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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why won't my 3-D TV work?

Selecting an HDMI cable



If you're the proud new owner of a 3-D TV, Blu-ray player, or other high-end devices that use HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cables you may have the wrong cable.

standardstandard automotivestandard with ethernet
                   high speedhigh speed with ethernet

There are 5 types of HDMI cables (one is for use in the automobile industry, so we'll skip that one in this discussion).

There are 2 speeds of cable - Standard and High Speed. The difference is that only the High Speed cable will support 1080p, 3-D, a higher resolution called "4K", and a colorspace called "Deep Color". So if your devices are working fine in 2-D and at 1080i or below, but fail when you try something that requires more bandwidth, the cable is the problem.

Each of those two speeds also come in versions with or without an Ethernet channel. Trying to get connected from the Internet through your Blu-ray player onto you TV and it's just not working? Check the cable's packaging for the phrase "Ethernet Channel".

One feature that both Standard and High Speed cables have in common is called "Audio Return Channel", abbreviated "ARC" on some devices. This allows you to use one HDMI cable to send audio to your Home Theater sound system for playback.

Keep it simple --- to insure that all of your high end video, audio, gaming, and internet devices will work together with the equipment you have now and anything you may add in the future, go with the one HDMI cable that provides all of the capabilities you will need: High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet.

high speed with ethernet

All of the current HDMI features are supported with a High Speed HDMI with Ethernet cable.

For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Egyptian Case Mod - Part 2

Hieroglyphs from the Book of the Dead

With the limestone shell complete, it was time to get creative. Before starting
this part of the construction phase, I had sifted through numerous books on
Egypt, Egyptian Jewelry, Tutankhamen, hieroglyphics, and did lots of Internet
photo searches for inspiration or possible source material. Rather than depicting
some static deities just standing or sitting, I decided on a composite hunt
scene for one of the panels and a partial recreation of a Tutankhamen chariot
scene for the second. For some "authentic" hieroglyphic text, I selected
several translated passages from "The Egyptian Book of the Dead" by
E. A. Wallis Budge.

A chariot scene, based on a mirror image of this one, will be carved on one
side panel.

Some of the text assembled from the "The Egyptian Book of the Dead"
to be integrated with the chariot scene.

The first step was to lay out the figures and scenes in pencil, and to draw
grid lines for the hieroglyphs. The hieroglyph text was then copied into the
grid, and then details added to the plants, animals and other figures. Using
a flexible shaft and a small diamond burr, outlines are cut around the figures,
edge lines and text separation lines, and then the hieroglyphs cut. After all
the glyphs were carved, then the details of the figures are added next, with
some shaping done to emphasize the forms.

A hunt scene with elements of several different carvings and designs is laid
out in pencil on a side panel.

Diamond burrs and a flexible shaft are used to carve the hieroglyphs and design
into the surface of the tile. Note that I changed the two eyes of Horus into
one large one before I started carving the scene.

Detail of the Horus / hawk carving with a hole carved out to hold a carnelian

Once the carving stage was mostly complete, I could get fancy with some
embellishments. First, I cut a round carnelian cabochon to place in the sun
circle over the Ra / Horus Hawk. In the pencil sketch, I started with two
"eyes" but replaced that with a single larger eye instead.

The single eye of Horus is a medallion crafted from brass and inlaid with
malachite (dark green and banded) and variscite (pale green). To make these
gemstone medallions, narrow strips of metal are shaped into channels to form
the design and soldered together. The assembled channel work is then soldered
to a flat sheet, and excess metal trimmed away with a jeweler's saw. Rough gemstone
is then cut and ground to fit like a series of jigsaw pieces. Once a group
of pieces are cut to shape, they are glued into the channel with epoxy. The
surface of the medallion is then ground down flush with the channel, then
sanded and polished. If a section is to be carved in low relief (like the
scroll) this is either left out of the channel during the grinding phase or
carefully avoided and polished out by hand at the end. The finished medallion
is placed on the panel and its outline traced in pencil. Last, the limestone
has a medallion-shaped hole carved to countersink the medallion into the panel
for gluing.

Step one, create the design from flat strips of brass and then solder the design
to a piece of flat sheet.

Step two, cut pieces of gemstone to fit the metal channel and then glue into
place with epoxy.

(Step two continued) The pale green is variscite, the dark green is malachite.

Step three, grind flush, and then sand and polish the inlay. The spiral had
to be hand-polished.

A similar process was repeated with the second side panel; sketching, carving,
and setting medallions and accents. For the chariot panel, I created two smaller
gemstone medallions incorporating icons used to symbolize upper and lower
Egypt. I have a vulture wearing the white crown, and a cobra wearing the red
crown. In addition to the malachite and variscite, I used turquoise, calcite,
lapis, ivory, and coral in the vulture, and lapis lazuli and coral in the
cobra. Accents to the side panel include another carnelian sun and a small
hammered brass dome positioned in the horses' harness.

The vulture and cobra inlays are ready to be filled with the stone inlay.

Turquoise, ivory, malachite, lapis, variscite, red coral, and banded calcite
are inlayed into the medallions. These are set into the stone panel and glued
in place with epoxy.

Next time: Aging the panel carvings.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to run Disk Defragmenter in Windows 7

Description: Running a defragmentation can improve system performance.
  1. Begin by going to the Start Menu » All Programs » Accessories » System Tools » Disk Defragmenter.

    disk defrag

  2. This will open Disk Defragmenter. From here, you can schedule a defragmentation, analyze the contents of the hard disk, or do an on-demand defrag.

    disk defragmenter

  3. To begin defragmentation, choose the hard disk to defrag, and click Defragment Disk.

    defrag disk

  4. The process will begin to analyze the disc, and begin the defragmentation process. This process does take quite some time, so slow progress is normal.
  5. The progress is available in the right column.


  6. The process can be cancelled at any time, without any disk damage, by clicking Stop Operation.

    stop operation
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Web Browser Toolbars: How and why to remove them

Internet browser toolbars are present on almost every computer. They are quarter-inch wide strips that run across the top of your internet browser window - Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, etc. These browser plug-ins typically provide a search window and several quick access icons. Here is a screen shot of three of the most common toolbars at work - Yahoo, Google and Bing:


Most computer users do not know how they acquired the browser toolbars to begin with. Nor do they realize the risk in computing performance and security that they pose. While a few toolbars may provide some benefit, for the most part, toolbars are a nuisance. They exist almost exclusively to advertise for the creators of the toolbars. When a toolbar search window or icon is clicked, the makers of the toolbar earn income through a referral mechanism - and this is done at the expense of the computer user’s time and PC performance! Therefore, my recommendation is that computer users get rid of toolbars... ALL of them.

Here are more specific reasons for removing them:
  1. They probably got installed unconsciously. In other words, you did not intentionally choose to install the toolbars in the first place. They just "showed up," or came with other software.
  2. They take up valuable screen space for viewing websites. Each toolbar installed pushes your viewable screen down further, leaving you with less space to view web pages.
  3. They steal internet bandwidth while you are online trying to do something else, because many of them are busy uploading information about you to a third party, such as marketing interests. Thus, they steal both computer performance and personal privacy.
  4. In the worst case, they can be a conduit for viruses that are more malicious. By definition, they create security holes in your internet connection as they send off info about you to other places. Thus, some toolbars are actually considered to be viruses by some anti-virus programs!
  5. They provide search windows that are unnecessary, since most browsers already provide a quick-access search window built into the interface of the browser.
  6. They sometimes run stealth operations that steer you to web pages that the toolbar authors want rather than web pages you want.

Here are some of the most common toolbars that get installed into browsers:

AIM Flickr Shop at Home
Alexa Frostwire Simppull
A lot Fun Web Products Stumble
AOL (America Online) Google Swagbucks
Ask Limewire Total Recipe Search
Bing Media Monkey Weather Channel
Community MSN Weatherbug
Cool Web Search My Way Web Crawler
Coupons.com My Web Search Winamp
Crawler Radio.com Yahoo
Dealio RetailMeNot Zynga
DivX Search  

The best way to get rid of browser toolbars is to uninstall them, cleanly. In other words, don’t merely disable them within the browser, itself. The toolbar may come back, and it may still be active behind the scenes. Once you start to investigate, you may be surprised at how many toolbars are installed on your PC! Here’s how to get rid of them:

  • To remove toolbars from Windows XP, navigate to the Control Panel and start the "Add or Remove Programs" utility. Scroll down the list of programs to find the toolbars you want to remove. Click once on the program to highlight it, then click on the "Remove" button that appears in the highlighted strip.
  • To remove toolbars from Windows Vista and Windows 7, simply click the "Start" button, then "Computer" in the right panel of the Startup menu. Next, click "Uninstall or change a program" in the menu bar. Scroll down the list of programs to find the toolbars you want to remove. Click once on the program to highlight it, then click the "Remove" button at the top.
For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Egyptian Case Mod - Part 1

Entombment - The Limestone Shell

My project this time around was not one selected for the technology challenge,
but one that I wanted to do just for "artistic" reasons.

A Nzxt Nemesis case before modification, and the completed EgyptMod

In the QuetzalMod Feathered Serpent project, I suggested that one did not have
to use anything other than some simple craft techniques to create a unique,
personalized, computer chassis. However, for this project, I applied some of
my more specialized jewelry metalworking and lapidary (gemstone cutting and
polishing) skills. Add a dash of rough stone working, sixty or seventy pounds
of limestone floor tile, and a stuffed dog -- and I created my EgyptianMod case.
Oh yeah, I did add a computer system board and some other components in there
somewhere too.

Starting with a five 5.25-bay Nzxt Nemesis gaming case (it was on sale, what
can I say...), I promptly stripped the case down to the side panels and frame.
There won't be any system board or special internal effects shown off in this
casemod design, so I covered the side panel window with a piece of steel sheet.
In place of the front bezel, I attached lengths of 3/4 inch square aluminum
tubing to extend out beyond the front of the chassis to enclose the drive bays.
Two brass plates were cut for front doors and riveted to sections of piano hinge.
The lower door fastens with a simple cabinet latch, and covers the front fan
opening and provides access for the front panel wires for the power switch and
LED indicator lights. The upper door covers the five 5.25 inch drive bays and
has a strong magnet glued on the outside; a second magnet glued inside the aluminum
tubing creates a hidden magnetic latch. To prepare the case for gluing on the
limestone tile, I used a coarse grinding wheel over the top, sides and front
doors. With the foundation done, I can also take accurate measurements for the
stone tile - time to go shopping!

The tile store suggested using epoxy to attach the tile to metal, but I was
concerned about differences in expansion and contraction of the metal and stone.
I have seen epoxy shear away from metal under just those conditions. Discussing
this with them, I asked about silicon adhesive, which would be much more flexible;
they agreed this should work fine as long as the surface was rough enough to
bond to.

Silicone adhesive smells as it cures, but remains flexible to anchor the limestone tiles.

Using a tile saw with a water cooled diamond blade, I cut 12" limestone
tiles down to fit the two side panels. Four sections are positioned to extend
past the front of the removable panels, out to the edge of the aluminum tubing.
With all of the tiles trimmed and checked for placement, the approximate position
of the panel is marked on the back. (Because I just know people will ask, I
weighed the case with drives and system board in place but before any stone
was attached; before weight = 34 pounds.) Silicon tile adhesive is then run
over the areas where the tile will mount to the case side panel. The process
is repeated for the second side panel, and the glue allowed to cure over night.
With the side panels in place, final width measurements for the top and bottom
tiles can be taken without guessing.

Limestone tile extends past the edge of the side panel to overlap the tubing
on the front of the case.

Before gluing bottom or top tiles, some additional work must be done. My design calls for four pedestal like feet with a decorative curve to the inside edges at each corner. Small squares of tile are cut and glued together with epoxy. Spring clamps maintain pressure
and prevent slipping until the glue sets. Two larger squares are angle-cut
then ground to a curve using a small grinding wheel in a hand drill. Both
parts are then glued together and the outer sides are squared up and the
joints between the layers are emphasized with a small diamond wheel. A hole-saw
was used on the front tile to cut three openings to allow air through the
base into the front intake fan. The feet were then glued and clamped in
place on to the base tiles with epoxy. Once set, then the base tile was
attached to the case bottom with silicon.

Feet are created from two large squares and two small squares of tile glued
together with clear epoxy.

With the pairs glued together, a bevel is ground on two sides of the large
piece. The smaller pair is then glued to the large.

Tiles are cut to extend past the edge of the shell. Holes are drilled for
air flow into the case behind the front bezel. The finished feet are glued
to the base tiles before gluing the bottom tiles to the case.

Gluing the bottom tiles to the case with silicone adhesive.

For the top cap, I wanted a curved edge from the side panel out to a wider
flat top surface. Rather than make this completely solid, I took some of the
scrap from the trimmed tiles and glued these in a stepped fashion. After setting,
I used the tile saw to angle-cut the sides, then a small grinding wheel to
make an inside curve along the layered edge.

Grinding a curved edge into the top cap. Dust from the dry grinding is minimized
with a shop-vac. (Wear a mask and eye protection - it still gets everywhere!)

The top cap is glued to the case with silicone adhesive.

The curved cap was attached to the case with silicon, and then epoxy used
to attach the top tiles to finish off the cap. Note that the weight is slightly
reduced by using just a strip of tile around the outside, with other scraps
stacked in the center to support the final layer of tile.

Next time: Research and carving of the hieroglyphs

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Troubleshooting Color Printing Issues

"It’s not suppose to look like THAT...."

Let's start with some basics - how exactly do you get all of those colors to print?

Most printers use just three colors - Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow - plus Black (also called CMYK) to reproduce all of the colors in your photos or charts. Higher end photo printers have additional ink tanks for "photo" colors - light magenta, light cyan, photo black, grey, green, white and clear (really). Regardless of the number of ink tanks, printers use a technique called "Subtractive Color". All of the colors you see on the printed page are a result of using one or more of the ink colors to create the desired output.

So why doesn’t the picture look the way you expected it to? There are a couple of possibilities.....First, not all of the jets in the print head could be spraying ink on the paper. A quick test is to print this page and see if the colors look similar to the screen view:


Each of the colors should look as you expect them to, be solid, with no streaks or lines. Streaks or lines are usually caused by clogged nozzles in the print head(s). Your printer or print driver may have a maintenance option to "clean the print head" which may fix minor issues. But, if the printer has been unused for a period of time, ink may have dried thick over the nozzles or in the feed tubes enough that this will not work, and either require manual cleaning, a visit to the service repair shop, or replacement of the print head. On some printers, like many HP InkJets, the print head and ink reservoir are a single unit. High-end printers, with multiple cartridges, may have a separate print head module that you can replace.

The first three colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow), are used to make red, green, and blue. If there's a problem with the C, M, or Y ink tanks or print heads, your red, green, and/or blue will also be off.


The next possibility has to do with "chemistry" - manufacturers inks are designed to be used with their papers, which in turn are designed to absorb the inks at a specific rate to render the best color possible. You’ll see examples of this in Micro Center’s printer department where each of the printer manufacturers are have sample prints printed with their ink on their photo papers.

Are your printouts still not looking exactly right? It may be time for you to invest in a colorimeter and professional grade inkjet printer with hardware and software designed for precise color matching. Micro Center carries a wide range of inkjet printers, starting at under $50 and going over $1,000. Our Sales Associates can help you get the printer that's "picture perfect" for you.

For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Networking with a Wireless Access Point or Wireless Router

Infrastructure networking

A wireless access point connects your local wired network with wireless clients. A wireless router performs the same function but allows you to share a connection to another network or the Internet with all of your local wired and wireless systems.

This is the typical configuration used for wireless hotspots that can be found in hotels, coffee shops, airports and other locations.

Before any client system can connect to a wireless router or access point, the router must be connected to the wired network and configured. You will usually find that most routers and access points are factory configured to automatically obtain an IP address and will make the wired network available as soon as they are powered on and connected. This makes it very easy to test your wireless connection right out of the box, but keep in mind, if it’s easy for you, then it is just as easy for anyone else that might be in range.

The first step with your new wireless router will be to connect a system so you can configure its settings. To do this, connect a cable between a system with a wired network adapter to one of the local area network connections. (The following steps are for Windows XP, but should be similar for other versions of Microsoft Windows. For other operating systems such as Linux, Linspire or Apple OS, check your help screens or documentation files for configuring a network.)
  1. Open your network connections, and right click on the (wired) local area network adapter and select "properties".
  2. Select TCP/IP from the list and click on properties. This should be set to "obtain an IP address automatically" since the router should be factory configured to provide one.
  3. Once this has been done, exit back to network connections and save any changes.
  4. In the Network connections window, double click on your network connection to display the status.
  5. In the Connection status list, you should see that you adapter has been assigned an IP address and gateway by the router. The Gateway address should be the address of your wireless router; it is this IP address you will use to check or change the router settings.
  6. Open a browser window and enter the gateway address in the address bar. A typical router might have an IP address of, in this case you would enter for the web address. When you press enter or the "Go" button, you should see the router’s password prompt or login screen. Check your documentation for how to proceed, since each vendor is slightly different. Some may have a user of "admin" or "root" with no password, others may have no user name, just a password.
To start, change your router’s SSID and set a password. Most of the other settings will not need to be changed until you are ready to start implementing security features on your network. I don’t recommend activating WEP, WPA or MAC address security features until you have successfully connected to your network. Once you know all your hardware works together, then you can turn on these features one at a time, making sure that the clients can continue to communicate at each step. If you activate them first, it makes it very difficult to troubleshoot communication problems. If you add additional clients later, you may need to disable these security features and then reactivate them one at a time using this same approach. The network names that show up in an "Available Wireless Networks" list are the name you entered for the SSID - all devices sharing a single network connection must have the same SSID entered. If you have a different SSID for your client, you will not connect to the wireless network until it matches what the router has (or other peer-to-peer clients.) If you need to increase the coverage area for your wireless network, such as you might want in a business environment, connect several access points throughout the building to the same wired network. All access points must have the same SSID, but should have unique transmit channels assigned, and unique network IP addresses. For example, if you have three access points on the network, you could assign local IP addresses of,, and The IP address for the router or access point becomes the gateway address used by the wireless client.

The next step will be to configure your client system to connect to the wireless router. With Windows XP managing the connections, this should occur as soon as the hardware drivers for the wireless adapter have been loaded. Your alternative to having Windows manage the wireless network is to use the software that comes with the adapter. If you are using a notebook with built-in wireless, you may not have this option. If you have Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) installed, an enhanced Wireless Networking wizard is available and can be easily accessed in a number of ways, including clicking on the Wireless Network icon in the Windows status bar; clicking on Network Connections or one of the configuration wizards in the Windows Control Panel; or accessing the network adapter properties for your adapter in Network Connections.

With SP2 installed, choosing to "View Available Wireless Networks" opens the Wireless Network Connection wizard. This should show all available networks in the range of your system. To connect to your router, you should have to do little more than select the Network SSID from the list and click on "Connect". Since we have not enabled any security on the router yet, you will probably get a message box warning you that this network is not secure. If all works as it should you will be connected to your wireless router and to any wired network that it is connected to. Congratulations! You have also succeeded in creating a completely unsecured wireless connection, exposing your local network and/or Internet to anyone within wireless range...

If you don't have Service Pack 2, or for that matter - Windows XP, then you will probably have to use the wireless utility that comes with your adapter. Many of these are based on a common core utility so have similar choices and features for your connection settings.
The router menus will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but there should be some common features such as:
  • Setting the SSID
  • Setting the password
  • Setting the wireless channel
  • Enabling or Disabling WEP encryption and setting the level of encryption (i.e. 64 or 128-bit)
  • Generate or enter WEP encryption key
  • Restricting access by MAC address
  • Assigning IP addresses or an address range
  • Setting the local IP address range
  • Setting the Wide Area Network address or automatically obtaining one
  • Other enhanced security features may include:
  • Enabling or disabling broadcast of the SSID
  • Enabling WPA encryption

Security Tip: While most routers and access points require configuring through a physical cable connection, some will allow you access to the setup menus through the wireless connection. For this reason, you should make it a point to change both the name (SSID) and password for your router as the first order of business. Changing the name (SSID) helps identify your specific network, which is more of an issue if there are multiple Wireless networks in your business or immediate neighborhood. Changing the password helps prevent someone from granting themselves access to your network, changing your router settings, or worst-case, locking you out of your own equipment.

Setup Tip: WEP encryption codes can be entered as a hexadecimal string (numbers 0-9 letters a-f), or generated with a text-based pass-phrase. (The pass-phrase is used to create the hexadecimal string.) If the method to generate the string is not consistent between your different clients, you may need to copy the resulting hexadecimal string from one device and then paste or manually enter it into the rest of the network configuration boxes.
  1. Type your text string to generate the key on the first system
  2. Click on manual key to switch to the resulting hexadecimal code
  3. Copy this to a text file
  4. Cancel the WEP change (remember that your network is still insecure at this point)
  5. Save the text file to your shared folder where the other user can get it over the network
  6. Re-enable the WEP security on the both systems and the router, using the manual configuration with the same key you generated.
Windows XP Service Pack 2 Feature: The new Wireless Networking Wizard that is part of Windows XP Service Pack 2 includes a method of saving this configuration detail to a USB flash drive (or other storage media) to transfer the necessary settings to other XP SP2 systems.

Additional comments: Hiding your SSID can minimize unauthorized access to your router, but will not prevent it. Programs that monitor the data passing between your system and the router and can easily identify the SSID. Depending on your network settings, your system may be "searching" for the connection even when you are not nearby, transmitting this information even when you are not connected. Your system broadcasts the network SSID whenever you have your wireless configuration set to "connect, even when not in range."

WEP is considered to be a very simple, easy to break encryption. Computers using the appropriate (hacker) programs can break WEP security in just a few hours. WPK and other security protocols offer stronger protection, but whatever method you choose, all of your devices must support it. If you are mixing old and new computers, phones, or other wireless enabled devices, you may have no choice but to use one of the older, more vulnerable encryption modes. While this is better than not using any security, this would never be recommended for any business, or where you might be passing sensitive customer or credit information between wireless systems or exposing data files on the network. Failure to secure your customer information could expose you and your company not just to hackers, but to federal penalties as well.

For more assistance contact Technical Support here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Download and Install CCleaner on Your Windows OS Computer

Description: This article outlines the process of downloading and installing CCleaner on your Windows OS computer.

Background: CCleaner is a "Freemium" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium) utility that helps users safely and efficiently remove unused files from their computers. It is available as a free download at Piriform’s website (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download) for the Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000 operating systems, including both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
  1. Go to the CCleaner Download Page by Clicking on the following Link: http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download
    • Alternatively, you can open the CCleaner Download Page in Your Computer’s Default Web Browser by Pressing the "+ Win" and "R" Keys simultaneously on your Keyboard to open a "Run" Prompt, Typing or Copy/Pasting the above URL in the "Open:" Field and Clicking on the "OK" Button.


  2. Click on one of the Download Links for the Free version of the software as Highlighted in the image below.


    • This Tutorial assumes you have Clicked on the "Download from Piriform" Link.
  3. The Download should Start Automatically.
    • If the Download does not Start within 15 Seconds, Click on "please click on this download link" to start the Download.

      Click on this download link

    • Depending on your Browser, you may need to click "Download File..." from the bar that appears at the top or "Keep" or "Download" at the bottom of your browser to begin downloading the file.



  4. Open the File when the Download completes.
    • Click "Yes" on the User Account Control Window if one appears.
  5. Select your Language and Click on the "OK" Button to continue.


  6. Click on the "Next " Button to continue.


  7. Click on the "I Agree" Button to continue.


  8. Select the Install Options you prefer and click on the "Next" Button to continue.


  9. Choose whether or not to Install the Google Toolbar along with CCleaner and Click on the "Install" Button to continue.


    • The Google Toolbar is Bundled Software. It is considered Safe to use, but it is Not Required.
  10. Click on the "Finish" Button to complete the Installation.

For more assistance contact Technical Support here.