Category Archives: tools

Cleaning Up the Explorer ‘New’ Menu

If you are using your Windows machine for a while, it is inevitable that you install a whole bunch of Software. Especially a developer machine might end up with a lot of application and tools, you use for work or evaluation. This is the first article in a series of steps how to clean up your Windows machine, and to optimize your personal workflow.

Some tool that come with support for a particular file extension might extend the Windows Explorer ‘New’ sub menu. In my case I currently ended up with about 20 entries, while I regularly use only two or three of them. Most if them I barely touch. To minimize noise and to speed up your personal workflow you might want to get rid of some of them and renaming others. E.g. all Office documents are usually prefixed with ‘Microsoft’ while you might just want to see them as ‘Word Document’  or ‘Excel Document’.

Insert New Menu

 

To modify these entries, you eventually would use the Registry Editor. Each entry is located in the registry using its own key at:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.[fileExtension]ShellNew

However, maintaining this list is rather time-consuming task and no fun at all.  After some investigation I found a very nice freeware tool called ShellMenuNew from NirSoft that eventually does the job for you. It’ is a small tool which does not need to be installed and can be used straight away.

ShellMenuNew

By right-clicking any of the entries you can select ‘Disable Selected Menu Items’. Once you open up the ‘New’ submenu in Windows Explorer the menu should be look much tidier.

In case you change your mind, you can always start ShellMenuNew again and enable the file extensions again. The tool worked nicely on my x64 Windows 7. Regarding the author’s website it should also work on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/2008, and Windows Vista. Solved this task,  the renaming of the entries is still pending.

Modified Windows Explorer 'New' File Menu

Also here a small freeware tool comes in handy. Default Programs Editor provides a set of functionality to edit file type settings, autoplay settings and default programs settings. Also this tool can be sued straight away and does not need any installation.

Default Programs Editor

Default Programs Editor lets you easily change any kinds of associations with respect to files extension. Using the ‘File Type Settings’ you can select the ‘Description’, search for the file type you want to rename and finally change the file type description.

Using those two tools it is possible to minimize noise in your working environment without hacking the registry manually.

Quickstart with AWStats and IIS 7

AWStats is a free, Perl-based analyzer for log files. To get results quickly on a Windows Server 2008 with IIS 7 you only have to follow a few steps. These are not well documented in the AWStats documentation and require some time of research. This post will show you how to set up AWStats with IIS7 in only a few minutes.

  1. Install Perl, e.g. ActivePerl. There are 32-bit and 64-bit versions available. Make sure that Perl is added to your PATH environmental variable. The ActivePerl installer usually provides this option during the installation.
  2. Install AWStats. Remember the path AWStats is installed. Paths used below are based on the installation folder of AWStats. In this example we use c:awstats.
  3. Run the configuration script at c:\awstatstoolsawstats_configration.pl. Follow the on screen instructions. This will create a default configuration file in c:\awstatswwwrootcgi-bin e.g. called awstats.www.example.org.config. The site name www.example.org depends on whatever site name was provided while running the script. When asked for the Apache Web server path type in none.AWStats Configuration File
  4. Open the configuration file awstats.www.example.org.config with any text editor of your choice.
  5. AWStats already supports IIS, however, it is required to tweak the config file. First change the entry for LogFile. Log files for IIS might be found at c:inetpublogsLogFilesW3SVCNNN where NNN is a different number for each web site, IIS creates log files for. Change the entry toLogFile=”c:awstatstoolslogresolvemerge.pl c:inetpublogsLogFilesW3SVC1*.log |”

    This will merge all log files for a site provided by IIS. Adjust the paths corresponding to your installations and desired log file folders.

  6. The AWStats configuration file offers the possibility to set the LogFormat to IIS (LogFormat=2), however, the log entries provided by a standard installation of IIS 7 won’t match. The AWStats documentation recommends to change the settings of IIS. The change will take effect only after restarting the Web site and is only valid for entries after that particular moment. Consequently, this is not an option if you are going to analyze the logs of the last 12 months where the original settings were used. To make AWStats work with the standard log format of IIS 7 change the LogFormattoLogFormat=”%time2 %other %method %url %other %query %other %host %other %code % %other %other %bytesd”
  7. Change SiteDomain and HostAliases to meet the settings of your site.
  8. Change to c:awstatswwwrootcgi-binand runawstats.pl -config=www.example.org

    This will build the statistics database for AWStats.

  9. To create output runawstats.pl -config=www.example.org –output –staticlinks > …example_org_stats.html
  10. Not that example_org_stats.html is created one folder up. In case you do miss this, the output will not work correctly until you adapt the entries for DirCgi and DirIcons in the configuration file.
  11. The output file is now located in c:awstatswwwroot. You might want to create a Virtual Directory or set up a Web site to view the reports via the Web or your Intranet.AWStats Output

Repeat steps 3-7 fore each site you want to create reports for. Repeat step 8 and 9 every time you want to create a new report.

f.lux Compensator

Not really a productivity tool, but apparently some tool that makes working all day long on the screen much more convenient.

“f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again”

f.lux adjusts the color temperature of your display to the time of the day. It ranges from 6500 Kelvin during daylight to 3400 Kelvin during the night. Give it a try, downloads are available for Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X and Linux (glibc6).

f.lux

ZoomIt

ZoomIt (by Mark Russinovich), a classic tool for presenting. Quite lightweight with few but good options. The zoom capability allows you to zoom into the area of the screen where the mouse points to. The draw and type capability allows to draw and type on your screen. Way cool if you are using a Tablet PC, though. Finally, the Break function is a countdown. Nice for speakers this one comes with a few nifty functions such as playing a sound and displaying a custom background image.

ZoomIt

And no, it’s not a tool only for evangelists giving talks in large lecture theaters. It also comes quite handy in meetings and presentations within the team and in front of customers.

GScroll

In case you are using the HTC Touch Pro or DHTC Touch Diamond, get your hands on the demo version of GScroll. Simply copy the .cab file to your device and start it from there. It runs for five minutes only, but this should be enough to convince you to get this tool.

It makes use of two of the built-in sensors of your HTC Touch Diamond/Pro to navigate in applications. The nice but less useful one to the Tap & Tilt functionality. Double-tab the center wheel and tilt the device to navigate within your applications. The more interesting one is the Swipe control.

Swipe

By swiping your finger over the buttons you can navigate left/right and up/down. This becomes very handy e.g. using the photo and video collections. Using the touch screen there often causes the touch screen to recognize the swiping as a tap, opening the photo. Also navigating within Windows folders becomes quite comfortable.

A further feature is to assign the buttons to additional programs. However, this means not by pressing the button. It means by tipping the buttons. Once, I received the device I was quite frustrated to have only limited buttons on the device, compared to my previous devices.

How does it work: The device has not only the resistive touchscreen, the button panel is also a capacitive sensor which causes in fact that the navigation wheel works.

With a price of $4.99, there is no reason to support those guys in buying a copy.

Link: http://www.mobilesrc.com/GScroll.aspx

Creative Commons Add-In for Office 2007

The Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office 2007 allows you to embed Creative Commons licenses directly into PowerPoint, Word as well as Excel.

“This add-in enables you to embed a Creative Commons license into a document that you create using Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, or Microsoft Office Excel. With a Creative Commons license, authors can express their intentions regarding how their works may be used by others. The add-in downloads the Creative Commons license you designate from the Creative Commons Web site and inserts it directly into your creative work.”

Once installed, you’ll find a new tab at your ribbon called Creative Commons. The License button allows you to create a new license for the document.

Creative Commons License Add-in

For me, it was always a pain to browse through the CC licenses to find the appropriate one. The add-in allows you to step through all options:

Select license type dialog

Allow commercial uses dialog

Allow modification dialog

Jurisdiction dialog

Finally, you select the license and assign it to the document. Visuals will be added automatically by the add-in and the license is then downloaded fro the CC web site.

Add/remove license functionality

Added license

Quite nice add-in that gives you some boost in productivity, especially when you deal often with Word and PowerPoint documents you hand out to the public.

Delicious Add-on Update

This morning, I was pleasantly surprised by this message box! Especially the first point was quite annoying. Using multiple machines for development I am using the Delicious add-on to share my bookmarks among the different computers.

New Delicious Add-On

In detail we got the following fixes:

1) Fixes problem where bookmarks are sometimes not saved in the user’s Delicious account.
2) Fixes problem with bookmarks not working from long toolbar menus.
3) Edit bookmark dialog now extends vertically to show all users from your Network.
4) Improvements to tag suggestion functionality when saving bookmarks

First Impressions on Google Chrome

Google Chome is out:

“Google Chrome is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.”

It looks very lightweight, though. Reminds me to the early beginnings of Netscape and Internet Explorer. It gives you the impression that it’s quite fast. However, during rendering it looks a bit like Safari.

Google Chrome

For some pages that look quite nice in Firefox and Internet Explorer, rendering also behaves a bit odd. So, is this one more browser we have to test our Web application against?

Messed Up Rendering in Google Chrome

One feature provided is the creation of application shortcuts on your desktop that will open the Web site in its own, plain window. Very nice but failed several times when I tried. not sure if it’s worth switching from Firefox or Internet Explorer.

Source: http://www.google.com/chrome

Take-Away Tools

Dana Coffey created a list of 25 tools you might also helpful. Nice list, though.

“With traveling and use of many different computers, many geeks (and geek girls) often find a need to have a uniform set of tools handy wherever we may be. I’ve put together a list of 25 invaluable portable apps that can be installed on an Ipod or Thumb Drive. These are really cool!”

Synthing Your Photos

Since Photosynth was announced the very first time, I was keen to try out this technology. Finally, Photosynth became public and you can create your own synths.

After installing the Browser plug-in you select “Create your Synth” on the Photosynth Web site.

Microsoft Live Labs - Photosynth

To sign in you’ll need a Windows Live account – probably you have a messenger account. You’ll start a synth by selecting a set of photos.

Photosynth - Start new synth dialog

The dialog is quite self-evident. Don’t forget to select the license you want to use for the synth. That’s quite important as each and every synth is public available.

Photosynth - Create synth dialog

Select “Synth” and then just wait…

Photosynth - Generating synth dialog

You’ll probably get a good “synthy” rate.

Photosynth - Synth completed dialog

And that’s what you finally get:

Source: http://www.photosynth.net/