Quickly enable or disable external monitor on laptop

I often have to quickly move my laptop from the office and go to a meeting or client site where I do not have the luxury of plugging in an external monitor. Unfortunately the laptop doesn’t know this and will continue to send applications to the previous screen it was in. As I typically have Lotus Notes running on the external monitor (as it has a higher resolution) this means I have to manually go in and disable the external display. This is annoying and a little time consuming so I went hunting for an application that would automatically do this.  I had thought of using sendkeys to do it myself but I didn’t really want the dialog boxes to appear on the screen.

Over at donation coder, a post in the forums came up with tv_out by nod5  Download this application, extract to a directory and then double click tv_out. This will then create a shortcut on your desk that you can use to toggle the external display on and off. By editing the ini file you can change the location for the shortcut. As I don’t really want to display the desktop and then toggle the display I have actually changed my location to be in the quick links toolbar that is always displayed.

Another application I have downloaded from donation coder is the excellent screenshot captor. This does really nice screenshots and has some nice tools for creating borders, highlights and annotating the captured image. The only drawback is that I often find it crashes the first time I use it, but after I reopen it, it seems stable.  (Note that I was running an old version (now corrected) so this may be fixed in the new version)

Update I forgot to mention that this application is directly compatible with Live Mesh as LM creates a virtual screen so my extended desktop becomes display 3 but tv_out only toggles display 2.  There are some instructions to change this – that is a future project for me….

Laptop battery fire demonstration

A video showing the effects of a laptop battery exploding – After watching this I’m not sure I ever want to use a laptop again! What makes me laugh is the comment “if this happens move away from the laptop” – I think that if smoke starts pouring out of a laptop it wouldn’t be on MY lap for much longer. The speed, temperature and explosion of the subsequent battery cells is pretty scary (but needs to be seen, especially by people who don’t want to send their laptop battery back after it has been recalled.)

Samsung laptop first thoughts

Well in the end I did get the Samsung Laptop from simply computers, but only after working out all the sales information myself.
The laptop was out of stock, despite the web page showing 12 in stock, but they were going to have some more in stock the following day (thursday). I opted for the three day delivery as it was cheaper and also purchased the student/educational/charity version of office standard at £100 (plus the option of 30 euros for a copy of access if required later which is a real bargain). Anyway, office arrived on the Thursday and the laptop arrived on Friday.
It had to wait until this afternoon before I started to install it…….and then had to stop. When you open the laptop up, there is a protective sheet over the screen with a sticker which says “Please charge the battery before use – see user manual for more information” – guess where the user manual is – yep, on the hard disk! Its annoying when you get a new toy/gadget and then have to wait *hours* to actually use it.
One good thing about the laptop is that it comes with 1yr return to base warrenty and if it is registered within 30 days, this is upgraded to a 72hr turnaround – a lot better than Toshiba’s 1.5 weeks.
It also comes with 802.11g, which my router supports so it will be interesting to see how fast this is, as all of my other equipment is only .b capable.

Laptop returned

As mentioned in the previous post, I had to return my Toshiba laptop for repair yesterday. The mouse has been going haywire and after being told to install the mouse drivers from the Recovery CD (of all the weird places to put drivers – personally I would have put them on the Utility and Drivers CD) and not finding it on either of the supplied cd’s I rang back up and was told they would come and collect it. Didn’t bother telling me how long it would be before I’d get it back though (and I didn’t want to depress myself by asking). Their website says that its a hardware fault so fortunately there was no arguing needed to persuade them to fix it. Shame there was no on-site warrenty purchased though.
Incidentally the nipple mouse is more politically referred to as an Accupoint mouse.

Laptop Cooler – pt2

Further to my post about heat issues with the laptop I had several comments from readers (who had not posted on the blog before) and one *extremely* nice email from the uk distributor of the ByteCC laptop cooler who very kindly offered me a complimentary one due to the number of referrals my blog had passed onto them! I then had to wait a couple of days for the postal strike to ship it to me and I’ve been using it in the office for a couple of days so far.
My intitial impressions have been very favourable. With it on the desk the pc is really cool and there is NO heat felt on the laptop when iyou place a hand on the bottom of the machine. The toshiba is a bit too big to fit on the shelf as the whole laptop balances backwards if placed up against a the bottom ridge so instead it has to have the bottom ridge resting on the bottom of the laptop but this does not seem to detract from the usefulness or effectiveness of the device and it also holds the laptop at a convenient angle for typing with. I brought it home tonight to use with Kristens laptop which fits nicely on the shelf.
My initial concern was how it would work when placed on my lap as I didn’t really fancy getting my trousers or legs stuck in the fans which are placed underneath the shelf. From my experience so far this is not a problem as the fans are well protected with grids over the bottom and plastic “walls” around the side of the fan casing (as you would get in a normal pc fan). The cooler is fairly noisy and you certainly notice it when it first starts up or if you are the only one in the room with it running although its not *that* noisy and you soon get used to it. I’ve not had any complaints from the three people who sit at the arrangement of four desks in the office about the noise and in our office environment it really is not noticable.
I’d certainly recommend it if you need to keep your machine really cool and it will save your legs from getting burnt!

Boot to Windows.

Finally worked out how to get the laptop to default boot back to Windows instead of Mandrake. I had already configured /etc/lilo.conf but the changes needed to be written away to the boot sector. By su’ing and then running drakboot I was able to check the boot menu and when I clicked ok it saved the changes, a quick reboot later and I’m in XP and not Mandrake…..Now to try and fix the wireless lan.