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Windows Automation / Macros with ALT+TAB (it’s a problem, apparently)

In hopes of keeping my inevitable carpal tunnel at bay, I set out in search of a way to automate some of my tasks. Being, unfortunately for this purpose, not on a mac with access to the famous Automator program, I had to find something similar.

All I wanted was to click a few buttons, hit record and be done. So I found just any old automation program, downloaded it and thought I was done.

NOPE.. automation programs in Windows HATE using ALT+TAB .. they freeze up! (The way that worked for me to get out of the freeze is to hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE, and that will stop most automation programs from recording).

Since my desired macro (which is quite fun to do manually, btw) looked like this:

Ctrl+C, Alt+Tab, Ctrl+V, Alt+Tab, Tab, Ctrl+C, Alt+Tab, Tab, Ctrl+V, Tab, Alt+Tab, Tab, Repeat

I had to find another way….

As soon as I let go of the idea that finding and integrating an automation solution was going to be a 2 minute job, I opened my mind up a little to the idea of writing a script, and found AutoHotKey.

AutoHotKey is fairly simple to use once you get over the script-jitters. Here are what I found to be the most helpful pages on the site:

Quick Start Tutorial | Send Keys & Clicks |

And specifically, all I needed to know was the following information:

  • Make a new script by creating a new text document with an extension of .ahk
  • Designate a hotkey (how to write the key names are on this page) by typing it first in the document, and follow it by 2 colons.
  • To have more than one command executed by a hotkey, put the first line beneath the hotkey definition and make the last line a return (just type return on the last line).
  • Typing an exclamation point means the Alt key (while putting an exclamation point in brackets, like so {!} means an actual, literal, exclamation point) and ^ means the Ctrl key.
  • Save the file, and double-click on your .ahk file to load it into an instance of AutoHotKey (you can have multiple instances running for multiple scripts).
  • If you edit your .ahk file, you have to reload it. To do so, find AutoHotKey in your windows taskbar, right-click and choose Reload This Script from the menu that pops up.

They have tons of options, but for a simple macro like mine here’s what I did.

I started out by writing out my script as instructed on the site.

#space::
Send ^c
Send !{tab}
Send ^v
Send !{tab}
Send {tab}
Send ^c
Send !{tab}
Send {tab}
Send ^v
Send {tab}
Send !{tab}
Send {tab}
return

However, that does not work. And here’s why…

AutoHotKey is awesome in that it will do those keystrokes so instantaneously that you can press your hot key, be done, and not even realize that it actually happened. While Alt+Tabbing, Windows brings up its gui for switching programs, and although it can disappear fast, it’s still there while AutoHotKey is pressing these keys for you like a little cyber madman. To counter this, we have to input some delays, like so:

#space::
Send ^c
Sleep 500
Send !{tab}
Sleep 500
Send ^v
Sleep 500
Send !{tab}
Sleep 800
Send {tab}
Send ^c
Send !{tab}
Sleep 800
Send {tab}
Send ^v
Sleep 200
Send {tab}
Sleep 500
Send !{tab}
Sleep 500
Send {tab}
return

And that’s it. ALL done. I ended up padding it with a lot delays through trial and error.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Windows 7

 

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Use your iPhone as a Wi-Fi Microphone (and what to do if ipconfig isn’t working)

If you’re like me, and you use a laptop that sits away from you on a desk, &/or don’t have or want a real microphone etc; You can use your iPhone or iPad (pretty sure) as a wireless mic – and the quality is pretty damn decent, albeit a fraction of a second delayed – but if you use headphones for things like skype, you won’t have any problems. I tried several “wi-fi microphones” in the app store, and this is the only one I could get to work at a usable level..

Search the iTunes app store for AirMic (or click right there), and download the companion app for your computer by clicking here.

On Mac, piece of cake.
On Windows, you’ll need to find your IP address to enter into the AirMic iPhone app…
To do that, click on the start button (that little circle with the windows logo inside it, at the bottom left corner of the screen) then it will allow you to immediately type something into the search box.. type: “cmd” without the quotations.
That will bring up the command prompt, a black & white boring looking little program.
now type: ipconfig /all and hit enter (that’s: ipconfig(space)/all ) – This will give you some network statistics about your computer. If you don’t see your ipv4 address in there (something resembling: 192.168.0.123), then type: ipconfig and hit enter – this will give you a shorter list of results.
Now, if typing ipconfig doesn’t work; (if it returns something like: “ipconfig is not a recognized command bla bla”) you will have to type in the path, or if you’re a more advanced user, you can create an environment variable.
Type in this without the quotation marks: “cd C:\windows\system32”
that will change the path, where the command prompt is effectively “looking”.
Now you can type “ipconfig” without the quotation marks, hit enter, and get your results.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in iPhone, Skype, Windows 7

 

Can’t change custom theme of homepage in WordPress 3.1.2

If you have custom page templates in your WordPress theme & can’t seem to make the homepage change by applying them – all you have to do is add (or edit) a file called “front-page.php” – it will overide any other pages for the home page. This is possibly HOURS of frustration – so hopefully those that need this can find it!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Wordpress

 

Can’t eject hard drive (Windows 7)

If you can’t figure out why your external device won’t disconnect safely, here’s a quick way to find all the processes that are using it:

Download Process Explorer and go to find > Find Handle or DLL (CTRL + F) – type in your drive letter and hit search. You may get a ton of results (every process that contains that letter…) but all you have to do is sort the results by clicking on the “Handle or DLL” column,  and scroll down to the drive letter. You can then click on the process, and it will be automatically selected in the main Process Explorer window (where you can then right click it and select “Close Handle”).

Personally, none of my processes would close, but I was successful in safely ejecting the device anyways after trying.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2011 in Windows 7

 

Tap Tap Revenge 4 Premium Tracks

Thanks to “TehRandomGuy” for keeping up his work on the TTR tracks

Here are his posts:

Premium Tracks: http://cydevice.net/Thread-Tap-Tap-Revenge-Premium-Tracks

Free Weekly Tracks that aren’t available anymore (go to this page on your idevice): http://cydevice.net/Thread-Tapulous-iDevice-Links

Thanks random guy, we all appreciate it.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2010 in iPhone

 

Online Backup Solutions

I used to own a home NAS server (network area storage – basically a couple hard drives that you can access over your wireless network), and after it failed I looked into getting a better one – Be prepared to spend at least a grand if you want something good. Since I couldn’t justify spending that much, or even the time to research, build & maintain one – I looked into online backups for the first time.

DropBox

DropBox is great for sharing files between colleagues, clients & friends etc; But their pricing & limited amount of storage prevented me from choosing them as a final solution. Instead I use the free version as a way to quickly share files. One of the best things about it is that it tells you, in a fairly unobtrusive way, when it’s downloading new files that someone else has added to a shared folder – may only save a minute of sending emails, but I appreciate it.

Asus Web Storage

Takes forever, and didn’t seem to be backing up much – it was pretty frustrating. This is a work in progress, not a finished product.

Mozy

I tried this one, and didn’t like it. My experience with their support was the standard language barrier affair (dell anyone?)- outsourced support. It looks like it has improved since I’ve tried it  – they seem to have a few more features now. If you use Mozy now, I’d like to hear how you like it and their support system.

Backblaze

Allows you to throttle your upload speed if desired, and you can opt for them to send you a physical drive overnight ($189) if you have too much data (too much is defined hypothetically here by how fast your internet is, it’s not defined by Backblaze) to re-download. They also offer versioning of files – meaning you can recover up to four versions of a file that you’ve saved over (a potential life saver for me). This is the one I stuck with – It’s fast, unobtrusive (I have almost 400GB of data and their app is only taking up 7.4MB of ram), excellent price, unlimited storage, and the company itself is one I don’t mind getting behind either. They are pretty transparent about their business dealings – you don’t see that too often. They explain exactly where their data center is and how it’s protected, blog about possible mergers etc; etc; all in all they provide more peace of mind for me on top of being a great service. The only problem I’ve run into is that my external drive (which gets unplugged by me often) sometimes needs to be coerced back into Backblaze’s watch list. I contacted backblaze about it, and they haven’t heard of that – nor can I find anything online about it – so I’m fairly certain this is an issue with my computer. And – their support? They speak perfect English – it’s not outsourced. They also answered me on twitter pretty fast. A fairly new development to point out is that they now support individual files up to 9GB (the old limit was 4GB)

CrashPlan

I tried crashplan, and it wasn’t working well – it was a year or more ago when I tried it, so that may have changed by now. But if you try it out, and it works well for you, from what I hear from friends their support is as good or better than Backblaze’s.

Tried one of these or other methods? Let me know your thoughts on what the best online backup solution is.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2010 in Recommendations

 

Hulu Plus on PS3 Problems

Submitted this video to try and get the word out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBxjf44Sm8g

(A demonstration of the skipping, pausing and replaying of advertisements with the hulu plus app for the PS3 (downloaded late November 2010). Every ad does this. My internet is running at 19Mbps – I ran speed tests before and after taking this video, and tried running SD – this isn’t a bandwidth issue. Nobody is touching the controller during this. It’s just a buggy app. In addition, the content also skips forward randomly by 10-30 seconds, it never resumes a video without skipping or playing fast, and is all around pretty unusable.)

Here is another guy’s example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNch2Km1uYI

If you are having these issues with the hulu plus app on PS3 too, please, head over to hulu discussions and let them know.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in PS3

 
 
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