Monday, July 27, 2009

ThinkPad X40

If you've been reading my posts for a while, you know I'm a big fan of ThinkPads. I've written about my history of ThinkPads, my current T42, and my wife's current T61.

For my birthday last year, I got an Asus Eee PC 1000H. I love the physical dimensions of the Eee PC and the battery life. The battery lasts hours and I've never had it run out on me. As an aside, I have begun to notice that it drains slightly faster but I'm talking about 4 hours vs. 6 hours. The right shift key took some getting used to but I'm pretty good with that now. The 1024x600 screen takes a little adjusting to.

The 1000H weighs about 3.3 lbs. While the dimensions always impress onlookers, the weight surprises them. The weight is in the battery which is at the back of the unit so it makes it off balance when the screen is tilted back. It wants to tip over if it's on a soft surface, e.g. your lap.

The ongoing irritant is the touchpad mouse. I like that it is multi-touch but for those of us with that little dent on the tip of their right index finger from the ThinkPad's TrackPoint, nothing will take its place.

So I kept lusting after ThinkPad X-series. More so the slightly older ones with the 4x3 screens rather than the latest with wide-screens (I call them short-screens). In one of my previous posts I even said "I can't imagine what a new X40 would be like."

Now I can.

On my favorite used PC site (Intechra), I came across an off-lease ThinkPad X40. I held my breath until I had it in my shopping cart and checked out. The cost with shipping was just over $200.

It is a 2371-G4U with a Pentium M 1.4GHz, 1 GB of RAM, and a 40 GB HD. As expected, the battery isn't "fresh" but it will run for an hour or so. It came with 802.11A/B/G and an SD card slot (the X20 had a CF slot).

The appearance looks like somebody had it in a docking station for 3 years. Barely a mark on it anywhere.

I used my procedure to reuse the Windows XP Pro COA.

It is practically the same size as the 1000H but amazingly it is lighter! 2.7 lbs. And it's thinner. Overall it clearly feels smaller than the 1000H. Even more people "oh and ah" over it than the 1000H and it's 4 years old!

I need to replace the battery (about $40 on eBay) and am looking at doing some sort of solid state drive.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Browser Vulnerabilities

It's been a while since I've talked about vulnerabilities. This time it seems like there's been a flurry in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Last week, SANS reported a 0-day exploit in Microsoft's DirectShow ActiveX control that can be exploited in IE. This ActiveX control is not intended to run in IE. Microsoft's advisory is here. Microsoft created a "Fix it" article that turns on its kill bit. Though unaffected by this vulnerability, Microsoft is recommending that Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 customers apply the "Fix it."

Then this week, SANS reported a 0-day exploit in Microsoft's Office Web Components ActiveX control that can be exploited in IE. This ActiveX control is not intended to run in IE. Microsoft's advisory is here. Microsoft created a "Fix it" article that turns on its kill bit. (Is there an echo in here?) Microsoft's Security Response Center says it doesn't affect Vista. Read the details for yourself.

Then today, Brian Krebs reported a "highly critical" vulnerability in FireFox 3.5. He describes the "about:config" as a work-around:

To disable the vulnerable component, open up a new Firefox window and type "about:config" (without the quotes) in the browser's address bar. In the "filter" box, type "jit" and you should see a setting called "javascript.options.jit.content". You should notice that beside that setting it reads "true," meaning the setting is enabled. If you just double-click on that setting, it should disable it, changing the option to "false." That's it.
The bad news is that this slows Firefox's Javascript back down to 3.0 levels.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Creative Labs Vado HD

As a going-away present, my former co-workers gave me a gift certificate at, one of my favorite stores. The timing (of the gift certificate) couldn't have been better.

My daughter was expecting our first grand-baby so I was in the market for a grand-parent's camcorder.

I had already been shopping for a camcorder. I wanted something with a USB connector. Not only did the Vado have that but it had a built-in HDMI connector. It uses its own 8 GB internal storage so I didn't have to buy a separate SDHC memory card.

I'd read a lot about problems with low light recording and shaking but I haven't seen problems with either of these.

The size is amazing. It is only slightly larger than my wife's Blackberry Pearl. It charges from the USB connector so you don't have to fool with a power adapter.

It wasn't obvious from the advertising but the USB presents a drive to Windows that has Autoplay. If you let the autorun.inf run, it installs a codec for the Vado and then launches a limited version of muvee's Reveal. It is pretty crippled, e.g. it won't convert to DVD, but it does Ok.

It even has a button that directly uploads to youtube. I've also used its capability to consolidate a couple of clips and output a .wmv.

The codec that is used by the Vado is a proprietary h.264. Even with the Vado codec installed, I've not been able to process the files directly using uLead DVD Movie Factory or Pinnacle Studio.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


My wife has 2 shelves in our kitchen full of recipes. They're in boxes, magazines, books, and scraps of paper.

I've been wondering how I could help her keep up with them and find just the one she wants. Of course the first thing that came to mind for me was technology, perhaps a data base?

Then I came to my senses. I played around a little with Google Docs but that seemed awkward.

One day, I came across All you have to do is to e-mail something to and it's posted. They even clean it up for you. For example, if there are multiple pictures, they setup a picture gallery!

You can see her recipes here.

There's a great podcast about it here.