Archive for the 'PC' category

Windows Vista Revisited

 | May 24, 2008 10:03 AM

Windows VistaPreviously I had talked about my disappointment with Windows Vista in my Explaining the Macintosh Surge post.

Having been forced to play with it some more I must admit I kind of like it now. Here are some reasons.

  1. eye candy – it looks so much nicer than Windows XP
  2. ear candy – it sounds nicer than XP
  3. I like the sidebar gadgets

Issues that have annoyed others about Windows Vista like performance haven’t bothered me too much. My friend was pulling his hair out and I told him to upgrade from 1 GB to 2 GB of RAM and he says now he only has to reboot once a day so he’s happy. 🙂

The major issue I have with Windows Vista is its security. Vista tries to protect the user but so often I run into problems and I don’t know why and it turns out it is because of the security. For example I could not install the drivers for my annoying, never should have bought, Lexmark X4550. I finally was able to install it after I installed it as an administrator and turned off User Account Control. Previously I kept getting an error message that the installer could not wirelessly connect to the printer but it had something to do with the security controls preventing the communication. Several times I had problems with trying to install Internet Explorer plugins where the browser would just spin because Vista security was not letting it but I received no error message.


Acer Black Screen of Death

 | March 31, 2008 10:00 PM

On my beloved Acer laptop the screen becomes black every once in awhile.

Turns out this is a known issue as you can see in this article (search for black screen).

To fix it I downloaded a BIOS update from Acer’s FTP site but you can download it here.

To run the BIOS unzip the file. Then go into the v1.16 folder and unzip the file. Then go into HIB116WW1/ATI folder, right click on POM116 and select “Run as administrator”. If you just try running POM116 you will get an error saying it cannot open flash.sys (this forum discussion, Help on Extensa 5620 Bio’s upgrade, talks about exactly this issue). In my case running POM116 upgraded my BIOS from v1.14 to v1.16.

Hopefully no more black screen of death.


Configuring Vista for Automatic Login

 | February 25, 2008 9:50 PM

Windows VistaVista, compared to XP, makes it a little less obvious how to configure automatic login, probably because of security reasons.

On my troubled Acer laptop I changed the name of the administrator user to my name and added a strong password. Then I created a standard user account for the kids with no password and automatic login.

Configure Vista For Automatic Logon

To do so, click Start and type netplwiz in the Search field and then press Enter. Click Continue when the User Account Control window appears. From the User Accounts window that appears, verify that your own user account is selected. Clear the Users must enter a username and password to use this computer option and click OK. Provide the password for your user account when prompted and restart your computer. Vista will automatically log on with your user account.

Microsoft also has an article on how to do this called Turn on automatic logon.  The instructions are almost exactly the same except Microsoft suggests enter control userpasswords2 in the Search box. This program requires authentication unlike netplwz.

To turn off automatic login just check the Users must enter a username and password to use this computer option.


I thought this tip was a pretty good one.

Q & A
Tip of the Week: Getting Rid of That Nagging Balloon – New York Times
Published: February 21, 2008

If you’re tired of Windows XP nagging you to clean up unused icons from your desktop, you can pop that little yellow balloon for good. Right-click on the desktop and select Properties. Click the Desktop tab and then the Customize Desktop button. In the resulting Desktop Items box, remove the check next to “Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days” and click the O.K. button.

This blog article, Disable Windows “Unused Icons” Balloon, also talks about it.


Lenovo Announces Battery Recall

 | February 16, 2008 10:21 PM

I received a letter about this battery recall in March of 2007, about a year ago.

Lenovo News – United States 2007-03-01 Lenovo Announces Battery Recall

At the time things seemed too hectic with trying to sell the house, baby coming, etc. for me to worry about this recall.

Now almost one year later my ThinkPad T60p keeps telling me my battery capacity is going down and that I should replace it.  That’s when I remembered this recall and today I ordered my brand new battery because of the recall.  Hooray Lenovo!


Explaining the Macintosh Surge

 | January 26, 2008 1:12 PM

Recently I purchased a Macbook for the family (I’m posting with it right now) and overall have enjoyed the experience. I think the iLife suite is great and I like the general feel of the Macbook.

Acer Extensa 5420On the other hand I also bought an Acer laptop from Best Buy for the children and have been quite dissatisfied with Windows Vista. It keeps freezing and now the laptop has completely crashed and I need to reinstall Windows Vista (part of the blame might be Isaac’s but still it seems rather fragile).

David PogueDavid Pogue, one of my favorite columnists, posted this blog article about the “Macintosh Surge”. By the way, one of the things I like about David Pogue is that he and I own the same things, a Prius, a Nikon SLR, etc.

Pogue’s Posts: Explaining the Macintosh Surge
By David Pogue
Published: January 18, 2008
What’s behind the surge in Apple’s computer sales? Could it be. . .Vista?