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June 12, 2009

File Locking: Access Is Denied? Not Anymore.

I'm sure most of you have encountered this type of error, at one time or another, while using Windows: Cannot delete file: Access is denied. It appears when you try to delete a file or folder that is currently in use by an application. To be completely accurate, the file needs to be in use and locked by the application to prevent external edits - the lock is likely the reason we see the error message. Sometimes it is really obvious which application has a locked handle on the file - for example, if it is complaining about a Word document - perhaps the document is still open in Word. Personally, I consider scenarios like that acceptable because they can be solved easily; unfortunately, all…
Tips & Tricks
April 29, 2009

Applying a Custom Filter in an Open File Dialog

What I'm going to cover now is a pretty minor feature of Windows. I would of skipped this article, but I encountered a few people that never heard of this trick. I've personally found it useful in scenarios where I was working with custom file extensions... for example, I knew that a particular file with the uncommon extension ".def" could be opened in Microsoft Access.  The file extension ".def" is not typically associated with Microsoft Access, but I knew it was a valid file. To explain how the feature works, consider your typical, everyday "Open File" dialog: In this example, the dialog wants you to select a ".torrent" file by default. Because this is the active filter, you only see files that have a ".torrent"…
March 13, 2009

Web-based vs Offline Help Systems

As you probably know, I work for a software development company -  and during a routine lunch hour, I  began wondering why our software still shipped with offline help files (CHM), rather than offering the help files online. You see, every now and then, our company discovers that the help files are missing some information; however, we can't do anything about it until the next release. Sure, we can temporarily alleviate the problem by creating external knowledge base articles, but it doesn't fix the fact that clients have the same help files, without the new information. This situation brought an interesting question to the table: Why don't our products have web-based help? Example of web-based help I came up with numerous advantages and disadvantages: Advantages:…
Tips & Tricks
January 24, 2009

Using Ping to Monitor Reboots

When you`re rebooting a computer, and you need to know exactly when it is back online, try using this command: ping -t <target> <target> can be an IP or domain name. This command will keep pinging the machine endlessly, which can reveal exactly when the computer is back on the network. As long as you keep getting "Request time out", the machine isn't online yet. When you get a reply, as illustrated below, you know you can connect to the machine. Personally, I tend to put this window on my secondary monitor, while I continue working on the primary monitor.  As soon as the machine is online, I close the window or press CTRL+C to prevent the ping from going on endlessly. Be careful how…
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