Blog Archives

Vista image resizer

I used to use the Windows XP powertoy “image resizer” which added a quick context menu resize ability to any image file. This was handy if I needed to quickly adjust or resize my images. Now in Vista, that ability is missing, and the powertoy from XP won’t work in Vista. So I found this Vista Image Resizer which is a free alternative. It also adds a context menu option to resize photos. And while it does work ok, I found it has a bug when resizing multiple images, if you leave the option set to resize the originals, it fails to do anything, but if you set it to make copies, then the copied images actually get resized.  This is only an issue if you have multiple photos selected and attempt to resize the originals.  Overall it’s a good replacement, and I recommend it as a replacement for the old XP powertoy.

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My favorite registry hack

Do you know how annoying it is to try to quickly open a file in Windows that should be all text and naturally you want to open it with a text editor right?  Instead of being an easy process sometimes you have to go through a few steps to pick the program you want to open the file in.  Well here is a quick registry hack that will let you import all the settings necessary to add a context menu (right click menu) item called “open with notepad” when you right click on a file.  I personally like notepad better than wordpad (out of the build-in options in Windows), however, you could substitute your own text editor of choice here and save yourself a lot of trouble.  Just copy the code below into a new notepad document and save the file (to your desktop for example) with a .reg extension.  Then double-click on the resulting .reg file and click “ok” to add the registry information to your computer (NOTE: this only works on Windows operating systems). 

Now when you right click on a file, notice you have a new option in the context menu to open with notepad.  You can customize this as I mentioned to use your own text editor, just replace the name of the menu item and the executable name of your text editor in the code below.  Naturally you need to make sure the .exe is in a set user path so Windows knows where to get it. 

———————— (Copy below this line)————————————

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellOpen with Notepad]
@=""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT*shellOpen with Notepadcommand]
@="notepad.exe %1"

————————-(copy above this line)—————————-——-

Enjoy!

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Free Light-Weight PDF Reader

I highly recommend this PDF reader.  Its light weight, less than 3MB total, its free, and works great.  It can easily let you quickly view PDF files on any Windows PC.  This is a lot better than the Adobe client which is bulky and slow.  Give it a try and speed up your PDF viewing.

LCARS24 – GUI replacement

For those of us who are Star Trek fans and like to tinker with LCARS software, check out LCARS24, can run on any Windows PC, and turns it into a LCARS interface. 

Open Source Anti-Spam for Exchange

I have been a long time user of GFI software, relevant to this post is their Mail Essentials for Exchange package.  I find it to be a very powerful and easily setup anti-spam system for Exchange.  I have had very little trouble with it, and it is packed with useful features.  However, recently I had some configuration issues with my spam setup, with rollernet really, not even an issue with Mail Essentials, but it got me thinking about my spam filtration system. 

I am now on a quest to find an open source anti-spam solution for Exchange.  I’m open to Linux based solutions as a gateway of sorts, but would prefer something that resides on the Exchange server running under Windows.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a great respect for SpamAssassin and other gateway type spam fitlers, but it gives the end user a much better experience if the anti-spam software can interact with the user, especially if it integrates with Outlook. 

Surely there must be some kind of solution out there I could try.  At the very least I might install a few different packages under Linux and route incoming mail through them, and from there go to Exchange for evaluation.  I can use server virtualization to allow for an easy evaluation of various types of configurations.  ASSP I hear is very good and there was one other package that I found last night that sounds promising.  I think it could be beneficial to have an additional layer of spam protection at the gateway level before GFI gets the messages and does its thing.  My only concern is false positives.  Lots of services and companies on the internet today do NOT have the proper DNS/MX confiugration and even at a more basic level don’t have their network setup right.  All these network issues can have a major impact on e-mail deliverability.  Its always a risk then when dealing with spam filters that you may block legitimate messages.  I am always watching spam logs to ensure that I keep an eye on how the system is doing.  If web services and companies would do a little work to get their sytems in compliance with RFS’s for SMTP and DNS, and setup the proper network configuration and mail server options, it would be a much better world for mail delivery without false positives. 

Windows Vista

I am now also evaluating Windows Vista on my multimedia computer.  I performed the ugprade yesterday and it actually worked unlike my first upgrade attempt a few weeks earlier on a different home PC.  So far its not bad, but I think I need to reload a fresh install, as some weird issues are happening, such as the games not loading when you open the shortcuts for them.  One weird thing too is that hibernate works on my multimedia PC, but not on the home PC.  I guess there is some kind of hardware difference, perhaps something on the other motherboard that prevents hibernate from working.  So far I like having Vista, it runs ok on my hardware and I haven’t had any incompatibility issues.  It does take a little getting used to and most people don’t like change, but I don’t have much trouble picking up changes in software. 

Windows Vista Upgrade failed

Last night I was trying to upgrade to Windows Vista on my main XP computer.  I was 3/4 of the way through the installer when the install screen vanished and dropped me back to the XP desktop.  XP still seemed to work, and no matter what I tried, I could not get the installer to resume.  I had no choice but to reboot, but what I didn’t know was that Vista had already copied over its boot files and screwed with the MBR on my hard drive.  So upon reboot, I get a Vista boot loader, which goes to the setup screen, but promptly throws up an error saying (not exactly sure of wording) “Windows could not initialize the installer”.  So XP was dead at this point, sure there are some ways I could have gotten it back, but I really wanted Vista to install. 

I ended up using a Knoppix 4 bootable CD and using the file managers in linux to backup my data on my XP parition to a file share on a server in my network.  After the backup was done, I wiped the partition and loaded the full install of Vista and installed fresh on the clean XP partition.  I am not sure if I am going to go with Vista or not, so I’m installing from the media with no CD key, just to use it in eval mode.  If Liz likes it and can get used to it, we might go ahead and buy the Ultimate edition upgrade.  But for now we’ll give it a try and see how it goes.  So far its running great on my hardware, but I’m a little disappointed with the performance rating of 3.7.  I have a dual core P4 3GHz chip, 2 GB of performance DDR2 RAM, and 256MB ATI X600 PCIe video card running on a nice Abit motherboard.  I was expecting to get a score near or at a 5. 

Microsoft SharedView

I recently stumbled across this awesome free beta of Microsoft Shared View.  This reminds me a lot of the Windows Live Meeting client, it has the same basic look to it, same type of toolbar at the top of the screen, but its a more cut down version that seems easier to use.  It does NOT have as many advanced features, but would be very handy for a variety of uses.  Right now its in a free beta stage, and hopefully it will remain a free service. 

My wife does digitial photograpgy, so this could be extremely useful for her when doing photo demo’s for clients.  With this application she could share a folder of pictures or her graphics programs and let customers see real time what she is doing.  This opens up a whole range of options for her for allowing clients to see what she is working on for them, and to interact more with them in deciding in exactly what they might want without having a need for a physical presence.

Using local GPO templates in Windows Vista

One of the things I found tricky about switching to Windows Vista was setting up local GPO Settings.  I opened gpedit.msc and was intentionally trying to add a .adm file for Office Communicator 2007.  I tried everything I knew how to get the .adm file to show up in gpedit, but I couldn’t figure it out.  I tried copying the communicator.adm file to C:windowsinf and C:WindowsPolicy Files and nothing worked.  I even ran across an article on converting .adm files to .admx format for Windows Vista using the ADMX Migrator.  When I tried to convert the file, I got 126 errors and decided that this may not be the way to go.  Finally I found an article on how to add the legacy file format and get the job done.  Its actually already capable of loading the legacy .adm file locally, and here is how to do it…

1. Open gpedit.msc
2. Expand either computer configuration or user configuration
3. Right-click on the Administrative Templates folder and select “Add/remove templates”.
4. Browse for the .adm file you wish to load and select it for opening.

You now have the .adm file loaded and you can then make changes and configure the policy settings.  Also I’d suggest turning off the User Access control option (under control panel > User Accounts) so that you don’t have 500 prompts from Vista asking if you are sure you want to do stuff.  How annoying!  🙂

Problems with Category Access

I’ve been running 0.8.2 of the category-access plugin by David Coppit for a few weeks now and its been working fine on the web interface of WordPress.  I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had a chance to post anything to my blog in a while, so I hadn’t used any of my windows apps to post to WordPress.  Upon trying I found that I got some error messages relating to XML parsing. 

w.bloggar and blogdesk would generate this error:

“Unable to parse the XML response.  Parser Reason: Only one top level element is allowed in an XML document.”

BlogJet would generate this error:

Invalid payload received from xml-rpc server.  Please check your host and page settings for this account.  Server said: “,br/> <b>Fatal Error<b>: Call to a member function on a non-object in <b>/home/myaccountname/public_html/mybloglocation/wp-content/plugins/category-access.php</b> on line <b>373</b><br/>…”

Disabling the category-access plugin corrected the issue and I was then able to blog with my windows apps.  I sent the information to David via e-mail and also made a post on the wordpress forums to help anyone else that might be using category-access.  Its a great plugin and does exactly what I want, with only a few minor things lacking.  For now I’ve left the plugin disabled, but plan to re-enable if David comes up with a fix.