Give your PC a Check-up with Microsoft’s PC Advisor

Microsoft PC AdvisorHere’s another Paul Thurrott tip from the Windows Weekly 81 podcast (also discussed on his blog here).

Microsoft’s free PC Advisor (download here) falls into the ‘does no harm and just might help’ category. I would recommend it to friends and family who find their computer is having problems. Hey, it can’t hurt.

I downloaded it (here) and installed it all of my Vista 64 and XP machines. I run a pretty tight ship so I wasn’t expecting much. As you can see from the pictures below, it recommended I take certain actions to speed up my PC, clean things up, update software etc.

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Simple, Free Group File Renaming with Ant Renamer

ant renamer during This tip comes from Paul Thurrott on the Windows Weekly 76 podcast (available here).

How I long for the old days of DOS commands. It was so easy in those days to rename groups of files. X-Tree was (and still is) my all time favourite Swiss-army knife utility for the PC for this kind of thing. Though the developers tried, X-Tree never made the move from DOS to Windows successfully.

The Problem – Cryptic Digital Camera File Names

The most common need for file renaming these days is to properly name digital photos. My Cannon Elf creates thousands of .jpg files that look like this: IMG_1894.jpg. What the heck is that? I want to rename groups of photos by the event they depict (eg: Dad’s 77th Birthday 1.jpg).  While there are ways of renaming groups of files in Windows Explorer (see here for example) the method is painful and error prone – I screwed up many a photo file name using this method.

The Easy and Free Solution – Ante Renamer

Along comes the free utility, Ant Renamer – available for download here. In seconds it can rename dozens/hundreds of IMG_### files, for example, to appropriate names reflecting the occasion they represent. It works in both Vista and Windows XP.

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Force Vista to Remember Open Window Size, State and Location with Alt + X Button

Alt   X Button From the first day I started using Vista (Vista 64 in my case), I have been frustrated that when I close a properly positioned and sized window (such as a Windows Explorer window) Windows Vista did not remember where I last left the window on my desktop or how big it was.  So, for example, despite closing a fully opened window (see picture on left below), say, on my right screen (I have four monitors attached to my Vista machine), the next time I opened that exact same window/program, it would open as a small window on my default middle screen (see right picture below). It would not re-open where or in the state I last closed it.

Vista Small Window       Vista Small Window

I have Google-searched high and low since January of 2007 for a solution to this and did not find an answer until Paul Thurrott discussed this at the end of his Windows Weekly 68 podcast  last week. He also wrote about it on his SuperSite for Windows here.

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Cleaning Up After Vista Service Pack 1

 Vista SP1

I updated my Vista x64 installation with Windows Vista Service Pack 1 the day it came out (March 18, 2008).

Due to the the notoriously buggy nVidia Vista drivers, the small version of the service pack was not available to my nVidia-laden XPS 600 through the recommended ‘Windows Update’ process. So I downloaded and installed the larger 64-bit (x64) version of the service pack here (32-bit (x86) version is here).

Everything generally went without a hitch (though it seems to have turned on a few of the unnecessary security settings I had turned off).

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