Have you ever rebuilt a computer using OEM operating system discs only to be left with a dozen unknown devices in the device manager? 
This can often be a real pain, especially if you don’t want to have to take the PC apart, and remove each piece of hardware in order to ID it. However there are a few ways to get around this problem, one of which is to use Microsoft’s Windows Update site. Not only does this offer all the latest security updates, but it also contains driver updates as well. This has often helped me in the past to not only identify the device but to download the latest version of the driver. 
NB: To locate drivers using Microsoft Update, choose the custom search and not the express search, ensure you select any additional downloads from the ‘Hardware Updates’ category.
Failing that, Driver-Soft.com have an application called Driver Genius Professional which is also capable of locating that mysterious piece of hardwares drivers… 
Failing that, there is one last thing you can try, and thats to do it the manual way.. Each and every hardware device hidden dark inside the murky depths of your PC’s case carries important identification information in the form of a ‘Device ID Number’ and a ‘Vendor ID Number’. Both of which are easily accessible using the properties window in device manager. To get them, all you need to do is:
  1. load Device Manager
  2. Right click on the device in question 
  3. click properties 
  4. navigate to the Details tab. 

On that tab you should see a drop down box listing all the property’s of the card, select Hardware ID’s from the list and note down the ‘VEN_’ and ‘Dev_’ numbers. 

Once you have obtained this information you can then use the service offered by the PCI Database, the site essentially lists details for a huge number of vendors (hardware manufacturers) and devices in a searchable database. Click the link above to load the site and then enter the numbers after the VEN and Dev strings. 
So, for example here you have a hardware ID for an ethernet adapter:
Breaking this information string down, we can see that the vendor ID number is 10EC and the device is 8029.
A quick search using the PCI Database shows us that the vendor is Realtek, and the device ID shows the exact model number of the device in question. In this case it’s a Realtek RTL8028

So as you can see, with very little effort you can quite easily pin point the exact driver required without even picking up your tool kit!

Back in December 2008 I posted a link to a tutorial on how to create iPhone ringtones. Which worked well, as long as you had the patience to pin point the timings of a track. Well since then I have had to get a little bit more ‘technical’ with my ringtone creation. Mainly because of the music I was trying to clip.. So I thought it was about time I put another tutorial together, but this time a little bit more in depth, covering all the aspects of clipping using the wave display.

First of all your going to need some tools to attack the music file you want to convert. I have always sworn by Audacity for all my music work. Audacity is ‘freeware’ and available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Unix
Once you have downloaded Audacity you will need to download and install the library, I use the FFMpeg Library which is also available for WindowsMac OS X, Linux and Unix
Once you have all the tools downloaded, launch the Audacity editor. You will be presented with a new project window which looks similar to the one below (depending on OS)

Now, all you need to do is locate your MP3WavSound file through the built in menu system, or drag and drop it into the dark area in between the menu bar and status bar. Once it’s done loading the music file you should be presented with a window which looks like this (obviously this will differ for each sound file)

Using the built in menu bar you can play the track, and locate the section you want to clip. Remembering that most devices using 30 seconds of the clip for the tone. Once you have found the section you want click on the wave table where it starts, and drag you mouse whilst keeping an eye on the field under the ‘Length’ radio button until you have grabbed 30 seconds worth. You should notice the highlighted section will turn a slightly darker grey colour:

With the section highlighted, if you press the ‘Play’ button Audacity will play the section you have selected. If you are not happy with it you can move the highlighted section back and forth with your mouse until you find a section you like.

Once done simply click Edit > Cut in the menu bar, or ctrl + x on your windows keyboard (cmd + x on Mac) to cut out the section of track. Now click File > New to open a fresh project window and paste in your clipping. (Edit > Paste etc)

Check you have clipped the correct part using the play button, and once you are happy click File > Export. Give it a meaningful name and select a location for the file, in the format drop down box select “M4A (AAC) Files (FFmpeg)” and click ok.

Once the export has completed, locate the file and rename the extension from .m4a to .m4r.

Now open iTunes, select the ‘Ringtones’ sections and drag in your newly created .m4r file. All that’s left to do now is sync you iPhone, select the new file in the settings menu and your done.

So hopefully, you will never pay for a ringtone again :)

Soluto Logo
If you are experiencing speed issues with you machine, or would just like to give it a general service to improve performance then you could do much worse than Soluto. Soluto monitors your PCLaptop whilst it boots, and using an innovative time line based interface helps pin point what it is that’s making your PC boot like it’s burning coal. The interface is so simple to use, I don’t think anyone would have trouble with it. Since it’s recent release I have been using it as my first point of call for performance improvement requests from my customers. 
Once you have found the offending application, Soluto offers you the chance to delay it’s boot up and essentially move it to the end of the boot process. To aid your decision of what to do with the application Soluto queries it’s community database and returns simple easy to understand percentages of who did what. So not only does it explain what it is the application is doing, it suggests what you should do with it and backs it up with what over people do with it.
The Soluto client continues to run in the background once your machine has booted up, and monitorsreports on performance of the apps being run. This is useful information to eventual aid in software design to truly make PC’s better to use. 
Now, obviously there are many factors surrounding the boot up of your machine such as hardware, age etc. However this is the perfect place to start, and could potentially save you shelling out for Ram upgrades, new machines or even costly IT Technician time.
The Soluto software is backed up by an active community forum providing support and advice to Soluto users world wide. 
Hardware Requirements:
Microsoft Windows XP, Vista or 7 – 32bit or 64bit
Minimum 512MB Ram
If you want to see just how easy Soluto is to use before downloading it, check to the video on their website! However, if you are confident you know what you are doing and just want to get stuck in, click here to download your copy.

Transcend 220Transcend USA have recently released an additional application for use with their JetFlash 220 secure storage devices. The JetFlash 220 is just like any normal USB memory stick, however – it has one extra little facility.. Built into the housing of the device is a biometric fingerprint scanner. The scanner protects a ‘private’ partition on the device which can only be unlocked with a swipe of the owners fingerprint.

I have been using my JetFlash device for years now, and I love it.. So I was quite excited to read about the latest addition to the JetFlash software. The JetFlash 220 Advanced Function tool adds an additional layer to the Windows logon process. After you have installed the tool and rebooted you will be unable to access your Windows based machine until you have swiped your finger over the biometric reader.
Biometric logons are not new, and have been around in high end laptops for many years. However – using the above solution offers a cheap and effective way of implementing such a facility on your entry level laptop or PC. The new software supports Windows 2000, XP (32/64 bit), Vista (32/64 bit) and Windows 7 (32/64 bit) and is available for free download here.

If like me, you are an avid laptop user who’s laptop travels with them everywhere, then carrying a collection of DVD’s with you is essential for those times when you exhaust the internet. However, carrying a large collection of discs everywhere you go is so last year! Especially now with the price of terabyte drives dropping at the rate they are.

Which means it makes perfect sense to copy all the DVD’s you own to image files, which you can mount directly on your laptop and watch without hassle. Not only does this save on what you have to carry, but also the amount of battery power you laptop consumes as there are less moving parts. Over the many years of laptop use I have been exposed to many different flavours of DVD extraction applications, all with their own different benefits. However MakeMKV is pretty special. In the way that you only need two clicks on you mousetrackpadtablet screen in order to initiate the ‘ripping’ of your DVD and even your Blu-ray movie! 
Yes! That’s right, I did say Blu-ray…. This perhaps has to be one of the first ever free applications with Blu-ray capabilities! Obviously there are some prerequisites to this.. In that your laptop will need a Blu-ray drive, and you will need a shed load of storage space! I am not able to test the Blu-ray functions, as I have not yet made the leap to Blu-ray but I’ve heard its functions are faultless.
All you need to do is download MakeMKV for your operating system:
Windows XP, Vista or 7 (32bit or 64bit) – MakeMKV 1.5.2
X86 Mac OS X 10.4 or later – MakeMKV 1.5.2
Once you have done installing, pop in the DVD hit the ‘Make MKV’ button, and go put the kettle on!
Now, to play back your MKV file, you are going to need and advanced player.. Something like VLC from VideoLan will do the job nicely.

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