Friday, December 3, 2010

12/1 System Facilities - Part 2

This class is a follow-up to the System Facilities class I taught early 2010 which gave a general overview of the Operating Systems. Part 2 will now present some specific facilities in a lot more detail that should enable you to use them in your daily operation. The subjects we will cover are:

· Command Prompt
· System File Checker
· Resource Monitor
· Device Manager
· Disk Management
· Toolbars and a surprise

Once you are able to use those facilities, you will be able to diagnose and correct operating system problems, understand and manipulate your disk(s), manage device drivers, understand the processes that run in your system and get easy access to programs, websites and data.

The course materials are 6 PDF documents in a Zip folder that you can download from this link of my Skydrive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AV Uninstallers

[01] avast! AV > Info > Tool
[02] AVG AV > Info > Tool (32bit) - Tool (64 bit)
[03] AVG Identity Protection > Info > Tool
[04] avira 6 AV > Info > Tool
[05a] BitDefender AV > Info > Tool
[05b] BitDefender Online Scanner > Info > Tool (non-vendor)
[06] Blink Personal Edition AV > Info > Tool
[07] BullGuard 8.5 AV > Info > Tool
[08a] Computer Associates 2007/2008 (all products) > Info > Tool
[08b] Computer Associates 2009 (all products) > Info > Tool
[09] Dr Web Anti Virus > Info > Tool
[10] eScan > Info > Tool
[11] ESET > Info > Tool
[12a] F-Protect AV 3.x > Info > Tool
[12b] F-Protect AV 6.x > Info > Tool
[13] F-Secure Products > Info > Tool
[14] G-Data 2010 > Info > Tool
[15] IObit > Info > Tool (Note: Cleans left-overs after a normal uninstall) [16] TotalSecurity/K7 AntiVirus > Info > Tool
[17] Kaspersky AV > Info > Tool (Note: Removal of all versions of Kaspersky AV)
[18] LANDesk AV > Info > Tool
[19] Malwarebytes'Anti-Malware > Info > Tool (Note: This tool is meant to be used after a normal uninstall of MBAM and a reboot)
[20a] McAfee Products > Info > Tool
[20b] McAfee FreeScan > Info > Tool (non-vendor)
[21a] Microsoft Live OneCare > Info > Tool
[21b] Microsoft Security Essentials > No Info > Tool(XP) - Tool(32bits) - Tool(64bits)
[22] NOD32 > Info > Tool
[23] Norman AV 5.x > Info > Tool
[24] Norton/Symantec 2010 > Info > Tool (Note: Removes all Norton products).
[25] Novell Inoculan > Info > Tool
[26] nProtect AV 2007 > Info > Tool
[27a] Panda 2009 (and earlier) AV > Info > Tool
[27b] Panda 2010 AV > Info > Tool
[27c] Panda ActiveScan > Info > Tool (non-vendor)
[27d] Panda CloudAV > Info > Tool
[28] Quick Heal > Info > Tool
[29] Sunbelt CounterSpy & Viper > Info > Tool
[30] SUPERAntiSpyware > Info > Tool
[31] Symantec ActiveX Control > Info > Tool
[32] ThreatFire 3.0 AV > Info > Tool
[33a] TrendMicro AV > Info > Tool (32bit) - Tool (64 bit)
[33b] TrendMicro HouseCall > Info > Tool (non-vendor)
[34] Verizon Internet Security Suite > Info > Tool
[35] Webroot SpySweeper > Info > Tool

Friday, August 13, 2010

8/1 Have fun playing a music video as desktop background

This is not a "must have", but it is a lot of fun. You can play a video as desktop background which is especially nice if it is a music video.

For that you need VLC. If you do not have it yet, you can install it from e.g. here ( Download VLC Media Player 1.1.2 - ). And here are the few easy steps:

1. Open VLC and go to Tools > Preferences
2. Click on the icon called Video on the left (3d icon from the top)
3. Change Output (which is set to Default) to say Directx Video Output
4. Click on the Save button (important)
5. Now select the video you like to play -> Media > Open File
6. Right click on the VLC window where the video plays and go to Video > Directx Wallpaper
7. Minimize the VLC window and enjoy your new desktop.

If you want to get out of it, right click on the VLC icon in the taskbar and Close VLC. In case you later want to use VLC for "normal" operation, you have to reset the Output to Default and Save it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

3/3 Where did all my disk space go

When your system is new, the disk space disappears rapidly although you may not add a lot of files yourself.
The reason is probably an increase of your allocated shadowstorage. With each install and uninstall, Vista or Windows7 writes a shadow (restore point) of about 1GB - plus one is written each day in Vista and each week in Windows7. For that purpose Vista reserves 15% of your OS disk partition and allocates/uses it as needed. The allocation in Windows7 is variable from 3 to 15% depending on the size of your C-disk.
Find Command Prompt (in All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt), right click on it and Open as Administrator. Into the little black window type VSSADMIN LIST SHADOWSTORAGE and hit ENTER. It will show 3 numbers:
Allocated - that is the amount that it has grabbed from your OS partition at this time
Used - this is the amount currently used
Maximum - this is the ultimate amount it will allocate and use

Once you reach "maximum", it will reuse the space deleting the oldest shadows for the storage of the newest shadows. With e.g. a 200GB OS partition you should expect a maximum of 30GBs that are reserved for the system and that you cannot use. If your OS partition is larger or smaller, the shadowstorage will be accordingly (always 15% Vista but variable in Windows7) But the restore points (shadows) are required the day you need to do a system restore.
The easiest way to change the shadowstorage is with this cmd command: (for the case where you want to set it to the minimum which is 300GB)
Vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=300MB

If you want to set it to e.g. 20GB, the command would look like this:
Vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=20GB

Never forget GB or MB behind the MaxSize number because then the system will assume bytes and you will get an error.
Note: In Windows7 you can also set it in System Protection, but you have to be a good scout to find it. The cmd way is faster – just paste the command into cmd and adjust the last number to your liking. You have to, of course, also adjust the drive letter if you apply it to other than C.

3/2 Who issued this error message

When you receive an error message, you can easily identify the process that issued the message. This video tutorial takes only 3 minutes. You can watch it at this site.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3/1 Create toolbars in Windows7 and Vista

For easy access and launching, many of us keep a lot of icons of programs, folders and webpages on the desktop. This not only looks ugly, it is also very confusing because they are usually not arranged by themes. In addition, those icons are often being scrambled and the user spends a lot of time rearranging them.
There is a much easier and more organized way to park those icons in toolbars. Access to the icons is just as easy and there is no limit to the amount of icons and the structural organization. If you like to know how to do that, watch this 9 minute video.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2/2 Facilities of your System

This is a 4 hour class that I developed for the local computer club. It covers the following subjects.

  • The Desktop
  • The Disks
  • RAM and CPU
  • Useful programs, other Facilities, where to go for help

I provide a 60 page PDF document with all the details covered in the class as well as all links to the facilities I refer to. Each chapter comes with a video that shows it the same way as I present it in class. The length of the videos ranges from 45 minutes to 70 minutes. The links to the videos are at the beginning of each chapter.

The PDF document can be downloaded from my Skydrive page.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

2/1 Convert Video or Audio files with Format Factory

It is sometimes required to convert a video or audio file to another format - for example if you want to use it in a Power Point slideshow where you need WAV audio files or you want to play a video downloaded from the internet for which you do not have the right codec. In those cases I suggest you use Format Factory. The program is very easy to use and you can convert in three simple steps. For further detail watch this three minute video tutorial I uploaded to Vimeo.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

1/15 Make a beautiful PowerPoint picture show

PowerPoint is a useful tool with which you can make very fancy presentations and slide shows. This tutorial explains how to make a slideshow where pictures fade from black+white to color. One example I made with this method, you can watch here and another example that I did not make myself is here.

These are the steps to perform:
1. Assemble the pictures you want to include into the slide show in a new, separate folder. It is useful to number (rename) them 1, 2, 3, etc.
2. Open this folder with the free Fast Stone Image Viewer (FSIV) or any other program that can resize.
3. For each picture, pick a common size (e.g. 960x720) in Edit > Resize
4. For each picture (using FSIV), go to Edit > Grayscale. File it (when you click on the next picture it will come up) as 1a, 2a, 3a, etc. Now the picture file is all set to go.
5. Open PP, go to Insert > Photo Album > Insert Pictures from File > navigate to your folder > highlight all the color pictures > Open > Insert
6. Now for each picture go to the Design tab > Background Styles (on the right) > Format background > Fill > Picture or texture fill > File > double click on the corresponding B&W picture > Close.
7. For each picture, highlight the picture in the big main window, go to Animations > top left where it says “Animate”, set to “Fade”.
8. For timing, in Animations, set Transition Speed to “Slow” and “Automatically After” to 8 -10 seconds, then “Apply to all” (important).
9. For music, in Animations open “Transition sound” > other Sound (on the bottom) > pick your music file (must be in WAV format).
Caution: DO NOT click on APPLY TO ALL after importing the sound file. That would restart the music with each slide.

Note: The WAV files are huge. Whereas your whole PP slideshow may be 3 to 4 MBs, inserting a music WAV file may add 40MBs to it. Here is the procedure explaining how to add a .wav header to an .mp3 (which is only 10% in size) to make PP believe it processes a .wav file:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

1/14 Check for TRIM support on your SSD

TRIM support is essential for write operations to a SSD. It about doubles the speed with which write operations are being executed. However, at this time it is only useful with Windows 7 because that is the only operating system that supports TRIM - and both the drive's controller and the operating system have to cooperate to make TRIM operate.

If you are not certain whether your SSD controller supports TRIM, there is an easy way to find out.
Open an elevated Command Prompt (run as admin) and paste this command into the Command Prompt window:

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

If Command Prompt returns a 0 (zero), your drive supports TRIM and it is enabled.
If it returns 1 (one), the file system has disabled TRIM for your drive. This means your drive's controller does not support TRIM.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1/13 Quick check in case of major problems

When you boot your system and you are greeted with a blue screen (BSOD), you are usually pretty helpless. The cause of the blue screen could be software or hardware related. The same applies when you get constant BSODs during normal operation.
To rule out possible hardware problems (defective RAM, Disk, Mobo, Graphics card, etc.), my first course of action is to load a Linux distro from a USB stick or CD. If Linux loads and runs properly, you can assume that the hardware is OK.
You need not be a Linux expert to do that. You only need to play around with the different icons and buttons on the Linux screen to see whether it operates normally.
I use Fedora on a USB stick. The instructions on how to make such a stick you find here:
But there are many other Linux distros that you can download and burn to CD – e.g. from here:
Once you made sure your hardware works properly, then you can go and search for the problem in Windows – which is usually not an easy task.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/12 HCCC Class - Imaging and securing your system

This is a class I teach at the Hernando County Computer Club. It explains strategies that make your computer safe.
We will create a data partition to separate your data from the system. That is an extra protection for your data.
Then we will briefly cover the choices for security suites and virus scanners and I will make some recommendations.
An extra focus on 100% safe surfing with the sandbox will be demonstrated.
As main topic, I will show you how to image the system with free Macrium. You will see the complete imaging cycle from the imaging setup and execution as well as the successful recovery.
Note that the recovery with imaging works in all cases where your system stops working - regardless whether it is due to a system malfunction, a virus or a defunct system disk. It is the ultimate lifeline.
I will also point you to an excellent website that covers up-to-date information on all system security aspects.
The course material (a PDF) can be downloaded from this site.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

1/11 Fix corrupted system files with the System File Checker

If you encounter a strange behavior of your system or if the system sends you a message indicating that some system file is damaged, the System File Checker might be able to help. Here is what you do:

Open an elevated Command Prompt (go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > right click on Command Prompt > Run as Administrator).

Type sfc /scannow into the Command Prompt window – note the blank in front of the slash (/). This will run for a while.

When it is done, you can end up with the following different results:

1. SFC did not find any corrupted files

2. SFC did find corrupted files and was able to fix the files

3. SFC was not able to fix all corrupted files

SFC stores the results in the CBS.log which you find in C:\Windows\Logs\CBS\CBS.log. This is a massive file of approximately 5MB and if you care to see it all, you must send CBS.log to one of your own folders or the desktop from where you can double click on it. It will then open with Notepad. Note: You cannot open it inside the CBS folder. You will get an Access denied message.

But most likely you are only interested in the part that shows the corrupted files that were fixed – or not fixed. For that you need a significant data reduction. You do that as follows:

Open another elevated Command Prompt and paste this command into it:

findstr /c:"[SR]" %windir%\logs\cbs\cbs.log

This will show all the files you want to see in the Command Prompt window.

Since that window is not very practical for a detailed study, you want to paste the content into a Notepad, Wordpad or Word file.

For that you right click on the Command Prompt window (any place is good) and click Select All. Then you right click anywhere in the window. Now this whole text is stored on the clipboard and you can paste it into a document file (e.g. Notepad) where you can analyze it.

A word of warning: If you have tweaked your system and modified system files, the System File Checker may undo your tweaks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1/10 Move your data to a seperate data partition

I always recommend keeping your user data in a separate partition - separate from the operating system. That has the advantage that your data is safe in case the operating system goes on the blink and is not accessible. You can then either reinstall the system without having to worry about your data, or access it with e.g. a Linux CD and move it to an external drive. In this video tutorial, I cover the following steps:

1. Shrink space from a larger partition

2. Define a data partition in that space

3. Move data folders to that new partition

4. Move the data folders back to the original partition (in case that is desired one day)

5. Delete the data partition

6. Reallocate the gained free space to the partition from which it was originally shrunk

You can view the video here. It is 12 minutes long

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1/9 How to upload a PowerPoint presentation

If you are looking for a site to upload your PowerPoint Presentations and Photo Albums, authorSTREAM will fit the bill. It is very simple to sign up and off you go uploading. Most times it is very fast, but a few times they must have been very busy and it took longer. There are a few things to remember.

1. If you have sound/music, it must be put into the PP slideshow with the "Animations" facility (not as "Insert"). And that requires a WAV file. Anything else will not show upstream.

Note: The WAV files are huge. Whereas your whole PP slideshow may be 3 to 4 MBs, inserting a music WAV file may add 40MBs to it. But there is a way to make PP accept a MP3 file which is only about 10% of a WAV file. See here for detail.

2. Once your PP show is uploaded, you can have it convertd to an MP4 movie which you can download.

3. The quality for both the on-line PP show and the movie conversion is very good.

That's all there is to know. I have uploaded this or this one. You can check them out regarding quality (set to full screen).

1/8 How to install Windows 7 in a Virtual Partition

I made this tutorial when Windows 7 Beta came out. But it applies to any other operating system as well. I have run Ubuntu and Windows 7 that way. It is the easiest way to test an operating system because the installation is easy and so is the deinstallation.
I suggest to use Virtual Box and assign no more than 1GB of RAM and 25GB of dynamic disk space to it. Installing the system from an .iso that is parked in a folder is recommended. Installing from a CD will take longer.
On a 3GB or bigger system you can easily run both the host system and the guest system side by side and switch from one system to the other with one click. The performance of both systems should be very good - just give superfetch a little time at the beginning to arrange the real estate.
The instructions are in a PDF that you can download from here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

1/7 Recover lost files with Shadow Explorer

This video explains how to recover lost files in Vista Home Premium and Vista Basic using Shadow Explorer. In the higher Vista editions and in Windows 7 you can use "Restore previous versions" which you find in the right click context window. The video you can view here.

1/6 Run a video as screensaver

This is for Vista


For those of you who would like to run a video (rather than pictures) as a screensaver, I put together that easy instruction on how to do it. Please note, that this does not work with very basic on-board graphics chips like the Nvidea 6159LE or the ATI 3100. The video filetype should be .wmv.

PS: the picture is a little hard to read, but if you zoom it to max. size in Photobucket, it should be OK.

This is for Windows 7

In Windows 7 you have to go via Windows Live Photo Gallery. If you do not have it yet on your system, download it from Windows Live Essentials

Then do the following steps:

· Open Live Essentials Photo Gallery
· Click on File
· Click on > Screen Saver Settings (This will open the Screen Saver Settings)
· Browse to your folder with the video and open it (OK)
· In the Use this theme list box, select Album
· Then do Save
· Now run Preview and see whether it works

Remind you that the video format must be .wmv. If you have another format, convert it with Format factory

1/5 A little surprise - very useful


Paste this into the address field of your Vista or Windows 7 explorer (you can use any explorer folder) and hit Enter - see what you find. It's a surprise which may come in very handy.
When it says All Tasks, drag the address icon from the explorer address field onto the desktop and you have a shortcut.

If you are not yet sure what needs to be done, view the video tutorial.

1/4 Image your system with free Macrium

Imaging is the process of backing up the whole system drive(s) to an external disk another internal disk or another disk partition. That is the OS partition and also possibly the Recovery partition or a seperate data partition. It is different from Backups in the sense that it does not only save the data files, but also all the system settings, installed programs and actually everything that is on the partition. It should be done periodically (e.g., once a week). In case of problems with the system (e.g. a virus infection or the replacement of the hard disk) it enables you to recover the system from the image – the last one or any earlier one if available. The system will then be in exactly the state it was when the image was taken.
For that you also need a recovery CD which can be burnt from the imaging program. This CD boots from the optical drive (because your system is inoperable or non-existent in case of a disk replacement). For that you need to change the boot sequence in the BIOS to allow booting from the optical drive in lieu of the operating system disk partition.

The following are the settings you need to do when using free Macrium for imaging. You can download free macrium from here.

For the instructions how to setup Macrium and how to operate it, download this Zip folder. It contains the guidance as a PDF document or a PowerPoint presentation.

I have also made a 30 minute video that describes the whole imaging cycle including the recovery. You can watch the video on this site.

1/3 Make the Command Prompt window look nicer

I think nobody likes this ugly, black, little command prompt window where it is hard to decypher anything. It is, however, very easy to make it look nicer. Watch this Video and you will know how to do it. Watch the video here.

1/2 Safe surfing with Sandboxie

Sandboxing is a technique that insulates the sandboxed objects from your real system. Should a virus attack the sandbox, it does not affect your system. When you end the sandboxed session, all traces of that session will disappear.

Many people think that sandboxing is difficult to use. It is, in fact, very, very simple. Here is what you do to be safe on the web, which I think is the most important. The other functions you can explore yourself.

Step1 - Download and install Sandboxie from here:
For 64bit go here and use the second link.

Step2 - Go into All Programs, click on Sandboxie and make a shortcut on the desktop from “Run webbrowser sandboxed” (you can also pin it to the Start menu, Quick launch or Taskbar).

Step3 - Launch your webbrowser with that shortcut. Now you are safe.

1/1 Using the snipping tool in Vista and Windows7