General

Making an old laptop more usable

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We've received an old Pentium 233/MMX laptop that has 64mb of RAM, a 10gb hard drive and is currently running Windows 98. I'm intending turning it into a basic Internet kiosk for our living room, which is definitely doable. The trick, however, will be to get it running a more powerful / stable operating system that can run the two basic services I want: web browsing and instant messaging.

The key problem is not going to be the software itself, as its pretty much decided for me already - for a web browser I'll probably be using Opera (Firefox is simply too big for this wee beastie) and either Google Talk, IM2 or maybe Gaim for the instant messaging. Along with that I'll probably install a minimalistic MP3/CD player and a firewall, and have a virus checker in the background incase needed.

The real problem, however, is finding a more up-to-date operating system than is currently installed, something that will fit within the 64mb memory limit that we're stuck with, and still leave room for running the software. While it may be possible to upgrade to more memory, I'm not currently sure its an investment worth our money, but I will research it anyway. So the main two options are Windows 2000 and some form of Linux (probably Fedora Core running Xfce). I'll probably start off trying Windows XP and then jump to Linux if that doesn't work up to snuff.

Before doing anything the first task will be to backup what's already on the drive incase its needed later, and I'll be using Acronis True Image to do that.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Exchange Server login names

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As a follow-up to my earlier post about Exchange Server login problems, here's a full list of what Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 expects for the login usernames for different protocols. Bon appetit!

  • POP3: domainname\ntusername\exchangealias
  • IMAP4: domainname\\ntusername\\exchangealias
  • SMTP: ntusername

Some of those terms are not completely intuitive, so here's a quick explanation:

domainname
The "domainname" is the name of the domain your account logs into, e.g. "ourco". It is not the fully qualified domain name, just the shortened version.
ntusername
The is the name that you type in to log into the network. In the Active Directory Users and Computers control panel you can find it on the Account tab listed as "User logon name".
exchangealias
This is the alias that Exchange Server creates for your account. Who knows why it doesn't just use the default based on your login, but anyway. You can find this in the Active Directory Users and Computers control panel on the Exchange General tab as the Alias field.

One other quick note is that, even if the login string might have a space in it you shouldn't need to use quotation marks around it, just the basic string should be enough - any software you use should be smart enough about how it handles logins. Also note that I've only tested this on Exchange Server 2000, not Exchange 5.5 or the newer Exchange Server 2003, but they should work the same.

After pulling my hair out over that on many an occasion, I hope it can help others.

Google vs Evil Empire, second edition

In a second PR win by the search engine giant, it was noted this week that since October Google has been refusing to give the US government search results data of its website visitors as part of said government's continued attempts to push through a law that was already thrown out of the courts two years ago. The law in question, the Child Online Protection Act, was the government's attempt to create laws to protect children, but the Supreme Court deemed its wording to be too broad and could jeopardize first ammendment rights of adults.

How to disable "hibernation" in Windows XP and save disk space

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Today at work I was doing moving some files around when I realized that my C: drive, which has Windows XP on it, was running seriously low on disk space. A quick perusal of the drive uncovered a 1.5 gigabyte file called hiberfil.sys. Given that I never use the hibernation system in Windows I figured this was a prime target for purging, but the system wouldn't let me delete the file as it was locked by the system that controls hibernation. So, off a googling I went and found my answer on the very first result. Read on for a quick explanation.

Microsoft added the hibernation system to Windows a few years back and in many situations it can work great. The whole idea of hibernation is to let you freeze the computer as it is, with all the software running, and be able to turn off the power, then when you want to you can just turn on the power again and there's your computer ready to go! To do this Windows makes a file in your system drive, usually C:, that is about the same size as the amount of physical RAM your computer has, so if you have 256MB of RAM then your hibernation file, hiberfil.sys, will be 256MB in size, thus if you have 1.5GB of RAM like my work PC has you'll end up with a 1.5GB file! This can work great with slower computers and laptops where you don't want to go through the whole hassle of booting your computer each time you want to use it for a few minutes but on my PCs I tend to only turn it off when I want to specifically turn it off.

So to turn it off you need to do two very simple things. The steps are to go to your control panel's power controls and simply uncheck the "enable hibernation" button, et voila, 1.5GB of space back for me.

In a little bit more detail, there are actually two different routes you need to take depending on how your computer is set up. First off open your control panel, if you have Windows XP set with the default fancy display go to the Start menu and click on Control Panel, whereas if you've enabled the so-called "classic" interface you need to go to Start, then Settings and then Control Panel.

Once the control panel opens you then need to find the power controls. If you've got the categorized view enabled (it says "Pick a category" at the top) then click on Performance and Maintenance (it has a little pie-chart icon beside it) then click Power Options. If you have the traditional "classic" view where all of the icons are displayed simply click on Power Options and you're away with it. When the window opens you need to click on the Hibernate tab and it will look something like this:

The Hibernation options in Windows XP
Note: I've got a program installed that makes the colors different so your window is probably more blue looking.

When the window opens simply make sure that the Enable hibernation option is unchecked then click OK to save the change and reclaim your disk space. Should you ever want to re-enable hibernation support just go back to the same window and re-enable it. Easy!

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