Showing posts with the label Windows XP

Dates differ for Excel between Mac and Windows

Who knew? The default date system in Excel for a Mac is different than that used on Windows. I was working across spreadsheets, referencing a column from one to a column from another and my results were driving me crazy. First it appeared my results column was just not formatted for dates as I was just getting numbers. But when I changed the column to be formatted for dates, I got dates but they were off by about 4 years. After checking my formula, which I've used countless times ( Lookup values in Excel ), I finally went searching and found this article, Microsoft Excel Date Systems for Windows and Mac . Sure enough, one of the spreadsheets I had created on my Mac while the other came from a Windows user. Bottom line, Windows uses the 1900 date system while Macs use the 1904 date system. Before you create a spreadsheet you can change the date system, but if changed afterward it will also change your dates, so be careful. Read Microsoft Excel Date Systems for Windows and Mac

Analyze your computer and reveal software keys

I've been using Belarc Advisor , a free personal tool for analyzing your Windows computer, for some time now. It will provide a detailed analysis of several items: Installed hardware Installed software and version number Windows Updates, and indicate if any are missing Checks for virus protection and last scan Software keys Software usage (frequency) User accounts and last login What I like best is that it reports the software keys of my installed software. While it doesn't appear to grab all software keys on my personal computer, it lists all of them from my work computer including Microsoft, Adobe, Corel and TechSmith. I recently used it before rebuilding my Dad's computer. In addition to being certain to have his software license keys, I was able to also view what programs he hadn't used in sometime -- therefore I didn't reinstall them. Considering adding more RAM to your PC? Instead of taking the cover off to do a visual inspection, use Belarc Advisor to identi

Useful Windows Utilities

I ran across a few useful, free Windows utilities today, all from Mike Lin . Though he created these years ago, I found them still helpful. Startup Control Panel : This tool installs in your Windows Control Panel and allows you to disable programs that are configured to start on Startup. In October 2006 in my XP Memory Problems and Startup Applications post I wrote about a similar program, Startup Inspector , which I've continued to use. I like Startup Control Panel a little more, but they both should work for you. StartUpMonitor : The purpose of StartUpMonitor is to monitor programs on install and notify you before they add a new Startup program. While I haven't used it yet, I like this idea as I can catch these before they get into my system instead of having to use Startup Control Panel or Startup Inspector after the fact. Clipomatic : Clipomatic will keep a "clipboard" of your copy/cut text, so you can access and reuse items clipped long after you've made new

Fonts not displaying or printing correctly

Ever have a Word (or other) document given you by someone else, and it didn't display the fonts correctly? Perhaps they sent you a PDF or image of the file, and it displayed correctly there, but not in the file that you want to now update. The first thing to check is to make sure you have the same fonts on your system. An easy check is to look at the font list in your application. For example, if you're supposed to display Frutiger 45 Light, but its not in the list, then it's likely not installed. If you don't have the font, and can get access to it, Microsoft has a process for installing it to your Windows machine. In some cases, you may have the font, but it still doesn't display correctly nor is it in the list of fonts in your application. This is likely due to the original file being created on a Mac. It may even occur in some applications, such as Word or QuarkXpress, but not in others, such as Photoshop. The reason is that Windows uses style-linking, while th

Create 2nd Set of HP/Compaq Recovery Disks

Once upon a time, some 5 years ago I got a new Compaq PC. I diligently created restore disks, in case the hard drive ever crashed. Fast forward to the present, and I started having boot problems due to a hard drive problem. Fortunately I had an automated backup running every day and I made my restore disks. Uh oh, I couldn't find my disks. No problem, I'll make more. Err, it wont let me make more! Huh? Google to the rescue! After many searches and poking into newsgroups, I found a promising lead. I either had to delete 3 instances of hpdrcu.prc on the restore drive (D:\) or HPCD.SYS located on the restore drive and in C:\windows\SMINT. Upon looking at the restore drive, it was locked down, so I couldn't get to the file. Fortunately I found a utility, FreeCommander , that ignored the Windows locks and tricks. After renaming the files (never delete until you know you have the right files), I was able to successfully run the CD Creator utility and create a new set of recove

Increase IIS on XP Maximum Connections

With increasingly more complex web pages, I found myself running into a limit in the number of IIS connections allowed for the constrained web server on Windows XP. By default Microsoft has limited the connections to 10. Even when I changed the time to release connections down to 5 minutes, I was still running into problems. With a little Google searching, I found a solution ( here , here , and here ). Apparently the hard-coded limitation Microsoft has set is 40 connections. The trick is determining how to raise the level from 10 to 40. There's a script, adsutil, that can do this for you. Go to the Command Prompt and navigate to C:\Inetpub\AdminScripts. Enter "adsutil set w3svc/MaxConnections 40". If you get an error message, "This script does not work with WScript," click OK and click Yes to make Cscript as the default script for VBscript. When this completes, go back to the Command Prompt and press F3 (repeats last command) and Enter. If you were successful, t

Increase IIS Connections running on XP

When developing locally on IIS, with the addition of AJAX, I found myself running out of connections -- the default is 10. Turns out you can bump the connections up to 40. Here's what you need to do: Open the command prompt Navigate to \inetpub\adminscripts Enter the following command: cscript adsutil.vbs set w3svc/MaxConnections 40 Restart IIS ( you can use iisreset at the same command prompt) That's all there is to it.

Lose my CD / DVD Drives

Recently I experienced several little problems with my Windows XP desktop. It started with losing the sound and the inability for Skype to answer. After trying various things, I rebooted, which brought back the audio and seemed to have corrected Skype. Unfortunately, I then lost my 2 CD/DVD drives plus one virtual CD/DVD drive. Losing the virtual drive should have been the clue, which I initially missed. They all displayed in the Systems hardware window, but with error 31 messages. After looking for and installing new or replacement drivers, I still had the same problem. I finally ran across a knowledge base article from Microsoft . You can no longer access the CD drive or the DVD drive, or you receive an error message after you remove a CD recording program or a DVD recording program in Windows XP: "error code 31" The solution was to delete two apparently corrupt Registry entries and then re-install all software that have a burn CD and/or DVD feature. A pain to go through th

Add an extra layer of security for Win XP users

Long time readers of my blog know that I am not very fond of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express because of their security vulnerabilities. Due to that, I switched a long time ago to Firefox and Thunderbird. Unfortunately due to my job, I find myself having to use Internet Explorer more and more. We have a 3rd-party application that we access over the Internet that requires Internet Explore. In addition, I do our web development, which requires that I test everything in Internet Explorer. Also, I have assumed responsibilities for the Webmaster role for the Cascade Blues Association (CBA), which again requires testing in Internet Explorer. It also added another email account to monitor. In order to keep the CBA account separate from my personal and work email accounts, I decided to re-load Outlook Express. So back to my point. Most users, including me, run Windows XP with Administrative privileges. For most folks it's due to not knowing any better or not knowing how to change. Fo

New PC? Buy basic and build out as needed

Gizmodo's Prof. Dealzmodo takes a similar approach to buy PCs as I do. Buy a low-end machine and then buy third-party components if/when required. You can read the Gizmodo article to get an idea, but I'll also throw in some of my own thoughts. First, you must get at least 2 GB of RAM. If you can still get Windows XP, then you can stop at 2 GBs. If you are stuck with Vista, add at least 1 more GB -- if you add 2, giving you 4 total, 0.5 GB will go to waste unless you go with a 64-bit Vista. This introduces potential compatibility problems with older hardware and games, so likely you will want to stick with the non-64-bit versions. For monitors, it's likely you already have 1 or more. If it's time to get a new one, look for 3rd party deals. Sometimes running 2 side-by-side can be more effective than one large display -- putting them at an angel can be easier to view than turning your head from side to side (avoid the 30" displays). In terms of a video card to drive

Easily change the default program for a specific file type in Windows XP

I recently found that my Word and Excel files were associated with another program and I wanted to change them back. Windows XP as with prior versions of Windows allows you to do this through Explorer, but it's time consuming and easy to do wrong. Here's the quick and easy way to associate a file type with an application. Right-click on a file of the file type (e.g. "My-Word.doc") Click Open With... Click Choose Program... (last option in the list) Choose Select the program from a list and click OK Select the program you want associated to the file type If you don't find the application program you're looking for, click Browse... and locate the programs .exe file Click the box next to Always use the selected program to open this kind of file Click OK This opens the file in the program you chose and the icon of the file will change to the programs icon.

Cannot format new hard drive

I got a new external hard drive to use for backups. Before starting, I wanted to format the drive as NTFS, instead of the default FAT32. When I tried though, the system always gave me an error message,"volume is in use by another process." Of course I checked and checked, and was certain nothing else was using the drive. It turns out that the drive when initial setup was added to the System Restore Monitoring; I needed to remove it to format the drive. Here's how to do that: Go to Start >> All Programs >> Accessories >> System Tools >> System Restore Click the System Restore Settings in the right pane Highlight the drive Click Settings Check "Turn off System Restore" on this drive Click OK Click OK again Click Cancel (to close the Welcome to System Restore dialog) For a drive that I am using as a backup drive (a data only drive), there is no reason to use System restore, so after formatting, I did not re-enable. Note that if you are a Win

You're keeping up with Microsoft updates, aren't you?

Ars technica reported yesterday that a recent Microsoft update, with its Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), removed nearly 1 million fake anti-virus programs from users' machines. This is a good reminder to us all -- make sure you're keeping up with the Microsoft patches, which are typically released the second Tuesday of every month. Unless you're technically astute enough to critically review each and every patch, I would recommend you set it for auto-update. Here's how to do it. Go to Control Panel Click on Security Center If not already set to "ON", click on "OFF" next to Automatic Updates to change it In the "Manage security settings for category" click on "Automatic Updates" Click on the radio button next to Automatic (recommended) and set the frequency to every day at an hour when you rarely or never use your computer This is a great example to why security protection is the number one reason you should be running a

Tweak Windows without Regedit

I ran across a nice program that makes it very easy to tweak many Windows settings that normally could only be done by manually making changes to the Registry. TweakNow WinSecret is a free Windows XP and Vista application that has tweaks in 12 categories. The categories are as follows: Applications Control Panel Desktop Miscellaneous Network & Internet OEM Info Special Folder Start Menu User Accounts Windows Core Windows Explorer Windows Startup Here are just a few of the many tweaks you can make. Enable or disable Desktop icons such as Internet Explorer and Printers and Faxes Disable the Desktop Cleanup Wizard prompt from showing every 60 days Move special folders such as the location of My Music or Internet Explorer Cookies Change the menu display speed, i.e. length of pause before a menu expands Hide submenus Add context menu ites such as Copy to Folder and Move to Folder Disable Startup programs Add text to the message box that appears before log on This is just a small list o

Add / Change / Delete Systems Properties General Tab

For most of us, we bought our XP computer from a vendor who customized the display of the Systems Properties General tab (Control Panel >> System Properties). Microsoft has made it easy to put your own custom logo and Support Information on this tab. Go to "C:\WINDOWS\system32" and search for oeminfo.ini. Open oeminfo.ini with a text editor such as notepad to make changes. If the file does not exist on your system, you can create the file. Here's the syntax: [General] Manufacturer=The Company Model=The Model supporturl= [Support Information] Line1="Customer Care provides support" Line2="for basic Windows XP questions." Line3="Please refer to the Warranty and Support Guide" Line4="for complete support information in your country." Line5 = "" Line6 = "" Line7 = "In the United States, call 1-800-652-6672. " Line8 = "" Line9 = "Support is available 24 hours per da

Language Bar keeps returning to Taskbar

I recently got a new laptop with Windows XP and I'm slowly getting it configured to all my preferences. One thing I noticed is that everytime I rebooted, the Language Bar would reappear in the Taskbar. No matter how many times I removed it, it would rear its ugly head again. With a little research, I found out how to stop this nasty behavior. You need to un-register and re-register a DLL that controls the behavior. Specifically, here's what you do: Go to Start and click Run... Enter"Regsvr32.exe /u msimtf.dll" and click OK Go to Start and click Run... Enter "Regsvr32.exe msimtf.dll" and click OK Next time you reboot, it wont show up.

Improve right-clicking options by expand SendTo's list

How often do you use the right-click on your mouse a s a shortcut to tasks that otherwise would take much longer? Sometimes I find I want to open a file in an application that is different than the default application. For that purpose, I right-click the file and hover over Open With Other times though, I may want to send the file in an email, or zip it up, and sometimes, OpenWith is not even listed. For these times, I use SendTo . Microsoft has made it very easy to customize SendTo to meet your needs. The default options include all the drives on your computer, zip, shortcut on the Desktop, an attachment in your default email, or to My Documents. For my own list, I have added all my web browsers (except the default), because when I right-click on an HTML file shortcut (URL), there is no OpenWith option. I also added Dreamweaver, as it does not always show up in the OpenWith dialog for file formats. Notepad has also been a good addition, as often times there are file formats I want to

Tweak for even more speed from XP

Windows XP (like all Windows operating systems) uses a technique of storing some content of its system memory (RAM) to the hard drive, therefore using less memory for functions that are used less often. So what Windows is doing is keep functions used most often in RAM and "swapping" out less used functions on to your hard drive. Though great in principle, if/when a function is needed that is stored on the hard drive, the system must reload it in memory before it is used, which makes things work slower. This is particularly true when Windows stores central parts (referred to as the kernel) of Windows itself on the hard drive. If you have 256 MB or more of RAM, a simple Registry change keeping the kernel from being swapped to the hard drive can give you some performance improvements. Here's how you do it: Click Start Click Run... Enter Regedit and click OK (opens the Registry Editor) Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ Session Manager \ M

Speed up XP menus

This is a simple Registry setting that will speed up your Windows XP menus. Click Start Click Run... Enter Regedit and click OK Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Control Panel \ Desktop \ MenuShowDelay Change the default value of 400 A value of 0 would open a menu even if you just pass the mouse over it, so try a value of 100 or 200.

The Best, Free CD and DVD Burner

I was provided a used laptop at my new job a few months back, and I was surprised when I did not find a pre-installed CD burning software such as Sonic or Roxio. This led me on a hunt to find something for free; I ended up with CDBurnerXP . I was quite impressed with how easy to use CDBurnerXP is to use -- the screens are very intuitive and helpful. When creating a data disk, you get a Windows Explore like view on the top half of the screen, where you can navigate to the files you want to burn and drag them to the bottom half of the screen. Seems obvious and simple, but not all programs work so well. As I add my files, a bar across the bottom shows how much space I've used; if I exceed the capacity of my disc, the background color changes from green to red. To create an audio disk is very similar, except the bottom half shows my tracks and their details. CDBurnerXP makes it very easy to drag and drop audio tracks to put them in the order you desire. If you want to sample a file, yo