Post Calendar

August 2009

Couple of new WP plugins installed

Added Hyper-Cache to speed up the site viewing a little (seems to be working nicely). Also, blew away the Flash Twitter post viewer in the right sidebar because it simply didn’t work most of the time. Replaced it with a simple text-based tweet viewer, which is what I had before and what I should have simply stuck with, instead of trying to go all bling-bling for no reaso

Edit: Hyper-Cache turned out to be crap and kept throwing “gzip” errors of some sort. Blew it away and installed WP Super-Cache instead – which seems to be working so far.

Aha. NOW I see why everyone likes the iPhone.

Service+: enhanced Windows Services control utility

imageAs a professional tech, I spend plenty of time using the Windows Services MMC snap-in (Administrative Tools –> Services). The interface has always been slightly annoying. It allows you to get the job done but the window size cannot be saved (I find myself immediately resizing the window to full-screen – I could probably use some sort of macro utility to do this for me but.. why should I?) and it always takes a few seconds to start up.

Enter Service+. There are two versions of it – the light version (which I’m using, is free, and which is the basis for this article) and the full version. The light version does everything I, and probably most people, will need. The program appears to be installed in the form of a Control Panel applet, but it is able not only to automatically run at startup, but to provide you with an easy-access system tray icon just like any “regular” app. From this interface you are able to see all services, start and stop them (this includes multiple services at the same time – which is AWESOME), and doubleclick on them to view their properties and disabled/manual/automatic startup settings. Apart from that it’s very lightweight (only takes up 7Mb in the background) and given the fact that you’ll never need to run the Services snap-in again it’s definitely worth it.

The full version has more features, so, from their webpage, FYI here are the differences between paid and free: missing from the free version are the possibility to kill a dead service that no longer responds to the stop command (this lets you restart a failing service without having to reboot the server), changing multiple services password or startup settings at once (this feature can save you hours of work if you manage a large number of servers), removing a service (this will let you cleanly remove a service without having to edit the registry and reboot the server), and automatically attaching a debugger to a service.

Service+ (freeware)

TinyResMeter: system information tool

image I’ve been using this tiny, well-written and very comprehensive tool for a while now. While v0.96a is freely downloadable from their website, v0.97 for some annoying reason has been restricted for distribution only to users who subscribe to their mailing list. Free is free and I’m not thrilled with having to drop my email address off on a mailing list that will prove completely useless to me only to secure a copy of the program. So.. enjoy downloading the bizarrely exclusive TinyResMeter v0.97 right here.

[download id=”0″]

MyDefrag: scriptable defragmenter

image Man. Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water (after my defragmenter roundup) this new one comes out. It’s the next version of the JKDefrag program I previously mentioned, and it’s actually pretty good. The interface hasn’t been upgraded much since JKDefrag, and still looks like crap, but the wealth of delightful features it has more than make up for what it lacks in the looks department (kinda like me, actually).

The strength of the program lies in its flexibility. Other defragmenters organize your disk really well, and up until now UltimateDefrag has provided the most flexibility in terms of file placement. Not any more.. MyDefrag provides the user with a virtually limitless ability to choose where files are located on the disk. The main program is more accurately defined as a script interpreter. Each type of defrag exists as a .myd script, and when you run them the defragmenter parses and executes the script directives. Sounds clunky, and to tell the truth unless you’re a serious computer hacker (this means if you have an iPhone you can pretty much stop reading now) you should probably use one of the more straightforward, easier programs out there – but if you’re willing to get immersed in the scripting concept you can pull off some pretty neat stuff with this. Basically, your script will identify a target for defragmentation, exceptions, and a method by which to defragment it and any additional pieces such as leaving a small chunk of free space after that “zone” has been defragged. Then you tag other targets and have the program act on those in turn, and so on until the drive is done. My current script will optimize and sort all directories to the absolute fastest portion of the disk. Then it defrags and moves the MFT directly after that – one cannot do this with UltimateDefrag because the only option it gives you is to move the directories “close” to the MFT, which actually means after it. Next, the list of files from the prefetcher (layout.ini) feature of Windows, in order of import. Next, all other files EXCEPT those that match a certain criteria (Picasa database files, other large files) are defragged. Finally, everything else is done and the drive is complete. I actually slightly modified the SlowOptimize.myd provided standard with the program to do the above. You can edit and position file “zones” to your heart’s content – if you’re anal-retentive enough (adjusts tie and sips piña colada) you could make a different script for every drive on your system and have full control over how they are defragmented based on their contents. There are other subfeatures too, such as a “slowdown” command with which you can reduce the amount of system load placed by MyDefrag – great for regular scheduled background defrags of high-activity servers, for example. The UI is also kinda fun to look at, if you’re a quasi-autistic like me. My wife walked in on me staring at this thing defragmenting a drive, opened her mouth like she was going to say something, then shrugged and left. Which was entirely the correct thing to do. *8-)

Lacking from this program is the ability to do a boot-time defragment, and I can’t see the ability to shrink the MFT reserved area anywhere. Maybe that’s coming in a future version, so we’ll see. I’ve noticed a bug with this program too, which I have been discussing on their forum. But it’s definitely not a dealbreaker to using it.

MyDefrag is highly recommended – I’m pretty sure it’ll get better. And yes, there are already feature requests out there for a better UI. I personally don’t care – that’s the first step towards bloatware as far as I’m concerned.

MyDefrag (freeware)

FlashFolder: rapid access to your most-used folders from (almost) any Windows program

image Here’s another small but useful program that I’ve been using for the last month or so. FlashFolder glues a little “toolbar” to the top of almost all of your Windows “Save As…” dialog boxes. You can then add some frequently-accessed folders into it, so that it’s very easy to change to a different folder when you save particular items out of eg. your email program. You can assign hotkeys to different folders, making the switching process even easier and it tracks recently-accessed folder history too. Freeware.

FlashFolder (freeware)


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