Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Investigate Internet TV in Windows 7 Media Center

Over the holidays, one of the old television sets in my home suffered a catastrophic failure. To maintain the entertainment equilibrium in our household, my wife and I decided to shuffle the remaining sets around and add a big screen HDTV to the mix. While configuring and setting up the new TV, I connected my laptop running Windows 7 to the TV set and began experimenting with Windows Media Center’s Internet TV component.

I discovered that it was a really neat feature and provided a very nice way to access all sorts of streaming media from the Internet. As I began espousing the features of Internet TV component to my friends and family, I also discovered that not many people were familiar with this feature of Windows Media Center. In fact, most folks that I talked to assumed that in order to take advantage of Windows Media Center you must have a TV tuner card installed in your system. However that’s not the case.

In the Windows 7 (Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate) version of Windows Media Center, the enhanced Internet TV lets you watch videos from a variety of providers via the Internet right in Windows Media Center. This new version of Internet TV features enhancements to the UI and now provides more content from a variety of content providers, such as CBS, MSNBC, MSN, Zune, and more. Read more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Peek behind the GodMode curtains to reveal useful canonical names and GUIDs

In last week’s blog post, “Exert Your Control with GodMode Folders in Windows 7,” I discussed a few of the so-called “GodMode” folders in Windows 7. As I mentioned in that post, Windows 7’s GodMode folders are simply special folders that are hidden until you enter a special, secret code.

Well, it turns out that the latter part of that sentence is only half true. The special folders are indeed hidden until you enter a special code, but the codes aren’t really secret.

Apparently all Windows 7 and Windows Vista Control Panel items have what is called a canonical name and an associated GUID (the infamous “special codes”). In this context, Microsoft describes a canonical name as being a nonlocalized string that the Control Panel item declares in the registry. A GUID, or Globally Unique Identifier, is a special type of identifier that is unique in any context, which Microsoft uses to provide an internal access point to Control Panel items.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I’ll discuss the Control Panel canonical names in more detail and show you how to use them to create shortcuts to your favorite Control Panel items. I’ll then present the text file and script and show you how to use them. That way you can instantly create these canonical name shortcuts on your Windows 7 system and be able to easily conduct your own investigation to discern which of these shortcuts will be helpful to you and delete those that won’t. What could be easier

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exert your control with GodMode folders in Windows 7

Over the past week or so, I have read a lot about the so-called “GodMode” folders in Windows 7. Chances are that you have too. While the term originated in video games, such as Doom from id Software, where entering a special code makes a player’s character invincible, it has been applied to certain special, undocumented folders in Windows 7.

When playing a video game in GodMode, you are guaranteed to win because no matter how powerful the nemesis, you cannot be killed. So, you might wonder, does that mean that when working in a “GodMode” folder in Windows 7 you can do whatever you want without fear of crashing or locking up the operating system? Unfortunately, no, it does not.

All kidding aside, Windows 7’s GodMode folders are simply special folders that are hidden until you enter a special, secret code. The fact that you have to enter a secret code is more likely the source of these folders being called “GodMode” folders. Read more.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Explore new desktop backgrounds and themes in Windows 7

No matter how serious of a Microsoft Windows user you consider yourself to be, you’ve got to admit that you’ve played around with wallpapering your desktop, In fact, it’s probably a safe bet to say that ever since Windows 95 came out and provided us with the ability to easily change and create desktop wallpaper, we’ve all been enamored with this feature. Chances are also good that when Microsoft Plus! came out for Windows 95 and provided us with an the Desktop Themes feature, most of us were happily entertained by the fact that not only could we change the desktop wallpaper, but now we could coordinate our entire user interface according to our favorite categorical themes.

My interest in Desktop Backgrounds and Themes has recently been rekindled by several posts on Microsoft’s The Windows Blog site that revolve around this topic. Read more..