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


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.

Web-Based Subversion Management Tool

Edit:  Sorry, I didn’t look hard enough.  Check out Submin if you are still interested in this.

For those not in the know, Subversion is a piece of software that manages source code in something called a repository.  While this in itself is nothing special, Subversion and other software like it, allow developers to keep a detailed revision history of the source code.  You can even revert back to previous version in the blink of an eye!  Managing a Subversion repository can be a bit of pain though.

Here’s what I’m thinking:  We need a web-based subversion management tool.  Currently there aren’t any good soluti/ons for this and I’d really like to help the community out with this if I could.  What features would you like to see in a web-based subversion management tool?

Javascript + CSS Fade In

Edit:  This was created before I had discovered JQuery or MooTools.  Please, for the love of God, use those instead.

You’re working on your first sweet ajax form implementation.  You’ve got the form communicating asynchronously with the server and sending status updates between to the two.  However, when you want to let users know that the form is processing, the processing image just kind of “pops” in there.  What you need is an easy “fade in implementation”.


<div id=”myimage”>
<img src=”myimage.gif” />


#myimage {
opacity: 0;

The Javascript

function fadeIn(id, level) {
if(document.getElementById) {
object = document.getElementById(id);
if(level <= 100) {
setOpacity(object, level);
level += 10;
window.setTimeout(“fadeIn(‘”+id+”‘,”+level”)”, 100);

function setOpacity(object, level) {
level = (level == 100)?99.999:level; = “alpha(opacity:”+level+”)”; = level/100; = level/100; = level/100;

How To Use It
Using this code is pretty easy.  Make sure that the CSS & Javascript are included in your document correctly, then do the following.


If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’d be glad to help.

The GIF Trend

Over the past 3 months, I’ve noticed an interesting trend popping up across the web.  Instead of using online video formats such as Flash Video Format (flv) or Qucktime (mov), people have been saving short clips as gif files.  Last time I checked, this wasn’t 1997, so why have people started this old trend back up?


First, a little bit of back story.  In the late 90’s, the Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web was a different place.  Rich content on the Internet had just started to catch on, and user driven content was barely even known.  Heck, people still had 486’s back then (guilty).  Probably the most important aspect of this time period was that broadband hadn’t really penetrated the mainstream yet.  Outside of corporations and academia, most normal people had a 56k modem connection.  At the time, this worked great for browsing the web.   However, imagine trying to watch a 15 second Youtube clip on a 56k modem.  Yeah, it’s not going to work out great.  You’d probably end up waiting about 3 or 4 minutes for the clip to cache, and then you could watch it.

Enter the GIF

For years people had been using gif files to animate things on web pages (Hamsterdance anyone?), but some people got a bit more creative with them.  Instead of using gif files for small animations, then used them to create video clips.  If they were sized down in quality, resolution, and frame rate enough, they were considerably smaller than the rich-media alternatives.

Death of the (movie) GIF

With broadband penetration came richer media and easier access to it.  Once people were no longer chained to a dial-up connection, they jumped ship on the movie gifs.  Most of us considered this a blessing and never thought of movie gifs again… until 10 years later.


A couple months ago, the movie gifs started popping up again.  I quickly checked to see if Netscape Navigator was bugging.  But it wasn’t.  Strange I thought, so I checked the page in IE 4 just to make sure.  Still, the movie gif kept showing up instead of a flv based film.  “Why has 1998 invaded my interwebs I said?”.  Here’s why.

The internet loves nostalgia.  Tech nerds can’t get enough of recalling their past tech conquests.  True story, I had this conversation with my girlfriend the other night.

Me: “Hey, did I ever tell you about my first computer with internet access?”
GF: “Are you serious?”
Me: “Yeah, it was a 486 DX-4 with 16mb of RAM and …(interrupted).”
GF: “Why are you telling me this?”

As you can gather from this conversation, she isn’t a tech nerd.  However, other geeks would enjoy the story.  I can already feel the nostalgia oozing from the readers.  Back to the matter at hand though.  The flv format has such a high penetration rate now that a lot of people look right over it.  But if you had a title on a blog that looked like: Jumping Kangaroo[GIF], tech nerds would be intrigued and definitely click it.  More clicks=More conversions=$$$$.

An alternative theory is that corporations have started to block traffic from rich content providers (Veoh, Youtube, Dailymotion, Google Video, etc) so people have started to put REALLY interesting clips in gif format.

Personally, I’m not sure what the right answer is.  In the meantime, I’m going to open up IE 3 and search Dogpile for some cool animated gifs.  Maybe the overwhelming nostalgia (and vomit creeping up in my throat) will provide me with some insight.