Thursday, November 3, 2011

Free Video Dub

If you are looking for a set of free video and dvd utilities then you should take a look at this site.

I tried its Free Video Dub and found it a very efficient and little program for quick cuts of video files. It is so simple to use that you cannot go wrong. It is not a feature filled utility but it does what it does very well.
It cannot be compared to Avidemux in terms of features and sophistication. There is no way to convert one video format to another, nor is there a way to add transitions to make cuts and joins subtle. But if you want to shorten a video by taking out parts of it, whether it is at the beginning, or the end or somewhere in the middle, then this is the program to look at first.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

EnGenius 3G Router NET-3G-ESR-6650. A problem solved.

I found it easy to set up this wireless router because the instructions were simple and easy to follow, although I must confess I have had some experience setting up and trouble shooting routers (compex, dlink, netgear, linksys). All went well until I tried connecting to the internet via my netbook. The connection was made, the signal was strong, but internet access was not possible. I relooked at all the settings, redid them but still could not solve the problem.

Then I recalled the advice of some great troubleshooter. If all else fails, switch off every thing, unplug from the mains all devices, wait for 5 or ten minutes and restart. The other bit of advice came from the user manual an earlier router that I had. It instructions stated that the sequence of starting up the devices was important. First switch on the modem and when it is stable (usually 3 to 5 minutes), then plug in the and power on the router, and then the computer. Of course, connections from modem to router and router to computer should be correctly done before hand.

I tried this and it worked. Sometimes, it is not the settings that it the problem, just some residual memory that needs to be cleared.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Media Jukebox

MJ is the best of the entertainment centers that I found. It is free, easy to use and has a reasonably good player -- playback of MP3s are clear and pleasing to my ear and so far none of the files has stopped while playing nor has there been pops and and crackles.

Like many others, I have hundreds of albums, many bought during phases of interest in particular artists or music type which I now do not listen to. All these are on 2 portable drives, one a duplicate of the other serving as a backup, and what I have done is to copy 50 or so albums into the folder My Music which I use as my database for MJ. This folder is the first place that MJ goes to when building a library of digital music. If your albums are well tagged and with cover art included in the album folders, these will be read by MJ and cover art displayed without problems. If you have compilation albums, depending on the tagging, you might have to so some work recombining albums because MJ like other software will break these up into artist and original album, which may not be the way you want them displayed.

You might want to get MJ to organise your entire music library because you can tag and edit tags within this program. But I found the tagging facility a little limited for my liking, preferring to use a dedicated tagging program.

Some tips:

1. Your choice of library views are many, play around with the library views available and select those that you like using the option "view/add view/add library view" in the left pane. You can always go back to the default, which is for me the best.

2. Merging or Combining Albums

If you have 2 albums of one title but designated Disk 1 and Disk 2, you can combine them in the MJ library by a simple drag and drop using the left hand pane in the standard view. This works well if the tags of the two albums are identical except, of course, the label "Disk 1" or "Disk 2" etc.

A more difficult merging of albums can be done in the same way even if the albums are markedly different. Be aware that this will change the tags in the original database, and so if you still want access to the original, make a copy of the album and store it somewhere else. To combine the Freddy Fender in the example above with Country Oldies drag the Freddy Fender title in the left pane and drop it into Country Oldies. The album title Freddy Fender will become Country Oldies and the tags in the Freddy Fender album will change - the artist name will become Various Artists to follow the Country Oldies compilation. If in the center pane the albums appear as two separate albums with the same name you will have to change the cover art of the Freddy Fender by pointing it to the art in the Countries Oldies folder. Refresh the screen and if the two albums still appear as separate albums with the same name and same cover art check the tags and make them identical (except for song title, of course.) Sometimes even a comma difference will prevent a successful merge.

Exporting and importing Library Files
You can do this if you are getting a new computer and want the exactly same media center library. The file will be exported as a albums.mpl. This will contain all your albums, but not the database containing your media files. You need to duplicate the database in the same directory of your new computer. The advantage of this is that if you have combined albums, these will remain combined in the new setup. To export all your album information Select(highlight) Albums then use the Files / Export Playlist /export as mpl / options and send the .mpl file to a thumb drive or sd card. On the new computer use File/import playlist/ option. To export only some of the albums you need the select the name of the albums and then export it as a playlist.

To export just a playlist, select that play list and use the same File/Export playlist/ option. Note that only the playlist will be exported and not the actual media files. To copy the actual media files in the playlist you need to use the copy and paste function under Edit (left panel second option.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Movies, Video streams: Working with

This is a Chinese website that streams and allows downloads of movies, TV series, and other videos. You should be careful because using this site and downloading materials from it can leave your computer open to attacks. My advice is not to use a computer which you use for important stuff but use an inexpensive netbook which if attacked you can easily reformat and re-install programs on.

Funshion works best with Google Chrome. If you have IE installed, this browser will often kick in (even if it not the default browser) and interfere with your downloads from What you can do is to uninstall or disable IE. From my experience, Firefox does not cause problems and you can leave this as an alternative browser.

To use you must download and install its popular software (it is actually referred to as popular software). Do not download anything else if only movies and TV series are your interests. I say this because the site is also a shopping site and will encourage you to download programs related to this as well. It will be hard to remove the other software because the uninstallation instructions are in Chinese, and difficult to manage.

Download and install the main program. Once you run it, you will be at the main page. All information will be in Chinese but Google can translate this into English -- not perfectly, but sufficiently for you to use the site.

All downloads go into a folder labelled "Media" in the Funshion subdirectory but it will be in Chinese. The best thing to do is to download, identify the program and carefully rename it. This can be tricky but as long as the extension is not renamed, the files will be useable. Downloading many programs at once will give you a headache when it comes to identifying the various files. Once you have renamed the files and you have confirmed that they work delete any accompanying files. Again take care that these accompanying files are not attached files which are essential for the main files to work. If the main files will not work without the accompanying files, restore those that you have deleted and place all related files in a folder.

Scan your hard drives for malicious files regularly when visiting the website.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New OS

After a virus attack on my computer on 1st May 2011, I had a computer that on booting up gave me a blank blue screen. It had a Vista OS that was attacked when I used a programme that shielded my identity and my ISP. AVG the anti-virus shield that I was using was temporally disabled by this programme and thus the attack by malware and other viruses. One of the malware was an anti-virus programme that asked for US$50 for virus and malware removal. Rather than pay this amount (which I felt had no guarantees, I decided to reformat reinstall the OS.)

Reformating and reinstalling Vista could not be done because I had no installation disks. I also did not make a recovery disk.

Since this was a six-year-old computer, I decided to use XP as the replacement OS. I had several several XP installation disks and thought at least one would work.

However all the XP installation disks I had would not copy into the computer several essential XP files during installation. I gathered that there were some hidden Vista OS files on the hard drive that was preventing it from being overwritten. The only way to get rid of these Vista files was to reformat the hard drive, but I did not utility disks to do this.

Doggedly I tried more than one XP installation disk but all behaved similarly, they refused to copy the several essential files during installation.

Then I decided to use a Windows 7 pre release disk which was given free with PC Users Magazine from Australia. This disk was a full version, given before the official release of Windows 7, for users to try out the then new OS, but it had a limited life and would not work beyond a certain date after the official release for sale of Windows 7. Well, the disk did install a workable OS; there was none of the problem of not being able to copy into the hard drive essential files as the XP installation disks had.

I changed the date of my computer to a date when this trial version of Windows 7 was valid and did the installation. When the installation asked for a product key, I gave none. I was surprised that I was required to give a product key, since originally, this version of Windows 7 was meant for a trial period and I thought it would be disabled after the period had lapsed and so no product key was required. Apparently, this was not the case and this disk actually contained a genuine, complete installation of Windows 7. What luck.

Although I did not have a product key, and the legitimate copy was not activated, the non-activated copy still worked. After this I changed the date to the present, and ignored all the messages that proclaimed that the copy of the OS I was using was not genuine. (This message appears just after startup).

So now I have a working Windows 7, which is "not genuine."

I remember vaguely, that once I tried "upgrading" my Vista computer using this same disk but unsuccessfully. The upgrading attempt took place while Vista was the OS. I think I was successful this time because the Vista OS had been completely wiped out by the virus and booting had to be done via CD/DVD.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

DVDFab Decrypter

Is there any dvd that the free decrypter that comes with DVDFab8 cannot decrypt? I have yet to find one. When DVD Shrink and DVD Decrypter do not do the job, who you gonna call? DVDFab Decrypter...the best so far.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Acer Aspire Easystore D110 1TB

Bought the D110 1TB external hard drive for archival purposes. The disk drive itself was a Western Digital Drive but I was disappointed because the electronics in the otherwise solid enclosure were not robust enough to last more than one and a half years.
One day, after 18 months of use, there was no indicator light and I was unable to access the drive. The tell-tale smell of burnt / overheated components, suggested to me where the fault lay -- power supply failure. I swaped connection AC wires and adaper with compatible sets but with no success, so it had to be the components in the enclosure itself. I had no choice but to junk the enclosure and get a new one.

Opening up the casing was a challenge because there are no screws on the casing -- everything is tightly sealed. There are two possible places to attack when trying to get the case open. The back where the inputs are and the front where the indicator light is. The gap between the plastic front panel and the aluminum casing was a little wider than the one at the back panel, so I inserted a butter knife into this gap and pried the front panel off. It was not easy because there were hooks securing the thing to the body, but with a measure of strength and care, the front came out. I was then able to get the top of the casing off to expose the WD drive. A nudge and the drive was pushed out from the connectors and free.

Bought a new external case ZoomXtreme 3.5 Aluminum HDD enclosure which cost about SGD $69.00 and within 5 minutes I was able to access my disk once again.

I wish that Acer would do a better job with this and similar models of portable HDD.