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Add context option to open file in administrator level Notepad

One of the more irritating oversights in Windows 7 is that when you open configuration files from Windows Explorer (txt, ini, etc), they open in Notepad as expected, but when you go to save, only then do you realize that you didn’t have admin rights and your work is wasted.

Sick of wasting my time this way, I found a little hack that adds a context option to the right-click menu in Explorer so you can open any file in an Administrator-level version of Notepad. You still get a UAC warning, but that’s fine. At least it works.

Here it is

Firewall Flowchart

I always recommend having a Software Firewall on your computer, but the one catch is that you have to know what to do when you get an alert. It's not very hard once you've seen it once or twice, but to help you walk through it, I've made this firewall flowchart:

Click on the image for a larger view

Just start at the green oval and answer the yes/no questions to trace your way through.

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5 Things I Love and 3 Things I Hate About Windows 7

The new Windows is actually very good. Some of the new features are huge time savers and make work faster and more efficient than ever. Here are a few:

Things I Love about Windows 7

Program search

Navigating through a series of menus, no matter how well organized causes a delay in launching programs. For the stuff you use the most, you can just make desktop or taskbar shortcuts, but every now and then you want to run a program you haven't used in a while (and may not remember where it is).

Click in the white text box and type what you want

Using the program search feature of the start menu, you can click the windows button, type a few letters in the search box and up come any matches. Using it, I can find my programs much faster than hunting around in the start menu. It's even better when using someone else's computer where there may be little to no organization to the programs at all!

Matching program names or menu items will appear.

Alt+Tab

The Alt+Tab menu in Windows XP

One problem with having many windows open at once in XP is when you hit Alt+Tab to scroll through the open programs, you only see the program icon which isn't very helpful if you have many browser windows open.

Improved Alt+Tab function in Windows 7

Windows 7 fixes that by using thumbnails of the windows making it far easier to tell WHICH browser window is the one you want. You can very easily see which one you want visually particularly ones that are animated, games, or movies. The thumbnails for these types of windows will be animated too instead of just static images!

Note! If a movie/game is minimized, the thumbnail will not be animated.

Win+Tab

This is a completely new feature from Windows XP, but if you press the windows key and tab, you'll get a scrollable series of large thumbnails. While still holding the windows key, continue to press tab and they'll file forward similar to flipping through a roladex.

The main difference between this and Alt+Tab is that it looks way cooler and the "thumbnail" is actually about half the size of the screen making it even easier to identify the window you want.

Bonus: Both Alt+Tab and Win+Tab include the desktop as one of your windows.

Grouped Taskbar Icons

This is actually a feature I really hated in XP. When it grouped my windows on the taskbar, it made it impossible to quickly click from window to window since I'd have to find the group and then figure out which in that group was the one I wanted.

With Windows 7, all windows for the same program (multiple Explorer windows or Firefox windows etc) will be next to each other on the taskbar. The default is to group them if the taskbar gets full (just like XP), but now, when you hover over a grouping, it shows you a series of thumbnails. When you see the one you want, you can just click it to open that window.

Instead of reading each title, you can tell in an instant which one you want. Even better, the function still works even if you turn grouping off. Just hover over any Firefox window for example and you'll still get a thumbnail list for all open Firefox windows.

Windows Explorer Thumbnail Size Control

Click this on the upper right...
... and you get this menu

For someone who uses images a lot in graphic and web design not even counting the thousands of family photos lying around, I often found myself using the old hack to increase the size of thumbnails in explorer.

Now, thumbnail size is built right into the view options of Windows explorer. You can select medium, large, and extra large (there are some other options, but they don't produce thumbnails):

Medium Thumbnails
Large Thumbnails
Extra Large Thumbnails

Things I Hate About Windows 7

And while there are some great new things about Windows 7, there were certainly bound to be a few things that aren't as good. Here are a few:

User Access Control

Ok, granted this doesn't bother you near as much as it used to in Vista and that's a HUGE improvement. BUT! Why, oh why, is it necessary to be prompted EVERY time a program opens? Firewalls have had a "remember my choice" function since they were created so, what? Microsoft hasn't noticed? They didn't think perhaps I don't want to be asked every single time!?

I'm sure the Microsoft programmers are smart enough to have been able to put a "always allow" and "always deny" option on their UAC prompts. I mean, seriously What excuse do they have for making this kind of mistake after all this time?

Driver Signature Enforcement

In the 64 bit versions of Windows 7, certain programs and hardware will no longer work because they can't afford to purchase Microsoft certification. Either that or it's an old program of yours that you really love, but isn't being actively developed. Because of this restriction, you have to say goodbye… or do you?

Fortunately, there's a workaround for this so if you can't figure out why your hardware is unresponsive or certain programs won't work while others do, try this trick.

Folders Refuse to Expand in Windows Explorer

While browsing around in Windows Explorer, you may have noticed an unpleasant change. It used to be that if you click a subfolder, the folder listing on the left would auto-expand all folders at the same level.

This is the kind of thing that you either notice becuase it bothers you as much as it does me or you don't notice at all because you don't use Explorer the same way. If so, no worries, but if you hate it like I do, here's a simple fix to make it work like it used to.

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Force Windows 7 To Install No Matter What Kind of Key You Have

If you lose or break your original installation CD for Windows 7, you're going to have a tough time. Maybe your neighbor has a copy, but it's the home edition and you have the pro. What can you do? Right now, a Windows 7 installation key is specific to the type of disk. However, all is not lost thanks to the Ei.cfg removal utility.

Although your Windows installation disc may say "Home Premium Edition," it still contains the other versions (such as Pro or Ultimate) on the disc—it just has a very small file called ei.cfg that tells the disc what version to install. The ei.cfg Removal Utility creates a new ISO of your install disc that ignores this file, thus letting you choose what edition you want when you start the installer.

It won't let you upgrade for free since your key will still have to match the version installed, but at least if you and your neighbor have a matching bit version (32 or 64) of Windows 7, you can use their disk for your reinstallation regardless of which package they purchased. Also, for people who routinely help friends with their computers, having a generic disk that can install any version of Windows easily is a huge help and cost savings.

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Wrapping Text in PowerPoint

A friend asked me today how to wrap text around an image in PowerPoint and it occurred to me that I had never done or even tried to do that. So I looked up the answer and found this from Microsoft's webpage:

We want to wrap this
There! That's better!

The trick is to use a built in Microsoft function called the tab key. That right… there is no function. First you put your graphic behind the text (and make sure the textbox doesn't have a background color). Then, Microsoft's own tutorial says you have to use tabs or the spacebar to create empty space over the image.

"Sure", you say, "but that's an irregular object. If I want to wrap around something square on the left or right, that should be much easier right?" Rest assured, it is.

In that case, all you have to do is create three different text boxes. One above the image, one to the side, and one below. Use the same font and size and be sure to place the boxes so they look like the text in the top flows to the one on the side then bottom when they're actually just three different boxes.

Seriously! Those are the instructions for wrapping text. What kills me is that sounds exactly like what I'd tell someone as a hack to make it work when no other way exists which must mean that it's an unsupported feature in PowerPoint. I can only assume that there's so little demand for this feature that they still haven't bothered to add it even to their 2007 version of office. Tags: , , ,

Microsoft Courier – Touch-Enabled Multi-screen Tablet PC

Microsoft's Courier PC

Today I found this article and short video talking about Microsoft's upcoming Courier Tablet PC. The device is a computer, but uses your fingers and a special pen for its navigation and input. This shows a lot of promise in making computing more intuitive.


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UK Police Can Hack Citizens Computer Without Warrant

This comes from a long string of stories about how bad privacy is getting in the UK. As bad as it’s become in the US, apparently our friends out there have it much worse.

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UK Loses Data on Over Half its Entire Population

They had it, they shouldn’t have, now they lost it. Same story all over.

The funniest part of this is that they’re trying to convince their public that it’s a good idea to have a national ID card containing even more data and that they’ll be responsible with that data.

Said someone from an anti-ID card group:

“It’s inevitably good news for our campaign because it proves to people that this government, and indeed any government, cannot be trusted with this amount of information. For 25 million people this is a catastrophe but it is just a small herald of the national ID scheme which would mean a potential catastrophe for 60 million of us.”

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Beware Blu-Ray Surprises

Simply put, media should be media, programs should be programs. Putting code or commands into media like movies, music, e-mail etc allows for viruses or worse and no one should have to worry about that. Well, worry. If you put the new Blu-ray Iron Man movie into your computer it will try to connect to the Internet and download something (some horrible DRM program probably?). Tags: ,

Support Firefox, Help them Break a Record

Download a copy of Firefox 3 this Tuesday the 17th. Send a message that we’re tired of big-company products that aren’t stable, aren’t standard, aren’t secure, and can’t be customized.

Update

It looks like they managed to get about 8 million downloads in 24 hours.
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