A Guide to Disk Imaging, Backup and Restore

March 19, 2012 by . 3 comments

So I finally get to write my own entry for the Super User Blog! Very excited to be here. I’ve been asked to write specifically because I’ve just started working as a developer for Macrium Reflect, a disk imaging solution for Windows-based PCs and super user features a lot of backup questions. So here goes, an as-close-to-canonical tour of disk imaging as I can write. I’ve tried not to be overly technical here, whilst giving you the knowledge to understand the essentials; however, it gets technical from time to time.

more »

Filed under Backup & Restore

Windows 8 & Metro with Mouse and Keyboard

March 9, 2012 by . 11 comments

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months, you probably know all of the following:

  • Windows 8 is the name of Microsoft’s new version of the operating system.
  • Windows 8 sports Metro, an attempt to introduce touch interactions as a first class citizen in Windows without crippling mouse and keyboard interaction.
  • Windows 8 is different. If you’re stuck in 2001 with Windows XP, or GNOME 2 and/or KDE 3, obviously you also aren’t going to like Windows 8. Also I have a few dancing bunnies for you to look at.

This is the most important thing to realize: Windows 8 is different. Different in huge, important ways: It marks the transition to a brave new world in ways similar to what Windows 95 did. To do so, it abandons UI conventions that have been around us since then. The Start button? Gone. The Start menu? Gone. Pressing Start to shut down the computer? No more. Menus (and ribbons)? A thing of the past. Titlebars? Oh, please.

more »

Filed under Reviews, Windows

Understanding the “improved” in VIM

March 6, 2012 by . 5 comments

Sometimes, every once in a while, a programmer feels like I do. VIM should be more efficient, more effective for editing text files yet I find myself reverting to the modern mouse-based approach more often than not.

A rather famous question on Stack Overflow asked for tips on how to be more productive with VIM – and he got one of the best answers I’ve ever seen. Not a list of tips but a working, detailed explanation from Stack Overflow user Jim Dennis. It’s so good, I am copying his answer’s raw source here, running it through the Markdown parser and copied it here.

So, without further ado, over to Jim’ amazing answer.

more »

Filed under Utilities

Kon Boot: Getting into a Client’s Computer without using a Portal Gun

March 1, 2012 by . 3 comments

Okay, here you are again. Another computer from another (self-proclaimed) client for you to fix. So, let’s boot this thing and see what’s wrong with it this time. Okay, first obstacle; logging into the client’s user account. Now for me, repairs would usually pause here while I’m waiting for the moment I can get a hold of my client and ask him or her for the correct password. Annoying…

more »

FFmpeg: The ultimate Video and Audio Manipulation Tool

February 24, 2012 by . 17 comments

What is FFmpeg?

Chances are you’ve probably heard of FFmpeg already. It’s a set of tools dedicated to decoding, encoding and transcoding video and audio. FFmpeg is based on the popular libavcodec and libavformat libraries that can be found in many other video conversion applications, like Handbrake.

So why would you need FFmpeg? Got a video in an obscure format that every other player couldn’t recognize? Transcode it with FFmpeg. Want to automate cutting video segments out of movies? Write a short batch script that uses FFmpeg. Where I work, I constantly have to encode and process video material, and I’d never want to go back to using a GUI tool for doing this.

This post is a follow-up on Video Conversion done right: Codecs and Software, where I discussed the various codecs and containers that you can find these days. For a quick overview, I’d suggest to read this one as well, because it covers some important basics.

Now, let’s dive into the more practical aspects.

more »

Filed under Compression, Software, Utilities

WTFriday: What happens when Windows runs out of Disk Space?

February 17, 2012 by . 13 comments

I have been using the Windows 8 Developer Preview for about 5 months or so and in order to install it on my PC, I had to create a rather small partition on my primary hard drive consisting of only about 16GB. Thankfully, a clean install of Windows 8 will fit comfortably within that space and still provide enough room for some basic utilities and drivers (of course, I do have other secondary partitions that I use for installing applications).

During the installation of a particular application, the free disk space on the partition dropped to about 28MB. One of the users over in the Root Access chat room suggested that I try filling the disk until it is completely full and then blogging about what happens – hence this article. I was a bit reluctant at first since I didn’t want the hassle of reinstalling anything if it became corrupted somehow, but since I have up to date backups of everything, I decided to proceed anyway.

more »

What is DNS and which Server do I choose?

February 16, 2012 by . 3 comments

Some have heard about DNS and perhaps once configured in a router without knowing what it is or how it works. Others might know it, but haven’t considered to use another DNS server than the one of their ISP. This is what I will go through in this blog post.

DNS simply stands for Domain Name System, which is a hierarchy of Name Servers that have the intent to translate host names into IP addresses on a global scale. A name server hosts and/or caches these translations. In the case where they are at least hosted, the name server is often called a “DNS Server”. If you gave the host name superuser.com to a DNS server, it would give you an IP back. In our case, that would be something like

more »

Filed under Browsers, Networking, Utilities

What Browser are Super Users using and why?

February 13, 2012 by . 10 comments

Out of curiosity over a question I saw on Ask Different, I created a poll on web browsers for you. My main goal is to find out why people use one browser over another. Is it actually better, or do you just use it because it’s the default browser? The survey is for users of all OSes, including iOS and Android. We will come back in a couple of weeks to post the results from the survey.

Please feel free to take the survey multiple times if you regularly use multiple operating systems. You can visit my survey on Google Docs here.

You can take a look at the final results in this Google Docs spreadsheet.

WTFriday: http://2915189091

February 10, 2012 by . 7 comments

Have you ever heard of a link like http://2915189091? Don’t worry, not a shock site…

While this does not always work in every browser (eg. some versions of Firefox), it does work in most browsers like MSIE and Google Chrome. It really depends on the implementation of how the URL is parsed, Firefox seems to not go beyond our usual ways to type a URL.

This is all about how the URL is stored. Many of you know that you can also access Google through their IP, eg. Now let’s see how much data storage that IP requires. As one character is 1 byte for ASCII, it takes 13 bytes to store the IP address. Or with Unicode (UTF-16) you will need the double, 26 bytes. Another way to store the IP is by taking each number and storing that apart, resulting in unsigned octets from 0 to 255 which each take a single byte, so that totals out at 4 bytes.

more »

Filed under Uncategorized

Are you interested in writing Blog Posts?

February 9, 2012 by . 3 comments

The purpose of the Super User Community Blog is to highlight what you want to see.

We are always excited to bring new writers and editors to the Super User Community Blog; so, if you are interested in contributing, please let us know! There are various ways in which you can contribute — ranging from your own stories to product reviews, tips and beyond. Don’t be afraid that you don’t come up with an idea because we already have some ready for you, but you are always welcome to share your own ideas…

Writing a blog post is simple:

  1. Register at Trello and leave us a message in the Super User Blog Editor Room with your Trello user name, we’ll set up access for you so that you can see our ideas and share your progress. Consider bookmarking both links for your convenience.

  2. You can start writing your post while you wait, we can later import it from any format into the WordPress Dashboard. Keep us up to date on your progress, so we can give you access to our WordPress Dashboard after you have shown a first draft, as well as proof-read and schedule your final version.

  3. The Blog Editor Room and Trello are our main communication points about the blog, feel free to share your progress in either. Remember that we are here to help you…

  4. Have fun! Enjoy expressing yourself, as well as being part of the Super User Community.

From idea to draft to finished post.

Blog posts mainly develop out of ideas and questions, for some you might have to do some research. From that point on you can think up the different paragraphs you will write in a draft, then it’s a matter of writing and rewriting them. Just writing one paragraph after another might not cut it for some…

Add some nice pictures for those that are easily distracted, get at least two other editors to proof read the blog post and we’ll schedule it for you. Please note that we don’t publish blog posts immediately, but intend to spread out the posts such that we regularly have new content and they are published at an optimal time. We’ll do this for you.

Don’t have a fear of writing, you know you have been doing it before!

Filed under Super User