Monthly Archive: July 2013

Jul 17 2013

Disable Automatic Restart in Windows 8 after installing updates

One of the things about Windows 8 that I could not stand since I’ve started to use it was the Automatic Restart after installing updates. Now don’t get me wrong, Windows Updates are important and also will improve your experience with Windows 8. The problem is that when you install Windows Updates, whether you do it manually via Windows Update under PC Setting or Windows 8 does a force install of the updates the end result stays the same.

After installing the updates, Windows will give you 3 days to reboot your computer. (If you don’t want to reboot immediately) When that 3 day grace period is over, Windows 8 will pop up with a warning saying “You PC will restart in 15 minutes”. When that warning pops up, you don’t have a choice.

It’s all great that Windows 8 force the users to install the updates, but what if you are in the middle of a presentation at a client or you have some documents open and you are not in front of your PC and when you come back in 15 minutes the PC has restarted itself?

How to Disable Automatic Restart in Windows 8

The good news is that Microsoft has released a new Windows Update that introduces a new registry feature where you can Disable Automatic Restart in Windows 8 after installing updates.

First make sure the following updates are installed, if not, download them here:

Download: Windows 8 (x86 or 32bit) (KB2822241)
Download: Windows 8 (x64 or 64bit) (KB2822241)

After you have installed the new windows update you will have to edit the registry to disable the Automatic Restart function.

Here is the procedure how to edit the registry key:

1.    Press WIN+R to launch the RUN dialog box.
2.    Type REGEDIT to open the registry editor.
3.    In the registry editor, browse to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU

(If the folder and DWORD are not showing in your registry, you can create them manually)

Disable Automatic Restart Windows 8 After Installing Updates

4.    In the AU folder, double-click on the DWORD AlwaysAutoRebootAtScheduledTime. When the dialog box open,  change the value to 0
5.    Close the registry editor and restart your PC

On the other hand, if you want Windows 8 to Automatic Restart after installing updates, then change the value of the DWORD AlwaysAutoRebootAtScheduledTime to 1. This will then force your PC to reboot when the 3 day grace period is over.

For me, Disabling Automatic Restart in Windows 8 after installing updates is not even negotiable. I want full control of my PC and will decide when to restart – but that’s just me…

Jul 16 2013

Looking after my laptop battery

Almost every time I deliver a new laptop, the customer will ask me how he should be looking after the laptop battery. There is so many theories and myths and most of them are not true. Looking after my laptop battery is a very simple job these days, but 10 years ago it was a different story.

Laptop batteries have a short lifetime and it sometimes feels that it only lasts while the 1 year warranty is valid, but on the other hand, sometimes you get a laptop battery that lasts for 3 years or more. In this article, I will shed some light on some of the questions that you may have.

How to extend my laptop battery lifetime?

In the old days, that is about 10 years ago (in the technology world that is like 100 human years) laptop batteries were made of lead-acid or Nickel Cadmium. These Nickel Cadmium batteries needed to be drained and run down completely to extend the laptop battery’s lifetime and prevent that it build up a “memory” as some people call it. Today’s modern laptop batteries are Lithium Ion and do not need to be run down completely and won’t build up a “memory” as some people believe.

laptop batteries

You can even leave the new Lithium Ion laptop batteries in the laptop permanently and you can keep the laptop connected to the power outlet as long as you want. Your laptop battery lifetime will not decrease and the laptop itself will regulate that the battery charge until it is 100% fully charged and then the laptop will stop charging it until you use the laptop battery. This prevent that the battery is on continues charge, not that it will affect the laptop battery lifetime.

There are however some things that will reduce your laptop battery lifetime. Firstly, do not leave the laptop battery fully drained for more than a week. That will reduce its lifetime significantly, so rather keep the battery in the laptop and fully charged and plugged into the power outlet. Secondly, do not leave the laptop battery in extremely hot or cold temperatures like for instance in your car during daytime. That will definitely reduce your laptop battery lifetime.

Check if laptop battery is charging

When your laptop battery starts to give you problems there is a couple of things to check first before you buy a new laptop battery. Put the laptop battery in the laptop and check the following:

  1. Leave the laptop plugged in for about an hour and then pull the AC adapter out. If the laptop dies or go into Sleep Mode the laptop battery did not charge. This still does not mean the battery is faulty. The problem can still be with the laptop AC adapter or the problem can be on the laptop motherboard.
  2. Next, leave the laptop battery out and only plug in the AC adapter. If the laptop starts up it means that the AC adapter is still working. So this leave us with two options. It’s either the laptop battery or the unit on the motherboard that charges the battery, that are faulty.
  3. Now, click on the little arrow in the right bottom corner next to the time to preview the application that is running in the background. There will be an icon that will show whether your laptop is connected to an AC adapter and the laptop battery is detected by the laptop. While the laptop battery is out and the AC adapter is connected you will see that the icon will show that the laptop battery is NOT DETECTED like in the picture below.

No laptop battery detected

Take the laptop battery that you think is not working and put it into the laptop while the laptop is on. Wait for about 30 seconds and then check the icon again. If the icon still shows that the laptop battery is still NOT DETECTED, your battery is dead and not even picked up by your laptop at all. It can also show PLUGGED IN, NOT CHARGING. In both these instances the chances are 95% that the battery is faulty. The only way to test if the charging unit on the motherboard is malfunctioning will be to plug in a new laptop battery and see if it is actually charging.

Testing my laptop battery

You can still take the laptop battery that seems to be faulty and test it with a Multimeter. This will take a little technical ability, but it does work if you want to make sure your laptop battery output is correct. This can only work if the battery is fully or partially charged.

Remove the laptop battery from the laptop and have a look at the writing on it. Take note what the output voltage on the battery is showing e.g. 9.6V, 10.8V, 11.1V, 14.4V. This reading on the Multimeter should be the same or very close to the same when tested.

Look at the connector on the battery. It will have at least five or more connectors/pins. The outermost of these connectors/pins will be the positive and negative. Now using your Multimeter, change the reading scale on the Multimeter to the 20V scale and connect the positive and negative prong of the Multimeter to the outermost connectors/pins of the laptop battery. (If the connectors/pins are too small for the Multimeter prongs, use a paperclip or thin piece of wire and hold it against the connectors/pins and then hold the prongs to the thin wire). The reading that will be shown on the Multimeter should be the same or very close to the output voltage that you noted down from the laptop battery itself.

Laptop battery and multimeter

If this reading is good than your battery output is correct and most probably working fine.

After you went through all the steps above you will be able to easily determine whether your laptop battery is faulty or whether the problem resides with the laptop or AC adapter.

Generally looking after my laptop battery is a very easy and quick task and most of the time it is the AC adapter or the battery that is faulty. I hope this article will assist you to solve your laptop battery issue and also to understand the lifetime of laptop batteries.

Jul 05 2013

Activate Windows 8 using SLUI command

I’ve installed Windows 8 for a client that has a Microsoft Volume License Agreement. Normally you would follow the following steps to install Windows. First download the ISO file from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center. Then burn it to DVD and install. After the installation you would want to Activate Windows. Now this is where Microsoft has changed the process. In Windows 7 and previous versions you would do that by right-clicking on COMPUTER and click PROPERTIES. In the System Properties window, right at the bottom you would have the option to Activate Windows and also to Change the Product Key.

In Windows 8, the option to Change the Product Key is not available so that you can activate Windows 8 with the click of a bottom.

Here is how it looked in Windows 7 and how it looks in Windows 8

Windows 7 Activation

 

(Windows 7)

 

Windows 8 Activation using SLUI

 

(Windows 8)
So how do you Change the Product Key to Activate Windows 8? Well, after some digging around I learned about the SLUI.EXE command. When you run this command, it will open the traditional Windows Activation window and you can type in your Volume License Product Key and complete the activation.

Steps to follow to Activate Windows 8 using SLUI command

Press WIN KEY+R to open the RUN dialog box.
In the RUN dialog box type in the following command and press ENTER

SLUI.EXE 3 (note the “3” at the end)

RUN dialog box SLUI command

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Windows Activation window open, type in the Product Key and click ACTIVATE to complete the activations proses.

Activate Windows 8 using SLUI command

It’s a very easy way to Activate Windows 8 using SLUI command, but I’m just wondering why Microsoft would remove the original option in the System Properties window…

Jul 05 2013

How to Improve Office 2013 Performance

A huge amount of my clients has moved from Office 2010 to Office 2013. For some of them its again a big move as Office 2013 looks different and is also designed to work better on tablets and devices with touch screens and it also integrates with Office 365 and your Microsoft Online Account.

However, I had a couple of instances where I needed to come up with some solution to improve Office 2013 performance. Some of my clients complained that Office 2013 is slow, especially when you use Excel 2013. Most of these clients are using Windows 7 Pro but I had instances where these performance issues occur on a Windows 8 Pro machine too. I even had issues on a brand new computer with an i5 Processor and 8GB memory so it looks like the issue is not related to old computers or resource related. I have done some research to found a solution to improve Office2013 performance and came up with this solution that did work for some of my clients. I have to note that it did not work for everyone and that I had to revert those clients back to Office 2010. Hopefully Microsoft will sort this out in the first Service Pack for Office 2013.

Here is what I came up with, hope it works for you:

Disable Unnecessary Animations to Improve Office 2013 Performance

Office 2013 comes with a whole new UI and with that Microsoft wants it to match Windows 8 and also make it more “touch screen ready”. Some of these enhancements include Animations that pops up and are shown while you type, switching between menus, etc. These Animations can sometimes be annoying and I also found that if you disable them completely, it can speed up your working experience with Office 2013.

Here is the steps on how to Disable Unnecessary Animations:

Open REGISTRY EDITOR by pressing the WIN+R key combination to launch the RUN dialog box. Then type in REGEDIT and press ENTER.

RUN dialog box with regedit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the REGISTRY EDITOR has opened, go to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Common\Graphics

In the pane on the right, create a new DWORD DisableAnimations and set the value to 1.
If there is no “Graphics” key under “Common” create a new KEY by right-clicking on “Common”, select NEW and KEY. Name it Graphics. Then create the new DWORD DisableAnimations in the right-side pane.

DisableAnimations DWORD Registry Key

When you done, close Registry Editor and open any Office 2013 application. You will notice that this had improve Office 2013 performance.

If you want to restore the default animations, go back into the Registry Editor and change the DisableAnimations value to 0 or simply delete the DWORD.

Hope this will help you improve Office 2013 performance as it did work for the majority of my client that were experiencing issues with Office 2013.