Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Knowledge Base

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


While trying to fix a problem that had been preventing me from using the Offline Files feature of Windows XP, I saw repeated references to a command-line tool released by Microsoft designed specifically to work with Offline Files.

The first few sites that referenced the tool—called CSC Utility (csccmd.exe)—all pointed to a relevant Microsoft Knowledge Base article. Once there, I quickly realised why I saw so many people across the internet looking for the executable.

Microsoft developed and released the last version (1.0) of the CSC Utility as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools. That kit is easily available to download, but from what I read about my specific issues, only the follow-up version (1.1) would suffice.

For an unknown reason, Version 1.1 is only officially available from Microsoft Product Support, and getting it apparently involves contacting Microsoft and either demonstrating the file is necessary to solve a documented problem or paying for the "support call." Even then, it seems that often people's telephone messages go unanswered.

In any event, there was only one way that I wanted to solve this problem and the CSC tool was it. I started searching around specifically for a site offering the download. When I finally found one at megaupload.com, I discovered it was a porno pop-up, ad-laden hell hole.

Fortunately the download that resulted was a legitimate, virus-free copy of the CSC Utility Version 1.1. Obtaining a utility designed to tweak a major component of Windows should not be this difficult. I have no idea why they refuse to make it available for public download and instead link to the 1.0 version—beneath a disclaimer about how several features are only available with 1.1.

Of course within minutes of finally using the tool, my offline files were in order and working perfectly. It is completely aggravating to spend more time than necessary fixing something stupid in Windows. Save yourself the grief and aggravation and download CSCCMD 1.1. Convenient, no? Please do not link directly to the file, but instead send your friends here.

Client-Side Caching
Command-Line Options
CSCCMD (1.1)

by Microsoft

 
 
 
Download

 
 
 
18.5 KB

I figure while I am at it, why not pass along some other facts you may enjoy.
  • In the event your server-side share changes—which can include it being relocated, renamed or removed—and the Synchronization Manager fails to work because it complains about the modified share, use the csccmd /moveshare command to rename the share in the CSC cache.

  • If you use a redirected My Documents folder as I do, enabling Offline Files forces it and other system folders to automatically cache locally. You will see the ticked "Make Available Offline" option dimmed for My Documents, My Pictures and the other administratively assigned offline files. This is particularly annoying in my environment, where every document does not need to be accessible all the time.

    This one has a simple ending, though. Use the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) to enable a setting called "Do not automatically make redirected folders available offline." It is located here: User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Network > Offline Files. The same panel under Computer Configuration contains even more settings, including the administratively assigned offline files option.
  • Unlike some of the other folders Windows considers "special," the Offline Files cache (%WINDIR%\CSC) cannot be moved or redirected automatically. The official solution is to use the cachemov.exe utility from the Windows 2000 Resource Kit, but I crafted an alternative workaround.

    The freeware Windows junction creator and reparse point viewer—aptly named Junction—by Mark Russinovich is the perfect way to relocate your CSC cache to another local disk or partition. Use Junction to create a symbolic link in %WINDIR%\CSC pointing to your preferred folder. All requests for that original directory will be seamlessly redirected to the true location, transparent to the user and system. This sort of symbolic linking is popular among Linux/Apache web hosts who generally set www to redirect to public_html.
  • If things are really loused up, consider simply reinitializing the cache. This option will delete all offline files, reset the Offline Files database and clear the "Make Available Offline" settings. You can do this from the Offline Files tab in the Folder Options control panel applet. Press Control+Shift while clicking "Delete Files," then confirm your selection to begin the reinitialization. For Windows 7 and Vista, follow the steps in KB942974.

  • It is easy to bookmark the specific key within the Registry Editor, so if you intend to modify administratively assigned offline files often, I suggest doing it here: HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > NetCache > AssignedOfflineFolders.

  • Speaking of Registry Editor favourites, take them with you, share them with others and never lose them again by exporting this branch: HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Applets > Regedit > Favorites.

  • Sometimes when you use TweakUI, Windows will start displaying icons in sixteen color mode. If this happens, edit the Shell Icon BPP string to 16 and reboot. That key is here: HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Control Panel > Desktop > WindowMetrics.

  • If you would like to force Windows to use a UNC network location in lieu of installation media, change the Installation Sources and Source Path keys to the UNC where the Cabinet Files live. Those keys are here: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Setup.

  • The recently released Security Update for Windows XP (KB917537) may give you a hard time if you wisely do not have Internet Information Services installed. If you find this update installing repeatedly and appearing as a new update, create a zero byte file called asp.dll and save it in the inetsrv folder within %WINDIR%\System32. The next time you run Microsoft Update, the patch should stick. In the event it fails again, reboot your computer then scan for updates. A sign of success is the asp.dll file you created having grown in size to 361 KB from zero.


"Traces of two earlier buildings on a wall in old Montreal"
Like counting the rings in the trunk of an old tree, the photo of this Canadian building allows us an unusual yet compelling glimpse into the past.

Ernest and Bertram
Watch the eight minute short film that was pulled from release after a cease and desist from the Sesame Workshop legal team. [ via ]

Giant Bat-Eating Centipede
Holy shit! [ via ]

Save Flash Video (FLV)
Supports sites like YouTube and Google Video.

Free Player for Flash Video
FLV Player 1.3.3 is a standalone client for playing FLV videos.

.htaccess Cheat Sheet

Vote Side of Hashbrowns for America
"Featuring multi-media public service advertisements (PSAs) and a new Web site, www.PayAttention.org, the Vote campaign is designed to educate young adults about the ease and importance of voting in the 2006 midterm elections. This target audience, 18 to 24 years old, is the largest group of non-voters in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."

The Familiar Stranger

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


After completing a routine read-through of my bookmarks, I moved on to Wikipedia in search of a few topics I had read about and found interesting earlier. I am not entirely sure of the six degrees of separation involved, but I eventually found myself reading about the music industry.

After a few more hops, I came upon an Associated Press article from 09 July 2006. It stated that music album sales in the United States were down 4.2 percent (12 million albums) in the first half of 2006, while online music sales surged 77 percent during the same period.

Those are some interesting figures, considering we are regularly told that free (illegal) file sharing mediums are negatively impacting album sales. I would like to know if those unsold 12 million albums were actually purchased in the form of the 281 million singles or the 14 million full-length albums downloaded.

Regardless, the article's prominent header graphic—as inserted by the publisher, canada.com, where I happened to be reading the above—was the soundtrack album cover for the Disney Channel movie High School Musical. In a one sentence mention it is said this album was the best selling so far this year, pushing 2.6 million copies.

Back at Wikipedia, I browsed the page about this soundtrack whose music was apparently quite popular. At a glance, it appears to be exactly as you would expect: pop fluff for kids.

The "Mainstream success" segment of the page detailed music chart histories, online sales figures and other statistics. From these tables of data it popped out at me like a familiar stranger does, walking toward then past.

Listed as singer on multiple tracks was Andrew Seeley. It seemed possible that the person that popped into my mind could be one and the same. I searched for the name and in doing so discovered my original inclination was correct.

Many of the details are long washed away, but I remember when Andrew Seeley started at Lake Brantley High School. He made himself popularly known through his thespian performances and general sociality. I knew him mostly due to the close relationship between the Drama and Band departments, the latter of which I partook.

It was amusing to watch a pack of giddy sixteen year old girls frothing as the so-called hot newbie from Canada passed in the corridor. From our limited interaction, he seemed like a nice enough guy filled with motivation and budding talent. And a nice smile, as I recall.

Photo Credit: Andrew Seeley

Above: Remix of official promotional photograph.

Below: Junior yearbook picture, Lake Brantley High School, 1999

Andrew Seeley, Junior yearbook picture, Lake Brantley High School, 1999


It seems the exhibitions I witnessed were indeed a prelude to more, as he has done some Hollywood acting, released original music, performed a live tour and played a hand in several other ventures, including the disc that indirectly brought these memories to the surface.

I found it interesting to note that of the cited Lake Brantley performances in Andrew's IMDb biographyInto the Woods, Gypsy, Once Upon A Mattress, The Miracle Worker and The Merchant of Venice—I remember having seen them all. Not due to a secret love for stage shows, mind you, but in doing sound booth work and the support of my friends, both on stage and in the pit.

I suppose if someone can go from one red paperclip to a house in fourteen trades, I should not be shocked to randomly stumble upon someone I once knew, if only barely. I do find it refreshing to learn that some people are doing what they want, what they have wanted to do from an early age, and are succeeding.


The First Storm

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


I am starting to get the feeling like tropical cyclones have a bounty out on my head. Last year's hurricane barrage by Charlie, Dennis, Frances and Jeanne more than made up for the relative lack of tropical activity during the balance of my nearly seventeen years in the Sunshine State.

Then, just as I was moving to Tallahassee last year, Hurricane Katrina threatened the area but shifted course only a day or two before. Looking back on the events that followed that change in weather gives me some pause, realizing how things may have turned out had a Category Five hurricane made landfall the weekend I moved to town.

In all of those cases, luck was on my side. And now, only thirteen days into the official tropical season the first named storm of 2006, Tropical Storm Alberto, makes waves nearby. It currently looks to make landfall in the "Big Bend" region sometime early this morning, but some of the outer bands have already blown through the area.

Earlier tonight there were some gusty sustained winds and heavy rain that proceeded through the region for a good hour or so. Since then, the weather has been rather calm, with only light winds and residual precipitation peppering the area. I imagine that by the time I awaken tomorrow for work—which is still open according to the emergency status number—the situation may very well be different as Alberto will have moved inland.

Hopefully my luck with tropical cyclones did not end with the conclusion of the 2005 season.


UPDATE: 13 June 2006, 1807

The wind and rain continued overnight and through most of the day with some stronger bursts here and there. Overall, it has been a pleasant day with temperatures in the mid-seventies. Local news reported some trees and power lines were downed before dawn, but nothing so severe as to keep any roads closed.

Now the only thing to look forward to is the oppressive heat that we have been promised. The forecast from the National Weather Service has only this to say about the expected conditions Friday: Hot.

The Leeches

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


When I last changed hosting providers nearly four years ago, I made sure that my plan had room to grow. I wanted plenty of monthly data transfer, a decent chunk of hard drive space and various other bells and whistles. My industry friend Marty fixed me up well and thus I shall remain with TLC Web Enterprises indefinitely.

With ample features in hand, the current iteration of Mount Sutro took form and in its own way gained some popularity. Certainly there has always been more traffic from people using web and image search tools versus that from regular readers, but never disproportionately so.

That is, until January of this year rolled around. Between connectivity issues—which, aside from a few recent examples, have been fixed—and my lack of interest in writing for the site, regular updates have been notably infrequent in the time between then and now. I naturally expected to see a drop-off in overall traffic as a result.

When I checked the site logs in early February 2006, I was rather surprised to see January 2006 was the new record holder for data transfer used. Over ten and a half gigabytes of data passed from my server to the world that month.

These figures may seem small in comparison to hard drives you can purchase for $100 today or the amount of transfer seen by mainstream blogs and websites, but for my little operation I have to admit being a bit impressed.

February rolled through and with under eight gigs transferred, I assumed the expected slow down was occurring. While the hiatus continued, traffic did its normal ebb and flow, but kicking between nine and eleven gigabytes of transfer monthly instead of the usual six to nine.

I knew there must be a logical reason for all this so I set out to find it. You do not have be no Sherlock Holmes to figure out this mystery, either. A simple in-depth review of the log files told the story loudly and clearly.

Leeches.

The social cum media-frenzying phenomenon known as MySpace might be getting people's panties in a twist over the charge the networking site, popular with minors, is the unwilling accomplice to child exploitation, pedophilia and pornography. My gripes are a little different, as you might imagine.

First, and these are in no particular order, not since GeoCities has there been so impressive a centralized repository of ugly, unreadable, compliance-hating, auto play multimedia-filled sites. At least GeoCities users have the excuse of time, since the mid-nineties saw the web come into its own. I will take animated GIFs and <BLINK> tags over MySpace sites any day.

Second, as with other social networking sites like Friendster, after some initial amusement I find no real purpose or need for them. I maintain my own website so I can advertise the information I choose to advertise, without the help of any profiles or three page forms. Specific to MySpace, I am not at all interested in the daily ramblings of high school students, nor do I have a desire to meet other people on the basis of which American Idol star I may or may not prefer.

Third, embedded auto play multimedia sucks. Yes, I know I mentioned this item already, but it is so offensive I had to mention it again. It used to be cool to have music play on your pages, I feel mostly because MIDI technology was just getting to the point where commercially-available sound cards could adequately play those nifty rock band songs. Share all the music you want, but at least make me have to press play first. And if you cannot comply with that simple wish, at least stream me something decent.

Fourth, did you know that when MySpace was acquired by News Corporation, the terms of service contract was modified to include a clause (6:1) effectively giving MySpace and hence News unrestricted rights to "use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce, transmit and distribute" any and all content posted by users. Without having to pay for it, I might add. All this from a free service actively inviting bands and musicians to set-up a MySpace account and post their otherwise copyright protected lyrics and music.

Fifth, the leeches and yes, the main point.

Search engines have always been friendly to my site, but the multimedia searches can be deadly. As I posted more and the search engines indexed more, incoming traffic for and the leeching of images increased. At first I would check out the offending site and decide if I cared or not. Most often I did not if the site contained nothing objectionable and if it was personal or non-profit.

But the growing popularity of MySpace has served to exacerbate this issue. After recently reviewing my logs, I quickly concluded that although my downloadable assets for Sutro Tower and the MasterCard advert featuring Robert De Niro accounted for a noticeable portion of the increased data transfer, the majority of it was the result of leeching from MySpace.

One by one I identified the graphics most commonly hotlinked and decided on an appropriate bait and switch tactic. Instead of simply renaming the images and leaving "red x" placeholders on the leeches' pages, I knew I wanted to program a redirect so that an alternative image would instead be displayed. Further, I was going to use a public resource I (indirectly) support to host the replacement graphic, therefore achieving two goals: data transfer reduction and leech dissuasion.

Wanting to take the high road while also selecting a replacement image that would not be legally dubious, as my plan would affect countless minor's pages, I narrowed down my choices to one.

Seal of the President of the United States of America


I only wish I could have been there as the junior "webmasters" came to their site and found hero Johnny Cash replaced with that. Not to mention the proprietors and users of the forums and other sites I took action against.

Return visits to leech sites have shown most people have now removed the offending hyperlinks, but the Seal still decorates some Spaces. A picture of the Constitution was the runner-up, by the way. The Seal won in the end because of its size and dimensions.

The lesson here, kids, is to not leech images. Upload them to your own space. That is why they call it MySpace, after all. Are you given insufficient space? If so, you should complain! I think the $23.9 billion dollar father News should be able to swing an upgrade.


The Notice

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


Due to the recent use of the mtsutro.org domain name in spoofed e-mail headers and the subsequent deluge of "return to sender" reports from mail servers worldwide, any and all electronic mail sent to the mtsutro.org domain will bounce and never be delivered. This change is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until further notice.

See the Contact page for alternatives.


Photo Credit: Decoven, Inc.