Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Make Windows 8 Go Straight to Desktop After Log On

Here's another valuable tip for the confused windows 8 user who doesn't like the lock metro interface. Majority of users prefer the desktop as the destination after logging in and not the metro lock interface. If you are one of the annoyed ones and wanting to get rid of it, here's the solution for you.

What I'm going to show you is to skip the lock screen after logging in. This means you go straight to the desktop after typing your user name and password. This tutorial has two parts. One is making a script or program to show the desktop, and the second part is to tell windows when to show the desktop.

Make a show desktop script.


Show desktop is available in all windows variant but I have a hard time finding it. So I goggled a script on how to show desktop. And the script is


[Shell]
 Command=2
 IconFile=Explorer.exe,3
[Taskbar]
 Command=ToggleDesktop

How to save the script?


Highlight and copy the script above then open notepad (this is under windows accessories, or on the lock screen (press the windows button on your keyboard just type in Notepad) and paste the script (2). Then click file (1) and save as (3) Desktop.scf. Make sure you substitute Desktop to the *(asterisk) and substitute .scf  to .txt. (4) Make note of the location of the script as you will need it later. I myself organised it under my documents. The text file is now converted into an icon with the usual show desktop sign from previous windows version(6).


How to tell Windows to show desktop after logging in.


This is just programming your computer on what to do to an event. Now, I want to tell windows to go directly to the desktop after I log in to my profile.

I open up task scheduler (control panel, Administrative Tools, Task Scheduler) click, action(7) and create a new location(folder)(8) to the task. I name it as show desktop(9).



Click to open show desktop location folder, then went back to action(10) and click Create Task. Under General, I named it showdesktop(12), and typed something (13) to describe what the task can do. I also want to run it when a specific user(that's me) is logged on(14).




Next is to set the trigger(15). Click new(16) and choose to begin the task at log on (17). Then specify which user log on will trigger the event (this time I choose my own(18)), then do not forget to click OK.


Now you are ready to set an action(19), click new(20) and choose start a program(21). Look for the show desktop script you've done before by clicking browse (22). I know that the script Desktop(23) is under my document so it was easy for me to find it. Then click OK.


Restart your computer and log on! See the magic with the video below, showing the configured user to log straight into the desktop while other accounts go to the usual Start Screen.



Sunday, 26 May 2013

Simplify Windows 8


The windows 8 metro interface is fresh looking, like that of the new windows phones, but lacks appeal to some users, myself included. The main reason is the removal of the desktop as the default screen, and instead, the "tiled window" or lock screen with  live tiles, programs and utilities. All windows users are used to the desktop as the first screen to show up for many years, and the sudden change had a negative impact to the users as reflected in the lower PC and laptop sales with the new operating system.

Those who has it already has to live with it, that they need to make extra clicks to get into the desktop. And once at the desktop they need to hit the windows key to go back to the tiled window to fetch which program they want to execute for their task! Personally, this is annoying.

Put important files at the desktop

The solution for this impractical situation is to make those programs and utilities accessible at the desktop. One very simple way is to put the icons of the most accessed programs of the computer, like the control panel,  my computer , network and user's file in one folder.



To do this, right click the desktop and click personalisation, change desktop icons and tick the items you want to show in the desktop Then click apply. Now, you do not have to fiddle your menu to see your drive, adjust computer settings through the control panel or access your files as they are already in the desktop.



This is still not enough as you will still be looking for programs you want to use. Pinning your favourite programs into the taskbar is an easy solution.

Mimic a start button


To those who are used to the old interface, they can make their lives easier by making a shortcut to the programs folder by clicking windows explorer (the folder icon between  IE and Chrome in the picture below), click windows(1), right click program files(x86) (2), then click create shortcut(3).


You can change the icon of  the folder to make it more like a start button. You can use this start button that I've downloaded.  You just need to convert it as an icon before you can use it. To convert it into icon and change the icon of the start folder, please see my post at


Right click and
save picture as..
For better effect, rename the folder as start.



Now you have all the programs in one click at the start icon at the desktop.




Put the manually made icon at the toolbar


Another trick is to put the desktop icon at the bottom toolbar. This will automatically include the manually made start icon.

Right click an empty space at the toolbar(1), then toolbar(2) and click desktop.



The desktop components will appear at the right side of the bottom toolbar. Drag the separator all the way to the left, then  right click an empty space(1) then untick (2) show text and show title.





Then just drag the start button at the first slot to the left! Though the icons are quite tiny, they make life easier !





Saturday, 25 May 2013

Watch TV and Movies on Smartphones and PC's Part 3


Post for  Ka'Tira's and all OFW's looking for a free way to watch live Philippine TV's without subscription and other nationalities away from their own countries. This post is not meant to compete for other paid video services that offer almost the same functionality, but to let people know that free TV is possible without subscription and hardware modification.

If you think that the work of these guys from XBMC is useful, interesting and impressive, please show your support for this group with any amount of donation. This is not compulsory of course.

MashUp for Android SmartPhone

Here's the guide on how to install MashUp add on for XBMC on an android phone. The phone I used in this post is a Samsung S3 model. It can be simple, but the first time I tried to install it, I run into a problem that I thought only as a minor one but turned out to be annoying, the problem of searching for the downloaded zip file. 

Using the phone's explorer, the file is easy to find, but when I when I was ready to install the file using XBMC, the file just got missing. Maybe because it is a ZIP file and needed a specialised program to read it? I do not know. My last resort was to open one by one the directories, folders and subfolders from my phone that the XBMC browser found. Until I came to MNT folder. This did not made any sense to me, but I needed to look for that ZIP file. And it was there!

Assuming that you have downloaded XBMC(part 1) and Mash up add on(part 2) on your smart phone, open up XBMC.
1. Go to settings.


2. Then click on add ons


3. Click install from zip file, XBMC browser will appear at the right side then choose root file system.


4. Open MNT 


5. Browse to extSDCard


6. Go to Download folder


7. Then click the ZIP file. In this example I have downloaded two versions, I just did used the repository ending in all!


Then you can now install MashUp to watch TV. See tutorial on how to install at part 2. PC and mobile phone has the same installation procedure.

Then you can watch something like this!



Saturday, 18 May 2013

Watch TV and Movies on Smartphones and PC's Part 2


Here's the second part of how to watch live TV on your PC and smartphone. If you've done the instructions on part 1 and already running XBMC media center, then install this add on. This will give you a tidier interface of watching contents like Movies, Television Shows, HD Content, 3D Content, International TV's, Live Streams, Sports and Events, Documentaries, Adventure and Children’s Content.  It is not native within the application so point your browser to 


You can use this link to use with laptop and smartphone. The key to no sweat installation is you know where the downloaded file is.

PC's and Laptops


 Download the zip file and remember the download destination. Don't do anything yet at this point. Open up XBMC and go to systems menu. Click the systems menu (encircled) or settings submenu, to get you into the add on browser, 


Click add-ons, install from zip file, C:(Systems) then navigate to where the downloaded file is. If you have not changed the default destination folder for downloads, go to this path, C:(system), users, click your user name, downloads, then look for this folder repository.superrepo.org.frodo.all-0.2.1


Once installed, go back to systems and click the settings menu, get add ons(1) then choose Super Repo(2). This will add mash up in the list of video add ons. Now go to Videos and hit add ons(3), click get more(4) and click mash up(5) and Install it. Mash up will then be ready to use. Click on it(6) to get into the interface.


Watch Live TV

Click live, then my country, choose which country to watch TV from. Existing channels will be shown. 




With mash up, you can now watch live TV. OFW's like me can now watch GMA 7 and ABS-CBN without subscription. The only downside is, you need to watch programs at the same time they are aired. Time difference might be a problem because you'll be up awake at midnight watching a show for a morning breakfast. For the OFW's this is for you.

Watch Video

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Watch TV and Movies on Smartphones and PC's Part 1

One of the coolest features of  a smartphone is it's ability to entertain you. Watching movies anywhere and anytime is possible by this all-in-one device. But what about watching live TV?

Years ago, one needs a smartphone phone with TV tuner built in to watch live channels. This made the smartphone looks not so smart because of the added bulk for the additional hardware and the built in antennae to receive TV channels. Another downside is it can only receive analogue signals, which means not stable signal reception that causes viewing interference, that's why built in receivers did not take off.

Then later, TV watching is made possible by free and paid for applications, which made the experience even better. Now TV signals and other video streaming services are in the palm of your hands.

Which Application?


There are many apps for this purpose but among the rest, this one impressed me the most, the XBMC media center, which is available for most operating systems, and either for devices like mobiles, PC's, Mac's including apple TV's. Apple product users need to jailbreak their devices to enjoy XBMC. Windows users can install it without doing anything with their devices, and android users need to prepare their device before downloading and needs to familiarize where the downloaded files are kept.

What XBMC can do?


XBMC can let you watch international TV stations which are streamed over the internet. There are also movie and sports channels that you can access. Some of the channels are region restricted which means, your location might be blocked to view these programs. There is also an add on called Mash up (watch out for part 2 of this post) for even more international channels. This is the most feature rich add on I've seen, my favourite and the one I use the most. It shows my favourite TV channel back home, ABS-CBN, and the latest release movies in 2013! This free feature loaded add on is even better than paid for streaming services.

Ready to watch? Here's the instructions. I used a windows 7 operating system for this example.

  • Windows Users


Go to http://xbmc.org/download/ choose your device operating system then download and install the file.


After download click start(1) to open up the program ( in my case it is already included in the start menu items(2), if it is not, see it at all programs) and navigate to video then click add on(3).  You won't see much items yet but you can get more add ons(4) by clicking the button. The choose from the list which one you would like to get. In this example, I've choosen Discovery Channel(5). Click and install it. 


Choose other channels you like to build a collection of add ons. Add on variety includes newschannel, sports, movies and TV's from all over the world though some add ons have flatform and regional restrictions. To start watching, just click the channel and the show you want to see.


Then choose from the list of what's ready to see.



Aljazeera add on is good to watch live news around the world.  And if you are in the UK,  iPlayer and ITV are also included.


The Free Movie add on is great for watching movies, some titles are just recently released. There are also a collection of past blockbuster films. 


To go back to the desktop after you finished watching or for other reasons, just press the windows logo on your keyboard, but it is recommended to shut down the program by pressing the off button next at the XBMC interface.

Video

  • Android Users


Mobile fans with android phone can also enjoy XBMC. The program is not available at Play store so you need to navigate your browser to this address. I used a galaxy S3 for this example.


Before downloading, make sure your phone is set to accept download and installation from unknown sources. To check this, hit settings, security, and tick Unknown Sources, then carry on the download.


To access the downloaded file, go to my files (1), all files (2), then your default directory which can either be external or internal SD card. I've choosen extSDCard(3) because I've changed my default download directory. If you have not changed the default directory for downloads then most probably that the file is at the sdcard0. Then look under download(4) and click the file to install. If you can not install at this moment, most probably that your device doesn't accept unknown resources, get back from settings and do the instructions above.


Launch the program and do the steps like the Windows version. You can start adding add ons for your mobile device.  If you find the text of the addons to small to click on your mobile,  you can change the text into bigger icons by pressing the tab(1) then continue tapping view(2) until info 2(3) is choosen. Now you can comfortably click the add ons you want(4).


On Part Two, I will tell you the best add on for XBMC so far that lets me watch streaming world TV's, including a premium channel from Manila like the video below, and more latest movies! In fact, I think it's the only add on that I will ever needed to enjoy XBMC! 

 Video


See Part 2 How To Watch Philippine TV Channels Live...
See Part 3 How To Watch Movies and TV Channels from Android Mobiles..

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