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The best of LangaList Plus — 2011

Every issue, the LangaList Plus technical Q&A tackles difficult — and sometimes esoteric — problems sent in by Windows Secrets subscribers.

For this last LangaList Plus of 2011, we’ve assembled some of the most popular Langa stories of this past year; we cover topics ranging from working around a Windows 7 networking bug to 14 free tools for digging out stubborn malware infections.

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Setting up a temporary ‘ad hoc’ network

When you need a quick way to share files between two Windows PCs that aren’t normally connected, an ad hoc wireless network is the way to go.

Everything you need is already built into Windows 7, Vista, and XP. Here’s how to set up an ad hoc network on wireless PCs.

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Carrier IQ: A privacy tempest of what size?

A YouTube video by Trevor Eckhart documents a litany of privacy-busting transgressions made by Carrier IQ, a software program factory-installed on mobile phones.

Almost every news outlet in the U.S. seems to have run the story about Carrier IQ as if 1984 had finally arrived, with Big Brother (in large, corporate form) working the phones — our smartphones in this case. But is that view accurate?

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Building your own XP Service Pack 4

Starting today, Windows XP users will have 860 more days of official Microsoft support — and on every one of those days, many of those users will continue to run the operating system that just won’t die. Want to extend the life of your Windows XP Service Pack 3 as long as possible? You can do so by installing Microsoft hotfixes as needed.

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What you can do about soaring hard-drive prices

Floods in Thailand — and an ensuing worldwide purchasing panic — have pushed the price of hard drives to nosebleed heights and left us all with fewer choices. Here’s what you need to know about the crisis, the fallout, and what you can do about it.

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Putting Registry-/system-cleanup apps to the test

The most contentious software category has to be PC-system/Registry cleaners. Some users find them invaluable; other users consider them worse than useless. A series of controlled experiments puts these apps to the test — and turns up some surprises.

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The thousand-dollar penalty for reusing passwords

You can find no end of advice on creating strong passwords, using clever tricks, stats, mnemonics, and such. But all too frequently we (and I include myself in this rebuke) tend to reuse little passwords at what we think are inconsequential sites. It’s a big mistake — here’s why.

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What you should know about Windows’ Event Viewer

Most of the Windows utilities we talk about in the Windows Secrets Newsletter help you work faster or better or smarter, but Windows Event Viewer doesn’t fall into that category. A powerful diagnostic tool, Event Viewer is now being used by online support scammers who make big bucks preying on people’s fears.

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Making the most of Really Simple Syndication

Almost all sufficiently advanced websites these days use RSS — Really Simple Syndication — to keep you notified of the latest information posted on the site. If you’ve never used an RSS feed — or if you use RSS but don’t know how it works — you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

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Take your PC’s temperature — for free!

Overheating in PCs can cause unexpected hangs and shutdowns — and even shorten the life of your computer. Fortunately, it’s easy to monitor your system’s temperature and to correct the most common causes of overheating.

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