Category Archives: Tech Life

Bayan DSL Proxy

If you’ve been having trouble with Bayan DSL web connections to some websites (which we have for the past few weeks or so), you may be surprised to know that they have an HTTP proxy server you can use. Strange, considering that when reporting such problems to their trunkline, they never ask whether you’re using that proxy server or not. I don’t recall ever being told about it by the Bayan DSL staff.

My brother found out about it last night and lo and behold! The websites we’ve previously had trouble accessing, such as Yahoo Mail, Multiply, Flickr, etc. have become accessible and Youtube videos now stream well, etc.

The settings are:

HTTP proxy server:

Port: 3128

You can set these in the options dialog of Firefox, under Advanced -> Network -> Settings.

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Transferring Files to N73 from Vista Using Bluetooth

I needed to transfer a file to my phone today, but could not find my USB cable. I figured I’d try out the Bluetooth with the laptop.

After around 30 minutes of struggling with the unintuitiveness and some helpful googling I finally was able to transfer my file using the ff steps, for future reference:

1. Turn on Bluetooth on the Acer Aspire using the Bluetooth button.

2. Right-click the Bluetooth icon on the systray -> Show Bluetooth Devices -> Options -> tick “Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer”

3. Enable Bluetooth on the N73 via menu -> Tools -> Bluetooth

4. Scroll right on the N73 and the Paired Device screen is shown. Choose Options -> New Paired Device

5. The N73 should list your computer name (mine is PANDA!), select the computer name and you’ll be prompted for a passkey. Don’t input anything yet…

6. Back to the Vista PC, right-click the Bluetooth icon in the systray, then choose Add Device.

7. Tick “My device is set up and ready to be found.” and click Next.

8. The wizard should list your phone. Choose the phone and click Next.

9. Tick “Let me choose my own passkey”, and type a passkey.

10. You get the message to “Please enter the passkey on your Bluetooth device now”, so do just that.

11. The bluetooth connection should be all set up, to send a file to your N73, right-click the bluetooth icon and click Send a file

12. You’re done. Hooray!

Side note: After step 10, Vista seems to want to install drivers for the N73…but it doesn’t seem to be necessary

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I’m not sure why but I decided to try out the Flock 2 web browser beta, the “social web browser” built on top of Firefox.

This is a test actually. Flock’s blog post dialog doesn’t seem to provide any category support (it supports tags instead), so I want to see what category this post would go under.

(Update: Flock let me choose a category after I try to publish the post.)

I’m not yet entirely sure what the merits of using Flock are, it seems to be mostly conveniences when using certain webapps. I’m going to try it out for a few days.

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A Week So Far With Vista

The gist of it is: it wasn’t as annoying as I had been led to expect.

Frankly, I think it’s better than XP, but I might be blinded by the fact that it’s very pretty. Visually it’s a step up from XP the same way XP was a step up from ’95. The XP box at work seems so bland to me now.

The file manager (Explorer) is very nice, I like the functionality of being able to navigate the address bar by mouse click (though I never used this back in Ubuntu) and the ability to sort files even in thumbnail view. The desktop gadgets are neat but probably not really that useful, though I still keep them around.

IE7 so far has been tolerable, except that I found out just now that it has Javascript errors when I’m using the WordPress RTE for posting. Also, the Ctrl+K shortcut for the search box is missing, but I still insitinctively use it all the time. I think I’m going to switch to Firefox right after posting. :p

All the permission prompts that I had heard people complain about didn’t really bother me. They only come up when you need to do administrative-related tasks, and coming from Ubuntu I’m a bit used to it.

I haven’t removed most of the preinstalled Acer crap yet, but I’ve removed the 90-day trial of Norton Antivirus and replaced it with Avast antivirus.

Oh, Windows Update is prompting me for a restart! It’s also my first time working with an OS that has Windows Update enabled, and some people have told me how annoying the restart prompts are especially while playing games. Luckily, I can afford to restart right now.

All in all, Vista seems okay, and I believe it’s a good upgrade to XP, which has been getting boring to me. I was originally planning on dual-booting this laptop with Linux, but I think I’ll stick with Vista for a while.

New Laptop!

Just a bit of an indulgence.

There was a warehouse sale at the office building from Tuesday to Friday. Like every single time I would make a big purchase I waffled undecisively between buying and not buying a laptop for the first four days, only to succumb at the very last minute when a model with an insane price became available.

On 7:30pm of the last day of the sale, I picked up an Acer Aspire 4920 unit with the following specs:


Intel® Centrino® Duo Mobile Processor Technology, Intel ® Core™2 Duo Processor T7100 (1.8GHz, 2Mb L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)

Mobile Intel® PM965 Express Chipset, Built-in Intel® Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N

Genuine Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Premium

1GB DDR2 533MHz Memory/ 160GB SATA HDD (Extended Power)

14.1″ WXGA TFT CrystalBrite LCD (8ms response time)

Built-in New Acer CrystalEye WebCam supporting Acer PrimalLite Technology

Built-in Dolby® Digital Surround Sound (DLNA Certified)

Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR Technology

Built-in 5in1 Card Reader

Built-in Super Multi Double Layer Drive

Built-in 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN/56k Modem

ATI Mobility™ Radeon® X2500 with up to 1GB of HyperMemory™ Technology (256MB dedicated Memory, 768MB Shared Memory)

New Acer Arcade Deluxe Multimedia Software

Acer GridVista Technology

Acer Empowering Technology with Free

Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2007 (Trial Version for 60 days)


I felt guilty about the impulse buy for a few hours; I didn’t really need a laptop of course, and I could upgrade one of the home desktops into a top of the line gaming machine for the same price. Still, I’ve always wanted a laptop and if I went by that logic I’d never have one!

So yeah I’m using it now, I also bought and setup a wifi router at home as well, so now I get to blog while watching a DVD of 21. I’m also back to using a Windows OS at home, since the laptop comes with Windows Vista Home Premium. I think I’m going to try using Vista and IE for a while and see how long before I decide to wipe and install into an XP/Ubuntu dual boot. At least I get to experience the thrill of being a Windows shill for a while. 😀

Opera 9.5

Because I’m a sucker for trying out alternative software, I installed and tried out the latest release of the Opera web browser, Opera 9.5, for a bit more than a week. Opera is neat and all, but I don’t see any features that are so awesome that they can’t be done in Firefox (with some extensions maybe).

My favorite feature is I guess the Speed Dial page; where opening a new tab displays a customizable table of common websites you visit. Opera also provides a function to zoom in or out of any web page (don’t know if Firefox has a similar extension). Supposedly Opera is also the fastest in terms of browser rendering; I didn’t perform any benchmarks, but I didn’t notice any significant difference either.

There are quite a few cons though. In particular:

  • The standard WordPress rich text editor doesn’t work correctly; I had to use the plain text editor when posting using Opera.
  • Some Google properties such as Google Docs and Google Notebook don’t work correctly
  • Flash content that renders before the rest of the page does not correctly move into the proper position once rendering is complete

The WordPress and Google support are deal-breakers for me, without those problems I would have considered keeping Opera as my primary browser for a while. As it is, I’m switching back to Firefox 3.0.

OpenOffice Calc 2.4 vs Microsoft Excel

An alpha release was just announced for Open Office 3. Being an Ubuntu user, Open Office is really the only sane choice I have for an office suite. At work I’m using Microsoft Office 2007. Among the office suite applications, I’m most of a power user for the spreadsheet applications. Here’s my side-by-side comparison of Excel and oOo Calc:

Microsoft Excel 2007 on Windows XP:

  • Looks really pretty.
  • Loads up quickly.
  • Proprietary and expensive.
  • Not available for Linux.

OpenOffice Calc 2.4.1 on Ubuntu:

  • Feature-rich – has some features that excel does not.
  • I can have a sandwich in the time it’s loading.
  • Free as in speech, and as in beer too!
  • Usability issues, such as inconveniently prompting a dialog box on every delete. (This is logged in their database as bug # 9392. There’s a workaround, but hopefully it will be fixed by default in Open Office 3)
  • Autofilter feature is immature compared to Excel, not enough options for filtering.
  • It can open a password-protected XLS correctly (prompting me for the password), but it can’t save it back with the password.
  • I was going to complain about the UI, but now that I’ve thought better of it, it’s no worse than other GTK/Linux apps.

Continue reading OpenOffice Calc 2.4 vs Microsoft Excel

Laptop Keyboards Suck

Seriously. Having to hit an extra key just to use “Home” or “End”? For some reason, PrintScreen and CapsLock keys are higher priority than Home and End, meaning you don’t need to use “Fn” to access them. Do people not use Ctrl+Shift+Home and Ctrl+Shift+End all the time? I’m sure a lot of developers do. Whenever I’m on this laptop and need to use Home or End, I mentally pronounce “Fn” as a seven-letter word starting with “F” and ending with “ing”.

I like laptops, but keyboards need to improve in some way. My suggestion? Remove the trackpad and have an extra row for those keys that you would have relegated to “Fn” status.  While using the keyboard is around 200 times more productive than using the mouse (citation needed), the mouse is around 200 times more productive than the trackpad.

Who designs these interfaces anyway? Do Mac users have similar issues?