Saturday, January 29, 2011

Windows 7 - Turn Off UAC Nags on Icons

Howto: Stopping UAC Nags while editing desktop and start-menu icons. This is an excerpt from a more involved article. These instructions are for Windows 7 and were updated on 2011.01.29.

Contents:

  • Changing UAC Nags just for Start Menu Icons (recommended)
  • Changing System-wide UAC Nags

Fixing Start Menu and Desktop Icon Nags:

I am always fiddling with Start Menu and Desktop icons but I get tired of all the security prompts. Although Windows 7 vastly improved UAC security nags, Windows 7 still bugs people too much when editing desktop and Start Menu icons. Follow these steps to disable UAC nags in this area while leaving the rest of UAC in-place (UAC is meant to help keep viruses from installing and if your computer is used by non-technical people, it should be left on.)


With a minor security change, you can disable UAC nags while editing Start Menus
-- while leaving the rest of UAC intact.



Follow these steps:

1. Expose Windows Explorer's File Menu

a.  Open Windows Explorer

b.  Select menu Organize, Layout, Check "Menu Bar"


2. Show hidden Files and Folders:
a.  In Explorer, select top-menu, Tools, Folder-options, View (View Tab)
b.  In the Advanced-settings checkbox list,

* Show Hidden files and folders
[ ] (uncheck) Hide Extensions for known file type
[ ] (uncheck) Hide Protected Operating System File

c. Click Apply
d. Click Apply to Folders

3. Close and re-open Windows Explorer
Tunnel to each of these two folders:

C:\Users\Public\Public Desktop
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\StartMenu


4. "Other-Mouse-Click" each folder, choose Properties.

a.  Click the [Security] Tab
b.  Click button "Edit"
c.  Select your user-account from the list (or choose "Everyone")
d.  Click "Full-Control"
e.  Click OK, OK

f.  Do the same for the other folder.

Click image for a larger view; click right-x to return

This allows you to edit any Start Menu icon without the UAC prompt.


System-wide UAC Nags:

Overall System User Access Control (UAC) nags can be controlled here. Use this method if you want to turn off all UAC nags. I want to caution against this. The Nags are meant to stop fly-by virus installs. However when installing a new computer (and all of its associated software), this is handy:

1. Start, Control Panel, "System"

2. Click "Action Center" (lower-left)

3. Click "Change User Account Control Settings" (left)

4. Move the slider-bar to a lower setting to progressively disable UAC nags.
The default setting on a zero-3(max) is the second position (third from bottom).

Keyliner recommends leaving this at Microsoft's default. If you make the recommended start-menu changes from the top of the article, UAC becomes very tolerable. Remember, UAC protects you from viruses doing a drive-by install.


Related articles:
Windows 7 Explorer Changes (Recommended)
Windows 7 Streamline Start menus
Cleaning Startup Programs (Startup Decks)
Vista UAC - Stop the Nags

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ATI Video Card Blacks-Out

ATI Radeon Video installed on Windows 7 64 "flashes" and blacks-out repeated after waking from a hardware deep-sleep. Unfortunately, I do not have a resolution to this problem. This article discusses my trouble-shooting steps, including how to cleanly-install ATI Drivers.


Symptoms:
I recently decided to upgrade my Video card to an ATI Radeon HD 4650. The upgrade went smoothly, but a few days later, I noticed the primary monitor, on a dual-video setup, blanked-out (blacked out, flashed, blinked) after waking from a hard sleep.
  • Primary Screen Flashes / Blinks / blacks-out after waking
  • Only the Primary monitor is affected
  • A standard Sleep (Start, Shutdown, Sleep) does not have this problem
  • Installing/Re-installing video drivers is useless
  • ATI's Website offers no help
  • Replacing the video-card does not resolve the problem
  • Likely a driver issue
  • Cold-booting the computer temporarily fixes the problem

At first, I thought this was a hardware problem and replaced the card. The second card behaved the same, indicating a software problem. Because this computer worked properly a few days earlier, with no other changes, this points to an ATI driver problem.

Knowing how sneaky drivers can be, it pays to make sure the old drivers are de-installed and re-installed properly; seldom is this as easy as an add-remove-programs. This video card was no different.

Clean Install of ATI Video Drivers

The computer was upgraded from an older NVidia PCIe card to an ATI. I followed these steps to ensure the Nvidia and original ATI drivers were completely de-installed. These steps were tested on Windows 7 64-bit:

1. Download, but do not install, the latest ATI Video drivers.

As of 2011.01.24, ATI has a Preview version 10.12 (where "we are letting our customers try out the brand-new Catalyst Control Center..."). Ignore this and chose the next section, "Catalyst Software Suite (64-bit) English Only; version 10.10 12/13/2010. You do not have the time to beta-test their software. Besides, why install the Catalyst Control Center? Most of us could care-less; we just need the drivers.

Be sure to save the installation file to a known location.
For example, C:\Data\Downloads\hardware\ATI.

2. Download and install a third-party program from Guru3d: "Driver Sweeper"

Link: http://downloads.guru3d.com/Guru3D---Driver-Sweeper-%28Setup%29_d1655.html

Save this file to a known location.
Install DriverSweeper, but do not run the program yet.

3. In the Windows Control Panel, "Programs and Features", click "ATI Catalyst Install Manager".

Click Change
Choose "Custom"
Select *all* components

For example, my system showed (you may have others):
[x] ATI Display Driver
[x] WMV9/VC-1 Video Playback (yes, I experimented with version 1.00)

Allow all components to de-install. Do not restart.

4. In Windows Control Panel, open "Device Manager"
Tunnel to Display Adapters
"Other-mouse-click" the ATI adapter and select Uninstall.

5. Once uninstalled, shut down the computer normally (cold-power-off).

6. Power on the computer and enter Windows Safe Mode

To enter Safe Mode, keep tapping the F8 key after the hardware BIOS screen displays. Tap the key repeatedly, but not frantically, until the "Safe Mode" menu displays. If you miss this and the computer boots normally, gracefully shut down and try again.

When the computer boots into Safe Mode, your monitor may complain the video is not correctly set. Ignore it.

7. From the Start Menu, select Programs, "Phyxion.net" (driverSweep).

8. On the displayed driversweep options, choose all ATI components. In my case, I also chose the older NVidia components that remained.

Click "Clean"
Reboot when prompted and reboot normally.
When the machine boots back into Windows, expect awful video resolution.

9. Using Windows Explorer, create a directory to house the soon-to-be-installed video drivers.

I like to make my directory here and you must make this directory by hand before running the next step:
C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\ATI

10. Locate and run the ATI video installation file from Step 1.

When prompted, browse to the destination folder created in step 9
C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\ATI

Backspace the ATI-folder name (that looks something like this: \10-12_Vista64_Win7_dd_cc_enu) -- leaving only "C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\ATI" in the path (or accept the offered path; I like to keep these things cleaned-up).

11. Click Next, Install, then Custom

12. The next step installs the utilities used by the card. Optionally accept the default installation directory, but I like to change it to a utility directory:
"C:\Program Files\Util\ATI"

13. On the Component Selection Screen, choose the options you think you will need.

I recommend choosing the bare-minimum drivers and you will only get this with a 'Custom' install. My Component Selections appear like this, where [ ] is unchecked:

[ ] Catalyst Control Center
[X] ATI Catalyst Install Manager
[ ] Lord of the Rings
[X] ATI Display Driver
[ ] Communication Opt-in
[ ] AMD Drag and Drop Transcoding
[ ] WMV9/VC-1 Video Playback

Things like the Catalyst Control Center appear to be superfluous - most of the settings I care about are in the Windows Control Panel, but admittedly, if you need to color-balance or are a hard-core gamer, you should install the Control Center. I would guess 95% of us will never care. Your opinions on this are welcome.

14. Allow the workstation to reboot when prompted.

Once booted, open Control Panel, Display, "Change Display Settings" and confirm your monitor configuration and resolutions.


Additional Notes about the Screen-Flashing Problem

There is much discussion on the web about the video flashing and there were no obvious solutions. In my testing, no amount of driver-fiddling fixed the problem. Judging from the search results, many people are having this same problem. Sadly, ATI's site does not address the issue -- indeed, their site does not have a place to house vendor-approved instructions; they seem to rely on user-forums.

The Forums had all kinds of solutions, ranging from registry hacks to thoughts about cooling fans running too slow, to installing without GL support, to moving motherboard memory chips to different slots, to upgrading motherboard firmware, to disabling virtual cpu's, to applying a half-dozen Microsoft hot-fixes .... well, you get the idea -- none solved the problem and ATI is mums about it.

In the end, I gave up and returned the card.

Best Buy:

My compliments to Best Buy for accepting the original video card and exchanging it for a second card, with no questions asked. Then, a week later I returned the second card and explained everything. To my pleasant surprise, they had no problem and allowed me to exchange the card a second time. I chose an NVidia brand and that is what I am running now.

Normally, when I post articles like this, I have solutions --but in this case, I could not resolve the problem. Your comments are welcome and may help other readers.

Hardware Discussed:
ATI Radeon HD 4650; 1GB, 2 DVI ports, apx $70
Galaxy GeForce 210; 1 GB, 1 DVI, 1 VGA, apx $65

Thursday, January 6, 2011

WordPerfect X5 now X8 - Quick Review

WordPerfect X5 now version X8 - the venerable Word Processor. Brief comments about this product.

I'll keep comments short, because most of you are snickering - WordPerfect -- are you nuts? I suppose. But I do know this: In another window, I am editing a 1,800 page document with 900+ illustrations and not once have I lost a graphic or have been concerned with changed tab-settings or weirdo-bullet-lists that have gone astray.  Word would puke on this.

2016 Update:  WordPerfect is now at Version 18 (x8).  Same menus, same features as their first Windows version.  If you learned on any older version, you will feel perfectly at home.  Sure, there is new stuff, but it is the same tried-and-true word processor that we all love.  And the price is right.  Buy the Student version for something like $45.

Things like tabs, margin-releases, indented paragraphs and graphics with word-wrapping, all work nearly effortlessly in WordPerfect. If you are fiddling with the ruler-bar each time you need an indented list or header, then you are working too hard and I'd bet you are using Microsoft's Word.

I'm sure in Word you can remember having to backspace an entire sentence just so you can delete a bold or underline that wouldn't go away. In WordPerfect, this doesn't happen. WP resolves these issues by exposing everything about the document -- as you type, using a feature called Reveal Codes.

(Click image for larger view; click right-x to return)

In the image above, note the Revealed Codes in the bottom of the illustration.

You can see the paragraph-block protect codes, the bolds, underlines and margin-releases. Anything you can do to a word, sentence, or even an individual character, is exposed in this window. These codes are editable, deletable and selectable and you can do this without switching modes. Most of the time, you don't even use the mouse - you can do the work from the keyboard.

Most importantly, these codes are unobtrusively resting at the bottom of the screen, occupying about 5% of the editing space. Compare this to Microsoft Word, which can show tabs and carriage-returns and a few other measly codes -- but that is all.  When word does show these codes, it clutters your editing space.

Here is how it looks in Word.  This is so sad:

I could go on about other features but it is enough to say WordPerfect understands word processing; this program is not an after-thought and it lives and breaths document processing. You will find this an easy-to-use, fluid program. And it is inexpensive.

WordPerfect X5 (version 15) Home and Student Edition:

I recently upgraded from WPX3 to X15 (skipping version 14), for no other reason than I wanted to see the latest edition.   Update:  I am now on version 17 and am pondering 18, again, for no other reason that to keep it current.


You get the following in the Home/Student edition:
  • WordPerfect
  • Presentation - similar to Powerpoint
  • Quattro - Spreadsheet, similar to Excel
  • Lightening - a Note-taker program
  • A DVD of Clipart, Fonts, etc.
  • Complete DVD training videos


The other programs, particularly Presentation, are probably swell, but I have no need. If you do not already own an office suite, then this is an added bonus. The suite has a lot of features and the price is right.



WordPerfect is not Word

WordPerfect operates differently than Word.  Here are the most important points to understand:
  • Take 5 minutes and learn how Reveal Codes work. This is not the only reason to use the program, but it definitely rates top-on-the-list.

  • When you make a font-change, tab, margin, etc, the change happens where the cursor is, and flows through the bottom of the document (or until stopped by another related setting).
     
    There is no need to highlight a 17 page document to change the font.
    Just move to the top of the document and change the font. Same with line spacing, default tab settings, etc.

    If you change a setting in the middle of the document (say a page-footer), that change takes effect from that page, onward; in other words, it is easy to change headers and footers and previous pages are unaffected. This is noticeably different than how Word works and you will find this is surprisingly handy.

  • If you choose to highlight a sentence, paragraph, page, and make a change, the change only happens for the highlighted text; everything else remains as it was -- this includes margin changes!  Make the change in the highlighted area, and all settings just after the highlight remain as they were.  Word never figured this out. 

  • If you highlight a block of text and change a font, margin or other settings, conflicting codes within the highlight are removed and replaced with the new values. This is exactly what you want to happen.

  • When you first load the program, make this one settings change: Tools, Settings, Display: Set mouse to be active in Text (I wish Corel would default this setting; trust me on this; it makes the program behave much more naturally)
     
  • If you insert graphics, there are probably 50 different options that don't exist in Word.

    For basic graphics, it works as you would expect. Unlike older versions of Word, you can move the graphics anywhere on the page; you are not restricted to Left, Right, Middle.

    Beyond that, how graphics are easily anchored to characters, paragraphs or pages, with complete control over wordwrapping, captions, borders, etc.  Vastly easier to manipulate than Word, and vastly more options.  
     
  • Numbered lists work properly.  No surprises.  And all is visible in Reveal Codes.

  • If you like indented and hanging paragraphs - everyone does - press F7 to indent.  It just works.

    Unlike Word, you can indent more than one tab-stop - making deeply-indented paragraphs. Once indented, word wrap will be just the way you like; no need to fiddle with the ruler-bar or margins.

    With a similar keystroke (Shift-Tab), you can have a hanging paragraph on the left-side of the margin -- all without using the mouse or ruler.

Changes from WPX3 to X15:

The look and feel is identical to the older versions; if you were expecting drastic changes, you won't find them. The menu structure and most of the options have barely changed in the last several versions - this means no re-learning.

However, I noticed it loads my larger documents with externally-linked graphics, faster than before. For example, a 100-page document with 40 illustrations, used to take about 10 seconds to load and roll to the bottom. This now happens in half that time. The first several pages load in micro-seconds. (Since this article, I upgraded to an SSD drive and now load times are instant.  Progress, indeed.)

As you would expect, it can read and edit Microsoft Office Documents, Open office and something like 40 other programs. It has full PDF features (writing to PDF is built in).

You can legally load it on your desktop and laptop at no additional charge (see license). I suppose it has other whiz-bang features and you can read about them on their site.


Final Thoughts:

If your new PC came with an expired trial version of Microsoft Office, consider paying $45 (Amazon) and buy the WordPerfect Office Suite.  I recommend using the Home/Student edition; you likely don't need the Standard, Professional or Legal versions.

Demo versions can be downloaded from www.Corel.com.

You will get a capable spreadsheet (not quite Excel, but not bad), and a fabulous word processor, along with other software and training materials.

Write one term paper or one long document with footnotes, graphics and font changes, and you will be hooked. Things like printing envelopes and mail-merges work easily and intuitively. I expect you will like this program.

Related Articles:
WordPerfect - Hanging Indents / Paragraph Headers
WordPerfect - Block Protect Text Across Page Breaks
WordPerfect - Using WP for School Papers - Page Numbering