Useful Software for Windows

Updated Aug 2013

This list was created for my own reference to keep all the links in one handy location. It might be useful for ideas for you too when you’re installing a new Windows PC or laptop. Not all of these are free, but the vast majority are.

Posted in geek, security, software, windows | Tagged , | 5 Comments

I almost recommended Event Elephant to a charity event organiser last week. Having read this boards.ie thread of EventElephant reviews and Event Elephant complaints I’m very glad I didn’t recommend them in the end!

That thread is also a super example of how not to do public relations and social media.

Good luck to all those attempting to get their money back from Event Elephant.

 

Posted on by amd | Leave a comment

iPhone DCIM empty in Windows

Here’s what I recently thought was a technical problem: I was using my iPhone to record video and transferring it to my PC using the USB connector, when suddenly the DCIM folder was empty.

I checked the phone and all the photos and videos were there, but in Windows Explorer they were missing.

However, the cause and solution were both easier than expected: it’s a security feature enabled when the iPhone is initially connected when locked, and all you need to do is:

  1. disconnect the USB connection,
  2. unlock the iPhone, and then
  3. reconnect to USB.

Your iPhone DCIM should no longer be empty!

Posted in geek | 2 Comments

A Memory of Light – Review

A Memory of Light cover
My rating: 6/10

A Memory of Light is quite a good read and leaves me reasonably satisfied at the conclusion of an epic 14-book fantasy series that I have been reading for nearly 20 years.

I know that “quite a good read” and “reasonably satisfied” sound like damning with faint praise, so let me clarify that I think Brandon Sanderson has done an amazing job with his contributions to the Wheel of Time series – it was a huge ask to pull that entire thing together even in 3 books and he’s done a super job for the fans.

Robert Jordan created an awe-inspiring world in writing Wheel of Time, and he also left a massive amount of plot lines to be resolved in the final books. Added to that he even wrote the entire epilogue of A Memory of Light ~7 years ago.

With these restrictions and limitations for Sanderson to deal with, it’s astonishing how well he did with the last three books. Continue reading

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Understanding Inherited Code

Understand Inherited Source Code
Understanding unfamiliar source code can be difficult for programmers. I took on a software porting project in my first job, and this is how I dealt with getting to grips with the large, unknown codebase. I hope this is of use to any software developer trying to understand source code written by others.

It is harder to read source code than to write it.

Take Your Time

Take plenty of time to become familiar. It’s far more valuable to learn and understand the codebase at this point than to jump in and potentially add incorrect code.

Take a Copy

Before you do anything else, take a snapshot of the code you receive in a source control system (SCCS/RCS/CVS/Git/Mercurial/Subversion – whatever your fancy). Include the documentation and any binaries too.

Use the software

Forget the source code for a bit. Just use the software, over and over, as many different options and set-ups as possible. Try to understand it fully from a user perspective.

RTFM

Continue reading

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Fix for Firefox Graphics Problems in Windows 8

Mozilla Firefox - disable hardware acceleration in Win 8If you’re using Firefox on Windows 8, particularly on an nVidea graphics card, you may have seen a lot of graphics problems, glitches where images are blurry or even completely unrecognisable.

Here’s a possible fix for that which has worked for me and quite a few folks online: disable Hardware Acceleration in Firefox.

Here’s where to find it:

  • Click the Firefox main menu, choose Options.
  • Choose Advanced.
  • Go to General tab.
  • Untick the box beside “Use hardware acceleration when available”. 
  • Restart the Firefox browser (close all windows including Downloads if it’s open, wait 10 seconds and start Firefox again).

The broken images problem should now be gone – if it’s still there then it’s another problem – please let me know in the comments if you know of any other potential cause and/or solution for that!

Posted in windows | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

How to disable Metro UI in Windows 8

Windows 8 Metro UII’m playing around with Windows 8 on desktop PC – first impressions pretty good, but I’m not convinced of the value of Metro UI on a desktop yet (although it is beautiful). Metro would be great on a touchscreen, but that’s far from the dual monitor Dell PC I’m using here. So I might want to be able to turn off Metro – here’s how:

Quick hack

Rename X:\Windows\System32\shsxs.dll to shsxs.old or similar

or

Turn it off in the registry

  • Run regedit
  • Find HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  • Change the RPEnabled to ’0′ instead of ’1′

To re-enable Metro UI, change the value back to ’1′

More Windows 8 thoughts later.

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Book Review – Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Cover of "Surface Detail"

Surface Detail

I recently finished Surface Detail, a Culture novel from Iain M. Banks – entertaining but not up to his usual high standards.

The overall plot concept had great potential, but I think it suffered poor implementation and editing – in particular it has a couple of seemingly important characters who weren’t really explored in any detail and were mostly irrelevant to the story. Banks also did a bit of a Gemmell – wrapping everything up in the last 5 pages. The anti-hero felt bland and a bit stereotypical of the villains in Culture novels (e.g. Matter, The Player of Games).

The positive was Continue reading

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Solid State Drives Thoughts & Recommendations

Asus U36SD-A1 with OCZ Vertex 3

Asus U36SD-A1 with OCZ Vertex 3 SSD

I recently made the mistake of getting an OCZ Vertex 3 drive for my Asus U36SD laptop. The Vertex 3 is an incredible SSD, one of the fastest in existence. Unfortunately for me, other Vertex 3 owners, and the manufacturers OCZ, it’s also got one of the highest failure rates.

Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) have long been the biggest speed bottleneck in modern computer systems. Drive manufacturers have had their replacement, Solid State Drives (SSDs) on the consumer market since about 2006/7, but it was only from 2010 onward that they really become affordable.

SSD’s are awesome – the speed increase they can bring to a system has to be seen to be believed. It’s not like comparing a Lamborghini with a Toyota, it’s like comparing a Lamborghini with a bicycle. Continue reading

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Disable Facebook Picture Auto-Tagging

Facebook have done it again:

Facebook sorry over face tagging launch

Facebook has apologised for the way it rolled-out a new system that recognises users’ faces.

The social network said that it should have done more to notify members about the global launch.

Its Tag Suggestions feature scans photos and automatically picks out existing friends.

Although users have the option to switch it off, some complained that they were not explicitly asked if they wanted it activated.

(Source: BBC News)

If, like me, you found it difficult to figure out how to disable this setting, here’s some help (with thanks to Chris) :)

In your Facebook account go to: Continue reading

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