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Posts tagged with "computer"

UNIX - A History and a Memoir

I recently finished reading the book “UNIX - A History and a Memoir” by Brian Kernighan which was a great read, especially for someone who is into the UNIX operating system as much as I am.

On about 180 pages the book tells the story how UNIX came about and how its groundbreaking concepts changed the path of computer technology and led to a whole lot of new and innovative software, which still is in use over 50 years later.

What I particularly liked about the book is not only the intelligible and entertaining style it is written in, but especially that the events are portrayed first-hand by Brian, who had been closely working with the Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at the time when Unix was created at Computing Science Research Center at Bell Labs.

It was especially interesting to learn, how the particulars, the exactly fitting mix of people and work environment, time and events led to something far beyond what the creators could have imagined.

If you are interested in computing or computing history, or in Unix specifically, this book is for you.

The Book
The Book

At the end of the book Brian had referenced a couple of web links I almost was too lazy to type in. But I did it anyway and it led to some interesting resources on the topic. Mainly for my own reference, I’ve listed some of them below. Be aware that this is by no means the complete list of references Brian had mentioned. There are a whole lot more, especially to papers and books.

Flickering Outlook Webmail (OWA)

A couple of days ago I encountered a strange issue on one of my colleagues notebooks: his Outlook Webmail (OWA) was “flickering”, the list of his emails looked like it was constantly reloading and this strange thing happened in all of his mail folders, no matter what web browser he used…

At first I thought that one ore more of the keys of his notebook are stuck, but as it turned out the culprit was something totally different:

The clock of his notebook was out of sync and lagging a couple of hours behind!

As soon as I had synchronized his notebook’s clock against an internet source, the phenomenon was gone.

Since I never encountered this problem before, I thought I’ll leave a note here, mainly to remind myself of the solution.

Mounting Truecrypt Volumes in Linux

Today I learned (well not actually today, but a few days ago): You can easily mount Truecrypt containers with cryptsetup in Linux. So let's put a quick reminder here, just in case I need this again...

Set up a loop device

sudo losetup /dev/loop0 /path/to/truecrypt/container

Then open it

sudo cryptsetup open --type tcrypt /dev/loop0 tccontainer

And finally mount the container

sudo mount /dev/mapper/tccontainer /mnt

To close it again, go the other way round...

umount /mnt
sudo cryptsetup close tccontainer
sudo losetup -d /dev/loop0


You can also mount hidden Truecrypt containers by specifying the type tcrypt-hidden in the cryptsetup open... step.

QMMP Linux Media Player

There are plenty of media players for the Linux platform out there, but the one I like most is the QT-based Multimedia Player QMMP. Maybe one of the reasons for this is, that it feels very much like the original [Winamp Player](, which I had adopted as my media player of choice back in October 1998 when version 2.03 came out.

Read on...

Turn Windows features on or off shows an empty list

When it comes to webservers, my favorite is Apache. Today, however, I needed to install Microsoft’s IIS on my Windows 7 notebook for a bunch of compatibility tests of some Python web applications I wrote.

Installing IIS on Windows 7 is normally a very painless task. You just go to Start --> Control Panel --> Programs and select Turn Windows features on or off from the dialog box that opens. Thereafter you simply select IIS and the additional components you’d like to install. After a few moments IIS is installed and ready to use.

But today, once more, Windows did its best to cod me...

After clicking *Turn Windows features on or off* the upcoming dialog box, that should list these features, was empty. No matter how often I re-opened the dialog, it remained empty and it turned out to be a pretty stubborn problem.

I tried:

None of these steps helped, the list of components remained empty.

After some research on the web, it turned out that this problem has been around since quite a while and both, Windows 7 and Windows Vista, are affected. Microsoft has described the effects in its knowledge base article 934538 but the steps described there didn’t help to fix the problem. Many desperate users seemed to have reinstalled their systems because they didn’t find a solution for this issue.

Fortunately I came across a comment, which led me to this knowledge base article, which – at a first glance – has nothing to do with this problem. However, after installing the described "System Update Readiness Tool" for my version of Windows (in this case Windows 7 Professional x64), the problem was fixed and the list of components was properly populated.

I haven’t investigated this whole issue any further, since I had to get back to my actual task. But I thought I leave a few words about it here, just in case...

Sound feedback for Microsoft Office 2007

As in previous versions of Microsoft Office, there’s an option in Office 2007 that turns on additional feedback sounds. The additional sounds needed for this feature to be activated, can be downloaded from this page at Microsoft's website.

Unfortunately the installer insists on having an older version of Microsoft Office installed and refuses to work if you have Office 2007. But there’s a rather simple solution to get it installed anyway. Here’s how:

All what’s left to do is to turn on the sound feedback in one of your office programs. For example, in Microsoft Word you would click the Office-Button, then "Options" and "Extended", scroll down almost to the end of the dialog and turn on the option "Provide sound feedback".

Enjoy :-)

Still playing with Windows 7

I made some compatibility tests today and found no problems so far. If there’s some spare time this weekend, I’ll install my most used apps under Windows 7 and check if there are any problems.

Read on...

Windows 7 - First Contact

Windows 7 Logo Today I received Windows 7 Ultimate for my notebook and immediately gave it a try. I haven’t used the betas and release candidates before (intentionally), so this was my very first contact with Windows 7.

Read on...