Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 23, 2006
a public service announcement
Category: Linkage

Laptop users, have you ever wanted to turn off your monitor without closing the lid? I don't mean setting the timer in the power options properties -- I mean simply turning the thing off via a keyboard shortcut or, at the very least, a system tray icon. I have been wanting to do this ever since I got the machine (back in the old days, I simply would have pressed the monitor button), and now and again I have gone on little searches of the web to see if I can find a utility that will let me do just that. Until tonight, all of those searches were failures. I have no idea why these programs are so hard to find -- you'd think that a whole heap of people would want to do this! So many, in fact, that you'd expect Windows to have a default shortcut key for just that function. If there is, I have not found it yet.

What I found tonight, however, is a utility that will finally let me do what I've been wanting to do for ages. Granted, my search probably would've gone a little better if I'd been willing to pay for this functionality, as there are several programs (Softany Monitor Control came up most frequently during my searches) that will give you the ability to manually turn off your monitor for a fee ($16.95 for the Softany program). Alas, I hate paying for computer programs -- especially when they're for things that I should already be able to do for free! So I've been searching and searching and searching.

In the end -- at last -- I found three programs that are up to the task, though only one (at least thus far) is my preferred program of choice.

First, there's Tooler 1.00. This one would have been effective, except when I turned the monitor back on by moving the mouse or pressing a key, there would be this weird little window active in the upper left-hand corner that sometimes needed to be closed manually. Otherwise this tiny tool would have been perfect, but I decided to do a bit more searching first. Had I not found another program, however, I would've gone with this.

Then, thanks to a forum post in a thread, I stumbled onto NirCmd, a command-line tool that, among many other things, will let users create a shortcut to turn off the freaking monitor, which is all I really wanted to do. Admittedly, you'd have to know a little bit about creating shortcuts and using said tools (which takes us back to the good ol' DOS days) before using this program -- which could be a bit daunting for some -- but that wasn't my main problem. No, my problem was that while the monitor turned off just fine, I had absolute HELL getting it to come back on. When I tried, it did this weird flickery thing and get dim and then my computer started beeping and I'm not sure what the hell happened, but once my screen came back I promptly deleted that program, rebooted the computer, and ran a registry scan (since it modifies registry values -- I wonder if something conflicted with my custom settings?) to remove any lingering issues. NirCmd may work better for you, though, so feel free to give it a try.

Ultimately, however, I opted to go with ShutdownTray, which (thus far, anyway) does exactly what I need it to do with no freakish or annoying side effects. It sits in my systray and can be activated with a simple right click, and it allowed me to set up a keyboard shortcut with the greatest of ease. Now, by pressing Ctrl+Alt+M (for monitor!), I can turn off the screen and give it a rest while I do other things. I will say, however, that after I first used it the screen turned back on for no reason several minutes later. Subsequent tries have not yielded the same effect, so I suspect that I inadvertently jostled the desk, thereby causing the mouse to move and wake up the screen. Apparently some of the paid programs have settings that automatically decrease mouse sensitivity when the screen is off -- which would be ideal, as then it would take a deliberate effort to bring the picture back -- but we'll see how I do with this free tool first. Seems to be effective so far!

Hopefully now someone using the Google to find a good, free program that turns off the monitor will end up here at some point and give ShutdownTray a try. And hopefully this post has been of use to some of my readers. Or at least I hope it has been interesting! I dunno. Anyway, ja ne. 🙂

-posted by Wes | 1:14 am | Comments (5)
November 6, 2006
Wacky World Land
Category: Books … Linkage … TV, Film, & DVDs

You know, I wonder if somehow having a comment spam filter attracts spam comments. I mean, WordPress and Akismet appear to do a really good job of catching them, but I never got this many spam messages back on the old Blog of Wes. (There's no sense in reading the old page since I ported all of the old entries over to here, but if you're interested you can take a gander at the old layout :)) Perhaps the programs are lying, in order to exaggerate their performance and effectiveness!

Aaaand on a note somewhat related to that last comment, VOTE TOMORROW! Assuming that you have not already. I'm planning to vote Democratic across the board... and it really sucks that I feel like I have to do that, but I think that's the extent to which the political scene has been polarized as of late. And have you seen some of the Republican National Committee advertisements for this campaign? They're like weird fake campaign ads on a sketch comedy show! Insanity.

Also, given yesterday's international news, I totally want to read this book. Could be interesting!

The Prestige is pretty good stuff, by the way. A lot of the reviews that I've read have called it a challenging and confusing film, but I honestly didn't get any of that -- it seemed fairly easy to understand to me, especially since it goes out of its way to explain the twist ending at the end, replete with flashbacks. Anyway, I wouldn't call it a masterpiece (I probably couldn't rank it among even my top 20 or 30 favorite films, though I'd certainly add it to my DVD collection for $7.50 or less), but it's definitely a great film and makes for a good theater experience. It's certainly the best movie I've seen at the cinema this year! But then, the only other movies I've seen thus far are V for Vendetta and Silent Hill, so that's not saying too much.

Finally, the latest Neurotically Yours cartoon from Ill Will Press -- entitled "Useless Software" -- is quite funny. "It all just says pissed off and a date next to it!" Go watch. 🙂

-posted by Wes | 1:33 pm | Comments (3)
October 16, 2006
Money from Nigeria!
Category: Linkage

Either I rarely get these or they usually get sent directly to my spam folder, but I received one of those Nigerian money scam e-mails in my inbox today! The odd thing about this one, though, is that it doesn't ask for my bank account info -- only for an initial reply -- as apparently we'd have to go through a multi-step process that culminates in diplomats delivering the money to my doorstep. I'm almost tempted to reply to see how that would play out! Perhaps they'd use my name and address and any other information they require for identity theft purposes... or perhaps something far more sinister is afoot.

Also interesting is the letter's signature, which reads:

Prof.Charles Soludo
Governor Central Bank Of Nigeria.

Now, being me, I wondered if Professor Charles Soludo actually a real person, so I went to Wikipedia... and behold! There is, in fact, a Professor Soludo, and he is indeed the Governor of the Board of Directors for the Central Bank of Nigeria. I wonder if he knows that people are using his name in spam scam schemes...

Okay, I just Googled Soludo's name and came across 419.bittenus.com, a page that details a whole bunch of scams. Apparently the lengthy process that is supposed to culminate in MONEY AT THE DOOR requires the payee to pay a whole bunch of fees that sometimes exceed thousands of dollars. Sometimes the payees are also convinced to travel to Africa in order to complete the deals, where they are murdered. Horrific!

Speaking of horrific...

Police: Mom Uses Baby As Weapon To Hit Boyfriend

It's like something out of a Bloodlust Software game! I am totally going to make myself a pair of toy babychuks now. IT'S NINJA TIME!!! 😀

-posted by Wes | 5:39 pm | Comments (0)
September 26, 2006
Body odor will be exterminated!
Category: Linkage

MORE DALEKS

I couldn't resist. An official shower gel-filled Dalek will be mine!

In other news, Bill Clinton freaking rocks, as the folks at Sore Thumbs have aptly summed up in this comic. He's f**king Bill Clinton, fool.

-posted by Wes | 6:59 pm | Comments (8)
September 4, 2006
Then they will hiss and rip your limbs off.
Category: Fiction? … Linkage … SC Updates

Something really strange and sad happened on Friday that I want to write about shortly, but in the meantime I thought I'd note that part 3 of The Absolute Strangest Christmas Story Ever Told is up on Scary-Crayon. Here's my favorite excerpt:

Be careful down there! I hear that there are ill-tempered spiders in the darkness... black, richly furred creatures as big as cats and that scurry about heavily on legs as thick as the poles of street signs, which they never have cause to obey because there are no roads, paved or unpaved, that run through the lowermost sections of old library buildings. The eyes of these fearsome spiders glow red with menace and bloodlust, but I hear that, if you bring them jack-o-lantern shaped pails filled to the brim with sugar, they will cease their demonic machinations long enough to allow you to pet them (I hear their fur, though evil, as it grows from their fat, vicious arachnid bodies, is quite soft and pleasing to the touch). Then they will hiss and rip your limbs off. So again, I warn you -- be careful! Bring lots of cloth bandages and a cell phone, for you'll have to call someone by pressing the keys with your tongue after the spiders thoroughly feasted on your severed appendages. Having a friend with a wheelbarrow on the speed dial wouldn't hurt -- which is good, because you'll be in enough pain as it is.

I've also been pretty into paper crafts lately following my ongoing Dalek-making project, so here's a semi-neat one I came across involving an optical illusion dragon. I made two. The reality doesn't fool me at all (though it is a cool model), but the interesting thing is that when I filmed it with my digicam, the illusion totally works in the video. But then, I can't see magic eye puzzles either. Note that while this page attempts to provide an explanation -- not for this particular problem, but for Spy Kids 3D and 3D-type stuff in general -- that the illusion works when viewed by the camera's monocular lense seems to debunk it. It's also worth noting that the illusion failed for me even when I wore my glasses.

Alrighty then. Ja ne!

-posted by Wes | 5:48 am | Comments (4)
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