Computer System Information

It is useful to have a summary of your computer system information to keep it properly maintained and to troubleshoot problems.

Here is how you can get system summaries for different computer operating systems:

Windows:
There are three options for Windows XP information depending on the level of detail desired.

1. Windows XP System Information
To start Microsoft System Information, use either of the following methods:
• Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Information.
• Click Start, click Run, type msinfo32.exe in the Open box, and then click OK.
The information that is displayed in System Information is divided into the following five categories:
• Hardware Resources
• Components
• Software Environment
• Applications
• Internet Explorer

To save the information in a text file choose File Export and enter a memorable name like the name of the computer with current date.
2. Belarc Advisor (more information)
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

3. Windows System Information (detailed information)
http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download.html
After you download the file you double click on it to open and run it (i.e. it runs automatically when you open it).
Then in the file menu choose CREATE A LOG FILE, pay attention to the name and where the file is being created, and accept the defaults by tapping the enter key. If you downloaded the program to your desktop the log file will be created on your desktop too.

you can then view the log by opening the file in your browser or send the log file as an attachment in an email to someone providing support.
Mac:
In the Applications utilities folder there is a built-in system reporting tool called System Profiler.
This tool provides information on:
– Hardware
– Network
– Operating system
– Extensions
– Applications
It is easy to export the report in xml, rtf, or text.

Ubuntu Linux:
A lot of system information is contained in the proc directory. To summarize it use a tool like phpsysinfo.
Installing phpsysinfo in Ubuntu using the terminal

sudo apt-get install phpsysinfo

After completion of your installation this program automatically located at apache2 default document root directory i.e /var/www/phpsysinfo/ folder

If you want to access this from your web browser type the following (you can use the ifconfig command in the terminal to get your IP address)

http://youripaddress/phpsysinfo/

You should then see a screen with all your workstation details

Backing Up Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird Data

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just backup your My Documents folder and know that all your user data was safe?

Unfortunately some of your valuable data is stored in other places (like C:Documents and Settings[User Name]Application Data) and if you aren’t using a backup program that can easily add it to your backup file list then you have to know which files contain what important data and where they are located so you can back them up.

BTW To make things “easier” some of the folders like Application Data where your information is located aren’t even shown in Windows Explorer unless you make them visible by choosing
TOOLS – FOLDER OPTIONS… – select VIEW tab – scroll down to SHOW HIDDEN FILES and check the box.

In this example the data we will be backing up is the following:
1.0 Firefox Profile
1.1 Firefox bookmarks
1.2 Firefox passwords (web site passwords saved using the Firefox password manager)
2.0 Thunderbird Profile
2.1 Thunderbird addressbook
2.2 Thunderbird mail

To save your data all you have to do is backup the Firefox and Thunderbird profile folders (sections 1.0 and 2.0). The other information is just being specific about where your data is stored so you know what files are important.

1.0 Firefox Profile
Backing up your profile folder in Firefox is easy. Just follow these steps (which assumes you know how to manage files on your computer):

1. Optional: Empty the browser cache, to reduce the amount of data to backup. Within Firefox go to Tools > Options… , select Privacy and click the Clear button next to the Cache item in the list.
2. Shut down Firefox completely (File > Exit).
3. Make a copy of your profile folder to, for example, a CD-RW disc or a separate hard disk for backup purposes.
To backup all the Firefox user information on Windows XP just browse to :
C:Documents and Settings[User Name]Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles
and backup the profile folder which will have a name like xxxxxxxx.default, where xxxxxxxx is a random string of 8 characters.

More information is at http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/profile

1.1 Firefox bookmarks
The Firefox bookmark file is:
bookmarks.html

1.2 Firefox passwords
The Firefox password files are:
key3.db
signons2.txt

2.0 Thunderbird profile
To backup all the Thunderbird user information on Windows XP just browse to :
C:Documents and Settings[username]Application DataThunderbirdProfilesxxxxxxxx.default
and backup the profile folder which will have a name like xxxxxxxx.default, where xxxxxxxx is a random string of 8 characters.

More information is at http://www.mozilla.org/support/thunderbird/profile

2.1 Thunderbird addressbook
Open My Computer and drill down to
C:Documents and SettingsusernameApplication DataThunderbirdProfilesprofilename
(where profilename is the user’s profile, which is a combination of letters and numbers). If there is more than one profile, click View, Details and find the profile with the most recent date). That is the user’s profile.
Locate the abook.mab file (which is the Thunderbird default Personal Address Book) and save it to your backup disk. If you want to backup your preferences and email files you can also backup the whole profile folder (recommended).

BTW: If you are also using Gmail you should go into Thunderbird and use the export to CSV (comma separated value) file which is the format that is used to import this data into Gmail. In addition to making this information available for use within Gmail it also stores it securely on the Google server which is another way of backing up the data. Not a bad idea to backup up this CSV file too as it is a format that can be used to flexibly access your contact data with different programs. How to keep this information up to date / in sync while using both Gmail and Thunderbird is a topic for another day.

4. Thunderbird email
If you backed up your profile folder you have already backed up your email which is saved in an mbox file within the profile folder.

To manually recover your data you can copy your Firefox and Thunderbird profile information back to the same path as it was before you recovered your disk.

Mac Keyboard information

The preface of the Textmate manual has a good Mac keyboard glyph explanation.

You might even want to print out a copy.

Also check out the Apple keyboard tool in the international settings.

A couple of other interesting links how to get more out of your keyboard:

http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/utilities_fonts_macosx.html#charview

http://doocy.net/typography-keylayout/

How to setup an online RSS feed reader

I have been investigating an easy way to check on updates to things like photo collections, your favorite web sites, or blog postings using online tools.
Beats having to go to many sites to check if there is any new content.

For more information on Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and why you would want to bother, check out the videos (scroll down to the Why should I use RSS? for the flash video) and other information. I recommend you view all the videos listed at the first link for a good overview of what RSS is all about.

Web based feed readers include:
– Google reader
– Bloglines
– Newsgator (syncs with Netnewswire on the Mac or FeedDemon for Windows so you can have both desktop and web access to your information)
or you can even extend the use of your email reader such as Thunderbird to also view RSS feeds.

If you sign up to one of the web based readers they provide one place online you can see all your subscription updates at a glance.
For example you could subscribe to my blog feeds so you can easily see whenever new content is added.

To use Google services you need to create a gmail account. I can send you an invitation or you can go to gmail.google.com and register. Once you have a gmail account then go to reader.google.com by typing that into the address bar at the top of your browser. Once you are registered try adding some subscriptions like:
glensharp.com/blog
glensharp.blogspot.com

If you are looking in list view you should see a list of published blog article titles for your reading pleasure.

If you now click an RSS orange feed icon on a web page you should get prompted to add this to your Google reader subscription list. If that doesn’t work then just copy the link and in Google reader do an add subscription and copy the link in.

So you can try Newsgator with all the bells and whistles as explained in the links above or Google reader which might appeal to you especially if you are using their other free applications.

Let me know what works best for you.
Glen

Forcing your Windows XP System to boot in safe mode

Sometimes using the F8 key command on startup won’t work so you have to force your Windows OS to reboot in safe mode.

STEP 1
To start the computer in Safe mode
1
Exit all programs.
2
Click Start > Run.
3
In Run dialog box, type the following text:
msconfig
4
Click OK.
5
In the System Configuration Utility, on the BOOT.INI tab, check /SAFEBOOT.
6
Click OK.
7
When you are asked to restart the computer, click Restart.

The computer restarts in Safe mode. This can take several minutes.

Note After you complete the work in Safe mode, use the System Configuration Utility to start Windows XP in Normal mode. Go to STEP 2.

STEP 2
To start the computer in Normal mode
1
Close all programs.
2
Click Start > Run.
3
In Run dialog box, type the following text:
msconfig
4
Click OK.
5
In the System Configuration Utility, on the BOOT.INI tab, uncheck /SAFEBOOT.
6
Click OK.
7
Close all programs, and restart the computer.