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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Using TagScanner to fix up CD rips with no title /album /artist information

TagScanner is an incredible useful program for fixing up MP3 information, including title, album, and artist, among other items. What's even better, it can even build up information from a bad CD rip, like when you ripped a CD with no Internet connection, so you got "unknown album" "no title" "unknown artist", and so on. Let me show you how to do that.

Prerequisite: you will need to download and install TagScanner first, of course. As of this writing, the latest version is 5.0.525

This is TagScanner's main screen. 

We need to fix up the tags first, so go into Tag Processor by clicking on the TAG Processor tab.

Select the directory that contains the badly ripped album with the bottom dialog. Click on the folder icon to browse, then select the right-arrow to read the directory. If that is your main music directory, hit the + button so the path will be saved in the drop-down.

Now select the ENTIRE album with the bad rip in the left half. In this sample screen, that'd be the bottom one. Though yours will likely have more songs in it, like 8-12 songs. Make sure the upper right corner, "disc" is set to 2, which means the track number is 2 digits (09 instead of just 9).

Select the choice on the right side to look up the entire album via FreeDB or

Once you got the disc ID, the album, artist, and song titles should be populated automatically.

Now go to "Music Renamer" tab. Then on the right select a filename "mask" (or format). I usually use %track% %artist% - %title% for the actual files, and use %artist% - %album% for the subdirectory.

Now hit "Preview..." in lower right to test the action. if you are satisfied, hit "rename" to commit the changes. Else, play with the tags on individual files to correct any typos.

If you don't like the format of the filename, edit your own in the mask patterns. Remember to "save it" if you want to recall them later (usually to reuse, or re-edit).


Sunday, November 16, 2008

When in doubt, "reset the BIOS"!

This is from personal experience.

I have a Sony VAIO laptop I've been using for about a month. It was quite reliable... Until one night. I closed the cover and put it in my bag. About an hour later I took it back out... It resumed... To a blue screen of death. Then it rebooted, and after that the trackpad no longer works. Device manager says it's not working. Deleted the device, and it's as if that device no longer exists... can't be detected any more. However, reboot, and it's there again. :P

I tried all sorts of things... Reloaded drivers (from the Sony "Download Taxi" support site, and the onboard recovery partition), deleted and uninstalled the device, then added it back... to system restore a couple different restore points. Nothing worked. The only thing I did NOT do is reset the BIOS.

What do I mean by reset the BIOS? On this model of Sony VAIO, you hit F2 a couple times as you boot up, and you'll get into the BIOS setup screen. Even though there's nothing here to set except boot order and date/time, do a "load default values" and "save and exit" may just cure your ills.

It did with mine, but I had to call two different Sony techs to get that solution. Doh! After that BIOS reset the trackpad is working again.

So... before you call in the big guns, try resetting the BIOS. It may save you a tech support call.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Q: I am using Windows Vista, and somehow my battery meter (in the tray/notification area) that indicates battery/AC, and let me switch power schemes, is GONE! How do you turn it back on?

Usually, you just turn it back on by right-click the taskbar, go into Properties, and in the "notification" tab, you make sure the "power" choice is checked.

However, in some cases, that is grayed out. Usually, that means something had disabled it. Try the following steps (warning: this involves messing with the registry!)

On the other hand, I've found an excellent alternative app that shows much more info about your battery, power, and system info. It's called BattStat

Monday, November 10, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 29: (FILES) A Comp USA...Image by Getty Images via DaylifeQ: I use Norton Utilities. I found that there are a lot of weird files in my C:\RECYCLER\NPROTECT\, filenames that ends with a period, which are "illegal" in Windows, but they are there, and they are taking up several GIGABYTES of space. I tried emptying Norton Recycler Bin but that doesn't work. What do I do now?

A proven fix is a program called "DelInvFile". This program deletes file by going through UNC, so no files can hide from it. You can wipe out the entire NPROTECT subdirectory. Norton will simply recreate it. It'll take several minutes to wipe out all those small files, but in the end you'll get all those gigabytes back. Don't worry about "evaluation period" and all that.

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