For years I’ve been advising Windows consumers to disable Automatic Updates:
Keep Microsoft’s mitts off your machine until you’re darn sure the
proffered patches do more good than harm.
I’ve taken a lot of flak for that heretical stance, vilified for intimating that
Microsoft’s patching process leaves consumers in the lurch. Bah. Recent events
have proved my point conclusively: Windows auto-update is for chumps.
I don’t gush over new software very often. Most of what I see looks like
same-old, same-old, maybe with a burnished bell here or a twisted whistle there.
But I recently found something new — something exciting — on the Web, and it’s
saved my tail a couple of times. If you haven’t seen SiteAdvisor, you should
look. If you don’t use SiteAdvisor, you should try.
You’re a savvy Windows XP insider. You already know that you can pin programs
on the Start menu. Cool. Hanging your most-used programs on Start makes
it easy to get them cranked up, even when you’re bleary-eyed and blue-toothed,
and your mouse has a mind of its own.
But did you know that you can also pin folders, files, documents —
even Web pages — to the Start menu? Check out these tricks to
make the most of that prime piece of real estate.
Does Office think your name is “Satisfied Dell Customer”? When you install
new programs, do they want to send a confirmation e-mail to “OEM User”?
Or — raise your hand if this sounds familiar — when you first installed
Windows, did you misspell your own name? Hey, it’s happened to me. More than
once. If you’ve ever wanted to turn back the clock and tell Windows or Office
that the name or organization permanently emblazoned in your PC’s memory is all
wet, this secret’s for you.
I’ve spent most of the past
three weeks slogging through the “February
Community Technology Preview” of the next version of Windows — Vista Build
5308, to the tech-savvy.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I’m excited about a new product
from Microsoft. Vista holds tremendous promise. Whether the final product will
live up to the promise, though, is anyone’s guess.
I’ve seen (and reviewed) enough Windows XP utilities to bust a billion
bottomless bit buckets. The world’s full of ‘em.
But when a good friend recently asked, “What utilities do you really
use, Woody?”, I had to stop for a while and think. You see, truth be told,
I keep very few utilities on my main machine. Too much
headache. Too little benefit. Hard to keep them all straight.
Windows XP’s System Restore can save your bacon. But it wallows in disk space
like a hog.
If you understand the secrets of System Restore, you can save yourself untold
headaches when things inevitably go bump in the night. And you can reclaim a few
zillion megabytes of pure Windows pork while you’re at it.
Those 8-megapixel cameras take great pictures, don’t they? Faaaaaaat. In
more ways than one.
The top complaint I’ve heard since the holidays has nothing to do with
rootkits, WMF files, or patches of patches. Nope. The people I know who scream
the loudest got expensive new cameras, and they’ve learned that they can’t do
much with their pictures.
If your holiday season was anything like mine, you probably received a fair amount of
software, either off the shelf, or bundled with a new PC. Seems that CDs have replaced
silk ties as the gift of choice when trying to buy for someone who has
But CDs and DVDs today can hold dangers that you should avoid. Let’s look at how
one simple change can make you immune to those headaches.
I’ve spent most of this year — I’m tempted to say “wasted most of this year”
— writing about Windows security holes, patches, patches of patches, threats,
and vulnerabilities, both real and imagined.