December 2011 in the Life of Ben (Blog)
Laptop: Stopping the Magical Edges (23rd December 2011)
When an edge of a window gets near the edge of a desktop in Windows 7, magic happens. At first, with a single screen, this was usually what I wanted. But with my setup, it gets weird too often.
- Opened the Start Menu.
- Typed Snap and it displayed Turn off automatic window arrangement as the first and only item.
- Pressed Return and it opened an untitled window.
- Ticked Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen. Clicked OK.
(Ticking something to disable it is backwards, as we’ve known since Windows ’95.)
- I have a laptop with a screen.
- I also have an external screen, which is wider and much taller.
- My external screen is above my laptop screen.
- My external screen is the primary desktop. (When it is plugged in.)
- I like my windows to fill the height of just the desktop they are on.
- Only the 3D editing tool gets maximised, usually.
Open a code window on the primary desktop. Make it fill the height of the primary desktop. Run a full-screen game. Return from the game. The code window now fills the height of both desktops. Not what I want.
Run a full-screen game whose resolution doesn’t match that of the primary desktop. When the game ends, my windows are often shifted around. (Same as Windows XP.) Not what I want.
Run a full-screen game whose vertical resolution is the same as the primary desktop but with a smaller horizontal resolution. Usually, this is a 4:3 game on the 16:10 screen. When the game ends, windows are sometimes shifted a bit left or right. (I’ve set the top screen to be centred relative to the bottom screen, so it’s ~100px offset on both sides.)
Some applications are much smarter than others about this. If they detect the fact they are on one screen within an extended desktop, they usually re-position themselves nicely when the external screen is unplugged.
If they treat the entire extended desktop as a single desktop, they can be ~900px off the bottom of the laptop screen.
Now, the uses of multiple screens are endlessly varied and sometimes people want mutually exclusive behaviours. But some careful logic and perhaps some sort of wrapper around the less intelligent self-positioning applications could improve the situation.
Clues, such as whether the primary screen is an external one, could surely drive the logic part? With that said, my VB6 tools are completely oblivious to these things!
Winter Tennis (17th December 2011)
There are tennis courts in Finsbury Park, unlocked and open to the public. When I rode a few laps round there yesterday only 1 was in use, due to Winter and it being a weekday.
This morning, Fiona and I cycled over to it. We found 3 spare, full-size courts. Amongst the rather wayward shots were plenty of fun rallys, some skidding and numerous smiles. A very chilly wind started blowing so we went for some Mexican food.
Got back just as it started getting dark, before 4pm.
Putting Old PC Out To Pasture (17th December 2011)
Mum and Dad will arrive tomorrow to see the new flat, have a pub lunch, load the old PC and take it back to Fleet.
- Foxit PDF Reader
- Haali Media Splitter
- Grand Theft Auto London 1961
- Grand Theft Auto London
- Grand Theft Auto
- GTA FXT Editor
- GTA Wave
- GTA2 Game Hunter
- Miranda IM 0.9.2
- OpenSource Flash Video Splitter
- SUPER Anti Spyware
- VLC media player 1.1.11
- XN Resource Editor 188.8.131.52
Laptop: Driven Mad by Mouse Drivers (16th December 2011)
My beloved pointing device is the Logitech MX510 mouse but it doesn’t have the MouseWare 9.80 software for Windows 7. Indeed, it relies on the default drivers since Vista.
This provide the basic operation but don’t allow any of the custom buttons to be customised. In particular, I liked the Cruise Up and Cruise Down buttons to perform Page Up and Page Down, respectively.
After much searching online, reading several Logitech Knowledge Base articles and their support forum, it seemed hopeless. But then I found a Logitech support thread about SetPoint. Again, stumbling point is there seems to be no official way of downloading that from Logitech’s website.
Happily a web search showed Softpedia had old versions. After much rummaging through the 11-page listing, I finally found SetPoint 4.80 for Windows 7 x64. Downloaded it, installed it and hey presto! It installed without problem, even found and installed a 2MB update for itself.
(There are much new versions. But they might not support my device. It’s considered quite old, in mouse years.)
I made my changes to the buttons, along with changing the mouse acceleration.
Restarted my machine, as I’d used End Process on my Snyaptics Pointing Device processes earlier on. That was to see if the Logitech tab to would appear in the Mouse area of the Windows Control Panel, which seemed a plausible answer on an Internet forum I’d read. That had made no difference, so a restart should bring the other service back and let me check for conflicts.
Removed SetPoint Drivers (26th June 2012)
The mouse has been acting up, being super fast after startup and the Logitech SetPoint main windows appears. Have to click an already selected radio button for the settings to work as they should.
Changing the CruiseUp and CruiseDown buttons into PageUp and PageDown wasn’t working great. Add to that it didn’t fix the addition of playing card suit characters being added to text controls in Firefox when using the side-mounted Back and Forward buttons.
This MX510 mouse used to work brilliantly in XP, alas the official software isn’t going to be upgraded to give Windows 7 proper support. Therefore, I uninstalled it:
- Logitech SetPoint
It required a restart. The results is it’s working better than before!
- Mouse speed is correct from the startup.
- SetPoint interface is not shown after startup.
- Back and Forward no longer add weird characters in Firefox. Yay!
- CruiseUp and CruiseDown seem to cause intense CPU activity as the fan immediately starts whirring really fast. They scroll a bit like holding an arrow key down. (Uselessly slow.)
Re-Installed SetPoint Drivers (27th June 2012)
Made sure I got
setpoint480_x64.exe from Logitech’s legacy FTP site.
The installer immediately disappeared when it finished, while I was in the middle of typing a word. Did my keystrokes act as a shortcut to set something at the end of the process? Hopefully not as it all happened in a flash.
The main SetPoint window is now shown. My mouse has gone super slow, though. Changing to the Moving Mouse tab on the left of SetPoint shows the Pointer Speed is way down towards Slow. I move it nearer Fast and turn Pointer Acceleration to None.
I return to the Mouse Button tab and set each button to something useful:
- Left Click
- Right Click
- Other > Middle Button
- Other > Page Up
- Other > Page Down
Sadly the Page Up also does a Scroll Up interval with Page Down also doing a Scroll Down interval. Same situation even when using Keystroke Assignment > PGUP or PGDOWN, respectively.
This is good enough. I did Delete the Logitech Mouse and Keyboard Settings shortcut it added to my desktop, though.
Laptop: Printing (9th December 2011)
Fiona has a Kodak ESP 7250 which has WiFi support. Windows Explorer shows it in the Network location, listed in both the Computers group and the Printers group. Strangely, Firefox has no idea it exists.
After some searching, I found the page for KODAK All-in-One Printer Home Center Software (including drivers) - WINDOWS Operating Systems . But we were helping a friend move that evening and there were some other errands to run.
So I’d already spent half an hour to reach this phase, so I had to abandon it for another time.
Since I wanted to print a returns label to a package, that means it wouldn’t make this evening’s post. At least it wasn’t urgent.
Installed the Downloaded Drivers
The interface is rather pretty, with a great CGI-style image of each printer model. I managed to pick the magic options at the start which actually let you turn off the bloatware and marketing opt-ins later on. I suspect using the default choices early on prevent that. Which is a pretty lame form of evil.
Sadly it added an icon to my notification area. It also adds a process called
EKAiOHostService.exe described as EKAiOHostService Module for Kodak AiO Printers.
The good news is now Firefox knows I have a printer and I can use the Properties button for it. This opens a window called KodakESP7200+0258 Document Properties. Obscurely. Also obscure is how crazy the layout is and how mis-aligned the controls are. Standard controls with Windows theming (to its credit) but they’re in mis-sized frames all over the 3 tabs.
Tomorrow I’ll find out how well it prints. I had to hack the returns label web page so that it would fit on one side of A4. Happily, this laptop sleeps and wakes impeccably.
Phew. That’s a relief.
Laptop: Web Developer Setup (8th December 2011)
What do I need on my new laptop to make it a viable environment for making websites professionally?
Outlook XP 2002 (8th December 2011)
Sadly this is still necessary for doing formatted e-mails with HTML Stationery. There are only 3 products from Microsoft which I know send out the HTML in nearly the same condition as you wrote it:
- Outlook Express
- Outlook XP (aka Outlook 2002)
- Outlook 2003
So if you must use Stationery, use one of the first three.
Products to Avoid
Any other version of Outlook gets Microsoft Word to produce the HTML. Yes, really.
A case of perfection in, garbage out. One could barely even call it HTML and the compatibility issues are inevitable, endless and often impossible to solve to a client’s satisfaction. I’ve had first-hand experience of that when using:
- Outlook 2003 with certain settings enabled
- Outlook 2007
- Outlook 2010
Major versions which I haven’t tried:
- Outlook 2011
- Windows Live Mail (can’t do HTML stationery, AFAICT)
These produce code which is less like HTML than Microsoft Publisher did 10 years ago. Crazy. Run away screaming if you’re asked to make Stationery in any of those products!
Comparable Writing Style
While exploring some tangents from the above fix, I happened upon some Windows Live ID pages. A link called leave the house but not your media caught my eye.
Once I started readed it, I skipped down a bit. Then a lot. It was written as a chronological technical commentary in a mild manner with gentle quirks. Rather lengthy, though.
So it’s not just me who publishes like that!
Visual Basic 6 IDE Enhancements (29th December 2011)
Some of the controls which were nicely updated in Windows XP haven’t got the Windows 7 look this time, though. Oh well.
Laptop: Mobile Phone Archive (5th December 2011)
Over the past few years I’ve downloaded the messages and contacts from my phone to my computer. The phone becomes visible slow after more than ~200 messages but the lousy software it comes with has let me save over 3,000 messages.
Location & Transferring Mobile Phone Archive
My ancient but trusty Sharp GX15 was a hand-me-down after it had already provided years of loyal service to my dad. Before today, I had never found where it stored the thousands of messages I had saved.
Today, I discovered them here:
C:\Documents and Settings\<del>[Profile Name]</del>\Application Data\MobileAction\HandsetManager\EMS
Sharing and Security appears to work, on the old PC. But the new laptop doesn’t see the folder, I guess because it looks like part of an application in some way.
So I copied the MobileAction folder to the root of the hard drive and shared it. The folder path on the old PC was now this this:
This didn’ work, my laptop now longer saw my other computer at all. This might be because I disabled a couple of its other network features. But the WiFi was still going.
Joining a Homegroup from Windows XP
- Right-clicked on My Computer.
- Clicked Properties.
- This shows the System Properties window.
- Click the Computer Name tab.
- The last textbox gives you the name of a workgroup. It said
MSHOME, after a local IT professional had set up our old home network.
- I typed in
HOMEGROUPas that’s the name Windows 7 used by default.
- It froze for several seconds.
- Then a message told me it was now part of the workgroup! And that I must restart for the changes to take effect.
- I clicking OK to the System Properties window.
- A message box called System Settings Change appeared, asking me: “Do you want to restart your computer now?”
- I clicked Yes.
- This restarted the old PC.
- On the new laptop, I opened the Network location and clicked the Refresh button, next to the Address bar.
- After 10 seconds, my old PC appeared in the list!
- I double-clicked it and saw both the folders I was sharing. Yay!
- After tens of seconds, the Status Bar told me there were 3,375 files.
That’s one file per message… They have some binary noise in them and a
.sm file extension. Not just simple, compatible text files. Sigh. This is just about the worst software I’ve ever had to use, since there’s no other compatible software for this phone. (If there is, please contact me!)
Installing Sharp GX15 Software on Windows 7
Given the hassle this caused, even on Windows XP, I decided to look before I leap. There seemed to be no official GX15 manager for Windows 7, until I found that link. The download actually comes from the
sharp-mobile.com legacy downloads website.
I downloaded and tried to run it from within the
.zip file, which didn’t work. Unzipped it to
C:\Program Files (x86)\Sharp and told the installer to install it there. It worked! I selected Everyone when it asked who to install it for.
It added a
Phone Suite.exe shortcut to my desktop. Double-clicked it and it displayed a totally different interface than the one I used to use!
Then I went to the Settings window and the only phone model it lists is SH0037D. Huh? No matter what I tried, the status bar always said "Disconnected!"
FAIL. Will retrieve the install disk from home and try to install it like I did on Windows XP.
Sharp GX15 Manual Driver Install (8th December 2011
Windows 7 seems rather more protective against users installing bad drivers. However, there is a way to install drivers directly from a disk.
When my phone is plugged into the USB port, Device Manager does display a GX series item under Other devices. I right-clicked the GX Series item and clicked Update Driver Software.
This opened a window called Update Driver Software - GX series. It contains two text buttons. I clicked the one which says Browse my computer for driver software.
On the next page, it said
D: in a dropdown box. Wow. Do people even use driver letters in Windows XP? Let alone Windows 7. Anyway, this is my DVD drive and that’s where the drivers are. So that’s what I want.
Include subfolders was already ticked, so I clicked Next.
After a few seconds the next page said Windows was unable to install your GX series. Apparently, Windows could not find driver software for your device.
If I run the same steps again, but this time select
D:\SHARP_GSM_GPRS_USB_Driver and untick Include subfolders the result is interesting. An warning message pops up saying “The location you specified does not contain any driver software installation files”. If I change this to
D: then it goes to the next page.
That makes me think it did find the driver software the 1st time but chose to ignore it. When there is genuinely no software to install, it gives this warning message instead of going to the next page.
So now what am I supposed to do? Buy a new phone before this one runs out of memory? Using the Sharp software was never much fun, so maybe this is a good thing.
Uninstalled the Sharp GX15 GSM GPRS USB Driver (22nd April 2012)
Dad gave me his old Nokia N900 as a hand-me-down so I took the Sharp, made a final backup of everything and retired it for good.
The driver installed far enough to appear in the Uninstall or change a program list but never far enough to work. So that’s gone now.
I did copy all the text messages to the old PC and the new laptop. It used a weird
.sm text format, with seemingly binary dates and phone numbers. Web searches were no help decrypting it, otherwise I could have made a simple viewer.
TRON: Light Cycles in GTA2 (1st December 2011)
Some years ago I used paper to scribble notes. Brainstorming ideas, diagrams, jotting down bugs and suggestions when testing with other players from around the world. Now I do everything as drafts in my e-mail inbox.
Here’s a snapshot of my digital scribblings about the TRON: Light Cycles mod I’m making. (They are actually written in ASCII but reformatted here into HTML)
TRON: Light Cycles
- Do gameplay before graphics
- Player start points:
- Bike 4 is 1 cube too far East, along with its weapons?
- Keep as it is now, at the tall tower.
- Each bike gets one helping of guns and mines.
- Player respawn points:
- 2 bikes at starting tower.
- 3 bikes along North-West wall.
- 3 bikes in North-East corner.
- Create bikes 1 block above ground to avoid getting stuck in wrecks.
- No special code for now, just make lots of bikes.
- Steep, wide ramps lead into arena.
- Respawns are 1 level higher than that?
- Give each player 3 rockets when they respawn?
- Give powerups for VMG, Mines and Double Damage.
- Prevent them being moved until a player enters (collide, char, object).
- Fast Reload on water in maze.
- Fast Reload on narrow bridge in North-East.
- Extend the maze, towards NE?
- Open up some areas, NW?
- Powerups lead the traffic.
- Dusk lighting.
- Don’t make any bigger.
- Copy and Paste some scenery to go outside of the arena.
- Re-texture the cliffs and trees from Army Base?
- Dark towers in the ocean around South of arena.
Test in Zooka Arena (Done)
- Start as a private test.
- Schmidt becomes light cycle!
- Heavy, limited braking.
- Handbrake gives fast turn.
- Vehicle Machine Gun.
- Mines (with auto-clearance code snippet).
- Good balance of open and closed areas.
- Rather compact.
- Respawn on buildings would be better (
- Car performs differently in expected ways.
- Armed Land Roamer is for planes, with
TANKon top for 2nd player.