Friday, 27 June 2008

The Sixth Carnival of Computer Help and Advice

Welcome to the sixth monthly Carnival of Computer Help and Advice. As ever many blog authors contributed their posts and, as always, limitation of space means that some did not make it into the carnival. Many thanks to all those who contributed.

Some troublemakers try to fool the novice with bad advice and rogue software. So first up this month we have a post by nicky at Tips, Trick and Practice on how to identify Rogue Software and Security. In the same vein, Paul Wilcox gives us advice on Spotting A Hoax Virus Warning at Security Manor.

As well as protecting the computer, we should also protect ourselves from the stresses and strains associated with working at computers for any length of time. One man who can help us is regular carnival contributor Jose DeJesus MD at Physician Entrepreneur. See his Computer Vision Syndrome and How to Avoid it post for indispensable guidance.

The nightmare of a broken laptop is not so much having to replace it as losing all one's files. How to recover data from laptop by Gaufire Speaks™ writer Gaurav Sharma describes one way of recovering the files from a laptop hard-drive to a desktop PC.

Free is the best price of all, as such we always welcome links to quality free software on the CoCH&A. So thanks to Terry Dean for a list of 21 Free Software Resources posted at his Integrity Business Blog. Of course, free software may have a few bugs in it, even if it is produced by leading software houses. One such problem is identified and solved by Jules at who tells us what to do about Hyperlinks Not Working in Outlook Express. Speaking of which, WM Media at Buy And Sell Websites reviews different ways of producing web-pages in the post How to Build a Website If You Don't Know HTML.

Lastly this month, we have our regular dose of posts from Andrew Edgington. From his Edit Your Digital Photos blog we have Andrew's round-up of Digital Image Photo Software and a tutorial on Touching Up Your Digital Photos.

If you would like to host the next carnival leave a comment on this post or use the contact form over at our Blog Carnival page where you can also submit your blog posts for inclusion.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Keyboard shortcut of the week: a few for Firefox

Here are a few keyboard shortcuts for Firefox to mark the release of version 3 of that browser (which I express my initial opinions about at the bottom of this post). These should all work in Windows and Linux, for Apple Macs simply substitute the Ctrl key with the Cmd key.

Full screen mode
To hide the menus, toolbars and status bar press the F11 key, press it again to go back to windowed mode.

Text Size
To increase the size of text on a page, either hold down the Ctrl and press the + key or, if you have a wheel mouse, hold down Ctrl and roll the wheel upwards. Unsurprisingly, to decrease the size of text on a page, either hold down the Ctrl and press the - key or, if you have a wheel mouse, hold down Ctrl and roll the wheel downwards. To restore the text size to normal hold down Ctrl and press 0 (zero).

Select the search box
To move the cursor to the search box, either the built in one or the first one on a toolbar, hold down Ctrl and press K (I am not sure of the significance of K here - so probably not that easy to remember)

I have already published posts that detailed other keyboard shortcuts for Firefox:

Quickly open link in a new tab - without losing focus on current tab
Opening the Find box - near the bottom of this general post
A previous selection of shortcuts - for navigating between tabs, opening new tabs, closing tabs, opening bookmarks and selecting the address bar.
How to refresh the page

My initial feelings about version 3

I have been using Firefox v3 for a few days now and don't have much to report. It has crashed twice in that time, but the 'Restore last session' feature means that this is not such a disaster. It does not seem particularly quicker and I have yet to find any new features that have excited me. On the downside it still seems to 'Not respond' a little too often and memory management is still far from perfect.

For Entrecard users there is a problem with the way that it handles cookies. If you switch between Entrecard accounts you will keep being told to login again. I have posted a workaround solution on the Entrecard forums here - rest assured the boffins at ecard are working on it.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Firefox 3 Download Day two hours away

We are about two hours away from the start of Firefox Download Day, which is either an attempt to bring people of all (or at least most) nations together in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most downloads in a day, or a shameless promotion of the latest version of Mozilla's web browser. Either way I will be trying to download Firefox 3 over the next twenty-four hours, assuming that their servers don't fail and that the Internet can endure the strain.

So far 1,700,069 people have pledged to download. You can click here to join them, although the web site is already showing signs of pressure.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Command Window Here: Free MS PowerToy for XP

In the last post I have instructions for using the Command Prompt to navigate to a particular folder; however, there is an easier way to do this in Windows XP by installing a PowerToy (this feature is already available in Vista).

To install this feature, look for 'Open Command Window Here' the list of PowerToys on the right hand side of the page and click on CmdHere.exe to download it (or simply click here - if this links stops working please leave a comment). After installing the software, when you right click on a folder icon, or on the empty space within a folder, you will see a new entry in the menu that opens: 'Open Command Window Here'. Click on this to open up a Command Prompt window that will already be focused on the current folder.

There are a number of other PowerToys available, including the excellent Clear Type Tuner, which was the subject of an earlier post. In future posts on this blog, I will look at some of the other tools available to enhance Windows XP.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

How to save a list of files in a folder

There are a number of programs available that will create a text file from a list of files in a folder, but here is a quick and easy way of doing the same using the Command Prompt.

Firstly, open up the Command Prompt (aka the MS-DOS Box). To do this either click on 'Run' in the 'Start' menu, or hold down the Windows key and press R (the Windows key is the one with the Windows logo on). In the box that opens type cmd, and either click the 'OK' button or press the Return key. The Command Prompt application should open, looking something like this.

Secondly, you will need to navigate to the folder which contains the files you wish to list. If it is on a different drive type the drive letter followed by colon (e.g. D:) and hit return. Then type cd (change directory) followed by the path of the folder, for example:

cd c:\documents and settings\owner\my documents

On some versions of Windows you only need to type part of the folder name and then press the Tab key and the Command Prompt will fill in the rest, e.g. type cd c:\docu and press Tab to change the command to cd c:\documents and settings.

If you do not know the full path of the folder, you can set Windows Explorer to show it in the address bar or title bar - one of my earlier posts explains how to do this (I would recommend showing the full bath in the address bar). You can copy the path from the address bar and paste it into the command prompt screen by clicking on its icon in the top left hand corner, which opens a drop down menu as shown below.

Once you have navigated to the right folder you can type the command to create a file list in that folder in the form of a text file that can be opened in notepad or your word processor.

Note: Windows Vista includes a feature where you can hold down the Shift key and right-click on the icon of the folder you wish to list the files contained within and select 'Open Command Window Here' from the menu that opens. I will be publishing a post soon which will provide instructions on how to add this feature to Windows XP.

Directory List Command

To create a list of all the files in the folder type dir /a-d /b > filelist.txt and press Return/Enter.

The command includes two switches, /a-d and /b. The first of these stops the dir command. from listing folders; the second prevents the command from showing the extra information you see if you just type dir and hit Return. If you wish the text file to have a different name change it from 'filelist' but remember to put '.txt' at the end so that Windows knows that it is a text file.

The dir command has a variety of other switches, the following command will list the names of all the mp3 files in the current folder and all the sub-folders that it contains:
dir *.mp3 /a-d /s /b > mp3filelist.txt

The *.mp3 part tells the command to only list files with that extension, and the /s sets it to list the files in sub-folders too. Note that the files in the sub-folders will be listed prefixed by the folder name, e.g. 'D:\soulseek\placebo - covers\01 Running up That Hill.mp3'.

If you have a particular requirement for a file list leave a comment on this post and I will look into it for you. Also, if anyone is interested in learning more about the various commands and programs available in the Command Prompt please leave a comment.

One last point, you can use > filename.txt to send the results of any command to a text file, which can be very useful if you have to pass information on to a technician.

Now you can impress your friends and co-workers with your 'old skool' techie skills.

Monday, 2 June 2008

How to make Windows quicker: lose the fancy look

There is a price to be paid for fancy effects and other visual features in Windows: a reduction in performance. Nevertheless, by switching off the knobs and whistles you can make Windows run that little bit faster.

To choose which visual features to disable, you need to open the 'System Properties' dialogue. To do this either right-click on 'My Computer' on your Desktop and select 'Properties' from the menu that opens, or hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key. Once you have 'System Properties' open, go to the 'Advanced' tab, and click on the 'Settings' button in the 'Performance' section.

This will open up the 'Performance Options' dialogue box. Make sure you have the first tab selected: 'Visual Effects'. On this page you will see a set of four options at the top. By default it is set to 'Let Windows choose what's best for your computer' but you can also choose to have it select settings for 'best appearance' (where all effects switched on) and 'best performance' (where all effects are switched off). The fourth option lets you decide which effects you want to have activated and which ones you do not. You can have a play around switching these off and on and clicking the 'Apply' button to see how they affect Windows. When you are happy click 'OK'