Monthly Archives: September 2007

Speaking of Recovery Tools – Windows Vista Backup Center

I just wrote a post about the improved Recovery Tools coming to Vista in the future. Now you can start using the enhanced file and system protection tools built into Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center today. If you are a licensed user of Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise or Business, you can take advantage of the ability to backup your entire system, yep, everything and restore it back just in case anything should go wrong. I was nearly in such a dilemma the other day, but thankfully I was able to resolve my issue using the Diagnostics mode built into Windows which I will discuss in a future post. So, lets take a look at Backup and Restore Center and how easy it is use.

You can easily access the Backup and Restore center through the Control Panel or type its name in the Search field on the Vista Start Menu and press Enter.

Here you see the Backup and Restore Center explorer which list various task and options for protecting your files and computer. Our aim with this tip is to backup the entire computer. Go ahead and click the "Back up computer" button under "Back up files or your entire computer". A User Account Protection (UAC) dialog will launch, click continue.

Next the Windows Complete PC Backup wizard will begin and start looking for an attached External hard disk if you have one. If it does not find one, the option will be grayed out and the Optical Disk option will be chosen instead. The first step is to choose where you want to store your backup. My recommendation is on an External drive, in my case, the External drive has already been selected, you can also backup to optical media such as DVD’s, but that’s not recommended if you have large amounts of data, for instance, my backup will require 43 GB’s of space.

 

Click Next, here we are presented with the Confirmation page which gives us some handy information such as the amount of space required and the disk/s that will be backed up. Please note, that if you have Windows Vista installed on a logical partition dual booting with another copy of Windows, the system partition must also be backed up. Click "Start backup" button to begin the backup process.

Depending on the size of the backup, the time it will need to accomplish the process will vary, other factors include Disk I/O and memory. My Backup completed within 40 to 45 min’s. During the backup process you can choose to stop if you want.

After the backup process completes successfully you can close the wizard and be happy that your system is safely backed up and can be restored just in case of an emergency such as system failure, inability to boot or device failure. I recommend doing regular backups if you are constantly creating information on your computer, at least once a week. For Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium users, you can take advantage of the new Backup Files and Folders feature. I recommend backing up to an external drive because of the extra safety advantages such as the ability to keep off site.

Doing the Restoration

If you need to do the restoration, here is how you go about it. Start you computer, insert your Windows Vista operating system Disc, and boot from it (Make sure your boot drive is set to the optical drive). You will then be booted into the Windows Recovery Environment.

  1. Choose your language settings, and then click Next.
  2. Click Repair your computer link on the setup page.
  3. Select the operating system you want to repair, and the click Next.
  4. On the System Recovery Options menu, click Windows Complete PC Restore and then follow the instructions.

Things to remember

  • If you are backing up a laptop, make sure its AC adapter is plugged or you will receive an error message preventing you from backing your computer.
  • When you restore your computer from a Windows Complete PC Backup image, it is a complete restoration. You can’t choose individual items to restore, and all your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced.
  • Before starting, make sure that the removable media on which your backup is stored is available.
  • Backups to DVD more than 4.7 GBs will spanned across disk

Andre

 

9 Comments

Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Vista SP1 Recovery disc feature

Long Zheng over at istartedsomething.com takes a look at the new Recovery Disc tool coming in Vista’s first Service Pack due sometime in early 2008.

"One of the new administrative tools Windows Vista Service Pack 1 provides is the ability to create a recovery disc. At first, the name might fool you into thinking the type of discs system manufacturers provide to you when you purchase a new computer to restore your computer to a factory state, but this is not that. A more appropriate name would be “Windows repair disc”.

Kinda disappointed, I was hoping the Vista Team would resolve the issue of OEMs only giving users a Recovery Disc instead of a separate Operating System disk. Yes, a recovery environment is nice, but, the ability to create a backup OS disk would have been nicer so you can reinstall your drivers and just the OS without all the OEM Junk.

Check out the tutorial here

 

100 Comments

Filed under Windows Vista

Windows DreamScene Content Pack – New Dreams!

I just downloaded the Windows DreamScene Content Pack which includes an additional three DreamScene looped background desktop videos. I love the new Waterfall DreamScene which is my default, Brandon Leblanc over at the Windows Experience Blog shows how to install it. Yesterday I announced the final release of DreamScene which is an exclusive feature for Vista Ultimate customers through the Ultimate Extras Service.

Rocky Mountain Fall (looks like somewhere in Nebraska, lol!)

Windows Vista Orb branded DreamScene – The orb glows and shines 😉

This one is a bit difficult, its an abstract DreamScene with some weird marble kind of thingy’s

Related:

How to enable Windows DreamScene

A look at the Windows DreamScene Content Pack Favorites

Oh my Goodness – the new DreamScenes are HOT!

Resources:

Has Ultimate Extras failed?

The Windows Ultimate Extras Drought

DreamScene – The Issues So Far
Forza 2 DreamScene for Windows Vista

100 Comments

Filed under Vista Journal

Review: Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision

Disclaimer: This is a Microsoft asset-tagged item that Microsoft Corporation provided ActiveWin and Teching It Easy for review under no obligation and that it is expected to be returned at the end of the review period.

We conclude our Certified for Windows Vista Devices Review with the Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision.

Features:

· True 1.3 megapixel sensor with RightLight 2 Technology

· Live video: up to 640 x 480 pixels

· Still image capture: True 1280 x 960; Up to 4 Megapixel *(software enhanced)

· Built-in microphone with RightSound Technology

· Up to 30 frames per second live video with recommended system

· USB 2.0 high-speed certified 6 ft. USB cable

· 2-year limited hardware warranty

· Adjustable base fits any monitor or notebook

· Fixed focus

Applications for Windows(R):

· Logitech QuickCam (easily capture, save, and email your web camera’s pictures and videos)

· Logitech Video Effects avatar and face accessory software

· HP Photosmart Essential Software (web download required)

· Skype with free, full screen video calling

· Windows Live Messenger with free full screen video calling

· Yahoo Messenger with free video calling

· Video enabled AOL Instant Messenger Service

For years video web cams have been available to anyone who needed such functionality, even in pre-broadband times. I was always interested in getting one, but certain factors always got the best of me. I either don’t have appropriate hardware, too complicated to setup, no one to chat with and lack lustre software. But it’s 2007 and the more you interact with people online, the more you want to go beyond basic text based chatting. This is especially true if you have close family and friends who are far away and you would like to see them every now and then. With the pervasiveness of broadband Internet, the user experience has also been greatly enhanced, for that you get better video calls in addition to more attractive functionality that goes beyond video based chat sessions.

Setup:

Installation was pretty much uneventful, but suffered from too many wizard pages; something I have noticed when installing Logitech products in particular, this case was a four step process. But, I just wish Logitech had toned down on the configuration processes. I want an experience similar to connecting a Keyboard or Mouse or at least strive to be. Before connecting the QuickCam Ultra Vision I ran setup from the provided Installation Disk. I chose a typical installation which provided me with the essential software to work with Windows Vista. In addition to Vista, the QuickCam also supports Windows 2000 and XP. At the end of the initial phase of the installation, I was asked to Insert the QuickCam’s USB connector. Next up was a dry test run which detected the Camera and displayed a preview video. The first problem I noticed immediately was jerky video, because the table on which I was reviewing from was a bit shaky so, a video/image stabilizer would have come in handy. After this last step, setup was complete from what I could tell.

No it wasn’t, next was configuration, which I consider to be a part of the installation. The Logitech Audio Tuning Wizard began, this part focused on tuning the devices audio settings for optimal use. After eight pages, I was ready to now use the QuickCam Ultra Vision. Not so fast, one last hurdle popped up, a dialog appeared asking if I would like to enable RightLight Technology which adjusts the web cams lighting in different environments, whether dark or bright.

Usage: QuickCam Quick Capture

After installing and configuring, the QuickCam Quick Capture application started which is a similar application to Apple Inc. Photo Booth software. The software provides a number of nifty features such as taking a photo and recording video. Captured video and photos are immediately stored in the Gallery which you can easily minimize for convenience or open pictures in your default photo application. Other handy options include emailing, printing and deleting. The Logitech QuickCam floating toolbar list links to other features such as an Avatar gallery you can use to replace your face in a video with an animated character. I had some problems calibrating my face to work with the provided Avatar, but it should be fun for kids who like to do that sort of thing.

Privacy Shade

Replaces your background with a stock photo, such as an image of the beach so you can fool your colleagues or some other nature based background. There are numerous images to choose from and you can add your own with little effort. I never got this one working properly either, but then again, I really didn’t care that much. It’s something do with the lighting in my room or the calibration of my head I guess.

Web Cam Settings

Provided are a plethora of options for adjusting the QuickCam’s settings, some of these included are Pan and Tilt, Zoom, Fast Tracking, and various lighting adjustments. Other tools include Volume and Speaker, Lighting effects using the RightLight Technology for fixing poor lighting environments, Exposure, Gain, AntiFlicker, Image Orientation and Camera Selector. Application Preferences allows you to select your default video calling application, I chose Windows Live Messenger since the majority of my friends and family use that, but you can also use Yahoo! or AOL AIM if those are installed on your system. Other options include default email client which is strangely enough set to CorelCENTRAL Mail, but provides other popular choices such as Windows Live Mail, Office Outlook, Windows Mail and Yahoo! Mail. You can also set storage options for captured images or video.

 

Video Calling Applications

The Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision supports a wide variety of services, I previously mentioned AOL, Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger, along with these, users can also use Skype, and Logitech’s own VideoCall which you have to download separately. If you want to do more with Video, tools for Blogging, Sharing and Podcasting are also available such as Google’s YouTube, Grouper and Logitech’s Mobile Video. A very nice feature I noticed while going through the Video based tools option, the Quick Cam provides access to tools you can already take advantage of that are installed on your system. For instance, video Editing Tools HP Photosmart Essential is provided as an option to download, but you can readily use the Windows Moviemaker application that comes built into Windows Vista. Video Snap which you can use to capture footage of an item you plan to sell on eBay so in addition to the bland still photograph you are accustomed to seeing in eBay listings, you can add a video to provide some pizzazz.

Design and Technologies

The QuickCam Ultra Vision has a unique design that’s considerably modern and functional. I used the Ultra Vision with a notebook; it was mounted on the laptops display panel, but almost seemed unstable. It just did not feel secure; the advertised “Flexible clip” did not conform to the laptops ridge although the packaging says it works with any monitor. If you are unsure about placing it on top of your monitor, you can also place it on a desk and align the camera lens to see your face.

Apart from being a traditional web cam, you can take up to 4.0 Mega pixel resolution photos; the default is set to 320 x 240 which is appropriate for emailing. If you want to achieve more high quality output you can click the Select Image Size list box which provides a number of sizes such as 960 x 720 (Hi-Definition video) and up to 2304 x 1728 for photos. I still didn’t find the results for the 4 MP photos that impressive, the colour was a bit shabby and washed out, in comparison to my Canon A520 digital camera which produces crystal clear photos with richer colours. Both sides of the camera have buttons for taking photos and video, the middle of the camera has a built in microphone along with the Activity Light button.

Windows Live Messenger

Working with Instant Messaging

The next logical step was to test it out over Instant Messenger. To start using Live Messenger for Video and Audio, a setup wizard was launched when I clicked the Start or Stop a video call button on the contacts conversation window. After adjusting my hardware, the video session began. There was nothing spectacular about it, but I notice the video quality was not that riveting, but was fluid and acceptable. That was pretty much it to be honest with you. There were no issues throughout the chat session. I notice that the recipients viewing quality was not that picture quality although I was receiving a much clearer picture from the other end.

Conclusion

The Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision is nice, just the ability to see the person on the other end is a great treat, especially if it’s someone you have not seen in ages. Although the video capabilities were not impressive, I feel it was more a result of my connection which is kind of slow by DSL standards. But going beyond just video chat sessions, I was pleased with the web cams range of capabilities. The QuickCam software provides nifty features such as the ability to record video so you can easily setup a Podcast and post a video to your blog or on popular services such as YouTube or MSN Soapbox. The tight integration with the Windows Vista operating system gives you choices to experiment and utilize existing technologies built into the OS such as Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker. Although I do not consider supporting specific Instant Messaging services a feature any typical web cam should be able to do that, its nice to know it confidently supports the various services available. If you are interested in purchasing a web cam, this is definitely a recommended choice to look at.

 

Pro’s

Con’s

Compact Modern Design that’s flexible and adjustable Flexible rubber clip does look or feel 100% secure when fitted on top of LCD monitors such as Notebook computers
Certified for Windows Vista integrates well with existing technologies built in to the OS such as Windows Photo Gallery and Moviemaker. Installation and configuration phases are bit too much; I just want to start using the device as quickly as possible.
Supports a wide range of online and instant messaging services. 4 Mega pixel photo qualities are not that impressive.
Adjustable Camera Lens  
Snapshot and Quick Video Buttons  
QuickCam Capture Software – Avatar and face accessory software  
Good focus technology  

In the Box:

· Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision

· Installation CD

· Installation Guide

Ratings:

· Installation: 79 %

· Ease of Use: 86%

· Features: 86%

· Design: 95%

· Options: 95%

· Help & Documentation: 85%

· Price: 90%

Price $129

Check out the Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision Gallery Here

Certified for Windows Vista

Windows Vista Logo Program: http://www.windowsvista.com/lookforthelogo

Logitech:

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/products/details/US/EN,CRID=2204,CONTENTID=11804

System Requirements:

· Windows 2000, Windows XP Pentium 4 1.4 Ghz or AMD Athlon 1.6GHz processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz recommended) 128 MB RAM (256 recommended).

· Windows Vista – Pentium 4 2.4 GHz (2.8 GHz recommended), 512 MB of RAM (1 GB recommended)

· 200 MB hard disk space

· CD-ROM drive

· 16-Bit color display adapter

· OS Compatible Sound Card and Spears

· 1.1 or 2.0 USB port

Recommended system requirements are needed to use Logitech RightSound or RightLight 2 technology features.

3 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Windows DreamScene finally released!

Part of Windows Vista Ultimate’s much anticipated feature/service Ultimate Extras finally went RTW today, well partially. But it looks like things are finally coming together, months after the Ultimate Extras team announced that they would delay the release because of stability and performance issues associated with installing the add-ons. Here is what the team had to say:

In early July, I wrote about The Ultimate Team’s intention to ship the remaining promised Ultimate Extras (DreamScene and the remaining Language Packs) by the end of the summer. Unfortunately summer never really came to Seattle this year—so we missed our cue. That being said, we are pleased to announce that Windows DreamScene is now available.

As most of you already know, Windows DreamScene transforms your desktop from a static wallpaper image into a full-motion video. In conjunction with Stardock, we’re pleased to also offer a number of cool, new animated DreamScene desktops, including “Aurora”. Additionally, you can use your own videos as DreamScene desktops or visit Stardock’s Dream.WinCustomize.com website to download Stardock’s DeskScapes (an add-on to DreamScene) as well as a collection of fabulous content created by Stardock and members of the Ultimate community.

The Ultimate Extras team also explained the changes to the Ultimate Extras page in Windows Vista SP1 which was released to a broad group of testers yesterday:

On a different topic, as the broad beta for Windows Vista SP1 nears, people have noticed that the screen which welcomes customers to Windows Ultimate Extras has changed. Our intent in making this change was simply to broaden the definition in anticipation of a broader range of Ultimate Extras being available in the future—that do  not necessarily map to the original, narrow definition.

Read the entire announcement here

I am happy to at least happy to know that development is still on going and the team is committed to delivering the value Vista Ultimate customers were promised. Windows DreamScene was announced in late 2006 just before Windows Vista was RTMed, it was originally code named Motion Desktop.

Related:

How to enable Windows DreamScene

Oh my Goodness – the new DreamScenes are HOT!

Resources:

Has Ultimate Extras failed?

The Windows Ultimate Extras Drought

DreamScene – The Issues So Far
Forza 2 DreamScene for Windows Vista

 

21 Comments

Filed under Windows Vista

Whip Vista Into Shape – PC Magazine

From PC Magazine

Microsoft Windows Vista is a pretty muscular operating system, but it still needs toning. These three utilities give your new OS more speed and endurance.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2188272,00.asp

 

37 Comments

Filed under Vista Tips & Tricks

Introducing Vista4Begginers.com

Today we take a look at another popular Windows Vista resource managed by  Ciprian Rusen (Co-Editor).

Windows Vista 4 Beginngers is a unique site that focuses on the end user using Windows Vista for the first time or upgrading from Windows XP. This is a wonderful website that carefully guides the user through helpful, well written, detailed articles and tutorials.

Mission Statement

Microsoft’s new operating system – Windows Vista™ brings lots of new features and changes compared to Windows XP. Some of them are significant and some are not. The transition from Windows XP to Windows Vista is a big step for everybody. Even so, IT professionals will learn and adopt Windows Vista faster than most people. But what about the other people, who are not working in the IT business? After years of working with Windows XP, Windows Vista might be much too different and difficult to use.

Windows Vista for Beginners is here to help you. The team behind this site will try to provide simple and easy to understand tutorials about Windows Vista. We will try to cover as many topics as possible, starting with the most simple things like playing music on your Vista PC. You will see the site expand continuously as we will try to include as much content as possible.

Check it out here: http://www.vista4beginners.com

Previously:

Introducing Vistabase

 

100 Comments

Filed under Windows Vista