10 reasons to upgrade to Windows 7 from XP or Vista

So, I’ve gotten a lot of comments in person about whether or not Windows 7 is worth the upgrade. 50% of those inquiries come from disgruntled Windows users and the other 50% from completely non-technical users (*cough* my husband and father-in-law *cough*). So, this post is for those two categories of people.

  1. If you’re still on Windows 2000 or Windows XP: there are way too many reasons to switch. If you want details, please check out Paul Thurrott’s review of Windows 7. If there is a particular application that’s keeping you tied to Windows XP, there is XP mode available for free on Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate for you to use. If you are worried about drivers being available, Windows 7 supports an astounding number of devices and if it can’t find your device, there are built-in tools such as the troubleshooting section to help find a solution to your issue. Are you worried about speed? Suffice it to say that, Windows 7 has been re-engineered to be less of a system resource hog than Vista was and is actually kinder to older hardware. Those reports of Windows 7 being installed on Netbooks is real and should provide encouragement that Windows 7 is really easy to use! I’d really hate for you to be tied down to XP when 7 is heads and shoulders over XP and Vista!
  2. If you’ve managed to grok the weird system that Vista was and you’re uncomfortable with learning yet-another-system, my advice to you is this: At $29 for a student license to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional, the performance improvements on Windows 7 alone should make 7 worth your time. Windows 7 isn’t too much of a visual overhaul as it is an under-the-hood reworking of how Vista made use of your computer’s resources. Here’s a little ‘caveat’ if you will about why Windows 7 is a speeddemon on *my* laptop:
    • When I purchased my HP laptop (dv9700t) in 2008, I went for above average components like the Intel Penryn Core 2 Duo processors, an Nvidia 512MB 8600M graphics card and 4 gigabytes of RAM because I had done my research about the minimum requirements for the optimal functioning of Vista. So when Windows 7 came out, my computer’s specs were obviously more than qualified to run Windows 7 without a hiccup.
    • My point: if you purchased a computer in recent years (2008 or even late 2007), running Windows 7 is not going to cause any slow down in your productivity. If your desktop is over 5 yrs old, you could really benefit from the hundreds of deals out there on electronics.
  3. If you are unsure about how to go about getting the best bang for your buck, here are some sites I use to bargain-hunt on the web:
    • Techbargains.com: This site has been around on the web for a while. It’s a great way to get wind of gadgets that are hot and feel free to waste hours browsing their website.
    • Retailmenot.com: This site is a money-saver for me because everytime I find something I like on the web, I *always* search RetailMeNot to see if there are any coupons that I can use to save an extra $50 or $5 off.
    • Buy.com: This site has been a staple of mine for years. Again, if you find some toy you like, make sure you check this website for the same item in case they have it on sale for less.
    • Woot.com: This site is another new contender on the block, but it can be a hugely useful website during times called “Woot-Offs” where they can sell high end items for cheap or bags of crap (literally) for cheap as well. This is a staple of mind that I check daily because each day offers some new tech. toy.

With that, I bid you adieu and happy hunting! 🙂

Optimizing your Windows operating system with built-in tools

I have this tendency to install programs on my computer and after a day or two, I change my mind and uninstall them. Since not all programs are efficient at removing their tracks/traces from my computer, I resort to manually hunting down rogue files and then using Norton Utilities to do the rest of the work. I chose Norton Utilities over Iolo or TuneUp because right or wrong, I feel that since Norton makes a very capable internet security application for the Windows operating system, I would take my chances with Norton’s tips for optimizing their computer versus a company that touts an 800% increase in Windows 7 bootup times” *cough* Iolo *cough* If there’s one thing I would upgrade to Windows 7 for, it’s for the decreased bootup times. I can’t tell you how much faster it is because I am not a time-clock pusher. Go to one of those tech. review sites for that. However, in real people speak, it’s fast enough that I don’t have to get coffee before sitting down to start working with the computer.

In my experience, the best way to make sure your Windows installation stays free of cruft is to do the following:
1) Make use of the built-in system cleanup tool. Seriously. On XP, Vista and now Windows 7, there is utility called “Disk Cleanup” that lets you remove everything from old system restore points, debug data dumps to temp files (where things like cached pages are stored). To get to the Disk Cleanup tool, press the Windows “Start” key and type “Disk Cleanup”. Windows Search is very efficient and the chances are high that it showed you “Disk Cleanup” entry before you completed your search term.
2) Uninstall crap you don’t use: If you are like me, you have 2 of each kind of program. 🙂 For instance, I’ve got 2 OCR programs currently installed (Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional and I.R.I.S. Professional 12 (which, by the way, sucks majorly so don’t waste your money buying I.R.I.S. OCR). Why on earth do I need 2 image editing programs (I’ve got GIMP and Adobe Photoshop CS3 installed) or 3 photo cataloging applications (Adobe Bridge CS3, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Live Photo Gallery)? I’m clearly guilty of the sin of keeping programs around that I don’t make use of a lot. You will save on disk space if you just honestly come clean with yourself first and remove duplicate programs.
3) Disk problems: Sometimes, the file system structure gets corrupted especially if you run programs that bleach the free hard disk space or partition your hard disk. Typically, you can sort out disk errors by rightclicking on your C: drive icon under “My Computer” and selecting “Properties”. Then, you’ll want to click on the tab called, “Tools” and select the “Check now” button under “Error Checking.” An alert box will pop up and ask you to scan your file system for errors as well as fix & repair said errors. Ideally, you want to have both options checked. Then, Windows should inform you that you will need to schedule a disk check because “the files that need to be changed are currently in use.” This disk check (chkdsk) will happen when you boot up your computer. Simple, right? not so fast. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen even after you tell the computer to schedule a disk check. No matter how many times you restart your computer. Trust me on this one. What to do?

  • I rebooted in safe mode (I think it’s the F8 key).
  • I logged in as an Administrator
  • I clicked the “Windows” key and typed “cmd”. Rightclick to start commandline tool as an administrator.
  • Run the following command: chkdsk /R
  • The chkdsk /R flag basically tells the computer to fix any file system errors and it implies (obviously) that you are scanning the file system for errors. If all you want to do is scan your file system, then type in chkdsk /F

You don’t have to take my word for any of this. If you are skeptical about typing in commands from a internet stranger, then ask Windows for help. What do I mean? For almost all commands you type into the commandline tool, if you put the word, “help” or “/?” after your command, you will get a list of options that are associated with that particular command. And *that’s* how I know the difference between the /R and /F flags. 😀

Cheers and I hope this helps someone who is trying to figure out how to get Windows 7 or Vista to run a disk check when it won’t do it on its own.

Using Windows Live Writer on Habari

So, thanks to Andy C, @andy on Identi.ca, I’ve been able to get posting enabled to my Habari blog via the Metaweblog plugin available for Habari. Awesome. I miss having a WYSIWYG interface for composing posts so I’m especially glad that I’m now able to have more ways to have brain farts. 🙂

The HP Officejet J6480 printer will apparently NOT scan items over a wireless connection. I’m not very happy about that and according to HP_Listens on Twitter, they will not be able to help me until after the 22nd of October, when Windows 7 becomes generally available. On the HP website, they will not be offering a full featured set of software drivers until January 2010! *sigh*

In non-tech related news, I’m working on processing pictures from a family AND a high school senior’s photoshoots. These were taken in conjunction with Blane Marable of Blane Marable Photography. My pictures will be up on my professional website, Jane Ullah Photography. In the meantime, browse my albums!