Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Magic Iso Maker stops Win XP shutdown


Not really related to anything else on this blog, but this might be of interest to others who have the same problem I had: Windows XP (pro) would take around 5 minutes to shut down - exceptionally annoying, as you can surely imagine. 

I bought a used Dell Latitude d820 a while ago, and there was a lot amiss with this computer, including a few trojans and viruses, missing windows updates, and the shutdown problem. 

Today, I rolled up my sleeves to try and find out what was wrong with the shutdown process. The delay would come after I had seen the "shutdown/reboot"-dialog, taking a long time to remove the desktop, and then often staying in black with occasional blinks of the HD light for a few minutes before finally going to sleep.

To make  long story short, after searching for XP shutdown problems on google, I looked through my Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager for installed device drivers that I might not have a use for, and that might slow things down. Lo and behold: Magic Iso

The previous owner had installed some sort of simulated SCSI device driver, and after removing this (and the rest of Magic Iso, for good measure), Windows XP started acting the way it's supposed to! Hoo-ray! :-)

So, there you are; if you have frustratingly slow computer that refuses to shut down, and you use Magic ISO Maker, try uninstalling/disabling the driver. It might help. 

Mootools star rating; trying Rabid Ratings


I have been looking around at different javascript-based rating systems for a new web site I'm making, and I liked the look and feel av Rabid Ratings, a Mootools 1.2-based app/plugin/widget (what is the right term for a thing like this?) written byMichelle Steigerwalt.

For a change, Rabid Ratings uses hearts, not stars, as the rating graphic. What sets it a apart from other systems I've seen, though, is the use of transparent graphics with a color bar 'underneath' providing the color change effect as you mouse over to do your rating. 

Now, being a traditionalist (and a guy), I felt stars would be more appropriate for the site I'm designing, so I set about changing the graphic. Now, at this point, I got confused. Turns out, Rabid Ratings uses a large PGN set to the background color of the page, with "punched holes" that show the ratings. Instead of the graphic being set to the size of the rating symbol, the whole PNG is rather large, about 300 pixels wide, and somehow centered around the transparent rating symbols.  Thankfully, the original PSD file is included.

Once again, being a guy, I never really read the instructions properly. Michelle documented how you should change the javascript file to reflect changes made to the PNG, and there's a GIF showing what measurements of the PNG file whould be put into each variable. Did I notice this? No. I ended up hacking away at the PSD, shrinking the DIV, modifying the calculations in the js, and generally wreaking havoc on the original code to make things work. In the end, though, things turned out alright, and I got a working, 5-star rating system with MYSQL storage of results, ip checking and the full monty. 

The moral of the story: If you use Mootools and need a star rating system, check out Rabid Ratings, but as always: RTFM! :-) Now, to make the system even more foolproof, Michell might consider adding a demo using a different size/type/number of rating graphics, just to illustrate the changes necessary to make it work. Oh, and make a zip of the whole script set. That done, Rabid Ratings would be just about perfect. :-)