I just upgraded my primary desktop PC and installed a fresh copy of Windows 7. Unfortunately the Sleep option in the Start Menu was grayed out, and any power options related to S3 standby mode (a.k.a. Sleep) were also not available. I opened the command prompt (Start Menu > type “cmd” in the search and […]
Update (2013-06-16): A while ago I signed up for iTunes Match, and I have found it to be a great solution for viewing my iTunes library on multiple PCs, whether they are on my home network or not (I have my entire library available on my MacBook at work as well as my PCs at home and my iPhone). The solution below should still work if you don’t want to sign up for iTunes Match, but I no longer use the solution below.
A few years ago I built a PC to function as a semi-dedicated file server. It’s running Windows 7, so it’s still a fully-functional PC, but it’s not my primary workstation. Among other things, I use it to store all of my music, photos, videos, and documents in a central location that is backed up regularly. My primary desktop, my HTPC, and my laptop can access all of these files over the network via a Windows Homegroup.
Until recently the only copy of iTunes I used was on the server PC to sync my iPod classic. On my primary desktop I preferred to use MediaMonkey for music playback because of its speed and excellent library organization features. The only downside was that my play counts and ratings in MediaMonkey didn’t sync with my iTunes library on the server. It was a limitation I’d been content to live with up to this point. (more…)
I recently built a PC for a friend of mine using some old parts I had lying around along with a few new components. She’s had an older Mac notebook running OS X v10.4 for a few years, but it’s just too slow and too old to run a lot of newer software or games, including the latest version of iTunes (which means she can’t update her iPhone to the latest iOS version).
Her new PC is running Windows 7 x64 Home Premium and the latest iTunes so it’s fully capable of keeping her iPhone updated. However, she can’t just plug her iPhone into the new computer without making sure that iTunes is set up properly and all of her purchased music/apps/etc. are on the PC to avoid losing those purchases. There are numerous tutorials on the web that cover transferring your iTunes music and iPhone data from PC to Mac. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any tutorials about transferring from Mac to PC, so I decided to write up a simple tutorial documenting the process we used.
There were a few steps involved in transferring the iTunes library from Mac to PC, but overall the process was fairly simple because all of her music was organized by iTunes (rather than being scattered across multiple folders on the hard drive). This article has instructions on organizing and consolidating music into the iTunes folder if your library is not already organized by iTunes (e.g. if you have music downloaded from amazon’s mp3 service or another music download service). (more…)
My Downloads folder in Windows 7 has been very slow lately when I open it. The address/breadcrumb bar for the folder shows the green progress bar creeping oh-so-slowly while I wait for the items in the folder to show up. I came across this post about fixing this very issue and thought I’d share it. […]
Windows 7 and Live Essentials include a blogging tool called Windows Live Writer. I thought I’d try it out as a way to blog offline and then easily post into my site. This article is being written with it and is the first time I’ve attempted to use it. So far it seems pretty cool, although it has its limitations.
Setting Up Windows Live Writer for WordPress
Before you can use Windows Live Writer, the XML-RPC remote publishing protocol must be enabled (Settings > Writing). I already had this enabled in order to use the WordPress for Android app (see my last blog post). After that it is a simple matter of downloading Windows Live Writer from Windows Update, selecting “WordPress” as your blog during setup, and entering your username and password for your WordPress admin account.
Windows Live Writer loaded my site theme, categories, tags, and a few other bits of data automagically when I fired it up. I was presented with essentially a blank article placeholder using my site theme (minus the header, footer, and sidebar) on which I could start typing. Pretty good stuff right there!
Windows 7 offers a lot of features that may not be well known to the average user. A couple of hours’ work searching various blog sites will tell you more than you probably want to know, but I thought I’d try to include some of the most useful features for both average users and power […]
Now that you have Windows 7 installed on your computer, it’s time to restore your backed up files. You’ll also need to reinstall all of your programs that you want to continue using.
Install Essential Programs
Everyone has a different idea of what the “essential” programs are, so I’ll just give a rundown of my bare essentials.
|Adobe Reader||There are other PDF readers that are more lightweight and also free, but as little as I view PDFs, I don’t need the most lightweight and fast PDF reader. I just want one that works and is fully compatible with any PDFs I may download. In my experience, Adobe’s Reader is still the most reliable PDF reader.|
|Windows Security Essentials||AVG was my go-to free anti-virus program for years, but I like how well Windows Security Essentials integrates with Windows 7. It has done well in testing from the reviews I’ve read, and it stays updated regularly.|
|Firefox||This is the best browser for me. It offers tons of add-ons that add functionality such as Personas (a quick and easy way to change the theme, or “skin” of the browser), FoxyTunes (control your media player from the browser – great for listening to music while you browse), and Download Statusbar (view essential information about your downloads such as speed and time remaining, pause and resume, and open downloaded files from the status bar of your browser). Firefox also offers great security and performance when loading pages.|
|Steam||It’s like iTunes and Facebook for PC gaming. Create a profile, add friends, purchase games and download them anytime, anywhere, on any computer. Steam makes it easy to purchase games and play with friends. An achievement system allows games developers to provide additional incentives for gamers as well.|
|ImgBurn||This is a free application that allows you to burn ISO images or rip CDs and DVDs to ISO images. You can also write files on your computer to an ISO file or burn them directly to a CD or DVD.|
|7-Zip||Not all compressed archives are in the .zip format. 7-Zip can open most archive formats, including .zip and .rar archives.|
|Notepad++||This is Notepad on steroids. It offers a tabbed interface for working on multiple files as well as syntax highlighting for many file types, including HTML and CSS.|
All of these programs can be installed using a custom installer from Ninite.com. Ninite allows you to select the programs you want to install, then creates a custom installer for you to download. With a few clicks of your mouse it installs all of your selected programs using default settings without the need for user input. It automatically deselects toolbars and other “junk” software that is sometimes included with free software, so you don’t have to worry about cluttering up your computer.
Windows 7 is here, and it is a wonderful upgrade from Windows XP. I have not used Vista all that much, so I can’t say whether or not it’s worth the upgrade from Vista. However, for most people still running Windows XP, if your computer has 2GB of RAM or more, there is no reason you should wait to upgrade your personal computer. This article is designed to guide you through the initial preparation for your upgrade, including manual backups of your files. If you want to do it the Microsoft way using Windows Easy Transfer, you can follow their guide here.
32-bit or 64-bit
Really, I can’t see a reason to stick with 32-bit unless you have specific devices or software programs that absolutely must have a 32-bit environment due to no 64-bit drivers or no 64-bit version of your software (most 32-bit programs will run in a 64-bit environment).
Upgrade vs. Full Install
Windows XP can not be upgraded in place to Windows 7. You will need to backup your files to a separate hard drive, partition, or external media such as DVD+R discs and then start from scratch. All of your programs will need to be reinstalled, and your personal settings and files will need to be restored from your backup.
The easiest way to backup files is to connect an external hard drive to your computer, create a backup folder on it, and drag-and-drop your files into this folder. If you have a second internal hard drive or separate partition, you can use it as well.
I’ve been using Windows 7 since April 2009 when it was available as a public beta. I am currently using the release candidate (build 7100). For the most part I have not encountered many issues; most of my programs runs perfectly and the improved features in Windows 7 are fantastic! However, I have had some issues with the Homegroups feature. Hopefully these issues will be fixed in the final release version, but for those of you like me who can’t pass up a free OS for a few months, read on for a few tips.
Homegroups – The Basics
Homegroups are a new feature in Windows 7 that allow users to easily share files, folders, and libraries over a home network (libraries are a new feature in Windows 7 as well). The idea is that one computer on your home network creates a homegroup, then all of the other computers join the homegroup to share files more easily.
Homegroups have several requirements that many users may not be aware of. I have listed the requirements that I am aware of below.
- Only Windows 7 computers can join or create homegroups
- Homegroups can only be created on Home networks; Work and Public networks can not have homegroups
- Homegroups require IPv6 to be enabled
- Network discovery and file and printer sharing must be on
If any of the above requirements are not met, homegroups will not work.