How to disable uTorrent’s annoying „Featured torrent“ and Remote Access error message when trying to change any setting

In Options / preferences / advanced / offers.sponsored_torrent_offer_enable set the value to false. Restart utorrent.
They may change this in the future so use the filter search for similar word that would disable the add.

„Please enter a computer name“ error may appear when the default playback device is changed to something other than it’s built-in player. A dull but effective solution is to type something completely random in the text boxes, then later disable the remote access setting.

I still remember the times when uTorrent was a very small and lightning fast torrent software, a simple .exe file. The increasingly bloated commercial add-filled check-box cluttered crap steadily drives me to the point that I will switch to some other client.

3-D secure (Verified by Visa) sucks

Once in a while I shop online – mostly games, software and services – when there are huge promotions and discounts. In the last year and a half I’ve purchased digital items from several sites and portals. None of them supports 3-D secure (Verified by Visa):

In theory this XML-based protocol is supposed to improve security of online transaction. But practice has proven that it’s counterproductive garbage.

In my personal opinion, implementing it hurts both companies and consumers, and only benefits the banks themselves. It causes issues, which impacts sales. While fraud is more difficult with 3DSecure in place, all liability in case of fraud rests upon me as the consumer. To my knowledge banks get the best out of the deal, but sell this as a security feature. It does provide security, but not sharing my card details and login information does (objectively) the same thing. And if someone steals my card information, they can just use the card on a non-3DS service to steal and launder my money.

Basically 3DS is not secure. It has some issues (Wikipedia). It’s useless and hurts both customers and sellers/traders.

HP Pavilion wireless problem (orange LED light) solved

A neighbour in the upper floor laboratory has several years old HP Pavilion. Recently she came to me with a problem – the wireless suddenly went dead. The led indicator was constantly orange – meaning that no matter how she positioned the switch, the wireless network card was permanently off line. Looked in the device manager and found found only LAN network adapter – nothing more.

I ran a variety of tests, did a lot of diagnostics – primary software since I had to make sure it’s not a driver or operating system issue. Disabled all power saving features, removed HP wireless assistant, tried to do thing manually, etc. Even updated the BIOS but nothing seemed to help. It is a widespread and quite known issue – a motherboard-wireless problematic connection and lack of power supply to the wireless network card in a lot of HP notebooks/laptops. After some serious Internet digging finally found on Techspot’s forums the only solution that worked for me:
I fixed orange light HP/Compaq wireless problem

The basic idea is that rising the temperature inside the machine to the risky 80C for 10 minutes somehow „repairs“ the broken power link between the wireless adapter and other chipset components. The guy in the forum post achieved this using software stability test that stresses the CPU/GPU, covering the vents and thus generating enough heat inside the machine. Having in mind the high potential damage this overheat procedure might cause I borrowed from the laboratory above their temperature measuring device with silicon sensors and off-chip processing (a kind of advanced thermometer). Disconnected all cables, removed the battery, disassembled the notebook, positioned the thermometer sensors, and gradually started heating specific areas inside the laptop by a hair dryer with narrow airflow concentrator.

The first several attempts were unsuccessful because I do not feel comfortable sustaining high temperatures in a computer for a long time. Started with small steps – 70C for a minute, 75 for 2 minutes, etc. A time consuming process since I paused after each try to let the system cool down, reconnect, power up and wait to see if something new happens. Finally when I kept the temperature at 80C for 4 minutes, reconnected and started the notebook, the device manager greeted me with „new hardware found“ – the wireless was live!

Actually I am amazed that this solution worked at all! The bad news is that if the computer is turned off and cooled down to room temperature, most of the time the wireless adapter will be lost again. Repeating the heating procedure (no matter how it’s achieved) usually does it’s magic, but it’s not a permanent solution. Leaving it constantly on, working non-stop 24/7 is always an option – still it’s just avoiding the problem, not final resolution.

Best advice – actually two of them :)
1. Buy external USB Wireless adapter – it should be no more than 20$.
2. Avoid giving money for HP / Compaq portable products!

Origin cloud storage syncing sucks

Not only EA’s cloud sync is poorly implemented – their support sucks as well. The best way to resolve Origin’s synchronisation problems is to avoid the service.

I own Mass Effect 3 for maybe a month. Already finished my first playthrough on hardcore difficulty setting and now playing on insane. Also battled cooperatively in a lot of multiplayer matches (mostly on bronze difficulty, a few on silver, and none on gold or platinum) and so far I love it! Not being a fan of Origin client (yes, I know it’s still in beta), gave it a try – allowed it to keep my in-game advance synced on their cloud storage service. All was well until yesterday – after I closed the game Origin started syncing but suddenly stopped at 5% and ultimately failed. Tried again, restarted the client – same thing.

I still remember a stupid solution that Origin support offered once. I had this annoying visual issue with double cursor – the in-game and windows default both showed in Dead Space when the game was launched through origin client. The helper suggested I reinstall the chipset drivers!? Luckily for me when the game was started with it’s own executable file all was fine.

So armed with patience I contacted the support through live chat. The helper was incompetent and the result was zero – as expected. The full text (see below) may be read for two minutes but the real conversation lasted more than half an hour! As you can see the guy from EA / Origin did his best to get rid of me. Denied all responsibility and apart from some lame and senseless suggestion did nothing to help me.

Luckily Origin cloud syncing in Mass Effect 3 affects only single player advance and achievements. That is a good thing because if I want to play the game on other computers I may simply copy needed files/directories on a flash drive. Or make my own „cloud“ storage – manually uploading, downloading and updating them on the encrypted part of my ftp. The multiplayer status in-game is Origin/EA independent and works fine.

To be honest there are some guys in Origin/EA who actually work towards really helping the client. It’s a matter of pure luck to get a competent one who can do something to solve a problem. It usually takes no more than ten tries though. As far as I can tell, the only logical conclusion is that for a single real specialist/expert EA hires 9 random persons. Gives them a bunch of predefined answers and instructs them to politely discourage customers from contacting live chat support.

That is why Electronic Arts deserves some of the flame they get. Such support practice is bad – better stop it and and least try to be honest. If there is a problem sometimes it’s better to admit it and try to resolve it.

Or stick to the successfully build image of suckers.

Here is the full chat I had with Origin support (sorry for the typos; only my name is edited):

You are now ready to chat with Arjun K.
Arjun K:
Thanks for contacting EA Help! My name is Arjun K how may I help you?
Hi. Is there a problem with mass effect 3 cloud storage?
Hello there, do you understand my question?
Arjun K:
Arjun K:
(*My*name*) please elaborate your issue.
I’ve been playing ME3 for several hours, and when I finished, the Origin client tried to automatically update my cloud storage – and failed
After another try, I went offline, than back online adn tried again – and failed again
Do you need any more information?
Arjun K:
Thank you for the information.
Arjun K:
Please right click on bf3 in origin and select repair.
I’m sorry I do not own bf3
Arjun K:
Sorry I meant ME3
it said there are no missing or corrupt filed and the game is up to date
Arjun K:
Please click on the „i“ button which you see when you place the pointer on ME3.
Arjun K:
Do you see the cloud storage option there?
Arjun K:
It seems that you are away from the Keyboard, please let me know if we are still connected.
I’m not away form the keyboard, I’m waiting on you to tell me how ot fix my issue
So what do I do now?
Arjun K:
When you click on the „i“ what do you see in the cloud storage is it enabled?
Yes it is enabled
Arjun K:
is your cloud storage able to update now?
WHne I click Play, it starts by syncing cloud data, stops at 5%. When I click „restoer save“ – same result: it says cloud storage cannot be synced.
I do not want to play wihtout syncing. I will lose all these hours of recent gameplay
Arjun K:
Please reinstall origin
You’re kidding. please stop making jokes and tell me ho to use origin’s cloud storage
Arjun K:
Please reinstall origin and then see if the issue still persists
Arjun K:
Thank you for contacting EA. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Before doing that cne you please answer me these questions: is there a problem with mass effect 3 servers, or with origin servers, or with it’s cloud storage mechanism?
Arjun K:
No there is no problem at all however I would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused.
IT took you 5 minutes to tell me „click the button“, but you’ve managed to check the servers, to diagnose network and verify clodu storage sync in just 5 seconds?
Arjun K:
If you need help with anything else, please feel free to contact us anytime!
If I reinstall origin does it mean I will have to download and install all current EA games that I play?
Wait, don’t reply – you answer probably will be wrong. Thank yuo for your time. good bye.

Космически симулатори (space simulators)

PC only, само за ПС.

The few space sim games I’ve played and one word evaluation; also a longer list of the ones I plan to test.
За сега това е нещо като списък и оценка на тези космически симулатори, които вече съм ги играл; както и доста повече, които мисля да тествам.

Descent (average, горе-долу)
Darkstar One (good, добра)
Freelancer (excellent, чудесна)
Freespace 2 (good, добра)
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (average, горе-долу)
Star Wars: Starfighter (bad, не става)
X2: The Threat (bad, не става)
Wing Commander: Secret Ops (excellent, чудесна)
Wing Commander: Privateer Remake (average, горе-долу)

Battlecruiser Millennium Gold
Beyond the Red Line (mod based on Freespace 2 source code project, Battlestar Galactica universe)
Descent 3
Evochron series & Avroch Conflict
Gratuitous Space Battles
Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos
Parkan II
Shattered Origins: Guardians of Unity
Space Combat
Space Force: Rogue Universe
Starpoint Gemini
Starshatter: The Gathering Storm
Star Trek: Starfleet Command III
Tarr Chronicles & Dark Horizon
The Babylon Project (mod based on Freespace 2 source code project, Babylon 5 universe)
The Tomorrow War
Universal Combat Collectors’ Edition
X3: Reunion & Terran Conflict
X-Plane: Space Combat Sim
X-Wing vs TIE Fighter
Wing Commander: Privateer Gemini Gold
White Gold: War in Paradise
CSiS (Combat Simulation System – early stage of development)

Links, връзки:

List of space flight simulator games on wikipedia, списък на космическите симулаторни игри в уикипедия.

SpaceSimCentral – a WordPress based site with a few reviews, comprehensive list of Space & SciFi games and fairly good amount of downloads. Уърдпрес базиран сайт с малко публикации по темата, обширен списък на космически и научно-фантастични игри и доста пълна секция за „сваляне“.

Печат на заключен, защитен ПДФ файл (Print a password protected PDF)

(Bulgarian text – below; На български – по-долу)

Freeware PDF unlocker is a neat, small and freeware software that will remove the password and restrictions on any secured PDF file that are readable. Most commonly used to remove restrictions such as No printing or copy & paste functions. Uses a simple drag and drop method. Removes 40 or 128 bit passwords. Tested on Windows 2000 and XP. May work (not tested) on Vista and 7. if the PDF file can not be opened or read, the program will not work. Make sure the directory of the original file is not read only, as the new file will be saved to the same directory. Read the review on CyberNet News and follow the download links there. Decompress, install, then drag & drop the secured PDF file onto the icon. Wait a bit while the quickly flash screen disappears, and look for the output file in the same location as the original one, with „_noPW“ attached on to the end of the file name.

There is a bonus – Convert from PS or EPS to PNG bitmap (900dpi). 7650×9900 page.

If for some reason the original download links are not working, or removed, I have a copy on my own FTP. Just drop a line here to make it public ;).

– На български –

На колежка и се наложи да разпечата ПДФ файл, който е заключен, с парола, и е защитен от разпечатване. Информацията в документа не е нито чувствителна, нито конфиденциална – просто някакъв график в списъчен вид за изготвяне и получаване на отчетни формуляри. Администрацията, която го е изготвила и ни го е предоставила е общо взето над нас е йерархията, но не са ни ръководители в прекия смисъл на думата, някакви началници. По-скоро осъществяват методична помощ и обобщават получените регионални данни, като след това се предполага, че трябва да ги анализират.
Но нищо от това не оправдава заключването на файла и забраната за разпечатване. Явно някой е прекалил с настройките по сигурността в процеса на изготвяне на ПДФ файла. Или може би е ползвал наготово начин, който е бил предназначен за създаване на ПДФ с информация, която си е заслужавало да бъде защитена от разпечатване, но не се е сетил да промени настройките.

Кратко търсене в Интернет ме доведе до страницата на CyberNet News, където е представена програмата Freeware PDF unlocker, безплатна, която ми реши проблема. Има и работеща връзка (линк) за сваляне на програмата. Ако някога, поради някаква причина изчезне – запазил съм копие в ФТПто си, просто драснете един ред тук, че да направя директорията публична ;).

Възможности – премахва 40 или 128 битови пароли. След дезархивиране (разкомпресиране на ЗИП архива) и инсталиране се появява иконка на десктопа. След това ПДФ файла просто се „влачи“ и „пуска“ върху иконата на програмата, изчаква се няколко секунди да бъде обработен, през което време за кратко се появява „досовски“ прозорец с разни надписи. Като изчезне, в същата директория, където е бил защитения файл, се е появил нов, който няма защита, като към наименованието на оригиналния е добавено „_noPW“. И вече може да бъде разпечатван. Това върши работа и за защитите от копиране или пействане.

Има и някои ограничения – тествано е и работи с Уиндоус 2000 и ЕксПи. Не зная дали работи с виста или седмицата. За да свърши работа, ПДФ файла все пак трябва да може да бъде отворен и видян. Ако файла не може да се отвори и визуализира, излиза грешка. Трябва да има права за запис, не само четене в директорията, където е оригиналния файл, защото програмата поставя там получения изходен незащитен ПДФ.

Има и бонус – конвертор от PS или EPS към PNG изображение.

Avast! v/s Need for Speed Hot pursuit 2010

(Bulgarian text – below; на български – по-долу)
While installing latest Need for speed game (2010) – Hot pursuit, Avast antivirus caused it (together with the whole computer) to freeze. Had to hit F13 – meaning big case button – rude hardware shut down :). Remedy – disable all Avast! shields while installing the game. I am confident that there are no viruses, malware, trojans, spyware, potentially unwanted programs, etc. Ran lots of thorough long boring checks on the game in both packed and unpacked mode, and later in the installation folder with various antivir/defender/protecting/scanning solutions. All clear, nothing suspicious. It’s important to enable all antivirus protection right after the installation process is finished.

Аваст-а ми причини злобно забиване, „замръзване“ на компютъра, докато инсталирах последния Need for speed (2010) – Hot Pursuit. Наложи се да прибегна до крайния вариант с натискане на F13 клавиша (демек големио бутон на кутията). Решението е елементарно – деактивиране на всичките щитове докато трае инсталацията. Убеден съм, че няма буболечки, вируси, троянци, червеи, шпионски модули и прочие нежелани неща – проверих, на няколко пъти, дълъг и досаден процес. С няколко комплексни защитни/антивирусни решения. Както в компресиран вид, така и в разгънат, включително и в инсталационната директория на играта. Нищо подозрително, всичко изглежда чисто. Важно е да не се забравя – веднага след инсталацията се включат пак всички шитове на антивирусната защита.

Деактивиране (реактивиране) на Уиндоус ЕксПи / Windows XP deactivate/reactivate

Старт меню, клик на Изпълни
В полето Отвори се пише regedit
Клик ОК
Намира се този ключ в системния регистър
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents
Десен бутон върху OOBETimer и клик Modify
Променя се която и да е цифра.
Затваря се прозореца.
Старт меню, клик на Изпълни
В полето Отвори се пише %systemroot%\\system32\\oobe\\msoobe.exe /a
Клик ОК
В новопоявилия се прозорец се клика на „Да, искам да се обадя на представител на отдела за обслужване на клиенти, за да активирам Windows“.
Клик на „Смяна на продуктовия ключ“.
Въвежда се новия продуктов ключ в полетата „Нов ключ“ – трябва да е валиден, и да го няма в „черния списък“, иначе цялото упражнение е безсмислено.
Клик „Актуализиране“
Ако се появи пак същия прозорец, клик на „Напомни ми по-късно“
Рестарт, и да се ползва с удоволствие и мярка :)

Start -> Run -> type regedit -> OK
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\WindowsNT\Current Version\WPAEvents
OOBETimer -> Modify
Change something, any number
Run %systemroot%\\system32\\oobe\\msoobe.exe /a
Click „Yes, I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate Windows“
Click „Next“
Click „Change Product key“
Type new product key – valid one, not blacklisted :)
Click update
If same window appeares, click „Remind me later“
Restart and enjoy :)

Добавка: два гарантирано валидни продуктови ключа за ЕксПи, които никога няма да влязат в „черния списък“, може да видите на картинка в тази директория. Разпознава се по многозначителното име на файла, от 2010 година е :).