My newly-built computer runs on 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate and is a pleasure to use. There are, however, a few “two-bit” (insignificant, cheap, tawdry) problems that are like glaring little blemishes on a shiny new toy.
My habit has been to import photos from my camera using Windows Live Photo Gallery, then to add some metadata to the files in Windows Explorer and finally to move the folder with the new pictures to my data drive. That had been an almost automatic routine on my old computer. But now annoyances showed up.
Windows Explorer gets confused
This is followed by an even more annoying “Windows Explorer has stopped working”. The open Windows Explorer windows become unresponsive and shortly close down. The first couple of times this was quite scary. I tried to figure out the exact problem but have not been able to do so. What is more, the problem seems to have abated. Did I change the way I move a folder? I don’t think so. Did Windows adapt to my habit? That would be astonishing. My reason for bringing up this problem is to assure others who might run into this, that theirs is not a unique situation. And, maybe, someone can explain the fault to me.
Windows Explorer can’t show thumbnails of NEF files
After importing photos I like to see them in the newly created folder in My Pictures and to add some common data, like author and copyright information. Windows 7 in the 64-bit version has made that impossible. This is not a fault of Windows but of Nikon, the creator of the NEF format. Nikon does not provide a 64-bit codec for their NEF files. Nikon is not the only company that has been tardy in supporting 64-bit computing. They are a camera company after all. But how many more years must we wait?
But wait! Let Live Photo Gallery open after import – it shows the thumbnails just fine – and after that Windows Explorer will display the thumbnails and the larger image in the preview pane beautifully. Another self-healing event? Windows Live Photo Gallery is a 32-bit application, the Nikon codec works fine with it, although it can’t edit NEF files – not a serious problem as I always convert to JPG format any pictures that I want to enhance or otherwise edit. Does it provide the thumbnails? I am afraid to tinker lest I upset the apple cart again.
Windows Explorer can’t modify metadata of NEF files
How about using the Properties dialog? For files, you can normally edit the various “properties” and thus add or modify much of the metadata. This does not work for NEF files. The property fields are empty and do not show a text entry box.
So instead of right-clicking on a thumbnail in Windows Explorer, right-click on a thumbnail in Live Photo Gallery and click Properties.
This dialog looks just like the one invoked from Windows Explorer, but behold, it works!
Here you can add comments, authors, copyright and some other information and you can see the data for other properties, like dimensions, which is not possible from Windows Explorer.
Three thumbs up for Windows Live Photo Gallery! Hope this works for you as well.
Windows can’t find backup drive
Most of us like to regularly back up the data on our computer to an external hard disk drive. Normally these are connected to a USB port. I did this shortly after I commissioned my new computer. All went well until the next scheduled backup. An error message came up “Windows cannot find the disk or network location where your backups are being saved.” – Frightening message!
The illustration here shows the Backup and Restore window with (portions) of two other windows: Windows Explorer and the backup setup dialog. In the Backup and Restore window where the error message is displayed, note that it also shows the name and free space of the drive. Windows Explorer shows the external drive just fine (right side), but the setup dialog for changing the backup file location does not show the external hard drive.
This happened repeatedly, rebooting and resetting the backup details got it going, but at the next scheduled backup time, Windows again got lost. This problem also healed itself after I made a small change: In the Device Properties dialog for the drive I selected “Better Performance” to enable write caching in Windows. This, I thought, would speed up the backup performance with the drawback that the drive can’t be just unplugged but must be disconnected carefully when all writing is finished. That is not a problem for a backup drive that stays connected most of the time.
Ever since that little change, my computer finds the backup drive just fine and does its job.
What other problems will heal themselves? Maybe the great power in Redmond knows, as for me, I have stopped calling myself “knowledgeable in the ways of computing”.
© 2011 Ludwig Keck