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Linux just gets sexier and sexier, and Fedora 11 just joined Ubuntu 9.04 in the ranks of super modern Linux distros released this year. Fedora doesn’t have all the desktop refinements of Ubuntu, or the wild popularity, but it does act as the underpinnings of Intel’s Moblin, and the Sugar OS, and doesn’t shy away from the future.
Fedora 11 makes the bleeding edge ext4 filesystem the default for installs, which speeds performance and improves data integrity — Ubuntu offers ext4 as an option, but some application incompatibilities have caused data loss problems, so hopefully Fedora has overcome that. Fedora 11 also has boot times in its sights, with a goal to be at the login screen in 20 seconds, new versions of GNOME and KDE desktop environments (GNOME is default, but KDE 4.2 is looking great) and plenty of other minor and major tweaks. Sure, it’s still Linux: most folks who expect to just swap out their Windows environment wholesale are sure to be sorely disappointed, but it’s clear the steady march of progress continues unabated — and hey, it’s good enough for Intel and the children.


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As it has been announced earlier, in new operational system Windows 7 it is possible to easily change a background of a logon screen. For this purpose it is not required to change resources in executable files or to carry out still any special actions. Process of changing of the image is very simple and can be executed without use of additional tools. This functionality is accessible and correctly works since 7057 build.

To change a background on the logon screen it is necessary to do following steps.

  1. To open the registry editor and to find section “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE –> Software –> Microsoft –> Windows –> CurrentVersion –> Authentication –> LogonUI –> Background”. In this section there is a special key “OEMBackground” (DWORD type). Value “1” herein says that it is necessary to use special appearance of the logon screen. If the key does not exist, he can be created manually.
  2. To be convinced, that there is folder “%windir%\system32\oobe\info\backgrounds”. Here Windows 7 will search for background images for the logon screen. If this folder does not exist, she is necessary for creating.
  3. To put in this folder all necessary images. For each screen resolution it is necessary to put the image in this folder with a specific name. If the image with the necessary name is not found, file backgroundDefault.jpg will be used. It is important, that each image should be no more than 256 KB, differently it will be ignored. The list of files which are necessary for putting in this folder:
    1. backgroundDefault.jpg
    2. background768×1280.jpg  (0.6)
    3. background900×1440.jpg  (0.625)
    4. background960×1280.jpg  (0.75)
    5. background1024×1280.jpg (0.8)
    6. background1280×1024.jpg (1.25)
    7. background1024×768.jpg  (1.33)
    8. background1280×960.jpg  (1.33)
    9. background1600×1200.jpg (1.33)
    10. background1440×900.jpg  (1.6)
    11. background1920×1200.jpg (1.6)
    12. background1280×768.jpg  (1.66)
    13. background1360×768.jpg  (1.770833)
  4. For display of changes there is no necessity to reboot. It is enough to lock Windows (Win + L) or to leave a current session (Log off).

Also it is possible to take advantage of 3rd-party utilities. One of such utilities – Tweaks Logon Changer for Windows 7. This utility will execute all necessary changes in the system registry, and also will compress the image till the necessary sizes and will put in the necessary folder.

Tweaks Logon Changer for Windows 7


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Gmail notifier for Windows 7 is a utility that is non-dependant of the browser and notifies you with the new mails in your gmail inbox and lets you enjoy with more options of Gmail independently in Windows 7.

It not only allows you to have the mail count, but also the mail previews from the taskbar, also when the mails are opened from the inbox, you are automatically logged into the browser version of Gmail. It is using Gmail secured RSS feed to retrieve the mails so it should be pretty safe. Credentials are saved using a machine’s dependent encryption.

Clicking on any mail would open it in Gmail, and the software is compatible with Windows 7 OS. Moreover, this tool does not come in the list of Alt + Tab windows, but sits just beside the Windows icon between the shortcut icons.

Download the Gmail notifier for Windows 7 from here.
gmail notifier

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One of the worlds largest video sites is Megavideo. Megavideo is mainly known for allowing users to make money from just uploading their videos to the site. At Megavideo you are also not allowed to download the videos unless you are a premium member.

Here is a little trick bought to you by HelloGiri you can easily download and save MegaVideo videos to your computer and watch them offline whenever you like.

  1. Open your MegaVideo video in your browser and let it load fully
  2. After you are done watching the video online, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Settings -> View Files (For IE)
  3. Now you will get a large size file with long name and unknown type there
  4. Copy and paste that file at desktop, this file is the video file in flv format
  5. Rename it with flv extension, say e.g. MyMega.flv
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The critics and Windows users will likely amazed with the born of this RC 1. To avoid “spicy” criticism from customers, Microsoft now put extra consideration to the development of Windows 7.

In the previous beta version, users are given the opportunity to ‘recognize’ the new features in Windows 7. RC 1 is now comes with the completion of these features.

Prior to installing Windows 7 RC 1, there are 7 important things you should know:

  1. Some new changes;
    • The Taskbar becomes more responsive and feels more comfortable.
    • Music streaming via Windows Media Player.
    • To enable or disable some Windows features. You can now ‘throw’ Internet Explorer 8 and some other Windows’ pre-installed software.
    • Additional Driver Support, now you do not need to search for new drivers when installing Windows 7. The system will automatically recognize the driver.
    • New wallpapers, themes and sound schemes addition.
  2. You don’t need a bootable disk or DVD during the installation of Windows 7. You can do this from within Windows itself.
  3. Installing the upgrade version from the Beta, now is not working on RC 1.
  4. Windows 7 is able to run with VMWare or Virtual PC.
  5. It’s getting easier to repair Windows system. Windows 7 can detect any system error, before you repair it.
  6. Old Windows XP can still run in Windows 7 via Windows XP Mode (XPM) application, how cool is that…
  7. You can enjoy the Windows 7 RC 1 for free for about 1 year, until June, 1 2010.
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A couple of months ago, Microsoft conducted a research study where they found search engine branding had an impact on the perceived quality of results. Now, months later, Bing is launched and people are once again ranking the quality of search results. At first, there were direct side-by-side comparisons, but of course there’s no better challenge than a double-blind experiment.

Michael Kordahi, which I feel compelled to disclose is a Microsoft employee, has set up such an experiment, dubbed “BlindSearch” which you can try here. On the site, you enter a single search query which results three sets of unbranded results. After viewing the results, you are given an option to vote on one set of results, which then reveals the provider and adds it to the tally.

At the time of writing, Google is in the lead with the tally standing at “Google: 40%, Bing: 31%, Yahoo: 29%” out of 355 votes.

Update: Approximately half an hour after posting, Bing takes a slight lead over Google. (Google: 36%, Bing: 38%, Yahoo: 26% | 641 votes)

Update 2: A thousand votes later, Google and Bing are tied. (Google: 39%, Bing: 39%, Yahoo: 22% | 1757 votes)

Update 3: Three’s the magic number, for Google. (Google: 40%, Bing: 37%, Yahoo: 23% | 2554 votes)

Update 4: Google is taking a stronger lead with another thousand votes. (Google: 43%, Bing: 32%, Yahoo: 25% | 3520 votes)

Update 5: It appears the application has exceed Yahoo API’s daily limit. Michael is aware of the problem and looking for a workaround. Yahoo results has since been fixed.


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More and more programs are dedicated on enhancing Windows 7 and although, the new OS doesn’t needs much patching, Windows 7 Little Tweaker enables some features that might be useful to anyone. Windows 7 Little Tweaker is a small portable application that works ONLY on Win 7 and ads some little juice to the pie.

Let’s see what goodies can we have:

+ Add “Copy To” option in files and folders context menu, so that you can easily copy them to other locations

+ Add “Move To” option in files and folders context menu, so that you can easily move them to other locations

+ Set Windows to automatically end task of programs which are either hanged or taking longer time than expected to exit

+ Decrease menus show delay time, it’ll show the sub-menus fast when you select their parent menu

+ Disable the low disk space check so that you don’t get the annoying low disk space notification in system tray

+ Set Windows to not waste time in searching for a program which no longer exists in your system when you try to open its shortcut

+ Disable “search on Internet” prompt in “Open with” window so that it directly opens the program list

+ Add “Take Ownership” option in files and folders context menu so that you can easily take ownership of files and folders in case you want to replace them for customization purpose

+ Speed up the Explorer navigation by disabling network printers and network scheduled tasks

+ Add “Command Prompt Here” option on folders context menu (right click) for a quick command prompt opening at the selected folder

+ Adds “Open With Notepad” option on files context menu (right click) for a quick viewing of files content

+ Adds “Delete Folder Content” option on folders context menu (right click) to quick delete only the content of a folder without accessing the folder

+ Speeds up taskbar thumbnail preview by reducing the mouse hover time delay

+ Disables (Turn Off) Annoying UAC (User Account Control) and suppress UAC consent prompt dialog

So,  for the more advanced user, some of those unlocked features can be enabled via registry or by using the control panel and playing around, but overall,  I think Windows 7 Little Tweaker is a nifty little tool that can enchance your Windows Seven experience with some degree.

Download and install Windows 7 Little Tweaker

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If you wish to completely uninstall Microsoft Office 2007 this the article you are looking for. If instead you are looking for a nice tool letting you uninstall Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) go on reading. Microsoft has recently released a wonderful, easy and free tool intended for those users who have encountered issues and problems after installing Office 2007 SP2.  Microsoft Service Pack Uninstall Tool for the 2007 Microsoft Office Suite will let you automatically uninstall all patches installed from the release.

Reading from the Microsoft webpage: “The Microsoft Service Pack Uninstall Tool for the 2007 Microsoft Office Suite is a command line tool which will assist with uninstalling client patches installed by the 2007 Office Suite SP2.” Before running the tool to uninstall Office 2007 SP2, please keep into consideration to read the following articles (they are suggested by Microsoft itself):

Microsoft Service Pack Uninstall Tool for the 2007 Microsoft Office Suite supports Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2; Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista Service Pack 1; Windows XP Service Pack 3.

If you want to know more, visit this link. If you want to download the tool right away, click here.


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We were waiting for Google Chrome to become available for Linux for a couple of months.Today they released unstable version of Google Chrome.For the ones who do not know, it is NOT CHROMIUM, this is Google Chrome.Chromium is an open source browser project. Google Chrome is a browser from Google, based on the Chromium project.(However, they totally look same :) )Installing Google Chrome will add the Google repository so your system will automatically keep Chrome up to date.If you do not want to add the repository you can just use this command before the installation to disable it :
$sudo touch /etc/defaults/google-chrome
Installation :
Get the i386 deb (for 32 bit systems) from here or amd64 (for 64 bit systems) one from here.Now install it via double clicking the deb.
Now you can access Google Chrome via navigating Applications > Internet > Google Chrome or google-chrome command.
PS : At the moment there is no flash plugin, printing, complex text, complex tab dragging and gears support for Google Chrome like Chromium.Why would we use Google Chrome instead of using open source Chromium?

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In past we have reviewed Leopard Transformation Pack 2 & Mac OS X Leopart theme to transform Vista to Mac OS X. a latest Windows 7 is almost here and many users are already enjoying Windows 7 RC. We don’t see any reason for users to have Mac OS X like look & feel on Windows 7 RC.

But in case if you are looking for way to transform windows 7 to Mac Os X then Leopard OSX for Win7 RC v2 visual style developed by one of deviantart user is good option for you. Leopard OS X theme will only work with Windows 7 build 7100.

Screenshot of Leopard OS X theme for Windows 7 RC

Windows 7 RC Transformed into Mac Os X Leopard

Windows 7 RC Transformed into Mac Os X Leopard

Download Leopard OS X Theme for Windows 7 RC Build 7100


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If you suspect that some one is eying on your instant messaging conversations then you must try out some encryption software which will encrypt your conversations. BitDefender chat encryption is one such very useful program which keeps your instant messages safe. BitDefender Chat Encryption will encrypt your instant messages so that they are safe.

BitDefender chat encryption will be very helpful when you have got some confidential talk over instant messaging. It will keep you safe from others through a simple and automatic encryption process. BitDefender delivers IM privacy in a snap which secures all your communications via Yahoo Messenger 8 and Windows Live Messenger 8.5. Inorder to protect yourselves with BitDefender chat encryption, you should ensure that the person with whom you are talking to on the other side has also installed BitDefender chat encryption on their computer.

Main Features of BitDefender chat encryption

  • Privacy in a snap: The encryption procedure begins automatically with this feature when a conversation is initiated. It doesn’t require any password.
  • No Message hijacking: This allows you and your partner to access the IM conversations on a top level encryption.

As BitDefender chat encryption is FREE, you can invite your friends to use it. After they install the product your conversations are encrypted and safe. BitDefender chat encryption works with Yahoo! Messenger v8 or higher and Windows Live Messenger v8.5 or higher on Windows XP SP2(32 bit) and Windows Vista (32 bit). So if you are looking to protect instant messages then try out BitDefender chat encryption.

Download BitDefender chat encryption here

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The KOffice team might be very happy after announcing the latest version 2.0.0 of KOffice as they have spent more than 3 years to port KOffice to Qt 4 and KDE 4 libraries and in some cases it’s a total rewrite of the KOffice applications.

For those of you who do not know much about KOffice; It is an integrated office suite built on the KDE platform which utilizes free and open standards like OpenDocument for its document formats, component communication and component embedding. The KOffice team has reworked the framework into an agile and flexible codebase as they want to decrease the duplication of functionality and want to develop and maintain the new features.

The KOffice team recommends KOffice 2.0.0 to early adopters, developers and testers and not for normal users as it is using the new engine. More features will be introduced in the further releases of KOffice which would be worth waiting as they could be more efficient and better integrated.

Applications included in KOffice 2.0.0

  • KWord - Word processor
  • KSpread - Spreadsheet manager
  • KPresenter - Presentations creator
  • KPlato - Project management tool
  • Karbon - Vector graphics editor
  • Krita - Raster graphics editor

The KChart application is available throughout the whole KOffice Suite as a shape plug-in. “Flake” is one of the major new features in KOffice. Which is simple geometric figure or a very complex chart. Flake shape is available in all of KOffice 2.0.0 components. To work best with wider screen formats, KOffice 2.0.0 has redesigned with a new GUI layout. KOffice has also got native support for OASIS OpenDocument Format(ODF). To manage your workflow you can dock and undock the individual toolbox. With every launch of the program users don’t have to reconfigure the layout and settings as KOffice remembers them. KOffice is available on Linux with KDE or GNOME, Windows and Macintosh.

Download KOffice 2.0.0

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Over the past few years, security suites have managed to pick up a bad reputation for being bloated and slowing down the PCs on which they are installed. They are, in fact, sometimes regarded as necessary evils—users install them, but only begrudgingly. They aren’t entirely wrong to feel this way, since it’s true that the burdens imposed by such software on CPU utilization, hard disk space usage and even overall system boot time have ballooned out of proportion. When this happens, some users ditch the suites and instead combine separate antivirus, antispyware and firewall applications (often free ones), but plenty of them just do without any sort of protection at all.

Symantec has identified unnecessary bloat as the main area in which the 2009 editions of its products can be improved, and so we have Norton 360 version 3.0, which makes the bold claims of being able to be installed in less than one minute, using less than 10 MB of RAM at idle, and occupying less than 100 MB of disk space (without the definition files that accumulate over time). Those claims, and a couple of interesting new concepts for handling security altogether, are what make this suite interesting.

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Google Reader, the online feed aggregator provided by the Mountain View search engine giant, has made its way to Google Desktop, the software that works with Mac OS X, Linux and Windows and makes searching the user’s computer as easy as performing a web search. The Reader Google Desktop gadget has been developed by software expert James Yum as part of his “20% time” (one day per week, Google allows software developers to work on any ideas they might have about improving the company’s online services).
“Wherever there are gadgets, RSS feed readers are never lacking, and Google Desktop gadgets are no exception. Until now, there hasn't been a good way to combine all your feeds into a single gadget. With the new Google Reader gadget, you can now track your feeds and Google Reader subscriptions directly from your desktop. The Google Reader gadget is designed to be familiar for existing Reader users, yet compact like our other Desktop gadgets," explains Google Desktop expert, James Yum.

In order to benefit from the gadget’s functionality, here is what you must do:
- First of all, you need to install Google Desktop; if you do not have it, a download location is provided below.
- You need to download and install the Reader Google Desktop gadget (download location provided below).
- Sign into your Google account and select a subscription; the Reader gadget will automatically be updated with new posts.
- Click an item to open a larger view which allows you to see a preview of that item and perform certain tasks(start, share, email).
- Keep in mind that the Reader Google Desktop gadget does not fully render full HTML feeds. According to James Yum this is “due to a technical limitation of Google Desktop gadgets.” But if you click on an item title, your browser will fire up and you will be directed to the original web page where the item is displayed.
James Yum again: “The Google Reader gadget runs with the latest Linux and Windows releases of Google Desktop gadgets and is open sourced under the Apache 2.0 license. We hope this gadget is a fun and useful way to access your Google Reader subscriptions. Please give it a try and tell us what you think.”
If you would like to get the Reader Google Desktop gadget, a download location is available here.
If you would like to get Google Desktop, a download location is available here.
In related news, Google Reader has enhanced its social networking offering by allowing the user to set up custom feed bundles and share them with friends (details here).



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One big ease-of-use advantage Linux distributions have over Windows is the process of installing and updating applications - thanks to repositories and software like Debian's apt-get. Running Windows doesn't mean that you can't easily maintain your app installs. With a few helpful (and free) downloaders you can add that missing functionliaty to your system, too!
Here are five that I find particularly helpful - share your favorites in the comments!

Anti-Malware Toolkit (pictured above) - If you download malware fighting apps frequently, you need AMT. Nearly 40 programs are supported, including must-haves like MalwareBytes, CCleaner, Autoruns, Unlocker, Rootkit Revealer, and more. AMT also supports command line arguments for easy batch scripting and scheduling.

FileHippo Update Checker - FileHippo is one of the best places out there to download software. The site is well organized, and they do a good job of only listing quality apps. Their update checker makes it easy to keep your core free applications up to date. It's also available as a portable application.

GetIt - Wondering why AppSnap, AppUpdater, and Win-Get aren't listed? It's because GetIt rolls all three into a single interface, is able to download over 400 applications, and integrates nicely with FARR. Don't worry about installing the supporting cast ahead of time, GetIt will grab them for you on the first launch. GetIt is also portable now, though you'll need to install the regular version first then create the portable file yourself.

Chrome Nightly Updater - If you prefer to rock a cutting-edge (and unstable) browser, nightly builds are the way to go. CNU makes short work of keeping your Chromium install hot-off-the-compiler fresh.

Ketarin - Are you the hands-on type? Ketarin is the downloader for you - think of it as a kicked-up frontend for wget. Since developers can frequently change folders and filenames (hello, version strings!) Ketarin can be a bit of work to maintain. It's not all DIY, though, as Ketarin also supports FileHippo program IDs - which never change.


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Expression Web With SP1
Groove 2007 With SP1
OneNote 2007 With SP1
Professional Plus 2007 Suite With SP2 (Suite) (12.0.6416.1000) - PRODUCT SUITE WITH SP2
Project Professional 2007 With SP1
Project Standard 2007 With SP1
SharePoint Designer 2007 With SP1
Ultimate 2007 Suite With SP2 (Suite) (12.0.6416.1000) - PRODUCT SUITE WITH SP2
Visio Professional 2007 With SP1
Visio Standard 2007 With SP1

Check out here for More details on Download

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If you frequently get emails written in a foreign language in your Microsoft Outlook email client software or  if you have to translate Office Word documents, here is a nice, freeware add-on which is going to be quite useful to you. As a matter of fact, it helps you translate foreign emails or documents in a couple of clicks.

Microsoft has recently released a nice add-on which, once installed, will add “Microsoft Translator through the Research task pane for Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007.” The translating add-on works with the following  Office programs:

  • Microsoft Office Word 2003 and 2007
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 and 2007
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 and 2007
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2003 and 2007
  • Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 and 2007
  • Microsoft Office Visio 2003 and 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 and 2007

Thanks to Microsoft Translator you will be able to translate single words, sentences or full text by using the advanced Live Search translation service located in the contextual menu or in the Research task pane of Office. If you want to download this helpful add-on, visit Microsoft’s official webpage.

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Download Windows 7 Transformation Theme Pack For Kubuntu 9.04

We can’t deny the fact that most of the Linux OS in the market are has a very user unfriendly interface, possibly because most of us grew up with Windows and got accustomed with the layout. Ubuntu 9.04 on the other hand is trying to change this, among all the Linux OS, Ubuntu has a simple interface and it is easy to learn.

Ubuntu is a community developed, Linux-based operating system that is perfect for laptops, desktops and servers. It contains all the applications you need - a web browser, presentation, document and spreadsheet software, instant messaging and much more.

For those newly converted Linux users, you should download Vistar7 Transformation Pack, it makes Kubuntu 9.04 looks and in some areas works like Windows 7. Screenshot below, download the free Vistar7 Transformation Pack for Ubuntu 9.04.

Download Windows 7 Transformation Theme Pack For Kubuntu 9.04

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If you couldn’t find your Windows product keys, this little program WinGuggle helps you in recovering your product keys from the windows installation. WinGuggle can recover and Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 product keys along with Office 2007 product key.

WinGuggle is self executable file, download the application, unzip it and launch the application. It will display the product keys of the windows installation and Office. It also allows you to change OEM logo and other information if you would prefer that.

WinGuggle is a freeware works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and requires .NET framework for Windows XP.

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Windows 7 has a neat jumplist feature that allows programs to create links to application-specific tasks from the right click menu that appears when you click on the minimized window button in the taskbar.

Some native Windows applications utilize this feature very well. Internet Explorer 8 on Windows 7 puts your most visited sites in the jumplist as you use it more and more. In the screenshot below, you can see IE 8’s jumplist that has options to specific tasks like InPrivate, New tab etc:

Windows 7 Jumplist

However, Firefox’s current version doesn’t utilize jumplists in a big way. The following screenshot will illustrate the same. It doesn’t do much.

Firefox doesn't take advantage of Windows 7 Jumplist features

Firefox doesn't take advantage of Windows 7's Jumplist features

However, Winfox aims to change all that. Winfox tells Firefox to leverage the Jumplist feature in Windows 7 to do more things.

Winfox pins frequently visited sites to the Firefox jumplist. Thumbnails of open windows are available from the taskbar button as well.

Firefox Jumplist, after Winfox was installed

Firefox Jumplist, after Winfox was installed

Get Winfox from here. Winfox works with Firefox 3 and above.

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If Wolfram Alpha was not enough to keep the Google team worried, Collecta thought to give another twist to the already complicated future of Google Search Engine.  Not only this, even specialized search companies like Jenni (A movie and tv shows search engine) have been taking some small pies of business away from Google. Anyways, the blog is about a new wonder child whose still in the line to rock the world! Its name is Collecta!

Collecta is a one of the first of its kind. Its a Real Time Search Engine. It can give you everything about a certain keyword as and when it happens.  So if you want to know latest updates about Maria Sharapova or about Swine Flu, you can only just type it into Collecta! Baaaang! The result is a live stream of results as and when they are uploaded to the world wide web. No matter if its a twitter update, any new comment with the your desired keyword, any news story or a picture posted at Flickr, Collecta will bring them all for you at one place. So now you don’t have to refresh the Google News page repeatedly to check the new updates on a fast developing story or glued your eyes to Twitter to check it our for latest information, all your need is just Collecta as it will Collect Each and Everything for you as its name suggests.


Below is the screen shot of the Collecta when i gave it a try. Collecta has given two keywords i.e Obama and Swineflu to test them on their Collecta Real Time Search Engine. The results were impressive. I got a lot of twitter updates and few link to other stories about Obama. Even few wordpress blog posts also appeared in the list. Another website tested the Collecta engine for its updation speed and they found it pretty satisfactory. In any case, its currently just looking for two keywords and hence we can expect such speed, the real test will come when million of people will be searching for wide variety of terms at the same time.

So lets keep our fingers crossed and lets hope to be the first to update this post when Collecta is available for our Collective usage. Gerry Campbell and his team deserves a loud applause.  Click here to visit the Collecta site

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Windows 7 is currently only a beta version, but it’s better than the latest version of Windows Vista and it comes with a lot of new features. Unfortunately, some of them aren’t so easy to figure out, so we created a list of the most important tips and tricks and a step-by-step guide.

  1. PC Safeguard

    I rarely let anyone use my PC because I’m afraid he will mess it up, but it seems Microsoft has been thinking at me and came with a solution. The PC Safeguard doesn’t let anyone mess your PC settings, because after the user logs off, the configurations are reset back to normal. Of course it will not restore the configurations changed by you, but only the ones done by other users you define.

    To use PC Safeguard, go to Control Panel -> User Accounts and create a new account, then select “Set Up Pc Safeguard” and switch it on. Then you can stay relaxed when others use your computer, because you won’t find anything changed, including configurations, downloaded software, installed programs.

  2. Screen Calibration

    Fortunately, Windows 7 comes with a display calibration wizard that lets you set up the screen brightness properly, so you won’t have any problems viewing photos or text. The problem was that on one PC a photo could look sharp and bright and on another it looks awful. Now the problem can be fixed by pressing the Win key and then typing “DCCW”.

  3. AppLocker

    If you are usually sharing your computer with someone else, then you might want to restrict their access to your applications, files or documents. Using the AppLocker tool, you have a few options to do this by blocking other users to access Executables, Windows Installers, Scripts, a specific publisher or path. You can simply do this by pressing the Windows key then typing Gpedit.msc. Then go to Computer Navigation -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Application Control Policies -> AppLocker. Right click on one of the options ( Executables, Installers, or Script ) and create a new rule. That should save you from a lot of headaches.

  4. Burn Images

    We all had trouble with image burning in Windows, because it couldn’t do it itself, a standalone software being needed. With Windows 7 this will not be a problem anymore. All you have to do is double-click the ISO image and burn it on the CD or DVD that’s inserted in the drive.

  5. Display Empty Removable Drives

    Windows 7 will not show empty drives by default, so if you connect an empty drive to your PC, don’t worry, just go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View and uncheck “Hide empty drives in the computer folder”. This doesn’t seem like a good idea and it should not be default setting, because it will be hard for inexperienced users to figure it out. I bet a lot of users will return their newly bought drive thinking it’s broken.

  6. Dock The Current Windows To The Left Side Of The Screen

    This new feature seems useful because sometimes it’s disturbing that windows seems to float like crazy on the screen and it’s hard to attach them to one side of it. Now this can easily be done using a keyboard shortcut. Press the Windows key + Left key to dock it to the left side of the screen.

  7. Dock The Current Windows To The Right Side Of The Screen

    Press the Windows key + Right key to dock it to the right side of the screen.

  8. Display Or Hide The Explorer Preview Panel

    Press ALT + P to hide it then once again to display it.

  9. Display Gadgets On Top Of Other Windows

    Press ALT + G

  10. Background Photo Slideshow

    If you are like me, lazy and bored, then you will want to change the background from time to time, wasting a lot of time. Now you don’t have to do this anymore, because you can set up a slideshow. Right click on the desktop then go to Personalize -> Desktop Background and hold the CTRL key while choosing the images. Then you can choose the time intervals between images and opt to display them randomly or in a row.

  11. Make The Taskbar Smaller

    If you feel like the taskbar is using too much of your screen space, you can choose to make the icons smaller. To do this, right-click on the Start button, then go to Properties -> Taskbar and set it to “Use small icons”

  12. Combine Taskbar Icons

    When you have more windows or applications opened, the taskbar’s space might not be enough for them all, so you need to combine them, just like you would in Windows XP or Vista. To do this, right-click the Start button, then go to Properties -> Taskbar and check “Combine when taskbar is full”.

  13. Multi-threaded File Copy

    If you are a more advanced user, you’ve heard already about Robocopy. Now it’s included in Windows 7 and lets you perform multi-threaded copies from the command line. You can choose the number of threads like this “/MT[:n], which can be from 1 to 128.

  14. Maximize Or Restore The Foreground Window

    Press Windows Key + Up Key.

  15. Minimize The Active Window

    Press Windows Key + Down Key

  16. Activate The Quick Launch Toolbar

    The Quick Launch Toolbar in Windows XP in Vista seems a very good idea that you might miss when using Windows 7. Fortunately though, you can get it back in a quick few steps. Right click the taskbar, go to Toolbar -> New Toolbar and type “%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch” into the folder box, then click Select Folder. To make it look like it would in Windows Vista, right click the taskbar, uncheck “Lock the Taskbar”, then right click the divider and uncheck “Show Title” and “Show Text”. Then right click the taskbar and check “Show Small Icons” and you should be done.

  17. Preview Photos In Windows Explorer

    While in Windows Explorer, Press ALT + P and a preview should appear on the right.

  18. Desktop Magnifier

    Press the Windows Key and the Plus Key to zoom in or Windows Key and the Minus Key to zoom out. You can zoom anywhere on the desktop and you can even configure your magnifier. You can choose to invert colors, follow the mouse pointer, follow the keyboard focus, or the text insertion point.

  19. Minimize Everything Except The Current Window

    Press the Windows Key + Home Key.

  20. TroubleShoot Power Management

    Windows 7 can tell you how much power your system uses or provide detailed information about the power usage and issues caused by each application and device. This way you can optimize the way your battery is used, making It last longer. Press the Windows Key and type “POWERCFG –ENERGY –OUTPUT <path\filename>”, and it will create a file called energy-report.html in the folder specified by you, after observing your PC for 60 seconds.

  21. Web Searches From Your Desktop

    Windows 7 lets you search for online resources, by adding a connector that be downloaded for free. For instance, go to and download the Flickr connector. After that, you should see the Flickr Search in your searches folder and you will be able to do it directly from your desktop, without needing to visit their website.

  22. Add Videos To Your Start Menu

    If you were looking for a faster way to access your videos, then Windows 7 has the right answer for you. Right click the Start button, then go to Properties -> Start Menu -> Customize and set the Videos to “Display as a link” and you’re done, you will now find them in the Start Menu.

  23. Shift The Window From One Monitor To Another

    If you are using two or more monitors, then you might want to move the Windows from one to another. There is a very simple way to do it. All you have to do is press the Windows Key + Shift Key + Left or Right Key, depending on what monitor you want to move it to.

  24. Custom Power Button

    There is an option to replace the “Shut Down” button with another action, if you rarely shut down the computer, but you more often restart it or put it on sleep. Right click the Start Button, go to Properties and choose the ‘Power Boot Action” to do whatever you want, from the given options.

  25. Easily Add A New Font

    Adding a new font it’s now easier than ever. Just download the font you want, double click it and you should see the install button.

  26. Stretch The Window Vertically

    You can stretch the active window vertically to the maximum display height by pressing the Windows + Shift + Up Keys. Press Windows + Down Keys if you want to restore it.

  27. Open Windows Explorer

    Press The Windows + E Keys to open a new instance of Windows Explorer.

  28. Create A New Instance Of The First Icon In The Taskbar

    Press Windows + 1 Keys to open a new instance of the first icon in the taskbar. This could prove really useful in some circumstances.

  29. Windows Action Center

    Windows Action Center offers you important information about your PC, like the Antivirus Status, updates, troubleshooting and provides a backup scheduling feature. To access it, go to Control Panel -> System And Security -> Action Center.

  30. Windows Troubleshooting Platform

    This platform can help you solve a lot of issues you may encounter, like the internet connection, hardware devices, poor system performance and more. You can choose what to troubleshoot and it will come with some possible explanations for the problem that might really help you. There are a lot of options, guidance and information available there, so give it a try by typing “troubleshoot” or “fix” after pressing the Windows Key.

  31. Turn Off System Notifications

    System notifications are usually disturbing and aren’t always useful, so you might want to turn some of them off and. This can be done in Windows 7 by double clicking the Notification Area Icons in Control panel. There you can change notifications and icons for the Action Center, Network, Volume, Windows Explorer, Media Center Tray Applet, Windows Update Automatic Updates.

  32. Turn Off Security Messages

    To turn off security messages you have to go to Control Panel -> System and Security -> Action Center -> Change Action Center Settings and you can turn off the following notifications: Windows Update, Internet Security Settings, Network Firewall, Spyware and related protection, User Account Control, Virus Protection, Windows Backup, Windows Troubleshooting, Check for updates.

  33. Cycle Through The Open Programs Via The Taskbar’s Peek Menu

    This works just like Alt + Tab, but opens the menu just above the sidebar, doesn’t seem very useful. Give it a try by pressing The Windows Key + T.

  34. Run A Program As An Administrator

    You can easily run a program as an administrator by pressing Ctrl + Shift while opening it.

  35. Same Program Windows Switching

    If you have more instances of a program running, simply hold Ctrl while clicking on its icon and it will cycle through all the instances.

  36. Auto Arrange Desktop Icons

    You can now forget about the Right Click -> Auto arrange. All you have to do is hold F5 pressed for a bit and the icons will auto arrange.

  37. Encrypt Removable USB Drives

    Encrypting an USB drive has never been easier. Now you can right click on the removable drive and then on the “Turn on Bitlocker”.

  38. Turn Off Smart Window Arrangement

    If you don’t like Windows 7’s new features that arrange your windows intelligently, there’s an easy way to turn it off. Press the Windows Key, type “regedit”, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop and set WindowArrangementActive to 0. After you reboot your system the smart arrangements will be turned off.

  39. Create A System Repair Disc

    Windows 7 features a tool that lets you create a bootable System Repair Disc that includes some system tools and the command prompt. To create it, press the Windows Key and type “system repair disc”.

  40. Hard-Link Migration Store

    The Hard-Link Migration store is only available for new computers and can migrate files, settings, and user accounts. The new Hard-Link Migration Store uses more less disk spaces and takes less time.

  41. Turn Off ‘Send Feedback’

    The current Beta version of Windows 7 is all about feedback from its testers, but if you feel disturbed by it, there is a way to turn it off. Press the Windows Key and type ‘regedit’, then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop and set FeedbackToolEnabled to 0. After you restart the computer, it shouldn’t be there anymore. Also, if you want to turn it on again, set the FeedbackToolEnabled to 3.

  42. Improved Calculator

    Windows 7 features an improved calculator that can do unit conversion, date calculation, gas mileage, lease, and mortgage. Also you can choose between Standard, Scientific, Programmer, and Statistic calculator.

  43. Open A Folder In A New Process

    Windows 7 opens all folders in the same process in order to save resources, but this means if one folder crashes, they all crash. So if you feel like that’s a risk you don’t have to take, then you have to open them all in their own processes. To do this, hold down Shift, right-click the drive and “Open in New Process”. Now you will be safe.

  44. Problem Step Recorder

    The Problem Step Recorder is a great tool that can be used in more circumstances. You can turn it on by pressing the Windows Key, then typing “PSR.exe” and click Record. Now it will record all your moves and save them as a HTML document that you can view or write descriptions to it. This can help you with troubleshooting or when writing a guidance or tutorial.

  45. Free Codecs Pack

    Unfortunately, Windows Media Player still isn’t able to play many audio and video files, so you will still need some codecs. But with the free codecs pack you can download here you shouldn’t have any problems.

  46. Start Windows Explorer From My Computer

    Windows Explorer opens in the Libraries directory by default. Most of us are used to see the My Computer page instead. To change it to My Computer, press the Windows Key, then type “explorer”, select Properties and in the Shortcut tab type “%SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}”. Now you have to right-click the Explorer icon in the Taskbar and hit “Unpin this program from the taskbar” and then drag it back from the Start Menu.

  47. Clear The Desktop

    If there are too many windows on the desktop, you can clear it by shaking a window from left to right and all others will minimize. To restore the other windows you have to shake the active one again.

  48. Use Gadgets With UAC Turned Off

    Maybe you noticed that once you turn off UAC you can’t use the gadgets anymore, as a security measure. But if you want to risk using them, there a simple way to do it, even with UAC turned off. Press the Windows Key, type ‘regedit’, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Sidebar\Settings and create a DWORD value named AllowElevatedProcess and set its value to 1. Now you should be able to use your gadgets. If not, then reboot your PC and you should be done.

  49. Fix The Media Player & Media Center MP3 Bug

    Both Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center come with a bug that can damage your MP3s by filling missing metadata automatically on imported MP3 files. This can cut a few seconds from the beginning of the tracks and can prove really disturbing. This problem was fixed by Microsoft using the fix located here.

  50. Search Everything In Your Computer

    Windows 7 offers the possibility to search all file types, including unknown ones and this could help you in some cases. Though it is not recommended, because it’s much slower than normal search, you can give it a try by doing the following: Launch Windows Explorer, go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View and check “Try to search the content of unknown file types”. If you don’t need it anymore, don’t forget to clear it for an increase in speed.

  51. Mouse Gestures

    Windows 7 has not only brought gestures for those who use touchscreen devices, but for mouse users too. So, instead of right-clicking a Taskbar icon to access the jump list, you can hold left-click and drag upwards to smoothly call it up. In addition, clicking and dragging down the address bar in Internet Explorer will open the browsing history. There might be more gestures yet not discovered.

  52. Configure Your Music Favorites

    If you’ve already fixed the Windows Media Center, now you might think of ways to improve your experience with it. The Media Center creates a list of favorite songs based on how often you play them, your ratings and date you’ve added them. If you aren’t comfortable with the way they thought it out, change the way it sorts your favorites by going to Tasks -> Settings -> Music -> Favorite Music.

  53. Turn Off Recent Search Queries Display

    Windows 7 holds and displays the recent search queries by default. This can often prove to be irritating. No need to stress though because it can be disabled. Press the Windows Key, type gpedit.msc, then go to User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Explorer and double click on “Turn off display of recent search entries”.

  54. Advanced Disk Defragmentation

    Fortunately, Windows 7 offers much better defragmentation than Vista and also lets you configure it a bit from the command line. To do it, press the Windows Key and then type CMD. You can defragment your hard disk from the command line by typing “defrag” and you have the following options: /r will defrag multiple drives simultaneously, -a performs a defrag analysis, -v prints the report, -r treats files with at least 64 Mb of fragments like are not fragmented, -w will defrag everything. An example is “defrag C: -v -w” to defrag the whole drive C.

  55. Make Internet Explorer 8 Load Faster

    If you want Internet Explorer 8 to load faster, you need to disable the add-ons that slow it down, so go to Tools -> Manage Add-ons and check the load time for each one. You can choose for yourself the ones you can live without and ones that would increase the load speed.

  56. Media Center Automatic Download

    Windows Media Center 12 allows you to schedule data downloads, so it can be done without disturbing you. To do it, go to Tasks -> Settings -> General -> Automatic Download Options and you can configure it to start and stop the download whenever you want.

  57. Remove The Sidebar

    Windows 7 doesn’t seem to feature the sidebar anymore, but it still exists and runs in the background, being launched automatically at startup. So if you want to get rid of it, there are two ways. The easier one is to press the Windows Key, type MSCONFIG.EXE, click the Startup tab and clear the Sidebar box. The hard way is to press the Windows key, type “regedit”, find and delete the registry key at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run. This can save you some RAM consumed with no use.

  58. Volume Tweaking

    Don’t you like that Windows 7 automatically reduces the volume when it detects PC calls? You can turn off this feature by right-clicking the speaker icon in the taskbar, go to Sounds -> Communications and get rid of it.

  59. Run A Program As Another User

    Windows 7 comes with the possibility to run a program both as an administrator or another user, by right clicking on the executable or shortcut while holding down the Shift key. Then you have to select “Run as another user”.

  60. Use Virtual Hard Disk Files

    You can now create and manage virtual hard disks files in Windows 7 as if they were real disks. This can allow you to use a live Windows installation on the virtual disk without the need to boot the virtual Computer. To create a virtual disk you have to press the Windows Key, right-click on Computer, then go to Manage -> Disk Management -> Action -> Create VHD. There you can specify the location and size of your virtual hard disk file.

    To attach the virtual disk file, press the Windows Key, right-click Computer, then go to Manage -> Disk Management -> Action -> Attach VHD and you have to specify the location and if it’s read only or not.

    To initialize a virtual hard disk, press the Windows Key, right-click on Computer, go to Manage -> Disk Management -> Action -> Attach VHD, specify the location, click Ok, then right click on the virtual disk and click on Initialize Disk. Select the partition style you want to use and then right-click on the unallocated space and click “New Simple Volume” and follow the instructions wizard. Now, a new hard drive appears in Windows Explorer and you can use it as a real partition.

  61. Remove The Windows Live Messenger Tab In The Taskbar

    To get rid of the Windows Live Messenger Tab and put it back in the system tray, where it belongs, go to C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Messenger, right-click msnmsdgr.exe and set its compatibility mode to Windows Vista.

  62. Lock The Screen

    There is no Lock Screen button in the Start Menu anymore, so you have to press the Windows Key + L to lock it, now. It seems easier, in case you don’t forget the shortkey.

  63. Create A Screen Lock Shortcut

    In case you don’t like shortkeys or you keep forgetting them, there’s another option for screen lock. Simply create a new shortcut to C:\Windows\System32\rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation and place it whenever you want.

  64. Enable Run Command In Start Menu

    If you miss the old Run Command button in XP, then there’s an option to get it back in Windows 7. Right-click an open area in Start Menu, go to Properties -> Start Menu -> Customize and check “Run Command. Now you should be done.

  65. Improve Desktop Window Manager For Nvidia Graphics

    Sometimes the animations for Desktop Window Manager don’t look very well and aren’t smooth enough and this is cause because Desktop Window Manager renders effects with no transparency and blurring, but you can turn off animations for more pleasant graphics. Press the Windows Key, right-click on Computer, go to Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> Performance -> Settings and clear “Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing”. Click OK to finnish.

  66. Change Default Save Location For Files

    Windows 7 is a bit different from Vista, because it saves Documents, Pictures, Videos and Music under the Public folder inside C:\Users. You might not want to save your documents, pictures, videos or music to this location, but create your own locations and you can do it quite easy. Press the Windows Key, Click your username and double-click on the folder you wish to change. Then you will see Includes: 2 library locations. Click on that text, right-click on the folder you wish to set like default and click “Set as default file location”, then click Ok.

  67. Make 64bit Windows Media Player Default ( only for X64 users )

    Windows comes with the 32bit version of Media Player by default. If you are a x64 user, you can keep the system cleaner by only installing one set of codecs. To do this, press the Windows Key, type “command”, right-click on Command Prompt and hit “Run as administrator”, then type “unregmp2.exe /SwapTo:64″. After that, press the Windows Key, type “regedit”, go to HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\wmplayer.exe\, double click on value and change “%ProgramFiles(x86)” to “%ProgramFiles%”. Now you should be using the 64bit Windows Media Player.

  68. Open Multiple Instances Of Windows Explorer Via The Taskbar

    If you want to run more instances of the Windows Explorer just by hitting the startbar, you can do it by following these steps: Unpin Windows Explorer from the Taskbar, then press the Windows Key, go to Accessories, right-click Windows Explorer, go to Properties and change the shortcut path to %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D} ( if you want it to default to My Computer ) or %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,::{031E4825-7B94-4dc3-B131-E946B44C8DD5} ( if you want it to default to Libraries ). Now repin Windows Explorer to your Taskbar and you’re done. All that is required for opening more instances of it is just a click of the middle mouse button. If you aren’t pleased with what you’ve done, change the shortcut path back to %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe.

  69. Make The System Tray Clock Show The AM / PM Symbols

    By default Windows 7 does show the time in 24 hour format, so if you want to get the AM / PM symbols, press the Windows Key, type intl.cpl to open Regional and Language Options, go to Addition Settings -> Time where Long Time is set to HH:mm and change it to HH:mm tt, for example, where tt is the AM or PM symbol ( 21:12 PM ). To change it to the 12 hour format, you need to type it like this hh::mm tt ( 9:12 PM ).

  70. Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility Mode

    If your websites don’t render correctly, you might need to enable Internet Explorer 8 display them in compatibility view. This issue is because of the updated rendering engine, which causes a lot of trouble. To do it, open Internet Explorer, go to Tools -> Compatibility View Settings and check “Display all websites in compatibility view”, then click Ok.


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Panda Security has released the free Panda Internet Security 2009 that provides complete internet security solution with protection against cyber-threats like viruses, malware, hackers, spyware, rootkits, online fraud, identify thefts and more. As a part of joint effort for Microsoft’s IT security campaign Protect Your PC, Redmond company has collaborated with Panda Security to offer 3 months of free service for users against malicious threats.
Panda makes Internet surfing risk free by minimizing the possibilities of damage due to the security threats. Panda features IM protection, a personal, spam filter, data backups, heuristic-based pro-active protection, a multi-purpose engine and various identift theft protect tools. Although the free Panda Internet Security is available for three months, it will allow the users an opportunity to try the security solution without any additional cost and protect their system from lethal viruses and malicious programs.

The users can download and install the Panda suite easily. Instructions are provided in order to activate all the services and features in the latest Panda Internet Security 2009. Take a look at the key features offered by Panda Internet Security 2009

  • Anti-Malware Engine
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  • Parental Control
  • Backup & Restore
  • Personal Information Filter
  • Web Filter
  • Advanced Proactive Protection

Download free Panda Internet Security 2009.

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Google Chrome has gotten another speed bump with the latest upgrade. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably would have been using the updates through the beta/dev channel already, but now the stable channel has gotten these updates as well. Here are the upgrades from the Google Chrome blog:

Improved New Tab Page: The most requested feature from users was the ability to remove thumbnails from the New Tab page. Now you can finally hide that embarrassing gossip blog from the Most Visited section.
Full Screen Mode: If you’ve ever given a presentation or watched a large video using Google Chrome, you might have wished you could use every last pixel on your screen for the content. Now you can hide the title bar and the rest of the browser window by hitting F11 or selecting the option in the Tools menu.
Form Autofill: Filling out your information in forms over and over again can be tedious. Form autofill helps by showing information you’ve previously entered into the same form fields automatically. If at any point you want to clear out your information, that’s easy to do from the Tools menu.

Increased Stability: Google Chrome is more stable than ever–we have fixed over 300 bugs that caused crashes since launch.
Increased Speed: Making the web faster continues to be our main area of focus. Thanks to a new version of WebKit and an update to our JavaScript engine, V8, interactive web pages will run even faster. We’ve also made sure that JavaScript keeps running fast even when you have lots of tabs open. Try opening a bunch of web applications and then running your favorite benchmark. You can read more about V8 in our JavaScript scalability post on the Chromium blog.

No word on extensions in Chrome 2 so far, but you can get them using some tricks. Chrome 2 is definitely faster, specially with Google services. At the same time, Internet Explorer seems faster for Microsoft’s online services. So, there you go, I summed it up for you. Chrome 2 is a must have upgrade though, just for its super speed.

(This update still hasn’t fixed the bugs on Windows 7 64 bit for me with different user accounts. Anyone else facing them?)

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NOTE: This is some advanced stuff and you may lose a finger. No warranty express or implied. There's always workarounds somewhere on the 'tubes, but this stuff works only in Win7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. Be afraid.

I use a lot of Virtual Machines. I've used VMWare, VirtualBox, HyperV and Virtual PC. Recently, since all my machines have been updated to Windows 7 RC, I've downloaded Windows Virtual PC so I could use "Virtual XP." I've got a lot of VHD (Virtual Hard Drive Files) around now.

You can see here where I've got a VM called "Dev10onVista" because I can use not just Windows XP, but also Vista. However, it's still a VM and it's slower than I'd like.

Dan has a great post on the pros and cons of Virtualization vs. Dual Booting. He points out:

  • Multiboot:
    • Good performance (runs natively on the machine, no extra abstraction layers)
    • Good hardware integration (everything that is built into or attached to the machine is visible to the running OS)
    • Clunky setup (different boot loaders overwriting each other, partitions cannot easily be resized or moved around)
  • Virtualisation
    • Very flexible (only takes up as much hard disk space as the solution requires)
    • Can run virtually any Operating System
    • Non-Optimal performance (running piggyback off another Operating System, consuming resource in both)
    • Marginal hardware integration (all major system components are virtual only; depending on the virtualisation solution, SOME components might be surfaced inside the virtual machine)

This is right on. I'm always afraid to multi-boot, concerned that one OS will some how make one of the others angry, as they are all sharing disks.

Virtual Machines

I'm just not willing to install VS2010 Beta 1 on bare hardware just now, as I know I'll want to put the Next Beta on a clean machine. I *could* sacrifice an extra machine, but I'd rather use the main machine I always use. I want less virtual, more machine.

Mounting/Attaching VHDs like Hard Drives

With Windows 7 I can mount VHD and use them like regular hard drives. Just type in "Disk Management" from your start menu. From the Action menu I can select "Create VHD" or "Attach VHD." Below I'd just attached a 7 GIG VHD file that thinks it's a 40 gig hard drive. Notice that the disk icon is blue. This is a really convenient way to just "pass a hard drive around as a file" as well as a nice way to get files on and off VMs that aren't running.

Disk Management (3)

The best part is that I can make one of these during Windows 7 setup (NOTE: This is advanced and may hurt you, your computer, or your cat.) and install Win7 directly to it.

Install Windows 7 to a new, fresh VHD

Assuming you already have a Windows 7 installation, you can boot off the Windows 7 DVD, and when it gets to "Install Now" click "Repair Your Computer." Don't select an installation, then select Command Prompt. (You can also press Shift-F10) to open a command prompt.

From the Command Prompt, run "diskpart."

Make a new VHD on an internal fixed disk:

create vdisk file="C:\win7\win7.vhd" type=expandable maximum=50000

This will make an expandable VHD with a 50Gig max, for example. Now select it and attach/mount it:

select vdisk file="c:\win7\win7.vhd"
attach vdisk

Type "exit" and go back to the setup window and install Win7. Make sure you select the correct disk - the new virtual one!

Setting up your Windows Boot Menu to boot to an Existing VHD

If you have an existing Win 7 VHD already, or perhaps you've taking your Windows 7 installation Disc and "syspreped" a VHD image. Now, from an Administrator Command Prompt, you need to tell the Windows Boot Manager that there's another option. You go:

C:\>bcdedit /copy {current} /d "My New VHD Option"

This will return a GUID. Select it using the Mark command by right-clicking in the Command Prompt and copy it to the clipboard.

Now, using that {guid}, type these commands:

C:\>bcdedit /set {guid} device vhd=[driveletter:]\<directory>\<vhd filename>
C:\>bcdedit /set {guid} osdevice vhd=[driverletter:]\<directory>\<vhd filename>
C:\>bcdedit /set {guid} detecthal on

See the [driveletter:] stuff in brackets? It's NOT obvious, but you need to include those, so:

bcdedit /set {guid} device vhd=[C:]\win7\win7.vhd

You can confirm it's setup with bcdedit /v:. You'll see something like this. The interesting part is at the bottom.

Windows Boot Manager
identifier {9dea862c-5cdd-4e70-acc1-f32b344d4795}
device partition=C:
description Windows Boot Manager
locale en-US
inherit {7ea2e1ac-2e61-4728-aaa3-896d9d0a9f0e}
default {34433bb7-628f-11dc-a941-001a6bcd5d3a}
resumeobject {34433bb8-628f-11dc-a941-001a6bcd5d3a}
displayorder {34433bb7-628f-11dc-a941-001a6bcd5d3a}
toolsdisplayorder {b2721d73-1db4-4c62-bf78-c548a880142d}
timeout 30
custom:45000001 1

Windows Boot Loader
identifier {34433bb7-628f-11dc-a941-001a6bcd5d3a}
device partition=C:
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Windows 7
locale en-US
inherit {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
recoverysequence {280ffa1b-f8a9-11dd-b0a9-001c26fdc6b4}
recoveryenabled Yes
testsigning Yes
osdevice partition=C:
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {34433bb8-628f-11dc-a941-001a6bcd5d3a}
nx OptIn
custom:42000002 \system32\winload.exe
custom:45000001 2
custom:47000005 301989892

Windows Boot Loader
identifier {280ffa1e-f8a9-11dd-b0a9-001c26fdc6b4}
device vhd=[C:]\VMs\Win7\Win7.vhd,locate=custom:12000002
path \Windows\system32\winload.exe
description Win 7 VHD - Dev10
locale en-US
inherit {6efb52bf-1766-41db-a6b3-0ee5eff72bd7}
recoverysequence {280ffa1b-f8a9-11dd-b0a9-001c26fdc6b4}
recoveryenabled Yes
testsigning Yes
osdevice vhd=[C:]\VMs\Win7\Win7.vhd,locate=custom:22000002
systemroot \Windows
resumeobject {34433bb8-628f-11dc-a941-001a6bcd5d3a}
nx OptIn
detecthal Yes
custom:42000002 \system32\winload.exe
custom:45000001 2
custom:47000005 301989892

If it doesn't work, you can always run bcdedit /delete {guid} /cleanup and try again.

Here's what my Boot Manager (pressing F8 when I start up my machine) looks like now:

My Win 7 Boot Manager

Now, I can boot up with my VHD mounted. Am I running a Virtual machine? No. I'm running Windows, on the hardware, with only the DISK Virtualized. I don't work for that team, but I'm guessing I'm losing 3-5% (that number came out of my butt) on the disk side - and nothing anywhere else. How do I know? Well, Windows Experience is smart enough to keep me from checking (although I could use another disk tester tool, but I'll leave that as an exercise to the Reader.).

Performance Information and Tools

I notice that Disk Management still gives me access to my was-C: drive, even though the VHD is now my C. My hardware C: drive got moved down, and it's E: now. Nice than I can still see it!

Disk Management (2)

What does the Device Manager say? It says the Msft Virtual Disk SCSI Disk Drive is there! That's the only "virtual" thing going on here. Notice I've still got my actual Video Drivers (running multiple monitors across multiple display drivers). All my stuff is there, because I've got, forgive me, less virtual and more machine.

Computer Management

Hey, are those my four processors and my 8 gigs or RAM? Ah, yes, they are.

Windows Task Manager

Love it. I'm going to use the hell out of it.

A few caveats. One, I haven't figured out how boot off a VHD that is on USB or External Drive. I'm looking into it. It may be because there's no drive letter assigned yet, or that I'm an idiot. We'll see. Second, doing this makes your VHD less portable, because if you move it inside Virtual PC or to another machine, all the devices will freak out and try to reinstall (or maybe just not work) so be aware of that.

That said, I'm running Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 without fear on my awesome hardware with hardware-speeds. Shiny.

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