Recording what you hear in Windows 7

At first glance, it may look like Microsoft disabled recording of internal—or “what you hear”—sounds in Windows 7. Well, they didn’t. It’s a little trickier, granted, but this is (often) a quick fix.

To enable it:
1. Right click on the speaker icon in the system tray (bottom right).
2. Choose Recording Devices
3. In the empty white space, right-click and choose Show Disabled Devices. You should see Stereo Mix appear in the list.
4. Right click on Stereo Mix and choose Enable.
5. Right click on Stereo Mix again, and choose Set as Default Device.

Now you can record anything you hear through your speakers. If you don’t have a program that can record audio, you can get a nice one called Audacity over here. (It’s free!)

Update 1:

I have a SoundBlaster card and this isn’t working!

As near as I can tell, this is a driver issue. In XP/Vista, the driver supported a “What U Hear” mode, which they seem to have axed since, or at least jacked with.

Since there are a variety of Sound Blaster cards and a slew of different driver sets, the best I can do is give you a list of things to try. Each of these options has worked for at least one person I know.

Option 1: Manually uninstall your drivers, then reinstall.

  1. Mash your Start Ball (start menu) and type in Device Manager
  2. Click the arrow next to Sound, video, and game controllers
  3. Find your SB card, then right click on it and choose Uninstall

Now there are two ways to proceed. First, try simply restarting your computer and let Windows 7 try to install the driver for you. There’s a chance you’re done at this point. If not, run Windows Update and let Windows 7 find and install the latest driver.

Option 2: Manually reinstall your drivers from your CD.
Apparently, the automatic installer on many of these driver CDs is doing it wrong. To manually install the driver…

  1. Insert your driver disc—but don’t let it do anything for you! Close any installers it opens.
  2. Mash your Start Ball (start menu) and type in Device Manager
  3. Click the arrow next to Sound, video, and game controllers
  4. Find your SB card, then right click on it and choose Update Driver Software…
  5. Click on Browse my computer for driver software
  6. Browse to your CD. Look for a “drivers” folder, and then find a sub-folder that fits your computer (64-bit or 32-bit). Install using those drivers and restart. If it still doesn’t work, you might have picked the wrong one (especially if your card stops working altogether). You might want to try a different driver from your disc.

Option 3: is to specifically locate SB24_VTDRV_LB_1_04_0065A.exe (if you have an Audigy, SE/LS/Live!24-bit). This version is outdated, but is known to have the “What U Hear” function.

Update 2:

Possibly Major Caveat

Since originally posting this, I’ve learned that some RealTek chipsets simply don’t support Stereo Mix, meaning you will likely never get this to work without another card, or some serious kludgery. More info as it becomes available.

Fix iTunes 10 vertical control buttons

iTunes 10. Good stuff. But I’m really surprised that Apple — who are known for their design expertise — would not only violate a well-known design convention, but their own well-known design convention with those stoplight control buttons. It may seem like a simple annoyance, but multiply it by 1000 times over the course of a week or a month, and you have a fairly irritating problem.

Fortunately, putting those buttons back the way they should be is pretty easy. (Mac only)

1. Close iTunes if it’s open.
2. Open up Terminal.
3. Copy/paste this line into it:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes full-window -1
4. Mash Enter.

Done. Re-open iTunes and enjoy.

Wallpaper Won’t Change on Windows 7?

We have Windows 7 Home Premium 3-bit on one computer and suddenly couldn’t change the wallpaper. This seems to be a problem out there. There can be various ways to fix it. This one worked for us:

  1. Hit the Start ball
  2. Type “adjust appearance”
  3. A link called “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows” will appear. Click that.
  4. Toggle the top check box “Animate controls and elements inside windows”

 

Worked for us. Your actual mileage may vary.

Video Cables Demystified!

Let’s face it—there are way too many different types of cables. I get asked fairly often what they’re all for, and do we even need them all? It’s really not as complicated as it seems—sort of. Anyway, let’s get to work and untangle that mess behind your TV!

Before we get too deep into it, we need to define the terms digital and analog.

Digital? Analog? Huh?
You’re probably already pretty familiar with these, even if you might not be familiar with the terms. Digital is the language of computers, everything is transmitted in ones and zeros. When it comes to certain applications like video, digital allows us to get much higher quality than the alternative.

Analog is different from digital in that it is a wave form, a steady flow of signal. The way the signals or waves change as they move dictates what happens on our screens or comes out of our radios.

Digital and analog signals

Though it might seem like it, analog is not necessarily inferior to digital. Each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. But when it comes to video, digital is king!

On to the cables!
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, check out this chart. It shows the most common video cables and ranks them by the quality of video you’ll get by using them.
Chart ranking cables by picture quality

In addition to those, there’s a couple more that don’t quite fit into a set place on the Scale of Awesomeness:
Computer cables

Now, there’s something else you should know. Some people/retailers will try to convince you that you need to spend a great deal on “high quality” cables. While it is true that you want good ones, they should never cost you an arm and a leg. A great place to get cables at actually reasonable prices is www.monoprice.com.

Get rid of annoying “Open File Security Warning” on Windows and Mac OSX

Okay, so the thing about downloading a file is that you usually know that you downloaded it. Because you did that. You downloaded it. Intentionally. On purpose. And now, when you open it, Windows or OSX feels that it needs to remind you that you downloaded it.

Goodness, I find that annoying–especially when it’s my own file or script that I created, or it’s a Microsoft program that Windows is telling you to be careful of, because who knows where a file like that could have come from?

Alright, enough ranting. Let’s get rid of those messages.

Windows

This should work in XP, but I’ve only tested it in Vista and Windows 7.

1. Open the Control Panel, and choose Internet Options

2. Under the Security tab, click the button labeled Custom Level. In the box that appears, scroll down until you find a section called Miscellaneous

3. Find Launching applications and unsafe files and set it to Enable (not secure)

Windows and Internet Explorer will now freak out as if you’ve just agreed to download every virus ever created. Let’s fix that, too.

4. In the system tray (bottom right corner of screen) click on Open the Action Center. There will be a box about security issues and a link about not giving you warnings. Click that link.

5. Now go to Start, Run, and type in gpedit.msc

6. Under the Computer Configuration list, choose the Administrative Templates folder, then Windows Components, and Internet Explorer

7. Search through the list and find Turn off the Security Settings Check. Set that to Enabled.

 

Mac OSX:

I’ve tested this on Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion. And it’s super easy. Open Terminal and paste this:

defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool false

Done. Nice ‘n easy.

 

Let me finish by saying that I understand the theoretical merits of these warnings. And I’m sure they’re useful for some people. What I see happening where I work is a whole bunch of people desensitized to warning messages in general because they’re exposed to so many of them. I myself have reflexively clicked right through several actually important message boxes because I’ve been trained to see any little box in the middle of the screen as a waste of my time. By disabling these file warnings on all of my computers, I hope to un-train myself to think that, and actually pay attention to the ones I still get.

Displaying WordPress Pages Like Posts

Sometimes, you just wish you could list your WP pages more like posts. I wanted not just a list of them, but with some kind of excerpt. Here’s how I did it:
[code lang=”php”]
get_results(“SELECT * FROM $wpdb->posts WHERE post_type = ‘page’ ORDER BY menu_order”, ‘OBJECT’);

if ( $thePages ) : foreach ( $thePages as $pageData ) : setup_postdata( $pageData );
?>

post_title”; ?>

post_content”; ?>


[/code]

Naturally, this custom loop is showing the whole page content, and not just a traditional excerpt. I wasn’t able to get excerpts to work, but the full content was just fine for what I was working on. It would not be terribly difficult to use the PHP strlen(); function to limit the post content and simulate an excerpt.

Fixing “Cannot connect to printer error 0x0000007e”

Recently, we had some problems setting up some network printers on computers running 64-bit Vista. We could connect to the print server, but making connections to the individual printers gave us this error. Good times.

The workaround was to add the printer manually, as a local printer. To do this: Go to Control Panel > Printers > Add Printer. Then add a new local printer, using a local port. (Not TCP/IP.) For the name, put in the whole path. This will be something like: \\YourPrintServer\ThePrintersName

Now it will ask you about drivers. (Make sure you have downloaded the 64-bit drivers for your printer.) Choose Have Disk…, and browse to where you saved them. With luck, it will now ask you for what you want to call the printer on your local computer, and you’re done!

This fix worked for every computer we ran into this error for. Good luck!