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Archive for January, 2009

How long’s it been since you last rebooted Windows?

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If you’ve ever wondered just how long your PC has been continuously running without a reboot and you are using Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista or 7, there are a couple of simple ways to obtain this information using tools built right into the OS.

Method 1: Windows NT/2000 and XP

Open up the command prompt (Start > Run > cmd > Enter/Ok). When the command prompt has loaded type “net stats srv” (or “net statistics server”). NT4 users (are there any, really?) need to download a special utility instead.

uptime-2

uptime-3

Method 2: Windows XP and beyond

Alternatively, you can use the command prompt to obtain system information, type “system info” which will also provide you with your PC’s uptime.

uptime-4

uptime-5

Method 3: Windows Vista and beyond

For those on Vista or Windows 7, things are a little easier (although the above will work just fine). Right click the taskbar and choose “Task Manager” or “Start Task Manager”. Head over to the “Performance” tab and on the bottom right of the window you ought to see your system uptime.

uptime-6

Also, should you so prefer, there are many other lightweight applications that will provide you with your system uptime. There’s a desktop gadget dedicated to that and here’s yet another alternative.

Feel free to share your current uptime in the comments below. Mine right now is at 47 hours, 51 minutes on Vista x64.

An updated version of this post and discussion can be found here.

Written by Matthew DeCarlo

January 22nd, 2009 at 7:05 am

Clear your browser cache, see TechSpot’s updated favicon

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Since we redesigned around mid last year, we updated our favicon to match our new looks. Now, whoever told you making a nice and sleek looking favicon was easy, they were blatantly lying!

As it turns out, it’s quite the challenge to turn up with something that looks good within 16×16 pixels, though I’m confident you will like our updated favicon as it looks distinctive, which is perhaps the most important attribute in a favicon when you are browsing around and switching tabs on Firefox, or accessing a bookmark from your favorite browser.

TechSpot new favicon

TechSpot new favicon

Google updated their favicon just a few weeks ago and we thought why don’t we as well? I got to work and came up with an improved version of the “T” favicon, adding a bit of a gradient/depth and rounded corners. Kudos to favicon.cc for making my life easier when porting the 16×16 image to .ico format.

Written by Julio Franco

January 19th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Windows 7 improved window management using the keyboard (hotkeys)

with 16 comments

You have probably heard already how Windows 7 simplifies and aids window management by letting you move and dock windows using the mouse, for example, dragging a window to the top edge will maximize it, or clicking on the right bottom corner will show the desktop. Now, you can do all this and many others using some equally useful keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys).

Brandon Paddock, who is one of Windows 7 Explorer developers, recently posted a complete list of Windows 7 hotkeys which I have copied below. I have also highlighted those which I believe are most useful and probably golden time-savers if you get to incorporate them into your day to day usage (though you will first need to use W7 as your primary OS for that).

Windows 7 Show desktop shortcut

Windows 7 Show desktop shortcut

General

Win+Up Maximize
Win+Down Restore / Minimize
Win+Left Snap to left
Win+Right Snap to right
Win+Shift+Left Jump to left monitor
Win+Shift+Right Jump to right monitor
Win+Home Minimize / Restore all other
windows
Win+T Focus the first taskbar entry
Pressing again will cycle through them, you can can arrow around.
Win+Shift+T cycles backwards.
Win+Space Peek at the desktop
Win+G Bring gadgets to the top of the Z-order
Win+P External display options (mirror, extend desktop, etc)
Win+X Mobility Center (same as Vista, but still handy!)
Win+#
(# = a number key)
Launches a new instance of the application in the Nth
slot on the taskbar.
Example: Win+1 launches first pinned app, Win+2 launches second, etc.
Win + +
Win + –
(plus or minus key)
Zoom in or out.

 

Explorer

Alt+P Show/hide Preview Pane

 

Taskbar modifiers
 

Shift + Click on
icon
Open a new instance
Middle click on icon Open a new instance
Ctrl + Shift + Click on icon Open a new instance with Admin privileges
Shift + Right-click on icon Show window menu (Restore / Minimize / Move
/ etc)
Note: Normally you can just right-click on the window thumbnail to get
this menu
Shift + Right-click on grouped icon Menu with Restore All / Minimize All /
Close All, etc.
Ctrl + Click on grouped icon Cycle between the windows (or tabs) in the
group

Written by Julio Franco

January 16th, 2009 at 6:32 am

How to remove Windows 7 Beta ‘Send Feedback’ link and wallpaper watermark

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The new Windows 7 beta release just like Vista preview releases before it incorporate some additional UI elements meant for testers to submit feedback back to Microsoft.

Now considering you may be running this Beta 1 release as your main OS for some reason (I admit it, I have given in to the temptation many times before), one of those elements in particular can become annoying and obtrusive to your otherwise neat configured desktop.

Windows 7 Beta Send Feedback link

Windows 7 Beta Send Feedback link

Here’s how to remove the Send Feedback link:

(1) Run the Registry Editor (type regedit on the start run menu)
(2) Browse to the following registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop
(3) If it’s not already there, add a new DWORD (32-bit) value “FeedbackToolEnabled” and set its data field to 0.
(4) The change should take effect on your next restart.

An alternative way to do this is to run this registry key file I have compiled for you. Just download, run and then restart.

Windows 7 Build 7000 watermark

Windows 7 Build 7000 watermark

There’s also a way to remove the wallpaper watermark from the beta, though I don’t find this quite as bothersome.

The process for doing this is a bit more complicated, having to patch the original user32.dll.mui file found on your Windows folder. So what I recommend you do is download this utility (found via My Digital Life) that will take care of everything for you – notice however this is only meant to work with Windows 7 Build 7000 (Beta 1).

Update: We still encourage all users to submit their feedback to Microsoft. It’s obvious that’s the reason Microsoft is giving away the OS code at this stage (besides building momentum after a lackluster Vista reception from most media), so if you come across some obvious bugs please submit them so developers can get them fixed in future revisions.

Our intention with this tip is to give you a fix for aesthetics if you will be using the beta for a prolonged time and the send feedback link bothers you visually. Ultimately what we all want is a flawless-as-you-can-get Windows 7 final release later this year.

Written by Julio Franco

January 10th, 2009 at 6:36 am

Slow System Performance When Copying Large Files in XP x64 & Server 2003 x64 – And a solution!

with 6 comments

I’ve been using Windows XP x64 for about a year now. My previous OS of choice was Windows 2000 which I really loved, I swore to never upgrade to XP and in a way I succeeded because XP x64 is really just Windows Server 2003 x64 with another name. Some apps even identify it as the Server OS since it bears the same NT build number of NT v5.2.

The reason I finally upgraded was so I could access all of my new system’s 8GB of RAM, and also because I was getting tired of writing Win2K fixes for games like Bioshock and Crysis. ;-)
But from the very beginning of the transition I was disappointed; XP x64, when handling large files would slow down to a crawl.

I tried in vain to look for a solution, to give you an example: I’ve got a RAID5 array with 3 x 1TB hard drives and a lone Raptor 150GB for the OS. If I played back a 1080p trailer off Apple’s site stored to my hard drive using Quicktime Alternative the video would start to skip massively if at the same time I copied a large file from the RAID5 array to my Raptor disk, or extracted a file using WinRAR in the same manner.

Of course this is not the only problem, just an easy way to reproduce it. When I extracted large files I noticed that the Task Manager did not report memory being used under its graph, however the counter for available memory under ‘Physical Memory’ would go down a whole lot, using as much as 4GB of RAM when copying files at least that large!

This in itself is not an issue when memory is freely available as it’s a good idea to use it for cache. However something in the design of Windows causes it to be detrimental to performance. It wasn’t until I started using the Performance Monitor (perfmon) that I realized what the problem was and came upon a solution. When I monitored the system I noticed excessive Page Faults and Lazy Writes which would peak as performance dropped. So the reason for the slow performance is that when the file is cached in RAM it causes massive page faults, which also needs to be committed to the disk, which leads to disk trashing.

The issue gets more pronounced the larger the difference is between the disk that reads and writes, in the case of my system the RAID5 array has a read capacity of 160MB/sec, but the Raptor can only write at ca 70MB/sec. So therefore when reading a large file it takes only seconds to fill the cache. At which point the performance of my computer plummets, even browsing the start menu or opening the Control Panel takes ages, if I try to open the Add/Remove Programs applet which is filled with stuff it actually never opens until the copy process is completed!

After all this trouble looking for the solution I finally found the KB article that explains this issue:

You may experience a decrease in overall system performance when you are copying files that are larger than approximately 500 MB in Windows Server 2003 SP1 or in Windows Server 2003 SP2

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Per Hansson

January 6th, 2009 at 4:42 pm

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