Tips & Tricks
August 20, 2010

New Folder Shortcut in Windows

I'm constantly on the lookout for quicker ways to perform everyday tasks in Windows. That said, when I needed to create multiple empty folders at different folder depths, I questioned how I would do so with keyboard shortcuts. Windows 7 already facilitates the process of creating new folders, but most of the visible options are mouse-powered:   Despite these mouse-powered shortcuts, I've always felt that keyboard shortcuts were faster. With that in mind, I took my search to Google, and eventually and found what I was looking for: CTRL + SHIFT + N Great shortcut... after you press it, you can immediately start typing the folder name. No need to use the mouse in between creating the folder, and typing the name. There's just one unfortunate catch…
Reviews
July 24, 2010

Trapped In A Dialog

As you may know, I sometimes use Jing to take screenshots. Usually, this is when Snipping Tool stops working, and my kill the process trick doesn't revive it. Lately, when I booted my machine, I saw this dialog appear: Learn Jing Now? No thanks, I already know how to use Jing. So... what other options do I have? "Replay" "Sign Up Now" That's it. The usual Minimize-Maximize-Close buttons from Windows aren't there, and I don't see a Close button. Replay just starts the tutorial video again, and Sign Up Now sounds like I have to register for something . I already created a Screencast account - I remember doing that specifically to satisfy Jing. So, as far as I know, I don't need to sign up. Yet,…
Personal Stories
July 17, 2010

A True Case of Accidental Plagiarism

One college semester, long ago, I had an English class that ended with one very unfortunate event. It left me accused for something that I did not intend to do, forever changing the way I approach my written works. Back then, it took me up to 2 1/2 hours of travel time to get to school, and 2 1/2 hours to return home. I did this every day, and so I didn't have much time to relax when I got home. Think about it, I left home - it was dark out. I get home, dark - the only sunlight I saw was during my breaks at school. I'll likely focus on my transport stories in another post - it's a fascinating tale in itself;…
Tips & Tricks
July 11, 2010

Accessing the Menu Bar in Windows Vista and Windows 7

Before the introduction of Vista, Windows always featured a menu bar in Windows Explorer. It offered the following menu options: File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help. Below is a screenshot of the bar in Windows Server 2003: Since Vista, Microsoft has decided to hide the bar, by default. In Windows 7, here's what Windows Explorer looks like: While the menu bar is no longer visible, it hasn't been completely removed from the operating system. You can simply press ALT to make it appear. Once visible, it is designed to disappear whenever you left-click the Windows Explorer window. If you actually click the menu, you can execute one action, and then the bar will disappear again. In this manner, Windows ensures that the menu bar is…
Personal Stories
June 27, 2010

My Personal Advertising Experiment in All Points Bulletin

I've been playing All Points Bulletin as of late, and have had a good time doing so. Despite numerous flaws, it has by far the best customization tools I have ever seen. The company that created the game is called Realtime Worlds, which was founded by David Jones, who is most commonly known for creating the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Below is a video on the GameSpot YouTube channel, in which Jones describes some of the customization tools available in the game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrXzyeHQhsc The video does a decent job at giving you a quick overview, but you really have to use the tools to fully understand. You can make stuff that looks like it was made in Photoshop, that's how advanced the customization options are. Layers,…
DevelopmentHumor
May 15, 2010

Two Inexplicably Dangerous Characters

Yesterday, as I was writing an e-mail to one of my employer's clients, I encountered a strange bug with Excel. The e-mail I was writing included instructions that the client should perform, and one of the steps actually involved creating a CSV file, which would then be opened in Excel. Before sending the e-mail, I decided to step through the instructions myself, and make sure everything worked as I expected. When I reached the CSV step, I found that while I could export it fine - I couldn't open it in Excel. I'll guide you through what followed using a really simple example CSV: ID,NAME 1,KARA 2,GAIUS 3,SAUL As you can see, the above CSV contents are completely valid. However, when I tried to open…
Tips & Tricks
May 9, 2010

Opera’s Quick Download Feature

There's a particular feature I've always liked in Opera. I've seen it implemented in slightly different ways within other browsers. Let's say I wanted to download my blog's sitemap.xml file, and I wanted to do this strictly from within the browser. When I visit the link: http://mattrefghi.com/sitemap.xml My browser doesn't download the file, it merely displays it. This happens because browsers know how to display XML, and they figure it makes more sense to show you the content - rather than initiate a download. The behavior is different with ".zip" files, for example. Browsers usually initiate a download when they are pointed to a URL that ends in ".zip". Downloading the physical XML is therefore slightly trickier. In Opera, I can just paste that exact…
Personal Stories
May 8, 2010

An Endless Wait For IntenseDebate

UPDATE: Soon after I wrote this article, Michael Koenig of IntenseDebate posted a comment with an offer to help me via his personal address. I appreciated the gesture, and made some modifications to the article below to reflect that. I think for the time being I will be keeping the default Wordpress comments, but will not completely rule out IntenseDebate for the future. In the beginning of April, I became aware that my blog was corrupt - no articles were visible, and the visuals weren't right. I promptly contacted my web host pair Networks, and after an hour of trying different things - their agent (who was extremely helpful), told me it was likely a problem within Wordpress. He tried repairing the database, but subsequent…
Personal Stories
March 28, 2010

Turning a Cat Into a Dog: Feeding Behavior

I've always preferred cats over dogs for one simple reason: independence. Still, I find myself wanting to enforce certain behaviors that are, well, dog-like. Whenever I grabbed the bag of food to feed my cat, he would get really excited, sometimes even blocking my ability to pour the food by sticking his head in the bowl. This eventually started to bother me, so I decided to train him how to behave when I'm giving him food. I decided he shouldn't be sticking his head in the bowl - he should be patiently waiting until I pour the food, and also wait for my command before he begins eating. I felt this would help cover cases where I wanted to add more than one type of…
Humor
March 27, 2010

The Road To Nowhere

Due to my choice of profession, I tend to spend a lot of time using computers. Consequently, I work with a lot of applications - that means I see lots of different user interfaces. Some are good, some are bad - but every now and then, I find something in between. Sometimes, it perfectly showcases the developer's sense of humor. For example, here's what the "Go To" dialog looks like in Notepad++. You can access it by pressing CTRL+G. Not sure that's the best design for the dialog - but I appreciated the humor.  :)
Tips & Tricks
February 13, 2010

How to Temporarily Disable System Beeps

Computers have a means of communicating without external speakers - they do so via hardware beeps. These are the main scenarios I've seen where a computer beeps: There is a problem when the system tries to boot, so it attempts to communicate what went wrong - via a sequence of beeps. Too many keys were pressed at once on the keyboard. The system is configured to beep whenever an alert dialog appears. The last one I found particularly annoying when I was developing Visual Basic 6 applications at my day job. For some reason, Visual Studio 6 likes to communicate with you via alert dialogs. Visual Studio .NET corrected this - instead of a typical alert box, they list the errors and warnings in another…
Humor
February 6, 2010

A Chrome Extension That Does Nothing

Since it was first introduced, Google Chrome has been my browser of choice. So, when version 4 was released, I was particularly pleased to see the new extensions feature. When I went to view the extensions gallery, a particular entry stood out from the rest: Right there among the top rated extensions, I found one that did nothing: When I viewed the details about the extension, it became obvious that many people were fueling the joke by adding supportive comments. Still, you see glimmers of confusion every now and then.
Tips & Tricks
January 31, 2010

Capturing Only the Active Window with Print Screen

Print Screen takes a screenshot of the entire Windows desktop. Ah, yes... Print Screen. I've been using the Prt Scr key for many years now - for a long time, it was my primary method of taking screenshots. However, when I started working as a developer, I quickly discovered the benefits of using specialized screenshot utilities. Presently, I use Snipping Tool and Jing much more than Print Screen. The problem was always that Print Screen would copy the whole desktop, which is particularly frustrating when you have multiple monitors. Soon after starting as a developer, I was told that pressing Alt + Prt Scr would copy only the active window to the clipboard. This proved convenient in the cases where I wanted exactly that - just…
Tips & Tricks
January 30, 2010

Task Manager Has a Tiny Footprint Mode

UPDATE: I made a video explaining this in December 2016. The article can still be read after the video, if you prefer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUHvN4f2MPE If you use Windows, chances are, you know about the Task Manager. Windows Task Manager is a task manager application included with Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems that provides detailed information about computer performance and running applications, processes and CPU usage, commit charge and memory information, network activity and statistics, logged-in users, and system services. The Task Manager can also be used to set process priorities, processor affinity, forcibly terminate processes, and shut down, restart, hibernate or log off from Windows. Typically accessed via CTRL+ALT+DEL, this handy tool was never intended to be widely used. Watch below for a laugh…
Tips & Tricks
January 24, 2010

Changing Drive Letters In Windows

At home, I use multiple external hard drives; however, I don't always leave them on. I usually have just one of them running at a time. Today, when my turned on my main external hard drive, it was assigned the drive letter I by Windows, whereas it usually used F. This caused some problems - some of my shortcuts expect it to be the F drive. When I look at my drives in Windows, here is what I see: Looking at the drives, I don't quite understand why Windows thought I would be a good idea. I'm guessing it remembers another drive that had F, and wants to reserve it. Why it didn't do that before, is beyond me. To correct the shortcuts, I had to…