Christmas Support times

Just thought I’d post up our support hours over the Christmas period,

We finish at 1pm on Christmas Eve and then open again for support on 29th-31st December from 9am –5pm. We are back to normal from the 4th January 2010.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all at Technology Management.

Liam

Windows 7 Update

So I blogged a few weeks ago about a customer that had decided to upgrade to Small Business Server 2008 and replace their PC’s with Laptops installed with Windows 7. So 3 weeks have gone by since the install so I thought I’d check how they were getting on with the new technology and what they thought of Windows 7.

Here’s a few of their comments.

“We are 100 % happy with the network for many reasons. Firstly windows 7 is a great leap forward for everyone in terms of ease of use and searching and it has certainly lived up to the hype!”
“Secondly we have configured the laptops to run with an extended monitor which enables us to view multiple applications at once.  I can’t explain how invaluable this has proved and it has justified my decision to go for laptops in lieu of the desktops”

“ I can’t stress enough what a difference it has made.  It was difficult to justify such a hardware spend in the current climate but i am so glad we made the right decision” 

I think this emphasises the impact Windows 7 can have on organisations of all sizes, Swift Roofing the customer involved picked up on the benefits of the improved searching, and as we generate so much more data this becomes critical. Finally it shows Microsoft have learnt from Vista and what people want is ease of use and useful features, looks like they have delivered!

Finding a meeting room in Outlook 2010

Outlook has evolved from being just an email application through to calendaring and contacts. Over the last couple of years we have seen the ability to book resources such as meeting rooms and equipment which is fast becoming a really appealing feature. Outlook 2010 is building on this again and I stumbled across one of these features today when trying to book a meeting. After inviting the attendees I went to book a room to host the meeting, and noticed I had a new feature called “room finder” This allows me to select the available rooms and Outlook shows the calendar with the various days colour coded, for Good, Fair or Poor availability. Once you select a date it gives the diary entries for day. This saves you having to jump around trying to find available dates. Only a small feature but really useful. This seems to work fine with Exchange Server 2007, not sure if its compatible with Exchange Server 2003. We are due to move to Exchange 2010 in the next few weeks so will see what else appears once the server is on the latest version as well.

room finder

Applications – 64 or 32 bit?

Last week I blogged about Microsoft releasing a beta version of Office 2010 for download. One of the new features is that there are both 32 bit and 64 bit versions available for download. Which should you use?

Well normally we would recommend 64bit versions, these allow access to more memory and are generally faster. Now even normal PC’s are commonly coming with 4Gb or more of memory and so having access to only 3Gb of that, which the 32bit operating systems are limited to, seems daft when there is no licence cost of going with the 64 bit versions.

image

Applications like Office are different however. Here at the moment there are significant issues with compatibility if you do go 64bit. I’ve tried over the past week and several add-in’s to Excel for install have stopped working. Even other Microsoft software like mobile device centre stopped being able to work correctly because it couldn’t talk to 64 bit Outlook correctly.

The only reason for going 64bit is you work with very large files, for instance Excel sheets over 2Gb. If you do, please give us a call because you shouldn’t be, 64bit or not, storing that much data in a spreadsheet is plain and simply wrong.

Another example is that if you use the 64bit version of Internet explorer, quite a few web sites do not work correctly. Why, well Adobe have not produced a 64 bit version of Flash yet, so any web site that uses this has bits missing.

You can install and use 32 bit apps on a 64bit OS and they run just fine in compatibility mode. So our advice is that while you definitely should install 64 bit operating systems and server applications (such as Exchange and SQL Server) because they use and often need the extra memory access, stick to 32bit for other applications for now.

Now where uninstall function….

Microsoft Office 2010 now on public beta

Microsoft’s next version of office, 2010 is available for everyone to download and test from today as part of it public beta test programme. As someone who first tried 2010 as part of the restricted Technical Preview since July I can vouch that its not just useable but has many great features that I now wouldn’t want to be without.

For me its finishes the changes that began in the 2007 version and this time they have spent time on the most used application in the suite, namely Outlook.

image

If you can download the beta at www.microsoft.com/2010  – they site also tells you what the new version does new.

One other thought, applications that are normally separate like Visio and Project are also available to try. Could be a good way of seeing if you really would use them without having to shell lots of money out first.

Find information faster: Organise your computer

If you’ve been using your computer for more than 6 months, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t need all the files and e-mail messages stored there. When left untreated too long, an unorganised computer will perform slower and make it more difficult for you to find the information you need. If that’s the case, it’s a great time to make sure your computer is cleaned up and ready to roll for your next upcoming project or assignment. This article can help you get started.

Clear out your old, unnecessary files

So how long should you keep old files on your hard drive? It’s kind of like cleaning out a closet – if you haven’t used a particular file (or sweater) in a year, you’re pretty safe storing it somewhere else.

How can you tell how old a file is? Rest your mouse cursor over the file to see when it was last modified. For more information right-click the file, and choose Properties. You can see when the file was created, last modified it, and most recently accessed. If a file is old, not important, and hasn’t been accessed in more than 6 months, it might be time to clear it out.

You’re the best judge to determine which files to keep, but here is a list of items you might want to consider saving:

  • Tax and legal information

  • Project-related files

  • Favourite digital images from the year

  • Plans you could leverage for future projects

  • Important e-mail messages

  • Customer information

    Image of the Properties dialog box for a file

    By looking at the properties of a file you can see when the file was created, last modified it, and most recently accessed.

Tip

Tip   To view your files in a folder by the date they were last modified, open a folder and on the View menu click Details. On the top of the column, click Date Modified.

Image of file folder with files organized by date

Quickly find old files by organizing them by the date they were modified.

Back up important files

The next step is to copy selected files to another storage medium, such as a writeable CD or DVD or an external hard drive. For your most important files, such as project files, key presentations, or large e-mails, you’ll rest a lot easier if you have a backup copy stored safely away from your computer. Backing up your files to CD or DVD will allow you to safely store these disks should you happen to lose your computer or if it should fail.

To back up your files it’s ideal to have a CD or DVD burner or a hard drive you can connect to your computer through a USB or FireWire port. Technology Management also offers an online backup service called DataGuardian.

Tip

Tip   If you’re backing up your information to a CD or DVD, be sure to create labels for your CDs that in some way describe their contents. For example, you might title the CD "2005 Archive" or be more specific with something like "2005 Presentations."

Clean out your e-mail

Do you have a system for weeding out and organising your old e-mail messages? Here are a few quick ideas for taming your Inbox and getting ready to handle those messages in the months to come:

  • Create folders to store messages according to sender, topic, or date.

  • Create e-mail rules to file and manage your messages automatically. For example, you can create a rule to send all messages from your manager to a special folder.

  • Go through your Sent folder in Outlook in and delete items you no longer need (especially those with large file attachments).

  • If you’re sure you no longer need e-mail you’ve deleted, empty the folder that contains it.

Organise and clear out your Internet files

If you’re like the average person, you’ve been doing a lot of Web searching and your Internet Explorer Favorites folder may be bursting at the seams. It could probably use some weeding out and organizing. To organize your Favorites in Internet Explorer, on the Favorites menu, click Organize Favorites.

While your tending to your Favorites folder there’s some additional clean up that’s easy to do. Start Internet Explorer and on the Tools menu click Internet Options. In the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box, you have two cleanup choices. These steps can help reduce some unnecessary files on your computer.

  1. In the Temporary Internet files section, click Delete Files to remove all temporary files. (You can also elect to remove all offline content downloaded from sites you’ve visited.)

  2. In the History section, click Clear History to remove the list of sites you’ve previously visited. Also make sure that you have the Days to keep pages in history: set to where you would like it.

    Internet options dialog box

    Clear out Internet Explorer using some of the options on the Internet Options dialog box.

Microsoft SharePoint Explained in Plain English

It’s one of Microsoft’s most successful products, yet many customers still don’t understand what Microsoft SharePoint can offer their business.

Trust me – it’s much much more than a glorified network drive. In fact, it’s the glue that brings together many of the Microsoft tools businesses are now using. But let me save my words and let this innovative video explain what’s it’s all about:

3 Stubborn PC Problems You Can Fix

Ever notice how each PC has a personality of its own? Or maybe even multiple personalities? In the course of a week, your computer may act friendly, moody, and sometimes downright mean.

However, don’t take a hammer to your PC just yet. The following is a list of common symptoms and treatments to help even the most troublesome PCs. You don’t even have to be a psychologist (at least not yet) to deal with your PC’s neuroses.

These solutions deal specifically with Windows XP, but overall you’ll find these tips work for all versions of Windows starting with Windows 95 to Windows XP. Windows Vista handles most of these problems automatically.

1. You keep getting a "your system is running low on virtual memory" message

Perhaps you’re more than familiar with this scenario: You’re working on your PC and notice performance getting gradually slower and slower. Programs become harder to open and close. You wait forever for Web pages to be displayed. And then, you get some serious-sounding "virtual memory is too low" message, like the one in the following graphic.

Don’t worry: This message isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Image of a virtual memory low dialog box

Viewing a virtual memory low message

Virtual memory is the space your computer uses when it’s short of RAM (Random Access Memory), which is the memory used when running programs like Microsoft Office Word or Microsoft Office PowerPoint.

So what can you do to correct this problem and prevent this message from coming up in the future? The following are some solutions to keep your computer from displaying the "virtual memory minimum is too low" message.

Solution #1: Bump up the virtual memory size on your computer

The first solution is to increase your computer’s virtual memory settings. To do so, you first need to determine how much RAM you currently have.

To increase the virtual memory on your Windows XP computer:

  1. On the Start menu, click My Computer, and then on the left side of the My Computer window, click View system information.

  2. Click the Advanced tab, and then in the Performance area, click Settings.

  3. Click the Advanced tab, and then in the Virtual memory area, click Change.

    Image showing the Performance Options dialog box

    Selecting the Advanced tab in the Performance Options dialog box

  4. Change the Initial Size (MB) and Maximum size (MB) text boxes to 1.5 times the RAM you have (in MB). For example, if you had 768 MB of RAM, you would enter 1152 MB RAM in both the Initial Size (MB) and Maximum Size (MB) text boxes.

    Image showing the Virtual Memory dialog box

    Accessing the Virtual Memory dialog box

  5. Click Set, and then, click OK. A message appears, stating that you will need to restart for the changes to take place. Click OK.

  6. Click OK two times.

  7. You will then be asked if you want to restart your computer. Click Yes or No depending on when you want the changes to take effect.

Solution #2: Add more RAM to your computer

If you keep getting that dreaded "Your system is running low on virtual memory" message—even after you increase your computer’s virtual memory—then you may need to buy more memory for your computer. To really work well:

  • Windows XP needs a minimum of 256 MB of RAM.

  • Windows Vista needs at least 512 MB of RAM to run, but for some applications (like gaming) 1 GB or more of RAM is recommended.

The more RAM you have, the better.

If you’re at work, contact your company’s IT administrator before updating the memory on your computer. They may have some memory available and can help you install it.

If you do need to purchase some more memory, stop by your local computer shop. You can probably buy memory from them, and they’ll probably install it for you. Or, you can buy memory online.

2. Your windows slide off the desktop—and you can’t grab them

We’re all familiar with moving program windows around the desktop. You can click-and-hold the window’s title bar to move it around. But what do you do when you accidentally move a window’s title bar off the desktop so you can’t grab it anymore? The window is stuck in that inconvenient position.

Solution: Use your keyboard to help move your window

The trick to moving these stubborn program windows is to use your keyboard.

To use your keyboard to move a window:

  1. Select the program window you’re trying to move, and then, press ALT+SPACEBAR on your keyboard. The program’s shortcut menu is displayed.

    Image of the control menu

    Accessing a window’s shortcut menu

  2. Click Move.

  3. Use your LEFT ARROW, RIGHT ARROW, UP ARROW, or DOWN ARROW keys to move the window so you can see its title bar on your screen.

  4. After you move the window where you want it, press ENTER.

3. Your taskbar has disappeared

The taskbar is that horizontal bar at the bottom or your computer screen that displays open programs on your desktop. The taskbar also contains the Start menu, which allows you to navigate to various programs installed on your computer. In many ways, it’s your command central.

Thus, there’s nothing more frustrating than going to start a program, only to find the taskbar gone. A computer without a taskbar will bring you to a grinding halt.

The good news is that the taskbar never disappears—it just hides. It may be hiding behind other open windows, or at the top or side of your screen. You can also (unintentionally) make the taskbar so thin that it seems invisible.

The following are possible reasons why your taskbar has vanished, as well as solutions to keep your taskbar from ever running away again.

Solution #1: Find your taskbar behind other windows

  • If you don’t see your taskbar, minimize all windows on your desktop. See if your taskbar is hiding behind your open windows.

    Image of maximized and minimized windows, revealing the taskbar

    Finding your taskbar behind maximized windows

  • To set your taskbar so it’s always on top of all desktop windows:

    1. Right-click the taskbar, and click Properties.

    2. Select the Lock the taskbar check box.

    3. Select the Keep the taskbar on top of other windows check box.

Image of Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box

Locking and keeping your taskbar on top of other windows

Now your taskbar will always be visible, no matter how many windows you have open. Locking your taskbar also keeps you from accidentally moving it around.

Solution #2: Find your taskbar elsewhere on your screen

If you have tried minimizing all windows on your desktop and you still don’t see your taskbar—perhaps it has been moved. Maybe you’ve moved it yourself by accident. Or, perhaps someone’s playing a practical joke on you. Regardless, the following will help you get your taskbar back to its proper size.

  1. As you did in the previous steps, minimize all windows on your desktop. If you don’t see your taskbar at the bottom of the screen, perhaps it’s hanging out to the side or top of your desktop.

    Image of an arrow pointing to a left, vertical taskbar

    Finding a hiding taskbar on your desktop

  2. Click-and-drag your taskbar back to the bottom of your screen.

  3. Right-click the taskbar, and then click Properties.

  4. Click to select the following:

    • The Lock the taskbar check box

    • The Keep the taskbar on top of other windows check box

Solution #3: Thicken up your taskbar

You can make your taskbar a thin line—so skinny it’s hard to see. To see if you’ve done this unintentionally, perform the following:

  1. Minimize all windows on your desktop. Look at each side of your screen. If you see a thin strip, that’s the taskbar.

    Image of an arrow pointing to a thin strip taskbar at the top of the screen

    Finding a taskbar that’s become a thin strip

  2. Point your mouse at the strip. It changes into a double-sided arrow.

  3. Click-and-drag the mouse toward the center of the screen to thicken your taskbar.

  4. After you thicken the taskbar, you can drag it back to the bottom of the screen by following the steps in "Solution #2" above.

Where to find more help

This article covers three common PC problems. But if you’re still unable to find the solution to your particular PC problems, check out the Microsoft support page. There, you’ll find various self-support and assisted support solutions. You’ll find answers to cure even the most disturbed computer.

7 Tips to Manage Your Files Better

You work with documents, presentations, graphics, and other files all day—and chances are, you have a lot of them. And that means it takes time to find the documents you need. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes here, and a couple of minutes there, it all adds up.

But there is a better way to stop the file clutter—by managing your files more effectively. Digital files are no different than paper files, and if you don’t have a good method of organisation, things get lost.

Whether you save your files on your computer’s hard drive or a shared network location, these tips will help you save the time and headache of searching for files. And if you haven’t already familiarised yourself with the search features in Windows Vista, this is the perfect time to learn more.

7 tips for managing your files

Use these tips to help manage your files.

  1. Use Documents. For many reasons, it’s smart to take advantage of the Documents feature (called My Documents in Windows XP and earlier versions) in Microsoft Windows. To open Documents in Windows, click Start, and then click Documents. Documents provides an easy way for you to store your personal documents.

    By using Documents, you will be better able to:

    • Find files. Windows provides easy access to the Documents folder (and its subfolders) in many places: through the Start menu, the task pane in Windows Explorer, common File Open and File Save dialog boxes, and other places.

    • Back up files. You should back up files regularly—and keeping all your files in one place helps make backup a snap.

    • Keep files separate from programs. By separating document files and program files you reduce the risk of accidentally deleting your documents when you install or upgrade programs.

  2. Adopt consistent methods for file and folder naming. Develop a naming scheme for the kinds of files you create most often and then stick to it.

  3. Keep names short. Even though Windows allows you to use long file names, it does not necessarily mean you should. Long file names are harder to read.

    Let your folder structure do some of the naming. For example, rather than create a file called Great American Novel Chapter One First Effort.doc, you can build a structure like:

    Image of a folder tree.

  4. Separate ongoing and completed work. To keep the Documents folder from becoming too unwieldy, use it only for files you’re actively working on. As a result, you can reduce the number of files you need to search through and the amount of data you need to back up. Every month or so, move the files you’re no longer working on to a different folder or location, such as a folder on your desktop, a special Archive folder, flash drive, external hard drive, or even on a CD.

  5. Store like with like. Restricting folders to a single document type (or predominantly one type) allows you to take advantage of folder templates in Windows Explorer. This makes it easier for you to find files. For example, with all your graphics in a single folder, it’s easy to use the Filmstrip view and slide show feature in Windows Explorer to find the right picture for your newsletter.

  6. Avoid big folder structures. If you need to put so many subfolders in a folder that you can’t see all of them at a glance, consider creating an alphabetic menu.

  7. Use shortcuts and shortcut links instead of multiple copies. If you need to get to the same file from multiple locations, don’t create copies of the file. Create shortcuts to it instead. To create a shortcut, right-click on the file and click Create Shortcut. You can drop and drag the shortcut to other locations.