Category Archives: hw

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Making use of MS LifeCam

I cannot get my old Microsoft LifeCam camera to work with any other program, other than Microsoft’s own and web browsers. I usually work my USB cams via iSpy, but although it once recognized the camera, and still does, something is wrong and it does not display its video or still picture, so I am stuck with MS’s corresponding software.

Unfortunately, the original software does not allow configuring where to save videos and pictures. It always saves them to

<system drive:>\Users\<user name>\Pictures

So, for user “xpto”, and system at drive C:, it always saves to

C:\Users\xpto\Pictures

I would prefer to save elsewhere, so I replaced the “Pictures” folder with a symbolic link to a different drive.

Using the command line, here is my input and the system’s output.

C:
C:\Users\admin>cd C:\Users\admin\Pictures

C:\Users\admin\Pictures>rd "LifeCam Files"

C:\Users\admin\Pictures>mklink /D "LifeCam Files" i:\av3\ms_lifecam
symbolic link created for LifeCam Files <<===>> i:\av3\ms_lifecam

What to do when your new HDD drive arrives?

When in need of HDD space for content archival, I usually purchase internal SATA HDDs with 4+ TBs of capacity. The “Western Digital RED” series has been working OK for me, although I had one 6 TB volume complete failure (suddenly unrecognizable, unrecoverable, and all that on very light use), months ago.

When one buys these HDDs, they should arrive “uninitialized” and, with zero starts/stops and zero minutes of use, inside a sealed anti-static bag, ideally inside a retail or OEM card package. You can check the SMART data using software like “HDD Sentinel”.

Here is what I do next, on Microsoft Windows, using the “computer management” tool (“compmgmt.msc”):
1) Initialize the disk using “GPT” and not “MBR” (for better support of large volumes);
2) Quick format the HDD (for a speedy format);
3) Disable content indexing (for speedier usage and because for searching I do not use Windows Explorer or other Microsoft tools).

Then, using the command prompt (“cmd.exe”), I use fsutil to disable 8.3 names creation. For example, if the volume was assigned to drive M:

fsutil 8dot3name query M:
fsutil 8dot3name set M: 1

The first line will probably tell you that 8.3 names (for retro compatibility with Windows XP, DOS, etc.) is enabled;
The second line disables 8.3 names creation, speeding up the file system operations on the drive. This makes a big performance difference when working with thousands of files, which is my case.