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Winter Solstice 2012

December 21, 6:12 A.M. EST

WinAMP PLS Play List Files In Windows Media Player

I’ve been listing to “Internet radio” some on my computer while I work; but the only utility I had loaded on my computer that handled .pls files was Nero Showtime… and I preferred to have Windows Media Player handle it.

So I created a little Windows program in C# (it would be trivial to do in any language, but that’s my preference at the moment) and associated it with .pls files that does nothing but take file1 out of the play list and url-ize it in a format that Windows Media Player likes and pass it on to Windows Media Player.

Give it a try!

Installer: WinAMP Play List for Windows Media Player Installer

Playlists: http://www.di.fm/

You can save the MP3 play list to your computer and you need not visit the web site again.

Originally posted 2008-08-28 16:45:09.

Corel PaintShop Pro Malware

When you install Corel PaintShop Pro X2 (version 12) you get an extra service that you’re not told about — ProtexisLicensing.

It’s alleged to be spyware that monitors your system and reports back to the software vendor.

Removing it is simple:

  1. Use the service manager GUI to stop it and set it to disabled (that’s probably enough, but not for me).
  2. Open a command prompt (with elevated priviledges on Vista, Win7, or Server2008) and type “sc delete protexislicensing”
  3. Now delete the file “C:\Windows\SysWOW64\PSIService.exe”

For your convenience I’ve included the command to do all these tasts below; simply put them into a batch file and run it (withe elevated priviledges) or copy paste execute each line in a command window.

Odd that I haven’t seen federal charges against Corel for cyber terrorism — they certainly didn’t have my permission to install any type of monitoring software on my machine (and that’s probably true of all their paying customers).

I certainly don’t feel that companies that take actions like this are on any higher moral or legal ground than software pirates — while perhaps not as devious as the root kits many software suppliers installed, it is every bit as invasive.

Join me in boycotting Corel (and any other company that violates the trust of it’s customers)… as a former first lady once said:

Just Say NO!

– Nancy Reagan

——

disable_corel_spyware.bat

sc stop protexislicensing
sc config protexislicensing start= disabled
sc delete protexislicensing
del “%windir%\SysWOW64\PSIService.exe”

You can also download a “fancy” batch file to do the job from my server as a batch file in a 7zip archive disable_corel_spyware.

Originally posted 2010-01-16 01:00:43.

FreeNX

I’ve been using NX technology to remotely connect to my Linux boxes for some time now, and I find it to be a great solution for remote desktop (very similar in many ways to Microsoft’s RDP — but based on a differential X compression system more closely aligned with *nix’s roots).

Like with so many Open Source projects there are multiple versions you need to consider.

Google produced a version called neatx, but it really doesn’t seem to be an active project; nor does it have the features (or stability) of FreeNX.

Nomachine.com produces a commercial and community edition they refer to as nx.  The main problem with using their product on a server is that it’s limited to the number of users — and I mean users, not active connections.  But it’s likely that you’ll download their free client for Windows, OS-X, Solaris, or even Linux.

An issue with setting up FreeNX on Ubuntu is that it’s not part of the distribution (or in the distribution repositories) so you’ll need to add the FreeNX Team PPA (I won’t go into details, if you look at the “FreeNX (on Ubuntu)” link below you can view the community documentation, which is well written and makes the task of installing FreeNX very straight forward.

With both FreeNX and nextx, occasionally the very first session to the server (after a reboot) will not establish; but launching it a second time works fine.

With neatx, after a reboot the Linux server leaves the session files (that’s not as egregious as you might think, since those sessions files allow a disconnected client to resume a session — had the machine not been restarted).  What this causes is an error in trying to establish the “same” client connection again; so you have to clear out the old session files.  I found that just adding a few lines to the rc.local file was a better solution (that way I never forgot; and yes there is a caveat — but I’m willing to deal with the possibility of deleting session files that might be resume-able).

# rc.local

# clear out any lingering nx (neatx) sessions
if [ -d /var/lib/neatx/sessions ]; then
rm -rf /var/lib/neatx/sessions/*
fi

So I’ve told you all about installing it, and some of the pitfalls — but I haven’t really said much about it other than to wave my hands and liken it to Microsoft RDP.

Well, consider sitting at a Windows machine (or Mac, Solaris, Linux) and launching a program that puts your Linux desktop on your machine in a window — allowing you to interact with the Linux machine just like you were sitting in front of the monitor attached to it (if it had a monitor).

And just like logging in locally, you can use any display manager (gdm, kdm, xdm, etc) that you’ve got installed and configured to run — in fact, you can launch multiple sessions each with different display managers simultaneously.

Yeah, lots of people don’t install any of the graphics on a server — but I find that there really isn’t much resource hit on installing (or using) a graphical UI on a server; and I’m willing to do that to have the ability to use a GUI when I want to (you can certainly still ssh into the box; in fact, FreeNX will require that you setup ssh — which is easiest to do with tasksel; of course in 10.10 you’ll have to install that using apt-get).

Anyway, whether it’s for you or not will depend on how you use your Linux machine; for the moment I haven’t abandoned my Windows desktop (my scanner will not work under Linux); so I have the option of starting up my desktop with Ubuntu (you can use wubi for that if you want to make it virtually painless, and it makes it easy to change your mind later on); starting a virtual machine (using VirtualBox of course) running Ubuntu; or remoting into my server running Ubuntu using NX/FreeNX.

FreeNX

FreeNX (on Ubuntu)

NX Technology (on Wikipedia)

Originally posted 2010-11-17 02:00:26.

Desktop Backgrounds

I use a lot of virtual machines, and I often RDP to my servers to manage them; sometimes I’ll have several windows open at once and it becomes fairly easy to get a little confused as to what window is associated with which machine.

Long long ago (in a galaxy far far away) I started making desktop background images that contained the machine name and installing them on each machine.  That was a fair amount of work, and require configuration on each and every machine.

Then I found BgInfo (from SysInternals, now Microsoft), and that was a great solution — but it did still require a moderate amount of configuration on every machine…

So, I created an “installer” for BgInfo that puts all the files in the right places, and creates the startup link so as to almost completely automate the configuration (OK – you have to run a single command on each machine; but if you map to a share or put this on a thumb drive it’s really simple).

BgInfo (my installer; includes an older version of BgInfo)

BgInfo on Microsoft

Originally posted 2010-03-02 02:00:42.