Structure Computer Technical Blog

Friday, May 1, 2009

Windows 7 Release Candidate - Download Now

For those of us who jumped into Vista relatively early and had the distinct feeling of being Beta Testers who paid for the privilege, we have been looking forward to the "fix" from Microsoft. It was clear early on that Microsoft had a buggy product and SP1 came out pretty fast but rumors started swirling about a new OS on the horizon. From late 2008 the rumors got loud and then in Jan 2009 it was announced that a Windows 7 Beta was available. Since then the reviews have been positive about the performance and it was clear the Redmond was determined to get it out in 2009 which was probably a year earlier than originally forecast.

Now with the RC available for download by everyone starting May 5th or MSDN subscribers starting April 29th it looks like Microsoft is ready to start giving code to system builders to get them ready. (Yes - my download is already running and will soon be running on a virtual machine)

After running Vista Business for 18 months and seeing a variety of weird hang-ups and bugs I have to say that if my RC candidate install goes well then I won't be waiting to upgrade to Win 7 when it is formally released for sale.

One major gripe that I have and it appears that MS will go through with is the number of versions and SKUs they will be releasing. Current rumors are that there are 5 SKUs released for Win 7 and that painfully reminds me of the mess they made of all the versions in Vista.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

USB 3.0 Spec coming Nov 17th

Intel and others having been working on a new specification for USB for quite a while now. I recall several months ago reading an article about some of the delays and setbacks for getting this new spec completed. All that waiting will pay off on Monday November 17th, 2008 when the official spec will be released.

The new USB 3.0 plugs and devices won't be available anytime soon but maybe by Q3 of 2009???

The really good news is that the plugs are exactly the same size and design and that the USB 3.o plugs will work with current USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 devices so the overall majority of devices will work fine. However if you have a USB 3.0 device plugged into a USB 3.0 plug you can expect throughput speeds of around 4.8 Gbps. Here is how Intel shows the increase.

A brief performance comparison sample for data transfer of a 25GB HD movie:

USB 1.0: 9.3 hours
USB 2.0: 13.9 minutes
USB 3.0: 70 seconds

The first things I've read say that Microsoft isn't promising native support in the new Windows 7 that is due out in late 2009 or 2010 depending on who you ask. That means it will have to come as a service pack or update later on. I couldn't find the news on Mac's but you can bet they will adopt pretty early on.

Monday, November 10, 2008

E-Waste Recycling and Ethical Recycling

As our digital age starts to age we are seeing a complete turnover of electronic equipment at a pace that is astounding. We get asked regularly about recycling computer and equipment. To date we have found a few companies that offer that service but you never know what is happening once they take it from you.

After doing some reading and watching this episode from 60 Minutes you start to ask yourself do I know for sure our recycling was done properly or was it sent to some other country like China where the people doing the work are being exposed to hazardous things because the money is good for them??

Most E-Recyclers will charge a small fee to take your electronics but isn't that worth it to know your waste was handled properly and all the metals & plastics recycled while the hazardous chemicals are dealt with properly.

The Basel Convention was formed to stop industrialized countries from dumping their toxic waste on 3rd world countries.

The website is to create awareness and keep a list of certified e-recyclers who have passed requirements of how they treat the waste.

While most of these charge a few to drop off equipment, the fee is normally small and worth the price to know we are not polluting impoverished nations to satisfy our lust for new electronics.

Our local Utah recycler is Guaranteed Recycling Xperts (GRX) and their Utah location is in Clearfield at the Freeport Center. Here is their contact info and I hope we will all start to use these certified companies and ask other recycling companies to get certified.

GRX - Salt Lake City
Eric Anderson
Freeport Center
P.O. Box 160127
Building E 16
Clearfield, UT 84016
Phone: (801) 386-2533

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vista Snipping Tool

Those who are Vista pros might consider this a little silly but FINALLY Microsoft has created a useful tool for screen capture. Just recently I figured out what it was and it was actually useful.

You can type Snipping into the start search bar or go to 'All Programs’ then ‘Accessories’ then ‘Snipping tool’

With this tool you can cut blocks from the screen or even do a free form draw with the mouse. While the tool is modest and simple and there are better tools out there you can buy, this is a cool new tool that is free is all versions of Vista but Home Basic (that is another gripe story for another time).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Killing the bubble to tell you just printed!!!

While it had never really crossed my mind too much, someone asked me how to kill the bubble that pops from the system tray when you print. Since having that conversation and digging up the answer it has annoyed me more and more when I see it. The thought of "I know I just printed something you idiot" comes to my brain as I wait for the message to time out and go away.

So with that, I can't help but post the instructions on how to kill the annoying print pop-up bubble. Instructions for WindowsXP and Vista is almost the same.

  1. Click 'Start' then 'Control panel' then open the "Printers and Faxes" window.
  2. Click 'File' (ALT-F), then select Server Properties (In Vista just right click in the whitespace where the printers are listed and select "server properties".
  3. On the 'Print Server Properties' window click the "Advanced" tab up at the top of the window.
  4. Make sure that both "Notify when remote documents are printed" and "Show informational notifications for network printers" are both UNCHECKED.
    1. In Vista UNCHECK "Show informational notifications for network printers" AND "Show informational notifications for local printers"
  5. Click 'Apply' the 'OK' and close the printers window

For some networked printers it seemed to need to reboot the system for the effect to happen but perhaps I just wasn't patient enough, but hey it is Windows and can always use a good reboot, right?!!!!


Quickbooks won't launch after joining computer to domain

It won't work after uninstalling and reinstalling, either. Inside the Quickbooks 200X folder there will be a reboot.bat file. It works like a champ.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Drobo Version 2 - Still a Let Down

When I first laid eyes on an original Drobo ( I was really impressed with the technology and how this device could easily handle hard drive failures. What bothered me then and still bothers me now are 2 main items.

First is the price tag. Starting at $500 for a device with NO hard drives is pretty steep for most home users. Although this point could be forgiven if the device had everything else in place.

The second thing is the network share. Drobo V.1 and now V.2 both require you to buy the $200 add-on of DroboShare to put this thing on your network. At least the new DroboShare is Gigabit ethernet.

For $700 to start, plus the cost of hard drives you will be closing in the $1000 price tag pretty quickly. They do offer a prebuilt 1TB setup for $900 - OUCH!!!

With the general computer user starting to really figure out the need for a good backup and the cost of hard drives dropping dramatically, I think this market is going to really get hot. Western Digital already has a 2 GB backup device that is a mirrored solution of 2 hard drives. Okay it is 1TB of data if you use mirroring, but this device is only $550 pre-canned. You can get 1TB external drives from Western Digital for around $200 that are USB (which is how I currently backup my laptop and desktop PC)

Let's not forget the TeraStations I have purchased for clients made by Buffalo Technology. They have a complete line of network storage devices. They even have a LinkStation Mini device that is 1TB in size and has a network jack built in for around the $500-550 price tag.

Even further are the online data backup solutions. These companies will do an online backup to an offsite location which is really appealing. (Think house/office fire) But they also can be scheduled to backup at night or when the system isn't in use. Companies like Carbonite offer a full year of unlimited backup capacity for $50 per year. ( )

Others that offer the service are Mozy ( ) which has plans starting at $5 per month. Mac users can use iDrive and I'm sure there are others.

With all that downward pressure on the price I wonder why Drobo can't put out a simple device with the networking options??? I think I would pay a little more for the technology of hot swapping drives in a Drobo over the Buffalo TeraStation but right now they are charging a big premium for that option.