Windows 7


There's Something Fishy About Windows

Tropical fish tank screensavers have been around for yonks but now Microsoft has decided to get in on the act with a free Tropical Fish Theme for Windows 7. Itís all there, shoals of brightly coloured fish through and around coral reefs. The only thing to watch out for is that it only works on W7 Home Premium, Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate editions, so all of you W7 Basic users are out of luck. As a matter of interest Microsoft has a number of other new themes for W7, including Galapagos Wildlife, Beautiful Birds, Blue Water and Lugares Coloridos.



Great Start For Windows 7

We are all creatures of habit and my guess is that you run through pretty much the same routine every day when you boot up your PC. If you think about it you probably spend a couple of minutes each day loading the same programs, web pages, maybe even the same music playlists, so just think how much time you would save if it could all be done automatically? Of course there are ways to get Windows to launch applications at boot up, but there is a better way and itís called Start My Day. This nifty little freeware application fire up your favourite apps, web pages and media using a built-in alarm clock so, for example, if you like to listen to your favourite tunes or watch some videos with a cup of coffee at 11.00 am precisely, just tell Start My Day what you want it to do, and it will be done. Very neat and simple to use. It was designed for Windows 7 but it seems happy enough in Vista. We had a few problems with it in XP but it may just be us and you might strike lucky so itís worth a try.



Change Windows 7 Start Button

The Windows Start button has always been fiendishly difficult to change manually, involving a lot of messing around with image files and Registry settings. Itís still quite tricky to do it by hand in Windows 7 but help is at hand in the shape of a freeware utility called Windows 7 Start Button Changer. This simple to use program lets you quickly switch from the standard button to another ready prepared one (and restore the original if you donít like what you see), and thereís quite a few free buttons on the web to choose from. But itís a whole lot more fun to make your own. All you have to do is create three small round symbols or orbs, each around 38 pixels in diameter and drop them neatly into a 54 x 162 pixel frame, fill it with a black background and save it as a bitmap. You can do all that and more with the excellent free image editor Photofiltre. This fairly crude example only took me around five minutes (and yes, I know you can tell, but just imagine how good it would be if I had spent 10 minutes on itÖ).



Playing God With W7

Buried deep inside Windows 7 is a very handy little feature that brings together a host of settings for the way the operating system looks and works. The so-called ĎGod Modeí, which first appeared in Vista (32-bit only). It isnít enabled by default, but if you want to take charge of your Win 7 (or Vista) PC all you have to do is right-click on desktop, click New > Folder and rename it thus:



Now all you have to do is double-click on the new folder and assembled before your very eyes will be a long list of options that previously you had to dig around to find, in Control Panel and well-hidden configuration menus. Be warned, though, playing God is not to be taken lightly so if you are going to have a fiddle, change only one thing at a time then reboot and make sure it doesnít mess anything up.



Ultimate 7 Tweaker

Many of you will remember Microsoftís Tweak UI. For those that donít the UI stands for User Interface and was basically a set of tools, developed by Microsoft engineers on their days off, for making changes to the way Windows looks and works. It did this by tinkering with Registry settings, but in a safe and easy to use way. Sadly Tweak UI, which was never officially supported by Microsoft, was never updated for Vista and thereís been no mention of a Windows 7 version. Not to worry, now we have the Ultimate Windows Tweaker, a third-party utility that takes over where Tweak UI left off. Itís for Vista and Windows 7 and like its predecessor it gives access to hundreds of settings that are normally off-limits to novices. Thereís far too many to list here, but if youíve ever wanted to change the appearance of the Taskbar, disable thumbnail previews, switch off Aero Snap or reduce the amount of time it takes Windows to shut down after an application has stopped working, then this really handy little utility is for you.



Hidden Talents in Windows 7 System Restore

Windows System Restore has got me and I suspect a lot of you out of trouble following a major crash or messed up installation but in Windows 7 it goes even further. A little known feature in Win 7 System Restore (and Windows Backup), called Previous Versions, can recover just about any file stored on your PC. However, in order for it to work System Restore, and this facility must be enabled, so if you are not sure press Winkey + Break, select System Protection then click the Configure button and make sure Restore system settings and previous versions of files is checked. Click OK and if System Restore wasnít on click the Create button to set a new Restore Point (RP). Follow the prompts to give it a name, close the dialogue boxes and you are all set. If something unfortunate happens and you need to recover a lost or corrupted file all you have to do is open Windows Explorer, right click on the folder where it is/was kept and select Restore Previous Versions. After a few moments it should list by date all of the saved versions of the file you are after.



Windows 7 for Netbooks

If you bought your netbook before the release of Windows 7 you may feel the urge to upgrade. Providing it has the speed and RAM it can be worth the effort but the big problem for most users is that netbooks tend not to have CD/DVD drives, and W7 is only available on DVD. Of course you could always plug in an external USB drive but hereís a much simpler method, copy W7 to a memory stick. How you might ask? Well, until now it has been quite tricky but Microsoftís little known Open Source division has come up with a solution, called the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download tool. It lets you make a bootable ISO copy of your Win 7 installation disc on a USB stick, so all you have to do is pop it into the netbook and follow the prompts to install the new OS. XP users note that you have to download and install a couple of NET Framework files first.



Virtual Workaround

Thereís been a fair amount of hype surrounding Windows 7 various compatibility options, that lets you run older XP and Windows 9x software programs under the new operating system. In general they are superior to those provided with Vista, but one of the most useful features, XP Mode, is only available on the more expensive Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate versions, not the Home Basic and Premium versions that most of have or will be buying. XP Mode runs in Virtual PC, effectively a PC within a PC but there is a non-Microsoft alternative. Itís free Open Source and called VirtualBox and it lets you run another operating system on your PC (Windows, Mac or Linux), the only catch, if you can call it that, is that you have to have a licensed copy of said operating system, but assuming that you have a shiny new Windows 7 PC, and an old XP installation disc, you now have everything you need to be able to keep using those old programs.



Windows 7 Shares Your Problems

The next time an application in Windows 7 starts playing up thereís an easy way to find out when and how things started to go wrong. Itís called the Problem Steps Recorder or PSR and basically what it does is log everything that happens when you are using a program, including keystrokes and menu selections. All this is saved in a compressed file, along with screengrabs, which can then be used to diagnose the problem, either by you, or by someone knowledgeable in the ways of the program concerned. Itís really easy to use too, all you have to do is go to Search on the Start menu and type ĎPSRí (without the quotes), click the Start Record button then do whatever it is thatís causing the problem and every action will be faithfully recorded.



Beefed Up Resource Monitor

As I am sure you know one of the first place to look, when your PC starts running slowly or erratically, is the Performance section of Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Del). The graphs for CPU and Page File useage can tell you at a glance how much of your PCís resources are being gobbled up by programs and Services. Well, this useful facility is even better in Windows 7, select the Performance tab in Task Manager as before then click the Resource Monitor button and thereís a whole new world of information of what your PC is up to.


In addition to the CPU moving graph thereís extra graphs charting Disk and Network Activity and Memory faults/sec and these are neatly arranged down the right hand side. However, the best features are the itemised drop-downs for CPU, Disk, Network and Memory. For me the Network section is the most intruiging and it lists each and every conneciton to your PC, including all of the ports and whoís scanning them. Itís fascinating, and at the same time slightly worrying to watch. Thereís all sorts of activity, from mystery IP addresses having a sniff around, to occasional exchanges between the PC and Microsoft swapping who knows what data, so if you have a spare five minutes, take a look and see who your computer is talking toÖ



Change Windows 7 Background

Windows 7 has been amongst us now for a few weeks so itís high time we started a new thread for W7 tips and tricks. Most of the new operating systems whizzy features have been well documented by now so weíll delve behind the scenes and kick off with a simple trick that lets you change the Logon screen.


This was difficult if not impossible to do in previous versions of Windows. Itís still not for absolute novices as it involves editing the Registry, but itís fairly straightforward. Step one is to create your image, and hereís the only caveat, it must be in .jpg format and under 256kb in size. Once thatís done open the Registry Editor (type regedit in Search) and work your way to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\

authentication\ LogonUI\background, double click the OEMBackground key in the right hand pane and set the value data to 1. Now copy your new image to C:\Windows\system32\oobe\info\backgrounds. (If you donít see a backgrounds folder create one). Finally, rename the image as default.jpg and reboot the PC.


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Windows 7 Tips

Something Fishy For  Windows

Great Start For Windows 7

Beefed Up Resource Monitor

Change Windows 7 Start Button

Change Windows 7 Background

Playing God With W7

System Restore Hidden Talent

Ultimate 7 Tweaker

Virtual Workaround

Windows 7 for Netbooks

Windows 7 Shares Your Problems





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