Computer Tips and Tricks
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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Using Large external USB Drives on XBOX 360

Like millions of other PC users I have hundreds of video files that I have created or acquired over the years. These are always available to me to play on my computer any time I like. However, on occasions I like to kick back and watch these on my big screen TV.

I can do this in several ways. Burn the files to DVD and play them though my DVD player, which is a waste of discs and RW's tend to be unreliable. I could connect my computer to my TV via a HDMI cable or use the Media Centre Connector on my XBOX 360. However both requires my Computer to be running and in the Media Centre option, my Xbox as well, along with my TV. My computer is pretty hefty and uses a 750 WATT power supply. It is NOT light on the electricity bill.

My alternative option is to use an External USB Hard drive from the USB port on my XBOX 360 console and navigate with my Media Centre Remote Control.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Enabling Audio Input Monitoring in Windows Vista/7

Now and then I like to plug my MP3 player in to the "Line-In" jack of laptop and play my music through my Laptop speakers. When I was using Windows XP, this was easy. I just plugged it in to the Line-In jack, unmuted the Line-In and away I went.

Control Panel > Sound > Playback > Speakers Properties > Levels tab

Since changing to a Windows Vista and most recently Windows 7 Enterprise, I discovered that the option to unmute the Line-In was no longer available. Microsoft in all their wisdom have switched it off by default for some sounds cards.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Simple File backup with Robocopy

One of the main issues when using any computer is regular backup of your precious data to protect against corruption and accidental deletion. Microsoft has always provided their "Windows Backup" utility and it is generally very good for full system backups and restores.

But what if you want to backup just your personal data or certain files or folders and not others? What if you just want to restore one particular file? There are plenty of third party tools that will do the job, but some can be rather expensive. Besides, why buy what you already have.

Supplied in Windows Vista, 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2, as well as the previous resource kits is a utility called "Robocopy." This is a small command line based tool (a bit like XCopy) that can be scripted and configured with exceptions, to copy selective data either once or on a schedule and even write to a comprehensive log file.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Using XCacls on Server 2008

Ever needed to change permissions on files and/or folders in bulk? But you don't want to sit there watching it and hitting continue every so often.

Well XCacls will do the job. It is a control list tool that will set permissions at file and folder level in bulk, and will even set the inheritence.

XCacls is a fairly old tool and can be downloaded from here.

To use this on Server 2008, you will need to do two things.

First after downloading and extracting the XCacls.vbs file, you will need to edit it.