Quick Fix: Microsoft Wireless Keyboard keys are wrong

Two nights ago my brother touched my Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 1000 and BAM the key mappings completely messed themselves up. The space bar was typing ‘G’ and Backspace became ‘R’ and ‘d’ was ‘/’ and so on. Every key was typing the wrong key (or modifier, leading to several accidental browser window closures).

Much online advice is centred around going to Regional and Language Settings to check that the correct keyboard is selected, but in my case the solution was much simpler: after fiddling around for a while and considering replacing the battery, I paired the keyboard with the base station again and everything was good. It’s an obvious solution, really, and I felt a bit sheepish afterwards for not having realized earlier.

Exact instructions vary, but usually you press a button on the base station followed by a button on the keyboard. In my case the button lives on the back of the keyboard – it’s an unassuming little grey push-button.

Quick Fix: Blues turning purple in Photoshop after monitor calibration

Tested with: Windows Vista Home Premium, Photoshop CS3

I loaned a Spyder 2 express from the school, with the intention of making my monitor color more accurate because I’ll be doing a lot of digital art this year. It was pretty good to begin with, in my opinion, but I just wanted to be sure…

I’m not complaining about the Spyder itself – very easy to use, and most of my screen did look better after calibration. Except the blues in color-managed applications like Photoshop. Behold:

So how did I get my (0, 0, 255) blues to look like their normal selves again?

The Somewhat Lacking Fix

Go to View > Proof Setup then check Monitor RGB. Mine was at Working CMYK before I changed it. Basically what this does is let you quickly change the color space you are working in. I think.

Now when you press Ctrl-Y to toggle the proofing, your colors should revert to their normal sRGB selves. The problem with this is that the color picker still displays the whole stretch of pure blues as purple, which is not so much a problem for photo editing but a huge issue for digital art. Which brings me to the…

The “Dirty Hack” (as described by a friend)

This is essentially breaking the path to the calibrated color profile created by the Spyder. This probably makes color-managed apps unable to find it, and so they revert to sRGB or whatever other default Windows is set to use.

Navigate to C:\windows\system32\spool\drivers\color and look for the profile that the calibration software created. In my case it’s called Spyder2express.icm. Either a) delete, b) rename or c) move to another folder (I renamed mine). The effect was instantaneous for me. I Alt-Tabbed back into Photoshop and my blues were back.

The Ideal Solution

Haven’t found this yet. Feel free to share.

Quick Fix: Large space before footnotes in MS Word

It’s frustrating having programs screw up on you when there’s a pressing deadline to meet. Today while editing my 40-page behemothof a PW report (before adding all figures, tables and double-spacing and enlarging the fonts) I was unlucky enough to encounter this issue:

After the footnote divider line, but before the footnotes themselves, there would be a huge expanse of blank space. It was wreaking havoc on my formatting and turning all my tables into multiple-paged impossible-to-read clusters of cells.

Turns out this is caused by something called a footnote separator which you have to go to Draft mode (under the View tab in MS Word 07 and up) to edit it.

  1. Go to the View tab, then choose Draft.
  2. Go to the References tab and click Show Footnotes. (On Macs, go to ViewFootnotes – thanks to commenter Gerard for spotting this)
  3. In the drop-down list that appears in the Footnotes area, choose Footnote Separator.
  4. Delete any extra spaces, carriage returns etc. It’s handy to have “show non-printing characters” switched on.
  5. Repeat for the other one – I think it was Continuous Footnote Separator.
  6. Go back to View and switch back to Print Layout.

It’s gone!

If this was helpful, let me know in a comment! P.S. Shameless plug for my new blog, where I continue to write posts about life, design, usability, the tech industry, language, cooking and other little geeky things.

Update: Commenter GE suggests that copying and pasting your entire document into a new file may also get rid of the problem.

Howto: Uninstall U3 on Vista

I bought a SanDisk 8GB Cruzer micro today. It’s quite pretty, and I like the sliding design, but it came with U3, a portable application platform. Sounds good, you say, until you realize that it’s a closed system, which makes it nigh impossible for casual developers to create portable apps for the platform. Also, it’s got annoying pop-ups. It had to be nuked.


This post is written in rambly prose, but I’ve bolded the main points.


The U3 Launchpad came with an uninstall utility. But it didn’t work, because whenever I tried it Windows simply told me that “Launchpad Removal Program has stopped working”. I tried this a couple of times, both with the uninstaller on the U3 Launchpad itself as well as uninstallers U3Uninstall.exe and launchpadremoval.exe from the SanDisk website and MyDigitalLife (if you need them, go do a search for the filenames). Same problem.


So I disabled the Launchpad from auto-starting (right-click the U3 icon in the system tray), removed the drive, and then plugged in the drive again. This time U3Uninstall.exe and launchpadremoval.exe agreed to run, but now they told me that “this program only supports one U3 drive removal” even though I only had one disk plugged in.


Turns out that the uninstaller recognizes all disk drives on the system as U3. Dumb, I know. I had to go to Device Manager > Disk Drives and disable all the other drives (my memory card readers). You’ll have to leave the U3 thumbdrive enabled, of course.

Run the uninstall utility again. Make sure you have admin privileges!



Quick Fix: Language Bar Disappeared In Vista

I had the misfortune of somehow disabling my Language bar today. It didn’t show up in the list of available toolbars, nor did anything from Regional and Language Options solve the problem.

Quick Fix

Go to Start > Run (or press Winkey + R) and type in ctfmon.exe. It fixed my problem because I had accidentally closed the process (somehow).

If this was helpful, let me know in a comment!

Extract Lineart in 8 Simple Steps

I got a new phone today! In other news, because I finished all my imminently due homework and haven’t slacked much the whole weekend, here’s a tutorial (?) on how to extract lineart onto a layer of its own in Photoshop. Version used here is CS3 – but it works with even 5 or 6, I think.

You will need: Photoshop/GIMP/image editor of your choice, and a scanned image with lineart in either pencil or pen. Pen gives you much nicer results though.
Time: Under 2 minutes.

Step 1

Open your image. As you can see there’s some, um, debris on the right side so I’m going to delete it.

Step 2


Press Ctrl/Cmd + L to open up the Levels dialog as shown above. Play around with the sliders until most of the gray junk is cleaned off the image, like in the next step.

I find it most effective to drag the right slider towards the left, and the leftmost slider to the right. The middle slider adjusts the overall brightness of your image.

Step 3

You may also find it helpful to zoom in while you’re adjusting (keyboard shortcuts Ctrl/Cmd + + and – still work even though you’re in the dialog) to make sure finer details are not lost.

Step 4

After this is done, open up your Channels tab (if it’s not visible, go hunting in the Window menu). While holding down Ctrl/Cmd click on the RGB Channel, which produces a selection delineated by the marching ants.

Step 5

Press Ctrl/Cmd + I or use “Inverse” in the Select menu. In the screenshot above I haven’t actually done this, so the marching ants still look the same as in the previous step.

Step 6

After that’s done, create a new layer but don’t deselect!

Step 7

Press Alt+Backspace or use the Fill command in the Edit menu. Make sure your foreground color is set to the color you’d like your lines to be – I was too lazy to find a nice shade of brown, so I used black.

Step 8

If you hide the Background layer you should now see your lineart presented on its own in a separate layer.

Final Result

And you’re done! Sort of. My image still has a lot of junk here and there that is very obvious if you zoom in, so next I’m going to have to zoom in and do cleanup with the Eraser tool. You can stop here if you’d like – I’m just feeling a bit industrious right now.

A word about the type of art you begin with – pen is the smart choice, because as you can see in the photograph below the lines are already very clear on paper so when you scan it in it should be easier. Another plus point is that ink is less reflective than graphite, giving you lines with more contrast in the scanned image.


Samsung CLP-300 Waste Toner Cartridges

Problem: The printer asks you to replace its waste toner cartidge.

Quick Fix: Empty the cartridge and slot it back in. Be sure to wipe the sensor (the diode) as well as this detects toner levels, and can misread them very often.

If you’re interested in the backstory, it’s after the jump.

Continue reading

Howto: Create a Log File

Update: Notepad imposes a –>32kb limit on your log files (mine stopped working at 31.5kb), and at this point you will start to get out of memory errors telling you to try closing some programs and whatever. The log function will also stop working. But you can just create a new file and use it until that one runs out: my log files usually last me about half a year to 9 months.

Oh boy, I really don’t feel like doing work today, but I’m aiming to finish all my holiday homework by the end of the first week of June (impossible, really) so, in the interests of procrastination, I wrote a thingy that will hopefully help my friends when they one day decide they want to keep diaries on their computers, but not online and without a local install of some blog management software (I hardly use my local WP install anymore orz)

Right. How to make a log file. What’s a log file? It’s just a plain text file that appends the current date and time to a new line whenever you open it. Surprisingly handy for journal keeping especially if you key it to a keyboard shortcut, which I covered here, they don’t take up much space and resources too.

Step 1

Open up Notepad and type .LOG (make sure to include the dot at the front) on the first line. Hit Enter/Return for a line break. You can type descriptive text after that to keep multiple logfiles organized or something.

Step 2

Save the file. Text format will do.

Step 3

Close and reopen Notepad. Voila, logfile.

And, um, a shot of my personal logfile. Just for interest.