Category: Tips and Hints


These are the simplified instructions to install a Pi-Hole on a Raspberry Pi device. You will need any Raspberry Pi with an ethernet adapter and a high-endurance microSD card. If ever you Pi-Hole device begins to freeze up, it is because your microSD card is bad or you need to use a legacy version of Pi OS. Continue reading

If ever you have a laptop that will not come on, do not assume the motherboard is bad. It may be something connected to the motherboard that is bad. I have had many HP laptops with this problem. But it is possible that it affects other models too.

This problem happened after I just replaced the broken screen, which at my cost was $180. (It is a beautiful screen.) A few weeks later, this HP laptop no longer powered on. The LED light by the power connector – which is integrated into the power connector – never came on. Since this light only comes on when the motherboard works, I naturally assumed the laptop motherboard was defective. The person was using a cheap generic Chinese power adapter and I thought it could have damaged the motherboard.

But, I was wrong. Here is how I eventually figured this out.

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Here is a problem that plagues many versions of Microsoft Outlook. You have no emails in the outbox, but every time you use Outlook, it is trying to an email. You may also get a send error. The underlying problem is Outlook had trouble sending a read receipt. Which can cause other read receipts to never send. Emails in the outbox may or may go through as well. In my experience, some did send and some did not.

The problem goes back to so many versions of Outlook, that Microsoft has provided a tool and instructions to fix the problem.

I would also recommend you use the scanpst tool after this, and then compact the PST data file.

Update: Sometimes the Microsoft tool does not work. In that case, you will have to create a new Outlook PST file. You will have to do this with the Mail option in the Control Panel. The only way to properly do that is to add a second instance of the same email address while making sure it uses a new Outlook PST file, then migrate all emails to the second instance within the Outlook program, then close Outlook when done, then go back to the Mail in the Control Panel and remove the first instance of the email address.

What Are Cookies?

I know many of my customers keep asking me “What are cookies?” So, I am going to create this blog post to answer that and to help you understand.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small files with a few characters that website can create. Each individual cookie has a name and a website identification. Each individual cookie also has an expiration date that can be whatever the website wants it to be. Cookies can be set to expire as soon as you leave the website. After the cookie expires, the web browser automatically deletes it. A cookie can only be created if your web browser accesses a website. For instance, facebook.com cannot create a cookie on your computer unless you go to facebook.com or unless the page you are viewing gets data from facebook.com.

1st party cookies are those created by the website you actually visit. 3rd party cookies are those created by websites which are accessed by the website you are on. Many, but not all, 3rd party cookies are created by advertisers.

It is important to remember that websites cannot access cookies for different websites.  For instance, the website facebook.com cannot view the cookies that google.com created.

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Here is a problem that affect some Xerox printers, especially older Xerox WorkCentre printers. You update your internet settings, and suddenly scan to email does not work anymore. You’ve updated your SMTP settings and are absolutely sure it is correct. It turns out, this is a simple DNS problem. If any of your DNS servers is in the range of 0.0.0.0 to 1.1.1.1, scan to email won’t work. So if you set your router’s DNS servers to Cloudfare’s DNS server of 1.1.1.1, 1.0.0.1, it will mess up the Xerox scan to email feature. You can assign a static IP and DNS in the printer manually, or you could just use your ISP’s default DNS servers in your router.

There is a new type of technology out there that allows hard drive manufacturers to increase the capacity of hard drives.  It is called shingled magnetic recording.  These hard drives should be avoided at all costs, at least for several years. Before buying a hard drive, look up the model number on the manufacturer’s website. Make sure the specs do not mention shingled magnetic recording or SMR. These types of hard drives are now being found in capacities as low as 2 TB.

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This is a general overview of the different and audio video standards for computers, movies, Blu-Ray players, and so on. It will not delve into how each standard works.

The first thing you must know is that the real world is not digital, but analog. A synonym for analog is infinite and for digital is finite. What this means is that we must convert the analog real world to a format our electronics can process. This is where a codec comes into play. Codec is short for coder/decoder. A codec is an algorithm that converts the analog real world into groups of 1’s and 0’s. Newer codecs do a better job of this conversion and thus have a smaller file size or are closer to the real world equivalent.

The second thing you must know is the difference between lossless and lossy. Like the names suggest, lossless does not discard any data in the algorithm. The quality is therefore higher but the file size is higher too. Lossy algorithms discard data to achieve a smaller file size. Ideally a lossy algorithm would appear the same as a lossless one.

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The 0xc0000001 blue screen in Windows is related to the hard drive controller. If you ever get this blue screen, the first thing to check is if the drive standard was changed in the BIOS or UEFI. If it was AHCI but you changed it to ATA (or IDE), change it back and see if the blue screen goes away. This blue screen can also appear after you clone a hard drive. Some computers do not support SSD’s even if it using the SATA cable. And if you clone a hard drive to one using the M.2 interface, this problem can appear.

By the way, if you accidentally bricked your CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive with a firmware upgrade, you will need to use ATA/IDE mode to unbrick it.

Fortunately, in Windows 10 there is an easy way to change your hard drive controller type. There isn’t much to like about Windows 10, but this is one thing it does make easier. Before you make the change in your BIOS, use the MSCONFIG program to boot into safe mode the next time. Change the setting in the BIOS, boot once in safe mode and use MSCONFIG to undo the safe mode setting, and then you should be able to boot as normal. However, if you cannot get into Windows or the BIOS, hopefully you can get into the Windows recovery environment. (I still say that the absolute dumbest thing Microsoft ever did was disable the pre-boot F8 button.) In the recovery environment, look for the startup settings in the menu options. When the computer boots, choose safe mode in the blue screen of menu options.

If 0xc0000001 persists, then you will have to try the SFC command, system restore, registry backups, and the other usual generic repairs.

Recommendations

 

People ask me all the time what products I recommend. Here is my list of different computer and software recommendations. This list was last updated August 1, 2022.

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Here is a problem that has plagued some copies of Windows 10 after the problematic 1809 (Fall 2018) update. After every reboot, your display resets to 1024×768. This problem may affect other versions of Windows too, but this happened to multiple customers after the 1809 update. All were using Intel CPU’s and HP laptops, but it is not a HP or Intel issue. Here are steps you should take to fix it.

  1. Try the obvious first. Make sure the video card itself is not bad or someone accidentally lowered the resolution or the monitor is not bad. Increase the resolution to the maximum and reboot to test. If you have trouble with the monitor’s known resolution, try another monitor if possible.
  2. Run msconfig command. Under the Boot tab you will a section that says Boot Options. You want to make sure Base video is not checked. If it is, uncheck it. Click OK and test by rebooting.
  3. Update the video card driver. If there is no update, roll back your driver. Very very important: When you are asked for the reason you are rolling back, check the box “For another reason” and put “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” in the text box. I am not joking when I say this is very important. Test by rebooting.
  4. Open regedit and navigate to the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Configuration. There will be several subkeys that may begin with GSM, NOEDID, or SIMULATED. These will be followed by a long hexadecimal number. Each one of these will contain one of more subkeys; always a 00 and sometimes a 01, 02, or higher. For every possible subkey, look for PrimSurfSize.cx, PrimSurfSize.cy, ActiveSize.cx, and ActiveSize.cy. All the .cx entries are for horizontal resolution and all the .cy entries are for vertical. You want to modify every single one of these to your monitor’s maximum resolution. The entries are in hexadecimal, not decimal, so you have to convert. Once you modify every one, test by rebooting. Below are common hexadecimal resolutions:
    • f00 (3840) by 870 (2160) – standard 4K HDTV
    • 780 (1920) by 438 (1080) – standard HDTV
    • 780 (1920) by 4b0 (1200) – high quality HD computer monitors
    • 556 (1366) by 300 (768) – standard laptop