[TipJar] Removing zip integration from Windows Explorer

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Zip integration was introduced starting Windows XP which enables the Windows Explorer to treat zip archives as a normal directory. This allows users to visit the content structure of the archive without depending on an external application like Winzip or extracting the content.

The downside of this integration is that Windows Explorer needs to finish reading all of the zip archives in the directory being visited before the directory contents are listed. This can cause a significant performance slowdown if there are many or huge zip files in the directory.

To disable the zip integration, the following command can be invoked (requires admin privileges):

regsvr32 /u zipfldr

The command above will clear all zip file associations. If you have Winzip installed, launch a new instance and Winzip will prompt if you want to restore the association. Select the ‘Yes‘ option otherwise zip archives will not be handled properly when double-clicked from Windows Explorer.

If another archiver utility is used, look around the preference page for the association options if the prompt doesnt show at the startup of the the utility.

NOTES:

  • If Winzip was configured to not show the prompt above, the associations can be done from the Tools->Configuration->System menu.
  • If you are using a different application for handling archives (e.g. WinRar, 7zip, etc.), explore it’s configuration window or refer to the manual.
  • The command “regsvr32 zipfldr” will restore the zip integration of Windows Explorer.
  • BONUS: Dump Winzip and switch to 7zip. It supports more archive types, achieves significantly better compression, and best of all it is Open Source and free!

[TipJar] Before you flick me off…

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Windows Explorer suddenly died and you are left with a bunch of application windows open. Before you perform a hard reboot by flicking off the switch, here are a few tips to enable the system to cleanly recover or reboot. These are all assuming that the system is still responsive.

Restart Windows Explorer

The Windows taskbar is actually handled by an instance of Windows Explorer. To launch a new instance, the following may be done:

  • Press “Alt+Tab” to cycle to an open command terminal. Execute the command “explorer” from there.
  • Press “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” and press the “Task Manager” button to launch the task manager. Navigate to the Applications tab and use the “New Task…” button to execute the “explorer” command.

If the mouse is also not responsive, you can use the “Tab” button to navigate the controls in the dialog windows.

Restart Windows

If the new Windows Explorer instance also refuses to function, a soft boot of the operating system would be in order. Since the “Start->Logoff” menu will also be inaccessible, try using the shutdown command to restart the machine.

  • Press “Alt+Tab” to cycle to an open command terminal. Execute the command “shutdown -r” from there.
  • Press “Ctrl+Alt+Delete” and press the “Task Manager” button to launch the task manager. Navigate to the Applications tab and use the “New Task…” button to execute the “shutdown -r” command.

The shutdown command also has a graphical interface if you prefer to use a Window to shutdown a window. Invoke the command “shutdown –i” to launch the GUI.

If all else fails

A hard boot is the only remaining option. Try pressing and holding the power-off button for a few seconds to invoke the motherboard’s power-down feature. If this still doesn’t work then go for the last resort of pulling the plug.

[TipJar] Freeing up disk space in Windows

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If you need to free storage space in your C:\ drive, here are the following files that are *relatively* safe to remove. See notes and disclaimer below.

  • Log files placed in log directories. Consult the application manual or your friendly neighborhood techie if you are in doubt.
  • Files with the “BAK” or “BACK” extensions. These are usually temporary files created by applications performing actions that physically alter the files. Evaluate if you still need the backup prior to removal.
  • Files with names starting with the tilde (~) symbol. These are temporarily files created by some applications (notably MS Office) that it failed to remove after the file was closed.
  • Zip files created to send whole directories via email. These should ideally be deleted after sending but for some reason they were left there. 🙂
  • [May require elevated privileges] Contents of the “%SYSTEMROOT%\Temp” directory. Delete as much of the files you can but there will be some file not available for removal as they are currently in use.
  • Contents of the “%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temp” directory. Delete as much of the files as you can but there will be some not available for removal as they are currently in use.
  • [May require elevated privileges] Directories in “%SYSTEMROOT%” that follows the format “[identifier]$”. These are information required to uninstall Official Windows patches.
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    • DO NOT REMOVE directories that do not follow the format above.

Notes and Mandatory Disclaimer:

  • As this tip deals with deleting of files, the information is intended for educational purposes only. Please think twice about permanently removing files (shift+delete, removing from the recycle bin). Use the information above at your own risk.
  • To know where your %SYSTEMROOT% and %USERPROFILE% directories are, execute the command echo “%SYSTEMROOT%” and echo “%USERPROFILE%” in a command window.
  • When removing uninstall information for Windows patches, consider leaving behind folders with “Date Modified” values of at most one month prior to the current date. The probability of uninstalling patches installed at older dates becomes small if the machine is in constant use.
  • Some files may require elevated privileges that are not granted to normal users. If this is the case and you need to free up space, seek assistance from your workstation administrator.

Installing RTC 2.0 on a Windows Server 2003 machine

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Installing RTC 2.0 client on the Win2003 machine provided by our customer is proving to be a challenge of patience and futility. I spent the better half of the day trying everything I can think of but:

– Using the bundled launchpad doesnt do anything: everything just quits without any warning or error.
– Invoking the launchpad using the parameters in the autorun.inf file () doesnt work.
– Invoking launchpad\launchpad.bat terminates with a wrong variable expansion.
– Invoking the various installer executable inside the win32 sub-directory produces a “Missing file install.xml” error and then will show the Installation Manager window. Unfortunately it cannot install anything even if the preference shows the repository to the RTC 2.0 extracted files are detected as “connected”.

I know the installer works because we have installed it fine on our WinXP workstations. The md5sum of the file in the Win2003 machine matches the one in our XP workstations.

Ready to give up and log a RTC bug, I did some more fiddling to gather more information and tried to download the web install even if it is going to be painful installing RTC on a slow and erratic connection. I got the same results.

Then I noticed that there were lots of files named install-[something].xml in the win32 directory but no install.xml file. An idea hit me and created a copy of the “install-client.xml” and renamed it to “install.xml”. I then executed the win32\install.exe and everything installed as expected.

And that concludes a whole-day wrangling on getting RTC 2.0 installed in the Win2003 server. Sometimes the best solutions are really those that hide under our noses. 🙁

ciao!

Looping in Windows batch script

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We have a Rational Team Concert process that is executed by a scheduled task. The task tries to download the code from a server that unfortunately does act up from time to time during the middle of the download process. RTC currently does not have a retry function so the result needs to be manually checked and the process be restarted. Its not convenient so I created a batch loop in order to minimize the human interaction.

Below is the base script that will retry the operation up to the figure specified in the attempts variable. The script uses the ping command to effect a delay between the retry attempts. For what it is worht I am releasing it under Creative Commons just for the sake of attribution. 🙂


REM
REM Function: A sample batch script on how to retry a utility or another batch script that fails intermittently.
REM
REM Author: ramfree17
REM Email: ramfree17@gmail.com
REM
REM License under: Creative Commons Attribution v3.0 Unported [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/]
REM

@echo off

set attempts=10
set counter=0

call :load_func

goto done

:load_func
set /a counter+=1
echo Attempt %counter% out of %attempts%

if %counter% GTR %attempts% goto :eof

C:\ibm\sdp\scmtools\eclipse\scm load "TestWS" -r "https://someserver.com/jazz" -u "testUser" -d "d:\Workspace\rtc" -f -P [password]

REM Check the result. 0 is successful.
if %ERRORLEVEL% NEQ 0 ( ping -n 10 google.com
call :load_func)

goto :eof

:error_section
echo. ERROR: Unable to perform the action. Please see the log if any.

:done
echo exiting sample script.

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