Configuration

How-to show a Message of the Day (MOTD) at the Windows Command Prompt

One of the features available under UNIX is the Message of the Day (MOTD). This is run every time you start a command prompt and displays the content of a file. In addition, the UNIX shells allow all sorts of stuff to be run and configured every time you start a new prompt using the .profile and .bashrc command files. Windows users don’t generally expect that kind of flexibility from their command prompts.

DSC vs. GPO vs. SCCM vs. MDM

Microsoft Windows administrators now have a number of ways for managing their estates. * Group Policy (GPO) Allows very fine-grained control over every aspect of Windows. Primarily aimed at Windows desktops. Requires Active Directory (AD) and very careful configuration. Requires well trained specialist staff to get it right. System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) Allows central control over software delivery. Also requires AD. Configuration of delivery packages can be complex and very careful change control is required.

Site updated – Faster and better!

The upgrade of this blog from WordPress 3.3 to 3.4 on Dreamhost didn’t go as smoothly as planned. In fact it failed fairly spectacularly – unable to complete the required database upgrade. However, many clouds have silver linings. In this case it meant that I brought forward my plans to ditch the horribly slow hosting provided by Dreamhost in the USA and switch over to the new VPS provided by BHost in the UK.

Speeding up Cygwin

Yesterday I mentioned my success with Cygwin. One issue I did have though was with the speed of startup. It was taking 15-20 seconds to start a BASH shell. It turns out that this was a PATH issue. I went through my Windows PATH and cleared out the clutter. Now it takes just around 3-4 seconds for a full BASH login and less still for just running a script. I now find myself using the BASH shell for all sorts of things and I’ve set up a number of alias’s to switch to folders I’m using a lot and to open common documents.

Keeping Control: File and Folder Links for Windows Users

A good backup strategy for any computer involves keeping control of where stuff is stored. The fewer locations that contain files that change, the fewer locations have to be maintained. UNIX users have always had the ability to keep things wherever they wanted and then to LINK that information into the required location. Basically, links create a link or tunnel between one file or folder and another. Most of the time, you will not notice that you’ve entered a tunnel and you are not interested really.

Copy and Paste to OneNote (AutoHotKey script)

After yesterdays OneNote tool, I thought I’d do another while I think about it. Another annoyance of OneNote is it’s lack of control over pasting information from the clipboard. I’ve raised a suggestion with MS to improve this; you can see my comment in the newsgroup. To ease things a little if you need to copy and paste lots of stuff to OneNote, here is an AutoHotKey script to help. You need to assign this to a hot-key and have OneNote open in the background.

Setting list item gaps in Microsoft OneNote (AutoHotKey script)

Although I like Microsoft OneNote and use it continuously, it does have a few failings. One of these is the inability to set the default styles and layout for text. In particular, when you create a new paragraph or list entry in OneNote, the default – non-changeable – setting is to have no white space between the paragraphs. This is very poor design and makes more than a small amount of text quite unreadable.

Changing system environment variables from the Windows command line

There are several ways to change global or user environment variables manually in Windows. Most are well known so I wont repeat them here (e.g. in Vista or Windows 7, Control Panel/User Accounts, Change my environment variables). However, sometimes you want to do this from a command (aka script or batch) file. This is not as straightforwards as it might seem. That’s because if you simply set the variable – e.

proxy.pac files, Mozilla (Firefox & Thunderbird) and Vista or Windows 7

I’ve found a problem with Mozilla based products and proxy settings. To automatically configure a proxy for use by Internet browsers, you can use a file called “proxy.pac“. This is a JavaScript function that is loaded into the browser when it starts and redirects requests via a proxy where required. All of the descriptions for this file you will find on the Internet will provide the following example of checking your current IP address.

Font sizes and DPI

This seems to be a problem that won’t go away. It seems inordinately hard to get a good looking set of fonts of the correct size. It is not that there aren’t some nice fonts available; there are, at last, some fonts under Linux that often look superior to the Microsoft ones. It’s just that it is difficult to get the whole look and feel correct. This is especially true when mixing Gnome based applications (Firefox and Thunderbird for example) and KDE.