Archive for June, 2009

Recover Your Windows Vista Password

My landlord came to me with his wife’s laptop, which is running Windows Vista. She bought it a few months ago and was just getting around to really using it. Trouble is, she forgot what her password was, and was unable to access her Windows profile, and her data.

I remember attempting to reset or remove the Windows password in 2000 and XP, but didn’t succeed and ended up having to format and reinstall Windows just so I could use it again. I did not want to put my landlord through that.

After two hours worth of research, I ran into a few paid-for (shareware) programs, a couple of which were command-line based (DOS). They didn’t work, at least not for me. Windows still asked for a password. Two of them were GUI, so they just have a few checkboxes, and click ‘next’ a few times, then reboot.

The program I found to work, and easily reset the Windows password. It’s called PC Login Now. It’s open-source, so it’s free.

You simply download the ISO file, and use a program such as CD Burner XP Pro to burn the file contained in the ISO to a CD or DVD and it’s bootable, and is able to reset and remove the passwords of Windows accounts.

It’s a tool that’s a must in my computer repair arsenal, and I suggest any computer user do the same.

My View on Subscription Software

I was listening to the latest Windows Weekly podcast over the weekend, and they started talking about how expensive software is, and some possible solutions to the problem.  While I can see the problems subscription software can have, I hate the idea of paying hundreds of dollars for Windows of Microsoft Office.

Software that lasts for 30-90 days trials are no good. The problem is the average computer user realizes it’s a trial version at first, but by the time 90 days hits, they forget and the security software stops working, leaving their computers vulnerable to threats. I think trying software out before you buy it is a fantastic idea, and allows people to get a feel for it and see if they want to continue using it, but 90 days is far too long. Either way, companies like Symantec and McAfee need to make it much more obvious when the software stops working. To their credit, I do like their annual subscription fee after the first year.

No one likes paying hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Office or Windows. Leo Laporte (@leolaporte) and Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) suggested charge a yearly subscription fee instead, say $49. I’m not sure how that would work on multiple licenses, but it’s certainly a much more economical pricing point. Apple isn’t using subscription pricing for Snow Leopard, which comes out later this year, but they’re only charging $29 to upgrade from the Leopard operating system.

Just a thought. Hopefully more people and companies start thinking this way.

My Experience with BitDefender Free Edition

First, let me explain what BitDefender Free Edition does. Simply put, it’s a free anti-virus solution that I’ve heard great things about. I know of a couple of computer geek friends of mine that swear by it. It’s a straight-forward, easy to navigate program that detects and removes viruses and other malware.

I decided to install BitDefender Free Edition on my laptop, which is running Windows 7 RC1. The version of Windows is irrelevant, since it runs fine on it. My issue is with the program itself and the unforgivable headaches involved in downloading and installing it.

Downloading BitDefender Free Edition

When you first go to the BitDefender website. Go to Downloads –> Home/Home Office –> and click the small ‘Free Edition’ link.

Click the big ‘Download’ button, and on the next page, enter the email address you want the link to the program sent to.

Sounds easy so far, doesn’t it? The headaches are next. They make it very easy to find it on their website, but not easy at all to download or install.

In your e-mail account, you’ll find the link to download BitDefender Free Edition. What you’ll find out is that it’s simply a mini-version of the program that will proceed to attempt to download the full program once you try and install it. However, when it tried to download the full program, it couldn’t.

I found myself having to do a Google search for ‘BitDefender Free Edition’, and downloading the full program from Softpedia.com.

Installing BitDefender Free Edition

After downloading it from Softpedia, it installed just fine, no hiccups or anything. However, the program proceeds to force the user to register an account with BitDefender, at which point they will send an activation e-mail to the e-mail account you registered with.

Ok, at this point the program is installed, registered, and activated. Finally. The next annoyance is that from now on, whenever I reboot the computer, I get nagged with a screen compelling me to buy the paid version of the software.

I guarantee that an average user will not go through all of these steps to use the product, free or not. It’s too much hassle and too time consuming. I doubt even a power user would go through all of this. The only reason I did was because I wanted the experience.

Get your act together, BitDefender. If you’re going to offer a product, free or not, at least make it so your users actually want to use it. Make the process simple.

I will say it’s a fantastic product, and I mean that, but it’s not worth all that trouble.

An Exciting Week Ahead

I have spent the last month looking for work. There’s not a lot available, and the work is that available requires experience, or is in the retail sector, of which I want nothing to do with. I worked in that industry for almost a year, that was enough. I’ve been looking into journalism work, technology work…nothing is available. So, I got desperate, I applied to do manual labour, but found that there’s not a lot of that available either, at least not that I could find. Finally, work started to appear.

I saw a red ‘Nerds On Site’ beetle in downtown Lethbridge, and decided to contact them. I was kicking myself for not thinking of them earlier. Anyway, they setup an online interview on Tuesday night, at which point I should know if I’m hired or not. I had an interview with a small construction company today, who said I’m hired things don’t work out with ‘Nerds’ by Wednesday. I’ve applied to a few other positions as a ‘Plan B’ of sorts. Things are finally starting to look up. It’s a good thing too, or I’d have been forced to move back home for a while. Not cool. If I go home, I want it to be a visit, not to move back.

I’m truly excited for Nerds On Site. Basically, they help you build a small computer repair company of your own, while at the same time relying on other ‘Nerds’ for help with issues and to learn, which is obviously a never-ending thing. I hope to eventually be able to work either afternoons and evenings, since I figure most people are home and having computer issues at those times of day. That, or have a couple of weekdays as my weekend, so I can fit in freelance journalist work on the side.

Another huge benefit to working is having a predictable schedule, and of course an income coming in, so I can start hanging out with friends a lot more then I have been, which is something I desperately want. I miss my college friends! I’ll be thrilled when I can finally book a weekend to go to Fort MacLeod, too, to see one of my best friends, Debbie, and her family. Something I’ll be able to do once I have a predictable schedule.

So, all in all, it looks to be an exciting week, which is a big reason I’m having trouble sleeping tonight.


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