Virtual Coolness!

Most large software releases – operating systems, office suites and anything else big enough to use an entire CD-ROM disc – are transferred legally (or illegally) in the form of disk images. These are single files (which usually have the extension .ISO, hence “ISO file) that contain the entire contents of the CD or DVD disc with extra “metadata” included – such as the discs’ name and boot information, if required. This allows the end-user to put a blank disc in their drive, open his or her software burning program and click “Burn Image” and end up with a CD full of stuff in just a few minutes. In a nutshell, I can create a CD-ROM named “Pictures” with a variety of digital images on it, create an .ISO file of the disc that I can distribute to anyone, who can then create a million discs just like mine – or send it on to someone else who can then make a million copies of their own.

This is not new. The Linux operating system has been distributed this way for ages. Microsoft rarely mails actual CDs of beta software to testers these days and instead opts to allow users to download ISOs of the beta program – like Windows Server 2008 for example. But what good are the image files aside from allowing users to make flawless copies of CD or DVD discs?

Continue reading “Virtual Coolness!”

Helpful Outlook Shortcuts

Microsoft Outlook is much more than just an email program. Outlook has robust contact, calendaring and tasking capabilities and even has a built-in function to create electronic Post-It notes. However, if all you need to do is create a quick note, it’s kind of a pain to have to open Outlook and click New > Note, especially if your office computer is a PII-300. Fortunately, there’s a way that you can create a new Contact, Appointment, Task, Note, Journal Entry or even email without having to open Outlook itself. The following trick works with Outlook 2000 and higher:

First of all, you need to find the path to OUTLOOK.EXE on your system. With Office 2003, this would typically be C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\OUTLOOK.EXE but you or your IT guy might have installed Office to a different location. To find out for sure, click on Start > Search and look for the file named OUTLOOK.EXE. Once you know the path, write it down.

Continue reading “Helpful Outlook Shortcuts”

Installing Office & That Stupid Product Key

I have to install Office all the time at my job. One thing I absolutely hate about it is entering the stupid product key. If you have to install Office on a regular basis there’s an easy way to have the Office installer automatically insert the CD key for you. All you need to do is insert the Office CD-ROM in your computer and edit the SETUP.INI file that’s located in the root of the Office installation CD. When you first open the INI file, you’ll see a section that looks like this:

;[Options]
; If a value is present, the [Options] section gives the values of properties to apply to
; this installation. Specify them in the format:
; PropName=PropValue
; Remember to uncomment both the section name and the value names.
;
;USERNAME=Licensed User

Delete the semi-colon in front of the [Options] header and add the value PIDKEY= along with your CD-key like so:

[Options]
; If a value is present, the [Options] section gives the values of properties to apply to
; this installation. Specify them in the format:
; PropName=PropValue
; Remember to uncomment both the section name and the value names.
;
;USERNAME=Licensed User
PIDKEY=M36WHQTFRRJYMYXXXXXXXXXXX

Save the edited INI file on your desktop (or Office network share, if you do network installations. If you go this route, you’re done). All you need to do next is burn a copy of the Office CD with the edited SETUP.INI file and the next time you install Office the CD key will automagically be filled in for you.

For more information, click here.