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Entries in category: Computing

Defrag conference 2009 logoThe past year I've been speaking at several both large and small conferences in Norway, but this month I also went abroad to speak at the Defrag social technology conference in Denver, Colorado. This conference is one of the most interesting I have attended, so to share my experience I've written this piece about the experiences and insights that I got out of Defrag.

Now if you'd like to start off by getting an impression of what went on during the conference before I get into my analysis, then go have a look at the Defrag 2009 liveblog that Graeme Thickins did throughout the event. Another good starting point is to look at the twitter-talk that took place with the #defrag and #defragcon hash-tags, which is all documented at Defrag's EventVue page. Finally there is a guerilla video stream covering most of the conference that were being created and put online by ReussDesign. My talk on open data was also filmed by Reuss and can be found about 12 minutes into the recording titled "Defrag Conference Clip 4".

Twitter logoSince I started using Twitter last year I've been especially annoyed with one thing, and that is the arbitrary length limit on the real name field in settings. The field is limited to 20 characters, but my full name unfortunately is 21 characters including spaces. This means that I've had to either truncate part of my name or remove the spacing between my first and last names, neither of which are good solutions when considering one of the main reason for having the real name field at all, namely search engine findability.
As can be seen from the forums at Get Satisfaction, I'm far from the only one having a problem with this, but despite this there isn't any satisfaction to get as Twitter themselves are dead silent on the issue. Luckily I have now discovered a work-around for this limit, published here for the benefit of all those with a "long" name of more than 20 characters!

My GravatarWhen launching this blog I started out using Disqus for the comments functionality as it seemed a good choice that would be more interactive than regular comments. However I soon discovered its many downsides, including a lack of search-indexing and the instabilities caused by having the comments section generated in Javascript, which currently is the only option when using their Movable Type plugin. There is a v2.0 plugin for Wordpress that avoids these downsides, but there has not been any word from Disqus on whether a v2.0 plugin for MT is forthcoming. Due to this I have now returned to the regular MT comment-system.

However I still wanted users to get neat avatars next to their comments, and the easiest way I found to do this was to add support for the Gravatar user-pic service and Favicons to my comment-listings. Adding them was very straightforward as there are ready made Movable Type plugins for both, except of course that neither of the Gravatar-plugins worked. *Sigh*
After some research it turned out that the Gravatar-supplied plugin is outdated and also only supports Movable Type versions pre-3.0, and the MT supplied plugin only supports MT 4.0 or later. Combine this gap in supported versions with Murphy's Law, and it is just obvious that I still had to be using MT 3.3. I did upgrade to MT 4.x once, but it caused so many problems for me so didn't keep it for long, and attempting that upgrade again was not an option right now as I just don't have the time to get it working properly.

That leaves the option of hacking the plugin! Yay! With no plugin-documentation to be found and me never having toyed with MT-plugins before, the task naturally stumped me a bit at first. However I figured out soon enough how to get it working, so for anyone else having the same problem I hereby present you with the updated Movable Type 3.3 Gravatar plugin! Enjoy :-)

And now all that remains is for my readers to get their own Gravatars. Go fetch!

Folder iconAfter a recent defrag of my harddrive it suddenly became excruciatingly slow to browse 'My Computer' and other folders with Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) in Windows XP. Sometimes just opening a regular folder with a few files in it would take more than 5 minutes, as well as having explorer.exe hang and be not responding. As none of my other applications were noticeably affected it really had me stumped as to why a regular defrag would cause such a slowdown for folder-browsing, until I discovered that browsing was still near instantaneous when using other file-explorers like Total Commander. Relieved that it wasn't a problem with my drive but likely just a bug in Windows Explorer I set out to find a fix that would bring it back to its old self, but that was easier said than done, and I spent several days searching and experimenting with various fixes.

Apparently many people are having problems with Windows Explorer being slow, and for a host of different reasons too. Most commonly I found the obvious suggestions to run windows update, antivirus, antispyware, defrag and chkdisk, as this will commonly fix the performance and many common issues that crop up on computers that are not kept and maintained by professionals. The next step is to improve performance by adjusting the Folder Options in Explorer. Good tips here are to disable the automatic search for network folders and printers, as well as using simple folder view and to not cache thumbnails. But it didn't make any difference and explorer was still just as slow afterwards. Then I downloaded and ran CCleaner to do a full systems checkup and registry cleaning, and I also removed all recent network paths from my "Network Neighbourhoood" as these things also appear to cause many slowdowns too. Still none of these suggestions made any difference. A thread at Google Answers hinted to NeroVision Express as a possible culprit, but I didn't have that installed of course.

Finally I stumbled across a Techspot thread describing how you by logging in as a different administrator user and deleting the folder "c:\documents and settings\<username>\local settings\application data\microsoft\windows", can fix the problem of extremely slow browsing in Explorer, and this actually worked!
It seems that something had corrupted that part of my windows user profile, but deleting the folder and inducing an automatic recreation of it on the next login fixed all of the problems I was experiencing. Another good thing to come out of this is that all the other tweaks has made the rest of my computer faster too :-)