Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Create a Quick Launch for USB "Safely Remove"

sr_icon We have all learned that before we pull that USB thumb drive out, it is really a good idea to first find that icon and click on “Safely Remove Hardware” and “stop” the device. Some of us discovered that necessity the hard way – with ruined drives.

Unfortunately, that icon is small, sometimes gets covered up, sort of visually “fades into” the background, and/or gets lost in the clutter of all our other System Tray icons. Out of sight, out of mind.. right?

To make it easier for me to remember to properly stop my USB devices, I create a Desktop icon, and set up a “hotkey” combination. I could also drag-and-drop a shortcut into my Quick Launch area, but I figure if I’m going to look down to the Taskbar, I may as well look by the clock.

Tip of the day: Create a shortcut to Safely Remove Hardware.
1) Right-click on a blank area of your Desktop, and select “New”, then “Shortcut”.
cr8shrtct
Now a ‘wizard’ will open. You are asked “What do you want to create a shortcut for?” (typing in “fantastic wealth” won’t help you here, sorry.)

2) Copy this string, and paste it into the space:

RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL HotPlug.dll

run_string

Now click “Next”.

3) Rename the shortcut from “rundll32.exe” to something a little more descriptive. I went with “Safe USB”, but “Safely Remove USB” is a good one too.
rename

shrtct_icon Click “Finish”. Now you have a new icon on your Desktop for quickly launching the safely remove tool. You are done.. But, I will also create a keyboard “hotkey” shortcut (optional).

4) [Optional] Create a “hotkey” shortcut.
a: Right-click on your new shortcut icon and select “Properties”.
b: On the “Shortcut” tab (should be open by default) create a “hotkey” by pressing Ctrl+Alt+key. I chose the “U” key for “unplug”, but you might want to choose the “R” (for “remove”) or something else you’ll remember.
shrtct_props 

c: Click “Apply”. You will note that your choice is now reflected in the “Shortcut key” window.
d: XP users can customize the icon.. and get rid of the plain icon, by clicking the “Change icon” button. (Vista users, read on…)

Now when I’m ready to pull out my thumb drive, I just Ctrl+Alt+U. And no more hunting by the clock.

Today’s free link: If you experience Windows Vista Service Pack 2 installation issues…

Today’s free download: If you would like to download some icons and customize Windows default icon set. VistaIcons.com is a neat source of free icon “packs”.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 10, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, System Tray, tech, thumb drives, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | 3 Comments

A Tech’s First Impression Of Windows 7

Part 3 – Improvements over Vista?

I have now been using Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 7, for a week. I configured it to my taste (aka “preferences”), and installed my primary applications (and a few games) and done lots of things to try to break it.

Yes, you read that last part correctly – I said “try to break it”. You see, there simply is no better way (many people feel) to test a thing than to fill it up with High-Octane, put the petal to the metal, use the gears to keep the RPM’s well into the red, and go! go! go! until a piston sails up and through the hood. Of course.. for this to really mean anything.. you must do this several times in a row.bell_x-1

Not only is this method fun, but this is how “limits” are discovered. Ask Chuck Yeager. (Geeks call this “benchmarking”.)

Some findings: I have found that it is fairly easy to get a fail on IE 8, the newest release of the venerable Internet Explorer web browser (which is still a beta also). Open too many tabs (6+), or a Microsoft.com page using Silverlight, and you’ll get a “Not responding” fairly quick. But, I have also found that it is extremely difficult to get Windows 7 itself to fail. Win 7 is fast and it’s stable.

In fact, despite my best efforts and determination, I have yet to have a lockup, or BSOD¹. Improved multi-processor/multi-threading ability is noticeable. No Windows Update fails either, as still befalls Vista SP1 (you know the ones.. you have to reboot 3 times and/or use Startup Repair to get to your Desktop?)

After my admittedly amateur and unscientifical-style testing, I would be willing to quite prematurely guestimate that Windows 7 is one-hundred and thirty two point six times (132.6x ) more stable than Vista was, and at least .. oh, um, let me say, one magnitude more stable than Vista w/SP1.

All jocularity aside, only time will tell how accurate my estimates and impressions are. But I’m impressed. Quite impressed. This is a beta, after all. (I’m willing to wager that this is a historic first — “beta” and “stable” are never used in the same sentence. I’ll come back to some of the reasons for this.)

Plus number 6.

Other differences: While retaining most of what we’ve come to know in Windows, (such as, by default, the Taskbar is on the bottom, Start button on the left, everything “interesting” is found in Control Panel, etc.) there are some changes.. changes that affected me in my daily usage. First up on that list is the Taskbar has changed in appearance and behavior.

The Taskbar (aka “Superbar”) is similar to Vista’s in that it has a “hover” feature, as shown below…

Windows 7 "Superbar"

Windows 7 "Superbar"

though it has been enhanced to show thumbnails of the program’s open windows (or tabs, as in this case) for easier selection, and direct-action “maximize”.

But look closer. Quick Launch and tabs are combined into “pinned” icons, and the System Tray (the icons down by the clock) are now an “up arrow”. To make a program a “Quick Launch”, or visa-versa, you simply drag-and-drop (and select “pin to taskbar”, no more “lock”/”unlock”), and open programs – “tabs” – ‘stack’ to the right.

It’s weird how much I miss the by-the-clock icons.. though they’ve never really served any truly practical purpose (except maybe as a source for context menu shortcuts). I find myself clicking the arrow, to make the System Tray visible, and reassure myself – yes, they’re still there.
I’ve been running (and troubleshooting) Microsoft operating systems since Windows 3.11, and I just expect those things to be there…

Speaking of things that are missing: menus have been consolidated and “pruned”. They seem to me less cluttered, more intuitive, and easier to navigate. This is most noticeable when trying to access system tools and the elements that make up the Control Panel. Long-time Windows users and über geeks may feel that Microsoft has unnecessarily moved a few things (and occasionally get annoyed, at first), but newbies and flexible-types will find things “friendlier”… IMHO.

Plus number 7.

And Defender is nowhere to be found in Programs or the Start menu: it’s in Control Panel.
(Don’t ask. Haven’t even a guess.)

And, when you first get started, “Network” is missing from the Start menu.
But that’s a topic for Part 4..

Link for Part 1 of this series, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 Part 1 of a series
Link to Part 2, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 Part 2 — Transferring Your User Account To Windows 7

¹ Blue Screen Of Death (see Troubleshooting the Blue Screen Of Death)

Today’s free link: What’s really new in Windows 7?

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

January 17, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, PC, performance, software, System Tray, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7

Part 1 of a series

Yesterday I downloaded the official Microsoft beta release of its new operating system — called Windows 7. (Technically, for those of you i7logo nterested in this sort of thing, it is “Build 7000”.) I opted to install the 32-bit version, as I think this will remain the “standard” and most common.
I installed a “clean install”, though I could have “upgraded” an existing Vista install (I recommend ‘clean install’ as a Rule Of Thumb).

Microsoft is calling Windows 7 a whole new OS, and are expecting it to replace replace Vista.. in the same way that Vista is replacing Windows XP. I can tell you that it is not a whole new operating system. I can also tell you that it does not give us the new file system (WinFS) that was originally promised as one of the “three pillars of Vista”.

The install itself: My “clean” install on a freshly formatted volume took just over half an hour, and involved at least two automated reboots. (It may have been three.. but I got up and walked away for a few minutes. I have performed countless Windows installs – literally – and watching one more isn’t my idea of a “good time”.)

Once I clicked “go”, I only had to answer three screens– my time/location, a computer name/user name/passwords (recommended), and did I want to set up a sharing network “HomeGroup“? That last, because it’s new and still unfamiliar, I chose “Not now. Ask me again later.”

My experience matched that of other reviewers: it was by far the fastest, smoothest, easiest Windows installation I’ve ever had. That this is a beta release makes this fact all the more remarkable.

Plus number one.

No device driver issues: I installed Windows 7 on a recent-vintage machine (it came with Vista Home Premium) and I had to install zero, zip, nada, device drivers — and this is a beta! Every device worked out of the gate, so clearly Vista device drivers work well on Windows 7.

Microsoft claims Windows 7 is the most ‘backwards compatible’ OS yet (I guess, maybe they learned from Vista’s release?) and I believe them. A beta.. and no device driver installs??? Amazing.
As a test, I connected to a rather ancient HP DeskJet 970Cse printer over my LAN. Windows 7 found the printer and installed it it with one “Yes” click.

Plus number two.

Once installed: As a Vista user, the change in Vista 7’s GUI (graphical user “interface”) was not that startling to me.. in fact, aside from the desktop and QuickLaunch icons being larger.. and a change to the System Tray/”Notification Area”.. it is Vista. The QuickLaunch now has (even more) shades of Macintosh OS X’s “Dock”.
Yes, it looks more “modern” (and makes XP look absolutely archaic), but is very, very Vista.

One nice change.. I noticed rather quickly that 7 has a Desktop slideshow feature (found because the default – plain, w/a Chinese fighting fish in the center – was quite drab after Vista’s spectacular nature images), and your Desktop can alternate images very much like your screensaver can in older versions of Windows (see Show off your photos with a screensaver slideshow).

The Start button, menus, icons, etc. are (basically) all the same. With the exception of the new networking and media sharing features, this is a zero learning curve change for Vista users, and a very modest one for XP users. If you use Windows, you can use 7, and you won’t have to take a night class or read a For Dummies book to do it.

Plus number three.

Speaking of the Start button..
* In Windows 7, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Contacts are part of Windows Live Essentials.
* Windows 7 removes InkBall and adds online versions of Spades, Backgammon and Checkers.
* It comes with IE 8.
* Programs and applets – like Paint – have been updated, enhanced, and now sport the Microsoft “Ribbon”.. which was introduced in Office 2007.
ms_ribbon

Well, I have only been using Windows 7 for a few hours.. and I will be writing more in this series.. so I’ll stop here for now. So far, I have installed both Call of Duty 5 and the original Call of Duty (patched to 1.4) and played a few rounds of each.
Yup.
They’re a tad faster than on Vista.

Plus number four…

Part 2 — Transferring Your User Account To Windows 7
Part 3 – Improvements over Vista?

Today’s free download: So.. you want to download the Windows 7 beta too? Click here.

Today’s free link: Mark Russinovich: Inside Windows 7 How has Windows evolved, as a general purpose operating system and at the lowest levels, in Windows 7? Who better to talk to than Technical Fellow and Windows Kernel guru Mark Russinovich? Here, Mark enlightens us on the new kernel constructs in Windows 7.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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January 11, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, News, PC, software, System Tray, Taskbar, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Yellow exclamation mark question

I have received variations of the following question several times from readers lately:

Q: How can I make the yellow exclamation mark (in my Taskbar) go away?
A: Actually, it is not a yellow exclamation mark (those appear in Device Manager) but a yellow triangle containing an exclamation point. It looks sort of like a “Yield” sign on the highway. When you see this icon in the Notification Area (the part of your Taskbar by the clock) it is Vista’s way of telling you that your virtual memory is getting low. (For more on virtual memory, and how it works, click here.)

‘Running low on virtual memory’ warnings are not a catastrophe, and needn’t cause undue alarm. What they do indicate however, is that you have an awful lot of processes running.. and this (usually) means that quite a few applications have sneaked into your Startup folder; and, that you have all of Vista’s bells-and-whistles turned on.

The place to start is taking a look at what programs and Services are set to load when Windows starts, and to “block” the ones you don’t really need to have running all the time (removing a program’s shortcut from your Startup folder does not remove the program). My article on this for Vista machines is here: https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2008/01/11/manage-startup-programs-in-vista/, and for XP (and older) machines, here: https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/10/26/speed-up-your-startup-a-repost/.
[Note: this tip is advisable even if you aren’t getting the yellow icon. Doing this will decrease your boot time, and generally make for a faster machine, as you won’t be wasting resources that can be used for other things.]

To take a quick look at what (and how many) Processes are running on your machine, open Task Manager and look at the Processes tab. (Naturally, I wrote an article on this topic also: https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/09/27/what-programs-should-be-in-task-manager/.)

The best way to resolve virtual memory problems is to add more RAM to your machine. Period. I have mentioned before that Vista runs best with two Gigabytes of RAM, and will happily use more.

If adding RAM is not feasible, and stopping unnecessary processes fails to make the ‘low virtual memory’ icon go away, you can try manually telling Vista to allot more disk space to Virtual Memory. I must caution you that Microsoft advises against this in Vista.. and I agree. In my opinion, Vista is very good at managing virtual memory and it is better to just live with the yellow triangle than to use this old technique.
However, I do understand a little bit about Human Nature, and so I advise you to write down the current setting (and remember System Restore) in case you try this and then decide later I was right.

To manually set the Page File (aka “swap file”, aka “virtual” memory) size, open your System Properties (Control Panel, click on “System and Maintenance”, and then “System”). Click on “Advanced system settings”.
On the “Advanced” tab, click the top button, “Performance”, and click the “Settings” button.
vmset.jpg

Now select the “Advanced” tab again. The lower part of this window deals with Virtual Memory. Here is where you can enter a number that corresponds to how big a space you want to allocate. Click on the “Change” button.
Please understand, because of how an operating system uses page files, setting this number really has a limited effect: making it HUGE will not improve your machine’s performance HUGELY; you will in fact have just ‘whistled in the wind’.. But, making it a little bit bigger might make the yellow triangle go away.
**The Rule of Thumb for setting your (Max) size is to make it 1.5 times larger than your physical RAM: so if your machine has 1GB of RAM, you would enter “1536”MBs (1024 x 1.5).

Click on the “Change” button.
vmset2.jpg
To make changes, you must uncheck the “Automatically manage..” checkbox at the top, and then select the “Custom size:” radio button. Now the areas that were ‘greyed out’ will become edit-able.
Vista is nice and helpful in that it offers a recommendation, and I suggest that you use the number you find there. Here is where manually entering the numbers does affect the efficiency of your swap file: enter the same number in both the Min (“Initial”) and the Max. Then click “Set”, and then “OK”.

That’s it, you’re done. (I really hope you used this as a “last resort”, though. This geek technique is really a holdover from the Windows 9x days.)

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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March 1, 2008 Posted by | computers, how to, PC, System Tray, Task Manager, Taskbar, tech, Vista, Windows | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Taskbar,blue screens,IE 7– Holiday Edition

It is my sincere wish that all of you are enjoying a long Holiday weekend. In that spirit, I am taking the day off and reposting an earlier article that answers reader questions and includes links to several important topics. I hope you didn’t miss yesterday’s article,.. and that you are staying warm. Enjoy.

Reader questions this week bring me back to IE 7 and the taskbar, and a new topic: what to do when an Update causes crashes and other troubles. So today I will not post my usual Tip of the day, but the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

IE 7 Questions:   (you may want to review my post on IE7 Security zones, and Questions answered, as well.)

Q: My Explorer menu bar disappeared, how do I get it back?
A: In IE version 7, the old familiar menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) was removed from the default configuration to ‘streamline’ IE’s look, and quite possibly because Microsoft was aware that people were installing their own toolbars (see “toolbar madness“). To get it back, use a method similar to the one used for Windows’ taskbar. Click on the down arrow next to the grey “gear” icon marked “Tools” and click on the Menu bar option. Now a checkmark will appear next to it, and your menu bar is back. To keep it there, hover your mouse over the option below Menu bar, “Toolbars”, and click on (select) the “Lock the toolbars” option.
While you’re there, you may want to play around with the “Customize” option and tweak which buttons appear on your bars.

Q: I can’t add a site to my Trusted zone:
A: I answered this in the previous answers post, but this detail is worth repeating: The person was on their personal machine and was running as an administrator, so there’s no problem there. The trouble was they hadn’t cleared the checkbox next to “Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone”.https.jpgThe difference is the “s” at the end of “http”, which indicates a special, secured internet protocol. You will know if you’re on such a website by the gold lock icon that appears in the URL window (and/or elsewhere on the page). It is an encrypted connection generally only used for electronic payment sites. A check here prevents you from adding regular websites.

Q: Can I make IE block sites when my child is browsing, but allow them for me?
A: This is a great question! And the answers are: yes, sort of, and … how many sites are we talking about? There are a couple of ways to go about this, but I want to spend more time on this topic than there’s room for here today. Protecting your children from the dangers of the Internet is a huge subject. I wrote a series of four articles on it, and to read it click here.

Taskbar question:

Q: What happened to the icons in my taskbar?
A: These “my icons disappeared” questions depend on if we’re talking about the Notification area (on the right, by the clock), or the Quick Launch area (on the left, by the Start button).
In the Notification area, an icon’s disappearance usually indicates that the “process” has gone idle and is not “running” at the moment.That means it isn’t needed, and hasn’t been needed for quite some time. It will run when it’s needed so, in this case don’t worry about it. In some instances, such as the speaker icon or the the two PC’s network icon, speaker.jpga checkbox has become unchecked and you simply need to check it again. Click on Start >Control Panel >Speakers and Audio devices, and select (check) the “Place an icon in the taskbar”.

If the Quick Launch icons have disappeared, right-click on a blank area in the taskbar and select Properties. Click on the Taskbar tab, and place a check in the checkbox labeled “Show Quick Launch”. As I have mentioned before, these Quick Launch icons are simply shortcuts. You can add more shortcuts here by simple drag-and-drop, or remove the ones you never use.

NOTE: If your icons have always been there and then, suddenly, some (or all) of them are gone — you may have picked up some malware. I recommend that you run “deep” antivirus and an anti-spyware scans immediately.

Windows Update:

Q: An Update is causing BSOD’s, what do I do?
A: From time to time a Microsoft security Update will not be compatible with the software and/or device drivers on your machine and the instability will trigger the Blue Screen Of Death (for more on BSOD’s and what to do, see “When good computers go bad“). Usually, Microsoft will repair this and issue a new Update … eventually. In the meantime, remove the Update (If you’re not sure which Update is the perp, remove the most recent ones) by going to Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel. (Start >Settings >Control Panel >Add/Remove Programs) Now look to the top area and place a check (select) in the “Show updates” checkbox. Now you will be able to see the list of installed Updates.
add1.jpg
Click on the Update you want to remove, and click on the Remove button.

Today’s free link: How about playing some games today.. in light of the long holiday weekend. Hop over to Armor Games for a nice selection of time wasters. These Flash-based games are for kids of all ages.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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November 24, 2007 Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, how to, IE 7, kids and the Internet, PC, removing Updates, security zones, System Tray, Taskbar, tech, Windows | , , | 7 Comments

Reposting: Reader questions answered

Due to prior obligations, I am reposting an previous article that, judging from the questions I receive, a lot of you missed. I will have a fresh topic to post tomorrow. This appeared on 7/26.

Reader questions this week bring me back to IE 7 and the taskbar, and a new topic: what to do when an Update causes crashes and other troubles. So today I will not post my usual Tip of the day, but the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

IE 7 Questions:   (you may want to review my post on IE7 Security zones, and Questions answered, as well.)

Q: My Explorer menu bar disappeared, how do I get it back?
A: In IE version 7, the old familiar menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) was removed from the default configuration to ‘streamline’ IE’s look, and quite possibly because Microsoft was aware that people were installing their own toolbars (see “toolbar madness“). To get it back, use a method similar to the one used for Windows’ taskbar. Click on the down arrow next to the grey “gear” icon marked “Tools” and click on the Menu bar option. Now a checkmark will appear next to it, and your menu bar is back. To keep it there, hover your mouse over the option below Menu bar, “Toolbars”, and click on (select) the “Lock the toolbars” option.
While you’re there, you may want to play around with the “Customize” option and tweak which buttons appear on your bars.

Q: I can’t add a site to my Trusted zone:
A: I answered this in the previous answers post, but this detail is worth repeating: The person was on their personal machine and was running as an administrator, so there’s no problem there. The trouble was they hadn’t cleared the checkbox next to “Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone”.
https.jpg
The difference is the “s” at the end of “http”, which indicates a special, secured internet protocol. You will know if you’re on such a website by the gold lock icon that appears in the URL window (and/or elsewhere on the page). It is an encrypted connection generally only used for electronic payment sites. A check here prevents you from adding regular websites.

Q: Can I make IE block sites when my child is browsing, but allow them for me?
A: This is a great question! And the answers are: yes, sort of, and … how many sites are we talking about? There are a couple of ways to go about this, but I want to spend more time on this topic than there’s room for here today. Protecting your children from the dangers of the Internet is a huge subject. I will start a series devoted to this tomorrow. (To read this series, click here.)

Taskbar question:

Q: What happened to the icons in my taskbar?
A: These “my icons disappeared” questions depend on if we’re talking about the Notification area (on the right, by the clock), or the Quick Launch area (on the left, by the Start button).
In the Notification area, an icon’s disappearance usually indicates that the “process” has gone idle and is not “running” at the moment.That means it isn’t needed, and hasn’t been needed for quite some time. It will run when it’s needed so, in this case don’t worry about it. In some instances, such as the speaker icon or the the two PC’s network icon,
speaker.jpg
a checkbox has become unchecked and you simply need to check it again. Click on Start >Control Panel >Speakers and Audio devices, and select (check) the “Place an icon in the taskbar”.

If the Quick Launch icons have disappeared, right-click on a blank area in the taskbar and select Properties. Click on the Taskbar tab, and place a check in the checkbox labeled “Show Quick Launch”. As I have mentioned before, these Quick Launch icons are simply shortcuts. You can add more shortcuts here by simple drag-and-drop, or remove the ones you never use.

NOTE: If your icons have always been there and then, suddenly, some (or all) of them are gone — you may have picked up some malware. I recommend that you run “deep” antivirus and an anti-spyware scans immediately.

Windows Update:

Q: An Update is causing BSOD’s, what do I do?
A: From time to time a Microsoft security Update will not be compatible with the software and/or device drivers on your machine and the instability will trigger the Blue Screen Of Death (for more on BSOD’s and what to do, see “When good computers go bad“). Usually, Microsoft will repair this and issue a new Update … eventually. In the meantime, remove the Update (If you’re not sure which Update is the perp, remove the most recent ones) by going to Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel. (Start >Settings >Control Panel >Add/Remove Programs) Now look to the top area and place a check (select) in the “Show updates” checkbox. Now you will be able to see the list of installed Updates.
add1.jpg
Click on the Update you want to remove, and click on the Remove button.

Today’s free link: I do NOT recommend uninstalling security updates unless they cause your machine to become inoperable. I am a big fan of security updates and want all my vulnerabilities patched. If you’re like me in that aspect, Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is for you. While this software is still in beta, it is very good at scanning all your programs and reporting any missing updates and open vulnerabilities. (Thanks Ryan!)

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Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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August 17, 2007 Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, how to, IE 7, kids and the Internet, PC, removing Updates, security, security zones, System Tray, Taskbar, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | 1 Comment

When an Update causes BSOD, and questions answered

Reader questions this week bring me back to IE 7 and the taskbar, and a new topic: what to do when an Update causes crashes and other troubles. So today I will not post my usual Tip of the day, but the (hopefully) now familiar “Q’s and their A’s” format.

IE 7 Questions:   (you may want to review my post on IE7 Security zones, and Questions answered, as well.)

Q: My Explorer menu bar disappeared, how do I get it back?
A: In IE version 7, the old familiar menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) was removed from the default configuration to ‘streamline’ IE’s look, and quite possibly because Microsoft was aware that people were installing their own toolbars (see “toolbar madness“). To get it back, use a method similar to the one used for Windows’ taskbar. Click on the down arrow next to the grey “gear” icon marked “Tools” and click on the Menu bar option. Now a checkmark will appear next to it, and your menu bar is back. To keep it there, hover your mouse over the option below Menu bar, “Toolbars”, and click on (select) the “Lock the toolbars” option.
While you’re there, you may want to play around with the “Customize” option and tweak which buttons appear on your bars.

Q: I can’t add a site to my Trusted zone:
A: I answered this in the previous answers post, but this detail is worth repeating: The person was on their personal machine and was running as an administrator, so there’s no problem there. The trouble was they hadn’t cleared the checkbox next to “Require server verification (https:) for all sites in this zone”.https.jpgThe difference is the “s” at the end of “http”, which indicates a special, secured internet protocol. You will know if you’re on such a website by the gold lock icon that appears in the URL window (and/or elsewhere on the page). It is an encrypted connection generally only used for electronic payment sites. A check here prevents you from adding regular websites.

Q: Can I make IE block sites when my child is browsing, but allow them for me?
A: This is a great question! And the answers are: yes, sort of, and … how many sites are we talking about? There are a couple of ways to go about this, but I want to spend more time on this topic than there’s room for here today. Protecting your children from the dangers of the Internet is a huge subject. I will start a series devoted to this tomorrow.

Taskbar question:

Q: What happened to the icons in my taskbar?
A: These “my icons disappeared” questions depend on if we’re talking about the Notification area (on the right, by the clock), or the Quick Launch area (on the left, by the Start button).
In the Notification area, an icon’s disappearance usually indicates that the “process” has gone idle and is not “running” at the moment.That means it isn’t needed, and hasn’t been needed for quite some time. It will run when it’s needed so, in this case don’t worry about it. In some instances, such as the speaker icon or the the two PC’s network icon, speaker.jpga checkbox has become unchecked and you simply need to check it again. Click on Start >Control Panel >Speakers and Audio devices, and select (check) the “Place an icon in the taskbar”.

If the Quick Launch icons have disappeared, right-click on a blank area in the taskbar and select Properties. Click on the Taskbar tab, and place a check in the checkbox labeled “Show Quick Launch”. As I have mentioned before, these Quick Launch icons are simply shortcuts. You can add more shortcuts here by simple drag-and-drop, or remove the ones you never use.

NOTE: If your icons have always been there and then, suddenly, some (or all) of them are gone — you may have picked up some malware. I recommend that you run “deep” antivirus and an anti-spyware scans immediately.

Windows Update:

Q: An Update is causing BSOD’s, what do I do?
A: From time to time a Microsoft security Update will not be compatible with the software and/or device drivers on your machine and the instability will trigger the Blue Screen Of Death (for more on BSOD’s and what to do, see “When good computers go bad“). Usually, Microsoft will repair this and issue a new Update … eventually. In the meantime, remove the Update (If you’re not sure which Update is the perp, remove the most recent ones) by going to Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel. (Start >Settings >Control Panel >Add/Remove Programs) Now look to the top area and place a check (select) in the “Show updates” checkbox. Now you will be able to see the list of installed Updates.
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Click on the Update you want to remove, and click on the Remove button.

Today’s free link: I do NOT recommend uninstalling security updates unless they cause your machine to become inoperable. I am a big fan of security updates and want all my vulnerabilities patched. If you’re like me in that aspect, Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is for you. While this software is still in beta, it is very good at scanning all your programs and reporting any missing updates and open vulnerabilities. (Thanks Ryan!)

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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July 26, 2007 Posted by | advice, BSOD, computers, how to, IE 7, PC, removing Updates, Safe Mode, security zones, System Tray, Taskbar, tech, Windows, XP | 1 Comment