Remove paint from plastic

It’s easier to remove paint from plastic than it may seem. The trick is knowing the right chemical to use. The method to apply it will vary, depending on whether the item is too big to soak.

This method works for toys and virtually anything else made of plastic. I learned the trick from a hobbyist who restores vintage plastic models. It works on every type of paint I’ve tried: oil and water-based? Check. Enamel, acrylic, and latex? Check. Both brush-on and spray paint? Check.

Continue reading Remove paint from plastic

Xxcopy vs Robocopy

Part of being a system administrator is copying large quantities of files around, for any number of reasons. The traditional tools for this, Copy and Xcopy, have some limitations. For this reason, two companies extended Xcopy: Microsoft, with Robocopy, and Pixelab, with Xxcopy. Let’s compare Xxcopy vs Robocopy.

Microsoft includes Robocopy with recent versions of Windows. Even when it wasn’t included, you could get it as part of the Windows Resource Kit. Xxcopy is commercial software.

Xxcopy advantages

Xxcopy’s advantages are its similarity to Xcopy and its simpicity. I most frequently used its /clone switch, like this: xxcopy /clone source destination

So if you’ve just installed a new hard drive and want to move your old one to the new one, do this:

xxcopy /clone e:\ f:\

And then you can swap the drives.

The /backup switch is safer than /clone, as it doesn’t delete any files. Since I normally used it for one-time copies to blank media, there was no perceptible difference between the two.

It really just is an extended Xcopy. Sub in something more powerful for /s and off you go.

Xxcopy disadvantages

I stopped using Xxcopy when it stopped being free for commercial use several years ago. But it worked just fine then, and presumably still works just fine now, if you’re willing to pay for it or qualify for a free license.

Some organizations won’t approve third-party software without jumping through a lot of hoops, or at all. It may very well be easier to learn Robocopy than to install Xxcopy.

Robocopy advantages

Robocopy is just there, if you’re running a fairly modern version of Windows. It’s part of the operating system, so you won’t need any approvals, and there’s nothing to download or install. That’s a huge political advantage in most companies.

I also think Robocopy’s restart capabilities with the /z switch are a bit better if the copy gets interrupted. That was the reason I started using it.

Robocopy disadvantages

I have no idea why Microsoft changed the syntax. It’s robocopy source destination files. Well, I kind of understand. Perhaps it’s more powerful this way. But it’s a lot more confusing. It’s almost as bad as the infamous PIP command.

It’s very easy to delete files you don’t mean to delete, and to copy a bunch of stuff where you don’t intend to.

If Xcopy is a hand saw, Robocopy is a power saw with no safety features on it. If you’re a little bit afraid of it, that’s good. It means your brain works. To continue the analogy, Xxcopy is a power saw with some safety features.

That said, you can put safety features on it. The problem is you have to put the safety features on yourself.

 

Linksys vs TP-Link

If you’re looking for the pros and cons of Linksys vs TP-Link, I have experience with both and I’m glad to share it.

Linksys is a well established brand. From 2003 to 2013, they were Cisco’s consumer products division. Since 2013, they’ve been part of Belkin. Prior to Cisco buying them, they were an independent company, founded in 1988. Linksys was the first company to sell 100 million routers.

I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of TP-Link. They were founded in 1996 but if you were buying their stuff before 2005, you’re well ahead of me.

Continue reading Linksys vs TP-Link

Cleaning the Windows registry – and optimizing

Cleaning the Windows registry is a popular and controversial topic. Many pundits tell you never to do it. When I wrote a book about Windows back in 1999, I dedicated most of one chapter to the topic. But today the pundits have a point. Most registry cleaning utilities do much more harm than good. I don’t recommend you clean your registry, per se, but I do recommend you maintain it.

I don’t want to dismiss the concept completely out of hand. There’s a difference between a bad idea and a bad implementation. Registry cleaning and maintenance is a victim of bad implementation. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. So let’s talk about how to get the benefit while minimizing the drawbacks.

Continue reading Cleaning the Windows registry – and optimizing

Repair a Lionel train motor

If you want to fix a Lionel train, what you probably really need to do is repair a Lionel train motor. There isn’t much to the rest of the train.

The motors tend to be pretty rugged and they’ve held up over the years. Most “repairs” are really more of a clean and service job, not unlike taking your car in for an oil change. Here are some general principles to follow when you clean and service a Lionel motor.

Continue reading Repair a Lionel train motor

All about the Lionel RW transformer

The Lionel Multi-control Trainmaster RW is a sturdy tin box of a transformer from early in the postwar era. The presence of a whistle controller is the only thing that really distinguishes it from a prewar transformer. Lionel made it from 1948 to 1954. If you want to know all about the Lionel RW transformer, you’ve come to the right place. You probably won’t find a copy of the original instruction manual online but this will tell you all you need to know.

Continue reading All about the Lionel RW transformer

David L. Farquhar, computer security professional, train hobbyist, and landlord

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux