Thursday, July 25, 2013


I created a simple random password generator from AutoHotKey. This code produces a nine character password with 3 sets of non-repeating characters. Set one is lower case letters, set two has upper case letters and set three has numbers. Each set is then randomly ordered.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Quick Malware Defense

The HOSTS file on computers is an 'old fashioned' way computers talk to each other. If you're not managing a HOST file for anything and it's left to default, you can use it to provide a cheap, easy way to defend against some malware.

Below is a simple AHK script that grabs a HOSTS file from and places it into your HOSTS file. This is quick and provides some defense.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Essentials to computer troubleshooting

The following is a listing of guidelines practiced computer technicians should employ when diagnosing and ultimately resolving computer problems.

1) Isolate the problem

Customers and clients can report and view a problem different from you.  When someone would say my computer is frozen, it could refer to the cursor, a particular program or a feature that is slow to respond. Also, make sure there really is a problem. Ask questions like this:

What do you want it to do?
What recently changed on your computer?
When was the last time you performed this task?

Ask questions that have very definitive and short answers. By isolating the problem very quickly you waste less of your and your customer's time.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Tech Republic is a site I follow often. Their '10 things' segment is a favorite of mine. A recent one is 10 Things You Have To Know To Be Computer Literate. Lets take a look at what each really means.

1. Search Engines. Knowing search engines is like saying you know about oil changes. Insofar as someone with low car knowledge can know that an oil change needs to take place once every 3000 miles but someone with moderate knowledge can perform the task if pressed.
It takes more than just know how the ol' Googler works to break from the novice category. Check out Google's own school on how to better perform search.

2. Word Processing. If you don't know how mail merge works, then, yes, you need to learn and no you're not good at Word yet.

3. Spreadsheets. The question you should ask yourself is 'am I inventing the wheel for the first time or has this been done before'. Nested IF statements, pivot tables and sparklines may be a bit on the advanced side of spreadsheet literacy, but you should know that these things exist and plug an existing one from the Internet if needed.

4. Browser Basics. From IE to Netscape to Chrome, you need to know clear browser cache and learn how to manage windows and setup favorites for each. This sounds easy but I've seen so many people never save webpages or constantly retype the same searches. This is a time saver.

5. Virus/Malware scanning. Goes hand in hand with search engine and browser knowledge. The Internet used to be a seedy neighborhood that you went to go shopping for cheap stuff and get the latest copy of The Onion from a street corner.
You can still do those things but there's now a strip mall in the neighborhood with a mall cop. The mall cop knows what stores rip you off and what stores have a lot of thefts and what time to leave the mall because a bunch of kids start wandering in. Talk to the mall cop. Be friends with the mall cop.

6. Common keyboard commands. Hotkeys are the secret handshake of computing. If you know them, you're in the club. Knowing them saves time and enhances your skillset. Learning how they work and making your own is also fun, but start with the basics.

7. Basic hardware terminology. When someone tells me their CPU stopped working or that their mouse doesn't move, I cringe. It tells me that they don't know what their talking about and I'll have to ask 3-10 additional questions to get to what the problem actually is. I'm going to include what the POST process is since it's not the OS that's running the show at that point. Please learn what does what on the inside of a computer.

8. Simple network diagnosis. Guess what? The Internet isn't down. It's not. How about now? Nope. But I closed my browser. And my Chat program isn't working. What if I unplug your computer from its RJ45 port? Nope, it's still not down. What if I switch all the circuit breakers off in the building? Guess what, the Internet still isn't down. It just isn't.

9. How to hook it up. How many wires are needed to hook up a standard desktop PC and get it to be part of the Internet? Time's up. The answer is 5. Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor, Ethernet (if not wireless) and the power cord. Now do you know where they all go?

10. Security/privacy 101. I link this with 1, 4 and 5. You know not to buy a Rolex off of the street and not to hand out your car keys to a friend of a friend. You also know that if it's too good to be true it probably is. There is no safe side of the Internet.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Janki - Context

Focusing on adding cards has been difficult this last week. There's so much good data and I'm trying just to add it all in without regard to what's needed. Hence rereading Problem 3:
We Learn Out Of Context

Saturday, January 19, 2013

ClipBinder - AutoHotKey Script

The problem:
 copying multiple segments of text and placing them in a different order in some other program. 

The Clipboard is a favorite and all but invisible, ubiquitous tool for any computer user. Without it, we all might as well be using typewriters. Clipboard however has a limitation in that its hotkeys only store one string of text ( or one picture). Sometimes you, as a computer user, need to do more copying than one element at a time. Sometimes you need to reorder your copied text.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mouse without Borders

Quick note.
Mouse without Borders is finally installed on two systems at home. Bout Time. Now I can work on my Windows 7 laptop as I play on my XP Desktop.If you've got two to four Windows systems side-by-side but hate switching keyboards and mice or don't have a KVM handy. This will do.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

PStart - Tools I Use

Everyday a sys admin's work involves less and less work at someone's actual desk. We're remote connecting using Dameware, VNC or some other tool when helping our clients and customers. And naturally, we grow accustomed to the tools we've acquired over time at our own desks.

Safe, in our comfort zone we've acquired browser favorites. Built up scripts, batch files and snippets. It's hard to imagine that 10 years ago when I got a service call I almost always walked over to some person's desk, cracked my knuckles and got to work. Now, when I help out I usually start by checking The Lazy Admin for basic computer info and start a Dameware session.

Well, sometimes, even in 2013, we as tech have to get up from our comfort zones and help someone at their desk. This is tough, I know.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Janki - Carnegie Hall

Problem 2: We Give Up Too Soon
The saying goes the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is to practice. So to it is with all things worth doing.

The hardest part so far in this process is making the cards each day. Looking for useful cards seems to be a challenge for me. I'm going to change my focus and stop assuming that I know what I'll need to remember and just add cards for every little thing I can. The trick to this process, as I see it, not just 'Google it' at every turn, but rather commit as much to memory as possible.

I see how this helps in the end result of programming in that you're not switching back and forth from the actual coding process and Google searching. Since your focus is constantly shifting you can get more done.

Using the flash cards is pretty easy and kind of fun. I've made the time for review and keep my tablet handy for adding cards. Overall, I see positive benefit in the Janki Method.

I plan on developing a GUI n00bs that will assist in creating hotkeys as a project to coincide with the Janki method experiment. Hopefully, I won't give up too soon.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Remote Desktop - Autohotkey script

As a system administrator I need to access many computers remotely. RDP is a favorite tool for this as it provides all the needed Windows functionality to perform any task. Other tools such as VNC or Teamviewer have technological limitations or corporate restrictions. I created an Autohotkey script for accessing many 'favorite' servers without too much typing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Janki - Forgetting

I ran across a Lifehacker article just as I'm working more and more with coding. The Janki Method is labor intensive but I believe it will wield positive results. I'm going to follow along until March 1st and update my progress regularly. Hopefully, this will help with my madd blogging skillz as well.