Fixing a stuck Windows key

NOTE: I have totally rewritten this post as the original solution was crap. This one works!

I’ve been having an issue with the Windows key being “stuck.” It’s as if the key is being constantly pressed and before you ask, it is not a physical keyboard problem. The problem stems from Windows itself as I will show below.

An Internet search will lead you to several common solution suggestions. The most common ones are trying a new keyboard or blaming it on Windows Sticky Keys feature. Neither of these are the culprit, but go ahead and try. Even in Safe Mode, the key seems to be stuck! Read more

Problem controlling rear side windows on Lexus RX350 from drivers seat

After replacing the battery on my 2008 RX350, the front driver controls for the rear side windows no longer worked. I searched the Internet and found an interesting post that made little sense, but I tried it and it worked. Basically, you just lower and raise the rear side windows (from each door) twice and the front driver controls will magically work again!

I deleted 75GB of useless files created by Windows in the CSC folder!

Ever heard of the C:\Windows\CSC folder? Me neither, but I noticed recently that a scanning program I was running was stuck on this folder, sifting through thousands and thousands of files. The folder appeared to be otherwise empty and Windows wouldn’t let me open it to see what was in it. After a quick Internet search, I learned that CSC stood for Client Side Cache; it’s where Windows keeps copies of network files and folders so you can use them if the network goes down. This feature is enabled by default. Based on what I was seeing, I knew there were a lot of files being stored there, but I didn’t think it would end up being 75GB! Read more

Migrating iTunes from Windows XP to Mac OS X

I decided that I wanted to move iTunes from my Windows XP desktop to my new MacBook Air. You’d think that Apple would have “a button” to do that. You’d be wrong. There are many how-to blog posts that talk about how to copy over the files. I tried a few, but none seemed to be very straight forward. Playlists and Apps seemed to be the major stumbling block.

Anyways, I found a third-party application called CopyTrans TuneSwift which worked like a charm. For only $15 bucks, it was worth every penny. It basically creates an archive of your iTunes library on the Windows side and provides a OSX utility that unarchives things on the Mac side. The instructions want you to use an external drive, but it worked fine using a shared network folder. The basic steps are:

1. Run CopyTrans TuneSwift
2. Click the Transfer button
3. Click the I want to transfer my iTunes Library to Mac button.
4. Set the target folder (removable storage or network share) and click  Start Transfer button. This takes a LONG TIME since it is archiving all the media files.
5. When the archiving step is complete a web page will open that provides a link to the Mac restore application, which you download and run on the Mac (obviously). This takes a LONG TIME too…
6. When the library is restored, you run iTunes BUT you are supposed to hold the Option key down which allows you to select the new iTunes library. Now, I think I messed up on this step, but iTunes seemed to use the new library anyways.
7. That’s it.

Everything came over as expected and my iPhone 4, iPad (first gen) and iPad 2, all connected and synced with no issues.

The one exception is Photos and it’s mainly because Apple treats them differently that audio and video media. If you’ve ever tried to get pictures over to an iOS device, you know what I’m talking about–pictures are the bastard children of iTunes for some unknown reason. Fortunately, it’s not a big hassle to get your photos over too. I created a folder on my Mac under Pictures called My Photos and copied all my photos from the Windows iTunes folder. Then, I set the iOS device to Sync Photos and pointed it to the My Photos folder. (Initially, I tried using the iPhotos folder, but it just seemed too heavy-handed. I may use that in the future once I get more comfortable with it.)

Hope this helps you!

Add or Remove Programs: “Please wait while list is being populated” solution

Suddenly, every time I ran the Add or Remove Programs on my Windows XP machine, the window would just say “Please wait while list is being populated…” and just stay that way. Well, after reading countless sites I finally found the solution here. Who is the culprit??? F’ckin Java!!!

Basically, you just run RegEdit, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/Current Version/Uninstall. Search for Java entries and look at the DisplayIcon Value Data. It has a bad path with two backslashes, like C:Program FilesJavajre1.6.0_02\binjavaws.exe. Just delete one of the extra backslashes in all of the entries you find. Reboot and Add or Remove Programs should work fine after that.

I really didn’t need another reason to hate Java, but there it is…

UPDATE  2010-07-09:
An even better solution is to just uninstall Java altogether! Can’t think of why I need it. This also solves the constant update nag notification in the system tray too! Make sure you still run RegEdit and kill all traces of Java that the uninstall leave behind as well as the Program FilesJava folder. Ahhhhh….that’s better.

UPDATE 2010-08-07:
The problem came back again so maybe Java isn’t the sole culprit. I got a copy of PC Tool’s Registry Mechanic at Staples (for an amazing $14.99) and it didn’t fix the problem, although my PC seems to run smoother after using it. Then I tried running the Windows command “SFC /SCANNOW” and that seemed to fix things again. (Make sure you have your Windows install CD before running.) Hope this fix sticks cuz I’m sick of fixes!

UPDATE 2010-12-04:
I FIGURED IT OUT!!! Based on my research, the Add or Remove Programs app can get hung up due to a problematic external drive. I didn’t have one attached, but then it occurred to me that I did have a “virtual” one: an FTP site mapped to a drive via NetDrive. Sure enough, when I disconnect the mapped drive, the Uninstall list populated instantly! Not sure the best way to solve, but I’ll probably just turn NetDrive on and off as needed and not let it autoconnect upon booting. Whew! So happy to solve this mystery!

UPDATE II 2010-12-04:
I deleted a bunch of empty random folders on the FTP site–have no idea how then got there–and now NetDrive seems to coexist fine with Add or Remove Programs. Not sure if this will continue, but I am sure that this is the culprit when I encounter uninstalling issues. Guess I just have to see if the problem crops up again.

Make gMail your default Windows email client

I don’t run into it alot, but everyonce in a while I’d like to click on an email link to send an email. You know, something like [email protected]. Well, unfortunately, I use gMail which is a web-based email client. Since you can’t set a web-based email service as the default Windows email client, Outlook will execute and the email will get sent from there. (My default Windows email client is Outlook, but I don’t use it very often. ) To circumvent this, I’ll cut and paste the email address into gMail.

Affixa has a nice little app that runs in your system tray that allows you to set your default Windows email client to a web-based email service like gMail. It even supports custom Google Docs domains.

If you enable the “I’m happy to let Affixa log into gMail for me” option and enter your mail login info, you should also enable the “Launch GMail after creating a draft message” option.  If you don’t, Affixa creates a draft email that you have to dig up and edit.

Now apparently the main purpose of Affixa and the reason for its name, I’m assuming, is a feature where you can accumulate files into a “basket” and email the basket of files in one operation. You can save and load baskets, if needed. Basically, its the shopping cart metaphor.

I suppose this could be handy under the right circumstances. Normally, if I were sending an email with a bunch of attachments, it can be a pain to set the email and then hunt down all the desired files. Using Affixa, I can accumulate the files beforehand and then email in a simple operation.

The best part is the free version is pretty useful and ad-free. Check it out.