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Topics - oblivion [ switch to compact view ]

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Developer's Corner / Autohotkey robots
« on: July 04, 2023, 09:10 AM »
Hi all :)

I've written an automation process in autohotkey. It takes a file (that's automatically generated elsewhere at 6pm every day), cleans a copy of it up then uses that as a set of inputs to a Windows program that has no ability to be batch-fed data.

It works pretty well -- the file cleanup element does its thing as it should, the Windows program it invokes gets started and the right part of the program opened and the input data fed to it an element at a time, each requiring a little routine of keypresses and mouse clicks. All exactly as intended. I was thoroughly pleased with myself when it worked -- fine-tuning delays between parts of the automated process took some time and when it all came together, I had a great feeling of accomplishment.

So why am I here? Well -- I want it to run on its own, on a virtual PC. But when I set it off automatically (using task scheduler), the only part of the process that happens is the file cleanup and the invocation of the program that's going to be manipulated. Anything that requires the simulation of user interaction with a program just doesn't happen.

I can make guesses why -- there's no desktop being created, no attached screen being written to, things like that, if you're going to issue "click at this pixel" instructions when there's no session being displayed anywhere, that's maybe going to confuse things.

So ... am I trying to do the impossible? Or is there a way to programmatically create the screen, mouse and keyboard that would be there if I'd RDPed to the machine, even though I haven't? Or have I misunderstood the nature of the problem?

(This feels a bit like a version of the "if a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody there to see it" paradox!)

LaunchBar Commander / Changes won't save anymore...
« on: June 13, 2023, 04:28 AM »
I don't know what's changed or why it's happening... but I can't make changes to my LBC setup that will "stick" on one of my systems.

I'm using the portable version. I've checked security on the files and folders and everything looks fine.

The file that gets loaded at startup is TimPortable.mcf.

Any change I make -- let's say I delete a node -- happens, I can rebuild the tree and it all gets processed as expected.

But when I save the file, either by using the save icons or the File/save or save as function, nothing happens. TimPortable.mcf last changed 8 months ago. Oh, and the save icons never grey out, which they always used to.

I can try to save as TimPortable2.mcf and nothing happens. Well... a link to it gets added to Windows' recent files list. But that's it. The target the link points to never gets created.

I can do a manual backup via the tools menu; that creates a new file.

I've redownloaded the portable zip, Just In Case, but nothing.

This tree is fairly big (268 nodes) so I'd rather not have to completely rebuild it -- are there any steps short of that I might try? or any other ideas?

General Software Discussion / Form letters for medical use
« on: March 08, 2023, 05:20 AM »
This might be a bit rambly. Bear with me. :)

I was chatting to a couple of admins for the local diabetic retinopathy screening service yesterday. They already routinely send results letters to patients, but they're trying to do something specifically for people with reading and learning disabilities.

So they got hung up on designing a layout for a letter; there are some agreed standards for font, layout, illustrations, borders, object positioning and sizing and so forth, and the main part of our conversation was around helping them understand what the difference between a master page and a page with actual, variable content is.

So far so straightforward.

However, letters are built depending on the findings of a patient exam and the content will vary considerably depending on all sorts of factors. And somewhere in the back of my mind, some background process was wondering if something like Mouser's Form Letter Machine could help.

I've come to the conclusion that probably not. But the concept: a set of checkboxes and radio buttons that can place prebuilt elements on a page, perhaps with some variable information (like patient name and address, perhaps) and where those elements are very formatted (a graphic with some associated text) and intended to fit within a strict layout (say four horizontal panels with a set amount of white space between the elements) strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that ought to exist already...

I know how to make mailmerge-type documents work, but the concept of embedding a specific object following strict layout rules based on a user-selectable choice in a dialog of some sort, I don't think that's something I've seen. It doesn't feel like it ought to be all that niche but maybe I'm just more inclined to think about automation than most people?

Anyone have any ideas of things I might suggest or helpful things I might try? Or even (I guess) if I could use The Form Letter Machine to output something that something with page design features could be persuaded to pick up and work with?

LaunchBar Commander / Disappeared LBC?
« on: December 27, 2022, 04:27 AM »
LBC has been a staple on my laptop for ages. Used always as a menu minimised to the tray, it's a collection of my most used shortcuts and is completely embedded in my workflow.

Until yesterday.

It's gone away. It's running, I can see it in task manager, but I can't make it appear - no tray icon, the -options switch doesn't work (nor does -exit).

I've rerun the installer. No change.

Next is a full ripout and reinstall, followed by portable mode, but I figured I should post something here in case...

The most recent system changes have been Intel graphics driver updates and an accompanying (and over intrusive) Arc game mode thingy that I've stopped auto starting but not yet removed. And an update from Listary 5 to 6. Either could be implicated.

I'll let you know when I get LBC working again and if I can identify the culprit.

That aside, merry Christmas!  ;D

General Software Discussion / Controlling Edge
« on: October 14, 2021, 05:53 AM »
Hi chaps -- yes, I've been quiet for ages (here, anyway) while various other parts of Life have been escalating.

Quite why they should replace anything as important as DC is entirely mysterious. Sleep less, is the conclusion my rational brain comes up with, while the sleep-loving lizard poking me any time I get rational has entirely different views about dropping below 6h/night.

Er. Anyway.

I think the answer to this may be "you can't do it" or "you can't do it without an extension" or even "go away and stop bothering us" but I present you this conundrum anyway. :)

Work has started using Edge as its default web browser, and has deployed it in a form that doesn't allow for extensions because security and users, and we can't even switch off the favourites bar because... grumble grumble grumble.

So there are a roomful of people near me who all use a browser-based gadget that lets them see realtime info from the voip system we have.

If I were designing it, it'd be in a small, always-on-top window with no address bar or other bits and pieces. It doesn't need to be interacted with at all, it's just info.

But obviously, Edge is used for all sorts of other things too.

So what I want is a way to open a specific url in a separate Edge window at a specific size and a specific (33%) zoom. And nothing I seem to be able to do with Edge itself seems to do anything more than open the thing in a new tab without some sort of user intervention.

So am I missing something?

Basic Info

App NameCustomizable Remote Administration Panel (CRAP)
App URLhttps://www.donation...ex.php?topic=32623.0
App Version Reviewed2.0.6 build 1
Test System SpecsTested on 1.6GHz netbook and 3 more powerful PCs
Supported OSesTested on Windows 7 x64 and Windows 10 x64
Support MethodsVia Forum topic
Upgrade Policyn/a
Trial Version Available?n/a
Pricing SchemeFreeware
Author Donation LinkDonate to hamradio, the Author
Reviewer Donation LinkDonate to oblivion, the Reviewer
Screencast Video URLnone
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product None, although the reviewer wrote the document that was used to build the helpfile included with the current version


Initially built for NANY 2013 in response to an idea. The evolution is documented in the forum topic above so I won't repeat it here.

What it actually is is a launcher specifically designed to be used for processes aimed at interacting with systems that are remote from the end user. It can hold a list of variables (such as the names of systems accessible on the network) and allows the user to build commands and assign them to buttons.

That's more exciting than it sounds.

Suppose I want to reboot a Windows PC locked in a basement room several miles away from where I'm sitting.

I can use Remote Desktop to access the system, log into it, then reboot it.

Or I can fossick around for the syntax for the shutdown command, remind myself how to pass appropriate login credentials and the remote machine name to the command and issue it at a command prompt.

Or I can define a button that contains the static bits of the command and a set of variables that contains the names of machines I might occasionally want to reboot, then when I need to do it I select the variable (which I can have a friendly name for, like "Dave's basement PC" but which delivers DVPCX97126 when I choose it) and press the button and that's it.

Who is this app designed for:

This is aimed squarely at systems administrators and computer support types who work in networked environments.

The Good

I won't say for sure that this occupies a niche that's otherwise empty, but I have a suspicion that it might.

For anyone who needs to remotely access a number of networked systems, particularly when some of those systems need regular or repeat visits, this provides a framework for a set of tools that might well be unique to their circumstances but which makes everything available in one place -- or a set of places. The program supports the creation of sets of buttons in a "layout" and, if you want or need, multiple layouts that can be loaded by picking them off a menu or even assigning them to specialised buttons.

The way buttons can be built is very flexible and configurable. If you want to define a button that runs locally but using a different set of credentials (via the runas command, occasionally a bit of a pig to get working at the commandline) you can.

Buttons can have icons extracted from .exes and .dlls, or even appropriately sized .pngs.

The needs improvement section

Most of the things that you might want different are cosmetic. For instance, button arrangement within layouts is via a layout editor that moves items up and down a list, there's no drag and drop. And although the application is themable, themes apply across the whole app, you can't have a layout associated with a theme that's different to other layouts.

In terms of functionality, I'm not sure I can think of much that I'd want it to do that it can't already. But I have my own views of things and other people may well have different takes on it!

Why I think you should use this product

This is not a program for an average user. You need to be reasonably familiar with the commandline to make use of it, and unless you're doing something akin to remote administration of at least a handful of systems, you're not going to need it.

But if it IS something that looks potentially useful, you'll probably surprise yourself at just how useful it can become -- particularly in creating related toolsets and paths between them.

You create commands that consist of a prefix, the content of the selected variable, and a suffix. It supports the use of aliases (like <programfiles> for example) so you could create a portable toolset too. You can have captions and tooltips for extra visual cues and if you have access to a graphics tool that lets you make icon-sized graphics, you can customise to your heart's content.

How does it compare to similar apps

I'm not aware of anything quite like it.


I'd recommend this to anyone with any sort of remote administration needs. It's not a solution in and of itself, but it gives you the ability to create stuff you'll use regularly and it will save you time when you're doing it.

I liked it enough that I volunteered to write a helpfile / document for it. I use it every day, and its new features (particularly aliases for favourites) have only improved my life further.

Clipboard Help+Spell / Possible suggestion -- variables in clips
« on: January 13, 2020, 06:05 AM »
I have an increasingly anachronistic tendency: I download podcasts rather than stream them, so I can use my MP3 player rather than my phone.

Some podcasts (particularly, it seems, those hosted by Acast), when downloaded from a link in an RSS feed, create files with really, really long and non-readable filenames.

One of them (a new, daily podcast that started at the beginning of the year -- The Last Post, with the remarkable Alice Fraser) is, because it's daily, creating for me a need to have a naming strategy for the things so I can (a) recognise them from everything else, and (b) not overwrite one I haven't got round to listening to yet with today's.

So I have a clip in CHS that pastes "lastpost200101" and I then just have to modify the date part of that to reflect the current download.

So here's an idea: what if a clip could embed a query variable, possibly with a default value, so I could paste the above but have it ask me for the date part of the string before performing the paste?

Find And Run Robot / Possible new facility: runas for aliases
« on: November 18, 2019, 09:27 AM »
I occasionally use a Microsoft gadget called Active Directory Users and Computers. (Catchy, I know. I'd call it ADUC but Cody might get nasty.)

Anyway, I set up a FARR alias (AD) for it but I need to run it as a different user to get the appropriate level of access. I can right-click and get run as Admin but the trick I use on the desktop (shift-right-click adds "run as different user" to the context menu) doesn't work in FARR.

So a couple of suggestions: one, add shift-right-click support to programs in the FARR list. Two, allow a tweak for an alias that will always ask for userid and password for that particular thing.

I appreciate that usually, anything that can be described in a couple of sentences is probably horrifically complicated to implement ... :)

General Software Discussion / Non automated time trackers
« on: June 18, 2019, 04:47 AM »
I'm trying to find something that can track, very loosely, where I am and what I'm doing. Like, some sort of ability to create a few locations that I can associate with blocks of time, past or future, just to help me keep track of things without vast and unnecessary detail.

So I'd like to be able to say "tomorrow morning I'm at xyz, lunchtime I'll be in abc, yesterday I was at ghi all day" and maybe show me something like a diary view. Colour coded by location would be nice, too!

All the time trackers I've looked at want me to hit start and stop buttons and/or do real-time location tracking. I don't want or need that sort of fine detail - or complexity.

Anyone seen anything like that?

Living Room / Apologies, confessions and a bit of a rant
« on: February 10, 2019, 02:49 PM »
I had a nice email recently that reminded me that I haven’t really contributed much here recently.

Which is nothing more or less than the truth. I’ve done little lately apart from asking for a coding snack which, for one reason or another, I ended up having to park. And I haven’t been very good at doing what I used to do — sticking my oar into things or attempting (with mixed results) to be amusing, occasionally trying to be helpful, so forth.

So, for no very good reason, beyond perhaps having some stuff I want to get off my chest, I’m going to do a little explaining of my recent history.

After apologizing for having all but disappeared, of course.

Somewhere around four years ago, my boss’s boss asked me to take on one of my boss’s responsibilities. In exchange for a promotion, if not a very dramatic one — it was going to amount to about £10 per week - and with a little reluctance because it was very much unknown territory for not much reward, I agreed.

Fast forward a year or so. My boss started to be Difficult about a particular issue relevant to a particular member of staff. I’m not going to go into much detail in the interests of privacy but the responsibility handed to me included three members of staff, one of whom was off sick at the time I took over and remained off sick through the whole of 2015. This spun off into a number of issues that had to be dealt with and required my boss to engage with one or two things that he simply refused to.

His refusal to engage with some issues wasn’t a big deal. With others, it just was. I ended up having to go over his head to avoid the other two members of the team quitting. He was not impressed, although I managed to keep the team together.

With the benefit of hindsight, what he spent his time doing was setting me up to fail. Pretty much constantly. And because I’m not the sort of person who enjoys failure, and because I’m quite good at finding alternate ways to solve problems, his attitude towards me became more and more confrontational, including a few occasions where he was actually shouting and swearing at me. So I tried to deal with that stuff -- we have policies and procedures for dealing with bullying, and I followed them -- but with no success.

By the end of 2017, our working relationship was nonexistent. I was, by then, unwilling to be in the same room as him if there were no others present. Our HR Department had failed to deliver on any of the promises it had made to me (me following our organisational policies notwithstanding) but eventually scheduled a mediation session for February last year. By that time, I wasn’t reporting to him any more and it was completely clear to everyone (me and the mediators, anyway) that as he had no skin in the game, he had no interest in solving the problem -- if, indeed, he ever had.

The failure of the mediation to achieve anything didn’t really surprise me. What DID surprise me was when my new boss summoned me to a meeting and informed me that a number of complaints had been made about me.

Investigations were undertaken, and despite the fact that there was no evidence for anything that had been said, alongside the fact that I’d been able to provide evidence for my various statements and refutations, I ended up in front of a disciplinary panel in August last year.

The case got thrown out. No evidence of any case to answer.

However. After the failure of the mediation process, my ex-boss went off sick with stress, and made it clear that he was going to refuse to return to work until the possibility of accidentally encountering me had been removed. I was asked to relocate from my office as a result (although the reasons given to me were vague and certainly didn’t include the actual truth) and I’ve ended up having to work from home pretty much all the time.

By November, I’d had a formal, written apology from our HR Department for the poor way they’d behaved, along with various assurances that things would be done to sort out office space and so forth.

In the last year, in the face of all this stuff being fired at me, I’ve been nominated for two staff awards for the quality of my work. (Didn’t win either, but even so...)

And here we are, in February of 2019, and still nothing has changed -- I’m still marginalised, still working from home, still coming up against stuff from my ex-boss that makes it clear that he’s doing his best to sabotage my career...

So anyway, all this stuff has made me a bit more introverted than usual. I’m not going to say “hopefully it’ll all be over soon” because I’ve been saying that sort of thing for four years now and it just goes on not being over at all.

If anyone has a mechanism for dealing with bullying that doesn’t require a properly functioning HR department, I’d love to hear about it. :)

Post New Requests Here / IDEA: Automagic Digital Photo Manager
« on: October 21, 2018, 03:28 PM »
My father-in-law wants to be able to clear the photos off the SD card from his camera onto his PC so he can (a) free up space on the card, and (b) review and delete any photos he doesn't want to keep.

He has next to no idea of file management. The computer is for eBay and a few games.

So what I thought was some sort of semi-automated process. Identify a base target folder (possibly stored for later use in a config file), make a subfolder of the current year (if it doesn't already exist) and a subfolder of that for the current month.

Identify the source drive; assume \DCIM as the base folder for the photos.

Then copy all the JPGs from \dcim\ and any subfolders it might have into the newly-created yyyy/mmmm target folder, but ignore source target structure. (His camera makes subfolders for month or day but trying to create and then navigate the destination if it's too granular seems overkill, and dating the destination for now won't prevent later organisation based on the file data or EXIF stuff, I figure.)

Then fire up Explorer, or Photos, or Windows Photo Viewer, pointed at the destination.

Then reviewing the photos should at least mean accidental deletions wind up in the recycle bin...

This sounds straightforward but I keep getting tied in knots trying to work out how to solve it myself -- I guess I'm getting old :(

General Software Discussion / Sleeping
« on: May 28, 2016, 06:03 AM »
Windows 10 seems to be a little buggy around the automatic maintenance front. In particular, it often doesn't respect the instruction to Automatic Maintenance to wake your computer from sleep if necessary.

In particular, if it's running on an unplugged laptop, it can result in a machine that's woken itself up, performed maintenance and then stayed on until the power available has dropped to a point where it's forced back to sleep again.

There are two main solutions.

The first is to go look at the automatic maintenance setting and, if the checkbox allowing it to wake the computer at the specified time is clear, check it, click okay, then go back and uncheck it.

That seems to work for quite a few people.

Not for me, though.

The next solution is to go into the power management (powercfg.cpl) choose advanced settings for the power plan(s) you're using and, under sleep, change the ability to wake from sleep to "disabled", at least in battery mode.

Final caveat: if you're a Process Lasso user (and why wouldn't you be?) you should be aware that the "Bitsum Highest Performance" scheme gets updated when Process Lasso is -- which means, that if that's the scheme you use, you'll have to either use a different power scheme or change the wake setting in that scheme back after updates. (But I've told the developer about this issue and he's usually pretty good at fixing things!)

If the above isn't quite explicit enough, let me know and I'll come back with screenshots and more detail. :)

Find And Run Robot / Aliases in aliases
« on: May 07, 2016, 05:44 AM »
Just found a tiny issue.

I have an alias in FARR -- edit -- that has all my most-used editors listed in it.

I added a new editor to it today. (I collect them. It's a condition. Don't bug me about it, I may growl.)

So I spotted a bit of text on the "edit alias" screen: above the "Results" edit box, it says at the end of the description line, "prefix descriptions with "|" (see help for more info)"

So I went through the list, following that suggestion, adding a pipe to the end of the line and a description after it.

And, after a while, found out what I would have discovered if I'd read the help first: the description followed by a pipe should prefix the command, as opposed to a pipe prefixing the description.

This keyboard's an odd layout: the Home, End and Del keys aren't where they are on the keyboard I usually use, so the process of moving the description from the end to the beginning was slow and painful. Just sayin' ;)

One other thing: I did try to get help from that screen by hitting F1, and Windows (10) chose to ask me what I should use to open a CHM file with. Gulp. Really? What have I broken? Messed around for a while, did something that didn't work, invoked help again (from the FARR menu this time) and it Just Worked. So I'm not sure if you invoke help differently from an F1 at that point, or if Windows 10 is slightly borked, or if I've broken something -- probably best to assume it's me, not FARR, that's at fault here but just in case a heads-up is helpful... :)

Screenshot Captor / Controlled cropping
« on: August 25, 2015, 11:13 AM »
I've been using the scrolling capture feature today in pretty much fully manual mode to capture a scrolling window that's really, really uncooperative.

Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. :)

The last bit of margin setting, that lets me set the margins to exactly where I want them prior to the final assembly is particularly lovely, if a little slow when the desired edge is a long way in from the captured one.

So a suggestion and a related question: first, might it be possible to put a slow accelerator on the margin adjuster, so if it's held down for a while -- more than a couple of seconds, maybe? -- it speeds up a bit?

And the question: any possibility of adding a similar sort of manual margin edit mode to other images? (I use the freehand region capture frequently, almost always overcompensate by a bit, and the ability to remove the extra bit round the edges without the shaky-handed mouse-driven selection+crop routine would be useful, I think! (Or is it there already and I just haven't found it? :D)

Found Deals and Discounts / RightNote 50% discount to August 31
« on: August 18, 2015, 07:59 AM »
There's no special link for this, but my favourite bit of note-taking software is on sale (50% discount) to the end of the month.

Seems to be a reasonably regular offer but it's my favourite structured note organiser (the other one I use and rely on is Cintanotes, for what it's worth) so I thought I'd mention it here.

The Form Letter Machine / Variables
« on: August 06, 2015, 11:03 AM »
Trying to do something clever with TFLM -- effectively mailmerge-to-email with all the usual section choice stuff.

As usual, I did my planning in my head three microseconds before entering information into the config tree.

Renaming and deleting variables is entertaining :)

(What's the dropdown above the variables box for? It never seems to have any content in any tree I make...)

Copy/paste into variables has some aggravating results if you accidentally copy in a <return>. Might it be possible to ignore <return> characters unless explicitly specified with \n or somesuch?

I'd like to be able to point the variables at a comma-separated list. So, for instance, I might have:

Code: Text [Select]
  1. names.csv
  2. ========
  3. recipientname,recipientemail,username,userid,validfrom,validto,userpwd
  4. Fred Smith,[email protected],Eric Jones,jonese,Aug 15,Feb 16,PA$5w0rd
  5. Fred Smith,[email protected],Jane Dough,doughj,Aug 15,Feb 16,PA$5w0rd
  6. Jim Gumby,[email protected],Jim Gumby,gumbyj,Aug 15,Sep 15,Gjfd8^51

and TFLM would let me reference those variablenames in the tree and populate the variables a record at a time, so I could concentrate on getting the boilerplate content matched to the recipient without having to fight with the variable data too... so the workflow would be "choose sections/copy to clipboard/next record/choose sections/copy to..."

...I'm asking for the moon and the stars, aren't I? Again. ;)

This isn't really a cry for help as a story detailing some of my experiences that others may find useful. I posted a version of this on Gizmo's (as I used their security expertise for one of the relevant decisions I made here) but it's a bit in the grey area for them because it's not just freeware I discuss.

I have a Win7SE netbook. It's about five years old now -- an Asus Eee -- and despite the small limitations of having Starter Edition instead of one of the more <cough> expensive versions of Win 7, it's been pretty good and very reliable.

Naturally, being something I carry around with me quite a bit, security's a greater concern than it might be if it was always sitting at home behind my router. It's had various AV packages, paid and free, on it over the years: when I first got it, I used Microsoft Security Essentials, then I discovered that MSE was tying rocks round the ankles of FindAndRunRobot so I extended my desktop's eSet NOD32 license to include it, then after I decided eSet weren't quite the company they used to be, I went to TechSupportAlert's security page looking for the current top two or three picks and, after some thought, went with the free version of Comodo Internet Security.

I've been using it for about a year. It was noisy for a while, as it learnt about its environment, but my main observation of it was that it was a bit demanding for my taste, at update time, in particular: the download of updated signatures takes what it takes but the time to apply them and the CPU usage while it does it (bearing in mind this is an Intel Atom 1.6GHz machine, not exactly a powerhouse) is enough to make me sigh and go and do something else for a while.

There are also occasional onscreen notifications that almost count as advertising. They're not too big of a deal, not frequent, but I'm often slightly grumpy about such things... however, a week or so back, one of these notifications offered me a full license for a year for $5. That's cheap enough that it hardly matters, I thought, and maybe it'll get me a bit more performance and a package that sits quietly in the background more. So I went for it.

I shouldn't have.

First, although it accepted my swiftly-emailed license key, it instantly started reporting problems. With the help of Comodo's support, the (huge!) offline installer for the current product was downloaded, the existing installation uninstalled and reinstalled from the download, configured and installed and everything looked fine again.

Except that I was now using their firewall rather than Windows. It is definitely easier to configure, it looks capable, it's nice and informative, but the performance hit the system has taken since the full Comodo Security Suite was installed and enabled has been noticeable.

This morning, I decided to switch off the Comodo firewall component and go back to Windows firewall.

The product started complaining loudly that I'm at risk, and I can't find a way to tell it to ignore the firewall's "off" status and just focus on the status of the AV engine. Performance instantly improved, at least to pre-upgrade levels, but at the cost of an "at risk" warning in my system tray that, effectively, is a false positive I can't do anything about.

So I chose to remove it all, lock, stock and barrel, and go back to MSE. I might try Comodo on my desktop machine -- Win 8.1 with a much faster dual core cpu -- just so my $5 doesn't go entirely to waste, but I'm not sure right now that I want to...

I've never been completely happy with any sort of software suites: I'd rather choose components that fit my needs rather than hoping that (as in this case) the other bits that get bundled with my antivirus of choice were also fit for purpose. I get the concept of integration, I'm just not sure it ever really delivers on its promises... ;)

My desktop PC is currently "only" protected with Windows' inbuilt security: the firewall and Defender. From what I think I know about Windows 8.1 and the inbuilt security stuff, coupled with the fact that I try to practice what I preach on the subject of sensible web browsing (and I use OpenDNS with their more sensible levels of security chosen and locked into my router) I'm probably okay, and $5 isn't much to lose (to the extent that if I ask for a refund I'll probably just add it to my DC donation for this year!) but I COULD try it on the desktop box...

Anyone got an useful $.02 to chip in?

(This won't be the first time I've wasted cash on security software: I bought a lifetime license for Vipre a while back that was sufficient of a learning experience that I didn't even bother documenting it above :) )

General Software Discussion / The Open Source debate
« on: November 12, 2013, 05:27 PM »
I am still fuming over this.

Today, in a meeting at work, I mentioned that one of our senior doctors was looking at an open source product that might be a worthy replacement for the aging and soon-to-die (it won't run under Win7) clinical information system we use.

One of the IT attendees said straight away that he wouldn't allow anything open source running in our environment. Why? I asked. "Well, it's insecure. If the code's available to anyone, then anything could happen. A security nightmare."

Aghast as I was, I had no instant answer. I mumbled something incoherent about open source encryption tools that probably nobody there gave any credence to at all and the conversation moved on.

We all know that viewpoint's nonsense. But I could really use a short, understandable-by-idiots, refutation of the "common sense" view that open source software is "obviously" a security disaster waiting to happen.

The fact that 80% of the internet is running on open source software probably won't cut it. The idiots all "know" that the internet is a dangerous place and clearly everything's held together by string, cobwebs, eggstains, a little glue and the determined efforts of the only software houses worth mentioning, Symantec and Microsoft, and trying to tell them otherwise needs something solid, instant and understandable.

So does anyone have anything helpful -- and preferably unarguable -- I can throw at them?

General Software Discussion / Thunderbird signatures
« on: October 21, 2013, 12:13 PM »
Okay, so graphic-heavy signatures are a Bad Thing. <sigh> But I use Thunderbird at work, because it lets me store a zillion emails without the same issues that plague Outlook users, and I need to update my email signature to include a new logo.

I HAVE done this before. But I can't remember what I used, and right now the editors I have that know about html are including

Code: Text [Select]
  1. <img src="filename" ...

instead of

Code: Text [Select]
  1. <img src="data:image/*;base64,...

The latter style works. The former, for some reason, doesn't.

I'm quite sure I could dig around and find an encoder and amend the code. But I'm lazy, and I'd rather find out either how to make the first style work, or a wysiwyg-type html editor that will look after things like Thunderbird-compatible html email sigs without having all the extra stuff you need to make websites.

(I'm completely sure that I've missed something terribly obvious, somewhere. But I know, every time I've had to do something like this -- and you can probably tell that it doesn't exactly happen very frequently -- I've had to jump through the same set of hoops and failed to make a note of what I did for next time!) :-[

Any helpful advice gratefully appreciated! (Well, almost any. "Encode your graphic and stop being lazy"-type answers will attract derision and may even encourage me to find out how to email a rotten egg smell.)

[Later edit]

Okay, so nobody actually wanted to say it... :)

I've dug a bit deeper. If I do the Recommended Thing -- basically, make a new email with TB, design away until I have something that looks right, then save it as html, sometimes it works.

But some of the time things go Weird. Like odd shifts of paragraph style, without any obvious way to put them back again. I've assumed that Thunderbird's documented preferences for simple html over "original" html are for better reasons than just processing oomph.

It annoys me that I seem to have to use TB itself to generate these files to have much chance of success -- albeit only about 70% if I'm trying to be too clever -- but that I can't edit TB-generated files inside TB.

Oh, and TB uses file links, not base64-encoded stuff. (I still can't work out what I did to make that happen last time round, a couple of years back.) And sometimes it just shows an outline where the graphic should have been, and more often than not attempts to make the graphic come out at exactly the right size -- in comparison to the text -- fail miserably too.

I wish they'd let me go back to sending plaintext emails. :(

General Software Discussion / Lotus Approach
« on: October 09, 2013, 11:26 AM »
I'm a bit of a fan of Lotus Approach. I'm not going to justify that here (but I have good reasons!) but this is more of a plea to anyone who might have any skills with LotusScript and might either be able to point me at some useful online howtos or give me some idea of how to achieve what I want.

I have a table containing nearly 2 million records, the last 1500-ish of which were created from a dubious source and almost certainly contain some corrupt data. I want to squirt out those last records, along with some info collected from a joined table, for analysis.

Approach doesn't seem to "do" record numbers. If it were dBase (look, I'm old, okay, deal with it) I could just open the table with no active index, position the current record somewhere around the point where the problem first occurred and issue a command like "copy next 1600 to outfile" and that would be that. Approach won't let me do that. The record number is dynamic, effectively, so if there's a sort in use, record 1 will be the record that was sorted to the top rather than the first record in the table.

The best I can come up with is to create a numeric field to hold a record number and find a way to work through the records, auto-incrementing that field.

Approach will let you create a field that auto-increments when new records are created, but it won't work retrospectively.

Apparently, this sort of problem can only be solved with LotusScript. There's even a handy LotusScript function that would allow me to get the record number: docwindowobject.CurrentRecord = recordnumber

But how to write a script that will let me use that to create a usable record number that I can then use to identify records I want to export even if I have a sort applied? No idea. Does anyone have any experience with making Approach jump through this sort of a hoop?

Post New Requests Here / IDEA: M3U8 playlists
« on: August 05, 2013, 05:43 AM »
I have an idea for a useful -- and hopefully not-too-complicated -- program.

I have a music player with an expansion slot. If I want to make a "mixtape-style" playlist, it's quite complicated if I want to incorporate music from the expansion slot as well as the internal memory.

If I make a list of files for a playlist while the player's plugged into my PC, the files will include drive letters that the player won't understand.

So I'd like a playlist maker that'll make playlists my player can interpret. To achieve that, it'll need to be able to be told which drive letters map to what folders and where the playlists need to be stored on the player. Ideally, it should either be able to handle drag-and-drop OR have a file browser that can read the music files' tags. (Or even both!)

It would also be nice if it could shuffle a playlist randomly. (For some reason, my text editors don't seem to understand why I might want to sort the lines in a textfile randomly!)

In case this hasn't made much sense, here's what my present workflow looks like:

1. Plug in MP3 player. The PC assigns it to drives F: and K:.

2. Browse files on player from a file manager, select single or multiple filenames, copy the full pathnames to the clipboard, paste them into a text editor. Repeat until all the required music has been identified and named in the textfile.

3. Use search and replace features in the text editor to replace F:\ with \MUSIC\ and K:\ with \<microSD1>\

4. Use search and replace again to replace all \ with / (this is a Rockboxed player and it uses unix-ish path conventions)

5. Tweak order of lines to reflect needs. (If I want random, though, I have to shuffle the playlist using the player itself!)

6. Save file to the Playlists folder on F: as (whatever).m3u8

For all I know, there are 101 things out there that do something like this. However, all I seem to be able to find are playlist makers that make playlists for the device they're being run from -- and as the battery life of my MP3 player is better than my netbook and it doesn't make such an unsightly bulge in my shirt pocket, something like this would be Really Useful. :)

Find And Run Robot / Portable suggestion
« on: July 30, 2013, 04:39 AM »
I was tweaking aliases in FARR when I thought of this but something similar might also be considered for LaunchBarCommander...

How about a tiny change to the logic that says, when you're adding an alias to a portable copy, via the “search for an executable” button, something like (very pseudo code)

if alias_executable_drive = %APPDRIVE% then replace alias_executable_drive with "%APPDRIVE%"

I get that there will be times when a hard-coded drive letter is a Good Thing, particularly when you’re running portably but expect to be able to find something on the host’s system, but I can’t think of a single instance where the drive letter of the portable device might need to be referred to explicitly rather than expanding the %APPDRIVE% variable instead. (Which might be a statement about my lack of imagination, I guess :) )

I'd also like to be able to ask FARR / LBC to search for all uses of a drive letter -- even if a search-and-replace option would be too much of a blunt instrument, a report I could work through just to make sure I hadn't missed anything stupid would be really useful :)

Partly, this is because I can go for several weeks without needing to remember how to refer to the drive letter variable and by the time I need it again, I’ve always forgotten it!

Webcam Video Diary / Recording and post-processing problems
« on: July 04, 2013, 05:03 AM »
Having not used this for a while, I dusted it off yesterday for the first time in ages as  :-[ I've signed up for a MOOC in public speaking and need to be able to record and upload videos of me waxing lyrical to an imaginary audience.

My first attempt, I got a short way into a recording then my Win7 netbook started beeping at me, alarmingly. I stopped the recording and discovered that the minute or two I'd captured had created a 400Mb file. Oops, I thought, no compression.

So I picked a codec and tried again. One of the Intel ones. Results were stripy. Try again...

...and again...

...and again...

Look, I don't know anything about video recording and codecs and the like, but the more I try to more weird results I get. Including a saved video that claims to be 0 bytes but nevertheless has a shot of me reaching across to switch off recording.

The help file doesn't contain anything under most of the headings.

I'm quite sure it's me rather than the software but HELP! Is there a basic set of settings that are (a) pretty much guaranteed to exist on most PCs -- to save me listing all the codecs listed -- and (b) likely to work -- bearing in mind I have to upload to Youtube?

Screenshot Captor / Portable mode
« on: May 24, 2013, 10:52 AM »
I bumped into a spot of weirdness earlier today.

I was running SSC from a thumbdrive, copied from another portable install. The latter is always G: so SSC gave me an error about not being able to find that drive to drop screenshots into. Recovered nicely: created a screenshots folder and suchlike and wrote the latter's address into the settings. Thing is, it set a drive letter on it. So I looked in the help for a useful current drive variable and didn't find anything, so I just deleted the E: and hoped that'd work.

I was documenting a delete and reinstall process at the time, and the final part of the delete process was a reboot.

On SSC's next start, it seemed to be looking at the correct folder, but it was empty. Odd. No matter; finish what I'm doing, worry about it later... eventually, I'd discovered that the initial folder it had created was


and when I'd told it to use


it had created


instead of continuing to use the initially-created folder.

So... dear mouser, please can I have some portable-friendly variables I can use in path specs in SSC configs, please? (Or if there are some already, can they please have a prominent bit of the Help file so I can find them when I need them?)

Er, and although I hate to bring this up, I found this in the help:

"Miscelaneous Tips and Tricks"

Should, of course, be "Miscellaneous" :)

LaunchBar Commander / The spelling bee stings again :)
« on: May 15, 2013, 04:29 AM »
So there I was, wanting to come here to check if there was a way to do something, used LBC's "visit forum" option in the Help menu only to discover that, apparently, this isn't a forum.

It's a "fourm".

Sorry, mouser. Trivial, I know. :)

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