Tuesday, December 11, 2012

font Musings

Font and Typography Musings

Normally, I like to write my own content, but some subjects are clearly better served by other experts.  Take the case of font and typography.  One would think the battle was won by Ariel (Helvetica) and Times New Roman.  These people think otherwise and they will show how fonts can speak. 



Main Site:
An enjoyable site with history, reasons, design and commentary.
http://www.smashingmagazine.com



Selected Articles that occupied my time:

What Font should I use, by Dan Mayer
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/12/14/what-font-should-i-use-five-principles-for-choosing-and-using-typefaces/

Typographic Etiquitte
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/08/15/mind-your-en-and-em-dashes-typographic-etiquette/


Throughout the site, they have a variety of free fonts, such as:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/08/02/new-high-quality-free-fonts/

Geeky Font Stuff:
http://ilovetypography.com/2009/01/14/inconspicuous-vertical-metrics/



For Fun:
Each of these san-serif fonts were printed at the same size, default kerning and tracking (variable leading).  Fonts pulled from a Windows 8 computer.  Can you spot differences?


Can you see the Differences?  Click for larger view

Anatomy of a Font / Character - Click for Larger View


I like serif fonts and two spaces after my periods.  However, to my dismay, this blogging tool enforces its own preferences.

Other Resources: Open Source / Free Fonts
keyliner: Google Fonts

Vaguely related articles:
keyliner: Word Perfect - Review - A word processor that won't frustrate you
keyliner: Word Perfect - Setting up School Papers
keyliner: WP Hanging Intents, Paragraph Headers

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Everything you want to know about Windows 8 Tiles

This article discusses how to build and organize Windows 8.0 and 8.1 tiles.  Most users can blissfully create tiles without giving a thought about where and how they are stored, however, this article covers the topic in depth.

Contents:
  • Tile Locations and Descriptions
  • Building a Program Tile
  • Finding a Tile's Location
  • Building a Tile with Passed Parameters
    Building Data-file Tiles (Data Tiles)
  • Building Start Page Groups, Naming Groups, Moving Groups
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Organizing the "All Apps" page
  • 'Start Menu' Folders
  • Groups in All Apps
  • Newly-Built Folders may not appear in "All Apps"
  • Newly-Built Folders do not appear on Start Page
  • App Tiles - Exposing


All Users Start Tiles:

If you are looking for information about pinning Start Page Tiles in the All Users Profile, see this article:  Windows 8 'All Users' Start Tiles.  Other details about the tiles can be found below.


Synopsis
Windows 8 stores Tile definitions in three different places, depending:
  • On how it was installed (as an App or as a standard Program) 
  • By whether you are looking at the "Start Page" or 
  • The "All Apps" page.
This can get confusing with similarly-named features. 

App Tiles, live in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps

Setup.exe / Install-built Program Tiles live:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\StartMenu\Programs

Manually-built tiles (built by you), live here:
C:\Users\(yourname)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs


This article discusses how the tiles are built, where they are stored, and how they can be manipulated and organized.  This is a semi-technical discussion and will take some time to study. 

Terminology for this article:

During this article, keep in mind there is a cosmetic Start Page, that replaced the Windows Start Menu, and a lesser-used "All Apps" page.  The "All Apps" page shows all installed icons, even if not visible on the Start Page.  These are typically vendor-installed icons and readme-files, etc.  The "All Apps" page is a blend of *all* tiles, both for this user and the machine and tends to be more system-oriented.  (But this is not the same as an "All Users" menu.)




  • Start Page - The now famous Start menu, new to Windows 8.  This is different than the "All Apps" page, described below.

    Windows 8.0: To open the Start Page, hover the mouse in the lower left corner of the screen.
    Windows 8.1: Click the Windows logo in the lower-left corner.
  • "All Apps" Page
    A system-generated page showing all applications and icons.  This is different than the Start Page.  Typically, this contains hundreds of icons, often grouped by a vendor's name.

    In Windows 8.0:
    Open the "All Apps" page by "other-mouse-clicking" on the Start Page's background and choosing "All Apps" from the bottom context-menu.



    In Windows 8.1
    Hover the mouse over the background (away from a tile)
    Click the down-arrow in the lower-left corner.



    The "All Apps" page shows *all* icons/shortcuts installed on the system.  On a system with a lot of installed apps, you may find a hundred or more of these icons and this menu is more cluttered than the Start Page.
     
  • An "App Tile" is a tile installed by the App Store or apps pre-installed by the Operating System



    Visually, there is no difference between App Tiles and other types of tiles, but underneath, they are stored in a different physical location *and* you will need Security Permissions to see them; details below.

    App Tiles, live in C:\Program Files\WindowsApps

  • "Program Tiles" are standard tiles, think icons or shortcuts and they look exactly like an App Tile.  Examples might include Firefox, Excel, WordPerfect, Notepad.  You will also find sloppily-installed Readme.txt, License.pdf, and other types of Program Tiles.

    Program Tiles can be built in one of two ways:

    - Setup.exe-installed Program Tiles
       Location:  C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\StartMenu\Programs
    - Pinned Program Tiles (built by you)
       Location:  C:\Users\(yourname)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\
                         Start Menu\Programs





     
  • An "All App Tile" is a shortcut found on the "All Apps" page; think Shortcuts; see above on how to expose the list.  These include all the tiles described above, plus the folders and other icons vendors might install.  This is similar to the Windows XP and Windows7 traditional Start Menu.  This can be a long and detailed list of icons.




    All Users Start Menu:
    Location:  C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
  •  
It is somewhat surprising to learn that the old "Start Menu" file-folders from Windows XP and 7 are still used in Windows 8 -- even though the Start Menu is gone.   More on this in a moment.


Important Notes:
  • Tiles are (usually) nothing more than standard Windows Shortcuts, with some exceptions.
     
  • The Start Page is a cosmetic page -- displaying tiles in a cosmetic order and in cosmetic groups.
     
  • Even though Windows 8 does not have a "Start" button, it still stores icons and shortcuts in the same Start Menu folder structure as in Windows 7 -- C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

    There is an "All Users" location and a "Users" location -- much like previous versions of Windows.  There can be folders (such as "Microsoft Office", "Adobe", etc.), with more icons and folders within.  Sadly, you do not have control of the All Users location.
     
  • Pinned Tiles, built by you, are only stored with your user profile (C:\Users\(yourname)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs).  

    There is no way to Pin a Tile to an All User location.  See this keyliner article for more details:  Windows 8 'All Users' Start Tiles

    This has serious implications in a corporate environment.  Microsoft is trapped.  Tiles are user-centric; there is no mechanism to store tiles for all-users without messing up the current user's groupings and preferences. 

  • The "All Apps" page is a blend of all Start Page Tiles plus all vendor-installed folders and icons that would normally live in Windows 7's Start Menu.  The "All Apps" page gets cluttered with all kinds of vendor-installed pollution.  However, this structure cannot be more than one folder deep and is devilishly-hard to organize -- this article will show you how.   
     
  • The Start Page has nothing to do with the Start Menu structure, seen by the All Apps page.
     
  • No matter what you do in the "All Apps" page to organize and structure icons, you'll have to do the work again on the Start Page.  Never the two shall meet.  They should, but don't.


Building a "Pinned" Program Tile

Methods for building a Program Tile on the Start Page.
A program Tile is an icon or shortcut that launches your program
For example, say you want Notepad.exe to be a tile on the Start Page.

Method 1
a.  Other-Mouse-Click (right mouse) the Start Page's background.
b.  Choose "All Apps" from the context menu.
c.  In the list, locate your application (e.g. Notepad); Other-mouse-click, choose "Pin to Start"

Note: "Pin to Start" places the Tile in this location:
C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

Note:  With this method, you have no control over optional startup parameters


Method 2
a.  Starting on the Start Page,
b.  Open the Charms menu (right-margin fly-out menu), click Search
c.  Type the name of the program you want (e.g. Notepad)
d.  On the found-program's list, other-mouse-click, choose "Pin to Start"

Note:  With this method, you have no control over optional startup parameters.


Method 3 - Manual

This method builds the Start Page Tile and organizes the icon in the "All Apps" view.
This method also allows you to add startup parameters to the shortcut.


a.  Launch File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer)

b.  One-Time Step: Give yourself rights to this folder: 
     C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

     Tunnel to the ....\Start Menu folder
     Other-mouse-click, choose Properties
     Click the [Security] tab
     Click Edit button
     Locate/type your User-ID
     Check [x] Full Control, Apply
     Click OK

c.   Return to File Explorer
      Open folder
      C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

d.  At the bottom of the file-detail list, other-mouse-click
     Choose New Shortcut
     Build a standard Windows Shortcut, browsing to your application

     Note: I prefer to build icons in the All Users Start menu, even 
     though the tile will live elsewhere.

     Note: Parameters can be added to the shortcut icon at this point.  See "Building a
     Program Tile with Passed Parameters," below, for more details.

e.  Once the shortcut is complete,
     Other-mouse-click the newly-built icon, choose "Pin to Start"
    
     Note: The icon appear in:
     C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows
           \Start Menu\Programs

     but the tile lives here:
     C:\Users\YourName\AppData
          \Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs


There does not appear to be a way to put the pinned icon in the ALL USERS Start Menu.
If another user logged into the desktop, they would not see the Tile.  Also, it is odd you can't build startup parameters from the GUI. 

More details: Windows 8 'All Users' Start Tiles


Finding a Program Tile's Location

To find where a Program Tile lives, do the following.

1.  From either the Start Page or the "All Apps" page, "other-mouse-click" a tile.
2.  Click "Open File Location" from the context menu.
3.  File Explorer will open to the folder where the Shortcut is stored.



Note: This will not work on App Tiles or on some Microsoft-generated Tiles.

As an aside, the found-shortcut (likely in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs) is not the program itself; it is the shortcut to the program.  From the File Explorer window, you can click the icon's "Properties" to see the actual program's location.



Building a Program Tile with Passed Parameters

Issue:  Some programs, such as Quicken Checkbook or Mozilla Firefox would like to use startup parameters -- often pointing to a default file, default startup folder or other configuration settings.

Amazingly, you cannot manipulate a Program Tile's parameters directly from the Start screen, instead, you have to manipulate the underlying shortcut / link file.  Below are three examples, showing different techniques and styles.  All are similar.

Example 1 - Mozilla Start Parameters

In Mozilla Firefox, launch the program with an optional -ProfileManager, which allows you to have multiple people, with their own preferences while logged into the same Windows session. 

Steps:
1.  Open the Windows Start page by hovering the mouse in the lower left corner of the screen.

2.  From the Start page, "other-mouse-click" (right mouse) the tile to select.  This method also works from the "All Apps" page.

Illustrated below, note the Firefox icon with a check in the upper-right corner.

3.  From the bottom context menu, choose "Open File Location"


Results:  File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer) opens, pointing to the shortcut / link file.
Important Note: App Tiles and some Microsoft-installed programs (Internet Explorer) do not show the file location.  See below for details, or build the icon manually using the manual steps, recommended below.

4.  On the icon (illustrated, Mozilla Firefox), other-mouse-click and choose "Properties"



5.  In the Target line, add your parameters, after the closing quote.




Example 2 - Quicken Checkbook - Starting with Default Data File

With Quicken, the checkbook program, I like to store my data files in a data-folder (not in the Documents and Settings folder) and I like the program to open directly into the database, saving a File-Open.

Following the steps above, append the path to the quicken data file at the end of the target.  Example Target line (all in one field):

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Quicken\qw.exe" C:\data\Personal\Home\Quicken\trw2000.qdf

Notice how this example also sets a specific default startup-folder (Start In = "C:\data\personal\Home\Quicken").  Use quotes around all paths with embedded spaces.


Example 3 - Start a Browser, opening to www.gmail.com

Following similar steps above, have your browser open to a selected page with a dedicated Tile.  This example demonstrates how to make an Internet Explorer icon open directly into Gmail. 

Note: Because Internet Explorer is a Microsoft-installed tile (similar to an App Tile), you cannot use the Open File Location method - it will point to a non-modifiable shortcut, rather than the program itself.  This method shows how to build the icon/tile manually.

1.  In File Explorer
     Open folder
     C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

2. At the bottom of the file-detail list, other-mouse-click
    Choose New Shortcut
    Build a standard Windows Shortcut, browsing to your application:

     "C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"

     Confirm quotes around the path, starting at "C:  and finishing after the .exe" name.
     Type a space
     Type the web-page address / URL.  In this example, www.gmail.com
     Click Next
     Give the Shortcut a Name, such as "GMail", click "OK"


3.  Then, in File Explorer's detail view, pin the new GMail Shortcut to the Start Menu.


     Note: I prefer to build icons in the All Users Start menu, even 
     though the tile will live elsewhere.


Building New Start Page Groups, Naming

Start Page Tiles can be Grouped into cosmetic groupings (this is different than the "All Apps" grouping, described below).  Follow these steps to build groups on the Start Page.

Method 1:
a.  Drag an existing icon to the far-right, forming a new group;
     You will see a grey-vertical bar as the icon arrives at a new grouping area.

Method 2:
a.  Windows 8.0:  From the Start Page, click the "-" Zoom-out button
     or optionally ctrl-mouse-wheel.


a.  Windows 8.1:  "other-mouse-click" the Start Page Background; click "Customize". 


b.  From the Zoomed-out view, other-mouse-click any icon in a group.
     Windows 8.0: Choose "Name Group" from the context menu.


     Windows 8.1:  Click the banner "Name Group" to rename


Moving Groups

To move a group, zoom-out (ctrl-Mouse-Wheel). 
Click and hold the group and drag horizontally.



Organizing the "All Apps" Page

The Start Page (tiles) are different than the Start Menu (visible from the Tile Page, "All Apps" screen.  This can also be organized, but this is not necessarily recommended - it is a lot of effort with little payback.

The "All Apps" page can become cluttered with vendor-installed folders (groups) and icons.  Follow these steps to clean up and organize this structure.  Keep in mind any changes made here are not reflected in the Start Page and you will have to re-do the work if you also want the icons exposed on the Start Page.

Keyliner recommends letting the "All Apps" page contain all the gory details and spending more time customizing the Start Page.

Synopsis:
Under the hood, Windows 8 still uses the Start Menu / Programs folder structure from Windows 7 and these folders become the groups you see in "All Apps", with some limitations and concerns, described below. 

All Apps Notes:
  • Windows 8 does not support sub-folders within the All Apps groups
     
  •  Changes made directly in File Explorer will not show in the All Apps page until after a reboot.  This screen is in dire need of a refresh button, don't you think?
     
  • Changes made in the "All Apps" page do not, and nor should they, appear on the Start Page.  these are two different creatures.  With that said, you sure wish they would.  You'll find you can group your Tiles in All Apps, and you will probably want to re-group them on the Start Page.  A very tedious process and Microsoft can be cursed for this.

To Open the "All Apps" Page:

    Windows 8.0: "Other-mouse-click" the Start Page background (not a tile); choose "All Apps"
    Windows 8.1:  Hover over the background and click the lower-left down-arrow.



Discussion on Start Menu Folders

In older versions of Windows, Start Menu folders-within-folders exposed themselves as sub-menus which expanded when clicked.  But with the traditional Start Menu's demise, this is no longer true. In Windows 8, the "All Apps" Page is flat and can only hold one layer of folders.  This means sub-folders cannot be reached from the Start Page.

Microsoft themselves is guilty of this with their own software.  For example, in the "All Apps" Page, note the group "Windows Accessories".  There are a dozen icons.  Opening the underlying folders with File Manager, described below, and you will find two sub-folders: "System Tools" and "Tablet PC", both with interior icons.  Those icons are not visible from the "All Apps" Start Page.

Click for larger view

To demonstrate, follow these steps:

a.  From the Start Page, "other-mouse-click" the  background.  Click "All Apps"

b.  Locate the "Windows Accessories" group. 
     "other-mouse-click" any icon (e.g. "Calculator") to select

c.  Choose "Open File Location"

      This opens File Explorer to
      C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories

     There is also similar location:
     C:\Users\(yourID)\
       AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Windows Accessories

d.  Note the sub-folders "System Tools", "Tablet PC". 
     These icons are not visible on the Start Page.


Groups in "All Apps"


This is the Key:  Each folder within the root Start Menu folder appears as a new Group in the All Apps page. 

(Folders built here, appear as groups on All Apps)
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

For example, although too small to see in the illustration, there are groupings for "Windows Accessories", "WordPerfect Office", "Microsoft Office", etc.:

By clicking the zoom-out button on the Start Page (the "-" button, not illustrated; see bottom right), the view looks like this, where each folder is a grouping:



As was the case in previous versions of Windows, installed application like to build their own folders and this often makes for a busy menu structure in "All Apps". 

De-Clutter:

If you like to keep the Start Menu uncluttered (and by extension, the All Apps page), delete unneeded icons and groups or build new folders, as needed to organize your programs.  Do all of this work in File Explorer, using the path above. 

Feel free to make new (top-level) folders. For example, I have one called "Other Accessories", where I put icons, such as Acrobat Reader.  But if you do, keep in mind, you cannot nest folders beyond the first level.  Vendors who store their icons, such as "/Corel / PaintShop" will be at a disadvantage. 

Newly Built Folders do not Immediately Appear on "All Apps"

Manually built folders (groups) with File Explorer may not appear on the Start Page, "All Apps", until a reboot.  ("C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs")

Having no way to refresh tiles makes it cumbersome to see your changes


Newly Built Folders / icons do not Appear on Start Page

Newly built folders appear organized in the "All Apps" view but are not automatically built on the main Start Page -- and there is no way to make them appear.  If the tiles are needed on the Start Page, manually build them by pinning each icon ("Pin to Start"), then grouping as described in the Start Page Group section. Yes, this is a pain.




App Tiles

App Tiles (Tiles installed by the App Store or by pre-installed Operating System Programs) live in yet a third location, C:\Program Files\WindowsApps.  Practically speaking, there is not much you can do with these Tiles, short of un-installing them.  But if you are technically-minded, you may find this section interesting.

An App Tile, such as "Netflix," does not live in any of the previously-mentioned locations.  If you try to open the Tile's File Location, you will find the menu option is not available. 

C:\Program Files\WindowsApps is a secured area.  The steps below unlock the folders. Be aware this area is more complicated than a typical icon folder; the Tiles, along with the entire application lives in this area.

Follow these steps to expose the Tiles

1.  Open File Explorer

2.  Set File Explorer to show Hidden files and File Extensions
     a.  In File Explorer, open Computer, System-C: drive
     b.  In the View menu (top row), check
          [x] File name extensions
          [x] Hidden Files

Click for larger view

3.  Tunnel to C:\ProgramFiles\WindowsApps
     "other-mouse-click", choose "Properties"

4.  In the Properties Window, choose the [Security] Tab


5.   Click the "Advanced" button
      On the (next) Permissions Tab, Click "Continue"
      Type your User-ID
      Click "Check Names" to confirm
      Click OK

Click for Larger View
6.  Important,
     Check the newly-arrived [x] Replace Owner on SubContainers and Objects


7.  Click OK to change Ownership.  This will take a few moments.
     Click OK to dismiss the original Security Tab

8.  Now you can snoop around.
     From File Explorer, open the folder
     C:\Program Files\WindowsApps

Within each application sub-folder, you can find an images directory, with various PNG graphic files, representing the Tile.  Other features of the package are beyond the scope of this article.
   


Related Articles:
Windows 8 vs Windows 7Windows 8 'All Users' Start Tiles.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

USB Drive Backup Speed Slow

Howto: Speed-up all USB drives in Windows 7 and Windows 8. USB speeds for all Thumb drives, cameras, and other external USB disks will be oodles faster with a minor tweak.  This change is recommended.  Updated for Windows 8. 

When I converted my Dell XPS M1530 laptop to Windows 7 x64 and later, Windows 8, and then ran an Acronis 2010 full system USB backup, the backup speeds were horrible -- 8 hours to backup 50G. The backup should only take about 20 minutes.

At first I thought it was a problem with the 64-bit drivers, then I suspected a problem with the backup program, but the real issue turned out to be how Windows 7 and 8 handles USB drives. This turned out to be interesting and is applicable to all kinds of devices.




Follow these steps - which must be done for each plugged-in USB Device where you want improved speed.  The drawback to this change is you can't unplug the drive at will; you must use a simple menu, described below.


Solution:

In Device Manager, change the drive's USB Policy to "Better Performance".

1. Plug-in the USB drive and allow it to mount normally.

2. Start, Control Panel, "Device Manager"

3. Open the "Disk Drive" section, locate the USB drive section (illustrated in red box). In the details, locate the USB drive. Make these changes:

a. Other-mouse-click (right mouse) the drive, Properties
b. Click the [Policies] tab
c. Choose "Better Performance"
d. Click OK and close the control panel


4. In the System Tray, click the arrow to expand hidden icons; choose the USB icon ("Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media); eject the disk and unplug the USB cable. Re-plug-in the disk for the changes to take effect.





Note:
If you purchase a new USB drive, you will need to make this same setting. 
Set one time per device, regardless of which USB port it is plugged into.

This holds true with thumb drives, cameras and all other external writable drives. I have not researched, but there is probably a global policy which can set this for all devices.




Results:

USB Disk operations will be a zillion times faster. The new backup took exactly 23 minutes, which was a slight improvement over the original 8 hours. Everything, including standard file-copies to this drive, was improved.


Microsoft made a conservative default setting, which allows you to pull drives without fiddling around with software. But if you make these changes, you will have to exercise restraint when pulling a drive; you will have to use the System Tray menu to eject the disk.


Drawbacks:

If you like to jerk the USB drive when you are done, you may be in trouble.  With this change, you must click the system-tray icon and eject the disk in a controlled manner. Out of habit, you should be doing this anyway -- just to be safe.

Cameras seem to corrupt their memory cards more-often-than-not and it is probably best to leave the USB settings for this device unchanged, mostly because people tend to unplug cameras and run away; everyone is always in a rush.. 



Hard Disk Cache

The local Hard Disk has a similar setting, which I also enable on my own computers.

A.  In Control Panel, Device Manager, "Disk Drives"
      Locate the hard disk (may be labeled as "ATA Device")

B.  Select Properties
[x] Enable Write Caching on the Device
[x] Turn off Windows Write-cache buffer flushing on this device*

*only recommend doing this on battery-powered laptops or on desktops with UPS protection.


Related Articles:Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps - Make your backups faster
Acronis 2010 Step-by-Step
Recovering a single file with Acronis

Windows 7 Explorer Changes

Streamline Windows Start Menus

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Run a Windows 8 DOS CheckDisk



If your disk-image backup program hangs or crashes, or you have other reasons to believe a disk is corrupt (power failures, etc.), run a DOS check disk (chkdsk).  This command will more thoroughly repair the disk than the default Windows-based error-check routines.

Steps:

A check disk will take approximately 1.5hrs, depending on the size of the disk.  It will spend a huge amount of time at 28%, be patient.

1.  Launch an Administrator DOS Prompt

     Windows 8
     a.  From the Start Page, swipe from bottom or "other-mouse-click" background
     b.  Click "All Apps"
     c.  Locate "Command Prompt"
     d.  Other-mouse-click Command Prompt icon; choose "Run as Administrator"

     Windows 7
     a.  In the Start Menu, locate "Command Prompt"
     b.  Other-mouse-click menu item, choose "Run as Administrator"

2.  Type this command:

     chkdsk C: /f /r    (enter)

     With the C: drive, DOS will complain the disk is in-use ("volume in use")
     Acknowledge the prompt with "Y".
     Nothing else will happen.



3.  Close the DOS window by typing this command:  exit

4.  Gracefully reboot / restart the computer. 

     The CheckDisk will start when the machine boots.
     Go out and have a nice dinner.
     When done, it will automatically load Windows.


Review the Results:

Windows 7 and Windows 8 may not show the results of the scan, especially if no errors were found.  Optionally confirm what Chkdsk found by looking in the Application Event Log.

5.  In Control Panel, Administrative Tools, "Event Viewer"
     Open Windows Logs, Applications
     Click "Filter"
     In Event Sources, type "chkdsk"; Click OK

     Review the events.
     Within each found event, note the two tabbed items below. 
     Scroll down to read the reports.


     What you want to see is a report similar to this:

   Windows has scanned the file system and found no problems.
   No further action is required.
    :
   0 KB in bad sectors.
    :
 

      Anything else may be cause for concern; see below.

 6.  With File Explorer, examine the root directory of the scanned disk (C:)

     Look for chkdsk log files with names similar to this:
    Chkdsk20120703093010.log

     If found, these are recovered damaged files but are likely not useful.
     Examining (with Notepad) and you will probably find they are useless and can be
     deleted. 



What if Bad Sectors / Bad Clusters are Found?


A few (hundred) bad sectors is not the end of the world, but does indicate some kind of hard disk trauma or power problem.  As Chkdsk runs, it marks bad clusters and takes them out of rotation.  Rarely, viruses will damage clusters but most do not do this anymore - a killed host can't propagate the virus. 

If you find a larger number of chkdsk log files and the Event Viewer shows a large number of errors, Reboot and run these steps again. If errors continue, your disk is failing.  Manually copy important files to separate media and replace the drive, or if you are like most people, buy a new computer. 

Times like this are a good time to take an image of the disk, but the image may fail if clusters are misbehaving.  This can be a scary time.  See this keyliner article: Acronis Step-by-Step.

Related Articles
Acronis Step-by-Step
Disk Image Cleanup Steps
USB Backup Drive Slow
Frankenputer comics

Acronis 2010 Hangs in Windows 8

Acronis 2010 Hangs in Windows 8

Symptoms:
While running a backup to an External USB disk, using the Emergency Recovery Disk, the backup hangs after running for a few minutes.  Mouse is unresponsive.  No disk activity. Status bar stops at apx 3%.

Recovery:
a.  The backup is incomplete and must be abandoned.
b.  Because the machine is hung, you have no choice but to Power off.
c.  Reboot into Windows.
d.  Consider launching File Manager and deleting the backup files created by the failed run.

Solution:

Acronis 2010 will not work in Windows 8.
Upgrading to Acronis 2013 resolves this issue.
Update: Acronis Documentation on this problem

If Acronis 2013 continues to hang on Backup

Run a DOS Checkdisk - this time-honored solution almost always fixes Acronis backup problems.

See this article:  Run a DOS CheckDisk


Want to speed up your backup?

Follow the steps outlined in this article; which work well in Windows 8. 
Keyliner Article: Acronis 2010 - Step-by-Step

Although this refers to Acronis 2010, the steps are nearly the same for Windows 8 and Acronis 2013.

Related Article:
Exposing the Windows 8 Run Tile
Disk Imaging Cleanup Steps - Faster backups
USB Backup Drive Slow

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Windows 8 'All Users' Start Tiles

The question:  Where is the "All Users" folder for pinned Start Page Tiles in Windows 8?

The short answer:
There is not an exposed location for this.
If you find it, drop everyone a note here by leaving a comment.

I think Microsoft is in a little trouble here:  There is no mechanism for an all-users start tile because, by definition, how the Start Page is organized and grouped is a user-specific preference.  An all-user tile arriving in the middle would interfere with that user's preferences.  There is no doubt this hurts in a corporate environment.


Finding a Start Tile's location:

A Start Tile's location can be found with these steps:

1.  From the Start page, "other-mouse-click" (right mouse) the tile to select.  Illustrated below, note the Firefox icon with a check in the upper-right corner.

2.  From the bottom context menu, choose "Open File Location"


File Explorer (formerly Windows Explorer) opens, pointing to the shortcut / link file.


Tile Locations:

Microsoft Installed Tiles are stored here (think "All Users"):
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs



But if you try to pin any program to the Start Page, it arrives here:
C:\Users\(your ID)\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs

No matter how hard you try, you cannot point a pinned icon to the ("All Users") location.

Ramifications:
The issue is this:  If an administrator installs a program and builds a Start Tile; then logs out, other users will not see the Start Tile.  They would have to build their own.  I am still looking for a solution to this problem.  As of Windows 8.1, this is still an issue.

More Details:

Related Articles:
Everything you wanted to know about Tiles

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Windows 8 Border Thickness

How to: Change Windows 8 default border thickness

The default Windows 8 border thickness is too thick for desktop and laptop users.  You can make the border thinner, matching the Windows 7 style. 


Recommendations:
  • Make this change only on desktop and laptop computers.
  • For some people this change may not be recommended on touch-screens - the border may be too thin for accurate finger placement.  This is easily tested.

Steps:

This change requires editing in the Windows Registry.

1.  From the Start Page, "other-mouse-click" the background (or swipe from bottom).
Click "All Apps"




2.  From the Charm menu, search for and run "Regedit"



3.  In the Registry Editor, locate this key on the tree-side:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\
Control Panel
Desktop
WindowMetrics

HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

4.  On the detail side, change these two values:

BorderWidth from -15 to 0 (zero)
PaddedBorderWidth from -60 to 0 (zero)

Click for larger view
5.  Close Regedit

6.  Reboot.  You must reboot to see the change.

Testing

Launch any standard desktop application, such as Notepad; Confirm border width / thickness.
To undo this change, return the two values to their previous value (documented above) and reboot.

Additional Notes:

Unfortunately, this registry change can only be made in the Current User Registry key and cannot be made in the HKLM key.  Because of this, it must be made for each new user in the system. 

This key can be changed in the Default User's key but this will only help new users added to the system (Keyliner, untested).
HKEY_USERS\.Default\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

Changed Keys:
HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics\BorderWidth
HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics\PaddedBorderWidth 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stop Messages in PSP X3, X4, X5

How to: Stop advertising messages in Corel Paintshop Pro versions X3, X4, X5

Paintshop Pro (PSP) has developed an annoying habit of displaying the same advertsising messages when the program closes.  One would think once the message was read, it would go away; alas, no.


Note:
These steps work in Windows XP and Windows 7, but may not in Windows 8.
Read below for more information.


Steps to Stop Message Popups:

Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8

1.  Launch Paint Shop Pro into Edit mode

2.  Click the funny icon near Close box

3.  Click Settings Icon (gears), choose message Preferences; uncheck message box.

4.  Close PSP and re-open/close to test.  You may need to dismiss messages one more time.


Wish: Instead of this obscure location, one would hope these settings would move into the expected "Preferences" screens and you wouldn't have to read articles like this.

Optional:
Messages are stored in the appdata folder and can be deleted manually with these steps:

For Windows Vista and 7 users (also Windows 8, but steps do not help):
  1. Launch File Explorer
  2. In the URL bar (address bar), type:  %appdata%
  3. Open the Corel / Messages Folder
  4. Delete contents
For Windows XP users:
  1. Click START
  2. Click RUN
  3. Type:  %appdata%
  4. Double click on the Corel Folder
  5. Highlight the Messages folder and press the delete button on your keyboard

Other Possible Windows 8 Steps:

On one of my machines, the above steps did not resolve the problem. De-installing and re-installing PSP resolved the problem.  This is not a great answer to this problem, but after several messages with Corel Support, I could not find a better solution.



Keywords: disable messages, message preferences, product related, popups, advertising, advertisements, gradient 01, corel KPT collection

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dell XPS M1530 Windows 8 Drivers

Dell XPS M1530 Windows 8 Drivers.
Updated 2012.12.01 - New Alps Touchpad Drivers

This is a sister article to Keyliner's popular  Dell XPS M1530 Windows 7 Drivers.

Recently, I upgraded my venerable M1530 laptop to Windows 8 and even with the default Microsoft drivers.  I am pleased with the results and the upgrade to Windows 8 was a positive experience.  In general, he machine is working as-well or better than in Windows 7.  I was having problems with the wireless and ultimately abandoned Windows 8, returning to Windows 7.  The problem may have been the network card.  Read the Windows 10 notes, directly below....


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2015.12: Windows 10 Update
I have successfully upgraded the Dell XPS M1530 to Windows 10, using the standard Windows 10 installation.  Only two areas were a problem:

I had to retire the Intel Wireless 3945ABG card, replacing  with an Intel 3160 ($16.00) because the older card dropped the network connection; this was probably a driver problem. When buying the new card, which is half-sized, be sure to buy a full-sized metal card-adapter ($2.00). Related, the white antenna wire was too short. I used a Dremil motor tool to carve a new groove through one of the supporting plastic supports to make the cable long enough.  Even with this, the cable will be a tight fit.  The laptop has three card slots, but you must use the same slot as before; the two other slots did not work for this device and I know-not-why.

The trackpad installs as a generic PS2-mouse driver, so no edge-scrolling or gestures are supported.  I have not researched this yet.  It is serviceable in this state.

Outside of this, all appears to be well. Windows 10 appears to have better driver support than Windows 8.  When I installed, I chose the "Install all new software" option.  I have not yet attempted a clean-install and see no reason to bother.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This Windows 8 article has been abandoned and here are my then-most current notes.  These are rough notes.   I recommend Windows 10.  Windows 10 appears to have better driver support than 8.


BIOS:

Upgrading the BIOS is required, especially for improved power-save features and because of Video driver concerns.  This is the same recommendation as Windows 7.  Note, the XPSM1530 mother board is an Intel Mobile 965PM.

Check your BIOS version during a cold-boot, looking at the bottom DELL splash screen. If you see "A12", the BIOS is current.


NVidia 8M

Download the latest video drivers. 
My machine uses NVidia; your model may be different.

NVidia GeForce Drivers for Windows 8. 
Version 306.97
2012.10.10

NVidia Download:  www.geforce.com/drivers/results/50007


Intel Chipset Device Software (INF Update Utility)

Version 9.3.0.1019
2011.11.27

Intel Chipset Download

Download:  infinst_autol.exe

The install will extract files with a significant delay.
Reboot when prompted.

There might be some argument for not installing this driver in Windows 8, and allowing the default operating system drivers to handle this.  I have installed successfully on my machine but am unsure of the benefits.



Intel Rapid Storage Technology - RST

Intel Download: Intel Rapid Storage
10.1.0.1008_PV.exe  11/29/2010
Choose the STOR-allOS version.

Important Note: Intel's newest RST SATA version 10.6 (and Windows 8 version 9.3.0) and above do not work on the M1530 -- giving a message, "This computer does not meet the minimum requirements for installing this software".

There might be some argument for not installing this driver in Windows 8, and allowing the default operating system drivers to handle this.  I have installed successfully on my machine but am unsure of the benefits.


IDT Sigmatel Audio Drivers

The Windows 7 version of the driver installs with no errors but does not actually work.
I recommend staying with the default Windows drivers.  I will continue to research this devil of a driver.  See Dell XPS M1530 Windows 7 Drivers

By default, Windows is installing
IDT "Microsoft Windows Hardware Compatibility Publisher"
Version 6.10.0.6272
Date: 2010.02.26


Ricoh Memory Card Reader
Default Windows drivers are adequate. 
Do not install the Windows 7 versions.


Marvel Yukon Network Driver:
Version 12.10.10.3
Date: 10/26/2012

www.marvell.com/support/downloads

I can not take you directly to the driver-download link. Instead, open this site and search for "Windows 8 Installer".  As of 2012.11, Marvell did not show "Windows 8" as a valid operating system (platform) choice, but oddly, they had a Windows 8 installer.

Note this is a Zip file.
Open the downloaded folder, copy and paste the interior contents.
Run the setup.exe


Intel Wireless Network

4965AGN
3945ABG

As of 2012.11, use the default drivers installed by Windows 8.  Intel does not show a Windows 8-specific version for either of these network cards and I do not recommend installing the Windows 7 version of the drivers.

If you have other brands, specifically dell-branded wireless cards, I recommend spending $15 and upgrading the hardware.  It is seriously-easy to do:  See this keyliner article:  Upgrading a Wireless Network Card.



Alps Touchpad

The Toshiba Touchpad drivers, recommended for Windows 7 will not work and will cause the workstation to hang.  Instead, use these Windows 8 drivers:

Fujistu Download:  Touchpad Drivers
Version: 8.100.404.201-DR12-0831_W8-64

Steps:
1.  Download Fujistu drivers; expand by running the download exe.
2.  Run "DPinst.exe" and allow to install.
3.  Reboot when prompted
4.  In Mouse Control Panel, note new tab: "EdgeAction(TM)"

Alternate Dell Vistro drivers can be found here (not tested by keyliner):
Dell Download:  Touchpad Drivers
Date: 10/23/2012
version:  8.1200.101.209, A00


After installing these drivers, edge detection with the mouse seems improved. 
When using edge-detection with the pad, you will have to teach your fingers a new trick and begin your swipe, starting on the palm-rest.  Amazingly, it will not edge-detect if you start on the very edge of the pad; you have to start further away.


Other swipe actions, such as the inside to outside edge do not work as expected.  However, a standard mouse works well with the same gestures.


WebCam Driver:

Note: This section has not been tested yet by Keyliner, but I suspect this is correct.
The Webcam is comprised of two parts: A driver and an application; both are required.


Driver description: Creative Labs Laptop Integrated 2M CCD Webcam
Dell Download: Not available
  • Windows 8 default drivers appear to have detected this correctly.
Application Description: Creative Labs Dell Webcam Manager
This is an application and initial testing shows it works fine in Windows 7. This is safe to install. Creative Labs is not producing a 64-bit version of this program. Be aware this is a 140mb download.


UPEK FingerPrint Reader

UPEK was bought by AuthenTec and the default Windows 8 drivers work correctly -- actually, they work very well and I have been pleased with the results.  The Control panel will guide you through the setup.  Details on how to do this are pending but the Windows 8 control panel wizard will guide you through the process with ease. This is an improvement over the Windows 7 drivers.

BlueTooth:
Not yet found; sorry.


Related article: Dell XPS M1530 Windows 7 Drivers
Related article: Windows 7 vs Windows 8 Comments