Friday, April 25, 2008

ATT Tilt - Remote Desktop - Windows Mobile 6 - Download

Even though the Windows Mobile Help shows how to launch and use Remote Desktop, I discovered that it was not installed on my phone. I have an ATT Tilt (HTC-8900) with Windows Mobile 6 Professional. After extensive Google searches I found that this is a common problem and eventually found the solution. A file available for download from PDAPhone.com did the trick. Since 'finster869' was kind enough to post the file, I thought it would be good to give it another link to make it easier for people to find.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

TurboTax - .NET troubles - Aaron Stebner

For several months I've had errors in Windows Update whenever it tried to install patches or updates to Microsoft.NET. Since all my programs were running fine, I ignored the errors and went on with my work. Yesterday, I tried to install and update Intuit TurboTax 2007 and it failed to open due to a problem with (wait for it)...... Microsoft.NET. I tried following the instruction on the Intuit site but that didn't do it for me. After some web searching and reading and a couple of failed attempts to install various versions of .NET, I determined that the best approach was a clean start. I decided to remove all versions of .NET, rename the Windows folder for .NET and install the earliest rollup version of .NET; version 1.1. This still didn't do the trick after several variations and reboots. Finally I found a tool that removes all traces of all versions of .NET on a blog site by Aaron Stebner and here's what worked:1. use control panel > add/remove to remove all .net programs2. reboot3....

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Windows on Mac - Parallels - Boot Camp

In the past few months, I've worked on Mac Laptops that feature both OS X and Windows.The first project was connecting the Windows side of a Mac to a Server for access to corporate software. This Mac, using Parallels Desktop, was pretty easy to work with. Once toggled to the Windows personality, the networking and ports all worked just like they do on native Windows PC. Switching back and forth between OS's is just a keystroke away.My second project was a Mac with Boot Camp. This one required some extra work to get the proper Windows drivers for the network adapters, sound and graphics, however once installed correctly it worked just fine.One big advantage of Parallels versus Boot Camp is switching between OS's; Boot Camp - complete reboot - 3 to 4 minutes, Parallels - keystroke - 3 to4 seconds. Another big advantage of Parallels is the ability to share files between OS's. I strongly recommend Parallels versus Boot Camp (or other dual boot systems). In fact, the advantages are so many...

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Windows watch folder - automate tasks - PhotoShop - Droplet

Someone asked me how to automate a process that involved printing any image added to a given folder and then deleting it. This was something that we used when I was in the printing business and is quite common on Macs but this needed to be accomplished on a Windows PC.I found and downloaded folder watching software called Total Folder Monitor. This software allows you to specify actions based on specific changes to a defined folder. I set up a test folder and 2 actions; launch a PhotoShop 'Droplet' and delete the file any time a file was added. A PhotoShop Droplet is a small application that will launch PhotoShop if needed and then perform PhotoShop actions per your instructions. My Droplet's action was only to scale, print and close the active image.After some testing, I discovered that you can use a command line version of a droplet and wild card the target file; my example: C:\test.exe C:\test\*.jpgThe command line code is entered into Total Folder Monitor. So, anytime an image is...

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Photoshop - Straighten - Distortion - Liquify

The heading almost says it all but I'll elaborate. Working on a web site for a condo rental in Hawaii required that I optimize some images of the units’ rooms and amenities. The quality of the pics was good but there were problems with keystoning and distortion in most of them. Most Photoshop users are familiar with using 'Edit > Transform' with 'perspective', 'distort' and 'skew' to square up an image but fixing warped images is a less known skill. The best tool for this is called 'Liquify'. You can find it under 'Filter'. This is not a tutorial on how to use the tool but I will note that you can 'freeze' parts of the picture to keep them from being changed while you use the 'bloat' or 'pucker' tools to bend other parts of the image to achieve the desired effect. Setting your brush size large and your pressure light allows you to make subtle changes for the best result. Please let me know if this tip helps you.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

QuickBooks - Network Drive - Keep Connected

I've been trying to host a QuickBooks data file on a Mapped Network Drive. The drive is a Vantec NexStar connected via its Ethernet port to the Local Area Network. The problem has been that the Connection to the QuickBooks company file has been lost after about 10 minutes of inactivity. This meant closing the program and re-opening it to get back to work. I noticed that whenever this happened, the mapped drive was showing a type of Disconnected Network Drive while another NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive, a SimpleShare by SimpleTech always stays connected. There must be a firmware feature in the SimpleShare that keeps it alive but is missing in the NexStar. I'm pretty sure I could have solved the problem by moving the QB file to the SimpleShare drive but that drive is being used as a backup destination and I didn't want to re-arrange the file system and backup programs. I decided to liven up the NexStar by using the backup software, SyncBackSE, to synchronize a small inactive folder...

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware - Free Solutions

I've had the pleasure of cleaning out some heavily infected computers recently. I did some experimenting with some new programs and have found a set that I particularly like. For a free anti-virus, it doesn't get much better than AVG Anti-Virus. Now keep in mind that if you're looking for a new anti-virus solution, uninstall your old one completely first. Anti-virus programs don't work well together. Anti-Spyware programs, on the other hand, do work well together. In fact, using more than one is recommended, as each has their own advantages and disadvantages. One of the programs that I found to work well was SuperAntiSpyware. This is a recent find for me. If your computer is heavily infected, though, running a series of programs such as Spybot Search and Destroy and the free version of Ad-Aware. AVG also has a pretty good anti-spyware, but it's a separate download, so if you're still feeling unprotected, that would be another choice.

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Pocket PC - Live Search - GPS

I have an Ipaq hw6515a with Windows Mobile 2003 SE. This unit has GPS capability and has been very useful for navigation using Pocket Streets. This has been a bit cumbersome because I have to run Streets on my desktop to crop a small enough area to copy onto my Ipaq without running out of memory. Another problem has been finding up-to-date information for Streets. Last week I installed Windows Live Search. This is a great solution so long as you can get an Internet connection with your cell providers data plan (or wireless on some Ipaqs). All the information is live from the Internet. The map quality is excellent and you can choose between a road map and aerial view. You can search based on any location including current GPS position and then plot a course to get to a hotel, gas station, Starbucks or whatever. I would strongly recommend that you try this before buying a navigation system. It's very well done.

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DVD - Slideshow - Nero - iTunes

Thinking of making a DVD slide show of your pictures? This should be fairly easy but here are a few suggestions and warnings. I had a chance to compare Roxio and Nero side-by-side and found NeroVision to be better. The most significant difference was the ability to add music that plays throughout the show. Roxio ties the music to one image. If you want to add music purchased from the iTunes store with the extension ‘.M4P’ you'll need to convert it to ‘.MP3’ or another format supported by Nero. Once you've added pictures and audio to your timeline you can change timing and transitions. From there Nero guides you thru the steps to make DVD menus and finally burn your disk.

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QuickBooks - Enterprise 7 - Backups

Quickbooks Enterprise Edition keeps a transaction log (.TLG) separate from the main company file (.QBW). A client with a comany file of about 490Mb had his transaction log grow to 1450Mb. This caused his automated nightly backup to take over 8 hours to finish and generated a backup file of about 1700Mb. After discussing the situation with a QB support guy, we decided to rename his log file to .OLD and try that. The company opened just fine and the next backup took only minutes with a file size of about 400Mb. One of my SQL customers has software that keeps only a daily transaction log so that you can rebuild the data if needed from the previous nights backup. There is no reason to keep transactions any longer than that. Until, I can find a better way to limit this file, I'll work on a script to delete or rename it every few days.

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MS Word Delays - Freeze-up - slow response

''My computer stops responding while I'm typing a Word document.'' Any background task could cause this behavior but I found an interesting one today; his Word Autorecover was looking for a network location that no longer existed. The quick way to check your Word settings is ''Tools > Options > File Locations''. I found the problem by searching the registry for ''\\''. This alerted me to several outdated network locations in paths. Cleaning up old networked printers and other non-existent network paths can avoid delays and slow response.Update: I've noticed this entry getting a lot of hits so here's some more info. Some of my other customers have had a slow Word response and the cause was their anti-virus software slowly checking for viruses in Word. I fixed the problem on several occasions by disabling the 'Microsoft Office Plugin' in Norton Antivirus. There are several versions out there and it may not be limited to Norton's products, so you'll need to dig into the configuration/settings...

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Photoshop - Web

One of my web site customers has hundreds of images that need to be sized and optimized for his site from time to time. Here's how I use Photoshop for to accomplish this efficiently: Isolate and save all the images into a ''Source'' folder - use ''Window > Actions'' to record and save all the ''Actions'' needed to modify one image - use ''File > Automate > Batch'' to apply the recorded ''Action'' to all the images in the ''Source'' folder and put the final images into the ''Destination'' folder. After that I FTP the files from the Destination folder to the web site.

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Remote Desktop - Remote Printing - Terminal Services

Remote printing has come a long way in the past couple of years and works great using Microsoft Remote Desktop. When you log into the server from home, Terminal Services looks at your local printers and ''auto-creates'' them as session printers as long at it has matching drivers on the server. One notable exception is when your local printer is on your local network (not plugged into your PC) - TS won't see it without a registry patch - here's the link: RemotePrintPatch.reg

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Outlook - Exchange Server

I made a document with screenshots for my client to use as a guide for connecting to the hosted Exchange Server. Here's the link: Connecting to Exchange Server

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IE7 - FTP - Internet Explorer

One of my web clients was helping a user with an FTP problem. The user had Internet Explorer 7 and was trying to access a corporate FTP site. This has been up and running for a couple of years and the only problem we've seen is forgotten passwords. This time it seems IE7 was not making the site browseable. She found the solution in the advanced setting of the Internet Options for Windows. See Microsoft's solution for details: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323446/en-us

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Remote Desktop - QuickBooks Enterprise 7.0

I made an initial service call to a new client today that wants to host QuickBooks Enterprise Edition 7.0 on a local XP Professional PC and have the ability to have several associates access the data file remotely. This will require networked ''clone'' PC's in his office with XP Pro and QB installed. I set up a similar arrangement for another client a few years ago using Webex remote desktop. That client had me change his configuration to a hosted server with Windows Server 2003 when his need started approaching 10 users - about 4 in the home office and 6 across the country. This client doesn't expect more than three remote users in the near future so this means he'll only need the ''server'' PC and two clones. He had two used PC's for the clones and one new one for the ''server'' on hand. Since we plan to use Microsoft Remote Desktop, he needed to upgrade his ISP account to 5 fixed IP addresses. I set up one connection using his current IP by pointing the router to the ''server'' box...

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Office 2007 - Excel - Compatibility

Had my first run-in with .xlsx this morning. One of my customers sent me a file saved with Excel 2007 and my Excel 2003 couldn't open it. I found a Microsoft download that solves the problem. Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.Knowledge Base article 924074 ''By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007''

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Monday, August 27, 2007

FTP Backup - Software - SyncBackSE - 2BrightSparks

After several hours of research and several demo installations, I finally found a good - inexpensive backup software. SyncBackSE from 2BrightSparks has been working well for me on my web server for the past couple of months and I've just installed it for a client to make backup to their network hard drive. The software handles FTP and Network drives without any problem and is relatively easy to set up and schedule. I'm using it to make a daily backup from my web server (Intermedia) to an application server that I rent (Aplus) at another server farm. I also do a nightly backup from the application server back to my web server. This gives me off-site copies of critical files on both systems.

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