Monday, December 30, 2013

Networking: 802.11 WiFi Standards (Updated)

Are you confused by all the 802.11 WiFi "alphabet soup of letter name" standards, such as 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, etc? Currently 802.11n  is the most popular standard, and its backwards compatible with 802.11b, and 802.11g.

Here is a brief breakdown of the different 802.11 standards; including: speed, frequency, and the date it was ratified as a standard:
  • 802.11: up to 2Mbps, uses the 2.4GHz frequency (Finalized: 1997)
  • 802.11b: up to 11Mbps, uses the 2.4GHz frequency (Finalized: 7/1999)
  • 802.11a: up to 54Mbps, uses the 5GHz frequency (Finalized: 7/1999)
  • 802.11g: up to 54Mbps, uses the 2.4GHz frequency (Finalized: 6/2003)
  • 802.11n: up to 150Mbps+, uses the 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequency (Finalized: 10/2009)
    • Utilizes MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), uses multiple transmitters and receivers antennas to allow for increased data throughput.
    • Some Wi-Fi cards and routers can support speeds of 300Mbps when utilizing a feature called 'channel bonding' (if its supported in the networking equipment) and not running into interference from other nearby wireless networks.
  • 802.11ac: up to 866Mbps+, uses the 5GHz frequency (Still in draft)
For more information see the following Wikipedia article.

From: Wikipedia
  • All 802.11 Wi-Fi hotspots only can run as fast as the slowest device on the network.  For example, if you have a 802.11n wireless network with 5 people communicating at 150Mbps. Then if someone brings 802.11b device on the network the Wireless Access Point will slow down to 11Mbps to support the slower device. 
  • 2.4GHz equipment can incur interference from microwave ovens, cordless phones, and other appliances using the same radio signal frequency range.
  • The higher frequency 5GHz equipment signals has more difficulty penetrating walls and other obstructions.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Windows 8: TCP/IP Addressing (Static and Dynamic)

In Windows, you can have one of two types of IP addresses: dynamic or static. Dynamic IP addresses are temporarily assigned to a network device when their requested, and is generally done during the boot process. The network service that assigns dynamic IP addresses is known as DHCP. While static IP addresses have to be manually assigned to a device by a systems administrator, and are meant to be changed infrequently.

Dynamic IP addresses are the most common method of assigning an IP address to a network based device (such as a computer, printer, etc) because it reduces the network administration overhead. Today's office and work force are in a constant state of flux. People with mobile devices (such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops) will move from location to location, even desktop users can get moved around within a company on a semi-regular basis.
Note: If a Windows client makes a DHCP request for an IP address and doesn't get a reply in a timely manor, then it will switch to using Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA). APIPA is a private IP address range ( to that allows devices on a network using this address range to communicate with themselves. To configure this service, click on the Alternate Configuration tab in the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) dialog.
If all devices used a static IP address, it would cause a network administration nightmare, they would all have to be changed every time a device was moved.  Most static IP addresses are assigned to servers or network based devices like routers or DNS servers. These devices need a static IP address because other devices on the network depend on knowing how to contact them.

To configure the TCP/IP addressing (dynamic or static) in Windows, follow the instructions below:
  • From the Start screen, type Network and click Settings on the right.  Click the Network and Sharing Center icon.  In the left pane, click the Change adapter settings link.
  • Right-click the active network connection (note: this selection can change between systems depending on the equipment that is installed), and select Properties.
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) [or Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) depending on how your network is configured] and the press the Properties button.
From here you can select one of two options, Obtain an IP address automatically (dynamic) or Use the following IP address (static). If you're using a static IP address you need to know the following information: unique IP address, subnet mask for the network, IP address of the default gateway, and the IP addresses of the primary and secondary DNS servers. When you're done press the OK button twice.

Networking tips:

  • To find the TCP/IP address of the local computer, from the command prompt type: IPCONFIG /ALL.
  • To request a new DHCP address, from an administrator command prompt type: IPCONFIG /RELEASE and then type: IPCONFIG /RENEW 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Windows 8: File Path Name Tricks

Some windows commands require that you use the full path name of a file, which can be quite long depending on how deep it's in a folder structure.

Below are some tricks to avoid typing this information:
  • Hold down the Shift while right-clicking the file or folder and select Copy as path.  This will copy the objects path to the clipboard.
  • Drag and drop the file from the desktop or File Explorer into the command prompt window, or the Run... command (WinKey + R) Open field.  From here you can select the text and copy it to the clipboard.
Bonus tip: To open a command prompt at a specific folder in the folder structure, just right-click it and select Open command window here in the pop-up context menu.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Windows 8: File Explorer Keyboard Shortcuts

Most of us use Window's built-in File Explorer application (formerly known as the Windows Explorer) to manage files, folders and drives that are accessible by the local computer.

If you prefer using the keyboard to control an application, here are some of the better keyboard shortcuts to know for the File Explorer.
  • Ctrl + F: Open up the search pane. 
    • Build a complex search query using the controls in the pane to find specific files.
  • Alt + Up Arrow (or backspace): Go up a folder.
  • Alt + Right Arrow: Go forward (takes you back into your folder browsing history)
  • Alt + Left Arrow: Go back (takes you back into your folder browsing history)
  • Alt + D: Focus the address bar and select the current path.
  • Alt + P: Shows the Preview pane
  • Alt + Shift + P: Shows the Details pane
  • Alt + Enter: Properties of the selected file
  • Ctrl + Mouse wheel: changes the folder view type.
  • Ctrl + Shift + N: Creates a new folder at the current location
  • Ctrl + F1: Opens or closes the ribbon at the top of the window 
  • F4: Opens dropdown menu in the address bar.
  • F11: Puts the File Explorer into full-screen mode.
Note: The Windows File Explore tracks the folder browsing history, similar to the way Internet Explorer's tracks your browsing history. Every folder or network path you visit is remembered, you can then use the Alt+Left or Right arrow to move through the folder location history that were previously visited.

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Windows 8: Managing the Send To Menu

    The Send To menu is a very useful context menu. This feature gives you the ability to right-click on any file and perform a specific action, such as sending a file to the desktop or another location. You can also send a file to a blank e-mail, so that it can be mailed to a friend. The options are not limitless, but they're pretty extensive.

    To access the Send To menu, do the following:
    • From the Run... command (WinKey + R) Open field or the File Explorer address bar type %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo and press the Enter key.
    • From here you can create new folders, shortcuts to applications (such as Notepad), and more. If you create a shortcut to an application, make sure that it can handle those file types you want to send it.
    If you ever want to remove some items from the Send To menu, just open up the folder and delete the shortcuts you don't want.

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Software: Sysinternals Free Utilities

    Personally I am not a huge fan of using 3rd party utilities for performing most types of systems diagnostics. I like to rely on the OS's built-in tools as much as possible.  Primarily I don't want to be reliant on a utility that I might not have with me at the time or it requires some type of installation on a customer's system.

    Although when I do have to rely on external utilities, one of the first sites I use is Sysinternals ( These are some of the better diagnostic and troubleshooting utilities available for Windows. Also, Mark Russinovich and his team are continuously updating the existing tools and creating new ones.

    Besides being free and powerful tools, all (or most) of these utilities don't require that they be installed (this is known as being a 'portable application' because it can be moved between systems without installing it).

    Sysinternals Suite
    The tools on the site can be downloaded individually, or you can download the Sysinternals Suite which contains the latest versions of all the utilities in one package.  As of the writing of this article, below is a current list of the programs that come included within the suite (see below).    

    Note: Text above is from the following page.

    Sysinternals Live
    The site offers a feature called 'Sysinternals Live' that provides quick access to the latest versions of all their free tools. You can download any of the utilities without having to unzip them. All you have to do is remember the following URL to download them
    Tip: You can also attach like any other network mounted drive, and run the utilities directly from the Internet.
      • Open a command prompt (type CMD in the search field under the Start menu)
      • Type: net use * \\\tools\
      • You will see a message like "Drive Z: is now connected to \\\tools\"
      • Type drive letter and press return (i.e.: type Z: then press the Enter key)
      • Now type DIR and you will see all the utilities, or open the Windows Explorer and goto the Z: drive (or whatever drive letter the NET USE command gives you).

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Windows 8: Installing Hyper-V

    Hyper-V is Microsoft's virtual machine (VM) hyper-visor technology.  If you're not sure what a VM is, its virtual hardware composed of software that runs inside of a computer.

    Windows 7 had a similar feature called "XP Mode" which utilized the Virtual PC technology.  Although, the Virtual PC lacks several of the more advanced features of Hyper-V.

    Hyper-V only used to be available on the Windows Server 2008 platform (and higher).  Microsoft has incorporated Hyper-V technology into Windows 8.  Although, this option is only available in the 64-bit versions of Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise editions of the OS.
    • If you're running Windows 8 Standard Edition (or Windows 7), then you will need to use a 3rd party VM technology like: VirtualBox (or another application). 
    • There are differences between the Hyper-V Client (Windows 8), and Hyper-V Server (Windows Server 2012).
    To utilize this feature the computer needs to have enough RAM (minimum 4GB of RAM), storage and a fast CPU to support this feature.  The computer's CPU and motherboard also need to support the VM extensions (e.g. Intel Virtualization Technology [VTx] or AMD-V) and it must be enabled in the BIOS (check with your Motherboard manufacture's web site for more information).

    • From the Start Screen, type Windows Features, click on the Settings button and click on Turn Windows Features on or off.
    • In the Windows Features dialog display, check the Hyper-V option, and then press the OK button.  Note: If the Hyper-V Platform is grayed out the 64-bit version of the OS is not installed.

    • To enable Hyper-V using the administrator command prompt, type: Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Hyper-V -All
    • To enable Hyper-V using Windows PowerShell, type: enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Hyper-V -All 
    After the Hyper-V installation is completed, the computer will need to be restarted.  To create, delete or manage the VMs, you will need to use the Hyper-V Management console.  To access the console from the Start screen, type Hyper-V and then click the Hyper-V Manager.

    Monday, November 04, 2013

    Software: FileZilla (FTP Client)

    If you do any development (such as web site design) on the Internet or systems administration, then you need a FTP client to upload or download files from remote computers and services.  FileZilla is a free open source cross-platform FTP client with a graphical user interface (note: there is also a FTP server option available).

    Below is a brief list of some of its features:

    • FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)
    • Supports resume and transfer of large files > 4GB
    • Powerful Site Manager and transfer queue.
    • and more.
    To download the program or get more information, visit the FileZilla web site.

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    Windows 8: Taking Ownership of a Folder

    When a user creates a file or folder in Windows, they automatically become the owner of that resource. As the owner, they are able to set and change security permissions to the object.

    If you want to change the permissions on a resource that you do not own, you must be assigned the Full Control permission. If you don't have the Full Control permission, you must first take ownership of the resource and then you can proceed with assigning yourself the correct permissions.

    You can take ownership of a folder in Windows using the steps that are listed below.
    • Log on to the computer with an account that has administrator permissions, and open the File Explorer.
    • Right-click the file or folder that you want to change ownership permissions on then select Properties, and then click on the Security tab.
    • Press the Advanced button.
    • Click the Owner link towards the top left of the dialog.
      • The current owner of the resource will be listed.
    • In the select user or group dialog select the user that needs ownership assigned to them.
    • Press the OK button twice.
    Now that the new user has ownership of the object they must be assigned the Full Control permission to change the security permissions on the file or folder. 

    Monday, October 21, 2013

    Windows 8: Sticky Notes and Keyboard Shortcuts

    In Windows 7 a new feature was added called Sticky Notes that for allows the creation of little virtual notes on the monitor. To activate this feature, open the Start screen, and type: Sticky Notes then click on the icon to activate it.

    You can move the Sticky Notes around by moving them with their title bar at the top of each note.  You can delete them by pressing the "X" button, or create a new note by pressing the "+" button in the title bar.

    One cool feature of the Sticky Notes is the rich text formatting shortcuts that are available. All you have to do is select the text, and use the keyboard shortcuts below:
    • Ctrl + L: Left aligns the text
    • Ctrl + E: Center aligns the text
    • Ctrl + R: Right aligns the text
    • Ctrl + B: Bold the text
    • Ctrl + I: Italicizes the text
    • Ctrl + U: Underlines the text
    • Ctrl + T: Strike Through the text
    • Ctrl + Shift + A: Capitalizes all characters
    • Ctrl + Shift + L: Turns text into list (press multiple times to change the bullet style)
    • Ctrl + Shift + < (less then sign): Decreases the font size
    • Ctrl + Shift + > (greater then sign): Increases the font size
    • Ctrl + = (equal sign): Subscripts the text
    • Ctrl + Shift + = (equal sign): Superscript the text
    • Ctrl + 1: Sets single line spacing
    • Ctrl + 2: Sets double line spacing
    • Ctrl + 5: Sets line spacing to 1.5
    • Ctrl + N: Creates a new sticky note
    • Ctrl + D: Deletes a sticky note

    Additional Tips/Notes:  
    • To change the color of the Sticky Note, right-click the note and select a new color from the pop-up menu.
    • All Sticky Note are able to re-sized to be smaller or larger.
    • All Sticky Notes are stored in a file called %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Sticky Notes\StickyNotes.snt

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    Video: How to Buy High Speed RAM

    This video has some great advice on how to buy RAM.  It gets a little technical, but I think its also very understandable.

    Video Description: "High speed memory has been a staple for enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their systems for YEARS, but in this investigation we take a look at how much of a difference it actually makes to performance."

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Windows 8: Using and Creating Desktop Toolbars

    Windows 8 desktop mode still provides Toolbar support in the Taskbar. This feature allows adding additional functionality to the taskbar by adding any of the four built-in toolbars or allowing for the creation of a custom one.

    To enable or disable the toolbar functionality, use the context menu in the taskbar.

    • Right-click the taskbar, and select Toolbars in the pop-up menu.  From here you can select one of the built-in toolbars, or create a custom one based on links in a folder.
    • Below is a list of the built-in toolbars: 
      • Address: Use this toolbar to open up URLs, or run commands (such as CMD.EXE) from the taskbar.  Works similar to the Run... command (WinKey + R).
      • Links: Provides quick access to the Internet Explorer Favorites (e.g. bookmarks).
      • Touch keyboard: Provides access to the Windows on-screen keyboard.
      • Desktop: Provides quick access to shortcuts, folders and files on the desktop.

    To create a custom toolbar:
    • Right-click the taskbar, and select Toolbars > New toolbar... in the pop-up menu.  
    • When the file dialog appears, select a folder that contains shortcuts, documents, applications, or even other folders that you want to access via this feature.
    • Press the Select Folder button.
    The new toolbar will be available in the right-hand part of the taskbar.  To disable a built-in toolbar, or to delete a custom one, all you have to do is uncheck it in the Toolbars pop-up menu.

    Wednesday, October 09, 2013

    Video: Digital Security Life Hacks

    Video Description: "Have you ever had an account compromised or your information stolen? It's National Cyber Security Awareness Month and as a public service to you, here are some tips to help protect yourself online and offline. "

    Monday, October 07, 2013

    Software:7-Zip (Archive/Compression Utility)

    7-Zip is a free open source file archive and compression utility for the Windows. It can be operated from the command line program or via its graphical user interface.

    Below is a brief list of some of its features:
    • Supported formats: Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM.Unpacking only: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z.
    • Supports AES-256 encryption in the 7z and ZIP formats.
    • The 7z format supports a self-extracting capability.
    • and more
    To download the program or get more information, visit the 7-Zip web site.

    Wednesday, October 02, 2013

    Game: Party like 1995 with the Browser Version of Hover...

    Microsoft has released a browser version of a 1995 game it created called Hover.  Its not GTA, but it will remind you of driving a bumper car through a maze trying to collect flags before your opponent.  The real purpose of this game is to showcase the power of Internet Explorer 11 (it also runs in other browsers).

    To play the game, go to:

    Monday, September 30, 2013

    Windows 8: Stupid PC Tricks - Lock Screen Shortcut

    Note: "Stupid PC Tricks" are a series of user tips that I think are interesting, but unfortunately they're not all that useful.
    In any organization its important to lock your computer when you leave it, this will prevent someone from abusing your network security access.  By pressing the WinKey + L on the keyboard you can lock the computer screen.  With this tip you can create a shortcut icon that does the same thing by clicking on it.

    • Create a new shortcut (right-click the desktop, select New > Shortcut)
    • In the Type the location of the item field, type: rundll32.exe user32.dll LockWorkStation, and then press the Next button.
    • In the Type the name of the shortcut field, type: Windows Switcher, and then press the Finish button.

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Microsoft Announces the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

    Today Microsoft announced the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, it's new Window 8.1.tablet.  The new Surface 2 is based on Windows 8 RT, and Surface Pro 2 based on Windows 8 Professional.

    New features of the devices include:
    • A new fingerprint resistant magnesium-based case.
    • Faster processor:
      • Surface 2: 1.7 GHz quad-core Tegra 4 ARM chip. (w/ 2GB of RAM)
        • Internal storage: From 32GB or 64GB configurations.
      • Surface Pro 2:  1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 Haswell processor. (w/ 4-8GB of RAM)
        • Internal storage: From 64GB to 512GB configurations.
    • USB 3.0 port, and Bluetooth 4.
    • Surface 2 has a 3.5MP front-facing camera, and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera.  While the Surface Pro 2 only has a 720P front-facing camera.
    • High resolution 1080P display (1920×1080)
    • Thinner and lighter case.
      • Surface 2: 0.35 inches thick, and weights under 1.5 pounds
      • Surface Pro 2: 0.53 inches thick, and weights under 2 pounds
    • Enhanced kickstand (2 positions, 20 and 40 degrees for better viewing)
    Both Surface devices will be available for pre-order starting September 24, 2013, and will be available for purchase on October 22, 2013 (in select markets). Visit to learn more. 

    New Accessories:
    • The Surface Remix Project, which is a new purpose-built music kit that attaches on to the Surface 2, Surface Pro, and Surface Pro 2 and works with a new music remix app. 
    • New keyboard covers (i.e. the Touch, Type and Power Cover 2) with back-lit keys and extended battery (extends usage up to 10 hours).  Features vary between the different products
    • New docking station.
    • New active pen.

    More information: 

    Windows 8: Map Folders To Drive Letters

    If you regularly work with specific folders, and are tired of typing their path (e.g. C:\Windows\System32\Drivers or anything else) its possible to assign it a drive letter.  There's an old DOS command called SUBST (example: SUBST X: C:\{pathname}\foldername}) that can associate a drive letter with a specific folder path.

    For example, to assign T: to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers, at the command prompt type SUBST T: C:\Windows\System32\Drivers and press the Enter key.  Now to access all the files in C:\Windows\System32\Drivers just type T:\.  This will work at the command prompt or in any application such as the File Explorer.

    To delete the drive letter that was created by the substitution command, from the command prompt type SUBST T: /D.(just replace T: with the substitution drive letter that needs to be deleted).

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Windows 8: Booting From a VHD

    Since Windows 7, the OS has supported the ability boot the comptuer from a VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) or ISO file.   The VHD files were originally created for Microsoft's Virtual Machine (VM) technologies like Hyper-V.
    • Create or mount an existing VHD, and place it in an easy to find location such as C:\VHD.  For this example purposes the VHD file will be called C:\VHD\VHDTEST.VHD
    • Open up the administrator command prompt, from the Run... command type CMD.EXE and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /copy {current} /d "Windows Test VHD" (the name is quotes is arbitrary and is only for demo purposes, but it's what will show up in the Windows Boot Manager list at startup).  This command creates GUID that is associated with VHD that was just created and will be needed later in the successive steps.  
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /set device vhd=[C:]\VHD\VHDTEST.VHD (Note: the brackets around the drive letter are necessary)
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /set osdevice vhd=[C:]\VHD\VHDTEST.VHD. This command associates the GUID with the physical location of the VHD file.
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /set detecthal on (allows the VHD to access the physical computer resouces, such as the processor, virtualization technologies, USB drives, any other physical hard drives attached to the computer.)
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /v. Displays the all of the individual Boot Loaders that are available. 
    To remove the VHD:
    • Open up the administrator command prompt, from the Run... command type CMD.EXE and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /v (find the GUID of the entry you want to delete)
    • Run the following command: bcdedit /delete {GUID} /cleanup
    • Now you should be able to delete the VHD if you no longer need it.

    Monday, September 09, 2013

    Windows 8: Built-in Command Line Network Utilities

    Below is a list of command line network utilities that come with Windows that are used for troubleshooting network problems. The problem with these utilities is that they're not very intuitive until you learn to understand what you're looking at.

    For example, the PING command is for checking if a remote computer or device is network accessible (note: this can be block by the device's firewall). The IPCONFIG command displays information about the  computer's TCP/IP configuration, such as its IP address.

    To access these utilities utilizing the command prompt, from the Start screen, type CMD and press Enter. To exit the command prompt, close the window or type EXIT and press enter.  For more information and options on any of the commands below, use the "/?" switch at the end of them (e.g. PING /?).

    PING [hostname]
    Example : ping
    Preforms a basic network test to check  communication with a remote device. 
    TRACERT [hostname]
    Example: traceroute
    Shows the path and the number of routers (aka 'network hops') that the data passes through to arrive to the destination, if a connection is broken, this will show where it could be happening.
    Example : ifconfig
    Shows the basic TCP/IP network configuration for the computer, such as the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway.
    NSLOOKUP [hostname]
    Example: nslookup
    Displays the remote IP address assigned to a domain name based on the DNS information. This is a good test to make sure that the DNS connection is working properly.

    Below is an example of the output:
    Non-authoritative answer:
    NETSTAT [options]
    Example: netstat -nt
    Displays the current TCP/IP based connections established on the computer. This is handy to see the remote TCP/IP connections the system is using. 
    TELNET [hostname] [port]
    Example: telnet 80
    Provides a simple terminal session with another computer to perform different tasks, such as remote device administration or running text based applications. This utility can also be used for doing basic troubleshooting on HTTP, SMTP, and other text based  services.
    ARP [options]
    Example: arp -a
    Shows and manages the local computer's address translation tables
    NBTSTAT [options]
    Example: nbtstat -n
    Shows protocol statistics for NBT (NetBIOS over TCP/IP) connections.
    NETSH [options]
    Example: netsh interface show interface
    Manages local or remote network configurations.
    NET [options]
    Example: net view
    Displays or configures advanced network and system settings.
    NLTEST [options]
    Example: nltest /query
    Tests the secure channels between a Windows computer in a domain and domain controllers.
    PATHPING [hostname]
    Example: pathping
    Functions similarly to TRACERT command but also reports information about network latency and loss at each router.
    GETMAC [options]
    Example: getmac
    Displays the MAC addresses for the NIC(s) attached to the computer.
    Example: hostname
    Shows the network name of the local computer.
    ROUTE [options]
    Example: route print
    Displays and manages the local computers network routing tables.

    Monday, September 02, 2013

    Windows 8: Prevent Windows Update's Automatic Rebooting

    It's annoying if the computer is left on at night with unsaved work on it, then come back to it in the morning and find that it was rebooted.

    When new patches are downloaded and installed on the computer by Windows Update (if its enabled) this feature will automatically reboot the system. So if there's any unsaved work, it will be lost.

    To prevent Windows Update from performing this action, follow the instructions below:

    Note: This tip requires modifying the Windows Registry so proceed at your own risk.
    • Open the Windows Registry Editor, from the Search field under the Start screen, type "REGEDIT" and press the Enter key.
    • Navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU (note: manually create some of these keys.)
    • Right-click an empty space in the right pane and select New > DWORD value.
    • Name the new value NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers
    • Set the value in the field to 1, press the OK button.
    • Close the registry editor when done. 

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    Windows 8: Stupid PC Tricks - Show Desktop

    Note: "Stupid PC Tricks" are a series of user tips that I think are interesting, but unfortunately they're not all that useful.
    Since Windows XP, you could press the WinKey + D on the keyboard to show the desktop.  Before that you had a shortcut that used to come with Windows that you could launch with your mouse.

    Below are instructions on how to recreate the shortcut icon.

    Open NOTEPAD.EXE, and paste the following code into it.
    Press the Ctrl+S to bring up the save dialog.  Select where you want to save the file.
    Give the file name of Show DESKTOP.SCF, change the Save as type drop-down menu to: All files (*.*)
    Press the Save button

    Double-click the icon to hide the desktop, double-click it again to show the desktop.

    Note: The icons are still available on your system at: "%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch"

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Windows 8: Create a Pseudo Start Menu in the Taskbar

    One of the first things people notice in Windows 8 is the omission of the Start menu from the desktop. There are several 3rd party replacements for this feature available on the Internet.

    Personally, I like to limit the installation of any extra software installed on my system (this is my preference).

    If you find this annoying, but don't want to install a 3rd party replacement. You can create a pseudo Start menu by creating a new toolbar in the taskbar.

    All you have to do is right-click the taskbar, and select Toolbars > New Toolbar, then paste in the follow path in to the file dialog box: %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs.

    In the taskbar towards the right you will see the word Programs with two little ">>" (greater then signs) next to it. Click the little ">>" (greater then signs), and you should see all your installed desktop programs.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Windows 8: How to install Windows Media Center (or an Alternative)

    One feature (or really lack there of) in Windows 8 users might find annoying is the inability to playback DVDs or Blu-ray discs under the new OS.  In Windows 7 this used to be an included feature depending on the edition of the OS you had installed.

    If you're running Windows 8 standard edition you will have to rely on a 3rd party software.  For DVDs, you can download and run VLC [free], or some other available media player software.  For Blu-ray discs you're going to have to rely on some other 3rd party media player software.

    If you're running Windows 8 Professional edition, you can download the Windows Media Center feature, which is now a paid feature called "Windows 8 Media Center Pack" add-on (which allows you to watch and record TV and play DVDs).

    There are a few things that you need to know about The Windows 8 Media Center Pack:

    • This feature adds all the original Windows Media Center functionality back to Windows 8 Pro which includes the ability to watch and record broadcast TV and play DVDs. 
      • Note: The DVD playback option is not supported in the Windows Media Player which is included with the OS.
    • If you want to play Blu-rays in Windows Media Center, you will need to get the appropriate CODEC from a third-party.

    To install the "Windows 8 Media Center Pack" add-on, follow the instructions below:

    • Press the Windows Key, then type: "add features" in the search box, and then tap or click the Settings icon.
    • Tap or click "Add features to Windows 8".
      • If you already received your product key from Microsoft, then tap or click "I already have a product key", then follow the prompts.
      • If you don't already have a product key from Microsoft, then tap or click "I want to buy a product key online", then follow the prompts.
    • Enter a product key and then press Next button.
    • After reading the license terms, select the check box to accept the license terms, and then press Add features button.

    Monday, August 05, 2013

    Windows 8: Creating a Master Control Panel

    You can create what I like to call the "Master Control Panel" (it is also known as GodMode).  I think the secondary term over emphasizes the real utility of this window.  Basically it displays all control panels, troubleshooting tips and more in one window.

    It’s a hidden feature that remains available in previous versions of Windows OS (I know this trick works on Windows 7, I am not sure if it works before that).

    To access this feature, you have to right-click an empty area of the desktop and select New > Folder. Highlight this folder and press F2, then type: MasterPanel.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and press the [Enter] key. Double-click the folder icon to view its contents.

    Monday, July 29, 2013

    Windows 8: Stupid PC Tricks - Windows Switcher

    Note: "Stupid PC Tricks" are a series of user tips that I think are interesting, but unfortunately they're not all that useful.
    You have always been able to press ALT-TAB to switch between applications.  Way back in Windows 95 and later, there was a shortcut in the Quick Launch bar that could activate the Windows Task Switcher.

    Below are instructions on how to recreate the shortcut icon.
    • Create a new shortcut (right-click the desktop, select New > Shortcut)
    • In the Type the location of the item field, type: %windir%\explorer.exe shell:::{3080F90E-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257}, and then press the Next button.
    • In the Type the name of the shortcut field, type: Windows Switcher, and then press the Finish button.
    Note: The icons are still available on your system at: "%userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch"

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Windows 8: Boot Configuration Utilities

    Back in the days of Windows NT there was a BOOT.INI file that was used for controlling which OS Windows would load and what start-up options would be used.

    In Windows Vista, Microsoft replaced the older BOOT.INI file with a new architecture called the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store.

    The only time you really want to modify the BCD store is if you want to change the Windows startup options for diagnostic reasons, or if there's a need to multi-boot the system with more then one OS (e.g. Windows, Linux, etc.)
    Warning: Use extreme caution when using any of these tools as they can easily make the system unbootable by changing the wrong configuration setting.
    Below is a list of built-in utilities for managing the BCD store:
    • MSCONFIG.EXE (A GUI tool for modifying the BCD store)
    • BCDEDIT.EXE (A command line tool for modifying the BCD store)
    • BCDBOOT.EXE (A command line tool for managing system partition files)

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Windows 8: Reset vs. Refreshing Windows

    In the past when the operating system was giving you problems (e.g. corrupted system files, malware, bad drivers, etc.) you had two choices. Find the original installation disk to try to repair the OS or format the hard drive and do a clean install.

    Windows 8 now makes it easy for you to repair a broken operating system by returning it to its original state.  By going to the Setting menu, click the Change PC Settings link, then select General. Scroll to the bottom of the side window, and you'll see two options: Refresh your PC without affecting your files and Remove everything and re-install Windows.

    Summary: Refresh vs. Reset:
    • Refresh: Keeps customizations, personal files (music, photos, and other documents), and Windows 8 installed apps, and doesn't format before re-installing the OS.  This option returns the operating system to its factory-default settings and removes third-party application that were installed
      • Note: all applications that were not installed via the Windows Store will be deleted.
      • Tip: It never hurts to make sure that you have a good backup of all your data before using this option.
    • Reset: Re-formats the hard drive and re-installs the OS to its factory-default settings   It doesn't keep any customizations , data, or applications.
      • Warning: Make sure to backup all your data before using this option.
    Additional Notes:
    The RECIMG.EXE is a command line tool that allows the creation of a custom recovery image for Windows when the Refresh your PC option is utilized. The recovery images do not contain the users personal documents, settings, user profile information, or apps from the Windows Store, because that information is preserved when the PC is refreshed.

    This tool requires administrator privileges to execute.  For more information on how to use this type RECIMG.EXE /? at the command prompt and press the Enter key.

    Monday, July 08, 2013

    Windows 8: Creating an All Applications Folder

    I will admit right off this feature is not pretty, but if you like to explore all the different aspects of your system you might find this one interesting.  This tip involves creating an applications folder on the desktop that gives you quick access to all the programs installed on your computer (both native Windows 8 and desktop applications)

    • Open the File Explorer, then navigate to the Desktop (or anywhere else you want) and create a new empty folder (press Ctrl+Shift+N).
    • Rename the new folder (click the folder and press F2): All Applications.{4234d49b-0245-4df3-b780-3893943456e1} (Note: the first part of the name before the period can be anything you want) 

    When you open the folder it will list all applications installed on your computer in one window.

    Monday, July 01, 2013

    Windows 8: The Best and Quickest Way Shutdown (Restart or Hibernate) Windows

    I have to admit when I first started using Windows 8 and tried to shut it down for the first time I was a little frustrated. Even after I learned how to properly shutdown the system, I wasn't really happy with any method I found, until I came up with the solution below.

    Utilizing a built-in feature of the Windows application shortcut you can execute any of these operations with shortcut keys. This feature is mostly forgotten, and has literally been around for decades.
    • On an empty area of the Windows desktop, right-click and select New > Shortcut. When the 'Create Shortcut' dialog box appears, type shutdown /s /t 0 and press the Next button.
      • to restart the computer, use: shutdown /r /t 0 
      • to hibernate the computer, use: shutdown /h /t 0
      • to log-off of the current session, use: logout 
    • Give the shortcut a name, and then press the Finish button. 
    • Right-click the new shortcut icon, and select Properties.
    • In the Properties window, click in the box next to the Shortcut key.  Type in your desired shortcut. For example, press CTRL+ALT+S (or anything else you want, personally I use CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+S to help avoid accidentally shutting down the computer).
    • Press the OK button. 
    Now all you have to do is press the shortcut key you created, and the computer will perform the operation you selected. To delete the keyboard shortcut, open its file properties dialog box click the box next to 'Shortcut key', and press the Delete key.

    Note: This trick can be used on just about any application shortcut, and in most versions of Windows.

    Bonus Tip: another quick way to shutdown Windows is to click an empty area of the desktop and press ALT+F4.

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    Internet Explorer 10: Built-in Security and Privacy Features

    The web browser is the number one attack surface criminals are using to infect your computer or steal private information.  None of the security and privacy technologies built into any browser are perfect, and will keep you safe at all times.  The bad guys are updating their tools and exploits all the time to try to circumvent these protections.

    Internet criminals use weaknesses in a browser or its extensions to execute malicious code on the local computer. Although, by keeping your browser and extensions up-to-date.  Also limiting the number of extensions you install to the bare minimum, you can help protect your computer and your privacy.

    In the past Internet Explorer had a bad reputation for being vulnerable to these types of attacks.  Microsoft has worked hard to clean up Internet Explorer's reputation in the last few years.  For more information see the following report from NSS Labs.

    Below is a list the more well known Internet Explorer 10's built-in security and privacy features:
    • Tracking Protection: Helps filters out scripts and files that can track you online (more info).
      • Tools, Safety menu, Tracking Protection...
    • SmartScreen: Filters malicious web sites and content
      • Tools, Safety menu, Turn on SmartScreen filters...
    • Disables Flash extensions: Disables the Flash plug-ins by default when a web page is loaded.
      • Note: IE has two interfaces, desktop which supports add-ons, and the touch screen native interface that doesn't.
    • InPrivacy Browsing: Doesn't record the browsing history (cookies, visited sites, etc.).
      • Press: Ctrl + Shift + P
    • Delete Browser History: Automatically purges the browser's history when exiting.
      • Internet Options, check the Delete browsing history on exit checkbox
    • Security Zone: Enables or disables browser features based on the site's URL
      • Tools, Internet Options, Security tab
    • Privacy Settings: Controls how cookies are handled by the browser.
      • Tools, Internet Options, Privacy tab 
    • Family Safety: Controls what content different users can view.
      • Tools, Internet Options, Content tab, press the Family Safety button
    • Password Manager: Stores usernames and passwords for different sites.
      • Tools, Internet Options, Content tab, press the Setting button in the AutoComplete section.
    • Popup Blocker: Prevents web sites from spawning popup windows.
      • Tools, Internet Options, Privacy tab, press the Setting button in the Pop-up Blocker section.
    • More information.
    Some additional security/privacy suggestions:
    • If you use Java regularly make sure to keep it up-to-date, otherwise consider uninstalling it.
    • The built-in Reader app in Windows 8 can display PDFs, so you don't need a 3rd party application.
    • Install CCCleaner, it purges private information better then the built-in tools.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    Software: Controlling Your PC with Hand Gesture

    A company called eyeSight offers software that allows you to control your PC using hand gestures without the use of special hardware (such as the LeapMotion). The eyeSight software utilizes the camera that that is attached to your PC or already built into your laptop.

    Note: I have not used this product, so I am not aware of its true advantages or limitations. This information is provided for reference only.

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Windows 8: Disabling the Lock Screen

    In Windows 8 the lock screen is enabled by default. For some people this is an annoyance rather then a feature. If you want to disable this feature and display the Start screen automatically when you turn on the computer, follow the instructions below:
    • Open the Start screen, or press WinKey+R to open the Run command dialog 
    • Type "netplwiz.exe" press enter, or launch the app when it is displayed. 
    • Select the user account you want to automatically be logged into. 
    • Uncheck the item: Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer
    • Press the OK button, you'll be prompted to enter the password twice. 
    Next time when you start up the computer, you will not be prompted with a password. To re-enable the lock screen just run the program netplwiz.exe again, and re-check the item: Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer, and then press the OK button.

    Note: If you use this feature, your password will be stored in the registry as plain text.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013

    Windows 8: Advanced Windows Calculator Tricks (Advanced Functions)

    The Windows Calculator is one of those features that has been around for a long, long time.  For the most part it gets unnoticed until you need to do some basic calculations.  

    To quickly bring up the calculator, from the Start screen type CALC and select the calculator icon, or from the Run... command (WinKey + R) type: CALC.EXE.

    When you first start-up calculator it will look like it always does, with just the basic features. To access the more advanced modes (such as the unit or date conversion, and worksheets), open up the File menu or use the keyboard shortcuts below:

    Available calculator modes: 
    • ALT+1: Standard
    • ALT+2: Scientific
    • ALT+3: Programmer
    • ALT+4: Statistics
    • CTRL+H: Enable the history feature
    • CTRL+U: Unit Conversion
    • CTRL+E: Date Conversion 
    Note: To access the mortgage, vehicle lease and fuel economy worksheets, from the File menu, select Worksheets then select the one you want to use.  To revert the calculator back to its default functionality, press CTRL+F4.
    Bonus Tip: It is pretty easy to assign a special key combination to the calculator's shortcut (just right-click the program's icon (in the File Explore, go to "%ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\" and select Calculator.lnk) select Properties, and click in the Shortcut Key field, then assign a keyboard combination such as Ctrl + Alt + C, and then press the OK button)

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Windows 8 vs. Windows To Go, What You Need to Know?

    "Windows To Go" is a new feature included in Windows 8 Enterprise edition that allows for the creation of a   "portable bootable Windows workspace" on a USB flash drive.  This workspace is designed to store your OS, applications, and data on a single device that can be easily moved between computers.

    Since these drives are fully self contained, no data is written to the host computer.  This prevents the accidental loss of data because it was stored on another computer.

    Unfortunately this feature is not available in other editions of Windows 8.  Its worth noting the Windows 8 Enterprise edition is only sold to Microsoft Volume Licence customers.

    Windows To Go operates just like any other installation of Windows with a few exceptions that are listed below:
    • The hibernate and sleep features are disabled by default to help prevent accidental data corruption. 
    • Drives attached to the host computer are not available to prevent data from being written to them. 
    • The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) can't be used because its hardware specific  
      • When  BitLocker Drive Encryption is implemented, a pre-OS boot password is utilized. 
    • The Windows Recovery Environment, OS Refresh and Reset features are disabled. 
    • Access to the Windows Store is disabled because apps licensed through the store are linked to hardware for their licensing.
    System requirements to run Windows To Go:

    Wednesday, June 05, 2013

    Windows 8: Ultimate Windows Command Line Reference (Updated)

    Are you looking for an updated high-level up-to-date reference of all the built-in command line tools and utilities that are available in the current version of Windows?  Check out the following article, its almost everything any Windows power-user or systems administrator will need to know about the built-in command line tools and utilities.

    Monday, June 03, 2013

    Windows 8: Naming a Tile Group

    In the new Windows 8 Start menu, you may have figured out that you can arrange icons into what are called Tile Groups. Which is exactly what the name says, a group of icons that are arranged together for a specific purpose (e.g. Office applications, Image Editing, etc.).

    If you're wondering how to name these tile groups there is a little trick that you have to know. Follow the instructions below:
    • Press the WinKey to bring up the Start screen. 
    • Press the minus sign icon in the lower right hand corner (this will zoom out all the icons). 
      • Note: for touch screens you can use the reverse pinching gesture or you can hold down the Ctrl + Scroll wheel 
    • Right-click on the tile group that you want to name (this will select the tile group). 
    • In the application bar at the bottom of the screen, press "Name Group" button. 
    • A small dialog will popup with a Name field. Enter a name for a group, and press the enter key or the name button.

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Windows 8: Administrator Command Prompt Shortcut

    If you do a lot of troubleshooting or system diagnostics you will end up working in the administrator command prompt often. Most people might right-click the Command Prompt shortcut icon and then select the Run as administrator option.

    Other tricks for starting the command prompt in administrator mode include, from the Run... command or the Start screen you can type CMD and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

    However, there is an easy way to modify the command prompt shortcut so always start administrator mode.

    • Right-click the Command Prompt icon shortcut and select Properties.
    • On the Shortcut tab and press the Advanced... button.
    • Check the Run as administrator checkbox and then press the OK button.
    • Press the button again.

    When this shortcut is used it will start the Command Prompt with administrative permissions.

    Monday, May 27, 2013

    Windows 8: Windows Keyboard Shortcuts for the Taskbar

    Below are Windows keyboard shortcuts for the taskbar that work in Windows 8 desktop mode (this tip is backwards compatible with Windows 7).  These shortcuts allow you to access items pinned to the taskbar or any desktop application that is currently running that has its icon in this area.
    • WinKey + (Number): Windows automatically assigns keyboard shortcuts to programs in the taskbar on the desktop. To access them, use the WinKey+the number position of the program in the order it appears there.
      •  For example, if Internet Explorer is the first icon in your taskbar by pressing WinKey+1 it will open it. If the Windows Explorer is the second icon in your taskbar by pressing WinKey+2 it will open it. 
    • WinKey + Shift + (Number): Opens a new instance of the program associate with the WinKey + number position. So if you had one instance of Internet Explorer running this would open up a new copy of the application in memory. 
    • WinKey + Ctrl + (Number): Switches to the last instance of that program associated with that WinKey + number position. 
    • WinKey + Alt + (Number): Opens the jump menu of the program associated with that WinKey + number position. 

    More: Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Video: Get To Know Windows 8

    Video description: "New to Windows 8? This video has all you need to get up to speed."

    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Video: Windows 8 Leap Motion in Action

    I have been following Leap Motion for what feels like forever.  I wonder if it has the potential to help Windows 8 really take off.

    Using Windows 8 is okay when using it with a mouse, but its even better with a touchscreen.  With a Leap Motion type of device you have the possibility of having a user interface like 'Minority Report'.

    Although, I am prepared to be underwhelmed, but I would like to hope for the best.  It seems these days that most products can't live up to our expectations, but it doesn't make the technology any less cool.

    Video description: "It's what we've always envisioned for Leap Motion — to break down the barriers between people and technology. Here's a video to show you how close we are. With Leap Motion technology, Windows OS is natural, easy, and fun to use. You'll navigate your desktop, browse the web, flip through photos, and do everything you do everyday in extraordinary ways —all with the wave of a hand or lift of a finger."

    Windows 8: Charm Keyboard Shortcuts

    Native Windows 8 applications don't have the traditional drop-down menus (such as File, Edit, etc.) like older desktop applications. Windows 8 apps use the "charms" side menu and the application bar (swipe up from the bottom on a touch screen or press the WinKey+Z) for these features.

    The charm menus can be accessed sliding your finger to the left from the right-side of the touchscreen display, or by moving the mouse to the lower or upper right corner of the screen. There are also keyboard shortcuts for accessing these charms directly:
    • WinKey + C: Displays the Charms menu on the right side of the screen. 
      • From here you can access the Search, Share, Start, Devices, and Settings menus. 
    • WinKey + F: Performs a file search.
      • Windows will search for all documents that match the keywords entered.
    • WinKey + H: Opens the Sharing charm menu.
      •  Allows the sharing of content with people or applications that support this feature.
    • WinKey + I: Opens the Setting charm menu. 
      • Modify the current application or Start screen application and feature settings.
    • WinKey + K: Opens the Device charm menu. 
      • Allows you to send content to another device such as a printer.
    More: Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Article: Which browser is safest? The answer may surprise you

    Below is an article that I found this morning: "Web browsers are one of the main ways that malware finds its way onto your machine. Tests carried out by NSS Labs looked at the five major players, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer to see which offers the best protection against more than 700 examples of real-world malware.

    And the safest is... (Drum roll and a long, reality TV-style pause...) Internet Explorer 10, blocking 99.96 percent of known malicious downloads." (read the rest of the article)

    For years Internet Explorer has been lambasted by the press for being insecure. Unfortunately I will have to let its "track record" speak for itself.

    Over the last few years Microsoft  put in a lot of energy to improve this application.  What is interesting is that Firefox and Chrome were considered more secure then IE for a long time, but unfortunately over the last few years their security enhancements have been falling behind.

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Windows 8: Built-In Applications

    Windows 8 comes with several new built-in applications that provide access to a variety of different types of content (news, sports, and weather) and services (email, storage, and more).  The following is an excerpt from the article: "Windows 8 comes with the following built-in touch-optimized applications out-of-the box (meaning that they're installed by default). These apps can perform several different types of functions from managing your digital communications (email, IM, etc.) to browsing the different types of content (movies, videos, pictures, etc.) on your local system.

    As I talked about in an earlier article, there are two types of applications available for Windows 8. There are the older desktop applications that are installed by using optical media or by downloading it off the Internet. Then there are the native Windows 8 apps that are written to take advantage of the new Windows UI." (read the rest of the article)

    Monday, May 06, 2013

    Windows 8: New Features of the OS

    As I stated in a previous post, I am working on a series of articles about Windows 8.  This is my second article in the series that briefly explains most of the major new features of the operating system.

    Below is an excerpt from the article
    • "Secure Boot: This is one of the more controversial features of the new operating system especially for Linux users who dual boot their system. This feature is only available on Windows 8 certified computers. The way the UEFI secure boot feature works is that it only allows signed operating systems to boot, this prevents unauthorized code from loading which could contain malware.
    • Faster Booting: Windows 8 boots faster because it uses a technique of partially hibernating the system kernel when the computer is shut down. When the system is booted, the ‘memory state’ of the previous session gets reinitialized more quickly."  (read the rest of the article)

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    Windows 8: Introduction to the New OS

    I am going to be doing a series of articles on Windows 8, and this is my first article that explains how to use the new Windows operating system. This article focuses on providing a brief background of the product and an explanation of the two different platforms and versions of Windows that are available.

    Below is an excerpt from the article: "If you're a new user to Windows 8, one of the first things you might ask is, "where's the Start menu". Microsoft had to do away with the Start menu and create the Start screen because the world is become more reliant on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and touchscreen laptops. ...

    The traditional Windows metaphor such as the Start Menu (and several others: such as windowed applications, drop-down menus, etc.) don't lend themselves well to the newer mobile device technologies like high resolution touchscreens that don't support a standard keyboard and mouse. " (read the rest of the article)

    Deal: Get a Free Month of Hulu Plus

    Hulu Plus gives you more access to popular movies and TV shows on Hulu. For a limited-time, the site is offering a one month free trial of the Hulu Plus service to new customers.  Normally the free trial is only for one week.

    It's important to note a credit card is required to complete the sign up, and according to the site the offer is only available for a few more days.

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Article: Integrate a custom Shutdown menu into the Windows 8 Desktop context menu

    I found this tip on another site, and I thought it was too cool not to share. This article discusses how to create a custom context menu for shutting down (restarting, hibernating, etc.) your computer. Its also a pretty good introduction to creating your own customized context menus for other tasks.
    Note: This requires modifying the registry, so this tip is not for those who don't know what they're doing. So use this information at your own risk.
    The image below is an example of what the context menu looks like (note: the menu wording, commands and the icons are customizable) .  Read the article to understand how it works.

    Towards the bottom of the article there is a link to some registry files that will install (or uninstall) the menu.  See the "Using the Reg files" section of the article for more information.