Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Tech Tips’ Category

Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: Stop Vista Home From Creating “Shadow” Files

Posted by telecommatt on December 4, 2007

30 quick fixes for Windows XP & Vista News – PC Advisor

Vista is saving my data, but won’t let me recover it

This article by PC Advisor offers a whole list of tweaks that fix various irritating Windows "features" and generally make you a happier Windows user. This tip in particular is worth mentioning. Assuming that your computer has infinite resources available, (It must if you’re running Vista, right?) Vista makes temp and restore copies of your files every time it registers a change. Which is good, if your a Vista Enterprise or Ultimate user. It seems like the little guy always gets the shaft though, because in Vista Home, even though Windows keeps making those Shadow copies, you can’t actually use them to restore your data from. In other words, you’ve got a bunch of temp data bloating your file system and this article shows you what you need to do to put a stop to all that ridiculousness.

[Via Lifehacker]

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Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: Keep Microsoft Automatic Updates From Rebooting Your PC

Posted by telecommatt on November 30, 2007

How to disable automatic reboots with Windows XP SP2 – Download Squad

Windows has this way of not just telling you when it’s a good idea to reboot your computer, but nagging you incessantly until you apply.

Oh man, this app just made my day! Over the past two weeks, I have lost material for two different articles because Microsoft decided that my computer needed to be rebooted when I wasn’t around to stop it from doing so. The automatic reboot flaw feature is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to Windows OS. Now, with the power of this little app, Microsoft will never again reboot my machine without my permission!

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Save Your Famiy Holiday (And The Family PC): From Download Squad

Posted by telecommatt on November 7, 2007

Troubleshooting 101 : How to fix the family computer and save your holiday – Download Squad

Face it, if you’re even slightly more computer literate than the rest of your family you’ve been pegged "the computer guy"; Henceforth doomed to a life of unpaid tech support.

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Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: Speed Up M$ Explorer

Posted by telecommatt on November 1, 2007

Windows Tip: Speed Up a Slow My Computer with a Simple Tweak

How-To Geek weblog suggests turning off network folder and printer searching in Explorer’s folder options.

Thanks to LifeHacker for this.

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Matt’s Cuppa LinkRoundup for 9-22-07

Posted by telecommatt on September 22, 2007

I’m behind on my news feeds again. And that means it’s time for another Matt’s Cuppa LinkRoundup. Here are a few stories that I thought particularly interesting. Please comment or contact me with your thoughts.

Weekend Web 2.0 roundup for September 22nd

Filed under: , ,

lypp

LyppFree
group calls from a cell phone, mobile device or a desktop computer.
This service uses your existing landline (if you still have one) or
mobile number, but calls are done through IM applications like AIM,
Google Talk, MSN and Yahoo! The service is currently getting ready to
launch in a private beta.

Somewhat skeptical about mass adoption here. I’m wondering who will find value in this. Is this likely to be conference-calling-on-the-cheap or party line 2.0?

Science: How Evolutionary Biology Explains Office Politics

baboons.jpg

There may be ancient evolutionary impulses behind modern-day office politics.
If human nature is shaped by our monkey pasts, and the tens of
thousands of years our species spent as hunter-gatherers, we might want
to use some 100,000 year-old solutions to fights over the printer,
snarky sysadmins, and lateral promotions. In that spirit, Stanford
neuroscientist and author Robert M. Sapolsky offers Lifehacker some lessons from human prehistory to solve modern-day office dilemmas.

Now ask yourself, “Doesn’t that explain a lot?” Makes you think about your boss and coworkers in a whole new way, huh?

Information Addiction: A recent survey shows most Americans are …

A recent survey shows most Americans are uncomfortable going more than a day without the internet; online activity also lessens the amount of time people spend having sex and socializing with friends face-to-face.

No comment…

Office Supplies: Temporarily Pin Documents with Your Stapler

stapler-pinning.jpg

Blogger Jacob Grier discovers what Wikipedia calls “the least known
stapling method”: pinning. If you rotate the plate on the bottom of
your stapler, it will bend staples outward instead of inward to fasten
things temporarily. Easily remove a pinned staple by pulling it along
the plane of the document. Many modern staplers don’t have this feature
any more, so pick up an old-school model to try it out.
The stapler’s secret [Eternal Recurrence]

Ah, the joys of being a cube warrior again! Apparently, everything in my office requires a staple. I’ve seen staple marks on single sheets of paper often enough to no longer be surprised. As for “modern” staplers, a modern stapler in my little cube nation is one that still works! Which means I’ll have plenty of opportunity to try this little trick out.

Windows: Find Out If Your Computer Is Secretly Connecting to the Web

If
you are trying to track down why your computer is running so
slooowwwly, try using this simple DOS command from Digital Inspiration
to uncover a possible problem:

  • Type cmd in your Windows Run box.
  • Type “netstat -b 5 > activity.txt” and press enter.
  • After say 2 minutes, press Ctrl+C.
  • Type “activity.txt” on the command line to open the log file in notepad (or your default text editor)

This .txt file will have a record of everything that has made an
Internet connection in the last couple of minutes; you can then check
your task manager to find out where it is and take care of it.
Is Your Computer Connecting To Websites Without Your Knowledge [Digital Inspiration]

I might pull this out and file it under Tech Tips. It drives me crazy when something suddenly starts using my PC that isn’t me! Most of the time, it’s nothing to be concerned about, but when it gets in the way of what I’m doing, it’s gotta stop. This is especially true if I’ve been running Firefox for a while and it’s started swallowing my RAM whole.

Major Media Companies Found Hacking The Pirate Bayfrom Mashable! by Kristen Nicole

Some leaked emails at the MediaDefender-Defenders has granted The Pirate Bay
the proof it needed to file charges against several media companies.
These emails prove that some major record labels and film production
and distribution companies have hired professional hackers and
saboteurs to destroy The Pirate Bay’s trackers.

Okay, that’s just sad!

Beware of PDF Files! Adobe Security Vulnerability Found.

Don’t open any PDF files anytime soon. Better yet, don’t
even go to any websites where PDF files may be embedded. According to
hacker Petko Petkov, there’s a vulnerability in Adobe Acrobat/Reader
that lets malware into your Windows box with no prompts of any sort.
All you need to do is open a PDF file or open a URL that has a PDF file
embedded.
Petkov says that this has been confirmed for Adobe Reader 8.1 on
Windows XP, though a comprehensive list of other affected versions has
not been compiled or published. It’s important to note that this
vulnerability has not been confirmed by any third parties or Adobe as
of yet. A similar vulnerability for Quicktime on Firefox had been found by Petkov as well, and has been addressed with Firefox’s latest release 2.0.0.7.
[via wired]

Wow! Major setback for Adobe! Not to mention the entire corporate world… In the meantime, I highly recommend Foxit. It’s free, it’s fast, and it’s not Adobe.

Help Find Memory Leaks in Firefox

firefox logo

If you’re a Firefox enthusiast, the Mozilla community is
currently looking for additional volunteers to help reduce memory usage
and fix any memory leaks in the browser. If you’re not a
programmer, Firefox programmer Jesse Ruderman says you can still help:

“If you’re a Firefox user, an easy way to help is to browse
with a trunk nightly build wrapped in a script that calls leak-gauge.pl
when Firefox exits. If it reports that documents or windows leaked, try
to figure out how to reproduce the leak and then file a bug
report.”

The goal of the project is to reduce the memory usage in Firefox 3.
On his blog, Ruderman details a number of leaks that have already been
identified and fixed.
For more info on Firefox 3, check out the project’s wiki page at Mozilla.

Count me in! I very often will find that I have to do silly things like eat and sleep when I’m in the middle of a project or writing assignment. I prefer to leave Firefox running so I know exactly where I left off when I come back. And it’s not uncommon for me to find that Firefox is consuming a whopping 350+MB’s of memory. A portion of this is due to memory intensive Firefox extensions, but the majority is due to a known memory leak in Firefox itself. So, if you’re a Firefox user, roll up your sleeves and lets tackle this memory thing!

Your Very Own Podcasts–The Easy Way

So
you want to be a star? You don’t actually have to want to be a
star to begin recording and distributing your very own podcasts.
Increasingly, businesses and web sites of all stripes are turning to
podcasting for everything from online marketing to tutorials. Also,
many commuters and travelers now get business information from
podcasts. Web workers of numerous kinds can benefit from learning to
produce them, whether they are for audio blogs, remote presentations,
tutorials intended for a workgroup, or other purposes.

The good news is, the equipment you need to do very professional
material is either inexpensive or free, and there are multiple ways to
distribute your content to audiences that can grow in size if you
engage them. In this post, I’ll delve into some of the best
choices for your podcasting effort.

I’ve posted about podcasts and podcasting before, and I can’t stress enough the value a quality podcast can create for any business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a SOHO working in the basement or a marketing exec in a 500+ employee company, a quality podcast proves that you are the expert in what you do. After all, why does Emeril have a product line that sells successfully? Because he has a show that proves to people he’s the expert, with a personality that people come back for, and that people walk away from having learned something that’s important to them. (Just a note, podcasts don’t have to be audio-only. Vodcasting, with video, adds an entirely new dimension with which to engage your audience.) Do you know more than your competition? Prove it! Podcast it!

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Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Firefox, Free/Open Source, Freelancing, LinkRoundup, Mobile, OMG!, Podcasts/Podcasting, Tech Tips | 2 Comments »

Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: Save Time By Restoring Your Hard Drive from a Disk Image

Posted by telecommatt on August 25, 2007

Thanks to Lifehacker for today’s tech tip. Having a disk image to restore your drive from can be a huge time saver. It takes up an afternoon just installing Windows. Then comes the tedious part– installing all your software, (Finding all that software again…) and recreating all the little system tweaks that you just can’t compute without. I use DriveImage XML for the same purpose, but with this method you don’t need a second drive to store the image on. I can see myself using the System Rescue CD in the future.

System Rescue CD

systemrescuecd-header.jpg

You’ve just reinstalled Windows from scratch—again—but
this time you want to preserve your sparkling clean setup for instant
restoration down the road. Instead of dropping cash on Norton Ghost or
Acronis True Image, burn yourself a free, bootable Linux-based System Rescue CD. The System Rescue CD includes open source tools GParted and Partimage,
which can create a new partition and save your fresh Windows
installation as a restorable image for the price of zero dollars. Never
stare at those creeping Windows installation progress bars again: With
the System Rescue CD, you can have that fresh new Windows feeling any time you need it.

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Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: Switch Windows User Accounts from a Command Prompt

Posted by telecommatt on August 18, 2007

Credit goes to Lifehacker for this one. I’ve been having problems with
WinXP hanging when trying to switch users lately, so this is
particularly useful right now.

Windows Tip: Switch user accounts from the Command Prompt

RunAs.png
You can switch users from the Windows Command Prompt without logging
off—if say, you need to access folders or files for another
Windows user account. Reader PiE writes in explaining the process.

1. Quit explorer.exe
2. Open Command Prompt
3. Navigate to C:\WINDOWS\system32
4. Enter the following command: runas /user:*computer name\*account name explorer.exe

Make sure you are cognizant of which user is logged in because this
process will not change the Windows theme when the user changes. Thanks, PiE!

Runas [Microsoft XP Professional Product Documentation]

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How I Prioritize My Google Reader Feeds

Posted by telecommatt on July 8, 2007

I was intrigued by Lifehacker’s article on feedreader Fastladder, particularly by it’s ability to search and prioritize feeds. After spending the better part of an afternoon playing with Fastladder, I came to pretty much the same conclusion that Lifehacker’s Adam Pash came to. While Fastladder provides a few features that are glaringly missing from my current reader of choice, Google Reader, I’m too much invested in my current reader for me to make the switch.

Fastladder Logo

However, over the course of the afternoon I spent with Fastladder I really began to see the value to being able to prioritize my RSS feeds. For example, if I had only ten minutes to check my news, how do I make the most of that time? In Google Reader (GR), I would scroll through my feeds looking for ones that interested me at the time. Five of my ten minutes were spent deciding which feeds to read. In Fastladder, I simply sorted my feeds by priority and started reading. When I returned to GR, I sorely missed this added productivity.

Google Reader Logo

The next morning I embarked on my quest to find a way to prioritize my GR feeds. I devised a simple plan that, so far, has worked marvelously. Going into the Manage Subscriptions section of the GR web interface, I created five new folders. I named these folders, simply, “1”, “2”…”5″. I then assigned each of my feeds to one of the folders. All of my must-read feeds were assigned to folder “1”. The next highest on my list were assigned to folder “2”, and so on. Now, when I scan my news, all I have to so is click on the folder name and all the feeds in that folder are available to read. I read them all at once in list view rather than selecting each individual feed. Once I’m finished with folder “1”, my highest priority feeds, I move onto folder “2”, then “3”, until I run out of time or my eyes go numb. I’m absolutely amazed at how much this has increased my efficiency using GR. If you already to something similar, let me know how it works for you. If you’re not, give this a try and post your thoughts.

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Posted in Google, Lifehacks, Productivity, Tech Tips | 6 Comments »

Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: GTD with WinXP System Restore

Posted by telecommatt on April 28, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding System Restore in Windows XP

The System Restore feature of Microsoft Windows XP enables administrators to restore their computers to a previous state without losing personal data files (e.g. Word documents, graphic files, e-mail).

If you’re a geek, you probably know how to set restore points in WinXP. But do you actually do it? Probably not. If you’re at all like me, you simply forget about it. Even if we do create a restore point, we probably only do it when we are installing or testing something that we aren’t entirely confident won’t make spaghetti out of our data. But why onlydo it when we’re expecting a problem? Expecting a problem is like watching water boil. If we keep our eyes on it, it never happens.

Try setting up a restore point at least once a week, even if you regularly backup your hard drive. It’s much faster to do a restore than to play CSI with your registry or extract something from your backup images. Personally, due to issues I’ve had with Windows Update, I make sure I manually create a restore point before I install any windows updates.

Thinking about ignoring this because it’s geekspeak? Let’s break it down on a GTD level. Learning to use WinXP’s system restore points properly makes recovering your data a task instead of a project. How’s that for productivity?

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Matt’s Cuppa Tech Tip: Get Rid of Stuck Print Jobs

Posted by telecommatt on April 7, 2007

Here’s a Matt’s Cuppa tech tip from the SearchWinComputing.com website. Ever get a print job that gets “stuck?” You can’t delete it, you can’t get the thing to print, you’ve reset the printer and restarted the PC and it still is just sitting in your print queue? Next time this happens, open a command prompt and type NET STOP SPOOLER. Wait for the to complete the task, then type NET START SPOOLER. Once it’s completed the task, it’ll either cancel the job from the print queue or send the job to your printer, where you can cancel the job from your printer’s memory. Sweet little tip. You can find the original post here. Matt’s Cuppa Annoyance Warning: This site has popups.

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