Windows VPN tweak: Don’t use Remote’s Gateway

14 Aug 2009
August 14, 2009

Here is a slick little tip I learned from my buddy Dan over at machineLOGIC today. I just had to share…

I’ve been using the built-in Microsoft VPN client for years – through 5 or 6 iterations of Windows in fact. Dead simple to set up, easy to use and I’ve rarely had any issues with it.

However, I’ve always hated that all of my network traffic would go through the VPN tunnel. Such a pain! I mean, face it: downloading a file is so much quicker from home than via the tunnel. Fewer hops and, frankly, my home connection is faster than my office connection — and has fewer users to boot.

And let’s not talk about the guys running WoW patches while still connected to the VPN. (Hi Matt!)

I started to gripe about this earlier today and Dan commented that with one checkbox I could solve all my problems (on this topic, at any rate):

image

The image is from Windows 7. Vista is very similar and XP isn’t really all that different either.

Edit the VPN connection properties. Go to the Networking tab (odds are you can go ahead and disable IPv6 while there) and then edit propertied for the IPv4 protocol. Hit “Advanced” and then uncheck “Use default gateway on remote network.”

Just that simple. Cool huh?

In Which I Finally Discover Clonezilla and GParted

21 Jul 2009
July 21, 2009

One of the older home laptops finally died yesterday. Not totally unexpected, she’d been ailing for a while but she finally had to be put down.

* moment of silence, please *

The hard drive in that laptop was a 7200 RPM drive so I decided that it would be a nice upgrade on this Dell D600 Latitude that I’ve been using lately. Of course, the thought of reloading everything wasn’t appealing so I looked for options.

In the past I’ve used a combination of DriveImage XML and Bart PE to copy an image of one drive onto a new one. However, I couldn’t get it to work properly this time – was having USB drive issues of some sort and the write would fail about 5 minutes into the process.

Clonezilla logo Worked out OK though as I had a chance to try out Clonezilla instead. Now that I’ve used it it definitely has been added to my toolkit. A dead simple way to copy and restore disks and partitions for sure.

Just to add challenge I made the disk image of the old drive over the network to a Windows server. Worked great. The restore was just as simple and I’m now sporting a faster / larger drive with no reloads necessary.

While it was all very simple to use, I did make one small miscalculation – my new drive now had a paritition of 60 GB which was the size of the old drive. The rest of the space on the drive was unallocated.

GParted Since it was a day to try new (to me) software, I downloaded and burned a boot disk for GParted (Gnome Partition Editor). It allows one to create, move and/or resize partitions without losing data.

I was easily and quickly able to “stretch” my partition to use the entire drive. The interface is clean, clear and easy to use and definitely comparable with some of the commercial products I’ve used in the past. Another one for the toolkit for sure.

I can’t believe I’ve not used either of these until this point, but I’m sure glad to be aware of them (finally)!

Going Back to OneNote?

02 Jul 2009
July 2, 2009

I’ve recently been pondering and/or reconsidering my decision to switch from OneNote to Evernote a year ago. It seemed like an easy choice at the time, but I’m not entirely convinced I’ve truly gained in a way that has made me feel more productive. Subjective, yes I know. Bear with me as I think out loud.

Evernote logoI’ll start with the mobile experience. One of the main reasons I decided to go with Evernote was the promise and potential of the Windows Mobile client. The WinMo OneNote client is… to be polite… pretty useless (did it improve with ON 2007 by chance?). At first glance the Evernote client seemed a huge improvement – and, early on, received frequent updates.

However, after a year it turns out I never use Evernote on my Windows Mobile phone. Why? Well for starters my dream of managing task lists and checkboxes remains unfulfilled. Can’t even see checkboxes from the WinMo client. Want to fake checkboxes? Well, you can’t edit an existing note from the mobile client either.

Long story short, no gain.

OnteNote picture What do I miss the most from OneNote? The free-form aspects of the pages. Everything doesn’t have to be trapped into a single “column” on the page. That capability worked very well for me and how I manage my own tasks and projects – side notes!

How about creating outlines? With OneNote you can hit tab and be in outline mode. Tab and shift-tab to indent and, for me, all very intuitive and easy to use. Evernote? (I had to revisit the Help for this next bit) Ctrl-Shift-B for a bullet list. Shift-M and Shift-Ctrl-M to indent and outdent. After a year I still hardly ever use outlines because I can’t seem to remember the hotkeys!

Want multiple columns of bullet lists in Evernote? Not gonna happen. Painless in OneNote.

Now, I use multiple computers and the free aspect of Evernote is very enticing. Setup a new machine, dump on Evernote, let it sync and “hey presto!” I’m good to go.

Conversely, I only own one license of OneNote so I have to make deliberate and thought-out choices about where I install it…. Now, I suppose I could get a little sketchy with my MSDN subscription and “liberate” an extra OneNote license for “development purposes”… then I’d have two. Otherwise I’m shelling out some serious coin to have ON on more than one machine. Not enticing and definitely a motivator to stick with Evernote.

(Thought: Dropbox would make syncing OneNote files a lot easier than it used to be, right?)

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not bashing Evernote at all. It is a great product with tons of features. The built-in syncing alone is just about priceless and you get it with the free version! The OCR’ing of images is pretty interesting as well. Great for taking whiteboard pictures that are searchable.

Cutting to the chase:

I think the genesis of this post is the fact that after a year I find myself still missing OneNote… Now I just need to decide if that’s a strong enough motivation to switch back. Thoughts?

JujuEdit — Edit Huge Files

20 Jun 2009
June 20, 2009

I had an interesting challenge today: Needed to edit a large XML file (about 2 GB) to find and fix some bad data. I often use Notepad++ for quick and dirty editing, but not for this file. It told me the file was too big.

I tried a few other options and didn’t have much luck, so I asked for suggestions on Twitter. Mark responded:

mark_r jujusoft suggestion

I’d never heard of this one, but headed over to the JujuEdit page to have a look. I was hooked at the first feature:

Very Large File Support – edit files up to 2GB in size, and browse them instantly with special “Open From Disk” mode.

I downloaded and installed it and tried it with my 2GB file. Works great! And even better, it offers a binary mode which allowed me to spot the bad characters in that particular file.

I’m not sure if this will replace Notepad++ as my freebie of choice, but it definitely will be kept around for those times that I need to work on huge files.

[Addendum]

Just as I finished this article I happened to recall XML Notepad 2007. I’ll need to see how it does with huge XML files next…