Tag Archives: Windows

Computer support 101: Back to basics of computer tech

McGuire twins on motorcyclesThis is a temporary post containing several pieces of what will probably be separate posts in the near future. (I’m putting this out there prematurely so I can quickly and easily refer to this information from any computer on my new home network!)

What is Mini Linux?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Linux distro: a distribution or particular implementation of the Linux OS (operating system) prepackaged with a few applications and a basic GUI (graphical user interface, aka desktop).

A few of the more popular distros of Mini Linux (lightweight Linux) include:

  • Damn Small Linux
  • Crunchbang
  • Lubuntu
  • Puppy Linux
  • Slitaz
  • Tiny Core Linux
  • Unity Linux
  • VectorLinux

Resources: What is Mini Linux?
Mini Linux Distros – Yellow Crayon
8 of the best tiny Linux distros: Less is more in the world of low-resource distros – Tech Radar (Apr 2010)
Lubuntu – Wikipedia
Damn Small Linux (DSL) community wiki
About DSL

Using ISO/ image files for live CDs, bootable floppies

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RawWrite for Windows
RawWrite (or rawrite) is an essential tool for creating boot disks and other floppy disk images; most traditional rawwrite programs do not run under modern versions of Windows, which is where RawWriteWin comes in.

Resources: Using ISO/ image files for live CDs, bootable floppies
Can I install an ISO file without burning it to a CD?
RawWrite for Windows
Boot Floppies – Damn Small Linux
The All In One Boot Floppy

File compression freeware

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Until recently, I would not have cared much about whether my freeware could run on systems other than Windows. However, as a green Linux Ubuntu fan and promoter, I choose 7-Zip portable as the number-one file compression and archival utility due to its rave reviews, active support, and its ability to run on Windows and Linux!

According to CNET
For years, 7-Zip has been one of our favorite Windows utilities. We recently looked at 7-Zip Portable, a fully portable version of the freeware file zipper. Like the installed version, it can compress and decompress files and folders in a variety of ways as well as open other file types such as TAR and RAR files. The portable version is small enough to take along with you on a USB drive, iPod, or other portable device. The chief difference with the installed version is the portable version can’t be integrated into context menus in Windows.

Resources: File compression freeware
File compression utilities – Freeware Guide
Five Best File Compression Tools – Lifehacker
Best Free File Archiver-Zip Utility – Gizmo’s Freeware
7Zip – portable version!
7-Zip official home

Computer support 101: Getting back into technology

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Resources: Great technical resources
All Boot Disks – Excellent resource for Microsoft Windows, DOS image files for boot disks; Excerpt: AllBootDisks.com is your number one FREE resource for all Microsoft boot disks.
We offer a boot disk for everything from MS-DOS 3.3 to Windows XP Professional. These disks can be used to setup a new hard drive, scan an existing hard drive for errors, install or re-install Windows, upgrade your PC’s BIOS, run DOS utilities and much more.
Boot Disk – Essential utilities, boot files, techware for Windows/DOS and also Linux, Minilinux
Linux disks – Boot Disk

Toshiba Satellite PS141U-01F3WV

Thursday, October 25, 2012
A good friend of mine gave me an ancient laptop that was just gathering dust at his place: it’s a Toshiba Satellite PS141U-01F3WV.

It only has Service Pack 1 of Windows XP Home — and for whatever reason, that version of Windows (or at least this particular installation) seems to essentially cripple the poor thing. I get error messages when i try to install Chrome and Firefox and most other Windows programs. This sad little machine cannot even successfully boot to an Ubuntu live CD without serious, usually show-stopping errors.

For this reason, I am doing some research on alternate booting and installation methods such as booting over the LAN or creating bootable floppy disks — assuming I still possess a few of those & that its floppy drive actually works! (If not, then I will have to make LAN booting work.)

Booting via network
The network boot protocol (NBP) is set to PXE, which stands for Preboot eXecution Environment. According to Wikipedia, some techies pronounce this as “pixie”. PXE is the most common standard in the small world of network boot protocols.

Resources: Toshiba Satellite PS141U-01F3WV
Update page including the BIOS
Toshiba forum
Preboot eXecution Environment – Wikipedia
Network Boot Protocols – Intel
A Crash Course on Windows Booting – XXclone
BIOS Settings
XXCLONE — Copies (clones) your Windows system disk into another disk with the system files, installed applications, and all of your data files; free version available
What Is Network Booting (PXE) and How Can You Use It? How-To Geek
PXE booting
PXE Boot Windows XP, Windows 7 and Vista with CCBoot – CCBoot
Network Booting via PXE: the Basics – DevShed
The basics of how PXE works
Practical PXE solutions
Technical specs for PXE (PDF) – Intel

Windows forensic freeware

Today I was examining unlabeled CDs and DVDs before tossing them, and I began to wonder whether there was any freeware that might help me determine more precisely the contents of these discs. Although I never did proceed any further, I thought I’d at least share the resources I found.

Resources: Forensic freeware for Windows

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Windows check disk utility: Let it run!

When Windows automatically starts its disk checking utility, do not bypass it – let that mother run!

As I worked on an important new internet marketing proposal this morning, my desktop PC crashed hard: another dreaded BSOD, the first one in a while.

My finicky desktop is infamous for its occasional bouts of crashing; it’s something I have had to live with for a while now, until such time as I am able to purchase a new model. Normally after these crashes occur, the computer soon operates normally again – sometimes after a check disk, sometimes not.

But this time it was different.

When Windows rebooted this time, neither the Microsoft Excel nor Microsoft Word applications would start. This is a major problem, as I maintain numerous critical documents in both programs.

This situation has served to teach me at least one lesson: when Windows automatically starts the disk check utility, do not bypass it – let it run!

For now I am using Google Docs; it’s excellent. I have also just downloaded the latest stable Windows installation package of Open Office.

How to view compressed (zipped) photos

Pixie, the wonderful Dale doggie, on Christmas morning 2011I recently emailed a batch of digital Christmas photos to my sister. As usual, I zipped them up. That is, I compressed the photos into a smaller package – the standard, efficient way to send sets of images as email attachments.

My assumption – that she had previously encountered zipped (compressed) files, knew how to work with them, or that Windows would open the compressed photos for her automatically – was wrong. :O (It is easy to take such things for granted – and making assumptions is not a good habit…)

This short post was converted from the instructions I quickly compiled and emailed to my sister. I hope this content clearly explains the simple steps that even a computing noob (i.e., a beginner) can follow in order to handle zipped/compressed files successfully – on a Windows machine, at least.

Quick and easy instructions for handling compressed files:

Pixie, the wonderful Dale doggie, on Christmas morning 2011

  1. Open the email to which the ZIP archive (collection of digital photos) is attached
  2. Save the ZIP file to the specific folder where you prefer to store your photos (My Pictures, for instance)
  3. Use Windows Explorer [1] to navigate to the My Pictures folder
  4. Right-click on the zipped file
  5. Choose Extract (or Unzip or Decompress – it varies depending on what your default compression software is)
  6. Windows will go about unzipping (decompressing) the collection of images, which can then be viewed however you prefer to view pictures on your computer

[1] Right-click on the Windows Start button, choose Explore (or Windows Explorer, or something similar – depends on Windows version)

The doggie photos

The subject of both photos on this page is dear, sweet little Pixie, the beloved, five-pound micro-dog of my sister’s family – the Dales – as she appeared and behaved on Christmas morning of 2011! NOTE: As with most posts on my blogs, if you click your browser’s Refresh button, you may see different images – in this case, of the dear, petit canine!

This post is closely related to another entitled Using the context menu to view details on Windows PCs.