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Entries From January 2009

January 26, 2009

Windows 7 Gem #7

Filed under Computers, Software

new appAfter you install an application, how do you start it?

Some apps place a shortcut on your desktop (NO! My desktop is messy enough!)

Some apps add a shortcut to the quick launch toolbar or Start Menu (NO! How dare you think you are important enough to be part of my frequently used apps!)

Some apps ask you if you want to run the app after installation is finished (NO! Just install the software and let me run the app when I want to!)

In the Start Menu, Vista will highlight “All Programs” and the newly created program folder so you can find your recently installed app easier.

Windows 7 adds an additional mechanism: The newly installed application shows up highlighted in the Start Menu’s recent program list. Nice! A standard place to look for software you recently installed.

Hopefully this will signal an end to installation software that…

  • Pollutes the desktop and the Start Menu with shortcuts to apps we don’t want
  • Asks us if we want to run the app after installation is finished


January 25, 2009

Windows 7 Gem #6

Filed under Computers, Software

Windows 7 includes new windows management shortcuts that have already changed the way I work. The internal names for the new functionality are Aero Snap, Aero Shake, and Aero Peek.

“Aero Snap”

Function Mouse Mouse Restore Keyboard Keyboard Restore
Maximize Drag window to top Drag window down Win key-Up Arrow Win key-Down Arrow
Fill left half of screen Drag window to left Drag window to right Win key-Left Arrow Win key-Right Arrow
Fill right half of screen Drag window to right Drag window to left Win key-Right Arrow Win key-Left Arrow
Maximize vertically Drag window border to top or bottom Drag window down None None
Minimize None None Win key-Down Arrow None

By far, the feature I use the most is dragging windows to the left and right. It makes it really easy to work in one application while referencing another.


“Aero Shake”

Function Mouse Mouse Restore Keyboard Keyboard Restore
Minimize all but this Drag window back and forth rapidly Drag window back and forth rapidly Win key-Home Win key-Home

This is just nice when your desktop gets filled with lots of windows and you want to focus on the task at hand.


“Aero Peek”

Function Mouse Mouse Restore Keyboard Keyboard Restore
Temporarily show desktop and gadgets Move to bottom-right corner Move mouse out of corner Win key-Space Release Win key
Show desktop and gadgets Click bottom-right corner Click bottom-right corner Win key-D Win key-D

I think the main reason you would want to see your desktop temporarily is to check the status of gadgets (check weather, news, sports, system status, etc). In Windows 7, the Sidebar is gone and all gadgets go to the desktop.

I didn’t use the Sidebar in Vista because it took too much screen space. In Vista, you could also place gadgets on the desktop, where they were easily forgotten. Because of the ability to quickly peek at the desktop in Windows 7, I expect I’ll use gadgets more.

Here is a video that shows most of this functionality in action.


January 20, 2009

Windows 7 Gem #5

Filed under Computers, Software

The start menu power button.


Here is how things work in Vista…


Vista’s Power Button

The power button is actually three buttons: power, lock, and a popup menu that shows 7 options:

  • Switch User
  • Log Off
  • Lock
  • Restart
  • Sleep
  • Hibernate
  • Shut Down

You can configure what the power button does by going to:

Start->Control Panel->Power Options->Change Plan Settings->Change Advanced Power Settings->Power buttons and lid->Start menu power button->Setting:

You have the following choices:

  • Sleep
  • Hibernate
  • Shut Down



Windows 7 improves/simplifies several aspects…


power button - popup

  • The lock button has been removed (which makes the power button bigger and thus an easier hit target)
  • The power button now states what it does explicitly via text instead of a symbol
  • The hibernate option was removed from the popup
  • The duplicated function is removed from the popup. In the above screenshot, “Shutdown” is not in the popup because you can access it by clicking on the power button “Shutdown.”

Configuring what the power button does is much easier. Right-click on the power button and select “Properties”…

power button - configure

The power button has 6 options:

  • Switch User
  • Log off
  • Lock
  • Restart
  • Sleep
  • Shutdown


start - restart

In Vista, there was no way to map “restart”, “switch user”, or “log off” to the power button.

I welcome “restart”, since I never turn off my computer. No need to click on the popup menu because I can click on restart directly: one less mouse click.

One less button, 2 less menu items, easier configuring with more functionality. I like.

January 19, 2009

Windows 7 Gem #4

Filed under Computers, Software

Vista introduced buttons that “glow” outside of their boundaries with the minimize/maximize/close buttons in the upper-right corner of a window.

Windows 7 adds another button to the glow-club: the “Start Orb.”


start orb normal

Normal Start Orb


start orb glow

Start Orb with mouse-over


Buttons usually have a different look when you mouse-over them so that the user understands they can click on them.

The glow effect is the same, except it spills out of the button’s boundaries. I supposed the spill-over effect makes it more clear that this is a system button instead of an application button?

…or maybe it just looks cool.

January 18, 2009

Windows 7 Gem #3

Filed under Computers, Software


The Windows Memory Diagnostic tool verifies your RAM is functioning as it should. It is not something you need very often, but nice when you suspect your hardware is malfunctioning.

This tool was initially included in Vista, but I never noticed it. In Windows 7, it lives in Control Panel->All Control Panel Items->Administrative Tools->Windows Memory Diagnostic.

Windows 7 Gem #2

Filed under Computers, Software

sticky notes

Sticky Notes…the virtual version of Post-it Notes.

Vista had Sticky Notes, but they were for pen or voice input only. The version in Windows 7 is keyboard-based…which means I’ll actually use it.

It is very simple. The only options are:

  • Create new note (+)
  • Delete this note (X)
  • Enter the text of your note
  • Change the color of your note

Windows 7 Gem #1

Filed under Computers, Software

notification - all white

The most obvious change in Windows 7 is the new taskbar (a.k.a. “superbar”).

There are a lot of changes with the new taskbar. I’m going to focus on the notification area of the taskbar (the lower right) with this post. The notification area for Windows 7 is pictured above.

The notification area now has a color scheme…

  • All normal information is in white
  • Problems are in red
  • Successful operations are indicated in green

The “sound waves” for the volume indicator were green in Vista, but now they are white in Windows 7 (Vista notification area below).


The net result: if there is something red/green in the notification area, it really gets your attention.

Another nice touch: the network connection indicator shows your Wi-Fi signal strength instead of the two monitors that light up green on send/receive…much more useful!

If you click on the network connection indicator, you get a popup menu list of networks you can join…

network notification

Previously, clicking on the network connection indicator took you to a dialog…


The popup in Windows 7 saves you from opening a dialog. One less mouse click for everybody. 

All problems that need your attention go with the white flag (“Action Center”). This means the notification area will stay minimal, even with many applications running (if they all use the Action Center like they should).

I turned on virus software monitoring and this is what the notification area looks like now…


If you click on the flag, you get this…

action center notification

The clock now has the date! Previously, you had to hover over the time to get the date.

safely remove

Safely Remove Hardware is hidden under the popup menu on the left end of the notification area.

Instead of opening an additional dialog (which requires pressing “Close” when you are done), you now get a simple popup menu. Again, a UI change that reduces the number of mouse clicks to accomplish a task.

The list is much easier to read now since each item has unique identifiable names (previously, everything was called “USB Mass Storage Device”). The old Safely Remove Hardware dialog is here…


All very subtle changes, but they add up to improve your experience.

January 17, 2009

Greetings From Windows 7

Filed under Computers, Reviews, Software


I installed the public beta of Windows 7 this week.

If you have any interest in giving Windows 7 a test drive or providing Microsoft feedback on improving Windows, I recommend you download it now (and write down the activation key). The public beta will close on January 24th. Here is where you get the free download.

My initial impression…I *love* it.

I love Vista, so it should come as no surprise that I love Windows 7 even more. Windows 7 is basically Windows Vista with some polish.

I’m shocked at all the positive press Windows 7 is getting from people that hated Vista. If you hate Vista, you should hate Windows 7…period (I’m looking at you PC Magazine).

I’ve been jotting down notes about new things I like in Windows 7. I’ll start posting my Windows 7 Gems soon.

Sent from Microsoft Windows 7

January 15, 2009

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn’t seen it)

Filed under Funny

This went around work today. This is really good…

January 8, 2009

iPhone, Your Competition has Arrived

Filed under Gadgets

imageToday at CES, Palm announced a new phone called the Palm Pre (rhymes with “tree”).

I consider this the first true competitor to Apple’s iPhone.

Other phones try to duplicate the iPhone and end up not as good. The Palm Pre is what the iPhone *should* be. Apple finally has a reason to be worried.

This is the first cell phone since the iPhone where the hardware and the OS (“WebOS”) are made by the same company.

The Pre has a screen resolution of 480x320, like the iPhone. It supports multi-touch, like the iPhone. It has a WebKit-based web browser, like the iPhone. It rotates its display orientation when you rotate the phone, like the iPhone. It has an app store, like the iPhone.


Here’s what I like about the Pre over the iPhone…

  • Full keyboard, slides out (see photo, right)
  • No virtual keyboard means more screen real estate for your apps
  • Support for copy/paste
  • Supports running multiple apps at the same time
  • Removable battery
  • Consolidated contact list. Outlook, Gmail, and Facebook contacts are all stored in a single contact list with no duplicated entries.
  • Consolidated calendar
  • Consolidated IM
  • Combine work calendar with personal calendar in a single calendar. When syncing, only work items sync with work (so you don’t put your personal calendar on your company’s Outlook calendar).
  • Smaller/lighter than the iPhone

The new UI is *amazing*. Check out the launch demo to see the UI in action:

I love the iPhone UI. I think the Pre UI is better.

I’m really excited about this phone. I’ll probably pick one up when they come out in the next few months.

January 6, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Filed under Movies, Reviews


Slumdog Millionaire is the best movie I’ve seen in the past year.

The story, location, style, action, intensity, surprises, music, and the Bollywood dance number make this a must-see.

I especially like that this movie was filmed in India, because I was just there a year ago.

There is *nothing* Hollywood about this movie…a refreshing change.

Go see this…you will love it!

The Apple MacBook Wheel

Filed under Computers, Funny, Gadgets

This is a big week for gadget lovers with CES and MacWorld about to get started.

Here is the first cool new gadget I’ve heard about: Apple’s latest laptop adopts the iPod click wheel…

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard


January 4, 2009

Getting Rid of My Crap

Filed under Gadgets, Video Games, Web, Xbox 360


I have a closet full of electronics that I don’t use anymore. I am going to get rid of them via eBay and make some cash doing it.

I updated my website so I have a link to my current eBay items on the right (only shows on my home page, not individual posts).

Here is my first item: my old Xbox 360…

Xbox 360 w/ 20 GB, 11 games, HD DVD player w/ 4 movies



About January 2009

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in January 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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