Category Archives: 2834

Vista requiring ctrl-alt-del before login

help_ctrlaltdel So you want to tell Vista to require Ctrl-Alt-Del before you can logon. Just like you had in previous versions of Windows. And it’s easy to do, you just have to find the proper dialog box, like the one below. You tick the checkbox, and everything is done.

Now, this dialog box should be easier to find, and I’ll happily be told how to get to it normally…advanceduseraccounts

But if you search Windows Help for “ctrl-alt-del”, you’ll get a link to a page which takes you to a dialog box that lets you set this option. In the dialog, it’s on the Advanced Tab, at the bottom. If you can’t find it in the help, you can just run NetplWiz.exe – that will open it for you too.

I honestly can’t find any other way of opening this dialog box. But this dialog is definitely the place to set the option. I’ve asked Rocky Heckman (of Microsoft) how to get to this really-useful-dialog, and hopefully he’ll have something for me in the next day or so. Any of you readers know how to do it?

Oh, and the reason why you might want this enabled is that you should make sure that you don’t have something asking for your Windows password unless that thing is Windows. The Ctrl-Alt-Del combo will always force Windows to jump out of whatever it’s running, so that you won’t ever give your password away.

sys.database_files and sys.master_files (rather than sys.sysfiles)

Whenever there are changes, people can be slow to embrace them. One I’ve come across recently is that looking in sysfiles is no longer the best way of getting information about your database files. sys.database_files will tell you a lot more about them, and give you much nicer ways of filtering them. So for example, if you want a list of the log files for your database, try:

select * from sys.database_files where type = 1

And sys.master_files will list them for the whole system. So it becomes really easy to look at the state of things from within T-SQL.

For more information on these, check out and

Now go and make yourself a Vista Sidebar gadget (or use PowerGadgets to do it really easily) to show you the size of your log files (or whatever). Have it update every hour, sitting alongside those gadgets which tell you how nice the Adelaide weather is and show you pictures of the blue skies in Australia.

Cricket gadget

Being English, I’m finding this Ashes series quite depressing. I updated the Wikipedia site to say that Australia had won the series 3-0, but took no joy in doing so. It’s not often you get to update Wikipedia with information about a live event – but this time I did.

I’ve been following the cricket by either listening to the radio, watching a TV-stream, or keeping half an eye on the cricinfo site which updates the score in the title of a browser window. Doesn’t work so well now that tabbed browsing is all the rage, but it’s still useful. Not as useful as having a Vista sidebar gadget do it for me though. So one day when I was at home during a test (must’ve been Perth), I played around at making a gadget that would display the cricket score. I could get the score easily enough by just putting a http-request in to the cricinfo site and pulling out the title. I had it displaying happily for a few minutes, and set about making it look nicer and making some sort of a settings bar to be able to follow whichever match was of the most interest, when it just stopped working. I guess cricinfo have something to detect screen-scraping which then stops the page being served. When you look at the page in a browser, it redirects to a framed version, and I guess there is something to make sure that the framed version is requested (along with all the right adverts) with an appropriate frequency compared to the page which contains the score.

At this point I stopped trying… I had other things to do like gardening.

Today I see that Darren is asking the ABC for a cricket gadget. I think cricinfo could provide one too, and provide some competition here. It would be so simple for them to put together… alternatively, they could provide a web service that presented the information and let the rest of the world put it together (along with gadgets, RSS feeds of game milestones, etc), but I imagine that like most sports scores, there are licensing issues involved.

Wacom Tablet on multiple screens

I got a Wacom Tablet recently. One of those USB devices which lets you use a pen instead of a mouse. It’s really cool in all kinds of ways, but I typically use it in mouse-mode, not in pen-mode. In mouse-mode, I have to drag the cursor around with the pen, just like I would with a mouse. In pen-mode, each point of the tablet corresponds to a point on the screen, so you go straight to the right area of the screen. But there are issues with this.

For starters, I’m part of the crowd that sees massive value in using multiple screens for development. I only have two, but I have colleagues who use three. In pen-mode, the tablet tries to make its panel correspond to all of those screens. So if I’m using a 1600×2400 workspace, or my colleague is using 4800×1200, then this elongated rectangle gets squeezed into the squarish area, and any writing I do is stretched in the opposite way. That’s a major pain!

So what I’m hoping Wacom can do is to make a utility which allows you to switch between areas of the screen. This could also help for the times when you have a larger resolution and want to spend time only in a quarter of it. I know there are zoom functions available, but on the screen thing, it would be nice to have a button on the pen (or on the tablet, I don’t care) to be able to switch between screens. Have some little visible indicator to tell me which screen the pen corresponds to at the time, and a nice fast response to switching. Then I’ll feel much more comfortable in pen-mode! If you let me define where ‘virtual screens’ actually are (so that in areas where I frequently want more detail I can really easily switch into them), then that would be even better.

I do have to say that I love my tablet. It’s great for drawing anything. In Vista I can use it with full inking capability, as if it were a Tablet PC. I’m not about to throw out my keyboard, but it’s still good. I just need my handwriting to get more visible!