Me, my life, my interests

links for 2006-04-25

Running Scheduled XP Tasks Without A Password

Sometimes it's handy to have a scheduled task do something in Windows XP. I use a couple for different reasons. One is to do a weekly backup of data from one disk to another, and the other is to do a daily grab of the TV guide from IceTV to process and deliver to my Topfield PVR. Annoyingly, but probably appropriately, XP doesn't let you run scheduled tasks by default without a password set on the user account. This is described in Microsoft knowledge base article 310715.

Instead of creating a password for my login at home, and instead of creating a 'dummy' account with a password just for scheduled tasks, I found this: Scheduled Tasks - Running Tasks Without A Password.

For XP Pro: Go to Start/Administrative Tools/Local Security Policy/Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only. This is enabled by default, disable it.For XP Home: (Keith Miller) Go to Start/Run/Regedit and navigate to this key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa

Value name: limitblankpassworduse, Type: REG_DWORD, Data: 0 (disabled) 1 (enabled)

Anyway, it works...

links for 2006-04-05

Aardvark Firefox Extension This is a neat tool that plugs into Firefox and allows you to see and manipulate css and html elements dynamically

Firefox Extensions for Web Developers One of the great things about Firefox is the ability to customise and extend the browser to suit your needs with extensions. Here is a list of some useful extensions for web developers.

(tags: Firefox Extensions webdev)

theory.isthereason » From to WordPress: How to automatically post daily links

BlogRolling - The best link manager for your weblog and more! BlogRolling is a one-stop linklist manager for your blog or journal, helping you manage your ever-evolving linklist with ease. There are a lot of tools out there to help you blog without getting your hands dirty - but managing your linklist still means ha

That Strange Falling Sensation hey, now I know. Seems that there may be a link between those drifing off to sleep muscle twitches and fatigue. At least it's not just me.

(tags: sleep science)

Iconize Me! Becoming very popular now is iconising yourself for your site. I contemplated doing this for a while, and recently discovered this site putting people in touch with artists.

Micro Persuasion Steve Rubel's blog on "Social Software". Social Software? Right. Anyhoo, he actually has some very interesting articles and pointers to new stuff.

Interesting links for 2006-04-05

BlogRolling - The best link manager for your weblog and more!

BlogRolling is a one-stop linklist manager for your blog or journal, helping you manage your ever-evolving linklist with ease. There are a lot of tools out there to help you blog without getting your hands dirty - but...
(tags: blog blogging tools)

That Strange Falling Sensation hey, now I know. Seems that there may be a link between those drifing off to sleep muscle twitches and fatigue. At least it's not just me.
(tags: sleep science)
Iconize Me! Becoming very popular now is iconising yourself for your site. I contemplated doing this for a while, and recently discovered this site putting people in touch with artists.
Micro Persuasion Steve Rubel's blog on "Social Software". Social Software? Right. Anyhoo, he actually has some very interesting articles and pointers to new stuff.


Thanks to all the wonderful folk at Telstra who wished me such a fond farewell last week when I finished up. It was kind of overwhelming. The many lovely sentiments in the card were really great and really encouraging. Thank-you! The gifts were grouse too:

  • A Fisher Space Pen (Bullet) which writes really well - obviously people know that I love pens. This one is great because it is very small, but when using it the cap makes it a very practical length.
  • A Global knife - the Global Large Granton Santoku which is absolutely bloody fantastic! These knives are so sharp, I can highly recommend them to everyone, and their range is huge. This Santoku is a good size (not too small and not too big) but the best thing is the granton edge (scalloped grooves on the side) that prevent food from sticking to the knife. This is great for potatoes and hard wet foods.
  • Some lovely Haigh's chocolates - some delicious assorted hand made chocolates filled with many wonderful flavours, and a huge gold wrapped chocolate frog! They were delicious!
  • And finally, a pack of recycled printer/copier paper. Someone in particular knows that I like to write on blank paper because I draw mind maps rather than write notes. Obviously frustrated with me using new paper, they have been encouraging me to use recycled paper, and seemingly want this habit to continue!

So thank-you very much all of you!

As I said at drinks last week, working at Telstra with all the people in the wireless and online content technology area has had a great influence on me, both professionally and personally. I've had opportunities to grow and learn many new skills, face and overcome many challenges, work with some truly wonderful, talented people and form some good and hopefully long lasting friendships. I wish you all the very best.


Serving mediawiki from a subdomain

I just managed to get MediaWiki working from a subdomain, rather than from /wiki. There are two changes that you need to make to localsettings.php when trying to serve MediaWiki from a subdomain. The first is to change

$wgScriptPath = "" ;

from whatever the path was, and the second is to insert:

$wgServer = "http://subdomain.yourdomain.tld";

The first setting stops the scripts from being called from the wiki subdirectory (which is now your subdomain) and the second tells bits of MediaWiki where to find things like the skins and images. That's the best explanation I can come up with right now!

Reference Installing MediaWiki on a subdomain and Serving MediaWiki from a Subdomain

Is ugly good?

Really interesting article over at SiteReference about how good and profitable ugly websites can be. Have a read of The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites and see what you think... I found it particularly interesting as Mark Doust touched on a number of interesting issues - conveying trust; people dealing with people, not websites; and usefulness and usability. For me, attractive sites can be good too, just so long as they are meaningful, useful, let me do the things that I want to do, or get the information that I want, and if the visit involves buying something that the site conveys the sense that there are actually people at the other end that are really interesting in dealing with me, not just taking my money.

Back from a weekend of Camping

Just arrived back safely from a long weekend away camping down at Nicholson in Gippsland Victoria. Photos are up in the photo section. Kyla, Tambo Camper and Pathfinder We stayed at the Lakes Bushland Caravan Park which is a few kilometres past the town of Nicholson, and much nicer than the caravan park in the town. That one is more like a "trailer park" with lots of permanent residents and hardly any decent campsites. The Lakes Bushland is very bushy, and very well spaced. The facilities are good, but the prices have gone up recently, but are still pretty reasonable.

We've had the Tambo camper trailer for about 18 months now, and it still continues to perform really well. It's great to tow because it is a reaonable weight, and we are pretty organised, so we are really quite comfortable.

Get ready for that scratchy soundThis was the second trip in the new Nissan Pathfinder and it still continues to impress. We took it down some great tracks that led down to the Tambo River with one being so tight that both sides of the car are scratched quite convincingly. Oh well, that's what we got the car for, wasn't it? Off road the car is great, and on road it is a pleasure to drive.

We also ventured to Nicholson River winery where we tasted some outstanding wine, and ended up spending a small fortune on a whole stack of wine. This place is really work a visit if you are down that way - the chardonnay's are worth the visit alone, but everything else is great too!

The camping was lots of fun, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Hard Disk Recovery (or “what a way to spend a weekend”)

Last weekend, I had a hard disk failure on one of my external drives. It was kind of frustrating, but I have recovered data from a failed disk before. Of course, the corruption occurred late at night, and just after I had archived some data off my Shuttle XPC. Note I had "archived", not "backed up" so I really did need to get it back.This is an external enclosure made by Welland ME-740 Classic with a Seagate 160GB drive with USB2.0 and Firewire connectivity to my Shuttle XPC. I had it connected to the Shuttle via the firewire port.

First up I ran Chkdsk and it fixed up some errors and I was away again. But not for long. Soon the entire disk was unreadable!

Given the suspected disk crash, I turned to a product called SpinRite, which although required a bootable CD to run in DOS mode to directly access the disk, did its job of scanning the disk. Mind you, I had to remove the disk from the external enclosure and plug it into the PC's IDE port, because the standard bootable SpinRite disk did not include firewire or USB drivers.

SpinRite reported not a single physical problem with the disk. Of course it didn't. It was a Seagate disk.

OK, so my efforts now needed to shift to Data Recovery, not disk recovery. So after a quick Google search I settled on a product called GetDataBack, since that is what I wanted to do, and it allowed a free trial. It was reasonably priced assuming the scan that it performed (free) found the data that you wanted to recover. Nice trick that - holding me to ransom. But it worked, and it worked well. I have no idea whether it is the best product on the market, but it did what it said it would do.

So, the disk was ok, I had the ability to recover my data, and all I needed was somewhere to put it. I brought my other Archive disk home from work the next day and late that night proceeded to recover all my data. It was at the point of verifying that I had recovered everything that I needed that the other disk failed. Same thing.

OK. I get it. Disk not a problem. Computer a problem. Or at least the connection between the computer and the external enclosure was a problem. This other disk had been working at work for months, so I was pretty confident that it was ok, so I think it had something to do with the firewire port on the Shuttle.

But these enclosures were USB2.0 as well, so I started up GetDataBack again on the other drive and waited to see how I went.

I also had another problem to solve. I now had well over 200GB of data to recover off two disks.

With my heart in my mouth, I purchased yet another enclosure and hard disk.

To cut a long story short, I was able to recover well over 95% of the data with a couple of files corrupted beyond repair.

I also found one reference to a similar problem on the shuttle and an external drive, but as a friend pointed out this weekend, it could simply be that the firewire cable is the problem. I did use a different cable at work (it had a mini plug on one end). But, I think that I will never know, because I am quite reluctant to plug any of the drives in the firewire port...

UPDATE: Edited link to the Welland site

Cholesterol test results are back

The results of my cholesterol test are in, and they're not the greatest, but not really unexpected. I mean, I'm dieting for a reason, right? So here they are:

  • Cholesterol 6.3 mmol/L (ideal range 3.5-5.5)
  • Triglycerides 0.9 mmol/L (ideal 0.5-2.0)
  • HDL Cholesterol 1.31 mmol/L (ideal >1.00)
  • LDL Cholesterol 4.6 mmol/L (ideal <3.5)
  • LDLC/HDLC 3.5 (ideal <4.0)
  • Chol/HDLC 4.8
  • Fasting Glucose 4.7 mmol/L (ideal 3.6-6.0)

So, what does all this mean? Well, in sequence: my total cholesterol level is above normal; my triglicerides are OK; my High Density cholesterol (the good ones that collect fact from around the body (says my doctor)) levels are good; my Low Density cholesterol (the bad ones that deposit fat around the body) levels are above normal; the ratio between the two is OK (so I need to do something, but not panic). The Chol/HDLC ratio is above normal; and my fasting glucose is OK.

Yeah ok, but what does it actually mean? It means I'm not about to kark it just now, and that I can take steps to lower these levels and in so doing reduce my risk of having a heart attack or something.

I had the test at the very start of my diet, which was the 10-Jan-2006, and as you will notice is just after Christmas and all that. Not that I am making any excuses or anything, because the fact of the matter is that I need to lower my Cholesterol.

I need to reduce the amount on cholesterol forming foods that I eat. For me the big one is chocolate. And cheese. And butter. Bugger. But I can eat all the fresh green vegetables that I want!

I like to have target to reach, so here are the targets that I asked my doctor to set for me:

  • Total Cholesterol <5.3 mmol/L
  • LDL Cholesterol <3.5 mmol/L

My next test is in July-2006.


PS I've lost a little more weight, but not as much as the first couple of weeks. I'm now 89.8kg, so back under 90kg! yay!

Getting an Image in the K2 header

Matthew Stinson wrote some time ago about including images in the K2 header. Although the notes are for an older version of both WordPress and K2, this will help me get a better understanding of how this all works.

To add a banner graphic you first need a banner of appropriate size (760 x 200 is the default, but you can go bigger/smaller according to your needs so long as you adjust the rest of K2 appropriately). When customizing K2’s CSS you should use the K2 styles CSS rather than editing the K2 CSS directly, as any custom styles you create will automatically overwrite K2’s styles without altering core files. The banner you want should probably be placed in


that is, an images folder inside the styles folder.

The CSS code to include a banner in your custom style looks like this (edit the all-caps sections to match your materials):

#header { /* Contains the H1 and menu */ background: url(images/YOURBANNERGRAPHIC.FORMAT) no-repeat; background-color: #CHOOSE A COLOR THAT MATCHES YOUR BANNER GRAPHIC; }

Edit your custom CSS file (make a copy of sample.css and edit that copy) and upload it to the styles folder. Then, upload the banner graphic to the images subfolder mentioned above. Finally, access K2 options in WordPress and select your custom style. Load your blog site and the banner should appear.

lets see how I go...

Other things to work out

Things that I keep seeing around the place but not really sure how to use yet:

  • RSS Feeds - feeding directly into wordpress, and testing to make sure that my feeds work
  • pingback
  • trackback
  • linkback

any ideas?

Basis of the site is done!

This time last week, I'd never heard of WordPress. Six months ago I started mucking around with blogger, but found the lack of categories a bit of a drag, really. And I guess because I wasn't really happy that things weren't just the way that I wanted them, I kinda lost a bit of interest. So from setting up a hosted site, creating a new blog and loving WordPress in the process, I could see that the tools that I wanted were finally at my fingertips. All I now needed was my own domain some place to host it and then I could get cracking with my own fully customisable installation of WordPress.

I timed it well too. WordPress 2.0 was just officially released so I spared myself of having to upgrade.

I would like to thank a few people too. From people who have taken the trouble to write up their experiences with getting everything working, to others who are publishing themes and styles and plug-ins and all sorts of wonderful stuff.

There have been a bunch of other inspirational sites as well, (and we can't forget the WordPress wiki).

Anyway - off to add some more photos now!

WordPress 2.0 vulnerability

aha.. it seems that WordPress has a known vulnerability which may allow an attacker to carry out an SQL injection attack, so we'll have to watch out for a patch... UPDATE 29-Jan: It has been reported that there is now a fix for this problem and that it involves an upgrade to WP-Stats 2.01.  The problem was also localised to the Wp-Stats plug-in and has been patched. You can read more about the problem, and go directly to the source for the fix.

new domain and WordPress installed

OK, so the new domain is set up, WordPress is installed and running, other blog data imported (not that there was much), all in a couple of hours. Very hapy with WordPress so far. Next will be the theme and template. Will also need to set up a new default page for

what fun! :-)

Second Week on the Diet

Well, it's the start of the second week on the diet. Started last week at 92kg and this week I am 90.2kg. So heading in the right direction, although I daresay most of that loss is fluid. I'm on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, which apart from not being able to drink much alcohol, is actually very easy to adopt. I've got a pedometer too, so that I can be sure that I am doing enough walking.

XP Hint:Screen refresh rate

This is a big one for me: Flickering monitors. I personally find them very annoying, but others seem to tolerate them much more than I do, but complain that their eyes are tired. Whenever I help someone out at their PC I fix their monitor refresh rate. Why is this a problem? On CRT monitors, they need to constantly refresh the screen to display the image, otherwise it fades away. If the refresh rate is too slow, under certain conditions the flicker (fade then refresh) becomes noticeable. This is particularly relevant for larger screens, and irrelevant for LCD monitors which don't have the same fade issues - if a pixel is on, it is on.

What can be done to fix it? In XP the default refresh rate is 60Hz (times per second). For high resolution GUIs something above 72Hz. But you need to make sure that your monitor can handle the higher refresh rates. XP has some neat protection to help ensure that you don't end up with a blank screen, by allowing the setting to be confirmed (or not) before it times out and reverts to the previous setting. If your monitor is correctly detected by XP then you should be pretty right.

  1. You can make the refresh rate change by going to Start > Control Panel > Display to bring up the Display Properties dialog box
  2. Select the Settings tab, and click the Advanced button - the Plug and Play Monitor Dialog box will be displayed.
  3. Depending on your video card in your PC, you may see five or six tabs on the dialog box, or there may be more than 10.
  4. In the Plug and Play Monitor dialog box, click the Monitor tab.
  5. In the Monitor Settings area, ensure that the Hide modes that this monitor cannot display checkbox is checked. This will help ensure that we don't select a refresh rate that is too high.
  6. In the Monitor Settings area, from the Screen Refresh Rate drop down list, select a refresh rate higher of 72Hz or higher.
  7. Click Apply. XP will now test the setting. If the display looks ok, click Yes to keep the settings. Generally speaking, the higher the refresh rate the better.
  8. Click OK on the Plug and Play Monitor dialog box, and the Display Properties dialog box and close the Control Panel.
  9. Finally, you may need to adjust the monitor to optimise the display height, width and positioning on the screen as the refresh rate can sometime affect these. Use the controls on the front of your monitor to make these adjustments.

You can also get information from XP help by searching for screen refresh frequency in XP's Help and Support tool available off the Start menu.

By the way, the same flicker is present in most fluorescent lights in office buildings. If you can get some natural light in, this can help ease the load on your eyes, or alternatively get an incandescent desk lamp.