CyberCoyote — November 12, 2009

NEWS and NOTES
Moving to Windows 7

A couple of days ago, George and I roughed out the bulk of our program for this season. We're starting with a series that will cover many aspects of moving to Windows 7.

The first one today was about "Job One" in the move to Windows 7 — protecting your new or upgraded computer on the Internet. It covered what you need to do before you ever start using Windows 7 online.

The advantage of Windows 7 is that it was designed to make it easy to make it secure. User Account Control (UAC) is a big part of that design. You want to take advantage of that. It's the key to making your computer as secure as possible with reasonable effort.

My Proactive Security - Part 2 (Windows 7 or Vista) webpage shows how to integrate UAC into a comprehensive security system that takes care of Job One. My Vista WiKi (works for Win 7 too) shows how to set up a Standard User account, which is an essential part of that system.

If you're going to upgrade to Windows 7 before we finish the series, you may find my collection of excerpts from a few good articles helpful. Update:It's probably obvious, but the "Go to source" button will take you to the original article.

Free WiFi for the Holidays

Google has leased a batch of WiFi service for the Holidays. They're using existing providers, and making WiFi free to travelers. From their announcement:

When you're traveling this holiday season, you can enjoy free WiFi at 47 participating airports and on every Virgin America flight. Just bring a WiFi-enabled laptop or mobile device and stay connected to family and friends for free while you travel now through January 15, 2010.

via Lifehacker

TECH TOPIC
Messing about in Windows

I've just finished a week of messing about with Windows 7. I started by installing my *essential* programs on the new 64-bit, Windows 7 PC I just bought. I needed to get it set up as my main computer so I could switch from my old one.

That went well, as I'd already worked with early versions of Windows 7 for about a year. Most of my programs are 32-bit, but they all run fine. I am having trouble printing with my LaserJet 1020, even though I installed the new 64-bit Windows 7 driver for it. I'll deal with that later.

Downloading Win7 from Microsoft

Next I upgraded my six-year-old, home-built PC to Windows 7. The tricky part was working around the old BIOS, which doesn't know how to boot from DVDs. The solution was to start Windows XP, which was still installed, and use that to run the setup file on the DVD. The name of that file is "setup.exe" on most Win 7 media, but it was "Win7-HP-Retail-en-us-x86.exe" in the download I picked.

The installation process went well, with no problems and a few minor surprises. It took 30 minutes to complete. I got a nasty surprise after I had been using my upgraded PC for a while though. An unstoppable string of fives — 55555555555555555 — streamed in every time I clicked somewhere to enter text.

I tried restarting programs, rebooting, and so on, with no success. Then it dawned on me that those fives just had to be coming from the keyboard. Sure enough, they stopped when I unplugged the keyboard. That was a scary moment in the early second life of my old PC. So be careful out there. Windows 7 is a keyboard killer.

After that adventure with my old PC, I had worked up enough courage to tackle the club's laptop, which was arranged differently. It was set up to boot either Windows XP or Vista Ultimate (gratis from Microsoft). I also going to use standard media from the club's "family pack" for this upgrade.

You get two DVDs with a family pack, a 32-bit one and a 64-bit one, plus licenses for three computers. The introductory price is $150.

The club's laptop didn't want to boot from a DVD either. It probably would have with some finagling, but I just started "setup.exe" from Windows Vista. I picked the choice to replace Windows XP with Windows 7 (and keep Vista).

There were no problems during the install process on this computer either, and just one surprise: Windows 7 ended up on D:\ — not on C:\ where XP originally was — and Vista is now on the C:\drive. I also installed Windows Security Essentials, and still need to install several other programs.

[messing about in boats]

ODDS and ENDS
Raindrops keep falling...

Did you know they bounce when they hit a puddle? Well, I'm not convinced that actual raindrops do, but this controlled experiment with water drops is fascinating nonetheless. Think of surface tension as the thin-but-strong elastic skin that forms at any water-to-air interface. In the case of a drop, somewhat like a tiny water balloon.

Journey to the center of the earth...

I wonder what the ancient Greeks thought. [2 minute video]

That's all, folks.