Tag Archives: computing

Enable the Num Lock at startup

This is a very common question I get from my friends. I have no idea why Microsoft didn’t make this easier since they can just add a button to the toolbar. I am aware of the fact that this is probably on several different websites. Having too many well explained documents on this never going to hurt anyone.

There are no security issues of having Num Lock on at startup (at least not that I am aware of). You can do this on computers running any edition of Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8. In addition, you can also do this on Windows servers running NT and up. If you are going to do this on your work or school computer, please make sure that you are not breaking any laws. You do need administrative privileges to perform this change.

Using Registry Editor

The easiest way to do this is using what computer geeks called, “regedit” method.

1. Open regedit: I usually type “regedit” in Windows general search (on the start menu) of the computers running Windows Vista and up. This is the easiest way to open Windows Registry Editor.

General Search in Windows 7
General Search in Windows 7

General Search in Windows 8
General Search in Windows 8

If you have a older OS, then open Run, and type regedit.exe.
Regedit using Run
Regedit using Run

2. Open Keyboard folder: Go to HKEY_USERS\.Default\Control Panel\Keyboard.
Keyboard Folder
Keyboard Folder

3. Edit: Right click on the InitialKeyboardIndicators and choose Edit. It will open the String Edit window.
Editing of InitialKeyboardIndicators
Editing of InitialKeyboardIndicators

4. Click OK: and you may be asked to restart your computer. Now you are done!

Using BIOS

The second way of doing this is using BOIS settings. Today there are so many different BOIS software. Therefore it may take few more or less steps to change it from BOIS. What you need to find in your BOIS is the “Keyboard Features” (or sometimes “Keyboard and Mice Features”) and switch the NumLock to ON. I do not recommend using BOIS because it is much safer to do it through regedit. Only if the regedit cannot be accessed for some reason should you be using BOIS to modify the NumLock.

I do not know why the software developers have set this feature to disabled at start up. As far as I know, it will not have adverse effect on your computer.

VMware Workstation setup

vm_mainNot everyone knows what is a virtual machine, let along using them. They are used by students and industry professionals to learn, program and test software operations in different platforms. I use them to learn the behaviors of multiple different flavors of operating systems (OS) without using expensive hardware.

Skip Tech Jargon

VMware

In computing there are many methods and processes used for creating these “dummy” environments. I called them “dummy” because when I installed an OS or a program in a virtual environment, I am not actually using separate hardware for my needs. You can install Windows Server 2012, Lubuntu or any version of desktop OS in you desktop computer without deleting any of your files or formatting the main hard drive.

VMware is a company specialized in virtualization software. They have a wide range of products. The VMware Workstation is one of the most basic programs used by non-advanced users. You do not have to be a programmer and/or a geek to use it as long as you can read and understand basic computer instruction!

Basally virtualization software allow any supported OS versions to installed into a folder (directory), which acts and behave as a separate computer, but it uses the exact same hardware as your current unit. VMware have developed programs to act as this middle man for processing I/O (inputs and outputs) to the virtual directory.

You have to buy a copy of VMware Workstation from here or find an evaluation copy and install it in your computer. Follow the instructions on screen, like any other software install. Please keep the default settings if you are unfamiliar with this program.

Choose the OS

VMware provide the platform for virtualization and you can choose from many different OSes to install. I recommend, Lubuntu, which is based on the Open Source OS, Ubuntu. You may download Ubuntu instead, but it requires more resources to run and good for the advanced users. In addition, you may installed any other proprietary software such as Windows 8, as long as you have a valid license.

Mounting the OS

I should have used the word, “mounting” instead of “installing”, because we don’t really install the OS in our machine with VMware. What we do is mounting it (Google it for the difference). Mounting allow to create independent Virtual Machines for each OS. Follow the instructions below for mounting. This is specific to VMware Workstation, but generally most of these instructions can be used for other virtualization programs with little modifications.

First download the preferred OS iso file and either save it in the same same computer in which VMware is installed (recommended) or burn it into a disc (not recommended, read below for why).

  • Open VMware and go to File (dropdown) –> chose New Virtual Machine…
    Adding a new virtual machine.
    Adding a new virtual machine.
  • Choose Typical –> press Next >
    Two paths to install.
    Two paths to install.
  • There are two options for the install. I strongly recommend using the iso disc image method. This will not only save you from burning CDs every time you want to install a new OS, but also give you the flexibility of OS updates. The mount media can be updated by replacing the ISO file in the future. It also provide added protection of having the media always in computer.
    Choosing the downloaded iso file.
    Choosing the downloaded iso file.
    Click on Browse… and select the downloaded iso file.
  • If you choose to mount Lubuntu, you will get this warning message;
    Warning: Could not detect the OS type.
    Warning: Could not detect the OS type.
    That is perfectly fine. Just click Next > and you will be directed to a new window (see below). Choose Linux for Guest operating system and Other Linux 2.6.x kernel or it’s 64-bit cousin.
    Guest OS and it's version.
    Guest OS and it’s version.
    If you have 32-bit ISO file, choose Linux 2.6.x kernel without 64-bit. If you have an older or a newer kernel based ISO file, choose appropriately.
  • Click Next > and choose whatever the name you want to give your Virtual Machine and the location of the install. I recommend using an SSD location if you have dual hard drives. Click Next > again for Disk Capacity Options.
    Disk capacity configuration.
    Disk capacity configuration.
    While the VMware recomonds 8.0 GB for maximum size, if you have lots of space, I recommend using a bit more like 10.0 GB. Yes, splitting is better for most computers under 500 GB hard drives. If you are on an SSD, I would not expect a typical SSD user to have more than 500 GB on their single SSD drive (at the time of this post, 2013).
  • This is the final step in which, a summery of all your configurations will be displayed. Do not open Customize Hardware… unless you are an advanced user.
    Summery of configurations before install.
    Summery of configurations before install.
    Click Finish and you are done.

Virtual Machine

After installation is done, you will see your new VM under My Computer tab. You may install several VMs on a single computer. All your VMs will be listed under My Computer tab. The status of the newly installed VM should read “Powered off” and double click to open it.

VM open tab.
VM open tab.
You will be directed to a new tab with operational information (see above).

There are few important things in this tab. Please refer to the figure above;

1. VM Details: Useful when troubleshooting errors.

2. Window: Indicates the current state of the VM.

3. Devices: Provide a lot of valuable information on the entire VM. You can double click on any of the items to modify the machine settings.

You can now use the Power on (green “Play”) button to turn on the VM.

My Lubuntu VM.
My Lubuntu VM on a Windows unit.

Termination Options

Do not get confused by the power down options when leaving a VM. These options are there to help you.

Power down options popup window.
Power down options popup window.

Suspend: VM will keep track of your last operation but will terminate all the processes. It is similar to hibernation or sleep function on Windows computers. You will not lose your data and yet the allocated memory for the VM will be free for other processes (no background runs).

Power Off: Completely shut down the VM. If you have any opened files, all the modifications will be lost. This is equivalent to normal shutdown of a physical computer.

Run in Background: VM will continue to it’s operations in the background. Use this options for installing updates in the VM OS but it will consume memory in your main computer.

Not all TLDs are created equal

domain_namesUnlike in the old days, web space is getting crowded. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) have seen a flood of new applications for top level domains (TLDs) as technology have spread far beyond the rich and the powerful. I remember when I was a kid, a sever would cost more than the salary of an average South Asian. But today, one can build a server and install open source operating system for just under $400 (CAD). The rapid growth in technology have eroded the resources available for webmasters around the world.

Kings and Queens of TLDs

The TLD, dot-com is the most popular and recognized domain extension today. It was one of the few pioneer extensions created by the Americans along with the dot-net, dot-org and few others in 1985. Hence by default, it is the most valued domain extension on the market. Almost all large multinational companies have at least one dot-com for their domains regardless of their parent country. The ibm.com, bbc.com and wikipedia.com are few examples of dot-com giants. Some of these organizations do not use the dot-com for their primary domain, but rather they use them for redirecting their users. The wikipedia.com is currently not used for hosting, but used as a redirection to wikipedia.org. The bbc.com on the other hand use their dot-com for global media site while using ego-detection to redirect their UK viewers to www.bbc.co.uk.

Magnifying the Problem

Recently some “experts” argued the solution is the open up more TLDs. Even in that group of “experts”, I have come across people who don’t see eye to eye. Some believe that only generic TLDs would resolve the issues while others argue, there is nothing wrong with using country specific TLDs. Personally, I support the generic TLDs because by regulations of the ICANN, the country specific domains can be subjected to higher regulations. The best example is the dot-ca domain names, which are governed by the Canadian registrar. Let’s say you create a anti-government website using a dot-ca domain, what are the possibilities your website would be allow to use the dot-ca forever? There is no safety new in dot-coms either and we have learned this through the legal battles of thepiratebay.org.

A vulnerability of country specific and new domain extensions is that it can be problematic for your mobile customers. Android and Apple mobile devices are famous for their auto correct keyboards. The downside for the webmasters is to get your audience to your website. However, I found these automated prediction keyboards not only comes with a dedicated .com button, but also it can hinders the user’s ability to type out a web address that does not contain dot-com. I tried to type sanuja.net, but on my Android device, it was corrected to sanuja.com. I can recall few different times when I try to access the University of Calgary website, ucalgary.ca, I end up with an error message because the phone automatically corrected my dot-ca to dot-com. It is not just an inconvenience if you have a web business with “unconventional” domain extensions.

If the technology catch up to the new TLDs, these small issues adds up creating more problems for web developers and organizations. This is why I think dot-com is still the king of the domains world.

Excel Visual Basic Scripts

A simple program like Microsoft Excel 2010 can be used as a powerful tool by manipulating the software. Microsoft has published several “how to” guides such as this one Getting Started with VBA in Excel 2010. They are very good articles, and I am not trying to beat them. After all, they wrote the software anyway. I just want to introduce Excel as a powerful programing tool for home users Continue reading Excel Visual Basic Scripts

Elementary guide to Remote Desktop

I remember when I was a kid; I was having an uphill battle with my Windows machine because the RDC (Remote Desktop Connection) only worked within the internal network. At that time I failed to realized that specific port(s) has (have) to be opened from the LAN (Local Area Network) Continue reading Elementary guide to Remote Desktop