Tag Archives: desktop

Windows 8 – What’s Not To Like?

imageI’ve been running Windows 8, almost exclusively, since the first (beta) release in September of last year. Despite my initial impressions (not favorable), I’ve made a 180 degree turn – I’m really into Win 8.

Despite the clunky Metro GUI, which I’ve managed to deal with by accepting it for what it is (and isn’t), and by acknowledging the fact that with a small amount of effort put into learning the navigation intricacies of this new OS, Windows 8 is “great.” I can assure you, that learning a few keyboard shortcuts necessary to take full advantage of Windows 8, was hardly the task that learning DOS 1 was, back in the day.

In my career, I’ve had to deal with 5/6 versions of DOS (each one requiring a commitment to skills development), a sprinkling of bolt-on DOS GUIs (learning required), 7 or more versions of Windows (learning required), as well as various flavors of Linux (learning required). Windows 8 (learning required), is just one more operating system in the continuing evolution of how users interact with computing devices.

It’s true that the Windows 8 user interface is a radical departure from the traditional desktop GUI. With the navigation system designed with swiping features, slider menus, and so on, it’s obviously designed with Tablet PCs and Smartphones in mind. There’s no doubt – it certainly forces a readjustment in the comfort level of experienced Desktop users – there’s that learning thing again.

Users can, of course, choose to stand pat and resist evolutionary change, But, those who continue to brush this OS aside are making a mistake, in my view. Windows 8 has a lot to offer, including – vastly reduced boot time, blazingly fast application load time , a very small memory footprint, and considerably enhanced security over previous versions.

On top of all that though, Windows 8 includes a “killer feature” – PC Refresh. Or, as some Microsoft people have been known to call this feature – “push-button reset.”

Call me crazy if you like, but I’m a firm believer in reformatting and reinstalling my operating systems regularly. It’s a relatively easy task since I run multiple drives – each of which is partitioned for specific types of data storage.

Windows 8 has made this task somewhat easier. Windows 8 “push-button reset” will automatically reinstall Windows while at the same time – keeping all personal data, Metro style apps, and important system settings. This is not a perfect reinstall solution since pre-Windows 8 programs are not reinstalled.

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Those apps that are not reinstalled can be referenced in an HTML file which PC Refresh automatically saves to the desktop.

There’s little doubt that Win 8 advances computing technology in a number of very substantial ways, much beyond the few improvements I mentioned earlier. All-in-all, I’m glad I didn’t bounce this OS off my test system after 7 days – my first response to the Metro GUI.

But, the absence of the familiar Start Menu which allows for Shutdown/Restart commands, which has been shunted aside in favor of an ineffective barebones replacement (shown below), has cramped my style somewhat.

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Working through 2/3 levels of menus to restart/shutdown is inefficient, so I’ve installed one of my all-time favorite utilities – Right-Click Extender Version 2 – which added a Restart and a Shutdown command (shown below), to the Desktop context menu. Problem solved!

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Right-Click Extender has proven to be one of the most important free utilities (considering my style of computing), I’ve yet found. It can add amazing functionality to various right click context menus.

If you missed my earlier review, and walkthrough, on Right-Click Extender Version 2, I’ve reposted it below. It’s worth a read/reread.

Right-Click Extender Version 2 – Adds Multiple Context Menu Commands

imageThe “right click context menu” in Windows is a hidden gem. I know, you’re thinking – wait a minute, the right click context menu isn’t hidden, I use it all the time. And, I’ll bet you do. But, you might be surprised to learn, that if you were to ask an average user about this menu, the chances are pretty good that you’d get a blank look in return.

If you’re a power user and a fan of the right click context menu, then you’ll be interested in the Right-Click Extender Version 2 (released March 11, 2010)  from The Windows Club, which will add a bag full of additional context menu support  in the following categories – File/Folder, Desktop, Drives, and MyComputer.

Following installation and execution of this free application, setting up and selecting the context menu items best suited to your needs is a snap – as the following series of screen shots shows. (Clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size).

File Folder Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Options Setup.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective context menu items available to me on the Desktop following installation of the Right-Click Extender, Version 2.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective Windows Explorer context menu items available to me, following installation of the Right-Click Extender Version 2.

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If the right click context menu is a tool you use frequently, installing Right-Click Extender Version 2, should help give a boost to your productivity.

System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows 7 (sorry, not designed for Windows XP). As noted earlier, I’m running with Right-Click Extender Version 2 on Windows 8 with no problems.

Download at: MajorGeeks.com

The Windows Club offers a range of helpful Windows freeware apps – checkout their home page here.

22 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, Windows 8

Right-Click Extender 2 Goes Great With Windows 8

In a recent quickie on running with Windows 8, I made the following comment –

The Windows 8 user interface is a radical departure from the traditional desktop UI and as such, it fails to satisfy my basic requirements. Since a desktop is my primary work unit, I have little interest in swiping features, keyboard shortcuts, slider menus and  an OS navigation system designed with a Tablet PC, or a Smartphone, in mind.

After running with Win 8 for 30+ days, I haven’t revised my opinion regarding the Metro GUI – it still sucks. Nevertheless, Windows 8 has a lot to offer, including – vastly improved boot time, application load time is blazingly fast, memory footprint is very small, and the new Task manager (shown below), is a huge improvement over previous versions.

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There’s little doubt that Win 8 advances computing technology in a number of very substantial ways, much beyond the few improvements I mentioned earlier – especially in that most important of areas – system security. All-in-all, I’m glad I didn’t bounce this OS off my test system after 7 days – my first response to the Metro GUI.

Learning to use a few basic keyboard shortcut navigation commands (not such a big deal), has vastly improved my comfort level with Microsoft’s new direction. But, the absence of the familiar Start Menu, which has been shunted aside in favor of an ineffective barebones replacement (shown below), has cramped my style somewhat.

image

For example – working through 2/3 levels of menus to restart/shutdown is inefficient (just one of the crunch points with this GUI), so I’ve installed one of my all-time favorite utilities – Right-Click Extender Version 2 – which added a Restart and a Shutdown command (shown below), to the Desktop context menu. Problem solved!

image

Right-Click Extender has proven to be one of the most important free utilities (considering my style of computing), I’ve yet found. It can add amazing functionality to various right click context menus.

If you missed my earlier review, and walkthrough, on Right-Click Extender Version 2, I’ve reposted it below. It’s worth a read/reread.

Right-Click Extender Version 2 – Adds Multiple Context Menu Commands

imageThe “right click context menu” in Windows is a hidden gem. I know, you’re thinking – wait a minute, the right click context menu isn’t hidden, I use it all the time. And, I’ll bet you do. But, you might be surprised to learn, that if you were to ask an average user about this menu, the chances are pretty good that you’d get a blank look in return.

If you’re a power user and a fan of the right click context menu, then you’ll be interested in the Right-Click Extender Version 2 (released March 11, 2010)  from The Windows Club, which will add a bag full of additional context menu support  in the following categories – File/Folder, Desktop, Drives, and MyComputer.

Following installation and execution of this free application, setting up and selecting the context menu items best suited to your needs is a snap – as the following series of screen shots shows. (Clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size).

File Folder Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Options Setup.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective context menu items available to me on the Desktop following installation of the Right-Click Extender, Version 2.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective Windows Explorer context menu items available to me, following installation of the Right-Click Extender Version 2.

image

Fast facts:

File and Folder Options:

add or remove Copy To

add or remove Move To

add or remove Admin Command Prompt

add or remove Encrypt/Decrypt

add or remove File List Create

add or remove My Computer God Mode

add or remove Hide File

add or remove Unhide File

add or remove Hide Folder

add or remove Unhide Folder

add or remove Take Ownership

Desktop Options:

add or remove Flip3D

add or remove Desktop God Mode

add or remove Control Panel

add or remove Task Manager

add or remove Administrative Tools

add or remove Registry Editor

If the right click context menu is a tool you use frequently, installing Right-Click Extender Version 2, should help give a boost to your productivity.

System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows 7 (sorry, not designed for Windows XP). As noted earlier, I’m running with Right-Click Extender Version 2 on Windows 8 with no problems.

Download at: MajorGeeks.com

The Windows Club offers a range of helpful Windows freeware apps – checkout their home page here.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, System Utilities, Windows 8, Windows Tips and Tools

Windows 8 – No Thank You – I’ll Pass!

imageRudyard Kipling, in his Barrack-Room Ballads wrote“East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, to describe the disconnect between two cultures – but, he might just as easily have been describing Microsoft’s attempt, with the development of Windows 8, to wed a Desktop/Laptop operating system and a Smartphone/Tablet operating system.

No doubt, Microsoft deserves a ton of credit for being adventuress and taking risks with the development of Windows 8. But, in re-imagining Windows “from the chipset to the user experience”, to quote Windows division president Steven Sinofsky – they have failed to meet their own target, which is, according to Microsoft – to give “users the same great experience whether they are on a tablet or on a desktop.” The experience, from my perspective is not so great.

Windows 8, developer preview (expires March 12, 2012) , was released yesterday for download and of course, I had to take the opportunity to test drive Microsoft’s latest OS offering. I’ve been running Windows 8 in a production environment for roughly 12 hours, so I’ve had an opportunity to develop some short term views.

The Windows 8 user interface is a radical departure from the traditional desktop UI and as such, it fails to satisfy my basic requirements. Since a desktop is my primary work unit, I have little interest in swiping features, keyboard shortcuts, slider menus and  an OS navigation system designed with a Tablet PC, or a Smartphone, in mind. As one of my friends observed – “ If I wanted my desktop to have the look and feel of a Tablet, I’d buy a Tablet.

Installation on a test system running Windows 7 (on which I kept settings), was smooth and flawless, with little user interaction required – much like a Win 7 install.

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Following startup and login, the surprises came in bunches – starting with the new Metro GUI. Super on a Tablet, I expect – but on my desktop – Yuck!

All application can be viewed as tiles, and are reachable with the click of a mouse, or accessed with the touch of a finger. The desktop, (shown on the far left tile in this screen capture), has been reconfigured as an application.

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The desktop (which I setup like my old Win 7 desktop), can also be accessed by cursoring to the left edge of the GUI – and voila! However, this is not an instinctive move.

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To take full advantage of Windows 8, users will need to develop a solid background of mouse gestures, and keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts include –

Alt-F4 – closes applications.

Windows key – switch between GUI and running application.

Windows key + R brings up the Run dialog box.

The Start menu has been replaced by the following virtually useless abomination – just look at what’s missing here. Including access to – shutdown. What were these guys thinking!

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Shutdown – Restart can be reached by clicking on Devices, which brings up the following – click on the power button and you’re out. In theory that is. Despite repeated attempts, I could not shutdown the system. I had no choice but to put the system into sleep mode.

Truthfully, I had to Google search “Windows 8 shutdown” to get a grip on the shutdown command – and, I can assure you, I was not alone. How sad is that in a new operating system.

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In my attempt to become familiar with Windows 8 as quickly as possible, I found myself relying on Windows Explorer more than normal – only to find THE RIBBON, has been incorporated into this venerable piece of Windows.

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This would have been a perfect opportunity for Microsoft to improve Windows Explorer with the addition of dual panes (very handy for geeks), but instead – we get the ribbon.

There’s little doubt that back behind the GUI, Windows 8 advances computing technology in a number of very substantial ways. Especially in that most important of areas – system security. But, this hybrid just doesn’t work for me.

Given that this is a developer preview, and at least one of the reasons for its general release is the feedback necessary to fine tune the system, I’m hoping to see a final product that more adequately reflects the “real” needs of desktop users.

In the meantime, within a day or two, Windows 8 on my test system will be deep sixed in favor of Windows 7 – in my view, the best Windows system to come out of Redmond.

If you are interested in checking out Windows 8 developer preview – you can download it here.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

30 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Freeware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows 8

Right-Click Extender Version 2 – Adds Multiple Context Menu Commands

imageThe “right click context menu” in Windows is a hidden gem. I know, you’re thinking – wait a minute, the right click context menu isn’t hidden, I use it all the time. And, I’ll bet you do. But, you might be surprised to learn, that if you were to ask an average user about this menu, the chances are pretty good that you’d get a blank look in return.

If you’re a power user and a fan of the right click context menu, then you’ll be interested in the Right-Click Extender Version 2 (released March 11, 2010)  from The Windows Club, which will add a bag full of additional context menu support  in the following categories – File/Folder, Desktop, Drives, and MyComputer.

Following installation and execution of this free application, setting up and selecting the context menu items best suited to your needs is a snap – as the following series of screen shots shows. (Clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size).

File Folder Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Options Setup.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective context menu items available to me on the Desktop following installation of the Right-Click Extender, Version 2.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective Windows Explorer context menu items available to me, following installation of the Right-Click Extender Version 2.

image

Fast facts:

File and Folder Options: 

add or remove Copy To

add or remove Move To

add or remove Admin Command Prompt

add or remove Encrypt/Decrypt

add or remove File List Create

add or remove My Computer God Mode

add or remove Hide File

add or remove Unhide File

add or remove Hide Folder

add or remove Unhide Folder

add or remove Take Ownership

Desktop Options: 

add or remove Flip3D

add or remove Desktop God Mode

add or remove Control Panel

add or remove Task Manager

add or remove Administrative Tools

add or remove Registry Editor

If the right click context menu is a tool you use frequently, installing Right-Click Extender Version 2, should help give a boost to your productivity.

System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows 7 (sorry, not designed for Windows XP).

Download at: MajorGeeks.com

The Windows Club offers a range of helpful Windows freeware apps – checkout their home page here.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

Comments Off on Right-Click Extender Version 2 – Adds Multiple Context Menu Commands

Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Integrated Solutions, Productivity Software, Software, System Utilities, Timesaving Tips, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista

Boost Your Productivity With Free Right-Click Context Menu Extender

imageThe “right click context menu” in Windows is a hidden gem. I know, you’re thinking – wait a minute, the right click context menu isn’t hidden, I use it all the time. And, I’ll bet you do. But, you might be surprised to learn, that if you were to ask an average user about this menu, the chances are pretty good that you’d often get a blank look in return.

If you’re a power user and a fan of the right click context menu, then you’ll be interested in the Right-Click Extender Version 2, from The Windows Club, which will add a bag full of additional context menu support  in the following categories – File/Folder, Desktop, Drives, and MyComputer.

Following installation and execution of this free application, setting up and selecting the context menu items best suited to your needs is a snap – as the following series of screen shots shows. (Clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size)

File Folder Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Setup.

image

Desktop Menu Options Setup.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective context menu items available to me on the Desktop following installation of the Right-Click Extender, Version 2.

image

The following is an example, from my system, illustrating selective Windows Explorer context menu items available to me, following installation of the Right-Click Extender Version 2.

image

If the right click context menu is a tool you use frequently, installing Right-Click Extender Version 2, should help give a boost to your productivity.

System Requirements: Windows Vista, Windows 7 ( not designed for Windows XP).

Download at: MajorGeeks.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

14 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista

Serif DrawPlus SE – Outstanding Free Vector Graphics Application

image SerifSoftware puts an interesting and unusual twist to the common “try this application for free for 30 days”, something with which we are all pretty familiar.

Serif releases free, older versions, of their current software for download – to entice at least some users to upgrade to current versions of their popular software. In my view, this “creative marketing” is something more software developers should consider.

I have used, and tested, Serif’s free editions for 10+ years now, and I have found that even their older software is more than up to the tasks I set.

Sure, the applications may be older than the current versions, but in terms of functionality and features, generally you are not missing much. In these older free versions there are not as many tools as one might find with more recent versions of Serif’s products, but those that are there, tend to be the ones that are most used by typical users.

Despite the slightly “older” appearance of DrawPlus SE , this is not an old program that’s been revived just for give-away. DrawPlus SE is still an amazing free drawing and graphic application, with which you can turn out vector graphics, high-impact graphics, and even web animations with tools usually only available in high end applications.

Serif SE

On top of that, DrawPlus SE is also a graphics design program that allows you to create logos, high quality print graphics, artwork, drawings, animations, labels and more.

Serif SE 2

The straightforward and intuitive interface is simple, but surprisingly powerful, so even first time users will get professional quality results.

If you like special effects, DrawPlus SE is loaded with them, so it’s easy to create high impact text for headlines, logos, banners, Web pages, or wherever your imagination takes you. You can add bitmap, conical, ellipse, plasma, radial and linear fills to your creations to produce spectacular results.

DrawPlus SE supports industry standard bitmap and vector formats including: JPEG, BMP, EMF, WMF and PNG for the Web.

Fast facts:

Drawing & Sketching – Say goodbye to complicated tools and ‘shaky hand’ drawings. DrawPlus makes drawing simple with easy to use Quick Shapes, Natural Curve Editing and Curve Smoothing.

Export Optimizer – Easily export your drawings and images optimized for email, websites, printing, or to your specific requirements in any supported image format.

Studio Resources – Choose from hundreds of pre-set lines, fills, transparencies, fonts and Wizard elements from the Studio tabs to save yourself time and still achieve amazing results.

Color Selection – Apply color fills to backgrounds, shapes and your own drawings from the simple on-screen studio palette.

Animation Mode – Bring your designs to life with the fun animation tools, which include easy-to-use, yet advanced features like onion skinning, backgrounds, overlays and frame management.

Blends – Use the blend tool to automatically ‘morph’ two images into one another. You choose the number of steps and let DrawPlus do the rest – easy!

If you’re looking for a free drawing and graphic application to test your creative skills, then DrawPlus SE will fill the bill admirably.

System Requirements: Windows XP (32 bit), Vista

Download at: Download.com

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

6 Comments

Filed under Arts and Crafts, downloads, Drawing Software, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Photo Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

What’s With the Weather? – Weather Pulse Desktop App Gives You the Lowdown

image Here in Canada, the COLD, snow, ice, and blizzard season is underway. Like most Canadians, at this time of the year paying attention to the weather is more than just a pastime for me – more than just a topic of conversation.

Living in a climate of inhospitable weather conditions, and in this part of Canada, to define the winter as inhospitable, is a definite understatement. Being unprepared for changing conditions here, has the potential for deadly consequences.

So, any tool that can keep me informed of both current and expected weather conditions, is a more than welcome addition to my computers software list.

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, has written a great article in which he discusses the benefits of one of his favorite weather tools – Weather Pulse.

Recently, one of my favorite weather monitoring applications (Weather Watcher Live) went from freeware to shareware. As indicated, I said “one of my favorites”.

imageAnother favorite weather application of mine, that is FREE, is very good, is “ad free”, and has been in the loop for some time is “Weather Pulse”. I did not realize how much I missed this weather app until I started using it again.

Weather Pulse is an integrated weather monitoring utility that displays detailed weather conditions, in an attractive interface, for whatever location(s) you desire. With Weather Pulse you can get current conditions, 5 Day Forecasts, Hourly Forecasts, numerous radar image options, and tone alerts.

You can even set your wallpaper background to a weather radar image that will periodically update so that you know what the weather conditions are at any given time.

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Weather Pulse also provides an interactive tray icon and desktop desklet that displays the current temperature. You can double click on either and the Weather Pulse application window will display.

Tray Icon

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Desklet

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If you want the weather at your fingertips, without ads, and is FREE (with no catches), then give Weather Pulse a try!

System requirements: Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows 98

Download at: Download.com

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

2 Comments

Filed under Desktop Applications, Freeware, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools