Operating System Tips

Voice chat in Team Fortress 2

I know this is off-topic, but it has been a frustration of mine since I reinstalled Windows and I just resolved it.  I reinstalled Windows only to find out that Steam and Team Fortress 2 did not like my Soundblaster X-Fi Platinum and my mic set as Line 2 instead of microphone.  Initially I set voice_forcemicrecord to 0 in team fortress 2\tf\cfg\config.cfg instead of 1 so it didn’t default to the Windows sound device of microphone, but the game still wouldn’t accept my in-game voice chat.   I could use Ventrilo just fine, but Steam and Team Fortress 2 would say “nay nay!” to me using Line 2 as the microphone input. 

It turns out that it was a simple Windows Vista configuration error of not having Line 2 set as the default.  It appears that Steam/Team Fortress uses whatever Windows has set as the default recording device, and in my case it wasn’t set to anything.  I would click on “test microphone” and it would immediately turn on and then off without actually testing it.  As soon as I opened “Recording Devices” and chose Line 2 and clicked on “Set as Default” in-game voice chat started working.  Hopefully this post will help someone out.  Also, if anyone knows what you may install that would suddenly cause hl2.exe to crash constantly (regardless of being Team Fortress 2 or Counter Strike:Source) I would appreciate it.  I ended up just reinstalling Windows Vista and I’m sure there was a much easier method to fixing the issue.  Recently I had installed AIM, and the newest Creative Soundblaster X-FI drivers from October.

Replacing Notepad.exe in Windows Vista

I know this has been covered on other sites but I thought I would post it here for the benefit of our readers.  Why would you want to do this?  Well, because Notepad that comes with Windows is, well, if you’ve used it then you know what it’s like and have probably moved on to something better. However, simply adding an additional text editor doesn’t change the fact that Notepad will still open as the default editor for many files within Windows Vista.  So how do you accomplish this?  It’s (almost) simple:

  • Open a command-prompt with administrator priveleges (right-click, run as administrator).  If you have UAC disabled then you can open a regular command-prompt.
  • Take ownership of notepad.exe using takeown /f c:\windows\system32\notepad.exe
  • Grant yourself full access rights using cacls c:\windows\system32\notepad.exe /G <username>:F (replacing <username> with your username)
  • Using Explorer, replace notepad.exe with the editor you would like to use after renaming it to notepad.exe
    • If you are using Notepad2 to replace Notepad you would just rename Notepad2.exe to Notepad.exe

Command Prompt – Easily Paste Paths and Filenames

Here’s a quick tip I found out about the other day from a fellow co-worker:

You can drag and drop a single file or folder onto the command prompt and it will paste the path automatically. This saves time compared to the old-fashioned way of selecting the address bar, copying, then right-clicking on the command prompt and pasting (I always hit ctrl-v which gives you the wonderful “^V”, which you then have to delete and do the fantastically fun right-click and paste feature).

Works on 2000/XP/2003.

For Vista, this functionality has been removed for the following reason:

This was done to reduce the command window’s dealings with the dragged data object.

This means on Vista, you must shift-right-click the file or folder and choose “Copy as Path” and then right-click on the command window and paste, which brings into play the dreaded “Ctrl+V” issue I mentioned above.

Oh well, what can you do?

(please don’t say “don’t run Vista”)

Enabling /NOGUIBOOT in VistaPE (WinPE 2.0)

Now first thing’s first…why would you want to do this?  Well if any of you have booted to VistaPE or Vista you will have noticed the tastefully bland boot screen that is mostly empty except for a wonderful leprechaun green status bar that doesn’t even really show a status at all (as if a bar going across the screen over and over again actually means anything).  This is where /NOGUIBOOT comes in.  By enabling NO GUI BOOT you are actually turning off this animated progress bar and turning on a static bitmap image instead.  This bitmap resides in winload.exe.mui and the default one is still pretty lacking in the excitement department.

MyVistaBoot winload.exe.mui Screenshot

There are plenty of websites out there that will help you create a new winload.exe.mui and they all talk about how easy it is to enable this in Vista, is my favorite and it has pre-made boot screens for you. All you have to do is use ‘msconfig’ to put a checkmark in “No GUI Boot”. But alas, it is not such a simple task when you’re dealing with VistaPE which does not contain msconfig. For those of you not familiar with what BCD is, it is the Boot Configuration Data file that has replaced the boot.ini from Windows XP and it cannot be modified as a text file, you must use BCDEDIT.exe to make changes to it (or EasyBCD from NeoSmart Technologies). Here’s the easy solution using BCDEDIT:

  1. Find where your VistaPE BCD is, ie. if on your usb key at e: then it’s e:\boot\bcd

  2. Use the following command: bcdedit /set {default} quietboot on /store e:\boot\bcd

It’s that simple! The hard part is tracking down the intelligent person at Microsoft that named the command switch “quietboot” when what it sets is the /NOGUIBOOT switch in the BCD string.  Maybe someone will knock some sense into him/her.  Let me know and I’ll send you $5.00

Taken from Microsoft MSDN:

quietboot [ on | off ]

Controls the display of a high-resolution bitmap in place of the Windows boot screen display and animation. In operating systems prior to Windows Vista, the /noguiboot serves a similar function.

Explorer – “Size All Columns to Fit” Shortcut Key

It really bothers me and my 17 month old son that Windows Explorer in Vista randomly forgets the column widths between different folders.  It also bothers us that there isn’t an option to have the columns automatically size to fit when I browse between folders. 

So my day goes like this:

  1. Browse to new folder and see 4 letters of each filename…
  2. Move the mouse to column header bar.
  3. Right-Click.
  4. Choose “Size All Columns to Fit”.
  5. Browse to a different folder.
  6. Rinse and repeat.

A little bit of relief has been sent my way as I recently found out that there is a shortcut key for making the columns size to fit.  It took me more time than I normally like to spend finding a shortcut key, which is why I am posting it here, in hopes that others may find it more easily.


It looks like the Carson Daly version of C++, doesn’t it?  (as I quickly call in to have them show the flotzam video just one more time; they allow c# to be played since they’re all related)

In English, it means the Control Key (pick your favorite) and the + key located on your number pad, not the one that gets to be on top of the equal sign.  This also means that this shortcut requires either long fingers, or two hands.  If you can’t afford long fingers you can always use those popsicle sticks you have in your pen/junk drawer as finger extensions.

In reality, I could display it like this: Ctrl plus +