Thursday, July 30, 2009

NTFS and FAT32

Learned a few new lessons this week. I bought a 300 gig portable hard drive for my MP3 music and photo files. I spent some time tranferring files from my computer to this handy drive and was delighted when I could see the photos and hear the MP3 files on this disk simply by plugging it into the USB port of my new Philips DVD player.

One week of enjoyment. Then I tried adding some more music files and one of these was corrupted and so the inevitable Philips DVD player refused to recognise the portable drive. My computer could read the drive but not the DVD player. I removed the offending file, but the result was the same...the portable drive was not recogised by the player.

So I decided to reformat the drive and recopy all the data to it. That done, I tested it on the computer and things looked fine--the MP3 files could play and the photos were OK. I then plugged it into the Philips and, what the heck, the drive was not recognised.

I searched the internet for a solution. Simple it was. Philips DVD players do not recognise drives formated in NTFS which was the default when I reformated it on my Vista computer. I had to format the portable drive in FAT32 which was the original file system when I bought it. FAT32 is the logical choice for vendors who want their portable drives to be compatible with OSs other than Vista.

Formating in FAT32 is not easy because Vista does not have this option. It has an option called exFAT. This was the option I chose and after about 7 hours of reformating work the disk was ready. But try as I would, nothing could be written on this disk as it was now "protected" . By what? I could not find out.

Going to the internet once again, I found the solution. Use the command prompt and type FORMAT /FS:FAT32 X: (X being the drive letter). And so it began, another 6 hours of reformating.....

....then the drive stopped the procedure completely and became once again unreadable. Did I have to reformat the drive in NTFS and forgo the pleasure of listening to my MP3 files via my Philips? A search of the internet told me that Linux machines do FAT32 and so did XP. But these I did not have. Once again I searched the internet and found the solution in SwissKnife a free utility programme that does formatting and partitioning of drives easily.

After a quick download and installation, SwissKnife reformated the portable drive in the FAT32. A transfer of MP3 from the main computer to the portable drive and sweet music from my sound system via the Philips.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Faxing made difficult...

I've got this online fax facility by signing up with a Singaporean enterprise linked with Starhub. It is good in that you do not need to have a fax machine to fax out documents and to receive faxes. But there are a couple of short-comings associated with this facility. For one thing, you need to convert all the documents that you want to fax out to .pdf format. One easy way I know to convert documents to .pdf is to scan the documents using and Epson scanner and save the scanned files as .pdf files. Whether this works for other scanners, I would not know. But the thing is that using this method, the .pdf files are pretty large and faxing these out takes a very long time. I discovered that saving the scanned files in .jpg format reduces the file size considerably. These .jpg files can then be assembled as an open office document and exported as a .pdf file. These .pdf files are very much smaller than the ones created by the scanner software.

Besides the bother of having to convert files to .pdf files, Pfingo also has an interface that takes getting used to. When faxes are sent successfully, they are put into a "sent" box and if the fax connection fails and the faxes are not sent out they go into a "out" and they are labelled "failed" Well, I did not realise this at first and kept going to my "out" box to see if the faxes had been sent. The failed ones were there but the successfully sent ones were not. So what I did was to send the faxes out again. On one occasion when I had an urgent fax to send to Australia, I sent it out 5 times before realising that all had gone through. What a nuisance for the receiver.

I don't think that the fault is entirely mine because if one opens the "out" box, the list of failed connections appear and below this you will find the following explanation:

SENT - The Fax was sent successfully to the destination Fax No.PENDING - The Fax is in the process of being sent to the destination Fax No.SENDING - The Fax is being transmitted. RETRY - The destination could not be reached. System will try to send the Fax again. FAILED - The Fax could not be sent. Please try again later. No charges have been incurred. CANCELLED - The Fax send has been cancelled. You may be billed for any part transmitted. RECEIVED - Retrieve your fax at pfingoMAIL. Click here

Naturally a novice would expect that the labels, sent, retry, cancelled, received, etc to be found in the same "out" box. But alas, not so....the "out" seems to have only one label and that is "failed".