Alexander’s Blog

May 1, 2007

Another Cool Vista Gadget

by @ 8:39 am. Filed under Desktop, Tools/Utils, Windows Vista

Like cool Vista gadgets? Here’s an interactive, AJAX based tool that shows traffic in your zip code on major highways. It’s refreshed every 2 minutes and hopefully your city is included in the list. Metro area traffic currently supported in this gadget includes Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis, Tampa, Washington DC. You can download the gadget here.

Do not be fooled by the graphic. The traffic in Seattle area is not this good. I took the screen shot on a Sunday afternoon.

By the way, if you have gone through the trouble to make Google your default search engine in Internet Explorer, when prompted, DO NOT make Live Search your default search engine.

March 6, 2007

Using Windows Vista’s Aero User Interface

by @ 1:21 am. Filed under Desktop, Windows Vista

Windows Vista’s new Aero user interface allows you to take advantage of the Vista’s fancy 3-D platform. This feature off-loads the GUI from your PC to the graphics card resulting in better performance for multimedia applications, screen switching, video playback, and lets you take advantage of Macintosh-like opaque windows.

In order for you to take advantage of Aero user interface, your computer hardware must support this feature. Most nVidia and ATi cards support Aero. To enable or disable the Aero feature, use the following procedure.

  • Right-click on your desktop and select Personalize.
  • Click on Windows Color and Appearance.
  • Select Windows Aero under color scheme.

    If your graphics card doesn’t support Aero, you won’t see the Windows Aero option listed under the color schemes.

    To switch back to non-Aero, basic scheme:

  • Right-click on your desktop and select Personalize.
  • Click on Windows Color and Appearance.
  • Click on Open classic appearance properties for more color options.
  • Select Windows Vista Basic under color scheme.
  • September 13, 2006

    Speed Up Start Menu Search in Windows Vista

    by @ 12:10 pm. Filed under Desktop, Registry, Windows Vista

    In Windows Vista, when you use the search feature, Windows automatically includes the file index search, which can be huge because it includes all the searchable files on your computer. To speed the search process in Windows Vista, you can modify the registry per instructions below.

    1. Start the registry editor (regedit.exe).
    2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\A dvanced.
    3. Double-click Start_SearchFiles in the right-hand pane.
    4. Set Value data to 0.
    5. Restart your computer.

    Keep in mind that by modifying the search this way you are reducing the scope of the search to exclude hard drive files. If this is not what you want to do, then you may want to leave the registry setting to the default.

    July 5, 2006

    Take Advantage of “File and Directory Name Completion” Feature

    by @ 11:31 am. Filed under Desktop, Tips & Tricks

    If you are tired of typing long directory names in Windows, you should take advantage of a feature called “File and Directory Name Completion”. This feature can speed up your navigation when you use the command prompt. The two hot keys that you use to invoke this feature are CTRL+F and CTRL+D. Here’s how it works.

    You can enable this feature by starting a command prompt with the /f:on switch. Click Start, Run, and in the Open box type cmd /f:on. Now to use the file completion feature type any executable command and press CTRL+F. For example, if you are in \Windows folder and you want to change directory to “IIS Temporary Compressed Files” folder, simply type cd i and press CTRL+F. You’ll notice that the rest of the characters (IS Temporary Compressed Files) are automatically filled for you.

    To make life even easier, try this trick. This is the ultimate time saver because you don’t even need to know the exact name of a folder to use this technique. It will list all the folders for you. If you simply type cd and press spacebar, then hold down the CTRL key and keep on clicking D (or F), you will cycle through all the possible folders. Remember to use the spacebar after typing cd.

    The preferred method is to modify the shortcut that starts the command prompt by adding the /f:on switch. Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, right-click Command Prompt and select Properties. Click on the Shortcut Tab and type /f:on at the end of the command in the Target box so it looks like this:

    %SystemRoot%\system32\cmd.exe /f:on

    This technique works on Windows 2000/XP/2003.

    January 4, 2006

    Add “Empty Recycle Bin” to your Right-Click Menu

    by @ 11:50 am. Filed under Desktop, Registry, Security/Firewalls, Tips & Tricks, Windows Vista, Windows XP

    If you want to quickly empty your recycle bin, instead of minimizing the desktop and going to the Recycle Bin you can simply right click any file on your computer and select Empty Recycle Bin. Here’s how.

    Save the following entries in a text editor as a .REG file (e.g. emptybin.reg). Logon with an account that has administrative privileges. Double-click the .reg file to modify the registry. You will be prompted to add the information to the registry. You should see the Empty Recycle Bin added to the context menu for all files.

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\{645FF040-5081-101B-9 F08-00AA002F954E}]
    @=”Empty Recycle Bin”

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Empty Recycle Bin]
    @=”{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}”

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Em pty Recycle Bin]
    @=”{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}”

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Empty Recycle Bin]
    @=”{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}”

    [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\Empty Recycle Bin]
    @=”{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}”

    I’ve tested this successfully on Windows XP Professional computers. If you can’t get it to work, feel free to contact me.

    Update: May 23, 2007: I tested the .reg file successfully on 32-bit Windows Vista.

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