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People hearing without listening, people acting without reasoning…

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Ever wanted to by a phone because you just 'felt like it'?

Ever wanted to by a phone because you just 'felt like it'? (Source: http://www.mobilewhack.com/images/nokia_aeon_concept_phone.jpg)

Many times over, we experience something which we call ‘impulse’. Ever went to a shop and bought a new mobile just because you ‘felt like it’? Ever picked up the phone and called up your friends because you’ve ‘got nothing better to do’?

Whatever it is, we’ve certainly experienced this feeling before – acting without reasoning.

But do we really not have a reason for doing something?

I don’t believe so.

You see, right, we somehow attach a ‘reason’ to when we have a decision thrust into our faces, and we decide on a best course of action after thinking about different alternatives, and choosing the best one. The reason that we assimilate with decision making is, then, to do with feasibility.

But what about reasons like ‘it feels right to me’, or ‘I don’t know, it just feels…right’?

Perhaps what we’re referring to is gut instinct, the ability to decide on the basis of our past experiences that are interconnected to this contemporary instance. Or, perhaps, because we’re emotional beings, and anything we decide to do or not to do has an emotional root to it. So, if you’re looking at that car that you really want, the reason to buy it isn’t really ‘I just feel like buying it’, it’s more like ‘I feel like exchanging $100,000 for happiness and satisfaction’.

So, here’s how I categorize reasoning:

1. When it’s conscious, or when you actually take the time to think about it, reasoning has a basis on the external world, and depending on your culture, it can sometimes be rephrased as ‘the strength of your connection to the external world’.

For instance, you decide whether you want to murder that friend that backstabbed you, or to confront him/her openly. Upon thinking about the long term consequences, the second option seems like a more rational one, doesn’t it? So you made this decision on the basis of your connection to your external world, in this case, the strength of your connection to your friends.

Obviously, there are so many more implicating factors when reasoning, like, your own personality traits (level of decisiveness, obstinacy, etc.), the circumstances you find yourself in, the resources you have (mental, physical, tangible, intangible, etc.). But, taking aside stuff you can’t control, the basis that you have for reasoning while conscious would be, again, on the strength of your connection to your external world.

2. When it’s unconscious, or when you’re not thinking before acting, your reasoning has much to do with the innate nature of human psychology, in terms of our behavioural inclinations.

Reflexes would be a good example. When you touch a hot iron (classic, innit?), you quickly retract to prevent yourself from burning. Why? Because humans have survived this long on prioritizing self-preservation over any other factor.

Take another example. When your friends ask you out to the beach, you flatly refuse, saying ‘nah, can’t be bothered to go’, not on the basis that you don’t want to go as a friend of your gathering, but because of our tendency to avoid repetitive behavior when it exceeds a certain limit, or because the body is exhausted after a marathon from the previous day, or because of your tendency to not go to these social gatherings (that’s the law of consistency going against you, mate), and saying , ‘too lazy to go’.

So, really, any reasoning can have a basis in the external world or in you.

Just thought that was interesting. XD

I’d love to know what you think about this…share your thoughts here!

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Written by imicrothinking

November 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Charging wireless headphones…

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This is probably a solution applicable to a very narrow group of readers, but I’m going to write about it anyways.

If anyone’s bought wireless headphones before, I’d imagine some of you would, at some point, have been frustrated with charging the headphones, if you had a stand. You’d pray and pray and pray and hope the green light of salvation would be indicated, but no! You get a no-light response from the stand.

The fix is quite simple. It does take a bit of fiddling, and I’m not sure if this works through all wireless headphones models, but the theory’s still gonna be similar.

First of all, let’s have a look at the causes of headphones not being able to charge:

1. You can listen and not charge, or charge and not listen, or be able to do neither of those things.

Diagnostics: It’s broken. The small chip that’s used to control the circuitry is malfunctioning for some reason, probably due to physical damage, e.g. dropping it, or the original chip wasn’t manufactured properly. In that case, you can be riskily explorative and try to take the casing apart and solder the components back on (not recommended), or you can take it back to the manufacturer and get if fixed (recommended!).

2. Sometimes, you can ‘seemingly’ charge while putting the headphones in the stand, other times, you can’t do anything to get the green light on. It’s irritating.

Diagnostics: If the headphones can only charge in a certain position (you fiddle around with the headphone until the green light stays permanently on, or you move the stand around), metal plate connectors are loose. That’s what I had in my case. My charging stand had two metal connectors, which were interfaces of contact with my headphones, which, similarly, had two metal pieces. No matter how hard I tried to move around the headphones, they wouldn’t charge. So, in the end, I had to resort to a manual fix: to slip small pieces of paper behind the two metal connectors in the stand (they were slightly flexible), so the metal connectors propelled forwards to touch the metal contacts of the headphones.

3. They just won’t charge no matter what I do. No indicator light comes on.

Diagnostics: This can be one of the following:

a. You don’t have rechargeable cells (batteries) in the headphones.

Happened to me a gazillion times. I was like, ‘why the hell won’t it just charge?!’, and realized that I didn’t have the default batteries in the container.

b. You didn’t switch it on.

Bit obvious. But it can happen. Again, with my cats running lose in the house, it’s a wonder none of my clothes are ripped yet.

c. You put the wrong headphones on.

This probably sounds right out dumb to you, but it can happen to the most brilliant of us. The maxim? When it’s right in front of our eyes, we don’t usually spot it.

Oh, forgot to mention which ones I use. XP The headphones I use are Philips SBC HC8524, but yesterday when I checked the website, they had a newer model. Great headphones, by the way, here’s a pic:

Bought it during at a 10% reduction in a local hardware convention. Great deal!!

Well, that’s it for this post!

Looking forward to hearing from you ~ XD

Written by imicrothinking

October 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm

The secret to screenshots

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Hey guys! XD

I think many people have taken screenshots from their computer at some point in their lives, right? And I’m sure you’ll all agree with this: it’s difficult to edit the corners, edges, to make it look like the window is completely separate, so you can put a decent screenshot in a tutorial, a report or something. It’s really a pain in the ass!

No worries, mate, the solution’s right here.

It’s so simple that you’ll probably marvel at its stupidity, but the point is…IT WORKS! So, even if it’s sounds a bit mundane, just bear with me for now.

Okay. Let’s say, we want to take a screenshot of the command prompt. So, we open the command window, press ‘fn + prt sc’ (it might be a little different for yours, no worries), and we get something like this:

ScreenShot Desktop

ScreenShot Desktop

(That’s my desktop, btw. If your screen is wide like mine, with resolutions 1280×800, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, you can download wallpapers off http://www.widewallpapers.net/. It doesn’t stretch! On a more serious note: the kitten and the puppy were, and still are, alive in the making of the photo.)

So, you decide to crop it and you get something like this:

Screen Shot Crop

Screen Shot Crop

But it still isn’t the neatest screenshot you can produce. Compare it with this:

Perfect Screenshot

Perfect Screenshot

Completely different results!!

So, what’s the trick?

As I said, it might sound a bit banal, but it’s easy and it works. Watch closely:

The Secret Behind Screenshots

The Secret Behind Screenshots

Yes! That’s it! All you’re doing is to open up a notepad window behind the window that you want to take a screenshot of, and walla! You’ve got the perfect screenshot.

Okay, let’s say, we want to do take another screenshot, but featuring our desktops. We can’t put the desktop window on top of notepad, so what can we do? The principle’s pretty much the same, all you have to do is to insert a white background, and hide all your desktop icons.

Here’s an example:

Compare this…

Desktop Screenshot

Desktop Screenshot

With this…

Perfect Desktop Screenshot

Perfect Desktop Screenshot

The second’s much better, isn’t it? XD

Well, to save you the hassle (just kidding, it’s really easy, all I’ve done is to specify a rectangle of size 1920×1200, which is a very large screen XP), I’ve put up a file with the largest white background I can think of, so you can easily change your desktop background take screenshots of your desktop.

Download jpg (White Background 1920 x 1200): Download jpg here

Download png (White Background 1920 x 1200): Download png here

All you have to do is to change your desktop to a white background, and you’ll be able to take screenshots easily with that.

Hope you found that useful! XD

If you’ve got any more tips like this, feel free to post it in comments (I DO check comments every now and then), and I’ll post it as an entry! Credits go to you 100%, of course, and if you’ve got a blog, website with the tutorial/tip on it, do tell me, and I’ll add it in the credits section! Thanks ~ XD

Written by imicrothinking

October 8, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Recycle Bin Restoration (Why do we delete it in the first place?)

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I remember vividly, just a little under a year ago, when I attended an IT conference. Well, it’s called an IT conference, but really, it’s just a sales pitch by a Microsoft

Microsoft Logo

Microsoft Logo

representative introducing (after one-and-a-half-years) new features of Vista (I think that’s before SP1). The speaker was really funny and all, but it completely failed to deliver. I mean, it was so mundane as to teach people how to change folder views! If it was useful, I’d have thought it’d be good for a refresher. But, needless to say, it was quite disappointing. I was hoping that it’d introduce PowerShell and its functionalities, since there were confirmations that Microsoft would be releasing a better, enhanced and more powerful version of the command prompt for tech users, which never happened. But, really, anybody can use the command prompt, since the commands are so versatile and easy to learn.

However, what struck me as bizarre wasn’t the speaker or the content itself. It was the Q&A session that we have after each hour (the conference took place over the span of four weeks, and it had one three-hour session per week, if my memory serves me right). The speaker, who was called Ivan, would summarize the main questions asked in the session, and it was then that the funniest question of all was asked (by many people, mind you),

‘…how do you restore Recycle Bin?’

I was dumbstruck. Apparently, so was Ivan. I mean, why would you delete Recycle Bin in the first place?

The answer lies in a curious misnomer in the right-click options of Recycle Bin. There are only seven folder operations available in the right-click menu:

Recycle Bin right-click

Recycle Bin right-click

–          Open
–          Explore
–          Empty Recycle Bin
–          Create Shortcut
–          Delete
–          Rename
–          Properties

…and many people (myself included) thought that ‘Delete’ would clear the contents of the Recycle Bin, when it was the ‘Empty Recycle Bin’ button that did the job. But of course, as soon as you hit ‘delete’, *WHAM*, it’s gone. (less the sound effects XD)

So, as silly as this’ll sound, I’m going to talk about how to restore Recycle Bin.

If you use Vista:

  1. Right-click on the Desktop (on a clear space)
  2. Click Personalize

    Personalization Window

    Personalization Window

  3. Under the left hand corner, you’ll see a link that says ‘Change Desktop Icons’

    Change Desktop Icons Link

    Change Desktop Icons Link

  4. In the new window, check the ‘Recycle Bin’ box

    Desktop Icon Settings

    Desktop Icon Settings

  5. Click ‘OK’ and the icon will appear on your Desktop

If you use XP:

It’s much, much more complicated in XP. And for users that have never used the registry before, it’s generally not recommended. However, you can still give it a shot, if you feel confident with learning a few things today.

(Alternatively, there’s a program called Tweak UI that you can download to the same effect. It’s under a set of tools that Microsoft calls ‘Power Toys’ that extend the current capabilities of your PC. There’s one that allows you to manage multiple desktops, for instance, similar to the desktop rotating cube you get in Linux.)

Page: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx
Direct link: http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/c/a/fca6767b-9ed9-45a6-b352-839afb2a2679/TweakUiPowertoySetup.exe
Direct link 2: http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/c/a/fca6767b-9ed9-45a6-b352-839afb2a2679/TweakUIPowertoySetup_ia64.exe

To restore the icon using the registry…

…first, you MUST backup your registry. If you make any mistakes, and modify a different value, it could crash your PC, since the registry stores values for EVERYTHING that makes up a PC, including software, hardware, user settings, even the kernel. So here’s how you do it:

If you use Vista…

  1. Click start, and in the search box, type ‘systempropertiesprotection’
  2. A window that looks like this should open, in which you click ‘Create’

    System Properties Protection

    System Properties Protection

  3. Then, you simply type in a name which describes it, and click create.

    Create Restore Point

    Create Restore Point

Restoration

To restore your PC from your restore point, you simply click the ‘Restore point’ button above it, and the wizard will take you through the restoration process. (Remember, this restores ALL your files, not just your registry settings. I’ve never tried it out to see if it overwrites my current files, so you might want to back up the documents, media and other files you’ve got on your PC now.)

If you’re using XP…

  1. Go to Start –> Run, and type ‘%systemroot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe
  2. Simply follow along the wizard, and it’ll take you through creating a restore point.

I don’t use XP, so I just took a photo from the Internet~ XD

Restoration is from the same window, just above the create restore point option, and the wizard will take you through it similarly.

So, reverting to editing the registry setting, here’s how you do it on XP:

  1. Go to Start –> Run (Alternative key: Windows + R)
  2. Type in ‘regedit’
  3. Press ‘Enter’
  4. Locate this key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\HideDesktopIcons\NewStartPanel

    Registry Key

    Registry Key

  5. In the window that’s besides the root structure, right-click this DWORD value: {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}, and click ‘Modify’.
    Registry Key Hierarchy

    Registry Key Hierarchy

    Note the little arrows beside each hive (like a folder), to see what’s in the folder, you have to click the little arrow beside it, which turns black.

  6. In the Value Data box, type 0. ‘1’ hides the icon, ‘0’ displays it.

    Modify Registry Key Value

    Modify Registry Key Value

Voila! Done.

Again, for technical savvy people, or even an average PC user, this post will be of little interest or may seem redundant, however, it does highlight an important feature of the Windows operating system: the registry.

To be honest, the instructions to restore the recycle bin came directly from the Microsoft support website, because I’m not really familiar with the registry as well myself. You can find the links here:

Restoring recycle bin: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/810869
Back up and restore registry: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322756/

But, I think I’m going to do a bit of research on the registry, play around with it for a bit, and if I’ve discovered any useful properties of the registry, I’ll be sure to put up some posts about it. (For students, this will be very interesting – if you have the command prompt disabled at school, a line in a simple VB Script will help enable it, and you can very easily re-enable some of the access privileges set by your school. Not encouraging obliteration of the school system, of course. Just convenient access to files on the school server. XP)

I’d love to hear your thoughts! XD

Written by imicrothinking

October 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Verbal diarrhea

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There are two practices universally frowned upon in writing:

  1. Excessively long phrases, paragraphs
  2. Excessively rare words that nobody knows (apart from the author)
Verbal diarrhea - ever seen people who can't seem to stop talking? Funny to watch on 2x rewind XD

Verbal diarrhea - ever seen people who can't seem to stop talking? Funny to watch on 2x rewind XD

There are exceptions in both cases, of course. It’s okay, for example, to have long paragraphs when you’re writing a thesis on telomerase (still not recommended). When you’re a specialist in a field, it’s necessary to use words nobody else knows about. For example, ‘panthera tigris tigris’ (Bengal tiger) doesn’t become ‘an orange mammal with orange fur and black stripes found in Bangladesh and India’. That’s redundant.

But, when we have a choice, it’s often better to keep things short and simple.

One of my teachers used to refer to this as ‘verbal diarrhea’, which makes perfect sense. It also suited me very well because I had a bad habit of typing in font sizes 10 or below, and cramming everything in one paragraph. Why? Because I thought I could save a piece of paper! (As I make more entries, you’ll see I can use VERY roundabout methods to achieve a goal, usually quite mundane… XP )

That’s never too wise a decision to make.

Then, there’s the problem with using difficult words. When writing, I think many students ask themselves this question at least once: sesquipedalian verbosity or simple English? Apparently, most associate ‘outstanding work’ with ‘the need to utilize rambunctiously complex locution to impress the professor’. According to Robert Cialdini, a professor of social psychology, author of the best-selling books ‘Influence’ and ‘Yes!’, this will backfire right back at you.

Here’s one of the examples in his book ‘Yes!’ to demonstrate the point:

‘“We’re leveraging our assets and establishing strategic alliances to create a robust knowledge center –one with a customer-ruled business structure using market-leading technologies to maximize our human systems.”

Huh? This apparently means, “We’re consultants.”’

–          Yes!

pg. 162, Lines 5-10
Robert B. Cialdini

Simon & Schuster Inc., 2008

So, the next time you see someone trying to use uncommon word, remind them of the type of reception it’d get.

Expected: Prideful glee on the author’s side
Also expected: ‘Huh?’ and a frown to readers

XD

Firefox’s surprise – good or bad?

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I was casually blogging yesterday, and making some changes after reviewing my entries, so I clicked the ‘update’ button to implement the edits. Then I noticed something strange.

In a separate tab, I’ve opened up my blog to check that the HTML renders okay in the browser. I was navigating away from the page, because I wanted to check something up online about goodwill (bad!). Then I clicked the ‘back’ button to navigate into my blog…only to find that the changes weren’t made!!

Obviously, anything loads faster from cache (kinda like a storage area for frequently accessed data, can be webpages, video data, etc.), and that’s what Firefox did. Instead of loading the most current version of the page automatically, we have to manually click the ‘refresh’ button!

Refresh Icon (Image Source: http://icons-search.com/img/vistaicons/vistaico_toolbar_icons.zip/PNG-Refresh.png-256x256.png)

Refresh - was it always manual?

Way vintage.

I think the giant tech players are really trying to push offline surfing as a notion. For example, in Chrome, when you open the window, even if you don’t have an Internet connection, it loads the pages that were open last from a specified memory location. (Sorry, guys, still haven’t figured out how it all works so far… XD)

It’s just so much easier if it just added a conditional statement to the browser code, saying, ‘if network connection established, send GET request to web server and translate to IP address with DNS, send back to browser, interpret HTML tags, CSS,  cookies’. In fact, all it had to do was to copy the entire subroutine (bunch of code) for delivering webpages to the user, and add a the ‘if’ condition to it!

Oh well, that’s just a thought from a distant user.

What do you guys think? Firefox should change? Really doesn’t matter?

Feel free to leave a thought! XD

Written by imicrothinking

October 7, 2009 at 9:13 am

Where do copied objects vanish off to?

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Back when I was on Yahoo Answers, I saw a question that was very similar to this. Since I don’t have a photographic memory, I’m going to paraphrase it. It went something like, ‘I’ve copied many photos off the Internet, but I can only seem to paste the last item I’ve copied. How can I access the previously copied items?’ I was struck that this was a basic operation on all operating systems with a GUI, and yet I didn’t know it! Well, being the researcher that I am, I looked it up instantly.

Funny function, ‘Ctrl + C’ is. I remembered from Harry Potter when McGonagall was entering Ravenclaw’s common room, she was asked, ‘Where do vanished objects go?’, to which she replied, ‘Into non-being, which is to say, everything.’ While the arcane field of magic contradicts with the precise nature of computer science, the answer proves to be a good representation of what the clipboard is.

Simply put, the clipboard is a temporary, stack-based memory storage location, which, after you logout, will clear its contents. When you copy things from different places, our PCs seem to be able to magically access and transfer the copied data across completely different applications. But, as we now know, the copied data (copying is evoked, or called forth, by user input, which is linked to the programming interface, or the friendly screen we see, e.g. in Windows, Ctrl + C is copy because Microsoft defines it to be, not because it’s there by coincidence) is stored in a location in volatile (temporary) memory called the clipboard, which is accessed by applications through the defined user input (or Ctrl + C in Windows, Command + C in Mac).

However, a clipboard is stack-based. It means that every new item you copy in an operating system is stacked on top of the last item, replacing it. So, by default, most applications only allow one instance of a clip (the copied object) to be stored in the clipboard (the memory location).

This drawback is defined by some applications, in which software developers and programmers develop a clipboard manager, allowing for multiple instances of clips to be stored. For example, Microsoft Word allows up to 24 clips to be stored in the 2003 and 2007 versions.

To access the clip in the 2003 version, you can simply go to Edit à Office Clipboard to display the window. (If an icon that looks like Clipboard Icon is in the status bar, then it’s already on.)

To access the clipboard in the 2007 version, you can simply click on the clipboard button as seen below:

Clipboard Access

Clipboard Access

(Note: You have to click the tiny arrow beside it.)

And the clipboard will be shown:

Clipboard Image

Clipboard Image

For convenience, it’s easier to simply automatically have the clipboard pop-up every time you open Word. You can do this through clicking at the options button below, and checking the ‘Show Office Clipboard Automatically’ radio button.

In Vista, when you switch on Clipboard, a clipboard icon will appear in the status bar (at the bottom of your window). Double clicking it will open the clipboard window in the active Office application (i.e. Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, Groove, OneNote, etc., whichever you’ve got on top).

Clipboard in Status Bar

Clipboard in Status Bar

But, note that clipboard can only be used in the Office suite. You can’t use it for applications such as Photoshop or Fireworks.

(Obviously, the ‘trick’ is to open a Word window all times, so you can have the clipboard manager open to use. You paste it once, and copy and paste it again in your other application.)

Hope you found this useful! (Sorry, techies, this is for newbies like myself, but check out the programming sub-category in computer section, I’ll be doing some more articles when I get more proficient in programming! XD)

Share your thoughts on this post!! XD