Tech & PC Info

Useful Technical Information

Disclaimer. The following information was provided by Shed members and whilst most is generic and available from Microsoft and others, comments on any products are neither endorsed nor recommended by Melba Shed

Sending out emails from Melba ShedNote this is aimed at the Committee & others who send out emails from the Shed Email account or even their own Email Accounts – If you are sending out any emails from the Melba Shed Gmail account, addressees should be shown as BCC recipients and not as the ‘To’ recipient.   In other words, please address all multi-recipient emails to ‘Melba Shed’ and add all intended recipients under the BCC heading.  That way any recipient will only see their own email address and not every other recipients. This is necessary as a number of members have asked that their email addresses not be publicised

23 Feb 2018 – NBN Rollout Belconnen & Various Issues Involved.

This was discussed at the meeting of this date and included in the following Newsletter. This is a summary of some of the issues and general concepts. Most of Belconnen is being served by FTTN which requires every suburb to have 8-15 little green NBN FTTN Node cabinets which connect to the house using old Telstra copper pairs usually though a nearby pillar. Sometimes 5 or 6 pillars will be connected to the node cabinet. The Nodes connect to a main service centre at Telstra’s Scullin exchange for the NBN in Belconnen before being then carried on NBN leased fibre to the Points of Interconnect for Canberra at either Civic or Queanbeyan Telstra exchanges. Nodes in the eastern side of Belconnen appear to be connected to Telstra’s Belconnen exchange for the NBN. In NBN terminology Scullin and Belconnen Exchanges would be FANs or Fibre Access Nodes. Reference NBN Network Design Rules. A great forum for NBN technical information

NBN Node


Once your suburb or area is available for NBN you have around 18 months to move to the NBN or risk being cutoff after that time. A lot of ISPs will take pre-orders for an NBN service. You should be advised by the NBN by email or mail once you house is ready for connection. You then have to talk to an ISP to get connected which can take from several days to a month depending on your circumstances. Most providers (ISPs) will offer you a new VDSL modem/router with a phone port on it to plug in your old type phones. Some will charge for the modem, or at least for delivery; some will bundle it in. Some allow you to use your own compatible modem/router.

You can check when your suburb is ready on this map or check you address here. You can see a Google map that shows all the Nodes & Pillars for the Scullin NBN FSA. If you zoom in you can see the location of the nearest pillar and node to your place. Currently the suburbs of Mckellar, Evatt, Latham, Macgregor, Florey, Melba, Giralang are available for connection of the NBN. Mid 2018 the suburbs of Flynn, Spence, Fraser, Dunlop, Charnwood, Kaleen & some of south Belconnen can now connect to the NBN. Most of the ISPs will offer you a basic service ie 12Mb/s or 25Mb/s or higher speeds at 50/100 Mb/s. The TPG group including iiNet & Internode will not offer 25Mb/s any more effectively giving you a 50Mb/s service for the 25Mb/s price. Telstra has now followed suit but will automatically move all 25Mb/s users to the 50Mb/s service. Most of the others offer all speeds. Typically if you only require the phone and the internet for email and some browsing 12Mb/s should be adequate.

Some of the providers including most of the well known ones have come in for criticism for not providing enough bandwidth (ie CVCs) and thus users have been getting very slow speeds. Certainly if your a heavy user you probably should consider using a 50Mb/s service as the NBN will be increasing supply of bandwidth to such services which should improve their performance.


Typical Telstra Pillar

Telephone or Not. OK if you just want a telephone and no internet you can get a basic service which provides the old POTS or PSTN phone but it still uses the NBN and a VDSL modem. There are a range of options for not even having a phone number. Many will give it to you anyway and charge nothing for it. Usually you then will pay for any calls as you go. Many will also bundle phone calls, local, national and even to mobiles in for a fixed fee, often $10 per month with untimed calls. You can just have the internet from a traditional ISP with no number or phone, and then use MyNetPhone (MNP) or similar VOIP provider to make calls over the internet, and receive them for very low costs. They have a zero charge per month option or a pay as you go option, and $5 a year for a number option. Some of the ISPs make it harder for you to use an alternative phone supplier as they pre-program their own phone servers into the router/modem they supply. Some like Internode and Aussie Broadband allow you to bring your own modem and thus you have the choice of phone options. Note of course that all phone calls made through the NBN are really VOIP calls irrespective of if you plug the phone into the router or make calls via a computer.

Plugging the old Phone into the VDSL Modem. This could be one of the problem areas for many. The old Telstra socket you used to plug the ADSL modem or phone into  will now be used for the VDSL signal and has to be plugged into the VDSL DSL port. Thus you cannot use any of the old Telstra sockets assuming they are all in series. The solutions are to not use the sockets and just plug a phone into the modem phone port; or get a licensed cabler to restructure the cabling so you have one socket for the VDSL signal and the other sockets can be plugged into the modem phone port. Not simple as it may cost $100-150 per socket. Or lastly, use a cordless base station plugged into the modem with several remote handsets. Ok if you own the cordless system but may cost you $70-$200 for 2-3 handsets. However the cordless solution gives you more flexibility.

Porting Phone Number. Yes most are doing that as part of their plans for no extra charge. Some may charge around $30 for this facility.

Connection Charge. Most will not charge for NBN connection if you take a 1-2 year contract or if your an existing customer of theirs.

Whirlpool Forums provides a lot of information about the current NBN ISPs. If you scroll down their list of Companies area you can then look at lots of threads that will will tell you some of the issues faced by the early NBN users. Aussie Broadband does seem to be the favoured supplier in recent years as they appear to have provisioned their NBN bandwidth more liberally.

If you get into trouble getting connected you can talk to the NBN on telephone 1800 OUR NBN (1800 687 626) Yes thats a free call.

The Future. Telstra is planning to give new and re-contracting customers a smart Modem/Router that will have a 4G SIM included so users can continue their work if the NBN goes down. They may also consider a building a 5G SIM into future modems.

iiNet VDSL. This is NOT the NBN. Note they have been advertising this service heavily. It uses the old Transact Aerial FTTN cabling with copper cable as the last part of delivery. If you have this service or can get it then you can only use iiNet. Most will also be able to get the NBN which may be faster, or may not, depending on locations of NBN nodes and iiNet nodes. If you have the iiNet VDSL service you can keep it and ignore the NBN. When the old ADSL services and Telstra phone lines are finally all disconnected the iiNet service will continue to function. So iiNet VDSL is a total substitute for the NBN. You should consider it if you can get it as they offer special rates especially for the first 12 months.

As Mike Munk described if you get iiNet VDSL installed they will install a new feed in cable to your house and directly cable it to a new VDSL modem. You can then use the old Telstra internal cabling to plug multiple old phones into the new modem assuming they are close together.

Google Photos

Viewing Shed Google Photo Albums Sep 2016. These have been stored on Google Picasa since early 2009. Since Google has migrated all such albums to Google Photos (although these are still visible on a Picasa Archive) it is no longer possible to give members & others direct access to all our photos albums. Members can still see pictures &/or albums through links provided in Newsletters, emails or on the Shed web pages. To enable you to see most albums, links to these are now shown on the Web pages under:

  • The ACTIVITIES Tab on the top of the menu bar. You then need to select the year range TAB under. i.e. for 2015 to 2017 select the menu tab ACTIVITIES 2015-2017. You then scroll up or down the page to find the right date for those years. There will be a link to any album in there. This covers albums for excursions, special events like bowling & golf & various talks & BBQs
  • For Walks look under the menu tab for example 2016-19 WALKS and look for the right date in the table & then across to the right for Google Photos links
  • For Cycling look under the Menu Tab for CYCLING & look towards the bottom for any earlier links to cycle trips. Not all cycling trip have albums

The Pictures TAB at the top of the web site will take you to an archive site for Picasa which will still show any albums uploaded from Picasa desktop. This link thus may not show you all albums into the future but you can find all past albums. Unfortunately the order seems to be quite random & is time consuming sorting through lots of unordered albums.

Using & Managing Google Photos Sep 2016. Typically we upload pictures to Google photos in several ways: 1. Using the old Picasa desktop software that enables one to create an album of pictures, edit them & upload but typically this uploads pictures at a lower quality with around a maximum of 1600px (although its possible to choose 2048px or the original size) ; 2. Using the Photos desktop app which enables you to upload photos. Still unsure about the control on uploads with this option 3. Logging into Google photos online and then upload photos with the upload option. With this options you can choose the pictures & they get uploaded at full quality up to 16Mpixels at least. With Options 2 & 3 the upload is to the general bundle of photos in a similar manner to Facebook. You can then create an album & assign the photos to it. You can create an album with one photo and then go to the album and add photos to that newly created album. Photos can also be edited online. Google Photos Help Centre A photo can be added to several different albums but is stored only once. You can delete a photo from an album but it may still remain in the bundle of photos or any other album it is assigned to. You can also of course delete photos to trash where they remain for 60 days before being deleted, unless you manually empty the trash bin. You can restore photos from the trash bin.

From a long term management issue it is probably a good idea to create an album for any photos uploaded rather than having photos in one big bundle. Usually that will work for us as photos are associated with a meeting, excursion, cycle event, walk, golf, charity work or personal event. On other occasions the newsletter or web editors may wish to store pictures in Google Photo or Drive. They can create their own albums to cover these situations. Albums can also be created to make a slide show or a collage of photos

You can also add description text to a photo & an album at the top of Google Photos album. On each photo you click on & open, if you click on the “i” button (it means info) you can add a short description to photos. This functions as the caption. It can also be seen on the bottom of photos when opened individually. For a text description of an album, in album view you can select EDIT then ADD TEXT. A new full width window will open across the top of the pictures (actually it seems to appear under the top row of pictures & needs to be manually dragged to the top just above the first pictures) & you can add a paragraph or whatever similar to the descriptions we had in Picasa. However it will only show text. If you enter a url it will show the full url in text mode. You can have line breaks by pressing shift + return. Only the owner can add the text to the Photos Info area or album description text. However there is a COMMENT area that will appear at the bottom of the album screen & any viewer can add there comments there. Similarly there is a comments area on each picture just to the right of the Caption, if any

If viewers want to zoom-in on the maps & pics you go to the small looking glass on the top right & it will also open a small window with a black scroll bar on its bottom. If you are viewing one photo only, you can get to the next pic by selecting the arrow on the right in the middle. To go back you do the same on the left hand side. You wont see the arrow until you wave your mouse on the left. The arrow on the top left side will take you back to the whole album view. To download a pic select More Options on top right which is the set of three vertical dots

Aug 2016 – Most Google Picasa albums with links shown on various articles no longer work. However you could find the albums by going to the General Picasa link on the top bar of the site or here. Note they are not in any logical order (unless you are logged into the Shed Google account) & you will have to manually scroll through a couple of hundred albums. The Google Photos albums we have shown linked from Jan 2016 will be OK. Also we have gone back & in Google Photos created a new link to any old Picasa album. These are all shown with links in the Walks, Cycle and Activities Pages.  Any personal albums you may have created in Picasa & shared with anyone will also most likely need relinking.
Notes to any editors  DON’T delete any albums from Picasa as it will also delete it from any Google products including Photos  Also in Google Photos when logged into your Google account you will see all Picasa albums in historical order from day dot. They will all say SHARED. When you look in the Shared Albums list in Google Photos they will not be shown there until you go to each album and reshare it in Google Photos. These have all now been reshared in Google Photos. Further when you look into the Picasa Archives you will see all the Picasa albums in date order. If you are not logged in looking into the Picasa archive list will show albums in some strange unordered list making finding an album hard. Googles explanation on whats happening to Picasas Web Albums  It seems that most Melba Shed albums were not linked using our Google ID number Note. All Google Photos albums (including archived Picasa albums) are now shared properly from the start till the current time. For all walks Google Photos links are updated and linked properly from the start. All old Picasa albums for all activities are fully shared on Google Photos

General Items

5 Feb 2018 – Want to understand HDMI and various audio cable options then look at the Cable Chick’s Guides HDMI Buyers’ Guide 2017 and HDMI CEC ARC & Ethernet Simplified

So you want a cheep mobile phone plan which includes some data and no contract Check out Vaya Note its Optus G3/4 networks. Greg Hs use the Flexiplan $16 per month. This is a 1.5GB data plan with free calls to local, national and mobiles in Aust. Yes you can bring your own number across but you’ll get a new SIM card. You need an Optus compatible phone or an unlocked phone. Note as at Jan 2016 Amaysim has purchased Vaya but says it intends to key running Vaya as a separate entity.

If you want a cheap pay as you go prepaid plan look at Amaysim. Amaysim now has a $10.80 per month 1GB data plan with free calls to local, national and mobiles in Aust.

Use Your Mobile Overseas – TravelSIM Our son travelled overseas to Europe and Asia and took out an O/S SIM through them. It has an Estonian country code +372. However through this link you could send him free text messages (SMS)

Another option is to use Viber which uses the Internet to carry voice and text messages from Smartphones or laptops etc. They state “Viber is a mobile application that allows you to make phone calls and send text messages to all other Viber users for free! Viber is available over WiFi or or mobiles”.

Newer options are to use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Both enable mobile to mobile text, voice and video conversations over data bypassing the normal mobile voice and SMS charges. Messenger is free and WhatsApp is also free (Note Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014). Got Facebook then Messenger is the way to go

Testing of Solar PV Inverters. ACTEWAGL is sending out notices to those who have had solar panels installed to have their installation & especially the Inverter checked & certified as safe. Greg Hutchison received one such note in Sept 2014 asking that his installation be checked by a certified installer within 60 days. Letter | FAQ & doc req’d | Appropriate list of certifiers. Note Greg used SolarHub based in Mitchell as the certifier. The test costs $154 incl GST

Can’t Read PDF Documents in Google Chrome. Then read this and this

Some Information on Use of GPS gpx and kmz Google Earth Files

Updating Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can use web links in the Newsletter by Phil Laird

Cables, Connectors, Telephone Special Codes and More – Look at this site for a range of great technical information that you always wanted. Covers voice and data products for cabling, connectors etc. Go to their reference area

Want understand HDMI and various audio cable options then look at the Cable Chick’s HDMI Buyers’ Guide 2017 and HDMI CEC ARC & Ethernet SimplifiedThe Cable Chick’s Home Theatre Guides & Articles

Useful Computer Information

Windows 10 Anniversary Update in August 2016 (AKA Redstone) – This is a bit dated but shows what can be done. Starting from 2nd Aug 2016 Microsoft will try to update Window 10 users with a new version 1607. You can check your version by typing “winver” in the small search bar at the bottom of the start menu screen or in the Cortana search window. It should open a new screen with winver.exe at the top. It should then open another window & tell you your current  version which until 2nd Aug was Version 1511 (OS Build 10586.494). The new one is Version 1607 (OS Build 14393.10). You can either wait for the system to update your Windows 10 unit or go to Microsoft & use this site to update it. This downloads a small Windows App of 5Mbytes which when you run it downloads all the files & installs the update  Also Windows Central will show you how to upgrade using the media creation tool or even downloading the update files to burn them onto a USB to update other Windows 10 computers. This is the Windows Central link to get the ISO file for updating Windows 10 either 32 or 64 bit. You have to download the right version & have Windows 10 installed. Greg has the 64bit ISO & also now loaded on self booting USB if you need a copy. It requires 4.1GB so its best to use an 8GB USB. Its only for the 64bit Home or Pro English versions. This link to the Express which provides some clues & links for when the update fails. This happened to Greg on one PC update. It didnt fail to a freeze as some have experienced. It simply didnt fully update & rolled itself back to the pre-existing version & rebooted OK. Further attempts to update it didnt re-download all the file but revalidated them & tried to reinstall. It seems from searching for failed issues that the Microsoft app should be in the same drive ie system drive as Windows files, usually C:/ drive. Hopefully most users will get the update automatically or the manual app will do the job. Note the files downloaded are 3.5-4Gbytes. If you do it per machine it downloads all that data for each machine separately. Using the ISO file & burning it to a USB drive is the only way to avoid multiple downloads. Complex! Not really. But certainly messy
Now using the USB burnt from the ISO file: At the first try this failed & rolled back to Version 1511. However it provided an error message. “0xC1900101 – 0x40017 The installation failed in the 2nd Boot phase with an error in Boot Operation”. Expletive Deleted. This Microsoft site has help on such messages. If its not listed simply enter the error message into the search window on top of that site. After reading various comments it seems many have had this issue over the last year. Various options were discussed with no definitive solution offered, except its likely some software or firmware may need updating. So I used the computer management system to check for system updates and allowed it to do around 6 updates to various software such as drivers, video drivers, chipset, etc. Most modern machines such as HP, Toshiba & Acer have such management software available. Retried after these updates and the machine updated properly to 1607 version.

Using USB driver burnt from the ISO file – turns out to be simple & sweet. It is nominally a boot USB. I missed the boot so simply using Windows File Manager (the old Windows explorer) I went to the USB drive which was shown as (F:) & double clicked on the setup.exe file.  It went through and loaded OK. It allows for a fresh clean load or a simple update & keeping all existing files. The latter is the default. However you must be certain to ensure the Update box is ticked and the retain Existing files box is ticked. Then it does its thing over & hour or more. It doesn’t require downloading any files.

Recovery USB Drive – There is one thing you should do if you have Windows 10. Create a Recovery USB for every different device that has Windows 10. You can do that simply by searching for Recovery Drive in the Windows 10 search bar. When selected it will use Windows Media Creator to create a Recovery USB drive for you. Make sure you tick the box for Backup System Files to Recovery Drive. You must buy a 16GB USB drive for this service. It has to be dedicated so make sure it is empty and you label it and store safely and remember where it is. You should also learn how to boot from a device for you particular unit and test it. Just don’t run it until you really need it. I have used the recovery drive once already. It fixed a desktop that would not boot up. It did it quickly and easily. So your unit won’t boot then use the Recovery Drive and go to advanced options and select fix failed boot. Reference for help If you do not create a Recovery Drive, then you are an idiot!

Windows 8/10 Start Menu Want the Start Button and Menus back in Window 8/8.1. Want to start in the Desktop screen. Then check out Classic Shell, or Start Menu 8. They are free and very good. Classic Shell also works well in Windows 10 even with the latest 2016 update version

Want a free PC audit Try Belarc Advisor

Want to Clean a Disk or Registry. Wise’s free tools are good at these functions. It can also defrag the registry

Tweeking.Com’s System Repair Tools. These are impressive and can provide a detailed listing of very program on your system, as well as repair many problems in Windows. It has a comprehensive set of programs

11th Jul 2017 – AVID Media Composer First – If you want to try this free Media Editing Software (Mac/Windows) check this You Tube Video. | This is the link to the company where you can download the software

Google Photos Replacing Picasa

1 May 2016 – End of Picasa – Members should note that starting on this date Google will phase out support to Picasa and you will not be able to upload photos to Picasa on the web. Instead they are promoting Google Photos as the new online replacement. It has certain benefits and offers higher quality viewing at no cost. However there are issues as Photos offers no All Albums link nor Slide Show. Read this How to Geek article for some good information | TechCrunch’s view on the changes

Not able to access the web links in the Newsletter? (pdf version)

It’s almost certainly due to configuration issues with Adobe Reader. Here’s how to fix the problem:

  1. Remove (this step is essential) all existing copies of Adobe Reader (you may have multiple versions installed). [for Windows 7 go to Control Panel > Programs and Features and then select Adobe Reader and uninstall]
  2. Download and install the latest version of Adobe Reader DC from (make sure you deselect the McAfee Security Scan option before hitting the ‘Download now’ button)

Mac users – On the same download site there are versions for Mac OS and alternate languages. You can see all the Mac Adobe Reader versions here. This is the Adobe for Mac software from the Macupdate site

Cool free video-format-conversion software Want free software to convert video to different formats. You might like to try this one

Hoax emails There are a lot around purporting to get your to believe something and forward it on. You can check for hoaxes at Snopes or Hoax-Slayer

Ink Station Phil uses this site to buy discount quality ink cartridges for his Canon ink jet and Brother laser printers with huge savings over the genuine article

Free OCR Software

Have used this and it worked. Its called Free OCR 4.2. Its a bit hard to work out where to click to download just keep persevering

PDF Creation Programs

PDF Creator This is a free open source piece of software that enables you to turn your web page, your email or word document into a pdf file. Works well. You simply choose it as your print option and then print to it. It then saves as a pdf file – Bullzip PDF Printer Another excellent program that runs in a similar fashion to PDF Creator

FTP Program

If your looking for a nice free FTP program you might want to try this one, FileZilla I am using it in Windows 7 Ultimate and its great. I had trouble with Core FTP Lite which didn’t work well in Vista or Windows 7

Xplorer2 Lite

This is a free file management tool that makes it very easy to manage files on any Windows based computer. This is a great productivity tool that solves many of the usability issues with Windows Explorer. It can be freely downloaded

General Windows & Some Browser Shortcuts

You can find Apple Safari shortcuts here Note Apple uses Command rather than CTRL

F5 Function Key F5 will normally refresh a browser window

Windows 10: Press Win key plus E opens File Explorer

CTRL + F5 is a forced refresh and should normally refresh the view from the web server (Mac is Apple + R or command + R)

CTRL + C will copy text after it has been highlighted

CTRL + V will paste text that you have copied

CRTL + Z will undo any change that you have done

CTRL + ESC will bring up the Start Menu

CTRL + D will enable you to bookmark or edit it in some browsers like IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari

CTRL + F will open a small search box to search for things on the web page

CTRL + T will open a new browser TAB or window in most modern browsers

SHIFT + F3 will turn all capitalized text into lowercase

SHIFT + DELETE will delete an item immediately without placing it in the Recycle Bin

ALT + TAB will bring up a Window with a list of icons representing programs which are currently running on your computer. While holding the ALT key, press and depress the TAB button to cycle between each icon task

ALT + ESC will switch to the next task running on your computer. Hold down the ALT before pressing and depressing the ESC key to cycle to the next task

CTRL + ALT + DELETE will bring up Task Manager and allow you to end a process (terminate a program) if it has crashed or has stopped responding. Select the process which has stopped responding, and then press “END PROCESS”

SHIFT + INSERT will paste any text that is in your clipboard. Your cursor must also be placed in an area that will accept keyboard input for this to work