One way to get Windows to load faster is by using the System Configuration utility (aka Msconfig) to disable programs that start unnecessarily when you boot the operating system. To view this list in XP, click Start>Run, type msconfig, press Enter, and click the Startup tab. In Vista, open your Startup list by pressing the Windows key, typing msconfig, pressing Enter, and clicking the Startup tab.
The fact is, you don't need all of the services that Windows starts automatically when it boots. Disabling the non-essential services frees up memory and processor cycles for more important tasks. The trick is knowing which of Windows' automatic services you can do without: disabling the wrong service can render your system unusable. If you're careful, you can figure out which automatically enabled services your PC can do without.
Things would be so much simpler if I could just list which services to disable, but each Windows configuration is unique, so there's no way to predict which … Read more
There's a great little feature in Microsoft Word 2003 and earlier versions of the word-processing program that lets you export to PowerPoint an outline of any Word file formatted with headings. I admit that it's a specialized operation that probably doesn't get used all that often, but it's a handy way to work between the two Office apps.
I was all set to tell you how to use the feature in Word 2007 when I realized it has been removed. So all that noise Microsoft made when the new Office System was released more than a … Read more
Why would anyone start futzing with their PC if the machine is working OK? Two reasons: to make it safer and to make it faster. Dividing your hard drive into multiple partitions accomplishes both. By separating your applications and data from Windows' system files, you speed your backups and protect your files and programs from being wiped out if Windows conks out.
Windows Vista lets you create new partitions (which it calls "volumes") quickly and simply via the Disk Management utility. Unfortunately, the only quick and simple way to partition a hard drive in XP is to use … Read more
It didn't take long after installing Canonical Ltd.'s Ubuntu 7.10 version of Linux for me to decide I liked what I saw. A quick tour of the Applications, Places, and System menus indicated that converting from Windows to Linux would be relatively seemless. The only fly in the ointment was my inability to get any of three wireless adapters to work with the OS.
World-class applications without paying a dime I expected to find the Mozilla Firefox browser bundled with Ubuntu, and seeing links on the Applications*Office menu to OpenOffice.org's Database, Presentation, Spreadsheet, and … Read more
Running Linux from a CD in Windows doesn't get you much closer to computing in a Windows-less world. To make Windows and Linux and either-or proposition, you have to set your PC to dual-boot. With Canonical Ltd.'s Ubuntu 7.10, a.k.a. Gutsy Gibbon, the repartitioning is done for you during installation.
Before you install Ubuntu, create a full system backup. Creating a system restore point may not be sufficient, because a misstep during installation could render Windows unbootable. Make sure that you've got your restore CD/DVD handy, and that your system is set to … Read more
This is the year I kiss Windows good-bye. Well, maybe not entirely, but the writing is on the wall for Microsoft's flagship operating system, and all other desktop bloatware: The future of PC software is open source. (I'll add that the future of PC applications is on the Web, which I'll cover once we've got Ubuntu in place.)
Being the belts-and-suspenders type, I'll make the conversion from proprietary to open in baby steps, the first of which is to get a copy of Ubuntu 7.1 (a.k.a. Gutsy Gibbon), the version of Linux … Read more
My 3-year-old Hewlett-Packard PC stopped playing optical discs a couple of months ago. Not only were the built-in DVD and CD-ROM drives out of commission, I couldn't even get a brand-new external DVD drive to work. I searched and searched for driver updates, but came up empty. It wasn't until I happened upon a Registry patch on Chris Pirillo's great Lockergnome site that I got the machine to recognize the optical drives.
The patch was provided by a volunteer who had no affiliation with HP, Microsoft, or the drive vendors. It's not uncommon for PC experts … Read more
A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board allows companies to restrict the use of their e-mail systems for union activities by their employees. The case dates back to 2000, at which time a union official for the Register-Guard newspaper in Eugene, Oregon, sent three union-related messages. The NLRB found that since the newspaper had a policy in place that restricted use of e-mail for "non-job-related solicitations" for outside organizations, it was within its rights to ban such messages.
What a surprise!
If your work entails use of your employer's e-mail system--whether or not the company … Read more
One feature in Microsoft Word has saved me more time than all the other doodads in the program put together: Styles. I frequently edit Word documents created by other people. The first thing I do after opening their files is to reformat them so they're easier for me to work on. I created a handful of styles that let me make the changes in an instant via custom keyboard shortcuts.
The favorite font style of one of the tech writers I work with regularly is 10-point Bookman Old Style, which I find close to unreadable. Another writer I edit … Read more