Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Help, I get a black screen when launching Still Life 2 / Another Application/Game

Just a quick tip, regarding an issue I came across myself recently when trying to launch Still Life 2, every-time I launched the application the screen went black and the monitor turned itself off.

My initial thought was the video driver, however the solution turned out to be one that people overlook all the time, update your Monitor driver!

A lot of the time when setting your monitor up with  your computer it will automatically be recognised as a Plug and Play monitor or Generic Plug and Play monitor, which may be fine, however if using this generic driver the system is not always aware of what resolutions your monitor can and can't handle, in the case of Still Life 2 it was attempting to launch in a resolution that my monitor couldn't cope with so my monitor just turned itself off. A quick trip to www.iiyama.com to download the latest drivers, and hey presto the game launches without issue!

Change Windows 7 Product Key

Have you been a victim of software piracy or knowingly installed a Pirate version of Windows 7 and seen the light?

If so it is relatively easy to update Windows 7 with your legitimate product key by following the steps below:

1. Click the Start Button
2. Right Click Computer and choose Properties
3. In the Windows Activation Section you'll see the current status of your machine and the Product ID Number
4. Click Change Product Key
5. The Windows Activation window will appear - follow the steps to enter your new product key
6. If the key is legitimate and you have an active internet connection - this will now activate your copy of Windows

Quick Reference - How do I find my IP Address

Follow the steps below to find your IP Address:

1. Open up a command prompt

Your IP Address will be displayed

Quick Reference - Release and Renew your IP Address

You can quickly and easily release and renew your IP Address in your Windows environment by following the steps below:

1. Open up an elevated command prompt

Your computer will then obtain a new IP Address

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Quick Reference - How to open up Computer Management in Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8

1. Click Start
2. In the search box type compmgmt.msc
3. Press Enter

Computer Management wil now appear, alternatively you can right click My Computer and choose Manage

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Connecting to Ubuntu via RDP

Recently I've been having a play with Linux, namely Ubuntu. I've found it really easy to use, there's loads of free software available, and the set-up is really simple - I would advise anyone to give it a go (I will provide a how-to guide on this in the near future).

One thing that I found that didn't work out of the box was connecting via RDP connection from my Windows 7 machine. This however is really simple to set-up:

1. Press CTRL ALT & T to bring up Terminal
2. Type sudo apt-get install xrdp and press Enter
3. You will prompted to enter your password
4. Let the terminal session do it's thing

And that's it! You can now connect via RDP from any Windows machine!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Free Software Roundup

You don't have to spend a fortune on software for your PC/Laptop, in fact there's a massive selection of software available out there for free, some even offer really good alternatives to the popular paid-for software.

Here's a round up of some of the best picks out there:


LibreOffice Writer - the equivalent of Microsoft Word
First up we have LibreOffice, an excellent free alternative to Microsoft Office, it can open all of the usual Microsoft Office Formats and includes an equivalent to each of the Microsoft Software programs, LibreOffice Writer instead of Microsoft Word, & LibreOffice Calc instead of Microsoft Excel for instance.

All are laid out very similar to the their Microsoft  Counterparts, so it's not going to be a huge learning curve if you're used to the Microsoft equivalent.

LibreOffice is available from http://www.libreoffice.org

Avira Free Antivirus

Forget the myth that you have to pay to get a decent anti-virus, there are some excellent free security packages out there, that do just as good a job as the paid-for software, you only have to look at the independent reports published on AV-Comparitives to see that some even outperform the paid-for versions.

One of the best I've found is Avira Free Antivirus, doesn't hog system resources and like any good anti-virus you only have to know its there if you need it! The free version use to have a slightly annoying nag screen when you initially logged onto your machine, they do however appear to have removed this in your latest version.

According to AV-Comparitives they have a very high detection rate, and indeed I've been running this on my home machine for years and never had any issues. Avira do have some paid-for versions on their site, but unless you feel you may need the extra functionality, you should find that the free verson does everything you need it to.

Avira is available from http://www.avira.com


Everyone's familiar with Paint that's been bundled with Windows for what seems like forever, and people are also familiar with software like Photoshop,  but Paint.NET seems to be an excellent mish-mash of the two, , it's an excellent photo/graphic editor, and let's you play around with layers, transparency and best of all it's completely free!

Originally designed as a student project as a simple replacement for Microsoft Paint, it now does significantly more, and that the original developer now works for Microsoft, so you can only assume they were impressed with his work!

Paint.NET is available from http://www.getpaint.net


Dropbox if you are not familiar with it is a cloud storage service, that I so wish had been around when I was at university! If you're not familiar with the concept it's basically like having a hard drive or usb stick that you can access anywhere you have internet access, whether it's on a laptop, on your smartphone, computer in the office etc etc you get the idea! If you install their software, it basically appears on your computer as another drive - so you can copy and paste what you need. Obviously if you install this on other computers the drive is there for you too!

So the days I was at university and realised I'd forgotten by USB Drive and had to go all the way home to pick it up, If I'd only had Dropbox!

Dropbox also have Apps available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and Mac. You can also find add-ons to synchronise with Google Docs etc too, so loads and loads of options out there!

It's also really useful if you want to share a file with a friend, you can pass on a special Dropbox link where they can download but not edit your file.

Dropbox is available from here 


A fantastic little program, that I couldn't live without nowadays - as you've probably guessed is designed as a replacement for Notepad, I use it myself both as a Notepad (duh!) and also for editing code/viewing logs, either way this adds a heap of features that you will wonder how you lived without them!

Simple things like tabbed pages make navigating between opened files easily, where it comes in to it's own though is the search facility, say you are analysing logs and want to look for certain keywords and how often they appear - you can highlight them all and in proper context to what's around it, making it a very powerful little program.

Notepad++ can be downloaded from http://notepad-plus-plus.org/

Tweet Deck

Lots of us stay in touch with the world now using Facebook, Twitter, and a multitude of other social networks, but lots of us don't want to waste time checking each one for updates, and then spending more time sending the same update one by one into each network - This is where Tweet Deck comes in.

Tweet Deck allows to you to view what's going on in each of your social networks, and send the same update (if you so choose) to all of your social networks in one go!

You can also schedule Tweets, customise whats Tweets/Facebook updates etc you do and don't see and loads more.

Tweet Deck is available on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, it's even got it's own App in Google Chrome, so it really is available everywhere!

Tweet Deck can be downloaded from www.tweetdeck.com


The Windows built-in defragmentation utility does do it's job, but let's be honest it doesn't do it's job particularly well, it does a long time, seems to constantly re-start and you can't really customise it for what you want it to do.

Defraggler is an excellent free defragmentation utility, it works quickly and just does a wonderful job sorting out your hard drive, it even has a quick defragment option for when you don't have much time.

Defragging the hard drive is something we should all be doing on a regular basis to keep things working as efficiently as possible, but not many of us seem to do it anymore.

Defraggler can be downloaded from http://www.piriform.com/defraggler


Audacity is an excellent free audio editing software, useful for trimming down those files and particularly useful if you want to trim down tracks in your MP3 collection to use as ringtones!

It's extremely easy to use, allows you to record live audio, take your favourite sound files and mix them together to make some beautiful (or less beautiful) music! You can even change the speed and pitch of your recordings.

It includes built-in effects to add Echo etc to your sound files.

Audacity can be downloaded from http://audacity.sourceforge.net

So who says there's no such thing as a free lunch :-)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Windows Updates

Quick tip - Microsoft have released 23 updates this week on Microsoft/Windows Update.

You might want to get them out of the way now so your not stuck with the dreaded installing 1 of 23 when you come to shut down at the end of your work day!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Disabling IPv6 on Windows 7

If you're running Windows 7, chances are you've had IPv6 turned on by default, for a multitude of reasons (incompatibility with certain products, security concerns etc) you might want to turn it off, and it's really easy to do so:

1. Open the Control Panel
2. Click Network and Sharing Center
3. Click the connection that you want to edit - this will then display the status of that connection
4. Click Properties - This will then show the properties of that connection

5. Simply untick the  box next to Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)
6. Press OK

And that's all there is too it! IPv6 is now turned off for this connection.