Tag: Control Panel


In my copious spare time I have been known to design and build websites. The first website I ever built was for the first company I worked for, back in 1996, so I’ve been at it a while.

However it’s only been the past couple of years that I’ve started to get some larger clients with grander ideas, and that has meant getting a bit more organised. As such I now have a standard questionnaire that I ask all prospective clients to fill in, a standard design proposal document which I use to present back my ideas based on the answers to the questionnaire, and I have a nice little area of my PC which is dedicated to building websites.

The key part of which is XAMPP.

I discovered this marvellous application about 3 years ago, and if you are building websites, or installing and customising anything that requires MySQL and PHP then you must give it a look.

Many people know from their own experience that it’s not easy to install an Apache web server and it gets harder if you want to add MySQL, PHP and Perl.

XAMPP is an easy to install Apache distribution containing MySQL, PHP and Perl. XAMPP is really very easy to install and to use – just download, extract and start.

It really is that simple. Once you’ve downloaded it, start up the Control Panel, start Apache and MySQL, then head to http://localhost. Done!

A lot of my web design work is creating custom themes based around WordPress, sometimes it is just a look and feel but more often than not custom code is required. Now, rather than having to upload a file to a test web server somewhere, I can work locally on the php files, and just refresh the browser to see my changes. Much faster.

XAMPP is one of those applications that, after you’ve used it once you think “how the hell did I manage without this!”.

Given that a lot of technical communicators are looking towards other distribution models (blogs, Wikis and so on), then XAMPP is an easy (and free) way to get a test system setup, allowing you to run short proof of concept projects. I hope you find it as useful as I do.

How to fix iTunes stutter

UPDATE – 13th Sept. 2009: I’m glad this post is still of use, if you do find a different solution, please add it to the comments. Mostly I think that the iTunes stutter is only a manifestation of other issues (drivers out of sync or whatever), but glad that this is helping people fix their issue.

Since updating iTunes to version 7 (.02) I’ve been plagued on and off by this issue. Googling brought some success but I’ve seen a few different suggestions of how to fix this, all from different sources with different setups. I finally managed to cure MY system so thought I’d collate everything I’ve found in the hope that others find it beneficial.

So, if you’ve been experiencing the now infamous “iTunes Stutter”, and like me it hasn’t been happening consistently, how do you fix it?
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Life update

Right, a few items to cover, so let’s get on with it then.

Mortgage is proceeding nicely. Valuation came in and apparently we’ve added £20k to the value of our house in the past two years. Not sure WHERE but that was a nice surprise. We’re hoping to complete the new mortgage in a couple of weeks.

Jogging is proceeding nicely. Last night was the 10 week mark and the target of jogging for 10 minutes was met with ease! I think I’m a little ahead of the schedule as I did a 13 minute run on Sunday, and that was from my house which is almost at the very top of the highest part of the Clyde Valley (on a good day we can see Ben Lomond ya know… about 35 miles away).

iTunes 7 is coming along nicely too. Having had a few hassles installing it, well not installing it as getting the damn thing to run, it turns out that Apple have changed the way it interacts with your soundcard (or something like that), so if you have an audio recording application, TotalRecorder in my case, which is set as the output for your ‘sound’, then iTunes throws its toys out the pram. Easy to fix, in your Control Panel, go to the “Sounds and Audio Devices”, select the Audio tab and set the outputs to your soundcard.

And yes, I’m sure this all worked wonderfully on a Mac, save it, it’s kinda boring.

Mind you, the new iPod Shuffle might be on the cards as the cheapy 1GB MP3 player I bought Louise hardly works, only playing 30 or so tracks and claiming it ‘can’t find the rest’. Ohh and before I get ANY complaints about Louise being a second-class gadget owner, she’s tried to use the thing all of 4 times, if she was using it regularly she’d get a Nano too. Music is most definitely MY baby in this house.

Start me up

It’s getting very techie around here isn’t it, last one for a … well… a couple of days at least.

If you are anything like me when you sit down and turn on your computer you really want it to start as fast as possible. You don’t want to have to wait until Windows loads and then wait again until all those other little programs load, no you just want to get right to work.

Of course you can’t because, probably unbeknownst (ohh I love that word, must use it more often) to you, there are several little programs all trying to run at startup. A lot of these will be small programs that you’ll never notice as they don’t do anything except check for updates, but they still take time to start and take system resources whilst they are running.

One way to see what is running is to call up the Task Manager – for XP users, right-click the taskbar and select “Task Manager” from the menu, for other Windows users I think CTRL+ALT+DEL will bring up the required dialog but be careful you only do that once or you’ll reset your machine… maybe… I can’t remember to be honest. In the Task Manager window there is a “Processes” tab and this lists all the programs running on your machine. There will be quite a few in there, as Windows uses around 30 little programs for a variety of different things. Now you CAN close programs from there – highlight the program in the list and click the button, bottom-right, that says “End Process” – but you need to be careful. Again XP won’t let you close anything that Windows NEEDs to have running. As with most things of course YMMV.

Alas Task Manager is only handy when everything has already started, but what if you find yourself continually closing programs just after you start Windows? Where do they come from? How do you stop them!

Enter a little applet which, when installed, you can access from your Control Panel. Mike Lin’s Startup Control Panel is it’s name and I’ve been using it for years. It will list EVERY program that tries to run at startup, with each startup area (user specified (your startup folder in the Start menu), common programs, and any sneaky hidden ones in your registry), and it allows you to stop them from running or delete them from the startup list so you never need to worry about them again!

It’s a simple solution that, over time will save you hours of closing programs, and it can help if you’ve got any nasty programs trying to keep themselves hidden. It’s well worth a look and, best of all, it’s free (donations welcomed though).

Anyway, that’s not why I’m here, in fact I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in the garden.