Top Story

Microsoft charges customers for free services

Thousands of customers are paying almost $120 USD per year to Microsoft for an Internet subscription service that includes e-mail, security, and other features.

But Microsoft gives away almost identical services absolutely free in Windows Live and the Windows operating system itself, while neglecting to inform those who pay through the nose.

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MagicJack promises dirt-cheap phone calls

Making phone calls over the Internet is nothing new, thanks to well-known providers like Skype and Vonage.

But a simple USB device from an upstart, MagicJack, promises to bring voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to the masses for as little as $20 USD per year.

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Hide sensitive files with Alternate Data Streams

Almost every small business and individual PC user has some sensitive or private files to keep away from prying eyes.

If you’re running a modern version of Windows, you can use a little-known feature called Alternate Data Streams to hide your confidential files inside other files or folders.

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WGA: better, but still not good enough

When it was first released, Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) was widely criticized for spyware-like qualities and numerous false positives.

Since then, Microsoft has given its anticopying program a number of changes, but they’re not enough to give this tool a positive reputation.

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Simple tips save power and the environment

Computers and computer peripherals consume dramatic amounts of electricity every year, draining your budget and contributing to greenhouse gases.

But for little or no money, you can reduce the number of watts your system and peripherals use, saving cash and limiting the environmental damage.

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One quick trick prevents AutoRun attacks

The AutoRun function in Windows can launch installers and other programs automatically when you insert a CD or flash drive, but this convenience poses a serious security risk.

Unfortunately, simply turning off AutoPlay, a separate feature, isn’t enough to prevent AutoRun from introducing a rogue program into your system.

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Free software finds your security flaws

Computer security covers a host of areas — password policies, software patches, account restrictions, protection against malware and more.

Fortunately, with the right software, you can get a complete security analysis of your system for free without hiring a costly consultant.

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PC rebooting? The cause may be MS OneCare

Installing Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s downloadable security suite, changes the settings of Automatic Updates without notifying users or honoring their update preferences.

This behavior may explain reports that Windows has been mysteriously installing patches and rebooting itself, even though users had completely shut down the Automatic Updates function.

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Free software on USB enables portable computing

USB flash drives are good for more than just storing and transferring files — with the right software, your flash drive can become a tiny computer.

Fortunately, you can find plenty of great software that not only runs on a USB flash drive, but is also completely free.

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Carry a flash drive instead of a laptop

You can avoid lugging a laptop everywhere installing your favorite apps on a USB flash drive and running them on any computer you want.

I’ll guide you in selecting a flash drive that’s best suited for portable software and tell you which apps you should install.

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