Fix the volume of any USB headphone on Windows

Some USB headsets tend to be way too loud on Windows 10. Fixing this is pretty simple thanks to a handy little utility called Equalizer APO.

Some USB headsets tend to be way too loud on Windows 10. I guess the reason for this are outdated drivers or some kind of incompatibility.

In my case, I had a USB headphone that was already too loud on volume 2 of 100! Since I had to suffer from an acoustic shock a few years ago, I decided to take measures to prevent this. Once a super-intelligent macOS box “fogot” my volume and I got a blast (macOS tries to remember the configured volume for each output device – but as usual: things can go badly wrong if you rely on computer intelligence. Thanks Apple.)

Fixing this is simple thanks to a handy little utility called Equalizer APO. It’s even free.

Run the installer, and select the audio device(s) you want to equalize.
To enable the equalizer initially, you must reboot.

After you reboot run the provided Configuration Editor and set the Preamp to: –16 dB (or any other value to match your preference).
(You can modify the settings also manually with your text editor atC:\Program Files\EqualizerAPO\config\config.txt)

This app can be a life saver. But be warned: On some rare days Equalizer APO may fail to start-up or a bad update, or what-so-ever, may prevent the equalizer from running and may still get a boom in your ear.
So, if you have a USB headset that is just unbearable loud when it’s not equalized, do your ears a favor and just ditch them or the will bite you.. one day.

Update: I have learned the hard way that Equalizer APO comes with another caveat:
It interferes with other audio driver / plug-ins / extensions. E.g. a etool to route or capture the sound of you PC may not work anymore.
And, as mentioned in the comments, the equalizer can only handle a limited number of channels and ditches the extra channels (like 7.1). :/

How to copy-paste files to Hyper-V VMs

Unlike VMWare, on Hyper-V it’s not possible to copy & paste files across between the host and the Virtual Machine, even if you are running Window OS on the host and the guest. You have to rely on alternative ways:

1. Using standard Windows Shares to transfer files between the host and VMs

This requires a proper (external) Hyper-V Virtual Switch to have network access. That’s a no-brainer.

2. Connect via a Remote Desktop Connection

RDP is handy but less robust, if big file transfers are required; if you just need to copy/paste some text, RDP works great.

3. Mount the virtual hard disk and copy the files directly

This is most probably the fastest option for big chunks of files:

  • First, Turn the VM off,
  • locate the virtual hard disk image file .vhd of your VM
  • Right click the vhd file and select mount it: You get “System Reserved” and “Local Disk” drives.
  • Open the “Local Disk” drive (this is the OS drive of your VM)  
  • … and paste your files.
  • Finally unmount/eject the drive(s).
  • Run the VM and go the c:\ drive to find your files.

That’ all. Fair enough, it would argue.

Microsoft Edge Keyboard Shortcuts List

Since there is not an official list of shortcuts by Microsoft yet, we still have to maintain such a list on our own. For me this is some sort of personal Edge Keyboard Shortcut Cheat Sheet.

If you know of any additional keyboard shortcuts, then feel free to post it here to help others.
Keyboard Shortcut Function
ALT + Home Open Home
ALT + F4 Close current active window
ALT+C Open Cortana
ALT + D Select the address bar
ALT + J Feedback & reporting
ALT + Spacebar Open system menu
ALT + Spacebar + C Close Microsoft Edge
ALT + Spacebar + M Move window with arrow keys
ALT + Spacebar + N Minimize window
ALT + Spacebar + R Restore window
ALT + Spacebar + S Resize window with arrow keys
ALT + Spacebar + X Maximize window
ALT + Left arrow Go to previous page that was opened in tab
ALT + Right arrow Go to next page that was opened in tab
ALT + X Open settings
Left arrow Scroll left on current webpage
Right arrow Scroll right on current webpage
Up arrow Scroll up on current webpage
Down arrow Scroll down on current webpage
Backspace Go to previous page that was opened in tab
CTRL + + Zoom in (+ 10%)
CTRL + – Zoom out (- 10%)
CTRL + F4 Close current tab
CTRL + 0 Zoom to 100% (default)
CTRL + 1 Switch to tab 1
CTRL + 2 Switch to tab 2 if open
CTRL + 3 Switch to tab 3 if open
CTRL + 4 Switch to tab 4 if open
CTRL + 5 Switch to tab 5 if open
CTRL + 6 Switch to tab 6 if open
CTRL + 7 Switch to tab 7 if open
CTRL + 8 Switch to tab 8 if open
CTRL + 9 Switch to last tab
CTRL+click Open link in new tab
Ctrl+Shift+click Open link in a new tab and switch to the tab
Alt+Shift+click Open link in a new window
Ctrl+Enter Add www. to the beginning and .com to the end of text typed in the address bar
CTRL + Tab Switch to the next tab
CTRL + Shift + Tab Switch to the previous tab
CTRL + Shift + B Toggle Favorites bar on or off
CTRL + Shift + K Open new tab of current tab
CTRL + Shift + L Open address bar query from clipboard in a new tab
CTRL + Shift + P Open new InPrivate browsing window
CTRL + Shift + R Toggle Reading view on or off
CTRL + Shift + T Reopen the last tab you closed
Ctrl+Shift+Delete Open clear browsing data pane
CTRL + A Select all
CTRL + D Add current site to favorites or reading list
CTRL + E Open a search query in the address bar
CTRL + F Open “Find on page”
CTRL + G View reading list (does not work for me)
CTRL + H Open history pane
CTRL + I Open favorites pane
CTRL + J Open downloads pane
CTRL + K Duplicate tab
CTRL + L Select the address bar
CTRL + N Open new window
CTRL + P Print the current page
CTRL + Q Open Side Pane (Favorites, selected)
CTRL + R Refresh current page; similar to F5
CTRL + T Open new tab
CTRL + W Close current tab
End Move to bottom of page
Esc Stop loading the page
Home Move to top of page
F1 Help
F4 Select the address bar
F5 Refresh current page
F7 Toggle Caret browsing
Tab Move forward through the items on a webpage, the Address bar, or the Favorites bar
Shift + Tab Move back through the items on a webpage, the Address bar, or the Favorites bar
Windows + G Games bar
Windows + H Share Menu (as known from Charms Bar)

If you’re a developer using Developer Tools (F12 hotkey), Microsoft shows you more love and has an official List of Keyboard Shorcuts for you: Developer Tools Keyboard Shortcuts

Anyways, here is a list of the most useful Developer Tools Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcut Function
CTRL + B Select element (on DOM Explorer tab)
CTRL + K Color picker (on DOM Explorer tab)
CTRL + J Debug just my code (on Debugger tab)
CTRL + E Start or stop profiling to begin a performance session (on Performance, Network, Memory tabs)
CTRL + S Export as HAR (on Network tab)
CTRL + O Import profiling session (on Performance, Memory tabs)
CTRL + S Export profiling session (on Performance, Memory tabs)
CTRL + L Clear errors, warnings, information (on Performance tab)
F5 / F8 Continue (on Debugger tab)
Hold F5 / F8 Fast Continue (on Debugger tab)
F11 Step into (on Debugger tab)
F12 Step over (on Debugger tab)
SHIFT + F11 Step out (on Debugger tab)
CTRL + SHIFT+ F5 Continue and refresh (on Debugger tab)
CTRL + SHIFT + I DOM element highlighting (on DOM Explorer tab)
CTRL + SHIFT + W Break on new worker (on Debugger tab)

Most useful YouTube-DL commands (for audio extraction and conversion, M4A/MP4)

If you are a lover of offline video and audio extraction, you probably know youtube-dl.

Since WEBM gains popularity on YT you have to go new ways, if you are an old-timer like me, who likes to stick with MP4/M4A. But I am not the only one, as the discussions show.

Here are some of my old and new favorites

Audio only / Extracting audio

Extract audio from a YouTube video and convert it to mp3 or m4a (requires ffmpeg installed and in PATH):

youtube-dl URL --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 | m4a

You might want to specific download location:

youtube-dl --output /path/to/your/dir 

But this does not work so well on windows (you often get a wired file name) and in combination with advanced commands. An OUTPUT TEMPLATE can help out.

Extract/convert & download to another location wit that preserves the title of the video:

youtube-dl URL --output "d:\dl\%(title)s.%(ext)s" --extract-audio --audio-format aac

Alternatively, if you don’t want to extract, you could also just download the audio, preferred m4a:

youtube-dl URL -f bestaudio[ext=m4a]/mp4 --output "D:\DL\%(title)s.%(ext)s" 

But: Some audio players do not support DASH audio. For m4a, I had to demux it to make it a ‘regular’ m4a using ffmpeg.

ffmpeg -I input.m4a -vn -c:a copy output.m4a 

(The downside of this method is that you have to do an extra step that makes good use of your drive and CPU.)

Or: Download just mp4 audio and extract/convert it afterwards:

youtube-dl URL -f bestaudio[ext=m4a]/mp4 --extract-audio --audio-format m4a --output "D:\DL\%(title)s.%(ext)s"

(The downside of this method is that you have to download more data).

Best Best video and audio in MP4 & M4A/AAC

youtube-dl URL -f 'bestvideo[ext=mp4]+bestaudio[ext=m4a]/mp4

This filter will give you the best MP4/AAC audio and MP4 video.
According to my own experience the difference to the best WEBM video is rather small (~5-8%). But your millage may vary.

The best audio is most of the time already AAC/M4A. So, don’t worry about that.

That’s it.

Launch UWP apps via URI Scheme

If you ask how to launch a UWP app from the command line, you have to learn new ways.

The common way to launch a UWP app is

Protocol activation via URI

There are a number of built in URIs to launch the default app for things like mailing, etc.

URI Scheme Launches
bingmaps:, ms-drive-to:, and ms-walk-to: Maps app
http: Default web browser
mailto: Default email app
ms-call: Call app
ms-chat: Messaging app
ms-people: People app
ms-settings: Settings app. You can also jump to specific areas, like ms-settings:privacy-webcam
ms-store: Store app
ms-tonepicker: Ring/Alarm Tone picker
ms-yellowpage: Nearby Numbers mobile app
ms-clock: Alarm/Clock (does not work for me)
ms-actioncenter: Action/Notification Center
ms-cortana Cortana
onenote: Default Onenote app
xbox-tcui: Xbox app
ms-cxh: Microsoft Account Profile
microsoft-edge: Edge Browser
read: Edge Reading View (does not work for me)
bingnews: Bing news app

Launching a modern app from the command line

To start the corresponding default app from the terminal (cmd.exe) precede each URI command with start, like this

  >start microsoft-edge:

You can also right-click on the Start button, choose Run (or press Win+R), enter the URI command (without preceding start), and press Enter.

Run-ms-clock

Apart from command line junkies, protocol activation is most useful in your own handmade apps. Because your app can’t select the app that is launched. If there is no app installed to handle the given URI, you can recommend an app for the user to install. For more info, see Recommend an app.

Protocol activation should also work for most 3rd-party apps. If you know the declared (metro/uwp) app name, you can launch the app like this:

twitter:

wunderlist:

Sad to see that some apps have wired internal names like test_uwp_app123:

To use protocol activation for your own app read: Automate launching Windows 10 UWP apps

Many apps also accept additional URI parameters like mailto:your@email.com?subject=Important message
or bingmaps:?cp=40.726966~-74.006076

Alternatives

If this does not work for a specific app, there are some alternatives:

GUI automation with VBS

Someone on stack overflow suggested here to use a VB-Script to automate the UI. It’s kinda ugly, but maybe still useful.

Set objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
objShell.SendKeys "^{ESC}"
WScript.Sleep 1000
objShell.SendKeys WScript.Arguments.Item(0)
WScript.Sleep 1000
objShell.SendKeys "{ENTER}"

Save this to a vbs script, let’s say metrorunner.vbs and run in command line:

>metrorunner.vbs store

Create a Desktop Shortcut

Another option is navigating to the (Modern) App Folder and create a regular Shortcut on your Desktop, as described here.

Win+R: shell:AppsFolder

Then, pick the app you want, right-click, select create a shortcut, and you will be asked if you would like to create one the Desktop.

Not bad. I have to admit I like that special folder for reference purpose, since is gives you an overview of all your installed apps.

That’s all for now.

What makes your SSD last longer – Sleep, Hybrid Sleep, Hibernate, or Shut Down?

ssd_x_ray

The change in storage technology that arrived with Solid-State-Drives (SSD) requires to rethink some computer usage habits, e.g. the daily reboot.

SSDs are in many ways superior to traditional Hard-Disk-Drives (HDD): performance, stability, noise-level, form-factor, efficiency, etc.
The only thing to worry about SSDs is their longevity. While SSDs in general are more durable than HDDs, their life-time is limited by a fixed number of write-accesses. Writing processes happens all the time when you use your computer. Reading does also some wear down, but much less than writing. However, some tasks, like duplicating big files, are more “expensive” in this regard. This also applies to the question whether you should send your computer into Sleep-Mode, Hibernate or Shut-Down when you go off.

Sleep, Hibernate, or Shut Down?

Let me give you a short overview of the options we have at hand.

Sleep barely writes anything and you’re instantly back to where you left off. If you work on a laptop and your battery is going low, Windows saves all your work and turns off your machine. This state is called Hybrid Sleep. The memory of the system is still active in the RAM, but also written to the disk – this is what Hibernate does: a lot of writes (at least your whole used memory). Afterwards the system and your previous work is restored from disk – which could take a while. A Shutdown writes a bit and requires you to fully Reboot your computer (which causes much reads). With a superfast SSD and Windows 10 all these options won’t take very long. The question that remains is: Which causes lesser wear down for your SSD?

The Answer: It depends – on you and your computer

First, we must distinguish here between desktops and laptops.

If you use a laptop and constantly on the run, I would advise to go with the default Hybrid Sleep. A laptop cannot be upgraded and maintained like a desktop computer. In my experience the piece that dies first in a laptop is the battery or the GPU or – if you have an old-timer – the HDD. But not the SSD. So, for convince and peace of mind, I would go with the default Hybrid Sleep.

If you have desktop computer, well, it also depends: Do you use your PC all the time or just frequently?

I you are a heavy user, I recommend to stay away from Hibernate and Hybrid Sleep, just use the Sleep-Mode. Since desktops normally have a larger amount of memory, writing all of its contents to the disk will cause much wear. And if you live in an area where power failures are an unfamiliar thing, you do not have to rely on hybrid sleep (but anyway, always save your work, before you went off.) To disable hibernation, simply open your command prompt as Administrator, type powercfg.exe /hibernate off, and press Enter or us this Microsoft quick fix. No more hibernating!

If you use your computer only frequently, a regular Shut Down should be fine.

That’s all folks.

If you have any comments, suggestions or additions: Put them down in the box below.

PS: If you want o measure how much data is written while you do work / sleep or reboot give SSDLife (record Data written before and after sleep / shutdown) or SsdReady a shot.