Communicator Custom Presence Tool 1.1

My little Communicator application for publishing custom presence has been non-functional for some folks. I spent some time trying to fix it and think I figured out most of the problem – it works just fine for users who have made the required registry edit manually or previous to running the application. If the user never has created the necessary registry key for enabling custom presence, the application never worked. I’ve been completely unsuccessful in creating a legitimate fix so I’ve resorted to a cheapskate approach and made the application now require UAC privileges. If you were having problems I would try this updated version, but if the old version worked for you and you are not an Administrator on your box, I’d recommend sticking with the old version for now. Another solution would be to simply run the original version in an Administrator context by right-clicking on the application and choose “Run as Administrator.”

I’m hoping to get a better solution up soon, but this works as a stop-gap.

Download: Communicator Custom Presence Tool 1.1

On the note of a better solution – I’m not much of a programmer so maybe someone has an idea for me.

My problem is a normal user in Vista does not have write privileges to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft key. It seems odd, especially considering that’s within the HKCU hive. So the application fails when it tries to create the HKCU\Software\Policies\Communicator key. The .XML file gets created just fine, but Communicator will never look for it because the registry key to tell it so never got set. So how the heck can I use VB to say “Open this registry key, add the permission to create a subkey?” Is it even possible without the user having write access on that key? Every time I try programmatically I get denied access, even if I open the parent key for editing. It’d be swell to be able to do this without requiring a UAC prompt.

If I ever figure that one out I have some cool ideas for a nicer GUI and 2.0 release.


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Hi there. My name is Tom Pacyk and this is my small home on the web. I love the intersection of design, technology, and communication, which is a combination that led me to a career in sales and marketing roles at places like Zoom and ServiceNow. They're a bit old now, but I also had the opportunity to publish a couple of books along the way.

Portland, Oregon is home for me, my wife Beth, and our three kids, but I'm actually a Midwestern transplant—I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and went to school at Purdue and Illinois. When I find some free time I'm probably going to concerts, rooting for the Portland Timbers, or working on my Sunshine Burn Photography project.