Friday, November 30, 2007

Why your registry doesn’t need cleaning "A long time ago, in a land forgotten by time (before Microsoft Windows 95), Windows computers and their programs had .ini (configuration) files that stored information. These files determined how a program ran, its environment, and a host of other things. Then the Windows Registry came onto the scene, with each key in the registry being similar to a bracketed heading in the old .ini file and values similar to entries under the .ini headings. However, registry keys can have nested subkeys with string or binary data that .ini files don’t support. Does the registry periodically need cleaning? Let’s take a look."

This is a good article on why you should not worry about cleaning your registry with those tools that promise to optimize it. I have used a few of those 'registry cleaning tools', and they have done nothing to improve performance of my computer or save disk space.

These program have disabled my applications and computer. So I really don't recommend any application that promises to make my computer run faster by optimizing the registry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Software: De-junking your New PC (tip 1)

If you buy a new computer from Dell, HP, eMachines, etc., its probably going to come full of useless trial programs that try to entice you to spend money to get the full version of it. These demo programs have become lovingly nicknamed 'crapware'. I hate the nickname of the software, but I think its appropriate.

I recently bought a new consumer PC, and I could not believe all useless software that came pre-installed. When you see all this stuff on your new system you have two choices, one leave it alone, or two remove the useless programs from your computer.

For me, the first thing I want to do is purge it from my system once and for all. To begin this 'decrapifying' process, follow the instructions below:
  • Open the Control Panel from under the Start menu and select 'Programs and Features' (in Windows Vista) or 'Add/Remove Programs' (in Windows XP).
  • Search through the names of the installed programs, and uninstall the ones you know for sure that your want to remove.
    • Note: Use caution, and don't indiscriminately remove everything that you see. For example, there might be a DVD player, CD/DVD burning software that you may need to use later. Also if you don't know what it is, you might want to investigate it first before removing.
  • After you finish the first round of uninstalling programs, go under the Start menu and see if there are any others that you want to remove.
  • You should also open Internet Explorer, and see if they have any toolbars or add-ons that you want to remove as well. Some of these can only be removed from the uninstall control panel.
Some programs may not be listed in the uninstall control panel, and to remove them you might have go to that program's folder under the Start menu to see if there is an uninstall utility there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Software: e-Sword (Free Bible Study Program)

Are you looking for a bible program for your computer? Check out e-Sword, it's a great way to study the Bible, you can download several different translations of the bible including several different languages.

The program is free (but donations are requested), and most of the bible translations are free. Although some translation and research text do cost money, generally because they're still copyrighted material.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Software: Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 1 Released

Firefox 3 Beta 1 has been released as a developer preview. This is Mozilla's next generation Firefox browser and is being made available for testing purposes only.

Some of the new features are:
  • Supports the new Gecko 1.9 Web rendering engine
  • Several new/updated security features including: SSL, malware and phishing protection.
  • Several new/updated usability features including: password and file management, and a few user interface enhancements.
  • See the release notes for more information

Friday, November 23, 2007

What is the big deal about 802.11n? reports: "802.11n is being touted as the networking standard that will unwire the network world. Most people are not convinced, yet curious to see how one defends such a claim. The 802.11n standard has two top-level mandates (unwiring the world not being one of them): Achieve higher data rates and retain backward compatibility with legacy 802.11a/b/g devices. The significance of requiring backward compatibility shouldn’t be taken lightly since it complicates the development process exponentially. Yet the 802.11n group has come up with a soon-to-be-ratified standard that meets both objectives."

This is probably the best article that I have read to date on the 802.11n standard. It appears to be most complex and featured pack of all the 802.11 specifications released so far.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

DIY Project: Caffeine Boost Your WIFI

Caffeine Boost Your WIFI - The most amazing bloopers are here

This seems like a good idea, but I have to admit I have not tried it. It doesn't seem like it could hurt your equipment if you want to try it. Although, watch out for any sharp edges that you might create cutting the can.

Watch the video to learn more.

For more information, here is a article that I wrote a while back on Wi-Fi Antenna resources.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Software: Pidgin (Multiservice Chat Client)

Are you tired of all those proprietary chat instant message clients, like Yahoo, AOL, ICQ, etc. Check out a program called Pidgin (formerly known as GAIM), its a free open source multi-platform multiservice instant message chat client. It allows you to communicate across all the major chat networks to stay in contact with all your friends and family.

One of the cool feature of Pidgin is that you can add plug-ins to do what you want. And since its multi-platform it runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Windows Vista: Improving Wireless Connectivity

Are you having problems connecting to a wireless network with your Windows Vista computer? This may be caused by the fact that your Wireless Access Point (WAP) doesn't supports Vista's wireless auto-tuning feature. To fix the problem you have two options:
  • If you own the WAP, you can try to upgrade its firmware to the latest version. You can generally find these updates on the device manufacture support site.
  • If upgrading the firmware on the WAP is not an option, then you can try to disable Vista's wireless auto-tuning feature. To turn off this feature follow the steps below:
    • Open the 'Command Prompt' in the Accessories menu with administrative privileges (generally this can be accomplished by right-clicking the icon and selecting 'Run As Administrator'. This can also be done by typing "CMD" in the Search field under the Start menu and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter. Then select Continue in the User Account Control dialog box.)
    • In the Command Prompt type: "netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=disable" then press the Enter key. You should see a response that says 'Ok.'
You will have to restart your computer to apply the change.

Note: To reverse this change, in the Command Prompt type: "netsh int tcp set global autotuninglevel=normal" then press the Enter key. You should see a response that says 'Ok.'

Monday, November 19, 2007

Microsoft's OneCare 2.0 Adds Security, Convenience

PC Magazine reports: "Microsoft on Thursday released version 2.0 of their Windows Live OneCare security and PC performance suite, enhancing a number of current features and adding a few brand-new twists. Current OneCare subscribers will receive the update effortlessly through the product's normal automatic updates feature, Microsoft said. Microsoft's OneCare is priced at $49.95/year for three licenses; a 90-day trial is available at the OneCare Web site."

Read the article for the complete review.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

10 Things You Should Know About Quad-Core Processors

eWeek reports: "In November 2006, Intel introduced the first quad-core microprocessors for the volume x86 market. The quad-core chips were designed to offer better performance compared with the previous generation of single- and dual-core processors. A little less than a year later, Advanced Micro Devices brought its quad-core Opteron to the market, showing that all four cores could be placed on a single piece of silicon. While chipmakers figure out their next chip moves, here are 10 things you should know about quad-core processors."

You might have heard about Quad-Core Processors, but how much do you really know about them? There are some surprising facts about these processors in this slide show from eWeek.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Security: Microsoft Patch Tuesday (November)

The second Tuesday of the month has passed again, which means that Microsoft just published a new round of security fixes for Windows and it's applications. This date is meant to be a predictable date so that individuals or companies only have to patch their desktop computers and servers once a month.

This month there are two new patches altogether. One marked as critical (for the OS), one marked as important (for the OS).

If you have 'Automatic Updates' enabled your computer will download these updates for you in the background. Then when you shutdown your system these patches will be applied to your system. If you leave your computer on overnight they will automatically be installed and your system will be rebooted if necessary.

Warning: If you leave your computer on at night make sure you save all your work or you run the risk of losing it if your system has to be rebooted.

Enabling Automatic Updates
If you don't have 'Automatic Updates' enabled on your computer, I would suggest that you turn it on as soon as possible. If you don't want to enable this feature, you can always update your computer by visiting the Windows Update site and downloading and installing the patches manually.

To enable Automatic Updates (Windows XP):
  • From the Start menu, select the Control Panel folder.
  • Double-click the System applet in the control panel folder.
  • Click the 'Automatic Updates' tab.
  • Check the 'Automatic (recommended)' option. (optional: if you don't like this feature, you can set it to: 'download but not install the update', 'just notify you', or 'disable this feature altogether' [not recommended])
  • Press the OK button when done.
To enable Automatic Updates (Windows Vista):
  • From the Start menu, select 'All Programs' then 'Windows Update'
  • In the left pane, click the 'Change settings' link.
  • Check the 'Install updates automatically (recommended)' option. (optional: if you don't like this feature, you can set it to: 'Download updates but let me choose whether to install them', 'Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them', or 'Never check for updates' [not recommended])
  • Press the OK button when done.

Note: For the latest Microsoft Security Bulletins, check out this site.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Software: Miro goes 1.0

Miro (formerly called 'Democracy Player') is a free application that turns your computer into an internet video player. The player is available for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Miro lets you subscribe and download audio and video podcasts that are available on the net. It also supports full-screen mode, plays several popular video formats, and downloads files via BitTorrent.

The Windows system requirements for running the software are: Windows XP, 128MB of RAM.

If you want to learn more about Miro, watch the following screencast.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Article: Narrow Vista’s Search results with the grouping, filtering, and stacking features

Windows Vista contains three special features that can help you to quickly narrow down your Search results to find what your looking for. In this article from Windows Vista Report, the author Greg Shultz shows you how to use Vista's grouping, filtering, and stacking features when searching for files.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Software: Microsoft Unleashes Windows Live Software

PC Magazine reports: "Microsoft has unleashed a bundled download of its installed desktop Live software: Mail, Photo Gallery, Writer, and OneCare Family Safety. Also included is a slightly redesigned version 8.5 of Messenger, which intimately ties in with the rest of the suite; for example, starting up when you run Mail. ... The new software all requires at least Windows XP SP2, and you'll need a Windows Live ID—formerly called .NET Passport—if you want access to all their functionality."

Check out the latest free software from Microsoft for Windows (which includes: Mail, Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer, Toolbar, and Family Safety from OneCare). To download the software, go to

Monday, November 05, 2007

Windows Vista: Disaabling Sidebar

The Windows Vista Sidebar is set to startup automatically by default. Personally I think that most people like this feature, but I also know people who don't like it. So for those of you who want to disable it, follow the instructions below to turn it off.
  • Right-click the Windows Sidebar icon in the Notification Area (in the lower right corner), then select Properties
  • Uncheck the 'Start Sidebar when Windows starts' checkbox, press the OK button.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Windows Vista: New Daylight Saving Time Standard

As you probably know the move from Daylight Saving Time (DST) back to Standard Time generally happens on the last Sunday in October. Although, from now on it will be the first Sunday in November.

Your computer and older electronics that are designed to automatically handle DST using the older standard might have already set themselves back and an hour last Sunday morning. This means you will have to reset them twice.

This is all part of the Energy Conservation Act of 2005, which is designed to save energy (there is an estimated savings of about 1% because of the change). Its also worth noting that the 'spring forward' part of the DST also gets changed next year to March 9th.

To find out how your Microsoft operating system or applications might be effected by the new DST, go to the following web site. There is a web based questionnaire, that will direct you right updates for your software.