Blog du Tristank

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Profile-On-A-Stick

Profile-On-A-Stick

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I read items like this with interest.

After recently flattening, installing, rebuilding or migrating a bunch of machines, I started to develop my "minimum customized set" that makes my life on a Windows box more comfortable.

Jeff blogged a while back about how extensive customization was best avoided. I agree: I used to be a customization freak back when I had a single computer: I molded it to my personality, drew custom icons, special desktop backgrounds, ran WindowBlinds, the works. Now, I have three and a half home computers, two and three quarters work computers, and a reasonably high rebuild rate while testing beta-this and alpha-careful-it'll-hose-your-machine that.

Customization is a lossy art; little flecks detach and are lost as you move from computer to computer, profile to profile. I never have quite the same profile twice.

But I started making a concerted effort to have a usable baseline this time around. Here's a quick list of what my "do this on new computers" folder looks like now:

Directory of C:\Users\tristank\Documents\!Sync\!Tweak

05/03/2008  04:08 PM    <DIR>          .
05/03/2008  04:08 PM    <DIR>          ..
29/02/2008  12:24 PM               115 DownloadThese.cmd
29/02/2008  12:12 PM               526 IEMaxConnectionsRegValues.cmd
29/02/2008  12:05 PM                63 NotepadInSendTo.cmd
29/02/2008  01:25 PM               237 OneNoteIconDefaults.cmd
05/03/2008  03:52 PM                91 OutlookEmailTemplate.cmd
05/03/2008  04:13 PM               147 Puretext.cmd
05/03/2008  04:05 PM    <DIR>          resources
05/03/2008  04:06 PM                36 ResourcesFolder.cmd
04/03/2008  04:05 PM                46 WireShark.cmd
               9 File(s)          1,261 bytes

Basically, the minimum "oh, I need to go back and set that" set of customizations that I need to apply to a Windows machine I'll be using for an extended period. Not exactly sexy, but it supports starting with any profile and modifying it, so the footprint's tiny. Update: All non-EXE/BMP/WAV files are in a Skydrive folder here.

I would (of course!) argue that all my customizations should be set by default, but then my needs ain't the needs of the many.

On a new computer, I just have to go get the Foldershare satellite, sync my main sync folder, then double-click for each customization.

File stuff like my Outlook email template (with my custom "Debug Spew" monospaced uncoloured formatting style) and sound effects for server-side email rules are stored in the Resources folder (along with the Notepad.lnk file to be copied into %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo)

It'd be so much cooler (and unquestionably easier) to just shove a USB key into the monitor and have everything ready for me as I logged on, so I live in hope. The article above keeps that hope alive!

A profile-on-a-stick is looking increasingly viable - someone mentioned a 16GB thumbdrive the other day, and if they double every 18 months, we're pretty close to being able to store all my actually-needing-portability "Documents and Settings" for a while to come.

Using a profile-in-the-cloud would solve many of my issues, but might cost a lot in bandwidth terms (and living here in Australia, bandwidth is still very expensive when talking about tens of gigabytes)...

Comments
  • My (yet to be written) config script on XP will do the following.  It's mostly just writing reg values so shouldn't be tricky.

    1. Write dumpster values for Outlook

    2. set cscript as default

    3. Set c:\_utils in path

    4. Set buffer on cmd to 3000

    5. Copy cmd.exe to quick launch

    6. Add Notepad2 to context menu

    7. Add Admin tools to Start Menu

    8. Install Task switcher powertoy

    9. Put Notepad in the Sendto

    10. Try and configure folder options (Details View,classic windows,Hide file extensions, show all files etc)

    11. Set cmd to c:\ (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Command Processor\Autorun)

    I remember from doing work on a desktop roll out configuring folder options is far more difficult than it should be.  

  • Add CMDHere powertoy (or just push it into the registry) and yell "yay".

    Folder options are something like a stupid shell property bag thingo persisted to the registry. Not customize-friendly. Bwah.

  • G'day Tristan. Any chance you could share the contents of those .cmd files?  Cheers, Mark

  • Certainly a possibility, but I'm going to be lazy and just share them (with a little typing).

    There's a public SkyDrive folder here - I've plonked everything except my custom EXE/BMP/WAV resources in there.

    http://cid-459ac22ca12052d0.skydrive.live.com/browse.aspx/

    Allfiles.zip has a microcosm of the stuff in the folder (no readme, though).

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