Posts tagged ‘Windows’

Windows Adjustments: Moving a Windows Hard Drive to a New Computer

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Neither words, elaborate hand gestures nor emotive cave paintings can adequately describe the existential horror of having to reinstall Windows and all the applications that run under it on a new computer. Shopping for and subsequently paying for a new system is as nothing compared to actually populating the beast.

If you have an existing computer that’s currently running Windows 7 or better and you’ve decided to spring for a newer machine to get hardware that’s quicker, roomier or less funky, chances are that your Windows installation is working fine. While the procedure for doing so isn’t widely used, it’s shockingly easy to uproot the hard drive from an old machine, bolt it into a new computer and have Windows carry on running all your stuff, never having really appreciated that it has changed digs.

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Classic Windows Paint for Windows 7 and Windows 8

pictureEarlier releases of Windows – most notably the much-beloved Windows XP, now something of a fond memory – included the elegantly simple and occasionally berated Windows Paint application. For the most part, it was about as useful as a left-leaning politician in a riding with absolutely no bribable voters – but there were situations in which its childlike simplicity and twentieth-century dearth of features made it the ideal software for manipulating a few pixels.

By comparison, Windows Paint under Windows 7 and Windows 8 resembles the drooling idiot offspring of a cheap date in which neither participant was demonstrably human. It’s just sophisticated enough to allow its imperfect antialiasing, questionable drawing tools and counter-intuitive user interface to get in the way.

Long-time users of Paint from a bygone era can often be heard mourning its loss.

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Windows Adjustments: The Incredible Expanding Hard Drive

Upgrade your hard drive to a larger device without re-installing Windows or any of your applications – we too were shocked when this worked.

pictureWith the benefit of flawless hindsight, some of the computers at the offices of Alchemy Mindworks might have been configured with slightly larger hard drives when they were originally purchased. What seemed like enough storage to encompass the sum of human knowledge with room left over for a modest library of MP3s a few years ago has grown increasingly claustrophobic with time.

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Is There a 64-Bit Version?

The transition from 16-bit Windows software to 32-bit Windows software over a decade ago was an event that future archeologists will no doubt write papers about and bore people at parties with until they all make up excuses about having forgotten to hypnotize their ferrets and leave. Admittedly, archeologists get excited about the damnedest things.

It’s been our experience that neither archeologists nor most of the people who use Windows software actually know why 32-bit applications are preferable. This is arguably as it should be – well-written software should allow its users to do whatever they bought the beast for and never concern themselves with that’s going on under the hood.

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Windows Adjustments: Back Up your Windows Installation

The hard drive in your computer is easily its most valuable component – although its worth probably can’t be measured entirely by the damage it did to your credit card. Installing Windows, and subsequently installing all the applications that will run under Windows, can take days.

While you can back up important files on your hard drive, there’s no way to back up an entire Windows hard drive in a form that would allow you to subsequently restore it and get back on line immediately, should your current hard drive get nuked by a virus, or wiped accidentally, or just die.

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Windows Adjustments: Thin Out Your System Tray

Your system tray – the rightmost area of your Windows task bar, usually inhabited by small icons and the Windows clock – will probably start looking like an aerial photograph of unsold cars if you have a lot of stuff happening on your computer. As the real estate occupied by the system tray reduces the available breathing room for the rest of the task bar, it’s worth adjusting your system tray’s behavior to minimize its footprint.

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Windows Adjustments: Applications Groups

Left to its own devices, Windows will present you with two relatively cumbersome ways to launch applications – you can select them from the Start menu or you can run the from icons on your desktop. The first typically entails a lot of clicking, ‘specially if you have a lot of toys installed on your system – and the second will mean minimizing anything you presently have running to drill down to your desktop.

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Windows Adjustments: Preventing Automatic Restart after Windows Updates

Microsoft maintains a regular program of security updates and bug fixes for Windows. If you have Automatic Updates enabled – as well you should – they’ll download and install automatically as they’re released.

Once they’re installed, Windows will automatically reboot your computer to complete the installation. If you happen to be in front of it when it tries to do so, it will allow you to defer the restart, but it will nag you incessantly thereafter until you allow it to restart your system.

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Windows Adjustments: Changing the View Source Application in Internet Explorer 8

While an increasing number of Windows users browse the web with something other than Internet Explorer, Explorer certainly has its uses. Chief among these is a handy way to edit local HTML documents. Open the page in question on your hard drive, right-click on it and select View Source. The HTML document for your page will appear in Windows NotePad.

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Windows Adjustments: Changing a USB Device’s Drive Letter

Having long ago lost count of the number of USB storage devices that litter our offices, we’ve learned how to manage the beasts. The list of these things list includes not only USB flash drives and external hard drives, but toys like iPods, which are also effectively USB storage.

One of the perennial issues surrounding these devices is the assignment of drive letters to them. Windows does this automatically, of course, which is why you’ll probably need to know to manually override its behavior in time.

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