Formatting a USB Drive can be pretty straightforward. You plug in the USB drive and find it Windows File Explorer, and right-click > Format. While do this via GUI is simple and easy, if you want to repeat this for several USBs or automate this action, you probably want to do that via the command line to run as a batch script.
Today we will go over how to format USB drive via the command line.
Type “DISKPART” and Hit Enter, from the diskpart prompt, type “list disk” and hit enter. This should give you something look like below.
Microsoft DiskPart version 10.0.21364.1
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: AMDRYZEN3
DISKPART> list disk
Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt
-------- ------------- ------- ------- --- ---
Disk 0 Online 3726 GB 0 B *
Disk 1 Online 931 GB 0 B
Disk 2 Online 232 GB 0 B *
Disk 3 Online 14 GB 3072 KB
Disk 4 Online 14 GB 0 B
1. Select disk x (x represents your USB drive)*
For the example here my disk is #4, it should look something like below.
DISKPART> select disk 4
Disk 4 is now the selected disk.
2. Clean > Enter
3. Create partition primary > Enter
4. Active > Enter
5. Format fs=ntfs > Enter
6. Exit > Enter
It should look something like below. Note here I chose to format in NTFS you may use format such as FAT32 etc.
DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.
DISKPART> Create partition primary
DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.
DiskPart marked the current partition as active.
DISKPART> format fs=ntfs
90 percent completed
This is the walk through on how to format USB drive via command line.
While I was cleaning up some programs installed on my computer, I noticed this Microsoft Update Health Tools somehow magically showed up on the installed program list here:
The name sounds legit but is it really? What is it anyway?
According to AskVG, the “Microsoft Update Health Tools” program is installed by one of Windows updates, KB4023057 more specifically. It’s a reliability improvement to Windows Update Service components in Windows version from 1507, all the way to 20H2. It’s an update that makes sure updates are installed seamlessly on your devices. So it’s kind of important.
One thing to notice is that this update wouldn’t be installed via WSUS. What it means is that if you are in a network environment where updates are only delivered via WSUS, you wouldn’t be seeing this Windows Update Health Tools on your computer.
So, all in all, it’s completely legit and rest can be assured.
Earlier this month, Microsoft purchased a software company called Nuance. If you don’t know what that is, it’s essentially a speech recognition ‘AI’ company that allows you to dictation and convert speech to text. It was a puzzling announcement to me as all the rumours pointed towards Microsoft’s want to purchase the video game chat app Discord (yes, it’s more than just video games). Why would Microsoft want to purchase Nuance, and also why would Microsoft want another speech recognition when they already have one shipped in Windows 10 and, believe it or not, it’s great.
Today we will take a look at Windows’ built-in dictation, and all you need to do is press Windows + H. This will launch the dictation app, and you can start speaking to the microphone, and it will start turning your speech into text.
For this to work, you need first to select an input or text box where you normally would have the cursor in a typing area like Microsoft Word. Second, you need a working microphone. Thankfully with the pandemic, more and more machines have a microphone connected to the system.
If you have multiple input sources, say a Bluetooth-connected microphone that would pair up with the machine part-time and an always-connected microphone. You want to make sure the microphone you want to use for dictation is selected as the default input device Settings > Sound.
Here is a preview on how Windows dictation works in action.
Now you can stop typing and start speaking to your computer 🙂
The new Edge is great but since it’s from Microsoft, Bing is the default search engine out of the box. To change it, you can simply go to the Settings page, Privacy, search, and services, and click the Address bar and search at the bottom of the page. From there, you can manage search engines, add or set one as default, etc.
This will be fine if you are setting it for yourself. If you have many computers to manage through Active Directory, setting it up via Group Policy make things a lot easier.
Open Group Policy Manager, heading over to the following:
User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Edge
Double click the Manage Search Engines setting on the right.
Microsoft Edge has a beautiful new tab page that has a search box defaulting to Bing. So to make things a bit more consistently, I’d recommend to enable and set the “Configure the new tab page search box experience” policy to Address bar. What it does is that when you type the search term in the search box in the new tab page, it will redirect you to the address bar, which uses the browser’s default search engine.
The policy is located at:
User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Edge > Default search provider
Called dots and dashes, Morse Code is one of the oldest methods used to transmit text characters in standardized sequences of two different signal durations. Here, we are going to use one of the free web APIs out there to turn any text you input into Morse Code or vice versa, all in PowerShell.
$Text = Read-Host 'Text to Morse'
# URL-encode text
Add-Type -AssemblyName System.Web
$encoded = [System.Web.HttpUtility]::UrlEncode($Text)
# compose web service URL
$Url = 'https://api.funtranslations.com/translate/morse.json?text=' + $encoded
# call web service
(Invoke-RestMethod -UseBasicParsing -Uri $url).contents.translated
To convert a series of Morse Code back to plain English version, simply replace the API to Morse2English.
$Text = Read-Host 'Morse to Text'
# URL-encode text
Add-Type -AssemblyName System.Web
$encoded = [System.Web.HttpUtility]::UrlEncode($Text)
# compose web service URL
$Url = 'https://api.funtranslations.com/translate/morse2english.json?text=' + $encoded
# call web service
(Invoke-RestMethod -UseBasicParsing -Uri $url).contents.translated
Note that the free web API limits to only 5 request calls per hour so use it wisely.
Thanks to PowerTips for this awesome trick. If you want to create the real beeps based on the Morse Code, check it out.
Today, we will walk through one of my frustration when it comes to upgrading my own AMD Ryzen build from a Ryzen 3 1200 CPU (or any Ryzen 1000 series) to Ryzen 7 3700x Zen 2 (3000 series, or 3rd Gen Ryzen) CPU while keeping everything else the same. Some background sets the stage so you can reference if you have trouble upgrading the CPU when it comes with yours. I’m running:
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-AB350M D3H
CPU: Ryzen 3 1200 (was) => Ryzen 7 3700x (new)
4 slots of DDR4-2400 RAM each with 8GB from Samsung (this became important information later on)
The key information here is the B350 chipset. If your motherboard is from another manufacturer (i.e. MSI), you too can follow this guide; it should be very similar, but some specific steps might be different. This chipset, according to AMD, should support up to the Zen2 series of CPUs which is the lineup named with the Ryzen 3000 series. You also want to check with your motherboard to ensure it supports the CPU you wish to upgrade. It is also worth mention that reinstalling Windows is NOT required for this upgrade to work.
Troubleshoot Why CPU Upgrade Didn’t Work
After I followed all the steps were in the previous post. I started up the desktop, and nothing loads. I get a blank screen, and around 10 seconds, the PC would power cycle and continue reboot itself. And the motherboard I have does not have onboard diagnoses LED, so you can’t tell which part of the motherboard panic and didn’t even load the BIOS screen.
What ends up helping me solve the issue is the user manual and Gigabyte Support website. I missed two key steps when it comes to preparing the upgrade. First, I had no recollection of when and how I upgraded the existing motherboard’s BIOS. All I know it’s not running the original, and it’s the second most up-to-date BIOS version, which should support the new CPU that I’m upgrading to. This post a problem as, according to the Gigabyte GA-AB350M-D3H manual, you have to upgrade the BIOS in sequential steps! While you can jump and upgrade the BIOS to the latest, it often doesn’t contain the proper function if you skipped some required version.
The other missteps I made was if you want to use all four RAM slots on the motherboard with the new CPU you need to run the “EC FW update Tool” and this also requires the chipset to be upgraded. Otherwise, you cannot run even if you upgraded the BIOS with the proper step upgrade.
Note: 1. If you are using Q-Flash Utility to update BIOS, make sure you have updated BIOS to F31 before F40. 2. Before update BIOS to F40, you have to install EC FW Update Tool (B19.0517.1 or later version) to avoid 4DIMM DDR compatibility on 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen™ CPU. 3. Due to BIOS ROM size limited, NO Bristol Ridge (AMD 7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ X4 series) APU support.
As a result, the EC FW update Tool upgrade triggered the backup BIOS to load and my BIOS was completely reset to the original F version.
So this actually made the upgrade easier as the first required upgrade is F31, the next would be F40 and lastly, the latest upgrade is F51c. That is 3 BIOS upgrades if you wish to upgrade to the latest.
Once you are on the latest then try to swap the new CPU in again. This time it worked after many failed attempts.
I was about to open a return order for the new CPU and thought to give this one more try and this time it paid off. This speaks to how important to read every single instruction and have it well prepared if you want to do a heart surgery for your desktop. It worked for me hopefully it will work for you! I’m counting on this new build to last for another 10 year down the road.
If you’ve followed my previous few posts on CPU upgrades, you’ve learned that updating your motherboard’s BIOS is critical to having a successful upgrade. Regardless of your reason for BIOS updates, here are few different ways I want to share with you when it comes to upgrading a Gigabyte motherboard’s BIOS.
Method One: Install Gigabyte App Center and @BIOS app
The most straightforward method that allows you to update BIOS all within Windows and I recommend most folks use this method. All you need to do is download the utility and run the installer. Follow the onboard instruction to update the BIOS. In order to install @BIOS you need to first have the Gigabyte’s App Center installed.
Method Two: BIOS Q-Flash
The traditional method is to go to the BIOS screen and flash the BIOS version from there. For Gigabyte, the flash tool is called Q-Flash. You download the binary and put it on your USB, boot into the BIOS screen and find the version from USB to proceed with the upgrade.
Method Three: Q-Flash via Dedicated USB Plug Directly
Almost all modern Gigabyte supports this; you need to read and check the instruction menu for your specific motherboard. It would help if you looked for a USB that’s dedicated to Q-FLASH to update BIOS. The most recent one, it’s a USB slot with white strips on the tongue.
Unplug everything else and power on the motherboard, and it will proceed with the BIOS upgrade. For this method to work properly, you want to have a USB drive with LED read/write an indicator to tell when the update is finished. This is a good method to proceed if you have lots of hardware need to perform the same update. It requires no supervision, just the right binary for the bios in the root drive of the USB, and it will proceed with the upgrade.
Tab sleeping or Tab snoozing feature has been around on other modern browsers for a while. Some are using extensions and some have the feature built-in. Now Microsoft Edge has joined the group with a tab sleeping feature right out of the box.
As you can see, the sleeping tab is there to save resources and to improve the performance of web browsing. And because it reduces the amount of memory used for the browser, it also improves overall system performance.
Since Microsoft Edge version 90, the tab sleeping feature is enabled by default to put inactive tabs to sleep after 2 hours of inactivity.
However, if you are not fond of the feature or just want to tweak the setting a bit, you can still do it through Settings.
Go to System pages in settings via edge://settings/system.
Under the Save resources section, you can disable the Tab Sleeping feature by sliding the switch off.
Or, change the time of inactivity to anything that works for you.
Or, add websites that you want them to be live at all time.
I would say, give Tab Sleeping a try first before turning it off. If you are the one who always leaves tons of tabs open, you may get a lot of memory back with this feature.
May is here, and I hope all the moms have a wonderful mother’s day. Let’s all remember their love and their sacrifice in bringing every one of us to this world. This month, as usual, we brought you a wallpaper theme from Smashing Magazine. Enjoy! (ps. I apologize for the delay, of what normally would be the beginning of the month post to over a week later)
The new Microsoft Edge has an awesome feature that takes a screenshot of the entire webpage. Now if you want to preserve a copy of it, instead of trying to print it because it won’t work, you can simply press Ctrl + Shift + S, and click Full Page. Easy and simple.
But here is the problem. Since most of the web pages are super, super long, how can we print them off properly after taking screenshots of them? If you don’t want them to be printed on a single page with everything so tiny to read, you will need to find a way to properly print it across multiple pages.
Shockingly, if you saved the screenshot as an image file, the easiest way is to use Paint, the built-in graphic editor that’s been with Windows for ages.
Right-click the image file, go to Open with and choose Paint.
Then click File > Print > Page setup
In the Scaling section, adjust the Fit to numbers to something like 1 by 2 or 1 by 3 until you see the printed are filling up in the Preview section, like below:
Click OK to save the setting and go-ahead to proceed to print the entire page.
In terms of solving math, we’ve got calculators, online calculators, or search engines like Google or Bing. But none of them is cool and easy to solve a bit complicated math problems, such as one of those quadratic equations.
If you are not aware, Microsoft Edge has an secret math solver embedded in the browser. And here is how to enable it and use it.
Since it’s a released feature, we need to enable it first. Go to edge://flags page, type math in the search box, and enable it.
Once Edge is restarted, head over to the Settings page, Appearance section and switch the Math solver on.
You will see the Match Solver icon showing up on the toolbar. Clicking it brings up the Math Solver panel inside the Edge browser.
Now you have the choice of either select the equation on the web page or type out the math problem.
Click Solve, and here you go.
You can select on the method that solve the problem and show the detailed steps. And scroll down a bit more, you will see the graph of equation and share the solution to someone if you like.
Video formats are still messing up with us these days. The clips recorded from your phone may play well on your computer but when you send them away to others they may stop playing due to incompatibility codec issues.
Getting support calls asking for converting video format from one to the other seems to be a daily task sometimes. Here is what I use to accomplish these tasks, quickly, easily, and doesn’t cost a dime.
My secret weapon turns out to be one of my favorite media players of all time, VLC media player.
Open VLC media player, if you already have it installed, go to Media and select the Convert / Save… option.
In the Open Media dialog box that pops open, drag the video files that you want to convert into the File Section box, and click Convert / Save button at the bottom of the box.
Under Settings in the Convert dialog box, select the video or audio format from the Profile dropdown menu. Then specify the folder and file name you want to use before clicking Start to start the conversion process.
Each pre-defined Profile can be customized. Simply click the little wrench icon next to the dropdown box to open the Profile edition box and adjust the settings there if the pre-defined one isn’t good enough for your video.
And that’s about it, easy and effective.
Two more things I’d like to add that make my work a lot easier. One, you can convert multiple media files in batches. And two, you can extract the audio track out of a video file.
Imagine someone dumping over 50 video files to you and asking you to extract all the audio tracks and send them over back. With VLC, it can be done in one shot.
Windows 10 21H1, the first big feature update of the year, was released about a week ago. It’s supposed to be a huge, gigantic update with tons of new features. Instead, we are only getting a smaller one, much like 20H2 from 20H1, that just focuses on security improvements and polish. So, that being said, we will expect the second feature update of the year will be packed with new things.
I upgraded my computer the other night and honestly, I couldn’t really see anything different. So what exactly are new in Windows 10 21H1?
If you run into an error with your brand new machine when trying to run any custom scripts like npm, yarn or any node modules you might run into an error similar to below.
yarn : File C:\Program Files\nodejs\yarn.ps1 cannot be loaded because running scripts is disabled on this system. For more information, see about_Execution_Policies at
At line:1 char:1 + yarn + ~~~~ + CategoryInfo : SecurityError: (:) , PSSecurityException + FullyQualifiedErrorId : UnauthorizedAccess
To fix it, open PowerShell as administrator, again make sure to run this in PowerShell, not with the regular command prompt (cmd). Copy and paste the code below and run it.
Believe it or not, the Calculator app on Windows is pretty popular, useful, and powerful. People are freaked out if they don’t see it on their computer after upgrading their Windows, though it can be fairly easily downloaded from the Store app.
It can also be very easily opened up if you have a keyboard that has a media key designated to open it. But what if I am using a generic keyboard that doesn’t have any media key assigned?
Here are two ways of doing it.
Using the Taskbar
Let’s pin the Calculator app to the taskbar first. And then drag and move it all the way to the very left, like below.
In case you forgot, the first 10 pinned icons on the taskbar are automatically assigned a quick keyboard shortcut, such as Win+1 to open the first one, Win+2 to open the second, so on so forth.
So, moving the calculator app right up to the very left means the keyboard shortcut Win + 1 is now assigned specifically to it.
Now, if you ever need to open it, simply press win + 1, and then enjoy.
I am becoming a fan of AutoHotkey lately. It’s such a powerful scripting tool that can automate a lot of repetitive work. And it can also be very useful for simple tasks like assigning a keyboard shortcut to certain apps.
Add a single link like below to a file and save it as .ahk file.
Launch it and you get yourself a shortcut key combination Ctrl + Shift + C to automatically open the calculator app.
^!c:: run calc.exe
to assign Ctrl + Alt + C instead.
Or any combinations you may like.
What about other apps?
Well, the ways shown above are not limited only to the powerful calculator, but almost all apps you may wish to open frequently.
Microsoft’s Word Online has a pretty cool feature that automatically transcribes an audio file for you if you are an Office 365 subscriber. But what to do when you have an audio file that is bigger than 200MB, because that’s when you see the message like this?
The first thing to try is to convert to another audio format that is smaller but still maintains the same sound quality. VLC Media Play is the one that you can use to fulfill the task.
If that’s still not good enough, the next thing to try is to split the audio file. There might be one word or two being cut off at the split point at the end but it should do the trick.
Now there are a couple of ways of splitting an audio file. We can use an audio tool such as WavePad by NCH Software. It’s a powerful audio edit tool that has an audio split feature built right in. If you bought the software, you can use the automated split features like split automatic or split to equal parts. If you are just using its free edition, split at cursor can also do the job.
You can also make your own audio splitter, if you like, using PowerShell. PowerTip has a script already ready for you. It’s a function that you can call with parameters to specify the original audio file and the size of each smaller file. It works like a charm.
Windows Media Player, a long-standing and so so media player, for some reason is still living quietly even in the latest Windows 10 build 21H1. Though it doesn’t really get in the way because the default media player on Windows these days is the Grove Music app, if you don’t have a VLC player installed, it’s still nice if I don’t see it at all.
So, if you’d like to keep your system a tiny bit lighter, here are 3 ways to uninstall and remove Windows Media Player out of your Windows.
Open the Settings app by click Start > the little Gear icon. Go to Apps > Optional Features.
Scroll down a bit until you locate the Windows Media Player. Click it and Uninstall.
Now let’s do the legacy Control Panel way. Open Control Panel, head over to Uninstall a program, and click Turn Windows features on or off on the left.
Then under Media Features, uncheck Windows Media Player and click OK.
Now if you have a lot of computers to go through, you will need help from PowerShell.
Open an elevated PowerShell window, and run the following cmdlet.
A regular PC keyboard generally has 3 key locks. They are Caps Lock, Scroll Lock and Num Lock. While more and more keyboard layouts and PC manufacture have started dropping Scroll Lock for some years now, if you don’t have a number pad section, then you also don’t have a Num Lock. This leaves the only lock that’s consistent in almost all keyboards – the Caps Lock.
If for some reason, you press the Caps Lock and the light doesn’t turn off, this might be why. Check if pressing the SHIFT key would turn off the CAPS lock. If that does the trick, then the reason is your Windows setting had the CAPS lock only turned off by pressing a SHIFT key selected. You can fix this by going to Settings > Language > Keyboard.
Under the Keyboard setting, find the Input language hotkeysat the prompt under the “Advanced Key Settings” make sure to turn off Caps Lock is selected with Press the CAPS LOCK key instead of Press the SHIFT key.
Rest assured your CAPS-lock key isn’t stuck, and you can troubleshoot to see if this is a keyboard’s mechanic problem or a software issue.
If your CAPS-lock still not working as you were expecting, try disconnect and plug-in or if you have an option, swap out the keyboard this way. You can find out quickly if this is a software limitation or physical keyboard issue.
In the land of Electron apps dominating your daily computer life. Whether you are using VSCode, Slack, Discord or Microsoft Team, the platform behind the scene and its powers are the basics of a browser. More than anything, the speed of those apps is all depending on how fast a naked browser loads. Another way to put it, they aren’t as fast as they can be if it was created without chromium as the foundation.
Sublime Text, on the other hand, does not build with Electron. They are created with C++/Python that compiles down to native binary that runs on all 3 major OS. I’ve been a fan of the app for over a decade and still use it daily. Today we will go over three new changes in Sublime Text 4 (or just Sublime Text).
Gone are the days you purchase one license for each major version to get more features and more releases. The developer decided to change the license model, and each new purchase of the sublime text will give you 3 years of support and future upgrades. Please help contribute and support those developers behind the scene that made those tools so awesome.
Sublime Text Multi-Select Tabs
Sublime Text always supports multiple tabs, and you can customize the layout any way you want. But the catch is you have to know ahead of time what type of layout you want to use, and new files you open will then fit into the previously defined layouts. This is the case for almost all editors and IDEs. But Sublime Text made a step further. You get auto split views when you select more than one file from the tree. It’s definitely unique to Sublime that I haven’t seen in any other code editor, VScode included.
GPU Rendering Support
This is huge for those of you interested in performance. The new app support comes with GPU rendering support. It’s turned off by default on Windows, but you can turn it on and try it out. OpenGL powers the GPU support as it’s the lowest common denominator that all three OS supports.
// Enables hardware accelerated rendering. This moves rendering to your GPU,
// allowing for faster rendering at higher resolutions. Changing this
// setting requires an application restart to take effect.
// - "none": Performs CPU rendering.
// - "opengl": Uses OpenGL for rendering. Minimum required version is 4.1
// On Mac, this value is overridden in the platform specific settings.
It’s especially the case if you have a high res monitor, 4K or 8K monitors will experience more smooth and faster render for large files.
You can turn it on by going to the settings, finding the option above, and changing the value for hardware acceleration to OpenGL. If the app stops rendering, it might be a sign of issues with Sublime Text not compatible with your driver. You can always turn it off and let it render by the software (i.e. CPU) instead.
If you are a fan of Sublime and want to learn more about what it can do, be sure to check out some of the top features it has to offer.