Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Export Putty Settings With a Single Command

October 9, 2009 10 comments

There are many ways to export your saved settings from PuTTY.  PuTTY stores its settings in your system register so in the end all the methods export the registry settings to a file that can later be imported to restore the settings.  The quickest way to do this to run the following command in the Start | Run box (all one line):

regedit /e “%userprofile%\desktop\putty.reg” HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Simontatham

Thats it.  That is all there is to it.  On your desktop you now have a file named “putty.reg” that you can copy to another machine or save as a backup for your PuTTY settings.  To restore your settings just double click on the file.

Categories: Computers, Technology

Time Machine Is Not For Backups

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

OS X Kernel Panic

Having a back up of your computers hard drive is not the same as having a recovery plan.  Suppose you planned on working from home this weekend but you were greeted with message above.  You thought you were protected by your backups  You might think you have a good recovery plan because you’ve used OS X’s time machine or even a time capsule but that does not help you with your current problem.  You have a broken computer, you need a working one.

Your personal recovery plan should be as thorough as one that would be used for a business.  In many cases your personal computer has even more irreplaceable items that a business machine.

Mac OS X solves one of the biggest issues with recovery plans which is having an automated, consistant and up to date set of backups.  If your have Time Machine turned on and it consistently backups up your hard drive without errors then you already have a backup of your system that is up to date and automated.

So, its sunday morning and you need to get some work done but your machine is down, most likely due to a hard drive crash.  But you have backups on your time capsule so your all set right?  Actually, your not.  Right now your no better off than if you didn’t have any backups.  You have backups sitting on your time capsule but nowhere to restore them.  You backed up your data but what about your machines hardware.

If your not comfortable overwriting your hard drive with your backup, now, without any preparation, then what makes you think you can do it after a hard drive crash when you would have no chance to prepare.

Time Machine is a backup system not a recovery plan.  With the data from your Time Machine backup and enough time and money you could restore your system to the latest backup but it could take days or longer to do so.  Time Machine is good for restoring files and last ditch backup restore of the entire hard drive but it does not make for a good recovery system.

Categories: Computers

Apple Puts Its 1 Cent In

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

I ordered Mac OS X Snow Leopard on August 24 and my receipt shows the total to be $31.58.

Mac OS X Reciept

But when the credit card charge came through Apple charged me twice.  Once for the full amount minus a penny, and then for the penny.


Did that happen to anyone else?  Leave a note in the comments.

Categories: Computers

DIY A Favor, Pay Someone Else To Do It

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

ToolsHave you ever started out a project thinking you can do it cheap and better if you did it yourself instead of buying the manufactured product or paying someone else to do it?  The attraction of DIY is that it seems like your spending less money because instead of a single large outlay of cash at one time, your buying smaller parts separately.  The siren of the DIY project is “I’ll be able to do so much more if I do myself.”  That rarely turns to be reality.  Without going into how much your time is worth, lets look at the simple truth of the first time you do something, your going to suck at it.  But when you DIY, it’s usally the first and only time your going to do it.  I’m purposely leaving out the nature of the DIY project because I’m talking more about the mental outlook of the person doing the project than the project itself.

Of course a “professional” can foul up a project just as good as DIYer but if you’ve done your home work with regards to finding the right person and thinking through what you really want to accomplish the chances are better that you’ll be happier in the long with the goal you are trying to achieve rather than a basement full parts or a partially working widget that your too emotionally and fiscally indebted to, to quit.

Too often we break down goals into the steps necessary to accomplish a single task without regards to the larger picture.  I try to approach new projects with the following goals in mind:

  • Can I do it for free? Using only tools and material I already own, can I complete this project or get it to a useful stage?
  • Is it worth the effort? 1 week, 6 months, 2 years from now will I care?  When you have an idea in your head it can feel like it is the most important task ahead of you only to fall by the wayside very quickly when new things come up.  Based on the amount of work and effort this project will take, will you care about in a week, a month or a year from now?
  • Can I accomplish this goal another way? I may not the have the right products to finish the project completely, but can I use what I already have to get an idea of how useful the finished project will be?  There might be some product out there that you think you need to buy for this project, but can you really do the job, albeit less efficiently or less visually appealing with items you already paid for?
  • Am I thinking about what I can do, or what I will do? When an idea first pops into our head we can make all these grand leaps of how great the finished project will be.  Try to think of what you will have when your done with the project, not what you think you will have after 2-3 more DIY projects you think you could build off of this one.
  • What if I bought it or paid someone to do it? Buying ready made items or paying professionals to do certain tasks can actually end up being more of a learning experience than trying to do it yourself.

Not all of these questions can be answered but they can lead you closer to your goal.  Think about the things you have bought but no longer care about.  They seemed like they would be really useful when you bought them, but now your wondering why you ever spent the money.  By definition, everything we buy, we thought had a value.  But who amongst us can say they have nothing in there garage, basement, or attic that they can leave with out?  That’s what I think, leave a comment with your ideas on the subject.

Synergy – Two PCs for the price of one

August 21, 2009 Leave a comment

webAt work I have two PCs setup so that I can use one while the other is processing data.  Most of my co-workers switch between there two PCs using a KVM switch.  The problem with the KVM switch is that even though you have two PCs your still limited to performing one task at a time since you only have one monitor.  You can have processes running on both PCs but your non-active PC is really just running processes in the background since you cannot monitor them.  You would only know that something is wrong when you switch back to that PC.  My solution was to grab a second spare monitor so that I can have both PCs be active at the same time.  Obviously now that I can see both PC monitors at the same, the amount of switch between desktops increased as well.  Using the KVM switch for the keyboard and monitor is a hassle since you have to stop and double tap the scroll lock to switch to the other PC.  I would much rather have an type of extended desktop that spans both PCs and simply scroll over to the other PC and use my keyboard and mouse instinctively.

The solution to that problem is Synergy.  Synergy is software that runs on both PCs and acts as a server and client allowing you to seamlessly scroll from one monitor to the next and even share clipboards so you can copy text from one PC and paste it into a file on the other.  All of this is done seamlessly without user input.  If your mouse is on the right pc and you want to type on the left PC simply scroll over to the other monitor and being typing.

Categories: Computers Tags:

Wired or Wireless?

June 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Every few months I seem to go back between wired and wireless keyboard and mouse.  Wireless is good because there is less clutter on the desk and greater portability, but that has a trade off with batteries, signal strength, and overall responsiveness.  Wired has the extra cables on your desk but you don’t have to worry about switching batteries and seems to have a much more responsive user experience.

In my line work I spend most of my time working with a keyboard, mouse and monitor.  You can add your chair and desktop as frequently used items as well.  As a musician fine tunes his instruments and a plumber chooses the best tool for the job so must we, the friendly everyday office computer workers.

Most of your interaction with a PC goes from your fingertips through the keyboard and into the computer.  Most of us don’t have much say in what type of computer we use at work but keyboards are relaltively inexepnsive and easy to customize.  Most employers won’t have a problem with you swapping out your standard issue keyboard for something most personal and in the end more productive.

The first step to choosing a keyboard with wether you want one that is wired or wireless.  Keyboards not spend too much time moving around on your desk so a wired keyboard doesn’t seem like too much of an imposition.

What about mousepad?  Yes or no?  If yes, which kind?  Round, square, smooth surface, foam surface?

Categories: Computers