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About Me

A Better Geek has been around in one form or another since 2008. It's mostly just been a place for me to log things I've learned in the tech space, both personally and professionally. I finished migrating all the content from my old WordPress site in September 2022. Any existing permalinks to my old blog now redirect to the migrated content on this wiki.

These days, I'm no longer a professional in the tech industry, and this site will continue to be a collection of my own observations and lessons from my continued hobbyist software and web development work.

My public projects can be found at code.abettergeek.com.

Sitemap

Below is a complete sitemap of all available content on this site.

    • Old WordPress Contentplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigOld WordPress Content

      Introduction

      Once upon a time, A Better Geek was powered by WordPress. I got sick of how fiddly maintaining MySQL (aka MariaDB) actually was, and I've rebuilt my server using Dokuwiki to power a number of sites.

      I'm still migrating content from my old blog to the new wiki. Below are changelog posts from the old WordPress blog.
        • Can Apple really handle the needs of businesses?plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigCan Apple really handle the needs of businesses?

          On January 31, 2012, in the middle of the day for many users, Apple silently and stealthily blocked the Java web plugin on all Mac computers running 10.7 or 10.8.

          This has not been getting that much news coverage, which is unfortunate given how serious this action actually is. And, of course, we all know that if Microsoft did something similar, it would be making national headlines on many news sites.
        • Google’s hostile EULA – how long can you avoid it?plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigGoogle’s hostile EULA – how long can you avoid it?

          this archive of the original article

          I, like pretty much everyone in the known Internet-accessible world, use Google. A lot. I’ve used Google Docs in the past, I have friends and family who only use Google Talk for chatting, Google is obviously the biggest and best search engine available, and now they have a browser.
        • The history of the Start Menuplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe history of the Start Menu

          It’s been a long time – almost twenty years, in fact – since the Start button was introduced by Microsoft. A key feature of the all-new Windows 95, the Start button provided one-click access to all your programs in a simple, easy-to-use menu format. It was pretty straightforward. Clicking Start gave you options for programs, documents, settings, and even a file search tool.
        • Zune Flash: When Microsoft does something rightplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigZune Flash: When Microsoft does something right

          You know, for all the flak our friends in Redmond get, I’ve seen Microsoft release some pretty decent stuff lately.

          I sometimes wonder (ok, so I wonder a lot…) if people have a habit of immediately discounting anything from the hands of Microsoft because, well, it’s from
        • No, Comcast. Just...no.plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigNo, Comcast. Just...no.

          This may come as a huge shock to you, but I don’t like Comcast very much. I never had much of a problem with Comcast until now, surprisingly enough. I mean, they are consistently rated The Worst Company in America by The Consumerist. I had Comcast twice in the past – once in Indiana when I lived in Lafayette, and once in Virginia when I lived in Alexandria City. Until I moved to Washington state last month, we had Cox, and they were amazing. We got free bandwidth upgrade…
        • DriverGuide.com’s Not-so-surprising Scammy Tacticsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDriverGuide.com’s Not-so-surprising Scammy Tactics

          PCMatic's driver databaseMicrosoft's searchable Windows Update Catalog

          I recently found myself in need of a driver for Mac OS 9. Since the hardware I was using was ancient and from a now-defunct company and OS 9 is equally ancient, this task was much easier Googled than actually completed.
        • The cake really is a lie…at least for Flickr users.plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe cake really is a lie…at least for Flickr users.

          I hate to use a cliché, but you really can’t have your cake and eat it too.

          I logged in to Flickr yesterday rather innocently – I was updating some information on my Facebook profile and couldn’t remember exactly when I moved out of my first apartment in Indianapolis, many moons ago. I opened a new tab in my browser, navigated to Flickr, and – holy crap! A new site design! And what’s this about Pro accounts? I have a Pro account and have for …
        • Reconsidering the GPLplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigReconsidering the GPL

          modified version of GNU Affero

          An awful lot of software these days is released open-source, under various licenses. Gnu GPL is a popular one, in its various iterations. It’s a pretty great idea – software is released for free, the source code is made available to anyone who wants to take the time to compile it, people get access to useful applications without paying exorbitant license fees, and everyone wins. The really big projects like Ubuntu and Firefox get donatio…
        • The many functions of useless hard drives...plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe many functions of useless hard drives...

          I’m a bit of a packrat. When something electronic finally craps out, I tend to keep it around, just in case. Dead hard drives fall into this category, at least for me.

          If you’ve never taken apart a hard drive, you should. The platters are unbelievably reflective, since they’ve never been touched by anything before being installed in the drive’s casing. I have a large collection of hard drive platters at the moment, some of which have interesting rad…
        • The Changing Landscape of Personal Computingplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Changing Landscape of Personal Computing

          I’ll try not to give too much commentary on the way Apple does things, but the company has certainly made its mark in how we view personal technology and computing in 2012. Just as the iPod revolutionized portable media players and the iPhone made waves in the smartphone world, the iPad changed how we look at the way we access our media, data, social networks, and the Internet as a whole.
        • In defense of the independent option: shattering the bipartisan mythplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigIn defense of the independent option: shattering the bipartisan myth

          I probably got you going there for a minute, didn’t I? Don’t worry, this isn’t a political dissertation or anything. I’m talking about mobile operating systems. I mean, face it – we’re down to only two options for smartphones, and it’s really becoming a problem.
        • First impressions of Firefox 3.0plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigFirst impressions of Firefox 3.0

          MacOS

          I strongly advise against continuing to use Firefox in any capacity. It isn't secure and will not keep your online account passwords secure.

          Very old builds of Firefox still have some utility on older operating systems. Very old versions of Firefox classic are solid enough to use as daily drivers in Windows 9x and XP. I will be maintaining a mirror of themes and extensions I use, because there is no longer any central repository online where these ma…
        • Mozilla’s latest debacle – and why it hurts open source projectsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMozilla’s latest debacle – and why it hurts open source projects

          MacOS

          I strongly advise against continuing to use Firefox in any capacity. It isn't secure and will not keep your online account passwords secure.

          Quite a few years ago now, a large open-source project called Pidgin fell prey to one of the bigger pitfalls of
          • Make and upload your own iPhone ringtones for freeplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMake and upload your own iPhone ringtones for free

            I just got an iPhone and switched to AT&T after five years on Verizon Wireless. Don’t get me wrong – I really liked Verizon. It’s just that I left my previous employer several months ago, and I knew that resigning a contract meant they’d validate my employment status, realize I was no longer employed there, and cancel my 20% discount.
        • CraftHacking: Tools for ProvoCraft’s Cricut Explore Airplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigCraftHacking: Tools for ProvoCraft’s Cricut Explore Air

          I’m a pretty creative person. I always have been, and my maternal family history includes a lot of creative-minded people. One of my cousins is a bona fide professional artist, my mom is musically talented as well as a great seamstress, my grandmother was an accomplished seamstress, quilter, and needlepointer
        • Google Glassplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigGoogle Glass

          not“”

          Tucker Carlson Tonighton YouTube

          About a week ago I received Google Glass. I’m very excited about the potential applications, and I can’t wait to see how this dawning era of wearable tech will change our lives. In time we’ll see concepts from companies like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft that will help make wearables an intrinsic part of the 21st century. This is the first of a series of articles on Google Glass and wearable technology, and offers my first impressions of Glas…
          • Maximizing Windows: uberOptions for Logitech hardwareplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMaximizing Windows: uberOptions for Logitech hardware

            My freshman year of college, I knew a kid with a Logitech MX700 cordless mouse. The first time I used it, I knew I had to have one. It was only a few months before I bought the Cordless Elite set, with the Elite keyboard and the MX700 mouse.
          • Maximizing Windows : Getting the most out of your Windows Media Center remoteplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMaximizing Windows : Getting the most out of your Windows Media Center remote

            There’s no doubt about it, Microsoft Windows Media Center is a pretty fantastic product. There are competitors out there (Boxee, Front Row, and MythTV come to mind), but WMC is undeniably an amazing piece of software. It has continued to evolve and improve since Microsoft created its Media Center Edition of Windows XP, and now most home computers come with Media Center – it’s a standard component in Windows 7 Home Pre…
        • Trackballsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTrackballs

          I'm getting old, and too much regular mousing leaves my hand in a lot of pain, especially if I'm working on something fiddly and precise (like an SVG project, or editing video). I'm currently using a Kensington Orbit Fusion wireless trackball. So far, it's working out pretty well
        • Making your eeePC work for youplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMaking your eeePC work for you

          I just finished up a review of the Asus eeePC 4g (701) for Julie over at The Gadgeteer (check it out here). Before i finally got around to writing that review, I hadn’t done a whole lot with my eeePC. Since last night, however, I’ve installed Windows and started looking for ways to make my eeePC as functional as possible.
        • When troubleshooting gets creativeplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigWhen troubleshooting gets creative

          can

          I tend to be the go-to person for tech support among my friends, family, and neighbors. A few nights ago, one of my neighbors asked me to help him with his custom-built machine. His USB ports had mysteriously quit working. I messed around, and the same thing kept happening. His Microsoft USB wireless mouse worked just fine, but his HP all-in-one inkjet printer and his SanDisk thumb drive didn’t work. Plugging them in resulted in a “one of the devices …
          • MacOS 10.14 (Mojave)plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMacOS 10.14 (Mojave)

            This is the last version of MacOS I use on compatible Macs.
          • Mounting CIFS/SMB Shares in CyanogenMod 7.0.3 on the ViewSonic gTabletplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMounting CIFS/SMB Shares in CyanogenMod 7.0.3 on the ViewSonic gTablet

            I have been waiting a long time for a mature, stable build of CyanogenMod for the ViewSonic gTablet, and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the effort that the CyanogenMod team has put into the version 7.0.3 build. In fact, the only complaint I have is about the lack of built-in CIFS support on the gtab build. This is a guide on how to mount CIFS/SMB shares on your gTablet running CM7.
        • ChromeOSplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChromeOS

          Introduction

          I have one Chromebook, and it's now ancient and unable to run anything close to the latest version of the OS. The last time I used it, I installed Windows 10 on it.

          A Month With ChromeOS

          not“”

          It’s true. I love technology. There’s something about a new gadget or computer that gets me all giddy inside, so I was actually pretty excited when my significant other told me he bought me an
              • Digital Camerasplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigDigital Cameras

                Photo Import Wizard

                The Problem

                Since Windows XP, a simple wizard for importing photos has been integrated with the OS. This was called the *Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard* in Windows XP. The interface was streamlined in Windows Vista, and that import wizard has been integrated into Windows through at least Windows 10. It's a really useful tool, as it makes it efficient and easy to import photos from a digital camera and name them
            • Enabling Remote Desktop...Remotelyplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigEnabling Remote Desktop...Remotely

              I’ve been working on rebuilding my home Active Directory environment, as well as splitting our personal data from multimedia to separate file servers. After getting everything up and running in Windows Server 2016, I moved both servers into our server room (just a corner of the basement, but it sounds fancier).
            • Fixing Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager when it saves a bad server nameplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigFixing Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager when it saves a bad server name

              I’m a big scary IT contractor now, working for a relatively small Texas-based company on a contract for the USDA. It’s pretty awesome, and I’ve learned all kinds of things since I started here. One of the cooler tools made available to us is Microsoft System Center, which allows for a single application to manage a huge variety of tasks, including pushing updates to users, working with virtual servers, and inst…
          • Windows 7plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigWindows 7

            Windows 7 is officially unsupported by Microsoft. Use at your own risk.

            That said, Microsoft Security Essentials still works, as well as PC Matic, which i haven't used, but has a lot of positive reviews.

            Notes

            Even though Microsoft no longer supports the OneDrive client for Windows 7, you can still connect to your OneDrive quite easily via
          • Maximizing Windows: Restoring “Run As…” in Windows Vistaplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMaximizing Windows: Restoring “Run As…” in Windows Vista

            At work, we use Microsoft SQL Server 2005. The client software requires Windows authentication to connect to a database. However, the credentials are pulled from your logged in Windows account. If you’re not on Purdue’s domain, you can’t connect. While putting my workstation on the domain wasn’t an issue, I prefer using my local user account on my laptop.
            • Server 2008: Enabling network discovery for a home networkplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigServer 2008: Enabling network discovery for a home network

              I run a Windows Server 2008 R2 box at home, primarily for hosting small multiplayer online games and various websites. While Server 2008 is built on the same foundation as Windows 7, there are quite a few differences.
      • Using GitHub Organizations for your OSS projectsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigUsing GitHub Organizations for your OSS projects

        I’ve been working on a side project at work, in the interest of expanding my knowledge of Microsoft’s developer platform and tools (which is the division I’m in now). Twitter yanked their official app from Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile awhile back, so I decided to start writing my own client.
      • Windows Server 2008 R2, SMTP, and Gmail for Domains (or How I learned to let go and love smart hosts)plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigWindows Server 2008 R2, SMTP, and Gmail for Domains (or How I learned to let go and love smart hosts)

        good

        I’ve been gone for awhile. I mean, not really, just from A Better Geek. I met a special someone, so that took up a lot of my time. Then said Special Someone got a job with IBM in Virginia, and we packed up and moved 700 miles to Fairfax from Lafayette back in mid-September 2009. I’m looking for work and spending my time being a server administrator, because we decided to go for Verizon …
          • ColdFusion: Browser identification in web applicationsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigColdFusion: Browser identification in web applications

            I’m really, annoyingly, obsessively anal about browser compatibility in web design. Even if you’re convinced that none of your users will ever touch Opera, there’s no reason to not make sure your site is usable in Opera…or Lynx, or
          • Internet Explorer and images as form input controlsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigInternet Explorer and images as form input controls

            I like to provide clear visual or textual cues for an application. In the admin interface for one of my apps, I provide a pretty easy way of rejecting or accepting form submissions for a class – a red “X” to reject, and a green checkmark to accept. In order to pass these actions to the ColdFusion page on the server side and rely on
          • Coldfusion 8 and Microsoft SQL 2005 : @@IDENTITYplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigColdfusion 8 and Microsoft SQL 2005 : @@IDENTITY

            There’s a handy little query you can run in SQL to retrieve the identity (primary key) value of a record you just created. So, you can do something like this:

            INSERT INTO People ( Name ) VALUES ( 'Joe' ); SELECT @@IDENTITY AS NewName;
          • ColdFusion: Generating and parsing RSS feedsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigColdFusion: Generating and parsing RSS feeds

            One of my current projects at work has an RSS requirement. I’m redesigning the university’s policies website. My customers are concerned that other departments at Purdue have previously copied the content of a policy and placed it on a different site, which is problematic when policies are revised, superseded, or retired.
          • ColdFusion: Encrypting sensitive data in URL stringsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigColdFusion: Encrypting sensitive data in URL strings

            On one of my current projects, I’ve found myself in need of passing sensitive data through a URL string. I could use an individual form for each link and pass it via POST, but I wanted to see what I might be able to do by way of encrypting the data. Turns out it’s quite easy.cfm index
          • JavaScript: Dynamic Form Element Namesplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigJavaScript: Dynamic Form Element Names

            Purdue, like a lot of enterprise-level organizations, uses LDAP to manage certain things. One of the advantages to LDAP is that it can provide information about users on a domain. Our organization uses some globally-accessible ColdFusion functions to quickly get user information based on user ID data.
          • TLA3000: Authenticating to Microsoft services with vanilla JavaScriptplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTLA3000: Authenticating to Microsoft services with vanilla JavaScript

            One of my current projects is focused on improving the developer experience when it comes to getting up and running with the numerous cool things possible with Microsoft Azure.
          • PHP: Browser identificationplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigPHP: Browser identification

            Not too long ago, I wrote a short tutorial on using ColdFusion to identify the user’s browser and add extra browser-specific CSS files. Today, I found myself in need of similar functionality for PHP. The code isn’t quite the same – PHP doesn’t have a direct clone of CF’s contains decision operator; you have to use the
          • PHP: Dynamically generating images from textplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigPHP: Dynamically generating images from text

            If you’ve visited my site more than once, you might start to notice that the silly little tagline next to the logo in my header changes, in both content and appearance.

            This is accomplished by way of a fancy little bit of PHP. The image generation uses the GD library (with FreeType support), and the fonts are all TrueType.
            • Guest post: Checking user permissions on a Windows networkplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigGuest post: Checking user permissions on a Windows network

              Recently I needed to find out which folders a certain person was able to access on our Windows network. Apparently, this was extremely easy in Novell. Since it isn’t 1995 anymore, I tried to find a way to do this on the Internet. I couldn’t, so I set about making my own.
          • PowerShellplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigPowerShell

            PowerShell is Microsoft's interactive scripting engine, allowing you to create powerful scripts for many purposes. PowerShell can easily import and use any .NET library or type, making it very powerful for automation and sophisticated processing of dirty inputs, such as badly-formatted text.
        • Linode and sendmailplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLinode and sendmail

          I would not have figured out all this if it hadn’t been for someone on the #linode channel with the patience to walk me through the steps.

          At any rate, when I moved abettergeek from Dreamhost to Linode, mail quit working in the forums. PHP has a built in
        • Linux: Installing SSH2 for PHP5plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigLinux: Installing SSH2 for PHP5

          apt-get install libssh2-php apache2ctl -k graceful

          I just installed WordPress 2.7 today. Boy, is it exciting! The entire interface is different, and things can be accomplished much more quickly.

          One of the neat features is the ability to add and remove plugins from the web interface. Unfortunately, WordPress only works with
        • BetterTouchToolplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigBetterTouchTool

          Official websiteOfficial download This is a paid application to enable customizing the behavior of all your Apple input devices (remotes, keyboards, mice, touchpads, etc.) It's definitely worth the money for a lifetime license. Older versions that don't support current
        • Hyperswitchplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigHyperswitch

          Official websiteOfficial download[A Better Geek mirror] This allows Cmd+Tab to behave like Window Alt+Tab, meaning you can switch between open windows as opposed to open applications. This particular behavior of the OS X and MacOS app switcher has never made sense to me, and I've always used third-party applications to fix it. Hyperswitch complains about being an expired trial every time it launches (i.e. when you reboot), but if you let it check for updates, it will let you use it a…
        • TotalFinderplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTotalFinder

          TotalFinder is a Finder extension that adds some very nice features to the Finder. Apple finally introduced tabs, but they're kludgy and fat. TotalFinder slims down the Finder chrome so it's not so bulky, along with adding features like context menu file cut/copy/paste and dual pane mode, which is
        • Adobe Creative Suite 5 Folder Iconsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigAdobe Creative Suite 5 Folder Icons

          I recently won a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 5 Design Premium…only to find out that there is no custom folder icon in OS X for containing all the different applications that are part of the suite. I decided to make my own icons, and they turned out so well that I’m releasing them here for the world to use – there are different icons depending on which suite you own (or which icon you prefer). Enjoy!
        • OS X : VNC from the command lineplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigOS X : VNC from the command line

          Since OS X 10.4 (Tiger), Apple has provided a remote desktop capability integrated into the operating system. However, unlike Windows (which uses a proprietary protocol called RDP), Apple chose to use the VNC protocol for their remote desktop server and client.
          • Fixing Firefox Quantum: Auto-hiding toolbarsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigFixing Firefox Quantum: Auto-hiding toolbars

            MacOS

            I strongly advise against continuing to use Firefox in any capacity. It isn't secure and will not keep your online account passwords secure.

            With Firefox axing native browser plugins, there are a lot of things I can’t do in the browser anymore. Hiding the toolbars is one of those annoying things that the great gods of Firefox’s dev team have deemed an unnecessary and frivolous feature.
        • Maximizing Windows: Better screenshots with Greenshotplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMaximizing Windows: Better screenshots with Greenshot

          Every once in awhile, I like to peruse Sourceforge for new, interesting open-source applications. I was looking for a good screenshot application several months ago, when I was working on writing help documentation on a project at my job. I’ve since found out that the help documentation software, Adobe RoboHelp, includes a very nice screenshot manager called RoboScreenShot. This application, however, is not free, and I’m always interested in…
        • Packagetrackr.com’s Windows Gadgetplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigPackagetrackr.com’s Windows Gadget

          I rather like Packagetrackr.com, which has recently been migrating to a new site, Faranow.com. I buy stuff online a lot (mostly eBay these days), and having a single place to track everything is awesome, especially since I can get email alerts and the like.win32 index
        • Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XPplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMicrosoft PowerToys for Windows XP

          This is a small collection of tools and utilities that were released by Microsoft in the era of Windows 9x and XP. They are mirrored here. The descriptions are also mirrored from Microsoft's page, which is now only available through archive.org.

          Alt-Tab Replacement
        • VMWare – Installing a virtual machine on a physical disk in Windows 7plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigVMWare – Installing a virtual machine on a physical disk in Windows 7

          We recently started working on an old Unisys Aquanta EN (which is a rebranded Acer AcerNote Pro 950cx) for the lulz. However, since the thing won’t boot off any external disks and we have no internal floppy or CD-ROM module for it, it turned out that getting an operating system onto it wasn’t so easy. After several hours of fiddling with USB sleds and other possible solutions, we gave up on doing it directly to the hardware.…
        • Setup a webcam stream in ten minutesplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSetup a webcam stream in ten minutes

          I have friends all over the world. Once in awhile, I make use of the various webcams I own and do a little video chatting. Getting video chat to work well will be for another day – something I learned recently, however, was how to setup a live stream on a webpage. It was surprisingly easy, and works in both Windows Vista and Windows XP.
        • X-Mouse Button Control (XMBC)plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigX-Mouse Button Control (XMBC)

          This is a very simple mouse button remapping application that uses a win32 mouse API that has been included in Windows since XP. It's a relatively limited application as a result, but it does what it says on the tin very efficiently.
  • Contactplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigContact

    I don't have a direct contact point right now, sorry.