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Showing posts from October, 2011

A+: Indexing in Windows

Indexing, in theory, helps you find files faster, but also consumes hard disk space can can steal CPU and memory to slow down your system overall. Instead, you might just set up indexing of your My Documents folders (XP) or your User folders (Vista/7).

XP indexing can be disabled with Start | My Computer | Manage (which invokes Computer Management) | (at left) Services and Applications  | Services | (at right) Indexing Service | right-click, pick Stop.  Pick Start to resume indexing.  A right-click on the Indexing Service will show it the service is Automatic (it will restart at the next reboot), Manual (only restarts if asks for) or Disabled (won't run). A right-click on any drive or volume, picking Properties and un-choosing Allow Indexing Service to Index This Disk for Fast File Searching can also turn off indexing. Do not index optical discs or removable flash memory devices.
In Vista/7, indexing can be disabled with Start | right-clicking on Computer | Manage (which invokes Com…

A+: Tuning the Start Menu Properties

Picking Properties after right-clicking on the Taskbar invokes Taskbar and Start Menu Properties lets you choose the Start Menu to customize it, including:
 Choosing the icon size  Removing recently opened document shortcuts Pick from a list for what appears in the Start Menu and Taskbar (Classic Start menu only) Clear the IE browser history, cookies and cache (Default Start menu only) Whether to add most frequently used programs Its Advanced tab also allows choice of  Submenu auto-open Newly installed app highlighting Links vs menus for standard Start menu items Standard Start menu items Listing or not listing most recently used documents 


A+: Start Menu

Manually editing the automatically generated Start Menu can ease the selection of programs. Most apps automatically assign one or more links and/or folders in it for one-click launching, but click-and-drag allows you to recategorize programs, and right clicking allows sorts and cut-and-paste as well as renaming and deleting. You can also switch from large to small icons to permit more apps in a list, or upsize the icons if desired.
Adding to the default Start menu starts with a right-click on its button; pick Explore to add a new item to your own menu or Explore All Users to add to all users' Start menus. Shortcuts appear on the right, the menu folder opens on the left. Expand a folder by clicking on its + symbol.
Pick on a folder by clicking on it at left, or right click to create a new folder. File | New | Shortcut starts a wizard for the Shortcut (for your menu only); then, directly enter a path to the app or browse to it. You can optionally rename the app as it will appear befor…

A+: More Control Panel

Properties Sheets allow you to invoke many Control Panel functions by picking Properties after right-clicking in:
My Computer/Computer, for the System WindowTaskbar, for Taskbar and Start Menu PropertiesDesktop (in XP) for the Display window (In Vista/7, the Personalize Control Panel opens Personalization for the same functionality)Network in Vista/7, for the Network and Sharing Center (In XP, right-clicking on My Network Places to pick Properties opens Network Connections)You can also launch many Control Panel options from the Command Prompt; for example Start | Run | inetcpl.cpl opens the Internet Properties dialog where you can click on Delete to clear Temporary Internet Files (aka Cache), Cookies and Browsing History, which can solve many Internet Explorer problems.

A+: My Computer (aka Computer in Vista and 7) and the Control Panel

Computer/My Computer is another option of Windows Explorer which can showlocal drivesnetwork drivesthe Control Panel folderimaging devices (cameras, scanners)XP uses the System Tasks pane at left to view system information by opening the system properties sheet, to Add or Remove Programs or Change a Setting.  Vista and 7 show those options beneath the menu bar. 

The Control Panel 
The Category View is the default view of this launching pad for tuning the user interface and hardware settings of Windows, although the Classic View is also popular for new users who like a more function-by-function visualization. Available tasks are shown when you click on an icon.  
Start the Control Panel from the left window pane of Windows Explorer, the Start button, or from My Computer/Computer; the Classic Start menu requires the flow Start | Settings | Control Panel
The Classic View in XP requires a double click; otherwise, use a single click.

A+: Task Bar and the Tray

The Tray, Notification area, System Tray or SysTray is the expandable bit at (normally) lower right which holds the Clock as well as icons for other always-running apps you need to interact with, such as the Speaker icon for sound control, the Safely Remove Hardware icon for un-mounting USB flash drives, and the Wireless icon on laptops to show if you're connected and how much signal strength you have. 

To the left of the Tray you may see other components; the most popular to the left of the Tray is the Language Bar, which unless you do computer dictation is of little use, then the Task Bar itself, which tells you what programs are running, followed further to the left by the optional Quick Launch (which is highly useful and shows very frequently used apps for a very quick start). At farthest left is always the Start button where you invoke the start menu showing a path to all apps and all settings.
Always, that is, unless you click and drag the inside the bar from its customary p…

A+: My Network Places

My Network Places manages both dial-up and broadband, and shows network locations listed in the standard multi-pane Explorer view. If you need to see the type of connection, go to the tasks pane and and click on View Network Connections. Right-clicking on the connection and choosing Properties lets you configure a connection. If you need to fix a failed connection, select it then choose Repair This Connection in the pane for Network Tasks. 
The Properties sheet shows services, network clients and protocols, and the Sharing tab under Properties lets you share a Wi-Fi connection with an Xbox 360 over a cable if you're on a road trip in a hotel with an Internet connection which requires a sign-in to connect. 

A+: Switching Viewing Choices in Windows Explorer

Changing Viewing Options in Windows ExplorerBy default, Windows Explorer prevents users from seeing information such as • File extensions for registered file types; for example, a file called LETTER.DOC will be displayed as LETTER because WordPad (or Microsoft Word) is associated with .DOC files. • The full path to the current folder. • Files with hidden or system attributes, such as Bootlog.txt and Msdos.sys. • Folders with hidden or system attributes, such as INF (used for hardware installation). Concealing this information is intended to make it harder for users to “break” Windows, but it makes management and troubleshooting more difficult.  To change these and other viewing options, follow this procedure: Step 1. Start Windows Explorer. Step 2. Click Tools on the menu bar, Folder Options and select the View tab.  
In Windows Vista, the Menu Bar is hidden by default. To show it temporarily, press Alt+T (which in this case will bring up the Tools menu). To show it permanently, click on th…

A+: Windows and the Common Tasks View

When you start My Computer in Windows XP, the Common Tasks view is displayed by default. The Common Tasks view displays the properties of the selected object and displays a preview when available. However, the most significant feature is the changeable task pane in the upper-left side of the display. In Windows Vista, this has been replaced by “Favorite Links” and Windows 7 adds the "Libraries" option. The contents and name of the task pane change according to the characteristics of the selected or displayed object. For example, display My Computer, and the task pane is titled System Tasks, with a choice of options such as View System Information, Add or Remove Programs, or Change a Setting. The contents of Other Places also changes to display related objects. To switch between Common Tasks and Classic view, click the Folders icon on the toolbar.

A+: Windows interfaces and Windows Explorer

Windows features a variety of user interfaces, from Windows Explorer to the Start menu. 
Windows Explorer is the file-management utility used by Windows. Windows can use Explorer to view both local drive/network and Internet content. In Windows XP it integrates tightly with My Computer and Internet Explorer. However, in Windows 7, Vista and Windows XP systems using Internet Explorer 7 or higher, Windows Explorer will launch a new process when connecting to Internet sites.
By default, Windows Explorer doesn’t display hidden and system files unless the View options are changed.
Windows Explorer can be started in any of the following ways in Windows: • From the Start menu, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Windows Explorer. • Open the Run prompt, type Explorer and press Enter. • Open My Computer to start Explorer automatically.

A+: Key Windows components to emphasize

Key Windows components to emphasize in A+ study are: • Registry • Virtual Memory • File Systems
Windows' Registry is a database for Windows, applications, and user settings. When you install a program, update Windows, or even change the color of the desktop, a part of the Windows Registry changes. There are five different sections (known as hives) to the Windows Registry, whether it’s the Registry in Windows 7, Vista, XP, or 2000: • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT—Links file extensions to specific applications installed on the computer (also stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE) • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—Stores configurations specific to the current user, such as screensaver, desktop theme, and Microsoft Office user information (also stored in HKEY_USERS) • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE—Stores hardware and software setup information • HKEY_USERS—Stores user-specific information for all users of this computer • HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG—Stores the settings for the current hardware profile (also stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MA…

A+: Advancements to the GUI since XP

Now that more machines use Windows 7 than use Windows XP, let's look at advancements in the GUI (Graphical User Interface) advances made since XP:
• Windows Aero— Microsoft’s new visual experience, with translucent windows, window animations, three-dimensional viewing of windows, and a modified taskbar. You can make modifications to the look of Aero by right-clicking the desktop and selecting Personalize, and then clicking Windows Color and Appearance. From here you can modify things such as the transparency of windows. To disable Windows Aero, click the Theme link from within the Personalize window. Then, from the Theme drop down menu, select Windows Classic.
• Welcome Center— This is the window that opens automatically when you first start Windows Vista. After installing the operating system, it a good starting point for running initial tasks such as connecting to the Internet, transferring files from another computer, adding users, and learning more about Windows. The Welcome …

A+: Operating systems, and GUI advancements of XP over Windows 2000

Operating systems: Advancements from Windows 2000

The Windows XP GUI (Graphic User Interface) has several differences compared to its predecessor Windows 2000:

• Personalized start menu for each user.

• Two-column start menu; the left column displays the most recently or frequently used programs and access to default applications for Internet and email, while the right column provides access to the user’s documents folders and Control Panel. To see all programs, hover your mouse over All Programs.

• Task bar adjusts in size according to the number of programs that are running and the number of quick launch icons in use.

• Start menu and desktop can also be configured to run in a Classic mode similar to the one used by Windows 2000. In Classic mode, the Start menu displays the name of the operating system along the left side in the same way that earlier versions of Windows display the name.

To change only the start menu to the Classic mode, right-click the Start button, select Propertie…

A+: Application compatibility with Windows versions

Most commercial business applications should run properly on Windows 7/Vista/XP as well as on older versions of Windows. However, some commercial and custom applications designed for older versions of Windows to run properly on Windows 7, Vista or XP, you can use the Program Compatibility Wizard built into Windows, or the Compatibility tab located on the executable file’s properties sheet to run the program in a selected compatibility mode.

To start the wizard in Windows 7 or Vista, click Start, Control Panel and then click the Programs icon. Then, under Programs and Features click the link Use an Older Program with This Version of Windows. This program works essentially the same in 7 and Vista as it does in XP.

To start the wizard in Windows XP, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Program Compatibility Wizard.

Once the wizard is started, you can select from programs already installed on your computer, select the current program in the CD-ROM drive, or browse to the program manual…

A+: History of Windows

1985: Windows 1.0 offered titled windows, the use of a mouse (heretofore restricted largely to graphics creation programs) and borrowed on IBM's Common User Interface ('CUI') to create the menu-at-the-top interface still used today in many apps. Multi-tasking was co-operative, not pre-emptive, and all programs were 16-bit, just like MS-DOS applications.

1987: Windows 2.0 added icons to make program launching easier, as well as the Program Information File (.PIF) which allowed easier configuration of programs to launch from the Windows desktop. Windows could now overlap, whereas with 1.0, they could only be tiled.
1990: Windows 3.0 allowed use of memory past the 640 KB limit, added virtual memory, and the File Manager and Program Manager applications.
1992: Windows 3.1 added Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) which permits data from one application to be easily used in another (such as drag-and-drop of a picture from Paint or a spreadsheet from Excel into a Word document). …

A+: More on Operating Systems

Multi-tasking and task switching:
  Task switching looks like your computer is doing many things at once, but really it just puts one program on hold and changes to another when you ask for it.    Co-operative multi-tasking was an early Windows method which waited for the application running to control and release resources such as memory, but when that program failed, your computer locked up.   Preemptive multi-tasking is more sophisticated; the OS now schedules when a program can use resources, and takes back control of resources to give to other programs. If one application locks up, other programs also running don't suffer. 
Windows processor features and memory:   Multi-threading allows one CPU (Central Processing Unit, the central chip of personal computers) to look to Windows as if it were multiple CPUs. Multi-threading first reached the desktop in 2002 with the 3.06 GHz version of Intel's Pentium 4. Also known as Hyper-Threading, it's also included in Intel's A…

A+: Operating Systems Intro

The operating system, or 'OS', communicates with PC hardware so users can give input & get output. It provides standardized disk and file management, access to devices, manages memory and formats the output from the system to display, storage and printing devices. Some tasks a computer does are used so often that it makes sense to move those tasks into the OS so the application developer does not need to duplicate the efforts of other developers.


  Driver software tells the OS how to control and work with specific hardware. Again, offloading the development of drivers, like the development of the OS, away from the application, allows quicker development of programs, as well as greater diversity and faster innovation in computer peripheral development. 
  Applications supplement the commands within the OS to do jobs not built in to the OS.
  Software, whether a driver, an application or the OS, has a version number, so the administrator or user can see which version of a…

Free business management cloud service, SohoOS

http://www.sohoos.com/welcome/what-is-sohoos/solution explains a new, free, business service providing accounting and CRM (Customer Relations Management) with billing, receivables and payables, plus document, project and inventory management, which also works from a smartphone.

PC Magazine's review noted: SohoOS sports two tabs, Tools and Communication, which carry costs. Users can either pay per usage or sign up for a "VIP" membership that loads extra cash, direct support, and training. If you're looking to distribute bulk e-mails or SMS messages, host a VOIP conference, or send a fax, you can pay to play through the Communication tab.

If you run your small business out of your hat, their FAQ and manual can tell you more about how it works.

Easy website builder w/ hosting

http://onepagerapp.com/ lets you create your own business website without technical knowledge, and host it cheaply, too.

Inc, Tech said, "Business owners enter the name of their company, a tagline, and body text on a template provided by Onepager. The site registers the company’s domain name and helps create custom email addresses. The company says its product strips away any technical knowledge that may keep a company from building its own website."  
If you'd like to avoid having to build that vanity business website for your brother-in-law, looks like a good choice.

However, Blogger, Google's web logging service which creates, hosts and manages this site, is also free and allows building some attractive web pages, or you can use free tools to create the web page(s) like MarkdownPad, a full-featured Markdown editor for Windows XP-Vista-7, which does text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers, converting text to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML), using .NET 4.0 and…

A+: Laser printers and their other components

Printer Interfaces:
  Ethernet (max 330' of cable without an intermediate switch or bridge), USB (max 16' without a powered hub or special cable) and WiFi are the most common now, but others include parallel (old popular system, maximum of 50' using a very bulky cable), serial (very slow, also with a bulky cable), SCSI (rare), InfraRed ('IR'), Appletalk (no longer sold by Apple and slow), IEEE-1394 AKA Firewire (rare), and Bluetooth (33' max.).


Printer languages:   If the computer has to send a dot-by-dot map ('bitmap') of each page to be printed, that's a lot of data to send down the wire. That's inescapable when printing pictures, but when you're sending a page of text   Therefore, printer control languages were created, so the data stream can be shrunk. The more powerful languages, such as Postscript, require more processing power in the printer control circuitry, shifting the printing burden from the computer and using a terse, elegant syn…

A+: Laser Printer Details

Toner in electrophotographic systems bears a negative charge, and paper (like most objects) has a positive charge.  The fusing system uses heat and pressure to fuse, or melt, toner onto the paper. The fuser roller is a Teflon-coated solid aluminum roller, heated by a halogen lamp.

Fusers run at 329-365 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to PAINFULLY burn you!

Another health risk is the ozone from older laser printers which us a corona wire, instead of a corona roller. Make sure to remove the ozone filter and dust it off outside when chnging your toner if you have one of those older printers.

The controller in the laser printer orchestrates all processes, especially turning the stream of data coming from a computer into a 'bitmap' of black and white areas so the black areas are covered with melted toner. More memory in the buffer of the controller speeds up the intake of the print job from the computer so the computer program can move on to the next page, print job or task.

The proces…

A+: Laser printer fundamentals

The laser ('electrophotographic') printer was invented in 1971, and first sold in 1984. It uses 'toner', a black or colored substance mixed with iron oxide so electrostatic charges can move it, plus a polyester resin which melts into the paper.


Toner cartridges add a developer/carrier as well as contain the toner. A drum or belt is also normally built into the cartridge, along with a scraper blade which removes excess toner. When a laser beam strikes the drum or belt, a photo-sensitive coating gives up a charge, so the toner will stick to the drum or belt where needed. The drum/belt not hit by the laser beam are statically charged so toner won't stick to it. A high voltage power supply in the laser printer generates the charge; that power supply is dangerous, can threaten your life, and should never be opened up.


A transfer corona wire or roller (roller-based systems are faster) moves the toner from the drum to the paper. A static eliminator strip drains the charge …

A+ More on bubblejet printing:

The printhead carriage contains the heads, the ink (in almost all designs) and connections to the print head. The carriage is moved by the carriage belt, carriage motor (for large scale motion) and stepper motor (for the tiny motions which allow one row of bubble jets to consecutively print to form letters and other characters).  It rides on a stabilizer bar linked by pulleys attached to the carriage motor. Pickup rollers in the paper tray or paper feeder work against coarse cork or rubber separator pads to pick just one sheet at a time, and are turned by a printer stepper motor. Clean those rollers and pads with mild soap and warm water; alcohol and solvents can dry out rubber and cork.  Paper feed sensors watch for jams and report to the printer control circuits. Those control circuits connect to the interface circuits and the printer's buffer to process data, and the power circuits turn wall outlet power into the voltages (typically 12vDC and 5vDC) needed for the motors and logic…

A+ More on printing tech

A+ More on printing tech
Bubble jet printers have four major types of components
 a) The print head and ink cartridge (HP designs normally combine those in one part, Canon designs normally keeps them separated)
 b) The head carriage, belt and stepper motor
 c) The paper feed system
 d) The power supply, interface and control board.

The print head typically uses ink in the colors of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, with 100-200 mozzles. HP designs push ink through the nozzles by applying heat and vaporizing a small amount of ink to push more ink out onto the paper; Canon designs use piezo-electric principles, applying electricity to crystals which then flex and push ink through the nozzles. Either way, the print head and ink cartridge return to a 'maintenance station' at the edge of the printer where the printhead assembly rests and where ink is suctioned out of the nozzles to prevent clogs.

A+: Printing technologies

Printer mechanisms are mostly either Impact Printers (Daisywheel and Dot Matrix), Bubble-Jet (including Ink Jet) and Laser Printers. Less popular mechanisms include LED printers (Okidata's & Panasonic's less expensive / simpler equivalents of laser printers), solid ink printers (pioneered by Textronix before assimilated by Xerox) and dye-sublimation printers (slow, spendy and superb quality).

 Also, there are the ubiquitous thermal printers (cheap, but heat destroys the image so not used for anything you want to save, and the slick paper has toxic BPA in it).

A+: Less Power!

A+: Less Power!
ACPI, the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface, was first published in 1996 as an open standard, was first included in Windows '98, and has replaced the earlier APM Advanced Power Management, which was dropped from Windows when Vista was released. ACPI provides common interfaces for finding what kind of hardware a PC has, and how to manage it. The computer's main board, CPU and operating system must all support it to work.

How do I fine-tune my power settings?
in XP, do Start | Control Panel | Performance and Maintenance | Power Options
in Vista, do Start | Control Panel | Mobile PC | Power Options
in Seven, do Start | Control Panel | Power Options

Or, right-click on an empty spot on the Windows Desktop, | Properties | Screen Saver | Power

There are four or five tabs: Power Schemes, Alarms (laptop) or UPS (some desktops), Power Meter, Advanced and Hibernate. In Power Scheme, Portable and Laptop machines have a separate setting for when plugged in vs when …