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(Note: An earlier version of this blog recommended some tools to delete duplicate files.  We have since removed these links pending further research.  Explanation here. )

Fix for some IE 7 rendering problems
IE 7 beta testers have noticed that quite a few web sites don’t work correctly in the new browser. In some cases, that’s because those sites are misidentifying it as an outdated version of the browser. This utility lets your IE 7 browser identify itself as IE 6, as a workaround to the problem. It didn’t solve my “tiny font” problem with IE 7, but it did seem to help with the text alignment problem I was experiencing with some pages. Link here.

Resize photos all at once
High megapixel digital cameras are popular and increasingly affordable, and that high resolution is needed when you want to print large copies of your photos. But when you’re sending them in email or putting them on a web page, it would be nice to be able to reduce them to a smaller size without having to do it one picture at a time. This handy little image resizer lets you resize or convert images from JPG, GIF or BMP formats in batch mode. Check it out here (also, if you have Microsoft Office, the Microsoft Office Picture Manager is quite a nifty little tool for this type of work). 

Can’t have your Java in a Glass?
If you pour hot coffee into a fragile glass cup, you may crack it. Likewise, Java-based applications don’t seem to want to play well with Vista’s Aero Glass interface. It seems running them causes the OS to revert to its non- transparent, non-3-D version. Not a huge problem, but it would be nice if that could be fixed before the final release. Read more about the problem here.

How secure are your credentials?
Is there a point at which requirements for increased length and complexity of passwords and random assignment of user account names – all in the name of better security – can backfire and result in a less secure system or network? That’s something I discussed last week in my technology and security blog. Scroll to the entry titled When “more secure credentials” aren’t.  Link here.

Vista Performance Information Feature
Vista has a new feature called the Windows Experience Index that lets you find out the base score for your system and individual scores for different components such as the processor, memory, hard disk, and graphics card. You find it in Control Panel, labeled Performance Information and Tools, and you can use the score to compare one system to another, to evaluate new PCs or the effect of hardware upgrades, and when buying software, to determine whether it will run properly on your PC. My system got very respectable 4 and 5 point something scores on processor, memory and hard disk, but my ATI Radeon X600 with 256 MB of RAM proved to be the “weak link” at 3.6/3.8. You can read more about it on the Vista team blog here.

How to Uninstall VTP or Get Rid of Aero (Transparent) Theme

Several of you who installed the Vista Transformation Pack asked how to get rid of the transparent background that’s installed by default as part of the VTP. Unfortunately, it’s part of the Aero Glass theme. You can get rid of it temporarily by switching to a different theme:

  1. Right click the Desktop and select Properties.
  2. Click the Appearance tab.
  3. Under Windows and Buttons, choose the Windows Classic or XP Style theme.
  4. Click OK.

To uninstall VTP completely, run the installer program again (Vista Transformation Pack 5.0 or 5.5.exe) and select “I want to enter Vista Transformation Pack – Maintenance Center,” then select “Uninstall Vista Transformation Pack.” From the Maintenance Center, you can also change the toolbar style, rebuild the icon cache, enable or disable themes services, or repair the transformation.

How to disable Remote Desktop using Group Policy
Remote Desktop is a great tool that allows you to connect to your XP Pro computer from another location, but for security reasons, you might want to prevent remote desktop connections. You can disable RD on the Remote tab in the Systems applet of Control Panel, but if you share the computer with others and don’t want them to be able to reenable it, or if you want to disable RD on a group of computers in a Windows domain, you can use Group Policy to disable it. Step by step instructions are in KB article 306300.

Can’t reconnect to a wireless network with a hidden SSID?
If your Windows XP SP2 computer is connected to a wireless network that doesn’t broadcast its SSID and you manually disconnect, you can’t reconnect either manually or automatically, unless you remove and re-create the SSID profile for the network in the Preferred Networks list. There’s a hotfix for this problem, but you’ll need to contact Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS) to get it. Find out how in KB article 907405.

Can’t change Windows wallpaper after removing spyware?
You may find that after you remove spyware from your Windows XP system, you’re still not able to change your desktop wallpaper. What’s up with that? The problem is that the malware has set the registry to hide or lock the display settings. You can fix the problem by editing the registry. Instructions are in KB article 921049. Note that this registry setting may also have been changed by an administrative policy, in which case you’re out of luck unless you can convince your system administrator to change

Deb Shinder, MVP