Saturday, October 24, 2009

Windows 7 tips and tricks

Windows 7 is a great Operating System, but if you do not know some of these tips and tricks you may not realize how user friendly it is.

1. The new Aero features - Peek and shake
You can view live thumbnails of all your windows when you roll over the app in the task bar. You can scroll your mouse over each thumbnail to bring a preview of the window to focus, you can close the window within the aero thumbnail, if you shake a window it will make the rest of the windows minimize. To bring all the windows back you simply shake the window again.

2. Search bar
Finding files, programs, and features never got easier with the new and improved search bar in both the start menu and every explorer window. Search makes it easy to find anything. Perhaps you want to open a program but do not have any shortcuts for it other than in the multi-level start menu. Rather than click start, all programs, Microsoft office, Microsoft Excel simply click the start menu icon (or press the windows key) and begin typing 'excel'. The search comes up with the result as fast as you can type it. 90% of the time the program or file you were looking for will be the top item in the search and thus already highlighted. So, opening a program can be as easy as typing [win key] exce [enter]. This goes for folder names, file names, programs, or even topics in the control panel that you cannot easily find. The same handy search bar is in nearly every explorer window but searches faster than ever where you can find what you're looking for in literally seconds just by typing in the first few letters of the title.

3. Pinning programs to the task bar
At first many users will hate that it is not 'easy' to create a quick launch toolbar in the task bar like they had on Vista and XP. At first this 'missing' feature made me hate Windows 7. If you too were like me here is how to add the quick launch bar to the toolbar in Windows 7. It wasn't long before I learned how to pin programs to the tool bar. If you pin internet explorer to the tool bar but have a IE window open already an want to open a new one, it can be annoying to right click then click on 'Internet Explorer'. Well, you don't have to! Simply hold the shift button down while clicking on the window in the task bar OR use your middle scroll button on your mouse to click. Both will open a new instance of the program instead of bringing the existing window to focus. Once I figured out this tip I was a lot happier with the new tool bar in Windows 7.

4. Rearrange the order of the windows in the task bar
You can now click and drag the items in the bottom tool bar and rearrange how they are ordered. This seems like a small detail but it is handy when you have a lot of windows open.

5. The permanent show desktop button
On the bottom right of the screen you see a small empty space to the right of the clock. This is a dedicated 'show desktop' button. Hovering your mouse over it will allow you to 'peek' at the desktop while clicking it will work just like the old 'show desktop' icon did minimizing all windows. Clicking it again will bring all of those windows back from their minimized state.

6. Easily change the screen resolution
Now it is very easy to change the resolution of the screen. Simply right click in an empty spot on the desktop and click 'Screen Resolution'

 I will continue to update this list as I have time, but here is a link to another persons rather large list of tips & tricks for Windows 7

Windows 7 does not suck

Windows 7 is out on the market and I must give my two cents about it. I downloaded the Windows 7 Beta 7000 in January 2009 and upgraded to the Windows 7 RC in June 2009 so I have been a Windows 7 user for 9 months before its release. I have seen the commercials and read the articles and I have to say this: Windows 7 is not the reincarnation of the Vista release! (or the XP release... for those of you who remember that XP used to suck too).

Here are some of my reasons why why Windows 7 does not suck:

1. As stated above, everyone remembers that when Vista came out it was a big disaster. It was slow, you had to upgrade your PC to one with amazing specs, none of your old hardware worked with it and many of your software programs did not work with it. It crashed, it was sluggish, and a huge change from what you were used to. Windows 7 is not the reincarnation of the Vista release!
     Windows 7 is faster, lighter, and will work with all your old programs and hardware. You do not need to go out and download 'windows 7' drivers and buy new versions of your software. Specifically, Office 2007 will work on Windows 7 just as it worked on Vista. You definitely do not need a new computer either. In fact, if you have a PC that runs Vista it will be by far enough firepower to handle Windows 7 as 7 is lighter and requires less RAM. If you purchased your Vista PC after June 26, 2009 you are eligible for a free Windows 7 Upgrade. If not, there are several upgrade packages. I personally think the upgrade prices are a little steep for one computer but the product is true upgrade.

2. Windows 7 will not have the disaster release that Vista did. The reason is Windows 7 has been beta tested by regular users such as myself for nearly a year. No previous OS hit the 'real world' in such massive fashion until it hit the shelves. Microsoft was very smart in allowing the public to freely beta test Windows 7. No one could truly be unhappy with the issues that came from their free beta versions of Windows 7 and it allowed Microsoft to iron out the wrinkles before putting it on the shelves for people to spend their hard earned money on. This is why I think the Windows 7 release will be a lot smoother than any other Windows OS.

3. The most notable differences with Windows 7 is the improved user interface. The reality is there are a lot of new features that make using Windows 7 easier than old OSs. For instance, the improved start bar gives you a preview of all your open windows similar to how Vista does, but also has new features with Aero allowing you to easily cycle through windows, preview them, go to the desktop easily, and search for programs quickly and easily. Windows 7 also allows you to rearrange the windows on the bottom bar and customize it in many other ways. I know these seem like little things but its the many little things that make Windows 7 rock so much.

4. Comparing Windows 7 to Mac OS is comparing apples to oranges, in my opinion. First, you cannot run Mac OS on an HP or a Dell. You cannot run Windows 7 on your iMac. In order to have Mac OS you have to own an Apple made computer with Apple specific hardware configured specifically for Mac OS - at their cost. Microsoft has to make an OS that will run on all kinds of different brands of personal computers. I am not saying you are not going to be happier with a Mac, I'm just saying I think its apples and oranges. So, when determining if Windows 7 is a good OS you must compare it to other operating systems that run on the same machines (such as Vista, XP, Linux, ect). When comparing Windows 7 to Vista, XP other PC compatible operating systems Windows 7 is newer, faster, and more feature rich.

5. The reason I think Windows 7 does not suck the most is that there are simply fewer, if any, instances where your computer 'crashes'. Sure, sometimes you might have a program crash... and that can be attributed to the software publisher more so than Windows, but overall it really does 'just work'.

6. Honestly, I think peoples biggest beef with Windows 7 is that it is not the same as Vista or XP. I know that sounds weird, but people hate change. They do not like learning how to use new things even if they are new features designed to make your life easier.

In summary, Windows 7 does not suck. In fact it is a fast, efficient OS that you will be happy with. It may not blow you away but it definitely does not suck nor will it be the disaster Vista was.

A YouTube demonstration of some basic Windows 7 user interface features.

Some other useful links about Windows 7 if you are debating about getting it:
7 Myths About Windows 7
cnet review of Microsoft Windows 7 (Home Premium)
PCWorld - Windows 7 Review

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What word of 8 letters contains 21 other words in order?

What word of 8 letters contains 21 other words in order?
I saw this in key west and cannot figure out the answer.
An example is the word "Anthem" which has the following words in order: A, an, ant, the, them, hem.
If you know the answer please or another word like it please post it in the comments below.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Car wouldn't start because battery terminals were loose

I have had issues with my car (1999 Chevy Camaro - V6) lately where my car battery would seemingly die often if I didn't drive it for a couple days. I thought it was a bad battery at first (battery not holding a charge). I would jump it and it would work fine. I kept delaying the simple trip to AutoZone to have them test my battery (AutoZone will test your battery for free) and instead just made sure I did not leave the car idle for more than a day.

Recently I went to Wal-Mart and when I came out after just 45 minutes the car would not start at all. Completely dead no lights or anything. I had someone jump it and it made a lot of clicking noises and almost didn't start before it finally turned over. As I was leaving I turned my dash lights down and right when I did that the car turned totally off. I could not figure it out. I left the car there and the next morning had a friend come to jump it with me. The car would not start, instead I kept hearing firing noises but no vroom. It seemed the battery was completely dead and was not even getting enough charge to start the engine. We let it idle for 20 minutes and tried again with no success.

I then took the battery to a local auto shop to have it tested. They tested it and the battery came back fine.. I was shocked and confused. As we went back to the car I though about how when I took the terminals off the car they came off pretty easily. It took one quarter turn with a wrench and the cables were loose enough to be taken off by hand. I thought perhaps this was the problem and that the terminals simply weren't properly hooked to the battery.

When we got back to the car I put the battery back in and secured it tight. Sure enough the car fired up no problem without a jump or anything and has been working fine so far since. Unbelievable that the issue was so simple. If you are having trouble starting your car and it just doesn't add up that the battery is dead and you think it may be an electrical problem, check the terminals on your battery for corrosion or if the terminals are just loose.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I tore the meniscus in my left knee

About four weeks ago I work up in pain as my knee was throbbing. The rest of that day it hurt badly and that Friday I had a softball game and didn't know if I was going to make it. I ended up going and playing through it. Once I warmed up and got my blood moving the knee stopped hurting however after the game it swelled up nicely and hurt a lot. My knee would hurt on and off for the next week and I played softball 4 days a week and continued to play through it. I went on vacation about 2.5 weeks after the knee started hurting and hoped the rest would allow the knee to heal. Unfortunately it did not and my knee hurt just as much after a week of no games and regular icing and elevating. This is when my wife said it was time to go to the Dr.

I set an appointment at an orthopedic institute and was seen shortly after. Of course the day I went to the doctor my knee hurt in the morning but stopped hurting as soon as I got to the doctor. They first did an x-ray and the x-ray looked normal. The doctor laid me down and pressed on several ligaments and pressure points in my knee. He found one point just under my knee cap on the outside that hurt a lot when he pressed on it. He said he felt it crunch some indicating there may be a tair. He strongly recommended getting an MRI. I was worried an MRI would be expensive but it sounds like my insurance (BCBS) would cover all the $566 of the MRI after a $50 copay.

He said if it is torn I will need surgery, I will find out soon. The surgery is an outpatient procedure where they cut a small hole and depending on the type of tear with either remove damaged meniscus or repair the tear. Either way he said if it is torn that at my age (25) and active lifestyle he would recommend surgery over rehab because of the long term results.

Blogging for cash and blogging to help

I created this blog for several reasons. First to share life experiences that others might find in a Google search that can help them in life if they have a similar experience. Second, to experiment with Google AdSense and analyze the results on getting hit counts, find out how people get to this site and how many people bother to care about clicking on the AdSense ads. It seems so simple to click on an ad and spend 30 seconds viewing the advertisement and it does go a long way for the blogger or website host. However, from what I have seen so far most people completely ignore them.

Anyway, hopefully some of my posts will be useful to others and my goal is basically anytime something happens in my life that I think someone else might benefit from reading about it I will post it. It also gives me a chance to have a 'journal' of sorts.

Anyone reading any post please feel free to leave comments below or ask questions.