Exernal Media Player

I was recently looking for another way to view my saved movie files.
I have loads of movies saved on one of my PC’s that I actually used as a TV and work machine for many years.
They are actaully high quality mpegs from a high-quality TV card in my PC.
I have since copied most of them off to a seperate hard drive and converted most of them to DVD via DVD Flick
You can of course go full out and for a few hundred bucks make a great home DVR out of an old PC with little work. Especially if it has Windows XP Media Center or Vista with Media Center.
Or you can follow this guys great tutorial here:
Free TiVo/DVR out of old PC
But back to the story.
I had this drive sitting around with all these movies on it. 500GB Seagate SATA loaded with mpeg’s and AVI’s and thought it would be cool to just ‘hook it up’ to the tv and watch the movies and shows.
So I happened on this really cool device.
The SATA HDD Multi-media player adapter allows you to connect any 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA Harddisk to your computer via USB. It a powerful tool for data transfer, backup and cloning.
The kicker:
It functions as a Multi-Media player as well. You can play the media files via SATA HDD, SD(HC) card or external USB storage on TV without using a computer!
I can now take my external drive anywhere and share my stuff.
I ordered this thing from these guys http://usb.brando.com.hk/ on the 24th of June and it was delivered – all the way from Hong Kong – by the 1st of July!
I plugged in my external USB drive to the device and then plugged in the AV cables to TV and with very little setup (adjusting for NTSC Video and TV playback in the setup menu of the device) my stuff played awesomely!
Just thought I’d share a cool technology device that is very inexpensive, easy to use and seems to work great too.


Stop Spam Calls

Ok, how many of you have gotten calls that were dialed by an automated system?
You know the kind. Your phone rings and if you pick it up there is a ‘pause’ before someone gets on the line.
Who then proceeds to tell you that,
”the FBI needs your information..”
“your car warranty is about to expire..”
“you owe money to such and such and we can reduce the amount…”
“we are in the neighbor hood doing x for the Jone’s etc.”

The list is just about endless.

Or how about getting messages on your voice mail or answering machine that tell you “to call 800-xxx-xxxx ext. xxx for a very important matter.” Or “you have an outstanding balance please call 800-xxx-xxxx etc.”

These calls and nearly all like them are made by ‘dialing programs’. There are two types most in use today.

The first and most common is the programs that actually dial a whole set of numbers for a given area code and prefix.
Example: 310-473-xxxx from 0001 on up.

The second is used mostly by fraudsters, bill collectors (illegitimate and some times legitimate) and other scammers.
The program dials a given set of numbers the same way.

Since the calls are made by machine they follow rules! And we can exploit them to our advantage!
The programs were designed to save money by dialing fast and not wasting the time of (expensive) people. Although one could argue that wages in Bangladesh aren’t that high, you still need real people, even if they don’t speak proper English, to carry on a real conversation.
So when the dialer get’s an out of order or line disconnected ‘tone’ it marks the number as ‘no good’ and moves on.
If however you pick up the phone the system knows the number is valid and puts you through to a person who will then annoy the crap out of you.
Same goes for the calls on answering machines and those going to voice mail – if the dialer get’s an out of order or line disconnected ‘tone’ it marks the number as ‘no good’ and moves on. If your machine or voice mail answers with a ‘message’ like, “hello we are not here ……” the call then plays the message to call a certain 800 number back etc.
With any of these calls the absolute worst thing you can do is actually call that number!!
Your phone will be marked as ‘valid’ and ‘worth calling’ forever!
[This also applies to spam email too!! Never respond to spam email to ‘be removed from list..’]
So how do you we beat the machines?
Quite simple actually.
By playing the ‘call could not be complete’ or ‘number disconnected’ tone before your answer message.
That’s right by simply placing that ‘beep beep beep the number you are dialing…’ tone before your message you will kill the auto dialed call. If you are like me you can even play the tone before you answer a live call!
Just play the tone then record your message.
Make sure you tell people who should be calling you – family friends – that they should ingnore/wait for the actual message.

So where to find the ‘tone’.
Here are a couple links to the tones with the associated message.
Remember you only need the ‘tone’ at the beginning to make the dialer think the number is bad.
You can find them here:
Disconnected number:
Wave format:
Call not completed as dialed:
Wave format

I have created a looped tone with out the message that I use. It plays the ‘beep beep beep’ twice in a row. I will try and find a ‘place’ to put it when I can for easy download. Check back.

Windows Utilites and Tools

After cleaning up a friends system recently and dramatically improving it’s performance, appearance and usability I was asked again, nay begged, to recommend as many of the applications and or utilities I use(d) to install or put onto an existing or new installation of Windows to ‘protect it’ and to help keep it running optimally and take full control of your applications, system preferences and resources.

The list below contains most of the things I install on, or use, on all of my machines.
There are also ‘portable’ or ‘non-install’ versions of nearly all of these applications which I carry on my thumb drives too. But I will not provide the links for them as they can be easily found the same place as the full installs of these applications.
There are of course many others I use for network administration but I won’t include all of those here now.
I just wanted to put this up so that those of you looking for some very good freeware applications to enhance and improve your computing experience could find them in one place. And to keep it as secure and trouble free as possible.

Download here
[see list at end for Firefox extensions and add ons I use too]

7-Zip opensource file archiver:

Notepad++ Opensource notepad on steroids:

Windows PowerToys:

ClearType Tuner PowerToy:

Alt-Tab Replacement:

Open Command Window Here:

Tweak UI:

The entire Syinternals Suite:

Complete tool set:

Of those I use most are:
Process Explorer and AutoRuns

Revo Uninstaller – freeware:


Mike Lin’s Startup Control Panel:



File assassin

A great spyware finder:

Spybot Search And Destroy

Don’t confuse this application with other that are trading on the ‘Spybot’ name and are in
and of themselves ACTUALLY spyware. The one and only original FREEWARE application is here.



Taskbar Shuffle – a simple, small, free utility that lets you drag and drop your Windows
taskbar buttons to rearrange them:

Another program much like Tweak XP:

ImageBurn CD/DVD burner:

VLC Media Player:


I have used both of these and they are fine freeware applications.
I also am quite happy with corporate versions of McAfee and Symantec despite the idiot rantings of people who don’t do this for a living.

AVG free AV:
App Download:
Freeware download

Clamwin Free AV:

Better Gmail

Google toolbar:

pdf download:

stop autoplay:


Video DownloadHelper

Adblock Plus

Redirect Remover

Grease Monkey for firefox – allows of additional script functionalities in firefox:

GreaseMonkey Scripts:

Remove Facebook Ads:

YouTube HD Ultimate:


Device Drivers/Manager and Disk tools

Excellent tools:
DeviceRemover is a Device manager on steroids!
You can view almost any data on a device, update or backup drivers, and pretty much control anything you want for the device.
This can be a great help when some device all of a sudden stops working – like after an update, or when re-installing/installing an operating system.:


Using this utility is very easy.
But this is one utility you’ll want to use with a great deal of caution unless you really know what you are doing!!
You will be dealing with device drivers and settings and could easily ‘brick’ your devices or even your entire Operating System!

So make sure you have everything backed up before tweaking.
To back up just the drivers first you can use the above mentioned ‘DeviceRemover’ application or try this one:


Better yet and more preferable is to have an ‘image’ available of your entire system.
I have previously gone on about the utter importance of having recent images of your entire system should you have to recover data [your hdd drive dies, you get a virus or trojan, you need larger drive, etc.] so I won’t prattle on too much.
A disk image is a giant file that saves the state of an entire disk.
Disk images can re-create an entire disk drive.
I recommend having an external drive or secondary hdd for images.
I you don’t have one of my favorites, and most important, tools – Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost, there are freeware applications available to create complete system [hard drive] images.
Good Description of the difference of image vs backup is here.
Here is one:
Here is the direct ISO download that can be ‘burned’ to CD:

Safe computing……..

Misguided legislation.

Showing how ignorant and misguided politicians really are:
note the line:
“because one state senator has heard… of the many reports of problems with Vista.”
This ‘tard has no idea how to use technology and certainly should have no business in legislating on it!!
I just point this out to make another point about how out of touch elected officials really are.
I am willing to bet that not one politician in congress has ever done their own taxes, started a small business from nothing (no help from rich daddy), shops at the local super market regularly for groceries, or even pays their own bills!!
Time for a political enema I say!
If we don’t flush these people out they are going to give it to us!

Share External Mac Volumes

If you have a mixed environment of PC’s – MS Windows and Macintosh, it can be tough to configure access to shared resources on shared machines.
Sure you might think OSX can do this with the ‘Windows File Sharing’ but you are limited to the ‘home’ folder.
Sharing a Windows folder or drive is actually fairly simple and straight forward.
Here is a great tutorial from Lifehacker on how to mount Windows shared folders in OSX:


But what about sharing other (like external drives) resources on you Mac with other Macs and PC’s
By that I mean what happens if one of your Mac’s used for Graphic Arts or Pre Press has external drives that need to be shared to other Mac’s and PC’s
I have found VERY few articles that describe this easily and succinctly in over a decade of working with Mac’s.
So here is what has worked for me.:
You can share any volumes on the Mac, USB, Firewire and other internal drives etc.

First TURN OFF WINDOWS FILE SHARING in the System Preferences.
I find the first example works best for me most of the time.
Then Go to Applications

Then Utilities and find the Terminal application and open it.

Open Terminal and type;

cd /etc

sudo pico smb.conf


You’ll be prompted for the password.

Then scroll down to the end of the options and add something like this below:


comment = BIG EXTERNAL

path = /Volumes/BIG EXTERNAL/

browsable = yes

public = yes

read only = no

Or maybe like this:


comment = USB Drive

path = /Volumes/USB Drive name

valid users = joe user

public = no

writable = yes

printable = no

When done making your changes, hit Control-O to write changes to disk (save additions to smb.conf file) and press Return when prompted for a file name. The hit Control-X to quit pico and close the Terminal window.

Now go to your Window PCs and try and ‘browse’ the network and find your shares.

To share additional folders, duplicate the section above — but change the name, comment, and path for each new folder.
I have used this and veriations of this technique for years with great success.
Hope this helps you get productive.

Ok now what if you need to mount an NTFS volume ‘in’ OS X?
There are a few solutions.
This one is condensed from tips from MacOSXHints:

Snow Leopard has the ability to mount NTFS volumes as read/write, but it’s not enabled by default — just read only is supported, as in 10.5. Here’s how to get full read/write support for NTFS drives in Snow Leopard.
First, uninstall NTFS-3G or Paragon if you’re using either one!

Here’s how to get read/write support for NTFS drives in Snow Leopard:

1. In Terminal, type diskutil info /Volumes/volume_name, where volume_name is the name of the NTFS volume. From the output, copy the Volume UUID value to the clipboard.

2. Back up /etc/fstab if you have it; it shouldn’t be there in a default install.

3. Type sudo nano /etc/fstab.

4. In the editor, type UUID=, then paste the UUID number you copied from the clipboard. Type a Space, then type none ntfs rw. The final line should look like this: UUID=123-456-789 none ntfs rw, where 123-456-789 is the UUID you copied in the first step.

5. Repeat the above steps for any other NTFS drives/partitions you have.

6. Save the file and quit nano (Control-X, Y, Enter), then restart your system.

After rebooting, NTFS partitions should natively have read and write support.
This works with both 32- and 64-bit kernels. Support is quite good and fast, and it even recognizes file attributes such as hidden files.
[There may be good reasons why Apple left support disabled, so use at your own risk!]

Another solution that may be simpler is to use this utility which ‘puts’ a GUI onto the above style tweak.

Anyhow I hope this helps