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The HP 250 G4 is a budget business notebook computer that offers some great hardware configuration for its price. However, there are a few downsides with the notebook, and one of those downsides is the integrated display. Depending on the computer’s configuration, you may have a display panel where the color looks washed out along with a blue tint. If you’re technical enough, you could replace the display panel with a better one, or you can do some color adjustments that can drastically improve the color.

Note: These color adjustments are my personal settings and were preformed on a HP 250 G4 notebook with Intel graphics. AMD/ATI graphics may yield in slightly different results depending on its software. Similar HP models also apply as well as any notebook using the same display panel and modern Intel graphics.

First, make sure you have the latest Intel graphic drivers installed.

If the notebook is running on batteries, plug in the AC adapter and turn the display’s brightness up to 100%. (You can set it back after you’re done).

Go to the Control Panel and open the Intel HD Graphics applet. When it opens, click on Display.

On the left hand side, select Color Settings. Make sure the Select Display is set to Built-In Display.

Select the Basic tab.

Select Red and increase the brightness to 3.

Select Blue and decrease the brightness to -10 and the gamma to 0.6.

Select the Advanced tab and increase the saturation to 25.

Apply your settings. You can also save the settings in a profile and export them to a file so you can recover them in case something happens. This is an extremely good idea if you upgrade Windows as the color settings will default back after the upgrade.

There’s one more step that needs to be done. Hold down WinKey+R to open the run dialog window. Type dccw and click OK. This will open the Windows Color Calibration. (Windows 7 or higher).

Basically what you are going to do here is click the next button a few times until you get to the screen that allows you to adjust the gamma. Drop the slider down slightly from the center but no more than 1/4 of the way down. By doing this, you help improve the dark colors on the display that are otherwise washed out by the backlighting. Going too far down will make the display look dark. (Using a photo with contrasting colors as a reference helps). When you’re satisfied with the results, click next and keep clicking next until you get to the end of the calibration. (You don’t need to make any adjustments to the brightness/contrast/balance settings). If desired, you have the option to run the ClearType Text Tuner, which helps improve readability.

Now your faded blue display is a thing of the past!* If you need to make adjustments, you can repeat these steps and tweak the levels to your liking. You can also return the display’s brightness back to where you had it before.

*These adjustments do not apply outside of Windows.

As most any Windows 7 or 8.1 user already knows, Microsoft has a program that allows you to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. The program, Get Windows 10 (or GWX) is downloaded and installed on qualifying systems via Windows Update. Once installed, the user has the option to use the Get Windows 10 program to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. The free upgrade, as of the date of this post, is only valid until July 31, 2016.

While many users have taken advantage of the upgrade, I prefer NOT to upgrade my Windows 7 systems. I am currently happy with Windows 7, but Microsoft keeps insisting that I should upgrade to Windows 10.

To make it clear, I have used Windows 10. While it is an improvement over Windows 8, it still can’t top Windows 7. I don’t like the new Start Menu, even though I can use a 3rd party tool like Classic Shell to reinstall a Windows Vista/7 style Start Menu. Windows 10 gives you less features and forces you to use basic featureless app versions of certain programs that originally came with older versions of Windows, some of which are ad supported. Then you have the infamous telemetry in Windows 10 that allows Microsoft to collect app usage and crash data, which can contain your personal information and unsaved document data.

There is probably some other stuff about Windows 10 that I’ve missed, but this post isn’t about what I like or dislike about Windows 10. This post is about the Get Windows 10 app …err, program (I call the full screen programs apps).

Other sites have mentioned that the GWX program acts like a malicious program. I totally agree with them. Once installed, the GWX program is similar to adware. It will display slides and pop-ups about Windows 10 and try to convince you to upgrade, basically a big advertisement about Windows 10. The other malicious thing about GWX is that it will download the Windows 10 setup files and even install Windows 10 without notifying the user. This is a huge “no-no” as the whole point of the User Access Control is to prevent programs from running/installing/doing anything without the user’s permission. Also, a big complaint a few months ago was that the Windows 10 setup files were downloading over metered connections, causing people to exceed their data usage.

Now, with everything I mentioned above, I recently bought two computers with Windows 7 pre-installed so I could avoid Windows 10 for the next 4 years. On both computers, I hid the GWX update (KB3035583) so I wouldn’t have to worry about any surprise installations of Windows 10. To my surprise, Microsoft has apparently patched Windows 7 to unhide that update and install it on a monthly basis, WITHOUT ANY NOTIFICATION! I have uninstalled it 3 times already. My other hidden updates remain on the “hidden” list.

Microsoft does NOT take NO for an answer. They are determined to install Windows 10 on every Windows 7 machine. This forcing of Windows 10 is completely unacceptable and needs to stop. If anyone from Microsoft is reading this, I hope I make myself clear…

PLEASE STOP FORCING WINDOWS 10 ON MY COMPUTER!!! I DON’T WANT IT, EVEN IF IT’S FREE!!!

Buying music on iTunes may sound like an easy task. However, there can be some decisions to make before clicking that buy button. Here are some tips to consider when buying music on iTunes so that you don’t waste your money.


Buy Remastered Music

Older music that was originally recorded on tape or analog media is usually remastered for better quality sound. Since several copies of a particular song may exist on iTunes, it is important to listen to each preview carefully to determine which one sounds the best. Here are some things to listen for when comparing a song that is not marked as remastered:

  • Treble and bass response (should be crisp and clear, bass should stand out)
  • Dynamic range (variation in the volume, should not be flat/dynamically compressed)
  • Loudness (Remastered songs are usually louder compared to their original releases)

Note: A good speaker setup is required for best results and accurate comparison. A high quality 2.1 (two speakers + sub woofer) setup is recommended.


Buying The Right Version
Different versions of a song might exist on iTunes. They can include album version, single version, radio version/edit, explicit, clean, etc.

Single versions are usually album versions that have been edited for time, though sometimes can contain a different mix of music. Radio versions/edits can also be edited for time, but for content also. Because of the 1:30 preview that iTunes provides, it’s sometimes not enough to determine if the song you’ll be buying is the version that you want. A good way to verify is to take note of the song’s playing time and do a search for the song on YouTube. Find a video with a playing time that’s the same or close to the desired song on iTunes. Listen to the song on YouTube as it can help you take note of any time edits. If time edits are present and you want a “fuller” version, repeat the process comparing another song on iTunes with a longer playing time.

Explicit and clean versions of songs can also be hard to compare due to the 1:30 preview. iTunes usually has explicit markings on songs to warn buyers of inappropriate content, but that may not always be the case with clean versions. If you want to verify a clean version of a song, you can try searching for the song on YouTube by adding “clean” in the search box.


Buy Your Music When It’s On Sale

iTunes occasionally marks some popular music down to 69 cents, which is half of the original price. The discounts happen several times a year and usually last for 2 weeks. When another sale occurs, different songs are marked down, though it is possible for songs previously marked down to go on sale again in the future. If you don’t mind waiting for a song to go on sale, you can add it to your wish list. Check your wish list next time iTunes has a 69 cent sale to see if your music is marked down.

Note: When a song does go on sale, it is usually selected from a single album. This makes it difficult if you are looking for a particular version (described above) as the hosting album is either picked at random or by agreement from the record company. There’s a small chance that a song might be discounted on multiple albums, resulting in one that contains the version you are looking for.

When you try to change the Internet/E-mail links on the Start Menu from Internet Explorer and Outlook Express through the Taskbar and Start Menu properties on a Windows XP system, the changes do not take effect.

The problem occurs after installing a recent Windows security update, KB2926765. Normally this update is not available for Windows XP as it was released after support ended, but it will download and install on a Windows XP system that has been patched with the Windows POSReady 2009 hack. The update also affects Windows POSReady 2009 as it is essentially Windows XP.

After installing the KB2926765 update and restarting Windows, the Internet/Email links on the Start Menu will default to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Changing the links through the Taskbar and Start Menu properties does not work. To resolve the problem, open “Add or Remove Programs”, check “Show Updates” and uninstall “Security Update for Windows XP (KB2926765)”. Restart Windows and functionally should be restored to the Start Menu Internet/E-mail selections.

When visiting Microsoft Update on a Windows XP system, you get the following message and error:

The website has encountered a problem and cannot display the page you are trying to view. The options provided below might help you solve the problem. [Error number: 0x80248015]

The error is usually a result of the time & date being set incorrectly. However, since November 18, 2014, the error may also be a result of a defective file, MUWEB.DLL, version 7.6.7600.257. Downloading an older version of the file, version 7.6.7600.256, and copying over the newer version may correct the problem.

Use the links below to download version 7.6.7600.256 of MUWEB.DLL from Microsoft’s website.
MUWEB.CAB
(Windows XP 32-Bit)
MUWEB.CAB (Windows XP Pro SP2 64-Bit)

Extract MUWEB.DLL from the cab file and copy it to the Windows\System32 directory. Confirm file replacement and retry the Microsoft Update website.

Note: This only applies to Microsoft Update. Windows Update appears to be unaffected. The two sites look identical, but Microsoft Update offers additional software. If you have Microsoft Update installed, there is no way to switch back to Windows Update while Microsoft Update fails to work. If Microsoft Update is installed and you try to visit the Windows Update site, you will automatically be redirected to Microsoft Update.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have never had any luck with Western Digital hard drives. They always seem to fail in a short amount of time, regardless if they are constantly in use or in storage. Their quality in my opinion is somewhat poor and sooner or later read errors will likely occur on these drives.

Let’s go back to when we (my family) had our second computer. It was a Packard Bell with the then-new Pentium processor and a hard drive that was only 429 MB in size. When we started running out of room, we turned to a brand new 2.5 GB Western Digital drive. A few years down the road while online, the computer just suddenly threw out an error message and everything locked up. After rebooting the machine, we found that Windows would no longer load. Not experienced with computers at the time, my dad took it to a repair shop, and a few hours later the guy called him back and said that the bearings in the spindle motor seized. My dad ordered another Western Digital hard drive of the same size and a few years later, it too started having problems. This time we were experiencing all kinds of read errors.

My dad ordered another Western Digital drive, again, the same size. By that time (1999) we were looking into getting another computer so we could retire the Packard Bell. That third 2.5 GB Western Digital hard drive was removed from the Packard Bell and repurposed for another system. It later spent some time in a friend’s computer before coming back to me. Surprisingly that hard drive still works fine as of this posting. It has been used in a few older computers since getting it back and has to have the same usage and run time as the previous drives, probably more.

But my misfortunes with Western Digital drives don’t end there…

During my summer break, I helped the Technology Director at my high school remove the old computers and replace them with new ones. Since most of the old computers were headed to the dumpster, I had the opportunity to part them out. Among the 30-some hard drives (1 GB – 3.2 GB) that I took home, ten of them were Western Digital. The rest were Maxtor. After erasing and testing the Western Digital drives, only five of them were considered good. The bad ones all had read errors as indicated by the click of death.

All the good hard drives were put in storage until 2-3 years later when I dug them out just to test them again. Out of the 5 Western Digital drives that I deemed good, three of them developed the infamous click of death, just by being in a box in my closet. BTW: I only had one Maxtor that had an issue when I originally brought home and tested the hard drives. Another Maxtor bit the dust after spending some time in storage.

It’s not over yet…

Over the past 7 years I’ve collected used hard drives that are much bigger in size, mostly between 15 GB – 80 GB. (Yeah, that is considered small nowadays). The Western Digital drives that fall within these sizes seemed to be a bit more reliable than those made in the past. One thing that plagues these drives is that they all suffer from whiney spindle motors which can become irritating.

When my dad bought a new computer back in 2003, it came with an 80 GB Western Digital hard drive. I advised him to replace it in the future as it could be problematic. Despite doing so, the hard drive held up until he got his current computer in 2009. Until then, the hard drive was in use almost every day for a few hours, sometimes more. It exceeded the typical 5 year average life span and almost made it to 7 years of constant use. That hard drive still works as of today and does suffer from the whiney spindle motor.

Now the part that makes me disapprove of Western Digital, probably forever…

At the beginning of 2009, I bought a new hard drive enclosure capable of both PATA and SATA, and with a SATA drive, you could use the eSATA interface instead of the USB. While looking at hard drives, I was trying to decide what to go with, and since they had a Western Digital 160 GB SATA on sale, I decided to go with it. I figured that by now Western Digital finally had some quality control and that newer drives would be much more reliable than those in the past. Boy was I wrong.

Immediately after installing the drive in the enclosure, I downloaded and ran Western Digital’s diagnostic program for Windows and did a “long test” to check for bad sectors. After a few hours, the program told me that no errors were detected. The drive was then used for backing up data and constantly sits on my desk. Last year I noticed slow access times when trying to open a photo on the drive, and right away I knew this was a sign of bad sectors. I did a chkdsk on the drive and it found several bad sectors. Great, and the warranty recently expired. I ran the Western Digital diagnostics that I originally used when I first got the drive and to my surprise it did not report a signal bad sector.

As of recently, I noticed that the read errors were getting worse. I ran another chkdsk and this time it hung at 11 percent. I downloaded and ran the DOS version of the Western Digital diagnostics hoping to get errors. The DOS version did find errors, so many errors that the program halted halfway through the test saying that I have “too many errors” and that I need to contact tech support. Way to go Western Digital. These errors were probably present when I bought the drive, but if Western Digital’s stupid diagnostic program would have caught the errors at the beginning, I wouldn’t be in this mess.

I booted the computer back into Windows and ran Speccy. I was stunned when I looked at the statics for my Western Digital drive. The power on count was at 102 and the power on time was 2.5 days. The S.M.A.R.T status was still good. I downloaded a copy of HD Tune and ran an error scan on the drive. At about  53% of the way, the scan drastically slowed down and started throwing out errors. The scan finished after 18 hours (!) and HD Tune reported that 46.9% of the drive was bad. I took the drive out of the enclosure and physically installed it into a computer. Running the scan again, HD Tune reported that 1.9% of the drive was bad. OK? What gives?

wd1600aajs hard drive wd1600aajs hard drive 2

Now, here’s the mind boggling part. After copying my data onto another drive, I was unsure on what to do with the problematic drive. I popped in a copy of Derik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) and erased the drive just in case I decided to toss it out. When DBAN finished, I was surprised that the program did not report any errors on the drive. Interestingly, after running Chkdsk and HD Tune again, both programs did not report a single error. The drive is now sitting in my closet unused as I don’t know what to do with it. I still can’t understand why the errors suddenly disappeared after running DBAN and I can’t trust important data on it.

In conclusion, I will never again buy another Western Digital hard drive. I gave them a second chance, and they failed. They lost me as a customer, probably forever. I’ve bought and used Seagate drives in the past and never had any major issues with them. Maxtor (before merging with Seagate) also made solid hard drives back in the day, except for the low profile design which was prone to PCB failure, usually destroying the spindle motor controller. Seagate is much more reliable then Western Digital and I would recommend them to anyone.

OK, normally I don’t complain on my blog, but I am (as well as others) at my wits end with one particular internet service provider: WINDSTREAM! Windstream’s DSL has been so freaking slow and problematic, especially at night. This has been going on far too long and needs to be fixed NOW!

Windstream just so happens to be my ISP, and has been since 2007. When first signing up, Windstream was fairly decent. I never had any problems with them with the original 1.5 MBPS speed. Sometime later, a Windstream representative came knocking on my door and gave me a deal that allowed me to upgrade to 3 MBPS for the same price. There were no problems at the time and I still had trouble free internet from that point on.

Sometime in 2012, Windstream started getting slow during the evening hours and speedtest.net was telling me that I was getting about half of my 3 MBPS download. This lasted for about 3-4 months until the problem was fixed. Then, in March of 2013, I noticed that my download speed was once again about half of what it should be at night. For an additional $5.00 a month, I upgraded to 6 MBPS hoping that the download speeds will improve at night. Instead, I was getting the same result as the 3 MBPS download speed. Even less that at times.

Over the next few months, the download speed eventually got worse and speeds started falling to 2 to 1 MBPS. YouTube videos started defaulting to 360p or 240p resolution, even 144p if congested. Download speeds were unstable and were jumping all over the place, sometimes taking a time-out for a few moments before resuming. Websites would load incompletely and would not display styles or some pictures until a refresh was performed. Other times I could not access a site at all. However refreshing would always load the page with no problem, almost as if Windstream didn’t feel like loading the first time.

Within the last 3 months, Windstream has been absolutely atrocious! I started getting outrageous pings like 300ms and download speeds equivalent to a 56k modem, even slower at times with ridiculous speeds like 10 to 20 KBPS.

Now, here’s the thing. There is nothing wrong with my phone lines or my modem, they are all fine. After a quick Google search, it turns out that I’m not the only one experiencing these dog gone speeds. Windstream customers from states like Texas, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia are ALL experiencing iffy download speeds, even with speeds as high as 12 MBPS. Some are even complaining about long term outages. Go to Windstream’s Facebook page and just about everyone complains about their slow download speeds. An employee usually replies to customer’s posts. Visit a “slow Windstream” topic on dslreports.com and you might find that a Windstream representative (if that really who he/she is) replied to someone’s thread. However, both of them give me the impression that they don’t know what they are talking about or they are trying to hide the real problem that is plaguing the download speeds that so many are complaining about. With all the complaints that Windstream has received, it appears that the employees are completely clueless or suffer from short term memory loss. They tend to say the same thing for every complaint.

I can point out one reason why Windstream’s DSL speeds are so abysmal. I blame those Roku boxes and internet TV’s that allow you to watch video from sources like Hulu, YouTube, Netflix etc. Video is very demanding and a high speed internet connection that is 3 MBPS or higher is a must for most of these services. (It appears that many customers don’t realize the demanding part). As people ditch cable/satellite services for cheaper alternatives, they are often turning to internet streaming devices. These devices have obviously exceeded Windstream’s DSL capabilities and have done so very quickly. Some of the earliest “slow internet” complaints started appearing back in 2011, which was about the time when Roku boxes first became available. Now you have all these Roku boxes and internet TV’s that many Windstream customers cannot use because of slow speeds that would cause constraint buffering or low resolution/heavily compressed video. If I used a Roku/internet TV religiously and had to put up with slow download speeds, I’d be very P.O. as many Windstream customers with these devices already are.

So in conclusion, Windstream should get their act together and provide us with the speed that we are paying for. They should stop selling DSL to customers with speeds that they cannot offer and they should refund/deduct a percentage off of our bill until they can provide us with acceptable DSL.

As of spring of 2013, I’ve seen hundreds of Westinghouse solar lamps (item number 577105-08W) being sold at my local Wal-Mart for .97 cents apiece. The value of the components (battery, solar cell, LED) well exceeds the cost of the product, so I decided to pick up a few of them and see how well they perform.

When night fell, I noticed that the Westinghouse lamps were not as bright compared to my existing lamps, and for .97 cents, I really shouldn’t complain. I removed the light cap from the Westinghouse and from one of my existing lamps and laid them side by side for comparison. Both lights were outputting the same brightness. When holding the Westinghouse lamp over my existing fixture, the brightness was comparable to the other existing lamps that I had in my yard.

I believe I had the same problem with my existing fixtures when they were new. What happens after a couple years is that the plastic lens deteriorates from being in the hot sun. When it does, the lens develops a foggy look. The fogginess of the plastic acts as a diffuser and evenly distributes the light in all directions. LED’s shine in one direction, and that direction is down when used in most solar lighting applications.

So what is this all coming down to? Well, if you read my post about the Compaq Presario Power Light, you already know that I placed a piece of matte finish Scotch tape in front of the extremely bright power light to act as a diffuser. So why not try it with the Westinghouse solar lamps and see if it helps improve their visibility.

The lamps have a small amount of “neck” below the LED. This neck is perfect for applying some matte finish Scotch tape around it. I wrapped the tape around the neck twice making sure the tape completely covers the LED. (2/3 of the tape should cover the LED). When done, the tape resembled a straw with a LED in the middle. All I had to do now was wait until nighttime.

westinghouse_lamp_1 westinghouse_lamp_2

The tape defiantly helped, and the light looks brighter and can be seen from farther away. I was happy with the results, but the bottom-half of the lamp was still not well lit. I decided to improve the lamp by adding a straw inside the lens in order to help carry the light towards the bottom of the lamp. What I used was a clear wide straw from a fast food restaurant. (The Arby’s straws seem to work the best). I measured and cut off about 1¾ inches of the straw and then wrapped matte finish Scotch tape around the entire length of the straw in sections. Then I used some tape to hold the straw onto the base of the lamp, just below the LED.

westinghouse_lamp_3 westinghouse_lamp_4

When night came, I was surprised at what I saw. Although the straw allows some light to reach the bottom of the lens, it does give the lamp a cool fade effect, kind of like a flame. The straw makes the solar lamp look almost like a bug zapper with a long thin line in the middle of the lens. Overall, the modifications were worth the time and effort.

westinghouse_lamp_5 westinghouse_lamp_6

Those pop-up balloons usually become a nuisance while browsing the internet on certain sites. When you accidentally hover over a green double-underlined word with your cursor, a pop-up balloon, usually displaying an ad, is displayed. You can prevent most of these pop-up balloons from appearing by adding the following websites to your browser’s block list.

  • intellitxt.com
  • vibrantmedia.com
  • kontera.com

When you visit a page that contains content from the above sites, the tagged words will no longer be green and double-underlined, preventing the pop-up balloons from appearing.

If you have a Compaq Presario with that huge bright green power light, it probably drives you crazy. Here are some tips for customizing the power light and making it less distracting.

Make a Diffuser Using Scotch Tape
When the power LED shines though the plastic lens, it may not distribute the light evenly, or a beam of light may hit you in the eye at a certain angle. To fix this insert a diffuser made of Scotch tape in between the LED and lens. (See picture 1)

  1. Remove the computer cover and the front panel.
  2. Using Scotch tape with a matte finish, pull out about 3 inches of tape.
  3. Fold the tape in half with both sticky sides together. Make sure there are no creases or air bubbles in the tape.
  4. Remove the last screw in the first row of spare mounting screws and line up one end of the diffuser to that screw hole. Make sure the other end completely covers the power LED and clears the power button.
  5. While holding the diffuser, take a toothpick or a small screwdriver and punch a small hole though the diffuser and screw hole.
  6. Insert the screw though the diffuser and reinstall the screw back on the computer case.

Can’t See HDD Access Light
The hard disk drive access light may be hard to see because the brightness of the power light beams down into the access light lens, drowning out the access light. To fix this, you need to cover the HDD access lens with electrical tape. (See picture 2)

  1. Remove the computer cover and the front panel.
  2. Cover the entire HDD access lens with electrical tape. Do not cover the part where the HDD access LED shines directly into the lens.
  3. Apply some additional tape at the base of the lens.

Changing the Power Light
Replacing the power LED is very easy to do. You may want to replace the factory LED with one of a different color or brightness. The power LED is held in place with a fan connector, making replacement or upgrading easy. (See picture 3)

  1. Remove the computer cover and the front panel.
  2. Remove the retaining clip that holds the power button, power LED and HDD access LED.
  3. Remove the old power LED by straightening the one leg sticking out from the rear of the plug.
  4. Install the new LED

If the LED doesn’t light up when the computer is turned on, remove the LED from the plug, rotate it 180 degrees and reinstall it.

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