Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CamSpace - WII interaction for everyone (no need for Nintendo console)

Did you ever try WII? It is definitely a new word in the games world, giving you the most interactive and proactive experience. CamSpace promotes this experience for the personal computers. Now, you may forget your joystick, keyboard and mouse — with CamSpace you can use your WebCam to control your game play!

CamSpace is a no-brainer to install and completely free to use. It supports most WebCams, available on the market, so you should have no problem starting to play one of our 13 pre-packaged games within minutes of installation. And more games in the process of development…

What is CamSpace?

CamSpace is a free program that lets you control computer games using your WebCam with everyday, ordinary objects. So instead of using a mouse, keyboard or joystick, now you can use things like a steering wheel cut out of cardboard, a ketchup bottle or even your fingers to control your game play.

CamSpace currently only works on Windows, but Mac and Linux versions are on the way.

How can I use CamSpace?

First, download CamSpace from the developers’ website. A friendly Wizard will walk you through the simple setup process allowing you to start playing within minutes.

How do I lock on to an object?

Whenever you launch a game within CamSpace, a Wizard will walk you through the process of locking onto an object. Here are things to remember as you configure CamSpace to lock on an object:
  1. Make sure there's plenty of light in the room you're in.
  2. Pick a bright, colorful object with a uniform color that is NOT the color of your shirt or the wall behind you.

Video Presentation:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Useful Windows 7 Tips and Tricks

Windows 7 has received an overwhelmingly positive response and many people are already started using it as their primary operating system. I am still careful to switch completely to this Operating System, but I have already installed it on one of my home computer. While I still personally consider it in “test mode”, I am trying to enhance my experience with its features and capabilities. I found the presented review quite useful, and I am sure it will help other Windows 7 examiners as well.
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1. How to Open “Computer” with Windows Explorer
By default, Windows Explorer’s launch page is the Libraries directory. Clicking on the Explorer button on the taskbar also launches your Libraries directory. However, most of us would rather have My Computer as the launch directory. In order to do this type “explorer” into the Start Menu search field, locate the Windows Explorer shortcut and select properties from its right click context menu.
Change the target from “%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe” to “%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}”.
Save the changes and you are done!

If you want to change the properties of the taskbar entry only, right click on the explorer button on the taskbar, right click on Windows Explorer (near the bottom of the jumplist) and select properties. Then change the target to “%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}”

2. Learn the Hot-Keys
Knowing some of the essential keyboard shortcuts can seriously improve your productivity and enhance your operating experience with the new Operating System. There are some of the useful shortcuts:
  • Alt+P: Toggles the Explorer preview pane.
  • Win+G: Displays gadgets in front of other windows.
  • Win + +(plus key): Launches the magnifier and zooms in.
  • Win +- (minus key): Zooms out
  • Win +Up: Maximizes the active window.
  • Win +Down: Minimizes the active window.
  • Win +Home: Minimizes/ restores all background windows.
  • Win +Left: Hotkey for Aero-Snap. Docks the window to the left edge of the screen and resizes it to half the screen size.
  • Win +Right: Same as above, but snaps the window to the right edge of the screen.
  • Win + T: Changes the focus to the taskbar. Once focused, you can use your arrow keys to select any taskbar item.
3. Create another Instance
If you have an application open, then you can launch another instance of it by simply pressing and holding Shift key while clicking on its taskbar icon. There is no need to go hunting for it again in the start menu.

4. Tweak the Taskbar
The first thing you notice in Windows 7 is the new taskbar. Button labels have been done away with and the buttons themselves have been made larger. If you are not comfortable with the new taskbar here are a few suggested modifications:
  • Intelligent Grouping: By default Windows 7 always groups similar windows together. This is counterproductive as you need to hover over an entry to first select that group and then click on the desired instance. A better approach is to group windows only if you are running out of space. To achieve this right click on the taskbar, select properties and set taskbar buttons to Combine when full, instead of Always combine, Hide labels.
  • Small Buttons: Many people also dislike the bigger buttons in Windows 7. To slim down your taskbar just enable Small Buttons from Taskbar Properties (Right click on taskbar and select properties).
  • Quick Launch: The new taskbar makes the quick launch redundant, but if you preferred the old style you can still get it back. Right Click on the taskbar and select New Toolbar from the Toolbars section. Enter “%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch” as the selected folder. Once again bring up the right-click context menu by clicking on the taskbar and make sure that Lock Taskbar isn’t enabled. Now right click on the divider and disable Show Text and Show Title. Move the Quick Launch section to the desired position and Lock the taskbar.
5. Windows Gestures
  • Windows 7 doesn’t support mouse gestures per say. However, it does include support for touch-screen devices and the touch-screen gestures works even with the mouse. There are two of them which are particularly useful.
  • Click on any taskbar entry and drag your mouse upwards. This would bring up the trigger the Jumplist.
  • Click and drag your mouse downwards in Internet Explorer address bar to unveil your browsing history and bookmarks.
  • There is also Aero Shake, which was designed to work with the mouse. If you shake a window (click-hold title bar of any window and move up and down rapidly) all background windows would be minimized.
6. Tweak User Account Control
User Account Control (UAC) in Vista was one of the weak points and target for critics. Thankfully, Windows 7 allows you to tone it down. To change UAC settings navigate to Control Panel –> Action Center –> User Account Control Settings. The slider allows you to set the notification level (or even disable user account control). If you want more control fire up the Group Policy Editor by typing gpedit.msc in the start menu search box. Browse to Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options. At the bottom of the list you would find the following UAC settings :
§         User Account Control: Admin Approval Mode for the Built-in Administrator account.
§         User Account Control: Allow UIAccess applications to prompt for elevation without using the secure desktop.
§         User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompt for administrators in Admin Approval Mode.
§         User Account Control: Behavior of the elevation prompts for standard users.
§         User Account Control: Detect application installations and prompt for elevation.
§         User Account Control: Only elevate executables that are signed and validated.
§         User Account Control: Only elevate UIAccess applications that are installed in secure locations.
§         User Account Control: Run all administrators in Admin Approval Mode (i.e. as standard users).
§         User Account Control: Virtualize file and registry write failures to per-user locations.
To edit any setting select properties from the right click context menu.

7. Calibrate Your Display
Windows 7 includes a display calibrator that adjusts basic colors settings, gamma, brightness, contrast, color balance etc according to your display device. You can type dccw in the Start Menu search box to launch the Display Color Calibrator.

Friday, July 10, 2009

10 Possible Reasons why your USB device is not recognized

Sometimes when you connect a USB device to your system it shows a nasty error message “USB device not recognized” or "Unknown device". I bet you know what I mean and everyone, at least once, experienced this problem on their computers.

There might be multiple reasons for the failure to recognize the USB device. We will review some of them:

1. Windows XP-based computer resumes from standby or hibernation

When you plug a USB device into a Windows XP-based computer immediately after the computer resumes from standby or hibernation, the computer does not recognize the USB device. There is a five-to-ten-second period when the selective suspend feature of the USB driver interferes with detection of the new USB device.

Resolution is simple. Unplug the USB device, and then plug the device back into the computer or hub.

2. USB Type

Your USB drivers are part of your main chipset drivers. The first time you install Windows, or if you have re-installed Windows from scratch since, you must load the motherboard main chipset drivers in order for Windows to have the proper info about your USB controllers, among other information.

If all your ports are USB 2.0 type only, and you try to plug the USB 1.1 device, you might have a permanent or intermittent recognition problem. If you have an older motherboard, with all or some ports being exclusively USB 1.1, your USB 2.0 will not be recognized as well. Newer motherboards are usually USB 2.0 for all ports, but they also should support any USB 1.1 devices.

3. Cold Reboot

This is my favorite troubleshooting approach, as it resolves about 40% of all the issues my customers are having with their computers. Shut down the computer regular way and patiently wait for it to power down completely. Remove power plug from the computer case. Some of the modern computers still keep the motherboard under residual power, even when computer is OFF. And we want to cut off all the power to PC in order to clear out any electronic glitches sitting in the electronic elements memory. Wait couple of minutes, and turn on computer in the reversed order.

4. USB port connections

Check if the device you try to connect is indeed connected properly. Note that it is possible to insert the USB connector upside down, forcing it inside. Be sure, that it is not the case.

If you notice that any device plugging will result in the same recognition failure, check the connector to insure that the pins are not bent or damaged. Note that the built-in (usually ftont) USB ports in your computer case might have a poor connection inside the computer itself. It's good to check the wire connections of USB port. The correct order of connection is Red, White, Green, and Black.

5. Power for USB devices

Some USB devices require extra power to work properly. A single USB connection, providing both data and power, might be insufficient to assure the proper device operation. If you can plug-in power cable, do that and you will decrease load on the device. You may also try choosing a different USB port. If you attempted to connect to USB hub, check if connection directly to USB port in computer makes any difference. You may also try a shorter (or more expensive) USB cable to improve the data transfer quality.

6. Device drivers

If windows is unable to recognize the device, the reason might be in missing or corrupted USB drivers. You can forcefully attempt to recognize the USB Device through Device manager.

Just follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Run, type Devmgmt.msc, and then click OK. The Device Manager window opens.
  2. Click to select your computer as the location for the scan.
  3. On the Action menu, click Scan for hardware changes.
    Windows XP recognizes the new device.
  4. Close the Device Manager window.
If this method does not resolve the issue, you may try to disable power management of the USB hub:
  1. Click Start, click Run, type Devmgmt.msc, and then click OK. The Device Manager window opens.
  2. Expand Universal Serial Bus controllers.
  3. Right-click a USB Root Hub in the list, and then click Properties. The USB Root Hub Properties dialog box is displayed.
  4. Click the Power Management tab.
  5. Click to clear the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power check box, and then click OK.
  6. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for each USB Root Hub in the list.
  7. On the Action menu, click Scan for hardware changes.
    Windows XP recognizes the new device.
  8. Close the Device Manager window.
If this approach does not help either, you might uninstall all the USB related drivers through the Device Manager and let system find and recognize them again after computer cold reboot (unplug from power as was advised as well).

7. Removing Hidden Devices

If you plug the bad or incompatible USB device, the system will try to recognize it anyway and will attempt to fit the related drivers. However, if the process is not successful, it might corrupt your USB drivers, causing recognition problems for good USB devices. The following procedure will allow you to see ALL the drivers installed on your computer and remove all problematic from the configuration.
1. Click Start. Click Run. Type cmd and press OK.
2. Type set DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS=1 and press Enter.
3. Type set DEVMGR_SHOW_NONPRESENT_DEVICES=1 and Press Enter.
4. Type Devmgmt.msc and click press Enter.
5. Click View. Click Show hidden devices.
6. Click “+” to expand Imaging devices, Unknown devices and USB devices.
7. Are there any USB devices and unknown devices (including grayed out devices)? If so, please right click it and click Uninstall.

8. Removing Device Drivers

If all the attempts to uninstall the USB devices using the stored standard USB drivers failed, you drivers files might be corrupted. Follow the steps:
1. Remove all oem*.inf files =
·        Click start and click run then under the run line type in the command cmd.
·        In the command line, type in the following and press enter after each command:
cd \windows\inf
ren infcache.1 *.old
ren oem*.inf *.old
del C:\windows\setupapi.log
2.      Removing all entries under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Enum/USB that start with VID ==

Removing the VID entries from the registry will cause them to be redetected at restart.
CAUTION: If you have a USB keyboard or mouse, do not remove the VID entry for these devices, otherwise, Windows may not restart correctly.
·        Click Start and click Run. Type regedit and click OK. The Registry Editor window will open.
·        Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USB.
·        Highlight and delete all the VID_…. entries.
3.      Note that you will need the account permissions to delete the VID_entries. Follow the steps below:
  • Right-click the key to be deleted, and then click Permissions. The VID_… Permissions window will open.
  • With Everyone highlighted in the Group or User name section, select Full Control in the Permissions section.
  • Click Apply, and then click OK.
4.      Turn off the computer.
Reconnect the USB device to the computer system: ==
  • With the computer system turned off, reconnect the USB hub to the USB port.
  • Restart the computer.
  • A New Hardware Detected window should open and reload the drivers.
9. Virus/Trojan Infection

Since virus infection can be a real source for the USB device recognition failure, check your system for potential infection with virus/spyware/malware/adware. Note that some malware utilities intentionally hit the USB connection to decrease the user ability for the computer recovery.

10. Defective USB device

The last, but not the least, reason might be in the USB device itself. To verify its performance, check its recognition on another computer.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Create Funny Photo Effects at Photo505

Photo505 gives you more capabilities to create funny photo effects based on your own pictures. The service is absolutely free, does not require registration, and provides 98 different high-quality templates (as of today). You do not have to break your head or stress your mind looking for the way to create non-standard birthday card or wedding poster. No image editing experience is needed to use the site.

Access Website: http://www.photo505.com/

I have prepared several examples just to show you the site capabilities. Note that playing with your images, turn of the head, and exact are cut for processing, will give better and much more amazing results. But based on these examples, you can see what you can do in less than 10 minutes.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

If you like Photo505, you might want to review more services like that:
  1. Photofunia.
  2. Deefunia.
  3. Dumpr.
  4. FunPhotobox.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Find a Better Bank or Credit Union!

Worldwide economy is tough nowadays. Many people are unemployed, other were forced to take salary cuts to decrease companies layoffs. In this situation, you might cut your regular expenses, otherwise you would never think about. Do you know that you might be paying extra fees for keeping your checking and other accounts in your bank? That is not much, but your financial situation might demand savings here as well.

May be, other banks at your geographical location could provide you the same (and even better) benefits, while saving you money on various fees and account maintenance? You do not need call or perform Internet searches to compare the available offerings. FindABetterBank is the only page you need to explore to get objective features comparison. Service is free, and no registration is needed to use it.

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FindABetterBank is a free, unbiased comparison tool to help you find a new primary bank or credit union (i.e., the bank you use to make direct deposits and to pay bills). With FindABetterBank, you can compare local banks and credit unions based on the following features:
  • Where you're located. You tell us the zip code where you want to search and we'll show you account information from the banks and credit unions nearby.
  • Features you need. Banks "bundle" a lot of different features into their various checking account offerings. Simply specify which features you "must have" and we'll only show you accounts that have these features.
  • How you use a bank. If you're the kind of person that withdraws money from any ATM, we'll show you options that include ATM fee rebates. If you maintain balances near $0, we'll show you checking accounts with the most features you need for the lowest fees.
Note that at the moment the service is limited to the US banks only.

Video Presentation:

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