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How to log onto XP if you forget your password
With all the information we have to remember these days, it’s not a surprise that sometimes folks forget their logon passwords. If you created a password reset disk, just follow the directions for using it in KB article 305478.

If you never quite got around to it, you can still log on as an administrator and change the password for your primary account. Once you’ve logged on with an admin account, just do the following:

  1. Click Start Run.
  2. In the Open field, type: control userpasswords2
  3. Click OK.
  4. Click the user account for which you’ve forgotten the password and click Reset Password.
  5. Type a new password and confirm it, then click OK again.

Note that if you’ve used a public key to encrypt email messages or encrypted files with EFS, you may not be able to access them after resetting the password this way. That’s why you should create a password reset disk – now!

Daylight Saving Time change: how will it affect your computer?
One aspect of a Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated a big change in daylight saving time, which will be extended by four additional weeks starting in 2007. Well, 2007 is here and the change takes effect on March 11, when DST starts three weeks earlier than usual. Folks with older computers are wondering what problems, if any, the time change will cause. If your computer is relatively new and automatically updated, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Older operating systems may require you to manually update. Microsoft is making update tools available for Windows, Outlook, Exchange and mobile products.

For more info about Microsoft products affected by the change and what you should do to make the transition easier, including links to update utilities, click here.

All versions of Windows can be updated using the procedure in KB article 914387 here.

OneNote 2007: Give it a Try
OneNote is Microsoft’s notetaking application. It really shines on Tablet PCs, but is also a useful way to organize your notes on any Windows computer. The latest version, OneNote 2007, includes some nice updates. The drawing tools are better, navigation is easier and you get full drag and drop functionality. You can also create multiple notebooks for different projects, and you can search for text within pictures and spoken words in audio and video recordings.

Other improvements include ability to print to OneNote, support for web links and links to other documents and files or other pages within the notebook, and the ability to embed files from other apps into notebook pages. You can even share notebooks when working with others. But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can download a 60 day trial version and see for yourself. Visit the web site here.

Preview files in Explorer without opening them
One of my favorite features in Vista is the ability to view files so much more easily in Explorer. How many times have you been searching for a document and not been able to tell whether you’ve found the right one by the name alone? XP gave us the ability to view thumbnails of picture files right there in Explorer, and Vista takes it a step further, allowing you to see thumbnails of all sorts of files and view the contents of documents in the preview pane (similar to the way you can preview email messages in Outlook) without opening the files. You can see the preview pane in Figure G of my article titled More Than Just a Pretty Interface: File Management with Vista Explorer, here.

Changing file names in Vista
Here’s one of those very little things that help to make an OS more usable: in XP, if you want to rename a file, you have to type the entire new name, including the file extension – even though in 99% of cases you want the extension to remain the same. If you forget and just type the name, you get a message warning: “If you change a filename extension, the file may become unusable. Are you sure you want to change it?” When you click No, you have to start all over again, renaming the file and remembering this time to type the extension, too. Vista is a little smarter, and by default when you select “Rename” from the right context menu, only the name itself (preceding the dot) is selected for renaming. I like that.

Zero Day Vulnerability in Microsoft Word
Last week, Microsoft confirmed that there’s an unpatched vulnerability in Word that’s being used by attackers in so-called “zero day” attacks. These are attacks that take advantage of software vulnerabilities for which there is no currently available fix. “Zero day” is the time between the release of the malicious code and the release of a patch to protect against it. Read more about the latest attack here.

Meanwhile, a new zero day attack was reported Sunday that exploits Microsoft Excel. Until a patch is available, you should avoid saving or opening Excel files and attachments unless you’re sure they’re safe. Read more here.

How to restore XP backups to Vista computer.
If you’re looking for a way to restore backups of your data that you made with the XP built in backup utility to a Vista computer, there is help. Just a little over a week ago, Microsoft released a new tool called the Windows NT Backup-Restore Utility. Although the name may confuse some folks into thinking it has something to do with Windows NT computers, it’s actually designed for the purpose of letting you restore backups made with the Windows XP and Server 2003 backup tool (the file name of which is NTBACKUP.EXE) to computers running Windows Vista or Longhorn Server.

It works with both the 32 and 64 bit editions of Vista and requires about 5 MB of disk space. You install it on the Vista machine and you can restore your XP backups (with the .BKF extension) to your new Vista machine.

It’s a free download from the Microsoft web site here.

“Explorer.exe has generated errors and will be closed by Windows”
If you have a Windows XP computer that was upgraded from a previous operating system, you might get an error message the first time you log on, along with a blank desktop or no desktop at all. What’s up with that? It’s usually due to the fact that Norton CleanSweep was installed in the previous OS. You’ll need to remove the CleanSweep program – but how do you do that with a blank desktop? There are a few different methods, which are described in KB article 314867.

You’re prompted to activate XP every time you start your computer
This is an annoying one. Even though you’ve successfully installed and activated Windows XP, you get prompted to activate Windows again every time you reboot. This is because a script is interfering with Windows activation. For both a Guided Help resolution and the manual solution, see KB article 312295.

“Access Denied” error when you try to encrypt My Documents in XP
If you try to use the cipher.exe command line program to encrypt the My Documents folder in Windows XP, you might get an Access Denied error message. What’s up with that? The latest service pack fixes the problem, but if you don’t want to install it for some reason, there’s a separate hot fix available from Microsoft. To find out how to get it, see KB article 839220.

Deb Shinder, Microsoft MVP