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Craig’s technical notes and adventures

A SCSI adapter I wired up once. It didn't seem to work...

This section of my scrapbook covers various technical things, including answers to computer-related problems that have cropped up in the past, recorded at the moment of triumph or despair with newer entries towards the top.

 

My thermostat circuits
Simple, cheap and efficient thermostat circuits for heating or cooling control.

Wired Windows 10 (or 8 or 8.1) computer loses sight of wireless machines on the same network
Your Windows 10 (or 8 or 8.1) computer connects to your router using a wired ethernet cable. It loses sight of wireless devices on the same network (computers, shared folders, printers, etc.), meaning that maybe it can browse network shares at one time, or print to a printer one day, then for no apparent reason it is unable to do so later on. Once again, like the problem below, this seems to be related to the Fast Start-Up feature. It saves a cache of settings onto the hard drive to help the computer boot more quickly, but if those settings are in error (maybe an IP address has been changed dynamically by your router, or something) they are perpetuated. You can either follow the steps below to disable Fast Start-Up, or force a one-off clearing of the cache by performing a full shut-down (which worked for me). Close all your programs and save your work. Type ‘Command Prompt’ into the Windows search bar, then right-click on the icon. Choose ‘Run as administrator’, then paste this, without the quotes, into the window and hit enter: ‘shutdown /s /f  /t 0’. This will shut the machine down completely. When you restart you should hopefully now be able to see your wireless network shares and printers, etc. If it happens again down the track, repeat the above. Changing your router settings to use the same IP address each time for each machine might help to avoid this situation?

Windows 10 slow login from password screen following automatic update
Try disabling 'Fast Start-up' under power options. This worked for me on two machines. I should have realised that fast = slow. How stupid of me. Right-click on the Windows start icon. Choose Power Options, then 'Additional power settings', then Choose what the power button does. Uncheck Turn on fast start-up (recommended). If this is greyed out and won't let you change it, first click Change settings that are currently unavailable in blue text near the top of the window. Following subsequent updates, this option might be re-enabled, so return to it if you experience trouble again (I didn't, so maybe Microsoft fixed the bug).

Find short file paths to files in Windows for scripts etc
The old is always new again in Microsoft's universe. 8.3 filenames still lurk.

Remove dashes from Photoshop Save for Web filenames
Dash those dashes! How to create some space instead.

Adjusting EXIF dates and times in digital photos
A tutorial for fixing the damage done when your camera's calendar and clock are wrongly set.

Encoding XviD movies that reproduce correctly on stand-alone DVD players
A quick tutorial for setting up a rip that optimises audience compatibility.

Rescuing blackened pots & pans
Get rid of the baked-on black gunge the smart way.

CRC error in zip or exe self-extracting archive

All Aboard defunct internet sharing application
An long-abandoned program that might be of use to someone using a very old machine as an internet gateway for others. Downloadable here.

Removing slashes from form mailer scripts
Email messages from web forms slashed to pieces?

Microsoft Internet Explorer - can't open a new window from within IE
This very frustrating scenario happened to me. The answers are varied and all covered here.

Remote Desktop doesn't work using accounts with blank passwords in Win 7 / Vista

  1. Click Start, point to Run, type gpedit.msc, and then click OK to start the Group Policy Editor.
  2. Open Computer Configuration\Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\Security Options\Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only.
  3. Double-click Limit local account use of blank passwords to consol logon only.
  4. Click Disabled, and then click OK.
  5. Quit Group Policy Editor

Eudora slow to check or send mail in Windows 7
See this page for a comprehensive solution.

Eudora 'unable to update system registry' in Windows 7 / Vista
Eudora is getting old, but still works in Windows 7. If, when you start Eudora, you receive an error that says: 'Eudora was unable to update the system registry, your default mail program has not changed', all you need do is right-click on the Eudora icon and choose, 'run as administrator'. Doing so just once allows Eudora to update the registry and it will be happy until such time as you move its location (possibly never).

High CPU usage in Windows 7 laptop
I noticed that the fan on a laptop was running more than it should be, which I find very annoying. I opened Task Manager by right-clicking on the taskbar clock/date. I clicked the 'Show Processes from All Users' button at the bottom of the window, and sorted the processes by CPU usage by clicking the CPU column. This revealed that an essential Windows process called audiodg.exe was using 5-10% of CPU power, even without any sound playback or recording. Others report even higher levels. To fix this, a common prodedure is the following:

  1. Right-click the speaker icon in the lower right taskbar tray.
  2. Select Playback Devices, which will bring up a list of devices.
  3. Double-click the device that has a green checkmark to pull up its properties window.
  4. Click the Enhancements tab.
  5. Click the Disable all enhancements checkbox.
  6. Click the OK button to save your changes.
  7. Click OK to close the Playback Devices window.

In my case, the above still left CPU usage at 5-10%. I found that I needed to do the following:

  1. Right-click the speaker icon in the lower right taskbar tray.
  2. Select Playback Devices, which will bring up a list of devices.
  3. Click the Recording tab.
  4. Double-click the External Mic option.
  5. Click the Listen tab.
  6. Uncheck the Listen to this device checkbox.
  7. Click the OK button to save your changes.
  8. Click OK to close the Recording window.

The above took my audiodg.exe CPU usage down to zero when idle. If I ever need to connect an MP3 player to my laptop's microphone jack, I might need to temporarily reverse the above, but in the meantime I'm enjoying less heat and noise.

VLC media player renders a vertical green stripe or bar in flash video
This happened to me with a downloaded SBS Australia video at high resolution. The answer is to go to Tools / Preferences / Video, and change the output from Default to, say, OpenGL. It can be changed back to default later, or left as is.

Billion VOIP modem router with sporadic or intermittent wireless networking
What a nightmare. Sometimes a wirelessly connected machine is visible on the wired network, sometimes not. Neither the latest firmware nor switching DHCP on and off, nor any other of many days' worth of fiddling will fix the problem. It is an unresolved bug that Billion are yet to fully address. The work-around is to go to the set-up page, then Configuration / LAN / Wireless Security / Group Key Renewal and change the value to 65535. This gives 18 hours of trouble-free operation before either the modem (or posssibly the wireless machine) must be rebooted. Doing so will provide another 18 hours, etc. Better yet, turn the modem off every night and help save the planet!

Can't access shared network folders on Windows 2000 from Windows 7
I discovered that a machine running Windows 7 could not connect to an older computer running Windows 2000. When trying to open network shares from the older machine, the login and password dialog box kept returning even though I was using the correct information. The solution was to use regedit.exe to add a registry key at HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Lsa. If not present already, it needs to be added there as a 'DWORD' named LmCompatibilityLevel, and this needs to be set to value of 1 (one, hexadecimal). It worked like magic for me. More info at:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc960646.aspx
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2006.08.securitywatch.aspx

Folders containing PDFs, or selecting PDF files causes disk grinding
If you have Acrobat installed, you might have noticed that when you open a folder containing PDFs that suddenly for no apparent reason your hard drive starts grinding and your computer slows down. I noticed it on my machine whenever I would select a PDF file with a single click. Even though I wasn't opening the file with a double click, the computer behaved as though it was about to crank up into its laborious Acrobat launch procedure, only to fizzle out. I discovered that this behaviour is because of a stupid shell service that runs in the background to provide you with a dubious enhancement that you probably don't care about. Its intention is to give a special tab under the properties dialogue box (when you right click the file) that displays information extracted from the PDF, such as authorship, etc. This can be found from within Acrobat on the rare occasion that one might be interested, so:

I largely followed the advice on this page, which is a bit out of date now. I used Registry Crawler to search on the distinctive strings in the registry keys mentioned in the box on that page. For example, I searched on "21C0FC0AB3C24344FB30C34266AA5E09" as well as "AcrobatInfo.exe", and "AcroExch.Document". I deleted everything from the registry that seemed relevant. Be careful messing with your registry. I recommend setting a system restore point before proceeding in case you mess something up.

Next, I used the File - Run command line box to unregister pdfshell.dll. The path on my computer was quite different to that mentioned, being two versions in the future:

regsvr32 "D:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Acrobat\ActiveX\pdfshell.dll" /u

Next, I searched the registry for pdfshell.dll and deleted everything that seemed to call upon it. Problem solved.

Can't disable StickyKeys or FilterKeys in Windows XP / Word (they're stuck on)
This is another smarty-pants bug of some sort from Microsoft that could easily lead to suicide. You should be able to turn the StickyKeys / FilterKeys features on and off by holding down the Shift key for eight seconds. But for some reason, it doesn't always turn off and you're left stranded. Or it turns off temporarily, but turns itself on again every time you start Windows. Try holding BOTH shift keys down at once. This temporarily fixed the problem for us, thanks to the advice and collective joy on this page, but the cure only lasted until the next time we booted up. It kept happening. We had to resort to using a Windows Registry file described on that same page. I've posted it here for your convenience. Once you have it on your hard drive, unzip it, right-click, choose Merge, and OK. Reboot to test the effect, and you should find that your keyboard works normally again. The Reg file also resets your keyboard 'repeat delay' settings, cursor blink rate, and so on. If they don't suit you, re-adjust them from the keyboard icon within your Windows Control Panel.

Microsoft Internet Explorer - JPEGs and GIFs save as BMPs
Another frustrating scenario where you want to save JPEG or GIF images from a web page and IE suddenly won't save them in any format except uncompressed BMP (bitmap). The problem is apparently caused by damaged temporary files within the cache, and its cure is covered in this Microsoft support article. I've had patchy success with this, however. I recommend switching to Mozilla Firefox if you've got the hardware to cope with it (a much nicer browser). Google Chrome is pretty good by now too.

Truncated messages or attachments in Eudora
If you find that you are receiving incomplete mail messages or attached files in Eudora, it could be caused by inadequate network timeout settings that chop your mail retrieval off in mid-stream. In Eudora, go to Tools / Options / Advanced Network, and change the two network timeout settings to higher numbers. Try, for example, 900 seconds each. Another possibility is that you are using an anti-spam program, such as the excellent Mailwasher, and it is automatically checking your mail in the middle of your main email program's download stream. Depending on your server settings, this could result in a newer 'session' logging off the old one, resulting in partial downloads.

Access denied to certain network folders in Windows XP
This can drive you mad when you upgrade to XP and find you now can't get into all the folders across a network even though you're logged on as an Administrator.

JS Time Sync stuck in the taskbar
If you happen to use a little freeware program called JS TimeSync, and you close it when it's trying to establish a connection, you might find that next time you open it there's no window visible, just the taskbar button. The solution is to close JS TimeSync, open the registry editor (Start, Run, type regedit) and do a search on "JS TimeSync". You should find a couple of keys under listed under Pos (ie, position) for X and Y co-ordinates which will be set to something ridiculous like -32000. Double click on the keys to change them to, say, 100 each and close regedit. Next time you use JS Time it will appear as normal, 100 pixels in from the top left of your screen.

ContextEdit right-click menu editor, v1.1
You might find a proliferating number of entries under your right-click context menus, some that you don't want, or some you'd like to add. This hard-to-find program makes it easy to fiddle with such things [screenshot][download].

Can't delete Norton Antivirus completely
I found out too late that you should never, ever install Norton Antivirus on your computer under any circumstances. It is the worst product in the world. I hate it with a passion. It arrogantly assumes total control of your computer, hogs resources, and insidiously integrates itself in such a way that it can be almost impossible to remove. Search the Web and you will find that I am not alone in this view. It is a view I have formed over the course of more than one generation of Norton Antivirus.

I tried to install the superb avast! antivirus program in Norton's wake (avast is free for home use) and it would not run because it detected traces of Norton on the system. I had uninstalled the Norton product properly and even run one of the special little utilities that Norton tellingly has to produce to try to pick out the company's shrapnel from your computer - but none of it worked. It was infuriating. In the end I had success by using a fast registry tool (Registry Crawler), running searches on and deleting any keys with the following strings in them:

norton, symantec, naveng, navwnt, navnt, navex15

So you can run a search on 'nav' to catch the last four in one go, but be careful only to delete these and not things that might look similar, but could belong to a different process altogether. This procedure applies to Norton's Internet Security 2004 and might change with subsequent editions, though probably not too much. Similar registry entries seem to apply to older versions of Norton Antivirus too. Remember to back up your registry first (create a system restore point in XP at least) before messing with things like this.

Nero Burning ROM problems
Firstly, how to get rid of the very annoying Nero Scout icon in Windows Explorer? Even un-checking the Use Nero Scout checkbox leaves the icon in place. The best way to get rid of it is to go to your Start button, select Run, then paste this line into the box:
regsvr32 /u "%COMMONPROGRAMFILES%\Ahead\Lib\MediaLibraryNSE.dll"

Secondly, trying to use Nero to burn disks in a minimalist mode without all the bells and whistles is liable to produce a cannot connect TRF error. The solution is to reinstal Nero or modify your installation, this time including the Nero Fast CD-Burning Plug-in option (under Tools, I think). There's something about this plugin that the burning portion of the software seems to need.

Windows XP Explorer doesn't update CD or DVD drive contents
This situation is a common and ridiculous annoyance with XP: You swap one CD or DVD disk in your drive for another one, and Explorer keeps displaying the contents of the old one no matter what you do. Even hitting F5 to refresh the view does nothing. I'm yet to find the definitive fix for this problem, but this page offers something that seems, so far, to have largely done the trick for me. It involves enabling the Autoplay function by adjusting a registry value.

One downside is that if you then hook up a removable USB hard drive with thousands of files on it (your backups, say), XP will run through the whole file structure trying to autoplay the media types it finds there. It's tediously slow. So get hold of a copy of Microsoft's Tweak UI one of their so-called powertoys, and within the program, under My Computer / Autoplay / Drives, deselect the drive-letter your USB drive usually occupies when attached.

How to change the Firefox disk cache location
Mozilla Firefox seems to make it hard to change the location of its cache folder, and if you're like me you don't necessarily want it bloating and fragmenting away constantly on your main system partition. So do this: type about:config into the browser address bar. Then look for an entry called browser.cache.disk.parent_directory. If you don't see it, as you probably won't, right-click on any other entry and select New > String. Add it, and then set the location of your desired cache folder (for example, E:\BrowserCaches\Firefox). Close and restart Firefox for this to take effect. You should then be able to set the maximum size of the cache within the Tools > Options > Advanced > Network dialogue.

Microsoft Excel 2007 reluctant to open files
Excel 2007 can hang when you've double-clicked a spreadsheet file from within Windows Explorer. Excel will open, but the file itself doesn't open unless you either wait a long time, or perform some intermediate action such as minimising the window. Some people have reported that removing unnecessary 'add-ins' has fixed this problem for them. Acrobat PDF add-ins are a typical source of trouble. You can try this step by deleting suspect items from within the following folders (or their analogues on your computer):
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\Library
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\XLSTART
C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Microsoft\AddIns

In my case, the above didn't work. You can try the steps below (found on this page) but despite initial impressions, these didn't work for me either:

Open any Windows Explorer view; choose Tools / Folder Options / File Types

Find the relevant .XL** file extension (in my case, I only bothered to fix the xls and xlsx extensions, as that's all I care about). Choose the Advanced button, select Open, then Edit. In the Application used... section, add a space and "%1" (including the quotes) at the end of the string.

In other words, you'll wind up with the something like the following:
"<Whatever your installation folder is >\Microsoft Office\Office12\EXCEL.EXE" /e "%1"

Click Close, etc, and you should now be able to open those files normally through Explorer.

You might get a strange message box saying something about not being able to find the file after closing an xls spreadsheet from Excel 2007. This seems to be because the file originated from an earlier version of Excel and needs to be re-saved from the new one.

If anyone finds a real solution to the above problem with Excel 2007, please let me know.

Mailwasher or Mailwasher Pro doesn't open your new default mail program
The situation: You change your default email program (in my case from dear old Eudora to Thunderbird - a common upgrade with Eudora's recent demise) and Mailwasher Pro keeps opening the old one. There are no settings within Mailwasher's options to adjust the mail program it uses. It simply works with whatever your default program is or, more acurately, what it was, when you installed Mailwasher Pro. If you change your default email program in the meantime, Mailwasher is stuck in the past.

It might be possible to fix this by reinstalling Mailwasher. I don't know - I haven't tried it. Otherwise, if you are competent enough to edit the Windows registry without wreaking havoc - it's not hard, just refrain from changing anything else while you're inside - the following should do the trick.

The first thing to do is confirm that your new program is the current default. Go into your Control Panel, select Internet Options and then the Programs tab. The program listed under E-mail is your current default. Change it at this stage if you wish, make careful note of the exact spelling of its name, and click Apply / OK.

Now open your registry editor (Start button / Run / type Regedit / OK). Navigate down to find the following key (but your user number will probably be different).

HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-725345543-329068152-2147196821-1002\Software\FireTrust\MailWasher Pro\Prefs

You might have to explore through the accounts listed under HKEY_USERS to find the Firetrust software keys. Just poke around a bit in any Software folders you see, looking for Firetrust. Follow the structure above, but substitute your own user string where mine starts off as S-1-5.... If you have the non-Pro version of Mailwasher, you would presumably ditch the 'Pro' portion too.

Alternatively, you can employ a program such as Registry Crawler to perform a search on Configured mail client name, and it will take you straight to it.

Once you've found the Prefs folder, locate the key called Configured mail client name. Right-click on it and choose Modify. Enter the name of your new default mail program spelled exactly as you noted it before. In my case it was changed from Eudora to Mozilla Thunderbird.

Close the registry editor, restart Mailwasher, and test it by clicking the Mail Program button. Hopefully it will now work as intended.

PS: Any other Eudora - Thunderbird migrants out there might be interested in the Penelope project, which produces a free add-on that gives Thunderbird a Eudora-like interface.


Copyright © Craig Forsythe, 2013. All rights reserved. Contact.