Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Another Way To Install A Program On A Netbook

A Thumb Drive Can Be Used In Place Of An External Optical Drive

Light-weight and small size make netbooks very portable. But, to achieve their compact size, certain items are missing from netbooks — most notably perhaps, internal CD/DVD drives.

This “disc deficit” is usually overcome by the purchase of an external (USB cable-connected) optical drive.

Today I want to point out that should you not happen to have an external drive available, frequently you can substitute, and use a “thumb drive” (“memory stick”) instead.. such as using the following method to watch DVD movies — see, Tech Tip for Travelers – Make Your Movies More Portable!

Tip of the day: Use a thumb drive to install programs on to a netbook.
To install a program (you have a CD for) onto a netbook using a thumb drive, you will need two things; one, access to a computer that has a CD/DVD drive and; two, a thumb drive large enough to hold the contents of the Install disc. [note: CD’s are roughly 700 MB’s (.7 GB’s) and DVD’s are typically 4.7 GB’s]

1) Go to the PC with the optical drive and insert the thumb drive. Then insert the Install disc into the drive tray.
Cancel (stop) any setup/install process from starting, should it try to “autostart”.

2) If the AutoPlay window opens, select “Open folder to view files” (which should be the bottom choice).
If you have disabled AutoPlay: Click Start > Double-click Computer (My Computer in XP/older) > right-click on the optical drive (CD-ROM) and choose Explore.

3) Drag the entire contents (all the files) of the CD/DVD to the icon for “removable drive” that is the thumb drive. Take mental note of what the installer executable’s name is – typically, it is setup.exe.

4) Use “Safely remove” and remove the thumb drive, and then insert it into your netbook. If the AutoPlay window opens, select “Open folder to view files” (which should be the bottom choice), if you have disabled AutoPlay: Click Start > Double-click Computer (My Computer in XP/older) > right-click on the removable drive (your thumb drive) and choose Explore. Find and then double-click the setup.exe.

That will “launch” the set up process and install the program on to your netbook, just as if it had been run from a disc.

Bonus tip: When you’re all done, you can drag all those setup files to the Recycle bin.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 22, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, Portable Computing, tech, thumb drives, upgrading, USB storage devices | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Quick Reader Question Answered

Q: I have some new videos that I cannot get to play. My computer says it cannot open TS.IFO and it does the same with TS.VOB. My friend says I should convert the files, but I have never done that before. How do I convert?

movieclipartA: The “dot IFO” and “dot VOB” are file extensions associated with video DVD’s. You could install a program to convert the files into a format that Windows Media Player recognizes, such as .WMF – but that would be pretty slow. And you could try downloading codecs and try to ’empower’ Windows Media Player to play those movies – but downloading codecs can be a risky business.

So my reco’ is to install a “player” that can handle DVD movie formats, and my reco’ of players is VLC, which is free and you can find it here.

Today’s free link: Folks, when you get a message saying “Windows cannot open .xyz “, that means it doesn’t know which program to use to open that file type, or doesn’t have such a program. The first thing to do is identify what a “.xyz ” is, and the place to do that is FILExt.com.
Enter the file extension into the Search box, and FILExt will tell you what you need to get to open/run it.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 3, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, digital Video | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Quick Tip: Movies on the plane

Make Your Movies Truly Laptop Friendly

DukesOfHazzard_JessicaSimpsonIf you know you are going to be traveling, and you want to bring some entertainment with you (namely, movies), such as the best film ever made — The Dukes of Hazzard, today’s quick tip is for you.

Tip of the day: The energy required to spin the disc, and power the laser beam inside your DVD (or Blu Ray) drive is hard on your laptop’s battery, and can drain the charge rather quickly… maybe before the movie ends.

The trick is to “rip” (geekspeak for “copy”) the DVD to a file, and keep the file on your hard drive, or a thumb drive. Playing the file (watching the movie) this way is less work for your computer and your battery will last longer. Kind of a “must” for those long flights!

Today’s free download(s):
For simple, one-click “rips” of your DVD movies, bitRipper is hard to beat. It was a for-pay utility, and now is available for free.

And for those of you who want to watch your movies on an iDevice, HandBrake is a highly recommended Open Source tool to consider. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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July 10, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, performance, Portable Computing, tech, thumb drives | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My CD-ROM Is Gone. Help!

How To Get Windows To See Optical Drives Again

CDROM Q: Paul I need your help. Yesterday I put a CD in my computer nothing happened. It has been working fine, and usually it will just start playing the first song. I put in a different disk and again nothing. I opened My computer and there was no icon for the DVD. Just icons for the Floppy A:, Local disk and no CD player. It just vanished! I rebooted and that didn’t help. What happened? How do I get my CD player back?

A: The exact steps required will depend on the cause of the issue, so the following answers are ‘generic’, and may not apply to your particular situation.

1) In Windows XP and older have a reputation for “losing” optical drives (but I have seen it occur in Vista) after uninstalling disc burning software — such as Roxio or Nero. Sometimes.. after installing; but usually it is an uninstall failing to work properly, which leaves incorrect values in your Registry.
Sometimes, though less frequently, a Windows Update, or other software change can cause this as well.

Sometimes Microsoft gets it right:
If this is you — you have uninstalled Roxio, say — the solution is to visit Microsoft Help & Support and click the “Fix It” button. (I have written about using the built in troubleshooter before, see Microsoft “One-click” Fixes)

The appropriate Fix it page/button is found here. One click should do it!

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2) If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can next try restoring your system to a prior (working) state by using System Restore. Please read How To Use System Restore To Fix Windows for instructions.

3) If that doesn’t help, or isn’t appropriate..
Open your computer’s case and check to make sure the power wires, and the ribbon cable are firmly connected to the back of the drive and to the motherboard — they may have become loose or disconnected.

No? Then open your Device Manager. Right-click on “My Computer” and select “Properties”. In Vista, click on Device Manager in the left column; in XP, click on the “Hardware” tab, and then click the “Device Manager” button.

In Device Manager, find “Optical drives” on the list, and expand the category by clicking once on the “+” sign. You should now see the device and a yellow triangle – which is telling you there’s an error.

Right click on the device’s name, and click “Uninstall” from the menu which opens. Answer “Yes”, you want to do that. Then restart (aka “reboot”) your machine. Windows should “find” a “new” CD-ROM and install it for you, thus restoring functionality.

4) If these steps fail, there is something else going on (maybe malware) and I recommend you contact a knowledgeable repair tech.. such as myself (shameless plug).

Today’s free link: KidsEmail.org. Along with ZooBah, something to consider when your child wants their own e-mail address.

Today’s free download: GOM Player is a free multimedia player with popular video and audio codecs built-in. GOM Player supports file formats such as AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, XviD, WMV, ASF. Users don’t have to install codecs separately. GOM Player is capable of playing incomplete or damaged AVI files by skipping the damaged frames. It can also play locked or partially downloaded files.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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May 4, 2009 Posted by | computers, device drivers, hardware, how to, tech, troubleshooting, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How To Solve Buffer Errors When Burning Discs

If you are having problems burning files to optical discs (CD’s and DVD’s) you may see an Error Message that says something like “Buffer overrun. Try writing at a slower speed”.
(And you might not.. you might just get jittery video or garbled music.)

Optical disc are “burned” with a laser, and due to highly complicated scientific something-or-others (probably something having to do with “Physics”) the burning device in your machine needs to have the ‘data’ fed to it at a constant rate.
This is accomplished by “compiling” the files into a memory area called a “buffer”.. which then ‘feeds’ the CD/DVD writer in a steady stream.

Problems can occur when the software creating the burn puts too much data into the buffer (an “overrun”) too quickly, or not enough data in quickly enough (an “underrun”).

Tip of the day: Cure your bad burns by telling your burning device to write at at a slower burn rate. (It will {should} tell the software.)

In Windows XP:
1) Open “My Computer” (Start >My Computer, or double-click the Desktop icon.)
2) Right-click on the CD/DVD drive icon and select (click) “Properties”.
3) At the top are a series of tabs, click on “Recording”
4) Use the the drop-down arrow labeled “Select a write speed” to progressively slow down your burn until the problem disappears.

In Vista:
In Vista you need to open Windows Media Player to set the burn rate. Start >Programs

1) Click on the little arrow underneath the “Burn” menu, and select “More Options…”
2) On the Burn tab you will see the Burn speed drop-down arrow– progressively slow down your burn until the problem disappears.

[Note: If you are using an authoring program, such as Nero or Roxio, you will find similar options in similar places (menus).]

Today’s free download: When you need to copy discs, or deal with “disc images”, you no longer talking about “burn files to disc”, and you’ve entered into the realm of the “dot iso” (file type= .iso) and you need a program that offers the “Copy” option. I use a light-weight program that integrates into your Context Menus.
ISO Recorder is a tool (power toy) for Windows XP, 2003 and now Windows Vista, that allows (depending on the Windows version) to burn CD and DVD images (DVD support is only available on Windows Vista), copy disks, make images of the existing data CDs and DVDs and create ISO images from a content of a disk folder.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 2, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, performance, software, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Get new life out of your old DVD’s

Many of us put off buying a Hi-Def disc player until the “format war” was settled, and many of us still haven’t shelled out the big  bucks for the winner, Blu-ray, yet. Instead, we keep on watching our collection of movies using our “standard”, old, DVD players.

This works fine until you bring a HDTV into the the scenario.. and then our old movies look sorta, well, old. (Certainly they don’t look Hi-Def!

The truth is simply this, to show you an actual HD image, your HDTV’s “input” (used to be called a “signal”) has to be HD– such as what you can get on (some) over-the-air channels, (some) satellite, and (HD) cable.. and Blu-ray discs.
What is missing from that list is all the DVD’s you’ve purchased so far— they’re “standard definition” (SD). Bummer.

So.. do you have to go out and purchase a whole new movie library, and a HD (Blu-ray) player to enjoy the “Hi-Def experience” you purchased the HDTV for? {Many of us would find this prohibitive.. Blu-ray players are around $400.} Fortunately, the answer is no.

Tip of the day: Enjoy near HD quality images from your (old) DVD’s buy purchasing a player that is capable of “scaling” SD signals up to 1080p (HD). [note: you want this ability even if your HDTV is less than 1080p] This “scaling” is sometimes called “upscaling”, “upsampling”, and sometimes “upconversion“. More info than you’d want to know about this can be read here. These types of players can be found for around $100.

I won’t bore you with the technical specs (you can click the provided links for that) but  I will say that upscaling uses a sort of intelligent “magic” to fill in the pixels required for the HD image.

Your HDTV has some scaling ability built into it, and this will help provide a fair picture from a SD source. It is possible that it does a good enough job with your DVD’s. But to get better results than you already are getting, a player with this capability is the way to go. Your SD DVD’s will appear much more “Hi-Def”, and you’ll enjoy watching them (again and again, if you’re like me) for years to come.

Today’s free link: (Yes, loyal Friends, I have posted this one before..) With the ability to scan your RAM, Registry, hard drives, and external storage devices for known data-mining, advertising, and tracking components, Ad-Aware 2008 can clean your system easily, allowing you to maintain a higher degree of privacy while you surf the Web

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 7, 2008 Posted by | advice, HDTV, how to, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment