January 15, 2008

Hand me that tweaker bag

WHS says my desktop hasn't been backed up in 84 days, which is how long I've been stuck solely on my laptop. Laptop keyboards are smaller, there are less keys, the use of the Fn key becomes essential. I've come up with a guide for your laptop and Internet. Here are some ideas you can try to experience something new.
  1. Change the color scheme to silver. This isn't all that amazing and comes default with many computers, but the truth is I just figured out how to do it myself. So I did it and it makes a big difference. Right Click on the desktop, Properties, Appearance Tab, Color scheme -> Silver.
  2. Add some XP Power Toys.
    1. Since I just started messing around with photography, I found it incredibly nice that MS provides support for RAW images. Until now I've been stuck shooting in .jpeg which just hurts my geek heart.
    2. ClearType Tuner. I haven't noticed a night and day difference but when I installed it I saw what I could be seeing.
    3. Alt tab replacement also added a slight change to the interface. It's not terribly exciting but a nice change.
    4. Stay away from Virtual Desktop Manager. It says 'up to four desktops' when it really means 'always and only four desktops that you can't configure very easily and whose background we will mangle.' I was excited and veyr let down.
  3. Buy some memory! Newegg's prices on laptop memory is dropping by the day. 2GB of DDR2 for <$50. This is probably the best upgrade you can make to your laptop. Installing is a cinch, if you want it but don't know how and are afraid to try shoot me an email and I'll be glad to walk you throught he steps. After this upgrade you'll wonder how you ever survived without it.
  4. Windows / Microsoft Update and Driver updates. This shouldn't really be on the list, but I come across so many machines that haven't done much of either in a long time. If you're an IE user be sure to upgrade to IE 7 for the added tab support. I recommend upgrading to Microsoft Update because it will also cover your Office install and more MS software in the future. Driver updates are essential for the smooth running of your PC. Particularly pay attention to the video and chipset drivers.
  5. Uninstall any McAfee, Symantec / Norton system manglers you have. Certainly don't pay for it. I use AVG, it's free and auto updating and it doesn't bring my PC to slug's pace.
  6. StumbleUpon. When you join let me know so that we can be friends with each other. You can set up hot keys too so you don't have to struggle with a touchpad. I use Alt + Z to Stumble and Alt + UpArrow for I like it, Alt + DownArrow for I don't like it + Stumble .
  7. Take your laptop to the head. You haven't joined the information age until you've written an email on a commode.
  8. Take apart your computer and dust it. Especially if it's out of warranty you have nothing to void :). The panels on the bottom are probably fine to take off and look at without hurting anything. Buy a can of compressed air, read the directions and spray out the insides. Cleaning out the fan on the bottom can really help increase the battery life because the fan doesn't' have to work so hard to spin. Also a good time to check what kind of memory it has and see if it can support more. If you don't want to open the case to exam your RAM, head to Crucial's site and use their Scanner Tool, it'll tell you everything you need to know.
  9. Find a forum regarding your laptop. There are enthusiasts everywhere for everything. Who knows, this junk PC could be a DIY dream. People have some incredible ideas for the hardware sitting under your finger tips. Google your model number and forum and you're likely to find something good. I once stuck a hot screw driver into the PCI Express slot at the suggestion of a forum.
  10. Backup your data right now. Not tomorrow or this weekend. Do it tonight. Hard drive failures are the worst. Don't be that teary eyed person that has to explain why all your children's pictures are now lost forever.
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