Friday, October 24, 2008

Countdown to 8.10

Monday, October 20, 2008

Firefox 3 and colours (colors for the americans)

FF3 supports color profiles so that your photos will look the same in FF3 as they did in photoshop, but you have to manually turn it on.

Go to to see the ICC profile test.
If the sky in the photo is half green your profiles aren't enabled.

Go to about:config and set gfx.color_management.enabled to True.
Restart Firefox.

Then go back to and see if it changes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

E-bike blog

I have started a new blog on my own server for any further e-bike reltated posts.
If you are interested in following my e-bike adventures this is the place to look:

I won't post any more e-bike stuff here unless it is interesting from a tech point of view.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

E-bike Fall Ride

The Durham E-bike association is running a fall ride in Oshawa on Sept. 27th to promote the use of e-bikes as an alternate form of transportation. Mayor Gray will be riding along with the club from City Hall down to the lake.

Poster for Durham E-bike Association's Fall Ride

Monday, July 28, 2008


After a bit of deliberation, I've decided to get myself an e-bike.

In particular, I have placed an order for a Veloteq Commuter RSV-GT in blue and black.
Which looks something like this:
My E-Bike, a 2008 Veloteq Commuter RSV-GT

I also paid my $25 to join the Durham E-bike Association. I believe that e-bikes are a fun, safe, and environmentally responsible form of transportation that should be encouraged, especially in the smoggier cities.

For anyone who's wondering what an e-bike is, Ontario is running a pilot (since Oct. 2006) allowing electric motor assisted bicycles on the road to be treated as bicycles (rather than motorcycles, like a moped) ...most other provinces and stattes already treat e-bikes as bicycles. That means no license, no plates, and no insurance needed... just a helmet. The catch is they are speed limited to 32km/h. ....which is faster than an average person bikes, but not faster than the road racers. The Ontario pilot program runs out in Oct 2009, after which they will still be road legal, but they may decide a license is needed, or that a few new rules are needed.

They come in both bicycle shape and motor scooter shape (like above).

I think it is a viable second vehicle that can be fun, is really cost efficient (pennies per charge), and easy to park.

They come with anti-theft alarms and locks, so that's not too big an issue.

For info on the e-bike pilot, visit the MTO E-bike FAQ.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

System info for Windows

I've played around with a number of utilities for windows that tell you more about what's inside your machine and this is the one I like best.

System Information for Windows. By Gabriel Topala

For those who use macintosh computers it will look exactly like what you would expect from something with the name System Information... just like the MacOS control panel of the same name.

The best part is it doesn't need to install, so you can put it on a USB key, CD-ROM, or floppy disk (does anyone still use those?) and carry it with you from one PC to another.

An example of the kind of useful info you can get with it is just click on Memory on the left and it tells you how many slots you have in total, and what's in each one (memory type, speed, even brand!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Moving songs from iPod back onto computer

Imagine this situation:
You computer dies. You don't have a backup of your iTunes folder because you thought you had a back up in your iPod, but when you connect your iPod it only offers to copy back the files that you bought from iTunes. ...what about the 300 CDs you ripped? music you downloaded? podcasts? etc...

Hopefully you didn't say yes when iTunes said 'the iPod is synced with another computer can I wipe it and sync with this computer?'. You can get all that back, it's just not all that obvious. Set up iTunes to allow the iPod to connect for drive access (if it isn't already showing up as a drive)

There is a hidden folder called iPod_Control with all your MP3 files in it, but the files have been re-named to a numbering scheme that helps the iPod keep track of them, but makes it completely non-obvious which file is what to the user who manages to get in this far.

The fortunate thing is iTunes will be able to figure it out.
If you aren't already letting iTunes manage your music you might as well now, but if you'd prefer to have them back with sensible names so you can use another program it's just going to take a few extra steps.

To get these files into iTunes, just copy the lot of them to the hard disk, and open them in iTunes. If you have iTunes manage your music and it's set to automatically import then you are basically done. You just delete them again. iTunes will have already made a copy into it's managed directory. (which you should back up to make this even easier next time).

If you don't have iTunes manage them, then point iTunes to this directory and let it index them all. Now that they show up in the iTunes listing, drag them each from iTunes to a new folder. iTunes will automatically give them each a logical, human readable filename. When you are done you can blow away the random number named versions.

Now that iTunes has your music again you can re-sync your ipod.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hard drive killer (literally)

On Tues April 8 I went to the IT360 conference in Toronto. There I saw a very cool harddrive destroying machine for those who want to make absolute sure that the stuff that was on their old drives doesn't get into someone else's hands.

Here are a couple of pictures of an ordinary Maxtor drive pulled from someone's dell desktop.

There is no way anyone is getting anything off that drive now unless they are VERY rich, and VERY talented.

The machine that did that can be bought or rented from

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nessus Security Scanner

If you don't mind seeing something that will make you feel a little paranoid, download the Nessus network security scanner.

It is a free tool (used to be open source, but version 3 is closed source but free to download and use because the creators didn't like other people re-branding and selling their work). It installs on Windows, Linux, MacOS, FreeBSD, or Solaris, and it is an easy way to find any known security holes in the machines on your network.

You can download it and install it on a machine in your network. You can install the scanning server portion separate from the client interface, so you can have scanners all over a large network and manage them all from your desktop.

Start it up, and run a scan with mainly the default settings (except turn off the DOS attack scan).

In any well managed network running a scan like this is going to set off a bunch of alarms, and it will probably make your printers print some gibberish, but hackers (smart ones anyway) don't use Nessus like this, they use their own tools, and know how to do it in a less noticeable way.

This scan will generate a nice report telling you all about at the numerous holes you have in your security. Take the ones highlighted in red VERY seriously and patch them ASAP. There is a certain tool out there for taking advantage of all the ones that Nessus says are remote exploitable. ...if not there is a certain search engine for hackers to find exploits. I'm not naming the hacking tools and sites because that is something I feel is best left as an exercise for the reader. :)

For now just run a scan on your network (off hours and with permissions if it is for work) and make sure you know just how open you are. Most people's computers are way more vulnerable than they think, and closing the holes Nessus identifies will make you far less susceptible to viruses and other such annoyances.