Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hide User Account In Windows 7

I have a home network consisting of all Microsoft Windows PCs. To make file sharing and networking easier, I create user accounts for all the users on my home network on every single computer. This works well with one small problem, each computer starts up with a welcome screen with every user listed, even though only one person really uses a particular computer. It's a small annoyance, but it bugged me a bit so I went out and searched out how to hide a user account in Windows 7 (this same tip will also work in Vista). If you have Windows XP just download TweakUI and their is an option in that free utility for hiding user accounts.

So here is a quick guide on how to hide a user account in Windows 7.

*IMPORTANT: before preceding,  know that if you hide your only administrator account you may have a very hard time getting back into your system as an administrator or logging on at all. So proceed with caution and make sure and then double check and make sure again that you are hiding the correct account and that you are not hiding your only administrator account. With that out of the way...see below...

How to Hide a User Account in Windows 7

1) Click on the start menu and type in regedit




2) Select "regedit" from the search results and click yes at the UAC prompt.

3) In regedit navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\

4) Right click on the Winlogon folder and select "New" and then select "Key". Note your Windows 7 install may already have these keys that we are creating, in that case you can skip the next few steps.




5) Name the new Key: SpecialAccounts

6) Right click on the new "SpecialAccounts" Key and select "New" and then "Key"

7) Name this new Key: UserList

8) Now select the newly created "UserList" Key. In the right pane right click on an open area and select "New" and then select "DWORD (32-bit Value)"





9) Name this new DWORD the exact same name as the user account that you want to hide. So if the user you wish to hide is "joe", then name this value "joe"

10) Double click on the new DWORD that you created. A new window will open, set the value to "0" (the number zero no quotes) if you want to hide the user. You can set it to "1" if you ever want to unhide the account. Once you set the value click "OK" and close Regedit

The next time you reboot your computer you should notice that the user is hidden from the welcome screen. I tested this in the 64-bit version Windows 7 professional and the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate RC.



Sources:

IntelliAdmin: Hide user accounts in Windows 7

My Digital LifeHow to Create Hidden User Account

WinXPTutor's XP ResourcesHow do I show or hide an user account in the Welcome Screen?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Telus to Eliminate System Access Fees

Starting November 5th Canadian wireless provider Telus will offer simple monthly plans that include everything in a single fee. Meaning their will not be any additional system access fees or 911 fees added to your monthly bill.

The new plans called "Clear Choice" will replace the existing "Your Choice " plans. Although these new plans eliminate the system access fee of $6.95 and the 911 fee of $0.75 they also raise the monthly fee by $5.00, but basic voicemail is also included on the new plans whereas on the old plans it was an extra charge.

All in all its a move in the right direction for consumers, even if it only means a savings of a few dollars a month. The main benefit to consumers is a simple "the price you see" is the "price you pay". No more seeing a great deal on a monthly plan and then seeing it go up by 30% after all the extras and system fees are added to the price.

Here is a link to Telus's description of it's new "Clear Choice" mobile plans.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Convert FLAC to MP3

Converting FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) to MP3 is a very simple process and one that can be performed using free software.

In this post I will show you the method that I use to convert FLAC files to MP3, but their are many other ways to convert a FLAC file to an MP3 using different software and most of them work equally well. This method is just what has worked reliably for me and given me excellent sound quality.

Convert FLAC to MP3 Using Foobar2000:

*Note: that most of these steps only need to be performed once, and once all the settings are in place and saved it becomes almost a two step process to convert FLAC files to MP3s.

1) You will need two pieces of free software to convert a FLAC file to a MP3 file. First click on this link and download the LAME encoder for Windows. Next, click on this link to download Foobar2000.

2) Unzip the LAME zip file and place the extracted Zip  folder in a location on your computer that you will remember.

3) Click on the downloaded Foobar2000 installer file and install Foobar2000

4) Run Foobar2000 after it has been installed

5) In Foobar2000, select "File" and then open up the FLAC tracks that you wish to convert.

6) Once your tracks have opened in Foobar they will show up in the playlist window. Highlight all the tracks that you wish to convert.

7) Right Click anywhere on the highlighted tracks and select "Convert".





8) A new window will pop up with a bunch of options. Under Output format you will see a list of a few built-in presets that Foobar2000 has provided. For conversion to MP3 you can select the  MP3 Variable Bit Rate of 190kbps. This preset will give you excellent sound quality. If you are happy with this preset than you can skip the next 5 steps and go directly to step 14. If you prefer to have your MP3 in a standard constant bit rate format than you will have to create a new preset. It's easy, just follow the next few steps.




9) To create a new preset select "More Settings" on the Converter Setup window.  A new Preferences window will open up. On this window click on the "Add New" button




10) Another window will open up called "Commandline Encoder Settings - New Preset". At the top of this window click on the drop down selection box and choose the "custom" option. You will notice that the options will now change in the window.





11) Under the Encoder section click on the browse button and locate the "lame.exe" file (it will be in the LAME folder that you unzipped in step 2). For all the other settings on this window you can copy the settings that I use from the screenshot below. These settings will convert your FLAC files to a 320kbps constant bit rate MP3. This gives you a CD quality MP3 file that 99% of the population can't tell the difference from the original source file.  If you want a smaller output file than you can change the number after the "-b" in the Parameters box from 320 to a lower bit rate (256, 128, or 64 are standard common bit rates).




12) After you have entered all your settings click "OK" and then click "Close".

13) You should now be on the "Converter Setup Page". Select your output format which will now include your new custom MP3 preset.

14) Below the Output format selection box are options for Output path, overwrite options and file naming  options. I like to name my tracks with "track #"-"Artist"-"track title" and if you do as well then you can copy the settings from the screen shot below, otherwise you can change this to whatever you wish.




15) Once you have selected all your options, just click "OK" and Foobar will start converting your FLAC files to MP3.

That's it!

Note:

- The above method will not transfer Album artwork from the FLAC file to the MP3 file, but all other ID3 tag information will be transferred.

- Once you have run through this process once, the next time you can just right click on a FLAC file in the playlist, select convert and choose "last used" and Foobar will use your last settings for file conversion.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Windows 7 vs. Vista

Since I have two laptops of similar specs, I decided to run a very unscientific experiment and make a Windows 7 and Vista compare video of the boot up of both laptops booting up at the same time. I installed one laptop with Windows 7 and the other with Windows Vista.

Both laptops have similar, but not the same specs...Both laptops are HP dv2000 14.1" laptops with 3gigs of RAM. The main difference being the Vista laptop has a 1.83ghz Core 2 Duo and the Windows 7 laptop has a 1.83ghz Pentium Dual Core.

Though in the video the boot-up times appear to be a tie, having used both operating systems I still feel that Windows 7 still feels faster and runs smoother than Vista.

Just my 2 cents!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Canada Mobile Wireless Internet Plans for Rogers, Bell, Telus and Fido

I thought I would put together some data comparing Bell, Telus, Rogers and Fido, the four largest cell carriers in Canada and the rates they charge for their mobile wireless internet using the new USB Internet sticks that are available through all these carriers.

After putting together all the data there isn't much difference between all four carriers when it comes to mobile wireless internet. So I am very much looking forward to seeing some new competition come in and hopefully drive some of these expensive data costs down.

Here are all four Canadian mobile wireless internet plans:

Telus Mobility

Fixed Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB
$25.00
500 MB
$0.05
$30.00
1 GB
$0.03
$60.00
3 GB
$0.02

*Additional Data Rate: $0.05/MB

Flexible Data Rate Plans:

N/A - Telus does not offer flexible data rate plans


Bell Mobility

Fixed Data Rate Plans


N/A - Bell only offers flexible data rate plans


Flexible Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB (max/min)
$30.00
Up to 500 MB
$0.06
$35.00
500 MB to 1 GB
$0.07/$0.03
$50.00
1 GB to 2 GB
$0.05/$0.02
$65.00
2 GB to 3 GB
$0.03/$0.02
$85.00
3 GB to 5 GB
$0.03/$0.02


Rogers Wireless

Fixed Data Rate Plans

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB
$30.00
500 MB
$0.06
$35.00
1 GB
$0.03
$65.00
3 GB
$0.02

*Additional Data Rate: $0.03/MB

Flexible Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB (max/min)
$35.00
Up to 500 MB
$0.07
$40.00
500 MB to 1 GB
$0.08/$0.04
$55.00
1 GB to 2 GB
$0.05/$0.03
$70.00
2 GB to 3 GB
$0.03/$0.02
$90.00
3 GB to 5 GB
$0.03/$0.02


Fido


Fixed Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB
$32.00
500 MB
$0.06
$37.00
1 GB
$0.04
$67.00
3 GB
$0.02

*Additional Data Rate: $0.03/MB

Flexible Data Rate Plans:

Monthly Fee
Included Data Usage
Cost per MB (max/min)
$37.00
Up to 500 MB
$0.07
$42.00
500 MB to 1 GB
$0.08/$0.04
$57.00
1 GB to 2 GB
$0.06/$0.03
$72.00
2 GB to 3 GB
$0.03/$0.02
$92.00
3 GB to 5 GB
$0.03/$0.02



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Remove "On behalf of Gmail" from outgoing Gmail Email

I use Google's Gmail as my central email account where I have all my email from various accounts sent to. This has worked great with just one minor problem. When you sent email from Gmail using another email account then Gmail added "sent on behalf of Gmail" to your outgoing email address. So the sender always knew you sent the email through a Gmail account.

Well there is now a solution, thanks to a recently added "send mail as" features to Gmail by Google.

Follow the steps below to eliminate the "on behalf of Gmail" from outgoing emails sent from your Gmail account...

1) On your gmail email page, click on the "Settings" link in the upper right hand corner of the Gmail inbox page.



2) Once in settings, click on the "Accounts and Import" tab.

3) Go to the "Send mail as" section and click on the "Send mail from another address" button.




4) A new window will pop up. Enter the name you wish to see on your outgoing emails and the email address that you wish to use for your "reply-to" address.




5) Click the "next step" button and a new window will open giving you a couple of options for how you want Gmail to have your mail sent out.  To have your email appear as though they were sent from your preferred email address with out the "on behalf of Gmail" select the second option "Send through "*****.***" SMTP servers".




6) If you selected the second option then a few more boxes will appear. This is where you have to enter your emails outgoing server information, and the username and password of the email address that you wish to send mail as (not your gmail username and password). If needed you may have to select the "always use a secure connection (SSL) when sending mail, but this depends on your email provider.

7) Click "Add account" and a final dialog box will appear asking you to enter a verification code that was sent to your email. Simply log into your other email account and copy and paste the code from the verification email into the the "verify" box, click verify and your done.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why is the Google doodle logo a bar code today?

So why is the Google doodle logo a bar code today? Well according to the Bar Code 1 web page, the first patent filed for a bar code reading technology was filed 57 years ago today (October 7th) by Norman Woodland and Bernard Silver.

Apparently neither Woodland or Silver profited much from this brilliant invention as they sold the rights to Philco who than sold the rights to RCA many years before it's first commercial use.

Here is a link to a PDF of the bar code patent filed by Woodland and Silver from the Bar Code 1 website.


Sources:

The Christian Science Monitor - Horizons Blog Post: Google bar code logo - Latest in "doodle" line

Bar Code 1 Web Site - www.adams1.com

Wikipedia Entry - Norman Woodland

Friday, October 2, 2009

Request an Invitation to Google Wave

Google is slowly opening up their new Google Wave to select Gmail users, but you don't have to wait for an invite from Google. With past Google beta programs I have found that if you request an invite, then Googlewill invite you to their beta programs very soon after you make the request.

So to request a Google Wave account, go to the Google Wave request an invitation page, enter your Gmail address and answer a few questions. Then just wait for Google to send you an invite, which should hopefully happen shortly.