Lego Mindstorm NXT on Windows 7

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Lego MindStorm NXT v1.1 fails to see your RAM when installing on Windows 7.  Below is an image of the error I get on a 2.4Ghz QuadCore, 4GB RAM system with TerraBytes of hard drive space:

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“Your system does not have enough memory to run LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.  LEGO MINSTORMS NXT requires 256MB of RAM or more.

For more details see your LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT documentation or visit www.MINDSTORMS.com/support

If there’s any doubt, here’s a snapshot of my System information:

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I clicked “OK” on the “NXT Install Notice!” dialog box and it installed anyway.

A second window comes up:

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“The version of Windows on your system does not meet the requirements of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.

LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT requires Windows XP with at least Service Pack 2.

For more details see your LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT documentation or visit  www.MINDSTORMS.com/support

Well, I’ve got 16 times as much RAM as what it needs.  After clicking “OK”, it went through the install anyway.  I did have the Berkely BOINC software running utilizing most of my CPU and probably most of my RAM.  I snoozed it but still got the error.  Task Manager shows well over 1GB of RAM free.

It appears that it installed anyway.

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I’ll report back later by adding a link to the bottom of this story with my experience in using this cool product.  I bought this for my kids for Christmas of 2008, but have never used it.  It’s now February 2010 and I’m finally getting around to actually messing with it.  Sadly, since then, they’ve come out with Mindstorms NXT 2.0 hardware.  I do not yet have that.

So, check back for links below this paragraph for tips and stuff.

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TomTom Homer Simpson Voice

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Many TomTom GPS navigation systems (like the TomTom Go 630) let you download celebrity voices to replace the built-in, generic voice.  I recently purchased and installed the Homer Simpson voice and will provide a review here.

Price: Celebrity voices range in price from about $5 to about $15.  Homer is $13.  I held back on paying for any voices, but my kids really really wanted to hear Homer tell me how to get to the Krispy Kreme donut shop (which he successfully did yesterday).

Novelty: You can listen to a sample of Homer’s GPS voice here.  It is pretty funny, but the novelty wears off quickly.  It’s fun though using Homer’s voice with new people in the car that haven’t heard it.

Installation: Installation is simple (assuming you have room on your device).  Assuming you’ve already installed the TomTom Home software on your computer, Just plug your TomTom up to your computer, which starts TomTom Home.

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From there, click on “Add Traffic, Voices, Safety Cameras, etc.”.

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From there:

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Click “Voices”, then “Recorded Voices”:

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You can browse their whole catalog of voices from Anthony Hopkins to Homer Simpson.  Click, buy, download.

Once installed onto your TomTom, you’ll have to activate that voice.  Follow the proper procedures for disconnecting your TomTom from your computer (you don’t want to disconnect it while it’s in the middle of a download!!!).  Once disconnected, tap the map on your TomTom touchscreen, choose “Options”, then “Voices”.  You should be able to find your Homer Simpson voice.

Enjoy!

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How to speed up an old computer

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Short and quick answer:

Toss it and buy a new one.

Medium effort answer:

Take it to your local computer expert, pay them a decent fee for their knowledge and efforts to fix it up.  They may recommend some minimal hardware upgrades too.  Pay for these upgrades (hardware cost plus service fee for the guy upgrading it).

The long, do-it-yourself answer:  (Be honest, do you know enough to perform hardware upgrades or sophisticated software configuration changes????)

I’m frequently asked by family and friends what can be done about speeding up an old computer, but in a cost effective manner.  The answer to this question (when cost is considered) changes over time because the price of software and hardware components change at difference rates.  Also, each individual’s time is also worth a different dollar value.  If you make a decent amount of money, seriously, don’t waste your time.  Pay someone else to do it for you.

If your time isn’t worth much or if you insist on doing it yourself, in spite of being able to afford the cost of someone else doing it for you, then here’s what I recommend:

For the last few years, (~2007 through now (2010) and for the foreseeable future) I recommend the following:

  • How old is your computer?  If it’s more than 5 years old, it’s probably not worth the time, effort, and cost to fix it.  My recommendation is to save yourself the trouble with minimal payoff and just buy a new (or a newer used computer).  You can keep your old computer as an emergency backup or just give it to a school or charity (wipe your hard drive clean before doing this!!!!!)
  • If it’s still somewhat modern, then you can upgrade some of it.  Here’s what I consider the bare minimum of worthwhile for an upgrading effort:
    • A CPU that’s at least 2Ghz fast.
    • A motherboard that can accept 4GB of RAM (or more), but has much less at the moment. (read on to find out how to know.)
  • Assuming you have a computer that fits the bare minimum upgrade worthiness, here’s what you need to do:
RAM

Max out your computer’s memory (don’t confuse memory with hard drive space!!!!!!!!!!!!).  As you’re using your computer, every time you run a program, that program has to be copied from your hard drive into your RAM, plus any data files you load must also be copied from the hard drive into the computer’s memory so that the program you’re running can use the data.  Your O/S (operating system) (Windows, Mac OS/x, Linux, or whatever you’re using) has already been loaded into memory, and so have dozens of other processes that you’re unaware of.  They all occupy memory space, PLUS they all consume extra memory while they’re working.  This memory runs out quickly.  When this happens, your OS stops everything for a moment, copies a big chunk of it out to your hard drive, then loads another chunk back in from your hard drive, to work with THAT.  You’ll notice this slow down as your hard drive light starts flashing and you’ll hear crunching and churning sounds coming from your computer as everything slows way down.  The more memory your computer has, the less often it needs to do this.

More memory doesn’t really speed up your computer, it results in your computer spending less time slowing itself down.  OK, OK!  Let’s call it a “speed up”.

memory used to be very expensive, but today, it’s dirt cheap.  Put the maximum amount of memory in your computer that your computer is capable of taking.  The next obvious question is:  How much memory can your computer take and what type of memory?  Well, it’s different for every computer, but there’s an easy way to find out.  Go to memory.com, crucial.com, or kingston.com.  All of them know about virtually every computer ever made.  You just fill out a simple form telling it the make and model of your computer and it will tell you the maximum amount of memory your computer can take AND type TYPE of memory your computer can take.  You can even purchase that memory right there on their site.

What about the memory your computer already has?  Whatever your computer already has, it likely will need to be pulled out and replaced.  In most cases, it’s not the highest capacity per memory module available.  You’ll have to remove it to make room for the higher capacity memory you’ll be buying.  You can try to sell it on ebay or Craig’s list, but old memory isn’t worth much.  You might be better off just donating it to a local school or charitable organization that might be able to use it and they’re usually at least 5 years behind the times with their technology.  Be sure to get a receipt for the give-away so you can write it off on your taxes!!!!

Processor (CPU)

Most computers these days don’t have a motherboard in them that can take a newer CPU, but if yours does, upgrading your CPU will give it extra horsepower.  Contact your computer maker to see if this is possible and to find out WHICH CPU(s) your computer can be upgraded to.  This may not be cost effective because in most cases where it can be upgraded, it’s usually limited to only a slightly faster CPU and won’t make much of a noticeable difference.  Consult your local guru to find out if it’s much of a speed difference.

Hard Drive

Hard drive technology has been the fastest advancing technology in the last 5 or so years (this article was written in February 2010).  5 years ago, a 100GB hard drive was about as big as you could get and it was a couple hundred dollars.  Today, only 5 years later, it’s hard to find a hard drive that small.  You can now get a 2.5TB (or 2,500GB) hard drive for about the same price AND today’s hard drives are MUCH faster than those of 5 years ago.

A 5 year old computer won’t likely support the latest type of hard drive (SATA… called Serial ATA).  5 years ago, the standard in hard drives was called ATA and those drives used a different kind of data plug and a different kind of power plug.  Newer SATA drives may not work in your old computer.  Contact your computer maker to find out what kind of drives are supported AND find out what the maximum size drive your old computer will support.  No point in buying a 2.5TB hard drive if your computer can’t use anything more than 500GB.

If your computer has an unused, internal expansion slot (most computers have 2 or more), you may be able to get a SATA expansion card, THEN you can plug in the latest and greatest hard drives.

A side note on purchasing decisions for hard drives:  Always wait until the last possible moment to upgrade your hard drive (just before you run out of space or just until you need it) because the longer you wait, the cheaper the drives are and the bigger they are.

Quite honestly though, upgrading your hard drive won’t give you much of a noticeable difference in speed.  Defragmenting your old drive will have a much greater impact.  Of course, a newer hard drive will be faster than defragmenting your old one, because it’s bother faster AND already defragmented, but the speed difference between a new, unfragmented drive and an old defragmented drive won’t be much.  It’s probably not worth the cost of the new drive and the aggravation of installing it.  If you need the extra space, then by all means, upgrade the drive (or just buy an external USB drive… It’s much less effort if all you need is more space).

Windows Upgrade

Upgrading Windows in most cases will NOT speed up your computer.  Usually, newer versions of Windows need more and more memory, which will just slow you down on an older computer.  However, reinstalling your existing Windows will greatly improve the speed of your computer.  This is because the more you use your computer, the more junk and broken software you’ll have on it and this slows down your system.  A fresh install makes a big difference.  But, this comes at a cost of your time and patience.  You’ll need to make sure you’ve got the original installation media AND the Windows activation key.  You’ll need to back up your data.  Also, you’ll have to reinstall EVERY program you intent to use, so make sure you’ve got the install media for ALL of your software AND all of the CD keys and serial numbers and such they all need for installation and activation.  ALSO, some software you have is likely just an UPGRADE of an older version and you may need the OLDER version too.  Make sure you’ve got your ducks (or discs) in a row before you head down this path.

64bit vs. 32bit.

If you’re going to upgrade Windows, you may want to go ahead and make the switch from 32bit to 64bit.  Be careful though, if you use OLD software, some of it may have problems or not work at all on 64bit.  Newer software shouldn’t have any problems with 64bit Windows.

Why 64bit?  If you have 4 GB or more of memory, 32bit Windows simply can’t make use of it all.  64bit Windows can use it all.  Also, 64bit might be a tad bit faster in some situations.  Of course, having access to more memory means less hard drive thrashing, but 64 bit code is generally a tad bit faster.  This tiny speed bump is not likely noticeable, but the extra memory speed bump may be.  Switching from 32 bit Windows to 64 bit Windows means you’ll have to purchase a 64 bit version of Windows.  It also means a FRESH install, so again, with the warnings in the section above of upgrading and getting all your software installation media ready applies here too.

To sum it up:
  • The best bang for your buck is maximizing your RAM.
  • If you’re not going to install a fresh copy of your existing Windows or if you’re not going to upgrade to 64 bit Windows, then at least defragment your hard drive.
  • Upgrading your CPU, if it’s even possible, may not produce much of a noticeable speed up and will usually cost more than it’s worth.
  • Your time and effort may be better served by getting a newer computer.  The older your computer is, the less likely it’s capable of receiving newer equipment and just becomes a burden.  Don’t waste time putting leather seats and new tires on a Pinto if you can get a Jaguar for just a few dollars more.
Security

One final note:  Windows XP is ancient history, in spite of the fact that most people are still running Windows XP.  Microsoft will NOT be supporting this operating system soon.  Additionally, we’re TWO generations beyond that version.  Don’t be taken in by the old adage “Well, it worked 5 years ago and it’ll work now.”  One critically important thing you’re forgetting:  Hackers know MORE today than they did 5 years ago about Windows XP and they KNOW HOW TO BREAK INTO YOUR WINDOWS XP COMPUTER!!!!!!!  If you’re going to access the internet from your old computer, then for the love of all that is decent, UPGRADE TO AT LEAST WINDOWS VISTA and preferably, to Windows 7 (for security and performance reasons, NOT for usability reasons).  Microsoft will continue supporting Windows Vista and Windows 7 for many years to come and will continue providing security updates for them.

Internet Explorer:

DO NOT USE INTERNET EXPLORER 6.0!!!! or anything older.  You MUST upgrade to at least IE7.  IE8 is the current version as of this writing.  If you run IE6, you’re essentially shining a spotlight on the clouds with a sign reading, “Please hack my computer, it’s wide open!”.  I recommend against using Internet Explorer at all (any version).  My recommendation is the latest version of FireFox.

Realistic Sum Up:

When you take into consideration the realistic security concerns, the bare minimum you should consider running on today’s internet is:

  • Windows Vista 32 bit (I recommend whatever the latest version of Windows is and a 64 bit version of it)
  • Internet Explorer 7 (I recommend whatever the latest version of IE is, or even better, the latest version of FireFox)

The minimum hardware you need for Windows Vista and IE7 without significant slow down is:

  • 2Ghz or faster processor.
  • 2 GB RAM.  (I recommend maxing out your memory).
  • 100GB hard drive, defragmented, with at least a dozen or more GB free. (Bigger drives are better but won’t speed anything up.)

So, in spite of the fact that you can upgrade your old computer to speed it up, if you can’t upgrade it to at least the specs listed just above, I strongly recommend avoiding the temptation to upgrade your computer and just buy something new (or something newer).  The cost in the long run will actually be lower and your stress levels now and in the future will be much lower.  You don’t need the heart ache of someone hacking your computer and the problems in your offline life it will make and you don’t need the repeated virus infections you’re sure to get running less secure versions of Windows and Internet Explorer.

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Windows 7 Tips, Tricks, and Notes

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Tap&Go PayPass – Avoid it like the plague

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If you get one of these things from your credit card provider (mine was from my BestBuy MasterCard), destroy it IMMEDIATELY!!!!  Call them up (using the number on the back of your credit card, NOT the “activation” number on the Tap&Go; sticker) and tell them to cancel the Tap&Go; PayPass chip ASAP and make sure it NEVER gets activated on your account, then destroy it again!

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This is the WORST piece of bad security ever pushed on the public.  Here’s how Tap&Go; works:

  • You’re making a purchase at a retailer that supports the technology.
  • You have the sticker (which has a micro-chip in it) on the back of your cell phone (for convenience only).
  • You tap the retailer’s Tap&Go; pad, which automatically sends out a wireless, digital signal, which is received by your chip in your sticker, which then confirms the purchase, wirelessly.
  • No signature required.

Sounds convenient, right?  Well sure, but if (uh yah, not “if”, but “when”) a criminal walks past you in the subway, in the mall, on the sidewalk, THEY can then charge up to $50 on your card and you never even took the card out of your wallet!!!

Sure, they claim you’re not liable for any unauthorized charges, but you are required to examine each of your credit card statements for suspicious charges and actively notify your credit card company within a given time limit, otherwise they WILL charge you.

Save yourself the trouble and NEVER activate this.

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Quicken 2010 bugs

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Update 2012-03-03

This is just an online, public bug report about bugs in Quicken 2010. I’m hoping that publishing them will quicken (pardon the pun) Intuit into fixing them.

See also

Here are the bugs I’ve found so far:
  • Upgrade Notification Bug: [added this entry 2012-01-15]  Upon starting Quicken Home & Business 2010, I’m presented with this ugly window that IS NOT RESIZABLE!
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  • Online payments lost: [added this entry on 2011-05-20] Sometimes, as soon as you enter a new, repeating online payment, as soon as you hit save, it goes nowhere.  You have to set it all up again.
  • Online payment amount changed: [added this entry on 2011-05-20] Enter an online payment by entering the amount first, then choose the payee, and it will replace the amount you entered with whatever the last amount was you sent to that payee.  If you don’t notice it, THAT’s the amount of money that’s sent.  This can cost you A LOT!
  • Repeating payment schedule changed: [added this entry on 2011-05-20] While entering a repeating payment, enter the schedule (weekly, every 2 weeks, monthly, etc…) and choose something other than monthly, then mark it as “repeating online payment” and it will CHANGE it to MONTHLY, regardless of what you had before. This can cause you in late fees or it can cost you by sending it out too often by not having enough for your other payments.
  • Super Slow Downloads: [added this entry on 2011-04-16] Ever since an update a few months ago (around the time Quicken 2011 was introduced), Quicken 2010’s download transactions went from mere seconds to several MINUTES.  There are a LOT of complaints about this.  There is speculation that they introduced this bug on purpose to entice people to spend money on Quicken 2011.
    • [Updated 2012-03-03]  I timed it today.  It took ELEVEN MINUTES!!!! on a 50mb/s data connection!  This is completely unacceptable! It’s only downloading data measured in KiloBytes.  There’s no reason for it to take 11 minutes.  In that amount of time, I could download 4.1 BILLION bytes of information… That’s almost 2 DVDs worth.  For comparison, let’s give Quicken the benefit of the doubt and assume that what it downloaded was a full megabyte (that’s a gross over-estimate).  With my data connection, that should take 6.25 seconds… Let’s even grant it a ridiculous 10 seconds of delay for each bank it needs to connect to and another ridiculous 10 seconds for each account.  With my setup, that’s 4 banks and 7 accounts.  So that’s an extra 110 seconds we’re granting to it, plus the 6.25 seconds for the actual 1 megabyte of actual data makes 116.5 seconds as an unreasonably high allowance… about 2 minutes, yet it’s taking it 11 minutes!
  • 1st download NEVER works: [added this entry on 2011-04-16] This goes along with the super slow downloads mentioned above.  At the same moment the slow downloads happened, this new bug happened.  After waiting several minutes on the downloads, it never works and pops up the download window again, forcing you to go through the process a second time.  It’s only after the SECOND download attempt that anything ever gets transmitted.
  • Sometimes, accepting a downloaded transaction causes Quicken 2010 to crash.  First though, when clicking the “Accept” button, the register flickers for about 1000 milliseconds (about 1 full second), then the program crashes (this is on Windows 7 Ultimate with all the latest service updates).  Quicken version = Quicken Home & Business 2010 Release 5.
  • No Sound:  Quicken has several sounds for different events like startup (a short tune), accept transaction (cha-ching), and others.  All of a sudden, Quicken 2009 (yes, 2009) stopped playing sounds.  Yes, the play sounds option is indeed checked and yes, sound works in all other programs (this is not my first time messing with a computer, BTW 🙂  I upgraded to Quicken 2010 at the first of the year.  The upgrade involved uninstalling Quicken 2009, then freshly installing 2010.  The sounds worked… for about a week or two, then they stopped again.
  • File corruption:  This is a serious issue.  EVERY TIME I call Quicken support with a problem, they claim the file is corrupt.  This seems to be their excuse for all bugs in the software.  They want to dismiss any issue as a bug and claim it’s a corrupt file.  Fine, it’s a corrupt file.  Now, fix Quicken so it STOPS CORRUPTING my files!  This has been going on through at least 3 versions of Quicken (2007, 2009, 2010 (I skipped 2008)).  A bug this serious requires a complete rewrite of their file access data layer routines.
  • Renaming Rules: This is quite an annoying bug. I personally do not want Quicken to rename my payees, yet there seems to be NO WAY to prevent Quicken from doing so. I participated in 3 online tech support chats and 2 call-back phone support incidents in the last week. NONE of their suggestions worked AND they refuse to accept that this is a bug. Here’s the problem: When you download transactions using PC Banking, then go and accept your transactions, Quicken will suggest renaming rules… actually, it will DICTATE renaming rules. You cannot tell it “No”. Furthermore, the dialog box that pops up informing you of the new dictatorial renaming rules being forced on you, has a check box that says something like “don’t inform me of renaming rules again”. There are 2 problems with this.
    1. I believe that checking it only causes Quicken to not inform you of new renaming rules, but it’ll still make new renaming rules.
    2. You only have 2 buttons “Apply” and “Cancel”. If you click “Apply”, it’ll apply the rule(s) that it’s showing you. I think that’s the only way to enforce the checkbox for “don’t tell me anymore”. If you click “cancel”, you’re canceling the dialog box and therefore canceling your check box “don’t tell me anymore” which means it’ll continue to tell you. Also, canceling the dialog box does not prevent it from enforcing the rule.
    • This has been a bug since at least Quicken 2007. image
    • I’ve reported this problem at least a dozen times to Quicken support since 2007.  It wasn’t until early to mid 2009 that they finally acknowledged that this was a bug and I was told that this was being fixed.  Well, many Quicken 2009 updates later AND a major new version (2010), this bug still remains.
    • Update (2011-01-29):  After building a new machine, installing Windows 7 Ultimate, and installing Quicken 2010…  Below is my bug report to Intuit:
      • I’m on tech support with Pankaj right now who is directing me to enter the bug report here.  Note that I’ve been reporting this since Quicken 2007 and nothing has been done about it.
      • Bug:  “Renaming Rules” always apply.
      • When installing and setting up Quicken, I told it to NOT use renaming rules (it’s really important that I’m able to distinguish between the different walmart stores I shop at and not have them all renamed to “walmart”, losing all info about WHICH walmart (same for any other chain store with multiple locations).
      • When I downloaded transactions, automatically added them to my register.  Fine.  But after a few weeks of using my fresh install of Quicken 2010, it stopped showing transactions as cleared and my paycheck didn’t show up, so I went to edit->preferences->downloaded transactions.
        I unchecked “Automatically add downloaded transactions to register”.  I did pay VERY CLOSE attention to the 3 check boxes relating to renaming rules.  The 1st and last checkboxes were UNCHECKED and the middle one was checked (but disabled).  I changed nothing relating to renaming rules.  I clicked OK.
      • Immediately, the downloaded transactions showed up in a list at the bottom of the screen (this is good).  When I clicked on the first one and clicked “Accept”, a box popped up “Quicken has created a renaming rule for USAA”?!?!?!?!?  WHY?  This is a BUG!  There was no option to tell it “NO”.  I was on tech support and he told me to click “OK” and that it wouldn’t apply the rule.  We went back into quicken preferences and the 3 check boxes for renaming WERE ALL CHECKED!
      • We unchecked them, clicked OK and went back to the downloaded transactions at the bottom of the screen and accepted the next one which did not pop up with renaming rules.  BUT, with Quicken 2007 AND with my prior machine with Quicken 2010, this always happens again after my next download.
      • Again, I’ve been complaining about this since Quicken 2007 when this feature was introduced.  It’s NEVER worked right for people that doe NOT want renaming rules.
      • Please see my blog post where I discuss this bug as well as many other Quicken 2010 and 2009 bugs:
      • http://csharpner.blogspot.com/2010/02/quicken-2010-bugs.html
      • Check out the comments at the bottom of the blog entry.  Clearly this is a bug that many people have been frustrated with since 2007.
    • Update (2011-05-24):  This bug just reared it’s ugly head again!  I’ve not changed ANY preference, yet I was just prompted for renaming “Wendys”:image
      • Again, there’s no way to tell it no as clicking the “Don’t offer to rename my payees again” and then clicking “cancel” (so that it won’t rename) will ignore my option on the check box, since that’s what “cancel” buttons do.
      • This time, it didn’t force the renaming rule, but it should never have suggested it at all.
      • Here are my renaming preferences as they existed immediately after clicking “cancel” in the dialog above:image
      • And here are the existing rules (there should be NONE!):
      • image

See also

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Windows 7 Classic Start Menu

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The classic start menu doesn’t exist in Windows 7 anymore, but you can get the primary piece of functionality that everyone misses.

For those that don’t know:  In Windows XP, Microsoft introduced an alternative start menu layout and made it the default.  It was funky and didn’t make a lot of sense to advanced users.  But, the “classic” start menu (which is much more productive) was always an option.  In Windows 7, Microsoft decided they wanted to force their preferences on everyone and took away the classic start menu, forcing everyone to be less productive by requiring more mouse clicks, and sometimes adding unnecessary scrolling, to get to a program icon to start a program.  The programs menu is now forced into a constrained, tiny space on the screen.  For amateurs that have very little software installed, this may not be a big deal, but to those of us with dozens of programs installed, it’s a pain in the ass and a reduction in productivity.

Specifically, what we’ll be restoring in this article is the fully expanded programs menu, so you aren’t constrained to that newbie, tiny area for all your programs, like this:

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We can actually get our fully expanded program files menu back so that it looks like this:

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I’ll describe 2 methods of accomplishing this.  One method is a simple configuration change, the other is a free program you can install which provides full classic start menu capability.

First, the free program.  It’s called “Classic Shell” and can be downloaded from here.  Not only is it FREE, but it’s OPEN SOURCE too!  Install this program and you’ll get not just your classic start menu back, but options to get features added back to Windows Explorer that Microsoft ripped out when they dumbed it down for Windows 7.

Here’s an example of one of the skins you can use and of course, it’s an example of the features you get… expanding submenus that aren’t constrained to the tiny newb start menu area.

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YOU’RE WELCOME!

Now, for the non-program solution:

It won’t actually be in the start menu though.  But, since it’s not in the start menu, it actually means you’ll have one less click than what you needed in XP.  Here’s how:

  1. Open your start menu.
  2. Right-click on “All Programs”.image
  3. Choose “Open All Users”.  This opens a Windows Explorer window to your folder that contains all of your installed program icons and folders. image
  4. In the address bar, click in the blank area to the right of “Start Menu”, which will select the full path.
  5. Hit [Ctrl]+[C] to copy the path.
  6. Right-click your task bar, choose “Toolbars”, then “New Toolbar”. image
  7. Click in the empty “Folder:” text entry field and hit [Ctrl]+[V] to paste the path you copied from your start menu window.
  8. Click “Select Folder”.

Now you’ve got a new toolbar on your start menu.  Resize it to its smallest size.  Now, when you click it, viola!  You’ve got your old, fully expandable, programs menu back… the primary, missing, more productive piece of functionality that the Microsoft UI Nerds took away from us.

You’re welcome!

Here are some related stories:

  • Windows 7 Explorer: Getting the tree view back
  • Get your Quick Launch bar back under Windows 7
  • What’s wrong with Windows 7’s Task Bar (or “Super …
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