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Windows being annoying

When you use the context menu in Explorer, or the image previewer, it pops up various options. One of these options is the "Send to" menu, which makes it fairly easy to send files directly to a pre-paired Bluetooth device.

The problem here is that Send to is not quick. It takes several seconds... not entirely sure why it's that slow, but it is what it is.

Couldn't there be a better way? Like, say, to put a "Send to Bluetooth" directly on the main context menu?

In theory, yes. In reality, no.

Adding something to the main context menu is not difficult.

Registry entries for a new option
Registry entries for a new option.
Yes, my old PC runs XP. Get over it.

Under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shell, simply create a new key with a suitable name.
Then set the value of that key to what you want to appear in the menu. You can use an '&' to suffix a letter to be used as a hotkey, so you might say "Send to &Bluetooth". Unlike icons, there will be no underline to highlight the shortcut, however opening the menu and pressing 'B' shows that it works just fine.

Now create a sub-key called "command" and set that to the value of the command to execute. For instance you might try "notepad %1" or the like.

This is where things fall apart with the Bluetooth idea.

The default Windows Bluetooth stack, introduced in one of the XP service packs, uses a program called fsquirt.exe that is hiding in \Windows\System32.

This program has four possible ways of operating:

fsquirt Opens the Bluetooth Send/Receive tool.
fsquirt -send Opens the Bluetooth tool ready to send.
fsquirt -receive Opens the Bluetooth tool ready to receive.
fsquirt -Embedded Opens the Bluetooth tool for automated sending.

It is not possible to pass other parameters, such as a filename. Doing that will behave as if no parameters were given.

The -send option is a dud because while it opens with the device selection as one would expect, the very next thing is does is prompt for a file to send.

The actual way to send files via Bluetooth, as checked using Process Explorer, is the -Embedded option in which case it will enter into some sort of (OLE?) dialogue to pick up the file to send. However this only appears to work in the context of the Send to menu. When called from elsewhere, fsquirt will start up silently and then immediately quit.
Thanks for that, Microsoft. Never thought somebody might want to programmatically send files, like at the command line or something?


I'm just rummaging around the filesystem wasting time. I've borrowed Game of Thrones season 3 from the library and I'm ripping them to .mp4 so I can watch it on my tablet. Somewhere I have a regular DVD player, but haven't had a TV for a long time.

The only unfortunate thing is that DVD is so old, subtitling is handled by having lowish resolution overlay images that are placed over the screen. It was likely simpler to do that than to provide formatting and rendering of text. What this means though is that it's not possible to capture or embed the subtitles without literally burning them into the video permanently. So... yeah... let's just hope there's not too much being said in the show's made-up language.


A quieter day

I was thinking of going to Châteaubriant today. But it's a grey and miserable day. Okay, it's unusually warm being a little over 13°C (and there's a forecast of 18°C tomorrow?!), but it comes with driving rain and violent winds. Clearly some sort of storm passing through.
I won't complain about the warm. It was 8°C in the kitchen, so I opened the front and back door and after a few moments (spent picking up stuff the wind blowing through scattered), it was nearly 11°C. Much nicer than <cough> two </cough>.

But, alas, it didn't seem like a great day for a longish journey to Big Town. So instead I went to the regular town and the regular supermarket. At which point I realised it's the first time I'd been out and/or spoken and/or interacted with people since I came home on the evening of the 23rd.
Told you I was a hardcore introvert!

Sadly, tomorrow (31st), then New Years, then the Monday after, and then it's back to work. <sigh> The week passed really quickly. And it's not like I actually did anything much.

Anyway, I thought this might amuse you.

Some bubbly
Some bubbly.

On the left, sparkling grape juice. On the right, sparkling apple juice. Neither contain alcohol as I have an unpleasant reaction to alcohol (think: "like food poisoning"). Unfortunately the not-champagne was mixed up on the shelf and I wasn't paying enough attention. So the one I actually bought was a "Mojito" flavoured one, which going by the label is mint and lime.
I can't stand mint!

As I was going home, I noticed the nice English couple were there for a few days over Christmas, so I stopped by to say hello and happy new year. They brought over two Just Chicken Fray Bentos pies (yes!) and accepted the not-champagne in return. The pies are €2 each (which makes the prices over here a piddly-take, and then there's the shipping...) and the not-champagne was just under €4, so not much difference really. I spoke to the woman for a while as she regaled me with tales of horror of how much electricity costs in England these days.
After a while, I was moved to ask "is there anybody in Britain that isn't trying to rip off everybody else?". That being said, I regard these people as friends, so the only political comment I made was about Truss trashing the economy and everybody's interest rates shooting up. In addition to petrol, electricity, rent... you name it.

But the really WTF thing for me is that she's a nurse. And it seems that hospitals have all outsourced their parking to private companies. Which means, now, the nurses are expected to pay to park in the car park of the hospital where they work. And it's like £8 a day or something (or about £160 a month, or around £1,800 a year - FFS!!!).
I think it's utterly reprehensible that the hospitals don't have some sort of arrangement where they can park for free at their place of work. There's a lot broken in Britain, and this just seems to highlight the stupidity and thoughtlessness of a lot of it.


Speaking of broken Britain...

A few days ago, Farage dribbled in the soul cemetery:
Some random bollocks
Some random bollocks.

The replies were interesting. While he may be the eventual cause of the downfall of the Tories with his shiny new shitfest party, and he may get enough older white people voting to give them a few seats, the typical responses looked a lot like this:

Some retorts
Some retorts.

Of course, in the mind of a Brexiteer, it's the meddling Remainers who have buggered everything up. That it's a terrible idea based upon such a huge amount of bullshit that you'd have to be an idiot to believe any of it never occurs to them.
There are no sunny uplands. It's more like the dark satanic mills, just wait until Rees-Mogg sorts out employment by opening work houses (to get Britain's manufacturing going!).


Spam/scam text

I received this the other day on my backup (Bouygues) phone.

A lump of scammy spam
A lump of scammy spam.

Looking at the website, it says:

Delivery error (note that I'm actually translating this from French)
Your most recent delivery was interrupted. It is currently waiting for you at the parcel centre in XYZZY.
The parcel that was sent to you did not respect the indicated weight, therefore we require you to pay an additional fee in order to finalise the transportation of your parcel.
The fee demanded is €0,99.
To pay this, please click the button below.
Once this fee has been paid, your parcel will be delivered as quickly as possible.
In the case that this fee is not paid within the next 48 hours, your parcel will be returned to its sender.

Clicking on the Continue button asks for your address. Which I duly provided.
It would seem that I am called "You F***ing Twats" and I live at "27 C*nt Avenue, F***ston, Soggy Gusset".
I wonder if the con artists understand English?

Clicking the continue button once more asks for your bank card details. Which, of course, I duly provided thanks to an online fake card number generator.

Then a message popped up to say that my delivery will happen as soon as possible, and after a few seconds I was tossed into the real Chronopost website.


Okay, so let's see what we have here. It's not a bad scam attempt if you're an older person that doesn't know much tech stuff. The link given has the words "suivi" (track) and "chronopost" (like ParcelForce). Also, being sent around Christmas they may think that somebody, maybe a family member, sent a parcel.
It also uses an implied threat (pay within 48 hours or it'll be returned) to make them want to pay and not ask too many questions. After all, the €0,99 isn't that big a deal, right? The site uses encryption and it says it's a secure payment system.
So, pay up and wait for the parcel to arrive, no big deal, right?


Now let's look at it from the point of view of a geek. First of all, it's clearly not the real Chronopost site. Secondly, and the biggest red flag of all, is that there is no reference to a parcel number. I have never received a communication from any parcel carrier that didn't mention the parcel number (even if, in the case of the handwritten "I missed you" slips, it's damn near unreadable!).

The next thing is that if you've had any dealings with the post office, you might happen to know where your parcel sorting centre is. The town mentioned (given here as "Zyzzy") was probably obtained by attempting to geo-localise my IP address. It's not where the parcels for this area are sorted. I know, I've had to go there to collect something.
As a quick test to confirm this theory, I switched to 4G and entered the URL into a new private tab, and it told me that my parcel was in Paris, which is where stuff thinks my public IP address is located when it's not telling me it's somewhere in PACA (the other end of the country).

Next, there's no need whatsoever to ask for your address. Logically if they have your parcel, they know the address. That's only being asked in order to have a cardholder name and address to tie up with the credit card that they'll subsequently ask for.

As for the credit card, these are generally handled by embedded payment processors rather than the site accepting card details itself. There are many arduous hoops that a site that holds card details (Amazon and FDJ come to mind) have to go through in order to maintain a proper level of security of personal information. Most places (like a recent order from Gémo) just use a payment portal. I'd imagine that the post office does likewise, but I cannot check without creating an account, so I won't.

If you're a nerd, you'll spot that the URL is [etc etc]. It's the usual sort of gibberish that you might expect to see, and it quickly fills the URL bar.

But get the card number wrong (on purpose) and look at the URL when it asks you to re-enter it, the end of the URL is much more interesting... &errorccnum=1&errorccexp=0&errorccvv=0&&ccnum=1234123412341234&ccexp=12/34&ccvv=123 so it's simply bunging the information into the GET request. Dumb bastards couldn't even manage to hide this stuff in a POST request. Jeeezus.

And, I'm sure, the eventual debit on your account will be a fair bit more than the ninety nine luftballons that they asked for.


I can see how the less clued might inadvertantly fall for this. At least my phone did a solid and flagged it as spam, so I actually had to go looking to see what the message was (that's why it is shown with the red warning icon).

That being said, in this day and age, there should not really be an excuse for falling for this sort of scam. Okay, so they have a parcel waiting. What's the parcel number? Why isn't there one? What's the site that link is taking you to? Simply saying "Chronopost" isn't enough.

Actual Chronopost text messages show up as being from Chronopost, they use SenderID to set the title of the conversation to say Chronopost, rather than just being from a random mobile number, so it appears like this:

A real text message
A real text message.

It looks slightly different as this one is on my older phone (with Orange). The use of Sender ID isn't foolproof, but it's better than 06 07 blah blah. Additionally, looking down the list, what I can say is that every single message mentions the parcel number.

Sadly, however, some poor sods will fall for this and end up a little lighter than expected at the end of the month.



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David Pilling, 30th December 2022, 23:05
Here in Blackpool (I doubt these numbers will be much different to elsewhere in England): 
Electricity 48.88p/kWh less the energy price guarantee 17p/kWh plus 5% VAT equals 33.4 pence per kWh 
Gas 14.05p/kWh less the energy price guarantee 4.22p/kWh plus 5% VAT equals 10.32 pence per kWh 
There is a small additional "standing charge" per day. 
How do they compare? 
I might have fallen for that scam - it is a common scam though, being asked to pay would worry me. 
Big lad at the front door this morning "I am a former offender, on a sales scheme, would you be interested...". No I would not, good luck though. According to Google, it is a scam, they don't send out young offenders door to door. 
Rick, 31st December 2022, 00:38
No idea about gas prices. 
For my electricity, the billing is horrendously complicated as I think you may recall? Suffice to say, I guestimate about €0,25/kWh, all inclusive. 
I would certainly NOT be happy to have somebody on my doorstep saying they were a former offender. That sounds like it carries an implicit threat, like "I'm bad ass enough that I went inside so don't mess". Certainly, I'd have imagined that any real former offender doing a job would, you know, do the job and not introduce themselves in that way, which will immediately put you at unease and also cause them to be prejudged based upon something they did, maybe many years ago. 
Luckily living remote there are few who turn up here by accident. Also with a long driveway surrounded by uneven terrain of fields, it's not an ideal place for burglary because the only way in is a half kilometre that's also the only way out, unless one turns up in a tank or a tractor. Or maybe a 2CV, those little buggers can drive across just about anything. 
Rick, 31st December 2022, 00:42
It might be an urban myth, but a Frenchie once told me that one of the design tests for the 2CV was to safely carry a pregnant woman and a pack of eggs across a ploughed field. 
Certainly, back in the late '90s, the neighbour used to check his corn canon by tearing across the field (not a tractor run, straight across the actual field) in one. 
He now uses a quad. Meh. 
VinceH, 31st December 2022, 02:40
On the subject of electricity and gas prices, I (finally) got my heating bill just before Chrimbo, covering 1/4/2021-31/3/2022. My 'unit charge' was 27.something pence. I've no idea how those units equate to kWh; it's a communal heating system and the usage for each flat is worked out based on some temperature differential fudge, then the whole year's charges are divided up according to each flat's usage. There's also a standing charge based on floor space, and a separate useage charge for hot water. 
I won't know what the cost is of what I'm using now until they work it out next year - supposedly done in October, but as I said; just before Christmas this time. (Which is a terrible way to do it, especially considering quite a few people in these flats are pensioners!)9 
Of the useage, I'm only able to read the heating myself, so to hopefully -over- estimate, I've taken my total bill for last year, and divided that by the heating units used, giving about 39p, then rounded up and doubled it. I.e. I'm working on the assumption that the equivalent bill next year will equate to 80p per heating unit (allowing for hot water and standing charge), and hoping it'll actually be less. 
David Pilling, 31st December 2022, 02:54
UK should have built dozens of nuclear power stations like France... 
Send to - maybe put what command is being executed on RAM disc - it probably has to go through all the complexity of running a command. 
J.G.Harston, 2nd January 2023, 14:45
Hey, my main programming PC is XP because it's the last system that will propertly do full-screen at the character resolution that I specify. When I'm doing PDP11 work and I want a 80x25 display, I want a 80x25 display, dammit. 
J.G.Harston, 2nd January 2023, 14:56
"UK should have built dozens of nuclear power stations like France..." 
Somebody back in 2010 said it was pointless to build new power stations as they wouldn't come on stream until 2022.......... Hope being president of Facebook keeps him warm at night. 

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