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Archive for the ‘Windows Vista’ Category

Media Center and Vista need a divorce

Posted by onlydarksets on January 5, 2009

Long Zheng posted a link on his blog to a Microsoft-produced retrospective of the last decade of Media Center versions (also posted by Brent at GeekTonic, which reminded me to write on this).  It’s time for Microsoft to uncouple Media Center from the OS.

I jumped ship from Vista Media Center almost 6 months ago, and one of the biggest reasons was a  persistent bug with an identified cause resulted in many of my recordings having an incorrect duration, which made it difficult (although not impossible) to use the files.  To date, the problem has still not been resolved, because Media Center updates are tied to the OS release schedule, which does not permit quick release patches for non-critical bugs.  If they get it wrong, it’s a whole new cycle before they can send out another patch.

Microsoft already realizes that baking everything into the OS is not always the best idea, because it creates a bloated OS and reduces flexibility and limits the options for the individual apps (see here, here, and here).  Given the much richer experience I have had with SageTV since August, I think that applies to Media Center, as well.

Posted in Media Center PCs, Microsoft, Windows 7, Windows Media Center, Windows Vista | Leave a Comment »

Manipulating arguments to a batch file

Posted by onlydarksets on December 10, 2008

I am creating a batch file, and I needed to parse out the arguments (e.g., get the filename, change the extension, etc.).  I always forget these (and where to find them), so I’m copying them here.

%~1 - expands %1 removing any surrounding quotes (")
%~f1 - expands %1 to a fully qualified path name
%~d1 - expands %1 to a drive letter only
%~p1 - expands %1 to a path only
%~n1 - expands %1 to a file name only
%~x1 - expands %1 to a file extension only
%~s1 - expanded path contains short names only
%~a1 - expands %1 to file attributes
%~t1 - expands %1 to date/time of file
%~z1 - expands %1 to size of file

Posted in Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Mounting multiple ISOs

Posted by onlydarksets on November 17, 2008

When installing Office, etc. from our Microsoft Partner MSDN library, I usually take the lazy route and use 7-zip to unpack the ISOs.  ISODisk lets you mount up to 20 ISOs simultaneously, and it seems like a more efficient path.

Posted in Microsoft, Microsoft Office, MS Sharepoint, MS SQL Server, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Vista’s “Shrink Volume” feature

Posted by onlydarksets on November 17, 2008

The wireless stopped working reliably on my laptop, so I needed to reinstall Vista.  Instead of doing it all at once, though, I decided to resize the partition and install Vista to a new partition, which would allow me to access the old install.  This way, I can still access the programs, settings, and data from the old install until I am sure I have everything.

I tried using Vista’s “Shrink Volume” feature, but it only let me free up about 40% of the actual free space on the disk.  Turns out that “Shrink Volume” isn’t really all that intelligent.  It takes the last available sector reported by the disk as the limit of the free space it can create.  So, if you have 70GB out of 120GB free, but there is a certain type of data written to the sector at the 90GB mark, you can only free up 30GB, not the full 70GB (image worth a thousand words).

There is a workaround (see here to disable hibernation), but this is something that Vista should handle invisibly.

Posted in Windows Vista | Leave a Comment »

Phone-based two-factor authentication for LogMeIn

Posted by onlydarksets on October 27, 2008

I haven’t setup LogMeIn because I’m skittish about security.  PhoneFactor looks like a promising addition to the chain that could alleviate my concerns.  It provides a second-factor authentication (the first being your username/password) by requiring you to answer your phone before it lets you in.  If you (or, more likely, a would-be hacker) don’t have the phone, you can’t get in.

Posted in Uncategorized, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Disable loud beep in Remote Desktop

Posted by onlydarksets on October 15, 2008

Ugh – what a stupid “feature”.  I’m testing some AtomicParsley settings in Remote Desktop, and every time it fails, a ridiculously loud Beep comes out of my local computer.  I’ve muted the speakers and disabled every setting in RD, but it still happens.

Enter the interwebs.  Or, more specifically, a site called

Turns out there is a system device called “Beep”.  Seriously.  Stop it and disable its startup, and the Beep goes away.  You can find it under “Non-Plug and Play Drivers” after enabling “Show Hidden Devices” in the Device Manager.  Full instructions at

Posted in Windows Vista | 3 Comments »

The evolution of Windows

Posted by onlydarksets on September 26, 2008

While searching for “Evolution for Windows“, I came across a history of the evolution OF Windows.  Although I didn’t start with Windows until v3.0, it’s all a trip down memory lane!

Posted in Microsoft, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Upgrading the C: drive

Posted by onlydarksets on September 26, 2008

When I rebuilt my SageTV server, I used an old (smaller) PATA drive instead of overwriting the existing (larger) SATA, just in case something went horribly wrong.  That way I could just pop the old drive back in and try another day, if necessary.

Well, everything went eerily right, so now I want to image the PATA drive to the SATA drive.  I have Acronis, but it never really worked well for me.  Lifehacker posted a guide, so I’ll give that a try.

Posted in Windows Vista | Leave a Comment »

Free PDF markup tool

Posted by onlydarksets on September 22, 2008

I had to markup a file I had in PDF-only format, and a quick search turned up an incredibly powerful and FREE (even for commercial use) tool called PDF-XChange Viewer.  In addition to being a lightweight (4MB) and fast PDF viewer (with a portable version and with IE and FF plugins), it also provides markup tools like highlighting, text boxes, comments, and drawing.

For Windows, of course.

Posted in Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Turn off iPhone backups in Windows iTunes

Posted by onlydarksets on September 4, 2008

When the iPhone syncs, iTunes will often perform a backup that is excruciatingly slow.  Mac users have an “easy” (i.e., available to anyone) way to prevent iTunes from doing backups.  A less publicized version of the same method exists for Windows:

  1. Quit iTunes.
  2. Press Win+R (opens the Windows Run dialog)
  3. Type or copy the following command:
    “%CommonProgramFiles%\Apple\Mobile Device Support\bin\defaults.exe” write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true
  4. Open iTunes.
  5. Connect the iPhone.
  6. Make Sync without backing up.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use the command line, a company I have never heard of has released an application called “iPhone Backup Switch“.  As the name implies, it simply turns off or on iTunes’ iPhone backup process.

If neither of those work, there is also a method that involves editing the iTunesPref.xml file.

Posted in iPhone, Windows Vista, Windows XP | 6 Comments »