Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coolest all-in-one super-boot-cd

So you have a great WinPE boot-CD with not only your favorite tools (like Total Commander) but also with a lot of various WinPE versions and more important - a lot of cool recovery tools (like ERD Commander, PartitionMagic or data-recovery stuff). You also have another nice CD with the latest KNOPPIX version, eventually another one with a much smaller DSL or one with the media-oriented MoviX. Everything is just fine ... except that you have 3-4 large CDs that will never fit inside your pocket :(

But since today DVD drives are the norm there is one alternative - what if you could place all the above onto a small 8 cm DVD+RW - that will perfectly fit in a pocket and will be the ultimate "all in one mini-DVD".

For my own mini-DVD I have decided to combine my long-tested all-in-one WinPE version (with a lot of extras like Spinrite and much, much more) + KNOPPIX 5.0.1 + MoviX - so I have used the same build+boot method as in that WinPE CD - meaning that the ISO was created with Microsoft CDIMAGE.EXE (which can map duplicate files to the same block and will manage to fit 2-3 similar Windows versions in barely more space than a single one), and for boot options the original BSCRIPT was used. The CD structure was the same as for WinPE with a few extra folders - one named KNOPPIX, two other named MOVIX and MPLAYER.

Small hints - with CDIMAGE the option "-j1" should be used with KNOPPIX; also with only one KNOPPIX I have just used the latest at that moment - but please be aware that v5 has a small bug so it will expect the folder to be KNOPPIX - while older v4 versions were ok with any folder name and passing that as a boot parameter (that is a good trick to have v4 + DSL as a dual-linux boot option). Linux boot was achieved with BSCRIPT commands like "onkey 6 bcdw /boot/isolinux/isolinux.bin /boot/isolinux/linux initrd=/boot/isolinux/minirt.gz ramdisk_size=100000 init=/etc/init lang=us apm=power-off vga=791 nomce BOOT_IMAGE=knoppix".

The final result boots quite well on a large variety of computers so for the moment is my ultimate "all in one boot/recovery tool" - it is a LOT safer than a non-write-protected USB stick and will boot on far more computers (USB boot is still a little tricky on older systems) - however I also keep a bootable DSL + movix version on a small iPod shuffle (together with some relaxing music) 'just in case' :)

If you want more details on similar stuff you can take a look at some older posts here, here and here - or you can search on Google or your favorite torrent site for "boot CD" !

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Something else I predicted long ago ...

Well, it's a little scary when I am right so many times in a row but I can't stop gloating about thise one - so yes, after so much time when the message (from the sales) was so clear now some journalists can finally see it :) (also see one of my recent posts here).

But just to show that Apple has only got to the top spot not since they were amazing but most likely since the competitors were sucking even more - Amazon is just trying to pull a Sony :)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

SoftHints - more programs that should be part of Windows!

First of all please let me have my seconds of gloating - only 4 days after I suggested that Google should also extend scanning to magazines we have an article in NYTimes with that :) Obviously I would have liked a vastly bigger selection and I would not mind some smarter integration with Google advertising (so that I could check for free the entire scan of the 1956 Popular Photography for instance) but it's a start ...

Now back to SoftHints - that was launched in this post as suggestions for very valuable tools that Microsoft should simply buy (at a probably incredibly low price compared with other M$ 'investments') and add to the more advanced (and expensive) versions of Vista - the very first suggestions were Total Commander and WhereIsIt ...

This post will be about other such small programs - but this time the first two from a single source called XdeskSoftware - they also have some other programs but here we will only cover the most important stuff.

The very first program is called Xdesk - it was providing virtual desktops for different versions of MS Windows since the previous century and normally I would consider that more advanced tool ONLY for power-users ... but since now even Apple seems to be wanting to go that virtual-desktop-way I suppose it might be the right time for Microsoft too ... I believe they (Microsoft) had a number (3 ?) of similar free virtual-desktops power-toys but none was anywhere close to Xdesk so why not ... And what is also amusing is that some time ago Xdesk also added something not entirely different from Expose (but without the hardware acceleration - that I believe might only come with specific support in Vista) - so with that the Mac-envy will be placed to rest again :)

The second program is called XFilesDialog and is more 'everyday use' and less visible than Xdesk - it will only become visible on file-dialogs and some other file-related programs but can grow on you very fast and you will soon discover you can't live without it anymore - I believe the program was a HUGE hit for various older Windows versions (where the file dialogs were of a fixed size, and the program was enlarging them) but even today it is still a must-have Windows power-toy for it's history of cross-program files and folders and favorites and the very quick navigation!

As a small extra I will add a quick reference to another program that I "can't live without" - IrfanView - this one is freeware (the first four suggestions were all commercial products) and is a very handy tool in viewing local folders with many pictures inside - like in the XFilesDialog example above Microsoft has tried in XP to add some of the basic features - but again the non-Microsoft program is still miles and miles ahead ... so why not make another small author happy and in the process add to Vista a tool better than anything the Macs have :)

So now you have it - please let me see what you believe about other such invaluable tools that should be part of Vista!!!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

CoolHints - next take :)

CoolHints was an idea launched on this blog about cool things that companies should do to their (mostly existing) products - since the original post Apple did nothing worth mentioning but Archos have launched the 404, 504 and 604 - reviews can be seen on CNET and on PCMagazine - however they seem to still lack a decent HDD (60-80 GB is my first CoolHint for them, and the second would be CF and SD slots) and insist on neglecting the smaller Gmini XS - so I'm still waiting ... Sandisk on the other side launched the new c200 and is putting more and more pressure on Apple :) The only two suggestions for the c200 are a full SD slot instead the miniSD and a direct USB connector (so that you can use it as a thumbdrive too - in this respect the Samsung YP-U2 is superior).

Ricoh was also a small disappointment - they have announced the Caplio R5 and while it looks quite very nice the extra megapixel will be totally worthless if noise will not be improved over the R4. What they have also missed was the opportunity to also add a MP3 player as my CoolHint was suggesting - the very little available info suggests that the R5 might not even have the voice recorder from the R4 :( However Samsung knows better that you must 'stand out from the crowd' (and the market for small digicams is quite very crowded this fall) - so their new NV3 does have such a MP3 player - you can see a review here - and I can bet that Samsung will sell more of that (certainly photographically inferior) model than Ricoh will sell the R5 :(

So my CoolHints for the Ricoh R6 will be - MP3 player, focus-assist with LED/pre-flash and lower noise at high ISO. I also have a CoolHint for the Ricoh GRD2 - get a Foveon sensor - the GRD is certainly a luxury/rare item and a Foveon sensor will work on that direction (in the same way as the MP3 player will add NOTHING to the photography part of the R6 - but it will also not take away anything - yet will certainly appeal to the CONSUMER).

The final CoolHints are for ... GOOGLE :)

First of all the rather silly one - if they are so serious about scanning books why not going the next level and start scanning magazines - there are moments when I would really love to take a look at how things were looking 50 years ago - for instance you can take a look at PopularPhotography ...

And now the serious one - since Google is looking more and more like an investment fund why not actually use some of that money for something long overdue (and where a lot of small companies have failed before) - the elusive world of MICROPAYMENTS - a lot of people were writing about that starting probably with Jerry Pournelle and Dvorak but in some way Google already did a part of that - and today most of the blogs get their money from advertisers via Google - but wouldn't it be really nice to not depend exclusively on advertisers and instead have a way to pay for the real value of the content - no matter how small it is ?!