Fix iTunes 10.1.2 Stuck Install/Uninstall Hanging Near Completion

/* Posted February 12th, 2011 at 2:19pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

I attempted to update to the latest iTunes 10.1.2 today only to wait for hours on an install that was stuck just 3.5 bars from 100% completion. At first I thought I could remedy this with an uninstall, but I experienced the exact same issue! Imagine my frustration, I could neither install nor uninstall iTunes.

I went to Apple’s KB support site and read that they recommended clearing the Temp folder in Local Settings. That didn’t help. They also recommended an uninstall, which in my case would never finish. I would be forced to turn off the computer just to clear whatever uninstall program was still running in the background when I tried to reinstall iTunes again.

Eventually I found a program called ByeTunes which was a little old but I tried it anyways because I was getting frustrated at that point, and I would have given my kingdom for a horse. It actually did successfully uninstall iTunes but it left me with the same problem of installing iTunes up to near completion and then stalling forever 3.5 bars away from 100%.

I tried installing in safe mode, but Windows simply wouldn’t have it, displaying a The system administrator has set policies to prevent this installation error which lead me down a whole other path I do not really want to get into.

Finally, I decided I would do the next best thing, and disable all startup items in normal Windows mode and see if that would help. This included all the usual crap that usually shows up in your taskbar icons on the lower right. In the end it turned out it was the McAfee VirusScan Enterprise program that was preventing the iTunes 10.1.2 install from finishing. After a refresh restart and a disabling of the McAfee on-access scan mode, I was able to successfully install iTunes the newest version. The setup will notify you that a prior install did not complete and ask you if you would like to roll back any modifications. Just accept this to proceed.

Just a word of advice in case you hit this problem, you may want to disable your anti-virus program before installing the latest iTunes, perhaps there is some shady virus-like code in there (thanks Apple!) that is tripping those anti-virus filters.

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How to Get the Latest PeerGuardian Blocklists for P2P

/* Posted February 10th, 2011 at 2:19pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

You’ve probably noticed that your PeerGuardian IP blocker program for P2P hasn’t successfully updated in a long time. This is very bad as IPs fluctuate continuously and those who want to track you with your hand in the cookie jar are using new IPs all the time. The only way to keep yourself safe is to make sure you are getting the latest blocklists to feed to PeerGuardian.

The best lists for P2P traffic can be found at blocklistpro.com. For most users, the nipfilter.dat.gz should suffice, as it is the normal blocklist. However if you are super paranoid, you can get an even more comprehensive list loaded with more IPs if you download the other list pipfilter.dat.gz in which the first “p” stands for paranoid.

Once you’ve downloaded and extracted them you can manually import the list to PeerGuardian since it no longer updates. It’s a bit of work but at least you trade it for peace of mind.

On the other hand, you could also try Blocklist Manager which can download, update, and build the latest IP blocklist for you if you fancy that.

Me? I’ve moved on from PeerGuardian to manually updating lists to PeerBlock, the new PeerGuardian replacement. It does everything PeerGuardian used to do, including automatically updating the latest P2P blocklist on every startup. It’s based on the same source code so it maintains the exact same interface and usability.

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Recursively Search and Replace Strings in Linux with Perl

/* Posted February 8th, 2011 at 2:18pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

Previously, I covered a dead simple one-line Perl command to perform a string search and replace over multiple files on the Linux command prompt. While it did its job for me that day, today I had to do the same thing but this time recursively over all subdirectories.

For review, the Perl command to do a search and replace on a string is this:

perl -pi -e 's/search/replace/g;' *.txt

To get this to work over multiple files, we are going to rely on the grep command to perform a search for the string to replace and pipe back each file that contains the string in lieu of *.txt in the command above.

This is how it’s done:

perl -pi -e 's/search/replace/g;' `grep -ril search *`

The “search” string is the text you wish to replace and the “replace” string is what you want to replace the old text with.

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How to Send Ctrl-Alt-Delete over Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

/* Posted February 6th, 2011 at 2:18pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

I absolutely love the ability to remotely connect to any Windows computer through the built in Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) application. It gives you full graphical capability and even allows you to remotely connect a computer to your local disk drives and printers. Though you won’t be able to watch a movie, it works fine for just about everything else.

However, when it isn’t behaving and you want to send a Ctrl-Alt-Delete command, you may notice that this key combination simply triggers the same command on your own local machine, and not on the remote desktop that you are connected to. That’s simply the way it’s designed, the worst thing to lose is Ctrl-Alt-Delete control over your own desktop versus the one you are connected to.

Don’t worry though, it’s simply a matter of shifting your finger one key to the right of the Delete. Try the Ctrl-Alt-End combination and you should get the Windows lock screen which you can then use to enter the Task Manager.

In short, you want to send this but it won’t work through a Windows RDP connection:

Ctrl-Alt-Delete

So use this instead:

Ctrl-Alt-End

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Simple Javascript Frame Breaker Code for Google Images et al

/* Posted February 4th, 2011 at 2:18pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

For certain reasons, you may want to protect your website from being framed by another website. This is important if you are concerned that another website could take credit for your work like Google Images does in its image search.

Any image traffic you get from Google does not actually have to surf to your website, instead users can conveniently grab your images straight from the image preview pop up in Google Images search. They have to actually close the picture to view your website in its entirety.

It’s time to take control back. You may be missing out on that web traffic. If this is unacceptable for your needs, then adding a simple Javascript frame breaker code to your website can prevent this from happening.

Add this code somewhere in between your head tags in your website’s HTML code:

script type="text/javascript"
!--
if (parent.frames.length  0) {parent.location.href = location.href;}
--
/script

What this small piece of code does is check if there is a parent frame, meaning your website has been put in a frame by another website. If it has, you simply change the parent frame’s URL to your websites URL. It’s that easy.

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Reduce Eye Strain by Adapting Monitor to Time of Day

/* Posted January 27th, 2011 at 1:34pm [Comments: 1]    */
/* Filed under General    */

reduce eye strain with flux

Nowadays, we’re all tied to our computers whether it be during the work day or at night when we come home or even on the weekends. If you have been suffering from eye strain from staring at your monitor too long, there is a nifty little program that will dynamically adapt your monitor colors to match the lighting condition of your environment and time of day.

Called F.lux, what it allows you to do is simply set your location so it can figure out your daytime-nighttime schedule, and your lighting condition, and that’s it. During the day when your main light source is probably natural sunlight, F.lux will make your monitor bright to mimic the sun. During the night, when you switch over to either halogen or fluorescent lighting, it will similarly adjust the coloring to match your surroundings.

This helps reduce the eye strain that you may be accustomed to especially late at night when all you’ve got is a desk lamp and a monitor blasting you at full power. It’s a set and forget program, you simply need to configure it once and it does everything else for you dynamically. F.lux is a definite must have if you use the computer for extended hours like me, your eyes will thank you.

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Easy Linux Command for Text Replace over Multiple Files

/* Posted January 25th, 2011 at 1:33pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

On Windows, there are a host of nice free editors like Notepad++ to do a search and replace over multiple files quite easily, and that’s exactly how I do it. However, with a powerful command line console at your disposal in Linux, doing the same is as easy as executing a single statement.

Now I don’t normally use Perl all that much, but this is truly a real handy-dandy command that doesn’t rely on a complicated sed/awk function that you always have to dig up the documentation and usage syntax for before writing a statement. While sed/awk may be great for complex replacements, I find that this Linux text replace command works for most of my needs.

perl -pi -e 's/search/replace/g;' *.txt

It loops over multiple files and does an in-place edit so you won’t be left with multiple copies.

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How to Enable iTunes Crossfade Transitions

/* Posted January 23rd, 2011 at 1:32pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

I’ve been using iTunes ever since the iPod Mini, remember those? It’s been a number of years and I only recently discovered how to enable the crossfade transition effect in iTunes that I was accustomed to in Winamp (wow I have not said that word in a long time)! I’m not sure if I just overlooked it or perhaps it was a new feature that only came out in the recent versions of iTunes, but nevertheless it’s good to not hear the silence between songs. It makes me feel like I’ve got a personal DJ playing exactly the tunes I like.

Enabling iTunes crossfading is very simple. In the menu bar click Edit, then Preferences. From there navigate to the second tab Playback and you’ll get this:

itunes crossfade enable

Check the “Crossfade Songs” box and you’re set! You can tweak the number of seconds the crossfading will overlap between songs, but I left it at the default value and it’s worked out great. While you’re at it, you may also want to check the “Sound Check” option. What this does is normalize the volume on all your MP3 tracks so they all play at the same sound level. This is good if you’ve got tracks from different sources and encodings. Some may be really quiet while others may be too loud. Sound Check will help make the difference less noticeable. One big warning before you check that box though: iTunes will have to sift through your entire library to enable this feature so plan on leaving your computer on for a couple hours depending on how large your library is. My 40GB collection took one whole night.

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Convert WordPress Pages to Posts and Back

/* Posted January 21st, 2011 at 1:32pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

Today I swapped themes on a WordPress installation and it decided to display all my pages in the navigation bar. Rather than find another theme, I simply decided to recreate them as posts. After a simple permalink change, I started to create. copy, paste, and delete manually each page to post.

After about the third page, I decided there had to be a better way, so I fired up myphpadmin to see what I could do. After fumbling around and getting it exactly right, I was able to even more quickly “manually” convert each page to a post by modifying the database directly. The problem was, I had a ton of pages to convert and each one required me to set the permalink (guid) correctly which was unique to each post. This meant no broad sweeping SQL statement was going to cut it. It would have to be one by one.

After a bit of digging I found a wonderful WordPress plugin called pTypeConverter to do exactly that: convert my pages to posts with the click of a button. Simply install the plugin, activate, visit the settings page, select the pages you want to convert, then click a button and it’s done. It is also capable of converting posts to pages as well.

One minor issue is it displays EVERYTHING, which means even images and attachments as these are technically child “posts” in the WordPress backend. I suppose the plugin could be improved but since this is probably going to be a one time thing for most people, it’s not really an issue.

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Star Wars A-Wing with Exclusive Pilot Figure

/* Posted January 19th, 2011 at 1:32pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under General    */

star wars awing cockpit

Just unearthed this from an old hard drive this morning and just about made my day. I can still smell the new toy scent from the day I opened that baby. Sadly, it’s sitting in my closet right now. However, these A-Wing pictures should give it the recognition it deserves. The unique thing about this A-Wing toy was the exclusive A-Wing pilot action figure. He fit right into the cockpit perfectly. The A-Wing itself was designed to go against the TIE Interceptor, both relying on speed to make quick strikes. The drawback were low shields compared to the X-Wing fight and Y-Ying bombers.

At least this is what the old PC game classic X-Wing told me before I flew the missions.

awing back viewawing top viewawing side view

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