Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Export Mail from Thunderbird to Outlook 2007

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I have been a long time Thunderbird user and while it still works fine I like the new Outlook 2007 interface and it plays nicer with Windows Live accounts 🙂

So I set out on a path to work out how to get mail from TB to Outlook… and boy was it a task and a half… not satisfied I played around with it all a bit more and use the following method that keeps all the mail fully intact without any date changes etc 🙂

I have Vista, so this applies to Vista users – I have not tested this method on XP or Windows 7 but can see no reason why it would not work with them as well.  Note use Windows Mail and NOT Windows Live Mail for this process.

1. OK 1st up you will need the Import/Export add-on for Thunderbird (see: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/2474)

2. Once you have that you will want to export any mail you wish to move to Outlook into a folder for each folder or mailbox you have in Thunderbird… depending on how long you have been using TB this may take a while.  You need to export them in EML format.

3. Once the exporting is done you will need to go to where you exported them and then you will find that within each folder is a folder called messages.  This Messages folder will contain all the EML files.  Rename that Messages folder to the name you want it to be (usually the same as the folder above it but without the numbers etc.

4.  Now copy that folder with the EML files to your Windows Mail Profile folder, something like C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\Local Folders.

5. Open up Windows Mail, and it should now find each folder and message within it, it may take a little while so give it time….  be patient, there is no bar to watch it happen but it is happening so give it time… wait until it finishes finding them.  If you want to import them as all Read you can tell Windows Mail to mark them as read under the EDIT menu for Windows Mail.

6. Then go to Outlook (2007 is what I have and use) and set up an initial email account – any account just make it a POP account as that is what worked best for me – if you do not have one get a temp Hotmail one and set it up for POP and not HTTP.

7. Now within Outlook select FILE from the menu and select Import and Export…  From the pop up window select Import Mail and Addresses.  Select Next and untick Import Address book and select the Outlook/Windows Mail option from the above list.  Then select Finish and woot all your mail you put in that folder now imports into your inbox (or the folder names you used) of your Outlook account.

8. Now move that mail wherever you want it within Outlook – even to another account if you want.

9. Ok now for the next trick we want to delete the mail we just imported, you cannot just delete it via explorer (I tried), reopen Windows Mail (if it is not open already) and select the first message you want deleted and use CTRL D – hold it down and it will quickly delete all the mail in that list – do not use your DELETE key as you will (not sure why) get errors.

10.  Close Windows mail and your now ready to use Outlook – sweet

Seems long winded but it is simple to follow once you have done it a few times and it keeps all your mail, attachments and dates all correctly.

Happy mailing all 🙂

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Back to Windows… for now :(

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Yes the title is correct, and while I was a 95% convert to linux (Ubuntu) I have had to return to windows.  Why you ask?  Well various reasons but mainly due to time and the need to keep dropping back in and out of Windows too often.  I need to make it clear first up that it is not linux or the linux communities fault for my return to Windows but more a lack of support from the larger software companies to support a growing linux market.

So let me get down to my reasons as I am sure any hard core linux user is shaking his/her head in disbelief 🙂

Web browsing and e-mail – worked flawlessly as I was able to use the same applications as I did in Windows (Firefox and Thunderbird)

Web Development – HTML/XHTML – I was generally happy using Bluefish to replace my long and well used Homesite, and while it was not in my opinion as good as Homesite it was still usable and I could live with it.

Web Development – CSS – This is one of those things that really bugged me, I have been a long time user of Topstyle Pro as it fits great with Homesite.  On my hunt for a comparable product in linux the best that could be had was CSSed, not bad but far from a great CSS editor.  While other editors existed I did not find one that even came close to TopStyle, however in the attempt to remain with linux I utilised the CSS functions within BlueFish.

Graphics Work – I have been a long time Photoshop (and previously Paint Shop Pro) user, so this was one area I thought I would have trouble with.  However to my surprise Gimp provided a very effective and fully functional comparable (or even better) product.  I must hand it to the guys over at Gimp land for a fantastic product – excellent work.  So if your in need of a graphics or photo application save your money and get Gimp.

PDF Creation and editing – This was a big issue for me as I constantly had to command line options (ImageMagick) to convert files from PDF to other formats as there appeared to be a bug in the conversion process (Poppler) that would cause quite poor gradient and transparency conversions, especially if you wanted to convert from PDF to PNG/JPG.  Creating PDFs was a breeze as you can do that from any application, however editing them is a little more difficult.  There is simply no editor that is as feature rich as Adobe Acrobat and for what I need I needed that ability to be perfect.  This is probably my main reason for having to go back to Windows for now.

Accounting – While GnuCash is there and it works well I find Quickbooks to be more intuitive and easier to use (I am not an accountant and don’t wish to be).  I will have to admit here though I did not give GnuCash a good enough chance to grow on me.

DVD Backup – This might be more my lack of experience with linux than an issue with the selection of linux applications, however where my time is limited I needed a simply backup solution that worked.  I tried various solutions available but I ended up having to boot back into Windows to make the copies needed – I now have plenty of coasters….. This would have to be the second main reasons for going back to Windows.

Video Capture – One of the things I do is convert video to DVD (tape to DVD) and I have a solution here to do that that I was not able to get working well in linux.  While I got it to work and recognise the USB connection that connects to the Video player the streaming through to the recording and then to DVD was not equal to what I could do on Windows – again this might be my lack of knowledge with the linux command line options, but again I did not have time to learn it all at this time.

HD Video Capture – First was to try and get linux to recognise my HG21, ok did that.  Then to download the videos which seemed to take forever but the same in Windows also – they are very large files.  Now to convert to other formats for SD and YouTube etc.  This took a heck of a lot of time, so much that I had to stop, however I will say that the end result was so much better than windows that I am setting up a dedicated machine just for this.  Kino is just great 🙂

Printing – wow and fantastic – CUPS makes sharing printers a snap – great work 🙂

Office – While it is not MS Office 2007 I found that Open Office was more than sufficient, however sharing files with others in the office would be a little annoying having to save as .doc and .xls etc so that they can be shared.  I actually liked the more simplistic layout as it gave me what I needed without having to fumble around with the Office 2007 ribbon trying to find how to format, replace and modify content.

Audio editing – Audicity works just as good in Linux as it did in Windows 🙂

Wacom Tablet – Arghhh this was a real pain.  I tried everything to get this working in linux as it does in Windows – maybe that is the issue I cannot get it to replicate what it does in Windows.  I read through and (tried) to follow the tutorials on how to set it up from the wacomproject, I even contacted Wacom support with little help.  While I got the pen to work, the buttons and the circle of my Bamboo Fun did not and could not get to work.

FTP – This was a pain initially I started to having to use gFTP but wanted to use FileZilla but I was using the 64bit version of Ubuntu and FileZilla would not install, however I found a way via the online forums to get it to work – wonderful 🙂

Synchronise/Backup – A major requirement for us is the ability to synchronise/backup our data.  Now having all been Windows to now having a linux box in the mix I still needed to be able to synchronise two machines on a regular basis.  While a storage server (it is coming) would be a better option we at this stage (budget) backup each others data to each others alternative computer.  In Windows I have used SyncBack for years – works flawlessly on every file, hidden and system and also open files.  Unison was what I tried to get working as the alternative which worked after many tedious attempts at configuring it.

The rest of what I used I got use to in linux quite quickly… so why did I convert back to Windows you ask as the above seems quite convincing to stay with linux.

Well computability was the main issue, second is time for having to go back to the terminal to run command line options that I could do in Windows with a single click (yes I know I could script but the options would change nearly every time) as well as the main two points above being my work with PDF files and video capture.  While I did run a dual boot and could also use virtual Box for Windows the need to either boot back up into Windows or use the virtual window was becoming more a pain than an asset.  I know it might seem like a minor reason but that is that.  I still have a Ubuntu (and I am about to try Mandriva) boot option my daily computer work is with Windows.

I will I am sure make the permanent move to linux over the next 12 months as I need to keep my costs down and to be totally honest my PC ran swifter, faster and well… just nicer under linux.

So you can call me a just about linux user, it nearly had me converted and as it continues to mature with the fantaistic community it has more people like myself will move over to linux as the preferred OS of choice.

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95% linux user :)

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Following on from last post I thought I’d add a new post to say I am now a linux (ubuntu) convert.   I have given it a real go and so far I am very impressed with it giving my PC a new lease on life with far superior execution times and file handling.

As the title suggests I am 95% converted as I still need Windows for a few applications, although I am sure I will soon find replacements for them soon.

What I was using to what I am using;

Firefox -> Firefox
Thunderbird Email -> Thunderbird Email
Photoshop CS4 -> Gimp
Filezilla -> gFTP
Homesite -> Bluefish
MS Office -> Open Office
Syncback SE Pro -> Unison
MSN -> Pidgin

What I am still looking for are;

Quickbooks -> while GnuCash is there I prefer Quickbooks and so does my accountant, probably simply use WINE to run it in Windoes mode within ubuntu 🙂
TopStyle -> I am using cssed but it is far from TopStyle, might just be a case of get use to it 🙂
Adobe Premier and Encore -> not yet replaced… have an idea?

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To go Linux or stay with MS Windows?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

One of the things I often do is read many of the forums for both Microsoft Windows and also Linux and read through the debates on what is better for what.  There is no question that if your a gamer MS Windows is the choice OS to use, but what about everything else non game?

I am tired of the fanboi Linux users that simply bag Microsoft as the evil business just for the sake of doing so and trying to make themselves appear geeky by saying linux rules.  Don’t get me wrong I am not an MS fanboi, or linux for that matter.  I have used Mac OS’s Linux OS’ and of course the Windows variety with my main PC now running dual boot Ubuntu and Vista.  But at this stage I am probably using Vista more than I use Ubuntu.

It is not that I don’t like Linux it is the familiarity of the applications I have and continue to use on Windows.  There is also this niggling fact that I own a paid for version of Vista and I kind of think well I own it so why not use it.

It is also a case of comparing what linux is trying to be, now lets face it the GUI is based on MS Windows with a little Mac OSX thrown in.  Will linux just become a Windows clone which in turn is becoming a Mac clone?  If I take ubuntu 9.04 as an example it really is an OS that is probably smack in the middle of both the Mac and MS OS’s – but is that a good thing or not?

To try and define what is better that the other is a personal choice.  I will say however that for general use the Ubuntu 9.04 install is very fast compared to Vista, but with Vista to try and compare I have many background processors running – these mainly being the firewall. virus scanner, malware checking and spyware watcher – apart from that it works a treat.  This is where linux does shine, in that if I was to go pure linux the need for those scanners is pretty much gone as linux is not as open to those issues as windows is.

So my dilemma is do I continue to use Windows Vista and when its released update to Windows 7 or do I start the major switch to linux….. tough call really and I am not sure where I stand (yet) – so what do you use and why do you use it?  I am not interested in the fanboi issues, I want to know the real reasons for your choice of OS.

There is obviously a cost factor here, in that to continue operating windows I will need to update at a cost to me , whilst with linux the updates will always be free – so long as they keep providing those updates.

Hmm to go linux or stay with MS Windows?

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Replacement Icons for 7-zip (ver 2)

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I have had quite a few people wanting to use the icons I put together to replace the default awful looking 7-zip ones with many requests for the dll for the 64-bit version.  Instead of trying to keep pace with the 7-zip updates what I have now done is simple created the icons and added a file to change the registry entries for the links to each icon that 7-zip uses.

The icons are simply ‘ico’ files within an icon folder, of which after you have installed 7-zip you copy the ‘icon’ folder to your 7-zip install folder, for example c:/Program Files/7-zip/ and then run/open the registry file in the archived linked below (you may need to confirm as an admin user to do this).  To show the new icons simply log-off your windows account, log back in and presto your icons are now a little nicer than the default ones 🙂

Feel free to share the zip file below, any link backs are very much appreciated 🙂

7zip Replacement Icons

7zip Replacement Icons

7z Download the replacement icons

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EU Antitrust case against Microsoft…

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

It has been many years that we have all been reading about the various antitrust cases against Microsoft for one thing or another, basically because they have a greater market share than their competitors.  While I agree competition is needed I do feel that Microsoft is simply a target that is too easy to hit.

The why, the how or the where it came from is the past in my view of what Microsoft is today. It has a greater market share than its rivals because it has a great marketing tool, easy to use software and is now the most familiar and more user friendly OS and system to use for the average computer user, and this includes Internet Explorer.  While many will claim it is buggy, and has errors etc the fact is that if any other OS or browser had the market share that Microsoft has then you would be hearing they have just as many bugs etc.

Before you comment let me first say I don’t use IE except for testing, I use and have for quite a few years used Firefox.  I also tried Google’s Chrome, and while it was all nice and shiny and seemed great to load it, in my own personal view, did not live up to my expectations and my familiarity with using Firefox with my commonly used extensions.

I use a Windows PC as my main work platform, actually all our PC’s run the various Windows versions from 98SE through to Vista Home Premium.  Why do we use WIndows versus linux vs apple.  Well without starting an OS debate and without starting a browser war the fact is that we are happy with how Windows works, we use windows applications as they install, integrate and work very well with the OS and, well, like I said we are familiar and comfortable with it.

The other night I was sitting with my kids and they were watching a DVD, WALL-E, and while sitting there I was thinking that while a cartoon the monopoly of BnL is kind of similar to many peoples/companies fear of Microsoft, in that I think there are too many that fear Microsoft will become the be all and end all of software.  Could it do that, well yes it could, but with all these antitrust  cases I guess the big companies like Google will try and stop that happening, not that I think it will happen anyway.

Google joins EU Anti-trust Case...

Google joins EU Anti-trust Case...

Also with Google now in the mix of the EU case, could Microsoft turn around and do something similar to Google and file an antitrust or monopoly type of case against Google as they are the primary and most used search engine and online email… just to mention a couple.  I mean just the other day there was panic with Google mail being down.

My view on a lot of this is that if the other providers like Google, Mozilla and Opera want a greater market share then they need to ensure they have a better tool for others to use.  While I think Firefox is a better browser the average person either does not know it exists or does not like how it works, it really is that simple.  I have family that I have tried to convert to Firefox, note convert – you actually have to forcibly get them to use another browser, but in the end I gave up, why did they not swap over well they liked how IE worked, they liked how IE looked and they were comfortable and familiar with it.

Is it Microsoft’s fault that people do not use Firefox, Chrome or Opera, no of course it isn’t.  I understand that Microsoft have their browser built into the Windows OS, which gives a perceived advantage but it IS their OS, it is their right to have their browser.  I mean your not going to go into a BMW dealer and buy a BMW car and have a Honda interior are you – so really what is the difference.  Ok so that is not quite the same but you get the idea.

I also realise Windows has the greater market share, so therefore so has IE, but I still come back to the fact that Mozilla, Opera, Google etc have themselves to blame for not having greater market share, they need to take responsibility for their own actions, get out to the greater market, develop a new OS based on Linux if they must, offer a true alternative to Windows, offer a true alternative to IE that every average person can use without having to get add-ons, without having to learn what a linux kernal is or similar.  They need to be simple, easy and available.

Or maybe just sit down with Microsoft and say, hey guys would you mind including our browser in your Windows install and thus give the end user the choice of browser they want to use – not that they have to in my view but it may be as simple as that.

I’m sure this will spark much debate as it has over the years, which is great but keep it clean 🙂

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Google Chrome takes off…

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Wow pretty much sums it up for Google Chrome.  Google Chrome is you guessed it a new Google product, it is a web browser that simply has to be tried to be believed.  It is lightweight, fast and very simple to use.

Download Google Chrome.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

While still in BETA (as at the date of this post) it is polished enough for every day use, but with the disclaimer that this is a BETA, I would not be using it just yet for secure sites like net banking just yet.

I have been a Firefox fan for as long as Firefox has been around and have been a staunch advocate telling everyone to use Firefox, however that may be soon changing as so far I see no reason not to use this faster more sleeker Google Chrome (GC).

As a developer I use Firefox for a number of tasks that require a few plugins, notable the most used is Firebug.  At first I thought that FF will continue to be needed as I need Firebug for my daily work, but then I found the right click inspect element feature of GC – and this is nearly as good as Firebug.  Nearly i that Firebug is still better but I am sure GC when it has a final release will be even better if the BETA is anything to go by.

So will this end the continued growth of Firefox and stop Internet Explorer from being so dominant?  Who knows but I can say from the many forums and blogs I read there are many already making the switch with GC already taking 1% of the browser market within 24 hours.

When installing it will import almost everything from your Firefox or Internet Explorer settings, pages visited, passwords, favourites/bookmarks and so on.  I have read some had trouble with this, if you do un-tick the browser history tick box as that seems to be the problem in most cases.  It installs quickly and is setup in next to no time.

Your home page when you start it is a little different in that it is a set of thumbnail views of the pages you have most and last visited.  This can be quite helpful to go back to where you were before, or yeterday etc.  I however use a home page I made myself and prefer to use that, so in the settings (the little spanner in the top right of the browser) I selected options and then in the home page part selected ‘open this page’ and entered the URL of my home page and then also ticked the show home page button on the toolbar.

Bookmarks access is a little annoying to me, you need to CTRL B each time to show and then hide them, which is fine but the CTRL B can conflict with other editor hot keys.  It would be better to allow again a toolbar button for bookmarks (optional activate), but I guess this is part of Goggles attempt to keep GC very simple.

Like any software there are a few bugs to iron out for Google and a few tweaks users can make to make it work for them.  But for the most part I am very happy with the BETA and look forward to future releases.

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Replacement Icons for 7-Zip

Monday, September 1st, 2008

I have been an avid fan of 7-Zip for quite sometime but the only thing that I feel it lacks is a good set of icons as the icons currently built into 7-Zip are very drab and plain and well I like nice icons 🙂 .

For those that do not know what 7-Zip is, it is a replacement for Winzip, in fact in my view it is better as it is so much faster, has better compression and best of all it is free (donations are appreciated 🙂 )

So anyway here are a set of icons I created based on a plain zip icon, they are fairly common but slightly different to the base style with the 7z logo (very small) added to them and the compression type across the cabinet in different colours so you can visually see the compression type.

Sorry these are only in ico windows format.

Download Replacement 7-Zip Icons

I edited my 7z.dll file to include them as part of 7-Zip – I used Reshack to do this.  Otherwise just use the inbuilt windows icon replacement function via the file type properties.

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Running your old applications in Vista is easy!

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

I am often asked why an application that was running fine on XP will not run on Vista and my reply is it will.  Needless to say the person asking the question will get into a flap and say that I am wrong and they have tried to get an application to run in Vista but it will not work.

OK to be clear here in some cases you cannot get it to run ‘in’ Vista but you can get it to run ‘on’ a Vista PC.

There are a number of ways to get any application to run on Vista and to date I have not yet found one that will not run on Vista (please note I am talking about applications that are not older than Windows 98SE).  Here are what I have used, I am sure there are others but the first two here have always worked for me.

  • Run in Compatibility Mode
  • Virtual PC
  • Run as Administrator
  • Dual Boot PC

Running an Application in Compatibility Mode

If you have an application that will not run in Vista the first trick up your sleeve thanks to the good backward compatibility (that every complains it doe snot have) Vista has is the Compatibility mode.

Locate your application in your Windows Menu and right click it (I am assuming the software has installed ok) and select Properties, you will get the following window.

Notice the ‘Run this in compatability mode for’ tick box.  Select it and then the drop down menu item will become active.

Here you simply select the version of Windows your application was running in and then select the Apply button.

Try your application, often this is enough to have it running well, however if it is still not able to run there are still a few more tricks up your sleeve 🙂

Go back to the Properties window of the application and this time select the other options,

Try a few variations and retest your application and I am sure that nearly all applications will run quite happily.

What happens however if Vista will not allow you to install your application as it is for an older version?  This is where a great tool made by Microsoft comes in very handy and since it is a Microsoft application it is going to play nice with Vista.  That tool is Virtual PC – I just love it 🙂

Virtual PC

Microsofts Virtual PC Home Page

Microsoft's Virtual PC Home Page

First of, I need to say that the Microsoft website says that Home Premium is not supported, however I can tell you it will run on Home Premium without any issues (I have not tested on Home Basic) it is simply not supported by Microsoft to run on Home Premium.

Virtual PC can be accessed from the Microsoft website and it is FREE.

Have a read through the information on the Microsoft website for information of what Virtual PC can do.  In summary Virtual PC allows you to run multiple operating Systems on the one physical PC.

Once you have downloaded and installed Virtual PC setting it up is a breeze, it even has a setup wizard that is easy to follow.

Here is a quick guide.

Start Virtual PC, once started it will show you a Console Window.

You can see from the above image that I have already setup two different operating systems, those being Windows 98SE and WIndows XP.  Ok but how do you do this, well first you must have a valid copy of the other operating systems, from this point on I am going to assume you do have these available.

To setup a new Virtual PC select the New button and then a wizard will start to guide you through the process to creating your Virtual PC.  When you get to the options you have three choices, I recommend you choose the ‘Create a Virtual machine’ and then select Next.

Virtual PC OS Choice

Virtual PC OS Choice

Give your new Virtual machine a name – like XPsp3 (for Windows XP Service Pack 3) and then select Next.  You will then be provided a drop down list to select the type of virtual machine you want to add.

As you can see from the image to the right (and on your screen if you are using this gudie as you create your VPC) there is quite a few Operating System (OS) choices.  For Xp select Windows XP.

To the right it has Memory allocation and hard drive allocation – we will adjust these next.  Select the Next button

Select the Adjusting the Ram and then set the ram with the slider to what you want, I recommend minimum of 256MB but 512MB if you have it, then select Next.

Virtual PC Console

Virtual PC Console

The next screen will ask if you already have a Virtual Hard disk, in most cases you will not have one so select the ‘A new virtual hard disk’ and then Next.  You will be given the option now to adjust the size of your hard disk, this is totally up to you and depends what you want your XP virtual PC for.  I use mine mainly for a few older applications that have little hard disc space required so I have set mine to 6000MB.  Select Next and if all is well you wil get the final wizard screen, select Finish and in your Virtual PC box you should see a new entry for XPsp3 (or whatever you called it).

Now you need to install the OS.  Select the Virtual disk and click on the Start button.

A dos style window will appear and it will try and boot your new Virtual PC in that window.  But before you can do this you need to install your OS.  Now for me I had to first select the menu item for CD and select it to ‘Use CD drive’.  I had my XP install disc in the CD drive (bootable version) and it then started the XP setup and I simply installed XP as I would have normally if I was creating it on my PC as the main OS.  When it says to reboot, it means reboot the Virtual PC not your whole computer – which is kind of neat in itself 🙂

Virtual PC opening XP

Virtual PC opening XP

If all goes well with the install you should now have a fully operational Xp (or any other OS) installed and available for use at the same time as your Vista PC.

Now onec it has all started up and is running you will need to treat your XP as if it was a PC on its own, thsi will inlcude any antivirus software, any spyware software, office applications and so on.  It does NOT use your main PC’s virus scanner etc so be warned you need to set them up on the virtual PC.

Installing applications on your Virtual PC is just the same as installing them on your main computers OS.  Just make sure you are working ion your virtual PC when you want to install anything on it, i.e. select it by clicking in your virtual PC window.  To have your cursor go to your main OS, select your right ALT key and your cursor will now be working in your main OS and not the Virtual PC.  To go back to your virtual PC simply select that window to activate it and then click inside the virtual PC screen – easy as that :).

Run as Administrator

OK first off this is probably not the best way but it is something I have had to do a few times to get certain applications to run.

There are some applications that will just not run in XP in normal mode, these are always those applications that are not designed for Vista.  My two are Homesite and Epson Print CD that I use often.

Run As Admin

Run As Admin

To set an application to run in administrator mode is simple enough (and I am assuming you already have administrator rights on your PC, if not then this will not work for you).  Simply select the application within your start menu and right click it and sselect ‘Run as Administrator’, you will get a confirmation screen that you will need to confirm to run as administartor and then the application will run  as administrator and in most cases will now run on Vista where it did not before.

You can also set the application to always run as Asministrator by again right click the application but this time select Properties.  At the bottom of that window wil be a select box to run as administrator.  Select OK and it will now always run as Administartor, however the confirm screen will pop up each time you run the application.

Dual Boot PC.

Not for the uneducated but can be very handy if you want to run for example Windows Vista and a Linux OS.

You will have to partition your existing hard disc into two parts and assign one to Vista and the other to the other OS you wish to use.  I have not yet had a need for a dual boot PC so I am not going to go through a run down of how this is done, there are plenty of sites on the net that help you, here is one for setting up a dual boot PC with Windows and Ubuntu – https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WindowsDualBoot.

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When to buy Vista so it doesn’t suck!

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I have a number of PC’s at my disposal with both Vista Home Premium and XP Professional running on them.  My main PC is running Vista with a quad core CPU with 4GB Ram as I do a fair bit of design and graphics work.  My PC was built to run Vista among other things.

I frequent a lot of forums and to be honest I for one am sick of reading the ‘should I upgrade to vista threads’.  These will continue as most people hate to use a search tool on forums and often make a post like this hoping for the answer they want to hear but often see the one they don’t.

The Operating System (OS) you use be that Windows, Linux or Apple is a personal choice, however it is also a hardware choice.  In that I mean you would not try (or should I say you should not) and run Vista for example on a Pentium IV 1.8 ghz PC with 512MB ram (see my note below re minimum requirements).  While it might run (or walk) the computer was never designed to run Vista.

I do a small amount of desktop support mainly for relatives and I am often told that the computer shop salesman said that Vista will run on their old machine.  Just the other week a relative asks me to come over and have a look at their computer as it is all of a sudden running slow.  Well guess what they installed Vista because the salesman told them too.

It would be easy to blame the salesman for saying it should work but I believe it is the user to blame.  My reason is that for any purchase you make be it software, hardware, a car or even a house you should do your homework.  If your PC was bought with XP stay with XP unless you have made some good hardware upgrades.

I know there are also quite a few places that sell new PC’s with Vista that can hardly run Vista very well, this I believe is the salesman and shops fault but again the buyer should ask to see it running with the applications that the client is going to use.  Kind of like taking a car for a test drive.  Just ensure that the computer your testing it on in the shop is exactly the same specifications as what they are selling you and get it in writing if you can.

For those that have already bought it, what to do now that you have Vista?  Well if its an older machine, uninstall it and reinstall XP or update your hardware – plain and simple.

I often have a chuckle to myself about all the bagging Vista gets and will frequently make an argument for Vista rather than against it.  I find Vista far better than XP but again I have a PC that is well above the minimum requirements to run Vista.

Microsoft suggested minimum requirements for Vista

Microsoft suggested minimum requirements for Vista

So what are those minimum requirements you say?  Well this is where it gets interesting as Microsoft on their own site suggests;

  • An 800 MHz processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • A 20 GB hard drive with 15 GB of free space

Well I am here to tell you again while it might run (or crawl) it will not run well and really Microsoft needs a slap to the back of the head for those suggested minimums.

So I looked further and they have additional system requirements recommendations;

Microsoft recommended Vista requirements

Microsoft recommended Vista requirements

For Home Basic

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 512 MB of system memory
  • 20 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics and 32 MB of graphics memory

For Home Premium / Business / Ultimate

  • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 GB of system memory
  • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15 GB of available space
  • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with:
    • WDDM Driver
    • 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)
    • 32 bits per pixel

Again in my opinion these are still too low and should not be recommended as minimums.

My suggested minimum is;

  • Intel or AMD CPU at 2.4ghz or better, dual or quad core preferred (32 or 64 bit)
  • 2GB DDR2 ram
  • 160GB harddrive – but with hard drives so cheap go to 500GB
  • 256MB PCI-E video card

If you have those minimums the PC will run very well with Vista.  If you do not have anything close to that by all means try Vista but please please don’t complain on your local newsgroup or forums that Vista sucks as you should be using XP.

I am also sure that those that read this post will want to bag MS no matter what they do and that is your choice but please do that elsewhere, I for one am quite happy using MS products such as Vista and will probably continue to do so for a long time…

So does Vista suck?  Well no, not in my view.  I find it far better than XP and more intuitive once you get use to the few ‘minor’ layout changes and where things are.  I also find it handles multi tasking far better with little to no memory issues with many many windows open (remember I have 4GB) whil eon XP I continually had memory issues even with 3GB+ ram.

Crystalxp.net Bricopacks

Crystalxp.net Bricopacks

Visually Vista is nicer than XP but that should not be the only reason to go Vista, if that is your only reason for wanting Vista then there are many sites where you can get a Vista theme for your XP that will turn your XP machine into a virtual Vista one – the best is CrystalXP.

Personally I have never had an issue with Vista and while many are already looking ahead to Windows 7 please bear in mind that when that arrives that too will have its own issues and minimum system requirements and I am sure the same people that are bagging Vista will bag Windows 7.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be interested to read any of your similar stories…

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