Essential administrator tools for Microsoft Windows

Wuen I find myself in times of trouble / Mark Russinovich comes to me / Speaking words of wisdom / Run PE, Run PE.

Don't ask me to remember where that little Beatles rewrite originally came from, but it's sound advice- referring, of course, to Sysinternals Process Explorer. PE is one of many tools I keep around for troubleshooting and maintenance on Windows-based computers. Here are a few of my favourites.

How to set up a new Windows laptop: Nuke it from orbit

Microsoft Windows is actually pretty solid these days, notwithstanding the occasional hopelessly bone-headed interface design decision (Win8 Metro, anyone?). The NT 6 kernel family that underpins Vista, Win7 and Win8 is, now that Vista's teething pains are overcome, pretty slick and reliable.

The same can't be said for the heaps of shovelware that just about every single OEM ships on their new Windows machines.

Cranking that air conditioner is more expensive than you think

We've had a heat and drought wave in southern Ontario for the last few weeks. The grass goes "crunch" underfoot, there's been virtually no rain for a month, and the thermometer's been consistently in the high 20s to low 30s- and, with humidity at 70+ percent, it feels a lot hotter.

It's obviously quite tempting to crank up the air conditioner and pretend that it's nice and cool. The energy (and financial) cost of running that air conditioner, though, escalates much faster than you might expect.

Electrical generation: We can't say no to everything

There has been a lot of backlash lately whenever the idea of building a new power plant comes up. We're shooting ourselves in the foot, though, if we reject every proposal that comes along. If we insist on no nuclear, no coal, no natural gas, no wind, no solar, no large-scale biofuels and no more hydro dams, there simply aren't any sources of power left for us to run our society with.

How to get presentable graphs and figures from MATLAB

MATLAB is great for making high-quality figures for publication. It has a pretty steep learning curve, though, if you're used to spreadsheets.

MATLAB's huge advantage for graphing is that everything can be tuned and tweaked with commands and scripts. You only have to fuss over the first graph in a series; once you have everything the way you want it to look, you can use the same formatting script on all your other graphs. Presto, they all look good and they all match.


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