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вівторок, 22 листопада 2011 р.

Asus Zenbook UX31E laptop review

ASUS IS ATTEMPTING to attack Apple and its Macbook Air range with the launch of an ultra slim, lightweight Windows 7 machine packed with juicy Intel Core i7 goodness.

The Zenbook is part of the 'Ultrabook' product category, the brain child of Intel as it tries to stop the masses from being brainwashed into buying ARM-based tablets instead of larger machines using its x86 chip-based architecture.

Asus has decided to brand its UX31E Ultrabook as a 'Zenbook' in an attempt to differentiate it from other Ultrabooks by its rivals Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba, which will all release devices before the year is out. We were largely impressed with the ultra-slim laptop, but there are a few niggles including the trackpad that did let it down.

Beautifully crafted
At first glance, the Zenbook looks remarkably similar to the Apple MacBook Air in terms of design, and there isn't much to separate them in terms of specifications either.

Asus Zenbook internet browsing

The Zenbook has a solid metal chassis and a lovely aluminium finish, making this one of the best looking Windows laptops on the market. We think it looks every bit as good as the Macbook Air, and the metallic finish means it doesn't get as grubby as the fruit themed laptop.

The V-shaped design of the chassis means that the frame has a thickness of 3mm at the front and 9mm at the rear, and the laptop looks particularly impressive from the side.

Asus Zenbook UX31E side on

We expected the full-body metal chassis to add significant weight, but the Zenbook tips the scales at a very reasonable 1.3kg, about 50g lighter than the 13in Macbook Air. You can easily pick it up with one hand and if you travel a lot, carrying it around all day is not going to be a problem.

The only real design feature we're not thrilled by is the sealed back, which makes it impossible to swap out the battery when it's on its last legs, but it looks like a trend that is here to stay.

Ultra-bright display
The 13.3in LED backlit display offers a maximum resolution of 1600x900. It's not the biggest display out there, but for portability it's a very good size. Details are very crisp, but we did find icons and fonts a little on the small side. This could be a problem for some people and, since 1600x900 is the optimal resolution, it's not a good idea to scale down.

The display is almost too bright when cranked up to full, especially in environments with overhead lighting. We found that the white background pierced our eyes when typing documents, for example, and needed to be toned down. It does work well in low-lit conditions, though.
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Add ‘Shake To Undo’ To A Mac [OS X Tips]

Add ‘Shake To Undo’ To A Mac [OS X Tips]

By David W. Martin (5:59 am, Nov 07)

Add ‘Shake To Undo’ To A Mac [OS X Tips]
Add ‘Shake To Undo’ To A Mac [OS X Tips]

Here’s a fun, kinda crazy way to use the sudden motion sensors that come in some Mac notebooks, like the newer unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros. These sudden motion sensors are used by Apple to detect when a laptop with a physical spinning hard drive is dropped, and therefore this tip won’t work on the 2010 or 2011 MacBook Airs that shipped with flash-based, non-spinning SSDs. Using a third-party app, you can pick up your laptop and give it a shake-to-undo option, just like the one on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

The application is called Shake To Undo, and you can download it here or by visiting the official GitHub site. One you have a copy, you’ll need to install it. Just open the DMG file you downloaded and drag the application to the Application folder on your Mac. Locate the copy in that folder and double-click to open it.

Shake to Undo will start and show up in your menu bar. From there, you can toggle an option you might find useful. It is called Confirmation Overlay and it will prevent you from accidental undos if you simply move your Mac notebook. When active, this feature causes the application to prompt you with a confirmation dialog to clarify whether you want to clear or undo text you just entered.

Although this tip can be a lot of fun, I recommend you don’t get carried away and shake your Mac too hard. Apple might not be too happy with you when you show up at the Genius Bar with a laptop suffering from Shaken Baby Syndrome!
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A Guide for PC Buyers Not Looking for a Tablet

If you're shopping for a laptop this autumn, you'll find most of the capabilities and prices in the sluggish market unchanged. You'll still likely be considering whether it's time to get a tablet instead of a new laptop.

Taking cues from Apple's Macbook Air, PC companies have begun developing their own slimmed down laptops. WSJ's Walt Mossberg reviews these new "Ultrabooks".

But if you're focused on a Windows machine, and you look carefully, you'll see that a new class of portable PC is beginning to appear. It's called the "ultrabook," and is essentially the Windows version of Apple's popular, nearly four-year old MacBook Air—an ultraskinny, light, speedy, versatile laptop with long battery life.

The arrival of the ultrabook is a welcome development, not only because it spices up the market, but because I consider the MacBook Air the best all-around consumer laptop available, and anything that emulates it is a good idea, if done well.

Mossberg's Mailbox: iPhone Battery Drain

There are only a few ultrabooks available this season and they aren't for everybody. Most have limited storage and, like the MacBook Air, are priced near the $1,000 range—rich territory in a tight economy where Apple buyers seem comfortable, though not many others. Still, this new class of Windows laptop is the only fundamentally fresh choice in the laptop market.

If the price is too high, you should be able to get a capable major-brand laptop for between $500 and $800, with plenty of storage and memory.

My annual fall laptop buyers' guide today offers tips for wading through the technobabble in computer ads, and in online and physical stores. As always, these tips are for average consumers doing common tasks, such as email, Web browsing, social networking, general office productivity, photos, music, videos and simple games. This guide isn't meant for corporate buyers, or for hard-core gamers or serious media producers.

The tablet question: Tablets like Apple's iPad 2 and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 can perform many, though not all, of the functions of a laptop. Most tablet lovers find themselves reaching for their laptops less often to do things like email. If your budget is limited and you're thinking of shelling out $500 for a full-size tablet, consider whether you can put off getting a new laptop this year instead of buying both.

Future Windows: If you're shopping for a Windows laptop, be aware that in 2012, Microsoft will offer a new version of Windows, called Windows 8, with a radical new multitouch interface that makes use of a touch screen. The software giant stresses that Windows 8 won't require such a screen, and will still work with a mouse or touch pad. But unless you have a laptop with a multi-touch screen, you won't be able to take advantage of the Windows 8 touch-screen features.

Enlarge Image

The recently unveiled Asus Zenbook

Ultrabooks: Four companies make this class of laptop: Acer,Lenovo,Asus and, shortly, Toshiba. These machines are under 0.8 inch thick, weigh less than three pounds, and generally claim long battery life and almost-instant startup times. All run Windows 7; none has a touch screen. Like the MacBook Air, they use solid-state drives (though some combine these with standard hard disks) and have screens of either 11 inches or 13 inches. Prices generally run from around $900 to $1,100.

Windows vs. Mac: Mac laptops cost more and offer less variety than Windows laptops. The least expensive Mac laptop is $999, while a few stripped-down Windows portables can be had for under $300. Well-equipped Windows laptops start at $500 to $600. But Apple laptops combine beauty, ruggedness and long battery life with good customer service. Macs also come with better built-in software, including the new Lion operating system, which includes some tablet-like features. And they can run Windows, at extra cost.

Finally, Mac users don't fear viruses and other malicious software, because virtually none work on the Mac.

Memory: Get at least 4 gigabytes of memory, or RAM, on a new Windows computer. On a Mac, most consumers can get away with 2 gigabytes.

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The Toshiba Z830

Processors: Intel's latest chips are the i3, i5, and i7 Core models. But a laptop with chips from rival AMD, or older Intel dual-core chips, also is OK.

Graphics: Usually less expensive machines have wimpier graphics hardware, and costlier ones have more powerful graphics. Better graphics can make your whole machine faster, because more and more software is designed to offload general processing tasks onto the graphics chips.

Hard disks: A 320-gigabyte hard disk should be the minimum on most PCs. Solid-state disks, like those in the new ultrabooks or the MacBook Air, generally come in sizes of 128 GB or 256 GB. They omit moving parts and use flash memory to store your files, as on a smartphone or tablet. They are costlier, but faster, and use less power.

Ports: Many PCs now come with a port called HDMI, which makes linking to a high-definition TV easy. There is a new, much faster USB port, called USB 3.0, but few peripheral devices can use it. And Apple has introduced yet another high-speed connector that has little practical use so far, called Thunderbolt.

As always, be wary of sales pitches and don't buy more laptop than you need.
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Holiday Gift Guide: Buying a Mac

Ultra-thin, ultra-light and packed with features, but Toshiba’s Satellite Z830 ultrabook is let down by a disappointing keyboard.

The Satellite Z830 ultrabook is only 15.9mm thick and tips the scales at a petite 1.12kg - which is enough to set any road warrior’s heart aflutter. The $AU1399 Z830 is one of the first of a new generation of Intel-powered ultrabooks which I spoke of on Monday. Following in the tradition of Apple’s MacBook Air, the ultrabooks aim to deliver the portability of a netbook but with most of the grunt and features of a full-blown notebook. The Satellite Z830 packs a Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.

There’s a lot to like about the Z830, but first impressions are important when you’re reviewing gadgets. The trick is knowing when to run with them and when to put them aside. For me Toshiba’s Z830 made a rather disappointing first impression thanks to its cramped keyboard and trackpad buttons. The keys are very squat, which squashes up the keyboard so it’s not as deep as your average notebook. This might be an understandable sacrifice on a 10-inch netbook, but seems unnecessary on a 13.3-inch notebook like the Z830 - especially when you look at how much dead space there is above the keyboard. The keys don’t travel far, which is annoying but obviously forgivable considering how thin the notebook is. But the keys also make a plastic clickity-clack sound which is reminiscent of a cheap netbook and harder to forgive.
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As someone who writes for a living, for me the keyboard is the make-or-break feature of any mobile gadget. I don’t care how many bells and whistles a device has, I’m after a productivity tool so if it’s horrible to type on then I’m not inclined to like it. Yet not everyone sees things this way, so I’m trying to see past the Z830’s keyboard to appreciate what else it has to offer.

Despite being amazingly thin and light, the Z830 is surprising well balanced. It doesn’t feel in danger of tipping backwards, even when balanced on your lap. The hinge also offers just the right amount of resistance, so you can open the lid with one hand without flipping the ultrabook over (helped by the rubber feet).

The Z830 relies on a magnesium alloy casing, which helps keep the weight down. Unfortunately the display has a disturbing amount of twist and flex in it and it doesn’t feel like it could survive a lot of rough and tumble. A travel satchel with some extra padding might be a wise investment.

In terms of connectivity, the Z830 has one of the best offerings in the fledgling ultrabook market. There’s no optical drive, but that’s to be expected and these days I think it’s a sacrifice many people would be prepared to make - especially if the ultrabook isn’t their only computer. The Z830 also features a 128GB solid state drive, which keeps down the weight and improves the battery life. Allowing for the Windows 7 installation, and the fact that gigabytes ain’t gigabytes, you’re only left with around 75GB for your documents. This might be a bit tight for some people, but once again it probably won’t bother you too much if the ultrabook isn’t your only computer.

Turn over the Z830 in your hands and you’ll discover two USB ports on the back along with Ethernet, HDMI and VGA. You’ll find a third USB port and a Kensington security slot, along with an SD card slot, headphone jack and microphone jack on the left. Above the display is a built-in mic and HD webcam. Such an impressive list of features is what helps the Z830 stand out from the crowd and will certainly appeal to those who hate carrying around a bag of adaptors to support a so-called portable device.

If you’re looking to regularly use the Z830 on your desk, you might consider investing in Toshiba’s dynadock V, a USB dock that lets you access Ethernet, four USB ports, DVI, headphone jack and microphone jack via just one USB connection to the ultrabook.

I’m no fashionista, but I must say the Z830’s matte silver styling is rather underwhelming and it’s certainly not going to turn heads the way something like a MacBook Air does. Toshiba calls the colour scheme “ultimate silver”, but for me it’s only one step away from boring beige. This won’t bother some people, but those looking for a cafe fashion accessory might be disappointed.

What I find more disappointing is the consumer-focused Satellite Z830’s glossy display, which doesn’t handle outdoor glare well. This disappointing when you consider such a lightweight notebook will be used in a variety of lighting conditions. Toshiba’s business-focused Portege Z830 apparently features a matte display and it might be worth investigating if, like me, you hate staring at your reflection when trying to work outdoors. The Portege also features a fingerprint reader between the trackpad buttons.

Unfortunately the Satellite Z830’s 1366x768 LED display offers rather blue-ish whites, which doesn’t help with outdoors contrast. It’s worth noting that by default the screen brightness is set to 50% in battery mode, obviously to prolong the battery life. You’ll probably want to bump this up to at least 75%, tapping into the LED goodness which helps with the contrast. It’s also worth noting that the keys are backlit, as it’s a feature often lost in the move to thinner devices.

Battery life is obviously an important issue with ultrabooks. Under light load you’ll squeeze about five hours out of the Z830, which is nothing to be sneezed at. If you’re looking to milk every last drop of out it you can press the eco mode button which dims the screen, sets more aggressive idle times and kills the keyboard backlight. By default eco mode is too dim for my liking, but thankfully it’s controlled by a Windows power plan, so you can dip into the control panel and modify it to your liking.

All up there’s a lot to like about the Z830, but if it came in under $1000 I’d be a lot more forgiving of the mediocre keyboard. Keep in mind you’re paying a significant premium for ultra-portability, as Toshiba sells an entry-level 13.3-inch notebook with a Core i5 process for $AU899. You can save even more money if you’re prepared to go up to 15.6 inches. At $1399 I think you’d need to spend a lot of time on the road to justify the expense of the Z830. And that’s when the keyboard would start to irk me. I’ll admit the smaller keys grow on you after a while, but I’d want to test out the keyboards on the competing ultrabooks before putting down my money on the Toshiba Satellite Z830.

Read more: http://burmafriends.com/articles/entry/Boost-The-Speed-capacity-Of-The-System-Conveniently

Research and Markets: MacBook Pro Portable Genius, 3rd Edition - Tips and Techniques for Forward-Thinking Macbook Pro Users

Now that you have a MacBook Pro, you need just one more accessory, your very own copy of MacBook Pro Portable Genius, Third Edition. This handy, compact book lets you in on a wealth of tips and tricks, so you get the very most out of Apple's very popular notebook. Discover the latest on the most recent release of iLife, get the skinny on the new Intel Core i7 and i5 processors in the Pro, see how to go wireless in a smart way, and much more. The book is easy to navigate, doesn't skimp on the essentials, and helps you save time and avoid hassle.

Includes savvy advice and plenty of no-nonsense content in a clear layout that is easy to access
Covers key tools, topics, and shortcuts on things like running Windows applications, desktop sharing, the latest operating system Mac OS X Lion and the latest iLife '11 release
Features Genius icons throughout the book that provide smart and innovative ways to handle tasks and save yourself time

Key Topics Covered:

How Can I Use My Desktop Space Efficiently?
How Do I Manage User Accounts?
What Are My Internet Connection Options?
What Can I Do on a Local Network?
How Can I Control My MacBook Pro More Effectively?
How Do I Take Advantage of MobileMe?
How Can I Manage My Contacts?
How Can I Go Beyond E-mail Basics with Mail?
How Can I Chat?
How Can I Manage My Calendars?
How Do I Make Better Use of My MacBook Pro's Audio?
How Do I Store and Maintain My Data?
How Can I Make Sure I Don't Run Out of Battery Power?
How Can I Protect My MacBook Pro?
How Can I Run Windows Applications?
How Do I Solve MacBook Pro Problems?
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Oh My Tech: Handy tips for new iPhone users

Apple sold more than 4 million new iPhone 4S’s in the first three days it was on sale, making it the fastest-selling phone in history and one of the fastest-selling electronic devices ever. That’s more than any phone manufacturer will sell of any other single model all year.

There’s a whole wave of new iPhone users who have come to me in the past week who are a bit puzzled about what to do next.

So here are a few important tips every beginning iPhone owner needs to know. Another exclusive Oh My Tech clip-and-save!

Find my iPhone » There’s nothing more horrifying than spending $200 on a new phone and then losing it or having it stolen. So the most crucial thing to do — even before downloading “Angry Birds” — is sign up for Apple’s free cloud service called iCloud and turn on the “Find My iPhone” feature on the phone.

If you lose your phone, you can log into iCloud through www.icloud.com, where it calls up a map displaying where your phone currently is using its built-in GPS receiver. You also can remotely tell it to play a sound if it’s buried under the couch somewhere. And if it is stolen, you can remotely lock the phone so someone can’t access it. Or you can completely erase the data so thieves can’t steal important information from it.

Adjusting the volume » You might automatically think that to turn down the volume for an app you just turn the volume down at the phone’s main menu. Not so. If you turn the volume down at the main menu, all you’re doing is turning down the phone’s ringer volume. The volume for apps is different than the ringer volume, and you have to launch an app to adjust its loudness. Don’t make this mistake or you may accidentally turn down the ringer and miss that important call.

Shooting pictures and video » New in iOS 5 is turning the phone’s “up” volume button into the camera shutter button when the camera is on, a long-desired feature. But it’s a problem if you’re right-handed. To take a horizontal picture or video, you would naturally hold the camera so your right-hand finger presses that shutter button on the top. But if you do, the picture or video will display upside down when off-loading it to a computer and playing it on a lot of photo and video players. That’s an oversight on Apple’s part. When taking a picture horizontally, you should remember to hold the phone with the volume/shutter button on the bottom left-hand corner (I suppose you could use your left thumb to take the picture) and the virtual on-screen shutter button on the right of the screen. That ensures your photos and video will be right-side-up.

Home button » People don’t know this, but if you double-press the home button from the main menu, it calls up a list of recently used apps so you can go to them directly. If you’re playing music or a podcast, you also can double-press the home button when the screen is off to immediately go to the iPod controls.

Sending pictures and photos » To tweet, text, email, print or post a video or picture from the phone, you just go to the picture or video you want to send. There will always be an icon on the bottom that looks like a square with an arrow in it. Press it and you get a list of ways to send that picture or video.
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Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 and Galaxy Player 5.0 review

Though iOS and Android are engaged in a cutthroat battle for smartphone supremacy, the iPod touch has reigned largely unchallenged in the media player market. Samsung aims to change that with the Galaxy Players, which are basically 4- and 5-inch Galaxy S phones minus the phone parts — they still have full Android Market access, all the excellent Google apps, dual cameras, and solid internals.

In addition to the formidable challenge of competing with the iPod touch, the Players — at $229.99 for the 4.0 and $269.99 for the 5.0 — also have to deal with cheap, no-contract Android phones that keep their phone bits and still manage to be priced competitively with the Players. Can Samsung give them enough of an edge to make it worth the money? Read on to find out.
Hardware / design
The Galaxy Player 4.0 is the spitting image of the iPhone 3GS


While the Galaxy Player 5.0 is large enough to be unmistakable (at least until the Galaxy Note comes to the US), every single person who’s picked up the Player 4.0 review unit in our office has inevitably responded with some variant of "wow, this looks exactly like the iPhone 3GS." And indeed it does: the contours are similar, the plastic backs are similar, and even the silver bezel seems ripped directly from Apple’s design. The iPhone isn’t the worst design to copy, though, and the Player is good-looking if a little cheap-feeling. Both have black fronts and black or white backs, and otherwise adopt the look and feel of the original Samsung Galaxy S, only without with the Android search button.
There are odd differences between the two models

There’s 8GB of storage inside each Player, with a micro SD slot for up to 32GB more. Both support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and have front and rear cameras. There are some differences between the two Player models, though, and they’re both purely aesthetic and kind of puzzling. The Player 4.0’s headphone jack and USB port are both on the top of the device, while the 5.0’s are on the bottom; the 4.0’s power button and volume controls are on opposite sides, while the 5.0 crams them precariously close to each other on the right. The 4.0 also has a removable back with a microSD slot inside the case, while the 5.0 has a non-removable back and a microSD slot up top. Neither is necessarily a better strategy (though I preferred the 4.0’s layout), but it’s strange that Samsung wasn’t consistent with how it built the devices.

Samsung’s high-end phones seem to have landed somewhere between 4.3 and 4.5 inches, which is a pretty optimal size for a cell phone; for some reason Samsung decided to go bigger and smaller, and as a result both Players feel like they're the wrong size. The 4.9-inch tall, 2.5-inch wide Player 4.0 is easily usable in one hand, and is very pocketable, but it feels slightly too small next to Samsung’s phones. The 5.0, on the other hand, is humongous. Its 5.6 x 3.6-inch body feels too big to use in one hand or slip into a pocket, but it’s still too small to use comfortably with two hands. It’s a seriously thick .46 inches, even thicker than Samsung’s much larger tablets, and it weighs 6.4 ounces, which is pretty hefty compared to just 4.2 for the smaller Player. Both models have an 800 x 480 screen, which is relatively sharp on the 4.0, with the TFT LCD showing the same bright and vivid colors Samsung’s Galaxy S phones are known for. 800 x 480 looks comically bad blown up to 5 inches, though; everything is enormous, like it’s zoomed in for the partially blind.

Samsung’s nod to the iPod touch extends all the way to bundling Apple-style white earphones with the Players, though they’re different in one crucial respect: they don’t sound terrible. They’re not great, and don’t have a lot of bass response or dynamic range, but they’re more usable than most bundled earphones, and more comfortable thanks to the three different sets of tips included. There are two speakers on the back of both Player models, and they’re exactly what you’d expect — quiet, tinny, and prone to distortion, but decent enough to show a friend a YouTube video.
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Apple Confirms Battery Life Problems Are iOS 5 Related

UPDATE: Apple officially commented on the issue to Wired.com: “A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices. We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.”

A growing number of iPhone 4S owners are reporting battery problems with Apple’s newest handheld. The device seems to be draining unusually fast during regular use, as well as when it’s not being used at all.

Users in Apple forums are describing up to 15 or 20 percent drops in battery in the span of one hour during times of light usage. Others report losing 10 to 15 percent battery at night while they are sleeping — something potentially very troubling if you are relying on your iPhone as your alarm clock the next morning.

“My battery life is terrible,” one person in the forum wrote. “I was iMessaging my friend about it (on Wi-Fi) and over the course of 12-15 minutes I lost 10 percent battery life.” Another said he was issued a new phone after reporting the issue.

The problem is primarily affecting 4S owners, but some iPad and iPhone 4 owners are experiencing similar battery problems since upgrading to iOS 5 (this reporter has not — my iPhone 4’s battery life has remained unchanged since the upgrade).

Although Apple has not yet officially commented on the issue, according to The Guardian, some of those affected by the issue have been contacted by Apple’s engineers. One individual said that Apple called and, after asking a number of questions about his usage habits, asked him to install a monitoring program so that they could better diagnose the issue.

The iPhone 4S has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s supposed to provide up to 8 hours of 3G talk time (14 hours of 2G) and standby time of up to 200 hours. Although it’s a slight larger (capacity-wise) battery than that of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4 is supposed to get 300 hours of standby time. For more intensive activities like internet use and watching videos, on the iPhone 4S you get 6 hours on 3G and 9 hours on WiFi, and 10 hours, respectively. The iPhone 4S has a beefed up A5 processor and several other hardware upgrades and changes compared to its predecessor. When the iPhone 3GS debuted, it also suffered from battery life complaints.

But there’s no new-iPhone-problem more infamous than 2010’s Antennagate. The problem surrounded the placement of the antennas on the steel band around the newly released iPhone 4. Holding your phone it what came to be known as the “death grip” resulted in your phone’s signal strength dropping dramatically, falling three or four bars. Apple’s solution was to issue plastic bumpers to those afflicted. The problem, although widely publicized, had little affect on iPhone sales, though: the iPhone 4 continued to be a top-selling smartphone for both AT&T, and then Verizon, through this last quarter.

Likewise, iPhone 4S sales also continue to be strong. The device debuted in over twenty European countries last week, and will begin launching in a slew of other spots around the globe, including potentially big markets like Hong Kong and South Korea, Nov. 11.

The issue has not been pinpointed to one particular service or problem-area.

If you’re suffering from iPhone 4S battery drain, there are a few solutions you can try. Many users have reported improved battery life after draining the device completely (that is, until the device powers off), and then letting it fully charge back up in an uninterrupted sitting.

Another user in Apple’s forums found that disabling the calendar in their Exchange mail account and then enabling it again dramatically improved their battery life.

If neither of those fixes seem to be helping, try adjusting your settings. In addition to normal battery-saving techniques like lowering screen brightness or turning off Wi-Fi or switching to Airplane Mode when you don’t mind being off the grid, you can turn off location-based services, or just on the apps you don’t need monitoring your whereabouts constantly. You can also switch off push notifications for email, switching to fetch at longer intervals instead. You can check out this article on Gizmodo for more details and additional tips.
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Saving iPhone Battery Life: 10 Tips And Tricks For The iPhone 4S And Older Models

Having trouble with the battery on your iPhone? You're not alone: A recent wave of complaints from iPhone 4S owners apparently even has Apple worried about battery issues.

But fear not, iPhone owner! You may not be able to have a work battery and a home battery like your Android-toting brethren, but there are simple steps you can take right now to improve the battery life on your new iPhone. Click through the slideshow to get some battery-saving advice, and remember that these are tips, not mandates: Pick and choose what you like, discard what you don't.

We want to hear from you, too. Have any battery life suggestions? Leave your tips in the comments section below.

Turn Off "Setting Time Zone"
1 of 12
Could the battery drain on the iPhone 4S be caused by a bug in Apple's iOS 5 operating system? It sure is a popular theory, though Apple hasn't responded yet.

Basically, this supposed bug is causing the iPhone to repeatedly use your phone's location services in order to find out whether or not you've switched time zones, even if you're just sitting on the couch (which, let's face it, you're usually doing). When I checked my Time Zone settings, my iPhone was indeed currently using my location to ensure that I had not switched time zones in the past 24 hours. Not good, and certainly a potential battery killer, depending on how often this is happening.

To fix this:
1. Touch the "Settings" icon on your home screen (the one with all the gears).
2. Touch the "Location Services" bar.
3. Scroll down to the "System Services" bar at the bottom and click onto that screen.
4. Switch "Setting Time Zone" into the "Off" position. Unless you're doing some cross-country traveling, it's not necessary to be on all the time, especially if a bug is causing it to access your GPS several times throughout the day.

While you're there, you can go ahead and turn off "Location-Based iAds," unless you like those specific, hyper-local advertisements that pop up when using your favorite free apps. You can also certainly do without "Diagnostics & Usage," and unless you drive often AND use the traffic function on your Maps app, you can turn off "Traffic" as well.
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Consumer Reports tips hat to iPhone 4S, still thinks Android phones are better

Consumer Reports just can’t avoid getting in the mobile fanboy crosshairs.

The review outfit today officially recommended Apple’s iPhone 4S, after famously dissing last year’s iPhone 4 because of antenna problems.

But despite the recommendation, Consumer Reports still rated several Android phones higher than the iPhone 4S — which will surely rile Apple fans once again.

Consumer Reports’ Mike Gigas writes, “In special reception tests of the iPhone 4S that duplicated those we did on the iPhone 4, the newer phone did not display the same reception flaw, which involves a loss of signal strength when you touch a spot on the phone’s lower left side while you’re in an area with a weak signal.”

Because of the iPhone 4 antenna issue, dubbed antennagate, Apple was forced to hand out free bumper cases. “We aren’t perfect,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last year about the situation, in a rare apologetic moment.

Consumer Reports noted that the iPhone 4S scored well in its battery testing, despite consumers complaining of battery issues (this writer’s iPhone 4S had to be replaced because of battery problems). The outfit says it will retest the iPhone 4S after Apple releases its battery fix.

Consumer Reports still rated high-end Android phones higher, like the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Droid Bionic, because of their bigger screens and fast 4G LTE connectivity. The organization also rated the LG Thrill higher than the iPhone 4S because of its ability to create 3D photos and videos, both relatively gimmicky features. It’s a recommendation that, honestly, makes me think twice about trusting anything Consumer Reports says now.
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Super, Simple Tips for Getting Started with Video on Your iPhone

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that I was afraid of video. I have some very good friends who made it look so easy (I’m looking at you, Brian Copeland and Dale Chumbley), and I thought I would rather refrain from doing video altogether than put out videos that couldn’t match up to theirs in quality and scope. Plus, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing.

And then I got an iPhone4.

If you do not have an iPhone 4 (or 4S) and do not plan on getting one, then I apologize – this article is not for you. Though I own a Flip Camera and a Kodak zi8, they’ve never made it out of their boxes. With my iPhone4, I broke out of my shell and started creating videos.

If you do have an iPhone4 or 4S or are getting one soon, then let’s get you started on your path to YouTube stardom…or at least on the path of no longer being afraid of creating video.

Getting comfortable with your iPhone as video camera. Open up the camera on your iPhone and switch it to video mode. Then change the view so that you can see yourself on the screen (this may take a little getting used to!) – this will help you tremendously with lining up your shot and making sure you’re in the frame. (Also, I love that I can shoot videos when I’m alone – it takes away a lot of the stage fright, not having anyone else around!)

Seeing yourself in the screen will also help you to judge the quality of the lighting – if it doesn’t look good to you in the shot, it won’t magically look an better later to a viewer. Try different angles to get the right light for each shot.
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Play with the phone inside and outside – learn how changing the angle ever so slightly can result in a better shot: more flattering lighting, making you and what you’re shooting look better.

Scripts and storyboards. While I usually shoot my videos straight off the top of my head and make it up as I go along, this probably won’t work for everyone. If you’re a visual person, you may want to write out a brief script or sketch out a short storyboard before shooting your video. If you’re an auditory person, repeating what you want to say a few times before the camera is on might help. It’s as simple as finding a process that works for you – you may want to make bullet points of the main topics you want to touch on, or perhaps write out what you want to say and post it to a wall or whiteboard opposite from where you are shooting.

You may also want to shoot a couple of practice shots to get comfortable with knowing the camera is rolling and seeing that red light on – and also to get used to seeing your reflection in the camera! Who knows? One of those practice shots may end up being a keeper! Don’t be afraid to mess up – you can always stop the camera and start over. Refrain from deleting every “bad” shot, though – you may be able to salvage some of what you liked from each shot in the editing process.

Short segments. Plan your video in short segments. For me, when I am shooting for a local Atlanta venue or event, I have a formula in mind:

I start with an introduction, and it always starts the same way: My logo fades into a title screen and then into an opening shot of me introducing the clip: “Hey there, this is Maura Neill with 365Atlanta.com and today I’m…”
Most of the body of the video is footage of the event – whether in still photos or in video – with me narrating in the form of a voiceover. I edit together a collection of still photos and short videos to create the main section of the video.
The conclusion of my videos is also consistent: I briefly wrap up what the video has highlighted and then I say, “And of course, for great things to do all around the Atlanta area, visit 365Atlanta.com. See you there!”

Consistency is not only helpful to you, for planning purposes, but also to your viewer: setting up each video with a consistent beginning and ending can help to brand your videos, so that the viewer always knows it’s you and always knows what to expect, especially if you’re shooting a series of related videos.

Shoot in short segments that you can edit together later. For example, if you’re shooting a video about 5 tips to help you sell your home, shoot each tip as a separate segment, perhaps using a different backdrop or location for each one, and then edit them together to create a final product. Or if you’re making a video about an event or an exhibit in your town, shoot eight to ten short segments (under 20 seconds each) of specific parts of the event, include short interviews with the hosts or other spectators, footage of what an attendee will see themselves when they go, etc.
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iPhone 4S Unlocked Now Available From Apple: iPhone 4S No Contract!

Along with the international iPhone 4S launches, Apple has begun selling unlocked iPhone 4S here in the United States on their online store. Orders placed now are estimated to ship within 1-2 weeks, and as you could have already guessed, expensive.

The contract-free 4S starts off at $649. The unlocked model is only compatible on supported GSM network. Apple has posted some tips to help customers benefit the most of their unlocked iPhone.

The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment. You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.* The unlocked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint.

If you don’t want a multiyear service contract or if you prefer to use a local carrier when traveling abroad, the unlocked iPhone is the best choice. It arrives without a micro-SIM card, so you’ll need an active micro-SIM card from any supported GSM carrier worldwide. To start using it, simply insert the micro-SIM card into the slot on your iPhone and turn it on by pressing and holding the On/Off button for a few seconds. Then follow the onscreen instructions to set up your iPhone.

Although Apple had officially announced the unlocked iPhones would go on sale in November, retail stores started selling off-contract phones after launch.If you’ve been waiting, act now.
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Top 10 Tips for Happy Holiday Travelers

1. Arrive early. Anticipate tons of traffic and expect delays. We do, after all, live in Johns Creek and on a good day it's a 45-minute commute to the airport. Take MARTA if possible to avoid traffic jams. I know it takes 40 minutes to get to MARTA and we can be at Hartsfield in just about that much time, but for the holidays, check it out.

2. Carry on luggage is probably the best bet. Gate check your bags whenever possible. If you have chosen to check bags, make sure they are not more than 50 pounds. First class can take up to 70 pounds if flying internationally. Read the regulations on each carriers website. Here is a good list of regulations to read before thinking about your baggage: www.airfarewatchdog.com

3. Check out the airport lounge. If you are a member of a Sky Miles club, have an American Express Platinum Card and meet certain criteria (first class tickets, etc.) you can enter the lounges for free. If you are not a member or carry the Silver Card, think about paying the fee to enter for the day. If your flight is delayed you will have a quiet place to sit and relax. You can enjoy free WiFi, lovely snacks and drinks while there.

4. Smile, smile, smile. The gate attendants can make or break your travel. Be kind, smile and you will be on your way quickly. Let's not forget all the stories of passengers being booted off flights for, well, expressing themselves. Remember to behave and the world will be a happy place.

5. Take your noise canceling headphones. These little babies actually work quite well. They can make a flight with screaming babies, loud business associates or anyone else sharing their conversation with the entire aircraft a much quieter ride!

6. Download movies, videos, books, photos, etc. to your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Blackberry or other device of your choice. It will make the time fly, no pun intended.

7. Eat something healthy. Believe it or not, it is very important to eat healthy before or during a flight. Swelling feet, hands and such can make the flight very uncomfortable. There are some really good restaurants in several airports around the country. Refer to this website for a few: www.airfarewatchdog.com. Once you pass through security, and we'll get to that in a minute, you are free to purchase any drinks or food of your choice.

8. Know the TSA regulations for the airport. Each airport has a TSA website, along with each airline's regulations. READ it before arriving at the security line. Here are a few things to do before you get to the check point. I suggest doing these before you get to the conveyor belt to avoid those stares from seasoned travelers. Remove your belts and change from pockets, take off your jackets and any outerwear, no not underwear, although it's not a far cry until we have to do that too, take off your shoes, remove your computer from its case, take mobile devices out of your pockets, keep an eye on your belongings and don't forget to take all your belongings on the other side. Laughing are you? It has happened.

9. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are many people in the airports watching every traveler to see who is an easy target for theft. Don't be fooled thinking you know what to look for. Professional thieves are very good at what they do. This applies to your departure as well as your arrival. Be very aware of approaching taxi drivers who offer you the cheapest fare. Go directly to the taxi stand and get your transportation there. Sharing these tips is an entire article in itself. Just be aware and stick together if you are traveling with your family.

10. Arrive safe. This is my most important advice. There is nothing better than arriving at your destination with all your possessions in tact. Follow the common sense rules and you'll be fine.

Travel Smart, Dream Big!
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4" iPhone 5: Bigger, Faster, Longer?

As the dust settles on iPhone 4S, i5 rumours are coming hard and fast. iLounge, have pieced together a picture of the new iPhone 5 based on tips from ‘sources’ which indicate a bigger 4 inch screen and a full 8mm longer, with possibly an aluminum metal casing.

However, this 4 inch screen, if it comes to pass, could have Steve Jobs turning in his grave, as he was said to abhor the bigger iPhone 5 screen so much he scrapped the entire project, and quickly developed a 4S model in its place.

Jobs wanted to keep the 3.5 inch standard iPhone screen to keep it on par with previous models and prevent the iPhone market from fragmenting.

Click to enlarge
Streeeetch: iPhone 5 is growing up and out, apparently. Image: iPhone FAQ

However, if the bigger 4 inch touchscreen comes to pass, it also means Apple is not immune to the current trends in smartphone market with Android rivals like Morotola Razr 4.3" qHD screen, Samsung Galaxy S II and 4.7" HTC Sensation XL all sporting much larger screens than previous.

And unlike teardrop protype versions rumoured last year, the next iPhone will sport the same flat edges as its older 4S sister.

iLounge are also tipping next generation 4G LTE for iPhone 5, which will be almost industry standard here in Australia next year.

It is currently in development phase, say sources, and will hit the Apple tree summer 2012, meaning a July to August time frame here in Oz.

One good reason to look forward to winter then.

So there you have it, the 5 rumour mill has started so expect everything from 'bigger screens', 'skinnier', 'fatter', 'longer', 'shorter', 'Siri reloaded' and every hoped for feature and adjective possible associated with the iPhone 5 for the next while.
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The end of the semester is quickly approaching and if you’re up against the wall and running out of time with a college term paper you may be thinking about asking for a few extra days. Asking your professor or teaching assistant for a deadline extension can be challenging, but there are four things you can do to help get the extension you think you deserve.

1. Request the extension in person

As in all dealings with your professor or TA, you’ll get better results if you work in the world of face time. And we don’t mean through your iPhone. Real face time, the act of physically walking into an office and speaking with your professor or TA in person, will go a long way to helping you get your extension because you can have a conversation about it, which will encourage a discussion of your merits. Voicemail and emails are simply not as effective.

We know it can be hard for some college students to shine during an honest-to-goodness conversation these days since texting, messaging, and emailing dominate the way college students communicate, but you need to try. Not only will it show that you respect the professor or TA, it will show that you’re willing to make an effort to secure your extension.

2. Request the extension before the deadline arrives

Whatever you do, don’t try to sidle on into your professor’s office and ask for an extension after everyone else your class has already turned in their papers. Blowing a deadline and then asking for an extension isn’t going to cut it. If you’re responsible and diligent you’ll know beforehand that you’re not going to make the deadline for your paper. And that’s something your professor or TA will take into account when you come in and ask for an extension.

3. Prove you deserve an extension

Speaking of being responsible, if you want an extension you’re probably going to need to prove you deserve one. Make sure you discuss with your professor or TA the reason you need an extension, show that you’ve been making an effort and didn’t simply wait until the last minute, and suggest an actual date for your new deadline.

If you come to class every day, participate in lectures, know your subject, keep up with the assigned readings, and generally do a good job in college, especially when it comes to helping your professor or TA get to know you by your in-class effort, your chances of an extension are probably pretty good. But if you can’t manage to roll out of bed for class, don’t have much to say during lectures, don’t do well on tests or quizzes, and generally don’t contribute much to the class, your chances of being granted an extension aren’t so great.

You need to understand that you’re in college now. It’s supposed to be challenging. And you need to understand that your professor or TA sets deadlines for many reasons, including being able to grade papers in a timely manner. Professors and TAs have lives, too, and if you’re asking them to give up a few hours on their weekend to do a last-minute reading of your paper before semester grades are due, you had better be able to make a convincing argument as to why they should.

4. Suck it up if your extension is denied

Even if you think your extension request is perfectly reasonable, your professor or TA may not. You need to be prepared to suck it up and pound out the rest of your paper if the answer to your extension request is no. Even if you submit a paper that’s not as good as you would prefer, turning in a less-than perfect paper is way better than not turning in one at all. If you feel that you really deserve an extension or that your situation really merits some understanding, you can always appeal to a higher authority. Try to talk with your dean of students for some additional support for your cause.

Asking for an extension for a college paper can be an intimidating thing to do. But sometimes life happens and you simply have no other choice. If you make sure to ask in person before the deadline and prove your worth, you’ll maximize your chances to get some extra time to finish your paper.
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Lock Down Your Wi-Fi Network: 8 Tips for Small Businesses

Wi-Fi gives us freedom from wires, but it’s not secure by default. Data is transmitted through the air, and anyone nearby can easily capture it with the right tools. As discussed below, whether you have your own Wi-Fi network or use someone else’s, employing security measures is necessary to protect company files, online accounts, and user privacy.
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Why Protect Your Wi-Fi Network?

By default, Wi-Fi routers and access points aren’t secure when you purchase them. Unless you enable encryption, people nearby can easily connect to your network. At best, they just use the free wireless Internet for browsing and downloading, possibly slowing down your connections. However, if they wanted to, they could possibly access your PCs and files. They also could easily capture your passwords or hijack your accounts for websites and services that don’t use SSL encryption, such as some Web-based email clients, Facebook, and Twitter.

If your Internet service provider (ISP) set up your Wi-Fi, it likely enabled encryption. This version of encryption, however, may be an older security option that’s now easily breakable: Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP).

Why protect your connections on other Wi-Fi networks? When you connect to outside networks, such as hotspots in coffee shops, airports, and other public places, the connection is almost always insecure. Eavesdroppers don’t even have to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot to capture your traffic. And as with using any other unencrypted Wi-Fi network, they could possibly get hold of your passwords or hijack your online accounts.

To check the security status of your Wi-Fi--and raise its security level as needed--follow these best practices.
1. Choose the Right Wi-Fi Security Options

[Click to enlarge] Depending upon your device, you may have to select WPA first to see the WPA2 option.Figure 1:Depending upon your device, you may have to select WPA first to see the WPA2 option.You can use any of several separate protocols that provide different levels of security: WEP, WPA, and WPA2. You see these options when enabling or changing the wireless security on your wireless router or access points (APs). Depending upon your device, you may have to select WPA first to see the WPA2 option.

WEP is easily breakable and protects you only from casual Wi-Fi users. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) has two versions: the first is simply WPA, for a reasonable level of protection, and the second is WPA2, which provides the best protection to date. To confuse you even more, you can implement both WPA and WPA2 in two very different modes: Personal, aka Pre-Shared Key (PSK), and Enterprise (802.1X, RADIUS, or EAP). Most wireless routers and APs support both modes, which you’ll see listed in the wireless settings.

The Personal mode of WPA/WPA2 is easier to set up, but is subject to brute-force dictionary cracking. This means that someone could potentially come up with your encryption passphrase by running software that repeatedly tries to guess it from a dictionary of common words, passwords, and combinations. However, this isn’t a big issue if you create a long and strong passphrase when setting up the encryption, using no words or phrases that might be in a dictionary.

The Personal mode, though, is not suitable if your organization has more than a couple of Wi-Fi users. In this mode, all computers and devices connecting to the network are set with the same encryption passphrase, which creates issues when employees leave the company or a device becomes lost. You’d want to change the passphrase when such occasions arise--but that means you must change it on all access points and every Wi-Fi device.

[Click to enlarge] When checking Wi-Fi networks available to your PC, hover over each to see its security settings.Figure 2: When checking Wi-Fi networks available to your PC, hover over each network's name to see its security settings.The Enterprise mode of WPA/WPA2 is much more complex to set up and requires a server, but it provides better security for organizations. Along with the security itself being stronger, this mode provides each Wi-Fi user with their own username and password for logging onto the Wi-Fi instead of a global passphrase. This means that if an employee leaves the company or their device is stolen, you just have to change their password on the server.

The Enterprise mode also prevents users on your network from snooping on each other’s traffic, capturing passwords, or hijacking accounts, since the encryption keys (exchanged in the background) are unique to each user session.

If you aren’t sure your Wi-Fi is encrypted, you can quickly check. On a PC or device that’s connected to the Wi-Fi network (or at least has Wi-Fi), simply open the list of available wireless networks and find the name of the network you use. In Windows, click the network icon in the lower right corner of your screen.

In Windows XP and Vista, you can quickly see the security status of each AP nearby, listed next to each network name. Windows 7, by default, displays a notice by the network name only if it’s unsecured. But you can hover over the network names to view each one's security type, as shown in Figure 2.
2. Enable WPA2-Personal Security on Your Network

If your Wi-Fi network is secured only with WEP or nothing at all, then at least enable WPA2-Personal security.

[Click to enlarge] Enabling WPA2-Personal on a wireless router.Figure 3: Enabling WPA2-Personal on a wireless router.To do so, you must first enable it and create a passphrase on the wireless router or access points. You need to log into the control panel of each router or AP by typing its IP address into a Web browser. Next, find the wireless security settings and enable WPA2-Personal (PSK) security with AES encryption/cipher type. Then create a long passphrase with mixed case letters and numbers--using no words found in the dictionary--and apply the changes. The image at right (Figure 3) shows an example of these wireless security settings.

Once WPA2-Personal security is enabled on the router or APs, users will be prompted to enter the passphrase when connecting to the Wi-Fi network.
3. Even Better, Establish WPA2-Enterprise Security

To deploy the Enterprise mode of WPA/WPA2, you first need to get a RADIUS server. It enables the required 802.1X authentication and is where you define the usernames and passwords for Wi-Fi users.

If you don’t have the time or expertise to set up your own server, consider using a hosted service. Keep in mind that there are also access points (APs) with built-in RADIUS servers, such as ZyXEL’s 802.11a/b/g/n Business Access Point (NWA3160-N). But if you’re a Linux fan, you might consider installing the open source FreeRADIUS server software on a server or PC.

[Click to enlarge] Configuring WPA2-Enterprise on a wireless router.Figure 4: Configuring WPA2-Enterprise on a wireless router.Once you have a RADIUS server set up, you input a Shared Secret (password) and other details for each router or AP. You also input the usernames and passwords for the Wi-Fi users or devices into the RADIUS server (or use Active Directory or a separate database).

Next, you have to configure each router or AP with security and authentication settings. You log into the control panel of each router or AP by typing its IP address into a Web browser, and log in. Then you look for the wireless security settings and enable WPA2-Enterprise security, which may be referred to as just plain WPA2. You must then enter the IP address of the RADIUS server that you set up and input the Shared Secret (password) you created for that particular router or AP. Once you apply these changes, users will be able to connect.
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A Few Tips on Customising The Windows 8 Lockscreen Background Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/2011/11/08/few-tips-customising-windows-8-lockscreen-background/#ixzz1eRjD7i3B

Another revamped feature of Windows 8 is the lockscreen. This concept moved from a mute screen, where you could only enter the password and login, maybe add an avatar icon, to a live preview page that can be customised. We are talking about live updates, choosing 3rd party applications to send information here and most of all, changing the background. The last one could be done in Windows 7 as well, by modifying registry entries and messing with some dangerous apps that could, eventually, damage the operating system itself. That's long gone in Windows 8 and here is a couple of tips and tricks to get you started.

We will start by applying a new background image to the Windows 8 lock-screen panel. This will serve as the default image, shown when Windows passes the boot screen and before it enters its Metro UI interface. Here is what you need to do:

1. While in the Metro view, click on the Control Panel tile to launch the configuration menu.

2. In the left side of the screen, click on Personalize and a window like below will appear.

3. Now click on the Lock Screen button situated right above the big image and then choose one of the available images to be set as the background. If you are not satisfied with this collection, you can choose a picture of you own by pressing the Browse button and then navigating to the file.

4. To preview your selection, press the Windows + L buttons and that's it.

You will see that the lock screen is divided into two major parts, named "The User Tile" and the regular "Lock Screen". Both of them can be attached an image from the above menu. The first one describes the image that is presented as an icon of the user, similar to the Windows 7 avatar in the login menu, while the second one was previously configured as the background.

Speaking of this menu, you can also choose here what 3rd party applications display live status messages to the lock screen. The maximum number of chosen apps is six, and they can be selected by clicking on the big "Choose an app" button.

Read more: http://www.benbd.org/index.php?p=blogs/viewstory/4453

Windows 8 on a USB Drive, Defragging Tips, Launch Apps Fast

Install Windows 8 the easy way, learn more about defragmenting your hard drive, launch Windows 7 programs quickly.

By Rick Broida, PCWorld Nov 1, 2011 11:40 pm

If you've poked around PCWorld in recent weeks, you've learned how to download and install Windows 8 on a new hard-drive partition and how to install Windows 8 in a virtual machine. Today, let's talk about one of my favorite approaches for installing Windows 8, well, anywhere: by way of a flash drive.

See, when you download something like the Windows 8 Developer Preview (which anybody can check out, not just developers), you're left with an ISO file that must be burned to a DVD before you can actually install it. Or must it?

The Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool lets you copy that ISO file to a flash drive, then use that drive to install Windows. And don't let the name fool you: although the 1MB utility says it's for Windows 7, it works like a charm with Windows 8. (Also notwithstanding its name, there's no real downloading involved.)

For this task you'll need a flash drive with at least 8GB of available storage. The utility will necessarily erase everything on the drive as part of the setup process, so make sure you've offloaded any important data. You'll also need to have downloaded the Windows 8 Developer Preview if you haven't already. I recommend the x64 version without the developer tools, though you may want to choose the x86 version if you're planning to install it on an older PC with limited RAM (i.e. 3GB or less).

Once you run the utility, it's a simple four-step process to select the ISO file, wipe the USB drive, make it bootable, and load Windows 8. So simple, in fact, that I'm not going to reiterate the steps here. But allow 10-20 minutes for the job to finish.

When you're done, you can "safely eject" the drive, then pop it into whatever PC is going to be your Windows 8 guinea pig. (If you have trouble booting from the drive, consult your manual; you may need to tweak the BIOS settings.)

I'm sorry to say you can't actually run Windows 8 from the flash drive like you can some versions of Linux; you'll have to go as far as to install it. But it'll be a lot faster going with the flash drive than it would be with a DVD. Plus, you can load it on a netbook, ultrabook, or any other system that lacks an optical drive.
Three Surprising Things About Hard Drive Defragging

Back in the bad old days of computing, hard-drive defragmentation was a big deal. You needed a quality third-party “defragger,” and you needed to run it regularly—at least once a month—to ensure optimal system performance.

Times have changed. Although computer files still get split into fragments and scattered across your hard drive’s platters, the computers and drives themselves are so much faster now that fragmentation isn’t the same performance-wrecking problem it once was.

What’s more, if you’re a Windows 7 user, you really shouldn’t have to worry about fragmentation at all. Check out these three important facts about hard drive defragging:

In Windows 7, the built-in Disk Defragmenter utility runs automatically at scheduled times, usually once per week. This happens by default, so chances are good your hard drive is already defragged. And by most accounts, the utility compares favorably with third-party alternatives, so don’t spend money on another defragger unless you have very specific reasons for doing so.
You don’t necessarily have to leave your computer on overnight. If Disk Defragmenter isn’t able to run at, say, 1 a.m. Wednesday, it will kick in the next time your computer is idle.
You should never defragment a solid-state drive (SSD). Doing so can shorten its lifespan. In fact, whether you purchased a laptop with an SSD installed or upgraded your laptop with one, be sure to disable scheduled defragmentation in Windows 7. Click Start, type disk, and then click Disk Defragmenter. Click Configure schedule to disable the feature.

By the way, if you have an external hard drive, one that’s not always connected to your PC, it may not get the chance to benefit from Windows’ scheduled defragging. Therefore, you should run Disk Defragmenter on it manually every month or so.

For more on the subject, read Lincoln Spector’s "Defragging: How, Why and Whether."
The Fast Way to Launch Programs in Windows 7

People who migrate to Windows 7 from Windows XP often overlook one of the former's best features: the keyboard-friendly Start menu. Specifically, you can run any installed program with just a few keystrokes, no third-party launcher required.

There are, of course, several ways to run a program. You can minimize all open windows, find the program's icon on your desktop, and double-click it. Or you can click Start and navigate the All Programs menu until you find what you're after.

Both approaches are a bit time-consuming, and both require you to reach for the mouse. As a keyboard-shortcut junkie, I prefer the speed and ease of keeping my fingers on my keys.

All I have to do is press the Windows key, type the first three or four letters of the program I want to run, then press Enter when it appears. For example, I can type itu for iTunes, chr for Google Chrome, exc for Excel, or out for Outlook.

Very rarely will I have to go beyond three letters. And the only time I might need to reach for the mouse is for something like exp, which makes both Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer appear in the menu. (Actually, typing int solves that problem.)

This may only save you a few seconds here and there, but I think once you get in the habit of running programs this way, you won't go back to reaching for the mouse. It's arguably the fastest and easiest method to load an app--and I find it to be the least disruptive of my workflow.
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Samsung tips Windows 8 PCs in 2012

This week Uhm Kyu Ho, head of sales and marketing for Samsung’s PC business noted that there certainly will be Windows PC computers from the manufacturer inside 2012, touchscreen PCs, and they’d likely take on a shape similar to the Series 7 line. This talk happened inside Seoul where Ho also noted that the computer line would have touchscreens and wireless keyboards, Windows 8 coming standard. While the Series 7 line was and is targeted at business users, Windows 8 may well open a whole new door for the existing line as well.

In the same instance, Nam Seong Woo, head of the PC business for Samsung noted that Windows 7 is able to run applications for personal computers, and that it’s made to also appeal to users on devices as portable as the iPad and the whole Android array of mobile products. What Windows 8 will do, then, is offer up a new door to users of the Series 7 set of PCs as Samsung plans on giving user the option of updating to the new OS when it becomes available — this OS is made with touch interaction in mind, and the update date has not yet been verified by Samsung.

Check out some Series 7 CHONOS pcs hands-on here as well as some Windows 8 tablet hands-on time as well.

Samsung notes that it aims to raise laptop computer sales by 80 percent to 18 million units sold around the globe inside 2011, this factoid spoken this past February by president of Samsung’s information-technology solutions business Kevin Lee. We’ve yet to see how close they’ve come to this goal, but given the company’s current standing in the smartphone sector, we must assume that they’re still doing quite well. Samsung took the top spot in smartphone sales last quarter pushing Apple into second place after shipments of mobile devices more than tripled in that period, this information coming from market research company IDC earlier this month.

What do you think – will Windows 8 tempt you to own a Samsung tablet? How about a Samsung PC then as well? This is how Microsoft attempts to take the mobile market, by creating an OS that appears to cover the entirety of computing. Samsung will certainly take a role in the playing out of this project, one way or another.
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Parking experts offer shoppers 10 tips for Black Friday, holiday season

The turkey may still be the main attraction of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but for many the lure of “Black Friday” deals and discounts runs a close second. Last year, approximately 212 million people headed out to the malls on Black Friday.

“While the throngs of shoppers bode well for retailers, the large, deal-hungry crowds create significant challenges–especially when it comes to parking,” says Shawn Conrad, executive director of the International Parking Institute (IPI), the largest association of parking professionals.

Conrad and members of IPI offer the following tips for shoppers:

1) Exercise Caution When Backing Out. 25 percent of parking lot accidents are caused by backing moves. Watch for other drivers and pedestrians.

2) Obey the Law. Obey posted speed limits and stop signs, and reserve handicapped spots for disabled users. Drive slowly and remember to signal.

3) Keep Your Headlights On. Using your headlights can reduce your crash risk, even in the daytime.

4) Get Your Exercise. Choose a parking space farther away from the building. Fewer people want to park in distant spaces, so there is much less hassle.

5) Follow Etiquette Basics. When waiting for a spot, do not block other parking space seekers. Once parked, center your vehicle and pull all the way into the space. Also, remember to return shopping carts to designated cart corral areas.

6) Be a Mindful Pedestrian. Parking lot etiquette also applies to pedestrians. Do not walk in the middle of the lane, refrain from texting while walking, and avoid jaywalking–instead use marked pedestrian crosswalks.

7) Watch for Small Children. Children can be hard to see in busy parking areas and often make sudden, unpredictable moves. Keep a close eye on any children with you and look out for others as well.

8) Buckle Up and Be Patient. Even low speed collisions can result in injuries. Resist the temptation to honk the horn (or worse). Showing grace instead of anger prevents reciprocal aggression.

9) Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings. Park in well-lit areas and always make sure you’ve rolled up your car windows and locked your doors. Have your keys out and ready when returning to your car.

10) Time Yourself. If you park at a metered spot, note the expiration time and plan to return a few minutes early, setting an alarm as a reminder. Some on-street spaces now offer the ability to extend your parking time remotely through your mobile phone.

The parking industry, which has changed dramatically in the past few years with new technologies to make it easier to find, reserve and pay for parking, is committed to customer service, and a great deal of planning goes into maximizing parking spaces and minimizing problems at this time of year.

But the nation’s estimated 100 million parking spaces are in high demand this season and as Conrad says, “Allowing a little extra time to park during the holidays may be the best strategy of all.”
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TuneUp Helps PC Users Make Their Windows 7 Systems Look Like Windows 8

(openPR) - What: Many Windows 7 users are tired of the classic Aero design. To help them freshen up their PCs’ interface, TuneUp offers a step-by-step guide on how to get the look and feel of Windows 8 with TuneUp Styler. Windows 7 users can not only get Windows 8’s start screen but also the operating system’s new Start Orb.

Who: Any Windows 7 PC user who is looking to recreate the look of Windows 8.

Where: TuneUp provides detailed information, helpful tips and screenshots at blog.tune-up.com. All of the information is free, and readers can post their own experiences directly on the blog to help others.

When: PC users can access the free information anytime by visiting blog.tune-up.com or by interacting with TuneUp’s PC tuning experts on Twitter and Facebook.

Resources: Blog Posts: Make Windows 7 Look Like “8”
Twitter: @TuneUp4Windows
Facebook: TuneUp Fan Page
YouTube: TuneUp4Windows Channel
Google+: TuneUp Utilities Page
Podcasts: TuneUp Podcasts about Windows
Product: TuneUp Utilities and 15-Day Trial Download

About TuneUp:
TuneUp Corporation, headquartered in Miami, Florida, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany-based TuneUp Software GmbH, the leading provider of intelligent software tools that enable users to get optimal use of their operating systems and programs. The company was founded to serve the North American market, with a focus on supporting TuneUp Utilities sales to consumers, retailers, SMBs and enterprises.

TuneUp protects users from PC problems, while helping them increase the performance and security of their computers. Since 1997, the TuneUp brand has produced best in class, high-quality products. In order to maintain high standards without being bound to patents, licenses and third-party suppliers, TuneUp develops all of its solutions in-house. This, in addition to keeping close contact with customers and incorporating their feedback, enables TuneUp to continuously grow as a company, as well as design products that meet customers’ needs.

TuneUp Utilities is available in English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Japanese, Russian, Korean and Chinese. For more information, visit www.tune-up.com, and for detailed Windows tips and tricks, visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows: blog.tune-up.com
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A Hidden Gem – Windows 7 Magnifier Shortcuts and Features

Today I was messing around with Windows 7 and discovered a brilliant little feature that I’d pretty much ignored in the past. The Windows 7 Magnifier. Of course, I always knew that Windows 7 had a magnifier built into it, just like all the previous versions of Windows, but I never bothered to give it much thought. However, today I accidently hit a shortcut for it and I’ve spent the last 2o minutes or so messing around with it. (I probably should be doing an assignment I have)

Let me explain

As I said above, I never really bothered with the magnifier in Windows 7. I always felt it was for people who had forgotten their glasses or something, and not for someone like me who is still lucky enough not to require them. However I’ve suddenly realised that I like to be able to zoom in on certain parts of the screen at will. Of course I’ve always known of the zoom features in Word, IE etc.. and I did use them from time to time, but never have I used magnifier.

But from now on I think I’ll be using it a bit more. I’ve got together a list of shortcuts which are incredibly handy to use with it. I never knew until today how much you could actually do with magnifier.
Keys to press Action
Windows logo key + Plus Sign or Minus Sign Zooms in or out
Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar Preview the desktop in full-screen mode (you have to be zoomed in first)
Ctrl+Alt+F Switch to full-screen mode
Ctrl+Alt+L Switch to lens mode
Ctrl+Alt+D Switch to docked mode
Ctrl+Alt+I Invert colors (Probably my favourite feature)
Ctrl+Alt+arrow keys Pan in the direction of the arrow keys
Ctrl+Alt+R Resize the lens
Windows logo key + Esc Exit Magnifier

Maybe I’m just a bit too bored, and that’s why I was so intrigued by the Windows 7 magnifier, but I’ve only realised how handy it is today. Microsoft have actually put a bit of time and effort into developing it, and I feel that not enough people know about it.

As I mentioned in the table, my favourite shortcut is the one that Inverts the colors. The reason I like it is because it looks super cool and could be a great little trick to play on your friends computer at some stage!
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Seven useful Windows 7 tips and tricks

Windows 7 is a good operating system right out of the box, but tweaking some of the settings and using keyboard shortcuts can enhance the Windows experience.

Here are seven useful Windows tips and tricks to help you get more out of Windows 7:

1. Bypass the Recycle Bin
The Windows Recycle Bin is a good safeguard against accidental file deletions. However, when you know you want to permanently delete a file, you can bypass it. Instead of pressing the Del key, press Shift+Del, then Shift+Enter to confirm.

If you prefer, you can also permanently disable the Recycle Bin. First, right-click on the Recycle Bin, then choose Properties. Click on the drive you want to disable the Recycle Bin for, then select "Don't move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted." Click the OK or Apply button to save the changes.
Disable Recycle Bin (Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee)

2. Open Windows Explorer faster
Are you still mousing over to a Windows Explorer icon or double-clicking on My Computer to browse your files? Try pressing Windows Logo+E instead, to instantly launch Windows Explorer.

3. Enable underlining of keyboard shortcuts
Windows has many menu shortcut keys, but they're hidden by default. To enable the underlining of the shortcuts, go to Control Panel > Ease of Access Center > Change how your keyboard works. Click on the box next to "Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys," then hit the OK or Apply button to save.
Enable underline shortcuts (Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee)
Underlined shortcuts

On the left, underlining is disabled. On the right, underlining is enabled.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee)

4. Bypass the Windows splash screen
Disabling the Windows splash screen can shave a couple seconds from your total boot time. Launch the Windows Run command (Windows Logo+R), then type msconfig. Under the Boot tab, check the box next to "No GUI boot." Hit the OK or Apply button to save the changes.
Bypass Windows splash screen (Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee)

5. Lock Windows quickly
Whether you're at the office, library, or cafe, it's always a good idea to lock Windows before you step away. To lock Windows quickly, press Windows Logo+L.

6. Show hidden files, folders, and drives
To view files, folders, and drives that Windows hides, open the Windows search box (Windows Logo) and type folder. Next, select Folder Options from the search list and navigate to the View tab. Under Hidden files and folders, check the box next to "Show hidden files, folders, and drives."
Show hidden files (Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee)

7. Rename multiples files
To rename multiple files in Windows, highlight the files you want to rename, then hit the F2 key. Rename the first file, then hit Enter. All your files will be renamed and a number in parenthesis will be added to the end of the name. If you change your mind, you can hit Ctrl+Z to undo the rename.

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Windows 7 made easy: Backup and restore

When was the last time you backed up your computer? If you answered "never", you are not alone. A recent survey found that "39 percent of respondents admit they have never backed up their computers, or haven't done so in more than a year". And yet, a similar proportion of respondents felt that the documents and files that they will lose in the event of a crash would be irreplaceable.

We get it--backing up your computer can seem like a hassle. But that's because many users are unaware of how easy it really is in Windows 7. All you need is an external hard drive and the ability to follow simple instructions. Here are some tips to get you started.

Tip 1: Create a system image
The first step toward backing up your system is to create a system image. This is basically a 'snapshot' of your computer's hard drive partition at that moment in time. With this image, you can restore your computer as it is, including the operating system, installed programs, drivers and even your personal files.

Now, we know that many PC vendors now partition off a small portion of the hard drive to store a system image of the operating system and other installed applications for recovery purposes. This means users can actually restore the PC to its pristine, factory settings when necessary. You will however lose all your personal files.

However, even with such recovery partitions already in place, it doesn't mean you shouldn't create your own. A good reason is bloatware. Many PC vendors add numerous programs that are basically free trials that expire after a short period of time. Antivirus and casual games are the common examples. Then there are the proprietary applications from the manufacturer that may not be useful for everyone.

Hence, we recommend that you create a clean system image after you uninstall these bloatware applications. This will mean a smaller, custom system image that will save you disk space on your external backup and also avoid the hassle of uninstalling these applications again should you need to recover your system. There are some applications out there that can help you uninstall these unwanted programs quickly, such as PC Decrapifier.

A clean system image is very handy if you intend to do a clean install of your operating system regularly. (Credit: Screenshot by CNET Asia)

To create a system image, go to Control Panel, click on Backup and Restore. On the left sidebar, click Create a system image.

You can choose to save the system image on an external hard drive or optical media (only the Professional and Ultimate Editions of Windows 7 allow users to backup to a network location). You will likely need more than one DVD if you're going for the optical media route (this depends on the amount of content on your hard drive partition). Once the image is created, you can use it to restore your computer. Of course, the PC would need to be able to start up and have a working hard drive. This brings us to the next part of the process.

Tip 2: Create a system repair disc
A system image by itself won't be able to boot up your computer if something goes wrong. You'll need a system repair disc that has the necessary files to boot up the PC and also have options for you to restore the system from your image backup. It's a fairly straightforward procedure. From the Control Panel, go to Backup and Restore and on the left sidebar, click on Create a system repair disc.

Insert a blank writable DVD and create the repair disc.

You'll need a system repair disc if your computer cannot boot up by itself. (Credit: Screenshot by CNET Asia)

Now, if your system is unable to boot into Windows properly, pop in the system repair disc and follow the instructions. We recommend that you allow it to do a startup repair before proceeding to the more drastic measures. With this disc, you can do a System Restore provided that a restore point had been created initially (see Tip 4 below) or you can use it to restore the system image you created earlier.

Tip 3: Automate your backup
The system image created earlier is a "clean" version of your PC without any bloatware. It's suitable for those who intend to reinstall a clean version of the operating system on a regular basis. However, most users would prefer a system backup that keeps their most recent changes, so that they won't lose any data in the event of hardware failure.

In this case, you'll need to set up a scheduled backup of your system. Again, open Backup and Restore from the Control Panel. This time, select Set up backup. You will then select the location where you wish to save your backup--an external hard drive or optical media. If you're doing this regularly (as you should), we recommend that you choose the external hard drive option.

Connect an external hard drive (with sufficient disk space for future expansion) and click on Refresh if the drive isn't detected initially. Then select the hard drive and continue with the backup process. You can set up a schedule for the backup to take place--do note that your external hard drive should be connected to your computer during these scheduled backup sessions.

Once you have such an active backup in place, you can use the system repair disc created earlier together with the external backup to recover your system when necessary.

An external hard drive is the way to go, as they are likely to have enough storage. (Credit: Screenshot by CNET Asia)

You can change when the system does the automated backup. (Credit: Screenshot by CNET Asia)

Tip 4: Using System Restore
So far, we have discussed how you can go about backing up your system and personal data. But what if a rogue program corrupts your applications before you have backed up your data?

Well, Windows 7 does have a fallback option: System Restore. However, this feature only restores system files and settings, which means that you may get your corrupted application working again, but any personal files changed since the last restore point will not be restored.

By default, Windows 7 will create restore points automatically, especially before a major change in the system, such as a Windows Update or the installation of a new driver. You can see the restore points already created by opening Control Panel, clicking on Recovery and selecting Open System Restore. So if you feel that a recently installed driver or application may be adversely affecting your system, you can rely on this feature to roll back the changes.

We don't recommend using System Restore as a substitute for a proper backup, because you will lose personal files such as photos and emails. System Restore also depends on the fact that your hard drive is still accessible. Unlike an external backup, it won't save your system in the event of a disk failure.

As you can see, Windows created these restore points before a major update. (Credit: Screenshot by CNET Asia)

You can also create a restore point manually. (Credit: Screenshot by CNET Asia)

Tip 5: Use the cloud
An alternative to backing up your data on external hard drives and optical media is to make use of online storage services. Some PC vendors now bundle such services with their computers, though they only offer a limited amount of storage space. Examples include Dell's DataSafe Online and Asus WebStorage, which are both capped at 2GB of online storage.

There are also quite a number of free online storage solutions, from Dropbox to Ubuntu One. One of the more generous services is Microsoft's SkyDrive, which gives users up to 25GB of online storage. All you need is to sign up for a free Windows Live account and you can start uploading your files to the online servers.

While online storage is another useful tool in your backup arsenal, it really shines when it comes to sharing your files with others. It's also convenient to aggregate all your data in one common repository, especially when we all have multiple devices nowadays.
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Top 20 Windows 7 Tips

Here are 20 tricks to tweak Windows 7 into the interface that works best for you.

By Preston Gralla, Computerworld Nov 11, 2009 11:31 pm

Illustration: John MattosJust got your hands on Windows 7 and want to bend it to your will? No problem. We've got plenty of tips, hacks and secrets to keep you busy for a long time, including automatically opening Windows Explorer to a folder of your choice, speeding up taskbar thumbnails, finding hidden desktop themes, forcing User Account Control to act the way you'd like, keeping your Explorer searches secret from others, and more.

So check out these tips. If you like them, we'll keep more coming.

Also see the Gallery of the Best Windows 7 Tweaks.
General tips

We'll start with a few nifty tips that can make your desktop more interesting, make it easier to get around and increase your computer's power efficiency.
Use Hidden International Wallpapers and Themes

When you first install Windows 7, it asks for your language, time and currency. Based on your responses, it installs a set of wallpapers and themes. If you choose English (United States) for your time and currency format, for example, the available desktop backgrounds and themes will include a United States section with scenery from locations such as Maine, the Southwest and so on.

Hidden, though, are background scenery and themes from other English-speaking countries -- Australia, Canada, Great Britain and South Africa. Normally, you can't access those backgrounds or themes, but there is a simple way you can install and use them:

1. In the search box in the Start menu, type C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT and press Enter. (Note: If Windows 7 is installed in a drive other than C:, use that letter instead.)

2. Windows Explorer will launch and show you a list of subfolders under C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT: MCT-AU, MCT-CA, MCT-GB, MCT-US, and MCT-ZA. Each subfolder has wallpapers for a specific country: AU for Australia, CA for Canada, GB for Great Britain, US for the United States, and ZA for South Africa.

For any of the countries whose wallpaper and themes you want to use, go into its Theme folder, for example, C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT\MCT-ZA\Theme. Double-click the theme you see there (for example ZA).

windows 7A South Africa theme, ready to use.

Click to view larger image.

3. That will install a shortcut to the theme and wallpapers in the Personalization section of Control Panel.

You can now use them as you would any other theme or background, by right-clicking the desktop, choosing Personalize, and choosing a background or theme. They will be listed in their own section.
Shake Your Desktop Free of Clutter

If you frequently run multiple programs simultaneously, your desktop can get extremely cluttered. This can get annoying if you're working on one program and want to minimize all the other windows -- in previous versions of Windows you had to minimize them individually.

With Windows 7's "shake" feature, though, you can minimize every window except the one in which you're currently working -- in a single step. Click and hold the title bar of the window you want to keep on the desktop; while still holding the title bar, shake it quickly back and forth until all of the other windows minimize to the taskbar. Then let go. To make them return, shake the title bar again.

You can accomplish the same thing by pressing the Window key-Home key combination -- although doing that is not nearly as much fun.
Get a Power Efficiency Report

Have a laptop and want to get more battery life out of it? Windows 7 includes a hidden built-in tool that will examine your laptop's energy use and make recommendations on how to improve it. To use it:

1. Run a command prompt as an administrator. To do this, type cmd in the search box, and when the cmd icon appears, right-click it and choose "Run as administrator."

2. At the command line, type in the following:

powercfg -energy -output \Folder\Energy_Report.html

where \Folder represents the folder where you want the report to be placed.

3. For about a minute, Windows 7 will examine the behavior of your laptop. It will then analyze it and create a report in HTML format in the folder you specified. Double-click the file, and you'll get a report -- follow its recommendations for ways to improve power performance.
Read more http://www.pcworld.com/article/181926/top_20_windows_7_tips.html
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