As soon as Windows 7 RTM (release to manufacturing — the final product that will be available in stores October 22) became available to IT professional Action Pack subscribers, I downloaded Windows 7 Business edition and did a clean installation on an old spare laptop, after running Windows Easy Transfer to save my files and settings to a thumb drive. Since there was not much on that computer, a clean install and setup probably took under two hours from start to finish. Fortunately, I already had all the hardware drivers I needed on my thumb drive. As it turned out, the sound card was the only device that required me to manually install the driver for it. Boring! Since this computer was a spare with nothing of any importance on it in the first place, failure was an option. That’s probably why it went so smoothly: Your results could be far different.
Next on the agenda was my main computer — the one I use to run my business. Failure was not an option, nor was extended downtime. Since the computer had never been compromised by malware (viruses, spyware, trojan horse, etc.), was running Vista very well (but slowly for so much power), and had far too much software for me to want to reinstall it all, an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate edition made good sense to me. Not wanting to rely solely on my backup images for a backout plan, I decided to clone my hard drive, and perform the upgrade on the new drive. If the upgrade went horrifically wrong, the new drive would be removed, the old drive swapped in, and the computer would be back to square one — running that s-l-o-w a-s m-o-l-a-s-s-e-s Vista.
After cloning the old drive with the software that came with the new one, I began the in-place upgrade. Right away, the installer insisted that the computer be deauthorized for the iTunes store, and iTunes be uninstalled, before the upgrade could begin. A few minutes and one reboot later, the real upgrade finally began. Because of the amount of software it had to reconfigure, this process took a couple of hours and several restarts. If you are not at the computer to remove the installation DVD from the drive when it performs the first restart, it will attempt to start the upgrade over. If this happens, remove the DVD and restart the computer. At this point it will pick up where it left off.
When the upgrade was finished, the only thing that did not work was Norton Internet Security 2010 beta. After an uninstall and reinstall, Norton worked fine. When iTunes was reinstalled and the computer reauthorized for the iTunes store, we were back in business. iPod and Blackberry successfully synchronized, Outlook, Firefox, and Quicken all worked. After two days, the only thing that does not work properly is the access to the computer management console, which is how you get to the computer’s event logs, device manager, disc manager, etc. It is supposed to start up by right-clicking on My Computer, then scrolling down to manage. Since that does not work for me, I can get to it by typing compmgmt.msc in the search box. This is hardly a deal-breaker. Finally my Cadillac computer no longer feels like it has a Volkswagen engine in it!
If your computer does not have much installed on it, a clean install may be your best approach, and if it is experiencing any kind of problems or has ever been compromised by malware, a reformat (or new drive) and clean install is probably your only option. In this latter case, you probably should not even use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate your files and settings. Although it is more work to manually copy your files and start from scratch, you are much less likely to migrate your computer problems. Whatever you do, don’t neglect to have a backout plan!
Social networks provide wonderful opportunities to communicate with friends, colleagues, clients, etc., without regard for geographical, time, and physical constraints. What we frequently fail to realize, however, is that there should be absolutely no presumption of privacy of communication, regardless of your privacy settings. Assuming that there are no software vulnerabilities and no human error or misdeeds on the part of those maintaining these social networks, an incredible stretch in and of itself, all it takes is one person to re-tweet or post on their own wall to open your “private” communication to the entire world. Recently, a Chicago lady tweeted to her twenty-six Twitter “friends,” implying that her apartment was moldy. Within hours, this tweet became national news. This case exemplifies both the power and danger of social networking.
It bothers me not at all that people who don’t do their jobs post their slacking exploits on Twitter and Facebook. What does concern me, however, is that ordinary people may be telling the world a little more than they should. For example, a simple “I’m leaving for California tonight, and will be back in two weeks,” means just that to friends, but means “My house will be empty for two weeks,” to potential burglars. Young people boasting about wild parties may mean “I’m cool” to friends, but could mean “Don’t accept me to your college,” to an admissions officer, or “Don’t hire me,” to a potential employer.
Perhaps it would be appropriate to ask yourself, “Is there any reason not to share this with the entire world,” BEFORE posting. News, good or bad, travels around the world in the blink of an eye. As we all know, there is no “recall” button on information traveling around the internet.
A client had a serious problem with his email. He was sending multiple copies of every outgoing email via Outlook Express. If he sent you an email, seconds later, you would get another copy, then another, etc. I was able to observe that it was not a case of him clicking Send several times before the email actually went out. One may be inclined to think that the computer was infected with spamming malware, but that was not the case. When he clicked on Send, the email would go into the Outbox, get sent, but not move to the Sent Items folder, instead staying in the Outbox. Outlook Express would notice that there was email in the Outbox, send it, then attempt to move to Sent Items folder; since it failed at the move to Sent Items, it would keep it in the Outbox, and the process would start over, until we shut down Outlook Express. At that point I looked at Sent Items.dbx, which is the Outlook Express Sent Items folder, and observed that it was at the 2GB limit. Because the Sent Items folder was already “full,” no more outgoing email could be moved into it.
Since the Sent Items folder was no longer accessible, we had two simple choices: delete the folder, and lose copies of all sent email; or import his email into Mozilla Thunderbird, which has a 4GB limit on each folder. Since he wanted to retain and prune his send mail, he chose the Thunderbird option. After I set up Thunderbird for him, he was able to pretty quickly prune his sent items folder from 2GB to under 500MB. Now his email works much faster than it has in quite some time, thanks mostly to not having his email operating at or near its storage capacity.