Tag Archives: windows

Windows Metafile Preview on Windows 7

Works on my machine!The visual preview of files in Windows Explorer is one of the great features of Windows when looking for a certain file. Unfortunately, with Windows Vista Microsoft disabled the preview for Windows Metafile Format (.WMF) and Enhanced Metafile Format (.EMF) files. As I needed t work a lot with EMF files during my latest book project with Springer, I was looking for some way to enable the preview of the file types mentioned above in Windows Explorer.

Windows 7 without EMF/WMF preview

Fortunately, there is a great plugin called emfplugin written by Daniel Gehringer to enable the preview. The plugin is available for x32 and x64 machines and should work on both, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Once installed (and rebooted) the Windows Explorer is capable of displaying EMF and WMF files.

Windows Explorer EMF and WMF thumbnail preview plug-in

The plugin is licensed under the MIT license, so its safe to go with it. At the very end this raises the question why Microsoft did actually disable the preview for two formats developed by Microsoft itself and whether they might work with Windows 8 again.

Windows 8 Pricing

Windows 8 LogoBased on the blog entry from Brandon LeBlanc the Windows 8 Upgrade (via Windows.com) will probably be available for $39.99. This is quite a smart move by Microsoft as you get Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard from their store for about $29.00.

If the upgrade really works from Windows XP up to Windows 7, Microsoft might be possible to shift many users to the next generation of Windows. While the price for previous Windows upgrades was quite high, many users kept their former version of Windows until they bought a new personal computer, obtaining a new OEM version of Windows.

Nowadays, computers used at homes definitely last longer than the average Windows life cycle and quite a lot personal computers outside in the wild might see at least two version of Windows until being replaced.

Therefore, personally I welcome this move by Microsoft, considering to upgrade even more than one of my licenses to the new Windows version. Even though, this might be a strategic move by Microsoft to keep market share, existing customers definitely gain by the relatively low prices by upgrading even from previous Windows version. This might be quite an advantage as one has to buy each and every Mac OS version on the way upgrading from previous versions.

Restoring NT Backups using Windows 7

After a recent data loss, I had to restore several backups from various sources. Unfortunately, some of these backups were made on a Windows Server 2003 machine. However, it seems that Windows 7 does not come with any possibility to restore these backups out of the box, though.

The Windows NT Backup – Restore Utility seems to be the solution for this issue. During installation you might get the notification to turn on Removable Storage Management – on Windows Vista.

Enable Removable Storage Management Dialog

However, this is one of the features not available in Windows 7 anymore. Fortunately, Microsoft did release another version of this tool for Windows 7. Even the tool itself is now called Windows NT Backup Restore Utility for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2 you will find it only as Update for Windows 7 x64-based Systems (KB974674) on the Web – of course this would be the exactly what you are going to look for, yes?

Once downloaded the right bits and installed, you will see the familiar UI of the former backup tool.

Windows NT Backup Restore Utility for Windows 7 and for Windows Server 2008 R2

Simply follow the Restore Wizard to access your old backups.

DropBox with TrueCrypt on Lion and Windows

After receiving my new MacBook, I wanted to sync a whole set of files between both systems. For convenience, I decided to use DropBox instead of a thumb drive and for security reasons, I decided to use TrueCrypt to encrypt some of my confidential data within the DropBox folders.

Using a TrueCrypt container within DropBox is quite convenient as I am syncing my DropBox folders with various machines (e.g. at work). However, I do not want to access these file there nor do I want that an admin might check out my “oooh so secret” files (not saying they would, though).

DroppBox with TrueCrypt on Lion and Windows

With my rusty Mac OS kung-fu, I had to install TrueCrypt first. Of course, this failed and being the first app I did install on Lion, this was somewhat demotivating. Before you have install a version from MACFuse. It seems that the official version is not up to date, however, there are rumors you might use the latest version provided at Tuxera.com.

Once MACFuse and TrueCrypt are set up and the machine is rebooted, create a TrueCrypt container within DropBox. When creating on OS X Lion, you might want choose FAT for the containers file system so you can mount it on the Windows system as well. However, any change within this container will synchronize the container as a whole. Not being very efficient if this is a 256 MB file, it seems that one can turn of the timestamp of the TrueCrypt container to avoid syncing it. This will prevent that the container gets synced after files within the container are changes, however, the itself files are still updated. To turn it of, open TrueCrypt and select Settings / Preferences… chose the Security tab and uncheck the Preserve modifications timestamp of file container checkbox.

TrueCrypt Settings on OS X Lion

Of course, the same has to be done on your Windows system.

TrueCrypt Settings on Windows 7

Once both settings are applied, only the initial sync of the container will take some time. Thereafter, only the files within the container are updated. for me this seems to be a quite good solution to keep my boxes in sync and to avoid rubbernecks seeking through my private stuff. The setup is done quite easily, only the hassle with MACFuse was quite annoying.

The GPHWStatus Hack for the WWAN 5520 on a Dell D830

I just got a new (old) WWAN 5520 3G/UMTS card/modem for my Dell D830. Eventually, the card did not work out of the box without a hack. In the following  I will show what you need to do, if you want to get the card running in your Dell D830 (or maybe also any other older Dell Latitude or XPS machines).

WWAN 5520 First you need the card of course. Your Dell Latitude D830 (and many other older Dells) already has an empty slot for this card. Opening the cover (i.e. removing the keyboard) will reveal the slot for the card on the lower left of the case. The antenna cables should be already there, probably with a small protection on their end. It took me a few moments to realize which cable to plug where. One is marked white and the other is marked black, and the connectors show a large white and black arrow (actually, this was so obvious that I haven’t realized this right away).

Plug it in, close the lid and turn the computer on again (hopefully you did shut it down before). After starting Windows (if you read this blog you know we area talking about Windows 7 64-bit), Windows Update will take over – or at least it will try and glorious fail in finding any drivers.

Driver Software Installation

Never give up, never surrender as we are talking about Dell here. And as I learned recently about the missing touchpad driver, there might be a driver for everything else as well. Once again we go for a 64-bit driver for Windows Vista. In this case the Wireless Mobile Broadband MiniCard driver for Windows Vista 64-bit will do the job.

SNAGHTML7fabea

At Dell’s download site for communication drivers, there is a whole bunch of carrier specific drivers (Vodafone, Cingular, Telus and other carriers, I have never heard about before). It is not related to any carrier, so ignore anything with a carrier name in it.  Just to be sure, the driver we are looking for here is R159896.EXE.

The SIM card lives directly in the battery slot as you can see at Dell’s D830 Service Manual. Make sure the cut off corner goes the correct orientation and if you are using a contact (pay monthly) card, make sure the card is protected by a PIN. The battery slot is not secured, and if you don’t watch your laptop all the time… well, you never know. Maybe worth to know, the SIM in your Dell does not support hot-swapping, i.e. unlike e.g. the iPhone 3GS, you have to shut down your laptop before you insert the card.

Once built in, installed and inserted every bits and pieces, the Dell Mobile Broadband Card Utility will let you know:

No Service
SIM Not Found – Check Orientation

No, don’t turn off the laptop again, the orientation probably is right. There is a (not so obvious) solution to that.

No Service

Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to

ComputerHK_LOKAL_MACHINESOFTWAREWow6432NodeNovatel WirelessNextGenCommon

and change GPSHWStatus to 1. This means, the GPS chip on the card gets activated. For whatever reason, the chip is deactivated by the Dell drivers by default. However, if you activate the GPS chip, the entire card will be activated. It might be interesting to dig a bit deeper here, but for now it’s enough to know that it works.

GPSHWStatus Hack

Either reboot, or just quite and start the Broadband Card Utility again.

GPS-Status

By applying this GPHWStatus hack, not only the 3G card/model will now work, also the GPS hardware will be enabled and should available from the tool.

Dell D830 – The Missing Touchpad Driver

Since moving forward to Windows 7 x64 on my Dell Latitude D830, I had to live with the default behavior of the Touchpad and Pointing Stick of the D830 as there are no 64-bit drivers for Windows 7.

Finally, I found the right drivers for my system. You can pick it up at the Dell drivers and download page for the Dell Latitude D430. The is no explicit Windows 7 driver, however, the 64-bit driver for Windows Vista worked fine for me.

Dell Touchpad on D830 with  Windows 7 x64

To make sure you oick up the right driver, the file name is R157047. The driver gives you full access to the Touchpad and Pointing Stick functionality, including the click feature of the stick.

R157047.exe - 64-bit Driver working on Windows 7

Download: Drivers & Downloads for Latitude D430

Cleaning Up the Explorer ‘New’ Menu

If you are using your Windows machine for a while, it is inevitable that you install a whole bunch of Software. Especially a developer machine might end up with a lot of application and tools, you use for work or evaluation. This is the first article in a series of steps how to clean up your Windows machine, and to optimize your personal workflow.

Some tool that come with support for a particular file extension might extend the Windows Explorer ‘New’ sub menu. In my case I currently ended up with about 20 entries, while I regularly use only two or three of them. Most if them I barely touch. To minimize noise and to speed up your personal workflow you might want to get rid of some of them and renaming others. E.g. all Office documents are usually prefixed with ‘Microsoft’ while you might just want to see them as ‘Word Document’  or ‘Excel Document’.

Insert New Menu

 

To modify these entries, you eventually would use the Registry Editor. Each entry is located in the registry using its own key at:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.[fileExtension]ShellNew

However, maintaining this list is rather time-consuming task and no fun at all.  After some investigation I found a very nice freeware tool called ShellMenuNew from NirSoft that eventually does the job for you. It’ is a small tool which does not need to be installed and can be used straight away.

ShellMenuNew

By right-clicking any of the entries you can select ‘Disable Selected Menu Items’. Once you open up the ‘New’ submenu in Windows Explorer the menu should be look much tidier.

In case you change your mind, you can always start ShellMenuNew again and enable the file extensions again. The tool worked nicely on my x64 Windows 7. Regarding the author’s website it should also work on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/2008, and Windows Vista. Solved this task,  the renaming of the entries is still pending.

Modified Windows Explorer 'New' File Menu

Also here a small freeware tool comes in handy. Default Programs Editor provides a set of functionality to edit file type settings, autoplay settings and default programs settings. Also this tool can be sued straight away and does not need any installation.

Default Programs Editor

Default Programs Editor lets you easily change any kinds of associations with respect to files extension. Using the ‘File Type Settings’ you can select the ‘Description’, search for the file type you want to rename and finally change the file type description.

Using those two tools it is possible to minimize noise in your working environment without hacking the registry manually.

KB967723 vs Windows Server 2008

I recently experienced issue installing security update KB967723 for Windows Update on a Windows Server 2008 (32-bit). This seems to be a very common issue with Windows Server 2008 resulting in a error code 80070490.

KB967723 important update was not installed

The easiest way is getting the update from the Microsoft Download Center for 32-bit or for 64-bit directly. Once you get the update you can execute the standalone installer to install the security update manually. This should do the job.

KB967723 Standalone Installer

Once installed you can start Windows Update again, it should now show Windows being up to date. Let me know if this worked for you.

Windows up to date

Fixing Wrong USB Devices in Windows 7

If you experience issues with a USB device not being recognized under Windows 7, there might be a simple solution to solve this. For example the MSI USB 2.0 All IN 1 Card Reader aka MSI StarReader is recognized as eHome Infrared Receiver (USBCIR) using Windows 7. The device works great using Windows Vista or even the Windows 7 pre-release versions. Unfortunately, with the final Windows 7 the device just won’t work.

MSI USB 2.0 All IN 1 Card Reader A quick look into the Device Manager will show that the device is recognized as eHome Infrared Receiver (USBCIR). When connecting the first time Windows 7 won’t give any notice that the installation of the driver failed or that the device is not ready to use. It will simply not work.

Device Manager

This seems to be known problem, however, there is no need to wait for a Software Update from Microsoft. The solution is to manually choose the device.

  1. Start Device Manager
  2. Right-click the eHome Infrared Receiver (USBCIR) entry
  3. Select Update Driver Software
  4. Choose Browse my computer for driver software
  5. Choose Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
  6. Make sure the Show compatible hardware box is checked
  7. Select the USB Composite Device and you are done

Show compatible hardware

After a few seconds the driver should be installed and the device should be ready.

Driver Software Installation