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 16, 2006
jesus christ, dude!
Category: Miscellany

Um, can anybody tell me the point of last night's "South Park" episode? Have I missed some deeper meaning there, was it simply a twist on sports films, or did Matt and Trey just have an incredibly bad day? 'Cause Jesus Christ, dude -- that was sad! No... hope... no... hope... 😥

-posted by Wes | 3:32 am | Comments (4)
November 14, 2006
fuck you, oprah
Category: Audio

Okay, I was just going to write about this, but then I figured what the heck and decided to do an impromptu AUDIO POST about the ridiculousness and insensitivity of the bit that I caught from today's Oprah episode. There is some bad language (nothing terribly graphic, though), so you might want to turn your speakers down or cover the ears of small children in the vicinity or not listen to this at work.

Wes rambles on for 3:30 (minutes and seconds!) on November 14, 2006

I should clarify my comments in the audio post and say that I can understand why someone would want to interview this guy, but not within the context of a daytime talk show (except to provide more sensationalized crap for the Stepford Wives crowd, which was obviously Oprah's motive). For example, if one were performing some scholarly research the nature of mental illness crimes, I can definitely see interviewing this guy. The rotten kinds of questions that Oprah asked, however, would still probably be off-limits. Good lord.

I have also found that, oddly enough, placing the microphone behind my chair -- as opposed to on my desk in front of me -- helps to reduce the amount of noise in the recording. It has little effect on noise from barking dogs in the background, however. 🙂

-posted by Wes | 6:07 pm | Comments (8)
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)
November 5, 2006
Dreams of Mark, Bianca, and Teresa
Category: Dreams … Fiction?

Do you ever think that perhaps our dreams take place in some legitimate reality separate from our waking lives? Certainly not all of them, mind you, as some dreams pretty clearly issue from the subconscious thoughts of the user, but then there are others (at least with me) that seem too real and "normal" to stem from the dreamer's unconscious mind -- for example, dreams in which the dreamer explores distant locales or experiences things for which he/she has no extensive frame of reference, or dreams in which the dreamer meets with people he/she has never met in real life and who do not have appropriate waking counterparts. I'm fairly sure that Omni has written about this at some point or another. (And if you happen to read this, Omni, do link us to those specific posts. Thanks!)

I think about this often, but I was thinking about it again because I just woke up from another dream featuring three characters that -- I think -- have appeared several times in my recent dreams. I write "I think" because they may just as well have only appeared in this one dream (though I semi-distinctly remember dreaming about them on one other occasion), but upon meeting them I recalled multiple instances during which I had encountered them before. I have memories of events in my dreams that elude me in real life.

In these particular dreams, I encounter three characters. All of the dreams begin with me visiting Mark (also known as Marco/Marke/Mael) in his home. I do not know Mark in real life, nor can I think of anyone for whom Mark might be an analogue, but he appears to be a good friend in my dreams -- or at least a good enough friend for me to visit him on a regular basis. However, I hardly ever speak to Mark, as most of my dialogue is carried out with his personal "physician", who is always present and answers my questions to Mark in greater detail. For example, if I ask how Mark is feeling, he might respond, "Much better," whereupon the woman tending to him will launch into a detailed explanation of his physical progress over the past week. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 3:19 am | Comments (4)