Windows en ARChron Hack Brings Android Apps to Chrome for Linux, OS X and Windows <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="ARChron" title="ARChron" width="228" height="151" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Theoretically, almost any app can be ported</h3> <p>When Google first announced Chrome OS in 2009, among the few people who were polite enough to not dismiss it outright, and predict for it either a stillbirth or an early demise, were those who saw a merger with Android as its ultimate fate. Of course, let alone a full-blown merger, we have yet to see substantial interplay between the two platforms. The best we have seen, all these years down the line, is the <strong>ability to run a grand total of four Android apps on Chrome OS</strong> — and that too is a very recent development. Even now, Google is only working with “a select group of Android developers” and is unlikely to bring more than a handful of mobile apps to Chrome OS in the near future. Well, that’s what hacks are for, right?</p> <p>A developer named Vlad Filippov (a.k.a Vladikoff) has not not only figured out a <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" target="_blank">way to run virtually any Android app on Chrome OS</a>, he has also found a way to do so using the Chrome browser on major desktop OSes like OS X, Linux and Windows. To this end, he has released a custom version of <a href="" target="_blank">App Runtime for Chrome (ARC)</a>, the Native Client-based Chrome OS extension that enables Android apps to run on Chrome — the APK needs to be converted into a Chrome extension. Unlike ARC, which is only compatible with Chrome OS,&nbsp; the hacked version called <a href="">ARChon</a> can be used to run Android apps inside the Chrome browser. As for converting APKs into Chrome extensions, the Toronto-based developer has released a tool called “<a href="" target="_blank">chromeos-apk</a>”.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> app runtime for chrome apps archron chrome chrome os hack linux nacl native client OS OS X Software Windows News Mon, 22 Sep 2014 06:54:08 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28578 at Microsoft Unveils Universal Keyboard and Wired Xbox One Controller for Windows <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/xbox_one_controller_windows.jpg" alt="Xbox One Controller for Windows" title="Xbox One Controller for Windows" width="228" height="188" style="float: right;" />A keyboard that doesn't play favorites</h3> <p><strong>Microsoft beefed up its hardware portfolio today</strong>, and two of the more notable items consist of a universal mobile keyboard that works with Windows, iOS, and Android devices, and a wired Xbox One controller for Windows. For those of you looking for a new rodent, the company also released an <a href="" target="_blank">Arc Touch Bluetooth mouse</a> and a <a href="" target="_blank">Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Limited Edition</a>.</p> <p>Getting back to the good stuff, the universal keyboard sports an OS switch that lets you change from one operating system to another while maintaining a fully functional keyboard. That means you can pair the keyboard with up to three devices and take advantage of each one's unique keys, like the Windows Control key, the iOS Command key, and Android's Home button, all on a single plank.</p> <p>It also sports a built-in cover that doubles as a stand for your tablet or smartphone when opened up. When you flip it open, it turns the keyboard on automatically and initiates a Bluetooth connection. Closing the cover turns it back off. <a href="" target="_blank">According to Microsoft</a>, the rechargeable battery is good for up to six months of use on a single charge -- if it runs out of juice, it only takes 10 minutes to charge it enough to last a full day.</p> <p><iframe src="//" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Mobile Keyboard</a> will be available in October for $79.95 at the <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Store</a> and other places.</p> <p>As for the Xbox One controller, it's now available for the PC. Like the version for the Xbox One, it sports over 40 improvements compared to the Xbox 360 controller. It also comes with a cable so you can enjoy a wired connection and not worry about battery life; it also works wirelessly, but only on the Xbox One, not PC.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Xbox One Controller + Cable for Windows</a> will be available in November for $59.95.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> controller Hardware keyboard microsoft Windows xbox one News Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:45:13 +0000 Paul Lilly 28545 at China to Microsoft: You Have 20 Days to Explain Compatibility Problems <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/microsoft_sign_5.jpg" alt="Microsoft Sign" title="Microsoft Sign" width="228" height="133" style="float: right;" />Microsoft must issue a written statement to China within 20 days</h3> <p>Around the same time China banned Windows 8 from government use over concerns that there could be built-in spying mechanisms, authorities also began investigating Microsoft for antitrust violations. The latest in China's antitrust probe over Microsoft's business practices has the <strong>State Administration for Industry and Commerce giving the Redmond outfit 20 days to issue a written explanation</strong>. What for, you ask?</p> <p>The agency wants Microsoft to explain "problems like incompatibility and other issues caused by a lack of released information about its Windows and Office software," according to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Wall Street Journal's</em></a> translation of the SAIC's <a href="" target="_blank">online notice</a>. That's an incredibly vague task, though the agency issued the 20-day deadline during a meeting with Microsoft, in which further details were likely given.</p> <p>Citing state media reports, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Reuters</em> says</a> Microsoft's use of verification codes led to complaints by Chinese companies. Interestingly, verification codes could be one of the ways Microsoft supposedly violated China's anti-monopoly law, though if that's the case, it puts Microsoft in a tough spot. Software piracy in China is a big problem for Microsoft, and it's difficult to see how verification codes could run afoul of antitrust laws.</p> <p>Microsoft isn't China's only foreign target when it comes to anti-monopoly concerns. There are dozens of other companies being investigated, including Qualcomm, which China accuses of overcharging customers for its patents.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> antitrust china microsoft office Software Windows News Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:01:22 +0000 Paul Lilly 28458 at Microsoft is Cleaning up Windows Store, Removes 1,500 Copycat and Fraudulent Apps <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/windows_8_logo.jpg" alt="Windows 8 Logo" title="Windows 8 Logo" width="200" height="200" style="float: right;" />Cleaning is good for the Store</h3> <p>It’s easy to be overwhelmed when searching for applications on the various platforms out there. If it is not due to various apps having similar names then it is the ones that are copycats or even fraudulent. Well, <strong>Microsoft announced that it has removed 1,500 apps from its Windows Store</strong> in an attempt to make finding things easier and provide better quality and choice.&nbsp;</p> <p>To this end, Microsoft has modified its Windows Store app certification requirements. Some of the changes made involves the name of an app. An app’s name will need to “clearly and accurately reflect the functionality of the app.” Developers will also need to make sure that apps are properly categorized and icons must be different from other apps so that consumers will not mistake one for another. The policies are being applied to both new and existing apps for Windows and the Windows Phone Store.</p> <p>Windows Store general manager Todd Brix wrote of Microsoft’s progress on the <a title="Microsoft blog" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">official blog</span></a> saying, “These revised policies are being applied to all new app submissions and existing app updates for both the Windows and Windows Phone Store. We’ve also been working on titles already in the catalog, conducting a review of Windows Store to identify titles that do not comply with our modified certification requirements. This process is continuing as we work to be as thorough and transparent as possible in our review. Most of the developers behind apps that are found to violate our policies have good intentions and agree to make the necessary changes when notified. Others have been less receptive, causing us to remove more than 1,500 apps as part of this review so far.”</p> <p>Brix goes on to say that this is still an ongoing process and that the company is increasing resources to speed up the process.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> apps microsoft Todd Brix Windows Windows apps windows store News Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:02:52 +0000 Sean D Knight 28443 at China Plans to Build an Operating System to Replace Windows and Android <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/chinese_windows_7.jpg" alt="Chinese Windows 7" title="Chinese Windows 7" width="228" height="165" style="float: right;" />China's own operating system could be ready by October</h3> <p>After banning Microsoft's Windows 8 software for use on government PCs, <strong>China is now reportedly planning to cook up its own operating system</strong>. The home brewed OS could see a launch as early as October, and it would have the full backing of the Chinese government. China's motivation in building an OS of its own is to alleviate concerns that imported software from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Apple could have spying mechanisms built into the code base.</p> <p>According to <em>Reuters</em>, China's OS would debut on desktop devices before expanding into smartphone and other mobile categories.</p> <p>"We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores," Ni Guangnan, head of an of an official OS development alliance, told the <em>People's Post and Telecommunications News</em>, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Reuters</em> reports</a>.</p> <p>China banned the government use of Windows 8 back in May. Shortly after, China began investigating Microsoft for anti-trust violations.</p> <p>Tensions are also high between China and Google, with the former saying the latter has too much control over China's smartphone industry through Android.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> android china Google microsoft operating system OS Privacy Security Software Windows News Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:10:02 +0000 Paul Lilly 28411 at Internet Explorer 8 Support to End in Early 2016 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="" alt="Internet Explorer 8" title="Internet Explorer 8" width="228" height="171" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Per one estimate, IE 8 still accounts for over one-fifth of the PC browser market</h3> <p>Microsoft detailed its browser support plans in a post on the Internet Explorer Team Blog on Thursday. In its post, the company included a <strong>list of operating systems and browser version combinations that will continue to be supported beyond January 12, 2016</strong>, and the five-year-old Internet Explorer 8, currently the most popular version of the browser, is not on the list.</p> <p>“After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates,” Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer, wrote in the <a href=";utm_source=pulsenews" target="_blank">blog post</a>, urging all users to enable automatic updates. “For example, customers using Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, or Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 SP1 should migrate to Internet Explorer 11 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.”</p> <p>Apart from Windows 7 SP1, Microsoft will continue to support Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 beyond the said date. <br />The other versions to which support will continue to flow are IE 9 on Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2, and IE 10 on Windows Server 2012.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> browser end of life Internet Explorer 8 microsoft security updates Software Windows News Mon, 11 Aug 2014 05:21:31 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28321 at Google Releases 64-bit Chrome Browser for Windows to Beta Channel <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/chrome.jpg" alt="Chrome" title="Chrome" width="228" height="105" style="float: right;" />64-bit Chrome creeps closer to a stable release</h3> <p>Here's a bit of good news if you've been wanting to experiment with Google's Chrome browser in 64-bit form but weren't so keen on installing an ultra-early build that might be riddled with buggy code. <strong>Google just added the Chrome 64-bit Beta Channel for Windows 7 and 8 users</strong>, giving curious users and early adopters a more stable release to play with. It's probably not a good idea to use it for mission critical applications, but it should be in pretty good shape at this point.</p> <p>You can download the installer from Google's Beta download pages. Be warned that the new version will replace the existing version you have installed, though it will also preserve all your setting and bookmarks, so there's no need to uninstall Chrome before hitting up the new release, <a href="" target="_blank">Google says</a>.</p> <p>In theory, the 64-bit build should speed up page loads and offer other benefits on the backend, especially if you're a power user with multiple tabs open at any given time. However, you may or may not notice a real-world difference, depending on your setup and your browsing habits.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 64-bit beta browser chrome Google Internet online Software Windows News Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:50:35 +0000 Paul Lilly 28270 at Cheap Windows Laptops Will Give Chromebooks Competition in the Second Half of 2014 <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/acer_laptop.jpg" alt="Acer Laptop" title="Acer Laptop" width="228" height="180" style="float: right;" />Get ready for an influx of $199 to $249 Windows laptops</h3> <p>A big reason why Chromebooks are selling so well is because they offer up basic functionality at dirt cheap prices. However, what would happen if Windows laptops could easily be found at the same price points? It's a question that will get answered within the next few months. That's because <strong>Intel, Microsoft, and notebook makers are collaborating on entry-level laptops that will sell for $199 to $249</strong>.</p> <p>Citing sources within the upstream supply chain, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Digitimes</em> says</a> that these cheap Windows laptops will enter the market in the second half of this year. These will probably range in size from 10.1 inches to 15.6 inches with non-touchscreen displays powered by Intel's Bay Trail-M platform. Braswell-based processors could also sneak in.</p> <p>There are some parameters that Intel and Microsoft are insisting upon, such as keeping the clamshell laptops less than 25mm. The entry-level laptops must also have battery lives of 5 hours or more, 1-4GB of DDR memory, and either a 500GB hard drive or 16-32GB SSD. And of course they'll run Windows 8.1.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></p> chromebook Hardware intel laptop microsoft mobile notebook Windows News Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:58:02 +0000 Paul Lilly 28231 at No, Microsoft Isn't Scaling Back to One Version of Windows for All Devices <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/satya_nadella_2.jpg" alt="Satya Nadella" title="Satya Nadella" width="228" height="152" style="float: right;" />Understanding Microsoft's unified strategy</h3> <p>Microsoft chief Satya Nadella caused a whirlwind of headlines and speculation with a comment he made during his company's fiscal fourth quarter earnings call. The way he worded some early rhetoric made it sound like the next version of Windows -- codenamed Threshold and likely to be called Windows 9 -- will ship with but a single SKU rather than multiple versions for smartphones, desktops, gaming consoles, and so forth. However, <strong>Nadella wasn't talking about a single OS to rule them all</strong>.</p> <p>The cause of confusion stems from Nadella saying, "We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating systems for screens of all sizes." However, he would later clarify that he was referring to the engineering approach -- having a single team work on all versions of Windows, each of which is built around a common core.</p> <p>"We will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users. And so we will be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past," Nadella clarified.</p> <p>That said, Microsoft is hard at work unifying the Windows experience. Nadella envisions a unified store serving all platforms, even Xbox, along with a unified developer platform in which programmers can write code a single time and have their software run on any version of Windows.</p> <p>For more of what Nadella had to say, <em>Seeking Alpha</em> has the <a href="" target="_blank">entire transcript</a> from the earnings call.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS satya nadella Software Windows News Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:09:43 +0000 Paul Lilly 28222 at Google Chrome: Draining Laptop Batteries Since At Least 2010 <!--paging_filter--><p><strong><strong><img src="" alt="Low Battery Warning" title="Low Battery Warning" width="228" height="107" style="float: right;" /></strong>First discovered in 2010, battery-draining bug yet to be fixed</strong></p> <p>It seems Microsoft has quietly slipped into the habit of commissioning at least one study every year that <a href="" target="_blank">compares the power-consumption habits of major web browsers</a> and declares the latest version of the company’s very own Internet Explorer to be the most power-efficient browser of them all. Although one can’t take such comparisons seriously, there may be some truth to them after all, especially where the lackluster performance of Chrome is concerned.</p> <p>There is a serious bug in Chrome that causes the browser to wake up the CPU as many as 1,000 times per second even when idle, thanks to the system clock tick rate being set to 1.00ms by Chrome. This is many times more than the 64 times per second usually observed with the Windows default clock tick rate of 15.625ms. Believe it or not, this bug has been known to Google for many years now but has yet to be addressed. According to a <a href="" target="_blank">Chromium bug report, dated September 29, 2012</a> (the <a href="" target="_blank">bug first surfaced in 2010</a>), the issue boils down to there being “no system clock tick interval management.”</p> <p>The bug report also quotes Microsoft on this whole issue of the clock tick being decreased to 1ms: "If the system timer interval is decreased to less than the default, including when an application calls timeBeginPeriod with a resolution of 1 ms, the low-power idle states are ineffective at reducing system power consumption and system battery life suffers.System battery life can be reduced as much as 25 percent, depending on the hardware platform. This is because transitions to and from low-power states incur an energy cost. Therefore, entering and exiting low-power states without spending a minimum amount of time in the low-power states can be more costly than if the system simply remained in the high-power state."</p> <p>Thankfully, Google is now trying to fix this issue and the bug has been assigned internally.</p> <p>Follow Pulkit on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a></p> battery bug clock tick google chrome Software Windows News Mon, 21 Jul 2014 07:38:25 +0000 Pulkit Chandna 28200 at Microsoft Reportedly Expands Free Windows License Program to Boost Hardware Sales <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_8_logo.jpg" alt="Windows 8.1 Logo" title="Windows 8.1 Logo" width="228" height="228" style="float: right;" />More affordable Windows tablets could be on the horizon</h3> <p>Here's a bit of potentially good news for Microsoft's hardware partners. Word on the web is that <strong>Microsoft may expand its free Windows license program to include tablets priced below $250</strong>. Up until now, tablets less than 9 inches qualified for the subsidized pricing, though unconfirmed reports suggest the program will cast a wider net in order to get more Windows-based tablets out in the wild.</p> <p>Microsoft's partners already pay a reduced rate for Windows 8.1, and ever since June, they've paid nothing for installing Windows 8.1 on smaller size tablets. Giving Windows away like that reduces their cost by $10 to $15, and with sometimes razor thin profit margins ruling the day, it's been enough of an incentive to attract additional vendors into the Windows space.</p> <p>In addition, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Digitimes</em> reports</a> that Intel has been aggressively promoting its CPUs for mobile devices in China. The hope is that by offering its processors at cheap prices, it will attract white-box players to join the fold.</p> <p>As it stands, some 70 percent of whitebox vendors cooperating with Intel planned to release Android-based tablets in the second half of the year. However, between the expansion of the free Windows license program and cheaper Intel CPUs, that number is set to drop to 50 percent in the third quarter.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software Windows News Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:41:30 +0000 Paul Lilly 28160 at Best Media Player Roundup <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/media_roundup.jpg" alt="Media Player Roundup" title="Media Player Roundup" width="228" height="214" style="float: right;" />We evaluate a collection of media players to find the best one</h3> <p>If we strip away everything else, your choice of car doesn't matter so long as it gets you from Point A to Point B. However, there are all kinds of factors that separate a hot rod from jalopy on wheels, including price, performance, amenities, maintenance, and more. So it goes with media players, which are vehicles for your music and movies.</p> <p>Like cars, not all media players are created equal. Some are big and bulky, others are lightweight and nimble. If all you care about is the ability to play your favorite song over and over, just about any media player will do, but why short change yourself? Of course, going through the process of testing them all is a daunting task, so it's understandable if you want to roll the dice with a random selection.</p> <p>Better yet, get your click (or tap) finger ready and digest our evaluation of some the most popular (and not so popular) media players around. As we go from one selection to the next, we'll tell you what we like and despise about each one, and then pick a winner.</p> <h3>Windows Media Player</h3> <p>One of the oldest media players around is <a href="" target="_blank">Windows Media Player</a> (WMP). For about the past 300 years, it's come bundled with Windows. Not to be confused with Windows Media Center, WMP was and remains a free a program. The latest version is WMP 12.</p> <p>Microsoft was able to trim some of the fat off of WMP 12 compared to previous versions. Streaming a song from a networked PC while browsing Xbox Music through WMP consumes about 100MB of RAM and barely registers a blip on the CPU (0.3 percent to 0.9 percent useage). It shows that Microsoft is thinking about performance.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/wmp.jpg" alt="Windows Media Player" title="Windows Media Player" width="620" height="406" /></p> <p>We also like the fairly robust CODEC support. By and large the biggest issue with playing back media is that you're bound to run into a situation where you're missing the proper CODEC(s). It's almost unavoidable, though Microsoft made a concerted effort to minimize such situations. The usual suspects are supported -- MP3, WMV, and so forth, but WMP 12 also supports H.264 video, XviD, AAC audio, 3GP, AVCHD, DivX, and <a href="" target="_blank">several others</a>.</p> <p>Due to its integration with Windows, WMP is adept at snaking through your home network to play shared files. This is a big deal if you don't keep all your media on the PC you're using.</p> <p>What we don't like is WMP is only supported on Windows -- sorry, Linux fans! And in Microsoft's attempt to streamline WMP, navigation takes some getting used to.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Though it comes attached to Windows at the hip, WMP is one of better and more flexible media players available, and it's free!</p> <h3>Winamp</h3> <p>In stark contrast to Windows Media Player, which comes bundled with Windows, <a title="winamp" href="" target="_blank">Winamp</a> (and all the rest we'll be looking at) is a third-party media player, but also an example of what can go wrong venturing out of Redmond. Winamp was a pretty popular program when it was released in 1997, and by the year 2000, it had amassed over 25 million registered users.</p> <p>A year prior to that, AOL had acquired Nullsoft, which owned Winamp. That made Winamp an AOL property, and whether by coincidence or not, later versions weren't received as well. Earlier this year <a href="">AOL announced</a> it was pulling the plug on Winamp, seemingly leaving its remaining users high and dry.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/winamp_1.jpg" alt="Winamp" title="Winamp" width="620" height="431" /></p> <p>Radionomy stepped in and purchased Nullsoft, and as of now, Winamp has a future under its new ownership. As it stands, Winamp is fairly robust -- you can customize the software with skins, tweak the equalizer, connect and manage devices over Wi-Fi, and more.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> This once popular media player is stuck in limbo until its new owners can pump out a new version with promised upgrades.</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to read about VLC and more.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>VideoLAN (VLC)</h3> <p><a title="vlc" href="" target="_blank">VLC</a> is easily one of the most popular and well-liked media players around. It's an open source program with cross platform compatibility and an incredibly robust catalog of supported file formats. There's very little that can't be played in VLC.</p> <p>The interface appears a bit dated at this point, but if you take the time to dig beneath the surface, you'll find there's a <a title="vlc tips" href="" target="_blank">fair amount you can do with it</a>. Plugins and extensions increase the functionality even further. That said, novice users are likely to either feel overwhelmed, or never be able to take full advantage of all VLC has to offer. This is part because the interface needs a redesign in a big way.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/vlc.jpg" alt="VLC" title="VLC" width="620" height="553" /></p> <p>We like that you can configure a boatload of hotkeys in VLC. These can be a big time saver if you're a media enthusiast, which is definitely something VLC encourages. It's also nice having a "Reset Preferences" button in case you muck things up playing with the myriad settings.</p> <p>Where you decide to stop with your tweaking is up to you. There are tweaks to make increase the volume of dialog without having it washed out by louder sound effects, and vice versa. In fact, there's not much you <em>can't</em> do with VLC.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> VLC may need a facelift, but its true beauty lies beneath the surface.</p> <h3>GOM Player</h3> <p>Though <a title="gom" href="" target="_blank">GOM</a> is another free media player (aren't they all?), be warned that it will try and install Conduit Search (i.e., adware) during installation if you're not paying attention. It's easy enough to tell it, "Hell no!," but only if you don't rapid fire the "Next" button during installation. (Related story: <a href="" target="_blank">How to Download Software Without Installing Malware</a>)</p> <p>When you first launch GOM, it will bombard you with questions about how you want it configured. Most users will be fine to use the default options, though you'll want to pay attention to the selections to see if there's anything you want to change, including a more advanced mode for higher quality displays.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/gom.jpg" alt="GOM" title="GOM" width="590" height="331" /></p> <p>GOM's strength is in its simplicity. Navigating the UI is rather easy. It's also nice that GOM makes it easy to take screen captures of video -- there's a basic screen capture and an advanced screen capture that allows you to customize various settings, including whether you want to take a single snapshot or burst capture.</p> <p>While not immediately obvious, there are a lot of options underneath the surface. You'll find them by right-clicking the main window or by clicking on the tiny gear icon in the upper left corner.</p> <p>Unfortunately, GOM isn't an audio player. That functionality comes through a separate download -- <a title="gom audio" href="" target="_blank">GOM Audio</a>. If the two programs came baked as one, GOM would make a strong choice for our top pick. As it stands, it's a solid entry for video.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> GOM has the interface we wish VLC had, though unlike VLC, playing audio files requires a separate program download.</p> <h3>GOM Audio</h3> <p>GOM Audio is to music/audio what GOM Player is to video. While we'd prefer if thet two were integrated into a single application, if you're just looking for piece of software for your music catalog, this is a great option.</p> <p>You can use the equalizer to fine tune your music to your tastes and/or speakers. If you'd rather not tinker but still prefer a customized audio experience, you can choose between 18 different pre-sets. Curiously missing, however, is a preset for Country -- that's a big omission considering how popular the genre is.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/gom_audio.jpg" alt="GOM Audio" title="GOM Audio" width="310" height="440" /></p> <p>GOM Audio allows you to open up multiple playlists, export playlists, control the tempo of songs, stream radio from the web, and more. One particularly nice feature is the ability to set a shutdown timer -- this is handy if you want to fall asleep to music, but not wake up in the middle of the night to continued tunes.</p> <p>You won't have to worry about system resources with GOM Audio -- streaming from a radio station on the web only consumed around 43MB of RAM and used less than 1 percent of the Core i7 4770 in our test system.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> A great media player for audio, but you can't watch video with it.</p> <p><strong>Click the next page to read about Apple iTunes and more.</strong></p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Apple iTunes</h3> <p>If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you don't necessarily need to have <a title="itunes" href="" target="_blank">iTunes</a> installed, but it can make life easier. At the same time, it can make things more difficult as well. Say what?</p> <p>Here's the deal -- if you take the time to really learn iTunes and all its nuances, then you can do most things you'd want to do with your mobile devices. The problem is iTunes is cumbersome and clunky, especially if you've never used it before. It's also a resource hog. Just firing up iTunes consumes about 170MB of RAM, and that's before you do anything with it. To be fair, it's not as heavy on the CPU as it is RAM (and hard drive space).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u69/itunes.jpg" alt="iTunes" title="iTunes" width="620" height="497" /></p> <p>Apple affords end-users a bit of control on the backend, though not much. For example, you can turn on the Sound Enhancer, but you won't find an equalizer. It wouldn't be hard for Apple to add one, but the company is much more focused on making iTunes a content consumption portal -- while manipulating your library can be a bit tricky, it's remarkably easy to spend money on new songs, movies, and TV shows.</p> <p>While you're encouraged to spend money in iTunes, it's also easy to look up free content. We also have to give props to iTunes for its massive catalog of content. iTunes Radio is another bonus. You can listen to music for free with ads, or subscribe to iTunes Match for $25/year for ad-free music.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong>&nbsp;It's the media player with the biggest catalog, but not the best for managing your content.</p> <h3>Media Player Classic Home Cinema</h3> <p>Sometimes you just want to kick it old school, and that's precisely what <a title="mpc" href="" target="_blank">Media Player Classic</a> (MPC) does. Well, sort of. The beauty of MPC is that is looks and feels like the Windows Media Player 6.4, an ancient release by today's standards but one that was lightweight and super simple to use. MPC brings back those elements and injects modern features into the mix.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/mpc-hc.jpg" alt="Media Player Classic" title="Media Player Classic" width="620" height="470" /></p> <p>Though nimble in appearance, MPC supports a pretty wide range of file formats. It can play VCD, SVCD, and DVD, as well as process AC3 and DTS audio, among many others. MPC also boasts native playback of OGM and Matroska container formats.</p> <p>Another reason you might want to consider MPC is if you own an older computer. You can watch movies on any SSE processor, which means your 10-year-old PC can become a dedicated media player, if you want it to be.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> A no-nonsense media player with an old-school design and some new-school tricks.</p> <h3>XBMC</h3> <p>We've featured <a title="xbmc" href="" target="_blank">XBMC</a> on Maximum PC on a few different occasions, including a <a href="">guide on using XBMC</a> as your media hub and another showing <a href="">how to organize</a> your music, movies, and ROMs. Unlike traditional media players, however, XBMC isn't designed to work within Windows as one of several programs to manipulate, but as its own OS. It's not really an operating system, but once you fire it up, it looks and feels like one, sort of like Steam's Big Picture mode.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/xbmc.jpg" alt="XBMC" title="XBMC" width="620" height="262" /></p> <p>As such, XBMC is best suited for a home theater PC (HTPC). It supports a bunch of different OSes, and once it's up and running, you'll find it also supports lots of different file formats. We're equally impressed with how easy it is to navigate the interface to add and manipulate media, including files found on network-attached devices. It's also capable of streaming over the Internet so you can watch your content when away from home.</p> <p>Being an open source project with support for plug-ins, XBMC can be as robust as you want it to be. It's definitely overkill if you're not looking to run an HTPC, but otherwise it's one of the best all-around media players on the web.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> If you're building an HTPC, XBMC is definitely worth a look. Otherwise, look elsewhere.</p> <h3>RealPlayer Cloud</h3> <p>Several years ago, we couldn't uninstall RealPlayer fast enough. It was slow, resource heavy, and at one point it even served up annoying adware. People who wanted to use RealPlayer for one reason or another were advised to download Real Alternative, which allowed the playback of RealMedia files without the obnoxious footprint and adware.</p> <p>Fast forward to today and RealPlayer is now <a title="realplayer cloud" href="" target="_blank">RealPlayer Cloud</a> with a different focus. It's dubbed as being "Dropbox for video," and that's not an inaccurate descripton. RealPlayer Cloud takes a different approach to media. Any time you upload a file to your personal folder in the cloud, RealPlayer Cloud will transcode it into different formats that your mobile devices can understand. This eliminates the need to transcode files on your own for various mobile gadgets, but it also means you'll chew through storage space.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/realplayercloud.jpg" alt="RealPlayer Cloud" title="RealPlayer Cloud" width="620" height="407" /></p> <p>RealPlayer Cloud offers 2GB of cloud storage for free, plus 1GB of additional storage for you and a friend each time you refer someone. Adding devices nets you an additional 250MB, as does both adding and sharing a video. If that's still not enough, you can sign up for a Silver plan (25GB for $4.99/month), Gold plan (100GB for $9.99/month), or Pro plan (300GB for $29.99/month).</p> <p>You don't need to tap into the cloud to use RealPlayer Cloud, it will happily serve up your local audio and video files, too. And if you want to hide certain videos that might not be appropriate for little Johnny to see (or whoever else might use your PC), you can initiate Private Mode. This will put videos in a hidden folder that's unlockable with a PIN code, as well as clear your clip history when you're finished.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> Forget what you remember about RealPlayer and give RealPlayer Cloud a look.</p> <h3>KMPlayer with Connect (Beta)</h3> <p>The latest version of <a href="" target="_blank">KMPlayer</a> is a beta release that works in tandem with your mobile devices. You input a PIN code and password on, say, your mobile phone and you can access your media.</p> <p>On the desktop, KMPlayer supports almost everything under the sun, even damaged AVI files. There's also a 3D mode. Behind the scenes are a lot of dials and knobs to play with, and while they're pretty straightforward, less savvy and/or casual users might feel overwhelmed. That said, power users will delight in all the options, including some unexpected ones, like Intel WiDi support.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/kmplayer_0.jpg" alt="KMPlayer" title="KMPlayer" width="620" height="325" /></p> <p>This is a big program along the lines of iTunes or Windows Media Player. It also tries to bring some friends along for the ride during installation -- pay attention to those checkboxes or you'll end up with unrelated third-party software.</p> <p><strong>Final Word:</strong> A full featured media player best suited for power users.</p> <h3>And the Media Player Winner is...</h3> <p>There were quite a few contenders here -- more than we expected, actually -- but when the dust settled, we had to give the nod to <strong>VLC</strong> as the overall best media player. That doesn't mean you should ignore the other options if there's one you like better. However, we chose VLC in what turned out to be a close race because of its lightweight and no-nonsense approach combined with its wide range of CODEC support.</p> <p>We also have to give a shout out to RealPlayer Cloud. It's not anything like the RealPlayer of yesteryear, and we really like its cloud approach to media. We're all pushing smartphones and tablets these days, and RealPlayer Cloud makes it easy to access all our content on-the-go, albeit you're only allotted 2GB of storage space for free.</p> best Media Player itunes music roundup vlc Windows Windows Media Player Features Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:08:56 +0000 Paul Lilly 27878 at Microsoft's Kinect for Windows v2 Sensor Goes Up for Pre-Order <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/kinect_for_windows_v2_0.jpg" alt="Kinect for Windows v2" title="Kinect for Windows v2" width="228" height="105" style="float: right;" />Second generation Kinect sensor is coming to Windows</h3> <p>Microsoft announced at BUILD back in April that it would make its Kinect for Windows v2 sensor and Software Development Kit (SDK) available sometime this summer. Keeping true to its promise, <strong>developers can pre-order the Kinect for Windows v2 sensor</strong>. Those who do will be able to start building out solutions such as Windows Store apps for Kinect ahead of everyone else.</p> <p>Sensors that are pre-ordered will ship out in July. During that time, Microsoft will also release a public beta of its SDK. This will all happen a few months ahead of when the general public will have access to the hardware and software, Microsoft says.</p> <p>"Thousands of developers wanted to take part in our Developer Preview program but were unable to do so—in fact, we’re still receiving requests from all around the world. So for these and other developers who are eager to start using the Kinect for Windows v2, the pre-order option offers access to the new sensor ahead of general availability. Bear in mind, however, that we have limited quantities of pre-order sensors, so order while supplies last," Microsoft stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>If you're interested, <a href="" target="_blank">head here</a> for more information on pre-ordering the Kinect for Windows v2, which runs $199.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Hardware kinect microsoft motion control Windows News Fri, 06 Jun 2014 16:39:06 +0000 Paul Lilly 27959 at Blue Screen of Death Survival Guide: Every Error Explained <!--paging_filter--><h3>Every Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) deciphered (Updated!)</h3> <p>If you're returning here by way of bookmark, first off, please accept our condolences. There's only reason you spend time reading a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) article, and that's to try and solve a problem you're having with your own system. If we could give out a teddy bear stuffed with cash to each person that visited this article, we'd do it. Sadly, we don't have teddy bears, and what little cash we have is usually spent at the pub.</p> <p>Secondly, you must we wondering, "Oh snap! I see change, and I hate change! Where's the old BSoD article I bookmarked?!" Not to fear, we realize you hate change, which is why come hell or high water, you're sticking it out with Windows XP even after Microsoft stopped supporting it on April 8, 2014. We have your back, and the original article is still here. All of it. So what are we doing here?</p> <p>The first is we're updating verbiage where necessary. If there was something that seemed difficult to understand before, it should now be easier to decipher. The second thing we've done is added some new information. You see, BSoDs are far less common in the Windows 8/8.1 era, and that was true in the Windows 7 days as well. We've updated this article to explain what happened and what's changed.</p> <p>Finally, we've added a picture gallery. No, it's not filled with cute fuzzy kittens and lolcats, though we're not opposed to either one. It is, however, populated with some of the most embarrassing and comical BSoDs to have ever occurred. Hopefully you'll get a chuckle out of it, or at the very least come to realize that the BSoD you're dealing with isn't as bad as could be.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/bsod_screens.jpg" alt="BSOD Errors" title="BSOD Errors" /></p> <p>Sound like a plan? Great! Let's get started!</p> <p>Picture this: It’s late at night, you’re sitting at your computer playing a game or working on a project when, suddenly, Windows freezes completely. All your work is gone, and you find a blue screen full of gibberish staring back at you. Windows is dead, Jim, at least until you reboot it. You have no choice but to sigh loudly, shake your fist at Bill Gates and angrily push the reset button. You’ve just been visited by the ghost of windows crashed: The blue screen of death.</p> <p>Also known as the BSoD, the Blue Screen of Death appears when Windows crashes or locks up. It’s actually a Windows “stop” screen, and is designed to do two things: tell you the reason for the error, and to calm your nerves, hence the use of the color blue (studies show it has a relaxing effect on people). Though Blue Screens are difficult to decipher, all the information you need to figure out what caused it is right there in front of you in blue and white—and that’s where we come in. We’re going to show you how to dissect the blue screen error details, so you can fix the problem that’s causing them.</p> <h2>BSoD 101: A Crash Course</h2> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Main.png" width="397" height="279" /></p> <h3>Error Name</h3> <p>There are many parts to a BSoD, but the most important is right at the top. The actual name of the error is presented in all caps with an underscore between each word. In some cases this will be all that’s needed to get to the root of the problem (thanks to the handy guide you are about to read). Most of the time, however, more information will be required.</p> <h3><strong>Troubleshooting Advice</strong></h3> <p>Nearly every BSoD includes a portion of text with some basic troubleshooting advice, the first of which recommends restarting your computer. Gee, thanks for the tip Microsoft. Before you restart, copy the exact all-caps error code and hexadecimal values shown above and below this portion of generic text. The next paragraph provides sound advice, alerting the user to check to make sure their hardware is installed properly, or to undo any recent software or hardware upgrades.</p> <h3><strong>Memory Dump</strong></h3> <p>Every BSoD is accompanied by a memory dump. What this means is when Windows crashes, it dumps whatever it is holding in system memory to a file, and saves the file on your hard drive for debugging purposes. If you contact Microsoft for technical assistance, they’ll want to know the contents of this file.</p> <h3><strong>Stop Code</strong></h3> <p>The “technical information” section portion contains the actual Windows stop code, in oh-so-easy-to-read hexadecimal form. Despite appearing unintelligible at first glance, this combination of numbers and letters is instrumental in determining the cause of the crash. Pay particular attention to the first set of numbers and letters. It precedes the other four, which are enclosed in parenthesis. If a specific driver is associated with the crash, it will be listed on the very next line.</p> <p>Click <a title="page 2" href=",1" target="_blank">here</a> to continue reading the article. &nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>I Run Vista, so I'm Immune to BSoDs, Right?</h2> <p>Unfortunately, no. A common misconception is that blue screens don't even exist in Vista, but not only are they still there, but we're here to tell you we've seen them first hand. The good news is Microsoft put a lot of work into how Vista handles critical errors and other glitches that in previous OSes would cause a system crash. Most of the time, if a problem occurs, Vista will attempt to fix the problem without any interruption. For example, if your videocard crashes, you may see a message saying "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered." In XP and previous OSes, this almost always would have resulted in a system crash.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Recovered.png" width="415" height="322" /></p> <p>In some cases, Vista will be unable recover on its own, and the result is a blue screen. By default, Vista will reboot itself after briefly flashing the blue screen. It happens so fast you might miss it, but once Windows reloads, you'll be greeted with an error message similar to the above. You can try clicking the 'Check for solution' button, just as you can try your hand playing the lotto. Neither one is likely to result in anything.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Restart.png" width="415" height="237" /></p> <p>Instead, scroll down and take note of the blue screen codes. Armed with this information, you can perform your own detective work. Alternately, if you'd prefer to see the actual blue screen rather than automatically rebooting, right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop, select Properties, and click on Advanced System Settings. In the System Properties window that appears, select the Advanced tab, click Settings under Startup and Recovery, and uncheck the box that says 'Automatically Restart.' The same steps also apply to XP.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Problems.png" width="415" height="300" /></p> <p>In another nod towards streamlining the troubleshooting process, Vista's Problem Reports and Solutions wizard can save you oodles of time in PC detective work, and may even alert you to potential conflicts you weren't even aware existed. You can find this applet by name in your Control Panel, or just type Problem Reports and Solutions in Vista's search box. Once loaded, click 'Check for new solutions' in the left-hand column. If Vista finds any conflicts, it will list them in the main window, along with any potential resolutions.</p> <p>Click&nbsp;<a title="page 3" href=",2" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;to continue reading the article. &nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h2>IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL (0x0000000A)</h2> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_IRQL.png" width="415" height="169" /></p> <p>The most common cause of this conflict is improperly installed drivers for a piece of hardware you recently installed. For example, if you’ve installed a webcam two weeks ago, and have been getting BSoDs ever since, start your investigation with the webcam. First, disconnect the hardware, and uninstall the drivers for it completely. If that fixes the blue screen, you can search for updated drivers or contact the manufacturer.</p> <p>If you haven't installed any new drivers recently, you'll need to do some more detective work. Start by examining the blue screen to see if it lists a specific driver. Looking at the blue screen, check the text at the very bottom of the screen. You'll probably see a file name. This is the driver that caused the problem. If, for example, the driver in question is named nv4_disp.dll (an nVidia-related file), and you've recently switched from an Nvidia videocard to an AMD part, then it's reasonable to assume that either the old driver was not uninstalled correctly, or the new drivers weren't properly installed.</p> <h3>Swapping Videocards</h3> <p>If you've narrowed your search of offending drivers down to those associated with your videocard, turn off the system, disconnect the power, and remove and reseat the videocard. Next, go into the BIOS (press F2 or Delete when your BIOS prompts you to do this, or consult your user manual or motherboard manufacturer's website) and check the bus speed for your videocard. We typically recommend leaving the PCI-E frequency set to Auto in the BIOS, but if you've overclocked your system, it can inadvertently knock the bus speed beyond a stable spec, which can cause blue screens. If that's the case, manually set your PCI-E frequency to 100MHz.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Uninstall.png" width="415" height="311" /></p> <p>You're more like to experience this IRQL error when switching form one videocard brand to another, as the drivers will conflict with each other. The safe way to swap videocards is to completely remove all remnants of your old videocard drivers. On older systems, you can try <a href="" target="_blank">Driver Cleaner</a>, or the freebie alternative <a href="" target="_blank">Driver Sweeper</a>&nbsp; To begin the process, open up your Control Panel, select Add or Remove Programs in XP or Programs and Features in Vista, highlight the videocard drivers, and click Uninstall. Reboot the computer, holding down the F8 key to enter safe mode. Run the Driver Cleaner utility to scrub away any remnants of the previous drivers that a typical uninstall overlooks. After you reboot, install the appropriate drivers for your new videocard.</p> <p>It's not entirely necessary to use a third-party utility, though if problems linger when trying to uninstall drivers on your own, it's worth a shot.</p> <h3><strong>Some Sound Advice</strong></h3> <p>When the error is related to an audio driver, take note of the program that was running when the BSoD occurred. Make sure the offending application's sound options are configured correctly -- it's especially important that it uses the correct audio device -- and download any patches available that address known issues. You should update your soundcard's drivers as well.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Soundcard.png" width="415" height="343" /></p> <p>If you're using an add-in soundcard, verify that the motherboard's onboard audio is disabled in the BIOS, so the two audio drivers don't conflict with each other.</p> <h3><strong>Change Doctors</strong></h3> <p>System services known to cause this error include virus scanners and backup utilities. We've had good luck sticking with the major players, such as AVG, Norton, Kaspersky, AntiVir, and Nod32 for our antivirus scanning, and Norton Ghost and Acronis TrueImage for backup duties. Do not run more than one antivirus application on your computer at the same time!</p> <h2>DATA_BUS_ERROR (0x0000002E)</h2> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/RAM.png" width="415" height="150" /></p> <p>This is one of the easier BSoDs to diagnose, as faulty memory sticks are almost always to blame. If you get this error, think for a second: Are those DIMMs you just added compatible with your motherboard? Your motherboard manufacturer's website will have a list of specific brands verified to work with your particular board, although these are often incomplete.</p> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Memory_Slots.png" width="415" height="311" /><br /><span style="font-size: xx-small">(Image Credit: Corsair)</span></div> <p>Next (and more importantly), are they installed in the correct slots? Some motherboards are more finicky than others when it comes to proper slot placement, and the situation is compounded when dealing with a dual-channel, tri-channel, and quad-channel configurations. Most motherboards that run dual-channel require that you install matching sets of RAM in the same-color slots, while others, such as some MSI boards, require that you install them in alternate slots. And if you have a Core i7 setup, you may need to install your RAM starting with the slot farthest from the CPU. When in doubt, poke your head in the user's manual.</p> <p>Once you've verified that your RAM is installed correctly and is compatible with your motherboard, check to make sure they're running within spec. It's possible you may have set your memory's latency timings too aggressive, or maybe the sticks can't handle the frequency you're trying to run them at. Your BIOS could also mis-read the SPD settings. Whatever the case, look up the correct parameters for your RAM and try manually setting them in the BIOS.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Memtest.png" width="370" height="295" /><br /><span style="font-size: xx-small">(Image Credit:</span></p> <p>If the problem persists, the the problem is likely a bad stick. To find out which stick is bad you can simply remove one stick, then run your system for a while to see if the blue screens stop. Then swap the sticks and run your test again. If the machine blue screens with one stick, but not the other, you've found your culprit. You can also run a diagnostic program such as <a href="" target="_blank">Memtest86+</a> to help determine which stick is defective. If you're running Vista, you can also use Microsoft's Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool. Type the name of the program in Vista's search box, and once selected, it will run the next time you reboot. Because most RAM sold today includes a lifetime warranty, be sure to check with your vendor before you toss out a bad stick.</p> <p>Click&nbsp;<a title="page 4" href=",3" target="_blank">here</a>&nbsp;to continue reading the article. &nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h2>NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM or FAT_FILE_SYSTEM (0x00000024 or 0x00000023)</h2> <p>While many blue screens can be traced back to a new hardware install or bad memory, this particular error screams in capital letters that something is fishy with your hard drive. The error that gets displayed depends on the file system your OS is using. In most cases, the file system will be NTFS. With really old systems, the error will read FAT16. If you get this error, be sure to do one thing immediately, before you even being to contemplate its cause: Back up your important data.</p> <h3>Call the Cable Guy</h3> <div style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_SATA.png" width="415" height="288" /><br /> <span style="font-size: xx-small"><span style="font-size: xx-small">(Image Credit: Tomshardware)</span></span></div> <p>The easiest solutions are often the most overclocked, but they can also be the most effective. Checking your hard drive's cable connections falls into this category. SATA cables are notorious for working themselves loose --we've had this happen to us on many occasions. If using a SATA drive, make sure you have only one power cable connected, not two (many SATA hard drives include a SATA power cable and a legacy four-pin connector). With a PATA drive, remove the ribbon cable and look for any bent or broken pins. Carefully line up the cable and push it securely into place. You might also have a bad cable, so if you have a space cable lying around -- one you know to be good -- swap it with the one in your PC.</p> <h3><strong>Check Please!</strong></h3> <p style="text-align: center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Chkdsk_0.png" width="415" height="178" /></p> <p>Now it's time to check your drive for errors. To do this, we'll first run a diagnostic scan. In XP, click Start, then Run, and type <em>cmd</em>. In Vista, simply type <em>cmd</em> in the Start Search box, then right-click cmd.exe and select Run as Administrator.. At the flashing command prompt, type chkdsk /f /r and reboot the system if prompted. The /f and /r switches attempt to fix file-system errors, then look for an mark any bad sectors before automatically rebooting when the scan completes.</p> <h3><strong>Change Drivers</strong></h3> <p>Even though we don't really think about hard drives as needing drivers, the controller's they're attached to most certainly do. A buggy SATA controller driver can wreak havoc on your data. Your motherboard's chipset drivers include specific drivers for the IDE/ATA controller tha the hard drives are connect to, so you'll need to install the latest version for your motherboard. To find your chipset drivers, you'll need to go to your motherboard manufacturer's website and search the support section, or head directly to your chipset manufacturer's website.</p> <h2>UNEXPECTED_KERNEL_MODE_TRAP (0x0000007F)</h2> <p>If you see this blue screen, you're probably overclocking your CPU, but this is not always the case. The 7F error is known to attack indiscriminately, lashing out at more than just overclockers. This particular BSoD can rear its head in response to bad RAM, a faulty motherboard, or a corrupted BIOS.</p> <h3><strong>Overzealous Overclocking</strong></h3> <p>If you've overclocked, the first thing you should do to isolate the problem (or any problem, for that matter) is to revert your overclocked components to their default speeds. If the blue screen goes away, then your overclock was too aggressive. The best way to ensure that your overclock is stable is to stress the hell out of your PC. To do this, many enthusiasts turn to the torture test named <a href="" target="_blank">Prime95</a>. This utility stressed your rig's CPU and memory subsystems. If any errors are found, it's a good indication that your system is not completely stable.</p> <h3><strong>Hot Potato!</strong></h3> <p>This BSoD could also be generated by an overheating PC, so it's a good practice to monitor your system temps on a regular basis. There are several temp monitoring programs available, such as <a href="" target="_blank">Core Temp</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Real Temp</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">SpeedFan</a>, and many others.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_Core_Temp.png" width="346" height="383" /></p> <p>As far as temperatures go, most CPUs can get very hot without incurring any damage. Temperatures of 75C under load aren't unheard of for hot-running CPUs, though most newer chips probably won't get as high. In general, it's a good idea to keep your CPU below 70C, and below 50C at idle. This will vary by processor make, model, and even steppings (revisions) of the same chip.</p> <p>If a processor is running hot, examine your case's airflow and see if there are any obstructions. Check your fans for dust buildup, including the top of the heatsink that's cooling your CPU. A high-quality cooler will also bring temperatures down. And you should always have some sort of thermal paste between the CPU and the cooler. Finally, verify that all fans are spinning. If the fan is plugged in and still not spinning, replace the defective fan immediately.</p> <h3><strong>The BIOS Beckons</strong></h3> <p>If your BIOS is corrupt or has trouble with a new component, such as newly released processor core, your first order of business is to update to the latest version. Before updating the BIOS, you should change its settings back to default (there is usually a "reset to default" setting in the BIOS that makes this process easy, or you can simply clear the CMOS via the jumper on your motherboard). You should never attempt to update your BIOS on a system that is overclocked and unstable. A sudden reboot in the middle of the BIOS-flashing process will destroy your motherboard, turning it into a fancy doorstop. And remember: Never, under any circumstances, restart or shut down the system while you're flashing yoru BIOS. You can download the latest BIOS from your motherboard manufacturer's website.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/BSOD_BIOS_Update.png" width="363" height="370" /></p> <p>When there are several different versions to choose from, skip right to the latest release rather than updating incrementally. Some motherboard vendors include utilities for updating the BIOS from within Windows. This makes the process easy enough for even novices to undertake, but for obvious reasons, we recommend avoiding this route when a system is prone to blue screens.</p> <h3><strong>Mating Memory</strong></h3> <p>Mismatched or bad memory sticks can also cause this blue screen. To scratch this one off of the troubleshooting list, run a single stick of RAM that Memtest86 has verified to be error free. If this solves the problem, replace the bad stick. If not, move on to the next step.</p> <h3><strong>CPU is Kaput</strong></h3> <p>We don't see this often, but another known cause for this particular error is a bad processor. Most people don't have the means to test the CPU in another system, so your options here may be limited. Local computer repair shops are sometimes willing to run the processor for a night or two for a nominal cost, but you can also contact AMD or Intel for a replacement if it's within the warranty period.</p> <p align="center"><img src="/files/u69/bent_pins.jpg" alt="Bent Pins" title="Bent Pins" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Click <a title="page 5" href=",4" target="_blank">here</a> to continue reading the article. &nbsp;</p> <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h2>Other Notable BSoDs</h2> <h3>PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA</h3> <p>Faulty hardware, including RAM (system, video, or L2 cache).</p> <h3><strong>INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE</strong></h3> <p>Caused by improperly configured jumpers on PATA hard drives, a boot sector virus, or incorrect IDE controller drives, which can also occur when installing the wrong chipset drivers.</p> <h3><strong>VIDEO_DRIVER_INIT_FAILURE</strong></h3> <p>Caused by installing the wrong drivers for a videocard or rebooting before driver installation could complete.</p> <h3><strong>BAD_POOL_CALLER</strong></h3> <p>Caused by a faulty or incompatible hardware driver, particularly when upgrading Windows XP instead of performing a clean install.</p> <h3><strong>PFN_LIST_CORRUPT</strong></h3> <p>Caused by faulty RAM.</p> <h3><strong>MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION</strong></h3> <p>A bad CPU -- or one that is too aggressively overclocked, or an underpowered or faulty power supply.</p> <h2>An End Run Around the BSoD</h2> <p>Reading blue screens of death is fun and all, but there's another, easier way to discover what your PC's problem is: the Event Viewer. When an error occurs in Windows, the OS adds a note to the system's log files. These logs are accessible through the Windows Event Viewer, and they contain all the information we need to know what ails our poor computer.</p> <p>In XP, go the Start menu and open the Control Panel. Click Administrative Tools, then double-click the Event Viewer icon. Alternately, select Run from the Start menu and type <strong><em>eventvwr.msc</em></strong>, which will bring you right into the Event Viewer. In Vista, just type Event Viewer in the Start Search box.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/event_viewer.jpg" alt="Event Viewer" title="Event Viewer" width="620" height="411" /></p> <p>On the left-hand pane, highlight the application or system icon (under Windows Logs in Vista). On the right-hand pane, you'll see up to three different events labeled Information, Warning, and Error. These are sorted by the time in which they occurred. Scroll to the approximate time of the last system restart and double-click the events.</p> <p>This brings up a Properties window detailing information that should clue you in on any problem. For example, if one of the events contains a bugcheck message with 0x0000002E, we know this is a DATA_BUS_ERROR, and is usually indicative of faulty RAM. On the other hand, there might be several events pointing to a specific driver, such as nv4_disp.dll. This tells us we should focus on the videocard and any recent changes related to the display hardware.</p> <p>Armed with this information, we're ready to begin the troubleshooting steps outlined previously. If typing the event ID into Google and Microsoft's Knowledge Base (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) doesn't help, head over to <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. This site contains a repository of comments and errors from other users, as well as the steps they took to alleviate their problems.</p> <p>We recommend you familiarize yourself with the event viewer, even if your system is healthy. Rooting out minor problems before they progress will ensure your Windows install keeps humming along uneventfully.</p> <p>Click <a title="page 6" href=",5" target="_blank">here</a> to continue reading the article. &nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h3>The Rare Red Screen of Death!</h3> <p>Here's a fun fact. You may have heard about a Red Screen of Death (RSoD) and thought to yourself it was a hoax. It actually exists, or at least it did. As was explained by Microsoft employee blogger Michael Kaplan (the blog has since vanished from the web), very early builds of Vista (then referred to as Longhorn) would spit out a red screen for more serious errors. Here's what it looked like:</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/rsod.jpg" alt="Red Screen of Death" title="Red Screen of Death" width="620" height="448" /></p> <p>Not very soothing, is it? That's why we're pretty sure it never made it out of the Longhorn beta and into the final build of Vista.</p> <h3>Do BSoDs Still Exist?</h3> <p>It's unlikely you'll ever see a BSoD in Windows 7, and especially in Windows 8/8.1. Why? BSoDs mainly occurred during the Windows XP and Vista days because of faulty or poorly coded device drivers.&nbsp; These were the main causes of crashes prior to Windows 7, so it makes sense that BSoDs are now rare.</p> <p>Notice we said "rare" and not "non-existent." That's because you might still run into a problem, even in Windows 8. To be fair, Microsoft has done an incredible job researching driver issues and coming up with ways to prevent them from happening, and the result is a much more stable Windows than ever before. However, you might see something like this:</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/windows_8_error.jpg" alt="Windows 8 Error" title="Windows 8 Error" width="620" height="465" /></p> <p>No more gibberish. Microsoft wanted to make Windows 8 as user friendly as possible, and if you're going that route, you can't bombard users with a bunch of complicated text if something goes wrong. Instead, in the rare case that Windows 8 runs into a serious problem, it spits out an emoticon as if to say, "Ah shucks!" before automatically restarting. Like the RSoD, you'll likely never see this one, either.</p> <p><strong>Olympic Size Fail</strong><br />At the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, an XP system failed during the opening ceremony. That would have been fine, except that the failed system was beaming images in the Birds Nest for all to see, and what everyone saw was an Olympic sized BSoD! <strong>Presentation Gone Wrong</strong><br />Bill Gates could do nothing by smile awkwardly during a Windows 98 presentation that quickly took a turn for the hilarious. While trying to demonstrate how easy it is to install a scanner via USB, the <a href="" target="_blank">system crashed</a> into a BSoD in front of a live audience. Do'h! <strong>Denver, We Have a Problem</strong><br />Flickr's a great place to look up BSoD errors, and this one shows an alarming error screen in a Denver airport. Hopefully any would-be passengers who saw this weren't afraid of flying. <strong>Hey, At Least It's Free!</strong><br />It's nice that a company is offering passersby free Internet service. What's not so nice is the BSoD that reared its ugly head and ruined the experience for anyone hoping to hop on the web to check their email. Oh well, that's what smartphones are for, right? <strong>Touch of Fail</strong><br />In Microsoft's defense, there's nothing particularly brilliant about a feature phone. That said, Samsung couldn't have been too happy that this electronic ad that crashed into a BSoD, though it obviously didn't prevent the company from selling a quintillion phones since then. <strong>Bilingual BSoD</strong><br />Ever seen a BSoD in German? Well, now you have, and ironically enough, most will find it just as illegible as the English version. <strong>Well, That Explains Steam OS!</strong><br />Gabe Newell hasn't been bashful about his contempt towards Windows 8. What's with all the hate? If we're playing armchair psychologist, we'd say Newell still harbors deep seeded resentment from when a BSoD left him flustered at an awards ceremony. <strong>Your Money is Safe! No, Really!</strong><br />Did you know that most ATMs are running Windows XP, the same OS that Microsoft is getting ready to stop supporting? Hopefully it won't lead to displays like this being commonplace, lest we have to start hiding money in the mattress again. <strong>All Aboard!</strong><br />This display was supposed to be showing people ads as they entered the subway. Instead, it showed pedestrians an error message for several days before someone got around to rebooting the system.</p> blue screen of death BSOD microsoft operating system OS Software troubleshooting Windows windows 8 Features Wed, 14 May 2014 21:25:06 +0000 Paul Lilly 6066 at Microsoft Gives Slowpokes an Extra Month to Install Windows 8.1 Update <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/windows_81_4.jpg" alt="Windows 8.1" title="Windows 8.1" width="228" height="153" style="float: right;" />Windows 8.1 users now have until June 10th to install the Windows 8.1 Update</h3> <p>Microsoft is all about grace periods and delayed deadlines lately. For example, the <a href="">discovery of a pretty serious zero-day bug</a> in Internet Explorer came shortly after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, though in a show of good faith, the Redmond outfit included XP in an out-of-cycle patch. Fast forward to today and <strong>Microsoft is announcing that it's giving Windows 8.1 users an additional month to apply the Windows 8.1 Update</strong> before dropping support.</p> <p>Previously Microsoft had set the deadline for May 13 (tomorrow, which also happens to be Patch Tuesday). However, the new deadline to install the first major Update (you can think of it as a Service Pack) is now June 10, 2014.</p> <p>"While we believe the majority of people have received the update, we recognize that not all have. Having our customers running their devices with the latest updates is super important to us. And we’re committed to helping ensure their safety. As a result, we’ve decided to extend the requirement for our consumer customers to update their devices to the Windows 8.1 Update in order to receive security updates another 30 days to June 10th," Microsoft stated in a <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p>Those who ignore the deadline and refuse to install the Windows 8.1 Update for whatever reason will no longer receive security updates after the deadline. That is, unless you're a business user, in which case the deadline is still set for August 12, 2014.</p> <p>If you have Automatic Updates enabled, you don't have to worry about the deadline, so long as you have an active Internet connection.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> microsoft operating system OS Software update Windows windows 8.1 News Mon, 12 May 2014 16:00:03 +0000 Paul Lilly 27794 at