Subscribe to

I wrote a while ago about how to change network settings from command line, which is something I’ve used on a desktop machine with Windows 7. Recently, while traveling more with my notebook, had to always change my network settings to automatic settings on public networks, from my manual settings at home. I need my manual settings at home because I use a /28 network, mac and IP authentication and need to use just the wireless n router to connect to the internal network but use the Internet connection from the other router. Manually changing my wireless adapter settings is not something difficult, but an application to automate this can save a lot of time. I could have used my old scripts, but I thought there must be something better.

I’ve seen that some notebooks come with a Wireless manager application pre-installed, but I don’t remember having one, nor I found one at Dell. But I’ve found NetSetMan,  a freeware application for home use, which is just the application I needed: I can build network profiles on different adapters (both wired and wireless) by using a different IP or mask or gateway or dns and quickly switch between these profiles with just one click on a systray icon. This solves my problem when, returning home my wife did not have Internet access cause everything is set to automatic from my previous session: switching to the right profile is a breeze.

While searching for this kind of application, I’ve also tested TCP Profiles Manager which claims to work on Windows 7 but it did not work for me: no change was applied when switching profiles.

I have two internet connections at home, mainly because I’m an Internet addict and any minute without Internet generates lots of frustration and secondly because I cannot afford to have any problems while connecting to the office network.

Now, one of my providers had some problems lately and I guess that’s just because of the rough winter which does not seem to end. I am using this provider as the main link on the desktop computer, directly plugged in, the other one being used for the wireless network (iPhone, notebook, fridge etc). Since the connection is getting bad from time to time, I need to switch from one network adapter to another that has just lan connectivity but it is connected to the wireless router. This means I just need to add the router IP address as the gateway and DNS on the secondary adapter. Doing this with clicks on the adapter settings takes time and when you have to train other people that use the same computer to do this it gets rough.

So I made this two batch scripts that add or remove the DNS/gateway IPs from the secondary adapter, so whenever I need to switch from one adapter to another I click on the corresponding bat files.

To get Internet connectivity on the secondary adapter:

netsh interface ip set address name=”your_network_adapter_name” source=static mask=255.255.255.yyy gateway=10.0.0.zzz
netsh int ipv4 set dnsservers “your_network_adapter_name” static 10.0.0.zzz primary

(where 10.0.0.zzz is the wireless router IP address)

To remove Internet connectivity on the secondary adapter:

netsh interface ip set address name=”your_network_adapter_name” source=static mask=255.255.255.yyy
netsh int ipv4 delete dnsservers “your_network_adapter_name” 10.0.0.zzz

These two scripts must be run with elevated privileges in Windows 7 (right click on the script -> Run as Administrator). As this might not be the most elegant way to switch the Internet connection and might need improvement to completely disable the first adapter, it works for me as it is.

Yesterday I installed Office 2010 beta on my laptop and started using Outlook right away. Some new features caught my attention:

– the way to install it through Click-to-Run streaming technology, that is you just download 2 MB and start using it right away, the programs will get downloaded in background but you’re able to use most of the interface functionality
– the “quick steps” section in Outlook where various multi-step actions can be added and customized (like moving the email to a specified folder)
– a better way to organize conversations (Seamonkey has it for years now)

But when I tried to make a phone call on my iPhone, I noticed a lot of strange contacts (like hundreds of them) that I didn’t had before in my address book (I sync my phone Contacts list with the office Exchange server). All of them organized in a folder Suggested Contacts. I linked this event with the Office installation and there it was: a nice folder with various contacts Outlook extracted from all my emails. But since I don’t receive one or two emails per day, but thousands, I just needed to disable the collection or at least the syncronization of this folder with the iPhone. I don’t know a way not to sync a certain address book folder, but I found out how to disable collecting such data:

Access the File tab and then the Options on the left …

… then the Contacts group and uncheck the “Automatically create Outlook contacts for recipients that do not belong to an Outlook Address Book”. After that, just delete all the harvested contacts in the Suggested Contacts folder and your iPhone will automatically update with just the contacts you’ve added.

IE8: New features, same old bugs

Time passed since the first release of Internet Explorer and version by version new features were added. While I’m writing this article, the latest version is 8.0 but still, after all these years, Microsoft did not manage to find the right way to parse an URL and extract the file name. Ordinary bugs keep showing in each version and you must find ways to make your application work in all “major” browsers. Here’s a very annoying one that keeps popping up from time to time.

The task is simple: you just need to make a link to an exe file with some parameters. The parameters are required, otherwise the download would not work.

Here is a link:

I’m just trying to pass the parameter param with the value black to the .exe link. The result (click on the above link in your already installed Internet Explorer browser):


Magically, the extension is gone. Why is that? Because there’s no such extension as .exe?param=black. This is invalid, right? Or Microsoft thinks that.

Let’s try another one, with just a slight change:

The result is breathtaking :-), I’m able to download the file with a different extension than the one served by the server:


Is this a bird? Is this a plane? No, it’s the newly improved Internet Explorer 8. Now with tabs and new security holes. No more comments.

Gift certificates are good when you want to give discounts to your products. It’s a nice way to give presents around Xmas or other holidays. You can call this concept Gift certificate or Discount card or Discount coupon or whatever you want, but the idea behind it is that someone buys one certificate and gives it to someone else to get a partial or total discount for one or more of your software products. It is a great way to let the end user of the product choose and not spend the money on a gift nobody will use. The concept works not only in classic retail with real cards but also in software sales, where the products are usually delivered electronically.

The process to set up such a system with Avangate is quite easy:

1. build your discount coupons list (or Avangate can generate one list for you)
2. add your Gift Certificate product, with the price you want it
3. add a Static Electronic Delivery List and add to this list the discount coupons from step 1. Add the Gift Certificate product to this list, to enable code delivery when buying this product
4. generate a link to your product and you’re ready to add it to your website
5. add a Promotion and set it up to have multiple discount coupons. Add to the promotion coupon list the coupons from step 1 above. Don’t forget to add your regular products to this list.
6. you’re done

At this stage, everyone who’s buying the Gift Certificate product will receive the discount coupon by email. The discount coupon can be used by anyone else to get a discount for the list of products you’ve specified in Step 5.

Is that easy. Of course, this is just a base scenario that works. From here we can start playing with various things like email customization, combination of the Buy as a Gift option with the Gift Certificate buying etc. Any sugestions are welcomed any time.

It’s a fact that the movies shot by Canon cameras do not play on most DVD with DivX capabilities due to codec incompatibility. This is of course a problem. Another problem is that the shot movies are hardly encoded so the size is quite big for the number of minutes. Here is my guide to convert these videos to XviD videos.

AVIcodec shows the information below:

– video: MJPG = Motion JPEG
– audio: PCM, mono

For conversion I’m using the tools below. I am listing also my version since some problems may occur with a different configuration (for instance I was using lame ACM mp3 codec version 3.98 alpha 11 and I was receiving some debugging information when trying to change/encode the audio)

VirtualDUB 1.7.0
Xvid video codec
lame ACM MP3 codec

Open your file to transcode in VirtualDUB. Make sure Video -> Full Processing Mode is selected then go to Video -> Compression and select XviD MPEG-4 Codec. If you click on Configure you can select the encoding quality. Here are my settings:

The go to Audio and make sure Full Processing Mode is selected. Go to Audio -> Conversion and change from 8 bit to 16 bit in the Precision box. Then go to Audio -> Compression and select whatever quality you’d like for audio. Here are my settings:

You’re almost done. Now go to File -> Save as AVI and save your final file. You’ll just have to wait for the encoding to happen, but in the end the final file size will be less than 10x the original file.

I’m using a lot of free software tools to accomplish various tasks at home and I do not always remember what I used last time. This is why I have decided to write it down here, to use it later for reference.

I had a simple task: to join several mpeg 2 files that were taken by a video camera into a single one and add my own mp3 file as audio for the final file. I had 43 files from our team building 2 weeks ago that needed to be compiled in a nice old style mute movie.

In AVIcodec the files looked like this (video is MPEG2 SVCD/DVD, audio doesn’t matter because I’m not using it):

I tried several applications but some of them just crashed (I’m using Vista), some of them recompiled the frames, making a different quality, others just didn’t work. The one that worked for me flowlessly is called Avidemux.

What I like at this application:

- it worked for me (didn’t crashed like others)
– merges the mpeg files, but also you can add your own custom mp3 sound
– has a auto configuration option that configures your output video and audio based on the loaded files

After a 2 weeks vacation with access to company email either from my laptop or via my iPhone in a browser (webmail), I have decided to make the step of upgrading my 1.1.3 iPhone to 2.0 and test the Exchange connector, cause I’m done with all the refresh in the browser. After almost half an hour searching and reading different posts regarding the upgrade, I have decided to go with this tutorial, partially because it contained step by step instructions for idiots/dummies and also because in one of the comments there was this guy who said that even if there are a lot of steps, there is only one important step, that is putting the iPhone on DFU mode (Device Firmware Update – recovery mode, step 14). There are a few tutorials out there about this, but the way it worked for me doesn’t have anything to do with counting seconds:

Step 1. Connect iphone to USB then listen to the sound when it connects.
Step 2. Hold the home and power buttons until hear the disconnect sound then release power button.
Step 3. Wait until you hear the disconnect sound then release home button.

Ok, so I have finalized upgrading to 2.0. First problems amazed me: all my old applications disappeared (and I had lots of applications), there were only the default ones :( … So, if you’re upgrading, you might want to consider backing up your information (if you have something to back up). I had my Lockbox application full with encoded strings, and now it’s gone.

The good news: Exchange works. Also, Apple decided to get rid of the word “EDGE” and use “Cellular Data Network”. I don’t know why they don’t just name it “GPRS” (because it’s GPRS or EDGE).

Other good news: there is an Application Store built in, so you can install applications directly from Apple. Bad news: you need an account in iTunes Store, and to make an account you need a credit card. After searching and searching the web, I have found the way to create an account without the credit card info: using an iTunes Gift Card. There are websites that are giving away such Gift Cards for free, so you even get some free music with it. See this tutorial to get the idea on how to redeem your gift card:

Bad news for me: I haven’t found a proper RSS reader. I was using SmartRSS, but now this one doesn’t seem to be available for 2.0 (can’t find it). I have tried several others, but they’re all dumb applications, without any usefull features to read properly a RSS.

Good news: Twinkle is available in the iTunes Store (I was wondering why I don’t have any updates on my 1.x version, while TwinkleKing is talking about so many releases.

Good news: my calendar and contacts are not in sync with my Outlook Address Book, without the need to connect to my computer periodically. As long as I have an Internet connection on the iPhone, everything is in sync.

There are other bad things about the new version and also good things. But the worse is losing everything I had in the first place. It’s like losing your hard drive. But anyway, with the next Exchange connector, iPhone can now be used in business mode, and I like that!

I have been using my iPhone for quite a while now and got used to it. I didn’t had any big issues with it so far. I even got used to do some particular things on the way back home from work, while sitting and waiting in traffic. What can you do with your iPhone while waiting to move your car meter by meter?

Here are five important things you can do in your car, besides regular phone calls, ipod, music and videos:

1. You can read your RSS feeds. I’m using SmartRSS, but you can find several other rss readers out there. Nice graphics, well implemented into iPhone look and feel, works great. Too bad not all rss items have a longer description so you can read most of it while in your reader, without the need to view the full html page.

2. You can check your twitter messages. What are you doing? I’m stuck in traffic! It’s a good moment to express your feelings about this, blame someone and send recommendations about the streets you should avoid. I’m using twinkle, a twitter client for iPhone that has two special things: location (you can actually see who’s twitting near you) and pictures (you can take a picture with your camera and attach it to your twit). The location is a nice feature if you’re not following that many people and the picture works great if you want to express more than 140 characters (1000 words perhaps?)

3. You can check your email! If you have a yahoo or gmail account and using it actively, you’re all set. Even if you have a regular pop3 or imap account, that’s the way to read your email in the car. If you’re using MS Exchange, then tough luck, you’re stuck with yahoo and your day by day spam messages. The built-in email client seems to work ok, too bad it loads images by default when you’re viewing the full message.

4. You can chat in your regular instant messenger network. The ONLY truly client I have found is Fring, an instant messenger integrator with everything in it: yahoo, msn, icq, skype. It can even act as a sip phone or can connect to twitter. I’ve been using Fring on my Windows Mobile PDA, so I quite knew the application. It looks different on the iPhone, its development is in alpha stage but hey, compared with the web browser clients I’ve seen so far, it rocks! Like I said, I haven’t found a real application for iPhone that integrates at least three of the networks above. They’re all web applications, specially designed for the phone, but that’s it.

5. You can browse the Internet using Safari. That’s the last thing on my list and also on my car “can-do” list. With its gprs connection, you have to wait infinitely for a page to load. But do you have anything else to do while waiting and waiting in your car? I guess not, so browse away!

That’s about it. These are the things I’ve discovered you can do each day in your car. Of course, there are other tasks you can do from time to time, like updating your software or playing a game or testing new applications, but you can’t do all these things on a day by day basis. All the things above require an Internet connection, so your monthly bill might go up. It’s already up with the fuel price reaching new limits and you being stuck with the engine running, polluting the planet and not-wanting to use the subway! Get a bike and use just your ipod!

Social networking 2008,,,,,, … all these websites seem to be quite trendy. You hear about them each day, people are using these websites as a way to communicate, to get in contact, to share thoughts. All of these, plus blogging is just a part of what is generically called web 2.0. But is this something real? Is everybody going nuts? Is everybody trying to communicate in other ways than the regular email and instant messaging ? Why should I use twitter to tell everyone what am I doing? Do I have the time to do this? Why should you use I mean, do you even understand something when you go to this website frontpage? What is it all about? Just a bunch of links and a way to comment on some news. Websites like hi5 or or even requests your yahoo username and password so they can automatically connect with your friends (read it like this: spam your friends). Isn’t this a security risk? What if someone breaks into their servers and gains access to so much login information?

Anyway, I personally think that all these new web services are for the people who either have too much free time and no actual “first life” or for someone who wants to reach those people and try to sell them something! It will be a very sad world when everyone will be online, directly connected to everything! Will you still notice that it’s spring again, that the trees are green and the flowers are blooming? Unfortunately we are turning into these online connected machines, with no real personality but with a full virtual life.

Starting today you can follow me on twitter:

Next »