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Setting up an SMS Gateway 

by on July 31, 2007

Q: We run a small web hosting business and would like the servers to be able to alert us to their status via SMS. Is it possible to setup our own SMS gateway so we do not have to pay for an SMS provider?

A: There are a few options available that will help you with your SMS issue. Just in a google search I discovered a number of SMS server software packages that can be purchased, as well as some Open Source and Linux based solutions. There are also third party companies that you can pay to be your SMS gateway that provide a multitude of services (some more complex than what is provided by the mainstream cellular companies), and charge less than a major carrier for messaging.

  • If you are interested in a small scale Open Source SMS Gateway project, visit this wiki.
  • CodeSegment provides SMS Gateway Server software packages that run in Windows.
  • SMSXchange provides a paid SMS gateway service with a number of options.

If you search Google for SMS Gateway you will find a number of solutions. Only you can determine which will be most reliable and cost-effective for your business.


Adobe PhotoDeluxe Problems After Windows XP Update 

by on July 30, 2007

Q: Since I have installed the latest Windows XP updates my Adobe Photodeluxe 3.0 on Windows XP will not run. The program stops responding after the wallpaper has loaded, any ideas on how to resolve this problem?

A: The first thing you should do is visit the Adobe PhotoDeluxe support site and download any updates for the software. After you have installed all available updates try running the program to see if it is working correctly. If it is still not running then you should completely uninstall the application, reinstall it from scratch, and install all of the available updates. Once you have done this run the application to see if it runs properly.

If updating and reinstalling the application do not help visit the Adobe PhotoDeluxe support site and discuss your problems in the Forum. Adobe support representatives and other PhotoDeluxe users may be able to give you additional help in solving this problem.


Migrating Data to a New Vista PC 

by on July 26, 2007

Q: My Windows XP Home PC had a motherboard failure so I am planning on getting a new Windows Vista PC. I am concerned about migrating the data from the old system onto the new system because I have read that Vista’s migration operation does not support migration from one internal drive to another, but I have no other way to transfer my (extremely valuable to me) files. Should I simply install the old HD as a slave in the new system and then copy and paste the files? I know that I need to install any programs that I want to move. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

A: In your current situation you would be able to most quickly and efficiently extract your important information from your old hard drive by installing it as a slave on your new system. Once you install it and it is recognized by the operating system you will be able to copy your files to your new hard drive. To make sure that all of your important files get copied over you can download Microsoft’s Sync Toy for Windows Vista and synchronize your important folders on the old hard drive with folders on your new hard drive. Sync Toy will go through all of the contents of a folder (including all of the contents of sub folders), analyze them, and make sure that an identical copy is placed in the target directory. This way you won’t miss any files in the event your folder copy ends prematurely.

By installing your old hard drive as a slave you will also be able to use it as a backup for the data you copy to or create on your new hard drive.


Which Laptop Battery Should I Buy? 

by on July 26, 2007

Q: I’m trying to buy a new laptop battery online and I am finding two options. The two options are 10.8 volts with 8800 mAh and 11.1 volts with 4400 mAh. I would like to know which one will last the longest.

A: When you are buying a new battery for a laptop you should always consult the laptop manufacturer to find out which batteries are compatible with your laptop. If you go to the support page for your laptop will be able to find the product numbers of the battery types that are supported by your laptop manufacturer. If you are still unsure or have more questions you should contact your laptop manufacturer’s technical support department and ask them about the different batteries you would like to purchase and they will let you know if they will work with your laptop.

Keep in mind that even if you buy an extended life battery for your laptop, if it is not conditioned correctly early on, you may not see a significant performance difference from your original battery. Follow the battery manufacturer’s instructions for charging and conditioning the battery when you purchase it.


Sluggish PC Performance After OS Reinstall 

by on July 25, 2007

Q: Howdy, I have just had to re-format my hard drive and re-installed Windows XP Pro (SP1). After I re-installed all the drivers for my software and hardware everything worked fine, but when I started updating Windows it causes my computer to run very slow and use up all my processor. Could it be a driver or file conflict causing this? Or is it something else?

A: There could be a number of reasons why your system is running slowly after you re-installed everything. Installing improper or old drivers can cause a system to act sluggish, and having too many unnecessary applications running in the background can have the same effect. Running software without all of its updates (namely the Operating System) may also cause performance issues. You need to address each of these issues to make sure that your system is safe and optimized.

  1. Run Windows Update and install all of the latest service packs and critical updates to your OS. Windows XP Service Pack 2 has been out for some time now, so you need to catch up with the security updates.
  2. Install all of the available updates for the applications you have on your system. Make sure that you install updates to any software you use because the updates may address memory leaks, security issues, or other problems, which can slow your system down.
  3. Find the newest drivers for all of your PC components and peripherals and install them. Generic drivers, improper drivers, and old drivers can cause a system to behave in odd ways. Installing the newest drivers can stabilize a troubled system or even boost performance.
  4. Open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del > Task Manager) and click on the Processes tab. If you click on the CPU column, you will be able to see which processes are using most of your CPU. If these processes do not need to run, terminate them.
  5. Check your system’s Startup folder to see if there are unnecessary applications starting up with your OS. Remove them from the Startup folder and they will not load on boot.
  6. Run Msconfig (Start > Run > Type msconfig and click OK) and click on the Startup tab to see what applications are running when your PC boots up. Un-check the applications that do not need to start on boot. If you are unsure of whether or not an application needs to start automatically, you can Google the name of the application to find out the details. Make sure not to disable the startup of any Security, Anti-Virus, or Anti-Spyware applications so that your PC remains protected.
  7. Uninstall any applications that you do not use. Many commercially purchased PCs come with a lot of Bloatware and Trialware as part of the OS install. Remove these applications to create more hard drive space and further reduce the amount of applications trying to start when you boot up your PC.
  8. Defragment your hard drive (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter) so that the OS will take less time to seek out data on your hard drive.
  9. Run Disk Cleanup (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup) to remove any unnecessary files from your PC.

Once you have performed those steps you should see a difference in system performance. If you continue to have problems, make sure to update your Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware applications. Scan your system thoroughly and remove any spyware and viruses that are found. If you can trace your problems back to a single peripheral, contact the manufacturer or search their web site for additional assistance with your performance issues.


Reformatted and Cannot Get Into Linux 

by on July 24, 2007

Q: I had windows both Windows Vista and SUSE Linux 10 installed on two separate partitions on my computer. I cleaned the hard drive using Toshiba’s CD for the windows partition. Afterwards the computer no longer gives me the option of booting in Linux. How can I get back into Linux?

A: The first thing you want to do is to find out how large your C: drive is in windows. You can do this by right clicking on the drive and selecting “Properties…” to figure out how much space is allocated to your C: drive.

This is important because a lot of times the CD’s that come with Windows computers will actually format the entire drive not just a single partition. So we are trying to figure out if the other partition is still there. If it is not there then you will have to work on repartitioning the hard drive and installing.

If the other partition is still there then what happened is the MBR (Master Boot Record) was modified and it does not know how to boot to your Linux partition. Now from here you have the option of using LILO, Grub, Windows boot manager, or one of the million other boot managers out there. Sorry to leave you off here but since there are so many options and so many people have their own preference we suggest referring to your Linux documentation on which route you want to go in terms of getting booted back into Linux.


Incorrect File Extension Fix 

by on July 18, 2007

Q: When I download AVI files from a forum they always download as .php or .html and then I am unable to get them to open a video player. How can I fix this?

A: What happens is the forum/website you are visiting is sending information about the file and the file type to your web browser in a way that it cannot understand. So while you are downloading a video your web browser things you are downloading a web page. One thing you can try is using a different web browser. If you are using IE you can try FireFox and visa versa. You will also want to make sure that you are using the most updated version of your browser as well.

Another option is renaming the file extension. Depending on how your computer is setup you might actually need to go into the command line to do this correctly (“Start” -> “Run” -> Type “command” or “cmd” depending on what version of windows). Your other option is to change your settings so that you can see the file extension.

Now if you change the extension and then the file correctly opens with your video software but you then start getting an unknown codec error, then you will have to ask around on that website where you can download the correct codec to play the videos.


Which SATA Hard Drive is Faster? 

by on July 12, 2007

Q: Which is faster, 400GB 4200RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive or 200 GB 7200RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive?

A: There are a few factors that affect the speed of a hard drive; the size of the hard drive, how the drive is partitioned, the number of Rotations Per Minute (RPM), the seek time of the hard drive, and the data throughput of the device. Serial ATA (SATA) II drives are much faster than their predecessors with a data throughput of 3.0Gbit/s, compared to the 1.5Gbit/s speeds of the first generation SATA drives.

If the two SATA drives you describe are second generation drives, what ultimately determines their performance will be size, RPM, seek time, partitioning scheme, and the speed of the machine they are installed on. The 4200RPM drive is most likely going to have a longer seek time than the 7200RPM drive and therefore it will be noticeably slower. The slower RPM and seek time will become more noticeable on the 400GB drive due to the size of the drive. Creating multiple partitions on a drive that large will help to improve the overall performance of the drive. Finally, these drives will perform best on systems with native SATA support as opposed to systems with SATA add-on cards.

Additionally, when manufacturers refer to Dual Drives, they are simply pairing two drives of a smaller size together and spanning them to create one drive on the system. Even though your PC may only recognize them as one drive, there are actually two physical drives (2x 200GB) in the system. In some cases it may be more cost effective to purchase one larger drive than purchasing Dual Drives for your system.


How to have iRiver Clix Repaired 

by on July 11, 2007

Q: My iRiver Clix 2gb screen does not work. It has a white horizontal line across and a black background. Since the screen does not display anything my iRiver Clix is now just an iPod Shuffle! Do you have any suggestions on how I can get this fixed?

A: In order to get your iRiver Clix repaired you will need to contact iRiver support. If the product is within its one-year warranty period and the damage that it has sustained does not violate the terms of the warranty, iRiver will repair or replace the device. You should contact iRiver support and see if your repair will be covered by the warranty or how much it will cost you to have the repair performed.


Recording from an Analog Device to a Laptop 

by on July 10, 2007

Q: I need information on how to get an analog signal from my turntable and cassette player into my relatively new Toshiba laptop. The input jack into my computer is mono but I would like to get the signal to come in stereo, is there another alternative?

A: The easiest way to add stereo input to your laptop would be to purchase an external USB sound card. There are a wide variety of external USB sound cards, and a very wide price range depending on the features you need. Once you purchase one, you simply plug it into one of the USB ports on your laptop, and then plug your cassette player, or turntable into it. This will enable you to record from your analog devices directly to your laptop.

The SoundBlaster company makes a few external USB sound cards including the Sound Blaster Live! External Sound Card.