Archive for the ‘Hardware Tips’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Drivers Update Software by RadarSync

The latest issue of Windows Secrets newsletter had some information about driver update software. Several paid products were mentioned, but RadarSync has a free version. I’ve tried it and it seems to work well enough. There isn’t much to say about it other than it determines what hardware you have, the current driver version, and it then checks to see if there are updated drivers. I ran it on my desktop and laptop, and it did find drivers that were not the most current.

PostHeaderIcon RightMark CPU Clock

In an article about extending battery life, Dennis O’Reilly mentions the RightMark CPU Clock utility he uses. Not only does it show information about your CPU, but it also lets you control several different power settings.

RightMark CPU Clock Utility (RMClock) is a small GUI application designed for real-time CPU frequency, throttling and load level monitoring and on-the-fly adjustment of the CPU performance level on supported CPU models via processor’s power management model-specific registers (MSRs). In automatic management mode it continuously monitors the CPU usage level and dynamically adjusts the CPU frequency, throttle and/or voltage level as needed, realizing the “Performance on Demand” concept.

I downloaded the RAR package, extracted it and ran the program (it appears that there is nothing to install). If you like to see the basic information about your CPU and other hardware, along with those power settings I mentioned, then check it out.

PostHeaderIcon “How to REALLY erase a hard drive”

ZDNet has a couple of postings about how to delete a hard drive (see “How to REALLY erase a hard drive” and “How to REALLY erase a hard drive – Update“). There is lots of talk about how best to delete the data on a hard drive so it is unrecoverable. You may want to give a hard drive away to a friend or another good cause, but you don’t want anyone to retrieve the sensitive data that may have been on the hard drive.

Here is how the Storage Bits blog describes it:

Something called Secure Erase, a set of commands embedded in most ATA drives built since 2001. If this is so wonderful, why haven’t you heard of it before? Because it’s been disabled by most motherboard BIOSes.

Secure Erase is a loaded gun aimed right at all your data. And Murphy’s Law is still in force. But hey, if you’re smart enough to read Storage Bits, you’re smart enough to not play with Secure Erase until you need to.

How does Secure Erase work?
Secure Erase overwrites every single track on the hard drive. That includes the data on “bad blocks”, the data left at the end of partly overwritten blocks, directories, everything. There is no data recovery from Secure Erase.

I had never heard of this, but it sure sounds interesting. If you are going to be giving away a hard drive, it would be a good idea to read these postings and try the software mentioned.

PostHeaderIcon How to Fix a Scratched CD

wikihow_logo.gif

I came across an article in wikiHow called “How to Fix a Scratched CD“:

While compact discs (CDs) are remarkably durable, it’s nearly impossible to prevent scratches and scuffs from occurring from time to time. The resulting damage can be either a skip in your favorite Bob Marley track or, in the case of data CDs, the loss of that spreadsheet you worked on for two weeks. Don’t despair—repair! While commercial CD repair kits and CD refinishing machines are available, you may be able to repair the damage on your own with products you already have.

PostHeaderIcon How to Survive the Worst PC Disasters

From PC World:

When it comes to computers, sometimes things go south…and sometimes they go to Antarctica. If your computer won’t boot or your data’s gone astray, panic is soon to follow, and you might find yourself making things worse in your haste to solve the problem.

To prepare for that inevitable day, save this article: The next time some piece of hardware or software decides to take an unexpected vacation, pull out and consult our handy guide to see how to deal with some of computing’s most devastating debacles.

I originally read about this on Download Squad

PostHeaderIcon 100,000 free phone systems up for grabs

This is from a press release I received from 3CX:

3CX a developer of a software-based IP PBX for Windows, today announced that it will give away 100,000 free phone systems. Companies are encouraged to take advantage of this offer to experience first handedly the benefits of an IP PBX when compared with traditional proprietary hardware PBX.

3CX Phone System is a complete software-based office phone system that replaces a traditional hardware PBX. It liberates companies from cumbersome phone wiring and solves the management headaches associated with proprietary PBXs. Since 3CX Phone System is based on the open SIP standard it works with any SIP-based VOIP provider, VOIP gateway or phone. The product integrates easily with most business networks because it runs on Windows – no Linux experience required.

“IP PBX technology includes advanced communication features but also provides a significant dose of worry-free scalability and robustness that all enterprises seek. Our free phone system offer allows companies to familiarize themselves with the technology and to see for themselves that upgrading to an IP PBX, should be the obvious choice for any company,” said Nick Galea, CEO 3CX.

Read the rest of the press release here.

PostHeaderIcon Recovering files off removable media

There are lots of tools out there to help you recover files that you’ve deleted off of removable media (such as memory cards). Some are free and some are not. Today I accidentally came across something that may be helpful. I have a SanDisk card reader connected to my computer. It has 4 different card slots to read a dozen different card formats. When I first connected the card reader a year ago, it made all of the card slots a different drive letter. This was a problem for me, as I connect to many network drives, and didn’t have 4 spare drive letters. So using Disk Manager, I setup each new slot (or drive) as a folder on my hard drive. This is done by going into Computer Management and under the Storage section, click on Disk Management. You see all of your drives that are connected. Right-click on the one you want to change, and choose Change Drive Letters and Paths. You can then follow the screens that appear and either setup your drive as a letter or “mount” it to a folder.

With that background, here’s what happened today. I deleted a couple of files that I wasn’t supposed. I immediately pressed Ctrl+Z by habit to try and undo what I had just done. The files returned. This seemed strange since when things are deleted off of removable drives, they are gone. I deleted them again, and sure enough they were in the Recycle Bin. I guess since they were mounted as a folder on my D: drive, when they were deleted from the D: drive (or so the system thought), they went to my Recycle Bin. Neat!

PostHeaderIcon Fast Disk Defragmenters

The Google Operating System blog had a posting recently about a freeware disk defragmenting utility I’d never heard of before:

Auslogics Disk Defrag is a freeware for Windows 2000/ XP/ Vista with a simple interface, that runs much faster than the built-in defragmenter. You can’t defragment more than one partion at a time or set advanced options, but that also means it’s easy to use. The program doesn’t use too many resources, so you can continue your work.

I haven’t used it yet, but I wanted to pass the information along. To learn more, visit the Auslogics web site.

PostHeaderIcon 512MB CompactFlash card for $1.99

I don’t usually pass along “good deals”. There are lots of other sites that do that. But this one is really quite exceptional. Crucial Technology has a promotion (it ends September 1) where you can get a 512MB Compact Flash card for only $1.99 after rebate. The card is $26.99 with a $25 mail-in rebate. There is free shipping when you spend $40. So you could buy 2 cards for $53.98, get free shipping, then get $50 in rebates, and end up paying only $3.98 for 1 GB of cards. Not Bad.

20060821_crucial_screenshot.jpg

You can learn more about the deal on the Crucial web site. If your camera, pda, or other digital media device uses these cards, it’s a great deal. If only they had this deal on SD cards!

UPDATE: Apparently it is only 1 rebate per customer. So in order to get free shipping, you’ll have to order something else as well to get your order total to $40. Domestic shipping is very reasonable. It is only $3, so if you still went ahead with it, you’d end up with a 512 MB CompactFlash card for $4.98. Still quite a good deal…

PostHeaderIcon Networking / Routing / Firewall Help

I’ve mentioned the LangaList before. It’s an informative newsletter put out by Fred Langa. There is a free newsletter, and an extended pay newsletter.

Monday’s free portion of the newsletter had a good tip I wanted to pass on:

5) Linksys Gem

Fred — On the Liinksys issue mentioned in your most recent issue: There is a website( http://www.linksysinfo.org/ ) devoted entirely to Linksys routers and especially to the WRT54G router. It includes a forum, drivers downloads, and information on modifications you can make to the routers. Most of the information is pretty technical but there are people in the forums willing to explain things in detail. —Jonathan Spencer

Nice find, Jonathan! Combined with http://www.wown.com/ for general, non-brand-specific networking help, you ought to be able to remedy just about any networking issue you might encounter!

Also, Fred’s latest article at InformationWeek is about firewalls. Check it out:
Langa Letter: Readers Rate Desktop Firewalls