Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Odds and Ends - And A Progress Report

I noticed a little anomaly in the sending the GPS Enable DOS window to the tray using the TrayIt application. If you set it to send the DOS window to the tray then it will do this every time you open a DOS window. You can bring it back simply by clicking on the icon in the tray. To me this isn't a real big deal because I don't use it all that often, mainly when I'm setting up and tweaking a system. If this is an issue for you, don't use the TrayIt application and leave the DOS window open when you enable GPS but since you can get the window back with a single click on the icon in the tray I can't really see why anyone would want to disable TrayIt unless they use the DOS window a lot

I started to disassemble the case to install the touch screen and then decided I still didn't like the way the system was set up. Even though I removed all the Acer bloatware, unneeded Windows programs and tweaked things up I felt strongly that I needed a better way to re-install the system when necessary. I like to do a clean install once every year or two but using the Acer system dics I made means you reinstall all the junk and have to go through the process of culling out the junk and tweaking the system which is time consuming. Also I wanted to install the Tablet PC 2005 SP3 additions which includes not only handwriting recognition apps but all speech recognition and voice control apps which I want to use with a Bluetooth headset and an embedded Bluetooth module. The Tablet PC additions can be found here

Then I used nLite and the instructions on that page to 'slipstream' the Tablet PC additions and preload most of the system drivers. nLite also allows you to tweak many parts of the system and enable/disable your Services which saves a lot of time on re-install. The trickiest part was getting and setting up the proper drivers for the SATA controller so the install doesn't hang. (XP doesn't have any native SATA drivers) That took me a couple of tries to get right so a rewritable disc is recommended. Once you get it right you can copy the rewritable image over to a regular CD for permanent storage and reloading the system. Highly recommended for culling out unneeded Services is Black Viper's website and doing this can significantly lessen the memory 'footprint' and make the system more responsive and more secure.

My main computer has an 80 MB partition with Studio 64 Linux with a 'cubed' Beryl desktop manager that I really like. This is a really efficeint way to work when you have several full screen apps going at once and each desktop can be set up seperately ... and it looks very kewl. I couldn't find a good free version for XP but I have found a couple of reasonably priced ones that I'm experimenting with. One is Think in Byte's Cube Desktop ($19.95) and the other is Otaku Software's Deskspace ($24.95) . I'm leaning towards Cube Desktop because it has a couple of more features like Flip Desktop (Like in Vista) and Window Exposer (Like Mac OS X Expo) and is 5 bucks cheaper.

So basically all I have left before I tear this down and start the touch screen install and other hardware mods is to load in all my map data, import my Fishing Log database (Open Office Base) and copy over my MP3 collection. I'm especially proud of my Fishing Log database because it is much more comprehensive than anything else I've seen and I set it up with a lot of drop down lists to make data entry easier when out on the water. Plus the last time I did any kind of work setting up databases was dBase under DOS 5.0 back in the early 90's so just getting it all to work was an adventure in and of itself. I'll upload the template to the database as soon as I figure out how and how to export and import the data. I'm still learning how to make reports to process the data. The 'learning curve' is pretty steep but the end results so far have been more than worth it and it's time to share it with interested fishermen and fisherwomen

Until next time ....

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