Monday, July 6, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Muppets

  1. Kermit the Frog
  2. Grover
  3. Fozzie Bear
  4. Big Bird
  5. Animal
  6. Robin
  7. Aloysius Snuffleupagus
  8. Gonzo
  9. Rowlf the Dog
  10. Miss Piggy
  11. Beaker

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How I setup x11vnc on my Ubuntu 8.10 (intrepid ibex) laptop.

How I setup x11vnc on my Ubuntu 8.10 (intrepid ibex) laptop.

First I installed x11vnc via Synaptic (how to use Synaptic here).

Next in a terminal I ran x11vnc -storepasswd. It prompted me for a password (so I set a strong password) then it prompted me to verify by typing the password again.

After that it asked me if I wanted to write it to a file, I said yes.

Then I added an alias runvnc='x11vnc -usepw -forever' to my ~/.bashrc file to make it easier to launch. The -usepw switch causes it to use the password I setup earlier and the -forever switch causes x11vnc to keep running on the server side when you disconnect on the client side.

And finally, to launch x11vnc, I ran runvnc in a terminal.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

GeekNerd Holidays

Being a geek\nerd hybrid of sorts I decided to put together a calendar of important geeknerd Holidays, so without further ado:

  • Starting out on 1/15 we have Wikipedia Day, the day that the worlds largest encyclopedia went public.
  • Square root day doesn't happen every year, and only falls in March once a century, but this year it happens to fall in March and when in March it is always on the third (3/3/09 3 being the square root of 9). We won't see this day again till 4/4/16
  • We March Fourth for GM's on GM's Day celebrated on March 4th.
  • 3/5 is the Square root of Christmas. Nuff said.
  • The month of March also has a new celebration Nerdigras from 3/5 to 3/14 we celebrate all things nerd and geek.
  • Pi Day 3/14
  • Tolkien reading day March 25th is also the day to celebrate the Fall of Sauron!

  • In July we have the 22nd, noted in the European format as 22/7 which, being a very good approximation of Pi, is Pi Approximation Day.
  • A dear day to my heart is the System Administrator Appreciation Day properly observed on the last Friday of July (7/31 this year), I am not a SysAdmin but I doubt there will ever be a Setup Author Day.
  • Arrrgh ye be remembering the International Talk Like A Pirate Day right me hardies? It be falling on the 19 every year.
  • Software Freedom Day observed on the third saturday of September falls on 9/19 this year so, we be celebratin' sof'ware and piracy on the same day, hmm....
  • A paramount day to many a nerd should be (and is) Hobbit Day the day that Bilbo and Frodo were born. Though there is some disagreement as to what day on our calendar this really is, I observe it on the 22.
  • The 23 of this month brings us mole day, not the animal but the unit of amount of substance, celebrated between 6:02 AM and 6:02 PM this is a very nerdy day, Dave.
  • The second thursday after thanksgiving is the International Sweater Vestival so everyone wear your sweater vests with pride, it lands on 12/4 this year.
  • December 5th is the Day of the Ninja which was apparently started in opposition to the Talk Like a Pirate Day. Not real fond of this one myself but thought I would include it for completeness sake. *
  • Christmas is not overly geeky or nerdy in essence but I love this holiday so I am listing it, 12/25. However, it is a great day to get lots of geeky gifts!

Anyone see any days that I missed. I am sure there are some.

Note: Added June 14th
* updated on 6/17/2010

** updated on 7/06/2011

Friday, February 6, 2009

SendTo shortcuts in an MSI

I recently had to repackage a product that, amongst other things, created a "Send To" shortcut.

The Send To menu.

If you right click on a file or folder you get a context menu with "Send To" as one of the options. Then if you select "Send To" a submenu pops open and you are presented with several choices. Most of the options will create a copy of the file or folder at the target location or open the file in an application (hint: holding the shift key when selecting will move instead of making a copy).

These options such as "Desktop (Create Shortcut)" or "My Documents" are actually shortcuts that exist in a special hidden folder named SendTo. This folder resides under each user profile on the machine, except for the All Users profile. For some reason (at least on Windows XP) the SendTo context menu has a "Per User" behavior not a "Per Machine" behavior. This special folder does exist for the "Default User" profile, but creating the SendTo shortcut there will only affect new users not the existing users.

So, overall the project seemed pretty straightforward. The only problem was the "Per User" behavior of "Send To", because of client needs all the packages that we build or rebuild are set to ALLUSERS=1 (Per Machine installs), and we can't rely on self healing since there would be no direct way to trigger it.

My solution was to use
Active Setup as a workaround. I added the following to the package: HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\[ProductCode] I then set the default value to [ProductName] and I created two other String values:
  • "StubPath"="msiexec.exe /fs [ProductCode] /quiet"
  • "Version"="1,0"
So the first time a user logs in after this package is installed Active Setup will see that it has not run on them and will run the MSI installing the missing SendTo shortcut.

If there is a better way to deal with this I would like to hear about it.

You can disable the "Send To" functionality with a simple registry change
  1. Launch regedit and go to this key: [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AllFilesystemObjects\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Send To]
  2. Double click on the Default value and remove the data: {7BA4C740-9E81-11CF-99D3-00AA004AE837}

This can be reversed by adding the data back to the default value.

Also if you are interested in various other things that can be done with the "SendTo" menu check out this Lifehacker search.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guido on the History of Python

Guido van Rossum, the creator and BDFL of the Python programming language has started a blog to write about the history of Python. So far it has been a very enjoyable read, I recommend it to anyone interested in Python.

He also has another blog that I find to be well worth reading.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 in Review

I thought that I would jot down a few things from 2008, sort of a Highlights and Bloopers Reel overview.

  • I started the year with no job, which I liked, but was really not good, money-wise. So I spent some time looking for a job, at the worst time of the year to look for Setup Authoring jobs. And finally I decided to work on building up my side business. I had two partners who had been working on this company for a couple of years as their main job and we were struggling so I thought that I could help ramp things up.
  • I learned many things, but mostly I found that 3 computer geeks in the technology world have a really hard time doing effective marketing.
  • I spent our savings on bills while I tried to get the business to ramp up.
  • Eventually it became clear that what I was doing was ineffective and that I needed to get a normal 9 to 5 job to try to recover financially.
  • At this point we nearly had to move to Oklahoma, because the job market in Dallas was pretty weak for Setup Authoring and I had found job there. And so for weeks I would get up at 2 AM on Mondays drive from Dallas, Texas to Bartlesville, Ok. Work the job I had there, stay in a cheap hotel, a very cheap hotel, a cheap hotel that had something crawling around in the ceiling tiles. Something big. Then I would leave work on Fridays and drive back to Dallas.
  • Since then I have found one contract then another in the Dallas area so while we had to give up the house, we didn't have to leave the area.
  • We started gaming twice a week, "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice." (two games currently, both 4th ed D&D)
  • Several people important to me died this year.
  • Some Greats made more music.
  • Very excitingly a blog entry of mine got linked to by Lifehacker (here). Which increased my number of visits greatly.
And then the year was over.