Saturday, October 18, 2008

Windows Vista: A Few Good Things

I've had Vista on my personal laptop for over a month now. After upgrading to Vista Business and tweaking a few preferences, I've found that I can tolerate the operating system enough to where I'm not tempted to take a baseball bat to my monitor every twenty minutes. In hopes of encouraging those who are also stuck with Vista, I thought I'd highlight a few of its advantages over XP.

Taskbar thumbnail previews

This is a pretty cool feature. If you have the Vista Aero theme selected, hovering over any items on your taskbar reveals a real-time thumbnail preview. See example. Note that there is software that can be installed on XP to implement a similar feature.

Volume mixer

I have to say, this is a pretty sweet deal...and definitely an improvement with the Vista OS. Users can set different volume levels for every single program running. Maybe you want to hear your YouTube movie, playing in an open browser, and while you do, you don't want Outlook bothering you with the "New Mail" sound. Just single click on the volume button in the notification area of your taskbar, click the "Mixer" hyperlink, and specify the volume level for each program currently in use.

Start menu search box

The search box in the bottom of the start menu is very handy as well. You can choose to have it only search programs in your start menu, or even search all documents and files on your computer. Of course, there is a basic desktop search program that can be installed on XP...but it is handy to have it in the bottom of the start menu, and automatically included in the operating system.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Two Tips

School has me super occupied right now, and posting on this blog hasn't been at the top of my priority list. So here are just a couple of random tips for your reading pleasure.

Looking for quality screen capture software? The Jing Project is a free download that I have been consistently using for school assignments. Easily capture screen activity for the whole desktop or just a selected area or specific window, and instantly upload it to your personal library (also free) at Screencast. Making a screen capture video of a specific process or system feature can be an excellent way to show someone how it's done. For the non-techy, watching a step-by-step video is usually easier to understand than following written directions. Download Jing, create a Screencast account, and you're good to go!

Googling information pertaining to Linux? Frustrated by all the unrelated results? Refine your search before you've even entered keywords by going to All results will be specific to Linux, and you'll have far less irrelevant sites to wade through. (Go to to receive Windows-specific results.)