Category Archives: Software

Screen Rapidly Flashes On and Off After Windows 7 Update

Problem

After installing updates in Windows 7, I found that my primary display flashed on and off rapidly and I was unable to activate any menus on the screen. My extended display, powered by a StarTech USB to VGA Adapter, remained off even though the drivers were properly installed and everything had been working prior to the updates. Unplugging the StarTech adapter restored the primary display to normal but left me without a second monitor.

Cause

The recent update had included dozens of individual security updates so I researched the issue online and found the symptoms linked to the following Windows update:

KB2670838 – Platform update for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

This is a graphics performance update that has had a number of reports of compatibility problems and other issues.

Solution

My solution was to simply uninstall the update. This required a restart of the system, after which both monitors worked fine.  The KB2670838 update is a prerequisite for Internet Explorer 10 / 11 and removing it will cause these versions of IE to malfunction or be removed from the system. Re-installing IE 10/11 will also reinstall KB2670838. Removing it did not affect my installation of Google Chrome, however.

Installing MySQL on Mac OS X El Capitan

A few months ago, I wrote about how to install MySQL on Windows with IIS. Now I want to show you how to create an AMP web programming stack (Apache, MySQL & PHP) on Mac OS X. As with Windows, you could just go with a ready-made development environment like MAMP but, if you’re going to be doing real database and web design work with MySQL, it’s best to know how everything works.

Background

For this demonstration, I’m going to be using Mac OS X El Capitan (v.10.11), the latest version as of this writing.  My installation environment is a hosted Mac server with 1 GB of RAM and 40 GB of disk space. I will be demonstrating the process using the Terminal commands.

Unlike Windows, OS X already includes the Apache web server and PHP language pre-installed so it’s a much simpler process to ensure that everything is working together. You will need root access in order to install and configure the components.

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On the Importance of Backups and Storage Decisions

Windows 7 installation routine

Re-installing Windows 7 ….

I admit it’s a little bit of a geek thing but I’m in the habit of wiping and reloading my computer systems at least once a year to keep everything working right. I find that, even as careful as I am about what I install, I still work with some major software and Windows systems start to slow down and get a little flaky after awhile with random hiccups that take time to track down. Sometimes, it’s easier just to take a day, back everything up and re-install Windows from scratch.

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Creating Virtual Machines with Oracle VM VirtualBox

What is Virtualization?

Win7-XP

Virtual machines enable the user to run multiple guest systems on the same computer. This image shows a virtual machine with Windows XP installed, , referred to as the guest system, running on a Windows 7 host machine.

Several years ago, I wrote an article for this site about Microsoft Virtual PC, Microsoft’s implementation of virtualization technology for the Windows desktop. Virtualization software enables a computer to act as a host, running multiple computer sessions with different operating systems for the purpose of testing software, isolating specific programs from the rest of the software on the host machine or maintaining older operating systems as needed after an upgrade. Virtual PC was a somewhat simplified virtualization software which officially supported various versions of DOS and Windows and made the virtualization concept a little more accessible to the average user. With the release of Windows 8, it was succeeded by Hyper-V on machines with the necessary hardware requirements and Windows 8 editions.

Oracle VM VirtualBox

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Favorite Android Apps – Hi-Q MP3 Recorder

One of the many advantages of carrying an all-in-one device like a smartphone is the ability to record notes to myself, whether it’s short reminders or dictation of study notes. A device with some storage space can even store longer recordings including lectures and meetings. The old micro-cassette recorders and other voice recording technologies have easily been made obsolete by the near-ubiquitous recording features of the current generation of phones.

The only drawback for me was the AMR format that is standard with Android sound recording apps. If I’m going to be recording, I want to use the standard MP3 format that can be played on pretty much whatever device or software I’m using and can be recorded in various bit rates to balance the need for quality against the length of the recording and the space available. After comparing a few apps, I settled on the Hi-Q MP3 Recorder from Yuku.

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Problem Steps Recorder control panel

Problem Steps Recorder: Documenting Windows Errors the Easy Way

Screenshots and and programs that create them are one of the most useful tools in the tech support arsenal. Being able to see the exact error message goes a long way toward knowing what’s actually happening on a user’s system. Even more helpful is seeing the exact steps that a user followed to get the error message and the conditions that existed when it appeared. Screen recording software can be expensive, however, and is generally unavailable on personal computers.

A new utility in Windows 7 and 8 offers a handy compromise between the single screenshot and a full screen recording. Problem Steps Recorder (PSR) creates a report that shows all the steps taken by the user, complete with screen images and annotations describing each user action. This comprehensive report is self-contained in a single web page viewable in Internet Explorer which can be copied to tech support for analysis of the problem. It’s also easy enough for users at all skill levels to work with.

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Microsoft Access for Beginners / JobSearch 2010

I’ve started to see some sales of the eBook version of “Microsoft Access for Beginners” and was happy to hear from one of the readers today, despite the fact that he was reporting a problem …

It seems there was an issue with the Access 2007 / 2010 version of the program that I believe had to do with differing installations of Access 2007.  I’ve corrected the problem and the corrected version is available for download.

Whether or not you’ve bought the book, JobSearch 2010 is definitely worth a look.  This is a free program designed with Access 2007 that helps to organize your job search by enabling you to store complete information on every job lead in one place, track the progress of individual leads and follow-up on opportunities more effectively.  If you don’t have Microsoft Access, there’s a version that includes the Access 2007 run-time, a free version of Microsoft Access that will enable you to run the program and change data while preventing any design changes to the program.

For more information, check out the download page where you’ll find links to all the versions available and a program manual to help you get started.

JobSearch 2010 Update

JobSeach 2010 is now out of beta testing and version 1.01 is available for download.  If you’re looking for a job or know someone who is, this is a great tool that can help you maximize your search.  JobSearch 2010 includes contact management, lead tracking and flexible reporting all in one program … and it’s FREE!  No obligation, no registration, no charge!

 

JobSearch 2010 – Personal Job Search Assistant

jslogoJobSearch 2010 is a personal job search organizer that enables you to manage all of your information in one easy to use program.  With this tool, you can maintain complete detail on each lead and have it all instantly available at the click of a mouse or offline through one of the available reports.  Never lose track of an opportunity again or be at a loss for the information you need on an interview with this free software from Drewslair.com.

The beta version of JobSearch 2010 is now available for download and testing.  If you’d like to try it out and give your input on how it works for you, you can see the full details with screenshots at on ComeauSoftware.com.

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In addition to the free download, I will be starting a series of articles detailing the development process for JobSearch 2010 for those interested in learning more about programming and software development.  So keep checking back because there will be more to come soon!

Living in Outlook

In my last post, I included the outline for the series on Access VBA that I’m writing.  Of course, an outline is just that – a rough summary of what the finished project should look like.  It can’t be carved in stone.

So while I’m working on the chapters for decision loops, I realize that I don’t have anything in the series about using arrays to store information which is probably because I rarely use them myself.  I reviewed a couple of other books to get some ideas about what to include in the series but in the end we do look at things based on our own experience.  That’s one more chapter to add.  I’m getting there.   The hardest thing for me is coming up with the different examples to illustrate some of the ideas.


It’s ironic but after all these years I’m finally understanding the value of keeping To Do lists.  About every other year on average, I buy a yearly planner with the idea of being more organized and within a few weeks it ends up sitting on a shelf somewhere because I just can’t get into the habit of using it.  Meanwhile I’ve had all these ideas for projects I’d like to do that never went anywhere because I got distracted by something else and forgot about them.  Now I have a giant folder in Outlook that’s growing at least one new branch every week with various details of the stuff I’m working on.

I have one task list called “Archive” which has two subfolders under it; “Completed” and “Project Ideas”.  The Project Ideas list is a bit like my Amazon.com Wish List (BTW, Amazon, thank you so much for that feature.)  It’s all the projects that have sounded interesting over the months and that I’d like to try sometime but haven’t gotten around to yet.  It includes such things as ideas for new site articles, certifications that would be nice to have and software I’d like to evaluate.  Keeping them there keeps them from cluttering my Current Projects list and lets me actually get something done rather than drowning in all the possibilities.  Outlook also lets me prioritize items so that I can know what’s important and what’s just a cool idea.

Then I have my Project Task List and Project Journal where I keep notes on specific things I need to do and what I’ve done each day respectively.  It’s a new habit but I’m working on keeping it going.  There’s also the Resources section where I keep lists of websites and other items that I can use for different projects.

Now if I can just move a few more projects over to the Completed list.