4 Ways to Disable Autoplay in Windows XP

Autoplay can helpfully automatically do things when you insert a disc, but it can get your computer rootkitted or just be plain annoying. If you want to turn it off, there are several ways of doing it.

  1. To disable autorun just temporarily, hold down the Shift key as you insert a CD.
  2. Go into Device Manager (Control Panel→System→Hardware→Device Manager), select your disc drive, go into its properties, and uncheck “Auto Insert Notification.”
  3. If the last step doesn’t work (you don’t see such a checkbox), try downloading Tweak UI, a useful tool from Microsoft for manipulating many Windows settings. In the disc drive settings (My Computer→Autoplay→Drives), uncheck the letters for which you do not want Autoplay on.
  4. If you don’t wish to download and install Tweak UI, you can use the Group Policy Editor on Windows XP Pro (this tool is slightly dangerous if used incorrectly).  Run “gpedit.msc” and navigate to the System templates folder (Computer Configuration→Administrative Templates→System) and open up the “Turn off Autoplay” template.  Change it from “Not Configured” to “Enabled,” which should turn off AutoPlay.

Playing ASS/SSA with Fontconfig in MPlayer on Windows

MPlayer has support for many file formats, most importantly Matroska (.mkv) containers which are common for watching anime. Often, subbers will use custom, nice-looking fonts that they embed into the Matroska containers. However, to use these fonts, MPlayer relies on Fontconfig. Without Fontconfig, MPlayer can’t use custom fonts.

First of all, you don’t have Fontconfig on your Windows system. You’ll need the Cygwin version of Fontconfig, that you can get through Cygwin’s installer. (I will omit the details in this write-up.)

The configuration files that come with Cygwin Fontconfig don’t work. You’ll have to edit /etc/fonts/font.conf and manually add your Windows font directory to the list.

Second of all, most MPlayer builds for Windows are not compiled with Fontconfig support. Short of compiling it yourself, you can find fresh builds that do have Fontconfig support at this binary build website.

Again, you might have to edit the fonts.conf in your mplayer/mplayer directory. You might have to run MPlayer from the directory that it’s in for it to work. If Fontconfig has a problem, MPlayer will only say something like “MPlayer interrupted by signal 11 in module: filter_video.” To confirm that Fontconfig is the problem, run MPlayer with Fontconfig off and see if it works.

Edit: The easiest way to get nice subtitle support is to use the actively developed CCCP Alternative MPlayer Build, that requires only a couple external DLLs (included).

HP dv6605 dv6000 XP drivers

I got a new HP dv6605 Pavilion laptop, but it came with Vista. I reimaged it with XP MCE from an older Pavilion onto it, only to find out that none of my drivers worked.

HP doesn’t provide XP drivers for this laptop – only Vista drivers. There are three main things that need drivers: the video card (nVidia GeForce Go 7150M), the chipset (nForce 650M), and wireless adapter (Broadcom something-or-other). I’ve got all but the wireless working so far (I’ll try that next).
For the video card, theoretically any new ForceWare driver release should work because nVidia uses a unified driver architecture (UDA), but the ForceWare installers are picky about which cards they’ll install for. I used the 156.65 drivers from laptopvideo2go.com. Newer drivers will probably work if you get modified INFs.

Edit:  Newer video card drivers don’t work, at least for me.  I tried a couple drivers from the 16x.xx series and it only made Windows unbootable.
The nForce chipset, which includes Ethernet and stuff, was trickier. Somebody reported limited success with using Vista drivers from HP in XP, but Ethernet didn’t work. I found out that nForce drivers from Acer worked for my HP laptop, including ethernet.

For sound, the Conexant HD Audio is the same as HP’s other models. I was able to go into Device Manager and install the driver by choosing to select for a list. The Conexant HD Audio driver was under “Sound … controllers,” “Conexant,” “Conexant HD Audio.” It was in the list probably because it was leftover from my last laptop. You can also try downloading the driver from HP’s website – try searching for the “dv6110us” model and getting drivers from there. The audio instantly worked after installing the driver.
When I tackle the Broadcom wireless, I’ll update this.

Edit: I got my wi-fi working using the Broadcom drivers from the Acer website mentioned above (link again). They’ll be named “Broadcom Wireless LAN Driver” when you install it. There’s an interesting side effect to these drivers: the light by the wi-fi switch will be orange when it is off, slowly blink blue and orange when it’s on but not connected, and rapidly blink when data is transmitted.

LaTeX MLA Style With Title Page

So I was typesetting one day…

… and my English teacher wanted us to use a title page on our essay. I was using the mla-paper package in LaTeX, but that package only allowed for a standard MLA paper with the heading on the first page. I needed a title page, and so I hacked mla.sty into mlawithtitle.sty which has a title page instead. It’s not a very pretty hack, but it allows for a separate title page and that’s what matters to me.
Get it at http://files.aztekera.com/schoolwork/mlawithtitle.sty.

Usage notes are in the file itself.

Explorer Thumbnails in the Registry

Windows Explorer will show thumbnails for certain file types when browsing a folder. The information for which file types to show a thumbnail for and what DLL to use is stored in the registry.

HKCR\ – shows a list of file extensions.  Underneath each file extension’s key may be another key called ShellEx that contains thumbnail information, although this is not always true.  For example, .png contains no ShellEx key, but still shows thumbnails in Explorer.
Underneath the ShellEx key should be another key named “{BB2E617C-0920-11d1-9A0B-00C04FC2D6C1}”, whose default value is another class ID (the long string of numbers surrounded by curly brackets).  That class ID points to something in HKCR\CLSID\{whatever}.  That key will contain a reference to the DLL used for thumbnails for that file type.

Alongside “{BB2E617C-0920-11d1-9A0B-00C04FC2D6C1}” may be another key called “{FFB699E0-306A-11d3-8BD1-00104B6F7516}”, which for me seems to be an nVidia key for something-or-another.

It was me. 'Twas I.

“I” is a subject pronoun.  “Me” is an object pronoun.  ‘K?


I hit the car.
The car hit me.

Right?  “I” goes before a verb, and “me” goes after a verb.

But… if somebody asks who ate the cake, you would be tempted to say, “It was me.”  Nope.  Wrong.  Fail.

As any grammar nazi would tell you, that sentence is more properly rendered, “It was I.  I stole the cake.”  Duh.  How could you not know that pronouns after a “to be” verb have to be in the subject form?

“Who stole the 2000 presidential election?”

“It was him he!”

Don’t you love English?

Registered services on Windows

When a program registers itself as a service (that will constantly run in the background and does not show up in the Task Manager, FYI), it puts an entry under HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ in the registry.  If you have a service that won’t go away, you can try deleting its entry from the registry.  As always, make sure you have a backup.

Fixing fork and sshd in cygwin

I decided to go crazy and arm my computer with all I needed to access everything from any Internet-connected computer, including stuff like VNC.  Naturally, I wanted this to be secure, both to prevent unauthorized access and to maintain my privacy.

I figured the best way to do it would be to set up a SSH server on my computer.  This way, I could not only login remotely but also tunnel ports securely through the Internet.  Because my computer runs Windows, I had installed Cygwin so I had have a Unix environment at my disposal.  (My Mac already has the Unix stuff on there, and it’s somewhat analagous to Cygwin).  I followed the easy instructions on how to setup sshd on Cygwin.

However, when I tried to login with “ssh localhost”, it kept giving me the error:

ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host

A Google search showed me that several people had the same error, but they didn’t have the same problem as I did.

I looked in /var/log/sshd.log and saw stuff like:

sshd 3844 fork: child -1 – died waiting for longjmp before initialization, retry 0, exit code 0xC0000022, errno 11

for every time that I tried to connect.  Apparently, sshd couldn’t fork new processes.  This pointed to some internal errors.

Rebaseall didn’t help.  Neither did disabling Windows Firewall.  Nor did downgrading openssh.

However, cygcheck showed me the problem.

Running “cygcheck -s | less”, it gave me a warning about having multiple cygwin1.dll’s in my PATHs.

Google Desktop showed me I had no less than 4 copies cygwin1.dll on my computer that were all different versions and were in my PATH (where the system looks for executibles).  Bad, bad, bad.  I either deleted or replaced the other cygwin1.dlls.

Fixed.  Just make sure you only have one cygwin1.dll.

Windows Vista vs. Google Desktop

You want the cool sidebar and instant search features of Windows Vista, but you don’t want to put your computer through surgery to upgrade the OS?

Just install Google Desktop.  It’s that easy.  Google Desktop has its own sidebar that closely resembles Vista’s sidebar, and will index your files and do find-as-you-type searching.

I installed Google Desktop (GDS) on my desktop computer, and upgraded my laptop to Windows Vista.  The conclusion?  Windows Vista isn’t worth paying money for.


Desktop search is a hot feature.  The ability to instantly find what you were thinking for is a huge convenience.  Both Vista and GDS let me start a program just by typing the first few letters.  If I wanted to run Audacity, I could hit the Start Button (or Double-Ctrl in GDS) and type “AUD” and it would show Audacity.

Google Desktop is very extendable, with many plugins to index filetypes ranging from OpenDocument to Autodesk CAD files.  Microsoft’s search technology is extended in the same way by iFilters (even XP’s indexing service).


Both GDS and Vista have similar looking sidebars and cool alpha-transparency.  Here, I tend to find that Google has better gadgets than Vista, especially first-party gadgets.  The Google gadgets seemed more useful and had more options.  Since I use Google Calendar and GMail, those gadgets came in handy.  However, I had some problems with Google’s RSS reader, while Vista’s worked fine (although it requires you to set it up in IE7).

Lost in translation

CAD file formats are a mess.

I’m trying to get a part made in Autodesk Inventor into Mastercam.

IGES is borked. Half the surfaces don’t come in.

SAT has a version mismatch or something, and it refuses to import.

I don’t have a license for STEP import, apparently, and STL (even if it isn’t NURBS) is messed up like IGES.

This is obviously an attempt by Autodesk to dominate the world.