Windows Archives

June 1, 2003

From File Explorer to Command Window

I use Windows for some of my development machines but am far from being a Windows GURU. More than often I end up working with the command shell. At times, I would want to launch the command window with the directory selected by the File Explorer. This is not very convenient to do on a freshly installed machine -- You can create a shortcut on your desktop for cmd.exe (on Windows 2000), set the start directory for this shortcut and use it to launch the command window; but you will have to do "cd <pathname>" to get to the directory where you want to work.

Few months ago, I found a solution in a PC Magazine article describing a tool called RegistryRobot. Download the tool, install it on your machine and run the proper command through its menu driven user interface. This will add a "Command Prompt Here" on the directory popup menu associated with the File Explorer and one could launch a command window with the selected directory through the File Explorer.

This worked great but last time when I reinstalled Windows 2000 (which I seem to be doing quite often) and tried to download RegistryRobot, I found that I will have to pay a subscription fee. Bummer!

In any case, I had RegistryRobot installed on one of my other machines. So went there and found the following description to enable "Command Prompt Here" option:

  • In Registry key HKCR\Drive\shell\Command Prompt here\command, add or change the value named (Default), changing its current data of (none) to cmd.exe /k cd "%1".

  • In Registry key HKCR\Directory\shell\Command Prompt here\command, add or change the value named (Default), changing its current data of (none) to cmd.exe /k cd "%1".

I fired up the Registry Editor "regedit" and carried out these steps. The instruction were good but not perfect:

  1. There was no top level entry called HKCR. I figured it must be a short form for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.

  2. There were no sub-keys with name "Command Prompt Here" and "command". I had to create these.

The instructions got me what I wanted! They may also save you a good amount of unnecessary timing.

June 15, 2003

Fine observations on Screen capture under Windows

Screen or Window capture under Windows is no big deal -- Do Ctl-PrintScreen or Alt-PrintScreen and you have the whole screen or the current Window in the clipboard, to be pasted in any document. However, the interesting observations are:

  • Doing a resize of the pasted image under Visio (and perhaps other programs) causes significant degradation in picture quality. However, if you do the resize within an Office program (I used MS-Word) then the quality doesn't deteriorate.

  • Sharpness of the printout of a screen capture, especially when it has been shrunk, depends on the resolution of the printer and not the screen where it was captured.

I used to think that a captured image is just bitmap. Obviously, this is not the case.

June 23, 2003

My wish-list for MS-WORD

Surprising that I would miss features in the bloated MS-WORD (I use Office 2000). Quite likely that what I am looking for are already there and I just do not know how to make them work for me or have been included in Office XP or Office 2003.

  • Ability to embed a link of a picture from within the document so that I see only the link when looking at the document but am able to print the document along with the picture. Inserting a picture file as a link only didn't satisfy me completely.

  • Ability to choose an Index entry from a list of existing items while inserting an index. I spend far too much time typing the full index name everytime I have to enter an entry correponding to an existing index item.

August 30, 2003

UMAX Astra 2100U on Windows 2000

I had bought a UMAX Astra 2100U Scanner from Frys a few years ago at great discount (I paid $30 after mail-in rebate). It worked great on a Windows98 machine but I had problems (understandably) while trying to use it today on a Windows 2000 machine.
A search for new drivers (search for "UMAX Astra 2100U" in google ) turned up, but the driver download link pointed to a non-existent page.
I tried the search phrase "UMAX Astra 2100U Windows 2000" in google. A comment at the resulting page directed me to the appropriate download page. Installing the version 3.55 (the one I got in the CD was 3.53) from here solved my problem.

September 14, 2003

Compaq EVO N1015V is a fine laptop, but ...

It was an educational experience to play with my latest purchase, a Compaq EVO N1015V. The machine worked fine with its pre-installed Windows XP Professional. However, I have no intention of getting hooked to yet another MS upgrade.

My troubles started when I decided to install RedHat Linux 8.0 on this. Initial few steps went fine but then the CD drive stopped responding. This happened a couple of times. A seach on the web came up with this writeup explianing troubles in installing linux on evo N1015v. I, for one, am not a real Linux guru and hence, decided to limit my experimentation to only latest available RedHat Linux, RH Linix 9.0. Downloaded RH Linux 9.0, burnt the CD and put in in the CD-drive. No luck. I got the same behavior -- the CD drive would become unresponsive after initial few steps.

This happened around 6 weeks ago. Today, as I write this entry, I came across this brief guide by Robert Toole that describes step-by-step process to install RH Linux 9.0 on a evo N1015v. Good to know that I am not the only one facing this problem. However, execution of these steps is certainly beyond my time budget for installing a bare-bones OS. May be some day later I will try these steps.

Yesterday night I decided to turn my laptop into a Windows 2000 machine. But even this turned out to be challenging. Initial install will allow the display to be only 16 color and the screen resolution to be 480 by 640 and with no sound capability. A search on the Web turned up this page with all the info. I needed about the Windows 2000 drivers. The rest turned out to be a fairly smooth operation.
Well, all this may not be much for a pro, but as greehorn, I found the experience educational.

BTW, I have nothing against evo N1015v itself. It is a fine piece of hardware and a very good value for money, at least for me -- I paid only $629.0 for a refurbished piece (discounted for HP employees) plus another 31.50 for Shipping and Handling and 54.51 on taxes. Even with all this, the total is just around $716. And I got 1.4MHz AMD Athlon processor, 30GB of hard disk, 256 MB of RAM, CD drive, 14 inches TFT, inbuilt 10/100 NIC, 56 Kbps modem and Windows XP Professional. Can't really complain.

April 11, 2004

Client side single sign-on

Ovidiu Predescu, an old friend and now a Google employee, has written an excellent writeup on using ssh-agent on Windows XP for single authentication for all ssh-based logins. I got to follow his instructions and setup my Windows machines to use this!

A recent San Jose Mercury News article talked about some of the technologies/products for client-side solution to authentication at multiple websites: Windows password manager, roboform, iKey and so on.

Ofcourse, ssh-agent and these web sign-on products address different target markets, but attempt to solve the same problem.

Recently, I came across a variant of this problem -- we have a Java based client program that interacts with a number of different and independent Web Services. These Web Services could assign different usernames and passwords to the client, requiring the client to use something like a password manager.

April 27, 2004

free utilities for a Windows User

I noted a number of links from this list of 46 free freeware.

  1. Best Free Browser Accelerator

  2. Best Free File Manager

  3. Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service

  4. Best Free Software Suite

  5. Best Free Notepad Replacement

  6. Best Free Registry Cleaner

  7. Best Free Route Tracer

  8. The Best Free Screen Capture Utility

  9. Best Free Process Viewer

  10. Best Free Inventory Tool

  11. Best Free Remote Control Software
  12. Best Free File Backup Program

  13. Best Free Startup Manager

  14. Best Free Time Correction Utility

  15. The Best Free Encryption Utility

  16. Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover

This is not a 100% copy of the original list. I left out the stuff which didn't interest me.

I will update the list with my observations/recommendations as and when I try them out.

My first ten installs/downloads

This discussion thread at slashdot got me thinking about my own first ten installs/downloads for WIndows boxes:

  1. Service Packs and Patches

  2. MS-Office

  3. Google Toolbar

  4. J2SE SDK

  5. Apache Ant

  6. TextPad

  7. WinCVS

  8. CygWin

  9. Adobe Reader

  10. Eclipse

November 27, 2004

Equivalent of "which" in Windows Command Shell

I have always missed the which utility of Unix under Windows, which doesn't seem to have built-in equivalent. So, when I came across batch script parameter modifiers while browsing Windows shell scripting, I decided to write a Windows equivalent of which:

@echo off
rem --------------------------------------------------------
rem File: which.cmd
rem Description: Windows equivalent of Unix which command
rem Author: Pankaj Kumar
rem Copyright 2004 Pankaj Kumar. All Rights Reserved.
rem License: This software is available under GPL
rem ---------------------------------------------------------
if "%1" == "" goto noArg

set fullpath=%~$PATH:1 if "%fullpath%" == "" goto notFound echo Found in PATH: %fullpath% goto end
:noArg echo No Argument specified goto end
:notFound echo Argument "%1" not found in PATH
:end endlocal

To use this command, either do a Copy-Paste of the above source code (but, beware of the formatting tags) or download which.cmd.

January 30, 2005

Hosed by MS NetMeeting (and how to avoid this in future)

Last week something weird happened while I was making an internal (to my company) presentation over tele conference and MS NetMeeting to a worldwide audience of more than 25 people -- more than half of the participants couldn't connect to the NetMeeting session. Luckily, I had prepared detailed slides and was able to send the slides in time, mitigating some of the ill effects of the NetMeeting failure.

Lateron, while investigating the reason for this failure, I learnt that those who tried to join the online session kept getting "Request Refused" response. This was puzzling as I was hosting the conference, for I had noticed that if no one is hosting then the requests go to the first caller (and hence losing the control and be dependent upon someone who may not prepared), and had checked "automatic acceptance".

Someone pointed out that there is a limit on how many participants can join a NetMeeting session. Having been part of many NetMeeting sessions with long list of callers, I had always believed that this limit is quite high, but then came across this Microsoft knowledge article stating that that NetMeeting allows only upto 16 participants to call a single single Windows XP client. Note that this limit is on no. of callers to a single client and not on the total number of participants in a session. By "hosting the session" I effectively disallowed other participants to accept the "joining requests", and unknowingly limited the size of the conference.

In retrospect, what I found most annoying was the fact that I, the host, got no message from NetMeeting about all these requests that were being denied.

One more instance where the software didn't fail gracefully!

About Windows

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Pankaj Kumar's Weblog in the Windows category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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