Archive for August, 2010

Windows 7 is a wonderful OS, leagues away from Vista and XP in terms of usability and performance.

It is not uncommon for Windows users to customize their machines – adding a background picture, changing the theme, setting a screensaver of their choice. But if you really were to own your laptop or desktop PC, shouldn’t you be able to change the background on that logon screen as well?

Fortunately, you can. With a few registry tweaks and a little image editing, you can set an image of your choice to appear as the default background when you start your Windows 7 machine.

Unlike the previous Windows OSs, Microsoft built the ability to change the Logon screen wallpaper directly into Windows 7. This makes it easy for OEMs to brand the machines they ship. Since there’s no need for a third-party program to make the change, end users can benefit from this as well.

As with anything involving the registry, be sure you know what you’re doing before proceeding. Create a backup of your registry as a precaution. If you’re comfortable with using the Windows Registry Editor, read on.

We begin by editing a registry entry.

To open the registry editor, click the orb or press the Windows + R key combination to open the Run dialog box, type in regedit, and hit Enter. The User Account Control will kick in. Click Yes to proceed.

Next, navigate your way to the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background

Or just do a search for “OEMBackground” (sans quotes) by right-clicking on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and then clicking Find…

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Double-click on OEMBackground on the right pane and change the DWord value from 0 to 1. This change will make Windows use a special image file as the Logon Screen Wallpaper instead of the default one. Click OK to close the Edit DWORD dialog box.

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Close Registry Editor.

That is the first half of the operation. Next comes the fun part.

Launch Windows Explorer. Navigate to the “C:\Windows\System32\oobe” folder. Create a folder named “info” inside …\oobe. Click “Continue” on the confirmation dialog box if prompted. Next, we’ll need to create a new folder inside our “info” folder. Go ahead and open the “info” folder. Then, create another folder named “backgrounds” in it. As before, a confirmation dialog box will appear. Again, click on the “Continue” button to proceed.

Finally, we’ll be adding the image of our choice. There’s a few things to remember for this to work. One, the image should be in JPEG format (with an extension of .jpg) and its size should be no bigger than 256 KB. If the file is bigger than 256 KB, try loading the picture in Paint. Choose File>Save as… and select JPEG picture as the output format. You also need to name the image “backgroundDefault.jpg” and its dimensions should be the same as your current resolution. Choosing smaller dimensions may stretch the image and make it appear distorted.

You may not be able to save directly to your ..\oobe\info\backgrounds folder from Paint. Windows 7 doesn’t allow arbitrary programs to write to system folders as a way to keep its integrity. Just save the image first on any folder and then manually move or copy it to the …\background folder you created. You will encounter a similar confirmation dialog box as before.

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You can try logging out or locking your computer to see the change take effect.

The buttons and text that identify your account had shadows that gave them the 3D-like look. You can achieve the same effect by adding a new registry value. This particular registry key will control how the shadows of the login screen elements will appear, from Dark to Light to None at all.

Fire up RegEdit once more and navigate to this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI

On the right pane, create a new DWord value, name it “ButtonSet” and assign any of the following for its value data.

0 Light Shadow
1 Dark Shadow
2 No Shadow

 

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The Shame of a Nation

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Blurbs, Politics

It was a dark day yesterday. With the onset of rain came ringing the news that a former police captain has taken hostage a bus-full of Chinese Nationals near Quirino Grandstand. The ordeal has been a long one, but its conclusion is something that will be mourned and lamented for the foreseeable future.

It’s a pity. The situation could and should have been handled way better than how it played out. Actually, it was handled the worst possible way. Nakakahiya!

The authorities didn’t seem to have a plan. I was watching through the news how they approached the bus, their lack of preparation apparent. They didn’t seem to have a plan at all, no clear way of getting through. And not even properly equipped. The ordeal has taken almost half a day by the time the evening news came on, but it’s as if the assault team they sent was just assembled right then and there, handpicking unsuspecting police officers as members of their assault team. It was almost painful to watch them rummage without purpose outside the bus. Their officers were unsure and panicky, to put it mildly.

The media made a field day out of it. The crowd was equally unabated. It’s amazing none of them got hurt.

And what of the President? Hong Kong today expressed their disappointment on how the matter was handled and questioned why the President couldn’t be reached during the height of yesterday’s events.

He belatedly sent his condolences, but a little too late. Damage was done and his credibility severely eroded. This is not the kind of President the Philippines needs. His leadership skills (or lack thereof) will be his downfall.

I only wish that Hong Kong nationals do not retaliate against fellow Filipinos in their own country.

I am not a gamer. I never tried more than a few attempts at arcade. I found out I had terrible response time. The few times I played with my friend on his PS1 and then his PS2 console, I was dead before I could even mount a defense on games like Tekken.

But when I saw the trailer for Resident Evil 5, I decided I simply had to buy it when it comes out for the Windows platform. This had been more than a year ago. I invested on a new computer. The moment I saw the Windows version at the game store, I went ahead and bought it. Then I realized it would be better to play it with a controller, as I was a doofus when it came to keyboard play. So I went out the very next day and bought an XBox 360 Controller for Windows. I was a happy camper.

As I finished the game, I began collecting the figures in the library. These are the collectible ones that encourage players to play the game over and over so they can complete the ensemble.They were awesome, and I thought how great it would be if there were real-life figures like those. So I went to the Internet to find out.

The good news.

There were indeed toys that are based on RE5. Some like the NECA versions are cheap enough, but looking at photo samples, I wasn’t impressed by their quality. They barely resemble the characters in the game. But I was willing to compromise. That’s how big a fan I am of the game.

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But then I found out that Hot Toys has acquired the license to create the 1:6 versions of the major characters of the game. First to be released were Chris Redfield (BSAA version) and Sheva Alomar. Woohoo!

6 Biohazard 5_Chris Redfield5Biohazard5_ShevaAlomar

The bad news.

These toys don’t come in cheap. In fact, they’re way up there with their expensive prices. Plus the fact that Hot Toys is Hong Kong-based meant that if I were to buy one online, I would incur additional (exorbitant) expenses thanks to shipping costs.

Initial search and queries for local distribution led to dead ends. All of my inquiries in fact were left unreturned.

I was ready to settle for the NECA versions when, back in June of this year, I happened upon a forum that caters to 1:6 Figure Collectors. And would you know it, it’s a local shop! I immediately inquired if the RE5 figures are available. The owner of the store is the forum administrator, and he was prompt in replying to my inquiries. By this time, there was also a STARS version of Chris Redfield, and a BSAA and STARS version of the game’s main villain, Albert Wesker.

I decided to go for the BSAA version of Chris Redfield first. It’s list price I learned was for 7,500. Just about the price you’ll see online, but without the shipping cost. Finally, I went to the store in Green Hills to purchase my very first 1:6 Figure. I have to say, though the price was pretty steep, I didn’t mind parting with my money at all. I thought I was going to regret spending way too much on a piece of plastic for sure, but I’m glad I was wrong.

IMG_7560IMG_7587IMG_7755 (853x1280)

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No regrets thus far. In fact, I went back to purchase another figure, and preordered a few more. I never intended to be a 1:6 Collector, but now that I have started, it kind of just stuck. ‘Course, it threw my finances way off course, but I’m trying to balance things. Good thing the latest DX version is one I am not a fan of. My wallet is heaving a sigh of relief. Smile with tongue out

Protected: The Antique Tech

Posted: August 5, 2010 in Blurbs

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