Archive for July, 2007

Taskbar Shuffle – Windows Software

Is it overly geeky to want to rearrange the order of the applications in your Windows taskbar?

I’ve installed Taskbar Shuffle to do this. You simply drag and drop to arrange their ordering.

On my PC at work, I tend to have many windows open at the same time – email, todo list, multiple telnet sessions, multiple browsers, Framemaker, Visio, multiple Explorer windows, etc. Keeping related windows together helps me switch between tasks and work more efficiently.

Taskbar Shuffle also lets you rearrange system tray icons, but I’ve never bothered doing that.

July 18th, 2007

Burning A DVD From A VIDEO_TS Folder On A Mac

I have a damaged DVD that skips badly and is unwatchable when played on a normal DVD player. I ripped it on the Mac (using Mac The Ripper – great program!), and the resulting VIDEO_TS folder seems to play back fine using DVD Player in OS X.

However, I wanted to be able to play it on a normal DVD player again.

One option would be to convert it to an MPG or AVI using something like Handbrake, and then use iDVD to burn a DVD from that. It takes some time to convert and render a DVD, though, and you’d lose some quality.

Then I found this method to turn a VIDEO_TS folder into an ISO image. At the command line, type:

hdiutil makehybrid -udf -udf-volume-name DVDNAME -o DVDNAME.iso /VIDEO_TS/parent/folder

Make sure that final path is the path to the folder where VIDEOTS can be found, not the path to the actual VIDEOTS folder itself.

It takes a little time, but you get an ISO image out. You can then burn this using Disk Utility, and you’ll get a ‘real’ DVD!

19 comments July 17th, 2007

Macs Better Than PCs In An All-Windows Environment?

Some work-from-home solutions involve setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that sends all your internet traffic via your connection to the corporate network. And since big companies like to lock things down, this means you can’t access your private email server, Flickr account, instant messaging app, etc while you’re connected to work.

A better way to do this is for them to use “split tunnelling”, where traffic to youremployer.com goes via the VPN and all other traffic goes via your normal ISP. Not all companies get this, though. These companies are often also the ones that only allow Windows PCs to connect remotely, not Macs or Linux boxes.

Using a Mac running Windows via Parallels is, in a twist of irony, often a better solution than a Windows PC in this kind of situation.

When you connect your Windows virtual machine to the corporate VPN, it is only locking down your Windows environment. Your Mac apps can still reach blocked sites, access your private mail server, access IM, etc.

Using a Mac provides you with the best of both worlds!

Update:

Another nice thing about running Windows in a virtualised environment is that you can easily backup the image by simply copying it to an external USB drive or burning it to a DVD-R. If you screw something up in that environment, you can be back up and running in minutes by simply restoring the image.

Also, you can have one Windows image for working remotely, and a separate one for your normal Windows needs. If your employer wants you to install crazy VPN software, antivirus software, patches/updates, etc, or somehow restricts the versions of software (e.g. they need you to have an old version of Microsoft Office installed), you can do so in just that Windows image. You can install all your other software, games, tweaks, hacks etc in your other image without fear of breaking something work-related.

Neato!

July 16th, 2007


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