Wake on LAN from the command-line with mc-wol

Waking a machine up through a LAN connection can be very useful to turn on a computer if the power button is a pain to get to; say if you have a computer under your desk. It is also handy if you want to turn on a group of computers.

There are a number of Magic Packet senders that will wake a computer up over a LAN connection, but these are usually stand alone programs that need to be opened up and have data entered into them before they work. I wanted a more customizable solution.

Mc-wol is a command line utility that enables you to wake up a machine on your local area network. Being a command line utility, it is easy to utilize in a shortcut on your desktop, place into a batch file, or use it in a scheduled task.

Don’t let the command line scare you. The syntax is really simple. To launch a computer, type mc-wol followed by the mac/ethernet address. i.e.:

mc-wol 91:34:eb:de:45:32

Mcwol

Wake on LAN software only works on computers which are in standby or hibernate modes.

Mc-wol is free and available from Matcode.com. You will also find a bunch of useful information on the page about simple settings you will need to check before WOL will work.


Configure the Windows Vista boot menu easily with EasyBCD

EasybcdI had an extra entry in my Vista boot menu that I no longer wanted, so I went for a search of boot.ini. As it turns out, the Vista boot menu no longer uses a boot.ini file. The boot menu is configured in a program called BCDedit.

BCDedit is configured through the command line. I played around with it for around 5 minutes before deciding that it was too complicated for me with a Christmas hangover. I knew that if I made an error, I may make my machine unbootable. There had to be an easier way.

I came across a utility called EasyBCD. EasyBCD let me change all the settings of my boot menu in a matter of minutes. I was able to add a Windows partition to the boot list, rename the operating systems as they are shown in the menu, and change the wait time.

EasyBCD made this job completely simple. The interface doesn’t allow for much user error as it fills in many of the blanks. EasyBCD can even help you add non Windows operating systems into the mix.

If anything does go wrong with the changes you make, and you find your machine unbootable, put your Vista disk in your computer and boot to it. A quick repair job will bring back the default boot menu.

Grab your free copy from NeoSmart.net.


Windows Software: Control your computer with your game controller with JoytoKey

Jtk33en3Have you ever wanted to control your computer with a game controller? It could be convenient to use a game controller from the couch to control Windows Media Center or move through PowerPoint slides.

JoytoKey is a small program that allows you to setup the movement controls and buttons of a game controller, into emulated keystrokes and mouse movements. You can setup different profiles for different programs and games, as well as separate configurations for different controllers. You can even configure a button on the controller represent a key combination.

This program is useful in the case where games don’t offer any game controller support, or where some newer games don’t offer support for older controllers, especially where drivers haven’t been updated over the years. JoytoKey allows you to split the axis controls into two separate buttons.

For example; if you have a first person shooter game that does not currently support a game controller, you can setup a profile for your controller to work with the game. Each button will represent a key from from your keyboard. Once all the buttons are configured, you have effectively added game controller support for your game.

Read more and download your free copy from electracode.

If you would like to control your mouse cursor only with your controller, check out this article for a simple alternative.


Windows Software: Photocopier 3.03

PhotocopierThere are a number of programs that make it easy for us to combine a scanner and a printer, so that we can use them in place of a photocopier.

I wanted to find a program that would make this job a piece of cake. I think I have succeeded, oddly enough with a program called Photocopier.

When I first loaded up Photocopier, I searched for the options to see what functions were available. However, there weren’t any fancy options, but this proved to be a good thing.

This program is so simple to use, it detects your scanner and your default printer and automatically uses those devices. These default settings will work very nicely for most simple home computer setups.

All the basic options available are on the main window, and they are kept to a minimum. We can choose the number of copies, brightness, basic scaling, and if we want to print in black and white or colour. This program has all the basic functions I have ever wanted to use on a photocopier.

Photocopier 3.03 is available for free (inoffensive popup on exit) from Nico Cuppon Software. There is also a commercial version available.


Windows Software: Tools to change your default audio playback device.

Shortcuts soundI have received many requests from readers asking how to quickly change the default audio device in Windows. This can be useful as many computers now have various audio devices which can be used. For example, you may want to use one playback device which is connected to PC speakers for playing games and Windows sounds, and another playback device which is connected to a sound system for music or movies.

Windows lets you change the device that audio is sent out of, in the Sounds and Audio options within the control panel. While this method works, it can be tedious to navigate to, especially if you want to change your playback device regularly. Many individual programs also let you choose which audio device will be used for playback, but then changing the playback device within the program requires a separate set of preferences to navigate through.

I came across a couple of tools that make switching the default playback device much easier, and that offer much more control over your audio devices. These tools are System Tray Audio Device Switcher (STADS), and Quick Sound Switch (QSS). Both are great utilities, but they do things slightly differently, and both offer slightly different features.

In this article, I will run through what they both do so that you can decide which one is best for your needs.

Read the rest of this entry »