Ryan Harrison My blog, portfolio and technology related ramblings

Open Cygwin Here Shortcut

After frequently using the ‘Open command window here shortcut’ in Windows Explorer to open up a command prompt window in the current directory, I found it cumbersome not to have the option to open a Cygwin (or Bash) prompt as well, especially considering how I now find myself using Cygwin more and more often.

There are registry edits that you can do to get similar functionality, but it’s much easier to just use one of the packages bundled with Cygwin. Open up the Cygwin installer and select the chere package under Shells. It’s a very small package and so should install relatively quickly.

After that it’s just one command to add the new entry to the right-click context menu in Windows Explorer. Open up a new Cygwin terminal as administrator (this is important!) and run:

chere -i -t mintty

This will add a new entry to open up a mintty (bash) shell at the current directory. There are also options to specify the shell to open (-s zsh etc) and the text in the shortcut (-e "Custom text" etc). If completed successfully, you should see a new ‘Bash Prompt Here’ context menu entry:

Bash Prompt Here Entry

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New Environment Variable Editor in Windows 10

The old environment variable editor in Windows has never been the best in terms of user experience. The main editor window was not resizeable and the two listboxes showing user and system environment variables were both small - making it awkward to manage a lot of variables. The problem got even worth when editing the PATH environment variable, which can often grow to become a rather large and unwieldy string. Previously, again the variable editor itself was not resizeable, forcing you to scroll through a small textbox to read or make changes to your PATH.

Old Windows Environment Variable Editor

Thankfully, in the new November Update for Windows 10 (build 10586), which includes enhancements to the Edge browser, Cortana, Start Menu and more, Microsoft have finally updated the Environment Variable manager.

New Windows Environment Variable Editor

The main editor window is now resizeable, making it much easier to navigate through your list of variables. The real magic however happens when editing the PATH variable, which now gets it’s own dedicated editor. Each path in the variable is now listed separately in a convenient listview, allowing you to quickly add or delete entries or change the order without having to scroll the whole string or worry about any semi-colon separators.

This new enhancement hasn’t had much attention in the latest update, but is definitely welcome nonetheless. Hopefully Microsoft will continue to update similar areas in Windows which haven’t seen any attention in years.

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Spotify - Fix Repeating Radio

Spotify Logo

I tend to use the radio in Spotify quite a bit. It’s never been the best of implementations out there, but recently it’s been more annoying than usual in terms of repeating. The radio has always liked to repeat some songs over and over again, but it has now decided to repeat entire sequences of songs.

For example, if I start a new radio I will get a sequence of songs as usual. If however I listen to something else (perhaps a random song or playlist etc) and then go back to the same radio station, I will be greeted with the exact same sequence of songs as before. As you can imagine, this has gotten annoying really quickly. Initially you can keep skipping until you get to something new, but eventually that gets way too long-winded.

A quick search on the support forums show multiple users with the same kind of issues as me, but none are recent and there are no real solutions. Thankfully, after snooping through the AppData files for Spotify, I was able to come up with a solution:

  1. Navigate to the Local AppData folder for Spotify. This should be at C:/Users/<user>/AppData/Local/Spotify
  2. Locate to the Local Storage directory inside the Browser directory. At this point you should be in AppData/Local/Spotify/Browser/Local Storage
  3. There should be two files starting with http_radio. For me they are http\_radio.app.spotify.com\_0.localstorage and http\_radio.app.spotify.com\_0.localstorage-journal. Delete both of these files
  4. Restart Spotify and the radio’s should be reset

This might just be an issue for me, or might be a bug that will be fixed at some point. If it’s a design decision they need to rethink their priorities. At least I have this relatively easy fix however. I’ve put it all into a batch file and tend to run it just before I start Spotify.

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My Experiences with Hostgator

When I first launched my blog way back in 2011 I didn’t really know a whole lot about web hosting at all and just wanted to get something tangible up and running as quick as possible. Therefore of course I had no idea what constituted a half decent web hosting company. At the time I think I was just following some online tutorial which ran through the process of setting up and hosting your own site. I registered my domain with GoDaddy as recommended (and still do with no issues) and then had to move on to actually hosting my site. The tutorial recommended Hostgator and that seemed fine to me. They had pretty good reviews and the prices for shared hosting were good for a minimal setup like mine.

I got myself their most basic shared web hosting plan which consists of a single domain and unlimited (yeah, until you start using too much of course) bandwidth/email/databases. To be honest even by today’s standards that’s pretty good going. At the time I payed $5.95/mo for 2 years of hosting which included a 20% promotion (which I later learnt is pretty much a constant thing).

Hostgator Logo

They provided a good service to me for the duration of my stay. I was able to host my Wordpress blog with no issues and could easily play around with FTP and a few MySql databases on the side. Most importantly actually was the ease of getting hold of personalised email with my domain - something that it turns out is quite messy without cPanel as I found out recently.

Throughout my use of Hostgator speed wasn’t an issue - although granted I wasn’t using it for any real strenuous activity. I also didn’t get notified of any usage issues as a lot of people do with shared hosting (again this was really only Wordpress so that’s to be as expected). cPanel is ridiculously easy to use as well so no issues there setting things up.

Then my initial two year contract expired and I realised why the initial price was so cheap. The renewal invoice was sent to me and the price had increased by a third (about $70 for the two years). Not only had the base price increased slightly, but you don’t get that nice 20% discount that you take for granted when you initially sign on. There are never any renewal discounts that I can make out. Even if you have marketing emails from them, their offers are always for new accounts - never for existing customers which is a real shame. I can of course understand why they do that in the business sense, but still I would expect some kind of special offer on renewals once in a blue moon. With hindsight, I should have threatened to leave which is when they start trying to discount things, but at the time I really didn’t want the hassle of moving everything over to a new host and was happy with the service I was getting. Another two years with Hostgator it was.

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Git - Undo Last Commit

Sometimes in Git I find myself accidentally redoing my last commit - normally when I press up to get to the last command I ran - expecting it to be something else. This is especially annoying when using git commit -am which will include all of the changed files in the new commit.

Fortunately, in Git it’s easy to undo your last commit (as long as you haven’t pushed it to any remotes yet). Just the one command is needed to revert the last commit to your local repository:

git reset HEAD~1

This is demonstrated in the below contrived example where I do an accidental commit, undo the commit using the above command and finally do a quick git status to confirm that the file in the commit has been reverted and is outside of the staging area. After this, the commit is no longer included in the git log and you would be free to make further changes to it (and others) and do a new commit as normal when ready.

Git Undo Commit Example

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