Microsoft Symbol Server Configuration for WinDbg

Since I always forget how to configure a symbol cache on a new machine, here’s my configuration. Setting this environmental variable will download symbols from Microsoft’s servers and cache them at E:\symbols:


Posted in Technology, Windows | Leave a comment

Far Cry 5: Only 32 Hours of Story

I finished Far Cry 5’s main story with only 32 hours of game play. I spent a fair amount of time doing side missions, too. I generally see 50 – 70 hours of game play in AAA titles, so I’d rate this a mediocre value. Still better than FC4, though.

Far Cry 5 game play time

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

It’s 2017 and Windows 10 Notification Sounds Are Still Obnoxiously Loud

Back in August of 2015, I wrote about how System Notifications in Windows 10 were deafening and ignored System Volume settings.

It’s 2017, and the problem appears to still be there. In fact, it’s even worse, since Dropbox has to notify me every time I take a screenshot (even though I turned off notifications), and Windows chooses to notify me when Windows Defender has not detected any threats.

One very ugly fix is to go into System Sounds and disable the Windows | Notification entry. But I actually want notification sounds, I just don’t want them blasting at full volume.

So, here is my ugly hack: I loaded the “Windows Notify System Generic.wav” file into Audacity, dropped the volume 20dB, and set that as my notification sound.

Here is a link to a ZIP file containing -5dB, -10dB, and -20dB versions of the default system sound. To use them, download the file, extract its contents to C:\Windows\Media, then type “Change System Sounds” into the Start menu, scroll down to ‘Notification’ under ‘Windows’, ‘Browse’, and select the sound file you want:


Posted in Technology, Windows | Leave a comment

Lenovo Thinkpad T420 – Removing Whitelist from BIOS 1.49

I wanted to install an Intel 7260-N WiFi PCIe card into my T420. For this to work, I had to flash a modified BIOS that removes the hardware whitelist. Unfortunately, I had just upgraded to BIOS 1.49, which ostensibly cannot be downgraded.

The solution was to manually call winflash using the sv and sd flags:

winflash.exe /sv /sd 83ET76WW\$01C8000.FL1

The above command assumes that you’re in the bios_mod folder, which is contained in the modified BIOS archive on ThinkWiki.

Posted in Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

PPTP on Lubuntu with PureVPN

I was having problems getting PPTP to work with PureVPN on a Lubuntu VM. I followed PureVPN’s directions, but only one of the four VPNs I created actually worked. The configuration appeared to be identical, based on what the user interface was telling me.

When I looked at the VPN configuration files in /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections, I found a discrepancy. The VPN that worked contained three entries under [vpn] that were missing from the other files:


Once I added these entries, the PPTP connections worked as expected.

Posted in Linux, Network, Technology | Leave a comment

Installing Electron under Ubuntu – “node: not found”

I was trying to install Electron on Ubuntu using this command:

npm install electron-prebuilt -g

It would run for awhile, then fail with this error:

sh: 1: node: not found

Several online sources said to install “node-legacy”, but this never worked:

sudo apt-get install node-legacy
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree Reading state information… Done
E: Unable to locate package node-legacy

Searching the apt cache revealed something:

sudo apt-cache search legacy | grep node
node-dompurify – XSS sanitizer for HTML, MathML and SVG – Node.js module
node-es5-shim – ECMAScript 5 compat. shims for old JavaScript engines (Node.js)
node-es6-shim – ECMAScript 6 compat. shims for legacy JavaScript engines (Node.js)
nodejs-legacy – evented I/O for V8 javascript (legacy symlink)

The package is nodejs-legacy, not node-legacy! Installing nodejs-legacy solved the problem, and Electron installed cleanly after that.

sudo apt-get install nodejs-legacy

Posted in Electron, Technology | Leave a comment

Removing Open VM Tools and VirtualBox Components from Lubuntu (Linux) Guest

After moving a Lubuntu virtual machine from VirtualBox to VMware Workstation and installing VMware Tools, I needed to clean out an old installation of Open-VM-Tools (OVT) and VirtualBox Guest Additions. Here are the steps I followed:

List installed dkms packages:

dkms status

Remove open-vm-tools and vboxguest that were listed by the previous command (note that you’ll need to provide the corresponding version numbers):

sudo dkms remove open-vm-tools/9.10.2 --all
sudo dkms remove vboxguest/5.0.2 --all

List openbox related tools (note that this will list anything with ‘open’ in the title, you only want open-vm related items):

dpkg --get-selections | grep -v deinstall | grep -i open

Remove open-vm-tools:

sudo apt-get remove open-vm-tools-dkms
Posted in Linux, Technology | Leave a comment

Convert FLAC to MP3 on Linux

This is the script I use to convert FLAC files to MP3. After converting, it moves all the FLAC files into a subdirectory named .flac:


# Converts all FLAC files in the current folder to high-quality VBR MP3s.
# Moves all .flac files into a folder named .flac.

for f in *.flac; do  
    avconv -i "$f" -qscale:a 0 "${f[@]/%flac/mp3}"

mkdir .flac
mv *.flac .flac/

echo Done.

This script requires avconv, which is in the libav-tools package. Install using:

sudo apt-get install libav-tools
Posted in Linux, Technology | Leave a comment

Windows 10 Bug: ‘System Sounds’ Volume Gets Loud on UAC and Notifications


Running the retail/release version of Windows 10, every time I got a UAC prompt or ‘toast’ notification, the notification sound would be at full volume. I’d go into the Volume Mixer, run it down to around 5%, and sure enough, the next notification ding would be ear-piercing again.

I’ve found one other person reporting the same bug on a pre-release version.


I’ve found that leaving the Volume Mixer window open prevents the issue from occurring. Then again, after a few test cycles, I stopped getting ANY System Sounds at all…

Other Details

I use a Creative USB Sound Blaster HD and have all other audio output devices disabled. I don’t know if this affects the issue.

Posted in Technology, Windows | 1 Comment

How to Remap Windows Key on Kinesis Classic Keyboard

My Kinesis Classic doesn’t have a Windows key (well, technically it does, but it’s embedded in the ‘keypad’ map Print Screen). I like to remap the Insert key to the Windows key. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press the Keypad key
  2. Press Program + F12
  3. Press Print Screen
  4. Press the Keypad key
  5. Press the Insert key
  6. Press Program + F12

If you omit step 4, then the Insert key will only be mapped to the Windows key when they Keypad map is active (where “Keypad map” means the alternative keymap that becomes active when you hit ‘Keypad’. By default it turns the right half of the keyboard into a numeric keypad).

Posted in Technology, Windows | Leave a comment