Monday, July 09, 2012

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream (NOT)

Have you ever being in the middle of a presentation and the screen suddenly drops into screen saver mode? Have you ever needed to run an application overnight and come back in the morning to find your computer in sleep mode?

It's happened to all of us or, if it hasn't, then it's only a matter of time before it does. So I had a hunt around for something that would prevent that short of making the machines not sleep or hibernate at all, which would be very power wasteful…

Found this for Windows…

It runs in the system tray, has timer settings if needed and can allow the display to sleep (or not). By timer settings, I mean that you can set the no-sleep period. For example, if you're running a 30 minute presentation, then you could set the no-sleep time to one hour, which gives you a bit of run-over time and automatically enable sleeping again if you forget to turn it back on.

…and this for Mac OS X…

It runs in the menu bar and has timer settings if needed.

All are free, need no installation, are easy to use (click to enable/disable) and can be set to run at startup.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Generating Secure Passwords

Given that we often have a need to generate secure passwords for the likes of web applications, blogs, social sites, etc. I've been using a wee utility called PWGen for Windows.

PWGen is a password generator capable of creating large amounts of cryptographically-secure passwords or passphrases (from word lists).

It's small, doesn't write to the registry or hard disk and you can choose to use either the number of characters and a character set or use a number of words passphrase.

For Mac OS X, you could use the similarly small and unintrusive RPG or Doorman utilities. Both are free and available from the App Store.

Alternatively, there are some useful online password generators...
Also, once you've got your secure password, it's worth checking it with Microsoft's Password Checker.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Malware and Virus Removal Tools

If you're unfortunate enough to get your PC infected with some malware or virus, then there are some useful stand-alone malware removal tools available from reputable software publishers...
NB: Only download a tool when required as they are updated regularly. Also note that some of the tools listed here require to be burned to and started from CD.

There's also a useful, downloadable guide available...
Operation Cleanup: Complete Malware Removal Guide
NB: The author of the above guide, Brian Meyer, keeps it updated on his Select Real Security site where you'll also find some other very useful security-related resources and information.

There's also a good tutorial on cleaning an infected system on Gizmo's Freeware...
How to Clean an Infected Computer

Friday, March 02, 2012

Mounting .ISO Images

​If you've ever downloaded a disk image file in .ISO format, then you'll know that you need a means of mounting these on the system as the OS itself won't do it automatically.


For Windows, I use OSFMount, which supports .ISO and a great many other image file formats such as .IMG, .BIN, .NRG, .SDI, .VMDK and more.

OSFMount also supports formatting, extending, imaging and the creation of RAM disks.

Alternative solutions are Virtual Clonedrive and Daemon Tools Lite, although the latter is only free for non-commercial use.

Mac OS X

For Mac OS X, you can mount .ISO images using Apple's Disk Utility application, which can be found in the /Applications/Utilities folder, as follow...

  1. Open Disk Utility
  2. Select the Open Disk Image... option from the File menu
  3. Locate your disk image and click on the Open button to mount it
You can also mount virtually any kind of disk image from the Terminal by using the hdiutil command. e.g.:

hdiutil mount sample.iso

where sample.iso is the path to the image you want to mount.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

How to Find User Guides and Manuals

If you're looking to download the user guide or manual for an electronic product and it's not available on the manufacturer website, then you might find it on The site hosts PDF manuals of thousands of electronic products including those of items that have either been discontinued or are no longer available for sale.

These resources are primarily hosted on two Amazon servers – and Here’s how you can find the one you're looking for...

Go to Google and type the following query, replacing the word ITEM with actual name or make and model of the thing you're looking for and replacing LANGUAGE with, well you know what I mean.

ITEM LANGUAGE filetype:pdf OR

These Amazon sites also host sample chapters of books in PDF format so you may want to add some extra terms to the search query – like Operation Guide, User Guide, Owner’s Manual, Installation Guide, etc. for better results.

If the above doesn't produce any useful results, then modify the query to search the whole of Google by removing the server names. If that doesn't work, then try removing the filetype dependency.

There are also some user guide sites worth checking out as well...
The older manuals are mostly PDF images scanned from the printed document but since Google supports OCR, these scanned PDFs are also searchable.

Tip: If the PDF is large, then you can just put the file URL in Google Docs Viewer and read the full manual online instead of downloading it.