Fred Langa ‘un-retires’ to fix your problems

Brian livingston By Brian Livingston

When life throws you a curve ball, you should try to hit a home run — and that’s what Fred Langa is doing by re-committing himself to help his loyal readers.

Fred wrote for Windows Secrets off and on from November 2006 to May 2008, but the retirement he announced at the end of that period didn’t work out, so he’s back, starting today.

As you may know, after years of yeoman’s duty at Byte Magazine and CMP Publications, Fred wrote his own e-mail newsletter, the LangaList, twice a week for almost 10 years. His newsletter and ours merged in 2006, and he became the editor of Windows Secrets, continuing to write a column nearly every week.

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Fred’s devotion to his readers is legendary. Even when he went on his dream summer hiatus in 2007, riding his motorcycle in a big loop around the U.S. and Canada, he spent time helping others. He chose four Windows Secrets readers around the continent to receive a full day of his personal help, free of charge. (His eight-part series documenting these Langa Housecalls is on our site.)

Fred langa in motorcycle helmet Fred, at left in motorcycle helmet, found that retirement wasn’t in the cards this year, however. As he’s written in several blog posts, around the time of his 35th wedding anniversary he was hit with an unexpected divorce. He attributed the split to the LangaList’s “insane workload” of “60–80 hours of work per week.” But, whatever the reason, retirement was no longer a financial option.

So Fred has rejoined the rest of us in the working class. Everyone at Windows Secrets is celebrating that he’s with us again. But our excitement is nothing compared with the outpouring we received from subscribers when they heard the news. I think Phil Waddle of Tavistock, England, said it best:
  • “I really cannot tell you how pleased I am that Fred is returning. Without any disrespect to your current columnists, who produce great articles, Fred felt like ‘one of the family.’ Many people like me who subscribed to the LangaList over the years felt the same, no doubt. It is difficult to explain, but it was almost as if Fred knew you personally and his articles were ‘right on the button’ of what you wanted to know about — and written so well. I have immediately renewed my subscription and look forward to Fred’s first column.”
Fred has committed himself to bring you a full blast of information each week for more than a year to come — and much longer, if I have anything to say about it. As our new editor-at-large, he’s once again solving several dilemmas per article in his trademark Q-and-A style: often imitated, never duplicated.

His columns will appear in Windows Secrets’ paid content, where he can share in the financial contributions that our paying subscribers kick in to keep us wretched scribblers alive. I hope you’ll enjoy Fred’s all-new material.

If you’re a free subscriber, you can support Fred’s work — and get 12 months of all our paid content — with no fixed fee. We accept any contribution, whatever it’s worth to you. We simply want as many people as possible to have access to our columnists’ great advice on Windows. Please use the following link for details:

If you’re a paying subscriber, you can support Fred’s work — and get another 12 months of all our paid content — by renewing your subcription now. You no longer have to wait until your last week. For a limited time, if you’re within one year of your paid expiry date, you can renew now. Please use the following link for details:

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Don’t miss out on this free bonus download

Converting vinyl lps All of our subscribers, free and paid, can download a helpful e-book, Converting Vinyl LPs and Cassettes to CDs and MP3s by Jake Ludington. In this tutorial, you get straightforward solutions to preserve your fast-fading albums and tapes using the playback equipment you probably already own. Jake rates free and low-cost software that makes it easy for you to convert your priceless recordings.

This e-book sells on the Web for $10, but we’ve licensed the content so all Windows Secrets subscribers can get it for free. This offer is only available until Nov. 5, 2008. To take advantage of this freebie, simply visit your preferences page, make sure your information is correct, and click the Save button. You’ll then see a download link. Enjoy!

All subscribers: Set your preferences and download your bonus

Norton gives Windows Secrets a false positive received a big, fat rating of “red” (warning) on Oct. 6 from Symantec’s Norton Safe Web. This browser plug-in is an optional component of Norton Internet Security 2009. The service attempts to alert users to Web sites that use drive-by downloads and other hacker exploits.

Safe Web claimed that our site contained a security threat by the name of:


Our site never tried to download any such file to anyone. We found that an old Support Alert Newsletter article that’s in our searchable library linked to a site that once linked to another site that once might have had a copy of this file.

We removed the clickable hyperlink (without deleting any text from the article) and reported the error to Norton. The false positive was corrected in under 24 hours. Our site gained a “green” (safe) rating once again, as you can see from Norton’s Windows Secrets rating page. Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Jeff Raff for his help. We apologize to anyone who was temporarily unable to visit our site.

Brian Livingston is editorial director of and co-author of Windows Vista Secrets and 10 other books.
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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-10-09: