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Microsoft TechNet for the rest of us

Microsoft’s TechNet site, dubbed “Resources for IT Professionals,” is a rich repository of high-level geek talk plus tips for enterprise-class IT personnel.

But don’t let that reputation put you off — TechNet is also a gold mine of excellent tips and tricks for individual Windows users as well.

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Windows XP: Looking back, looking forward

On October 22, Microsoft pulled the plug on sales of Windows XP, ending the operating system’s spectacular nine-year run.

With no new copies being sold, support for XP will start to decline. Fortunately, XP’s long run has produced a ton of collected wisdom: everything you need to keep your copy going strong and — when ready — to help you move on.

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Cloak your connection to foil Firesheep snoopers

In his Oct. 28 In the Wild column, Robert Vamosi showed how easy it is to snoop a Wi-Fi connection using a clever Firefox add-in called Firesheep.

If you’re serious about protecting your surfing from prying eyes while on an unencrypted public Wi-Fi connection, the onus is on you to lock down your connections. Using virtual private networking (VPN) is one of the best ways I know to do that.

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Dropbox: File synching and sharing made easy

There’s no shortage of services offering file sharing, synching, and collaboration through the Internet.

But one service stands out from the rest. Dropbox is one of those simple applications that, once installed, quickly become an indispensable part of your computing process.

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Hybrid hard drives finally come of age

Once hailed as the perfect compromise between pricey solid-state drives and cheaper-but-slower platter models, hybrid hard drives quickly became a technological flash in the pan.

But new models from Seagate have resuscitated the technology — the Momentus XT line offers many of solid state’s benefits without the sticker shock.

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Simple change in settings pumps up Win7 networks

Windows 7 has many good things going for it, but home networking is not always one of them.

But with just two quick clicks within Win7′s Advanced sharing settings, you can improve your local network throughput by as much as 12%.

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Microsoft bags blogs, eviscerates Live Spaces

In a move that surprised many Windows watchers, Microsoft last week handed its online bloggers an eviction notice: they get six months to pick up and move — to WordPress.

Windows Live Spaces is now vacant, bequeathing Spaces users some tools to help them migrate to WordPress.

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IE 9 puts Microsoft back into the browser game

Internet Explorer has been a distant third-string player to Firefox and Chrome for so long, we thought it could never catch up.

But with a slick new interface and enhanced Windows 7 features, IE 9 — now in public beta — just might put Microsoft back at the top of the browser game.

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Coping with Windows Live Hotmail Wave 4

Microsoft’s new version of Windows Live Hotmail brings several new features to the online-mail table.

Some of you have written me with tales of woe, cursing the new version and the Windows Live horse it rode in on and begging to get your old Hotmail back. Sorry, you can’t.

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A threat to common “.dll” files hits many apps

Microsoft’s latest Security advisory on .dll-file vulnerabilities reveals a whole new chapter of Internet security troubles — and raises many more questions than it gives answers.

Many popular applications may be targets of this new threat, and there’s no single patch that will fix it.

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