Everything, Everything - September 2008

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Petrol
Thursday 25th September, 2008 12:39
According to an article on the Sky News website, based on figures from an AA survey, "more and more people were overestimating the amount of fuel in their tanks because they failed to realise how little petrol their money was now buying".

I have this great idea. If we were to stick some sort of "petrol gauge" in the car, drivers would be able to see how much petrol was left in the tank, allowing them to fill up with petrol when it gets low. Oh, right, we already have one of those?

On a more sensible note, most modern cars (admittedly they're probably not driven by the sort of people struggling to pay for petrol) will give you an estimate as to how much further you can drive based on the amount of petrol in your tank and how quickly you've been using it. Simple, but effective.
New Designs
Monday 15th September, 2008 14:13
Facebook has one. In fact I had switched to the new design before it was forced upon people and I quite liked it. I even got annoyed when they took the new design away. A lot of people have started groups to convey their dissapointment with the new design. I don't plan on joining them.

But I would consider joining a group for The Register's new design. OMFG indeed. The site is now fixed width (so I get big grey bars on either side, as my monitors run at 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and the 30" can run at 2560x1600), and based on the comments I don't think people have noticed yet that the font size is now fixed (so the small text remains small on high resolution screens).

Talking of high resolutions, Microsoft had a nice article about what they've done/are doing to help third party applications look good on high resolution devices. I also like what they've done in IE8, where you can zoom into the page and instead of zooming in (with scrollbars) it will increase the size of the font but try and maintain the layout. This helps when stupid sites like The Register make the font size fixed so you can't zoom the text to show someone an article.
What Time Is it?
Saturday 13th September, 2008 22:52
Bullet time. Contrary to what most people believe, this wasn't first seen in The Matrix.

Stop... Hammer Time. Now where did I put my hammer pants?

That's what you're trying to say, you're trying to say let's get down to business it's business time.

Naked time. Trivia: The Naked Time was George Takei's favourite episode of Star Trek.

It's Chico Time. It's never Chico time.

Greenwich Mean Time. The basis for UTC, which makes life so much easier for me. Now all I have to do is hope the rest of the world will learn English too. And drive on the left hand side of the road.

Quality time. Time spent playing with kittens or lying in the sun listening to music.
Google Chrome And UAC
Tuesday 9th September, 2008 12:53
Google's installation of Chrome has made UAC completely redundant. The (very much) beta browser installs itself into the user's AppData folder on Vista. For example:

C:\Users\Robert\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\

This explains why users had their browsers updated silently without them realising. At first I figured maybe they were running with Administrator privileges on XP or Vista with UAC disabled (so they deserve everything they get), but then I read about this:

Install Google Chrome: Update version
Google Chrome automatically updates to a newer version when one is released. The update process happens silently, whether or not you're using the browser at the time. If Google Chrome is open at the time of the update, you must close the browser and restart for the new version to launch.

These silent updates are done without user interaction, and with no way to turn it off! EVIL!!

There's a GoogleUpdate.exe process that runs as the logged on user, thanks to a registry setting:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

For example:

Google Update
"C:\Users\Robert\AppData\Local\Google\Update\GoogleUpdate.exe" /c

I haven't checked, but I presume killing that process might not be enough as the application might check for updates by itself, or possibly start the GoogleUpdate process.

Because Google's Chrome is installed in the AppData folder on Vista, this means:
  • multiple installations of Chrome (one per user)
  • any commands you run as a standard user can affect your copy of Chrome
At least any changes made to somewhere like "C:\Program Files\Google" would have required Admin privileges, and - combined with lower privilege accounts or UAC - stopped any remote code execution vulnerabilities from affecting any user's copy of Chrome, rather than everyone else's. I really hope more developers don't write their application installations like this.

Talking of Chrome, I'm slightly appalled that Google didn't do a proper fix for the carpetbombing flaw (more annoyed that they hadn't spotted the problem themselves, even though they know the version numbers of WebKit). It's also a shame they don't prompt users by default when files are downloaded (it's a checkbox on their Minor Tweaks tab). It's obvious that a load of old browser vulnerabilities haven't been tested (long filenames, dodgy URLs) before they released their beta.

I've also noticed that their default setting for mixed content on secure pages is "Allow all content to be loaded" - rather than prompt the user or not display the insecure content. They also allow all cookies by default, rather than restricting third party. I suppose allowing all cookies would benefit Google.
September
Monday 1st September, 2008 13:19
I was going to write something interesting around the following Diesel Sweeties links, but I haven't gotten around to it yet (too busy dealing with far more stressful things in life):

http://rstevens.livejournal.com/337681.html
http://www.dieselsweeties.com/print/?date=20080807
http://www.dieselsweeties.com/blog/?p=360

I was also reading up on the latest graphics cards. These are apparently the best value cards, based on their price/performance ratio (the best value's at the bottom):

Radeon HD 3650 (512 MB) 0.060
Radeon HD 4850 (512 MB) 0.059
Geforce 9600 GT (1024 MB) 0.057
Geforce 8800 GTS (512 MB) 0.057
Radeon HD 3870 (512 MB) 0.054
Radeon HD 3850 (256 MB) 0.044
Geforce 8800 GT (512 MB) 0.043

The 4850 sounds like a pretty good card, especially based on the overall performance. It's not quite worth upgrading from my 3870 though.
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