Thursday, August 14, 2008

It’s a [PSA] Thing

Just a few “public service” announcements…for the interested.

It’s a Dell Thing

All of our enterprise notebooks are Dell Latitude models.

When it comes to notebooks at work, I’m pretty agnostic.  We cycle through our notebook leases about every three years.  Unfortunately, our IT department doesn’t get first and frequent dibs on the latest models.  While I always would like to have the latest processors and maxed memory, having a stable and dependable system is much more valuable to me.  Besides, we are all pretty good about putting in the tweaks needed to keep any system running at top-form. (Although it still does smart just a bit when we hand off a brand new system to a user and that system is spiffier than ours.)

So I instantly perked up when I saw this post:

Dell Laptops Affected by NVIDIA GPU Failures – CyberNet News.

Turns out a number of Dell notebooks (including our Latitude line) have some faulty NVIDIA on-board graphic processors.  Dell has released BIOS updates for many (but not all) of its impacted line including the D630 we field.  Seems that what the BIOS update does is cycle the internal cooling fan on more often  to keep things cool.  Our notebooks are covered under a pretty sturdy support plan so I doubt we will have any issues replacing those that fail, but it will be something to add to the deployment guide.

Dell revamps Latitude line with new E laptop series - Crave, the gadget blog

This also got me thinking.  Depending on how many Dell Latitudes are still in the supply pipe-line, it is conceivable that we might be getting some of these new E-series notebooks when our turn at the equipment-renewal trough comes up.   While I bet we get standard-issue black/gray cases, wouldn’t it be neat to get one in a more Texan-like “Regatta Blue” or “Regal Red”?

After playing with the D620 and D630’s dual-core processors for a while, my D610 model is looking a bit shabby.  Fortunately, all of our new systems deploying are dual-core jobs with 2GB RAM (on XP Pro), so they are quite snappy.

It’s a Buzz Thing

I’ve (almost) never sought out a beverage solely based on caffeine content.  Generally for daily consumption, I stick to non-caffeinated drinks.  In the morning I have my double-size cup of tea-bag or loose-leaf brewed tea (black/green).  If I do eat out (rarely now) I might indulge in a large (un-sweet) iced tea.  I rarely hit the coffee beans now.  Still enjoy it, but it’s too high maintenance.  And I spurn the energy drinks like the plague.

I’m not overtly caffeine sensitive, but a Grande Frappuccino (with chocolate) is a sure-fire way to get my heart palpitating.  Only thing I’ve drunk that seems to do that.

So it is with pleasure that I found this handy chart on Caffeine Content.

That Grande brewed Starbucks I used to pick up? 320mg!

Curiously, the Frappuccino only comes in at 115 mg.  Must be Lavie’s presence as she is always with me when I get them.

Meanwhile, my morning tea is likely in the 100 mg range.

I do know that while I was on the coffee thing, if I skipped my regular cup I had a caffeine headache a few hours later, but on my morning tea, I don’t notice if I miss it.

It’s a Freeware Thing

Quite a few new and improved software finds to share today.

EASEUS Partition Manager - (freeware) – New Window-based, GUI controlled partition manager.  Free for personal use.  Looks nice and seems to cover all the regular bases.  Most users don’t normally need a partition manager, but if you ever do, this looks like a non-geeky way to work with one.  Other partition managers worth mentioning are GParted, PartedMagic, Ranish Partition Manager, Cute Partition Manager, Partition Logic. Partition Resizer, SystemRescueCd, BootIt Next Generation (not free but good), and UBCD for Windows.  Spotted on Cybernet News and Lifehacker.

Process Monitor - (updated to version 1.37) – This Microsoft Sysinternals program for monitoring file/registry/process-thread activity for systems just got updated to fix some filtering usage and other bugs.

Process Explorer - (updated to version 11.21) – Another Microsoft Sysinternals program that got a bug fix.

Nir Sofer has been hard at work in his laboratory updating awesome utilities and releasing a new one.

ShellBagsView - (freeware) – Weird name but cool app.  This tool scans a Windows system and provides a list of when folders were opened and associated information.  Could be handy when you are doing “research” on a system looking for activity-related clues.

ServiWin - (freeware) – Use this tool to view, audit, and modify the installed drivers and services on a Windows system.  Again, I like tools like this as I can quickly audit and log system parameters for troubleshooting and documentary purposes..

SysExporter - (freeware) – Many times while troubleshooting a system I am presented with a text-box or window that has a very detailed (and ginormous) error-code message.  Instead of attempting to write it all down, I fire up this application and then can often copy/paste it into Notepad or other text editor for safe-keeping and searching. A screen-shot works, but this is much better in particular cases.

SmartSniff - (freeware) – Packet-capture tool that is quick and easy to get up and running. For guerilla-style tactics, this one is very dependable.  This version update now provides locate/remote MAC address information, IPNetInfo integration, and can be configured to show IP Country of origin.

WirelessNetView - (freeware) – Find and monitor the wireless networks that surround yourself.  New update includes the ability to report MAC address, RSSI, channel frequency and number. Can also report the company name of the MAC address based on hardware.

JavaRa - (freeware) – Just a reminder plug to not forget about this Java uninstaller/updater tool.  Very small, fast and handy.  I keep forgetting about it.

Newsfox - (FIrefox Add-on) – The RSS reader for Firefox now has release version 1.0.3 out.

Totally Free Burner - (freeware) – Yes, there are a ton of good and free CD/DVD burning apps out there.  Just do a Google search of this blog and you will no doubt find the many I have recommended over the years.  This is yet another one.  With a pretty simple interface and all the major burning needs covered, this might be one to pass on to friends and family members who are looking for something a bit more advanced, but not requiring the hand-holding sessions required by many commercial or advanced freeware burning tools.  A good review can be found via

It’s a Desktop Thing

Mandolux has a great multi-monitor desktop wallpaper for all you geeks who think hard-drive mechanicals are sexy.

500gb V2 – Triptych

This hard-drive dual-monitor wallpaper is also bright and vivid as found at DMB (Dual Monitor Background).

dmb – Hard Drive



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