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Category: Windows

Hidden “Features”

There’s a trend in modern computing that I don’t understand; hiding features and interactions. Actually, it goes beyond just hiding features to making it difficult to discover or understand what features are available or what is causing things to happen. And honestly, I’m getting kind of sick of it.

Take this gem in Windows 10.

I just upgraded to the Anniversary Edition, build 1607, but this may apply to earlier builds as well.

The biggest outward change for me with AE, is that I can no longer disable the lock screen with a group policy. Given that, I decided, that if I can’t not use it, I might as well customize it a bit.

One of the options you can set on the lock screen is the image. The choices currently are to use; Microsoft’s stream of images, a picture of your own choosing, or a slide show of your own images. I had set a picture, but I thought that a slide show would be kind of interesting. After all I have a number of my own images that I wouldn’t mind seeing there randomly.

Only there’s a big hidden catch. If you turn the slideshow on for the lock screen, instead of turning off your displays after N minutes, it does, but it also would lock the the computer and return to the lock screen. At least that’s what it was doing to me.

Edit: There are advanced configuration options for the slideshow located on a separate screen that you get to by clicking a not-very-link-like-looking text link — this flat UI thing is really starting to be more of a pain than it seems to be worth honestly. In there, there is an option to turn off using the lock screen instead of turning off the displays. Though as long as the slideshow is being used, the computer will lock when it turns off the the displays and you’ll have to re-enter your password.

Rebuilding the Windows System Reserved Partition

I’ve been googling this like crazy for the past couple of days to find out how rebuild a Windows 7 System Reserved partition. So lets start with the back story of why I needed to do this.

A few weeks ago I upgraded my Samsung 840 EVO to a new 850 EVO, and installed the 840 EVO in another computer here. In both cases I used Samsung’s Migration Tool to copy the old drives to the new drives. In both cases, at least so far as I can tell, Samsung’s tool renamed the 100MB System Reserved partition to “Data” and filled it until it had 5MB free. For whatever reason, the file filling the partition is completely invisible.

The problem with this problem, is that while the system works just fine, if you use Window’s image backup utilities (wbadmin), for a drive that’s smaller than 500MB, there must be at least 50MB free. Well in the default configuration from a Windows install, there’s about 70MB free and everything backs up just fine. However, with only 5 MB free, the volume shadow copy can’t be made, and the backup will error out. Backups failing was the symptom that clued me in that the system reserved partition was messed up again.

In any event, I’ve tried a couple of ways to recover this situation without resorting to the most oft given advice of format and reinstall—advice I find simply appalling in almost every situation that it’s given. The first time I had this problem, I just repartitioned the disk so that I had more space on the system reserved partition so it would back up—it also helped that I needed >300MB since I was going to try and convert the computer to boot off UEFI instead of the legacy BIOS.

Hide from Sendto Menu

So the last time I posted I mentioned that you can quickly get to the sendto folder, to say add some shortcuts to it, by typing shell:sendto into the address bar in Explorer or from the Type to Search box in the Windows start menu. Today’s handy tip comes from wanting to remove something from the sendto without making it hugely difficult to recreate it if I so desired.

So to hide something from the sendto menu without deleting it from the sendto folder, simply open up it’s properties (right click -> properties) and check the Hide box. Easy as pie.

Window’s Registry Editor Needs an Address Bar

I don’t use the registry editor all that much, but when I do, I’m almost always going to some specific spot not browsing around the tree. I should be able to type HKLM\blah\blah\blah and have the registry editor open up to that part of the hive right away. Need I say more?

Win 7 and Old Hardware

Windows 7 never ceases to amaze me. I recently brought up a Win 7 Home pro box using, some pretty archaic by modern standards hardware. While not the most stellar performer, it does surf the web well enough and considering that was it’s intended mission I’d say it’s been successful.

Actual specs are:

  • Intel P4 2.4GHz Northwood Core (overclocked to 2.6GHz)
  • Asus P4P800 (865PE chipset) motherboard
    • 3COM 3C940 Giga-e LOM
    • On board ADI AD1985 Audio
    • On board VIA 6309 firewire controller
    • SATA via IHC5R
    • 2 UDMA 133 ports via VIA 6410
  • 1.5GB of DDR RAM in dual channel mode (2x 512MB sticks 2x 256MB sticks)
  • nVidia Geforce FX 5700LE
  • 500GB Western Digital SATA Caviar drive

I was utterly impress that not only did everything work, but everything was detected and worked right out of the box. Even installing to the SATA controller which was always a problem for Windows XP. Though I guess I really shouldn’t be so surprised by 9 years of OS development.

None the less, the real concern was performance. Of which the machine scores a blister, okay not really, 3.2 on the Windows Performance index. The limiting factor actually being the CPU.

I don’t know what I found to be more surprising, the fact that all the old hardware worked under the new OS or that the system is just as usable with more features and better security as XP SP3 was on the same hardware.

Sticky Notes and Strike Through

One of my favorite features in Windows 7 (I skipped vista so it may apply there too) is Sticky Notes, the virtual version of their 3M counterparts. I use them mostly the same way too, which means sometimes I want to strike out a completed task instead of simply deleting it from the note or deleting the note.

The solution to the quandary came from a fellow on twitter. Who knew twitter could be helpful?

In a sticky note, select the text you want to strike out and and press CTRL+T. Bam! Stuck out text and you don’t need a tablet and pen to draw a line though it.