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Watch out for “free” wireless scam
There’s a new scam out there that takes advantage of those who are looking for a bargain. Attackers are setting up wireless networks at popular locations such as airports, naming their networks “Free Wi-fi” or something similar, and waiting for unsuspecting users to connect. You see it in your list of networks and connect, and you can browse the Internet without paying the daily fees usually charged by providers that operate at the airports. What’s the catch? The guy who set up the network may be able to access the files on your laptop and capture the passwords you enter to access financial web sites and such. Ouch! Read more about it here.

Vista DreamScene: cool wallpaper
DreamScene, an “Ultimate Extra” for Windows Vista Ultimate edition, is finally available for download. This is a technical preview, and it will show up as an optional update in Windows Update. It allows you to set a video as your desktop wallpaper instead of a still graphic. That means you get a moving picture as your background. I tried it out with a video loop of a flock of birds taking flight by the ocean, and it was impressive, spread across three monitors. However, it pegged one of my processors at about 50% (with nothing else running) and caused slight but noticeable latency when I tried to type an email message with the video background running. So I turned it off. It does, however, offer a peek at what’s possible in the way of Vista “eye candy” and maybe the final release will be less processor-intensive. You can read more about it here.

How to make IE open maximized in XP SP2
If you click the short cut to IE in Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and it doesn’t open maximized (but clicking the Maximize button does maximize the window), it’s probably because the shortcut has “Normal Window” set as its default Run property. If you want it to always open maximized, here’s how to change that:

  1. Right click the desktop.
  2. Create a shortcut to Program Files/Internet Explorer/iexplore.exe.
  3. Now right click the shortcut and click Properties.
  4. Click the Shortcut tab.
  5. Change the value in the Run command to “Maximized.”
  6. Click Apply.

Now IE will open maximized when you click any shortcut for it.

The Last Great Security Crisis
Larry Seltzer’s column in eWeek last week addressed the security improvements that Microsoft has made to its operating systems over the past few years and pointed out that the last big security issue remaining is … the old Microsoft Office file formats. Not a big surprise, considering all the zero day exploits you hear about that affect Word and Excel. This, rather than the neat new ribbon interface, may be the best reason to upgrade to Office 2007. Read the article here.

Firefox security flaw lets attackers manipulate authentication cookies
If you use Firefox as your web browser, be aware of a new security vulnerability that can be exploited by malicious web sites to make users think they’re on a genuine site when it’s really a phishing site. Mozilla says this will be fixed in version Ensure that you have auto updates turned on in Firefox to get security fixes as quickly as possible. Read more about this one here.

Can’t create a new toolbar in Windows XP
If you try to create a new toolbar or enable the Quick Launch or Desktop toolbars and you get an error message that says “Cannot create toolbar,” it can be because a folder is missing or DLL files or registry entries are corrupted. To find out how to fix the problem, see KB article 555525.

No option to make pictures smaller when you send them in email
When you send photos via email, Windows gives you the option to make them smaller so as to require less bandwidth when recipients download them. This is especially useful if you’re sending someone with a slow dialup connection. If you don’t see this option, it may be because the shimgvw.dll file is not registered. To find out how to register the file and resolve the problem, see KB article 555547.

Deb Shinder, MVP