Posts Tagged ‘Windows 7’

I own two 500-Gig Western Digital Elements SE, and while I’m happy on their performance, there’s one problem that I’ve only recently found the solution for. By recently, I mean just now.

The issue I’ve been dealing with is I can’t use both at the same time. I know neither is broken because I can use them one at a time with no problem. But whenever I plug them both in, only the first one is accessible in the file system. The other is still registered as an external drive; I know because it appears in the list for the “Safely Remove…” icon. Somehow, Windows just refuses to mount it.

If I check in Disk Management, both drives are listed. Except the second displays “Offline” on its info panel. Hovering over that detail will display the text “The disk is offline because it has a signature collision with another disk that is online.” There’s our clue right there.

I’ve googled for solutions, and found some methods a bit too arcane. I figured there must be a simple solution.

And there is. Turns out I’m only missing a few steps on the Disk Management screen.

The steps:

1. Launch Disk Management. (You need admin rights. But you know that already, right?)

2. Locate the second drive, the one that says “Offline.”

3. Right-click the words “Offline” and click “Online.”

Simple and effective. I initially missed that simple method because the “Online” menu item looks disabled. But don’t be fooled by its appearance; it’s entirely clickable.

How to set a program to always run as administrator in Windows 7:

Right-click on the target program’s shortcut icon. For programs pinned to the taskbar, you’ll have to right-click on the icon, and then do another right-click on the program’s name, the one just above the “Unpin this program from taskbar” menu item at the bottom.

Choose Properties.

The Properties dialog appears, with the Shortcut tab in focus. Click on the “Advanced…” button.

Another dialog box will appear. Just tick the box for “Run as administrator,” click OK twice, and you’re ready to go.


You can also use the Compatibility tab to accomplish this. On the same Properties dialog, switch to the Compatibility tab, and put a tick on “Run this program as an administrator” under the “Privilege Level.” Click OK and you’re all set.

You’ll still be prompted with the UAC if you have it enabled, and you should. Finally, only do this if you trust the program.


How to set Google Chrome to always give you search results in English:

Google Chrome is a fast browser. Of all the browsers currently available for the Windows platform, nothing can touch Chrome’s speed. But it gets a little long in the tooth when you put in search words in the omnibox and Google insists they know better than you and serve up results in your very own language.

You can always go to but typing in the search engine’s address to go there sort of defeats the objective for the omnibox in the first place.

Instead, you can go directly to your browser’s search engines settings. Open up the Options page by clicking on the  wrench icon on the upper right, then click Options. Go to Basics, then scroll down to Search section. Click on the button that says “Manage search engines…”


Add a new entry under “Other search engines.” You can use any description for the first field; use for the second; and finally, and this is important, use for the third field. Press enter to add the entry. Now hover your mouse to your newly-created entry and you’ll see the words “Make default” at the far right. Click on it to make it official.


All modern operating systems come with their own file manager. Linux has Gnome, KDE and a few others, while users of Windows have been using Windows Explorer since Windows 95. Windows Explorer, not to be confused with Internet Explorer, replaced the clunky Program Manager from the Windows 3.x era.

Windows ExplorerSo why do we need a file manager, you ask? A file manager, or file browser, provides a convenient user interface for working with the operating system’s underlying file system. Put simply, it provides users access to files, allowing them to easily create, open, edit, view, print, play, move, copy, delete, rename, search, and change their properties. These operations can be done through a command-line interface, too, but that would entail memorizing the proper commands and switches.

Windows-iconWhen Windows Vista was introduced, Microsoft changed a lot of stuff. While the underlying functionalities are the same, the visual aspect of Windows Explorer has undergone a drastic change. This sparked up a lot of debate as to whether the change is made just for change’s sake. Because a lot of users have been used to how Windows XP worked, this created problems. But mostly though, the problems arose because people found the changes intimidating, or at the very least, annoying.

On Windows 7’s release a few more changes saw their way on Windows Explorer. The UI leveraged the clean and sleek design started with Vista. Some elements were moved around, causing yet another backlash from the user base.

Adding to this, a design bug also apparently made its way to Windows Explorer.

BugWhen you navigate through the folders on the left pane of Windows Explorer in Windows 7, the issue presents itself. When you expand your folder list on the left pane, and you double-click on a folder that happens to contain a subfolder to open it, the pane refreshes and then moves your selected folder to the bottom of the folder tree. It’s very distracting and, after awhile, downright annoying. I opened the Folder and Search Options trying to find a way to correct this behavior, but there doesn’t seem to be a setting that will correct the erratic behavior.

Out of exasperation, I turned to Google for answers. I found links to Microsoft’s own TechNet forums. This issue appears to have been reported as early as the public beta of Windows 7. It appears, though, that this behavior is by design. I’ll never know what the folks in charge of this feature were thinking, but whatever their basis for it is, in the words of Patrick Starfish, “Well, it may be stupid, but it’s also dumb!”


Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) has already been released, and as I already downloaded the update, I can confirm that this issue hasn’t been resolved yet.

What can we do then?

ClassicShell48A workaround I found useful involves a third party program call Classic Shell. It’s freeware, and the latest release version is 3.0.0, updated only this March 3rd. It’s not a replacement for Windows Explorer, but rather, think of it as an extension.

When the package is installed, you’ll not only be able to mitigate this counter-productive behavior, but you’ll also get additional nifty features such as reverting to XP-style Windows Explorer, or adding the Up One Level button on the Navigation Bar, to name just a few. It will also revert your Start Menu to the XP theme, but if you are happy with Windows 7’s style like I am, you can fire up the accompanying Start Menu Settings to return things to the way they were.

Chess Titans Bug

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Technoloy
Tags: , ,

Chess is a wonderful game to sharpen the wits. Windows 7, like Vista, has a version called Chess Titans. If you’re looking to knock out some time, the game will keep you busy with 10 levels of difficulty.

The downside, though, is that the game gobbles up memory and if your laptop’s not that big on graphics, you may find Windows grind down to a crawl. On my Acer notebook, it eats up more than 100 MB of memory even with all the whistles and bells turned off.

And then, there’s this display bug:


I’m not sure if it’s universal, but on my machine, this happens with Chess Titans maximized and a notification message appears.

It’s almost funny, if it weren’t so d**n annoying.

Windows 7 is a wonderful OS, leagues away from Vista and XP in terms of usability and performance.

It is not uncommon for Windows users to customize their machines – adding a background picture, changing the theme, setting a screensaver of their choice. But if you really were to own your laptop or desktop PC, shouldn’t you be able to change the background on that logon screen as well?

Fortunately, you can. With a few registry tweaks and a little image editing, you can set an image of your choice to appear as the default background when you start your Windows 7 machine.

Unlike the previous Windows OSs, Microsoft built the ability to change the Logon screen wallpaper directly into Windows 7. This makes it easy for OEMs to brand the machines they ship. Since there’s no need for a third-party program to make the change, end users can benefit from this as well.

As with anything involving the registry, be sure you know what you’re doing before proceeding. Create a backup of your registry as a precaution. If you’re comfortable with using the Windows Registry Editor, read on.

We begin by editing a registry entry.

To open the registry editor, click the orb or press the Windows + R key combination to open the Run dialog box, type in regedit, and hit Enter. The User Account Control will kick in. Click Yes to proceed.

Next, navigate your way to the following registry key:


Or just do a search for “OEMBackground” (sans quotes) by right-clicking on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and then clicking Find…


Double-click on OEMBackground on the right pane and change the DWord value from 0 to 1. This change will make Windows use a special image file as the Logon Screen Wallpaper instead of the default one. Click OK to close the Edit DWORD dialog box.


Close Registry Editor.

That is the first half of the operation. Next comes the fun part.

Launch Windows Explorer. Navigate to the “C:\Windows\System32\oobe” folder. Create a folder named “info” inside …\oobe. Click “Continue” on the confirmation dialog box if prompted. Next, we’ll need to create a new folder inside our “info” folder. Go ahead and open the “info” folder. Then, create another folder named “backgrounds” in it. As before, a confirmation dialog box will appear. Again, click on the “Continue” button to proceed.

Finally, we’ll be adding the image of our choice. There’s a few things to remember for this to work. One, the image should be in JPEG format (with an extension of .jpg) and its size should be no bigger than 256 KB. If the file is bigger than 256 KB, try loading the picture in Paint. Choose File>Save as… and select JPEG picture as the output format. You also need to name the image “backgroundDefault.jpg” and its dimensions should be the same as your current resolution. Choosing smaller dimensions may stretch the image and make it appear distorted.

You may not be able to save directly to your ..\oobe\info\backgrounds folder from Paint. Windows 7 doesn’t allow arbitrary programs to write to system folders as a way to keep its integrity. Just save the image first on any folder and then manually move or copy it to the …\background folder you created. You will encounter a similar confirmation dialog box as before.


You can try logging out or locking your computer to see the change take effect.

The buttons and text that identify your account had shadows that gave them the 3D-like look. You can achieve the same effect by adding a new registry value. This particular registry key will control how the shadows of the login screen elements will appear, from Dark to Light to None at all.

Fire up RegEdit once more and navigate to this key:


On the right pane, create a new DWord value, name it “ButtonSet” and assign any of the following for its value data.

0 Light Shadow
1 Dark Shadow
2 No Shadow