Category Archives: pc

Low power consumption server with integrated car battery UPS

I wrote in another post how I simply attached a car battery to a standard market UPS to give it even more juice; in that occasion, several users commented how I committed several shortcomings regarding the assembly.

Also taking into consideration that comments, this morning I rearranged the power supply of my home server to make it more silent and power efficient/independent.

On a side note, most comments were centered about me using thin cables to connect to the battery, with the reason that a car battery can deal a lot of amperes together, making a thin cable overheat, leading to possible fires. At first I credited them, but then I realized something, for which they should also get back to earth: we are not talking about shorting the battery leads for test purposes, but about using a day-to-day load, especially since it’s a low-power home server that together with accessories drain maximum 60W, which is 5amperes at 12V voltage.
Enter PicoPSU: you get a little toy able to give out up to 95W constant power (with my own model, but they make them up to 160W), which is 8amp at 12V. There is an 8 amperes current flowing through the cable running from the barrel connector of the PicoPSU… now please go and check the thickness of those cables. If those are enough for 8amps, how should 220v cable not be enough for 5 amps (tops, make it 4 on a regular basis)?

Back to us, my idea was to save the most possible on power waste, and have a silent PC that could sustain moderately long blackouts.

Ingredients:

  1. Your favourite hardware configuration for home server/automation (I bought a D510MO from Intel, with a dualcore D510 64bit Atom, put 2GB of RAM on it, a PCI DVR card, and a 2TB Samsung disk, the cheapest I found)
  2. A picoPSU power supply or something similar (I bought for roughly 20€ off the US a PicoPSU80, rated for up to 95W max, but I’ll need way less than that)
  3. A decent 12V power adapter, preferably fanless, that can manage the load you’re going to put under it, plus some more (mine came from China, but it’s ISO and CE compliant, and apart from the build quality which looks sturdy, it can take up to a nominal 120W load, that is 10A@12V)
  4. A car battery, must not be new, but should be able to hold its charge for a while, otherwise it’s pointless to use it

Here goes.

server insides
This is how deserted the tower case (courtesy of someone who abandoned it near a garbage can) looks, but it's fine, as I have the space, and I want air to be able to circulate freely inside without needing fans.
12v barrel connector on tower case
Detail: I used a pre-existing screw hole used to hold in place the old PSU, enlarged it with a drill, and fitted the PicoPSU barrel connector inside. Notice the thin cables coming out of the connector (those are apparently perfectly safe for 8amperes).

NOTICE: Be ABSOLUTELY careful when handling the following step: never, Never, NEVER make it so the battery leads are shorted together, or you will be in for a GREAT amount of PAIN, including, but not exclusively limited to: electric shocks, fire, tools welded to other tools or to the battery or to rings (NEVER wear rings or similar metal things on you while doing this). Additional word of advice: when connecting a cable, make sure the other end is either not naked, or if you removed the coating already, put a strip of insulating tape around it, you don’t want it to make contact around; this is especially true when you have both cables connected, as the naked ends may make contact between them. When you are about to connect the battery to the load, uncover a cable end at a time (first the positive, then the negative), and not both together.

car battery negative lead
In the "car battery ups" post I wrote, several people criticized how I made the connections to the battery, both plug-wise and cable-wise. This time, I used cables 3 times larger, and since I didn't have a proper car battery clamp, nor wanted to buy one/disassemble from somewhere, I just curled the copper wire around the lead. Ugly, but in the end it's as much effective as a regular clamp (try and confute). I only had ground cables that big, so who cares, I just tagged them with coloured tape to tell them apart.
cabled car battery
Sexy. This is the final result: didn't have red insulating tape either, so I used black for negative, and white for positive.
cabled 12v 10A 120W power adapter
The cable panel for my adapter, large white cable is 220V mains input, ground cables are battery leads, and grey ones are the load (server + lcd monitor + modem/router + other stuff). Before you go and start bashing me because it's ugly: I don't care, it works and it's safe. Also, it's not visible in this picture, but each cable has its own white/black tape tags to tell if it's positive or negative lead.

Results were as following: I plugged the battery leads while the ac adapter was already powering the server, and no problem whatsoever popped up; after I did it, the wattmeter I was using immediately went down quite some figures, as the charged car battery was sharing the load together with the 12V PSU. With this setup, I can plug in/out the mains plug with no effect whatsoever on the server: load, PSU and battery are all in parallel, so it 220V inlet dies, the battery takes all the load with no hassle.

Currently, the wattemer is showing quite a lower load, since the battery was all charged: I expect it to slowly raise until full consumption, which should be little more than 42W (full stuff load, plus something more to keep the battery charged).

 

What would have you changed, and what do you like/dislike about this mone-morning project?

Virtualbox bridged network adapter driver slows down LAN speed

When I upgraded from WiFi to a physical CAT5E cable running between my router in the other room and this desktop, I jumped from 2-3MB/s tops (1MB/s usually, sometimes less) to 11-12MB/s speeds during file transfers from my home server.

Lately I was checking that the speed to download some fansubs off the server got down to 5-6MB/s, exactly half of what I was used to; I noticed there was another non specified adapter listed in Windows 7’s statusbar icon hover, and I traced it to Virtualbox’s bridged network adapter. Since I recently had installed that to test something for which I had no need anymore, I simply uninstalled Virtualbox, and as soon as the virtual network card driver was gone, speeds were back to 11-12MB/s.

Should this be in any way a normal behaviour?

Assorted freeware tools and utilities download

After the website was moved to the new domain and converted to PHP, a lot of utilities linked here have been massively updated, disappeared, or become obsolete/useless. I removed the obsolete/useless ones, and added “google” near the ones which are not hosted in here but you should google for, while the downloads you can find in here are pretty rare, bust still useful ones

Ghostscript & Ghostview (google)

Great couple of tools to create a PDF file (you know… the ones you read with Adobe Acrobat Reader…) from every kind of document you can print. Follow instructions in HowTo’s section on how to do this.

Registry Detective (google)

Small and effective tool from ZDLabs to search the Windows’ registry for a key and display all of the occurencies in one panel, instead of pressing F3 till the last one. Then you can open Regedit on the key you want to edit, simply pressing a button in Registry Detective.

Hex Editor XVI32 (google)

Not for many, but someone may find useful this utility. I myself have it installed, and never used it, but you never know.

Magic Renamer 3.00

GREAT free tool (actually requires a reg code for “full registration”, not needed tho; you’d get the opportunity to download the latest version, which supports batch conversions and other things); I use it to rename MP3 files, just a few settings, and the game’s done.

QuickSFV (google)

CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) tool, lets you create a check file (extension .SFV, “Simple File Verification”) for a series of files, so another user can check if these files are integer or corrupt after he downloads them (actually it is more useful when YOU need to check the integrity of a download, if the downloaded file is provided with its CRC table — that is a .SFV file).

RegCleaner (google)

Run it from time to time when you need to remove from the Windows’ Registry those useless lines, which a crap uninstaller or a even crapper installer left there. I runned it right now, 445 invalid entries . (You may check with a search on www.google.com if there is a version newer than the 4.2 one provided here)

ScreenRip32 (google)

You may need to get a screenshot of a Windows program, of a funny error message, or anyway of a document view, to publish it, or to archive it exactly as you saw it; ScreenRip32 is the program for you: gets either a shot of the whole screen, of a single window, of a sigle field (like, the text field of Word or the OK button of a dialog box), or even of an area whose borderyou drag with the mouse (I used this utility to take all the screenshots you see in the HowTo’s/IRC pages). Then you can save in BMP, GIF, JPEG or even as an icon (.ICO)!

TopSplit

Simplicity made application: does what it needs to do, and perfectly; it splits a file in several pieces, either of the size you need, or of the percentage of the whole size you want; it can create all the segments, or, for example, only the 4th segment of 1,635,246 bytes from a 10MB file. It can make as well a batch file to rebuilt the whole data in one command. And it’s really small, too.

ResHack (google)

Low-level tool to modify the resources in 32bit-standard files (that is, you can export Icons, Bitmaps, Text, Cursors, or change them as you want). Advanced users only.

Internet tools freeware downloads

After the website was moved to the new domain and converted to PHP, a lot of utilities linked here have been massively updated, disappeared, or become obsolete/useless. I removed the obsolete/useless ones, and added “google” near the ones which are not hosted in here but you should google for, while the downloads you can find in here are pretty rare, bust still useful ones

GuildFTP Daemon (GuildFTPd) (google)

Free FTP server, installs and configures easily, can interact with mIRC (great if you want to set a banner on an IRC channel to share songs, pictures, or everything else on your HD), has a nice graphic interface.

GuildFTP mIRC Script (google)

This mIRC script, younger brother of GuildFTPd, is an FTP server which runs in mIRC (!) through a script for this chat program. It is obviously usable only if you plan to run an FTP for an IRC channel, and should use less memory of the proper application, since is “embedded” in mIRC (obviously it’s not as user friendly as the main app).

NetPerSec (google)

ZDLabs utility to constantly monitor the download/upload speed. What is simply too cool about this one is that it shows itself in the system tray with a small graphic to see in real time the speed (too bad under Windows 2k it needs to be restarted if you disconnect/reconnect, because it behaves randomly…)

Zidrav (google)

You create a CRC table of the big file you downloaded, send it (via mail, IRC DCC, ICQ, whatever) to the guy who has the original file, who uses the same program and the CRC table you sent, to create a “patch”, which he later sends you (again, via FTP, DCC, or whatever), and which you use with the same program to fix your file which will be exactly the same of the original one.

How to record MSTalkit voices with Microsoft Windows Sound Recorder

So, you didn’t understand how to make it. Well, what am I here for then?

First step: install and run MS Talkit (download it from Downloads/AudioVideo).

No comments
Hey you made it! MS Talkit is running!

 

Ok, now begin playing with it to acquire the method, then just reach the point, and do something like this:

Ph33r My V0c41izing 5ki11z!!
This is really nice, the same I use. For a get fail, try instead "DCC Failed!", Child personality, Breathly Vocal Effort. The child seems he is amost crying cause of the transfer error 😉

 

So, after you tried Talkit and had fun with it, start Sound Recorder (Start > Programs > Accessories > Entertainment), locate it over Talkit, so when you switch from one another their windows don’t cover each other, and press in rapid sequence the Rec button in Sound Recorder, followed by the "Talk It!" button in Talkit. When the phrase is finished hit the Stop button in Recorder. Now, even if you’ve been a lot fast, there will be silent delays at the beginning and at the end of the WAV, so move the slider till you find a wave with a big amplitude,

You were pressing the play button, admit it!
Here I pressed the Rec button about 0.9 secs late (hey it’s 11pm while I’m writing…), so had to remove a lot of silence. Always try to play from the current slider position to see if the wave belongs to the voice or to the noise before the voice starts.

 

then do [Edit > Delete before the current position] to remove the silence at the beginning. See when the Wave ends, and do [Edit > Delete after the current position], then do [File > Save] and go to mIRC’s folder (I suggest not going higher than 22KHz, 8bit, mono quality, it would be a waste of disk space; to achieve this, simply press the Change button in the Save dialog, and choose these settings).

Hewgh you did the same for allthe sounds you wanted to put in mIRC I hope (I mean Query, DCC Send, DCC Fail, DCC Complete, Notice, and so on), otherwise I just lost my time for a single 1.5 secs WAV file…

Now get back to the main mIRC Event Sounds page

Adjust and synchronize AVI & DivX movie subtitles, the guide

October 2008: I updated this guide to the use of Subtitle Workshop, a freeware utility which does the same job I explained back then, in a tenth of the time, or even less, since all the manual steps are now condensed into a few passages. To read the old guide, which insteadused the program SubAdjust, scroll down right past the horizontal line.

First of all, download the free program Subtitle Workshop, you can just as easily google for it. Keep in mind I used the latest 4 beta version in this guide. Then you can follow the image tutorial below.

subtitle workshop opening window
This is how the Subtitle Workshop free utility appears right after the first start; you may want to first open the subtitles file, from File>Open, or by pressing the open button, and then browsing to the actual subtitles.
subtitle workshop with opened subtitles
This is a subtitles file opened in Subtitle Workshop, no more, no less; right now, it’s the time to open the video file the subtitles are associated with, from Video>Open
subtitle workshop with opened subtitles and video file
This is after opening both subtitles file and video file inside Subtitle Workshop (the video file still is not visible, as the ScreenRip32 utility which I used cannot properly capture overlay… same thing happened if I tried the PrintScreen key). The video will start playing automatically along with the subtitles. There are two choices now to start adjusting the subtitles, which are, well, pretty much the same. Either you select the first line of the subtitles, and play the video where that first line is spoken, and when that happens you press the third button from the right below the video, which says “1”; then you select the last line of the subtitles and jump to the point where that line is spoken, pressing instead the second button from right which says “2”. At this point, a little window will appear with a summary of the details regarding the timings, asking you if you want to adjust the subtitles accordingly. Check that the timings reported in that window are correct, then press adjust. At this point the subtitles are synchronized (verify by playing the video inside Subtitle Workshop) and you can save the results. OR, you can use the other method instead, just see the picture below.
subtitle workshop timings adjust dialogue
Second method: manual timing. First of all, write down the exact times when the first and last spoken lines of the subtitles file are said in the video, then to manually set the timings to adjust the subtitles, follow the menu Edit>Timings>Adjust subtitles. A dialogue like the one in the picture will appear, and you just have to fill in those times you just wrote down and press adjust. Check the results by playing back the video in Subtitle Workshop to see if subs are really synched, then save the file.

IMPORTANT NOTE: what follows is the very first guide to subtitles synchronization that I wrote, and which is now substituted with the guide above. I just didn’t have the heart to remove it altogether, so I left it here for the sake of posterity.


This guide has been thought for you non-english users who, even if top-grade in this language, very often encounter those uber-fast pronounciations or that slang sub-dialect or again that nasty accent (and every link to “Snatch” or “Trainspotting” is NOT casual), that really beat you. So you download a subtitles file, and you either don’t know how the heck to use it (but if it’s the case, then search elsewhere because this guide won’t tell you how), or you find it begins almost synchronized, but gets really messed up, just to go wildly desynched at the end.

Important incroduction: this guide is related to SubViewer 2.0 subtitle format, and it’s referred to an ideal situation in which you see the movie using BSPlayer (get it from the Downloads/AudioVideo section). Which means, if you prefer to use other players which don’t support properly SubViewer format, or you hate SubViewer format yourself for some reason, you can still use this guide, yet the instructions, found right at the end, on how to resolve this “compatibility” issue, are not tested in any way by me, since I’ve always, and I’lll always, use the couple BSPlayer/SubViewer for my DivX subtitles needs.

Download SubAdjust from the Downloads/AudioVideo section of the website, then proceed to the basic preformatting of the file, which means removing the comments or the sign of the ripper, like:

...
1403
  02:43:08,687 --> 02:43:09,722
  Sam...
1404
  02:43:13,167 --> 02:43:15,681
  ...I'm glad you are with me.
1405
  02:51:01,967 --> 02:51:02,956
  Subtitles by
  SDI Media Group

which for example is at the end of the file (a special prize to the ones who will guess what movie was that one; c’mon it’s easy), but you can find them also at the beginning:

{0}{900} ****Le Garçon Française   SUBS****|Vive la France!!
  {905}{1002}- Le 3 septembre 1973|à 18 h 28 min et 32 s,
  {1010}{1062}...une mouche bleue|de la famille des Calliphoridés,
  {1070}{1138}...pouvant produire 14,670 battements|d'ailes à la minute...
  {1145}{1220}...se posait rue Saint-Vincent,|à Montmartre.
  {1318}{1378}A la même seconde,|à la terrasse d'un restaurant,
  {1385}{1458}...le vent s'engouffrait|sous une nappe,
  {1462}{1555}...faisant danser les verres|sans que personne ne s'en aperçoive.
  ...

(another special prize to the ones who will guess this other movie which the subs where taken from, it’s easy as well; BTW this sign was made up, I couldn’t find any signed file on the fly).

You can easily achieve this by opening the subtitles file (whose extension may be .txt, .sub, .srt or other; I have all these extension associated with notepad anyway) in a text editor, and manually deleting those lines, then saving; when the subtitles have an ordinal number and a timestamp in more lines, like in the first example, you must delete the whole record.
We don’t do this because we are evil and so want to remove every trace of the kind guy who ripped the subtitles from the DVD, but because in most of the operations we need to make in order to resynch the subtitles these additional lines at the beginning or at the end, which have no counterpart in the movie itself, will easily mess up everything.

There are basically 3 kinds of desynchs in subtitles:
1) Simple time shift, the beginning is shifted before or after the correct time, while the rest of the text follows at the right “pace”;
2) Wrong framerate, where the time distance between two lines of text is different from the correct one, but the speed is uniformly increased or decreased throughout the file (with or without time shift, it makes no difference considering the method we use to correct it);
3) FUBAR’d subtitles (don’t worry, they are pretty rare) where either your video, even if correctly watchable, has some glitches in the framerate of internal scenes, so that some video sequences have a framerate different from the nearby scenes, or the subtitles themselves were ripped very bad, or again the original subtitles were timestamped uncorrectly, or again again the subtitles lack some scenes which are present in the movie or have additional scenes missing from the movie: in these cases usually you search for another subtitles file, or you watch the movie without subtitles (this is the worst kind of desynch, since you can realize you have one only AFTER having tried the previous fixes; trying to fix these subtitles is extremely time consuming, and even if I could be able to do that – and I once tried… giving up -, I won’t include the steps in this giude, because I esteem myself a very stubborn person, yet I would never lose all that time to fix such a situation).

In any case, since you need to work with SubViewer format in SubAdjust, you have to convert the subtitles file to that format if it’s using another one. You can recognise a SubViewer file by opening it in a text editor. The beginning of the file will look like:

[INFORMATION]
  [AUTHOR]
  [SOURCE]
  [PRG]
  [FILEPATH]
  [DELAY]
  [CD TRACK]
  [COMMENT]
  [END INFORMATION]
  [SUBTITLE]
  [COLF]&HFFFFFF,[STYLE]no,[SIZE]18,[FONT]Arial
  00:00:35.00,00:00:39.34
  On September 3, 1973...

  00:00:39.38,00:00:44.34
  a blue fly capable of flapping[br]70 beats a minute..

  ...

that is, a record storing the general info about the movie (with or without the various fields filled) and then for each line a timestamp indicating the start time and end time, and just below it the subtitle. If the subtitles are not in this format, start SubAdjust and convert them.

Open the subtitles file in “Source File”, write another suitable name for the output, and select “Conversion to SubViewer 2.0”, then press GO. The original filename may have another extension like .txt, .srt and so on.

So let’s start examining the first two cases. When you see subtitles in a movie are shown when they shouldn’t, it doesn’t hurt to try and see if the simple time shift is occurring. So take a note of the time of the first subtitle in the movie; example, given you removed the comments out, you see that the first line in the subtitles file is “Now, children,[br]are you sitting comfortably?“, go play the movie and write down the time at which the thing is actually being said (let’s say 00:00:04, 4 seconds from the start), then start SubAdjust.

For the first try, open the subtitles file in the “Source File” input line, and choose the name you will save the output subtitles with (I usually put the same name followed by one ‘ or more ”’). Select “Adjust”, and in the lower-left corner select the time you just annotated from the movie, press GO and wait.

Open the movie file, and see, jumping to and fro, if the subtitles are shown correctly in all the movie. Chances are they won’t. So we begin examining the second case (wrong framerate).

The drawback of the method is that you will possibly spoil the ending, since you need to see at what time the first line is said in the movie (just like we saw before), then what is the line written at the very end of the file (and thus is the last in the movie), and at what time that last line is said in the movie (so you need to play the end to search for it. I HATE it, too bad I couldn’t find anoter way of telling). You will thus have the time, related to the movie, of the first and the last lines. Keeping note of them, adjust the subtitles files so they start at 0:00:00, then calculate “last-movie-line-time MINUS first-movie-line-time”, you will have the time span that passes between the first and last line in the movie. Since we adjusted the subtitles to start at 0 seconds, that is also the time we will want the last line to appear in the subtitles file. So proceed:

After you adjusted the subtitles to start at 0:00:00, load the adjusted file and select “Change frame rate”, then select the checkbox “Use last ref.time” and in the “Coef. / desired last ref.time” write down the result of the subtraction I told you to make before (note: you need to have cents of second, so just add .00 after the seconds). Press GO to write the file with the name you chose in “Target File”.

After this is done, load in SubAdjust the newly created file, which starts at 0:00:00, and ends at the time you just calculated, then re-adjust it to start at the time of the first line said in the movie, exactly like you did in the first method, but now you will be sure the final time will be correct.

Occasionally you will still need to adjust again the time, matter of one second before or after, but you already know how to do it.

CONVERSION TO OTHER FORMATS

As I told you, this part has not been tested, but if you really want to use subtitles in another format, select “Conversion to [other format here]”, and press GO to save the subtitles in the new format using the filename you chose in “Target File”.

Modify Windows XP start menu button and sidebar

Installed XP and you feel fuzzy about the new Start Menu? I don’t know how to change the background colour, but I can tell you how to modify the text that appears in that button, and also the bitmap image which, on the side of the menu, reports the current OS version.

This is an example of what you can achieve:

No need to comment… you can see for yourself how I put a smiley in place of "start", and changed the bitmap reporting "Windows XP Professional" with the more stylish "Codename Whistler Datacenter Server"
New addition: you can now change the image in the Start button as you prefer, see Neo while he takes the red pill from Morpheus’s hand. You can also change the "Click here to begin" Tooltip, which appears after leaving the mouse on the button, to whatever you want, like "Hack the Matrix!"

 

It isn’t so immediate though, you don’t need to change simply a registry key, but you have to modify the file explorer.exe (don’t worry, no tough HEX editing, you just need a simple tool).

Disclaimer: if you are a first time user, I do *not* suggest you to use this guide, since, even if it is completely safe and error proof (backups rule), you never know where the border between safety and danger lies. Follow your heart. If you feel even the slightest doubt, do *not* go further. In any case, you can’t hold me responsible for any damage YOU do to your system because of YOUR ineXPerienxe

You need to download ResHack from Download/Tools first. It is a plain compressed version, it has no installer, so you need to create first a folder to put it in, then decompress it in there.

Before running ResHack.exe, make a backup copy of explorer.exe (the simplest way is to drag and drop the file from Windows Explorer in the same folder, pressing the Ctrl key, so a file named "Copy of explorer.exe" will be created).

Now, let’s explain something. Modifying explorer.exe under Windows 95/98 could be just an issue of the file being already open, and anyway the possibility to shift to DOS makes it all easier, since explorer.exe is not runnig and you can change it as you please. Windows XP has instead a file protection system which will, on a regular basis, avoid you from arbitrary modifying any system file (just like explorer.exe), so you will need to start in Safe Mode. I suppose at this point that you made a backup copy of explorer.exe and that you uncompressed ResHack in a folder.

To start in Safe Mode, press the F8 key right after the screen becomes blank (after the POST), and wait for the text menu to come up. Choose to start in "Safe Mode", log in as administrator, press yes to the dialogue. You need Task Manager open now: to start it, use the Ctrl-Alt-Del combination (if you previously enabled the classic logon screen, you may need to press the "Task Manager" button after that, as well). From there, in the "Processes" panel, select explorer.exe and terminate the process. Now, in the File menu of Task Manager, choose "New Task (Run…)", and Browse to ResHack.exe (you remember where you uncompressed it, do you).

Inside ResHack, do [File > Open] and choose C:\Windows\explorer.exe. You will see a tree structure like in Windows Explorer.

Browse to String Table\37\1033

 

Here is where you need to do the dirty job: put whatever you want in place of start in the 578th string resource; for example make that string like "Smart" or whatever you like. If you want to put a big image in the Start button, I suggest you to put no text in here, so leave no space between the "" and press the "Compile" button on the top, the line will be eliminated. The longer the text, the larger the Start Button will be. After you try to click on another resource folder in the left panel, ResHack will ask if you want to recompile the source. Press Yes and go on.

 

The first (and easier) step is over. If you want to go on, and modify also the bitmap on the side of the Start Menu, these are the steps to follow:

The bitmap resources containing the bitmaps of the beta versions of Windows XP are located in the folders from 158 to 166, choose the one you prefer (I’ll take the Whistler Datacenter Server one)

 

This is the bitmap I chose, Bitmap\164\1033

 

In the [Action] menu choose to save the bitmap, for example in C:\, and name it datacenter.bmp

 

Go in [Action > Replace Bitmap …] and in "Open file with new bitmap" browse to the datacenter.bmp you saved before, then in the right side, browse to the bitmap of your current version (in my case it was #167, XP Professional; it is #166 for Home Edition), and hit Replace.

 

You can obviously change the bitmap to whatever you want to, but don’t ask me if the bitmap width must be the same, I don’t know (since I never tried); in the best case your Start Menu will be "indented" depending on the bitmap dimensions.

And now let’s see how you can change the Start button image and Tooltip. Note that if you use a plain single-line taskbar (the dafault) you shouldn’t put in here something higher than 30 pixels, the image I used is 50 pixels high, because I setted my taskbar on two lines.

Use exactly the same procedure seen before to replace the image located in the Bitmap Resource 143, the very first one, with one of your choice. Obviously the bigger the image, the bigger the Start button.

Now browse to the string table 34, line 533:

Change the "Click here to begin" text with the string you prefer

 

Done! Now simply compile the changes, do [File > Save] and reboot normally.

You know the tools and the method, so there are a lot of things you can modify, icons too, even if I’d avoid to play too much with it, because it is time consuming

Enough for now, enjoy.

How to mod your pc tower case with a plexiglas panel window

It is customary after some time to get bored at one’s own case, and to want it to look cool in one way or the other. One (also) useful way to modify it is to make a panel transparent, so you can see inside, and check if all fans are working, or see what’s the model no. of an HW component without using a screwdriver. This naturally applies only to tower (mini-midi-full) cases, and the guide itself uses some techniques which may not be appliable to every model; I decided it was much easier to exchange a whole panel with plexiglas, instead of sawing off a square from the original aluminium, possibily damaging it and my own fingers, and below you can see what I was able to make.

You can easily notice the reflection of the light on the plexiglas surface (I mean, there’s actually something on it, I didn’t make a shot of a panel-less case to make it look transparent)

 

My case structure had some incisions to let some stirrups on the alumium panel to make friction and stay stable.

These two holes are the insertion points of corresponding stirrups on the panel, so sliding the panel forward, the stirrups would get a grip of the structure; we need to reproduce this mechanism on our plexiglas panel.

 

First, you need to provide yourself with the necessary material: a plexiglas panel, the same size of the aluminium panel you want to replace (I used a 2mm thick one), and then both a instrument to make holes in plexiglas without fracturing it (I used a screwdriver-shaped solderer to melt where I needed), and a series of straight thin metal stirrups you can easily bend.

Notice the solderer point, about the width of the thin metal stirrups, which must not be wider of the holes in the case structure, since they must fit in there. You can see an example ofhow you must bend the stirrups, but we wil need it later. (I removed those stirrups from an old AC-adapter solenoid core, ue your fantasy to get yourself some stuff like it elsewhere)

 

Put the plexiglas panel in place, and with a marker draw on it the side of the holes where the grip should occur, then about 5mm ahead of it make a vertical hole with the solderer. I decided to use only the first and last holes on the upper and lower side of the panel, to reduce the amount of work, and the probability of bad alignment of all the stirrups. In this phase you should also write with a marker on the plexiglas "OUTSIDE", so you can easily find the orientation of the plexiglas against the case.

You must use the marker sign on the plexiglas as a reference, to make an hole with the solderer ahead of it, to let the stirrup pass from one side of the panel to the other. The sign you draw should perfectly correspond to the hole edges (not like the picture, in other words), Make sure the hole is wide enough for the stirrups, if not, simply touch it with the solderer again until the stirrup fits.

 

Bend the gripping side of the stirrup to reproduce the U-shaped hook on the aluminium panel, insert it in the hole, then bend again the long straight side to fix the stirrup on the plexiglas.

This is how the bent stirrup should look like: the "U" base should be in the same position of the sign you marked on th plexiglas. Now the gripping mechanism of the aluminium panel has bein reproduced.

 

Try to adapt the just completed panel, which will almost for sure not be perfect, but adjusting the bending of the stirrups, or forcing them in the holes will get it to work.

A blurred detail of a stirrup in place.

How to order, manage, rename, tag your MP3 collection

Have thousands of MP3 files? Literally? Hopefully, you’re like me, and your entire collection is made by ripping the original CD’s you own and you paid for.

So, often the files you …ehrm… "rip" have funny names, often they are all CAPS or are badly Capitalized, or, again, are full_of_underscores, they miss the proper order (Artist – Album Name – Track Number – Title Here), and most of all, they are badly tagged. As long as you’re willing to spend some time, and I assure you, after you can master the tools in here, it will be a short time, your whole collection will be in perfect shape and be ready to be shar– ehrm– shown to your best friends by doing an ASCII format list of them all.

First of all, we need to rename the files properly, this is what we use Magic Renamer for (get it from the Downloads/Tools section).

Since I simply cannot list evey kind of combination of naming errors you may encounter, let’s explain the worst case of them all, that is an album where the single songs have: underscores (like_this_one), wrong capitalization (LikE ThIs OnE), missing parts (like author-track-title, no album name), unordered parts (like track-album-title-author instead of author-album-track-title), trimmed letters (like hor-title instead of author-title). There may be more, but once you know how to deal with this, you’ll also learn how to use Magic Renamer yourself.

This is a polite example of what I am talking about. I just made up the thing, I don’t think you’ll be so unlucky. BTW I own the album. Natalie you rock!!

 

Start Magic Renamer and set it up as follows.

In the "Case" panel use this setting If You Want Every Word To Begin With Capital, the other options are self-explanatory.

 

In the "Space" panel this is what you should want to set. Oh, if you are wondering about the funny colours of these screenshots, they are the result of the extreme compression of the images.

 

And now let’s see how to fix those filenames in the screenshot. In the upper panel of Magic Renamer you will see how the files are currently named, and how they will be after the "makeup", which you make essentially by working on the trimmer, replacer and formatter panels. Some strategy: we will need to fix the author name to "Natalie Imbruglia", remove the dot after the track number, adjust the case of the words, replace the underscores with spaces, and put order in the sequence to have Author – Album – Track# – Title. The underscores and word case are easily corrected by the settings we already saw. Now to the rest.

Load the files inside Magic Renamer by browsing to the folder cotaining them and pressing the ">>>" button or by selecting all the single files and pressing the ">" button.

1) Fix the author name and put it in the beginning.

Remove the album name form the start of the filename, we will insert it later. In the "Trimmer" panel choose to remove the first "n" letters, check with the preview filenames to see how many of them need to be cut.

 

Here. Replace "alie_imbruglia" with "natalie imbruglia". Capital letters will be changed by Magic Renamer since it has been setted to, you don’t need to write them correctly. The other settings should be left as they are unless specifically needed. Note the hint at the bottom: we don’t use it in this example, anyway if you need to remove a word *inside* a filename, that is you can’t trim the beginning or the end to do it, simply replace it with a null string.

 

Press the "Go!" button in the bottom left corner (after it you can undo to the last state by pressing "Undo"). You will now have the files beginning with "Natalie Imbruglia", no album name, and a dot after the track number, where we want instead a "-".

2) Replace the dot after the track number with a "-"

Disable the trimmer since you don’t need anymore to cut parts of the filename.

You need now to replace the dot right after the track number, and insert a "-" with a space before it. This is how you do it: put a single dot followed by a space after "Replace", and " – " (beginning and ending with a space, this to avoid to change also the dot of the .mp3 extension) after "with".

 

Press the Go button again. Now you miss only the album name.

3) "Insert" the album name after the Author

Errm you could find this a bit stupid, but it’s for education purposes. Replace "Natalie Imbruglia" with "Natalie Imbruglia – White Lilies Island". C’mon, you don’t need a screenshot this time. Press Go and the game is done.

This is just one way we could do it, there are millions of combinations you can use Magic Renamer, the good is to find the shorter one. Anyway, considering you are renaming at least 10 files at a time with a few clicks and typing, you’re saving time. Let’s see another way we could do it.

1) Fixing the Author AND the Album Name at the same time.

Trim the first characters until there are only the track number and title left. Now you use the formatter panel. Yeah, no biggie, since you need to learn how to use the formatter, trim ALL the characters before the title, that is remove ALSO the track numbers and spaces after them. DO NOT PRESS GO YET. Now we see how to use the formatter.

In the "Formatter" panel you write how you would like to make additions to the current filename. In this case we have only the titles, so need everything before them. We will write "Natalie Imbruglia – White Lilies Island – $n – $w" where $n is the serial number of the file as it is ordered ascending by name, and $w is the filename as it results form the changes made in the other panels: this means that if you chose to trim the first and/or last n characters, and replace something with something else, the partial result of those transformations will be considered as the filename. The legend on the right side of the panel explains all the "jolly characters".

 

Press Go and everything is done. Easy isn’t it.

One last recommendation: always remember to disable the parts you don’t need to use, that is Trimmer, Replacer or Formatter, because they will otherwise always mess up with the filename.

 

Now to the ID3 Tags. There are two kind of ID3Tags, as you should know, ID3v1 (the very first, ultra-standard, few characters, one) and ID3v2 (the new, still-not-so-standard one which accepts longer strings and more fields).

Here I support only the first version, both because the only free versatile tool for tagging I know has no v2 support, and because another shareware one I know isn’t as flexible as the former creating ID3v2 tagnames. So, if you think you absolutely need to work on ID3v2 tags, the rest of the guide isn’t for you. I actually don’t care for short strings, I think they’re too short only for 5% of my collection, so who cares.

All those things being said, I go on with the directions. Download and install Quick MP3 Tag Maker from the Downloads/AudioVideo section. Browse to the folder containing the files you just renamed with Magic Renamer, and open the "Files-ID3" panel. You now will use the "Filenames to ID3" input line to tell the program how to pick up the single parts of the filename and put them in the correct tag fields. The "jolly" string I use 99% of the time is "%1- %3- %7 – %2" (space-sensitive), that is , as long as you renamed the file as I told you, in the format "Author – Album – Track – Title"

Look at the part "Filenames to ID3 Tags". If you are not sure about what to put in the input line, press the "Help" button and see the legend with the explanation for each jolly character. If you want to see how the tags will be written in the file, select a filename in the folder and press the test button. Press "Go" in the right part, Filenames to ID3 Tag.

 

It is done, for the rought part. If you want to fill all the ID3v1 fields you are now missing, Year, Genre and Comment, which anyway are not usually included in the filename itself, go to the "Multiple" panel and add those fields to all the files in one time.

Fill only the fields you miss, and check the boxes near them, then press the big Go button on the right.

 

You can check the result in the "Single" panel by highlighting one file per time.

The files are ready for storage.

How to get an named alias for your dynamic IP

No matter if you use a DHCP connection (which means you have a different IP address for each connection – every 56k and ISDN line, and some DSL and Cable lines) or a static IP one, if you have a server installed on your machine, you may take advantage by "changing" your IP with a named address (for example, "yournick.hn.org" instead of "151.21.7.103"); for instance, the users of your server would easily remember your address.

This can be done for free, using both a service which mantains a DNS (Domain Name Server – a server which is capable of telling you the IP corresponding to an alias, like "yournick.hn.org", that would correspond to "151.21.7.103" as in the example above), and a small program which checks your IP every "n" minutes, and if it changed since the last time, sends the updated information to the service itself. So, very briefly, someone who knows you have an FTP server responding, for example, at the address ilikecandies.hn.org, port 21, would have his FTP client asking to the DNS of the service to tell him your true IP, and then would directly connect to that IP… still the only information he must remember is "ilikecandies.hn.org", and not your true IP, which is much more difficult to keep in memory).

To the practice now: there are more than one way to achieve this, and they depend from the small program you use to send out your IP. Every free service suggests free utilities to update the IP automatically, and since I wrote this guide years ago, the only service still operating is DynDNS.org.

DynDNS allows you to choose aliases different from the principal domain (which means, you can get "yournick.dyndns.org", but also "yournick.mine.nu", "yournick.homeip.net", and several others).