NerdHow

Serif Handwriting

Posted in News and Instructable updates by enthdegree on July 25, 2009

Two weeks ago, I got bored. So I sat down with five blank sheets of paper, and decided to design a handwriting style based off of Courier New. I ended up  getting so used toit that now it’s more natural for me to write with slabs than without them.

I’m not really good at explaining whack like this, so I decided to just upload three big grayscale pictures of the alphabet + some nonverbal instructions on how to draw the stuff yourself along with a few small additives as well.
So, here we go:

Diagram 1

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

Diagram 3

Slab-Serif chicken scratch handwriting is easier to read and also has ~way~ more braggability rights than regular chicken scratch handwriting.

Here are a few character-specific issues I ran into that you peoples might want to rifle through:

[A]: The slab on the top is a tad hard to write the first few times, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

[a]:Arguably the most elegant and cool-looking of the bunch. When’s the last time you’ve ever used a complex-form ‘a’ in normal handwriting?

[BCDEFG]: Smooth sailing through uppercase letters B,C,D,E,F, and G.

[bc]: Same for lowercase letters b and c.

[d]: The upper slab that hangs in over the rest of the ‘d’ looks cool. Just sayin’…

[e]: As mentioned in Diagram 1, it looks kind of cool if you make this a tad longer than you usually write it. (Be careful, IMOxP, it can get pretty easy to overdo it.)

[f]: No problems here.

[gjypq]: You may be tempted to fold over the part of the letter that goes below the bottom line, like Paige did in
the Foxtrot comic that originally aired on [date] . Don’t try it. It looks girly. And serifs aren’t girly.

[H]: Unfortunately, writing ‘H’ is pretty cumbersome. It takes two or three unnatural strokes to complete. Tough it out, or don’t write anything with ‘H’ in it.

[hijlnPpQqrSsTUuVvXxZz]: No problems here.

[Kk]:A little fugly when you first start getting used to them, but It’ll happen soon enough.

[Mm]:’M’ and ‘m’ can get really long really fast. Be careful and use your common sense.

[N]: In my experience, it was kind of hard to remember to not put a serif on the bottom of the line slanting downward.

[Oo]: As in Diagram 2, see caption on ‘e’.

[pPqQ]: All j00r problemz are belong to us.

[R]: With practice, you can teach yourself to write a fairly neat ‘R’ in one stroke.

[r]:looks better if you make the very end of the letter jut down a bit. But that’s just kind of my style. Don’t do it if you don’t want to.

[t]:doesn’t have any serifs.

[Yy]:Y AND y ARE POISON. KILL-THEM-WITH-FIRE. No, seriously; If you can come up with a better way to write them, please enlighten me and the rest of the crowd.

That’s all I have.

Also: Don’t be afraid to adjust this to fit you better. If everyone decided to tweak his/her writing style to look exactly the same as each others, they might as well also
burn off their fingerprints through cancer therapy methods. Good luck! :D

Windows 7 RC Upgrade issues

Posted in News and Instructable updates by enthdegree on May 9, 2009

(…and how to fix them, possibly)

For the past couple of days I have been pulling my hair out trying to upgrade to the latest Windows 7 RC. I have downloaded and burned the +2GB file at least thrice now, with every install breaking right when it gets to ‘Gathering files, settings, and programs,’ giving me some sort of a memory error, even after Memtest showed me that all of my RAM was fine.

>> 0xC0000005

Here are the steps that finally worked for me:

0.  Back up any of the important files you have.

1.  Back up your %APPDATA% directory, just in case you get tired of messing with this stuff and just do a direct install.**

2. Plug in your laptop and set it somewhere where it won’t overheat. ( If applicable ) Seriously, if it gets unplugged anywhere in the actual install process, it will pop up a little error message saying that it couldn’t complete the install.

3. UnPatch ANY of the system files you may have patched. ( If applicable ) That includes the two theme files used for custom themes. ( Probably the most commonly patched of them all. )

4. Delete or just back up all of the custom themes you may have in your /Windows/Resources/Themes folder. ( Be careful not to delete the windows classic theme, or the ‘aero’ folder. )

5. Check your Windows 7 RC compatibility with the tools Microsoft has provided.

6. Download the ISO, and burn it to a blank DVD ( +2GB won’t fit into a CD ) . If your computer has a lot of  free space, ( ~20GB or more )  or just can’t write to DVDs, you may want to mount the ISO as a virtual drive and install it from there. I don’t know how well that works but, in theory, it should.

7. Run the upgrade! While it is running, it gives you a fullscreen window. It can be tempting to just alt+tab it away and keep doing other stuff while the install works at your system.  If you do, there’s a pretty good chance that it will crash when it goes to gather all your programs/settings. In fact, it’s best to just close everything else before starting. With luck, you should be able to get past the second step.

8. Rinse and repeat.

Good luck, and enjoy your new Windows 7 RC

**If you choose to do this, you will still have to reinstall all of your programs, but most of your settings should be preserved. After you finish installing all of your apps, just copy back the backed up %APPDATA% and merge it with the old one.

My system runs encrypted (Truecrypt Serpent) on an Inspiron 1525 on 250GB with several  other partitions alongside. It has 2GB of RAM and a dual core 1.8GHZ processor.  Undercutting the system requirements for this upgrade may prove to be very difficult or even impossible for this. If at all possible, try getting a computer that’s at or above the modern industry standard before you get this RC. ( Or just wait for the netbook edition :D )

You didn't know this

Posted in Über-Nerd, Lame-o, Non-technical computer stuff, Reviews and reports, Useless by enthdegree on April 18, 2009

Man, I haven’t posted here in a while. /c:

Surely, many of you have run into the infamous site ‘experts-exchange.com’ when trying to fix your computer. You know, it’s that one that has all those people who ask tough computer problems (uncanny the way they seem to always be same ones that you run into) , so that file-dweller super-geniuses can scurry into the picture and give them some helpful and informed answers to their (your) problems.

Yeah, too bad you have to set up payware/trial account thing to see any of the answers.

Really?

No, it’s a gyp.

Really. Try it yourself. See how long that webpage is? Yep, just scroll all the way down to the bottom of it to get to any of the stuff that matters. These chumps try to hide their information behind (below) a whole lot of nagverts and ‘sitemaps’  to try and get ‘grandma-who-accidentaly-just-broke-the-Yahoos’ to subtract $12+ from her monthly income so that she can see something she could have probably gotten for free.  Apparently, there is such thing as a free (Crippled) account for the site, but you get so much smoke blown in your face that you can’t get to it without looking hard. I know that people have to make a living, but they probably don’t have to stab the computer-illiterate in the back first.

Experts exchange does give solid advice, I can give it that. Unfortunately, it’s presentation makes it hard for regular end-users to find the information. ( Pretty creative gimmick, though. I bet they have sucked the money out of dozens of hapless blockheads. )

Somehow, exp/exch.com doesn’t seem like the website I would want to be stuck alone on a desert island with.

Phisilophical tidbit of the day I

Posted in Über-Nerd, Brainteaser, News and Instructable updates, Reviews and reports, Useless by enthdegree on February 26, 2009

Question: How much would you do to get something free?

Ok, so first of all, let’s start this post off with a promotional link.

This link has been inserted here because if I am one of the first 250 bloggers to talk about it, I will get a free $5 DairyQueen gift card. Am I one of the first 250? probably not. Because once the first blogger posts about it, a few other bloggers will read the post and quickly  dash to their websites to post, and from there, it all goes down faster than a forkbomb on a self-reproducing machine. I might add that I also have  two free ‘wine.woot.com’ car decals and a baby blanket/plush toy set on their way to my house because I filled out an assortment of free online surveys.

I have no idea what I will do with either them once they show up on my front porch. ( But hey, they were free! )

Despite the word ‘free,’ everything comes at the expense of someone, be that the manufacturer or the distributor or the guy who’s dog peed on your rug the other day. But big businesses aren’t just going to start giving away their products free for the taking; people have to make a living somehow. So why does it seem like they are doing just that? They aren’t!

How can they do this and use it to their advantage, then?

Some of the time, they ask you to fill out some kind of product survey. Product surveys use your information to make their product more sellable.( Imagine that! :p )

The internet seems like the perfect place to do this, as  there are so many easily accessible people who want easily accissible (albeit useless ) free stuff. Of course, there are a few problems with this. People who fill out these surveys are usually ‘just here for the beer’ ( ‘just there for the bear’? ) so they could easily fill out a mass random/flamey/flattering or otherwise useless information without giving the company anything they really wanted.

Other times, a company might just give you a product (usually software, I guess?) for your consumption so that maybe t he company will gain mindshare with you and you will buy their products in the future.  This, of course, is useful to them because in a best-case scenario you end up donating to them and buying thier stuff.

Either that or they just go open source and pwn all other competition. :wink:

Another case is as linked to in the beginning of the article. By submitting, you gain a small ( To the company, that is ) prize and they get free advertising. (ROFL, I just realised that.  DQ is getting sneaky. :twisted: )

I suppose a derivative of this is some black hat having you fill out all of your personal data in return for nothing, so that he can sell all of it to some huge annoying advertising company.

All this brings us down to another question: How would a cost-benifit analysis come out w/ this? Do I really need a 100% organic  ‘cute teddy’ plushie with a 1/6 size baby blankie tied to it? What about a decal I would have to peel off of my car every time I hung out with someone decent? ( much less TWO. )

The answer:

Yes, if you’re really really really bored. And fortunately I am.

:D

Data storage options

Posted in Reviews and reports by enthdegree on February 14, 2009

A buddy asked me to do something on data backup a few weeks back. ( Sorry for getting this up so late, by the way :embarrassed:  )

Here’s a brief overview of it all:

-= Brief Pros/Cons overview-list-thing=-
Ok so first off you have drives. ( Microdrives, External Hard disks, etc. )
Their write speed is very fast, they wear slowly, and as of now they have the smallest ‘gb per dollar’ ratio on the market. You can get a lot of memory in a small amount of space for very cheap.
Some external hard drives (  ex western digital passports ) are made for portability, but they are mostly embeded into computers.
Of course, with hard drives come hard drive faliure horror stories and mechanical parts (spinning disk, moving head)
If anything gets too close to magnets all of their data is erased and totally unrecoverable. If you can’t protect it from that, this might not be a good choice.

Another option is a Solid State drive ( Flash memory: CompactFlash cards, SD cards, microSD cards, etc. )
They have no physically moving parts and are not affected at all by magnets. Most are also very portable.
You can fiind small amounts of flash memory practically anywhere, but higher capacities are harder to find.
However, write speeds are sometimes slow, and they wear pretty quickly if written and rewritten a lot. They also come in tons of differnet shapes and sizes, so you’ll need the appropriate card reader before you can do anything with it. Build quality is pretty important with flash memory, so be sure to buy a reputable brand. Amazon reviews are usually pretty good with this, but it also seems to be a favorite topic for flame reviewers. :p

Optical discs are yet another (admittedly mediocre) possiblility
Most Optical disks can only be written once, although there is such thing as a rewriteable CD/DVD.  They are disposable, dirt cheap, and they wear out after about 30 years.
CDs are generally not a good choice for long term data backup for this reason.
CD-ROMs usually have ~700-800 mb capacity, while DVDs can hold 4 or 5gb of error protected data.

Aside from your nomal backups, you could also upload to some online storage service (Hint: See post below :wink: ) . That way, you can just let them manage the drives for you to use as a last resort. And if it breaks down on you, you can just blame the service for your data loss. :mrgreen:

Alternatively you could just buy one of each of the storage types and make several copies of the same file on each device.  It might take a while, but at least it won’t keep you up worrying in the middle of the night.

Use wordpress as an online hard drive [BUG]

Posted in News and Instructable updates by enthdegree on February 6, 2009

Picture this in an infocomercial:

<ping> Do you have an abandoned wordpress blog? Are you too ashamed to start it up again, after that huge, huge post gap??  Are you considering deleting that abandoned shameful wordpress blog??? Stay clear of that idea! Instead, recycle! And use it as a half-baked semi-functional online storage space! And if you call now, we’ll double the offer, half the price, and throw in a totally unrelated item for a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y FREE!!!<ping>

Sarcasm aside,

WordPress has (as of this post, at least) this ‘bug’ that lets you upload an alien filetype to space normally restricted to a few different kinds of image types. So here’s the mojo:

-Rename ‘unethicalbugexploit.offlimitsfiletype’ (aka ‘yourfile.file’ ;) ) to ‘yourfile.file.jpg’ or ‘yourfile.file.png’ . It really doesn’t matter, unless it ends in ‘.jpg’ or some WordPress-uploadable image file. The file icon might change to some generic image thumbnail. That is good.

-Now just go onto WordPress and upload it as you would any normal image file. Embed that file in a page or a post if you wish to make it appear publicly. ( Even if you don’t embed it, it will still be publicly accessible, just not as evident.) If it gives you options to edit the thumbnail size, leave it alone. Just give it a title and captions if you want to.

-Also, note the image URL by clicking on the ‘image url’ button. If you can change the url, go wild. ;)

-Ok. After the post is up, right click on the link, (there shouldn’t be a thumbnail)  and ‘save it as.’

-Just give the file it’s original name and that’s it!

If you create a password protected blog with just one page, and edit a link into that page every time you upload a file, you can use it for some simple friend to friend file sharing.

The same bug also appears in Palm Desktop synching software. Rather than buying a card reader for your computer, rename a file to ‘.jpg’ and use Quick Install to burn the file  to a card in your Palm’s SD slot. Afterwards use a PalmOS file manager (like uniCMD or something) to rename the file on-device.

Note: There are plenty of *real* free file sharing services out there, and card readers are still dirt cheap. ( Much cheaper than a Palm with an SD slot. ) Only use these little hacks when you don’t have anything better at hand. Temporary bug exploits should not be considered ‘xzomg 4nzsw3rxz0rz 2 real life problems.’

Rename this to 42.zip

Rename this to 42.zip

Browsing better on USB linux persist systemsan

Ok so say you have cracked your head open trying to get a linux distro to persist on your flash drive and finally got it working. Everything works like it’s supposed to, becausie it’s w. It acts like a real (slow) desktop save for a few limitations with the disk.

However: there’s one problem with it: when you browse the internet, it uses a cache folder inside of the usb drive. This is very bad; It writes all of the websites to the ‘disk’, then deletes them when you clear your temporary files. It happens again and again and again until your usbstik is completely worn out and useless.

So it turns out that debian based (all?) distros automatically mount a dynamically-sized temp partition in your RAM on startup. This simply means that the system allocates it’s own piece of space in Computer X’s memory for applications to use. Since it is memory inside of a computer, it can be reused many, many more times than a usb drive’s memory can.

If we set firefox to store it’s temporary data inside of that RAM partition, it will make the life of the usb drive longer and also speed up page rendering.  Fortunately, the process for doing that is fast and easy.

Note: This is not just for usb drives. You can also do this on regular computers.

Ok, enough useless explenation:

Go to firefox in your linuxbox (if you aren’t already in it) and push ctrl+t to make a new tab. In that new tab, type ‘about:config’ in the urlbar.  We really don’t care about firefox’s warranty, since it’s open source. (; Click the button to continue. This brings you to the advanced settings menu for firefox. Right click some place that’s empty and go ‘New>String.’ Call the string ‘browser.cache.disk.parent_directory’ ( Minus quotes, of course. )  Store the data ‘/dev/shm’ (where the temp partition is mounted, usually) in the string, then restart firefox. Now it’s saving its cache in the temp partition. You’re all set!

Food tastes better if it's free

Posted in News and Instructable updates by enthdegree on January 24, 2009

A beta bag of ‘Chocolate-Turtle flavoured Chex Mix’ appears to be offered for free at the companys reputable website.

Who knows how long the offer will last. Anyway, here’s the link.

Chex mix

IDK why. Mrs. Crocker just seems so personal. She even asks you for your salutation on the reg. page. Probably so that she can personally hand-type a unique note out to you to send along with your *-=totally free=-* chex mix. :wink:

Be wary of offers like this on strange websites. There have been many reports that other less know sites aren’t as trustworthy, making their money by selling your info to advertisers. Be sure to read up thoroughly and use your common sense on this kind of website before getting involved with any of them.

But come on. Betty Crocker wants to give us free food. How can you possibly resist?

*-=_HAPPY NEW YEAR!_=-*

Posted in Lame-o, News and Instructable updates, Useless by enthdegree on January 1, 2009
Inevitable fail. x__x

Inevitable fail. x__x

Of course, just exactly at 11:58 P.M. my xserver has to crash and I end up having to restart it, forcing Firefox to close, and thereby losing my place on the time.gov server. By the time Firefox finally came up, it was 20 seconds ’till and the server was overloaded. All I got was this lousy screenie.

+_+

Happy new year 2009.

I’m gonna go try get some sleep. Good morning.

Library computers

At our library, we have around 20 or so of these computers, running Windows XP pro with some kind of pcLocker program set up to manage users’ time limits. (~45 minutes I believe. ) All of the computers are hooked up to a main server at the frontdesk, where , upon request, oneself can ask for the librarian to unlock ‘Internet Computer #N’  for an hour of Internet usage. At the end of the session, or when the time limit runs out, all downloaded files ( Including the cache, AFAIK ) are deleted, other changes to the disk are reversed, and the computer goes back into its dormant ‘ugly screen-saver’ stage until the dude at the frontdesk enables it again. The system seems to work pretty well for both sides; the employee just slides the library card  through the reader and the visitor is all set for 45 minutes of censored, un-anonymous, monitored Internet usage.

Many libraries these days have similar Internet access points.  Many of these computers also have about as many security holes as swiss cheese in a colander cap.

Today I had the personal pleasure (; of finding one of these flaws and reporting it. While my workaround did not get me Admin privileges or the ability to save to disk, it did take away the time limit and you didn’t have to go ask someone to activate a computer or anything. Rather simple, really:

Push ctrl+alt+del to get into the Windows XP Pro management applet thing, then log off and wait for the profile to reload. While it reloads, quickly double click on the firefox icon while the computer lock program loads (the desktop is still showing during that time.) and let it run until the lock program is up and you can’t do anything again. Do ctrl+alt+del again, and this time hit shutdown. Firefox pops up asking if you want to save tabs on next init. Hit cancel, exit firefox, and you’re in.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that your library is uing the same software as mine is, so these instructions are probably void.

Anyway, I broke into 3 of these terminals (just to let them know that this really did work on ALL of their computers ) and punched in the above instructions into notepad, along with a few links to some Ubuntu websites, lest they consider using a less trashy operating system. I decided to do it anonymously, and just leave the message on an open notepad for some hapless employee to notice  later. (After all, I still couldn’t save files, and I didn’t take the time to get the admin password either. ) But of COURSE some hapless worker bee HAD to walk up JUST when I was about half way done with the note, so I had to scramble so I wouldn’t get ratted. The way it was, the note made me look like I was some black hat trying to give the info to other kids. In order to escape conforontation, I staked out in the darkest corner of the library with my laptop and lvl’d ++ in Runescape until we left for home.

While I was over there, I overheard the employee make a loud personal phonecall to the IT guy, trying to explain what had happened ( the staff must have hired him. He seemed pretty clueless. )  Evidently the employee took it the right way ( He called me a ‘patriot’ (; ) but the IT guy seemed to disagree. To him I was a so called ‘spammer.’  When she hung up they both decided that it was a toss up whether I was on their side or not, so I guess it’s pretty good that I did it incoginito.

Later she made another phonecall to try and solve the actual problem.

We all await my next visit to the library. I used this same method at my old library in Oregon, and they started using Ubuntu, so why shouldn’t these people? I guess we will just have to wait and see…

To be cont. O_o

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