Fix 7’s Taskbar Right Clicking

Something that has bugged me for a long time in Windows 7 is how the taskbar right-click functionality was changed.  Since Windows 95, when you right clicked on an item in the taskbar, you were presented with a menu to Restore, Minimize, Maximize, Close, and with some programs, some nifty custom options (like PuTTY’s custom menu, which since I use it  a lot, is the main source of my gripes here).

But, for some reason in Windows 7, Microsoft decided to do away with all of that and change what the right click does.  Right clicking now brings up Windows 7’s jump lists.  A feature that is absolutely worthless to a good 95% of the programs that run on Windows.  It was so incredibly frustrating to me to right click on running program and not be presenting with a useful menu, and right clicking on the program name in the jump list presenting you with an equally worthless menu.  Even more frustrating was there is an alternate way to access jumplists, by clicking and dragging up, they didn’t have to change the right click functionality!  The final straw was when they (as usual) gave you no setting to change this option back to the classic right click menu.  Now, I realize you can hold the Shift key and right click on a taskbar item to get the classic menu, but I want that to be the default function, not something that his hidden behind the shift key.

Well, as you may have guessed, I have a fix for this.  A little free program called 7 Taskbar Tweaker.  This program will let you change the right click function back to the classic menu (and a slew of other tweaks)!  And even more so, if you do use jump lists for something, you can still access them by the other method of clicking and dragging up like I mentioned above.  The only slight downside is that the program must run in the system tray for the changes to remain in effect as it actually has to inject a dll and hook in to the explorer process since there are no registry options for the tweaks it applies.  Fortunately, the memory footprint is fairly small, clocking in at only around 2mb of ram used, so it’s not going to have an adverse effect on systems, even those with only a couple gigs of ram.

So, you can change this:

 

Back in to something useful:

Windows 7 SP1 is out, time to get back some HD space

Well, it’s that time of the season again where Microsoft pushes out a new service pack.  This time it is Service Pack 1 for Windows 7.  I have actually been running SP1 for a few weeks now (yay for developer’s releases) on 3 different machines, all with zero problems.  The install is smooth and the service pack didn’t cause any issues.

As with the service packs for Windows Vista, there is a command you can run for your command line that basically permanently installs the service pack files on your machine (by removing all of the backup files it makes during install).   I previously showed you how to do this for Vista SP1 and Vista SP2, so now it is 7 SP1’s turn.

Also, as with previous SP release, Microsoft has once again changed the command to make this happen.  I’m not sure why they always want to make you play guess-the-command, but I did the research for you, and here it is.  Run this at an Administrator command prompt:

dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded

It will take a few minutes to run and do its thing, but once it is finished you will get back around 1.3gb to 1.5gb of space.  Not bad for running 1 command at the command line!  Just remember, this command does make the service pack install permanent, so there is no reverting after this, but honestly, once you have booted a few times and everything works fine, there is really no reason to ever want to revert.

So go claim back your space!

Windows 7 Annoyance: File Properties

For the most part Windows 7 is great.  There are a fewthingsabout it that annoy me, and I have found another.  This “feature” has popped up a couple times and is very frustrating when it does.

For files created/modified in the last 24 hours, Windows 7 does not display the file time in the File Properties dialog.  It just gives a very unspecific “X hours ago”.  What the fuck is this shit?

So if I wanted to know the EXACT time this file was created, I can’t see that.  Fan-fucking-tastic idea Microsoft.  Where do you idiots come up with this shit?  Seriously, who ever thought this was a good idea should be punched square in the balls.  What good does “5 hours ago” do.  Ok, so it was created some time 5 hours ago, giving an hour of buffer time in there.  That really doesn’t help me.

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Make Firefox More Secure, Disable Java

No, not Javascript.  Java.

Despite similar names, Javascript and Java are 2 entirely different things.

Java, or Java applets are programs that can be embedded in to websites.  They are generally poorly written, and hardly ever function right.  Most people will probably never even need java, and in fact the only website I can think of that I ever use it on is Facebook’s shitty multi-photo uploader which I use only a handful of times a year.

Why am I writing about this?  Because I had a Windows 7 machine that was fully updated, running an updated Firefox with Java (Java may have not been up to date),  and a fully updated Antivirus program.  By clicking one simple link, the machine was infected through the Java run time in Firefox.  Despite clicking “Deny” on the Java question, the app still managed to run itself.  It looked like it caused some type of crash in the Java run time and allowed itself to execute code.  The virus then proceeded to attempt to hijack the browser and insert other malicious code in to the system.  Avira Antivirus was able to block most of these attempts, but it did miss something.  I have a feeling that this was a new strain of the virus, so I’m not going to place too much blame on Avira here.  After all was said and done I ran the infected file through an online scanner, and only 1 of 41 virus engines detected it.  Yikes!

Before shutting down the system I had ran FULL scans with Malwarebytes and Avira, both came back clean.  I rebooted the system and that is when it happened.  7 load screen… blue screen…. reboot.  Over and over.  Safe mode was of no use, other methods of recovery didn’t work, the bluescreen yielded no useful information.  It wouldn’t even point me to the file causing the crash (which would of helped me tremendously).  To make a long story short (I put probably 4 hours in to fixing this bluescreen), the virus had attempted to insert code in to my iaStor.sys driver.  This is an Intel Storage driver, vital to system operation.  I believe that because this was a Windows 7 machine, it was unable to successfully hijack this file (the virus was probably written to hijack XP machines).  I found the lone infected file by pulling the drive out of the laptop and using a separate computer running Nod32 to scan the entire drive,  and replaced the infected file with a good copy I had in my archives.  The really strange thing about it was the good file and infected file were the same exact size, but the infected file no longer had the Intel signature and had a different MD5 hash then the good file.  The virus obviously tried to re-write some part of my storage driver… who knows what though.

Nod32 identified it as Olmarik.pv which from what I can tell is a pretty new strain.

To bring this story back to it’s point, a fully updated system, running Firefox still caught an infection thanks to shitty ass Java.  So, do yourself a favor out there RIGHT NOW.  Disable Java.

Tools -> Options -> Content

Un-check Enable Java:

disablejava

The nice part about this is that if you do end up on a site that you TRUST and need to enable it, you can simple check the box again and reload the page and it will work.  You don’t have to restart your browser.  Just be sure to disable it again after you’re done to keep your browser safe!

I have made this change on all of my machines and I strongly encourage you to as well!

Windows 7 Crippling, On The Big Screen

windows7sins_(3)_270x390

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Microsoft was artificially crippling “lesser” versions of Windows.

Blocking you from running software you have a right to use, simply because you didn’t buy their more expensive version.

Well, it looks like the Free Software Foundation is launching an attack against Microsoft, pointing out just that…

“Microsoft is up to their usual tricks again — only this time, they’re also inserting artificial restrictions into the operating system itself. While not the first time they’ve done this, this is the first release of Windows that can magically remove limitations instantly upon purchasing a more expensive version from Microsoft.”

I for one am glad to see this.  This mentality over at Microsoft of “we wrote your OS, so we control everything on your computer” needs to stop.  Unfortunately Microsoft has done this shit since the early days of Windows… they always want to control what you can and can’t do on your own machine and it seems like a constant fight with Microsoft and Windows just to be able to do what you want on your machine.

They’re pushing Linux based software of course, and I wouldn’t be opposed to switching to such a platform if it weren’t for one major issue, which is gaming.  A lot of my home PC use is gaming, of which almost none of the modern games run on Linux platforms.

Maybe in time Linux will mature enough and get a large enough market share that developers will pay more attention to it.  If this would happen we could finally switch off of Microsoft and their bullshit strangle hold on our machines.

Why is Windows 7 Media Player So Ugly?

I’ve been using Windows 7 for a few weeks now, and it’s alright I guess.  It would’ve more appropriately been named Windows Vista SE (Second Edition) though.  It does not feel like a new OS.  It feels like Vista SE.

While a lot of changes are good, there are some changes that just make me go “WTF?”

One such WTF change is the new Windows Media Player.  It’s freaking BUTT UGLY in Windows 7.  I mean it looks like Microsoft just completely forgot to develop any kind of skin for it.  I am completely dumbfounded by this.

First, lets look at Windows Media Player in Vista…

pretty

Nice pretty transparencies, a nice defined playback window.

Now lets look at Windows Media Player in Windows 7…

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Vista and 7: Easily Disable Ease of Access

Ease of Access on the login screen was always something I disabled on my Vista machines… and of course Windows 7 hasn’t added any built-in option to disable this useless and annoying feature, so I’m here to show you how.  As far as I know you can’t remove the button, but you can disable it.

I call it useless and annoying because it is… it allows people to mess with YOUR computer settings even when your machine is LOCKED!  The entire point of locking your machines is so people CAN’T mess with it.

All you need to do is replace 1 executable file it is:

c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe

This file is what controls the pop up when you click the Ease of Access button.

I have taken a replacement file from an older version of Ease of Access Disabler.  This was a useful utility in it’s earlier versions, but the new version throws a bunch of shit-ads on your screen for their site, and if there is something I really can’t stand, it’s ads on MY computer.

So here you go…

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Windows 7 Home: Your very own crippled OS!

With Windows 7 RTM hitting official Microsoft channels, I figured I’d load up the final version of Windows 7 and check it out.  I’ve commented in the past about being completely unimpressed with 7 and for the most part, that is holding true, with some added hatred for the big-wigs over at Microsoft for arbitrarily deciding what I should be allowed to run on MY machine.

I upgraded from Vista Home Premium to 7 Home Premium.  The upgrade process itslef took around 3 hours, but it did go off with out a hitch.  I was happy for the most part, until I went to fire up one of my virtual machines in Virtual PC 2007.

This is when my joy turned to pure black hatred for 7 and all it represents.  It is a step backwards in technology.  It is Big Brother watching over your every single move tell you what you can an can not do.

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