• Back from the past: ASCII MOVIES

    Today I’ve found in my bookmarks a few links about an old passion shared between many IT enthusiasts in the 80s: ASCII Art.

    Small pieces of art, ancient mosaics created with letters, numbers and characters from the future.

    One of the latest evolutions of this art has been the creation of animations first and entire movies. Finally we’ve seen software able to transform digital video output into ASCII animations, videogames graphic routed to ASCII terminals and the popular video player VLC to add a video plugin to reproduce videos in ASCII (with the option to see them in color).

    While many of you may remember such links, I want to share them (or at least the ones still living on the internet) to share some nostalgic memories or surprising evidences of a mysterious past…

    First of all one of the biggest classics: Star Wars

    Then Matrix

    Some good Classic Rock Videoclip

    and finally one of my favourites, Music Videos in ASCII which singer is a C64 digitized voice

    There are various other sites, however if you would like to see how a specific movie/video would look like, you can always use our favourite player, VLC, Go to VLC menu -> Preferences -> Choose “Video” -> “Output Module” and select “Color ASCII art video output” for Colorized ASCII or “ASCII-art video output”.

    Open a video file and feel the difference!

  • How to create a simple network topology

    Today I’m going to explain a simple way to create a network topology for your home needs. The solution provided would probably good enough for small offices as well, while bigger networks will need professional solutions.

    The topology the we are going to draw are to be considered as references for small networks that are slowly increasing in size. For example a few years ago we generally saw one computer per house, maybe with a modem connection to the Internet, but today we have more than one PC, smartphones, tablets, laptops, media centers, TV and small servers all connected to the internet in small/big home network.

    Therefore I see more and more often people struggling to remember what is connected to what or even what is supposed to be stored where or which name or IP are assigned to what. Summarizing… A mess…

    So in my research to solution to this problem I’ve thought to try to use something freely available to many and simple to use: LibreOffice Draw.

    I thought as well that it would have been nice to be able to use those nice Cisco icons that you can find in products like Cisco Packet Tracer and I’ve surprisingly discovered that Cisco has made available those icons to everybody in many different formats.

    Thanks to this we can now start preparing our home-made network  topology:

    1.download and install Libreoffice from this link;

    2. download the Cisco icons in JPG format at this link and uncompress the file in a folder of your choice;

    3. run Libreoffice Draw;

    4. Choose the menu Tools -> Gallery

    5. Now we are going to create a specific Theme by clicking on the button New Theme (this will open a new window);

    6. In the new window we can put a nice title (ie. “Cisco”) and then we need to choose the tab called Files;

    7. Now we choose Find and go to the folder where we decompressed the Cisco icons and then choose the path with OK;

    8. All the icons will be imported (it will take a few seconds) and then you can confirm with OK;

    9. The icons have been imported  but now you will need to have the icons window and the editing window both visible. To do this move the theme bar to the left or right of the screen. In this way you will see the editing area and the icons visible.

    10. Now you can start adding icons to the main area and by double clicking on them you’ll be able to write a multiline description (like the hostname and the IP address).

    See an example I’ve quickly drawn below:

    Sample Network Topology

    Sample Network Topology

    Now you can have all the information you want at hand and maybe do proper planning on your network for future expansion!


    UPDATE 30/07/2014: as commented by Mark Oellermann (see comments below), he has made available under a Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike V3 license which allows commercial and non-commercial use, modification and redistribution as long as the terms of the license are met. These are available at: http://www.vrt.com.au/downloads/vrt-network-equipment

    Incoming search terms:

    • libreoffice draw network exemple
  • Process Explorer 11.21 – update

    I’ve been really busy in the last two months, but now I’m back and I’ll go ahead with the analysis of Process Explorer.


    Always on top – used to put the main Process Explorer’s windows on top of all the others

    Replace Task Manager – Really interesting function. When selected, the Process Explorer will replace the original Task Manager. If you want to put the task manager back, just click again on the same option and it will be restored.

    Hide when minimized – when flagged, only the icon in the traybar will be displayed and not the icon in the taskbar.

    Allow only one instance – if enabled, it will prevent to open more than one Process Explorer at the same time.

    Confirm Kill – if checked, everytime you try to kill a process, you’ll be asked for confirmation

    CPU History in tray icon – when enabled you’ll see an icon in the traybar next to the clock with the CPU usage history

    I/O History tray icon – same than the previous option, but the I/O output will be shown

    Verify Image Signatures – If enabled, Process Explorer will checks if a process’ image has been digitally signed by a certificate authority that is trusted by the computer. The Process Explorer will show Trusted (if it’s signed and trusted), Unsigned, or “Not Verified” (if is not trusted).

    Configure Symbols – Taken from the Help file: ”

    on Windows NT and higher, if you want Process Explorer to resolve addresses for thread start addresses in the threads tab of the process properties dialog and the thread stack window then configure symbols by first downloading the Debugging Tools for Windows package from Microsoft’s web site and installing it in its default directory. Open the Configure Symbols dialog and specify the path to the dbghelp.dll that’s in the Debugging Tools directory and have the symbol engine download symbols on demand from Microsoft to a directory on your disk by entering a symbol server string for the symbol path. For example, to have symbols download to the c:symbols directory you would enter this string:


    ning in the Tray

    Configure Highlighting – Use it to define which colors you want to assign to every kind of processes

    Difference Highlight Duration Define how much time will the new processes appears in green and the closing/killed ones in red. The default is 1 second.

    Font… – Choose the font that the software will use.

    Next step is to describe the View and the Proces menus… Hope this will happen soon!

    Thank you.

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