Show Quick Keyboard Shortcut List in Google Reader

If you are like me, then you probably use Google Reader just because it uses shortcut keys that remind me of the VIM editor. What I didn’t know until today is that you can quickly pop up a list of all the shortcut keys by just typing the question mark ( ? ).
Some of the best shortcut keys let you tag items, and switch directly to a feed quickly using some nice ajax goodness. For instance, if I want to go directly to just the Lifehacker feed (one of my favorites), I could use this key combination:

g then u, then lif

And I’d get directly prompted to go to Lifehacker’s feed:

To get to the quick help screen for shortcuts, type ? in Google Reader, and up pops a quick reference for the keyboard shortcuts:

Sweet!

NNTP – Geek Glossary Terms

Network News Transfer Protocol is the protocol users must use before they can post a message and interact with a usenet newsgroup–created in 1986, the NNTP protocol is a lot like the SMTP protocol for email, but was tailored for exchanging newsgroup articles for groups instead of users. NNTP queries, distribute, posts, and retrieves articles to and from a newsgroup server.

Hide Flashing Command Line and Batch File Windows On Startup

I use a lot of batch files, command line applications, and even Ruby scripts (which run from the command line). One of the things that has always irritated me is the flashing command prompt window when I make a shortcut for a batch file, especially when I put it into the startup folder to run when I first login.
There’s a really useful utility that you can use called Hidden Start (hstart), which will start up a command line application hidden in the background, which eliminates the flashing window.
If you launch the utility with no parameters, it will pop up the settings dialog.

When using this utility, there are three key things to remember: Use the /NOWINDOW parameter to keep the window hidden, use the /D=path argument to make sure that the current directory is set correctly, and make sure to surround your application argument with quotes.
For instance, if I had a batch file stored in c:\scripts\mybatch.bat, I would start it by using the following parameters in my shortcut:

hstart /NOWINDOW /D=c:\scripts “c:\scripts\mybatch.bat”

You’ll probably want to copy hstart.exe into somewhere in the system path, for instance C:\windows might work nicely.
Download Hidden Start (hstart)

Use "Command Prompt Here" in Windows Vista

A very popular registry hack for Windows XP was the “Command Prompt Here” hack, that would automatically open a command prompt window in the directory that you had clicked on.
Windows Vista includes this ability right out of the box, it’s just not immediately obvious, because it’s hidden behind a shortcut key.
To activate this, just hold down the Shift key when you right-click on a folder, and you should see the Open Command Window Here menu item:

Just like that, a command window opens with that path as the working directory

Stop Firefox From Tracking Downloads

I’ve never actually used the Firefox download window for anything useful. I don’t really care about keeping a list of downloads, and anytime I accidentally open the downloads window, it seems to hang the browser for a few seconds.
Turning off the tracking of downloads is really very simple. I didn’t realize how simple it was until
Click Tools \ Options and then the Privacy tab.

Uncheck the box for “Remember what I’ve downloaded”. You might also want to clear the download list while you are at it.

Use Windows Vista Reliability Monitor to Troubleshoot Crashes

If you’ve owned a computer running Windows, you’ve probably complained about things crashing on your computer. Windows Vista includes a Reliability Monitor utility that lets you track all of the times that something crashed.
To get to this screen, you’ll just need to open Performance and Reliability Monitor in the administrative tools section (or just type perf into the start menu search box, and it’ll show up)
Once you are there, click on Reliability Monitor in the left hand tree menu, and you’ll be greeted with this screen:

You can track how stable your computer is, based on the number of crashes, and you can select a large number of dates to get a nice graph like you see above, which includes information on various system failures, as well as installs and uninstalls of software.
In order to illustrate how this could be used for troubleshooting, let’s give an example:
Your computer has been crashing for at least a few weeks now, but you aren’t sure what you did to make it start crashing. You go to the Reliability Monitor and discover that there were no crashes before 2 weeks ago, and the day before the crashes started, you installed some shareware software. Now we know that the shareware software is what probably caused the application crashes, and we can just uninstall that.
Note: The System Restore feature is very useful, and is well worth using as you tinker with Windows Vista. Most installations of software automatically set a restore point, but if you are tinkering with the registry or other system settings, you might want to set a restore point first.

Command Line Hack for: "Terminal Server Has Exceeded the Maximum Number of Allowed Connections"

If you’ve worked on a network with Windows servers, you’ve encountered this error message at least 37,000 times:
“The terminal server has exceeded the maximum number of allowed connections. The system can not log you on. The system has reached its licensed logon limit. Please try again later.”
This problem happens because Windows only allowstwo remote terminal services connections when you are in administrative mode, and you’ve either got two people already on that server, or more likely, you’ve got a disconnected session that still thinks it is active.
The problem with this error is that you have to actually get on the server console to fix the problem if the server isn’t in a domain. (If you are in a domain, then just open Terminal Services Manager and log off or disconnect the sessions)

To use the command line hacks, you might need to run them from another server if your local operating system doesn’t include the commands. You will also need to make sure that you are logged onto that server with an administrative account. The easiest way to do that is just map a drive (you don’t have to use a drive letter unless you choose to)

net use/user:[username] \\servername\share

Here’s a command line hack that you can use to figure out what sessions are connected to the server. Note that you could substitute the IP address for the server name.

query session /server:servername

Sample output:

Now we know that the session ID of the offending session is 2. We can use that in the next step, which is using the reset command to log off that user.

reset session [ID] /server:servername

Sample:

This command won’t display any output, but when we run the query command again, we should see that the session has now been disconnected:

Note: Thanks to my friend Todd for this one.

Remove "Please wait while the document is being prepared for reading" Message in Adobe Reader 8

This has been frustrating me for a while, ever since I got a new laptop with Adobe Reader 8 pre-installed on it. Every single time I open a PDF, no matter what size, I have to wait for the “Content Preparation Progress” dialog that tells me the document is being prepared for reading. I’m prepared to read the document, why isn’t my computer?

To remove this message, just open up the following folder, making sure you adjust the path if you installed to a different location:

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Reader 8.0\Reader\plug_ins

You should see a file called Accessibility.api in that folder. Remove the file… you can delete it or just move it somewhere else.

Now the next time you use Adobe Reader, you might get this one-time message. Just make sure you check the box, and it will go away forever.

And that’s all you have to do. No more annoying dialogs. Of course, you should be using Foxit Reader instead of Adobe anyway.

Thanks for this tip goes to ArsGeek, which is a great site for some really geeky content. He’s had some great Ubuntu articles over the last year.

How to Repair GRUB2 When Ubuntu Won’t Boot

Ubuntu and many other Linux distributions use the GRUB2 boot loader. If GRUB2 breaks — for example, if you install Windows after installing Ubuntu or overwrite your MBR — you won’t be able to boot into Ubuntu.
You can easily restore GRUB2 from a Ubuntu live CD or USB drive. This process is different from restoring the legacy GRUB boot loader on older Linux distributions.

Graphical Method – Boot Repair

Boot Repair is a graphical tool that can repair GRUB2 with a single click. This is the ideal solution to boot problems for most users.
If you have the media you installed Ubuntu from, insert it into your computer and restart. If you don’t, download a Ubuntu live CD and burn it to a disc or install it on a USB flash drive. You can also download a dedicated Boot Repair live CD.
After booting into the live Ubuntu environment, open a terminal from the Dash and run the following commands to install Boot Repair:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair
boot-repair

The Boot Repair window will appear after you run the boot-repair command. After it scans your system, click the Recommended repair button to repair GRUB2 with a single click.

You can also click the Advanced options header to customize GRUB2’s options without learning its command-line syntax.

Restart your computer after using the Boot Repair tool. Ubuntu should boot up normally.

Terminal Method

If you’d rather get your hands dirty, you can do this yourself from a terminal. You’ll need to boot from a live CD or USB drive, as in the graphical method above. Ensure the version of Ubuntu on the CD is the same as the version of Ubuntu installed on your computer — for example, if you have Ubuntu 12.04 installed, ensure you use a Ubuntu 12.04 live CD.
Open a terminal after booting into the live environment. Identify the partition Ubuntu is installed on using one of the following commands:

sudo fdisk -l
sudo blkid

Here’s the output of both commands. In the fdisk -l command, the Ubuntu partition is identified by the word Linux in the System column. In the blkid command, the partition is identified by its ext4 file system.

Run the following command to mount the Ubuntu partition at  /mnt, replacing /dev/sdX# with the device name of your Ubuntu partition from the above commands:

sudo mount /dev/sdX# /mnt

For example, use /dev/sda1 for the first partition of the first hard disk device.

Important: If you have a separate boot partition, skip the above command and mount the boot partition at /mnt/boot. If you don’t know whether you have a separate boot partition, you probably don’t.
Run the following command to reinstall grub from the live CD, replacing /dev/sdX with the device name of the hard disk above. Omit the number. For example, if you used /dev/sda1 above, use /dev/sda here.

sudo grub-install –boot-directory=/mnt/boot /dev/sdX

Restart your computer and Ubuntu should boot properly.


For more detailed technical information, including how to use the chroot command to gain access to a broken Ubuntu system’s files and restore GRUB2, consult the Ubuntu wiki.

Hack: Turn Off Debug Mode in VMWare Workstation 6 Beta

VMWare Workstation is great. The version 6 beta has even more awesome features…  but it’s slower than dirt, because debugging mode is turned on by default.
Thankfully there’s a quick and easy trick to turn off debugging, which will increase the speed a lot.
Here’s what we’re going to do:

  1. Open an explorer window and browse down to the VMWare install folder. (C:\Program Files\Vmware\VMware Workstation)
  2. You’ll see two folders, one named bin and another named bin-debug.
  3. Rename bin-debug to bin-debug-old.
  4. Make a copy of the bin folder, and name the copied folder bin-debug.
  5. Enjoy Workstation 6 without debugging.

Here’s a screenshot of what the folder structure now should look like:

(Thanks to Daniel for the screenshot, and my friend Jeff for the tip)