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Windows 10 – Testing applications safely in Windows sandbox

Windows 10 – Testing applications safely in Windows sandbox

Sometimes you just want to try a new application without messing up your Windows setup, or maybe you found an application online, and you’re not quite sure how sketchy the application is (with all the malware, viruses etc. these days).

In this article, I’ll show you how to use the sandbox functionality found in Windows 10, to safely test applications in a shielded (sandbox) environment.

Note: This only seems to be available for Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, as of version 1903, (it first became available in the Insider build 18305).

ConnectMeNow v3.0.7 released

ConnectMeNow v3.0.7 released

A new version (3.0.7) of ConnectMeNow, a tool designed to make mounting network shares easier under MacOS, has been released today.

In this new version, you will find features like:

  • Improved Wake On LAN (improvements specifically for certain NAS devices)
  • Mount on appear – which mounts a share once a server becomes available in the network (optional)
  • Mount on Network change – when changing network, ConnectMeNow will try to find your server automatically
  • Improved support for NFS and SSH

This version includes all change and updates found in the beta versions (3.0.6 build 146).

You can find the new version in the original “ConnectMeNow v3 – Mount Network Shares Quick and Easy on a Mac”  article.

Trim, Crop and Rotate Video with Handbrake

Trim, Crop and Rotate Video with Handbrake

These days where everybody is recording video with their smartphone, we occasionally run into the issue that the video needs to be rotated, and sometimes trimmed or cropped as well.

This all sounds pretty complicated, but with Handbrake (free – available for Windows, Linux and macOS), this is not all that hard to accomplish.

In this article: how to Trim, Crop and/or Rotate your videos.

Getting started with the ESP8266 as an Arduino replacement

Getting started with the ESP8266 as an Arduino replacement

In this article, I’ll show you how I did get started with an ESP8266, as a replacement for an Arduino, and they are dirt cheap!

The ESP8266, appears to have been sold as a shield for an Arduino, to provide WiFi functionality to an Arduino. Pretty cool!
But what is even cooler: For most applications you do not even need an Arduino, as the ESP8266 can run as a standalone microcontroller with WiFi on board, and is even more capable than most Arduinos.

This may sound odd, but after my first experiences with the ESP8266;
I’m beginning to wonder how often I’ll be using my Arduino Uno in the future. The little ESP8266 is so cool, faster, more powerful, and has more memory, at a ridiculous price of about $5. And all this in a smaller package with WiFi included!

VR Tips and tricks

VR Tips and tricks

After having had an Oculus Rift, and now an Oculus Quest, I’ve collected a few tips and tricks for playing in VR, which I’d like to share with others.
These are the tips and tricks I use for myself, but also when introducing folks to VR, so hopefully these tricks are useful for you as well …

Note : Even though this article is mostly based on the Oculus Quest, most of these tips and tricks will also apply to VR headsets from other brands.

Note : To show friends and family all about VR, I have dragged my HMDs (VR headsets) all over the place, even to different continents.
Especially the Oculus Quest is very suitable for carrying it around, since the Quest is just so easy to get started. Just put the Quest on your face, switch it on, and you’re good to go.
(unlike some other HMDs where you need to setup base-stations first, which takes a bit of time and aggravation)

Screenshots in SteamVR with your VR Controller (Oculus Quest)

Screenshots in SteamVR with your VR Controller (Oculus Quest)

One thing that has disappointed me, in VR in general, is how poorly applications and games seem to handle taking screenshots.
The user either has to jump through several hoops to get a mediocre screenshot, or the user has to blindly figure out where the heck his or her keyboard it, in order to press the screenshot button. Quite a poor user experience if you ask me.

The annoyance became even worse when I got Half-Life: Alyx (highly recommend it for VR players!) where I wanted to share screenshots of funny things I found or did in the game.

In this article, geared towards to Oculus Quest, I’ll show you how I managed to get SteamVR (!) managed to bind taking a screenshot, to long pressing the Joystick in the Left Controller of my Oculus Quest – anywhere in the game (or anywhere in SteamVR for that matter).

Note: This is a tweak/setting for SteamVR!
– it will very likely work with other SteamVR compatible HMD’s as well (eg. Valve Index, Oculus Rift, HTV Vive, etc, etc).
– but it will not work for  Oculus Quest native VR games – only for games and applications running in SteamVR.
– this is originally intended for use with the Oculus Quest since the standard method conflicts with assigned button functions.

This trick makes use of the excellent VR companion for SteamVR users: OpenVR-AdvancedSettings, a must have for all SteamVR users.

Half-Life: Alyx – Console Commands and Cheats

Half-Life: Alyx – Console Commands and Cheats

As most of you know, I do not regularly post articles that are related to specific games.
However, Half-Life: Alyx most certainly is an exception for many reasons.

Having played and loved all Half-Life games, growing up with them, and having an interest in VR games, “Half-Life: Alyx” was simply a MUST HAVE.
After playing the game from beginning to end, more than once, I can only say that this is the new gold standard for VR gaming.

Spoiler alert!
Before you start reading this:
I HIGHLY recommend you finish the game first!

Really, it is so worth it, and you would not want to spoil the game with some lame cheats.
Don’t get me wrong; Cheats can be fun after you finished the game and you’re ready to mess around in the game.

So be warned as this description may contain spoilers.

Bluetooth XBox One controller on a Mac

Bluetooth XBox One controller on a Mac

With the arrival of support for third party game controllers in macOS Catalina (10.15), we can now connect most certain game controllers to our Mac. In this article we look at Bluetooth enabled XBox One controller.

Once such a controller is paired with your Mac, you can use it with games that support controllers, like certain games on Steam, nVidia Geforce Now, Apple Arcade and potentially many more.

Note: Some of you may have read my older article on how to connect a XBox 350 controller to you Mac (2015). This method, and the XBox 360 controllers, are still working of course, but it is time for an update now that Catalina offers native support for certain controllers. Personally I like the newer XBox One controllers better anyway (especially the Elite models, even though these are not exactly cheap).

Delphi – Retrieve Corrupted Data from DBF Databases

Delphi – Retrieve Corrupted Data from DBF Databases

dBase files, and several “clones” of this format, have been used for decades, and this format is no stranger to developers who use environments like Delphi and Lazarus Pascal.

Sometimes however, we run into the issue that we cannot access our data and in this article, sponsored by Devart, show how you may recover your data with one of their great tools: UniDAC.

On that note: I have used their MyDAC (database access for MySQL) in the past to develop a full fledged LIMS and can only say that Devart delivers one of the best and most reliable database access components you can find.

Keep in mind that these components are commercial products.
However, almost all of them have full-featured Trial versions and free Express versions with limited functionality available for commercial development. I highly recommend them. Also note that quite a few Devart products are suitable for application development for other platforms, for example macOS.

Standard Resistor Values

Standard Resistor Values

In this article you’ll find an interactive table in which you can find the standard resistor values, as used in electronics, and defined by the IEC.
You’ll find the values for the E6, E12, E24, E48, E96 and E192 Series (or “preferred resistor values”) in this table.

This can be useful when trying to find a matching resistor value when having done some [electronics] calculations and you’re looking for a particular value.

Lazarus Pascal – Move Items to Trash for Windows, Linux and macOS

Lazarus Pascal – Move Items to Trash for Windows, Linux and macOS

In this short article I’ll show how I implemented a cross platform (Windows, Linux, macOS) function for Lazarus Pascal to move files or directories to the TrashCan or Recycle Bin.

Since it took me some figuring out, I figured; why not write it down so others may benefit from this as well.
For your convenience: You can also download the Lazarus Pascal unit here, which holds the function for macOS, Linux and macOS.

ConnectMeNow v3 – Mount Network Shares Quick and Easy on a Mac

ConnectMeNow v3 – Mount Network Shares Quick and Easy on a Mac

macOS is great – I really like it a lot – but one thing it doesn’t handle all that great is … network shares.

In this day and age a little weird to still see this, especially from a company like Apple. We are more network connected than ever before – at home, in school and at work. We have network shares on our computers, want to access company network shares, or have a dedicated file server or NAS (Network Attached Storage) to store our information or make our backups.

Unfortunately, it is still cumbersome under macOS X to connect to those “shares” (also known as mounted network “Volumes“).

In Finder, a server doesn’t always appear right away, we need to go through a list of shares on a given “server”, get confused if we need SMBCIFSFTPSSHWebDAVNFS or AFP, and I’m not even mentioning the need to enter a username and password on protected shares.

For this reason I created ConnectMeNow – initially just for personal use.
But the arrival of the 64 bit requirement, mandatory signed applications, and notarization requirements, and Catalina issues, my original old version was simply outdated.

So after months of work, I’d like to present ConnectMeNow v3, which hopefully makes working with shares easier for you as well.

SSH Login without a Password

SSH Login without a Password

In this article, I’ll show you how you can login to SSH (Secure Shell) more secure, without not using a password, by using SSH-keys.

SSH allows several types of services to connect securely (encrypted and such) to be used, but the most common one is Shell (command line) access.
It is mostly used as a much more secure replacement for Telnet, rlogin, rsh etc.

Quite often, when starting to use SSH, most users will use a username and password to get SSH access, but this not the most secure method.
More secure, and easier to use, is by using so called SSH-keys, and in this article I’ll try to explain as simple as possible how this works and how to get started with this.

ApplePi-Baker v2.2.0 release for Catalina

ApplePi-Baker v2.2.0 release for Catalina

We have just released ApplePi-Baker v2.2.0.
This version was released with macOS Catalina in mind.

The first release of macOS Catalina (10.15) came with some serious problems for applications like ApplePi-Baker and the likes (Etcher etc).
The “Full Disk Access” security setting seemed to have a bug, preventing reliable access to external disks.

After Apple released its first update (10.15.1) this bug seems to be resolved in a way.
Accessing external disks still comes with a few challenges, so when a disk is being selected, ApplePi-Baker will verify  if “Full Disk Access” works.
If not, a notification and explanation will be shown how to enable “Full Disk Access” for ApplePi-Baker.

Additionally, a small bug (leaving a temp file behind after a backup or restore in ~/tmp) has been resolved.
If partition resizing was used when restoring an image, the resized IMG will still remain, saving you the time to restore the same image again.

For downloads and comments:
Please go to the original article: ApplePi-Baker v2 – Backup & Restore SD cards, USB drives, etc. or look at the Downloads page.

MacOS – How to create bootable macOS install media

MacOS – How to create bootable macOS install media

In this article, I’ll show you the steps to create macOS install Media …

As most Mac users will know; each new macOS version comes with a few challenges. For some it’s nothing, for other it’s a disaster.

Catalina is one of the latter, a disaster for quite few amongst us, due to changed security rules and the lack of support of 32 bit applications.
Some of my favorite tools simply no longer work, and as a developer this makes me nervous when considering switching to the latest and greatest.

For this purpose I always create a virtual machine in VMWare Fusion, running the macOS version that I ran before the update.
This comes with challenges though, since Apple, in their infinite wisdom, does not simply provide macOS install media (eg. a DMG or ISO file) so you can install another version of macOS. We have to create our own.

Note: Here I describe how to create macOS install media, either as a bootable USB stick to do a fully clean macOS install for your Mac, or a DMG file, for example to setup a virtual machine.

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