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Wednesday October 18th 2017

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Check Browser Compatibility Fast and Easy

Now like a lot of businesses now a day rely heavily on websites, and with the explosion of different browsers how can you make sure your site looks as good as it can on as many of them as possible?  Before I would have as many different browsers located on my computer and load up each with a version of my website and check it that way.  Well being that I am not a professional webmaster and most of the sites that I have designed were for personal and for friends, so I didn’t really want to spend all this time testing.  Plus my sites never really never generated revenue for me, they were mostly for informational purposes.
Now when I am in the business world, I’ve come across many instances where the website is everything, so I have done testing to make sure the websites of the businesses that I worked for where as compatible as possible to the most browsers possible.  Well today, I found a site that will drastically help in monitoring the sites appearance over mutipul browsers, that site is:  Browser Shots.
The first thing that I like about the website is that it gives you the option to select which browsers and which versions of the browsers you want to test.  The site isn’t instant as each selection has it’s own time frame for processing your website, as seen below:

See how long your site has before it processes

See how long your site has before it processes

See how long your site has before it processes

As your site starts getting checked, and you refresh you can see a thumbnails of the different browsers like you can see below:

See the sites in the different browsers

See the sites in the different browsers

Even then you can drill down and look at the results of the individual browsers one at a time, in an image bigger than a thumbnail:

A Drill Down view of the site in a browser

A Drill Down view of the site in a browser

While this doesn’t let you click through the site and make sure all features work for all browsers, it does give you a quick overview of the different browsers and make sure your site works with as many as possible.  I chose for my test 54 different browsers to test this site out on, and it took a while, so I suggest you only test the browsers that you know regularly visit you website.  Though if you have the patience like I do, you can always visit the site at a later time by bookmarking the results website and checking back at a later time.  Though honestly this saves me tons of time and it’s now one of my new favorite websites when it comes to web deisgn.

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Slow time of the Year?

In most of the jobs that I have had, this time of the year (November to January) can be the slow months of the year.  With most parts of the year sometime we can end up shelving projects or running checks, but this time of year we can easily get complacent with just relaxing and taking things easy.  Yet this is the time of the year where I find it easy to unshelve those things we been putting off during the year, and making sure things run a little more smoothly in the new year.  Here are my top 5 suggestions:

Audit you Software:
Before the new year gets you bogged down, look though all your licensing information and map out what software you have and when/if you software needs to be renewed/upgraded/shrunk/expanded.  Doing this and added a calendar entry when these licenses need to be dealt with (and give yourself enough time to make the decision) will help keep your software up-to-date and even could help you save some money in the long run.  If like many businesses your workforce has decreased in size, then when you renew you may be able to lower the amount of licenses, saving money in your budget for other important things.

Audit User Accounts/Computers:
Throughout the year, I can tell you sometimes when someone is let go, you just disable their account or change the password and move on. This is the time to go through all user accounts and trim off the excess.  Having a clean and accurate user list can help you do many things in the year, like knowing how many active accounts you have out there.  Also you can grab spare equipment laying around and put it back into your storage, so when new people start, you won’t need to look around for a computer, you’ll know exactly where to go.  Also cleaning up unused accounts and computers is always smart in means of security.

Maintain Equipment:
With many people taking off for the holiday season, now is the perfect time to make sure the machines are updated and cleaned.  We’ve all encountered a trackball mouse that is rendered inoperable because of gunky build-up.  By making sure the computer itself is physically clean, you might be able to extend the life of the system.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I could clean a PC or Server to learn that the fan wasn’t running correctly because of dust build-up.  Also make sure to replace any equipment that looks like it’s fraying or about to go bad, doing this during the slow time, can really help when things pick up and those things break.  Now as I note, don’t spend all day cleaning PCs or Servers to a shine, just enough to ensure there aren’t any problems.

Check Backups/Images:
I’ve found this is the time of the year to also look at your data recovery ability.  I’ve been in companies where we’d backup data nightly and never test if the backups would be viable in an emergency. This is the time to run a test and make sure that in a worst case scenario your data is viable.  Also check through any images that you might have to make sure they are up to date, which can save time in the deployment of newer systems.

Review Inventory:
This is the time of the year (if not earlier) to get an updated status on your inventory.  I always tried to do this closer to the end of the year, because it’s generally when budgets for next year are due or starting to be written.  This will give you and idea of what you have gone through and what you may need for the up and coming year.  Plus I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into a situation and didn’t know if I had the equipment or not.  It’s easier to order within this time frame, than to have to rush for it later.
Now this isn’t the definitive list, and I’m sure others out there have their own to-do lists at the end of the year, but these are what I find helpful to use during this slow period.  If you have any ones that you think should be listed here, please send me an e-mail and if it’s good, I’ll mention it here on my site.

Q&A Monday: .html AutoRun CD

Question:

I have created a small (lets call it a web site) and I want to put it on a CD and have it ‘autorun’?

Answer:

Autorun is a feature of the Windows operating systems. Autorun is feature that detects when a CD is inserted and runs an application based on the Autorun.inf file located on the CD itself.

When a CD is inserted into the CD drive, the operating system checks for the file named Autorun.inf in the root directory of the CD (not in a subfolder). This file contains information that tells the computer to run a file.

For most Autorun Cd’s there is an executable file, that will run the CD Program and usually install what it needs.  To Create an AutoRun.inf file for an executable, you would open notepad and type:

[autorun]
open=Filename.exe
icon=Filename.ico

The icon section automatically reads an Icon File (.ico) and places that on the CD’s My Computer image.  The Filename.exe would be replaced with the executable you wanted to run.  The file would then be saved as Autorun.inf and saved in the top directory of the CD ROM (generally that is the D:\ drive) i.e. D:\Autorun.inf

Now when you want to run a CD where a webpage opens up instead of a program, you need to change the code for the Autorun.inf.  You can’t just replace the .exe file with a .htm or .html file and expect it to run, because it just won’t.  You need to use a different command to make the page run.

[autorun]
icon=Filename.ico
ShellExecute=index.html

This will make sure that when the CD autoruns, that it opens the web site for you.

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If  you have any questions that you want Jim to answer, from business servers to home computers, drop him a line at me@jimguckin.com, and he’ll try to answer your question.  Check back every Monday for a new Question and Answer session, and check back during the week for Jim’s other technical insights.

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Office 2010 Beta Review

    So the otherday I got an e-mail about downloading the new Beta of Office 2010.  Now prior to this year, I would have just delted the e-mail and never looked back on it.  Yet, as of this year I decided to look forward and be more proactive, than reactive and take pride in my work.  Plus I had great success with the Beta and Release Candidate of Windows 7, that I still have on my laptop…and surprisingly I like it.  So I decided to give the Beta of Office 2010 a chance, so I downloaded it.

Outlook 2010:
Now I spend most of my day glued to e-mail, so the first thing I want to check out in the BETA is the new Outlook.  Now at my jobs I generally used Outlook 2007, because I liked the calendar view in your e-mail pane, but was always disappointed when you couldn’t see all day events.  Yet, that has been corrected in the 2010 release, and you now can see all day events.  When I was an manger, it was important for me to see what was going on, and the fraction of a second that I was saved by not clicking on the calendar icon was well worth it.

msoffice2010outlook-thumb

As you can see above, this is the new Office 2010 Outlook.  As you can see the “Ribbon” is Microsoft’s new way of naigating around the new Office 2010 suite since it’s now in every office application.  At work I decided to upgrade my current Office 2007 Outlook with the Beta version, and ran into a problem.  When outlook 2010 booted up for the first time, I got an Outlook File Corrupt error.  I tried using the built in repair tool, but that didn’t help, in the end I needed to delete my outlook profile and recreate my e-mail addresses for Outlook to start up the first time.  The first thing that I noticed was the Big Round Microsoft Logo in the top corner had changed to a smaller square, which instead of a drop down window, now changed to a page.

Other Office:

word splash_thumb

One new thing most people will notice is that all the Office applications now have loading screens, that like the Windows Boot screen moves when it loads.  I haven’t really noticed if this slows down the process of loading documents, so I don’t think it does.  All the applications tend to have the same feel, and the same look to them.  I guess making the interface easier to navigate, you really only need to know where to look for settings in one, to know where the settings are in all of them.

What’s Missing:
Apparently in the new Office 2010, there will be a web based version for all the applications, making it easy for you to access and save documents via a web browser rather than an application.  I assume there will be some security settings one would need to put in place before using this remotely.

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