Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Windows Vista Power Plans

Yesterday by chance, I switched my power plan from "Balanced" to "Power Saver" (Personalize>Screen Saver>Change Power Settings...). I didn't do for any reason, just thought , hey let's change it!
But later that day, my PC started to slow down, I couldn't play a movie, everything worked glitchy, and there was this "brainwashing like" quiet, sound coming out, so I restarted the computer but it was still problematic.
By now the sound was really annoying, so I just shut down the system and went to bed. And there it hit me! The power plan change!
Today I set the power plan to "Performance".
I don't know if the Power Plan was the reason for my PC's problematic behavior, because as far as I know the Power Plans are different only by the time set for Display Shut Down and Sleep, however it's the only reason to explain it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Windows Vista Ultimate DreamScene Videos

The Vista DreamScene feature comes only with Vista Ultimate. The DreamScene is a looped video that can be set as a desktop background. It's not pre-installed , but you have to go in Windows Update and install it along with the other Ultimate Extras (Hold 'em Pocker Game, BitLocker etc.). After you install it in Personalize>Desktop Background>Windows Dreamscene Videos, there's only one Dreamscene Video, the Vista Aurora Animated Video, which looks pretty good. Actually it's pretty much the best DreamScene video that you can find on the net. In the context menu on desktop there's one more option now, Play Dreamscene or Pause Dreamscene. This is handy, so you won't need to change the desktop to a regular image, when you 'll need to open a more graphic consuming application, you'll just pause the Dreamscene Background.

DreamScene Videos are played on the PC's video card so it's not messing up the entire system. However, you will need at least 1GB RAM and a video card with 256 MB memory. With this kind of configuration with bigger DreamScene Videos above 15 MB you will notice some slowing down and minimal stops. So I recommend that you use this feature with at least 2GB Ram and a newer graphic card (nVidia GF 7 or 8 and if you can allow yourself make it a 512MB graphics memory).
You can use any MPEG video as a dreamscene, but it's recommended that they are looped so you can't notice the starting over of the video.
So far Stardock, has the biggest gallery with dreamscene videos, and many of them are free. But in order to use them (which natively are in .Dream format) you will need Stardock's Dreamscape software (freeware).
I found a lot dreamscenes, in .Dream, but they are just converted .mpeg's or .avi's. You can convert video files to .Dreams with Stardock's DreamsMaker (freeware)

But my opinion is why do this, when you can use the original video files, without any extra software. Currently the .Dream format and Dreamscape aren't really necessary. However, Stardock soon will make Dreamscape work on the other versions of Vista too.

Well, if you have Vista Ultimate and adequate configuration I don't think that there are any reasons why not to use a live, dynamic desktop background.

Few days after you install Dreaqmscene, in Windows Update with Ultimate Extras there'll be more Dreamscenes for download.

Dreamscenes Video Downloads (mpeg and wmv)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Windows Vista Home Premium vs. Windows Vista Ultimate

I ran my machine (2.93GHz Intel, FX 5500 256MB, 1GB RAM) under Vista Home Premium for about 6 months and it was pretty cool, the reason why I didn't install the Ultimate version right away is because I didn't need the extra features that come with Ultimate (Fax, Ultimate Extras, BitLocker Encryption etc.). I pretty much striped the Home Premium version disabling all services and processes that I don't use (Tablet PC, Dial-up Modem service and others), in order to make it as fast as possible, but stil using the Windows Aero and 3D Flip features. Like this when no programs were runing (except Task Manager) I had 40 processes and the memory consumption was 55-60%.
Three days ago I upgraded to Windows Vista Ultimate, and I thought all I was getting was a new game, the Dreamscene feature, and Fax and Bitlocker which I don't use. Well guess what? I got a lot more!
In performance. Again I disabled all services I don't use and now I have 39 processes running and the memory consumption is always 38-40%.
So, my advice is if your spending money on Vista, don't spend it on anything else but Ultimate.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How To Remove The Grub Loader?

How to remove the Grub Loader after deleting Ubuntu?

OK, I know there isn't a legitimate reason to remove Ubuntu from a Vista dual boot, but I was low on hard disk space and I really needed it. Not good enough reason??? Well I just had to do it. Seriously, Ubuntu was all I expected, and it crossed many bridges in a very short time, in a year or two it will overcome Windows in performance , but not just yet.
So, here's what I did. I deleted the Ubuntu partition from the Vista Disk Managment Console and when I restarted the PC, the Windows wouldn't start because of a Grub Loader Error 17. Whatever.... If someone does this, here's how to fix it.

1.First you gonna need the Windows Vista Installation DVD.*
2.Boot from the DVD, choose the time zone and language (but make sure your keyboard supports the language, instead choose English and afterwards change it).
3.In the next window choose "Repair".
4.And than select Command Prompt.
5.In the Command Prompt Window write this lines one after another:


/xcopy bootmgr C:\

The result of each line might not be successful, but it doesn't matter, the first two lines are essential, (and maybe the 4th)and if they appear all right, write down the rest just in case.

*Actually what I needed first was the Ubuntu Live CD to connect to the internet and look for help. So here's also how to connect to internet (dsl connection) in Ubuntu:
1.Open a Terminal (in System>Accsesories)
2.Write sudo pppoeconf
3. A window will open asking a couple of questions, select YES to all, except when you are prompt about the username and password where logicaly you will write down your username (from your internet provider account) and the password.
4. Make sure when your asked at the end if you wanna connect to the internet NOW, also select YES.

Note: The Ubuntu Live CD might come in handy whenever you can't start your system. Just boot from it, access your Windows hard drives from there (in Places>Computer) and you can transfer any files you need to a Flash Drive or burn them on a CD/DVD. Or if you just want to check your e-mail, or surf the internet.