Archive for January 2008

Migrate your printers list with printmig

January 31, 2008

I think that continually learning and growing is the mark of a great IT pro.  In light of that, today I stumbled across a find I won’t forget.  This may be old news to some of you, but if you’re like me, you’ve sometimes spent your time working harder instead of smarter.  Here’s the smarter.  It’s called printmig.  It’s designed for Windows Server, but it works perfectly on XP workstations.  It migrates your printer settings to a new machines. 

At our office, we have about 15 printers set up on our network.  We don’t use a print server (for very good reasons due to the nature of our business).  The problem is, every time I have developed a new image (we have about 5 models of PC out there on the floor, plus at least 3 models of laptop) or edited an old image, I have entered all the printers manually, creating a TCP/IP port, loading drivers, etc. 

No longer do I have to do this.  Printmig allows you to save your entire printer configuration as a .cab file and load it directly onto another machine.  One caveat – you need to make sure any specialty printers (app-specific faxes, Adobe Distiller, etc) have the appropriate program installed before you copy the printers over (I am already accustomed to adding printers after programs in my image dev process, so no loss here). 

One of my rules in tech support is that “if you’re having a problem with it, someone else probably has too.”  So if you’re like me, here’s a little something to help you in your image development.  Enjoy. 

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9B9F2925-CBC9-44DA-B2C9-FFDBC46B0B17&displaylang=en

 

 

So tell me what you think!  Have you used other printer migration software?  I’d love to hear about it.

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Old School Like the Old School – simulating a monochrome monitor for cmd

January 31, 2008

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=604

How to set up your properties on XP’s command prompt to emulate the look of a monochrome monitor.  It’s cool, but to be honest, if you’re been working with computers long enough to appreciate this, you could figure it out on your own.  At any rate, I just thought it was a cool post.

Yet another business without file backups…

January 31, 2008

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/news-article.aspx?storyid=100625

I love the part in the article where the sheriff says, “The lesson to be learned here is that you can’t depend on having just one set of records or files and having your employees have access to them. You’ve got to have some kind of backup.”

I would bet that this company paid more in stress, time, and money to have a professional recreate seven years worth of work via an NTFS reader than they would have paid to have limited-access offsite backups.  Is secure backup expensive?  A little.  Is it worth it?  Well, let’s just say I hope they are looking into it.

vLite gives an edge for Windows Vista enterprise deployment

January 29, 2008

My PC is no slouch.  I’m running a Core 2 Quad Q6600, 4 GB RAM, and a slew of other nice hardware.  So why is it that, when I run Windows Vista (especially the first few times after install), it takes longer to boot than my XP box did (it ran a Core 2 Duo E2160 with 1 GB RAM)?

If you have wondered this kind of wonder, vLite is something you might be interested in.  This is a freeware tool for customizing Vista installations.  The vLite website is http://www.vlite.net/ – have a look.

If you don’t do technospeak, here’s what they are saying.  This program lets you manipulate Vista BEFORE you install it – this way, you’re not trying to rip out components that are already installed.  In other words, hopefully we can keep from breaking it while getting it to be a little more resource-friendly.

Now, after looking at this, I see some good points.  Here’s some of the highlights for me as an enterprise IT tech:

          remove components/tweak installation
If you’re an IT tech, you probably have found things in the OS that your users could waste time with.  Minesweeper, FreeCell, Paint, Windows Movie Maker, and the list goes on.  This gives you the option of adding, removing, or customizing components prior to install.  Enterprise techs use this kind of technology all the time (called a transform when used on individual programs).  Most recently, I used it on Adobe Reader, though it also comes in handy on MS Office installs.  Using this technology helps you set up default options, remove garbage, and keep your users out of the Games folder.

          unattended setup

We’ve seen this on other OSs, and though I haven’t used it much (we clone our HDs, so I don’t have to do many OS installs).  You get to start it and walk away.

 

          driver integration

If you have lots of PCs with the same hardware configuration, here’s your ticket to get it all set up ahead of time, so when you boot the system after the install, you’re all set.  Enterprise techs LOVE this kind of thing.

          create ISO and burn bootable CD/DVD
Here’s another one we IT people love.  You can save your work and burn a DVD – presto!  Your own customized Vista install.  As I mentioned before, transformed installs are popular in the IT world.  But this is the first I have heard of one for Windows Vista.

So here’s the downside.  Two that I can think of.  First, you have to know what you are doing with operating system installations.  You have to know what the program is talking about before deciding you don’t want it.  Otherwise, you may not be able to get your hard drive to boot, or who knows what else?

Second, you actually have to do the customization BEFORE you install.  So, that means that you would have to reinstall your OS to make any changes using this program. 
 

Bottom line for me – if you aren’t comfortable working with a few technical terms and some things that could seriously mess up your PC, I don’t think I’d worry too much about vLite.  Either that or you could get your Vista-savvy cousin to help you.  But if you’re a PC tech who has to widely deploy Vista, this tool (properly learned and tested) could be a real time and resource saver.

 

Ben

BTW, here’s the post that tipped me off to this tool.

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-news/?p=2016

Wow, you can steal software faster than ANYONE else!!!

January 29, 2008

So the hot ‘news’ in the blog community is that some people claim to be able to distribute Windows 7 Milestone 1 via BitTorrent.  I suppose this is news.  I guess I feel like it’s a big dud. 

Yes, we want to get an improvement on the Vista kernel (presuming they are using the Vista kernel, which I don’t know for sure).  And I understand the curiosity of wanting to see what MS is planning.  But really, I think it’s all a race to see who can garner reputation points on the “less than legal software” scene.

So here’s the article I read that tipped me off to this.

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/141917/bloggers_early_version_of_windows_7_leaked.html

So what?  They may or may not have done it.  But the fact is that PC World printed their names.  That’s why people do this kind of stuff – to get “points” in their online community.

On top of the fact that stealing a prerelease OS is illegal, I’m having enough fun trying to figure Vista out.  Maybe I just had a bad day at work, but I don’t care all that much about Win7.  I’m not impressed.

Tour of the Windows Vista Snipping Tool

January 28, 2008

I have spent too much time installing SnagIt onto users’ PCs because they want to be able to do a partial window capture in XP.  Here’s a move in the right direction by MS – a built-in snipping tool bundled with Vista.

Now, it should be known that I see Vista as an opportunity to learn rather than as a panacea for our tech ailments.  I am committed to finding the benefits of new technology.  Plus, many of us are in the “I bought this and I’d better learn how to use it” boat.  So this one’s for you (and me). 

Vista includes a “snipping tool” in all versions except Home Basic.  To open it, click the Start button, then (in the search box) type “snip.”  Then, click on the “snipping tool” and snip away!  There are some options you can set.  For instance, you have shape options:

          free form (create your own shape)

          rectangle (drag a box shape)

          window select (just like previous versions of Alt+PrtScn)

          screen select (just like previous versions of Ctrl+PrtScn)

snip2.jpg

Click the drop-down arrow on the “new” button to choose a new snip shape.

There are other options as well (click the Options button to access these):

snip tool

          Hide Instruction Text:

o   This shows or hides the popup hints on how to use the program

          Always copy snips to the Clipboard

o   This option saves the item to your clipboard for easy pasting into emails, documents, etc.  Just like the older PrtScn functions.

          Include URL below snips (HTML only)

o   This is for pasting info from Web pages.  This helps you avoid plagiarism and helps your readers access your sources.

          Prompt to save snips before exiting

o   Gives you the option to save as a file for future use or for editing.

          Display icon in the Quick Launch toolbar

o   If you do business communication, I could see that you would love this option.  It gives you a quick launch icon for the Snipping Tool (you know, those little icons next to your Start button)

          Show screen overlay when Snipping Tool is active (on by default, though my screenshot shows it as off)

o   This gives you a grayish overlay over the screen to let you know that you are in “snipping mode” (that’s not a technical term).  It’s just a friendly reminder that you are about to take a screen shot.

          Ink color for selection

o   This is the border-like box around the area you just snipped.  You can choose the color.

          Show selection ink after snips are captured

o   I don’t like this, and if I make more use of this tool, I will likely turn it off.  It leaves the red (or whatever other color you chose) border on the picture and inserts it along with the picture into whatever document you use the snip for.  If you like this, great.  If not, well, now you know how to turn it off.

I do have a few things I dislike about this tool.

1. I haven’t figured out a way to do menu screenshots with cursor (I did figure out how to do a screenshot of a menu; it could be a little confusing, so if you need to know, comment and I’ll add it), and it doesn’t do video screenshots. 

2. It doesn’t have a delay (timer) so you can get ready after clicking OK.

It’s not nearly as robust as SnagIt (I use SnagIt at the office).  But SnagIt is not free.  And this tool doesn’t hog any additional system resources, which to me is a major plus (SnagIt runs a background process).  It doesn’t minimize to your system tray like so many annoying programs do. 

So the bottom line opinion is this – it’s a major improvement over the minimal screenshot capabilities in XP.  And if you’re dealing with the usual compatibility issues, resource consumption, etc. with Vista, you deserve a break from the hassle to enjoy something that actually got better since the last version. =)

Ben

Bluetooth helps bilateral amputee to walk again

January 26, 2008

This is amazing.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/01/25/bluetooth.legs/index.html#cnnSTCText