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Most dangerous types of web sites
We all know that some web sites have embedded controls or code that can result in “drive-by downloads” – programs installed on your computer that you don’t want and that may be malicious. But are certain types of sites more likely to put you at risk than others? Absolutely. And if you search for certain terms, they have a higher probability of returning URLs that lead you to dangerous sites. According to an AP story last week, you’re in the most danger of stumbling across a malicious site when you search for terms related to music or technology. The good news is that the number of high risk sites in search engine results is lower than it was a year ago.

Send live video from your cell phone to the web
Want to share your son’s big moment in the high school football game with dad, who’s out of town on business, almost as it happens? Want grandma to be able to “be there” for your daughter’s graduation virtually as well as just in spirit, even though she lives a thousand miles away? A new service called PocketCaster lets you do all this and more. If you have the right model of G3 mobile phone, you can take video and broadcast it to a web page as a live stream with only a small delay (less than half a minute). Others can view it on their computers with Windows Media Player or QuickTime. Is that cool or what?

At the moment, it’s free, although you do have to sign up. You can install the software on your phone or, if your phone doesn’t support SMS, you can access the software from a web site via your phone’s web browser.

Why would an anti-spyware law be bad?
We all hate spyware, those insidious software programs that install themselves on our computers without our knowledge and then “phone home” with information about us. We hate it so much that many people said “there ought to be a law” – and that propelled legislators to do what some might argue legislators do best: pass hastily contrived and potentially harmful legislation.

The U.S. House recently passed the Spy Act by an overwhelming majority (368 to 48). After all, no one wants to appear to be soft on privacy violators. But many in the computer industry, who really understand the problem, believe it’s a bad law that will have unintended consequences. Read what our own Alex Eckelberry had to say about it in his blog a short while back for a better understanding of why this law is not the answer.

Customize IE 7 with free add-on
IE7 Pro is an add-on for the latest version of Internet Explorer that lets you extend its functionality by adding a Firefox type spell checker, tabbed browsing management, inline search and more. One cool feature is Super Drag and Drop, with which you can open new links by dragging and dropping them on the page. The crash recovery feature can be a godsend if you’re deep in a maze of research when IE gives up the ghost. It automatically restores open pages after the crash. You can check out all the features and download the software to give it a try.

Vista: Tag – you’re it!
One of the neatest new features in Windows Vista is the ability to tag your photo files without third party software. Tags are metadata (file properties) that can be searched, so adding tags makes it easier to organize and find your pictures. You can open the new info pane to add tags or view tag information about an existing file.

You can also add titles, subjects, ratings, comments, author name, copyright info and more to a photo’s properties. Just right click the photo file, select Properties and click the Details tab. When you hover over the Value column, a text box will appear where you can type in the information.

How to make the status bar display all the time in XP and Vista
I’ll never know why Microsoft doesn’t turn on the status bar at the bottom of the Windows Explorer window by default. Being able to see how many items are in a folder and the amount of disk space that’s free on the drive are convenient, but you have to go through a few steps to get it to display – even after you turn the feature on, it may go away when you move to a new folder unless you set it to stay permanently. Here’s how:

  1. Click Start Explore to open Windows Explorer.
  2. Click a folder in the left pane.
  3. Click the View menu and select Status Bar. This turns the status bar on, but only for that folder.
  4. Click the Tools menu and select Folder Options.
  5. Click the View tab.
  6. Under Folder Views, click the Apply To Folders button. This makes the view you just selected apply to all folders of the same type.

Four Fixes for June Patch Tuesday
This week brings us Patch Tuesday, and it’s a fairly light one. Microsoft is releasing only six security bulletins, but four are for critical problems (the highest possible severity rating) so it’s important that these get installed on your system ASAP if you use the products that are affected. That includes Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Mail and Visio.

Does Vista include DRM to keep me from playing or copying movies?
QUESTION: I’ve heard a lot of stuff about Vista’s digital rights management (DRM) that’s built in to keep us from being able to copy music and movie files. Is it true that Microsoft is trying to keep us from copying what we want to? I haven’t bought Vista yet, largely because of this issue. – Kim J.

ANSWER: It’s true that Vista contains copy protection technology. That technology is necessary for you to be able to play some of the new DVDs, especially HDTV and Blu-Ray movies. If Vista didn’t support the technology, those discs wouldn’t play at all, because the content owners build the protections into the discs themselves and those apply not just to Vista PCs but to DVD players and non- Windows computers. For a detailed discussion of this by Nick White, a Microsoft product manager, click here.

Network icon doesn’t update in XP
If you disconnect and then reconnect an Ethernet cable on Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (or Windows Server 2003), the network icon in the notification area (system tray) may not update to show the new status. Instead the red X indicating an unplugged cable remains. This only happens with particular network card drivers and it doesn’t affect the actual operation of the network, but if it bothers you, there’s a workaround. See KB article 899759.

Can’t remotely shut down an XP computer with screensaver active
If you find that you can’t do a remote shutdown on your Windows XP computer when the screensaver is active, it may be because a certain registry setting is disabled. There’s a hotfix; you can find out more in KB article 329142.

Can’t install some programs after restoring Vista

If you use the Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore Image option to restore a Vista computer, you might get an error message that says “the directory name is invalid” when you try to install certain programs. This happens because the Temp folder didn’t get restored. For instructions on how to fix the problem, see KB article 932142.

Until next week,

Deb Shinder