The Lightsnake.

I just got myself a cool new toy for my guitar that lets me record my music directly to my computer. This new toy is called the Lightsnake and is a 10-foot cable that plugs into your USB port. No drivers are needed, so you’re set to start rocking in no time. Talk about plug and play.
As you play, the cable’s built-in lights flash a cool green color to let you know that the cable is transmitting data normally.
The Lightsnake sets itself up as a USB audio device, so you’ll need to go to your sound recording program’s settings to use it as your input source. It works really well with Cool Edit 2000, which is what I use to record my music.

Giving back to nature.

On my patio I have a bird feeder which I keep filled with bird seed. I also have some squirrel food that I pour into the oversized flower pot that serves as the base for the bird feeder.
Hanging on my fence is a squirrel feeder, which is nothing more than a small platform with a long metal screw that holds an ear of dried corn.
Finally, I have a bird bath that’s filled with water which I keep near the bird feeder.
Needless to say, I have customers that frequent my patio. Blue jays, mourning doves, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, squirrels and even ducks visit my patio for a bite. In the evening, I see mice eating the seed, which is fine with me as long as they don’t come in my house.
As Florida’s population explodes and development continues at a frenzied pace, we’re really taking away from the animals that also live in this area. How good it feels to give a little back.

HTA scripting.

While I was at the Hey, Scripting Guy! site, I discovered a script format I never knew existed, one called an HTML Application. These applications are written in plain old HTML and are then saved as an HTA file. Afterwards you can double-click on the HTA file and it runs in an instant. No more waiting for the web browser to load and definitely no security restrictions.
This really holds a new world of possibilities. You can make a simple HTA script that has links to your favorite sites, or maybe a simple document with graphics. If you know HTML, you can make an HTA script.
This is an area of scripting I just need to explore. I think it’s going to come in real handy at work. Microsoft’s web site has a section devoted to helping you create HTA’s using the same friendly and funny approach as the Hey, Scripting Guy! columns.

Hey, Scripting Guy!

Hidden deep within Microsoft’s web site is a very entertaining and fun section devoted to help the confused and befuddled master the art of writing VBS scripts. You can do some pretty cool stuff with scripts, such as making your own error message windows and even make your computer talk.
One feature I really like is the Hey, Scripting Guy! column in which the Scripting Guys themselves answer user-submitted questions on how to create various scripts. The column is written using a very friendly, easy-to-understand format that’s spiced with plenty of humor. You can pick up some pretty useful scripts along the way.
What a fun way to learn how to create your own scripts, and there’s plenty of help available for beginning and experienced scripters alike.

The identification of computer events.

One of my duties at work is running the Event Viewer program on the server and reviewing the entries recorded by the various programs running on the server. My job is to seek out the error messages and review them to make sure they don’t indicate any pending doom for the server. Usually the most serious error message I get is the tape backup program skipping some files because they were open.
But I do get some other error messages that I’ve never seen before. These error messages are labeled with an Event ID number. EventID is the perfect site to seeing what exactly what these error messages mean and how to fix them. This is one web site the boss doesn’t mind me visiting.

Life’s lessons learned the hard way.

Why is it that some lessons have to be learned the hard way? At work today I was working at the server when I noticed Windows Update had downloaded the next batch of updates. It was prompting me to install these updates, so I did.
Next I got a window telling me the server needed to be restarted for the updates to take effect. I had an option to either restart the server now or later, so I kept clicking the option to restart later. This same window kept popping up every 10 minutes, and I kept clicking the option to postpone the reboot.
This pattern of postponing the reboot pretty much went on all day until later in the afternoon when the server suddenly started shutting down. Wait a minute. I didn’t even see that pop-up window. No matter, everyone in the office lost their connection to the server.
What I think happened was that I hit the ENTER key at the precise split second that dang window came up to ask me whether I wanted to reboot now or later.
But the fun was just beginning. I had CHKDSK set to run when the server rebooted to fix some errors with the disk that couldn’t be fixed while Windows was running. CHKDSK took about 2 hours to run, and by the time the server finally came back up, it was time for everyone to go home. I had robbed the office of two hours of work. I certainly didn’t feel good about that.
I guess the lesson to be learned here is for me not to install the updates until the late afternoon when everyone goes home. Then I can reboot and not worry about draining the office’s productivity.


In my years of hunting for useful programs, I’ve made sure the programs I find are freeware, but there are several that are shareware and are worth every penny.
One such program is Diskeeper, which is one of the programs we use on the servers at work. It’s an automated defragmenter utility that takes care of the tedious task of defragmenting the files on your disk so they can be accessed faster. Because Diskeeper runs as a background service to keep your disk defragmented, you have one less thing to worry about to keep your computer running in top form.
I loved this program so much that I bought it for my computer at home. It should be on your computer as well.

Radio stations I like.

Here’s a brief listing of radio stations in my area I frequently listen to. These stations also stream online so you can hear them no matter where you are.

  • The Gater 98.7FM – My favorite station, which plays enough classic rock to keep you rocking all day. They also carry The Bob and Tom Show, which I think is the funniest morning show on the air.
  • Real Radio 94.3FM – FM talk radio with an attitude, and the home of the Love Doctors.
  • Kool 105.5FM – Playing hits from the 60’s and the 70’s.

There are other stations I listen to but these are the ones I tune in the most. I still think there’s good stuff on the radio, and these stations are living proof.


TabPlayer is an amazing freeware program that actually plays guitar tab files and shows you the notes using an onscreen fretboard. It also has a tab file editor, a chord dictionary and the ability to search for tab files of your favorite songs online.

Activating Windows XP without calling Microsoft.

A friend of mine was having a problem with a computer he recently bought at a garage sale. It came with Windows XP already loaded but when he turned on the computer he was getting messages about the product key being invalid and Windows not being genuine.
So began a long, difficult process to try resolving this problem. I went to Microsoft’s web site to download a tool to try fixing the product key, which didn’t work.
Then I downloaded a freeware gem called Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder which revealed the product key as recorded in Windows. I tried using that information to resolve the problem, but alas, that failed too.
The next day I used my friend’s installation CD to re-install Windows, but once everything was back up and running, I was back to the same problem with activating Windows. Once again the product key was invalid.
This stinks. This whole activation process feels like getting Microsoft’s permission to use Windows. Oh please, Microsoft, can I use your software which I already shelled out my hard-earned bucks for? If you do, I’ll build a shrine to Bill Gates in my office and pray he will survive the attack of the flying cream pies which are now headed to his office in Richmond.
I tried doing some research online to see if there’s a way to fool Windows into thinking it’s been activated but haven’t really found anything. It must be that big a secret. I would think it’s something simple, like perhaps a small configuration file being downloaded to Windows or maybe something changed in the registry.