Tips 'n Tricks

WindowBlinds TIP: Explorer using too much CPU time

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A quick tip if you're noticing that Explorer is using too much CPU time when you're using WindowBlinds.

On my system I was seeing Explorer using upwards of 90% CPU time, bringing my PC to a crawl. I didn't want to uninstall WB so I tried tweaking the settings a bit. In the end I found that if I disabled Skin the quicklaunch taskbar buttons in the Basic Settings tab that it stopped going bananas and everything went back to normal.

Microsoft Outlook won't show contacts

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Another weird one today. A co-worker's install of Microsoft Outlook 2002 wasn't showing any of the contacts he had in his "contacts" address book. As it turns out, this is a bug in Outlook, at least when its running in Exchange Server mode. There are two steps to this, first you add the contacts folder to Outlook then you add it to the email popup window. To fix the problem:

  • In Outlook go to the Tools menu and select Email Accounts.
  • Select Add a new directory or address book and click Next.
  • Select Additional Address Books then click Next again.
  • Under the Additional Address Book Types list select Outlook Address Book and select Next.

At this point you'll get one of two responses, either it will say that Outlook needs to be closed to accept the changes or it will say that your selected folder is already present and can't be added again.

The second part is pretty simple:

  • Right-click on the Contacts folder within your Outlook Folders list and select Properties.
  • Click over to the Outlook Address Book tab.
  • Select the Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book box
  • Type in a relevant name for this particular contacts folder under Name of the address book.
  • Click OK and you're done.

One thing to remember on this is that if you have multiple contact folders, e.g. if you separated them into one folder for personal contacts, one for vendors, etc, you need to go through the second set of steps above for each folder, adding the main Contacts folder won't add all of the other folders; this is actually what turned out to be the problem at work, the main contacts folder was added already but the sub-folders were not.

SmarterStats - excellent website stats program

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Just a quick blurb to mention that this evening I installed SmarterStats on our website to give it a spin, and so far what I see I really like. The download lets you run stats for free for any one site which is perfect for personal sites or for doing a test run against your company's main site. The only requirement is that the .Net v1.1 runtime must be on your machine, but you don't have to install it on your server, you can instead put it on your desktop and just download the logfiles. Give it a spin!

Excellent virus checker information

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If you are trying to decide what virus checker to run on your home or work PCs, you really ought to take a look at this Greek site focused completely on reviewing and comparing the latest software.

Particularly worth mentioning is their December 2005 comparative tests which in there are some surprising results, particularly when some popular and well known scanners don't even reach 50% on their scores! Good stuff!

Fedora Core (Linux) tip: manually installing RPMs using Yum

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Here's a little tip I came across today while attempting to manually install software using Yum.

One of the the really cool things in Yum is that it can not only install software for you from online repositories but it can also take care of all of the inter-file dependency hell associated with installing a 3rd party RPM file. To do this simply run the command

yum install yourarchive.rpm

and it will check all of the dependencies for you and automatically queue up the files it needs to install, just like it was getting the file from a repository in the first place. Very handy when you're beta testing software.

Another tip is related to this. When I did the above it queued up all of the extra files I needed, then complained that it couldn't recognize the electronic signature attached to the new program I was installing, specifically it said:

Public key for <filename> is not installed

A quick google later and I discovered there's a little trick you can do but are generally advised not to. You see when you're updating software using Yum it verifies that all of the software is coming from somewhere reputable, so it keeps track of the signatures for each repository it knows about. The obvious problem then is that if you're installing a once-off file there's no server to have a signature from, so it shrugs its shoulders and gives up. The temporary fix for this is to change a line in the file /etc/yum.conf that says

gpgcheck=1

Simply change that to =0 and you're away with it! Do make sure to change it back afterwards, though, you want to keep this security precaution in place for normal use.

I hope these can help others who get stuck.

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