Microsoft puts its mouse in Mac clothing

Microsoft is looking to make its Bluetooth notebook mouse more Mac friendly.

The emphasis in that sentence is on the word "looking."

The software maker hasn't made any software or hardware changes to the Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. It has however, created a new retail packaging for the product, dubbing it Microsoft Notebook Mouse for Mac.

The new Microsoft Notebook Mouse for Mac is really a repackaged version of the company's existing Bluetooth muse.

(Credit: Microsoft)

Gone is the red packaging and the "Certified for Windows Vista" logo. In its place is a Mac logo and white packaging. Of course, the same mouse is inside, meaning the Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 works perfectly well on a Mac, while the Microsoft Notebook Mouse for Mac has no problem working with Vista, or XP for that matter.

It will be interesting to see if Mac users take to the new packaging. The company has a mixed track record in the Mac space. Its Office for Mac is a huge seller and many people site its availability as a key factor in their being willing to switch to a Mac.

But it has pulled back on other efforts, including killing its ill-fated MSN for Mac service, Internet Explorer and Virtual PC for Mac.

Microsoft's current packaging apparently wasn't drawing too many Mac users, even with its inviting "Certified for Windows Vista" logo.

(Credit: Microsoft)

.NET Framework Library Source Code now available – ScottGu’s Blog

The .NET Framework source is being released under a read-only reference license. When we announced that we were releasing the source back in October, some people had concerns about the potential impact of their viewing the source. To help clarify

.NET Framework Library Source Code now available - ScottGu's Blog

Open source software for Windows

Open source projects are usually free, and more stable than small commercial software. But that's not always true. Anyway if you're looking for open source software to use on Windows you can check out the list below

  • Web browsers: FireFox: one of the best browsers out there.
  • Video players: Miro: Plays almost all video types, supports RSS and torrent downloads.
  • Instant Messengers: Pidgin: Can use it to connect to multiple IM accounts including MSN, IM, AOL and Jabber simultaneously.
  • Email: Thunderbird: Another Mozilla great product with many features from FireFox (Themes and extensions).
  • P2P: Cabos: Simple, easy to use based on GNUtella network file sharing program.
  • DVD ripping/Video conversion: Media Coder: Great for ripping CDs, DVDs and converting to many file formats.
  • Office suites: OpenOffice: The world famous Microsoft Office replacement for the open source community.
  • Graphics/Photo editing: GIMP: Can do almost anything Adobe Photoshop is capable of.
  • FTP: FileZilla: Just flat out excellent.
  • IRC: X-Chat 2: The famous GNome IRC client.
  • Chat clients: AMSN: MSN Messenger replacement for the Linux community.
  • Mapping tools: Nasa World Wind: Very similar to Google Earth, it requires the Microsoft .NET framework to run.

Easy Cleaner 2.0

Last night I was stumbling upon computer related pages, when I bumped into a page titled "The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities". I took a look at the list of categories then I began checking them one by one. Well, I found it'd take me a whole day to do that so I started looking for interesting categories.

First of all I want to state that whoever made that list spent really long time doing this and I found some of the freeware listed in there very interesting, so Thanks for the effort unknown hero.

I looked at the "Best Free Registry Cleaner" just so I can backup my opinion in my past article "Keeping Windows Alive". It seems that CCleaner is there in that list but I also found a freeware that I haven't heard of "Easy Cleaner 2.0" so I decided to give it a try.

I installed it, started it, And found it to be multi tasking not just a registry cleaner. It can perform some useful tasks, so I tested those features. After going through my registry Easy Cleaner found many problems that CCleaner was unaware of. I cleaned them but found out it doesn't ask you if you want to make backups. Only because it backs up everything all by itself, and I found that a real plus since I always think "What will happen if I don't?".

Anyway I noticed that Easy Cleaner can scan you disk for unwanted file, so I gave that a try too. It was looking for unnecessary file types instead of looking for them by app or folder.

I decided then to reboot my computer to see if the startup time has improved. And yes it did improve. But as soon as I started a Microsoft Office application, it began the Repair process and asked me for the installation source. But that was about it, no other problems and so many files and registry problems removed from my computer. I still think it's great even though it removed some necessary files or registry keys.

Keeping Windows alive – part 3

Registry - The origin of most problems

This is the bad part in Windows as an OS. Windows has this very huge data center where the system and many applications can store anything, most of the registry is meaningless for a normal human, given that you might be able to track down and understand a couple of keys. But still very hard to make out. If you like a challenge type "regedit" in your run dialog.

Anyway, if you take a look at your registry you might find information about programs that you have removed for over a year. See, windows has this defect "it doesn't keep track" when it comes to the registry, and most of software creators don't even bother to cleanup when their installers/uninstallers.

This is where software like CCleaner - Another CNet highly decorated tool - comes handy. This easy and visually appealing tool can help you clean up your disk in a more advanced way the the windows Disk Cleanup utility. And it's capable of detecting some of the applications that store temporary data and cleanup after them.

Anyway it has wonderful power for such a small tool. But what does it have to do with the Registry?

If you click the "Registry" button you'll see a list of registry problem names that you might have heard of. Select the things you'd like CCleaner to look for, but be careful it's not that easy, the consequences might be harmful to your computer.

After selecting the issues you'd like detected click the "Scan for issues" button will do it's work and add the found registry problems to the list on the right with a check next to each of them. Checked problem are marked for fixing which means removal from the registry.

If you get any results you'll see the "Fix selected issues" button enabled. Click it and CCleaner will prompt you to create a backup of all the registry keys it's going to modify. Do NOT hesitate, say yes always and keep a backup for a couple of days until you make sure everything is working fine, The backup is very easy to restore, just double click the backup file and all the registry keys will be restored.

Now you can begin fixing issues 1 at a time or all in once, this operation might take some time and the application might stop responding if you have too many problems.

Anyway now that you have a clean registry try repeating the whole thing, new problem might be detected after the removal of old ones.

Now you have a huge registry with fewer problems (nothing can take care of all the problems so far). That registry as you might know is stored on your disk and for being so critical might need some extra treatment.

Any disk defragmenter will fail to handle registry files successfully. And that's why AusLogics came up with another highly decorated great tool called "Auslogics Registry Defrag" which simply keeps your registry as compact as possible install and use it, and you'll see the difference. It'll increase the performance of your Windows by a good percentage.

And that's it, you now should have your Windows as good as new.

Good luck and I hope you enjoyed reading this long article

Keeping Windows alive – part 2

Now that we're done talking about disk cleanup, it's time to discuss disk defragmentation

Disk Defragment

Disks are always partitioned to those small pieces we call "Allocation Units" when reformatting them. This means that the disk is cut into small pieces with specific size for each piece. So when a file is written on that disk it'll be stored into 1 or more of those unit depending on it's size. The larger the unit is the less files you can store in it and the smaller it is the longer it'll take for your file to be located. We're talking about milliseconds not that much time. But when a large file -larger than a single unit - is written on the disk the OS will allocate as much units as necessary, and that's were the problem begins. Sometimes a file is written into distant units so when reading it, the disk will take more time, and that's what we call a "fragmented file". Of course there are expensive brands of disks that do not allow fragmentation of a file but in case you don't have one of those you can ask Windows or AusLogics for help.

Basically a defragmenter is an application that tries to keep file fragments as close to each other as possible, this operation might require some files to be move on the physical disk - you're files will be in the same place you left them"

You can use the "Disk Defragmenter" that comes with Windows by opening it from the "Accessories==>System Tools" menu or by typing "dfrg.msc" in the run dialog.

In "Disk Defragmenter" window you'll get a list of all your disks, select any of them and click on "Analyze" - Keep in mind that disks with less than "25%" free space are tough to handle - Windows will do some work and will then show a message telling you wether you have to Defragment that disk or not. If you click the "View Report" button a small dialog with the list of fragmented files if any will popup. If you decided to Defragment that disk windows will show you the estimated disk usage before and after the process, of course it'll keep you up to date during the process.

After the whole operation is done you might notice that there are some files left undergarmented. And that's because they are either too big for the Defragmenter to handle or are being used by the system and hence cannot be moved.

When you're done with disk Defragment there is no need to reboot the computer but I like doing it.

Microsoft Disk Defragmenter is a very solid tool to keep your disks in shape, but I've noticed this free application called "Auslogics Disk Defrag". A highly decorated application by the CNet review team. This application is very straight forward. Just install it, start it, pick a disk and off you go. When you're done you can view a report of what's changed on your disk or you might just take a look at the 2 bars showing the improvement in your disk performance.

Keeping Windows alive – part 1

If you are a download junkie like myself, you must have noticed that after installing and removing software Windows tends to become slow and moody. The simplest answer is to blame Microsoft for that. Well it's not always the case even though sometimes it is the only reason.

People tend to compare Windows to Mac and Linux all the time. Mac OS X comes always in the first place. And for a known reason for people who are not biased to Apple. It's because Mac is designed to work on Apple Macintosh computers, which comes with specific brands of hardware.. Windows on the other hand works on PCs, this means it has to deal with almost every brand of hardware. Linux on the other hand is highly overrated, I tried it. I've used OpenSuse and Ubuntu for a long time now and it crashes just like windows for no known reason to you and me. I'm not going through all available editions of Linux here but lets say they are not as good as the open source community would say. They have some advantages over Windows and Max OS but you know, most of them do not interest me.

Let's cut to the main subject, I know you've read a few articles about software (free mostly) to maintain your computer but non of those articles tells you how to use them.

Disk cleanup

Every once in a while you must clean up your computer to save the space, and that might cause a few issues. When cleaning don't just delete folders, your System might be using some files in there and that means it's either going to crash or ask you for the installation source or even just stop responding at startup.

In order to do a clean up you should always consider removing the programs and applications that you don't usually use. And to do this, it's always better to remove them from the "Add/Remove Programs" applet in the control panel.

After removing the unwanted applications you'll not notice much performance improvement in your computer. It still needs some extra cleanup. Open the disk clean up manager from the "Accessories==>System tools menu" or simply by typing "cleanmgr" in the run dialog. Then pick the disk you'd like to clean up, Windows will automatically pick the disk that has windows installed on it and it's best if you begin with that disk.

Removing the "Temporary files" and the "Internet Temporary files" is always good, just don't do it everyday. You might also notice a few other files to delete that you can pick from if you have a bit of extra knowledge in computers. But be aware of the "Compress Old Data" option because it doesn't always work for your best interest.

In the "more options" tab you'll find 3 buttons the first 2 will start the "Add/Remove programs" applet. But the 3rd one and the most important is the "System Restore" "Cleanup" button.

System Restore

See, Windows have this feature called system restore in case you don't know it. It keeps backing up your files occasionally so that if something goes wrong you can revert your files to some point you know your computer was running in a good shape. These files keep increasing by time.

If you are sure you're computer is fine now and you don't want all the old backups you can create a new restore point also from the "Accessories==>System Tools" menu. You only have to do a few work and windows will take care of the rest. Oh and by the way don't enter the date in the description field because Windows keeps track of the date and time.

Back again to the "Disk Cleanup" you can now hit the 3rd "Clean up" button so that windows will get rid of all the old backup files except for the most recent one.