Fix: “Edit with GIMP” context menu in Windows 7 x64

I can’t remember when it happened but at some point, I lost the “Edit with GIMP” context menu for image files after I started using Windows 7 about a year ago. I just installed the GIMP 2.6.10 x64 version and I noticed that the issue wasn’t fixed. (I had a further problem because the Open With shell magic was broken because the 2.6.10 installer uses a different directory than the 2.6.9 x64 installer did.)

With my context menus thoroughly busted for images, I had a look in the registry. For every sort of image file, there were shell verbs configured. For example, here’s jpeg:

jpegfile\shell\Edit with GIMP]
@="Edit with GIMP"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\jpegfile\shell\Edit with GIMP\command]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\GIMP 2\\bin\\gimp-2.6.exe\" \"%1\""

This all looks fine. It’s a custom shell verb called “Edit with GIMP” with the menu label “Edit with GIMP” that invokes the gimp-2.6.1.exe executable, passing the argument of the file name.

Except it doesn’t do anything in Windows 7.

I channeled Mark Russinovich and fired up Sysinternals ProcMon and had a look at what the explorer.exe process is accessing in the registry when I right-click on a jpeg.


It turns out that Explorer isn’t looking at jpegfile or pngfile or giffile et al. It is looking at “image files" as a class via HKCR\SystemFileAssociations\image. Therefore, the solution is to add a custom shell verb there:

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\Edit with GIMP]
@="Edit with GIMP"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\Edit with GIMP\command]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\GIMP 2\\bin\\gimp-2.6.exe\" \"%1\""

And success.


Pin Eclipse Helios to Windows 7 Taskbar

eclipse-jumplistEclipse 3.6 “Helios” has Windows 7 taskbar jump lists and can be pinned to the task bar like  a native app but they don’t work out-of-the-box. The jump lists items generate a bonk error dialog complaining that Java cannot be found and the pin this program to taskbar option is missing.

In order for the Windows 7 taskbar features of Eclipse 3.6 to work, eclipse needs to know where Java is installed. That means editing eclipse.ini  to add a ”-vm” argument followed by the path to your Java runtime. Eclipse.ini is located in the same directory as eclipse.exe and the “–vm” argument has to be the very first line in eclipse.ini or Eclipse will complain a big error dialog that says the Java VM could not be found and refuse to start.


After adding the path to your Java runtime environment to eclipse.ini, start Eclipse but wait until after Eclipse has finished loading your workspace before attempting to pin it to the taskbar. Once the workspace has been loaded, you can pin the Eclipse icon to the Windows 7 taskbar and it will work like any other app. If you don’t wait until after the Workspace is running, you’ll end up getting a second eclipse icon every time you start Eclipse just like with Eclipse 3.5 and Netbeans 6.8.

This solution is working for me Eclipse 3.6.0 for Windows 64 bit running on Sun (Oracle) Java 1.6.0_20 64-bit on Windows 7 x64 Enterprise.

Via bug 314805.

Visual Studio 2010 Professional Should be Free

Microsoft has created yet another SKU for Visual Studio 2010, Ultimate Edition.

This is out of hand.

  • Visual Studio Express editions Basic CMYK
  • Visual Studio Professional
  • Visual Studio Premium
  • Visual Studio Ultimate
  • Visual Studio Test Professional
  • Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
  • Visual Studio Lab Management

The express editions are free of charge but weirdly crippled:

  1. Rather than being features extending the base IDE, there are entirely separate Express IDEs for each language.
  2. The source control plugin API is missing
  3. Extremely limited refactoring (at a time when the refactorings in the full edition don’t compare well to Eclipse or Netbeans)
  4. No conditional breakpoints
  5. No remote debugging
  6. No thread debugging
  7. No support for compiling 64-bit native images
  8. No support for setup projects
  9. No support for solutions which contain projects written in different languages (because of item #1).
  10.   No MS Office development support.
  11.   No VSIX extensions (like this spell checker).

And apparently, you don’t have access to F# and IronPython languages with any Express edition. What?

Visual Studio Professional is the vanilla full-featured version of Visuals Studio 2010.

Visual Studio is really the mechanism by which developers add value to Microsoft’s platforms. It is used to build applications that people actually use. We are not living in the gay 90s anymore when compilers were generally very expensive and IDEs were new and a huge value-add. Now, every platform vendor I can think of except for Microsoft gives away the best development tools it can in order to draw developers to it.

Here are some examples:

  • Apple gives away XCode and all its developer tools and documentations to anyone that registers.
  • Eclipse is free and open source.
  • Netbeans is free and open source

Visual Studio Express editions do not have parity with the features of XCode, Netbeans and Eclipse. Visual Studio Professional is much closer.

But to get Visual Studio Professional, you have to be student or faculty at an institution participating in the Microsoft Academic Alliance program, an employee of a Microsoft Certified Partner or you or your employer have to buy an MSDN subscription every year. There are now 6 MSDN subscription SKUs.

  • MSDN Operating Systems
  • MSDN Embedded
  • Visual Studio Professional with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN
  • Visuals Studio Premium with MSDN
  • Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN

These range in price from $699 to $11,899 retail with the “Professional” version weighing in at $1,199 ($799 for a renewal). The Operating Systems one doesn’t even come with Visual Studio which makes no sense at all. Why offer developers a subscription to your operating systems without giving them the tools to develop applications on the operating systems?

This state of affairs is out of control.

I don’t have any issue with Microsoft selling value-adds over and above of Visual Studio Professional (e.g. Premium, Ultimate, Professional Tester, Team Server, etc.) to compete with IBM Rational and Perforce et al in the application lifecycle management and enterprise architecture modeling stuff and build management and testing.

But rather than trying to squeeze 800 bucks a year out of developers, Microsoft should discard the Express editions of Visual Studio and make Visual Studio 2010 Professional available at no cost to anyone with a valid copy of Windows.

Otherwise, Microsoft is literally driving startups and young developers to other platforms which offer fully functional free tools from vendors like Apple, IBM, Oracle (Sun), Novell, Red Hat and Canonical.

And when I say free I don’t mean crippled or ad supported. In order to keep the Windows platform relevant, Microsoft needs to make credible modern tools available to anyone that might be interested. That means Visual Studio 2010 Professional should be a free download.


Sandboxing Flash with Chrome

Perhaps the most brilliant feature of Google’s Chrome browser is that it installs itself without any admin rights required inside each user’s profile directory. The first important consequence of this is that Chrome can go viral inside of corporate departments officially standardized on IE6 because it doesn’t require any tech savvy to install Chrome outside of the protected “Program Files” directories. The second consequence is that, since the user always has full permissions to its install directories, Chrome can and does silently and continuously update itself.

The updating works extremely well. It happens quietly in the background. After an update has occurred, the next time Chrome is started it is the new version. Chrome does have security bugs, but it uses Integrity levels to sandbox itself and patches are continuously and silently rolled out which keeps the browser safe.


Recently Chrome started distributing its own private copy of Adobe Flash. That means that Google believe that Flash is necessary. Since Flash is necessary, Chrome will always have the latest version of Flash and it will be silently updated along with Chrome itself. For all other browsers, there is no automatic update process for Flash. The standard ActiveX installation process for IE is painful and failure prone. For this reason alone, Chrome distributing its own Flash is great but since Flash is also riddled with security problems, this is a huge win.

Adobe seems to be happy with this Google-love, especially since they are being flamed publically and repeatedly by Steve Jobs. It is interesting but I think what is really going on is that Google recognizes that if Flash doesn’t work right or you get a malware while using their Chrome, Google takes the blame.

Whatever the motivation, it is a win. I’m ready to let Chrome handle updating my Flash and stop wasting my time worrying about whether I have the current version and whether it is safe. In fact, I can’t think of a good reason to have Flash floating around on my system as a global service outside of its Chrome sandbox.

Adobe provides a tool to globally uninstall Flash which removes both the ActiveX and Netscape-compatible plug-in versions but leaves Chrome’s private Flash runtime untouched.


ProcExp: The .NET Performance counters are corrupt

Imagine my surprise when Process Explorer v12.04 giving me a big nasty bonk when trying to examine a .NET process that I’m working on.


Process Explorer
The .NET performance counters on this system are corrupt.
Run Exctrlst from the Microsoft Windows Resource Kit to repair them.


I downloaded and installed exctrst from Microsoft. It didn’t do anything useful to solve the problem. After thrashing around for a while, I came across this KB article: BUG: PDH-Based Applications Stop Responding for 60 Seconds Before Exiting on Windows XP.

In the resolution it talks about disabling .NET core performance counters in the registry

To prevent the delay, you can turn off the .NET Framework performance counters:

  1. Locate the following key in the registry:
  2. Change the Library value from mscoree.dll to donotload_mscoree.dll.

If you later decide to turn on the .NET Framework counters, change the Library value back tomscoree.dll.

Out of desperation, I took a look at my registry.

PS> get-itemproperty HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\.NETFramework\Performance | select library


Doh! Something, disabled my .NET Performance Counters in the registry just as described in that KB Article. I run daily as a non-admin so it can only have been an installer. I’m not sure which one is the culprit, unfortunately. I recently upgraded to ProcExp 12.x from 11.x. It may be that my counters have been disabled forever and 12.x is the first version to complain or it could be something I installed recently. I don’t know.

Restoring the Library key to the value “mscoree.dll” sovled the problem.


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