Lifehacks System Administration

Synergy and Text Expansion Programs on Windows 7? Don’t run as admin.

Synergy is great. And text expansion/replacement tools are great (ie, PhraseExpress or AutoHotKey). And Windows 7…well I guess it’s alright as well.

Synergy lets me share my mouse and keyboard between my Windows desktop, my Macbook, and even a linux machine (if I still ran one at work). It even synchronizes the clipboard betweeen screens. Great stuff.

PhraseExpress is my current favorite text expansion tool. I use it to insert my signature into emails and other places where I might repeatedly type something. And it’s free for personal use. I’d use TextExpander on my Mac, but I’m cheap.

Now here’s the problem: if you run Synergy (either 1.3.8 stable or 1.4.8 beta at the time of this writing) and install it to autostart on login, your text expansion tool will problem not work.  So just run it manually after you login, and you’ll be okay. The autostart process for Synergy requires administrative rights, and seems to interfere with the hooks that the text expansion tools need to work.

After switching to a new workstation, I installed my necessary programs including the ones listed above, and noticed that PhraseExpress didn’t work. I thought it was a problem with that specific program. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling and updating, and even tried AutoHotKey for a bit (which is great, but it’s

Until I come up with something smarter, I’ll just start Synergy manually when I restart my computer. That’s not the end of the world, and at least PhraseExpress will work.

So beware. Two great programs, but don’t run them as admin.

Computer Fixin' Software

Windows Update Stalling/Stuck/Hang at “Searching for Updates”

No time for introductions.

I spent way too much time today trying for get Windows Update to work on a laptop.  When the “Searching for updates” screen would come on, sometimes the progress bar would be empty, other times it would run and run until it failed.

I tried CCleaner and reinstalled the Windows Update Components.  Multiple times.  Still nothing.

C:\Windows\WindowsUpdate.log showed a “SendRequestUsingProxy failed” message.  What?  I’m not using a proxy.

I find bits of Norton around, so I run the Norton Removal Tool.  I also end up removing Trend Micro’s PC-Cillin, thinking that it might be blocking the updates.  No good.

HijackThis doesn’t even show a proxy being set anywhere.  So what’s the deal?

FInally…Google returns this gem of a page:

Advanced Method B

8.    Type the following commands. Press ENTER after each command.

a.     proxycfg -d
b.     net stop wuauserv
c.     net start wuauserv
d.     exit

And there it is. I ran proxycfg all by itself and saw this mysterious IP address for a proxy. showed that it returns to BestBuy…hmm.

So finally: “Installation complete.  You must restart your computer for the updates to take effect.”  On to more important things.