More Daisy…!

Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden
Upsy Daisy from In the Night Garden

I think it would be fairly safe to say that Reuben and Joshua are currently mildly obsessed with two BBC CBeebies TV programmes at the moment: Balamory and In the Night Garden.

In fact, whenever they see a pad of paper and a pen they will pick up the pen and thrust it into my hand with the instruction “More Daisy!”

Upsy Daisy is a character on In the Night Garden. I’m getting quite good at drawing her, to be honest. Until I realised that Reuben and Joshua don’t really care about details.  As soon as I’ve drawn Daisy’s oval head and added some Medusa-like strands of hair Joshua will steal the pen back: “No! My!” and start to scribble over what I’ve just drawn.

Jane looked at my pad the other day and laughed.  “What on earth would a psychologist make of that picture?” she joked.

Sketches and scribbles in the key of In The Night Garden
Sketches and scribbles in the key of “In The Night Garden”

What indeed!

That’s a very crude depiction of Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy with erm… additions by Joshua (red, blue and green) and Reuben (black).

Igglepiggle looks more like a sad Panda king!

DigiTech GenEdit 1.6 works in Windows 7 compatibility mode

DigiTech GNX2 GenetX guitar processor
DigiTech GNX2 GenetX guitar processor

I own a DigiTech GNX2 guitar multi-effect processor, or “Guitar WorkStation” as DigiTech called it.  Although it’s a few years old now—I bought it probably around six years ago—it’s still a really nice piece of kit.

One of the things that attracted me to this particular pedal, which I bought to replace a DigiTech RP6 that died on me a few hours before a gig, was that it promised to connect to my PC via MIDI.

Well, I’m delighted to report that the DigiTech GNX2 still connects to my PC running Windows 7 Professional (32-bit).  The trick is to right-click the shortcut icon, select Properties and on the Compatibility tab select “Run this program in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 3)“.

As soon as I did that I saw this:

DigiTech GenEdit 1.6a
DigiTech GenEdit 1.6a

In the past I’ve found GenEdit 1.61a really useful as it allows you make adjustments to user presets while sitting at my desk, guitar on my knee, rather than hunched over a floor pedal twiddling the small controls on the “guitar workstation”.

Update

I switched on my DigiTech GNX2 this morning for the first time in a couple of years, to be honest (we’ve had twins, you know!) and … the presets kept randomly ‘flickering’ between one and the next.

So, for example, I’d be on factory preset #1 and while playing the GNX2 would quickly switch to factory preset #2 and then back to #1. Repeat.

My heart sank. I was really looking forward to getting back into playing, until baby #3 arrives and I’ll have to put it on hold for another couple of years.

However, a quick factory reset later and all appears to be well so far.

And what has this to do with GenEdit?  I backed-up all my custom user presets via MIDI in about a minute. Something that would have taken me hours to do with my old DigiTech RP6 as I would have had to manually scroll through each preset and write down all the settings. Genius!

Windows 7 sidebar

Windows 7 dual-monitor with gadgets
Windows 7 dual-monitor with gadgets

Back in October 2006 I wrote about how to create a new toolbar in Windows XP. For the last year I’ve been using Windows 7 Professional and for some inexplicable reason, in their wisdom the Microsoft boffins removed the ability to create new toolbars that can be docked apart from the main taskbar.

They must have thought that the new Windows 7 toolbar was enough. It’s not. While you can still create new toolbars, you just can’t separate them from the main Windows 7 taskbar.

What I liked about the XP toolbar I wrote in my original post four years ago:

The toolbar is always on top, meaning that when I’m running a maximized application (that is, full-screen), such as Outlook, the toolbar is still visible on the right-hand side of my screen.

No alternative

But to date I have not yet found an alternative that does what I want.  I’ve tried ObjectDock, OrbitDock, RocketDock, Google Desktop and a bunch of others and none of them worked the way I wanted them to: a toolbar of shortcuts that always sits on top, reserving its own space so that maximized applications don’t obscure it.

7 Sidebar

While I was looking for an alternative shortcuts toolbar I stumbled across the 7 Sidebar gadget for Windows 7.

One of the genuinely cool things about Windows Vista, in my opinion, was the sidebar: an always-on-top area of the screen onto which you could add gadgets. While Windows 7 kept the gadgets it ditched the dockable sidebar.  Again … come on boffins! Couldn’t you just have made it an option?

So, some genius from Germany has written a Windows 7 gadget that emulates the original Windows Vista sidebar: a gadget that will allow you to install gadgets within it. And the great thing is that it has a “Show sidebar always on top” option.

Which got me thinking: what if I could use the 7 Sidebar gadget to both

  1. Hold my Windows 7 gadgets so that I can see them even when I have an application maximized.
  2. Reserve the right-hand screen space and use RocketDock to manage my shortcuts above the 7 Sidebar.  Like this:
RocketDock shortcuts over 7 gadget sidebar
RocketDock shortcuts over Windows 7 “7 Sidebar” gadget

So that’s what I did and it’s working great, both at work (Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, 3 monitors) and home (Windows 7 Professional, 32-bit, 2 monitors).

Update

In response to a comment: the desktop clock featured on my desktop and in the Sidebar is called Transparent Customisable Desktop Clock.

Update 2: Fix

Sometimes when I start up my PC the gadgets are not working. There are a couple of things I’ve had to do in the past to fix these.

Simple fix

Most of the time this simple fix works:

  1. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up the Windows Task Manager.
  2. On the Processes tab locate and select “sidebar.exe”.
  3. Click on End Process.
  4. Wait for the process to end and disappear from the list.
  5. Right-click an empty point on the Windows desktop and select Gadgets from the context-menu. Your gadgets should now reappear.

Complex fix

Occasionally the above fix doesn’t work and I have to do the following:

  1. Click Start, and then click All Programs.
  2. Click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and select Run as administrator. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  3. At the command prompt, type the following commands. Press ENTER after each command.Regsvr32 atl.dll
    Regsvr32 "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Sidebar\sbdrop.dll"
    Regsvr32 "%ProgramFiles%\Windows Sidebar\wlsrvc.dll"
    exit
  4. Restart the computer.

Baby #3 – 20 weeks scan

Ultrasound image of baby #3 at 21 weeks
Ultrasound image of baby #3 at 21 weeks

Today marked the start of the 21st week of Jane’s pregnancy. This morning we drove up to Ninewells hospital in Dundee for Jane’s 20 weeks ultrasound scan.

As you can see from the image above baby #3 (whom we discovered will be a brother to Reuben and Joshua: he’s a boy!) was facing down for the duration of the scan. We didn’t get a good look at his face sadly, but he appears to be doing really well the little miracle that he is.

Reuben and Joshua, who accompanied us to the appointment, were delighted to see and point at “BABY!” on the computer monitor.

Getting ready

This weekend it’s going to be my task to dismantle the bunk beds in the second guest bedroom in order to create nursery #2.  We’ve scoped out a programme of work to get things ready between now and the end of November.

Baby #3 is due to make an appearance on 27 January 2011.