Game Shortcut Manager Released

Game Shortcut Manager Icon

Game Shortcut Manager is a FREE and Open Source Windows application to allow you to place URL links on your Start Menu and Task Bar, as Windows 10 currently does not allow you to pin them to these locations.

Currently there is no way of adding these links to the Start Menu and Taskbar, while still launching via the correct platform. This means that Overlays, tracking of Play Time, and other information is not available to the game’s platform. Launching the game or application via the EXE file will not do this. This is where Game Shortcut Manager comes in.

This tool is designed to to let you put standard URLs, Steam, Epic, UPlay, and Twitch URLs on the Windows Start Menu, and Task Bar.

Basically, you can add a link to any standard URL, Game or App to the Start Menu and Taskbar, while still using the correct platform to launch the URL / Game / Application.

For more information and to download the latest version, visit the Game Shortcut Manager Page

The Best way to Name Photo Files, and Why

So, like most people, you have a heap of photos stored in a folder somewhere on your device / computer. You have finally decided to organise them into some sort of structure, because you are tired of searching through them all each time you want to find a particular photo. You may have even named a few with the people in them, or where it was taken, or when, but the idea of doing this to all of your photos is very daunting.

[screenshot of a folder full of photos coming soon]

Summary

TLDR; Too Long, Didn’t Read

Name your files this way for personal pictures:
YYYY-MM-DD_HH.MM.SS_Location/Event_Subjects

Name your files this way for professional use:
Customer_Job_ YYYY-MM-DD_HH.MM.SS_Subjects

Name your files this way for corporate use:
Department_Purpose_ YYYY-MM-DD_HH.MM.SS_Subjects

Work out How You Want to Access Your Photos

Are you an amateur photographer, like most of us, who has a lot of photos of family, children, friends, pets, and holidays etc? Are you taking photos for business use, and need to organise these photos differently? Whatever your purpose and reason, think about how you would like to be able to find those photos.

e.g. For personal photos you may want to look at them by the date they were taken, as you know roughly when your last holiday was. For business or professional photography, you may need to look up photos for your clients, regardless of when the photos were taken.

Generally, regardless of how you choose to organise your files for a given purpose, you should follow this rule of thumb: Start with the most general information, and get more specific. Think of each of these pieces of information in the file name as a group – a way of keeping similar photos together.

e.g. You have a photo of your puppy on her first trip to the beach while on holidays in North Queensland. The most general piece of information would be the date and time – the year, month, day, then hour and minute the photo was taken. Then, because you may have visited a few locations that day, you may want to use the name of the beach or the town where the beach is located. Finally, you probably took photos of a few people, places, and scenes while you were there, so you would want to know what or who was in each photo.

Look at the File Names of the Photos

Chances are, your files are already named with the date and time they were taken. Most digital cameras and smart phones name photos with this information. In my photo folders, I have some fairly awkwardly named photos called things along the line of IMG_20190117_223222.jpg, 20181110_221229.jpg, 01112009007.jpg, and even DSCF0651.JPG.

If you look closer at the first 3 file names above, you may notice that they contain the date and time information of when the photo is taken. The first two show the date and then the time, separated with an underscore. The date and time are backwards to us westerners, using the format of YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS. YYYY = 4 digit year; MM = the 2 digit month number, DD = the 2 digit day; HH = 2 digit hour; MM = 2 digit minute; and finally SS = the 2 digit second.

The third file name is a bit more tricky to decipher at first glance, but is in the format of HHMMYYYYMMDD.

The last one is pretty useless, and doesn’t have any information except to say its an image and its image number 651.

A Note on “Leading Zeros”

You might notice in the examples above, I mention 2 digit values, and in the last file name example, the file is called DSCF0651.jpg and the number part is technically 0651. This leading zero is important because it helps keep all of the images taken in chronological order.

Imagine you have a group of files taken on a holiday for New Years day in 2018. They will be auto named something along the lines of 2018-01-01_091545.jpg. Those leading zeros are important, because if you had a bunch of photos without this zero, then things will look very confusing.

I.e. Imaging a set of files without leading zeros on the Month:
2018-1-01_091545.jpg, 2018-11-01_091545.jpg, 2018-2-21_091545.jpg, 2018-10-01_091545.jpg, 2018-3-01_091545.jpg

They would be sorted like this:
2018-1-01_091545.jpg
2018-10-01_091545.jpg
2018-11-01_091545.jpg
2018-2-21_091545.jpg
2018-3-01_091545.jpg

When they should be sorted like this:
2018-01-01_091545.jpg
2018-02-21_091545.jpg
2018-03-01_091545.jpg
2018-10-01_091545.jpg
2018-11-01_091545.jpg

Don’t Forget Folders

Now you have an idea on how to name your photo files, you can think about what folder structure you want to put them in. Rather than just relying on file sorting to group related images, you can of course put them in a folder of their own. BUT, you do not want to create a bunch of folders without also thinking about how they will be labelled and sorted. They follow the same rules as file names.

Folders will not only help you sort your photos, but is better on your operating system, as having tens of thousands of photos in a single folder can become slow and unwieldy to manage.

Its usually practical to create a series of folders, again considering how you want to find them. One of the simplest ways is to create a folder for each year, and inside that folder, a dated folder for particular events or trips such as birthdays or holidays. The bulk of the photos for that year will sit in the main Year folder, and the ones taken for particular purposes can be placed in the sub directories.

[Screenshot of organised folders and photos coming soon]

How to Rename All of these Photos

Your operating system (Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS etc) has basic renaming functions that can be done on a file by file basis. Some have functions where you can select a group of files, and rename one file, and it will follow that naming for the other selected files, with a number appended to the end of the file name.

While this might be fine for small groups of files, it can be a very lengthy process to manually rename and sort out your whole collection of photos.

There are a number of free tools available to rename bulk files, including the recently released Windows 10 Power Toys PowerRename.

I have created a FREE and Open Source quick renaming tool for folders of photos called Fast Photo Renamer. It will rename photos based on the template rules you set, individually, or in bulk. All renaming actions can be set to be logged so they can be undone at any time. You can also read and edit the photo Exif / metadata to further improve descriptiveness of the file names with the location they were taken, device used, etc.

Use Fast Photo Renamer – Free, Open Source, powerful, and easy to use.

Windows 10 “Enter Network Credentials” Error When Access File Shares [PROPER FIX!]

Okay, first of all, we need to be clear about the setup… I have a PC and a laptop, both running Windows 10 Pro. The PC is the Server, the Laptop is the client / user’s PC. Both of them are using my Microsoft account to log in, and I use my PIN on both. The Client is of course trying to access shared files on the Server.

It seems if you have the setup as described (particularly if you are using a PIN to log in), then this fix should help if you get the error “Enter Network Credentials” when trying to access shared files.  I tried heaps of other fixes, but none of them worked.

TL;DR:  Create a local account on the Server, then simply use that account to log in from the Client. I’m a bit surprised that this wasn’t already suggested somewhere (maybe it has and I missed it!).

I’ll get to fleshing out the specific instructions at some point….

 

Cleaning Up LastPass – One Year In

Introduction

I’ve been running LastPass for just over a year now, and if you are like me and you have added lots of passwords, but haven’t ever run a Security Challenge, then read on. I can save you stepping into the same issues that I encountered, and maybe make the tidy up of your passwords fairly painless. Cleaning Up LastPass will make your online life easier 🙂

Unfortunately I don’t have a screenshot of my “before” Security Challenge results. Needless to say it was bad. I had about 3 passwords used across many sites, as well as one of them also being my master password. Additionally, I hadn’t changed any passwords since I added my sites to LastPass. All of the score values were in the red (I have about 85 passwords in my database too).

My Current Score

This is my current score and results.  A big difference after a couple of hours of work.  You can see the red warning symbols in the steps below – they look worse than they appear.   Ill explain below. Cleaning

Some Important Explanations

Information to know before we proceed:

  1. Some of these Steps will have Change with one click / Auto-Change Password options. This is where you can tick the entries to change, and simply click on the Update Now button to have LastPass automatically go in to each site and change your passwords to a randomly generated password, and update those entries in LastPass with the new passwords.
  2. The Auto-Change Passwords doesn’t always work! I have found it works with the big and popular sites (eBay, Amazon, etc), but don’t use it on other sites.  Also, do not close the page or browser while its working – give it time to complete (10 minutes?).
  3. You can also click on the Launch Site button to open up the website for each given password entry.  Once there, you can go through the process of updating your password.  LastPass should see this happen, and when you click on save/update/change password it should ask you if you want to update the password entry with the new password. This doesn’t always work either!
  4. If your LastPass database get out of whack (the password saved does not match whats on the site), edit the entry, and click on the clock looking icon to the right of the Password box.  This will show the password history.  Hopefully one of the older ones still works.
  5. Be prepared to use the “retrieve lost password” function on a few sites, if you make mistakes like I did.
  6. You probably will not be able to fix all of the issues listed in the Security Challenge results.  Ie. I have a few sites that log in with a combination of text and a pin, rather than a typical password.  LastPass views these as Weak Passwords, but there is no way to fix this unless the site changes it’s security / password process.
  7. I have a few Change Reused Passwords entries too.  I kept a few sites the same, and they are ones I need to be able to recall easily at various times.  Ie. Steam often asks for verification by re-entering the password on restarts.  Some games require a login and I prefer it to be easy enough to recall.  TBH, this is a poor practice, and I would be better off changing them all to be unique, but that’s for another day.
  8. You might wonder why LastPass does not work well on some sites, and why I’ve said above that some things do not work.  That’s a bit simplistic on my part. As a developer, I can imagine the complexity and variety of websites out there that have different ways of managing logins and security, and LastPass has to be told (by the people who make it) how to better manage each these new websites.  It is a very difficult thing to get working on all websites.

The Cleanup Process

Given that there are sometimes issues with these more automatic functions, here is the process I found was easiest and most painless:

  1. Note: These are general steps, and will vary from site to site.
  2. Start up your web browser of choice, and open the LastPass Vault via the add-on/plug-in/extension.
  3. Run the Security Challenge, and be prepared to get a really bad score (or you are already here because you have run it, and have seen the results).
  4. Note: Do not close the Vault and Security Challenge pages.
  5. Security Challenge’s Improve Your Score area: Click on each Step to open up the list of entries. Compromised Passwords are your passwords that have been used in any leak from various website hacks. This will hopefully be small. If you want to know about what hack they each were involved with, click on the grey information icon. The other steps should be pretty self explanatory.
  6. Click on the Launch Site button next to the entry you want to improve. Hopefully the link you have on that entry is correct, and it will open up the login page for that site. If not, find the correct page, then go back to your Vault and find the entry, edit it, and update the webpage link. Don’t forget to save any changes you make.  Note: This will not make the Security Challenge Launch Site link work – but next time you run the challenge, it will be.
  7. With the website open, log in with your existing information, then find the Change Password link / area.  This will probably be in an area called something like Account Settings, Security, Profile, User Details etc.
  8. Right Click on any part of the main window, and choose LastPass -> Generate Secure Password. Keep this tab open too.
  9. This generator tool will let you set rules about the password it is generating, and the red Refresh button will randomly generate a new password with those rules.
  10. Click Refresh, then highlight the new password, and Copy it (right click -> Copy, or CTRL+C).
  11. Go back to the website’s tab where you are changing the password.
  12. Paste the new password into the New Password box (right click -> Paste, or CTRL+V)
  13. Also Paste it into the Confirm Password box
  14. If it has a requirement to supply your old password (it should), use the icon/symbol in the text box to get the current password from the Vault.
  15. Check for any errors. Some sites will automatically tell you, other will only let you know when you Update / Save the new password.
  16. Press the Update / Save button and check for any more errors.
  17. If you encounter a problem, see what it says, and adjust the Generator settings to suit, and go back to Step 10 above. Do not forget that you should change the settings back before generating another password for the next site.  The default settings are very good for security.  Only, I did find a few sites that particularly did not like symbol characters ($%#&^% etc).
  18. If it is all good, then LastPass should pop up an option to update your entry with the new password.  Again, this may not always happen. If it does not happen, go to Step 19. Otherwise you are done for this site. Go to Step 6.
  19. If you have to update the LastPass entry manually, go to the Vault tab, find the entry, and click on the Pencil / Edit button.
  20. Highlight the existing password (shown as a line of dots), and Paste the new password in here (remember, it was copied to the clipboard in step 10).
  21. Click Save, and the tab should close, and LastPass will update the password.

Do this for all of the entries in each Step of the Security Challenge’s Improve Your Score area.

Conclusion

After you have made a bunch of changes, re-run the Security Challenge and see how much of a difference these changes have made.  I did this a few times to keep up my motivation to work through the list.

Having done that, a fair chunk of your passwords should be updated, and your Security Challenge Score should be a lot healthier. Cleaning up LastPass will make a big difference, and make logging in to sites on your PC and your phone much easier.

Get started with LastPass today! 😀