Saturday, January 31, 2009

How do I … tweak Windows Explorer to open in a directory of my choosing?

The directory/folder metaphor employed by Windows XP to organize files on a hard drive fits well with my natural tendency of hierarchical organization. My thinking pattern follows the general > less general > specific > most specific framework. So there are times when I want to see a particular folder hierarchy laid out before me in Windows Explorer.
Tweak the displayed folder
The default display for Windows XP Explorer is to show the My Documents folder with all of its subfolders expanded and ready to be selected (Figure A).
There is nothing wrong with this view, but I don’t always want to open Windows Explorer in the My Documents folder. I have access to, and the need to use, several different network folders during the course of a day. With a small tweak of the Windows Explorer Properties settings you can change which folder gets displayed and how that display is revealed.
Figure A
Figure B
To get to the Windows Explorer Properties dialog box, right-click the Windows Explorer shortcut. You can copy the shortcut in the Start Menu to your Desktop to make it easier to work with. I like to have several Windows Explorer shortcuts in my toolbar for easy access — each going to a different place. When you right-click and go to Properties and click the Shortcut tab, you should see a screen similar to Figure B.
To change the Windows Explorer shortcut to open a specific folder of your choosing, change the Target box to read:
c:\windows\EXPLORER.EXE /n, /e, X:\Folder of my choosing
For example, the blog posts I write or edit are saved on a network drive (U) in a folder I have dubbed Working Folder. The Target box for this shortcut looks like this:
c:\windows\EXPLORER.EXE /n, /e, u:\working folder

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cleaning A Laptop

Before attempting to clean your laptop, read the User’s Manual to learn what the recommended procedure for cleaning your particular laptop is. Most laptop manufacturer’s recommend thoroughly cleaning a laptop once a year but frequent travelers may wish to clean their laptop more often. When cleaning a laptop computer do not use any harsh cleaning agents or those which contain ammonia in them on any part of the laptop.

Dirt that can build up inside and on your laptop computer includes pet hair and dander, dust, cigarette ashes and residue. This dirt can mar your display, affect the performance of the fans and block or cause problems with I/O ports.

You’ll need the following to clean your laptop computer:

* Compressed Air
* Cotton swabs
* Cleaning solution
* Soft cleaning cloth such as a cotton t-shirt.


* Use a soft damp cloth such as an old cotton t-shirt to clean the casing.
* Do not use a scratchy or abrasive cleaning cloth.
* Don’t use harsh cleaning products.
* Never spray any cleaning solution directly onto the casing - spray onto a cloth first.


* Use a can of compressed air to clean the cooling vents.
* Be careful with the compressed air that you don’t spray too hard and get liquid on the fan blades.
* Use cotton swabs to hold fans in place while you clean them.
* Spraying directly on the fan and making them spin could cause them to over spin.


* After the vents are cleaned, move to the I/O Ports.
* Use cotton swabs to wipe away large pieces of dirt that have accumulated.
* Compressed air can be used as well to blow the rest of the dirt away.
* Just be careful to not blow dirt into the I/O Ports.


* Turn off the laptop before cleaning the display as you will dirt more easily on the screen.
* Always use a non-abrasive cloth such as a cotton t-shirt.
* Never use paper towels or tissues to clean your display.
* Do not use any ammonia based cleaners on the display - they will leave a film.
* You can purchase monitor cleaning solutions in spray or pre-moistened wipes.
* Always spray on a cloth first then wipe the screen from left to right, top to bottom.
* You can make your own cleaning solution using isopropyl alcohol and water.
* Use one part water and one part isopropyl alcohol.


* In order to keep your keyboard cleaner and prevent keys from sticking or malfunctioning, do your best to keep food and drink away from where you are working.
* Even if you don’t spill something directly on the laptop keyboard, you will get residue on your fingers and transfer that to the keyboard.
* Compressed air can be used on the keyboard to get rid of dirt build-up.
* Read your User’s Manual to learn if the keys can be removed for cleaning.
* Just be sure that you put the keys back in their proper place when you are done cleaning them.
* Cotton swabs are useful for cleaning in and around keys.

** Reader Tip**

Plan to set time aside to clean your laptop computer so that you will not be rushed and can do a thorough job. Rushing through cleaning your laptop computer will lead to problems and potential for damage to your laptop computer. You should do a complete cleaning of your laptop on a regular basis to keep it running properly.