Confessions of a Windows Enthusiast

Where I rant about Microsoft products, computers and technology, and much more.

  • James Kim's body found in Oregon

    Taken from just a few moments ago -- 

    MERLIN, Oregon (CNN) -- The body of a San Francisco man who had walked into the Oregon wilderness to summon help for his stranded family was found Wednesday in a steep ravine where he had left clues for searchers.

    Officials confirmed that James Kim, 35, an editor at the Web site CNET, had been found dead.

    Brian Anderson, Undersheriff of Josephine County, broke down and could not finish speaking as he announced that Kim's body was found at 3:03 p.m. ET.

    Searchers were attempting to remove Kim's body, and his family members have requested that their privacy be respected, officials said.

    On behalf of myself and all of the staff I offer my sincerest condolences to the Kim family and may James rest in peace, he will be greatly missed amongst his friends, family, and the internet community alike. While I did not know him personally, I do remember seeing him on TechTV and reading his articles on CNET, a great person indeed.

    Sources: CNN | MSNBC | FOX News

    Donate to "The Kim Family Rescue Fund"

  • Change the Start Menu "Shut Down" button

    The Windows Start Menu's new shut down default is "sleep" - however, you may want to change this for whatever reason. To change it:

    1. Click on Start, and then click on Control Panel.
    2. Click on "System and Maintenance".
    3. Click on "Power Options".
    4. Select a power management plan and then click on "Change Plan Settings".
    5. Click on "Change advanced power settings".
    6. In the Power Options dialog that appears, expand "Power Buttons and Lid", and then expand "Start menu power button".
    7. Click on "Setting" and then choose the function you want the button to perform - "Sleep", "Hibernate", or "Shut down".
    8. Click on OK.
    9. Close the "Edit Plan Settings" Control Panel window.
  • Temperature Converter Gadget

    I've created a new gadget for the Windows Sidebar which allows you to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice-versa. I thought it might be useful to some people.

    You can download it at

    Using it is quite easy:

    • To convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, type the value in and press SHIFT-TAB.
    • To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, type the value in and press TAB.

    Version is already in the works which allows for different styles and automatic updating of the fields when you change their values, much like the Currency gadget. Just wanted to get this one out the door early so to speak.

    (Also - if you haven't already, check out the Uptime Gadget -


  • Workround for Adobe Photoshop CS2

    If you are using Windows Vista and Adobe Photoshop CS2, you may have noticed that you are constantly asked if you would like to register the program every time you launch it. In order to work around this, simply right click on the Adobe Photoshop CS2 shortcut in the Start menu and click "Run as administrator", and then provide consent when User Account Control asks you.

    You will be asked to register, click on "Do not register" and then close Adobe Photoshop CS2. Re-launch it normally (without running it as Administrator) and it should open without nagging you to register.

  • Slow down the window animation speed in Windows Vista

    This little tip has been kicking around since Windows Vista Beta 1 and I just confirmed that it works on the RTM build (6000.16386). For those of you who don't know what this is, you can change a certain registry key and it will allow you to slow down the animation of windows (on minimize/maximize/close for instance) by holding down the SHIFT key while performing an action.

    In order to enable this, you must edit the registry.

    1. Click on the Start button.
    2. In the "Start Search" field type "regedit". When it is displayed, either click on it or press Enter.
    3. If User Account Control prompts you for consent, click on Continue.
    4. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM
    5. In the right hand pane, right click on an empty space and from the context menu that appears choose "New > DWORD (32-bit) Value".
    6. Give the new DWORD (32-bit) Value a name of "AnimationsShiftKey" (without the quotes).
    7. Double click on the "AnimationsShiftKey" value and give it a value of 1.
    8. Close the Registry Editor.
    9. Log off of Windows and log back in for this to take effect.

    Please note that in order for this to work you must be using Windows Aero.

    One really cool way I've found to test this is to invoke Windows Flip3D by pressing CTRL+WinKey+Tab and then holding shift while clicking on a window. Pretty nifty.

  • Ready for Windows Vista?

    I was browsing around on the internet during classes earlier and came across this comic over at bLaugh. Pretty funny.

  • A few misc. Windows Media Player 11 tips

    Here are some neat tricks for you to try with Windows Media Player 11 - please note that I've only tested these on the Release Candidate 2 (RC2) release of Windows Vista.

    • To slow down playback, press CTRL+SHIFT+S
    • To speed up playback, press CTRL+SHIFT+G
    • To return to normal playback speed, press CTRL+SHIFT+N
    • To view a menu with all of the above on it, right click on the Play/Pause button in the bottom center of the Windows Media Player window.


  • An easier way to run elevated

    If you are using Windows Vista with User Account Control enabled and you frequently run applications as administrator (or run elevated), this tip will surely come in handy.

    1. Click on the Start button.
    2. In the "Start Search" box, type the name of the application you wish to run elevated - for example: "cmd.exe", "Notepad", or "Windows Mail".
    3. Hold CTRL+SHIFT on your keyboard and then press Enter.

    You will then receive a User Account Control prompt asking you whether or not you want to run the application.

  • Keep System Restore at bay and free up some disk space

    System Restore in Windows Vista has changed drastically, however it can still use a lot of disk space (I've personally seen it use up to 30 GB in 4 days) - if you are a power user who does rely on System Restore or you need to free up some hard disk space, then you may wish to clear out your System Restore points.

    In order to delete all but the most recent restore point:

    1. Click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup.
    2. In the dialog that appears choose "Files from all users on this computer".
    3. If User Account Control prompts you to confirm the action, click on "Continue".
    4. If asked which drive you want to scan, choose the drive in which Windows Vista is installed on, and then click OK.
    5. Disk Cleanup will scan your hard drive and then display a list of options.
    6. In the Disk Cleanup window, click on the "More Options" tab.
    7. Under "System Restore", click on the "Clean up..." button.
    8. When asked "Are you sure you want to delete all but the most recent restore point?", click on "Delete".
    9. Close the Disk Cleanup window.

    After you have performed these steps, check your disk usage in the Computer window. I think you'll be a bit surprised.

    If you'd like to disable System Restore completely for whatever reason (don't use it or it takes up too much disk space constantly), then you can turn it off in Advanced System Settings.

    Note: I don't recommend doing this unless you have to, as the version of System Restore in Windows Vista is greatly improved over it's predecessor in Windows XP.

    To disable System Restore completely:

    1. Click on Start, right click on Computer, and finally click on "Properties".
    2. In the left hand pane click on "Advanced system settings".
    3. If User Account Control prompts you to confirm the action, click on "Continue".
    4. In the "System Properties" window that appears, click on the "System Protection" tab.
    5. Under "Available Disks", uncheck any drives that are checked.
    6. When asked "Are you sure you want to turn System Restore off?", click on "Turn System Restore Off".
    7. Click on the OK button to close the "System Properties" window.
    8. Close the "System" window.

    I hope this information proves to be useful to all of you! I was wondering why I was using so much more hard disk space than I did when using Windows XP with all the updates applied. After clearing out my System Restore points, I freed up a whopping 30 GB! Wow.

    I should mention that System Restore is set to use a percentage of your hard drive, so if you have a small drive, it's probably not going to use 30GB.

  • A true load bearing client operating system at last!

    If you've kept an eye on my old blog "digitalfive", you may have noticed the article I wrote about how to increase the GDI handle limits in Windows XP. What prompted me to write that article was the fact that Windows XP was constantly hitting the limits and nothing else would open until I closed some stuff down.

    Now, if you know me, then you know what my habits are like. For those of you who don't know me well, I'm an insane multitasker who loads a computer into the ground with such great load that previous versions of Windows would keel over or say "Hey, stop raping me!". But this is all changing apparently.

    I loaded up every application I could possibly think of; in fact, I loaded up almost every 3rd party application I have installed along with all of the built in Windows applications that I use. Instead of falling over screaming bloody murder, to my surprise, Windows Vista kept on going. It would appear that Microsoft have done alot of work in terms of multitasking and performance in Windows Vista that makes it a keeper just by the way it handles multiple tasks alone.

    My system specifications:

    • ASUS P4S800 Motherboard
    • Intel Pentium 4 2.66GHz CPU "Northwood"
    • 1.50 GB of PC3200 DDR RAM
    • 250GB Western Digital Hard Drive, 7200 RPM, ATA100, 8MB Buffer
    • 80GB Maxtor Hard Drive, 7200 RPM, ATA133, 2MB Buffer
    • 16x Dual Layer SuperMulti DVD±RW Drive
    • 16x DVD-ROM Drive
    • ATI Radeon 9600 PRO, 256MB with DVI and TV OUT
    • Creative Sound Blaster X-FI

    Here's a run down of what I had running:

    • 12 Internet Explorer windows, with roughly 15 to 20 tabs each.
    • 19 MSN Messenger 7.5 windows (I'm not using Windows Live Messenger 8.0.0812 as it has some issues with Windows Vista)
    • 17 WinRAR windows
    • Windows Sidebar with Clock Gadget, Weather Gadget, Calendar Gadget, CPU Gadget, Uptime Gadget, Feed Headline Gadget, and Currency Gadget
    • Windows Media Player 11 playing a 320Kbps MP3 audio file, weighing in at 8.04MB
    • 2 Sysinternals Process Explorer windows
    • Windows Task Manager
    • 4 Nero Burning ROM burning sessions
    • Windows Mail
    • Windows Mail Tray Controller (which is a .NET application)
    • 17 Microsoft Word 2007 documents
    • Microsoft Outlook 2007
    • 21 Windows Explorer windows, while actively running a saved search and viewing my network locations.
    • Windows Calendar
    • Windows Photo Gallery
    • Adobe Photoshop CS2
    • Adobe ImageReady CS2
    • 6 JPEG images previewed in Windows Photo Gallery mini-windows
    • 13 Notepad windows
    • Skype
    • 3 Command Prompt windows
    • 9 Mozilla Firefox windows with 5 tabs each
    • mIRC 6.2
    • Spider Solitaire
    • SmartFTP Client 2.0
    • Winamp 5.24

    As you can see, the list isn't exactly short. When all is said and done, I was using 31,078 handles and running over 97 processes. Pretty good, huh? It'll be a cold day in hell before I go back to Windows XP now.

  • Windows Vista and Windows Live Messenger issues

    If you are using Windows Live Messenger with Windows Vista, you may notice some odd behavior or crashing (especially when exiting the program). I'm looking into a workaround for this, but in the mean time if you don't like things crashing, install an older version of Messenger such as 7.5.0324 or use a 3rd party client.

    Hopefully, the Windows Live Messenger team is going to fix this soon. Come on guys, Windows Vista is nearing Release Candidate 1, we need the best Messenger client available to work solid on the new operating system.

  • Windows Vista Pre-RC1 Review from Brandon + my thoughts

    I just finished reading Brandon's review of Windows Vista Build 5536, also known as a Pre-Release Canadate 1 build. My feelings towards this build are similar to that of his, this build totally rocks. I've spent about 2 hours using it on my primary desktop computer, and for the first time I can say that both my Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi and my ADI SoundMax Onboard Audio work flawlessly, performance is the best I've seen from Windows Vista yet, not to mention all the eye candy! DROOL!

    For those of you who were worried that Windows Vista would turn out to be an utter disaster, you can remove the tin-foil hat from your head and breathe a little easier, as we are now far from being a train wreck. In fact, this build has restored my confidence in Windows Vista; it performs well, looks great, and overall we're headed into RTM with what seems to be a very solid product.

    CPP participants will have to wait a little longer to get a new build of Windows Vista, but the wait will be worth it, believe me. Technical Beta testers, grab 5536 now and get a sneak peek at what is coming for Release Candidate 1!

    (And if you want to keep track of your uptime, check out this neat little gadget I've created for the Windows Sidebar!)

  • Windows Vistas Product Activation is painless

    For those of you who absolutely hate Product Activation simply because it nags you all the time, it's time to get over it. Windows Product Activation has been overhauled in Windows Vista and is a much easier process to go through now than it was in Windows XP. Let me give you an example.

    In Windows XP, you would receive balloon-tip pop-ups stating "xx days left for activation", where the xx grace period varies depending on your license type, for most this limit is 30 days. In Windows Vista, Product Activation completes automatically after three days in the background (you can see this by right clicking on "Computer" and then going to "Properties", and then looking under the "Windows activation" section.

    And should it not activate, you are given a telephone number to call. Tell the representative your situation, and Windows is activated. Is that really so hard to do?

  • Windows SDK for July CTP Available

    Please use this preliminary release of the Windows SDK only in a test environment on a clean machine.

    This CTP (Community Tech Preview) is for use with Windows Vista build 5472 and the .NET Framework 3.0 Runtime July CTP. This pre-release SDK contains updates for native Win32 developers, including improvements to documentation and samples. The Windows SDK CTP releases should always be used with the exact matching CTP version of the .Net Framework 3.0 Runtime Components.

    Although this SDK does not support the earlier versions of the .NET Framework 3.0, it will work for native Win32 applications on Windows Vista Beta 2.

    IMPORTANT: This version of the Microsoft Windows SDK is intended to support development targeting the following release:

    • .NET Framework 3.0 July CTP
    • Windows Vista build 5472

    This release of the Windows SDK is compatible with the RTM versions of Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2005.

    Download: Microsoft® Windows® Software Development Kit for July CTP

  • Creating a shortcut to Flip3D on Windows Vista Beta 2

    One of the neat little features added to Windows Vista is “Flip3D”, which offers a visual way to browse through all the open windows on your desktop.

    In some CTP builds prior to Beta 2 you may have noticed a cool little shortcut to Flip3D in the Quick Launch, but this has since been removed from Beta 2.

    Want it back?

    Create a new shortcut and point it to “C:\Windows\System32\rundll32.exe DwmApi #105″, give it a name like “Launch Windows Flip3D”, and toss it wherever you’d like, such as the quick launch!