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  • Jay Versluis 3:21 pm on December 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Windows ( 19 )

    How to change your DNS Servers in Windows 

    DNS is a service that translates a domain name into a numeric IP so that one computer can talk to another. We deal with it all the time, but most mere mortals are not aware of their importance. In this article I’d like to show you how to change your computer’s DNS entries in Windows.

     

    Why change DNS Servers?

    In a nutshell, if all works well on your system, perhaps you don’t need to tweak those settings. However, if you can consistently see some websites but not others, or you get weird intermittent connection problems, then your DNS entires may be querying servers that are not as “hot” as others.

    Faster DNS Servers can provide quicker answers, resulting in faster results when browsing.

    When the IP address of a domain changes, it takes a while for this change to propagate through the world. Some servers know changes quicker than others. Some servers may not see new data at all for several days.

    ISPs and corporate networks usually provide their own DNS Servers, but it’s never clear how good they are. Google and OpenDNS provide very fast and free services which usually outperform those provided by your ISP or corporate network.

     

    Change DNS Servers in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

    It’s not easy to find this hidden option, but the good news is this works on all flavours of Windows.

    Search for “Network and Sharing Center” which will bring up a window that lets you choose the option “Change adaptor settings”. This will bring up the list of networks, one of which is likely connected to the internet.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 15.15.01

     

    In my case it’s a LAN connection, but it could also be a WiFi connection. Right-click the appropriate one and choose Properties.

    The next window looks rather scary and isn’t very intuitive for humans. Scour the list for something that relates to Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) as highlighted here:

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 14.10.08

    Select this item and click Properties. Another scary window opens. This one has two parts on the General Tab, and it’s the lower one about DNS that we’re interested in (the top part is for obtaining an IP address – let’s leave it alone).

    The default is “Obtain DNS Server automatically” which means we have no idea who is being queried. Instead, select “Use the following DNS server addresses” and add both DNS Servers of your choice. In this screenshot I’m using Google’s DNS:

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 14.11.25

    As soon as you hit OK the changes will be in effect. You can close all other windows we opened during the course of this setup.

     

    Popular DNS Servers

    Google’s DNS Servers are:

    • 8.8.8.8
    • 8.8.4.4

    The OpenDNS Servers are:

    • 208.67.220.220
    • 208.67.222.222

    There are many other free and premium DNS Servers you can use. Search for “free dns servers” and see lists like these: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/tipstricks/a/free-public-dns-servers.htm

    Have fun 😉





     
  • Jay Versluis 4:17 pm on December 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Windows ( 19 )

    How to boot Windows into Desktop Mode, bypassing the Metro Start Screen 

    I’ve just installed the Windows 10 Technical Preview on my Samsung NC10. During the installation I was offered to transfer my settings from another PC, so I chose my Surface Pro running Windows 8.1.

    All settings were copied truthfully, including the fact that Windows boots up with the Metro Start Screen. It’s not what I had expected, mainly because my other Windows 10 installations don’t do this. So how do we change this behaviour?

    It’s very simple, let me show you how. This works on both Windows 8.1 and the Windows 10 Tech Preview.

    Enter Desktop Mode, then right-click the Task Bar at the bottom of the screen. Anywhere will do, as long as it’s not over an icon. Select Properties, then choose the Navigation tab at the top. You’ll see something like this:

    Screenshot (85)

    Tick the box that says “When I sign in, go to the Desktop instead of the Start Screen”. Windows may sign you out on this occasion, and when you’re signed in you’ll boot straight into Desktop mode.

    Windows 10 Start Menu

    New in Windows 10 is the Start Menu, as seen from Windows 95 to Windows 7. Microsoft have brought it back in Windows 10, but its use is optional. The Start Menu is enabled on new installations by default, but since I had copied all settings from a Windows 8.1 it was disabled.

    To bring it back, choose the Start Menu tab and tick the top box that reads “Use the Start Menu instead of the Start Screen”.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 16.13.05

    Don’t look for this option in Windows 8 – it’s only available in Windows 10.





     
    • Larry Swiger 2:23 pm on August 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      why do I have to log into my hotmail Account before the start screen? can i turn this off? My family would like to use the computer also!

      • Jay Versluis 6:26 pm on August 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Larry, you can indeed: search for ‘accounts’ and you’ll find a section called ‘Your Account Settings’. Select it and you’ll find several options, one of which is ‘Sign-in Options’. You can enable logging on with a PIN number or an image instead of your Hotmail password.

        Under the ‘Your Account’ section you can disconnect your Hotmail (Microsoft Account) if you wish.

    • Mark 12:03 am on August 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I did a clean Windows 10 Pro install and my taskbar and start menu properties do not have the options you have shown. Navigation only has “Corner Navigation” replace command prompt choice. No Start Menu tab.

      • Jay Versluis 5:22 pm on August 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Maybe this option only existed in the Preview, perhaps they’ve moved it elsewhere in the release. I’m still waiting for mine to come through.

    • Santiago (@SantiagoWrds) 10:34 pm on January 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      System > Tablet Mode > When I Sign In > Go To The Desktop…

  • Jay Versluis 11:10 am on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Windows ( 19 )

    How to restart Windows via RDP 

    Windows IconWhen you’re connected via RDP to a remote Windows machine, the Restart and Shutdown options are not there. Instead they’ve been replaced with only a lonely disconnect option to end your session.

    To restart or shutdown your remote machine we’ll have to use the command line’s shutdown command. Here’s how.

     

    At the Command Prompt (searching usually brings it right up) type

    shutdown /r /t 0

    This will restart Windows. /r means “restart”, and /t specifies the time in seconds (zero in our case).

    If you’d like to shutdown the machine instead, type

    shutdown /s

     





     
  • Jay Versluis 10:27 am on October 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Windows ( 19 )

    How to auto-start programmes in Windows 

    Windows7

    Remember the humble Autostart folder in Windows 3.1? You could simply add shortcuts to your favourite “apps” or documents to it which would automatically launch when Windows started. Except we didn’t call them “apps” in those days.

    It’s still possible to use this handy feature in Windows XP, Windows 7 and even Windows 8.1 – however the way to accomplish the same goal has changed slightly over the years.

    In this article I’ll show you how to do it. Before we start, have a shortcut to the programme in question ready on your Desktop. We’ll drag it into the appropriate folder in a moment.

     

    Windows XP

    • right-click START, then select EXPLORE
    • double-click Programs, revealing several shortcuts and a Startup Folder
    • double-click Startup
    • drag your shortcut into this folder

    The next time you restart Windows XP, your shortcut will be executed, starting the programme. Likewise, if you’d like to remove something from the auto-start routine, simply remove the shortcut from this folder. Happiness.

    PS: Windows XP has had its day and is no longer supported since April 2014.

     

    Windows 7

    Very similar to Windows XP (see the animated gif at the top for a demonstration):

    • click START, then select All Programs
    • find the Startup folder and right-click it
    • a new window will open up
    • drag your shortcut into it

    Next time you start Windows 7 your “app” will be started automagically. Remove the shortcut if you no longer need it to prevent it from being launched on startup.

     

    Windows 8.1

    Things have drastically changed in Windows 8.1, but with a bit of finesse we can get there just the same:

    • open Internet Explorer (not a joke)
    • type the following into the URL bar shell:startup
    • a new Explorer window opens up
    • drag your shortcut into it

    And again, if you no longer need it, simply remove the shortcut from that folder. This also works on Windows 8.

     

    Further Reading





     
    • cheesypt 6:45 am on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      on Windows 8.1, you say “a new Explorer window opens up”
      I just got thrown into Bing search

      • Jay Versluis 7:01 am on November 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Very good point cheesypt, there was a colon missing. Try it again with
        shell:startup
        I’ve corrected the article.

    • Alexander Zonov 2:56 am on January 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You can use standart windows explorer for that too http://take.ms/I54G6

      • Jay Versluis 4:51 pm on January 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Excellent, thanks for the tip Alexander!

  • Jay Versluis 10:18 am on September 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Categories: How To, Windows ( 29 )

    What are the credentials to your AirPort Time Capsule 

    AIrPort Time Capsule

    There is something I keep forgetting time and time again: the credentials to my AirPort Time Capsule. It serves as my router, Time Machine Backup disk and even as shared storage for internal use, thanks to an attached USB drive.

    All our Macs connect to both drives automatically and without fail – but every once in a while we want to access something on the shared drive, either via Windows or another app like GoodReader. And every time I forget what those credentials are – particularly the user name.

    Because there just isn’t a dialogue to set it up.

    The password is fairly obvious because it’s something you’ve added when you set the device up. Chances are you can remember it. You can even reset it by pressing the reset button at the back of the device for one second – but not longer, or it’ll reset to factory settings). AirPort Utility will help guide you through this.

    But the user name? What is it? Something generic maybe? The name of the attached drive? Steve Job’s daughter?

    Turns out there isn’t one. Put anything you like. Seriously. I know it’s weird, and it’s just not how a computer brain works. The user name can’t just be arbitrary – but on Time Capsule it is. So use any user name you like.

    It doesn’t matter what as long as you put something into that field. Your uncle’s boyfriend’s pet name, or the day of the week. Anything. Just for heaven’s sake don’t leave it blank or the universe as we know it will seize to exist in a moment’s notice.

    But I guess nobody tells you this in the shiny brochure.

    And in case I forget how to connect those drives in Windows, here’s a quick reminder for completion:

     

    Connecting to the Time Capsule drives (Windows)

    Technically you can connect to the Time Capsule drives via two protocols: Samba and AFP. The latter however is only used on Apple computers. So with Windows and Linux, Samba it is.

    In Windows we can map a network drive by heading over to the

    • Windows Explorer
    • find My Computer (Windows 7)
    • or This PC (Windows 8.1)
    • select Map Network drive at the top of the window

    This will bring up a dialogue that shows a drive letter drop down and asks for a server path:

    Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 20.27.51

    The browse option won’t find your Time Capsule – instead find the IP address on your network (usually it’s 10.0.1.1, but AirPort Utility will verify this for you in the “LAN IP” field). Add it into the path/folder field like this:

     

    \\10.0.1.1\drivename

     

    Two backslashes, followed by your IP address, followed by your drive name. If you don’t specify a drive name the operation will fail. If your drive name has spaces (like “Shared Data”) then just write them out – no need to escape them. CapItaLisAtiON is important here though.

    Hit finish and your drive should be accessible.

    To find your drive names, consult your friend the AirPort Utility. GoodReader on iOS will find those names automatically – but Windows does not.

    And that’s that: another puzzle solved. There is no user name when accessing a Time Capsule drive.





     
  • Jay Versluis 4:15 pm on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: PHP, Windows ( 26 )

    How to test if your server is running Windows from PHP 

    If we’re executing shell commands via PHP we need to know if the server is running Windows or Linux. Thanks to a magic constant in PHP we can find out like this:

    echo PHP_OS;
    

    This will give us a single value like

    • Linux
    • Darwin
    • Windows
    • WINNT

    With that info at hand, we can write a function that delivers a boolean result (courtesy of the PHP manual):

    if (strtoupper(substr(PHP_OS, 0, 3)) === 'WIN') {
        echo 'This server is running Windows!';
    } else {
        echo 'This server is NOT running Windows!';
    }
    

    This takes the output of PHP_OS and looks at the first three characters turned into upper case. If those are identical to WIN it’s Windows – and if not we assume it’s a Linux flavour.

    If you need a more detailed information about your environment consider using php_uname():

    echo php_uname();
    

    This will give you the above, plus server name, kernel version, release and local server time.





     
  • Jay Versluis 12:04 pm on December 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Bookmarks, Windows ( 18 )

    How to boot Surface Pro from an external Recovery Partition





     
  • Jay Versluis 12:02 pm on December 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: Bookmarks, Windows ( 18 )

    How to create a USB Recovery Drive in Windows 8





     
  • Jay Versluis 5:14 pm on December 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Categories: How To, Windows ( 29 )

    Workaround: Parallels Desktop is not seeing my DVD Drive in Mountain Lion 

    Today I wanted to install Windows 7 using Parallels Desktop 7 on my Mac, but sadly I always got an error message every time I tried. It was saying it could not connect to my DVD drive – which clearly my Mac could.

    Doing some research it turns out that several people had this problem, however I didn’t understand the instructions given by Parallels very well. Getting frustrated I decided to write my own, and give you some pointers where else to look for help.

    For this scenario I’m using a DVD copy of Windows 7 Home Premium and the latest version of Parallels Desktop 7.0.15107. Parallels Desktop 8 is already out but I’ve decided not to upgrade at this point.

    (More …)





     
    • Tim 5:56 pm on August 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you so much – this is an amazingly helpful article! Great work – Really clear and a much better job than Parallels code word instructions!

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