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Inno Setup Support Scripts Update

I just posted updates to my Inno Setup CLI Help and Modify Path Inno Setup scripts. The CLI Help is a fairly small update - it just includes updated documentation for the latest version of Inno Setup.

The ModPath update is a bit more substantial; I added the ability to add multiple directories to the system path instead of just a single directory. Usually this capability should not be necessary, but I had a need to do this for the new version of Universal Extractor that's currently in development. If you're currently using an older version of the script, though, be sure to read the updated directions. This new version is not directly compatible with older versions and requires a few small changes to your main installer script.

The updates can be downloaded from each script's home page:
Inno Setup CLI Help
Modify Path

Which file types are actually executed during extraction by Universal Extractor?

JST posted a good question a while back in the Universal Extractor forum. He wanted to know if any executable files (such as installers) were actually run during the extraction process. For the vast majority of files, UniExtract will "rip" the contents out of the file using a extraction/decompression utility. For example, Inno Setup installers are handled by innounp, self-extracting Zip files are handled by 7-Zip or Info-ZIP, etc. However, there also cases where some files simply must be executed in order to extract the contents.

JST was concerned about this because he sometimes uses Universal Extractor to investigate malicious files. Obviously you want to be very careful when examining malicious files, so his concern was well justified. He asked for a list of file types that UniExtract will actually execute when extracting. It took me a while to get around to documented this, but I've finally done so. You can read the full list in this forum thread:

Are any files executed during extraction?

This is good information to know, especially if you ever work with suspicious files. I'm probably going to add this information to the main UniExtract page as well, and will look into possibly adding a warning message to UniExtract itself before executing any untrusted files.

Lack of Updates

If it seems that I haven't spent much time working on my website recently, well, I haven't. :-) A whole lot has been keeping my busy for the last few weeks, including:

  • Accepting and preparing for a new job
  • Tying up loose ends at my old job before leaving
  • Purchasing/assembling/installing Gentoo on a new desktop system (which takes a while to work out all of the kinks)
  • Shopping/purchasing a new laptop since I lost my work-provided system

That's the highlights, but I've been dealing with some other stuff as well. I have some projects I'm trying to get done before I start my new job on Monday, and of course once I do begin my new job I'm sure it'll keep my busy for a while. So, to be honest I don't know when I'm going to be able to start posting regular updates again, but hopefully it won't be too far off.

One important task I'd like to finish up is putting out an update for Universal Extractor 1.5.1. I had mostly completed it about a month ago, but just haven't had time to fix a couple remaining issues and get the updated translation files. I'd like to start working on that again this weekend if I can finish my other projects in time, so keep an eye out for it in the next week or two.

LegRoom Changes, Part 3

For my third and last post in this series, I'd like to discuss overall site management design changes. Prior to this latest change, I had always run LegRoom off of PostNuke. Now, PostNuke has been good to me over the years. It's been around for a while so it was a pretty mature product even in 2002, it has a huge community behind it, and it's been flexible enough to let me do pretty much anything I wanted during the previous couple redesigns. I'm very appreciative of all the hard work that the PostNuke devs and community have put into the product, and I certainly do no regret choosing PostNuke for my site.

With the latest redesign, however, I felt the need for something different. I could've just slapped a new theme on top of my PostNuke install, as I did previously, but I really wanted to migrate to a new content management system altogether to give me a chance to truly redesign the site from the ground up, as well as clean out a lot of the cruft that had been gathered over the years (see Part 2 for some examples of this). Additionally, while PostNuke was a capable and mature CMS, I wanted to move away from it for three main reasons:

  • Development progress seems almost non-existent. Take version 0.8, for example. If I recall correctly, initial development of 0.8 began in 2003, possibly even 2002. However, version 0.8 has still not been released. Now, I'm quite sure there are a lot of factors contributing to this delay, and I don't even pretend to know all of the facts, but just from a pure end-user perspective this is ridiculous. There have been minor updates to the 0.7x branch during that time, but to go so long without a major release gives the impression that either development is stalled or non-existent, there are severe technical difficulties involved (which can shake confidence in the developers involved), or there are severe personnel and/or communication difficulties within the developer community (which, again, can shake confidence). Personally, I just got tired of waiting.
  • PostNuke is a heavy system, and the generated output (at least from my older version) was just plain ugly. I wanted a CMS that produces cleaner, more efficient, and standards-compliant code, something that doesn't use several levels of nested tables for positioning. From what I read, this situation has supposedly improved significantly in the current PostNuke releases, but that doesn't help me much because of the next reason.
  • In order to make PostNuke work how I wanted, I had to make some fairly extensive modifications to the codebase. I completely rewrote the menu generation code and RSS publication module, for example, as well as made various changes here and there to several of the other modules. The problem with this approach is that it makes an in-place upgrade nearly impossible. The end-result is that I was left running an extremely vulnerable version of PostNuke for several years. I was honestly surprised that I was able to hold off the hackers until I was able to complete the Drupal migration. Now, this isn't PostNuke's fault in any way, but simply another factor that has to be considered. I need a CMS that will do what I want without requiring modification of the codebase. PostNuke couldn't provide that.

So, after a rather extensive search, I settled on Drupal. As of version 5.0 it seems to offer the best combination of capability, flexibility, efficiency, and standards compliance out of all of the open source CMSes that I examined. (By the way, I'd really like to thank the admins of OpenSourceCMS for making it easy to "test drive" so many website management systems. If you're a webmaster that's not familiar with this site, check it out ASAP.)

So, aside from the CMS change, what else is new? While migrating all web content over to the new site I spent a lot of time "updating" all content to use a specific look and feel. My previous site was something of a testing ground for me, and was originally started when I just didn't know much beyond pure HTML. Each page that I added to the site was essentially created using whatever level of experience I had mastered at the time, resulting in a hodgepodge of styles and techniques. This is especially true of the Tips and Tricks pages, of which some had to be nearly completely rewritten. Now, however, I was able to apply the same coding styles uniformly across all pages on the site. Yay!

In addition to the common style, you may also notice a common layout for all of the pages. Each has a navbar across the top that will take you to any location in the page. Each page is broken up into the same sections, where appropriate, for consistency and easy of use. I also added section breaks, along with "return to top" links, to cleanly separate each section. These are a lot of subtle changes, to be sure, but they really do a lot to enhance site usability.

Other page-specific changes:

  • The Bookmarks page is now properly styles to match the rest of the site (thanks again, Steve)
  • As previously mentioned, I added a new Coming Soon section
  • DailyStrips has also been restyled to match the site, including rewriting the output engine to work better in the context of a website module (and no more tables!)
  • The Metasearch page (aka, Search Internet) has been tweaked and has had a couple more sites added

I think that pretty much covers it. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the redesign process for this site. Up next - the conversion script I used to migrate from PostNuke to Drupal. It is truly one of the most ugly pieces of code I've ever written, but it got the job done. As promised, I'll make it available to everyone else to use, along with an explanation of the details and shortcomings of the script. I just need a bit more time to clean it up and write the details.

Small update for Firefox Tips and Tricks

Update: 03/21/2007 14:41
In a rather ironic mistake, I accidentally specified a bad link to the Firefox Tips and Tricks page. Oops. :-) That's been corrected.

I just noticed that the links to several of my modified Greasemonkey scripts were not updated to reflect the new site layout. I fixed these links on the Mozilla Firefox Tips and Tricks page so that they now point to the correct location.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

LegRoom Changes, Part 2

My last post on this subject discussed the changes the most directly affect users. This post will discuss content changes.

With the exception of the previously mentioned Support Forum, there's that's truly new in terms of content. While everything has been reorganized and cleaned up, I haven't yet had the chance much new information to the site. I did, however, remove several sections that were available on the previous site. Here's a summary of what was not migrated:

  • Downloads - This was the native downloads module included with PostNuke. It was largely unused, aside from a couple of custom PostNuke modules I had uploaded long ago, so I'm dropping it for this site. All "downloads" are available directly from the application's web page.
  • E-Mail (Webmail)* - This is currently not available due to some changes on both the website and the LegRoom mail server. I'm working on a replacement, though, and will bring it back as soon as possible.
  • Photo Gallery - I setup my photo gallery back when LegRoom was just a small personal/test site. Since then it's become more of a development and news site, and I'm not sure that the photo gallery belongs on here anymore. I'm still trying to decide what I want to do with it, but I think it will eventually be moved to a separate site.
  • Powered By - This was something of a play page I setup with the initial version of LegRoom, and was largely ignored since then. There's no need for it on the current site.
  • Query Tools* - This was a cool PostNuke module that allows convenient access to various DNS and network diagnostic functions, but it's just not worth maintaining my own page when there are already lots of better services available.
  • Server Information - This information is now restricted to administrators.
  • Submit News* - I previously allowed any registered user to post news content; now, this is restricted to administrators. I may allow this again in the future, but I'd like this restricted while I get used to Drupal.
  • Topics - This page allowed browsing of archived news based on categories. Drupal doesn't appear to provide a similar capability, but I'm looking for a module that will enable this. It was a semi-useful feature that I'd like to bring back.
  • Website Statistics - This is one of the few areas that I find Drupal to be at a severe disadvantage compared to the previous site. It does provide statistics, but it's very limited compared to what PostNuke provided. It also seems more geared toward logging and diagnostics now, so I've restricted statistics access to administrators on the new site.
  • What is F/OSS? - This page just didn't get very much attention after it was first written. It may make a reappearance at some point on this site, but I'm not sure yet if and how so.
  • Zina* - This was a really nice web-based music library frontend. This may make a return as well, just not sure what I want to do with it at this time.

*Restricted to authorized users. Anonymous users couldn't see it.

That should cover it. If you have a questions or comments about these removed sections, please post a comment and let me know. I'll probably make one more post on this topic, covering overall site layout and design changes.

LegRoom Mail Server Going Down

I hate to do this again after the recent major changes, but I need to do some more testing. E-mail will be unavailable beginning 8:00am CDT. I'll update this post as soon as it's available again.

Update: The mail server is available again as of 11:00am CDT.