Archive for the 'Tips' Category

How to Fix Windows 7 Unable to Create or Find a System Partition on an SSD

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Windows LogoMy primary hard drive died, and I decided to replace it with an SSD to help speed up my system. When I tried to install Windows 7 on the new drive, however, I kept getting this error message: “Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.” (<RANT>And just WHERE would these log files BE?!?</RANT>) Most of the “solutions” on the web dealt with correctly configuring the disk partition. I had used the Windows installer to set up the partition, but just to make sure, I booted into Linux and set the boot flag for the partition. Didn’t work. So I used DiskPart from the Windows recovery console. Didn’t work either.

Finally I came across an article that mentioned BIOS settings, and that did the trick. The SATA Mode (that’s what it’s called in my setup program but it varies) was set to IDE and needed to be AHCI. After making that change the install went smoothly. The article also said that you should not use Intel® Smart Response Technology, which is another BIOS option.

When to Purchase the Cheapest Airline Tickets

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

ShopperDid you know that when you purchase an airline ticket can have an impact on the price? Buying tickets on Tuesdays or over the weekend can get you a better deal. Also, purchasing them seven weeks before the trip will usually get you the best fare.


Tips For Optimizing an SSD

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Tip JarSolid-state hard drives (SSDs) are quite different from regular, platter-based hard drives. And many of the techniques that optimize normal drives, such as defragmentation, are either unnecessary on SSDs or can actually decrease performance or reduce the drive’s lifespan. The linked article has several tips on optimizing the performance of your SSD under Windows.

Thanks to John from Boulder for this link.


How to Fix the “This page can’t be displayed” Error in Internet Explorer 10

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Windows LogoHaving just set up a new install of Windows 7 two days earlier, I learned that Internet Explorer 10 was now available for that OS. So I downloaded and installed it, only to find that it didn’t work. Every URL gave the same error message: “This page can’t be displayed.” My other browsers worked, so it wasn’t the network or the connection. After searching for a while, I found the answer from the linked article. To summarize:

  1. Click the cog wheel towards the upper right part of the IE10 window. This will open a menu.
  2. Select “Internet Options” from the menu. This will open the options window.
  3. Select the “Advanced” tab.
  4. Scroll down to the “Security” section.
  5. Check the “Enhanced Protection Mode” option.
  6. Save the options and restart the computer. Problem fixed!


UPDATE (10/30/2015): For a technical explanation of why this works, please refer to this article from Microsoft. For a less technical explanation of what “Enhanced Protection Mode” does, I recommend this article.

How to Circumvent PDF Editing Restrictions

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Tip JarAdobe PDF documents have security settings which can, among other things, prevent anyone from modifying the document. This is helpful, for example, when sending electronic copies of contracts for review. But it can also be a pain when the document needs to be changed but the password has been forgotten or the person who knows the password is no longer working for the company. The linked article has a solution that works in Windows systems: print the PDF to an XPS file (the XPS “printer” is automatically supplied by Microsoft), then open the XPS file and print it to a PDF file. This will give you an identical copy of the original document, but without any security restrictions.


Windows Files That Contain Icons

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Tip JarIf you’ve ever tried to change an icon under Windows (for a folder or shortcut, for example), the icon selection dialog defaults to the shell32.dll file. Admittedly, shell32.dll contains a lot of good icons, but sometimes you just need a better selection. Here’s a list of 17 Windows 7 files that contain an additional 1200+ icons (note: I imagine many of these are valid for other versions of Windows):

  • C:\Windows\explorer.exe
  • C:\Windows\System32\accessibilitycpl.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\ddores.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\gameux.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\imageres.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\moricons.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\mmcndmgr.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\mmres.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\netcenter.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\netshell.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\networkexplorer.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\pifmgr.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\pnidui.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\sensorscpl.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\setupapi.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\wmploc.dll
  • C:\Windows\System32\wpdshext.dll


Erase Personal Data From a Computer, Without Removing Windows

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Tip JarThe linked article explains how to erase personal data from a computer while still keeping the Windows operating system intact. This is useful, for example, when you’re giving an older computer to a friend or family member.


What Format Should You Use For Your Electronic Resume?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Tip JarI guess we’ve reached the twilight of the paper resume, seeing that so many are now submitted electronically. Which brings up the question of which format to use: MS Word or PDF. The linked article addresses the pros and cons of each and says the answer is neither. Instead, the author recommends using Rich Text Format (RTF). Note that all versions of MS Word have the ability to read and write RTF files.


Dealing With a Window That’s Outside the Display Area

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Tip JarSome time ago, I had a computer program that would occasionally glitch and set its location to be somewhere off the screen. The program would run fine and would show up on the taskbar, but I couldn’t access it with my mouse because it was outside the visible area of the Windows desktop. Eventually I discovered the technique described in the linked article. This is a command that’s been around for a long time but isn’t obvious to the casual user, especially the part about using the arrow keys to perform the movement.


Tech Gadgets You Shouldn’t Buy

Monday, December 5th, 2011

ShoppingHere’s a list of tech gadgets that you probably should NOT purchase during the Christmas season, many of them because smartphones and tablets already have the gadget’s functionality. The linked article does allow for exceptions, but generally recommends against purchasing these types of items:

  • Feature Phones (non-smartphones)
  • Standalone GPS Units
  • Netbooks
  • Pocket Camcorders
  • Portable Gaming Consoles
  • Portable Media Players (think iPod)
  • Point-and-Shoot Cameras


Use Nautical Rope As Replacement Shoelaces

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Tips JarThin nautical rope can be a nice replacement for the shoelaces on your sneakers. I got a pair of work boots a few months ago, and the laces are already starting to fray (update: one of the laces broke, just hours after I wrote this post). Nautical rope is more rugged and should last longer. Of course, this isn’t something you can pick up at any department store—you’ll probably need to go to a marine store.


Fixing a Stripped Screw Hole

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Tip JarDid your metal screw strip out the wooden hole? There are many ways to fix it, but a quick and easy method is to line the hole with toothpicks. Depending on the size of the hole, a golf tee may also do the job.