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