Make Your DVD or Blu-ray Player Region-Free

February 22nd, 2015

Unlock DVD Blu-ray RegionThis one is a lot of fun: You borrow a DVD from a friend, or you buy one online somewhere.

You stick it in your player.

And then, disaster strikes!

You get a message like “Region not allowed”, and the movie won’t play.

WTH?!

Welcome to the glorious world of Region Codes!

Sometimes, it’s possible to bypass this restriction, but it depends on your DVD/Blu-ray player.

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Computers, How Does it Work? , , ,

Why the Responsive Web Site Design is Dying

February 15th, 2015

The Almighty Grid!Oh boy… This is one of those topics that everybody loves to talk about. People either love it, or they hate it. I’m talking about so-called “responsive” web design.

A responsive web site will automatically adjust its layout based on the screen or device being used to view it. So, when I view a responsive site on my desktop puter, it will look one way.

But when I view the same site on my smartphone, the different parts of the site will rearrange and modify themselves so I that I get a “mobile-friendly browsing experience.”

There are several problems with this responsive approach.

The number one problem is that it doesn’t make any sense at all when you really think about…

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Computers , ,

An Intro to Mail Servers and How E-mail Works

February 8th, 2015

E-mail rocks?Everybody uses e-mail. It’s great.

Not everybody understands exactly how e-mail works, and even fewer people have ever tried to set up a mail server. For those of you who have, I can pretty much guarantee you that you’re doing something wrong.

Even if you aren’t setting up your own mail server, you really should understand the limitations of e-mail, especially in terms of security.

So, in this post I’ll try to give a simple and quick intro to e-mail and mail servers

If you are an admin looking for a postfix or exim “quick answer” that you can copy and paste, you must read this more than anyone!

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Computers, How Does it Work?, Networking , ,

Bad Computer Power Supply? Maybe not!

January 25th, 2015

Computer Power ButtonYou know the drill: You turn on your puter, and it doesn’t boot, beep, or do anything else. What it does do is power itself off again after a second or two.

Or… Your puter works fine, but it spontaneously enjoys turning itself off.

Whatever could be the matter?

Naturally, the first thing you’ll think of (because you’re a genius) is that something is broken – and you’ll probably guess that it’s the power supply.

Not so fast! There’s one thing you need to check first before you invest time and money replacing a bad power supply…

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Computers, Do-It-Yourself , ,

How to Clean a Laptop with a Noisy Fan

January 18th, 2015

One day, you turn on your laptop. Maybe noThere's a better way...thing happens, or maybe you get some error message about fan speed, or maybe you just get a “system halted” message. Then again, perhaps your computer works just fine, but it’s starting to sound like a vacuum cleaner because the fans are running at full blast!

At this point, you may be inclined to freak out. But don’t go there just yet…

If this sounds familiar, it’s because you probably read my earlier post, How to Clean the Inside of a Desktop Computer. This edition is specifically for laptops.

Usually, cleaning the fan and heat sink inside your laptop is a lot easier than you might think.

With a few dollars and a bit of bravery, you can “dust” inside your laptop (without taking it apart, hopefully) even if you don’t know anything about how computers work.

If you can dust your house, you can dust your lappy!

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Computers, Do-It-Yourself , ,

How to Clean the Inside of a Desktop Computer

December 30th, 2014

Dust your Desktop Computer!One day, you turn on your computer. Maybe nothing happens, or maybe you get some error message about fan speed, or maybe you just get a “system halted” message. Then again, perhaps your computer works just fine, but it’s starting to sound like a jet engine because the fans are running at full blast!

At this point, you may be inclined to freak out. But don’t go there just yet…

There’s one thing most people don’t think about, and that is the fact that computers produce heat. Heat is bad for electronics, so the computer is cooled by heat sinks and fans. Fans and heat sinks get dirty, and eventually clogged. Oops!

With a few dollars and a bit of bravery, you can “dust” inside your computer even if you don’t know anything about how computers work.

If you can dust your house, you can dust your puter!

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Computers, Do-It-Yourself , , ,

Work smarter, not harder

December 7th, 2014

Dang, I'm smurt!And now for something completely different…

The greatest “technology” you own is one you probably never even think about, although you do think with it: your brain!

Your mind is capable of solving all sorts of problems.

Usually, you use your brain the old fashioned way: you brute force your way through a problem.

This typically requires hours of concentration, struggling, and quite often much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And let’s face it, if I tell you a fabulous way to make your computer do more for you, you’ll be happy as a clam.

Why not optimize your brain while you’re at it? So, how do you work smarter, and not harder?

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How Does it Work? ,

Pin folders to the taskbar in Windows

November 16th, 2014

Pin a folder in Windows 7This is one of those Windows tricks that you probably didn’t even know existed.

Usually, the Explorer icon is visible on the Taskbar.

That’s great for opening Explorer and navigating to whatever folder you need.

But what if you want to maintain a list of commonly-used folders without clogging up your desktop with a bunch of shortcuts?

It turns out there’s a quick and easy solution for this very problem.

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Computers , , ,

Repair missing User folders in Windows 7

November 11th, 2014

At some point, you’ll probably run into a problem that doesn’t seem to have an easy solution: one of your default User folders in Windows 7 (My Documents, My Pictures, My Music, My Videos, Downloads, and Desktop) will suddenly disappear.

Try as you might, you won’t be able to restore these user folders, because they are actually “special”. Windows treats them differently than a normal folder you might create yourself, and they even have pretty icons, like so:


There is a lot of info out there on how to fix these built-in Windows 7 folders, but it’s all rather complicated.

So, here’s the boiled-down, anybody-can-do-it version on how to restore your missing User folders – or so I hope!

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Computers ,

Android: Copy everything from one device to another

November 2nd, 2014

My Backup Pro - SHABAM!Let’s say you get a new phone or tablet, and both are running Android. You’d like to copy everything from your old device to your new one. How do you do it?

Well, certainly there are more hardcore methods of migrating all your data. Most of these methods require “rooting” your device, and are probably a bit too involved for most people.

Of course, if you back everything up on the Google Cloud, so to speak, most things will easily transfer from one gizmo to another.

But, not everybody likes Big Brother storing everything and synchronizing it automagically. I certainly don’t!

The easiest option I have found is one you have to pay for – but at only a few dollars, it’s a fabulous deal…

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Gizmos , , ,