Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bing Celebrity Slideshows

I was just performing random searches on Bing when I discovered that some of the Instant Answers for celebrities featured a new feature called “Slideshow.” Like the name implies, Bing seems to collect images of whoever you searched for and compiles a Silverlight-powered slideshow with full screen capabilities. Here’s an example, inspired by my younger sister.





Here are a couple more I found to have a Bing Slideshow (courtesy of my sisters):

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 continues home page facelift

If you park your homepage over at MSN, then you have been noticing some big changes to one of the most-visited websites in the world. In times when most of Microsoft is re-branding or re-building many of its products and strategies (think Windows 7, Windows Phone 7 Series, Bing, Zune HD, Windows Live Wave 4), they are not holding back over at the MSN team. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been noticing and making note of some big and not so big changes that they seem to be greatly debating internally (like background color, size of elements, text positioning, border structures, etc). For the last couple of days, probably for the ease of maintaining updated content for the Olympics, they only seem to be forwarding users to the older version of But a couple of weeks ago, they had almost 4 versions running:

  • (some people are/were directed to the old version, while some were “chosen” for a version of the new version) (that’s 2)
  • (the permanently parked new version in progress, now without the beta sticker)  (that’s 1 more)
  • Another version I randomly get with some modifications to the new version design (blue background, inclusion and/or removal of an “app system”) (that’s total of 4)

I was going to go into detail about the different changes of each version, but I would first like to get an idea of what design they seem to be favoring. Right now, I have no clue about where the progression lies; in some browsers I get some versions, and on other computers I get others. I can’t tell where the preview has gone from point A to point B, so for now, just enjoy some really nice screenshots I compiled of the entire site, in its intact glory.

MSN Old Version, as it is for most users. Old design.


MSN Preview Preview, first version of the new design. Well, more like ‘1.2’ pictured here because I remember that the very first preview launched did not have that blue haze at the very stop, which was a very nice touch.


MSN Latest 
Newest design, implementing a blue background, the new apps on the right, and very awkward, unnecessary, badly positioned, marketing for Bing in the search bar. Topped off with a GIANT ‘Web Search’ button. As if we don’t what a search bar looks like. I think if they removed the orange text from inside the bar, and completely removed the button and only left the Bing logo as it is, floating right, (which could act as a button itself), it would seem very sleek.


Just thought I should add a screenshot of how they implemented the well-known “red ribbon of breaking news” within the new preview design.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NVIDIA Graphics Update Creates Black Screen Lag

Here’s yet another fix for a tricky little problem that may affect some HP laptop users.

Error Summary: If you own an HP Pavilion DV6000 with an AMD Processor and Graphics by NVIDIA, Microsoft Windows Update may suggest an “Optional” update called ‘nVidia – Display – NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150’ that was released in March, 2009. You might be thinking, great, there’s something to improve the already issue-plagued graphics status of my DV6000, but no, far from it. Instead, after installing the update, you begin to notice lags before and after you receive one of those User Access Control windows.

Error Applies To: Windows 7 (32 bit) [Confirmed], Windows Vista (32 bit) [Confirmed] on HP Pavilion DV6000Z Notebooks [Confirmed]

Error Status: Microsoft continues to publish the ‘Optional’ update via Windows Update.

Error Details/Scenario: While before the update, you would have a very, very short “black screen” prior the UAC window pop up, and again after clicking Continue, after the update, this black screen is greatly lengthened and very annoying. The black screen is not completely dark as if your monitor would be off, but instead you’re able to see some brightness because the backlight of the screen remains on. You might also experience this “black screen” lag when turning on and off your computer, maximizing and restoring some video windows, and between full-screen and regular-screen switches. The good thing is that you can restore your graphics card by re-instating the perfectly fine driver your had before.

  • NOTE: If you JUST installed the update via Windows Update and noticed this, you do not have to proceed further with the first part of the fix. To uninstall and revert to the previous graphics driver, you can use Windows System Restore to go back to a point and undo the Windows Update session that installed ‘nVidia – Display – NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150.’ Open System Restore by opening the Start menu, and searching for ‘System Restore.’  However, if it has been more than a week, proceed with all parts.

Pre-Fix Steps:

  1. Download and save ‘NVIDIA VGA Driver ( A)’ from HP to the Desktop. Do not run this installer until prompted to do so in the following fix. This driver is confirmed to work best with your computer and does not cause the “black screen” lag [File LINK].

Fix Steps:

Part One

  1. Open the Start menu.

  2. Find or search for Windows Update. Open it.

  3. Click on View update history to bring up a list of installed updates.

  4. Look for  ‘nVidia – Display – NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150.’
  5. Right-click the update and select View details.
  6. Make note of the ‘Installation date’ (it will be useful when looking for the update in Add/Remove Programs) and confirm details with the screenshot. Close the window.
  7. Back at your ‘Update history,’ click on ‘Installed Updates’ at the top of your window.
  8. Because the update is not listed here, on the left, click on ‘Uninstall a program’  to open Add/Remove Programs.
  9. Scroll down to the Ns and look for ‘NVIDIA Drivers.’ Confirm your installation date of this program with your installation date of  ‘nVidia – Display – NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150’ from Windows Update. If they match, you are looking at the same graphics driver and it is the one we want to remove.
  10. Click once on ‘NVIDIA Drivers’ so it only becomes highlighted.
  11. Select Uninstall/Change from the menu bar.
  12. A window named ‘Remove NVIDIA Components’ will appear giving you a selection of items to remove. Either select ‘Remove all NVIDIA drivers, including Display’ or ‘Remove only the following’ and check all of the boxes that match up with the screenshot. Click Remove.
  13. Your computer will blink and may display very weird screen resolution settings and/or turn off Windows Aero. Do not worry! This is normal. Restart the computer and return to these steps.
  14. Run the installer you downloaded to your Desktop from the HP site. Restart the computer and return to these steps.
  15. Everything should be back to normal now. If your resolution is still improperly configured, simply Right-click the Desktop and select ‘Screen resolution’ (in Windows 7) or by searching for ‘Screen resolution’ from the Start menu (in Windows Vista). Adjust appropriately. Also, you might want Aero (transparency) back, so fix that too.

Part Two

  1. If everything worked out great with either System Restore or with the steps in Part One, then Windows Update will return to prompting you about that ‘Optional’ update again. We need to block it from further installations. Open Windows Update and click on ‘1 optional update is available.’
  2. Find and confirm the update is available again.
  3. Right-click the update and select ‘Hide update.’ Feels good doesn’t it?
  4. Return to the previous window by clicking Back.
  5. Confirm that ‘Windows is up to date’ and the update no longer troubles you with its presence.

Congratulations! You are done. If you experienced any issues or you have updated information about what computers, systems, scenarios this issue applies to, feel free to leave a question or comment and I will personally assist you further.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Windows 7 Backup Error 0x8100002F after Zune 4.2 Update

Error Summary: You receive this Windows Backup error message when trying to perform a full backup or when a scheduled backup “completes.” The message says that the backup “completed” but some files were skipped.

Windows Backup

Error Applies To: Windows 7 (32bit and 64bit) [Confirmed], Windows Vista [Most Likely], Earlier Versions of Windows [Not Applicable]. Must have Zune installed .

Error Status: No official solution/acknowledgement by Microsoft has been issued. A manual fix is available.

Error Details/Scenario: Windows Backup is properly configured and more than one full backup has manually or automatically successfully completed. After installing the Zune 4.2 Update on Windows 7 machines, the Podcast Library is created and Zune software finds and organizes content by using Windows 7 Libraries. This results in some problems if prior ‘Monitored Folders’ settings were tuned to precise settings. One problem is the detection of a missing ‘Podcasts’ folder in a directory Windows Backup is set to create a backup of. This could be due to a bug in the Zune software where proper instructions were not set to create this folder that Windows Backup somehow knows should exist and expects to back up. Other error messages can surface if Windows Backup’s destination contains content folders that are included in your Windows 7 Libraries (e.g. You have a “Movies” folder stored on your external hard drive that is part of your ‘Videos Library’). If this is the case, Windows Backup will add these folders to the “Skipped Files” error message because it does not want to backup those folders as they already exist on the backup destination. This is effective if you don’t want to waste storage space, but your Backup results will not show up green and successful.

Error Fix: To resolve these two issues, there are two goals: 1) Create the mysterious ‘Podcasts’ folder in the directory where it should exist. 2) Edit Windows Backup settings or move folders to your C: Drive (or another local hard drive that is not your backup destination).

Pre-Fix Steps

  1. Open Windows Backup and make sure the status is displayed as “Check your backup results. The backup completed but some files were skipped” with an ‘Options’ button [shown in Image 1].
    Image 1

  2. Click on the ‘Options’ button to bring up the “Windows Backup Troubleshooting Options” window [shown in Image 2]. 
    Image 2

  3. Click on ‘Show Details’ to expand the window and confirm the error code [shown in Image 3].
    Image 3

  4. Click on ‘View skipped files’ to open the Notepad .TXT file containing the list of folders/files that were skipped. Example: ‘C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\Podcasts. Error:(The system cannot find the file specified. (0x80070002))’ will either be the only entry or part of multiple entries. For now, you can ignore this directory, but make note of any other folders that were skipped, if any (Zune content folders that are on your backup destination and were skipped will be listed) [shown in Image 4].
    Image 4

  5. Proceed to Fix Steps.

Fix Steps

  • Missing ‘Podcasts’ Folder is Skipped From Backup
    • This is easy to fix. We just need to go to the destination where the .TXT file says the folder is missing, click on ‘New Folder’ to create and name the folder, and we’re done.
      1. Obtain the destination of your missing ‘Podcasts’ folder from the .TXT file. This should be ‘C:\Windows\System32\config\systemprofile\Podcasts. Error:(The system cannot find the file specified. (0x80070002)).’
      2. Click on the ‘Start’ button and go to ‘Computer.’
      3. Double-click your C: Drive. Find the ‘Windows’ folder. Open it.
      4. Find and open the ‘System32’ folder.
      5. Find and open the ‘config’ folder.
      6. Find and open the ‘systemprofile’ folder.
      7. Here, you might find other folders and files, like an ‘AppData’ folder and an ‘ntuser.dat’ file but no ‘Podcasts’ folder [Shown in Image 5].
        Image 5

        NOTE: If you were unable to find any of these folders, you might need to change your Folder Settings so that hidden folders are shown [How-To LINK] . Or if you were prompted to show hidden system folders or accept a User Access Control dialog, accept and/or Okay those prompts.

      8. Create a new folder by clicking on the ‘New Folder’ button from the menu bar. Alternatively, right-click the white space within the Window and hover to New > Folder [Shown in Image 6].
        Image 6

      9. Rename the ‘New Folder’ as ‘Podcasts’ [exactly as shown in Image 7].
        Image 7

      10. Close the window. You are done. If no other folders were skipped, this should complete the fix and you may re-run Windows Backup. If other folders were skipped because “they already existed on the destination,” proceed to the next part of the fix.

  • Folders/Files Skipped Because They Exist on the Backup Destination Drive
    • This is a trickier solution because it varies for every user. I don’t have any screenshots for this part because everyone has their own setup of content folders. Also, I fixed this issue on my computer prior to writing this article, so I would have to re-create the mess to be able to illustrate something that will be possibly very different from what you may be experiencing. However, if you need further assistance, feel free to contact me by leaving a comment and I will be more than happy to assist you on a case-by-case, personal basis.
      1. Identify the content folders that are part of your Libraries and are also located on the hard drive Windows Backup uses. They will be listed in the same .TXT document created in the error window from the Pre-Fix Steps.
      2. Find those folders on the hard drive(s).
        • Explanation of Content Folders: For example, if you have a folder where you store your digital movies (let’s call it the “Movies” folder) but your C: Drive is too small to contain all these big files, then appropriately, you moved this folder to your bigger external storage drive. You still want these files to sync with your Zune in the new 4.2 Update, so the folder needs to be part of your Videos Library within Windows 7 since 4.2 only displays content in your Collection if it is part of a Windows Library. 
          [FAQs of Windows 7 Libraries LINK].

          (NOTE: A Library in Windows 7 is a list of folders from across your computer(s) and external storage drives that contain similar content so that they all show up in one listing. Thus, when you open the Library, content from various locations  appears to be filtered together, even though it exists separately in different locations).

          So, if your “Movies” folder, or any folder, was already a “Monitored Folder” in Zune software before the 4.2 Update, the update should have added this folder to the appropriate Windows 7 Library (e.g. picture folders to the Pictures Library, music folders to the Music Library, and video folders to the Videos Library).
          [Explanation of “Monitored Folders” in Zune LINK].

          This is where the problem is created. Since the “Recommended” settings for Windows Backup automatically select everything listed in your Libraries to be part of the files for backup (appropriately), your “Movies” folder is going to be part of this list. But, when Windows Backup detects that the “Movies” folder already exists on the destination storage location where your backup is being saved, it will skip it and other folders to prevent storage waste. In other words, why backup a folder to a destination that is already a “safe” place? Windows Backup will still complete, but will not report a successful backup and you will continue to receive alert messages to check your backup settings.
      3. You have two options for the list of skipped folders you have found. 1) Move the folders to your C: Drive or another storage destination that is not the backup destination. 2) Customize Windows Backup settings so that affected Libraries are not automatically part of the backup process, and instead select only the folders you want. The reason you can’t just un-list them from the Libraries is because when you do, the content from the folders will no longer show up in your Zune Collection.
      4. Pick an option and follow the steps according to the goals we have explained.
        • Move Folders to C:Drive or Another Storage Unit
          1. Find all affected folders and move them to appropriate folders in your Profile folder (contains the My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, My Videos, Podcasts folders). Find your Profile folder by opening the Start Menu and clicking on your account’s name at the top-right).
          2. Alternatively, if you have another storage drive that is always connected to your computer, move the folders to that drive so they are in a different destination than the one Windows Backup uses. Remember to add these folders back to the appropriate Library.
        • Modify Windows Backup Settings
          1. Instead of using the “Recommended” settings, modify them so that Libraries are ignored. But you have to make sure that your Profile folder and any listed folders in your Library are also part of the Backup or are stored on a “safe” external storage drive.
          2. LINK to “Windows 7: Windows Backup Overview” article.

I apologize for the length of this tutorial, but it needed to pack a lot of explanation sections in case you had questions along the way. If you still hit a bump in the process, feel free to comment with a question or suggestion in how this post can be improved. I will periodically be checking this post and updating as needed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Microsoft CES 2009 Windows Experience video

Microsoft CES 2009 Windows Experience (in high quality)


Video highlighting offerings from original equipment manufacturers featured during Steve Ballmer’s keynote address.



Enjoy the video.


- Albert

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Download YouTube videos to Zune

It’s finally here. An updated and revamped version of the original “Download YouTube Videos to Zune” video. It was a success and many people were very thankful. However, some had some trouble and things have changed since then, so it was time to deliver what people wanted. If you have a Zune and want to download any video from YouTube, here is the best video guide.

AVideo Download YouTube Videos to Zune and PC [Updated]

Useful tips and resources:

Select the folders that you want the Zune software to monitor for new music, videos, pictures, and podcasts

Folders can include playlists, music, videos, pictures, and podcasts from another player collection. If you add or remove files from these folders, the Zune software automatically updates the collection accordingly.
To configure the folders that you want the Zune software to monitor, follow these steps:
  1. Start the Zune software.
  2. In the upper-right corner, click Settings, click Software, and then select Collection. A list of folders appears that the Zune software currently monitors for new media files.
  3. To modify the list of monitored folders, use the following guidelines:
    • o To add a new folder to the list, click Add Folder, and then select the folder that you want to add.
      o Note If you add a folder that is located on a removable drive, and the drive is no longer available, the Zune software automatically removes the content in that folder from your collection.
    • o To remove a folder from the list, click Remove for the folder that you want to remove.

How to add music, videos, pictures, and podcasts that you play on the computer to the Zune device

When you start the Zune software for the first time, the software automatically adds music, videos, pictures, and podcasts on the computer to the Zune collection. Then, you can set up the Zune software to monitor the folders in which you store your media. If you add or delete something in these folders, the Zune software updates your collection accordingly.
To prevent the Zune software from automatically adding these files to your collection, follow these steps:
  1. Start the Zune software.
  2. Click Settings, click Software, and then select Collection.
  3. Click to clear the Automatically update album art and media information check box.
  4. Click OK.

Common Issues and Solutions

Common Issue #1: Won't Sync/Detect Video

Make sure to select the MP4 file type. This should solve most problems related to Zune not detecting other corrupted files. Also, remember to change the name in the new MP4, make it different than when you tried to import the older file, or else Zune Software might not always detect that it's a new file.

Common Issue #2: "Only Works on Some Videos"

Not true. The converter should be able to download all YouTube video, regardless their status. If you simply cannot download a certain video, contact us and we will solve the problem.

Common Issue #3: Plays on PC but not Zune

Confirm you are using the MP4 file type. Refer to Common Issue #1 tips.

Common Issue #4: Video or Data "Corrupt"

Specify where you are getting this error message (i.e. YouTube,, Zune, etc.), then contact us.

Common Issue #5: Compatible with iPod's?

If you would like to download YouTube videos to your iPod as well, you will have to use the MP4 file format.

- Albert

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Microsoft issuing emergency browser fix


This just in from MSNBC:

“REDMOND, Wash. - Microsoft Corp. is taking the unusual step of issuing an emergency fix for a security hole in its Internet Explorer software that has exposed millions of users to having their computers taken over by hackers.


The "zero-day" vulnerability, which came to light last week, allows criminals to take over victims' machines simply by steering them to infected Web sites; users don't have to download anything for their computers to get infected, which makes the flaw in Internet Explorer's programming code so dangerous. Internet Explorer is the world's most widely used Web browser.


Microsoft said it plans to ship a security update, rated "critical," for the browser on Wednesday. People with the Windows Update feature activated on their computers will get the patch automatically.” More


Because this flaw is extremely dangerous as it can steal stored passwords on your computer, it is absolutely critical that you install the update so you cannot be infected. The update is completely free of charge, as always provided by Microsoft. You will be able to download the patch tomorrow and I will have the link here as soon as it is available (the update is now available, look below). Again, it is very important you install this, especially if you use online banking, online gaming, online social networking, or any site which you have given any personal information to.


NAME AND INFO: MS08-078 Addresses a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (KB 960714)


For Windows XP: Perform Microsoft Update
For Windows Vista: Run the Windows Update tool.


Note: If you think you already have an infection, you can run Microsoft’s FREE Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.


- Albert