Dreamweaver Alternative – Microsoft Expression Web 4

Using Adobe Dreamweaver to develop websites is very convenient but expensive. Microsoft Expression Web 4 is a free download that has many of the features that are found in Dreamweaver. Edit code your code and see the results in the preview pane. Setup an FTP site and upload directly to your web hosting site. Support for ASP, PHP, HTML, and JSP for whatever your application needs making site building easy and free. I remember the days of Microsoft FrontPage but Microsoft Expressions is far off from that. I enjoy being able to switch back and forth from code view to design view easily. Whether you are just starting out in web development or a seasoned pro, Microsoft Expressions is worth a look.

Who Deleted My Files

If your work in a collaborative environment you share files. A hazard of sharing files with others is someone will at some point delete or modify your files. Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the soup. Varonis created a good document explaining how to enable auditing on your server so you can discover whom tampered with your files


Ok. So you see that Fred deleted your file yesterday. You have a backup, right?

Backups are great but there is another way to get back you file without having to restore from backup.

Previous versions is a feature you can enable on you Windows server or desktop. On a server you would enable shadow copies on the disk where the files are located.

Recover your pictures from an SD card

Oops! You formatted your SD memory card and deleted all those pictures and music. Don’t fret yet. There are a few things to get your files back. First, do not use the memory card for anything. Don’t put it back in your camera or phone. In order to recover the files you will need to connect the memory card on your computer. If you don’t have a SD card slot on your computer, get a SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Flash Memory Card Reader (SDDR289A20). After you connect the memory card con your computer the next step is to run some software. Download and install zero assumption recovery tool. There is a free trial but it will only let you drill down 4 levels deep into folders. If your pictures are important to you you should shell out the $30 for the software. The website has a nice tutorial for recovering pictures from a SD card.

Where is Disk CleanUp in Windows 2008 Server?

After 20 minutes of trying to figure out what happened to the Disk Clean up utility in Windows Server 2008, I found the Technet article that describes where to find it. There are 2 files already on the computer located in:




where xxxx is a bunch of numbers depending on your Windows version

Place the cleanmgr.exe.mui file in C:\Windows\system32\en-us

Put cleanmgr.exe file in C:\Windows\system32

Family Sharing App

I was looking for an app that I would be able to share a shopping list and memos with my wife since I always seem to forget something when grocery shopping. And since everyone is on a budget these days, I would prefer something free. My first stop is usually at google. Google is always coming up with great free solutions, but in this case, the closest thing Google had was to share a document using google docs. That’s not exactly what I was looking for.

Then my wife found cozi.com. The site is designed for family-centric information sharing. It reminds me of the refrigerator door but on the Web. Share shopping lists, to do lists, memos, and calendar appointments, meal plans, and recipes. Ok, here comes the best part, they have a mobile app for your smartphone that will synchronize with the site to make and check updates on the go. The simple interface is easy to navigate and use. Be prepared for some ads on the free mobile app but that seems to be the norm. If you upgrade to Cozi Gold you get some additional features such as additional reminders and sharing appointments with others and of course no ads.


Cheap Upgrades for Big Performance

In challenging economic times like these it’s a tough decision between PC upgrades and the bills. Here are a few inexpensive upgrades that will make a big difference in performance.

Solid State Hard Drive

Technology has gotten to the point where the slowest component of the computer is the hard drive. The hard drive is a mechanical device and is the most susceptible to failure. Solid state drives (SSD) use non-volatile memory chips similar to the ones in usb flash drives. This results in a speed increase in data retrieval and a quieter and cooler running system. SSD drives are commonly used in netbooks. The price point has finally dropped to make it an affordable upgrade. In my opinion, this is the biggest bang for your buck. A 64Gb SSD as of this writing is under $150 and replaces the noisiest, least reliable, and slowest device in your box. Check out a previous post about SSD maintenance.

Update: Check out Engadget’s best SSDs for a quick performance boost.

Graphics card
If you are using the integrated video card on your motherboard you will see a decent improvement in performance by upgrading to a low to mid-range graphics card. This upgrade could cost you more than you bargained for if you don’t do your homework. Some performance graphics may require additional power consideration and motherboard support So you can’t just pick a high-end graphics card and expect it to be a quick upgrade. If you do your research you will be surprised what a difference it can make even if all you do is write word docs or play Farmville on facebook.

RAM is the cheapest it has ever been thanks to progress in process and technology. Newer operating systems and application have higher memory requirements and the feeling about memory has always been the more the better. Again you should do your research here and find out how much and what type of memory is compatible with your system. Cruicial.com is a good resource for memory research. When buying memory it is not just the amount but the speed. Make sure you get the highest speed RAM that works with your system. This makes a larger difference than you may think. Keep in mind if the memory you have is slower speed than the upgrade you would want to replace the slower memory rather than add it to the faster memory since the RAM speed will be lowered to match the slower speed of the installed memory. Your memory will only be as fast as the slowest memory stick.

Even one of these upgrades can make a significant increase in performance.


iPad as a Tech Support Tool

The Apple iPad is light, user-friendly, and offers a ton of useful applications. The popularity of the iPad with technical people iPad makes it a potential tech support tool especially when you are on the road. The iPad has built-in wireless and can provide internet access from anywhere.
However, this is not the first thing I would reach for if I were troubleshooting a server problem. The executives think the iPad is the best thing since solid state hard drives but I not sure if it’s the best tool for the job. If you just need a terminal session then it should do the job. If you are determined to use the iPad,  you could remotely control a remote computer where you had all the tools you needed to do tech support then you might be able to justify using the iPad. The limiting factor for the iPad platform is you can only install applications from the app store and it does not have the computing power to handle some tasks.  LogMeIn has an iPad application for remotely controlling a PC from the internet or you can use remote desktop if you are on a local network. This might be the deciding factor if your company has a strict software policy and does not allow the use if Log me in. Even if your remote to another computer, the problem with Windows-based applications is the iPad do not translate right-clicks and drags well and make it difficult to use.  So the verdict, you can use the iPad for a quick check on a server or PC, but an affordable netbook provides the portability and flexibility for a useful support tool.

Make Sure You’re A.R.M.ED

If you work with servers, you know you should take a backup of the server before making any change. Right? Well, servers are built for redundancy with dual power supplies, multiple network cards, and multiple hard drives to reduce downtime. Of course, your hard drives should also have redundancy. A typical scenario is to mirror the operating system drive so one drive can fail and the system can continue to function. You can take advantage of this feature by making sure you’re A.R.M.ED!


By removing one of the mirrored drives before making any changes gives you a back out in case things go wrong. You can put the drive back in once the work is complete and the drive will synchronize the changes. If things go wrong, you can remove both drives and put back the drive that was removed before the change was made and the server will come up like it did before you screwed up.

Recovering Pictures from a Formatted Memory Card

Zero Assumption Recovery

Oops! You formatted your SD memory card and deleted all those pictures and music. There are a few things to get your files back. First, do not use the memory card for anything. Don’t put it back in your camera or phone. This will prevent you from overwriting the data on the memory card. In order to recover the files, you will need to connect the memory card on your computer. If you don’t have an SD card slot on your computer, get a SanDisk ImageMate All-in-1 Flash Memory Card Reader. After you connect the memory card on your computer the next step is to run some software.

Download and install zero assumption recovery tool. There is a free trial but it will only let you drill down 4 levels deep into folders. If your pictures are important to you should shell out the $30 for the software. The website has a tutorial that explains exactly how to use the software.

Barnes and Noble Nook Review


I got my wife a Barnes and Noble Nook for Christmas… well I ordered it before Christmas. It shipped some time in January. In any case, I was really deciding between the Nook and the Amazon Kindle. Both of them were priced the same so it was a matter of the features that was going to determine the winner. They both have the same basic functionality such as E-Ink paper-like greyscale display, free wireless network access to download books, approximatly the same size screen and weight, and the ability to play mp3s. Some key features that I thought were an advantage over the Kindle:

  • Andrioid OS
  • Expandable memory slot (you have to remove the back cover to get to it)
  • PDF and EPUB format native support
  • 802.11b Wireless (only for use at B&N… for now)
  • replaceable battery
  • Small Color LCD screen (Menu and displays book covers…in color)

The Andriod OS has been making a splash on phones and many apps have been written for it. It is also fairly open which it was not a surprise when I found out that they hacked to nook to play Pandora over the free AT&T wireless network. Add the expandable memory slot with the 802.11b wireless capablitity and the possibilities are endless. Ok, maybe I’m overdoing it. The fact that you have a free AT&T wireless connection and an Android OS based device appeals to the hacker in me.

As far as reading ebooks, it does what is expected. You can adjust the font, font size and contrast so text is easier to see. Reading PDFs are as easy as connecting the nook to you PC via USB and copying the PDF to the mydocuments folder on the Nook’s internal memory storage. While you have your Nook connected, you can add some family photos to the mybackgrounds folder to see a grayscale version of your photo as a screen saver. You could also add some MP3 to listen to while you read, but at mono sound and with all the other mp3 players available, why bother. Since the Nook only uses battery to change the text on the screen and to power to tiny LCD screen, the battery life is  long as expected (days between charges). However, I noticed that if you have an extending reading session, like my wife sometimes does, you will have to charge it sooner than expected. One issue I had was the Nook would not charge when using the AC adapter, but it did charge using the USB directly to the PC. I called B&N support and after talking to an English speaking person, they shipped me a new AC adapter at no charge and with no hassle.

If you are considering an iPad versus a Nook for reading e-books, you are comparing apples to oranges. There is a distinct difference between an Apple iPad and the Kindle or Nook. That is the back-lit screen. There is a camp of people that can not spend an extended period of time reading text on a monitor or LCD. That’s why e-book readers have an advantage over a netbook or PDA. The e-ink technology is as close to reading paper as you can get and the battery life sweetens the deal. If you can spend hours reading on a monitor, don’t bother getting an e-book reader. Go out and get yourself a netbook or drop extra cash on the latest Apple gadget.

That said, the additional features on the Nook was the deciding factor in the battle of the e-readers. The only thing that I am worried about is how the Kindle market share will effect the number of ebooks available for Nook. Hope my decision pays off. Only time will tell.


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