By Brian Livingston
Besides bringing you our columnists’ writings each week, we also like to uncover other writers and give you exclusive excerpts of their new findings.
This month, we have a special bonus download that can be helpful to all information professionals who want to keep from jumping to the wrong conclusions.
Snap Judgment: When to Trust Your Instincts, When to Ignore Them, and How to Avoid Making Big Mistakes with Your Money (photo, below) is a new hardcover book on the way human beings instinctively misjudge number problems.
The author, David E. Adler, is a leader in the new field of behavioral economics. He’s a writer for Financial Planning magazine and the producer of a forthcoming special on the U.S.’s PBS network showing how people make costly errors.
| || Our exclusive excerpt contains three full chapters that delve into the psychology of gaming, including tips on how to increase your odds of coming out ahead in any wager. The book won’t hit the shelves until late June, but you can get our sneak peek now through June 17.|
By Woody Leonhard
If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so difficult to manage and share files in Windows, you’ll be delighted with two significant new features in Windows 7.
These new capabilities, called Libraries and Homegroups, make finding files and connecting with resources on other PCs so easy you’ll think you’re using a Mac!
Windows 7 packs an entire laundry list — nay, several laundry lists — of changes. These include little user-interface tweaks, new glitz and gewgaws, shored-up security (again), reams of troubleshooting tools, and better support for third-party hardware and software.
In sharp contrast to the more, more, more of past Windows revisions, there’s much less, less, less in Win7. As I mentioned in my Feb. 19 column (paid content), Windows 7 banishes many old applications and replaces them with downloadable Windows Live Essentials. The “Essentials” vary from the useful Windows Live Messenger to the arguably competitive Windows Live Photo Gallery to the hopelessly inept Windows Live Movie Maker beta.
As you would expect, there’s lots to learn about Windows 7, but there’s also lots to like about it. You can get a sneak peek at the new release’s new features on Microsoft’s Windows 7 site. To find out whether your PC is ready for the new OS, download and run the beta of the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft’s download page.
By Dennis O’Reilly
Is it appropriate for ISPs to block their customers’ access to the Internet because the music or movie industry accuses the users of illegally sharing copyrighted material?
Following WS contributing editor Becky Waring’s May 7 Top Story on the matter, we heard from readers both for and against the new policy, which is gaining strength in legislatures around the world.
Imagine receiving a letter from your Internet service provider threatening to cut off your network access because a representative of the music or movie industry claims you’ve violated copyright by sharing a file without permission. In last week’s story, Becky points out that Comcast, a major U.S. ISP, says it has sent more than 2 million such letters at the behest of the media industry. In other countries, even stronger measures are being adopted by governments.
Rob Martell takes issue with the process:
Huge WinSxS folder gobbles up disk space
The item in my April 23 column titled “System folders gobble up free disk space” generated some excellent questions. Here’s a point that many of you may also be wondering about.
Joseph Goldman noticed that the WinSxS folder on his Vista machine was huge (the folder’s also present in Windows XP and Server):
Here’s a simplified example: Let’s say Windows ships with version 4 of the fictitious xyz.dll but you later install software that’s hardwired to require xyz.dll v3.9. Windows places the nonstandard version of the DLL in the WinSxS folder. The system’s own copy of that DLL remains untouched. This way, the OS and the other software can both have the version of the DLL they need, thus avoiding the “DLL Hell” that plagued early versions of Windows.
WinSxS is clever, but it’s not elegant. For example, you can end up with lots of WinSxS folders containing nearly identical files. The more software you install, the larger the WinSxS folder may grow.
Windows’ own remote access comes up short
It seems like every week we read about yet another hapless notebook user who inadvertently leaves a company computer on a train, finds it stolen from his or her vehicle, or otherwise fumbles private client data.
One way for you and your organization to minimize this risk is to leave important information on a PC at home or in the office, where it’s physically more secure. Then, when you need to use the apps or info on that machine, simply connect to it remotely.
Not only is this a good way to keep critical data from leaking, it also beats trying to keep important files synchronized between multiple computers. And — if you’re starting to wonder whether entrusting your data to Google is a wise idea — remote access could provide you with many of the benefits of cloud computing while exposing you to fewer of its risks.
With remote-access software, you log in to your home or office computer via a broadband or dial-up connection to the Internet. You can access files stored on the PC and use applications and other resources as if you were sitting right in front of the machine.
Office 2007 SP2
Don’t rush to install this Office service pack
The biggest news in the patching world within the past few weeks is that Office 2007 Service Pack 2 — described in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 953195 — is actually uninstallable. If you needed to remove an Office service pack prior to this release, you had to uninstall the whole application and reinstall it from scratch minus the service pack.
Office 2007 SP2 adds the ability to save files as PDFs without having to install additional software. The service pack also lets Office workers use the OpenDocument format, which facilitates file exchanges.
While I’m pleased that Office has an uninstall tool, which is documented in KB article 954914, actually using the removal tool is no walk in the park. An Office blog post shows that the process is clearly not for the faint of heart. I hope that Microsoft will consider this as version 1 of the service-pack-uninstall feature and will make future releases easier to use.
Should you install Office 2007 SP2? I recommend people in larger firms test the service pack with their line-of-business applications that depend on Office. For everyone else, I’m still testing this patch and am not yet ready to give you the go-ahead at this time.
The Windows Secrets Newsletter is published weekly on the 1st through 4th Thursdays of each month, plus occasional news updates. We skip an issue on the 5th Thursday of any month, the week of Thanksgiving, and the last two weeks of August and December. Windows Secrets is a continuation of four merged publications: Brian's Buzz on Windows and Woody's Windows Watch in 2004, the LangaList in 2006, and the Support Alert Newsletter in 2008.
Publisher: WindowsSecrets.com, 1218 Third Ave., Suite 1515, Seattle, WA 98101 USA. Vendors, please send no unsolicited packages to this address (readers' letters are fine).
Editor in chief: Tracey Capen. Senior editors: Fred Langa, Woody Leonhard. Copyeditor: Roberta Scholz. Program director: Tony Johnston. Contributing editors: Yardena Arar, Susan Bradley, Scott Dunn, Michael Lasky, Scott Mace, Ryan Russell, Lincoln Spector, Robert Vamosi, Becky Waring. Product manager: Andy Boyd. Advertising director: Eric Gilley.
Trademarks: Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. The Windows Secrets series of books is published by Wiley Publishing Inc. The Windows Secrets Newsletter, WindowsSecrets.com, Support Alert, LangaList, LangaList Plus, WinFind, Security Baseline, Patch Watch, Perimeter Scan, Wacky Web Week, the Logo Design (W, S or road, and Star), and the slogan Everything Microsoft Forgot to Mention all are trademarks and service marks of WindowsSecrets.com. All other marks are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.
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Trademarks: Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. The Windows Secrets series of books is published by Wiley Publishing Inc. The Windows Secrets Newsletter, WindowsSecrets.com, WinFind, Windows Gizmos, Security Baseline, Patch Watch, Perimeter Scan, Wacky Web Week, the Logo Design (W, S or road, and Star), and the slogan Everything Microsoft Forgot to Mention all are trademarks and service marks of iNET Interactive. All other marks are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.
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