Stop That Annoying Auto Reboot After Patch Tuesday Updates

More than any day of the month, I always dread the Wednesday morning after Patch Tuesday. Sure, I like the fact that Windows automatically keeps my system as secure as possible by automatically downloading updates during the night and applying them. But I get so frustrated the morning after. My system has restarted, and I have to go through the entire login and reload all my apps just to check my e-mail and grab my latest podcasts via the Zune software. Not a pleasant thing to go through before your first cup of coffee. But thanks to todays Tekzilla tip, no more!!!

Today’s Tekzilla tip of the day discloses just how to set your system to no longer automatically reboot, but instead wait for you. It was so good I’m going to pass it along. First, you need to open the Group Policy Editor. In XP do a Start, Run, and type GPEDIT. In Vista you can also run GPEDIT from the command line.

When Local Group Policy Editor opens, navigate to Local Computer Policy, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, then finally Windows Update.

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The row you are looking for is “No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic updates installations”. Double click on it, then change it’s state to enabled, then click OK.

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You will have to reboot your computer for this to take effect. Then the horror of waking up Wednesday mornings, dreading the overnight reboot will be a thing of the past.

While you are here, you may also wish to change the “Delay restart for scheduled installations” setting. By default this is set to 5 minutes. This is the screen that pops up and says ‘hey I just installed some stuff, I need to reboot to finish’ and your two choices are ‘Restart Now’ and ‘Restart Later’. But if you hit ‘Restart Later’ you are annoyed again a mere five minutes later. Well this is where you can adjust this. Open up the dialog, click Enabled, then you can change the time from the default of 5 minutes up to 30 minutes.

As with any time you go mucking around in your registry or policy settings, you do so at your own risk. Make sure you understand what is going on before you go changing things.

All I know is I’ll be sleeping a whole lot more soundly on Tuesday nights now.

Do It Yourself Quick Launch Menu

One of my upcoming presentations at Alabama Code Camp 6 will be “The Developer Experience”. I intend to cover three aspects of the developer experience: physical, virtual, and mental. Falling into the virtual category are things like Windows and Visual Studio Add-Ins. Launcher programs seem very popular these days, and I’ll be covering a few of them in my presentation, but did you know it’s very easy to create your own “quick launch” menu right on the Windows Start Bar? (I’ve also heard it referred to as the Task Bar.)

Start by going to your “My Documents” or some other location on your drive. Create a new folder, and give it a name. I chose something short, “Dev”, since it’ll take up some space on the Start Bar and it was pretty descriptive. Now in this folder you should create short cuts to all the applications you use on a frequent basis. You can also create other folders, which will turn into submenus when we’re done. Here you can see I’ve got my shortcuts, plus one folder called “Directories” which holds shortcuts to folders I access frequently. Here’s a ‘best practice’ for you: I also find it a good idea to create a shortcut to the Dev folder itself, so you can quickly and easily add or remove shortcuts to your system.

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Once you have all of your shortcuts, right click on your start bar and pick Toolbars, New Toolbar (I’m doing this in Vista by the way, but it works equally well in XP as I’ve done it there for years).

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When the New Toolbar dialog appears, navigate to the place where you stored your “Dev” folder, click on it and click “Select Folder”.

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Now you should see a new item appear on your Start Bar with the word “Dev” (or whatever you named your menu). Here you can see my menu; I’ve highlighted the “Directories” submenu so you can see it working as well.

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If the menu doesn’t appear where you want it simply click on the little bar to the left of the name of the menu and drag it where you want. Your menu may also appear but “spread out”. If so, simply place the cursor over the bar, and drag it back into a collapsed position as I demonstrate below.

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You can create as many of these little do it yourself quick launchers as you want. I usually have my Dev menu all the time, which holds my generic shortcuts or shortcuts to general items such as my RSS reader, Visual Studio, or Paint.Net. When I’m working on a big project, I like to create shortcuts specific to that project. Thus I’ll create another one for that specific project that will open the folders where my source code or data is stored, has links to open the project right in Visual Studio, and more. They are easy enough to take off the Start Bar, simply right click on the menu again, go back to Toolbars, and click on the menu name. It will remove itself from the Start Bar, but the folder will remain intact for when “phase 2” of your project comes around.

Using my “Do it yourself quick launch menu” I almost never need to go through the Start Menu. In addition it allows me to keep my Quick Launch toolbar extremely small, I only have icons there to apps I really do use many times a day. And the best part is it’s all built into your copy of Windows already. Nothing to download, install, no additional overhead, totally safe and secure. This is a real benefit when you work in an environment where you are not allowed to install any third party applications. Give it a try and see if you don’t find it a better way to work.

A Developer’s Guide to Installing SQL Server 2005 – Part 2 – Installing SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services SP2

OK, so you read my instructions on my previous post, and downloaded the appropriate bits from http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/express/bb410792.aspx If you are planning to, are have already installed the Developer Edition, you only need to download the “Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Advanced Services” link. If you are only planning on doing the Express Edition, you’ll also want to download the link under it, “Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Toolkit”. My instructions below only cover the database, not the toolkit.

OK, you’ve just downloaded the bits and it’s already time for the first “gotcha”. Before installing, you’ll want to make sure you have the IIS components installed on your machine. Odds are if you are an ASP.NET developer you probably already have them, but if not it’s a good idea to check.

In Vista, go to Control Panel, pick Programs and Features, then “Turn Windows Features on or off”. In the dialog that appears, scroll to Internet Information Services and expand the tree. Make sure all the items under “Web Management Tools” are checked. Now go down to “World Wide Web Services”. Under “Application Development Features” make sure .Net Extensibility, ASP.Net, and the ISAPI items are on. In “Common Http Features” check on everything but redirection. Everything under Health and Diagnostics should be on so you can log errors. Finally, under Security all you need on is Request Filtering.

XP is a little simplier. Under the control panel, Go to Add or Remove Programs, Add or Remove Windows Components. In the dialog that pops up, scroll down to Internet Information Services and check it. Click on details, and add FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions to what’s already checked. Then click OK a few times to get the updates installed.

In either situation, you may need your Windows disk handy to install the additional components.

OK, now you’re finally ready to run the setup. Double click on your sqlexpr_adv.exe to see this screen. All you have to do is check on the “I accept..” to accept the license agreement, then click Next.

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Now SQL Server will check to see if it has everything it needs. This is the screen where it would yell at you if you didn’t have IIS installed. Since you do, just click Next.

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Now we get a nice welcome screen. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy now! Click next to continue.

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Here SQL Server is going to make sure you have everything you need installed. If there is anything missing you should fix it before you proceed. If you get all greens, you’re good to go.

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OK, here we need to deviate from the standard “next next next” default model a lot of us are used to. Make absolutely sure you UNCHECK the box you see below, “Hide advanced configuration options” We definitely want to see those advanced options.

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Do you have it unchecked yet? If you don’t, you won’t get Reporting Services or Full Text Searching or the other cool features installed. Go ahead and fill out your name and company. Oh, and did I mention the box should be unchecked? If it is, like the screen below, you can click next.

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OK, here we are on that advanced options screen. As you can see, all the cool toys are set to not install. Well that’s no fun. Go through each one and set it to install.

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You can see below I have all the items checked on. I want to mention one thing. On the box I’m installing this on, I’ve already got the developer edition installed. So I don’t really need the Client Components. I’ve checked them on so I can show you something later. For now, click Next.

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OK, here is your chace to give your server a name. Since everyone in the world uses SQLExpress, you should definitely not use it. Pick a name that’s logical, perhaps your computer name_express or computer_sql. Whatever you pick, change it now click Next.

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Remember a few screens back when I said I was installing SQL Express on a machine that already had the Developer version installed? This is where it lets me know. The nice thing is the installer is smart enough not to choke. It simply says “Hey, I’ve already got this piece installed so I’ll skip it.” This is handy so you don’t have to think too much about the pieces you’re installing, you can pick everything and if it’s already there the installer will let you know then go on it’s merry way. Speaking of which, it’s time to get on our merry way by clicking Next.

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OK, now it wants to know a few things about how to run. First it wants to know what user id to run the service as. The default you see below will work just fine. Next it wants to what pieces it should run at startup. If you are going to be running this once in a blue moon, I would uncheck the SQL Server and Reporting Services options, then run them manually when you need them. On the other hand, if you are going to be in SQL Server nearly every day, like I am, it makes sense to leave these checked so they are started and ready for you. You’ll also want to leave these on if you are going to let other people connect to your box for testing reasons. Once you make your choices, pick Next.

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OK, here SQL Server wants to know how you are logging into the server. DO NOT click next. Instead look at the next screen shot.

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I don’t like using strictly windows authentication. Instead I much prefer using Mixed Mode. Pick it, then enter a password you can use for the sa account. I prefer this method as it gives me a little flexibility on how to use the database. Make sure you pick a password you’ll remember! Enter it and yes, you guessed it, click next.

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Next it’s asking how you want SQL Server to sort text. I always take the default here, and click next. If you have special sorting needs you can change this, but odds are you can click next too.

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This next screen is another one of those “Gotchas”.

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This is really important to check on, so you can easily administer your own database. Check it on so it looks like the screen below, and hit next.

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OK, time for another important question. You can install Reporting Services using the default config, or you can install but not configure now. The idea behind this was to allow you to install but not configure, then copy the configuration from another existing server. This is ideal for the enterprise where we are setting up one server after another and want them all to be identical. However, for our workstation we can simply install using the default configuration, and hit next.

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Here Microsoft would like your help. Any data Microsoft can gather about SQL Server will help make it a better product. In some small way you’ll be contributing to the next version. However, I do recognize there are some people or shops that are wary of anonymous statistics gathering. I turned it on for my install, but if you have any doubts leave it off like I show below. Once your decision is made, click Next.

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It’s finally time to begin the install. SQL Server shows you your choices one last time, and gives a big “are you sure”. You are, so just hit next.

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OK, go get us a couple of cups of coffee, we’ll sit here and wait a bit. This screen will keep us updated on the install process.

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As things are completed, they turn green, as you see here. When everything is installed, the Next button will become enabled. Click it to proceed.

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This is the last screen of the install, but don’t blow it off casually. It has some good info. Scroll the message window down to the bottom, as you see here, and you’ll find some good links. First, as you see on the screen, is a link to the Books on Line. You should download these and install them, they will become an often referenced companion and you learn SQL Server. Below that (just off the screen) are links to sample databases. If you are installing on a developer workstation and have the space, you should seriously consider installing these. Many, many authors (including myself, so you’ve been warned) will use these as material for their articles and samples. If nothing else it is very informative to see how Microsoft created a database.

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That completes our installation of SQL Server Express with Advances Services. But the fun is just beginning…

Thanks for the Memory

I don’t normally do thinks like this, especially when I’m not making any money off of it, but I have to pass along a “hot deal” tip. As we all know, developers computers crave lots of memory, especially running Vista. Staples has memory on sale, including one specific type of PNY notebook memory. A 1 Gig PC2700 DDR333 is going for the out the door cost of 59.99 (US Dollars). That is a savings of well over one hundred (of those same US) dollars. I took advantage to upgrade my HP 8195 Laptop to 2 full Gig, maxing it out.  They also have several types of desktop ram on sale, check your paper. These are on sale until close of business Saturday 10/13.

Let me be clear, I am not making any money, kickbacks, or am in any way affiliated with Staples (other than shelling out my sixty bucks to them). I just wanted to pass along a good deal to my readers who may not have picked up the sale papers.

Voice recognition using Vista

I spent a few minutes yesterday evening relaxing and activating the voice recognition features of Windows Vista. While I still have a good learning curve, it seems like this can be a really useful tool. I would suggest however that you should definitely go through the tutorial if you wish to use it for yourself.

It is also going to take time for you to learn the commands and the ins and outs of speech recognition, just as it is going to take vista time to learn your voice.

So far I have found that some programs, such as Microsoft Word, seem to work pretty well. Other programs, such as Firefox, don’t seem to hold up. In Firefox I found that dictation did not really work well at all. For those cases it might be easier to keep a copy of notepad open, dictate into it, then cut and paste.

By the way, I created this entire post using speech recognition. I admit it was a little frustrating but as I have worked through it, and gotten a little more proficient with the commands, it has gotten easier.

Installing the WPF Bits

OK, looking back I’m thinking my instructions last week for getting to the WPF bits installed were a tad confusing, so I’m going to give it one more shot.

Step 1 – Install .Net 3.0.

If you’re already on Vista, skip this step. If you are on XP, you can download .Net 3.0 from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=10CC340B-F857-4A14-83F5-25634C3BF043&displaylang=en . Make sure your XP has been patched with Service Pack 2.

Step 2 – Have a copy of Visual Studio.

If you have Visual Studio already, skip this step. If not, you can grab an express edition version at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/express/default.aspx . You’ll want to select Windows Development, and pick either C# or VB.Net.

Step 3 – The Windows Software Development Kit

The Windows SDK has lots of cool tools, what you are interested in is one called XAMLPad. You can find the SDK at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=C2B1E300-F358-4523-B479-F53D234CDCCF&displaylang=en . Even though it says Vista, the SDK will also install on XP with SP2, or Windows Server 2003.

Step 4 – Visual Studio extensions for WCF & WPF

Finally, you’ll want to install the Visual Studio extensions, these will allow you to create new projects for both the WCF and WPF. There are two prerequisites to installing the extensions. First, make sure you have the SDK (from Step 3) installed first. There are some bits in there the extensions need.

Second, all of the help for the extensions is local, so make sure you go into Visual Studio and set the help to “Local, then On-line”, other wise the installer will complain. OK, with those to prerequesites handled you’re ready to proceed.

Below is the website to download the extensions. Even though the title reads CTP, these are the latest (and final) bits you’ll see for this, Microsoft is putting all it’s efforts into Visual Studio 2008. You can get the extensions at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=f54f5537-cc86-4bf5-ae44-f5a1e805680d&displaylang=en

Step 5 – Reboot

I generally find it a good idea to do a reboot after installing new bits, especially ones from Microsoft. After the reboot it might also be a good idea to run a Windows Update, just in case there are any security bits that need installing / updating.

Bonus Step – If you have an MSDN subscription, you should also download and install the Expression Blend tool, it will make your job of generating XAML much easier.

DVD Burning Under Vista: Grab & Burn

As much as I’ve enjoyed Vista, the one area I haven’t enjoyed is the DVD burning capabilities. They require an amount of empty disk space equal to one DVD. Usually by the point I need to burn a DVD it’s because my drive is full! Further, it’s slow, and not real friendly. As such I began a quest for an app that would let me burn DVDs / CDs under Vista, and was inexpensive. After a lot of searching I found just the tool.

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Grab & Burn from RocketDivision ( http://www.rocketdivision.com/download_grabandburn.html ) has flavors for both Linux and Windows. It uses a wizard interface to step you through all of the various tasks. You can create an ISO, or burn a disk from an ISO, or take files and burn directly to disk without going through the ISO step. It also doesn’t require you have a lot of empty disk space, a critical thing for someone like me who often fills his drive up before he realizes it.

In addition to the file burning abilities Grab & Burn also has some interesting copy abilities. It will do a standard disc copy, a handy feature. When I burn my photos to a disc, I always burn two copies, one for my wife and one to leave at work as an “off site backup”. Family members also wind up getting copies at some point.

It also has the ability to convert 8.5 gig DVDs down to 4 gig ones by removing things like menus and extras. It also says it can master new DVDs out of your videos and the like.

To be honest I have not yet tried these last two features, I’ve been thrilled with the basic capabilities of being able to create data disks so quickly and easily.

Best of all, RocketDivision is giving the software for free, so the price is perfect. It’s easy to install, light weight, and fast. Even if you are already using another product consider downloading and checking it out. I’ve used it on both XP and Vista so far with great success.

Arcane Portable Passwords

After a long time searching, I finally found a password manager I like. I’ve looked at quite a few, but for whatever reason never seemed to find one that suited me. Today I finally found KeePass and am happy.

KeePass ( http://keepass.info/ ) is a free, open source password manager. It has the same basic functionality that most password managers have, but laid out in such a manner that to me is easy to use. It will generate a complex password for you, or you can enter your own. It even has a meter, which measures the strength of your password.

Be warned I had some issues with the installer version of KeePass under Vista. However, it also has a standalone no-install version which you can download and use, which is what I did. It works like a champ under Vista.

It also has a version (http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/keepass_portable ) that integrates nicely with Portable Apps ( http://portableapps.com/ ). In case you are not familiar with Portable Apps, it’s a suite of tools that don’t require installation.

The idea behind portable apps is you can place all of them on a USB thumb drive or external USB Hard drive. Then no matter what machine you plug it into, all off the apps and settings go with you. Nothing is stored on the host PC.

There are versions of FireFox, OpenOffice, GIMP (the paint program), and of course KeePass. Much more too, so take a look. Great for someone who travels a lot and just needs a few simple apps on the road.

VirtualBox – Communicating to the Host OS via Networking

This evening I installed my old copy of XP (I’m now running Vista) into VirtualBox. The install was pretty easy and straight forward, so much so that it’s not even worth doing step by step instructions. A simple wizard setup my base machine, and XP installed just like it would as a “real” machine.

Using the default of NAT for networking (Networking Address Translation) seemed OK for getting to the internet, but I spent most of my evening trying to make the guest OS, in this case XP, talk to the hard disks of my host OS, Vista.

To save you a lot of grief and manual digging, here’s what I finally had to do. First, I setup a single folder on my host OS, right clicked on it to bring up properties. I then picked the Sharing tab and told the OS to share it with others on the network. (Yes, I’m firewalled, both hardware at the router and within the OS as well. I haven’t been listening to all those security now episodes for nothing! )

The folder I created was named “Z”, for no better reason than it’d be easy to find. I also named the share Z, for consistency. Once I had it shared, I went back into the guest OS of XP, which was running inside VirtualBox. I opened an explorer (aka My Computer) window, and picked Tools, Map Network Drive. OK, here comes the tricky part:

After picking the drive letter, for the Folder I had to use the IP address of the guest OS, followed by the name of the share, as in \\192.168.1.1\Z . I could not browse my local network, I couldn’t enter the machine name, only using the combo of IP address followed by share name would work.

Digging in the documentation it said that running VirtualBox’s network emulation in NAT mode caused the issue, and gave the solution, but I wish they had mentioned it a bit more prominently in the software, since using a lot of common techniques was not working.

A few notes, yes I could have chosen to share my entire drive. However, being security conscious I prefer to setup a single folder and share it. That allows me a comfortable level of isolation, and allows my to quickly and easily scan the contents with antivirus / spyware applications before using the files. And, if anyone should “break in” my exposure via shared networking will be limited to that single folder, which will be empty 99.9% of the time.

To find your machine’s IP, in the host box (outside VirtualBox) open a command window and type in IPCONFIG and hit enter. In the list of wireless adapters should be your hard wired network card, just grab it’s IP address.

Also, the share name of “Z” was because I was testing, for longer term I’ll probably setup something more meaningful like “VirtualBox Shared Folder”.

Be aware that the moment you share a folder between your VirtualBox (or any Virutal Machine) and the host OS, you have a security vulnerability. That may be fine, and will be one of the better solutions for transferring data and application installs between the host and guest OS.

Many people though use virtual machines to test new software (especially “free”applications) for viruses / spyware / malware. If that’s your goal, make sure to disconnect your mapped network drive before testing these potentially harmful applications.

Hopefully I’ve saved you a bit of effort in establishing a connection between your guest and host OS’s hard disks when running VirtualBox.

Arcane Tools: Cropper

Well, the uber cool Scott Hanselman has done it again, found another gem. OK, he’s been using it for a while, but in watching his GrokTalk ( see my post on Tuesday ) I learned about Cropper.

Cropper is a screen capture tool. As you can see below, it puts an translucent window on your screen. You can move and resize this window with the mouse, or the keyboard.

[Pic of Cropper in action]

The arrow keys will move the cropper window in 1 pixel increments for fine tuning, or for quick moves combine the arrows with the CTRL key to make 10 pixel jumps. You can also resize, use ALT plus the arrows for 1 pixel resizes, or CTRL+ALT+arrow for 10 pixel resizing jumps.

You have the option to save in a variety of formats, including BMP, PNG, and JPG, and can even select a level of JPG compression. You can also save to the clipboard if you so desire.

To capture an image, simply double click on the translucent cropper window, or press ENTER. When you do, a file is written to your Documents folder in a subfolder called Cropper Captures (although this is user configurable). I like this, as it lets me quickly grab one screen shot after another without having to put a lot of thought into it.

The coolest thing about Cropper though, is it’s entirely written in C#, and open source so you can see all the code. It comes courtesy of Brian Scott, you can see his blog and download Cropper for yourself at http://blogs.geekdojo.net/brian/articles/Cropper.aspx .

The only negative I’ve found is the name. Apparently cropping is also a popular term in the scrapbooking world, so when I started talking about cropper my wife ( http://southerntinkerbelle.com ) got all excited and tought I was getting into scrapbooking! I hated to disappoint her, but on the bright side the sofa really wasn’t all that uncomfortable.

Life with Vista

It’s been about two months since I converted my laptop to run Vista. ( See my April 5th post, http://arcanecode.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/ ). I thought I’d give you a quick update.

So far, I’ve been quite pleased. All of my hardware worked right off the bat, and has continued to work without issues. The only thing I’ve really altered is Aero Glass. I finally turned it off, as several pieces of software didn’t seem to want to work to their fullest with Aero turned on. To be honest, I’ve found it’s not a big loss.

My biggest adjustment has been learning to do things the “Vista” way. I’ve given up on fighting Microsoft, and am storing all of my documents, pictures, MP3s, podcasts, etc in the default Vista folders. I’ve also tried to use a lot of the provided tools, such as Media Player and the built in DVD burner. Some tools though I’m not giving up quite as easily, FireFox being the most notable example.

I’ve left UAC (User Access Control) turned on. So far I haven’t found it to be that big of a deal. About the only time it gets annoying is when I launch Visual Studio. Everything else it’s seemed to figure out and quit asking.

A trick I learned for my fellow laptop owners. Down in the status bar is the power icon. Hovering over it shows something called “Current power plan”. Well if you click on the icon, you are shown a menu.

Probably 90% of the time I’m plugged in, so I run on high performance. For those times though when I am on battery, I find it helpful to switch to Power Saver. Your milage may vary, but I’ve been able to squeeze out over twenty extra minutes of run time by making the switch.

Life with Vista. So far, it’s been a good life.

Arcane Software: TouchCursor – For us keyboard geeks!

I hate to sound like an advertisement, but I recently found some software that absolutely rocks and I just have to share. I have to confess that I’m a “keyboard freak”. I hate having to take my hands off the keyboard, so much so that I bought a Lenovo keyboard with the touchpoint mouse cursor to use on my desktop, just like what you’d find on an IBM Thinkpad.

Now I’ve found some software that even further reduces the number of times I have to move my hands away from the home position to reach for those awkward keys, such as the cursor keys. It’s called TouchCursor, available at http://touchcursor.com.

What they do is use your space bar like another shift / ctrl / alt key. They then combine the space bar with the letter keys to emulate the odd keys like cursor, page up, etc. For example, space bar + I moves up one line. Space bar + K moves back down, space bar + J moves left, and so on. Here’s the default mapping (graphic courtesy of their site):

This is wonderful stuff, no longer do I have to move my hands off the “home” position to move the cursor around. And even better, the software is completely configurable. I can change the key combos to anything I want, and even add new ones.  It also works perfectly with existing key combos like ctrl, shift, and alt. For example, SHIFT + SPACEBAR + L is the same as SHIFT + RIGHT ARROW.

Now, you may think “well what if I have that odd program it doesn’t work right with?” No problem, the software allows you to turn off the functionality for specific applications. For example, I found it behaving a bit oddly with Virtual PC sessions (probably had something to do with both the guest and host OS wanting to look at the keyboard), so I disabled it for Virtual PC and just run it inside the VPC guest. Or you can take the reverse tactic, and only enable it for certain apps.

It really looks like they have thought of everything, all the little tweaks you might want to do with the software are available for you to do. I’ve been testing this with both Vista and XP and it works great on both platforms.

TouchCursor is shareware, you can download a copy and try it out for 30 days with no nag screens or any other crippling feature. The cost is only 20 US Dollars though, well worth the investment (I just sent in my 20!). For your money you get tech support, lifetime upgrades and permission to run on all of your computers. Not to mention the good feeling of helping out a worthwhile product. All that for 20 bucks? Count me in.

This is a really creative solution for increasing productivity at the keyboard. Rarely do I fall in love with a piece of code, but this product has made my very short list of “must have won’t operate a computer without it” software. I highly recommend trying it out, and using it for the full 30 days. It does take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you won’t want to operate a keyboard without it!

Standard disclaimer: I have no financial affiliation with Rare Pebble Software, the folks who make Touch Cursor, other than being a customer. I receive no consideration of any kind for this mention. I just think it’s some awesome software and wanted to share.

PS Sorry for no post yesterday, it was a business travel day and I got home much later than I anticipated.

Arcane Vistas

Well, I finally did it. Or more accurately am doing it. I’ve spent the last two evenings wiping the C drive of my HP Laptop and installing Vista Ultimate. So far I’ve gotten Vista installed, along with my freshly arrived copy of Office 2007. I’m working on getting my development environment (VS, SQL Server etc) setup now.

The VPN software my office uses is not Vista compliant yet, so in order to be able to still work remotely I have setup the machine to dual boot, with an 80 gig Vista partition and a 20 gig XP Media Center partition. (The laptop came with Media Center, in case you are wondering.)

I found some really good instructions on getting the dual boot working at:

http://apcmag.com/5485/dualbooting_vista_and_xp

Step by step on how to install Vista, then XP and get it all to work, plus there’s even instructions for when you can finally kill off XP and reclaim the space.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about doing development under Vista, so I’ll let you know as I make progress!

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