TechSpot

Technology news and commentary by the TechSpot.com staff

A fix for Java applets not loading in Firefox

with 23 comments

Although I’ve been running Windows 7 betas on and off periodically since the release of build 7000, it wasn’t until I used the x64 RC more extensively as my primary OS that I realized Java wouldn’t load in Firefox. Intriguingly, however, it appeared to be working just fine in both IE and Safari. I can’t say for sure how widespread the issue is, coming straight XP, however, my girlfriend’s laptop running Vista Ultimate x64 also faced the issue.

test-1

There were no manifestations of an actual error, in fact, Java applets were as blank as could be, and trying to interact with the Java console in Firefox caused the text to gray out with absolutely no result. All the while, Java’s plugin was listed in the browser’s add-ons, just as one would expect it to be.
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Written by Matthew DeCarlo

May 20th, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Access multiple email accounts with Gmail in 3 easy steps

with 19 comments

gmail

It seems as though nearly everyone has at least two email addresses these days, and it’s not uncommon to have upwards of four that are used on a regular basis for separate purposes.

You may or may not have heard of Gmail’s multiple inboxes feature and how useful it is, so if you’d like to take advantage of this awesome way to manage your email, read on.

The multiple inbox feature can be enabled to access third party email accounts (hotmail, your ISP email, etc.) alongside your Gmail account and can even be used to display certain sections or labels within your Gmail account simultaneously, e.g. by creating a search filter for a labeled or starred email.

Though at first glance this may seem daunting, it’s not that bad to configure and will give you the advantage of never ever having to check 2+ separate email accounts again.
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Written by Matthew DeCarlo

March 5th, 2009 at 5:26 am

A Quick & Easy Guide to Bulk File Renaming

with 3 comments

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you had to rename dozens or even hundreds of files, performing each and every file name edit manually, you can certainly understand the need for an utility like the Bulk Rename Utility.

While it might be a bit overwhelming at first sight, the 5-15 minute learning curve is well worth the time and energy you’ll undoubtedly save.

The Bulk Rename Utility allows you to perform a plethora of bulk file name modifications, all of which leave the files’ extension untouched unless you deploy an edit using the “Extension” section. You can easily add, remove and substitute letters, numbers, date and timestamps and it can all be done in more than a single way in some situations, ultimately leaving the process very open to the user.

You are provided with a preview of all potential and pending changes so you can tinker with and tweak your settings accordingly, though if you make an error it’s easily reversible by tapping CTRL+Z.
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Written by Matthew DeCarlo

March 2nd, 2009 at 4:25 am

List of antivirus suites that presently work with Windows 7 Beta

with 45 comments

If you’ve decided to give Windows 7 a whirl and have recently installed the open now closed beta, you’ll have noticed that upon installation you are notified of the fact that you’re lacking proper antivirus software.

This is nothing new and actually has been a “feature” of Windows ever since XP’s SP2 got released and the Security Center came to exist. It’s nothing new either to have a majority of antivirus suites to become incompatible with brand new operating systems – and Windows 7 is no exception, especially more so in its current beta form.

windows-1

Upon a bit of investigation you probably made your way to the Windows 7 security provider page at Microsoft’s site and perhaps were let down by the fact that the three “officially” supported AVs are all paid software or that your preferred suite isn’t listed (AVG is listed but not the free version). So, we’ve decided to install and test a variety of the more popular options out there so you don’t have to.
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Written by Matthew DeCarlo

February 12th, 2009 at 5:05 am

Geforce 7900GT Screen Corruption in Vista or How to change your GPU clock speeds at the BIOS level

with one comment

This is a problem that has existed in Vista from the very beginning, as I found out the hard way after its release in December 2006. If you use any Nvidia Forceware drivers other than version 158.24 you will get screen corruption like in the picture below when changing resolutions.

This situation only applies to factory overclocked 7900GT cards and the solution is to either under/overclock the card slightly.

I’m posting about this today because I had forgot about it until recently when I was reinstalling my brother’s computer, upgrading him from XP to Vista after a nice virus he got on MSN. I preferred to modify the card’s BIOS directly instead of just changing the clocks in software with Rivatuner.

To change the clock speed at the BIOS level download NiBiTor, first saving your current BIOS. If you are having trouble you can use GPU-Z for this instead, which I did.

The change is very straightforward, just change the 2D & 3D clock speeds on the main page and then save the file in .rom format as modded.rom. Obviously make sure that the card is 100% stable at the new speeds and corruption free. For flashing use nvFlash, make a clean MS-DOS boot floppy and copy the nvFlash util and BIOS to it, to flash just boot from it and type “nvflash modded.rom”

pict3562

Written by Per Hansson

February 8th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Why even pay for software? A declaration against poorly implemented DRM

with 37 comments

I’m guessing you wouldn’t usually expect me to make a post like this, but seriously, where is the incentive to pay for software these days? Yes, it is unfortunate how millions of people pirate software nowadays, but by now it has to be clear that there is little to nothing that can be done about it.

Those that can afford to buy software generally do pay for it, but I have found the hard way that it isn’t always worth it, and this is becoming truer as time goes on thanks to poorly implemented DRM (Digital Rights Management).

When Microsoft released Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit it was rather pricey, but I still went out and purchased two copies right away – one for me and one for testing. Although I have paid for the software I’m extremely tempted to avoid the genuine activation and simply crack it. But why would I do such a thing for software that I have paid good money for? Well, it’s simple. Because of the large number of people that pirate Windows, Microsoft has felt compelled to punish the suckers that actually buy it.

Hateful DRM practices jeopardize the end-user experience

Hateful DRM practices jeopardize the end-user experience

Every time I change a major piece of hardware I end up with a warning message informing me that I have two days to reactivate my copy of Windows. Okay, that’s not so bad. Just click re-activate then shall we. Hang on, that didn’t work, and now I have to ring the Microsoft support center based on India and try to communicate a 60+ digit code to someone I can barely understand. After that process is done I can finally use my computer again. Yay! Well… at least until I need to change/upgrade something again.

The alternative is to run a 20 second patch that removes the Microsoft activation altogether, meaning that I will never be inconvenienced again when upgrading, an inconvenience I apparently paid good money for. Again, the options: to pay for software that is going to have you pulling your hair out every time you change something, or get it for free without any of the catches.

Over the years the countless re-activations of my computers has not only improved my Indian accent, but also simply become a way of life.

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Written by Julio Franco

February 6th, 2009 at 3:41 am

No Windows 7 drivers yet? Try using Vista’s

with 45 comments

If you’re holding back from testing your copy of Windows 7 because you’re not sure what to do as far as device drivers are concerned, there is something you ought to know (if for some reason you didn’t until this point). Under the hood, Windows 7 is essentially the same as Windows Vista and as such Vista drivers will work just fine a majority of the time.

So, head to your hardware manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers available for Windows Vista – we also keep a healthy catalog of the latest drivers for graphics cards and other devices in our own drivers section.

After downloading the drivers, run the installation setup and follow the prompts as if you would any other time. If you are presented with any errors due to compatibility, cancel the installation, right click the on the install package’s .exe and choose “Troubleshoot Compatibility”.

troubleshoot-1

This will present you with a “Program Compatibility” wizard of sorts, which is a bit more friendly than on previous version of Windows.

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Written by Matthew DeCarlo

February 4th, 2009 at 4:49 am

How long’s it been since you last rebooted Windows?

with 41 comments

If you’ve ever wondered just how long your PC has been continuously running without a reboot and you are using Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista or 7, there are a couple of simple ways to obtain this information using tools built right into the OS.

Method 1: Windows NT/2000 and XP

Open up the command prompt (Start > Run > cmd > Enter/Ok). When the command prompt has loaded type “net stats srv” (or “net statistics server”). NT4 users (are there any, really?) need to download a special utility instead.

uptime-2

uptime-3

Method 2: Windows XP and beyond

Alternatively, you can use the command prompt to obtain system information, type “system info” which will also provide you with your PC’s uptime.

uptime-4

uptime-5

Method 3: Windows Vista and beyond

For those on Vista or Windows 7, things are a little easier (although the above will work just fine). Right click the taskbar and choose “Task Manager” or “Start Task Manager”. Head over to the “Performance” tab and on the bottom right of the window you ought to see your system uptime.

uptime-6

Also, should you so prefer, there are many other lightweight applications that will provide you with your system uptime. There’s a desktop gadget dedicated to that and here’s yet another alternative.

Feel free to share your current uptime in the comments below. Mine right now is at 47 hours, 51 minutes on Vista x64.

An updated version of this post and discussion can be found here.

Written by Matthew DeCarlo

January 22nd, 2009 at 7:05 am

Clear your browser cache, see TechSpot’s updated favicon

with one comment

Since we redesigned around mid last year, we updated our favicon to match our new looks. Now, whoever told you making a nice and sleek looking favicon was easy, they were blatantly lying!

As it turns out, it’s quite the challenge to turn up with something that looks good within 16×16 pixels, though I’m confident you will like our updated favicon as it looks distinctive, which is perhaps the most important attribute in a favicon when you are browsing around and switching tabs on Firefox, or accessing a bookmark from your favorite browser.

TechSpot new favicon

TechSpot new favicon

Google updated their favicon just a few weeks ago and we thought why don’t we as well? I got to work and came up with an improved version of the “T” favicon, adding a bit of a gradient/depth and rounded corners. Kudos to favicon.cc for making my life easier when porting the 16×16 image to .ico format.

Written by Julio Franco

January 19th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Windows 7 improved window management using the keyboard (hotkeys)

with 16 comments

You have probably heard already how Windows 7 simplifies and aids window management by letting you move and dock windows using the mouse, for example, dragging a window to the top edge will maximize it, or clicking on the right bottom corner will show the desktop. Now, you can do all this and many others using some equally useful keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys).

Brandon Paddock, who is one of Windows 7 Explorer developers, recently posted a complete list of Windows 7 hotkeys which I have copied below. I have also highlighted those which I believe are most useful and probably golden time-savers if you get to incorporate them into your day to day usage (though you will first need to use W7 as your primary OS for that).

Windows 7 Show desktop shortcut

Windows 7 Show desktop shortcut

General

Win+Up Maximize
Win+Down Restore / Minimize
Win+Left Snap to left
Win+Right Snap to right
Win+Shift+Left Jump to left monitor
Win+Shift+Right Jump to right monitor
Win+Home Minimize / Restore all other
windows
Win+T Focus the first taskbar entry
Pressing again will cycle through them, you can can arrow around.
Win+Shift+T cycles backwards.
Win+Space Peek at the desktop
Win+G Bring gadgets to the top of the Z-order
Win+P External display options (mirror, extend desktop, etc)
Win+X Mobility Center (same as Vista, but still handy!)
Win+#
(# = a number key)
Launches a new instance of the application in the Nth
slot on the taskbar.
Example: Win+1 launches first pinned app, Win+2 launches second, etc.
Win + +
Win + –
(plus or minus key)
Zoom in or out.

 

Explorer

Alt+P Show/hide Preview Pane

 

Taskbar modifiers
 

Shift + Click on
icon
Open a new instance
Middle click on icon Open a new instance
Ctrl + Shift + Click on icon Open a new instance with Admin privileges
Shift + Right-click on icon Show window menu (Restore / Minimize / Move
/ etc)
Note: Normally you can just right-click on the window thumbnail to get
this menu
Shift + Right-click on grouped icon Menu with Restore All / Minimize All /
Close All, etc.
Ctrl + Click on grouped icon Cycle between the windows (or tabs) in the
group

Written by Julio Franco

January 16th, 2009 at 6:32 am