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Thursday, October 29, 2009

RAM Defragmenter Alternative

Hi friends,
As you all know, how costly the original RAM defragmenting softwares are. So, I've come up with a short and simple tweak tip to free up your RAM memory. All you have to do is follow some simple steps and succeed in freeing up your RAM memory.

1. Open a new notepad file.
2.Type FreeMem=Space(64000000)
3. Save this file with some name like RAM.vbs all you have to take care is to keep the extension as ".vbs"
4. Close this file and then run it by double clicking on it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Use Your Computer Hard Disc As RAM

Everybody knows how costly is to buy a new RAM. SO, in order to get almost equal performance, we can also use some memory from our Hard Disc as virtual memory, which acts as a substitute to RAM. Follow the simple steps stated below to do so....
1. Right Click on My Computer & go to Properties
2. Click on Advanced Tab & go to Settings in the Performance Section.
3. Select the next "Advanced" Tab on the "Performance Options" window. On the advanced tab, click the "Change" button in the "Virtual memory" section.
4. Comprehend the implications of the virtual memory settings. On the "Virtual Memory" window, the "initial size" is the minimum amount of hard drive space Windows will allocate to virtual memory. The "maximum size" is the largest size to which Windows will allow your virtual memory to grow. If you set this setting too low and Windows requires more virtual memory than the maximum, Windows will likely crash or freeze and you will need to reboot. Thus, you should select (or keep the selection as) "System managed size." By allowing Windows to manage the virtual memory, Windows will increase and decrease the size of the virtual memory as-needed. It is not recommended under any circumstances to select "No paging file" because this can cause system instability.

5. Choose your virtual memory settings. On the "Virtual Memory" screen, you may modify your virtual memory settings in accordance with Step 4. Once you have made your settings, click the "Set" button. Windows will ask you to reboot. Once you do, your virtual memory settings will be changed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tricks To Tweak Firefox

Everybody’s favorite open-source browser, Firefox, is great right out of the box. And by adding some of the awesome extensions available out there, the browser just gets better and better.

But look under the hood, and there are a bunch of hidden (and some not-so-secret) tips and tricks available that will crank Firefox up and pimp your browser. Make it faster, cooler, more efficient. Get to be a Jedi master with the following cool Firefox tricks.
1) More screen space. Make your icons small. Go to View - Toolbars - Customize and check the “Use small icons” box
2) Smart keywords. If there’s a search you use a lot (let’s say’s people search), this is an awesome tool that not many people use. Right-click on the search box, select “Add a Keyword for this search”, give the keyword a name and an easy-to-type and easy-to-remember shortcut name (let’s say “actor”) and save it. Now, when you want to do an actor search, go to Firefox’s address bar, type “actor” and the name of the actor and press return. Instant search! You can do this with any search box.
3) Keyboard shortcuts
This is where you become a real Jedi. It just takes a little while to learn these, but once you do, your browsing will be super fast. Here are some of the most common (and my personal favs):
* Spacebar (page down)
* Shift-Spacebar (page up)
* Ctrl+F (find)
* Alt-N (find next)
* Ctrl+D (bookmark page)
* Ctrl+T (new tab)
* Ctrl+K (go to search box)
* Ctrl+L (go to address bar)
* Ctrl+= (increase text size)
* Ctrl+- (decrease text size)
* Ctrl-W (close tab)
* F5 (reload)
* Alt-Home (go to home page)
4) Auto-complete
This is another keyboard shortcut, but it’s not commonly known and very useful. Go to the address bar (Control-L) and type the name of the site without the “www” or the “.com”. Let’s say “google”. Then press Control-Enter, and it will automatically fill in the “www” and the “.com” and take you there - like magic! For .net addresses, press Shift-Enter, and for .org addresses, press Control-Shift-Enter.
5) Tab navigation.
Instead of using the mouse to select different tabs that you have open, use the keyboard. Here are the shortcuts:
* Ctrl+Tab (rotate forward among tabs)
* Ctrl+Shft+Tab (rotate to the previous tab)
* Ctrl+1-9 (choose a number to jump to a specific tab)
6) Mouse shortcuts.
Sometimes you’re already using your mouse and it’s easier to use a mouse shortcut than to go back to the keyboard. Master these cool ones:
* Middle click on link (opens in new tab)
* Shift-scroll down (previous page)
* Shift-scroll up (next page)
* Ctrl-scroll up (decrease text size)
* Ctrl-scroll down (increase text size)
* Middle click on a tab (closes tab)
7) Delete items from address bar history.
Firefox’s ability to automatically show previous URLs you’ve visited, as you type, in the address bar’s drop-down history menu is very cool. But sometimes you just don’t want those URLs to show up (I won’t ask why). Go to the address bar (Ctrl-L), start typing an address, and the drop-down menu will appear with the URLs of pages you’ve visited with those letters in them. Use the down-arrow to go down to an address you want to delete, and press the Delete key to make it disappear.
8) User chrome.
If you really want to trick out your Firefox, you’ll want to create a UserChrome.css file and customize your browser. It’s a bit complicated to get into here, but check out this tutorial.
9) Create a user.js file. Another way to customize Firefox, creating a user.js file can really speed up your browsing. You’ll need to create a text file named user.js in your profile folder (see this to find out where the profile folder is) and see this example user.js file that you can modify. Created, this example explains some of the things you can do in its comments.
10) about:config.
The true power user’s tool, about.config isn’t something to mess with if you don’t know what a setting does. You can get to the main configuration screen by putting about:config in the browser’s address bar. See Mozillazine’s about:config tips and screenshots.
11) Add a keyword for a bookmark.
Go to your bookmarks much faster by giving them keywords. Right-click the bookmark and then select Properties. Put a short keyword in the keyword field, save it, and now you can type that keyword in the address bar and it will go to that bookmark.
12) Speed up Firefox.
If you have a broadband connection (and most of us do), you can use pipelining to speed up your page loads. This allows Firefox to load multiple things on a page at once, instead of one at a time (by default, it’s optimized for dialup connections). Here’s how:
* Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit return. Type “network.http” in the filter field, and change the following settings (double-click on them to change them):
* Set “network.http.pipelining” to “true”
* Set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true”
* Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to a number like 30. This will allow it to make 30 requests at once.
* Also, right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “0?. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.
13) Limit RAM usage.
If Firefox takes up too much memory on your computer, you can limit the amount of RAM it is allowed to us. Again, go to about:config, filter “browser.cache” and select “browser.cache.disk.capacity”. It’s set to 50000, but you can lower it, depending on how much memory you have. Try 15000 if you have between 512MB and 1GB ram1
14) Reduce RAM usage further for when Firefox is minimized.
This setting will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, taking up much less memory. And there is no noticeable difference in speed when you restore Firefox, so it’s definitely worth a go. Again, go to about:config, right-click anywhere and select New-> Boolean. Name it “config.trim_on_minimize” and set it to TRUE. You have to restart Firefox for these settings to take effect.
15) Move or remove the close tab button.
Do you accidentally click on the close button of Firefox’s tabs? You can move them or remove them, again through about:config. Edit the preference for “browser.tabs.closeButtons”. Here are the meanings of each value:
* 0: Display a close button on the active tab only
* 1:(Default) Display close buttons on all tabs
* 2:Don’t display any close buttons
* 3:Display a single close button at the end of the tab bar (Firefox 1.x behavior)
This tricks will improve the speed & load time of firefox. And you will be able to surf faster..
Type about:config in the address bar, Then look for the following entries, and make the corresponding changes. = 64 =32 =16 = 10 = true = 200 = true = 1.0 = 0
Lastly right-click anywhere and select New- Integer. Name it nglayout.initialpaint.delay and set its value to 0. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it recieves. Enjoy!!

General Keyboard Shortcuts For Windows


CTRL+X (Cut)

CTRL+Z (Undo)

DELETE (Delete)

SHIFT+DELETE (Delete the selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin)

CTRL while dragging an item (Copy the selected item)

CTRL+SHIFT while dragging an item (Create a shortcut to the selected item)

F2 key (Rename the selected item)

CTRL+RIGHT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word)

CTRL+LEFT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word)

CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph)

CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Highlight a block of text)

CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)

SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text in a document)

CTRL+A (Select all)

F3 key (Search for a file or a folder)

ALT+ENTER (View the properties for the selected item)

ALT+F4 (Close the active item, or quit the active program)

ALT+ENTER (Display the properties of the selected object)

ALT+SPACEBAR (Open the shortcut menu for the active window)

CTRL+F4 (Close the active document in programs that enable you to have multiple documents open simultaneously)

ALT+TAB (Switch between the open items)

ALT+ESC (Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened)

F6 key (Cycle through the screen elements in a window or on the desktop)

F4 key (Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer)

SHIFT+F10 (Display the shortcut menu for the selected item)

ALT+SPACEBAR (Display the System menu for the active window)

CTRL+ESC (Display the Start menu)

ALT+Underlined letter in a menu name (Display the corresponding menu)

Underlined letter in a command name on an open menu (Perform the corresponding command)

F10 key (Activate the menu bar in the active program)

RIGHT ARROW (Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu)

LEFT ARROW (Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu)

F5 key (Update the active window)

BACKSPACE (View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer)

ESC (Cancel the current task)

SHIFT when you insert a CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive (Prevent the CD-ROM from automatically playing)

CTRL+SHIFT+ESC (Open Task Manager) Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

If you press SHIFT+F8 in extended selection list boxes, you enable extended selection mode. In this mode, you can use an arrow key to move a cursor without changing the selection. You can press CTRL+SPACEBAR or SHIFT+SPACEBAR to adjust the selection. To cancel extended selection mode, press SHIFT+F8 again. Extended selection mode cancels itself when you move the focus to another control.

CTRL+TAB (Move forward through the tabs)

CTRL+SHIFT+TAB (Move backward through the tabs)

TAB (Move forward through the options)

SHIFT+TAB (Move backward through the options)

ALT+Underlined letter (Perform the corresponding command or select the corresponding option)

ENTER (Perform the command for the active option or button)

SPACEBAR (Select or clear the check box if the active option is a check box)

Arrow keys (Select a button if the active option is a group of option buttons)

F1 key (Display Help)

F4 key (Display the items in the active list)

BACKSPACE (Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the Save As or Open dialog box)

Shortcuts Commands In Run

Calc - Calculator

Cfgwiz32 - ISDN Configuration Wizard

Charmap - Character Map

Chkdisk - Repair damaged files

Cleanmgr - Cleans up hard drives

Clipbrd - Windows Clipboard viewer

Cmd - Opens a new Command Window (cmd.exe)

Control - Displays Control Panel

Dcomcnfg - DCOM user security

Debug - Assembly language programming tool

Defrag - Defragmentation tool

Drwatson - Records programs crash & snapshots

Dxdiag - DirectX Diagnostic Utility

Explorer - Windows Explorer

Fontview - Graphical font viewer

Ftp - ftp.exe program

Hostname - Returns Computer's name

Ipconfig - Displays IP configuration for all network adapters

Jview - Microsoft Command-line Loader for Java classes

MMC - Microsoft Management Console

Msconfig - Configuration to edit startup files

Msinfo32 - Microsoft System Information Utility

Nbtstat - Displays stats and current connections using NetBios over TCP/IP

Netstat - Displays all active network connections

Nslookup- Returns your local DNS server

Ping - Sends data to a specified host/IP

Regedit - registry Editor

Regsvr32 - register/de-register DLL/OCX/ActiveX

Regwiz - Reistration wizard

Sfc /scannow - Sytem File Checker

Sndrec32 - Sound Recorder

Sndvol32 - Volume control for soundcard

Sysedit - Edit system startup files (config.sys, autoexec.bat, win.ini, etc.)

Systeminfo - display various system information in text console

Taskmgr - Task manager

Telnet - Telnet program

Taskkill - kill processes using command line interface

Tskill - reduced version of Taskkill from Windows XP Home

Tracert - Traces and displays all paths required to reach an internet host

Winchat - simple chat program for Windows networks

Winipcfg - Displays IP configuration

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Windows 7 Keyboard Shortcuts List

Managing Windows
  1. [Win+M] – Minimize all open windows
  2. [Win+Shift+M] – Undo all window minimization
  3. [Win+D] :- Toggle showing the desktop
  4. [Windows+Up] – Maximize window
  5. [Windows+Down] – Minimize windows / Restore
  6. [Windows+Left] – Dock window to the left side
  7. [Windows+Right] – Dock window to the right side
  8. [Windows+Shift Up] – Maximize vertical size of window
  9. [Windows+Shift Down] – Restore vertical size
  10. [Windows+Shift Left] – Move window to left monitor
  11. [Windows+Shift Right] – Move window to right monitor
  12. [Win+Spacebar] – Aero desktop peek
  13. [Win+Home] – minimize/maximize all inactive windows
  14. [Alt+F4] - Close the active window
  15. [Alt+Tab] - Switch to previous active window
  16. [Alt+Esc] – Cycle through all open windows
  17. [Win+Tab]- Flip 3D
  18. [Ctrl+Win+Tab]- Persistent Flip 3D
  1. [Win+Any number (1, 2, 3, .., 0)] – open the corresponding taskbar pinned program
  2. [Ctrl+Click a pinned taskbar icon] – cycle through the program’s open windows
  3. [Shift+Click a pinned taskbar icon] -run a new instance of the program
  4. [Ctrl+Shift+Click a pinned taskbar icon] – run a new instance of the program as administrator
  5. [Shift+Right-click on icon] – Show window menu (Restore, Minimize, Move etc)
  6. [Shift+Right-click on grouped icon] - Show window menu (Restore All, Minimize All, Move All etc)
  7. [Win+T] – Cycle through applications on taskbar (showing its live preview)
  8. [Win+Shift+T] – As above, but in reverse order
  9. [Win+R] - Opens Run dialog box
  1. [Win+P] – show presentation mode projector options
  2. [Win+G] – show desktop gadgets
  3. [Win+L] – Lock computer
  4. [Win+X] - Mobility Center
  5. [Win++] - Zoom in
  6. [Win+-] – Zoom out
  7. [Win+=] – Magnifier
Windows Explorer
  1. [Alt+P] - Show/hide Preview Pane
  2. [Alt+Up] - Go up one level
  3. [Alt+Left/Right] - Back/forward  
  4. [Alt+D] - Address Bar

How to Unlock the Windows 7 Hidden Themes

The Windows 7 beta has a pack of hidden and locked themes. To unlock hidden themes do the following:
  • Step 1: Open the Explorer (Windows + E) and go to C:Windowswinsxs
  • Step 2: Enter *.theme into the search field. Alternately you can use the * sign on the number block.
  • Step 3: You’ll get the Click me prompt
  • Step 4: Double-click the themes ZA, US, GB, CA, AU to install them.

How to Change Windows 7 Log On Screen

If you don’t want the same old blue log on screen for your Windows Vista, here’s what you gotta do. Go ahead with the steps below.
  • Step 1: Download the file –
  • Step 2: Click on Save and save the .zip file to the desktop
  • Step 3: Open the .zip file and extract the .reg file to the desktop
  • Step 4: Right click the .reg file (On Desktop) and click on Merge.
  • Step 5: Click on Run, and press Yes, Yes, and OK when prompted
  • Step 6: Save the custom .jpg image you want to use to the desktop with the name backgroundDefault.jpg
  • Step 7: Check to see what your primary display screen resolution is. (You can do it by right clicking on any empty space on your desktop and choose screen resolution and then actuate it with your monitor’s specification.)
  • Step 8: Open Paint, and click on the File icon (top left corner), Open, and navigate to and select the .jpg image from step 6. [NOTE: You can open Paint by typing mspaint.exe in the Start menu search line]
  • Step 9: In Paint, click on Resize, dot Pixels, uncheck Maintain aspect ratio, then resize the .jpg image to the screen resolution size in step 7 (whatever be yours)
  • Step 10:Save the .jpg file to the desktop with the exact file name below with the screen resolution size of the image. When completed, close Paint
  • Step 11: In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:Windowssystem32oobeinfobackgrounds
  • Step 12: Copy and Paste the .jpg files from step 10, and from step 6 into the C:Windowssystem32oobeinfobackgrounds folder, then close the window
  • Step 13: You’re logon screen is now changed. You can press Ctrl+Alt+Del to test it. Click on Cancel to return to the desktop.
[NOTE: You can now delete the .reg and .zip files on the desktop if you like.]

Disabling Automatic Startup Programs

If you don't want certain programs or applications to run automatically on startup, there's an easy way to disable them.
  • Click Start
  • Type msconfig in the search box
  • Click Continue in the User Account Control to continue
  • Click on the Startup Tab
  • Uncheck any boxes in the "Startup Items" that you wish to disable or click the Disable All button (not recommended)
  • Click OK
If you need to re-enable any of the programs, go through the same process and check the boxes of programs you wish to run automatically on startup.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recover Your Lost IM Passwords

I am writing this post for those people who have lost their passwords and want to recover them. You can recover your password with a nifty tool MessenPass It is a password recovery tool that reveals the passwords of the following instant messenger applications:

  • MSN Messenger
  • Windows Messenger (In Windows XP)
  • Windows Live Messenger (In Windows XP And Vista)
  • Yahoo Messenger (Versions 5.x and 6.x)
  • Google Talk
  • ICQ Lite 4.x/5.x/2003
  • AOL Instant Messenger v4.6 or below, AIM 6.x, and AIM Pro.
  • Trillian
  • Trillian Astra
  • Miranda
  • GAIM/Pidgin
  • MySpace IM
  • PaltalkScene
  • Digsby

MessenPass can only be used to recover the passwords for the current logged-on user on your local computer, and it only works if you chose the remember your password in one of the above programs. You cannot use this utility for grabbing the passwords of other users. So all those GEEKS who were thinking that it is a Cracking tool I am sorry for broking your heart, but Hey! you can use it as don't you?

You can also use MessenPass
in Command Line mode without displaying any user interface.

Hope it would help you out, if you have any problem leave a comment.

Disclaimer: This information is provided by the author as it is from the application source. The author will not be liable for any special, incidental, consequential or indirect damages due to loss of data or any other reason.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tips To Boost Windows Vista Performance

Windows Vista has some great new security and functionality features, as well as cool eye candy, such as Aero transparency, Flip 3D, and other graphical tricks. But all this comes with overhead that may lead to a performance hit on anything less than a top-of-the-line supercomputer.
If you find Vista’s performance lagging, the good news is that you can make it run faster. Here are some of the steps you can take.

#1: Add more RAM

There’s no denying it: Vista is a RAM-hungry operating system. Whereas XP usually runs great on 512MB, you really need a minimum of a gigabyte to run Vista acceptably. Two gigs is even better, and if you turn on all the graphical features and keep a lot of programs open, especially those that use a lot of memory, four gigs isn’t overkill.
Luckily, RAM is still relatively inexpensive — but it’s rumored to be on the rise, so get as much of it as you can, while you can. You won’t regret it.

#2: Use ReadyBoost

Can’t add physical RAM? Maybe you have a laptop that already has the maximum amount of memory installed. In that case, Vista provides you with a way to fool your computer into thinking it has more RAM than it does. You can use a flash memory card or USB key to boost the system memory; Vista can access the flash memory more quickly than data stored on the hard disk.
It’s best to use a high performance flash card or USB drive for ReadyBoost. When you insert it, Windows will ask if you want to use it to speed up system performance, and then you can allocate how much of the card’s/drive’s memory you want to use for that purpose. The rest can be used for storing data. For more info about ReadyBoost, see this Microsoft feature description.

#3: Get a good video card

If you have enough RAM, the most likely hardware culprit on a slow-moving Vista machine is the video card. You need a fairly high end card to run Aero at all, but some computer vendors are selling computers with graphics cards that run it badly. You can find out whether your video card is the bottleneck by checking your Windows Experience Index (WEI) score from the Performance Information and Tools applet in Control Panel.
The onboard video adapters in most systems aren’t powerful enough to run Vista properly. If you want to run Aero and be happy doing it, get a card that’s Vista Premium Certified. As with system RAM, the more video RAM the better, and if you want to play Vista games, be sure your card supports Direct X 10.

#4: Eliminate extra startup programs

You may find that you have a lot of programs loading automatically when you boot Windows, especially if you bought your Vista system from a hardware vendor who added lots of software. Some of these you may want, such as antivirus or anti-spyware programs, but many of them you probably don’t even use or use only occasionally and don’t want to run all the time. Yet they’re all loading into memory and consuming your system resources — and thus slowing down your computer as they run in the background.
Some programs can be prevented from starting automatically by removing them from the Startup folder. Others are configured in the registry to run at startup. Many can be managed through the Windows Defender Software Explorer, which you can access from the Manage Startup Programs link in the left pane of the Performance Information And Tools applet.

#5: Turn off visual enhancements

There are a lot of visual enhancements that make Vista look like Vista, such as the animations when minimizing and maximizing windows, fading or sliding menus, shadows under the menus and mouse pointer, and thumbnails of graphics files instead of dull icons. However, all this bling uses resources, and if performance is your priority, the operating system will run faster without them.
The Performance Options dialog box can be accessed through the Adjust Visual Effects link in the left pane of the Performance Information And Tools applet. On the Visual Effects tab, you can customize these settings individually, turning off the ones you don’t want, to help speed performance. Or you can disable all of the visual effects by clicking the Adjust For Best Performance option.

#6: Adjust indexing options

Vista has a much-improved search function, but it’s dependent on indexing the files and programs on your hard disk so they can be found quickly. When the indexing process is running, however, it can slightly slow down other programs you’re trying to run at the same time.
You can select the locations you want to index; fewer locations will result in less indexing and thus better overall performance. On the other hand, you’ll get better search performance by indexing all locations. You can’t turn the indexing feature off completely, but you can adjust locations indexed by selecting Adjust Indexing Options in the left pane of the Performance Information And Tools applet.

#7: Clean up and defrag the disk

Fragmented files or a lot of unneeded extra files on the disk can slow down performance. Vista provides a disk cleanup tool, which you can access from Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools. Specify a drive you want to clean up, and the tool will estimate the amount of space you can recover by running the cleanup process.
Defragmenting the disk rearranges data on it so that all the parts of a file are together; this allows Vista to access those files more quickly. The built-in disk defragmenter is also accessed from the System Tools menu. The defragmentation process itself can slow down your computer, so you may want to schedule it to run at a time when you aren’t using the computer. Third-party defrag utilities are also available.

#8: Adjust your power settings

If you don’t mind using more power, you can boost performance by setting your power settings to the High Performance option. Click the Power Options applet in Control Panel and select that choice. By default, this configuration is set to Balanced, which limits the CPU to 50% power during normal operation.

#9: Turn off the sidebar

The sidebar is a cool feature of Vista, but if you don’t use its applets, you can save some resources by disabling it. First, right-click it and select Properties. Next, deselect the check box to start the sidebar when Windows starts. Then, close the sidebar by right-clicking it and selecting Close.

#10: If all else fails, turn off Aero

This is a last-resort option for most Vista users; after all, Aero is what makes Vista look like Vista. But if you don’t care for all the eye candy and/or have a low powered machine, and you still want the functionality advantages of the new OS (search, security, Explorer enhancements, etc.), you can definitely speed things up by going back to the non-transparent look.
To do so, right-click the desktop and select Personalize, then click Windows Color And Appearance. Now, click Open Classic Appearance Properties For More Color Options. From the drop-down list box on the Appearance tab, select any theme except Aero (Windows Vista Basic, Windows Standard, or Windows Classic).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Use USB Flash Drive As Windows 7 Installation Platform

This technique is very cool for two reasons: First, a flash drive is much more responsive than an optical drive, since it doesn’t rely on physically moving components, so the installation procedure will be faster. Second, it provides an easy way to install Microsoft Windows 7 on a system that doesn’t have a DVD drive, such as a netbook.

Getting started

Of course, in order to employ this technique you’ll need a USB flash drive that is big enough to hold the contents of the Windows 7 DVD. The Windows 7 RC DVD is about 2.5GB, and you can expect that the RTM DVD will be at least that if not more. For my test system I am using a 4GB USB flash drive.
Keep in mind that the procedure we will use will completely reformat the USB flash drive. So you want to make sure that you back up any data that you have on the drive before you begin.
The systems on which you want to install Windows 7 via the USB flash drive have to be able to be configured to boot from a USB drive. Most new systems have the capability to boot from a USB flash drive, and the operation can usually be configured in the BIOS or by simply pressing a certain key during bootup. You’ll need to check your specific hardware in order to be sure.

Using the DiskPart utility

As you may know, the DiskPart utility is a command-line version of the Disk Management snap-in and is designed to allow you to manage disks, partitions, or volumes from within scripts or directly from a command prompt. We can use the DiskPart command in Windows Vista or in Windows 7 to configure a USB flash drive to be a bootable device. (Keep in mind that Windows XP’s DiskPart command is unable to create a bootable USB flash drive.)
To begin, connect your USB flash drive to a computer on which you will be preparing the drive. For my example, I’ll be using a Windows Vista system.
Now, locate the command Prompt shortcut on the Start menu, right-click on it, and select the Run as Administrator command. Then, respond appropriately to the UAC. You can now launch the DiskPart utility by typing DiskPart on the command line. You’ll then see the DISKPART prompt, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

DiskPart has its own command-line environment complete with a special prompt.
Now that you’re in the DiskPart environment, you’ll need to locate the USB flash drive using the List Disk command. As you can see in Figure B, the List Disk command has identified my USB flash drive as Disk 5. I can verify that my USB flash drive is indeed Disk 5 by checking the Size column, which lists the size as 3906MB, which is roughly 4GB.

Figure B

Using the List Disk command displays all the disks in the system.
(If you have difficulty identifying your USB flash drive using the List Disk command, you can try the List Volume command, which will provide the drive letter as well as the label, both of which can help you to identify the drive.)
Once you identify the drive number of your USB flash drive, you will need to set the focus of the DiskPart environment on that disk. (This is an extremely important step–Make sure that you select the correct drive or you could accidentally destroy valuable data!). On my example, the USB flash drive is Disk 5, so I will use the command Select Disk 5, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

To shift the focus over to the USB flash drive you’ll use the Select Disk command.
Now that your USB flash drive has the focus, you need to remove all the partition or volume formatting information from the disk. To do that, you’ll use the Clean command. The Clean operation should occur rather quickly. When it is done you will see a success message like the one shown in Figure D.

Figure D

In order to start with a clean slate you’ll use the Clean command to remove all partition and volume information from the USB flash drive.
You’ll now use the Create Partition Primary command to create a primary partition on the disk. After you create the partition, you will see a success message and the focus will automatically shift to the new partition. You’ll use the Active command to mark the partition as active, as shown in Figure E. Marking the partition as active will essentially allow the BIOS to recognize that the partition is a valid bootable system partition.

Figure E

Using the Create Partition Primary and the Active commands, you’ll create a bootable partition on the USB flash drive.
With the partition created and active, you’re now ready to quickly format the drive and set up the FAT32 file system using the Format fs=FAT32 quick command. (While you could format the drive as NTFS, the typical way to format a USB flash drive is to use FAT32.) Once the drive is formatted, you’ll use the Assign command, as shown in Figure F, to allow the drive to be assigned a drive letter.

Figure F

To complete the preparation, you’ll format the drive and assign it a drive letter.
The USB flash drive is now ready. At this point, you can use the Exit command to exit the DiskPart environment and then close the Command Prompt window.

Copying the Windows 7 files

Copying the Windows 7 files is easy. Just open Windows Explorer, access the Windows 7 DVD, select all the files and folders, and then drag and drop them on the USB flash drive icon, as shown in Figure G. Keep in mind that the copy operation will take a little while to complete.

Figure G

Once the USB flash drive is ready to go, you can copy all the files and folders from the Windows 7 DVD to the newly prepared bootable drive.

Installing Windows 7 from the USB flash drive

With the contents of the Windows 7 DVD on a bootable USB flash drive, installing the operating system is a snap. Just boot the system from the USB drive and the installation procedure will begin as it normally would, as shown in Figure H. However, the installation procedure will actually run quicker off of a USB flash drive since it doesn’t contain any physically moving components.

Figure H

Once the system boots from the USB flash drive, the Windows 7 installation will begin as normal, but it will actually run faster.

Get The Most Out Of Bing

Using Google to search for everything is so ingrained into our computer-user personas, it’s hard to imagine using anything else. Even so, Bing does offer a lot of features that make it a worthy addition to your Internet browsing toolkit, once you learn more about what the site has to offer. Here are 10 things you should know about using Bing.

1: Use it as a Decision Engine

Microsoft may be competing with Google by spending advertising dollars in the search universe, but it seems that the actual product has a slightly different aim. Microsoft is calling Bing a Decision Engine and positioning it as a new kind of tool, as described in this press release:
Bing is specifically designed to build on the benefits of today’s search engines but begins to move beyond this experience with a new approach to user experience and intuitive tools to help customers make better decisions, focusing initially on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition or finding a local business.
The next time you’re using the Web to make a decision about buying something, going somewhere, improving your health, or finding directions, give Bing a shot.

2: Find interesting information

Sites such as StumbleUpon and Digg allow you to randomly find interesting Web sites based on various categories. Similarly, the Informational Hotspots embedded in the amazing images on Bing’s Home page allow you to instantly discover interesting facts simply by hovering over the hotspot (Figure A). If you want to learn more about that topic, click on the hotspot’s popup box to initiate a search.

Figure A

Use the Informational Hotspots embedded in the Home page images to discover interesting facts.

3: Use the preview feature

One of the biggest downsides of investigating the results of a search operation is clicking a link only to discover that the site doesn’t contain the information you are looking for. To help alleviate unnecessary clicking, Bing has a preview feature that gives you an idea of what the site has to offer. Just move your cursor to the right of a search result and hover over the orange bullet. When you do, a preview window appears that contains the first few sentences from the site’s home page (Figure B). The preview boxes also can contain Deep Links, which are essentially links found on the main page that lead to content buried deeper in the site.

Figure B

The preview window provides a description from the Web site, as well as links that lead to content buried deeper in the site.

4: Take advantage of the Explorer pane

After you initiate a search operation, be sure to investigate the Explorer pane on the left side of the window for ways to refine your search. Depending on how broad your search term is, you’ll find the Quick Tabs section at the top of the Explorer pane, which automatically arranges the search results in the most common categories according to that topic — kind of like a table of contents. If you scroll down the page, you’ll also discover that the displayed results are arranged according to the categories in the Quick Tabs section. Also in the Explorer pane you’ll find a Related Searches section, which provides you with alternative, yet related searches. The Explorer pane also contains your Search History, making it easy to quickly return to a previous search.

5: Search for images in new ways

When you search for images, you’ll encounter the Infinite Scroll feature. It basically puts all the image results on one page to reduce the amount of clicking from page to page while looking for the perfect picture. To help you quickly narrow your image search, the Explorer pane provides filters for narrowing your search results by using attributes such as size, layout, color, style, and people (Figure C). (If you are searching for an image with people in it, you can narrow to just faces or head and shoulders.) If you find an image you like, but it’s not quite what you are looking for, hover over the image and select Show Similar Images to refine your search to images that share a similar characteristic.

Figure C

You can narrow your image search results by using attributes such as size, layout, color, and style.

6: Get videos and more

When you access the main Videos page, you’ll see an interface reminiscent of Windows Media Center. Featured TV shows and music videos take center stage and allow you to easily peruse the collections. Search for videos, and you’ll see the results as thumbnails. When you hover over a thumbnail, a preview of the video will begin playing. The Explorer pane provides filters for narrowing your search results by attributes such as length, screen type, resolution, and source. (Bing can pull the video from multiple sources, including MSN, AOL, MTV, ESPN, YouTube, MySpace, Daily Motion, Metacafe, and Hulu.)

7: Save and share your searches

If you find a really great set of search results, you know that you can always access them later in your Search History in the Explorer pane. However, you can take your search history to a new level with the Save & Share feature (Figure D). Just click the See All link in the Search History section. You can then select any search and save it to your hard drive or, if you have a Windows Live account, to your SkyDrive folder. You can even share your search results with friends and family via Windows Live, Facebook, or email.

Figure D

You can save a search to your hard drive or SkyDrive folder, as well as share them via Windows Live, Facebook, or email.

8: Get Instant Answers

Often, when you are searching the Internet, you’re looking for a quick answer to a question right at hand, and you don’t have time to scan thru a bunch of search results just to find it. To help you out, Bing provides a feature called Instant Answers. Using your question, a special keyword along with your search term will bring up an Instant Answer. For example, need the find the area code for Orlando? Just type Area code Orlando FL. Want to know who won a specific Super Bowl? Just type Who Won Super Bowl XXX? Need to convert currency? Just type Convert 100 dollars to pesos. Need more information on the types of Instant Answers available on Bing? Just type Help Instant Answers.

9: Create a Collection

When you’re searching for a location in Bing’s Maps and find what you are looking for, you can add the location to a Collection that’s tied into to your Windows Live account. That way, when you need to find the location again, you can just open your collection and quickly access it. Just right-click on the map, select Add A Pushpin, fill in the Pushpin Properties form (Figure E), and click Save. You can then share your collection via email or your Windows Live blog.

Figure E

Creating Collections makes it easier to track down your favorite locations in the future.

10: Set your preferences

To customize the way that Bing works, pull down the Extras menu in the upper-right and select Preferences. You can then specify the Safe Search level, set your location, choose your language, and choose the number of search results to display on a page.

Bonus: Bing & Google

If you’re a big Google fan and are not sure whether you want to rely solely on Bing, you may want to try the Bing & Google site to get the best of both worlds. Using an interesting approach, Bing & Google passes your search term to both search engines and then uses a frame-like interface to display the results side by side (Figure F).

Figure F

Get a side-by-side comparison on Bing & Google

Increase Vista Performance By Tweaking Startup

As you may know, the system requirements for Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate all list 1GB of RAM as a minimum. However, we all know that Vista runs better with 2GB of RAM or more. If you’re currently running Vista on a system with only 1GB of RAM you know that the system can, at times, be frustratingly slow — especially when you are running extremely memory-intensive applications.

Of course the ultimate solution would be to add another 1GB of RAM to your system, but what if doing so is not feasible at this point in time? Are you stuck with a sluggish system? Fortunately, you can bump up Vista performance by trimming back startup programs that may not be needed. By preventing unnecessary programs from automatically starting, you’ll have more memory to spare for the programs that you do want to run.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I show you several methods that you can use to investigate the programs that automatically start up on your system. I show you how you can eliminate or at least temporarily prevent them from automatically starting up.

Using WMIC

You can investigate startup programs using a specially configured WMIC (Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line) command. WMIC is built into the Windows operating system and allows you to tap into a wide variety of application systems, hardware components, and operating system subsystems.

Using WMIC command, you can easily create a very nice HTML-based report of those programs that automatically start up on your system. You can then print the report to have on hand as you investigate whether you can safely eliminate any of those programs.

To create the report, open a Command Prompt window and type the following command:

wmic startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm

When you do, the report will be created in a matter of moments. To access the file, just type the following:


You’ll then see a report displayed in Internet Explorer similar to the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Using a specially configured WMIC command, you can create a nicely formatted report on startup programs.

As you can see, the report is set up in a table and uses color to make it very easy to read.

Using Reliability and Performance Monitor

You can also investigate startup programs using the Reliability and Performance Monitor. Open the Control Panel, click the System and Maintenance category, and then click the Performance Information and Tools subcategory. Then under the Tasks panel, select the Advanced Tools and click the Generate a System Health Report icon. When you do, you’ll encounter a UAC and will need to respond accordingly.

When the Reliability and Performance Monitor window opens, the utility will begin compiling its report, which will take about 2-3 minutes. Once the report is compiled, expand the Software Configuration section and scroll down to the Startup Programs section, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The Reliability and Performance Monitor creates a much more concise report on the Startup Programs.

Using System Configuration

You can investigate and disable startup programs using System Configuration. Open the Control Panel, click the System and Maintenance category, click the Administrative Tools subcategory, and then click the System Configuration icon. When you do, you’ll encounter a UAC and will need to respond accordingly.

When the System Configuration dialog box appears, select the Startup tab, as shown in Figure C. As you can see, the Startup tab provides a straightforward listing of the programs that automatically start up on your system.

Figure C

You can view and easily disable startup programs on the Startup tab of the System Configuration utility.

You can disable a startup program by clearing the adjacent text box. As you can see, the Startup tab makes it easy to keep track of those programs that you have disabled by recording the date and time they were disabled. When you click OK, you’ll be prompted to restart the system to activate your changes.

Using Software Explorer

You can also investigate and disable startup programs using Windows Defender's Software Explorer. Click the Start button, type Defender in the Start Search box and press [Enter]. When you see the Windows Defender Home page, click the Tools link on the menu. Once you see the Tools and Settings page you’ll find the Software Explorer link in the second column under the Tools heading. Once you click that link, you’ll see the Software Explorer, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Software Explorer combines detailed descriptions of each startup program with the ability to disable those programs you deem unnecessary.

As you can see, the Startup Programs category contains a list of programs and provides a detailed description of the currently selected program. To disable any program, you first click on the Show For All Users button and deal appropriately with the UAC that pops up. Once you do, you’ll see that the Remove and Disable buttons are activated. You can then click the Disable button, which will display a confirmation dialog box. To remove a program from memory and reclaim the RAM, you’ll need to restart your system.

When the system restarts, you’ll receive a pop-up message in the notification area that tells you that Vista is currently blocking some startup programs. This warning will display only momentarily, but serves as a reminder that you have disabled some startup programs each time the system is restarted.


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