Category: Applications

Tips, Tricks, Howtos And Information About Some Useful Software Applications

This section contains tips and tricks, howtos and help about useful Windows and Linux software applications.

Enable TortoiseCVS on network shares

TortoiseCVS will not work on network shared drives by default so there won’t be any of the CVS overlays in Windows Explorer for mapped drives and theright-click context sensitive menu won’t show the checkout, commit, etc options. This post shows how to enable TortoiseCVS on network drives.

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Setting the country with Microsoft Bing

I was a little surprised when I took a look at Microsoft’s new Bing search engine to see that it thought I was in the United Kingdom when I’m actually in New Zealand. It showed the United Kingdom when I was using Firefox but correctly showed New Zealand with Google Chrome. This post shows how to change the country settings when using Microsoft Bing.

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Playing DVDs with Windows Media Player 11

I have Windows Media Player 11 installed on my Windows Vista desktop and was surprised when I went to play a DVD and a dialog window popped up to tell me that “Windows Media Player cannot play DVD video”. You have to ask what sort of media player WMP is when it can’t play DVDs (and many other useful codecs like MP3 and xvid/DivX). A quick search on Google provided the answer which I will show in the post below.

The error message

The offending error message is shown below in a screenshot.

windows media player cannot play dvd video

The full text of the error message is “Windows Media Player cannot play DVD video. You might need to adjust your Windows display settings. Open display settings in Control Panel, and then try lowering your screen resolution and color quality settings.” I pitty the poor people who actually take that advice and mess around with their screen resolution and color settings only to discover WMP still won’t play DVDs. It could at least say something like “I can’t play DVDs” instead of this lame excuse.

So you have two alternatives:

1. Download an alternative media player

If you decide to do away with Windows Media Player altogether then you can instead go for a media player like VLC Media Player which is cross platform and supports a wide variety of music and video formats “out of the box”. Download VLC Media Player for Windows, OS/X and for Linux and others from the main download page.

2. Download a codec pack

You can plug codecs into Windows Media player should you decided you want to continue to use it. I already had the “Vista Codec Pack” installed for playing DivX/xvid but I guess it didn’t have the necessary stuff to be able to play DVDs. A quick Google and I discovered the K-Lite Codec Pack which you can download from the free-codecs.com website here.

I downloaded it and ran the installer. It was clever enough to work out I had the Vista Codec Pack already installed and prompted me to see if I should uninstall it. When I agreed it automatically opened up the uninstaller for the Vista Codec Pack and then resumed the install after it had uninstalled. Very cool.

The first screenshot below shows the options you are presented with when installing. There are a large number of codecs available plus you can also choose whether or not to install Windows Media Player Classic as well.

installing the k-lite codec pack

The next screenshot shows the profile sections drop down box. Profile 2 does the same default install as the Profile 1 but doesn’t install the player (which you can also do by unticking the box next to Media Player Classic).

installing the k-lite codec pack, without player

When you are done selecting the profile and/or codecs to install, keep clicking next, install etc until the application installs. Then when it’s done you’ll be able to play DVDs as well as a whole bunch of other media formats in Windows Media Player.

That download link again: http://www.free-codecs.com/download/K_Lite_Codec_Pack.htm

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Specifying the auto-login name with PuTTY

PuTTY is a freeware terminal emulator and SSH client for Windows packed with a lot of useful configuration options. I’m forever mistyping my login name when logging into a server and the only solution when you do this is to close the PuTTY app, start it up again and then try again. To make logins quicker and to save login name mistypes you can specify a auto-login username and then all you need to do is type in the password.

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Backup/export bookmarks with Mozilla Firefox 3

It is possible to backup and restore bookmarks from Mozilla Firefox 3 and also import and export them as an HTML file, which makes them able to be imported/exported between different web browsers. This post looks at how to backup bookmarks and export them them to an HTML file with Mozilla Firefox 3.

Backup Firefox bookmarks

To backup and restore, import and export bookmarks, select the “Organise Bookmarks” from the “Bookmarks” menu as shown in the first screenshot below. (All screenshots in this post were taken with Firefox 3 on Windows XP with the Windows Classic theme).

bookmarks menu in mozilla firefox 3

This will open up a bookmarks library window as shown in the screenshot below. You can then click the “Import and Backup” button / menu option as shown below and you will see the options to backup, restore, import HTML and export HTML.

bookmarks library window in mozilla firefox 3

After clicking the “Backup” option a “save as” dialog will open as shown in the screenshot below. You will see the file is named with the date (e.g. Bookmarks 2008-06-22.json in the example below) but you are free to change the name to whetever you want it to be. Choose a folder to save it and click the save button.

backup bookmarks with mozilla firefox 3

The file it saves it in is JSON format, which is sort of like a type of Javascript. The start of the file looks something like this:

{"title":"","id":1,"dateAdded":1213728276671875,"lastModified":1214111252421875,"type": ...

Export Firefox bookmarks to an HTML file

If you select the “Export HTML” option from the “Import and Backup” menu option/button above, you will also be prompted with the file save as dialog as shown in the screenshot below. This time you are saving the file as an HTML file which means it can be then imported into a number of other web browsers.

export bookmarks as html file with mozilla firefox 3

Simply locate the folder you wish to save the bookmarks to and then click the “Save” button. Again, you are free to change the file name to something that suits you better.

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Selectively delete cookies in Firefox

When developing websites or testing stuff I sometimes need to be able to delete cookies in my web browser. Session cookies can be dropped by simply shutting down the web browser and starting it up again, but if their expiry is set sometime into the future it is possible to delete in some web browsers yourself. This post shows how to selectively delete a cookie in the Firefox version 2 web browser.

What is a cookie?

A cookie is small piece of information transmitted between a web browser and web server to help identify you so each page request can be related to the last, and for other tracking purposes to remember you when you come back to a site, or to set personal preferences etc.

Selectively deleting cookies in Firefox 2

You can delete a single cookie in Firefox 2 (or more of course) by selecting “Edit” and then “Peferences” or “Tools” and then “Options” from the main menu (the exact menu structure can vary depending on operating system). You will then see an “Options” window like the one below. Click the “Privacy” button to get to the same options page as show below.

firefox options dialog

To see which cookies are set, click the “Show cookies” button. This is highlighted with a red box in the above screenshot. Clicking it will show a window like the one below. At first it will show a list of domains that cookies have been set from with a + to expand them like a folder structure. You can then click on the cookie you want to view.

Alternatively, you can start typing into the “Search” box (highlighted in red in the screenshot below) and it will only show cookies that match the search term. It will match domain names, cookie names and cookie values. The example below shows me searching for cookies that match “phpmyadmin”.

deleting a single cookie in firefox

After you have clicked on a cookie, it will show the cookie name, content, host, path, connection type and when it expires in the bottom part of the window. You can then click the “Remove Cookie” button to delete the selected cookie. The remove cookie button is highlighted with a blue box in the above screenshot.

You can also select multiple cookies by control+clicking or shift+clicking and click the “remove cookie” to remove all those selected.

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Change where Firefox saves files to by default

By default the Firefox web browser saves downloaded files to the desktop. I personally prefer to have my web browsers prompt me where to save a file each time I download something rather than automatically saving it to the desktop etc so this post looks at how to change this default behaviour in Firefox.

The browser version used in this post was Firefox 2 on Windows Vista. The screenshots below should be pretty much the same across different operating systems. I haven’t yet used Firefox 3 yet, which is still in beta, and may need to revise this post (or write another) to cover any differences in the particular version.

To change where Firefox saves downloaded files by default, or to get it to prompt you where to save them each time, select “Options” from the “Tools” menu. This will open a dialog like the one in the screenshot below. There is a sub section in the main set of options titles “Downloads”. The example below shows the default behaviour with the radio opiton “Save files to” and “Desktop”. You can either click the “Browse” button to change the location files are automatically downloaded to, or change the radio button to “Always ask me where to save files”. Then whenever you go to download a file you will be prompted where to save it.

firefox options screen

The second screenshot below shows what the settings look like after changing the radio option to “Always ask me where to save files”. After saving the changes by clicking the “OK” button Firefox will now prompt you for a save location each time you download a file.

changing firefox save files option
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How to enable IMAP access for a Gmail account

Gmail has a web based interface but it’s also possible to access your Gmail mailbox using IMAP or POP and use a different (offline) application, such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird to access your Gmail. This post looks at how to enable IMAP access for Gmail. The same settings page also allows you to enable POP access but you’re better off using IMAP.

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