28 January 2016

NatGeo CNG image converter

Love geography? or you have downloaded their free huge magazine scans library? then you may interested in this tool from http://diplograph.net/posts/decoding_the_complete_national_geographic_images

In short cng2jpg de-obfuscate NatGeo's jpg files (lossless operation).

This is win32 version of C commandline application by Paul Knight, I just change the filemode to make windows version work.

cng2jpg.7z 11Kb

Alternatively .NET GUI application available at https://github.com/keithn/cng2jpg/releases

23 January 2016

Alternative build for XScreenSaverWin

I found great screensaver port from Linux at http://katahiromz.web.fc2.com/xscreensaverwin/eindex.html contain more than 200 screensavers. Okay that's a LOT, in fact Windows will only list the first 100. Fortunately it come with random.scr which is a screensaver loader.

About half of them are opengl accelerated and with some of these I have error when exiting. I made minor workaround for that error which a least works for me. I also made minor modification in the directory organization so that all screensaver goes to one folder. This way the folder can be copied to Windows folder and random.scr loader can be placed in system32/syswow64 to minimalize "pollution".

Here is the download and modified source
version 0.77
XScreenSaverWin32.7z (2.74 Mb, 220 Screensavers)
XScreenSaverWinSrc.7z (2.71 Mb, VS 2008 Source)

I wonder if there is a MyPaint brush like that?


16 January 2016

How to download from sourceforge when it goes down

Many probably aware about SF's occasional hiccup while it usually don't last long it could be annoying when you're in hurry. There are several SF official mirror that allow you to enter their file server through classic http file index, all you need to know is the project name (that used in the url). Some of them do not support direct access though.

just name a few:

But that's just the usual links isn't it? yes, the trick is the last trailing slash, otherwise it will redirect to sourceforge webfront and not all mirrors support this trick.

Hosting behavior also varies, some purge old downloads after period of time, some may have different interface (different web server).

There are also many alternatives mirror/access url from google search

for example:

but those tend to have inconsistent url path pattern and lengthier.

Basically, you could always provide true direct link if you have too! (skipping all those ever crowded dodgy ads if you wish to)

For those not realize it yet, I hope this helped

15 January 2016

8 Songs bundled with Windows

Windows that released during 2001-2010 have bundled songs. That is the home multimedia era, now with everything moved to cloud Windows 8 and later no longer bundling songs.

Here is the list of songs that I know:

Windows Welcome music by Microsoft
Like Humans Do (radio edit) by David Byrne
"Highway Blues" by New Stories
Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo) by Ludwig van Beethoven

No Hay Problema by Pink Martini

7 (Vista?):
Maid with the Flaxen Hair by Richard Stoltzman
Sleep Away by Bob Acri
Kalimba by Mr. Scruff

Apparently Microsoft aren't interested in mainstream genre such as Pop or RnB. I like that attitude!

Windows 10 is

I found handful information about Windows 10 from google since I unable to get a hand of it (neither I want to download it, mind you I killed B.I.T.S on my Windows 8.1)

Windows 10 is yours to enjoy – and absolutely free
Windows 10 is designed to be compatible with the hardware, software, and  peripherals you already own
Windows 10 is familiar and easy to use, with lots of similarities to Windows 7 including the Start menu
Windows 10 is now running on more than 200 million devices
Windows 10 is a personal computer operating system released by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems
Windows 10 is here to change the game
Windows 10 is spying on everybody, and it's all thanks to Microsoft itself
Windows 10 is so familiar and easy to use, you'll feel like an expert
Windows 10 is a free update, making it easier for Microsoft to push the new operating system
Windows 10 Is Tracking You
Windows 10 is an entirely new version of the veteran Windows operating system – a version that is make-or-break for Microsoft
Windows 10 is off to a good start
Windows 10 is an operating system from Microsoft Corporation for servers, desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, and other connected devices
Windows 10 is only free for one year
Windows 10 Is Randomly Deleting Programs, Files, Associations
Windows 10 is Great, Except for the Parts That Are Terrible
Windows 10 is for suckers
Windows 10 Is Malware
Windows 10 is collecting more information than some people may have realized
Windows 10 is specifically designed to give Microsoft a much wider and much tighter grip on consumers
Windows 10 is quickly replacing previous versions of Windows in the enterprise
Windows 10 is harvesting more of YOUR data than any other Microsoft operating  system
Windows 10 is a Broken POS
Windows 10 is not hugely different from Windows 8
Windows 10 Is Catching Up to XP
Windows 10 is doing well overall, and far, far better than Windows 8 as Microsoft hoped
Windows 10 is the best version yet – once the bugs get fixed
Windows 10 Is the Product of a Chastened, Changed Microsoft
Windows 10 is nice
Windows 10 is actually pretty awesome
Windows 10 is 'the last version of Windows'

Let say it's about 75/25 of pros/cons opinion. My take I think Windows 10 will doing OK for Home consumer but failed for business and enterprise unless major changes made. Seriously this "one OS for all" just ridiculous.

Not that I hate Windows 10, I think I can use Vista, 7 or 8 (been 2 years now) just fine. However in term of *Personal* Computer Operating System, XP is the one better. My analogy goes like this:

XP is your dog: Maybe primitive but obedient and loyal though will bite if abused.
Vista is your mother-in-law (connotation): Noisy and strict ready to drive you nuts
7 is your big brother: Reliable and tolerant but you hardly can talk back in an argument
8 is a hired assistant: Maybe suit you or maybe not, a stranger that harder to approach
10 is double agent Cortana: In front of you it's nice and all, behind your back it is controlling YOU.

Visual True Type for XP

Been years looking how to download this thing from Microsoft. Previously this was only available "by request" to Microsoft typography group or something, however it's near impossible to get a reply. Originally the program itself released circa 1999-2001 (yeah Win 9.x era and slightly updated when XP released). Now that it was made freely available https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=48728 (previously MS VOLT also made free and has been regularly updated). Together with other free tools in https://www.microsoft.com/typography/default.mspx are extensive font development tool for Windows. But there is one problem: VTT 6 is not for XP! geh

So I ask an anon question at stackexchange regarding backporting vista apps. I kind of expecting to get l33t answer like reconstructing IAT and some OllyDbg hacking session but it was shim method that come up. Well it was a technique commonly practiced anyway.

To summarize:
- VTT.exe need CompareStringEx and InitializeCriticalSectionEx which unavailable in XP kernel.
- Both functions available in msvcp140.dll (part of Visual C++ 2015 redistributable) with slightly different name along with other interesting backported functions
- VTT.exe is compiled with linker's osversion set to Vista (6.0)
- VTT.exe also protected with Microsoft digital signature

The shim will sit between vtt.exe and kernel32.dll+msvcp140.dll, so we could use renamed function redirection or loadlibrary way. I choose the first since there are not much of imported functions.

Basically I made shim that contain lowercase version of the function (you could use MSDN or MinGW headers to see the correct declaration) which call the actual function in kernel32.dll and msvcp140.dll for the missing one.

for example:
// CompareStringEx
WINBASEAPI int WINAPI __crtCompareStringEx (LPCWSTR lpLocaleName, DWORD dwCmpFlags, LPCWCH lpString1, int cchCount1, LPCWCH lpString2, int cchCount2, LPNLSVERSIONINFO lpVersionInformation, LPVOID lpReserved, LPARAM lParam);

WINBASEAPI int WINAPI comparestringex (LPCWSTR lpLocaleName, DWORD dwCmpFlags, LPCWCH lpString1, int cchCount1, LPCWCH lpString2, int cchCount2, LPNLSVERSIONINFO lpVersionInformation, LPVOID lpReserved, LPARAM lParam) {
__crtCompareStringEx (lpLocaleName, dwCmpFlags, lpString1, cchCount1, lpString2, cchCount2, lpVersionInformation, lpReserved, lParam);

and compile with:
gcc -shared -Wl,--kill-at -o vttforxp.dll vttforxp.c -L. -lmsvcp140 -s

Next we need to rename imported functions in VTT.exe to lowercase too (yeah kind of risky here) and rename kernel32.dll to vttforxp.dll, we can use hex editor.

Next we remove the digital signature, since it obviously become invalid now. we can use osslsigncode:
osslsigncode remove-signature -in vtt.exe -out vtt.exe

Next we need to downgrade os.version PE header to 5.1 (XP). we can use editbin or pehdr-lite
pehdr-lite vtt.exe -osver 5.1 -subsysver 5.1

As a bonus step, we can use Microsoft mt to add xptheme manifest

That's it! Well of course this case is rather simpleton but still is a real-world case :)
heck some apps even simply set the higher os.version (due to never compiler default) so that it could spew stupid error message like "invalid win32 application"...