Archives for August 2007

Viewing Old Help Files in Windows Vista

The WinHelp file format (*.HLP files, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_WinHelp) is obsolete, and Microsoft has placed a bounty on their heads. By that, I mean that they’d like to see HLP files become extinct. One step they took was to remove the program that usually interprets and displays such help files from Vista. (In Windows XP it was called WinHelp32.exe.) They also prohibit “Windows Compatible” software manufacturers from including WinHelp32 in their distributions.

So, if you install an old program on Vista, do not be surprised if, when you click on Help, you get this instead:

No HLP Support
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Five Tips for Technical Presenters

The other day, I went digging through my notes from and old conference (Software Development West ’03) in search of the answer to a software design question. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but instead I came across some of my margin notes critiquing various presentations. You see, I was giving a lot of presentations myself back then, almost one a week. I gave speeches at user groups and at our company’s weekly “tech talks.” I also used to pinch-hit for our company’s trainers from time to time. So, whenever I was in an audience, I had a habit of paying attention to style as much as substance.

So, for those of you who are tapped from time to time to give a presentation, here are the tips I gleaned from my observations at that conference:

Avoid Ambiguous Examples: When Hillsdale and Bodkin introduced Aspect-Oriented programming to the SD West ’03 crowd, it was well-received. Their only slip-up was the example they used. It was a little drawing program that dealt with lines and points that were combined to make triangles, rectangles, etc.. Unfortunately, the word “point” is a key term for aspect oriented programming (AspectJ), referring to a point in the program code. So, the word came up quite often throughout the talk. Now, it wasn’t terribly hard to discern which of the two meanings each utterance took, but there definitely was some extra work on the part of the listener, and it was a unnecessarily distracting.
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Seven Tips for Long-Term Storage

In my last article, A Long Essay on the “Shortgevity” of Computer Media, I explored the shelf lives for various computer media and the best options for long-term data storage. No matter what kind of data medium you’re using, here are additional tips to help your data archives last longer with relatively few worries.
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A Long Essay on the “Shortgevity” of Computer Media

In today’s fast-paced world, many of us have become extremely dependent on the data we store on our computers. We create projects and even write articles that will never make it to hardcopy form, and we take photos upon photos with digital cameras but don’t always get prints to go with them. And let’s face it: do any of us really back up our data as often as we should?

Given that reality, it’s worth examining how much we can actually depend on the various types of data storage media we take for granted. How long does a CD-R or flash drive really last? Not as long as you might think.

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Quick Tip: 7-Zip Now Has Better Encryption

7-Zip is now up to version 4.52 (beta). Here are some of the most recent improvements:

  • Encryption strength for .7z format was increased.
  • 7-Zip now can unpack Compound files (msi, doc, …).
  • Speed optimizations for AES encryption.
  • 7-Zip now can unpack WIM archives
  • 7-Zip now replaces incorrect characters in filenames during extracting.

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Accidental Hoax Revealed; CodeJacked Tipster Chagrined

Last week, I posted a “tip” entitled, Restarting Windows Without Restarting Your PC (Vista or XP). It was supposedly a way to save time when rebooting (e.g. after installing software); however, the tip does not work. It used to work in Windows 95/98, but it does not work anymore. For anyone who is curious, here’s the story on what happened to make me think that it did work:
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