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Switch off "Advanced Text Services" (ctfmon.exe)

August 10th, 2010

My biggest bugbear is the fact that the Windows Exploder, erm I mean Windows Explorer will hang for what appears to be no reason. The integrated nature of Windows Explorer means that if one hangs then it blocks other Windows Explorers from loading. Pressing the windows key and E to load a new instance of Explorer works but you don’t actually get an Explorer window. They all get loaded in but they can’t open their gui until the current blockage has timed out.

I mean who decided that 30 seconds was a good time out value for a home computer that sits on a local network. No one connects to windows shares over the internet, SMB is just too chatty for that. Even back in the modem days when Windows XP came along no one used to do it.

So as well as 30-second-timeout-man I’d also like to thank block-everything-while-we’re-waiting man.

This blog will join a list of other blogs which I have written to help with Switching off Windows XP “features”.

Right, on with the post. This is another Windows-Explorer-hangs-for-no-reason problem. This one is caused by the Advanced Text Services which is a service that comes with Microsoft Office and provides an alternative user text input processor (TIP) and is responsible for the Microsoft Office language bar. Ctfmon.exe monitors the active windows and provides text input service support for speech recognition, handwriting recognition, keyboard, translation, and other alternative user input technologies. So the majority of people using Microsoft Office will never need to use it.

So here are some simple instructions to switch off “Advanced Text Services” (ctfmon.exe) which causes Windows Explorer to hang (particularly when used with IE7) [Serves you right for not using Firefox!]

  1. Open the Control Panel (in “classic view").
  2. Open Regional and Language Options.
  3. Click the Languages tab.
  4. Click the Details button.
  5. Click the Advanced tab.
  6. Make sure that Turn off advanced text services is checked
  7. Click ok, until all the windows are closed.

AnalogDuck has quite a comprehensive list of ways that Windows Explorer will try to scupper you. For a list with solutions checkout his Explorer Hangs page.

Nokia N900 Microb browser control codes

August 2nd, 2010

Nokia’s N900 comes with a web browser called Microb which is based on the Mozilla code base but was written by Nokia for Maemo to run on smart phones. There weren’t any instructions that came with it so I thought I’d create some here. While the browser is active there are several operations that may be initiated by pressing a combination of the control key and a letter.

I started looking because I really missed control+u that my desktop Firefox supports in order to display the source code of a web page. Control+u didn’t work so I went off looking for its equivalent.

The control+? key press will only register when the address bar is not being displayed. If the address bar is visible the control+? key press will have no effect.

  • a - select all text on the page.
  • b - opens your bookmarks.
  • c - does nothing; doesn’t even open the address bar.
  • d - add current page to your bookmarks or as a shortcut on the desktop.
  • f - find text on page.
  • n - opens a new browser window.
  • r - reload the page.
  • s - save page locally.
  • o - open local file.
  • x - does nothing; doesn’t even open the address bar.
  • z - does nothing; doesn’t even open the address bar.

c,x and z don’t appear to do anything, but they might be doing something in the background that’s not immediately obvious. All other combinations pop up the address bar.

… and I never found the show source shortcut. Does anyone out there who knows how to view the source in MicroB?

Loading VirtualBox snapshots

July 12th, 2010

VirtualBox allows you to take snapshots and restore them. It works some of the time and to be fair this has got a lot better in recent versions. The process for restoring a snapshot is unusually awkward to the point that I’m blogging it so it must be difficult to remember - either that or all those years of excessive fun at university are finally coming back to steal my sanity.

  1. Load VirtualBox application.
  2. Look at the Snapshots(n) tab on the right hand side.
  3. Highlight the snap shot you want.
  4. Click the “Restore Snapshot” icon and click “Restore” to confirm.
  5. A progress bar of “Restoring execution state” will appear then disappear.
  6. The writing on the left hand side under the machine operating system icon will switch to “Saved". On the right hand side the snapshot name will go bold and the “Current State” will move to just under the snapshot you had previously highlighted.
  7. Strangely the snapshot doesn’t appear, now you have to click “Start".
  8. A progress bar of “Restoring virtual machine…” will appear then disappear.

If you are lucky this will work and you will see the snapshot reformed in the state you left it. If you are unlucky there will be a brief flash of what should have been and the virtual machine will reset.

When you have finished don’t bother shutting the machine down just click the “X” to close the Virtual machine and select “Power off machine".

Upgrading Plesk 9.3.0 to 9.5.1 to 9.5.2

July 8th, 2010

There are always problems with upgrading server appliance software because of the amount of different configurations there are. So although this article is limited to Plesk the same would be true of any other appliance upgrade. This article is for any problems I encounter along the way and will become a table of contents to any additional software/blogs I write relating to bugs or shortcomings of the new Plesk 9.5.2 software.

Upgrading from 9.3.0 to 9.5.1

This update includes a Horde update which is about time. I’ve been awaiting for the extra sync’ing support that it has. A part from Plesk upgrades this version upgrade updates: Watchdog, Mailman and SpamAssassin.

  1. I highlighted all the packages I wanted to install and installed them. I went in to the 9.5.1 updates section again and Qmail had not been upgraded. I don’t remember seeing it during the first iteration. I may have missed it, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t. It must have appeared!

Upgrading from 9.5.1 to 9.5.2

This update addresses: Watchdog, Mailman, SpamAssassin, Horde, PHP5 and Qmail.

  1. The spamassassin daemon (spamd) did not start so needed to be started manually:

    /etc/init.d/psa-spamassassin restart

  2. Machine crashed a couple of days later, but I think it was just a coincidence, as it had the same disk errors we have been seeing for a while.
  3. Went into the updates section and the “Base packages of Plesk” was showing that there was a new version available. I know I have installed it already. So I installed it again. It now shows that it is up-to-date.
  4. I had made some changes to the httpd.conf for a particular domain. The upgrade over wrote my changes with a new copy. The new copy was the same as the old copy - thanks!

Let the games begin…!

Policially correct

July 7th, 2010

Just finished watching the first series of Seven Days, and I have to say it was pretty good. The story is based around the chrononaut Frank Parker who is a member of the BackStep team. Project BackStep use technology from the crashed Area 51 space ship to create a ship that can travel back in time up to 7 days. They use the ship to undo catastrophic events.

Funnily enough I’ve just been making my way through ABC of Relativity, and in spite of the time-travel relativity techno-babble things did seem to match up with the actual theory. Mind you after watching that last episode of Doctor Who - The Big Bang this program should present you with no problem at all!

Anyway, I digress. The team is speculating about a virus that has wiped out 98% of the world’s population and Frank has BackStepped to prevent it from happening. Ballard is the scientist, Donovan is the army man and Ramsey is head of security at the BackStep facility. I just liked the way he lists all the attributes that are basically true of 9/11. Maybe it was this comment, three years before, that pushed al-Qaeda over the edge.

Ballard: This may not be a natural occurrence, the data we have indicates this virus could well have been man-made.
Donovan: Who the hell would want to release something that kills everybody?
Ramsey: Arh, some suicidal, middle eastern, camel riding, malcontent, that hates us, look at the kamikazes in WW2.