Monday, May 12, 2014

Viewing TCP/UDP Information on Windows

I occasionally need to quickly identify which ports are being used on a Windows-based system. This post briefly summarizes the two approaches I typically use to do this.

The netstat tool is a command-line tool that can be run in the "Command Prompt". I typically like to use the netstat options -n, -a, and -o. The available netstat commands can be viewed on the command line by running "netstate/?"

When I want the ability to easily sort the output, the graphical tool TCPView is handy. Although this often requires a separate download the first time it is run, it is a small tool that is quickly downloaded and easily installed by unzipping it. The executable can then be run by clicking on Tcpview.exe. The graphical tool displays (and allows sorting by) process names, process identifiers (PIDs), protocols, local and remote addresses, local and remote port numbers, and states.

TCPView is provided by the wholly-owned Microsoft subsidiary Windows Sysinternals as part of its Networking Utilities.

When a particular process ID is needed, it can be found through Windows's Task Manager or on the command line with the command tasklist.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Windows Vista User Profile Service Failed

I recently could not login to my account on an old laptop with Windows Vista and was presented with this message: "The User Profile Service service failed the logon. User profile cannot be loaded." Fortunately, this was easily remedied by following the steps outlined in Microsoft Article 947215 ("You receive a 'The User Profile Service failed the logon' error message"). That article outlines three methods for resolving the issue (fixing the user account profile, copying data to different profile, and deleting the error SID and creating a new profile).

I used the first approach (fixing the user account profile) by following the steps on that article:

  1. Restart machine and enter "Safe Mode"
    • Typically done by clicking F8 while restarting and selecting "Safe Mode"
  2. Run the Registry Editor (regedit)
    • The registry can optionally be backed up before editing it.
  3. Access "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList" folder and then the "S-1-5" subfolders with really long names and containing ProfileImagePath in registry
  4. Rename the folder with .bak to not have that extension and rename the one that started without extenson to have .bak extension.
  5. Change RefCount's value to zero and change State's value to 0.

After following those steps (which are explained in more detail and illustrated with screen snapshots in the Microsoft Article 947215), closing Registry Editor, and restarting the laptop, I was able to log in again. I took this opportunity to create a separate Administrator account as advised in this Microsoft Community Question.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Multi-Player Minecraft on XBox 360

It was a bit more involved than I would have guessed to get multi-player Minecraft on a single local television (split screen) working for us on the XBox 360, so I thought I'd write this blog post summarizing what we needed to do to get it to work.

Two online forums together (Xbox Forum thread Cannot play minecraft on multiplayer setting. and Ask.com thread How do i play 2 player split screen in minecraft Xbox 360 edition?) describe what needs to be done to play multi-player Minecraft.

  1. Connect XBox 360 directly to television with HDMI cable (would probably work through high definition receiver, but we did not try that yet).
  2. Change general display settings in XBox 360 (Settings -> System -> Console Settings -> Display -> HDTV Settings and select desired resolution (or choose "Optimal Resolution" to let XBox 360 decide) to specify high definition display setting (720 or better).
  3. Make sure that Split Screen option is enabled in Minecraft settings. You also need to make sure that, for local multiple player mode on the same television, the "Online game" option is not checked.
  4. Each player should connect their remote control to the console (meaning hold the center button down until the remote control and console are synched) and once each remote control is associated with the console, the players can each press "Start" to enter the game. Note that for local multi-player games, only a Local XBox Live account is required. An XBox Live Gold or XBox Live Silver account is required for online multi-player play.

With the XBox 360 console connected to the television with an HDMI cable, with the XBox 360 Console display settings configured for high definition, and with the appropriate options set in the Minecraft game itself ("Online game" unchecked and "Split Screen" checked), Minecraft worked on a split screen for multiple players. When two players played, the screen could be split horizontally or vertically.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Colorado National Monument: Canyon Rim Trail

I was surprised at the impressive sights and magnitude of Colorado National Monument when I first visited it. The idea of it being a national monument rather than a national park led to significantly lesser expectations of what it has to offer. In my opinion, Colorado National Monument has the "outstanding scenic feature or natural phenomena" that is part of the distinction between national park and national monument.

In this post, I include some brief text about and photographs taken from the Colorado National Monument's Canyon Rim Trail.

The previous photograph was taken very near the Canyon Rim Trail trail head which is very close to the Saddlehorn Visitor Center.

The Saddlehorn Vistor Center and Canyon Rim Trail are much closer to the Fruita Entrance (west entrance) of the Colorado National Monument than to the Grand Junction Entrance (east entrance).

The 23-mile Rim Rock Drive connects the Fruita entrance of Colorado National Monument to the Grand Junction entrance. It is described as, "one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West" that "offers redrock canyons, crisp blue skies, and glorious views along the way for motorists and bicyclists." I also agree with that page's assessment that "the road is inseparable from the identity of the Monument."

Many of the trails at Colorado National Monument are short and easy and many are easily accessible from Rim Rock Drive. Canyon Rim Trail is very accessible, especially from the Fruita entrance, and provides spectacular views of some of the canyon's most notable features.

There has been recent renewed interest in making this a national park as described in the 2 April 2014 Denver Post article Colorado National Monument in new effort to become national park. The current proposal is to name it Rim Rock Canyons National Park.

Colorado National Monument is located near Grand Junction and Fruita in western Colorado off of Interstate 70. Photographs are not nearly as dramatic as seeing Colorado National Monument firsthand.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Rifle Falls

Rifle Falls is advertised as "Colorado's only 80-foot triple waterfall" and it's an impressive sight. Many features of Rifle Falls make it visually impressive. These include the existence of three falls, the length of the three falls, the ability to get up close and even behind the falls, the clear water, the lush green vegetation, and the limestone caverns.

The Colorado Parks & Wildlife page for Rifle Falls states, "Rifle Falls State Park's lush vegetation and waterfalls have attracted photographers and movie crews from around the country who come to capture the area's unique scenery."

It is a ridiculously easy "hike" from the closest parking lot to the falls themselves and some slippery-looking stairs make a relatively easy climb to a terrace on which one can walk to the side of and behind the waterfalls.

We visited Rifle Falls (Colorado) State Park in late March and this seems like one of the best times to visit. The weather is moderate (not the cold of January and February and not the heat of the summer months) and there were no crowds. In fact, we had the triple waterfall all to our selves for most of the time we were there. The parking lot next to falls is very small, but that wasn't an issue with ours being the only vehicle in it when we got there.

The admission price for Rifle Falls State Park is modest ($7 at the time of this writing for a single vehicle).

Although Rifle State Park has things to do other than viewing the falls (camping, hiking, etc.), the falls themselves are obviously the main attraction at this state park.

Rifle Falls can be accessed from the Rifle exit (#90) of Interstate 70. After driving through the City of Rifle on Colorado Highway 13 to a right turn onto Colorado State Highway 325, there is nearly a ten-mile drive on Highway 325 with a relatively low speed limit (about 30 miles per hour much of the way), but with lots to see (Rifle Creek Golf Course, Rifle Gap State Park, and beautiful mountain countryside scenery).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

UltraViolet and Roku

For the past couple of years, I have been adding movie titles to my DECE UltraViolet Digital Collection via the UltraViolet "digital copy" included with many Blu-ray/DVD combo packs that I have purchased. During that same time period, my usage of Roku has increased significantly to stream various content from sources such as NetFlix and Amazon Prime to my television. In this post, I look at two of the currently available options for streaming UltraViolet titles to devices via Roku.

VUDU

VUDU has a Roku channel through which movies can be streamed via the Roku device. This can include movies purchased or rented via VUDU, but also includes moves in one's UltraViolet account because an UltraViolet account can be linked to a VUDU account.

Instructions for setting up the VUDU channel on Roku are available at the VUDU site. One can also pay a small fee per disc ($2 as of this writing) to have owned DVDs/Blu-rays available via VUDU streaming. At the time of this writing, people signing up for VUDU can also add five free HDX movie titles (from a small set of movies) to their VUDU collection.

Target Ticket

Another option for streaming movies in one's UltraViolet collection through Roku is Target Ticket. The Redeem UltraViolet: Target Ticket page describes redeeming UltraViolet movie offers often included with new DVD/Blu-ray purchases via Target Ticket. Roku features a Target Ticket channel, making it easy to stream UltraViolet movies via the Roku using that Target Ticket channel.

As of this writing, newly opened Target Ticket accounts come with a promotion of "10 free UltraViolet titles" (standard definition) that can be selected from a small set of available titles.

Conclusion

For those with UltraViolet accounts and with Roku devices, both VUDU and Target Ticket provide easy-to-use Roku channels for streaming movies in UltraViolets accounts to televisions via Roku.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sense & Sensibility: The Musical

I am generally not a fan of the various adaptations of Jane Austen's books (including Sense and Sensibility). I have a difficult time keeping the characters in Jane Austen's books differentiated in my mind. It seems to me that Darcy is the leading man in all adaptations of all her books and their similar stories blend together in my mind into seemingly the same story re-told several times. With this background and thinking in mind, I purchased tickets for my wife and I to see Sense & Sensibility: The Musical primarily for her and was somewhat concerned that I would be bored throughout. I am pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised at how much more enjoyable this production was than the other adaptations I have seen.

Although I am generally not a big fan of adaptations of Jane Austen novels, I have found many musicals that I enjoy. It turns out that I much prefer Jane Austen's novels adapted in musical format as compared to straight dramatic acting. In this post, I'll briefly look at what made this adaptation, for me, more generally entertaining.

I enjoyed the music in Sense & Sensibility: The Musical. The songs were catchy and appropriate for the storyline. I also liked that fact that the songs and musical performances displaced some of the seemingly endless gossip and conversation of most Jane Austen adaptations. I realized I much prefer music conveying some of the same types of information to dialog conveying all of it. There was still enough dialog to convey the important points of the story and there was still dramatic acting, but it was not overdone to the point of boredom.

Sense & Sensibility: The Musical (Denver Center Theatre Company) was performed in The Stage theater of the Denver Performing Arts Complex. This production made great use of set movement and people movement to keep things lively. Props and actors came up through the stage floor and down into the stage floor. Props and people moved in and out of the stage from the left and from the right and to and from the audience. It also didn't hurt that we had front-row seats in a theater in which there really are no bad seats.

Sense & Sensibility: The Musical is premiering in Denver as a full production after director Marcia Milgrom Dodge held a workshop premier of it at the Colorado New Play Summit that was met with enthusiasm. In the Applause program for this production (Volume XXIV, Number 7, March-May 2013), Sylvie Drake writes, "It's never easy to take a sprawling novel and reduce it to its essentials. Some of the the Austen characters aren't in the musical, yet their absence takes nothing away from the central story." I preferred this focus on the essence.

Sense & Sensibility: The Musical has been a hit in Denver. The original shows have sold out and an extra show has been added (Sunday, May 26). Critical reviews have also been very positive. Denver Post Theater Critic Lisa Kennedy calls it "a gorgeous new musical" and awards it 3 1/2 stars (out of 4). She highlights some of the things that impressed me most including the creative use of the trap doors in the stage flow, the huge paintings setting the backdrop for scenes, and the grassy sloping hill. CBS4's Critic At Large Greg Moody calls it "simply delightful" and focuses on other aspects that I enjoyed: its simplicity and avoiding overdoing the acting, singing, or stage sets. Sandy MacDonald, for TheaterMania.com, articulates what I think many of us who have seen the production feel: "Clearly Sense & Sensibility is a Broadway hopeful, and it's to be fervently hoped that this superb rendering finds its way there soon."

I (somewhat surprisingly) truly enjoyed Sense & Sensibility: The Musical. The music was good, the acting was good, and I found the story engaging. I cannot recall any other Jane Austen adaptation that I could have called "engaging" for me. I think anyone in my situation (generally likes certain musicals but not necessarily a fan of Jane Austen adaptations) would likely enjoy this production. I enjoyed it so much that I now realize that Edward, not Darcy, is a leading man in the story.