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Messages - J-Mac [ switch to compact view ]

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The Form Letter Machine / Additional Templates
« on: May 28, 2007, 11:46 PM »
Hi Mouser et al.

I just downloaded and installed the Form Letter Machine.  It's a great idea and packaged in a nice compact application.  I do have a couple pf requests, however.  (Don't I always?!)

  • I mistakenly presumed that the program came with a number of pre-written paragraphs.  Templates, if you will, in a variety of standard subjects.  I know that some other similar applications come with a lot of such templates.  (For an example, see Blitz Document at  Are there more templates available on  Or is the one included template meant as a guide for creating our own?

  • Assuming that the included MS Word template is the only one available, would it be possible to assign a page where users/DC members could upload templates that are fairly generic for other users to download?  Kind of a Form Letter Machine Template Repository?

  • Where can I find some study/learning resources for scripting as is necessary to create my own form letter templates?  I am definitely NOT very adept at code writing, even for relatively simple scripts, though I am an extremely fast learner.  It would be beneficial to me if you or someone could point me toward a website where I could read up on whatever language it is that uses the coding required for creating Form Letter Templates.  Or is the Form Letter Machine designed only for those who are more experienced in this coding?  (If so, then maybe you could note that on your programs that require more knowledge than the average idiot like me has in our repertoire!!)

Thank you.


Skrommel's Software / MultiMonitor Manager Features
« on: May 28, 2007, 03:46 PM »
Before I install MultiMonitor Manager and get my PC really confused, is ther a feature list or guide so I can see exactly what MM Manager is designed to do?

I have all but given up on Nvidia's Desktop Manager - it has driven me thoroughly crazier than when I started!! And I also ran a trial of an application called UltraMon, but that had some idiosyncrasies that weren't entirely cool also.

Does MultiMonitor Manager allow assigning apps to open in one display or the other?  More importantly, does it address viewing video (streaming, WMP, Hauppauge TV Tuner, etc.) in full screen on the secondary monitor while the app is minimized on the primary monitor? (nVidia is supposed to handle this but it has gone a little wild at times, going full-screen on my primary monitor and not allowing access to anything else -- forcing a reboot. And nVidia does not support individual customers. :huh:)



Oops!  That says 2002!  I don't know why, but I saw "2007" when I first looked. Wishful thinking, I guess.

I have TweakUI with the same setting, but I am not too sure it will change anything but which window is getting the focus.


By the way:


• If you installed PowerToys prior to April 23, 2002, you must uninstall your old PowerToys before installing the versions available here.
• PowerToys only work with U.S. English regional settings. 

From experience I know that some PowerToys actually work with other languages as well, but not all.

Now that's interesting. I didn't realize they had updated TweakUI. I'll uninstall the old and install the new -- see what they did for it.


J-Mac; we forgot to also make the obvious point, didn't we.
When you raise the dragon's priority, using Process Tamer, you should of course also lower Windows Desktop Search's priority to below normal or even idle.


I removed Windows Desktop Search as soon as I realized that it would not let me alter any of its behavior. MS must have built in a "strong man" feature to it. I couldn't find a way to even touch its priority. Irritating as all heck! I'll live with OneNote 2007 having lesser search capabilites, if they won't let it take advantage of Copernic or X1!!

Thanks Curt.

Nice trick, justice!

[ Invalid Attachment ]

TweakUI is a part of MS powertoys, and can be downloaded here:
Thanks folks, but that was already installed and set a year ago. Not sure what it does do, but it doesn't help with this.   :(

Thanks Curt. Yes, I run Dragon only when using it. Like I said earlier, if I am just browsing or something similar -- as long as it doesn't involve heavy input -- I don't start Dragon and I use the keyboard and mouse. Only when I am typing a lot in Word, the Journal, or anything that is input-intensive like that do I dictate the input via Dragon NS. Otherwise I get a lot of typos, and almost all originating on the left side of the keyboard... confirming that my left arm/hand isn't quite getting it done as well as it should.

I'll run like this for a while and see if it helps. However I would still like to see something that would give me an indication of which application or service has started doing this.

Thanks again.


When you run Media Player Classic in fullscreen mode, if a utility steals focus and kicks it out of fullscreen mode it tells you the name of the erring utility. I suppose there would be cleaner ways to do this but if you just want a quick search and destroy solution this should do.

I never realized that. Good point!  Thanks.

A hole lot easier just to raise the Priority to RealTime / 24.
That is, the priority of the window/app that I want in focus, correct?

BTW, I just changed a few settings in Mouser's Process Tamer that might help, too.  Guess I'll see.


I can't help you directly, but have you tried any of the applications that "nail" or "pin" a particular window on top?  A list of several can be found > here <

No, but do these actually prevent the focus from being lost?

IOW, currently nothing I am seeing takes over and places a window on top; I just see the current window in which I am working dim slightly and the focus is gone -- to where, I don't know! I am not having dificulty keeping windows on top. But the focus is something else entirely.


Hello all.  This is a request for a software recommendation -- or a request for a new small program.

I, like most, have a number of utilities that run in the background while I work on my PC.  Besides my AV and AS, there are a few others that I allow to run because it is convenient to do so.  However there are some times when I must have full CPU, or when I cannot afford for anything in the background to steal focus.  For this I have found that a PC Magazine utility, Startup Cop 2, works well for me.  It allows you to setup numerous profiles with different startup programs.  So if I plan to just browse the web or write emails -- what I will call very general, but light PC activity -- I use my default profile: it has all the background applications that I like and will tolerate under the best circumstances auto-starting. Then I have other profiles where I only allow certain apps to start, depending on the situation - what I will be working on and how sensitive it is to background "interruptions".  And I also have a profile that is almost equivalent to Safe Mode.  It allows only my AV and AS to start automatically.

There are some apps that run in the background that may affect my usage more than some others.  For example, I do not have full use of one arm/hand, and keyboard usage is getting more difficult for me, so I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional version more and more.  However if anything is running in the background that occasionally steals the focus, it can throw me way off while dictating. I had installed Windows Desktop Search even though my preferred desktop search is Copernic 2, with X1 as my second choice. I installed the Windows Search only because it is recommended for use with OneNote 2007 - OneNote will not use any other desktop search, of course. (Thanks a lot, Bill!)  However Windows Desktop Search installs itself as a service and even when indexing is turned off and the program is closed, it continually grabs 1 to 2% CPU and then releases it. Doesn't sound bad, but any "Select and Say" application that I am using with Dragon loses focus as soon as the Windows Search grabs any CPU at all.  Which means that only part of what I am dictating gets "heard".  Any of you who has to rely on speech recognition for PC input will understand just how disruptive this is!!  Even when using the keyboard, something occasionally grabs focus and the last line you typed is lost - never got there! Ever experience that?

So presently I try to select my Startup Cop 2 profiles carefully and work with only those items running in the background that I know won't be disruptive. However every now and then something starts stealing focus and I cannot figure out easily which app is doing it.  I use the Task Manager, Process Explorer, the Event Viewer, and a couple other utilities to try and figure out exactly what is  happening during those times, but that can be very time consuming, and even with investigating things that way I cannot always find the culprit easily.

Is there anything available that anyone can recommend that shows a log of all activity over time? Something that would tell me at a glance what most likely stole focus at the moment I noticed it was gone? With all the tools already available I do not want just a reworking of any of those; just something quicker, easy to view, and that doesn't analyze everything going on -- just what had focus and what may have taken focus away.

Thanks for any and all advice!


Living Room / Re: Why don't you pay for software?
« on: May 26, 2007, 01:15 AM »

I've highlighted a key word or two in my original quote: you and I, as far as I can tell, aren't as far apart as you apparently think! I guess my choice of the word "respect" was unfortunate... Equally unfortunate is that I can't think of a better one right now. I was trying to say that if one is going to make a case for stealing, surely they could come with something better than "the product sucks, so it's ok to steal it". At least saying the you steal because you find the price more than you can bear is... stumped again, but how about: understandable?
You're right; looking at it, I think I must have misunderstood your post.  I had just read through all the posts up to that point and replied to yours as the last one I read. Sorry if I sounded as if I was aiming it at you! Though I think I had thought you were trying to justify -- to an extent, even if only a mild extent -- the appropriateness of stealing software based solely on its cost. Sorry!  Didn't mean to "preach" at you, Darwin!

Living Room / Re: Why don't you pay for software?
« on: May 25, 2007, 01:59 PM »
I don't usually pay for software because there are too many frere/open-source programs that do exactly (and sometimes more) then the commercial alternatives. This comes to mind, mostly with graphic programs and VB.NET components for GUIs (I develop free software).


Crush's points aside (which I read with interest and can see where he's coming from), dhuser's argument about using freeeware/open source is valid.

Regarding my earlier post and the quote that I made in it, I can even respect, even if I don't agree with, an argument about ripping off Microsoft or Adobe because their stuff is too expensive. However, stating that you rip a company off because their products suck is ridiculous! How many car thieves target rusted and clapped out non-exotic cars?
This is where I differ: Just because a company's products are too expensive, I don't feel I have any right whatsoever to steal the product.  If I did feel that way about, say, Chevrolet, I wouldn't think to steal a Chevy to "get back" at them!

I either pay up and grumble like everyone else, or I make do with alternative applications. But I won't steal them.


Living Room / Re: poll: how old are you?
« on: May 25, 2007, 01:52 PM »
Gah, I thought at 54-56 I'd be the only old-timer here. What a surprise to see I'm still just "middle-aged" though I have to admit there was a time when I thought "middle-aged" was definitely "over the hill." Funny what a few years'll do to an opinion, huh?

 :o ;) :Thmbsup:
Bob, I'm right with you! Same bracket. (And don't let them kid you.... we ARE over the hill!!)

Living Room / Re: poll: how old are you?
« on: May 25, 2007, 01:50 PM »
This is truly heartening!  :D

Here I was beginning to think that I was the only person much past puberty to use a PC with more than a passing glance. If I happen to attend an event that is PC-related, you should see the stares: "Who's he? Did he invent the computer??"    :o ;D  And I'm not even approaching 60 yet.

Seriously, though, it is great to see so many of us who are not as young as we once were here sharing their experience.  :)


Well, using that logic, I guess you could make the claim that you could use Evernote in place of Word, Notepad, or really any application that is note/text editing related. But I think that most do not wish to do so, or the other journal/text editing/note-taking programs would be out of business!   :-\

The features that many look for are one's more specific to their needs, rather than taking generic applications and force-fitting them to do all.

Just my opinion.

I checked the features and compared them to EverNote. Interesting to see that the <b>free</b> version of EverNote seems to give the user almost <b>all</b> the same features. Doesn't it?

Some aspects of EverNote (like the searching capability, the tagging system, the Multiple Note Formats, The universal clipper, the support for various pen devices, etc.)actually seem even more powerful. But I'll see after trying The Journal.

Right now, I actually use EverNote in conjunction with a Word Document -- as I suggested before. But I guess I fcould rely exclusively on since it's got probably most of the features one might want for a journal (like : very very easy to see everything <b>chronologically AND sorted through the different categories</b>).

I guess I just love EverNote.  :)
Simple, free, yet very powerful.

I use "The Journal" available at  Definitely worth a look - they have a full-featured 45 day trial you can download.

I was looking for such a program for quite a while but was really limiting myself by requiring that the application have both a desktop PC and Pocket PC version available. But I finally gave up on that and started looking for simply the best PC journal software I could find - and The Journal fit the bill.  Excellent developer support with a very active Yahoo group (though I don't really like Yahoo groups!). This one gives me all that I need, plus has a lot of additional features that I am not presently using, but I hope to use someday.

It's not inexpensive, but it satisfies all of my requirements, and has some extras that are really great.

Oops - I just noticed that superboyac did mention this software in his initial post -- and he is correct in that this application is not really interactive with other applications, though you can link a number of other document types to it, as well as embed them in your journal pages.

General Software Discussion / Re: PC Diagnotic Software?
« on: May 17, 2007, 10:40 PM »
30 day trial with undo features
free with undo features

no undo feature and cleans thoroughly
make a system restore point before running this

spyware programs-




30 day trial period

defrag with ms defrag

still having trouble after virus scanning?

a complete log

post here after doing the above

may take them a few days to get to you
and they may have added more programs to run before posting a hijack log


I'm clean of malware -- or at least as clean as I am going to get.  I run NOD32 V. 2.7 AV, Counterspy 2 Antispyware, and I also am using SpywareBlaster to keep my list of bad sites updated.

I run Ccleaner as a general cleaner, as well as jv16 Powertools 2006 (licensed version) for registry monitoring/cleaning. And I run PerfectDisk by Raxco for defragging.  It's not malware that's affecting my PC. When the Windows startup slows down, it is usually a bit of a battle among two or more applications or services for the same resource or resources.  I try not to run anything that I suspect would have conflicts, but it is hard to know about some until it happens!

Microsoft's Bootvis was a good tool for analyzing what happens during startup, and when -- the sequence. It also allowed me to see when the longest delays occur, thus pointing out to me which app or apps are causing the sluggishness. XP supposedly incorporates some of the features of Bootvis into the OS, but you no longer get to see a clear picture of exactly what happens during the startup. I still have the latest version of Bootvis, but it doesn't work with dual processors, unfortunately. Sysinternal's Procmon - Process Monitor - also has a similar feature -- you can set it to run during a reboot and it will create a detailed log of all startup activity.  However on some systems it throws a "fatal error"; mine happens to be one of those systems.  :(

If you discount the Microsoft system startup items, I don't have a lot of applications in my startup configuration.  However every now and then I'll get a slowdown like this and it would be great to be able to see what is happening during startup.

As for the shutdown, my only issue is the Dr. Watson debugger. I already deleted the AeDebug registry key -- actually I deleted it a few times!  Occasionally a MS Hotfix restores it.  However even with the registry key deleted presently, it tries to initiate at shutdown, and if you don't see the dialog appear, it just keeps the system kind of frozen until you respond to the popup dialog. I need to find a more certain way of disabling it.


Thank you, good friends!  I'll go over and take a look at all.

I don't mind paying for the application, BTW. I just can't justify -- nor afford! -- Camtasia Studio for the very limited use I have for it.

Sorry I didn't post back earlier; my email notifications go to an email address that I don't normally monitor. Apparently DonationCoder uses the email address of the PayPal account I used to make my initial donation. I really don't use that email address for anything else -- just PayPal payments and correspondence from PayPal. I only check it every couple of days. I had listed my regular email address when I first registered here, but as I said, the email address I used to donate from is the one that all forum messages are sent to.

Can that be easily changed?


I want to create some video tutorials but not enough to come up with the $300 that TechSmith wants for Camtasia Studios. Plus, I have a feeling that Camtasia is a lot more than what I need.

This will not be a "daily use" application for me; quite the contrary, I will only need to use it once in a great while. I remember not too long ago seeing a reasonable freeware or shareware version of just such a tool, but of course now that I have decided that I need it, I can't find it nor remember exactly what it was called!

Any suggestions?


I frequent the "deal websites"... here's a program "Total 3D Home Design Deluxe 9.0" for $0 after $25 mail in rebate from CompUSA...

Total 3D Home Design Deluxe 9.0

I don't know anything about the program, but if you're good at actually sending in rebates it's a good deal.

This is the program I mentioned in my post above:  I have used it for years and while a professional architect would consider this to be "light", for home users it is actually pretty awesome.

General Software Discussion / Re: PC Diagnotic Software?
« on: May 05, 2007, 01:07 PM »
I thought I would add this question:

If after installing software - nothing weird; all from well-known, trusted developers - and your start-up times drastically increase, how do you investigate what is causing it and look for clues as to how to improve it?  (And please, no outlandish answers like, "Well I just install my OS and nothing else because all software is troublesome"!   :P

General Software Discussion / Re: PC Diagnotic Software?
« on: May 05, 2007, 01:04 PM »
I understand need to tinker and tweak but it seems to me you have been doing it the wrong way. Like running "Registry Cleaner SuperDeluxe" and now wondering why OS misbehaves, crashes or how come you cant "tweak" services without checking dependencies. Where does the need for all this diagnosing come from is the question you should answer instead of looking for wonder tool.  XP does not have "tendency" for slow boot, slow shutdown, slow hd scanning, whatever. Certainly specific problems with X or Y but also specific solutions, since 2001. Also goes for 3rd party drivers, may be even more those. I dont think you solve much by trying to see what is "hidden". Should you have one of those specific problems then perhaps memory dumps, logs are useful. If computer is working and you set it up right such are waste of time.

Some of Nirsofts tools adds to Sysinternals and what is already available in XP like event viewer Checking codecs, shell extensions etc. is all very useful. If you really need more it is because you feel the need ;) Regular (power)user who wants to know what is up and down dont need more. More can be worse. Dont think there is a do-it-all tools for this. Have to collect :) SIW is good though as is Winaudit - both mainly for reporting.

Wasting my time?  Well, it's my time and I'll "waste" it that way if I like.

Who made you in charge of what is considered time-wasting and what is not?  Methinks you need to be careful of tossing those stones around....  ;)

General Software Discussion / Re: PC Diagnotic Software?
« on: May 05, 2007, 01:02 PM »
...PS Not having a dualcore processor, maybe I'll have better luck with Process Monitor. I've got it on my harddrive somewhere...
Make sure that you have the latest version.  Mark has made process Monitor to completely replace RegMan and FileMon so it does a lot more now than before.

Also, look around for Bootvis - it actually does gather all of the info on start-up that we need; just not particularly easy to gather it together into something simple to look at. Download available at MajorGeeks, and also at Softpedia, though the latter is showing Yellow on the SiteAdvisor bar if that interestes you.   :D

General Software Discussion / PC Diagnotic Software?
« on: May 05, 2007, 11:50 AM »
I am always looking for applications that allow for some basic, usable diagnostic testing in Windows.  I remember way, way back I used Norton Utilities -- I'm talking in the DOS days, and I think even in the very early Windows days.  It was pretty much a lifesaver at that time, though later incarnations of it (Read: SystemWorks) declined severely in quality and functionality, unfortunately.

More recently, though, it has become really difficult to find good, all-around system utilities that have serious diagnostic tools.  I have tried many over the past four or five years and found most to be lacking any real development; most were just collections of other tools -- usually freely available elsewhere -- in one package.  I am not looking for that kind of collection, as I probably have those tools already in some form or another.  Sysinternals, snapped up by Microsoft last year, is probably the best single source for analytical tools I can think of offhand, and I have all of those -- though I will readily admit that when it comes time to really dig in and try to find the cause of some nasty PC crashes, or some other issue, I get lost very quickly trying to use many of Mark's tools together to paint a clear picture of what is going wrong.

Basically, the type of diagnostic tools that I feel are desperately needed by most, if not all, PC users are as follows, not necessarily in this order:

    • PC Start-up Monitor and Analysis:  A tool that monitors exactly what happens during start-up, logs what happens, the order it all happens in, and any conflicts that occur during start-up.  For example, have you ever had a system where it just starts taking forever to start-up?  And you cannot pinpoint what is causing it?  The usual method is to deselect all start-up items in msconfig and then reselect each one at a time, then go through a start-up and shutdown cycle with each. That takes forever and still doesn't let you know exactly why any one particular program is causing the slowdown.  Plus, worse yet, the cause is usually more than one program dueling over which one get first access to a shared file or DLL, or the like.  You might never determine exactly what the cause is for that.  Also, knowing the actual order that programs start in would help to understand what is happening.

      The only two such tools I know of are Bootvis, which was available for a few years from Microsoft.  You run it and configure it to monitor a start-up cycle.  Then you can review its logs to determine what happens during start-up.  However it does not really produce very clear results.  There are ways to configure Bootvis to be a little more revealing, but no Microsoft instructions will tell you.  You have to search the web for articles others have written.  Good luck!  BTW, Microsoft no longer develops Bootvis at all.  They claim..  ahem... that since XP their OS handles start-up so well on its own that there is no longer any need for such an application.  Really!?!  I beg to differ!  You can still search and find copies of it available.  One big problem, though: Bootvis does not support dual processors, so I can't get it to work well at all now.  Some say they have a way to get around that, but I haven't been successful doing so.

      The other program that claims to monitor what happens during start-up is Process Monitor from Sysinternals.  It has a tool that you can enable that supposedly will monitor all start-up activity.  It does warn, however that if you receive a "Fatal Crash" error on that bootup, you must select the "Last good configuration" option and then not try it again.  Of course that is exactly what happened when I tried it.  (Possibly the same "dual processor" issue as Bootvis?) Anyway, I am still searching for a good -- or even adequate -- start-up monitor/logger.

    • Same exact tool as above, but for Windows Shutdown.  Sometimes a recent installation causes Windows to habg at shutdown -- occasionally to the point where you have to manually power off and on again.  Same monitoring tool needed for this, but I have not found one that works.

    • A reliable tool for checkintg the health of hard disk drives -- other than scandisk or its recent successor.  Scandisk has a tendency to get "stuck" and insist on running at each reboot, and it takes a looong time!  This is where Norton Utilities used to shine!  There are several tools available that claim to do this better than the rest.  I am certain that most of them don't, and that only a few have gotten it right.  But it would take a lot of time and money to find out which.  Not a lot of great reviews on such tools available -- I guess those reviews just aren't as sexy as productivity applications!  Anyone have good personal recommendations here?  BTW, I am not looking for "I heard that this one is good"; I've heard all that, too.  If any here actually USE one they would recommend, let's hear it.

    • Similar tool as above disk scanner, but for USB drives?  I DID actually have one at one time, but..... I CAN'T FIND IT!!!  (Hate it when that happens!!)  And searches have only pulled up ones that aren't available on  what I would consider "safe" sites.  (I try to stay away from SiteAdvisor RED light sites!).  Appreciate any help there.

    • A final fix -- or complete, permanent removal method/tool -- for old Dr, Watson.  I need for the Doc to either work or get off the pot!  In all the years I have been using microcomputers that had Dr. Watson on them, the Doc has haunted me and then outright tease me about it!  In all my dealings with Microsoft, I have never once been able to convince anyone there to even accept my Dr. Watson logs -- NO one wants to see them!  No one at all.  Unless someone can convince me that there might actually be a time that someone will be able to use the Doc Watson logs for anything at all, then I have no use for Dr. Watson.  I have used the "official" method of deactivating Dr. Watson -- deleting the AeDebug key in my registry -- yet I always eventually see Dr. Watson return and haunt me again:  the key returns by itself!?!  I suspect that occasionally an MS Hotfix or security patch restores it from time to time.  However lately Dr. Watson has been annoying me again at shutdown -- popping up and declaring that it is trying to run but can't because I am shutting down the darn machine!!  (How dare I do that??).  Of course the entire shutdown process is stopped until I close the popup - four or five times. If I just start the shutdown or reboot and leave my PC, I can return the next day and see that it is still running, with the Doc's popup staring at me from the center of my display, taunting me!

      Since no one seems to be interested in using these logs for any purpose at all, I might as well just remove the Doc from my system.  But I cannot find a way to effectively do that. Any articles I read say, "Don't do that - just delete that AeDebug key", which as I said is not effective. Any advice on this?

    That's it for now.  I have more tools that I am looking for, but this post is way too long as it is.  (Mod. - If this post is more appropriate in another subforum, please move it).

    Thanks for reading it, and for any recommendations you all may have.   8)

    I use 3D Home Architect.  Lists @ about $80 or $90 USD, but I usually find a promotion for less than $50 - most likely because I purchased, like, Version 2 or 3 and receive upgrade offers each year.  I'm now on Version 9 or 10.

    But I have seen promotions for those not upgrading for the same price that I get.

    It's really great for new design, or remodeling a relatively newer home.  Me?  I have a 100+year old monster with nothing in it even remotely resembling "standard" or "normal"!

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