How My First Appointment With a New Dentist Resulted In My Being Banned

Posted by | Personal Stories | 3 Comments

There are times where I wonder what I’m going to write next for this blog, and then, there are times like today – something totally insane happens, and I have no doubt about what I’m going to write next. Still, I’m very picky about what I put on here – I refuse to post mundane details about my everyday life – one of my most important rules. The only exception to this rule occurs when I feel a particular story could be entertaining, and make people laugh. If I consider it a funny story, then I’ll put it up. This is one of those stories. A few days ago, while eating supper, I felt a pain when closing my jaw – it originated from a…

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Applying a Custom Filter in an Open File Dialog

Posted by | Tips & Tricks | No Comments

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”…

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Visualizing Disk Usage With Treemaps

Posted by | Recommendations, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re not sure why your hard drive is as full as it is, and you wonder what exactly what is taking up the most space? I’m pretty sure most computer users have encountered this before. What I used to do when I hit this problem was look around for big folders on my drive. This ultimately works, but it takes some searching to find the problematic folders – and you’re likely to miss some stuff. Determined to find a better approach, I looked around for an application that could help me, and eventually found one called WinDirStat that utilized a method called treemapping to help users visualize their disk usage. I tried it out, and was immediately…

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Becoming a Rainbow Six Operative

Posted by | Humor, Personal Stories | One Comment

So lately, Joseph and I have been having fun with Rainbow Six Vegas 2. The game is a fairly well-made first-person shooter, and we enjoy playing co-operative games every now and then. The other day, we discovered that the game has a “Custom Head” feature. The feature allows you to map your own face onto your in-game character.  When we actually got around to trying it, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the results. Consider the following screenshot: If you know me in real life, you’ll know that this is a pretty decent representation of what I look like. Not perfect, but still impressive. After trying our regular faces, we decided to try and get the game to accept unusual facial expressions. I…

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Measuring Those Pixels

Posted by | Recommendations, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Ever needed to measure the distance between two HTML elements, without achieving it through code? I found a tool a while ago that allowed me to do just that; it was, essentially, a virtual ruler. Called Pixel Ruler, this free application makes a ruler appear on your screen. You can place it anywhere you want, horizontally or vertically, and use it to measure pretty much anything. It is a little buggy at times, but I still recommend you give it a try.

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Dear Santa Claus

Posted by | Personal Stories | No Comments

I found this little historical gem at my parents place: Let’s review this quickly: I like how my first question challenges the logic of his whole operation, and the next one aims to strip him of his disguise. Notice how the area under the word “May” in “May I have these toys please?” is scratched? I probably initially wrote “Can”, but then I figured that “May” made more sense. Nice. “Meet me in my room. If I am asleep wake me up.” – I’d like to think this was a trap for this Santa fellow. Maybe I was hidden, waiting to de-mask the man as he attempted to wake me up. This was probably not the case. That “signature” is awful, and is nothing like…

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Web-based vs Offline Help Systems

Posted by | Development | No Comments

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? I came up with numerous advantages and disadvantages: Advantages: Help content can be…

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Where’s My Cell Phone?

Posted by | Recommendations, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Last year I decided to get drop my land line, and just get by with a cell phone. All was well, until one day where I wasn’t able to find my cell phone. I somehow managed to lose it in my apartment, and since I no longer had a land line, I couldn’t call my own phone to get it ringing. To locate it, I ended up sending an instant message to a friend on MSN, and he called my phone. That worked well enough, but it required someone else to be around. The next time I lost my phone, again in my apartment –  I couldn’t contact anyone on MSN, so I looked for an alternate solution. I googled around in search of people in…

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The Peculiar Ways Of My Cat

Posted by | Personal Stories | One Comment

Last year, I spontaneously adopted a male kitten from a local pet shop. I’d always walked by this pet shop, but was never actively interested in getting a kitten. Having grown up with cats, they weren’t anything new to me – but this particular kitten was different. His fur was blond… I had never seen a cat that color before – the ones I grew up with had been much darker. I was used to black, gray, brown, and mixes based upon those colors. So ultimately, I bought the kitten – and soon realized he was very different from other cats. First off, he isn’t afraid of water – at all. In fact, he has a weird attraction to it. Whenever I turn on a…

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Using Ping to Monitor Reboots

Posted by | Tips & Tricks | One Comment

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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Screen Capture Tools and the Evasive Mouse Cursor

Posted by | Tips & Tricks | 2 Comments

So, here’s the thing:  I was taking screenshots for another article, and then I noticed that the cursor was not present in them – and I needed it to be. I’ve used Print Screen for a long time now, and I never really needed the cursor to appear. Whenever I did need to have it the screenshot, it was for work – and there, we have SnagIt, which has an option to show the cursor. While SnagIt is a great application, I wasn’t ready to buy a license for home use just yet. I wanted to look for free tools first… so I began my search. I found out a couple interesting applications along the way. Snipping Tool (Windows Vista only) I was surprised to discover…

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Another Way to Close Windows

Posted by | Tips & Tricks | No Comments

A couple of years ago, I discovered a new way to close windows in Microsoft Windows. To be fair, I didn’t discover it on my own – I saw a colleague of mine using the alternate approach, and I asked her about it. I was surprised that although I had used various Microsoft operating systems (95, XP, 2000, 2003), that particular trick eluded me. Here’s how it works. You know how you can normally close a window by clicking on the top right corner? The “X” button? Well, you can also double-click on the top left corner, and this will usually also close the window. The reason I say “usually” is because some newer applications, like Google Chrome, for example – are not using the…

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Not Just Another Passenger

Posted by | Personal Stories | One Comment

When I was 17, I remember accompanying my father to check out some of the local garage sales. You see, in my hometown (and likely in other towns too), we had yearly garage sale “festivals”. This is what my father jokingly called them – there would always be plenty of people at these things. I would later wonder how effective these people would have been if they had actually used their numbers to support a cause, rather than their own personal desire to acquire material goods, at a bargain; however, on this particular day, I was just looking for cool stuff. On this day, I only bought one item. This item was a 3 foot tall, 3 foot wide – bear. A giant, stuffed bear….

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Internet Explorer … provided by Dell?

Posted by | Tips & Tricks, Tutorials | 5 Comments

When I first received my laptop from Dell, I quickly noticed something different in Internet Explorer: Apparently, my copy of Internet Explorer was provided by Dell. I immediately disliked the idea that this reminder would be present every time I used Internet Explorer. I began looking for a way to remove it, and it turned out to be pretty simple. All you need to do is change a registry key, located here: HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Main and depicted here: Solution Some of the instructions found in this article involve modifying the Windows registry. If modified incorrectly, serious problems may occur. It is highly recommended by both the author of this article, and by Microsoft – that you back up the registry before you modify it. For information…

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