Thursday, August 28, 2008

Time to stretch and rest my eyes

I have been reading a lot about eye strain lately and ran across the suggestion to focus 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to ease eye strain. So to help with that, and to remind me to do my cube calisthenics I threw together a very simple VBScript that pops up a message every 20 minutes. And I decided to post it here so I would be able to grab it from anywhere.

The 'sleep' value is set to 1200000 milliseconds, which equals 20 minutes, but can be changed easily. The message title and message body can easily be changed as well by changing the values of the initial variables.
intSleepTime = 1200000
strMsgTitle = "Rest Time!"
strMsgBody = "Get up and stretch and rest your eyes!"

While intMessage < 2
wscript.sleep intSleepTime
intMessage = MsgBox ("Rest time!" &VbCrLf&VbCrLf& strMsgBody &VbCrLf&VbCrLf& "Click Ok to continue or Cancel to exit.", 65, strMsgTitle)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Google Gears with Portable Firefox

I have discovered (here) how to make Google Gears portable with Portable Firefox:
  1. Install Google Gears to your local machine.
  2. Create a folder named {000a9d1c-beef-4f90-9363-039d445309b8} under the extensions folder where your instance of FireFox portable is installed (e.g. \FirefoxPortable\Data\profile\extensions or \FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\extensions\) (Reader Drakkim pointed out that: \FirefoxPortable\Data\profile\extensions should be used instead since the App path is deleted on upgrade see his comment below).
  3. Copy the contents of the Gears Firefox files (probably here: c:\program files\google\google gears\Firefox to the folder you created.
  4. Uninstall Google Gears from the local machine (Unless, of course, you want to have it installed on that system.
  5. Restart Firefox if it is running.
Original source:

Note: If you go to this site it will tell you if Google Gears is installed or not.

Update: Welcome Lifehacker readers!!! I am really excited about being linked from Lifehacker since that is one of my favorite websites.

Update: I seemed to have overlooked a need in the first posting of this entry so in order to remedy that see the following:

To uninstall Google Gears go here.
To remove Portable Google Gears:
  • You can exit FireFox and delete the folder {000a9d1c-beef-4f90-9363-039d445309b8} that is under the extensions folder where your instance of FireFox portable is installed (e.g. \FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\extensions\).
  • You can go to the Addons dialog in FireFox (under the Tools menu) and click on Google Gears and choose Uninstall.
Update: Reader Drakkim pointed out that \FirefoxPortable\Data\profile\extensions should be used instead since the App path is deleted on upgrade. I have updated the instructions to reflect this, please see his comment below.

Update: Currently Google Gears does not work with FireFox 3.1b3 (or apparently with any of the 3.1 beta versions).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some Free MSI Tools

As a professional "Setup Author" ( LOL ), I am always looking for (or writing) tools that will make my job easier. And I know that other packagers do the same so I thought that I would put together a list of tools I find useful or interesting in the setup authoring realm.
  1. MSI 4.5 SDK -This is primarily useful for packagers because it contains the newest version of Orca (see next entry). But it also contains Msival2, and several other useful tools for packaging.
  2. Orca - Allows direct editing of the MSI tables.
  3. SuperOrca - This is an Orca like tool for editing MSI's
  4. .MSI Diff - Compare two .MSI files and view a report of their differences.
  5. MSIX - Extracts transforms and binary streams from Windows Installer files (msp, mst, msi)
  6. WiX - Windows Installer XML, the first Microsoft Open Source project. WiX allows you to create your Installer via an XML dialect. There are several useful tools included in this toolset.
  7. CabSDK - Can be used to create cab files.
  8. Windows Installer Command Line Builder - Allows you to build command line parameters for Windows Installer.
  9. Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1 - Allows you to create separate virtual machines on your Windows desktop

I will continue add to this entry as I have time.

Note: this post was edited and updated on 11/05/08
Note: this post was edited and updated on 02/04/09

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Am I the only one to notice that the DefaultDir category often disappears from the category set in the (underscore) _Validation table? Is this a Wise thing or something else. For the longest time I thought it was just me or a template I was using, but I started noticing it at different companies I have worked at.

Anyway the fix is easy, find the _Valadation | Category row in the _Validation table and under the Set column add ";DefaultDir" without the quotes (the semicolon is needed as a separator) and the error is resolved.

Without this entry in that column the MSI fails ICE03.

I should mention that a similar issue seems to happen with the Shortcut | ShowCmd row in the _Valadation table. On that row under the Set column the value should be "1;3;7" without the quotes, but Wise seems to change it to "0;3;7". This is easy enough to fix but it is annoying that this glitch continues up to at least Wise Package Studio Pro (the version I am using currently)