Curtis Johnstone

May 17, 2011

An Easy and Fast Way to Update or Install Software

Here is a great service that is easy and fast: Ninite (http://ninite.com/).

If you have every installed a new Microsoft Windows operating system, you know that installing all the additional software is a real pain; just the basic stuff – everything from browsing the web to reading .pdf files.

With Ninite, you visit their web site and pick the software applications you want.  You then get one installer file that will install the latest version of them all, and is automatically configured to install with no add-on toolbars or other junk.

May 12, 2011

Project Gutenberg

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , — admin @ 1:10 pm

Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) is an amazing resource of over 33,000 free ebooks to download.

Read on your PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable device.
All our ebooks can be freely downloaded: Choose between ePub, Kindle, HTML and simple text formats.
Project Gutenberg Mobile Site: http://m.gutenberg.org/

It supports book format to read on your PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable device.

All of their ebooks can be freely downloaded, and you choose between ePub, Kindle, HTML and simple text formats.

To use on your mobile device, point it at the Project Gutenberg Mobile Site: http://m.gutenberg.org/

Popular Digital e-Readers and Formats

Here is a quick overview of some popular digital formats for publishing content such as eBooks, and digital readers that can be used with them.

Popular Digital Formats

EPUB (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB)
PDF (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF)
Plan Text
HTML

With all of these formats there is DRM and non-DRM.  DRM standard for Digital Rights Management, and it has access controls built into for controlling access to only those who paid for the content. Non-DRM content is just a piece of data (e.g. a file) that can be distributed and accessed by anyone.

There are also proprietary formats used in online books stores such as:

  • Amazon Kindle: AZW
  • Sony Reader BBeB format

Popular Digital Readers

Different readers support different formats. Wikipedia has a good article to compare the differences: “Comparison of e-book readers” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-book_reader).

You can also use non-reader specific devices to read e-books such as the iPad, iPhone, or a PC.  Users just need software on these devices that support the various digital eBook formats.

For example, Apple publishes a free application called iBooks (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8#) that can be used on the iPhone or iPad to read books in PDF or EPub format.

May 2, 2011

How to Find the Domain Controller for a Windows Domain

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , — admin @ 9:49 am

There are many situations where you are logged on to a Microsoft Windows Workstation or Server and need to find the domain controller for the domain that the computer is joined to.

The simplest way that works on all versions of windows is:

> echo %LOGONSERVER%

Or:

> NETCOM QUERY /Domain:<Domain FQDN> DC (note the “DC” is required at the end)

March 29, 2011

Microsoft Outlook 2007 & 2010 Zoom Feature

If you are composing a message in Outlook, and the editor displays the text much larger or smaller than the font settings, you may have altered your Outlook zoom settings.

Microsoft Outlook introduced a Zoom feature starting in Outlook 2007. When viewing or composing any message, you can alter the zoom level using two methods:

1) Hold down the CTRL key while using your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

2) Alter the zoom settings in the zoom group options in the tool bar (see below).

Whatever zoom settings you choose will persist.

Outlook Zoom Option

March 11, 2011

Great Data Visualization Resources

Filed under: Technology — admin @ 3:13 pm

Two amazing resources showing the possibilities of data visualization:

Gmail Email Aliases

Filed under: Technology — admin @ 11:08 am
Gmail doesn’t offer traditional aliases, but you can receive messages sent to your.username+any.alias@gmail.com. For example, messages sent to jane.doe+notes@gmail.com are delivered to jane.doe@gmail.com.
You can set up filters to automatically direct these messages to Trash, apply a label or star, skip the inbox, or forward to another email account.

A great feature of Gmail is the ability to simply use different email aliases based on your existing email address.

You can receive messages in your Gmail inbox if the message is sent to any address that follows the format:  YourExistingUsername+alias@gmail.com.

For example, messages sent to jane.doe+notes@gmail.com are delivered to jane.doe@gmail.com.

This is really useful for signing of for services.  You can set up filters in Gmail to recognize the +alias tag and do something special with it such as move the message to the Trash, label it, etc…

You can read more about it here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=12096.

January 27, 2011

Microsoft PowerShell Single Quote vs Double Quote

Always having to remind myself of this when I write powershell scripts:

  • Single quotes return a literal string consisting of whatever is enclosed between them – there is no evaluation.
  • Double quotes evaluates the string; it will expand and variables that you have enclosed.

Example:

$month = ‘May’

Write-Host “The current month is $month”

> Output = The current month is May

Single quotes return a literal string consistening of whatever is enclosed between them – there is no evaluation.
Double quotes evaluates the string; it will expand and variables that you have enclosed.
E.g.
$month = ‘May’
Write-Host “The current month is $month”
Output = May
PowerShell Line Continuation with the Backtick
The Backtick’ character (`), tells the PowerShell parser to continue the command on the next line.
GOTCHA:  You need one space character BEFORE it, and no extra characters after it, for it to work.

Microsoft PowerShell Line Continuation with the Backtick

The Backtick’ character (`), tells the PowerShell parser to continue the command on the next line.
GOTCHA:  You need one space character BEFORE it, and no extra characters after it, for it to work

The Backtick’ character (`), tells the PowerShell parser to continue the command on the next line.

GOTCHA:  You need one space character BEFORE it, and no extra characters after it, for it to work.

January 13, 2011

Changing the Default Password Policy in Windows Server

In a lab environment, you may want to relax the password requirements for easy of testing.

Follow these steps to disable the Password Complexity policy:

If you are on a Windows 2008 or newer Server Version:

  1. Click Start and type gpmc.msc and hit enter.  This starts the Group Policy Management Console.
  2. In the left-hand tree, expand the Forest node, the Domains node, and expand the Domain node for the domain that you want to change the password policy.
  3. Right-click on “Default Domain Policy” and select Edit.  This launches the Group Policy Management Editor focused on the domain.
  4. In the left-hand tree, expand Computer Configuration | Policies |  Windows Settings | Security Settings | Account Policies and select the Password Policy node.
  5. Edit the “Password must meet complexity requirements” policy, select Disabled and Apply the change.
  6. To apply the Group Policy change immediately, either restart the domain controller or open a command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    gpupdate /force
  7. To apply the Group Policy change immediately issue a “gpupdate /force” command (either on the command line or from the Start menu).

Note: from the “Local Security Policy” (secpol.msc) on a member Windows 2008 R2 Server, these settings will be locked and connot be changed because they are set at the domain level.

If you are on a Windows 2000 or Windows 2003 server:

  1. Edit the Domain Security Policy. This is best done on a Domain Controller.  Start  the Domain Security Policy console: Start | Programs | Administrative Tools.
    • Note: this console is the GUI equivalent of the dompol.msc command line but you’ll want to start it from the Start menu because dompol.msc takes a parameter that is the distinguished name of the domain security policy which is difficult to get.
  2. Under Security Settings select Account Policies | Password Policy.
  3. Set the “Password must meet complexity requirements” to “Disabled”.
  4. You can optionally leave the above setting “Enabled’ and tweak the other password requirement settings. Enter a value if “0″ (zero) for the other settings essentially makes the setting not applicable.  For example, setting the Minimum password length setting to “0″, makes it so no password is required.

The Domain Security Policy editor is available on Windows 2003 Server. It was deprecated in Vista, Windows 7, Windows 2008, and Windows 2008 R2, and newer operating systems.

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