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All posts tagged "windows 7"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Small Form Factor PC Plugs Directly Into Wall Outlet

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

"AMD is apparently using the LiveBox Mini to showcase its lineup of low-power sipping APUs, as the company doesn't typically build or design complete systems. Perhaps this is somewhat of a form factor blueprint for computer manufacturers to follow."

Now here is something a little different. Imagine you want a small form factor PC but don't really want even a small PC to sit on your desk. How about one that plugs directly into an outlet? This small unit features 1 GB of RAM and a 64 GB SSD. It also boasts two USB ports, HDMI output, Ethernet port, memory card slot and SIM card slot. Hit the Read link to see a short video clip of it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Group Icons in the Windows 7 Taskbar with Bins

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 06:00 PM

One word: clever. The Windows 7 taskbar - sometimes called the "Superbar" - is light years better than what we had with Windows Vista. Ever used Vista on a high-res display and tried to target the tiny Quickbar icons? Painful! Windows 7 made that pain go away, but now it's easy to end up with a plethora of icons and no good way to organize them. Enter Bins: this app allows you to group icons together on the taskbar, creating groups in whatever way makes sense to you (putting all your browser shortcuts together for instance). There's a free public beta right now, after which the developer will presumably charge a few bucks for the utility.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are Developers Lazy, or is Windows 7 Broken?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 11:00 AM

The above screen shot is what I saw after upgrading Evernote on Windows 7 yesterday. The white icon used to be my Evernote icon, but after the upgrade the icon becomes broken. When clicked on, this error pops up:

I can click Yes in response to that error, or if I right-click on the icon and select to Unpin the icon, it will be removed. Then I click and drag the application shortcut on the desktop back onto my taskbar. The question is, why should I have to do that every time I do a software upgrade? I see this frequently with TweetDeck, iTunes, and basically every other app I can think of that updates frequently. It only takes about 10 seconds to fix every time it happens, but I find myself asking the question "Why should I have to fix this?".

Not being a developer, I have no idea why this happens: is there something broken in the Windows 7 software upgrade system that doesn't allow you to update the shortcut already in place to work with your software? Or, better yet, why is it breaking in the first place? I seriously doubt that the .exe file the shortcut links to is changing.

Does anyone know what's going on here?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Windows 7 and SSD Makes For Fast Computer

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 03:00 PM

"I’ve been using SSD-equipped PCs with Windows 7 since October 2009, and I now have two laptops and one desktop PC that are fitted with these superfast drives. Over the holidays, I set out to fine-tune the storage configuration in all three systems and was able to increase overall system performance dramatically. In a follow-up post, I’ll explain exactly what you need to know to squeeze maximum performance out of an SSD."

Time is money. That is what they say at least. If you have ever gone for a coffee while waiting for your computer to start up, or had to decide whether it is worth it to start up your computer to check something online, you can probably appreciate what SSDs have to offer. It is not just boot times, but the whole computing experience that can benefit from the zippy qualities of SSDs. Compromises are made of course, with SSDs generally being much more expensive than your traditional hard drive, and their storage capacity is often much smaller but sometimes, all you want is speed!

Being an old fogey, I still prefer the old hard drive. Mostly because I like the extra capacity and cost effectiveness of it. Since I tend to leave my computer turned on with my programs almost always running, many of the speed benefits of an SSD are lost on me. I admit to being tempted to using one for my laptop, but I tend to keep that baby trimmed down so that its boot time to usefulness is pretty quick. Is it worth the switch? Have any of you done your own comparisons and cannot live without the speed boost that an SSD provides? Did you find that you had to make tweaks to get the most out of it? What do you use your computer for that makes the ugpade worthwhile?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What to do with the New Addition to Your Family

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"After years of struggling with your old, sluggish Windows PC, you've finally unwrapped a shiny new computer. Here's how to get started tweaking your settings, installing programs, and beefing up security to keep it running like a dream."

Some of us will be fortunate enough to have been gifted with a new computer this holiday season. For those whose choice favours Windows based PCs, LifeHacker has put up a checklist of what you should do with your fancy new productivity device. It covers all the basics, however, from personal experience, one thing I would hold off on is installing a gaggle of programs unless you are sure you need it.

After years to building new computers, or rebuilding old ones, I used to have a list of programs that I would install each time, and while websites like make things much easier, I have come to realize that there are some programs I used to think I used all the time that just collect dust. It might be exciting to install a wide range of programs, but I have found that even with today's computers, the more you install, the more cluttered things become, so installing programs as you need them tends to be my policy except for that core list which I know I use every day.

Do you have your own ritual when you get a new computer? Any special incantations or steps you go through to make sure your transition to a new PC is a happy and joyous one?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z: A Powerful, Capable Office Computer

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:35 PM

This is my review video of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z all-in-one desktop computer. The M90z features a 23 inch, 16:9, 1920 x 1080 touch screen display, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, a DVD burner, uses the Intel GMA HD GPU, and is powered by an Intel Core i5 650 running at 3.2 Ghz (with turbo boost up to 3.46 Ghz). The i5 CPU has two cores, and supports hyperthreading, so up to four threads of processing can occur. The M90z I'm reviewing now has 64-bit Windows 7 Professional on it, unlike when it was first unboxed. Being able to access the full 4 GB of RAM instead of only 2.8 GB helped me gain a bit over a 10% improvement in the PC Mark Vantage score; details are in the video.

Other features on the M90z include gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, a 2 megapixel Webcam with a physical privacy screen and dual microphones, six USB ports, DisplayPort out for running a second monitor, VGA input for using the M90z as a display (laptop, gaming console, etc.), an SDHC memory card reader, and audio in/out. It has a three year warranty. Read more...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tips to Make Windows 7 Faster

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:00 PM

"One of the things you might encounter after upgrading your computer or starting a new computer for the first time is the amount of stuff that might make the operating system start a little groggy at first. This article will show you some of the common tasks you can do to speed up that old computer or squeeze as much performance as possible out of that [Windows 7] PC."

The good folks at have written a three-part (thus far!) series on making Windows 7 "even faster." Starting with Disk Cleanup, the series sticks to the utilities and settings that are available within Windows 7 itself, and touches upon such topics as System Protection (Restore), Performance Tools, Indexing, and Startup Performance. The articles are a good starting point, and the suggestions should be safe, easily undone, and, of course, are all available without cost, other than one's time. It is possible that the series is not yet complete, but a couple of minor gripes thus far are that the author's list of Startup recommendations is based upon the programs running on one particular system, no mention is made of deactivating Windows Services, or of the potential advantages of File and Disk optimization (defragmentation and partitioning). What are your favorite methods of speeding up Windows (free, or at relatively low cost)? Do you use third-party utilities, or stick with the one's Microsoft builds in?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Make Windows 7 Part Of Your Family

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Starting today, customers in the United States can purchase the Windows 7 Family Pack at participating retailers and online at the Microsoft Store. This is your chance to get up to three PCs running Windows 7 Home Premium for the low price of $149.99 ERP. But act fast—Family Pack is only available while supplies last. For those of you living outside of the U.S., Family Pack will be available for purchase on or after Oct. 22. A list of participating countries can be found at the bottom of this post."

You better rush out and get your Windows 7 Family Pack before they run out! These extremely rare packages were raised in a special Microsoft farm. Every day, they are fed a generous diet of organic bits and bytes, and allowed to roam freely on a digital landscape. When the upgrades are all grown up they fit themselves onto a DVD and are lovingly packaged and distributed to various retailers with the promise of making your computing experience a joy to behold. I have had the pleasure of playing with Windows 7 and my little "Windy" is really fun to interact with. It knows how to go online and show me the wonders of the Internet and is even smart enough to play games with me. It even plays nicely with some of my less fortunate computers that house "XP" and "Vista". At $149.99 for a three-pack, the Family Pack is a great deal that I am sure you will not regret!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Is IE9 Doomed Before It's Even Released?

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 01:00 PM

"It may be Microsoft's biggest blunder since the brown Zune. Only Microsoft can shoot itself in the foot in such a silly way and it leaves us scratching our heads: What exactly are they thinking? IE9 will not run on Windows XP, has problems on Vista and now we learn that it will only run on Windows 7 with SP1 installed."

This is an interesting move by Microsoft if they do release IE9 with such strict criteria. With so many browsers out there, with so many different versions of Windows, not to mention other operating systems, can Microsoft really expect to get a large market share if it's latest version only works on Win 7 SP1? I think this could be a bad move and may well cost Microsoft the browser war. I see it as Microsoft trying to encourage people to upgrade if they want to use the new version, but surely they must know, people upgrade because they want to and because something is worth upgrading for, not because they are coerced. I have switched products many times because an app will only work on certain versions of software, and I suspect many people out there will feel the same way about this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Toms Hardware 20 Must Have Windows 7 Utilities

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 05:00 PM

"Released in September 2009, Microsoft's aim with Security Essentials (MSE) was to provide customers a means to improve Windows security without draining their pockets. While most consumers don't associate Microsoft with anti-virus solutions, it was only a matter of time before the company took that extra step in integrating anti-virus capabilities into the Windows operating system."

Toms Hardware have produced a list of what they consider to be their top 20 must have utilities for Windows 7. First on the list is Microsoft Security Essentials which I agree is definitely a must have and Daemon Tools, Gimp and 7-Zip are also tools on the list that I have. Go check it out and see how many you have already and how many you maybe didn't know about but may help you.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Today is the Last Day for Windows Anytime Upgrade

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 06:30 AM

"Saturday, July 3 is the last day Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU) can be used in the U.S. for upgrading Windows 7 on a new PC. WAU gives purchasers of PCs the opportunity to upgrade their version of Windows 7 to a more feature rich edition. This can be done through retail channels, but WAU offers an extra discount."

If you are in the US, today is your last shot. So before you start celebrating the long holiday weekend do yourself a favor and cure any of your computers of Windows 7 Starter.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Computex Windows 7 Tablet Roundup

Posted by Jon Childs in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

"If you've been reading our coverage for the past few days, you know that Intel and Microsoft didn't show up in Taipei empty handed -- both of their booths are incredibly well stocked with new slates. Most of them, which range from early prototypes to quite functional, have 10-inch displays, run Windows 7 Premium and pack Intel Atom Z or N series processors -- in essence they're very much netbooks sans the keyboard panel. There are way too many of them to count, but don't you worry, we've rounded up some details and shots of the most appealing ones on display here at the show."

Engadget has a nice roundup of a bunch of Windows 7 tablets they saw at Computex. They summed it up nicely by saying that they were all pretty much netbooks without a keyboard. Nothing I see here makes me want to give up my keyboard, but I guess we will have to wait and see how finger friendly these companies can make their devices. Slow processors with limited memory and non standard GUIs do not seem like a recipe for taking market share away from the iPad.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Windows 7 On 10% of PC's Worldwide

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 01:00 PM;col1

"Just six months after its release, Windows 7 is now installed on one in 10 of the world's PCs, Microsoft has confirmed. The operating system was launched on 22 October 2009 and has gone on to sell more than 100 million licences - making it the fastest-selling Windows OS in history according to Microsoft."

Pretty impressive, I've seen a lot of IT departments implement this upgrade much faster than they normally put in OS upgrades. I upgraded my Vista machine the first week Windows 7 came out. But, I still have 3 portables running XP. I'd bet there would have been even higher penetration and faster adoption if a better upgrade path had been offered for netbooks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Microsoft Shares Multitouch Goodness

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Until today, the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 was only available for OEMs to put on new Windows 7 PCs capable of Windows Touch. Due to feedback and requests from both partners and customers, we are releasing the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 for anyone with Windows Touch capable devices to download."

Most people who buy pre-packaged computers will not benefit from this but it is nice to see the rest of us get to play with the neat programs Microsoft has developed. I am guessing that they are trying to spur more attention to this side of Windows 7. Basically a "Look here! I am cool and hip too!" kind of statement. It is a nice gesture though, and it might also encourage more developers to work on programs that integrate multitouch.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And You Thought Things Were Tiny Enough on Netbooks

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"Most netbooks have the same display resolution. And while it’s generally good enough for viewing most web pages, videos, and other apps, every now and again you’re likely to run into an application that requires a higher resolution screen to run. Fortunately, there’s a way to trick your netbook into thinking it has a higher resolution display — assuming you’re running Windows 7."

Over the years, I have seen variations on this when it comes to really small devices with limited resolution. The most prominent use of scaling technology that I can remember is OQO, who used some driver magic to make their 800x480 screen emulate much larger resolutions. This just makes what you are trying to see that much smaller, meaning you will be zooming a lot more frequently but for those of you who want to pack in as much data as possible onto the screen, it is an option. What is not mentioned is whether this same hack can be applied to other computers. It would be interesting to see just how far you could push a 2560x1600 monitor...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mysterious "Server Execution Failed" Errors When Playing Video Files

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 12:00 PM

Don't you just hate it when you either have a computer problem that's so unique, you can't find any mention of it in Google, or if you do find it, the "solutions" are so generic and vague they're all useless? I've been seeing the above error for months when using Windows Media Player 12 on Windows 7 to open and play video files. I've found other people complaining about the same problem, but the solutions presented don't apply to me (I don't run AV software on any of my computers). The basic problem is that: I'll double-click on a video file - and it can be any format, at any resolution - and Windows Media Player 12 will start to play the file. The file will play, and I'll click on the "X" to close the program. I'll double click on another video file, and every now and then, I'll stare at the spinning blue circle for 15 to 30 seconds, then I'll get the above error. It seems to happen on every computer I have, and I'm not sure if it's related to third party software - I don't tend to run stock Windows 7 for very long before I start to load my favourite applications. Any other Windows 7 users seeing this problem and know of a fix?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

View Your RAW Photos as Thumbnails With FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 AM

"Windows Vista introduced a modern and extensible imaging framework called Windows Imaging Component (WIC). The operating system comes with built-in support for several common image formats including jpeg, bmp, png, gif, tiff and HD Photo. WIC makes it possible for 3rd parties to add first-class support for image formats to Windows, complete with thumbnails in Explorer, preview and slideshow support in Photo Gallery / Photo Viewer and metadata search integration. The FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack provides such platform support for additional formats and turns Windows Explorer into a raw viewer, through read-only image decoders, simultaneously available in both 32 and 64-bit flavor for Win7, Vista and XP SP3. The codec pack contains 32-bit and 64-bit NEF and 64-bit CR2 codecs, along with 64-bit DNG and a lot more!"

If you've ever had the frustration of looking at a folder full of raw photos and seeing no thumbnail preview, this is your solution. This amazing codec pack is donationware - meaning if you use it, you're encouraged to donate a few bucks to the author - and for me, it's definitely worth the donation I just made this morning. I work with raw files inside Lightroom for processing, but often I'll want to jump into a folder and see the raw images there, and with Windows 7 lacking support for raw files, this tool fills the gap perfectly. Definitely worth checking out!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Netbooks Need Optimization Love

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"With cheap licenses available in family packs and academic discounts, and XP installs increasingly decrepit, ugly, and vulnerable to malware, lots of Windows 7 upgrades are going to happen. However, a quick install from a USB DVD-ROM or thumb drive won't let users get the most out of a netbook. As with the Hindu Saptapadi wedding vows, there are seven steps to optimizing your netbook for maximum Windows 7 performance."

Most of us will probably be well aware of these tweaks. While Ars suggests the use of Chrome, for me, consistency makes the choice Firefox for me. But, to make full use of limited screen space, I tap into the whole customize toolbar thing such that I only use two rows, the same as Chrome; one for the menu and navigation and another for tabs. Compacting things any further makes things a little too squishy. I really am surprised they do not mention dimming the screen though, as that does tend to be one of the biggest power suckers of them all. The only other major tweak I would do is a regular defrag with the optimization of files to speed things along. Of course, everyone is bound to have their own suggestions on how to improve the netbook experience but so far, the most common thing I see is people recommending Chrome.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Problems with Windows 7 Already? I Can Fix That!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM,2504.html

"The vast array of hardware, drivers, and applications available for Windows necessarily means that issues will inevitably crop up. The good news: Windows 7 gives you a robust set of tools to track down problems you encounter. We’ll take a look at a number of those tools, and how they can help you in your problem solving."

Most IT techs worth their electrons already have a software toolkit that allows them to peek into the innards of a computer like an airport full body scanner. However, sometimes you forget your toolkit, or the problem you have is elusive. A lot of effort was put into Windows 7, including their troubleshooting tools. Tom's Hardware runs through a good portion of them, presenting some of which have been around longer than Windows 7, and some tricks which are new. If only it were good enough to tell you exactly what the problem was right away and offer a fix. Until then, there will always be a market for the magicians of tech. Just be forewarned, should you ever decide to learn the arcane arts, be prepared for the never ending flood of calls for help.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Interesting Opinion Column on Microsoft's 2009 Successes

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 05:00 AM

"The year 2009 was pretty good to Microsoft, even as the weak economy ravaged sales. Microsoft actually did a few things right. The did-wrong list will come later today.... For now, I present the list of 10 things Microsoft did right in 2009 -- in no order of importance. They're all important. Microsoft: 1. Flawlessly launched Windows 7...."

Read the article to see whether you agree with Joe Wilcox on these 10 items or not. As a fan of Windows 7, I'm not surprised to see it at the head of the list. Bing also seems to make sense, and Silverlight and PCs with less bloatware are probably worthy of applause. However, I have mixed feelings about Security Essentials, although that is primarily a carryover of the "Microsoft is gobbling up all the small guys" mentality. And I cannot help but wonder about the Microsoft retail stores, in light of the difficulty other computer / technology stores have had: is two stores enough to really improve sales? If not, can even Microsoft afford to launch and maintain a nationwide chain?

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