Welcome to Testing Grounds. This website will help you discover new ways of looking at the ordinary things around you. Whether it is a dusty old computer you have in the corner, or a coke machine down the street, Testing Grounds will show you how to do things you didn't think were possible. Enjoy!

What to look forward to:

Coming up on Testing Grounds, I'll show you how to do the following:

How to Install/Reinstall Windows Vista to Improve Performance

How to Backup DVD's: Defeat Any DVD Protection Including Sony and Disney

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Control a Windows Machine Using Remote Desktop - Through OS X

Ever find yourself sitting at your mac, needing to connect to a windows machine and run the Remote Desktop? Do you think that Windows and Mac hate each other so much, that it is hopeless to assume that you can use Remote Desktop Connection through a Macintosh? Well think again, because Microsoft has created Remote Desktop Connection for mac.

First things first, this has been out for a while. For those of you who don't know much about RDC (Remote Desktop Connection), it has traditionally been a program that allows windows users to remotely login to another windows machine. Features include cutting/copying from one machine and pasting into the other, to printing a document on another machine that is connected to a printer. It comes in handy, much more efficient than emailing a file to yourself, using a thumbdrive to transfer a file, or having a network attached storage device (NAS). This comes in handy when it comes to the file systems of the two operating systems, while windows refuses to even acknowledge the OSX file system, OSX will for the most part recognize the NTFS file system and read from it, but will not write to it.

Without further ado, here is where you may download RDC for Macintosh:

Remote Desktop

The URL is huge, but if you need to paste it into your browser it is:

Now here is a photo odyssey of what it takes to use this software. Keep in mind that this setup is a mac using RDC to connect to a Windows 2003 Server.

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These icons appear on your desktop now:

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Oh look, I can access the user files on the server:

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Odd looking, isn't it?

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Open DNS, The Faster Domain Name System!

When you type in an address at the top of your browser, lets say you want to visit www.weather.com for instance, your computer sends a request to a DNS server that it is connected to. In most cases this is provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), and is usually retrieved automatically using DHCP. The DNS server is like a phone book for the internet. It takes the address you typed in (www.weather.com) and looks it up, finding the IP address of the server containing the web page. This accounts for part of the time it takes to load a web page, because your request is put in line with a thousand others and it takes a few milliseconds to process. Once the server has found the appropriate IP address for the page you are looking for, it directs it your way.

Now, why change which DNS server you use? Well maybe your ISP provides you with a crappy one, maybe you think your internet is a bit slower than it should be, or maybe you just want to be a propper geek, and change everything about your computing experience that you can. It doesn't matter, because in almost every case, changing from ISP DNS to Open DNS will improve performance, it may not be noticible and only visible in added milliseconds, but the improvement will be there.

How can you change your DNS server's address? I'll show you how to do so in Windows and in OS X. If someone would like to share how to do so in Linux, let me know.

In OS X:

Go to System Preferences, Network, click on your Ethernet or Wireless network settings and click Configure, And where it has DNS Servers, add these two IP addresses:

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There, all done for OS X!

In Windows (basically all versions):

Go to Control Panel,
Network Connections, click on your connection(s) - whether they are wireless or not, then double click on the correct icon, hit properties, then scroll down to TCP/IP and hit properties. De select Obtain DNS automatically, and input the same IP addresses as in OS X:

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If you want to learn more about what Open DNS is, and how they operate, visit their website at:

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2007

How to Soft-Mod an Xbox - No Modchips Required!

Have an old Xbox lying around collecting dust? Does your 360 scoff at its 1st generation counterpart and its inability to play Gears of War? Well put that thing to good use. Put Linux, or better yet, Xbox Media Center on it and create a low-powered media PC capable of receiving streamed content over your home network! An amazing mod that only requires a day or two, but is well worth it.

First thing's first, I didn't come up with this technique, and there is a good chance that if you don't know what you're doing, or you mess up in some way (hey, accidents happen) that you may end up losing your Xbox completely. You have been warned, do this at your own risk, if you mess up, its not my fault, or the fault of the person who thought of this.

Another thing to consider is the cost of this venture. If you already have an Xbox, it will cost around $45 in materials to put the mod onto the Xbox. Thats if you buy everything brand new, if you buy it used, you can probably get everything for $10ish.

I am not going to explain step by step detail on the process, because I found out about it from this website:


Here is a list of the materials you will need:
  1. Microsoft Xbox ($150)
  2. Networked PC Computer ($???)
  3. Original MechAssault game ($20)
  4. Datel Xbox Action Replay ($25)
  5. Krayzie's NDURE installer ($0)
  6. Xbox Media Center (XBMC) ($0)
  7. uTorrent ($0)
  8. FlashFXP ($0)
  9. Winrar ($0)
MechAssault is used to exploit the Xbox and load a different operating system onto the Xbox. You can also use 007: Agent Under Fire, and the original Splinter Cell.

I'm not much of a cut and paster, and besides, I don't want to generalize on a very complicated process, so visit the Product wiki website and follow their instructions to the letter.

Xbox SoftModding: ProductWiki

Monday, June 25, 2007

Safari for Windows, Should You Get It?

For those of you who haven't found out yet, Apple has thrown their own web browser, Safari, into the fray of Windows browsers. Some people scoffed at the announcement, after all, who uses Safari on the Mac? Doesn't everyone use Opera or Mozilla by now? While this is true, Safari for Windows does have a few benefits. For an interesting graph that shows how fast Safari executes HTML code, JavaScript, and application launch, visit the homepage here:


Interesting, apparently Internet Explorer is worst in 2 out of 3 examples - who would have guessed that?

Back to Safari, while it's execution speeds are impressive, it's ability to pass the Acid 2 test is even more impressive. The Acid 2 test is a HTML page that shows a smiley face. Opera 9 passes the test, while Firefox 2 does not. Here is a comparison to the Safari browser and Firefox:


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As you can see, Firefox comes nowhere near passing what Safari can do easily and with considerable speed.

Those are the pro's to Safari, so you're probably wondering "My goodness, Safari sounds like it kicks ass, why don't I get it?" The answer is simple: security. Safari 3.0 is a Beta release. Which means that it is currently in development and that there are many, many bugs. One of those bugs is that it had a zero day exploit found only hours after its public release. This means it will execute malicious code without the user ever knowing - a big no - no in the web browsing and security world. This one flaw is enough for most people to shy away, after all, who wants their precious computer turned into a zombie PC?

Because of the security issues, I recommend holding off on Safari until the final release, and even then, ONLY if Apple fixes the security issues.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Speed up XP by Removing Unwanted Processes!

Want to keep your computer running at tip-top performance? Have you defragged, reformatted, scanned for viruses, spyware, and adware, and yet you still want better performance out of that less-than-stellar computer of yours? I’ll show you a few tricks to squeeze a few extra horse power out of that XP machine of yours.

Before I begin telling you the nitty-gritty details of what you need to do, why you’re doing it, and what it will mean performance wise, I need to warn you about a few things that could possibly go wrong. You have to know what you are doing when you mess around with some of these settings, otherwise you may need to re-install Windows XP. That is the absolute worst case scenario; less destructive possibilities include various programs not working, XP crashing, or instead of improving performance, you may degrade performance. So when I warn you to be careful and make educated decisions, I mean it.

Ok, let’s start off with some relatively easy methods. Go to the Start button and click Run. Type in Services.msc. A window like the one below should show up:

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In this list are all of the programs that either start up automatically at startup, or have the potential to initialize at start up. There are different columns with the name, description, status, and startup type. These are the important columns. Now is the part where you need to use some intelligent personal discretion. Look through this list and decide what you can do without. If you find some suspicious processes that do not look in any way familiar, check the path on the last column on the right in the picture and see where its coming from. If it still looks suspicious, look it up on Google and see if it is a viral process. If it is, run a virus scan and/or remove it from this list. Anyway, back to deciding what you can do without. Once you find something you don’t like (Example: you find a QuickTime or Real Player process, who needs those at startup?) right click it and delete. If you have never done this before, there might be quite a few things in there that you can get rid of safely. But like I warned you earlier, there are some things in there that you shouldn’t remove, things like Win32. Anyway, if you sort out the gold from the garbage you should have a faster startup and better XP performance!

Alternate way of removing processes:

Go to My Computer, your hard drive that Windows XP is installed on, click the folder called WINDOWS, and look for this icon:

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Double click it. This is Windows XP’s built in Registry editor. It shows all of the processes your computer is capable of. Now here is where it gets tricky, follow these navigation instructions:


Now something like this should be shown:

Use the same discretion you did with the msconfig tip, these are some processes that start at startup/run while your computer is in use. They slow your precious CPU down, so the bad processes need to be dealt with. I have found a few viruses by looking into these processes, so keep that in mind when looking through the list and finding names you don’t recognize.
Another place to check for useless processes is:


And one more place is:


If you have further issues with XP (Honestly, who doesn’t have issues with any form of Windows.) I suggest visiting tweakxp.com

And if you are an unfortunate soul running Windows Vista, visit tweakvista.com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Free 411 Service Through Google!

Ever find yourself shopping around somewhere, getting hungry, and you don't know if your favorite restaurant is open? Don't have their number and your mall doesn't have phone books near the pay phones? Well Google has the perfect solution for you.


Sure, there are other free 411 services out there, but you have to listen to boring and irrelevant ads just to get an answer. With Google, all you do is tell the city, state, business name or category, and Google will give you the top 8 or so results. NO AD'S! Tell Google the number of the result you like, it will read out the address and phone number and offer to connect you. Just say connect and you will be on the phone with the corner Bistro or Pizza Hut. (It also works if you want to call and see if the local computer store has the right RAM ; )

The lookup service is free, but if you choose to connect to the number Google lists, phone charges will apply as if you are calling the number.

As a side note, Goog 411 is in beta right now. Hopefully Google decides it likes the program and finds ways to improve its algorithms. I use this service at least once a week, and it has only failed me once, only because I wasn't sure about the exact city something was in, and the number may have been unlisted anyway.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How and Why You Should Defrag Your Hard Drive

Is your computer acting a bit sluggish lately? When you try to open a file or get onto the internet, does it take a lot longer than it used to? It might be a virus, spyware, or adware, but if you've never defragmented your hard drive, that's a great place to start. It's simple enough to do, you don't need to download a program or anything for it, as it is built into the Windows operating system. There is nothing destructive about it, nothing bad can really happen - about the only thing that I can think of to go wrong is if your power went out when it was defraging. When you start the defraging process, don't be surprised if it takes a few hours. I usually let it run before I go to bed, that way I know I won't interrupt it.

So what does the defragmenting process do exactly? Well whenever Windows saves a file, sometimes it can't allocate a continuous space on your hard drive. So it saves a piece on one part of the platter, and another on another part, and so on. The bad side of this is that when Windows reads the fragmented file, it takes longer than it would if it was continuous on the hard drive. When you defragment the hard drive, it does exactly what it's name says, it puts all of the fragmented pieces and puts them together so that when Windows reads the file, it doesn't have to search for the next piece of the puzzle, and is therefore much faster.

Here is a screenshot showing how to get to the defragment utility:

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I hope those of you experiencing slow computers are helped by this tip.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Programs to Replace Those Expensive Proprietary Ones

Let me start by explaining what an open source program is. It is a program that anyone can edit, anyone can use, and anyone can obtain for absolutely free. The main example is Linux, the free open source operating system. There are many types of Linux, from personal OS's on PC's to web servers, Linux can do anything. But its not the only open source thing out there, and I'll show you some of the most useful applications out there.

There are also Freeware programs made by companies or people who decide to do the world an awesome favor and create a free program that rocks. These people can range from individuals coding for hours, to multi-billion dollar corporations. I personally don't care, I love free stuff.

Let's start off with the open source options:

  1. GIMP

GIMP is an open source image editing program. While some call it a Photoshop replacement, I think it has some work ahead of it before that claim can be accurate. Still, it is an awesome image editor with many features, and is worth a download.

2. OpenOffice.org


Who wants to pay $300 for an Office suite? Not many people. Open Office has most if not all of the features of Microsoft Office - for free.

3. Blender

Blender is an open source 3D creation suite. Create 3D characters, models, animations, pretty much anything and everything you want - for free. Gotta love GNU Public Licenses.

4. Nvu (N- View)

Nvu is a WYSIWYG web site development program. Being one of the only open-source solutions to Microsoft's FrontPage or Adobe/Macromedia's Dreamweaver, it is good at what it does.

While there are many many more open source programs available, these are the ones I find most useful. If anyone would like me to add some more, leave a comment.

Ok, now for the freeware programs.

1. Pidgin

Pidgin (formerly called Gaim) is a multi-platform instant messaging client that can interface with many different messaging services. I like to use this instead of AIM sometimes, simply for the reason that I view AOL as evil. Who doesn't? And the fact that it interfaces with Yahoo chat, IRC, and about 7 other services makes it one of the best instant messaging programs out there.

2. Mozilla Firefox

You can't talk about free programs without mentioning Firefox. One of the best web browsing utilities available, which means if you're viewing this page in Internet Explorer - do yourself a favor and get Firefox. You will enjoy faster browsing, more security, and the knowledge that you're not helping Bill Gates take over the world. You can get it from one of the buttons on the side of this page.

3. Opera

Opera is another wonderful web browsing utility. It has a built in P2P utility, beautiful security, great interface, and over-all it makes web surfing fun. If there were a browser to rival Firefox, it would be Opera.

4. SciTE

SciTE is a text/code editing software that supports 31 languages. It has syntax highlighting, which makes it a thousand times better than notepad. Better still, it can be places on your thumbdrive for portable coding wherever you go. It is the only code editor I ever use.

5. Google Pack

A while back Google came out with a suite of programs that helps a lot in daily computing. Its called the Google Pack. It includes image editing software, security software, voice communication software, screensavers, Google Earth, PDF reader, and video players. It is one of the most useful software packs ever created. You can download it from one of the buttons to the right of this page.

Those are all the programs I find useful (and free) that I use on a daily or weekly basis. I hope you find them as useful as I do, leave me some feedback if you think I should add some more.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Use Google Maps to See Where Your Website Traffic Comes From

My friend, the admin from leetupload.com recently showed me a way to track your websites' international traffic using Google Maps. The website is called statisfy.net, and once you do a quick registration, you can see your traffic around the globe! Here is an example for the traffic Testing Grounds gets:


See if you can find yourself on it. Here is a thumbnail for the screenshot:

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Erase Data on Your Hard Drive

Many people have heard about how to format a hard drive. Some mistakenly believe that just because you can't view your data, that means its not there anymore. Formatting C:/ does nothing but delete the references to your data, the data is still there for people to find if they are looking for it. There are many programs that can detect this data and recover it - for both good and bad purposes. I know of a few live Linux installs that can do this, see my earlier about live Linux CD's for those those.

I would like to mention that there is no sure-fire way of deleting data from magnetic media. If you overwrite it, delete it, or wipe it, there will always be a way to recover the original data. However, there is a bright side to that flaw, just because you can recover it, doesn't mean it will be cost productive for a thief or other interested party to do so. The following tip will help reduce the likelihood of data recovery, but once again there is no sure fire way of protecting your magnetic data - short of igniting a pound of thermite over your hard drive and melting it.

If you are selling your computer you either want to wipe the hard drive completely, or destroy it and make the buyer get their own. Personally, I like taking the hard drive out and making a clock out of it. But for those who need to sell the hard drive too, here is a free (I'm all about some free) program that has 4 built in flavors of wiping your hard drive - or just individual files. It's called Eraser, and its homepage is here:


Eraser uses 4 main algorithms that overwrite the data you tell it to. It will overwrite 1, 5, 7, or 35 times. The 1st option uses only random data to overwrite the data, the second and third options use a Department of Defense algorithm, and the last one uses the Gutmann method. It is one of the best methods out there to reduce the likelihood of data recovery.

With Eraser you can create automated erasure events, erase the free space on your hard drive, and choose a custom method for erasing. Meaning that you can customize the number of times Eraser overwrites data. It can be set anywhere from 1 to something around 999,999 times. Needless to say, It would take a long time for your hard drive to complete that many cycles, but if you had something you absolutely had to make sure that nobody ever saw, you might need to pick that option.

What I like most about Eraser is the addition of an "Erase" option when you left click on files and folders in Windows. I never "delete" anything anymore, I erase it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Free Virus Scanning Program

If you surf the internet regularly, open the occasional spam email, or noticed your computer acting funny lately, and you don't have a virus killing program, chances are you have a virus. If you think the only way to protect yourself from viruses is to pay a monthly fee to Norton or McAfee, I'm here to show you a better way.

There are a bunch of services out there that offer "free" virus scanning. If you go to a website like Veloz or StopSign, they'll scan your computer and tell you that you have a virus, then they will try to charge you a fee to buy software that will eliminate it. I do not like these people. I have scanned my computer after testing with them, and what they downloaded onto my computer was listed as spyware/malware - which is ironic.

Without further delay, I'll show you my best pick to hunt down and kill the software which those sick people so lovingly give you to make your life hard. Its AVG anti-virus, and can be found here:


It is developed by GriSoft, and is completely free. They have other editions that offer more protection and support, but for run-of-the-mill computer users, AVG free is all you will ever need. No monthly payments to Norton or McAfee. Don't you just love saving money?

I would like to share a personal account about how much this program helped me. A friend of mine called me up one day and said his computer was acting up. I asked if he had any virus programs, he said he had Norton, but it hasn't been updated in about 4 years. In my head I'm secretly thinking "OH MY GOD", and this will suck. After I miraculously got AVG to install on his crippled machine and started to scan its contents, it found no fewer than 700 infected files after only a half hour. It kept scanning and scanning and scanning until finally i left it alone, went home, and returned the next day. It had found a few thousand infected files, processes, registry values, and countless other nasty objects. I then removed these and his computer actually worked fine for the first time in about a year.

Viruses are not the only programs that can harm your coputer. Spyware and Adware can also cripple your beloved machines. A free solution to this comes in the form of Spybot: Search and Destroy, and Ad-Aware. Both can be found here:



If you have a crippled PC, these three programs will give it a fighting chance to live. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Oil Filled PC

You may have heard the various exploits of PC modders out there who decide to get a clear acrylic case and turn their computers into oil filled silent machines of death and destruction. The problem with most of them is that they are filled with vegetable oil, or some other heavily organic oil that will spoil after a month or two and needs to be replaced. There is an easier alternative: Mineral Oil. It doesn't spoil, it doesn't smell, and it is absolutely crystal clear and has the appearance of water. Which begs the question, why not put a computer in an aquarium filled with mineral oil?

Well that's what my friend, the admin of leetupload.com, and I did. We got our inspiration from http://www.pugetsystems.com/submerged.php and made a few changes of our own.

This project is so unnatural, it defies logic. Drop an expensive piece of electronics INTO A VAT OF CLEAR LIQUID?!?!? WHATS WRONG WITH YOU MAN?!?

Nothing, mineral oil is an insulator. This means it has no effect on electronic equipment. Gotta love chemistry and physics.

If you are going to attempt this project on your own, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. If you have all of the hardware necessary (a computer), it will cost you about $30 to get a 5 gallon aquarium from somewhere like K-Mart or Wal-Mart.
  2. Finding 5 gallons of mineral oil is INSANELY HARD. It is considered a strong laxative, and can be used on horses. Some farm equipment dealers might have gallon jugs for about $11 apiece, or you can do what we had to do, and buy 37 individual pints and buy out two Wal-Marts and a K-Mart worth of mineral oil:

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That's a LOT of laxative. The total was just a tick over $60 for that, Which brings the total cost of the project to about $90 - $100

Ok, now to get started on putting the computer into the aquarium. I used a sheet of plexiglass to hold the motherboard in place, so that way when it is filled with mineral oil, the mobo will appear to be floating.

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I scored onto the plexiglass where the screw holes on the motherboard are, and drilled where it was scored, so that way I could screw the motherboard onto the plexiglass. If you are doing this project, DO NOT try to screw the motherboard onto the plexi without drilling it first! It will crack!

Check out how the power supply will fit at the bottom:

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Then see how the plexi/mobo combo fit into the aquarium with the power supply:

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Now your probably wondering how we kept the plexi upright? Do you see that piece of duct-tape holding a clear cube up towards the top of the mobo? I super glued 4 pieces of plexiglass together, glued that onto the plexi/mobo, and am getting ready to glue that to the side of the aquarium.

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We got lucky and the aquarium came with a suitable top to seal everything up in nicely. It even had a place where we could have the exit to the cables, but it was in the wrong spot. So I fixed that with a dremel and a carbide bit:

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Here is what it looks like from the top:

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We made absolutely sure the glue is dry before we continued. There was a gap of about 3 days before we began the next phase of the project. After you connect all of the cables, fans, and other junk, its time to put the oil in. We decided to just go for it rather than test it out, and everything turned out fine. The following pictures are of us filling it with mineral oil, and it still working.

Before oil:

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Monitor with dry computer, with bag underneath to prevent spillage from harming the floor.

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It boots before the oil:

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Trust me, use a funnel

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Linux boot screen:

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From the back:

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The hard drive needs to be outside of the oil. There is a membrane pressure switch that will shutdown the hard drive if it is submerged in anything.

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Had to hot glue the wires and everything on the top. This was to seal it in case of accidental bumping, and help prevents what little evaporation will happen over the years:

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After we emptied the bottles:

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And just in case you don't believe us, here is some video proof. Pay special attention to how smoothly the fans operate in the oil, and the ripples they make in it:

Here is the leetupload.com tutorial on how to do the project.

Please Digg this story at: http://digg.com/mods/Oil_Cooled_PC_5_Gallons_of_Silent_Death

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Why you need to re-install Windows XP, and how to do it

Does your computer seem a bit sluggish compared to when you bought it a few years ago? Are the memories of quick startup and shutdown time becoming mere fancies of the past? Well this guide will show you how to take that aging computer of yours and make it rise from the pits of Windows XP hell. It shows 99% of the screens you will see in installation, it is my belief that pictures are always worth at least 1,000 words, so I have about a book written in this post.

Why You Should do This:
Every Windows system to date has shown its age after a year or two. Windows XP is no exception. Every time you shutdown and restart your computer, it wears down the operating system. Nobody knows why or how, but eventually after so many restarts, XP will become unstable and will need an overhaul. You might be getting strange errors randomly, random freezes, load screens, hardware installs, software installs, communist propaganda messages, fascist propaganda messages, rabid dogs, hailstorms, locust plagues, and last but not least, the dreaded BSOD - the Blue Screen Of Death! While it is not guaranteed that re-installing Windows XP will get rid of all of these problems, it may help them to a great extent.

So, the first thing you need to do is back up all of your stuff! IT rule number 1, always keep backups of your stuff. Keep backups of your backups, and backups of those backups. You can never ever ever EVER have too many backups. If you have a DVD burner, that's awesome, if you have an external hard drive, even better. So lets get started shall we?

You will need to gather the following items:
  1. Windows XP CD that came with your computer, or that you used to install on your PC
  2. The XP serial number that came with your computer/CD
  3. All of the CD's that have your hardware drivers on them
  4. All the CD's that have your printer drivers or other peripherals
  5. All the CD's that have your programs on them
  6. about 1.5 - 2 hours depending on hardware configuration
Now, pop the XP install CD into your computers CD/DVD ROM drive. Then restart it, and when the BIOS screen pops up (It will have your computer/motherboard manufacturers name, mine says DELL) look around for an option like "Press F12 for boot options". That is what my computer says, you may need to hit F1, F2, Del, or any number of other keys. when you reach that stage, something like this will pop up:

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Navigate to your CD/DVD drive and press enter. A black and white screen should come up that says "Press Any Key to Continue." - you know what to do.

The next screen will take a few minutes. This is the install CD installing drivers to let it do its job. After it does all of that, this screen will pop up:

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Press Enter, then a massive list of things you have to agree to appears, press F8 after you either read these things, or laugh in the direction of Redmond Washington for their idiocy.

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The next screen to pop up will ask you a few options and show you your current Windows XP install. Because you want a clean install, press the esc key.

(Note: I hate repairing windows. It's not worth it, just go through and start from scratch.)

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The next lovely screen shows you the list of partitions on your hard drive. Delete the one with the old Windows XP install on it, do that by pressing D.

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Then another screen will come up yelling at you saying it is a "System Partition" ignore it and press Enter to confirm your deletion of the selected partition.

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Then another screen will come up where you need to press L to confirm. Gotta love the redundancy.

Now it goes back the the partition screen, and it labels it as unpartitioned space. Press Enter

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Now you have two options at this next screen:

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If you are in a hurry, go with the obvious (quick) option. But if you want a real thorough job, stick with the second one highlighted in the above picture.

Setup will format the partition:

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Then when it's done formatting, it begins copying some files:

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Then a restart screen will come up:

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If you left your computer for a while and you notice it restarts randomly out of the corner of your eye, it was probably the step above that did it, don't freak out.

When it restarts, it will load the first hint of a normal XP experience:

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And now it will install yet more stuff.
(By this time you may want to consider switching to Mac OS X - just a thought)

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(OOOoooOOO! An Exciting New Look!)

Then the next series of prompts appears, they are self explanatory:

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NOT! Now is the absolute worst part about owning a PC. The Drivers. Drivers are evil, they are meant to suck the very soul from your body.

After your done with the device drivers, install all the programs you like to have.

After that, hook yourself up to the Internet and download ALL of the Windows XP Updates. This is not an option, if you don't, your security level will be outrageously bad and you will be loaded down with viruses before you know it. Find a way to download them all, even if you have dial-up.