Page 1 of 4 in the Windows7 category Next Page
# Thursday, 07 March 2013

WP_20130305_007

With great fear of it being not supported I bought a SanDisk Ultra 64GB Micro SDXC card to use in my Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro, the main reason being I was all too familiar when the shift from SD to SDHC and having to worry if the card can be read in the slot or not.

According to it’s Wikipedia entry, guess I shouldn’t have been that worried.

Basically, an SDXC card is the same as an SDHC card just that it has a capacity limit of 2TB. The issue of compatibility is more on the software side, as SDXC cards are formatted to the exFAT file system by default. Most modern Operating Systems would have support for this format.

The other bullet point is of course, in your typical SDHC slot the maximum read/write speeds of an SDXC card cannot be achieved.

All in all, it’ll work fine in Windows, maybe not up to full speeds depending on the reader card slot but you’ll still be able to use it.


Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:31:33 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 22 February 2013

There are now many thin Windows based Ultrabooks and Windows Tablets running on SSDs, for budget reasons you might have bought one with limited storage. Say 32GB or 64GB and had hoped to expand your storage via other means, either by the use of SD cards, slim form factor USB drives, or some other cheap expandable storage. But after a while you'll realize a very serious limitation to such an upgrade path. Quite a few programs will detect if they're being installed to or running from a removable media and refuse to work in such a manner.

Luckily there is a way around this limitation, which is through the use of a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) file. A VHD is a file that represents an entire disk, hence it's name.

It's easy to create a VHD file, just press the Windows key to bring up the Start screen or menu depending on wheter you're in Windows 8 or Windows 7 and type Disk Management into the search box. You'll see an option called Create And Format Hard Disk Partitions select that. (In Windows 8, the option is under the Settings category of the search results).

image

In the Disk Management program, click on Action -> Create VHD.

image

You'll then be presented with a dialog box to decide on what kind of VHD to make.

image

Use the Browse button to select where to create the VHD file, you should probably choose to directly create the VHD file on the USB stick or SD card to save the time to move the file onto it later.

Specify the size of the VHD file under Virtual Hard Disk Size. This CANNOT be changed once so make up your mind about it.

IMPORTANT NOTE : Due to the difference in how storage manufacturers and the OS calculates free space, remember to ALWAYS give a buffer of around 10% from the stated capacity of your media if you're not creating the file on it directly. For example if you have a 32GB thumb drive, you should specify 29GB (10% of 32GB being 3.2GB) as the size of your VHD file. Also note that you'll need to format your storage media to NTFS or exFAT instead of FAT32 in order to support extremely large files.

Under Virtual Hard Disk Type make sure it's FIXED.

Press OK and then go grab a snack or something, cause it'll take a while to make the disk depending on the size you wanted.

image

Once the VHD is ready you should see it in the bottom section of disk management. It should be at the bottom of the list so you might need to scroll down to see it. If you don't see it, then under the Action menu where you selected Create VHD previously, select Attach VHD and select the file you created.

image

It'll be the one that has the Not Initialized words on it, and of course it'll be of the size you specified. Right Click on it and select Initialize Disk.

image

Leave all the options as default in the next dialog and just press OK. The disk will now be ready as a basic disk.

image

Right Click in the Unallocated area and select New Simple Volume.

image

A dialog with a few pages will pop up, the first is a greetings screen, the second...

image

Is for you to confirm the formatted size of the volume, by default it should already be the maximum capacity which is what you should keep it as. The next dialog is important.

image

It'll ask you for the drive letter you want to assign to this drive. You should assign a drive letter that's near the end of the alphabet if you plan on permanently using the VHD in this PC. The next screen will ask you about formatting parameters.

image

Just leave everything on default, but give it a Volume Label if you'd like. Click on next and then finish up the wizard and wait a while for it to format, once completed the new drive letter will appear in the status display and Windows Explorer.

image

So... you now have a virtual hard drive that for all intent and purpose IS a real hard drive to Windows. So you can do anything you want to it, install programs on it, back it up using file history, etc. etc.

But there's a slight problem, the VHD goes away everytime you reboot your system. It'll stay in your system if you do a standby or hibernate as long as the media the VHD is on isn't removed from the system when it wakes up. Which means that you'll need to reattach the VHD everytime you reboot the PC.

Running into Disk Management everytime you reboot your PC isn't the most convenient thing to do. So what you need is a quicker method to mount the VHD files.

Here are two batch files which automate the process of mounting the VHD

Update You dont' need this if you're using Windows 8, double clicking on a VHD file will mount them even if the OS says there was a problem doing so!

Single VHD AutoMount Script

Multi VHD AutoMount Script

To use the SINGLE VHD script, copy it to the same folder as your VHD file, and rename it to the same name as the VHD file. ie. If the VHD name is mainvhd.vhd the batch file name is mainvhd.bat. Double click to run and mount the VHD

The MULTI VHD script will mount ALL VHD FILES IN THE SAME FOLDER as the script file itself, it's basically for anyone who doesn't know how to rename a file properly... although if you fall in that group you probably shouldn't be doing this. Smile with tongue out

Note that you still need Administrator rights to mount the VHD.

Hope this super long post gave you some help on how to deal with the relatively limited capacity of your Windows Tablet / Ultrabook! On a last note, writing to a VHD on an external storage should be slower than directly writing directly to the storage itself, but I don't find it that much of a problem, your mileage may wary depending on the performance of your media.


Friday, 22 February 2013 00:20:51 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 22 January 2012

There I was trying to setup a Dell Latitude ST Slate (more on this later) for use as a OneNote note taking PC. The idea was to have it sync to a OneNote notebook that was sitting up in the cloud on SkyDrive. Everything was working out until I actually opened the OneNote notebook on Skydrive. The Windows Live Login popped up and I was greeted with this.

blanklive

A totally black screen instead of the typical Windows Live login window. Using the ever so useful ProcessMonitor I was able to figure out that the Windows Live login window was running using the .Net WPF runtime. WPF is a neat set of technologies, but relied on the fact that your video drivers are doing what they’re supposed to be doing properly.

Search on the Internet enough and you’ll realize that Intel DOESN’T exactly do what you call a good job in the video driver aspect.

I first tried the obvious approach which was to install the latest video drivers for the GMA 600 on the Latitude ST, but I was ALREADY running on the latest video drivers.

So I tried to disable WPF’s use of hardware acceleration but turning it off in the registry as mentioned here.  But that still didn’t work. Again using ProcessMonitor to look into how the program was accessing the registry I could see that the program wasn’t even LOOKING at the disable hardware acceleration setting!

I was about to throw in the towel over this issue when I decided to switch ProcessMonitor to see what "WindowsLive" related items where being opened by the program. And then I saw IT! The Windows Live login window tried to look for a very interestingly named registry key.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\UX\LayerManagerSoftwareRendering

Software rendering? OH YES PLEASE!! I quickly edited/inserted the value into the registry to the most sensible value of 1

livereg

And then finally..

fulllive

So much work because of a farked up driver… BAD INTEL, BAD!

If you're facing the same problems and don't know how to edit the registry, here's a link to the exported registry key. Just download and open it to merge it with your registry.

Registry File To Enable Software Rendering For Window Live Client


Sunday, 22 January 2012 17:26:05 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 05 November 2011

Now, before you get too excited if you came in here following a search query. I have a very specific scenario that I’m trying to solve. And the solution isn’t as simple as getting Live Mesh to directly work with a folder in removable storage.

The situation is this, on my main machine for mobile use. My sweet Fujitsu T580 I don’t store any of my user documents on the hard drive. Instead as mentioned in this previous post when I was using the Asus T101MT, I choose to store the files in a BitLocker’ed SD Card. In part due for security purposes, and also because I only got a 32GB SSD for the T580, so the SD Card offloads some of the storage duties from the SSD.

So after a while I decided I wanted to use Live Mesh to keep some files synced between the T580 and my main work laptop. Then of course the problem arised namely.

Windows Live Mesh doesn’t support synching a folder on a removable device.

So I thought cheat the system like what I did with OneNote and use MKLINK to redirect a folder on C to the SD card. But Live Mesh was going to have none of that and complained about it.

I didn’t want to sync the data to the SSD since I didn’t want to break the nice little setup I had on the T580 where my main user files were all on the SD card. So I didn’t think too much of it until I suddenly had an inspired idea yesterday.

What if I synched a folder within a Virtual Disk File (VHD) that’s sitting in the SD card?

One little problem with the setup is that Live Mesh fails spectacularly when the VHD isn’t mounted when you start the program, but other than that little caveat… I DID manage to sync files on a USB drive to Live Mesh, albeit I did it in a very indirect manner.

I’m not posting the actual steps here because

  1. I don’t think anyone else has the same usage scenario as I do
  2. If they did, they should know about how to create and mount a VHD file

If anyone actually wants the steps to get this going, drop a note in the comment area then.


Saturday, 05 November 2011 21:50:19 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 03 September 2011

This post collects all the important Windows 7 Tablet PC posts I have posted on my blog for easy referencing.

The Windows 7 Tablet PC Optimization Guide
If you have a Windows 7 Tablet PC and you want to know how to use it more effectively, this is where you want to go.

A Touch Optimized Windows 7 Theme
Have no time to go through the guide above, just download this theme and make your Windows 7 Tablet PC more touch friendly in a snap. Still not an excuse to skip the guide above!

Why Doesn't Windows Show Me What Keys I Pressed During Password Entry
A solution to a quirk/feature of how the Windows Virtual Keyboard behaves when you're entering passwords.

Browsing Effectively With IE9 via Touch
Some tricks you should know when browsing the net with IE9 using only your fingers.

The Windows 7 Tablet PC Experience
Don't have a Windows 7 Tablet PC yet, and wondering how the experience is? Check out this post for videos on both the good AND bad experiences of a Windows 7 Tablet PC

Why A Windows 7 Tablet PC Will Never Be 'Better' Than An Apple iPad
A post discussing the topic above.

Why Desktop Browsers Don't Smooth Zoom Like Mobile/Tablet Browsers
Points out why a desktop browser running on Windows DOES NOT smooth zoom like on things like an Apple iPad, why this is the case and why smooth zoom in a browser is not a performance measurement.


Saturday, 03 September 2011 01:20:51 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 07 August 2011

And so... another year, another attempt to get the ultimate meeting Tablet PC. The Asus T101MT generally worked well but with palm rejection mode on, writing on the screen had some irritating problems every now and then, but since I had no other choice at the time I lived with it. And of course, now I've find a replacement. The Fujitsu T580

DSC00824

Once again I've gone with the convertible form factor.

DSC00825

The Fujitsu T580 again falls under the portable notebook category with it's 10" screen, for general tech specs you can refer to the Fujitsu Product information site. So what made me decide to get the T580?

Hybrid Digtizer

DSC00817

The NUMBER ONE reason is that the T580 has a hybrid digitizer, so not only does it have a 4 point capacitive multi touch screen, it has a honest to god DIGITIZER, which means writing on the screen with the digitizer pen is FANTASTIC.... Except for 2 problems.

The first problem is that I can't figure out how the digitizer works, wheter it's magnetic reasonance (inference.. or whatever) like a Wacom pen or ultra sound like this pen I once had. Why am I even interested in how it works? Because sometimes the pen goes crazy (once so far) and acts like I never lifted it up from the screen, and this was exactly how crazy the old ultrasound pen would get when it had too much interference. Some people attribute it to N-Trig's (the OEM provider for the pen) QA problems with manufacturing the pens but I'm not too sure about that.

The second problem is that the pen is powered, while don't mind having a powered pen. The problem is that the power source that the pen uses is a AAAA battery, no I didn't spell it wrongly, I DID say A A A A. Here's how it looks sitting next to a AAA.

DSC00816

Yes, I also didn't know AAAA batteries existed till when the Tablet PC was first launched and the Compaq models used them. It seems like they decided to go with AAAA because of it's slimmer profile in order to be able to make it small enough to fit inside the pen silo

DSC00819

Having the pen kept inside the device is always a good thing no matter what Steve Jobs said. That said, I do have one worry about the T580's pen silo, it seems to hold the pen via friction instead of any lock mechanism so I do wonder how long would it last.

So where do you BUY AAAA batteries? Well, I've found ONE shop in Malaysia that actually stocks them... I should go buy a pack for emergencies even though they mentioned one battery last a year.

The other method of getting AAAA like batteries is to butcher a 9V battery.

WP_000299

A 9V battery consists of 6 1.5V cells that are slightly shorter than a AAAA battery, the polarity points are usually reversed, not ALL of them salvaged this way can be used in the pen but at least I have a way to get some in a pinch.

Power in a tiny package

Even though it has the tiny footprint of a 10" notebook, the T580 comes equipped with a Intel Core i5 1.3Ghz, which can turbo boost to 2.0Ghz under load. That's enough to do pretty much any work I have for it! While the powerful processor might turn out to be a power hog and shorten battery life, I created a special power profile which I use during meetings which puts the maximum processor performance at 45% and STILL it runs OneNote pretty well and have about 3.5 hours of battery life.

One interesting added advantage about all that power is that the integrated Intel HD graphics GPU is DirectX 10 compliant (compliant, doesn't mean it has great performance) And therefore the system is more than capable of running the Windows Phone 7 emulator, that coupled with the availability of a multitouch capable touchscreen means the T580 is an ideal Windows Phone 7 development machine, because with a multitouch device you can debug multitouch code on the Windows Phone 7 emulator itself without the need for an actual device!

The Extras

The T580 comes with a built in 3G modem, evident by the presence of a flat little antennae on the top of the screen.

DSC00826

Which means I could just turn off the normal Wi-Fi radios to save power.

DSC00841

At least I could IF turning of the wireless switch didn't turn off WiFi, Bluetooth AND the 3G modem as well. Luckily through the use of Fujitsu's own Power Saving Utility applet I am able to selectively turn off WiFi and Bluetooth radios only.

Another added surprise is that the T580's SATA hard disk slot is easily accesible.

DSC00840

I immediately splurged on a 64GB SSD to replace the 500GB Hard Disk that it came with so that I don't have to worry about any problems that moving around a spinning hard disk might cause.

Summary

The Fujitsu T580 was not my first choice as a replacement for my Asus T101MT, I was initially looking at the sleek Fujitsu Q550 Slate Tablet PC, but all the enterprise features which Fujitsu put in it pushed the price up to a level which I was not comfortable to get something just to work as my notepad, since that is what the Q550's main responsibility would have been cause its powered by an Intel Atom CPU. Where as with the Fujitsu T580, I have a complete ultra portable development machine to work with.

My usage of Tablet PCs are always compared to the iPad, and people have always mocked the weight and thickness of my convertibles. But it's ok, my Tablet PCs allow me to get actual work done so I don't care too much about that any more.


Sunday, 07 August 2011 00:17:07 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 03 August 2011

One thing which I just realized I missed out in my Windows Tablet PC optimization article is the little quirk of a feature which the Windows Tablet PC Soft Keyboard has, is that when you’re trying to enter a password in a text entry field that PROPERLY identifies itself as a password field to Windows, the soft keyboard WILL NOT show you what key you’ve pressed. This is obviously a security feature to stop people from trying to steal a peek at your passwords when you’re entering them.

It’s also one of those annoying security features more so with a touch screen because there’s literally ZERO FEEDBACK from the keyboard indicating you pressed a key.

Luckily its easy enough to fix. Just head on over to the Options menu on the Input Panel.

options

Then in the Options dialog which opens, select the Advanced tab, then drag the slider to the MEDIUM setting. (By default this should be at medium high)

passwordsetting

This will make the keys on the keyboard flash when you touch them, but still keep the mouse cursor hidden so there’s still some protection from prying eyes. Experiment with the various other settings on the slider to see if there’s any other setting you prefer.

Update : seems like this doesn’t work with the Windows lock screen’s keyboard. Pity..


Wednesday, 03 August 2011 22:17:37 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Here's a guide on the settings I use so that my Asus T101MT Netbook is a formidable video playback device capable of watching 720P video content.

First of all you're gonna need to download a few things

  • Media Player Classic Home Cinema Edition - This is the video player program which I use. NOT VLC.
  • FFDShow Video Codec - I don't trust any codec pack or what not, those just tend to mess up the DirectShow filters which you need to use to watch videos through the DirectShow architecture. Go to the link and then select the MOST RECENT generic build and you should be fine.
  • Real Alternative - If you need to watch RMVB video files, you need to install this or.. god forbid.. Real Player itself.
  • Latest DirectX Update - You'll need this for Media Player Classic
  • Latest Display Card Drivers - Ensure that your video card drivers are up to date.

Note that this is for playing local video files, and not YouTube, Hulu or what not. That said just remember this mantra before starting.

Software Decoding Of Video Data Is VERY Processor Intensive And I'm Trying To Do It On My Wee Little Netbook!

By taking note of this, remember that if you're going to watch 720P video on your netbook ensure that

  • No other programs are running - Web browsers especially, not because they hog memory when you have lots of tabs opened but more because we don't want any errant plugins *cough* Flash *cough* stealing precious CPU cycles. You want to multitask while watching a 720P video, get a better Notebook!
  • Always run at full performance - Some netbooks have a power throttling/battery life enhancement program running that slows down the processor when running in battery mode. So remember to always set it to FULL POWER if you're watching a movie while on battery power.

First off we'll deal with the settings in Media Player Classic, open the Options window (View->Options)

image

From the left item list, select Output, Under DirectShow Video, select EVR Custom Pres, if you want to you can select Nearest Neighbour as the resizer which gives a SLIGHT speed boost by sacrificing video quality.

Next select the Internal Filters item on the left.

image

Under Transform Filters find H264 and uncheck the options, this will get Media Player Classic to use the newer FFDShow codecs installed in the system instead of it's internal one.

Click on the OK button to close the Options dialog, and then RESTART Media Player Classic.

Open your H.264 content and then as it is playing check your tray icons.

image

You should see the FFV icon which indicates the FFDShow codec is in use, if not, double check on the Internal Filters and make sure you've disabled the built in H.264 codecs.

These settings work VERY well on my Asus T101MT, there are some problems that I haven't solved though

  • Weird inconsistencies when trying to pause the video stream, pause button doesn't work sometimes. Have to tap the space bar a few times, wait a while, then try it again to pause the video stream.
  • Trying to seek into a point on the video stream might be a bit slow and irresponsive.

That's my settings for my Netbook, and it might work for yours so try it out!


Tuesday, 28 June 2011 00:40:39 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 02 April 2011

After looking at the Acer Iconia Tab today and again shaking my head in disgust that Acer didn't optimize their Windows enviroment for touch use. It suddenly hit me that I could just create a Windows 7 Theme file for the touch optimized settings which I talk about in my Windows 7 Touch Optimization article so people could just apply it and immediately be on step closer to a better touch experience.

So here it is.

Windows 7 Touch Optimized Theme.

Note that I always believe that these touch optimizations should be tailored to a person's personal usage so do remember to check out the touch optimization article even after you apply the theme!


Saturday, 02 April 2011 23:17:28 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Some of you out there are probably using the ReadyBoost function of Windows with a USB flash drive to accelerate your system cache performance, maybe you just use some old, quick random access capable drive you just have around like this.

DSC00545

Large, unsightly and since it's sticking out like a sore thumb, moving your notebook around with it connected would probably be inviting some sort of trouble.

So you go out and get a smaller thumb drive.

DSC00546

Yes, its much smaller so instead of a sore thumb, you have a sore pinky sticking out the side of your notebook.

This is the main reason why I don't use ReadyBoost on my Asus Tablet, it's kinda dangerous to have something juting out when you're likely to change the holding orientation of the device frequently. And since my SD card slot is used to bit locker my OneNote files.

If only there was a USB drive that just sat snugly into the port and got out of the way like what those wireless mice use now! If only…

DSC00548

Oh… why hello there! What's this lovely little thing? This is Verbatim's Store And Stay USB Drive and as you can see, it's exactly as advertised.

DSC00549

8GB of storage in a tiny compact form factor that doesn't get in the way of day to day operations. EXTREMELY delighted that this thing had sufficient performance to handle ReadyBoost duties! (Granted, every notebook's USB bus might be slightly different so while it works for my Asus it might not work for your notebook)

It's not much more expensive than your typical 8GB USB drive, if you do use ReadyBoost with a USB drive I'd STRONGLY recommend it (with the above caveat of course) Heck.. if you just need 8GB of storage for something and would like it to be there all the time… this looks like a great solution. Now I need to see if I can find a 16GB one.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011 01:18:07 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
Page 1 of 4 in the Windows7 category Next Page