Known Issues

Get still more built-in performance tools

My Jan. 10 story explained how to assemble within XP most of the same performance tools that are found in Windows Vista.

This week, clever readers go the extra mile, pointing out even more free tools for monitoring and improving your system speed.

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VoIP alternatives trim long-distance bills

Dec. 13, 2007,
issue explained how a VoIP device called MagicJack, which charges only $20 USD per year for unlimited calls from anywhere in the world to U.S. and Canada phones, might make big long-distance bills a thing of the past.

As a result, many of our readers pointed out other innovative Internet products and services to help cut your phone bill down to size.

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Windows Home Server is not ADS-friendly

I explained in my
Dec. 6
article how Alternative Data Streams (ADS) on NTFS-formatted disks can be used to hide data on your computer.

But copying such files to a shared folder on Windows Home Server can corrupt the streamed data, meaning applications on other PCs on the LAN don’t recognize the file format.

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Microsoft to cut WGA ‘kill switch’ out of Vista

Microsoft has announced significant changes to its trouble-prone Windows Genuine Advantage technology, beginning with the upcoming Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista.

Unlike Vista’s behavior today, WGA will not disable functions of Vista SP1 if the instance is seen as “nongenuine,” but will instead merely display hourly nag screens inviting users to buy another copy.

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Save energy without sacrificing after-hours tasks

In the Nov. 15 issue, I recommended putting your system on standby when you’re not at the keyboard. But how can your system do all of your automated tasks if it’s asleep?

With a few well-chosen strategies (including the right BIOS or some helpful freeware), you can have your disk-maintenance cake and eat your energy savings, too.

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Handle Registry editing with caution

In a
Nov. 8
article, I explained how to disable Windows’ auto-run behavior to protect yourself from inadvertently running malware that might exist on USB drives or other devices you insert into your PC.

Be aware, however, that careless Registry editing can make your system malfunction or even keep you from starting Windows.

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Microsoft is ‘revisiting’ warnings in OneCare

Associate editor Scott Dunn reported on
Oct. 25
that Microsoft’s OneCare security suite turns on “auto-install” without notifying users, causing some machines to unexpectedly install patches and reboot at 3:00 a.m.

Microsoft’s OneCare team has officially confirmed the behavior, saying, “We are evaluating user feedback and will be revisiting how we communicate the installation details of Windows Live OneCare as we are continually working to improve that experience.”

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U3 flash drives rendered useless on some PCs

Readers are adding more weight to our less-than-glowing reviews of U3 flash software.

Many corporate IT administrators block U3 use completely, so if you use USB flash drives at work, you may want to avoid this platform.

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Get official and unofficial fixes for Excel

Despite the hotfix that Microsoft recently released for Excel 2007, as I described on
Oct. 11,
some math errors that you should know about still lurk in both Excel 2007 and Excel 2003.

I’ll bring you up to date and explain how you can get better results from Excel.

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Microsoft releases Excel fix but skirts issue

Microsoft has released hotfix packages to correct an Excel 2007 error that makes cells that contain values close to 65,535 act as though they contain 100,000.

There’s still some confusion, however, on whether these hotfixes should also be applied to older versions of Excel and whether they resolve all Excel 2007 calculation errors.

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