Archive for October, 2009

What Ever Happened to “Last Used?”

Everyone knows the “programs and features” panel in the control panel. It’s where we go to un-install programs, but it has changed quite a bit since Windows XP. For one, it looks more like and explorer window than ever before. But there are a few features that seem to be missing in the Vista version, things like the “last used” column of the “date installed” column. I always found these very useful in XP,so their disappearance in Vista upset me. After messing around with explorer for a bit, I found out how to get them back! Simply right click on the bar (in details mode), select “more” and choose the columns you want.

Last Used


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*.bat: The Universal Shortcut

If you’re like me and you carry 50 apps around on your flash drive, the drive-letter issue can get pretty annoying. In your laptop, it’s in the H:/, on your desktop it’s the I:/ and at school or works it’s the G:/. This makes your wonderful shortcut’s useless. You could always leave the programs in their designated folders, right? Your app is only ten clicks away! What if you make a shortcut for each drive letter in existence? 90% of your flash drive’s capacity will be filled up with shortcuts! So what’s the real solution? Batch files!

After monkeying around with DOS for a while, I found that a simple batch file can be used as a universal shortcut. Here’s hot to do it:LiberKey

  • Take note of the directories of the apps you’ll be using.
  • Right-click -> new -> text file. Name it whatever you please.
  • Right-click -> edit.
  • Write: “\folder\folder\folder\app.exe” with the quotations. Replace “folder” with the actual folders in your directory and app.exe with the app you want to run.
  • File -> save as -> title.bat . Replace title with the name of the app. Save it to the root of the folder.
  • Delete the old text file.
  • Repeat for every app you have.

And that’s how to make a universal pseudo-shortcut.

if you want to take this a step further, you can add multiple lines so that the batch file will launch several apps or files at once.

The best way to organize you apps in a portable app suite. There are very many on the internet, but I find the best one is LiberKey ultimate. I still had to add a few apps like GIMP Portable and OpenOffice Portable. In total it took up 800 mb, but if you’re pressed for space, you can download the basic or standard suites, which take up much less. Get it here.

Note: I can vouch for LiberKey’s false-positive virus claim. I scanned my copy with Norton 360 and found no viruses whatsoever.

EDIT: PStart is a better alternative to Liberkey.

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Cleaning Up your Taskbar, One Middle Click at a Time

I’ve come across this this great little app called “Taskbar Shuffle.” Essentially, what it does is enable you to re-order open windows in you taskbar, re-order notification area (or system tray) icons, and close open windows with a simple middle-click! You will never know how much you need it until you download it! Personally, I wouldn’t set it to start with Windows right away. I did this and found myself accidental closing open windows like Thunderbird while it was receiving mail. Later, once you get used to having it running, check the empty box in the options menu (in the notification area).

Download it here.

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HP Pavillion dv9000z Review

I’ve been waiting for this moment for a while now; it’s time to review my own computer. I’ve had it for 2 years now, so everything I say is from experience.

The Good: Large screen, relatively fast graphics, turn-off track-pad, 2 headphone  jacks (one SPDIF), express-card slot, FireWire, Expansion Port 3, S-Vid in, LightScribe, number pad (note: the model in the picture has no number-pad, but mine does ), multi-card reader, Altec Lansing speakers.

The Bad: Wireless G, 2gb RAM limit, no Bluetooth, touch-sensitive volume control, Quickplay.

Annoyances: Screen locks closed, too much shiny crap that my OCD brain must keep spotless.

Overview: When I bought this Laptop, it was top-of-the-line, but now, two years and a reformat later it’s beginning to feel old. It can still handle games like Halo 1, and barely Halo 2 (which I stupidly bought without reading the label). Overall, it’s only needed two repairs, one for the WLAN cars and one for the battery. One great feature is that it has an IR-in port, and comes with a IR remote (now note that the only programs that have ever worked with this remote are Quickplay and Foobar2000, and only whan they are the active window). The volume controls are where it gets a little messy. The make a sharp clicking sound whenever they are touched. It really interrupts music and video playback. The touch sensitive playback controls also only work with Quickplay or Foobar200, but only when they are the active window. The Pavilions have been known to have an abundance of media ports. I personally have 10 different types. Other models have an HDMI-out, but have to sacrifice LightScribe. The Altec Lansing speakers are amazing. The sound quality really equal to that of external speakers! It’s a bit annoying that a notebook of this caliber doesn’t have built-in Bluetooth. I already mentioned how much I hate Bluetooth mice, but I still need it to sync my phone right? A while ago I wanted to jump to the 32-bit limit of 3gb of RAM. I ran a scan and found that I was physically limited to 2gb because my card-maker only makes 1gb sticks. I have 64mb integrated graphics. Not great for in general, but pretty good for a laptop. HP has this thing with shiny stuff that I really don’t get. the screen frame is shiny, the track-pad border is shiny, the USB ports are shiny. Get this HP: OVERKILL. There are always fingerprints on this thing, no matter what I do!

Overall, this is a great laptop. If I could go back in time, I would have recommended it to you in 2007. But still, just staying competent today is quite a feat. I’m going to be doing a lot more reviews, so stay tuned!

For the record, I don’t actually have OCD.

EDIT: I found a way to turn off the clicking noise in the BIOS!

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Waiting for Windows 7

Back to Windows news, where I belong.

So tomorrow marks the release date of Windows 7 and I have to say I can’t wait to see what Microsoft does to promote it. Who knows? I’m not going to jump to 7 right away. I want to wait until most programs are support Windows 7. By the time sp1 comes out, I’ll probably be ready. I also have to rack up the cash… I use a custom Vista theme that I’d like to keep, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and hope some one ports it.

I used the RC for a little while at the computer store, but no more than that. From what I’ve heard, it’s more than Vista should have been (although a lot of Vista’s criticism was unjustified). I found it smooth and very responsive, but I think the fact that it was installed on a $5 000 Alienware powerhouse may have contributed…

I really don’t see how Apple can rain on Microsoft’s parade here. Microsoft’s bullet-proof ad campaign got everyone psyched really early, and now everyone’s patience has been rewarded. Once I get it I will certainly review it.

Has anyone here actually installed it on their own machine? I want to hear some opinions!

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