HOWTO: Quickly Change the Desktop Icon Size in Windows

There are a lot of customizations people go through after re-installing / re-formatting Windows. One of those things is making their Desktop appear and behave to their liking. I always add My Computer (or Computer on Vista), relocate the Recycle Bin, and adjust the icons. In Vista, I like smaller icons than the default size. There’s an easy way to do this, and a hard way:

Easy: Change Icon Size On-The-Fly

To change your icon size, go to the Desktop, hold down Ctrl and scroll your mouse middle scroller up or down. This will increase and decrease the icon sizes respectively:

Ctrl +

Hard: The Tedious Method in Vista

The other way to change the icon size is a bit harder. In Vista: Right-click the Desktop > Personalize > Windows Color and Appearance > Open classic appearance properties for more color options > Avanced… > under Item choose Icon. Now adjust the size property. Isn’t that tedious?


HOWTO: Get Free Text Reminders

Reader Joe recently sent in a tip for a free cell phone text alert service called Text Reminders. Simply enter in your reminder message, a date and time for it to be sent, and you’re all set to be alerted via text message. The service is provided via a free sign-up and supports all of the major carriers out there (over 20 carriers supported). If you’re not looking to get alerts, but want to send texts on the cheap, check out HOWTO: Send Free Text Messages Through Email.

Text Reminders

Text Reminders


Get ZoneAlarm Pro FREE (Today Only!)

Today, November 18th, is ZoneAlarm’s birthday. In celebration, they’re giving a free copy away of ZoneAlarm Pro 2009. But it’s just today! Get it while you can:

Download FREE ZoneAlarm Pro 2009


HOWTO: Edit the HOSTS File in Vista

Recently a reader asked how to save their HOSTS file in Vista, because it wasn’t letting them save their changes. Vista is a bit different from previous versions of Windows. Vista introduced the new User Account Control (UAC) to help protect common users from malicious activities. In doing so, UAC has also hindered productivity. Not only does it ask you to confirm everything you want to do, it blocks your access to edit the HOSTS file. Let’s fix this so you can have complete control of it.

There are two methods to get around this problem:

1. Turn UAC Off

Go to Start > Control Panel. In the top right search box, enter UAC. The search will return 1 result which will let you toggle UAC on or off. Click on the result and uncheck Use UAC… This will require a reboot, but it will save you time in the future.

2. Copy, then overwrite the HOSTS file

Navigate to the etc folder located @ c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\. Copy the HOSTS file to your Desktop and edit it accordingly. Make sure it’s named hosts, not hosts – Copy. Drag it into the etc folder and when you’re asked to overwrite the existing file, say yes.


HOWTO: Run IIS and Apache on Windows

For you web developers out there using Windows, you might not know that you can run both IIS (for .NET) and Apache (typically on Linux) side-by-side on Windows. IIS comes with XP Pro and Vista, but a lot of people don’t know that you can still leverage Apache as a web server. I personally use it for PHP and MySQL, so… alas, WAMP: Windows, Apache MySQL, PHP.

1. Download & Install WampServer 2

First, download Wamp. Now install; a good spot is c:\wamp.

2. Configure Apache to run on an alternate port

By default, a web server runs on port 80. If you’re running IIS, it’s probably running on port 80 and Apache tries to as well. Let’s change it so Apache runs on port 8080.

You’ll see the icon for WAMP is yellow (WAMP Port Conflict), meaning not all services are running. That’s because Apache is trying to use port 80, but it’s conflicting with IIS. Click on the WAMP icon and go to Apache > httpd.conf

Scroll down and change Listen 80 to Listen 8080. Scroll down even further and change ServerName localhost:80 to ServerName localhost:8080. Those two changes will tell Apache to use port 8080. To restart WAMP, click the WAMP icon and choose Restart All Services. The icon should now look like WAMP is Running

That’s all you really need to get things started. Don’t forget to restart the services every time you change the httpd.conf file.

3. Additional Customizations

Make your websites visible to others

To allow other people on your network to see your sites running on Apache, all you need to do is it clikc the WAMP icon in the systray and click Put Online. It will restart the services and make your sites visible to others. This setting is necessary if you’re on an actual live server environment.

Run multiple sites using different ports

It’s possible to run multiple sites in Apache, you just need to dish out different ports to access them. Below are two blocks of config lines necessary to make two websites run on different ports:

NameVirtualHost *:8080
<VirtualHost *:8080>
ServerName localhost
DocumentRoot "
<Directory "
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes
Order Allow,Deny
Allow from all

NameVirtualHost *:8081
<VirtualHost *:8081>
ServerName localhost
DocumentRoot "C:/wamp/www/site2/"
<Directory "
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes
Order Allow,Deny
Allow from all

And that’s about it. Do you have any more tips? Leave them in the comments.