Guy’s Ezine 167 – ObjectDock and RunWinDiff

Guy’s Recommendations – Computer Utilities Worth a Second Look

Let me be realistic here, it’s unlikely that all these utilities will be of interest to you, however, I bet that you will find one that’s worth a second look.


A company called Stardock produces an alternative Taskbar called ObjectDock.  My friend Barking Eddie spent an enjoyable half-hour tweaking its settings.  Guy’s thoughts were, ‘If I had not used the traditional Windows Taskbar for years then I may have fallen in love with it.  Sure it’s flashy, but ObjectDock has little in the way of features I don’t already access in other ways’.

It reminds me of the time-honoured conundrum with this sort of utility, is it a distraction or timesaver?   Is ObjectDock your nagging master, or your distracting buddy who lures you away from your work, alternatively is it your slave who saves you time by fetching stuff just when you need it.  Incidentally, I put Vista’s Sidebar is in this same category of utility.

As for Stardock, the company produce lots of other goodies so have a look around while you get your free download of ObjectDock.

RunWinDiff – Recommended by Paul DeBrino

WinDiff is free Microsoft utility for spotting differences between two files.  However, its interface is unfriendly – even confusing, enter a nifty front-end called RunWinDiff.  What this add-on from The Code Project does is help you to drag and drop files or directories.  It also makes it easier to browse for files and directories using the file and directory chooser dialogs.  Another useful touch is RunWinDiff remembers its last screen location.

To take a step back, the killer feature of the parent WinDiff is to find tiny differences in large files; my main use is for finding changes in the registry.  For instance, suppose you make a change to Internet Explorer and you want to find where in the vast registry is that setting stored.  My technique is to save the registry with the setting ‘On’, and then save another copy of the registry with the setting ‘Off’.  Now it’s time to set WinDiff to work comparing those two files,  on a good day it shows you the precise place in the registry where this, or any other difference, is located.  Returning to Paul’s recommendation, RunWinDiff makes it that just bit easier to get started with your research, and it also saves time once you get stuck into the project.

The Benefits of Monitoring Network Traffic

Most administrators soon give up on network monitoring.  This is because they find collecting network traffic difficult.  Even if they manage to capture network conversations they find it difficult to analyze the raw data in a meaningful way.  By using the Real-time NetFlow analyser you can overcome these difficulties, and take charge of your network rather than leaving matters to chance, or accepting that you are its mercy.

We live in a hectic world, thus it’s probably one of two extremes that causes you turn to a Traffic Analyzer.  Either you are swamped by a network crisis that you must solve, or else you have that rare 5 minutes slack before your next appointment, so you fire-up the Real-time NetFlow Analyzer and quickly check what’s occurring in your computer ’empire’.

Crisis Mode
In crisis mode you want to indentify the root cause as quickly as possible.  You need to know if a server is down, or where resources are exhausted.

Just Browsing Mode
When you are just surfing with the NetFlow GUI you might contemplate, which are the main outbound routes? Where is the inbound traffic going?  Are there any servers which are idle?

Other Roles for Network Monitoring
As you learn more about network monitoring, you will discover other roles for this style of analysis, for example capacity planning, load-balancing the servers on your network(s), and preparing duplicate routes to eliminate the single point of failure.

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT) IP Tracker

Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets.  IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:

For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges. 

For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker

Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy have researched this amazing, true, but naughty newspaper story. 

Outside Bristol Zoo, England is a car park, with spaces for 150 cars and 8 coaches. It has been manned 6 days a week for 23 years by the same charming and very polite car park attendant with a ticket machine. The charges are £1 per car and £5.per coach. [$1.60 and $8.12 USD]

Apparently on Monday 1st June, he did not turn up for work. Bristol Zoo management phoned Bristol City Council to ask them to send a replacement parking attendant. The Council told Zoo, ‘That car park is your responsibility.’

The Zoo replied, ‘The attendant was employed by the City Council … wasn’t he?’

The Council said, ‘What attendant?’

Gone missing from his home is a man who has been taking daily the car park fees amounting to about £400 per day [$650 USD] for the last 23 years.  

 See more of our funny newspaper stories.

Lots of useful computer services

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