Category Archives: Desktop

ResophNotes Hot-key Toggle

ResophNotes is a great note taking application, which I’ve just started using recently.

One of the cool features is that you can assign a hot-key to the application (for example CTRL+R), so you can open it very quickly. Unfortunately the hot-key doesn’t work for minimising the ResophNotes window again. Instead you have to use ALT+SPACE+N to minimise it.

I found using ALT+SPACE+N a bit cumbersome, so I put together a simple Autohotkey script that allows you to use a single hot-key for both minimising and maximising ResophNotes:

#NoEnv ; Recommended for performance and compatibility with future AutoHotkey releases.
#Warn ; Recommended for catching common errors.
SendMode Input ; Recommended for new scripts due to its superior speed and reliability.
SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir% ; Ensures a consistent starting directory.

^r:: Gosub, resophmin ; Sets the Resoph toggle key to CTRL+R

resophmin:
WinGet, windowstatus , MinMax, ResophNotes, , , ; Gets the status of the ResophNotes window

if windowstatus =0
{
WinMinimize , ResophNotes, , , ; If the ResophNotes window is maximised, AHK will minimise it
}
else
{
send ^9 ; If the ResophNotes notes window isn't maximised, AHK will send a key combination (CTRL+9), this should be the same combo as configured in the ResophNotes options.
}
return

However please note that this script still uses the hot-key configured in ResophNotes itself, which can’t be the same as the hot-key used for the Autohotkey script. In the above example I configured the Autohotkey script to use CTR+R and ResophNotes to CTRL+9.

If you don’t have Autohotkey installed, or just want a pre-compiled exe for the script, you can download it from here.

Speed up your DNS with Namebench

Namebench

DNS is used to convert the human readable domain names we use on the internet (such as amazon.co.uk), into machine readable IP addresses (e.g. 87.238.81.129).

Your computer accomplishes this by using a Name Server (NS), the NS your computer uses normally defaults to the one supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). However the NS from your ISP may not be the fasted performing or have as many extra features a 3rd party NS providers. The speed with which the NS converts the Domain Name into an IP is the resolving speed. The resolving speed can be affected by various factors such as the speed of the NS server itself, the latency of your connection to the NS and the physical distance of the NS from you. So in order to maximise the speed of your web browsing etc. its important to have the fastest DNS resolving speed possible.

A good and easy to use tool that allows you to test the resolving speed of your current NS, vs various 3rd party ones is Namebench. This tool will send multiple DNS requests from your computer to your current NS and to the 3rd party NS list that Namebench includes by default. It then outputs a report comparing the resolving speed of your current NS vs the 3rd party NS services. It will also recommend the fastest NS for your internet connection. In my case using the DNS Advantage NS gave around an 80% speed boost.

If you’re not so worried about speed, you can also use your NS as an extra layer of security.

Windows Security

The below list is not meant to be exhaustive or to be a how-to for every suggestion, however I have provided links for most of the suggestion from which you can find more information.

Antivirus

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but many people still don’t use one. A good (and free) option to use is Microsoft Security Essentials, it performs well in AV tests, and in my experience runs lighter than other solutions. If you don’t mind paying you can try Norton Internet Security which has done quite well in tests recently, it also includes a firewall and other features.

Software Firewall

Even if you have hardware firewall, it is worth having a software firewall installed on your pc as well. This allows out-bound traffic to be filtered, which would not necessarily happen with a hardware firewall. Also software firewalls can flag up suspect programs using HIPS. A good free firewall which has HIPS is the Comodo firewall.

Router with NAT Translation and a Stateful Packet Inspection Firewall

This makes it harder for external computers to connect to your network, for more information see here.

Have separate User and Admin accounts

Running in a standard non-admin user account for daily use can substantially reduce security risks, only use the admin account when installing programs etc.

User Account Control (UAC)

UAC is a highly effective tool, especially when combined with running as a standard user as mentioned above. However make it sure it is set up correctly with the slider right at the top.

Windows 7

Windows 7 has features like Address Space Layout Randomization, this was also in vista, but Windows 7 is much nicer to generally and more responsive.

Use a 64 bit version of Windows 7

64 bit windows includes extra protection like Data Execution Protection and Patch Guard.

Use Google chrome as your default browser

Make sure you install Chrome using your standard account, not the Admin account. This will make sure chrome installs into your document and settings folder as opposed to the program files folder. This is necessary as this lets Chrome auto update in a standard user account, which it can’t if installed in the program files folder. There are several security benefits of using chrome:

  • Chrome auto updates itself, this means you will always have the most secure and up-to-date version
  • The Chrome sandbox makes it harder to exploit the browser
  • Chrome has flash built-in which ensures it is always auto-updated to the latest and most secure version, Chrome will eventually sandbox the plugin which will improve security
  • When installed paste “chrome://plugins/” into the address bar (without quotes) and disable any plugins you don’t use
  • Also consider using extensions like Flashblock and Adblock

Don’t install standalone Flash

When you need to use something with flash use Chrome, Flash is one of the main routes that a computer can be exploited via the web browser, so by using chrome’s version you can mitigate this risk. Also, do not install java unless you really need it.

Don’t use Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader generally has a lot of security flaws, try using an alternative like Sumatra or PDF-XChange PDF Viewer, Google Chrome also has a built-in PDF viewer in the Beta version, which i’m sure will soon come to the stable version. This is worth using to avoid various PDF exploits. If you really need to use Adobe Reader follow this advice for securing it.

DNS servers

Normally you use DNS servers that are supplied by your ISP, however there are now DNS services that screen domains for Malware, and prevent you accessing them. Two such services are Norton DNS and Clear Cloud DNS.

Turn on Microsoft Update

Microsoft Update is like windows update, but will update any Microsoft product including Microsoft Office etc.