Category Archives: How To

How to Open and Use Windows 7 Themes in Windows XP

monitor-colors-ico I have Windows 7 on one of my computers, however, I spend the majority of my time using Windows XP, both at home and at work. Recently, I saw a very nice Win7 theme and I wanted to use the wallpapers on my WinXP netbook. This made me dig into how Win7 themes are made and how they work.

You can find the official Windows 7 themes at Microsoft:

themepack-downloads

There are plenty of other places to get Windows 7 Themes, and we’ve written about some of them. As an example, let’s take a look at a theme we posted about recently.

Here’s the FIFA 2010 World Cup Windows 7 Theme by EA Sports.

When you download the theme in Windows XP, you’ll see that there is no program associated with it to open the file. So how can you open it up?

themepack-file

There are at least two ways, first lets try the easy method. Rename the file and add the extension .CAB to the end of it.

image

Now you’ll see that Windows XP recognizes this file type (hopefully). Double click it and the CAB file will open in an Explorer window.

themepack-opened-as-cab

Copy the JPG files into your My Pictures folder or some other place and you can use them as wallpapers. Sometimes, there are also cursor and sound files that you can use if you wish. As far as I know, there isn’t much you can do with the THEME file you’ll find in a Windows 7 themepack.

If you can’t open up the CAB file because Windows doesn’t recognize it, you can use a third party program to open it. I recommend 7zip. Once it’s installed, you can right click on any themepack file and extract it to a local folder.

Now you know about as much as I do about Windows 7 themepack files. Be sure to tell me if you know a little bit more about these files that you think is useful. (comment below)


How to Convert Flac files to MP3

[Windows] Among committed audiophiles, the flac file format is a pretty popular one when it comes to audio file storage. There is a significant difference between a flac audio file and a conventional mp3 file — the standard for audio players these days, and that is sound quality. However, one can only detect that difference when using powerful audio gear, the likes of which music producers and DJs use. In contrast, an mp3 file is a compressed, small-size file that is convenient to store and carry but for which they compromise quality. Also, Flac files have a huge file-size difference, for they aren’t compressed and have a higher bitrate.

If you have downloaded or just gotten a cd full of flac music tracks and find it inconvenient to store such huge files, or want to transfer them to an audio player compatible with mp3 files but not flac, this is your guide to follow. Also note, that the method used here applies only to Windows users.

We’ll be using the free Foobar2000 media player and the LAME encoder for the conversion process.

After you have installed Foobar2000, and have it running, open the flac file(s) which you want to convert. Then right click on those tracks and select Convert → Convert to.. You’ll get a box like this:

Converter Setup

Now this is the place where you can select what conversion properties you would like to apply to the selected files. From the Output Format box, select Mp3. Then click the box beside it with three dots. Over here, you can further customize the quality of the mp3s obtained.

MP3 Settings

Slide the bar to select the quality and bitrate of the soon-to-be obtained mp3 files. Evidently, if you move the slider to the left, the file size will be lesser, comprising the quality and if you move it to the right, the files will have better quality compromising with a high file size. Make your choice. Then click OK.

Now you should be back to the Converter Setup window. Here, select an output folder and decide the file naming structure. You can also create a music mix by checking the Merge all tracks into one output file checkbox. When you’re done, click the OK button.

Now, Foobar2000 in order to convert the flac files, needs an encoder. This is where the LAME encoder we downloaded before comes into action. Whichever mirror you used to download, make sure it has a lame.exe in it (or something like lame_xx_xxx.exe) Right here, we only need the lame.exe file. Extract it from the download, and save it somewhere you will remember — the desktop for instance.

Just when you click the OK button, Foobar2000 will ask you where you have the lame.exe file stored. An explorer browser will open, through which you must find the required lame.exe file and proceed. The conversion process will then start and you will see a window like this:

greenshot_2010-06-08_01-01-01

Note: Playing the files while the conversion is in process can cause problems.

Further Information: Converting files from the flac format to the mp3 format will decrease the size phenomenally, but it may also cause reduction in quality. So make sure you are satisfied with the resulting files before disposing off the original flacs.

How To Use aDosBox on Android Phones Without Physical Keyboard

I got hold of an HTC Legend as my first Android phone last week and I have quite enjoyed using it. Though recently, I thought of trying out something cool on my phone and I recalled that there was a blog on running Windows 3.1 on Android.

A bit of googling took me to this page and I thought of trying this out. I installed aDosBox and ran the application to see that I could not bring up the keyboard on this application! However, it  occurred  to me that only if I could type into aDosBox by some other method, this would work. Some more searching on the market took me to an app which does exactly what I wanted. These are the steps I followed and with the same, you can type into aDosBox or any other emulator which does not bring up the default keyboard on your Android phone.

  1. First, download and install aDosBox from this page as it is not available on the market yet.
  2. Next, install an app named Wi-Fi Keyboard from the android market.wifi-keyboard
  3. Now, enable it by going to Settings > Language and Keyboard and selecting Wifi Keyboard.
  4. Next, you need to change the text input method to Wifi Keyboard. To do that, bring up a text area and long press into the text box. You will get an option to select the input method. Select Wifi Keyboard on the next screen.
  5. Now, switch on the Wi-Fi on your phone and connect to a network to which you PC will connect.

That will set up your phone to receive text inputs from your PC and completes the first part of the tutorial. Next, you need to connect your PC over Wi-Fi and navigate to the URL:

http://117.99.7.227:7777

in a browser. You will see this page.

wifi-keyboard-desktop

This sets up your computer for sending text inputs.

Coming back to aDosBox, run it and you will see the DosBox screen. With the browser opened at the same time on your PC, you can send text and command inputs to your phone.

adosbox-android-dosbox

To bring up “:”, press “alt + H”. Try other combination for some other characters which do not appear normally. This will be needed to mount folders as drives.

On an ending note, I could not run Windows 3.1 on my phone as aDosBox simply crashed every time I issued win.com. Though, the attempt was thrilling in itself and I enjoyed trying.

Launch Incognito Mode For Google Chrome Using Launchy

Earlier today, one of my friends on asked me how to run in incognito mode using Launchy, the best app launcher for Windows. The answer in itself was not a one-liner, so I decided to write up this post to explain how this can be done.

The initial steps are a bit long but once you are done you will be able to quickly launch Chrome in Incognito mode using Launchy. In fact, following the same trick you can also add other apps or use other modes in Chrome.

Step 1: Create a shortcut to incognito using the steps given here http://techie-buzz.com/tips-and-tricks/start-chrome-in-incognito-mode.html.

Step 2:  Don’t delete the shortcut, instead cut it and paste it into a folder of your choice, for example, C:\shortcuts. Once you have pasted the shortcut there, just rename the shortcut to something you can remember, say incognito.

launchy_chrome_step1

Step 3: Open Launchy and right click on the search box and select options or click on the starred circle icon in the corner.

launchy_chrome_step2

Step 4: In the catalog tab click on the + symbol under the Directories text area. Now browse to the folder where you placed the shortcut and then add it to Launchy.

launchy_chrome_step3

Step 5: Select the folder you just added to the directories list and in the left hand side in the text box type *.lnk and click on the + button. After you have done that, click the "Rescan Catalog" button on the bottom of the tab and wait till it finishes rescanning the catalog. That’s it, you are all set to launch incognito mode using Launchy.

launchy_chrome_step4

Next time you want to launch Chrome in incognito mode through Launchy, just type in incognito and Google Chrome will launch in incognito mode. Hope this helps.

Fix Google PAC-MAN Doodle Sound Firefox Bug

I have been talking a lot about the recent Google PAC-MAN Doodle which was cute when it started out but has gradually turned out to be a real pain in the rear for several users specially those who are using Firefox.

Now this would not be an issue but since Google has decided to run this doodle for 48 hours people may still go crazy till then. Earlier today, I wrote a piece on how you can mute the Google PAC-MAN Doodle, however that issue is not fool proof.

On another post where I wrote about the  PAC-MAN annoyance, several users are complaining that when they use Firefox the annoying PAC-MAN music won’t go away even when they close the Google.com tab.

However, on the same post several commentators also posted a workaround, however, this involves disabling a particular Firefox add-on called CoolPreviews. This solution is definitely not something one would have to do because of an annoying website, however, according to the commentators, this will definitely fix the issue.

Hopefully, Google should be hearing this loud and clear, probably louder and clearer than the annoying sound of the PAC-MAN game and make sure to test things very well, or at the least provide users an option to turn or mute the sound.

Thanks for the solution Bryan.

How To Mute/Turn Google PAC-MAN Sound Off

Google earlier today released a new to celebrate the 30th Birthday of PAC-MAN, now that Doodle is very very cute, however, it is also causing a lot of annoyance to users.

Google PAC-MAN Doodle

Right now there is no official way to turn down the Google PAC-MAN Doodle off or to mute the sound, but here are few ways in which you can actually avoid or stop the PAC-MAN sound from annoying you. Please note that, these solutions might not entirely turn off the sound, but it may help nevertheless.

  • Switch to using I Google (http://www.google.com/ig) for the next 48 hours instead of the regular Google homepage.
  • Use your browser address bar to perform searches, works in IE8, , Firefox, and Safari (Make sure your browser default search engine is Google).
  • Use the search box in your browser to search.
  • Stop using Google and try an alternative search engine for a day or two.

These are the things I could think of to get rid of the annoying Google PAC-MAN sound for time-being. However, if you have your own solutions, please feel free to add to this. I will update this post as and when a definitive solution for turning off the Google PAC-MAN sounds comes up.

How To Access Facebook In Pakistan?

Quite recently the Pakistan government banned Facebook over controversial Caricatures by some rogue groups which had come up on the site. However, the decision to ban might have left several users who want to access their favorite site in a spot.

No parking

There are always ways to circumvent around bans by using proxy servers. If you are a stuck Facebook user from Pakistan and are looking to access Facebook from there, you can always try using a proxy.

In the past we have written several guides on accessing blocked websites, you can read them all below and figure out the best way to access Facebook in your country.

These guides should allow you to access the banned Facebook in Pakistan. If you have any other method which would be useful to our readers, please feel free to share them with us.

(Image Credit: webdoctus.com)

How To Delete Your Account From Any Social Network or Web Service

Tired of Facebook? Getting lots of spam on your Meebo account? Don’t think you need Last.fm service any more? If you have a desire to delete any of your social network, blogging or email account but just don’t know how to do that, DeleteYourAccount is a great resource to learn that.

DeleteYourAccount is a simple website that contains detailed instructions on how to delete your account from major web services including direct links to pages or email addresses you need. Simply browse through the alphabetical listing to find your desired web service or look it up using the search box. You can also check out the web services that have recently been added or web services that are popular.

If you delete your account by following the instructions but realize you didn’t want that, the website also has detailed instructions on how to get it back. This information, however, is not available for all the services. As of now, you can find instructions on deleting your account for around 25 different web services. This makes me wish for an app where I can provide my username/password for different web services and automatically get my account deleted without doing any manual steps.

Delete Your Account

How to Choose a New Laptop Hard Drive

Guest post by Manas Pandey

hd-001 Your laptop’s hard drive is the major source for storing all your data. It is the place where all your applications, files and other data are stored. A typical laptop hard drive measures 2.5 x 2.5 inches in size and is smaller and lighter compared to a desktop hard drive. It is also available with different storage and data access capabilities.

Generally, people change their laptop hard drives only when the original hard drive gets corrupted or stops functioning. However, changing hard drives just to increase the storage capacity of laptop is also very common. Whatever the reason for changing the laptop hard drive, the following factors should be kept in mind while choosing a new one:

Form factor and interface:
The laptop hard drive is available in different form factors and has different interfaces. Form factor primarily refers to the external dimensions of a hard drive. It is important that you opt for a laptop hard drive with a form factor and interface that is compatible with your laptop. If you are not aware of the process to install or uninstall hard drive, you must contact the laptop manufacture or get a professional to help you with the process.

Capacity and Performance:
A hard drive with large capacity allows to you to store more data. It is therefore essential that you choose a hard drive with enough storing capacity. In my opinion, for an average user a hard drive with 250GB storage space is sufficient. The performance of the drive depends on the spindle speed of the disk. The faster the spindle speed, the faster the data is accessed and the better your hard drive will perform.

The RPM (Rotation per Minute) value refers to the spindle speed and is a vital factor in determining the functional capacity of the hard drive. The spindle speed of a typical hard drive is about 5,400 RPM. A laptop hard drive with faster spindle speed has better performance but consumes more powers and heats up quickly. For example, a hard drive with 7,200 RPM consume more power and gives better performance than a hard drive with 4,200 RPM. You must therefore choose a hard drive, which offers reasonable RPM, consumes less power and delivers good performance. It is also advisable that you confirm from your laptop manufacturer that the hard drive will work with your particular laptop configuration. Not all laptops will support a high RPM hard drive.

Cache:
Cache helps to improve the functioning of a hard drive by keeping the data intact for temporary or instant use. A hard drive with larger cache will hold more data and thus the functional capacity of a hard drive is greatly increased. Generally, laptop hard drive comes with different cache options starting from 2MB and 8MB to 16MB.

Finally, if you have selected the model and brand of the hard drive, keep in mind that newer versions of the drive will always be better than older versions. So make an informed decision on your new hard drive.

About the author:
Manas Pandey writes technology related articles, providing useful information on
Laptops, Smartphones, Tablet PCs and other handheld computing devices.

How To Connect Tata Photon Whiz/Plug2Surf With Ubuntu Linux

Tata Indicom has changed the face of wireless broadband in India. With its comparatively cheap unlimited offer, it is currently the best buy.

Tata Indicom offers unlimited surfing + download at Rs.800 per month. The offer is valid for Tata Photon Whiz. Although it operates at a compromised speed, it provides the advantage of unlimited surfing.

Tata Indicom Whiz has a dialer for Windows. However, many complain that there is no Tata Indicom dialer for Linux.

Well, there is no dialer because Linux has a dialer of its own which does the job. Follow these steps to setup your Photon Whiz with the “wvdial” dialer.

  1. Install “wvdial” if you do not have it already. To install wvdial, use the command:
    sudo apt-get install wvdial
  2. Next, plug in your Tata Indicom USB Modem.
  3. Now, create a dialer for your modem with the command:
    sudo wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf

    This creates the appropriate dialer configuration for your modem. Remember to keep the modem plugged in while running this command.

  4. Edit the wvdial.conf file by issuing
    sudo vi /etc/wvdial.conf
  5. Your wvdial.conf file opens on issuing the above command. It should look like this :
    [Dialer Defaults]
    Init1 = ATZ
    Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
    Init3 = AT+CRM=1
    Stupid Mode = 1
    Modem Type = Analog Modem
    Phone = 0
    ISDN = 0
    Password = <password>
    New PPPD = <username>
    Username = internet
    Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
    Baud = 9600
  6. Now you have to edit the file.  Put “internet” in place of <username> and <password>. Do not change any other auto-generated entry. Place the appropriate phone number in place of 0. It is #777 for Tata Indocom.

That should complete setting up your dialer. Now, to dial a connection, simply execute

sudo wvdial

in a terminal window. Enjoy.

[ In case it still does not work, add the lines:

Init3 = AT+CRM=1

and

Stupid Mode = 1

Stupid mode allows the connection to dial through a firewall and Init3 = AT+CRM=1 prevents frequent disconnections.
Thanks to Prashanth for pointing this out in a comment to this post. ]