Wishing you all a very very Happy New Year

HNY 2007

Happiness deep down within.
Serenity with each sunrise.
Success in each facet of your life.
Family beside you.
Close and caring friends.
Health, inside you.
Love that never ends.
Special memories of all the yesterdays.
A bright today with much to be thankful for.
A path that leads to beautiful tomorrows.
Dreams that do their best to come true.
Appreciation of all the wonderful things about you.

Chaos Laboratory wishes you a really bright & prosperous year ahead 🙂

How to replace your Task Manager & handle processes better

Lets face it – the default Task Manager (taskmgr.exe) in Windows 2000/XP is of very limited calibre and doesn’t display a lot of critical information – like the originating path of a process, parent-child relationships between processes and specially the DLLs used by each process. All this information really comes in handy when dealing with misbehaving processes as well as for development and debugging of Windows based applications.

Trying to gather all that information involves continuous hopping between Task Manager, Services Explorer and several other applications and can get very frustrating in the long run.

Thus, the search for a free but more powerful task manager alternative brought me upon two great tools …

Both the tools are packed with features, though Process Explorer (by Sysinternals software, which was bought over by Microsoft) is the more powerful one.

Process Viewer:

This one can act as a replacement for users with beginner and/or intermediate computing skills and won’t take you on an information overload trip. It’s really compact & light-weight, the disk footprint being approximately 850KB and loads far faster than the standard Task Manager.

The default view is similar to that of Task Manager with a couple extra columns like PID (Process ID), Full Path to the Process executable etc.

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Further musings on Google’s experimentation with the AdSense logo

I’d talked about my own experience with the “Ads by Google” logo experimentation in one of my earlier posts titled, Google experimenting with the “Ads by Google” link in AdSense.

There I’d pointed out how Google might have actually heard the grumbles against the idea and resorted to a win-win approach for both Google & AdSense Publishers by tweaking the new logo to blend in with colour palette of your Ads.

AdSense according to palette

Seems like I was pretty much right about it. A recent Ad that showed up on my site contained a full Google logo – in pure BLACK with WHITE background, which is the default palette set for my Ads.

New Logo

I don’t really mind if the logo turns up consistently like this, as it’s pretty much unobtrusive and I don’t think it’s going to reduce the CTR noticeably.

However, according to CaptainRon at Astahost Forums who’s recently read The Google Story, apparently 60% of users who click Google Ads have no idea that they’re doing so. In a way it might be a logical step for Google to avoid any kind of lawsuits, though this could make that segment aware that they’re clicking on ads and hence make them deviate from it.
What say you?

Local Website Archive: Archive your favourite pages in a snap

I’ve using this really handy freeware that makes all other Offline Browsers go for a toss. Admitted, Offline Browsers are real good for storing content offline – but very soon your pages and directories become an uncontrollable mess if not organized properly from Day 1. Besides they still reside as individual pages and folders creating a messy folder containing thousands of files.. here’s an alternate to that … Local Website Archive.

I download thousands of tutorials from the net everyday and I’d always have problems organizing them properly. As mentioned above – I’d have a jumble of folders – and very soon lost track of all my pages.

Local Website Archiver

Now that I’ve been using the Local Website Archiver for quite a while – everything’s so neatly categorized – and packed into just ONE Archive file which I can carry along anywhere. In short the huge knowledge base of websites that I’ve built up can be transported/read easily even off a USB flash/thumb drive.

Capturing pages that you are viewing in your browser is as simple as pressing F9 (or any hotkey that you specify – and the page is immediately captured and added to your archive, in the user selected category).

The software smoothly integrates with Firefox as well as most of the popular browsers. Besides, you can even perform a Google like search on your stored content from the Archiver Software itself. The Lite Version is the freeware one.

Found it a really convenient tool? Be sure to write back.

Line Counter: An indispensible tool for the .NET Developer

If you’re a serious .NET developer and use Visual Studio for coding, you’d definitely feel the need to check your project size from time to time. Not only it helps in tracking the size, in a way it gives you an overall idea about the progress as well.

While I was using VS 2003, there was a very handy add-in named Project Line Counter (PLC) from WndTabs software which did an excellent job of showing you detailed information about the size of the whole project as well reports about individual files. However, it seems like the author of PLC stopped working on it since – and no new version for VS 2005 was ever released. I missed my favourite tool sorely.

On a sudden impulse I went on a hunt all over the CodeProject site where I’d discovered PLC a couple of years back and to my great joy came across a brand new tool calledLineCounter Screenshot Line Counter written by an similarly frustrated coder, who got tired of waiting for a new release of PLC and wrote one himself.

While this add-in is still incomplete in certain aspects, functionality-wise it’s no less than it’s predecessor.

It gives you detailed reports on total number of lines in each file, the actual number of lines containing code and number of commented lines.

The author has been overly generous and gone into an in-depth discussion on writing Visual Studio Add-ins. The article makes a very good read.

Both the source code for the Add-in as well as a pre-compiled installer are available for download at the same page, as also a link to the original PLC is provided.

For your convenience I’m posting the direct-download links here.. but in any case, you’d need a CodeProject account and need to be signed-in to be able to download.

Download:

Hope you find this add-in really useful. I do, for one.

How To: Setup a Local Domain Name Services (DNS) Server for your Intranet

This was another of my journeys into the deep dark dungeons of Linux. This time I managed to set-up a DNS server locally and got it resolving addresses over my intranet.

Experimentation Platform:

Intel P4 3.0Ghz (Intel MotherBoard)
1 GB RAM
2 x 80 GB HDD on RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring) – alloted entirely to Linux

Operating System:

Linux – Redhat Enterprise AS Server v3

Note:

I was trying to setup the system so that later on when my server goes online, I don’t
have to modify much to make my nameservers work with the internet – so I used my registered domain “microsys-asia.info” and an internal IP: “10.19.168.5” – as the server IP. In future when my server goes online, all I’ve to do is modify this IP to reflect the actual ISP alloted IP and all will be good. So throughout the tutorial you’ll find references to this domain and the IP. For your own case, just change to domain to whatever you feel like and choose a suitable IP to go with.

Setting up the DNS can get quite tricky – so you need to follow the tutorial closely and pay attention to all the points discussed here.

Also make sure the following services are up & running – because they’ll be the ones affected most due to the DNS setup.

  1. httpd
  2. ftpd
  3. MTU (Mail Transport Agent) like Postfix, Sendmail etc.

You can see a list of running services using…

shell> service –status-all | less

Right, lets get to business now. Once your system boots, either login as “root” or use any other login and use “sudo” to get root access.

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Desktoptwo: A serious Web OS

Of all the Web OS-es I’ve reviewed, Desktoptwo can be called a serious contender. The whole interface is flash-based giving it a very sleek look with smooth operation – although some applications might take a while to load.

The interface seems like a cross-breed between Vista’s Aero look and Mac OS-X. The application menu is similar to Windows Start Menu. There’s a handy desktop bar that serves as a quick-launch panel for some common applications like MP3 player, Instant Messenger etc. Desktoptwo ScreenshotThe desktop bar also contains a quick-search box for performing searches through popular search engines.

Desktoptwo has the most complete list of applications I’ve seen among the one’s I’ve reviewed – and all fully functional except for a few minor bugs here and there. The annoying part is that many of the applications open up in another pop-up window. This is kind of detrimental to enjoying seamless operation since it beats the whole purpose of their taskbar.

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Registrar Lite: A really Powerful & Free Registry Editor

Registrar Lite is a powerful & immensely flexible registry editor for WinXP/2000/NT/ME/9x that offers a horde of necessary features that are totally lacking in the standard registry editor (RegEdit) packaged with Windows. It’s brought to you by Resplendence Software.

Registrar Lite sports a Windows Explorer like two-pane interface with a handy navigation toolbar. The features include…

  • Background Search and Replace – which, unlike RegEdit doesn’t stop you from browsing the registry while a search is taking place.
  • Clipboard support (which means Cut/Copy/Paste) with drag & drop for registry values and keys.
  • A cool Bookmark Editor which allows you to add custom descriptions to the bookmarked keys. This is really useful in organising all those cool registry hacks you learnt from the net.
  • An Address Bar similar to Explorer which allows you to type in and access any desired key really quick.
  • An advanced registry Key/Value Editor that support all existing registry data types.
  • Registry key Import & Export functionality with support for all native registry file types.
  • Security Editor (only available in Windows XP/2000/NT) thats allow you to set registry key permissions, auditing and ownership.

Registrar Lite Screenshot

The software is really quick-loading and has a pretty small disk footprint of approx. 3.5MB.

It’s a must have for anyone who dabbles in registry tweaking from time to time. It’s FREE. Grab it from the Resplendence Site.

NOTE: Those who do not want to leave the comfort zone of RegEdit and start using a new software, there’s always RegEdit Extensions – which enhances the standard Windows Registry Editor by adding on a subset of the features mentioned above.

Prevent ugly auto-resizing of Firefox browser windows

Ever since I launched this site and started working with WordPress, I’ve been plagued with unmanageable ugly pop-up windows that come up when I try to insert pictures and/or view the raw HTML of a post using the TinyMCE (Rich Text) Editor. Almost invariably the window that would pop-up would be resized to really odd dimensions on their own causing most of the text input fields to be placed out of sight. Forced ugly browser window resizingAs a result, I’d to type the location of the images almost blindly. Really frustrating if you know what I mean.

Here’s a snapshot…

You can figure how difficult it was to fill up the required data for the image. Worst part was these pop-up windows were devoid of any sort of resizing grip/control and hence you couldn’t even drag it and resize it to a desirable dimension.
Second problem I faced was that certain sites I visited would either pop-up similar windows or suddenly caused the Firefox window to resize itself to ridiculous dimensions like 50 x 50 pixels just to display some useless ad. A major nuisance, if you ask me.

Thus, I got down to figuring out a way to stop this. Now, with whatever limited knowledge of JavaScript I have, I knew for sure this was being done with some JS code. It didn’t take me long to find the solution. Browsing around the Firefox support forums helped a lot.

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SEOpen: Yet another terrific SERP Analyser Extension for Firefox

This comes as a third follow-up of my two earlier posts…

David G. Paul informed me about this alternative Firefox extension called SEOpen, which works pretty much like SeoQuake but with a whole lot more features. Both the extensions are meant for help with Search Engine Optimisation by providing you with an in-depth view of your site’s (or any site’s in fact) SERP (Search Engine Result Page).

The major search engines typically display three kinds of listings on their SERPs. Listings that have been indexed by the search engine’s spider, listings that have been indexed into the search engine’s directory by a human, and listings that are paid to be listed by the search engine.

The difference between SEOpen and SeoQuake is the modus operandi. SEOpen provides with a right-click context-menu with which you can view a site’s SERP Parameters for most of the popular search engines. An alternative is to use the toolbar that shows up after installation of SEOpen.

On the other hand, SeoQuake doesn’t install any toolbar – the results are shown as a collapsible floating HTML block embedded inside the site. By default, this block is displayed for all pages. However, you can disable it at any point by clicking on the SeoQuake icon in the status bar.

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