Thursday, 29 March 2012

Installing Windows 8 using VirtualBox by Oracle

Unless you've been living under a rock you'll have heard the buzz regarding Windows 8, the new operating system coming out from Microsoft that attempts to ditch the usual start menu/desktop and use the Metro interface as seen on Windows Mobile and the Zune.

They've recently released the consumer preview so that you can give it a go and see what you think of the new operating system, however for obvious reasons you might not be willing to upgrade your entire computer to the new OS, so how to try this out?

A simple solution that I've been using is to use Oracle Virtual Box, this sets up a 'Virtual Computer' this keeps the new OS completely separate from your environment and is easy to remove too, and with just a few tweaks is relatively easy to set-up:

1. First of all you'll need to download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview - head over to and download the iso file for the version of Windows you have on your machine (either 64 or 32bit, you can check this my right clicking Computer and choosing properties).

2. Next up head over to the Virtual Box web site and download and install the latest version.

3. Open up VirtualBox, and choose New > Next to open the Create New Virtual Machine wizard.
You’ll be prompted to give the Virtual Machine a name, Windows 8 or Win 8 Consumer Preview would be two of the obvious choices! And from the drop down boxes choose Microsoft Windows as the Operating System and Windows 8 or Windows 8 64 Bit depending on which you are installing.

4. Click Next, and using the slider choose how much RAM you would like to allocate, a recommended guide would be 1024mb for the 32 bit version of 2048 for the 64 bit version.

5. The next three screens have default options that are perfectly acceptable, so choose next through these (these are for the Hard Disk, Default VDI format and Dynamically Allocated).

6. Next you choose the hard drive space you’d like to allocate, at least 16Gb for the 32 bit version of 20Gb for the 64 bit version.

7. Now Click Create – Your Virtual Machine is now installed, but we’re not finished just yet – it’s time to set-up Windows!

8. After selecting your VM, go to Settings and Storage, click the disk icon and select ‘Choose a Virtual CD/DVD disk file’ and point to the ISO File that you downloaded earlier (with the Windows 8 installation).

9. Next up choose System in the list on the left, and click the Processor Tab, ensure that Enable PAE/NX’ is ticked and Click OK.

10. That’s it! Just click Start and this will load up your Virtual Machine, the first time you start this you will go through the Windows 8 set-up, so just follow the dialogues as they appear on screen, but  you can now have a play with Windows 8 to your hearts content and it’s all separate from your main computers environment. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Free Anti Virus

So you've just set-up your new PC, you've got your software installed, but are you sure you've not forgotten anything?, have you installed any Anti-Virus? Or worse still, has your anti-virus trial run out, still installed and no longer protecting you machine unless you pay the obligatory fee?

Just remember a good anti-virus is essential for protecting anyone that uses your PC, but also crucially important for protecting anyone you may (or have) communicated with. Viruses that spam all of your Hotmail contacts and Facebook friends are on the rise,so ensuring that your machine is adequately protected has never been more important.

But of course in the current financial situation, we're all trying to cut costs, but that needn't mean cutting corners, there are a variety of free anti-virus solutions out there that can be just as effective as their paid-for counterparts.

Microsoft Security Essentials

Well Microsoft tried to unleash a paid for product in the past with Windows Live Onecare, sadly this was never very successful for them, however their free product launched back in 2009 is taking the world by storm, very lightweight, with excellent detection rates and you would expect the people who make your operating system would know how to be protect it.


Again a very lightweight product with high detection rates, the only drag regarding this piece of software is the nag screen that pops up each time you update the virus definitions, this screen doesn't appear in the paid for version that they offer, but again only a minor annoyance, and if you search heard enough (Google is your friend!) there is a registry edit you can make to stop this nag screen from appearing.


Excellent very popular free antivirus, as with Avira and AVG (below) a paid for version is also available that claims to include much more advanced features. On the whole however Avast has high detection rates, and it's always a talking point when you hear the loud american voice announcing that 'Virus Database has been updated!'


AVG is one of the original Kings of the free antivirus, however in recent years they have been dogged by claims that the detection rates are not as good as the competition and that the software can be rather bloated. They are however still well worth considering.

These are just 4 reputable free anti viruses available on the market, more are available, but all go to show you don't have to pay for reliable anti-virus protection.

Do remember that if installing an Anti-Virus package you should first of all remove the old software, usually this is accessible from Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel (renamed Programs and Features in later versions of Windows)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Outlook blocked access to the following potentially unsafe attachments

You may receive the following message when using Microsoft Outlook 'Outlook blocked access to the following potentially unsafe attachments'

You'll generally receive this message if somebody has e-mailed you a file type that it deems to be dangerous (such as a registry, or Javascript file) whilst thic can be useful to stop you opening any malicious content you may actually want to be able to receive these kind of files, so how to remove this restriction?

First of we're going to be making some changes in the registry, so please make sure you back-up the registry first just in case:

1. Close Microsoft Outlook and Open the Registry Editor (regedit from the run dialogue)

2. Navigate to 


(Replace version number above with one of the following version numbers and you'll find key in no time)

Outlook 2010 - 14.0
Outlook 2007 - 12.0
Outlook 2003 - 11.0
Outlook 2002 - 10.0
Outlook 2000 - 9.0

3. Does the key exist? If so go to Step 5, if not go to Step 4

4. If the Key does not exist navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\VERSIONNUMBER, choose EDIT > NEW and create the Outlook Key, and from under Outlook choose EDIT > NEW and create the security key

5. Click Edit > New > String Value and name the new value Level1Remove

6. Right Click the new string value you have created and click Modify

7. Type the file extension you wish to have unblocked in Outlook such .reg for instance, if you wish to unblock multiple file types then separate the file types using the ; sign, for instance this would look as follows: .reg;.exe

8. Click OK

9. Exit Registry Editor

10. Restart Outlook

11. Your file type should now be unblocked in Outlook.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Change Windows 7 Logon Screen

In Windows 7 you can change the background of the log-on screen, a nice bit of personalisation that you have to do manually (but is really easy to do)

Just follow the steps below (but always take a copy of your registry first, just in case!)

1. Open up the registry editor
2. Browse to
, double click on key named OEMBackground and change the value to 1

This has now enabled the functionality, typically designed for OEM's to put their mark on the operating system.

3. Browse to the folder %windir%system32\oobe\Info\Backgrounds %windir% refers to your Windows install directory which is typcially C:\Windows

(If the folder does not exist, go ahead and create this)

4. Place a JPG file in the folder that you wish to use as your background, the file will need to be less that 256kb and will be stretched to your screen resolution, so best to use a picture in the correct ratio that matches your screen resolution.

5. Rename the file you wish to use to backgroundDefault.jpg

That's it :-) the screen should now appear whenever you are on the log on screen (why not lock your machine now to see the results!).