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September 2009 Features » Format Your Laptop, New Social Network Program, HootSuite

Nancy McCord, Owner of McCord Web Services LLC.Dear Friend,

I am in San Francisco for part of this month on vacation and for my husband's graduation from the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey. I'll try to share some great pictures with you next month on Facebook of my trip.

If you are not connected with me yet, click any of the links below to visit with me online on a variety of platforms.

Best Regards,

Nancy McCord

Connect with me online on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Plaxo | Naymz


Formatting Your Laptop | New Social Networking Services |HootSuite Beta Reviewed

Doing a Clean Install on Your Laptop to Speed Things Up

Clean up your laptop to improve application speed.I have to say if I can do it, you can do it too. Typically my husband does all my IT and hardware stuff for the nine computers on my business network, but for some reason when my laptop started loading at an excruciatingly slow speed, I decided that I should try to format the disk and do a fresh install myself. I am still asking myself why at this point, but, I did think it would be a good article and "how-to" paper from a non-geeky point of view. So, as a hardware non-savvy type, I wanted to share my experience in this article.

What I want you to come away with from this piece is that yes, you can do it too! It is not hard to format your disk and do a "clean install" of your operating system on either your laptop or your desktop. There is nothing to be afraid of, just be patient and take it slow.

First, in this article I will give you the "Cliff Notes" version or quick version. I clocked my original startup and load time on my older model Dell Latitude D610 laptop, it took 56 seconds to get to the Windows login screen and then 3 minutes and 34 seconds to fully load the operating system from startup all together. Additionally anytime I was online it took forever to load a page and start up new software. To get Word going from the operational desk top it took 23 seconds. To me, startup and load time seemed excruciatingly slow.

When your computer or laptop gets very slow, like mine had, it is just time to format the disk, totally clean out the registry, remove program bloat, and get back to the "lean and mean" system you had before.

Here's what I did and the time it took to format my laptop disk and do a fresh operating program install:

  • 40 minutes preparation. - Prepare to start. I accumulated my laptop disks and the disks of the applications I would reload. I had to deactivate all Adobe software so I would be able to use the software licenses again, even though I was using the same computer. All versions of Adobe products like Dreamweaver, Acrobat, and Photoshop from CS3 and higher have this "deactivate" or move the license option on the Help menu. Additionally I copied all my files to another computer over my network. Although it took all night to copy the files, I only included the set up of the transfer in my 40 minute time listed above. I would recommend that you perform these actions the day ahead and let the file copy action process overnight with the real work of formatting your disk starting in the morning.

  • 1 hour format and reload. - Yes, it is surprising that this is all it took to format my disk and reload my operating system. The process is actually very easy. I inserted the program disk from my laptop into the CD drive and for me, I had to boot from the CD as my version of XP on my disk was older than the version of XP on my laptop. (This happens if you keep your system current with updates.)

    I had to click F12 at the early startup screen to boot from the CD which then started a different routine. Once I clicked F12 to boot from CD I had to push the space bar quickly. I had to do this twice to get to the proper screen to format my disk. If Windows starts up as usual and does not ask if you want to repair the installation or format the disk then you know you did not click the spacebar quick enough and need to try again by restarting your computer. When I say quickly - man, I mean quickly! I actually had to restart my computer four times to get this part right to get to the proper screen.

    Once in the proper menu, Windows does it all. I only had to select to format my disk and use NTSF file system. After the operating system was loaded I was asked to select my language, time zone, and computer name (for my network). Oh, and I had to set an administrative password. Actually this part after the F12 and spacebar debacle was pretty easy.

  • 3 hours for finishing up. - Install your laptop software. Most desktops will skip right to settings and applications, but laptops need to install the battery monitor, your DVD software, your wireless connection sensor and other cool laptop specific things. You should start with your first laptop disk. Mine was called operating system. I had three other disks also to load. One was for the drivers, one was for the CD operation, and one was for sound. Now most laptops will ask in sequence for these disks and walk you through the installation as well as auto sense your network and Internet Connection. My older Dell laptop did not. This is actually where I begged my husband to help me. "Yikes, I am lost!" For me, the driver disk needed to have each driver clicked and then extracted one by one. The proper items had a check mark next to them on the screen, but the drivers did not auto load. My IT guru husband said this was most unusual, but you may run into this too.

  • Then, I was able to connect to my network, with minimal effort using the XP wizard, go on the Internet and download any missing updates from Microsoft, reload my virus software and work on loading my applications back on my laptop. I spent another two to three hours installing my applications. I was selective of what I reinstalled to prevent bloat on my older model laptop.

What I learned from this is that formatting your disk and reloading your operating system is really not that hard. I feel if I can do it, you can too! Out of the several hours needed, I really only needed about 15 minutes of really "pro" help, and if you do not run into laptop "issues" like I did, you would most likely be okay.

If you are a hardware "newbie" like I am you may want to do your work on the weekend and have a tech savvy friend "on call" just to help out if needed. As for me, my performance has significantly improved. Now that I have reloaded my software the time to get to my login screen from start up has gone from 56 seconds to 36 seconds. The time from startup to fully loaded has gone from 3 minutes 34 seconds to under two minutes. Additionally surfing the web and the speed to load and use applications has significantly improved as well.

In closing, I do want to say that I always thought that with a laptop you never did a fresh install. When you had a problem you just bought a new one, but I am here to say that you can clean up a laptop and have everything be fully functional and actually better than before. So save yourself some money and take some time to format your disk and reload your laptop operating system.

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New Social Networking Management Services

Communicate with clients and prospects online using social networking.Social networking is hot! Who hasn't heard of Facebook or Twitter? But even if you have heard of them, you may not be using them or be afraid to get started. On the other hand, you may have set up accounts but have not logged in to your accounts in quite a while. Based on customer feedback we have developed two new social networking programs you may be interested in checking out.

Twitter Services: We now provide Twitter set up, website and application implementation and integration, as well as status updates at either a Junior maintenance level or an Executive performance level. We can help you to start using Twitter like a pro and grow your following allowing you to tap into a viral network and build web authority in your industry. Find out more...

Here is just an example of the results our special Twitter service can bring to your Twitter account.

  • New client: 0 followers at start - after 45 days 207 followers
  • New client: 0 followers at start - after 7 days 62 followers
  • Existing Twitter client: started with 73 followers - after ten service days 154 followers

Our Twitter services are not just about growing followers but about providing value to readers and interacting with Twitter users to grow your online presence.

Social Networking Services: This is a brand new service for us and we are excited about its possibilities. Not only do we set up 8 social networking services for you, but we offer short-term mentoring, a Junior Level update service or a more complete Executive management program to help build, grow, and provide value to your friends and connections.

Our services are not for everyone and it is very important to understand that there is no real replacement for you on a social networking platform. For some busy executives who need a jump start, don't know where to start, or are too busy to update these important platforms, we provide professional class service to help you build and provide value to your social networks. Find out more...

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Our Review of the New HootSuite 2.0 Beta

HootSuiteThere are a few Twitter tools that I cannot live without and the new HootSuite 2.0 Beta is one of them! In some ways this new HootSuite product looks a lot like TweetDeck and a bit like TweetLater combined. Here are some of the great new features that I am using on the product:

Schedule for later - One of the nice things that HootSuite 2.0 does is allow you to schedule a tweet for a later date and time. This may not sound like much, but if you are a heavy Twitter user or tweet for multiple clients like I do, to set up your tweets for the day at various times to stay connected with your followers is extremely important.

Multi-column viewing - Significantly enhances your experience by allowing you to have multiple profiles visible on one page and to manage your tweets and followers tweets. The columns show you your home feed, mentions, direct messages, pending tweets, sent tweets, and your selected keywords. This ability to organize Twitter information your way is what makes the new HootSuite 2.0 an excellent online tool.

Statistics on link clicks - This is one of the hottest new features! Now you can see stats for the links you put in your tweets. Did anyone click it? How many? The stats are really well done and this is, from my point of view one, of the biggest considerations in using HootSuite 2.0 regularly as part of your Twitter presence program. No other application that I know of provides this in-depth information for free combined with a robust tweeting platform. For best results HootSuite 2.0 ties in the stats to their new URL shortener called www.owl.ly. This makes sense to me to try to work to integrate statistics into a posting tool for better information. I'll be making sure to use Owl.ly instead of Bit.ly for all my upcoming tweets when I am in HootSuite.

Ping.fm integration - This is also a huge innovation unique to HootSuite 2.0 for Twitter and social networking users. By integrating Ping.fm into Hootsuite, now you can post to all of your social networking profiles or to specific groups you set up in Ping.fm from HootSuite 2.0. For me I post more frequently to Twitter and other microblogging platforms than I do for status updates to social networking platforms. By setting up a microblog group in Ping.fm my HootSuite 2.0 posts will only go to my social networking sites that I have selected and not to all my platforms; spamming friends on Facebook, Plaxo or Tagged.

Only 1 suggestion for improvement - The only thing that HootSuite needs to add to have a full featured product to replace TweetDeck is the ability to easily add users to groups. TweetDeck does this nicely by supplying a pre populated list that you just tick off which users to add to a new group allowing for very simple sorting of favorite people to watch by promoting them to a special "watch" column. To get this same function in HootSuite 2.0, I created a Favorite column then manually add their Twitter ID to the new group that I had created. Similar action, but more time consuming than ticking off a name to add to a new group.

As I use the product more, I am certain to find other great features to share with you on my blog, but for now, I think the product is excellent, has some new innovative features, and will certainly be open on my desktop on a daily basis. Thanks HootSuite for innovation that is sure to make my life easier.

If you have a HootSuite account you can upgrade to the beta for free by going to www.HootSuite.com/upgrade. There is no charge to use HootSuite, HootSuite 2.0 or Twitter.

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