Categories
Tutorials

How To Set A Password To Protect Your External Drive

Want to stop prying eyes from snooping into the content of your external drive?

Or in the event of the loss of your flash drive (a very probable eventuality), you want to be assured that the information contained in it remains secured. Information that can be taken advantage of or used against you.

Then secure it Bitlocker. This feature has been bundled with Windows OS since Windows Vista. Though you will need the Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise versions of Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 to activate bitlocker on your drive, you can however view the contents of the drive, if you have the password, on any PC with OS as old as Windows XP installed.

 

HOW TO ACTIVATE BITLOCKER ON YOUR DRIVE

  1. Insert the drive into your PC
  2. Identify the icon for the inserted drive and right click on it.
  3. Select “Turn Bitlocker On”
  4. Bitlocker initialises the drive. Takes a few seconds.
  5. A screen pops up asking you to CHOOSE HOW YOU WANT TO UNLOCK THE DRIVE
  6. Select the option to USE A PASSWORD TO UNLOCK THE DRIVE

Depending on the size of the drive and the amount of data contained in it, the encryption process may take a very long while. Best carried out on an empty drive, could take as little as less than a minute to complete.

* DO NOT INTERRUPT THE ENCRYPTION PROCESS*

After this procedure, the drive prompts you for a password any time the secured drive is inserted into any PC. However, there is an option to have the drive not request for password for trusted PCs.

This is a very simple procedure. However, you may find the video clip below helpful

Categories
Articles Technology

God Mode: Try If You Dare!

10703-god_modeFor the old timers, it should please you to know that the legendary “god mode” still works in Windows 10. A throwback from Windows Vista, by creating a new folder and renaming it with the following text string;

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

the folder brings together a long list of customization settings allowing you to change all your PC settings from one place, making it very easy to tweak your computer.

How To Enable GODMODE:

  • Right click on the desktop
  • Create a new folder
  • Then right click on the new folder
  • And rename it: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}
Categories
Networking Technology

How To Set Up A Budget Home Entertainment Network

For many, the word “server” brings to mind an intimidating stack of unidentifiable devices with endless flashes of light. But in reality, a server can be that very basic featured, very old laptop or desktop computer you have gathering dust in a corner of your home.

Wikipaedia defines a Home Server as a server located in a private residence providing services to other devices inside or outside the household through a home network or the Internet. Such services may include file and printer serving, media center serving, web serving (host your website from your home!), and backup services. Because of the relatively low number of computers on a typical home network, a home server commonly does not require significant computing power and can be implemented with a re-purposed, older computer, or a plug computer. An uninterrupted power supply (UPS) or Power Inverter is sometimes used in case of power outages that can possibly corrupt data.

Server in the home has witnessed increasing popularity in recent years. And for good reasons too.

So, what exactly would you be needing a server for in a home?

If you are like most people today, you have multiple home computers connected in a wireless network. You also have lots and lots of media files — digital photos, music, and videos — stored on each of these computers. Even though all your computers are connected, it is difficult to share or stream these media files from one PC to another.

Personally, I opted for a home server for the following reasons;

  • Centralized storage of my files. This gives you easy access to these files from multiple devices.
  • My boys love watching movies on their tablets. Problem is, there is only so much movies these tablets can contain. My home server gives them access to about 1TB of animated movies, streamed flawlessly to their devices.
  • Nothing beats watching CBT Nugget video files, downloaded video files or even stream Youtube videos directly to your big screen.
  • If you are the paranoid type, you can do away with Dropbox and the likes and host your sensitive files in your home. Access them over the Internet too!

The funny thing is, you get to achieve all these for next to nothing, using mostly existing hardware.

Find below a basic network diagram of my home entertainment network. Nice, aint it?

Drawing1

Over the next few posts, we are going to discuss about each component of this network and how to get them all set up.

 

Categories
Hack

Use The ATM And Risk Losing Your Money!

Windows XP finally reached its end-of-life this April (2014), after which Microsoft ceases to release bug fixes for the operating system. If you’ve upgraded your PC then everything should be fine – but what about your bank? Have they upgraded?

The Risk Isn’t Necessarily With You

Have you upgraded from Windows XP yet? If not, you can easily choose from several different options;  Windows 7, Windows 8 or even Linux. While it is important to ensure your home computer system is as up to date as possible, it is also important that the companies you do business with are also suitably secure.

Sadly, this hasn’t been happening. For various reasons (usually cost) a vast number of businesses have been spending time burying their heads in the sand rather than coming to terms with the fact that their systems have suddenly become a lot less secure since Microsoft withdrew support for Windows XP.

Although corporate security support has been extended to April 2015 – only in the UK, this still doesn’t give businesses who haven’t yet made the necessary upgrades an awful lot of time to purchase and roll out new hardware running Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux or even Mac OS X. While you might have taken steps to upgrade, the Windows XPocalypse has wider ramifications.

Among these are the customer-facing systems running on Windows XP, the ATMs especially, and its continued presence represents an open door to digital criminals.

DSC_2031ATMs: Stay Away!

If you visit ATMs to make withdrawals, you likely do so from a system running Windows XP. If you’ve ever seen one of these machines crash or reboot, you’ll know that behind the simple set of options Windows XP is hiding. Once upon a time it was providing security against intrusion from sophisticated hackers; these days, its presence is arguably as big a headache as the breaches it once helped to prevent.

ATMs running Windows XP are rife for exploitation and should be avoided.

Avoid withdrawing money from an ATM by doing so over the counter at your bank. You might consider using point of sale cashback services too. This is not very popular in Nigeria though.

A rule of thumb should be to avoid these at all costs. If you can’t, it is worth being prepared by setting up a separate ATM card with a low balance.

Windows XP: The New Millennium Bug?

15 years ago, the IT world worked itself into a frenzy as it fought to combat the effects of the so-called Millennium Bug (aka Y2K problem) – an issue with the way computers calculate the date that was set to cause chaos come January 1st 2000 (or 1900, if the bug had its way). Although there was plenty of time to prepare for this, many businesses waited until the last few months to apply a fix.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the situation is recognisable, if not identical. Home users are largely protected but businesses seem to have ignored the many warnings issued by Microsoft about Windows XP going end-of-life and the implications of this. The push to get domestic users onto Windows 7 and Windows 8 has been slow, but it would seem that even if you upgraded tomorrow, your bank and other institutions handling sensitive data would still be running XP, with the impending security failings this will bring.

As such, you need to be careful where and how you use credit and debit card. As a rule of thumb, if you’re attempting to use the card at an exposed location, you should already be cautious of the risks. With unsecured Windows XP installations now providing an added threat, automated payment solutions should be avoided.

Culled from Makeuseof

Categories
Hack

How To Capture Streaming Music From Your PC

I subscribed to the music service Deezer a few weeks back. With a monthly subscription of US$4.99 (NGN800), Deezer gives you unrestricted access to about 30 million+ music files for your listening pleasure. You are able to stream any music track or if you prefer, you can even save the tracks to your device (PC or mobile device) for you to listen to when are not connected to internet.

The snag with this arrangement is that;

  • the music files are not in your regular mp3 or wma format but some unidentifiable encrypted format.
  • access to your music files are cut off any month you fail to pay your subscription. You lose access to all your music files until you renew your subscription.
  • you are restricted to the music player app provided by the music service both on your PC (Chrome Browser app) or mobile device.

In a bid to avoid the restrictions listed above, I started looking around for a way to capture streaming audio from either my PC or mobile device. I met a brick wall with android, there was no app available for what i wanted to do. At least, i did not find any.

For the PC, however, the story was different.

I revisited this Windows application called Audacity. For those that know, this application has been around for quite a while – but not with the features in its latest iteration. From Audacity version 2.0.4 onwards, Audacity can record computer playback even on budget laptops with sound devices lacking that ability.

dj

On other operating systems (Linux and Apple OSX platform application), Audacity does not provide its own ability to record computer playback but can do so if the computer sound device offers this ability.

The process of capturing streaming audio using your Windows PC is realtime. You have to play all the tracks from start to finish in realtime to capture the songs. If the total playtime of the songs in your playlist is, say, 6 hours, it will take that many hours to capture your songs into mp3 format. Good thing is, you can lower the volume of your PC speakers to the minimum or even insert an ear phone piece into the earphone jack to listen to the songs while playing without interrupting the recording process.

Methodology

1. You will need a PC with at least 2GB RAM, 2Ghz Processor with OS Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. However, Audacity recommends a minimum of 4GB RAM to prevent any hiccup.

I will be using a Core i3 2.3Ghz processor, 8GB RAM, Windows 8.1 HP Pavilion G6 laptop for this test.

2. Visit Audacity download page and grab the latest version of the software http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

3. Install and configure as follows;

  • Launch the software, select Edit –> Preferences

Screenshot (2)

  • Select the options as shown below. The Host entry must be Windows WASAPI. Under Recording, search for any entry with “(loopback)”

Screenshot (3)

  • Save your settings and you are ready to roll.

The software looks a bit intimidating but you do not need all the available features. The control buttons are top left (as shown in the image below). When you are through, click on File –> Export to save the music file in any format of your choice. Note that to save in MP3 format, you need to install the Lame Encoder on your PC

Screenshot (5)

Categories
Advertorial Entertainment

Deezer Music Service – Unlimited Music Downloads

A few weeks back, i wrote about Xbox Music, a Windows 8 app that gives you access to an estimated 30 million+ of songs to stream for free on your PC (Online or Offline mode), on the web and on your android & iOS tablets or phones .

This music service, however, has at least 2 major flaws;

deezer

  • The mobile apps does not have an offline mode. You can only stream music online – Data services required!
  • At US$9.99 monthly subscription fee, it is not competitive.

For those of us living in Africa – except, perhaps, South Africa – we have very limited music service options. Popular services like Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, Google Play Music and Amazon are just not available.

It was only by chance that i stumbled on this less known music service called Deezer. It boasts of a presence in a whooping 182 countries, including Nigeria. The first thing that struck me was the similarity in its song database and that of Xbox Music.

The following are what i will consider as the strengths of this service;

  • Seemingly similar song database to Microsoft’s Xbox.
  • A more affordable US$4.99 (NGN850) subscription fee per month, giving you access to 30 million+ music tracks including Nigerian hit tracks .
  • Offers mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry platforms.
  • Offline music playback both on the desktop PC and on your mobile devices.

Fortunately, Deezer offers a 15 day trial. You have nothing to lose, why not give it a try?

Categories
Gadgets Mobile Technology

Tecno Phantom A+ : A “Real Life Use” Review

A QUICK BACKGROUND ON THE TECNO PHANTOM A+

Contrary to popular belief, Tecno Phantom A+ was designed by the Hong Kong based Japanese company, Alps Electric Company Limited, in collaboration with Tecno. Some key components of the Phantom A+ were manufactured by Alps.

Tecno Phantom A+ is not your regular Chinese Phone.

INTRODUCTION

This review is not going to be anywhere near an academic one, my aim is basically to assess the suitability of the Tecno Phantom A+ as a possible replacement for my old Samsung S3.

I will not bore you with any specs comparison, i guess we all know the better featured phone here. However, with all the features stuffed into the S3, what fraction of its “super powers” do we ever put to regular real life use? Well, let us find out if the features of the S3 is an overkill for the regular Joe out there.

ACCESSORIES

Okay, right out of the box, the first thing that struck me was the extreme similarity between the packaging containing the Tecno phone and that of the S3, same design down to the last detail.

The content of the Phantom A+ box were an earpiece, 8GB Memory card, a charger & PC cable combo, a Power Bank and a Flip pouch for the phone. The earpiece is of average quality, definitely the listening experience does not compare favourably with the common white Samsung earpiece but it is bearable, with fairly respectable bass output. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the earpiece and by extension, the 3.5mm earphone socket on the Phantom A+ is that they were made for each other – and no one else. The Phantom earpiece will not work (well) on any other device, and your regular earpiece will not work well on the Phantom.

The Power bank is not a substitute to mains charging. In fact, the Power Bank will not charge your phone to full charge but to about 70% capacity. My investigations revealed that to attain full charge for your phone, you will need a power bank with a higher capacity than the 2200mAh one that was shipped with this phone.

The PC cable is a bit flimsy, and i guess it may be the reason why it always take a while for my PC to access the drives on the Phone when connected. I replaced the cable with an old Blackberry cable and the response was faster.

The pouch does not strike me as one that would last a long time. Plastic with suede-like internals, the metallic colour of the front cover was a colour selection well thought out. I love it, feels Apple Mac-ish.

The Samsung S3 also came with a complimentary earpiece, MicroSD card and a Charger – PC cable connector.

Tecno

BATTERY LIFE

I consider myself a power user and this phone sees me through a day – conveniently – even with a bit of juice to spare at the end of the day. My daily routine consists mainly of frequent making and receiving calls, playing music and with 3G and WIFI on all day to power the myriad of internet based apps on the phone. For my wife, a full charge takes her through 2 days.

Additionally, the Power Bank and the miniature cable connector will conveniently fit into your shirt pocket. With this can give your phone a quick charge when you need it. The Power Bank also doubles as a flash light.

The S3, or any Samsung device at that, are not known for their long battery life. It is an exception if your Samsung S3 phone lasts a day, taking it through the motions that i take the Tecno. Infact, i had a charger stationed permanently in the office with another charger installed in my car. Battery life improved a bit when i purged the phone of Samsung’s bloated ROM and installed Custom Roms. Carbon ROM was my preferred choice.

TecnoAESTHETICS

Honestly, it is hard to decide which of the 2 phones looks finer. I am swayed to the Tecno Phantom A+ for total build quality. It definitely looks (emphasis on LOOK) like it has a more matured looking build, looks less plasticky than the all too obvious plastic materials used for the S3.

For the internals, i tend to pimp up my phone’s desktop with widgets. No performance lag of any sort on the Tecno, its 1GB RAM seems up to the task. To get the look in the image shown to the right, i always install the following apps on my android devices; Nova Launcher, Agenda, HD Widget

PICTURE QUALITY

Let us tip our hats to the S3 on this. Picture quality of the Phantom is quite ok but not comparable. It is not all about the “MPs”, higher Mega Pixels do not translate to better picture quality.

DUAL SIM

What can i say? No show for the S3.

INTERNAL MEMORY

You think the manufacturers of Tecno were generous with the 8GB memory card included in the package? You though wrong. This was meant to compensate for the low internal memory, 4GB.

The default installation drive for your apps is the memory card, with only the system files installed to the internal memory. This option is configurable.

Okay, call me an App junkie, i care less. At anytime, you will find more than 50 user installed apps on my phone. The phone has conveniently accomodated my excesses so far, even with enough space to spare.

GAMING

Out of the box, the Phantom A+ has 3 games pre-installed. Perhaps the most prominent and graphics intensive of the lot is Gameloft’s Asphalt Adrenaline 6, which plays flawlessly on the phone.

BBM CHAT

BBM for Android works flawlessly on this device as any other.

GSM RECEPTION

Highly subjective. Glo reception on the Samsung S3 was mostly unreliable. A little surprising that places that i had hitherto received shaky network reception fare better on the Phantom A+

SCREEN QUALITY

Unbelievable screen quality. The first thing that will strike you about the phone is how vividly the large 5.0 inch HD screen renders images. Not exceptional, especially coming from a S3 but definitely not a walk over either.

ROOTING & CUSTOM ROMS

I rooted the Phantom A+ the same night i unboxed it. A lot of resources are available online for this product, especially on nairaland.com. Custom ROMS are also available though i am not swayed to try them out yet as they do not offer convincing competitive advantage over the stock Rom. Also, the Roms are all Android OS 4.2.2 and not OS 4.3.1 or better still, Android OS 4.4 (KitKat)

PRODUCTIVITY

Document scanning using Camscanner is not as good as that of the S3, a throwback to camera quality perhaps. Scanned documents are however very passable.

CONCLUSION

Yes, i will not mind having a flagship phone from Samsung, perhaps the Samsung Galaxy S5 (Rumoured to be announced/released by February 2014) or the Samsung Note 4. However, ownership of any of these phones is strictly to satisfy my insatiable lust for gadgets and probably for bragging rights.

Obviously, the Phantom A+ is not the best featured phone out there but as far as functional phones go, the Phantom A+ definitely meets all my daily productive needs.

The problem with Tecno phones adoption in Nigeria is no longer about its durability but its affordability. Nigerians do not want to be viewed as being cheap, even when they can ill-afford the cost of a high end device. An average Nigerian would rather starve to put up a facade of affluence.

Categories
Tips

How To Bypass Your PC Login Screen

Windows-7-Default-LoginScreenNormally, once you have more than one user account on your PC, Windows no longer take you to your desktop directly when you boot up. Instead, you are stopped at a login screen where you are made to select and click on the account you wish to log into.

This can be a pain at times.

What if i show you how you can bypass this login screen and still boot directly to your desktop? Okay, here goes;

  • Boot up your PC, select your preferred account where you want to be logged automatically into.
  • Enable the Run link on your Start Menu. You may view the embedded video or this article to see how to do this.
  • Select the Start Menu, click the RUN link and type control userpasswords2 in the dialogue box
  • A screen pops up. Uncheck the option Users must enter a username and password to use this computer.
  • Type in your password (if any) in the password box that pops up.
  • Click Okay on all boxes till you are returned to your desktop
  • Now reboot your PC, you will be logged in automatically to your preferred account.

You may view my Youtube video below to guide you.

Categories
Tips

Improve Your Windows PC Boot-Up Speed

You hit the power on button on your PC, wait for minutes for the Microsoft boot up logo to even appear, before finally hitting your desktop. In all, it took you about 10 minutes. Sounds familiar to anyone? It is a fact that about everyone at sometime would have had this hair-pulling experience of slow Windows PC boot up.

While the geeks blame the slow boot up of Windows PC on its design architecture, however, how fast your PC boots is usually dependent on your PC processor speed, RAM, viruses, and installed program that load during boot up. Using fairly recent PC hardware with decent specifications, the average boot up time for fresh installations of various Windows OSes should not take up to 30 seconds, even with the dreadful Windows Vista. Windows 8 has actually put Microsoft haters to shame by greatly improving on its bootup time by saving the system state and memory contents to a file on disk, and simply reload it on reboot, rather than initiating everything all over again. You can actually boot up a new installation of Windows 8 in less than 10 secs!

Okay, that seems like a tall tale as most never get to experience these speeds mainly because right from when your PC slides out of the production line, manufacturers already have them stuffed with bloatwares – softwares you never asked for and you will never need. Thing is, for every single softwares that you install, chances are that it will negatively impact on your boot up speed.

I will take you through a routine that can help to reduce the time it takes to boot up your PC.

  • Click your Start Menu button. Check for the RUN link on the right pane, it is at the bottom. For Windows 8, just type RUN from your Start Screen
  • Not there? Okay, right click on the Start Menu and select Properties
  • Click the Start Menu tab and click Customize
  • Scroll down and select the check box labelled Run Command
  • Click Okay twice
  • Now go back to your Start Menu, click Run
  • Type into the dialogue box msconfig
  • Click the Services tab
  • Select the Hide Microsoft Services checkbox at the bottom of the dialogue box. Trust me, you do not want to mess with stuff that can break your system. Unselect everything else except anything that has to do with your antivirus. You can always select any other service you may need later.
  • Click Exit Without Restart
  • Next select the Start Up tab. Here again leave everything related to your Antivirus or Intel. Uncheck or disable everything else.
  • Close the dialogue box and restart your system.

You should notice an improvement in the boot up speed of your PC.

If you are confused about any step, check out my video on Youtube here.

Windows 7-2013-08-25-08-59-30

 

Categories
Gadgets Technology

Tablets : Between Recreation and Productivity

I handed over my tablet to my son a few months ago after a failed bid to sell it off.

While I was researching for the ideal tablet to put my hard earned cash on, the Toshiba Thrive came tops as the most productive or functional tablet around. However, after a few months of using it, i realised that there is only so much even the best featured tablets could do. Read my review of the Toshiba Thrive here.

By my definition, productivity or functionality is the speed or amount of work one can get done on a tablet compared to what can be achieved on a regular computer. Yes, the yard stick for comparison has and will always be the PC.

From this definition, you may understand why the iPad was never considered.

toshiba-thrive-6While the Toshiba Thrive could take most of what I threw at it by way of hardware accessories – full USB keyboard, mouse and all – the fact remains that the operating system powering it (an enhanced Android 4.1.2 custom rom) was never suited for getting much productive work done.

While tablet manufacturers have access to near infinite apps on Google Play, with a good number focused on enterprise & productivity, however it seems majority of the apps available fall within a ‘recreational’ category.

It has been predicted by many technology analysts that the tablet form factor will be replacing the PC as we know it. And as if to prove these pundits right, the PC has witnessed a very sharp drop in sales since the introduction of the iPad.

But why is this so when it is very clear to about everyone that the functionality of the PC is almost only limited by the imagination of the user whereas the tablet can barely get simple productivity tasks done conveniently?

The reason may not be far fetched. Most users do not need the infinite computing powers of the regular PC, at least you don’t need it for the regular tasks that most people indulge in; word processing, web browsing, other Microsoft office products, solitaire, watching films, etc. A role that even the least powered tablets can undertake perfectly.

The question however still remain; would the tablet form factor be the end of the PC. Well, one thing is very sure, definitely not in our lifetime. Many have predicted the demise of Linux too which, against all odds, is probably even more relevant than before; it powers most of the websites in the world, embedded in more devices than we can ever count and also is the basis of most operating systems around now; Mac 0s, android, etc.

For geeks like me, the tablet remains what it is meant for- recreation. I can not even being myself to undertake the simplest word processing tasks on an android or iPad tablet because of formatting issues.

However, Microsoft has already set the pace with its mobile and desktop OS convergence operating system – the Windows 8. Still rough at the edges, I strongly believe this company would play a major role in how soon the tablet form factor replaces the PC form factor.