Category Archives: Windows

RDC, DPI, and You

I recently became the proud owner of a Lenovo Yoga X1. This replaced my generation Lenovo X1 Carbon, which is only being retired because of some wonky video connections on the mini-DP port. Fine box otherwise even after three years.

One of the new features of the Yoga X1 – and there have been a bunch I didn’t even know about, like the Wacom-based pen! – is the extremely high resolution display at 2560×1440. While I love the concept of having so many lines of resolution, the laptop still have a 14″-or so screen, which means you almost have to start messing around with the font size, aka DPI. Being able to change the DPI value has been in Windows for a while, like I think Windows 95 or maybe even Windows 3.1. For decades I’ve left it alone. You see, for DPI to be useful, applications have to support it. In more modern applications – think .NET 2.0 and newer – this Just Works but for older apps it’s one of those things developers were supposed to do but almost never bothered with. Like bidi text or help systems.

With modern boxes with uber-big resolutions, keeping the DPI at 100% is nearly impossible. I’ve run 1920×1080 on a 15″ display with DPI set to 100% but trying to do 2560×1440 on a 14″ display isn’t going to work. The worst part of this is how the DPI changes have been impacting my Remote Desktop Connections.
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Windows 8: RSS-based Desktop Theme Fix

One of the things introduced with Windows Vista Ultimate was the notion of having RSS-based themes that would continuously update your background with new images from the Intertubes. They worked on Windows 7 but I noticed an issue when I tried to grab “Aqua Dynamic” from the Themes website: the theme was downloaded fine but the images were always blank. After looking around some sites, I noticed that the images are stored in a AppData directory which I had locally and it had images… but the folder in Windows 8 is hidden and system, which prevents themes from getting images!

Open a command prompt.

If you’ve installed the theme already, you need to get rid of the feed: delete the .feed-ms file that has your theme name in it at C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Feeds

Find the .theme file you want and double click it, which causes a dialog to pop up. Don’t press anything.

Now run: attrib -s -h “C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files”

Now select “Download Attachments” from the Apply Theme popup.

Enjoy the RSS-based goodness.

Windows 8 Tip: Initial List of Tips

It’s a little early for people to have Windows 8 at this point, but it’s been released to MSDN, so it’s fair game… and I’m in my third week of using the bits so I’ve got some tips.

One thing I’ve noticed that I like about Windows 8 is the new Start Menu Screen: it makes sense. Sure it’s different, but to me, it works. Another thing that I’ve only recently realized is that when they hit the Start button in Windows 7 (or Vista or XP) and the Start Menu opens, no matter how small or large the menu is, all of my focus is on that menu and the rest of the screen is wasted. Additionally, it’s a pretty solid customizable tool bar in it’s own right… think of this top level part of the Start Menu as the “most used” applications page… the bottom line is that I like it.

Onto the other tips…

Update: Serena has a similar list and calls out Start8 (which I also use but I have it launch the full Start menu) because it’s useful for remote sessions.
Continue reading Windows 8 Tip: Initial List of Tips

Variations On A Theme – aka GodMode

There’s been a bunch of press lately about the “discovered” GodMode that’s in Windows 7. Basically, this is neither new or God-like. The GodMode name was used by the person that “reported this discovery” but the truth is that the “new feature zOMGBBQPEWPEWPEW!!1” was originally introduced in Windows 95.

Basically, you create a new folder in Windows Explorer, you name it SomeFunName.{ShellFolderGUID-from-Registry} and that new folder will be a “shortcut” to whatever namespace you gave it. In the case of naming a folder GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} you end up with a folder named GodMode that opens to “all tasks” as is defined by that GUID. On my PC, I named the folder All Tasks.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} which named my folder “All Tasks”. Windows 95 used this same technology with fonts in the form of Fonts.{93412589-74D4-4E4E-AD0E-E0CB621440FD}

What is nice about the All Tasks folder for me is that I’m able to make shortcuts to any of the tasks there; I could put “Add or remove programs” on my desktop now… what it’s is either an Easter Egg or a newly hidden feature in Windows 7.

Nice thing about this is that I wanted to post the GUID so I don’t have to go dig it up for new machines!

Props to the Windows Team

I’ll go on record with this comment: Wow… that actually just worked.

Retiring my last Vista box didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it did. Windows 7 installed fine: every device I had in the thing was auto-supported… the machine was built in 2007 with all brand name parts, but even so… there’s usually a rogue driver that’s required on a repave. No, the reason I was up until 2:30 this morning was caused by something completely non-OS related…

One single password.
Continue reading Props to the Windows Team

Windows 7: Allowing Access to C$

After recently installing Windows 7, I found that I was unable to access the “default admin shares” for my local drives, namely \\ME\C$. I was able to see the machine on my local network, so I know that the firewall wasn’t the problem. If I shared out something explicitly, I could see that from other machines as well: File Sharing was turned on. On other networks, I know that I’ve been able to access the C$ share from other machines, so the functionality was still there, but likely just turned off.

From HowToGeek.com, I found a registry setting that would allow this. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System, add a new DWORD called LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy and set its value to 1 and reboot. Want to revert? Delete the key or set it 0.

I must have done this for Vista as well, but I don’t remember doing it… either way, it works. And this was the “last” box. All of my machines are Windows 7 64-bit including VM’s and Bootcamp partitions. My Lenovo S10 had to settle for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 because Atom didn’t like the x64 version. The only other OS I see daily is from a couple of servers which are Windows 2008 (and awaiting an R2 installation).

And so Vista slips away …as XP, 2000, NT, 98, 95, and 3.11 did before it.

Windows 7: How To Prepare A Thumb Drive

This is mostly for me, so that I don’t have to keep looking up the long winded discussion about why this works – I just need to remember the steps.

    Prep a USB thumb drive for booting

  1. list disk – look for the thumb drive
  2. select disk # – use the # of the thumb drive
  3. clean – wipe all disk information
  4. create partition primary – create a new partition
  5. active – set the partition active
  6. format fs=fat32 quick – quick format for FAT32
  7. assign – give it a drive letter

If you’re looking for the long winded discussions, use the search icon next to the title.

Vista: Registry Shell Namespace Extensions

CodePlex: The Windows Registry Shell Namespace Extension allows Windows Explorer to view and interact with the Windows Registry data via Explorer windows. It demonstrates existing Shell extensibility points like IShellFolder2 and SHCreateShellFolderView and also demonstrates new concepts in Vista including the property system, property schema extensibility, and content indexing via Protocol Handlers. This project is implemented using C++ and ATL.

This is pretty freakin’ cool… I just installed it – even though it’s beta it seems to be working no problem. Even shortcuts and Copy Path work with it…

Not for your casual computer user of course – if you are asking yourself “what’s the Registry” you want not part of this tool!

Vista: Custom RDP Resolutions

I’ve been using a custom resolution for Remote Desktop connections between my old notebook (1400×1050) and desktop PC’s (often 1600×1200) because I want to make full use of the space that I have, on the screen that I’m currently on. Why not take advantage of my wider screen notebook, when remoting into a PC?

The tricky part to this is that you have to edit the RDP file directly, using notepad. For the most part, I don’t recommend editing the entire file this way, but you certainly can try different resolutions by tweaking desktopwidth and desktopheight… hit and miss thing, that. If you have any reservations about this stick to the UI!

The other part of the tweaking comes into play when working with the window position.
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Vista Tip: Dragging URL Shortcuts From Address Bar To Desktop

This is really just a repeat of the permissions issue I had a while back when I relocated Documents, Desktop, Downloads, and Temp, but it’s worth repeating: after scouring the interwebs for help on this I’ve realized that most people don’t know about the fix…

And what happens if you only reset the permissions on three out of the four directories in question after installing Vista on a new machine…
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Vista Tip: Getting Access to C$

Ever since Windows… erg. I think NT, but certainly 2000, Windows has always created a few shares administrative purposes, the most useful one being \\machinename\c$ because it’s an easy way to get access to an entire drive, if you have permissions to be there. As a default, only Administrators have access to it – the fact that there’s a trailing $ means that it won’t show up in the Network browser.

Vista has it as well, but for some reason my work machines allowed access to this share – my home machine didn’t. It would give me a log in prompt, I’d log in, it’d say “invalid account” and I’d look at the screw going ‘Lies!’. Some digging on the interwebs gave me a registry tweak to get around it… I could have just set up a new share for \\machinename\c but what’s the fun in that?
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