Free Stuff: Unlocker – Delete stuff even when Windows gets huffy

Free stuff is great. Useful free stuff is even better.

Even seen any of the following messages from Windows when you try to delete something?

  • Cannot delete Folder: It is being used by another person or program.
  • Cannot delete file: Access is denied.
  • There has been a sharing violation.
  • The source or destination file may be in use.
  • The file is in use by another program or user.
  • Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.

Yes? Irritating isn’t it, especially when you know you’ve finished with the file and Explorer doesn’t.

Unlocker adds an option to the right-click that allows you to see directly which programs are holding locks on that file and gives you the option of forcibly unlocking the file allowing you to delete it.

I have used this a lot myself, it is a great utility. You can download the latest version and see more information on the author’s Unlocker page.

Windows XP Home to Vista printer sharing problem

HP OfficeJet V40 on Windows XP Home. Vista laptop. Let’s share the printer. Should be easy enough.

Surprisingly, it is. Especially once you remember to put both machines in the same workgroup. Vista’s default workgroup is WORKGROUP and XP Home’s default workgroup is MSHOME.

I shared the printer on XP and gave it a name (“Margaret?”). I accessed the share on the Vista machine, connected to the printer and Vista installed the drivers and tells me that the printer is ready to go. Splendid.

So, test page time. The test page says it’s printed, it appears in the print spooler, says it’s printed and disappears from the spooler. But here’s the small caveat: when I get upstairs to the printer, nothing has been printed. Yet there are no error messages or error events on either the Vista machine or the XP Home machine. To the contrary, the Vista print spooler reports the page printed fine.

The print job just vanishes into the ether. Spooky. Sorry, wow.

Fortunately, Google came to my help and pointed me in the direction of this post at Consider It Fixed: Printer Sharing Problem in Windows Vista. He reports on a solution found on the Windows Help forum which also takes you to this post on the Windows Users Group Network.

Those posts gives these steps and fixed my problem of disappearing print jobs. It also fixes “Access Denied” problems when you try to install a printer on Vista shared from an XP machine. Read all the instruction first.

  • Add your printer (in my case an Hewlett Packard OfficeJet V40) as a local printer on your Vista machine. Open Control Panel/Printers/Add a Printer/Add a Local Printer and “Use the existing port LPT1:”. Then select the make and model of your printer, etc. Do not set up the new printer as a network printer yet.
  • After Vista has finished installing the driver, right-click your new printer and open the “Properties” window. Select the “Ports” tab and click “Add Port.”
  • Make sure that Local Port is selected from the list and then select “New Port”. When the “Enter a Port Name” field comes up, manually add a new Local Port as follows: \\computer_name\shared_printer_name as the port name.
    For example, if the computer name for the Windows XP PC sharing the printer is “SlimmPC” and the shared printer is “v40” enter \\SlimmPC\v40 then select “OK”.
  • Now return to the port list and select the newly created port as the active port for the printer.
  • To test the printer, open Word and print to the newly created printer.
  • If that works, go to some of the above web posts and add your appreciation in a comment or mark the posts as helpful.

Recommended Software: CCleaner

CCleaner - Freeware Windows Optimization

I’ve been using CCleaner for a couple of years now and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It adds a menu option to the Recycle Bin that allows you to quickly call it up and get it to clean in those hard-to-reach spots in Windows and a good number of different applications that run on it such as Microsoft Office, Opera, eMule and a load more. (It can also be run from your Start Menu or Desktop, I find it handiest on the Recycle Bin.)

Difficult to describe this better than the site itself so I’ll just quote shamelessly:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history.

The next part of their statement can be qualified, however.

But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :)

While it is fast enough, it takes rather longer than a second to run on my machine (AMD Athlon 64 4000, 2Gb RAM, 7200rpm hard drives). I can confirm that my machine remains spy-ware free after installation. The installer offers to install Yahoo! toolbar. The option is checked by default and can be unchecked. This, however, is ad-ware, surely. I always uncheck the Yahoo! toolbar option during installation.

However, this is a terrific little util that should become a standard part of your Windows installation and cleaning policy.

Alt+Space->M to the rescue

At the risk of making myself sound slightly less brilliant than I surely must be, I managed to get myself into a right pickle yesterday with my dual monitor setup.

Using Nvidia dual monitor mode Dualview you have your Windows Start bar on one screen with a clear second screen. Like so:

However, I was setting up a new monitor and experimenting with different resolutions and made it so that the display with the Start bar (and all my applications) was being displayed at a resolution my display could not handle.

My second display, the one with nothing on it, was fine. That’s okay, I thought. I’ll just right-click my visible display, bring up Display properties and put in a usable resolution for my primary display. Unfortunately, right-clicking the Desktop and selecting Properties opens that window on… the same display as your Start bar. Which I couldn’t see.

Right-O. I’ll try opening the Nvidia Control Panel from the same right-click menu. That’s opens on the wrong screen also.

Here’s where a deeper knowledge of XP keyboard shortcuts would come in useful. I know that the Window icon produces a menu that includes a Move option. I’ll just Google “move windows keyboard shortcut xp”. Right. Where’s Opera? Oh.

Now I couldn’t just turn the machine off and reboot into safe mode because it is an HTPC and was recording something. So I came up with a brilliant plan. I would move my mouse into the blank screen a different distance and at a different height multiple times and try and drag a window back across. Hopefully, it would be the browser or the control panel. After trying this many many times, I twigged that my browser window was maximised and, therefore, not draggable. I un-maximised the browser window (just moved the mouse to the top of the blank screen and double-clicked) and many, many times later, I actually did it! I actually blind-grabbed a window from the blank screen.

Now, it turns out there is a keyboard shortcut for moving a window and it is Alt+Space then M. Alt+Space brings up the window icon menu. So I could then Alt-Tab to the different windows and move them across to the visible display one at a time.

Sadly, this wasn’t the end of my woes as I used the Nvidia Control Panel to change the resolution of the blank screen…

…and managed to blank both displays. How? I do not know but that did require a reboot into safe mode.

The thing I do find odd is that I have no idea when I am going to get the confirmation dialog box after changing my display options. (The one that returns the display to its former setting if you don’t click Yes.) Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t and I don’t know what the difference is. I really wish it had popped up on this occasion. Fortunately, Windows XP’s plethora of keyboard shortcuts really helped out. Alt+Space->M is one I’m going to remember. Until I forget it. Which’ll be about 1 day before I need to use it again, I’ll wager.

Creative X-FI Digital I/O Quirk on Windows XP

Creative products have always been a little, well, quirky (the less charitable might say buggy). Which seems odd for the world’s largest and most expensive consumer soundcard manufacturer.

Quirks like undistorted 5.1 sound not being available in otherwise reference quality racing game “Flatout 2”. Or never having a digital optical or coax out. Or insisting that you must use their fairly cheap cable to connect your £200 sound card to your expensive multi-channel amplifier.

I bought myself a Creative X-FI along with the digital I/O module. I use a multi-channel connection for gaming and music and the digital optical output on the I/O module for DVD’s. I should mention that I am thrilled with the sound quality on the card. It is a distinct pleasure to listen to music or be surrounded by detailed sound effects in games that support it.

The quirk

Whenever the machine is restarted, the digital output doesn’t work. Therefore, if I play a DVD in PowerDVD I get no sound from either the digital output (which PowerDVD is trying to use) or the multichannel output (because PowerDVD is attempting to use digital output).
The Fix

The fix is to go into Control Panel -> Sounds and Audio Devices -> Volume: Advanced. From the Playback volume window select Play Control -> Advanced then uncheck and recheck “Enable Digital IO”. Close, close, OK. Digital IO is now restored.

The solution is simple enough but why should I have to perform it? Especially as Creative stack my startup sequence with so-called ‘helper’ utilities that never explain what they do or why they should be left running.

Grandia II Windows XP PC movie problem


Just gone back to fun RPG Grandia II (Windows XP PC) with the intention of finishing it. I thought I was near the end but I’ve been playing for a further three days now (not all day, you realise; total playing time is now just under 25 hours). Looks like the end is in sight now, though, as Valmar has been revived and the Day of Darkness is in full swing.

Still, I get this problem where the movies show a black screen instead of video while the audio plays normally.

I wondered if it was my overriding of the 3D settings in the Nvidia Control Panel so that I can enable anti-aliasing on the game or perhaps it needed to be run in Compatibility Mode or perhaps it is my WindowBlinds that is causing trouble.

Whatever it is, this little tip seems to work. Load the “gmconfig” utility first, simply click OK to immediately exit and then load Grandia II. Movies work!