Archive for February, 2007

Changing your Windows XP Product Key

Its not very often I have to do this, but sometimes I do because I end up purchasing a bunch of matching machines, loading the software onto one, and ghosting to the rest.

So here’s a short guide on how to change your Windows XP serial number or product key.

Here’s the batch file I created to achieve the task. Simply create a new file called “changekey.bat”, and enter the following:

@echo off
echo Select “Yes I want to telephone a customer service representative to activate windows”,
echo click “Next”, then click “Change Product Key”, now enter your new key, then click “Update”.
@echo REGEDIT4 > %TEMP%\oobetimer.reg
@echo [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WPAEvents] >> %TEMP%\oobetimer.reg
@echo “OOBETimer”=hex:ff,ff,ff,ff,ff,ff,ff >> %TEMP%\oobetimer.reg
@regedit /s %TEMP%\oobetimer.reg
@del %TEMP%\oobetimer.reg
%SYSTEMROOT%\system32\oobe\msoobe /a

That’s it!


Comments (1)

Free Stuff

I love free stuff, it’s probably why I like open source so much…

I think we must all like free stuff, so I have decided to gather a few sites together that offer up-to-date free stuff.

There’s all sorts of junk you can get for free, mostly by filling in a form online with your details.

There are usually limited ties too, most of the time its purely a case of a product awareness campaign.

Here are a few sites you can try:

  • – This site has been around for years, probably the most renowned. However it does seem to have grown quite uncontrollably large, offers free online services as well as products, lacks frequent updates, and is targeted at the US population. (US based)
  • Freebie Forum – This forum has over 1500 active members. You can usually find free stuff fairly quickly. (UK)
  • Bob’s Free Stuff Forum – A very cool populated forum, offering live up-to-date stuff for free. There’s over 10,000 members on this forum. (UK)
  • Money Saving Freebies – This is a heavily populated forum by people always looking to save money, you can expect to find good stuff as soon as it’s known here. (UK)
  • – Kinda cool, offers you quite a good selection, you can make comments too, but you must be a member, membership is free. (UK)
  • – Freebie blog site. (US based)
  • FreeStuffChannel – Freebie site with RSS feed. (US based)
  • FreeGrabber – Another freebie site blog with RSS feed. (US based)
  • Free Stuff Exchange Forum – This is only a small forum, but can sometimes offer some good stuff. (UK)
  • Free-Stuff – A site updated 3 times per week apparently. (UK)
  • Freebiersclub – Members only, but its pretty awsum! (UK)
  • Free Stuff Junction Site List – A list of freebie sites. (UK)
  • Find more free stuff on DMOZ

Enjoy your free junk!


Comments (3)

PSP firmware and homebrew

I decided to go all out, and purchase possibly the best media device out there. The Sony Playstation Portable.

Don’t get me wrong, the thing that appealed to me most about the PSP was the fact it could connect to the internet via WIFI.

My first question was “I wonder what else this can do”.

After a quick search I began to find lots of details on the PSP, including details on homebrew applications.

I soon discovered that the homebrew software would only run on certain firmware versions of the PSP.

I checked out the firmware version on my PSP and discovered it was running firmware ‘2.50’.

One thing I quickly learned was NOT to upgrade to the latest 3.11 firmware provided by Sony using the Network Update. In fact if you wish to use any homebrew software ever, its recommended that you do not upgrade past 3.03 of the regular firmware provided by Sony.

I also discovered that someone under the name of “Dark_Alex” had written a homebrew firmware known as “open edition”, which is effectively a modified version of the official sony firmware.

I discovered that to install the very latest (which is 3.10 OE A’ at the time of writing) I needed firmware 1.50 installed on my PSP. I discovered that the reason for this is that this firmware is the most flexible, known in the PSP homebrew scene as the golden firmware.

I began investigating various “downgrading” methods. It seems that there is only one way to downgrade from firmware 2.50/2.60 and that is to own an unpatched version of “GTA: Liberty City Stories”, which contains firmware 2.00, which you can downgrade to. Unfortunately I do not have this game.

I discovered that there was another way. I could use a game I have which contains firmware 2.71, and downgrade using an auto installer from that firmware to firmware 1.50, this was the best option.

The game I used was called “The Ark of Napishtim”, which contained “PSP Update ver 2.71”, that allowed me to upgrade from firmware 2.50 to firmware version to 2.71.

Once I had 2.71 successfully installed I simply located a copy of “Downgrader2.71FULL.exe“, run this and follow the on-screen instructions. (PS, the part that talks about the red screen, if you don’t get the red screen, restart your PSP and keep trying, it works eventually).

Once I had successfully downgraded to firmware 1.50, I was able to use “3.10 OE-A Winstaller.exe” to upgrade to the latest open edition homebrew firmware.

The great thing about the open edition firmware is it allows you to run any PSP homebrew software under the latest firmware by putting it in your regular GAME folder, or as the 1.50 firmware by placing it in a folder named GAME150. This also means you are always able to downgrade from the latest homebrew firmware to firmware 1.50.

The next thing to do was to upgrade to 3.10 OE A’ (rev A2) homebrew firmware, which has some minor bug fixes. Its simply a case of downloading this, extracting, placing the directory in the GAME folder on your PSP/flash card, and running it on your PSP.

Also see for more information on PSP firmware and homebrew. They have some fantastic graphs and more useful information.

Thanks to this I was able to try out the following homebrew software:

  • PSP Radio – I have so far been unable to connect this to my WIFI
  • PSPVNC – This thing is great, I can view my PC from anywhere in my house!
  • Pimp Streamer – This thing is amazing! You can stream your media from your PC onto your PSP

One thing I must point out is that I DO NOT support or promote piracy, if you like the games buy them.

Piracy is the reason Sony has locked down their recent firmware so you are unable to run homebrew software. It’s a real shame that Sony’s paranoia about piracy means that PSP owners are unable to write or use homebrew software applications on devices that run the latest firmware.

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Fixing a faulty laptop DC jack connector

I was recently informed that my old laptop, a HP Pavilion ze4111s, (now being used by my girlfriend) that “it doesn’t charge”, which then changed to “it sometimes does, and other times it doesn’t”.

I decided to investigate and began wiggling the AC adaptor at the back in the DC jack socket, which appeared to become lose.

My next idea was to take the laptop apart to take a closer look at the DC jack to see where the problem lay.

The first thing I did was to find the service and maintenance manual on the manufacturers website. I managed to locate the Service and Maintenance manual for the HP Pavilion 4100 series in PDF form, this document can be used for many other laptops as they are all built in a very similar way.

I began following the instructions for “removing the motherboard”, which requires following the instructions for removing other parts first. This is a long process, and can take some time.

To make sure I knew which screws were for what and where, I took a few empty egg boxes, and labelled them as I put the screws in. This will make it easier to locate the right screws when I reassemble the laptop.

After spending some time to get to the motherboard and safely remove it, low and behold the connector had come away from the motherboard, but was sometimes still touching hence why sometimes it worked and other times it did not.

I also discovered that the housing had cracked, and with a little wiggle the top came off, and I could now see the exact problem.

HP Pavilion ze4111s broken DC jack

My next step was to work out what to do next with this laptop. This laptop is quite old, and is most definitely outside its warranty period. However I knew what the problem was and had a few ideas on how to fix it.

I decided to contact HP for their suggestions, and while I waited I searched eBay for a supplier of parts for the ze4111s, I located a company who had some parts. I contacted them about getting a replacement motherboard for the laptop, and they suggested that the replacement would be £60. To me that is excessive, probably about 1/3 of the total value of the laptop, it’s not worth it.

I finally got hold of someone at HP, who suggested I contact a service centre, who I found out, charge an absolute fortune! I explained to them that it would not be worth my while and besides I know what the problem is.

I tried resoldering the connector from the housing of the DC jack to the motherboard, but the moment I put the AC adapter into the DC jack the housing would break and force the connection to break.

HP Pavilion ze4111s broken DC jack resolder

Upon further examining the motherboard, I discovered that the jack could be safely removed from the motherboard providing I could unsolder it from the underneath where it connects to the motherboard in three places. Not a problem, I’d just require a replacement jack.

I went on to explain this to the HP contact, who provided me with the following details:

I would like to inform you that as per HP policies if the issue is with
power jack then you have to replace the motherboard. However, for your
information I would like to say that the Power Jack on some Notebook
models can be replaced. So, please visit the following Web site to to
know more information about the power jack on the Notebook:



NOTE: The URLs above will take you to a non HP Web site. HP does
not control and is not responsible for information outside
of the HP Web site.

Once you visit the We site, contact support of the web site and check
for the availability of the power jack for your model.

Then take the notebook to nearest Local Service Center and get the power
jack replaced.

This was most helpful, I discovered that clearly it can be done, and there are replacements out there!

I also found this thread, and figured that if this guy could do it, I could do it too.

I found that the sites above were charging a fortune for the replacement jack, so I checked all my usual suppliers for components including Maplin, no such luck.

Then, a brainwave, I could cross reference google with eBay and see if anyone had mentioned a jack for a ze4111s recently. So that’s what I did, and soon discovered the seller “laptop18000“, and their shop “GOOD DEALS IN” based in the USA, but sells DC jacks for laptops for very cheap compared to the previous offers.

DC Power Jack for HP Laptop motherboard XL XF XZ HP ZE

“Sounds good to me!”

From here its simply a case of de-soldering the old connector from the motherboard, soldering the new connector, then putting the laptop back together. Problem solved!

Meanwhile, the laptop remains in pieces…

HP Pavilion ze4111s

In conclusion, don’t throw your laptop away, don’t pay excessive amounts getting someone autherised by HP to fix it, don’t pay more than you have to. DO IT YOURSELF!

Comments (18)


Despite my problems with purchasing mp4 players in the past I decided to purchase a new one.

This time I found a good one from a reputable website that sold items from China across the world, instead of eBay.

This device is also known as the Black Hawk MP4 Digital Player or mini Play Station Portable or IHTOOM personal media player.

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