Aaron's blog

Script to pin item to taskbar (or Start menu) in Windows 7

By aaron.axvig, 19 February, 2009

After pounding my head at this off-and-on over the last five weeks (previously thwarted), I have mashed enough VBScript skills into it (my head) that I figured out how to script the pinning of items to the taskbar.

 

Set objShell = CreateObject("Shell.Application")
Set objFolder = objShell.Namespace("C:\")
Set objApp = objFolder.ParseName("Notepad.lnk")
For Each verb in objApp.Verbs()
If verb.Name = "Pin to Tas&kbar" Then verb.DoIt
Next

For this to work, you need to have a valid shortcut Notepad.lnk in C:\.  To do a pin to the start menu, replace “Pin to Tas&kbar” with “Pin to Start Men&u”.  Yes, you need the ampersands, they are there as keyboard shortcuts.  Right-click on a shortcut and push K and it will pin that to the taskbar.

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Vista "Add Gadget" panel goes blank

By aaron.axvig, 5 February, 2009

I encountered an issue at work when we wanted to add some gadgets to the Vista Sidebar.  Upon opening the Add Gadget panel, all of the available gadgets briefly appeared and then faded out, leaving a blank window.

This can be resolved by resetting the user’s Settings.ini file for the Sidebar.  This is located at %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar.  Just rename Settings.ini to something else after you close Sidebar (must be closed from system tray too), and then re-launch Sidebar.  A new Settings.ini will be created.  All of the user’s Sidebar settings will be reset, but at least they are now able to add gadgets.

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Windows 7 location of pinned taskbar icons

By aaron.axvig, 13 January, 2009

I have been annoyed by needing to setup my taskbar pinned items every time I set up a new Windows 7 install, so really wanted to find out where they are stored.  They are buried pretty deep: C:\Users\**Username**\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar

So now I will be able to keep a copy of a bunch of shortcuts handy and just copy them in there.  I'm thinking cmd, Notepad, Calculator, several Office apps, Irfanview, and Paint will be priorities for now.

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Windows 7 performance

By aaron.axvig, 12 January, 2009

Windows 7 is shaping up to be a pretty perfomant operating system.  I've been ripping CDs in the background, which easily maxes out the processor on my 1.83GHz Pentium M.  All the while I've been playing songs and browsing websites with no performance problems.  Only just now when I added installing Acrobat Reader on to the top of all that did I notice some slow-downs (slight glitches in music playback).

Now you might say that this is no big deal, an OS should be able to do all of those things.  But this is with 512MB of RAM, the afore-mentioned processor, and a crappy laptop HDD.  So far I would say the performance is way closer to XP than Vista was on this machine.  But the features are way better than XP.  I'll try not to get too optimistic, but from what I've seen in the last few hours Windows 7 is going to be a hot item.

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VirtualBox whining

By aaron.axvig, 6 January, 2009

Sun's VirtualBox really irked me off, so here I am whining.

  • Unable to change mounted CD-ROM while the machine is running.
  • Huge delete button.  How often do you delete a virtual machine?
  • Crappy virtual disk manager.  Why do I want to manage my ISOs, I already have them in folders just let me mount one.
  • Unable to hard power-off a virtual machine.
  • Unable to send shut down signal to virtual machine.
  • Unable to send reset signal to virtual machine.
  • Unable to do any sort of power-off input.
  • I find it hard to believe that these features aren't there at all, but they shouldn't be hidden so well if they are there.  I should be able to right-click on the machine in the manager and knock it dead.

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Switch to RSS Bandit

By aaron.axvig, 28 December, 2008

2019-10-26 - Using TT-RSS on my server now.

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I used to use Outlook for my RSS feed reading, and before that IE7.  Outlook was definitely a step up from IE7 as I could group feeds into folders (Microsoft, Tech News, Other, etc.) and then just read all the articles in that folder one-by-one.  However, it was annoying to have to change the location it saved the feed every time that I added a new feed; it would otherwise create a separate folder for every feed.

I re-did my Outlook setup a couple weeks ago due to losing Exchange connectivity, and figured out an easier way to set that up.  I just let each feed create its own folder, and then set up a rule to move all RSS articles into a new "RSS" folder outside of the "RSS Feeds" folder that Outlook uses by default.

However, I just re-installed Windows Vista and found myself setting up Outlook again, but this time the Rules menu is not there.  I think this is because I have no mail account setup.  I can't get Outlook Anywhere to connect through 95% of the NAT routers that I connect from behind, including the one here at home.  Outlook won't connect over Hamachi, and I didn't want to fiddle around with OpenVPN for the seemingly endless hours which that will eat up.  So no Exchange setup in Outlook for now (believe me, I want to get this working so badly but can't figure out anything simple to do it).

Since I couldn't get my rules setup, I figured it might be time to explore a new feed reader.  I have been playing with Drupal quite a bit at work lately and saw that it has a feed aggregator, but that did not meet my needs as it was simply a feed aggregator.  By that I mean there was no way to mark feeds as read or delete them; it just took multiple RSS feeds and combined them into one.

After a few minutes of surfing the RSS feed reader list on Wikipedia, I kind of randomly decided to check out RSS Bandit.  I went and checked out the RSS Bandit site and saw two things that immediately drew me in: it was written in .NET and it supported syncing to Google Reader.

So a quick download and install and it's up and running, and we get to the meat of what this article was really supposed to be: my initial thoughts on RSS Bandit.

The initial folder structure on the left is fairly straightforward.  I promptly deleted all of the existing categories which was tedious.  I added a Microsoft category and started adding feeds.  The wizard for that is 5 or 6 screens long, which gets pretty annoying, but there are a lot of features that it packs in there so I can handle cruising through it with some quick mouse clicks.

Reading feeds is quite similar to Outlook: viewing a category (basically equivalent to an Outlook folder) will show all the articles in a message list/reading pane format.  Read them and they are marked as read, and I also delete them.  An annoyance is that when I need to scroll down in the reading pane the message loses focus so it needs to be re-selected before hitting delete.  There are also some special folders (Special Feeds) setup for things like all unread items which come in handy.

The Google Reader syncing left me disappointed though.  I had been really excited to have the ability to read feeds when online or offline, from both of my computers, and still have everything synced.  I tried to set it up, but it created a whole new list of feeds and I didn't see any easy way to transfer over the feeds and categories that I had already setup on my local computer.  The blame for not getting this working probably lies with me for not putting enough time into figuring it out.

But I quickly found that there is the option to store feed data on a network share.  This would be almost ideal for me, as it is rare that I don't have my tablet PC with me and want to read some feeds, and I could sync my desktop with the share which I would have on my tablet.  I have turned this on, but it has yet to put any data into the folder so I'm not sure what's going on.

A couple last sweet things:

  • For some feeds it will show the comments as sub-members of articles.  Pretty neat.
  • There is a built-in web browser.  No longer does clicking a link in an article open a separate browser window, it just opens a new tab in RSS Bandit.  I have mine set to open in the background so I can keep burning through the feeds and then go back and read the web site later.  When I used Outlook, it would open IE7 and then I would have to Alt+Tab back to Outlook to keep reading.
  • The program stores its data in AppData in the user's profile folder.  As a tech support person that has spent a lot of time getting application to work for users which do not have administrative rights to a computer, it is nice to see a program observing best practices and storing data in the proper place.  Stuffing things in Program Files is not cool.

Do not apply hammer to hard drive

By aaron.axvig, 21 December, 2008

I built a little shelf for my laptop right near my bed, and set my laptop up there.  Then the network cable wasn't long enough (I don't believe in wireless that much) and I couldn't pull it longer because it was pinched between two pieces of wood.  So I pounded upwards on the shelf with a hammer, and made the cable reach.

Yeah, I pounded on it while the laptop was still sitting up there (and running).  Now it doesn't boot up.

It all works out in the end though...I just ordered a 32GB solid state drive.  Merry Christmas to me!

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Aptitude menu's secret members-only key

By aaron.axvig, 8 December, 2008

I am probably going to start complaining a lot about Linux.  I'm trying to learn once again because that is what my senior design project will be developed in.

Anyways, I feel some rage right now because I was trying to use the package manager Aptitude and could not figure out how to use the menu staring at me from the top of the screen.

I'm sorry, but your software REALLY sucks if I have to use Google for 10 minutes to figure out how to use the menu.

P.S. You press F10 to access the menu.

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Windows Photo Gallery Facebook integration complete

By aaron.axvig, 18 November, 2008

A while back I posted an idea of mine.  Specifically, I suggested that it would be nice to have an easy way to upload photos to Facebook from Windows Photo Gallery.

Well I just found out that there has been a plug-in developed for Windows Live Photo Gallery for exactly this.  It even covers the most important of the features I had laid out.  Nice to see.

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My new affair with Drupal

By aaron.axvig, 6 November, 2008

2019-10-26 - This new blog is set up on Drupal!

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I started playing around with Drupal at work this morning, and this particular package just has me bouncing off the walls with joy.  It's the most excited I've been about a piece of software for quite a while.  Some of this elation is no doubt due to the fact that I've been able to set it up to do almost exactly what I want to do, which is something I had not expected to find a product capable of.  (Sorry for the vagueness of this post, with all the non-specific module mentioning and such, but I don't want to be responsible for damage from leaked business plans.)

The interface is clean, and the administration is smart.  I've added a couple modules, and the installation is really easy.  One of the things that I hadn't seen before in a system of this type was the quite well done system of dependencies.  When you want to turn on a module, it tells you which other modules are required.  You can check the boxes for those, and then you will be able to check the box for the module you wanted to turn on.  Easy.

Then I went to configure the module I installed and it had some things that needed to be setup in another module before I could use the one I had installed.  It actually told me, in the admin pages, what the exact problems were, one at a time, until I had gone and fixed all of them.  No silly searching online for solutions to error messages or for walk-throughs that barely match my configuration.

So, I am now in love with this pretty little content management system.  I literally can't wait to show my boss what I rigged up for him! :)

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