How to disable the lock screen in Windows 10

The following registry patch will disable the lock screen in Windows 10. After applying this patch, your computer will boot directly to the sign-in prompt. The download is a ZIP file, so you’ll need to extract it before you can merge the .reg file into your registry.  This file comes without warranty – use at your own risk.  If you want to disable the background image on the sign-in screen, I’ve created a post about that as well.

Download: Win10_DisableLockScreen.zip

How to remove the sign-in background image in Windows 10

The following registry patch will remove the background image from the Windows 10 sign-in screen. The download is a ZIP file, so you’ll need to extract it before you can merge the .reg file into your registry.  This file comes without warranty – use at your own risk.  If you want to disable the lock screen (the screen that displays before the sign-in screen), I’ve created a post about that as well.

Download: Win10_DisableLoginBackground.zip

 

Registry Tweak: Display standard desktop icons in Windows 10

The following reg file will cause the standard desktop icons to be displayed in Windows 10.  These icons include This PC, Network, Control Panel, and the user’s home folder. You can also configure these icons to display in the Themes settings, but  sometimes when you’re signed in as a domain administrator, you are not able to access those settings. The download is a ZIP file, so you’ll need to extract it before you can merge the .reg file into your registry.  This file comes without warranty – use at your own risk.

Download: Win10_Add_All_Std_Desktop_Icons.zip

Note:  In most cases after applying the registry patch, you must press F5 to refresh the desktop before the icons will appear.  In rare cases a computer restart is required before they show up.

 

Windows 10: How to fix Error Code 0x800F081F when installing .NET Framework 3.5

Problem

When you select to install .NET Framework in the Windows Features list in the Control Panel, it does not complete. After asking if you’d like to use Windows Update, it then gives you an error code 0x800F081F

Solution

  • Insert Windows 10 installation CD or mount the ISO
  • Open an administrator command prompt
  • Type the following command (substitute correct drive letter)
    Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFx3 /All /Source:D:\sources\sxs /LimitAccess

Getting USB Drive Redirection to work with LTSP, xFreeRDP, and Windows Server 2012 R2

Problem

You’re using LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) and xFreeRDP to allow computers to boot from the network and connect to a server running Windows Server 2012 R2.  You add the parameters in LTS.CONF to allow USB redirection, but you still cannot get the USB drives to show up.

Solution

In my experience, these are the two steps that are often missed:

Step #1: Enable sound redirection

When using LTSP to connect to a server running Windows Server 2012 or later, you MUST enable sound redirection first, or USB direction will not work. This step isn’t necessary in Windows server 2008.

For example, instead of using the following line in LTS.CONF:

           SCREEN_07 = "xfreerdp -f --no-nla --ignore-certificate --plugin rdpdr --data disk:usbdisk:/media/root --
           192.168.11.22

Use this one:

           SCREEN_07 = "xfreerdp -f --no-nla --ignore-certificate --plugin rdpsnd --data alsa -- --plugin rdpdr
           --data disk:usbdisk:/media/root -- 291.168.11.22

Obviously, you’ll want replace the IP at the end of the lines above with the IP of your own terminal server. Keep in mind that if you’re using a newer version of xFreeRDP, the format of the options may be different. There have been changes made in the later versions. More information can be found here

Step #2: Set the policy on the server

You also need to be sure you have the ‘Do not allow drive redirection’ policy disabled on the Windows terminal server. This setting is found in the group policy editor at:

Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Device and Resource Redirection

Once you take care of these two items, you’re typically good to go!

Review: MGCool Explorer Pro 4k Action Camera

About a month ago I was contacted by MGCool and invited to do a review of their Explorer Pro 4k, an action camera similar in size to the popular GoPro series of cameras.  I received a courtesy unit a few days later and have been giving it a good workout for the past several weeks.  Now it is time to share my thoughts and observations.

What comes in the box

The camera comes packaged in a nice waterproof case that allows access to all of the controls when the camera is enclosed. Also in the package are several accessories. These include a USB charging/transfer cable, a camera bracket and clip, a bicycle mount, two adhesive mounts (helmet, dash, etc), one 90 degree directional change adapter,  and a user manual. A big surprise was the fact that it came with a second battery, something I would not expect from a low-cost action camera – or any camera, for that matter.  What it does not include is a class 10 micro SDHC memory card that will be necessary to use the camera.  I already had one of these from another action camera, so I was set to go.

Features

The Explorer Pro 4k is equipped with a 170 degree wide-angle lens, and somehow manages to only display a very slight amount of fish-eye.  This is quite impressive, considering that my more expensive Xioami Yi has a narrower 155 degree lens and has a much more pronounced fish-eye effect unless I enable the lens rectification feature.  Also unlike my Xioami Yi, this camera has a two inch screen on the back of the camera, which serves not only as a viewfinder, but also allows you to navigate and change a wide variety of settings. There are number of different resolutions and frame rates to choose from.  You can also configure the camera for “driving mode”, which starts recording automatically when it receives power and shuts down when the power is lost. This, along with the auto-loop function, makes it suitable for use as a dash camera. In addition to taking standard photos and videos, it also has the ability to take slow motion shots and time-lapses. You can take slow motion shots in 720P, 120 fps (resulting video is 25% of normal speed), or 1080P, 60 fps (50% of normal speed). With time lapses, you can set it to capture a frame at intervals of anywhere from a half-second up to one minute.

All of the settings available on the camera can also be set using the mobile app, which connects to the camera using WiFi. The app also serves as a view finder if you want to control recording remotely.

Quality

You probably knew by the price of this camera that it was not going to be excellent at everything. Well, quality is probably the place where you see some difference between this camera and ones costing twice as much.  That’s not to say the quality is bad.  Considering the cost of the camera, there is little to complain about. Under optimal lighting, the quality is very good.  When you start to introduce challenges such as poor lighting or a lot of light variation (bright and dark areas), the quality suffers a bit.  I have noticed, on rare occasion, a small about of “jello effect”, or waviness, when the camera experiences vibration and it is enclosed in the waterproof case.  This is quite common among cameras in this price range.  On the other hand, a more expensive camera without image stabilization will still be shaky, but will not have the “jello effect”, thus making it easier to do some stabilization in the post-production process.  With the white balance mode set to the default setting of auto, I also notice that some shots have a slight “blueish” color tone, at least to my eyes.  However, the camera offers an option to manually set the white balance to one of several different modes to help with this.  Also, white-balance adjustments are pretty easy to make in post-production if you need to do that.  Please review the following photographs and YouTube clips to see the quality of this camera.

https://youtu.be/Y0XcvbRMdjY – Sample video captured at 4k, 30fps
https://youtu.be/JVstYF8ThgE – Time lapse with reasonably good lighting conditions
https://youtu.be/cXNvjp1KzEM – Time lapse with bright sun coming over the horizon

 

I also will be making a full review video soon and will link it here when it is complete.

Summary

The two best words to summarize my opinion of this camera are “Great value”. If you are a professional looking for an action camera to take top-quality footage, this camera may not be the one for you. But you probably knew that when you looked at the price tag.  On the other hand, if you want an inexpensive, feature-rich action camera with everything you need to get started, this camera is a great choice.

Fixing Windows 10 “printer is in error state” when connected via parallel port

Problem:

You’ve just installed or upgraded to Windows 10, and your printer connected via parallel port refuses to work, giving an error message saying “printer is in error state”.

Solution #1:

Go to the device manager, find the parallel port and double-click it to bring up the properties sheet.  Click the “Port Settings” tab and then select “Use any interrupt assigned to the port” and click OK (see Figure 1 below).  The printer should be detected and work properly.

(Update on 09/27/2017) Solution #2 :

In some cases, solution #1 seems to work but the problem returns when the computer is rebooted.  In that case, changing the setting described above back and forth will cause it to work again, but only until the next reboot. After a significant amount of time troubleshooting this on a few computers, we’ve concluded that Windows 10 just doesn’t print reliably with parallel ports.  In stubborn cases like this, we’ve resorted to getting a StarTech USB-to-parallel cable, which essentially makes the printer look to Windows like a USB printer. In all the cases we’ve ran into, that has always solved the issue permanently. However, the brand of cable could make a difference. We used a TrippLite cable in one situation like this and it did not work, but the StarTech cable has worked every time.

Notes:

Please give us feedback if you have more insight into this issue.

Figure 1

Figure 1

How to disable registration reminder on Quicken 2003

Problem:

After installation Quicken 2003 nags you to register each time you launch it (see Figure 1), but if you click “Register Now”, it gives you an error (see Figure 2).

Solution:

While holding down the CTRL & SHIFT keys on your keyboard, select the “Online” menu and click on “One Step Update” (see Figure 3).  You’ll get a message saying “You will no longer be prompted for registration” (see Figure 4).

Notes:

This procedure probably works on other versions of Quicken.  If you’ve tried it on another versions and can verify that it works, please let us know so we can update this post.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 4

 

Microsoft Office 2007 applications print too many copies under Windows 10

Problem:

Just making a quick note about an issue I recently encountered on several computers. In each case, the effected person was using Office 2007, Windows 10, and printing to an HP printer. In each case, the issue was that anytime we printed multiple copies, the printer would actually increase or multiply that number. For example, if we printed a document and told it to print one copy, it would work correctly. If we told it to print two copies, it would print four. If we told it to print four, it would print sixteen!

I don’t know if the model of printer matters, but here are the printers I’ve had this trouble with.  There may be others as well.

  • HP Laserjet M521 MFP
  • HP Laserjet 2300

Solution:

We tried installing the latest service pack for Office 2007, installing the latest updates for Windows 10, and installing the latest printer driver for the printer. In the end, the only solution we found was to upgrade to Office 2010, which solved the problem.

We’ll update this post if we learn more about this issue. Please comment if you found this helpful or have more information for us.

The Xiaomi Yi Action Camera

I’ve been wanting to purchase an action camera for quite some time, but was always too much of a tight wad to do so. Finally last month I got my hands on a Xiaomi Yi camera. This camera is another GoPro knock-off, but is one that gets pretty good reviews, and according to most accounts, gives the best video quality for the money. Unlike the popular SJ4000 camera, the Xiaomi Yi supports 1080p video at 60fps, and it can also do 120fps and 240fps video at lower resolutions.

Here are the items I purchased:

I did a video showing the unboxing and a number of sample clips and also a video showing how to use the Xiaomi Yi (the camera doesn’t come with English instructions).

My first impression of the camera is good. The fast frame rate lets me slow down shots without them appearing jerky. I’m hoping this camera will capture some nice underwater clips of catching and releasing fish when I use it for fishing videos on my Great Cove Adventures YouTube channel.