Hey there, this site is pretty old now. I've decided to leave it up as I put a lot of work into it and would hate to see it disappear.
Search results for: Software
Neal Grosskopf @ 5/14/2007 7:06:02 PM
After purchasing a new laptop I recently had the chance to use Windows Vista for the first time. We have all seen the annoying Mac ads about Windows Vista telling us why we shouldn't get it. After using it (on a brand new computer which makes me a bit bias) I like Windows Vista.
I really don't see any reason from somebody who purchases a new computer to uninstall Vista and put something else on there. Now for people without Vista I don't really see a reason for them to update either. I mean Windows XP was a really, really good OS compared to many of the others. XP did everything we wanted and better. Vista on the other hand is similar to XP but with pretty colors and such.
Some nice features in Vista are when you're navigating folders you can click in the address bar on folders 3 levels above and go directly to them. Another nice thing is the new various way you can view files while exploring them. Also there are the new gadgets sidebar taken from the Mac of course but it is still cool. I personally enjoy getting rss feeds updated constantly with my gadgets. One thing about the gadgets is they seem to loose focus when you click off of them and then they disappear. If there is such a feature it would be nice if they would appear above all other windows and remain open all the time.
Some of the downfalls of Vista are the annoying User Account Control popups (UAC) not to be confused with UAC. Basically UAC is a safeguard for Microsoft to cover their butts if your computer messes up via spyware or the new Bonzi Buddy. To the dumb computer user this will scare them, to the normal and advanced it will annoy them. While the Mac commercials like to rip on this over and over again it's really not a big deal. Go to the control panel, click a button and voila, your back to normal (just like Windows XP again). No more popups, no more Mac commercials.
So if you really like Windows XP and want Vista, I say buy it. If you are just curious I say wait until your next computer. If you have just bought a computer with Vista on it, Enjoy!
Neal Grosskopf @ 8/13/2008 8:43:34 PM
Call Wave is an voice mail replacement for cell phones. I get really terrible service on my cell phone where I currently live so I seldom check my voice messages. To top that off Verizon has one of the worst systems for listening to voice mails (which consists of listing off 100+ key combination to do random actions.) Another problem with them is their delay in alerting me when I have a voice message. Sometimes I'll get an alert on my phone only to find out somebody called 2 hours earlier, and I'll listen to my message and the phone will alert me again as if I didn't listen to it. Call Wave to the rescue.
Call Wave is a replacement for Verizon's crappy service. Call Wave will send me a text message AND an email every time I miss a call or receive a voice mail. Since I check my email more often than my phone this service works perfect for me. You can also turn of the text message alert option if you do not have a plan for texting.
Even more impressive are Call Waves features. In the email it sends me, It send a MP3 file with the voice message attached. It also gives me a link to immediately text message the caller back. Another feature it has is it gives me the location the caller called from, such as Appleton WI. This comes in really handy when trying to determine who the unknown caller was.
By moving my entire voice mail management system online, Call Wave works better for me. For those who still like the old fashioned way, you can still check your messages from your cell phone using Call Waves menu as well. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Neal Grosskopf @ 2/5/2009 7:31:30 PM
Chris Retlich recently encouraged me to download VirtualBox which allows you to run a separate OS simultaneously with your default OS. I then decided to install Windows 7 beta which I had downloaded a few weeks earlier but did nothing with.
I already have Windows Vista and despite all the rumblings about it I haven't minded Vista all that much. I think it's more public perception than actual quality of Vista that is the problem. I wasn't expecting Windows 7 to be much of an improvement due to the fact that it's being released so quickly after Vista was released. The installation of Windows 7 went very quick and required very little input from me. When the OS booted the first thing I noticed was, "gee the taskbar looks different". One of the major changed Microsoft has made is the way the taskbar works. It now acts like a mix of the old versions of Windows and Mac OSX (or more like a glorified version of Nextstep which is what OSX is.) What this means is there is no longer a quick launch toolbar. What we have now is icons such as IE8 sitting in the taskbar automatically and when clicked, are the icon that you use to switch back to IE8.
Another useful thing in Windows 7 is the way you can interact with windowed programs. You can now drags windows to the top, left, or right of the screen and they will automatically resize in different ways. If you drag the window to the top of the screen it will automatically maximize. If you drag it to the left of the screen it will automatically consume the left half of the screen.
Another change is gadgets can now be undocked and moved around the screen freely rather than be stuck on the side. This was one of my biggest complaints about them in Vista and has been fixed. There also appears to be a whole slew of things in Windows 7 related to multi-touch which gives users with the proper hardward the ability to use their fingers/hands to manipulate Windows without a mouse.
Finally, Windows 7 has a better manager for UAC and also a better manager for all those annoying balloon tips that popup in the taskbar area.
Another feature I just recently discovered, is if you right click on a file, you're given the option to "recover previous version" which appears to be a version control feature that uses Windows Backup. It will be interesting to see how well this feature works.
Also another extremely needed feature in Windows is a screen shot generating tool. Windows 7 FINALLY has a tool that allows you to grab various regions of the screen and to save as an image file. Lets hope this will mean I won't have to waste my time at work generating screen shots for co-workers anymore.
So what sucks about Windows 7? My only complaint is that since they got rid of the quick launch toolbar, there is no longer an easy way to "show the desktop". They did create a really small button in the bottom left of the screen near the clock to accomplish this, but since I have such a large monitor it's too much mouse moving to quickly access it. I also am very displeased with Internet Explorer 8's rendering capabilities as it appears it is creating new rendering bugs that don't exist in IE6 or IE7 and also IE8's failure to emulate the rendering of IE7 and IE6 in capability mode. If IE8 is officially released as it is now, it will a worse browser than IE6 is.
I give Windows 7 a 9/10.
Neal Grosskopf @ 3/24/2009 9:55:38 PM
MP3tag is a MP3 tagging program. If you're not familiar with MP3 tagging, you should be, especially if you listen to a lot of music on a MP3 players such as the iPod or the Zune. MP3 tagging
is also useful if you have a lot of songs on your computer. If you properly tag your MP3 files your MP3 player will group/sort your files in a more logical manner which will
allow you to find the music you are looking for faster. This also holds true on your computer whether you are using iTunes or Windows Media player. Many people will tag their
music within iTunes or Windows Media player; the problem with this is, if you were to clear out your library within those programs you lose all your track information, because the programs do not
directly edit the MP3, but just store the tagging information in a separate database file. If you use a tagging program like MP3tag, you won't have to worry about this anymore.
I recently ripped my entire CD collection as WAV files (for backup) and then I ripped it all again as MP3 files. I did this because I plan to buy an MP3 player in the near future to basically put all the
music I own on (which in MP3 format, appears to be 35gb). Fortunately when I ripped the music as MP3's I ensured that my files were tagged. What I discovered was, while my ripped music was properly tagged, my other MP3 files on my computer were
not. There was one saving grace for me, which was that I had named almost all of my MP3 files in a similar structure i.e. ARTIST - TITLE.MP3.
MP3tag fortunately has a parsing feature that can loop through my MP3 file's naming convention and automatically tag my files. I first ensured that all my files were named according to my naming convention
and I then had MP3tag do the rest. It was really easy, and I managed to tag 2,000 MP3 files in a short amount of time.
Another cool feature of MP3tag is it can actually take your tag information and rename your MP3's file name. This was especially helpful when I had all the tagging information correct but had an inconsistent
MP3tag was also useful because I could 'mass tag' files by selecting them all at once, then in the left column apply a value to all of the files. MP3tag also comes with an auto-numbering track number
feature where I can automatically assign track numbers to a list of MP3 files. I found that many of my tags within the track number column were inconsistent such as 1/13, 1, 01 etc.
MP3tag also makes editing one-off file tags much easier than using the Windows interface which requires you to right-click on a file, go to details, and then edit the file there. With MP3tag I can
just down-click on a file and the tag automatically turns into a textbox. The program probably saved me 20 hours of time that it would have taken me to do, in the Windows interface.
There are a few cons when using MP3tag. It comes with a 'tag sources' feature which will try to identify your songs and auto tag them. It uses a few different sources to achieve this. I tried using the tool
but it appears to be very unreliable and difficult to use. For instance I can search for an album name by supplying the program with an artist and a title. The problem is, the results it returns only lists
album names, and not the artist and track name. Without those two columns I am unable to determine whether the album actually contains the track or not.
Another complaint I have is the program doesn't appear to be able to edit iTune/Apple's .M4A files. While I don't have many files in this format It's annoying that I can't edit them.
Overall, MP3tag is a really great program and I recommend it for anybody remotely interested in organizing their music. I give it a 9/10.
Neal Grosskopf @ 10/6/2009 9:50:07 PM
I've always enjoyed playing old school videogames from my youth. I'm constantly reminded that graphics are nice, but gameplay is the most important factor in a game. Recently I got the itch to play Doom 2. I cranked up
my install of Windows XP, installed the game (if you can call it installing) and played it. Unfortunately the game is so old (almost 15 years) that I was unable to use the mouse in the game. After 15 minutes of
playing terribly, I looked for a solution. I first found a mouse driver but that didn't work. Next I tried an old school joystick I use to use but that didn't work either. Finally I found on a Doom wikia, a source
port called ZDoom.
Back in the 90's Id released the Doom source code for Linux. Some savvy people took this code and converted it for Windows. The next step was to enhance the game to make it playable with modern technology. One of these
enhancements was a source port called ZDoom.
ZDoom adds many of the features of modern first person shooters. You can now jump and crouch. The game also lets you define custom controller options (something that was lacking from the original Doom.) Because of this
I was able to apply my tried and true FPS controller settings to an old school game like Doom 2. In a way, this made me a super-player and made the game much more enjoyable.
Probably the coolest thing about ZDoom is the modders went back and updated many of the textures in the game for higher resolutions. I can now play Doom 2 fullscreen at 1920x1200 without extremely blurry graphics.
The graphics don't look earth shattering but I will say they look good enough that I can once again play the game without being distracted by the blurriness.
ZDoom also comes with an updated network play option that supposedly makes it easier to play against friends. I haven't tried this yet but it would be fun to play with friends.
A few other features the game includes is an updated HUD that is much more useful than the original Doom 2 HUD. The new one shows you your ammo for each weapon along with with other stats like secrets found/total secrets
and enemies killed/total enemies.
Overall ZDoom takes a classic game and makes it playable again along with a few modern conveniences we come to expect from modern FPS. I give it a 8/10.
Neal Grosskopf @ 4/8/2010 8:21:29 PM
I recently bought a new TV set that came with Netflix embedded into the TV's software. I had previously been using Blockbuster, mostly as just a holdover since all my movies were entered
using that service. A friend of mine recommended Netflix, and since it was integrated into my TV I gave it a try. Since then I have been quite satisfied with the service.
One of the best things about Netflix is I can pick out movies on my computer and they will show up on my TV letting me pick from them since my TV is hooked up to the internet.
Not all movies on the service are available this way, and not all of the movies available are in HD. Regardless, this is a really awesome option. In a way it's almost like I own
the movies because they can permanently sit in my streaming queue on my TV.
Also, while using Blockbuster I would often pick out obscure 80's horror movies that I'm interested in. It seemed like these movies were always stuck in "long wait" mode and half
of them never shipped. I have a feeling that Blockbuster didn't have these movies available in the first place and was just trying to lead me on with them. After using Netflix
I've found that all of these movies are available and immediately.
It seems like Netflix might be slightly faster with shipping times than Blockbuster. Overall I probably average about a movie once a week or sometimes twice a week. I do think that Netflix
ships my next movie quicker than Blockbuster did.
Overall I'm quite satisfied with Netflix and all of the devices they're available on. I could pick between my Xbox 360, Blu Ray player or TV set to watch movies on and I'm quite happy
with the available movies to choose from with the service. I give Netflix a 9/10
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