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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Disabling the Blogger Navbar (Navigation Bar) on a Blog

INTRODUCTION

The majority of Blogger blogs come with what is called the "Navbar" placed automatically at the top of their blogs. It has a number of useful features, however it is possible to disable the NavBar by editing a few short lines of HTML in your blog. Before I proceed, I thought you should be aware of the following:

- Being the owner of a blog, you will unable to use the convenient "Dashboard" link to quickly get back to the Dashboard. If you want to write a new post, you are going to have to go to http://www.blogger.com as you have removed the quick link to the Dashboard.

- Some people like to surf and browse between blogs. They make use of the "Next Blog" link to browse between blogs. You are going to annoy these visitors by removing this capability. You may keep some people on your blog longer but you will also annoy a hell of a lot of people.

- If somebody Googles (or uses any other search engine for that matter) a search term that was shown on your main page when google last indexed your site, but no longer exists on the front page, your readers will not be able to use the search bar on the NavBar to scan again for those keywords. The only method left is for the reader to manually browse through your blog to find what they are looking for. Many will give up in frustration.

- Readers are not going to be able to use the convenient "FLAG BLOG" link if they believe your blog contains objectionable content.

- You won't be able to access the "Sign In" or "Sign Out" links on the NavBar, and neither will your visitors.

ONE METHOD

1. Go to your Dashboard

2. For the blog you wish to modify, click "Layout" (See Screenshot below)


3. Click "Edit HTML"

4. Insert the following code:

#navbar-iframe {
display: none !important;
}

between the Blog template description and the "Variable definitions" section as shown in the example below:

5. Click "Save Template"

The NavBar should no longer be displayed in your blog.

Also, if you are running Google Adsense on your blog, check to see that this process has not mysteriously resized any of your ad units.

REFERENCES

Blogger Templates - Remove the NavBar
http://blogger-templates.blogspot.com/2005/01/remove-navbar.html

Sunday, January 27, 2008

NOTEPAL by Cooler Master [Review]

INTRODUCTION

With so many options available to provide cooling for desktop machines, you might wonder what cooling solutions are available for laptops. In this respect your options are limited, but by no means non-existent.

The NOTEPAL by Cooler Master is essentially a plate on which you place your laptop, providing cooling via a number of methods. This plate is made out of alloy aluminum.

The NOTEPAL comes in four different versions. It comes in a design for 4:3 laptops, and a design for 16:9 laptops. For each there is an option of silver or black colour. The model I picked up was the R9-NBC-ADAK model.

As the unit is made out of aluminum, it serves to significantly dissipate heat from your laptop. The model described here has two fans on it which blow air to the underside of your notebook. The unit is powered via USB.


The typical setup would have one of the USB ports on the laptop connected to the unit to provide power. It provides an extra USB port to compensate you for the loss of the port used. If you don't have a docking station, you could even use this as a poor man's docking station for your USB devices.

INSTALLATION

Installation really is a breeze. Simply unpack the unit and place it where you wish to use your laptop. Then, place the laptop on top of it and connect the unit to a free USB port on the laptop using the supplied USB cable.

I really liked the way that the NOTEPAL raised the height of my laptop. As the NOTEPAL is angled, it raises the height of the laptop screen and puts the keyboard in an upwards slope. The increased height it provided to the screen was welcomed. I use an external keyboard with my laptop, however using the laptop's keyboard is much easier at an angle, compared to being flat on the table.

The angle also leaves a lot of space under the laptop which improves airflow.

Our laptop used in this review was slightly wider than the NOTEPAL (Approx. 1.5 cm each side), however it was still very stable.


Depending on your laptop model, the way it sits may block indicator lights and/or switches located at the front of your laptop. The laptop we used had only indicator lights on the front, and they were not obscured significantly enough to cause any problems.

GENERAL FEATURES

The unit features an on/off switch to enable or disable the onboard fans. The units fans are rated at 21 dBA. The fans are extremely quiet. Unless you are working in the quietest of rooms/offices, you will barely notice the unit in operation. In fact, you may notice your laptop reducing its own fan spin speed automatically due to the cooling capabilities of the NOTEPAL.


OTHER FEATURES


The NOTEPAL is also designed so it can be used on your lap. Strange how the term laptop has shifted over the years to Notebook instead. With this unit, you can safely operate your laptop on your person, without the fear of burning your privates.

SPECIFICATIONS

Material: Alloy Aluminium
Dimension: 320x300x40 mm
Weight: 2.05kg
Fan Dimension: 70x70x15 mm
Fan Speed" 1500 R. P. M. +/- 10%
Fan Airflow: 9.5 CFM +/- 10%
Fan Life Expectancy: 30,000 hours
Fan Noise Level: 21 dBa
Air Pressure: 0.63 mmH2O +/- 10%
Current: 0.10 A
Input: 0.6 W
Bearing Type: Sleeve
Rated Voltage: 5 VDC
USB Ports: Maximum current rate 300mA

Cooler Master NOTEPAL Specifications
http://tinyurl.com/yorlke

CONCLUSIONS

I did not perform any scientific tests to determine the cooling capabilities of this unit, however manually checking the temperature of the underside of the test laptop did tend to suggest that this unit does operate as advertised.

Taking into account the NOTEPAL's ability to increase the height of your laptop's screen, and the way that it angles the keyboard, I would strongly recommend it. I picked this unit up for NZ$70 from INC Technology in East Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Switching Off Sim Lock on the Samsung W531 Cell Phone

The Samsung W531 Cellphone is currently being marketed and sold through phone provider Telecom New Zealand. Telecom currently runs on a CDMA network, while the only other competitor Vodafone NZ runs on a GSM Network.

The Samsung W531 is marketed as a world phone. As the world leans towards abandoning CDMA for GSM (Telstra in Australia is a big roaming partner with Telecom NZ which is due to drop the CDMA network completely), Telecom have released this phone with dual CDMA and GSM capabilities. Telecom is due to change it's network topology to GSM in the future.

This dual network type connectivity allows Telecom to have roaming agreements with GSM partners overseas without the end user requiring a different handset each time they travel abroad.

Telecom engages a "Sim Lock" on the phone so that it can not be used on the Vodafone NZ GSM network. Telecom allows it only to be used for roaming with it's overseas partners.

All is not lost. I have successfully removed the Sim Lock on my Samsung W531 with ease, and I can switch between Telecom NZ CDMA and Vodafone NZ GSM without any issues.

Before You Begin

Put your GSM Sim Card into the Samsung W531

How to disable the Sim Lock

1. Press the "Menu OK" button on your handset

2. Press # (hash/pound key)

3. Press 1

4. Press 0 (number zero)

5. In the presented window, enter code 123580 [Update 01-Aug-08: If this code fails please try 159753. thanks dwanhalla]

6. Press OK

7. Press * (star key) to select the menu labeled "Sim Lock"

8. Change the option from "On" to "Off"

9. Your Samsung W531 will restart automatically and attempt to connect to the GSM network for the Sim Card you have inserted.

Notes: Some sources report that if you firmware upgrade your Samsung W531 at any stage, it will reset the Sim Lock settings and may change the code required to enter the service menu. You may wish to consider this as there have been firmware bugs reported on the Samsung W531.

Some sources also report that a different service code may be required and that the method of accessing the service menu differs from that described in this guide.

When the phone is in GSM mode it is not capable of sending or receiving Vodafone PXT/MMS messages.

The service code and procedure were performed on a Samsung W531 with the following version information:

PRL: 01031
S:SCH-W531 AJ05
H:W531.04
MCL:5.1.23

REFERENCES

Sim Lock code information adapted from reader comments posted by Hamish and GreeZe at:

Sprint's SCH-W531 from Samsung in the flesh
http://tinyurl.com/2ktt9z

Additional field service code provided by dwanhalla.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Enabling and Disabling User Account Control (UAC) in Windows Vista

Windows Vista ships with a strong security feature known as User Account Control. This is a powerful security feature, however, it may annoy both novices and experts alike with the constant dialog boxes it generates, requesting permission to perform system functions. This quick guide demonstrates how to switch it on or off.

Open the Control Panel

The first step in enabling or disabling User Account Control is to open the Control Panel. This can easily be achieved by clicking the start button and selecting "Control Panel" as indicated in the screenshot below:


Opening User Accounts

From the main control panel, double-click to open the "User Accounts" Control Panel Applet. Refer to the screenshot below:

Opening the configuration for User Account Control

From the following windows, click on the item labeled "Turn User Account Control on or off" as per the screenshot below:


Toggle User Account Control on and off

Turn User Account Control (UAC) by ticking or unticking the checkbox as shown in the screenshot below:

Click OK when you have finished your selection, and you are complete.

Further Reading:

User Account Control - Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_Account_Control

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Omnipass + Windows Vista + Windows Update = Problems?

I recently came into contact with a brand new Lenovo laptop (3000 N100 model) loaded with Windows Vista Business on it. The laptop came preloaded with the Omnipass Fingerprint Security application. This application is written by Softex Incorporated.

I ran into an issue with the application after I performed a normal Windows Update. After the installation of a number of updates, the machine restarted as per normal after applying the updates.

Unfortunately, the user is now presented with duplicated user listings at the Welcome screen. This means that, for example, if you have three users, each user will be displayed twice on the welcome screen. This does not affect usability. On entering Windows Vista, it is confirmed that there are NOT any duplicate accounts within account management.

After performing an uninstall of Omnipass, the problem is resolved. A re-installation of Omnipass should allow the application to function normally.

However, Ronnie Vernon (Microsoft MVP) (link) advises that downloading and running UninstMSPwdProv.exe from Softex will resolve the fault without requiring a re-installation:

[Update 09/04/2015] You may download UninstMSPwdProv.exe from NZTECHIE.COM.

If you decide to create a system restore point, then un-install the application, be aware that fingerprints stored and associated with accounts will not be restored when you roll back. You need to use the inbuilt capability of Omnipass to back up the profiles, or re-enroll all your users after a rollback.


In the comments section I have listed all of the Windows Updates that were installed prior to the problem occurring.

I have also located a Discussion Thread regarding the same fault at:

Duplicate icons on Welcome Screen
http://forums.techarena.in/showthread.php?t=813976

The main Softex Incorporated website is available at:

Softex Incorporated
http://www.softexinc.com

I have also located the following post which is written by a Microsoft MVP which carries a significant weight with me:

User account appears twice. cannot delete it
http://groups......osoft.public.windows.vista.ad....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How to install a Veo Advanced Webcam on Windows Vista

There are no dedicated drivers available for the Veo Advanced Webcam for use under Windows Vista, and if you attempt to use the standard installation CD you will be greeted with an error stating that the driver is only compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP. To make things worse, the Veo website appears to now be defunct.

However, I have successfully installed the drivers supplied with the camera on a Windows Vista machine. The method for getting this camera installed on Windows Vista is to use what is known as compatibility mode.

This is a feature of Windows Vista (and some earlier versions) that allows some older drivers and applications to function with newer Windows Operating systems. In essence, it fools the installation CD into thinking it is installing on a compatible OS. I have had success by using Windows Vista in Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode for this application. [Note: you configure compatibility mode per application, you don't need to run the whole system in such a mode].

One Method

1. Hold down the shift key on your computer to disable the CD from Autoplaying

2. Insert the Veo Advanced Connect Installation CD-ROM & Bundled Sofware CD-ROM in your CD-ROM/DVD-ROM Drive.

3. Browse to the root (first) directory of the Install CD and locate Autorun.exe

4.
Right-Click Autorun.exe and select Properties

5. On the resulting window, move to the 'compatibility' tab and tick the box labeled "Run this program in compatibility mode for:" then select "Windows XP (Service Pack 2).

6. Click "OK"

7. Browse back to the executable (Autorun.exe), run it and install it as per normal.



Below you will find links to where you can download ISO, Nero, and zipped versions of the Veo Advanced Connect Installation CD-ROM & Bundled Software install CD.

The install CD claims compatibility with Windows 98/ME/2000/XP. As per this post, it is compatible with Windows Vista when compatibility mode is used.

Veo Advanced Connect Installation CD-ROM & Bundled Software
[Version: AdvCntV008-VIM] 
Download

Friday, January 11, 2008

More email blunders and a Creative License

In the spirit of recent emails which have been sent in error to me, I include the following email which I received from Sky City Cinemas. It appears they have an important announcement. Unfortunately, the email is devoid of any content other then a standard signature. See the screenshot taken below:

In other news, I have been doing some investigation into the creative commons licensing system. I have now publicised in this blog my authorisation for others to make copies of my work, subject to the restrictions of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License.

Link to License: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 New Zealand License

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How to make it easier for your blog readers to submit posts to Social Bookmarking sites

After some intensive testing on this Blog today, I have now added a Bookmark option at the bottom of all posts on each of my three blogs.

The button is provided by addthis.com and allows people who use social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Del.icio.us, and Reddit to easily submit a post to the respective services.

I have never been a user of Social Bookmarking services, however I can definitely see a value in making use of them. The ability to share bookmarks with others, and vote on the quality of articles is great. According to some reading I did earlier today, search engines such as Google and Live! Search will give these sites a lot of weighting when delivering search results.

Time will tell whether of not this facility will boost any traffic to my blogs. I have submitted about a dozen blog posts which I consider some people may be interested in. I also submitted a couple of my YouTube videos as well for experimentation.

When you submit a video to Digg, it appears to take a snapshot from the video for inclusion in the Digg. However, it does not correctly pick thumbnails when I use the nz.youtube.com/blahblah prefix. It works when I use www.youtube.com/blahblah. An oversight on Digg's part.

Link to Addthis: http://www.addthis.com

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Google Analytics for Gallery 2

This evening I took the simple steps of adding Google Analytics tracking to my new online photo gallery. I found a simple and straight-forward tutorial on Bharat Mediratta's Gallery site at the following URL:

Google Analytics for Gallery

The process is quite simple in that all that is required is to make a new directory within Gallery, copy an existing configuration file (theme.tpl) into it, and insert the HTML code into the theme.tpl file and save it.

Gallery automatically picks up the the new directory created and uses the tpl within it. The author of the tutorial advises that this process will also survive updates and upgrades to Gallery2.