Killing Microsoft System Configuration Utility (msconfig)

MSConfig
Image via Wikipedia

As I was fixing a computer lately, I was reminded of how other IT folks just love disabling msconfig in windows.

msconfig is a simple utility on our Windows OS that takes care of the startup process, available on Windows Xp and Vista (just type msconfig on run command bar in Xp or at Start Search box at the orb on Windows Vista). It’s part of Windows installation, no need to download or install it.

The power of msconfig lies on its capability to aid us in troubleshooting start-up issues and allow us to handle what applications should run and should not at boot time.

msconfig screenshot
Image by reyescarl via Flickr

The general tab (msconfig in Vista) gives us three options:

1. Normal Startup – all drivers and services are loaded, microsoft services and third-party services. This is the default.

2. Diagnostic Startup – load basic devices, drivers and services only. usually, those that are only needed to fire up your PC. Used when troubleshooting start-up issues.

3. Selective Startup – more specific choices what to load on boot up, you can load system services only, startup items only (those that you allow from the startup tab on msconfig), original boot configuration only, or all of three. also used when troubleshooting issues on boot up.

At this point, you might be starting to wonder, and may be asking, what about msconfig? why the hell should I care?

For one, there are lots of IT guys out there who love to disable this permanently as part of their fix. That is want I rant about. Some people love to disable msconfig to make the system run and feel faster, but that is thwarted, that is faking. When our OS lags, this might be a result of many reasons. One could be lack of resources, i.e. memory, disk space, processor, etc. Second reason could be you overstuffed your system with applications some of it you don’t even use. Why fake speed by disabling msconfig, just to let people believe the system is running faster.

Over the years of my IT experience, I had a lot about this scenario, end-users complaining because their software or Operating Systems are not running as it should only to find out that the technician they hired disabled msconfig. How amateur that is.

My opinion is, if you do want your OS to run smooth, pack in more hardware resources, increase the memory, if you have 512mb why not get 2gb, why not upgrade the processor? or the buy a faster running hard drive. or remove the softwares that you don’t use, I bet in every PC, there will be one or two softwares installed that are not in use.

The honest me tells that msconfig has many things to do and disabling it would cause more problems than solutions. In fact, it’s not a sound solution at all. I might accept the idea if you are troubleshooting or isolating startup problem, but you have to return it to its Normal state afterwards. Don’t disable it forever. If softwares are getting in the way during boot ups remove it or at least google your way to find a solution for the problem. Check for updates, find permanent solutions rather than kill msconfig. I am sure we can do better than killing the little app and consider the issue fixed. No. Unacceptable.

Want to figure out msconfig? check here.

Ciao!

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Windows 7 reaches Release to Manufacturer (RTM) status

Information coming from windowsteamblog.com, a site that  takes forever to load on my browser, has it that Windows 7 (Microsoft’s newest OS) has reached the release to manufacturing status. That said, this would mean that Windows 7 (build 7600) is close to reaching the shelves where it is expected to sell on the 22nd of October this year.

I don’t know if I can consider myself lucky for the chance to test drive Windows 7. The humble me tells that there is little to be excited about Windows 7 (that is my own opinion). I don’t find it revolutionary. I don’t also expect myself to rip off my Ubuntu Jaunty just for Windows 7. Besides Ubuntu is free. Pity the poor IT guy. Thanks Ubuntu for giving me the desktop version via download and for shipping me a copy of the Server Edition for free. And… thank you so much for continuously updating my Ubuntu without asking me a dime.

For a quick look on Windows 7 features check here. You have my word, this one loads faster than the windows team blog which takes 7 years to load on Firefox, haven’t tried Internet Explorer 8 though.

Many are calling Windows 7 as the real Service Pack of Vista, I seem to agree on this. Really, it does feel like you are on Vista when you are inside Windows 7. It had taken me long before I switched to Vista. I hanged on to old Windows XP for quite a long time. I was so pissed off with Vista before but with the release of Service Packs 1 and 2, I finally used it. That is where Microsoft is good, Service Packs. It’s has been always their natural trend. They release an OS that is buggy at first then they follow-up with Service Packs until it becomes stable. I assume the curve will be the same, hardware and third-party software vendors will catch up a bit later than Seven’s release, so if you buy the new OS immediately chances are some of your PC‘s hardware and your favorite software are not yet supported. The better way, if you want Seven like falling for your high school or college crush is to wait for it  to mature a little, that way you two can get together well. So, be patient and wait.

I am not a hater of Windows, not a lover either. As a matter of fact, it is the platform that I am using now while writing this article. I expect new PCs will ship with Seven, more so with Notebooks and signature desktops, some people are saying (mostly Microsoft folks) that Seven is also good for touch capable/enabled devices and netbooks. This, by the way, was the thing Vista was never able to make, penetrate the netbook class computer. Well, let us see, I have not tried Seven on a netbook but I am equally excited as you are to see Seven doing well on a netbook.

For my closure, I would like to quote  a portion of the announcement:

Of course, today’s release is also the result of the amazing amount of feedback we received from the millions of people who tested Windows 7 – from Beta to RC. We actually had over 10 million people opt-in to the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). That’s a lot of people opting in to help us make Windows 7 a solid release. Through CEIP, our engineers were guided by customer feedback all the way to RTM. We also have had a great group of beta testers who have dedicated a great deal of their time to testing Windows 7 too. A special thank you goes out to all the people who helped test Windows 7.

My response is, Duh?

Thanks.

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Mdigger Reader

Really, REALLY BIG RSS feed button

If you are hooked to online content such as rss feeds, texts, images and podcasts then Mdigger is for you. This free service that lets you download and feast your eyes on reading the latest content of your choice. I personally use this app on my Facebook account (thru their facebook app), on my PC and on my phone. Instead of visiting my favorite sites one after another what I do is check if they have RSS options and add it to my collection at Mdigger’s website. All the information I need from sites like Lifehacker.com, Webupon.com, Gizmodo.com and Makeuseof.com can all be found on one single RSS reader wherever I am, in and out of office both on phone and my notebook. Mdigger has a huge catalog of mclips (selection of information and online content) to choose from. If there is a site that’s not on their list just log on to your Mdigger account and simply add it to your own set of RSS feeds and Mdigger will take care of the rest, just make sure that the site you want to add supports RSS.

To avail the free service, registration at Mdigger is required (no strings attached). What you get is an account, allowed to add up to 30 RSS Feeds (can be increased though, by requesting for more). Fair enough, I think. At the moment their client app supports Windows (Vista/Xp) and Mac. On mobiles, iPhones are supported natively requiring only your browser while with Windows Mobile, you can get the client also from their downloads page. Alternatively, its also available at the download links page on this blog.

Test drive the app on your PC or Mobile. It’s one little software that I really find indispensable. For more info on RSS, here is my gift – RSS on Wikipedia.

Thanks.

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Boot loaders and EasyBCD v1.7.2

Tweaking boot loaders on our PCs is a real rare venture, really. Tinkering your boot loader is not a good idea, unless, however required you don’t have to do it. What I am after here is merely informational and to flash before you some ideas that we can use when confronted with unexpected events such as managing boot loaders. As always, I recommend twiddling PCs be done by those who know what they are doing (experts in computers, of course, not Love Gurus) and if you are planning to do the twiddling, then this would mean that you should start learning and become an expert yourself — with the twiddling or fiddling thing. As a descendant of the old-fashioned IT guys that came from Cybertron, I am a firm believer of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” idea. Just a little caveat there.

Touching the boot loader is not like installing Winrar or Winzip. The boot  loader is in charge of loading your operating system and at that it is very much critical to the operation of your PC. Before our favorite OSs can be loaded, it is the bootloader that does its job first so the OS can step in. Boot loaders are sometimes referred to as boot strap loader or bootstrap. This small program is most of the time unheard, meek and silent despite its huge importance. There are a lot of boot loaders that are on our PCs today.  There is GNU GRUB (i.e. Ubuntu), BOOTMGR, LILO and NTLDR (i.e. Windows Xp/Server 2003). If you have a dual-boot system (like Ubuntu and Windows Vista together) you will see the boot loader in action when you start-up your computer. Usually, when you arrive at the screen where options on what OS to load, Ubuntu or Vista  for example, are posted. You can expect boot loader tweaking if you are dual-booting, making some OS tests or debugging your OS kernel.

So why we need EasyBCD and what is it for? Allow me to show you why and for what.

Reason 1:  Just the simple task of displaying the content of your boot loader.

Reason 2: If you want to change your boot settings.

Reason 3: Add/Remove entries from your existing boot loader.

Reason 4:  Manage your boot loader with user selectable options.

Reason 5: In-buit boot loader diagnostics and boot loader recovery.

Reason 6: GUI-drivenboot loader management (Microsoft only provides the command-line bcdedit.exe tool only for bootloader management)

I have used EasyBCD on rare occasions, usually when I turn a little crazy and mess much around on my dual-boot PC configuration. Honestly, I was contented with what the software have allowed me see and do. I use a dual-boot WindowsVista Business and Ubuntu Jaunty on my Intel Centrino Vpro notebook. They seem to go together well. I am just starting to use Linux, a friend of mine tossed the idea to me. When I miss my next, next, finish life in Windows, I just switch right back. That is the beauty of dual-booting, like having two wives, one being virus-free but harder to handle, while other one beautiful and nice but faints in blue most of the time, bug-ridden and loves viruses more than me.

Try to read more on boot loaders, Wikipedia is one hot resource, actually you can go directly here.

EasyBCD comes from NeoSmart Technologies, they have been quite around for sometime and has been offering the software for free. I have added a download link of EasyBCD at the download page, if you want to try it, but please, be extra careful.

Thanks for reading. Your comments are most welcome.

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VLC Media Player 1.0.0 released!

VLC media player
Image via Wikipedia

The venerable VLC Media Player finally reaches version 1.0.0.  VideoLAN is a free and open source multimedia player capable to crunch almost any media type, at the cost of nothing. It is a totally free software. The new version is also capable of acting as a server to stream media in unicast and multicast IPv4 and Ipv6 high-speed/hi-bandwith networks.

Its features, really, is a long list. Most notable among which is its wide support for video/audio formats and can also double as a media converter. The application also supports a lot of operating systems, from Windows, Linux, BeOS and a lot more. If you are looking for a multimedia player that can do many stunts, sure VLC is for you. Playing your CDs, DVDs and other media will be a breeze with VLC so grab your copy at their website after all it’s free. Just the way we like it.

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Snarl – Cool Notification System

Want a cool way of getting notified on important events in your computer? Check Snarl.

For some of us who tend to have a lot of things to care about while computing getting a visual notification is way cool. I have first experienced the sweetness of it when I installed Ubuntu 9.04 which comes with a notification system by default. Unfortunately, Windows does not have an application like it, natively. It’s one feature of Ubuntu that I really miss when I switch back to Windows.

After some searching I have found, Snarl. It is really a cool app and sort of, fills the void for the notification of events in Windows. The application sits right on your taskbar and constantly posts notifications. If you want to be notified on events in applications such as Pidgin, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc. just download their respective plug-ins from Snarl’s website and you are ready to go. You might need to do some tinkering on the software for it not to be too obtrusive. I am sure, you don’t want to get all notifications, but only the important ones.

I highly recommend it. It’s free and lean software available at http://www.fullphat.net.

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Firefox 3.5 glitch, slow at start-up.

Mozilla Firefox
Image via Wikipedia

If you installed the latest Firefox 3.5, you’ll notice that it’s consistently slow at start-up taking at least 10-15 seconds. I have looked for some solutions but I think I only have found what we call a  temporary fix. This issue has already been addressed by the Firefox team. As for myself, I have just reverted back to 3.11 both in Windows Vista and Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. I don’t want any of the hassle.

If you want to sneak into the current discussion about this issue, have a look at this link.

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