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FCC says No to Internet over TV airwaves
We’ve got TV over IP, but what about IP over TV? Microsoft, Dell, Google and several other companies teamed up to create a device that would provide an Internet connection over unused television airwaves but the FCC shot it down late last month, saying there was too much potential for interference with TV broadcasts. The battle’s not over, though; despite protests from TV broadcasters, technology companies are still looking for a way to address the problems, saying this could make high speed Internet services available and affordable in rural areas. Read more here.

XP SP3 – it’s alive!
Well, sort of. Although not yet available to the public, Microsoft has released a beta version of the long awaited and much anticipated Service Pack 3 for Windows XP to a limited number of beta testers. There are a few screen shots floating around out there on the web, with links here.

Vista Fix Packs available
Last week, Microsoft released final versions of two “fix packs” containing updates that will probably be part of Vista Service Pack 1. At the time of this writing, they weren’t yet available through automatic updates but you can download them from the Microsoft web site. They’re designed to improve several performance, reliability and compatibility issues, including memory leaks, file corruption issues, problems installing printers, video driver problems (including the “display driver has stopped responding and has recovered” error that was driving me nuts a few weeks ago), problems with Internet Connection Sharing and more. Download the fixes from these sites: Pack 1, Pack 2.

Make Zipped Folders in XP
We got so used to using third party software for zipping folders that many of us just kept on using those programs when Windows XP was released. Surprisingly, some folks don’t even realize that XP supports creating zipped folders without installing any third party zipper. Here’s how you create a zipped folder in XP:

  1. Click Start | My Computer
  2. Open the drive or folder where you want to create the zipped folder.
  3. Click File | New and select Compressed (zipped) Folder.
  4. Type a name for the folder.
  5. Press Enter.

The folder will have a zipper icon to indicate that it’s zipped. Now you can drag and drop files into the folder and they will automatically be compressed. When you open a zipped folder, you’ll see the selection to Extract All Files in the list of Folder Tasks.

Nine Security Fixes Coming on Patch Tuesday
August 14th is this month’s Patch Tuesday at Microsoft, and they’re expected to release nine security bulletins, with six of them rated as “critical.” One of the critical vulnerabilities is in Microsoft Office and two are related to Internet Explorer. Be sure your systems are updated for best security. Read more about these upcoming fixes here.

Can I create a custom toolbar in XP?
I liked the idea of creating a custom toolbar in Windows Vista that you included in your last letter, I’m wondering if it’s possible to do so in Windows XP. Know of anything? – Jason L.

ANSWER: It’s not quite as easy as in Vista (where you can just drag a folder to the edge of the screen and it becomes a toolbar) but you can do it. First create the folder with the files or program shortcuts you want to put in the toolbar. Then right click the taskbar and select Toolbars and then New Toolbar. In the New Toolbar dialog box, browse to the folder you created and double click it. The new toolbar will appear on the taskbar. Be sure the taskbar is unlocked (right click it and click Unlock Taskbar if it’s not). Then you can grab the new toolbar and drag it to a different edge of the screen.

Why doesn’t Vista show all my RAM?
QUESTION: I have Vista Ultimate 32-bit installed with 4GB RAM, but Vista only reports 2.8GB; this seems to be a common theme among many users. Can you comment on this limitation and why it seems that 4GB is reported as less than 3GB even when the BIOS reports the entire 4GB installed? – Paul N.

ANSWER: I had the same problem when I got my Dell XPS. Here’s why: In the 32 bit environment, Vista’s address space is limited to 4 GB. However, the operating system can’t access memory that’s relocated above the 4 GB boundary. Some of the memory may have been relocated to make room for addresses that the BIOS reserves for hardware.

You can force the system to address memory that’s above the boundary by enabling Physical Address Extension (PAE) mode. To do so, you have to add PAE to the Boot Configuration Database (BCD) file. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Navigate to the command prompt executable (cmd.exe) and right click it.
  2. Select Run as Administrator.
  3. Click Continue or enter administrative credentials at the UAC prompt.
  4. Type the following: BCDEDIT /SET PAE ForceEnable
  5. You should see a message that the operation completed successfully.

When you restart the system, Windows should report all of your RAM. You may need to refresh the Windows Experience Index (WEI) in the System applet to detect the change. For more info, click here.

Troubleshooting sound problems in Windows XP
It’s a common enough problem: you had sound before, but suddenly your computer has gone silent. Or the sound might play, but it’s distorted. Sometimes the computer will hang up or even reboot unexpectedly when you play a sound. What’s up with that? Sound problems can be frustrating because there are many possible causes, but KB article 307918 will help you pinpoint what’s wrong and get some sound back into your life again.

Some display names are blocked in Windows Messenger
If you try to use a trademarked name (such as “MSN”) as your display name in Windows Messenger, guess what? You’ll get a message telling you that the name is invalid? What? But your name is Michael Scott North and those are your initials? Too bad – you’ll have to pick another name. If you don’t believe me, see KB article 307296.

Until next week,

Deb Shinder