All posts by Big

Samsung Galaxy Devices – how to replace S-Voice with Google Voice Search when you double press the Home button

I have always used Google Voice Commands, and I don’t want to mess with Samsung’s S-Voice. You might have noticed that double pressing the center home button launches S-Voice.  Here’s how to change that behavior to launch Google Now or Google voice search.

  1. Launch S Voice (sorry, you have to accept the terms and conditions to do this).  Go into S Voice settings and uncheck the “Open via the Home key” box in the General Settings category. This prevents S Voice from launching when you double tap the home button.
  2. Open Google Play and install the “Home2 Shortcut” app.  Make sure you search for “home2” without a space between “home” and “2”
  3. Open Home2 Shortcut and configure it to launch Google Voice Search when you double tap of the home button. 
  4. Under settings, step 1:  choose Application –> Installed Applications –> Voice Search. 
  5. Step 2:  Keep double tap interval at “Normal”
  6. Step 3:  set single tap Application to your launcher (in my case, Nova Launcher)
  7. Step 4:  click on the Close button, and then select your launcher again, select “Home2 Launcher”, click the “Always” box, and select OK. 

If you mess up and select the wrong option in step 7, then you need to set your Home application again.   To do this, go to Settings –> Application Manager.  Then select your current Home application (Nova Launcher in my case), and select “Clear Defaults”. 

How to Configure Synthesia to run on a 4th monitor (separate from your triple monitor setup)

I will describe my setup below, in the hopes that some piece of this will be helpful for your setup.

First, make sure you have downloaded USB MIDI drivers for your keyboard.  For Yamaha keyboards, the download is here:  http://download.yamaha.com/usb_midi/

Assume you have a normal desktop setup (one or more monitors at your desk, and Synthesia runs on a separate monitor near your MIDI keyboard.

I use the following software to cleanly enable the monitor next to the keyboard when Synthesia is launched, and disable that monitor when Synthesia is terminated.  The following software is used:

  1. DisplayFusion – commercial software for managing multiple montitors. In this case, we use it to store different monitor configuration profiles, and provide programmatic access to change the profile
    • Visual Basic scripting – I wrote a script to configure the displays and launch Synthesia.  It does 3 things in sequence: 
    •                  1.  Set the display configuration to enable the monitor near your MIDI keyboard
                      2.  launch Synthesia, suspend the script until Synthesia has exited. 

  2. Visual Basic scripting – I wrote a script to configure the displays and launch Synthesia.  It does 3 things in sequence:
  3. Then restore the original

How to Make your PDF files searchable in Windows

Modern versions of Windows have a great built-in seach feature, which will search all of your documents for specific text that you enter into the Search box in Explorer:

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Some versions of Windows don’t search PDF files however.  This post will tell you how to fix this issue. 

In my experience, PDFs are searchable in 32-bit versions of Windows, once the Adobe Acroboat Reader program is installed.  But 64-bit versions of Windows don’t seem to index PDF files properly.  This applies to both

Here’s how to fix the issue:

  1. Download and Install the Adobe PDF iFilter 9 for 64-bit platforms  (this link goes straight to Adobe’s website for download).  You will get a ZIP file with an installable MSI file inside. 
  2. Reset your search index.  Click on the Windows Start button and type “Indexing options”, and launch the utility (if you’re using Windows 8, click on Settings to see the option).  Then click on Advanced, and then click on Rebuild

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The dialogs above are for Windows 8.  They may look slightly different, depending on your Windows version.  Give you system time to rebuild the search index, but within a few hours you should be able to search PDF files without issue.

Setup a Windows 8 PC from scratch

Here’s a list of useful utilities for Windows 8:

Blogging Software

  1. Windows Live Writer 2012 (English) – Download

Screen Capture Software

  1. Techsmith Snagit – Download
  2. Screenshot Captor – Download

Multi-monitor Software

  1. Ultramon – Download
  2. Display Fusion – Download
  3. Actual Multiple Monitors – Download

Here are a couple comparisons of software for managing multiple monitors:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Xeyelax/Comparison_of_multi-monitor_software
http://alternativeto.net/software/ultramon/

Adapt Windows 8/8.1 to a Desktop PC

  1. Start8 – Download
  2. ModernMix – Download

Password Management

  1. Roboform – Download

Web Development

  1. Web Matrix – Download
  2. FileZilla FTP client – Download

Anti-virus and anti-malware

  1. Microsoft Security Essentials – Download
  2. Norton™ AntiVirus – Download
  3. Avast – Download

Spyware Scanners, Removers and Blockers

  1. Windows Defender – Download
  2. SpywareBlaster – Download
  3. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware – Download

CD/DVD Burning

  1. Nero 12 Burner ( Best) – Download
  2. Ashampoo Burning Studio – Download
  3. ImgBurn – Download

Desktop Enhancments

  1. Google Chrome App Launcher for Windows  Desktop : Download
  2. ObjectDock – Download
  3. Stardock Fences – Download

Download Managers

  1. Free Download Manager – Download
  2. DownThemAll – Download

Fire Wall

  1. ZoneAlarm® Free Firewall 2013 – Download
  2. Comodo Firewall – Download
  3. PeerBlock – Download

Media Codecs/Codec Packs

  1. K-Lite Codec Pack – Download
  2. FFDShow – Download
  3. Quicktime – Download

Media Players (Audio and Video)

  1. iTunes – Download
  2. Media Monkey – Download
  3. VLC Player – Download
  4. Media Player Classic – Download
  5. MPC-HC – Download

Office

  1. Microsoft Office – Download
  2. Open Office – Download

PDF Readers

  1. Adobe PDF Reader – Download
  2. Foxit PDF Reader – Download

Photo Editors and Viewers

  1. Picasa – Download
  2. Irfanview – Download
  3. Faststone Image Viewer – Download

Web Browsers

  1. Google Chrome – Download
  2. Mozilla Firefox – Download
  3. Opera – Download

Zip Utilities

  1. 7-Zip – Download
  2. WinRar – Download
  3. WinZip – Download

Install ADB, fastboot, and other Android tools for Windows without installing the SDK

imageDownloading and installing the entire Android SDK is overkill if all you want to do is run ADB, fastboot, or other SDK tools.  You can download the attached ZIP file, unzip it to an easy to remember location, and just run the tools from your command prompt – no installation needed.

Android SDK tools (11.4MB)

Note:  This is a directory snapshot from the 4.2.2 SDK.  It includes the latest security enhanced ADB, which is required if you want to use ADB with a 4.2.2 device or later.  So you will need this latest version if you have an older version of the SDK installed.

If you don’t see your device after typing “adb devices”, then you’re probably lacking the proper USB ADB driver for your device.  You could Google to find the proper USB driver for your device.  But a much better solution is to use a Universal ADB (Android Debug Bridge) Driver for Windows, developed by Koushik Dutta in April 2013.  Just click here to download and install the driver – it will work for most all reasonably popular Android devices.

Nexus 7 tablet won’t power on? Here’s a fix.

imageAt least once, my Google Nexus 7 tablet refused to turn on.  Even when plugged into a charger, I would get no indicator or anything.  The tablet seemed to be dead.  I believe this happened after the battery was allowed to completely drain itself. 

It was an easy fix – just plug it into the charger, and press/hold the power and volume down buttons at the same time

You will get a “recovery screen”, and you can press Start to boot Android.  Android may shut itself down shortly due to insufficient battery charge.  That’s okay, just let it stay off and charge for a while before you use it. 

This shouldn’t happen again, unless you let it sit for a long period with a dead battery.

Logitech Wireless Mouse M525

imageI have used the Logitech Wireless Mouse M525 at my job since January 2012, and I just bought one for my home office.  Don’t know why I waited so long.  This is the best mouse I’ve ever used, and at roughly $30 delivered, there isn’t much reason to be without one. 

Logitech considers this a portable mouse, and you could use it that way, but I have used it exclusively at my desk. 

Favorite features:

  • the micro precision scroll wheel is fantastic.  It operates smoothly, has a lot more precision than standard scroll wheels, and it is relatively quiet.  You can also tilt it right or left to go back or forward in browsers and other apps.
  • great overall ergonomics:  I have big hands, and the mouse still feels ideally weighted and the controls are great. 
  • 3 year battery life:  the mouse ships with alkaline batteries, and I’ve never had to change them
  • Logitech’s small “unifying receiver”:  The USB dongle the mouse uses is tiny, and it works great with other Logitech wireless peripherals.  I think it is much more simple, reliable and power friendly than using Bluetooth. 
  • Variety of colors/patterns:  I like the dark red one the best (in the picture above), but they vary in price so you should check all of the colors if price is significantly different.
    I tried the M305 model because it was about $10 cheaper.  It gets great reviews, but after using the M525, I m simply not happy with it.  The M305 is not as nicely weighted, it looks cheaper, and the scroll wheel is loud, and not smooth/refined at all.  I would definitely suggest paying extra for the M525.   

Here’s a link to check it out on Amazon, and some of the Logitech marketing info is listed below..

Mouse around your house
    Improved scroll control
  • Innovative Micro-precision scroll wheel  puts more control under your finger with more grooves per millimeter
  • Faster, easier web navigation and scrolling through long web pages
  • Tilt wheel lets you move backward and forward on the web, just like a swipe*
Hand-activated power
         Long-lasting power
  • 3 full years of battery life means you almost never need to change batteries**
  • On-Off switch and smart sleep mode save power
  • Battery indicator light eliminates surprises
Mouse around your house
          Hand-friendly design
  • Ergonomic shape and soft rubber grips conform to your hand and feel naturally comfortable
  • Compact size is easy to take with you from home to work or anywhere you use your computer
Plug-and-forget Logitech Unifying receiver

    Versatile USB wireless receiver
  • Unifying receiver connects up to 6 Unifying-compatible devices.
    Learn more>
  • Add a keyboard or switch between mice without changing receivers or filling up all your USB ports
  • So tiny it can stay in your laptop wherever you go
Plug-and-forget Logitech Unifying receiver
               Logitech Advanced Optical Tracking
  • Laser-grade precision even on smooth, glossy surfaces that challenge standard optical mice
  • Uses less power so your battery lasts longer