More for the Money: Is Software “Bloat” Really Such a Bad Thing?
One complaint we often hear about Microsoft software, especially Microsoft Office, is that the programs are too big and have too many features that many people never use. But with today’s huge hard disks, is that really a problem? Wouldn’t you prefer to have those features there in case you do need them someday? My friend George Ou tackles this topic in his blog post here. And I expand more on my own thoughts about it in my April 27 blog post here.
Closer Look at Windows Home Server
When we announced Windows’ new Home Server product a while back, we got lots of responses from readers expressing interest. The need for an easy to set up and maintain server for home networks seems to be out there, but does WHS fit the bill? Ed Bott certainly thinks so. He offers a good review of the product along with a comprehensive image gallery so you can see exactly what the interface looks like. Take a look here.
Track your airline flight in 3D
If your loved one is in route home to you from far away, now you can track him/her every mile of the way – and do it in 3D. FboWeb has an application that works in conjunction with Google Earth to show the flight path of a selected flight over a virtual landscape, all in real time. How cool is that? There’s a detailed review here.
First Public Beta of Longhorn Server Released
Microsoft released the third beta (and the first one available to the general public) of the next generation of their Windows server operating system, code named Longhorn, on April 25th. It includes a number of new security enhancements, improved management tools, the Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0 web server, Network Access Protection (NAP) technology and is designed to work with the Vista client OS to provide a more secure and feature- rich networking environment. You can download the beta here.
If you don’t want to install it, but would like a look at the interface, there’s a slideshow walk- through here.
Where’s the built-in Administrator account?
In previous versions of Windows, many users used the built-in Administrator account on a regular basis. This account has full control over everything on the computer. When you install Vista, you may be surprised to learn that the Administrator account is disabled by default. That’s to encourage you to follow best practices and create your own administrative account. It also makes it a little harder for hackers; they all knew that the account named Administrator existed and so had half of what they needed (the account name) to log on with it.
You can enable the built-in Administrator account if you really want to, by running the Command Prompt as administrator (right click its icon and select Run as Administrator; click Continue at the UAC prompt) and typing the following:
net user administrator /active:yes
This causes the Administrator account to appear on the Welcome screen. Note that it does not have a password set by default; the first thing you should do is set a strong password for it.
How to set up a wireless network with Windows Connect Now
Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista both include the Windows Connect Now technology that makes it easier to set up a wireless network and add devices to it. You can use a USB flash drive to save the network configuration information and transfer it to compatible devices. Here’s how:
- Click Start Control Panel.
- In XP, click Network and Internet Connections, then Wireless Network Setup Wizard. In Vista, click Network and Sharing Center, then Set Up A Connection or Network, then Set Up a Wireless Router or Access Point.
- Select “Use a flash drive” on the “How do you want to set up your network?” page.
- Insert the USB flash drive into a USB port on the computer. The wizard will save your wireless configuration settings to the flash drive.
- You will then plug the flash drive into each computer or other compatible device (printers, routers) that you want to add to the network.
If you don’t have a flash drive or some devices aren’t compatible with Windows Connect Now, the wizard will guide you through the process of setting up the network manually.
Beware QuickTime exploit no matter what browser you use
A newly discovered vulnerability in Apple’s QuickTime poses a risk to anyone who has the QT plug-in installed and Java turned on. That includes users of most major web browsers: Safari, Firefox and IE (including IE 7). It’s been rated highly critical. There are two ways to protect yourself: uninstall QT or turn off Java. Read more here.
Phishers exploit call forwarding to steal your information
A new form of phishing attack has emerged recently, in which identity thieves send an email that attempts to trick you into forwarding your calls to the phisher’s own phone number after supposedly updating your personal information with your bank (actually with the phisher’s site). Now if the bank calls you about suspicious transactions, the phisher can intercept the call. Always be on the lookout for these types of scams. You can read more here.
Just the fax?
QUESTION: Now I have this new Vista machine (only had it for two days) and I can locate the fax modem, but I do not have any way to send a fax. One tech support said since I have Home Basic, I cannot use the fax modem. Another told me that if I looked hard enough I would find the fax console, and yet another told me I had to install third party software. PLEASE help me! I need my fax sending ability. Thanks! -Angie H.
I’m afraid the person who told you to install third party software is correct. If you take a look at the features comparison list for the Vista editions, you’ll see that Vista Home Basic doesn’t include the Windows Fax and Scan program – and in fact, neither does Home Premium, since faxing is considered to be more of a business application. It’s included in Business and Ultimate editions. Link here.
Several people have reported that Snappy Fax version 4.0 works well with Vista Home editions. It costs $29.99 and there’s a 30 day free trial so you can find out if it works for you before you buy. Note that there are reports that it doesn’t work well with Vonage VoIP lines but if you have a traditional phone line for faxing, it should work fine. There are undoubtedly other fax programs for Vista out there, but this is the one I’ve been hearing good things about. Link here.
Can’t start Windows firewall service in XP SP2
If you get an error message when you click the Windows Firewall applet in Control Panel or try to manually start the firewall service from the Services console on an XP computer running Service Pack 2, it may be because certain administrative templates from the XP Security Guide were applied to the computer before SP2 was installed. There are a couple of ways to fix the problem, both of which are described in KB article 892199.
How to determine whether your version of XP Media Center Edition works with Xbox 360
You can use the Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender – but your XP Media Center Edition computer must be running the correct version. If you’re thinking about buying an Xbox for this purpose and want to know first whether your Media Center will work with it, see KB article 909343.
.BMP files don’t appear in the Media Center Picture Library in Vista
If you’re running Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate edition with Media Center and you add a folder containing only bitmap files to the picture library, you may find that the pictures don’t appear in the library. This is because Windows Media Center uses the Windows Media Player 11 picture library and it no longer supports .bmp or .gif files. However, there’s an easy workaround, which you can find in KB article 933667.
Until next week,
Deb Shinder, MVP