S/W: Flash Player V10.3.183.7 Update

"Adobe® Flash® Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems. Flash Player 10.3 delivers beautiful HD video, faster graphics rendering, and high performance on mobile devices and personal computers and is designed to take advantage of native device capabilities -- enabling richer, more immersive user experiences."

Flash Player has monopolized this arena of delivering high quality digital content for ages now. By far, the closest thing to a challenge to Flash Player is DivX HiQ Web Player but that is only for video playback. It remains and will remain in the limelight for the next few years.

Lately, Flash Player has penetrated the mobile arena and has full support for mobile devices especially Android.

Adobe Flash Player

Features.
  • Immersive experiences with Flash video, content and applications with full-screen mode.
  • Low-bandwidth, high-quality video with advanced compression technology.
  • High-fidelity text using the advanced text rendering engine.
  • Real-time dynamic effects with filters for Blur, DropShadow, Glow, Bevel, Gradient Glow, Gradient Bevel, Displacement Map, Convolution, and Color Matrix.
  • Innovative media compositions with 8-bit video alpha channels.
  • Blend modes, radial gradient, and stroke enhancements.
  • Additional image formats: GIF, Progressive JPEG, and PNG.

Changelog:
Addresses compatibility issues:
  • Calls to gotoAndPlay() and gotoAndStop() no longer fail in some Flash applications which load shared libraries.
  • TextField instances which specify a negative offset (x property contains a negative value) now correctly flow the text horizontally instead of vertically.
  • Improved performance in some cases when displaying complex animations.
  • MSI versions of the Flash Player Installer now properly install the Native Settings Manager control panel on Windows.
  • Flash applications at certain websites (http://www.justin.tv, http://heylenmichel.de) now load correctly.
Flash player has always been criticized by its flagrant use of resources especially on the processor. The only other downside to Flash Player is the consistent scrutiny of the security holes it features. Nevertheless, it is always a tradeoff between functionality and security.

(Logos are copyrights of their respective owners.)

Download from www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer.

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S/W: Piriform CCleaner V3.10.1525 Update

"CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download." This statement you can see on the Piriform CCleaner website. CCleaner as it is now known used to be Crap Cleaner. The name makes sense as it cleans crap out of your computer.
Features. CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!

Ccleaner V3.9.1493 Update

Changelog.
  • Added Firefox 7.0 Beta support.
  • Added Firefox 6.0 Final support.
  • Added IE 9.0.2 support.
  • Added Safari 5.1 binarycookies file cleaning and management.
  • Added cleaning for MS Search, Cached Fonts, RegEditX, SpeedBit DAP, Spyware Terminator, SUPERAntiSpyware, Acrobat Distiller 10 and Foxit Reader 5.0.
  • Improved cleaning for Internet Download Accelerator.
  • Improved Opera 9 Last Download Location cleaning.
  • Improved accuracy and reliability for free space and entire drive wiping.
  • Improved Safari local storage cleaning.
  • Improved Google Chrome "Saved Form Information" and "Saved Passwords" cleaning.
  • Updated various translations.
  • Minor optimization tweaks.

(Logos are copyrighted by their respective owners.)

Download from www.piriform.com/ccleaner

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TIP: Give Windows a Regular Maintenance Routine

It is true, Windows implementation of its registry and and its filesystem will leave you literally fragmented after running for a while. This is where Windows lags from other OS big time. For me re-installing is not an option and I'm quite positive the same goes for you. Re-installing is a big no, no.. so how do you perform a clean-up of the system with confidence that you won't be ruining things rather than make it better?

I use CCleaner to clean-up the registry and clean-up the filesystem. CCleaner identifies the crap and cleans it. That is why it is a required tool for me. The next one that helps root out crap on the PC, is Windows' very own Disk Cleanup.

Purging via CCleaner. CCleaner (Crap Cleaner) is very robust in itself. But it can further be enhanced. Further functionality can be added to CCleaner with the CCEnhancer.

CCEnhancer can further extend the functionality of CCleaner to clean-up more applications. Below is a screenshot of CCleaner extended with CCEnhancer.

Give Windows a Regular Maintenance Routine

From the above, just select the applications that need clean-up and hit "Run Cleaner". If you want to review or preview the details of the clean-up, you can "Analyze" first and "Run Cleaner" later.

Disk Cleanup. There are other software CCleaner will not touch. And the Disk Cleanup utility can purge it. What's more Disk Cleanup can be run in Automated-Mode. Here's how you set it up.

Launch the disk cleanup and configure it for automation. You do this via the Run command window. Start -> Run.. "cleanmgr /sageset:11" (11 can be any number you want, as long as it is easy to remember). You then get a window that looks like the screenshot below. I usually tick everything in it.

Give Windows a Regular Maintenance Routine

To automate the setting, you can run cleanmgr like this: "cleanmgr /sagerun:11" (11 here is the number you set from the argument /sageset above). Launch the Task Scheduler > "Create a Basic Task" > Give it a Task Name. Click Next.

Trigger, could be monthly or weekly depending on how frequent you want the cleanup to run. I set mine to run monthly, every 15th of the month. Action is to start a program "cleanmgr.exe" and argument is "/sagerun:11".

Accept by clicking ok. And as scheduled, the cleanup will run when the schedule triggers it to. It is also automated, which makes life hassle-free once you set it up the first time.

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FAQ: Path Errors on AIX ODM Commands

"There’s No Such Thing As A Silly Question" -- does the cliche sound familiar? In this part of pimp-my-rig reloaded, technical questions are answered. Mail them to me and I will post the answers here. If you have a better answer, by all means share it with us.

Q. I was working on an AIX host when I encountered weird errors when invoking commands involving the ODM (short for Object Data Manager). The errors I encountered are below.
[email protected] > bootlist -m normal -o
-
-
[email protected] > bootlist -m normal hdisk0 hdisk2
0514-209 bootlist: Was not able to access the CuDv object class
[email protected] > bootlist -m normal hdisk0
0514-209 bootlist: Was not able to access the CuDv object class
[email protected] > odmget -q attribute=TCB_STATE PdAt 
0518-506 odmget: Cannot open object class PdAt
Check path name and permissions.
[email protected] > rmlv dump02
0518-506 odmget: Cannot open object class PdAt
Check path name and permissions.
Warning, all data contained on logical volume dump02 will be destroyed.
rmlv: Do you wish to continue? y(es) n(o)? y
0518-506 odmget: Cannot open object class SWservAt
Check path name and permissions.

A. To get a background of what ODM is, AIX stores most of the system management information in /etc/objrepos, /usr/lib/objrepos, and /usr/share/lib/objrepos. Files (also referred to as system object classes) in these directories are adminstered by the Object Database Manager which is a set of library routines and programs providing basic object oriented database facilities.

Any changes you make to the configuration reflects or directly changes files on the ODM. Under most circumstances, only SMIT or the commands SMIT call should be used to change the contents of the system object classes. A harmless way to look at the object database is to use odmget <Class> where <Class> is one of the files in /etc/objrepos.

So after taking a look at the environment and checking that the environment ODMDIR correctly points to /etc/objrepos, we got to a dead-end.
[email protected] > echo $ODMDIR
ODMDIR=/etc/objrepos

To the rescue is a colleague who is very well versed with AIX. In fact, I consider him a guru in AIX. His suggestion was to try excuting the above commands under the /etc/objrepos directory and see if the errors would go away. And we hit paydirt!
[email protected] > cd /etc/objrepos
[email protected] > bootlist -m normal -p o
hdisk0 blv=hd5
hdisk2 blv=hd5
[email protected] > bootlist -m normal hdisk0
[email protected] > savebase
[email protected] > bootlist -m normal -o
hdisk0 blv=hd5

The above is a simple workaround to what may seem to be a big problem. Change directory first to /etc/objrepos then execute the commands.

If you have a permanent solution to the problem, share it with us.

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TIP: Rename TV Series Files with theRenamer

We have featured a few tweaks here and there regarding transmission bittorrent client (or transmissionbt as others call it) -- queuing torrents, blackhole directory and adding torrents paused. It can download just about anything you throw at it, that you are only virtually limited by your internet bandwidth and the free disk space on your device. Not only that, transmissionbt is extremely lightweight and could run on a device running linux. As you probably notice, I run my transmissionbt from a Popcorn Hour C-200 network media jukebox.

However, given all the downloads, it is difficult to track them down without a good naming convention. This is true especially in the case of TV series. Files would not be named aptly and renaming them is quite tedious. It might seem a simple task for a few files, but just imagine having to do that in one season.. Now imagine several seasons.. And several TV series(es)!

Not to worry though. As there are tools made and specifically designed for this job. Meet theRenamer. It can do the googling for you, it will identify the series based on the filenames, and rename them appropriately in one sweep. It can even add the episode title! All you have to do is drag the files to the application window and check if the program got the name and title right. If it did, just click proceed and you're done. Just so you get the picture here is how it's done.

[1] Download theRenamer from its website. Once done, install it. For this feature, here is what a collection looks like prior to using theRenamer.

Rename TV Series Files with theRenamer

[2] Launch the program. And configure it to your liking. Click on the wrench on the upper right side of the application window. What is important to set here are the separators (or the naming convention). I set mine to "space-dash-space" or " - ".

Rename TV Series Files with theRenamer

[3] Once the config is set, try it on a file and check the result. Drag a file to the application window and you will be presented with a preview of what the new filename will become.

Rename TV Series Files with theRenamer

[4] Click the proceed button at the bottom right and watch the program do its magic. It will then rename the file(s) dragged to the application window. Here's how the collection looks like afterward.

Rename TV Series Files with theRenamer

That wasn't too hard now, was it? You could rename a few TV series in a matter of minutes rather than spend hours sorting them to your liking. Let theRenamer do it for you.

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TWEAK: Transmission Blackhole Directory

Now that our transmission torrent client has queuing capabilities, how about adding a few more tweaks on the side. This post aims to add a couple more tweaks to those who want to modify the behavior of the transmission torrent client, namely [1] add torrents paused and [2] watch or monitor a "blackhole" directory. Of course, these tweaks are applicable to the transmission torrent client in general, but this feature is purposed for the Popcorn Hour C-200 Network Media Jukebox (PCH-C200).

The tweaks above are dependent on having the LTU 0.76 package installed via CSI and (optional) queuing of torrents. Instead of the LTU package, you may substitute it with another version of transmission from CSI. And although optional, this tweak works best with transmission queuing script.

Add .torrent(s) paused. By default, torrents are started as they are added. You can, however, override this behavior. You can add the directive "start-added-torrents" and give this a value of "false". Locate settings.json for transmission. This is usually inside your home directory under a folder .transmission.

On the PCH-C200, this depends on the version of transmission but if you are running version 2.33 that came with the LTU 0.76 package it is located on the path /share/.transmission. Stop the transmission torrent client first, then edit the file settings.json.

Add this line:
"start-added-torrents" : false
Blackhole directory. If you have automated scripts that download torrents, you will want transmission to automatically download those torrents. The way for transmission to do that is to monitor a directory. In transmission lingo, the term used to refer to this directory is the "blackhole" directory.

The directive "watch-dir" points the transmission torrent client to watch which directory. Mix this with "watch-dir-enabled" and give it a value of "true". When these directives are present, transmission will watch and monitor the directory for .torrent files.

Again on the PCH-C200, this depends on the version of transmission but if you are running version 2.33 that came with the LTU 0.76 package it is located on the path /share/.transmission. Stop the transmission torrent client first, then edit the file settings.json.

Add these lines:
"watch-dir": "/share/.transmission/blackhole",
"watch-dir-enabled": true
The directory /share/.transmission/blackhole can be another directory of your liking. It is just easier and less complex to put transmission related files under one folder. Also, this directory does not exist by default, so it needs to be created.

After making the changes above, you may start transmission torrent client. You will know that the above tweaks work when you list the contents of the blackhole directory. The .torrent files that have been downloaded or copied there are now renamed .torrent.added. And when you check the transmission via its transmission-remote binary or its web interface, the newly added torrents are queued (paused).

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INFO: Apple CEO Steve Jobs Resigns

This news doesn't seem to be a hoax.. Just in from Business Wire, a letter from Steve Jobs -- co-founder of Apple.

(image courtesy of wikipedia.org)

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve

Confirmation details to follow. I'm sure this will be all over the net in a few hours.

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INFO: Software Piracy Infographic

Software piracy is rampant. That information is known, but just how rampant? There are more than a billion people who have used pirated software in one way or another, for some without them even knowing about it.

But how did it come about? Do torrents have a big role in this? How about usenet users? What is the most downloaded application? Answers to these questions are given by an infographic by Starmedia.

Click on image below for better view. (credits to Starmedia.ca)
Software Piracy Infographic

This is by far the shocking data: Software revenue lost in a day US$ 18,670,310!

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HOW-TO: Build an Ultimate Boot USB

Disaster strikes when you least expect it. It can range from a simple boot block corruption to a completely unbootable system, and even worse a virus infection. It is vital that you are able to correctly diagnose the problem with a few recovery tools at your disposal. This is where the Ultimate Boot CD (or UBCD) and the My7PE come in very handy.

So whether you are using My7PE or UBCD, and have an ISO it is still useless without an optical drive to use. But what's handy is a USB flash drive. It is notably faster than a CD or DVD drive. And it is cheap and just about every computer out there comes with a USB port. While the optical disc is not that expensive, not every PC or notebook comes with it by default. And for the price of an optical drive, you can buy a bigger capacity USB flash drive. Practical, economical and handy.

You can choose to build My7PE or download the Ultimate Boot CD for this project. Then you can use the Universal USB installer to transfer the contents of the ISO to a USB drive.

My7PE. It is a bit difficult to obtain the latest script to build a My7PE nowadays. But if you have a resource where you can obtain the latest version, share it with us. As of this writing I'm not sure whether the version I have is the latest one but when used, the ISO it builds still works.

Use the script to build the ISO and remember to note its location. The ISO is very important in the later part of the build. You will need to point the Universal USB Installer to where the ISO is located (like below).

Build an Ultimate Boot USB

This USB Installer can also create a Windows 7 installer on USB. So this tool can be used in conjunction with our previous tutorial on making a USB Windows 7 Installer.

Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD). UBCD has an assortment of tools to diagnose problems with your computer. You can further customize this to suit your own needs. The UBCD website has a very good tutorial in customizing UBCD.

Then build the ISO and use it with the Universal USB Installer. Or you may just choose to use the original version which can be obtained here. Remember to set the dropdown menu (step#1) to "Ultimate Boot CD".

Build an Ultimate Boot USB

You just transformed the Ultimate Boot CD to become the Ultimate Boot USB.

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HOW-TO: Force Addon Compatibility with Firefox (again)

The fast release of Firefox major versions every six (6) or so weeks means add-ons have to keep pace with Firefox. What's more? Security fixes will be the reason for every major release. So if you wish to remain on the previous versions, you will be stuck with an insecure browser. You wouldn't want that would you?

Previously posted at pimp-my-rig is a tutorial to force add-on compatibility with Firefox. It still works. For third party add-ons that are installed via Program Files, like DivX, here is another tweak to force compatibility with Firefox. We tested it on Firefox 6.0 and it works just as well.

All those works, why post another procedure? Well, as the saying goes "there are a thousand ways to kill a cat" -- so does this tweak. With the release of Firefox 6.0, most addons will not be compatible. The above tweaks work for a variety of addons, here is another way to force compatibility check.

Open an Explorer window and browse to "%appdata%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles" (this is the default directory containing your Firefox user profile). Inside this directory will be another folder named xxxxxxxx.default (xxxxxxx is a string that will differ from computer to computer); and inside this is the extensions folder, which is the directory that contains the extensions or addons you have installed (refer to screenshot below).

Force Addon Compatibility Firefox

WinRAR can open those XPI files in the extensions folder. Once opened, you can edit the install.rdf files inside the archive.

Force Addon Compatibility Firefox

Just look for the string "<em:maxVersion>" and/or "</em:maxVersion>". Enclosed in these XML tags is the maximum version of Firefox that is compatible. Change it to "6.*" or "7.*" as you wish. Then save the file and update the XPI archive.

Restart Firefox and test the functionality of the addon. As of this writing, downloadthemall is tested to work using this tweak on Firefox 6.0.

So if you need the functionality of your addon try this out.

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S/W: Mozilla Firefox 6.0 Update

Firefox is the award winning next generation browser from Mozilla. Firefox empowers you to browse faster, more safely, and more efficiently than with any other browser. Make the switch today - Firefox imports your Favorites, settings and other information, so you have nothing to lose. Stop annoying popup ads in their tracks with Firefox's built in popup blocker. View more than one web page in a single window with this time saving feature. Open links in the background so that they're ready for viewing when you're ready to read them. Built with your security in mind, Firefox keeps your computer safe from malicious spyware by not loading harmful ActiveX controls. A comprehensive set of privacy tools keep your online activity your business.

Firefox 5.0.1 update was released just recently. But with Firefox rapid release process, Firefox versions will be released about every six (6) weeks. These major releases will include and feature security fixes. So if you don't want to lag behind and maintain an insecure browser, you would have to upgrade.

Mozilla Firefox 5

  • The address bar now highlights the domain of the website you're visiting
  • Streamlined the look of the site identity block
  • Added support for the latest draft version of WebSockets with a prefixed API
  • Added support for EventSource / server-sent events
  • Added support for window.matchMedia
  • Added Scratchpad, an interactive JavaScript prototyping environment
  • Added a new Web Developer menu item and moved development-related items into it
  • Improved usability of the Web Console
  • Improved the discoverability of Firefox Sync
  • Reduced browser startup time when using Panorama

(Logos are copyrights of their respective owners.)

Download from www.mozilla.com/firefox.

One very nice feature with Firefox that we like is the plugin checker. It is nice to see the feature was not removed in this verison.

Of course this upgrade comes with sacrifices -- your add-ons will no longer be compatible. So while waiting for the add-ons to catch up with Firefox version 6.0 or higher, you can tweak them to be compatible. Chances are they will still work even with the newer versions of Mozilla Firefox.

If you are using DivX HiQ to play high definition video on Firefox, our feature outlining compatibility of Firefox with DivX web plug-ins still works on Firefox 6.0.

Not much memory improvement with this version. We hear it will be incorporated in version 7+, so that is something to look forward to.


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S/W: Flash Player V10.3.183.5 Update

"Adobe® Flash® Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems. Flash Player 10.3 delivers beautiful HD video, faster graphics rendering, and high performance on mobile devices and personal computers and is designed to take advantage of native device capabilities -- enabling richer, more immersive user experiences."

Flash Player has monopolized this arena of delivering high quality digital content for ages now. By far, the closest thing to a challenge to Flash Player is DivX HiQ Web Player but that is only for video playback. It remains and will remain in the limelight for the next few years.

Lately, Flash Player has penetrated the mobile arena and has full support for mobile devices especially Android.

Flash Player V10.3.183.5 Update

Features.
  • Immersive experiences with Flash video, content and applications with full-screen mode.
  • Low-bandwidth, high-quality video with advanced compression technology.
  • High-fidelity text using the advanced text rendering engine.
  • Real-time dynamic effects with filters for Blur, DropShadow, Glow, Bevel, Gradient Glow, Gradient Bevel, Displacement Map, Convolution, and Color Matrix.
  • Innovative media compositions with 8-bit video alpha channels.
  • Blend modes, radial gradient, and stroke enhancements.
  • Additional image formats: GIF, Progressive JPEG, and PNG.

Flash player has always been criticized by its flagrant use of resources especially on the processor. The only other downside to Flash Player is the consistent scrutiny of the security holes it features. Nevertheless, it is always a tradeoff between functionality and security.

(Logos are copyrights of their respective owners.)

Download from www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer.


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S/W: Piriform CCleaner V3.9.1493 Update

"CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download." This statement you can see on the Piriform CCleaner website. CCleaner as it is now known used to be Crap Cleaner. The name makes sense as it cleans crap out of your computer.
Features. CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!

Ccleaner V3.9.1493 Update

Changelog.
  • Added Firefox 6.0 beta support.
  • Added HTML5 Offline cache cleaning and management for Firefox.
  • Added wildcard support to folders.
  • (i.e. "Include1=PATH|%AppData%\*\|*.txt|RECURSE" or FileKey1=%AppData%\?*e|*.txt|RECURSE)
  • Added convertion of custom file entry to folder when using wildcard.
  • Added cleaning for Zune, BreezeBrowser Pro, FastStone Image Viewer, Notepad++ and NoteXpad.
  • Improved cleaning for Real Player.
  • Improved Chrome Saved Form Information and Saved Passwords cleaning.
  • Improved Enabling/Disabling StartUp items.
  • Improved icons detection for Uninstall screen.
  • Improved drag-and-drop functionality for Include/Exclude screen.
  • Improved localization support.
  • Improved StartUp items discovery.
  • Improved memory handling and garbage collection.
  • Minor UI tweaks.

(Logos are copyrights of their respective owners.)

Download from www.piriform.com/ccleaner


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REVIEW: Western Digital WD6402AAEX Black Performance

There seems to be three (3) existing Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black drives -- the current WD6402AAEX, the WD6401AALS, and the WD6400AAKS. The only available ones in the market are the WD6402AAEX and the WD6401AALS. The oldest WD6400AAKS seems to have been discontinued.

The WD6402AAEX has a price premium compared to its sibling WD6401AALS. And we previously reviewed the WD6401AALS and found the results to be a little disappointing. Although the real world performance should not be impacted much, it is still a bit dismal. You would expect a bit more from the dual processor technology that Western Digital introduced starting with the WD6401AALS. Benchmarks and reviews are influential in consumers buying decisions.

So here we are with the WD6402AAEX. Let's see if the trend is broken by this drive. It has the same spec as the WD6401AALS only that it has double the cache at 64MB and has the third generation SATA 6GB/s technology.

Western Digital WD6402AAEX Black Performance

It seems Western Digital did it right with the WD6402AAEX. From synthetic benchmark of HD Tune above, it is bounds and leaps faster than the WD6401AALS. Seems the cache plays a big impact on the drive. Doubling the cache has a very profound effect on performance.

Thanks to its new generation controller, the burst speed of the drive broke the SATA 3GB/s speed (theoretically 150MB/s). HD tune measured burst speed at 153MB/s transfer speed.

On average, the WD6402AAEX is faster by more than 20MB/s than the WD6401AALS. Now that's performance!

The WD6402AAEX impressed us a lot that we bought another drive and made a RAID0 (stripe). Here's how that 2-disk WD6402AAEX stripe performed.

Western Digital WD6402AAEX Black Performance

It seems the 640GB Caviar Black is cache hungry. Not much difference on the areal density between these drives, so it must be the cache. And as it seems, the cache hit it big time. I wonder then if mainstream desktop drives will ever be given a generous 128MB of cache.

Acknowledgments, again, to my good friend Xavier Zulueta of OCXPH for testing the WD6402AAEX for me.

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REVIEW: Western Digital WD6401AALS Black Performance

Technology has taken the fast lane, even in the computing world -- more cores, more cache, more pinouts. But nothing seems to have changed much in the storage arena. And this is the bottleneck of performance. Today we test the Western Digital WD640AALS Caviar Black. It seems to be a beefed-up version of its sibling the WD6400AAKS Caviar Black.

While both are 640GB in usable size, platter areal density has improved -- the WD6400AAKS has 3 platters while the WD6401AALS has 2; and in terms of cache WD6401AALS has double that of WD6400AAKS at 32MB. On paper we see that the WD6401AALS has the advantages over the WD6400AAKS. But with those improvements, how much difference does it make? Or did we make a wrong presumption altogether?

Just like before, we ran HD Tune to test out the performance.

Western Digital WD6401AALS Black Performance

We were surprised by the results. The WD6401AALS results is slower than that of the WD6400AAKS. We didn't see the impact of added cache and increased areal density here.

Other variables could also play big factors here. The rig used to test the WD6401AALS is a quad-core Q9550, while on the WD6400AAKS its a dual-core E6600 Conroe. Also the versions of the software could be a factor. But still the lower results for the WD6401AALS came as a surprise.

A few questions come out of this test, is the 32MB cache equipped with slower memory chips? Is the PRO version of HD Tune benchmarking disks better than the free version? Does the cache memory chip speed influence hard drive speed that much? Is it the firmware perhaps? These questions we will find an answer for in future reviews.

I could no longer test the WD6401AALS with the old set-up as I gave that rig away after an upgrade a long time ago.. And I could no longer get my hands on another WD6400AAKS for a thorough comparison. Regardless of the outcome, I'd still recommend going for WD6401AALS. This drive will pimp your rig!

Acknowledgments, again, to my good friend Xavier Zulueta of OCXPH for testing the WD6401AALS for me.

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FAQ: Error with Update on Attach of Solaris Zone

"There’s No Such Thing As A Silly Question" -- does the cliche sound familiar? In this part of pimp-my-rig reloaded, technical questions are answered. Mail them to me and I will post the answers here. If you have a better answer, by all means share it with us.

Q. A fellow sysad phoned me a couple of days ago to ask if I experienced patching Solaris zones. When he was attaching the local zones to the global zone he got errors. As advised, he detached the local zones from the global zone before patching. This is what I used to call the detach-patch-attach method in patching Solaris hosts with zones. He was indeed very fortunate that I experienced this same error before and below is how we resolved his issue. Just to give a brief background, the error he got when attaching the local zones was:

[email protected]> zoneadm -z vhost1 attach -u
zoneadm: zone 'vhost1': ERROR: attempt to downgrade package SUNWlur, the source had patch 121430-25 but this system only has 121430-14
zoneadm: zone 'vhost1': ERROR: attempt to downgrade package SUNWluu, the source had patch 121430-25 but this system only has 121430-14
...
(other output truncated)
...

The above scenario happened after he detached the zones from the global zone (zoneadm -z vhost1 detach), then he applied the latest bundle patch for Solaris 10 (in single-user mode). After reboot, he allowed the server to boot to full multi-user mode.

And when he attached the zones with the update flag (zoneadm -z vhost1 attach -u), boom.. Errors!

A. This scenario happened because the package SUNWlur and SUNWluu (packages for Solaris LiveUpgrade) do not get patched by the Solaris patch bundle. Instead it has its own "special" set of patches. And unfortunately for him, the local zones have a more updated patch for LiveUpgrade than the global zone. Thus the attach with update failed.

I got the solution to the problem from a now non-existent forum -- this link. Too bad, that very informative thread has been removed. But I was glad to have gleaned something from it before it was expunged.

The solution is to append the patch IDs of every SUNWlur and SUNWluu package that would fail when trying to attach the local zones.
[email protected]> echo 121430 >> /usr/lib/brand/native/bad_patches
[email protected]> tail /usr/lib/brand/native/bad_patches
...
...
121430

After adding every patch ID entry for "special" patches required by LiveUpgrade, the local zones attach with update was successful.
[email protected]> zoneadm -z vhost1 attach -u
Getting the list of files to remove
Removing 1568 files
Remove 13 of 13 packages
Installing 18014 files
Add 340 of 340 packages
Updating editable files The file </var/sadm/system/logs/update_log> within the zone contains a log of the zone update.

As seen above, the local zone attached and was updated. It booted with the same kernel as the global zone and the had same patch levels. The other zones attached without errors after performing this procedure.

There are other packages that would fail when doing the upgrade on attach, not just packages for Solaris LiveUpgrade. The other ones that I know of are SUNWvts and SUNWvtss. There are others still. And this same solution is applicable to them.

I was surprised to see that the forum where this solution was shared no longer exists. It contained a wealth of information, and it will probably make the job of new sysads a bit toughter without those shared knowledge and other threads on that forum.

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MODS: Queuing with Transmission BitTorrent Client

If you followed our previous article in adding a telnet utility to your Popcorn Hour C-200 and installed LTU 0.76, you also upgraded the Transmission torrent client in the process. The latest bittorrent client, Transmission 2.33, is packaged with the LTU 0.76. This is one of the strengths of having a custom package installed on the C-200. One thing to note though is that if you installed BusyBox 1.4.1 on the C-200, it conflicts with LTU 0.76. So better to uninstall BusyBox and retain LTU instead.

Having a telnet shell to the Popcorn Hour C-200 is very powerful. Here is a demonstration of how powerful and flexible having a shell access to the C-200 really is -- queuing with the transmission torrent client. The transmission bittorrent client doesn't have this feature by default, but that doesn't mean we can't do anything about it. Here's a script you can put on your C-200 that controls queuing of Transmission torrents.

#!/bin/sh

# *************
# Configuration
REMOTE="/nmt/apps/bin/transmission-remote"
USERNAME="nmt"
PASSWORD="1234"
MAXDOWN=2
MAXACTIVE=5
CONFIG="/share/.transmission/settings.json"

# *************
# Set-up variables
CMD="$REMOTE --auth $USERNAME:$PASSWORD"
MAXRATIO=$(cat $CONFIG | grep \"ratio-limit\":)
MAXRATIO=${MAXRATIO#*\"ratio-limit\": }
MAXRATIO=${MAXRATIO%*, }

# *************
# deal with downloads
DOWNACTIVE="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep -v 100% | grep -v Sum | grep -v Stopped | grep -v Verifying | grep -v Will\ Verify | wc -l)"
if [ $MAXDOWN -lt $DOWNACTIVE ]; then
    DOWNTOSTOP="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep -v 100% | grep -v Sum | grep -v Stopped | grep -v Verifying | grep -v Will\ Verify | tail -n $(expr $DOWNACTIVE - $MAXDOWN) | awk '{ print $1; }')"
    for ID in $DOWNTOSTOP; do
        NAME="$($CMD --torrent $ID --info | grep Name:)"
        $CMD --torrent $ID --stop >> /dev/null 2>&1
    done
else
    [ $(expr $MAXDOWN - $DOWNACTIVE) -gt 0 ] && (
    DOWNINACTIVE="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep -v 100% | grep Stopped | wc -l)"
    [ $DOWNINACTIVE -gt 0 ] && (
        DOWNTOSTART="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep -v 100% | grep Stopped | head -n $(expr $MAXDOWN - $DOWNACTIVE) | awk '{ print $1; }')"
        for ID in $DOWNTOSTART; do
            NAME="$($CMD --torrent $ID --info | grep Name:)"
            $CMD --torrent $ID --start >> /dev/null 2>&1
        done
        )
    )
fi
# Then deal with total active
ACTIVE="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep -v Sum | grep -v Stopped | grep -v Verifying | grep -v Will\ Verify | wc -l)"
if [ $MAXACTIVE -lt $ACTIVE ]; then
    TOSTOP="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep 100% | grep -v Stopped | grep -v Verifying | grep -v Will\ Verify | tail -n $(expr $ACTIVE - $MAXACTIVE) | awk '{ print $1; }')"
    for ID in $TOSTOP; do
        NAME="$($CMD --torrent $ID --info | grep Name:)"
        $CMD --torrent $ID --stop >> /dev/null 2>&1
    done
else
    [ $(expr $MAXACTIVE - $ACTIVE) -gt 0 ] && (
    SEEDINACTIVE="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep 100% | grep Stopped | awk -v ratio=$MAXRATIO '{ if (substr($0,52,4) < ratio) print $0 ;}' | wc -l)"
    [ $SEEDINACTIVE -gt 0 ] && (
        TOSTART="$($CMD -l | tail -n +2 | grep 100% | grep Stopped | awk -v ratio=$MAXRATIO '{ if (substr($0,52,4) < ratio) print $0 ;}' | head -n $(expr $MAXACTIVE - $ACTIVE) | awk '{ print $1; }')"
        for ID in $TOSTART; do
            NAME="$($CMD --torrent $ID --info | grep Name:)"
            $CMD --torrent $ID --start >> /dev/null 2>&1
        done
        )
    )

On the above script, change the values for USERNAME, PASSWORD, MAXDOWN and MAXACTIVE. The script above contains the default values for the C-200. I tested the above script to work on my C-200. It will work on another 200 series Popcorn Hour too. A friend has tested it on his A-210 as well, and his feedback is good.

The script is working but how do you automate this? Linux just has the answer in cron. The script can be manually put in cron but the issue is, when the C-200 is rebooted, the entries get wiped out.

This is how to automate the queuing on the Transmission torrent client on the C-200. Edit the file /share/Apps/LTU/appinfo.json. Add the line:
crontab="*/5 * * * * /PATH/TO/torrent-queue.sh"

Verify that your crontab has entries above by rebooting the C-200 and check with "crontab -l". That's it folks, queuing working with the Transmission BT client. Now, imagine trying to do the same without shell access to your Popcorn Hour.

Credits: The original script was taken from http://pastie.org/632212. It was then adapted to work with the Popcorn Hour C-200.

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MODS: Another Telnet Utility on the Popcorn Hour C-200

Previously we installed BusyBox on the Popcorn Hour C-200 (PCH-C200). Now we have telnet access to our network media jukebox (NMJ). Having shell access is important to make changes to the settings or create symbolic links, etc.

Just remember that this telnet access has absolute power (and absolute responsibility). In Linux/*nix, you're running as root or the super-user. And it can run anything, just like it can ruin everything.

BusyBox is a very useful tool. But the implementation on the PCH-C200 is very insecure. If you noticed, when you telnet to the box you are given a shell without having to type a password. Telnet is already insecure but this one pushes it off the charts.

A Russian by the name of Padavan developed an alternative telnet utility. He named this project Linux Terminal Utilities (or LTU). You can see more details of his project here -- translated via Google or the original Russian article. As of this writing the current version of his project is 0.76. And you may download the package from this link.

The package is a zip file that is CSI compatible. And this makes everything easy to install. Launch CSI and goto File > Install from File. Load the zip file and upload and install it on the C-200. Shutdown the C-200 via pressing the following in sequence -- Power > Delete. Once the power LED stops blinking, it is time to boot-up the unit via the Power button.



Once the C-200 has rebooted, telnet to it. And now it is a bit more secure as it will ask for a username and password. The default username and password are "root" and "1234". You may choose to change that default password once you have successfully logged in (the configuration is in /share/Apps/LTU/configure).


Packets transferred via telnet are still transmitted in clear text. So your password can be sniffed. You may choose to enable DropBear instead and access you C-200 via SSH this time. We will discuss that in the next article.

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TIP: Config Baseline/Snapshot with WhatChanged

When something goes wrong or when you suspect that something is wrong, it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is. Even for a seasoned system administrator, this situation can happen. Usually a scientific method followed for troubleshooting is in play but usually this method or procedure is very broad.

It is critical to establish a baseline or snapshot to compare with. And it is best to take a snapshot while the system is still healthy. One tool that can help in this is WhatChanged.

WhatChanged can take a list of files of your Windows drive and can also be configured to take a snapshot of every branch of the registry. If you suspect there is something wrong, or you got hit by a virus, compare the current state with the baseline previously taken with WhatChanged. This step can save you from a lot of time in troubleshooting what the probable cause can be. Whatever the purpose, whatchanged will list the files and registry entries that changed.

You can download WhatChanged from MajorGeeks.com or the author's website, vtaskstudio.com. It is amazing what a 96kb software can do.
WhatChanged is a system utility that scans for modified files and registry entries. It is useful for checking program installations. There are two steps for using WhatChanged:
1) First, take a snapshot to get the current state of the computer; 2) Second, run it again to check the differences since the previous snapshot.

Program interface look and feel is below.

Config Baseline/Snapshot with WhatChanged

To use it, just enumerate the drives you wish to monitor. It is recommended to put the drive where Windows is installed (usually C:). For multiple drives, just separate each drive letter with a space (e.g. C: D:). Then, tick the branches of the registry you wish to take a snapshot for baseline. For a thorough sample, tick all of the branches of the registry.

The software will then create files in the same path it resides. So make sure that the executable is stored in its own folder.

Config Baseline/Snapshot with WhatChanged

After taking a snapshot or baseline, you can backup the executable and the files it created to a USB drive or on another computer. If in the future you suspect something is wrong, just run whatchanged.exe and compare the results with the previous snapshot. More or less it should give you an idea where the problem lies or a clue where not to look (at the very least).

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INFO: Intelligence Quotient (IQ) Linked to Browser Usage

Do you use Internet Explorer (or IE) in browsing the web? IE is to browsers as Windows is to the desktop. Although many would tend to disagree with that statement, it still stands as a fact. Surprisingly, browser usage is related to your intelligence quotient, or IQ.
A Vancouver based Psychometric Consulting company, AptiQuant, has released a report on a trial it conducted to measure the effects of cognitive ability on the choice of web browser. AptiQuant offered free online IQ tests to over a 100,000 people and then plotted the average IQ scores based on the browser on which the test was taken. And the results are really not that surprising. With just a look at the graphs in the report, it comes out pretty clear that Internet Explorer users scored lower than average on the IQ tests. Chrome, Firefox and Safari users had just a teeny bit higher than average IQ scores. And users of Camino, Opera and IE with Chrome Frame had exceptionally higher IQ levels.

Internet Explorer has traditionally been considered a pain in the back for web developers. Any IT company involved in web development will acknowledge the fact that millions of man hours are wasted each year to make otherwise perfectly functional websites work in Internet Explorer, because of its lack of compatibility with web standards. The continuous use of older versions of IE by millions of people around the world has often haunted web developers. This trend not only makes their job tougher, but has also pulled back innovation by at least a decade. But with the results of this study, IT companies worldwide will start to take a new look on the time and money they spend on supporting older browsers.

Microsoft created a conspiracy with Internet Explorer’s shell integration with Windows Explorer, and making its removal complicated, if not impossible. It is usually criticized that this move was made during the last moments of Windows 95 release in a haphazard manner, just to snub the competition from Netscape Navigator. In the following years Microsoft spent millions of dollars on Internet Explorer, with the aim to dominate the browser market. It succeeded to gain a huge share of over 95% for quite a few years. But recently open source browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have taken away a large share out of Microsoft’s pie. These browsers are not only better in performance than IE, but offer better compatibility with W3C standards.

This latest report about the intelligence levels of IE users is expected to create a storm. The company behind the study, AptiQuant is a psychometric consulting company, that offers online tools to other companies to better assess their existing/potential employees based on their mental aptitude, skills, motivation and performance. It also has self-serving tools for individuals looking to identify their skills and reach their potential.

(source: http://goo.gl/FbELp)

I never really thought that a simple computer software like the browser can relate to the intelligence quotient (IQ) of an individual. What do you think?

To view the full content of the report, you can download the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage PDF file here.

IQ Linked to Browser Usage

IQ Linked to Browser Usage

(image source: http://www.aptiquant.com/IQ-Browser-AptiQuant-2011.pdf)

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FAQ: Cannot Fork: No Swap Space

"There’s No Such Thing As A Silly Question" -- does the cliche sound familiar? In this part of pimp-my-rig reloaded, technical questions are answered. Mail them to me and I will post the answers here. If you have a better answer, by all means share it with us.

There are times when you run into uncharted territory, when you least expect it. A host was failing to execute commands, giving a no swap space error even though swap space was only 9% used. Commands fails to execute but work intermitently.

This happened on an IBM server running AIX 5.3.

All of our efforts to resolve this issue failed, so we called the vendor -- IBM. The error manifests itself as:

[email protected]# uptime 
ksh: cannot fork: no swap space 
[email protected]# lsps -s 
Total Paging Space   Percent Used 
4096MB               9% 


Here is a solution to the problem as provided from IBM. It is a known issue from APAR IY89941 fixed at 5.3 TL5 (bos.mp 5.3.0.53) and above. The root cause is that you are running out of 64K pages in the VMM and there is code bug when this type of scenario occurs.

The work around is to disable 64K page size support (until upgrade to higher levels of AIX). To disable run command:

[email protected]# vmo -r -o vmm_mpsize_support=0


This change is not dynamic. A reboot is required after making this change.

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