How to Customize your Windows 8 Lock Screen

Windows 8, just like what was introduced in Windows Phone 7. You can press escape or drag the large image “upward” to unlock the screen. But did you know the icons at the bottom of your screen are customizable? It allows you to have much more information, at a glance, than you do with the default settings. Here’s how you can tweak your own:

From the Windows 8 Start Screen, you can simply type the phrase Lock Screen and, once you click settings on the right, one of your options will be to “Customize your Lock Screen and Notifications.” You can also find this by starting again from the Start Menu, but by placing the mouse in the lower right corner of the screen and waiting for the Charms Bar to come out from the right side of the screen, then clicking Settings at the bottom, then Personalize Settings. The first thing you should see is the Personalize menu. If not, it is the top option on the left, as pictured in the screen shot above.

At this time, only a few apps support Lock Screen notifications, but you can bet that more will come down the road. Right now the included Weather app, and the excellent eBay app allow you to add notifications. You can choose one app, if it supports the option, to provide additional details. You could have the subject lines of a few emails, upcoming calendar appointments, or even a weather forecast! It will be great to see what more apps, like an official Twitter or Facebook application, will end up doing.

Don’t forget to check out our ongoing informational series on Windows 8.

"An error occurred cancelling automatic renewal" on Xbox Live: easiest way around it

image credit: user imagerymajestic

You may have recently followed the steps in our article about how to cancel or disable automatic renewal on Xbox Live. But you run in to an error. An error which specifically states “an error occurred cancelling automatic renewal.” This has been going on so long that I believe it is intentionally done by Microsoft, and it is just a ploy to get you on the phone with their retention department, so they can try to sweet talk you in to staying.

The unfortunate truth is, because it is set up this way, your only choice is to call support. The phone number for the United states and the URL for finding contact information in other countries can be found in another article on our site.

Indie Game The Movie – go watch it! Now!

I watched the full film of Indie Game The Movie last night. It has recently been added to Netflix On Demand – only days after I was the film’s twitter account about buying it. Although my intention was to buy it and enjoy it this weekend, since it had cropped up on Netflix, I decided to watch it there. I’m still going to give the documentary film maker my money.

I’m a huge fan of documentary films in general. But the best ones really take you on a journey, through a story, or even a series of parallel stories. You get to really begin to like (or at least understand) the “characters” involved in the film, and you become invested in the outcome. Many of them have happy endings, and even the ones that aren’t concluded in the film, we, the target audience, know the final outcomes of titles like Fez, a critical darling.

I encourage you, watch the trailer above, then go buy Indie Game The Movie – as they responded to me on Twitter, in whatever format works best for you. As I expected, a direct payment with PayPal and downloading the movie DRM free gives them the most money – but if you’re already invested in a movie platform such as Vudu or Amazon Instant Video, then by all means get it that way!

What’s next from the creator of Wing Commander?

We’re nearing the end of a countdown, leading up to an announcement on 10/10/2012 at 10 AM (New York time) from Chris Roberts, creator of the Wing Commander franchise of video games. Wing Commander, without hesitation, was the game that made me a “PC Gamer.” Wing Commander III, then IV, then Prophecy… sure I had DooM, Duke3D, Quake II, and Unreal. But I never threw myself so deeply in to any saga as I have the Wing Commander games. And when I heard that Chris Roberts started up something new he’s posting over at (RSI) – well, you can guess I’m going to be onboard that vessel when it launches.

While we don’t know what the final announcement will be in its entirety, we have been handed several clues. Whatever it is, it seems that there will be some sort of closed “beta” phase – this is hinted at by the “golden tickets” that you can only get by signing up for the site BEFORE the announcement is made. Also, since the “RSI” unveiling, Chris Roberts has been slowly taking visitors through the history of the Wing Commander universe. Several polls have been posted on the site, many of them trying to get a feel for what someone wants in a game. But if the game were this early in its inception, that they were just getting ideas, would they really be teasing it like this? I doubt it. Another recent poll asked what made Chris Roberts’ games great – the feeling of playing a movie? The large universe? The visceral combat and flight simulation details? I’m starting to think that these polls aren’t trying to gauge responses, but rather build hype.

Recently, members of the of the site received a message from one of the administrators. Though not spoken aloud, there are some clear indicators that this game is going to be an MMO Wing Commander experience. Why else would we “golden ticket” holders be told that, “should you choose to join us on our new adventure — will receive defining gold decals for your spaceship to immortalize your early support.” Certainly wouldn’t need those decals in a single player game. True, it might be nice, but I far more often see “founders” emblems in online games. The brief letter ends with “Together we will shape the universe – one or one million polygons at a time.” By together and at a time are they alluding to all at once? Is in, simultaneously? Online? Shaping a persistent universe?

All of this, paired with my February discovery of an extension with the U.S. Patent Office of the “Wing Commander” brand, and other rumored work involving Chris Roberts’ and some original Wing Commander III and IV cast members in Detroit, I think we’re going to see something new. An MMORPG that will feel very much like Privateer, take place in the Wing Commander universe, and rather than just a handful of cut-scenes, it will involve video briefings by familiar Confederation faces. I guess we’ll find out in just a few more days, though, won’t we?

Going "legit" with digital movies – is Vudu worth it?

I recently decided to try my hand at building my digital movie collection. I’m an avid music collector and of course love my video games, but I only ever owned a few dozen movies over the years. The advent of Netflix has been perfect for someone like me, who doesn’t own many movies, but likes to watch the occasional TV series or movie. Still, there have always been a few movies that I’ve had in my collection – and while my TV Series I’ve been “ripping” down to my hard drive myself, I find the process tedeious. I wanted to find a new way to have “my” movie stash, online. Continue reading “Going "legit" with digital movies – is Vudu worth it?”

Chase Mobile app comes to Windows Phone 7 – one big, happy, mobile banking family

I was pleased to see this week that the nation’s biggest bank, JP Morgan Chase (or, just Chase), has released a Windows Phone 7 app that is as full-featured as the Android and iOS counterparts. Check balances, pay bills, and even deposit checks to your account with the official Chase MobileĀ® app for Windows Phone 7.

And, just in case you’re looking, here are the iPad, iPhone, and Android versions.

Outlook freezes / locks up / crashes after opening

Last week we talked about what to do when Outlook won’t open, but what if it opens, then almost immediately locks up? If your Outlook says “not responding” when you try to open a piece of mail, it likely means you have a corrupt PST file. Luckily, Microsoft anticipated this happening, and has armed you with the tools to fix it!

Some quick background – a PST is your archive of mail – whether it’s something you archived off by choice, or it’s where your computer stores mail after it’s been downloaded from a mail server, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or a local ISP like Time Warner or Verizon. Any time you use “POP” mail with Outlook, you have a PST.

To fix a corrupt PST, you just need to locate an application that is installed along-side Microsoft Office called “ScanPST.” On a 64-bit Windows 8 computer running Microsoft Office 2010, I found the ScanPST application to be here:
C:Program FilesMicrosoft OfficeOffice14

Depending on your version of office, it might be under another Office “version number” but most versions of Office, even the older ones, will include ScanPST.

When you double click the file, it generally auto-detects the file you need to scan, but you may need to browse to your data file before you click on Start. By default, Windows 7 & 8 should store the PST’s in this location:

In Windows XP: C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAMELocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.pst

If you are in a corporate environment, the location may be different.

Once you have the proper file in place, click on “Start” in ScanPST. By default, you should allow it to make a backup, then let it run through it’s 8 phase repair process. As always, depending on the size of your PST (how much mail you have), and the speed of your computer, it can take a while. Even when it looks like it isn’t doing anything, it probably is, so just let it go for a little while. When it’s finished, you should be able to open up Outlook without any issues!

2011 – The Bunny The Bear – If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say

Are you angry? You will be after you hear this. I was introduced to The Bunny The Bear this week, and wanted to share them with you. They fall in to the genre of post-hardcore, combined with some electronica (or what Wikipedia is calling “Electropop”). Reaching higher and higher up the scale, with a voice similar to Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria, “The Bear” compliments “The Bunny,” who growls his way through songs unapologetically.

There are songs I like better than the video embedded above for C’est Pas Si Lion, but I think the song does a fantastic job of showcasing how the band is a well constructed self-juxtaposition. The band members are clearly very talented, and wouldn’t have to rely on such a strange gimmick as plastic animal masks, but they stick with it – and it adds to the eerie factor that I think suits the month of October quite well.

Clear the trees / Then you’ll see through to me / I’m rotting on the ocean floor / Where seeds of grass abhor their situation” is sang and screamed in what combines in to a hauntingly elegant song. The band is original in many ways, and although not “my usual” and only something I’ve just discovered, I actually enjoy it quite it a bit, and would encourage readers here to give them a sample and try to broaden your own musical horizons with a little bit of The Bunny The Bear..