Monthly Archives: January 2010

Apple Boot Camp 3.1 now with Windows 7 Support

If you are a Mac user running Windows XP/Vista or would like to run Windows 7, Apple has released an important update to its dual boot software Boot Comp which improves compatibility when running Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system.

Boot Camp 3.1 allows you to create a partition just for Windows so you can switch between either Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows. It also includes Windows 7 device drivers which improves compatibility and performance with components such as the Apple trackpad, turns off the red digital audio port LED on laptop computers when it is not being used, and supports the Apple wireless keyboard and Apple Magic mouse. Boot Camp supports the following editions of Windows 7: Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate. Enterprise edition should also be compatible.

If you are planning to upgrade an existing installation of Windows Vista to Windows 7 on an Intel based Macintosh, please make sure you install the Boot Camp Utility for Windows 7 Upgrade, this will safely unmount the read-only Macintosh volume in Windows Vista.

Boot Camp 3.1 is available in 64-bit and 32-bit versions and requires a genuine copy of Windows 7, as well as an Intel-based Mac computer.

 

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Resolving Common Networking Issues

Windows 7 includes many advancements to networking that simplify communication, access to information and resources whether in the home or workplace. Of course, networking can become a complex and daunting task depending how you approach it. Even the most simple projects can develop into frustrations. The Windows Team realized this and focused on incorporating tools that focused on making it easy to setup a home network. HomeGroup, an exclusive feature to Windows 7 is one of the many new networking capabilities that makes it easy to network and share documents, pictures, videos and resources such as a Printer with other Windows 7 PC’s with only a password. In this article, we take a look at some of the ways we can fix common issues associated with networking, whether its connecting two computers or connecting to the Internet.

Tip 1: Fixing Common networking connectivity issue:

This article references Windows Vista but also applies to Windows 7 also. To reset the TCP/IP stack go to this article and either click on "Fix it for me" or follow the instructions to fix it yourself: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/299357

Disable the IP Helper service
1. Hold the Windows key and type R, enter "services.msc" (without the quotes) and press Enter
2. Scroll down to the IP Helper service, right click on it and select Properties
3. In the drop down box that says "Automatic" or "Manual", set it to Disabled and then click on "Apply"
4. Then click on "Stop" to stop the service from running in the current session
5. Click OK to exit the dialog

Disable IPv6
Try uninstalling IPv6 on all interfaces, removing any IPv6 virtual adapters, and resetting the TCP/IP stack. To remove IPv6, go into the properties for each network adapter and either uncheck the box next to the protocol "Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6), that will disable it, or select it and click uninstall, which will remove it off the computer. Then go into device manager and remove any 4to6 adapters, WUN miniport adapters, or tunnel adapters.

NOTE: You should do this for each network connection.

Disable the DHCP Broadcast Flag
Link: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/928233

Important: This section, method, or task contains steps that tell you how to modify the registry. However, serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you follow these steps carefully. For added protection, back up the registry before you modify it. Then, you can restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up and restore the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322756 (How to back up and restore the registry in Windows)

Windows cannot obtain an IP address from certain routers or from certain non-Microsoft DHCP servers.

To resolve this issue, disable the DHCP BROADCAST flag. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, type “regedit” in the Start Search box and then click “regedit” in the Programs list.
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type your password, or click Continue.
  2. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
    “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces\{GUID}”
  3. In this registry path, click the (GUID) subkey that corresponds to the network adapter that is connected to the network.
  4. 4. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  5. In the New Value #1 box, type “DhcpConnEnableBcastFlagToggle” and then press ENTER.
  6. Right-click “DhcpConnEnableBcastFlagToggle” and then click Modify.
  7. In the Value data box, type 1 and then click OK.
  8. Close Registry Editor.

By setting this registry key to 1, Windows will first try to obtain an IP address by using the BROADCAST flag in DHCP Discover packets. If that fails, it will try to obtain an IP address without using the BROADCAST flag in DHCP Discover packets.

Tip 2:

Follow the steps mentioned below to check if your computer has a wireless network adapter.

  • Open Device Manager by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Security and then, under System, clicking Device Manager.‌

If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  • Double-click Network adapters.
  • Look for a network adapter that includes "wireless" in the name.

If it is not set then follow the article mentioned below to set the Wireless network connection.

Setting up a wireless network

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Setting-up-a-wireless-network

Tip 3:

You could also try ipconfig/release and renew command from the command prompt.

Follow the steps mentioned below.

  1. Click on start button.
  2. Type cmd in the start search box and press enter.
  3. Right click on the “cmd” and run as administrator.
  4. Type the commands “ipconfig /release” and “ipconfig /renew” without the quotes.

HomeGroups

If you are unable to access a HomeGroup, try the following:

  • Check your Windows Firewall to make sure that HomeGroup and Network discovery are not blocked.
  • Make sure you enter the case sensitive password correctly.
  • Are both PC’s properly networked? Ethernet cable connected properly, are you connected to your wireless access point? You can check by clicking the Network icon in the Notification Area.
  • Ensure that your Network Location is set to ‘Home Network’. In Network and Sharing Center, under View your active Networks > click the link to your Network type (usually defaulted to as unidentified). When the ‘Set Network Location’ window appears, select ‘Home Network’ from the available options. After selecting this option, the Homegroup wizard should appear prompting you to join an available HomeGroup and requesting the type of information and resources you will be able to share and access.
  • If you encounter a problem with your HomeGroup Password, try changing it on the computer you setup HomeGroup on and try joining again.
  • If none of the above works, try running the HomeGroup Troubleshooter, In Network and Sharing Center under ‘Change your network settings’, click ‘Fix a network problem’ under ‘Network’, click HomeGroup troubleshooter and follow the wizard that appears. To learn more about Troubleshooters, click here

Resolving networking issues with previous versions of Windows

Some persons have reported of issues connecting other versions of Windows from Windows 7 and vice versa. Please note that exclusive features such as HomeGroup is not available to Windows Vista and XP, so you will have to use the standard Network Explorer to share and access resources. The first tasks you can try to resolve networking issues in this regard is to ensure the basics are in place:

  • Make sure both computers are within the same WORKGROUP (for Windows XP, click HERE for Windows 7/Vista, click HERE), additional resources HERE
  • For Windows Vista in Network and Sharing Center, ensure that you have your network configured as Private and that the Sharing and Discovery Settings are set to ON except for Password Protected Sharing.
  • For computers running Windows XP to appear on the Network Map diagram, you must download and install the LLTD Responder component. With the LLTD Responder, a computer running Windows XP can respond to other Windows Vista computers on the network that are attempting to create a network map.
  • To install the LLTD Responder to a computer running Windows XP 

  1. Download the update for Windows XP from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=70582
  2. Run the update on the computer running Windows XP that you want to appear on the Network Map.
  3. On the Software Update Installation Wizard, click Next.
  4. On the License Agreement page, read the license agreement, and if you agree to the terms, click I Agree, and then click Next.
  5. On the final page of the wizard, click Finish.
  6. If you are prompted to do so, restart your computer.
  7. After your computer running Windows XP restarts, generate a new Network Map with the computer running Windows XP included.
  • Check the registry on the Windows XP machine for the error message when you try to access a Windows XP-based network computer: "You might not have permission to use this network resource". See the article at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/913628. This finally did the trick for my network.

Additional task that you can do when attempting to troubleshooting, try disabling all Firewall software (including the Windows Firewall temporarily).

Zone Alarm – Ensure that all machines on the network were in the trusted zone. Go to the Zone tab of Firewall settings in ZoneAlarm free version. Ensure all of your machines’ IP addresses are listed, as well as that of your router or wireless access point.

Norton Internet Security – Go to Norton Internet Security tab, open settings, scroll to bottom, open internet security and firewall options, open advanced settings, open configure, change default inbound NetBIOS, inbound NetBIOS name, and Block Windows File Sharing to ALLOW. Configuring this beast of an app required a lot of trial, error and googling the Symantec site and others.

Windows Firewall – Turn Windows Firewall on or off

Check with the developers documentation if you are using another brand.

If you have any comments or additional tips that you have discovered, please feel free to share them.

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Speed up your system for the New Year!

So we are now at the start of a new year, there are many challenges and opportunities ahead. I do hope you enjoyed your holidays this past December. I am sure many of you have gotten new toys to play with it, especially new gadgets like MP3 Players and new PC’s. Computers in particular are one of the many gifts persons wish for or you might be upgrading an existing machine with Microsoft’s new Windows 7. One of the things you might encounter after upgrading your computer or starting a new computer for the first time is the amount of stuff that might make the operating system start a little groggy at first. This article will show you some of the common task you can do to speed up that old computer or squeeze as much performance performance out of that new PC.

If you are using an old computer, there are some things you should take into account if you are upgrading to Windows 7 – System Requirements. Doing a house cleaning in the operating system might not necessarily be enough to speed up that old computer. Instead a hardware upgrade of components might just be what you need to achieve better performance. The first three things that come to mind are Memory, Processor and Storage. These three components can add a dramatic improvement to your computers performance. One of the great things about running Windows 7 is the memory foot print is about the same as Windows Vista and its more efficient because of a lot of complex low level changes the Windows Team made to the operating system with how it loads programs, services and devices. Anyway, if you do upgrade to Windows 7, here are few things you can do to speed things up even more.

Preparing Disk cleanup

Disk Cleanup – This is always a favorite place to start, because it list many of the common locations where old unused files that are often not needed any more are stored. To find Disk Cleanup, click Start, type: Disk Cleanup. Alternatively, you can find it under Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. When Disk Cleanup is started, you are prompted to select the drive on which you would like to do the cleanup. In this case, its the operating system drive where Windows 7 is installed, usually C:\. If you are running Windows 7 in a dual boot configuration with another operating system, click in the list box and select the drive on which it is installed. Click OK.

Disk Cleanup dialog

An initialization wizard will scan you hard disk to check for areas of the system you will be able to run the clean up on. After the scanning is complete, the Disk Cleanup dialog appears. This window provides a list of areas of the system you can clean up safely. The most common locations are Temporary files, Temporary Internet Files, Recycle Bin to name a few. Other not so common locations include the Thumbnail Cache which stores previews of your images allowing you load them faster when you open the Pictures Library or Windows Live Photo Gallery. This I do not recommend you delete for obvious purposes. Lets dig a little deeper. Disk Cleanup provides a list of areas where you can free up disk space and gain additional speed in some cases.

Location/Type Description Safe to Delete
Downloaded Program Files Downloaded Program Files are ActiveX controls and Java applets downloaded automatically from the Internet when you view certain pages. They are temporarily stored in the Downloaded Program Files folder on your hard disk. YES
Temporary Internet Files The Temporary Internet Files folder contains webpages stored on your hard disk for quick viewing. Your personalized settings for webpages will be left intact. Personally, I suggest you keep this if you are on a slow connection and need the basic elements of web pages you often visit to load faster. Keep It
Offline Webpages Offline pages are webpages that are stored on your computer so you can view them without being connected to the Internet. If you delete these pages now, you can still view your favorites offline later by synchronizing them. Your personalized settings for webpages will be left intact. I also recommend you leave this alone since you might be on a slow connection and need quick access to a webpage with some specific content. Keep It
Recycle Bin The Recycle Bin contains files you have deleted from your computer. These files are not permanently removed until you empty the Recycle Bin. Sometimes you might inadvertently delete a file that you didn’t intend to delete permanently, so before you empty the contents of the Recycle Bin, do a thorough check before. YES
Temporary files Programs sometimes store temporary information in the TEMP folder. Before a program closes., it usually deletes this information. You can safely delete files that have not been modified in over a week. You can view the contents of the temp directory and see if there is anything in there you might need. Open the Run Command (Windows key + R), type in %temp% > hit OK. Sometimes program installers for common applets are stored there that you can use to reinstall such as Adobe Flash for instance if you don’t want to redownload it every time. YES
Thumbnails Windows keeps a copy of all your picture, video, and document thumbnails so they can be displayed quickly when you open a folder. If you delete these thumbnails, they will be automatically recreated as needed. I don’t see any problems deleting it if its gonna be recreated, but deleting it sometimes can correct problems with previews of photos and videos. YES
Debug Dump Files When your computer experiences a system hang because of a poorly written application or device driver, Windows intelligently creates a log of what happened. This log can be used along with other logs such as System error memory dump files to help diagnose the problem when sent to Microsoft or the developer for review. Keep It
System error memory dump files Similar to the Debug Dump files, memory error dumps happen when poorly written drivers or applications crash. It is very handy for utilities built into Windows such as Troubleshooters which help in diagnosing problems that occur in Windows. Keep It

In addition to these common locations, Windows will also store information related to Error reporting and solution checking, leave these for diagnosis that can help resolve issues with applications or devices. Also, if you do an upgrade from Windows Vista or clean install, Windows 7 might store information related to servicing which are logs used to assist the installation of the operating system. Once you have checked these locations for clean up, click the OK button and these locations will be cleaned out.

A folder you might be familiar with is the Windows.old, in a future article I will be taking a closer look at this directory. Its basically a backup of your old installation of Windows, which you can use to reinstall Windows if you decide to return to your previous installation. Also, its used as a last resort in case you didn’t backup your files and need to recover personal files and settings. The Windows.old folder can use up a considerable amount of your hard disk space and reduce the systems performance. Its normally stored at the root of your hard disk where Windows 7 is installed. Before you delete it, make sure you check through the directories and ensure that everything migrated successfully to Windows 7.

System Restore – The Windows Team has added some nice enhancements to Windows 7’s System Restore feature, allowing you to keep a larger collection of System Restore Points in addition to storing them in your System Images of Windows 7. A friend had recently upgraded to Windows 7 and he asked me why he was low on hard disk space. He had a 320 GB drive and only had about 70 GBs of free disk space left after doing a disk cleanup. It was then I discovered that System Protection had been configured to use about 200 GBs of  disk space to keep System Restore Points.

Configuring System Protection settings

To configure System Protection, click Start, type: System Protection, hit Enter. Under Protection Settings, click the Configure button. A dialog will appear with various settings for configuring Restoration and Disk space usage. Under the Disk space usage tab, you will see the current amount of space in use by System Restore while the Max usage displays the amount allocated. Use the Max usage knob to configure how much disk space you want to allocate to System Protection. In the above screenshot, you will see that I am using 21.05 GBs for Restore Points, while I have allocated 22.36 GBs of disk space for System Protection. You also have the option of deleting all Restore Points which stores System settings and previous versions of files. I suggest you leave this, since you will be able to individually restore changes to files you are working on. So for instance, if you edited an image and would like to restore it to a previous version or original version of the file. 

Performance Information and Tools

Introduced in Windows Vista, it provides a lists of your computer’s Windows Experience Index base score, which indicates the performance and overall capability of your computer’s hardware. If you look under the Task pane in Performance Information and Tools, you will see Tasks where you can make further adjustments to improve the performance of your computer.

Performance Information and Tools options

Visual Effects – Back in November I discussed some of the theming capabilities built into Windows 7. Some of these themes are designed for PC’s with limited capabilities. Microsoft calls these Basic and High Contrast themes. To access them, right click your desktop, click Personalize.

Windows Aero Basic – For computers that cannot support the minimum graphics requirements of Windows Aero Glass. Aero Basic features the standard elements of the Windows 7 interface except for the translucent effects and animations. Instead, areas such as the Taskbar, window borders display a blue/grayish color scheme. Other unavailable features include the inability to choose a Window Color, see and interact with thumbnail previews, Alt-Tab Preview, Flip 3D and Aero Peek.

Windows Classic – First introduced with Windows 95, this experience was the flagship theme for Windows for many years and was replaced by Windows XP’s Luna in 2001 but is still included in Windows for persons who are not quite ready for the changes in Windows 7. Microsoft has made some changes to Windows Classic in Windows 7 where menus are concerned. The standard look and feel still exist, but Microsoft has decided to remove the Standard Classic Menu that was available as an option in both Windows XP and Vista. Personally, I agree with this, since the new Start menu offers so many benefits such as Instant Search, easier access to programs, better control (no cascading/off screen sub menus), ability to search HomeGroups, Public directories and detailed results when presented. The new Start menu also introduces support for features unique to Windows 7 such as Jump List providing access to task and recently accessed files associated with a program.

High Contrast themes – If you have difficulty reading or viewing your screen, Windows has for years included high-contrast color schemes that heightens the color contrast of some text and images on your computer, making those items more distinct and easier to identify.

Indexing Options

Indexing Options – Instant Search makes it quick and easy to find personal files and folders you commonly use. To improve the performance of your search experience, make sure the Index is not set to search the entire computer, searching areas such as System and Program Files directory can greatly slow down the performance of your searches and provide less reliable results. You can instead add folders you often search or store files.

Power Settings – In December, we talked about some of the energy efficiency improvements built into Windows 7 that allow you be more productive on the go and also provide better performance in certain scenarios.

Windows 7 extends battery life for your mobile PC, helping you be productive longer while still getting great performance. Power-saving enhancements include increasing the idle time for the processor, automatically dimming the display, and more power-efficient playback for DVDs. With Windows 7, you’re also kept better-informed about battery status.

Get Idle and Stay Idle Longer. An idle processor reduces battery life. Windows 7 reduces background activities and supports the trigger-starting of system services, so your computer’s processor can be in an idle state more often.

Adaptive Display Brightness. The display on a typical mobile PC consumes more battery power than any other part of the computer. Windows 7 automatically reduces display brightness after a period of inactivity, much like cell phones do today. And Windows 7 intelligently adapts to your activity. For example, if the screen dims after 30 seconds and you immediately move the mouse to brighten
the display, Windows 7 will wait 60 seconds before dimming the display again. Learn more here

Startup Performance

We install a lot of applications on our computers. Sometimes, those applications will place special files in areas of the operating system such as the Startup Folder to make launching the application faster. Sometimes a program might even create a special Service that prepares itself when Windows is starting up. If you have a lot of these types of programs installed, some of them can have a adverse effect on your systems performance. To resolve this, you can simply launch the Microsoft Configuration Utility (msconfig). MSCONFIG provides a host of options for managing how your computer starts up and also for diagnostic purposes when your system might not start properly. To launch MSCONFIG, click Start, type: msconfig.exe, hit Enter on your keyboard, or click msconfig.exe result in the Start menu.

 

System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG)

When msconfig is displayed on your screen, you will see the main interface, General (tab), which manages how your computer starts. The main tab we need to go to is Startup. At this tab, we will see a list of items that startup with the system when Windows is loading. Now, there are some programs in here that are essential, but some might not be needed when the computer starts, check out the following table of some of the applications I have that load programs during start up and the ones I have unchecked:

Program Description Check or Uncheck
Kmaestro (x64) This program is associated with my sound card, so I will keep it of course. Yours will be listed under a different name, for instance Creative Audio products might be listed as Creative or diagent. Check
Microsoft Security Essentials This is my security program of choice, yours might be different, you can easily identify your security software under the Manufacturer column, Symantec, Microsoft, McAfee, Kaspersky, ESET or a number of others. Check
Microsoft Windows Operating System This item loads commands associated with essential areas of the system such as Program Files and Windows Directories, definitely keep these checked. Check
Microsoft Encarta Dictionary If you have Microsoft Encarta installed, it also installs a program called Encarta dictionary. I use it a lot to make sure I spell words correctly. If you don’t use it often, then you can uncheck it. Uncheck
Logitech A manufacturer of various input devices such as Mice, Keyboard, video cams and Game controls, this is often associated with an input device of some kind, definitely leave it. Check
Quicktime Apple Computers multimedia software for viewing and listening different types of content such as movie trailers, its rarely used, but usually comes bundled with other popular software from Apple such as iTunes Uncheck
Bluetooth software This is often used by devices such as cell phones to transfer files and some wireless input devices such as keyboards and mice to communicate with the system. Check
Adobe Acrobat Used for viewing Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), this program is not something you are regularly doing I am sure and having it checked does not necessarily add any convenience to viewing PDF’s any faster. Uncheck
NERO Home Aheads popular program used for burning content to optical disks, Nero Home is just a quick way to access certain aspects of the program. Personally, its pointless, you could easily at a Shortcut to the Taskbar. Uncheck
iTunes iTunes is a very popular jukebox software created by Apple Inc. In addition to being a music player, its used with the ubiquitous iPod, one of which I own. Personally, the faster this program starts up, the better for me. If you don’t own a iPod or iPhone, having it checked for start up does not add any significant benefit unless you are using it as your default music player and you have a large library. Depends
Yahoo! Messenger Popular instant messaging, I rarely use it, but even if I have to, storing it in your Notification Area and startup items is just using up precious CPU cycles and memory, definitely remove it. If you do use it, simply pin it to your Taskbar. Uncheck
Daemon Tools I use this program to mount .ISO files which are virtual disk images of programs that are offered in that format. So instead of installing from a physical DVD or CD I just point to the .ISO file of that program and it shows up like a regular disk in the Computer environment. This is not a program used by the average PC user, even if you are not the the average PC user, having it in your start up is not gonna load those .ISO files any faster. Uncheck
Windows Live Family Safety Installed as a part of the innovative suite of products and free services – Windows Live Essentials, it provides parents with thorough parental control capabilities that go beyond what is included in Windows 7’s Parent Controls, allowing you to keep track of your child’s online activities. If you are a parent who shares a PC with a child and already utilize Windows 7 Parental Controls, then definitely keep this checked. Depends
Groove Included as a part of the Microsoft Office Enterprise and Ultimate edition suites, Groove is used for collaboration with colleagues, team work and brain storming. If you are not involved in such activities, then you can certainly uncheck it. Uncheck
Java(TM) Platform SE 6 U12 Developed by SUN Microsystems, Java is a popular applet used by many applications on the Internet or desktop. Certain programs require that Java is installed before they can work. Having it as a Start up item I personally notice does not add any significant benefit except alert you to new versions of the applet. Uncheck
RealPlayer An alternative media player juke box, I use it to download videos from the Internet. Having it as a start up item is unnecessary. RealPlayer has a tendency to pop up annoying notifications too. Uncheck
VMware Workstation I use this program to manage virtual instances of other operating systems. This program simply enables quick access to the VMware interface. I don’t have it checked and the program continues to function just fine. Uncheck
OneNote Another Microsoft Office family program, it is used for note taking, organization and management of information. Its also a handy application if you use a Tablet PC or computer with inking support. If you are in need of those capabilities, I would leave this unchecked. I use it to gather snippets of information I come across on the Internet or need to take a note of. So even though I don’t own a Tablet, OneNote still comes in handy. Depends

There is my list, of course yours will vary because of the hundreds of millions of configurations that exist and the millions of applications available for Windows. If you are unsure about a program, do a search on the Internet about it before unchecking. Keep a small inventory of the programs you are using, look in the notification area of the Windows Taskbar to see what is displayed. Hover the mouse pointer over the icon, which will display a balloon about that program. Also, do a backup before unchecking anything. If you do get confused, the Startup tab displays a button near the bottom of the window called Restore Startup Programs…, which will restore the startup items to their default configuration.

Other things you can do to keep your system running tick tock include making sure Windows, your applications and Security programs are updated. Uninstall applications you are not using anymore (click Start, type: Programs and Features, hit Enter. Right click a Column, click More.. > Under Details check the ‘Last Used On’ box > click OK. This will give you a clear idea of which programs are regularly used and which programs are not. You can also move files such as videos and pictures that are not in use to a secondary storage medium such as an external hard disk or DVDs. Windows 7 includes the ability to remove bundled components that you are not using from the Turn Windows features on or off component, to learn more check out the following article here

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