Adobe Reader 11 – Thumbnails Fix

On 2012/12/21, in SysAdmin, by Greg Woods

This fix still works on Adobe Reader 11 on Windows 8 64bit. I use it at work and home. It makes browsing large collections of PDF files a lot easier.







This bug is now 5 1/2 years old!




Cloud Syncing Important Files – Flickr

On 2012/12/19, in SysAdmin, by Greg Woods

Being cheap, I can’t bring myself to subscribe to a premium cloud sync solution such as Dropbox.  So I’ve been looking for synced backup for a few key areas.

Stuff that must be backed up and synced

  • Music collection
  • Books (PDFs)
  • Documents
  • Family photos and videos

Music Collection

Is currently backed up on SkyDrive, since I have a Windows Phone, and adding an extra 20Gb to give me total of 45Gb only cost me £6 per year. However, it makes no sense to physically store my music online when my copy of “Muse – The 2nd Law” is the same as everybody else’s. So for the future I will be looking at a paid for “music match” type of service. When I’ve decided which one, I’ll let you know.


My large collection of PDFs also sits on SkyDrive. It will likely stay there as long as I have a Windows Mobile


Again, SkyDrive for the moment though if I ever go back to Android, it’ll go back to Google Drive. My software development stuff is on my free Dropbox account.

 Photos and Videos

This is the largest collection of stuff, and will likely grow the fastest, so it is important to have a really cheap-per-gigabyte service.

I used Picasa Web for a while, but then it all got too integrated into google plus, and I couldn’t be bothered with the privacy settings and circles. I also had some storage space on google’s old price structure which is awesome, and they will honour the old price as long as I keep paying it. The problem is that it is associated with an account I’m moving away from, and it’s hassle to use one login for Picasa / Google Plus and another for everything else. So I’ll probably let the ultra cheap storage lapse.

I almost went with SkyDrive again, as the space is very well priced, but then noticed that Flickr Pro – which I’d always dismissed as being for professional photographers, was cheap, and allows unlimited photo uploads. The only restriction is that videos must be under 90 seconds long and under 500Mb each. I doubt I have many videos over those limits, but I’ll have to double check, and squirrel backups of those somewhere else.

To make Flickr a true backup solution, I’ve also purchased photoSync for $6 which automatically syncs a folder to Flickr  (unfortunately it syncs a folder two-levels down from the one you choose to sync – which is very annoying). I’m currently testing, so have yet to see how well it handles 75Gb of pictures and video.

I’m sure my online backup strategy will change over time, as improved services and lower pricing appears. I’ll keep you posted


My secondhand laptop was supplied with Windows Vista Home Premium – though I’ve always run it with an MSDN copy of Windows 7, and more recently Windows 8. However, after reading carefully the small print of the licence agreement, it turns out that I wasn’t completely legal in doing this. You have to be using the PC exclusively for software development to be legit… as far as I can tell.

So, when I saw the opportunity to upgrade my legitimate Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 8 Pro, for the princely sum of £24.99, I had to go for it.

The problem is that in order to get to my download (which I don’t really need), and the Product Key (which I do need), is the Upgrade Assistant. This app checks that the operating system you are running qualifies for the upgrade. My problem is that I’m already running Win8, and don’t want to wipe it, then install Vista, then have to upgrade it to Win8 again. I tried the process using a virtual machine, but I still needed a Vista OEM disc, but I  don’t have one, as Acer preloaded the OS onto the hard disk.

Here’s my slightly “irregular” solution

  • Download a Vista Home Premium torrent (told you it was irregular) – Unfortunately, unadulterated iso files are hard to find, the ones with activation “workarounds” are well seeded, so I got one of those.
  • Create a new Virtual Box VM, with 1024Mb RAM (any less and the upgrade advisor fails)
  • Mount the Vista  iso on the VM, Install Vista
  • When prmoted, use the genuine Product Key from the Certificate of Authenticity stuck to the PC
  • The online activation appears to have been crippled on this iso – you are supposed to use a very naughty program included on the iso to trick the OS into believing it is activated. Do NOT use this, you need to be genuinely activated to proceed
  • Search for ‘Activation’ in the Vista Start Menu, and launch the wizard
  • Although the online activation is crippled, you can still be able to use the Automated Telephone Activation service. You dial a freephone number, type in some numbers, get some numbers back, enter them into the wizard. Hey presto, activated legitimately.
  • Run the Windows  8 Upgrade Assistant, pass all the checks, hand over your credit card details
  • Start the download and get a shiny new Product Key
  • Now to apply the new licence key to my already installed Win8 Pro (MSDN Subscriber)
    • Open an elevated command prompt, type (with your new product key)
    • slmgr.vbs /ipk 12345-12345-12345-12345-12345
    • Win8 will activate automatically
  • Job done, the VM can be deleted
  • Even though I had no need for the upgrade download, it’s still wise to save it. You get an option to save an iso or save to USB disk.

The downloaded file appears not to care about whether you are upgrading or performing a fresh install. I tested a new instalation on another new VM, and the installation process proceeded up to the entering Product Key dialog without complaining about there being no qualifying OS present. This is good news. I didn’t try  to input the product key obviously, as I had used it already, but I’m confident that if I had to perform a clean install on this laptop, I wouldn’t have to go through the trauma of installing Windows Vista first.

I hope this info encourages more people to use those COA stickers to upgrade to Windows 8 for £25. Note: offer is “for a limited time” – which I’m sure I read somewhere is Jan 2013.


RaspberryPi Setup – Miscellaneous Notes

On 2012/08/24, in Linux, RaspberryPi, by Greg Woods

For basic setup, see

Remote Access – Graphical

 sudo apt-get install xrdp

The remote desktop to that IP address. Full LXDE desktop shown, even though ‘startx’ was never run on the Pi itself. The remote desktop operates at the resolution of the connecting computer.

Screen Resolution and other stuff

Remote Access – SSH

already enabled in Wheezy

Console Font Sizes

sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup
sudo reboot