Saturday, August 23, 2008

Windows Vista Essentials PART 2 of 3

PART 2 Configuration & Tweaks

Two Facts:
  1. Everyone is different and we all like our icons in a certain place or like the interface to look a certain way. No matter what operating system you use one shapes it and molds it into something unique and personal.
  2. Computer manufacturers load their computers with unnecessary, bloated and annoying demo, trial, or marginally functional software. This is unfortunate; however, it is a fact of life. When paired with the lack of a CD or DVD containing the operating system means removing said software isn't as simple as it used to be.
Everyone is Different
How you choose to customize the windows interface is up to you. There isn't realy a wrong way to make your OS look - just make sure it is efficient for your work flow. For me that means making my taskbar thicker to accomodate "large" size quick launch buttons. The applications I live by day in and day out reside in the quicklaunch. The utilities and programs I use ocassionally are relegated to the start menu. I go into the settings and turn off the audo fill feature for the start menu because I want to choose what is in the list - not let Vista (or XP for that matter) pick what is in the list.
Possibly the most preformance impactfull change is the removal of the Widnows Sidebar. I've never realy had a use for it (but hey - I disable dashboard via terminal on my mac too so I guess I am an odd one). The sidebar eats up processor cycles, available RAM and screen space - three things I am not willing to part with. I don't have Windows hide my innactive taskbar items because I want to see what is running - and out of sight out of mind often means lost preformance to fluff tasks runing in the background. Finally - I clear the desktop. I use the desktop for my files I am currently working with and at the end of the day or week they are either deleted or filed in an appropriate folder.

Loose The Bloat
The easiest way I know of to remove the junk that comes loaded on a machine is to have it optimized by your local Geek Squad. Optimization usually takes 15-45 minutes (depending if the unit has a long first boot up process) and will only set you back $29.99. If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer you can remove the extra bloat-ware and tweak the operating system with any number of utilities; however, I have found the Geek Squad does a great job and all their work is backed for 30 days - so if they screw something up they will make it right. In the old days one would simply pop the operating system disk in the computer and install just the Operating System and ONLY the software desired. Presto - clean fast copy of the operating system. Unfortunatly, Toshiba and Gateway are the only manufacturers on the Windows side still offering disks. Dell just stoped including them; however, one can request a set for free - you just have to ask. Even companies like HP who give users the ability to burn recovery disks don't give the user a way to JUST instal the OS apart from the bundled software. I am sure there are some great tweaking utilities out there that do a great job; however, my unit was optimized before I took it home and I have no complaints. I did my Virus / Spyware installs and other configurations - but OS tweaking is somthing that I wanted Geek Squad to take care of for me.

The final peice of the puzzle are the applications which I will cover tomorrow. I have a few applications for enhancing the Vista Experience but I won't get into those here - I'll save that for tomorrow.


Ronnie said...

I like what you have done with the "quick launch" buttons but I cannot figure out how to enlarge them. Can you point me in the right direction?

Rick Mead said...

Right-click on the taskbar and uncheck "lock the taskbar." You will see two handles appear to the right and to the left of the taskbar. grab the one to the right and drag it over to create some extra space with no icon. In that blank space - right click and select "view" and then you will see two options - small and large icons. Simply select large icons.

Ronnie said...

Thank You!