Windows Tips & Tricks To Make Life Simpler 
Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer, 27 January 2012
As a Computer Science major, I have learned how to do a lot of things in the command-line that make using the computer much easier. Some of these tricks make it even quicker than the GUI of Windows or any other modern operating system. The following are some simple tricks to make Windows easier to use.

Symbolic Links: If there is a directory that you use frequently that's buried under multiple directories, and you don't want to continuously go through all of those folders, a symbolic link will do the trick. You'll need administrative privileges and a PC running Vista or newer. This Microsoft webpage explains the syntax required to create a symbolic link using Command Prompt.

Change the PATH variable: This normally is only done on UNIX and Linux machines, but it works in Windows too. Go to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced system settings, and then click on Environment Variables in the corner. In the lower box, scroll until you find a variable called Path, and then click on the button to modify it. You can put any absolute path in there, as long as the list remains semicolon-delimited. Whenever you run a *.exe command in Command Prompt from now on, if Windows can find it in one of the directories in the Path variable, all you have to do is type the executable name on the command-line and hit enter. This segways nicely into the third tip...

Use UNIX-named commands via Cygwin: As you may know, Cygwin is a UNIX emulator for Windows that allows you to use anything you could use on a UNIX system in Windows without installing UNIX itself. Well, if you want to use those commands without loading Cygwin independently of Command Prompt, here's what to do.
1) Add the bin directory immediately under the directory you installed Cygwin into to the Path variable as described above (by default, this should be C:\cygwin\bin\).
2) Reboot (for some reason Windows requires a reboot to reload its environment variables).
3) You're set. You have to type .exe after each command that is really a binary file. There will probably be some unusual behavior, but the commands will execute properly since Windows knows where to find the binary executables.

Creating Environmental Variables: If there's a folder you use frequently, you can create an environmental variable to make getting to it easier. First, go to the window to edit Environment Variables as described above in the trick for the Path variable. Then, in the top box, click New. Assign a case-sensitive name to your variable, and then type the absolute path to the desired directory. The path may contain other environment variables, if your path includes the paths they point to. After a reboot, typing %YourEnvironmentVariable% in Windows Explorer will go directly to the folder you set it to.

Run Programs Using Environment Variables: As an extension to the previous tip, if you input the absolute path to an actual executable (*.exe) file, typing in %YourEnvironmentVariable% in Command Prompt will run the executable file that the variable points to. This can be helpful if the executable file is buried deep in your filesystem or if its path includes numerous spaces and/or special characters.

Aliases: Simple text substitution allows you to type a whole heck of a lot less to do the exact same command. This MSDN page explains how to use Command Prompt to create aliases for Windows, so I'll let Microsoft explain this one for you. I will say that if you use the doskey.exe method they explain, do not enclose your commands inside quotes or it won't work!

Load Cygwin Instead of Windows Command Prompt When Opening Windows Command Prompt Last Edited by Jeffrey Meyer, 29 July 2011
To automatically have Cygwin load whenever you load the usual Windows Command Prompt, go here and follow the steps for changing cmd.exe to a BASH shell, but instead of typing in the location of bash.exe for the new line in regedit, type in the location of Cygwin.bat. I have verified this to work properly in Windows 7. And, unlike Cygwin's shortcut, which cannot be pinned to the Windows 7 Taskbar, your Command Prompt shortcut can be pinned to the shortcut, and everytime you run Command Prompt while logged in as the user you changed it for in regedit, it will open Cygwin instead. Note: you will still see the Microsoft Corporation line including the copyright and your Windows build, since these lines are echoed to the standard output (the screen) upon launching cmd.exe. We are telling cmd.exe to automatically run a file (in this case, Cygwin.bat), immediately after loading itself, and since we are doing it this way, the Microsoft copyright notice will always appear (until clear is executed, of course!). Also, please note, you must already have Cygwin installed locally for this to work.

UPDATE: Your integrated development environment (IDE) may hang when trying to compile anything on Windows using this trick. You could, of course, temporarily disable it while doing your programming in your IDE and then re-enable it afterwards.

Software Download Agreement v1.0.20110726 Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer, 26 Jul 2011
Please note that the Software Download Agreement has been updated to version 1.0.20110726. All software packages on this site licensed under a previous version of the Agreement are now under the new version, which is effective as of July 26, 2011. Any software packages downloaded and licensed under previous versions of the Agreement are also assumed to be licensed under the new version. The updated terms may be viewed by clicking the usual links on the website.

Software Download Agreement v1.20110608 Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer 8 June 2011
Please note that the terms of the Software Download Agreement have changed as of June 8, 2011. The current terms of the Software Download Agreement can be found by clicking on the link at the bottom of any page on this website, including this one. Please be aware that all "Software" licensed under the Agreement prior to June 8, 2011 is also now licensed under the terms of the new terms of the Agreement (previous copies of Software licensed under this Agreement downloaded prior to June 8, 2011 are also now considered under the new terms of the license).

New Magic The Gathering Deck Analyzer Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer 8 June 2011
I have just updated a new Magic The Gathering deck analyzing tool. It is under the "Excel Spreadsheets" section on the menu to the left. Please remember to read all the details before downloading and/or using these new tools, including their licensing under the Software Download Agreement.

Update On Mana Curve Generator version 0.1 Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer 27 May 2011
Please note that when I wrote version 0.1 of Mana Curve Generator, I forgot to delete the variable holding some of the data inside the program, and that the result is a memory leak. If you want to fix the leak yourself, add delete[] cost; immediately preceding the } which closes the while loop in the source code. Otherwise, simply input N or n each time the program prompts you to continue using the program and re-load it. Either of these two workarounds will eliminate the memory leak. Also, I have verified that the code successfully runs under UNIX if the source code is compiled inside UNIX using the G++ compiler in UNIX itself. Just a few updates about the Man Curve Generator project.

DiceRoller versions 1.0, 4.0 Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer 27 May 2011
The code files and executables for both versions 1.0 and 4.0 have been uploaded to this website under the appropriate software categories. Also, note that there is a dependency for version 4.0 if you want to compile the executable file yourself (it's in the Miscellaneous Files category under Software).

Mana Curve Generator v0.1 Last Edited by Jeffrey Meyer, 19 May 2011
A new program, Mana Curve Generator v0.1, has been uploaded to the website. It may be found under the Console Programs category under Software in the menu to the left of all pages on this site. A few pages (including this one), were also updated in the process of getting this new program uploaded onto the site. Take a look around and see what you find.

Site Update Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer, 14 May 2011
The site has recently undergone some updates, especially to layout and navigation. Please make sure all of your bookmarks to pages other than the home page are up-to-date and working. Thanks!

Oops! Last Updated by Jeffrey Meyer, 14 May 2011
In an attempt to apply a template to this News page, the content that was previously on this page got erased. There is no archive of it, no backup. Some search engine may have archived it a while ago (since this site has been in operation for about 3 years now), but that's about the only way the data's coming back, and since there really wasn't much important stuff up here anyways, I'm not going to try to recover it. Just letting you all know about that. Also, the site is going through somewhat of a redesign again, so watch your bookmarks, they may or may not still function. Thanks!

Copyright (c) Jeffrey Meyer, 2008-2011. | Software Download Agreement