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Windows Client UPDATE--Increase Productivity with Multiple Monitors--September 1, 2005

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Basic Care And Feeding of Your Exchange Server 2003 Environment

Testing Your Security Configuration


1. Commentary
- Increase Productivity with Multiple Monitors

2. Reader Challenge
- August 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
- September 2005 Challenge

3. News & Views
- Microsoft Buys into VoIP

4. Resources
- Tip: Prevent the Display of all Programs from the All Users Profile
- Featured Blog: WiFi Security Is Better Than I Expected

5. New and Improved
- Time Access to a PC, PC Applications, and the Internet
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: Increase Productivity with Multiple Monitors ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

I'm a big fan of screen real estate. I believe that few things can make computer users more productive than enough screen space to easily switch between the applications and information sources that help them do their jobs. Granted, that statement applies only to people who need to use multiple applications or windows in their work, but that's quite a few users who can benefit from having the right display system.

Although many large monitors are available, many users can't deal with working on high-resolution screens. I receive comments all the time from readers who come across columns I've written about working in 1920 x 1440 x 32 resolution on a 22" monitor. Many complain that they've tried to work with a similar setup but find that the font is too small for comfort. Fortunately, Windows XP makes it very easy to use multiple monitors, which means that you can use a larger font and still have a lot of screen space.

I decided to put this XP functionality to the test when I recently upgraded my primary desktop. I went with a video card with a lot of memory and support for two Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connections so that I could use two flat-panel LCD monitors. Prices have dropped to the point that, with judicious shopping, I found two name-brand 20.5" LCD panels that cost about the same as one 21" tube monitor. My older system is still in daily use, so I can compare the usability side by side between a single 22" monitor running at 1920 x 1440 and a pair of 20.5" flat panels, each running at 1680 x 1050.

The first step was configuring the dual display. The NVIDIA video card software offers several additional dual-monitor support features beyond what the OS offers and can extend the desktop across two monitors so that the OS sees one large monitor, rather than two discrete monitors. I tried working with that extended desktop setup for a bit, and although I liked being able to open certain types of applications on a 3360 x 1050 display, the downside was that most dialog boxes open in the center of the screen, which means that the boxes were split down the middle by the LCD panel bevels. The annoying black stripe breaking dialog boxes in half was distracting enough to outweigh any advantages I got with the extended screen size, so I switched to the standard XP dual-monitor support, which extends the desktop across both monitors but treats them as individual displays for the purpose of opening windows.

After a few months of working with the XP dual-monitor setup, I've found that my productivity has significantly improved. It's simple to have multiple reference documents open while I'm writing or to have a detailed spreadsheet on one display while I work on a report on the other. XP makes the dual-monitor support invisible to the user, so I spend no time at all dealing with display-oriented concerns. Applications open where I expect them to, once I place them on the appropriate display, and I've developed specific work habits that make use of both displays and let me run multiple applications in parallel that would have previously been serial tasks that took longer.

As network administrators know, system administration has become much simpler. For years, I've used RDP to manage my servers, but now I use it with my secondary desktop computer as well. I simply leave the RDP connection attached and click the taskbar on the primary desktop computer to open the second computer's remote display, which appears on its own monitor. This setup lets me remotely monitor my servers via the secondary computer, while letting me treat it as if it were the local console. And I still have a full screen available for the computer at which I'm physically present.

If your users can benefit from additional display space, I recommend they make use of this XP functionality. Given the price of LCD panels and video cards that support multiple monitors, it can be a great productivity-boosting solution.

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==== 2. Reader Challenge ====
by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

August Reader Challenge Winners
Congratulations to the winners of our August 2005 Reader Challenge. Frederick Gorman of California, wins a copy of "Home Networking for Dummies 3rd Edition" (Wiley Publishing), and Samuel Gold of Florida, wins a copy of "Google Hacks Second Edition" (O'Reilly Publishing).

September 2005 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 September 14, 2005. You must include your full name, and street mailing address (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 a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on September 15, 2005.
Incidentally, many IT directors use the Reader Challenge as a trivia game in their IT departments and have written to ask me for old Reader Challenge questions. (This column has appeared in print and in UPDATE newsletters for many years.) I don't keep them, but you can search the Windows IT Pro Web site, which archives columns.

The September 2005 Challenge:
I recently ran into a former client, a retired IT professional who does some consulting for nonprofit organizations. He told me he'd been helping one group that had received a grant for computers, and he was asked to meet with the group's board of directors to explain the network installation he proposed. What surprised him was that instead of questions about software applications, the meeting concentrated almost exclusively on network security. During the meeting, the board members got into a dispute about the type of firewall protection he should install. The relative merits (and cost) of router firewalls, built-in OS firewalls (the network has a Windows Server 2003 server and Windows XP workstations), and software application firewalls were hotly debated. He said that most of the debaters weren't well informed, and he had to spend time explaining the way various types of firewalls work. This challenge tests whether you could accurately explain the concept he had to clarify.

Question: What is the primary difference between a software firewall application and the other two firewall types involved in the debate (router-based hardware firewalls and the built-in firewalls in Windows 2003 and XP)? Hint: The correct answer is short and uncomplicated and doesn't require technical expertise about firewall technology.

==== 3. News & Views ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Buys into VoIP
Microsoft announced yesterday evening that it had acquired Teleo, a provider of VoIP software and services. The acquisition will let Microsoft add more VoIP features to MSN Messenger and other MSN services in the future. Read the entire story at the following URL:

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Defending against Internet criminals, spyware, phishing, and addressing the points of risk that Internet-enabled applications expose your organization to can seem like an epic battle with Medusa. So how do you take control of these valuable resources? In this free Web seminar, you'll get the tools you need to help you analyze the impact Internet-based threats have on your organization, and tools to aid you in the construction of Acceptable-Use Policies (AUPs).

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In this free Web seminar, you'll get the tools you need to ensure your systems aren't going down. You'll discover the various categories of high availability and disaster recovery solutions available and the pros and cons of each. You'll learn what solutions help you take preemptive, corrective action without resorting to a full system failover, or in extreme cases, that perform a non-disruptive, automatic switchover to a secondary server.

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==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: Prevent the Display of all Programs from the All Users Profile
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

When you configure a Windows XP computer for multiple users, a common problem is getting the users' programs to appear on the Start menu without also getting all the programs that have been installed for general use to appear. Displaying programs that aren't needed distracts users from the tasks they need to perform.
You can prevent the programs from the All Users profile from being included in a specific user profile by using the "Remove common program groups from the Start Menu" policy, which you'll find under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Start Menu and Taskbar if you're using Group Policy.

If you aren't using Group Policy, you can edit the registry as follows to achieve the same effect:
1. Launch the registry editor.
2. Open the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer registry subkey.
3. Set the value of the REG_DWORD NoCommonGroups to 1.
4. Exit the editor.

Featured Blog: WiFi Security Is Better Than I Expected

Check out Mark Edwards' latest posting on the Security Matters blog.

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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Dianne Russell, [email protected]

Time Access to a PC, PC Applications, and the Internet
MainSoft announced the release of PC TimeWatch, software that lets you specify periods of time during which a PC's users can run specific applications, access the Internet, or log on to Windows. Developed for the Windows platform, PC TimeWatch runs as a service and lets an administrator specify an individual time budget for each authorized user of a particular PC and schedule slots of time in the budget within which users can run specific applications. You can even limit Windows logon hours and set the maximum duration of Windows sessions per user for 1 day or 1 week. You don't need to manage profiles and separate passwords because PC TimeWatch uses the Windows login mechanism. PC TimeWatch uses Windows security features to lock programs; users can't defeat the software by renaming or moving applications. Internet monitoring works for any type of connection. PC TimeWatch supports Windows XP/Win2K/Me/NT/98. Cost is $42, and volume discounts are available. You can download a free, fully functional 21-day evaluation version at .

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