Windows 7

Moving to Live Sync

While I was at my in-law’s house over the weekend I wanted to do some work on the PC I just upgraded.  I’ve been using Live Mesh for quite a while and have been happy with it overall.  When I went to the Live Mesh site I saw a note telling me that Live Mesh was being replaced by Live Sync.  Great, time to migrate…

Tonight I downloaded the installer package for Windows Live to install on my two primary systems.  On both systems I deselected most of the options since I really only wanted Live Writer and Live Sync.  When the installer reached the Live Sync portion it notified me that Live Mesh would be removed.  The install continued without error and Live Sync started without a problem.  I activated remote access for both systems then tried to establish a connection.  That’s where the problems started.

Every time I tried to establish a connection it would fail.  I found nothing in the event logs and disabling the firewall didn’t help either.  After a bit of hunting I ran across a forum post (sorry, I lost the link doing the reboot shuffle) that indicated that Live Mesh might not have actually been uninstalled.  I dug around in Program Files (x86) a bit and sure enough, the Live Mesh folder was still there as were all of its contents.

I uninstalled Live Sync from both systems and reinstalled Live Mesh since there was no longer an uninstall option in the Programs and Features Control Panel.  On one system I had to go so far as to disable UAC to reinstall Live Mesh due to an error stating “Product does not support running under an elevated account”  Once Live Mesh was “reinstalled” I was able to uninstall through the Control Panel.  A sanity check of Program Files (x86) showed that Live Mesh had actually been removed this time.

With Live Mesh finally gone I reinstalled Live Sync on both systems and enabled remote access.  I tried testing the remote desktop connection again and it worked like a charm.  I only have one more system to do this on but the lesson has been learned: remove Live Mesh first!


Upgrade Complete

Several months ago I bought a desktop PC primarily for photo and video editing.  It’s a pretty sweet system: 2.5 Ghz quad core, 8 GB DDR2-800, 750 GB HDD, etc… I originally hooked it up to the HDTV in the living room but that didn’t work out all that well since I didn’t have a wireless keyboard or mouse.  I really didn’t use it all that frequently so it just sat there for a while until one day it started rebooting.  A lot.

At first I thought it was just installing updates but then I noticed it was happening too frequently for that to be the case.  After a few days of periodic troubleshooting I narrowed it down to a bad memory module.  I left it at 6 GB and let it run unused for anything but a file server.

A few of the guys at work have been upgrading existing or building new computers and got me thinking again about replacing that dead chip.  It also reminded me that despite the fairly beefy specs the overall experience index was only 3.4.  The rating was being held down by the graphics components coming in at 3.4 and 3.5.  Today I decided to join in the fun of hardware upgrades and not only replace that memory module but pick up a decent video card too.

The new module is a Corsair XMS2.  Adding the memory module went as painlessly as expected.  Pop it in, power up the system, viola – 8 GB.

As for the video card I picked up an XFX Radeon HD 5770 based on a handful of reviews and some friend recommendations.  This installation didn’t go quite as smooth as I’d hoped.  I installed the card without any problems but the drivers were a pain!  Every time I tried to run the installer it would crash.  Google revealed that I wasn’t the only one with the problem either.  I ultimately stumbled upon a post that said I needed to install a Visual C++ redistributable component.  After installing the redistributable the install went on without any problems.

With the upgrades complete I was finally able to rerun the experience index assessment.  I wasn’t expecting to see any boost on the memory rating of 7.2 since I didn’t run the assessment after the module failed but I did expect to see a slight boost with the new video card.  The result was more than I hoped for:

Windows Experience Index

Now the weakest link is the primary hard disk but at 5.9 I’m not complaining.  With the memory is back where it should be and a decent video card in there maybe I’ll start using it a bit more.  Any good game recommendations?

Hot Key Happiness

I use hot keys so frequently that I tend to take them for granted and forget that not everyone uses as many as I do.  Many times when I’m working with a colleague I habitually hit some key sequence that is immediately followed by a quizzical “How’d you do that!?” So, for the benefit of those looking for a few easy productivity enhancers I’m providing this simple list.  Although some well-known key sequences are included this post is in no way intended to be another all-inclusive list but rather just a listing of those that I find most useful from day-to-day.

Windows 7

My primary operating system is Windows 7. With Windows 7 Microsoft was kind enough to give us lots of new hot keys for positioning windows and switching between applications in addition to leaving traditional ones in place.

Window Position/Management

Windows Key + D
Show desktop

Windows Key + P
Change projector/2nd monitor mode (duplicate, extend, etc…)

Windows Key + Up Arrow
Maximize window

Windows Key + Down Arrow
Restore/minimize window

Windows Key + Shift + Right | Left Arrow
Move window to different monitor

Switching Between Applications

Windows Key + [task bar index #]
Start a new instance of the item at the specified index or switch to the active instance if it is already running
Example: Assuming Internet Explorer is the first item on the task bar Windows Key + 1 will open IE.

Windows Key + Shift + [task bar index #]
Force a new instance of the item at the specified index to start

Alt + Shift + Tab
Cycle backwards through task chooser
No, I’m not going to describe the version w/o shift. Also, I hardly ever the alternative Aero Flip (Windows Key + Tab) but sometimes it’s handy. :)

Visual Studio 2010

Although Visual Studio 2010 is now RTM and exposes some nice functionality through hot keys but most of my favorites have been in place for quite some time. A great resource for learning some of the lesser-known (or sometimes rather well-known) is Zain Naboulsi‘s Visual Studio Tips and Tricks blog.

Code Formatting

Ctrl + E, D
Format document

Ctrl + E, F
Format selection

Code Navigation

Go to definition

Shift + F12 (or Ctrl + K, R)
Find all references

Ctrl + K, Ctrl + T
View call hierarchy

Ctrl + G
Go to line

Ctrl + –
Navigate backward

Ctrl + Shift + –
Navigate forward

Ctrl + B, T
Toggle bookmark

Ctrl + B, N
Go to next bookmark

Ctrl + B, P
Go to previous bookmark

Ctrl + B, C
Delete all bookmarks


Ctrl + E, C (or Ctrl + K, C)
Comment line/selection

Ctrl + E, U (or Ctrl + K, U)
Uncomment line/selection


Ctrl + M, Ctrl + H
Hide current selection

Ctrl + M, L
Toggle all outlining

Ctrl + M, M
Toggle outlining expansion


Ctrl + R, R (or F2)
Rename symbol

Ctrl + R, M
Extract method


Toggle breakpoint

Ctrl + Shift + F9
Delete all breakpoints

Ctrl + D, N
Break at function


Shift + Alt + C
Add class to project

Ctrl + E, S (or Ctrl + R, W)
Show/Hide whitespace characters