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Archive for January, 2010

Had an email from iolo this morning asking me, as preferred customer (sic), to PREVIEW their new, Premium Service.

It is a phone-based support scheme. Curious, as ever, I checked it out. IT AMUSED ME.

For $29.95 somebody purporting to be an iolo rep. (but most likely my 4th cousin in Sri Lanka working for an outsourcing firm) will walk you through a full run of System Mechanic. [It is not clear whether the $29.95 for the one-time call gets you anything other than a 30-day trial of System Mechanic 9.5.5.]

For the $29.95 they also CLAIM to offer an one-time service for … among other things … INSTALLING Windows. That could be a deal, though I am not really sure my 4th cousin knows too much about Windows 7 … other than that he probably has 7 windows in his house in Kotte.

This is OBVIOUSLY not for me.

I am NO LONGER a System Mechanic customer nor fan. [But, I will readily acknowledge that System Mechanic never did me any harm, over a 6-7 year period, when I used it with XP.]

Reading their ‘informecial’ blurb, and I won’t provide the link because I do not in any way appear to be encouraging let alone endorsing this ‘service,’ it sure appears that the ‘Super Tune-Up’ is NOTHING other than a full run through of all the System Mechanic tools — and it amuses me that, quite coyly, iolo does NOT mention anything about virus removal. They know that trouble shooting viruses could be beyond the pay grade of my 4th cousin. They might have to hire my 2nd cousin who comes from a house with 14 windows.

OK. Jokes apart. They are those that need this hand-holding. $29.95 might not be a bad price. I regularly check my local CraigsList to see the types of services being offered around here. Yes, there are a LOT of clowns out there. Yes, there are those that boast that they will set you up with pirated software. Worse still you might end up with an undesirable character in YOUR house, on YOUR PC. Just before Christmas I saw a post in CL by somebody from an adjoining town offering Professional PC Support. The wording and the location made me ‘suspicious.’ I called the cell phone number that was listed. Got v-mail. BINGO.

It was a local ‘doctor’ (I won’t mention his exact specialty because that would NAIL HIM) arrested last February on a very serious RAPE charge. They yanked his license. He can’t practice as a doctor — and more significantly write any more prescriptions. But, he can advertise on CL … to come to YOUR house and work on YOUR PC. Yes, he has not been convicted. He is innocent until proven guilty. But, IF he showed up on your doorstep and you suddenly recognized that you had seen him on TV last year … that would not have been funny. Worse still. He comes. He is a ‘fun’ guy. You let him work on your PC. You let him take it home to really fix it. In June you are watching WMUR (our local TV) and you suddenly see his face on TV … the court case has finally begun. I assume you would not be too amused.

So, compared to hiring somebody unknown from CL, paying $29.95 to have my 4th cousin walk you through System Mechanic might not be a bad deal … plus with the exception of me, all my relatives are mild mannered, very polite, not sarcastic and talk proper (without my heavy accent).

BOTTOM LINE: System Mechanic 9.5.5, TuneUp Utilities 2010 & Auslogics

I DO NOT think System Mechanic 9.5.5 is Windows 7 ready. That is why I uninstalled it.

Based on my ‘limited’ testing, albeit just on XP SP3, I do not think TuneUp Utilities 2010 is an incisive, industrial-strength offering. From what I have seen, and I could be wrong, TuneUp Utilities is a waste of time.

I continue to play with the Auslogics products. I used their Disk Defrag on this Windows 7 machine a couple of hours ago. I will confess that they certainly possess a jen se quoi. They somehow inspire a degree of confidence (which is kind of strange because most Aussies, in person, only seem to signal … let’s party, party, party, till we all pass out … which, in general, is fine with me). More on this later this week. Got to take the kids to Disney on Ice. So, my last thoughts. iolo. Lie Low. Skating on ice. Question is whether it is thin ice.

Good luck. All the best. Cheers.

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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KB977074 continues to confound a growing number of users. I can’t ever remember seeing as much frenzy related to a periodic update — especially given that per Microsoft it was only trying to fix three relatively innocuous problems. I am not alone in believing that MSFT probably tried to do something ‘cute’ with KB977074 that backfired. I have seen some speculate that with KB977074 MSFT was trying to lay the groundwork for potentially trapping pirated copies.

The KB977074 uninstall instructions I posted seem to have helped. At least one reader has confirmed that he was able to roll back the update using the built-in uninstall update capability.

I have been checking on a regular basis to see if MSFT is responding to this increasingly anguished outcry against KB977074. They haven’t as yet — at least from what I can find.

But I found this POTENTIAL workaround for Windows update problems. It is recent. Last updated January 5, 2010. Some of the suggested workarounds fall into the ‘make sure your computer is powered on’ category BUT there could be SOMETHING in here that applies to YOUR situation.

IF YOU could PLEASE share feedback, it will help others — given that MSFT, obviously, is not that interested in helping us.

Thanks. All the bets. Good luck.

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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Anura Guruge Dual Monitor Configuration

The Very Different Aspect Ratios Of My Two Monitors

I have now had a dual monitor set up on my Windows 7 Professional rig for just over three months. Getting the dual monitor working, successfully, with Windows 7 proved to be quite easy — for which I am thankful.

On the whole the dual monitor works WELL. There have been a few oddities but none were show stoppers. Yet again, I am thankful for that. << If you want to read all my posts on dual monitor with Windows 7, PLEASE do a SEARCH using the ‘Search Bar’ on the top right of this blog using the search string ‘dual monitor. >>

I see at least one hit a day on this blog emanating from a Web search involving the phrase ‘dual monitor.’ So I want to help out as much as possible.

Though I have the desktop stretched across both monitors, I use the left hand monitor essentially as a ‘surrogate.’ The right hand monitor, 24″ HD, is my main monitor — and as such has the task bar. Nearly all the time I run one instance each of FireFox on each monitor, each instance with at least 6 tabs. That way I can have two tabs visible at all times.

Until yesterday I never tried extending a single window across both monitors. I knew it would work, but I didn’t have a need.

Yesterday, I tried extending Word 2007 across both monitors. It worked. I am indexing a book. Right now the index, in 8 pt Franklin Gothic Book is 9 page table. I wanted to display as many pages as possible so that I could bang in page numbers without scrolling — the index key words already having been typed in. Yep, I could get 4 pages across two monitors. But my monitors have different resolutions. This meant the page sizes were different. But, it worked.

But, displaying 4 pages wasn’t as productive as I had hoped. So I reduced the Window size and turned off the Office 2007 Ribbon.

If I have about 3/4″ of the Word 2007 window spilt across on to the left hand monitor, I can display two pages of my index on my main monitor at 100%. That is what I have been doing for the last two days. Works. Just wanted to share that with you.

Good luck. Thanks. Cheers.

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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Wow! Something seems to have gone awry with yesterdays KB977074 update. I haven’t, touch wood, had any problems as yet or at least, anything that I am aware of.

As said yesterday, it seemed somewhat of an innocuous, half-hearted — even flaccid — initiative by Microsoft. The three problems that it CLAIMED to fix did not appear to be even CLOSE to the more serious ones being experienced by Windows 7 users.

A few hours after my post I noticed I was getting lots of hits from folks doing a search on “KB977074 failure” or similar. So, I Googled it too. Wow. Lots of entries. Lots of concerns.

Lot of people were asking HOW they can uninstall the KB977074 Update. Though I have never uninstalled an update, I can help.

I had seen this option many times given that I like to spend time checking out the Windows 7 Action Center.

Basically you can get to this UNINSTALL UPDATE option from the Action Center or the Control Panel. << Use the highlighted ‘sequence’ above if you have to. >>

Or, easier still just go to the Action Center. Bottom, left-hand … you should see ‘Windows Update’. Click on that. On the next screen, bottom left AGAIN. ‘Installed Updates’. That would get you to what I show above. Select KB977074 and click uninstall. In theory, Bob will be your uncle.

I assume, and I could be wrong, that Microsoft does this uninstall by going to a RESTORE POINT prior to applying the update. I am not a great believer in going back to old restore points. But, in this instance, I would think about doing a manual restart from a prior restore point than letting MSFT do this uninstall. That is only my opinion.

For a second yesterday, based on some phrases I saw on blog postings, I thought that MAYBE KB977074 only worked on legit copies of Windows 7. Not so. MSFT, as we know, is COMMITTED to fully supporting any and all pirated copies of Windows 7. Given this largess on the part of MSFT one has to ask why anybody would now BOTHER to buy a legit copy of Windows 7. Per MSFT, legit or pirated … no difference. Only old, honest CHUMPS like me pay for Windows 7. That is OK. On a day the stock market is down 2%, $149 spent on an OEM copy of Windows 7 Professional feels like mere bagatelle.

Well, good luck. Cheers.

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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My Action Center notified me this morning of this Windows 7 update; KB977074.

It was touted as an update to ‘improve the stability and reliability of Windows 7!’ How could I refuse.

But, I still did some checking. Here is a write-up on KB977074 from Microsoft Support.

From what I can see, and PLEASE feel free to correct me, this update ONLY fixes three problems. Here is an actual ‘snapshot’ (gratis Windows 7 Snipper) of what Microsoft claims:

I could, as ever be wrong, but other than the ‘Screen Saver’ problem (which does not apply to me), this DOES NOT look like an update that really does much.

Flaccid comes to mind.

The bit about fixing icon problems intrigues me. But, it does NOT seem to have fixed any of MY icon problems. I still can’t move my Core Temp icon!

<< Late last night, actually early this morning, I did some Googling on Windows 7 and corrupted icons given that I was still aggrieved that my Auslogics Registry Cleaner icon had been ‘nuked.’ Well it appears that as with all my other Windows 7 problems, I am not alone. Appears that this was a problem from Vista carried over to Windows 7 with Microsoft fully aware that they had a bug. Thanks MSFT. >>

So, KB977074. As they would say on Fox News … Walter, Tango, Fox.

What makes it worse is that this is the FIRST bona fide Windows 7 update in two weeks — not counting the Windows Defender Updates. Is this what WE deserve? Is this the BEST that MSFT can do.

One other thing that aggravated me NO END this morning … though I had already bitched about this earlier re. the inconsistencies in the Windows 7 GUI. And this is so pathetic. You can’t SELECT anything within a Windows 7 Action Center screen. All I wanted to do, was copy the number KB977074 — so I didn’t have to type it, and run the risk of getting it wrong; my middle name being ‘TYPO.’ You can’t select ANYTHING. That is so, so stupid.

Well, the joys of Windows 7. Must go down and see what Jobs has announced re. the Tablet. I am taping it. I own APPL. I like Jobs. Jobs is cool. The other Steve is only cool when he is drag.

Good luck. You will need it.

Cheers,

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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This morning, in a slight fit of impetuousness I downloaded Auslogics’ Registry Cleaner on to this Windows 7 rig … and ran it.

Given that I am posting from the same machine, 6 hours later, means that it didn’t blow me out of the water. Actually it went quite well.

Since I had already done it once on a XP machine, I was familiar with what to expect. All went well. It created a Desktop Icon. I don’t like Desktop Icons for applications. So I right clicked and asked it to create a Task Bar icon. It did. << more later on this >>

So let me do this in bullet form to make it as easy to follow as possible:

  1. Did a ‘simple’ scan. It found 116 Registry Errors.
  2. I was able to print their listing of errors. [No, following Microsoft’s great example their GUI is lacking. But CTRL+A works. I then copied the list and printed it.]
  3. Checked the list. Lots of invalid file types. Wow. Here is but a partial list: .aswcs (Avast), .asws (Avast), .csk (Claris?) .dif (data interchange?), .dv (digital video), .prf et. al. Well, I know where the Avast extensions came from. The rest is a mystery. Told it to delete the entries. It said it did.
  4. Me being who I am, I now restarted the PC to make sure that it could still be booted. Come on. I admit it. I am the cynic’s cynic.
  5. When the system came up I noticed ONE THING that made me very unhappy. The Registry Cleaner icon on the task bar was CORRUPTED. Not good.
  6. I tried to restore it. No luck.
  7. I looked in Windows START to see what I got on the program menu. That icon was corrupted too << as you can see from this screen shot >>
  8. I would assume it was Windows 7 that corrupted the icon. Never see that happen. Yes, we have had strange things happening to the Task Bar icons. But this is the first time I have seen an icon get corrupted. Hhhhmmm. Maybe Microsoft has it in for Auslogics. (HP uses a really obnoxious ‘generic’ icon for its duplex printing task … but that isn’t a corrupted icon. Just laziness on the part of HP).
  9. Well, I ran the Registry Cleaner again. This time in Advanced Mode with all categories, including ‘Software’ and ‘Shared DLLs’ enabled. It found 152 additional errors. I printed the list and had a look. Four errors related to System Mechanic. The bona fides of the list looked OK. Plus there is a RESTORE option. Told it to clean them all. It did. Icon is corrupted.
  10. Restarted again. So far so good. Icon still corrupted.
  11. I now downloaded and installed Registry Defrag. Skipped the option to install the ASK tool bar. Pinned an icon to the Task Bar.
  12. Ran it. Showed I had very little defragmentation of the registry.
  13. It refused to perform a compact saying I didn’t need it. That always aggravates me. I could not find an option to FORCE a compaction.
  14. So, ran it again. Same story. Would not let me compact the registry. Not amused. I should have the option of compacting … if I want to.
  15. Cleaner icon, on the Task Bar and on the START menu corrupted. Defrag icon is fine in all places! I removed BOTH from the Task Bar. Didn’t want a corrupted icon on my Task Bar. Does not bode well.

So that was my first experience of Auslogics Registry Cleaner and Defrag on Windows 7.

The corrupted icon spoiled the show and my day.

But, other than that, it went fairly well. Hasn’t made any difference to my performance. But, unlike, System Mechanic it didn’t hang.

Tomorrow, if I have the time, I will try Disk Defrag. I asked my wife, who has a fairly decent 1GB Dell laptop with XP SP3 to try out the Auslogics BootSpeed — the supposed equivalent to System Mechanic. My wife is a great believer in System Mechanic. She was AMAZED that I had uninstalled it from this Windows 7 machine. Well, she was NOT impressed with BootSpeed the first time around. It found all these problems, but wouldn’t fix them because we hadn’t bought a license. It didn’t tell her that before she started. I have a two-word phrase for products like that and the second word is ‘teaser.’ Not impressed. Not amused.

Good luck. Cheers.

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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Windows 7 does include this ‘System Maintenance’ tool.

Microsoft has done a very nice job burying it deep within the CONTROL PANEL so that most will never find it. Maybe that is a good thing.

If you want to try it, you have to invoke the CONTROL PANEL ‘All Items’ display option. Read this post. It shows you what to do.

The ‘troubleshooting’ option is in the 2nd row from the bottom, two-in (from the left) — above the highlighted ‘Windows Defender.’

Try it. I have; a few times. Does seem to do anything. I am not sure whether there is any real code behind it! It could, at least for now, be a ‘place holder.’

Given my experience with TuneUp Utilities 2010, I had thought that MAYBE Windows 7 might find some broken shortcuts — given that I have not run ANY PC tools on this Windows 7 rig in 5 days, now that I uninstalled System Mechanic 9.5.5 on January 22. But, nothing. Tells me that my system is FINE.

Well, tomorrow, with luck, I will install some Auslogics’ tools on this system. Please keep your toes crossed for me.

Good luck. Thanks & Cheers.

Anura Guruge
www.guruge.com

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