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Should we tear down the Internet and start all over?
The global network that we now know as the Internet was not, contrary to popular belief, carefully designed by Al Gore. Instead, it “just grew that way” out of the military and university sponsored ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) project. It was based on protocols that were designed with no real concern for security and that never anticipated the huge volume of traffic, nor the types of traffic (such as streaming audio and video) that go over the ‘net today.

Now some university researchers are saying that we should scrap the whole thing and start over. I don’t know about that. Sure, we might end up with something much better in the end, but the interim phase might be awfully painful (think about the disruption caused by major road reconstruction projects). Read more about the idea here.

Support a cause or charity as you chat
Microsoft has a new initiative whereby they will share part of the Windows Live Messenger advertising revenue with various organizations such as the Red Cross or Sierra Club each time a user starts an IM conversations using WLM. You get to choose the organization you want to support, by joining the program here.

Buying online without a credit card
Want to take advantage of low online prices but don’t have a credit card or don’t feel comfortable sending your credit card info over the ‘Net? You’re in luck; it seems more and more online retailers are now accepting “nontraditional” payment methods such as PayPal and Google Checkout. Read more here.

Vistareliablit7127371231777Vista Reliability Monitor
Another new feature in Vista is the Reliability Monitor, which has been added to the Performance tool that you may be familiar with from Windows XP. When you try to open the Reliability and Performance Monitor from the Administrative Tools menu, you’ll be prompted for elevation of privileges. Then in the console, click Reliability Monitor in the left pane and you’ll see the System Stability Chart and System Stability Report in the right pane. Here you can see a history of hardware and application failures, software installations and uninstalls and other reliability-related information. This makes it easy to see if, for example, the installation of a program or driver corresponds with the time you started to experience application failures. You can see a screenshot of the reliability monitor here.

How to get and use more Vista gadgets
The sidebar is one of the cool new features in Vista, but you aren’t limited to just the sidebar gadgets that come with the OS. You can find all sorts of new ones here. Note that you can install the same gadget more than once; for instance, I have a simple digital clock gadget that’s installed in five instances, one for each of several time zones I want to keep up with.

Have more gadgets than will fit on the sidebar and don’t like having to use the arrow buttons to move to the second sidebar “page?” Did you know you can detach gadgets from the sidebar and place them on your desktop? Line them up on the other side of the screen or on a second monitor to create a “second sidebar.” You can take a look at my sidebar gadgets on my April 15 blog post.

How to keep your frequently used programs secret in XP
Don’t want others who use your computer to know what programs you use most frequently, or just want to keep a specific program from being displayed in the Most Frequently Used Programs list? Do this for each program:

  1. Start the registry editor.
  2. Navigate to the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTApplications and find the program that you want to hide
  3. Create an empty string value named NoStartPage
  4. Close the registry editor and restart the computer.

Don’t fall for the “Microsoft Lottery” scam
This one has been making the rounds for a while now, but some folks are still getting taken in. The email message purports to be from Microsoft, announcing that you’ve won a big lottery prize. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is just a variation on the old Nigerian scam. Read more here.

Hack: Move the My Documents folder in Windows XP
This is a hack that should only be used if, for some reason, you can’t move the My Documents folder to another location (normally, you right-click on My Documents, choose Properties, then Move). This method involves editing the Registry, so be sure to back it up before you begin just to be safe. My Documents is a “shell folder” which Windows treats as a special type of folder. Here’s how:

  1. In the Registry Editor, navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerUser Shell Folders
  2. Double click MyDocuments in the right pane.
  3. In the Value Data field, type the new location path and click OK.

This moves the folder but not its contents. You’ll have to move the current contents manually (drag and drop or cut and paste in Explorer). If you aren’t comfortable editing the Registry, you can install TweakUI for XP and use it to move the folder. You can download it from the Download list in the right hand column here. You can also read more about moving shell folders here.

Again, this method is recommended only if all other options fail.

Vista won’t start after you install XP in a dual boot configuration
I’ve heard from several people recently who bought new computers with Vista preinstalled, but they want to install XP. However, they don’t want to wipe out Vista; they want to be able to dual boot between the two. Unfortunately, installing XP after Vista can cause Vista to be unbootable. KB article 919529 explains why and provides the solution.

How to delay loading of specific services in XP
Sometimes, especially with older computers, you might need to delay loading of some Windows services in order for the computer to boot properly. You can control how services are loaded by editing the Registry. For instructions on how to do it, see KB article 193888.

Can’t access XP computer on the network?
Are you having trouble accessing an XP computer on your home or office network? A friend of mine recently installed Vista but couldn’t get his Vista machine to access resources on his XP machine. Turns out this is a registry configuration issue that can be easily fixed by a simple registry edit. Thanks to Jeff for the tip. For instructions, see KB article 913628.

Until next week,

Deb Shinder