For you geeks with Windows Vista and above for an OS… I made an IE9 countdown Desktop Gadget.  Save the .zip file as a .gadget file and open it to install the gadget. Hurry there is only an hour left…

Recipe

First things first… any good recipe starts with the ingredients. There are different ways to accomplish the same goal. This is what I used:

  1. Group policy Preferences – It was introduced with windows Vista/server 2008 (Works in 2003 Domain, We have 2003 Domain controllers). Read this http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731892(WS.10).aspx . Big picture edit group policies with Windows 7 using RSAT, Install Group policy preferences client on all windows XP and 2003 boxes (This is a windows update available through WSUS/Windows Update).  I use the group policy preferences to push out per user registry settings that the screen saver uses.
  2. SSMYPICS.scr Screen saver – This is part of Windows XP and the executable will run on windows 7.  You can load a directory up with pictures and point this screen saver at it and it will display pictures in the folder.

Background

In the before time we had to add pictures to a program that compiled a screen saver executable.  This executable was then placed on a network share.  We edited a group policy to point to this executable.  If one of the pictures changed we had to recompile the screen saver and give it a new name because the old executable was in use.  Then we had to edit the group policy again to point to the new executable.  Even more sinister than that this had to be done for multiple Hospitals….  The new way utilizes a screensaver that ships with Windows XP (ssmypics.scr) which can display pictures that are in a folder you specify.

How to make it work

The screen saver executable lives on a windows XP box at the following location

 C:\Windows\system32\ssmypics.scr

Here is how I have it configured

 

These settings are stored in the Users Registry… So I imported the registry settings into a Group Policy Preference



SlideshowScreensaver.reg
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Screen Saver.Slideshow]
“PaintInterval”=dword:00000000
“ChangeInterval”=dword:00001770
“DisplayFilename”=dword:00000000
“MaxScreenPercent”=dword:00000064
“DisableTransitions”=dword:00000000
“AllowStretching”=dword:00000001
“AllowKeyboardControl”=dword:00000001
“MaxFailedFiles”=dword:000003e8
“MaxSuccessfulFiles”=dword:00010000
“MaxDirectories”=dword:000000c8
“ImageDirectory”=\\\\server\\share

So then I set the screensaver executable to point to ssmypics.scr which I put in the same directory as my picture directory. You might, if you have a solely windows XP environment, want to point the executable to the local machine copy of the ssmypics.scr this way the executable is run locally and not across the network. Even more sinister than that you can use group policy preferences to copy the screensaver executable to the local computer so the version of windows you have won’t matter. 

So this now does not ever need to be changed.

You can swap out Pictures on the fly without pictures being locked.

I applied the above group policy to our workstation OU and enabled the group policy loopback policy (Merge) to apply the user policy.  This way the screen save does not apply when you log on to servers.  You can also create a deny apply this group policy group and add users to this group that complain that they don’t want the screensaver (Doctors).

I miss the puzzle game Tinker. Tinker was one of the few Windows Vista Ultimate Extras that you could download. Microsoft discontinued the ultimate extras when Windows 7 came out. So being a good PC boy I had upgraded all my Vista (Yuck) Boxes to Windows 7 (Awesome) and now I am without Tinker.

All hope is not lost though, I found Tinker and if you have an Xbox live account it’s free! You can find Tinker here on the Games for Windows site which in my humble opinion is a rip off of Valve’s Steam Gaming site. Well anyway you can get this great game for free and like Steam you can install the game on multiple PCs but you must logon to Games for Windows to play.

It seems that my name is too ordinary for people to spell correctly…  I know Neil is not a super common first name but it is common enough that most people have met or heard of a Neil.  Like Neil Diamond, Neil Young and Neil Armstrong.  The only two spellings I have seen are Neil (The correct one) and Neal (Not so correct but common).  Now let’s talk last name, “Clinch” is a word in the dictionary.  It is what you want your team to do at the end of the season just before playoffs.  People never get the last name right when you tell them Clinch they hear the more common Lynch.  I guess my little sister had enough of this as she Married Scott Lynch and became a Lynch.  Traitor!

I like to squash the misspelling of my name so that the misspelling doesn’t spread like a virus.  First someone misspells your name in an e-mail that someone else reads and thinks that is the correct spelling of you name then that get put on some phone list, database or blog…  The misspelling goes viral.

I’m going to Chicago for a Microsoft meeting to discuss how my company will redesign their Active Directory and Exchange infrastructure.  The corporate folks and the Microsoft people aren’t even trying to get my name right… OK they got the last name right…  Now I have seen Neil misspelled as Niel but I have never met a Biel.  Then there is Kathy Warren who really had her name butchered “Kethy Warrren”.  Kethy?  Three R’s in Warren?