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 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 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

  • "" 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 ?

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 (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 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 (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.