Entries Tagged as 'Software'

FileZilla – The free FTP solution

If you have a need to transfer files via FTP, SFTP, SCP, etc and you prefer to user a graphical user interface on a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine — then the Open Source FileZilla is a very good solution to consider.

Just download the client, install it, and within a few moments you’ll have a connection to a server (that you can save the information for quick reuse if you like).  The interface is clean and easy to understand, and supports drag-and-drop as well as transfers from the multi-pane manager.

And, you can’t beat the price – FREE.

http://filezilla-project.org/

Originally posted 2011-09-13 02:00:47.

Windows Live Mail

Part of the Microsoft Live Essential software suite available either from Live.com (see link below) or through the Microsoft Update is Live Mail; a simple, fairly versatile email client.

Live Mail allows access to POP3, IMAP4, and Hot Mail / MSN Mail / Live Mail web mail.

Live Mail is a replacement for Outlook Express and Windows Mail (from Vista).

It’s nicely polished, and for the most part works without any major issues (like any software, it has bugs and annoyances).

One thing you may not like is the fact that Live Mail hides the menu bar (you can enable it; but even that seems to be made purposely difficult in the latest version).

The biggest annoyance I have with Live Mail is that it will not import an IAF (that’s an export file) created with Outlook Express or Windows Mail (thank you very much Microsoft for paying such close attention to customer needs).

If you have a Hot Mail / MSN Mail / Live Mail web mail account you will probably want to choose this product as an email client on your computer; if you don’t you may want to look at Thunderbird (part of the Mozilla project, as is Firefox).

The feature I like most about Live Mail (and it’s predecessors) is the ability to drag an email out of Live Mail onto my local file system and put it back (Thunderbird doesn’t have any convenient way to put a message back).  This isn’t a feature that should be a deal breaker for most anyone (if you need to do it, you know how to do it with Thunderbird — it just won’t be quite as easy).

Overall, Live Mail is a descent program, and it’s priced right — FREE.

Windows Live Essentials

NOTE:  GMail content can be access by either POP3 or IMAP4; simply follow the instructions on GMail to enable it and add it to Live Mail or any email client that supports POP3 or IMAP4 over a SSL connection (and allows you to specify the port numbers).

Originally posted 2009-11-24 01:00:40.

Disk Bench

I’ve been playing with Ubuntu here of late, and looking at the characteristics of RAID arrays.

What got me on this is when I formatted an ext4 file system on a four drive RAID5 array created using an LSI 150-4 [hardware RAID] controller I noticed that it took longer than I though it should; and while most readers probably won’t be interested in whether or not to use the LSI 150 controller they have in their spare parts bin to create a RAID array on Linux, the numbers below are interesting just in deciding what type of array to create.

These numbers are obtained from the disk benchmark in Disk Utility; this is only a read test (write performance is going to be quite a bit different, but unfortunately the write test in Disk Utility is destructive, and I’m not willing to lose my file system contents at this moment; but I am looking for other good benchmarking tools).

drives avg access time min read rate max read rate avg read rate

ICH8 Single 1 17.4 ms 14.2 23.4 20.7 MB/s
ICH8 Raid1 (Mirror) 2 16.2 ms 20.8 42.9 33.4 MB/s
ICH8 Raid5 4 18.3 ms 17.9 221.2 119.1 MB/s
SiL3132 Raid5 4 18.4 ms 17.8 223.6 118.8 MB/s
LSI150-4 Raid5 4 25.2 ms 12.5 36.6 23.3 MB/s

All the drives used are similar class drives; Seagate Momentus 120GB 5400.6 (ST9120315AS) for the single drive and RAID1 (mirror) tests, and Seagate Momentus 500GB 5400.6 (ST9500325AS) for all the RAID5 tests.  Additionally all drives show that they are performing well withing acceptable operating parameters.

Originally posted 2010-06-30 02:00:09.

File System Fragmentation

All file systems suffer from fragmentation.

Let me rephrase that more clearly in case you didn’t quite get it the first time.

ALL FILE SYSTEMS SUFFER FROM FRAGMENTATION <PERIOD>.

It doesn’t matter what file system you use one your computer, if you delete and write files it will become fragmented over time.  Some older file systems (like say FAT and FAT32) had major performance issues as the file system began to fragment, more modern file systems do not suffer as much performance lose from fragmentation, but still suffer.

If you want to argue that your writable file system doesn’t fragment, you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, so read up on how your file system really works and how block devices work to understand why you just can’t have a file system that doesn’t fragment files or free space or both.

What can you do about fragmentation?

Well, you might not really need to do anything, modern disk drives are fast; and on a computer that’s doing many things at once the fragmentation may not have much of any impact on your performance, but after awhile you’re probably going to want to defragment your files.

The act of copying a file will generally defragment it; most modern file systems will attempt to allocate contiguous space for a file if it can (files that grow over time cannot be allocated contiguous, but they can be defragmented at their current size).

On many operating systems you can actually get programs that are designed to defragment your file system.

How often should you defragment your file system?

Well, I generally recommend you do it right after installing and updating your computer; and then any time you make major changes (large software installation, large update, etc).  But that you not do it automatically or an a routine schedule — there’s not enough benefit to that.

You can also analyze your disk (again using software) to determine how fragmented it is… and then defragment when it reaches some point that you believe represents a performance decrease.

Also, try and keep your disk clean, delete your browser cache, temporary files, duplicate files, and clutter — the less “junk” you have on your disk, the less need there will be for defragmenting.

Originally posted 2009-01-05 12:00:03.

Microsoft Updates

I’ve got a new pet-peeve (like a had a shortage of them before)…

nVidia has been coming out with display updates for their video cards for Vista about once per month (OK — a little less often than that); and Microsoft has been dutifully pushing down certified drivers to users.

First, the big problem I have with the nVidia driver for my 9800s is that I periodically have the machine freeze and get a message that the display driver stopped responding (but has recovered)… maybe nVidia should be concentrating on fixing that issue and hold off on updates until there’s really some substantial progress [but that might negatively impact them re-naming old tehcnology and trying to sell it as something new].

OK — I digressed… but like I said, it’s a new pet-peeve, and I want to revel in it.

The really annoying thing is that every time Microsoft download and installs a new video driver the system resizes all my open windows and rearranges the icons (shortcuts) on my desktop…

Now perhaps this is only because I have a multiple display system… but reguardless you’d think the children in Redmond might have considered storing the previous state of windows BEFORE activating the new video driver and restoring it afterwards — after all, they are concerned with user experience, RIGHT?

RIGHT… I think the phase would be “experience THIS!”

Microsoft has come a long way in the last few years in making computers easier to use, and easier to maintain… but they (Microsoft) still fails to actually have people who use computers design feature for them… and that’s why using Windows has always felt like it was held together by chewing gum and string — BECAUSE IT IS.

I could do with one less version of Internet Explorer and a bit more work on polishing the overall user experience… and why all these “major” upgrades???  Why not just a continuous stream of improvements to each and every part of the system???

Originally posted 2009-08-22 01:00:10.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008

Last week Microsoft released the FREE version of the Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008; this is a scaled down Server 2008 with Hyper-V install that allows you to run a light-weight virtualization host (much like many of the competitors in the virtualization world).

While there are some limits on this version — maxium 4 processors [don’t confuse that with cores; I think Microsoft counts physical processors not cores] and 32GB of memory.

You can get details on Hyper-V Server 2008 here:
http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/default.mspx.

And you can download Hyper-V Server 2008 here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=6067CB24-06CC-483A-AF92-B919F699C3A0&displaylang=en.

Originally posted 2008-10-16 11:08:09.

Free

I found this web page on GNU.org by the Free Software Foundation to be hilarious… it just reeks of doublespeak and I’m sure George Orwell would agree.

Now see, I thought the “free” in “free software” meant “free” — and it didn’t really need any qualifications.  Software that was free from encumbrances and cost… but now the Free Software Foundation is telling us that “free” might cost…

Maybe they’re looking for ways to pay their salaries?

I don’t know.

Maybe that other kind of software that wasn’t “free” might turn out to be less expensive in the long run.

Selling Free Software

Originally posted 2009-12-28 01:00:36.

Wikipedia Funding

I’m a big fan of Wikipedia— that should be clear from my previous posts on Wikipedia and my frequent use of Wikipedia as a reference tool (and to link to from my posts).

Wikipedia rose from the ashes of failue much like a phoenix… and currently operates one of the largest (if not the largest) repositories of human knowledge.

Wikipedia is freely accessed by anyone with an Internet connection (provided their provider does not block such access), and is currently funded completely through donations.

While I applaud the dreams of Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales to keep the site free of advertising, my feeling is that advertising might well be a better way to sustain the site.

My concept is that those who do not wish to see advertisement donate, and are free from advertisements as long as they have “credits”… when they run out of credits then they like those who choose not to donate see advertisements.

Since Wikipedia is one of the heaviest traveled sites on the internet, advertisers will likely pay top dollar, and there’s likely no need to work through an advertising network…

Originally posted 2010-01-24 02:00:35.

Windows 7 – Clean Install

One of the best ways to insure that your computer will have an optimal installation of Windows 7 is to do a clean installation.  Of course, you have to make sure you save off all the information on your machine before you start (the migration wizard can help, but if you have important data you might want to be doubly sure).

With Windows 7 when you install on a clean hard drive, either a brand new one or one that you have deleted all the partitions, Windows 7 will want to create a small (100MB) primary/active/system partition for recovery (WinRE – Windows Recover Environment), but that really isn’t needed since it would put the files for WinRE on the system partition if it didn’t have the ability to create the small partition.

There’s no straightforward way to get the installer not to create the WinRE partition, but there are ways to do it.

Using A Disk Manager (3rd Party)

By far the easiest way is just to partition the drive ahead of time, you can allow the installer to format it.  I recommend something like Acronis Disk Director, but you can use almost any software you want.

Using Windows DiskPart

If you’re a “geek” and understand how to use Microsoft diskpart utility you can hit Shift+F10 at the first setup screen (where you select language, keyboard, and locale) and a command prompt will open.  From there you can use the diskpart utility.

Be warned, if you’re unfamiliar with the diskpart utility you might not want to be too quick to use it… it’s unforgiving.

Commands that will help you with diskpart (in the order you’d use them)

  • list disk
  • select disk 0
  • clean
  • create partition primary
  • select partition 1
  • active
  • format fs=ntfs quick
  • exit

There are options to many of these commands I haven’t specified.  If you’re not a geek and you don’t understand disk geometry (partitions) you probably shouldn’t be doing this.  Read up on diskpart before trying this at home — even if you think you know what you’re doing it’s worth looking over the commands.

Using The Windows 7 Installer

You can trick the installer into getting rid of the WinRE partition; simply let it do what it wants and create the two partition.  Then delete the LARGE partition that you’d normally install Windows into (leaving only the 100MB partition).  Extend the 100MB partition to fill the disk.  Then format the partition and select it for installing Windows.

I’m sure there are other clever ways to accomplish this… but it’s really hard to understand why Microsoft wants to make this difficult.  In point of fact the Mac creates a small EFI Boot partition much the same as Windows 7 wants to… so maybe it’s just Microsoft getting wrapped up in doing things like Apple; maybe there’s a good reason; maybe it’s just stupid.  You decide.

NOTE1:  I would be extremely careful about using a disk partition manager after installation to delete the WinRE partition.

NOTE2:  I generally recommend letting the installer format the drive even if you’ve already prepared it with a disk partition manager.  This insures that the file system defaults are set the way Microsoft expects.  If you don’t know about all the parameters for setting up an NTFS file system and understand their impact on the system, save yourself a headache and let the installer format the partition.

Originally posted 2009-11-09 01:00:43.

7-Zip

I’ve written about 7-Zip before; but since we’re on the verge of a significant improvement I felt it was time to highlight it again.

7-Zip is a file archiver written by Igor Pavlov.  Originally only available for Windows, but now available for most every operating system.

7-Zip was one of the first archiving tools to include LZMA (Lempel-Ziv-Markov chain algorithm); and consistently demonstrated much higher compression ratios at much higher compression rates than any other compression scheme.

The next release of 7-Zip (9.10) will include LZMA2.

The source code for the LZMA SDK has been put into the public domain, and is freely available for use in other products.  The SDK includes the main line C++ course, ANSI-C compatible LZMA and XV source code; C#  LZMA compression and decompression source code; Java LZMA compression and decompression source code; as well as other source code.

You can read all the features of LZMA as well as download the Windows version of 7-Zip and locate links for pZip for *nix operating systems.  You can also do a search for tvx or vx for *nix based systems as well.

This is the only archive utility you need; it would have been nice had Microsoft chosen to base the folder compression in Windows 7 on the LZMA SDK, or at least made it easy to replace the compression module; but 7-Zip installs a Windows shell extension so you have a separate (though confusing for some) menu item for compression and decompression.

http://www.7-zip.org/

Originally posted 2010-01-21 01:00:14.