Does the Windows 8 installation stall at the disk formatting screen? Do you get this error: “We couldn’t create a new partition or locate an existing one.  For more information, see the Setup log files”?

There are a couple of steps to try.

First, disconnect all external HDD, card readers, and take out all SD cards currently in the system. Reboot and try the installation again.

If that does not work, try this process, taken from TechNet:

  1. Once the setup fails to find the partition, just close the setup window (the top-right-hand side red X does the job).
  2. From that point, you should be brought back at the initial setup screen.Choose “Repair” then go to the advanced tools and start the command line.
  3. Start DISKPART.
  4. Type LIST DISK and identify your SSD disk number (from 0 to n disks).
  5. Type SELECT DISK <n> where <n> is your SSD disk number.
  6. Type CLEAN
  7. Type CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
  8. Type ACTIVE
  9. Type FORMAT FS=NTFS QUICK
  10. Type ASSIGN
  11. Type EXIT twice (one to get out of DiskPart, the other to exit the command line tool)

Windows 8 and Word 2013 are much better adapted to touch controls than Windows 7 and previous Windows operating systems. However, Word 2013 and all the other Office 2013 programs have a very annoying habit of popping up the touch keyboard whenever the touch panel is used. The touch keyboard can cover up to half the screen of the tablet, making it impossible to work using mixed input operations.

The key to solving this annoyance is to either use Touch mode in Office 2013 or disable the Touch Keyboard. The latter is the more effective solution and can be simply done by pulling up the Services console and disabling the Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service:

  1. Press ”Win+R”
  2. Type in ”services.msc”
  3. Find the ”Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service”
  4. Click ”Stop”

The Touch Keyboard can be easily re-enabled by restarting the service or clicking on the Touch Keyboard icon in the Task Bar.

However, the process of always stopping and starting the touch keyboard can be a big hassle. Wouldn’t it be easier to create a simple toggle switch?

 


 

The basic functions

It is possible to create shortcuts to start or disable the Touch Keyboard on demand. The basic programs for this can easily be created using the command line interface, notepad, and batch files.

Simply open NotePad, enter one of the following two lines, and save as a ”.BAT” file (e.g., ”StopTouchKeyboard.bat”).

net stop TabletInputService
net start TabletInputService

The ”sc query” command can also be used for a more verbose message instead of the ”net” command, although the command line interface popup is so quick to disappear that neither command’s message can be seen.

The toggle function

However, the above solutions using net stop and net start are very basic, meaning users need two batch files. Why not create a toggle switch? The || (else) command makes this very simple:

net start TabletInputService || net stop TabletInputService

The || operand means that if net start does not successfully execute (because the service is already running), net stop should execute. If the service is not running, net stop will never execute since net start will successfully execute.

There is at least one glaring problem with this method, however. Batch files normally do not have administrative privileges, which can be a problem when activating these services. To run these batch files, users need to right click and select Run as Administrator. One workaround is to download the ”setinacl” tool from Microsoft, which grants programs administrative privileges; another is to download and run tools such as ”Elevated Shortcut”.

Creating an executable

The next step in this program, then, is to change the batch file from a ”.bat” to a ”.exe” executable. This will make it easier to run the program and give it administrative rights. To do this, run the program called ”iexpress.exe” as an administrator. Iexpress is actually a program to create an installer, but it can be used to run batch files. The options to choose are these (you may want to select other options to troubleshoot the installer):

  • Open ”iexpress.exe” (as an administrator)
  • Select ”Create new Self Extraction Directive file”
  • Select ”Extract files and run an installation command”
  • Type in the desired program name (i.e. TouchKeyboardToggle)
  • Select ”No Prompt” (no installation confirmation)
  • Select ”Do not display a license”
  • Add the batch file (containing the line net start TabletInputService || net stop TabletInputService)
  • Type in this command: “cmd /c “ProgramName.bat” (i.e. cmd /c “TouchKeyboardToggle.bat”)
  • Select ”Hidden” (installation window)
  • Select ”No message” (no post-installation message)
  • Browse for and type in desired program name (i.e. ”C:\Users\UserName\Desktop\TouchKeyboardToggle.exe”) and be sure to select ”Store files using Long File Name inside Package”
  • Select ”No restart”
  • Select ”Don’t save” (don’t save the SED file to create another iexpress installation executable)

Now the process should be done. Run the new executable as an administrator to test the toggle. It should work, if you avoid some common problems. The following are some errors I ran into while creating the toggle:

  • Invalid parameters: If you enable verbose messages (prompts and confirmations), an error will show up when you run the toggle if you do not include quotes around the batch file name in this line: ”cmd /c “ProgramName.bat””. The quotes are very necessary.
  • Windows 7 and higher cannot run 16-bit programs: Windows 7 and 8 do not include the ”command” function, but they do include the ”cmd” function. There is a very small, very important difference of 16 bits between the two very similar programs. Be sure to include ”cmd /c” in this line: c”md /c “ProgramName.bat”” instead of simply ”ProgramName.bat” in order to use the 32-bit cmd function.
  • Cannot create *.RPT (report) file: If you do not run iexpress as an administrator, the system will not allow it to create certain necessary files, meaning the executable will not be created.
    Packaged .bat doesn’t run: If you do not check the ”Store files using Long File Name inside Package” option, the installer might rename the file; when the program runs, it will no longer be able to find the .bat file and nothing will happen.

Giving the program administrative privileges

Now for the final step in the toggle: the administrative rights. It is very easy to bypass the Windows User Account Controls through adjusting UAC settings, creating shortcuts, or creating user tasks. However, the easiest method is probably to simply run the program in compatibility mode with administrative rights always on—this is safe so long as you trust the program. Since this program does very little except turn on and off the Touch Keyboard, there should be no problem with trust, especially if you write it yourself. Simply follow this process:

  1. Right Click on the .exe
  2. Click ”Properties”
  3. Click on the ”Compatibility” tab
  4. Check ”Run as administrator”
  5. Click ”OK”

Final steps

Last, you will probably want to put this program in a nice folder (i.e. ”C:\Program Files\TouchKeyboardToggle\”) and pin a shortcut to it on the task bar for easy access. To create the shortcut, follow this process:

  1. Right Click on the .exe
  2. Click ”Create a Shortcut”
  3. Right Click on the shortcut
  4. Click ”Rename”
  5. Rename the shortcut (i.e. TouchKeyboardToggle)
  6. Press Enter
  7. Right Click on the shortcut
  8. Click ”Pin to Taskbar”

To skip all these steps

I have included the Toggle Switch and Shortcut for readers of this blog. You can find the programs and shortcuts [here|http://s.tgmjapan.com/TouchKeyboardToggle] at [TGM Japan|http://www.tgmjapan.com].

However, you will need to edit the shortcut to point to the correct file location, and you will need to add administrative rights to the program. The program may also not work correctly due to idiosyncrasies within the iexpress OS environment.

One last thing to note is that the program, which is technically an installer, may cause Windows to pop up an error message the first time it runs, asking if the program has installed correctly. Click yes and it should not happen again.

To change the Icons

If you want to change the icons to a more attractive icon, see this resource or simply right click on the shortcut.

 


 

 

Credits:

Other resources:

 

The Acer W500 is a great little tablet PC. Accessing the BIOS under the default Windows 7 can be difficult due to the speed of the system. Accessing the BIOS under Windows 8’s Hybrid Boot can also be extremely difficult. Here’s how to force the tablet to pause so that you can log into the BIOS or use an external USB drive to boot the device.

First, try the combination of Power + Windows button, then F2.

Second, interrupt Windows with a hard shutdown (hold Power for 5 seconds). Try the Power + Windows + F2 button combination again. This time, you might have extra time since Windows believes there was a system error needing analysis and repair.

Third, disable Hybrid Boot under Windows 8, which can be found under Control Panel> Change what the power buttons do> Change settings that are currently unavailable. Then try the Power + Windows + F2 combination again.

Credits for this fix come from the TabletPCReview Forums.

I bought a Dell XPS 11 a while back for its super-slim form and excellent display. So far, it’s been a pleasure to use. However, I recently ran into a problem where the volume buttons started triggering Microsoft Narrator.

I started looking around for the answer, and I found a few interesting things. This apparently affects Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro tablets as well as other Dell XPS tablet PCs, such as the XPS 12, running Windows 8.

What happens is that Windows confuses the buttons with these actions:

  • Win + Vol Up = start Narrator
  • Win + Vol Down = screenshot (saved in ~\Pictures\Screenshots)

And it may be caused by installing a security update for .NET 3.5 and 4.5.1.

You can try fixing it by following these steps:

  1. Press the Windows button on your tablet PC.
  2. Reinstall the security updates.
  3. Uninstall the Keyboard Device from the Device Manager and restart the PC.

Does that help?

 

As a side note, the official Dell forums were no help at all.

 

Sources:

  • http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/volume-up-toggles-the-narrator-on-off-and-the-volume-down-dims-the-screen.56434/
  • http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-desktop/narrator-windows-8-volume-keys-activated-for-no/73bbb642-8f00-4301-9526-e24aa201ddf2?auth=1

Why don’t HomeGroups work with PrivateFirewall? Here’s how to fix it.


 

Update (4/21/2013): This post has been updated to fix some more issues. The quick summary is this:

Open all TCP and UDP ports for SVCHost and System (System Services) from 137-65535 for the local network (low security).

Add all HomeGroup computers to the Trusted Networks/IP Addresses area. Check the firewall log for recent HomeGroup attempts.

However, not all issues are fixed. PrivateFirewall should be disabled (allow all connections) in order to set up a HomeGroup, and while network sharing works with PrivateFirewall on, HomeGroups have some difficulties under mixed Windows 7 and 8 networks.


 

PrivacyWare’s PrivateFirewall is a very good HIPS/Firewall combination. Unfortunately, there are a few issues that can appear from time to time, such as this one: with PrivateFirewall off, Windows HomeGroups work, but with the firewall on, HomeGroups are blocked. Here is how to fix it.

Allow the following ports for these two services:

svchost.exe

1. In/out tcp port 3587 2. In/out udp port 3540

system

1. In tcp port 2869 -WIN mediaplayer networking 2. In/out tcp port 5357-5358

SVCHost should be fairly easy to spot, but System may be masquerading as System Services.

Ports can be adjusted on the PrivateFirewall > Main Menu > Applications page after right clicking on the application anme and selecting Customize, then Add new rules.

Credits go to ITMan at WildersSecurity for this fix.

Update (4/21/2013): Some issues remain with local settings and ports. Here’s what I did to fix them:

Port fixes

Windows 7 (and 8) can use many more ports than what is described in the fix above, which can prevent HomeGroups from working correctly. Microsoft has a good document describing all the network/firewall interactions. There are quite a few individual ports, described by RaviShankar at McAfee Forums:

To find other computers running Windows Vista or Windows 7, open these ports:

UDP 3702, UDP 5355, TCP 5357, TCP 5358

To find network devices, open these ports:

UDP 1900, TCP 2869, UDP 3702, UDP 5355, TCP 5357, TCP 5358

To make HomeGroup work correctly between computers running Windows 7, open these ports:

UDP 137, UDP 138, TCP 139, TCP 445, UDP 1900, TCP 2869, UDP 3540, TCP 3587, UDP 3702, UDP 5355, TCP 5357, TCP 5358

The basic fix is to open all ports in System Services and SVCHost to the local network (low security checkbox) from the ranges of 137-5358 for UDP and TCP. I also noticed that HomeGroups involving Windows 8 and 7 use very large ports as well, in the 55,000 range, so adding up to 65535 should open everything up. This is only advised if your local network is trusted. Do not, of course, open these ranges to the whole internet (high security checkbox). You can also individually open up each port (check the firewall log for all the ports being used), but this is easier.

Trust fixes

PrivateFirewall also relies on trusted networks and computers to make the low security settings work. Open up the PrivateFirewall Main Menu and check the Trusted Sites/IP Addresses area to make sure that your network and all computers are in there. If not, an easy way to add these computers is try to access the HomeGroup on one computer, check the firewall log, click on an entry (the recently generated UDP or ICMPv6 Neighborhood Solicitation traffic), and select Trust Remote. Or, go to the router’s configuration screens to pull up a list of all local clients and IP addresses.