Archive for July, 2009

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Filter files into silo folders

31/07/2009

Recently a number of my friends have hard hard drive failures and have asked me to retrieve data from their hard drives.  I’ve been reasonably successful in each case recovering well over 95% of the data in each case – thanks not to me but the proliferation of free data recovery tools out there on the Internet.

The last one I’ve been working on however has had a particularly mangled folder structure such that a large number of the recovered files haven’t been able to be assigned the correct file name and folder.  The recovery software has auto generated file names and placed them in a single folder … all 245,528 of them.  As you might expect Windows isn’t all that happy with that many files in a single folder when you want to interact with them.

Windows Explorer is incredibly slow to interact with this amount of content and even using SnowBird the speed of access was prohibitive.  I had a need to somehow rearrange the files into some other structure and since the naming is random, the folder structure does not need to be particularly meaningful – just practical to sort through.  Given there was no (free) software up to the job and being the consummate IT support chap I am  I decided to script my way around the problem.

I wrote a VB Script to process the folder of files and to “silo” the files off into groups within other folders.  A couple of constants at the top of the script tell it which folder to process and how many files to put into each folder.  The script then calculates how many folders to create and starts to process them.  I’ve used my generic progress window to show what file is being moved and how far through the process the script is.

The script doesn’t contain anything particularly nifty that hasn’t already been covered in one of my previous VB Script posts, so rather than displaying the source code here I’ve just provided it as a download:

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A Ceiling Function for VB Script

31/07/2009

This post has now been migrated to ThoughtAsylum.com.

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.

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Command Line Utility to Create Test Files

31/07/2009
Using the utility on the command line

Using the utility on the command line

In the past I’ve used FSUTIL to create large test files of data to process.  Unfortunately you need administrator permissions to use this utility.  I decided to write a command line utility (called “Make Test File” but abbreviated to MTF.EXE) to allow non-administrators to do the same.  It’s written in VB.NET so it isn’t as quick as FSUTIL, but as they say “it does the job”, and it fulfilled my immediate needs.

It takes two parameters – the size of the file (in bytes) and the file path to write the file to.  To see an example of how to use it and the output click on the thumbnail image on the right.  The resulting file just contains zeros.

If there’s any demand I may look into additional features such as being able to specify what the file is filled with or creation of multiple files using some sort of incremental naming convention.

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VB Script – Count occurrences in a text string

30/07/2009

This post has now been migrated to ThoughtAsylum.com.

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Controlling Spotify

29/07/2009

This post has now been migrated to ThoughtAsylum.com.

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Don’t log on as admin just yet

23/07/2009

On Windows XP you may find that you need to carry out some tasks as an administrator for which you would logon as  an administrator (local or network/domain).  If the user is already logged on then you can choose to run as administrator for many activities by selecting run as from a file’s context menu.  However not every type of file has this option.

My preferred method to get around this is to run a file management application as an administrator and then any file action from within that is run as an administrator.  The RUNAS executable is accessible from the command line and along with the right selection of parameters should make this quite easy to do.  Unfortunately a restriction around instances (and the fact that the Windows Desktop is an instance of EXPLORER.EXE) means that EXPLORER.EXE can’t be run as – at least not without changing some settings in Windows.

The alternative is to use the fact that Internet Explorer is a standard component and has a synonymity with explorer.  So to quickly access the C drive in explorer (via Internet Explorer) I suggest popping the following line into a shortcut and deploying it to every machine or at least a quickly accessible folder on your network (with a short name you can then quickly type into a Run dialog).

runas /user:administrator "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe c:"

This assumes your admin account is called “administrator” (add an ‘@yourdomain’ after this for domain admin access on the appropriate domain) and Internet Explorer is installed under program files in a folder called Internet Explorer.  You could similarly make this a .BAT file rather than a shortcut file (.LNK),  but I think the shortcut is a slightly neater looking option.

When run a command prompt window will be opened and ask for the password.  Type this in and press enter/return to have Windows open your nice admin file management session.  Just remember to close the window when you’ve finished … you don’t want to leave end users with admin access.

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Tweet from a dumb phone

22/07/2009
Buzby - British Telecom's old mascot

Buzby - British Telecom's old mascot ... the original Tweeter

There are lots of Twitter clients out there for smart phones, but you can also tweet from a ‘dumb’ phone.  The trick is to use a service like TwitSay or TwitterFone.  Once you register, these services give you a local telephone number to call.  You can then record a short voice message.

  • If you use TwitSay, then your message will be held as an audio recording on TwitSay and a URL will be posted to your Twitter feed.
  • If you use TwitterFone then a transcription takes place and the resulting text is posted to your Twitter feed.  TwitterFone also allows you a few additional options such as being able to listen to your Twitter feed being read to you and then being able to post responses and direct messages through the same audio transcription system.

It’s an interesting alternative interface to Twitter and one with several benefits in terms of accessibility – both in a disability sense and an availability of technology sense.  Even with a smart phone you could take advantage of these services if for example you have voice dialling enabled … not that I’d recommend tweeting whilst driving.

Interestingly both services refer only to mobile phones.  I do wonder if a land line would work too.  I can’t see any reason that it wouldn’t unless you have caller ID sending off or the services are actively blocking them.  You would however need to be able to receive a text message to the land line for activation validation purposes.  however many operators offer an SMS to audio service so even that shouldn’t really be an issue for most people.

Now I want to know when I can have a transcription take place on my phone without using a service so that I can just dictate a tweet (or an SMS) and not even have to pay for the local call – just make use of the data plan instead.