I’ve been posting a lot on the NetworkedMediaTank forums lately since I recently developed an application for the Popcorn Hour (and Optware/other devices) that improves the management of Usenet related functions.  The application was originally intended to simply grab all the bookmarks from a users Newzbin account and queue up those NZBs to be downloaded by the users usenet application (NZBget by default).

This means a user no longer needs to go through the manual process of downloading an NZB and uploading it to their Usenet client — which means they would either need to set up an elaborate web-interface setup (such SABnzbd+) or would need remote access to their usenet client in some other fashion. The user can now simply login to Newzbin and bookmark the item. Newzbook takes care of the rest of things and starts the download automatically on its next pass.

The application has now expanded to include a number of other functions such as a mobile friendly Newzbin search and NZBget interface. You can find more details about the application on my googlecode page or on the NMT forums.

I should note that I do not give out Newzbin invitations to anyone I don’t know and I strongly do not condone piracy.


Blackberry Auto-lock

One of simple features missing from my Blackberry was the capability to automatically lock the blackberry when the screen fades. RIM had this cool idea where when you stick the blackberry into it’s case it automatically goes into lock mode, but sometimes you just want to keep your blackberry in your pocket, purse, briefcase, man-bag (or whatever it may be) without its case without having to worry about accidentally calling or e-mailing someone some jibberish.

This app is a simple, but powerful tool that directly integrates with your blackberry. Simply navigate your blackberry browser to the following link and install the autolock app.

Over The Air Install (OTA):

The configuration settings of the app are as follows:

  • AutoLock keys: Enable/Disable
  • Delay after backlight shuts: 1 sec – 10 minutes
  • Action when plugged in: Don’t Lock / Lock
  • Action when on call: Don’t Lock / Lock

You can also download it to your computer and install it, but I’ve always found that process much more tedious.


Blackberry Cut Copy and Paste Shortcuts

A friend of mine and I were sharing tips on blackberry tricks the other day when he showed me some shorcuts for Cut, Copy, and Paste (see immediately below). He found a  list of other shortcuts and e-mailed them to me so I figured I would post them here for others to use as well.

Cut, Copy, and Paste
You can also find other similar commands in the typing section below.
• To cut highlighted text when typing, press the Shift key and the Backspace/Delete key. 
• To copy highlighted text when typing, press the Alt key and click the trackball. 
• To paste highlighted text when typing, press the Shift key and click the trackball.

See below for even more shortcuts…


Shell command for recursive file count in folders

See below for a great shell command to get a listing of the count of files in all the folders in the current directory and below. It will produce an output similar to the following which can then be manipulated in a data-processing application:

1  ./example/dir1 
3  ./example/dir3/dir4/dir5
10 ./example/dir3/dir4/dir6
67 ./example/dir3/dir4/dir7


find . -type f -printf %h"\n" | sort | uniq -c

Search Engine Ranking and Meta Information

I recently received a question from one of my friends regarding the use of keywords and descriptions within meta tags on a website to improve ranking of their site. They asked if they could increase the frequency of how often those tags were shown so they could improve the ranking of their site. My response was as follows:


Sharepoint Maintenance Mode

I always forget how to get into maintenance mode on Sharepoint pages to close / remove webparts that are (potentially) causing issues. Sometimes you will even get an error message that provides a link to the maintenance mode pages. There is also some convoluted way of getting into maintenance mode, but I can never remember it.

An easy way to get into maintenance mode is to simply add ?contents=1 to the URL. For example, if your URL was you would go to

Josh Lyon


We just got back from a trip to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Laura’s sister, Ellen, got married up there and we had a great time. Check out the photos on Laura and my facebook pages. I took a bunch on my blackberry and Laura uploaded the ones from the digital camera.

I think you should be able to see my gallery without being my friend on Facebook, but you’ll have to be friends with Laura to see her gallery!

If you’ve never been to Quebec, I’d highly recommend going. As you’ll see in the pictures the place is a lot like a miniature version of a European city. There are 300+ year old buildings, cobble stone streets, and a bunch of cool history. Even though the Quebecians speak French, the people are really great and can speak English just as well!

PS. Congrats to Ellen and Dave Langlois on their marriage!


Windows 7 outperforms XP on Old Hardware

I just installed Windows 7 on an 8+ year old machine I had laying around my house and I was surprised to see that it runs as well as it does. In fact, it runs better than the XP installation I had installed on the old PC before upgrading it to Windows 7. To be fair, the Windows XP installation was a few years old and probably suffered from disk fragmentation and memory being consumed by the random applications and services that had been installed.

Hardware that I had difficulty with in Windows XP was automatically recognized and had the proper drivers installed. Even the cheap-o USB wireless stick I bought a few months back was recognized during the installation so I could setup my wireless network before even booting into the full operating system. On my windows XP installation, I had a bunch of problems getting the USB stick to work and had to get drivers directly from the manufacturer. With 7, everything was automatically recognized and installed.


Windows 7 on Virtual PC 2007

windows7_vpc2007_2009-06-15_2322I downloaded and installed Windows 7 as a guest OS in Virtual PC 2007 SP1. I’m running Windows Vista Ultimate as my host OS and recently downloaded Virtual PC 2007 SP1 from the Microsoft website for testing some older OSes and browsers. I’ve been hearing a bunch of hype about Windows 7, I’ve seen the youtube videos, and have even seen some in person demos but I was finally ready to take a look at the OS myself. The whole process did take over two hours (over half of it downloading the 2+ GB ISO), but because it was all virtualized I continued using my computer to surf the web in the background.

The installation was pretty straight-forward, but from what I read you should make sure you have the latest version of Virtual PC. I created a new VHD and used the Windows Vista settings. I have 4 GB of physical RAM in my laptop, so I opted to use 2GB for the guest OS. The installation process seemed to run fairly slow and I’m not sure if this is due to running it in a virtualized environment or because I was installing it to a laptop hard-drive, but I figured it would speed up once I actually got into the OS.

I was sad to find that the OS was running really slow when I first booted into it, but after reading a few more posts on the internet I heard that installing the Virtual Machine Tools would help speed things up. I did notice that before installing the tools, my video adapter was only showing 4MB of memory available from within the guest OS. After installing the Virtual Machine Tools, the Windows 7 is running much faster and all the visualizations (spinning wheel) are running much more smooth.

I probably should have taken a few screenshots of the whole process, but for now you’ll just have to live with a screenshot of the OS virtualized post-installation.

PS. the virtual machine tools also enable a number of features (such as the ability to move the mouse from guest OS to host OS without the right-alt key press)


VirtualPC 2007 – Test Machine

As you may already know, I’ve recently been doing a bit of Sharepoint design work. As part of this, we need to be able to test the system in a number of different environments. This is more than just needing to be able to test a number of different browsers, as I’m aware that there are a lot of options out there for installing multiple browsers.

We also need to be able to test different configurations of versions of Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, and a number of other factors. While different members of my team are running slightly different versions of software on their machines, we needed a consistent way to be able to test (and retest) environments. At one point, we had confiscated a number of intern laptops from the previous year and used those to set up the environments. It was somewhat wasteful on a number of different levels and it was also somewhat inconvenient. We set up the laptops so we could remote into them from anywhere on the network, but it still wasn’t the best setup.