Disabling the Change Color Scheme Warning

By GeneralX on Wednesday 29 June 2016 09:39 - Comments (3)
Category: Solutions, Views: 1.593

If you have ever worked with Windows 7, you are probably familiar with this warning: "Do you want to change the color scheme to improve performance?". Windows will then offer you three options.
  • Disable Aero
  • Don't disable but ask again
  • Don't disable and never ask again
Yet that last option is a lie. Windows will always ask again. Even if you try to 'Change Action Center settings' and tell Windows you do not wish to receive any messages, you will still get the Color Scheme Warning. Now, I know you might think Windows probably knows best. After all, Windows can easily monitor the available resources, right? But no, Windows is actually clueless. I received this message on a daily basis while waiting for friends so send me invites to participate in Civilization V matches. My CPU would be idling while I stared at the menu. Civ5 doesn't require much GPU power and I can't remember the last time I had less than 10GB of free RAM, yet Windows keep bothering me with warnings about a lack of system resources.
The fact that Windows kept ignoring my request to never ask me this again was driving me nuts. Since I was wasting time closing the warning, I figured I might as well waste some time to search for a way to get rid of it permanently. As it turns out, I was not the first person to be annoyed by this problem. I found a solution and I figured I might share the solution with you guys. It is really quite simple. All one has to do is open regedit, browse to:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM

Create a new DWORD 'UseMachineCheck' (without the apostrophes, obviously) and set a value of 0.
Credit where credit is due: superuser thread
I know I will probably have to look this up every time I reinstall my PC, so I had to save this one way or another. I figured a blog post could also help other Tweakers, so there you go!

Windows Password Protected File Sharing

By GeneralX on Sunday 25 October 2015 16:28 - Comments (4)
Category: Solutions, Views: 2.917

The Goal was to share folders with other machines on the same LAN, but restricting the access permissions. As it turned out, this process is not at all obvious. The intention of this post is to store the proper method for later reference, not just by me, but also by the people that I will refer to this post and by other people that read Tweakblogs.

There are multiple ways to approach the sharing process. One of those methods involves the despicable HomeGroup. This method I will ignore, as it is incompatible with some versions of Windows (looking at you, XP).
My preferred choice is to create a new password-protected user account on the machine with the shared folder. The account credentials can be shared with those people that need access without creating scary HomeGroups. On W8 and later, user accounts are (often) linked to online IDs (ex. hotmail accounts) during installation. It is possible to log in with these online IDs as well as user account names. On earlier Windows versions, linking an online ID is optional (and I could not confirm that it works for Windows XP).
To use this method of sharing, it is important that both the host and the guest have set their preferences properly. This is done in the Network and Sharing Center (or Centre, depending on your localisation localization). Technically, it is not necessary for all the options to be turned on, although it is easier to just enable all the options under Advanced Sharing settings. Public folders and media streaming are not necessary. For the host, Network discovery is not technically necessary, but it does not hurt to enable it. 'File and printer sharing' and 'Password protected sharing' should obviously be enabled if you want to do password protected file sharing. 128-bit Encryption is recommended. The last option is very important: Windows cannot be allowed to manage the HomeGroup connections! User accounts and passwords must be used to connect to other computers using user accounts. These settings should be used on all computers that want to share a certain file or folder.

Now it is time to select the files and/or folders that should be shared. This too can be done in multiple ways. One of those can be disabled in settings, so it is a good idea to check that: go to Folder Options, View tab and make sure that Use Sharing Wizard is unchecked. If it is not checked, excellent! If it is, uncheck it. This Wizard is limited in its functions and we are Power Users after all. The proper method to share a file or folder is by right-clicking it, choose Share with..., Advanced Sharing. In this menu, check the box Share this folder. You can choose a name for the shared folder, which is the name that will be displayed when people browse the Network through the explorer. Adding a $ behind the name will hide it from the explorer. The value of this tool is purely esthetic, the folder will still be accessible to everyone with the proper credentials by browsing to the path directly (either by folder name or local IP).

Of course, we do have to set Permissions. Add the local user account of which you shared the credentials and set its Permissions. If you are lazy, you can click Advanced and let Windows Find all the accounts that exist on your location. Since it is possible for the local administrator to access all folders locally, it might not be necessary to add the group Administrators to the list. I find it convenient to be able to access my shared folders from my admin account by browsing through Network.
For every object that is added to the list, you can change the Permissions. To make sure that people do not use my hard drive to store their pr0n important data, I set the permissions to Read only.

The shared folder can now be accessed from anywhere in the Network, provided that they have the credentials. Should you have issues with network discovery remember that shard folders can always be accessed by directly giving the proper path (ex. \\ComputerName\Shared Folder or 192.168.1.x).

Written proof of my update settings

By GeneralX on Thursday 8 October 2015 17:41 - Comments (9)
Category: Solutions, Views: 2.583

Today it happened. The thing that I knew that would come. Windows 7 kindly changed my settings for me and unhid KB3035583, KB2952664 and KB3083710. Furthermore, I was pretty sure I had set Windows Update to "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them", but suddenly it got set to "Download updates but let me choose whether to install them".

'Why does this matter?', one might ask. That indicates that 'one' is not familiar with the KB numbers of these updates. These updates are the dreaded ones with vague descriptions that make the Windows 10 Upgrade pop-up pop up. KB3035583 is an especially bad one because it is automatically installed if you are unlucky: its importance is listed on some PCs as 'Recommended' and 'Recommended' updates can be treated as 'Important' if one was silly enough to leave that setting enabled. Apparently, I am unlucky and have been silly. And, as it turns out, I am no longer the supreme ruler of my own PC.

'Okay, so what? Did you write this post just to tell us about your problems?', one might reply. Well, no. This post has 2 goals but bothering people with my problems was not one of them. That is more of a side effect.
Goal #1 is to make sure I am not crazy. I was 99.9% sure about my update settings, but this post will serve as written proof of my settings. I want to be asked before anything gets downloaded and have adjusted the settings accordingly. The second goal is to make a quick list of updates that I will never install on my main PC:

KB2952664 - "Makes improvements to the current operating system in order to ease the upgrade experience to the latest version of Windows." Whatever that means, I do not need it for I will not be upgrading.
KB2990214 - Labelled as 'Important', but for reasons unknown. It is an 'update that supports you to upgrade to a later version of Windows' and supposedly does some other things that Windows will not elaborate on. I have not been offered this upgrade but I do not want it anymore.
UPDATE: KB2990214 has been superseded by KB3050265
KB3021917 - Should be checking for compatibility issues (EDIT: as in, it should be checking compatibility of W10 with the machine). Fails miserably, my main PC is incompatible but it does not detect that fact (probably because it is only incompatible due to AMD's Crossfire and Eyefinity).
KB3035583 - The big bad wolf.

EDIT 16-10-2015:
The rabbit hole goes deeper. This was posted today on the Tweakers frontpage. Not only does Windows automatically change your update settings, it then proceeds to install a new OS on your machine without asking for permission. If that does not qualify as invasive, I do not know what would. Maybe, if the compatibility test was failproof, I could accept this as a 'regular update', but this can pretty much break a setup. Fortunately, this was just an accident. An honest mistake. O-)

NoFaTe/Outcome VS EA/Origin

By GeneralX on Monday 4 May 2015 22:36 - Comments (7)
Category: Solutions, Views: 2.117

Probably the shortest post that I will ever write, is about Outcome. As a gamer, I find Origin redundant, slow and annoying. Plus, it crashes a lot, which in turn crashes games that rely on it. I'd rather not use it.
To prevent Origin, you should run Outcome before starting a game that uses Origin. Fill in your account details, leave it running and play your game. You can download Outcome here. I forget the name of this program a lot. Hence this post. You can read more from the person behind Outcome on his blog.

Since I do not run Origin anymore, I do not know whether there are bugs caused specifically by Outcome. I do know this:
Whenever I quit a Battlefield 4 server, Battlefield crashes and I have to manually shut it down with the Task Manager.
Whenever I use Firefox to run the Battlelog plugin, play Battlefield 4 and then try to browse the internet, Firefox crashes. Causing the plugin to stop, which in turn causes Battlefield to crash.
Probably, both these crashes occur normally when running with Origin, but I mentioned them here for completeness sake.

My very first Chinastore experience

By GeneralX on Monday 4 May 2015 18:39 - Comments (8)
Category: Rants, Views: 2.996

Here goes: my first post on this weblog. I tried to write two of those before, but they failed in early stages. Mostly because I could not reproduce the problems and/or the solutions (thanks to AMD). So the first post will be a rant. So be it. Also, it will not include much of my personal information. I know that you don't care about that, you just want to be amused or informed.


Slightly longer than two months ago, I decided to buy a new phone. The old one, my Jiayu G3, still works great but it is starting to fall apart. It has been almost 3 years since I bought this phone through Tweakers Vraag en Aanbod. The back cover is only kept in place by the protective case and the battery life is slowly reducing. (Actually, for such an old phone, the battery life of 36hrs is very nice :X ) So do I really need a new phone? I don't care, I just want a new phone and I do not have to defend my decisions here!

In my mind, my list of demands was short. After 5 minutes of Pricewatching I started to realise I might actually be very picky. Or maybe it is really hard to make a phone like the Jiayu G3 these days, let a lone a better one. Just for the sake of completeness, here is my list of demands:
  • 720p screen with screen diagonal of 4.5"-5.0"
  • One-hand operation (no longer than 150mm in my case)
  • SD-card expansion
  • Battery capacity equal to or exceeding 2700 mAh
  • Maximum price of 200 euro
  • Android
The Pricewatch only provides 1 (one) choice: the Acer E700 Liquid.
One choice means no choice. I want to have a choice. I need to feel like I am in control. I realised I might have to find a Pricewatch dedicated to smartphones.

5 minutes on Kimovil made me realise that it was not my fault; I am not picky! :z
At the time, the Elephone P6000 caught my eye. The battery was slightly smaller than my old phone, but all other specifications were acceptable. The most important thing: it was available at a Chinese webstore that I had actually heard of before I came to Kimovil: DealeXtreme. I trusted this website, for I had heard of many Tweakers who bought their stuff there. Some friends at the university had purchased electronics there. I even had an account there, even though I never ordered there before.

On the 2nd of March, I placed my order. On the 10th of March, my order was fully shipped. On the 16th of March (according to PostNL International Parcel Tracking), my order arrived at a sorting office in China.
The support desk at DX.com has a FAQ, where it mentions the question "My package has not arrived 20 days after payment". So on the 22nd of March I opened a ticket and asked the people at DX.com if they could give me an ETA of my package. The extremely polite, extremely quick response came a few hours later: I might have to wait a little bit longer, usually it should take at most 25 business days after the payment was received. Fine by me, my Jiayu G3 still works and the battery life is not bad.

On the 8th of April, I wrote to the Support that my package had been on its way for 26 business days, but that the tracking information had not changed since the 16th of March. I thanked them for their patience, their fast reply and apologised for bothering them again. I told them I was worrying a little bit and asked if everything was going as planned. The super polite, super fast reply was that they would start an 'investigation' into my package and its whereabouts.

On the 19th of April, I wrote to the Support that I appreciated their quick replies, but that 'investigation' sounded very serious to me. I asked the Support how their investigation was going. The reply came very fast and it was very polite. After asking for my forgiveness, it mentioned that my package had been lost in transit. I was presented with 3 options:
  • Receive the price of my order in Store Credit
  • Reship my order
  • Refund of my purchase
I really wanted this particular phone, so I chose option 2 and asked for reshipping. The reply was swift and polite: a new order had been made, marked as 'urgent' and would be shipped ASAP. The support ticket was closed after this message and I was asked to: rate my communication with the polite guy from Support that never sleeps; and rate my shopping experience. From my point of view, the shopping experience had not been completed, so I did not give my ratings yet. This took place on the 21st of April.

The FAQ of DX.com also mentions the option: 'My order has not been shipped 7 business days after payment.' So on the 3rd of May I wrote to the Support that I was very pleased with their support so far, but that my order had not been shipped yet. The FAQ said that there could be several reasons for this, but only 1 could possibly apply in this situation: the product was out of stock. I told the Support that I found this unlikely, since I was told that my order would be shipped with great urgency. If the product had been out of stock at the time, surely someone would have mentioned this before I chose from the 3 previously mentioned options? So I expected that the status had not been updated and wondered if the staff could give my an ETA of my package.

The kind reply came very quickly: the product was indeed out of stock, so I was given two options:
  • Receive the price of my order in Store Credit
  • Refund of my purchase
At this point, I was very confused. The product page of my phone had clearly stated: ships within 7-10 business days and it still does at the time of writing (4th of May). Clearly, 11 business days had passed since the 21st of April. so the package should have shipped already.
I replied the Support that the current price of the Elephone P6000 was quite a bit lower (more than 20 dollars, which is close to 20 euros these days) and that I would therefore like to receive the price of my order in Store Credit. However, I would only use this to buy the Elephone P6000 again and save 20 dollars. I suggested that they simply transfer the price difference and continue the shipping process of my current order.

Dear diary, if I were given the option to rate the shopping experience, I would give the lowest possible score. I had never ordered from China before, but I am starting to feel I should have bought the Acer.

Update: The reply from DX came quickly and was very polite. It pointed out that my product had just been shipped, my order status had been updated to Fully Shipped and the staff wondered if I had changed my mind about the refund. As a matter of fact, I had.
What I deduced is that the product was not really out of stock. I don't like speculating, so I won't, but I am left in a somewhat suspicious mood after these events.