Welcome

Welcome to my blog. In here I hope to share with you tips, tricks, hacks and code that will make your life easier as a network administrator or general computer user. I come with a background in computer engineering and have worked for the past 12 years in the Library world as Manager of Library Systems. Even though some of my posts may be Library specific, most will be of use to all computer users.

If you have a tip that you wish to share with the group, please feel free send me your tip via email at my address rkisch@kischtech.com and I will include it here and give credit where credit is do.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dario D's ideas for how Windows 8 screens should look

'Dario D.' has written an article that shows how he would redesign the new Windows 8 screens. The screen shots of his concepts look great and certainly look better than the new "Metro" screens that the pre-release version of Windows 8 developer edition has shown us. Take a look at his site. Thanks Dario for sending me the screen shots!

For more information, please see his article here: http://www.alphaila.com/articles/failure/windows-8-concept-dariod/







Tuesday, October 4, 2011

McAfee ScriptScan has been blocked from Firefox.



Mozilla is advising users of its Firefox browser to disable McAfee's ScriptScan software, saying that it could cause "stability or security problems." Script scan is part of the new McAfee antivirus program version 14.4.0. Mozilla says that users are strongly encouraged to disable the problematic add-on or plugin, but may choose to continue using it if they accept the risks. This affect all versions of Firefox and SeaMonkey.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Preview of the upcoming Windows 8

Microsoft is making a bold move by totally redesigning Windows 8 from the ground up. At the recent Developers conference in Anaheim, California called "Build", Microsoft demonstrated some of the capabilities of the new Windows 8 OS for developers. 


If you have the time I would suggest that you view the full conference keynote by Steven Sinofsky who is President of Windows and Windows Live divisions, as he demonstrates some of the features of the new "touch centric" interface of Windows 8. Not only will it run on the standard x86 processors that we are all familiar with, but it will now run on ARM processors as well. This will mean that Windows 8 will run on anything from a PC to a cellphone or a tablet. This is great news for Microsoft  as it will open up new markets for its products and for developers to write software for. To view the full keynote, just view it here:



To download the full developers edition of Windows 8,  please download here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516  Note that using this pre-release software is not for the faint of heart. It is full of bugs and can not be used to upgrade an existing version of Windows. It must be installed as a clean installation on a computer and is meant for programmers to start to use the new version to get a head start on developing applications for Windows 8. To install it on an existing computer I ran it as a virtual computer inside of Windows 7. You can use several programs to run Windows 8 virtually (VMWARE 8, Microsoft Virtual PC and VirtualBox) but I found VMWARE 8 worked best for me. To see how to do the install with VMWARE, please view this video:



Windows 8 Installing in VMware Workstation 8 from Christian Mohn on Vimeo.

NOTE: If you end up with the infamous HAL_INITIALIZATION_FAILED message when installing Windows 8 (see picture below) then follow these steps to get rid of it:
  • Make sure that you are using the latest version of virtualization software.
  • Next make sure you set-up the virtual server with 2 CPUs and at least 1 Gb of RAM
  • Next remove any external media (USB keys or devices, memory cards, floppy discs).
  • Finally make sure that the PC that you are installing it on meets the minimum requirements for Windows 8 (System Requirements).


Here are some of the screen shots of Windows 8 that I have captured while testing Windows 8:


Initial Welcome screen:

The new START menu:


A new look for the Task Menu (note that Windows Explorer had stopped working...told you it was buggy software):


The new lock screen:


The touch keyboard:



The new search screen on IE 10:




Saturday, September 17, 2011

For weather there isn't anything better than Weather Underground.

If you like to keep track of the weather in your area, then have I got a site for you! Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com) has tons of features for amateur meteorologist or even for the guy that wants to know what the weather is going to be like at the cottage. When the tornado hit Goderich a few weeks ago, this was the first site that I turned to for informative information on the storm and were it was heading next. The detail of the weather radars make it simple to follow a storm progress in great detail and the up to the minute warnings are fantastic. 


Watch my video below to see some of the best features and then explore the site for yourself. This site really needs to be in your browsers bookmarks.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Scientists and engineers replace a man's eye with a wireless video camera

Rob "Eyeborg" Spence has been working with a team of engineers to make his prosthetic eye into a wireless video recorder/transmitter.  The camera doesn't connect to his brain, but engineers hope that eventually they will be able to connect this technology to give him sight. Check out the video video for a glimpse into the future of prosthetic engineering.



Starbucks is expanding its mobile card payment system.

Starbucks in response to customer feedback, are expanding their Starbucks Card Mobile App that was first developed for BlackBerry and iPhone smartphone as these devices are used by more than 71 percent of Starbucks smartphone-carrying customers. To experience mobile payment at participating New York City-area Starbucks, customers just need to download the free Starbucks Card Mobile App on their supported BlackBerry smartphone, iPhone or iPod touch. In addition to the mobile payment feature, the app allows customers to manage their card account, reload their card balance directly from their smartphone with a major credit card, check their My Starbucks Rewards status, or find nearby Starbucks stores. With the Starbucks Card Mobile App, customers will have a barcode on their screen that they’ll hold in front of a 2-D scanner on the counter to pay for their purchase.





Brady Brewer, vice president Starbucks Card and Loyalty said that "mobile technology is part of our customers’ daily routine and with the expansion of mobile payment, we’re seeing more and more customers using their smart-phones as their mobile wallets". 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The use of mobile apps far outweighs the surfing of the web for smartphone users.

A surprising study done by Nielsen shows that consumers use mobile apps more than they surf the web when using smart phones. By analyzing the data gathered from thousand of iOS and Android users Neilsen discovered that the average user spent 56 minutes a day interacting with the web. Of that time they spent 67% of the time using web apps and only 33% of the time on mobile web browsers.


Even more surprising was that the top 10 applications for the Android accounted for 43% of the application usage, while the top 50 apps accounted for 61% of this usage. This left the other 250,000+ apps to compete for the remaining 39% of application usage.


This study makes it interesting for Libraries and other businesses that are trying to decide on making an application or a mobile website for their online users as the study clearly points to the consumer preference of using mobile applications over a mobile website. 





Monday, August 22, 2011

A Day Made out of Glass

Corning really pulled out all of the stops for this future technology demo. Take a look for yourself as this *is* the future of our technological lives is this video called "A Day Made of Glass". 
Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New version of Freemake Video Converter!

Freemake has made a program that I love to use even better with its new version 2.3.0. It can now import over 200 different video formats and can convert these videos to AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, SWF, MPG, 3GP, MP3, DVD and Blue-ray formats as well as rip unprotected DVDs. It can also copy online videos through direct URL copy and paste from YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, MTV, Vimeo, Dailymotion, ComedyCentral, Megavideo, 40+ supported sites and converts them to any format or device available.

For more information please go to : http://www.freemake.com/free_video_converter/  and to download the program go to here: http://download.cnet.com/Freemake-Video-Converter/3000-2194_4-75218346.html?part=dl-10098061&subj=dl&tag=button


A guide to speeding up Windows 7

Windows 7 is so by far the best and the fastest version of Windows that Microsoft has ever produced. But even though Windows 7 is the fastest, doesn't mean that we can't change it to make even faster with these simple tweaks. Remember that with any tweak you make on your system can cause you problems, so do these at your own risk. 


The first thing that you should do is to disable the User Account Control (UAC), otherwise making a lot of these changes will be a pain in the rear to do. To disable the UAC simply open up control panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Account. Then click on Change User Account Control Settings and move the bar down to Never Notify and then click OK


Change the Power Plan:
The Power settings in Windows 7 is not automatically set for maximum performance. By default the power plan in Windows 7 is set for a balanced performance. Which means that you may not be getting the optimal performance from windows 7. So we need to change the power plan from the default "Balanced Performance plan" to "High Performance Plan".


To change the power settings in Windows just do the following:

  • Click on Hardware and Sound in Control Panel.
  • Then just double click the Power Options in the Control panel.
  • Now select High Performance as the default plan.

  • Click on the "Change plan settings" beside High Performance to change the "Turn off the display" and "Put the computer to sleep" to never.

  • Then click on "Change Advanced power settings" and then click on the + besides Hard disk and then the + besides Turn off hard disk after and change the plugged in setting to never and then click OK.


Now you have just activated the High Performance plan  set the computer's hard drives to never shutdown and that's it.


Disabling the Search Index:
The windows search index service will index all the files that are found on your computer so that when you search your computer for a particular file it will find it quickly. The downside to this is that Window's search index is a real resource hog and should be disabled if you don't search your computer files that often. To disable the search indexing just follow these steps:

  • Right click on the Computer icon on your desktop and select Manage.
  • Then click on Services and Application in the Computer Management pane.

  • Click on Services and find Windows Search in the list of services.
  • Right click on Windows Search and choose properties.

  • In the Windows Search Properties Window change the startup type to Disabled.
  • Then click Apply and OK and you are done.
Disabling the Windows Aero Theme:

The Windows Aero theme makes Windows 7 look good, but if you don't have a gaming video card, then all of that eye-candy will certainly task your video card and thus slow down Windows. To disable the Windows Aero Theme, just follow these steps:

  • First right click on an open section of your desktop and select Personalize.

  • Then click on Window Colour and then uncheck the box that says Enable Transparency and then click on save changes.
  • Now select the standard or basic theme and your screen will say "please wait" and turn grey. Once Windows has made the change to the theme your colours will return to the screen and you are done.
Speed Up the Windows 7 Boot-up Time:
  • Press [Win] + R or use the RUN option from the start menu.
  • Now type msconfig in there and press the Enter Key to open up the System Configuration Window. 
  • Click on the Boot tab.

  • In there you will see a box called Time out. This is the time (in sec) which the system waits for the user to select the operating system to boot to.
  • You can safely set the value to 0.
  • Tick the No GUI Boot option also which turns off the Windows 7 logo at boot-up.
  • Click Apply and then on OK. And your done.

Remove additional visual effects:
Even with the Aero effects disabled, Windows 7 has plenty of other graphic effects that can be safely turned off to speed up your Windows 7. Just follow this procedure:
  • Right click on Computer and select properties.

  • Then click on Advanced System Settings and then click on the Settings button under Performance.
  • From here you can uncheck all effects except for the last four.

  • Then click on OK to close the windows and you are done.

Disable Unwanted Start-up Programs:

Many programs start when Windows starts and they run in the background. While some of these programs are necessary (such as anti-virus software), there are others may not be necessary (Adobe or QuickTime fast start programs). 
  • Press [Win] + R or take the RUN option from the start menu.
  • Now type msconfig in there and press Enter Key to open up the System Configuration Window.

  • In the System Configuration window, click on the the Startup tab which will show all the programs that are scheduled to start with Windows. Resize the columns so that you have a good view of the name and manufacturer.
  • Go through each item, clearing the check box for programs you don’t want to start with Windows.
  • Click OK, and then restart the computer.
Disable Windows Sidebar (Gadgets):
Yes the sidebar gadgets can be very cool and even useful. But if you don't depend on these gadgets for your weather forecast or system status then just disable them and this will speed up the start-up of Windows 7. To disable the sidebar just right click on the sidebar and select properties. Then untick the box that says Start sidebar when Windows starts. That is it.


Disable the Unwanted Services:
It is more safe to set the following services to manual rather than disabling them. This is because when Windows needs a service to start, windows can start it by itself if and only if it is set to manual. If you set it to disabled Windows 7 cannot start the service by it's own so it is always safer to set the services to manual.

To open up the Services Window:

  • Press [Win] + R or take the RUN option from the start menu.
  • Now type services.msc in there and press Enter Key

To disable the Unwanted Service:

  • Scroll down and highlight the service you want to adjust
  • Right-click on it and choose Properties
  • Click the stop button.
  • Select Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar.
Here is a list of services that you can safely stop:
  • Application Experience
  • Computer Browser (If your PC does not connect to any network)
  • Desktop Window Manager Session Manager (If you don't want the aero effects)
  • Diagnostic Policy Service
  • Disk Defragmenter
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client
  • IP Helper
  • Offline Files
  • Portable Device Enumerator Service
  • Print Spooler (If you do not use Printer)
  • Protected Storage
  • Remote Registry (You can safely disable it for more Security)
  • Secondary Logon
  • Security Center
  • Server (If your computer does not connect with any network)
  • Tablet PC Input Service
  • TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
  • Windows Defender
  • Windows Error Reporting Service
  • Windows Media Center Service Launcher
  • Windows Search (If you rarely use Windows Search feature)
  • Windows Time (If you do not want to synchronize system time with internet time automatically)

Speed Up the Shut Down Time:
This registry tweak will change the amount of time that Windows will wait for programs to close before Windows shuts down. 

Instructions:

  • Press [Win] + R or take the RUN option from the start menu.
  • Now type regedit and press the Enter Key to open up the Registry Editor Window.
  • In regedit go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control

  • In the right pane, right click on WaitToKillServiceTimeout and click on Modify
  • Type in a number between 1000 to 20000 [1-20 seconds] [12000 is default, I use 3000].


Speed up the Menu Show Delay Time:

This registry tweak will show you how to change the amount of time it takes for a menu in Windows 7 to pop, fade, or slide open when you run the mouse pointer over it.

Instructions:

  • Press [Win] + R or take the RUN option from the start menu.
  • Now type regedit there and press Enter Key to open up the Registry Editor Window.
  • In regedit go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
  • In the right pane, right click on MenuShowDelay and click on Modify


  • Type in a number between 0 to 4000 [400 is default, I use 200] for how many milliseconds you want the Menu to wait before it opens.


  • Log off and log on, or restart the computer to apply the changes.

Note: The lower the number, the faster the response time. I would not recommend that you go below 50 since the menus would be harder to navigate through at that speed.




Friday, July 1, 2011

Use PSI (Personal Software Inspector) to keep your computer safe

PSI is free software (for personal use) that is used by millions of people to keep their computers safe from hackers. It is a security tool that is designed to detect vulnerable and out of date programs and plug-ins which could be vulnerable to attacks. Attacks exploiting vulnerable programs and plug-ins are rarely blocked by traditional anti-virus and are therefore increasingly popular among hackers. 

The best way to protect your computer is to apply security updates, not just for Windows, but for all of your software that is installed on your computer. PSI automates this task for you and alerts you when your programs and plug-ins require updating to stay secure. 


First start by downloading the latest version of Secunia PSI from their website ftp://ftp.secunia.com/PSISetup.exe then install the software and run it. When it first runs you will be shown the main screen (below), click on the "Start Scan" button as indicated in the graphic below.






Once the scan has run you will be presented with a list of software that is installed on your computer that needs to be patched because of updates, or the fact that it is out of date. 






Under the "install solution" column you will see a "install solution" link. Clicking on this will download the patch or latest version of the software to update your old vulnerable version. Run this on a regular basis to keep your system safe and sound from hackers or criminals.  

Enabling Windows 7 GOD mode


In Windows 7 you can create a GOD mode folder that contains nearly everything you can do within the Windows Control Panel and more.To access the special capabilities of the God Mode folder, create a new folder anywhere on your Windows 7 computer (I did mine on the desktop) and name it:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
Once renamed, the icon will change to a control panel looking icon,that will contain all of different tweaking options that can be performed in Windows 7. Sort of a one stop shop of Windows tweaks. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

QR Codes


QR Codes: 

Quick Response codes can be read quickly by a cell phone, and are similar to the old fashioned barcodes except that they are two dimensional and can contain much more information (thousands of alphanumeric characters of information verses a traditional barcode which can contain only 20 characters).  QR codes which originated in Japan were they have been used for well over a decade, are starting to become immensely popular with consumers who want immediate access to relevant data about a product, service or even just sharing their Blackberry PINS. Companies are using QR codes as part of their mobile advertising strategies and some are even offering discount coupons that can be opened with your phone.

QR codes can be embedded with a number of things, a URL, data or text, or even a phone number, and are typically used for marketing purposes or to give the user further information about a product or service. QR codes are showing up everywhere from magazine ads, billboards, webpages (my blog for example has a QR code) and even tee shirts. Once the code has been read by your cell phone, it can open up a URL, display a phone number, geo coordinates or text.

So how can cell phones read these QR codes? Well the cell phone must have a camera (used to scan the QR codes) and a QR code reading software such as Kaywa. Once the software is installed, you can then run it and quickly scan QR codes. But how can you generate QR codes? Well that too is very easy to do. You can go to a web site like reader.kaywa.com or you can use Google’s URL shortener available here and then enter a long URL and it will shorten it for you and once you hit “details” it will display more information including a QR code that has the new URL embedded in it.

These QR codes will be a great benefit to companies and libraries alike. They can be used in ads, or as links to the reference desk so customers can always access the reference desk even from their cell phones. Or it can be used as a way to connect with teens by having a contest to scan in QR codes in library branches (or all over town) that would direct them to other parts of the libraries or other online resources that the library offers. Once they have tracked down all the QR codes a prize would be given or their name would be entered into a draw for a IPAD or other decent prize. And QR codes could be added to new titles that could like to the book's summary, ratings and reviews. Also QR codes could be used to link to online databases so the customer could link to a favourite database through their cellphone. 



Check out more information about QR codes by reading the QR code in this post with your QR reader on your phone! :)

qrcode

New Guides from the NSA help you lock down your computer



Want to secure your computer with the same techniques used by the National Security Agency? Well then look no further than the NSA's website. Here they publish useful and very clear guides on all operating systems (Windows, MAC, Linux and Sun Solaris) that help you lock down the security of your OS.

This is a great site especially if you are very paranoid about hackers getting into you computer. So check it out here:

http://www.nsa.gov/ia/mitigation_guidance/security_configuration_guides/operating_systems.shtml

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sceenpresso a free screen capture program with a powerful feature set!

I have used Screenpresso for about 7 months now and it is a program that I couldn't do without. Not only does it allow me to do screen shots by selecting what part of the screen I want to capture, it can also capture full HD video (MP4, WebM, WMV, OGG and export in HTML5) for training programs.  The program sits in your tray and becomes active the minute that you press the "Print Screen" key, allowing to select precise section of your screen for capture or recording. It also includes a editing feature that can help in designing training screen shots to help your users understand complicated procedures. Or you can export screen-shots to Twitter, Facebook, G-Mail, Evernote, Flicker, FTP site or send your videos to YouTube. Best of all it free!

The free version will only record a maximum of 15 seconds of video but the full version (28.99 € per licence) will record unlimited amount of video. Here is a video that shows all of the neat features of this great tool.

Get it here: http://www.screenpresso.com/index.html