Windows 10 – disable automatic updates

One of the more annoying things about Windows 10 (and there are many) is the inflexibility with updates.  Luckily, you can edit policy to your advantage here.

  • Open the policy editor by clicking the windows button and then typing in gpedit.msc (enter)
  • Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Updates
  • Double click Configure Automatic Updates to edit it.
  • Set it to Enable and choose 2 – Notify for download and notify for install

There you have it.  You haven’t prevented updates altogether, but at least you have some control over if/when they download and install.



Windows – Migrating Printers

At my POE we use virtual printers for all manner of file production.  It’s annoying.  What’s more annoying is when it’s time to upgrade a server using virtual printers.  Thankfully there’s a way to sorta kinda help the process, by sorta kinda easing the migration process.  The following screenshots are from Windows 2012 R2.  If you’re using a different Windows OS level your mileage may vary.  It’s my understanding that the titles of some of this differs by OS.

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pi-hole – Whitelisting Domains

Pi-hole is awesome, but sometimes it works too well.  For instance, my wife wants to watch the recipe videos on the Food Network site, and because of embedded ad content they get pi-holed.  Here’s how to whitelist domains:

First, you know that your pi-hole has a web interface, yes?  Point a browser to http://[thepiholeIPaddress]/admin/index.php to get to it.  From there you can check out the query log, which you’re gonna need.  If you find the log all full up and cumbersome, you can empty it.  Hop on your pi and, in a Terminal session, run:

sudo truncate /var/log/pihole.log --size 0

This will zero out the query log file.  Now use your browser to hit the site containing the data you want whitelisted.  You’re going to want to make sure that traffic other than your own is at a minimum while you do this, or you’re going to be seeing a lot of information in the log that isn’t applicable to the browsing you are doing.  Anyway, these days sites pull from a variety of domains, so you can’t just assume whitelisting the domain of the url will be sufficient.  For example, to get videos to work on the Food Network site I had to whitelist

Once the page has finished loading check the query log.  In it you’ll see both allowed domains and those that have been pi-holed.  Make a list of the holed domains; you’re going to have to add them your whitelist individually and then test to find the one you’re after.  To add a domain to the whitelist, open the whitelist (again in Terminal) in nano:

sudo nano /etc/pihole/whitelist.txt

Use your arrow keys to navigate to the bottom of the whitelist and then add your domain.  At this time, wildcards are not supported in this list.  Once you’ve added the domain, save the whitelist via ctrl+o.  Then open a second Terminal session and reload your pi-hole’s settings by executing the following:


Once reloading has completed refresh the page containing the data you’re trying to whitelist.  If you’ve achieved success, close your Terminal sessions (you can exit out of nano with ctrl+x) and call it a day.  If not, remove from the whitelist the domain you just added and move on to the next holed domain in your list.  Rinse and repeat until you see what you’re looking for.

Some people seem to like using the Whitelist Assistant Chrome extension when doing this.  I find pi-hole’s query log to be absolutely sufficient.



Acoustic guitar drying, cracking

I moved from a super humid place – Atlanta – to two super dry places – first Tempe, AZ and then Bend, OR.  The other day I pulled down my Martin, who is neglected over my Taylor parlor guitar, to practice slide and discovered that the back was splitting:


After first getting over my freakout about my precious (read: expensive) guitar cracking, I did what I always do and took to the intertoobs for answers.  I found a luthier discussion board and read about how they’d try to fix cracks by hydrating the instrument by bagging it with a wet sponge.  This, hopefully, would close the crack and allow for a surgical glue repair.  Guitar, bagged.


4 days later, this is the status of the crack:


Excellent news.  I’m going to keep it bagged for another week or so to see if the crack will close altogether.  Then I’ll remove the strings and see if I can reach into the soundhole to apply a bit of superglue from the inside, so I’m not potentially marring the outer finish.

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth

For years now, perhaps even more than a decade, I’ve had problems with my stomach.  Bubbles, cramps, swelling, pain, unpleasant bathroom issues ranging far beyond mere urgency.  At best it was distracting.  At worst, actually debilitating.  It cast a shadow on everyday life, and ruined what should have been good times.  Eating out made it worse.  Eating not-great food made it terrible.  Thus some of my worst bouts occurred while traveling, ultimately making vacations unpleasant.  Traveling across Europe should be fun, not uncomfortable and stressful.

Along the way I had a myriad of diagnosis.  IBS. Nervous stomach.  I had a variety of procedures to no avail, from ultrasounds to, eventually – when I finally became frightened enough to start wondering if I had cancer or Crohn’s – a colonoscopy (which cost an arm and a leg since my insurance is terrible and I had it done prior to the recommended age of 50).  Nothing.  “You must have some sort of food allergy,” said the gastroenterologist.

Sure.  But it must be an allergy to food in general then, because it doesn’t matter what I eat.

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Windows 7 with 2 NICs

Despite supposedly having no data caps, the other day my provider interrupted my surfing with a message stating that I’d downloaded an “excessive amount” and should contact them to upgrade my plan.  Interestingly, their website also doesn’t show any data caps or, for that matter, any plans for me to upgrade to.

I’m not real worried about it, but at the same time since I work full time remote I really need my intertoobs to work all the time.  Then I remembered that the vacation rental we manage next door to me has internet that rarely gets used.  Time to slap a wireless NIC on the server and push internet traffic through that router!

Doing so was easy.  I had a halfway decent USB wireless laying around.  I slapped it in, joined the next door wireless network, and then ran a route print:


The highlighted bit is the new NIC.  Above it is the wired NIC connecting the server to my local network.  You want the Metric on the NIC you want internet traffic flowing through to be the lowest.  Luckily mine defaulted to that.  If yours doesn’t do that you can manually set the Metric by navigating to the Advanced properties of the Network Adapters:


After that I simply removed the Gateway address from the properties of my wired LAN access NIC and voila – all my intertoobs were coming from next door while my LAN still had full access to my server.  In order to double check I logged into my router and disabled internet traffic for the server IP address.

I also installed a groovy little tool called Network Manager so I can watch the traffic:



Windows Sticky Notes

I admit it – I use Windows Sticky Notes.  I hate how unconfigurable it feels though.  The font is terrible, for instance.  Lucky you can change it with a reghack.


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts]
"Segoe Print (TrueType)"="consola.ttf"
"Segoe Print Bold (TrueType)"="consolab.ttf"

What’s happening here is, because the notes demand to use Segoe Print as the font, you’re changing what font Segoe Print actually is.  Replace the .ttfs with fonts of your choice.

There are also a myriad of shortcuts for modifying existing note text:

Ctrl+B – Bold text
Ctrl+I – Italic text
Ctrl+T – Strikethrough
Ctrl+U – Underlined text
Ctrl+Shift+L – Bulleted (press once) or Numbered (press twice) list
Ctrl+Shift+> – Increased text size
Ctrl+Shift+< – Decreased text size
Ctrl+A – Select all
Ctrl+Shift+A – Toggles all caps
Ctrl+L – Left aligns text
Ctrl+R – Right aligns text
Ctrl+E – Centers text
Ctrl+Shift+L – Small Alpha list (3rd), Capital Alpha list (4th), small roman (5th), Capital roman (6th)
Ctrl+1 – Single-space lines
Ctrl+2 – Double-space lines
Ctrl+5 – Set 1.5-line spacing
Ctrl+= – Subscript
Ctrl+Shift++ – Superscript

Pale Moon and HTTPS Everywhere

For reasons I won’t get into here, the EFF has decided for now not to support Pale Moon, which is my current browser of choice (sideplug:  Like Firefox but tired of it gobbling all your resources and crashing?  Pale Moon my friend).  The inability to install HTTPS Everywhere nearly had me leaving Pale Moon until I discovered that there’s a fork of it out there that works!  So use Pale Moon, and install Encrypted Web (and uBlock Origin).