The life of a tech. lady. :P

So, I had the pleasure of being called upon to resurrect a friend’s PC from issues ranging from a missing graphics driver (how this got deleted, I have *no* idea), various Trojan flavors to dealing with an anemic hard disk drive (67MB of space left on a 30gb disk). I was eager to call upon my superior googling skills to solve the issue, but I faced just more than fixing a ‘sick’ computer. I was faced with the biggest problem of all: user apathy. You see, one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing a computer and its software go unpatched and/or un-updated. I kvetched to my hubby about how said friend should just move to a Mac if he couldn’t handle the responsibility of owning a PC and it got me thinking about how Microsoft could change the perception that PCs are a lot of headache. Seriously, the main reason from my limited view) about the plethora of virii available on the Windows platform is solely due to its popularity. By that theory, Macs will soon witness the same epidemic if people migrate to that platform in droves which they apparently are doing as Macs are gaining user share rather quickly. Anyway, I digress. Why I subscribe to the school of learning about my tools and being a proactive user, I can appreciate the fact that not everyone gets excited about learning how to protect their PCs and they would frankly rather NOT bother with running Microsoft Update if it didn’t know to update itself already. So, I guess the point of this little nugget of a post is: what can people who care about technology do to encourage technologically-challenged or plain disinterested people to ‘care’ about their PCs. To computer makers: what can YOU do to make the experience of caring about your PCs a better one for us, users?

Just a thought. 😛

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:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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! 🙂

Recommendations for a seamless migration to Windows 7

I’ve been using Windows 7 for over a week now and it feels very familiar, but much faster and more stable than Windows Vista SP2. Some have opined that Windows 7 is what Windows Vista should have been and I have to agree reluctantly. Without knowing all the facts, it appears that they had to ship something and Vista was it. Their slogan for Vista was “The WOW starts NOW” and if you’ve read several screeds about Vista’s failures, you can appreciate the irony of that slogan.

However, I can appreciate the fact that Microsoft has a difficult task of ensuring that their operating systems are operable with a wide variety of devices that are on the market. I respect a company that fosters an ecosystem where several mini-industries can prosper (e.g. for pretty much any computer part, there is a company that makes a replacement item). In any case, here’s what I did to ensure that I didn’t suffer any data loss or traumatic events:

  1. Step 1: Decide if you’re going to do an in-place upgrade versus a clean installation. I agonized over this decision because
    • I didn’t want to waste time reinstalling all my precious applications and
    • I wasn’t sure I would be able to re-download the installation files for my programs.

    . So, I made sure that the most important applications were accounted for i.e. I had either the install disks or the executable files. If you rely on “warez”, I can’t help you with that. I would recommend a clean installation because I believe in pouring new wine into a new bag or so that bible verse goes. 🙂

  2. Step 2: Create a disc image of your computer using either Acronis True Image 2010 or Norton Ghost (those are the two heavyweights in the field of computer backups). If you can’t afford either, consider using the built-in Windows Complete PC backup. Don’t forget there’s a different between doing a complete PC backup versus backing up files (when using the free Windows PC backup software for Vista). You will NOT be able to retrieve individual files/folders if you do a complete PC backup through Windows Complete PC backup. With disc images created by Acronis, you can extract individual files/folders from whole disk images if you wish to do so. I went slightly overboard by having my entire computer backed up via
    • Carbonite (or Mozy or whatever online backup service you use. It can even be a simple file/folder sharing utility like Dropbox)
    • on 2 external hard drives plus
    • having my work-related files on my thumbdrive as well

    . It pays to be slightly paranoid sometimes.*side note* Carbonite is planning on releasing a final Windows 7 compatible version once Windows 7 is out in stores.

  3. Step 3: don’t do this at 11pm at night. Allow
    • ~ 2hrs for backing up your files or your entire computer
    • ~ 2hrs for installing the new operating system and any updates (which, depending on your internet speed, may take longer than budgeted)
    • <li.~ 2 hrs re-installing your must-have programs. I recommend checking online to make sure you have the most recent version of whatever favorite program you have

    • Reboot your computer after each major installation e.g. after installing programs like Microsoft Office 2007, Visual Studio 2008 or Express, antivirus programs, internet security suites, firewall programs and pretty much any programs that explicitly inform you that you need to reboot for changes to take place, or utlities that integrate with Windows Explorer or the shell.
  4. Step 4: please make sure your computer has enough battery juice AND is plugged into an AC outlet or UPS. More often than note, your computer will install updates from Microsoft during the course of your upgrade. Please don’t leave your computer alone because you will need to help your computer through prompts or license acceptance check points. You must NOT let your computer ‘die’ on you (for lack of power) while upgrading your computer otherwise you’re in for a day or so of lost man hours. Have your system restore disks beside you just incase. In case you were wondering, I DID have my system restore disks beside me in the event that things went south.

That’s all for part one of getting a ‘bare-bones’ install of Windows 7 going successfully. Cheers!