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Permission problems with NFuse and IIS 6.0

Someone at work reported that they could not download the Citrix ICA client. They’d accessed the NFuse (MetaFrame XP) site and been told they didn’t have the client installed (just upgraded to IE7 Beta2 and it doesn’t seem to pick up on the client). Which was fair enough, so he tried the download URL (E.g. https://www.oursite.com/Citrix/ICAWEB/en/ica32/ica32t.exe) and got a wonderful error message from IIS: Page could not be found.

So I did the usual and checked the file was actually there, and it was. And then a light came on and I thought since this on an IIS 6.0 box I bet its part of its fun new security guff. A quick search on Google threw up this blog entry from David Wang which covered the problem.

In IIS Admin I checked the folders Execute Permissions and they were set to Scripts and Executables. I turned them to None (for the entire ICAWeb folder) and the download then magically worked.

Now two things caused the problem. The first is the IIS 6, by default, is set to block All Unknown CGI Extensions which is great. This setting should be left alone. Its this that caused the error message to appear.

The second is that the installer for NFuse had given the folders those execute permissions. And thats the bit I can’t fathom out. Why would it do that? Its not a CGI program so its not going to do anything other than confuse poor old IIS. I don’t remember setting any permissions when I installed it. Very peculiar I thought!

Anyhoo, problem solved!

TrueCrypt 4.2 out

My fave drive encryption app was updated last month. It now has full Linux support (whoopee) and dynamic drives, which appears to be files that automagically expand in size. That would be seriously useful.

When it comes to updating it, the best thing to do is reboot, not mount any volumes, make sure its closed and then install it. I found that doing an install when the system was up, even with dismounted drives, it had problems. No damage done, just error messages about not being able to install the device driver properly.

I’m also using TrueCrypt at work. We got some 160GB USB 2.0 drives for extra storage and I decided to create a 100GB TrueCrypt drive on it. I found out two things. The first was that it recommended using an encryption method with a 128-bit block cipher, instead of 64-bit.

TrueCryptCipher

Not really a problem. Previously I’ve used Blowfish since that appears to be the fastest encryption method. So I went for AES… and then realised TwoFish was faster. As it happens, it doesn’t make too much of a difference.

The second was it takes fecking ages to format a TrueCrypt drive of that size. I don’t know exactly how long it took since I went out but I’d say at least an hour and a half. Actually I’m just creating a 26GB file and that reckons it’ll be 30+ minutes.

Still, once set up, its one of the those pieces of software that just works.

Keepass 1.04 update

My favourite password manager has recently been updated, but it looks like I’m a bit slow on this since its been out a month, but it nice to know its still actively developed even though its pretty much feature complete.

More info and download.

IE7 Beta 2

Can’t say I’m particularly impressed with it. The interface is just hideous. Why is the menu bar hidden by default? When it does appear why is it below the address bar? What is with the mismatched button graphics? Why is there an empty tab there that looks completely out of place? Why are the tabs so wide? I don’t use the favourites at all (thats what del.icio.us is for), so those buttons aren’t needed! The list goes on…

IE7Beta2

I’m amazed that the interface has gotten to beta 2. Both Firefox and Opera have nice clean designs, but IE7 actually looks cluttered. Stunningly bad.

This being IE the install overwrites IE6 which is pity given its a beta and I’d prefer it to install elsewhere. But if you follow the instructions from here and here, you can set it up so that it doesn’t do that. Its pretty easy actually. You extract the files out and create a batch file and VBScript file. Then create a shortcut (or a Slickrun MagicWord) to the VBScript file and you’re away!

I tried it on my home machine and it caused problems straight away in FeedDemon. The option to open new windows caused IE7 to appear (when it shouldn’t), as well opening a tab with FeedDemon. Apparently its bug in IE7 which has been reported. Given that, I can’t continue using it since I need FeedDemon to just work.

At least the uninstall works properly and puts IE6 back!

Edit: The method list above for running IE7, does a bit unstable. I couldn’t access any items on the menu bar and sometimes tabs didn’t appear at all.

Rocket Commander

Dan Fernandez, Product Manager for Visual Studio Express product range, made an announcement on his blog that all Visual Studio Express products are now permanently free. I always wondered what the logic was of having them free for a year and then charging. Perhaps a clever bit of marketing to get quick uptake on it?

I’ve not had chance to tinker with them properly but I can see why they’ve been downloaded over 5 million times! SQL 2005 Express is incredibly useful and if you’re doing something like database mirroring its pretty fundamental. You can have a box running SQL 2005 Express as a witness which keeps track of any changes between principal and mirror databases.

Anyhoo, the lower section of Dan’s blog post lists various things created with the Express products. What caught my eye was Rocket Commander which is written in Visual C# Express.

RocketCommanderScreenshot1 RocketCommanderScreenshot2

The game is pretty good and its a great demo of what the Express edition of C# can do. There is a series of video tutorials taking you through the coding of it, that I’m going to have to take a look at at some point. Its completely free and the source code is also available. The only snag is you’ll need .NET framework 2.0 and DirectX 9.0c in order to play Rocket Commander.

The Flower Commander mod is a laugh.

PSP Games – Worms Warfare and Lumines

I was pondering about games and I’ve decided that I’ll try to get ones that lend themselves to playing in short bursts. I’ve been engrossed with Ridge Racer and have played a bit more of Wipeout Pure, but my hands can’t take much punishment from having to hold the PSP in such a way that I need to use the shoulder buttons constantly.

So to that end I got Worms Warfare and Lumines. I love the previous Worms games and unlike the recent Worms games its not in 3D, but in (pseudo) 2D. By that I mean it is flat sideways scrolling but the background and various other objects are in animated in 3D. I noticed a slight bit of slow down when playing, which I think is down to those detailed backgrounds. 

The idea is pretty simple, you have a team of worms and you take it in turns to blow the crap out of each other. Last one standing wins. The controls are just like the classic Worms games with a cut down selection of weapons, which is good since it had gotten a bit daft in newer games.

What’s really neat though is that the randomly generated landscape options are back. I remember when I was at school we’d pop round to a mates house in between lessons and play a few rounds of the original Worms. We’d be sat there munching on our pack lunches playing it… funny but not much has changed in 10 years. I was sat at my desk at work yesterday eating my buttys and playing it in my lunch hour!

On the downside there aren’t a great deal of modes or options in the single player game. There’s quick game and a series of challenges on predefined levels and thats about it. But for me, the quick game was always the most fun.

Lumines is like Tetris on steroids. I haven’t had chance to play it much since Kate has commandeered it off me. Being a former Tetris addict on the Gameboy she is well and truly hooked, I can see me not playing this much. The idea is pretty simple, you have to match up coloured blocks as the game gets faster. Jay has got this so it’ll be interesting to see what the multiplayer game is like.

PSP Video 9

I managed to convert some MPEG files from my digital camera to PSP friendly MP4 format using a free app called PSP Video 9. Its a little clunky looking, but it does the job. On first run it’ll try to detect if your PSP is currently connected and if it is, it will try to create the folders needed on your memory stick.

I’d already created n:\MP_ROOT\100MNV01 but it was able to pick up on it (very odd name for a folder, I would have expected n:\PSP\MOVIE to match the MUSIC and PHOTO folders).

PSPVideo9-1 

Using the One-Click Transcode button on the Convert screen (shown above) I picked a bunch of files to err… convert. They’re weren’t particularly big, a minute max in length, so they didn’t take long to do. It even created the thumbnail files (.THM) for previewing. 

PSPVideo9-2

Once done they appear on the Copy screen (shown above). You then select the converted files on the left hand side and click the Copy Video to PSP button, situated bottom left, and off it goes. Thats all there is to it. Can’t really get any easier! Neat little program.

Apparently version 2.60 firmware has support for MPG and WMV files but I can’t seem to find any documentation on how to get it to read them.

Viewing PDF Files on the PSP

So I’ve had my PSP a couple of days now and I’ve been fiddling around with various bits and bats. One thing I really wanted to do was to read PDF files. I found various readers but they require various things to be installed and compiled, which I’m not interested in doing.

But I found a pretty easy workaround to do what I wanted. Using a copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional installed on a machine at work I was able to take a PDF and do as Save As to JPEG. It took a while to convert a 180+ page file but once done I created a folder on my memory stick of n:\PSP\PHOTO (n being the drive letter of your PSP / memory stick) and copied the files into that. Note that the folders have to be in upper case.

I actually created a further subfolder in mixed case containing my book. When copied I used the built in photo viewer. Its not prefect, since I need to zoom in to read them and when changing files it resets the zoom level I was at. Hopefully in a future version of the firmware they’ll sort that. But it does work.

Copying music across is similar, you need a folder of n:\PSP\MUSIC (again in upper case) to which you can then copy pretty much whatever you like over. The player picks them up straight away.

After much persuading I bought one

A PSP that is… and I didn’t take much persuading. I got the Giga pack which due to some funky special offer at Game came with a free game. I picked Wipeout Pure and a pre-owned copy of Ridge Racer. On a side note, the staff at Game were actually very helpful. They showed an interest in helping instead of just trying to fleece me. I was given a few tips on how to use it and how to update it etc, all very useful.

My initial thoughts, the screen is amazing. For such a small piece of tech its incredibly crisp and bright. I watched the music videos and Spiderman 2 trailer on the demo disc and was seriously impressed. The menu system is very slick and getting it to connect to my new wifi set up was easy. I noticed that it uses wireless B so the range isn’t as good as G, but with my new router, I had no trouble connecting. One problem I did have was that with prolonged use I found it uncomfortable, which I suppose is a good incentive to take a break.

Once the battery had charged up I was able to upgrade to 2.60 firmware and starting fiddling with net access. The web browser is relatively easy to use. The BBC site is excellent for browsing with its low graphics / text option. Gmail was also usable (in HTML mode) but really only for reading, I don’t think I’ll be sending emails! On a couple of sites I got out of memory errors (mostly on eBay) which was annoying. A quick search showed it to be browser tab related (i.e. too many open). I’ll have to read up on how to switch between them and close them. I didn’t even know it had tabs! (If the PSP can manage them, why can’t IE?)

Both games took me back 10 years, and I mean that in a good way. They’re remixes essentially of the best bits from previous games. I had a blast playing Ridge Racer, actually more than with Wipeout. I think thats down to airbrakes in Wipeout. I’ve not quite got the grasp of them yet, where as Ridge Racer is just point and squirt (if you’re on Auto gears). I’m seriously addicted!

The next step is to see if I can get various eBooks and PDF’s converted so I can view them. I’ve copied various photos and mp3s over and they’re very easy to get at. Movies seem a bit of pain since you need to convert them tp MPEG4. Its kind of odd actually since the files I was trying were saved on a Sony camera… you’d have thought it would be able to read files from other Sony devices?

Anyhoo, all in all, I’m well chuffed with it!

Procrastination Central

I was prattling on about Multitasking and Serial working earlier on in the week. Linked to that is procrastination. Its something I can be very good at. So I’ve been trying to stop myself from procrastinating… and by doing that I’ve been procrastinating further…

As luck would have it I stumbled across this post on 43 Folders called the Procrastination hack: “(10+2)*5”. Its very simple, you force yourself to do 10 minutes work on a small task then take a 2 minute break, repeated 5 times to make up an hour. The idea is you must work for 10 minutes and then you must take your 2 minute break. Its very singled minded and surprisingly it works.

It all falls apart without a timer and in the post comments were lots of suggested apps, mostly Mac based, which is of no use to me. However one did crop up in the comments, called WorkRave. Its actually meant for people with RSI or people who want to reduce the risk of RSI. During the rest breaks as it calls them you can do various exercises, pretty cool, but not strictly related.

WorkRave is cross platform for Linux and Windows and uses GTK+ interface library so looks a bit nonstandard compared to other Windows apps, but nothing out of the ordinary. I turned off the Micro-break and Daily limit timers and just set the Rest break timer to the following (10+2)*5 settings:

WorkRaveSettings

I have to say it works great! Every 10 minutes it popups with a warning box saying its time to go for a break and it gets really annoyed if you don’t. At first you have a smiling light bulb, but if you continue to work he then looks unhappy and an orange flashing border appears, followed by a red border to really get your attention.

WorkRaveWarning1 

WorkRaveWarning2

WorkRaveWarning3

Whilst the rest break dialog is up you can’t use your computer and if you try to the countdown stops and it flashes at you. You can off just skip it if you really want to carry on. Since the focus of WorkRave is to help with RSI, you do get various exercises to do, such as this one:

WorkRaveExercise

I tried a few, but they weren’t for me.

Getting back to the procrastination hack, it does work and I’ve found that when I really get into something I tend to just skip breaks and crack on with it. Definitely worth trying if you’re a procrastinator!

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