Category Archives: Computer

Firefox – What is with the name?

I don’t get the name “FireFox”. I don’t get it on so many levels.

Lets look at the other browser’s names first.

We have “Internet Explorer”, descriptive, but not very creative. Microsoft does get credit for being the first to copyright the words internet and explorer together. Also Credit is due for the “IE” acronym, which makes it easy to refer to.

“Netscape” is a much more interesting name, it seems to derive from “landscape”. Meaning a view of everything around you, everything on the net that is.

Apple’s “Safari” is another play on the landscape theme.

“Opera” has to be my favourite, for it is the stage that interesting, epic stories are told. I think the creativity behind that one is top notch.

“Mozilla” is good, but no longer makes sense unless you have been around for a while, and know what Mosaic is in everyday life – “Mosaic killer/Godzilla”.

“Konqueror” seems to play on the Mozilla theme and refer to dominating other browsers.

“Lynx” is a cute name just referring to the links on the net.

But I just don’t get “FireFox” originally known as Phoenix and briefly as Mozilla Firebird. This browser has one of the worlds worst identity problems. At first Blake Ross (writer) called it Phoenix, but because of copyright issues he changed it and lost what could have been a weak reference to the fact that Netscape had lost almost all the market and he was building the browser to “rise from the ashes” based on it’s open source code. He changes the name to Firebird, keeping only the fire reference. There was a bit of confusion because another project was being developed with that name and so he changes it again. FireFox was chosen because he was sure that there was no other software being developed under that name. But it turned out a European company owned the trademark to the word FireFox, and a deal was reached to share the domain.

The frequent renaming led to a running joke among FireFox developers and an extension called Firesomething that accomplishes one thing: Every time FireFox is loaded, instead of Mozilla FireFox, the top of the screen shows a random combination of two words. You could be browsing with Mozilla Firecow or Mozilla Lightningkangaroo. Click here to download the Firesomething extension.

So I’m updating my page, tweaking my code, and I get this bright idea to try it in FireFox because hits to my site from FireFox browsers have increased to a whopping 18.5% and BOOOM.

I just didn’t get it. Perfectly compliant code and it won’t display properly in FireFox.

And that’s the problem. Which browser is broken? Well that depends on how you look at it. The FireFox people swear that IE is the one with the flaws. And according to Microsoft itself, the answer is that it is Internet Explorer itself that is not interpreting the code correctly. But I’ve got something to say about that.

Let’s try a small analogy. My car runs on gas. I buy that gas from the store and I’m sure it is made to some kind of standard. Now I’ve been using that gas for 10 years and it works. Now the car companies build new cars all the time, and they make sure it runs on the gas I can get at the store by my house. If cars started blowing up 18.5% of the time because of the gas, we would shut down that gas company in a matter of days. It doesn’t matter if the big gas company has made changes and is no longer making gas exactly to standard anymore, because of the number of pumps that carry it, it has become the standard.

I understand the car developers asking for the standards to be defined. I understand car makers complaining because there may be a better type of gas. I understand lawsuits, government action, and standards committees. But what I don’t get is cars that blow up. How can we tolerate that?

If the “gas” the internet runs on is our browsers and the “car companies” are the websites themselves. You can see the problem we are faced with. A standard gas is required to allow for fair competition, and Microsoft is moving in that direction (wait for IE 7). But in the meantime, it is the responsibility of the gas companies (browser manufactures – read Firefox) to make sure their products work most of the time.

I wonder how hard it would be to have a small pop-up appear in FireFox that says “this page was written using IE flaws, some items may not have displayed correctly, would you like FireFox to emulate these IE flaws?” I’d say it would be worth the time and effort. Users must be downloading FireFox and turning around to say “this browser sucks” because none of the pages they go to display properly?

Forty Four Million downloads and only 5% of people browsing are using FireFox on average? What that means to me is that lots and lots of people downloaded FireFox, but only a few zealots are still using it regularly.

I’m not sure it’s our responsibility as “car manufacturers” (web developers) to redisign our “cars” (web sites) to run on a “fuel” (browser) so that it doesn’t cause our customers to “blow up”. As the little guys, I guess thats all we can do if we wish to support this small zealot crowd.

If you happen to be writing your own web pages I’ve got two fixes that will allow you compensate for IE’s display flaws with a minimal amount of rewriting. Write these down somewhere, because these are what made my page “Blow up” in FireFox.

  1. Padding – Microsoft seems to think padding and margins are the same thing. I never really noticed, but that seems to be the issue. The CCS standards actually say padding is outside of the “div” box and margins are inside it. Microsoft applies both inside the box. Change all of your padding to margins and most of the errors will disappear.
  2. Float tags – There is a error in IE that works like this. If you tell something to float left or right in a “div” box and then tell it to come off that same edge a bit with the margin tag. Internet Explorer only moves it double the number of pixels you asked for. Why? I have no idea, but you can fix it by adding the “display:inline;” tag right after your float statement.

I’m not going to fix the differences between Microsoft and FireFox. I’m probably not even going to come up as the person that suggested Firefox has the responsibility to accomidate it. But if you’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon this post, then you have a solution to fix your pages so the zealots can view your site the way it was intended.

I told you I don’t get it. Maybe I understand it now. But I truely don’t get why someone trying to break into the market is causing headaches for those people that make the products that their browser needs. Without the web sites, there is no need for FireFox’s browser.

Office 2003 – Hidden Data

About time a removal tool got here.

I’ve been copying my plagiarized text to Notepad for more than 8 years. And I’m tired of it. I’d just like to copy the text I want and not have to worry about anybody realizing where I got it from. Not only does it make me look smarter. I advertise how smart I think those people are that I copied from when I get caught. It’s a win-win situation.

I’m just surprised it’s the company that started the damn tracking that is the one to finally release a removal tool.

Microsoft releases metadata removal tool

A year ago, 10 Downing Street published a dossier on Iraq’s security and intelligence organisations. It was cited by none other than Colin Powell in his address to the United Nations. Then a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University discovered that much of the 19-page document was copied from three different articles, one written by a graduate student.

How did he know? In the document there was a listing of the last 10 edits of the document, showing the names of the people who worked on the file. These logs are normally hidden and cannot be viewed directly in Word.

MS Word is notorious for containing private information in file headers, but not any longer. Microsoft has quietly released a tool to scrub leaky metadata from documents edited with its software. The Remove Hidden Data Add-In will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. For Windows XP/Office 2003 only, we should add. ?

Funny thing is, I just did the same thing the British government did. Only difference is, that only about two hundred people will see this and because there is no picture, only about twenty will read it. Of those 20 I bet most will be close personal friends and family, so there is only an outside chance I’ll get in trouble for stealing all of this information.

Microsoft Ram Tester

Recently someone asked me about test utilities for Microsoft XP.

Remember the good old days when you could install a copy of Norton and it would fix everything and you’d be on your way again? Well since the advent of Windows XP that’s not the case. Norton is pesky and intrusive, more often than nought, it can’t even tell you what’s wrong anymore. It just keeps telling you to restore your system.

Well I’m of the type that wants an answer before I take it to the shop. That’s how I get things fixed quickly and cheaply. I just walk it in and tell them what’s broke.

If you’re blue screening under Windows XP I’ll put dollars to donuts (no idea what that means) that its heat, ram or the motherboard (in that order).

  1. Open the case and point a giant oscillating house fan at the motherboard from about three feet back. Money says if your married, you’ve got one of these lying around (probably on your wife’s nightside table, even though it’s the dead of winter). If it still “blue screens” move to step two.
  2. Woman with Fan

  3. Run Microsoft’s new Ram tester. If it tells you your ram is good, move to step three.
  4. Reset your BIOS. This is a complicated and annoying thing to do, so thats why it is so far down the list. (Honestly though, if you use your system all the time, try this second, if its someone else’s system, keep it at step three)
  5. Flash your BIOS. Ok this is really, really, annoying. Download all the BIOSes your manufacturer has released since you bought your system. Chances are one of them will work. Usually I start with the newest and keep flashing backwards till I get one that works.
  6. Take machine to a repair shop, it’s Hooped!

A Mysterious Network called Internet

In 1993 I still did all of my university work on a “Coleco Adam”. I still remember using Scotch Tape to cover over the record inhibit holes in audio tapes so I could save my reports. I think I must have bought Van Halen’s 1984 3 times because I kept having to use it to save my work. This machine rocked. I’d had it for almost 10 years at this point, an unheard of amount of time today. It was loaded with a Zilog Z80 4MHz processor and 64K of Ram. The thing that was soo cool was that it would save tones of text right on the machine, so you only had to get the tape when you were writing a huge report. It had a 32K ROM.

Coleco Adam
Coleco Adam

A year later I would get my first X86 machine. A NEC laptop. A 4X86 DX 100 with a colour display. What a change. But it would take me three more years to get online. “Life, the Universe and Everything” else got in the way. Even in that decision I made some bad choices, to put that in perspective, I’ll tell you that my first email was

To understand how far things have come take a look at this CBC report from October 3 1993.

Deep Linking

Are you an Idiot? That’s what the title of the post I found said over the image of Kata Dobo I scanned in from this months Maxim Magazine for my last post. At this point in time I’d have to answer that question positively. I’m an idiot, a huge uneducated idiot. It didn’t say that anywhere on my site mind you, but on another site, buried deep within the link farming network of the internet.

I was tempted to leave a link and point his site out, but with Google Rank and the fact it’s not a very “work safe” place, I’ll leave his anonymity intact. I was incredulous. The guy had gone to the trouble to deep link directly to the image of Kata Dobo on my server and on top of it, he used it to point to a completely different article, an “Idiot Test” of some sort. I wonder if that was intentional or just plain luck on his part.

What really rubs it in is the disclaimer at the top of his page:

“Everything on this page has been stolen from others, i’m giving YoU the best of the Internet. (reminder: Broadband only) If you feel the urge to message me, please fill in this form.”

He deep linked me and I got hit. Hit bad! Of a total new bandwidth of 2.40Gb because of the last post, 1.26Gb went out as .jpg at the time of this post. Those numbers are in complete disagreement and I should have recognized it earlier. But I didn’t.

So to help everyone out I want to teach you a simple trick using .htaccess files to protect your bandwidth. The funny thing is, I’ve used the trick on other pages I’ve written. I have no idea why I never implemented it on mine.

Now there are a couple of things that need to be in place before this trick will work for you. First you need to be running an Apache Web Server. There is no reason not to be. The good people over at Apache have even taken the time to write a Windows version. You see the reason you should be running it instead of IIS is that it is FREE. Now I understand that you maybe hosting your site on some free web server with a domain name like that came with your internet connection. It doesn’t matter as long as they are running Apache Web Server. Though I should put the plug in that it just costs a few dollars to register your own domain and few more for hosting (we do that here at TransparentSmoke by the way).

Second you need to make sure that support for your .htaccess file is turned on. It’s a pretty powerful file. So some servers don’t allow it. Though I have yet to figure out why. If it’s not, send your web host a message and ask for it to be.

Now place all you images and files in a single directory and add the file inside this rar to that folder.

You’ll need to edit the file for it to work. Right now it blocks people from stealing files from a mythical website, we need to make a change to protect your files.

#.htaccess block for deep linking

Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://??.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://www.??.com/.*$ [NC]
RewriteRule .*\.(gif|jpg|jpeg|bmp)$ http://??.com [R,L]

Everywhere it says ??, replace it with your domain name.

What’s going to happen is that anyone attempts to steal the image and your bandwidth, they will now just get a box with a little red X just like this one.

File Not Found

And if they happen to place a link to your image to open it in a new window, it will bounce them back to your main page.

Now when you place cool content on your server, like this image, you can be sure that no one else will steal your bandwidth to place the content on their page. Of course this whole discussion begs another article. Maybe part of the problem is we don’t own any of the images, so they all should be public, but I know I pay for the bandwidth, so lets start by protecting that. I mean the whole internet is based on file stealing; Google Cache, Temporary Internet Files directories, File Mirrors. But I’ll leave that till next time…


Dream Office

Home Office

That’s my home office in the picture. I used to love that space, I’d revel in the warmth I felt when sitting there. Everything was cozy, comfortable… I’ve grown to hate it.

I want a change. I want better. I want dual monitors and natural light and… I want this.

I’ve decided to make changes, to renovate, but I’m unsure as to the best way to utilize my space. TransparentSmoke has definately not generated enough income to follow in Joel’s footsteps… yet! But I do deserve better.

Follow me as I embark on the renovation of a lifetime for the regular computer user. This is no $1000.00(cdn) a month per seat office, but I hope to recreate the feal of Joel’s offices in my own home with just a few thousand dollars.

Renovations will encompase a new server room, lan cables, power, and desk space for 6 workstations. Help me make the best of the space available. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Remember when commenting all upgrades must be able to be completed for less than $5000.00 total cost.

Office Layout
Current Office Layout

1920 x 1200 Wallpaper

I got my new monitor. An Apple Cinema HD 23″. Tonnes of desktop space and a new problem.

No wallpapers.

I’ve been looking and looking and I’ve only found a few good desktops. More specifically, only a few in which the photos were natively created at the 1920 x 1200 resolution. I have found more than a couple where somebody just opened a pre made desktop in Photoshop and changed the image size. These I’ve grabbed because I’m desperate here, but would never think to push them off to you as native 1920 x 1200 wallpapers. Below is a desktop “size example” wallpaper to show you what I’m looking for.

If you’ve got the Internet Explorer Image Tool bar turned on, it is going to resize the image to fit your screen. Please turn it off to understand the difference in a 1024 x 768 and 1920 x 1200. (IE / Tools / Internet Options / Advanced / Uncheck “Enable Automatic Image Resizing”)

1920 x 1200

I’ve posted some of the best resolution wallpapers I could find here for all those people that are willing to help me in my search. Post a link in the comments if you find any other locations for good wide screen format wallpapers.







You’ll notice my image preference seems to be one way or the other, childish or very adult. That wasn’t exactly my choice, but all that I could find. I was actually surprised with the number of child focused desktops at this size, I actually was wondering how many parents can afford to buy their kids $3000.00 monitors. I have started using MS desktop manger to run multiple desktops so I can switch between when the kids are around and when they are not.

Help me out here people.

New larger wallpaper archive found. Read her at Wallpaper 2

Windows XP AMD 64 Bit

[Editors note - these instructions and drivers only applies to RC1; RC2, build 1433 or the final release require decorated drivers]

Cutting edge just ain’t what it used to be.

I remember when you used to buy a just released version of something and support staff from the company would fall all over you with support because they knew you paid way too much. I went out and bought my dream system almost two months ago. I have just been able to figure out how to run it the way it was intended. In the last two months I’ve yet to receive a response from a major manufacturer, let alone an update directly from them. It’s only after weeks of waiting and hours and hours on the internet that I have a running, functional AMD 64 Bit computer.

I bet others are having the same problems I did. To help them out I’ve decided to post all of the specs and the drivers I used to get it all running.


  • AMD Athlon 64 Bit 3200 Mhz
  • Asus K8V Deluxe
  • VIA K8T800 integrated SATA RAID
  • VIA K8T800 / VIA VT8237 Chipset
  • 3Com 3C940 10/100/1000 onboard Lan
  • SoundMax ADI AD1980 Sound Card
  • Asus V9950 Ultra 256 Mb (Nvidia 5900 Ultra)
  • NEC DVD RW ND-2500A
  • Kingston HyperX PC3200 (400Mhz) 2x512Mb matched pair
  • 2x Seagate SATA 160Gb (ST3160023AS) Hard Drives

To be able to continue you’ll need a copy of Windows XP 64 Bit first. There is no officially released version of Windows XP 64 for the new AMD Athlon 64 Bit. Windows XP Pro original works fine, thats what I’ve been running for the last couple of months. Drivers are available from the appropriate manufacturers if you’re going to opt. out and just run a standard 32 Bit Operating System. The drivers provided below are for the Windows XP AMD 64 Bit system only.

The good news is that a free 360 Day trial version is available for download from Microsoft. Officially it is called Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems, I’m just going to refer to it as Windows XP AMD 64 Bit.

The bad news is that when I first got this version running I thought I had broken something. The “Luna” theme is not installed. If you’re making the move, remember this free release is “Beta” and some things might not work. I failed to see that warning on Microsoft’s download page (because it isn’t there, they use the word “preview” instead).

Desktop - Windows XP AMD 64 Bit

Asus K8V Deluxe

Next, the Motherboard. I’ll tell this story until I’m an old man, because I’ve been laughing over the irony of it for the last two months. You would assume that if you paid enough money for a 64 Bit enabled Motherboard to run a uniquely pinned 64 Bit processor chip. That the manufacturer would have 64 Bit drivers available for you, for the options built on to the board. They don’t. There is not one driver or program available from Asus for the Windows XP AMD 64 Bit operating System. The official line is that this operating system is not yet supported.

With all of these drivers you should be set to install all of the onboard functions of the Mother Board on Windows XP AMD 64 Bit.

To follow my exact setup. Install both SATA drives to the VIA SATA controllers on the motherboard. Turn the VIA RAID controller on in the BIOS and the Promise controller off. When Windows XP AMD 64 Bit boots, press F6 to specify additional drivers and use the RAID driver I’ve provided on a floppy. Use the 3Com driver to get to the network card running, then install the VIA Hyperion drivers. Finally add the Sound Card drivers to get sound.

Asus V9950 Ultra 256 Mb (Nvidia 5900 Ultra)

Nvidia has been at the forefront of 64 Bit development. This is the only driver I didn’t have to wait for.


I didn’t require a driver for the DVD but I thought I would mention the DVD separately because there has been some discussion on the support bulletin boards about DVDs. I’ve had no difficulty with this model under the Windows XP AMD 64 Bit operating system. I did how ever update it’s BIOS from within Windows XP AMD 64 Bit.

Kingston HyperX PC3200 (400Mhz) 2x512Mb

This stuff benchmarks amazingly fast. But I’ve got one question for everyone else. Does everyone show just 1023Mb? There is no driver for this, but it shows the same under both versions of windows. I’m going to go with the old adage “If it ain’t broke…” . Any information would be helpful.

Seagate SATA 160Gb (ST3160023AS) Hard Drives

Again no drivers required. I will mention though that there was a lot of talk about Windows XP AMD 64 Bit not supporting the operating system being installed on RAIDed SATA drives. I just want everyone to know, it is possible and is working.