Monday, February 21, 2005

Sysinternals Junction

I've been working on a better method to manage my images. My technique is still emerging but is described here. What I got to thinking about was that programs like gaim want to write their data, e.g. logs, to their own directory and that wouldn't be on my data drive. I poked around on gaim's website to see if I could point their log directory to another location. All I could find was a lot of Linux references to symlinks. I could guess what these were and that they would do what I needed but didn't know how to do that on Windows.

google can find ANYTHING. I kept running into comments about Microsoft's fsutil. I'm convinced that this will do what I needed but I'll be damned if I can figure it out.

The other reference I kept turning up was's Junction utility.

Here's their description:
Win2K's version of NTFS supports directory symbolic links, where a directory serves as a symbolic link to another directory on the computer. For example, if the directory D:\SYMLINK specified C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32 as its target, then an application accessing D:\SYMLINK\DRIVERS would in reality be accessing C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS. Directory symbolic links are known as NTFS junctions in Win2K. Unfortunately, Win2K comes with no tools for creating junctions - you have to purchase the Win2K Resource Kit, which comes the linkd program for creating junctions. I therefore decided to write my own junction-creating tool: Junction. Junction not only allows you to create NTFS junctions, it allows you to see if files or directories are actually reparse points. Reparse points are the mechanism on which NTFS junctions are based, and they are used by Win2K's Remote Storage Service (RSS), as well as volume mount points.
It is only 16KB. Download it and put it in c:\windows\system32.

The command to redirect a folder is so simple.
junction "C:\Documents and Settings\Ben Moore\Application Data\.gaim\logs" "E:\gaim logs"
Simply, this will make anything that references "C:\Documents and Settings\Ben Moore\Application Data\.gaim\logs" end up in "E:\gaim logs".

I even made me a .bat file to execute this when I need it. That should only be when I build a system from scratch.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Linksys Network Storage Link

CompUSA had an item in this week's flyer that amazed me. It was a Linksys Network Storage Link device.
This tiny network appliance connects USB 2.0 hard drives directly to your Ethernet network. You can connect up to two stand-alone USB disk drives of any size, and access them from anywhere on your network. You can even plug a USB flash disk into the Network Storage Link, for a convenient way of accessing your portable data files. The Network Storage Link can also be set up so that your storage devices are accessible from the Internet -- files can be easily downloaded via your web browser. Your files can be available publicly, or create password-protected accounts for authorized users.
Think about that for a second. Not only is it a clever device but it's advertised in the Sunday newspaper. That kind of device was a niche solution even to data centers just 5 years ago.

Here's what it looks like:
The Network Storage Link features built-in disk utilities, accessible through your web browser. ... It will even send you an email message when a hard drive gets nearly full, completely full, or has an error.
Here's a link to the user guide. It just blows me away that this stuff is in the consumer realm.

PS. I had a similar entry here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I recently built a new PC for my parents. They live about 30 miles away. The first weekend after I moved them to it, I went over to setup the imaging software. While there, I discovered they had a worm. That's a whole article to itself. Anyway, I realized after I left that I hadn't done the removal properly so I had to go back the next day.

There had to be a better way. I searched for how to use RealVNC that I had used on my SageTV system but to do this across the Internet required setting up SSH that was way over my head. pcAnywhere seemed like a good idea but their web site talked mostly about a corporate implementation behind a firewall. GoToMyPC looked like it would do it but costs $19.95 per month.

Then I ran across an article that said that WebEx was introducing a remote control service. My company uses WebEx for intercompany conferencing so I was familiar with their other services. The best part was that you get unlimited access for up to 5 PCs. Here's what you get for free.

Here're some excerpts from their FAQ:
How hard is it to set up and use?
It is really simple:
  • Download and install a small MyWebEx PC agent on the remote computer you want to access
  • Make sure the remote computer has an always-on connection to the Internet and the MyWebEx PC agent is running
  • At the remote location bring up the browser, login, and setup your remote computer
  • A small browser plug-in will download automatically and within seconds you will be set up and ready to access your remote computer, virtually, from anywhere
You do not have to:
  • Open any ports or configure your firewall in anyway
  • Know any IP addresses or other technical networking details
  • Install any software or drivers on the computer to view
Is it secure?
MyWebEx PC is extremely secure:
  • No need to open any ports in your firewall
  • End to end SSL encrypted.
  • Two levels of authentication.
  • Unique phone authentication for very high security.
  • You can protect your privacy
  • Blank the screen of the remote computer so no one can see what you are doing
  • Lock the keyboard and mouse of the remote computer so no one else can interrupt it
  • Logout or screen-lock the remote computer after your session is complete- MyWebEx PC will let you log back in
You do have to use IE to access the remote PC as MyWebExPC uses an ActiveX control.

I made one more trip to my parents' and installed MyWebExPC. It works like a charm. I used it to install the February Windows Updates and reboot their PC. Hooray!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

gmail Invites

You can get a gmail invite here. You can read about gmail here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Super Bowl Ads

The best part of the Super Bowl is always the ads. If you missed some of them while you were taking a bathroom break, now you can catch up. IFILM has them online.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Backup Image

I've been building several XP systems recently. One for my mother and one on a ThinkPad X20 I'm putting together. With lots of practice, I'm pretty good at it but it does get tedious. What I started looking for is a low cost (free) imaging tool.

I subscribe to Fred Langa's newsletter and he talks about this topic from time to time. This issue is dedicated to backup images.

I searched for imaging tools and finally turned up Partition Saving.

Here's a brief description:

Partition Saving is a DOS program that is used to save, restore and copy hard-drive, partitions, floppy disk and DOS devices.

With this program you could save all data on a partition to a file (such as you could save this file on a CD for example). Then if something goes wrong, you can completely restore the partition from the backup file. You no longer have to reinstall every piece of software from scratch. All you have to do is restore the partition from the backup file and then update any software that was modified since the backup was created.

While this isn't as sophisticated as some of the software in Langa's newsletter, it works fine.

I partition my drive into 3 partitions: C: the boot partition, D: the data partition, and E: the backup partition. For example, on a 20 GB drive, I make C: 10 GB, D: 4 GB, and E: 6 GB. I make C: and D: NTFS and E: FAT32. I don't have a lot of experience to validate these sizes but they seem like a good starting point.

I took my trusty Windows 98 rescue disk and used Roxio to create a bootable CD with the Partition Saving program on it. The CD is just such a nicer package than 2 floppies.

Partition Saving supports an options file that looks like it will let you specify all the parameters and run your backup or restore without intervention. I haven't tried this yet though.

Read through all the documentation. It has a compression algorithm but you seem to get most of the benefit with the first level of compression. Also, watch the DOS drive letters carefully as DOS won't see the NTFS partitions. Partition Saving will show them by volume name so remember that when you set them up. Make the volume names meaningful. You can also specify that the output be segmented into sizes that will fit on CD-Rs.

My plan is to put all the non-volatile data (e.g. My Documents) on D:. Then after I do all my tweaking on the C: partition, I'll back it up to E:. I can burn those files to CD-Rs if I want to. When the system gets toasted, I will just restore from E: and I'm right back where I started. Cross your fingers.

I'll post more after I play with it some.