Adding Windows 7 Home Premium features to Windows 7 Starter – for free!

Do you own a netbook or something similar and it only came with a Windows 7 starter license?

Don’t want to spend the bucks for upgrading for a customized look & feel of your Windows 7 installation?

Did you use some tools and they do not work anymore after updating to the Service Pack 1 final?

Then this blog post is for you and you read on!

As we all know Aero isn’t there in the STARTER edition of Windows 7 but we still want a customizable Windows 7 but we are cheap and don’t want to spend any buck!

I have spent hours installing and uninstalling many tools (as some are not intended for Windows 7 or simply got broken in Service Pack 1).

Changing Windows logon screen (source: intowindows blog).

I was tired of being welcomed by the Acer background everytime!

No problem! Just use the Logon Changer! It works lovely, you can even restore it to the default wallpaper it should usually have!

Flip 3D (Task switching with thumbnails) (source: blog).

Nothing easier than that! Use the tool WinFlip for that! It works perfect! Just one little disadvantage: The autostart function doesn’t work so be sure to create a shortcut in the Windows startup folder by yourself! Also set the hotkey for the flip 3d function to Windows & TAB so it will override the one coming with Windows 7 starter!

Changing Desktop background / taskbar skin (source: blog).

In contrast to most tools who only allow you to change the desktop wallpaper, Stardock MyColors’s theme manager also changes the taskbar’s look! (But you can also use it to let the taskbar remain by its default and only change the desktop wallpaper). On the same page you get the Diamond Theme for it (free!) to make it look more to how Windows 7 usually looks.

Thumbnail previews in taskbar!!!

I found this hint nowhere. I found this possibility by pure accident when fooling around with different dock applications for Windows.

Use Stardock’s ObjectDock 2.0 FREE for this!

You have to set it up this way:

right click on the the ObjectDock –> View –> Show minimized windows. If you minimize an open application widndows then, a screenshot is made and put as thumbnail in the stardock!!!

We learn from this that most cosmetic functions and features they have ripped off, can be put back in using freeware tools!

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GeeVee – a new “Skype for mobile” competitor – and it’s better!

Since Skype kicked fring and Nimbuzz in the back for using their protocol in their multi-protocol clients, more and more competitors are hitting the mobile voIP app market. One of them is GeeVee.

GeeVee started in December 2010 and thanks to Jean Mercier’s reference to my latest Skype decision related post, I was invited to be one of the earliest tester and test their new VoIP application since day 1.

I am using the iPhone version of the GeeVee application on my iPhone3G 8gb.

instant messaging related features

GeeVee offers a broad range of instant messaging features. I will only mention some as many of them I couldn’t test as yet my contact list is very small.

Features that are special compared to other IM apps:

You can see when your message has been seen and read! You can see when somebody is in the middle of typing a reply to you (yep, most applications on the iPhone don’t offer a typing indicator!).

You can share stuff like your current location on a Google Map with your contacts. You can place a call right from the message window and/or leave a voicemail. Contacts get a assigned a GeeVee number you can use to call them.

Very important to me is also how the online status is handled as my iPhone 3G doesn’t offer multi-tasking! If you are online, you are online, your session never times out!
If somebody sends you a message while the app is closed, it will be sent to you as a push notification message! So never miss anything!

Call quality

I generally had two options to place a call: Call-Back or VoIP.

Call-back will call you back to a number you supply and then call the other party you want to speak to! This way you pay both directions of the call as you also have to pay the way back to you.

But more interesting is “VoIP” as this will work in 3G and wifi.

Call quality is outstanding! I have tried many difficult destinations!

Peru e.g. is a very difficult destination as the VoIP infrastructure is very weak.

Calling from GeeVee gives you a new experience in terms of call quality, calls are crystal clear! No more “mickey mouse” voices, no more stutters or low frequency ranges so you can only guess what a person is about to tell you!

I had the exact same experience with calls to mobiles in Vietnam and Syria. All destinations where even PSTN providers fail to provide a decent connection!

Technical support

When you place calls using a normal PSTN or VoiP provider (let’s say e.g. whatever your cable TV provider or phone line provider offers) and you have a connection problem (e.g. routing issues, so the call isn’t routed through at all or call quality is just bad or calls keep dropping!), then you can tell your provider, but it may take weeks and months till it’s fixed, if ever!

This is why Skype was my preferred way of calling to abroad, including to mobiles.

Let me point out how it works for other providers:


You describe the problem of your call.
You need to tell them:

-Type of connection problem (one-sided call, stutters, drops, routing errors, etc)
-Date and time of placing the calls
-Phone number of the destination you have tried to call

Now this takes about a week then you may try again and in most cases, the call quality is better.
If it isn’t re-reply to Skype Support and they will place a test call and then you may try again.

In some cases they might tell you that they can’t improve the connection quality to the destination ๐Ÿ™

Rebtel: The famous free international call-back provider usually fixes routing problems within 2-5 days.

However if a country changes the Number Plan and the way of dialing, then you are with bad luck, e.g. in case of Peru, I am waiting since September for the routing to be fixed as – according to them – their carrier to Peru denies doing so.

Also you are out of luck if your friends have a pre-paid card and tell you “I have no credits”, so they can’t tell you back!

Granted, I didn’t try since November but I was promised I would being told as soon as the routing has been corrected.

O2: I was told on the hotline “I guess you are our only customer trying to reach Peru” and that was about it. Later I was told by email that they indeed didn’t know that the Numbering Plan of Peru has changed and they thank me for this information.

GeeVee: You can contact support by either email or telephone. (one thing I have noticed: Despite pointing it out that a ‘ + ‘ sign is missing in front of the support phone number, this error hasn’t been fixed by the time of writing this review here).

If you want a routing problem to be fixed, you can either tell them directly, or hit the “rate call quality” button inside the GeeVee applications and call quality issues/routing problems are fixed within 24h at latest. GeeVee is placing test call then to assure the call is working.

In some cases you are even just told to “try now” within 2 mins.

Calling rates

The calling rates are awesome!

Want some example:

Call to Peru “Claro Mobile”. Skype: 36.2 USD ยข, GeeVee: 17 USD ยข
Call to Syria mobile: SKype: 44.9 USDยข, GeeVee: 18 USD ยข

Now there are no more excuses to NOT call to any mobile phone abroad!

Space for improving

Of course for such a young product , there is always space for improving, despite the outstanding performance that outruns all its competitor!

-Caller ID: This feature isn’t available yet so you get a random caller ID (don’t know how “random” random is but sometimes, I placed calls with a caller ID from USA/Canada and sometimes from Brazil), so your friends wonder why you call from “strange places”.

-Line is busy detection: GeeVee doesn’t have this yet. It will just tell you that the “call didn’t go through”.

-iPhone app stability: Yet the app is slaggish on an iPhone3G at times and sometimes crashes. Occationally I have to evenr restart my iPhone. But I was told the problem has been found and fixed. A new updated version should be in the AppStore anytime soon!

Why it outruns, Rebtel, Skype, your local phone provider and even most instant messaging programs::

-GeeVee-to-GeeVee calls are of very good quality
-You get a feature rich instant messaging function.
-You get working customer support that is quick and decent!
-It pushes mobile connection quality to a new level
-Incredibly low calling rates to any destination out there around the globe. No more expensive calls!

If you are searching for something that just works, has very good customer support, provides a very good call quality and is very cheap, then GeeVee is your new VoIP app on your mobile phone!

Technorati Tags: , —-Wanna discuss this post? Then do it in my forum! ๐Ÿ™‚—-

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 final released / how to slipstream / make your own windows 7 installation DVD.

It has happened! Windows 7 Service Pack 1 final has been finally released!
(Download the 32bit and 64bit versions from here).

Now you wonder, how can I reinstall Windows 7 in the future including Service Pack 1? This is described in a very nice manual here.

What if you have a general problem like this?:

E.g. you own an Acer netbook as a backup computer and it didn’t come with an installation DVD for Windows but only an ISO imaging program that creates a customized DVD for factory resetting?

If you happen to know German, then you can find a neat manual for creating your own installation DVD here. Please bear in mind, that RT7Lite will detect the self-created installation DVD but intergrating Service Pack 1 into it will fail for some reason!

Technorati Tags: , —-Wanna discuss this post? Then do it in my forum! ๐Ÿ™‚—-

How to get your Freetalk Everyman HD Webcam to work again in Skype

After using the the webcam for half a year now, it suddenly stopped working.

Thanks to InStore, who gave me the hint, it works again:

“In order to continue enjoying your Skype video calling, you should update the firmware on your camera” if you are using your Everyman Webcam with Windows.

The update didn’t even take 5 seconds and now it works again ๐Ÿ™‚

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