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Whenever you purchase a new branded desktop or laptop, meaning Dell, HP, Gateway, etc… you usually get Windows 7, but you also get a ton of “bloatware” as well. Bloatware is basically just the extras that the computer manufacturer decides to throw in with Windows 7. Programs such as Norton antivirus, Roxio CD creator, and endless other trial products are usually included, but not usually wanted.
When you go to do a fresh install of Windows, using the backup discs that came with your PC, you usually have no option but to reinstall the bloatware as well. This is mainly a marketing partnership that software companies have with PC manufacturers, forcing you towards their products. However, there is a very simple way around this, rather than just uninstalling all of the extra programs that you do not want.
Step 1: Obtain a Microsoft Windows 7 Disc
This of course, must be a retail copy of Windows 7, manufactured directly by Microsoft. These copies of Windows 7 include only the operating system, with no unwanted extras. Chances are that you are not going to go out and buy a retail copy of Windows 7, for obvious reasons.
Luckily, there are a couple of other options that you can use. The easiest way to obtain a retail copy of Windows 7 is to simply borrow a disc from a friend. If you are a student, often times your college will be able to provide you with an OEM backup disc free of charge.
If neither of these options are suitable for you, just head down to a local PC specialty shop. They are usually more than happy to burn you a backup disc for a very small fee. My local shop sold me a backup disc for $10.00.
Most Windows 7 discs contain all versions of Windows 7, meaning Home Premium, Professional, etc… But you do need to make sure that you can install the same version of Windows with the retail disc, that originally came with your computer. For example, if your laptop came with Windows 7 Home Premium, you will need to install Windows 7 Home Premium.
Step 2: Get Drivers
Before you install Windows, you will want to get the drivers for your particular PC. Head on over to your PC manufacturer’s website and download all of the drivers for your PC. After you have done that, transfer the drivers to a USB flash drive or external hard drive, or burn them to a disc.
Step 3: Install Windows
With your newly obtained backup copy of Windows 7 in hand, go ahead and start the reinstallation process. Insert the disc into the PC’s CD/DVD rom drive and reboot your computer. Of course, backup any files to external hard drive that you want to keep first. Once the PC starts loading back up, enter the BIOS and boot from CD.
Once the Windows installation screen appears, it’s all easy coasting from there. Follow the on-screen instructions. Once you reach the setup screen that features Drive Options, go ahead and delete any old partitions, and setup your new drive to suit your preferences. Let Windows fully install.
Step 4: Install Drivers
Many features on your PC will be unusable, such as the wireless card and specialty keyboard buttons. For these, you will need to install drivers. As mentioned above, that manufacturer backup disc that came with your PC has drivers included, but also a bunch of other stuff that you don’t want.
Copy the drivers that you downloaded earlier from your USB flash drive, external hard drive, or disc to the PC. Proceed to install them.
Step 5: Activate
Once Windows is installed on your PC, it’s time to activate it. Here comes the awesome part. The activation code that is on a sticker on your PC case, WILL work with retail copies of Windows 7. So go ahead and open the Start Menu, right-click on Computer, choose Properties, and get Windows activated.
Step 6: Restore Files
If you had any files that you backed up to external hard drive, go ahead and reinstall them onto your new copy of Windows.
Finding a retail copy of Windows 7 seems like a lot of work, but it is worth it if you don’t want to go through the process of uninstalling all of those unwanted programs. Most manufacturer discs can take up to 3x longer to install Windows, just because they install all of the other programs as well.
An OEM retail copy of Windows will install quickly and easily, and even with manual driver install time, it should be faster than using a manufacturers disc. This method of installing Windows is even more useful for people who frequently reinstall their operating system.
Social networking and micro-blogging site Twitter just celebrated its fifth year on March 21. It began as a small project at a podcasting company in San Francisco called Odeo. Thanks to the creative genius of Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, the world is closer and more “real-time” than ever before. There is no clearer evidence of this than the role Twitter (and Facebook) played in the recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
It took Twitter 3 years, 2 months and 1 day to reach the first 1 billionth tweet. Now there are a billion tweets a WEEK. While the actual number of Twitter users is a moving target, it is no doubt in excess of 200 million. Over the last month, there has been an average of 460,000 new Twitter accounts per day.
People have different reasons for joining Twitter. Whether you want to generate more traffic to your business or you want to increase your social relationships, you can tweet to achieve your goals. In this Tech Tip, we’ll explore some helpful tips and tools you can use whether you’re a beginner or an experienced tweeter.
We’ll assume that you know how to set up a Twitter account and have a basic knowledge of the platform. You’re limited to 14 characters for your user name so choose something that will identify you. Also, be creative with a custom background for your Twitter page. You can change that on the Design tab and use themeleon to really pimp out your page. Make the most of the personal information on your account. On your Profile, fill in your location, web site URL (if you have one), plus a nice picture or avatar. Most important will be your BIO where you describe yourself in 160 characters or less. If you’re looking to find new customers or people with similar interests, use keywords in your bio that will attract that kind of following.
Your tweet will stand out more if it’s shorter, especially if it’s sandwiched between other tweets that push the character limit. If you can’t say it in 140 characters, reevaluate whether you should be posting it on Twitter. Best practice is to tweet an average of 1-3 times per day maximum. Share good stuff—keep it topical, informative and useful.
When you read tweets you may notice some contain a hash tag (#) followed by a word. A hash tag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. In a way, it allow you to create communities of people interested in the same topic by making it easier for them to find and share info related to it. Just remember that when tweeting the hash tag will come out of your 140 character tweet limit.
If you’re wondering who to follow other than friends, co-workers and family, follow the followers of those you respect. There’s a high probability that the majority of those users are real people with similar interests. Your follow back rate could triple using this tactic.
Be diligent when replying to tweets directed to you. If you just hit “reply” remember that tweet will be seen by ALL those following you and they may choose to unfollow you. That can diminish your presence on Twitter. If you’d like to keep it more private then type a “d” before the user name to send a direct message, such as d computergeeks.
Don’t auto-reply to everyone who follows you with the AutoDM (direct message). That’s sure to bring you a slew of unfollows. Try to keep an even balance between “following” and “followers”. Let’s say you have 200 followers and are following 1,988 people; that could raise a red flag and Twitter might put a hold on your account until you bring the two into more of an alignment. Of course, if you’re Charlie Sheen with over 3 million followers, that rule is out the window. But for those of us who aren’t #winning, best to keep an eye on your follow status.
On March 15, 2011, Twitter enabled users to turn on HTTPS, improving the security of your account to better protect your information if you’re using Twitter over an unsecured Internet connection, like a public WiFi network. The plan is to make this the default setting in the future, but for now go to your settings and check the box next to “Always use HTTPS,” which is at the bottom of the page.
If you’re looking for an easier way to grow your followers, you can try a software called TweetAdder. It offers a great feature where you can simply enter a user’s name and it will extract their followers and add them to the “follow list” that you can use in the software. While there is a charge for TweetAdder, it can be cost-effective in the amount of time it will save you. The web site offers a detailed demo, so give it a try.
Hootsuite and TweetDeck are by far the most popular third party Twitter clients available today. They have many similarities – ability to schedule posts, post to other channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare all at once. They both have their own URL shorteners.
Known by its cute owl mascot, Hootsuite is a web-based tool that can handle multiple Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Page, LinkedIn, MySpace and Foursquare social profiles. Unlike TweetDeck, Hootsuite offers a robust statistical analysis of your accounts which may or may not be what you need. The free version allows for up to 5 social media profiles but you can upgrade to unlimited for as little as $6 a month.
TweetDeck is a free desktop tool that uses Adobe Air and for that reason can be a little wonky at times. But it also has many great features. You can attach photos and videos to your tweet, schedule your tweets in advance. TweetDeck will display columns of each of your accounts, your mentions, direct messages, lists, a hash tag you want to monitor, trending topics and more.
You can’t go wrong with either one, they’re free so try them both and see what works best for you.
If you want to tie in your blog posts with your tweets and other social networks, there’s a handy tool call Twitterfeed. Again, free so check it out if that fills a need.
Share some of your interesting pictures on Twitter so that others can get to know you better. This is easy to do with a free tool called Twitpic. You can upload a picture or video, compose your tweet and then post your message. You can also email your picture and tweet via Twitpic. It’s compatible with mobile devices which make it easier to share pictures from your phone.
Here are some other tools you might find helpful:
- Twitterfall allows you to narrow down tweets by city and/or keyword.
- Twellow: like the Twitter Yellow Pages- a search directory of people by area of expertise, profession or other attribute listed in their personal profiles.
- TweetBeep sends you alerts based on keywords; stay on top of breaking news.
- TweetGrid helps you monitor multiple topics at once.
Since tweets are limited to 140 characters, URLs are usually shortened. Are you just a tad wary of clicking on those bit.ly, is.gd or TinyURL!™ from people you don’t know or necessarily trust? Well, there’s a way to find out exactly where they’re sending you before you click that little link. Go to http://www.untiny.me, put in the short link, extract the actual URL and decide if you want to go ahead and click through.
This only scratches the surface of the many Twitter tools out there with more launching all the time. But some other highly recommended ones include SocialOomph, Posterous® and Seesmic. Since all the tools mentioned in this Tech Tip are either free or have a free trial, take them for a test drive and see what you like best.
Have you tried these or any other tools and tips? Let us know in the comments.
Use Twitter to make new friends or promote your business and have some social networking fun. #Winning!
One common question I’ve run across a lot these days in the office is how to convert a PDF file to Microsoft Word format (doc), Excel format (xls), or JPG picture format. Usually, people want to know how to convert a file to PDF, but it’s also nice to be able to convert back the other way. Converting to Word is actually pretty simple and can be done directly using an online file conversion service called Zamzar. Going to Excel or JPG is a two step process, but nothing very difficult to follow.
Update: There’s a much easier way to convert a PDF to JPG image format than the method I have mentioned below. Here’s how you can do it using Zamzar.com.
Convert a PDF file to JPG – Easy Way
Go to ZamZar.com, browse for your file and choose PNG format for the format to conver to under Step 2. PNG is another newer picture format that is slowly replacing the JPG format. Most programs that can open JPG files can open PNG. Zamzar automatically converts each page in the PDF document into it’s own PNG picture file. Now you can simply open Microsoft Paint (yes, all you need it Paint!) and choose File – Save As from the menu and choose JPEG from the drop down list of formats.
That’s it! By the way, if youare interested in how to extract the text from a PDF document or how to convert Word files to PDF, etc, check out the links.
Convert PDF to JPG Format – Second Way
The first thing you’ll need to do is download a free software (the only one I could find) that converts PDF documents to JPEG image format automatically. Go to the Omniformat download page and download both Omniformat v8.3 and the PDF995 app. You will need to download and install PDF995 first before installing Omniformat. Once you have both programs installed, go to your Start Menu programs, find the program group Software995 and click on Omniformat.
The only annoying thing about this program is that it requires you to view some ads for about 30 seconds! However, it’s better than paying $20 or $40 for a program just to do a simple conversion! It does pop up another instance of your browser window for the web site of each of the sponsors, but it does not install any spyware onto your computer (no popup ads). Once the program is loaded, you’ll see it has a section called “Watch Folders” and then a button at the bottom titled “Start Monitoring” and “Single Pass“.
Basically the way it works is that you need to COPY the PDF files you want to convert to JPG format to the C:omniformatwatch folder and then press Single Pass. The program will look in that directory and convert each page of each PDF into a separate JPG file. If you click Start Monitoring, you can keep dropping PDFs into that folder and the program will automatically convert them into JPGs as long as the program is open. Note that the program DELETES the original PDF document that it uses, so that’s why you need to COPY the PDF document to the watch folder, not move it! You should now see your converted files like below:
Convert your PDF to a Word document
Go to Zamzar.com and click the Browse button next to Step 1 and choose your file. By default, Step 2 will be set to DOC format, but you can choose to convert your PDF to other file types such as TXT, HMTL, RTF, etc. Type in your email address for Step 3 and click Convert.
You should receive an email within a few minutes with a download link to your converted file. I have tried out this service on some pretty complex PDF documents with text in multiple columns, multiple images, etc and have been very impressed with it’s conversion accuracy.
Convert a PDF file to Excel format
We will again follow the steps above using Zamzar, but this time choose TXT as the format you want to convert to. Unfortunately, you can’t convert straight to Excel format, so we’ll have to go through the intermediary TXT format. Once you have downloaded the TXT file and saved it on your computer, open Microsoft Excel and go to File – Open and change the Files of Type combo box to All Files.
Now you should see the converted text file in the list of files. Choose it and click Open. You’ll now be brought to the Text Import Wizard. You have to open the file in this manner because if you simply right-click and say Open With Excel, all of the text for each row will appear in the first column and not be separated.
For Step 1, choose Delimited from the two options listed.
Click Next and check off the Space checkbox as one of the delimiters. Each value should now be separated by a vertical line, indicating it’s going to be in a separate column.
Click Next and then click Finish. You can now save the file as an Excel file by going to File – Save As. There are a few drawbacks, however, as this conversion does not always work perfectly! For example, if the original Excel sheet had a column where there was text with spaces included, each word will be separated into it’s own column! Also, you won’t see any formulas or functions that may have been in the original Excel sheet, only the text.
It’s as easy as that! You can use many other image editing programs also such as Photoshop, Corel, etc, etc, but I chose Paint because that is universally available on just about every Windows computer.
Any questions, post a comment![tags]convert pdf to word, convert pdf to excel, convert pdf to jpg, how to convert pdf file[/tags]
10.) Defrag the right way!
Defragmenting your hard drive the proper way can speed up your PC in addition to organizing your files. Some programs like Puran Defrag not only defrags your hard drive(s), it also defrags your boot files so your Windows start-ups are quicker. In addition, there are comprehensive programs like Raxco Perfect Disk that optimize the placement of data for maximum performance depending on the settings you choose.
While there are many ways to speed up your computer, the goal for these 10 speed tips are simplicity and ease of use. Yes, you can tinker with your Windows Registry files but if you make a mistake, you can crash Windows just like that! The most important thing to keep in mind is remembering to perform the above cleaning tasks every now and then. (At least once a month) Just like proactively keeping your car in good running condition (ahem, Skyline GT-R!) with timely maintenance, running these applications from time to time keeps your computer running in peak performance. Regardless of whether you have a dual-core, triple-core or quad-core CPU computer, you did pay for your computer’s performance so it makes sense to able to utilize all of it.