How to fix irritating double spacing AKA double carriage returns

This tip is so simple – but I am amazed by the number of folk I meet who have never heard of it – so here goes:

You know how it is. You copy and paste text into a Word or Outlook doc or whatever – and despite that fact that you are using PureText, every time you hit RETURN you get double spacing

Like this

double spacing – Grrrrrrr……

when what you want
is single spacing
like this.

So how do you do that?

Just hold down the Shift key while pressing the RETURN key.

Simple – when you know how.

Advertisements

Asus 1005P Seashell – mini review, how to upgrade memory (to 2GB), install Windows 7 ultimate and related Top Tips!

 

My review of the Acer Revo 3700 has proved so popular, that it has increased readership by 400% ! It seems that I was one of the imagefirst people to release a real world review – that potential buyers  have found particularly useful. As a result, my good friend Crispy has provided his review of his new Asus 1005P Seashell – because, as he quickly discovered, upgrading to Windows 7 Ultimate and increasing the memory to 2GB was not all plan sailing – so he decided to share his resulting Top Tips with you.

Over to you Crispy:

Asus 1005P Seashell – what’s in the box/under the hood?

Upon opening the box I was impressed how smart the 1005P looked. To check that all was imageworking, I booted the system up on  the mains power and went through the set-up of the default install of windows 7 Starter Edition. Once in I had a look at what else was on the system and had a quick check through of all the devices that were installed.

As I expected, there were lots of bundled applications – that I did not really want – so I pressed ahead with my plan to wipe the system and install Windows 7 Ultimate X86.

 

Ugrading the memory to 2GB

By default the system comes with 1GB of memory installed, but will support up to 2GB and to that end I had ordered a 2GB Kingston memory chip.

First step was to turn the  1005P upside down, remove all power  (inc battery) and open her up. One screw and a couple of light imagepushes later, the 1GB chip that shipped with the system was out, 10 seconds later the 2GB chip was in – and so I replaced the base and powered her up.

Checked in the OS and it was reporting as 1GB…… so quick reboot and into the BIOS – which was also reporting 1GB as well. Quick head scratch… taking up of the thinkers pose, doing the un thinkable and looking at the manual that shipped with it (not worth the paper it was printed on unless you want to know how to get into their super slim OS and recovery partition). Quickly hit the web and one bing search later, discovered that to register memory upgrades you need to disable the fast boot option in the BIOS, reboot and re-enable. This worked a treat – so I decided to then make a copy of the recovery files on the disk before overwriting it with a new install of Windows 7 Ultimate (because you never know when they could come in handy …..).

 

Installing Windows 7 Ultimate – and overcoming some tricky issues….

I had used the Microsoft  ISO Tool for creating a bootable USB memory stick – the only one I had to hand was an 8GB stick – ran the utility and all was completed successfully. Brill.

Went into the BIOS on the Asus and checked the boot order, changed 1 to removable device and 2 to HDD (ie just swapped them over), stuck my shiny new bootable USB stick in the side and powered up – only to see windows 7 booting from the HDD. …That was not the plan!

Re-checked my bios settings and all looked good, even removed the other devices from the boot order to make sure it had nothing to boot from – other than the memory stick.  Once those settings had been saved, I now got a nice message about having no bootable media!

Another quick bing search and I discovered you need to press the Esc key on the bios post screen to get into the boot menu, why it can’t be F12 like most other systems I will never know….. anyway there was my USB stick now available to be chosen as the boot device – which would be great, except  that I was now presented by a message about a corrupt (USB) boot device!

Now I had an idea about this, I know that bootable USB sticks of larger sizes are not liked by some systems, so a quick search (down the back the sofa) and I found an old 4GB memory stick. Hurrah!

Re-ran the ISO Tool on the 4GB stick, popped it in, powered up, hit Esc, chose my USB stick and got the start of the install process. Chrispy 1, Asus 0 (if I ignore the memory and boot order!). So, the 1005P obviously doesn’t like booting from 8GB USB memory sticks…..

 

Deleting original partitions – to create additional space

Next, I tried deleting the partitions that were there in the advanced install. I was getting some strange behaviour – such as space that I could not create a partition in – so I made enough space, installed Windows 7 ultimate and logged on.

I then went into disk manager in order to format the remaining space. In trying to do so, I got a message about changing the disk to a dynamic disk – which I didn’t want to do, as that would stop me doing what I want to do – which is still get rid of the other partitions.  I needed to run a low level command to remove the partitions from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927520 which is about using diskpart from within setup, by pressing shift + F10 – which is a useful trick to remember and one which allowed me to remove all additional partitions.

On re-booting and  re-starting the  install, I was pleased to see that Wifi networking was enabled so I could run Windows updates, install free Antivirus and download PC specific drivers from Asus.

My next, and uncompleted task, is to work out why the screen gets brighter on battery power and dimmer when plugged in. All image power settings look OK.  The 1005P screen driver appears to split the brightness scale into 4 settings repeated 3 times so giving dark, brighter, brighter,  bright, dark brighter bright bright etc. The setting for the battery was hitting a brighter one than mains power – not sure the cause of this but in the end, I set my brightness to 30% on battery and 90% on power and it now works a treat. I need to further research this,  but my gut feeling is that it is a driver issue – but Windows Updates says that I have the latest Intel 3150 driver.

 

Conclusions

For a little system it rocks along. Nice tracker pad and easy to use keyboard. Asus driver for the hotkeys brings up a nice little splash on the OS to point out what you have done and battery life looks good. At 54% left it was predicting 3:45 still to run – which ties with my expectation that at light use you should see about 7.5 – 8 hours from a charge – very nice. Have been using it mainly for skype chats and it works a treat!

Overall, this is a cracking little machine – and well recommended.

Specifications

 

Operating System

Genuine Windows® 7 Starter

Display

Anti-glare 10.1" WSVGA(1024×600)

CPU & Chipset

Intel® Atom™ N450 1.66G

Memory

1G, DDR2

Wireless Data Network

WiFi 802.11 BG

Storage

160GB HDD

Camera

0.3 Mega Pixel Video camera

Audio

Hi-Definition audio CODEC
Built-in stereo speaker
Built-in microphone

Input / Output

3x USB 2.0
1x VGA
1x SD/MMC card reader(SDHC)
1x Audio in
1x Audio out

Battery

up to 11 hrs* (6 cells 4400mAh 48/h)
*Subject to system configuration and usage

Dimensions

262mm(W) x 178mm(D) x 25.9~36.5mm(H)

Weight

1.27kg

Color

Black, White

The best (and cheapest) UK Internet (broadband/ADSL/ISP)?

 

This is a popular question – which keeps on coming up – particularly as a result of my review of the Revo 3700 – so here we go:

image 

I have been using Plusnet since 2004 (when ADSL first came to my village) and I have had no reason to change since then – so I guess that gives you a bit of a clue!

The reason for me staying with Plusnet are:

1. Stability – the connection very rarely fails – in fact I can’t remember the last time it did.

2. Plusnet are now owned by BT

3. Plusnet only use their own Call Centre based in Yorkshire

4. Price: Plusnet are pretty competitive (they say that are the  cheapest in the UK – but I have no way of verifying that) BUT imagethey do price according to the number of other Broadband suppliers who have their own kit in the exchange that serves your house – known as Local Loop Unbundling (LLU). Plusnet refer to this pricing strategy as “Marketplace” – with three tiers, Market 1, 2 and 3 – where 3 is for exchanges with the highest number of alternate LLU Broadband suppliers – and so the price is lower to reflect this.

The headline is, that if you live in an area served by a Market 3 exchange, the cheapest Plusnet broadband will cost you £6.49 per month.

For all sorts of marketing reasons, it is very difficult to find out precisely what the service is from each broadband provider – but the Plusnet Usergroup (Plusnet have quite a strong and vociferous group of users who keep them in check) publishes some handy tables – which include pricing:

 

image

 

image

 

image

So, there you go, click on the links or tables above to go to Plusnet and review the offering in more detail.

Acer Aspire Revo R3700 Desktop – first impressions and real world review

©Woody – please link to this page only – as no part to be reproduced without permission of the author.

What is it?

I guess that I am one of the first folk in the UK to have purchased an Acer Aspire Revo R3700 from Ebuyer. Ebuyer say that it is “exclusive” to them – but I suspect that is “exclusive” because the spec of the PC they sell, differs from the US spec in that it has a 160GB HD (as opposed to 250GB on the US version) and comes with Limpus Linux pre-loaded (more on that later). Otherwise this is the standard Revo 3700 with the new ION2 graphics, 2GB of DDR3 and an Intel Atom D525 running at 1.8GHz.

What does it look like – and what do you get in the box?

Visually, the main unit is quite stunning in a very glossy piano imageblack – the same sort of finish as Samsung/LG TV’s – so this wouldn’t look out of place beside one. Handy if you were thinking of using it as a Media Centre PC – which I guess a lot of folk will buy it for. In fact, given that it has optical sound out (SPDIF) – this makes it even more suitable for those who would plumb the pure digital output into an AV amplifier to go for the full Dolby surround sound etc.

image(The only problem is, that as you can see, the SPDIF is on the front of the unit – rather than the rear – Doh!). Video output is also catered for with a standard VGA socket and HDMI.

Note also, the Multi card reader handily positioned on the front of the unit (where you need it) which supports MultiMediaCard (MMC), Secure Digital (SD) Card, xD-Picture Card and Memory Stick.

Included in the box (and very well packed and sealed to avoid scratches) is a matching keyboard and optical mouse and a VESA bracket that will allow you to mount the Revo onto the rear of Monitors and TV’s  – which have the necessary fitting (most modern models come with this these days).

At first, the keyboard does seem a  bit of a disappointment. It is quite thin and light – and a lot smaller than it would appear from photographs. The keys also look like a luxury version of what you would find on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (that dates me ….).

imageHowever, when actually being used, I found nothing to complain about. I guess that if you are a touch typist (I am not) or are writing a book, then you might want something more upmarket – but it does the job.

Included in the box is a small laptop like external power brick and some paperwork/manuals – but I didn’t read them – who does?

Initial hardware and software configuration

On first power up of the Revo, you can access the BIOS by hitting image the Delete button – and F12 changes the boot order. All standard fare – and nothing worth mentioning. I did have a stroll through the BIOS, but found nothing worth tweaking (I have seen discussions that similar models have a BIOS setting that allows you to change the amount of memory reserved for the Graphics – but I couldn’t find it).

As I mentioned previously, this Revo comes pre-loaded with an Acer configured version of Linpus Linux. The less said about that, the better …. I did give it a whirl, but as it lacked any capability (that I could find) to change the screen resolution from a default 800 x 600, I gave up on it. Yes, there is a resolution changing applet – but it did zip. If you have a beard (that you take to stroking) I guess you might linger longer over this challenge, but I have a life – and more importantly, an impatient Mother – for whom this PC is ultimately destined as a general purpose Silver Surfing board….

To cut a long story short, I loaded up as little as possible to make this a working PC  and the least likely to confuse (my Mum). So, I installed Windows 7 Ultimate X64 (yes, I know it is a bit over the top, but I already had a copy and who knows, one day we might take it up to 4GB – so might as well future proof).

After running all the Windows updates, I could see that some of image the drivers remained as default – standard VGA drivers instead of ION2 for example. I guess that it would have plug-and-play updated by itself at some stage, but I was too eager to get the ball rolling. Acer publish updated Windows 7 drivers for the Revo 3700, but on checking, Windows Update had even later drivers, so I selected each item in Device Manager and just told it to update online from Windows Update. This included the Wireless LAN – which seems particularly sensitive – pulling in BTFon from neighbours some way down the road

Application software install

On top of all that I put Avast (the free version), Office 2010 professional, Live Essentials 2011, MyDefrag 4.3, Process Explorer, PDF-Xchange Lite, FireFox 3.6, IE9 Preview 7, Adobe FlashPlayer (in order to run BBC iPlayer) and AutoRuns – the later turned out to be particularly useful in that I was able to spot that one of the above had silently installed the Ask toolbar – grrrrrrr.

How did it all go?

Like the clappers. It took everything I could throw at it in it’s stride and I never felt that I had an underpowered PC – quite the opposite. CPU use seemed to amble along at less than 20% utilisation most of the time – in fact, it spent most of its time in single figures. The detailed performance data follows at the end, but it is worth mentioning that I downloaded some 1080P AVI’s from the HighDef Forum and they played in Windows Media Player 12 without missing a frame (as far as I could see) and at no imageincrease in overall CPU usage – testament to the CUDA offloading to the ION2 GPU (this means that the ION Graphics chip was doing the processing instead of the Atom CPU).

Oh – and although it has a fan – which vents through vents on the top – I never heard it once.

Conclusion

The keyboard is a bit tacky, but otherwise this is a very nice and nippy PC – which I would be more than happy to use on a daily basis or as a dedicated Media Centre.

Techie stuff – real world performance scores

image

Boot Times

Time quoted is expired time until browser opens and web page loaded:

Resume from sleep: 7s

Cold Boot: 120s (15s for POST and 53s to login screen)

Temps (average observed)

CPU: 54C
System: 31C
Fan: 2647RPM

Real world CPU loading

Malwarebytes full disk scan < 23% CPU load total

IE9 Preview 7 (all at 1680 x 946 – with total CPU <30% (IE9 Preview approx 27%):

Galactic – 14FPS, 152.44kms.

FishIE Tank:

50 Fish – 60FPS

100 Fish – 53FPS

250 Fish – 37FPS

500 Fish – 25FPS

1000 Fish – 15FPS

Video Kaleidoscope – (Pyramid wheel and Aura) – Woody (what else?) 11FPS

Psychedelic – 1789rpm

Hallucinogenic – 603rpm

The best ever “To Do List” / “Get Things Done” / GTD tool?

If you have a hectic and complex business life that seems to inexplicably merge with you own personal time, then like me, you probably write lists of all the stuff that you are supposed to get done – (before you forget that you need to do it and/or forget where you wrote down what you were not supposed to forget …..).

What would help of course, is rather than a simple list of stuff to do (that you cross out as you do it) – an electronic To Do List that you can run on your PC.

Now, don’t be so predictable …. I can already hear you screaming about using Outlook and, yes, if you have Outlook, putting everything into Outlook tasks is a very good way of getting organised, blah, blah, blah. The trouble is, and I am sorry, but I know that Outlook Tasks sync seamlessly to your Smartphone etc, it’s just that I find the whole process of setting up Outlook tasks (and then subsequently managing their status) as kind of clunky and somehow the process just doesn’t feel intuitive. I have nothing against Outlook otherwise.

So, I have spent the last few years on a quest to find the ultimate To Do List!

All I want is a tool in which I can write a list of tasks that I need to achieve – with the ability to cross each task off the list as it is completed – and I don’t want it running on the bleeding Internet.

You would think that is a simple requirement – easily satisfied – but no, there are very few applications like that out there.

For a considerable time, the  best that I had found is Tudumo but when it came out of beta, the guy wanted $29.95 for it – which I thought was a little pricey. Call it $12.99 – and he would have hooked me in.

No matter, I have now found the imageperfect ToDoList (or GTD – Get Things Done) it is FREE and always seems to be rated as the very best of it’s ilk, by those who stumble upon it. It is called (unsurprisingly) ToDoList  by a genius programmer called Dan G – who publishes the source so that you can see how he does it.

Simply, with ToDoList, each line is a task (which you can easily add or edit) and that task has a number of features – which you can set at will. The tasks can then be displayed in priority or date order and you can set a filter that ensures that completed tasks no longer show (but they don’t get deleted – so you can always review them at a later date).

Now, I could wax lyrical about ToDoList – because it is a real gem – but if you have read this far, you are probably curious enough to check it out for yourself – so I won’t bore you further – just go and try it for yourself – and then read on (because I might just have a very small but positive effect on your life now – well, you never know….).

So, you now have this tool that will allow you to make task lists – how can you use it to get more efficient use of your time?

Well, a whole industry has grown up around the concept of “Getting Things Done” – often referred to as GTD.

You can employ consultants and go on courses to learn how to get things done – but let me save you some (big) money with these simple Woody tips:

1. Throw everything (that you possibly can) away in the bin (trash) or burn it or something:

If something is really important – it will find its way back to you. You can try this for yourself. The next electricity bill that you receive, throw it in the bin. I promise that the Electricity company will send you another.

In other words, clear your life and your inbox of clutter and junk – just concentrate on the big things that matter – and remember that family, friends and having a life come higher up the list of things that matter – than your Boss. [Then remember that your Boss is human too and has a family and a list of things that matter (to him) – so give him a break].

2. Set an Out of Office Message that says:

I am sorry, but I am in training all day – without access to a phone or email. I get so many emails and there is such a backlog, that I won’t be able to answer your unless it is really urgent. If your email is really urgent, no problem, please resend but edit the subject title to include the words “so important that my pants are on fire” – and I’ll attend to that right away.

3. Be reassured by the fact that the only way GTD Gurus and Consultants can make any money – is by telling you how to get organised and achieve everything. This is the Big Lie – that always ignores the fact that most of us have more things to achieve than is possible in the time available. You can’t possibly achieve everything – so be calm about that.

4. People who think they are disorganised are probably more organised than people who think they are organised.

5. Write and keep two lists:

One list of stuff that you need to achieve now.

Another list of stuff that is more aspirational.

Concentrate on the first list – and only on one thing at a time.

Try and make daily lists of things that you need to get done – and try and put less on the list to do – than you can achieve. Then when you complete everything on the list, you will feel so much better as a result.

Mount .iso (CD/DVD) images in Windows 7 (or Vista and XP)

The great thing about Windows 7 is that it has a file hook for .iso files. Right click on them – and Windows 7 will offer to write that .iso as a DVD or CD. The one problem is, that it can’t natively mount .iso files – so you can’t see what is in them or extract the contents (unless you write the file to a CD or DVD first).

There are free tools out there that can mount an ISO in Windows 7 – but I have either not been able to get them to work properly or I have seen suspicions in reports that some of them may contain spyware.

Slysoft have a free product called Virtual Clone Drive – which works great and doesn’t contain spyware but it installs some stuff as a service – and I am never sure of the impact of that sort of thing. They do have a really great logo though!

image

So, step forward the Pismo File Mount Audit Package AKA Mount Control from Pismo. This is free, doesn’t install as a service and works a treat. Job done. This one is a real Woodygem®

Nvidia FX 5200 windows 7 (and Vista/XP) driver that supports tv-out (svideo).

This is a (very geeky) gem that you won’t find anywhere else – it took me long enough to work it out!

If you are reading this, it is probably because you have an Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 or FX 5 series video card in a Media Centre/Center (MCE) that is not properly driving your TV via the tv-out (svideo) connector. In Vista and Windows 7, the default driver automatically provided by Windows Update is the Vista driver version 96.85.

96.85 in Vista and Windows 7 works fine with FX 5 series cards – except for tv-out, which for some reason it drives at 25Hz. I can find no way to change the output frequency (which is possibly something to do with trying to give smoother, more fluid motion to DVD’s encoded at 24fps – but just makes the screen flicker for normal TV – particularly badly if you are watching in PAL) and the FX 5 series cards are now end-of-life with Nvidia no longer supporting them or releasing drivers that provide support.

However, there is a solution that works a treat! Download the XP driver 81.98 – it has to specifically be this one as I have found the flickering problem to exist in other XP drivers before and after this particular version.

 STOP: This driver won’t install in Windows 7 or Vista as it is. Download the driver – 81.98_forceware_winxp2k_international_whql.exe and right click –> properties –> Compatibility and check “run this program in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 3)” – and you are good to go.

Note: That this 81.98 XP driver does correctly drive Aero capabilities – although doesn’t show up as so hot in performance tests – but it is a Media Centre and not an XBOX – right?

Download Radio programmes from BBC iPlayer as MP3’s

Note: That this article is now deprecated. Please see the replacement article on get_iplayer and continue to comment at that new page.

Thanks,
Woody 4th July 2013

If, like me, you listen to a lot of BBC radio – and are frustrated that unlike iPlayer videos – which you can download for viewing later (on a PC, iPod, iPhone, Sony Walkman, Zune etc) there is no way to download BBC radio programmes from iPlayer. All you can do is listen to them within the iPlayer interface – but if you want to save them to a portable device for listening to later on the tube – forget it!

image There are some very complex kludges that you might try – but nothing as elegant as Radio Downloader by a guy called Matt Robinson.

This is an absolutely superb application which, iPlayer like, displays all possible Radio programmes that are available at iPlayer – by genre, alphabetic listing etc. Simply click the one you want, hit “Download” and Radio Downloader downloads the programme as an MP3 – ready for you to write to your favourite portable media device.

This one is such an incredible gem – and if you have found this article because you have been searching for a solution to the iPlayer radio problem – you will really, really appreciate it. So please, show your appreciation to Matt Robinson by donating him a couple of quid.

mce-media-core – the best iplayer add-on for Windows Media Centre (MCE).

image

The really cool thing about Windows Media Centre (to be found already installed in most versions of Vista and Windows) is that it is a central repository of all, well, your media. The problem is, that if you like using the BBC iPlayer, you effectively have to minimise the MCE interface and fire up a browser in which to watch iPlayer re-runs. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get iPlayer to run within MCE? Well, now you can.

While there has always been the Milliesoft MCE iPlayer add-on, I could never get it to work properly – and it was pretty resource hungry on my low power MCE (which also has a low bandwidth broadband connection).

So, step forward the gobsmakingly good mce-media-core. This really is an absolute gem – and probably the best add-on/plugin I have ever seen for MCE. What’s more, it doesn’t use Flash but wmv streams. As a consequence, you have to wait a minute or two for it to initially buffer, but once running, the video is broadcast quality – with no stuttering (like you can have with CPU intensive Flash rendering).

mce-media-core is still very much at the alpha phase, so some features don’t work (yet). I can’t get it to play BBC HD streams and there is no fast-forward or rewind – but I am sure that will be fixed as the product matures – unless Microsoft offers the author a job (and they really should).

Welcome back!

When I started off this blog – let’s be honest, I had some time on my hands – in which to bumble around in the global super highway.

Three years on – and my quest is sharper. I have had some real – and seemingly rare requirements – for which I have either had great difficulty in finding an appropriate solution – or I have discovered something so awesome that it really is a gem. Either way, this blog aims to bring those gems to light for those still searching – and who happen on this page in the process.

I could have not bothered and kept this all to myself – but a few months ago, I found myself reading quite a popular (and amusing) UK blog from a guy who works in advertising (so I figure – he should be good at doing this blog stuff). In his “about me section” he made a big point of having 800 readers per month – so curious, I decided to check mine. I was surprised to find some real Long Tail stuff – in that although I last posted an update 10 months ago, I am still getting a steady readership of 700-1000 people a month – so I thought that it was about time I gave you something new to read.

To be crystal clear, this blog will only feature those things that I consider to be absolute gems – and usually unique and the sort of thing that you have been searching for (and not finding) for some time now.

Each gem represents a solution to a problem that I have genuinely been searching for – and while I am normally successful in that search, there are two things that stubbornly evade me:

1. A simple calorie counter for Windows Mobile. i.e. something that you can type in the number of calories (as you eat them) and it will present a daily/weekly/monthly fat-boy guilt total.

2. A real gem of a free house design/floor plan program. The closest I have got so far, is Dibanet from Roca and the Ikea kitchen and bathroom design software.

Woody.

How to do things that you can't find info about anywhere else

Sietch Tabr: El Hogar de Paul Muad'Dib

La única diferencia entre un loco y yo, es que yo no estoy loco

Mele in Spain

Modern languages student, studying in Alicante and eating far too much tapas

GripDev

Code, Apps and Thoughts @lawrencegripper

%d bloggers like this: