Two Windows 7 Tips

Throughout the course of the day today, I came across the need to perform two tasks on Windows 7 that were not exactly straight-forward. Actually, I needed to undo two things I had done earlier.

Undo AutoPlay

This morning, I started ripping some CDs and accidentally indicated that I wanted Windows to use Zune to rip audio CDs every time I insert one in my computer. Of course, that’s not really what I want Windows to do each time I put a CD in my computer, so I had to figure out how to stop it from doing so.

To change your autoplay settings, simply open the Control Panel and search for “AutoPlay.” You can then open the AutoPlay settings and adjust any settings you need to.

Libraries

Earlier this week, I got tired of constantly browsing through multiple folder levels to get to a specific directory I use fairly regularly. To avoid having to browse to it all the time, I decided to add the directory to my “Documents” library (which can be done by simply right-clicking on the directory and choosing “Include in Library” from the context menu).

However, when I did so, I didn’t realize that it would actually include all of the folders and files inside of that directory in my Documents library, rather than including the directory (in other words, I thought I would open the Documents library and see the folder I had just added, allowing me then to navigate inside. Instead, as I said, it simply added all of the inner folders and files, causing my Documents library to get cluttered.

So, I decided that I needed to remove the folder from my Documents library and then go back and add its parent directory to my Documents library. Removing a folder from a library, however, is not quite as intuitive as adding one.

To remove a folder from a library, you need to right-click on the root of the library itself and then choose “Properties.” Within the properties dialog, you will see the list of folders included in that library. You can then select the folder you want to remove and then click the “Remove” button to exclude it from your library.

Both tasks are extremely simple once you realize where you’re supposed to look.

Find Files By Modification Date

Quite often, I find myself in a situation where I need to figure out which files on my Web server were modified recently. For instance, when I make updates to the development version of my Web site and decide I’m ready to copy those changes over to the production site, I need to find out for sure which files I modified.

This is actually a very simple process when using a *nix-based Web server, assuming you have secure shell (SSH) access. Obviously, these instructions apply to any *nix-based operating system (I’m assuming they also work on Mac, but have not tested), not just Web servers.

To do so, we’ll use the “find” shell command. Find is a pretty powerful and universal search command for Linux/Unix.

Google Hosted Apps and Sending Mail From a Web Server

Recently, I discovered that while hosting your e-mail services on Google has its advantages, it also brings with it some minor inconveniences. When you use a script on most Web servers to send e-mail messages, if your e-mail is not hosted locally on that server, your e-mail messages will never arrive in your inbox. Instead, the mail gets delivered to an e-mail account on your Web server if there is one; if there isn’t, the message gets rejected and goes into a black hole.

Batch Rename Files in *nix

Every once in a while, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to rename a whole batch of files on your Web server. In my case, I find this especially useful when someone provides me with a folder full of friendly-named files (files that contain spaces, special characters, etc.) and I want to make them a little more Web-friendly. On Linux and Unix-based computers, it’s really simple to do this from the command line. To do so, simply use a command similar to the following:

Do Your Page Titles Make Sense?

Confusing NavigationI was listening to episode #194 of the BoagWorld podcast the other day. Part of the podcast included an interview with Gerry McGovern on the concept of focusing on user tasks. One of the main points made in the interview was that you need to focus on major tasks that your visitors want to accomplish when visiting your Web site and hide or even remove the extremely minor tasks. Following is an excerpt from the transcript of that interview:

everything affects everything else and people think if I add a piece of content, if I add a web page, if I you know… It’s just another page… its not… it’s going to do something positive and it’s not going to do anything negative

You at least added one link and you added one more search result that comes true and each one of those links and each one of those search results is like another sign post that can send somebody in the wrong direction.

…everything you do has three impacts. It impacts the navigation, it impacts the search, and it impacts the manageability of the website, but also that small task and small content has every bit of chance to impact the efficiency of a top task

This got me thinking. In large institutions, it’s often difficult to effectively preach the importance of reorganizing the site structure to eliminate or downplay the minor tasks, but there is something you can do to at least help your visitors a little bit.

Extracting Images from a Word 2007 Document

If your office is anything like mine, you get a lot of Web site content sent to you inside of Word documents. Most of the time, that’s the best way of doing things, since formatting within e-mail is so inconsistent and unreliable. The main problem with using Word documents to send new Web site content is the inclusion of images. A lot of people will embed the images directly in a Word document without attaching the originals to the e-mail message.

Normally, it can be extremely difficult to actually extract images from Word documents. Microsoft did not include any reliable tools to save the images out of the document. Once they’re in there, there’s no simple way to get the original images out.

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