Posted by: evtechie | November 30, 2009

Windows 7 Overview

Once again, the questions fly when Microsoft releases something new. I have been contemplating buying Windows 7, for the sake of playing and learning. I have a few clients with the new system on new computers, and as I have had a little time to meander through the Windows 7 world, I have found it a bit refreshing compared to Vista. Vista has been a donkey of an operating system, removing control and distancing users from well known features so that a whole new thinking process had to emerge. Windows 7 seems to be better thought out, removing the guess work out of it, and offering some great features that are useful and time-saving. I especially have liked the preview of open items, the ability to compare windows, and a cleaner use of memory (Vista used 1GIG of memory to function, W7 uses only half a gig, so older computers are supposed to enjoy this new Operating system).

A few of the down sides of the new OS, is that again, Microsoft wants you to purchase purchase purchase… so the price continues to be steep. I upgraded my new Mac OS for $29… you can expect to pay at LEAST $110 for the basic-basic version of Windows 7. Additionally, if you used Windows Mail in Vista, or Outlook Express, don’t expect to find either in the new OS. Microsoft offers a download of a simple mail software, but you have little control… What Microsoft REALLY wants you to do is decide you need something better and buy Microsoft Outlook 2007 to save your productivity. It’s all about the money. I am hoping I have more to report once I purchase Windows 7 and really see it myself.

I found this video online that provides a wonderful overview; so “Thanks to Microsoft and CompUSA” for this clip. Take about 5 minutes to view… you may find some fun features to contemplate before you take the chance… either way, if buying a system this holiday season… look for one with Windows 7 before Vista!

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Posted by: evtechie | April 28, 2009

Mystery SP3 Update – Mac

On one of my recent CA adventures I ran into an entirely new problem with an iMac running Boot Camp that was not able to install updates or the wonderful Service Pack 3 updates critical to security.  I always get nervous on Mac systems when they run dual platforms, only because in the early stages of our own company expansion to Mac we lost a ton of critical work in an effort run both OSX and Windows XP. Regardless, when in doubt, I run, no JUMP, to the internet… because someone has ALWAYS solved the problem before me. I love that my clients think I am genius, but it isn’t always that way. I just know where to look for the answers.

The problem, specifically?  As soon as she ran the update for SP3, it would behave like it was analyzing the system, collecting critical files… and at the end of a 20 minute wait she would get the following message:

“There is not enough disk space on C:\WINDOWS\$NtServicePackUninstall$ to install Service Pack 3. Setup requires an additional 2 megabytes of free space or if you also want to archive the files for uninstallation, setup requires 4 additional megabytes of free space. Free additional space on your hard disk and then try again.”

Back to square one… or screen one – “Your computer has updates…”

http://www.windowsreference.comoffered the solutions to fixing this issue. It doesn’t surprise me that the Mac, running Boot Camp wouldn’t really make a “C:/” Drive on the system. The computer acts like it, but it really isn’t the same. The solution: tweak the registry!

[Word of warning… if your whole life depends on your computer to function, you are better off putting registry tweaks in the hands of an actual computer geek – or Angel!]

  1. Click Start – Run – Type “regedit” and press enter.
  2. Navigate to[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Setup]

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
    \Software
    \Microsoft
    \Windows
    \CurrentVersion
    \Setup

  3. In the right pane, Right-click and select New – String value
  4. Name it as “BootDir” and set its value to “C:\” (without the quotes)

The solution worked like a charm, and within the next 20 minutes Windows completed the task  with a smile!  Always something new to do on computers!

Posted by: evtechie | March 17, 2009

Email Rules in Outlook

training1A lot of my clients are anxious to filter out the emails that are important or usually get filed away. If you get an average of 20 emails a day from Dave in Accounting, and it is hard to pick them out from all the other emails you get from everyone else, then you may benefit from using RULES and FOLDERS.

FOLDERS are a huge organization tool. Creating folders in Outlook is easy. RIGHT click on your inbox –> choose NEW FOLDER–> Then Name it. The folder appears in the file tree in Outlook. One of the ways that I have sorted my folders is for the Web Design Business and our clients. Each client gets a folder (we have so many that I now have folders labeled “A-D, E-G, etc” into which I have filed each clients folder) All critical communications come out of my INBOX and get filed into the client folder. This allows me to quickly see a communication history, and mark important emails for future reference.

What is a rule? Using Rules is a great way to keep your life uncluttered. A Rule is a specific command you provide to Outlook on how to handle your emails based on several pieces of information like which email account it is coming from, who it is coming from, a specific subject, or even if it only arrives to you as a CC (Carbon Copy). There are so many ways to organize!

Some of the ways in which I use RULES on my Outlook are:

  1. Isolate emails from my business partner (and husband) from the plethora of emails that arrive daily. All his emails plop into a specific folder I have created under my Inbox – and CHIME to let me know they are there.
  2. Isolate emails marked as SPAM by my email provider and move them directly to a Junk folder
  3. Isolate Subscriptions that I have asked for – like my daily Wall Street Journal and Daily OHM – critical emails!
  4. Mark certain emails from critical clients with a color so they are easily identifiable within the masses of other emails.

How do you set up an email filter??  A rule usually has commands that look similar to this but are completely customizable Where the subject line contains the specific words: SPAM,, Move it/Delete it/Copy it to: (You indicate the folder or place).  When you apply a rule, all new messages will be filtered based on your rules.

  • In OUTLOOK-  Go to TOOLS -> Rules Wizard (you can also hit ORGANIZE and Outlook should walk you through setting up a junk filter)
    • Click NEW, then put checks into each of the specific steps it asks you about.
    • If an item is underlined, it means you can click it to modify the “terminology” you want to filter. This process is a bit advanced, BUT if you are brave, and like to teach yourself new tricks, give it a go!
  • In OUTLOOK EXPRESS – Go to TOOLS-> Message Rules -> Mail
    It will give you options for setting up a set of filter rules. Follow the above description.
Posted by: evtechie | January 16, 2009

Handling Unaccepted Outlook Meeting Requests in Calendar

Microsoft Outlook

What is fun about this job is when a client “stumps” the angel! Many have tried, and usually I get it figured out quickly, but today was another story. The scenario is as follows. A new client gets a meeting request for an event from a collegue or contact in his email box. Once the email was opened the meeting request would show up in his calendar  (EVEN if he didn’t yet “Decline,” “Accept,” or  make it “Tentative”) clogging up the view with tentative appointments.  This was a tough problem to solve,  as I hadn’t noticed this feature in Outlook, nor do I get meeting requests (I usually send them). I figured there had to be SOME answer out there.

Egghead Cafe (despite an interface that made finding the answer just as problematic) offered the solution, thanks to Sue Mosher, MVP.

The following steps worked perfectly!

  1. In Outlook, go to Tools –> Options –> and the  E-mail Options tab
  2. Look for a button labeled “Tracking Options”
  3. Clear the check box for “Process requests and responses on arrival”

Problem solved. Sue Mosher is the author of Configuring Microsoft Outlook 2003  
http://www.turtleflock.com/olconfig/index.htm 
 
and Microsoft Outlook Programming – Jumpstart for Administrators, Power Users, and Developers  
http://www.outlookcode.com/jumpstart.aspx

Posted by: evtechie | January 14, 2009

Windows Installer Problems

Recent issue with a client’s machine had us on the edge of our seats. The installer service on Windows is necessary for installing software applications and runs automatically. My client’s machine, at every effort to install software or critical Windows Updates, stated:

” The Windows Installer Service could not be accessed. This can occur if you are running Windows in safe mode, or if the windows istaller is not correctly installed.”

Fun Fun… Needless to say, one of my first stops when I am stumped is the tech forums. I peruse the wisdom of dozens of brilliant men and women who find magic solutions to the plethora of Windows issues that peek their ugly heads out at the worst time.

The solution came form TaurArian [MS-MVP] on the Aussie Forums
http://phorums.com.au/archive/index.php/t-147728.html

The installer services must be unregistered and then re-registered.
This procedure corrects most situations, and does not affect any currently-installed programs that use the Windows Installer.

To unregister and re-register Windows Installer:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type in the Open box:        msiexec /unregister   and then click OK.
  3. Click Start, and then click Run.
  4. Type in the Open box:     msiexec /regserver   click OK.
  5. Type commands exactly, including the space between c and /.

This will not affect programs which use Windows Installer that are already installed.

How to resolve Common “Windows Installer” Problems
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;[LN];555175

Posted by: evtechie | December 17, 2008

New Mac User Tips

As I prepared a new Mac for a client (as a gift for their college bound son) I wrote up a list of those little things that took us time to figure out but are so helpful to know right off the bat!

  • Connecting to a wireless internet –the MacBook is sort of weird to connect to 64-bit encrypted networks. By default it asks for a password – and you must add 0x (zero + X) to the beginning of the passkey in the password box: (0x1a2b3c4e5f) to make it work. This is something I see as a bit counter intuitive to how Macs typically work.
  • Most programs are easy to install, when you put anything in your computers CD drive it will show up on the desktop. Just double click. Sometimes:
  • It shows you the application in a new window with a picture of your Applications folder and an arrow – just drag/drop the icon of the application onto the picture of the app folder and it will install.
  • It shows you an installer program with prompts – that is much easier. To get the app on your bar, if it doesn’t ask, just follow directions above.
  • Your new applications WON’T automagically show up on your dock below – you will have to double click your Macintosh HD–> Application Folder –> Find the program and drag/drop to your dock below.
  • To remove applications from the dock that you don’t want to use, just click/drag them to the desktop and in a “poof” they will be gone (not uninstalled – just off the dock)
  •  Use Command+Q to QUIT applications – just clicking the little red ball on the top right corner does not close out an application.
  • You can also do a CONTROL+Click on applications in the dock below to get a menu of items to launch for each application including to FORCE a QUIT when something freezes up.
  • Use Control+Click in Word and other applications where you need to correct spelling – it will give you the list of fix-its.
  •  The drop down menu’s for applications are now at the very top, and to switch applications just look at the dock below and the app will have a little glow light under it to indicate it is still running – clicking it launches the menu bar for that application. REMEMBER the little red dot does not quit apps.
  • Under the Apple at the top left is System Preferences that will allow you to customize your MacBook (desktop, colors, display, sharing, mouse, keyboard, etc)
  • When you have a mouse connected ask the MacBook to disable the touchpad – found under Trackpad in the System Preferences under the Apple (Apple –> System Preferences –> Trackpad)
  • Other useful settings for the trackpad:
         -+-  use two fingers on the trackpad to scroll
         -+- tap two fingers on the trackpad to Right click
  • ALWAYS install updates your system recognizes.
  • When browsing the web, to erase and rewrite in the address bar – triple click to highlight it all quickly

Command +S = Save
Command +C = Copy
Command +V= Paste
Command +X= Cut
Command +P= Print
Command +A= Select All
Command +F= Find
Command +Z= Undo
Command +Y= Redo
Command +T= New Tab

Posted by: evtechie | November 2, 2008

Outlook RSS Feed Removal

I have been learning a lot about RSS (Real Simple Syndication) in the last few months as I have begun blogging on my personal blog quite a bit, and finding other bloggers of interest. However, when I first set up my NEW Outlook 2007 on my laptop, I didn’t know if I would need the “readers” for RSS (frankly, I just didn’t feel confident enough about RSS), and being a techie I told Outlook to “be my default”. WHAT a MISTAKE that was!

As Google has added amazing features for my gmail account, I have begun playing with all of them. I found a magical way to sync my outlook and caledars for multiple accounts, and dozens of other great things (that is for another article). ONE of those features is Googles “Reader” which has become a happy place of information from my favorite bloggers. The problem? Once I told OUTLOOK to be my default reader, any effort to add a new feed now opens my OUTLOOK and doesn’t let me easily subscribe through Google Reader. Thus, I have tried all kinds of things to stop that. This week, in utter frustration, I did another search and found one helpful solution from a tech forum that in turn pointed me to this article: http://www.tech-recipes.com.  

The basic rundown is that several pieces need to be taken down and apart to clear up the outlook feeds that tend to slow Outlook down. 

  1. Disable the auto-sync of feeds – Tools | Options | Other (tab) | Advanced Options
  2. Uncheck Sync RSS feeds to Common Feed List
  3. Remove Feed Subscriptions – Tools | Options | Mail Setup | Data Files | RSS Feeds
  4. Remove each item and delete.
  5. Remove old feed content – Under Personal Folders, expand the RSS Feed Folder
  6. Delete each feed folder

I appreciate the techs that take the time to write these things out and solve so many issues, it makes my job more efficient!

Posted by: evtechie | September 13, 2008

Network Printer “Spooler Issues”

I recently came upon a crazy issue with a client’s machine. She and her husband have 4 machines on their network, all of which print to an HP 7550. Nothing special, really, just a standard printer, hooked up to her main machine, and set up so that her main machine HAD to be on in order for the others to print. Things have been moving easily with the network for a good solid year (other than a lightning strike forcing them to purchase a new network router). Suddenly, one of the systems needed to do an update (unknown if it was antivirus, Windows XP update, or other software) and after it restarted they were unable to print. Over the phone we checked everything: Her setup, His setup, network connections, firewall, antivirus, printer drivers, everything. I was forced to make a run to their home as their business DEPENDED on printing. (I keep praying that 7550 will DIE so we get a REAL network printer…) I went through the usual. She continued to get a “There was an Error Printing. Print Spooler service is not running.” I dug a little deeper, logging into the “Services” componenet of Microsoft’s Management Console. In there it showed that the print spooler WAS running, and that it would start automagically as it should. I was stumped. As I danced through all the options for the Print Spoolers settings I happened to note the “Dependencies” tab – which indicates what OTHER services a specific service depends on, and what services depend on THIS service . There, sitting with a cheezy grin was the Remote Procedure Call (RPC). A clue…

What I found was that the RPC was not running and had not been started. What triggered this change I have no clue (actually, some antivirus/spam and firewalls can block use of the RPC) but I did manage to get things running perfectly once again. I am posting the directions (more for me than for you) so that should this funky quirk happen, I now can “look it up” on my personalize resource!

Printer Spooler Not Running Issue

  1. RUN –> Type services.msc /s
  2. Look for PRINTER SPOOLER –> check that it is “started” and set to Automatic
  3. Print spooler depends on the RPC Locator – Find “Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator” –> Check that it is “started” and set to Automatic

If the PRINT SPOOLER IS not STARTED then follow:

  1. Right Click the one that it is in “Stopped” phase
  2. Select Properties –> Change Startup Type to AUTOMATIC –> CLICK START –> OK

If Neither are working after being started then a system restore backwards in time will likely work. You may have to adjust back several weeks (rather than right before the problem started). Remember that with a system restore, anything that has been installed since the restore point will need to be reinstalled.

And there we have it… another hidden dilema within the complex and sometimes mysterious world of Microsoft’s Software.

Posted by: evtechie | September 7, 2008

Briefcase – A Travel Tool

Briefcase Image

Briefcase Image

With the increase in pen (junk) drives, and the need to have digital media in more than one place, the old fashioned Microsoft Briefcase has continued to be a handy tool. The briefcase is a solution for syncronizing files used frequently between machines. I have a briefcase on my pen-drive that syncronizes with my lesson plans on my main computer. If I make a change to either one, the next time my pen drive is connected it asks me to syncronize the files – keeping them both up to date. Learn how

Posted by: evtechie | August 28, 2008

Installing Fonts

Image of Anywhere FONT

I often have clients who are not sure how to add to their font list. Their computer comes with a list of www.dafont.com (a favorite of mine) and NOW they want the font to be on their list for personal use.

Before providing the instructions, let me make a few points [or point out a few rules] in the digital age of font use. These are important because I think a lot of people assume that everyone has the same cool stuff as they do, and so they create elaborate documents in a fancy font frenzy, only to later find it printed out in the dullest of exhibits.

  1. Not everyone has the same fonts you have! When you install applications for any kind of publishing or design, they often install a host of fonts that are unique to the application. If Jane finds herself “PrettyJane” Font, designs a document, and sends it to George, [George, meanwhile, never installed the same software so his computer doesn’t have “PrettyJane”] poor George’s computer will default to anything it thinks is similar to “PrettyJane” which could be equivalent to “DINGBATS.” Nope – that won’t work!
  2. If sharing documents on-line, via email, or other digital means, try to use Web Safe Fonts or Standard Fonts. The standards might be boring, however it means everyone gets to view the document the same way. See HERE for common fonts list.
  3. If you insist that your document must have “PrettyJane” or “InsertHere”, then you will need to package it up with your documents so the end-user can get it installed. Be attentive that some fonts are not free-ware and are part of a software package, not for sharing.
  4. Use a PDF generating tool to embed the fonts into your document for the end-user. I recommend CutePDF software (they have a freeware version that works great – the paid version is less than $50 and allows for similar features to Adobe Acrobat!)

So now that we know the general rules, lets make sure you can install a font you have gotten (or copy one for use on another machine). In fact, I have now made it a habit to BACK UP my Fonts folder quarterly, or yearly, depending on how many new fonts I have installed.

Saving a FONT to your FONTS folder in Vista –

  1. Make sure to first SAVE your Font somewhere on your system where you can easily find it, such as the desktop.
    1. If you have gotten it as an attachment in an email you will want to RIGHT CLICK the font item, then select SAVE AS –> and then browse to your desktop [Desktop should be listed on the LEFT side panel as a quick link]
      Save to Desktop Quick Link
    2. If you got it on a pen drive or CD you can follow the next step.
  2. Go to your desktop/ or the font on the CD or Pen Drive and RIGHT CLICK it –> Choose INSTALL.
    Right Click Menu

    Right Click Menu

    The font will be installed in your FONTS folder automagically.

  3. You will need to quit and restart any running applications that need fonts to see it on your new list.

To Grab Fonts to share with others, follow these steps

  1. Open MY COMPUTER [or go to START on XP, MY COMPUTER]
  2. Open LOCAL DISK [C:/]
  3. Double click the WINDOWS folder
  4. Find the FONTS folder and Double click to open [you will see all your fonts]
  5. Find the FONT you want to share. They are not always named EXACTLY as you find them on your applications [like MS Word, or Powerpoint] but they should be similar. [ie. High Tower looks like HTOWERT.TTF]
  6. RIGHT click AND HOLD the font and drag a copy to your desktop. When you release you will have a menu and tell it to COPY HERE. With this technique you ensure you don’t accidentally remove it from your FONTs folder.
  7. Now open up the email or program you want to use to save the font for sharing with others. If emailing, simply click the icon for creating an attachment [in outlook it looks like a paperclip icon, in AOL it should have a button that says ATTACHMENTS]
  8. Navigate to your desktop and grab the font. Send the email…

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