Monday, 16 July 2018

Amazon Prime day!

If you are an Amazon Prime member (hint: you can sign up for a 30-day trial for free!) then there are lots of bargains to be had today and tomorrow only.

Unsurprisingly, the best deals are available on Amazon kit, but there are also good reductions on some high-priced goods as well of over 50%!

Here are a few bargains for US and UK clients (affiliated links):

Amazon.co.uk





Note: Some deals don't start till later today.



$100 off Echo Show
$30 off Echo 2nd generation
$20 off Fire TV stick

Click here for more deals.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Easy2Boot v1.A0 is now released

Change from v1.99 are:
  • New grub4dos \grldr (2018-07-01) supporting centering of menu entries and menu help text (new grub4dos setmenu --middle-align command).
  • Three new Themes added to demonstrate centred text menu entries.
  • New \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files\E2B Menus\Adjust_E2B_Menu.mnu menu.
  • TimeDiskAccess.mnu added - allows user to test raw sector read speed under BIOS of all drives in system. Useful for comparing USB+BIOS driver performance.
  • New SHORT_HL variable can be used to set the highlighted menu entry to only highlight the menu text and not the whole menu line. 
  • UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd now checks in case the user has renamed some of the standard E2B .mnu files (e.g. ZZSubmenuAll.mnu) and asks user if they want to delete them or keep them.
  • New version of E2B_Editor.exe now uses 24-bit colour values for the heading and footer colours.
  • STRINGS.txt files changed - no need to pad out menu headings.
  • Small bug fix to remove extra space after menu entries in sample .mnu files.
  • KBD_QWERTY_USA keyboard file added so can pick using E2B_Editor.
  • Bugfixes to internal handling of menu positioning, etc.
  • Bugfix for v1.99 - MAKE_CONTIG.cmd script is now copied across when making an E2B drive (running Update did copy it across but Make_E2B_USB_Drive.cmd did not copy it across).
  • Small fixes to centre menu heading when UTF-8 characters used (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, etc.).
  • If the FONT variable's path contains ".f24" then 24-high fonts will automatically be used. 
  • Small changes to Check_for_Update.cmd and UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd to display E2B version numbers.
  • Some of the .cmd files are now modified to use %WINDIR%\System32\find.exe in case users Windows Path environment variable points to a different version of find.exe.
The new downloads are available on the Alternate Download Areas (see side bar of this blog).

The www.easy2boot.com site download links will be updated in a few days.


Sunday, 8 July 2018

MPI Tool Kit v0.083 now available

The new version is available from the Alternate Download Sites (e.g. OneDrive)

MakePartImage.cmd has now been modified to estimate the size of the .imgPTN file needed by using 7z.exe. It is now much more accurate (but takes a bit longer) and the 'Suggested size' seems to always work now (at least on the 100 files I have tested so far...). It also has better error handling.

Note that you should only run one instance of MakePartImage at a time and it does not seem to work if the target folder is a Microsoft Storage Pool volume (ImDisk issue?).

The script Convert_all_ISOs_to_imgPTN_Files (run as Admin).cmd which is in the Utils folder of the MPI Tool Kit folder has also been improved. This batch file allows you to convert all the isos in a folder (and subfolders) without needing to answer the usual questions from MakePartImage or press ENTER. Just go and get a cup of coffee and the .imgPTN files should all be there when you come back.

(You still need to answer the delete/make EI.cfg question though for Windows Install ISOs).

You can now specify a partial file spec (e.g.  fed*.iso) and ask it to re-make all .imgPTN files again or only the missing ones. It also does not have to be an iso (e.g. you can use *.ima or dlc*.zip).

If you select AUTORUN, it will also use the 'best guess' for the Syslinux version rather than prompt you for which version to use.


0.083 is not yet released on the official www.easy2boot.com website as it is considered a 'Release Candidate' at the moment.

Please let me know how you get on if you try it.

P.S. 0.083 is now available on the www.easy2boot.com website - it is a slightly different version from the RC candidate. The new version is dated 2018-07-10.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

E2B v1.A0b Beta now available

Download from Alternate Download Areas as ZIP file.

Changes are:
  • New grldr (2018-07-01)
  • New \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu files\E2B Menus\Adjust_E2B_Menu.mnu menu
  • Bugfixes to internal menu positioning, etc.
  • Bugfix for Make_E2B_USB_DRIVE.cmd v1.99 - MAKE_CONTIG.cmd script is now copied across when making an E2B drive (running UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.cmd did copy it across but Make_E2B did not).
  • UPDATE_E2B_DRIVE.CMD now displays latest stable and Beta versions that are available (using web access).
Copy Adjust_E2B_Menu.mnu to your MAINMENU folder and you can tinker with moving the menu about instantly...


Thursday, 28 June 2018

E2B v1.A0a Beta available!

Since the last version was 1.99, the next version will be 1.A0.

So the first Beta is called v1.A0a

This version has a new Beta version of grub4dos (not yet officially released) to which the developer yaya has kindly added some new features.

We can now ask grub4dos to center the menu entries and the menu help text automatically.

Here are some screenshots:

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Revision 2 of the E2B eBook is now available

Revision 2 is now available. It has slightly more content, more pictures and hopefully less typos thanks to 'Glen'.

If you had previously ordered the Easy2Boot 'Getting started with Easy2Boot' PDF from Payhip, then you should be able to use the download link in the email that you received to re-download the new revision 2 PDF. If not, then contact me.

- o O o -

P.S. My cat is really annoying me at the moment because I can only feed him after sunset which, in the UK, is well after 9pm. Still, there are only a few more days to go until June 24th when Ramadan finishes (you see, he's a Persian cat!)...😹

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

New Hiren's WinPE 10 64-bit ISO


Just found this post on reddit about a new Hiren's type WinPE.

It is not an official Hiren ISO but is made by a 'fan group' - see here for more info.

Monday, 18 June 2018

E2B v1.99 is now re-issued - please update!

There was a small bug in the grub4dos version of E2B v1.99, so I have updated the download with a new version of grub4dos (plus a few other very minor changes).

v1.99 is not yet available on the E2B website, so only users who read this blog and have downloaded the old v1.99 will be affected.

The \grldr file should be dated 2018-06-18 in the latest version of E2B v1.99.

The small bug in the old grub4dos version was that the animated E2B icon could spontaneously disappear when using the menu cursor keys.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Having trouble 'Safely Removing' USB Hard drives with the latest Windows 10?

I have been using 'Disk Ejector' from QuickandEasySoftware (free).

You can copy it to your Desktop or to the E2B USB drive.



You can also try USB Safely Remove from http://safelyremove.com as an alternative.

How to prompt for ComputerName and UserName before you start an automated Windows Install

By using an XML file, we can automate the installation of Windows 10 in Easy2Boot.

The XML file can have a preset or random UserName and ComputerName, or it can be configured to only have an Administrator account or to prompt for the User Name near the end of the installation process.

For instance, an XML file for SDI_CHOCO could be picked by the user and a fully unattended and automated Windows 10 install would then proceed.

However, it would be useful if we could use the same automated XML file each time we installed it to a different system, but could prompt for a different ComputerName and UserName before we started the installation. This allows us to get a cup of coffee whilst ten different systems are installing without having to come back and enter the UserName half-way through.

We can set different values by using grub4dos to modify the XML file before we boot to the ISO...

Friday, 15 June 2018

E2B v1.99 now available


At last E2B v1.99 is now available!

Note: I have just quickly updated the 2018-06-18 download to v1.99 2018-06-16 - the more recent version just has improved help in Make_E2B.exe, a small bugfix to grub4dos and a new sample mnu file added.



Note: The new eBook is written for use with E2B v1.99.

Changes from E2B v1.98 are:

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Bob Omb's WinPE10 64-bit v.3.1


Bob's latest release of WinPE 10 64-bit (v3.1) can now work either as a .ISO file in E2B or as a .imgPTN file.

If you boot it as an ISO, it will auto-detect the TheOven_Startup.cmd (if present on your E2B drive) and run PEStartup (see here for details).

Tip: End the filename with the letter Q to suppress E2B's QRUN prompt - e.g. Bob_Omb's_v3.1_64q.iso. Do not use spaces in the filename because WinBuilder ISOs don't work correctly if there is a space in the name. The file extension must be .iso.

Instead, you can create a .txt file using the \_ISO\TXT_Maker.exe file. This allows you to have spaces in the menu entry (e.g. 'Bob Omb's WinPE10 64-bit'). The ISO must not have any spaces and must end in .iso. You can also use the '64-bit' option in TXT_Maker so that the ISO will only be listed in the menu if run on a 64-bit system.

UEFI

If you convert the ISO to a FAT32 .imgPTN file, you will be able to MBR or UEFI-boot to it and also have some persistence. I suggest you increase the suggested size when you make the .imgPTN file, to allow you to add your own portable apps, shortcuts, etc.

Friday, 8 June 2018

E2B v1.99h Beta available


  • This version has the latest version of grub4dos 0.4.6a 2018-06-08
  • Also a Sample .mnu file Run_ISO_With_Alarm.mnu added (sounds an alarm before running ISO) has been added.
  • PimpMyDrive.cmd now adds a 'Play a tune' menu to the Main menu.
  • Alarm.g4b added to \_ISO\e2b\grub folder so just issuing the command 'alarm' will sound an alarm.
This is probably the last Beta before release as E2B v1.99 full release, so let me know if you find any issues.

As before, if you have animated graphics displaying and you also simultaneously play a tune, the tune may play slower than it should unless you stop the animation (press F2 to toggle animation on and off). Any key press will stop the tune from playing.

Download from Alternate Download areas or direct link here.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Intel Processor Diagnostic Tools

This Intel Windows 64-bit (and 32-bit) tool will identify your CPU and stress test the CPU cooling solution in your system.

You first need to install the software onto Windows before running it.



Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool (May 2018)

Other tools

Other Intel tools can be found here.

The bootable CPU Identification tool and CPU Frequency ID tool are Windows .exe utilities which make a bootable DOS floppy (wow - it's so useful to have a bootable floppy disk these days!), or a .imz floppy disk image file from which you can extract a bootable .ima file using 7Zip.

However, if you download the files (various languages are available), you can use 7Zip to extract the .com file directly from the .exe download (e.g. extract BPFREQIDE.com or BPROCIDE.com) and simply copy the .com file to your E2B USB drive (e.g. \INTEL folder).

Then you can boot to the FreeDOS floppy image which is already on your E2B drive (DOS Menu) and run the .com files from FreeDOS (e.g. \INTEL\BPROCIDE.com).

This screenshot is from Virtual Box, so ignore CPU results!

Intel® Processor Frequency ID Utility Installation Guide - Bootable Version (2004)

Sunday, 27 May 2018

E2B v1.99g Beta is now available (in .zip format)

The new download is available from the Alternate Download Areas as usual, but only in .zip format because it should be regarded as a Beta version.

These are the additional changes since v1.99f:
  1. Non-contiguous files are now flagged when enumerating files (press SPACEBAR twice quickly to pause the file listing). If the files listed are not contiguous, they will be displayed in the list with the text *** NOT CONTIGUOUS *** appended.
  2. Non-contiguous .imgPTN files are flagged on the menu entry itself (because they won't work!). The menu entry will have the text (ERROR: NOT CONTIGUOUS) appended.
  3. Force_Windows_Safe_Mode .cmd files added. This allows you to change the BCD of the current system (see below).
  4. C't magazine Desinfect 2018 sample .mnu file added (see below).

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Upcoming Amazon Echo offers

Hi
Just a heads-up, apparently there is an Amazon Echo Sale coming up starting 26th May.

Use the links below after 25th May to get $10 and $15 off.

Echo Dot (affiliated link to Amazon.com)



Echo  (affiliated link to Amazon.com)

I have an Echo (in the kitchen) and an Echo Dot (in the bedroom) and find them really useful for...

1. Reminders ' Alexa - remind me to call Fred at 3pm' (I also get an alert on my phone)
2. Play radio or music 'Alexa - play BBC Radio 4'
3. Radio Alarm clock 'Alexa - set an alarm for 8am every day and play BBC Radio 4'
4. Calculations - 'Alexa - what's 297.2 minus 167.6' and 'Alexa - what's 127 dollars in pounds?'
5. Shopping list 'Alexa - add yoghurt to my shopping list' (can see list on phone when I go shopping)
6. News - 'Alexa - give me a flash briefing'
7. Music - 'Alexa - play Blue by Joni Mitchell' (Amazon Prime or Spotify account required)
8. Queries - 'Alexa - what are Asimov's 3 laws of Robotics'
9. Vanity or scary - 'Alexa - who is the fairest of them all?' and 'Alexa - open the pod bay doors'
10. Internet calls - 'Alexa - drop in on mum'  (immediately connects me to mum's Echo at her house so I can hear what's going on - e.g. snoring!)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

E2B eBook now available!

A new eBook is now available as a downloadable PDF file here for just $5 (payable via PayPal or card).

Future revisions will be available free to previous buyers.

Let me know what you would like me to cover in another eBook if I missed it out in this one.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

E2B v1.99f Beta (includes feature to play tunes!)

yaya, one of the main developers of grub4dos, has done a lot of work to add a 'beep' command to grub4dos. It can play synchronously (in background) or asynchronously (waits until end of play before continuing execution).

E2B v1.99f (was 1.99e) includes this latest \grldr file (grub4dos 0.4.6a) which has the new beep command.

Now you can load the E2B Main menu and simultaneously play the Mission Impossible or Tetris background music (or any tune you like)! Your system must be fitted with an internal speaker (or buzzer) - Virtual Machines will not make any noise, you must use a real system.

Instructions to update your E2B drive

Friday, 18 May 2018

Installing Windows Embedded POSReady 2009

The POS2009 ISO is a bit different from normal XP ISOs in that it has no 2nd stage boot and it requires a 'flat-file' structure and \i386 folder on the installation media to be present during the 2nd boot.

There is a ReadMe file at \_ISO\docs\Sample mnu Files\Windows\POS2009_ReadMe.txt on the E2B drive which can be used to install POS2009 to an IDE hard drive.

E2B v1.99 contains revised instructions for guidance on how you can install to SATA\RAID\SCSI disk too.

The ReadMe file in v1.99 is shown below:

Windows 10 font confusion

This problem took me a while to solve today.

I had a file called MissionImpossible.g4b which did not seem to get recognised by grub4dos.

It turned out it was a typo problem and because Windows Explorer shows virtually identical characters for capital I and lowercase L (l), I did not spot it!!!  see below...

Can you tell the difference between I and l in the Windows font?


Good choice of font Microsoft - but give me function and clarity over aesthetics any day!

With some fonts I have problems distinguishing the number 1 from a lowercase l? Now it seems I also need to look out for uppercase I's as well!

Unfortunately Windows 10 has no facility to change the default font (unless you hack the Registry).

Anyone know how to have a legible font in Win10 without having to hack the registry?

P.S. In case you are wondering, the next version of E2B (and grub4dos) will be able to play annoying tunes through the PC internal speaker (if fitted) whilst the animated icon is displayed on the menu! I am testing/debugging it now.