This week, someone emailed me with a question about how to set the date format in Microsoft Money 2005.Continue reading Setting the date format in Microsoft Money 2005
Over the last couple of months I’ve been considering buying a TV to also use as a PC monitor. I’ve been surprised to find relatively very little information online about it so here’s what I’ve discovered and my experiences so far.
My experience has been great, so far.Continue reading Using a 4K ultra HD TV as a PC monitor
Unfortunately, Timeline hasn’t worked for me since the upgrade. But today I fixed it.
What is Timeline?
Timeline lets you see a list of all the documents and applications (that support Timeline) going back about a month. The idea is that this feature should make it easier to find documents you’ve been working on.
The problem I had was that after the upgrade (which only took about 30 minutes) it didn’t work. All I saw was a list of the virtual desktops I had (which is usually two), the currently open applications, and then a message saying that I needed to use my PC more before timeline would start showing me results.
How I fixed it
This is the combination of things that I did to fix it.
Note that my user account is a Microsoft account, not a local PC account.
Settings > Activity history
The first thing was to make sure Windows was collecting my activities.
- Open Settings
- Go to Activity history
- Make sure Let Windows collect my activities from this PC is checked.
- Make sure Let Windows synchronise my activities from this PC to the cloud is checked.
- Make sure the Microsoft accounts you want synchronised are set to On.
I next checked that the following Windows Registry settings were present in the following registry location:
Make sure these are all
DWORD 32-bit Value entries set to
To start RegEdit press Win + R and type
regedit and click OK.
Restart the PC
Some people have recommended that at this point you should restart your PC to let these settings take effect. Note, not just restart but switch off, wait a few seconds and then switch it back on.
That didn’t work for me.
Create a local user account
It wasn’t until I did the following that Windows suddenly started the Timeline feature. I’m not sure why but this, in combination with the steps above, got it started.
- Open Settings.
- Go to Accounts.
- Select Family & other people from the options on the left.
- Under Other people click Add someone else to this PC.
- In the pop-up window select I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.
- Click on the link Add a user without a Microsoft account.
- Enter a new username and password. Then select three security questions and answers. Finally click Next.
- Once your account has been set up. Switch off the PC.
- Switch the PC back on and now log in with your new local username.
- Wait for Windows to set up your account for first use, then check the Timeline (Win + Tab). It should be working. Browse a few pages in Microsoft Edge just to make sure.
- Log off and now log on with your standard Microsoft account.
- Once the account has loaded, Timeline should now be working.
I offer this in the hope that it may help someone in a similar situation to mine. Good luck!
About two months ago, I reinstalled Windows 10 on both my desktop and laptop computers. This post is about what I do to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.
Something I have done for years (since Windows 98) is to store most of my installation files in a directory.
I store mostly drivers, plus applications that are either rare or that I have purchased. I don’t store applications that update regularly (e.g. web browsers, WinSCP, IrfanView, etc.).
Within my installation directory I organise the files into sub-categories, like this:
This allows me to find drivers and applications more easily. It’s also roughly how I organise the installed applications on my Windows start screen:
I store these files on a separate hard drive from the one that I install Windows on; I always install Windows on its own drive. This allows me to quickly reinstall Windows without worrying about overwriting the installation files.
I also backup these files to an external hard drive. I currently use a 2TB Seagate Backup Plus drive (USB 3.0).
For each computer, I have created a separate Trello board to guide me through the installation process.
I have boards for my desktop and laptop computers, plus my work computer. I also do the same for my Android smartphone.
Each board outlines my backup routine for each computer, any applications or services that I need to uninstall or deactivate before the reinstall, and then for each driver or application I record the steps I need to take, options to select, or any problems that I’ve encountered, etc.
The first few columns on each board outline the order in which I like to install things: drivers first then essential system applications. Within each column, again the arrangement of cards shows me the order that applications need to be installed, e.g. motherboard drivers, graphics card drivers then Windows updates.
I use images on some cards to make it quicker to identify them.
And as you may suspect, the column names on these Trello board match one-to-one the sub-directory names in my installation folder.
I then use Trello labels to track the status of each driver or application. I can see at a glance which applications I regard as essential and which I install only the first time I require them.
I use red labels to indicate any problems; purple labels tell me whether I need a reboot after installation; navy labels indicate work-related applications; and light blue labels give me a clue as to where to find them.
The last piece of the puzzle is where I keep any registration or serial keys. I store these in my encrypted password safe, SafeInCloud.
Since moving to this workflow, I have found the process to be very straightforward. I can track everything using my smartphone using the Android apps for Trello and SafeInCloud, and I can easily record any problems or lessons learned meaning that each time I do this it gets easier each time.
Do you have any top tips for reinstalling your computer?
It never rains but it pours, so the saying goes. On top of a chest, throat and ear infection and general exhaustion (more on that, perhaps, in a future post) my desktop PC has now started to play up. It’s time for some PC ‘forgiveness’, reformat the C drive and start again.
With most other versions of Windows that I’ve used (98 second edition, XP, 7, 8 and 8.1) I have performed a full ‘factory reset’, a clean install of Windows, every nine to twelve months.
For me though, Windows 10 has been the most stable version of Windows to date—at least, this side of Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. I have had very few issues with it, and until last week very few blue screens of death: fatal system error messages that suddenly bring your workflow to a crashing halt.
So, when my PC started acting up a few weeks back I reached for both my trusty Trello board that documents for me what software I have installed, what order things need to be installed, and notes about any installation woes, and my external hard drive to check that everything was backed up okay.
Then my external hard drive died.
I have extracted the 3.5″ SATA hard drive from the enclosure to check if the drive itself has failed or just the power supply. But in the meantime I ordered myself a Seagate Backup Plus Slim portable drive (2TB USB 3.0) and have spent the weekend progressively backing up everything: drivers, application files, game progressive backups, music, videos and photos.
As I write this, I’m currently virus-scanning the backup on my laptop to ensure data integrity.
Once that is done I can start the reinstall.
Here’s my general order of doing things:
- Reformat the hard drive(s).
- Install Windows 10.
- Motherboard drivers (including chipset driver, Intel management engine interface, network card, and diagnostic tools).
- Graphics card drivers.
- Windows 10 updates.
- Google Chrome.
- .NET Framework.
- Soundcard drivers.
- Keyboard drivers.
- Mouse drivers.
- Webcam drivers.
- Scanner drivers.
- Laser printer drivers.
- Gamepad drivers.
- Install software…
I generally start with a few system tools and accessories before moving on to the bigger guns like office applications and graphics, multimedia, web development, and lastly games.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot from Koroush Ghazi’s TweakGuides tweaking companion documents. But Windows 10 is the most complete Windows operating system that I’ve used to date. I now have to make very few, if any, tweaks at all.
I still rely on the following applications to give me additional functionality:
- Agent Ransack
I use this instead of the default Windows search. It’s much faster and more configurable.
This makes windows snap together and to the edge of the screen, as though they are magnetic.
F.lux adjusts the colour of my monitor depending on the time of day. It helps me sleep better at night by reducing the blue light in the evening, which is what keeps you awake.
- Pixel Ruler
This allows you to measure stuff on your screen, in pixels.
- PrintFolder Pro (paid)
This allows me to list folders within a directory. It can be really useful.
This converts any text on the clipboard to plain text, removing all formatting. It’s the quick equivalent to pasting something into Notepad, then selecting all and copying it back to the clipboard.
- TED Notepad
This is my Notepad replacement of choice. It has some really nice features like sorting, case changing, trimming spaces, etc.
- TreeSize Free
This is really useful for checking the size of directories, say for backing up or pre-zipping.
- WinSplit Revolution
This has been discontinued, but I still use the old version. It allows me to quickly move windows around my desktop, for example, align two windows side-by-side, or one to be one-third and the other two-thirds.
I’ll see you on the other side (unless I blog before then from my laptop).