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Coupons/Deals  ·  New Promo Codes/Coupons  · October 20, 2014

Edit Read-Only PDFs for Free

Tips: Windows-world I wanted to edit a PDF file which was an order form that came via email. I didn't, however, want to bother with printing out the form, then scanning and then emailing it back. I don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro, so I looked around for a free solution. Besides, digitally filling out the PDF looked more professional and legible. I saw some free online-only, "cloud" based solutions where you can upload the PDF and then edit it over the web, but this particular order form needed my credit card number and other personal info, so I didn't feel like doing it this way, despite the services claiming complete security. Who knows if the form would be stored/cached on the remote server, etc. So I found an Open Source free program called, appropriately, PDF Edit, which works for Windows 8.1. I went ahead and downloaded the newest version, which had the file name of pdfedit-20140526_1531.msi. The install went without a hitch, though it didn't create a new program group nor place any icon under the Start Menu. So I manually located it and launched the program from Explorer. Interestingly the title of the Window showed TIAEditor v1.28 instead of PDFEdit, but no big deal.

The file open dialog box was pretty rudimentary, and scanning folders with many files took much longer than it should have, but I was able to browse and open the order form PDF I wanted to fill out.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 @ 02:31:51 PM CDT (465 reads) [Read the entire article]

Fix & Troubleshoot Windows Explorer Crashing

Tips: Windows-world After rebooting my Windows 8.1 PC today, I tried to access my files through the "This PC" icon on the desktop, which basically loads Windows Explorer and shows an all-drives view. But every time I do so, the desktop would do a "flash" effect (all desktop icons disappearing for a moment, then returning) and no Explorer window appeared. I tried under Task Manager to End Task, then Run "Explorer.exe" again, but to no avail.

It was time to check the Event Viewer logs. I checked under "Windows Log", then System, but didn't see anything. Under Application logs, I did find the error I was looking for:

Faulting application name: explorer.exe, version: 6.3.9600.17039, time stamp: 0x53156588
Faulting module name: DropboxExt64.22.dll, version:, time stamp: 0x522fb12c
Exception code: 0xc000041d
Fault offset: 0x0000000000008e77
Faulting process id: 0x1414
Faulting application start time: 0x01cf5b292abee54a
Faulting application path: C:\Windowsexplorer.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Users\David\AppData\Roaming\DropboxbinDropboxExt64.22.dll
Report Id: caca4ba1-c71c-11e3-be94-bc5ff44776ee
Faulting package full name:
Faulting package-relative application ID:

So the culprit was Dropbox. I went ahead and downloaded the latest Dropbox installer, ran it, but to no avail. I then proceeded to uninstall it, and even that did not work in terms of fixing the problem. Apparently this DropboxExt64.22.dll is still loaded as an extension, so restarting the PC will likely complete the removal process, including that DLL module. After re-booting, explorer came back and worked without a hitch. Hopefully this bug will be fixed by Dropbox in the near future so I can add it again to my computer.

For you, however, the program causing the crash is likely entirely different. So the proper steps I recommend in fixing this problem is:

  1. Try restarting the explorer.exe process or Windows entirely first

  2. If the issue persists, go to Control Panel, Administrative Tools, and select Event Viewer
  3. Open up "Windows Logs", then Application, and look for events that has red circle with a white exclamation mark in the middle
  4. Single-click on it, and if the first line shows "explorer.exe", you on on the right track
  5. The line underneath it should tell you the name of the DLL that caused explorer to crash

  6. Once you identified the software associated with the error, go ahead and see if an update is available for it. Otherwise, you will need to uninstall it.

  7. Restart Windows and the the crash should be a thing of the past. If it still happens, however, repeat steps 2 through 6.

Problems like this can be pretty frustrating, especially if you are pressed for time. But with the proper information (in this case looking in the extremely useful Event Viewer), you can troubleshoot, identify and then resolve.
Friday, April 18, 2014 @ 01:08:26 PM CDT (1352 reads) [Read the entire article]

Script to Auto Unmount/Remove Mapped Network Drives in Windows 8.1

Tips: Windows-world I use a backup software (Synology Data Replicator) on my Windows 8.1 PC that creates a pair of mapped network drives when it begins backing up to my network attached storage (NAS). Unfortunately those mounted drives persist after the NAS shuts down, and when I save files in various different programs using "Save As", there would be lot of "hang time", even up to half a minute, before I can actually save the file. The reason is because Windows is somehow querying those networked mappings and the operation was timing out. I confirmed this because once I right-clicked on the drives and selected "disconnect", the problem goes away.

So I wanted a solution that would, at specific time of the day, automatically remove all network mappings. That would involve a simple script/batch file, and then having it run using the built-in Windows Scheduled Tasks feature.

The command prompt command to disconnect all networked drives is simple enough:

net use * /delete

But the problem was that it would prompt "Do you want to continue this operation? (Y/N) [N]:". See the screen shot below.

Apparently, however, you can add a /Y to by pass that prompt, pre-indicating a "Yes" to the NET USE command.
Friday, February 14, 2014 @ 02:39:28 PM CST (1394 reads) [Read the entire article]

Solution to Windows XP Slow Boot/Black Screen After Logging In

Tips: Windows-world I have a Windows XP running in a virtual machine via VMWare Player. It used to boot up quite quickly, but for the last couple of months it could get dog-gone slow. Getting to the initial user log-in screen was quick, but after entering the password, it would be literally 5 minutes later before desktop would load. During this time, it would just show a black screen. If I run Task Manager, it shows that System Idle Process as at 99% or 98% most of the time. So it didn't seem to be anything holding it up, though there were a few curious svchost.exe entries running.

I finally got tired of the problem, and wanted to further investigate. I tried running explorer.exe and nothing happened. I killed some tasks, and it seemed to make it worse as an hourglass icon would appear, and then nothing would load, even after the usual 5 minutes, requiring a hard re-boot.

So I looked in the Event Viewer (under Administrator Tools in Control Panel), then went to System to view the OS-related entries. I noticed that after an entry for "Service Control Manager" with the description of "The Terminal Services service entered the running state", there was a two minute lag before the next entry. That one had the description of "The Fast User Switching Compatibility service was successfully sent a start control."

Figuring that I found the culprit, I went to Services (again under Admin Tools), and set the service Fast User Switching to Disabled from Manual in the properties for Startup Type. I then did a restart, and this time it only took 6 seconds or so after entering the password to get to the desktop.

What a difference that made. LOL- I find it ironic that a service with the word "Fast" in it was responsible for terribly slowing down the boot up speed of the OS. I imagine that disabling this service may affect the speed of switching users under XP, but it doesn't apply to me and I think it is the same case for most users out there still using Windows XP for compatibility purposes as well.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ 06:12:16 PM CST (1212 reads) [Read the entire article]

Windows Defender MsMpEng.exe High CPU Access Denied Fix

Tips: Windows-world I was working on my Windows 8.1 PC, doing nothing unusual, but noticed the CPU fan is on full blast and loud. I launched Task Manager and noticed that the CPU usage is at 56%, which is really high considering I'm using a quad core i7 CPU with hyper threading on (for a total of 8 virtual cores). It's pretty much taking up 100% of one of the cores. It turned out that the culprit was MsMpEng.exe, which is the Windows 8 built-in Windows Defender Service anti-virus software (running as Antimalware Service Executable) by Microsoft.

I thought- okay it's probably doing some scan so I'll wait a bit. After over 30 minutes, I had enough. So I right-clicked on the process, then picked End Task, but was greeted with the message:

Unable to terminate process. The operation could not be completed. Access is denied.

Monday, November 18, 2013 @ 01:30:10 AM CST (2917 reads) [Read the entire article]

WinDNSDynamic.exe from Spyware?

Internet and related news Recently I signed up with which offers a free dynamic DNS service. I then downloaded and installed WinDNSDynamic.exe. Ran Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware and immediately saw Windows message saying WinDNSDynamic.exe crashed. Uh oh- I thought. After the scan completed, Malwarebytes showed that the executable contains Spyware.Password.

I then tried to go back to and Malwarebytes blocks it- I get the "Unable to connect" message in Firefox. I took a look in the Anti-Malware log and it shows:
Memory Processes Detected: 1

F:\apps\WinDNSdynamic.exe (Spyware.Password) -> 7464 -> Delete on reboot.

Scary stuff especially since when you search for Dynamic DNS, this apparently malicious site is the top result. Goes to show you that you should not trust nor install any program unless you have antivirus AND a good anti-malware program such as Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware installed.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 @ 06:31:02 PM CDT (2713 reads) [Read the entire article]

Automatically Delete Old Files in a Folder in Windows

Tips: Windows-world I have a Foscam FI8910W camera that we setup as a baby monitor. I have the IP Cam automatically upload captured images whenever there is motion, via FTP, to my Windows 8 PC running Filezilla FTP Server. It's a nice setup, except I end up with tens of thousands of old screen .jpg captures in my ftp folder (which I have located at "D:\foscam") that I have to manually delete. So I wonder, can I have Windows automatically delete files in this folder that are older than, let's say 3 days? This is because even though I'm running a beefy i7-3770 PC, going from one photo to the next was slow because there were so many files in one directory. I did put together a solution, and here is how I did it.

First I had to figure out a command that will delete only files in the "D:\foscam" folder that are older than certain days. This was that magical command that would do it.

forfiles /p "full_path_of_folder" /s /m *.* /d -number_of_days /c "cmd /c del @path"

The command forfiles basically is the file finder of sorts, giving you a filtered list of files that matches the search criteria you provide. In this case "/d" is the parameter that filters for files that match the last modified time from the current date. The "/c" pipes, or sends the list of the matching files to the next command, which is "del" to delete. You can read more info on the forefiles command.

So for my purpose, the final command would be:

forfiles /p "D:\foscam" /s /m *.* /d -3 /c "cmd /c del @path"

The days is "-3" because I'm looking for files that are older than 3 days. Before continuing, I wanted to test to make sure the command works. So I copied a few old files over to a folder called test, and ran the forfiles command without sending to delete. I put 3 old (more than a week old) files + 2 new files from today. And when I ran just the forefiles command, it looked good. This was the output:

Then I added the /c "cmd /c/ del @path" and the 3 matching files deleted without touching the 2 new files from today. The command works. For your purpose, I would recommend you run a test like this before proceeding, especially since the delete will bypass the recycle bin, making it more difficult to recover files that you did not intend to delete.

I then saved my command, calling it "foscam-delete-files.bat" under "C:". If you have trouble saving there, you can save elsewhere, or you can run Notepad as Administrator (right click on Notepad and you will see the option).
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 @ 03:50:56 PM CDT (1700 reads) [Read the entire article]

Microsoft Surface RT 2013 Review

Hardware News I received my Microsoft Surface RT recently, and wanted to give some of my thoughts on the device. I ordered the 32GB refurbished flavor which was also bundled with the Touch Cover. The packaging looked like a black monolith- pretty fancy.

I immediately attached the touch keyboard cover which connected with a loud "crunch". I also appreciate the fact that it came with a kickstand built in. I suppose that I need to keep in mind to always open the kickstand from the left side (where there is a notch), since it takes using a fingernail and some effort to pry open from the right. Regarding the keyboard as a cover- it feels kind of cardboard like with a soft velvety coating on the other side of the keys. I'm just a little concerned that what if liquid like coffee or orange juice spilled on the cover as the stain may be permanent vs if some sort of a plastic coating was employed.

I wanted to test the usability of Windows 8 on a tablet, so I didn't bother reading quick-start/booklet it came with. It turned out that the thin pamphlet didn't include any info how to use the tablet anyway. After prodding up the Surface RT with the kickstand, I hit the power/sleep button on the upper middle right, and about 2 seconds later, the booting process started with the word "Surface" appearing in the middle of the screen. It asked for the language, wireless access point & password, your Microsoft Account login, and also what to name the device. It was GREAT being able to type in those info with the type cover vs a traditional touch-screen keyboard.

When setup had finished, it showed battery life at 43%. I then wondered where Microsoft Office for RT was located. I swiped to the right and there they were on the far right. I wanted them on the first "home screen", so I tried dragging and dropping the tiles- what a pain in turned out to be. In iOS or Android this fundamental task is as simple as holding on the icon for a second, then drag with the finger. But the tiles on the Windows 8 just wouldn't budge most of the time, and I couldn't figure out at first glance how I was able to eventually move them after many attempts. It turns out that I have to move in an upward motion slightly with my fingertip the tile I want to move first, then hold, then the move becomes easy.

After that bit of frustration, I installed some apps from the Microsoft App Store (there are a few quality free games actually). Then I wondered about Windows Update and whether this particular Surface RT (as it is a refurb) had all the updates installed. Going to Settings (swiping in from the right) and then PC Info, it showed that there was a "Firmware Update" in the familiar Windows Update screen. After downloading and restarting, it turned out that there were 20 updates. Update 1 of 20 took a long time. I do find it interesting how it says "Don't turn off your PC." while the patches are being applied. Perhaps "tablet" or "device" would be a better word.

After literally over an hour of updating, my Surface RT finally became usable again. I'm then greeted with having to enter a password to log into my account in order to start using the tablet. This is a similar behavior on my Windows 8 desktop, which I subsequently turned off, but IMO should not be a default behavior for a tablet. Granted having the touch cover keyboard helps, but I have to believe most people, most consumers out there, will not like having to enter a password like that by default. I quickly went into settings and added a 4 digit pin in lieu of the password. That was after I had to "trust this PC" by entering a code sent to my email account.

So back at the tiled start screen, I am suddenly greeted with a battery low warning of 4% juice left. That is pretty disappointing considering when I first started the device, it showed 43%, and it had been only on (albeit actively being updated) for an an hour and a half. I hurried up and plugged in the charger which seems to connect magnetically, but it was already shut off- literally less than 20 seconds after I got the 4% warning. After connecting the charger, I tried to start it up- no go. Perhaps the charger is connected the wrong way I thought- and that was it. Not sure why it was designed so that you could easily connect it in the wrong orientation, though it doesn't seem to be all the way in if not oriented the correct way. I also noticed later on that there is a small white light that glows from the charger tip when it is connected properly. BTW, I did not experience the battery quickly draining issue I experienced the first day I had the tablet. After having it fully charged, I'm able to get about 8 hours of use from my Surface RT. I also turned off Bluetooth to help save battery life.

After the tablet started back up, I tried out the Remote Desktop app, and it told me "Your Credentials Did Not Work" when I tried to connect to my desktop PC. After a bit of research it turned out that I needed to precede "LOCALDOMAIN" to my username, as I was using a local account instead of a Microsoft account on the PC I was trying to remote control.

Then I tried joining the HomeGroup which I had setup with my group of desktop PC's, and got the message "Windows can't setup a homegroup on this computer" even though I tried to join an existing one. After I turned on the PC that started the HomeGroup, the Surface RT was able to successfully join after about two minutes of the circular spinning hourglass action.

Next, I ran into an issue in Windows Update when it tried to download/install a 500 MB update for Office 2013. The error code was 80070003. Ooookay- so I downloaded this troubleshooter per what was recommended by Windows Help, and trying to run it gave me the message "Sorry, this troubleshooter doesn't work on ARM devices." Fortunately, after a reboot, the update re-started downloading and installed without a hitch.
Monday, September 9, 2013 @ 03:05:57 PM CDT (1981 reads) [Read the entire article]

Windows Media Center View Video Feed/Resolution Info| Windowed Mode Stuck at 540p

Tips: Windows-world I've been running Windows Media Center (WMC) for Windows 7 and now Windows 8 Pro for a while now, and it has bothered me that the video quality seemed to be much lower when you view in a window. Even if you have WMC running in a window just a tiny bit smaller than full screen, you can see jaggies everywhere despite viewing 1080p or 1080i content.

Some background information- I'm using a Time Warner CableCARD with a Cisco STA1520 Tuning Adapter, and watching on the Dell U2713HM 27" monitor via Dual DVI-D connection. BTW- I do wonder though if users see the same issue under other providers such as Verizon FiOS. My system is an ivy-bridge Intel i7-3770 with AMD Radeon 6950.

So I really wanted to investigate things further. I was wondering- maybe the video feed from the CableCARD is not HD like it is supposed to be, like 480P or something. I poked around but just could not see any setting in Windows Media Center that will display the current video format being displayed- 1080P, 1080i, 720P, etc.

But- it turns out that there is a "secret" diagnostic screen in WMC. You activate by it by pressing 411, and then the Control-D key combination on the keyboard (or the info button on a WMC remote if you are using that instead). You then use the right arrow key and go all the way to the last screen that appears. It is called "DEBUG: Presentation", and shows you the video feed data including the audio codec, video compression method, and what I'm interested in the most which is the feed format/resolution. That info is presented next to Native Size.

As you can see from the screen shot above, the feed is 1920x1080- not sure if it is 1080p or 1080i, but the Display Size is set to 962x540, or 540p. The weird thing is that no matter how big I resize the window (and my the 1440p Dell 27 WQHD monitor, I can resize the Windows Media Center window to even greater than 1080p), the Display Size is stuck at 962x540. This explains why video quality is crappy no matter how large the non-maximized Windows Media Center is. it seems that the 1080 signal is squeezed down to 540p, and then rescaled upwards to the size of whatever resolution of the window is.

When I run Windows Media Center in full screen, the Display Size jumps to 2560x1440- video looks so much better and text is sharp without any jaggies. Scaling apparently is done by software or the AMD Catalyst drivers, and looks very nice. I do wish I could view in a 1920x1080 window, however.

I'm not sure why windowed WMC is stuck at 540p, but it is likely by design. I definitely wish that Microsoft can put in a feature where the Windows Media Center can "snap" to resolution/format of the video feed. For instance, it would be great to view 720p content in a window (and not scaled down to 540p) while being able to utilize other parts of the Windows desktop!
Thursday, April 11, 2013 @ 11:17:51 PM CDT (3324 reads) [Read the entire article]

OpenOffice/LibreOffice Custom Hot Keys to Add New Row & Highlight Cells

Tips: Windows-world I use OpenOffice Calc on a daily basis. I know that LibreOffice is supposedly better, etc, but the one time I tried it I had issues with it messing up the quotes when I tried to export to a tab-delimited file. Plus Open Office has more life in it has now it is "owned" by Apache, which is a trusted long time provider of the Apache web server.

Anyways I wanted to share a tip that will help you work faster in OpenOffice Calc which should also apply to LibreOffice since they were based on the same code. I have a list in Calc, the OpenOffice spreadsheet equivalent of Microsoft Excel, which I manage and edit quite often. I like to highlight certain rows to attribute a certain task done, or ask new rows. I did wish that I didn't have to select the row, then go up to the menu bar to achieve what I wanted. I wished there were a hotkey that allowed me to add a new row, and a hotkey to let me change the background color of a row to let's say, yellow. Unfortunately there are not, but thankfully I found out, you can make your own custom hot keys pretty easily.

Hotkey to Add a New Row in OpenOffice Calc Spreadsheet App

1) Go to Tools on the menu bar, then pick Customize.

2) Make sure that Calc radio button is selected (vs on the upper right. Then go to the Keyboard tab, then in the Functions section, under Category.

3) Scroll down until you find Insert. On the box to the right, scroll down until you locate Insert Rows.

4)Now in the Shortcut Keys section above, highlight the hotkey you want to assign to the Insert Row function. Then click the Modify button. Oddly enough, many keys are grayed out- for instance F6 and F10. For me, F4 was not grayed out, so that was the one I picked. After you press Modify, make sure that you see the key displayed under the Keys box to the right of the Function box.

4)Press the OK button and now you can press F4 (or if you selected a different key) to automatically insert a row below the current row.

Hotkey to Highlight a Row/Change Background Color of a Row in OpenOffice Calc Spreadsheet App

1) On the menu bar, go to Format, then pick Styles and Formatting (or simply press F11)

2) A small window will pop up- right-click inside of it and select New.

3) The Cell Style window will appear- go ahead and change the Name field- for instance I called the style "Highlight Cells in Yellow".

4) Next, go to the Background tab and pick the highlight color, then click OK to save your custom style.

5) Repeat steps 1 and 2 of the insert row hotkey tip.

6) Under Category, scroll all the way down until you see Styles. Expand the +, then pick Cell Styles. On the right, highlight the style you created- in our example it is called "Highlight Cells in Yellow". Go back up to the Shortcut keys section, and pick your hotkey. In the screen shot below, I've selected SHIFT-F3. Then click Modify. Press OK, and you are done!

I tested these tips under Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1, but in LibreOffice this method should work as well.
Thursday, March 28, 2013 @ 03:01:54 PM CDT (3376 reads) [Read the entire article]

Multi-Monitor with Intel HD4000 and Discreet Graphics Card (AMD Radeon) in Windows

Tips: Windows-world So after the debacle of trying to hook up an old 15 inch LCD VGA monitor to my ATI/AMD Radeon HD 6950 using the DVI-D connector and have it work simultaneously with my new Dell U2713HM 2560x1400 monitor, I had to look for another solution. I did not want to spend more money on an extra active adapter to make the VGA monitor work with my new Windows 8 Core i7-3770 PC. But then I thought- duh- why don't I just plug in the VGA monitor directly to the VGA connector available directly on the motherboard (Asrock Z77 Pro4 Intel Z77)?

Now I'm no stranger to having multiple different graphics cards in a single computer, lol. In fact, back in 1998, I wrote a Windows 98 multi-video card/multi-monitor article that had 3 different video cards- one AGP and 2 PCI working together to achieve multi-monitor goodness in the now ancient OS.

I've never tried pairing integrated graphics with a discrete one before, however. So I took a look at the Device Manager, and under "Display Adapters"- low and behold I saw both the Radeon 6950 and the built-in graphics of Intel HD 4000 both active.

So okay- looks good, so I connected the VGA cable from the monitor directly to the VGA connection head supplied by the Asrock Z77 Pro4, and bam- right away the monitor received signal. I right-clicked on the desktop and went to "Screen Resolution", and dragged the position of the VGA monitor (designated as #2) to line up with the bottom of the Dell 2713HM.

Everything works great. I get to control the output of the discrete Radeon 6950 card using the Catalyst Control Center, while Intel has the "Intel Graphics and Control Panel". I tried even dragging VLC and Media Player Classic windows between the two displays while video was playing, and encountered zero hiccup. Now I wonder what would happen if I'm playing a DirectX 9 or DirectX 11 game in a window, and I drag it from one screen to another.... I'll mess with that another time, but for now I'm just happy that I can use both a DVI-I Dual Link and a VGA monitor at the same time, on the same system. Now if I had only done that in the first place instead of going to buy that useless, scammy DVI-D to VGA adapter.

This worked in Windows 8 x64, but I'm 100% confident that it would work no problem in Windows 7 or Vista as well. In theory I can even run FIVE monitors at the same time to this system. 3 connected to the discreet AMD Radeon 6950 (one has to be DisplayPort), and two more connected to the on-board Intel HD4000. Or even more by adding USB monitors- I do have a Proximus USB mini-monitor and it works fine with the system. Or even more by another 6950 card via CrossFire. Madness!
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 @ 08:50:04 PM CDT (3948 reads) [Read the entire article]

Panasonic Lumix GX1X Deal $450 After Coupon

Deals and Coupon News I have the excellent Sony NEX-C3 camera, but I'm only using the 16 mm pancake lens in came with. I chose the pancake lens kit because the zoom for it would had extruded out so much that it would be impossible to pocket. I might as well carry a regular size D-SLR camera. So I was doing some research for a DSLR-like Micro Four Thirds Camera that came with a Power Zoom lens and the best way currently available for a decent price and great reviews was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1X. The power zoom would enable me to place it into the pocket of my pants, just like the NEX-C3. Now the DMC-GX1X This is not to be confused with the regular GX1 bundle with the non-power-zoom 14x42mm lens.

Looking around, has the black GX1X for a good price of $489.73 (only 12 left at last count). Unfortunately Amazon charges tax for me, so I looked around some more. Then I saw on that it was $499.99 for either the silver (DMC-GX1XS) or the black (DMC-GX1XK). No tax for me, plus there is a 10% off coupon if you use the coupon VMEPROMOMAR13 and checkout with V.Me (Visa's answer to PayPal), resulting in a terrific final price of $449.99.

Hope you guys find this to be a good deal, and please share!
Monday, March 11, 2013 @ 11:54:02 PM CDT (2037 reads) [Read the entire article]

Windows Media Center Display Driver Error on Dell U2713HM Using DisplayPort + DVI Adventure

Tips: Windows-world I got my brand spanking new Dell 2713HM today- wanted it for its 2560x1440 resolution and of course excellent reviews abound. I read that it did NOT include a DisplayPort cable, so I ordered one from Amazon for $9. This, turned out to be a waste of money as you will see. I was under some dumb notion that if I wanted to do 2560x1440 on this 27" beast of a monitor, I needed dual DVI cables, which I thought I was too messy. That's why I bought the DisplayPort cable which supports 2560/1440p, unlike single DVI and HDMI.

I was able to get the 2560x1440 beautifully on the U2713HM with the DisplayPort cable. I definitely liked it better than the bulky DVI cable I was using for my former 24" 1920x1200 monitor. Then I was like- uh oh, almost time for the game. So I fired up Windows Media Center on my Windows 8 PC and was greeted by this message:

Display driver error

The video playback device does not support playback of protected content.

WTF? I rebooted the computer, but same thing. Turned out that Windows Media Center currently STILL DOES NOT support HDCP over DisplayPort. Most cable channels require DRM in order to display, and HDCP is the mechanism where this copy-protection is ensured.

So I was like crap- what am I going to do? Then I noticed the 2713HM only has a single DVI connection. Then after a little more research, it turns out that DVI Dual Link can be a single cable, and the DVI-I Dual Link cable the U2713HM came with fully supports 2560x1440. I am, BTW, running a Sapphire Radeon 6950 2GB. I yanked out the DisplayPort and plugged in the DVI cable that the Dell monitor came with. It only could go as high as 1920x1080. But it was because I had plugged it into the DVI-D Single Link connector of the 6950 video card. After I plugged it into the DVI-I Dual connection of the 6950, at first there was no video. But then I disconnected the DVI cable from the monitor and replugged it in, and it was 2560x1440 no problem.
c Then I had another issue. I had a 15" VGA-only monitor that was using the DVI-I Dual Link connector (via a DVI to VGA adapter). And it was interesting how everyone of my DVI to VGA adapters will NOT fit into the remaining DVI-D connector. So I had to look on eBay and buy a DVI-D Dual to VGA Adapter (EDIT- DO NOT buy such an adapter- it will NOT work). This is how it looks like:

So it was quite a lesson in all the different DVI adapters for me. And I certainly hope that sooner than later, Microsoft will fix this oddball problem of DisplayPort connection not being supported by Windows Media Center in Windows 8 (and Windows 7 from what I have read).

[EDIT 3-13-2013] So I received, from eBay, the DVI-D to VGA adapter today, plugged it in- and the video card simply could NOT detect the monitor. So I did some research. It turns out that DVI-D connections DO NOT pass through the analog video signal that VGA monitors need to operate. DVI-I can do this, but NOT DVI-D. DVI-D delivers only DIGITAL signals (hence the "D"). The DVI-D connector on my Sapphire 6950, unfortunately, was only single-link which only supports up to 1920x1200, meaning that connecting the U2713HM to it is not an option in order to achieve the full 2560x1440 resolution. This brings forth the question of why are DVI-D to VGA adapters sold? It sure seems like a scam because a passive adapter would never work. No wonder I had 4 DVI-I to VGA adapters lying around, but none of the DVI-D to VGA variety- because they would never work. You would need to be an expensive digital to analog DVI-D to VGA converter to utilize the DVI-D connection for VGA monitors. Ah well- at least I only paid about $2 for this lesson, SMH!
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 @ 09:43:25 PM CST (2586 reads) [Read the entire article]

Mass Change Date Taken for Multiple Files in Windows for Photos

Tips: Windows-world I was going through some vacation photos lately and noticed pictures taken for a particular camera had invalid dates. The camera in question was the Kodak Playsport ZX3 waterproof video camera which loses its setting whenever I opened its battery compartment take out the SD card. So the photos taken with the camera had a bad date of January 6 2010 instead of the correct dates of February 18 2013.

There were about 30 photos I wanted to change the "Date Taken" value for, so I did not want to do it one at a time. I've seen utilities that can mass-edit the date modified and date created attributes for files, but I couldn't find one to change the EXIF data of "Date Taken" for multiple photos in one fell swoop.

But it turns out that Windows Photo Gallery, which is part of Windows Essentials, lets you do it- at least the Windows Photo Gallery 2012 version I'm using on my Windows 8 PC. Therefore I'm fairly certain that this tip will work on Windows 7 as well.

What you do is multi-select the pictures you want to change- I just drew a selection around those files I wanted to change via the mouse and the left mouse button. Then I right-clicked on the selection and picked "Properties". In the "Details" tab, under the "Origin" section below "Authors", I clicked displayed date and time next to the "Date Taken" field and picked the correct date. I then pressed the OK button afterwards and the pictures now all have the right dates. I could not, however, change the specific hour and minutes of when the pics this way, but this was a good enough solution for me.

This certainly beat having to manually edit each picture's date property to fix a bad date!
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 @ 05:49:07 PM CST (2033 reads) [Read the entire article]

Thunderbird View Only Important Emails

Tips: Windows-world If you are a Mozilla Thunderbird user and were on vacation and you didn't want to/or had a chance to check your email during your break, you'd like to see right away the most important emails you missed once you got back.

I have several Message Filter rules set up that look for specific words in subjects in incoming emails, and also check if the messages are from people in my contact list. Then the rule will set them to Highest Priority and the message is tagged Important. If you have something like that setup, then you can easily, with 2 clicks, check out the emails that are tagged Important that you have not yet read.

On the quick filter bar on Thunderbird you can quickly filter by unread, starred, emails from your contacts, w/ attachments or were tagged. Click on the Tags button (next to attachment) on the filter bar and you will then see all the important emails. Next, click the "Unread" to the left of "Starred" and there you have it, all the good stuff you need to go through displayed below.

You can also accomplish this another way through the powerful search feature of Thunderbird. Press CTRL-SHIFT-F to pop up the email finder. Add a rule that says let's say, for instance, "Priority is higher than normal". And click the + button to add another rule of "Date is after START_DATE_OF_YOUR_VACATION". Then add another one that says "Status is New". Click search and you will only see the key unread messages you missed after the first day of your trip. Too bad, however, you can't seem to search through all the mailboxes at once.

Sunday, February 24, 2013 @ 11:47:25 AM CST (1640 reads) [Read the entire article]

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