The PC Tech Guy's Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Support [good] developers!

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[alternative title: Support your fellow dev! They're humans just like you and me!]

Nothing much, I know, I haven't posted in eons - I haven't been reviewing much software from GOTD lately. But, I did get a new computer, and naturally I wanted to transfer some of the GOTD software I had on my old computer. Now, the thing about GOTD software is that it can only be activated on the day it is given away. However, some software will work past their GOTD period. Obviously, I am not going to demand the developers to help me activate their software on my new computer.

There is one particular software that I have in my "essential toolkit of must-have programs" (which I may someday develop fully), which is Process Lasso. (I do have a post about it here.) However, I noted that I was using the PRO features much more on my new machine than I did on my old one, including some of the "tweaking" options, which is for people who know what they are doing. ;) I didn't expect too much of the developer of Process Lasso, but instead, he was very happy to help.

I'm simply saying, please DO support developers of great software -- especially those who take the time to provide free software! I also highly consider that you take a peek at Process Lasso -- it is a free program, with the "PRO" features being extra enhancements and control over processes. For everyone else, the free part of Process Lasso is sufficient, which helps prevent system lockups.
Sunday, October 9, 2011

A First Look - Windows 8 - Developer Preview

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It has been almost a year ago from the time Microsoft released Windows 7. Only a few weeks ago has the company released their developer version of their newest Windows OS -- this time with a redesigned, tablet-friendly, Start menu. This new user interface is called "Metro," similar to Windows Aero which defined the glassy windows and transitions, along with Flip 3D and other various eye candy. Although Windows Aero was introduced in Windows Vista, Windows 7 added some very useful features, such as Aero Snap. This improvement, along with the redesigned taskbar and jumplists, were to make Windows 7 more tablet-friendly. The new Metro UI in Windows 8 completes what Windows 7 lacks - a completely tablet-friendly design, separate from the traditional desktop, complete with Metro apps - apps designed to run on tablets. (Although they work quite well if you don't have one, either.)

In today's First Look, we will review the primary enhancement that the Windows Developer Preview has to offer - the Metro UI. Although there are at least 300 other enhancements, such as a free, included antivirus program (Windows Defender), this review will not cover such stuff, primarily because these new enhancements are in the works, and are much more likely to change. (Psst: Looking for the download? It's at the bottom of this review.)

The first thing you will notice when you boot up Windows 8 is that you have a lock screen, similar to a smartphone lock screen. Simply drag it up, double click it, or press any key to login.

The Metro UI

The Start Menu

After logging in, you will be presented with the Start menu - yes, that is the new Start menu. If you're looking for the Desktop, simply click it. However, contrary to what most might think, the Desktop code is not loaded until you decide to open the Desktop! If you happen to use Windows 8 on a tablet, you may never use the Desktop - if so, then it isn't loaded, leaving more system resources for the Metro Apps.

After you have opened an app, it may display some extra information about the app upon the next time you open the Start menu. For example, the News app will show various headlines after you have added some feeds to it. Games may tell you about your current progress or awards you have acquired so far.

You can access the Start menu at any time by moving your mouse all the way to the bottom left corner of your screen, from any program. You can also use this to check the time, battery life, network status, and adjust a few settings - for example, clicking the "Settings" submenu brings up options such as volume control, network, notifications, or to shutdown/restart/sleep, all without ever having to remove focus from the current program.

Metro apps

The Metro apps run at full screen, with a splash image a moment before it's opened. Although some of them appear to be similar to regular programs we use, such as Internet Explorer, the Metro version has a much-modified UI. For example, this image below shows the minimal UI elements, displayed at the bottom.

Despite the minimalistic look, this Internet Explorer app has not "lost" any features. (It in fact takes on the settings that can be set in the traditional Internet Explorer.) You can create and switch between tabs via right-clicking. Right-clicking will also show options in all the other apps.

There are two other useful features to note about Metro Apps - for one, you can snap them to the sides of another app (including the desktop). However, it isn't Aero snap, where you would have two windows split in half - instead, one app has more screen real estate, while the other sits on the right side. This can be useful, such as keeping an eye on a news feed or stocks, while doing some work/playing a game.

The Labyrinth and News app, with the News app "snapped" to the right.

To snap an app, simply move and hold your cursor toward the left edge of the screen. If another app is running, a little preview window of it will appear. Then, simply click and drag the app to the left or right of the current app.

The second useful feature is the quick switch - Simply hold the Windows key while pressing the Tab key to quickly switch between apps.


The Metro user interface is extremely easy to use. I personally never thought that Microsoft would have this - they're doing a very good job in making the user experience a much easier, time-saving experience. In addition, the new UI brings the power of Windows to the tablet, with tablet-designed apps. Before, Microsoft attempted to cram tablet features into the Windows desktop - now, it is completely independent of it, allowing for a complete, tablet-friendly experience, without scrapping the power of the Windows operating system.

Want to see for yourself?

The Microsoft Developer Network has provided three different variations of Windows Developer Preview that you may download and use for free. Please see their website for details and downloads.
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Program Review: HyperCam 3

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Being a regular GAOTD user, I got HyperCam 3 for free today. Since I've used HyperCam 2 in my how-to videos, I thought HyperCam 3 will now help me to record games, because HyperCam 2 lagged up when recording at even 10 frames per second...


The installation process is standard, and has no toolbar add-ons and other junk. However, it does not provide a place to put your registration key, so you'll have to remember to do this when you start the program.

A first look

Upon starting the program, you get a slimmed-down GUI, especially if you came from HyperCam 2.

But don't worry, simply click "Options," and you'll get all your options, with much similarity to HyperCam 2. However, it doesn't have the "auto-select" compressor function, but leaving it at the set default should be just fine if you've never changed this.

You can easily select a region or window with the buttons above, and enter in values for exact ratios.

If you set the region to flash while recording, it's not going to flash like it did in HyperCam 2. Despite this, it isn't going to lag up and get in your videos, even though it appears to do so.

What's also nice is there is now a toolbar, allowing you to easily pause or stop a recording without having to remember the shortcut keys to press.


One thing I was never able to do with HyperCam 2 was to record at 30 FPS (frames per second). I was able to max out at 20 FPS before HyperCam complained about too high of a framerate. I was able to successfully record at 30 FPS when doing a standard test of it, without having a resource-intensive Direct3D game running. So, I tested it out on Minecraft. The result was that it started lagging my game--and my computer. At least it didn't complain about a high framerate, so I am able to record, but to record games in high quality, I guess I'll have to use something like Fraps to record those.


HyperCam 3 comes with a built-in video editor. It's an extremely stripped-down version of the most basic editor you can get. It has sound adjustment and basic trimming tools, but it is not cutting-edge, as the website claims. If it had frame-accurate trimming, then maybe it would be useful, but I prefer not to bother with it. However, it might be useful to those who make computer tutorials and don't need to do a substantial amount of editing.

By the way, I use Windows Movie Maker to edit my videos (and you can do all sorts of stuff with it, it's not just for simple editing), so I look for screen recorders that save videos in a format compatible with Windows. However, this was easy for me in HyperCam, since I can choose what encoder to use.

Other features and tips

There is a screen notes feature that is present, but since I've never used screen notes, I don't think I can give an opinion on it. I just simply add annotations to my videos during editing.

Even though HyperCam 3 is paid software, you only get a small watermark in the top-left corner on your videos. And, if it was like HyperCam 2's watermark (although HyperCam 2 is now free), it gets smaller if you select a bigger region.

One particular feature I like about HyperCam 3 is the ability to backup your license key. Although it could be just a text file disguised under a proprietary file extension, the fact that it's there tells you that the developers were keeping in mind that something could happen to your computer in which you would need to reinstall the program.

Alternatives (that I know of)


At the price of $30, HyperCam 3 boasts some huge advancements over HyperCam 2. It also records sound well (unless you're lagged out), and the ability to choose the encoders you have on your computer make it compatible for any editing program you choose. Although I'd like to see other features, such as zooming-in/out while recording, I give it a thumbs-up, especially if you have a sluggish computer and want to record at 30 FPS. I'd highly prefer it than using other screen recorders, such as Camstudio, which had a knack of recording the "busy" state of my mouse, despite whatever state it was in.

However, if you care less about the framerate, and want to get rid of the watermark without having to pay, then I'd suggest you can go for the freeware alternative HyperCam 2.
Friday, May 13, 2011

Program Review - Process Lasso

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After I upgraded the RAM in my computer, I expected a big performance boost. Well, I got a substantial amount of speed, but my computer was still a bit sluggish. I later found out that my processor was being used nearly 70-100% of the time. Upgrading the processor isn't nearly as easy as upgrading most other hardware parts, so that was out of the question. Then, I stumbled across Process Lasso in a Give Away of the Day.

Process Lasso improves performance by lowering the priorities of background processes. Other similar programs would attempt to raise the priority of the foreground process, which could lead to CPU lockups. Process Lasso itself uses very little CPU usage, and even less if you close the GUI completely. It has a service which does all the detecting and priority setting.

Process Lasso's UI appears to be a little techie-like. And it is, for those users who want to see what's going on. But, you don't need to use this at all - Process Lasso can do its work without having to click a button. In other words - you can close this geeky window without fear of shutting down the program.

As you use your computer, Process Lasso will quickly restrain a program if it decides to eat up the CPU. It is reset back to its original priority when it no longer is attempting to hog up all the processor. That's all there is to it - it is pretty much a set-it-and-forget-it type program

I use Process Lasso and recommend it. Even still, I have lockups, as Process Lasso can't do too much to processes. Nonetheless, Process Lasso helps Windows organize its processes, leading to better system performance overall.

P.S. The only surefire way to restrain a program is by terminating it. However, we can't do this to essential processes, and we don't want our browser window closed just because we switched to Microsoft Word.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stale content

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I would believe, and admit that my only stale content is my podcast. My blog was at one time stale as well. I have had more time to do some updating,and I hope to publish a podcast this weekend.

If you wish to make your own website,the best way to get many visitors is by simply keeping your website up to date. The Internet is filled with many "cobweb" sites, sites that were started long ago, but were never maintained. Even a small website like mine takes work to keep it fresh.

Not only does a fresh website look more inviting because it's constantly being updated, but Google likes these websites as well. I was able to climb up to the 3rd or 4th result when doing a Google search on "The PC Tech Guy."(Actually, now I'm the first result. WOO-HOO!) So, the moral is: dedication + fresh content + updates = success (And your success is whatever your goal is, whether it is being on top in Google results, or getting visitors daily.)
Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Podcasts and live commenting

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I really thought about having a podcast where people can call in. Although I can set it up, I think it would be a little too early, being that I only have one podcast right now, and it wouldn't be worth my time to set up, anyways.

Instead, I will still have live podcasting, but you will be able to chat - yes, in real time, as I speak. Obviously, it's easier to chat from your computer than it is to call in... well, to an extent.

I plan to implement this after I get at least another podcast done - I also need to create the page, and maybe get a few others to help with the live commenting.


As with Twitter, I will be using it (as I have posted last time) as my current status. And... yeah, that's what I'm going to use it for. I don't know about the replying and that type of stuff; if you seek my reply, post it on my website. Or contact me. (Just to let potential followers know if they ask me a question via Twitter.)
Saturday, April 30, 2011

Program Review - Soluto

I used to use a program called Startup Delayer, that which... well, delayed startup programs. I used it to help lessen the boot-up time of my computer, but still have all those programs ready and waiting. For example, I use some of the Logitech hotkeys, but not usually right when my computer starts up. It was okay, although I had to search up a lot of the things that startup automatically to see if they were essential or not.

I could go into the pros and cons of that (one of them being that I had to set a delay time for each one I wanted), but I then heard of a program called Soluto. Although still in beta, it has been featured in an awards contest (that I'm too lazy to find out myself), and can only do one thing right now. But, it does that one thing very well.

Soluto first needs to analyze what boots up the next time you restart your computer after installing it. This way, it doesn't rely on scanning common registry entries or the 'startup' folder on your hard drive. It then displays them in 3 categories: those that should be delayed, or better yet, 'paused' (disabled) from startup, those that can be delayed or paused, but only if you know what you're doing, and those that it yet cannot disable or delay. They are displayed with those that take longer to startup being wider than those that don't. And, when you mouse over them, you can see the whole list. It's very intuitive, although those who like using the keyboard to navigate may have some trouble...

Along with the categorization, you can see the details of what the program runs, a description of it (or if there is none, you can submit your own), and the recommendations for it. You also get a pie chart of those who pause, delay, or keep the program in the boot sequence, as well as the percentage of those who actually have the program in the first place. You'll rarely have to Google another random program name to see what it does anymore!

It also has a one-click reporting tool, accessible via right-clicking the taskbar icon. For intance, you can report it when "your PC frustrated you!" It displays and sends a report of the possible applications that could have caused this "frustration." It also allows you to launch the apps you have 'paused' or 'delayed' (if they have not yet been launched.) Since it collects anonymous data on its own periodically (for instance, what choices you made for your startup items), you can easily disable its data collection, as well as having it exit right after boot.

Its history tab shows a chart of how your computer boot-up times were, and when you installed or uninstalled certain updates and programs. This, however, isn't just Soluto's monitoring - Windows logs these events as well, and it is viewable in Windows 7 (via the "Reliablity" tool, if I remember correctly). You can see the full picture, or quickly zoom into a specific time period. This may be useful for finding out why your computer has suddenly slowed down - it could've been due to a new program you installed.

Since Soluto is made for those who aren't so computer literate as well, I highly recommend this, even if your computer runs OK. I tested it out a bit before putting it on my computer - its service, which runs in the background, occasionally eats up some CPU time, but it's brief, and hopefully this will be tuned down when future updates to this (beta) program come out. I especially recommend this, however, if you have an old computer, like me, as you'll probably see an extra 2 minutes shaved off of your computer's boot-up time.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ideas - website design, Live content?

I have talked a little about having Live podcasts using TalkShoe. And I've been thinking - do I really need to do a live podcast? Is it really worth it? Well, I know it isn't right now, which is why I don't have any live podcasts. I do use it, however, to host my podcasts.

Besides live content, what ideas do you have for my website? I'm now in the midst of redesigning my website (again), but I'm going to need some ideas. Would you like the navigation bar on the left, top, or right? Should I have a forum? Would you like to create and edit some documents via a wiki? Since this website isn't for myself, I need your input on how'd you like to see things.
Monday, April 25, 2011


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Several weeks ago, I was talking to another website author and giving him feedback on his website. He had some blog-like "community," which, when he explained it to me, didn't make much sense. I found out that he does know what a forum is, but I decided to post my email anyways, just for those who don't know (and you can link them to this post ;)

A forum is a online discussion place, but the word dates back to Roman times, as a "forum" in Rome would be a place where people would get together and talk. Naturally, people get together and talk in an online form.
A Forum can somewhat be related to a blog, but not quite. First, you have Categories. For instance, on my website, you can see the Support category, Questions category, and Stories category. Within each are threads, or topics. You can start a new thread by clicking Add Topic, New Thread, Ask a Question, or such a similar button. To relate to a blog, this would be the blog post. For example, let's say a person is having a problem getting Internet Explorer 8 installed. He adds a new topic, describing his problem. He gives it a title, something like "Cannot install IE 8: not supported service pack." Later, other people can give him comments, suggestions, or ask other questions by "replying" to his topic. The relation to a blog is that the "replies" are "comments" to a blog post. For our example, I may ask what Operating System and service pack he has, if he had not provided that in his "Topic starter" (first post).
He eventually replies, then I can reply with a set of solutions for him to try, in which he would reply back. Of course, other people can help out too, giving their suggestions, and asking other questions. This can also be related to "open" email, or as a "message board."
Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter - What happened?

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Oh no, why have I been inactive for... a few months, it seems? Well, one thing could be that I was busier than I thought I would be. Another is that in the breaks of the busy-ness (business just wouldn't fit...) I've either forgot about my blog, or I was doing something else. Also, I've got this jarring back pain, I have no idea where I got it from...

But I still have something for you guys, but I'm going to post it tomorrow. (For sure!) As for today, enjoy your Easter celebration of the Lord's Resurrection!

<MPO> And as a side note: who would rename an Easter egg hunt to "Spring spheres?" I'm sorry, but that sounds... really... um, awful. But of course, that's the government we have now... </MPO>
Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Yes, it's still Christmas. Remember the 12 days of Christmas? No, it's not just a song. What about Epiphany, when the three kings visit Jesus? (That's when it ends.)

Well, I believe I'm done for my super-surge of website editing. Not saying that I won't update it. I've done some massive editing of a lot of the pages on there. I believe my website's purpose is clearer; what do you think?

I'm going to focus more on my blog and podcast. These are actually the ones I left, while keeping my website active... it should be the other way around... but still, I'm keeping it active.

Speaking about active, didn't the website say something about "The Community?" Okay, I know that sounds like a stupid name for a forum, but if you have a better name that computer noobs can recognize, I'm sticking with it. Anyways, The Community is now another way not to just keep the website active, but another way for others to get questions answered and problems solved. It's also a way for those other computer techs (PC, Mac, or Linux... Blackberry, Android, iPod, Windows phone... I'll allow any techs in!) to come in and give their knowledge. After all, as much as I know, I still learn.

And speaking of learning... I just solved a problem a few days ago that I had for months! And it wasn't just an annoyance, it prevented me from doing a power-saving feature on my computer... I'll tell you all about it in my podcast. I usually talk about my latest computer problem-solves and projects, as I think you'll find those interesting (and I don't talk too techy when I do...).