Boxes -Spice up boring Bash or Powershell scripts

boxes.pngBoxes is a text filter which can draw any kind of box around its input text. Box design choices range from simple boxes to complex ASCII art.  Boxes come with a good collection of ASCII art to start with.  I’m a sucker for boxes, they spice up what would be boring script files.  Boxes were always available on Linux, and now it’s available under Windows.  That’s if you can find them.

This little ditty is a reminder for myself of how to install this on a Windows machine so it is available from everywhere.

Boxes are from Thomas Jensen, download them from this link and save yourself a headache using google to find either boxes, Linux or combinations.  Version 1.2 has been released and has a few extra little goodies.

Getting it installed so you can use it any Powershell script on your system is a little difficult but worth the effort.

Part of my setup for every Windows system I use is to create a directory under the C:\ root to store the commands that are mine.  These are mostly portable applications but include little utilities like Boxes.  I call this directory C:\myCommands.   When I add this directory to the PATH statement it makes all those commands I added to the directory, available from any directory on the computer.


Adding the path is done by editing the environment variable for your account, not the system account.  Look for the Path variable and Edit it.


Then add the special place you created for your stuff.  In my case (C:\myCommands).


When you unzip the BOXES.ZIP program from this link, it is just 2 files.  The EXE which does the work and the CFG which has the ASCII artwork in it.  I unzip them both into the (c:\myCommands) directory.


The last step to getting boxes everywhere is to add a new environment variable to your account.  Start with looking for environment variables.


The name of the new environment variable is BOXES.  The value is your special place (C:\myCommands).


Verify that the new environment variable has been created.


To have all of this stuff to start working you will need to reboot.  

Now open up the PowerShell window and type:

write-output "GeekMustHave rocks!" | boxes -a hc -d ian_jones

The (ian_jones) is one my favorite ASCII art frames.  There are plenty more art frames in the CFG file.


I also have a YouTube Channel (GeekMustHave) no spaces or your get the makeup ladies.

If you stop by to visit please subscribe to let me know this post helped you.



Turn on Network Discovery on Windows Advanced server

Having a problem linking to a Shared resource on a Windows advanced server system?


Yea this is a pain the butt.   Some settings are out of wack.

Turn on DNS Client, make it start Automatic Delayed


Turn on SSCP Discovery, make it start Automatic Delayed


Turn on UPnP Device Host, make it start automatic delayed.


Set the Network Discovery Firewall rule so it is allowed for Private and Public.


Now turn network discovery on and it should stay on.


Now attempt to map to the Shared Drive resource on the Windows AS system.


If the Shared Drive on the Advanced Server has password protection you will need to login to it using a valid AS user id/password.


If you’re lucky maybe the mapping will work.  Sometimes the Gods can be cruel.

Microsoft and Linux Developers in the same sentence?



Crazy Talk!


Bash on Windows, Microsoft & Linux and uproarious applause at Microsoft conference, these are things I expect to happen when pigs fly.  Well, cover your heads and look up because…Microsoft is reaching out to Linux developers in a way that the company never has before. “The Bash shell is coming to Windows. Yes, the real Bash is coming to Windows,” said Microsoft’s Kevin Gallo on stage at today’s Build 2016 keynote. The announcement received an uproarious applause from the crowd. The new functionality will be enabled as part of this summer’s Anniversary Update to Windows 10.

“This is not a VM. This is not cross-compiled tools. This is native,” he said. “We’ve partnered with Canonical to offer this great experience, which you’ll be able to download right from the Windows Store.” Third-party tools have enabled this sort of thing for years, but a direct partnership between Microsoft and Canonical should offer even more flexibility and convenience for developers who prefer using these binaries and tools.

Special thanks to Verge for this article.

FREE!!! Photo Editing Windows & Mac

Google is giving it away for free!!  Google just announced that it’s making its Nik Collection of desktop photo editing software 100% free.  The Nik Collection has 7 desktop plug-ins that provide a wide range of photo editing features, including mimicking the look of old cameras and films, retouching and correcting photos, darkroom retouching, adjusting color and tonality, HDR, image sharpening, and noise reduction. Get some of this.

NAS4Free setup for a Windows share

Nas4freeNAS4Free is open source software used to create a Network Attached Storage server.  By repurposing an old desktop PC and a handful of disk drives you can have an excellent NAS server that can be used by any of the devices on your network.  NAS4Free also has a number of other optional services including FTP, Torrent, Web server and Media server.  When you go to the NAS4Free web site there will be a number of considerations you will need to address for the hardware.  The entire NAS4Free software OS is recommended to be installed on a 8GB USB Thumb drive.  The installation and configuration is relatively simple however, creating a Windows Share drive that you can mount as a drive letter is a little tricky.

Login to NAS4Free server

After the installation is completed the NAS4Free console will let you know the IP address of the server, in this example it is as determine by the network DCHP server.  Open a browser to this page to get the login


Setting up ZFS filesystem

It is recommended that you create a ZFS file system to take advantage of multiple disks, in this example there are two 4TB physical drives in the desktop server.


The main screen of NAS4Free displays some basic information about the system and its utilization.  The ZFS is located under the (Disks) menu selection.

The first step in a ZFS file system is to create a virtual drive from your collection of physical disks.



The Type of Virtual Disk indicates how you want to configure the drives to recover from errors.  In this example (Stripe) was selected to get the maximum amount of space.  The Virtual Disk name is (VD1)

The second step is to create a Pool that we can use to set up the Windows share from.


Now we have created a Pool called (Open01) from the Virtual Disk (VD1).

Configure CIFS/SMB service

Third step which is the tricky one is to configure the CIFS/SMB Service on NAS4Free.  This is required for creating Windows Shares.  This is done under the (Services) menu selection.


Fourth step is to configure the CIFS/SMB service.

The defaults for the CIFS/SMB service are typically good for most installations.


The Max Protocol was set to SMB3 to allow use of Windows 8.x systems to access the shared drive.  The NetBIOS name is actually the server name used when creating the Windows share.

Fifth step is to create the shares by clicking on the SHARE tab on the top of the previous image


The Name (ShareNas4Free) is the windows share name.  You can create multiple share names and isolate shares for specific purposes.   The shares come from the Pool we created called (Open01).

Create Windows Share

Sixth step is to go to the Windows Explorer on one of the systems you want to use the NAS4Free share drive on and created a mapped drive.


Seventh step is to locate the shared drive.  You can try to use the (Browse…) button but sometimes the newly created share is not immediatley available.  So the alternative method is to enter the share name in the Folder field.  In this example the share name is \\NAS4Free\ShareNAS4Free.


When you are successful on getting the NAS4Free share name entered you will be prompted for a NAS4Fee user to access the share.  If you haven’t created a special user for this share you can use the default NAS4Free admin user (Root).


In this example the (W:) drive was mapped to the \\Nas4free server and the (ShareNas4Free) share.  Now you use this drive just like any other drive on your windows system.










Cherry 2000 disaster Part II

This is the display you get when you hose a system up with a virus so bad that even the bootable USB “Windows Defender” is powerless to help.   Let this be a lesson kiddies…. always practice safe computing, wear a virus protector when playing with strange unknown files.   Looks like I’ll have to find  Edith “E” Johnson to go into zone 7 and find me another system.

Cherry 2000 Disaster / Microsoft to the rescue

Over the New Year weekend I decided to watch Cherry 2000,  Not necessary a good use of my time but I have this thing for Melanie Griffith.   So I want to see more than what’s in this movice and I got hunting on the interweb.

Found something I did…..   the Dark Side complete with a virus which did its work because my virus scanner was waiting to get updated.

Now I have a system (My main one of course) which is less than helpful right now.   Had a spare which I put into place and because most of my stuff is in the cloud I was fairly good to go.  I also had used SpiderOak just a week before for all the non-Cloud files.

This damaged PC is now sitting in the corner reflecting on what was done to it.  To the rescue comes a version of Microsoft’s Security Essentials (Windows Defender) which can be loaded to a bootable USB.  (Special shout out to Dan for the link)  By booting from the USB with Windows defender you can avoid any of the nasties that get loaded during the Windows boot process.  The little USB stick is now in my kit of USB drives to help me make things right.

Don’t know how well the recovery will go but I’m more confident now than I was at 9PM New Years Eve when I was looking for more of Melanie.

Lessons Learned

  • The interweb is an evil place with sand people everywhere
  • Files you download with an (EXE) extension are probably not that video you wanted, don’t be so danm quick with the (Enter) button
  • Always do your backups, always
  • The cloud is your friend, remember friends can be fickle too
  • Virus checkers only work when they are turned on, just like lights
  • Microsoft the king of evil empires does have a few good ideas
  • Cute redheads in leather and spandex, with fast cars, guns and a geeky disposition are still hot



I heard it through the cloud

I heard it through the cloud not much longer would you be mine and I’m just about to lose my mind.  Amazon is pissing off some music executives again.   On the copyright front, U.S. record labels are apparently irked that Amazon did not secure content licenses before launching this service. “We don’t need a license to store music,” Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon.

Anyone with an Amazon account can open up a free 5GB music library in the sky.   Purchase your music from Amazon or upload your existing music using a Amazon windows based client.   If you buy one music album from Amazon then you get a free bump to 20GB.  You then listen to your tunes anywhere using a standard web browser or Android device.   Notice I didn’t say iPhone, iPod our iPad.   I can hear the outcry now.

How about these two items in the terms of service between Amazon and you….

“We do not guarantee that Your Files will not be subject to misappropriation, loss or damage and we will not be liable if they are. You’re responsible for maintaining appropriate security, protection and backup of Your Files.”  If you really use the cloud at all you should know enough that your stuff could just go missing one day and never be seen again.  Of course you should back your stuff up.  Misappropriation?  One day Amazon will wake up and decide to really shuffle your playlist up with some rap music from another user?

“You must ensure that you have all the necessary rights in Your Files that permit you to use the Service without infringing the rights of any copyright owners, violating any applicable laws or violating the terms of any license or agreement to which you are bound.” This is how Amazon got around the music industry by saying the stuff you upload to the cloud shouldn’t be pirated.   Problem is some folks in the music industry still think it’s illegal to buy a CD and rip it so you can listen to your purchase on your MP3 player.

So many things I would have done but the clouds got caught in my way…..




ZoooooomIt – Make it larger

How many times have you heard them say “Make it larger” and you wake up finding yourself in a conference room and not in some bedroom.   I do a lot of presentations and many times the folks in the room are having just as hard a time as me… reading the screen.   ZoomIt from the Microsoft System Internals unit to the rescue.

You install it on your system and press <ctrl> 1 and you can zoom into the screen and move around.  You can also draw on the screen changing colors with the <g>reen, <b>lue, <r>ed, <y>ellow keys.

Usually after an hour I try to take a 10 minute break press the <ctrl> 3 key and get a 10 minute countdown timer on the screen.  Nobody ever makes it back before the time clicks down to zero but it helps a little.

There are some similar tools available in Windows 7 but I have been using this since my old XP days…  like that was so long ago.   Doesn’t get in the way of web conferencing tools like WebEx, GoToMeeting and Yugma.  It is a single EXE file and is on my emergency thumb drive.

Spreadsheets are evil, I knew it

XLS downfall

I have been preaching this for years now and everyone thinks I’m just mad. But this article confirms it.   Spreadsheets… yes files with and XLS extension are the true reason for the decline of modern civilization.  It’s why we the USA are becoming a second rate producer.

Alright I’ve gone a little “Beck” on this but I am a little tired of folks using XLS spreadsheets for everything from databases, project management and prototyping tools.  Spreadsheets were originally invented to help accountants do the complex and tedious math required for balance sheets and the like.   Now every resume I see lists knowing how to use Microsoft Excel for use other than what is intended for as an achievement.

The article I referred to is all about  how people who know how to do stuff with their hands are being minimized by people who know how to do thing things with a keyboard.  We need farmers, welders, technicians and inventors  more now than we need people who can fiddle with  a spreadsheet.

I am a database person I see everything in terms of tables, columns and relationships.   Once you get a collection of anything beyond 100 things it’s not a spreadsheet anymore it’s a database.   I am guilty of trying to use an XLS to model and wireframe how a web site was going to look like.   Everything is not nail waiting for almighty XLS hammer to come along and pound it into submission.