Dropbox Doubles Referral Bonus and Ceiling

Dropbox is a great, easy-to-use service for automatically synchronizing files—documents, music, photos, video, whatever!—between computers and mobile devices. As well as being available on all your devices, your files are also backed up “in the cloud” and are available securely through the Dropbox website. The standard account includes 2GB of storage and is completely free. You can install the Dropbox client on as many computers and mobile devices as you wish.

Dropbox Logo

On your computer, Dropbox acts just like a regular folder. Drag in files and they’re automatically synchronized with the cloud and your other devices. That’s it! Dropbox does all the hard work in the background, keeping your files in sync and keeping backup copies when files are changed or deleted.

Dropbox allows you to earn additional free storage through referrals. If you’re already a Dropbox user, you’ll notice they doubled the referral bonus and ceiling (including retroactively for existing referrals). That means you now get 500MB per referral for up to 32 referrals (16GB additional space).

If you don’t already have Dropbox, get it now! If you use my referral link, you’ll get an extra 500MB right off the bat (meaning you’ll start with 2.5GB instead of two). You can also earn extra space for completing a few simple steps on their web site (taking the video your, inviting at least one friend, etc.).

I’ve been using Dropbox for the last two and a half years and I’m not sure I could get by without it now. If you haven’t tried Dropbox yet, try it now!

Impact on Smartphone Data Usage of Getting a WiFi Router that Works

I upgraded to a Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (WNDR4500) on 11/23/2011 because my (not that) old WNR3500 simply couldn’t maintain connections on mobile clients and Apple products.  The effect on my 3G data usage via my Sprint phone was dramatic:

 

I did try two other routers first:

Back in May I had tried an ASUS Black Diamond Dual-Band Wireless-N 600 Router (RT-N56U) briefly, but it ran super-hot and the settings required to make it compatible with the IPSEC VPNs I use resulted in noticeably slow throughput over the WAN port.  That went back within the 30-day return window.

With the holidays on the horizon, and the attendant flood of Apple devices that inevitably brings, in early November I became desperate enough to try the ZyXEL ZyWALL USG20W 802.11n Wireless Internet Security Firewall with 4 Gigabit LAN/DMZ Ports, 2 IPSec VPN, SSL VPN , and 3G WAN Support.  That required me to re-develop a level of expertise in TCP/IP networking that I hadn’t exhibited in years.  As much fun as that was, even with the help of ZyXEL tech support neither I nor they were ever able to get the unit to function the way I wanted (a main sticking point being the impossibility of bridging the wired and wireless networks while continuing to support the other functions of the router, in particular NAT loopback).  But what finally made me take it back was the horrendous WiFi coverage.  Maybe I’m just spoiled by MIMO, but the ZyXEL was essentially useless at WiFi—it would have required me to run a separate access point just to cover the whole house, and that’s not evening addressing the low throughput from the main unit.

The WNR3500 had worked well until the arrival of smartphones and Apples products in the house, so I decided to give NetGear another chance.  I’ve been completely satisfied with the WNDR4500, and going by the graph so has my smartphone.

Remote Shutdown for Windows 7/Vista that Really Works

I struggled a long time trying to get remote shutdown via the command line working in a Windows 7/Vista environment (specifically a Windows 7 machine attempting to remotely reboot or shutdown a Windows Vista machine). The shutdown.exe command line utility that worked fine under XP/2003 just didn’t work, usually giving an “Error 5,” which I gather is some kind of permissions issue.

As usual with one of these annoying, should-be-simple technical problems with Windows, SysInternals already has it all worked out for you. Their PsShutdown utility “just works.”  In my case the magic command line was:

psshutdown \\ComputerName -u UserName(OnRemoteMachine) -p Password(OnRemoteMachine) -s

SQL Server Upgrade – Transfering User Names and Passwords

When upgrading to a new version of SQL Server, moving the databases themselves is pretty straightforward–you can use either backup and restore, or detach and attach.  However, you’re likely to end up with orphaned users if you do this.  Recreating the users manually is tedious (especially when you consider tracking down and/or changing all the passwords) and may cause SID conflicts.  Fortunately, Microsoft provides a helper script in this knowledgebase article:

How to transfer the logins and the passwords between instances of SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008

Some things to be aware of:

  • You need to review and edit the output of this script as it will capture all logins, including some you likely don’t want to recreate (built-in accounts, Windows groups, plus “real” accounts that may be dead wood).
  • Even though the page specifically says

    “The steps in this article do not transfer the default database information for a particular login. This is because the default database may not always exist on server B. To define the default database for a login, use the ALTER LOGIN statement by passing in the login name and the default database as arguments.”

    the resulting CREATE LOGIN scripts do include the DEFAULT DATABASE parameter.  As they indicate above, this can cause problems if the database isn’t present.  I set most of mine back to “master.”

I run this, selectively, before restoring target databases and everything “just works.”  Used judiciously, it’s a real time-saver.

How to Show Removed Devices in Device Manager

Admit it, sometimes you uninstall hardware without removing the driver first. Sometimes the hardware just dies and Windows makes it “go away.” The problem is, the driver and configuration are still there, and if you were using the default Microsoft drivers, there’s no visible way to uninstall those.

Here’s a workaround:

  1. Obtain an administrative command prompt (Start|All Programs|Accessories, right click on Command Prompt and click Run as Administrator)
  2. At the command prompt, type or paste:
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
  3. Then type:
    devmgmt.msc
  4. This will pop up a normal-looking Device Manager, in the menu of which click View|Show Hidden Devices
  5. Expand the relevant part of the tree and (with care) uninstall away!

How to Connect Process ID to Application Pool in IIS

Under IIS6, you used to be able to run this .vbs script at the command line to list all the running app pools and view their Proc Ids:

c:\windows\system32\iisapp.vbs

That script isn’t shipped with IIS7, and it wouldn’t run anyway without modification and the “IIS6 Management Compatibility” installed.  Instead, you can use appcmd.exe to obtain similar information using this command line:

C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv\appcmd list wp

Note, you will need to run the command line as administrator and be in one of the directories where appcmd.exe esists.  I used the 32-bit example here, but on my 64-bit Windows 7 and Server 2008 machines, appcmd.exe exists in both of these directories and produces the same results:

C:\Windows\System32\inetsrv

C:\Windows\SysWOW64\inetsrv

Gmail “Safe Mode” – Log In with Labs Disabled

This morning, on first attempting to connect to gmail using  Chrome 4.0.223.16, I began experiencing this message:

You have been signed out of this account.

This may have happened automatically because another user signed in from the same browser. To continue using this account, you will need to sign in again. This is done to protect your account and ensure the privacy of information.

Upon clicking okay, I was immediately logged out of my account. Clearing cache worked to log in once, but the problem recurred upon subsequent log out-log in cycles. Per this thread at Google support, the answer was to start gmail in “safe mode” with labs disabled using this url:

http://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0

From there, I went into settings and turned off the “Super Stars” lab, though other users have reported the problem from other labs as well.

Update: The problem recurred, even with “Super Stars” turned off, so I disabled all Labs.