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This blog is a cross between a scrapbook and a diary. I hope you find something here of interest. If you’d like to keep up with things as I see them then you can subscribe to my news feed by clicking the icon below:

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Please note that any reviews/recommendations are based solely on my own experience and does not constitute a guarantee that you will have the same experience. Please do your own research before parting with any money - the risk is all yours!

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facebook-icon-28x28.pngVisit my Briticiser Facebook Page to keep up with things here - lots of reviews of stuff I’ve really used and also all kinds of helpful computer tips with a heavy bias towards SAVING YOU TIME.

How to quickly toggle sharing of a computer’s folders on a network

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170816-130524

There may come a time when you want to only make a computer’s shared folders available to other users temporarily. An example of this would be if you wanted to periodically back-up your server to another computer in which case you’d need to turn sharing on, on that computer, and then turn it off again when you’ve performed the back up.

Please note that this works on Windows XP (long live XP!) and using an old computer for back up purposes is a great idea - because we all do back-ups, right?

As you can see below I have two icons on my target computer’s desktop which are just shortcuts to two batch files. Batch files are just ordinary text files but saved with a .bat extension instead of the more usual .txt and the text they contain is a special command which will be interpretted and executed by the computer (instead of simply opening the file in a text editor).

Batch files are very useful things once you get used to how they work!

Shortcuts to batch files

As you can see above my shortcuts point to a couple of batch files which I have stored in the “Batch Commands” folder which is sandwiched between them.

Here are the respective commands I used in those batch files - just a single line of text needed at the top of the page in both cases:

Disable Sharing.bat

netsh firewall set service type=fileandprint mode=disable profile=all

Enable Sharing.bat

netsh firewall set service type=fileandprint mode=enable profile=all

The easiest way to create the shortcuts is to open that folder in Windows Explorer and simply right click on each file in turn, and choose “Create shortcut”, then copy the shortcuts to the desktop where you can right-click to rename them or to change their icons via the right-click “Properties” option.

Want to start backing up or synchronising your files but don’t know where to begin?

For anyone interested, scared, nervous, or just plain lazy I use Cordes Development’s “Leanware Backer” to perform my back-ups. Other programs will do much the same (some probably better) but Backer is easy to use, reliable, and definitely NOT bloated with features you’ll never need. It will also allow you to synchronise files between computers/flash cards, which I’ve used to good effect before when I’ve needed to work on files using my work computer and my home computer, and carried an SDHC card around in my pocket which I synchronised with those machines both before and after doing my work.

I find this better than cloud computing because you know that no-one else can access you files and, also, you’re not reliant on having a stable internet connection.

You can try Backer before you buy but, for just EUR 39, this program is truly excellent value for money and will be all you need for… ever. Download Leanware Backer here:

http://www.cordes-dev.com/english/trial.html

Unfortunately Backer is a Windows-only program so anyone using a different OS is out of luck.

Cropping & converting MP4 Files to other video formats

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170715-125101

I recently had a small success which made me go “yeh!” and I happened to find this neat intro to a 1960 western serial featuring my name which kind of summed up how I was feeling at the time :D

Download video: MP4 format | Ogg format | WebM format

The problem was that I could only download the full episode in MP4 format so I needed to crop the video just to get the intro into a much smaller file.

Not being one for downloading over-hyped and bloated software I remembered I had a very good little MP4 Joiner (to stitch mp4 files together) on my computer so went looking to see if they had a splitter too - and so they did:

http://www.mp4joiner.org/en/

The joiner and the splitter are now bundled together in one installation file called Mp4Tools, but they work great and are simplicity itself to work out how to use them.

Just one word of warning - while the latest file you can download at the above link installs and works just fine I did have a problem opening the splitter application when I tried to install it on my old Windows XP computer, so I installed the older version 3.0 of the software on that machine, and that worked without a hitch.

In case you have any trouble running the latest version of the sofware you can find the older versions here. Just choose the version 3.0 EXE file and you should be ok:

https://www.videohelp.com/software/MP4Joiner/old-versions

Now that I have the intro of my video nicely cropped I can either make and animated GIF of it or share it on the web, as I’ve done here, but I needed to convert it to a couple of extra formats in order to ensure that the video played in as many browsers as possible.

The formats I needed were .webm and .ogv (OGG format), and instructions for embedding the videos after first uploading the files to your web space can be found here:

http://camendesign.com/code/video_for_everybody

However, you don’t need to really understand how to do this as you can save much time by using the handy code generator which they’ve provided here:

http://v4e.thewikies.com/

In order to covert my MP4 file into these 2 formats I used the following online converter which was quick and very easy to use:

http://video.online-convert.com/

The above website has converters for all sorts of different types of file (e.g. Office documents too), so it’s well worth bookmarking.

No more war no more war no more war

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170620-013718

This is the original version of the song which helped make a star out of Sade:

Timmy Thomas - Why Can’t We Live Together

Where are all the protest songs now.. and I mean protests about the real stuff going down in this world, and the real causes?

Hint: it’s not Donald Trump, muslims, or “equality”. It is however agenda-driven and media-led… whether those sock puppets who masquerade as journalists know it or not.

TP-Link MR3420 3G/3.75G Wireless Router

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161210-182923

TP-Link TR-MR3420I bought a TP-Link TR-MR3420 to replace my aging D-Link DIR-300 router which was beginning to play up.

I’d been looking at the Unifi wireless modems which seem very good (from a first hand account I received) but a bit more expensive than this model, which has the added bonus of allowing you to use it to beam the internet signal from an EVDO USB modem around the house. As we have one of these sticks (we use it as back-up in case we lose our normal connection, and also to access the internet if any of us goes away somewhere) this seemed to fit our needs perfectly… and so it proved. [Read More…]

Epson ITS L1300 A3+ USB Printer works with TP-Link TL-WPS510U Wireless Print Server

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161028-041004

I think the title above is descriptive enough to answer the question which I’ve seen many people asking about this printer. We bought one for the office today along with a wireless print server not knowing whether we could get them to work together or not, but the answer is a resounding YES! [Read More…]

Diadora Shin Guards - they’re not just for sports!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161015-014520

Diadora shin guards helped Georgi to stand upA pair of Diadora shin guards proved to be the perfect solution to help Georgi use his standing wheelchair without having the leg restraint cut into his skin.

After Georgi had his operation we needed to buy him something to let him stand upright. A standing table would have been the cheapest option but that would have been static and quite a problem to lift him up and get him strapped in - and probably quite boring for him too!

A sit-to-stand chair would have been and improvement but, again, quite a static option.

So we splashed the cash and bought him a motorised standing wheelchair which, while we still need to lift him into it, allows him to sit or stand and motor around the house destroying the furniture at the flick of a joystick.

However, due to his contractures, he can’t straighten his legs sufficiently well to allow him to stand up straight and although the machine we bought came with a foam restraint to keep his legs together and allow him to stand, because his knees are always bent this restraint actually pressed into his shins and caused terrible sores… and sometimes bleeding too.

The solution was one which Georgi himself thought of - a pair of football shin guards (or shin pads, as I’ve always known them) proved to be perfect for stopping the restraint from cutting into his legs.

The result is that Georgi can now stay standing for much longer and until he gets tired, instead of when his legs start hurting.

Thank you Diadora!

Add a new FlatPress Blog in Open Live Writer

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160121-165110

imageOpen Live Writer is the new open source version of Microsoft’s wonderful blogging tool Windows Live Writer, and users of the latter will feel VERY at home with the new open source version (as it’s pretty much the same thing!).

In my previous post I gave you my first impression of it - there was a slight hiccup when I tried to set it up with my first blog account, but here is how to add another blog account once you’re up and running. [Read More…]

Live Writer is now Open Source

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160120-174435

imageWindows Live Writer is/was a great blogging tool but Microsoft haven’t really supported it for some time now, so thanks to them for allowing it to become open source so it can be developed by the large community of users who love it to bits.

This is my first post using Open Live Writer on FlatPress and it was relatively easy to set up, but not so straightforward as it could have been… so here’s what FlatPress users may* need to know in order to get it working. [Read More…]

Dell Latitude D630 - Cure for a Flashing Orange Battery Light

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160110-115232

If you own a Dell laptop and suddenly find that the orange battery light is winking at you then maybe it’s time to get a new battery… or maybe your laptop’s power meter is simply lying to you. If this happens to you then here’s something to try first before all else. [Read More…]

Review - StarTech.com 1 Port Flush Mount ExpressCard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Card Adapter

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160107-021150

Cheap way to add USB 3.0 for short-term use (e.g. to save data from an old machine)

image I tried this on 2 nearly identical machines and it worked well on only one of them - the other was a little temperamental. The little plastic spacer is difficult to attach so that it stays put, and pushing the USB plug in the end of it actually made the card pop out of the slot, so I resorted to attaching the USB cable before inserting the card.

That being said it was cheap and did the job I wanted it for (to transfer a lot of data from one machine to a Buffalo Drive), but I’m glad that the newer machines all have USB 3.0 sockets built in.

If you’re looking for something a bit more permanent then I would have a shop around for something which gets a few more thumbs up than I can give this.

Review - Need for Speed: Collectors Series - Includes Underground 1, 2 and Most Wanted (PC DVD)

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160107-020643

Still great games but beware that Underground “needs help” to run on Windows 10

imageBeware that only Underground 2 and Most Wanted will work on Windows 10 - “Underground” appears to be too old for Microsoft’s liking and falls under the growing number of old games which use SafeDisc DRM (Digital Rights Management). Due to vulnerabilities with SafeDisc Microsoft did not include support for it in Windows 10, and have also disabled it via updates in previous versions of Windows (though there is a workaround to get your games to play in Windows 8/7 & Vista).

In case anyone has a problem installing one of the games after installing Most Wanted then you need to rename the Most Wanted game exe file in your Program Files folder from Speed.exe to something else (e.g. SpeedMW.exe) before trying to install the other game, otherwise the Underground installation program thinks that you already have Underground installed, showing you a “Play” option instead of “Install”. Just one star off for that little inconvenience.

No problem with the quality of the product supplied - excellent on that front, just beware if you have Windows 10 then you’ll only be able to play 2 of the 3 games without a little work (all three will install - but only 2 will play) unless you set your computer up to dual boot with (say) Windows XP to play your older games, or you hunt around for a no-cd crack (which is illegal, but it seems as if that’s what Microsoft are forcing genuine owners of these older games to do). If you do go down that route then you’ll probably have some success if you replace your installed game EXE file with for one suitable for NFS Underground Euro Version 1.4, if you bought this set from amazon uk, like I did* ;)

* note that although this is a “No CD” crack it DID ask me to insert Disc 2 into my computer, though when I did this it seems as though the DRM check was avoided and the game then played as normal.

Review - Windows 10 Home 32-bit/64-bit English International

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160107-015235

A nice upgrade from Windows 7 - maybe not worthwhile if you have Windows 8

image Apart from some niggles running games I actually quite like Windows 10 - not enough to give up on good old XP Pro on my own computer just yet, but I upgraded my son’s Windows 7 machine and much preferred it. I’ve never used Windows 8 but if you’re happy enough with that then you may as well stick with it - especially if you own a few older games such as NFS Underground which use a particular type of Digital Rights Management because Microsoft have blocked these games from running in Windows 10.

If you’re not a gamer then Windows 10 offers a familiar-looking interface with a Start button. I first installed the free version a few months ago and, now that most of the teething troubles seem to be sorted out, I bought this and just used the serial number to activate the version I already had installed - the nice looking USB stick with Win 10 on it is still in the box but I did install my current version from a USB stick and it was very easy.

Aside from removing the Activation watermark from the screen the activation key also unlocks the customisation options which let you choose a profile picture and set a folder of pictures as your desktop wallpaper, etc. We could probably could have got by without activating it, but I bought this as a present and it’s nice to see a nice watermark-free screen with everything working as it should.

Beware that Windows Media Player doesn’t seem to be included in Windows 10 but I just downloaded and installed Media Player Classic which is part of the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack, which is my own favourite.

I also installed Office 2003 on Windows 10 64 bit and it runs perfectly, as do all the other programs I’ve installed (IrfanView, 7-Zip, Windows Live Writer, Opera 12, to name but a few).

How to repair/replace target paths in multiple desktop shortcuts

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry151215-142555

Shortcuts Search And Replace just saved me loads of time when I moved a whole folder structure from one computer to another, leaving me with hundreds of shortcuts all pointing to the wrong place.

It was simple to use (the program is self-contained so there’s no installation required) and I found and replaced a matching pattern in the Target Paths of about 350 shortcuts in less than a minute - fantastic, and well worth my small donation which went winging it’s way back to the author once I’d tried it out.

In addition to replacing a matching pattern in the target path this program will also check for dead links - it found 8 “potential troubles” with my shortcuts and flagged them with a helpful yellow warning triangle in the search results preview (a useful break in the process) so I could skip them during the replace operation.

Just one tip: for quickest results run this program directly on the machine where your shortcuts are stored - it will still work across a network, but it works a lot slower that way.

During my search on how to do this I saw lot’s of people struggling to write complex scripts of their own to achieve the same thing, but look no further as this little tool gets my full seal of approval:

http://jacquelin.potier.free.fr/ShortcutsSearchAndReplace/

Screenshot:

Shortcuts Search And Replace Interface

How to migrate Windows user profile settings to another account

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150607-000408

User Profile Wizard 3.9 by ForensiT is a simple to use tool to migrate your Windows user profile from one account to another. I used it on a computer with multiple accounts which I decided I just wanted one account left, but wanted to use all of the settings (desktop, programs list, etc.) from one of the other accounts. This program did the job - easily.

For more information and to download this great little program (the Personal Edition of User Profile Wizard is free to download) click below:

http://www.forensit.com/domain-migration.html

How to run Acrobat 7 Professional on Windows 7 64 bit computers

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150404-154122

If, like me, you’re less than impressed with the latest versions of Acrobat Professional (I have Acrobat XI 64 bit installed) and wish you could go back to good old 32 bit Acrobat 7 with it’s dockable toolbars, batch processes which run really quickly, and overall familiarity with a product which you use on a daily basis, then here is some good news… for some of you.

image As Acrobat 7 is no longer supported by Adobe they’ve decided to give it away (activation key and all) for FREE to qualifying users and, while you can’t install this directly in Windows 7 64 bit you can install it from within Windows XP Mode running in Windows Virtual PC on a 64 bit version of Windows 7.

While you still suffer from a few problems caused by Adobe not fully supporting 64 bit in so far as you can’t easily see thumbnail previews of you PDFs in Windows Explorer or (inexcusable) the PDF document PROPERTIES in Windows Explorer, there are ways around these problems. [Read More…]

How to add the file name and page number to multiple PDF files in Acrobat X Professional

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150404-150500

*Updated September 2015*

Batch processing of PDF files was a powerful feature of previous versions of Acrobat Professional. Since the release of Acrobat X Adobe have renamed batch processing as “Actions”. While these are just as easy to set up and retain much - if not all - of the functionality of the previous versions there is one major problem with Actions - they are incredibly SLOW TO RUN, in comparison with the good old batch processes.

For those who are either stuck with Acrobat X+ or who are perfectly happy with the new interface then this article explains how to set up an Action to add the file name and page number to a whole folder full of PDF files. If you’d like to learn how to set up a batch process in earlier versions of Acrobat Professional then click here for my earlier article on how to do that. [Read More…]

How to restore file tooltip popups in Windows 7

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150320-164842

Having finally been forced to use Windows 7 on my computer at work I was faced with the loss of a couple of handy features which I’d become accustomed to in Windows XP.

One such problem concerned the apparent inability to show more than the barest of information in the little popup you get when you hover your mouse cursor over a file in Windows Explorer in Windows 7.

InfoTip balloon in Windows XP Actually that’s only partially true - it still works for local files (e.g. files on your own hard drive) but for files viewed on a network drive - whether mapped to drive letters of not - you only see the file type, last modified date, and it’s size, none of which is really worth the effort of showing the InfoTip in the first place (you can turn the feature off in folder options).

However it IS possible to get all of the extra information that might be stored in the File Properties (e.g. the document title, subject, and comment) by making a simple change to the registry. Here’s an example of how it looks in Windows 7 - you can see there how useful it is to show more information than you can easily display in the columns to the right:

InfoTip balloon in Windows 7 Note that you must have administrative rights to the computer you’re working on in order to make this change.

WARNING! It is also assumed that you are familiar with the Windows Registry and are happy about taking the risk that you could seriously screw your day up if you do something wrong in there. If not then stop right here and go fetch someone who is. For this reason the instructions below are written with less detail than I would normally provide.

If you’re not confident about doing this then please stop right here!

Otherwise, here’s how to do it:

1) Click on the windows button (normally at the bottom left of your screen) and then type “regedit” in the “Search programs and files” box, then hit return.

2) RIGHT click once on the regedit.exe file you should see in the box above the search box and choose “Run as administrator”. REMEMBER - don’t try this unless you know you have administrative rights to the computer - if you know you can install new programs, then you’re probably going to be ok - if not, then you’ll probably be wasting your time doing what comes next because Regedit won’t let you save your changes after all your efforts.

3) Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREClasses* and add the following to the end of the existing values in both InfoTip and QuickTip:

;System.Title;System.Subject;System.Comment

Type (or copy and paste) everything in blue - don’t forget the semi-colon at  the beginning of the line as that’s the “follow on” from the entries which you’ll already find there.

The reason you need to change it in both keys is that Windows will prioritise “QuickTip” over “InfoTip” when you hover over a network file. Microsoft did that in case you are viewing files over a slow network connection, so it’s useful to know you can make that little tweak if your computer slows to a crawl trying to display the popup information.

In some cases (for local files) I also needed to change the InfoTip value in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSystemFileAssociations - for instance, for my Word docs (my VBA only generates 2003 versions of Excel and Word files) I needed to make the same change to the InfoTip in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSystemFileAssociations.doc

4) Close regedit.

It should be enough, at this point, to simply close and re-open Windows Explorer in order to see the effect of your changes, or you might want to log off and back on to Windows just to make sure.

My other problem (I’m sure I’ll find more - I won’t even mention my hatred of ribbon menus) is the sad loss of the Folder Description column I could add which allowed me to add a comment to a folder using a truly excellent program called HobComment. While this may still work for 32-bit versions of Windows it certainly doesn’t in 64-bit editions but, fortunately, all is not lost!

Folder comments in Windows XP

In my case I still have my old Windows XP PC connected to the network so I simply access this via RealVNC and add my comments there. Displaying the folder description in a column in Windows 7 is actually a piece of cake - simply right click on the column headings in Windows Explorer and add “Comments” column :) Curiously that trick DOESN’T work in XP, but who cares? Here’s how I’ve got it looking in Windows 7:

Folder comments in Windows 7In case you don’t have an XP machine which you can use to add your folder comments then all is not lost because you can run XP on your Windows 7 computer in order to run old programs like HobComment, by using Microsoft’s very own Windows Virtual PC. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m sure it will work.

 

Happy computing!

A quick fix for Outlook 2010 not opening when you do not have permissions to access the outlook.pst file

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry141226-102449

For anyone who has run into a message when trying to open Outlook - this applies specifically to version 2010 but it may happen with other versions - which goes something like “The set of folders cannot be opened. You do not have permissions to open the outlook.pst file” (the message may vary) then here’s one very quick fix you should try before anything else. [Read More…]

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.

Support our caregiving

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.