Blog Support Downloads (coming soon)  
Search ComputerBoom!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Freeware of the Day: Nero info tool, that detects your cd-dvd drive capabilities


Tested on XP and Vista!

Nero InfoTool, a free STAND-ALONE program.
(no installation needed)

Analyses a drive, disc, configuration and software

Nero InfoTool is a utility which analyses and displays the most important information about a drive, disc, configuration and software. The information can also be printed or saved to a text file.

Many people have asked me, what DVD recordable media should I buy? DVD-R or DVD+R, can my drive record DVD-RW and what is the speed, and so on. Well this tool answers ALL THOSE QUESTIONS!

Download (click one of the 2 mirror links on this page)

Basic use:

The green checkmarks show what your CD/DVD/BD drive is capable of, the red X's show what your drive cannot do.
If you have more than one drive you select it via the top right drop down box.

Small animation showing use:



Comments are welcome

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Technology news: Google’s Gdrive arriving in 2009

The service has the potential to eclipse even Gmail, Google’s second best-known product after googlestore2 their search engine. That said, it’s no wonder users have been ripe with anticipation for years - yes, that’s how long the rumors have persisted. Gdrive is basically online storage where Google servers have enough capacity to hold the entire contents of your hard drive. It will likely also come with enough brains to do cool tricks now with bigger things down the road - like booting your computer from online drive to load the Google operating system.

Gdrive is basically a cloud-based storage that should have two faces: A desktop client that keeps local and online files and folders in two-directional sync via a web interface for accessing your desktop files anywhere and anytime, using any network-enabled computer. In addition, it will come tightly integrated with other Google services to enable editing of supported document types, like spreadsheets and presentations via Google Docs, email via Gmail, images via Picasa Web Albums, etc.


This opens powerful possibilities. For instance, you could start working on a spreadsheet at home and continue via Gdrive web interface accessed in an Internet cafe. When you arrive back home, changes to the spreadsheet have already trickled down from the cloud to your desktop. The idea, of course, is all but revolutionary, but Google’s execution could set it apart.


TIP: How do I run MSCONFIG on Vista?


Can anyone help me I am trying to stop everything from starting up when
I sign on. I used to be able to to it through msconfig and startup.
Then you could check or uncheck the programs you did not want to start
up and run in the background.


In vista, press the start button and in the search box go and write msconfig and press enter

You can also add the run box to the start menu like it was with XP

Follow these steps:
Go to the control panel > Taskbar & Start Menu (ICON) > Start menu (tab) > Customize (button)

Scroll down towards the bottom of things you can add - remove from the start menu and put a checkmark on RUN COMMAND


TIPS: As Hamtaro Pointed out you could also use the WIN key + R keyboard shortcut to pop open the RUN dialog box. Also you can drag and drop the run icon on to your desktop to create a shortcut!

Hope this helps, Comments are welcome!

Excel TIP: Is there a way to attach a file (word doc or other) to a cell in my spreadsheet?


Question: Is there a way to attach a file (word doc) to a cell in my spreadsheet?excel_icon

I would like to be able to store word documents in a cell on a spreadsheet. I have a spreadsheet that tracks document status', in steps. I would just like to be able to create a column, that would allow me to select an icon to attach a word doc. The word doc would only need to be accessed if clicked. It would need to be printed.


Answer: The easiest way to do this, is to create a folder for “associated files” and place in there all the files you want to go with your excel spreadsheet. Then right click on the cell you what and select “HYPERLINK”, and go and locate you file from the folder you just created.

NOTE: Its BEST to have the folder in the same location as your excel file so that you can move them together if needed, if you don't do this, and want to move them in another computer the “link” may be broken and the files will no longer launch when the link is clicked!

Now a blue link will appear in that cell, and when you click on it the file will launch with its associated program, like word for example if its a document.

The only think you must remember is that if you want to send this excel somewhere or transfer it to another pc, you must remember to also take the folder containing all the associated files along with the XLS or XLSX file, or else the link will be “broken”


Hope this helps,


comments are welcome

LED light bulbs to cut energy bills by 75%


421px-LED_labelMy comment: I was thinking about buying such lights (they do exist now) and this article just makes me even more sure that its a good idea! I wonder why it took humanity so long to realize the potential of the LED = Light Emitting Diode. The basis behind this is simple, a solid state semiconductor is fed electricity (electrons) and due to the nature of the materials (semiconductors) the electrons are converted into photons! MAY THERE BE LIGHT!

Learn more about LED’s here


A report from London based Metro newspaper indicates that scientists have discovered a new method for producing the man-made material on silicon, instead of costly sapphire. In turn the cost of the light bulbs will be cut from £20 ($28) per bulb to just £2 ($2.80).

The bulbs can last up to 60 years, burn for 100,000 hours and are 12 times more efficient than conventional bulbs and could be on the shelves in two years. The impact to the environment and the economy is that offices and homes won't need to replace them for years and that could potentially cut energy bills by 75% within 5 years the inventors claim.

"This could well be the holy grail in terms of providing our lighting needs for the future," said Prof Colin Humphreys, who helped develop the bulbs. "The five-year timescale is a conservative estimate," he said. "I'm hoping the bulbs will be on the shelves much sooner."

Freeware of the day: MagicISO Virtual CD/DVD-ROM!


Many times you may have downloaded an ISO file, but you had no idea what to do with it. Or you cd_icon_pneeded to burn it on to a physical CD or DVD to access the files inside. But that is a waste of empty media if you just want to see the contents. Thats why there are some programs that are called Virtual cd/dvd’s that can “MOUNT” the iso file and show it as if you had a real dvd player with the disk connected and displayed into MY COMPUTER!!!

The term “Mount” just means that it will load the iso file so it is accessible from MY COMPUTER.

This little tool not only supports mounting ISO files, but also myriad of other file types like .BIN and .NRG for a full list scroll further down.

This little tool will save you time and money… comments are welcome!

-The ComputerBoom Guy


MagicISO Virtual CD/DVD-ROM Overview

You are here: Tutorials > MagicISO Virtual CD/DVD-ROM(MagicDisc) Overview

Download for Windows 9x/Me/2000/XP/2003/Vista

Download for Windows XP/2003/Vista x64 Edition

View History

MagicDisc is freeware. It is very helpful utility designed for creating and managing virtual CD drives and CD/DVD discs. For anyone who deals with CD-based programs – it is a MUST. MagicDisc allows you to use almost all CD/DVD image without burning them onto CD or DVD in order to easily access your favorite games, music, or software programs ---- It works like a real CD/DVD-ROM: You can run programs, play games, or listen to music from your virtual CD-ROM. Allowing you to run your game images at over 200x faster than from a conventional CD/DVD-ROM. MagicDisc is a powerful utility that uses a unique combination of options to ensure a perfect back-up every time. Partner with MagicISO, Your original games/program discs can be safely stored away, MagicISO mean that you always have your expensive media stored safely as CD/DVD image file  on your hard drive, and use them with MagicDisc just like using the original discs. At the office: Program discs and many other applications generally require the original disc to be in the computer's CD-ROM drive. This restricts the amount of people in your office who can have access to the same software at the same time without the cost of additional discs. MagicDisc virtual drives resolve that problem for you. No more hunting around the offices for that elusive disc you need to run your application, everything you require is just a click away.

All supported CD/DVD image formats

  • BIN              (CDRWin)
  • IMA/IMG          (Generic disk images)
  • CIF              (Easy CD Creator)
  • NRG              (Nero - Burning ROM)
  • IMG/CCD          (CloneCD)
  • MDF/MDS          (Fantom CD)
  • VCD              (Farstone Virtual Drive)
  • VaporCD          (Noum Vapor CDROM)
  • P01/MD1/XA       (Gear)
  • VC4/000          (Virtual CD)
  • VDI              (Virtuo CD Manager)
  • C2D              (WinOnCD)
  • BWI/BWT          (BlinkWrite)
  • CDI              (DiscJuggler)
  • TAO/DAO          (Duplicator)
  • PDI              (Instant Copy)

MagicDisc has automatically Detecting engine, so user try to open any CD/DVD image files with MagicDisc.


Using MagicDisc to mount CD/DVD image.
Using MagicDisc to unmount CD/DVD image.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Video: The History of the Internet, in a fast paced simple animation.


"History of the internet" is an animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to filesharing, from Arpanet to Internet.

The history is told using the PICOL icons on , which are available for download soon. On you can get news about this project.



Voice-over by Steve Taylor

Western Digital broke the 2 Terabyte drive barrier!!!


Is 2 terabytes enough space for you? Sure there was an external disk with 2 terrabytes from the myBook western digital series, but that was actually 2 drives in an enclosure.

This is the FIRST single drive that is 2 terabytes!

The WD20EADS 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green HDD, however it is already available for purchase at Australia's Mwave online store. Priced at AU$377.80 (US$250) Western Digital will be the first ever hard drive maker to provide users with a 2TB hard disk drive.

The green series offer silent operation and lower power consumption. However some WD drives that I had researched had a lower spindle speed of 5400 RPM instead of 7200 RPM. Not all the green series is like this, so it would be good to ask about this before you purchase one.

Image Courtesy: Engadget

So far, Seagate's Barracuda 7200.12 packs 500GB per platter, and has the highest areal density of 329 Gigabits per square inch. Western Digital might have reached this areal density with the release of its 2TB hard drive. Further product specifications are not known yet.
Seagate and Samsung offer a maximum drive capacity of 1.5TB and yet another hard drive manufacturer Hitachi offers hard drives of capacity up to 1TB.

I blogged about the problems with the seagate 1.5 gb drives here:

Seagate 7200.11 hard drive firmware woes continue

Seagate is also expected to release its line of 2TB hard drives sometime this year , but the company has its own problems dealing with the enraged customers who own the Barracuda 1.5TB hard drives. This could be an opportunity for Seagate's competitors - Western Digital, Hitachi and Samsung, to gain a better market position?


Read a review about the western Digital Black series drives  (which are the absolutely best quality drives I have seen!) here:

Hard Disk Review: EXTREMELY FAST Western Digital BLACK series!


Comments are welcome

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Windows 7 Wallpaper PACK! Get all the new fantastic wallpapers!


Windows 7 is the new Microsoft operating system that will be released sometime in 2009.

Windows 7 beta 1 was released not too long ago, and it had some very nice and new wallpapers.

Vista and XP users will love them! The image below is a preview, to download scroll further down




If you want to have them always available to windows go place them in this location>


That way when you go to display properties in XP or Personalize > Desktop Background in Vista,

they will always be available!

These wallpapers include the extra wallpapers form the additional themes available for Windows 7 that I have blogged about here>>> Hidden Themes for Windows 7

On how to add more themes to windows Vista see links below.



Hidden Themes for Windows 7
Video Tutorial By ComputerBoom: Add THEMES to Vista for FREE with Vistaglazz!!!
Windows 7 Theme for VISTA!
Vista Classic Theme DWM enabled Windows Classic Theme
Windows7: Glass aero, with simple graphic card!
The Windows 7 Taskbar

How do I uninstall live messenger 2009 or live mail or live writer


Q: HOW DO I UNINSTALL WINDOWS LIVE MESSENGER 2009, or other parts of the LIVE suite?


A: Go to the control panel > programs and features (vista) or add-remove programs (XP)> and find in the list the windows live essentials entry,
click uninstall, then you will be given an option to CHANGE what programs are installed.

You deselect the ones you don’t want and press ok.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hidden Themes for Windows 7

Windows 7 by default has only few themes available for customization. People who are not satisfied with these in build themes can get few more themes for Windows 7 which are actually hidden. These themes are available for certain regional countries such as Australia, Canada, Great Britain, United States and South Africa. These themes can be revealed and used by the following steps.


1. Open Windows Explorer and click Organize
2. Select Folder and Search Options and navigate to the View tab.
3. Select Show hidden files, folders and drivers and uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended). Click Yes, if prompted for confirmation.
4. Click OK and now browse to the folder: Windows\Globalization\MCT
5. There are five folders here with the name with format MCT-XX (where XX is AU, CA, GB, US, or ZA) which represents globalization settings for each region. Go into the folder that you want to activate its theme.
Note that AU, CA and ZA regions have the same themes.
6. Open the Theme folder inside the selected region folder.
7. Double click on the XX.theme file to apply the theme to the Windows 7 desktop system. Once a theme is executed and activated, the theme will be available and saved into Personalization options, so that user can select this theme directly from the personalization settings.
8. Now to go to Folder Options to reverse the first 5 steps to hide the hidden and protected system files and folders again.


Now when you open the themes settings, you can see the hidden themes activated.

Thanks to WinVistaClub for this tip. Image Credit: WinVistaClub

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to Install 3.0 on Ubuntu 8.10

I guess everyone already knows that 3.0.0 will not be available (sad, I know) for the Intrepid Ibex (Ubuntu 8.10), because the developers did not have enough time to test it, and they will introduce it later this year. Therefore, Ubuntu 8.10 ships with 2.4.1 and, if you want to use the new and improved version, then this guide is for you! However, we will not do a fresh install of the OpenOffice suite, as we will instead only upgrade the current version in Ubuntu Intrepid.

What do I need to get started? Ubuntu 8.10 (32-bit or 64-bit), which can be downloaded from here.

OK, so... first thing, you must add the 3.0 repositories, then upgrade the installed packages. Follow the steps below!

STEP 1 - Add the 3 repositories

Go to System -> Administration -> Software Sources...

Go to the second tab, "Third-Party Software," click on the "Add" button, and paste the line below...

deb intrepid main

Now, click the “Close” button, then the “Reload” one and wait for the application to close!

STEP 2 - Update OpenOffice to version 3.0.0

When the Software Sources window will close itself, the update icon will appear in the system tray...

Click on it and update your system! That's all, folks! Your open source office suite will be up-to-date from now on. Take a look below for some shots of 3.0 in Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex).


Update: uTorrent 1.8.2 Build 14153

uTorrent is an efficient and feature rich BitTorrent client for Windows sporting a very small  footprint. It was designed to use as little cpu, memory and space as possible while offering all the functionality expected from advanced clients.

  • Multiple simultaneous downloads
  • Configurable bandwidth scheduler
  • Global and per-torrent speed limiting
  • Quick-resumes interrupted transfers
  • RSS Downloader
  • Trackerless support (Mainline DHT)
  • utorrent3


--- 2009-01-24: Version 1.8.2 (build 14153)
- Feature: allow btsearch bundling
- Change: add bt.transp_disposition value (3) for uTP-only
- Change: allow 16kB piece sizes
- Fix: PEX address parsing bug



Friday, January 23, 2009

News: Internet Explorer 8 RC1 for early next week

Just to clarify for the ComputerBoom readers, RC means Release candidate, an almost *but not totally* finished version. Its more advanced than a beta. Think of it as an in-between step internet-explorer between beta and final release.


Microsoft is currently readying the release of Internet Explorer 8 RC1 for early next week, company sources indicate.

In a blog posting by Microsoft's Frank Olivier, the UX and Compatibility program manager confirms "we're about to release" IE8 RC1. Insiders indicate it might be worth penning Monday 26th January in your calendar as the date for IE8 RC1.

IE8 RC1 will not install on the current Windows 7 beta build (7000) and it's rumored that Microsoft could be readying some new beta bits for connect testers in the coming weeks. The RC1 build will initially be offered to Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems.

IE8 introduces several new and updated features for Internet users.

Obama to keep Blackberry, with added security & features


Newly inaugurated President Barack Obama has won the first major battle of his administration, the fight to keep his Blackberry. But when you're the leader of the free world, not just any Blackberry will do. Obama's new smartphone is reportedly a Sectéra Edge made by General Dynamics, not exactly something you'll be able to pick up at your local Sprint store.

First off, the president's new Blackberry isn't technically a Blackberry, at least in the traditional sense. It runs a specialized version Windows Mobile with additional Blackberry software on top. When your job takes you across the country or around the globe at a moments notice, you don't have time to worry if you'll be in your coverage area, so the Sectéra Edge has global roaming over both GSM and CDMA networks. It also features advanced encryption of all traffic, including phone conversations, via the National Security Agency.



While not the most attractive of phones when compared to the some of the other Blackberry models Obama was probably used to, the phone makes up for it in an abundance of ports and features.

"Use will be limited and the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate but to do so effectively," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained in his first conference with reporters today.

Gibbs also explained that because the president's e-mail traffic will, with very few exceptions, be subject to the President Records Act it will all be preserved for historical purposes. Ever since the election, Obama has been adament about feeding "his addiction" and the decision for him to keep it is "a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends," Gibbs said.

Past presidents have made no significant use of email, at all.

[VIA ]

UPDATE: NVIDIA Forceware 181.22 WHQL


NVIDIA ForceWare software unleashes the full power and features in NVIDIA's desktop, gaming,nvidia_logo platform, workstation, laptop, multimedia, and mobile products. Delivering a proven record of compatibility, reliability, and stability with the widest range of games and applications, ForceWare software ensures the best experience with your NVIDIA hardware.

New in this release:

  • This driver is recommended for the best GPU PhysX experience in EA's hot PC title Mirror's Edge.
  • This driver package automatically installs the new PhysX System Software version 9.09.0010.
  • Additional information on specific bug fixes can be found in the release documentation notes.


>>>>   Download: NVIDIA Forceware 181.22 WHQL

Comedy video: Medieval helpdesk (with English subtitles)



Helpdesk support back in the day of the middle age
with English subtitles. Original taken from the show "Øystein og jeg" on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)in 2001. With Øystein Backe (helper)and Rune Gokstad (desperate monk). Written by Knut Nærum.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

UPDATE: Heads up> QuickTime Player


A note for Computerboom Readers: Apple tries to push its iTunes software along with Quicktime,QuicktimeSZ and in the automated update it offers Safari (the apple browser) too. For those who dont need iTunes be sure to select the quicktime only download option and not the bundle with iTunes.. OR download the installer from the mirror I provide below:

QuickTime 7.6 includes changes that increase reliability, improve compatibility and enhance  security. This release is recommended for all QuickTime 7 users.
What’s in this update?
Improves single-pass H.264 encoding quality
Increases the playback reliability of Motion JPEG media
Improves AAC encoding fidelity
Audio tracks from MPEG video files now export consistently
Application Support:
Improves compatibility with iChat and Photo Booth
For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:


Fast mirror


General info about Quicktime

QuickTime Player from Apple allows the playback of quicktime movies (.mov) and many other formats:

The new QuickTime Player not only delivers startling quality, but it's easier to use than ever. It requires no set up for content that streams over the network. Instead, QuickTime Player automatically determines your system's connection speed and chooses the highest quality stream for the amount of bandwidth you have available. And if you ever lose a connection while watching streaming video, QuickTime Player automatically reconnects. Now, thats convenience.

  • Playback of 3GPP and 3GPP2 files
  • Playback of MPEG-4 video, H.274, AAC audio & Instant-On media
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Enhanced interface
  • Bass and treble controls
  • Balance control
  • Streaming media support
  • Ability to save movie favorites
  • Ability to view VR & interactive content

The Windows 7 Taskbar


From the MSDN blog:

We were very excited to unveil elements of the Windows 7 desktop at this year’s Professional Developers Conference (as seen in the Welcome to the Windows 7 Desktop session, among others). In previous posts (User Interface: Starting, Launching, and Switching and Follow-up: Starting, Launching, and Switching) we looked at the history, anatomy and areas for improvement of the taskbar. In this post, we will continue the conversation. Don’t let looks fool you though—the UI may feel new to Windows for some of you or old hat for some of you, but rest assured it represents a careful evolution that strives to address customer feedback while retaining its familiar Windows DNA.

It was 23 years ago on November 20, 1985 when Windows first shipped. As it just so happens, this first Microsoft graphical shell actually holds relevance to this post as it surfaced one of the industry’s first taskbar-like concepts.

Windows 1.01

Fig 1 Windows 1.01: Icons at the bottom of the screen represent running windows

Windows 1.0 supported zoomed (full-screen), tiled and icon (minimized) windows. Since there was no support for overlapping [that big debate between charless and billg, Steven], a dedicated portion of the desktop was kept visible at the bottom of the screen to surface non-tiled and non-zoomed windows. By minimizing a window or dragging it to the bottom of the screen, the person was able to populate this rudimentary taskbar with a large icon corresponding to the running window. She could then get back to this window by clicking or dragging this icon to the desktop. As simple as this mechanism seems today, it cemented an important concept that is with us even in Windows 7—when people switch between tasks, they are really switching between windows. Although it took Windows 95 to introduce a mature taskbar with launching, switching and notification functionality, the experience of surfacing and switching between windows via a dedicated region at the bottom of the screen is as ancient as Windows 1.0.

Setting Goals

In the previous taskbar posts, we discussed some high-level principles we defined after digesting the mountain of data and feedback on the taskbar. Here’s a more detailed look at the goals we identified and how we began to frame feature concepts.

Things you use all the time are at your fingertips

It is easy to get to the programs and destinations you use all the time, with less mouse movement and fewer clicks.

Accessing commonly used programs within a single click required us to enrich Quick Launch by increasing its presence on the taskbar and making more top-level room for pinned items. We began looking into how Quick Launch interacted with the taskband and how launching and switching were sometimes separate and other times duplicative. For example, almost all single-instance programs in Windows interpret an attempt to re-launch them as a switch if they are already running. So, clicking Outlook’s icon in Quick Launch would merely switch to the program if it was already running and present in the taskband. To make room for more items on the taskbar, we knew we had to remove some of the redundancy and free up valuable real-estate.

When researching and modeling a person’s workflow, we came to realize that there were three basic steps that a person frequently seems repeats. First, she finds the program and launches it. Then, she uses the program’s UI to open a file she wants to work on. Then finally, she gets to work. We asked ourselves whether we could help people jump directly to these items by skipping the first two steps. We called these files, folders, links, websites and other items that programs create or consume “destinations” as they represent where the person is ultimately is navigating to. We decided that these destinations should also be easily accessible from the taskbar. However, for real success and adoption, we needed to think through how destinations could be effectively surfaced to the person without the need for manual customization or by requiring developers to do lots of work.

Manage your windows with confidence

You can switch to the right window quickly without mistakes and effortlessly position windows the way you want them.

This goal spoke to the very heart of the taskbar—the ability to switch between windows. This challenged us with seeking a more predictable method of surfacing windows on the taskbar, meaningful use of text and a reliable method of helping people consistently switch with confidence. We’ve had text on the taskbar for years and Vista introduced thumbnails, but customer feedback informed us that there was room for improvement. Interestingly, we found inspiration in old features such as Windows XP’s window grouping and Alt-Tab’s visual layout of individual windows.

During our investigation, we also spent time looking into why a person would switch windows in the first place. Two interesting scenarios emerged—one in which she needs to get some information from a window (e.g. getting a phone number) and to interact with a window’s options (e.g. controlling background music). We wondered whether we could address these task switching cases in a novel way—by actually removing the need to switch completely.

You are in control

The desktop reflects your style. You get to personalize the experience, choosing what is important to you, including how and when you receive notifications.

By far the biggest target of feedback, the Notification Area had to put control back in the hands of people. It was decided that instead of the opt-out model that required the person to clean up this area, we would start with a clean experience. Only system icons would appear by default and then people can to customize this area to their liking.

Clean and lightweight

The desktop experience feels organized, lightweight, open and is a pleasure to use. Visuals and animations are delighters the first time and every time.

A successful product is more than the utility it serves—it is also an experience. From the very start we wanted the taskbar, and the desktop as a whole, to draw an emotional response from the person. This required a set of scoped delighters that demoed well and retained their appeal over time. We began to define a personality for the UI using terms such as “glass and energy,” Chi, authenticity and many others. These investigations helped define a visual and animation language that we could then apply to several aspects of Windows 7. Expect a future blog post that delves much deeper into this important design process—much of which Sam discussed in his PDC session.

The Taskbar, Evolved

The Windows 7 taskbar is about launching with ease, switching with confidence and all the while remaining in control. The UI is made up of several key features that complete common end-to-end scenarios. Let’s dive into each of these elements and how they work.

Refreshed Look

The taskbar has undergone a facelift. We’ve enabled large icons by default (as seen in Windows 1.0 and also an option of Quick Launch since Windows 95 with IE 4). This affords a richer icon language, improves identification of programs and improves targeting for both the mouse and touch. Yet, one of the most important advantages large icons provide is a means to promote the taskbar as the central place to launch everyday tasks. We joke that the new taskbar is the “beachfront property of the Windows OS” and in turn, we are already seeing many people populating the UI with their commonly used programs. Somewhat if a visual trick, the taskbar is only 10 pixels (at 96 DPI) higher than its Vista counterpart (when used as a single row, since multiple rows are still supported, along with positioning around the screen edges).

Windows 7 taskbar

Fig 2. The Windows 7 taskbar: Default settings include large icons, no text and glass surface

To mitigate its slightly increased height and the larger icons, we decided to impart the UI with a more prominent glass treatment. This also allows us to better showcase the person’s color preference (you’ll recall that in a previous post we revealed that almost 30% of sessions have personalized glass). We also changed the Vista behavior so that when a window is maximized, both the taskbar and the window’s title bar continue to remain open and translucent. We received lots of feedback on Vista that many people didn’t like these UIs turning opaque and dark.


You can still pin programs to the taskbar by dragging them or via a context menu, just like you have always done with Quick Launch. Destinations can also be pinned via a drag/drop, but they are designed to be surfaced differently as we’ll see under the Jump List section.


If one increases the size of Quick Launch, one must then determine what to do with the taskband. As previously discussed, we observed that under many scenarios of single-instance programs, launching and switching were equivalent. Hence, we decided to standardize this behavior and have program launchers turn into window switchers when they are launched. Effectively, we unified Quick Launch and the taskband. While some other operating systems have similar concepts, one difference with our approach is that our default experience always optimizes for a single representation on the taskbar. This means that regardless of a window’s state (e.g. minimized, maximized or restored) there are no new or duplicate buttons created. Also, the default taskbar doesn’t allow destinations to be pinned to the top-level which prevents duplication of a pinned file and a running window with that same file open. When we say there is “one button to rule them all” we’re serious. This approach to a single, unified button keeps the taskbar uncluttered and gives the person a single place to find what she’s looking for.

Combining launching and switching also made it easier to provide the most requested feature—the ability to move taskbar buttons. Quick Launch as always allowed this, but combining this mechanism with the taskband naturally extended rearrange functionality to running windows.

Interactive, Grouped Thumbnails

Vista showed thumbnails when the user hovers on a taskbar button and Windows 7 improves upon this design. Unlike Vista, these thumbnails are now an extension of their corresponding button so the person can click on these visual aides to switch to a given window. The thumbnail is also is a more accurate representation of a window complete with an icon in the top left corner, window text and even the ubiquitous close button in the top right.

Windows 7 Taskbar Thumbnails

Fig 3. Thumbnails: Grouped, interactive thumbnails make it easier to manage windows

One of the most important functions of the taskbar is to surface individual windows so people can easily switch between them. Having unified a program launcher and a single window switcher, the next logical step was to determine how multiple windows of a program could be combined and presented. We looked no further than a feature introduced in Windows XP called window grouping. When the taskbar became full, windows of a program could collapse into a single menu. However, there were a few challenges with the design. First, the behavior isn’t predictable. People don’t really understand when this scaling mechanism is triggered. Second, a listview of windows isn’t always the best way to represent these items. Finally, opening the menu always required a click, which slowed some people down. Our solution was to combine buttons by default for a predictable experience, to use grouped thumbnails and to have these thumbnails appear on hover as well as on click. Think of this approach as a contextual Alt-tab surfaced directly off the taskbar. When the person brings her mouse to a taskbar button, all the thumbnails of a program appear simultaneously making for a organized, light-weight switching model. To polish off the experience, we show a visual cue of stacked tiles that provides feedback on whether there are multiple windows running for a program. We also recognized that a set of people may still wish to see an individual buttons for each window and an option permits this behavior.

With the Windows 7 taskbar, there is a single place to go regardless of whether the program is not running, running with one window or running with several windows. Rich thumbnails provide more intuitive ways of managing and switching between windows.

Aero Peek

Here’s a riddle for you—what’s the best size for a window’s preview that will guarantee that the you can accurately identify it? Grouped thumbnails look and feel great, but we know these small previews don’t always provide enough information to identify a window. Sure they work great for pictures, but not so for emails or documents. The answer is simply to show the actual window—complete with its real content, real size and real location. That’s the concept behind Aero Peek.

When the taskbar doesn’t offer enough information via text or a thumbnail, the person simply moves the mouse over a taskbar thumbnail and voilà—the corresponding window appears on the desktop and all other windows fade away into glass sheets. Once you see the window you want, just click to restore it. Not only does this make finding a window a breeze, it may also remove the need to switch altogether for scenarios in which one just needs a quick glance to glean information. Peek also works on the desktop too. Show Desktop has been moved to the far right of the taskbar where one can still click on this button to switch to the desktop. The control enjoys a Fitts magic corner which makes it very easy to target. If you just move your mouse over the control, all windows on the desktop turn to glass allowing the desktop to be seen. It’s easy to now glance at a stock or the weather gadget or to check to see if a file is on the desktop.

Windows 7 Aero Peek

Fig 4. Aero Peek: Hovering over a thumbnail peeks at its corresponding window on the desktop

We spent a lot of time analyzing different aspects of Peek. For example, we recognized that when people are using the feature, they won’t be necessary focused on the taskbar as they look at windows on the desktop. An early prototype triggered Peek directly off the top-level of the taskbar but this revealed issues. Moving the mouse across a small a region to trigger different previews exited Peek since the natural arc of hand motion resulted in the mouse falling off the taskbar. By only triggering Peek off the thumbnails, we gained much more room for the mouse to arc and we also reduced accidental triggers.

Jump Lists

As far back as Windows 1.0, there has always been a system menu that shows contextual controls for running windows and their programs. This menu is accessible by right-clicking on a taskband button or in the top left corner of most windows. By default, the menu exposes windows controls such as close. (Random trivia—ever wonder why the system menu off a taskbar button always shows close in bold when close isn’t the double-click behavior? Well, the answer is that double-clicking the top left region of most windows will close it and the bolded option makes sense in this context. The same menu just happens to be hosted in both locations.) Over the years, some programs have extended the system menu to surface relevant tasks. For example, Command Prompt reveals tasks such as editing options, defaults and properties in its system menu. However, this is a bit of a free-for-all for programs to opt in or not, resulting in an inconsistent experience for people. Another blow to this scenario is that the system menu is only accessible when the program is running. This makes sense since the default commands are about window management, but what if you wanted to access a program’s tasks even it isn’t running?

As we discussed under the goals section, we thought about the various steps people have to take to accomplish tasks and whether we could reduce them. Be it getting to a destination or accessing the commands of a program, we wanted to make it easier for people to jump to the things they are trying to accomplish. Jump Lists are a new feature of the Windows 7 taskbar that accomplish just this. Think of this feature as a mini Start Menu for each program or an evolved version of the system menu. Jump Lists surface commonly used nouns (destinations) and verbs (tasks) of a program. There are several advantages this new approach provides. First, the you don’t need to even start the program to quickly launch a file or access a task. Second, destinations don’t take up valuable space on the taskbar; they are automatically organized by their respective program in a simple list. Should one have ten programs pinned or running on her taskbar, this means she could have quick access to over 150 destinations she uses all the time, without even the need to customize the UI! Since the Jump List shows lots of text for each of its items, gone are the days of having identical icons on your taskbar that are indistinguishable without a tooltip. Should you wish to keep a specific destination around, you can simply pin it to the list.

Windows 7 Jump List

Fig 5. Jump List: Right-clicking on Word gives quick access to recently used documents

To make sure we provide a consistent and valuable experience out-of-the-box, we decided to pre-populate Jump Lists and also allow programs to customize the experience. By default, the menu contains the program’s shortcut, the ability to toggle pinning, the ability to close one or all windows and a program’s recent destinations (assuming they use the Common File Dialog, register their file type or use the Recent Items API). Programs are able to replace the default MRU (Most Recently Used) list with a system-maintained MFU (Most Frequently Used) list, should their destinations be very volatile. For example, while Word will benefit from a MRU just like the one in their File Menu, Windows Explorer has opted to enable the MFU because people tend to visit many paths throughout a session. Programs are also able to provide their own custom destination list when they have a greater expertise of the person’s behavior (e.g. IE exposes their own history). Still others like Windows Live Messenger and Media Player surface tasks or a mix of tasks and destinations.

In case we haven’t yet impressed it upon you, the taskbar is about a single place to launch and switch. Jump Lists offer another important piece of the puzzle as it surfaces valuable destinations and tasks off a program’s unified taskbar button.

Custom Window Switchers

All the major web browsers offer tabs and a method of managing these tabs. One could argue tab toolbars are really like taskbars since they facilitate switching. These TDI (Tabbed Document Interface) and MDI (Multiple Document Interface) programs have always resorted to creating their own internal window management systems as the Windows taskbar was not optimized to help their scenarios. Some programs like Excel did custom work to surface their child windows on the taskbar, but this approach was somewhat of a hack.

Since the new taskbar already groups individual windows of a program under a single button, we can now offer a standard way for programs that have child windows to expose them. Again, the taskbar offers a single, consistent place to access real windows as well as child windows. These custom window switchers also behave as regular windows on the taskbar with rich thumbnails and even Aero Peek.

Thumbnail Toolbars

In the earlier taskbar posts, we discussed how Windows Media Player’s deskband offers valuable background music controls, but only a mere 3% of sessions ever enjoy the functionality. The new taskbar exposes a feature called Thumbnail Toolbars that surface up to seven window controls right in context of taskbar buttons. Unlike a Jump List that applies globally to a program, this toolbar is contextual to just a specific window. By embracing this new feature, Media Player can now reach a majority of people.

Windows 7 Thumbnail Toolbar

Fig 6. Thumbnail Toolbar: Window controls easily accessible in context of a taskbar thumbnail

Thumbnail Toolbars leave the taskbar uncluttered and allow relevant tasks to be conveniently accessible directly from a taskbar thumbnail. Surfacing tasks reduces the need to switch to a window.

Notification Area

We’re happy to announce that the Notification Area is back under your control. By default, only a select few system icons are shown while all others appear in a menu. Simply drag icons on or off the taskbar to control the experience. Better yet, every balloon tip that appears in the system has a little wrench icon that allows one to quickly “swat” an annoying alert by immediately seeing what is causing the notification and a direct way to disable it.

Windows 7 Notification Overflow

Fig 7. Notification Overflow: By default icons appear in an overflow area that you can then promote

Interestingly a very popular change to Notification Area isn’t about reducing noise, but rather showing more information. The default taskbar now reveals both the time and the date. Finally!

Overlay Icons and Progress Bars

Cleaning the Notification Area warrants us to consider other ways that programs can surface important information. We’ll always had overlay icons throughout Windows (e.g. to show shortcuts in Explorer) so we decided to bring this functionality to the taskbar. An icon can now be shown over a program’s taskbar button. Furthermore, programs can also give feedback about progress by having their taskbar button turn into a progress bar.

Windows 7 Progress Bar

Fig 8. Progress Bars: Explorer utilizes taskbar progress to show a copy operation in process

A program can now easily show an icon or progress in context of its taskbar button which furthers the one place, one button philosophy of the taskbar.

Color Hot-track

Color hot-track is a small touch that typifies the new taskbar’s personality. When a person moves her mouse over a running program on the taskbar, she will be pleasantly surprised to find that a light source tracks her mouse and the color of the light is actually based on the icon itself. We calculate the most dominant RGB of the icon and dynamically paint the button with this color. Color hot-track provides a delight factor, it offers feedback that a program is running and it showcases a program’s icon. We’ve always believed that programs light up the Windows platform and now, we’re returning the favor.

Windows 7 Color Hot-track

Fig 9. Color Hot-track: moving the mouse across a running window reveals a dynamically colored light effect

Start Menu

Vista introduced several changes to the Start Menu so we decided to minimize churn to this UI in Windows 7. Notable improvements include the availability of Jump Lists and a better power button that defaults to Shutdown, but makes it easy to customize.

Different, Yet Familiar

Despite all the features of the new taskbar, it is worthwhile noting the UI retains its familiarity. We like to describe our work as evolutionary, not revolutionary. The taskbar continues to be a launch surface, a window switcher and a whisperer of notifications. Whether one is relatively new to Windows or a seasoned pro, we realize change comes at a cost. It is for this reason that we took the time to carefully evaluate feedback, we performed numerous studies to validate our designs and finally, we will continue to provide scoped settings that keep the UI flexible.

We hope this post provided more insight into the new Windows 7 taskbar. Expect future discussions on our design process, how we tested our features and advanced functionality for all you enthusiasts.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seagate 7200.11 hard drive firmware woes continue


A few days ago I blogged about the new seagate 1.5 terrabyte drive and the problems it has.

Read about that here >

It seems the problems continue though!

Barracuda 7200.11 hard drive owners just can't seem to catch a break. Last week, Seagate revealed that a number of the drives (along with some Maxtor and ES.2 offerings) had a firmware "bricking" bug that could render them inoperable, and it said users could install a firmware update to eliminate the issue.

Well, according to a new thread on the Seagate forums, the new firmware can actually brick drives after a successful update. A number of folks are complaining of unusable Barracuda 7200.11 500GB drives (model number ST3500320AS) after installing the update, and one user has complained of a similar problem with a 1TB model. The drives reportedly become inaccessible, much like when the bug in the previous firmware version reared its head.

The Tech Report has the full story. On the plus side, Seagate are at least offering free data recovery to users who are unable to get to their data:

Customers can expedite assistance by sending an email to Seagate. Please include the following disk drive information: model number, serial number and current firmware revision. We will respond, promptly, to your email request with appropriate instructions. There is no data loss associated with this issue, and the data still resides on the drive. But if you are unable to access your data due to this issue, Seagate will provide free data recovery services. Seagate will work with you to expedite a remedy to minimize any disruption to you or your business.

You can find their knowledge base article regarding this issue here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Screen Capture on Vista and XP & FREEWARE PRINTKEY 2000: a Screen Capture software for Windows


1) ON VISTA (built in tool) (for XP see below)

Vista has a nice tool that is called SNIPPING tool that helps you take screen captures.

For those who don't know about this here is a fast guide:


Then the snipping tool will appear. Drag the area of your screen that you want to capture and then save it.

snipping 2

2) For XP and Vista: a free Screen Capture tool

Download PrintKey 2000 freeware from here:


Install it, and run it, and you will see the PrintKey icon in the system tray:



Now just press the PRINT SCREEN key on your KEYBOARD (see key encircled in red in image below)


And then this window will pop up, just press the SAVE icon on the toolbar and save your screencapture!



That's it… Hope you like it!


Comments are welcome!

Monday, January 19, 2009

FREE PROGRAM: Tidy your windows start menu with tidy start menu!


You know how your start menu gets cluttered? With XP you had the start menu that unfolded towards the right, that was good and fast, but then you got lost with too many programs.

With Vista they just crammed everything in a start menu that unfolded upon itself, with the assumption that you would use the search box to search for your programs…

Of course many people didn't like that so they switched to the classic menu.

But what if you are someone that likes everything tidy and neat??? (like me)

Here is a tool that can organize your start menu:

Tidy Start Menu [freeware] 

Download a freeware version (1.09 MB)

Compatible with :

Windows 98
Windows Me
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows 2003
Windows XP
Windows Vista      

As you can see below (before and after images) it helps you organize your menu items into categories! There is also a payware version that has more options.

Usual Start Menu

Tidy Start Menu


Application screenshots:





Comments are welcome

Windows 7 Theme for VISTA!


This is the current theme I'm using on VISTA, it looks like windows 7 and I prefer it than the normal aero version of vista (after some time having only one theme is BORING ya know!).

***Windows 7 style, tested with Windows Vista SP1 and x86 systems ONLY!****

NOTE: changing the theme is not for everyone, do it only if you are adventurous! If you see my tutorial below (video) you will see that I mention making a restore point before doing anything. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

                 BEFORE                                           AFTER    

before after

Click on thumbnails above to see a large image.

Download the WALLPAPER of Windows7 (click on thumbnail)

Windows 7 Beta Default Desktop 

See my video below on how to apply the theme:

Please have mind that this patch (vistaglazz) is NOT supported by microsoft!


Also visit the CREATOR of this theme “giannisgx98” on deviant art and if you like his theme please DONATE see this page on deviant art for details about that


Download below the THEME (THIN TASKBAR VERSION) (this is the one in the screenshots)

Download below the THEME (FAT Task bar version) (more like windows7)


Relative links:

Add THEMES to Vista for FREE with Vistaglazz!!!

Subscribe to my RSS by clicking the link on the top right side bar

Subscribe to my YouTube channel


Comments are Welcome!

Video: Did You Know????


This video is mind opening, intriguing, and …. scary! Where are we heading? What does this mean? What does the future have in store for us? Comments are welcome…

Sunday, January 18, 2009



I have tried everything to try get macromedia flash player to install but Adobe_Flash_cs3
it wont.
I think i have done all of the obvious but now I am at a
loss any help would be greatly appreciated.


Step 1) Run the flash uninstaller in the above Below first.


Step 2) Then install flash 10.0, after unticking the Google Toolbar option from link below:


OR download the offline installer here:

Flash for Internet Explorer:

Flash for FIREFOX:

Seagate Barracuda hard drives plagued by failures!


During Christmas time a friend asked me what I thought about this drive. 1.5 terabytes!

It was on sale on

I quickly went to and starting reading the reviews on that site, its a good resource by the way. You can read about what other people are saying about a particular hardware. And what I was reading was not that encouraging. I finally advised her AGAINST getting this drive, instead I told her to get the Western Digital BLACK series that I have tested myself and had even written a review about.

Follow this link to read my review: Hard Disk Review: EXTREMELY FAST Western Digital BLACK series!

The Western Digital Black series disk may be more expensive and less space but its a good drive.

I advised her correctly because as you will read below people are having lots of problems with this particular drive.


Numerous complaints are being reported from customers who own the 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 hard drive at the Seagate's online support forum.
The hard drive seems to just freeze during data transfers. Kabatek, Brown and Kellner LLP, a seagate-jpg consumer law firm, is considering a lawsuit against Seagate because of the high failure rates of the Barracuda 7100.11.

Seagate, the world's largest Hard drive maker released the 3.5-inch internal drive, Barracuda 7200.11 in July 2008. The hard drive offers 1.5TB of capacity on four platters and uses a SATA 3GB/sec interface, delivering a sustained data rate of up to 120MB/sec. The drive is also available in 1TB, 750GB, 640GB, 500GB, 320GB and 160GB capacities, with 32MB and 16MB Cache buffer size.

Seagate has stated that some other hard drive models like DiamondMax 22, Barracuda ES.2 SATA, SV35 are also affected by a firmware bug which makes the drive fail when the host system is powered on and the data becomes inaccessible.
Seagate is currently offering a free firmware upgrade for the affected drives. Customers can expedite assistance by calling Seagate Support(1-800-SEAGATE) or by sending an e-mail to Seagate. The e-mail should include the disk drive model number, serial number and current firmware revision which can be known by downloading the Seagate Drive Detect software program available in Seagate Knowledge Base.

How to get the QUICKLAUNCH toolbar back in WINDOWS 7 beta 1!


EDIT: I remembered a simple way to get a quick launch – like, toolbar for free and using no third party program! But I still love true quick launch because it adds so much functionality.

For people that still like the way the quick launch bar worked in windows XP and vista, and want to continue having the same functionality in WINDOWS 7, here is a tip on how to get it back


See the below video tutorial showing you HOW TO ALL A QUICKLAUNCH toolbar to windows 7. You can also visit my ComputerBoom Youtube channel & while you are there, subscribe to my YouTube video channel too!

2) Shareware Way (but FAR SUPERIOR!)

You can use the fantastic and much superior TRUE LAUNCH BAR (shareware $19.90)

You just install this little program (RESTART) and right click on your taskbar > toolbars> and select True launch bar

See screenshot below:


VIDEO DEMO ON HOW TO ENABLE THIS and some of its fantastic features that go way beyond the simple quick launch bar: (click on thumbnail below to view the video)



More tips and tricks for windows 7 beta 1

HOW TO ENABLE AERO GLASS in Windows7 in a virtual machine!
Windows 7 Beta: Remove the Send Feedback Link from the Title Bar
FIX: How to get back the Live Messenger TRAY icon on Windows 7 Beta 1
How to make the icons and taskbar SMALL in Windows 7 beta1
How-To receive a valid Windows 7 beta key
PATCH: Windows 7 beta could corrupt your MP3s
How to Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista [Windows 7]
A Fast HEADS UP!: Windows 7 beta 1 was just officially released!  (with OFFICIAL direct download links for windows 7!)


Comments are welcome!

HOW TO ENABLE AERO GLASS in Windows7 in a virtual machine!


I was finally able to obtain AERO GLASS from a virtual machine via remote desktop but here is the only case I have been able to make it work:

1) You need to have windows7 running as the HOST

2) You need Vmware Workstation and install windows 7 again inside there to create a virtual machine with windows7 (client)

3) You need to connect via remote desktop with everything enabled in the RDP client under EXPERIENCE

The result is this (click on thumbnail to see large image):

My blog discussing this subject and why it cannot work under vista is here:

- For those wondering how I removed the SEND FEEDBACK link on the windows of win7 beta 1 see this post:

- For those wondering how I got the QUICKLAUNCH toolbar back in windows7 beta 1 see link below:

How to get the QUICKLAUNCH toolbar back in WINDOWS 7 beta 1!


More tips and tricks for windows 7 beta 1

How to get the QUICKLAUNCH toolbar back in WINDOWS 7 beta 1!

HOW TO ENABLE AERO GLASS in Windows7 in a virtual machine!

Windows 7 Beta: Remove the Send Feedback Link from the Title Bar
FIX: How to get back the Live Messenger TRAY icon on Windows 7 Beta 1
How to make the icons and taskbar SMALL in Windows 7 beta1
How-To receive a valid Windows 7 beta key
PATCH: Windows 7 beta could corrupt your MP3s
How to Dual Boot Windows 7 with XP or Vista [Windows 7]
A Fast HEADS UP!: Windows 7 beta 1 was just officially released!  (with OFFICIAL direct download links for windows 7!)


thank you, comments are welcome