Dull blog

The dullest blog in the world (www.wibsite.com/wiblog/dull/) actually makes for compelling reading.

I noticed I liked the dull blog website so I opened up my Firefox web browser and added an exciting link to the dull blog to my own blog. I then pressed “Publish” and closed the browse…

MSN Messenger 7

I downloaded and installed MSN Messenger 7 Beta last night. It’s not the most stable of releases, but to be fair it is still in Beta, and the good folks at www.mess.be have kindly listed the problems they have so far encountered.

A couple of immediate responses to it:

  • This doesn’t seem to be a tremendous upgrade, which is more than a little disappointing, for an application that I use on a daily basis.
  • Messenger 7 now allows you to sign in with whichever status you want. So, for example, you could sign in as “Appear Offline”, for that totally ‘covert’ feeling.
  • The main window, showing the list of contacts, now shows your display avatar (which I only discovered the other day comes from Hinduism and refers to “the descent of a deity or released soul to earth in bodily form. So now you know!). The downside of this is that you lose some screen space for your contact list. Which is not so bad if you only have a handful of contacts, but I have 31 and I need all the space I can get.
  • Messenger still doesn’t use tabbed windows, instead still insisting on spawning window after window across your precious desktop real-estate.
  • I read that there have been only a handful of new emoticons added, but I don’t see that there have been any.
  • There is a new group of ‘winks’ that will play a sound when you send the message, and play an animation that fills the width of the conversation window. These are quite annoying! and seem to repeat more than is necessary.
  • There is a new ‘nudge’ command that will cause the recipient’s Messenger window to judder for a few seconds to attract their attention. Sounds like a good idea, but those in the know seem to think that this could be an open invitation for security breaches. We wait and see.
  • Needless to say, Messenger Plus! won’t work with this new version, but I’m sure it won’t be long before a new version emerges to enhance version 7.
  • One thing I did like was when you open a conversation window it ‘remembers’ the record of your last conversation. This is good for those conversations you have when you send a message, then close the window and when someone replies you have forgotten what you said in the first place.
  • You might imagine that one improvement might be to decrease Messenger’s memory footprint, but no! It seems that version 7, for what little more it offers takes up more than twice the memory that version 6 does. Crazy!

Right… I’m going back to MSN Messenger 6.2. It’s stable, it takes up less memory, and it works with Messenger Plus! Rant over.

Waxman chess

One of my favourite chess programs for Windows is Waxman. It’s been around since the days of the 16-bit Windows 3.x, but it still runs happily under its 32-bit cousins.

I’ve been playing version 1.4w for years, and wondered if there had been an update since that version, but Waxman seems to have dropped off the face of the internet (if indeed it was ever there to begin with). I discovered v.1.6w in a compressed .rar file, and went to the bother of installing WinRAR to allow me to access it. But I wasn’t satisfied. So I tracked down the author, and asked him about it, cheekily asking for the latest copy and whether I could distribute it on my website. To my delight he replied:

Dear (Revd) Gareth,

I’m impressed that you took the trouble to track me down. I’m also glad you like my program. I went to my archives and dug out a copy, and, wow! – there’s nothing like running an old 16-bit program on today’s 4 GHz hardware, is there?

I wouldn’t call Waxman “abandonware” yet. It is true that I’m no longer actively marketing it, but I will answer mail from people determined enough to track me down. I’m attaching the final 16-bit version (1.999w) to use or to add to your web site. Its “About” screen still refers to the now defunct PO box, etc., but that’s OK.


Ivan Bacigal
Check-Tech Software

When I’ve got some time I’ll add Waxman to my PC downloads page, and if you’re lucky I’ll also package it up in an installer.