Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SOLVED! - Why Windows Search for Words Only in Filename, not Content of the File

Many Windows 7 users are very confused of the built-in search function on Windows Explorer. At the top right corner of your Windows Explorer is the Windows Search, but why typing a keyword shows only filenames with the keyword!??

For example, when you want to search a keyword like "Mary" in a Microsoft Word document, instead of just typing "Mary", you should type as "content:Mary".

Other filters follow this syntax, such as kind:, type:, datemodified:, size:, etc. Also when available, drop-down list will be shown for your convenience.

However, the found "keyword" is not highlighted as in the case of Google Desktop, which has officially stopped by Google...too bad.

SOLVED - Missing Snipping Tool in Windows 7

Snipping Tool is an easy yet very practical screen capture tool. However, many users of Windows 7 do not even realize its existence.

To access the Snipping Tool, press your Windows button (bottom left corner), type "Snipping" in the "Search programs and files" box. The Snipping Tool shows on list, click on it to run.

Sometimes, though rare, users were not able to search the program. If this happens, you may create a desktop icon link to your C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\SnippingTool.exe

Note that Snipping Tool is only available to Windows 7 Home Premium or higher versions.

Monday, November 19, 2012

SOLVED! - Cannot Connect to Local Drive on Terminal Server Session

Copying a remote desktop profile file (.RDP) from one PC to another, may not have the local drives available. The reason is strange enough - Microsoft's .RDP file will even recognize your drive "label". By default, if you haven't set a drive label for your local drive, the display name is "Local Disk". However, problem arises if for example you've set your D: labeled as "Data".

Now, you create a .RDP file and copy this file to another PC, with its local D: having no drive label. A user using your given .RDF to connect terminal will lost his local D:, even though both are connecting to the same terminal server using the same .RDP file with the local resource D: checked.

Solution? Standardize your local drive labels, either leave it blank, or set to the same name. Then, when you want to deploy your .RDP file to all your users, the drive label will always match.

For your interest, a .RDP file is JUST A TEXT FILE!! Open it with your notepad and have a look what's actually happening when you save your remote desktop settings to a .RDP file.

Your start to understand what I want to say... Microsoft...

SOVLED! - Missing "Search Programs and Files" in Windows 7

A very convenient way to start a program and search for files in Windows 7 is by using the "Search programs and files", by clicking on the Windows button (bottom left corner).

In some installations, this valuable feature is gone. To bring it back, do this:

  1. Go to Control Panel, Programs and Features
  2. Left hand side, click on Turn Windows features on or off
  3. From the Windows Feature list, check "Windows Search", press OK.
  4. Reboot your computer and the feature is back.

Notes & Tips - Search programs and files
By typing the program or key word, you can quickly access to many important programs, features and tools of Windows. Common programs key word like "command", "management", "manager", "information", "log", etc. are command keywords that many network administrators will use.

Another great use is that when the program is shown on list, you can HOLD Shift + right click on the item to run the program as a different user.

Some programs are not so easy to access without the help of the "Search programs and files", such as the Snipping Tool and Credential Manager. If you type "environment" as the search word, Windows will give you choice of accessing two sets of environment variables.

SOLVED! Outlook Sent Emails Go To Wrong Sent Items Tray

It's very common that an Outlook user will have several email accounts, some of these accounts are shared with work colleagues. When the user sending an email in behalf of a group, team, or department, he will want to have the Sent copy falls into the Sent Items tray under the related account, but not his personal Sent Items tray.

However, for some "unknown" reasons, sometimes users find mails like these will drop into their own Sent Items. That means, your work colleagues sharing the email account will not be able to keep track of these "Sent Out" emails.

To resolve the problem, try this:

  • Set the DWORD value of the following registry key to 1:
Outlook 2007   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Preferences\DelegateSentItemsStyle

Outlook 2010   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Outlook\Preferences\DelegateSentItemsStyle

Close your Outlook and start again. It suppose to be a known issue of Outlook 2007, but sadly carries on unresolved to Outlook 2010.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

SOLVED! HOW TO - Silent Install and Uninstall Google Pinyin

If you know how to type Chinese characters, Google Pinyin Chinese Input Method shouldn't be something new to you.

For network administrator though, a headache is how to deploy such a good Chinese input method to users. Here're the steps & tips on how to silent install and silent uninstall Google Pinyin.

To silent install:

          \\server\share\GooglePinyinInstaller.exe /s
  • Include this in the login script for your network users, or simply send a shortcut of that batch to your users by email

To silent uninstall:

  • Look for the uninstaller file at "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Google Pinyin 2\GooglePinyinUninstaller.exe" for 64-bit Windows or just "C:\Program Files\Google\Google Pinyin 2\GooglePinyinUninstaller.exe" for 32-bit Windows
  • Just copy this file to your network share
  • Similar to silent install, make a batch statement, which looks like this
          \\server\share\GooglePinyinUnInstaller.exe /s
  • Include this in the login script for your network users, or simply send a shortcut of that batch to your users by email

Saturday, October 13, 2012

HOW TO - Choose Your Laptop Computer

With so many choices available, I was often being asked, "I want to buy a laptop computer, what is your suggestion?" In essence, the answer depends on your answers to the following questions:


Let's discuss them one by one.


Many people looking for a laptop actually already had an old laptop. They are actually looking for an upgrade, a replacement. So, what is your experience with your old laptop? Are you happy with some special features or stylish design of your laptop brand. Different laptop manufacturers build their laptops, often with their unique "signature" features and style. That's why, often times Lenovo users love Lenovo. And, Dell fans love Dell. The opposite is also true, users of a certain brand name may hate a certain thing of that brand and promised not to buy from that brand name again.

Well, this could be very subjective, sometimes even unfair, as manufacturers may have improved their technology and design over time. A loved feature may have become obsolete. Still, your feelings should be respected. I love Lenovo, but I won't insist a Toshiba-lover to change over.

Are you looking for a performance upgrade? You may feel that your old laptop is tooooo slow. You may be surprised that simply buying a new computer may not solve your problem.


  • It's not uncommon that Windows XP users when upgraded to their new computers running on Windows 7, can't feel much improvement
  • If a laptop user tries to run his same applications on a Atom netbook, he's going to suffer a lot
A more scientific way to evaluate a performance upgrade is by comparing the processor speed. Though not precisely accurate, still you get a general idea of what does it mean in performance gain.

  • Suppose you are currently using a Pentium 4, 1.7 GHz CPU laptop computer, with a CPU benchmark of 202; your upgrade to a laptop with a Core i3 2330M 2.2 GHz CPU, with benchmark 2589, means an upgrade of processing speed about 12 times*
*Note that this DOES NOT mean that your computer will actually faster 12 times. Factors like hard disk drive bottleneck, network bottleneck, software getting more complicated, OS loading more features, etc. will slow down your new machine.

For a list of CPU benchmarks - http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php

That's also why the different names - a NETBOOK and a LAPTOP. You will find most NETBOOK runs on CPU with processor benchmarks below 1,000. Even an entry level LAPTOP computer has 2 or 3 times higher in processor benchmarking.

What could affect the performance of a laptop? A number of factors, here are some items should look at.
  • CPU benchmark (as explained above); not just the "GHz", which is very misleading
  • Hard disk type, SSD (Sold State Drive) surely out-performs a SATA disk
  • For SATA-disk laptop, check the rotation speed; a 5400 rpm HDD is slower than a 7200 rpm HDD
  • Laptop with a separate graphic card generally speaking has higher performance than one with integrated graphic card
  • Chipset technology, which may be difficult to compare, but can have a great impact on your system's performance

... to be continued.

Friday, October 12, 2012

HOW TO - Set Permanent Environment Variables in Windows 7

Sometimes, certain programs may need to set and read user or system environment variables. However, the problem is if you just run a batch to set those values, they'll only be available in the command prompt session. We need a way to write permanently the environment variables.

Some may suggest using Power shell scripts, modifying registry, or writing VB codes. However, I found using the built-in command of Windows - the setx command - the easiest and cleanest in doing the job.

Here's what Microsoft said, "[setx] Creates or modifies environment variables in the user or system environment, without requiring programming or scripting. The Setx command also retrieves the values of registry keys and writes them to text files...


  • Setx provides the only command-line or programmatic way to directly and permanently set system environment values. System environment variables are manually configurable through Control Panel or through a registry editor. The set command, which is internal to the command interpreter (Cmd.exe), sets user environment variables for the current console window only."


Setx command applies to Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista and Windows 7, these are platforms very widely used.

The exciting thing of setx is, especially for network administrators, that it supports setting environment variables remotely. Otherwise, you will have to go to each machine and adjust the Environment Variables in the Computer Properties. You may also put these setx commands in your login scripts for your Windows users to run when they logon Windows.

Monday, October 8, 2012

HOW TO - Remove Personal Information from Microsoft Office Documents

Often times, you may want to remove personal information from your Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc. This is especially true when you're going to send such a file to someone else, and you don't want to tell people who has prepared the document, or other internal comments, tracking information, template names, even internal email address headers, etc.

In Office 2010 and also 2013, you have a handy tool for sharing files with others without exposing such "confidential" or hidden information in your Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Follow these Steps:

  1. Go to "File", select "Info".
  2. Look for  "Prepare for Sharing" and the big button "Check for Issues", select "Inspect Document".
  3. Check everything and press "Inspect" button.
  4. If hidden data (personal information) found, a button named "Remove All" will be available, Press it to remove the hidden data

For more information, check this out:

For example, Office Starter Word has limitation of certain hidden data will not be able to be removed.

SOLVED! - System Error 2221 has occurred

For some reason, a user suddenly cannot use the "NET USE" command to map network drives. Windows logon is working, but accessing network shares become very strange, with "System Error 2221 has occurred" message. This probably is a stored credential problem.

SOLUTION: Press your Windows' Start / Launch, in "Search programs and files" field type "Credential Manager" and you should see it shows up on the list. Run it.

Check the stored credentials and remove related credentials, by click on the "Remove from vault". Now, try your NET USE command to map drives again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

HOW TO - Install Logitech Mouse Driver

First, you need to know the Logitech mouse driver is actually called SetPoint. At the time of writing, SetPoint has its latest version 6.32, both 32 bit and 64 bit versions are available:

For 32 bit system:

For 64 bit system:

Other versions of SetPoint can also be found from Logitech's FTP site:

The default download from Logitech's support is their SetPoint Smart version, which will connect to their website for online updates. SetPoint Smart is not a full install package, but depends on additional components downloading from the Internet. For network administrator, this could cause problems because very likely your intranet is somehow connect to the Internet through a proxy. So, likely you will use the above shortcuts to download the full version and disable the online update during installation setup wizard.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SOLVED! - High CPU Usage of Microsoft Security Essentials

I've at least two laptops, after installing Microsoft Security Essentials, the CPU usage jumps up. Stopping or uninstalling it resolved the problem, which isolated the source to be Microsoft Security Essentials itself. After some research, this works for me as a workaround this problem.

  1. Run Task Manager, find the process with high CPU usage. (Sorting by CPU may help you find it)
  2. Likely you will find "MsMpEng.exe" has taken much of your CPU time
  3. Now go to  your Microsoft Security Essentials, click on the "Settings" tab. Select "Excluded files and locations"
  4. Browse to "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Security Client\MsMpEng.exe", Ok and press Add button to add the file to your list of excluded files and locations. Press Save changes button.

Same method applies to other trusted files. You should see the CPU usage drops down dramatically.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DISCUSSION - Skype Android version not work on my N90 Tablet

Skype for Android supports only a limited number of Android devices. In my case, I've a Window (YuanDao) N90 9.7" tablet, though running Android OS 4, the screen resolution is 1024x768. As a result, Skype cannot install.

This is what I read from Skype, too bad! Hopefully, in the near future more screen resolutions can be supported.

What do I need to run Skype on my Android phone?

To run Skype on your Android phone, you will need a supported phone running Android OS version 2.1 or above with least 27MB of free memory space on your handset and 600Mhz or more processing power. The supported screen resolutions are 320x240, 240x400, 320x480, 800x480 and 850x480.

Reference: https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA10653/how-can-i-get-skype-on-my-android-phone?frompage=search&q=resolutoin+screen&fromSearchFirstPage=false#3

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SOLVED - Cannot Browse or Ping to Microsoft.com

A friend's XP laptop has this very strange behavior:

  • all other websites work properly, EXCEPT Microsoft.com and other antivirus vendor sites such as Trend Micro, Symantec, etc. Other websites like yahoo.com works perfectly fine
  • PING Microsoft.com cannot resolve, saying "Ping request could not find host microsoft.com..."; but, NSLOOK Microsoft.com resolves IP address
  • using virus removal tools, virus scan FOUND NOTHING
  • HOSTS file checked ok
  • TCP/IP settings good
  • tried repaired WINSOCK, no help

Of course, just the point #1 above already made me feel for sure this is VIRUS INFECTION. But, it didn't leave any trace of malicious codes or signature. So, an important setting has been modified.

After hours of work, this is what I found, which solved my problem: DNS Client service. Stop it.

  1. Right click on My Computer, select Manage
  2. Under Services and Applications, click on Services
  3. On the list, look for the service DNS Client; right click on it and choose Stop

*You may also find the Automatic Updates service not working properly. Try Restart this service.

Now, you should have your Microsoft.com back, as well as other security websites. Time to do your Windows Update, download an antivirus software, get it updates, etc.

Notes: For security-serious users, there's only one thing they will do for a compromised computer, FORMAT AND REINSTALL.

What is DNS Client - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc735833(v=ws.10).aspx
The DNS Client service is the client component that resolves and caches Domain Name System (DNS) domain names. When the DNS Client service receives a request to resolve a DNS name that it does not contain in its cache, it queries an assigned DNS server for an IP address for the name. If the DNS Client service receives the requested address, it stores the name and address in its cache to resolve future requests without having to query the DNS server. All computers that use DNS to resolve domain names (including DNS servers and domain controllers) use the DNS Client service for this purpose.

Monday, June 4, 2012

DISCUSSION - A List of Recommended Android Apps

Here's a list of Android Apps, which I'll always keep on my Android devices. Of course, you may have your own favorites. But, these may be helpful to give you a good starting:

  • ES Explorer (EStrongs Inc.) - provides you a bundle of extra functions compared to the built-in Explorer
  • Color Note (Notes) - though many people love Evernote, but for me, after comparing the two, I prefer Color Note, can save and send to others
  • Skitch (Evernote Corp.) - a very elegant tool to do free hand drawings, with auto smoothing, very efficient apps
  • Whiteboard (HenryHuang) - with a simple interface, yet I love it's simplicity
  • Handrite (NC Corp.) - a very fast free handwriting notepad, can edit 
  • StopWatch & Timer (sportstracklive.com) - so far no ads. Count up and down. I used to like UltraChron Stopwatch, however it's recent update with ads really disappointed me
  • Skype (Skype) - it's choice because of no choice!!
  • Offline dictionaries (NGHS.FR) - if you have a chance to search for Android dictionary apps, you'll experience much frustration of the lacking of an offline good dictionary apps. Really good ones like Cobuild are paid apps. Free dictionary apps are most likely with ads and support only online dictionary. Offline dictionary is really very rare. This one worth try
  • Merriam Webster (Merriam-Webster Inc.) - another offline dict, but sometimes you might feel the definitions and explanation a bit change
  • Winamp (Nullsoft Inc.) - work much like its Windows version, very well-designed apps for music playing
  • Music Volume EQ (K&K Design) - often a problem of Android tablet is the built-in speaker sound too soft. This EQ can help boost certain frequencies and make your bulilt-in speaker usable. This is especially helpful when you use Skype on Android tablet
  • Maps (Google Inc.) - Google map, I think no need to explain
  • QuickPic (AlenSW.COM) - many Android users are frustrated with the built-in Gallery, which is very inefficient in handling photos on your device. QuickPic, as the name indicates, it is QUICK, it's really FAST in browsing and viewing pictures!! I also love its options like excluding some folders when browsing, so you can skip some not-interested pictures
  • Zoner Antivirus (Zoner, Inc.) - install and you can almost forget even the presence of an antivirus. It's so light-weight and transparent in functioning
  • Aldiko Book Reader (Aldiko Limited) - unlike Apple's IOS, Android simply lacking a good ePub reader, but this one, after I've tried half a dozen of ePub readers, this is my choice, really satisfied
  • MX Player (MX Technologies) - there're many good media players, video players; but this one gives me a very clean feel, though sometimes its buttons are not working as they suppose to be
  • GO Launcher (GO Launcher Dev Team) - it replaces the default Android launcher. However, on Android 4, I like to default more than GO

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

DISCUSSION - PCCW wifi coverage in Hong Kong

PCCW's wifi is one of the cheapest option of wifi connection all over Hong Kong, with 9,000 hotspots. The current cheapest plan costs only HK$48 per month, unlimited use for one registered device. No contract is needed, one month at a time.

However, when use, you will want to check if the coverage includes the places you usually will go:

When reading the coverage map, remember the signal is basically 2D!! That means, if you go up a building of 50/F, do not expect you can get any signal at all!!

For better coverage, many will use the 3G telephone network. The CONS is that it's more expensive and with slower bandwidth.

Friday, April 6, 2012

TIPS - IRQ not less or equal blue screen

This Windows blue screen message sometimes appears after plug in new hardware to a PC system. To troubleshoot this problem, you may follow these steps:

  • Unplug the new piece of hardware, is the message no more?
  • Do not assume your new hardware is bad. It may be your power supply unit (PSU) is not stable, or not giving enough power to the added hardware power consumption. Get another better PSU and try
  • Sometimes, bad memory (RAM) could be a problem, especially when you didn't add any new hardware recently. And, your system suddenly start to show such a blue screen. Do a memory test. Many will recommend you to use http://www.memtest.org/. Another simple way is, if your BIOS setup has memory test function, it could save you some time.
For a laptop, it may not be so easy to change the power supply unit. Then, try to disable some built-in functions like fingerprint, light sensor, 1394 port, modem, etc. of your laptop through the BIOS setup. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

SOLVED! - "Windows cannot read the product key from the unattended answer file"

When I was installing the just downloaded "Windows 8 Consumer Preview" ISO file, mount it to my VMware Player, this is the error message I got. Setup will not continue, but loop back, restart.

To solve this problem, follow this steps:

  • Power off your VM
  • Go to Virtual Machine Settings
  • On the Floppy item under Hardware tab, uncheck the option "Connect at power on". Also, I have set the floppy to "Use Physical Drive". Save your settings.
  • Power on your VM
Yes, the latest version of VMware Player supports even Windows 8. So, why risking your PC to test Windows 8.

After reading a brief introduction of Windows 8 on Microsoft website, I'm still very confused of what Windows 8 is like... So, I decided to download and test run Windows 8 on a new VM. The first thing notice, Windows 8 has a tight link with Live and your SkyDrive. The user interface, very different... more like Android Tablet style... very much touch screen style.

The Windows key now plays a very important role - returns to Home page (above).

I love the full screen mode, for the Internet Explorer; also the Reader, which now displays 2 pages of PDF at the same time - what a wonderful feature!

However, this is just a Preview release. So, many of the features are not accessible - music, video, Maps app (I'm outside US), Finance, even the games are all not available... how disappointing!

Monday, March 26, 2012

DISCUSSION - Android Market Becomes "Play"

Just a few days ago, I was helping my friend to install some Apps on his Android smartphone. And, strange ... the "Market" icon has gone, replaced by the "Play Store" (it took me some time to figure out what's happening). Such a change in name is really unusual, and I believe that this reveals a major change in the direction of Google on the Android market; or, I'd say a clear trend has developed, toward the entertainment market - so "Play Store", rather than "Market"... surely is another a business decision of Google.

*This chart is based on figures from wikipedia. Sorry for not quite in scale, yet still good enough for your reference.

No matter what, Android has become a popular platform - for mobiles and tablets, even some laptops on shelf run Android! In Hong Kong, if you have a chance to go to popular shopping areas, places like Sham Shui Po, you will be surprised to see how mobile phones being dominant (over 80-90%) by Android! I can hardly find any Windows OS phone, maybe occasionally find one or two models. Android devices and accessories are everywhere in Hong Kong. Indeed many of my friends are using Android without any idea how much their phone can do, they simply use it as a mobile phone ... until when I show them ... they simply can't believe their eyes!!

I think the most dramatic transition is within these 3 months, from not many is using a tablet around, to now almost all my friends around, yes, it's almost everyone of them is with an Android tablet or phone.

With the ever growing Apps on the Market, the usability and value of Android device keeps growing. However, how many Apps can a device install? Maybe a browser, email, apps for viewing documents, excels, pdf, epub, video player, music player, photo gallery, and a few tools you use, etc. and that's it. Still, the number of Apps an average person will use is quite limited. But, for entertainment, on the "data" side - music, video, books; of course, together with games - the potential is much greater!! Just think about the success of Angry Bird - well, in Hong Kong, you can see Angry Bird everywhere, not just simply as a game, but Angry Birds of all kinds - decoration, key-chain, bags, toys, clothes, even cakes!!

We see the logic behind the change of name - Google "Play"!!

HOW TO - Turn Windows XP to Windows 7 Theme

Just completed another little project of turning a Windows XP Home laptop to Windows 7 look. This Dell Inspiron 700m is too slow to install a Windows 7 OS, with just a Intel Pentium M 1.6GHz CPU, 512MB RAM and a 40GB HDD. The CPU benchmark according to http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php is 406, more or less the same as a Thinkpad T30. Yet, I'm surprised of its good condition and wide screen configuration.

This is the final look, what do you think? It doesn't look old at all!!

After the theme change, I'm so happy that it didn't take much of the system resources. After system loaded, it still got about 300MB RAM for use.

Here're the steps to do such a theme change:

  • Download the needed theme files theme files - http://www.deviantart.com/download/133568262/SevenVG_RTM_Theme_for_XP_by_Vishal_Gupta.zip
  • Extract the files to a folder, read the readme text files under each subfolder
  • Go to the Theme folder and run the Theme.exe
  • Go to each of the rest of the folder, follow the text documents; or click on the executable files under each folder; exception is the shellstyle.dll, which you need to copy manually to the specified location
  • Restart your computer
Using Styler - 
The key part of the whole style change is on the Styler, which should appear at the bottom right corner as a yellowish snake icon. Right click on the Styler icon, choose Show. Under Style, double click on the Themes folder, select SevenVGRB. Select other tabs and make other settings as you like.

Show Desktop Rectangular button - The Show Desktop button at the bottom right corner of Windows 7 is a handy shortcut. To add this function to XP, download this little tool to your computer and create a shortcut to it in program startup:

Other Themes -
Other themes are available, this link provides more information:

There're ways to do more tricks... however, strike a balance, everything you download and install will eat up certain resources from your computer, which is already lacking resources...

Final Words -
Of course, it just have the look; function-wise, can't compare with Windows 7. If you really want to try something new, another direction will be go Linux. There's a version of Ubuntu, called Lubuntu, which should run pretty smooth on such a low performance old machine. The look, also pretty cool. Check this out - https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lubuntu/GetLubuntu

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

HOW TO - Sync Data Files in Multiple Locations

Corporates often have needs to share data between multiple locations, these could be documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, even database; and up-to-date information stored in file folders will be sychronized to branches, outlets or shops. Similar, individuals will also like to synchronize files in their computers at work, at home or their notebook/laplop.

An automatic way of doing such sync would be great...
If this is your need, Windows Live Mesh is surely an option worth your investigation. What you need is a hotmail account and install Windows Live Essential (Mesh) on all computers you need to synchronize data.

To start with, go to www.live.com,  open your hotmail account. If you already have an account, logon to your live.com or hotmail.com, mouse over on the Windows Live logo at the top bottom corner, you will find downloads. Download and install your copy of Windows Live Mesh.

With Windows Live Mesh, you can even synchronize file folders to your friends' computers. A list of devices (computers) and sync folders will be maintained under your account. You can also synchronize folders to SkyDrive. Besides, files and folders, your Microsoft Office styles, templates, custom dictionaries and email signatures can also be synchronized between your computers.

However, currently there are some limitations of Mesh:
  • Sync space limit of 5GB
  • Network folders or shares cannot be shared / sync
  • Only Windows Vista / 7 or higher are supported, not available in Windows XP
  • Sync and share to a maximum of 9 people
  • Permission rights limited to full rights, which means once shared to others, all others can add, modify and remove files
  • Mesh does not sync SkyDrive, but only the 5GB separate storage space
  • Support for mobile devices is missing
Although there're some limitations on Windows Live Mesh in use, it's a very practical and simple way to quickly sync files on multiple computers over the Internet securely.

Monday, March 19, 2012

HOW TO - Sync Hotmail Calendar to Android

To synchronize Hotmail mails and calendar to your Android device#, do these:

You should have a calendar app on your Android device. If you're happy with your current calendar, go directly to (1); otherwise, you may also go to Android Market to download and install a calendar app like "aCalendar".

  1. On your Android device, go to Android Market, download Hotmail app (by Microsoft + SEVEN)* and install it
  2. Open Hotmail app, setup your Hotmail account
  3. Press and hold on your account, select Settings. In Calendar item, check "Sync Calendar". Return back to Account Settings
  4. Press Sync New Calendar
Other Hotmail data like contacts and email folders can also be synchronized in a similar way. By default, only your Hotmail Inbox will be synchronized. Also, there's a limit of maximum 30 days to keep your Inbox mail data.

#Hotmail sync also supports other phones like Windows Phone, iPhone, some Nokia phones and BlackBerry phones. - http://explore.live.com/hotmail-mobile?T1=t1
*There are other apps with similar names. However, this is the only official app for Hotmail sync.

DISCUSSION - Microsoft's Live.com or Googles?

After using Googles for so long, I'm always a happy user of Googles. However, recently I've been heavily testing the features available in Microsoft's live.com (SkyDrive). My conclusion, Microsoft's live.com is my choice in Calendar, Web Apps (Office Applications) and Group sharing!!

  • Better compatibility of your Microsoft Office - currently, Web Apps of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are available
  • Better learning curve as the Web Apps user interface resembles their desktop full version
  • Easy integration of web calendars to your Outlook
  • Easy integration of web mails to your Outlook or Windows Live mail client
  • OneNote App available for your smartphone, easy synchronization
  • Easy document sharing with security rights set, concurrent edit with good response time
  • 25GB SkyDrive storage
  • Professional look and very user friendly
  • Occasionally, users may experience server bottlenecks and slowness in response time
  • Googles offer far more features than Microsoft's SkyDrive
  • Googles is consistently faster, with proven reliability
  • Mobile or tablet device support is lacking, only OneNote is supported. Android Apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Email, Calendar are severly lacking
  • For sharing, users need a hotmail or live account, which is a hindrance for use because many are happy with their Googles account
In the mean time, I'll keep my Googles account and it's hard for me to believe that Microsoft will provide the same set of features for free as Googles. However, for documents and calendar sharing, Microsoft SkyDrive is definitely my choice!!

DISCUSSION - Lubuntu, "Light" Edition of Ubuntu

Although the published minimum requirement of Ubuntu is pretty low, tests show that it's not practical to run Ubuntu linux on hardware which is too old, or just meet the minimum requirement. A better option would be "Lubuntu".

I've tested installing Ubuntu 11.10 on a laptop with Pentium 4, 1.6GHz CPU, 512MB RAM and 40GB HDD. Installation successful, however, the resulting performance is so bad that it's not practical for actual use.

Then, I noticed another edition of Ubuntu - Lubuntu, the light edition of Ubuntu. It takes much less resources, so even on a slower laptop like the above, it's still good enough. Installation is pretty fast. Hardware side, drivers were all successfully installed without any problem, not much difference from Ubuntu. Software side, basic web browsing, email, media player, word processor, terminal are all available inside the install ISO. Indeed, the desktop look is not bad, even better than Ubuntu (my personal opinion)!!

However, users of Lubuntu need to aware that besides the system installation, 3rd party application installation will not be as straight forward as Ubuntu. The Software Center is missing. In many cases, you will need to open a terminal, type commands to install software. Language pack support may cause you some difficulties. No office application is available by default, so more complicated word processing, spreadsheet, presentation features are not readily available, unless you install them afterwards.

Of course, Lubuntu is not as feature-rich and user friendly as Ubuntu, though it's a very good option for computers with slow CPU and lacking RAM. A computer with Pentium 4, 2GHz or lower, or 512MB RAM or lower, Lubuntu should be your choice.

Those who have interest to try it, here's the official download site:

TIPS - How to Clean Virus from an Infected PC

Sadly, even with an antivirus software installed, virus infection is possible and even commonplace among Windows PCs. This could be caused by an out-dated antivirus software, detection engine, pattern file, or even a weakness of the antivirus software itself.

If your PC is unfortunately being infected, here's an outline of steps to clean your system.

First, remember that in most cases it will be a waste of time trying to use your already installed antivirus software to clean the virus. The very fact that it can't stop your computer from infection reveals its ineffectiveness against the virus.

A fast and simple approach, use Windows system restore. If you haven't disable this Windows built-in feature, probably you'll be able to restore your system files and state to an earlier time, probably a time when your system is not yet compromised.

Next, you should boot your PC in Safe Mode. Reset your computer, before entering Windows and the Windows Logo appears, press F8. Choose Safe Mode. You will not want to use "Safe Mode with Network", if ever possible. Holding Shift key when Windows startup will also bypass startup programs, which is a good way to stop malicious programs from loading at startup.

Once you can successfully enter Windows, go to Start, Run, type msconfig, press ENTER. Go to the Startup tab, uncheck any programs that are suspicious. If you are not sure, find another clean PC to search for more information about these programs, then decide which ones should be loaded and which ones shouldn't.

Now, you need to do a full scan of your computer. A very good tool I like to use is Trend Micro's sysclean. On a clean PC, download these files to a folder, extract zip files and put all files in one folder.

Sysclean with Engine: http://downloadcenter.trendmicro.com/index.php?regs=APAC&clk=latest&clkval=353&lang_loc=3

Pattern File: http://downloadcenter.trendmicro.com/index.php?clk=tab_pattern&clkval=33&regs=APAC&lang_loc=3

You need to copy these files to the hard disk of the infected PC and start a full scan. DO NOT USE A THUMB DRIVE WITHOUT A WRITE LOCK. Any USB thumb drive or flash memory (without lock) you have may have already been infected. Make sure that you're using a clean or new flash memory (like a SD Card with a write lock, this will protect your memory card from infection) to copy files. Another way, burn the files to a CD-R.

Copy all the needed files in one folder, run the sysclean program on the infected PC.

After full scan, reboot your computer.

Scan all your memory cards, USB thumb drives, external HDD, etc., that may have a chance to be infected because they've been plug into the infected PC. To do so, I like to keep a Linux PC or laptop to do the work. Format them before use.

What antivirus software is most effective and should be installed?
I don't believe there's any antivirus solution which is 100% effective. What you can try, is to install your favorite antivirus with the cloud-based antivirus software - clamav. Clamav has a solid user-cloud, which keeps it very efficient in responding to new virues and security threats. In most cases, it won't conflict with other brands' antivirus. Moreover, it's very light weight, won't significantly slow down your PC. The current version works even without the cloud, when no network connection.

What are some good practices to avoid virus infection and network attacks?
Most effective - your awareness! So many times, a system was infected not because of the antivirus solution ineffective, but the user is too careless, too lazy to check any message that pops up and prompt and warn the user. They are simply being ignored by the user!!

Some other good practices - same old stories - regular Windows updates, apply any service packs available. Do not visit, download, nor install any software from websites that you do not really know. Understand and evaluate the risks before you install any software.

Windows XP platforms are too vulunerable to virues to be used. Migrate your system to Windows 7 or higher. Another effective measure is to stop the Autorun feature, when thumb drives are pluggin.

Do not stop your Windows firewall just for your own convenience, but simply make your system easier for hackers and virus attacks.

Set strong passwords to your user and administrator accounts.

If you're using a router to share Internet, you should make sure that the router is probably set, especially when Wifi in enabled. Stop using WEP. Use WPA or WPA-2, with keys not easily cracked. Most routers will prompt you for security concerns when the key is not strong, don't just ignore it.

Final words, precaution is always better than cure. When a system is infected and compromised, often it's hard to assess the damage. Recovery is never 100%. Any serious IT professionals will tell you, there is no other option, but reformat, reinstall everything...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DISCUSSION - Microsoft on Android Market

A quiet, careful, and very first move of Microsoft stepping into the Android world - Microsoft OneNote for Android, which works with Windows Live account and SkyDrive.

This initial release of OneNote for Android is not impressive at all, though with a professional look. A 6.9MB program file download, a bit bulky. Loading is slow, with limited functionality, even without a widget!! In comparison to other well developed note apps like Evernote and Color Note, OneNote is really inferior. Hopefully, more features will be added to it in the near future.

The good side, synchronize with my Windows live account, which I've been using for a while. Sadly though, the other apps on live.com are not quite stable in use, crashes are common. And, no support for other apps like Word, Excel and Powerpoint are available for Android in the moment. We'll see what the future holds ...

Can Microsoft find his way to the smartphone market and have a share!?!?

HOW TO - Convert DVD Videos to MP4

There are so many free video converters out there available, yet not many can do what HandBrake can do. HandBrake is always my favorite converter for converting physical DVD videos to MP4 format files, with subtitles and audio channel selection... to play on tablet, laptop or even smartphone.

From time to time, I need to convert multi-language DVD to video files with subtitle burn-in and language set, like English with English subtitle or Chinese Cantonese with Chinese Tradition subtitle. HandBrake always gives me perfect results!!

HandBrake is an opensource, GPL-licensed software, with Windows, Mac OS and Ubuntu Linux support! Its interface is quite user friendly, allows for preview result and performance reasonably fast. Though its earlier versions may not be so stable, recent releases are stable enough for production use.

To download and try HandBrank, go here: http://handbrake.fr/

Remarks: For file to file format conversion, downsizing, etc., Any Video Converter is certainly my first choice. Yet, some functionalities are missing in AVC, and here comes my alternative - Total Media Converter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

SOLVED! - Cannot Copy Big Files to External HDD

The chance is that your external hard disk is formatted with FAT32 file system, which has a file size limit of 4GB. One workaround is to re-format your external HDD using NTFS file system, which has a maximum file size limit of 16EB.

By default, most external hard disk drives are pre-formatted with FAT32. This file system is chosen because of its wide compatibility with most operating systems, including Mac OS X and Linux.

The down side of formatting your external har disk with NTFS is that, if you had a Mac OS X computer, you may read but cannot write on it. In fact, Mac OS supports NTFS read/write. However, this capability is not enabled by default. If you want to enable it, surely you can google and will find articles on it. However, those who had tried write to NTFS disk on Mac OS found its support buggy and corrupting files...

My suggestion, keep two external hard disk drives, one with NTFS and the other with FAT32, or even the native Mac HFS file system, if files bigger than 4GB has to be stored.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TIPS - Automatic Way of Push Deploy Shared Printers to Workstations Over a Network

If you're a network administrator, one big headache is to deploy shared network printers to tens or even hundreds of workstation computers. In a Windows domain environment, this mission can be easily accomplished by a login script.

To centralize your printers' pool, a good way is to setup a printer server using Windows 2008. Install printers on your Windows Server 2008 and share these printers out. One good way to setup such a printer server is to create it as a Windows 2008 virtual machine, over Hyper-V.

A batch file could be created and put inside your domain's netlogon folder, \\DOMAIN\NETLOGON. The file, maybe named printer.bat; it will look like this:

    rundll32 printui.dll PrintUIEntry /in /n "//printerservername/sharename" /q

The /in switch means to install the share printer.

For example, if your printer's share name is HP 4200 PCL and the server name is HKPR01, the command will look like this:

    rundll32 printui.dll PrintUIEntry /in /n "//hkpr01/HP 4200 PCL" /q

If you have an old printer you'd want to uninstall, this is a command to use:

    rundll32 printui.dll PrintUIEntry /dn /n "\\hkpr01\HP 5si-mx" /q

The /dn switch means to delete the share printer.

Finally, saved this login script file to \\DOMAIN\NETLOGON folder. Then, go to your Active Directory and manager your domain users with the login script applied.

Monday, March 5, 2012

DISCUSSION - Kubuntu or Ubuntu?

First glance... judging by appearance, Kubuntu can be said the "Cool" derived version of Ubuntu linux system. With the KDE Plasma Desktop, the look of Kubuntu is much more fresher and eye-catching. However, in terms of STABILITY, Ubuntu is much more stable.

I've tested install and run Kubuntu as a vm on my VMWare Player. The installation process takes much longer time (compared to installing Ubuntu), I've no choice but left it running overnight. After the initial installation, I started download patches and upgrades, crashed... and crashes. Programs like media player also experienced frequent crashes.

The overall performance is slow when compared with Ubuntu, displays dragged and initial screen draws were messy... New windows pops up with distorted screen, then redrawed.

After a reboot, the mouse is lost!! Reinstall VMWare Tools failed... really disappointed...!!

Eventually, I removed the whole Kubuntu virtual machine ... go back to my Ubuntu virtual machine.

The "cool" look of Kubuntu, ... yet sadly buggy ...

TIPS - Open M4V Files in Windows Media Player

Without a proper codec installed, you will see an error message like "The selected file has an extension (.m4v) that is not recognized by Windows Media Player..." followed by another message "Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The player might not support the type or might not support the codec that was used to compress the file."

  • Go to www.download.com (by CNETS), search and download codec pack like "Windows Essential Codec Pack"
  • Choose "Advanced Installation", uncheck all boxes for "Install Babylon Toolbar..."
  • Uncheck the box "By clicking "Next"...", again this box is for another Apps you probably don't want. Press Next.

TIPS! - Turning Your Windows Vista to Windows 7 Theme

Experimenting changing my Vista laptops to use Windows 7 Theme, and so to make it work more like Windows 7. The following steps work with me, probably will also work on your Vista:

Two files you need. Download them to your computer.
  1. Run the Universal Theme Patcher, depending on your Windows version run the -x64 (for 64bit OS) or -x86 (for 32bit OS)
  2. Press the 3 "Patch" buttons to patch the needed files. (you can always restore these files back)
  3. Copy the Windows 7 Theme files to your c:\windows\resources\themes. Remeber, you should have a folder "Windows 7" and a file "Windows 7 (Windows Theme File)" under the ...\themes folder.
  4. Right click on your desktop, choose Personalize and then Theme. Under Theme, browse to "c:\windows\resources\themes\Windows 7" (the file)
  5. Start and run Regedit, change or add this registry key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowsMetrics\MinWidth". Gives its value 56 (String REG_SZ, value)
You will need to reboot your computer when going through these steps. Here's the final look of my Windows Vista laptop!

Show Desktop Rectangular button - The Show Desktop button at the bottom right corner of Windows 7 is a handy shortcut. To add this function to Vista, download this little tool to your computer and create a shortcut to it in program startup:
Of course, there're more ways to further customize your Windows Vista to make it more like 7...

SOLVED! - Skype on Tablet Speaker Volume Too Soft

Many users have reported that when using Skype on Android tablets, for some reasons the sound volume through the built-in speakers are extremely soft (too low volume). Even when the system volume is set to maximum and other audio players are working perfectly fine with good volume, strangely Skype just simply remains very very soft.

Unlike its other platform versions, Skype's volume test and level control is severely lacking on Android.

Workaround: A workaround I've tested maybe also helpful to you: download an Equalizer from Android Market. Just go to the Market and type "Equalizer", and you'll find dozens of free equalizers for your use. One equalizer I've tried gives me a present of equalizing with a widget handy to on/off my present. Once various frequencies are boost up, Skype's voice through built-in speakers sound much better!!

Of course, the down side of adding an equalizer is that it tends to distort your music. So, having an on/off widget switch is good when you'd like to listen to your favorite music and songs, you'd not want the EQ to kill your favorites - turn the EQ off.

Hope that Skype will soon have an upgrade to fix this very annoying problem...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

SOLVED! - Android Tablet Cannot Connect Server / Cannot Create Account

Fail to create a new Android Market account using your Android tablet, or fail to login to Android Market nor Gmail. No matter using WIFI or wired network, keep prompt message that cannot establish a secure connection with the Market - like this "...cannot establish a secure connection to the server"

The chance is that your system date time is incorrect, that caused a secure connection cannot be established.
This solved the problem:
  • Go to "Settings"
  • Select "Date and Time"
  • Uncheck "Automatic"
  • Select "Set date", set the current date correctly
  • Select "Set time", set the current time correctly

Now, you are ready to create an Android Market account.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TIPS - Advanced Use of Remote Desktop

Have a need to figure out how to monitor various servers in a domain, using Remote Desktop is a great idea. Here're some commonly used commands and tips that may help:

To start remote desktop client, run this command (simply stands for microsoft terminal server client):

If you want to set the screen size, try this:
    mstsc /w=1920 /h=1200
w is the screen width, while h is the screen height

In case the remote computer has multiple monitors, try this:
    mstsc /span

Sometimes, administrators would like to have full interaction with the remote computer. There're actually 2 modes in remote client connection, namely (1) virtual mode and (2) admin mode. If you want to start the full interaction mode:
    mstsc /admin or mstsc /console

As network administrator, often we want to monitor multiple servers at the same time. This will be very handy:

With tsmmc.msc, you can connect to multiple computers, save your settings and reuse connections the next time you start it.

For those who would like to check the list of active connections on a certain computer, try this:
    quser /server:RemoteServerName

For those who wants to tweak the your connection performance, check and create these subkeys of the entry if they are missing:
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlDisable (DWORD 32bit, 1 to disable)
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlDisplayBandwidth (DWORD 32bit, priority to display and input, default 70, maximum 255)
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlChannelBandwidth (DWORD 32bit, priority to other data like file transfer and print job, default 30, maximum 255)
  • HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\TermDD\FlowControlChargePostCompression (bandwidth calculation based on pre-compressed size or post-compressed size, 0 is pre-compressed size)
Notes: Remote Desktop is a great way to monitor and remote control servers. But, often network administrators or computer help desk needs to view and even control a computer with the user sharing same view. Then, Windows Remote Assistance should be the tool to use. Try this command:
    msra /offerra

Monday, February 20, 2012

DISCUSSION - 4K Physical Sector - A Silent Revolution and Its Impacts

For decades, the 512byte physical disk sector size has been adopted as the industry standard. Until recently, hard disk manufacturers have started their gradual migration to a new standard - 4K bytes physical sector size (also known as the Advanced Format Technology).

One example is the Seagate Barracuda series, which is already widely available in market:

However, many software vendors including Microsoft are relatively slow in response to the new standard. To ensure compatibility, 512-byte sector emulation is necessary. Seagate SmartAlign Technology presents to software like Windows to see a 4K sector hard disk as if it is the old 512-byte sector hard disk. Small overhead is needed in read write, handled by the hard disk's on board disk controller.

Microsoft Knowledge base article 982018 addressed certain compatibility issues, which are caused by the 512-byte sector assumption. (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982018/en-hk) It sheds lights on some possible problems as for a long time, programmers have made the assumption that the physical sector size is 512 bytes, which is no longer valid.

Windows 7 / 2008 R2 starting from SP1 supports the advanced format with 512-byte emulation. However, native 4K sector size is not supported yet.

Intel Rapid Storage Technology also requires driver updates in order to use the new 4K sector technology:

According to Intel's website, it states, "If you try to install the operating system on a 4k sector disk with a driver older than Intel® RST version 9.6, the install process might not complete."

There are practical reasons for disk manufacturers to migrate their technology to 4K sector. Without the move, the yearly capacity growth will stop. There're also other advantages, like more efficient use of space with less overhead and better error correction check (ECC). However, during the transition period, the concerns of compatibility and performance issues exist, which I think every network administrator should pay attention to.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SOLVED! - Nokia Messages Not Sync Error

It's been for a few months, my Nokia phone can't sync properly using the Nokia Ovi Suite. For unknown reason, it simply can't sync even with the phone status connected (using bluetooth). Only rebooting the PC will get the sync back.

Just downloaded and upgraded the software to Nokia Suite - its new name - things get much better!! Besides have a fresher look, you see more info of phone and even apps installed. The way the phone sync with the software is also noticably different. Especially like the  different color codes of text messages.

However, even with this new release, messages are occasionally not fully synced. For example, when I replied someone's message, it does not show. One reason should be the different date time stamp of messages from different phones, which mess up things... anyway, still there's improvement.
The new Nokia Suite:

Friday, February 17, 2012

DISCUSSION - An Introduction to Home Audio Recording - Understanding Sound

When working on an audio recording project, first you MUST know the thing you're handling - SOUND.

SOUND, is being explained as waves of air particles' movement - being compressed (higher than normal air pressure) and decompressed (lower than normal pressure). Our ears are designed to detect such a very tiny variation of air pressure, converted to our interpretation of sound. Our two ears, though just 6 inches apart, can even tell the tiny difference in time of arrival of sound; to create a 3D model of our environment and positioning sound source.

So, SOUND has characteristics of waves - it has FREQUENCY, AMPLITUDE, WAVE LENGTH, PHASE, SPEED. It also has REFLECTION and ABSORPTION. Every sound engineer keeps these in mind and work with these characteristics with respect.

I'm not here try to explain every one of these terms. You will find tons of materials by searching on these key words. However, here're some examples how the understanding of sound will help a sound engineer.


(1) REFLECTION - When listening to a audio recording, sometimes we "feel" the existence of a room, because of all the little echoes (sound delays) from the reflected sound. We called it reverbration. By studying how sound reflected back to the mic, we may be able to reduce the echoes. Such as changing the mic position, adding carpets, or thick curtains, etc. Or, simply move closer to the mic, will increase the proportion of direct sound to mic.

(2) FREQUENCY - At times, we "feel" the existence of a mic. Often it's due to the proximity effect. It is a behaviour of mic, when the sound source is TOO CLOSE to the mic, it tends to boost the low frequencies. The excessive low frequencies make us "feel" the mic. The easiest way is to ask the speaker to stand back a bit away from mic. If can't, cutting some low frequency range in your EQ will help.

(3) PHASE - When you are recording from more than one mic, a problem called phase cancellation can happen. That is, waves from different mics cancel out one another, simply because they are of different phase - one being compression wave while the other is decompression wave. The result, sound level decrases. Some meters can detect phase problems. With careful positioning of the mics, usually this can be avoided. Always observe the golden 1:3 rule. That is, the distance - sound source to the other mic should  maintain a distance at least 3 times the distance from the main mic.

(4) SPEED - Suppose you have a chance to broadcast sound to a large crowd with multiple loudspeakers, covering a great distance, sound delay must be considered. Sound engineers will actually calculate the speed of sound and make good use of it to delay signals to farther rows of loudspeakers in order to reinforce sound.

These are just several examples of how sound engineers will put their knowledge of sound to good use. Surely it will also generate on us more respect on it and handle it with respect.

DISCUSSION - Antivirus for Android, Are They Really Effective?

Although the linux-based Android is a well protected system, I doesn't mean that it will not be affected by viruses, Trojans and worms. Viruses for linux do exist, and they're getting more popular as the linux user-base keeps growing.

Recently, the reputatble AV-TEST lab has conducted some tests on Android antivirus. Yoy may be surprised to read their reported results: http://www.av-test.org/fileadmin/pdf/avtest_2011-11_free_android_virus_scanner_english.pdf

In summary, many popluar free antivirus solutions for Android are not as effective as they're thought to be. Detection rate is poor. The concern of false sense of security is valid, which a user believes that his data is being well protected. Sadly, many Android phones and tablets WILL store much sensitive or confidential information.

There's no other more effective measure than USER AWARENESS of the risk involved in using any technological products. Of course, I'm not objecting the idea of having an antivirus app. But, it is no replacement for our carefulness and awareness of the risk factor. Follow good practices, like:

  • Install only reputable apps from Android Market; before you install an app, assess the risk involved in giving out the different system rights to the app
  • Turn off your wifi when not in use
  • Worst scenario - what if your phone / tablet is stolen, hacked, what is your emergency plan? Can you survive that?
  • A Rooted Android may give you much more freedom in installing apps and try different things, yet it also at the same time increases the extend of damages that a virus can have on your device system

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SOLVED! - Changing a Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 from English to Korean

A Korean friend just purchased a Lenovo Edge E120 with English Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 preinstalled. Here came a very challenging task - to change the interface to Korean language.

Vistalizator is a great tool to use. However, it does not support Windows 7 SP1. So, what I did is to reinstall the Windows 7 to the RTM (no service pack). I was fortunate enough to use the same Windows 7  key came with the Lenovo Edge. Successfully activated!

To change the interface is pretty straight forward, download and run Vistalizator. Add the downloaded copy of the Korean language for Windows 7 RTM. Reboot, ... done... Korean interface!!

A bit time consuming is to go to Lenovo's website and download all the needed device drivers for the Edge E120... finally...

I can now perform a normal Windows Update to SP1, perfect!!

TIPS - Vistalizator 7601 Error

Today, trying to use Vistalizator on a Windows 7 notebook. Error 7601 when run. It seems to be an error generated by the program because of a check of the compatibility of my computer for use in Vistalizator. To workaround the error, you "may" right click on the Vistalizator program, select "Troubleshoot Compatibility". Try another version of Windows like Vista / Windows 2008 in order to fool the software to run.

BUT BEWARE!!  Officially, Vistalizator DOES NOT SUPPORT Windows 7 SP1 (at least up to this moment). You are at your own risk to try to fool it this way. A better way is to downgrade your Window 7 (if possible). Vistalizator should run without any problem.

Hopefully, soon Vistalizator will support Windows 7 SP1. You know what, I'm going to submit my request to them! I still believe that Vistalizator is great!

Monday, February 13, 2012

HOW TO - Convert Between CD / AIFF / WAV / MP3 / AAC File Formats

Among the thousands of free tools, two most well known software tools are Any Video Converter and Total Media Converter.

However, when it comes to quality product, with guaranteed quality and stability, iTunes is always my choice. Many people may not know that iTunes is capable of converting CD / AIFF / WAV audio files to MP3 or AAC formats, and vice vera.

Third-party tools may post security concerns. Quality is also not guaranteed. In comparison, iTunes is safer, more reliable, yet free.

To choose the destination format settings you want, do this:
  1. Go to "Edit", "Preferences..."*, press the "Import Settings" button
  2. On the "Input Settings" field, choose the output format you want
  3. On the "Settings" field, choose the quality, number of channels, etc. Example, when output to MP3 format, you may choose "Custom..." to get more setting options
  4. "Ok" to confirm
*On Mac, the menu location is a bit different; this example is based on the Windows version

To convert an audio file, do this:
  1. Drag your audio / music files to iTunes
  2. Right click on the file item, you will see the option e.g. "Convert AAC Version" or "Convert MP3 Version". Select it.
  3. The progress bar now moves, showing you the conversion progress. Right click on the table title bar and check and show more fields like "Kind", "Bit Rate", "Sample Rate", etc. to give you more information on identifying which item is which format
To copy the converted file to a folder:
  1. Open a Windows Explorer window
  2. Drag the converted files to back to the folder in the Windows Explorer window

TIPS - An Introduction to Home Audio Recording - Selecting headphones

Most likely you already have headphones at home or for general office use. However, to suit the needs for audio recording use, there are some important factors you should consider.

1) More Even (flat) Frequency Response
Usually, headphones commonly used for listening music are preset with EQ, biasing to certain frequencies. However, for audio recording use, flat frequency response, usually works better.  A flatter frequency response headphone simply gives you a more accurate picture of what's being recorded from the mic.

Here's a chart showing how different models of headphones can be biased on different frequencies. (figures from "HeadRoom" webiste)

What we're looking for is the Reference or Monitor Headphone type, commonly used in many audio studios, like this one shown below by Sony. Obviously, you see the frequency response is much flatter, especially on the vocal range from 50Hz up to 4KHz to 5KHz; you notice the dBr values are +/- less than 5.

2) Full Closed Headphones
Very often, the person doing the recording with a mic will also at the same time listening to something - either music, his own voice or others' voices. That means, he needs a headphone.

Full closed type headphone is made to avoid bleeding out any sound, so that it will not be picked up by the mic. Some monitor headphones are called "Half-closed", which means not totally cut the sound bleeding. Sometimes, they could be acceptable and more cost effective. However, most personal use headphones do not have such ability, and so will not be suitable for audio recording use. This is especially true when you're using a condenser mic, which is very sensitive to any sound, even if it is just the leaking sound from your headphone.

3) Durability and Replacement Parts
Studio use headphones are made for heavy duty, last for years. Consumable accessory items like ear pads and so forth are available and can be easily replaced. Such features are lacking in home entertainment type headphones.

HOW TO - Open Multiple Windows Explorer from the Taskbar on Window 7

This is yet another new feature of Windows 7, pressing the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar DO NOT gives you another Windows Explorer, but a preview of already opened Explorer windows.

So, how do I open a NEW Windows Explorer window? Easy, hold the Shift key, mouse left click on the Windows Explorer icon on the taskbar.


SOLVED! - Missing "Recent Documents" in Windows 7 Start Menu

Many Windows users love to use the Windows Start Menu's "Recent Documents" shortcuts. In Windows 7, however, this short is hidden by default. To show it again, do this:

  1. Right click on Windows Start button, choose "Properties"
  2. Go to the "Start Menu" tab, press the "Customize" button
  3. Scroll down the list until you find the item "Recent Items", check it
  4. Press "OK", "Apply", "OK"
You should see the Recent Items (recently opened documents) on the Start Menu again.