Feb 25

No Date in Xplorer

If your Date Modified information in your file manager only shows day and month and not year, there’s a quick fix to get the year back. This seems to affect Windows Explorer, the file manager I use xplorer2 and also the date display in my email client Eudora. It may also affect MS Outlook but I can’t confirm this as I don’t use it.

You won’t find a fix in the Options for these programs as they all pull the date information from the Date and Time format settings for your PC. In Windows 7, you’ll have to change the Short Date display to show the year and this will be then used in the other programs. It must have been modified by someone in the past to show only day and month. You can modify  the Short Date format by going to the Start button, Control Panel, Region and Language and on the Format tab, change the Short Date to include the year.

No date in Xplorer2

You can set up the Short Date display just as you want it by going to the Additional settings button shown on the image above. Once you apply it, that date format including the year will show up in your date information in your file manager.

Feb 18

If you use Google Calendar to plan your appointments, etc., you’ll know that scheduling anything more than 6 months ahead takes time as there isn’t a button along the top to switch to Year View. Well in fact, there is a way to get to Year View but it’s hidden away at the moment. Here’s how to enable it.

Google Calendar1

Open Google Calendar and click the little green flask icon as highlighted above. This will bring up a list of experimental features and on it you’ll find Year View – although why it’s experimental I’ve no idea. Enable it, and try other features if you like. I’ve enabled Jump to Date as well. When you return to the calendar view, these features are shown in a new column on the right. Now click Go on Year View and you’ll get the full year on screen so you can quickly click straight through to any day on the year of your choice to schedule an event.

By the way, if you close the right column by clicking the button at the top right of the column, you’ll have to re-enable the features again as before. But you can toggle the column on and off by clicking anywhere on the vertical blue bar separating it from the calendar.

Doubtless, Year View will have a button along the top in a future update – I can’t understand why it’s not there already.

Feb 17

The iPod Touch is one of the main players in the personal media player (PMP) market although audiophiles will attest to the superior sound quality of the Cowon PMPs. With the inevitable introduction of cameras and the excellent Retina display, the iPod Touch 4 seems set to continue dominating the PMP market. But there are other excellent PMPs out there running the Android OS.

I’ve had my trusty old Samsung mp3 player for some years now and came very close to buying an iPod Touch 4 last year. I don’t really need a smartphone yet. I can’t justify the monthly contract and will stick with my PAYG LG Cookie for a while yet. I was waiting for an iPod Touch with a camera but several things made me hesitate from rushing out to the store. I’d never owned an Apple product and although there are some benefits in terms of device security and control not to mention style, I just don’t like the Apple ‘walled-garden’ approach. I don’t want too much control over my PMP, I want to control what goes on it. And I don’t fancy jailbreaking either. This together with the major advance of the Android OS in 2010 prompted me to look at Android based PMPs. I was sure of this when I saw a friend’s smartphone with the HTC Sense UI, and running the fabulous Google Sky Map app for Android.

So what PMPs are available with Android OS? I’ve picked out a selection here and listed the main specs. Have a look on the manufacturer’s websites for full details.

Cowon D3 plenue

Cowon D3

3.7 inch AMOLED display but no camera. Android 2.1 but doesn’t have GPS and orientation sensors for Google Sky Map. But for audiophiles, this may be the one to go for. A little pricey though at £279 for the 32GB version.

Archos 32 and 43


3.2 and 4.3 inch resistive displays, 2MP camera. Android 2.2. No GPS. The Archos 32 (8GB) is currently £112 on Amazon while the Archos 43 (16GB) is £157.

Full review of the Archos 43 here.

Samsung Galaxy Player 50

Samsung Galaxy 50

3.2 inch screen, 2MP camera. Android 2.2. GPS, accelerometer sensor and digital compass. I’ve seen a few negative reviews though. The Samsung Galaxy Player 50 (16GB) is currently £157 on Amazon.

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 and 5.0

The WiFi 4.0 has a 4 inch screen and the WiFi 5.0 has a 5 inch screen. 3.2MP camera. Android 2.2. These models have just been announced this week at Mobile World Congress and pricing isn’t available yet (I’ll update this when available).

Quick preview of the Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 here.

So in summary, the Cowon has no camera and the Cowon and Archos devices don’t have GPS, etc. so can’t run Google Sky Map. The Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 and 5.0 are now the frontrunners for me but won’t come to the UK market till late 2011. Can I wait that long and what will be released in the meantime? Once I make a decision, I’ll review the PMP I buy.

Which PMP do you have? Are you planning to buy one? Drop a comment below.

Feb 14


So you’ve registered your domain name and paid for web hosting and your blog or website is up and running. Great! But don’t forget to renew them when the time comes.

Very often you can set up your domain name and hosting to auto-renew which is a great idea. But if you haven’t updated your payment card details because you’ve missed that critical email alert, you may face losing your domain name – and risk someone else snapping it up before you get the chance to renew. Fail to renew your web hosting and your blog or website is taken down and your email comes to an abrupt halt. I know – it’s happened to me (twice).

I’ve missed the email to renew hosting on two occasions amidst my other emails.  I do monitor my website uptime with Montastic and knew the site was down. Initially, I just thought it was server maintenance which happens occasionally. Emails dried up. After several hours I logged in to my website control panel and discovered that no site was being hosted as the web hosting had expired. Thankfully on both occasions, after filling out the Contact Us form and responding promptly when they explained that hosting had expired, my site and emails were quickly reinstated after paying my renewal fee.

I vowed not to let it happen again. I’ve set up SMS reminders for domain name renewal and web hosting on Google Calendar. I’ve blogged about SMS reminders before and so far I’ve found the Google Calendar SMS reminders to be excellent. You can set up reminders years in advance on Google Calendar. I also have all events synced to Rainlendar my desktop calendar so I get a second nudge. I went for a reminder a week in advance so that for auto renewals I can check payment card details are up to date and for other sites I’ll just go ahead and renew.

How do you deal with domain and hosting renewal? Have you lost a prized domain name because you forgot to renew it? Drop a comment below.

Feb 12

Just a quick thought on political power and its abuse today. I don’t think many would dispute the view that political leaders cling on to power once they get it and, left unchecked, will usually long outstay their welcome. We’ve seen this recently in Tunisia and at present in Egypt as the former presidents finally get the message that they must move aside in favour of democratic reform. Many other countries, including for example Zimbabwe, are suffering under the dictats of leaders who just won’t let go of the levers of power. And democracies aren’t immune to this either. Certainly here in the UK we’ve had our share of leaders who have clung on to power for too long.

That’s why I’d like to see fledgling democracies and those advocating democratic reform to adopt fixed terms for their political leaders. I’m not a great lover of the US political system but I do think their policy of a maximum 2 terms of office for the President is a very sensible idea. Lets face it, if a leader can’t put in place his policies and define his legacy after 8 to 10 years then perhaps he should be stepping aside anyway.  No one is indispensible.

So if anyone from Egypt is reading this or indeed anyone who may be involved in a future fledgling democracy or campaigning for democratic reform, think very carefully about how long you want your leader to serve, and make quite sure that a fail-safe mechanism  is in place so they step down when the time comes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Drop a comment below.

Feb 10

dust in PC

Does your PC shut down for no apparent reason, then shut down again when you reboot? Is your machine becoming increasingly sluggish or are you experiencing unresponsive programs? There could be a number of causes but there’s one pretty simple procedure you can try and eliminate as the cause before you have to resort to a PC repair tech. Your machine may be overheating. This can be fatal for your CPU and your hard drive and can lead to an expensive repair and possible data loss so it needs to be tackled as soon as possible, or better still prevented. Simply open the PC case and see if there’s a thick layer of dust over all the components. This could be the cause of overheating and subsequent shutdowns as dust acts like a kind of blanket insulating all the electrics and preventing heat from escaping. If you have pets or a smoker in the house, or you live in a dusty environment, the likelihood of dust accumulation in your PC increases.

Okay, so you haven’t opened your PC case before… don’t panic it’s not too difficult. In fact, there’s literally thousands of guides online so I’ll just point out a couple of tips to guide you on your way. Google opening a PC case for lots more help in getting inside your machine.

First check your manual to ensure you’re not voiding your warranty by opening the case. Then it’s up to you whether you proceed.

Next if you haven’t done this before, doubtless there’s a horrendous clutter of cables going into the back of your PC. Switch off and unplug the PC. Take a photo of all the cabling with your digital camera to help you reconnect everything afterwards. You could also stick coloured labels on the cables and corresponding coloured dots on where they go on the back of the PC. Disconnect all the cables.

Put your PC box up on a table with the back facing you. To open and check for dust, you only really need remove one side of the case. Generally it’s the right side panel you have to remove to see everything inside. Check your manual to see how the panel comes off. Either there’s a couple of screws at the back holding it in place or it may be a screwless case with a lever possibly at the top middle of the side and which unclips to open the side panel.

Once you’ve opened it and if you’ve found a thick layer of dust over everything, you can remove the left side panel. Now you’ll need to get a can of compressed air from a local supplier and a face filter if you wish. To avoid getting dust everywhere, take the PC out to your back yard (obviously if it’s not raining) and carefully blow the air over the components. Don’t do this in the house! Don’t hold the compressed can too close to the components and be careful you don’t get showered in dust. Get upwind if it’s breezy outside.

Once you’ve blown the dust off all the components, you can brush any remaining lodged dust out with a soft clean artists brush. Then replace the side panels again on the table and finally plug all the cables back in again and reconnect to the power.

Reboot and see if the shutdown problem is resolved. If not then at least you’ve eliminated dust as the shutdown problem and you won’t have to pay a repair tech for that when he goes on to diagnose the problem.

If dust build-up was the problem, then obviously you’re going to have to repeat this procedure on a regular basis. Have a check again after say 3 months and see how things are.

Monitoring the temperature inside your PC

If you’ve opened up your PC and established that dust build-up is a real problem where you live, it would be well worth installing a temperature monitoring program to keep a constant check on the conditions inside your machine. One free program worth considering is SpeedFan. Among other things, this monitors the temperature of the CPU, the hard drive and the ambient temperature inside the computer.


It can be set to run on computer startup and can sound an alarm when preset temperatures are exceeded. SpeedFan also monitors the speed of your fans. Fans are obviously important in dissipating heat build-up in you PC. A build-up of dust can clog the fans so it’s worth monitoring they’re not slowing down. And obviously if some fans aren’t working at all and there’s no dust, you’ve probably found your overheating problem.

I’m very lucky that dust build-up in PCs isn’t a serious problem where I live in Scotland but listening to the Podnutz Daily computer repair podcast, it’s clearly a problem in many parts of the US and doubtless other parts of the world as well.

Have you experienced PC overheating? Any tips for us or stories? Drop a comment below.

Image credit: eurleif

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