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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Windows .NET Forms – How to use an XML file for Program Settings and Preferences

Often when writing a program you find yourself in need of having a setting or preferences file to store your program preferences in. There are many different ways to store settings for your program including:

  1. Using a database file to store settings. If your program uses a database this may be a good place to store your settings if not one of the other options below may be better for you.
  2. Storing the settings in your App.Config file is fairly easy but doesn’t persist your settings across a program upgrade or uninstall and reinstall.
  3. Storing the settings in a text file is also fairly easy to do but that requires a little more programming and program logic than using an XML file.
  4. Using an XML file to save settings is simple and can persist data across upgrades, program uninstallation and reinstallation. If the XML file is created by the program itself and is not part of the installation set up or listed as a required file by the setup program then the XML settings file is not deleted by uninstalling the program unless the user specifically deletes the file.

This article illustrates use of an XML file to store the settings for your program. The sample project “Sample_XML_Settings” consists of a simple main form that reads from and writes to a Settings.xml file using some simple routines that are in the code file “AppSettings.vb”.

Upon running the program the first thing the program does is check the settings XML file to see if it contains all the elements and values it is supposed to have, if an element does not exist the program creates it and if a value is blank it writes the default value for it. If the settings XML file itself does not exist the program creates it.

The sample project is small enough and the code is commented so further explanation is not needed for this article.

Download the sample vb project Sample_XML_Settings.vbproj.zip

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Monday, December 17, 2012

A Quick Overview of the Stardock Start8 Program

A quick video overview of the StarDock Start8 program. Add the start menu button to the taskbar in Windows 8 that Microsoft removed. Skip the touchscreen interface screen and boot to the desktop by default.

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How to install the Gadget Sidebar in Windows 8

Quick video on how to install the Gadget Sidebar in Windows 8.

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Install Windows 8 Into A Multiboot System

Here is a quick video showing how to install Windows 8 into a multiboot system, also a quick overview of EasyBCD and multi boot manager.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Organize your desktop with Stardock's ObjectDock

Get rid of your desktop clutter by moving your desktop icons and favorite programs to ObjectDock's dockable menus.

Additional Features

  • Position dock on any monitor edge
  • Supports multiple monitors
  • Adjustable transparency for background and icons
  • Running indicators for open programs
  • Minimize windows to dock with live animation
  • Compatibility - made for older/slower computers
  • Optional “auto-hide” when a maximized window is in use
  • New background blur-behind (Windows 7/Vista only)
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Review: 4 free programs to process your videos for a media server & How to add subtitles to your videos

  1. Easy Subtitles Synchronizer - http://easysubs.blogspot.com/ - freeware tool that finds, creates, repairs and synchronizes your subtitles easily. It is designed for people without background to subtitles creation and synchronization. For this reason provides only the necessary tools for subtitles creation and synchronization that a common user needs.
  2. Rutabaga Subtitles Cleaner 1.4 - http://mediaplayersite.com/http%3A/%252Fwww.networkedmediatank.com/showthread.php%3Ftid%3D45240 – cleans .srt subtitles files.
  3. theRenamer - http://www.therenamer.com/ - Automatically rename and organize your TV shows and Movies.
  4. Advanced Renamer - http://www.advancedrenamer.com/ - Advanced Renamer is a free program for renaming multiple files and folders at once.
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Solution: Long Time to Access Network When Windows 7 Resumes From Sleep

If your computer takes a long time to access your network after resuming from sleep this article may solve your problem.

I have a server running Windows Home Server 2011 with 5 client computers:

· 3 Windows 7 (Home Premium & Professional desktops, gigabit LAN

· 1 Windows 8 Professional desktop test computer, gigabit LAN

· 1 Windows 7 Home Premium laptop, WAN

My laptop reconnects to a network share instantly after resuming from sleep; one desktop would reconnect in 10 or 15 seconds while the others took about 90 seconds to access a network drive after waking from sleep. Watching the progress bar in Explorer for 90 seconds is pretty sad when my desktops typically boot from off mode in 20 seconds.

Finding the problem with Google was fairly simple, the laptop’s wireless adapter was set to “always on” while the wired computers settings allowed the LAN adapter to power down.

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The fix is obvious if you don’t need to wake a computer remotely, just uncheck the “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power”.

Unfortunately if you need to wake your computer remotely you must leave this setting checked since Microsoft in its wisdom turns off WOL unless the network adapter is allowed to turn itself off creating a catch-22 situation.

After a week of researching the problem and trying obscure registry hacks with no results I thought of what should have been an obvious solution:

· Install a second network card in a computer, one set to turn off and one set to stay powered on.

It doesn’t really matter how fast the secondary network adapter is (10/100/1000), you only need it to accept a magic packet to wake the computer, although if you have to buy a network adapter you might as well buy a good cheap gigabit card for around $12 like the Rosewill RC-400 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI V2.2, 32/64-bit, 33/66MHz Networking LAN Card With Heatsink & 4 LED indicators Item #: N82E16833166002, just make sure it has WOL capabilities. The TP-LINK PCI-E 100/1000 TG-3468 also works well.

If you need a good unmanaged switch for more ports the TP-LINK TL-SG1008D Unmanaged 10/100/1000Mbps Unmanaged Gigabit Desktop Switch Item #: N82E16833704043 works great, I picked mine up for $27 on sale.

Basic steps are:

1. Install a second LAN adapter in computer

2. Assign static IP addresses to both of the primary and secondary LAN adapters. I add 10 the primary IP so I can remember them easily, i.e.: computer A primary LAN adapter IP = 192.168.0.5 and computer A secondary LAN adapter IP = 192.168.0.15

3. In the primary LAN adapters properties set the TCP/IPv4 Metric to a lower number than the secondary LAN adapters TCP/IPv4 Metric. Do the same for the TCP/IPv6 Metric if you have TCP/IPv6 turned on.

Update: in the video showing how to implement this fix, I erroneously stated that filling in the IP address for the IPv4 Properties was optional. For this fix to work the IPv4 Properties must be filled in.

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TCP/IPv6

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CLICK PROPERTIES

TCP/IPv4

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CLICK PROPERTIES

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CLICK ADVANCED

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CLICK ADVANCED

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SET YOUR METRIC NUMBER

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SET YOUR METRIC NUMBER SET YOUR METRIC NUMBER – Higher than your primary adapters Metric number

TCP/IPv4

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CLICK PROPERTIES

TCP/IPv4

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CLICK PROPERTIES

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SET A STATIC IP IN YOUR ROUTER IF YOU HAVE ONE. YOU CAN ALSO SET IT HERE ALSO.

CLICK ADVANCED.

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SET A STATIC IP IN YOUR ROUTER IF YOU HAVE ONE. YOU CAN ALSO SET IT HERE ALSO.

CLICK ADVANCED.

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SET YOUR METRIC NUMBER

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SET YOUR METRIC NUMBER – Higher than your primary adapters Metric number

Windows will probably warn you about using two network adapters on the same Gateway, ignore it, it will work anyway although if you are setting static IP’s in the adapter setting you may have to re-enter one or more settings below once or twice until Windows quits helping you. Windows has a tendency to remove the “Default gateway” settings from one of the adapters when first setting it up.

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4. Now set your PRIMARY ADAPTER’S “Power Management”

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CLICK CONFIGURE

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CLICK POWER MANAGEMENT

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5. SET YOUR SECONDARY ADAPTER’S “Power Management” TO

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Now your computer will default to using your Primary LAN Adapter for network access (which always stays powered on) and will use the Secondary LAN Adapter if the Primary is unavailable.

To remotely wake a computer from sleep you send a WOL magic packet to the Secondary LAN Adapter (192.168.0.15 in this example) and connect your Remote Desktop to your Primary LAN Adapter (192.168.0.5 in this example).

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