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Synergy synergizes synergistic synergies

At my day job I work between two main computers and sometimes three. So far, I have found great success running Synergy to enable using a single mouse and keyboard between them.
With my PC set up as a server and my Macs set up as clients, I have basically configured the desktops of my computers to connect in one giant row of desktop space. The effect is so seamless that I often feel frustrated that I can't drag and drop between them.

Synergy Stickers are a Must Have.A couple of items in the popular ordered list format:

  1. Go PC to Mac. Seriously. It just works better that way.
  2. On the Mac, use Synergy KM. Synergy KM is the version that uses a graphical preferences pane. Just because you can use the Command Line doesn't mean it makes sense.
  3. In deference to the first point, configuring the screen locations for the server on Windows is unnecessarily complicated. Don't forget to configure your way back onto a Desktop once you've configured your way off.
  4. On the Mac, the server is supposed to find clients via bonjour, but I can only get it to work by manually entering the IP of the server. This is annoying when your network doles out IP addresses dynamically.
  5. The only time I've ever seen Bonjour work was when I swapped out a PC with a co-worker who then suddenly found that she kept having to fight with a phantom (Me) for control of her mouse. She had no idea what was going on and I laughed and laughed at her.
  6. You'll still find yourself needing a mouse/keyboard on each machine at some points. I find it easiest to just keep the keyboard tucked under the monitor or shelf that the computer sits on.
  7. By default, the client and server will dole out "special" keys as if you were using the default keyboard layout for that operating system. You can configure this, but why? I put little stickers on my keyboards to help keep track of what key is what key in what mode.
  8. The processing of your mouse movements, however, is somewhat processor intensive-- and having a laggy mouse can really suck. My G5 iMac is more prone to this lag. In fact, I've never noticed it on my Dual-Core MacBook.

A fun fact: I worked for a CAD-CAM software company for a number of years whose flagship software product was called "Synergy." Back then, I lobbied against the name because it was an abstract noun that required too much thinking. I still feel that way, even about this 'OS independent input device sharing' software. Synergy is supposed to evoke the idea that by working together, two independent things are greater than the sum of their parts, right? But that's just stupid in the context of sharing a single keyboard and mouse across multiple computers. That shouldn't require synergy... that's just how shit should work.

Honestly, I feel bad for Microsoft sometimes.

Microsoft is the Ziggy of the software industry. Think about it. Everybody knows who Ziggy is and most people hate him. And then some people take great pleasure drawing a nipple on his voluptuous nose.

Case in point: Today's's article breathlessly entitled "XP SP3 performance gains - Nothing to write home about."

The article does little more than draw a giant nipple on Microsoft's voluptuous nose, running a series of benchmark tests on various computers to prove that what was essentially a hot-fix roll-up service pack doesn't magically accomplish something beyond the scope of it's intended design.

May I suggest the following story for next week's headlines at ZDnet: "XP Service Pack 3 does nothing to protect users from tiger attacks." Then we can all point and laugh at Microsoft for being so large and stupid that it can't see the implicit danger of tiger attacks and don't they have any engineers in Redmond they can throw at the tiger attack problem?

This kind of reporting is easy kicking at the cat. It's lazy journalism at best and irresponsible at worse.

I installed SP3 on an old laptop last night. The experience was less than flawless and less than easy, but you know what? I only had to reboot twice. That's roughly six times less than I would have had to reboot in a pre-SP3 world. And that, in my opinion, is a service pack done right.

Free photo rescue program saves the day

PhotoExtractorThanks be to the good people at Mabusse, developers of Photo Extractor, the free windows application that can extract otherwise lost photo data from a corrupted SD Card.

Enjoy the software author's webpage:

Do You take a digital camera with You to the holiday? Have You ever seen a message on the display about the flash card is unreadable and will be formatted now?

Google is awash with crappy demo versions of similar products that do the same thing, only for money. Photo Extractor is free, functional, and saved the day. If you have a damaged memory card, before you give up and send your photos away into the ether, try Photo Extractor. Some of the photo rescue programs I saw while hunting around wanted as much as $90 for a functinoally identical product. Worse, some of the photo rescue programs show you your unrevoverd photos and stamp "DEMO VERSION" across the top of them, effectively holding your photos hostage for $30 in blood money. Screw you guys.

Photo Extractor just works, works well, and doesn't try to exploit my panic over my lost photos for their financial gain.

I don't have any eGold, but if I did, I'd, as the author of Photo Extractor suggests, "transfer 10 USD to my e-gold account 1324912. "


Didja watch the 20/20 show on Prostitution last Friday night? I did. Sort of. It was on while we were making meatballs, anyway. Mmmmm... Meatballs. Anyway, I saw that one of the "legit" brothels uses the internet to process there transactions and what do they use to track their website traffic? You know it: Say it with me:


Of course, I pointed this out immediately, and J. told me that I was probably the only person in America that would take note of the web-metrics package that whores use.

If I was the Awstats people, I'd jump on this promotional opportunity right away. Awstats! The Web Analytics Software Choice of Whores!*

The Google Analytics people must be pissed.

*Because, honestly, "Awstats! The Web Analytics Software Choice of Whores whose web hosting provider allows Perl, CGI and log access" just doesn't roll of the lips.

Four quick windows gripes that don't really involve Ubuntu directly

1. In Windows Vista, I cannot print to my Ubuntu shared printer. No matter how hard I tried. Compare this with the fact that when I have a OSX in the house, it actually prints _better_ to the Ubuntu shared printer than Ubuntu does.

2. Using Windows Vista to move files between Ubuntu drives is slow and crash-prone. I'm not a computer-smart kind of guy, right? I know just enough to be dangerous. Why, using Windows to copy files, do files copy at about 1/4 the speed of the same files being transferred via SFTP?

3. Windows Skydrive, which could be Windows strongest selling point if they didn't screw it up so badly*, doesn't let you upload things in directories. What the good is it then? 

4. Ubuntu is not in the default Microsoft spellchecker. Boo!


*Think on this: How do Ubuntista's counter this argument? Q: Why do you use Windows? A: Well, because with Windows comes 5GB of Skydrive which is mine to do with what I want and I can keep my important documents synched up there in case of a system failure."

Didja notice? Firefox Three has a wacky new UI?

Did you guys notice the new UI that came with the recent update of Firefox 3?



At first, I hated this.
But, getting over the initial shock, now I like it.
I think, though, UI design peaked in 2007 with the advent of the Ribbon. I wish there was a full-on ribbon version of IE available. I might even use IE then.
I've been using Firefox3 at work for quite a while now. It seems more stable-- but that's probably becuase I don't have any extensions enabled on it.

Wishywashy loser, am I.





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