Archives for: "August 2009"

Twitter down due to denial of service attack

Looks like Twitter is being DoSed, I've got tweets waiting to go up!

Good timing as I've got a new plugin that automatically posts to Twitter when I make a new blog entry. Which now can't be tested. Great. Although mainly I'm worried about Catherine, how will she manage without Twitter!?

Oh well Twitter had pretty good uptime this year, suppose it couldn't last forever.

Clearest image of Betelgeuse yet

Astronomers have a fairly good rule of thumb for identifying planets and stars. We say planets appear as a disc, while stars always appear as a point of light.

While being good generally, there are a few exceptions, obviously we can see the Sun has a disc as its so close to us compared to other stars. And assuming you have a large telescope, something like the Very Large Telescope in Chile, you can resolve about a dozen other stars as discs, R Doradus is one of the larger ones and so is Betelgeuse, the bright star in Orion's shoulder. Here's the new image taken by the telescope, I've drawn on Earth and Jupiter's orbit to give a sense of scale.

Betelgeuse compared with Earth and Jupiter orbits

Over the 20 years or so we've been able to see the disc of Betelgeuse, we've noticed its shrunk in diametre by about 75 million kilometres. Discovered in the image above is the halo of gas surrounding the star. Confirming what many have suspected, its getting on in years and has started its collapse, meaning it could go supernova within a few thousand years, ideally it'll go supernova in about 6 months time - but I doubt I'm that lucky. When it does it'll be visible in daylight for weeks and at its peak it'll be brighter than the Moon.

How to show text labels on Windows 7 Taskbar icons

One of the major changes in Windows 7, is the new Taskbar. By default it looks something a little like this:

Windows 7 Taskbar

Now if you're like me, and would rather it make better use of onscreen real estate you can stop the icons from combining (although to be fair I do use the default setting on my Tablet PC and my netbook), and turn on text labels again, that'll make it look more like this:

Windows 7 Taskbar with labels enabled

Personally I not only find that option more attractive, but when you've got a dozen or so explorer windows open, trying to access them all off one icon, isn't a pleasent experience. By making this change you can break out seperate windows, back into seperate objects on the Taskbar, like how it behaved in the past.

Making this change is pretty simple.

  1. Right-click an empty area of the Taskbar
  2. Select Properties from the Menu
  3. Using the drop down box next to Taskbar buttons select Combine when taskbar is full

Taskbar and Start Menu Properties

Selecting Never Combine, will make the Taskbar wrap around onto a second 'page' requiring you to scroll up and down to access different icons, and isn't something I recommend.

From here you can also change the Taskbar to use small icons, which will make it the same height as the old Taskbar were by default.

Windows 7 E editions binned

In light of developments last week, regarding Windows 7 using a browser ballot screen to select a browser, Microsoft have now announced they're planning to scrap the E versions of Windows 7.

We have now decided to alter that launch plan. In the wake of last week’s developments, as well as continuing feedback on Windows 7 E that we have received from computer manufacturers and other business partners, I’m pleased to report that we will ship the same version of Windows 7 in Europe in October that we will ship in the rest of the world.

If the Commission accepts our recent proposal, we would then fully implement all of its terms. As proposed, we would use the Internet to deliver a ballot screen update to customers who purchase Windows 7 in the European Economic Area, either as part of a PC or as a retail upgrade product.

One reason we decided not to ship Windows 7 E is concerns raised by computer manufacturers and partners. Several worried about the complexity of changing the version of Windows that we ship in Europe if our ballot screen proposal is ultimately accepted by the Commission and we stop selling Windows 7 E. Computer manufacturers and our partners also warned that introducing Windows 7 E, only to later replace it with a version of Windows 7 that includes IE, could confuse consumers about what version of Windows to buy with their PCs.

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