Archive for the ‘Computer Software Fixes & Patches (Windows)’ Category

Planets With Atmospheres: Almost Available?

26-Apr-18 03:00 pm EST Leave a comment



Frontier staff have recently been heard hinting that planet atmospheres could be gradually rolled into players’ Elite Dangerous Experience soon!


or me, a veteran Elite CMDR who has been playing various versions of the game since its introduction in 1983 (yes — I am that old) being able to interact with planets regardless of whether they have an atmosphere or not is simply a basic feature.  Although the initial release of Elite back in 1983 offered only single-planet star systems where the “planet” was really just a line-art circle (whose surface would result in the loss of your Cobra Mk III craft if you ran into it), Elite II and Elite II: Frontier both enabled you to take off from partially-terraformed moon Merlin in the Ross 154 star system.  There, one could see the reddish sky and the eerie gas giant Aster dominating the skyline from the tarmac of the local starport with the lights of a nearby domed city also in-view.  Elite Dangerous has taken us back in some respects to an earlier time when such extravagances as being blasted to dust for not requesting tower clearance prior to liftoff from said planet-bound starport was but a glint in David Braben’s eye.  (Braben is, of course, the mastermind behind the Elite franchise as well as the original programmer.)

CMDR ObsidianAnt who runs an extremely popular running commentary on Elite Dangerous shares with us in his latest YT-cast a preview of what might (and should) be coming throughout 2018 and perhaps 2019 by merging the view of an Asp Explorer spaceframe with a short demo of worlds created using a tool called Space Engine, available for download here.  ObsidianAnt says that Space Engine and Elite Dangerous are “two very different pieces of software” in his video, but perhaps not being a software developer himself he’s missing some background.  Whatever code is used as the basis for Space Engine, I’m extremely skeptical at the outset that the two titles (the other being Elite Dangerous) can’t be integrated.  True, there are numerous tasks associated with software integration methodology, but speaking as a systems developer (my own strength) I’ve been tasked with taking two “very different” pieces of software and experienced some degree of success in getting the job done several times in my career.  Superficially, I’m not seeing any architectural issues or other seemingly insurmountable challenges.  Frontier Developments has a very capable team of software engineers, obviously — and it would be something just short of unimaginable to say a 3rd-party product like Space Engine can’t be made to work with Elite.

Of course, one must keep in mind the console platforms which might introduce challenges I could, in fact, not imagine.  But on the PC, it’s unlikely to my mind the effects we’re seeing in Space Engine can’t be successfully migrated to Elite Dangerous.  At the very least having a perusal of the Space Engine source could cultivate stronger implementations of atmospheres on the worlds of Elite Dangerous.

If you have a different take on this subject, please chime in with a comment below.

And regardless of the timeliness of new feature intros to the game — kudos to Frontier Developments, creators of Elite Dangerous, for creating a truly immersive and enjoyable spaceflight sim.  We’re all on the edge of our seats waiting for that next “big thing” to come out….we know you won’t let us down!


Elite Dangerous Launcher Locks Out All CMDRS!

16-Mar-18 01:39 am EST Leave a comment

Just filed the following ticket with Frontier Store support:

I am currently having multiple problems with my Elite Horizons installer and ticketing system.  First I got the following a short while ago trying to use the launcher app:


After attempting a re-install of the launcher which also failed, I attempted to launch a support ticket.  This resulted in the following from the Frontier support website:

Invalid response from user account service

….and no matter how many times I’ve tried to access my account through changing my password on the support maintenance site, I still get the same above errors!

What is going on?  I can’t file this trouble ticket on the website — how should I proceed???

Extremely frustrated with all the errors experienced playing Elite lately,
(CMDR Trium Augus)
{omitted, use:}

Fresh New Look for The AppRefactory Inc.

03-Nov-16 09:23 am EST Leave a comment

fter 3+ years hosted at, it was time to finally take The AppRefactory Inc. company website into a modern hosting environment with features and integration potential that would allow us to demonstrate, albeit in brief, what ASP.NET MVC could offer.  Dynamic product listings with breadcrumb sub-navigation, upload sections for partner contracts and résumés; and database-driven contact forms that make it easier than ever (and convenient) to stay in touch are all just the beginning.  In the days ahead we still expect to add:


The AppRefactory Inc. website redeployment announcement graphic:

  • Links to customer features site (requiring login) via Office365, Visual Studio (online ed.) and SharePoint,
  • Highlights and links to ongoing software development currently being undertaken by the company,
  • Book time online with a consultant to review your software service needs or setup an in-depth remote service session online through,
  • Subscription for partner companies and contacts looking for email updates consultant availability and/or major site & service offering revisions, and
  • Links to and related sites for specific product integrations (Windows desktop, server and phone all to be included).

So stay tuned!  There’s much more yet to come….and you won’t want to miss any of it.

(Additional graphics related to the new website can be found on our listing.)

AR CamFeeder 1.0.1 (beta) Released to UI Testing

16-Sep-14 06:07 pm EST Leave a comment

amFeeder, reflecting my latest work, has been deployed to the AppRefactory website.  It’s not in an ideal state just yet, but does offer the main UI to serve as the platform for future refinements of a tool that effectively replaces a much older utility that once existed for Yahoo’s application platform (which I forget the name of).  It features a simple XML file that contains data about web query strings and URLs needed to display and, eventually, capture imagery from traffic cameras anywhere in the world!  Because I live in the city of Ottawa (Canada), I’ve added a selection of cameras from this city’s own traffic monitoring service – but any camera with a web-based feed should be compatible.

AR CamFeeder screenshot (taken September 16, 2014); illustrating the auto-tiling camera feed feature.

AR CamFeeder screenshot (taken September 16, 2014); illustrating the auto-tiling camera feed feature.

Indeed, it would be particularly helpful to receive feedback from persons editing the XML file (called camopts.xml) in the application’s folder in other cities.  Currently AR CamFeeder is available only for Windows; but I expect to have a different version readied for Android smartphones in early 2015.

This was also an opportunity for a trial run using InstallShield as a package and deployment technology in concert with Microsoft Visual Studio 2013.  The Limited Edition package isn’t bad at all; offering a time-unlimited means to archive an entire windows application within a setup.exe and tailor all of the settings one used to need the Windows SDK and Orca to tweak properly (at least some of the time).  It is this setup.exe made available for download from The AppRefactory Inc. website you’ll be using to do the installation if you’d like to review the package or play around with adding your own cameras.

If you’d like to add your name to a usability testers list, get in touch with me via and I’ll add your name to the group list; with thanks for your assistance in advance.

To the rest: enjoy AR CamFeeder during this trial phase at no cost.  (Fear not: more features will be in the full release which, it is still hoped, will be a free download.)

AR HelpOuts Launched!

10-Sep-14 08:07 pm EST Leave a comment

he AppRefactory Inc. launches its first service offering today with the debut of a partnership with Google Inc. through Google Helpouts.  This further enhances the company’s service offerings in the application maintenance and support space; but also extends its services to more generalized support of the tools and technologies it uses throughout its service delivery process.  Support is being offered through Google Helpouts for technologies and platforms like:

  • G HelpoutsLogoMicrosoft Visual Studio (all ediitions, 2005-2013)
  • Programming Language Support / Tutorials:
    • Visual C#
    • Visual Basic / VB.NET
    • Java
    • JavaScript
    • HTML
    • XML
    • SQL
    • VBScript
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server
  • Microsoft Windows / Microsoft Windows Server
  • Microsoft Office / MS Office VBA
  • Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Apache WebServer
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server
  • Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF)
  • Microsoft Windows Workflow (WF)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
  • Web Services

…and much, much more!

Google Helpouts also offers payment features that allows either the business or individual user to use services on a demand basis easily.  And with this launch, the service is being offered, for a limited time, with a free support instance — giving potential customers an opportunity to “try-and-buy” for a fixed 20-minute session, without charges or fees applied.  (See Google Helpouts terms & conditions for more info.)

AddThis Chrome Extension Displays Empty Service List: Solution Found!

25-Jan-11 08:12 pm EST 4 comments

make it a point to try and share solutions I find to any computer issues that are particularly disruptive – or those which prompt me to post to support forums seeking assistance.  This is partly to ensure others who experience the same trouble as I can find the solution themselves somewhere at the very least (particularly if I encounter a problem that seems to have no solutions posted since I make it a point to do research before asking questions — RTFM, right?), and to expose my approach to public scrutiny in case there’s a more efficient method I’ve overlooked.  And, by all means, please add your comment(s) in this blog if you’ve got something to contribute.  More comments on a given topic increases the likelihood of matching searches on that problem topic.


There should be a list of services which would allow the user to select their favourite sharing mechanism for any web page displayed, as in the view above.


And so, what problem got solved?  Well a rather mysterious behaviour was being reported by several using the latest update of Google Chrome: the extension installs successfully, the orange “plus-sign” that serves as the AddThis icon appears in the Chrome toolbar – you click it, and the bubble containing the list of services you could link the currently displayed web page to appears….containing no services whatsoever.  Puzzled, you then right-click the toolbar AddThis button which yields the typical pop-up with “Options” menu item only to find a similarly empty service list customization screen.  Where’d all the services go?

Well after theorizing that it was a problem with Microsoft Windows 7 or Vista (since the XP machines I’d tested it on seemed to have no trouble loading it properly), but then discovering this wasn’t the issue, I finally tracked down where Google Chrome stores all the extensions logic on client workstations and started examining the JavaScript.  Eventually I realized one of the key JavaScript files which was not stored locally on the client workstations wasn’t being loaded…thus causing the locally-stored JavaScript to fail at exactly the point where the service lists are displayed.

Was it a networking problem?  Sort of.  In Windows it’s possible to store a text file in a key Windows system subfolder to override the network (IP) address of a given URL or web address  (or to be more technically accurate to override the IP address of any specific DNS entry).  It’s called a “HOSTS” file – and it’s typically stored in a folder matching the path “C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\”.  Now, by default, this file contains only some commented-out information when Windows is first installed.  It’s expected that if you choose to edit the HOSTS file, you are aware that entries made therein will override network addresses for websites as far as your machine is concerned.  (Obviously changing a file on your own system isn’t going to alter network addresses for everyone else on the Internet.)

One popular use of the HOSTS file is to take a phishing site or perhaps sites featuring adult content or other spamming web sites and assign their URLs to a special IP network address which refers to the machine the HOSTS file itself is on:  (This address referred to as “localhost” or “loopback”.)  Why would anyone want to do that?  Well if the hostile website you’ve been forwarded to by accidentally opening a link in an email that appeared legitimate or perhaps a virus wants to send sensitive info from your machine to a known hostile URL – adding the address to the HOSTS file and overriding its destination back to your own machine nicely prevents the harmful or undesirable network access from occurring.

Beyond this, there are a lot of advertisements online which can slow down performance and you might not want to have to deal with pop-ups and display ads all the time.  (I’m in that group!)  So I periodically obtain updates to my HOSTS file from a Microsoft MVPs website at  There are a number of helpful tools offered at this site; but I am interested in the HOSTS file because it eliminates a lot of the annoying and threatening content online.  Unfortunately, despite its utility, there are some URLs which are actually useful but which, for whatever reason (they vary), the HOSTS file author(s) have determined are a threat or otherwise undesirable.  Among these addresses were:



So what this article discussed was the cause and solution for one possible scenario that could cause the absence of services being displayed from all elements of the AddThis interface in the Google Chrome web browser platform (all versions which support extensions so far).  It was discovered that specific network settings (located in a text file with a default Windows 7 pathname of “C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS”) blocked a network address upon which the AddThis application is entirely dependent was blocked, causing the aforementioned absent services behaviour.  While the HOSTS file was the cause of this particular issue, it stands to reason that any network management tools or software (eg. anti-virus/spam, Windows firewall or other firewall management hardware/software, etc.) could potentially cause the same behaviour.  If you are experiencing the behaviour described above, your troubleshooting efforts should include checking your network settings – especially those which could block IP network addresses.

As always; comments and questions are welcome.


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