Saturday, October 31, 2009


Dear viewers of the blog,

As promised on my post of October 26, I'm going to report to you how I managed to do my conversion to Windows 7 from Windows Vista on the first of my two computers.

For this first conversion, (which I expected with reason, to be the most troublesome), I decided to do it in my laptop computer.The reason for this choice was rational: taking into consideration that a few hours are needed to do the conversion, I had a little more flexibility, could move around and take the computer with me from my office to downstairs etc.etc.

I ran into some frustrating moments, but it was all my fault, not being patient enough and trying to do things too fast...

I learned a lesson, therefore when I do the other conversion in my PC things will be a lot easier and faster.

Let's now look at what I did and what I recommend you all should do when you decide to convert to Windows 7:

I am addressing those of you who have Windows Vista in your computers. For those who still have Windows XP, the procedures are different and more complex, therefore I will address this matter on Part II, which I intend to post later this week.

Before you attempt to start your conversion, you must run the Microsoft short program "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Report". You can download it from Microsoft at the following address:

(Copy and paste the above to your browser).

Once you run the program in your computer, it will generate a report which will verify compatability of your hardware and software installed in your computer. The good news is that if you have windows Vista running well in your computer, odds are that most of what you have is compatible.

However, there are some programs that may not be compatible, for which you will have to download new drivers available on the Web, or in some cases, you'll have to uninstall some programs which will interfere with the conversion operation. These programs can then be re-installed after the conversion.

In my case, as an example, the report advised that I had to uninstall the "ATI Catalyst Install Manager", "Catalyst Control Center", "Best Buy Digital Music Store" and "My HP Games". It also showed a complete list of all the programs installed in my computer that were compatible with the conversion and those that would need new drivers once the conversion was completed.

Believe me my friends, you must follow strictly what the report tells you, or you risk nor being able to do the conversion right and create annoying problems difficult to solve, other than starting from scratch all over again.

I was in a hurry to do the conversion, followed the report directions, uninstalled the programs indicated, but missed one, (Catalyst Control Center), because I got confused,when I had already uninstalled the ATI Catalyst Install Manager.

This was a costly mistake, because after the conversion was finished, nothing worked right and I kept receiving strange messages like "Windows cannot verify compatability etc. etc.

To make a long story short, I had to return my computer to new factory installed software,(Windows Vista), using the recovery disks I had prepared when I started the computer for the first time after I had purchased it. In doing so I wiped out all the software installed in the past 5 months. ( I had all the software disks so I did not lose the programs, but had to re-install all of them after the conversion which took the better part of 5 hours!)

I am telling you this long story because I want you to make sure not to do the same mistake. (If I had uninstalled that program as directed, all the software in the computer would have been transferred during the conversion without any problems!).

Any way, on my second attempt all went well. Here is how it was done:

Make sure you are connected to the Internet and start your computer to Windows Vista, as you do normally. Once it is running, insert the Windows 7 Upgrade DVD in the optical drive; set up will launch automatically.

In case it does not start automatically, click the "Start" button on your keyboard, click "Computer" or "My Computer", open the Windows 7 installation disk on your DVD drive and double click "setup.exe".

The installation wizard opens and early on will ask whether you want to check for compatability online; (this would bring you to the Web page for the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, but since you already have done this thanks to my advice), ignore this. It will also ask you to check for updates on line; click "yes"; after a few seconds the updates if any are done; at this point go ahead and click "Install now" and follow the instructions.

In the next step you'll have to agree to the "End-User Licensing Agreement" after which the Wizard gives you two choices: "Upgrade" or "Custom" (clean) install. Since you are upgrading from Windows Vista, the choice is obvious, you should select "Upgrade".

If you have more than one partition on your hard drive, the Wizard may ask you which partition you want to use. Select of course the partition where windows Vista is installed, (in most cases C:/ drive).

You may now get a warning that you are going to lose your existing version of Windows Vista and tell you that the files will be moved to a new folder called C:/Windows.old.

After that the installation box comes up and shows you a list of automated tasks that will follow such as "copying Windows files, expanding files", etc. etc.

At this time you will have nothing more to do but wait; and depending on how fast and how much memory you have in your computer, it may take two to three hours for the conversion to take place. Go have dinner, read a book, whatever and check the computer after a while.

When it is all done you'll see a window in the Wizard asking for the "Product Key" and whether you want the program to be activated on line. (The Product Key is shown on the left side of the plastic box where the conversion disk is enclosed and is composed of 5 groups of 5 letter/number combinations).

I entered the Product Key and checked the box for activation on line. After that click next. Another page opens, (titled "Help Protect Your Computer and Improve Windows Automatically"). 3 options are available, the best is in my opinion "Install Important Updates Only"; I selected that one, but it is up to you.

After this the Wizard has completed its function, your computer will reboot and Hurray!!! will return with the full new version of Windows 7.

It is time now to re-install the programs that you had to uninstall before the conversion, (if any), and download drivers for certain programs, (if needed). I assume that by now you are a little tired, so you can do it in good time the next day...

For today this will be all, I am going a little long on this post, but I hope all this stuff will be of help to you all.

On my next post I will talk about the good things I found on this new version of Windows as well as the few I did not like, but let me tell you, I like this new version a LOT.

Have fun and let me know if you enjoyed the above.

George Freire

Monday, October 26, 2009


As I mentioned in my post of October 21st, Windows 7 was launched the following day, October 22nd.

I will receive my copies of the program, (two, one for each computer), as communicated to me by Microsoft Corporation, no later than Wednesday this week.

These are upgrade versions, which I can directly install using the running Windows Vista in my computers. According to what I have been investigating, this is not  very hard or difficult, however, some of the published articles on this matter, call for careful handling of this operation.

I will let you all know how easy or difficult it is. In a few days I will post a full report on how I did this, as well as description of the best features, (there are quite a few), that this new and hopefully greatly improved version of Windows performs.

I assume that some of you will also be  planning to convert to Windows 7. Do not hesitate to contact me if you need help. That's the whole purpose of this blog.

George Freire

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The following is a review, (concerning the launching of Windows 7 due tomorrow October 22nd, 2009), by Mr. David Goldman, a CNNMoney staff writer.
I am sure this review will be of great interest to you viewers who are planning to switch to the new OS Microsoft Corporation is presenting us with:

"Experts say Microsoft's new Windows 7, which debuts Oct. 22, will likely prompt computer users to make
their first upgrade in eight years.

By David Goldman, staff writer

October 21, 2009: 11:18 AM ET

NEW YORK ( -- Microsoft is banking on Windows 7 to breathe new life into a PC world where most computer users are running XP -- an operating system that was released in the early days of the Bush administration.

Experts expect that PC users will change their operating system for the first time in about eight years when Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) launches Windows 7 on Oct. 22.

Microsoft's last operating system, Windows Vista, was a disaster when it was released in 2007. Vista was plagued by bugs, software incompatibilities, sluggishness and annoying security alerts. The episode nearly destroyed the tech giant's reputation with consumers.

"The stakes for Microsoft are astronomically high after the Vista debacle," said Scott Anthony, managing director of Innosight Ventures, a venture capital and consulting firm. "There is a lot of hunger for computing power around the world, and this release will be a real test for Microsoft."

Positive reviews for Windows 7 have been pouring in. Computer experts say that Windows 7 is good -- if not perfect -- and has a shot at eventually usurping XP as the world's most prevalent operating system.

Right now 71.5% of PCs are still running XP, according to OS market share tracker, while 18.6% of PCs are running Windows Vista.

"There was lots of negativity around Vista, and Microsoft lost a lot of goodwill with its customers," said Ken Allen, a portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price who manages a tech fund that includes Microsoft as one of its holdings.

Microsoft has aggressively been rolling out products and services (think Bing and Zune HD) to boost its sales, which have declined in the previous two quarters. Its third quarter ended March 31 marked the first time sales fell in Microsoft's 23-year history as a public company.

"The 'bad will' that Microsoft engendered could be reversed if Windows 7 is well received," said Allen.

It appears Microsoft is on the right road. Demand for new computers is starting to heat up again, and many users are looking for an operating system upgrade. Windows 7's release coincides with holiday season shopping. With the economy showing signs of recovery, consumers may be more willing to loosen their purse strings. "

Interesting isn't it?

About two months ago I ordered and pre-paid  copies of Windows 7 for my 2 computers, (which are running Windows Vista at the present time). In the process I saved a lot of money, paying only $49.00 per copy.  I surely hope that what Mr. Goldman predicts, will come true.

I am not one of those people, (there are many, many of them), who hate Windows Vista. I have had many  moments of frustation, however, I have learned how to live with Vista and how to overcome many of its irritating problems.

I published several posts in this blog addressing Windows 7 problems and how to overcome them, but frankly, I can't wait until  I install the new Windows version.

For those who still use Windows XP, (which in many aspects is a better product than Windows Vista), be aware that the rumor is that Microsoft will completely drop any security upgrades and support, within one year for this OS.

I am sorry they are going to do this. My wife's computer runs on Windows XP; it is faster than mine and does not give me any irritating problems...

Let me know how many of you will be changing to Windows 7.

Good Luck,

George Freire

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today I was going to publish another of my weekly posts, when a friend suggested, "why don't you go back and read all the posts so far published and select some  to be republished, that  you consider the best, (as far as  helping computer users is concerned) ?

I gave it a thought; the first thing that came to mind was the fact that most probably, a majority of the viewers, (with the exception of those who have been reading the blog from the very start), did not have the opportunity of checking all the posts published.

This is only natural, because there have been 77 posts published, but going back and checking everyone of them, is by human nature, a pain in the a..

Therefore, I have gone back and did that for all of you viewers. I made a selection of a few that I hope will be of  help to you all. For this week I selected the following:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reinstall and Restore Your Windows PC

PC WORLD is one of the greatest sources for computer performance and maintenance free utilities, "fix-up" tools and advice.

Here is a good example:

Reinstall and Restore Your Windows PC in Eight Easy Steps

Eliminate problems and improve performance by wiping out Windows and reinstalling it from scratch. Here's a simple guide to help you back up your data and restore your PC quickly.Part 1 of a special five-part series. -->

Lincoln Spector, PC World

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 04:40 PM PST

Maybe your PC won't boot. Or it could be infected with some kind of persistent malware. Perhaps Windows puts up a Blue Screen of Death every time you type the word aardvark.

No matter what kind of trouble your computer is having, someone will probably tell you to reformat your hard drive, reinstall Windows and your applications, and then restore your documents, photos, and music from a backup.


That isn't always good advice--according to a 2004 article, incompetent tech support people use it to get customers off the phone. But if nothing else fixes a problem that's impossible to live with, starting over from scratch may be the best solution.

Don't do it unless you've tried everything else, however. If your PC refuses to boot, see "Diagnose and Repair an Unbootable XP or Vista PC" and "Six Downloadable Boot Discs That Could Save Your PC" for better options. If Windows boots and then horribly misbehaves, check for malware, remove unneeded autoloaders, and update drivers. You might even consider cleaning the Registry.

If after all that you determine that you must wipe out and reinstall Windows, follow these seven steps to make the process as safe and painless as possible.

Step 1: Find and Know Your Restore Tool

You need some sort of bootable environment that can restore or reinstall Windows--and you probably have one. PCs that ship with Windows all come with one of the following options.

Most new PCs come with a restore disc, making it easy to return your system's software to the same condition it was in when you first pulled the machine out of the box.A restore disc is a bootable CD or DVD that can restore your hard drive to the exact contents it had when the PC left the factory. In most cases the recovery disc will destroy all of your data--documents, photos, and so on--while "saving" your system. Some manufacturers don't actually ship a separate restore disc with your PC, but instead install software on the hard drive that you can use to create your own restore discs. If your PC came with a restore disc, but you can't locate it, see "How Do I Restore Windows If I've Lost My Restore CD?"

A restore partition lies hidden on the hard drive. You access it by pressing a particular key combination at boot time. Check your documentation to learn whether you have one and how to access it. The partition does the same thing as a restore disc does.

An actual Microsoft Windows CD or DVD is the best tool of them all, but unless you bought an upgrade to a newer version of Windows, you probably don't have one.

Step 2: Gather Everything Else You Need

Make sure you have all of the following before you take any action.

A driver backup: See "How Do I Back Up My Drivers?" for instructions.

Backup media and software: You'll want an external hard drive (or better yet, two of them), some blank DVDs, and backup software. I'll cover more details in Steps 3 and 4.

Your applications: For every program you use that didn't come with your PC, you need the CDs they came on, their serial numbers, their registration codes, and so on. If you downloaded an application, make a backup of the download file or check to be sure that you can easily download it again.

Time: In reality, this project will probably take only a few hours, but you want to leave yourself a day of wiggle room in the event that you can't locate an important driver or software disc. This project is best tackled at the start of a long holiday, or at least over a weekend, to avoid disrupting your business if something goes wrong.

A good book or some other diversion: You're going to spend a chunk of time in front of a nonworking PC. If the PC is a laptop, plop it down on the coffee table so that you can watch a little TV while the installers are running.

Step 3: Create an Image Backup of Your Hard Drive

In the unlikely event that something goes wrong (for instance, you forget to save a copy of an important presentation that you need for work on Monday), an image backup of your hard drive in its current state will let you quickly and easily restore everything to where it was before you started. Resist the temptation to skip this step, as it's your most reliable safety net.

What should you back up to? An external hard drive--they're fast, cheap, and easy to work with. For best results, pick one that's at least twice the size of all the data you have. If your 160GB hard drive has 90GB of data on it, a 200GB external drive will make a good choice. With 500GB and 1TB drives now readily available and reasonably priced, though, I suggest you go as big as you can afford; that way you can save more than one copy of your files to the drive, or even use it to back up multiple PCs.

And what software should you use? Ghost and TrueImage are the two best-known image-backup programs, but they aren't the only ones. Check your regular backup program (you do back up regularly, don't you?) for an image-backup feature, quite likely labeled Disaster Recovery. The backup software that came with your external drive might have something similar, too.

DriveImage XML is a great free option for creating disk-image backups in Windows.Vista Business and Ultimate have built-in image backup. Click Start, type backup, select Backup Status and Configuration, and press Enter. Click Complete PC Backup, and then choose Create a backup now.

And, as usual, you have free options. I recommend Runtime Software's DriveImage XML.

Ultimate Boot CD for Windows comes with backup tools and a variety of other handy system-recovery features.Remember, though, that an image backup is useless if you can't boot from a CD or DVD to restore it. Both Ghost and TrueImage come with tools for creating just such a disc. If you opt to use Vista's Backup tool, make sure you have either a true Windows Vista DVD or the Vista Recovery Disc available for recovery purposes. You can recover a DriveImage XML backup via the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows.

Step 4: Make a Data Backup

Yes, I just had you create a backup of everything on your hard drive, including your data. But the purpose of that first backup was to add an extra layer of security. This second, data-only backup will make restoring your data, once you reinstall Windows, easier.

See "What's the Best Way to Back Up What I Need to Back Up?" for two lists (for XP and Vista) of Windows' data-holding folders. But don't worry about the software I recommend in that article--all you need to do right now is drag and copy those folders to a safe location.

As for what location, once again, an external hard drive does well. If you're really paranoid (as I am), you'll use a different external drive than you used for your image backup; it's safer than putting all your backups onto one hard drive. If you have only a few gigabytes of data files, burning them to DVD is a good, cheap solution.

Step 5: Reformat, Restore, and Recover

Now comes the main event. I can't really give you specific instructions for using your recovery tool, because I don't know what recovery tool you have. Just boot into it and follow the prompts. They're all designed to be as simple as possible.

Step 6: Make Windows Your Own

Congratulations. You now have a new version of Windows, configured exactly the way Microsoft and/or your system vendor like it (or, the way they liked it at the time you bought your PC).

Now you have to configure it, remove any preinstalled junk, install your own software, and generally make it yours all over again. This is, in my opinion, the longest and most annoying part of the job, and in Step 7 I'll tell you how to avoid it in the future. But for now, do the following.

a. In Control Panel's Users applet, create log-ons for yourself and any other users. You will need to have at least one Administrator-level user.

b. Remove bundled programs you don't want. I recommend the portable version of Revo Uninstaller for this job.

c. Restore your backed-up drivers. You can probably skip the drivers for anything that came with your PC, as your restore tool likely creates a version of Windows already set up with them.

d. Download and install any Windows updates.

e. Starting with your security software, install programs you use that didn't come with the PC. Update them, and then configure them to your liking.

f. Rearrange the Start menu as you wish.

g. Select your preferred wallpaper, screen saver, power settings, and so on.

Step 7: Create Another Image Backup

No, I'm not kidding. This step isn't strictly necessary, but if you ever need to restore Windows to this computer again, you can simply back up your personal data, restore this fresh and clean image backup, and then put your data back in its place.

Remember, the restore tool restores Microsoft's and your vendor's configuration of Windows, not yours. Think of this image as your own, customized restore tool, allowing you to skip Step 6 the next time around.

Because you have not yet copied your data back to the hard drive, this image will be relatively small. Put it on a series of writeable DVDs rather than an external drive, label them clearly with today's date, and safely store them away.

Step 8: The Final Touch

With Windows ready and recoverable, restore your data from the data backup with a few simple drags and drops. In the unlikely event that that backup has been damaged, restore it from the image backup. And keep both backups around for a month or so, just in case you missed an important file.

Finally, sigh, relax, treat yourself to something decadent, and get on with your life.

1998-2008, PC World Communications, Inc.

Posted by George Freire at 10:50 AM

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Anti-Virus Software, Can You Trust It?

I have recommended in previous post several anti-virus free software programs. Some are better than others, but all that have been recommended here have one thing in common: they all can be trusted, however, the degree of performance and effectiveness may vary greatly from one to another.

Today I am going to respond to a question posed by one of our viewers, Mr. Luis Nabais from Portugal, who asks whether he should keep buying expensive anti-virus software, when, as he has read in this blog,   he could instead use other programs that do basically the same thing and  are free of cost.

Not all the programs I have referred to are as efficient as the big names of the industry, (that I am not going to mention), except one that by all records known can be favorably compared to them.

This anti-virus software program that can be downloaded and installed at absolutely no cost is called:
 Avira Antivir Personal.

This program was rated #1 by PC WORLD magazine, (which in my opinion is the premier computer field technology magazine published today).

I quote from their test results as follows:

Avira's Antivir Personal surpassed all competitors, thanks to its excellent malware detection and impressive scan speed.

The program test scores were the  following:

PERFORMANCE SCORE:                          SUPERIOR
WEEK-OLD SIGNATURES:                      52.7%
AND INACTIVE ROOTKITS)                    100%
ROOTKIT REMOVAL:                              100%
OF MALWARE:                                        50%
ON- DEMAND, (IN SECONDS):             17
ON-ACCESS, (IN SECONDS)                 28
DESIGN SCORE:                                    GOOD

The program excellent detection, desinfection and scan speed, earned the top spot of all programs tested.  The strong performance continued in desinfection, where Avira Antivir Personal found and disarmed all the rootkits and other infections tossed at it, but (like all the free software here) it tended to leave remnants, such as relatively harmless Registry changes, in place.

Avira's program was not just the most thorough tool, but also the fastest. It led in speed tests for both on -demand scans, (which you schedule or start), and on access scans, (which ocurr automatically during tasks such as copying files).

If you viewers want to use this anti-virus program you can download it at the following address:

Just copy the above and paste on your browser.

The company has a premium version that costs approximately $20.00, which eleminates "pop-ups" ads for Avira's paid ID -theft protection programs, but other than that this version is basically the same as the free version.

George Freire

Thursday, October 8, 2009


If you readers want to see and explore ANY of the articles posted since the start of this blog, all you have to do is select and click any of the months shown on the "ARCHIVE SECTION" shown at the very start on the left column of the blog. The postings of the month selected will be then shown.
You can also go to the end of the blog page and click "Older Posts".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To my Portuguese friends who are following this Blog

The  following are the instructions in Portuguese, so that you can easily have the Blog translated to Portuguese by the program "Babelfish" in no time flat.

In fact this program can translate the Blog to more than 20 different languages!

Caros amigos,
Descrubi hoje uma maneira simples de ler o meu blog em Portugues.
Vao na internet para a web page
Esta web page abre e mostra duas janelas a escolher: "Translate a block of text" ou "Translate a web page".
Deverao escolher a janela "Translate a web page".
O espaco em branco desta janela ja tem a entrada http://
Escrevam logo a seguir ao http:// a web address do meu blog:
O resultado final sera portanto:
Logo por baixo do espaco esta uma janela com a fraze "Select from and to languages" e uma seta no final da fraze.
Carreguem na seta e uma longa file de frazes aparece. Selecionem "English to Portuguese" e clickem a pequena janela seguinte que diz "Translate".
E tudo! teem que esperar uns 10 a 20 segundos e o meu Blog aparece completamente traduzido para Portugues.
Agradeceria o vosso comentario de como este "truque" funciona!
Um abraco Tertuliano a todos.
George Freire

GMail Quick Searches with a Keyboard Shortcut

For those of you who use GMail, this might be interesting and of good use. PC World published  a "snip"  by Todd Jackson who is a GMail Product Manager:

" The GMail feature I can't live without is search operators. I'm a huge fan of keyboard shortcuts, so when I need to find some quickly, I hit '/' to get to the search box and type "from:keith" plus a keyword in the mail from Keith that I'm looking for. Make sure you have keyboard shortcuts turned on for the '/' shrtcut to work. There is a list of other tips and tricks for becoming a GMail ninja here:"

If you don't know how to activate keyboard shortcuts in GMail, go to your GMail page, click "settings" on the right side of the page, a screen opens, on "general" tab go down to "keyboard shortcuts" and activate "keyboard shortcuts "on".

George Freire

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Here are some good and easy to remember keyboard short-cuts that work in most windows related programs.

They are easy to remember, (especially those that you use more regularly), and as the title says, very fast and easy to use:

SELECT THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT : Ctrl-A (this is useful if you want to copy and paste the document).
TURN ITALICS "ON" , "OFF'             : Ctrl-I
TURN BOLD "ON" , "OFF"                 : Ctrl-B

GO TO YOUR HOME PAGE:             : Alt-Home
REFRESH WEB PAGE:                       : Ctrl-F5

There are many more keyboard short-cuts that you can use, however, remembering them all is "kinda" hard to do. I though that the above cover most of the actions that we all need when using "WORD", "EXCEL" Internet Browsers, (IE, Firefox and others); once you start using them, you'll find out that it all comes naturally when you are working in your computer.

George Freire

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How to Upgrade to Windows 7

With Windows 7  release just three weeks away, just a brief note concerning those of you who are planning to upgrade either from Windows XP or Windows Vista:

PC World has a very helpful article covering the possible problems you'll encounter and how to solve them without problems!

Go to:

They will tell you how.

George Freire