Little known BIOS features: Wake up a computer on a schedule

Difficulty: 1

WakeonrtcI wanted to find a way to power on my computer at 7:30am each morning. This was so that my email and various websites I visit can be updated before I sit down at my computer. With mornings being such a rush, I wanted to use some automation to help me out.

There are normally a number of features in the power management component of the BIOS options, which permit all types of triggers to wake a computer up from hibernation or standby modes. However, if the computer is turned off, these will not work.

One of the triggers allows us to set the computer to launch via the real time clock. We can set how frequently the machine will wake up, or what time of the day we want it too wake up.

Every BIOS is a little different so it is impossible to give specific instructions, but it is not too hard to find. Go into the BIOS and find Power Management. In here, ensure S3 is enabled. There should be an option called “Resume by alarm”, or “Wake-up on RTC”. Once this is enabled, you will be able to set the time you want your computer to turn on. That should be all there is to it.

While I had not seen this feature before, I checked the 3 computers I have access to, to see if they also had this option. These machines are of various ages and they all included this feature. Only one time can be set in the BIOS, so using this method will not work if you want it to turn on in the morning and the afternoon. If you want to do this, you will need to use the task scheduler.

How-to: Schedule your speakers to automatically mute overnight

Difficulty: 1

Clock_snoozeIf you leave your computer on overnight, you may want to consider setting up a scheduled task to mute your speakers after a predefined time. This will protect you from hearing new email notifications, instant message requests and updates from awaking you from your slumber.

I can also see it of being useful in the workplace. If you have a regular meeting you go to each week, it may be worth having your computer mute the sound of your laptop while you are in the board room.

The process is fairly simple. We need to use a free third party utility to allow the mute to take place. There are many utilities you could use for this such as NirCmd or Wizmo, but today to keep things simple I am going to use a program called Mute.

The next step is to set up a scheduled task to enable and disable these utilities. All of these utilities unload themselves from memory once they have run. This means that unmuting can still be controlled through your normal muting methods.

The setup for Vista and XP are slightly different, but you will find all the instructions after the jump.

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Easter Fun: Easter eggs for everyone

EggI wish I could give everyone who reads this an easter egg, but it’s just not going to happen. Well not with the kind of easter egg you want anyway.

There are more types of Easter Eggs than just the chocolate variety. They come in many forms. Easter eggs are also the name of hidden features or novelty items found in movies, DVD menus, software, websites and sometimes even hardware.

I have put together a list of some of my favourite software Easter Eggs for your enjoyment. I have tried to select examples from programs that are found on the majority of computers. This way you will be able to try many of them out yourself.

We are going to look at eggs in the following programs:

  • Pinball
  • Solitaire
  • Nullsoft Winamp
  • Notepad

Read on for your eggs…

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How-to: Rid your inbox of spam – almost (Outlook)

Difficulty: 2

PieChartSpam plagues our Inbox each day. Emails advertising Rolex watches, penis enlargements, viagra and emails from Nigeria offering me vast amounts of money for doing nothing, are all very annoying, but we are able to get rid of most of them automatically.

Email servers often have spam protection built in. These cull the majority of spam, but they have to allow a fair chunk of spam through so as to not restrict legitimate emails. Sometimes if they are unsure, they may add a spam tag to the subject. It is scary looking at server stats, just how much is stopped at the server level.

In our email client we are able to setup rules to remove the majority of remaining spam from our Inbox. I regularly find myself doing this on computers where I work and have found this method to be very reliable.

This article will show you how to setup basic email rules which will check mail as it is received. The rules will look for keywords in the body and the subject of you emails to decide if they are spam or not. We are then able to move these filtered emails to a folder of our choice.

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Port Forwarding Basics – A Beginners Guide

Difficulty: 3

I thought this picture was bad. There are plenty worse ones available.Port Forwarding allows you to access computers behind a router, for various services. To put it another way, Port Forwarding offers you access to computers on your home network accessible from anywhere.

Eg, You may want to setup one of your home computers as a web server. If you have not set up port forwarding, typing in your home IP address into a browser will bring up the router settings. You will need to setup your router to send webpage requests to the computer that will be hosting the site. This is known as port forwarding and it is a supported feature for most routers. Without port forwarding you can’t move beyond the router, restricting you access to all of the computers on the network. 

I have found over the years, my needs for port forwarding have been limited to only a few simple tasks. I set up a web server and an ftp server on one machine. I also needed to have access to a remote desktop connection from another machine. This was easy to setup and allowed me to take my home computers with me on the road.

Once you have access to remote desktop on one machine, you have freedom to access shared network drives from within your home network. There is nothing that you are unable to access. It is as if you were at home, on your home computer.

This article will show you how to configure your router so that you can access computers on your home network, from any computer that is outside of your network. This article is designed for newcomers to Port Forwarding, meaning that there is lots of technical stuff left out.

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