April 8, 2008

How to get a totally wicked awesome desktop, dude.

Generally if I have friends or colleagues over and they see my computer, they remark that my desktop is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, especially for a Windows environment. I am going to teach you how to get a wicked awesome desktop, without spending too much bank.

First off, lose the desktop icons. Right click anywhere on the desktop, click View (“Arrange Icons By” on XP), and then Uncheck “Show Desktop Icons”. Hey, you can see past all those icons and now you see your uninteresting desktop. Pimp that out by checking out InterfaceLIFT, one of the coolest desktop sites you’ll ever find, supporting nearly any resolution you can think of. So you have a sweet desktop and the taskbar. I realize that’s not too handy, not having anything really accessible on the desktop, so we’re going to add some stuff back. If you have Quick Launch buttons on your toolbar, detach them by right clicking the taskbar and unchecking “Lock the Taskbar”, and then dragging the Quick Launch buttons off and stick them up on the top of the screen (it should snap into place). You can now add shortcuts to whatever you want, and you’ll have little icons for each of them.

If you have a little bit of processing power to play with, you may want to forgo the above steps and proceed straight to the sweet love that is the dock. Those of you that run Mac OSX are familiar with this. Enter RocketDock, a free freakin’ dock. It is completely awesome as well as being completely free. Upon installing it, you can choose to move it anywhere on the desktop and can tell it to auto-hide. Currently I’ve got my RocketDock auto-hiding on the bottom with my taskbar on the top.

So … (More) “How to get a totally wicked awesome desktop, dude.”

April 8, 2008

The lost art of scraping your face with sharp bits of metal, and how to make it suck less.

Those of you that know me in real life know that, at any point in time, my facial hair is somewhere between “five o’clock shadow” and “hobo”. It’s not that I enjoy looking that way, it’s the simple fact that if I shave more often than about once a week, my face and neck become excruciatingly painful, and an angry red sea of ingrown hairs adorn the underside of my neck. Given a choice, I simply wait a week and shave then.

Having heard the same not-funny jokes too many times, I resolved to find a way to improve my shaving experience. Enter my other hobby, perfuming, and the group of enablers I keep company with, Basenotes. I posted a thread to the effect of what I have just written, and received several recommendations, many of them as cheap as one could ask for.

I bought nearly everything possible that they recommended, minus a new razor. I’ve got a few unused heads for my Gillette Fusion and I will be using them up, thank you very much. All the time in the world to buy a safety razor after these are gone. So I find myself with shaving cream in a tube not unlike a toothpaste tube, a boar-bristle brush, and some sort of miracle product that allows me to get an entire shave’s worth of lubrication out of 3 to 5 drops. Right.

Before I did battle with my face, I learned. Namely, I learned how to shave. Sounds a little backwards, but one of the members of the shaving website Badger and Blade was kind enough to make a lot, and I mean a lot, of YouTube videos covering nearly everything you’d want to know about shaving. The first video in a three-part series that I watched … (More) “The lost art of scraping your face with sharp bits of metal, and how to make it suck less.”

April 7, 2008

Thumbnails Kill Explorer.exe Dead

Summary: Explorer crashes can be caused by malformed thumbnails, and prevented by disabling Data Execution Prevention for Explorer.exe.

WTL writes that quite frequently, while browsing files on his computer in Explorer, an error message pops up reading “Windows Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.” Having encountered a similar problem myself years ago, I suggested he turn off DEP, or Data Execution Prevention, for Windows Explorer. He has since written back that the instructions I gave him worked to perfection and he has had no more issues with crashing. To work, then.

1. Click Start -Control Panel
2. Click “Classic View” if applicable, and then double click “System”
3. Under System Properties, Click “Advanced”
4. Click “Performance Options”, then click “Data Execution Prevention”
5. You should see two radio buttons, click the one labeled “Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select:” and then click Add below it.
6. In the dialog box that opened up, type “C:\Windows\explorer.exe” in the location field and hit Enter.
7. You should now have one item in the list of DEP exceptions, named Windows Explorer.
8. You’re done!

To the best of my knowledge, the crashes are caused by certain thumbnails either being corrupted, or they make use of certain codecs that Windows does not allow the automated access of. Thus, when Windows sees unauthorized access of a program, it assumes the worst and intervenes, closing Explorer to prevent a virus from wreaking havoc. A good idea in theory, but also leads to some false positives like this.… (More) “Thumbnails Kill Explorer.exe Dead”

April 7, 2008

Questionable Contributions

The only thing I can really think of that is truly American, and nobody else in the world is doing, is country music. And that sucks. If someone can think of something else (and don’t give me the idealistic bullshit like the Bill of Rights, which also isn’t uniquely American), leave a comment and we can talk about it.… (More) “Questionable Contributions”

April 6, 2008

Filter Keys

Alice writes that on Windows Vista, she was typing a message in Windows Mail and inadvertently turned on…something. She writes that “Since I did this, when I type a word I have a click sound when typing each letter. If I make a mistake and backspace it won’t backspace. I have to hit the backspace several times or delete and then the backspace.”

What Alice has turned on is a little known feature called Filter Keys, which can make an audible click each time a key is pressed and accepted. It can also choose not to accept very brief keystrokes as well as repeated ones. The theory behind this is that it prevents people that bounce their fingers on the keys from accidental input. Luckily the fix is straightforward.

1. Click Start and then Control Panel.
2. Click Ease of Access (Ease of Access center in Classic View)
3. Click “Change how your keyboard works” (“Make your keyboard easier to use” in Classic View)
4. Uncheck the box labeled “Turn on Filter Keys”, click Apply, click Save.
5. You’re done!… (More) “Filter Keys”

April 5, 2008

Crysis on a new Vista install.

joeitalo writes that after reinstalling Windows Vista, the system’s performance of the video game Crysis became significantly worse. After checking that it wasn’t a DirectX issue (always checkable by hitting Win+R and typing in “dxdiag”) he realized that he was running an antivirus, and temporarily turning it off restored the performance of the machine.

That’s essential in resource-intensive games like Crysis, you want the system to be doing as little else as possible. Check your system tray, close everything that isn’t absolutely essential. Hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete and start the Task Manager, and terminate any non-essential processes. After doing this your CPU Usage should be sitting at 0%. It can always be a graphics problem as well; Crysis makes most gaming rigs cry. Try stepping down the resolution, then stepping down Anti-Aliasing, then stepping down detail settings until you find something usable.… (More) “Crysis on a new Vista install.”

April 4, 2008


Today is a red-letter day. The rebirth of the blog (and cleaning up and whatnot). I’ve sorely neglected my own website and will be taking steps to correct that. I deleted the old posts about WoW, and websites that don’t exist anymore, basically everything. I did leave my most recent how-to up as I noticed several people found it through Google, which was the point. Refocusing the site more towards the professional side of things, but still keeping it a little fun, seems to make sense. I don’t know how hard I’m going to hit it tonight, but I’m going to be doing a lot of stuff. Stick around.… (More) “Renaissance”

December 10, 2007

Howto: Get Shoutcast Working With Realtek HD Sound

In preparation for an upcoming potential internet radio gig I was getting my stuff configured on my development machine, when I realized there was no Stereo Mix, Wave Out, What U Hear, or anything of the sort on this machine. So, if you’re using Vista and have one of the newer HPs, Gateways, or Emachines, and are using the Realtek HD integrated card and drivers, here’s your fix.

1. Go to Control Panel -Sound
2. Click the ‘Recording’ tab.
3. Right Click any of the items in the list, check “Show Disabled Devices”. Stereo Mix should appear.
4. Go to Stereo Mix -Properties and enable it.
5. Set it as default.
6. Restart Winamp/Shoutcast.
7. Enjoy.

If this got you going feel free to comment.… (More) “Howto: Get Shoutcast Working With Realtek HD Sound”