Some FAQs about PCs you wish you knew before you bought it!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Q: What is an .MD5 file? What do you do with it?
MD5 is a checksum algorithm, similar to SFV that was mentioned a little while back. This one generates a much larger value and thus is more likely to be unique, but the idea is the same: go through the file, calculate a checksum, then compare it against a pre-determined value to see if the file was corrupted during transmission.

A MD5 file would contain a filename and its MD5 checksum, presumably so a program can generate its own MD5 checksum and compare against the existing result.

By itself, the .MD5 file doesn't do anything, and usually plays no role in any installation.

The program mentioned previously, hkSFV from, can also generate and verify MD5 files.

Q: Is there a program / file manager that allows me to search for files by time as well as date? The Windows // Find function just allow date, but not time.
Try FreeCommander available at

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Q: My 700MB CD-R's after formatting turns out to be about 650MB of capacity. Is there a way to write like 690MB to it?
Yes... But there's a catch.

The normal CD-R's you buy nowadays are 80 min, 700 MB standard version. You can buy extra length versions, but those are VERY hard to find, with advent of DVD burners.

The CD-R, with a bit of overhead, turns out to fit about 648 megs of data, just about. So what happens if you have a file that's like 695MB and you don't have a DVD burner, compression doesn't help, and you don't want to split the file?

The answer: Mode 2 / Form 2 burning!

There's a catch of course... CD-ROM standard includes a LOT of data checking, CRC checksums, and so on internally for error detection and correction. That's the reason for reduced capacity. If you go to Mode 2, you lose 1 of the triple redundant checks, so your data's more vulnerable to damage, scratches, and so on.

Also, the file itself will require a bit of a trick to read. You need a DirectShow filter like this one to help you read these Mode 2 CD's. But that's about the only trick.

So how DO you do it? Here's your requirements.

A CD burner and a blank CD
Mode 2 image writer
A lot of disk space (1 gig preferred, at least 750 MB for sure)
whatever media you're trying to write
Nero or any other program that burns BIN/CUE type image files to CD

The Mode 2 Image Writer is a Command-line program with a GUI component, so run the GUI to select your options and files. Make sure that the largest files (the media files) are "bolded", which means they're written in "mode 2" form (i.e. less CRC checks). When ready, assign a name and write the image (actually it writes a BIN/CUE image, not ISO image).

Now just engage the burner program, load the BIN/CUE image, and write it to the blank CD-R.

Remember, you'll need that DirectShow filter to read the Mode 2 CD's.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Q: Say there's some music video on a certain DVD that my kid really like, and I don't trust my kid to load the DVD each and every time. Can I rip just the music video onto my PC and give them a shortcut to play it each and every time?
Absolutely! However, this is technically illegal and a copyright violation, but we COULD argue that you're simply... exercising your right to a backup as you're not using both copies simultaneously. So, here goes.

First, insert your DVD into your PC's DVD drive.
Second, you'll need to download "DVD Decrypter". I can't give you a link, but it's easy to find if you use Google. Download it and install it.
Third, run DVD Decryptor, pick IFO mode, and read the DVD. It should give you a list of all the different "VOB" files on the DVD, which are the actual video contents. The long one is probably the movie, and the short ones are the music videos. You'll need to try a few to get the right one, or pick rip them all.
Fourth, pick the right VOBs, and extract/rip appropriate ones to your HD.

The VOBs can be played by most media players, including BSPlayer, but if you want to go one step further... Use a converter to "transcode" it such as DVDx (which will transcode from VOB to MPG) or any other tool you want, to create the ultimate result. Enjoy!