Monday, December 7, 2009

Leveling Out Audio in a Single Track

Tragic things can happen when mixing audio or video clips from multiple sources. Sound levels (read: volume) can fluctuate erratically, causing the resulting splice of tracks to be inaudible. To stop your viewers from having to play games with their volume nobs while watching your videos we will cover some techniques here to remedy the problem.

Tools you will need:
  • Software to process audio tracks (I use Audacity.)
  • And something to mux/demux Video (I use VirtualDub.)

Some points I would like to make:
  1. If you can run a filter called "Normalize" on all the tracks you are mixing. This will make it so that everything has the same maximum volume. If you do this you avoid having to do...
  2. Dynamic Range Compression should not be confused with plain Compression. Compression refers to making a file smaller. (We will be doing Dynamic Range Compression)
If you can find other software to do these things then good for you! (There is more than one way to skin a moose.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Virtual CloneDrive

This is the best Optical Drive emulation in existence right now (in my opinion). I used to use Alcohol, but they started wanting money. I used Daemon Tools, but they added spy/mal/adware. So now I turn back to ElaborateBytes and SlySoft. These developers really know how to please.

Virtual CloneDrive has a lot going for it. From great emulation to a humble price tag (i.e. free), you can expect the unexpected. The main selling point for this is that it is from a company I trust, and it is free (cause I'm poor). This thing is easy to install, and easy to use. It isn't very complex or bloated with features you probably wont use. It has a little tray icon that starts up when windows does and hides out in your task bar. You can turn this off, but I've stopped caring about programs that hide down there since Windows 7.

A potential downside, it does install its own drivers on your computer. While this isn't a big deal, it does bother some people.

I'm just waiting for Microsoft to figure out that people really do want to emulate CD Drives so they don't have to burn a disk image every time! It was kind of them to include the ability to burn ISO files natively in Windows 7. But seriously. Why waste a disk unless you are giving it to a friend or loading a new OS?

Virtual CloneDrive can be found here:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Updated: Using BitTorrent

I've made a second video on installing the Vuze BitTorrent client. The Client can be downloaded from Once you have the client installed you can search google and other sites for torrents to download. Just download and open the ".torrent" file and you are good to go.

You should also have to ensure that the port you've chosen for torrent data is forwarded through your firewall.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Troublesome Laptop

So I have this Dell Inspiron 5150, which are notorious for having hardware failures. This particular laptop only worked occasionally. The original user thought it was a heating issue, definitely a common problem with this model.

However, this laptop is actually a victim of a bad RAM seat. The DIMM B bus is going bad, and has cost me a memory module. It took a while to diagnose but the main thing I noticed that lead me to the RAM was the intermittent failures both in booting and freezing while running.

I began to get the message, "The amount of system memory has changed. Press F1 to continue..." And after that the piece of RAM in that slot started to have read errors in some sectors. I upgraded the RAM in DIMM A with a 1GB stick and haven't had a problem since. The DIMM B slot remains empty.

While troubleshooting the hardware I also found out that the memory slots are directly connected to the motherboard and would require me to replace the main board in order to fix it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

VirtualBox Shared Folders - Linux Guest

I keep forgetting how to add a shared folders in my Kubuntu guest machine, so I'm posting it here to help remind me.

Select the folder to share on the host.
VirtualBox -> Settings -> Shared Folders -> Add New...

Create a place for the folder on the guest.
cd /home/username/Desktop/
mkdir ShareName
note: username is your user name, ShareName is some meaningful folder name

It is very important to select a folder that has nothing in it. If you do select an existing folder all the contents will be copied into the host folder. This is a big problem if you point the folder to /home/user.

And one final step. If you want to add the folder perminantly and mount it each time on startup, add the following line to the end of the /etc/fstab file.
ShareName /home/username/Desktop/ShareName vboxsf default 0 0
And that is it. Now anything you put in that particular folder you will see in both the guest and the host OS.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Data Recovery from Virus

I just fixed a laptop that wouldn't even load windows. If you know what you are doing a Linux LiveCD can be a saving grace. I was able to back up all the data to an external hard drive and reformat and reinstall Windows. With the Kubuntu LiveCD this took little effort.

There are some limitations to using a LiveCD. But if your computer has a CD-ROM drive, you are in buisiness!

Here is a link to the Kubuntu LiveCD download site. Just choose a mirror and watch your bar crawl.

Happy repairs!

If you have any questions on using Unix or Linux, send me an email.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Anime Codec Packs

I've been doing some research and there are a lot of codec packs out there. Some include unnecessary things. There are two codec packs that I feel comfortable recommending.

Cole2k - I've been using this for some time. It gives you the options to pick and choose everything upon install.

CCCP - Combined Community Codec Pack is a very complete pack that you can use to watch all kinds of media.

Packs to avoid:
K-Lite - has a bunch of extra unneeded things. Also, I wouldn't trust anything that has any affiliation with Kazaa. (Eeek Virus!)

If you are on a linux system and don't have Windows Media Player, then you can download VLC Media Player. It is included in more popular linux distros like Ubuntu. This player has all the codecs and other playback devices you'll need for anime built in.

Step-by-step summary:
  • Download cole2k advanced from
  • Run the install
  • Choose Expert
  • Agree to the EULA
  • Uncheck the boxes for search-bars and other crap
  • Under source splitters and filters, under Haalia Media Splitter, check AVI Support
  • Under Extra's, uncheck shell context menu (and GSpot Codec info tool if you want.)

Using A Bit Torrent Client

Here is a fairly short video tutorial I made on using a Bit Torrent Client.

Here are the steps in the video:
  • Go to wikipedia and choose a client. (I chose Vuze)
  • Download and install the client
  • Uncheck the box to ensure the search bar is not installed!
  • Change the UI (Tools -> Interface -> Start -> UI Chooser)
  • Setup download speeds and settings
  • Check the TCP/UDP listen port (and forwarding)
  • Open a .torrent file and start downloading
  • Adjust download and upload speeds
I forgot to mention that you want a higher seed (uploaders) to leech (downloaders) ratio in a torrent. While this is not absolutely essential for the protocol to work, it does improve your download speeds. Note that your download speed may be limited by your internet service. Also, I have found that not limiting upload will grant you a higher download priority and can result in a faster download. However, this may cause other programs to run slowly. (Particularly internet based things on your entire network.)

READ THIS: One small thing I just found out. Apparently Vuze will install an toolbar without the users consent. In order to remove this toolbar, do the following:

  • Open the run prompt (Win+R)
  • type "C:\Program Files\AskBarDis\"
  • Close all browser windows. (Internet Explorer, FireFox, etc.)
  • Run the "unin00.exe" file. (It could have a different name just look for an exe that has a 'u' as part of the name. Chances are it is the uninstall file)
Sorry about the annoying search bar addon. Vuze is still great in my opinion, they are just starting to do bad things though. (They will definitely get an email about this!)

Any Questions?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

XP - Install A Language Pack

Here is one of my more requested tutorials:

How to Install A Language Pack (Win XP)

First go to the start bar, then click on ‘Control Panel’.
This should bring up a new window that gives you access to settings on your system.
This window can actually look like a couple of different things.

If your window looks like this proceed as follows, otherwise proceed further below.
Select “Switch to Classic View”. This makes it a lot easier for more advanced users to find what they are looking for.

Now double click on “Regional and Language Options”.

After that a new window should open. This window displays Regional Options Tab first. This has different currency settings and number systems you can change to. But we don’t care about those. Click on the Languages tab. You should now see a window similar to that below.

This is where we install the language packs. Check the boxes that apply and select ok. The Arabic and right-to-left is 10MB and the others are 230MB, that’s 240MB total. With technology today, most computers have that much space readily available.

The installation will either proceed automatically, or prompt you for the Windows XP CD. DON’T PANIC, If you don’t have a Windows disk, just navigate to the “I386” folder on C: drive, or type in: ‘C:\I386’ most mass manufactured PC’s will have this folder there.

After the installation is complete you may have to restart your computer. You’ll now notice a ‘bar’ at the top of the screen. This is called the “Language Bar”. You can change the options and settings for it later. First lets touch on a couple of things.

The little bar button minimizes the language bar to the task bar.

I often have it down there because I find it annoying to look at. You can change languages by simply clicking on the “EN” part, and selecting the language you would like your keyboard to type.

Let us set up your keyboards now. Go back into “Regional and Language Options”, that’s ‘start’→ Control Panel → “Regional and Language Options” icon → Languages tab.
You should now have the same window as before, but this time lets click on “Details…” button.

This window pops open. Click on the “Add…” button. You will now see this prompt asking you for the language and the kind of keyboard you are using.

Select the appropriate language you would like to add from the first drop down box, and the second box automatically detects your keyboard. If you have a different keyboard select it from the second box and click “OK”.

Some languages, like Arabic, you must know what keys produce what characters. Other languages, like Japanese, automatically detect when you spell the word in English. For example, the word for cat ‘neko’( ねこ ) when typed with hiragana input mode turned on produces the characters ‘ne’( ね ) and ‘ko’( こ ) automatically. One last note, sometimes it is more useful to have the language bar on top as opposed to the task bar. Also note that, If you change programs the system language for that program doesn’t change until you tell it to via the language bar. i.e. If you are typing in Arabic in word, and wanted to do a Google search on an Arabic word, when you open Internet Explorer or Firefox, the language is defaulted to English.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Computer Freezes or Restarts at mup.sys

I just recently fixed a computer with this issue. What had happened was, the computer was restarted while Windows XP was in the middle of loading a system restore point.

After some research I determined that after mup.sys is loaded in safe-mode the computer begins to look at registry entries. And since system restore reverts you registry, the computer would not boot due to registry corruption.

The solution:
Manually do / finish the system restore.
This is easy if you know where the files are that you are looking for. But be very careful, because you can do some serious damage if you don't know what you are doing or don't do it correctly.

There are five different registry files. They are System, SAM, Software, Security, and Default.

The registry files that are loaded are in:

The default registry files from the initial install are in:

And finally System Restore Points are saved in:
[Windows Drive]\System Volume Information\_restore{[GUID]}\RP###\snapshot\

There are a few ways you can restore the system, the easiest one is probably this way:
  • Stick the harddisk into a working computer (NOT recommended if cause was a virus.)
  • Load up windows and go into the new harddisk.
  • Make sure you can see/access system folders.
    (Tools -> Options... View and uncheck "Hide Protected Operating System Files.")
    (For folder access either modify permissions or share the folder.)
  • Go into the system32\config folder and backup the five files in there.
  • Navigate to the desired system restore point folder, and choose the desired restore point folder. These will be by date created. (Usually you want the most recent one.)
  • Copy the files into the config folder and rename them to replace the existing ones. (i.e. SAM, SECUTIRY, SOFTWARE, SYSTEM, and DEFAULT.) Make sure you delete the '.' on default. Naming must be exact.
  • Once you have copied the desired restore point registry files, you can put the harddisk back in the original computer and try booting it again. Everything should be OK.

A more complex method:
  • Boot from the Windows XP CD, and choose 'R' for Recovery Console.
  • Log onto the broken copy of Windows.
  • Use the copy command to back up the files in the config folder.
    cd system32\config
    copy software software.bak
  • Use the copy command to restore the original registry.
    cd ..
    cd ..
    cd repair
    copy software C:\windows\system32\config
  • Once all five registry files have been copied. Restart the system and adjust the clock in the bios to last month.
  • Boot the OS from the harddisk. (Recommended boot in Safe-Mode.)
  • Now navigate to the "System Volume Information" Folder. (see above...)
  • Pick the proper restore point and copy the files into a temporary directory. Remember where this directory is. A good one would be C:\regtemp.
  • Once all the files are copied, reboot and go back into recovery console.
  • Copy the restore point files from the temp directory into system32\config.
  • Reboot and your system should be restored to that restore point.

Note: You may get some errors and some requests to re-activate Windows. You can ignore the errors and just follow the re-activation prompt to do it over the internet. It should re-activate with no issues.