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Deals Too Good to Be True
We’ve all seen them: those ads for cheap software that seem too good to be true – and usually are. Get a perfectly legal copy of Windows XP Pro x64 for only $39.99? Well, not exactly that perfectly legal. Just because the seller claims it’s legit doesn’t make it legit, as the victims of scam artists throughout the ages have learned the hard way. Ed Bott recently delved into the problem in his blog post titled “How to Get Sued by Microsoft” here.

Vista Battery Life: Informal Survey
Last week, we asked if you agree with some users who are reporting that Vista is a battery hog on laptops. We got several responses and most of them reported no particular problems with battery usage. Steve S. said, “I am running a Dell Latitude. This is my first Dell ever, even after hearing many horror stories. I must say though that I am very happy with the battery life (and laptop) even with wireless via built in or through my PCMCIA Air Card.” Jon B. said, “I don’t notice a difference in battery performance on XP or Vista.” And Joe J. said, “I just had a new Laptop built by Alienware…it’s Vista Ultimate. I haven’t had any problem with the program being a battery hog.” And Mike V. said, “Remarkably my laptop had no noticeable change in battery life… My problem was with startup, shutdown and program management.”

A few readers did report significantly less battery time after upgrading to Vista, or with a new Vista laptop. Ann L. said “I went from a good four and a half hours with XP to less than three with Vista.” And Joe R. said, “Battery hog? For sure! I like the Vista look but I have to turn off Aero and dim the screen to get acceptable battery power.”

Is Dell headed in the right direction again?
Since Michael Dell took over the CEO duties again a few months ago, the company has been undergoing some quiet changes. According to one company rep, a key focus is addressing customer problems. Based on some of our reader mail, that should be a welcome change. Dell has lost market share to HP recently and those who like its products – but not necessarily its recent customer support and prices – are hoping the new management signals a return to the old days when the customer was king in Round Rock. Read more about Dell’s new direction here.

Will your iPod break your heart?
Well, maybe not – but a recent study suggests that the portable music players may interfere with the functions of cardiac pacemakers, a scary thought for heart patients who like to use music to soothe their savage breasts. Although the study didn’t address other brands of MP3 players, there’s a good chance that they’re guilty of the same type of electrical interference. Read more here.

The New Hotmail is here and … it’s Live
Windows Live Hotmail (yeah, we know the name leaves something to be desired) went live last week. This is the successor to MSN Hotmail, with an updated interface and new features. You’ll be able to access your Hotmail account from Outlook 2003 and above using the Office Outlook Connector, or you can use the Windows Live Mail client that will be available in beta in a few weeks. Read more about it here.

Windowseventviwerwe123888What’s new in Vista’s Event Viewer
Like all NT-based operating systems, Windows Vista includes the Event Viewer for looking at the results of the the system’s logging capabilities. You can access it from the Administrative Tools menu in Control Panel, but you’ll need to be logged on as an administrator or have admin credentials to enter. Vista’s Event Viewer has been enhanced in several ways.

You can now view events from multiple logs at the same time, and the new Actions pane makes it easier to perform tasks such as creating custom views, opening saved logs and connecting to a different computer. In addition the familiar Application, System and Security logs, Vista contains the Setup and Forwarded Events logs. The Forwarded Events log contains events collected from other computers. There are several more default logs available when you expand the Applications and Services Logs node, depending on the Vista edition. For example, in Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions, there’s a Media Center log.

You can now create a task to run automatically when a particular event occurs and even create a subscription to specified events on other computers on your network. Check out the new Event Viewer; you’ll find it’s much more robust than what you’re used to.

How to get the XP Powertoys Calculator to run in Vista
The Powertoy Calculator install file will not run in Vista, but here’s a workaround: Install the Powertoys Calculator from an XP install to a non- standard location (available to Vista), and then make the supplied shortcut available to Vista (assuming Vista and XP see your drive letters the same – otherwise drive letter editing on the shortcut will be required). Then from Vista, click the shortcut properties and make the compatibility options set for XP SP2 and ‘as Administrator’ and the Powertoy calculator runs fine.

For those not dual booting, but who have an XP computer available, copying these files to the Vista computer should have the same effect – again, shortcut editing may be necessary to reflect the new path. Note that a custom location install is necessary, as attempting to run the default installation location Powertoy Calculator’s .exe did not work in my dual boot environment (Vista can see and access the XP partition). (Thanks to Daniel T. for this tip)

Microsoft Malware Protection Center
Microsoft is making available a beta version of a new web portal to provide consumers with information about viruses, spyware and other malicious software. It’s called the Malware Protection Center and the plan is for it to go live in July. Meanwhile, you can read more about it here.

Why did the icons in the notification area (system tray) disappear?
If you’ve found on your Windows XP system that when you change to a new color scheme, the icons in the system tray disappear, it’s a known issue in both Windows XP Pro and Home editions. If you use the Classic theme and select a High Contrast color scheme, the notification area icons may disappear. The workaround is to lock the taskbar. To do that, right click an empty area on the taskbar and click Lock The Taskbar. Another solution is to change the size of the taskbar (drag it up to make it taller), then restore it to the previous size. This problem is addressed in KB article 321213 here.

How to set up a small network with XP Home Edition
Want to create a home network with your XP Home computers? This guide takes you through the steps, from buying the hardware to configuring TCP/IP and sharing folders and printers. To connect up to six workstations in a workgroup, see KB article 813936.

Get the Vista SD Hotfix Rollup
Microsoft has released a hotfix rollup package to address problems encountered in using Secure Digital (SD) cards on Vista-based computers. These include failure of the operating system to detect an SD card, corruption of files when you copy more than 4 GB of data to a high capacity SD card, and a situation where an SD card stops responding when your Vista computer resumes from sleep or hibernation two times. For more information about how to get the update, see KB article 933847.

Until next week,

Deb Shinder, MVP