Category Archives: Help Desk

Sometimes I run into a goofy computer problem; this is where I explain how I fixed it. That said, I’m not the help desk, and I generally don’t blog about fixit.

Disable Windows Antivirus When Installing aspell English Dictionary

A lesson I learned the hard way today, while installing aspell support for Notepad++:

If you’re installing Kevin Atkison’s English dictionary for aspell, you need to disable your antivirus program (at least, if you’re using Avast, as I am).

If you don’t, the dictionary installer can’t write its unpacked files to disk and will fail silently. As in, it just plain closes, and Notepad++ will report something along the lines of “Aspell and/or dictionaries are missing.”


Also, if you haven’t heard of Notepad++, you should check it out. It’s an open-source, GPL-licensed Win32 text editor. (It runs perfectly fine in Win64).

Highly extensible via plugins, translated to all kinds of languages, exceptionally powerful, with support for syntax highlighting in just about every programming language under the Sun and syntax checking for a fair number of them, too.

It’s pretty much the only tool I use any more for Web coding, even when writing ASP.NET Web Forms. (I still use Visual Studio for some Windows coding. But Notepad++ has completely replaced Dreamweaver.)

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Chrome Just Isn’t Up To Firefox’s Snuff

Chrome-logo-2011-03-16Three weeks ago I decided to give Google Chrome a shot at replacing Mozilla Firefox as my primary browser. And believe me, it was a fair contest: I only called upon Firefox when I could not get Chrome to work.

Unfortunately, I had to call on Firefox at least once every other day. And while I still run across the occasional Web site that requires me to use Internet Explorer — mainly, Web sites that use some Microsoft technology, such as LiveMeeting or an ActiveX control of some sort — that’s maybe once or twice a month.

(And no, I have not given IE a chance to be my primary browser. When it truly embraces Web standards, then I will consider it. Internet Explorer is barely in the neighborhood of standards compliance right now, never mind on the same street. Safari? C’mon, man. Opera? Seriously, stop now, you’re embarrassing yourself.)

So I’ve made up my mind: Chrome gets sent back to the minors to work on its skills, and Firefox — older, fatter, slower, but far more dependable and experienced — is back as my ace starting pitcher.

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Google’s Web Browser Has Its Problems, Too

Remember last month, when all the Internet was crowing about how “no one even attempts hacking Chrome” at Pwn2Own, an annual hacking contest with a primary focus on Web browsers?

The implication was, of course, that the Chrome Web browser cannot be hacked; or, at least, that its architecture is so good, and that hackers know this so well, that Chrome somehow becomes the Sword In The Stone, if not the Holy Grail.

This, of course, is nonsense. Fast-forward to today, where Google announces patches to three major Chrome security holes.

While Google isn’t revealing the specific nature of the three holes — “the referenced bugs may be kept private until a majority of our users are up to date with the fix” — their titles alone are alarming: “cross-origin bypass” suggests it’s pretty easy to spoof / forge where a request comes from; and all “memory corruption” causes concern about at least forced crashing, if not unauthorized access to system privileges.

Is Chrome a bad browser? Hardly. Has it had problems? It sure has. Did the refusal of hackers to go after Chrome during Pwn2Own mean Chrome is invincible? Not at all.

For one, there’s money to be made at this competition, and time is limited, so it only makes sense to go after the browsers you know can be compromised easily: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, which was most easily hacked in previous Pwn2Own contests and leverages the same base technologies — WebKit and Chromium — used to power Google Chrome.

For another, these other browsers have been out longer and are used more widely than Chrome. That means knowledge of how they are built, information about glitches that could prove to be exploitable, etc. is greater.

Or I may be completely wrong. It could be that Chrome is, indeed, completely feared within the black- and white-hat communities alike.

Whatever the case, my point is that Google is not infallible, Chrome can be exploited, and why no one bothered to try to do so during a specific competition is hard to say.

Take with a grain of salt the hype you hear about hacking and security, especially if it’s proclaimed loudly. Anything complex is vulnerable to compromise and collapse, be it the Mayan civilization or even the Oracle DB server. Chrome is no different.

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idroid Android OS Port For iPhone 2G Available For Download From MediaFire

While cruising through Google Reader’s recommendations, I ran across a link to the idroid Android OS port for the iPhone 2G that has set the Internet tubes to rattling in recent days.

That’s right: If you have an iPhone 2G laying about (and I am seriously kicking myself in the rear today for having turned my old 2G iPhone in to the recycler a couple months ago), you too can put the vastly superior Android OS on the vastly superior iPhone device.

This is not a project for a Linux noob, as you have to have enough skill to follow the instructions (PDF) on how to extract the touchscreen firmware from the iPhone, plus extensive skills in installing and configuring Linux (I probably couldn’t pull this off). Fortunately, the package comes with prebuilt images for Android, Linux and other necessary components, so once you have properly prepped the iPhone to receive Android, it should go smoothly.

The MediaFire link is Be forewarned: There are JavaScript redirectors and pop-under ads at MediaFire, and unfortunately you must enable JavaScript to get the download link.

UPDATE, April 28, 2010: File has been deleted from MediaFire. I don’t know of an alternate source.

I am not telling you to do this. If you add Android to the iPhone, you are certainly violating several agreements with both Apple and AT&T. You probably will brick the iPhone. It certainly will have performance issues and may not work at all as expected. If you install Android on an iPhone, you do so at your own risk.

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