Replacing Task Manager with Process Explorer on Windows 7 64bit

I’ve happily used Process Explorer for several years using the replace task manager function whenever I can.  When I moved to the 64 bit version of Windows 7, the functionality to replace the task manager began failing.  It would appear to work; however, when invoking task manager by right clicking on the start bar I would always see the error that it could not find taskman.exe.

Today I learned that the method used for replacing task manager is called Image File Execution Options.  Basically, via an entry in the registry, calls for the execution for one program are substituted with a call to another.  When you use the “Replace” functionality within Process Explorer, it creates the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\taskmgr.exe

That key has this value:

Debugger:  "C:\SYSINTERNALS\PROCEXP64.EXE"

The problem arises due to the way Process Explorer works on 64 bit systems.  When you run PROCEXP.EXE, it creates the 64 bit stub PROCEXP64.EXE as a temporary file.  While I admit to not understanding fully why it does this, the issue that causes the problem is that Process Explorer also deletes that file when it exits, so the substitution will not work.  The error message is a bit misleading, but it at least makes sense now.

Simply replacing the value of the Debugger key with PROCEXP.EXE instead of PROCEXP64.EXE fixes the issue.

NOTE: As always, messing with the registry should be done at your own risk and may cause problems with your system.

Thorn’s Law

This was quipped by someone I know.  I wanted to make sure to record it for posterity.

The longer you are is in the bathroom, the faster others rush in when you’re done.  That’s actually the time you want to allow some time…and distance!

I suppose it all depends on the HAZMAT level of the room afterwards.

What’s So Hard About Managing Podcasts?

<rant>What is the big deal with podcasts?  I’ve tried many different podcast client software and all have had one problem that seems to remain the same.  At times, they will suddenly start downloading old podcasts that have already been listened to.  Argh!  Some podcasts (like my local news, the Bend Bulletin) have archives going back or over 2 years that I then must go delete in order to clean up the massive amount of space they’re using again!</rant>

Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my system, the real question is, where does the fault lie?  Is it with the software itself, or is it the content provider?  Do the content owners change something that causes all of the items to look “new” or does the software simply fail at some point to recognize that the episodes are old?

I’ve tried Miro, Zune, Juice and HappyFish among others and they all seem to have the same occasional (once a week or so) problem.  If anybody has a better suggestion, I”d be happy to try it!

The one thing that I like to do, which may be different that most users (although I don’t think it’s so unusual) is to save some of the episodes.  For example, I subscribe to some guitar podcasts and many of the lessons I like to keep.  Maybe that’s messing them up?  It shouldn’t, but man it is annoying!

Blogging (and micro-blogging) Hiatus

I have been on a bit of a lapse in the blogging, twitter, 12 seconds and other social network arenas.  Robert Scoble once posted The Corporate Weblog Manifesto.  Rule #13 states

If your life is in turmoil and/or you’re unhappy, don’t write.

He gives a brief, non-specific example of the potential effects.  My family has been going through some rough times lately that I will not get into in this forum, but suffice it to say that the stress level has been high and, though I have wanted to share my thoughts on several things of late, I did not want to fall victim to subconscious changes to my writing affecting the quality.

After almost 2 months, we are coming to terms with the changes in our lives at home and, while things are still far from what most people consider normal, we are at least coping.

I have to admit that not blogging during the break was somewhat of a relief but now I must deal with the consequences of my blog’s loss of relevance, but more importantly, it’s time to get back into something I enjoy, writing!

In which the customers are forgotten in the war between Cable and the Network…

If you live in Central Oregon and have been a BendBroadband subscriber, chances are you longer receive the FOX feed.  KFXO and BendBroadband have been unable to reach a mutual agreement regarding the transmission fee KFXO is asking for from the cable company.

Now, I am unsure of the fairness of the fee.  It may be 100% legitimate and fair, or FOX may be asking more than they should.  I really do not have enough knowledge to form an opinion on the matter.

I am; however, qualified to give this outlook.  I am (one of) the customer.  I do not care what the dispute is.  I simply know that FOX should come through my television set when I ask it to.

The workaround proposed by KFXO is to purchase an over-the-air digital receiver.  There are 3 problems with that, or more depending on where one lives.

  1. Why should the customer have to pay for a piece of equipment they will likely (hopefully!) never need again once the two companies reach an agreement?
  2. Who will install this piece of equipment for those (most customers) that cannot get by with it in the house?
  3. What about the fact that more and more people use their DVR’s to record shows?  It will not work with a built-in cable DVR.
  4. For those out of the city, behind hills or in valleys the tuner is not even a viable option.

Personally, I blame both companies.  Each has their claims (FOX, BendBroadband) that the other isn’t being fair.  Grow up and reach an agreement!  Compromise a bit, each of you!  Offer an extension, whatever.

This time of year is of course huge considering the NFL is getting into the full playoff swing and some of the games each weekend are carried by FOX.  Think about the customer a bit and realize that all you are doing (both companies) is losing respect and possibly customers (on the cable side).

Wherein Joel learns the bad points of turning an appliance upside down…

Ok, so by the very title you have probably already realized that my blunder should have been obvious, but it was not.  More about the flames in a minute, first a bit of history.

We moved into our new home 2 weeks ago.  It was a move that was a long time coming.  A new (2 year old) 3000 square foot house located in a nice neighborhood with just about every amenity we could ask for save a hot tub.  What a great event!

Other than the fact that we had to move of course.

I have never liked moving.  I am horrible at it.  Sure, I can lift things, put them down, all of that.  The area of suckage for me comes from the organizational aspect.  I pack horribly and have a hard time deciding what to do next, all of which leads to exhaustion and frustration.  None of that has bearing on this story other than to illustrate my frame of mind at the time of the incident in question.

Now, dear reader, I am not attempting to excuse my lack of foresight.  Indeed I take responsibility, the decision was ultimately mine.

In the new house, all of the bedrooms are upstairs and most of the living areas, save the loft / family room, are downstairs.  In a stroke of brilliance, the laundry room was placed upstairs to cut down on the up and down trips for the unending stream of dirty clothes created by 2 adults and 2 children.  The only real issue turned out to be getting the appliances upstairs to the laundry room.

The stairway is beautifully designed with a 90 degree turn about 1/3 of the way up.  Most of the day we had struggled with this corner while hauling dressers, king and queen mattresses, a couch, a desk and other large furnishings.  Finally we came to the big boys.  The washer and dryer.

After getting the washer to the corner, we quickly realized that making the turn would be nigh impossible.  We had 2 of us on the bottom pushing it up and one on the top directing the ascent.  There was not room on the tiny landing at the corner to set it upright and get back in behind it.  We contemplated rolling it on its top, then laying up the remaining stairway and then rolling it back upright at the top of the stairs.

To our surprise, it worked!  We managed to manhandle the beast the rest of the way into the laundry room and collapse for a respite.  As we recuperated we discussed the dryer.  Its weight was a fair amount less than the washer, but the bulk was still the problem so we agreed (again, my decision ultimately) to employ the same technique that had worked so wonderfully on it’s mate.

As expected, we did get it upstairs with considerably less effort.  Yay for us!  Sure, there was some odd noises in side as we tipped it, things falling that had likely been inside pockets of washed clothing, that sort of thing.  The point was, it was upstairs and it worked!

About two weeks later as I was arriving home from work, my lovely wife and son where rotating some laundry for me.  As the duty usually falls in my lap, I was most appreciative of their efforts.  I was still on the main floor hanging up my coat and such when there was a lout *POP* from upstairs, the sound of panic and shuffling feet.

As I ascended to the top level, I could hear the voices of my wife and son. Words like “It’s on fire” and “There was a spark” drifted to my ears prompting me to dash the rest of the way.  Fortunately the fire had died out almost as quickly as it had started, and the drier power was no longer on thanks to the circuit breaker.  My son had the level-headedness to pull the vent off of the wall as well to prevent fire from going into the house vent, good job son!

It turns out that the upside-down trip had dislodges some coins that may have been inside the dryer for years, possibly.  Some of the coins became stuck on the top during the turning.  At some point, one of the coins dislodged and fell into a circuit, causing a short with a spark that ignited some lint inside the beast.

In the end, we were lucky.  Nobody was injured and no serious damage was done.  After having a repairman look at the dryer to clean it out and confirm it was working properly everything went back to normal.  The only damage was a slight ding to the bank account and some damage to my pride, but that was minimal and will quickly heal.

The lesson was well learnt and I will never again attempt to “roll” something like that.  A better lesson may even have been to hire somebody to do it, and indeed had we more notice about the move, we would have done so.  I also realize the value of having service done to the twin beasties and will put that on our annual to do schedule.

If you’ve read this far into my lengthy recount, you must truly be bored!  i hope I entertained and possibly enlightened a little.  Until next time, fair reader!

-J

Wonderful Photographer

Recently my wife decided to have a professional do a photography session with our family. A friend of hers, Michelle Maor, had recently decided to “take the plunge” into her own photography business. Michelle has taught various Photoshop and other photography related classes at Central Oregon Community College here in Bend and we decided that we’d help each other out.

Tower Theater - HarleyI am so happy and immensely impressed with the results! Michelle captured some very unique images. We spent about two and a half hours together starting down at Drake Park. She had us pose in several different ways. Afterwards we wandered into downtown Bend to get some candid shots around town. Her knack for composition and opportunity was wonderful! She used well-known landmarks combined with interesting circumstances to put together some great artwork. In this example she combined The Tower Theater and a Harley Davidson that happened to be parked on the street for a noir-like feeling.

The Bench ManWe finished up in an area know as the Old Mill District. It is the newest (a few years old now) shopping area that caters a bit to the large tourist traffic we get here in Bend. The new brick-built condominiums have a nice, north-eastern feeling reminiscent of Brooklyn.

She made the experience fun. It was evident that she enjoyed the process by the unique ideas she came up with. I also enjoyed the non-traditional framing that she used on several of the photographs. So many photographers simply put the subject in the middle and snap away. The good ones, the ones with a passion, experiment with different techniques to get that “special” shot. Michelle is definitely one of those.

Michelle also produced a coffee table book for us with several of the best photos laid out very nicely. Sheri (my wife) loves to take it when we go places, and I don’t blame her. It’s a very nice way to show and talk about the fun time that we had.

Thanks Michelle!