Monday, October 26, 2009

Squeezing Every Last Drop out of Windows XP

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Vol. 9, #94 - Oct 27, 2009 - Issue #402



 Squeezing Every Last Drop out of Windows XP


  1. Editor's Corner
    • Squeezing Every Last Drop out of Windows XP
    • Follow-up: Breaking up is harder to do when you share a computer
    • Quotes of the Week

  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Taking some of the pain out of a reformat and reinstall
    • First Microsoft Store opens in Arizona
    • "Soft" Kindle for your PC
    • Happy birthday to the Internet

  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to get rid of the QuickTime icon in the XP system tray

  5. Security News
    • Phones are becoming a target for virus and malware authors

  6. XP Question Corner
    • Is there a way to remove the built-in Search bar in IE 7?

  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Can't open MMC in localized version of XP SP3
    • You get a blank screen when resuming from hibernation

  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  9. Product of the Week
    • Haunted House 3D Screensaver - Transform Your Home Into The Creepiest Haunted House On The Block This Halloween






Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-VIPRE






 Editor's Corner

Squeezing Every Last Drop out of Windows XP

Now that Windows 7 has officially launched (last Thursday, October 22), there's a perceived frenzy to rush to the new OS. Granted, many XP (and Vista) users are eager to upgrade, but others aren't convinced that they really need the new features and are wary about losing some of their old ones.

Even if you like the looks of Windows 7 and have no qualms about getting used to a new interface, now may not be the ideal time - from an economic perspective - to make the switch. After all, even if your hardware will support Windows 7, you'll still have to buy the OS itself, at a price as high as $319.99 if you pay the full package retail price for Windows 7 Ulimate to as little as $29.99, the students-only price for one copy of Windows 7 Home Premium and Pro editions through the promotional offer here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Win7-Registration

Either way, unless you have an MSDN or TechNet subscription or you hosted a Windows 7 Launch party or you have some other conditions under which you can get a free copy, if you want Windows 7 (legally), you'll have to pay for it. Budgets are tight right now and some folks can't spare the extra cash.

Regardless of your reasons, if you've decided to stick with XP for a while longer, that doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to not being able to enjoy any of the enhanced features that come with the newer operating systems. You can get many of those enhancements with free or low cost third party add-ons. For example, one of the most genuinely important new features in Windows 7 is BitLocker to Go, which lets you encrypt removable drives such as USB thumb drives to protect the data on them. Vista introduced BitLocker full volume encryption, but it didn't work on removable drives.

Just because you can't or don't want to upgrade your OS, you aren't relegated to putting your data at risk. You can encrypt USB flash drives or USB hard drives on your XP computer, as well as encrypting the partition on which Windows is installed for pre-boot authentication, using a free disk encryption program that can do much of what BitLocker and BitLocker to Go can do. One such program is TrueCrypt, which uses strong AES-256 encryption. You can find out more about it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-TrueCrypt

Another security issue with XP is the fact that even if you install a new version of Internet Explorer, it doesn't run in "protected mode" on XP because the operating system doesn't have the User Account Control feature that relies on. Does that mean you're doomed to putting your computer at risk from malware every time you browse the web? The answer is "no": you can still use IE and protect your system by running the browser inside a "sandbox" environment that isolates it from the rest of your system. One way to do that is to install Virtual PC 2007 and install a second instance of Windows XP, then run your web browser (and any other programs that might not be safe, such as P2P file sharing programs) in the virtual machine. You'll need a license for the second copy of XP if you don't already have one, but VPC 2007 itself is a free download:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Virtual-PC-2007

Another program that can be used to isolate programs on your PC is called Sandboxie. It does require that you buy a license to get rid of the nag screen that appears after 30 days, but the license allows you to install Sandboxie on all of your computers, not just one. You can find out more about it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-SandBoxie

A GUI change that's been highly touted in Windows 7 is called "Aero Snap." Unlike some graphical interface enhancements that are mostly eye candy, Snap is extremely useful when you want to compare two documents, web pages or other program windows side by side. Here's how it works: when you drag a window to the right or left side of your screen, it "snaps" into place and resizes itself to fill exactly half the screen. You can do the same with another window on the other side. Sure, you could put the windows in those same positions manually, but it would take a bit of tedious work. Snap completely automates the process. If you like it, you can have the Snap functionality on XP (or Vista), too. This little free program requires that you install the .NET Framework 2.0 or higher first, but it even supports multiple monitor setups:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-AeroSnap

Taskbar thumbnails were introduced in Vista and expanded upon in Windows 7. It's nice to be able to hover over a taskbar icon and see a preview of the window(s) that it represents. Again, you can do the same thing in Windows XP without paying a penny. Just install Visual Task Tips. There's even a beta for 64 bit XP. The only catch is that you have to enable the Classic theme to run it. Find out more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Visual-Task-Tips

Or if you'd like more than just the thumbnails, here's a program that gives you transparent thumbnails, plus the ability to "pin" applications to the taskbar as you can do in Windows 7 and even a nice Window 7-like Start orb to replace the not-so-pretty XP Start button. It's called ViGlance and you can see some screenshots and download it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-ViGlance

Another Vista/Windows 7 feature that some users love (and others hate) is the "breadcrumb" view in Windows Explorer. The nice thing about it is that you can click anywhere in the path and go directly to that folder. You guessed it - there is a way to add this same type of functionality to XP, using a little add-in called Minimalist Explorer Tool Suite that lets you navigate more quickly through the folder hierarchy. Registration costs $7.95, but you can install and use it indefinitely without registering if your budget is really tight. You can read about it and download it here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Explorer-Tool-Suite

At eight years of age, XP might be getting a little long in the tooth, but there's still plenty of life in the old gal yet - and you can get many of the same benefits that Vista and Windows 7 have without giving up the tried and true.

Tell us what you think. Do you plan to stick with XP for a few more months or years? If so, are you doing it primarily for financial reasons? Have you seen Windows 7 features that you would like to have in XP, in addition to the ones we mention here? Have you already added third party programs to expand the functionality of XP and make it more like Vista and Windows 7 in some ways? We invite you to discuss this topic in our forum at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Forum-Discussion


Follow-up: Breaking up is harder to do when you share a computer

In last week's editorial, I discussed a topic suggested by one of our readers who had recently gone through a marital breakup and found that the pain was compounded by the complications caused by sharing a computer with his spouse. I noted that the "family computer" concept has its place - especially for keeping tabs on what kids are doing online - but in many cases it may be better for the adults to have their own separate computer space. Several of our readers weighed in on the subject in the forum.

A very good suggestion was to invest in setting up a server on your home network. That has been our solution for a long time, as our network is a Windows domain running Windows Server - but for most families, the cost is not feasible. Our reader reminded me, though, that you can instead use Microsoft's Small Business Server (SBS), which is much less expensive and still allows the network administrator/parent to control what users/kids can do.

An alternative to SBS, the latest version of which retails for $1089 with 5 client access licenses, is the new Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation edition. It's only available to OEMs, which means you buy it pre-installed on a machine, but the software cost is less and it's likely you will be able to get a Foundation server computer for well under $1000. It supports up to 15 users and doesn't require CALs (if you have more than 5 users for SBS, you have to buy additional licenses at $77 per user or $385 for a five pack). As you can see in this chart, Foundation edition supports most of the same features as its Windows Server 2008 R2 "big brothers" that cost thousands of dollars:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Feature-Comparison

Why does SBS cost more? That's because it comes with Microsoft Exchange Server (email server), Windows SharePoint Services, Windows Update Services, Frontfront Security for Exchange and integration with Office Live for Small Business. The premium addition adds the SQL Server 2008 database server. But if you don't intend to run your own email server or create SharePoint sites, you can save quite a bit by going with Foundation edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 for your home domain.

It sounds as if the majority of readers who responded favor separate computers for family members, although a few have shared computers with a spouse at one time or another and there were some advocates of the family computer, in a "public" part of the house, as a means of keeping the kids in line. One forum participant pointed out another important reason to have two or more PCs in the house: if one fails, you still have a computer that you can use. Another pointed out that no matter how well you and your spouse get along, it's almost inevitable that sooner or later you'll both need (or want) to use the computer at the same time Having separate PCs solves that problem. And yet another reader noted that the kids often need to use the computer to do homework, so giving them their own may not be as much of a luxury as it sounds.

Thanks to all who participated in the discussion on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor
feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow Deb on Twitter

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called Win7News? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Win7News

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-WServerNews

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Quotes of the Week

Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog. - Doug Larson

Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don't let anybody else use it and get a new one every six months. - Clifford Stoll

Never let a computer know you're in a hurry. - Author unknown.






Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-SPF





 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

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Replace the horrendous Word 2007 ribbon with familiar Office 2003 functionality. Try Classic Menu For Word 2007.
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Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.
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Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!
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PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-PC-Tune-Up

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Registry-First-Aid

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.
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Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-iPod-Video-Converter

Unclog Vista! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Vista-Optimizer





 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Taking some of the pain out of a reformat and reinstall

What's the most annoying thing about reinstalling your operating system? Hunting down, downloading and reinstalling all those applications, right? You probably have the discs for your commercial programs, but if you're like most of us, there may be dozens of freeware apps that you use and they're scattered all over the web. Well, here's at least a partial solution to that problem: it's called Ninite and it contains a catalog of popular free software programs. You simply check the boxes for the ones you want and it will automatically install them all without any help from you (choosing default settings and refusing add-ons). Find out more about it in Aric Annear's blog post here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Easiest-Hack-Ever


First Microsoft Store opens in Arizona

Microsoft held the grand opening for its first Microsoft retail store last Thursday (not so coincidentally, on the same day Windows 7 was officially released) in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was an apparent success, with "throngs" of people showing up to browse the aisles of Microsoft software and hardware products. More stores will be opening soon. Personally, I was never that impressed with the Apple Stores and I won't be hunting down a bricks and mortar outlet to buy my Microsoft products either, but some folks actually like to shop. What about you?
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Microsoft-Store


"Soft" Kindle for your PC

Having been successful in marketing their Kindle hardware device for reading electronic books, Amazon is now planning to release a Kindle application that you can install on your PC to serve the same purpose. This actually makes more sense to me than buying and carrying around a special purpose device; now you can just load the app on your laptop and read ebooks using the same hardware you use to check your email, browse the web and do other work. It might even help the sales of tablet PCs, since that form factor is especially fitted to reading. Find out more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Kindle-for-PC


Happy birthday to the Internet

Although it's difficult to pinpoint exactly when the Internet began, many claim October 29, 1969 - when the first message was sent across it. If we go with that, the birth of the Internet missed falling on Bill Gates' birthday by only one day, although Bill (born October 28, 1955) is a few years older. This means that this week the Internet turns forty. They grow up so darn fast.
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-40th-Birthday





 How To: Using XP Features

How to get rid of the QuickTime icon in the XP system tray

QuickTime is annoying to me on many levels. It always seems to mess up something when I install it on a computer, and when it updates itself, it always tries to trick me into installing iTunes, which I do not want. Another annoyance is that it installs itself into the system tray without asking if I want it there. Luckily, it's pretty easy to remove its icon. Here's how:

  1. Right click the QuickTime icon in the system tray
  2. Click QuickTime Preferences
  3. Click the Advanced tab
  4. Close to the bottom of the page, click to uncheck the box that says "Install QuickTime icon in system tray"




 Security News

Phones are becoming a target for virus and malware authors

With so many people now carrying iPhones and other "smart phones" that are basically handheld computers, the devices have become a much more attractive target for the bad guys who write viruses and other malicious software. Folks are now using their phones to pay bills, make purchases and engage in other financial transactions, which means an opportunity for hackers to steal passwords and identity information that can be lucrative for them. Get ready for a time when you need to install antivirus protection on your phone.
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Smartphone-Security





 XP Question Corner

Is there a way to remove the built-in Search bar in IE 7?

QUESTION:
I use Windows XP with IE7. I have my Yahoo toolbar that I downloaded and use it to do searches. IE 7 has a search field that's built in (unlike IE 6). I don't use it or need it. Is there a way that I can take out the built-in one? Thanks! - Ricky T.

ANSWER:
I like the built-in search box that Microsoft introduced with Internet Explorer 7, but if you use some other toolbar, you might not. You can remove it by editing the registry. As always, back up the registry before you make changes to it. Here are the instructions for the edit:

  1. Open your registry editor and navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Policies \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ Infodelivery \ Restrictions
  2. Right click an empty space in the right pane, and select New and then DWORD value
  3. Name the new value NoSearchBox
  4. Double click the new value and set the value data to 1
  5. Close the registry editor
Now your Search box should be hidden.




 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Can't open MMC in localized version of XP SP3

If you have a localized version of Windows XP with Service Pack 3 installed, you might find that you can't open some of the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-ins. When you try to do so, you get an error message that says "MMC could not create the snap-in." This happens because of a problem with the MMC 3.0 .dll files. There's a hotfix available for the problem. To find out how to get it, see KB article 957502 at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-MMC-Snap-Ins


You get a blank screen when resuming from hibernation

If you're running Windows XP SP3, when you resume the system from hibernation you might get a blank screen instead of the normal Windows splash screen. This is actually a known issue with XP SP3 and there's basically nothing you can do about it. It does not indicate a problem; even though the screen is blank, the system is resuming from hibernation normally so just allow it to continue and you will see the desktop displayed. For documentation, see KB article 972817 at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Resuming-From-Hibernation





 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.





 Product of the Week

Haunted House 3D Screensaver - Transform Your Home Into The Creepiest Haunted House On The Block This Halloween

Get into the Halloween mood with the Haunted House 3D Screensaver! Behold the gothic-inspired gorgeously sinister landscape of the mysterious castle, twisted old trees forming fantastic silhouettes against the huge full moon, and the old graveyard. All of our darkest fears are elevated to a new level with this screensaver. The dark, the unknown, the creepy, the horrible and the sinister. The Haunted House will send chills up your spine and make the hair stand up on your visitors necks as they listen to the sounds of the unknown emanate from your home. It's not what's seen but "the unseen" that chills the bones. Cast a scary shadow of moving things all over your living room in either normal or wide screen mode as your Halloween visitor line up to get their treats. Download the free trial from the famous collection of 3D masterpieces.
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091027-Halloween-Screensaver




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