Monthly Archives: June 2009

Virtual Box on Ubuntu 9.04 Host

Ever since I got my new laptop back in April, I’ve been running the latest version of Ubuntu on it.  Sometimes though, I do have the need for Windows (when I need to use Visual Studio, for example).  In those cases I have a virtual machine with Windows XP installed on it, and any of the often needed Windows utilities available.  This worked great for me in previous versions of Ubuntu, but with the new laptop came a weird problem:  The VM was transparent.  Not completely transparent, but maybe 40% transparent.

Luckily there is a quick fix for this.  With your mouse pointer inside of the guest operating system, make sure the “host key” is disabled, and then hit windows key + c.  That should remove the transparency and you’ll be good to go.

Morning

As much as I despise waking up at 6:15am every morning, there are a few things I do enjoy.  I enjoy spending an hour reading articles and catching up with the day’s news.  I enjoy the fresh feeling that the world has at that hour.  The morning dew is still clinging to everything, and the sun being low on the horizon.  Above all else, it’s quiet.  Everyone is still sleeping at that hour.  That’s probably my favorite part.  No phone calls, no talking, just the sound of the wind at my back and the birds singing.

Next time I visit the ocean, I’m making it a point to get up early and watch the sunrise.  I haven’t seen a sunrise in ages.

The “Project You Don’t Want to Do” Life Cycle

  • Day 1: Okay, quick and easy project.  I should at least try to have fun with it.
  • Day 2: What!? I have to do this in Visual Basic?  I don’t even have visual studio, let alone any VB knowledge.
  • Day 3: Visual Studio is installed, created a gui for this project.  Hey, this gui designer is pretty nice.
  • Day 4: Beginning to realize why I love PHP so much.  I’ve never had so much trouble connecting to a database in my life.
  • Day 5: Screw this, I could make this program in 10 minutes in Python!
  • Day 6: Crap, my Python is rusty.  Oh well, I’ve made some good progress.
  • Day 7: Man, gui programming in python is weird.  I guess making a gui in any language kind of sucks.
  • Day 8: Bleh, back to Visual Studio.
  • Day 9: Suck it up and do is VB.  Learn something new!

Free ISO Mounting Tool

Every so often you need to mount an ISO file.  I generally use Linux, so I can just create a loop back interface.  On Windows though, things are a bit trickier.  If your are lucky enough to have money, you could always buy a tool to do this.  However, most of us are either poor or cheap, so that’s where this tool comes in.  Microsoft apparently created a free iso mounting tool that it doesn’t support.  I have used this with great success over the years, so I wanted to share it with everyone.

Click here to download VCDControlTool.sfx.exe

Computer Information using WMI Scripting

A few years ago, I worked at the OIT Help Desk at Central Michigan University.  While there, I was asked to write a little utility that would pull information about the machine out of the system.  In order to do so, I learned VBScript and the WMI library that comes with Windows.  WMI is really handy for projects like this because it allows you to pull machine specific information in an easy way.  For instance, let’s say I want to get the machine name:

Option Explicit
Dim objWMIService, objComputer, colComputer
Dim strLogonUser, strComputer

strComputer = “.”

Set objWMIService = GetObject(“winmgmts:” _
& “{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\” _
& strComputer & “\root\cimv2″)
Set colComputer = objWMIService.ExecQuery _
(“Select * from Win32_ComputerSystem”)

For Each objComputer in colComputer
Wscript.Echo “System Name: ” & objComputer.Name _
& vbCr & “Total RAM ” & objComputer.TotalPhysicalMemory
Next

WScript.Quit

Easy as pie.  The only problem is that you have to have a loop in there.   Even with only 1 computer.

Ajax Utility Function

Edit:  This post was made before I started using JQuery or Mootools.  This can safely (luckily) be ignored now.

For the past couple months I’ve been playing around with Ajax style events on a few pages I’ve been working on.  One of the main problems I’ve run into is cross-browser compatibility (surprise!).  To solve that problem, I took the advice of a book that I’m reading and made a utility file for some of the most annoying cross-browser issues:  Event Handlers, Activated Objects, and Request Objects.  You can download the utility file by clicking the link below.

Download utils.js here.

Enjoy!  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’d be happy to get back with you.

Useful Tools for Startups and Freelancers

Sometimes starting a business can seem like a lot of work.  Actually, it can, and will be a lot of work.  However, there are some tools out there for free (or at a small cost) that can make managing your business a lot easier.  After all, don’t you won’t to focus on your work, and not your bookkeeping?  Here’s a list of tools that I’m currently using, or plan to use in the future once business starts to increase.

  • Toggl – Toggle is a free time tracking tool.  You can create tasks, track time on tasks, and run reporting operations.  It’s also handy because it includes a timer that can be accessed via the web or a desktop widget.  That way you can keep track of how many hours you’re actually working on a project.
  • Billing Manager – Billing Manager is a tool that allows small companies the ability to invoice clients, set up payment plans, add customers to Christmas card lists, and a host of other options.  The real winner for this service though is that it allows for online payments, which means you won’t need to handle cash directly.  The software is by Intuit, so you know it can be trusted.
  • Google Docs / Email – You may or may not know this, buy you can set up your companies e-mail to be handled via Google.  Not only can you get email set up via Google, but company chat, and shared documents via Google Docs.

Plugin Development

While working on the new Wrestling Addix Beta site, I was recently charged with the task to create a new wordpress plugin for the “Featured Videos” section of the site.  When I realized that I needed to do this, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I thought that making WordPress plugins was for the real rockstar wordpress developers, but it turns out that almost anyone can do it.  I found a nice site that had a wordpress plugin template already worked out for you (complete with admin backend!), so that made it a lot easier to get things done.  If you’re interested, the site can be found here.