Zhooibaal\’s house of the unholy

04 September 2006

Browzar

Filed under: Browsers, Non game, PC — zhooibaal @ 19:53000000

Browzar
A new schoolyear has started and so did my new study course. As you could have read here I graduated from my previous school and now I’m going to Hogeschool Zuyd which is located in Heerlen (NL) to attend to the Network Infrastructure Design course which will last approximatly 3 years.

But as the title of this entry states, I’m not going to rant about school, I’m going to tell you about something a friend pointed me to and it’s called Browzar and the friend who pointed me to it has also been mentioned here before. It’s Frank from Gamesfm.nl. He’s the one I got my Sega Megadrive 2 and the Menacer from and he was also involved in the making of Uberfighter.

Let’s get to the point; Browzar is an internet browser and probably the pronounciating of Browzar will be the same as browser. But what’s so special about Browzar? Well, a few things:

  • it’s tiny (264KB)
  • it leaves no evidence of browsing
  • it tracks no cookies
  • it saves no temporary files
  • You don’t need to install anything

And that’s about it. It’s very simple to use, you have you’re usuals address bar, a few browsing buttons like next, back and home. You can print the current page with the printer button and ofcourse you can stop a page from loading by pressing the stop button or reload the page by pushing the reload button. In addition to that there is a search field next to the address field to save you the trouble of first browsing to a searchengine page.
There are no configuration options available whatsoever, so you can just start it and use it without going through tons of dialog windows before it works. And despite it’s simplicity there is a help menu present. The options in the help menu will make the browser navigate to the Browzar website to the corresponding page you requested.
Thanks to it’s very small size it loads extremely fast and because there are hardly any options integrated, the process of loading stuff on a page is also very fast.
The fact that you don’t need to install it is particularly usefull if you want to use it on other pc’s than your own. Like at school they only have Internet Explorer, so I can use Browzar at school which I can store on my mobile harddrive or USB stick. Simply put the Browzar executable on it and it works. It has only 1 file, so you can’t forget any files it might need to work except for the executable.
And the last good thing about Browzar is that it automatically blocks all popups. Which can be disabled from the menu.

Browzar is available in 2 different styles; black:

And silver:

As you can see in the last screenshot, Browzar is available for more than just Windows. It is also available for Linux and Mac OS X.

My conclusion is that I really like Browzar and because of it’s limited featureset it can be well used to avoid several annoying things that are implemented on various sites, beit clean (read: legal) or dirty (read: illegal) sites.

As far as I’m concerned there is only one minor drawback attached to Browzar and that is the lack of a favorites feature. But such a feature would require Browzar to save something to a file, which is doesn’t do with anything, so that would compromise one of it’s most treasured features: the privacy. If you really want to have all your favorites with you, you could write a little HTML page which you open with browzar which contains links to all your favorite websites. Problem solved 😛

Thanks Frank!

…End of line.

01 August 2006

External prevails when internal fails

Filed under: My stuff, PC — zhooibaal @ 22:56000000

Since the past few weeks I’ve been having some trouble with the PCI IDE controller which was installed in SlashDev (SlashDev page updated) and eventually it failed due to some minor overheating. You should know that the temperatures outside have been varying between 32 and 36 degrees Celsius during the past week and my room is in the attic, so my room had about full-sun-access for as long as the day lasted resulting in pretty extreme high temperatures inside. The result of that is naturally that my computer wasn’t able to get rid of it’s heat anymore which made the temperature at the inside of the case rise up to around 60 degrees Celsius and then when I started copying from both harddisks that are connected to the integrated IDE controller to both of the harddisks that were connected to the PCI IDE controller it couldn’t take it anymore resulting in an IDE controller failure.

I turned off my computer to give it a little chance to cool down and booted it again a few hours later to analyse the damage that was done. No damage to the harddisks themselves apparently, but the PCI IDE controller had become pretty unstable and thus it had become useless.

So then I decided I was going to remove 2 harddisks from my pc and use them as external drives and today I could pick up the USB harddisk enclosures required to do this. At first I wanted to get network attached harddisk enclosures, but I couldn’t find any for a reasonable price. They were either way too expensive or they weren’t what I was looking for at all, like a Dynalink NAS solution for 4 IDE or SATA harddisk drives; that would be just a very little bit of overkill in this case.

Anyway, the units I got are both from the brand Conceptronic and I got the Grab ‘n Go Hard Disk.
I think the units look very nice and their colours fit in really well with my PC case and my primary screen. But the looks aren’t the most important ofcourse. The performance, that’s what it’s all about and that is where I am very satisfied too. It even seems that the transferspeeds are better than before, but I can’t be completely sure there yet as I haven’t yet measured it. There are no fans installed in the units, so there is no additional noise beside the harddisk rattling itself.
The only weird thing is that the adaptors are pretty noisy. They both make somekind of buzzing noise. None of my other adaptors make such noises at all and believe me, I have a lot of adaptors. But if that is the worst I am very pleased with this product.

And last but not least, a few images, the first is one of the enclures witout it’s foot, the second one is the same enclosure standing on it’s foot, the third one it both of the enclosures while operating and the fourth one is basicly the same as the third one, but then without using the flash on my camera.
External hdd without it's footExternal hdd on it's footExternal hdd activeExternal hdd active (no flash)

…End of line.

20 May 2006

Dual screens

Filed under: My stuff, PC, PC games — zhooibaal @ 13:03000000

Yesterday my boss had been very nice to me; he gave me a 19″ iiyama Vision Master 1451. It may not be the newest of the new or the best of the best, but it is actually quite a nice screen and above all, it’s big. So I installed it as the secondary screen for SlashDev. My buddy Atariboy blogged about his triple screens over at his old blog a while ago and there I found a link to Ultramon.

Ultramon is a very nice little app that lets you control a lot more about your multiscreen setup than standard Windows does; you can stretch out the taskbar for instance and then the taskbar for each screen only displays the tasks that actually run on that screen. Or you can choose different wallpapers for each screen or stretch one wallpaper out over both screens. This app actually makes dual screens a lot more workable and it even makes the benefits of dual screens to be even stronger than they allready were.
Dual screens 1Dual screens 2Dual screens 3
Oh yeah, I got that screen for free, that’s actually the best part of it!

Besides that I decided to venture into the computer shopping world to get myself a new mouse and while I was shopping anyway, I decided that I could also replace my old headphones which had been put back together using sticky tape and a few days ago it fell apart beyond repairability.
So, the mouse, well, it’s a Logitech MX400 to replace my old MX500. You might think that that doesn’t sound very logical, but the MX500 is already 4 years old and due to heavy use it’s showing it’s age by hanging buttons and sometimes faulty response, it’s still good enough for my old Pentium 3 comp (stoomketel) though.
The MX400 is unlike the MX500 a lasermouse. It features 2000dpi accuracy which means that it’s very sensitive and pretty much equal to the Logitech G5 which costs about twice as much, but is a bit bigger and has more buttons. The shape of the G5 is the same as the shape of myold MX500 to be exact. The MX400 is slightly smaller and the only thing it lacks are the buttons I don’t use anyway.
MX400 1MX400 2

And last but not least, I got myself a new pair of headphones. Just like my previous headphones, this one is also from Philips. The Sennheisers they had sounded slightly better, but this one just sits better on my head and I still think that that is also very important. It costed only €35,00 and for that price I have nothing to complain about.
It is a Philips SBC HP830. There is no need to adjust it’s size as it adjusts itself whenever you put it on and it retracts when you take it off. The overall sound is very good and I can keep on this one for hours without it irritating me and you can barely hear it from outside due to it’s closed acoustic system which also prevents any outside noises to get inside.
It also has a 3 meter long detachable curled cable. The fact that it’s curled comes in pretty handy considering I sit only about half a meter from my pc and the curling keeps it quite a bit shorter but enables it to stretch out pretty far.
Philips SBC HP830

And before I forget to mention it, I also picked up Warhammer 40000: Firewarrior (which doesn’t seem to have a mobygames entry) for €15,00. I’ll make a seperate blog entry for that one whenever I got to actually playing it.

…End of line.

04 April 2006

Yet another productive day

Filed under: Bargain hunting, Gamegear, Games, Handheld, Other, PC, Retro — zhooibaal @ 20:34000000

As the title sais, this day has been pretty productive. Allthough not much could be done at work, but a few things have happened today so that I can call this day a good one:

  1. new, working, Gamegear arrived
  2. and it came with 3 games
  3. Installed some extra fans in my pc, because it was overheating

As you can see, not too much did happen, but the things that did happen made me really happy.

New Gamegear

Like many of you allready know, the Sega Gamegear I have is pretty screwed up. Someone wanted to buy it for parts, but he never showed up, so I’m still stuck with it.
But now, just today, a replacement arrived and that one is working splendidly. It doesn’t have a crappy new brightnessdial, no tear on the screen and the sound works.
Sega Gamegear

Aside from a few scratches on the screen it’s in a perfect condition. Now I can finally start playing the few games I have for it and on top of that the device came with 3 additional games:

  1. Alien 3
  2. Columns
  3. Sonic the Hedgehog 1

Alien 3ColumnsSonic the Hedgehog 2

I have only tested the device with the Sonic 2 cartridge and from that I can conclude that the device is indeed in a near perfect condition, except for the few scratches and that I quite like Sonic allthough I’m not at all good at it.
I haven’t played the other 2 and neither have I tried my other 2 games (Wonderboy 3 and Ninja Gaiden 2) on it.

As you all know, Sonic 2 is a platform game and so is Alien 3. Columns is a tetris style game. I can’t say too much about any of the games I own for that system yet, because I’ve hardly played any, but if you want to know whether I think they’re any fun, check the videogames page after some time. I will play them all and add a proper rating to either sometime in the near future.

The cooling chronicles

A few days ago I posted a blog entry about the fact that I got 2 extra harddisks. I was all like *YAY!*, but after a little while I couldn’t conclude anything else than that the 4 harddisks were placed wrongly and were causing the system to overheat.

So now, what did I do to resolve this issue? Well, firstly I disconnected all of the harddisks and removed them from the case, then I removed all the IDE cables and the videocard.
Yes, I also removed the videocard, just to open up some space to work, because those things are huge.

So then I looked at which one was jumpered as master and which one as slave, then I put my first harddisk (primary master) in the bottom bay, left one open, put the primary slave in the next bay, left one open, put the secondary master in the next bay, left another one open and ended up putting the secondary slave in the floppybay. I don’t have a floppydrive anyway, so that doesn’t matter at all.

After doing that I reconnected all IDE cables. The long blue one for my CD writer and DVD player to my PCI IDE controller, the long yellow one for the harddisks on the secondary IDE connector on my motherboard and the short black one to my primary IDE connector on my motherboard to the bottom 2 harddisks.
After that I reconnected the power cables and wrapped them all nicely together to improve airflow.

And last but not least, I added 2 80mm casefans and concluded that 1 of the 2 that were allready installed wasn’t connected and that I didn’t have enough connectors to connect them all. So I hardwired those 3 together and connected it on 1 power cable and it works perfectly and now I no longer have any overheating problems, just a PC that is very, VERY noisy. But I don’t mind that, it used to be that noisy before I replaced the case, so now it’s just back to normal.
Slashdev 01Slashdev 02Slashdev 03Slashdev 04Slashdev 05
These pictures are also on the page for SlashDev which I have also updated to meet the current harddisk configuration.

…End of line.

29 March 2006

Extra HDDs and Thrustmaster Fragmaster

Filed under: Bargain hunting, Non game, PC, PC gaming hardware, Retro — zhooibaal @ 20:39000000

It has allready been a couple of days ago, but haven’t felt like creating a blog entry on this before.

Harddisks

I have bought and additional 250GB IDE harddisk and have swapped my old CPU (Athlon XP 2600+) for another 120GB IDE harddisk and a PCI Ultra ATA133 controller. Giving me a total of 790GB of harddisk space *grins*.

As you probably all know, the total amount of space on a harddisk is always lower than the amount printed on it. So effectively I now have 742,21GB of total harddisk space. But even this fact is argueable. You see, the amount of GBs on a harddisk is calculated differently by the harddisk manufacturers than by Windows (or Mac OSX or Linux or Solaris or Beos or whatever OS…). It goes in a way like this:

1000B = 1KB
1000KB = 1MB
1000MB = 1GB

But any OS will calculate it like this:

1024B = 1KB
1024KB = 1MB
1024MB = 1GB

So, this way it will always seem like the actual amount of space is lower than promised, let’s take a 120GB harddisk as an example:

Total capicity given by Windows: 114,49GB
Total capicity as printed on the label: 120GB
114,49GB x 1024^3 = 122932701429,76B
122932701429,76B / 1000^3 = 122,93270142976GB

As you can see the capicity in “normal human terms” really is 120GB, it’s even a bit over that. Allthough I personally find this approach quite a bit misleading, the user will always see what the OS gives him, but it is the way they do it and there is nothing we can do about it.
So if you want to know how much space the disk you are going to buy really has, this is the way to find out.

Fragmaster

Another thing I bought is a Thrustmaster Fragmaster for a lousy €6,00 and that is maybe the strangest joystick I’ve ever seen. If even I can call it a joystick. I mean, it doesn’t even really look like a joystick. it has 2 handles directly attached to eachother and mounted on a single swivel like construction. It has 4 axis:

  1. X
  2. Y
  3. Rudder
  4. Throttle

The X-axis and Y-axis are used by moving the entire handle construction over the base platform, simply “sliding” it around. The rudder is used by turning the handle to the left or to the right and the throttle is used by moving the handle forward and backward like you would with a normal joystick.
I have no idea yet if this contraption is actually a good gamecontroller as I haven’t yet been able to get it to work with any game, but the testing tool shows me that it *is* functioning correctly and it seems to be very responsive and I must say that the handles are quite comfortable and the whole thing is easy to move around.

It has a total of 10 buttons: 4 triggers (2 on each side) and 3 buttons on top of each handle.
Unfortunatly it only has a gameport connector and my main pc (Slash Dev) has none of those, but my old pc (stoomketel) has one and there aren’t any Windows XP drivers for it anyway, so I’ll leave it connected to stoomketel for the time being.

There isn’t much more to tell about it right now, so here are some pics:
Thrustmaster Fragmaster 1Thrustmaster Fragmaster 2

…End of line.

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