Posts Tagged utilities

How to create a bootable USB drive

You would think that you would be able to Google the title of this post and easily find a link that would make this possible. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days doing that exact same thing and not finding much in the way of things that actually work. I wanted a bootable usb drive so I could throw ghost and ghostwalk on it and whatever image we wanted to use. It would save me from having to burn a new CD every time I wanted to use a different image, this way I just delete and copy/paste.

What you will need:

  • Boot disk files – you can Google boot disk and get what you need. If you still have a floppy drive in your computer and happen to have a disk laying around you can pop it in, go to my computer -> right-click on the floppy -> format -> and check the box that says create an MS-DOS startup disk.
  • HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool – The weird thing is that I couldn’t even find that on their website. But once again Google comes to the rescue, there are plenty of links to it out there.

What to do:

  1. Open the HP format tool.
  2. Make sure you select the correct drive.
  3. Choose either of the FAT file system options.
  4. Under volume label give the USB drive a name.
  5. Check the box for creating a DOS startup disk and select using dos system files located at:. This is where you either point to your floppy drive if you created a boot disk or to the folder where you downloaded the files to. Tell it to start.
  6. You aren’t quite done yet. Go to my computer and open the location of the startup files that you either downloaded or had windows put on the floppy – copy those and paste them onto the flash drive. DO NOT overwrite any files when prompted.
  7. Done. Now you can use it as is or add more files to it like I did with ghost and ghostwalk.

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Free utilities for tweaking Windows part 2

A few other utilities I got from the PC World article linked to in the previous post are RocketDock and Ultimate Windows Tweaker.

Being the multi-tasker that I am, I found this little tool to be pretty handy along with VirtuaWin. I have a few programs in my quicklaunch bar, but I don’t want to overload that so I use RocketDock for a few more shortcuts that I access on a regular basis. I have it set to auto-hide so that it isn’t always a distraction – it’s only there when I need it.


There are different skins for it that you can use and you can go to their website to download icons, more skins, and docklets. I can’t think of a complaint about this, I’ve been pretty happy with it.

Ultimate Windows Tweaker
This is actually an easier way to adjust things that I posted about in my trimming Vista’s fat post. The three sections of the tweaker that I like the most are the personalization, system performance, and additional options.

In the personalization section you can choose which items will show in the start menu, remove some or all icons that show in the taskbar, change the window padding, along with some other features.

The changes I made in the system performance section have made the biggest difference. In there you can change the time the computer waits for services to shut down, the time it waits to end non-responsive applications, and waiting time to kill applications timeout during shutdown. My computer shuts down MUCH faster now.

Finally, the additional options section just has a few things in there that I changed. You can add some useful options to the context menus for files and folders and drives. Also, being able to remove the arrows from creating shortcuts was nice. Definitely not anything that improved performance, but useful changes for me.

There are a lot of other things you can edit with this. I only highlighted the sections that were the most useful to me.

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Free utilities for tweaking Windows Part 1

I decided to come up with a list a programs I use to maintain my Vista laptop.  I got some from this PC World article and others I found on  Instead of making one massive post I’ll break it up into two or three.

First on my list and the most exciting to me is a cool thing called VirtuaWin.

I use Linux all the time at work, the only time I use Windows is when I have to do some maintenance for those in the office who use it. I fell completely in love with the multiple workspaces that you can use in Linux. I have a separate space for email, another for my browser, and another for whatever else I happen to be playing with or troubleshooting. Having multiple workspaces is absolutely necessary for my job, I do way too many things at once to not need that feature.

I got so excited when I heard from a friend of mine about a nifty little program that allows you to have multiple workspaces in Windows. I then read an article somewhere, that I can’t seem to find the link for, about it so I thought I’d give it a try. I was a little worried about how much memory it would suck up and whether it would slow down the start-up and shutdown process of my laptop. I noticed a bit of a slowdown but the benefits outweigh it since it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.

You can have up to 9 workspaces, which I find to be way too many. I have 4 set up but probably only use 3 of them on a regular basis. By default, the hotkey to move between desktops is the windows key + arrow key. There’s an option to make it so that when you’re mouse is against the edge of your screen it switches to another workspace, but I found that to be incredibly irritating so I stuck to the hotkey.  Another thing I like about it is that I finally have a use for the ability of the wheel on my mouse to click.  If I click on the title bar of a window with the mouse wheel it gives the option to move that application to one of the other workspaces – I use that all the time.  You can also add modules from their website to add features, although there aren’t very many.  That’s another plus, they didn’t add a bunch of useless features to the basic installation, if you want extras you can install them yourself.  This is compatible with Vista all the way back to Win98, so if you have a Windows machine this will work for you.


I need a nap, more to come.

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