PC Troubleshooting Workshops

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Valkyrie Profile


CHEAT SHEET - With three endings for Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, purists will demand to see all of them. It is actually quite simple to do and does not require much work. To get the worst ending, simply reduce your Evaluation score to zero twice and it will appear.

Reducing Evaluation points requires you to keep as many artifacts as possible instead of sending them to Odin, and not wearing Lenneth’s ring during the Sacred Phases at the end of each chapter. Note that you will only see the warning and the ending when you leave areas, so you will need to do some work in the meanwhile.

To see the normal and best ending, create a game and play through it normally to see the normal ending.

For the best ending, you must reduce your Seal rating (not the same as Evaluation score) to below 37 and also send Lucian to Asgard before Chapter 7.

Also, you must encounter and kill Lezard in Chapter 4 the first time you meet him, as well as meet and decline Brahm’s offer of battle in Brahm’s castle. To reduce Seal ratings, unequip the Lenneth ring, recruit Lucian and Mystina, visit the Weeping Lily meadow and note that sending any heroes up to Asgard raises your Seal significantly.

Watch what you throw away

Some materials is used to make computers are highly toxic and can cause environmental and health problems if they are released into the water, landfills or air during disposal.

POISONOUS:-

  • Lead found in CRT monitors and the soldering in circuit boards.
    Dangers: damages the central nervous system, blood and kidneys.
  • Cadmium and Selenium in circuit boards.
    Dangers: Accumulates in the kidney causing irreversible damage.
  • Brominated flames retardants in plastic covers, cables, connectors.
    Dangers: Triggers strong allergic reactions, asthmatic bronchitis and also causes DNA damage.
  • Mercury in switches and housing found on circuit boards.
    Dangers: May cause brain damage.
  • Polyvinyl chloride and plastics.
    Dangers: Pollutes the environment and releases toxins when incinerated.

VALUABLE:-

  • Copper and aluminum in cables, connectors.
  • Iron from CPU tower and monitor casing.
  • Zinc from cathode ray tube (CRT) screen, printed circuit boards.
  • Gold, silver and platinum from printed circuit boards and connectors.

Monday, August 28, 2006

How do I choose between CDs and DVDs?

Your decision should come down to capacity. The CD-R and RW media stores 700MB of data.
To store more data than this, get a VD-R/RW or +R/RW disc. A single-sided DVD disc allows you to store 4.7GB of data.
Double-sided discs will double that capacity to more than 9GB of data.
This is great when you want to back up the loads of files from your hard disk on to the discs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Help! My laptop is on FIRE

The spontaneous combustion of several Dell machines has resulted in more that 200,000 laptop batteries being recalled worldwide. Let find out why laptops are given off so much heat.

Inside the laptop
With users demanding more speed, power and capacity from their laptops, manufacturers are packing in more powerful components. Some of these parts like the CPU, graphics processors, hard disks and memory modules generate a lot of heat.

Inside the battery
Lithium-ion batteries produce energy through a chemical reaction that releases oxygen. When the battery heats up beyond 150 deg C, the reaction speeds up and more oxygen is produced. This facilitates burning in the battery, creating more heat that feeds the reaction even further. The result: a condition known as thermal runaway. As the battery gets hotter and pressure builds up, it becomes unstable and goes kaboom!

Laptop design
To increase mobility, laptops are made thinner and lighter. This means less space for air circulation, making it harder for heat to dissipate. Bright screens contribute to the heat too.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Which portable hard drive to buy?

There are two basic types – the 3.5-inch and 2.5-incy enclosures.
The smaller one is handier as it fits snugly into your shirt pocket and you do not need to lug around a power adapter. Just plug it into the USB port and you are ready to go.
But the downside is that 2.5-inch hard disk drives cost more than their bigger counterparts. Also, capacities max out an around 120GB.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Is it safe?

Websites like e-mail can serve as conduits through which computer vermin from Trojan horse to viruses creep into your computer.
You knew that, right? You should.
Such malicious code could range from annoying pop-ups (that advertise bigger and better body parts) to hijacking programs which force you to land on a site you are not interested in.
In the past, such places included porn, gambling and file-sharing sites.
But these days, you are just as likely to visit a dubious website through a link on more innocuous – even common – sites such as search engines.
So a search on Google, Yahoo or MSSN could lead you to these rogue sites.
For instance, you may be looking for “free screensavers” or celebrity photos”. Your search brings up a host of possible websites. But nestled in there could be a cyber merchant of malice.
An example is celebritypictures.duble.com, which was reported by McAfee SiteAdvisor to harbour miscreant programs, McAfee SiteAdvisor (
www.siteadvisor.com) is a site devoted to patrolling the Net to document and alert the rest of us to potentially dangerous sites.
So, how do you minimize the dangers from harmful websites, short of abandoning search engines altogether?
Be guided by these eight dos and don’ts.

  • Boost security on your browser
    On windows XP, you can take care of this simply. Click on the Tools option and select Internet Options.
    Then select the Security tab, and click on Default Level. When the sliding bar appears on the left, move the bar up to Medium or High.
    This is your first line of defense.
  • Avoid questionable sites
    If a site looks untrustworthy, it probably is. Like porn, gambling and hacking sites. Enough said.
  • Do not be downloading happy
    Treat all cute programs or cool utilities as suspect – unless you know for sure they are from a credible source.
  • Close strange windows
    If one pops up in the middle of your screen, close it with the X at the top right corner of the box. Never click on the Close or Cancel or Confirm options within the Window – you may unwittingly invite lethal code to download itself and invade your computer system.
  • Install an anti-spyware program; get up-to-date protection
    When you are assaulted by a series of pop-up windows, you are a likely victim of Spyware or Adware.
    Stop what you are doing and get an anti-spyware program to check on your system. Well-known ones include Spyware Doctor and Webroot Spy Sweeper, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are current, and that your virus and spyware dictionaries are, likewise, the latest available.
  • Be suspicious of discrepancies
    If the website address displayed on the search engine and the final site you land on are different, get out.
    Beware also of sites that are spelt like real ones. You sometimes find out the hard war when you make typing mistakes.
    For instance, a slight twist in the way the official Disneyland site (
    www.disneyland.com) is spelt takes you to a questionable place.
  • Tell on the baddies
    Sites like McAfee SiteAdvisor are devoted to patrolling the Internet and blowing the whistle on misbehaving websites. If you find a bad site, report it there.
  • Try the program in protected mode first
    If you must run a program you downloaded and you are running Windows XP, you can safely launch an application by using Run As feature.
    When you click on the Start icon (on the bottom left of your screen), go to the program in question and right click on it.
    Choose the Run As option, and in the dialogue box that appears, chose Current User and tick the Protect My Computer option.
    When running in this Protect mode, the suspected program is able to read your system registry readings, but cannot change them.
    Your current profile is also protected together with cookies, temporary internet files, the desktop and My Documents.
    One caveat though – it can also cripple a perfectly legitimate program attempting to make such changes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Digital cameras need supplements

With digital photography, there are many accessories you can add to ensure sufficient storage and sharper images.
Here is a list of the extras that should complement your digital camera.

Storage and more storage
With digital cameras, you can shoot as many pictures as you like provided you have the space to store them.
So memory cards are the most important. Tuck away the usually puny memory care that comes with your new digital camera. You will need it if you sell your camera later.
Buy a memory card big enough to last you for at least a day’s shooting. A 1GB card would be a good start.
If you are going on an extended holiday, you may need a portable hard disk. This allows you to transfer photos either from the memory card or directly from the camera to the hard disk.

Sharpen those images
To remove the unwanted specks from the digital images, consider installing noise reduction software on the PC like Noise Ninja or Neat Image. They perform near-miracles with “noisy” photos.

Lost the photos?
Memory cards sometimes malfunction or you may accidentally delete a photo. Install in the PC photo recovery software like PhotoRescue or Smart Recovery.
They comb through every bit in the memory card to fish out any useable photo data.

True colours
Most digital cameras come with a white balance feature to produce the true colours of images. However, most cameras cannot tell the difference between indoor lighting, a rainy day outside, or the bright sun.
To retain the true colours of images, instead of a bleached look, you can do a manual white balance on a grey card.
These are usually small plastic cards. Hold it in front of the viewfinder and focus on it to tweak the white balance for that “golden hour” look through the day.
WarmCards is on example. They are waterproof cards that tweak the white balance. Get them online at www.warmcards.com

Hold it still
Even a sniper cannot hold a camera still long enough for long exposures. For this you need a tripod. There is a wide range to choose from: cheap aluminum ones to price carbon fibre affairs that offer the ultimate in lightness with strength.
For professional-grade tripods, the heads are sold separately and at eyebrow-raising prices. But for the money, you get rock solid support fluid action and all manner of angles.
For quick support assistance, try the less bulky monopod. These can not replace the tripod, but are for photographers who need extra stability when shooting with a long lens.
Chest pods, which are braces that hold your camera on your chest, are much less common, but like monopods they help give that added advantage for telephoto shots or when you are breathing too hard from drinking too much coffee.

Flash
A flash is both a boon and a bane. You need it to nail that shot, but if flattens the subjects and the results of a naked flash are unflattering.
You could bounce the flash off a nearby neutral-coloured ceiling or wall but these are not always available. That is why the number of products on the market to “tune” flashes is amazing.The principle methods are bouncing, diffusing and filtering. jusBounce, Lightsphere, LumiQuest, and Sto-fen are but a few names. You would need to fix them onto the flash.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Snag some spirit

If you are hunting for some easy Xbox achievement points, Prey is great.
It features some of the easiest awards to achieve. They include:

  • Playing all three games in the casino at the start of the game and racking up a high score for them.
  • Finishing the game on Cherokee (hard) mode.
  • Killing players in multiplayer with a certain weapon a certain number of times.
  • Being at the top of the table for a certain number of games.

While hunting, note that several enemy units do not automatically attack you. Most notable, repair robots and servitors (or servants).
If you are low on spirit, use a bow attack to the head to snag some spirit from the servitors, but if you can, avoid the repair robots.
And when in doubt about where to go, look up.
Late in the game, Tommy will fall into a cube that assembles itself around him. To get out, observe the blue panels.Adjust the gravity of the cube, and you can form an electrical pathway that connects all the panels and exit the cube.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Safetly label the CD/DVD media

Using pens or pencils with sharp tips can damage the upper surface of the discs. Also not what type of ink is used in the pen? Some inks are caustic and dissolve into the dye media, rendering the data completely unreadable. Always use non-solvent-based felt-tip pens designed specially to write on the surface of these discs.
And do not stick cellophane tape on the surface, either: it might rip off when the disc is rotating at high speed in the drive, possibly spoiling both the disc and the drive.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

From search engine to rouge sites?

If you ask Yahoo and MSN if they were aware of these wayward sites and that they can be found within their search results.

The question:
Are these offending sites screened or filtered out in any way?

Microsoft said it initiated an in-house project more than a year ago to actively patrol websites to find out which ones house damaging code. The results, which were published online, were fed into a database of bad sites. The technology from this project has been deployed in MSN’s newest browser, IE 7 and continues to be refined in ongoing research.

Yahoo said it has incorporated anti-spyware technology into its Yahoo toolbar, which can be downloaded for free. Just last month, Yahoo and Symantec, which specializes in security software, announced they are teaming up to offer online security products across several Yahoo! Services.

These would effectively filter spam, scan e-mail, and block spyware, adware, intruders and identity thieves.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Battlefield 2 - Overwhelming air power

It is obvious if you have played any Battlefield 2 (BF2) game online that massive air power often makes things unbalanced.

Here’s a trick that you can employ in Armored Fury:-
Take a light scout helicopter, load it up with special ops solider and carefully drop C4 explosives onto the roads where you expect a lot of enemy tanks to pass through.

Hang around, if you can, to blow them up when they rush towards the flag in the middle of the tight Operation Road Rage map. Or load up an engineer and have him drop mines at the entrance or round the corner on a highway.

Strangely, this is a tactic that seems to be under-used in Armored Fury. Mines are perfect for the Operation Road Rage map, for example where there are several points you can “choke” and stop tanks from passing through.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Stop unwanted sites popping-ups

One way to stop unwanted sites (games, emoticons, porn) popping up on your screen, when you connect to the Internet, is to upgrade your Internet Explorer to the latest version ( www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx ). Under the IE, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Privacy tab. At the bottom of the window, ensure that Block Pop-ups is checked. This is a preventive measure to stop the pop-ups from appearing. You need to then clean up and get rid of all the spyware and malware residing in your PC system. One good freeware software is Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition from Lavasoft. Download from www.lavasoftusa.com , install and run.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Error loading cmicnfg.cpl

This error occurs after trying to uninstall the C-Media WDM Audio Driver from the PC or after upgrading to XP SP2 and/or going to Windows Update. Likely the driver didn't work, so you tried uninstalling the driver and were going to put back the old Realtek AC'97 driver, but couldn't get rid of the updated driver.

To solve the problem, go to the Start -> Run -> type in regedit and delete the cmaudio string from the folder
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows
\CurrentVersion\Run.
So when the PC run on startup will not try to look for the cpl file that was deleted during the uninstall or not installed correctly by the installer in the first place.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Disk check problem

Your Windows XP boot-up is slow? After it boots up, this message appears:”Checking file system on C: The type of the file system is FAT 32. One of your disks needs to be checked for consistency…” DO NOT interrupt the file-checking process. Let it do a complete scan of your hard disk and recover any defects or file corruptions that might have occurred due to an abnormal shut-down.
If you want to manually run this file checking function, you can click on the My Computer icon, right-click on the hard disk, e.g. C: drive or D: drive, select Properties.
Click on the Tools tab in the pop-up window and then in the Error-checking section, click on the Start checking button to initiate the process.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New use for that old PC

  1. The old Pentium III machine can shift to the living room as general web-surfing and office applications machine.
  2. The same machines could also function as a file server, print server, or MP3 music server. Just connect it to a router and set up the network and file-sharing permissions.
  3. Thought about trying LINUX? The old machines could be reformatted to a clean slate; then download any one of the many LINUX distributions and experiment away. Surf to www.linux.org for details.
  4. Certain charities also refurbish used machines and parts for export to other less affluent countries where the older machines are used as tools to level the IT gap.
  5. You could buy a cheap TV tuner card from your favorite IT store, install it in your old PC and turn it into a dedicated TV program recorder.
  6. Remember your old video game consoles and all the classic video games you played? Recreate the experience on your old PC. Visit www.mame.net (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) to download an emulator, and ROM (read-only-memory) sites such as www.romhustler.net to download game titles. You must have your original game cartridges to avoid copyright infringement issues.
  7. If your old PC still has a modem, you can turn it into dedicated fax server. This will save you the cost of a fax machine plus paper and toner. Install the fax server program from your modem’s installation disc.

Spyware woes

When these files, zmsspeig.exe, mspg32.exe, msa.exe, system32.exe keep asking for access to the Internet, most likely these are spyware files and torjan horse. To solve this problem, you need to install some software on your PC.
The first one is a free anti-virus program, AVG Free Edition, which can be downloading from
free.grisoft.com. You do not need this if you already have anti-virus program.
The second is Ad-aware SE, an anti-spyware programe which can be downloaded from
www.lavasoft.com.
Disconnect your computer from the Internet before scanning, so that other viruses will not be able to attack your computer during virus and spyware removal.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Warranty for life?

If the vendor tells you the Kingston RAM module you buy carries a lifetime warranty. What does it mean?
According to Convergent Systems, the distributor for Kingston memory modules, "lifetime warranty” refers to the span of time the product is available for sale in the market before it is superseded by another technology or when the components needed to repair and service the product becomes unavailable.
For example, support for old ISA (industry Standard Architecture) cards is almost non-existent today as the technology has been replaced by newer PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) slots is motherboards.