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Windows 7: New to the Win 7 Forums, a proper intro is in order!

24 Dec 2012   #1

Win7 SP1 x86
 
 
New to the Win 7 Forums, a proper intro is in order!

Hi all. New to the forums so I'd thought I'd do a longer into than just the welcome forum.

This will be more of a blog style entry (I've been told I do go on a bit at times!), but feel free to comment if you wish.


First off; I'm no computer "techie" or expert. I'm just what I would consider your average user. Surf's the net, listens to music, watches movies, checks email, edits personal photo's and runs the occasional PC game.


That being said, I'm not exactly computer illiterate either. Goggle works fine to fill in the details for me when I really want to know how to do something...


Next, here's the rundown of the IT I have around the house;


1. Compaq Armada 1750. PIII 700 or something around there. Somewhere around late 90's vintage IIRC. XP Sp3. Used off line with tuning software to edit and tune vehicle PCM's. It's a real trooper, tough as nails and has never given me a whit of trouble except for a blue line down the side of the display that popped up several years back. Works fine for it's assigned task.


2. Toshiba Satellite P30. Bought in 2003. XP SP3. This is my "traveling" kit. The 17 "Trubrite" screen is just great for watching movies in the hotel and the built Karman Harmon speakers do a good job. It also tunes vehicles, has Bluetooth capabilities and a host of other upgrades. Long in the tooth, but another great piece of IT that just won't die. The UI is tweaked with a theme called "inspirat 2" and "rocket dock" from CrystalXP. Almost a MAC look menu bar. It's the one I reach for when I need portable, rugged, reliable and capable. It has literally been around the world several times.....


3. HP M8277c HTPC. Core 2 Duo. Vista Home Premium originally, now running Win 7 Pro SP1. Bought in 2008 because I was going to be away from the family for a year on a job in a one bedroom apartment and I wanted an "all in one" computer media solution. Paired it with a Sony Aquos 32" TV and it served me well. It's what I'm typing on now, what brought me to this forum and I will go into it more later down the post.


4. Sony Viao. Core I5. Win 7, I assume SP1 since it's on auto updates. Bought about two years ago and it's the wife's machine. White, slick, stable. not much to complain about but not much to rave about either....


So that's the lineup.


As mentioned, my main desktop is the HP. Bought back in 2008 to serve as an all in one solution in a tiny apartment. Came with Vista Home Premium since it is an HTPC. I paired it with a Sony 32" Aquos (great picture even now) and a Logitech Z5500 speaker setup. Worked great. TV, Movies, sound system, skype, MSN video chat. All of it.


Later came a bit more ram, a Logitech "wave" keyboard and mouse and a Griffin Powermate 2.0. Somewhere through the year (just after warranty was up!) the stock tuner card dies and a Hauppauge Win TV card went in.


Many people malign Vista, but I never had any trouble with it. Sure, the occasional hang, but it did everything I asked of it, never crashed, and kept me sane for the year I was away from my family.
But I had to work at it. Tweaking settings, cleaning files, etc, etc. I had nothing much more to do after a day at work but to sit and mess with the computer, so it was also kind of therapeutic and kept my mind off being separated from my wife and daughter. But Vista was not for the guy who doesn't know what to do if it doesn't work after you punch the little round on button. Still, my install was fast, clean and worked for my purposes. Never had half the trouble most seemed to have.


Well, I got tired of working at it once the family had reunited and we bought the wife’s Viao. Life was far more interesting again and the HP seemed to fall by the wayside. Win 7 seemed a bit foreign on the wife's Viao, but it worked without messing with it at all. It was almost XP like......


I also didn't have the cash to spend on an upgrade to Win 7. So the HP sat in the office/computer room; Only occasionally turned on for a specific purpose or to retrieve a program, only half put back together after a cross country move, wires cables and assorted bits all over the place and haphazardly organized. It slowly started to clog up, slow down and become the Vista that everyone hated......freezing, lagging.......frustrating.


We got on a cleaning kick and while ago and when I got to the office room the HP sat there like an old Chevy on blocks in the front yard. I knew there was a decent machine in there somewhere, it was for the whole year I was away. So I decide to look at options rather than just toss it all in the attic and buy/build something new.


In case you haven't guessed, I hate throwing away perfectly good equipment just because it's old or need a bit of TLC. If it still works, why waste good money replacing it? Microsoft and Apple would disagree I think.....


So, off to microsoft.com I go to see what can be done. The HP equipment is fine, the OS is dragging it down though. Well, looky here; 39.99 and you can have windows 8! Free add-on media center!
I don't like the interface, but a nice Logitech T650 touch pad will fix that. And the video reviews all look FAST. Maybe it's the newer tech, maybe it the new OS. Dunno, but Win 7 is still too expensive and I might as well move on to the next OS since it's coming, like it or not.


Out comes the credit card. Some kind of compatibility program is required to order. Fair enough. My system passes just fine. "Enter payment info here" it says. Well, I try 4 times. No dice. "Problem with processing your order, go back and try again" every single time.

Well, that sucks.


I check my PayPal and it says 3 pending orders for the money are in the que waiting for the retailer to approve.


What?!?


So I fire off an email to PayPal saying to decline any request for transfer from "Avarto Digital Services" and then call my credit card company and put a stop payment on any dispersements.


Well, that left a foul taste in my mouth. Win 8 doesn’t impress me at all by now. The small bit of interest I had in it is crushed to death.


Then, as luck would have it I was visiting a friend of mine who lives and breathes PC. You know the type; he'd have a jack wired into the base of his skull to connect if he could. He's got stuff piled in the closet a couple generations newer than my stuff that he won't use because it's too "old".


I'm telling him my story and he tells me to hold on a second. He walks over to one of his cabinets, rummages around a while and then tosses me a disk with a sleeve. It's a Win 7 Pro disk with the key. He says Merry Christmas and smiles. Apparently, he's switching over to all Win 8 and getting new equipment. Tablets, touch screens, touch mouse...the works.


I offer to pay him, but he says it's from a build that was stillborn on the operating table years ago and refuses any money for it.


I thank him and later that day head home and load it up. I have to wipe my vista install, but I leave the HP recovery partition intact and make sure I have my OE recovery discs in the drawer. Takes a while, but the install proceeds, the key goes in, activation passes, an hour of upgrades and then another hour of chasing and updating my 2008/09 drivers. Then another hour of loading up programs like Photoshop, MSOffice, flash updates, adobe reader, etc, etc, etc.....


But it's up, it's clean and it's fast! Everything works that worked in Vista, even the HP Media Center remote control that I like so much is fine.


Now, time to tweak this sucker!


Appearance only for now. I like the "inspirat 2" theme I have loaded up on my Toshiba, it's basically black glass looking. Digging around in win 7 reveals "slate". Click. Wow, pretty close to "inspirat 2". Close enough to be happy with it.


Now for sounds. Click, click, click. Just like all the OS's before it, Win 7 lets you pick what you want.
Wait a minute.....where's the “Start Windows” sound choice? I can't change the start-up sound? Just on or off?


No way am I gonna stand for that BS! Google time....


So, it's hidden in a DLL file now. Imageres.dll to be exact.


Out comes reshacker. There it is, under wave. Crack it open, replace the file. No dice says reshacker, can't open the wave I want to use (Inspirat 2 start-up sound).


What the heck? Check the wave file; it's 1.08 mg. Too big, so I've got to shrink it. How the heck am I going to do that?


Then memory kicks in and I remember sound recorder in XP. Check Win 7 sound recorder and apparently you can only record with it, no altering files.


It’s like Bill and the bunch at Redmond are anticipating my every move. Damn you Gates!


Out comes the faithful old Toshiba. I copy the inspirat 2 start-up into XP sound recorder. Yup, stereo and high quality. So I adjust it down to Phone quality and mono. 169 kb now. Play it side by side with the stereo version and I can't tell the diff.


Good enuf for me!


Back to the HP with the new Dll. Not so fast says Win 7. Only "Trueinstaller" can copy or rename file in windows32 folder.


Grrrr......bloody heck Bill! All-of-a-sudden it’s like I’m dealing with Stalin.......errr........Steve Jobs!


Google again. Seems you have to "take ownership" of the file to make any changes. OK, after stumbling around for 15 minutes it's done. Swap the files out and restart.


Ahhhh, there's the start sound I want! Why was that made sooo hard to do? Oh well, it's done. Now to go lock down those files again. Despite my rantings here, I'm sure the "lockdown" was done for a good reason. Probably security and virus/malware stuff....


So, here I am, about 2 days into Windows 7. Desktop and theme is just about where I want it, sounds are good and all the programs I use are up and running. I've even been able to dedicate a couple hours to cleaning up and organizing the couple TB’s of data I've got hidden all over the place.

So far, Win 7 Pro looks like a keeper.


Thank Microsoft for making Win 8 so hard to buy. Besides saving me 40 bucks you steered me to what seems to be a better OS.


Could this be another “Vista/XP Free Downgrade” scenario building?


Dunno, just dunno.......


Merry Christmas to all!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2012   #2
Microsoft MVP

 

If you want perfect performance follow the steps in Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 including using the drivers Windows 7 wants as the first driver-complete OS. If you changed out a bunch of drivers like this was XP then I"d start over and follow the steps.

I would also not tweak Windows 7 in any way beyond normal system settings as it is already a perfectly balanced OS, featherlight and instantaneous on adequate hardware with a perfect install.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2012   #3

Win7 SP1 x86
 
 

Thanks for the advice, but I find it hard to believe win 7 would prefer and run better on the drivers from 2007/8 that were built for xp/vista (which is what it installed) over the updated "windows 7" drivers I downloaded from the oe hardware builders.

Runs nice and fast as is.

Maybe it's because my hardware is now 4 years old, which is prehistoric in computer years these days.....

I also had to do a clean install, not an "upgrade". Upgrade wouln't work with the key on the packaging so it was a format and new OS install. Hense the need to reload all my programs, files etc.

About all it saved was "windows.old", which I copied onto an external storage drive and then deleted to open space on teh primary partition. I did'nt need to I guess, just fells like a fresher start....

My tweaking is mostly limited to personal appearance preferences. Can't see me going much deeper than that seeing as my install is pretty much 99% where I want it right now. Well, except for taking ownership to alter things like the start wave and then giving it back to "trustedinstaller".

Merry Christmas.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2012   #4
Microsoft MVP

 

The presence of windows.old folder means the installer wasn't booted to get the cleanest install possible, deleting all partitions to create new as you wish as shown in Steps 6 and 7 Clean Install Windows 7.

Nobody said you'd want to run an in-place Upgrade even though it certainly is possible with either a full or upgrade version key. A Clean Install is always superior unless you have programs that need to be passed through which cannot be reinstalled any other way.

Nobody said it wants 2006-2007 drivers, only that Windows 7 decides what drivers are needed from installer and then updates them via Windows Updates. Only after all round of Updates are done with reboots should any missing drivers be imported from the PC or Device's Support Downloads webpage.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2012   #5

Win7 SP1 x86
 
 

Well, she's gone through a couple rounds of updates (non left to get) and lots of restarts.

It was still using the older drivers from back when the PC was built so I updated them to the new OE drivers forthe old hardware.

No worries, it still runs great. I'm happy with it "as is", clean install or not.



Here's a thought though;

I've always used revo uninstaller pro for removing programs. Is this still a good idea in windows 7?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Dec 2012   #6
Microsoft MVP

 

I've drifted away from it except with problem uninstalls because Windows 7 does a really good job on uninstalls, plus I use CCLeaner fairly regularly which Registry Cleaner covers the same things. But even it isn't needed that badly since Windows 7 is so light to begin with, and stays that way with a perfect install on adequate hardware.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2012   #7

Win7 Ultimate X64
 
 

Don't know if you have already but be sure to take a system image backup

If you got your system to a point where your happy take an image and you never need to go through install & setup again if you suffer infection or hardware failure
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2012   #8

Win7 Home Premium 64x
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
Don't know if you have already but be sure to take a system image backup

If you got your system to a point where your happy take an image and you never need to go through install & setup again if you suffer infection or hardware failure
2nd this ^^^^

And also, welcome to Seven Forums

Also, one of my favorite tweaks is restoring the Quick Launch.. Haven't really liked "pinning"

Quick Launch - Enable or Disable
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2012   #9

Win7 SP1 x86
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
Don't know if you have already but be sure to take a system image backup

If you got your system to a point where your happy take an image and you never need to go through install & setup again if you suffer infection or hardware failure
I sure will as soon as I get a drive big enough to take one.

I need right around 77 gb to image the current setup and my 80 GB internal backup drive is just a bit too small. At least, windows says it's too small when I try.

I'm not exactly sure why it's 77 gb, there might be some stuff hanging around from before the win 7 install. I deleted the windows.old file and that cut the size down by about 300 GB. From what I've read, that's all there should be left over, but I'll have to fish around to see what else might be clinging on....

I plan to pick up a TB drive and put it in the case as the primary and then the 400 gb stock drive can serve to backup the windows partition.

Cheers
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Dec 2012   #10
Microsoft MVP

 

You can install WinDirStat to see a graphical map of what's on your HD showing size of each.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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