How to Create a Windows 7 Firewall Shortcut

How to Create a Windows 7 Firewall Shortcut
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! (But just for a sec while I check something out.)

Ever wondered how to create a Windows 7 firewall shortcut? If not, you’re probably wondering why anyone would do such a thing. Maybe you’re just smiling and nodding, not even sure what in the heck a firewall is in the first place. Well, without going into too much detail that might bore you before we even get started, a firewall can be hardware or software that monitors your computer’s incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent nasty things from happening to it. Windows includes a software-based firewall as part of its operating system. Normally, this is a good thing.

But if you encounter network problems, one of the first things you should do is disable the Windows firewall to see if it’s the cause of the problem — it’s pretty common. However, disabling the Windows firewall entails so many steps, and you’ll want to enable it again once you’ve identified and resolved the problem.

To make it easier to enable and disable the Windows firewall, you can create a Windows firewall shortcut, as described here:

  • Right click on the desktop, point to New, and click Shortcut.
  • In the shortcut location box, type the following: netsh firewall set opmode disable.
  • Click Next.
  • Type in a name for the shortcut (one that makes it easy to identify what the shortcut is for, like Windows Firewall Shortcut: Disable, for instance).
  • Click Finish.
  • Right click the new shortcut on your desktop and click Properties.
  • Select the Shortcut tab and click the Advanced button.
  • Select the Run as administrator option and click OK.

Now, by double clicking the new shortcut, you can disable the Windows firewall. You should also create a similar shortcut to enable the Windows Firewall. Simply repeat the steps outlined above, only adding the following command in step 2: netsh firewall set opmode enable and naming the shortcut something like Windows Firewall Shortcut: Enable.

Of course, you could name it something like Moose Dandruff Odor Shampoo Paternity Test, but that would be totally silly.

Image: from Child-Land, by Oscar Pletsch and M. Rictor via Project Gutenberg

Add a Videos Link to Your Start Menu in Windows 7

Add a Videos Link to Your Start Menu in Windows 7
You don’t have to use The Force to add a Videos link to your Start menu in Windows 7. Just follow these simple steps.

No Videos link in the Windows 7 Start menu? As some green dame once exclaimed in surprise when things weren’t quite going her way, “What a world! What a world!”

Even many of the bookworms among us would confess that videos — especially in the age of the Internet, serve a pretty broad number of purposes. Videos can be used to instruct others, clarify points, document daily life, entertain, convey information with nuances lost in the written word, solve crimes, plan art museum heists, keep a clandestine eye on your belongings when you’re away, and the list goes on.

Online streaming services like YouTube and Ustream have taken off like gangbusters over the past few years, and their popularity shows no sign of stopping. Since we don’t (yet) have holodecks or truly 3D, interactive television, videos are the next best thing to being there. The quality of video has improved vastly since Thomas Edison’s day, but its ability to delight the child in all of us has never diminished.

And as most of us are consumers of video, there are those who must create that video. And those people who frequently work with videos may have noticed that the Windows 7 Start menu does not include a link to the Videos folder. The Start menu only includes links to the Pictures and Music folders. Not very convenient if you create, save, or watch a lot of videos. Why isn’t there a Videos link in the Windows 7 Start menu? Heck, we could ask “why?” about a lot of things that operating systems designers do and do not do, but that’s probably better addressed elsewhere. Let’s focus on how we can get a Videos link in your Windows 7 Start menu, shall we?

If you use the Start menu to access these folders, you can add a Videos link to your Start menu by using the steps described below.

How to Add a Videos Link to Your Start Menu in Windows 7

  • Right click on the Start menu button and click Properties.
  • Verify that the Start Menu tab is active. Click the Customize button.
  • Under the Video section, select either the Display as a link or Display as a menu option.
  • Click OK to close the Customize Start Menu dialog box.
  • Click OK.

The biggest irony of all? At the time of this writing, there’s no video to accompany this post. This will likely change, but in the meantime, somehow, you’ll manage. Might I recommend checking out the Pirillo Vlog? Or even coming to VloggerFair in Seattle this June? We’d love to meet you!

Image: Sith shared by Juliana Coutinho via Flickr

Why Would I Want to Consider Apple’s Ecosystem over Microsoft’s?

Jaren Lopez writes:

Although the Microsoft ecosystem is young and completely different from Apple’s, what are the major benefits of investing in Apple products instead of Microsoft products? I would prefer to keep myself in one ecosystem rather than having one Microsoft product, one Apple product, and one Android product. I’m leaning towards Microsoft, as I prefer the live tiles (Metro) interface, Xbox Music (free music), touch-centricity, and being able to sync settings across devices. But what is something that you can tell me about Apple’s ecosystem that would possibly make me change my mind?

Why Would I Want to Consider Apple's Ecosystem over Microsoft's?I hate to regurgitate one of the oft-repeated adages about Apple products being for creative types… so I won’t. For one thing, it doesn’t apply anymore, what with the steadily increasing number of quality productivity applications available for Mac OS X and even iOS. As for Windows-based PCs, a decade or so ago the strongest argument for directing someone to Microsoft’s platform would have been one application: Microsoft Office. Though the first versions of Microsoft Word first appeared on Mac systems over two decades ago, until OS X (and really, until the operating system had fully matured), the Apple platform had faced a number of shortcomings in being an acceptable alternative to Windows-based PCs in all but a few corporate office environments.

Importing and exporting Office documents between Macs and Windows PCs while preserving the original integrity of the documents was an issue, for example. This was just one shortcoming of working with Macs; there were also a limited variety of accounting, database, and other applications that most corporate office workers and even small business owners required to perform their daily tasks. Yet for anyone who was interested or already working in graphic design, desktop publishing, audio composition, video production, photography, or some other type of “creative” endeavor, the Apple Macintosh line of products seemed clearly tailor-made for such purposes.

Mac OS X was first previewed over a dozen years ago, and Apple, thanks in large part to third-party software developers, has since made great strides in office productivity. Most of the compatibility issues of bygone days have been overcome, and with the market share of Apple products continuing to grow, there is a continuous flow of new applications and apps being released for both OS X and iOS, many of which are dedicated to getting things other than media editing and artwork done. No longer is Apple simply considered exclusively the platform for artists, and regardless of what the Samsung smartphone commercials would have you believe, Apple mobile devices are not, and have never been, simply for hipsters and the technologically clueless. That’s not to say that some Android-based devices aren’t absolutely marvelous devices; it’s simply a marketing falsity to assert that the the iPhones are lesser device than Samsung’s Android-based ones. Both devices are exceptional, and deliver in the areas — and, by extension, the users — for which they are most suited.

With so many companies relying on social networking for their marketing purposes, iPhones (and even iPod touches) have for many purposes become preferable devices to use for sharing and distributing content. Unless the Windows Phone platform becomes more popular, most of the social marketing performed by those dedicated to Microsoft’s products will be performed using Windows laptops or tablets, since Windows Phone simply hasn’t reached full maturity yet, and developers are simply more interested in developing their best apps for the platforms that have (Android and iOS). So if you’re planning on sticking with Microsoft, consider purchasing an iPhone or an Android smartphone so that you’ll be able to get some work done, particularly if you wish to use the latest and most popular mobile apps.

One major consideration when looking into delving into the Apple ecosystem is one of major contention between both Apple advocates and the anti-Apple establishment: proprietary standards. Apple makes a good deal of profit by restricting the tainting of its products through quality control, and part of that control turns off a good number of potential customers. For example, every few years Apple likes to incorporate new types of technology into its products that aren’t yet widely adopted, such as its introduction of FireWire (Apple’s name for the IEEE 1394 standard) way before Windows-based PC vendors were incorporating the data-transfer technology into their systems. Apple also famously excluded floppy drives and optical drives from its computers before any PC manufacturers did. Most recently, Apple switched to a new type of connector for its iOS devices.

Whenever Apple introduces proprietary connectors or even open standards that are not yet widely used, the company causes just as many problems as it seems to be attempting to solve. Many peripheral manufacturers have to rush to develop solutions that will enable consumers to continue to use their products with Apple devices. Consumers have to spend more money to purchase the resulting solutions. And although many consumers are perfectly willing to pony up the cash for the changes that Apple introduces — since most of the technologies Apple introduces greatly improve the overall user experience and productivity for consumers — there are plenty of users who don’t appreciate these alterations. So you must decide if you are willing to be a flexible consumer when it comes to buying into Apple.

Apple also undergoes a more rigorous vetting process when accepting third-party developers’ apps into its App Store. This creates consternation for some developers, but for the consumer it usually ensures more reliable and well-built mobile apps. By comparison, Google Play (Android’s apps marketplace, formerly called Android Market) accepts far more apps from developers, resulting in what many perceive as a store of applications that is inferior to Apple’s. The subject is moot, however, as nobody has been able to reach a conclusion as to which platform offers the superior software. One thing that can be said for certain, however, is that Microsoft has a far smaller collection of applications available for its Windows Phone mobile operating system.

At the same time, with Microsoft’s new Windows 8 and Windows Phone strategies, you also have to be quite flexible. Fortunately for you, you seem to be enjoying the new interface and integration that Microsoft is offering with its latest products, so you won’t have to worry as much as other Windows consumers about upgrading into a new paradigm that may or may not turn out to be less inspiring than the advertisements would have it. So investing heavily into the Mac world may not be in your best interest at this time. If you can afford to, buy a Mac mini — you know, one of the “headless” ones that you can use with an existing display — and see how much it grabs you. It’s the least expensive way to gain a solid understanding of how Mac OS X operates. You don’t have to dive headfirst into the Mac ecosystem, and a Mac mini will provide you with what you need to test the waters before you decide to plunge in or not.

If you can’t afford a Mac mini right now, a good alternative may be the iPod touch or iPhone, which you may find you prefer to using a Windows Phone, anyway. With an iPod touch, you basically have a mini iPad mini and it’s the least expensive way to get a taste of the Apple user experience. Apple is still making a 16 GB version of the iPod touch 4th generation for $200 that runs the latest version of iOS, minus a few features (such as the Siri voice recognition technology). LockerGnome contributor Harold Johnson was able to find a 32 GB one for around the same price, brand new, during the last Cyber Monday sale, and you can find one on Amazon right now for slightly less than its price on Apple.com. That way, if you find you don’t take to Apple as much as you’d been expecting, you’ll at least have invested in what is still considered by most to be the best portable media consumption device available. It’s certainly still the best music player I have, particularly since it doesn’t rely on any type of wireless connection to play music.

Community: What am I missing here? What would you tell someone who is on the fence about exploring the Apple side of technology?

Image from Amazon

How to Install XP Mode in Windows 7

How to Install XP Mode in Windows 7When it’s 2012 and you’ve gone through the trouble (and paid the cost) of installing Windows 7, you might wonder (and rightfully so) why you might want to use something called an “XP Mode.” After all, when you went through the upgrade process, didn’t you figure that XP was something you’d be leaving behind as a quaint relic of a bygone age? Why regress when the high-paced world of high tech is constantly screaming at you to progress?

With Windows 8 on the horizon (or already on your beloved system if you’re a brave preview consumer), who needs XP? Who needs Vista (aside from your worst enemies, of course)? Who even needs Windows 7, anymore? It’s so yesteryear. Geeks like new things! Geeks want shiny, happy operating systems! Bring us tomorrow, today!

Well, the need for such a thing isn’t Windows’ fault. It’s not even Microsoft’s fault. Of course, it’s not your fault, either. But just as you can’t play an old VCR tape of home movies that you made in the ’80s on a DVD player from the ’90s, there are some programs and applications that simply won’t run natively on Windows 7. Blame progress or the passage of time, if you must. As a result, you may find the need to trick your shiny, new, but oh, so naive system into thinking that the PIM (personal information manager) you’ve been using since December of ’01 (and three computers ago) should be allowed to run in Windows 7. Windows XP Mode is the ticket that’ll allow your obsolete, but beloved application to sneak past the bouncer and into Windows 7 just like it belongs there. (The attitude! The confidence! Now there’s an operating system that’s going places, man!)

Before installing XP Mode, verify that your computer meets all the hardware and software requirements.

  • Assuming that your computer meets all the hardware and software requirements, the steps for installing XP Mode are described below.
  • Go to the Windows Virtual PC website.
  • Select your edition of Windows 7 and the desired language for installation.
  • Click the Windows XP Mode download button.
  • Click Continue for Windows Validation. Then click Continue to download XP Mode.
  • Save the executable on your computer.
  • Once the download is complete, double click the WindowsXPMode_en-us.exe to begin the installation.
  • Click Next.
  • Click Next to accept the default installation directory.
  • Once the installation is complete, click Finish.

Now that you’re an expert in the art of installing XP mode in Windows 7, you probably have a few uses in mind for this old bird. Maybe you need to run some ancient software you’ve had sitting around in a box in your garage since Vista hit the fan shelves. Maybe your computer’s a resource hog and never really played well with the whole Windows 7 experience. Maybe you just like the Windows XP way of doing things better and we should just get off your back because who asked us, anyhow? Well, for the sake of our fellow LockerGnome readers, we’d love it if you’d share your reasons in the comments below. Not only is it something with which we’re fiercely interested, but it’s something that might just give our community members at large some new ideas for their own uses. We’re all about sharing — join the party!

7plus for Windows 7

7plus For Windows 7We all know that there just aren’t usually enough hours in the day to get the constructive things done that we’d like to cross off of our to-do lists before heading off to enjoy the leisure activities of our choosing or — most blessed leisure activity of all — sleep. It’s a sad fact of life that labor saving devices designed to give us back this precious time often operate counter to this goal and cause us to take on more work. Don’t have to churn your own butter? Excellent! Then surely you’ll have more time to compile this very important report and have it for the boss by tomorrow morning. No longer need to hang out by the river to scrub clothes clean because one of those new-fangled washing machines will do it for you now? Perfect! Surely you can put stamps on these 1,000 letters begging for fundraising at the nonprofit where you volunteer and have them out by this afternoon! Did Laura Ingalls and her family have to worry about this kind of nonsense in their little house on the prairie?

If you like trying new things that might actually make your constructive time more so, take a look at 7plus for Windows 7. 7plus is a project that adds additional features and functionality to Windows 7 in an attempt to help you be more productive. For example, it lets you upload files to an FTP server from within Windows Explorer using a single hotkey. I know may people who would find this feature alone to be very useful.

There is a lengthy list of features included with 7plus. Here is a quick highlight of some of the features you can expect to see:

  • Upload content to an FTP server within Windows Explorer using one hotkey
  • Create new folders and text files by pressing F8/F7
  • Paste text or image from the clipboard as file
  • Set Windows to always be on top by right clicking the title bar
  • Add tabs for Windows Explorer
  • Show free space and selected file size in the status bar

Download 7plus here and see a complete list of features included with 7plus.

Don’t Edit Attachments Within Windows Mail

There should be an image here!I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they opened a Word document included as an attachment within an email, edited the document, and clicked Save. When they re-opened the document within the email, their changes were not saved. Let’s just say that the number of times I’ve heard this is countless.

I added one more to that countless number when my mother called the other night in a panic. She had worked on editing a Windows Mail attachment for two hours, saved it, and now her changes were gone. So off I went to see what she had done this time.

I discovered that she received an email with a Word attachment. She opened the document from within the email and proceeded to edit it. When she was finished, instead of doing a Save As, she simply clicked Save. Her assumption was that her changes would be saved and she could just forward the email back to the recipient. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

What many people don’t realize is that when you open an attachment, such as a Word document, within Windows Mail, it is opened as a temporary file in the temp folder. Once you are done editing the document, even though you click Save, the document reverts back to the original version as soon as you close it. You must save the attachment to your computer if you want to save your changes!

Of course, someone sending a file in Word .doc format could be kind and tell the recipient that such saves won’t work, or send it in a completely different format (such as .rtf or .txt) to preempt this problem. In response to this post, Gnomie Stan wrote to bring up some very good points (republished here in hopes that others may learn from them):

Actually, you should never email a word doc.

You should never open a word document emailed to you.

Do not keep any Word docs that have been emailed to you in your email client.

Word is not a program meant to sent documents over the Web.

If you must send a doc from Word, send it as an .rtf (rich text file).

Microsoft Word files are a security hazard. Unlike standard data formats, Word files can contain programming code which can be executed by your computer automatically when a document is opened. Microsoft’s motivation for including this “feature” in Word was to allow word processing macros to be saved along with the document. However, it was not long before malicious people began exploiting this design flaw by writing Word macro code to surreptitiously delete random files or otherwise damage one’s computer. As a result, Word files are now notorious as the vector for dozens of computer viruses. When you receive a Word attachment by email, do you really want to take the risk of welcoming a proverbial Trojan horse into your system?

In cases where the document makes use of special formatting and you expect the recipient to edit it, you may wish to send an .rtf file instead of a Word file. .rtf was developed as a standard data interchange format for word processors, and most popular word processors can read and write such files. .rtf may not preserve physical formatting exactly, but unlike with HTML, it at least tries to specify physical presentation rather than leaving it entirely up to the recipient’s application.

See: Avoid E-Mail Attachments, Especially Microsoft Word

Thanks, Stan!

Can iPad And Tablet Use In The Enterprise Hurt Microsoft?

It has been interesting watching Redmond giant Microsoft not respond to the Apple iPad and other tablets, since it seems there was little concern for the devices. Even though Microsoft has seen the success of the Apple iPad being directed at the consumer market, the company had no fear that businesses would use either the Apple iPad nor any other tablet system. Now that more companies are introducing tablet computers that are mainly using Google’s Android OS, business organizations are starting to look at tablet computers to give their employees more flexibility.

So why is this happening? It seems that many companies dismissed the smartphone as a toy when it was introduced. Companies who didn’t provide smartphones to their employees regretted not doing so as they saw the benefits of the devices for business use. Businesses are not about to make the same mistake twice and therefore according to a Gartner bulletin, are starting to implement tablet computers to their employees.

But just how many companies will implement tablet computers into the work place? Some in the business world like Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore believes there might be quite a few. His estimates of PC growth has been slashed from 9% down to 4%. He cites the growth of the tablet by businesses which could stem the future growth of PC sales.

On the flip side Microsoft has stated that their upcoming Windows 8 will be tablet friendly. Microsoft and their partners could introduce a tablet next year and the selling feature would be its compatibility with Windows desktops and other Windows devices. This alone could make some businesses wait to see what Microsoft comes up with, before taking the plunge into the tablet market.

But before we write off Microsoft and run out and sell our Microsoft stock, there are a few facts that we must remember. According to the worldometers web site, there has been something like 1 billion PC computers in use through out the world. This number is expected to hit 2 billion by 2015. It is estimated that Apple has sold some 40 million iPad and iPad 2 tablets. Compared to a billion units that are most likely running Microsoft software, 40 million is hardly anything to worry about.

I believe this is why Microsoft is in no hurry to enter the tablet market.

Comments welcome.

Source – InformationWeek

Source – Worldometers

Open Candy Advertising Software – Would You Want This On Your Computer?

There is a new kid in town, with a new advertising scheme, that you may run into when installing new software onto your computer system. The basic operation of Open Candy is to offer you the user, additional software downloads, when installing software onto your Windows-based system. When you install a new software program onto your system, the Open Candy advertising software, presents a screen in which you can either select to install additional software or ignore the installation if you wish.

The theory of this, according to the folks at Open Candy, is that this will allow consumers the opportunity to purchase other software from the developer of the program you are installing. This in itself sounds OK, except there is one minor issue with this type of software. The Open Candy software installs onto your computer to do a search so it can determine a listing of software that may be a best choice for you to use. In other words, Open Candy doesn’t want to recommend a software you may already have installed on your computer.

I took a stroll around the Internet, after doing a Google search for Open Candy, when I located an interesting piece on the Gizmo’s website. According to the folks at Gizmo’s, this is what happens whether you accept to install additional software or not to install additional software:

While you can elect not to download any of the programs suggested by OC you cannot opt out from installing OC itself; it is fully embedded in the installation process.

In addition to the above, additional information about your computer is allegedly sent back to the folks at Open Candy. Again, it is immaterial whether you accept to download the software or not, that Open Candy is offering. In their FAQ it seems that Open Candy does admit this.

To their credit Open Candy does provide information on how to uninstall their software and to remove any registry keys that may be left on your computer system.

I guess my question would be this. Do we need another advertising gimmick that scans our computers and sends back information to a companies servers?

I haven’t ran into the Open Candy software so I have no personal knowledge about it. If you have run into Open Candy during the installation process, would you please share your thoughts with us.

Source – Open Candy

Microsoft Windows 8 – Could This Be The Best Windows Yet?

Ever since Windows wore knickers, I have always been anxious to test and be the first to use the latest edition of Windows. Now that we are hearing rumors about what the next version of Windows may include, my antenna is once again being raised in anticipation of what new features Windows 8 may offer us. Let me first state that I have not had the opportunity to try the Alpha version of Windows 8, nor do I have any inside information about the new operating system. What I do have are my own personal opinions of what we could expect and what we may not see in Windows 8.

We need to explore the history of previous versions of Windows and how these past versions have been accepted by the public. The first version of Windows that I believe was the best in the original numbered versions was Windows 3.11. When Windows 3.11 was released it was very stable and though there were a few minor issues, the overall performance and stability was vastly improved over previous versions.

Microsoft Windows 8 - Could This Be The Best Windows Yet?
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by RocketRaccoon

Next came Windows 95. Though Windows 95 offered us the ability to multi-task, the program was extremely buggy from the start. It wasn’t until Microsoft came out with Windows 98 second edition that we were back on track to a stable version with minimal issues. Next Microsoft introduced us to Windows ME — that was a disaster on wheels and had a life span of about six months. All of us took pity on the poor souls who bought new computers housing ME and it was often recommended to uninstall ME and install Windows 98 to obtain stability and performance. I guess I should mention that during this period of time, the business version of Windows called NT had been replaced with Windows 2000; that worked fairly well.

Microsoft released its much touted version of Windows XP, which combined the best of all Windows version from consumer and business editions, into a professional edition. This was a one size fit all, and in general, was one of the best versions of Windows ever. Millions of users world-wide continue to use XP, much to the dislike of Microsoft, which would like to see XP die a timely death.

Microsoft next introduced us to Windows Vista. Though I had few issues with Vista itself, consumers overall were dissatisfied with performance and stability issues. The laptop I use for business originally came with Vista installed. I anxiously waited for Windows 7 and immediately removed Vista and installed Windows 7. The result was dramatic and I saw my laptop immediately jump to life. It was like I had purchased a brand new computer. Yes, it was that dramatic.

This morning I was watching our local news that televised a screen shot from one of their computers, and I immediately noticed they were using Windows XP. Yesterday while at my dentist’s office I noticed they were still using XP. Our youngest daughter who works for one of the major automotive supply companies in the U.S., told me their systems were all using XP. This I believe is where Microsoft will concentrate its efforts in Windows 8.

Though we consumers like to pride ourselves into thinking that Windows is for us, the bottom line is that the money is where the business element of our society is. There should be plenty of new toys for us to play with and we consumers won’t be disappointed. I am looking forward to the new version and look forward to playing with the first beta.

Just my two cents.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft Continues Ban Of IE9 On Windows XP

Even though the latest browser results show that Microsoft Internet Explorer continues its slide in usage, the company refuses to allow Windows XP users to install IE9 on their computers. It seems that Microsoft is hoping that Windows XP users will upgrade to Windows 7 once they realize that they cannot use the latest and greatest Microsoft browser.

This may have made good business sense back five years ago, when Internet Explorer held a commanding lead in the browser market and before Microsoft started to see its market share slide. As more and more users sought alternatives to Internet Explorer, mainly switching to Firefox, people no longer needed to be tied to one browser alone. Today Windows XP users have a multitude of choices from companies like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and others.

Here are the latest numbers for browser usage for each of the most popular browsers on the market:

Internet Explorer is at about 55.9%

Firefox holds a 21.8% market share.

Google Chrome comes in at 11.6%

With this in mind, Windows XP users have plenty of alternatives to use on their system no matter what Microsoft decides to do. In other words, Microsoft cannot believe that it is going to kill off Windows XP by not allowing IE9 onto the older operating systems. Or does the company believe this? Its excuse for not allowing IE9 onto Windows XP is that it would need to dumb down the browser to work on Windows XP and this would not be good in pushing the Internet forward.

Why is it that the other companies can get their browsers working on Windows XP without any issues? Why is it that these alternatives to Internet Explorer continue to grab more market share month after month?

What do you think, Windows XP users? Will you dump XP to get your hands on IE9? Or will you continue to use XP until your computer blows up?

Comments welcome.

Source – PC World

Speed Up Disk Cleanup In Windows XP Using The NTFS File System

I realize that many of us use tools like CCleaner to remove the junk and gunk from our computer systems. However we all have friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances and fellow employees that may not have the expertise to use advanced add-on tools, If you have ever tried to explain to someone how to use any type of computer tool, then you have seen the deer in the head light look. But we do have built-in Windows tool like Disk Cleanup that are effective and fairly easy to use.

One flaw when using Disk Cleanup in Windows XP using the NTFS file system, is that Disk Cleanup takes for ever to run. It also has a tendency to stop right in the middle of a scan and could freeze up your computer. The problem is that Disk Cleanup on a NTFS system wants to compress files.

To correct this situation we have two options.

Option #1 requires the knowledge on how to edit the registry. If you are not familiar with using a registry editor, stop right here and go to option #2. Open Regedit and delete this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerVolumeCachesCompress old files

Option #2 is simpler and recommended for users who are not experts in using the Windows operating system. Go to this link for Computer Education and scroll down to the REG files for editing the Windows Registry. Click on the file Speed up Disk Cleanup (Windows XP) which will download a file onto your computer. Click on the file you just downloaded and it will automatically remove the registry entry mention in option #1.

Comments welcome.

Source – Computer Education IDG Tech Network

Freezing A Failed Hard Drive – Is It A Myth Or Does It Work?

I received this from a buddy of mine last night and I thought I would share it with you:

Hi Ron,

I have a problem and maybe you can help me. I have an older computer and the hard disk isn’t working. I tried it in two different computers and I couldn’t get either system to boot. I read an article on the Internet about putting the drive in the freezer. Does this really work?

First I would like to explain the procedure just in case you may wish to try this:

  • You place your hard disk inside of a freezer bag; some people recommend two freezer bags.
  • Place the wrapped hard disk in the freezer for 12 hours. There are some who state that it has to be 24 hours.
  • Remove the drive from the freezer, place it back into your computer, and hopefully it will boot up.
  • You must work quickly in order to grab your data and transfer the data onto another media.

So does the procedure work or is it just a myth?

I have tried this procedure about 10 times during my computing career. Unfortunately I only was able to save the data from one hard disk. I have tried variations of freezing using many of the tips and tricks I have read over the years, and have had little success in trying any of these gimmicks.

My personal opinion is this: you have nothing to lose giving this a try. You can reuse the freezer bags so the cost is nothing more than a little of your time. Now here comes the I told you so: nothing can take the place of a good backup strategy.

On March 2, 2011 I wrote an article about being paranoid since I use four backup regimes; I would highly recommend you do the same.

Comments welcome.

Original backup article.

Does Microsoft Windows Need To Do More Or Less In Future Versions?

There is little doubt that over the years we have seen Microsoft Windows continue to grow, into what some claim is now bloated beyond belief. Some have claimed that Microsoft has followed a pattern in their growing spurt as hard disks grew bigger, processors became faster and memory became cheaper. Microsoft also had no qualms in sharing the super sizing even for their prized software Microsoft Office.

Some have stated that this increase in size was needed as the operating system carried more of the load, offered my options, included more software such as DVD writing and other applications. Microsoft Office was also called upon to do more for their clients which in turn added to its growth in size. So if you run both Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office latest editions, you saw a definite increase in size.

What also is bringing attention to Microsoft is that while the bigger computer cousins like desktop and laptops can handle the load, smaller hardware like netbooks and tablets struggle pushing the Windows code. Even though Microsoft has shrunk Windows down to a bare minimum these devices still struggle. While over at Apple and Google their operating systems thrive on lean hardware.

However, if it was that simple to compare Microsoft Windows to Apple iOS or Google Chrome, the argument would be easy. Except that there are distinct differences that separate these operating system for the specific needs of the consumer. So putting this argument aside and also the argument that Windows contains outdated code etc. , is Windows too bloated?

Hold on say some to this notion. They like the way Windows 7 functions plus they enjoy all of the new bells and whistles. They argue that they do not care how big Windows is because Windows works just fine on their desktop or laptop computers. In addition some want Windows to increase what it does and add more features. With the new hard drive sizes they feel that Windows getting larger is a none event.

One comment that I found of interest was from those who have chosen to put Windows on a SSD drive and store their data on a traditional hard disk. They complain that this type of system doesn’t function perfectly since Windows seems to feel that all software should be installed in the Programs file directory. Microsoft would have to address this problem, which some feel will not happen anytime soon.

How this idea? The user gets to choose what gets installed on a system and where it gets installed? This suggestion, coupled with a modular type of Windows, seems very popular.

Personally I don’t care. Windows 7 runs great on my systems and I have no complaints. The days of calling Windows or Office bloated make no sense, since the hard disks we have become so huge, and performance hasn’t suffered because of faster processors and more memory, the argument is a moot point to me.

So what do you think?

Source – Windows 7 News Forum

Firefox 4 Final Version Ready For Download

If you haven’t got your hands on the final release of Firefox 4, you can download the Windows 32 bit version in English U.S. from the link at the bottom of this article. I am currently using the final release version of Firefox 4 to write this article and to share my observations with you.

After upgrading my add-ons to the latest versions, everything seems to be working properly.

Those who have tried the beta are already familiar with the graphic user interface [GUI]. It is totally different from past versions of Firefox and uses a look a la Google Chrome with the tabs up on top. I actually prefer the tabs up on top. Since I started using Google Chrome as my primary browser because of a compatibility issues using Zemanta, I have adapted easily to this feature. You also have the option to turn off tabs on top if you wish.

Memory usage, which has always been a bone of contention for me, has not improved. After running Firefox 4 for less than an hour, memory soared to 223,556K , according to Process Explorer. Though some have claimed that memory usage has improved, I haven’t seen it.

Speed. Everyone wants to talk about speed. Plus everyone wants to claim that their browser is the fastest. Today, every browser is fast — or is it the browser’s connection speed to the Internet that is fast? For those of you who are still on dial-up, no browser is going to be speedy. For those who use broadband, I seriously doubt that one will be able to see any speed difference as pages render quickly before your eyes.

What is going to separate and differentiate all of the browsers is when everyone starts to use all of the new versions and we can determine which browser is more secure.

Download a copy of Firefox 4 for yourself and let us know what you think.

Comments welcome.

Firefox 4 Final Release Windows 32 bit English U.S. version

Will webOS On All HP Computers Change The Way We Compute?

The way we use our computers is going to change dramatically this decade and the changes will be coming fast and furious. Starting in 2010 we saw the first devices that featured non-Microsoft operating systems that actually make many new devices function on par with Windows or that actually are better. Operating systems like Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Chrome, and Linux versions such as Mint are now capable alternatives to Windows. Now HP is talking about placing its recent purchase of webOS on all of its computers, along with Windows, starting next year. This will allow consumers to try the webOS, which HP is hoping they will prefer over Microsoft’s popular operating system.

In the past most consumers only knew one thing: Windows was what made a computer work and Windows is what they used exclusively. Mention Linux and they look at you like a deer looking into the headlights of an oncoming car. Consumers using computers are a lazy bunch, and if Windows worked, why change? That was than and this is now. There are new kids on the block that consumers are trying and starting to like.

The entire phenomenal change started with Apple and its iOS, which is used on its popular iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Google followed with its Android OS and is in the process of beta testing its Chrome OS. Consumers suddenly realized that there was a life outside of Windows and that the alternatives offered extremely friendly operating systems that were easy to use. Gone are the days when we struggled trying to learn how a computer system worked. The slimmed down operating systems are intuitive and the learning curve is quick for experienced users.

So will the experiment by HP to include the webOS along with Windows change the way we compute? I seriously doubt it will and here is why. Most users will not even play with it. They will just use the operating system they are familiar with and that is Windows. Do you think I am wrong? Try a simple experiment. The next time you start talking computer geek with a non geek, ask them their thoughts about Linux, iOS, Android, or Google Chrome. Ask them if HP will be successful with webOS.

The odds are they will not have a clue as to what you are talking about.

Now I have a confession to make. I have tried Linux Mint, used the Cr-48 Google Chrome netbook, and played with my wife’s Apple iPad. They are all great products and I enjoy using them. But my computer of choice is my Toshiba 17″ with a full keyboard and running Windows 7 Ultimate. It just works for me for my daily chores on the Internet. Everything fits like a glove and it may be a while before I completely dump Windows. In fact it may not ever happen.

But that is just my opinion and my choice. I respect whatever you use and hope you enjoy your computing experience as much as I enjoy mine.

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – Tech News Daily