Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to turn on Hibernation in Windows 7

Some of the most irritating issues with Windows 7 is the simple things that should be intuitive and easy to do, but Microsoft has made it hard to figure out. My latest "small" issue was turning on Hibernation. Seems easy enough... just go to the power settings and turn on Hibernation... hmmm... there doesn't seem to be a setting for it!

After some hunting around on the internet, I found several "solutions". One was a command line entry, another a registry hack and my favorite, a Microsoft "FixIt" program that is supposed to turn it on. I tried the command line and the MS FixIt program but the Hibernate option never would show up on the Shutdown menu.

So after a little more research, I find the simple solution - turn off the "Allow Hybrid Sleep" in the Power Options. This worked for me without the need for all the other "solutions".

1. Go to Control Panel / Hardware and Sound / Power Options.
2. Click "Change Plan Settings" on your default power plan (i.e., the one you are using).
3. Click "Change Advanced Power Settings".
4. Expand "Sleep" and "Allow Hybrid Sleep".
5. Change the "Allow Hybrid Sleep" setting to OFF
6. Done! You should have a hibernate option of the Shutdown menu.

Simple but MS makes it non-intuitive. About par for the course.

-Commander Dave

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Shortcut to Restart the Print Spooler Service

There are occasions that your computer will not print and says that your printer is offline even though it isn't. In my case, the printer is on another computer on our home network. Because the remote computer stays off most of the time, when it is turned on so I can print, my computer sees it as there but offline.

It is not hard to go to services and restart the print spooler, but I wanted to be able to just click an icon on my desktop and it start working again. Fortunately, it is a simple thing to do, but it is annoying at the same time.

First, here is how to create the icon:

1. Create a batch (.bat) file on your desktop. Name it something like "Restart Print Services" or whatever strikes your fancy.

2. In the batch file, put the following two lines:

net stop spooler

net start spooler

3. Save the file and it is ready to go.

Now, the annoying part. To run this batch file successfully, you have to right click on it and say "Run as Administrator". If you just click on it, it will get errors when it tries to execute the "net" commands.

The simple solution would be to change the batch file to run as administrator. In fact, there is a check box at the bottom of the Properties/Compatibility screen that says just that. Unfortunately, it is grayed out and you can't check it.

I have Googled this issue, but although there are many, many listing and forum entries about it, there hasn't been a solution or explanation (that I can find).

There were two things I have tried that were hopeful, but was quickly shot down...

1. Turn off the UAC (slider bar all the way to the bottom) and reboot. Some people said that this would enable the check box, but I found it was still grayed out. The good news is that the .bat file would run perfectly, the bad news is that the UAC is off leaving you vulnerable to malicious code/viruses/etc. I don't know about you, but I don't want to run with the UAC totally turned off.

2. There is a registry entry you can do that will check the grayed out "Run as Administrator" box. While the registry hack succeeded in checking the box (even though it was still grayed out), it still did not let the .bat file run as administrator.

So far, I do not have a solution. Since the check box is there, I assume that there is something that I (and everyone) is missing to make it active. Why would MS put in something that could never be used?

My search continues... I will post when I find the answer, or if you have the answer please write.

-Commander Dave

Friday, March 9, 2012

Clean install of Windows 7 with Upgrade Media

If you upgrade your computer or your OS is totally corrupted, it is preferable to do a clean installation. Unfortunately, the Windows 7 upgrade discs only allow you to upgrade if you already have Vista or a lower version of Windows 7 installed. In the past, you could put your old media disc in and it would allow you to do a clean install, but that functionality has been taken out. So how can you do a clean install with Windows 7 upgrade media without reloading the old OS?

The simplest way I have found is through a simple registry entry change. There seems to be other methods floating around the net, but this one has always worked flawlessly for me. So lets get to it!

Do a clean install from your upgrade disc. In the initial loading, press the skip button when it asks you for your product key. After you finish the load, try to activate your Windows 7 online manually. It may surprise you and work, but you will likely get the message below:

Code:  0xC004F061
Description: The software licensing service determined that this specified product key can only be used for upgrading not for clean installations.

To get around this, do the following:

1. Ensure that there are no Windows Updates pending that would require a system reboot to finish installing. If there are, then restart the computer to let them finish installing before proceeding. Note: if an update reboot fouls things up, just repeat the steps 2 through 4 below.

2. Go to this registry entry and change it from a 1 to a 0.

3. Open an elevated command prompt (a command prompt with administrator rights). Click on All Programs and Accessories, then right click on Command Prompt and click on Run as administrator.

4. In the elevated command prompt, type slmgr -rearm and press Enter. You will get a confirmation message. Hit OK and close the command prompt window.

5. Restart computer and activate Windows 7 manually with your product key.

That's it! If you make a mistake just try steps 1 - 5 again.

IMPORTANT NOTE! These instructions are not meant to get around Microsoft licensing. It is ONLY for fully registered users that have the original Microsoft OS and want to do a clean install.

Full Disclosure: These instructions were found on the excellent website Window's SevenForums. I could have just provided a link, but their write up had a lot of extra material (different methods and more detail) and I wanted to have an abbreviated version for the more experienced user. Feel free to follow this link to see the original:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Windows 7 Incorrectly Asks for a Network Password

After upgrading all three of my home computers, I went in to set up networking. I don't use Windows 7 homegroup because of limitations and security issues, so I set up standard networking. Now, this isn't my first rodeo setting up my home network, so I was surprised to find that I had a problem that even the mighty Google didn't seem to have an answer for.

As I mentioned, I have three computers, now all with identical hardware, Gravitar, SockMonkey and Chowder, all running Windows 7 professional. Gravitar and SockMonkey are both on a wireless router while Chowder has a CAT5 to the router.

After I set up networking, everything worked except that you could not get to Chowder. Every time you tried, it would come up with a dialog wanting a network password. Of course, there was no network password as I had the password protected sharing turned off. Further, you could go to Chowder and get to the other two computers on the network.

After double checking all the settings and verifying they were correct, I turned to Google. There were numerous entries of people who had the same issue that I was experiencing, so at first I had hope that there was a solution. After looking over the entries, some even on Microsoft's own forum, I found that while a lot of people had the same issue, there were very few, if any solutions.

I am assuming that the reader has experience with setting up home networking, so I am not going to go over how to do it on Windows 7. If you do need to know there are about a thousand entries on Google which tell how to do so. Check them out and make sure you have all your settings correct.

Here is the long list of things that were mentioned and/or tried:

1. Under advanced sharing settings, turn on network discovery, turn on file and printer sharing, and turn off password protected sharing. Further, go into Windows Explorer settings and turn off “use file sharing wizard” and also make sure that all computers are in the same workgroup.

These were mentioned a lot, but these are network settings that you should already have set properly. I did try turning the settings opposite and then changing them back, but to no avail.

2. Disable the guest login

Not sure what this accomplishes because unless you have a very good reason, the guest account should be disabled anyway. Mine was already disabled by default.

3. Create/join the homegroup.

It makes no difference if you are using the homegroup or not because if you have the networking set up correctly, it should work. Homegroup is only a mechanism that sits on top of the normal sharing system that tries to make it easier to use networking. In any case, it made no difference.

4. Each computer needs/must have a username and/or password that are identical on each computer (this has also been suggested as a work around).

Ludicrous. That is exactly what I avoid... having to maintain identical user accounts on each machine. You can do it that way, but it's the same as going to the doctor and saying “My arm hurts when I bend my elbow” and the doc says “Well, don't bend your elbow”.

5. Your anti-virus or firewall is blocking sharing.

This may be true in some cases, but it was easy to check by turning those off temporarily. For me, I still couldn't access Chowder.

6. Changing settings in the security policy.

There are many settings in the security policy dealing with networking. I did try a few of these solutions in desperation, but logically it don't make sense. My other two computers were working fine with the defaults, so why should Chowder be any different? Skip this unless you have mucked with them before and then set them back to the defaults.

7. Windows 7 is corrupt... reload it.

A valid solution, but one I wanted to avoid due to the sheer headache of reloading everything and the applications.

8. Type in the computer name as the computer name and password and various other username and password combinations.

Useless. It shouldn't be asking for a network password anyway.

9. The time is not synchronized on each computer.

This one actually has merit. If the time is off on one of the computers, it seems that the network password dialog will pop up. Most of the posts I found was that it was significantly off, like an hour. Still, my computers were all synchronized, so it wasn't a solution for me.

10. Router issues/settings are wrong or reset router.

I didn't go into depth on this one, because before my upgrades, everything on the network was working fine with the same router and same settings. I suppose that it could be the router in some cases, but if you can see the other computers in the network and as in my case, the other computers are working well on the network, then I doubt that it would be the issue. I did, however, reset the router but it made no difference.

I tried several of the “solutions” which made sense and verified the settings on the others to no avail. I worked on the problem for a couple of weeks. I figured that something in the registry or other deep internal setting was glitched, but could not find any solution. Just when I thought I would have to break down and reload Windows 7 on Chowder, I found the solution: WinASO Registry Cleaner and Optimizer.

No, this is not a disguised advertisement for the product, even though I think highly of it. Since I figured some internal registry or other LAN/networking setting was hosed, I thought of a registry cleaner. As a last ditch, Hail Mary attempt, I ran it on Chowder. I cleaned the registry and ran the optimizer. Low and behold, Chowder stopped asking for the network password and started working normally. I really don't have any idea what the program fixed, but as long as it worked there is really no need to investigate further.

If someone with the same issue is reading this and can't resolve the issue, give WinASO a shot. You can find it easily at It's quick and may save you a lot of hair pulling and gnashing of teeth.

Good luck!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Really "Awesome" Chrome Extension

It's not often that I find a program for my PC that is useful yet simple and easy to use. Today, I ran across a Chrome extension that is both - Awesome Screenshot: Capture and Annotate.

What this extension does is allow you to take a screenshot or a partial screenshot of any content in Chrome and using simple drawing tools at the top, mark it up. Here is an example:

When I used it I fell in love with it... but... (there's always a catch isn't there?)

Early on, it was found that this extension was adding it's own links to Google search results without telling anyone. It was enabled by default and didn't have a way to disable it. When it was discovered, the author put in a disable button in the options, but the outcry was so great that it was totally removed. The author says that he meant it to be a feature, but just implemented it in the wrong way. Whatever you believe, it is now gone.

The other issue is a privacy concern. This extension gets a warning that it will be able to access all data on the web and on your computer. It sounds pretty strange, eh? The author claims that it is because he has to use a certain API to get around a bug that will crash Chrome if the screenshot is greater than 2 MB. Here is his explanation:

【For Those with Privacy Concern 】
Chrome will alert you that the extension may access all your data.
Here is the whole story.
1. We use chrome's NPAPI (Which has the ability to access some local data) to work around a Chrome issue  which may crash the extension  when you save a large ( >2M) screenshot.  The new version also delivers a much better "Saving screenshot" experience. If you still concern about privacy, you can install a lite version we designed specially for you  .

I did some searches and didn't find anyone having a bad experience with this extension. So am I going to use it? After some thought I feel that the benefits outweigh the concerns on privacy. It is a really cool extension and one that I will probably be using a lot in future blog postings. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Links to cool information on Windows 7

Sometimes I run across articles or websites that tell how to do cool things to Windows 7. I'll post them as I find them here.

The How-To Geek: 50 Best Registry Hacks

The How-To Geek: 20 Best Windows Tweaks

The How-To Geek: Show Desktop Icon on Taskbar

Interesting functionality in Windows 7

Once and awhile I run into interesting features of Windows 7 that I never knew existed. Sometimes I find they are common knowledge and sometimes no one has ever heard of it. Below is a list of these features. Note: Since posting each one as I find it would make for a ton of posts, I'm going to update this one post.

Aero Shake
If you grab a window by the title bar and “shake” it back and forth it will minimize everything else.

Gadgets are like little refrigerator magnets that you stick to your desktop, but these do things. To find them, right click on the desktop and choose "Gadgets" from the menu. Check them out... they are interesting. They would be much more interesting if Windows had multiple desktops and you could stick them all on one desktop screen, but that's just me.

Show the Desktop Button
For the longest time I thought that Windows 7 had got rid of their Show Desktop icon until I ran across it on the Microsoft website:
It turns out that the Show Desktop icon is a little rectangle on the taskbar all the way to the right past the time display. However... I miss the icon on the quick launch toolbar. It's possible to create a Show Desktop icon and pin it to the taskbar.

1. Create a new shortcut on the desktop.
2. Name it "Show Desktop" or whatever you would like.
3. On the new created shortcut, go to properties.
4. In the target field, put in the following:
    %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{3080F90D-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257}
5. In the start in field, put the following:
6. Change the icon if you wish. I prefer the Windows screen icon found here:
7. Right click on your new shortcut and pin it to the taskbar. Move it to the far left.

This will toggle the Show Desktop with one click. Note that there are several methods I've found where you can restore the Show Desktop icon. To me, the shortcut method is the simplest and the cleanest.

Full disclosure: I found this method on another website, but when I went to get the link and post it here, I couldn't find it, so I had to recreate it from the icon I had. If anyone happens to find the link let me know and I will give them proper credit.