Microsoft Management Console – make administrative tasks easy

This is the start of a series of posts that will guide you through using Microsoft Management Console to manage your system. In this post most of the text has been excerpted from the MMC help file. The MMC allows you to control and manage the many available options from an easy to use interface. All the options are also available from the Windows Registry. But for many dealing with Registry is not an easy task. Also for simple administrative tasks involving MMC using the Registry will be an overkill for many. (You can find the posts on Registry here) The following i a brief into to MMC from the MMC help available in Windows XP.

The extension of console objects are always msc representing Microsoft Console. They can be found under %systemroot% system32 ” folder. A backup copy of each could be found under “%systemroot%system32 dllcache ” folder

Introduction to MMC

Microsoft Management Console (MMC) can be used to create, save, and open administrative tools (called MMC consoles) that manage the hardware, software, and network components of your Windows system. MMC does not perform administrative functions, but hosts tools that do. The primary type of tool you can add to a console is called a snap-in. There are two general ways that you can use MMC: in user mode, working with existing MMC consoles to administer a system, or in author mode, creating new consoles or modifying existing MMC consoles.

The following administrative tools appear under Windows XP

Component Services

Used by system administrators to deploy and administer COM+ programs from a graphical user interface, or to automate administrative tasks using a scripting or programming language. Software developers can use Component Services to visually configure routine component and program behavior, such as security and participation in transactions, and to integrate components into COM+ programs. For more information, see Using Component Services.

Computer Management

Used to manage local or remote computers from a single, consolidated desktop utility. Computer Management combines several Windows XP administrative tools into a single console tree, providing easy access to a specific computer’s administrative properties. For more information, see Using Computer Management.

Data Sources (ODBC)

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is a programming interface that enables programs to access data in database management systems that use Structured Query Language (SQL) as a data access standard. For more information, see Using Data Sources (ODBC).

Event Viewer

Used to view and manage logs of system, program, and security events on your computer. Event Viewer gathers information about hardware and software problems, and monitors security events. For more information, see Using Event Viewer.

Local Security policy

Used to configure security settings for the local computer. These settings include the Password policy, Account Lockout policy, Audit policy, IP Security policy, user rights assignments, recovery agents for encrypted data, and other security options. Local Security Policy is only available on computers that are not domain controllers. If the computer is a member of a domain, these settings may be overridden by policies received from the domain.


Used to collect and view real-time data about memory, disk, processor, network, and other activity in a graph, histogram, or report form. For more information, see Using Performance.


Used to manage the services on your computer, set recovery actions to take place if a service fails, and create custom names and descriptions for services so that you can easily identify them. For more information, see Using Services.

# To open MMC, click Start, and then click Run (WIN+R). In the Open box, type “mmc“.

# The consoles available in Windows XP are listed below. To access any just type their name (include the .msc) in Windows Run box (WIN+R)


The follow up posts in this series will deal with managing you computer with the MMC.

Image not shown properly in Microsoft Office

This is the screen shot of a Microsoft Office document with an image inserted into it. The top one is the original image. But Office kept on showing it with white portions as black. This is shown at the bottom of the Screen shot.

Microsoft Office rendering image wrongly

If you have met with a problem like the above one its just a minor bug in Microsoft Office that renders transparency in PNG (Portable Network Graphics) images. To put it lightly Office will not show PNG images with transparency. The problem could be solved with a workaround. Try saving the image as GIF with transparency or make the transparent pixels just white (remove transparency) and add the new image. It will be rendered correctly. No other image type seems to cause a problem.

Process Explorer NT – the real task manager

Process Explorer NT is the replacement for the default Task Manager in Windows from Microsoft (links are given at bottom of page). It is also available from Sysinternals which is now a part of Microsoft. Among the many tools they offer a post have been made about TCP Viewer earlier.

Process Explorer is just every system administrators dream come true. Among the many functions provided the mainly noticeable ones are listed here.

Processes could be suspended and resumed. Just like the way you pause and resume music player you can suspend and then resume processes. This will be a great benefit if a program like a video encoder doesn’t have pause function.

Process Properties in Process Explorer NT

You can Restart, Search online about any process. There is also a Properties view for processes which will show detailed stats of the process its handles, IO activity, Virtual an physical memory usage, TCP IP history, Environment Variables etc.

Process Explorer is able to replace task manager. You could do it right from the menus it self. This is done by a simple Registry Edit. I’ll post about it later.

This is the one of the basic tools everybody should have. Another one I would suggest would be a Free Data Recovery software.

Download Process Explorer NT here or visit the software page at Sysinternals.

How to open unknown files – without extension

There are times when we are not quiet sure which program could be used to open a file. Worst case scenario is when the file doesn’t have an extension. Here are some ways in which you can recognize/open such files.

Try the extension at an online file extension archive.

Use a Universal File viwer to open the file.

If everything else fails open the file with a HEX editor or using Notepad. Look for the first few charecters. These will be the filetype headers in most cases. Here is a small list of filetypes and header charecters for popular file types.

MIME type File Extension Starting characters
image/ PNG ‰PNG
image/gif GIF GIF
image/jpeg JPG ÿØÿà
image/bmp BMP BM
imagge/tiff TIF II*
audio/mp3 MP3 ÿú
application/zip ZIP PK
application/rar RAR Rar!
application/pdf PDF %PDF

Best (free) ways to download video from sharing sites

Here are some methods you may try to save the Videos from various sharing site. Most of them work with more than one site. All of them have been tried by me.

1. Real Player Browser Plugin

You can use Real Player 11’s browser plugin to download flash videos right away with the click of a mouse button. Read more on How to Download streaming Videos with Real Player.

2. Use Free File conversion sites.

Both of the Free file converter sites allowed users to download streaming videos from Youtube. Read about the first one here and the second here.

3. Use the Download Video Button (youtube only)

You can use the JavaScript Download Video button to download the original youtube file as mp4 right from the Youtube site itself. Here is how you can add such a button to your “Link Bar” of your browser.

4. Use downloader sites

Many sites allow you to download videos hosted on sharing sites by submitting the URL of the video page. In most cases the disadvantage is that you get an FLV file. Here are some sites that allows you to do this –, – allows you to download videos from many sites like Google, Youtube, Blip, Bolt, Dailymotion, MySpace, ifilm and Break.

The old method of copying Flash files from the browsers saved files folder still works. But who wants to do it when all these easy ways are here.

Browser hogging CPU when taking wordpress write post page!

Does anybody notice the rising CPU usage of your browser when you are at the create post page (Tiny MCE) of your self hosted WordPress blog? Previously when I was using Firefox the CPU usage rose to 50 percent and FF was running fast like a snail. I thought it was because of problems with FF. Last day when I was using Opera Process Explroer was open. I couldn’t believe that Opera too used very much CPU resources. It was then that I realised the culprit was the WordPress Create Post page (A intersection B, lol).

I was amazed when a Google search provided me only one relevent result. The problem is actually with the WordPress “autosave” feature. If autosave is enabled, then the “Save” “Publish” buttons on my post page used to blink. Everything will come to normal once you “Disable AutoSave” on your blog.

To disble AutoSave you need to comment out the function wp_enqueue_script(‘autosave’); from the following file by adding “//” before them. Comment the line in the following files – /wp-admin/post.php  /wp-admin/page.php  /wp-admin/post-new.php  /wp-admin/page-new.php

After commenting the lines should look like – //wp_enqueue_script(‘autosave’);

Upload these files back and you will have solved the problem. Remember that since SutoSave is disabled you must manually save changes while writing a post.

I didn’t notice the CPU usage while using Opera because Opera is better than Firefox at managing memory and CPU. Also the overall perfomance of the Opera was not affected by the presence of the post page. But in FireFox when the page ws open I couldn’t scroll through any of the pages or couldn’t switch tabs by cliking on them.

I found all these information from Richard Timothy’s blog. Thanks Thimothy ;).

FireFox 3 beta, looks good, succumb your addons

FireFox 3 beta logoToday I downloaded the firefox 3 beta version. It is the latest version available and is in beta testing stage. Mozilla has added a list of improvements to the what’s new page. Mozilla has changed the entire look and architecture of Fireox to a neater one.

Here is what the excited Firefox team has said –

Firefox 3 is based on the Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 32 months. Building on the previous release, Gecko 1.9 has more than 12,000 updates including some major re-architecting to provide improved performance, stability, rendering correctness, and code simplification and sustainability. Firefox 3 has been built on top of this new platform resulting in a more secure, easier to use, more personal product with a lot more under the hood to offer website and Firefox add-on developers.

The most notable improvement is with the default theme. FireFox is much more beautiful now. Also the memory usage has decreased but not to an extent where it can be considered effective. The Google search bar at top has got auto suggest. When you type your address the History drop down is shown in a more user friendly way.

Although FireFox has greatly improved on the looks department almost all of my addons were incompatible with the beta release. So are the themes. So if you don’t want to sacrifice much wait until FF is out of beta to upgrade, upgrade now if you just want to find out the new features. This is a list of known issues with FireFox 3 beta 5.

So if you are impressed go get Firefox here. It is available in 45 languages.

Best free online file converter cum video downloader

Last week I posted about ZAMZAR the Free online file converter. ZAMZAR had a better paid version too. If ZamZar was amazing here is another free online file conversion, video downloading and file sending tool which can be called the big daddy of it all.

You convert it file conversion utilityYouConvertIt allows you to do everything ZAMAR did plus a lot more. If you thought ZAMZAR supported many file types then checkout this new site. It supports an unimaginable number of file types and all this for free.

Just checkout the comments section in the poat on ZAMZAR and you will know how I was introduced to Youconvertit.

You convert it allows you to convert and download videos from online file sharing sites in many formats, even in  audio formats. Also the online conversion utility supports much more file types than ZAMZAR. Another added feature is the ability to attach and sens files to any email address. So if you email service provided puts a limit on attachment size go to Youconvertit, upload the file and enter the destination email address. You can also add your emil and a message along with the file. Youconvertit has got an online units conversion facility too.

With the neat interface and functionality Youconvertit can be called as the BigDaddy of all online file convertors. The onlu problem I have faced with this site is that the interface does not work correctly in Opera. In firefox and IE the aite works just fine.

Yahoo search suggest, a step ahead of Google

Google had added a Search suggest feature in their Google Labs some time ago. It will show autocomplete terms as you typed in your search term. But the feature was never added to the standard google interface. Here is a screen shot of Google Suggest feature in Google labs.

Google suggests search terms

But this time Yahoo has added autocomplete feature (as they call it) to their standard Search page. You may turn this off if you find it irritating though.

Yahoo search autocomplete

How to prevent access to select drives using Registry

You may want to learn how to open, backup and edit registry which are explained in an easy to understand fashion in that page. There is another way using Disk Management to disable access to a drive. It is easier and much better than the method explained here. Yet another post explains how you can prevent others from copying data from your PC onto a USB storage device.

You can prevent access to any drive in Windows by creating a DWORD in registry. The advantage of this method is that, a single DWORD can disable access to drives selected by you. In order to try this, you have to open registry (try the introduction post to registry mentioned at the start) and browse to the KEY :


Now rightclick on the right pane and select “New»DWORD (32-bit) Value” and name it NoViewOnDrive

Registry, creating a DWORD  to prevent drive access.
Browse to the specified key and create a new DWORD by rightclicking

The corresponding HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key :

would probably allow you to apply a system wide restriction. I haven’t tried it yet.

From the following list, find the values of the drives you want to prevent access to. Now add these values together. For example, if you want to prevent access to D drive(8) and J drive(512) you will have 8+512 = 520.

A – 1, B – 2, C – 4, D – 8, E – 16, F – 32, G – 64, H – 128, I – 256, J – 512, K – 1024, L – 2048, M – 4096, N – 8192, O – 16384, P – 32768, Q – 65536, R – 131072, S – 262144, T – 524288, U – 1048576, V – 2097152, W – 4194304, X – 8388608, Y – 16777216, Z – 33554432, ALL – 67108863

If you need to disable access to more than one drive you may add the values corresponding to all those drives and set the value. That is if you need to disable D and F drives add 8 (D)+32 (F) = 40 to the key. Double Click on the NoViewOnDrive DWORD and after selecting Decimal radio button, paste this value.

Regedit, modifying a DWORD value for Drive access
In this picture I have selected D: drive and E:drive 8+16 = 24

After this step, you just have to close registry editor. The settings take effect immediately. (If this doesn’t take effect try restarting windows explorer) Next time you try to access one of the drives you will encounter and error message as shown below :

Drive access error
Error when trying to access a drive that has been blocked using registry.