Thursday, March 26, 2009

7 on 7: The ultimate in desktop computing?

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Vol. 2, # 64 - Mar 26, 2009 - Issue # 73 
 7 on 7: The ultimate in desktop computing?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • 7 on 7: The ultimate in desktop computing?
    • Follow-up: The Microsoft "Big Picture"
    • Windows 7 Beta: What happens next?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Hacking Vista: Use operators in Vista Search
    • No more SideShow?
    • PowerPack 2 for Windows Home Server
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to make taskbar thumbnails bigger
    • How to fix spell check problem in Word
  5. Vista Security
    • Beware malicious electronic April fool's Day "jokes"
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • How can I open a .WDB file?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • How to enable the NUM LOCK key before logon
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Windows 7 will run some old apps that won't work on Vista
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • FeedForAll: FeedForAll Makes RSS Feed Creation and Management a Snap!

My Antivirus Is Killing My Netbook - Now What?

Traditional antivirus products can be terrible resource hogs, literally grabbing hundreds of megabytes in RAM, and maxing out the smaller Netbook CPU. But you cannot leave Netbooks unprotected either. VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware is the AV you want to run, with it's now famous low resource consumption and practically invisible malware protection. VIPRE now is officially the fastest antimalware on the planet! Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE on your Netbook for yourself:

Editor's Corner

7 on 7: The ultimate in desktop computing?

There has been much positive feedback about Windows 7, both the public beta released in January and interim builds that have leaked since then. A great deal of the praise centers on performance, and perhaps the most important difference between Windows 7 and Vista is that the former can be installed and will running satisfactorily on low-powered systems such as netbooks. In fact, there have been many reports of people installing Win 7 on their EeePCs. You can find instructions for installing it on the 1000H model here:

I can attest to the fact that Win 7 is less of a resource hog than Vista. The Vista installation on my Dell XPS uses about 63% of RAM at startup, with no applications open. The Windows 7 installation on the same computer, with the same programs loading when the OS boots, same gadgets, etc., uses only about 52% of the RAM at startup.

I think it's great that Win 7 will run adequately on computers that aren't top of the line. But personally, I want more than "adequately." What I'm looking forward to is running 7 on 7: Windows 7 on the Intel Core i7 processor. That will be a little like driving a Bugatti Veyron on the autobahn (253+ mph, 0-60 in 2.5 seconds) and a whole lot less dangerous.

The Core i7 is the desktop incarnation of Intel's new Microarchitecture, code named Nehalem, and that's a subject in which I've been deeply immersed for the past two weeks. When you start reading about Nehalem, you hit on a bunch of technical terms such as 45nm manufacturing and second-level branch predictor and translation lookaside buffer and it all sounds mightily impressive, but what in the world does it mean? In a word, it means "fast."

In the processor world, when it comes to nanometers, smaller numbers are better. A nanometer is a unit of length that's equal to one thousand-millionth of a meter). Previous generation processors used a 65 nm manufacturing process. These 45 nm chips cram roughly twice as many transistors into the same space - 400 million transistors or dual core processors and over 800 million for quad cores. These tiny transistors deliver a 20 percent plus improvement in switching speed, which translates into better performance.

I've always been a bit of a hardware junkie, so I'm fascinated by this stuff. The Core i7 processors were the first members of the Nehalem family released by Intel, in November of last year, and they replaced the Core 2 family of processors. To me, the coolest part of the new Microarchitecture is something called QuickPath Interconnect. This replaces the old familiar front side bus. The FSB was the connection pathway between the actual CPU and the motherboard chip called the memory controller, or sometimes referred to as the northbridge. This chip handles the communications between the CPU and the RAM (and also, typically, the AGP or PCI Express video card).

FSB speeds have gotten faster, increasing from 200-300 MHz up to 800-1000 MHz, but as processors have become faster, the connection pathway between CPU and memory had begun to create a bottleneck, especially with multiple processors or multiple cores. Quick Path Interconnect can deliver up to 25 GB per second of total bandwidth, which is 300 times that of FSB technology. It does this by creating direct point to point connections between processor cores. Core i7s are quad-core processors.

Another improvement in the new Nehalem-based processors is the integrated memory controller, which puts the memory controller on the same die as the CPU. Previously, these communications had to go across the FSB. The four cores use this interconnection to communicate with each other, as well as with the memory. Core i7 also supports triple channel memory (DDR3). This increases the bandwidth of the bus from 128 bit to 192 bit. That's the reason you're now seeing systems with 6 or 12 GB of RAM. The triple channel RAM is installed in banks of three instead of two. However, you can also use less expensive DDR3 dual channel RAM if you prefer. In fact, some tests suggest that you don't lose a lot of performance by doing so:

Now, before all you AMD fans write to tell me that company did these things first, yes, I know. There was a time when AMD was ahead of the game, but these days, it's playing catch-up. Their new Phenom II finally brings them into the 45 nm race, but Intel is already working on its next-gen 32 nm designs. And the Phenom is a DDR2 only platform. That keeps costs down, but it also sacrifices performance. Except for its highest-end Black Edition 940, the quad core Phenom's perform similarly to Intel's dual core models:

The latest builds of Windows 7 are already out-performing both Vista and XP in many informal tests reported on the web, and that's generally on mid-range hardware. Put 7 on top of 7 and you can expect your system to fly. So what's the down side? As always with the current top of the line technology, you'll pay a premium. Although the cost of the Core i7 is actually not much more than that of the Core 2 Q9550 quad-core processor, you'll need a new motherboard and DDR3 RAM, which is a bit more expensive than DDR2.

The price for Core i7 processors at NewEgg ranges from $279.99 for the 920 (2.66 GHz) to $999.99 for the Extreme Edition 965 (3.2 GHz). All have an 8 MB L3 cache and 4 x 256KB L2. Compare that to the Core2 Quad, which ranges from $189.99 to $399.99 (however, the 3.2 GHz Core2 Extreme goes for a frightening $1549.99). 3 GB of Kingston DDR3 triple channel RAM can be had for $119.99 to 154.99.

Is it worth the extra cost? That depends in part on what you plan to do with it. If you're a gamer, or you do video editing or run a CAD program or other processor intensive application, you'll see big benefits from the new, faster processors. But even if you don't, knowing you have all that power at your disposal is nice. On the streets and freeways of your hometown, you might never get that Bugatti's speedometer up over 80 mph, but it's still nice to know that you could outrun every other car on the road if you wanted to.

Tell us what you think. Are you lusting after a Core i7 system? Or are you looking forward to being able to install Windows 7 on a low-cost, less powerful computer? Are you willing to pay a little more to have the very best? If money is no object, do you prefer to rush out and buy the top of the line system, or do you think it's smarter to wait a while and let prices come down before you upgrade? Do you still have faith that AMD is going to come from behind and overtake Intel? Does the whole subject of hardware bore you? Let us know your opinions and experiences at

Follow-up: The Microsoft "Big Picture"

In last week's editorial, I talked a bit about Microsoft's latest advertising campaign and how they finally seem to have gotten it right, along with the new "canvas overview" approach to software.

A number of readers wrote to say that they like the new Photo Gallery commercials much better than the Seinfeld commercials or even the original "I'm a PC" campaign. It seems there is just something about cute little kids that hugs at the heartstrings. However, a few folks felt differently. Dana L. said, "I hate those commercials with the little girls who are so proficient with their computers. It makes me feel even more stupid that I can't do what they do and I'm 42 years old!"

Mary K. loves the new commercials: "I would just cringe when the Apple ads came on making fun of Vista. I got Vista on my new computer and I was expecting to hate it because of all the things I heard but I really like it, and haven't had any problems with speed or anything else. I'm glad 'our side' finally got a good ad."

Avery P. tried Canvas for OneNote and says "I like the general idea of being able to see the 'big picture' of all my notebook sections and pages and zoom in, but this program seems to have some bugs. It's not very stable on my laptop. When it works, it's great but I wish it worked all the time. I guess that's what you get when install beta software." Unfortunately, I've experienced a few glitches with Canvas, too. It works well on my desktop system but not as well on the Sony notebook (which has a much less powerful video card and less RAM). Remember that these Microsoft Research downloads aren't even betas - they're just concept projects. So yes, we can expect them to be imperfect, but they do give you an idea about what may be coming in future editions of programs like OneNote and PowerPoint.

Windows 7 Beta: What happens next?

I've received questions from quite a few readers, wanting to know what happens when the Windows 7 beta ends. It seems quite a few of you have become very attached to Win 7 and don't want to give it up when the beta expires this summer. In fact, there is an unauthorized "patch" out there on the web that claims to remove the expiration feature, but you try it at your own risk.

According to all reports, the Release Candidate of Windows 7 should be out well before the beta expires. Earlier rumors predicted a public RC in early April, but the current consensus seems to put it sometime in May. None of these dates are official, but I can't imagine Microsoft letting the beta expire before an RC comes out - the hue and cry from outraged Win 7 fans would be overwhelming.

For those who are interested in what changes have been made from beta to RC, here's a list that shows Microsoft is indeed listening to the feedback from beta users:

Thanks to all of you who wrote this week!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

Do something every day that you don't want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain. - Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken. - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


Before You Kick that Computer to the Curb. Free PC Diagnostic Scan

Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Backups? We don't need no stinking backups! Synchronization isn't anything like backing up, it's better! Easy too!

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

One easy to remember password gives automatic access to all my online passwords and usernames. I love the autofill feature.

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Hacking Vista: Use operators in Vista Search

Thanks to reader Thomas for the link to this article, which shows you how to use operators (such as =, +, -, <, >) to refine your search parameters in the built in search function. You can unlock the full power of Vista's search engine with these tips:

No more SideShow?

I thought one of the most interesting features in Vista was the SideShow functionality, by which hardware vendors could embed a small secondary display (for instance, in the lid of a laptop computer to provide basic information that you could access without opening the computer, such as the number of new email messages you'd received). I saw some creative uses of the technology in Media Center remote controls. But few hardware manufacturers took advantage of it, and I've not seen it around in a while. This Washington Post article opines that the curtain has fallen on SideShow:

PowerPack 2 for Windows Home Server

If you use a Windows Home Server for centralized storage of your media and other files, you'll want to get the recently released PowerPack 2, which contains some new features and a number of bug fixes. This is especially true if you're using WHS along with Media Center extenders on your network - now the extenders can more easily access content in the WHS shared folders. You'll also be able to stream MP4 files with Windows Media Connect. Read more about it here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to make taskbar thumbnails bigger

The thumbnail previews that you see when you hover over a taskbar item are cool, but are they big enough for you to really see what they contain? If not, you can download the Thumbnail Resizer that will let you make them bigger and better:

How to fix spell check problem in Word

We've recently encountered a situation in Word (both 2003 and 2007) where we couldn't check spelling in a document that was originally created by someone else. If we tried to run Spell Check, we got a message that said "The spelling and grammar check is complete. Text marked with 'Do not check spelling or grammar' was skipped. Finally we discovered how to fix this so we could check the spelling and grammar again. Here's how:
  1. In Word 2003, click Tools | Language and select "Set Language." In Word 2007, click the Review tab and in the Proofing section, click Set Language.
  2. Under the box that lists languages, uncheck the checkbox that says "Do not check spelling and grammar."
Tip: If you see only two columns of choices in the Proofing section, you need to drag to widen the Word window so the third column (where "Set Language" appears) will show up.

Vista Security

Beware malicious electronic April fool's Day "jokes"

April 1 is a popular day for virus and malware writers, who like to "time bomb" their malicious software to do its dirty work on that day. This year, Conficker C is expected to launch an attack on April Fool's day - but it seems nobody is sure exactly what is going to happen, except that infected computers (zombies) will come under the control of the "master" computer, wherever it might be. Be sure security patches are applied and your anti-malware software is updated before it happens. Read more here:

Vista Question Corner

How can I open a .WDB file?

Can you please help me to open a file created on windows XP. I've gone to Windows Vista and Vista will not open this file created on XP. It is a WDB file. Is there any way to make it open in Vista without having to retype the whole file. It is rather long. Please Help, Thanks. - Tim

The problem is not the operating system; the problem is that you don't have the correct application installed to open the file. The .WDB file extension indicates this is a file that was created in Microsoft Works Database.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

How to enable the NUM LOCK key before logon

NUM LOCK is disabled by default prior to logon, but what if you want it enabled for typing numbers at the logon screen? There is a registry edit that you can use to do this, or if you aren't comfortable manually editing the registry, Microsoft has a file you can run to do it for you. See KB article 154529 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Windows 7 will run some old apps that won't work on Vista

Now how's this for a change: a new operating system that will run old programs that were incompatibility with its immediate predecessor. Word is out that Microsoft has been able to make at least thirty applications run on Windows 7 that wouldn't work on Vista. So you may be able to revive some of those old apps that you used on XP but gave up when you moved to Vista. I'm hoping Corel PhotoPaint 10 is one of them, as I always liked it better than the later versions but couldn't get it to work on Vista. Read more about the reincarnation of old applications here:

Perhaps this will prevent some incidents like this one, where a man shot his girlfriend's computer after installing Vista on it and trying to get some of her programs to work:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

FeedForAll: FeedForAll Makes RSS Feed Creation and Management a Snap!

RSS is a way to subscribe to changing web site content and have it delivered to your desktop. You'll find it on most major sites, and blogs, and social networks. RSS can even include advertising from Google Adsense. Now you can easily create, edit and publish your own RSS news feeds with FeedForAll. New RSS feeds can be quickly and easily created with FeedForAll. Advanced features enable you to create professional looking RSS feeds quickly. Include an image in your feed to enhance its appearance. A built in WYSWIG editor allows you to quickly format feed descriptions so that they are visually appealing. Existing RSS feeds can be repaired and enhanced with FeedForAll, so that they conform to the RSS 2.0 specification. Feeds can also be exported to various file formats and easily incorporated into websites. Built-in FTP capabilities make publishing RSS Feeds a snap. VistaNews readers get an exclusive $5.00 discount. Try it before you buy it!

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Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.