Software Useful

Share your web favorites with all your machines

A while back Omar turned me on to FavoriteSync as a great tool to keep your IE favorites in synch across multiple machines.  Omar has since moved on to Groove but I still much prefer this light, simple tool to the heavy-handed beast that is Groove (Groove is designed to be much more than a synchronization tool, it’s a Share Point-like platform with a large feature set and a start up time to match).

Setup is fairly simple, download the installer and run.  In order to store your favorites on the FavoriteSync server you will need to sign up for an account, but filling out the form and waiting for the confirmation e-mail is about as complex as it gets.  Using the default configuration FavoriteSync stores your favorites on their web site but if you want to be more geeky (or more secretive) you can publish your favorites to your own ftp site.  Other advanced options include the ability to ignore certain folders (e.g. to keep work-only stuff off your home computer… or more importantly, vice versa), publish an XSL style sheet (useful if you have your own ftp/web site and want web-based favorites) and the ability to create multiple backup copies of your favorites.

Once installed the synchronization is automatic.  Anytime you start IE or you change your favorites FavoriteSync will merge an updated copy with the copy of your favorites stored on the server (either yours or theirs).  Your other computers will automatically pick up the changes when you next use them.  Changes are merged if you change your favorites on multiple machines and the options allow you to tweak the sync behavior if you desire.

With a work laptop, work desktop and a home desktop it’s great to have my IE favorites finally roam to all my computers.  The software is simple and effective, I recommend it to Windows IE users with more than one PC. 

Software: FavoriteSync
Web Site:
Platform: Windows/IE (FireFox version in beta)
Cost: Free/Donate Ware
Ease of setup: 4 of 5
Ease of use: 5 of 5



Working in the computer industry and living in this strange computer utopia there are a lot of useful sites and software packages that one adopts simply by means of osmosis.  In an effort to document this things for both my family and myself I’ve created a new category: Useful.

If you have a suggestion of something you find very useful, please send it my way… I can always benefit from a little extra time in my day. 


We are experiencing heavier than usual prayer volume…

So, according to the bible, God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh.  This is, quite simply, the reason there is a weekend.

Now, let’s say I’m looking at this from a very practical, non-religious point of view.  The weekend is the time of rest (especially Sunday, of course) when one is expected to relax and recoup.  The last thing anyone wants on their day off is the office calling with a bunch of demands.

Given that… isn’t it inconsiderate to hold church services on Sunday?  It amounts to the whole world calling God on God’s day off, demanding that God do stuff.  Sheesh, makes me glad I’m not a deity.


Sure, it’s from the Virgin Islands, but c’mon…

…does “Virgin Water” really sound appealing?


Perhaps it just needs a catchy slogan:
   Virgin H20: Fresh squeezed from the world’s finest virgins.
   Virgin H20: Like holy water, only better.
   Virgin H20: Now in plastic containers… because no one wants their Virgin Water to break.


Hey, I needed that!

There are times when you need to get a file out of your Hotmail account but the server has flagged the file as dangerous and won’t let you at it.  This can happen if the file is infected with an incurable virus or if a noob friend sent you an uncompressed EXE (we’ll get into ways to pay your friend for the trouble in some other post).

While Hotmail has locked the file away (likely for your protection, see disclaimer later in this post) you can still get the file.  An important note: you can really hose your computer if you bypass security, any security, so be sure you are ready to pay the consequences.  By following the instructions below you are agreeing to take full responsibility for your actions.

Okay, now that part one of the paranoia is out of the way, here’s what you do: 

  1. Enable advanced headers (click Options->Mail->Mail Display Settings->Message Headers=Advanced)
  2. Open the e-mail message with the attachment, in the header there will be a link to “View E-mail Message Source”, click the link and a new window will open.
  3. The message source will be divided into sections or “parts”.  Look for the part with your attachment, it will be a square block of text that just looks like garbage (I’ve pasted an example below).  Select just the block of text and copy it.
  4. Open up notepad or some text editor (in Windows you can go to Start->Run, type in “notepad” and hit enter).  Paste the text block into your text editor.
  5. Save the text file but change the extension to match the transfer encoding (in most cases it will be base64, so the extension should be “b64”).  Make sure you change the drop-down for “Save as type” from “Text Documents” to “All files”.  In the example below you would save it as “potogold.b64”
  6. The saved file can now be decoded by WinZip or your favorite zip handling program.

Some important notes:

  • Dealing with dangerous files is… well… dangerous.  These instructions are provided for advanced users who are certain they are not going to do damage to their computers by circumventing the protections Hotmail has put in place to help protect users.  Please, if you are at all nervous about messing up your computer, let an expert do this (either that or a teenager).
  • There are a variety of encodings other than base64, if a different encoding is used .b64 is not the extension you want to add to your saved file.
  • I didn’t go into a ton of depth on the instructions or screen shots for a specific reason: I don’t want to encourage people to use this method without thinking hard about what they are doing.  I tried to be clear, but not easy.
  • These instructions are written assuming a Windows user.  Please don’t accuse me of hating the Mac or trying to crush LINUX.  I have a special place in my heart for the Mac and am not nearly intelligent enough to use the command line.  That said I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to do this on another platform.
  • There is no substitute for having up to date antivirus (AV) software installed on your desktop.  AV software is like car insurance.  You need insurance to drive and you need AV software to be on the web.  Get used to it.

Now, the necessary disclaimers: files downloaded using this method will not have been scanned by any anti-virus software, I cannot be held responsible for any damage or loss of time that occurs as a result of downloading an infected file.  Additionally this help is provided by me, Reeves, and not Microsoft or Hotmail… there is no warranty expressed or implied.  I feel bad for anyone with a busted machine… but you’re on your own.

Example Encoded Attachment

Content-Type: application/x-zip-compressed;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: attachment;



Did I mention that if you do this and things go bad that neither I nor Microsoft can be held responsible? Yes? Good.


Magically delicious

For desert I poured myself the last bowl of Lucky Charms in the box, but one marshmallow got stuck at the bottom.  I pulled it out, and guess what?  It was the Pot O’ Gold marshmallow.

Yes, I found the pot of gold at the end of a box of Lucky Charms.


I clearly need a hobby.


Knock, Knock

We took a ferry when we were on vacation last week…

It had an impressive steel door to the bridge…


… and an impressive security sign…


… and an impressive slide lock…


… on the non-secure side.

I guess if you’re dumb enough to try to hijack this ferry you’ll likely be stymied by this marvel of modern security.


Fair is not fair

Sunscreen on the arms? Check.
Sunscreen on the face? Check.
Sunscreen on that thinning spot on the top of the head?  Check.

Sunscreen on the tops of the feet?  CRAP!