Ian McShane Rotating Header Image

Software

Skitch

Taking screenshots on XP was always a bit of a pain in the ass. ALT+PrtSc, paste into MS Paint (I don’t get Photoshop at work and I never really got to grips with GiMP), crop, resize, save as jpg (unless XP had gone up the spout in which case it was a bmp), email to QA/Dev or add to the defect tracking system… <yawn>

A good few months ago, I read about a startup called Skitch. At the time I was a 99% XP user and they haven’t got a Windows version just yet.

I installed this to my Macbook a couple of days ago, it’s fricken ace. Not only is it quick and easy to grab screens, you can overlay text or other simple graphics (arrows, boxs etc..), export to pretty much any filetype and even upload to your own space hosted on their site. It’s brilliantly productive, infinitely better than anything i’ve used before.

Here’s a video that explains it all in less than 3 mins. I don’t know if the beta is public yet but my account says I have some invites if anyone wants to give it a test drive.

[tags]Skitch, OS X, Productivity, Switch To Mac[/tags]

Remote Mac access, without VNC

As previously mentioned, I use a Mac Mini as a nice little media box for music and HD related goodness.
I’ve always struggled with remote managing it and ended up buying the wireless ‘Mighty’ mouse and keyboard combo so that I didn’t have to sit 2 ft from the TV if I needed to, for example, retag something in iTunes.
VNC always seems to be hit and miss.  I’ve tried RealVNC and TightVNC, both have their flaws and are too keen to drop the connection.  Even when i’m on the couch, 5ft away.

I’ve not even been able to set-up VNC for proper remote access, despite opening the firewall (both the HW firewall and the OS X firewall set to “allow all * to *”) and router to everything.  Looking at the firewall in real time I can see the packets being sent from the external interface through to the Mac IP internally but they never seemed to reach the Mini.  On the other hand, MSRDP has never failed me before coming through the same set up.
Then, don’t get me started on the enforced corporate VPN policy that effectively means I have to re-IP my network just to access device in my house when the VPN is active..

Anyway.  I’ve used the LogMeIn service to access Windows machines previously.  Last week (or maybe the week before) I saw a post somewhere (I thought i’d starred it in GReader but I can’t find it now) that mentioned a Beta version of the same technology for OS X.   BRILLIANT! 🙂

LogMeIn Free version for Mac (Preview)

As with most OS X apps, installation was SO easy;  Download, install, done.
It did a little auto-update once the install was finished (no reboot) and was ready to go.  No configuration needed other than specifying your LogMeIn username/password credentials.

I fired up a browser on my XP lappy (again, on the couch.  5ft away) and logged in.
After clicking the Remote Access button, it took about 20 secs to flash up a nice rendition of my OS X desktop in an IE browser window.
Security wise, it runs over HTTPS in the same manner as the PC versions.  LMI make quite a big deal about it being secure and easy.

The performance here is excellent.  By the looks of it, the connection is direct from my IE client window (There are a couple of ActiveX controls displayed through the add-ins menu in IE7) to the Mini, very much in the style of Webex.  Typing into finder via the LMI window sufferes only a marginally noticable delay.

Whether or not they’ve leveraged the Open Source angle of VNC to code their own flavour, I don’t know.  What I do know is that it is great, right down to the little details.
For example, using RealVNC or similar clients, a right click of a mouse on my XP machine whilst in a VNC session would bring up the Widgets layer – which over VNC, was slow as hell to render IN and then slow as hell to render OUT.
With LMI, a right click does EXACTLY what i’d expect it to, it brings up the context menu for the target.  Whilst bringing up the Widgets layer (when I want, using F12 🙂 ) in LMI it isn’t exactly lightening quick and smooth, it renders up in a 4 part mosaic, clockwise motion but it is infinitely quicker and better.

The better test will be tomorrow at work when I can give it a proper trial over the internet.  Hopefully it will be a bit quicker and easier to just FTP something from home to work via the UI than via SSH.

At the moment, for my needs at home it is a perfect replacement for VNC.

Ultimate Everything

My last post mentioned that I had managed to use Noobz‘ latest downgrader and my copy of GTA:LCS to get from the OR 2.8 version of the PSP firmware back down to the Homebrew friendly 1.50.

Whilst trying to find something useful and interesting to do with my new old-skool style PSP I stumbled across the OE (Open Edition) custom versions of the OR firmware, released by a chap with the moniker Dark Alex.
I’m now running his 3.10OE-a release which enables a number of cool things i’ve found and a number of cool things I *think* it can do :D.

The actual upgrade process was simple, the hardest part was getting the right information and the right versions of the s/w. A lot of forum jumping and post trawling was involved, unfortunately most of the good information was buried amongst, people I assume are under the age of 15, writing “cud u pls hlp me make my PSP play copied games cuz i dont no how” – damn that kind of writing really is one of my biggest hates.. (Not to say that I am a Shakespearean literary genius.)

Disclaimer – If you brick your PSP it’s not my fault, just enjoying having the best paper-weight in your office.

Firstly, I couldn’t run the upgrade until my battery was fully charged – Even though it was connected to the PSU. Annoying.

*Stops*

Ok, I found the info that I was about to type up online already. This would have been helpful yesterday!!

After downgrading to 1.50, follow the guide below.
NB. I didn’t know about the motherboard limitation whereby later versions of PSP are hardcoded not to accept firmware lower than 2.0.. There is a link to a downgrader for this issue too but I did not need it.. (I have one of the earliest Jap import models :D)

http://www.gamerspress.com/index.php?title=3.10_OE-A_Install_Guide

I wonder if it’s possible to run *nix on a PSP yet….

Halfway up the down

Following this item on BBC news, I decided to go ahead and attempt this homebrew stuff.

Every since I got my PSP, i’ve always kept the firmware up to date – for no other reason than I like having the latest and greatest. I don’t know why.

So, after following the instructions HERE I’m back down from 3.x firmware to a 1.5.

Now just need to work out what to do with it!!

Rolling back from Outlook 12 (2007 beta release 2)

I had installed the Office 2007 beta 2 release to a server today, testing out functionality with the product I work on which requires Outlook for MAPI connectivity to MS Exchange. When the time came to rollback, I used the correct uninstall method (Add/Remove Programs) and rebooted before reapplying Outlook 2003.

Now, when opening an existing Outlook profile the app terminates when trying to access the profile settings (you get the lovely ‘do you want to restart in safe mode’ and ‘would you like to detect/repair’ loop going.
Trying to create a new Mail profile (either from the Outlook dialogue or from the Mail applet) resulted in this error:

There was an error locating one of the items needed to complete this operation. It might have been deleted.

Kind of makes sense I guess, the profiles were created in OL12 which was removed but the question is, how the hell do I get out of that loop?

Looking through the registry, the uninstall hadn’t removed the 12.0 keys from

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0

..so I got shot of them, still no dice.

The last thing I checked was Mapisvc.inf – both versions in system32 and %program files%\Common Files\MSMAPI\1033 were identical and hadn’t been modified since i’d installed OL12. Bingo. Once I deleted both of them, the next start of Outlook recreated the files and everything is swimming now.

Lets hope MS remember to clean up a little better in the RC and Gold versions 😀