Friday, September 07, 2012

A Little Bit All Over the Place

I’ve run into a few IT-related challenges over the past two weeks.

Fortunately, I’ve not only been able to overcome them, but walked away with a number of amazing software finds in the process.

Those posts are currently pending due to the awesomeness (to me) of getting things organized for public consumption as my mental and lab process notes leave much to be desired.

So since my brain is mush right now here are some appetizers to hold you over.

Last month, Microsoft released a number of updates to their Windows Essentials bundle. The public focus were a host of changes touted in the Photo Gallery and Movie Maker components.  However, they were sneaky and made an update to the Live Writer application.  What updates? Your guess is as good as mine as asking for provision of a “change log” is likely to bring a beating.

LEHSYS’s Larry Henry seems to like WLW and be just as frustrated as me lately.

One thing I have noticed with this new release is that I can make it “fake-crash” very easily while composing.

Untitled - Windows Live Writer_2012-09-07_18-13-21

What do I do?  Simply make the mistake of hitting the delete key too many times and sucking an existing  hyperlink into the delete vortex. Bam! Crash window.

Only it’s a fake-crash. The first time I encountered it I freaked as I had composed a long post and was in fear of loosing my material--well up the the last save point. However I soon learned that it didn’t matter if I clicked the red “X” or “Close program” button, WLW would keep on trucking. No loss occurred and despite the warning, Windows did not attempt to close Windows Live Writer.

I didn’t have this issue before the “upgrade”.  I wish I could somehow roll back to the previous version. Anyone figure out how to “off-line install” older versions of Windows Essentials/Windows Live Writer?

GSD Sidebar:

I did finally find links to the full “off-line” installer for the Windows Essential packages!

What I find interesting is that the “wlsetup-all.exe” from the MS site is 131 MB in size and is served from but the one linked in Scott’s original post near the bottom is 134 MB and served from

So these are different “off-line” WL setup binaries.  In fact, if you look at the path, you can see a “pattern”. On a whim I tried and got a good download as well.

Googling that URL template, I found this very helpful post Windows Live Downloads « The Field Guide which details these indicate which “wave” release it was.

  • Wave5 = Microsoft Essentials 2012
  • Wave4 = Windows Live Essentials 2011
  • Wave3 = Windows Live Essentials 2009

I’ll play with these and likely roll-back to the Wave4 WLW version to see how things go.

(The text in the fake blog post above came from the awesome Samuel L Ipsum site. It is one of a number of fantastic alternative Lorem Ipsum generators listed in this post: 30 Alternatives to Lorem Ipsum found by Splashnology. Zombie Ipsum has to be a close second.)

I’ve been taking a lot more digital photos lately since getting a Canon S95. This has led to a new issue which is managing my growing photo library. It is a super joy to shoot with and handles low-light/no-flash captures wonderfully. I haven’t scratched the surface of it’s capabilities but the small format really lends itself to being kept on my person for random shots (examples of photos I took with the S95 around town below no post-process done).



This will probably multiply now that my dear brother has lent me use of his “old” EOS 5D and a super cool set of lenses and Speedlight. I’m a bit overwhelmed with it all. We are planning some nature stalking as we have found we feed off each other when photo-walking together.

He uses Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 which is very high end. Then again he does some amazing photography work and has amassed a tremendous digital library over the years. He is also a Photoshop wiz so it works for him quite well. Dad is making the transition from a old-school 35-mm SLR format guy to the new DSLR world. As such, he is focusing on the transition and uses ACDsee.

I’ve got a pretty large collection of photo editing and management apps I have been using for some time (that’s another post to list them all!). Primarily I use FastStone Image Viewer which has borne the brunt of my digital image management and basic manipulation work. It’s great but I think I need something a bit more beefy.

I do have Adobe Bridge, although it is a CS4 version. I may just need to learn it. Got a few books on it already in my home library. It is really fast on my system and fairly intuitive. XnView works well and I am learning it also. Of course, I do have Microsoft Essentials Photo Gallery. It is a fairly nice interface and has some nice features, but it doesn’t seem as “serious” as Adobe Bridge or other tools for some reason to me.

Before FastStone’s tool, I had used ImageWalker which was cool as it contained a amazing collection of photo-effects to apply. I eventually turned to PhotoFiltre for that task.

So it was with excitement I stumbled on the updated ImageWalker replacement Diffractor. It is super slick and has just enough editing tools to be handy to use.  I love the interface and while the menu/navigation system takes a while to get used to, once learned it is really fun to use. It even includes a timeline generator view! Definitely recommended for use!

Picasa from Google is pretty neat. It is very fast and operates smoothly. I didn’t feel like installing it (yet) and found (like many Google products) the installation exe could be extracted with 7-Zip. I’m going to spend some time with this application as well.

I quickly found a super-neat photo workflow application called darktable. The problem was that while I could install it pretty easily into my Ubuntu 12.04 build, all my photos were in my Windows OS and while I use Ubuntu and can work in it comfortably, this wasn’t quite how I wanted to do things smoothly. Alas, there is no Windows build (yet?). See this Noupe post Darktable: The free Alternative to Photoshop Lightroom goes Mac OS X for more info.

I found the Open Source photo management application digiKam. Supported platforms include Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OSX and Windows. The screenshots and features look very promising. It does seen to be a bit “crash-y” on my Win7 x64 system…so the search goes on.

Other Canon stuff I probably shouldn’t mess with just yet but am tempted to:

  • - Home - software to modify the camera controls and features for Canon EOS cameras
  • CHDK - Canon Hack Development Kit to add additional controls and features to select PowerShot cameras

Moving on to another topic, I had recently was banging my fist on a USB flash drive that was presenting some issues. In the process of troubleshooting, I found a few of my favorite USB tools had been updated fairly recently.

  • Dev Eject - v. 1.0.24 - lists removable media, allows ejection of devices, and shows files that are open and preventing ejection.
  • HotSwap! - v. - Helps with USB device removal..and a whole lot more!
  • USB Disk Ejector - v. - Helps with USB device removal in a pleasant GUI/system tray.

Some cool Windows Tweaking utilities I found this past week are:

  • Librarian - a powerful libraries manager for Windows 7 and Windows 8.
  • Taskbar Pinner - a universal pinner software for your taskbar. Pin a file, a folder, a shell object, or a library to your Windows task bar.

There are a whole lot more tweaking tools for Win7/Win8 over at WinAero. Check out their downloads/software page for more.

I still use Jumplist-Launcher over at Hedgehog's Blog as well. It hasn’t been updated for a long time but still does a great job. Between the jumplist I made with this tool and Winstep Nexus Dock everything I need is pretty much in quick access reach on my Win 7 systems.

Finally, I’m playing with Baralga to get use to trying to better document and track the time I spend working on various projects. It’s a Java-based app so it is quite portable and flexible. I checked out a long list of time-tracking apps and this seemed to fit my needs the closest.


Claus V.

1 comment:

Laronski said...

Thanks for the mention… I really appreciate it…