Group Policy tricks available for XP Home
Group Policy is a handy tool, because it lets you lock down your computer through a variety of easy-to-configure settings. Kunal Jariwala writes to ask about it:
- “I am facing a problem in my laptop. I want to configure the settings for my desktop and other users. I opened the MMC (Microsoft Management Console) to change the Group Policy settings for my desktop, but I cant find any option for Group Policy. I even tried its direct command gpedit.msc, but still my laptop shows that “Windows cannot find this file, please check the file name.” I tried a lot, but can’t find the solution. I hope, as you are the Windows expert, you will reveal its secret and help me."
The j79zlr.com article, “ Group policy registry entries for XP Home,” includes a list of Registry keys and settings for XP Pro, many of which also work if you manually edit them in XP Home. Just be very careful when editing the Registry, because some mistakes might render your system unstable or unusable.
PivX preEmpt provides ActiveX protection
Ever heard of ActiveX controls? Windows is chock full of them. Many third-party vendors develop their own, too, so you might wind up with many more on your system over time. Chip A. Barker writes to ask about ActiveX:
- "I’m a previous LangaList Plus subscriber and I would like to see an article (or two or three) on what ActiveX controls are, how they work, which ones are bad, how to manage these dang things, etc.”
Microsoft developed ActiveX technology as a progression from its previous APIs for Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) and the Component Object Model (COM).
Many ActiveX controls are considered to be outright dangerous. As such, you should protect your system against having them abused. One of the best ways I know of to add that protection to your system is to use PivX preEmpt. This is a security tool ($45 for a single machine) that defends against the abuse of ActiveX controls and a whole lot more.
Another tool to create hard-drive inventory
In the Feb. 1 newsletter, I mentioned the tool FolderSizes, which lets you generate many different types of reports about files on your hard drives. This week, Rob Skinner writes in to share his tip about another, similar tool:
- “I’d like to recommend WinDirStat, a free tool for visualizing file types and sizes for your entire file system at once. It doesn’t print out reports, but with it you can almost instantly see the relative size of folders or the space taken up by any file type.”
More on offloading your document scanning
In last week’s newsletter (Feb. 1), Sue Myran asked if there’s any standalone scanner that can scan directly to a Flash memory card. This week, Dave Detert and Sigurd Lasa write to tell us about other scanners that I didn’t know about with such capability:
- “I don’t know what Sue’s exact requirements are, but the HP C6180 (and I’m sure other All-In-One models) will scan to a USB flash drive or memory card and it costs less than $300. The file will be a .jpg image, but they do have OCR software available as an option, though I’ve never used it.”
Sigurd Lasa writes to say that the Lexmark x664e can also scan directly to memory cards. It’s more expensive than the HP model, costing roughly $1,295 USD brand new.
Confusing updates for Daylight Time switch
I mentioned on Feb. 1 a workaround for correcting Daylight Saving Time on your computer if there isn’t a patch available for your version of Windows, as is the case for Windows 2000.
Reader Ron Smith recommends an unofficial, third-party patch for the DST problem. The patch is published by IntelliAdmin. Microsoft, of course, won’t provide support for this patch, but you can certainly try it if you need to make your computers adjust correctly to Daylight Time on Mar. 11 in the U.S.
Run Windows 98 and XP on the same PC
Some people still use Windows 98, for whatever reasons, and sometimes it’s desirable to have it loaded on the same system as another version of Windows. Jesse Wasserman writes to ask about this possibility:
- “Can you explain the possibility of running Windows 98 and XP on one PC by partitioning the hard drive?”
If you partition your hard drive into two parts, be sure to format the first partition using the FAT file system. Windows 98 cannot read NTFS file systems directly. You’d load Windows 98 on the first partition (formatted with FAT) and load Windows XP on the second partition, formatted with NTFS.
Synchronizing mail on different desktops
You might be among the many people who have more than one desktop. If you are, then you might wish you could synchronize e-mail across those desktops. Bob Wickham writes to ask about this situation:
- “I am using Thunderbird e-mail on two desktops in different offices and a laptop. Is there a utility that would allow me to keep the e-mail addresses on all three computers up to date and in sync over the Internet? Also a way to backup the lists on each computer? Perhaps a Web based utility or service?”
One way is to set the e-mail client to leave the mail on the server when checking mail. That way, your other e-mail clients can still get a copy. Another way would be to use an IMAP mailbox instead of POP3. IMAP stores mail on the server, and you can manage that mail from any IMAP-enabled email client.