Category Archives: Nerd Stuff

FREE CodeWeavers Software – Lame Duck Challenge – October 28 Only!

Important: Tuesday, 28 October 2008 ONLY! Get FREE software from CodeWeavers!

CodeWeavers, corporate backs of the Wine Project and creators of CrossOver products that help run popular Windows programs on Mac OS X and Linux, created a Lame Duck challenge last July to President Bush, asking him to try to affect at least ONE positive change whilst in the last six months of office. The potential goals were:

  1. Reduce the Price of Gas: Gas costs about $3.79 a gallon in the Twin Cities, a full buck more than this time last year. If the average price here drops below $2.79 per gallon, this goal is met.
  2. Reduce the Price of Food: With the rise of fuel prices has come a similar rise in food prices. A gallon of milk is about $5 these days. It was $3.50 a year ago. If the average price of a gallon of milk comes down to $3.50 gallon in the Twin Cities metro, this goal is met.
  3. Create More Jobs: We started the year with 138,002,000 people in the U.S. working non-farm jobs. Since then, total non-farm employment has decreased by 366,000. If so much as a single job can be created this calendar year – meaning if employment can be at least 138,002,001, this goal is met.
  4. Rejuvenate the Housing Market: Median home values in the Twin Cities have fallen 12 percent year over year – from $233,000 to $205,000. If that median returns to $233,000, this goal is met.
  5. Bring Osama Bin-Laden to Justice: Every American would like to see Osama Bin-Laden captured or terminated. We won’t be picky about how President Bush gets him. If it happens, this goal is met.

If at least ONE goal was met, CodeWeavers pledged to make their software available for FREE for 24 hours. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us!), the first goal was met recently. As the CEO admitted in the middle of October:

That morning, I was filling my tank at Big Steve’s Gas Palace in St. Paul,” said Jeremy White, president and CEO of CodeWeavers. “I had just finished my morning corn dog and 64-ounce Dr. Pepper when I looked at the pump and noticed gas was at $2.79. I screamed ‘Woohoo,’ then I yelled ‘Oh, crap!’ as I realized every American can now have my software for free. Kind of upsets my fourth quarter revenue projections…

Therefore, if you want FREE CodeWeavers software, visit their site on 28 October 2008 and you will be given a license code for one free copy. From the above quote, it sounds like this deal is limited to residents of the USA only.

Read the full press release

Stop SPAM with Disposable E-mail Addresses

I think we can all agree that spam is evil. It’s awful. Deplorable. We all hate it, unless you are a spammer. And if you’re a spammer, you deserve swift, repetitive, merciless kicks in the junk.

Though we may never win the war against spam, we can still fight to reduce it. One effective way is to use a disposable e-mail address. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you need to provide a functional e-mail address for a temporary purpose – a web form, online shopping at a random store, posting in forums – but don’t want your e-mail address harvested and spammed to death. All you have to do is use a disposable e-mail address from one of the many services listed below, use it temporarily, and then forget about it! The possibilities, and the number of disposable addresses are endless.

Here are 10 services that you can use, all for FREE.

10 Minute Mail
10 Minute Mail

1. 10 Minute Mail

As the name suggests, 10 Minute Mail gives you a disposable address that’s valid for ten minutes. With a single click, you can automatically generate a temporary e-mail address that allows you to read incoming e-mails, click on links, and even reply!

If you need a few more minutes, you can easily reset the timer back to 10 minutes.

For sheer simplicity and functionality, 10 Minute Mail is one of my favorites.

2. BugMeNot – Email

If you’re a fan of BugMeNot, you’ll be pleased to know that they also offer a disposable e-mail service. The idea is simple: create your own disposable address (does not expire), give it to the potential spammers, and check it anytime by entering it at BugMeNot’s site.

Here’s an example: let’s say you register with a site that needs to send you a verification link. Simply give them any address that ends with bugmenot.com (something_really_random@bugmenot.com). To check it, go to BugMeNot and enter that same address.

Of course, if anyone else enters that same address, they can read your e-mail (see for yourself – look at junk@bugmenot.com), so I recommend creating a unique address with lots of numbers and random characters.

The account is currently limited to reading/clicking links only. Replies and attachments are not supported. Mail is deleted every 24 hours.

3. dodgit

dodgit is similar to BugMeNot in functionality. Pick your own e-mail address (@dodgit.com), give it out freely, and enter that same address at dodgit.com to check it.

Once again, choose a unique address unless you want other people ogling at your junk mail. Mail is deleted every 7 days.

dodgit does not support replying, but does include RSS support for incoming e-mails. Nice.

Make Me The King
Make Me The King

4. Make Me The King

The curiously named “Make Me The King” works the same way as BugMeNot and dodgit – make up your own @makemetheking e-mail address, and check it by entering that same address back on their site.

Unlike the aforementioned sites, Make Me The King supports deleting files manually. RSS support is also included, and while Make Me The King supposedly supports replying, it’s disabled as of this writing.

As always, choose a unique e-mail address.

5. YopMail

YopMail is another service with which you can create your own @yopmail address on the fly and check it by logging in to YopMail. One advantage of YopMail is that they offer many different alternate domains in case someone blocks the main domain.

The YopMail client looks like traditional e-mail software, including the abilities to forward and print e-mail, but sending new e-mail is limited to other YopMail addresses. Replies are not supported.

There’s even a YopMain plugin available for Firefox and Opera, plus an automatic address generator.

6. Mint Email

Mint Email brings elegance to the idea of disposable e-mail addresses. When you visit the site, it automatically generates an e-mail address for you AND copies it to the clipboard. All you have to do is paste it into whatever spam-hole you like. Mint Email will automatically check for new e-mail.

Temporary addresses are valid for four hours. If you like, you can set Mint Email to automatically use your own desired e-mail address every time you visit. Just take a look at the Preferences (relies on cookies).

Replies are not supported.

7. lite drop

With lite drop, you can choose to set your own disposable address or generate one automatically. Addresses are valid for one hour, though you can easily reset the timer if you need more time.

lite drop checks for incoming e-mail automatically, and includes RSS support. Replying and attachments are not supported.

8. Spam.la

For sheer simplicity and starkness, it doesn’t get much easier than Spam.la. ANY e-mail that is sent to ANY @spam.la address is publicly readable on the main page. That’s right, it’s all dumped right into public view.

That said, you can still choose to filter content based on the address that you created. Just be aware that someone else is probably reading it, too.

9. Mailinator

Mailinator is another service that lets you create your own on-the-fly @mailinator disposable address and check it by entering the same name on their site. However, Mailinator allows you to solve a unique problem: by giving someone a disposable address from sites like Mailinator, YopMail, BugMeNot, etc, you are also telling them HOW to check your e-mail, since anyone can go to the corresponding service and enter that address.

Mailinator solves that problem by giving you an alternate e-mail address for every mailbox that you create. Mail sent to the alternate address will be routed to the original. Neat! Read more about alternate inbox names.

10. SneakEmail

SneakEmail is one of the oldest providers of disposable e-mail addresses. Of all the services listed here, SneakEmail is the only one that requires registration. However, the service functions differently from the others. Here’s how it works:

Create an account that links to your regular e-mail address. Once you’re logged in, you can create new SneakEmail addresses to hand out to potential spammers. Mail sent to these disposable address will be routed to your regular e-mail.

The nice thing about SneakEmail is that no one ever sees your true e-mail address. If you reply, it is routed back through the disposable address. Nice! You can also filter, disable, or delete the disposable addresses that you create.

One benefit of SneakEmail is that by creating multiple addresses, you know from what site a spammer got your address.

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Of course, there are more available services than the 10 listed here. Do you have another service that you recommend? Tell me in the comments.

Oh, and just for the record, my favorite services listed here are 10 Minute Mail, Mailinator, and SneakEmail. How about you?

Get Windows Server 2008 for FREE through DreamSpark (Students Only)

Windows Server 2008 Box
Windows Server 2008 Box

Want a free download of Windows Server 2008? It’s yours, if you qualify! Microsoft recently updated their DreamSpark offerings to include Server 2008, among other products. All you have to do is verify that you’re a student, and start downloading.

Download link – https://www.dreamspark.com/default.aspx

What is DreamSpark? Straight from the horse’s mouth:

Microsoft DreamSpark enables students to download Microsoft developer and design tools at no charge.

Now, for the first time, Microsoft is giving its valuable software developer and design tools directly to students worldwide at no charge! This site enables students like you to download professional-level Microsoft developer and design tools to unlock your creative potential and set you on the path to academic and career success, by supporting and advancing your learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities.

What products are offered? A lot! In addition to Windows Server 2008, you can freely download:

  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition (and 2005 Professional)
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer
  • MS Expression Studio 2
  • XNA Game Studio 2.0
  • XNA Creators Club Online (12 months access)
  • IT Academy Student Pass (up to 22 hours of FREE e-learning courses)

You will need:

  • A Windows Live ID
  • Valid Student Status

My university was not on the main list, but they were able to quickly verify me online via JourneyEd. Within minutes, I started downloading Windows Server 2008, which can actually function very well as a desktop or workstation. With a few clicks, you can essentially transform it into Windows Vista, but without most of the bloat. Look for some articles relating to Server 2008 soon.

Best of luck. Despite my affinity for Linux, it’s hard to turn down free, legal software!

UPDATE: Be sure to see my article on how to turn Server 2008 into an excellent workstation OS.

Run as the Root Account

Well, some days you need some tips, some days you need some humor. Today is a day when I need to laugh at something, because I just got a phone call from the Dow Jones Industrial average… it said “go F@#% yourself!” So… the article I’m linking to only makes sense if you know something about Linux, but I thought it was pretty hilarious: Run as Root

Running as root will change your life. People will no longer cut you off in the lunch line, and if you tell someone to go screw themselves, don’t be surprised if they actually do it.

People or Things that Ran as Root

  • Chuck Norris
  • Trogdor
  • That guy who took a picture of himself every day for 6 years
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • The 1968 Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Large Hadron Collidor

A better solution to Presentations in Linux

You may have noticed that OpenOffice is great. You also may have noticed that this greatness runs out when you get to Impress. My primary complaint (Oh there are many, most of them “known issues” at the open office site for years) is a lack of anti-aliasing on shapes. In a business situation, a presentation on par with the expectations of 1995 will only get you so far.

A Circle in Impress
Jaggies...a lot of them
A Circle in Powerpoint
Same 200% zoom as Impress.

I in no way endorse the use of PowerPoint, but I haven’t had a [Professional] alternative. I acquired a new Linux-based laptop and just today realized that I wouldn’t be able to give presentations off it without jumping through hoops. Of course there are options (PDF slide viewers, LaTEX, etc.) but I want a straight-forward presentation program that meets my meager demands of Anti-Aliasing and a simple interface. Luckily, I tend to have an active Internet connection at most presentations. This brings me to: 280 Slides.

280 Slides is a WebApp that provides, nearly, full functional slide show creation.

A Circle in 280 Slides
200% Zoom
200% Zoom

It’s still in BETA, but it shows amazing promise. Registration is free, and as far as I can tell so far, it beats Google’s presentation ability by a long shot. I wonder how long before Google acquires them…

The Good:

  • Accessible on any OS from any computer with an active Internet connection.
  • Ability to save sideshow in .pptx, .ppt, .odp, and .pdf
  • Fairly faithful conversion to previously mentioned file types.
  • Ability to Import from uploads of the previously mentioned file types (sans .pdf).
  • Ability to insert Images, Video, Shapes, etc. You can even upload your own shapes.
  • Many themes included, all classier than some of PowerPoint’s ugly templates, or the 2 ridiculous themes that ship with Impress.
  • Ability to add “Notes” to each slide.
  • Straight forward, intuitive interface.
The Interface
The Interface

The Bad:

  • Currently no way to upload your own custom background image. Work Around: Insert it as an image and make it the size of the slide.
  • No transitions. In a serious presentation, however, do you really need objects flying in and spinning with cute sound effects? Only if you want to get laughed at.
  • No way to operate a “Presenter View.”
  • No “Master Slide” for objects and footers that are persistent across all slides.

Overall:

-This will be my new presentation software when I’m bound to my Linux system. If I have access to a Mac, though, I will use Keynote for its powerful elegance. I’m interested to see where this goes when it reaches full release. Hopefully registration will stay free.

-At a later date, I will be comparing 280 Slides to Slide Rocket (http://www.sliderocket.com/).  By “at a later date” I mean when Lan Support Services feels the need to update the flash on my office computer.  Feel free to check it out as another alternative.  [Thanks to Brian for pointing me to Slide Rocket]

When Chrome Crashes – Aw, Snap! Screenshot

Just thought I’d share this – I had a tab get stuck in Google Chrome recently, and when it crashed, this is the error message it displayed:

Aw, Snap, indeed! Hilarious. It’s reminiscent of the infamous “Sad Mac” face from Old World Macintosh computers.

As well as the dreaded “Sad iPod” face that you hope to never see:

Somehow, this touch of humor makes me care a little less that my browser just crashed and burned! 🙂

Dropbox Goes Live – Free 2GB of Synchronized Storage for All!

Dropbox logo

I am pleased to report that Dropbox has fully opened to the public, no more invitations needed! A few weeks ago I reviewed Dropbox (see review) and concluded that it was the online storage service of my dreams. I still hold to that claim.

Everyone who signs up receives 2 GB of storage space. Not only that, you can easily link multiple computers to your Dropbox account and effortlessly keep your files in sync. It’s like FolderShare, but with an online backup element. Yes, it’s a dream come true. 🙂

Clients are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (beta). There’s even an iPhone client. Here I am installing the Dropbox client on Ubuntu 8.04.

Freshly Installed

As of now, Dropbox is the free storage service that I recommend most to others. If they rollout a “Pro” version with more features and storage, I’d be tempted to upgrade. Still, the free service is excellent.

If you only use one online storage service, I heartily recommend Dropbox.