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Mailbag: May 4, 2011

In this edition of the mailbag: Pinning Hotmail to the Windows 7 taskbar with IE 9, Netflix and closed captioning, things to do on the Microsoft campus, choosing between Windows Home Server 2011 or Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, a potential downside to SSDs, whether to use a Kindle cover, and a coming SuperSite redesign.

Have a question? I can't guarantee an answer, but I'll try. Drop me a note! (And let me know if you'd prefer not to have your name published. I use first name last initial--like Paul T.--by default.)

Pinned Hotmail Icon with IE 9

Brad B. asks:

I heard you mention on the podcast that Hotmail pinned to the taskbar can have its icon dynamically updated without even running. I have yet to see it work that way, it only works for me if IE is running. Does IE have to be your default browser?

No, but the web app must be up and running for that to work.

Netflix and Closed Captioning

Josh W. asks:

I remember you said that you use closed captioning with Netflix.  I am just trying to find a legitimate list of the movies they offer [with captioning]. Have you found such a list?

Yes, it's available at the Netflix web site.

Note, however, that at this time these movies on work (with subtitles) on certain devices, and not the ones I want to use (Xbox 360 or Roku). The list of subtitle-compatible devices is here.

This will change over time of course.

Things to do on the Microsoft campus

Wes M. asks:

I will be in Seattle for a few days this week.  I would like to visit the Microsoft Campus.  Do you have any suggestions before I go?

Microsoft doesn't offer campus tours anymore, so your only real option, besides just driving around and hoping security doesn't notice you, is to visit the Microsoft Store, though you can only purchase non-computer-related items there (clothes, etc.) and a mini Microsoft museum (next to the store).

Windows Home Server 2011 or Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials?

Scott S. asks:

I think I want to build a server to meet my needs for our computers at home ... I have a TechNet subscription and can use either Windows Home Server or Windows Small Business Server. I have never administered or set up a server before.

Goals: Seamless interconnectivity of computers for file access across both the 802.11 and Ethernet LAN cable. Backup of files at a central location. Central location for media files. Ease of use.

If you've never administered a server, and are using this for consumer-oriented/home-type reasons, I'd stick with Windows Home Server. It's simpler, and it includes media sharing functionality that's not available in SBS Essentials.

For whatever its worth, this is the route I've taken as well. In a home situation, Windows Home Server just makes more sense.

Potential Downside to SSDs

I've written a series of articles (HERE and HERE) about replacing traditional hard disks in PCs with solid state disks (SSDs). Additionally, I have other computers that shipped with SSDs, so I have four PCs in the house now that have this form of storage. Overall, I've have been very pleased with the results and plan to always choose SSD over HDD going forward.

But this week a number of readers sent me a link to a post by Jeff Atwood called The Hot/Crazy Solid State Drive Scale that suggests a high failure rate for SSDs. And it has naturally caused a bit of angst.

What I've replied amounts to:

While my current upgrades are just a few months old, I have two SSD-based laptops that have worked reliably for years, including a ThinkPad X300 that dates back to 2008.


This hasn't been my experience, but with the machines I recently converted, I don't really care. Everything is replicated.

And so on.

Point being, until SSDs offer the voluminous storage capacities of HDDs, we're pretty much forced to use them a bit differently. This means a separate, HDD-based data drive on desktops, where the important data is off the SSD anyway. And on laptops, It's a minimal system anyway, and I do replicate all my important data via Windows Live Mesh already, so no worries there.

I also wouldn't worry too much about a single post, which does not a fact make. More data is required.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who wrote in about this issue.

Kindle Cover?

Leon Z. asks:

I finally ordered a Kindle 3G/WiFi. I know you're a big Kindle fan. Do you recommend buying a protective case/cover for it?

Yes, depending on your needs. I don't use one around the house because it's so small and light and a cover somewhat ruins that, but I do have the Amazon cover for traveling (by air) since I don't want to scratch it in a carry-on bag.

I have a friend who commutes with a Kindle and he never uses a cover because the device is so thin and light on its own. I can see doing that.

SuperSite Redesign

I mentioned a while back that I was hoping to clean up the design of the SuperSite for Windows, which underwent a major CMS migration to Dot Net Nuke late last year. I'm happy to report that this new design should debut soon. It's based on the current design but will include a new header (the top "branding" bit) and a two column layout rather than the current three column layout. It should look like this:


Hope you like it.

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