Some Nerdy Stuff

October 29, 2009

No Windows 7 driver for your printer? Use XP Mode.

Filed under: Uncategorized — aaronls @ 4:35 pm

I needed to print a coupon today, and found that there are no Windows 7 64bit drivers available for my Lexmark Z605 printer, despite the fact that Microsoft’s compatibility site claimed that there was.

So I wondered if I could print from a Virtual PC, and found this guide but I knew this would only work if the Printer was connected to a parallel port.  So try method 2 if your printer is on a parallel port.

Method 1 of the guide showing how to set it up as a network printer would not work because I would need a driver loaded on the host OS(in my case Windows 7 64bit).

This is where XP Mode comes to the rescue, because unlike older versions of Virtual PC, it does a great job of sharing USB devices with the guest OS running under Virtual PC.  If you don’t know what XP Mode is, it is just a fancy computer simulator which simulates you having a second computer running Windows XP.  Follow steps 3 and 4 here to download and install XP Mode and then install the Windows Update which adds Virtual PC for Windows 7 (Note that this Virtual PC is different from Virtual PC 2007, in that it has tighter integration with Windows 7).

After these two items are installed and you have rebooted, you can run XP Mode from Start Menu->All Programs->Windows Virtual PC->Windows XP Mode.  After you go through the steps to load up XP Mode, and you are at the Windows XP desktop, select your printer from the USB menu at the top.  What this will do, sometimes taking a few minutes, is transfer control of the USB printer from the Windows 7 host to the Windows XP guest in Virtual PC.  You should get a little popup in Windows XP from the sytray indicating a device has been attached once it finishes transferring control. Now you can download and install the Windows XP printer driver and setup your printer just as you would have done in Windows XP (32bit), which sometimes is a daunting process in itself.  Given that Windows XP has been around for almost a decade, I will leave you to the rest of the internet for detailed info on that.

So this provides a workaround for those who, like me, chose to dive into the 64bit version of Windows 7 and found that their printer is lacking 64bit drivers, or lacking Windows 7 compatible drivers entirely.

October 25, 2009

No audio in Windows 7 due to incorrect default settings.

Filed under: Uncategorized — aaronls @ 8:55 am

I have an older motherboard with a RealTek ALC882 chipset providing audio support.  I installed the “High Definition Audio Codecs (Software)” from, then rebooted, but still had no audio.  Clicking on the speaker icon in the systray and selecting Mixer brings up the volume controls which also showed the decibal meters jumping as I played sound, but I could hear nothing.   My soundcard/chipset, like many others, supports a technology that allows the driver to detect when speakers, headphones, or input devices have been plugged into jacks on the computer.  The problem was that the speakers that were plugged in were being defaulted to rear speakers instead of front speakers.

There are two things that one should try to resolve this issue.

First, right click the speaker icon in the systray, and select Playback devices.  Your computer may have several output devices listed here, which may be because you have some jacks supporting analog audio(most common; listed as Speakers), perhaps additional S/PDIF jacks supporting digital audio(in my case listed as Realtek Digital Output), and sometimes an HDMI output if your graphics card support an HDMI connection because HDMI can carry an audio signal as well on the same cable( list as ATI HDMI Output).  In my case I am only concerned with the Speakers playback device.  I made sure there was a green check mark on the icon for the Speakers indicating they are the default playback device (if not, rightclick and select Set as Default Device).  I then left clicked the Speakers to select them and click the Configure button at the bottom left. This takes you through a wizard for configuring the output.  Try to select the settings that your speakers support, and if this doesn’t correct your audio then click the Configure button again and try different settings in the wizard.  In my case I have a left and right speaker and a subwoofer, so I selected 5.1 Surround, then on the next screen deselected Center and Rear pair since I do not have those speakers.

Should this not work, you can also unplug and plugin the speakers to see if your audio driver detects the speakers being plugged in and asks you what kind of speakers they are.  In my case this was the source of the problem, as the RealTek driver was detecting them as a Rear pair instead of a Front pair.  When it prompted me I simply slected Front and this solved the problem immediately.

Troubleshooting Windows 7 desktop resolutions.

Filed under: Uncategorized — aaronls @ 8:22 am

After upgrading to Windows 7, users may experience problems where Windows 7 tries to use a resolution or refresh rate that is not supported by their monitor, which in most cases will just present a blank screen with a monitor message indicating something along the lines of “Mode not supported”.  For example, when connecting a Samsung 50″ HL50A650 DLP television via a VGA connection, only a few resolutions are supported and for those most only support a 60Hz refresh rate.  Windows 7 may incorrectly detect the monitor and default to a resolution or refresh rate not supported (users have reported a incorrect default of 59Hz to be a problem).  Since the user has only a blank screen, it is impossible to change settings to troubleshoot the issue.

1) First, the user needs to either boot into a VGA Safe Mode (via the Enable VGA Mode option accessed by pressing F8 during bootup) and hope the defaulted resolution is supported by the TV/Monitor, or temporarily connect a monitor that Windows detects correctly.

2) Now the user should download and install the latest drivers for their graphics card.  Then connect the problem TV/monitor, turn it on, and reboot the computer.  If the TV/monitor is not connected and turned on before booting up the computer, Windows may not be able to detect it correctly.

3) If step #2 did not solve the issue, the next step is to disable the Extended Display Identification Data (EDID), which should prevent the graphics driver from trying to guess the monitor’s capabilities, since it is clearly doing a poor job of guessing.  The following is how to do so using the Catalyst Control Center for thus running that driver suite with an ATI graphics card.  If anyone with this issue on an NVIDIA card is able to provide the equivalent steps, please do so in the comments.

For ATI Catalyst Control Center:

3.a) Right click an empty area on the desktop, and choose Catalyst Control Center.
3.b) In the top left Graphics menu, choose Desktops & Displays.
3.c) In the bottom left where a monitor icon is shown, click the black triangle and in the menu that is displayed click Configure…
3.d) Clear the checkbox for Use Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) or driver defaults.  This will prevent Windows from attempting to change resolution and refresh rate settings when it incorrectly detects the monitor during bootup.
3.e) Now set the Maximum resolution setting to what the monitor’s specifications indicate is it’s maximum, and also set the maximum refresh rate.  In the case of the Samsung 50″ HL50A650 DLP, set the Maximum refresh rate to 60Hz and Maximum resolution to 1920×1080.  Click Apply.
3.f) From the Graphics menu, select Desktop Properties.

3.g) Set the Desktop area and Refresh rate to a resolution and refresh rate known to be supported by the TV/monitor.  The Force… menu can be used to force settings in the case that the ATI driver doesn’t think your monitor supports those settings.  Be absolutely sure that the TV/monitor supports these settings, as there is a chance that it could be damaged by using incorrect settings.
3.h) Click Apply to save the settings, reconnect the TV/monitor you intend to use if you had swapped it out for troubleshooting, and reboot.

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