Solutions

AVG Removal Tool

Sometimes recently when I have removed AVG Free to replace it with MS Security Essentials (less overhead and not free for just personal use) I have run into problems with AVG’s uninstaller failing or stopping. If this happens and you go back to uninstall but the uninstaller fails to start, you need to go to AVG’s website and download their removal tool. As of today I only see 32 and 64-bit tools for 2012-2014 editions, but I think they work on older versions as well. Download and run the tool. It may reboot more than once, but after it is done AVG should be gone including the listing in COntrol Panel/Add Remove Programs or Programs and Features.

No Icons on Gnome Desktop

With my installation of Fedora Core 19, I could not understand why I  was not able to put icons on my desktop. I am using Gnome and could not copy icons to the desktop even though icons were under my user/desktop folder. It became a bigger problem when I installed Unity of Command since you copy the game to Linux without really doing an install. I really wanted to put the alias on my desktop to launch the game.

After some research I found an article on Fedoraproject.org that addressed this issue. Apparently the Gnome team doesn’t think people need a “traditional desktop” anymore so eliminated it. But you can bring it back by installing the Gnome Tweak Tool through the command sudo yum install gnome-tweak-tool. Once installed go under utilities in your applications list and launch Gnome Tweak Tool to add a trash can and computer icon to the desktop as well as any icons under your user/desktop folder.

Unity of Command on Linux

I figured I would write this follow-up post after talking about Linux. Follow the instructions from 2 x 2 Games to install on Linux (basically unzip and copy over to a folder). However, one mistake they made was having you copy the DLCs into the Unity of Command folder. DLCs actually need to go into the DLC folder under the Unity of Command folder to be recognized by the game. When the DLCs are installed correctly and you start the game, you will be asked for your key code.

I also had trouble getting the sound to work. Read the readme file for help. I am using a Dell Optiplex 780’s built-in sound. The sound works fine with other games so I know the sound is not the problem. The music isn’t that exciting in the game and is repetitive so no great loss. The game still plays great.

 

 

Box.com

I recently discovered this cloud-based storage site. I had played around with Skydrive before this and thought about Google Drive, but I am pretty happy with Box. What I like about it is the diversity of client support (Windows, Mac, IOS, Android) and the apps available to use with it (I’ve only tried Box for Office which allows you to open from and save to Box from inside of Office apps, but it sure slows down the apps).

Of course Box includes a sync program (Box Sync) that creates a My Box Files folder that syncs files and folders inside of it across multiple computers and devices. I love being able to open and save files from my desktop, laptop, or phone as needed. Box Sync also allows you to open your Box website with a click and move your “My Box Files” location easily. This is a vast improvement over Skydrive which makes you unlink your computer then link it again to move the Skydrive folder. I don’t have any experience with other services to compare their implementation of this.

Box has a free 5 GB account for personal use and paid personal storage up to 50 GB. For more they offer business accounts with up to 1 TB of storage and from 3 – 500 users at $15 per month per user. Enterprise customers have unlimited users and storage (and probably pay a lot more for it).

Anyway, check out Box at Box.com as another cloud storage alternative and see what you think.

Donating Computers but Don’t Have the Original Discs

I have been donating some computers again trying to clean out some old systems that are no longer good enough for the office. Some of these were given to me because the hard drive failed and the owner just bought a new computer or I no longer have the discs that came with the computer. I don’t like to donate something that won’t work because anyone who buys it may not have the skill to get it up and running. So I turn to Linux, in particular Fedora Core.

I have been using Fedora since Red hat spun it off. It works well and is easy to install. I found the easiest method to use, especially on older computers, is the Network Install CD ISO. I was using a DVD burned from an ISO, but some older computers’ DVD drives wouldn’t recognize the disc. The Network Install is smaller so it fits on a CD which pretty much any computer can read. It downloads packages from the Internet during the install. I just do a basic desktop install and make the passwords “password”. I tape this information to the computer so when someone looks at it they know it has Linux and know the login information.

You can find different download formats at the Fedora website.

Difficulty with Server Remote Access

Recently I have had a couple of situations where a server had been setup with remote access, but something changed and the remote access wasn’t working any longer or I couldn’t get it to work again. The first case involved changing out a DSL router at an office. Up until then the remote access worked fine. We configured the new router for remote access. but couldn’t get it working. The second case involved setting up remote access at a new office; the server had previously been setup in a different location. The same thing happened; remote access should have worked after setting changes on the router, but didn’t.

In both cases the problem was with how Windows handles new networks. By default on these servers, Windows saw the new router as a new network and the server move to another office as a new network (which actually was the case). In these situations Windows treats the new network as a public network. Typically office networks will be private networks. In Windows Firewall, there are separate settings for letting applications through private or public networks.

Because I had allowed the applications through a private network but not a public network I could not make remote access work. I had to change the way Windows viewed the network back to private. This can be done in the Control Panel,  All Control Panel Items, Network and Sharing Center. Under “View Your Active Networks” you will probably see just one network, but underneath it will say “Public Network.” Click on that name (it should be in blue as a link).  That will open a new window “Set a Network Location.” Click either Home network or Work network then click close. Now any Firewall rules that apply to private networks will work again. This solved both of my problems.

Change Windows Product Key through Command Line

I just started playing around with Windows 8 (and am not too happy with it, but I’ll save that for another time). I ran into a problem with activation after a fresh install on my netbook. The install never asked me for the product key so activation failed. I knew there was a way to change the product key, but quickly became fed-up trying to find things in Windows 8. After a quick Internet search I found a method for Windows 7 (that happens to work in Windows 8 as well, thanks Darin Smith):

  1. Open a command prompt in Administrator mode.
  2.  Type: slmgr.vbs -ipk <product key>
  3. Try to activate Windows again through the GUI or type: slmgr.vbs -ato

After I put in a valid product key, Windows activated successfully.

Downgrade to AVG Free Edition

I have noticed in the last few months AVG sending a pop up wanting someone to upgrade the Free Edition from 2011 to 2012 or to install a Summer Update. If you are not careful, you will miss during the install that installing a trial version of AVG’s Internet Suite is selected by default. Only later when the trial runs out will you receive a message saying you need to pay to continue to receive AVG updates because your trial period has ended.

When I first received this I was annoyed and was going to uninstall AVG and install something else like Microsoft Security Essentials. However, I found when you go to remove AVG you have the option to downgrade the trial version to AVG Free Edition. Doing this puts you back on the Free Edition and lets you receive updates again.

Windows 98 Gaming on Virtual PC VM

I was reading July 2012 issue of Maximum PC and they had some articles on free VM software and some interesting projects with VM software. One of the projects was Windows 98 gaming on a VM created in Virtual PC 2007 SP1. I have tried gaming on VMware Fusion / Workstation Windows 98 VMs with horrible results because the default graphics emulation is not good enough for gaming. Vmware did add the ability to play games on XP VMs and I have had great success with this. However, I was intrigued by another shot at Win98 gaming in a VM even if it was on Virtual PC, which I never thought was that good for VM software.The difference with Windows 98 on Virtual PC is that you can install VM Additions, which improves graphics and mouse performance.

First download Virtual PC 2007 SP1 from Microsoft’s web site.  It’s a little over 30 MB in size. I downloaded the 32-bit version and ran the installer. Then you need to install Windows 98. This may be the toughest part of this process because it requires a floppy to boot from before you can install from a Windows 98 CD (yes we are old school here for sure). First create the VM and virtual hard disk in Virtual PC. Then start the VM and install Windows. I tried using a Windows 98 boot disk image I have used before with VMware products, but Virtual PC didn’t like it. So I had to break out the USB floppy drive and an actual floppy boot disk. After partitioning and formatting the virtual disk, I installed Windows 98. Then I ran the VM Additions which mounts an ISO CD image and runs a quick install. After you should see VM Additions in Add / Remove Programs in Control Panel.

For a game I tried installing and playing Dark Reign, an old Windows 98 RTS. It installed fine, but the mouse never quite worked right. When I tried to click a button in the menu bar, the mouse pointer jumped to the right side of the screen. Dark Reign works fine in XP so I didn’t pursue it in the VM. I haven’t tried any other games yet so I can’t say for sure this is a good solution, although Maximum PC said they ran a couple of games successfully. I may revisit this in the future with some other games and see what happens. But since the software is free, if you have a copy of Windows 98 laying around and an old game to play, this may be worth the effort.

Add an mp3 as a ringtone on a Samsung Galaxy Note

So one of the first things I noticed with the Galaxy Note was a lack of ringtones. A quick Internet search yielded a site with instructions on adding an mp3 as a ringtone on a Galaxy S. The instructions worked perfectly for the Galaxy Note.

From Richard S. (http://www.androidpit.com/en/android/forum/thread/427141/How-do-I-set-my-mp3-as-a-ringtone-on-the-Samsung-Galaxy-S):

1. Open any file manager app

2. Look for a folder called Media in the phone’s main directory.
(Most likely it doesn’t exist, so create it by right clicking and choosing New Folder, then rename the folder to be media)

3. Inside the media folder, you need a folder called Audio. Again, if it’s not there create it as above

4. Inside the Audio folder, create subfolders for the sound categories you want to change:
– Ringtones for sound files you want to use for incoming calls
– Alarms for sound files you want to use for alarms
– Notifications for all other alerts such as incoming SMS, emails or alerts from individual apps, etc

(lower/upper case is irrelevant – the folders can be “Media”, “MEDIA”, “media”, etc)

Copy the MP3 file you want to use to the relevant folder

You should now see your MP3 file listed in the menu for selection in the relevant sound settings menu (to access the ringtone/notification settings, press the hard Menu key from one of your home screens, then press Settings then Sounds and Display, or go to settings from within a relevant app)

Alternatively, most audio player apps allow you to set music files as ringtones when playing them, either with a hard press or from the Menu key. Note, the default Android music player does not have this function, which I consider to be a little odd. 

I’m glad someone figured this out because the default ringtones stunk. I’ve never been into adding my own ringtones, but this time it was definitely necessary.