Howto: the Cork County Council Planning Enquiry System

The planning enquiry system of Cork County Council is a powerful system for downloading and viewing all the documents related to a planning enquiry. Unfortunately it relies on outdated software that most people won’t have access to any more (and for security reasons, that’s a good thing!). There are Android and iPhone apps too, but it’s not easy reading planning documents on small screens, and at least on Android requires the use of a third party app to view the .djvu files. You can also save the files to a dropbox folder to share with your desktop, but it’s awkward doing so. The mobile apps can’t download large files either.

When you first go into it, this is the page you see. If you’re using a modern browser (like Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari) you can’t really do much more. It requires Internet Explorer to work.

However, by looking at the source code of the page I discovered this code that sends you to MainFrames.aspx.

The next page allows you to search the planning database but until you’re running Internet Explorer you won’t get very far as it uses the Autodesk Mapguide Viewer for it to show anything.

So, if you’re not running Internet Explorer on your up-to-date copy of Windows or you use macOS, Linux or anything else you’ve only one other option. Use a virtual machine.

Go grab a copy of VirtualBox and install it, then download a free virtual machine image from this Microsoft page and import that into VirtualBox. I found the IE9 one worked perfectly. It expires after 90 days but you can download another image if you need to later.

VirtualBox allows you to set up a shared folder where you can download the planning files, and work on them at your leisure!

Delete the junk that games and apps leave behind in Windows

Use CCleaner and winapp2 to clean out the junk left behind by Steam installers, temporary files, cache files and more.

Before you run this make sure you play all your Steam games at least once or you’ll have to “verify integrity of game cache” of each which will force a download of the install files again. The UI is basic, you can click a box to select all games plus Desura and Steam install files so I went for the big one. I saved 17GB of space by deleting Desura game cache files I didn’t know I could delete. I found out afterwards that there’s an option in Desura to “Clean up MCF’s after use” too which is probably worth doing if you’re running short on space.

There’s also the Tikione Steam Cleaner but it’s written in Java and it’s 195MB when installed! Check out this thread on Reddit for more. I found out about winapp2 there.

While we’re on the subject of saving space, download Space Sniffer to see where all your space is used.

Hibernate your Windows 7 Desktop

Windows 7 on desktop machines doesn’t have a hibernate button. It does have a sleep option which in fact is a “hybrid sleep”, a half way house between hibernation (RAM copied to disk) and sleep (RAM kept alive by a small voltage).

Hybrid sleep is a good compromise but I really prefer to have the machine turned off but I like to keep the state recorded. I need hibernation and that’s where this FAQ came in. It has a good explanation of the different sleep states, how to enable hibernation and most importantly, what to do when your machine won’t stay in hibernation (chances are your mouse is waking up your PC).

It didn’t mention “powercfg -h on” which I found recommended on several forums like this one. Odd. I ran that from an Adminstrator’s cmd shell so I can’t say for sure if it’s required or not any more.

In a nutshell:

  1. Turn off hybrid sleep in the Power Options advanced settings.
  2. In your mouse device properties disable the checkbox that allows it to wake up the computer.

Also, if you right click on the Shutdown button you can change the default action to Hibernate, sleep or any of the shutdown options. When updates are to be installed it changes back to “Shutdown”.

Scroll like you mean it in Windows

One of the most annoying aspects of Windows after using Linux on the desktop for 10+ years was how the mouse wheel scrolled windows.

On Linux desktops I could hover over a window and scroll it without focusing. It was really useful when I had a browser window with instructions behind a terminal or just comparing the contents of two windows. The same happened when scrolling panes in file managers. I could scroll directories when hovered over that side of the window and files when over on the other..

So, imagine my frustration when I realised I had to click the side of the Explorer window I wanted to scroll in Windows? It was doubly annoying if I had selected files as I’d have to click an empty area or CTRL click an already selected file to select that side of the window.

Well, there’s a simple solution. Alex Leonard found and blogged about Wizmouse. It simply does what I expect, it scrolls the window under my pointer, whether it’s focused or not.

Wonderful!

Windows screenshots on a Macbook Pro laptop

Creating a screenshot in Windows is normally simple. Press Print Screen, fire up paint and paste it in. However what do you do when you have a laptop keyboard without a PRT SCN button?

It’s rather simple actually, thanks macrumors people.

To create a screenshot on a Macbook Pro laptop press either fn+shift+F11 or fn+ALT+F11. The latter one grabs a single window. Fire up paint and CTRL-v those pixels in!

Xbox 360 vulnerability? No, just weak passwords!

If your Xbox Live account has been hacked chances are it’s because you used a weak password. According to this post xbox.com reveals if a hacker has found a legitimate email address by printing the following error:

The email address is or password is incorrect. Please try again.

After 8 attempts with a wrong password a CAPTCHA is shown but that can be easily circumvented.

Now, showing that error message makes the job of hacking accounts easier but if it wasn’t there you can be sure that login page would be (and is being) hit by dumb bots that stuff the login page with random emails and passwords. My blog gets hit by so many bots exploiting vulnerabilities for software that doesn’t even run on here that nothing surprises me any more about the intelligence of script kiddies.

It would be super if Microsoft used something like Steam Guard or at the very least put time limits on successive password checks but in the meantime what can you do?

  • Use Lass Pass or another password service and pick a strong password. Use a pass phrase, “talking heads is a great band”, “i wish i had super powers”, “use your own imagination”. They’re all a lot better than “abcdefg1” and a lot easier to remember! Connect a keyboard to your Xbox to type a long phrase in or you’ll be discouraged.
  • Limit the damage. Don’t add your credit card to Xbox Live. Sometimes you can buy an Xbox Live Gold subscription at half the price Micrsoft charges. Buy points cards if you want to buy stuff. Until recently it was hard to stop XBL auto renewing if you used a credit card.
  • Go live in a hole in the hills and play marbles with the mice.

My XBL Gold subscription ran out a few days ago so I’m back to being a silver member. Not too fussed as almost everyone I play online with has a PS3 or PC too. I’m left wondering why I need an Xbox 360 any more! I will make doubly sure that I have a strong password on the account.

Thanks Gavin for linking to that article, even if we do disagree about what a security hole is. 🙂

Microsoft, this video of Natal Natal doe…

Microsoft, this video of Natal Natal does not convince me to buy your new upgrade. After an exhausting I will not be jumping up and down, swaying side to side in the living room.

Check out the comments on that post, many more funny cynical responses.

Oh, Natal is now called Kinect, not Kinetic. After seeing a dozen headlines with the new name I still searched Youtube for “kinetic” and wondered where all the coverage was. I wonder if that’ll be a marketing problem?

First impressions of Halo: Reach

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Otpi5K1-0
Seananners

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK_Ao4cu2t4
Dead Pixel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo2NF4Gx9-g
Obviously Jesus

Machinima Respawn is full of Halo Reach videos, ish. The beta is due tomorrow and I will probably be pulling out my ODST disk to take part. The videos above remind me of Quake 3. The clean architecture, the futuristic setting, energy weapons. I’m showing my age now aren’t I?

Some more Halo: Reach links. A link dump really:

I wonder if those Halo 2 players are still playing?