fping (Windows) – Download the last version.

November 10th, 2017

Hmm… two posts in a row about stuff I’ve used for years that have now gone offline. There’s a statement here about the so called longevity of things in the digital era. Hey, looking at the calendar widget at the right of this blog, it just hit 10 years of age!

fping, apparently short for “Fast Pinger”, is a really handy tool I use when I want a simple way to monitor an IP address over a period of hours or days. A ping response implies that at least the Internet connection and router/firewall at the remote location are up – so any claimed problems would be further downstream. The built in ping in Windows does not have a date or time stamp, so it isn’t useful for longer term tracking. And a lot of intermittent problems really do need to be monitored over periods of time.

e.g. fping google.com -D -T -l -c -L F:\temp\log.txt

will get you results something like this (on screen and in the text file):

2017/11/10 17:13:57.780 : Reply[1] from google.com: bytes=32 time=42.6 ms TTL=56
2017/11/10 17:13:58.824 : Reply[2] from google.com: bytes=32 time=43.1 ms TTL=56
2017/11/10 17:13:59.869 : Reply[3] from google.com: bytes=32 time=43.1 ms TTL=56

There are a ton of other options… but, I haven’t played with them much.

Originally from http://www.kwakkelflap.com (which is now just serving ads). By Wouter Dhondt – Thanks Wouter!

I haven’t been able to find any new address for the tool, so, I’ve decided to host a copy.

This is the latest version that I could find (using archive.org from September 2015): fping300.zip

Not to be confused with fping on Linux (Unix?) which is entirely different.

RIP yi.org?

September 29th, 2017

My very first host name was a free dynamic host name provided by the good folks behind yi.org. It was a classic story line, kid with his first always-on internet connection (cable, later ADSL) wants to host a web page on the world wide web! This ran well for me for well over a decade… until today.

I don’t even recall how I ended up with this free service, they were one of the first, but probably not the first dynamic host name provider. I suspect I just liked that “yi.org” was many characters shorter than the alternatives.

Unfortunately, as best as I can tell, the site has been shut down. My best guess, based on the snapshots available from archive.org, is that sometime in 2015 it all went away.

Apparently, they have graciously maintained DNS service for the host names that were in their system (I suspect updates have been disabled for a while). I wouldn’t have noticed that the site was gone if the static IP address for my little site finally had to be revised.

Long ago I deprecated that host name in favour of a lotus-land.ca address (of which I have control); however, I still type the shorter “yi.org” address often.

RIP yi.org, and thanks for all the great lookups!

Fido Fail… Where is that email invoice notification?

May 26th, 2017

So, my fears of paperless billing have struck again. My Fido email invoice notification did not come in last week. I only happened to realize this while processing my BC Hydro (hard copy) invoice.

No, it’s not in my SPAM folder, nor is it in my trash. The Fido customer website seems to have had a major update, so I’m betting it is related.

I hope not too many people get burned by this one!

Brother Network Scanning Installation Error – InstallNetworkDriver

February 19th, 2017

I recently had to set up a Brother DCP-L2540DW. For whatever reason, on one Windows 7 Pro machine, the installer would not complete. I got various error messages, all with InstallNetworkDriver in the description, some coded IS034 and IS052.

The printer worked out of the box with a USB cable. But I wanted to move it to a networked connection. This required the proprietary Brother software to get the network scanning to work.

The official Brother support page, The error message “IS052 InstallNetworkDriver” appears when installing the MFL-Pro Suite from the CD-ROM or the Full Driver & Software Package is downloaded from the “Download” section.  didn’t help. Neither did random results from Google.

In the end, I ended up installing under a different administrative account!

The user account I had been using had full administrative permissions… but it just didn’t work. I suspect it’s my use of EFS encryption on multiple of my user folders, or maybe some weird conflict with the networking setup in my day to day user account, or something weird involving the virtual machines that I sometimes run, or maybe with the multitude of programs and devices that I end up installing or uninstalling via my account.

Playing around with HTML5 ads with Google AdWords built in Google Web Designer

December 18th, 2015

I had to build a relatively simple HTML5 ad for the main client this week. I had previously built Flash advertisements, but even that was a few years ago.

This was sadly a frustrating experience, especially since Flash ads (which in end user terms are basically the same) have been around for over a decade.

I will not go into too much detail, perhaps, I’ll backfill this post in the future. I wanted to write down a few notes while this pain was still fresh in my mind.

Google Web Designer (GWD) is the preferred way to build HTML5 ads for Google AdWords. The sad thing is they don’t need to invent anything here, just copy programs that we’ve used to build Flash ads for years. Some notes on this “beta” product.

  • It will install without complaint on Windows Vista. It will NOT work properly though, many features fail SILENTLY on Vista. Admittedly, Google only claims Windows 7 compatibility – I was working over RDP on one of the spare machines in the office –  I didn’t even realize it was running Vista rather than Windows 7. The “Swap Image” and problems in the asset library come to mind.
  • Don’t even get me started on the quirks in the UI. I never could figure out how to move an object with the mouse, rather than create a transform. I ended up entering “pixel” values into the X and Y fields with the keyboard.
  • I couldn’t find a way to export a frame of the animation, for, you know, the JPG failover image that the majority of ad networks require for users that disable animated ads.
  • Misleading “template” choices. My first attempt at building an ad I picked one of the 300×250 templates that mentioned Google and something about remarketing. In the end, this caused me grief. My final file was not compatible with the standard AdWords upload… something about it being custom (forgot to write the exact error down). I eventually rebuilt the simple ad without a template, using the Google ‘environment’.
  • Resizing a file to switch from a rectangle to a leaderboard ad? Yeah, not easy. Actually, I never confirmed that I got this working – I may try again next week.

Google AdWords issues…

  • I use Inkscape for a lot of vector art work. GWD seems to use these SVG files fine in local previews, but uploading the “publish locally” zip file from GWD to AdWords failed in all my attempts. Worse, it failed with this completely misleading error: “Invalid file format. Make sure you are using a supported file format (.JPEG, .JPG, .PNG, .GIF, .ZIP or .SWF) and that your file is not corrupted.” I was using text that had been converted to paths, but I later tested with just an oval and rectangle. In the end? I made precisely sized PNG files. It feels so old fashioned, and I’ll be really annoyed when I have to resize the ad.

HTML5 Ad Notes

  • No, you do not need to include a “clickTag” with HTML5 on AdWords. This is not as easy to figure out as it should be.