This article will show you how to use your BlackBerry device to connect a Windows notebook or desktop computer to the Web.

A tethered modem lets you access the Internet with your laptop computer anywhere there’s cellular data coverage. Forget about lengthy Wi-Fi hotspot login processes and usage fees.

If you have a BlackBerry 7130v, Pearl, Curve or 8800 series device it can be employed as a tethered modem – though charges for data may vary, so check that before you proceed.

1. Download and install RIM BlackBerry Desktop Software

The first step to connecting your Windows notebook or desktop computer to the Internet using your BlackBerry smartphone’s data connection: download the BlackBerry Desktop Software from RIM’s website or the CD that came with your device. You’ll need software version 4.1 or higher to use your BlackBerry as a tethered modem.

This software ensures that you’ve got the appropriate drivers to enable your BlackBerry to use your computer’s USB and virtual COM ports to upload and download Internet data via dial-up connection.

If you find that you’re already running an earlier version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager that doesn’t support tethering, simply download the updated software from RIM. You may to need repair the software after upgrading from v4.0 to v4.1 if the necessary USB and virtual COM ports can’t be found. To do so, simply re-install and select the Repair option.

2. Create Web Access Point Name (APN)

Open up your Windows Start Menu and find your Control Panel, within your Settings. Open up your Phone and Modem Options, and specify your local area code, carrier code (if necessary) and numbers that you may need to dial to access outside lines. Then choose whether or not your use a touch tone or pulse telephone connection and hit OK.

From there, select the Modems tab, highlight Standard Modems and click the Properties tab beneath the option. Once the Properties window opens, click on the Advanced tab at the top of the box and in the Extra Initialization Commands field type:

+cgdcont=1,”IP”,” Your Internet APN”

(Note: If you don’t know your Internet Access Point Name (APN), you can contact your wireless carrier’s customer support representatives. Or you can try to find your APN by clicking the Options icon on your BlackBerry Applications screen, then Advanced Options, and TCP. If the Internet APN name has been saved within the device, it will be listed in this menu. A good old Google search never hurts, either.)

Click OK once you’ve filled in the Extra Initialization Commands field and hit OK again when the Phone and Modem Options tab reappears.

3. Setup Dial-Up Networking Connection (process depends on which Windows OS you use)

Windows XP users: Open up your Windows Start menu, mouse over the Connect To option and then click Show All Connections. In the Network Tasks box in the right-hand margin, click Create a New Connection to launch the New Connection Wizard. From there, click Next, choose the Connect to the Internet option and hit Next again. Pick Setup My Connection Manually and hit Next again. Select Connect Using a Dialup Modem, hit Next. Select the Standard Modem option on the Select a Device screen, hit Next again. Within the ISP Name box, type a name for your connection (Carrier name, for example) and once again click Next. In the Phone Number field type *99#, and then select whether the connection is for you alone or for others, as well.

You’ll then be prompted for the User Name and Password provided by your wireless carrier upon signing up for the tethered modem service. (If you don’t know your User Name or Password, contact your service provider. Again, performing a Google search might help, as well) After you’ve filled in the appropriate information, click Finish to close the window and open the Connect window. (Some default User Names and Passwords can also be found online.)

When you’ve successfully created a new connection and the Connect window appears, hit the Properties tab at the bottom and ensure that the Standard Modem box is checked and highlighted. Then choose Configure. Check the Enable Hardware Flow Control box, make sure none of the other boxes are checked and then hit OK. When you return to your connection Properties box, hit OK again.

Windows Vista and Windows 2000 users: See additional information on how to configure connections for Windows Vista and Windows 2000 on RIM’s site.

4. Connect your laptop/desktop to the Internet via BlackBerry

Attach your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer via the USB sync cable that came with your device (or a comparable cable) and launch the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Open your Windows Start menu, choose the Connect To option and click the name of your new Network Connection. Enter your User Name and Password if you haven’t saved it, click Dial, and you’re good to go

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Survey your backup needs, and think about what you have that is ‘live’ data, your ongoing, working library of files, versus what is archival data, files that don’t require changes or additions. Live data might include your collection of digital music and your business documents, while archival data might include your digital photos from the past five years. Think about whether you want all of your data to reside in a single place, or whether you want to spread your backups across multiple devices. Also consider your habits: Do you need prompting to back up, or do you want to invoke a backup at will?

Having evaluated your files and needs, you can better decide on a backup strategy, and on which combination of technologies makes sense for you. You’ll likely settle on a strategy that encompasses various devices and services, selected from among USB flash drives, external hard drives, network-attached storage, and online backup.

Many hardware devices now include a backup utility as a matter of course; but whether you’ll find that backup utility (be it a separate application or one that’s integrated with the drive) useful will depend in part on the backup approach you’ve chosen. Do you want to back up all of your files? Or are you aiming to do larger, more-current sets while leaving the file archive to reside on a NAS or on a dedicated 1TB hard drive attached to your system?

Various software programs, including traditional backup programs such as NovaStor NovaBackup Professional, EMC Retrospect Backup, and NTI Backup 5 Advanced, will find specific file types on your hard drive and back up those file types per your instructions. But it helps to devise an organised structure for the files on your hard drive; that way, you know exactly where to begin when you establish a backup routine in the aforementioned software, or if you ever do a quick-and-dirty manual backup (in which you simply drag and drop files from one drive to another within Windows Explorer).

Rebit Disk Drive Backup is even simpler to use. Just plug in the drive, give the built-in software permission to back up, and off it goes, continually protecting you in the background. By the end of January, the drive’s software will get an update that supports managing backups for up to six PCs to a single drive (a good setup for people backing up smaller sets of data, but not for users who have multiple PCs packed with multimedia collections). The company also now offers its easy-to-use software on CD, for use with any external hard drive.

Memeo’s Autobackup software and NTI’s Shadow are competing stand-alone applications that you can buy for real-time file backup; they can require more intervention on your part, however, than either Clickfree (which is not real-time backup) or Rebit (which is real-time, much like the Apple Time Capsule for Mac OS computers).

USB flash drives are ubiquitous, but nowadays 4GB is a baseline
capacity, not the high end. And larger capacities, 16GB or 32GB and
greater, are becoming more commonplace.

The benefits to
using a flash drive can be multifold. You can store your files, perhaps
both your critical documents and your multimedia files, on a drive the
size of your index finger and you can keep your data close to you, in
your pocket or on a keychain. Many drives offer software encryption and
password protection; still more include a file-synchronization utility.
The SanDisk Cruzer Titanium Plus goes one step further by letting you sync the drive with Web-based storage.

SanDisk is going all out, however, with its newest offering,
the SanDisk UltraBackup USB Flash Drive. The drive is expected in
April, in capacities of 8GB to 64GB. It has a retractable USB connector
that slides inside, so you needn’t worry about caps (or cables, as you
would with an external hard drive). The integrated software requires no
installation; instead, it just asks you for the file types you want to
back up, and it initiates a backup when you plug the drive in; a button
on the unit lets you launch a backup, too.

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As a computer tech guy, two things that I find very important is the
speed of solving a computer problem and also convenience. I don’t want
to be wasting the whole day trying to solve one problem and the
customer sees me as unprofessional. Convenience in a way I don’t want
to tire myself in opening up dirty and dusty computer case, swapping
hard drives and etc. Very frequently I had to reinstall Windows for people. One very common annoying problem that I always face is the user lost his license sticker and I had to spend more time in retrieving the genuine Windows product key. There are a few ways to do it and most of them involves me having access to another working computer. For example, taking out the hard drive and fix it to a working machine, load the registry and retrieve the product key.  Or I can boot up PCRegedit, load the registry
and then decrypt the key from a working computer. All those steps are
very time consuming and troublesome.

I tried very hard to look for a linux live CD that can retrieve thewindows-license-sticker
license key but I couldn’t find one. But here’s my opinion on the simplest and most convenient way to retrieve XP or Vista product key from an unbootable machine.

All I need to do is set up a UBCD4Win livecd, boot up the computer with
it and run either Joshua’s Key Reader or Keyfinder. Setting up UBCD4Win
could take a while, so here’s a guide on how to create your UBCD4Win
livecd.

1. Download UBCD4Win (250+MB) and install it on your computer.

2. Run UBCD4Win.

3. You need to select the source at UBCD4Win. Insert Windows XP
installation disc and select your CD drive. If you don’t have Windows
XP installation disc but your manufacturer provides a i386 folder in
your C drive, then select C:\i386

ubcd4win-keyfinder

4. Insert a blank CD, select Burn to CD/DVD and click Build. The whole process should take a while so go have a coffee.

Now to recover Windows product key, all you need to do is boot up
the unbootable computer with UBCD4Win. Follow the instructions until
you get to a part where it looks like Windows. Go to Start >
Programs > System Information > Info. and Diag. Tools > You
can either use Joshua’s Key Reader or Keyfinder

A. If you run Keyfinder, go to Tools > Load Hive… and select the Windows folder which is normally at C:\Windows and the genuine Windows Key will be display at the right pane.

B. If you run Joshua’s Key Reader, click the Read Remote Key button. Same thing as above, select Windows folder which is normally at C:\Windows. The Windows Product Key will be shown.

This method confirm to work on Windows XP and Vista 32-bit because I’ve
tested it. See, all it took is one CD to do the job. Don’t need to have
access on another working computer to decrypt the ProductID, or the
hassle of taking out the hard drive and fixing on another computer. I
noticed something weird on my Acer laptop running Windows Vista. The
product key that is retrieved from the registry hive is different from
the license sticker at the bottom of the laptop and I am very sure that
the Vista is installed from the recovery partition. Anybody knows
anything about this?

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Modern PCs incorporate a power-management standard called the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI), which allows the operating system, BIOS, and hardware to cooperate in reducing power consumption. ACPI defines several global power and sleeping states; our chart below lists the relevant ACPI states and corresponding Windows XP/Vista modes, along with the power used by each mode on the example system.

You’ve probably put your laptop into hibernation or sleep hundreds of times, but people typically ignore these features on desktops. As the chart shows, power use in the S3 state (Standby in XP, and Sleep in Vista) is nearly equal to that used when the PC is powered off. The S3 state drops PC power down to 10 watts or less when idle even if the system consumes considerably more power than average while active. Unfortunately, most PCs I encounter are not configured to use this mode. Some older boards and peripherals may not play nice with S3, sound cards being particularly troublesome.

To tweak power management settings in Windows XP and Vista, open the Power Options applet in Control Panel. The three preset schemes are:

  • Turn off monitor and/or hard disks only
  • Standby/Sleep mode
  • Hibernate mode

While Hibernate mode uses the least amount of power, it takes the longest time to suspend and resume, which involves writing and reading the entire contents of RAM to and from the hard disk (using a file named hiberfil.sys). The more RAM you have, the longer the process takes. On the other hand, the Standby/Sleep mode (S3) uses only slightly more power than Hibernate does, yet its suspend and resume times are virtually instantaneous no matter how much RAM is installed.

A BIOS setting called ACPI Suspend Type, ACPI Suspend State, or something similar controls which sleep state (S1 or S3) Windows uses. Many systems are set to S1 by default, which keeps the CPU and RAM powered. Enter your BIOS, navigate to the Power Management menu, and change the ACPI Suspend setting to S3, which cuts power to the CPU and RAM. The screen shot on the first page shows this setting on a Phoenix/Award BIOS. Enable any settings labeled ‘USB KB Wake-Up From S3’ (the wording varies), and set the Power On Function to Any Key to let the keyboard and mouse wake the PC from standby.

Change Settings to Conserve PC Energy

Depending on the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) settings in your PC’s BIOS, the machine may be running up your energy bill even when you’re not using it. Click the icon below to see our chart describing different levels of power consumption.

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Shutting down your PC at the end of the day is so 20th century. What you probably should be doing is putting it into sleep mode. You’ll save that interminable wait for your system to boot up, and it won’t destroy the Earth or your bank account with a dramatic change in energy usage. Allow me to illustrate.

I have a fairly high-end system at home. It’s a Core i7 920 based PC with 6GB of RAM, a high-end GeForce card (sometimes it’s a Radeon, I go back and forth), and a reasonably quick Seagate 7200.10 hard drive. I’m running the final release of Windows 7. This is how long it takes me to shut down and boot:

Shutdown: 0:16

Boot: 1:06

Shutting down is pretty fast, but booting up is painfully slow. Bear in mind, this is what I call “true” boot-up time. It the time from when I press the power button to when I’m at a usable desktop (where you can actually click on things and get a response). Like your system probably is, it’s not totally clean. I have Dropbox and my antivirus software loading at boot. Here’s the numbers to go into sleep mode, and wake from sleep:

Sleep: 0:18

Wake: 0:02

That’s right two seconds to get to a truly usable desktop waking from sleep mode. Shutting down takes a couple seconds longer, but waking my computer up is almost instantaneous. Not to mention that I can wake up my PC by tapping the keyboard, instead of reaching down to press a small power button.

But what about power, you ask? Am I running up my power bill? As long as your system BIOS supports the S3 ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) mode, no. The S1 mode leaves the CPU and RAM powered up, the S3 mode powers those down. Our article from a couple years ago on how to check and change your BIOS sleep state is still relevant. My high-end system uses some 120-130 watts just sitting at the desktop (not including monitor), and uses 1 watt when powered off (most computers draw a very small amount of power, even when off, so they can do things like turn on when you press the power button). In sleep mode, my system draws a whopping 5 watts. Five. What does that different of 4 watts mean to you?

My computer is running a lot more than the average person’s, so let’s just suppose your system is turned off 16 hours a day. That 4W difference works out to a whopping 1.92 killowatt-hours (kWh) per month. According to the Department of Energy, the average price for electricity in the U.S. is 11.59 cents per kWh, so sleep mode costs you 22.2 cents per month. The average home in the U.S. uses 936 kWh per month, so 16 hours of sleep mode a day would be a 0.21% increase in monthly power usage. That’s what we call a “rounding error.”

Of course, some systems use a little more power in sleep mode, but it’s almost always under 10W. We have more on how to change the function of your computer’s power button here. You probably don’t want hibernate mode, which dumps the contents of your PC’s RAM to the hard disk and then power off your PC, so you can resume right where you left off (with programs open and so on). With the large amount of RAM in today’s systems, this can be a pretty slow option.

You should also make sure your BIOS and Windows are both up to date. Sleep mode has been finicky in the past, but motherboard manufacturers and Microsoft have worked out most of the kinks by now. If you don’t update your BIOS and OS, it might not work right.

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How to Ghost a Computer

August 12, 2009

“Ghosting” a computer means creating a clone of its contents so that they may be transferred to a different hard drive. It’s not strictly the same as copying, but rather a means of accessing files and software without having to go through all of the trouble of reinstalling them. You typically ghost a computer as part of an upgrade to a larger hard drive.

Set up 2 hard drives, the one you intend to ghost and the new one onto which the cloned files will be placed.

Check to ensure that the destination hard drive can accommodate all of the software you wish to ghost and that the two hard drives are compatible

Select the proper software to use when you ghost your computer. Some, such as Symantec Ghost and Acronis True Image, are commercially available, while others like Carbon Copy Cloner and DriveImage may be downloaded for free (see Resources below)

Install the ghosting software onto the hard drive you intend to ghost. Specifics will vary depending on the software you are using. Check to ensure that it is running properly before you ghost the computer.

Boot up the ghosting software and select the drive with the partition or files you wish to ghost. The exact steps will depend on the particular type of software, but it will usually ask you to select a certain series of files or a certain partition from a list. Click on the ones you wish to ghost.

Select a destination hard drive. Again, specifics will vary, but you will want to select the new hard drive where you want the files to end up, not the old drive which currently contains the files.

Choose the size of the partition or files, whether you wish to compress it or them and what name you wish to use. These details help the computer determine the parameters for your ghosting, and again, will depend on the software you are using.

Confirm that you have selected all of the files you wish to ghost, and then click “Proceed.” Depending on the software, it may give you a slightly different prompter, such as “Start Partition Dump?” or “Begin Cloning?” In each case, you should click yes.

Wait for the software to ghost your files. It should provide a final prompter when the operation is completed.

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The Web lets you search easily for the best fares and never puts you on hold for a travel agent. But beware: even if a site searches multiple airlines, it may not offer the cheapest fares possible – some sites have special deals only available to them. Investigate several sites before you purchase your tickets.

Check several computer reservation systems and online ticket brokers to find available flights and get an idea of price ranges, or click the box for “airline ticket” in the eHow shopping list and choose the “shop online” option for price information. Prices vary from broker to broker, and some have special deals.

Check an airline’s official site for any deals offered only through the airline itself. Many of the best deals are offered for flights that week.

Access the site that offers the best deal. When prompted, enter necessary information such as time and location of arrival and departure, number of passengers and flight class (first class, economy, etc.).

Notice if the site gives you a choice of delivery options. If it does, choose the one that’s best for you. If the site offers an “e-ticket” option, that’s usually best because you don’t have to pay any shipping charges or be available to receive a shipment.

Pay by credit card on a secure  server. If you’re not comfortable with online credit card transactions, you may be able to pay by check. If you can’t find any information on alternative payment methods on the site, contact the site’s administrators.

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