Tech – for Everyone

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

For Emergency Repairs, You Need This Disc

Should the worst happen, and your computer decides to give you some white text on a black screen (saying essentially gibberish words, like, “Stop Error 0x0000005a” or “IRQ not less than or equal to”) instead of “booting” into your Windows Desktop like normal, you’re probably going to start panicking.

Well, yes. A certain amount of panic is probably justified. You quite probably have a rather serious “glitch”. Take a breath, and take comfort in the fact that there are Pros who can help you, (shameless plug: such as myself) and if you have the right tools you might be able to repair Windows yourself.. and get a working computer again.
And by “right tools”, that typically means a “boot disc”. And – typically – that means the “Windows Install” disc.

Before you do anything else today, please do this: find the discs that came with your computer.

Do you see a “Windows″ or “System Recovery” disc? No? Not surprising. Most PC makers are using a recovery partition these days (see, About the Recovery (D:) Drive). 
The “recovery partition” option wipes your hard drive, (aka “Drive C:”) and reverts the machine to the factory-condition state –> total data loss. All your updates and installed programs — gone. Thanks, manufacturers! *]

If you have a Windows 7 PC, you’re in luck: you can make a “boot disc” which includes an automated startup (“boot up”) repair tool, some repair/diagnostic tools, and the ability to access a System Restore point and revert your system to an earlier (working) time. (see, My favorite Life Saver flavor? System Restore).

If your PC is older: I have to opine, you really should upgrade to Windows 7 for security reasons if nothing else (see: It is time to face facts and finally dump Windows XP.) and also say that there is no reason (I can see) to wait for Windows 8 (unless you are planning on getting a touchscreen/tablet..). And I can tell you that to get a “boot disc” appropriate for your machine, you should click here: How To Get Windows Re-Install Discs.

The disc you’re about to make will give you important “recovery” options, that can get your computer working again.

So if you have a partition and not a disc. Remedy that now. All you need is a blank CD or DVD.

Step 1) Click the Start button and type repair into the Search box. The top result is what you want to click – “Create a System Repair Disc”.


2) Your optical drive should be detected (if not, use the ‘drop-down arrow’ to select your CD/DVD drive). Click “Create disc”.


The drive tray should open, so put in your blank disc…


After a few moments, the tray should open (“eject”) and you will now have a “bootable” System Recovery disc…


.. and a powerful tool for repairing your computer in the event of serious errors. You need to make this disc BEFORE you need it.. though I hope you never will.

In case I wasn’t clear: do it now.

[note: To use this disc, and make repairs, you will need to “boot” to it. If you don’t know how to do that, see How to boot from a CD ]

Kudos to Microsoft for making this tool a part of Windows.

* Utter, snide, facetiousness. A terrible move; and whoever decided that should be ashamed. And fired. IMHO.

Today’s quote:He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”  ~Epictetus

Bonus: As a reward for reading down this far, I will explain a bit of Geekspeak you may have seen but not recognized (maybe you have) “disc” – with a “c” – is an optical disc, which you probably think of as a “CD” or “DVD”. When it’s spelled with a “k” (“disk”), they’re talking about hard drives.. usually the storage inside your machine.

Bonus bonus: Amazon has a list of hundreds of up to 50% off gifts for dad (aka “a sale”).

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

June 4, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, troubleshooting, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Get Windows Re-Install Discs

Lost your Windows discs? How to get replacement media, legally.

Recently, Ed Bott posted an excellence resource article those of you who have Microsoft Windows PC’s may want to read .. and act on.

Did your most recent Windows PC come with reinstallation media? Many do, some don’t. But contrary to what you might have read, creating replacement Windows discs is easy, and every major PC maker will supply backup discs, sometimes for free. I have details.”

This thorough write up is a 4-part How To, but you don’t necessarily have to read all 4 parts. I am posting the ‘sections’ so you can go right to the 4-1-1 for your machine’s manufacturer. This will tell you how to create, or obtain (order) the all-important “Windows disc” that you hope you will never need.. but darn well better have.

I suggest reading part 1, and then skipping to your PC maker’s section.

1) Lost your Windows discs? How to get replacement media, legally

Page 2: Dell recovery and replacement policies

Page 3: HP recovery and replacement policies

Page 4: Acer, Lenovo, and Toshiba

And if you recently got a new Windows 7 machine, or.. am wondering why I said “should darn well have“, you really should read my In Case Of Emergency: You Need This (Disc)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. So much reading! Actually, it’s not. Obtaining the knowledge contained here won’t take but a few minutes.. and it won’t hurt a bit.

Today’s quote:You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” ~ Clay P. Bedford

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

January 11, 2012 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, Windows | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated)

5 6 Methods For Getting Old Programs To Run On New Computers

This article is an updated and improved version of  Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help!, a “reader question” article that has proven quite popular. It seems quite a few people want their 12-year old, 16-bit, Gen 1 games to play on latest generation, 64-bit machines, (I don’t blame them) but it doesn’t always work. Here are some tips for solving the problem. They are in the appropriate order, IMHO. (These work in Vista as well.)

1) Turn off “hardware acceleration”. A common cause of errors and “playability issues” is the old games’ use (or lack of) of hardware “acceleration”, which is referring to the “video card”, or more accurately, the graphics driver. Most graphics drivers allow you to turn off the hardware acceleration (which may resolve your issue).
Click Start in the lower left corner of Windows.
Click Control Panel, click Appearance and Personalization, click Personalization, click Display Settings, and then click Advanced Settings.
Click the Troubleshoot tab, and then click Change Settings.Move the Hardware Acceleration slider until it is one notch to the right of None. This is the basic acceleration setting.
Click OK twice, and then close the window.
Restart the computer.

[you can also get there via the graphic adapter’s Properties in Device Manager]


[Note: Change Settings will be disabled if the graphics card drivers do not support disabling hardware acceleration. You may need to check the video card manufacturer’s website, and download the latest driver.]

2) You may need set the troublesome games to launch in “Compatibility Mode”, and tell them to run under Windows XP SP2. This article, shows you how. The “Compat Mode” section is about half way down the page.

3) You might need to try repeating Step 2, but this time install directly to your C:\ drive (by default, Windows will install programs to C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files(x86) folder) using the “Custom install” option during set up. This will eliminate some of the Permissions issues that keep older programs from running correctly.

4) You may also – if the game is old enough – need to turn off all but one CPU core. This is called “setting the affinity”. Also see, Compatibility Tricks for Old Programs, New Machines. If this resolves your issue, the article includes a download for a tool to make this setting ‘stick’.

5) For really old, DOS-based games, install DOSBox. DOSBox is a great tool, especially for old games. I would suggest reading the tutorial, here:

6) Though I view this as a bit of a ‘last resort’, you can install a “virtual machine” and run the game in there.
* If you have the Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate edition of Windows 7, you can download XP Modewhich is really Virtual PC – for free. If you have other editions of Windows, grab Virtual PC 2007 from the same place.
* Perhaps a better alternative is using VMWare Server (free), from I have read that the VMWare handles the hardware acceleration better.

In both cases, you’ll have to supply the copy of (old) Windows yourself, and install it (into the “virtual machine”) from scratch.

… I hate to say, but it is possible that you may try all these things and get unsatisfactory results. I keep an old Pentium II machine (Windows 98) around just for playing those old games (which I wouldn’t dream of connecting to the Internet!). The games play best on the hardware/OS of their day. You might need to do the same. Or.. say goodbye to your old friends.


Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<

Share this post :

January 25, 2011 Posted by | advice, Compatibility Mode, computers, device drivers, Gaming, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks, Virtual Machine, Vista, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

iTunes Album Art

I was helping a young man with his computer this morning, and he wanted to show me something he thought was “kewel” and that he was obviously proud of. So I said, “OK. Show me.itunes screenshot

It turned out that what he wanted to ‘Show & Tell’ was his iTunes, and how he had managed to acquire the “album art” for (practically) every entry in his very extensive music collection.

Now, I have to tell you that old Tech Paul is not “into” music enough these days to clutter up my hard drive with songs (and I won’t install iTunes on my PC’s for security reasons) but in my younger years I was very into my audio.. so I could understand this fella’s enthusiasm.

He explained that iTunes is only “so so” at getting album art, and he talked about his efforts he had gone through to find the art for the more esoteric titles in his collection. I told him that sounded like a lot of work..

He confirmed that it was. And then he told me about how he had paid $30 for a “lifetime” tool that did the work for him, and did an “excellent” job. He was quite enthusiastic, so I’ll pass along his reco’ — it’s called TuneUp. You can click here to visit the website and watch the Flash video demonstration, and/or download.
There is a free version, but it is limited.

TuneUp does more than just find album art, it cleans up your tags, and works to fix your “Unknown Artists”, “Track 01s”, or the same artist labeled multiple different ways.

Today’s free download: I also found AlbumArtFinder for iTunes, which I haven’t tested out.
AlbumArtFinder for iTunes – images for all the songs in an iTunes library show up on iPod Photo. Uses the web service to automatically search for the largest image for any given album. Option to use smaller versions of images.

Perhaps my more savvy readers will share some iTunes tips in my Comments… as this is really “not my cup of tea”.

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

Share this post :

September 24, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, iPhone, PC, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deadline today for AVG users*

People who have been using the free AVG antivirus tool will have seen by now a rather alarming (I’m kind of paraphrasing): Warning– AVG 7.5 will stop checking for new signatures effective May 31st June 25th.
That happens to be today.

Loyal Friends and True of this series will already be aware of a couple of facts (as I have said them often enough), and will reiterate them here:
* An anti-malware tool (such as an antivirus) that is not receiving the latest updates is for all intents and purposes useless. This can happen if its subscription has ‘expired’, or it is improperly configured. (To read how to make sure this isn’t you, click here.)
* I am a big fan of the free (top-rated) antivirus scanner, AVG.
* You need protection in today’s world.

So, I read the details in the pop-up to find out why my beloved AVG was going to go the way of the dodo bird and T-Rex on May 31st June 25th today. I was relieved to learn that AVG 7.5 was being phased out, and replaced with the new Version 8.0, and if I wanted, I could go ahead and upgrade to 8 now. So I did.*

The screenshot shows the web page that opens.
Now, I had to look at this twice. And each time I looked it, it sure seemed to me like I was being forced to buy a Internet security suite for $55 (If I wanted to stay with AVG).
My initial reaction was.. well, I got a little hot under the collar (to use a little of the ‘hip’ slang of today, I got “bent”).

And then I saw — way down at the very bottom — the link I was looking for, and I stopped cursing: AVG 8 can be downloaded for free. (To do so now, click here.)

I clicked the link and installed the new Version 8.0, which went very smoothly (on both an XP and Vista machines). New to AVG 8.0 is anti-spyware protection, and the option to include a AVG toolbar.

To get the full benefits of the toolbar, you (of course) need the paid version. In the free, you only get “safe search”, which is essentially just a site filter (a pre-made blacklist) in combination with Yahoo Search. I see no real benefit to installing the free-version toolbar as I use today’s free application for safe search results (below).

This is the new 8.0 user interface.

* Tip of the day: Don’t panic, “freak out”, or “get bent”– like I did. Just scroll down to the bottom and click the link for the free AVG 8.0.

[Addenda: For those of you seeking how to make the pop-up go away, you can either uninstall 7.5, or upgrade to 8. You are not going to be allowed to sit pat on 7.5.]

Today’s free link: 8.0’s toolbar does include a good technology, the LinkScanner Website analyzer. While the paid for edition of LinkScanner is commendable, the free “Lite” version is an excellent addition to your safe surfing arsenal. To get it, click here.

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

Share this post :


June 25, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, how to, PC, security, tech | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments