Windows Software: My Channel Logos

My Channel LogosWindows Media Centre is a fairly complete package out of the box, but what separates it from many other non computer media centres is that it offers the freedom to customise it to suit your wants and needs. While the TV guide looks nicer than many others, the ability to replace channel names with channel logos will really make your media centre stand out.

My Channel Logos is a program that lets you replace channel names in your Windows Media Centre TV guide, with logos of the channels. Not only is it easier to recognise a channel logo from a distance, it makes the guide more appealing and easier to use.

Remote Potato GuideMy Channel Logos has become a must have program for anyone who uses Windows Media Centre. The helpful community are making new logos as new channels become available, so there is very little work for you to do. It is as simple as installing and running it.

My Channel Logos will detect which channels you have in your Windows Media Centre and populate the logos where available. If there are channels that don’t have an available logo, you can easily add your own by clicking on the empty box and selecting a picture from your picture library.

My Channel Logos can also be used by Remote Potato to show the logos in its own TV guide. If you use Windows Media Centre, it is well worth your while to invest the 5 minutes required to install this tool.

I have found My Channel Logos to be flawlessly reliable and easy to use. There is no need to run this program each time Windows starts. Once My Channel Logos has entered the data, Windows Media Centre retains it and the only reason to open the software up again is to make alterations.

My Channel Logos runs on Windows 7 Media Centre and is available for free (donations welcomed) from My Channel Logos.


Windows Software: FTPing made easy with NetDrive

NetdriveMost ISP’s offer a small amount of storage space on their servers that you use to set up a webpage. This space is often included for free as part of their plans. While many people don’t want to create a website, you can still use the space for whatever you would like. You could place your most important files in their as a way of offsite backups, or share files that are too big for email with family and friends.

FTP clients are a great tool for people who spend a lot of time uploading and downloading files from websites or online storage space, but they can be complicated to use if you are not familiar with them. There is an easier way to access this storage space.

Netdrive is a utility that will allow you to show this storage space as a mapped network drive on your computer. This means that you can drag and drop straight into it using the standard Windows File Explorer, bypassing the need for any fancy FTP programs.

Netdrive sits in the system tray, but should only need to be accessed if you would like to add a new site, or change settings.

NetDrive is easy to setup. Once it is installed, create a new site and add in your FTP server settings. You may want to enable load on startup as that will make Netdrive very hands-off in the future. Once the machine is on the storage space will be mapped automatically.

You can then proceed copying and pasting to and from it just like you would with any of your other files or folders.

I have recommended this to a couple of friends, and they have experienced their internet occasionally dropping out while this software is running in the background. Because of this, you may want to load up Netdrive as you require it, rather than loading it at startup.

NetDrive is available from Netdrive.net and is free for home use. Novell also offers a program called Netdrive that does exactly the same thing, with a few less bells and whistles. This is available from Peter’s Useful Crap.


Drive Partitioning made easy with Easeus Partition Manager Home Edition

EaseuspmThere are a number of programs that will allow for easy creation or resizing of drive partitions. Even Windows XP and Vista will let you do this in its disk management utility. However, these free options are not as easy to use as some of the commercial options, and they lack some fairly important features. Until recent times, I did not know of any free programs that would resize a partition and leave the data intact. Vista will do it now, but it is a bit of a challenge.

For many years I have been using Partition Magic as it was the only program that I could find that would resize partitions without losing data. This feature is very important when adding a partition to a computer that is running well. It could save you from needing to resinstall the whole system. Partition Magic is a commercial program which is hard to justify a purchase of, as you may only use it once or twice each year.

EaseUs Partition Manager Home Edition has been labelled a “free replacement for Partition Magic”, and rightly so. The interface is very similar to the popular Partition Magic, and it contains many of the same features.

Features include:

  • Disk resizing without data loss
  • Disk and partition copying
  • Setting partitions active or hidden
  • Disk Labeling
  • Easy to use interface
  • Everything else most people could ever want

This tool is a long saught after tool for those who do a lot of partitioning. Now the job of trying out Linux, or installing XP on a factory installed Vista machine is a lot less daunting, and dare I say it – even enjoyable.

Important Update: Ensure you turn off hibernation and sleep modes before running this program. If it enters these modes while the program is running, you may find your computer is unbootable. Most other tools of this nature run in DOS mode where sleep or hibernate is not a feature, hence not a problem.

Partition Manager has a commercial version available for people who would like a few extra features, but the home version is free and does everything reported in this article. Grab your copy from Partition-Tool.


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.


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.