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Today I will share two Windows 7 tricks; How to Search the Internet from the Start Menu, and How to Customize the Shutdown Button.

Searching the Internet from the Start Menu

Windows 7 Search Internet

The search box functionality in Windows 7 (from the Start Menu) is a great way to find any file, folder or document located on your computer or any attached drives. There is a little known secret you can enable that will also make your life easier- you can use that same functionality to perform Internet searches as well. How you might ask? Its simple…

  • Go to the search box in your start menu and type GPEDIT.MSC, then hit enter and the Group Policy Editor should open. (Note this will not work on Windows 7 Home Editions, only Pro and Ultimate)
  • From there, select User Configuration, Administrative Templates, then Start Menu and Taskbar.
  • You should  see “Add Search Internet link to Start Menu.” Select this.
  • You have now enabled Internet Search.

From now on, whenever you start typing in the search box, a link titled “Search the Internet” will now appear above . When you click on that link your default browser will open a search.

Customize the Shutdown Button

When you click the shutdown button, by default, it turns off your computer. However, you can change this to any of the other shutdown functions you like quite easily.

Right click on the start button and select properties. You will not have a window with three tabs- Taskbar, Start Menu, and Toolbars. Click the Start Menu tab. You will see a drop-down titled “Power button action.” Select the action that you will like to show up as default. The choices are: Shut Down, Log Off, Lock, Restart, Sleep and Switch User. Once you make your selection click OK- and you should be all set.

How to Change the Windows Explorer Launch Folder in Windows 7?

October 8th, 2012 | Posted by Costea Lestoc in Easy Tips - (0 Comments)

When you click on the Windows Explorer icon pinned to the task bar in Windows 7, the library folder opens by default. Naturally, if you are looking for something this is a logical place to start- however you can change this default activity very easily.

If you would like to change this setting here is how:

Right click the Windows Explorer icon on your task-bar, then left click on properties.

A new dialogue box will open allowing you to edit the target field. This is where you will specify the default action.

Notice this syntax is default: %windir%\explorer.exe c:\Folder. Instead of “Folder” you can specify a specific folder instead if you like. For example; if you want to open a folder titled “Special” located on the C drive simply put “Special” at the end: %windir%\explorer.exe c:\Special.

To open other specific locations you will need to provide the special syntax for that specific folder. Below are some of the commonly used syntax’s for specific preset locations:

  • My Computer: %windir%\explorer.exe ::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
  • My Library: %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe
  • My Network Places: %windir%\explorer.exe ::{208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}
  • My Documents:%windir%\explorer.exe ::{450D8FBA-AD25-11D0-98A8-0800361B1103}

After you change the target field, click on OK and you are done.

The next time you click on the Windows Explorer icon the new directory location will open up as default.

Windows Vista was the first operating system to integrate the User Account Control (abbreviated: UAC) security features. The purpose of UAC is to alert users while doing certain operations on requested of their system. The feature has been much improved Windows 7; mostly by scaling it back.  The UAC in Windows Vista was widely criticized for being to restrictive. However if you wish, you can still modify the User Account Control settings. The below steps will help you to switch this function on or off. You can also change the defaults, and how restrictive the control is in response to certain program requests.

UAC Settings Pop-Up

To modify any of these settings, click on Control Panel. Then navigate to User Accounts and Family Safety.

Now, click on User Accounts and then click Change User Account Control Settings.

A new screen will appear; scroll down and select your level of protection. Here is a brief overview of the following options to help you select the one that is right for you:

Always Notify Me: This option will tell UAC to alert you when a new program is trying to be installed,an existing program tries to change something in your system; or whenever you make system wide changes.

Default: In this case, UAC will only notify when a program tries to make a critical change in your system.

Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my desktop): This is almost identical to the default settings; however with one big change – the desktop will not dim; and instead another prompt will ask you to approve some action. This is slightly easier to miss- and is not recommended for beginner users.

UAC Setings Never Notify Me Option

Never Notify Me When: If you choose this option, UAC will not operate. This however circumvents some of the security features of Windows 7 and is not recommended.

After you have select and option, click ok and restart your system.  Now you have successfully changed your User Account Control Settings.

Social media presence for your business is now more important than ever. The big G (Google) loves social links these days and a solid profile in the leading social networks can definitely improve your traffic. A crappy inbound link profile still hurts; but if you’re a hit among social media users, then your site might just be gaining momentum in search engine results as a result.

Facebook is a quasi competitor of Google; however if your posts or images are liked by many that may encourage Google to think that you actually have good content. Many businesses maintain Facebook and Twitter accounts, and use those to connect with their clients and followers on a real-time basis.  However; this has led to an explosion of corporate accounts on these type of sites- and it is getting increasingly more difficult everyday for companies like Facebook to sort out who has a legitimate business- and who is just creating a fake account. In fact, a recent audit concluded that over 80 Million Facebook accounts were fake or duplicates of other accounts.

dislike

Many duplicate or unoriginal posts get thousands of likes these days; so much so that even Facebook has started to think it over. This was never the original intention behind Facebook’s sharing functionality. As Facebook has evolved, the company has increasingly decided to crack down on this type of abuse and spam.  However the company has also been accused of inflating the fake “like” number, by counting likes not as actual likes on the website or post itself, but taking the liberty of adding a like to a post every time a certain article is shared, or linked to by a poster.  Hmm.

It starts with purging of user accounts believe to be fake , which exist solely for the purpose of producing “likes”. Fake “likes” harm Facebook ads, and take value away from the entire brand. Facebook officials have also begun taking action against abusers by deleting or restricting low-end advertisements. Google has also started trying to disassociate the ranking post or website from simply how many “likes” or “dislikes” it may have. The actual quality of the website is obviously the most important factor in search rankings- however in the past a large umber of “likes” could boost your rankings temporarily; motivating the creation of millions of fake accounts for spamming purposes. None of this is anything new to web developers- in fact these methods have in the past been exploited by “black-hat” SEO to get sites to the top of search rankings quickly.

Those expected to benefit the most from these changes are legitimate users of Facebook and those who are looking for high-quality original content.  Twitter has also been cracking down on “Tweet” abuse off late- and I’m sure will continue to cut down on fake accounts over there as well.

Wear and tear takes a toll on your body over time. Tension and stress in the workplace can compound this problem and RSI can become a serious problem over time. Repetitive stress injury is a real concern for anyone doing repetitive tasks on a daily basis- such as typing, data entry, and research.

Frequent usage of conventional mouse is unavoidable nowadays, no matter what your job entails- odds are it involves using a computer at some point. Most of us type and scroll a mouse quite extensively in our daily routine and the nature of this repetitive injury can cause repetitive stress injuries over time all by itself- with no other outside factors. We can’t stop working; it puts bread on our table- however it might be a good idea to look into alternatives for the conventional input devices you use every day. The time has come to look for alternatives to the modern scroll mouse.

Dorsiflexion is the main reason for your mouse hand developing RSI. So what can be done?

First of all, try using keyboard shortcuts more. Keyboard shortcuts reduce the time it takes to accomplish common tasks, which in turn makes you more productive. Also, try to keep your wrist in a neutral position when using a mouse. Alternating hands doesn’t help much in the long run; instead, both of your hands then run the risk of developing RSI.

Rather than using the old scroll mouse day in and day out, an good alternative might just be the USB heated mouse. These are relatively inexpensive nowadays, and the heating pad can offer potential relief for one’s RSI affected hands. Be careful however; as some reviews of these products have been underwhelming. The buttons sometimes do not function properly and occasionally get stuck. So it might just be one of those products that is hit or miss.

The ideal position for your hands while operating a mouse is one where you dont have to twist your wrist fllat on the desk.  The handshoe mouse does just this for you; allowing a slight angle between your hand and the desk you are working on so your wrist need not twist. Your wrist supports your hand’s weight and it is not bent into an awkward angle thus saving your wrist. The curvature helps to also relieve pressure on your hands. The first time you use this sort of mouse there is slight discomfort; however with time it gets quite a bit easier.

Handshoe

Fully ergonomic mice were originally designed to reduce strain on hand muscles and prevent RSI. These mice fit into your hand naturally, and you wither hold them, or cradle them, and they are known as vertical mice, cradle mice, and presenters.

Vertical Mouse

A vertical mouse or cradle mouse allows you to hold the mouse- keeping it in the handshake position.  This is a much more natural position for prolonged use of a computer mouse. Your thumb acts as a brace and you simply move the mouse by moving your arms. This in turn means much lower stress on your wrist and hands. These types of mice are more expensive than traditional mice, however they often come in wireless and Bluetooth versions, and with many extra features.  Plus think of all the future hassle and pain you are saving yourself!

These are just a few of your many options for preventing RSI. If you know about additional alternatives, or other remedies please share. Also if you have experience with any of the products mentioned above- please feel free to share that as well.

How Do You Enable UPnP on your Computer?

October 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Costea Lestoc in Networking - (0 Comments)

In today’s tutorial, I will help you to enable UPnP on your computer. UPnP stands for Universal Plug and Play and it is a specific network protocol that allows you to link several of your wireless devices together for the purposes of streaming content.  This could for example allow you to stream video or movies directly from your laptop to your TV.

You will first require a laptop that has Windows XP, Vista, or 7.

UPnP

For Windows 7:

  • Go to the Control Panel.
  • Click the icon for Network and Sharing Center.
  • Click a link titled “Change Advanced Sharing Settings” on the left pane.
  • You will then  see an option called “Turn on Network Discovery,” select this option.
  • UPnP has now been enabled your machine.

For Windows Vista:

  • Go to the Control Panel.
  • Click the icon for Network and Sharing Center.
  • Expand your network discovery section and choose “Turn on Network Discovery”. UPnP has now been enabled.

UPnP

For Windows XP:

  • First of all, it is important to know whether the Internet gateway device is visible under network connections or not. To determine this; open up your network connections window (if you don’t know how to do that, go to start menu, then run, type ncpa.cpl and press enter). Check whether the Internet gateway device is displayed there or not.
  • Now check whether your router is appearing properly under “My Network Places” . Under the other places section of your left pane, you should see the “My Network Places” link. Click and see whether the router is available here.
  • If the devices are not visible (Internet gateway device and router), you will need to reinstall the network services component of your operating system. When you do this, make sure that options like UPnP user, Internet gateway device discovery and control client are checked. (Doing this is simple and only requires the original operating system install disk your computer came with; select the repair option- do not reinstall the OS)
  • Now, go to the start menu again, click on run and type services.msc. Locate the option “SSDP Discovery Service” and double click on it.
  • A new window should open. Go to the general tab; now the start-up type drop down list should be visible. Select automatic and you are done.

Once you have enabled Universal Plug and Play on your laptop you can stream content from your computer directly to your TV- which should save you from having to copy movies to a hard drive or flash drive all the time just to view them on the big screen.

Top 3 Free Memory Test Programs for Your System

October 1st, 2012 | Posted by Costea Lestoc in I've Always Wondered... - (0 Comments)

Memory test software runs a thorough test on your computer’s RAM and helps you to identify any potential issues in such.  Often called a RAM test, memory test or free RAM scan, this is likely a program you will want to run after making any recent memory changes or adding additional RAM. Below, I have listed some free memory test programs that do their job well and work with a variety of operating systems:

Windows Memory Diagnostic

RAM

This is a Microsoft program and it performs a series of tests on your computer’s memory to identify any potential issues or errors. You can find the program free of charge on Microsoft’s website; then its a simple matter of installing the program and following the on screen instructions.

The program will essentially walk you through burning an ISO image to a  CD or DVD. Once you boot from this disc you have just created, it starts a RAM test automatically. The testing will may take some time and will run until you stop it manually. Usually after the first test you can stop the program yourself- assuming the program hasn’t found any memory errors.

M2K MemScope

Have you heard of Micro-Scope? If you haven’t, just FYI – they have created many professional computer diagnostic tools. M2K MemScope is a recent product from the same company. There are many advanced testing options available within it; however, if you are a novice user it’s recommended to stick to the “Run All” feature. You can easily download the program from their official site; however you will need to fill a questionnaire before you can download it.

Computer Chip

Memtest86

This is a standalone program from BradyTech Inc. and is extremely easy to use. You will again need to download the ISO image and then burn it to a disc. Once burned, just simply boot from the disc ans begin the free test. The free basic version is good enough for a normal user, however;  if you want advanced options you can easily order a CD with Memtest 86 pre-installed. The CD will contain detailed documentation on how to use the advanced features.

These are my top 3 choices when it comes to free memory tests. If you use a free RAM test not listed here, please feel free to share in the comments.

How to access Hidden Themes in Windows 7?

September 28th, 2012 | Posted by Costea Lestoc in Easy Tips - (0 Comments)

Windows 7 has lots of features that attribute to a better user experience. The various themes and backgrounds that it offers are amazing in the truest sense. You hardly need to download any from other websites while using Windows 7.

However, the desktop backgrounds and themes that will directly be available to you depend on the language, time and currency you choose during the time of operating system installation. So, for example, if you choose English (US) and time zone, currency format that correspond to US; you will only be able to see a few of the whole collection.

Now, this tip will help you to get all the themes and backgrounds available for Windows 7 users, no matter which location you choose. There are many backgrounds for other countries such as Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia etc. and why should you deprive yourself of the rest?

Windows 7 Theme

The steps to be followed are:

  • Go to the Start Menu of your system.
  • Type “C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT” in the search box (Replace “C” with the drive name where you have installed Windows 7, if it’s not “C” drive in your case).
  • Hit Enter and some sub-folders should appear for you (Such as MCT-CA, MCT-AU, MCT-US, and MCT-ZA, MCT-GB).
  • Each of the sub-folders represents themes and backgrounds of one country: AU for Australia, US for United States, GB for Great Britain, ZA for South Africa and CA for Canada.
  • Select the specific folder of your choice and then go to the themes Folder under that location. For example: if you want the theme for Canada, go to this folder: C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT\MCT-CA\Theme.
  • Now, double click on the theme that you will find there.
  • Go to your Control Panel’s Personalization section.
  • You will see a shortcut to the chosen theme over there.
  • You can repeat the same steps for themes of other countries as well.

Once a theme is installed, you can select it easily from the desktop itself:

  • Right click on desktop.
  • Choose Personalization.
  • Select the background or theme of your choice.

I hope the readers loved this simple tip. Try it yourself and share your experience through comments. If you have any questions or faced any difficulties, share that with me as well. I am always happy to help!

Samsung to Release Galaxy Note II on 24th October?

September 27th, 2012 | Posted by Costea Lestoc in Smartphones - (0 Comments)

Samsung is coming up with “The Next Big Thing” on October 24th. Today press invitations were sent out on behalf of the company and reporters were asked to save the date on their calendars. The event is going to take place in New York. It is expected that Samsung officials will launch the much anticipated Galaxy Note II during this event.

The invitation didn’t contain much detail, however, this smartphone-tablet hybrid is definitely expected to see a US release on that day. Samsung has released it in South Korea last Wednesday (September 26th). The smartphone-tablet hybrid is already being praised for an amazing phone screen and an improved S Pen stylus. Samsung Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch screen, is slightly bigger than its predecessor Samsung Galaxy Note’s 5.3 inch screen. The new smartphone however is thinner compared to Galaxy Note.

Samsung Galaxy Note II

Galaxy Note was a huge success as more than 12 million of copies of the same have been sold till date.  Shin Jong-kyun, the chief of Samsung’s mobile phone section has set high expectations (At least 3 million sales within 3 months of launch) for the successor as well. With the great features that Samsung Galaxy Note II has, there are all reasons for such high expectations, without a doubt!

First of all, users can see images at a high resolution of 1280×70 pixels. It comes up with 1.6 GHz Quad-Core Exynos processor (Again a Samsung product). This is also the first time when a Samsung phone has “Jelly Bean” (Android 4.1) as its standard OS. Samsung Galaxy Note II has 2 GB RAM, 3100 mAh battery, 1.9 MP front camera and an 8 MP rear camera.

Samsung Galaxy Note II is expected to expand the potential market of phablets (A device that combines a cellphone and a tablet), according to the trade experts. However, we have to wait and see what kind of user feedback it gets from all over the world. Samsung Galaxy Note really has set the expectations pretty high; let’s see whether this new smartphone from the Notes series can live up to that!

What do my readers think on the possible release of Samsung Galaxy Note II? If you are excited or if you have some set expectations on this new smartphone, please feel free to use the comment feature and share your thoughts. If it has already released in your country, please share how good or bad do you find it!

Sometimes you want to delete files quickly and securely.  The default setting on most computers places all deleted files into a isolated holding area, known as the Recycle Bin. If we don’t want those deleted files to be stored in the Recycle bin we must manually delete them. Unless we disable the recycle bin or remember to use the SHIFT+Delete command while deleting a file, we generally need to put in some extra effort to delete files manually from the Recycle bin (Clearing the Recycle Bin isn’t much trouble, however forgetting to regularly clear the recycle bin can cause a buildup of large files and sensitive data, potentially causing performance and security concerns).

Here are two simple tips illustrating how to disable the Recycle Bin (You should only do this when you are positive that you won’t need to recover the deleted files in future):

Disabling the Recycle bin

Recycle Bin Registry

  • Right click on the recycle bin icon on your desktop and click on properties.
  • A new dialog box should appear and there you will see a radio button that states “Don’t move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted” (Under “settings for selected location”).
  • Check that radio button and click Apply.
  • Finally, click on OK to close the dialog box.

You can disable the recycle bin from your system registry as well. To do so, follow the below mentioned steps:

Recycle Bin Disable

  • Click on Start Menu and on Search box write “Regedit.”
  • Hit Enter and the Registry Editor window should appear.
  • Now, locate this key from the left menu of Registry Editor Window: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\BitBucket
  • Now, select the value name “NukeOnDelete” and change its value to 1 (0 means that recycle bin is active, that is the default value in general).
  • Make sure the data type is “DWORD” before you exit the Registry Editor Window.
  • Finally, you need to reboot your system so that the changes are reflected.

The aforementioned steps are for Windows 7. That being said, the steps will be more or less the same for older operating systems as well, if you run into any problems I will be happy to help you through the comments section.