Check Out Software Information for Windows (SIW)

I subscribe to a bunch of mailing lists, one of which is devoted to interchanges among computer book authors. Walter Glenn is a regular poster to this list, and has been regaling us with his search for good standalone .exe Windows utilities suitable for what’s called “portable operation”–that is, from a USB key you can load up with tools and information and take with you and use on any computer system you might happen to plug it into. For some computer users, building the ultimate “portable UFD” has the same appeal that building LiveXP and VistaPE (and shortly also, Win7PE) UFDs has for me. To learn more about the whole portable computing phenomenon, check out PortableApps.com; to learn more about LiveXP, VistaPE, and Win7PE, check out the downloads and forums at Boot-Land.net.

Let’s Talk About SIW

To get back to the contributions that Walter’s been making lately, his most recent list of recommended portable Windows apps includes the following:

I’m a big fan of the SysInternals utilities, going back to the days before Winternals and the blooming of Messr.s Russinovich and  Cogswell into a Microsoft offshoot. I’ve also messed with winscp and putty, going all the way back to my UNIX days as a graduate student in the case of the latter, and to version 3.4 (late 2003 timeframe) in the case of the former. All the others are relatively new to me, so I plan to knock them off one by one and blog about those that catch my fancy, which SIW has already done.

Walter rightly describes SIW Standalone as “much nicer than the built-in utility” by which I think he means Windows System Information. If you run Vista, take a quick look at this utility by typing System Information into the Vista Start menu’s Search Box. You should see something like this (allowing for my careful manipulation of screen layout, that is).

sysinfo1

System Information (click to enlarge)

If you poke around inside System Info, you’ll see it offers all kinds of interesting and useful information about your system.

Now, download System Information for Windows, aka SIW, by Gabriel Topala (Standalone Version). Take at look at all the information it makes available. You can use it to check installed and missing updates, to list Windows system directories and installed applications, and even to produce known license keys. It lists Autoruns, AV codecs, and even shell extensions installed. There isn’t much about your system that it can’t tell you, in fact. For a real eye-opener click on the Secrets entry, to see all the passwords that Windows stores for you right there in the clear: autocomplete passwords, browser passwords, and so forth. Here’s the basic OS info from SIW’s opening screen, for example:

SIW's OS Information screen (click to enlarge)

SIW's OS Information screen (click to enlarge)

Next, check out SIW’s hardware information. You can get everything from Device Manager here, as well as a whole lot more. Look at all the information I pulled up from the sensors display: does this remind you of anything (hint: compare it to Franck Delattre’s HW-Monitor)?

SIW Sensors display (click to enlarge)

SIW Sensors display (click to enlarge)

Work your way through these various displays, and you can’t help but be impressed by all the information readily available just for the asking. Here’s the memory info, for another example:

SIW Memory data (click to enlarge)

SIW Memory data (click to enlarge)

The more time you spend with this great tool, the more you should like it: I know that’s true for me. My hat’s off to Gabriel Topala, for a fine piece of work, and to Walter Glenn for turning me on to same. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy Gabe a cup of coffee (click on the coffee cup icon at the far left on the SIW toolbar to make a small contribution as I just did for $5; you won’t be sorry).

–Ed–

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