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Windows Client UPDATE, Jan. 1, 2007: Technical "Hired Guns" Need to Communicate

Technical "Hired Guns" Need to Communicate


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Macrovision: Best Practices for Migrating to a New OS

Five Keys to Choosing the Right Antispyware Solution


- Technical "Hired Guns" Need to Communicate
- Editor's Note: New Name, More Content--Windows Vista Update

- January Reader Challenge Contest
- December Reader Challenge Winner

- Vista Performance and XP

- Tip: Use Group Policy to Disable System Tray
- Thread: What's going on in the Windows XP forum today?
- Thread: Check out the Windows Vista forum!
- Featured white paper, Web & live events, announcements

- Heatsoft Advanced Directory Comparison and Synchronization
- Tell Us About a Product, Get a Best Buy Gift Card!


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==== COMMENTARY: Technical Hired Guns Need to Communicate ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

How many times have you heard the phrase, "consistency is the key"? I've seen this proven true time and again, especially when configuring computers that will be used by non-technical users.

Recently I helped a relative who needed to recover email messages from her computer. She has a small business with a dozen employees, and although I try not to consult for relatives, I did this time because her own consultant had left the business. The problem wasn’t a simple loss of email; her system was pretty much fried. Windows wouldn't boot and there were far more problems than just the need to recover data stored in Microsoft Office Outlook Express. But that’s actually not the point of this column.

While I worked to recover her data, she asked me, in passing, why she couldn’t get her email messages from the Web, as most of her employees do. A little investigation revealed that although her employees used the same email server, two-thirds of them used a Web interface to access the ISP-hosted mail, and the remainder had Outlook Express configured to use POP/SMTP to download mail to the client. She used two separate email accounts: Outlook Express for the bulk of her business-related correspondence, and a Web interface for more personal mail and for access at home. She didn’t realize that she and her employees were accessing the same email server; she had never asked about this, and her consultant had never explained it.

When she started the business, the ISP she used didn't offer Web-based email access, so her consultant configured Outlook Express for her. A year or so later, when she started to expand the business, the same consultant simply configured a link using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) to the ISP's mail service to give the additional users email access via the Internet. Even though she had been using her business computers for years, she didn't really understand how they operated. She asked me if she could just use IE as her email application in the future, and after we discussed her email use, I set up a link to the Web mail service so she could have Web-based email access at home as well as at the office. Given the lack of consistent backup policies for her business (don't get me started on that), it made more sense for the business's email messages to stay on the ISP's servers, where they were somewhat protected. This setup also lets each user access email by using an identical process, simplifying the situation and ensuring one less potential problem in the future.

This experience showed me how little most users, especially in small non-technology-related businesses, know about computers. If everything works as it's supposed to, users see no reason to learn more, and when they encounter problems, they hire the appropriate skills. But business owners' total lack of awareness of what their hired technical guns are doing, and the feeling among some consultants that they don’t need to document and explain the things they've done, can make for a difficult time when a new consultant is called in to clean up problems.

Editor's Note: We're changing our name, but more than that, we're sharpening our focus. In February, we'll re-launch this newsletter as Vista Update. We want to be your resource for all things Vista, from deployment to security to virtual PC and beyond. Even if adoption of Vista is far off in your company's future, you'll still find the useful, client-side information you've valued in Client Update, but with the added benefit of staying current with what's happening in Vista. To that end, please don't hesitate to let us know what you'd like to see covered in our new, twice-monthly issues. We plan on offering David Chernicoff and Kathy Ivens's features as before, with a new twice-monthly commentary by Karen Forster. On a practical note, please whitelist this new address to ensure the new issues send as seamlessly (we hope) as the old: [email protected]



by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

December 2006 Reader Challenge Winner
Congratulations to the winner of our December 2006 Reader Challenge. A copy of "Programming Visual Basic 2005," from O’Reilly & Associates Publishing, goes to L. Jay Seltzer, of New Jersey.

January 2007 Reader Challenge
Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by January 11, 2007. You MUST include your full name, and street mailing address (no P.O. Boxes). Without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it’s correct.
I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I’m a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for an e-mail receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on January 12, 2007.

January 2007 Challenge
This month's challenge is from a reader who runs a corporate Help center. He’s been collecting "weird" problems (and their solutions) as he troubleshoots user problems on his network. He says he periodically presents his own Challenge to the company's IT department, and he sent me one of the challenges from his collection to see whether Client UPDATE readers can do better than his colleagues did (only half of the staff could answer this question.

Here it is: A user who was trying to "hide" personal documents on a Windows XP system by burying them deep in the computer's folder structure received an error message when performing a mandated (and automated with a script) backup of local data to a company data file server. The problem was a path that was too long (Windows lets you create a path that's too long, but you won't be able to get to the files that reside at the bottom of the path, after the maximum size is exceeded). What's the maximum size of a path?

A. 13 folders.
B. 260 characters.
C. 11 folders.
D. 128 characters.

Extra-Credit Question. Your answer doesn't count toward winning the Reader Challenge, but we'll award a separate prize for the best "extra credit" answer, drawing winners at random from all the good answers. The definition of "good" is, "It works and it strikes my personal fancy as being creative and efficient."

Extra Credit: What's the best way to fix the problem so you can reach the documents at the bottom of the too-long path?


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==== NEWS & VIEWS: Microsoft: Vista Performance and XP ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Refuting rumors that Windows Vista’s vaunted Aero UI slows down computers, Microsoft pointed to a study this past week that comes to a different conclusion. According to a Principled Technologies study sponsored by Microsoft, the Aero UI has "little or no negative effect on Windows Vista's performance." In fact, in some instances, the Aero UI actually provides a performance boost.

"We put quite a bit of effort into making sure that the new visuals were as \[efficient\] as possible, and it really paid off," Matt Ayers, a program manager in Microsoft's Windows Client Performance group, wrote in the newly christened Windows Performance Blog ( ).

To read more, please go to

(A complete Web and live events directory brought to you by Windows IT Pro: )

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Tip--Use Group Policy to Disable System Tray

A client mentioned that some of his users were confused about the behavior of the Windows system tray, or taskbar. Because the default behavior of the system tray is to show all icons and yet enable the "Hide inactive icons" capability, many of his users spent time trying to figure out why the taskbar kept changing on them. I pointed out to my client that although it's a simple matter to disable "Hide inactive icons" by using the taskbar properties, perhaps he should disable the system tray notifications completely on all the client computers, so the interface on all his systems would look the same.

There's a Group Policy Object (GPO) for system tray notification, and you can disable the notifications by taking the following steps:

1. Launch Group Policy Editor (GPE)
2. Open User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Start Menu and Taskbar
3. Select hide the notification area
4. Enable the policy
5. Exit GPE

Thread--What's going on in the Windows XP forum today?
EdB has a problem in "Remove domain user from local admin group"--that is, he can't!

Thread--Check out the Windows Vista forum!
Berncod thinks XP's Shadow Copy might be causing a problem in "Restore points on dual boot (Vista and XP)"



PC Tools--5 Keys to Choosing the Right Antispyware Solution

Randy Franklin Smith outlines 5 evaluation points to consider when choosing your antispyware solution. Download this free Podcast today!



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by Caroline Marwitz, [email protected]

Heatsoft announced Advanced Directory Comparison and Synchronization (ADCS) 1.20, a utility that lets users compare and synchronize folder contents between desktop and laptop computers or between multiple drives. ADCS displays a side-by-side comparison of file size, a file's time and date stamp, and other characteristics. Additional features include directory recursion, the ability to customize sorting and display, and support for bookmarking frequently synchronized folders. The latest version lets users store the log files generated by synchronize, copy, and delete operations and includes improved memory-management capability. The UI is intuitive, and the program's control panel is accessible from the Windows system tray. ADCS is compatible with Windows 98 and later systems. A single-use license is $30. You can find more information and a trial download by visiting

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