northben's blog

Site transfer and running Drupal on NearlyFreeSpeech.NET

I just transferred this site ( to www.nearlyfreespeech.NET webhosting!

I ran into a lot of trouble with PHP Safe_mode restrictions. I tried everything I could find on the web to no avail. So I caved in and set the site mode to PHP Flex, which does away with Safe_mode, and everything is fine now. It sounds like the site is less secure, but I don't know what else to do. And I found in the official PHP docs, Safe_mode has been depreciated and should not be relied on anymore. So maybe it doesn't really matter.

PowerShell script to find status of service on a remote computer


Here's a quick one-liner to retreive the status of a Windows service on a remote computer using Powershell. You don't need PowerShell remoting for this to work because it uses WMI.

This example uses the SNMP service, so just replace that text with the particular service you're looking for. Also replace remotecomputer with the name of the computer you are querying. If you remove '-computername remotecomputer' you will query your local computer.

How to Exclude Yourself from Emails you send to a Distribution List in Outlook

If you send a lot of emails to distribution lists that you also belong to, it can be annoying and unproductive to move those same emails from your inbox. However, with the Rules feature in Outlook, it is easy to have your computer do this for you.

Here's how:

Suppress prompt when deploying Office 2010 "Welcome to Microsoft Office 2010"

When you deploy Office 2010, users are prompted to make changes to "Use Recommended Settings", "Install Updates Only", or "Don't make changes" when they open Office 2010 for the first time. These relate to software updates for Microsoft Office, as well as the customer feedback program and other miscellaneous things.

Problem with Comments on my site


When I upgraded my site from Drupal version 6 to 7, something happened that caused some comments to go haywire. As this was many months ago, I do not have any backups. Unfortunately, I had to delete the comments.

Somehow, the body of some comments was removed from the field_data_comment_body table. Interestingly, the author and subject information was not deleted - it is stored in another table.

Excel print scaling is too small


If you're using Excel's "Scaling" feature to automatically size a spreadsheet to fit the dimensions of a printed page, you may have a problem where the page is printed much too small. Both print preview and the printed speadsheet do not fill the page, but instead appear as a small thumbnail or in miniature size rather than filling up all of the available space. This can be caused by the "print titles" feature in the page setup window.

Windows equivalent of hostname variable

I needed to get the network name of a computer through an environment variable. The "hostname" command gives this information, but it's not a system variable. The proper system variable for the dns name of a computer is %COMPUTERNAME%. That was easy!

List files and paths in a directory tree (including files in subdirectories)


Recently I needed to list all of the files in a large directory tree. Each line needed to include the full path to the file, and I didn't want to include the directories themselves in the list, just the files. Here's how I did it:

dir /a:-d /s /b > files.txt

The dir command, as you probably know, lists files in the current directory, but the default settings are not useful here - it does not include file path, for one thing.

SQL Convert datetime to just a date


Here is how to use the SQL convert function to extract just the date portion of a SQL datetime field.

convert(varchar(10), eventdate, 101)

It will result in something like this:


You can change the syntax slightly if you want a different date format. Here is the full documentation on the convert function:

Set Application Compatibility through the registry, across a network


Here's how to control Window's Application Compatibility settings through the registry. This is normally controlled by right-clicking on an executable, clicking on the Compatibility tab, and making a selection in the Compatibility mode area. However, you can easily control Application Compatibility for all computers in a domain or network environment through the registry.

The registry key is HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags


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