Category Archives: Uncategorized

Syncing Outlook contacts with Android is easy

I don’t use Outlook myself, but a family member wanted his contacts transferred to his new tablet. It took quite a bit of googling to find the easy solution. That solution is called Sony PC Companion. It was obviously meant for Sony Android devices, but it works well as a generic solution. Just install it and tell it to transfer contacts to Gmail and it will do that, including photos. That’s something that exporting to a CSV file and importing to Gmail can’t do.

After transferring the contacts the tablet only got part of them, so I installed Synker on the tablet. Running it got all the contacts copied to the tablet.

So that’s it. Easy, right?

Debugging a program that crashed on another PC

Debugging crashes is always a hassle. It helps if you can see where the crash happened, and I found it non-trivial until I managed to get all the details. So here’s the short of it, and hopefully it will help someone else one of these days (or me when I forget). Note that it’s assumed that the program was compiled with debugging information.

  • Assuming the program is a 32-bit one, open Task Manager from C:\Windows\SysWOW64\TaskMgr.exe.
  • Select the process, right click and choose ‘Create Dump File’.
  • When the message appears, select the path to the dump file, copy it and past into Windows Explorer.
  • Copy the dump file onto a system with Visual Studio.
  • What you also need is the executable which crashed as well as a pdb file for it, and source code which largely matches that.
  • Open the project in Visual Studio.
  • Drag the dump file into Visual Studio.
  • Click ‘Debug with Native Only’.
  • You will now be able to go over the threads and call stacks.

Readyboost helps even with 4GB of RAM

My wife’s laptop (an Inspiron 1720) sits near the living room, a perfect spot to keep an eye on the kids, and so it ends up being used by both of us. I browse using Firefox, with tons of open tabs, and my wife browses using IE. Browsing these days takes a lot of RAM, and it’s not at all hard to saturate the 3.5GB of RAM accessible to the 32-bit Windows 7 (out of 4GB in the machine).

When more than 3.5GB is in use, the laptop starts going into slideshow mode, when switching tabs, programs or even using the OS can take long seconds. That pain led me to consider various options, such as installing the 64-bit version of the OS or getting an SSD. I eventually remembered Readyboost, which can use a USB Flash drive to cache disk accesses, and so has a good potential to speed up systems with disk thrashing, for example due to virtual memory use.

We had a 4GB Flash drive that wasn’t in use, so I plugged that in and configured it. I’ve read a lot of comments of how Readyboost is only really useful on systems with little RAM (1GB and under), but since we started using it the laptop has become a lot more responsive. We no longer feel the need to shut down applications or reboot. It’s of course not as good as having extra RAM, but it’s a whole lot better than before.

I’m sure that a RAM upgrade (impractical in this case) would be the best, and an SSD could be a good solution (I’m considering it, though might go for a Seagate SSHD), but as a cheap upgrade (free in this case) this is a surprisingly good solution.

GMG Capsule, Securom and Deus Ex DRM freedom

Following a GOG conversation, I decided to try to see if I could get Deus Ex GOTY, which I have at GMG, installed as a DRM-free game.

I’ve read that GMG uses Securom for all games, and it looks like this is the case. Downloading Deus Ex on my PC it asked for an unlock when it ran. I copied the entire game directory to my laptop, which doesn’t even have Capsule installed, then downloaded and installed New Vision. I had to delete DeusEx.ini and User.ini to get the game to run, but once I did that it ran without a problem.

So there you have it, a DRM-free copy of Deus Ex downloaded from GMG. Not as trivial as getting one from GOG, but if you intend to install New Vision it’s not really any more work. You have to have Capsule installed to download and install the game, but it’s not necessary to run it later, and the copy can be backed up easily.

Green Man Gaming’s Capsule and moving games to another PC

I bought LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 on Green Man Gaming. I wanted to install it on my HTPC, which has a slightly erratic WiFi connection because of its location, and apparently Green Man Gaming’s Capsule, it’s download client, didn’t take well to that, reporting errors in the download without giving me a clear idea whether it’s planning to fix them.

So I decided to download it on my own PC and copy it there. Capsule downloads a zip file of the game, and that’s easy to copy, but it didn’t recognise that I copied it, and still continued to report errors and continued to download over it, even though it said there was 0.1GB left. Unzipping using Windows didn’t work well, and unzipping with IZarc wasn’t perfect either (though a little better). I ended up installing on my PC and copying the directory over.

When I ran the game Securom asked for a code. I ran the game on my PC and there it showed me the code, which I copied to the HTPC and it worked.

All in all it took me quite some time to get this to work, but it’s really not that bad. Capsule could be improved a little, but I imagine that for DRM free games there will be less hassle to copy over, and in any case it’s not like Steam which prevent running the client on two PC’s at the same time, and the game doesn’t need Capsule running in the background.

(As far as terms of use are concerned, GMG isn’t better than Steam, for example the terms say that a game can only be installed on one PC. I hate all these petty limitations which often conflict with normal, legitimate use. But at least technically GMG is less limiting than Steam.)

Review note: Logitech MK220 keyboard + mouse combo

I posted a while back about my HTPC. I thought about reviewing the various components, but of course I won’t get around to doing real reviews, so I decided to post short notes about them instead.

The Logitech MK220 is a wireless keyboard and mouse combo. The keyboard is small, rectangular and flat, so fits well on a narrow shelf, but it also has full size keys and a numeric keypad (but not a standard arrangement arrow keys and home/end, etc.). I won’t say that it’s an extremely comfortable keyboard, but it serves its purpose, and it’s not that bad. The mouse is a simple one.

I’ve used several wireless Microsoft combos and mice, and never had any luck using them at a range of over a few tens of centimetres. I tried one of them with the HTPC but it just didn’t work. This Logitech combo works well at two metres and more, so I can easily control the HTPC from the sofa.