January 15th, 2008
If you own a Dell computer or laptop, it is safe to say that at some point in time, you will need to get drivers for the hardware. Maybe you’ve had to perform a fresh load of the operating system and you’ve misplaced your driver disc or maybe your hardware is running poorly and you’re hoping the latest drivers will fix your problem. A friend of mine ran into this a few days ago, but he got a little lost in how to accomplish this. Dell didn’t really help things by not giving direct access to the downloads from the homepage. Here’s what you do:
- Go to Dell’s homepage.
- From the menu at the top, select My Account (don’t worry that you don’t have one).
- Select the Support tab from the top of the page.
- Under Choose a Support Option, click the Drivers and Downloads link (or icon).
- From the Select Your Product Model section, you have two way of specifying your system, Select Model and Enter a Tag.
Select Model will take you through a series of options to specify your computer. You have to designate whether its a desktop or a notebook, then the product line, and finally the model.
Enter a Tag makes things much simpler. Just input your service tag into the textbox and click Go. Your service tag is located on the bottom of your notebook or on the side or back of your desktop.
- Once you specified the model, it’s time to narrow down the search criteria. You need to specify the Operating System of the computer and the Driver Language. You can also use the Category and Importance dropdowns to narrow your result list.
- Below the criteria selection, you will find a list of items with a count of how many files each one contains.
Click the + next to the desired item to expand it and reveal the desired drivers.
- You can download the desired driver at this time, or, if you are looking for more than one driver, you can select Add To My Downloads.
Using Add To My Downloads allows you to build a single page of links to the desired drivers. When you have finished selecting your drivers, click the View and Edit Your List link on the right side of the page.
It will take you to your Downloads List, where you can download each selected driver.
- Once you have downloaded the desired executable(s) from the Dell site, run it. Follow the prompts and the drivers will be installed on your computer.
October 25th, 2007
IE7Pro is a free add-on for Internet Explorer 7 that gives the browser a lot of great features and tweaks. Some of these features are Webpage Capturer, User Scripts, Mouse Gesture, Spell Check, and Proxy Switcher.
Go to http://ie7pro.com/ to grab the executable. Install the add-on. During installation, you will need to select which additional tasks you want IE7Pro to perform. I selected all but the change in homepage to get the most out of the add-on.
Once it is finished, fire up Internet Explorer 7. You will have two new additions to the interface.
- The IE7Pro button on the toolbar. Clicking this will take you straight to the add-on’s Preferences.
- The IE7Pro button on the status bar.
Right-clicking it will bring up the following menu:
Once you open the preferences via either pathway (or using Ctrl+F7 on your keyboard), you will be presented with a slew of options you can set (or not).
One of the features I was glad to see was the Greasemonkey-like User Scripts platform. This allows for greater customization of your web browsing experience. The add-on comes with some of these user scripts, but you can get even more from iescripts.org.
You can also take snapshots of a web page by right-clicking on the status bar icon and selecting Save Current Tab As Image To and choosing either File or Clipboard.
This add-on gives you a vast amount of flexibility in customizing your IE7 browser to better fit your browsing needs. Definitely worth checking out.
October 14th, 2007
Tabbed browsing is a great feature, but it can get out of hand. You can easily have a dozen tabs populated in no time. You could take the time to close all of those tabs individually, which could end up taking a while. Better yet, you can close all of the tabs, except for the current one, in just a few clicks of your mouse. Here’s how:
- Select the tab you wish to keep open so that it becomes the current tab.
- Right-click the current tab.
- Select Close Other Tabs from the context menu.
All other tabs will close and you will be left with only the current tab.
October 5th, 2007
If you have the My Computer (or Computer if you are running Vista) icon on your desktop, you can add the Calculator to the context (Right-Click) menu for much easier access.Â You can do this by creating a simple reg file and merging it to the Windows registry, here’s how:
- Open up Notepad (or right-click the desktop, mouseover New and select Text Document).
- Select and copy the following:Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
- Paste it into the new text file.
- Save the text file and rename it to for example, XP_Calculator_MyComputer_Context.reg.It should look like this:Â
- Right-click the newly created reg file and select Merge.Â A prompt will appear verifying that you want to add the information from the reg file to the registry, click Yes.
October 2nd, 2007
If you like the functionality of Windows XP but long for some of the eye candy that Mac OS X offers, then the FlyakiteOSX transformation pack is something you should definitely take a look at.Â FlyakiteOSX works on Windows XP (both Home and Professional), Windows 2003, and Windows Media Center Edition (2003, 2004, and 2005).Â By utilizing such 3rd party applications as Y’z Shadow, WinRoll, and Docks, plus the Tiger Visual Style (all of which are included in the transformation pack), your XP machine will be “aquafied”.
First you’ll need to download FlyakiteOSX (Click on the Normal Edition link).Â Once the zip file has finished downloading, extract the contents and begin the installation by double-clicking on the executable.Â When the Setup Wizard appears, click the Next button.Â The next step is to choose what components you wish to install, it also provides the option to create a System Restore Point.Â To take full advantage of the transformation pack, check all of the checkboxes to get all of the eye candy goodness that these components provide.Â After you have selected the components, click the Install button.
Once the installation has completed, click the next button.Â You will be prompted to reboot your system.Â Make sure you have no other applications open, then click the finish button.Â Your computer will go through the reboot process.
When mine came back up, I was greeted with this (kind of odd seeing Mac OS X right under “Welcome to Windows”):
After I logged in I noticed that my desktop had gone from this:
A rather significant change!Â Here’s some other screenshots:
You can do some further customization by altering the settings and options of the 3rd party applications.Â By right-clicking the icons for WinRoll and Y’z Shadow (in the notification area next to your clock), you can access their preference and options windows.
You can also right-click on the Dock bar to change it’s options as well.
If you ever decide that you no longer wish to look Macish, simply uninstall the transformation pack and you’ll be back to the XP look in no time.
September 14th, 2007
If you have become bored with U3 or if the U3 Launchpad doesn’t work on your system, you can easily remove it. The first step you will want to take is to copy all of your files from your flash drive and put them in a safe place. When we remove the U3 Launchpad, we will also end up erasing the data on the drive itself.
After you have copied (and verified) the data from the flash drive, you will need to download the U3 Uninstall executable from the U3 site. Make sure to note the location that you are saving the file.
1. Connect your flash drive to your computer. Make sure that it is the only flash drive that is connected.
2. Run u3 uninstall.exe .
3. When the U3 LLC License Agreement appears, select the Accept radio button and click Next.
4. Check the I want to remove the U3 Launchpad and erase ALL data on the device checkbox and click Next.
5. The process for uninstalling the U3 Launchpad will begin.
6. Once the U3 Launchpad has been uninstalled, remove your flash drive and then reconnect it to your system.
Now copy the data you saved off of the drive originally back onto your drive. Now your drive is U3 free and ready to use.
August 13th, 2007
You often hear about backing up your data, but did you ever think about backing up your drivers? Making a backup of your drivers and burning them to a CD can save you tons of time and frustration the next time you need to reload your computer. After burning them to disc, label the CD and store it with the installation disc for your operating system. Then the next time you need to reload your system, everything you need to get up and running is easily at your fingertips.
To backup your drivers, you will first need to install an application suited for this purpose. While there are quite a few out there, I use a utility called DriverMax. It’s an easy to use piece of freeware that does everything I need it to. Download DriverMax and install it onto your system.
Once installed, follow these steps to get a backup copy of your device drivers:
- Open DriverMax. When you first start it, it will show that that you have 30 days to evaluate the program. You can claim your free registration code or skip this step and click the Continue evaluation button.
- Click the Export drivers button at the top of the list.
- Click Next. DriverMax will build a list of installed drivers.
- Once the list has been built, click the Select all button to select all drivers listed.
- Click Next.
- Select the radio button to Export all selected drivers to a folder. Click the button to the right of the textbox and browse to the desired directory. After selecting the directory, click OK.
- Click Next.
- DriverMax will then begin processing the selected drivers.
- Once completed, verify that the drivers are in the desired directory by click the Open extraction folder button.
- Click the Close button.
- Click the Exit program button to close DriverMax.
Now burn the contents of the extraction folder onto a CD. Once the CD has been burned, label it with the system that the drivers are for and the date. Store the disc with your copy of Windows. When the time comes to reload the system, install Windows as usual and then insert the driver disc when it’s time to fix those unknown devices.
August 9th, 2007
Almost every computer game out there requires that the CD or DVD be in the computer to play. This is one of the many steps that game developers use to prevent the pirating of the game. Unfortunately, this becomes quite inconvenient for the honest customer that has purchased the game. No-CD and No-DVD cracks are a workaround to this. While it is illegal to use the cracks for pirated games, it is perfectly legal to use them if you own the game.
Wikipedia defines a No-CD crack as a “a modified executable file or a special “byte patcher” program that removes built-in CD check mechanisms allowing the user to run computer software without having to insert their required CD-ROM.” It further states that “in addition to cracked executable files or byte patchers, CD protection can be thwarted by producing a mini image containing only enough of the software’s CD-ROM contents needed to bypass protection. This image can then be mounted with a disk image emulator such as Daemon Tools to trick the user’s computer into believing the disk image is the software’s physical CD-ROM and it is in the drive.” In simple terms, this means that once you install the game and load the No-CD crack, the CD or DVD is no longer required to be present to play the game.
I use these cracks for two simple reasons:
- I play games on my computer once in a great while. I use my drives for other functions and don’t want to go hunting for my game software every time I want to play a game.
- I have children. Instead of risking damage to the $50 game that I bought for one of them. By using the crack, I can keep the software safe from mishandling or being lost.
There are a couple of things to remember about No-CD and No-DVD cracks. The first is that it is extremely important to keep the original game executable on your computer. Never replace it with the crack, rename the original executable instead. I usually add the prefix orig_ to the executable so that I know which one it is. The second thing to remember is that these cracks are written for a specific version of the game. This means that if you want to apply an update to the game, you will need an updated crack (and the original game executable).
While you can Google for these cracks, one of the best places to start is GameCopyWorld. This site contains a large collection of No-CD and No-DVD cracks for a buttload of games. When you have downloaded the necessary crack, you will need to decompress it. Do not decompress it to your game installation file since this will overwrite the original files. Instead, decompress it to a new directory so that you can examine the contents. Open the game’s installation directory and rename any files that have the same name as those in the crack’s directory. Once you are sure that you have done this, copy the files from the crack directory to the game directory. After this is completed, you should be able to play the game without the CD or DVD. Now you can put the software away in a safe place.
When it comes time to update the game, you will need to go back to the game directory to do some file renaming. Using the renamed original files as a guide, rename all cracked files (I use a prefix of crack_) and then return the original files to their original filenames. Make sure that there is a new crack available for the update. If there is, download both the crack and the update. Install the update and then apply the new crack in the same manner as described above.
This is a great way to keep your gaming software safe while allowing you to play a game whenever you want without having to hunt down the necessary disc.
February 18th, 2007
As I am sure you know, daylight savings time has been lengthened and will run from March 11th to November 4th. Because of this change, if you are running XP or previous versions of Windows, you will need to patch your operating system. Additionally, if you run Microsoft Outlook, you will need to patch it as well (corporate domains can patch Exchange instead of having to patch each individual client).Â Here’s some necessary reading and links to get your system ready for the new DST.
- February 2007 cumulative time zone update for Microsoft Windows operating systems.Â
- How to address the daylight saving time changes in 2007 by using the Time Zone Data Update Tool for Microsoft Office Outlook
- Windows Mobile Updates for Daylight Saving Time (PocketPC)
- Windows Mobile Updates for Daylight Saving Time (Desktop Tool)
October 7th, 2006
Adding a second display to your PC can really make things alot easier if you are someone that usually has multiple applications you are constanly toggling. I find it to be a great help when working on web development projects, Dreamweaver on one monitor, my web browser in the other.Â At other times it is nice to have my email client open on one and whatever I am working on on the other, that way my email is readily accessible but not in the way.Â In order to take advantage of running two displays you will require either a video card with a second video out port or a second video card.Â Once that requirement is met, plug the second monitor into your PC and then follow these steps:
- Go to your Display Properties window by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Properties.
- Select the Settings tab.Â
- You will notice a grayed-out box to the right of a black box that represents your second monitor. Click on it and then select the check box next to Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor to enable it.Â
- Adjust the resolution of the secondary display.Â
- Position the displays to match their physical location.Â If your second screen is physically located to the left of your primary one, drag the #2 display to the left of the #1 display.
- Click OK.
Now you are set to enjoy the benefits of having dual displays, now if only there was only a way that XP could double the amount of work I get done.