Cool Drag & Drops

If you´ve been working with computers for a bit, you know that you can drag and drop files from folder to folder. What you may now know is that there are plenty more uses for drag and drop. Here´s a 3 very useful drag and drops:

  1. Drag a program from the start menu to the desktop.
    This is great if you use something all the time, but the program did not install a desktop icon. Note: Putting freecell on your desktop may be hazardous to your productivity.
  2. Drag a folder/file/program to the start menu.
    You can´t just drop it anywhere on the start menu, as parts of it were written in stone.
  3. Drag a tab in Firefox to the Bookmark menu.
    This makes bookmarks super easy. You can even drag the tab to the bookmark toolbar.

Pointer Clues

When you drag and drop, your mouse pointer will change. If you are not allowed to drop something somewhere, you will have a no sign (like no smoking). If you are allowed to drop something there, you will have a normal pointer with a dashed box. Usually, a black line will show where the item will drop.

Right-Click Drag and Drop

If you use the right mouse button instead of the left, when you drop the item you will see a little menu. This will ask if you want to copy, move, create a shortcut, or cancel. Most of the time, Windows will move the item. Sometimes a copy is made. If you right-drag it, you can decide.

Middle-Click

Sadly, the scroll wheel, sometimes called the middle button, does not drag and drop. It does have some pretty cool uses though, including opening a link in a new tab.

One Final Clickity Note

Always use the left mouse button, unless told specifically to use another button.

Networking Day 6: Shared folders

Sharing a folder is an easy way to copy files from one computer to another. Windows shares work with Windows, MacOS and linux.

Setting your computer’s name
Right-click on My Computer and then click Properties. Under the name tab, you can setup the name. Your computer will reboot after you click OK. This step is not neccessary if you are using a static IP address.

Setting up a share on Windows
Sharing a folder is a snap. Right-click on a folder you want to share and then click “Sharing ans Security”. If you have never shared a folder before, click the link and tell it to enable sharing. Give the share a name. Check the box if you want other people to write to files or create files in this folder.

Connecting to a share on Windows
Click on the Start Button, then click on “Run…”. In the box type “\\COMPUTERNAME\” replacing COMPUTERNAME with the name of your computer or it’s IP address. Click OK and it will show you all the shares on that computer.

You can map a shared folder to a drive, like “Z:\”. Simply, right-click on a shared folder and select “Map Network Drive”. From that popup, select your drive letter. Click OK and you’re done. That drive will attempt to reconnect everytime the computer is booted.

5 Free Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

There are many ways to make your computer faster. Many approaches requires money, but that leaves plenty of ways to speed up your computer without spending a dime. I’ll go over 5 ways right here, right now.

1. Uninstall Norton!

Norton Anti-virus and Internet Security clows down your computer a lot. Instead, use AVG free edition. It uses far less resources, thus your computer runs faster. My sister-in-law turned me onto this anti virus a few years ago and I recommend it for anyone.

When you uninstall Norton, make sure to remove the various programs in a specific order. First, you should uninstall the anti-virus and internet security. After a reboot, uninstall LiveUpdate and reboot again. Now, simply go to download.com and search for “avg free” and download & install. Note: ignore the sponsors.

2. Kill the programs in your systray, by the clock.

If you have more than 2 or 3 icons in the systray, this will help immensely. Run the program “msconfig” from Start->Run… This will bring up the system configuration. We’re only interested in what is in the Startup tab.
Uncheck everything under the startup tab, then put a check for your anti virus. If you have AVG, those programs will have ‘avg’ in their name. Click OK and reboot. Your computer should run at least 10%, up to 75%, faster now.

3. Set your browser’s home page.

Does your browser, Internet Explorer or Firefox, take forever to load? Part of the problem might be your home page. If your home page is big and lengthy, the process of downloading and rendering the page could add upwards of 15 seconds to your browser’s load time.

You have several options available. One is to set your browser’s home page to something that is relatively quick to load, like Google.com. Another option is to set it to use a blank page.

4. Change the performance options.

This is something most people don’t know exists. If you’re fine with XP looking like Windows 98, this fix is for you. Sorry Vista users, I have not used Vista, so I don’t know how to do this with Vista. If someone figures it out, please leave a comment.

To make this change, right click on ‘My Computer’ and click on properties. Under the ‘Advanced’ tab, click on ‘Settings’ under ‘Performance’. In the window that pops up, choose ‘Adjust for best performance’ then click OK. You computer will stop responding for up to 10 seconds and will come back a lot quicker. Do a reboot to finish this fix.

5. Sort out your Start Menu.

Do you have multiple columns in your Programs menu from the Start button? If so, that could be slowing down your computer every time you open that menu. Sorting the menu down to 1 column can save you time two fold. You programs will be organized and easier to find and you computer will load and render the menu much faster.

This sorting can be somewhat complicated, mainly because Windows gives each user their own Programs folder and a centralized Programs folder for all users. Each user will see the blending of the centralized and personalized Programs folder. If there is only 1 login for the computer or each user should have access to all the programs installed, you can just put everything in the centralized location (2 Steps). If this isn’t the case, you’ll have to figure out which programs are needed by which user and which programs are needed by all the users(3 Steps).

Step 1: Consolidate the Programs menu

To sort the menu, right click on the Start button and click on Explore. This brings up your Programs menu folder. To copy everything to the central location, double click on programs, select all the folders & files, and cut. Now on the left pane with all the folders, click the plus next to ‘All Users’ then the plus next to ‘Start Menu’. Click on the Programs folder under that. Now paste.

Step 2: Sort the menu

Now that everything is in the central location, create a folder called “Internet”. You can find the individual programs and drag them into this new folder or you can drag folders into this folder. Just repeat this process until you are happy with your start menu.

Step 3: Personalize the start menu

This step is only required if you want to limit the programs available to certain users. Each user, or login, to the computer has a folder under ‘Documents and Settings’. Under each user’s folder, there is a Start Menu folder. If you want user x, and no one else, to have quick access to a certain program just cut and paste that program from the central, ‘All Users’, into that user’s start menu. If you want user x and user y to have access, just copy and paste instead.

Now that your computer is running faster, you’ll probably be more productive, if you don’t just play games that is. As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Death of Windows XP

Windows XP will be pulled from the shelves in less than 3 months time. The official finale will be observed June 30, 2008. Many people are up in arms over this. There is even a petition to keep XP on the shelves. As the date nears, I am advising people who will be in the market for a new computer between now and 2010 to try Linux.

Try it, that’s all I ask. Linux has advanced dramatically from it’s conception in 1991. There are several distributions, or flavors, that offer a LiveCD or LiveDVD. A LiveCD/LiveDVD is simply a copy of Linux that runs directly from a burned CD/DVD. It installs nothing to your computer, so you aren’t forced to do anything to your computer except drop the disc in and reboot.

Many of these LiveCDs allow you to install Linux after you have tried it. For a newbie, or noob(pronounced the same way), Ubuntu is your best bet. Anyone with a blank CD-R, a CD burner, and a high speed internet connection (or a friend with high speed) can do it.

Linux is different from Windows; however the KDE desktop environment is very similar to Windows and comes with a Redmond* Theme that looks almost exactly like Windows XP. The programs are called different names, but you can enjoy a lot of the same programs, like Firefox.

I know, some of you might be saying, “What about my games?” They’ve got most of them covered too. There’s a Windows Emulator** called Wine. There’s also a program call PlayOnLinux which sets everything up for many many Windows programs, including my favorite game, WoW.

So, give it a try! You might be sorely disappointed, but I doubt you’ll be that disappointed.

* Microsoft is based in Redmond, WA. Hence the name.

** An emulator is a program, or set of programs, that allows you to run a different system of software, such as Playstation or Windows.