random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: March 2010

Internet Footprint

The Internet Trail

The Internet Trail

An email arrives from a company you’ve never heard of telling you about a change to their user policy. It could very well have been spam, except that the details are actually correct for a change, and you’re not being offered a credit card, mortgage, or a million dollars from a Nigerian general. The email details alterations to a privacy policy you probably never read, particularly since the company name itself doesn’t register. You’ve just stumbled upon your Internet trail, crumbs you’ve scattered around the place registering here and there over the years.

But just how big is your Internet footprint? If you’re a conscientious user who goes out of their way to protect their information and avoid pointless trivia on the Web, it could be that you’ve only left a few grains behind you. But for the rest of us, those little titbits could very well be quite liberally scattered throughout the Internet, potentially accessible to just about anyone with the time and inclination. Whilst the content we’ve created ourselves might be relatively humble, today’s social web has ensured that all but the most camera shy can end up having their pictures online for virtually anyone to see, and references to us can be found with just a few simple searches. But our Internet footprint isn’t just limited to those relevant bits which appear when we’re Googled—which after all is as much dependent on the uniqueness of our names or the fields in which we work—but simply, how many little instances there are of us out there.

Fixing a Broken Network Printer

There’s one problem which was driving my parents nuts on XP for some time before we finally got around to finding a reasonable solution. For whatever reason, one of their computers insisted on automatically adding the shared network printer on the other machine as the default printer in the list. This regardless of whether we had already assigned a local default, and whether the network printer was already in the list.

Whilst that already caused some consternation when documents would be sent to the wrong machine, it was compounded by the fact that if the printer was offline at the time, Windows XP would spend 100% CPU time trying to find the damn thing, leaving the PC highly unresponsive until the print queue was manually cleared. Meaning the options were between remembering to change the printer on every print job, or forgetting and rebooting the machine in between.

Fortunately, we found the handy little script below on some forum or other (praise be to the original author). It stops Windows’ printer service, deletes any waiting print jobs, and then restarts the service. Copy the lines below into a batch file (or into a simple text file and change its extension to .bat) or alternatively download the same script as a file.

@echo off
echo Purging the print queue . . .
net stop Spooler
echo Deleting all print jobs . . .
ping localhost -n 4 > nul
del /q %SystemRoot%\system32\spool\printers\*.*
net start Spooler
echo Done!
ping localhost -n 4 > nul

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