Category Archives: Projects

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Common Windows Shortcuts

Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

When I observe most colleagues and friends working on their PC’s they mostly use the mouse as they are unaware of the powerful Windows keyboard shortcuts that will make their lives so much easier. Some people might be aware of the keyboard shortcuts, but they are used to be working mostly with the mouse and old habits are hard to let go.

In this article I will take things step by step so you can learn the keyboard shortcuts that are required to navigate your way around the Windows operating system.

Lets assume your machine is starting up and due to a faulty mouse or some other related problem your system cannot be accessed with the mouse. A user that is not using keyboard shortcuts on a regular basis will be completely lost. Ok its relatively cheap to replace the mouse, but what if you had to quickly perform a task that cannot wait until a new mouse is acquired or the problem is fixed?

Navigating the Start Menu

I will firstly explain how to launch an application without the use of the mouse and instead use keyboard shortcuts. Immediately after system startup if you are required to log in, type out your password and press the Enter key. Once the system have fully initialized you will be presented with the Windows Desktop. As an example we will launch Notepad. Follow the steps exactly as explained below:

Press Ctrl and Esc to show the Start menu or press the Windows Logo key. Now press the Up Arrow until you can see the selection rectangle moving upwards in the Start menu. Once the selection rectangle enters the Start menu press the Left Arrow to move to the left section of the Start menu. Then press the Down Arrow until “All Programs” is selected. Press the Right Arrow to expand the “All Programs” menu. Press the Down Arrow until “Accessories” is selected. Press the Right Arrow to expand the accessories menu. Now press the Down Arrow until the Notepad menu item is selected and the press Enter. This will cause the Notepad application to launch.

Armed with this basic keyboard shortcut knowledge you will be able to launch any application without the use of the mouse.

Moving Around the Desktop

Frequently users place icons on the desktop to quickly access some application, files or folders they regularly use. What now if the mouse packs up and you have to get to that file? Here is how to make use of the Windows keyboard shortcuts to get that done:
Depending on the current situation different steps might be required so keep in mind that you do not have to do all the steps.

Press the Windows Logo key and M simultaneously to minimize all Windows. Press Ctrl and Esc simultaneously and then press Esc again. (Only required under certain conditions so you might only need to perform this step if you do not get the desired results from the step below). Press the Tab key and release it. Keep on pressing and releasing it until you see a “focus rectangle” surrounding one of the icons on the desktop. If there are a lot of icons on the desktop you might need to look carefully if any receives the focus indicated by the focus rectangle. Also occasionally use the arrow keys to see if you can move between different icons if it is difficult to notice the icon with the focus rectangle. Normally the focus will move between the Windows Taskbar and the last icon that had the focus (being selected) on the desktop when the Tab key is pressed. Once you got the “focus rectangle” on any icon on the desktop it is just a matter of moving to the icon of your choice using the arrow keys. When the required icon got the focus or is selected press the Enter key to open the file, folder or launch a program.

Working with Windows

Our next step in this Windows keyboard shortcuts article is to manipulate windows in the context of minimizing, maximizing, moving and closing them. To minimize the currently active window press Alt and Spacebar. The Control Menu for the window will appear. Now press N to minimize the window.

To maximize or get a window to its restored state when it is minimized to the Windows Taskbar hold down Alt and then press and release the Tab key until the desired window is selected. When the window of choice is selected also release the Alt key which will ensure that the window will either be maximized or restored depending on its previous state.

If you want to maximize a window from its restored state press Alt and Spacebar. After the Control Menu appears press X to maximize the window. To restore an maximized window press Alt and Spacebar. When the Control Menu appear press R to get the window from its maximized to restored state.

To move a window press Alt and Spacebar. When the Control Menu appear press M. Now use the arrow keys to move the window to the desired location and press the Enter key to round of this operation.

When you want to re-size a window press Alt and Spacebar. When the Control Menu appear press S. Now press the arrow keys depending on which side you want to size the window from. Right will take you to the right edge of the window for sizing and the Down arrow will take you to the bottom right corner for sizing purposes. When pressing the left key first you will be taking to the window left border to carry out sizing from that side. Once you have selected your sizing location by pressing the left or right arrows and up or down arrows do the sizing by using any of the arrow keys. When finished press Enter to complete this operation. Pressing the Esc key will leave the original size of the window intact.

To close the currently active window press Alt and F4 or press Alt and Spacebar, then press C.

General Use Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Take note that the WINDOWS key is the Windows Logo key on the keyboard.

ALT+TAB
Display list of open programs and switch to next program.
(Press TAB again to advance to the following program).

ALT+SHIFT+TAB
Display list of open programs and switch to previous program.
(Press TAB again to select the pervious program).

WINDOWS or CTRL+ESC
Displays the Windows Start Menu.

WINDOWS+E
Open My Computer.

WINDOWS+D
Toggle between Show Desktop and Show Open Windows.

WINDOWS+M
Minimize All Windows.

F2
Rename selected folder, file or shortcut.

CTRL+N
Create a New document for the active application.

CTRL+O
Display the Open dialog box of the active application.

CTRL+S
Save the current document of the active application.

CTRL+P
Print the current document of the active application.

CTRL+A
Select All content of the current document.

CTRL+X
Cut the selected text or object.

CTRL+C
Copy the selected text or object.

CTRL+V
Paste contents of clipboard into active document.

CTRL+Z
Undo the last operation.

CTRL+Y
Redo the last Undo operation.

CTRL+B
Make selected text bold or remove bold formatting.

CTRL+U
Underline the selected text or remove underline.

CTRL+I
Make selected text italic or remove italic formatting.

CTRL+F
Displays the Find dialog box.

CTRL+H
Displays the Replace dialog box.


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The Three Types of Video Streaming

If you’ve visited websites with video streaming, you will notice that your video loads. You do not know; however, that there are three methods that the website could use to get the video to you. These three methods rely on separate technologies to accomplish a similar goal, but each method has a slightly different effect on your prospect.

1) Progressive Download

In a progressively downloaded video, the website downloads the video file, but can begin to play the video before it is fully downloaded. This method cannot be considered a true stream, because a true stream does not require a download to your hard drive. With this method, end user is generally satisfied with the viewing speed.

2) Media File Download

This method is the least expensive method, but requires the end user to completely download a video file to their hard drive. Once the media file is downloaded, they can view it and may have less difficulty in viewing the material repeatedly. However, many consumers lack the patience needed to wait for a download, especially if the video presentation is lengthy. Also, internet speeds has a major affect on this method of streaming media. A user may have to wait hours before a media file could be accessed. With the other two types of streaming, the wait is minimal before you are able to access your media.

3) Full Streaming

In this scenario, the end user may be able to watch your video almost as soon as they navigate to a web page. Depending on the speed of the computer in use, the consumer may see very few interruptions in presentation. This is the most expensive form of video streaming simply because there is ‘no waiting’. Consumers are generally most satisfied with this option. This is the main option used today with many streaming services such as YouTube. With the way video files are optimized for online viewing these days, this turns into an easier option when it comes to bandwidth usage and viewing experience.

As consumers become pulled in numerous directions simply because of the hectic pace of life, the thought of having to wait for a download may move them away from watching a video – no matter how good the end result might be.

Many “netrepreneurs,” or entrepreneurs of the internet, may gravitate towards providing a Progressive Download because the cost is reduced while the viewing speed is enhanced.

There are sites where you can upload a video and it’s  downloadable to visitors. There are often provisions that likely include directing your visitor off-site, placing ads on the site page where the video download can be viewed, and last but not least a provision to have the video removed if there is no activity within a certain number of days. In all, there are multiple types of streaming that can work well in different cases.


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Cleaning your Windows Registry: A Simple Task with Big Benefits

Category : Software , Tech Tips

The Windows registry is a hidden database in your computer that tells programs information on user saved preferences. It also gives them information on how to run the program. When you install a program, the program creates registry values during the installation in order for the program to work properly.

Over 92% of computers have some form of Adware and spyware. Such software is rarely accompanied by an uninstall utility, and even when it is, it almost always leaves broken Windows Registry keys behind it. Even if you have an anti-spyware tool your Windows Registry might be broken – developers of those tools focus on removing Adware and spyware functionality, not every trace of software itself.

Another group of software that is known to leave bits and pieces behind on uninstallation is games. There are a lot of special installation systems that create strange files, unique entries in your registry file,as well as changes system dll’s, or system drivers, to other versions. Once you uninstall the game a lot of the special installation changes it made will be left, causing you problems.

You should run an advanced registry cleaner for Windows that allows you to safely scan, clean, and repair registry problems with a few simple mouse clicks on a regular basis.

Problems with the Windows Registry are a common cause of Windows crashes (blue screens) and error messages (memory as well as disk errors). By using a PC tune-up utility, your system will be more stable, your software will run quicker, and your operating system will boot faster.

Registry problems can occur for many reasons, including references left after uninstallation; incorrect removal of software; missing or corrupt hardware drivers; or orphaned start-up programs. With a few easy steps, a good registry cleaner will scan your entire registry for any invalid entries and offer a list of the errors found.

You then can choose to clean each item or automatically repair them all after making a backup without the need for a registry editor such as Regedit.

To help people choose a product have we created this short checklist.

A good windows registry clean and repair product should have the following options.

Automatic Scan

This is the hands-off approach for your windows registry scan. This is the simplest way to clean up the registry. Automatic Scan is recommended for ‘non-technical’ users.

Custom Scans

You customize your search and scan Windows registry for particular types of errors. (shared DLLs, missing fonts, invalid start-up entries, etc.).

Manual Cleanup

After the scan is complete, the program should show you a full list of errors with details, broken down by types. Then the program should let you fix individual invalid entries or all invalid entries of a certain type.

Backup and Undo

Before removing an entry from your registry, should an automatic creation of a backup file be done, that can be used to undo the changes. This to avoid changes without backup.

Scheduler

To schedule the program to scan the registry whenever you start your computer.

Using software like this is not a one time fix. You must run it on a regular basis to keep your registry clean and without errors. This will help the stability and speed of windows.

So when you want to clean your registry, you can easily click a mouse a couple of times and fix some possible crash-causing problems on your computer in a few minutes.


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What is HDMI?

HDMI, or high definition multimedia interface, is a type of audio and video interface that is used for the transmission of uncompressed digital streams. Essentially, HDMI can be considered an alternative method to transmitting data streams, rather than making use of conventional methods such as coaxial cabling, VGA, or component video equipment.

What Type of Sources May Be Employed Using HDMI?

Quite a number of devices and sources on the market today will work with the use of HDMI. The Blu-Ray disc player, a relatively new innovation, was created with the use of HDMI specifically in mind. Most personal computers that are sold today are ready for use with HDMI, as are the majority of video game consoles in the stores currently. A set-top box also is usually compatible with HDMI, as are such entertainment options as digital television. Essentially, any type of computer interface today will function with the use of HDMI.

How Does HDMI Work?

HDMI will work with a single cable connection to such devices as televisions or personal computers. In general, HDMI will function fine with any television or PC that is standard, enhanced, or high definition in the video component. However, it is important to note that HDMI does work independently of many of the DTV standards, although use of HDMI will not impact the quality of the digital transmission. Generally, these standards apply to some configurations of MPEG movie clips and files. Since these are compressed, HDMI will simply decompress the data and make it possible to view the clip.

Are All HDMI Versions The Same For All Devices?

No. There is a range of specifications that are employed by HDMI, and a given device will be manufactured to comply with one of those specifications. The most simplistic specification is identified as 1.0. With each succeeding version, the capabilities of the previous version remain intact, but are joined by other capabilities that will allow the version to function with a given device. Because technology is always advancing, HDMI continues to advance as well. However, older versions remain active, as they are often used with devices that require less functionality, and they also continue to be helpful in situations where older systems are still running and are in operation.

Where Did HDMI Come From?

HDMI was created and has been enhanced by the efforts of several prominent names in the computer and electronics industry. Consumers will recognize the names of Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Silicon Image as just part of the roster of corporations involved in the ongoing enhancement of HDMI.


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Windows or Linux?

Category : Software , Tech Tips

Computer users and programmers have become so accustomed to using Windows, even for the changing capabilities and the appearances of the graphical interface of the versions, therefore it has remained Microsoft’s product. Although, Lycoris, Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, Knoppix, Slackware and Lindows make up some of the different versions of LINUX. These companies release their own versions of the operating systems with minor changes, and yet always with the same bottom line. The simple fact that not one of these companies are close to competing with Windows, for the most part causes the difference in market share.

It sometimes seems everyone on the planet is using Windows. Many say Windows is way better than LINUX because of the simple handling of the software or hardware. There are huge differences between the number of users of LINUX and Windows. Many say LINUX is far better because it started as an Open Source software and thus is more flexible than Windows. Then what accounts for the enormous difference in market share between these two operating systems?

Windows and Linux are different in many ways.

1. Windows GUI is an integral component of the OS; speed, efficiency and reliability, while the Linux GUI is optional, is increased by running a server instance of Linux without a GUI, something that server versions of Windows simply can’t do. The nature of the Linux GUI makes remote administration of a Linux computer easier with a more natural feel than Windows computers.

2. The command prompts of the operating systems are very different. The command interpreters in the Windows 9x series are very similar to each other and the NT class versions of Windows also have similar command interpreters. There are, however differences between a Windows 9x command interpreter and one in an NT class flavor of Windows. Linux, like UNIX, also supports multiple command interpreters, but it usually uses BASH or “Bourne Again Shell”.

3. While you have to pay hundred’s of dollars for a new Windows version, you can just go download Linux. There’s no manuals or simple installers for the free version. Although there is quite a learning curve when utilizing the free package. There are some easy automated packages of Linux for low prices.

Microsoft’s “big con” is the supposed security issues with windows. Most spyware, adware and malicious files programs work with Windows just fine. In general you do not deal with these kinds of circumstances unless you are working with Windows. whereas Linux offers a strong protection, password protection for Windows can be bypassed with ease.

The software availability is the key to why Windows wins over Linux in this competition. Most software releases are already configured for Windows. If you chose to use Linux you must copy Windows with special software in order to use your windows based programs. You could always install Windows as a subsystem to Linux, this would take the administrative capabilities of Windows and allow them to function on Linux.

If Linux is ever to compete with Windows, it must become more user friendly and provide serious technical support.


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What is CPU Clock Speed?

The CPU, or central processing unit, of a computer is the part which performs all of its logical and arithmetic calculations you need in order to make the computer work. All calculations are done by first converting the user’s input into binary, and then the calculations are performed on the binary. The binary system consists of only two different digits – 0 and 1. They are referred to as the logical zero and logical one. For every calculation the computer alternates between these two numbers. A single change from 0 to 1 or vice-versa is known as a clock cycle. The speed of a CPU is measured in clock rate. In short, the clock rate is the frequency of the clock in a circuit. It is measured in Hz, MHz (Million cycles per second) and GHz. The clock rate can also be defined as the speed at which the microprocessor executes instructions. This rate is used to compare the speeds of different computers.

The clock rate of a CPU depends on various factors such as system architecture, clock rate of RAM and file system, so two computers with the same clock rates may not perform the same. The first commercial PC the Altair 8800 which used the Intel 8080 chip had a speed of 2MHz while the original IBM had a clock rate of 4.77 MHz.

The Intel Pentium (2002) chip ran at 300MHz while the more recent Core i7 4790k runs at 4 GHz (4 billion cycles per second).

To find your CPU’s speed (Windows):

1. Right click on “My Computer” and click on “Properties”.

2. Under the “System” section, look for Processor – The processor’s name as well as speed (in GHz) will be mentioned.


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What is RAM?

Tags :

Category : Hardware , Tech Tips

RAM is a moniker for Random Access Memory. It acts as a short-term memory much like the human brain to store a wealth of information. The RAM is accessible through the computer’s brain called the CPU which stands for Central Processing Unit. RAM has the capability of being retrieved only while a computer is on. When the computer is turned off the RAM is no longer accessible. ROM chips along with BIOS (computer boot firmware) allows the RAM information to be retrievable when the computer is rebooted.

Most computers come equipped with 2 gigabytes of RAM already on the computer. Additional RAM can be placed within the system. However, there is usually a limitation placed upon just how much RAM can be added to a computer system. RAM is not random as its name would lead one to believe. The RAM is highly controlled and the storage can be directly ascertained. There is a decisive method that RAM utilizes to make its memory available to certain areas of the computer system.

Forms for RAM

RAM is what is known as discrete microchips which means that it is separate from the rest of the computer and motherboard. An additional form of RAM is modules which attach into outlets in the motherboard of the computer. A network of electrical pathways to the processor allows the connection to spark for the RAM.

Why is RAM Important

RAM serves the very important function of retrieving information that must be accessed in a quick manner. This operation is very similar to the human brain’s function in retrieving necessary facts from short term memory. Open files and the utilization of applications on a computer systems requires the assistance of RAM. Users that play alot of video games with detailed graphics or keep alot of folders open while on their computer, will need the use of additional RAM. This will allow them to better access the information they need when the time comes. RAM is held onto a limited time, but it allows the information to come up quickly and without much fuss on the part of the computer user.


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What is EProm?

EPROM or Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory is rewritable memory chip that can hold its data without power. A programmed EPROM can keep its data for up to twenty years and can be read indefinite number of times. An Israeli engineer, Dov Frohman invented the EPROM chip in 1971.

EPROM chips are embedded on an external programming device before being used on the circuit board. The EPROM chip requires a costly ceramic chip package with a small quartz window that is sheltered with opaque, sticky tape. For reprogramming, the chip is extracted from the circuit board, the tape is detached and it is placed below a concentrated ultraviolet (UV) light of wavelength 235nm light for approximately 20 minutes.

Some microcontrollers, before the era of EEPROMs and flash memory, used EPROM to store their program. Such microcontrollers include some versions of the Intel 8048, and the “C” edition of the PIC microcontroller. Similar to EPROM chips, such microcontrollers came in windowed (expensive) versions that were handy for debugging and program development. Leaving the die of such a chip exposed to sunlight can change its behavior in unexpected ways.

EPROMs come in several sizes with regard to both packaging and storage capacity. Parts of the same type of EPROM from different manufacturers are intercompatible as long as they’re only being read, there are subtle differences in the programming process.

Most EPROMs can be identified by the programmer by forcing 12V on pin A9 and reading the two bytes of data. However, programmer software would allow manual setting of the chip to ensure proper programming.

EPROMs are the forerunners of the modern EEPROMs and flash memory.


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Cleaning and Organizing your Computer

It is a good idea to think of your PC as an office. It stores files, programs, pictures. This can be compared to an actual office’s files, machines and decorations. The operating system is the boss. With this image in mind, think of an office you’ve visited that was slow and inefficient. There were probably many different reasons for the inefficiency. This is the same with a computer. There can be many items that slow down your computer. Perhaps the one most commonly overlooked is disorganization and clutter.

Disk Cleanup

An office can accumulate a lot of unnecessary files, machines, and decorations. This is the same with your computer. One of the best ways to keep this clutter under control is to perform a cleaning utility periodically. In Windows this cleaning utility will be called a “disk cleanup.” It removes a variety of unnecessary files depending on the options you have selected.

To perform a disk cleanup on Windows XP you can simply click on “my computer” under the start menu. Than right click on your “c drive” or “hard disk” and choose properties. Than click “disk cleanup” and follow the prompts. When selecting files to clean up, or delete, Windows will give you information to help you decide. When looking over the list of file types, you would simple click on the name of the file type and read the description placed below in the description area. This will let you know if the files can be safely deleted. To select the file group just check the box next to the group name. When finished selecting press “OK” to finish.

Now, performing a disk cleanup is not very time consuming, just a couple minutes, and it may save more time in the end by making your computer run faster. However, a disk cleanup should be run periodically rather than just once in a great while. One way to make this run periodically is to make it a scheduled task. This will allow your computer to run it automatically with intervals and time of day determined by you. Yet, you can always run it yourself periodically without creating a scheduled task.

Add or Remove Programs

The information given above can help you get rid of some unnecessary files, but you may also need to clean out some unnecessary programs as well. This can be done using the “add or remove programs” utility in Windows. This is located in the control panel and lists all of your currently installed programs along with an option to uninstall them. It is a good idea to browse through the add or remove programs utility every once in a while just to make sure that all programs are of usefulness.

If there are programs listed that are no longer used, you can simply highlight the program and click the uninstall button. Windows will than begin the process to uninstall the program. In most cases, to finish uninstalling a program, it is wise to restart your computer. This will dump and files that are held temporarily.

The add or remove programs utility is very useful, but not all of the programs are listed up front. Programs that come pre-installed on your computer and the Windows operating system can also be uninstalled. For instance, Outlook Express is a default e-mail program that comes with the Windows XP operating system. If you do not use this e-mail program you can uninstall it. Click “add or remove windows components” found in the add or remove programs utility and simply follow the instructions.

Defragment

Many offices contain a large number of files and programs that are valuable and cannot be thrown away. In fact, they may contain files that are not even used, but still have to be retained for some reason. Although these files must remain in the office, they need to be organized. This is why we create file folders that hold groups of files that are related. Than we store them in cabinets that are arranged in alphabetic order.

In a computer, the files that are saved are placed on the hard drive. However, they are placed according to the time that they were saved. So, if you open a word document and save the file as “file A” and than open another document and save it as “file B”, you have a “file A” placed next to “file B.” This is fine, but if you open “file A” later on and save it again, than the added information is saved next to “file B.”

When files are broken up this way it is referred to as a fragmented file. This means that the computer must find the first part of the file and then find the second part of the file to open that one word document. This can make your computer run slower. However, Windows has created a utility that is meant to rearrange files so that they are no longer fragmented but sit right next to each other.

You can run the disk defragmenter by selecting “all programs” under the start button. Next, select “accessories” and “system tools” and you will see “disk defragmenter.” In fact, this is also an alternative way to select the disk cleanup mentioned earlier. Before starting the defragmenter you can analyze your hard drive to see if Windows recommends performing the defragmenter. It will either say that you should or should not defragment at this time.

If you need to defragment your computer, simply hit the defragment button. It may take your computer a while to finish this task depending on the speed of your computer and the amount of defragmented files. It could take from about 15-30 minutes or more. However, you can still use the computer while the disk defragmenter is working.


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How to Find Information Online

With so many different ways today to find information online, it can sometimes be hard to know where to go to first. I want to look at the major and most effective ways to find information online.
The biggest and most commonly used method is to use a search engine such as Google or Bing. All  of these search engines offer similar features. Text search, Image search, Local search, Product search, are a few of the services they offer. It used to be only a few years ago where Google dominated the Search Engine market. Due largely to the fact that their search technology was the most advanced. Because of the huge investment other companies have put into their search technology, it’s getting harder and harder every day to say which one is really the best. With this in mind I think it comes down more now to which company do you prefer or which layout you like the most.

Another method used to find information is through what is called a Web Directory. Web directories will usually either be relative or general:

Relative – A relative web directory will contain information and links to websites that are all to do with one topic. An example would be a Weight Loss directory that contains only information and links to sites that have something to do with Weight Loss.

General – A general web directory is a site that will contain links and information to do with all types of categories. It will usually be arranged topically to allow ease of use in finding exactly what you want. The biggest and one of the most used directories is dmoz.org, which contains links and information to thousands of different sites, all arranged into categories.

I would recommend checking out a few of these sites, and really trying them out for yourself to see which one will be suit your needs. I’ve found that each site can be used most effectively in different situations. Happy information finding!