widescreen framebuffer at the moment, and go back to enabling a more useful feature: CPU frequency scaling.

Now, I’m really grateful to have a laptop with an Intel CPU. See, the VIA C3 would always crash whenever a DMA access was issued at the same time as a CPU frequency change. So whenever I was doing normal office type work, it would crash all the time, and there was no way to get around it, it’s just the way the VIA C3 is. Heck, it even crashes under Windows when you enable frequency scaling! So I was anxious to see Speedstep working on my Core Duo. I loaded the speedstep-centrino module (for some reason the speedstep-ich and speedstep-smi refused to load, complaining about missing hardware or something although I’m very sure that the Intel 945GM’s southbridge is named ICH-something). Then I installed cpufreqd. Nope, wasn’t scaling at all, but the GNOME cpufreq applets finally showed up. I fiddled around a bit, read the cpufreq.conf, which seemed reasonable, except there was no way to switch between those profiles. I tried clicking at the GNOME applets that said ‘on demand’ and ‘performance’, but I could see no frequency change whatsoever. I’m not even sure if the voltage switching would work if the frequency scaling worked. Then suddenly, I don’t know how, but I managed to get it at 800MHz while I was compiling mplayer again L. Fortunately, make –j3 saved the day, and it was still faster than if I compiled it with my Athlon XP 1800+. Meanwhile, I was frantically fiddling around and ‘echo’ing ‘powersave, ondemand, userspace’ into the scaling_governor in /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/ directory. Nope, no frequency change, despite the fact that cpufreqd must have noticed that I’m using 100% CPU now and thus scaled up my frequency to 1.6GHz. Fuck! I uninstalled cpufreqd, installed cpudyn instead, and I don’t know how, but it suddenly worked. The GNOME applets would now say 800MHz and 1.6GHz whenever I did something, I noticed that they jumped up to 1.6GHz especially when I was using Firefox.

However by this time I was pretty jaded already. Vital parts of my audio collection weren’t playing, most of the audio players were inferior to foobar2000, Nautilus provides no way to display only 16:10 images so I can quickly browse through my wallpaper collection to find widescreen wallpapers, VIDIX just wasn’t working and xv wouldn’t play HD videos at all. Plus, I haven’t even gotten around to trying to get my multimedia card reader and webcam to work. I don’t think I need any more reason to ditch Linux.

I gotta give Realtek some props, though – their driver utility for ALC883 was really good, and actually worked as advertised… unlike some other apps I encountered today. Perhaps I just don’t have enough time or will to be patient with Linux like I did last time. It’s also because I only have one computer this time around, and a lot of its features will have to work, and the software will have to be comparable in order for it to be a Windows replacement.

EDIT: Okay now I’m back with XUbuntu this time around. Sound, network, graphics and frequency throttling work right out of the box, which is a good thing. On the other hand, I’m kinda worried about my DVD+RW… it’s getting darker and darker each time I rewrite it. Is there a limit to how many times I can use a DVD+RW?

8bit LCDs vs. 6bit LCDs

Read this article by bit-tech.net. Right away I suspected that my Compal GL31 might have a 6 bit LCD. I mean, c’mon. It’s a freaking laptop, one which isn’t marketed as a high end one. But I still wanted to make sure for myself.

So I went out and Googled, and found this. Basically you have to download a bitmap which shows certain colours that a 6bit LCD wouldn’t like. Using my trusty ColorZilla Firefox extension, I’ve determined these colours to be.. oh wait a minute, Firefox can’t blow up the image so I can see the gradient lines. Wait, Photoshop to the rescue:
#161616… I’m starting to see a pattern here. Skipping ahead:
To compare these colours to other greys, just subtract 1 from each colour component. So if you were to view a #383838 band next to a #373737 one, you’d see that the #373737 one is pretty solid compared to the #383838 which will have a slight pattern caused by the dithering on the LCD panel. No, zooming in does not help, you have to physically go put your eye next to the monitor. I like this side of geekiness.

So I confirmed that my LCD is actually 6bit. Nothing to shout at mom for – this laptop was marketed as a budget model, through and through, with its GMA950 graphics and all. Still, it’s kinda disappointing given that I’ve got Photoshop on this sucker.

I still wanted to find out the manufacturer of this LCD, though, so I hopped onto the internet and searched for AUO1344. Turns out that AUO is some Chinese company (surprise surprise), but I couldn’t find a AUO1344 anywhere on their website. I searched around again, and came across this cached Google page of a forum. This guy is basically trying to play his lovely dating sim game (I don’t know that game) which is made in 4:3 aspect ratio, just like all the Sakura Taisens and… pretty much every damn dating sim coming out of Japan nowadays, in his spanking new AUO1344 monitor with a 16:10 aspect ratio, which he says is named:
Monitor Name AU Optronics B141EW01 V3
Wow, thanks! I go back to the website, and it doesn’t have a B141EW01, but it does have a B141EW02. I take a look at that, and thank lord for Chinese straightforwardness – it says 262K for Number of Colors, which means that it’s a 6bit LCD all right.

Then I found out that in Everest, right below that AUO1344 line, was the B141EW01 V3 line already. Sigh. Anyway, good to know other people have this LCD panel besides me. I don’t see anything wrong with this panel, actually, so I won’t complain. In fact, I’m very happy to have a laptop that can emulate Neo Geo games and play music and shit and have 80GBs of storage already. Why am I thankful for this? Well, because my last laptop was that crappy VIA C3 I told you all about in ‘Ode to a Gentoo Linux install‘… what, you haven’t read it yet? Go read it now! Anyway, a step up from 256MB to 2048MB in RAM sure is fun. And anything would be an improvement over that S3 Savage, for which VIDIX never worked. And that VIA C3 couldn’t freq-throttle to save it’s life… it’d crash. And get 1 hour’s worth of battery life. I have here 4 hours of battery life. Damn, what a step up. So I’m not complaining about my new laptop.

Although Yonah is based on late 2005 technology…

Minimalism: a work in progress

After seeing psycoB and his ports of XP msstyles, I decided to get on the bandwagon and hack some msstyles. Fortunately I had foreseen this day and had downloaded UKIntel’s guides and reference images on which images go where. I also learned a couple things about Vista: namely that everything is stored as a 32bit PNG.. or was that a 24bit PNG? I’m not sure, but I don’t care. Anyway I decided that what Vista needs most is a totally black theme (like Lakrits for XP or DAV5 or CORE, all downloadable from Deviantart) so I set about making one (well aware that someone might just finish a similar looking design before I come out with mine).

I don’t know about you guys, but I make/choose themes that suit my wallpaper. And I have quite a few wallpapers.

This is a Keiji Gotoh wallpaper, with this work in progress msstyle for Vista. I installed Windowblinds and found that it decreased my battery life by a whole hour. Well, actually, half an hour compared to ordinary Aero. And a lot of the Windowblinds styles were created for XP (the official WB themes, as usual, suck) so they look really bad if you open up a window or something, especially with Vista’s totally different Explorer windows.

So basically I think the taskbar is the best looking part of the whole thing, which is why I’m putting it up. I haven’t found out how to modify that arrow down there by the taskbar, though, so if you mouse over it (which I will not do) you’ll find it’s the stock Vista icon. When I have more time I’ll skin the minimize, maximize and close buttons. But not today. Why? Because I have a midterm coming up Monday. Duh. And I haven’t eaten dinner yet, thanks to this POS I spent 3 hours figuring out.

When nothing really happened

I realized that sometimes there are just days where you can’t really think of anything to post. So I created a new category for this. I’ve been socializing around today (pretty much all there is to talk about) and although I haven’t made any progress, I’ve established connections. A guy on my floor just installed the UT3 demo and we played it on his 2nd gen Macbook Pro, the Santa Rosa one with the Geforce 8600. With everything cranked up, UT3 ran really smoothly. I’m impressed with the 8600, but we couldn’t game online at all. According to him, Bioshock was boring, and Vista sucked. I kinda agreed.

I got XP SP2 installed in a virtual machine just to compare it with Vista. I still haven’t decided whether I should switch to XP from Vista. I came up with a few reasons why XP is better:

1. I can apply lots of good looking visual styles even without Windowblinds. And no matter which I choose, none of those styles will affect my battery life.

2. I don’t have 60+ processes all screaming for CPU time. Though really I don’t know if this is a significant argument, since I don’t know whether I see the effects of this in real life. Vista runs pretty well on my Core Duo.

3. Applications work. This includes Nero 6.6 (my favourite Nero of all time), modo (all versions), and I like Diskeeper 9. Diskeeper 10 is a load of hogwash.

4. This is a very small point, since I have vLite, but XP itself uses very little disk space compared to Vista. Also, I can control how much space XP uses for its System Restore feature. However, this is easily mitigated by the fact that all those patches for XP really add up.

Really, I can’t think of any more reasons to switch to XP. However, I really miss the first point.

Now as for why I should stick to Vista

1. So I don’t waste my time getting the computer to the way it was.

2. More themes should be coming out soon…. hopefully they’ll look better.

3. So I don’t regret wiping Vista when I install XP (really, this feeling of mine goes around all the time).

Really, I should just stick with Vista all the way so that my grades really don’t get affected. Then again, Vista sure is ugly…. and all the Windowblinds themes out there don’t work properly with Vista’s UI changes. I’ll install Windowblinds 6 on XP and see what I’ll get. Perhaps I can get XP to look like Vista! It’s obviously impossible to make Vista look like XP… then again Vista is running smoothly right now, it would be a shame to just ditch it.

Oh, whoa dude! Guess it’s a good thing I haven’t switched over to XP yet… some awesome guy called psycoB at deviantart.com has made tons of themes for Vista Basic! I’m running Wasabi right now and I can tell you it looks way better than all of that Aero crap out there. Minimalism will remain on my desktop forever.

I forgot to mention this really weird girl who is taller than me, was completely drunk, rather loud, and smoked, and launched into long diatribes about… herself? Very interesting, I said. Sometimes she just blabbers too much I ignore her and start talking to someone else, but then she keeps on talking. Weird girl, all right.

EDIT: ef – a tale of memories 02 has come out. I’m downloading it, even though it’s only a raw. 300kb/s… awesome! I hope I don’t set my standards too high lest I go back to Malaysia one day.

Watched the first half of the RAW. My brain usage peaked at 100% while watching, my Japanese algorithms aren’t very efficient. However, I was able to understand 40% of what they were talking about! Awesome… we learned that this Hirono guy is a mangaka and he doesn’t go to school often. Yup. That’s what I learned. I like his arc (along with Miya Miya’s) more than the one eyed Chihiro and the weird prince wannabe guy. Fortunately for me, it seemed like the latter half of the episode was simply about the latter couple, so I stopped at the right place.

Some sites are blocking Firefox


Apparently the problem is not Firefox itself, but the fact that some people who use Firefox may have installed the AdBlock plugin, which… uh… blocks web advertisements… and apparently that’s ‘stealing’ money from them. And that’s why they have blocked ALL Firefox users from accessing their websites.

Let’s have a bit of primer why this is not stealing money. Firstly, we don’t click on your ads even if you show them to us. Secondly, aren’t you the one who’s wasting our bandwith? Thirdly, your ads are intrusive. That’s why we block them.

So this is some kind of campaign which has some Javascript blocking all Mozilla 5.0/Firefox browsers and redirecting them to the aforementioned link. I suppose you could jump in on the (North American capitalist bullshit) bandwagon but understand we Firefox users wouldn’t miss your pathetic little site. Heck, even if Techreport.com or HardOCP or Anandtech or Tomshardware blocked Firefox browsers all at the same time (very unlikely) I can, and will, go to other sites straight away.

Oh, another thing: I wasn’t sure if such a plugin existed, but I just googled and something came out: the User Agent Switcher plugin for Firefox. Well, once you install that and choose a different User Agent ID, it looks like you’re using a different browser to the server, and so they’ll just cough up the page anyway. I’ve never really needed that sort of functionality, but I’ll install it anyway, thanks!