Saturday, February 28, 2009

Politics, Platforms

I've been reading a lot about President Obama lately. It's refreshing to see the change Obama has been working towards finally show up in the form of a proposed budget. This budget includes improvements to our health care system that will help save us in long-term costs, a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, and increased spending on education, all great things. In the end, the entire country will realize that by investing more money in education now we will have a continued competitive edge in the world economy, even as other countries rise. We will improve our health care system by making data electronic, and by modernizing our systems to save administrative costs in any health care situation. And finally we will reverse the poor policies of the Reagan era by making taxes more fair, by decreasing them on the people who have the least money, and increasing them on the people who can afford to pay them.

In other notes, I've been working a lot on my own stuff - keeping very busy. All in great fun, though.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Asterisk PBX

I recently discovered another piece of Open Source software that I hadn't examined much before. It's called Asterisk, and it's designed to let you create your own telephony system. The problem is... it seems to be very complex and poorly documented. Although it's been around for a long while, it looks like no one has taken the time to build solid documentation - so I bet it's been reserved to hackers and linux masters, excluding those who don't have years of experience playing around with these types of systems. Might be fun to use if I can get it to work, though. According to the site: Asterisk is an open source framework for building communications applications. Asterisk turns an ordinary computer into a communications server. Asterisk powers IP PBX systems, VoIP gateways, conference servers and other custom solutions. It is used by small businesses, large businesses, call centers, carriers and government agencies, worldwide. Asterisk is free and open source. Asterisk is sponsored by Digium. It would be cool to use this to automate and simplify things, maybe even create our own professional sounding office voicemail system without paying hundreds a month.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Acer Aspire One - Running Slow No More

So, I had thought I managed to nearly kill my wonderful Acer Aspire One, without doing anything at all! Originally, after I first bought it, I could open files to edit, listen to music, and browse Facebook all at the same time with ease. Then, without much warning or little reason, it started going SLOOOOOOWWWW. It took tons of research and clever Google keyword mashing to find out the solution in my case. My hard drive was running in PIO Mode. This a) eats up CPU speed because PIO mode needs CPU overhead, and b) makes accessing any read/writes slower too. You can check if this is your problem by going to Start -> Run -> devmgmt.msc -> IDE ATA/ATAPI -> Primary IDE Channel -> Advanced Settings. If it says Current Transfer Mode: PIO (or anything less than Ultra DMA Mode 5) then you might be experiencing the same problem.

This happens automatically by windows when it thinks your hard drive has errors - often caused by multiple or frequent hibernating/standbys/restarts. Fixing it requires making the computer take less of these errors before it enters this mode.

Fixing it in my case was easy once I found the right registry keys. Warning: I am not responsible if this damages your PC, don't try this at home. I found "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEMS\CurrentControlSet\Control/Class\{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}\0001" in regedit. Then I changed MasterDeviceTimingModeAllowed to 0xFFFFFFFF by typing f eight times in the box after clicking it.

Then I opened the properties (advanced settings like above) for that channel, changed 'device 0 transfer mode' to PIO Only, then clicked okay. Then I went back there and changed it back to "DMA if available". This is sort of like a 'soft reset'. After clicking okay, and checking again, I was running in full Ultra DMA Mode 5 speed.