Fall – Windows Updates

Wow, we just got a snap of cold here in the Raleigh area.  The thing that always bugs me about our fall is that it seems to go so quickly.  Seems like we get those nice 60-70 temps for a short period before we get downright cold.  This winter promises to be no different.  Apparently they’re calling for a cold winter.  Ugh.

Upgrade Windows XP
Yeah, if you’re seeing THIS logo when you boot up, it’s REALLY time for an update.

Anyway, fall is a GREAT time to get the house geared up for the cold hibernation season.  We all spend far more time inside. With it being dark earlier, you’ll be hanging out more inside at night. That makes it time to get your computer all cleaned up.  If you’re a geek like me, you probably do things like this on Sunday mornings every once in a while.  I just finished my own computer cleanup. I usually do this stuff about once per month.  For those of you that are NOT uber-users, I also reboot about once every 7-10 days.  Little things start to get odd – like windows not floating up to the front when you click them, things taking way too long to open, just little glitchy things.  That’s when it’s time for a quick reboot.  And apply those updates when you do it.

Windows Updates

I always approach these with some degree of trepidation.  Microsoft is never clear about exactly WHAT an update is going to do.  It usually is sort of along the lines of “Microsoft indicates this is really important. You need to apply it now.” Okay, granted, they usually have a link that you can follow to find the notice about that update which has a link to another page which actually gives you a clue about what it’s going to do.  There is nothing more annoying than applying a number of updates and when you go to reboot, you start getting issues with your firewall, driver issues, or some other “GEEZ, I wish I hadn’t applied updates today” feeling.  You can see some other miscellaneous issues that we’ve documented over at Lizardwebs Computer Repair.

That said, updates ARE critical.  You do need to apply them for the most part.  I’m personally putting off an NVidia graphics driver update from Microsoft as it always causes great amounts of concern.  I run a triple monitor setup that never seems to do well when these updates are applied and I have ended up with multiple hours of downtime on more than one occasion.

One other things I *really* suggest is setting your computer to do updates – go with either the “Download updates, but let me choose whether to install them” OR the “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them” options. The default setting is to automatically apply these updates. If you leave your computer up 24/7 like I do, you probably have a tendency to leave things sitting for the morning. If one of these things happen to be an unsaved Excel document, unsaved text document or any unsaved work, you end up with a mess.  You get your updates applied automatically and MANY of them require  a reboot to work properly. When that auto reboot happens, everything is slammed shut. So questions like “Would you like to save xyz document?” don’t get answered on shutdown.

What happens then is you get in many cases when you go back to see what happened to that document, let’s say Excel, is a popup indicting a document wasn’t saved and would you like to recover it?  Yes, of course you do.  Then it comes up as a temp file and you are then faced with figuring out if you really HAD made any changes and were they all saved.  Same thing as after your car leaves you sitting the first time and not starting properly. You never look at it as fully trustworthy again.  Some of my own spreadsheets are so large that I never have a real clue if any of the possible dozens of changes were successfully saved or restored the way I expected.  Just one row – that maybe is saving all the info about a website hosting setup – can be lost and lead to much frustration when you try to get into that server again.

BYPASS all that by just telling your machine via the control panel = “Windows Update” to use one of the above options and save a whole lot of grief.  Now, you’ll still get dinged with that if your machine happens to blue screen or otherwise go down unexpectedly. The Windows Update though IS one thing you can control – so do it. Learn more helpful tricks and computer repair information over at Lizardwebs.

What You Should Know About Windows – Some Tips and Tricks

data-internet-technologyIf you’ve been a user of Windows for any length of time, you are probably aware of the improvements and enhancements that Microsoft has continued to add with each new edition. While not every version has been a complete success (read “Vista” and before that “Windows Millenium Edition” (ME) ), overall the glitches and bugs have been mostly overcome.  If not overcome, they nonetheless will release a new version to make you forget about the miserable earlier issues. Windows 7 is proving to be a powerful operating system.  We are NOT big fans whatsoever of Windows 8 in the current form, and it will likely go forth in the tradition of “ME” and “Vista”.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for Windows 9.   It really doesn’t matter what version of Windows you use. Each version has an amazing selection of shortcuts you can start using today to make your time at the computer easier and more productive.

Make things easier on yourself by putting the Windows taskbar to efficient use. If you need to switch between programs, or open a program, you use the taskbar. If you want, or need, to run more than one version of the same program at the same time, this can limit you. This isn’t something you can usually do. When you click on the icon for the program a second time, it will just open the currently running version. However, if you hold down the SHIFT key and click on the program’s icon, it will open another version of the currently running program. Each time you repeat these steps, a new copy of the running program will open and this is possible to do as many times as are necessary.

Were you impressed with the Aero Glass theme that came installed with your Windows 7? As lovely as these themes are, they do tend to use up memory and cause your PC to function at a slower speed. When a Windows 7 owner has enjoyed the Aero themes for a while, he or she may decide to save memory and gain more speed by changing over to one of the Basic themes that are available. You can easily change themes in the Control Panel under Appearance and Personalization from an Aero theme to a Basic theme. You can analyze how much affect the Aero theme has on your PC and, if it’s OK, you may decide you really want to enjoy one of the Aero themes.

altdeskThe virtual desktops of computer users can quickly become a jumbled mess, even if their actual desk is neat and orderly. It isn’t long before you have so many programs and files littering your desktop that you have trouble locating the one you want. Do you run several programs at the same time? This can create a bewildering situation.  If you want a great desktop virtual window manager, we recommend AltDesk from the folks at AstonShell.

If you want an easy way to keep tabs on what you’re doing, use the Shake feature from Windows 7. Click on the title bar of the window you’re using and shake it back and forth. The other windows that you have open will show up minimized in your Task Bar. This same procedure will happen if you press the Windows key and the Home key at the same time. It may seem childish at first glance, but you will be able to focus better if you don’t have other windows open.

Good logic dictates that you use Windows to your fullest advantage. If you want your Windows to run better and more efficiently, apply some of the tips we’ve outlined above. People use computers for different purposes and, regardless of your use, you can definitely find shortcuts to make your work more efficient. Be open to searching for ways to enhance your computer experience and you will discover the many possibilities available to you. Find out more about Lizardwebs Raleigh Computer Repair.