All posts by wrlee

Upgrading Windows 7, In-place

One cool, little mentioned feature of Windows 7 is that it can be updated to a grander version, as quickly and easily as installing an security update. You can simply enter the license key for the version of Windows 7 that you want to update to and let the system upgrade itself—an Anytime Update license, which can be purchased for an incremental price (compared to paying the full price), can be used as well.

  1. Right-click on Computer to bring up its context menu and select Properties or open the System settings from the Control Panel.
  2. Unless you already have Windows 7 Ultimate installed, the section at the top, “Windows edition” should have a link that says “Get more features with a new edition of Windows 7.” Click on that link.
  3. After entering the license key for the new Windows version, After inputing a valid key the upgrade files will be downloaded and installed on the machine. The machine may reboot a couple of times.

Migrating Skype Chat History

After installing Skype on a new machine, make sure it is not running. Then, the chat history from an old installation can be moved to the new installation. The Skype user directories in the new installation need to be replaced with the ones from the prior installation, adding them, if necessary.

XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Skype\skypeuser
Win 7:
C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Skype\skypeuser

Username is the windows login name under which the given Skype installation will run. Skypeuser is one or more Skype user ids that will log into Skype under the given windows login. If you are using Windows’ Explorer, make sure that “protected operating system files” are shown. (I replaced the entire Skype directory and that also worked).

See Move Skype History From Windows XP To Windows 7, but realize that it says that only the “chatsync” directories need to be copied over… that will not work, however, the entire parent directory (skypeuser) must be copied.

Finding Free, Useful Windows Applications

Everyone has their favorite set of applications. Over time, these applications accumulate to the point that you do not realize how many of these applications have actually been installed… until they need to be reinstalled, that is. But if you are starting from scratch, either you want to dispense with the past and start fresh or you simply do not know where to start, to cull through all the cruft you’d accumulated on your old machine.

There is a great site that helps with selecting and installing an initial set of high-quality free applications at Ninite.com. The web site presents commonly needed applications in categories and packages them up into a single custom installation executable that is downloaded and installed locally. After downloading, all the applications can be installed, running a single installation program. It’s also a great site to simply survey what applications you might want to consider.

AlternativeTo.net is another site for finding great applications. If you are familiar with an application but it is too expensive, its features not quite right, or it does not exist on the platform you need, this site will return all kinds of alternatives to the familiar one.
Continue reading Finding Free, Useful Windows Applications

Migrating to Windows 7

The change from Windows XP to Vista is Microsoft’s most extreme operating system user interface change since Windows 95. Many, perhaps most, will bypass Vista and move to Windows 7 from XP, directly. Shockingly, Microsoft has not provided a migration path from XP to Vista nor Windows 7. So, if you are moving from XP to Windows 7, you’ll have to recreate all the applications and settings manually. This series of posts tracks my experience and observations in migrating from my 5-year old XP Professional installation to Windows 7.

My XP machine had been running for 5-years, it had become an “old shoe.” I leave my desktop running all the time, but one day, when I decided to reboot—as it had been apt to need occasionally, in recent months—it failed to reboot. After some troubleshooting, I determined it to be the motherboard. My machine is so old that it is not worth repairing, and, anyway, HP does not have any replacement parts for it. Fortunately, my hard disk drive was undisturbed (though its reboot was to have installed the latest OS updates).

I quickly ordered a new machine which came with Windows Home Premium (the minimum Windows OS version that you should get). I had to install all the applications from scratch. Frustratingly, I want to restore the settings and historical data for those applications. In many cases, this can be done manually, but Vista and Windows 7 have reorganized most of the directories that had become familiar on prior versions of Windows. Making things more difficult, I am now using the 64-bit version of Windows which adds even more complexity to its directory structures.

Forthwith, the trials and tribulations of getting up to speed on a Windows 7.

Seattle

Coffee and gadgetsSeattle.

I don’t often seek to fall into the cliches of my travel destinations and even go to lengths to avoid them. However, I find myself, today, smack dab in the middle of one. And it’s not so bad!

I sit here in the cold northwest. The origin of rain and coffee, as I am led to believe. On this winter afternoon, the sun tires of the cold and, itself, leaves to beat the rush hour traffic. It is shortly after 5pm and the sun is already home.

I avoid all that I should be doing and sit here in a coffee cafe. With wifi linked computer. My cell phone. A pastry. My mocha coffee. In Seattle. All by myself with all these people around.

Seattle.

FEAR Uncertainty and Doubt

FUD, a term made popular several years ago, attributed to offensive use of marketing and public relations hype by tech companies (okay, it was Microsoft) to defend territory that it had yet to occupy. In recent years the media have taken to exposing themselves as tools of politicians and marketing institutions in the broader context of culture in which we are all exposed.

I am sure that it is racheted up with every generation that we are encouraged to shield ourselves further from all things that are not us. Whether it is dirt, germs, fellow humans, countries, environrment, thought, or religion we are barraged with more and more warnings about the dangers that lurk in the shadows of things that we do not know.

It is a sad state of life that those in positions of influence (media, advertising, politics) have learned to leverage these fears to coerce us to make unknowingly irrational decisions appear rational. The worst outcome of succumbing to these influences is the continued manipulation of our decisions through the mistrust of all those.

Do not talk to strangers; do not touch that; do not eat that; do not go there. The world is a dangerous place, you’d best just stay inside your padded room.

And, oh, by the way, buy our products and buy our rhetoric because they they will protect you from dangers from which you are not even aware!