Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Moving on, Trying to Leave a Clean House

Well, today is the six month anniversary of Greasy PC. While I'm slightly surprised that this blog has lasted this long, the real achievement to me has been to average slightly more than one post per day for the entire duration. At almost 200 posts, that might even be the most number of blog posts made of any of my friends IRL, and some of them have maintained blogs/livejournals for years and years.

In truth, in addition to wanting to document all the various tweaks and customizations I've put into my computer over the past year, I also did this blog to prove to myself that I can commit to a project wholeheartedly and consistently over a long period of time. I hadn't worked on any of my own long term projects in God knows how long, but of what I've done on this blog I truly am proud.

In the interest of full disclosure, one of the reasons now's a better time than any for me to cash out, is because a week ago, I got myself an iMac. I know.

This was a purchase I'd been gunning for for months now. As an animator working in films, I'd always made great use of my PC. However, when it became more and more necessary for me to have access to Final Cut Pro and its codecs, my need for a new machine pointed me in the iMac's direction. It was the best option for the price (I might blog about that in the future still).

Don't worry though, I still love my PC. I've got Bootcamp successfully running Windows XP on the iMac (it runs Team Fortress 2 far better than my old PC did), and I've got Synergy allowing me to control both my mac and PC with the same keyboard and mouse over the network. I even recently successfully transferred my Firefox profile from the PC to the Mac.

So where does that leave us? Well, I'm making no promises, but I may turn out a few more posts here and there about making the smooth transition from using a PC to a Mac. Also, I'm going to try my best to organize this blog to stand the test of time: making sure all posts are tagged properly, creating some static "favorite" pages, and otherwise making it even easier for stublers-on to find what they're looking for.

So don't worry, Greasy PC will be greasing it up indefinitely. In the meantime though, hope to see you around on my other endeavors; you can always check my official site, which I'm hoping to update now that I've got a little more free time. Otherwise, good luck to everyone, and see you around!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Copy and Import Firefox Profiles, Settings, Extensions, Bookmarks, the Manual Way

A few days ago I featured MozBackup, as a simple way to backup, copy, import, and export Mozilla application profiles (Firefox, Thunderbird, etc). Unfortunately, I also lamented the fact that MozBackup was its own application that needed to be installed in all the PC's you want to import from/export to. It also unfortunately wasn't compatible with OSX, when cross-platform compatibility was one of the most important features of Mozilla's apps.

Well, today I'll show you how to transfer your Firefox profiles from one computer to another manually, without much hassle. Doing this works without having to install any external programs, and also works on OSX.

First of all, locate your Firefox profile folder. On Windows XP machines, it can be found here:

C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Mozilla

On Vista machines, the address is:


In that folder, you'll see another folder called Profiles, as well as a file called profiles.ini. 

To copy your profile to another computer running Firefox, copy that profile folder as well as the profiles.ini file to the same location in the new computer. If you're transferring to a Mac, the location is

\Library>Application Support>Firefox

And with that, just copy the old Profiles folder and the profiles.ini file, delete the other Profiles folder, and you're done!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Better Youtube Firefox Extension Now Firefox 3 Compatible

I never got around to talking about the Better Youtube Extension when I first got it, but it's one of the extensions I've kept installed through these past few months, offering minor but useful tweaks to the Youtube web interface that makes the experience just a little bit more tolerable (for ways to make Facebooking equally so, check out our recent feature series).

Anyway, the Better Youtube extension was one of the extensions that didn't quite immediately make it to Firefox 3's safe zone, and when for some reason Firefox 3 stopped letting me keep old extensions on regardless of whether it thought they were compatible or not, Better Youtube was one of the only ones that couldn't come back on.

Well, today the fine folks behind this extension have updated it to be Firefox 3 compatible. And with that, I'm happy to say that all of my extensions are now up to code! How are yours?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Backup, Restore, Import/Export Firefox and Thunderbird Profiles with MozBackup (Review)

Mozbackup is a very simple freeware app to backup up your Firefox and Thunderbird profiles, and restoring them or exporting them to another computer.

(photo courtesy of official site)
It imports everything from your saved passwords, bookmarks, browsing history, and even extensions, AND, in the case of Thunderbird, also your emails and contacts.

To use, install Mozbackup and run. It will take you step by step towards backup up the profiles you want. Make sure that both Firefox and Thunderbird are closed when you do this, by the way (it'll warn you if it's open). In the end, it saves a .pcv file, which is really just a zip file with a different extension.

To restore a backup, just run Mozbackup again and select Restore a profile instead of Backup a profile. Again, step by step. To import a backup into another PC, install MozBackup into that computer and restore.

My only gripes about MozBackup are that it only works for PC; no linux or OSX support, which is one of the reasons Mozilla's apps are so useful and recently ubiquitous. Likewise, I'm not fond of the fact that MozBackup requires its own program to be installed. I guess it's too reflexive to have it create a backup of the very profile in which it's located, but if it were an extension for Firefox and Thunderbird it would be so much simpler to use. I'm not crazy about installing programs that I use less than once every few weeks.

Overall, though, there is no simpler way of moving and backup up profiles from one PC to another than MozBackup.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Firefox Download Day a Complete Success, Otherwise

 Yeah, I still remember how Firefox 3's Download Day got off on a shaky start when its servers promptly collapsed at its designated start time due to massive server overload. I remember how it needed its clock restarted an hour and a half later. But I also remember successfully downloading the new browser before the day was done, and just recently, I got this in my email:

Download Day 2008

We did it!

We set a Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in 24 hours. With your help we reached 8,002,530 downloads.

You are now part of a World Record and the proud owner of the best version of Firefox yet!

Don't forget to download your very own certificate for helping set a Guinness World Record.

This was known already almost as soon as Download Day ended, but I guess it wasn't officially recognized by Guinness until recently. Regardless, I got my certificate (can't print it out as I don't have any ink). I'm kinda disappointed that the certificate was a fill-in-the-blank as opposed to an official custom image, maybe with some part that said when exactly that day I downloaded it (I dunno how they'd've tracked that), but otherwise, I know I'm not cheating myself on this one.

Did you get your certificate?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Facebook Greasemonkey Part 4 of 4: View Photos

For the last installment on our feature on Greasemonkey scripts to enhance your Facebook browsing experience, I've brought on the big kahuna: a script that allows you to view the photos of a lot of users whose profiles are otherwise inaccessible to you. That's right, this is about as good as you can get in Facebook stalking technology without doing some actual hacking of the system.

Facebook - View All Photos, written by userscripts user Dan Cooper, isn't actually the simplest script to explain. So I'm gonna go and copy what it says on the main page outright so I don't misrepresent anything:

  • Lets you search for pictures of someone who has a private profile or has set their privacy settings so that you cannot view their pictures. (Check below for specific details)
  • Removes the two sections of photos users on facebook have ('Tagged by User' and 'Tagged by Others') and combines them in to one.
  • Redirects photos link on profile page to the user's all photos section
  • Links each tagged user's photos link in picture view and album view to the all photos section
  • Adds a link to the top of photos to allow you to see every picture they are tagged in
  • Lots of stupid people have a plethora of applications on their page and as greasemonkey scripts are only executed when the page has been fully downloaded, you might click the photos link before it's had a chance to change. You'll notice when it has as it says 'View All Photos of' instead of 'View Photos of'.
Pretty cool so far, right? But there ARE some caveats to viewing pictures in private profiles. Again, lifted straight off his website:

Ok, this could get confusing so stick with me. Start by searching for someone's name in the search panel. Profiles that you have access to will not be changed, however profiles that you do not have access to will now be coloured red and will link to a photos page. The only photos you see, will be ones that the person is tagged in which:
  • is in your PRIMARY network
  • there are photos availble to you to view (public albums etc)
So basically these are not photos you wouldn't have been otherwise able to access, it just saves you having to go through album after album looking for photos of them.
As this url manipulation only searches for the name of the person and not the id, if any two people should have identical names then pictures with either of them will be shown in the results. (There's nothing I can do about that without painstakingly manipulating the results page)
But basically, go ahead and install the script and explore around for yourself. Remember, private photos are only viewable if you're looking for someone in your primary network. You can, though, change your primary network to see someone else, but Facebook only allows you to do that every few weeks, to prevent people from hopping around checking out peoples'  profiles on other networks. Note that you can't do this on college networks either.

Finally, recent changes to the way Facebook's code is written, have caused this script to almost always not load the first time a page loads (similar to the Facebook Beautifier script). If you find the appropriate links not showing up, just reload the page, and it should work out.

Well, that's it for our four part series. Be sure to check out the other three parts, and let me know if you've gone and used these scripts, and what your experiences have been like. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Facebook Greasemonkey Part 3 of 4: See Tagged Photo in its Album

Welcome back for part 3 of our feature on Greasemonkey scripts that enhance your Facebook experience. This one's a pretty big one, especially if you're one of the, shall we say, inherently curious types.

Facebook View Photos in Album, written by userscripts user znerp, works like this. Say you check out a photo tagged to a friend of yours. Now, if that photo was taken by someone not your friend, and/or belonging to another network, you wouldn't normally be able to view the entire album in which the photo was originally included.

Facebook View Photos in Album lets you view that album, provided that album was tagged as public anyway (most albums are, since it's set to public by default). When you view a photo, you then get a link above it that says "See this photo in its album." It then throws you inside the album, from which you can view all the other photos.

Great for seeing photos of old friends of friends! Remember, to install this script, make sure you have the Greasemonkey extension installed for Firefox, and once you do, just click on "Install this Script" in the script's webpage.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Clean Up Facebook Ads and Sponsored Entries with Facebook Cleaner!

For my second of four (originally three, but I'd miscounted ;)) installments featuring Greasemonkey scripts that enhance your wasted time on Facebook (allowing you to waste more braincells in less time!), it's time to get rid of those annoying Facebook ads and more importantly, those entries in the Feed that aren't real news stories, but are just sponsored placements.

Facebook Cleaner, written by userscripts.org user jakeybob, installs just like every other Greasemonkey script: once you have the Greasemonkey extension installed, simply click on "Install this script" and you'll be good to go.

Like the previous Facebook script sometime this tweak doesn't kick in properly, but a good ol' fashioned reload of the page should leave you with the (non)essentials. And of course, this only removes the offenders out of your view, it does not commit the network sabotage you're hoping for. Thumbs up!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Remove Annoying Facebook Applications From Users' Profiles With Greasemonkey Script

Today is my first of a three part series of Greasemonkey scripts designed to enhance your favorite waste of time... Facebook. In this first installment I'll introduce you to a script that should instantly lift your Facebooking mood, by making all the useless Facebook apps you've no doubt now spent hours collapsing, DISAPPEAR, not only from your profile, but from everyone else's.

Facebook Beautifier, written by Matthew Leverton, installs just like any other Greasemonkey script... once you have the Greasemonkey extension installed, you can click on the "Install this Script" button on the page, and soon you'll be good to go.

Sometimes I've found that the applications don't actually go away the first time you enter a profile, but if you refresh the page, suddenly you'll see all the applications that you don't own yourself, just up and vanish, leaving you with only the information you want (I don't know what to do about you if you don't own that Zombie application yourself but want to see others' zombie status).

Of course, like with all Greasemonkey scripts, only apply to your viewing experience on the specific computer you've installed the script. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually go and delete other users' applications outright. If only...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Look Up Acronym Meanings with Acronym Finder!

This is the kind of site I'd been passively hoping for for years, but never really found until makeuseof.com recently featured AcronymFinder, who claims to be celebrating 10 years online (!) How I never found them, I'll never know.

With the ubiquitousness of the internet forging the way for new forms of slang and colloquialisms, oftentimes it's hard to keep up, especialy when it comes to acronyms. For example today used the site to look up IRL, which apparently means "in real life," aka, not online. Recent acronyms I'd also looked up elsewhere online, mainly using urban dictionary, were FTW(for the win) and RTFM (read the f****** manual).

AcronymFinder sorts possible definitions by relevancy as well as category. They take definitions from user submissions, and they have strict guidelines to ensure accuracy as well as relevancy. Regardless of this, they seem to have an extensive database that really help you navigate your way not only online, but in other jargon-heavy environments as well. Highly recommended to add to your keyword searches on Firefox.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rotten Tomatoes and To-Do-List iGoogle Gadget Dumped

As I'd promised much before, Greasy PC isn't just about telling you what new toys and tweaks to add to your PC experience, it's also about what the dump and shed to reduce bloat. Sometimes that even pertains to stuff I'd recommended in the past. Today I'm sadly recommending two iGoogle gadgets I'd wholeheartedly recommended before be put in the back burner.

The Rotten Tomatoes gadget was great for giving you a quick glimpse of reviews for upcoming movies, except in the past few weeks it seems to have stopped working altogether. It just stays on a "Loading" screen and never actually loads. Until someone can tell me otherwise that their gadget is working fine and can tell me what's wrong with mine that I can fix, I'm gonna have to let the Rotten Tomatoes Gadget go.

The other gadget is one I'm not really recommending be dumped, but I am recommending collapsing it out of view unless you're using a different computer.  The To-Do-List gadget was a great way to keep track of the day's tasks, and I even documented how to get it working if it's stopped being functional for you. However, I've come to use Thunderbird's excellent calendar extension Lightning, which has its own To-Do-List. Since I keep Thunderbird open in the 2nd monitor, I can keep the tasks up at all times, reminding me to finish them.

Again, I'd still use To-Do-List when I'm using a different computer, where I'm not using Thunderbird, but otherwise, I'm keeping it on the bottom of my iGoogle page, minimized out of view until I need it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

GDirections Updated For Firefox 3

Yesterday I lamented some occurence that would no longer allow me to force extension compatibility for the non-Firefox 3 compatible extensions I'm using, the main extension being GDirections by Jeffrey Palm.

Well, I still haven't figured out what's wrong with my browser not letting me force compatibility, but on the upside turns out a new version of GDirections, version 3.1.0, is now fully Firefox 3 compatible. It's not up on the mozilla add-on page, but it is available at the official developer site here. Go get it!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Firefox 3 Force Extension Compatibility Not Working?

I recently noticed that the last few extensions I'm using that aren't officially compatible with Firefox 3, but I was able to force enable, have suddenly stopped working again. First, I noticed that the extensions.checkUpdateSecurity about:config entry had disappeared somehow (I don't now why). I went and recreated it, and once again the Add-Ons window reminded me that doing so could cause security risks.

However, whereas doing so before had allowed me to enable the incompatible extensions, now I can't do it again. I have yet to figure out the answer to this question. Luckily the only extensions left that aren't compatible aren't dealbreakers (though I do still really love GDirections).

Anyone have a clue what's happening here?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Circuit City Web Order Follow Up

Remember my glowing review of online buying through Circuit City, back when I bought my Nyko Frontman Wii guitar? Well, for some reason or another, I don't know if it's standard practice for them, but those good folks felt like sending me a follow-up gift - a card worth for 10% off on my next purchase of $50 dollars or more. Maybe they wanted to woo me further upon seeing my original blog entry.

That seemed nice of them, although when I looked at the fine (very fine) print in the back of the card, it had a hefty list of products exempt from the discount:

Not valid on previous purchases. Offer expludes Bose, select Polk, Element Kicker, Nikon DSLR, Sony DSLR cameras, Sony camera accessories. Olevia, Viszio Toshiba televisions, Apple, game hardware, movies, music, laptops, desktops, software, Otlet, Red Dot clearance, PreOrder/Backorder products, firedog survices and Circuit City Gift Card purchases. This coupon also excludes the following television models: SON KDL40S4100, SON KDL465410, etc.

Where does that leave at? I think the only stuff left I can buy are car stereos (no thanks), cell phones (got one, thanks), and their various accessories. I'd consider maybe just buying 50 dollars worth of blank DVD's, except I haven't gone through my months old spindle yet.

The card expires July 12th, and I'm not buying a huge ticket item just to get 10% off. What do you think I should use it on?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Remove Winamp's Right Click Context Menu Options

Yesterday I showed you how to get rid of the annoying, cluttering right click menu options for Windows Media Player. Today I'll show you how to do the same for Winamp, removing the options "Add to Winamp's Bookmark List," "Enqueue in Winamp," and "Play in Winamp" whenever you right click on a file in Windows Explorer.

First, open Winamp. Then, hit CTRL+P to open the Preferences menu.

Then click on File Types on the left pane. Uncheck "Show Winamp in folder context menus in Windows Explorer." This removes the menu options when you right click on a folder.

Then, click on Jump to File on the left page. Then click on the "Shell Options" tab on the right. Then, on the "Windows Explorer Menu Control" section on the bottom right, unhighlight all the options you don't want showing (as you can see, I took everything out.)

And there you go! Hopefully now right clicking on files in Windows Explorer isn't a painful process.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Remove Windows Media Player Right Click Context Menu Options

Today's tip is an oldie but a goodie. Not to mention super easy. Windows Media Player adds several menu items when you right click a file in Windows Explorer:

Add to Burn List
Add to Windows Media Player List
Play with Media Player
If you're like me and hardly ever use Windows Media Player, these options not only clutter up your right click context menu, they slow your navigation down as well. Luckily, to remove it, all you need to do is go to Start>Run> and enter:

egsvr32 /u wmpshell.dll

That's it! And if you ever change your mind and want it back, just run the command:

egsvr32 wmpshell.dll

And all will be just as before. I found the answer to this tip through the blog Tech Recipes, Your cookbook of Tech Tutorials. Thanks for cooking this one up guys!

If you want to take more control of your right click context menu, here's how to edit the "Send to" menu entries.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Select and Open Many Links into Tabs with Tree Style Tabs

I've written up Tree Style Tabs before as my preferred way of getting vertical tabs, and from the looks of it the latest version, compatible with FF3, added even more features (I believe so; perhaps these features were always there, but I never noticed it). The most awesome of which, for me at least, lets you select text and photo links and open all the links in their own tabs!

First of all, if you haven't downloaded the latest version of Tree Style Tabs yet, go here. Then, in the Tree Style Tabs option window, and make sure the option "Open Selection Links in Tabs" is turned on:

Now, let's say you wanted to access a list of links all in their own tab, like a directory listing showing a bunch of images. Instead of middle clicking each one of them one at a time, just select all of that text...

And right click and select "Open Selection Links in Tabs." Voila! All of those links now open at once in their own tabs. And with Tree Style Tabs, you don't have to worry about having too many tabs open to juggle, because they'll all be stacked up nicely on your vertical tab bar! This feature works on any link that isn't in Flash, meaning you can even do these to, say, the Facebook photo galleries!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Maximize iGoogle Screen Estate with Super iGoogle Greasemonkey Script!

Hope you're still enjoying Firefox 3, I know I am. So much so that for the past few days I've gone on a browser tweaking RAMPAGE. This latest release really just reignited my passion for making the most of my regular browsing experience.*

First and foremost, I've finally began understanding what the big deal is with Greasemonkey, the Firefox extension that allows you to modify and customize the appearance and function of specific websites. I'd showcased only one Greasemonkey script before, for Google Analytics, but never really paid too much attention past that.

Well, today I'm showcasing Super iGoogle, a Greasemonkey script written by stinkinrich88, showcased on Greasemonkey script repository userscripts.org. What does it do? Well, take a look for yourself. The left is the old iGoogle, second is Super iGoogle:

Wow! I've always HATED how a full quarter of the top screen real estate of iGoogle is taken up by the Google search header. As a person who's obsessive about maximizing screen real estate, and someone who uses search keywords in his address bar, that search bar and header's just about the most wasteful thing out there.

Super iGoogle features, as ripped off directly from the userscripts site:


  • Header removed

  • "Toggle Header" button added to top-right link-bar

  • Footer removed

  • Mini search form added to right-hand side of tab bar

  • "Add stuff" link moved to top-right link-bar

  • "@googlemail.com" removed from your e-mail address

  • Your e-mail address is made a hyperlink to compose a new e-mail

  • All tab corners are rounded

  • You'll get all the girls

You hear that? GIRLS!

If you don't have Greasemonkey yet, you can get it from here, and once it's installed, you can click on the "Install This Script" button at the Userscripts site, and it'll be pretty straightforward from there. Note that if your iGoogle page requires using a secure protocol (https:// as opposed to http://), change the sites affected by the Greasemonkey script accordingly.

*and that really is the point of tweaking stuff out, making the most of the experiences that you go through daily (or even more frequently), like checking email, reading news, and just browsing in general. It isn't as practical to obsessively tweak out programs and tasks you don't use very often.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Firefox 3 Feature Showcase: Full Zoom!

Here's a quick spotlight on one of the lesser but still awesome features that Firefox 3 comes with out of the box (click here for a spotlight on another such feature): Full Zoom!

Previously on Firefox 2, you could increase and decrease the size of the font by holding CTRL and scrolling up or down (or CTRL and the + and - keys).

Now, using the same controls in Firefox 3, it zooms the entire page, including GRAPHICS!

Check out this screenshot (click to see it unscaled). Isn't that awesome?

One last tip: To return to default zoom (i.e. 100% view), just hit CTRL-0 (zero).

What's your favorite new Firefox feature so far?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Get Full Extension Compatibility With Firefox 3

Download Day
Well, from the looks of it, it's gonna be Firefox 3 week at Greasy PC, and I couldn't be happier. I'm still getting to know this new browser, but from the looks of it we're gonna be as good of friends as the last one, if not better.

First thing's first: are all of your extensions enabled for use in FF3? When you install FF3 over FF2 it'll notify you of which extensions are incompatible with FF3, and which aren't. If possible, it'll search for updated versions of the software (as was the case with uber-extension FireFTP). In my case I'd say half of my extensions were deemed incompatible and were immediately disabled.

First, check the add-on's official page whether or not there are actually FF3 compatible versions. Popular Firefox extension Tab Mix Plus hasn't officially released a FF3 compatible version, but you can find the latest builds here, where I got the latest, compatible version. Greasemonkey has the same issue, and you can find their latest builds here.

When you've done all you can to get every extension you can compatibility-ized (that's a word), and you still have a bunch of extensions that aren't cutting it, it's time to make Firefox 3 stop being so picky. The following tweak suppresses Firefox's warnings and disablings (that's a word, I swear!) of not-fully-compatible extensions (thanks to Lifehacker).

First, type about:config in your location bar. Firefox'll politely remind you that this might cause problems with your browser, so you better be real careful, or you'll have some 'splaining to do to that penguin.

Next, right click anywhere, and create a new Boolean string. Call it extensions.checkUpdateSecurity and set it to False.

When you restart your browser, you should be able to re-enable the rest of your extensions. I suggest you do this one at a time in case one of those extensions actually does cause problems (I didn't have any problems, myself).

Regardless, here's hoping those extensions get themselves up to speed soon!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quick Firefox 3 Tips: Multiple Line Select and Paste!

I'm sure you're all taking your time getting your shiny new Firefox 3's loaded up to go (it took me about an hour to get me most of the way there), so while that happens, I'd like to throw two awesome tweaks you can play with immediately that I think will really save you some time (both tips came from Lifehacker).

First of all, you can now select multiple, non-consecutive lines of text, by holding down CTRL (or option, in Macs) when selecting, just like how you would when selecting multiple nonconsecutive files in Explorer (or Finder). Look!

Secondly, the following option allows you to paste a multi-line piece of text from any source (like Thunderbird) into the location bar of Firefox. This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for when I need to look up an address on Google Maps that was written in multiple lines, as addresses usually are.

To enable this, type about: config into your location bar, and type singeline into the filter. There should be just one entry in there, and if you set the value to 2, multiple lines will be enabled. I don't actually know whether this feature is automatically turned on in FF3, but when I went to turn this on in my browser, it was already there! I don't remember it being there before!

Anyway, looks like there are just tons of smaller but still useful features packed into this latest release, and as I find out about more of them, I'll be certain to let you know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Firefox 3 Servers Clobbered, Hang in There!

The Firefox 3 download page got clobbered with the overwhelming demand (well duh, what were they thinking?!), but don't despair! Just hang in there and eventually you'll get it. I just did!

Before I install FF3, I'm using MozBackup to back up my profile, in case something goes wrong. This way if I want to temporarily switch down to FF2, I can reinstall and restore my backup.

But here's hoping I can get all my extensions and tweaks working alright! See you soon!

Today is Firefox 3 Download Day!

Are you part of the hordes straining Mozilla's servers to try to break the record for most downloaded piece of software in 24 hours? I know I am!

Stay tuned for reviews and impressions of Firefox 3! A new day dawns!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ask the Readers: How to Fix noreply@blogger.com ?

Sorry to interrupt the current broadcast, but I wanted to throw out a question that fellow blogger-ers might have the answer to, regarding my RSS feed.

If you are one of those subscribed to my RSS feed, you might've been turned off by the "Posted by noreply@blogger.com (Arvin Bautista)" author line, when it really should either say just my name, or my name linked to my email address. It clutters up the feed a lot, don't you think?

I have yet to figure out where this problem is originating, and how to fix it. I use Feedburner for my feed stats, and Blogger for everything else. All your support would be most appreciated, and would certainly be rewarded with the proper credit due. Thanks guys!

Edit: So not long after I got this post ready to be published in the morning, I found the solution to my problem in this Google Groups posting.

Basically RSS 2.0 feeds which is what Feedburner usually gets from your Blogger account by default, requires an email address, and as such Blogger goes and gives you a false email address to fill in that portion (why it doesn't just resolve to use my account's email address, I don't know). You can switch to using Atom 1.0 by changing your blog's feed address from




(i.e. remove the ?alt=rss in the end)

As such if you were reading my blog right now it's finally displaying just my name and nothing else.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Snap Your Mouse to the Appropriate Window Button

Lifehacker recently showcased a screencast demonstrating Window's Snap To feature for your mouse. Using this, your mouse snaps to the most likely default button in a window (like Save, or OK), thereby saving your mouse and wrist a little bit of mileage at a time.

To get this option, just go to your control panel>Mouse>Pointer Options>Snap To.

I just turned this option on now and am finding it funny to adjust to. If you're like me, you like to wiggle the mouse when you first lay your hand on it to better locate where the pointer is. Doing this inevitably throws it off the default button. I'm going to have to teach myself to just hold the mouse in place and left click; I'll keep you updated on whether or not I keep this option on indefinitely.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Don't Use Your Web Host for Storage!

I read a Lifehacker article that warned users not to use their web hosts for file storage, and it wasn't something I treated particularly seriously. Until now.

A few days ago, I woke up to find an email from my otherwise awesome host, Hostmonster, (see my original review of them here), telling me my account had been suspended for Terms of Service violations. The site was down, which meant I also wasn't getting email.

I immediately called their toll-free number, which was answered immediately by a considerate and prompt tech support staff. They confirmed the reason why my site was taken down. Luckily, they let me bring it back up as soon as I deleted the offending files.

This was completely my fault, and they really didn't need to bring my site back up if they were so inclined, but that they were friendly about the incident makes me love them even more. Kinda sucks that I'll never be able to take advantage of all the 1.5 terabytes of space allotted to me, but the price is still worth it for their excellent tech support.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Learnit Lists Updated With Audio!

Learnit Lists, which I'd originally reviewed (and praised) as a good way to get a daily dose of foreign language vocabulary words. They even commented on my review. Well, Learnit has been updated with some extra features which increase its value, but it doesn't do it all seamlessly.

First of all, I had to remove the old gadget and install the new one, when it really should've just updated itself automatically. I was hounded by a notification that my original version was old, but never really explained how I was to get the new version. You can get the new version here.

Past that, the biggest new feature is the listen and speak mode. Working off of a credits system, you can listen to the proper pronunciation of a word for one credit, and you can earn credits by recording words in your own native language. This is a novel way to expand the system's vocabulary very quickly, and the extra interactivity is pretty awesome.

My main complaint is the gadget's screen size. I had complained before that the original version took up way too much space on my iGoogle page, and in their response to my review, Learnit said they would look into the matter. Well, in this new version, the gadget itself takes up less room indeed, but the actual frame that carries it seems EVEN BIGGER. It's still easily the biggest gadget on my already cramped page, and with a layout and design that doesn't really match any other, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I once again call for a more compact, elegant solution that incorporates the other features as well.

Overall, it's still a good gadget, and with this latest version in beta, more features are forthcoming. Far from perfect, it's still recommended (and recommended over the older version).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Firefox 3 Download Day Offically June 17th!

Download Day 2008

As much as I was chomping at the bit to finally download the final version of Firefox 3, and supported their attempt to break the world record for most downloads of one software in 24 hours, I complained about their refusal to announce an actual release date.

Well, they finally have, and it's coming in just five days! If you've pledged your support on their webpage, you'll get notification when the product becomes downloadable.

Now let's see if they can handle all that bandwidth!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Google Favicon Sucks? Is it Worth it to Change it Back?

The blog MyDigitalLife just recently featured a Greasemonkey script that changes the new, UGLY, bluish-purplish Google favicon back to the original one we all know and love (as long as you have Greasemonkey).

I clicked on the article originally because I wanted to commiserate on the unfathomably pointless change (I thought I had gotten hacked or fell for a phishing scam), but when I saw the link to the greasemonkey script, I started thinking about how ridiculous that seemed.

I briefly considered installing the script, but seriously in the end that a 16 pixel squared piece of satisfaction wasn't worth even the tiny bit of extra RAM and clutter in my Firefox configuration. But I do still wish Google comes to their senses.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anyone Else Playing Three Scrabulous Games at Once?

I haven't spent time talking much about Facebook, or its super popular app Scrabulous, but from the way the numbers look, odds are you're already using the former or both.

Recently Scrabulous has been hit hard with threats of legal action and a general spike in bandwidth usage (hell, I heard them featured on NPR), and ever since Scrabulous performance hasn't been up to par (but still super fun).

Most recently, and consistently, all the matches I've challenged or been challenged to, as soon as the challenge is drawn against an opponent, not just one but THREE matches are started, all at the same time. This can be daunting to users out there who have a hard enough time keeping up with one match at once.

Well, eventually the annoyance of deleting the other two games got to my cohorts and I, and we've just resigned ourselves (the power users) to playing all three games at once, Bobby Fisher style. At the moment it's certainly made a bit of a difference on how matches usually play out, since you have even less concentrated brain power dedicated to each match.

Do you play Scrabulous? Have you had this problem with multiple matches started? What have you done about it? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Firefox Quick Tip: Drag Firefox Tabs from One Window to Another!

Download Day 2008

Here's a quick productivity booster for you Firefox power users out there. If you're like me, you browse Firefox using almost exclusively tabs as opposed to new windows (the way I used to do it in IE), but sometimes you don't realize you've opened new windows and suddenly, you've got tabs open in more than one window. What if you want to consolidate your tabs into one window?

Well, turns out, not only can you drag your tabs to change their order within a window, you can even drag and drop them from one window into a completely different one! It holds onto logged-in sessions, so you don't have to re-login to sites you've signed onto.

Now who knows how to move entire groups of tabs from one window to another instead of just one by one? Let me know and be featured on this blog!

p.s. - also learn how to scroll through tabs with your scrollwheel, open multiple tabs as a homepage, get a vertical tab bar to maximize browsing, and recover lost tabs.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Control Volume with Mouse Scrollwheel with Volumouse! (review)

Two of my favorite geek blogs, Likehacker and Freewaregenius, both featured Volumouse recently, and I finally decided to try it out.

I have a media keyboard that allows me to change the volume up and down, but being able to control with the scrollwheel allows me to do so without having to move my hand away from the mouse.

Volumouse has tons of customizable features as well, as you can see from the options screenshot:

As you can see I set volume to be controlled by holding down either mouse button, or holding down a key, or even more specific resolutions that you set yourself. You can also set it to display an indicator that lets you see your volume go up and down under your mouse cursor (visual indicators are great). It even allows you to adjust window transparency (!) via scroll, which just seems like overkill (and didn't work properly for me).

In fact, this last issue is one of my only gripes about the otherwise excellent program. Currently Volumouse is taking up about 4 megabytes of RAM, which seems high for a utility that I only use occasionally for less than a few seconds at a time. I think this is because of the sheer depth of the program, which isn't necessary since I don't think anyone's downloading Volumouse for reasons other than controlling their volume with their mouse. For a lesson in minimal RAM usage with maximum features, check out Taskswitch XP.

Overall though, I'm keeping Volumouse installed and running in my system tray, and I think you should too.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Check Server Uptime and IP Change with Host-Tracker

Since I opted to move a client's web hosting from eHost.net to Hostmonster over the weekend, I needed to be able to check whether or not the move was successful. After all, since the site would be an exact copy from one to the other, it would look exactly the same whether or not it successfully moved or not.

And since DNS records don't change immediately over the rest of the world (it can take up to 3 days), I needed to know when most of them had changed over to the new server enough that I can tell the client that all's clear.

Enter Host-Tracker. Host-Tracker not only tells you if your site is up or down, it tells you what ip address the URL resolves to. The best part is that Host-Tracker does this using up to forty different servers around the world, so you get a really good idea of whether or not the DNS changes have come across everywhere, not just the one location.

I've been using Host-Tracker since fall of last year, when I was having all of that hosting trouble. It hasn't failed me yet.

Checking this, I knew that hostmonster totally came through in the pinch and the site was ready to go only about five hours after the move. Awesome!

Friday, June 6, 2008

More Cheapo Hosting Drama: Ehost Email Blacklisted

Continuing in my unfortunately still-not-ended saga of dealing with cheapo web hosts, I am currently in the process of moving one of my clients for whom I maintain a website, from being hosted by eHost.net (remember them?), to finally Hostmonster (and then remember them?)*.

I'd recommended moving for her months before, but what finally prompted us to move was because it turns out eHost's mail server has been blacklisted by about half of the email servers out there for funneling out spam into peoples' unsuspecting inboxes. As such, emails sent from their mail server was being blocked by, in this case, Yahoo!. Whether this was because of eHost continuing to be the douchebags that they've been all this time, or more likely because of the hundreds of sites they host and share the mail server was ruining it for all the other hosted sites, this was unacceptable.

And I'd obviously realized that this was a problem they weren't going to fix anytime soon, if ever.
And so, I'm hoping that with this final hurrah, I never have to deal with any of these webhosts again, and I finally stop clogging up my own blog with horror stories. But let these articles stand for all time and serve as a warning to all else who consider paying for service from these guys.

* No, I did not take a commission. In fact I'm moving her site free of charge because I felt bad having turned her onto eHost to begin with.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Monitor Standby Script Causes Problems Coming Out of Hibernation (Autohotkey)

One of my oldest, most favorite Autohotkey scripts had been a small, simple, piece of code that put the monitor on standby. It let me shut down my computer without forgetting to shut down the monitor (which I often did). However, recently I found out this piece of code had been the reason I was having a problem getting Windows XP to come out of hibernate.

The problem was that when I run my Autohotkey script to hibernate the computer (after running some utilities), sometimes when I come back and turn the computer on, it powers up but the OS never loads. The monitors show that it never gets a signal. I would have no choice but to unplug the computer altogether and then start it up again (sometimes it would return from its hibernate state, sometimes not).

Because of this problem, I'd begun only putting my computer on Standby instead of hibernate. However, out of a nagging need to be someone environmentally and energy conscious, I wanted to go back to hibernation, and went to figure out what the problem was.

The problem seems to have something to do with whether or not I shut down the monitors manually anyway; something trips up when the Autohotkey script tries to put monitors on standby that it can't find are on to begin with. Here is the offending code:

#m:: ; Win+M hotkey that turns off the monitor.
Sleep 1000 ; Give user a chance to release keys (in case their release would wake up the monitor again).
; Turn Monitor Off:
SendMessage, 0x112, 0xF170, 2,, Program Manager ; 0x112 is WM_SYSCOMMAND, 0xF170 is SC_MONITORPOWER.
; Note for the above: Use -1 in place of 2 to turn the monitor on.
; Use 1 in place of 2 to activate the monitor's low-power mode.
For the moment, I just went ahead and deleted this code from my hibernate script, and I have had no problems yet. I'll just have to remember to shut the monitors down myself. If you know a workaround for this problem, do let me know!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

OnsaleHost Issue Resolved: No Longer Suck

I went on a long tirade a while back about my awful experience with getting super-cheap web hosting on eBay, leading me to eventually breaking that addiction and finally ponying up to good, monthly web hosting.

One of the hosts I ranted against was OnSaleHost, mainly because the website I was working on stopped working and then they charged me for another year after I'd completely forgotten about them. I emailed them for a month asking for my money back or for more hosting (I really just wanted the money again), but had not heard from them at all, prompting the blog rant.

Well, a few days ago they DID get back to me, saying they'd read the blog post, and apologizing, explaining the web servers they'd lost all those months ago. They offered me a refund AND continued web hosting for the trouble. I took them up on the former, turned down the latter.

They also apologized that their website's email contact form was inoperable, leading much to the communication problem we'd had before.

Overall, better late than never. I still stand by my original assessment of super-cheap web hosting (you get what you pay for, bad tech support, don't entrust your important data and email with them), but I applaud OnSaleHost and Paul Ha for being proactive in righting their wrongs. They're much better than others I know out there.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Microsoft Extends XP Installation Support Until 2010

Because of the increased demand and supply of compact laptops like the Asus EEE PC, Microsoft has conceded to distributing Windows XP as late as 2010, according to the New York Times.

This'll put a damper on Microsoft's hope to get Vista to catch on, especially since the next edition of Windows, Windows 7, should be out by 2010 anyway. Oops!

I've been with Windows XP since 2002, and have used the same OEM installation CD even until now (sure, I've reinstalled many times), and have always advocated it as a great OS. Obviously many other people think so as well.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Where is the Quick Launch Toolbar Folder Located?

I've talked before about how to customize one's Quick Launch folder in your Taskbar to keep your most used applications easily accessible. You now know that oftentimes you can just drag and drop icons into the Quick Launch toolbar, and reorder them as you want, and you can easily delete by right clicking on an icon. But do you know where the actual folder of icons that make up your Quick Launch Folder is located?

Using Windows Explorer, you can find your Quick Launch folder here:

C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

Ridiculous that it's in the Internet Explorer folder, further reminder of MS trying to shove IE down our necks.

I also just searched around and found this message board post that showed the order of Quick Launch icons in the registry, which is located here:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\Explorer\Streams\Desktop\Taskbar
The actual registry entry is really complicated and seems to require another program to decipher and edit. I don't recommend it myself, just drag and drop to change the order yourself!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

XNeat Windows Manager Not Worth It (review)

I've run into XNeat Windows Manager here and there the past few months of scouring the internet for ways to improve my desktop experience, but could never get into it. Its featureset wasn't enough to make me excited to have it installed, it didn't do anything that completely blew me away, and its website lacked screenshots that showed me how its more abstract features worked.

For some reason I can't recall, I tried it yesterday night, and found it, simply, a nightmare to use. What the website never really describes is that what it essentially does as a program is add a couple of right and middle click menu choices to your Taskbar and Active Titlebar, such as Make on Top, Transparency, and a bunch of others. It also adds options to drag and drop rearrage taskbar buttons, and add extra options to the Save As Dialogue. Not bad, for now.

When you launch the XNeat program itself, you get options menus for each of those things it changes. Except the interface of the option is completely unintuitive. With no introductory lesson on the program's functions, I had no idea what the options represented. Turns out it just lets you pick which of the menu options to pop up when you right or middle click on the Taskbar/Title bar.

Anyway, this wouldn't be terrible except for when I accidentally made my taskbar completely disappear by middle clicking on the taskbar and hitting "send to tray." I don't know why such an option would even exist, since it makes no sense. That's like saying "put garage inside car." And that's basically what happened; the taskbar disappeared with no way for me to access it at all. I had to mess around in the Taskbar and Start Menu option in the Control Panel before it reappeared.

It was such an overall unpleasant experience that I couldn't even enjoy the Save-as function, which lets you append dates and clone a document instead of overwriting it. It's such a novel and good option that it's a shame that it's packaged with other features that treat even an advanced user with such contempt. For something that's supposed to make my Windows experience more intuitive, it certainly has a long way to go to make itself user-friendly. Definitely uninstalled and not recommended.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Timely Tidbit: Do All Guinness Records Make it Into the Book?

Download Day 2008

Yesterday I blogged about Mozilla's attempt to make Firefox 3 the Guinness World Record holder for Most Downloaded Software in 24 hours, and how I'd pledged to support the cause.

Meanwhile, I also asked whether or not every record Guinness accepts gets put into the book. I took a cursory search online but couldn't find an answer.

Well, coincidentally, the Freakonomics blog just recently posted a Q and A with Guinness editor Craig Glenday, which adds a definitive answer to part of my question:

My principle job is to create the world’s best-selling book, and I’m not going to achieve that if I fill the book with boring achievements. As a company, we might still recognize the odd dull accomplishment, but there’s no guarantee I’ll ever print it in the book. Records have to be relevant to as many people as possible. We had a claim for the Longest Wall of Sausages, a traditional creation in, I think, a small village in deepest Hungary. As well as failing to make the grade on so many levels (what’s to stop you entering a Wall of Cheese and a Wall of Bananas, etc. — see previous point) it’s just too specific to one village. And too weird.
I still want to know exactly how they make the editorial decision over which records make it into the book, and which don't. He offers a partial response here:

The main annual records book provides up to 90 percent of our turnover, but we do have other ways of exploiting our database. We have an over-supply of content, as the number of approved claims, plus the number of classic records that our readers demand to see every year exceed the space we have in a single book. But we have ways of ensuring the records are published one way or another.

Interesting! And remember to sign up for the Firefox 3 record attempt!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Help Make Firefox 3 the Most Downloaded Software in 24 Hours!

Download Day 2008

I absolutely cannot wait until Firefox 3 is released. My excitement for it surpasses even my anticipation for Windows XP Service Pack 3 (which really wasn't all that big of a deal), mainly because of its dramatic memory and speed improvements. If only I wasn't such a pansy about making sure all my necessary extensions and tweaks carry over while retaining all the good stuff about the new release, I'd be rocking FF3 right now.

Anyway, Mozilla is hoping you're excited about Firefox 3 as well, and are aiming to get on the Guinness record books with your help, by being the most downloaded piece of software in 24 hours (do the books Guinness releases yearly have EVERY record they've presided over on it? That seems like a LOT).

If you click on the image above, it should take you to a page where you can pledge your support and sign up for email alerts for when the actual download day is announced. Actually, this is my only real gripe about this project, is that they're organizing this gigantic movement on a date "TBA" (it's supposed to be sometime in June). Can't they just lock freaking release date now and just cram to make sure they make it? Hell, overshoot and say July 1st and just sit tight. It's hard to mark your calendars when there's no definite date.

Anyway, regardless, I'll be there, if I don't finally break down and install a beta myself.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thoosje Quick XP Optimizer Makes Windows Snappier

Freewaregenius recently featured Thoosje Quick XP Optimizer, which claims to speed up various aspects of Windows XP, including reducing shutdown and startup times, speeding up your internet access, and hard drive access times. As someone who's already gone through pretty great pains to optimize their OS (most especially speeding up shutdown and bootup), this seemed too good to be true, but since it offered one-click restore settings, I figured I'd give it a shot.

As you can see, you have choice to optimize specific options, while leaving other ones alone. When you're ready to go, just hit Optimize, after which it will ask for a restart (immediately or at your discretion).

So how did it work? Well, as I surmised, the shutdown and bootup times were virtually the same, since I'd already optimized those options before. Hard disk access was also virtually the same (I tested by copying a 1.4 gigabyte video file from one partition to another, and back also, and timing it).

What it DID do was seemingly increase the responsiveness of displaying folders in Windows Explorer, as well as showing right-click and Start menu options. I've heard of registry entries that can do this, and I'm assuming this is what this program does. Since those small delays in loading times can add up a lot to a person's computer experience, I'm glad to add these tweaks.

One concern I've got is that I'm not sure whether or not Thoosje's restore function restores registry entries and settings back to factory defaults, or to what I'd had it at when I tweaked it. This can be a concern if/when Thoosje's changes cause problems. But since things are running smoothly so far, it's not a big deal now.

Overall, I'm gonna go and uninstall this application, after I went and set those optimizations. There really isn't much of a point to keep a program like this installed, and in fact I'm disappointed that this required installation to begin with. I'd love to hear what you guys have experienced using this program, especially if you haven't gone and uber-tweaked your system to begin with.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Who's got GDirections for Thunderbird Working for Them?

I'd already featured Jeffrey Palm's awesome GDirections addon for Firefox, which lets you highlight an address in your browser and check it out in Google Maps. Recently I'd been wanting the same feature for Thunderbird, so I can easily map out addresses that've been sent to me.

The official GDirections website claims that the latest version of GDirections (1.1.2) is compatible with both Firefox 2 and Thunderbird 2. I even successfully installed the addon for Thunderbird (don't forget to check out our recent article on how to remove the installation delay for Thunderbird extensions). However, even after configuring the Thunderbird extension exactly the same as my Firefox extension, highlighting an address in an email showed no GDirections context menu.

Has anyone else gotten GDirections to work for Thunderbird?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thunderbird Time: Remove the Install Delay for Extensions!

A few weeks ago I featured how to get rid of the 3 second delay when installing Firefox extensions/addons. This time around, we'll feature how to do the same when installing your Thunderbird addons.

The basic thing to first figure out is where Thunderbird's about:config console is located. You can access it by clicking on Tools>Options>Advanced. From there you click on config editor:

Now to remove the install delay. The option to modify is actually the exact same one for Firefox, which is security.dialog_enable_delay. In Thunderbird this option is set at 4000, which is four seconds. I changed mine to 100, which is 1/10 of a second, which unless you're a human mosquito or hummingbird, should be basically instantaneous:

And that's it! Stay tuned for other tweaks to Thunderbird using its own config editor, which can speed up your Thunderbird experience!

p.s. - this marks my 150th post to GreasyPC! I can't believe when I started posting that I'd make it this far, especially with my rule of making at least one post per day! Thanks to everyone for sticking around this long.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Remove Laptop Battery to Increase Longevity

(stock image of my laptop... not my actual one)

I believe I've alluded to the fact that while I remain fully dedicated to my desktop, four years ago I also bought myself a used, cheap laptop on ebay. It was pretty low end when I bought it back then, and is ridiculously so now. But you know what? It still works for minor web browsing, word processing, and its battery still holds a charge. I bring it along whenever I go on long trips, like when I go back to my hometown.

I still use it every night to read comic books. I keep it by my bed like you would your favorite novel.

Most recently I've started to notice that the battery's capacity has gone considerably down since I started using it in 2004. I think it holds at most just an hour's worth of charge now (when it used to be almost 3). It's normal for these batteries to lose reliability after this much use, but it's still worth trying to keep it going for as long as possible.

This tip on, appropriately, One Tip A Day, suggests removing the battery when you're not using it. Commenters have observed that this doesn't nearly do as much saving as you'd think, but it certainly wouldn't hurt for people like me that keep their laptops plugged in 99% of the time. It is, after all, that 1% that matters the most.

Here's hoping I can make my laptop last at least another year or two. I already love how it runs just as fast if not faster than my sister's laptop, which hardly holds a charge anymore and takes many more minutes to start up, but was bought new after I bought my used one.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fix it! Is Your Window Opening in the Wrong Size or Wrong Part of the Screen?

Just another quick solution here, like the one where I told you what to do with a window that's gotten itself stuck off-screen. These are the kinds of Windows problems that many of us just don't take the time to figure out, leaving us frustrated whenever it happens, but never actually remembering what we did the last time the problem popped up. Hopefully this time you'll remember it.

So the problem we're talking about, is when, for some reason, whenever you open a program, like Firefox or Notepad or whatever, the size and location of the application window is something unacceptable. It's either too big, too small, or it's half hanging out of the screen. You change the size and location to something you like and go about your business, but the next time you open the application again it's back to where it was before. Even worse, sometimes your changes actually stick, and it's the inconsistency you feel that's really frustrating. At least that's how I used to feel.

To make sure that your window spawn size and position really stick around next time you open the program follow these steps:

  1. Open the program. It'll look like the way you don't want it to look.
  2. Resize the window and relocate it to your satisfaction.
  3. Here's the important part: CLOSE the program immediately. Don't start working on it, and most importantly, do NOT maximize it. Closing it immediately without maximizing it tells windows that this is how you really want this window to spawn in the future. Maximizing the window cancels out the changes you'd made.
  4. Open the program again. Voila, it spawns the way you want to!

I know this is probably one of those "duh" moments for a lot of you, but for those of us that impulsively maximize our windows, this just compounds the problem. But now you know how to wrangle those wayward windows!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Added: iGoogle Gadget Label to Blog

This coming holiday weekend, I just wanted to direct everybody towards the newly added iGoogle label in the tag cloud to the right which should specifically highlight the various iGoogle gadgets, themes, and tweaks we have featured here in the past.

And of course, don't forget to drop a note in the comments for other gadgets you think are especially useful, and stay tuned for more gadget reviews coming your way!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blogger's Search Not Up to Par, Back to Widgetbox

When Blogger finally released a search gadget for their blogs, I switched out the search gadget by Widgetbox that I had grown to love. After all, the less reliance on third parties, the smoother the process is on the whole, right?

Well, that was until I noticed that the official search wasn't offering as many search results as the original gadget, which is way weird considering how the official search is powered by Google, right? The best search engine in history? What the hell?

Regardless, I have now switched back to the old gadget, which I always loved for displaying all the search results within the layout of the site, which the official gadget only did as far as the first few results. After that you click a link to show the rest of the results, and it takes you to a google-themed page.

Regardless, thanks Widgetbox, I won't doubt you again! That is until I find something better.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thunderbird: Right Click and Delete Mail as Junk

Thunderbird has always prided itself in its ability to remove junk mail from your inbox, but it was always kind of silly that there wasn't an easy way to delete the mail in your junk box whenever you want, that didn't involve selecting them all and throwing them in the trash pile.

Delete Junk Context Menu not only gives you a right click option on your junk box to delete the mail marked as junk, it gives you that right click context menu on all your mail folders, if for some reason you're not initially set up to throw all your junk mail in the junk folder.

Now if only this feature gets installed in the next iteration of Thunderbird.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vertical Taskbar for a More Efficient Widescreen Desktop

When you have a widescreen display like I do (in my case, a 24 inch 1920x1200 widescreen LCD), you often find yourself with far more horizontal space than you do vertical space. This applies when you mainly use your computer for browsing and word processing (as opposed to watching movies and gaming). As such, I've become very sensitive towards tools that let me maximize the viewing experience.

One big change I did recently was switch to a vertical taskbar. Before, I had a normal horizontal taskbar as most of you do:

(My real taskbar is much wider than that image, I cropped it to be more viewable.)

(Check my post on why I decided to stick with the Windows taskbar versus an OSX-like Dock)

While I was perfectly happy with the layout I'd worked for the taskbar, I was still using up about 50 pixels on the bottom of the screen.

Finally, I decided to give a vertical taskbar a try. I'd tried this in the past but I was too impatient to get it to look any way acceptable to me, so I'd always switched back. Looking back on it now, I highly stress that making this switch will require quite a bit of customization for you to get it to look the way you want to, and will take even longer for you to get used to it.

So here's how to do it. First, right click on your taskbar and click "Lock this taskbar." This then allows you to drag the taskbar to the side of your screen. I personally chose to drag it to the left, because I have a 2nd monitor to the right of my primary display, and the start button faces to the right.

As you can see on the image to the right, I've then been able to add far more icons to the Quick-Launch (I decided to stick with shortcuts in the multiples of four, to make full rows). Click here to learn how to attach the Recycle Bin into the Quick Launch.

Below that, I have a toolbar set up for My Computer. To insert or create a custom toolbar, right click on the taskbar, then "Toolbars," and there you can click on My Computer, or select your own folder to create a new toolbar. As you can see, at the bottom of my taskbar I have a folder called "Desktop," where I can access files that go into my Desktop, without having to display the actual files on my desktop.

Here are some more notes on customizing your Taskbar. With the taskbar unlocked, you can drag the width of the taskbar to fit your needs. However, if you make it too narrow, the word "Start" in the start button can and will disappear if it's not wide enough to fit. Likewise, if it's too narrow, your taskbar items might be too short for you to read the name of the windows also.

If you want to change the vertical order of your various toolbars, first keep the Taskbar unlocked. Then, click and hold on the name of the toolbar (like click on the words "My Computer," or "Quick Launch," etc). Now here's where it gets tricky. If you just drag the mouse up and down, all it'll do is increase or decrease the toolbar's height, but not reorder it with other toolbars. Instead, drag your mouse to the side, where the toolbar will snap into a 2nd column on the right. From there, you can click and drag it back into the one column, this time in the place you want it to be. This process can be a headache sometimes, and this is where I insist you practice plenty of patience. It's going to be worth it.

Finally, if you right click on the Toolbar name again (with the taskbar unlocked), you have several other options, including increasing the icon size (making your taskbar look even more like a dock), showing the text of the icon, and showing the title of the Toolbar. Again, you have to play around with this stuff.

Here're some other specific reasons why I like a vertical taskbar.

  1. First of all, I can fit 25 windows in the taskbar before it gets too cramped. Not that I've ever gotten close to having that many windows open, but it's good to have the option.
  2. Secondly, I love having even more one-click access to my most important programs and folders. I can even see how much space is left in my hard drives by just hovering over their icons in the My Computer toolbar.
  3. Thirdly, if you look at the system tray, you'll see that the clock now shows the clock, then the day of the week, then the full date. It's a small but appreciated addition.
  4. And finally, I feel less like I'm wasting my desktop this way. Especially since I switched to a vertical Tabbar for Firefox, I feel like I've just got so much vertical space now to browse online, perfect for when reading long blog posts. It's even better when I've got my instant messaging buddy list dock to the side as well. I've got so much information at my disposal without it becoming too cluttered.

Have you made the switch yet?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rotten Tomatoes iGoogle Gadget Review

If you're a movie buff at all, you know that Rotten Tomatoes consolidates as many reviews for a particular movie as possible, and gives it a grade based on what percentage of the reviews were positive versus what percentage were negative. For the obsessive out there, it's a good site to give you a glimpse of what movie this weekend to go and see.

The Rotten Tomatoes gadget for iGoogle makes it easy to see the weekend's upcoming movies and what their "Tomato-meter" is, by having it displayed in your gadget. Like most of the best gadgets out there, it gives you the information you need without having to navigate to a different site or clicking on different links.

It installs just like all other gadgets, and requires no sign-in or login at all. You get only one setting to tweak the gadget, and that's to show a synopsis of the movie alongside the link to its page and its Tomatometer. Since there's no setting to choose how many movies are displayed, I choose to keep the descriptions hidden because the gadget can only fit three movies versus five without descriptions.

You can also choose between a list of the past weekend's top movies (it doesn't show how much money they made, it's just ranked by such), or of upcoming movies. I'd assume one would be more interested in viewing the upcoming movies. However, the screenshot I've got shows the past weekend tab.

That's because I've personally tried to not drown myself in movie reviews for movies I haven't seen yet but are very eager to go see. In this upcoming weekend's case, I don't want to spoil myself on Indiana Jones IV reviews. But if you DO want to know what the nation's critics feel about Indy IV or any other movies about to come up, this gadget lets you get your fix at a glance.

If you want to check out other great gadgets that I personally use in my iGoogle page, check out the google label for this site.

Monday, May 19, 2008

VidtoMP3 rips Youtube Audio to MP3

There've been a handful of Youtube-to-MP3 services that've popped up recently, and I'd always thought they were a cute novelty, but seriously, who wants mp3's of inferior quality? That is, until I began searching for music to use in my new animation reel, and the piece of music I'd decided on only existed on Youtube.

I tried several sites for this service, but VidtoMP3 was by far the best. You simply enter the full URL of the Youtube video you want, and the entire conversion process is done on VidtoMP3's end. Once it finishes converting, you just click on the Download link, where you are taken to a second page that lets you download the file.

While the process isn't as elegant as being one-click, for the service it provides it's a lot less of a hassle than many sites out there that are jam-packed with ads and pop-ups. VidtoMp3 isn't completely innocent of this, but it was perfectly tolerable. In fact, if you were to use their service regularly, I'd certainly recommend you send them a donation for their trouble.

(note: as of this specific moment the VidtoMP3 site seems to be down, potentially because of server overload. I'll keep you updated on whether the site comes back up, or if it's just a fly-by-night idealistic novelty.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Save Custom Views as Folders in Thunderbird

Looks like it's a Thunderbird weekend this weekend, and it's about damn time, I feel like I've seriously been ignoring one of my most-used apps out there in this blog.

Anyway, in the last post I alluded to the fact that I organize my thousands of emails (as of this moment, around 3200 pieces of received mail, and 2700 pieces of sent mail, over just the past two years) into folders that separate my various jobs, as well as family, friends, account information, invites, etc. By doing this I keep my inbox completely clean.

Because of this, there isn't a way to view all my recent pieces of mail across the several folders, or one large view of all my emails. But no fear, that's what Saved Search Views are for.

If you hit the drop down View menu, you see an option called "Save View as Folder."

From there you can customize the message you want displayed in that particular view. In the following example, my "Recent" folder, I've set it up so that all messages that are either unread, less than two days old, or are starred, are displayed in that view.

You also have to specify what folders you want to include in this view. I've selected all my folders (and their subfolders) except for the trash, junk, and sent mail folder. Note that you have to update your checked folders whenever you move/add folders in your account, they don't get automatically added.

As you can see in the shot on the right, I currently use the Recent view, as well as an All view, which just shows all my received emails in one. This is useful when I need to do a quick search for a piece of email whose containing folder I can't immediately recall.

How do YOU organize your inbox?