31 October 2009

Windows 7: 7 Days Of New Summary


A little summary of the posts from the Windows 7 Launch Week.

Windows 7 Halloween Theme Pack


If you plan to stay up most of Oct 31 and you have Windows 7. Then why not pass the day celebrating on the clock with  Hallloween Theme Pack?. The Windows Club kindly made one you can grab.



Windows 7 Halloween Theme   .


30 October 2009

Halloween Pumpkin Carver In Silverlight


Archetype Pumpkin Carver is a great Carved Pumpkin Online Card Maker made in Silverlight and hosted in Windows Azure that lets you trace, modify and carve as many Halloween Pumpkin face patterns you want.


The page is a little heavy but it is worth to use since i think it is the best Online Pumpkin Carver and Halloween Greetings Online Card Generator i have found so far this year. You can even use it as a online halloween party invitation card if you want.

Once you decide to carve your pumpkin. It got a very well put instructions box that shows you how to carve it. You can correct and restart as many times you want until you get it right.

When you get the face pattern you want to carve, just click “Draw” and it will apply the candle light animation effect and it will be ready to be shared.


I decided to make a Punisher Skull inspired Halloween Pumpkin face pattern as you can see. Since i want to share it with everyone, i just clicked the “Send To Friend” link and it generated a E-mail form to send it as a greeting card or as a card and as a link to the specific halloween Pumpkin Card i made so anyone can check it out.


You can also write your own message. But if you want to generate a unique url, you need to click the “Get Share URL” so it gets saved for further views.

*Updated on 31/10/10*

As a plus you can now add a recording that animates your Pumpkin as it replays it with a spooky audio effect.


A fun and easy to use Halloween themed page cool enough to force me share it with you.


Archetype Pumpkin Carver 


Windows 7 Taskbar Meters 1.0


In my case two of my ever present windows gadgets are the CPU Utilization Meter and the RAM Memory Meter. Unless you are in a high end machine, these two are always good to have. But Jeffrey Key decided to take advantage of the Windows 7 Taskbar and make these into Pinned Taskbar Icons.


These Taskbar Meters also come with enabled visual meters and jumplist support for quick access tasks.


You can also determine the frequency it updates the progress bar indicator in the pinned icon and mark the colors for performance ranges, so you can say to what percentage range the progress bar indicator should stay green, turns yellow and finally go red.


I think the only thing missing that i would like is if it have a widget-like view preview pane for when you hover the icon like with Browsers and Application Open Windows Group. Other than it is a great solution if you got the resolution and screen real state so it don’t get in the way of your OS everyday use.


Windows 7 Taskbar Meters    <—CodePlex Project Page

via Life Rocks 2.0


Fix MSE 1.0: Microsoft Security Essentials Repair Utility


If you got Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 installed and for some reason MSE cannot start correctly or gets corrupted and won’t work right. You may have a OS configuration error, compromised OS or Software Problem. But there is a way to ensure that MSE can start and that is by fixing it while it is installed.That way you will not only Fix MSE, but it may also help fix other problems once you run a MSE Scan.


That is what the app Fix MSE 1.0 developed by Ramesh Kumar from The Windows Club does. It is a .Net 2.0 Portable App that will restore MSE Registry Values and Service Settings to known good defaults, without re-installing MSE. App will take 5 to 15 seconds to open and then it will get to work.

Fix MSE 1.0 can work in XP, Vista and 7 for both 32bit and 64bit versions.

Personally i have never seen a MSE install get corrupted so far, but using this app if such case arise is better than re-installing because if something is making MSE install fail or making it fail so it don’t starts while booting up. This should resolve that problem.


Fix MSE 1.0 at The Windows Club    


via Life Rocks 2.0



29 October 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 [Quick Review]


Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 is the New (As in Final Release) that has been around less than a month and has been downloaded around 3 million times already. It is a FREE full Anti-Malware program that covers against Viruses, Spyware, Rootkits, Trojans and Common Bots. It is technology that descends from the excellent but now discontinued OneCare 2.5 and the enterprise bound Forefront  with its Program Signature Diagnostics technology. Some of the which was even debuted for MSE 1.0 first before it gets added to Forefront next update.

Some History

Many from the big Security Software companies have tried to discredit MSE as a  “Not Good Enough” solution compared to the paid ones they offer. Something i can state as rubbish since the technology inside  MSE comes from the commercial, paid based and  award winning OneCare and Forefront. And before OneCare ( was forced out of the market by the threat of lawsuits and commercial pressure on retailers put by the same security companies) was taken out of availability. It was slowly growing in sales and efficiency as the latest studies before it was discontinued demonstrate.

So, instead of trying to fight a losing battle, Microsoft decided to engage in the PC Security Wars by releasing a Free product that while released under the compromise of no paid publicity or marketing, no common retail bundling and no OEM bundling deals. Still has managed to capture the attention of the market by being the best free PC Anti-Malware Software Suite around.

(Must of course state that all of  this  don’t comes from any official statement from Microsoft and that is of my own perspective and interpretation of the events. Just to be safe against that flame.)

The Install

MSE works in XP, Vista and 7. Vista and 7 also got  a 64bit version of the installer and these are the latest official requirements:

Operating System: Genuine Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3); Windows Vista (Gold, Service Pack 1, or Service Pack 2); Windows 7

  • For Windows XP, a PC with a CPU clock speed of 500 MHz or higher, and 256 MB RAM or higher.
  • For Windows Vista and Windows 7, a PC with a CPU clock speed of 1.0 GHz or higher, and 1 GB RAM or higher.
  • VGA display of 800 × 600 or higher.
  • 140 MB of available hard disk space.
  • An Internet connection is required for installation and to download the latest virus and spyware definitions for Microsoft Security Essentials.
  • Internet Browser:
    • Windows Internet Explorer 6.0 or later.
    • Mozilla Firefox 2.0 or later.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials also supports Windows XP Mode in Windows 7. For more information see the system requirements for Windows XP Mode in Windows 7

So it pretty much can run in any Windows PC made in the last 10 years. The reason is that the installer and program footprint are also very slim:

OS   Installer Install Footprint
   XP  (32-bits)   8.63 MB 10 MB – 12 MB
   Vista or 7   (32-bits)   4.29 MB    9 MB - 11 MB
   Vista or 7    (64-bits)   4.72 MB 10 MB – 11 MB

If you for some reason decide that you don’t want it anymore, It also can be uninstalled without reboots and without any special dialogs showing up in the same or less amount of time it took to install it.

The Software

OneCare was never complicated to begin with but since it was a All-In-One Security Suite, it had a lot more of options and busier interface. MSE on the other hand made a new interface that is very very simple to use:


The default view of MSE is Home, there you can see the state main settings and functions of MSE. The Main Setting are your Scan Options, Virus Definitions State, Real-Time Protection State and your Scheduled Scan Settings.

It also shows you a confirmation of your Computer Status:

Green = Good  =  No Actions Need To Be Taken

Yellow = So-So =  Your PC Is Not In Danger, But The Program Requires Of A User Initiated Action

Red     =  Bad  =  Your  PC Is In Danger, MSE Needs Your Assistance To Be Safe Again



Only shows you the state of your Virus & Spyware definitions and the time these were created and the corresponding version they belong. Only user action here is to Update in the case you want the very latest updates before a manually initiated scan.



Most of the times  MSE will not require of your help to solve a problem within a scan session or ongoing state. So History will show you if it has dealt with any dangerous file or malware program and will let you know if it detected something and erased it, Quarantined if it could not get rid of it in order to disable the threat or if it let it run based on a advanced configuration you had set.



The master controls from where all behaviors in MSE are set and it is the following:

  • Scheduled Scan
  • Default actions
  • Real-time protection
  • Excluded files & locations
  • Excluded file types
  • Excluded processes
  • Advanced
  • Microsoft SpyNet

Every single thing in the program can be controlled, tweaked and changed from here with the exception of the updating mechanism for security reasons. You will need a script if you want to change the behavior.  I don’t recommend it.



At this point i am very familiar with MSE, have installed all the versions, and set it up in a dozen machines from friends and family. I also must disclose that i was and i am part of the official testers of the ongoing beta program. The screenshots are actually from the very last build of it.

So my recommendations on its use are the following:

  • 1.-Set Scheduled Scan to once a week at a time you are not using the computer and select a full scan. This way it will be the best and most effective scan. So your PC will be safer.
  • 2.-Don’t exclude or allow anything unless you really have a reason for it.
  • 3.-Once installed go and enable all settings that are not set.
  • 4.-Leave all the Recommended Action as it is in the Default Actions settings. This way there are less risks with false positives (not that they are common, but you never know)
  • 5.-Set your Microsoft SpyNet Membership from basic to advanced. There is no risk to it. Enabling this option will make MSE faster to respond and more accurate to respond against threats as time passes.

These 5recommendations will yield in the best experience possible using MSE as i have learned in the last several months.

Final Notes

Before MSE, i used OneCare in my home network that includes PC’s from my brothers. but my subscription ran out early this year and there was no longer the option to update it. OneCare was also what i used to recommend and sell when someone asked me for a security suite. So i did sold and set up around a 100 of those. While i waited for Project Morro as it was called. I tried out several Free alternatives with not as pleasant results. You truly noted that they were free solutions and i even was victim of a AVG false positive that made thank for WHS as it damaged my a XP Install.

So far MSE don’t got any of those problems and it feels as solid as OneCare 2.5 was because IT IS in part the same software. The only bummers are that it no longer got a advanced firewall, network, backups or automatic maintenance. Most of these are now part of Windows 7 in fact. But as a free Anti-Malware Software Suite goes?. I can firmly Recommend it as the best there is because of its low requirements, high performance, ease of use and top-notch engines that run in it.

Give it a try.


Microsoft Security Essentials <—Homepage Auto-Detects Version You Need To Download

MSE Support Guide <—Includes How-To Video Guide From Install To Usage



28 October 2009

ZapMessenger: Remove Corrupted Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger or Live Messenger Installs


ZapMessenger is a  .Net 2.0 based Portable App developed by Jonathan Kay, that you can use for when you need/want/cannot remove a corrupted or jumpy install of Windows Messenger (XP), MSN Messenger (XP) or Live Messenger program (XP, Vista, 7) and you need to take it off so it don’t messes up a new Live Messenger install or if it is having conflict with a third party IM client or causing a glitch in your OS in any way.


He developed solely for the purpose above and you don’t need to worry about your customizations, it only targets the actual messenger installs without touching your data.

Given it is a portable app, you only need to download it, unzip it and run it.


ZapMessenger Info  <—App history and developer guide notes

ZapMessenger     <—Direct Download



26 October 2009

Windows ImageResizer PowerToy


Any long time Windows XP power user knows about the benefits of PowerToy that adds special automated functionality to Windows. One of my favorites in XP is the ImageResizer PowerToy. This allowed you resize any photo or batch of photos directly from your right-click context menu.


This way you can take any picture or batch of pictures and resize them. Once you select them and click resize, it will ask you on what size do you want them. tmp25C

It also got setting to determine if you want them to be lighter and if you want to alter the original or make copies of them.


And that is pretty much all. It could not be easier. I highly recommend this PowerToy, Since i think that it is a essential feature. So much that in my case i use it almost every day.  Before it was only available to XP, Now you can have it in Vista and Windows 7 in both 32-bits and 64-bits versions too. All thanks to BriceLambson that made a clone of the Original XP version and put it in CodePlex for all to grab.


ImageResizer for Windows XP 

ImageResizer for Windows Vista/Windows 7 

ImageResizer for Windows Vista/Windows 7 (64-Bit) 

(All 3  above are Direct Download Links)

ImageResizer PowerToy Clone For Windows  <—Project Page

24 October 2009

Windows 7 Personalization Gallery


Another of the great things about Windows 7 is that the customization is easy to do without any workarounds, mods or hacks. You still can go those ways if you are looking for a Desktop Transformation. But if you just want to tweak the Look of you desktop you can do via the Windows 7 Personalization Gallery.


It is a page where you can find themes, desktop gadgets, SideShow Gadgets and Backgrounds. Themes are the true exclusives to Windows 7 since they are targeted to the graphic engine and setting of the new OS. Everything else you can have it in Vista and in XP.

So to have true full custom desktop, you need a Theme and this i where you will find them. A theme includes several backgrounds, color ranges, sounds, screensaver settings and even specific companion Desktop Gadgets that go with them. Originally there were only 20 theme sets based on Countries.


But for Windows 7 launch, 14 Themes more where added that revolve on Brands like Zune, Pepsi, Bing, Etc.


But if that is still not enough. You don’t have to wait around for new theme to appear. You can go and create your own.


Windows 7 Personalization Gallery      <—Homepage

Create Your Own Windows 7 Theme    <—Instructions With Video Demo

What Is A Theme?                                          <—Help Page With Video Demo

Windows 7 Social Engagement Tracker

The title of the page is: What people are saying about Windows 7?

Not really a service but still a App. In this case a promo Ajax web page that shows the Social Engagement of Windows 7 across A Social Messaging Network  (Twitter), Social Content Sharing Networks (Flickr, YouTube), A Social Network (Facebook) and blog posts.

Just in case you were wondering what is being shared or said about Windows 7. This is the site to take a look at it with the very impressive Ajax loader that can let you filter from where you want to see things being said or shared or just seeing it all at once. You can set the Speed too. Putting in Fast Mode is just crazy to watch how it becomes a note cards waterfall. So try it.



Not a useful thing but a amusing one that should keep you busy for some minutes and that is still cool to look at.


Windows 7 Social Engagement Tracker


23 October 2009

Windows 7: USB / DVD Download Tool (Updated)



So you got yourself a Netbook months ago and you are planning to upgrade to Windows 7 and want to buy it from the online Microsoft Store as a download. You know that it is possible to load the OS from a USB but don’t like the idea of having to build your own solution from a tutorial. Or maybe you got a old machine that you want load Windows 7 on and you also find yourself dreading on having to build your own DVD for backup and loading of the OS.     

Just yesterday the scenarios above were the option you may have thought you were going to face. But not anymore since you now can use Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool.          


With it you can go ahead and buy Windows and download a ISO from the Microsoft Store while you wait for the box to reach you later without hurry. From that ISO you only need to install this tool and that will guide you in the handling of the ISO to make it a Bootable USB or DVD so you can install Windows 7 in no time. The Tool is .NET 2.0 based so any XP SP3 or Vista already got it installed, relegated XP SP2 users should do check first.


The WUDT is now also Open Source so the source code can now also be downloaded and reused.


Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool Web Page    <—Details And User Guide

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool                          <—Direct Download

Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool in Codeplex   <—Project Page

via DownloadSquad

*Update 1* (10/11/09): Links don’t work right now because Microsoft took down the utility. Link paths will be updated when Microsoft reinstates it. In the case this take more than a week. I will point a link to a mirror.

*Update 2* (21/11/09): Microsoft has officially stated that the new version of the Windows 7 USB /DVD Download Tool will be available in the first half of December of 2009. Given another non-official statement i will not be hosting or linking to a mirror of it. So i will instead wait for it to be available and will update this post accordingly by restoring the access to it.

*Update 3* (09/12/09): Microsoft has now Open Sourced the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. Links have been enabled and i have added a link to the Codeplex Page where you can now also access the Source Code of the tool.


SilverX 1.0: Flash To Silverlight Quick Output Converter


So you a Silverlight developer, you come across a video you could use and it is in Flash. What do you do?. If you answered with Expression Encoder you would be right. But that is not the only way, more in the case you don’t need too many options, controls and tweaking of the video, you just want something fast.

Then Silver X is your other option beyond Microsoft Encoder. More in the case it is not just video and just want to grab so graphics, texts or charts. These can then be of course used in your project via Blend or Visual Studio.


It’s use could not be more simple. You find the Flash file, download it and pass it over Silver X and depending on the file it can give you the output for Silverlight in seconds or minutes.

The App is free, less than 1mb and you can use from Windows 2000 to Windows 7. It convert Flash files from version 6 to 10.

I did tested it and it is impressive how fast and simple the app is. A must-have if you are a Silverlight Developer, Designer or Devigner (both).

You can also check out the website if you want to see actual samples.


Silver X    <—Website

Silver X Download   <—Direct Download


via addictivetips


22 October 2009

Windows 7: New Microsoft Store, Online and Offline


So not only Windows 7 got launched but so were New Microsoft Store’s.  The online version got fully revamped with a new logo and new website:


The reason is because now you can Buy actual third party PC hardware, Software and Accessories. The launch was only for U.S.A (figures) but it is said that it should be reflected all over the world in the online version and that new localized versions will be opened before Christmas. That includes a Mexican version, so that will be interesting.

The prices are pretty much the same of a Best Buy. The only true deals for the Microsoft Store will be the inclusion of special bing cashback offers for third party PC hardware, Software and Accessories.  Direct guarantees from Microsoft on purchases, being able to use MS points, buy them, getting 90 days of direct customer support if you buy it from the Microsoft Store and also getting free shipping most of the times.

Another plus is that if you buy a PC or Laptop from the Microsoft Store. These will be from the Microsoft Signature line. This means that they don’t come with trial-ware. They come with Windows 7 installed by Microsoft, Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0, Windows Live Essentials, Zune Software 4.0, Adobe Reader 9.0, Flash 10 and Silverlight 3.0 plus up to date .NET and Windows Updates.  This sure will makes a big difference because these Desktop and Laptops will be REALLY ready for immediate use, unlike what you get everywhere else.

Microsoft Store Online

But in real life there was also the launch of the first Microsoft Store Retail in Scottsdale Arizona:


The Microsoft Store Retail put a Posterous Blog for the launch:


You will not see me covering hardware or retail in here this way. So this is a exception.

*Update* (28/10/09): Added details on the benefits of Microsoft Store purchases. 


Windows 7 Launch Keynote

How the fuzz from today got going?.  With the video feed for the Windows 7 Launch Keynote by Steve Ballmer.


Windows 7 PressPass Kit


Windows 7: 7 Days Of New


It would be not only foolish for me to actually try to cover Windows 7 seriously, but it would be insane since everything has been said by the likes of Ed Bott, Paul Thurroth. And every scoop possible or askew angle has been snooped at by Mary Jo Foley or Todd Bishop.

Without mentioning the other 10 high profile bloggers covering Microsoft every day.

That said. I would still like to cover some bits of it since the first 7 days of 7 is when Microsoft is going to be pushing out news and news will be pushed out of Microsoft by the Blogosphere. But i will stay with the small bit since while i am always the “Big Picture” guy. When it comes down to a product as massive in effect as it is Windows 7. There would be not much of a point to embarrass myself talking over conversations that have happened so many times already that i would be a the cacophony of an echo.

So light and amusing bits (i hope) for the next 7 days along the regular programming i already had in mind.

Windows 7

19 October 2009

Yahoo Meme: Minimalistic Microblogging Network

Yahoo Meme

What you read as the title of this post, its my very polite way of saying that Meme from Yahoo is a very scarce and under featured Microblogging Network. It also boggles my mind on the why of it.


I.-Why it is so light on features?

I understand the need to start with something simple and then going from there.  But this is Yahoo. It is not like if they lacked resources or people to throw into this project.

Right now it is as featured Tumblr was back when it started. It even got less features than Posterous and Soup.io too. 

II.-Why it had to be created from scratch?

It may be news or a reminder to most. But Yahoo is the owner of MyBlogLog. Why Yahoo Meme didn’t tapped into that? If they wanted to create a Microblogging Network, They could have easily added it as a companion to MyBlogLog and also take the opportunity to give MyBlogLog a very needed update. It would have been proved a good call since it would have instantly gained lots of user and hell of a lot more press attention that way

III.- Why they promote it and market it so poorly?

Again, Hello Yahoo. You decided to spend 100 million dollars in a brand campaign to repair your image. Here is one of the reasons why it got so bad. You launch a new product without promoting it and without adding promotional addons of any kind.

Where are the Yahoo Meme Widgets, Badges, Buttons. Why you didn’t did a contest or sprung some promo swag around? Seriously, Why?  Add insult to the injury that you are a company that was KNOWN for such efforts in the past and now you have got yourself into a blunder of your own fault. Because of not doing that anymore.

A Look Into Yahoo Meme




(3 element streams, most notable one is the “just updated” sidebar that is semi real-time)



(Just like the one in tumblr from where you share your memes and where you see all entries and comments in a single master stream)



(Yes, the module at the top is all you get, My description is missing; But that is it. An odd thing is that while you can reply directly from asynchronous comment form, you cannot see the comment in a entry the same way or there is any indication that the entry got comments. The entry in question does got comments by the way, So you get the problem?)



(Your only way to search for other users is to search with keywords and see whatever you can find. The people section will always show a rotating list of different Yahoo Meme featured members with the most followers)



         ( The 5 options you see are all the options you got for your information account) 



(Only 6 themes to change the look of your Yahoo Meme, At least they are quite Purdy and Yahooish)



( Continuing with the scarce theme, Yahoo decided to put up a form and then lets you manually write or copy & paste your friends E-mail addresses instead of the now quite standard E-mail contact importers you see in facebook, myspace, hi5, etc.)



(You got to click into the entry to see the comments and when you do, They are marked as quotes to the entry instead of being in blog or microblog comment format)

Yahoo Meme Mobile

Liked a lot the Yahoo Meme Mobile web client. I find to be very well designed but for a minor set of quirks that i don’t like. The biggest one is that the Comments (that are not actual comments, but quotes) are showed like in the web version dashboard section(the master stream) and not like when viewing a entry. Something that makes it a little bit confusing as you need to pay more attention to where does things come from or what they are talking about.




                                                 (Comment form for an entry)


                                             (Top 10 most popular entries)


                                  (People Search and Featured Users Board)


                                           (Mobile Profile User Stream)


                                                 (Users you are following)


                                                   (Users following you)

But it will let you see the mobile version in any desktop browser and it is a good extra option to browse and use the site very fast.


And since it is not attached to any Mobile browser in particular, you can see it in Iphone, Windows Mobile, Android Symbian (S and N series), Maemo, etc. But also can use it in a SSB App Manager like Bubbles, Mozilla Prism or Chrome QLA (Quick Launch Application) Mode


The Good

  • Extremely easy to use and navigate
  • Very pleasant design
  • Mostly Asynchronous (Loading without transitions)
  • Very good mobile web client
  • Mobile web client can be used on the desktop as a SSB app

The Bad

  • No Widgets
  • No Badges
  • No Buttons
  • Yahoo not promoting better the site
  • Yahoo not offering any integration for other Yahoo properties

The Ugly

  • Rushed API
  • Not fully consistent (Some parts are not asynchronous when they should, lacks several indicators)
  • Incredibly scarce in features compared to ALL competitors in its niche
  • Questionable product design choices (comments are not comments?, things loading in a master stream almost out of context?, )
  • Disappointing  Auto Link-Embedding support (Supported choices are mediocre at best)

Final Notes

Very few if almost nothing left to say. Yahoo Meme while very well designed, easy to use and being very fast, Feels so scarce in features that is suspicious. More when it don’t beats a single one of the site it is competing with, it don’t integrates better with Yahoo properties that make sense and it is not promoted or marketed correctly by a company that is spending 100 million dollars in a Brand image campaign. Yahoo Meme should be better than what it is given the company it is coming from and it easily could do so. Lets hope it does.


Yahoo Meme 

Yahoo Meme Mobile


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