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In Windows Vista Essential Training , instructor Jeff Van West offers comprehensive guidance through the often-daunting task of upgrading Windows system software. After discussing Vista's many new features and demonstrating the initial installation, Jeff explains how to run older software, customize settings and the desktop, and troubleshoot along the way. The tutorials also cover the ins and outs of taking Vista on the road for portable computing, from setting up security to working with all types of media and optimizing performance. Exercise files accompany the training.
My kids are really into the cartoon character Inspector Gadget. If you've ever seen this he's kind of a cyborg detective with all of these devices built into his body. Some of which are really cool, some of which are kind of useless, and most of which work, well, at least a little bit. Well, it's a great way to think about gadgets. Gadgets are Window's answer to the Macintosh widgets, and they are really handy. The easiest way to see the gadgets is to go Windows key on your keyboard plus the Spacebar.
So Window+Spacebar and up popped the gadget. Here are the defaults as they show up Windows Vista. So what's a gadget? It's a little program that just does one thing, and tries to do it well. It's usually something to provide you either helpful information or just kind of be cute or -- whatever it may be. It might be something very specific to what you do, or may just be something you kind of like. The programs run in something called the Sidebar. So they're over on the right side of your screen, by default.
They don't have to stay there though. If you bring your cursor up to one of the gadgets, and I'll bring mine up to the clock, there are three little buttons that pop up. One of them is Close the gadget, Change the Options for gadget or Move the gadget. I'm going to just move the gadget for a moment. When I move it out to my desktop, now I have the gadget available for me to use. If I want to hide the items on the sidebar, I'm going to right-click on the sidebar itself.
It says Close Sidebar. We see all those gadgets disappeared, however, the one I brought out onto my desktop, as a running gadget is still there, and I can put it anywhere I want to. Now what happens if I close out this gadget? I'll close it. Now I'm going to go back to my sidebar, Windows+Spacebar, and it's gone. It's disappeared from my sidebar. That's right. Each one is its own independent program, and the sidebar, you can think of as kind of a drawer that you have all these gadgets in, like that drawer in your kitchen that has all the little funky tools that you can't figure out where else to put.
That's sort of what the sidebar is like. You can take anything out of there, put it out on your desktop, so it's always around to be used. But then it's no longer in the drawer for you. But that's okay, adding and removing things to the sidebar is really easy. All we're going to do, we're going to go up and hit the Plus sign for gadgets, and here's that clock. I'll take the clock and bring it back over and put it right back on the sidebar where I want it. Now I can move things around on the sidebar themselves too, like I could move the clock, maybe I want it down and I want these pretty pictures up at the top, or maybe I want this, this is my RSS feed or really simple syndication.
I can move that, so I have news up at the top. All I'm doing is dragging them around on the sidebar. By the way, the RSS feed is sort of a more complicated version of the gadget, and just right now you can see it's getting its feeds from Microsoft here. Let's suppose I want to find out five ways Internet Explorer can help me get more done. I'll click on that item and I'll get kind of a larger blowup, if you will, of what's going on for that simple feed.
If I want more information about it, well, I should be able to click through and open something up in Internet Explorer. In fact, that's where these feeds are coming from. This comes from Internet Explorer in the RSS feeds that I have subscribed to. To find out more about that, check out the movie on Internet Explorer. Now if I want to adjust on the gadget some setting, let me close out this Gadgets window for a moment. That's what the little wrench is for. So I click the wrench and now it's saying, "Which of the feeds that I've subscribed to, do I want to display?" Let's suppose I want to switch.
Instead I want MSNBC. I'll hit OK. It's going to load a different set of feeds, and see now, here's something about Will Castro up here in a May Day parade? So the gadgets themselves can be something really handy, like finding out information, news of the day, and like I said, I can subscribe to different items, or they might be just something for fun, like this is just a slideshow. It's out of sample pictures. Do note that when you take something off that sidebar, it may change when you put it on your desktop.
See here I've got much larger pictures, maybe I wanted it smaller, but this gadget may not allow for different sizes. To find out, click on the little wrench and you'll see what options you have for that gadget. So we'll just hit OK. Now if you want to add some other gadgets to your sidebar, I'm going to close that one out, because I don't find that one too handy. There's a little Plus symbol for gadgets. We'll click that again. Here are some of the other gadgets that just come with Windows Vista.
So let's suppose I want Weather, I like weather, I'll put Weather on my Sidebar. And it's set for Redmond, Washington. No I don't want Redmond, Washington. I live in Portland, Maine. Yeah, that's better. Let's see how things are doing at home. Oh! It's sunny in 44. It's a balmy day in Portland. So I can get information like that. I could bring over, let's say, a stock ticker. I could have a little notepad.
I like the idea of having a notepad up there. So I'll take my notepad and I might want to remember, hey, I've got to pick up some milk today, just a little note to myself, and I could have a whole stack of notes to myself. I want a second one. I've got to finish with prep for that Vista training program I'm doing. Oops! I hope I had finished it, because I'm here doing it now.
Now one thing to think about with gadgets. I'm just going to move this out of the way here. The gadgets are little programs that are running, but as soon as you take them off the sidebar and close them, so I'm actually going to hit this little X here to close this gadget. So it's done, and now watch what happens when I bring notes back. My notes are gone. Any information that saved in a gadget may be lost when you bring that gadget off the sidebar and then close it out.
So dragging onto your desktop is fine, but when you quit the gadget, you may lose any settings that you had put in the gadget. Now are these the only gadgets that are out there? Oh! No, no, no, there are many, many, many. So we'll go to get more gadgets online, which is a little link right in that Gadget Gallery. Then these are other gadgets that you could download. So maybe you didn't like the weather that was the default in the Gadgets Gallery. Well, here is another one, WeatherBug. Let's check this out. I'm going to download it. It's going to warn me, am I sure I trust this? It's on Microsoft's website.
So it's a good chance it's okay. I'm going to go ahead and just click Open and I'm going to allow, install, and now we've got WeatherBug up here. Set Location in Settings menu, I'll click the little wrench, where I want about Portland, Maine again. I didn't like that, so let's just try Portland. Portland, Australia, Portland, Maine, there we go. Now if I hit Select, it will give me all of the weather stations, somewhere near Portland, Maine.
Portland International Jetport. It adds the airport in Portland, they like to feel sophisticated, call it the Jetport. So we'll hit OK. And now I have information from Portland. I'm going to drag the weather that came with Vista up next to this WeatherBug one, just so you get the idea that the gadgets, I could have many different ways of displaying the information, and I find the gadgets that I like. I kind of like that WeatherBug one, so I'm going to close out the weather that came with Windows Vista.
And if you noticed when I did that, my clock reappeared. Oh! Wait a minute, where had it gone? Where did it go? Well, let's go back to Gadget Gallery here. I'm going to take another gadget and put it on there. Let's take -- I'm going to take a Feed Headlines here, I'm just going to put on, like that. So now I've got a Feed Headlines I just put on there and my gadgets have disappeared around the corner. Well, here is the button to show the next column of gadgets, and you can see it's grayed out.
So that was the only other column, now I can sort of toggle back and forth between multiple columns of gadgets. I can have as many of these things running as I want. And I can organize them however I want. If you want to try and put a gadget say on the same page, you might have to do a little bit of working around to do it. Let's say, I want to put this notepad on the second page. I'll drag it off onto my desktop, there it is. Now I've got the next two gadgets kind of stacked.
I can click to the second column of gadgets, drag my notepad back over, drop it into this drawer, if you will, the sidebar. Now it's in place. The cool thing here you can see I've got multiple gadgets. Well, why would I want two of the same gadget? Well, maybe I want one of the feeds to be MSNBC, and the other to be Microsoft at Work or NPR, or whatever I want. So I can have multiple feeds up, and maybe that's what I want on one of these columns is just all news feeds and weather information.
And on a different column, I want my notes and I want my clock. So there are a lot of ways to kind of put things together. Now there are more gadgets on this Windows Sidebar and you can come to this Gallery at Microsoft anytime you want to, by clicking in the Gadget Gallery, Get more gadgets online. You can also do a Google search for gadgets, and you'll come up with lots. There are couple cool ones that you can get from this online that I thought I'd point out for you. If you ever want to get back to that sidebar, you've lost it, by the way, again, just Windows+Spacebar and there you go.
I kind of like this Multi Meter one, and it looks like, when I dropped it, here, where did it go? Well, it's tiny, so there was space for it on this first page. Here you can see it. It's showing me the processor. It's a dual-core processor on this machine, and how much RAM is being used, all at once. I also kind of like Outlook info. I'm going to bring that one over. Stick it on here.
There we go. You can see that Outlook info was pretty big. It didn't fit on the first column and it bumped my dual-core processor gadget onto the next page. So you may have to do playing around like this to get your gadgets just aligned the way you like it. But the cool thing here, it shows me how much mail I have in my inbox, how many are unread, what I have going on, on the calendar today. I've got a Record Vista. I've got a dentist appointment. Oh my gosh! I'm late for it already. Well, that's just the way it goes when you do any of these trainings, the things I sacrificed for these training programs.
That's just an example I put in there. So, these are the kinds of gadgets that we have, they're really cool. I want to show you one of the thing though. Sometimes a gadget isn't always the best solution. Let's move the notes off for a second and close it out. Let's suppose I like having a clock, but I also want to have a clock for a different time zone. I could take a second clock and bring it over. Now I've got two clocks, right? For this one, let's say, I want to do -- where is it on here? Greenwich Mean Time, here it is, Greenwich Mean Time, because I'm a pilot and I like flying around.
So I've got one clock set for Greenwich Mean Time, and so I can differentiate between them. I'm going to give it a different kind of clock and that's a nice piloty looking clock, and I'll click. Now you can see I've got two clocks. I can pretty easily read the two different times right off my gadgets. That's kind of cool. I mean it's a nifty setup, however, there are other ways to do something like that. For example, I'm going to close out some of these items here. By the way, I should show you again.
I wanted to try and close Internet Explorer and its close box was behind the sidebar. By clicking on Internet Explorer, the gadgets dropped to the back, and now I could click. They all stick around unless I do a right-click, Close Sidebar. I can also bring all the gadgets to the front, if I want to, so they're on top of everything as well. So I'm going to close the sidebar, but before I show you this, let me reopen that sidebar, Windows+Spacebar, almost forgot.
Right-click on the sidebar, and there is Properties. Here are the basic properties or the options for the sidebar, start it when Windows starts so that it's there for you when you first boot up your computer, or not by unchecking it, whether it's always on top of the other windows or not, and you can display it on the right or left side of your screen. This is actually kind of cool. If you have multiple monitors, sometimes it's really handy to display the sidebar on one of your secondary monitors, not the main one where you're working, but the one off to the side.
So that can be really handy if you work on multiple monitors. Then if you wanted to see what that looked like, you can hit Apply, or you can just hit OK, and close it, and to make sure you caught that. All right, now let's close the sidebar, and we'll go down. Now I'm going to go back and do something, which you saw earlier, right-click on the Taskbar, Properties, and we want Notification Area, Clock, OK. So here's my clock and there it says the date and time.
But now I'm going to click on it, Change date and time settings. Check this out, Additional Clocks, I'm going to show a second clock, Greenwich Mean Time. In the flying world we call that Zulu Time. Now when I go over my clock, I'm just going to hover there, with my mouse, I've got local time, and Zulu Time appears for me, or if I click, I even have double clocks set up here.
So I only bring that up as a way of thinking, gadgets are great, but sometimes there is another solution, just built into Windows that is even better. The other thing is that Microsoft's gadgets, and the gadgets third parties people have put out there on the web, are actually only one kind of gadget that's out there. Check out the movie a little bit later in this chapter on Desktop Power Tips, and we'll talk a little bit about some of the other gadgets, particularly the Google gadgets that are out there that also work in Windows Vista.
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