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(Back to the old format…)

Making XP Last
Not interested in switching to Vista now or in the future? Like XP just fine and want to keep it around forever – or at least for what passes for forever in the computer world? This article in ComputerWorld claims you can make XP last for the next seven years, and even better, shows you how to get many of Vista’s advantages on XP – even including cool “eye candy” features like Windows Flip 3D.

RIAA loses lawsuit – Bigtime
Although a few people have won their cases when lawsuits were brought against them by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in the past it still ended up costing them plenty to defend themselves in court. Now, for the first time, RIAA and Capitol Records have been ordered to pay the attorney’s fees to individuals who fought back and filed a counterclaim after being accused of copyright infringement. Read more about it here.

Official word on Vista support for Second Lifers
For those of you who participate in the Second Life web experience, the official blog from Linden (the company that makes it) last week noting that they are in the process of testing and validating support for Vista, and that generally the software works on Vista as long as you have a supported graphics card with the latest drivers. Here’s the web site showing the system requirements.

Cool new Windows Media Center features in Vista
Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions include Windows Media Center, which lets you turn your PC into a digital video recorder (DVR) and entertainment center for your home. The Vista version of WMC has a number of cool new features. For instance, you can watch and record HD cable content without a set- top box if you have a PC with CableCard support.

Another welcome change: you don’t have to buy a DVD decoder from InterVideo or another third party vendor. Now DVD codec support is included in Media Center. And in keeping with making your Media Center more like an appliance (think TiVO), you can configure it to start up like a CE device and you can lock the Media Center session, so that users can’t exit to the regular Vista desktop.

How to change file associations in XP
Sometimes when you install a new program, it may change the file associations. For instance, if you install a graphics program such as PhotoShop, you might find that it is now the default program to open picture files like .jpg and .gif, even though you prefer to have them opened by the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. Luckily, it’s easy to change the file associations so that files with the selected extension will open with the program of your choice. Here’s how:

  1. Right click the Start menu and select Explore.
  2. In Windows Explorer, click the Tools menu, then click Folder Options.
  3. Click the File Types tab.
  4. In the list of registered file types, scroll down to the file extension whose association you want to change and highlight it.
  5. Click the Change button.
  6. Scroll through the list of programs that can open the file type and select the one you want to use as the default. Be sure the box labeled “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” is checked.
  7. Click OK.

You can click the Browse button to look for the program if it doesn’t appear in the list.

How do I keep XP from connecting to wireless networks?
QUESTION: Last week I was traveling and discovered that my XP laptop was connecting to a wireless network without me doing anything. I’ve read about people getting in legal trouble for accessing wireless networks without permission, and besides I’m afraid of somebody hacking into my computer, so how can I make it stop this? Thanks. – Dana G.

ANSWER: The default is to connect to “any available network” and automatically connect to non-preferred networks, which helps to assure that you’ll get a connection if there is a non-secured network available anywhere in range, but it’s not so good for security (yours or the network owner’s). You should configure the wireless feature so that you’ll only connect to the network that you explicitly specify. Here’s how:

  1. Click Start | Control Panel.
  2. Double click Network Connections.
  3. Right click Wireless Network Connection and select Properties.
  4. Click the Wireless Networks tab.
  5. Under Preferred Networks, click the name of the network to which you want to connect.
  6. Click the Advanced button.
  7. Click “Access point (infrastructure) networks only.” This will prevent connecting to ad hoc wireless networks, which could be run by anyone in range with a wireless-enabled computer.
  8. Click to uncheck the box labeled “Automatically connect to non-preferred networks.”
  9. Click Close, then OK, and close the Network Connections window.

Now your wireless laptop should be a little pickier about connecting to every network that comes along.

Troubleshooting DVD problems in XP
Having problems playing DVDs on your Windows XP computer? From choppy video quality to black screens and lost audio, this DVD Troubleshooter walks you through the steps of diagnosing and fixing the problem. Just click the link in the KB article to start the Troubleshooter.

Error message when trying to play older games on XP or Vista
Sometimes when you try to play an older game on an XP or Vista computer, you get an error message that says “Game requires administrative rights to play” or something similar. Or you may be able to play, but the game doesn’t allow you to save or open files. In other instances, the operating system may not recognize the game disc at all. Any of these problem can be caused by using a limited user account to play a game that’s written to require admin privileges. KB article 893677 provides workarounds for both operating systems.

IE7 stops working when you move the contents of the Temporary Internet Files folder
If you’re running Internet Explorer 7 on Vista and you move the contents of the Temporary Internet Files folder to a different location, IE may stop working properly (web sites don’t open). This is because the user permissions on the new folder aren’t set correctly. Luckily, there is a process for restoring IE 7 to working order (without having to move the folder back). For step by step instructions, see KB article 937828.

Until next week,

Deb Shinder