Category Archives: Computing

System Restore; Possibly Your Computer’s Best Friend

I have spent the better part of the last 24 hours trying to repair a friend’s computer. Actually, not quite a repair; seems he got a few viruses and malware on the computer while downloading shared music through Limewire. Suddenly he was getting all sorts of popups, then it wouldn’t let him open any programs except the one offered to fix everything; if you’re computer savvy you know where this one’s going.

by blisschan

Since it’s still on XP I went and pulled out trustly ol’ Combofix, which has never failed me in the past. And this time… it failed me! It wouldn’t load, consistently saying some file had crashed and asking if I wanted to send it to Microsoft for review. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I don’t, but this seemed somewhat suspicious. So I looked it up on my computer and found that if I’d clicked on it more malware and nasty stuff would have been allowed onto the computer; ick.

I went through a litany of things; after all, I had just cleaned and fixed this computer about 2 months ago. Nothing was working, including going through the registry trying to track down this one particular virus. There were some programs that said they’d fix it for a price, but I wasn’t having it, especially for someone else’s computer.

Finally, I decided it was time to go back to square one. Okay, maybe not quite square one, since I didn’t start with that, but it was time to go to the WABAC Machine for this particular computer; it was time for System Restore.

System Restore is a program on your computer that allows you to reset your computer to a time and place before you added something new to your computer. If you’d downloaded songs and the like it won’t touch those, but if you’d loaded any programs whatsoever it would eliminate anything you’d done that affected the registry since the last time your computer had a system restore point. There are some folks who recommend turning this off to speed up your computer performance but trust me, it’s worth a slight decrease in speed to keep this sucker open.

I opened the program and went back about 4 weeks, which I figured was a safe enough period of time where this computer was running better, and I loaded it. The sucker took almost 30 minutes, but that’s okay because I knew when it was done almost everything would be fine.

And I was right. When it had completed its task all his icons were back, his wallpaper was back, and I opened a few programs just to make sure they were back as well; they were. I could have said I was done at that point, but nope, it was time to add more stuff.

There was no antivirus on the sucker, so I downloaded and added AVG, which is not only free but looks for a few other things than just viruses. Then I added a firewall, Zone Alarm, which still works great on XP computers. I ran a full scan on his system and found some minor virus that must have been residing there some time ago, and got rid of that. Otherwise the computer was now totally clean and, after telling tons of things that he and his wife had starting up automatically and sitting in the background to beat it, loading much faster.

System Restore just might be your best friend; whew!

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Coming To Grips With “It Just Doesn’t Work Anymore”

I’ve had this file for, well, 9 years now. It was a package called All Icons, and that’s just what it was. No matter what computer I had it on, if I wanted to change the icon of programs to something cool or silly, I could direct myself to that folder, go through a lot of categories, pick what I wanted and that was that. It had science fiction, cartoons, music, sports, and tons of other things; very neat indeed.

by Amanda Tetrault

Except it turned out not to be compatible with Vista, and it’s not compatible with Windows 7 either. I was holding onto the folder because there were so many things in there. I learned there was a program I could have used to convert them to something that could be used, but I’d have to do each one individually. Thousands of icon files individually; nope, wasn’t going there.

So, I finally dumped it; sent it to the recycle bin. And that got me thinking about how we all find things we like, use them a lot, then one day, not by our own hands, we learn that we can’t use those things anymore. Someone, most notably Microsoft I have to say, has taken it from us and forced us to go elsewhere for that process; weasels!

I’ve had programs that helped me fix other people’s computers, files that helped me edit images, and files that let me download other stuff suddenly go “Captain Dunsel” (in Star Trek, the term is used to describe a part serving no useful purpose) on me. Frankly, the first time it happened was back in the early 90’s when I had a program called IBM Writing Assistant that was my first writing program that suddenly didn’t work when I upgraded to Windows 3.1. That irked me because I’d also had this really cool football program that worked great with my double floppy system (man, talk about going way back) that I could no longer play either; sigh…

Right now I’m going through the sad process of thinking that the time might be nigh for Google Desktop. One of my most popular posts was telling people how to index Google Desktop with Thunderbird, Mozilla’s great mail client. However, seems that only worked on XP. It doesn’t work on Vista or Windows 7, even if one upgraded to the Desktop 64-bit version, since the old version wasn’t compatible with Vista. I’ve gone through a major series of tricks, and will probably try a couple more things, but if it doesn’t end up working to the point where I can search my email, I’ll probably uninstall it and just use Windows Search, which finds everything else on my computer just fine. And I think Google is going to end up discontinuing it anyway because the rumor is they’re no longer partnering with Mozilla

Well, I talked earlier in the year about decluttering my online life; guess it’s time to declutter my computer as well, which supposedly has more than 670,000 files on it; not by the end of the week it won’t. Obsolescence can’t rule my life anymore.

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RSS For Your Business Websites

Oddly enough, I guess I owe this post to much of the spam I’ve been receiving lately. Much of it asks, stupidly of course, how they can subscribe to my RSS feed for this blog, which is pretty much all over the place, especially if you use Firefox.

However, it got me thinking about RSS feeds in general, especially as they apply to business websites. I have enough websites, I figure, but in reality I have 3 business websites. And I don’t have RSS feeds on any of them.

I’ve started wondering if I should have feeds on them. After all, I don’t do a lot of updating to those sites. One of them I have my business blog attached, and it obviously has a RSS feed, so I’ve just assumed that site didn’t need one. For my other two sites, though, I do add something here and there, and those are mainly articles, and maybe I need a RSS feed for those. After all, who doesn’t want more RSS subscribers?

The question of course is why anyone would subscribe to the RSS feed for a business site. It’s not news, and since most of us assume that most sites are fairly static, what would compel us to subscribe? Or is this a case of “if you build it they will come”?

I’m not the only one who thinks about this sort of thing. A woman named Sarah wrote an article titled Why RSS Is So Important For Your Business That You’re Probably Already Using It (whew, long title!), and she talks about the importance of having RSS feeds if you’re constantly updating your information. That’s easy to agree with, but what about if you’re not constantly updating your content?

Actually, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? As a consultant, I often advise potential clients that they need to have constantly updated content in some fashion. Of course I usually recommend blogs first, and most blogging software comes with the ability to easily add RSS feeds so you’re covered there. But what about the website itself? Other than news sources and sales pages, are there any other reasons for a business to syndicate their site?

Something more to think about, I guess. Meanwhile, the palm trees are for my friend Sue. 🙂

Propac Images 4501 18 x 18 Palm Tree I II

Propac Images 4501 18 x 18 Palm Tree I II

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Microsoft Updates; What The Hey?

Have you ever taken a look at the Microsoft updates that come to your computer at least once a week? I always take a quick look, although I’m not sure why since, with Vista, it came with the Genuine Advantage thing, so maybe I shouldn’t care what’s being put onto my computer.

But I do look, and most of the time I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. For instance, last night, there were 5 updates awaiting me when I got home:

Install this update to resolve issues caused by revised daylight saving time and time zone laws in several countries. This update enables your computer to automatically adjust the computer clock on the correct date in 2010.

Okay, that one I easy understood, since last year they changed the dates for daylight savings time.

Install this update to improve Internet Explorer 8’s JSON interoperability in conformance with the new ECMAScript, fifth edition standard.

What the heck does that mean?

Install this update to resolve issues with non-compatible applications for Windows Vista.

I’m thinking it would have been nice if they’d told me which issues those were more specifically. Actually, to be fair, they did give a Knowledge Base article number, and if you follow that you see there’s over 200 programs it’s affecting, so maybe I should be glad they didn’t try telling me all of those.

Both the Meiryo UI font and the Meiryo UI Bold font are included in this update. These new fonts let an application optimally display Kana characters in the Ribbon UI component and in other parts of the user interface, especially in areas where text area is limited.

Part of me realizes I have a new font; not sure if I’m supposed to use it or not. The rest of it; no clue.

Install this update to resolve issues caused by manifest expiration in AD RMS enabled applications. This update will fix any existing issues in addition to addressing any future application manifest expirations.

Once again, huh? Even my spell check freaked out on that one.

Part of me gets it; these tekkie guys are trying to tell us something. They might have well written most of it in Sanskrit if you ask me. Maybe they should just say “download this update; you don’t want to know”, and being the sheep we are, we’ll just accept it and move on. It’s about as clear to us if they do that as what they’re telling us now.

I’m just feeling so stupid and inadequate now; I need cake.

Google Announces Its New Operating System

Of course the rumors were always out there, at least for the last year, so when Google announced to day that they were coming out with their own operating system, some people were surprised, but many people who dabble online were wondering just what they thought they were doing.

This might end up being a good OS, but who’s going to know? Unlike Microsoft, it’s hard to imagine that Google will be able to convince a lot of computer makers to switch to their new OS just because they’re Google. Some might be inclined to try if it’s free, which it just might be, but it’s not going to gain a lot of attention initially, if at all.

Still, they had to do it, just as Microsoft feels they have to try to get into the search market stronger with their latest effort (how many is this now?), Bing (does anyone else ever want to break out into a song when they see that?). But one has to wonder what the ulterior motives of it all is.

Yeah, I’m sounding like a conspiracy guy, but let’s look at this for a minute. First they come out with Google Apps, which mimic all the Microsoft Office products only it’s a free online service. However, you store all your records on Google’s servers; do we really know that they don’t have the capability to scan all those records and do something with all that information?

Then they do an end-round on Firefox by developing their own browser, which they say will be faster than any other and work better with Google since they developed it. Mozilla supposedly really didn’t know until late that Google was working on the project, and when they found out, along with the rest of us, we all questioned what the relationship would be with the Mozilla Foundation, whom Google used to fund; they still might.

To date, Microsoft is still leading on office products (by the way, who else asks themselves why Microsoft has both Office and Works, yet they’re not compatible with each other?), and Mozilla is still holding a strong second. Truthfully, I think Chrome is still down around 5th, but don’t quote me on that one. I don’t know all that much about Google Apps to be able to talk about why Microsoft is still killing them when it’s free, but I do know about Firefox enough to talk about it.

Firefox is the bomb because of all the add-ons you can attach to it, which can do so many things. Neither IE nor Chrome nor Opera or anyone else can make that claim. Sure, even with the new Firefox 3.5, which I like, we all know that Firefox isn’t the fastest browser out there; Opera has always made that claim in the past (turns out that lately it might not be true). But it’s the most customizable, therefore the most fun and the most productive.

So, what about the Chrome OS? It’s best feature might be that there won’t be any viruses for it for a long time. The worst features is that, from what I’m hearing, it might not work with any of the Microsoft products on the market right now, and it’s unsure how they’ll work with other products. Sure, there’s Google Apps, but it’s not universally used, so at some point you need more in an OS than being able to tell people to load it, then go online to do everything. And, just to mention this, but right now it’s only for notebooks.

All that, and then there was this article from PC World titled 5 Ways Microsoft Will Bring the Hurt to Google Chrome OS that’s an interesting read. Microsoft isn’t just sitting around waiting for Google to catch up.

I’m certainly not the biggest Microsoft fan out there, especially when it comes to Vista, but one has to acknowledge that Microsoft is firmly entrenched in our computer lives, and we’d really be in a lot of mess if we had to deal with another operating system that has limits to what it can allow us to use and do.

It should be an interesting battle over the next five years.

Sony VAIO TT Series Laptop Intel Centrino Core 2 Duo SU9300 1.2GHz Notebook

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