Google Chrome – Brand Minus

For a long time now, actually since the very first release of Google Chrome, I’ve been an ambassador for how cool a browser it is and that it’s been my browser of choice ever since they released it. That is up until today when I realised Google Chrome has been the culprit of my Vista OS hanging (note, no BSOD). At first I thought it might have been a Windows Update or one of my other applications, however it always happened while I had Google Chrome also open.

Now, for over a year now I’ve never had any bad experiences with using Google Chrome (either with Windows XP or with Windows Vista). For the last couple of days I’ve explicity NOT used Google Chrome  and lo and behold, I no longer have to hard reboot my laptop anymore. And it seems I’m not alone – nor is it a recent occurance as others have had similar problems.

I guess I’ll have to monitor the news and forums feeds for a resolution before I used Google Chrome again – I sure am going to miss it until then!

Conficker worm virus set to strike 1 April

biohazard-warning-signIf you’re like me your surfing habbits are safe and you know not to just open up any executable sent to you or visit just any website link sent to you, even from those you trust as their machines may have been compromised.

Some people, however, aren’t as diligent and will click on and open just about anything sent to them without worrying about the consequences – until it’s too late.

For some, they may be none the wiser – until midnight tonight that is.

The Conficker worm is nothing new – it’s been around since late last year and the various anti-virus companies have been keeping track of it and looking out for variations. Up until now it’s been a dormant virus like a sleeper cell just waiting for instructions to strike – and those instructions should be coming in on April 1st.

Windows Secrets have published an article freely available to paid- and non-subscribers giving more detail about the Virus and how to remove it. There’s also a report on CBS’s 60-Minutes here.

For more information about the Conficker worm check out CNET’s FAQ.

Thanks, Koukla for the tip.

Organise your desktop, with Fences

Is your desktop a little cluttered? Are there icons all over the place, sometimes not in an organised way? My desktop sometimes gets that way, especially when I work on various different projects and things. I like to keep it as clean and organised as possible, although it sometimes needs a serious spring-clean. 

You should probably try out Fences, from StarDock – they’ve a number of other useful windows tool and utilities which you can see on their products page

At the moment it is in a public beta form – their final released product, they say, will remain free. The current beta expires at the end of August this year. I’ve just installed it on my laptop and organised my desktop into categorised sections – nice! 

fences-desktop-example

It’s fully customizable as to how you want your fences to look by changing the colour, opacity, whether or not the borded is shown or not. Another nice feature, expecially for screencasting and/or doing demos is if you double click on your desktop it hides all the icons and fences. Double click again and they’re all there again. 

fences-configuration

If you do try it out, let me kno what you think in the comments. Note that this is a windows application and will require version 2.0 of the .Net Framework pre-installed.

[via the-How-to-Geek]

VOTD: Music track made using only Windows XP/98 sounds

You know the sounds your computer makes when a dialog pops up, or something goes wrong, or you’re notified about something. The default dings and tadas used in Windows XP and Windows 98 were used to make a musical track. Watch (or rather listen) to the video below. [via ChrisM]

Can you have too much RAM?

The simple answer, after 3 days, is yes you can! (almost sounds like a political slogan)

Let me start from the beginning. Some time last week our desktop PC at home started crashing for no apparent reason, and intermittently, sometimes on its own, sometimes after certain programs. There was no clear way to replicate the problem. Now the machine has been stable for the last, almost 8 months, no hardware changes. The setup:

  • Intel Core2Duo 2.3GHz CPU
  • Gigabyte GA-G33M-DS2R/S2 motherboard
  • Samsung DVD RW
  • Western Digital 250GB drive
  • Gigabyte GeForce 8600GT 512MB video card
  • 6GB physical RAM

All smoothly running Windows XP, until recently. I even booted with a disk with MEM86 to check all the RAM to make sure none of the chips were faulty – test ran through in a few hours with no faults. I even ran scan and repair on the drive to check for possible bad sectors on the drive – nothing, clean as a whistle.

Oh well, I thought to myself, time for a clean install and rebuild. No worries, backup my data to another machine, pop the Windows XP bootable install disk in the ROM drive and boot up. Follow the prompts, repartition the drive, reformat the partition and begin the install. 

Plain sailing you’d think, nope. About 60-odd percent of the way into copying files from the disk to the hard drive the screen goes all funny and between the lines I can make out it cannot find a specifc file. I let it retry, to no avail. So I give in and let it skip it. It carries merrily along only to find more files it can’t find. WTF? I even took the disc put it in another machine and scanned the contents as well as the CAB files for the alleged files it couldn’t find – they were there!

Mmmm I thought to myself, what now? Okay Windows XP SP2 has been out for a long time now and maybe the built in drivers didn’t recognize some of my hardware. Let me download nLite quickly and make a slip-streamed bootable install disk with SP3 (it should have latest drivers to pick up my hardware). 

Right, disk created, popped it in and rebooted. Went through the same process again and round about the same place, same errors again – cannot find drivers and other files.  I’m at my wits end now, so I power down the machine, unplug all the peripheral devices, whoopdeedoo, one video card. Reboot, go into the BIOS and disable all that I can, onboard LAN, firewire port, USB, etc. Back to basics, follow the above procedure again. Only to find the same problems. The one or two times it DOES manage to get past the file copying and into the actual install it blue-screens at random places or hangs at the famous 34 minute mark while detecting devices and installing drivers. 

Maybe it’s the SATA drive – I rip it out and replace it with an old 40GB IDE drive and try to install again. Same problems! Arrrgghhh! 

Give up, leave it for a day or so.

Another day, a few more bright ideas. I take my drive, pop it in another machine – completely different hardware and try to install from there. Whoa, it works, smoothly – all the way to the end where I can log in and see my desktop!

Note: this is the WRONG way to try and install your system on different hardware to the system it will be running in.

So I take the drive out and put it back in my machine – no luck, crashes after I log in. Okay, I expected that. So I thought maybe it’s my ROM drive acting up? So I replace mine with one from the other machine. No joy, same problems as above.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is where I get to the title of my post. All this time, I’d been trying to install Windows XP with 6GB of physical RAM installed. Apart from pulling out the actual CPU, the only other thing I’ve not pulled out is the RAM. But MEM86 ran through all tests without any hiccups? Just try it, damnit!

So I pulled out 2 of the 6GB and tried again. No luck, same problems. Come on! So I pulled the rest out, leaving only a single 2GB RAM module. This has got to work, right?

And here I am, typing away at this post on my laptop, while looking at the finally installed Windows XP on my desktop machine with the default Windows desktop staring back at me!

So, take it from me, save yourself a few hours/days of frustration at swapping hardware, turning off features and functions, swapping drives and disks, and take out the extra RAM before you do a clean install of Windows XP!

Oh and before I get flamed in the comments as to why I’m not using Linux or Vista (puke) it’s because as of now it’s the only operating system that I can use all the software my wife and I want to/need to/know how to use. I might take the old 40GB and put it in to install Windows 7 which I got recently. I was almost at a point of installing Windows 7 instead, but didn’t since it’s only still in beta and will expire in August.

Hope my experience can help someone out with the same problem.

Vista Source Code

I’ve managed to get my hands on the much asked for, source code to Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system. Here it is below, now it’s open source 😉 [via BG]

vista-sourcecode

Vistarising XP

There have been a number of posts on Lifehacker and How-To-Geek about nifty little tips, tricks and tools to add nice Vista features to XP. Yet, of those I’ve come across few seem to work without glitches. 

I tried installing the Vista Sidebar and Gadget pack but without success. Alky installed fine, but the actual Sidebar tool kept on failing to load. [via gHacks] So much for having gadgets in XP.

Then I tried installing Shock Aero 3D to get the Vista-looking WinKey+Tab feature which seemed to work nicely and it has various options for display and background effects. [via Lifehacker] This seemed to load and works well without any problems. 

Next thing I liked and wanted to try out was Visual Task Tips which shows you previews of windows as you move your cursor over the item in the taskbar. [via How-to-Geek] Very handy feature which seemed to work well. Doesn’t like Google Chrome Application Windows though.

I’m really keen to see more from Windows 7 – if they can get rid of the need for their OS to run on Deep Blue and fix hardware compatibility issues (which also relies on vendors delivering drivers) then maybe one-day more people will move to Windows 7 than they did to Vista. But for now, I’m sticking to XP, thanks!

Happy 25th Birthday, Windows

Love them or hate them, they’re still around and probably will be for at least another 25 years. Microsoft’s Windows platform turned 25 this week. Back in 1983, Bill Gates showcased Windows 1.0 and some of its features. Little did he know how powerful a software company Microsoft would become, 25 years on. Stuart Johnston reports more on InternetNews.com – thanks to Kevin for the link.
 

25-cake           windowslogo

Re-enable classic windows search

If you’ve running Windows 2000 or XP and you’ve got any Office 2007 product on your machine you’ll notice that when you press Windows Key + F or right click on a folder to and select search, that you’re presented with Windows Desktop search – and out of the box if you try and search for things you can’t find ANYTHING. Why? Well, because it hasn’t been indexed and indexing on your hard drive is off by default. 

So you’ll be presented with a search screen that looks like this:

Now, if you’re like me you like to use things that work – and don’t slow down your machine. So to enable the classic desktop search again do the following:

Scroll down to the bottom of the windows desktop search window and click on the “click here” to use Search Companion link at the bottom.

You will then be presented with the classic windows search window. Almost there, one more little tweak. Open up the registry editor (click on Start + Run and type in “regedit” without quotes and click OK). Now go through the registry and find the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Desktop Search\DS

Within the DS key you should now see a ShowStartSearchBand key as follows:

If you did not perform the above step before the ShowStartSearchBand key will not exist – not to worry you can just create it by right clicking in that window and selecting New -> DWORD Value and giving it a name – then follow the next step.

Simply double clck the key to edit it and change the value to a zero, click OK and close the registry. From now on when you use windows search it will be the classic windows search which will not require indexing of files and you’re back to finding files and strings in files, like the good old days.

Enjoy! Thanks to John for pointing me in the right direction. All the other registry hacks I found on the web didn’t work at all.

Note: as always, making registry changes could break your system if you’re not careful or know what you’re doing – so if you’re concerend ask someone to help you and always make backups of your registry before making changes.