Monday, August 20, 2012

Cleaning that Laptop NOW!

Many issues related to a software or application’s slow performance, extraordinary overheating when gaming etc. is due to the dust bunnies.

If you have a Laptop, this is even more so. Check this excellent write-up on life-hacker, which should motivate you enough to take care of that dust build-up.

For people who do not get respite from plain cleaning, a re-paste job (replacing the heat-sink thermal compound) would do that extra thingy.

Have fun!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Technology Trends – It is always Back to the future!

Goes to Amazon
*Picture related :-) if you know what I mean!

Do you remember the first ever available PCs and computers, which YOU used in your schools or colleges?

Have you ever stopped to think if there has actually been a radical techno-evolution in all these years?

And, has the technology really changed that fast?

On a personal level, I feel that the popularization of technology and standards not only helps establish techno-standards, but enables them to undergo the crucial survival-of-the-fittest routine.

This in turn ultimately ends up giving better services to the user, i.e. you and me.

This article at Gizmodo, sums it up really nicely.

It tries to guess the prevalence of current technology 15-20 years into the future.

I feel most of them would still be going strong in the 20 year timeline.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Windows Portable Apps Arsenal !

If you have been a Windows user as have been all these years, you surely must have realized the absence of power tools in Windows which are so freely accessible in a Linux BOX.

Although Windows 7 is a breath of fresh air, the power features still leave a lot to be desired.

Enter the excellent utilities like Sysinternals and Nirsoft.


The Sysinternals Suite is a collection of excellent tools (which are quite mature and well known in IT circles).

These were initially created in 1996 by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell and contain a host of advanced system utilities. These guys even had a site dedicated to these tools and their usage, which now are a part of the Microsoft’s technical network.

The entire suite can be downloaded in full here as a zipped version, or you can refer to this catalogued index for searching what you want.

As an introduction to this suite, I am linking here to one of the most popular utilities of this suite, the Process Explorer.

The NIRSOFT Utilities

Coming to the Nirsoft arsenal, this site ( is dedicated to individual utilities for specific troubleshooting and feature handling for making day-today windows maintenance easier and transparent.

It is a single man operation run by Nir Sofer, and goes way back to 2001 when it was first conceived.

I can personally vouch for some of the utilities offered by this smart guy; they actually help in solving out small *pain in the ass* type issues, which plague generations of Windows box setups!

Now both these are OK to use occasionally for your own system housekeeping.

But what if you are the IT guy or one-stop-tech-help-guide for your circle of family and friends?


This would be a software-Swiss-knife combining the utilities of these two above packages in one convenient place of access!

I can refer using either the Windows System Control Center OR the NirLauncher.

Windows System Control Center

WSCC is a free, portable program that allows you to install, update, execute and organize the utilities from various system utility suites. WSCC can install and update the supported utilities automatically. Alternatively, WSCC can use the http protocol to download and run the programs. WSCC is portable, installation is not required. Extract the content of the downloaded zip archive to any directory on your computer.\

WSCC supports the following utility suites:

  • Windows Sysinternals Suite (including support for Sysinternals Live service)
  • NirSoft Utilities

Having used both, I can say that the although WSCC is better at getting updates and presents a cleaner, easy to navigate interface, NirLauncher is also a very interesting option, as you can couple up some other great utilities (like those offered by Piriform, creators of CCleaner).

Try these out, and maybe you can just convert that old 1 GB USB to the most weapon in your troubleshooting arsenal!

I have these on my pen-drive and regularly update them! These are an excellent add-on along with the USB bootable system repair ISO, which I would be covering later on in coming days.

Best of luck getting the best out of these!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Save your digital life, yours can be hacked too!

This is a story of how someone can easily loose all their life’s digital worth in a day.

Poor Mat Honan is now without his data, family memories and a year’s worth of his digital existence.


Mat, is a journalist and a regular columnist at the Wired.

Read the Wired article on how the event progressed, and what all should be taken care of, if you don’t want this to happen to you and all those related to your digital life.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The hunt for the best (non-SSD) Hard disk…in India…Contd…

Continuing the hunt of my next super fast laptop (internal) HDD the other day, I went to the local IT Hardware paradise…

And after much hunting and calling here and there, I was confirmed no 750 GB only 500 GB WD Black Scorpio 500 GB.

But this is supposed to be good enough. So I take the leap.


I come home, party out my tiredness. Mid Sunday, the hangover subsides and I remember to start the HDD data transfer (from the old into the new)

I use the old HDD SATA enclosure (Transcend, the best!) but no love…I find that the new HDD does nothing but click.

Click and click and click it goes, pulling me under the HDD woes…

This, I realize is no ordinary click, but the the click of death!

God! My new HDD is a DOA!

Such a cold hard whammy!

I become desperate, maybe it’s a power issue (black is a volt gulper). So I try out the actual SATA HDD bay in the laptop… no luck…depression sets in. I try my wife’s DELL Vostro 1500, no luck…

Even the BIOS refuses to acknowledge it! All this running around goes waste.

So what next? Wait for a ‘new’ ‘replacement’.

Life is such a killjoy….sigh.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I use a DELL XPS 15 system (1st generation, L501x) as my main system (work/play/blog).

A recent bad sector episode forced me to use my extended warranty service… and here is what I went through….

My DELL HELL starts with a call with DELL REPS on 7/12/2012 for which I was issued a valid Complaint No. – 860218617.

Following which I was issued a replacement HDD (a TOSHIBA). My original (faulty HDD) is a Seagate. This replacement HDD was entrusted with me in physical form and NOT INSTALLED on the LAPTOP.

This was because I had requested the DELL rep to let me do the O.S. installation etc. as a 500 GB backup is not instantaneous (from the faulty SEAGATE) and my DELL REP was considerate enough to trust my IT experience.

Also, as asked, I was given a 5 days, no questions asked, grace period for taking my backups!

Now comes the twist. As mentioned, this replacement was a TOSHIBA (MK5061GSYN), which is already a very bad personal experience (as my earlier DELL Vostro 1500 had this POS, and heaven knows what I used to go through).

God only knows what obligations are forcing DELL to go ahead with them!

Anyways, I called up DELL and told them about my preference and apprehensions. I was advised that I would be provided a NON-TOSHIBA HDD ASAP and I should return the replacement TOSHIBA to the logistics/faulty recovery dept.

So I called up again (on 7/18/2012) and was told to wait a few more days and the same would be arranged. The rep said that he would be updating the case history and I should call back in 10-15 days.

I did that and subsequently had a word with another DELL rep (Number 4) and was told I would be getting a call from DELL escalations team on Friday.

As expected, got no calls and thus I called them instead on Monday and thus got a call-back from escalations on Tuesday. Now, I was strongly being advised by this escalation DELL exec. to get the earlier offered Toshiba as a replacement and that a non-Toshiba HDD is not possible (and also that the DELL REPS do not have the power of arranging a specific replacement model).

Also, I was told that I should not be changing the HDD myself as I am not allowed to do so.

“A DELL tech will do it” he said, and I would not be allowed to keep the original / faulty HDD and it is my job to arrange a backup before the faulty HDD is replaced!!

Now what I cannot understand here is that why the DELL GUYS, while belonging to the same corporation, give out different advice and thus create different problems for an end customer in the process?

I think all of them understood the main issue differently!

For all its worth, it may seem trivial but if I need to explain myself to each and every DELL REP about the whole case history then it is actually adding up to my day’s ordeals with the world!

And, how is it that the case history is not in sync with actual happenings? Can this DELL REP#5 not refer his case record to know how things were done for the previous DELL tech visit?

I want to say this to Dear Mr. Michael Dell

I have been associated with Dell since last 8 years now. I have somewhere around 6 Dell Notebook Systems in my household, 2 of which I myself own, and I am a staunch DELL advising person among my family and friends.

It has been a decade of tinkering, upgrading and cleaning for me during all my DELL years.

So, if I am saying that I am capable of changing the DELL HDD myself, why is it being believed otherwise?

The kind of relaxation that comes as a gentle recognition / acknowledgement for a loyal customer, and which I have had with DELL all this while, is not there anymore, it seems.

I would gladly go on record to say that dealing with DELL has been a really sorry experience for me. A simple process for getting a HDD replacement from a global brand and service specialist like DELL could become so complicated, is but anyone's guess!

Wake up DELL, have some faith in your customers!

And if you really want me to spell it out, here it is –

To whomsoever it may concern, I state that I am capable of changing my XPS 15’s Hard disk on my own. Thank you very much.

Yours truly pi**ed off,
A DELL HELL Survivor.