Category Archives: windows

Control multiple PCs with single keyboard and mouse

A software KVM approach is sometimes a good solution. While setting up a new PC I had to access the older PC. I used to use Synergy, but could not find if that software is still around.

Now I’m using ‘Mouse without Borders’. It allows me to control the two PCs, Windows 7 and Windows 10. Works very well. It also shares the keyboard and copy and paste.

Links

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Windows 7 Startup Repair can take a very very long time

My PC crashed. This time it boots into Startup Repair screen. For those who haven’t experienced this fun example of high technology, it is a dialog box that says, a check for problems will take a few minutes and a repair could even last an hour. The horror of this dialog is that you don’t know if it is working or just hung. It uses a animated “progress” bar. The blue just goes left to right and repeats.

It kept running so long I just stopped the PC (long power button press). Note, many on web warn about interrupting this repair! I’m so tough, I interrupted it multiple times; it ain’t the boss of me. Anyway, I gave up, let it keep running. I figured the hard drive light is blinking every few seconds and then a few rapid flashes. Maybe it is doing some bit twiddling on the hard drive.

It took approximately 72 hours!!!! At the end I was able to log into Win 7. Of course, the Law of Large Numbers, five minutes later the mailman dropped off a new PC I ordered online.

Ok, I logged in. It’s working. I take back all the trash talk on Windows. But, wait … I said to myself, hmmm, if there were disk errors, I should run a checkdisk and sector scan. So I pick those on the C drive and reboot. Now no screen at all, and the hard drive light is on all the time. Oy veah.

Let me work on the new Windows 10 PC. A cheap box, but the processor is not too shabby An Intel Core i5-6400 CPU @ 2.70Ghz.

HomeGroup can’t connect. There is already an existing old HomeGroup. WTH!

Updates
1. The checkdisk and sector scan finished. System still running. Yes, these two took hours, and worse than a progress idiot box is no UI at all.

2. HomeGroup. Followed some steps given on web. Did not work. I found these instructions that did work: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-networking/deleting-old-homegroup/66cf9557-9130-4582-9d7b-4f8689699bf7?auth=1.
BurrWalnut writes: “Go to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Homegroup > Leave the Homegroup and click Leave the Homegroup. If all the computers leave the Homegroup, it will no longer exist, so it‘s effectively deleted and can be setup again.” Weird.

The same person writes: “A home group with no connected computers is like a god with no worshipers; neither can exist.” That is deep!!!

3. The HP Hardware Diagnostic Tools just ran and I got a failure of the SMART Short Self Test Failed (Error Code HD521-2W). Hard drive failure is imminent.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Windows mouse pointer disappears on second monitor

Started happening recently. Maybe an upgrade or some new glitch in system caused it. Experimenting, and found that turning on the Mouse’s Pointer trails eliminated the problem.

System

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • UltrMon 3.2.2
  • HP PC p6230y
  • AMD Phenon II X4 810 Processor 2.60 GHz
  • System Mouse driver

Related Links

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Windows file symlinker gui

Windows has the ability to create file links. Not the regular “shortcuts”, Linux like links.

MKLINK
This is hidden in a shell command called MKLINK. Many people are not comfortable with a command shell (even many developers!). I sometimes just want to stay in the graphical view too.

Example Use
Just downloaded the new Groovy 2.1.0-rc-1 to check it out. I put my tools in a versions folder and then I create a directory link to the version I currently use. I wrote about this in “Switching between versions of tools“. So, when I install this new version a directory list (dir groovy) would look like this.

C:\java>dir g* | find "groovy"
01/10/2013  09:08 PM    <JUNCTION>     groovy [C:\java\GroovyVersions\groovy-2.1.0-rc-1]

This would usually be created with the mklink command as follows:

mklink /D groovy GroovyVersions\groovy-2.1.0-rc-1

With symlinker:
“The goal is just make it easier to create symbolic links, hard links, or directory junctions, using a pretty simple interface, so no more bogus command line to do it… ”

Is there any gui linker that allows you to create the link in the current explorer location? Yes, we can create a shell extension and all that, but shouldn’t computers make this easier to do? On symlinker’s project site, a user asks for this capability.

Ok, so it is graphical and looks good. However, now you have to fill in two input fields that require you to navigate using Windows explorer, where to create the link and then where to point the link. Using the command line is faster especially if you use tab-completion. You can use the Windows explorer window and type, of course, however, the “completion” there is more awkward.

Anyway, recommended tool for occasional link creation in Windows.

Tool Switching
The approach above is easy and works. If you need to switch a group of tools and libraries to different versions, that is more complex, perhaps even in the realm of package managers. In Windows there are no lightweight frameworks for this. On Linux there are tools like GVM.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Synergy now easier to configure

Just updated Synergy to version 1.4.10 which uses a GUI to help layout the different screen relationships. Nice. Took about two minutes to install and share the keyboard and mouse between a PC and laptop.

Synergy lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on your desk, and it’s Free and Open Source. Just move your mouse off the edge of one computer’s screen on to another. You can even share all of your clipboards. All you need is a network connection. Synergy is cross-platform (works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux).

Basically, it is a software Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) switch.

Links

  1. Synergy
  2. How To Control Multiple Computers With A Single Keyboard And Mouse
  3. Synergy for Mac: SynergyKM
  4. KVM Switch
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

kiesPDLR has stopped working

I ran Samsung Kies and it indicated that there is an update. I updated it and now get the kiesPDLR error.

Tried a few things suggested via a web search. Didn’t work. So I uninstalled the Kies application. The unloading crashed. LOL! Using Procexe I killed any lingering traces of Kies, then downloaded the latest version, Kies_2.5.0.12094_27_11.exe. I didn’t reboot, just started it up. Did not get the error.

Connected the Samsung Note smart phone with USB cable. Wouldn’t connect. Hmmm. Switched cables, a little closer, at least the driver started to install (I thought Kies installed that?). Still wouldn’t connect. Unpluged and plugged in again a few times. Connected!!!!! Now what was my original purpose? Dam computers. How do non-techy people use these things?

I read some people had no luck with the reinstall of Kies.

Update
A new Kies update was released. Again the update failed. Followed the same process described above. Worked. Now the Kies version is 2.5.0.1209_28.

Links

  1. Kies
  2. Note

System

  • Phone: Samsung Galaxy Note SGH-I717
  • Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Host: Windows 7 Professional 64bit.
  • PC: AMD quad with 8GB ram.
  • Brain: Belonging to carbon-based life form, Earth, Homo sapiens sapiens.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

MultiMouse

What a great idea for collaborative work groups: MultiMouse.

Users can drag the mouse cursor out of their computer’s desktop and multiple mouse cursors will appear on the common desktop of the central PC:

Multiple mouse pointers are useful for workgroups who want to brainstorm on a project and discuss ideas.

While all users are using their own computer, they can work together on one screen. All mouse cursors are visible on the main computers desktop. Users can also enter text on the central PC from their own keyboard.

Each remote mouse cursor has a customizable name tag to identify each user.

The user’s mouse cursor positions and remote text input is transmitted by MultiMouse using any existing Wireless or Ethernet connection. No extra hardware required!

MultiMouse

Related
MaxiVista
UltraMon
Synergy

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

How to Measure User Interface Efficiency

My frustration level reached a peak while using a mobile phone.  So, again, I’m thinking about GUI design.  Why are the interfaces so bad and how to fix them?

First step is just figuring out how to measure the badness.  There are plenty of UI measures out there and many papers on the subject.  BTW, I’m just a developer grunt, coding eight hours a day, so this is out of my league.  Yet, the thoughts are in my head so ….

To get to a goal takes work.  In physics, W = Fd.  Work equals force times distance.  No direct correlation to user interface.  But, what if W is equal to user interface element activated times number of possible objects to act upon, i.e., W = U x O.  Work equals UI force times number of options.  This ‘force’ is not a physical force or pressure, of course.  It is a constant mathematical value.

Example, you click on a button and then you are confronted with a choice of five options.  Lets say you are reading a web page and you want to share it with someone.  This takes too much work, way too much.  Even getting to the sharing choice is monstrous; click the menu button, click share, find which method of sharing, get to contacts app, blah blah.

So, here is what we have.  Activating a user interface element is a force; each type of element is given a constant value, a button is 10, a scroll bar is 100, and so forth.   The number of options that results and is relevant toward the end goal is the ‘distance’.

Now you divide this resulting value by how much time it took you to get there and you have Power.   P = (U x O)/T. (Update 7/26/2013: Probably a better dimension is actual distance of pointer movement or manipulations).

Add these up for each step in completing the goal and you have a metric for an interface user story.

Why use the number of options for distance?  The number of options presented to the user is stress. Kind of related to Hick’s Law, “The time to make a decision is a function of the possible choices he or she has”. If computers and software were not in the 1960s (face it modern stuff is just fancy screens) they would know what the hell I want to do.

A follow up post will give the solution to this User Experience Design (UXD) or Interaction Design (IxD) problem, and the solution is actually pretty easy.

Update

Created the follow up:  Proactive Interface

Related Posts

Links

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Access virtual storage with UNC and mklink on Windows

I set up a Tomcat app server on a ‘virtual’ hard drive. The virtual drive is assigned a local hard drive letter. But when a Groovlet attempts to access a local file, the file path used is on the default local drive, C:. How to allow access to the non-local file?

Symbolic links
There are probably many ways to do this and of course corresponding security concerns. One of these is to use Universal Naming Convention (UNC) paths. My quick approach is to just use file directory symbolic links. These are supported in most windows versions. On Windows 7 the MKLINK command is available.

Example
You want to access the folder w:\a\b\c on the virtual drive. On the “real” drive you create a link:

c:
mkdir a\b
mklink /D c w:\a\b\c

Now when the app server accesses the “c” folder via a UNC, \\mymachine\a\b\c, it will find it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Show hidden windows utility on PC

Sometimes a program may crash or show deranged behavior and one of the dialogues cannot be accessed. This just happened to me. A program looks like it is stuck in a thread issue. When I look on its thread list it seems to be waiting for user input. There is no dialog visible. Clicking on the program’s window just gives the waiting mouse pointer. Sure you can just kill the program but this may not help you find out what the problem really is.

I remember years ago I used a utility that could show these hidden windows. Good luck searching on web for something like “show hidden windows” or better phrases. You won’t find it. Well, yea, you could. I did. But, I’m good, smirk.

Note that this utility is pretty basic, just shows a list of window objects. Some of them should not be unhidden, they will lock the utility itself or cause other problems. Perhaps there is something out there that is better? Seems this should be part of the Sysinternals utilities.

Links

  1. Unhider
  2. Windows Sysinternals
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.