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December 12, 2002—In this issue:
- Keeping Computers Up-To-Date: Automatic Updates Isn't Enough
2. READER CHALLENGE
- October 2002 Reader Challenge Winners
- December 2002 Reader Challenge
3. NEWS & VIEWS
- Microsoft Posts Holiday Fun Packs for Windows XP
- Winguides Tweak Manager — The Ultimate Tweaking Companion!
- The Microsoft Mobility Tour Is Coming Soon to a City Near You!
- Tip: Rein in Taskbar Button Grouping
- Featured Thread: Finding Disguised Files
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Save Windows and Office Settings
- Let Spearit Move You
7. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(David Chernicoff, News Editor, [email protected])
Early Monday morning, while I was making my weekly check for product updates on Microsoft's Windows Update Web site ( http://v4.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/en/default.asp), I came across a new update for Outlook 2002 ( http://office.microsoft.com/downloads/2002/olk1005.aspx). One sentence from the update description caught my eye: "This update fixes an instability problem introduced in Office XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) that affects Outlook POP3/SMTP clients." My only thought was, "ain't that the truth" — not regarding the specific problem being fixed, but rather regarding the fact that the new update fixes a problem that an earlier update introduced. I'm conscientious about keeping my personal and professional systems updated with all the current patches and bug fixes, but the complex nature of updating and patching procedures was really driven home to me last week when I stopped by a friend's small office to try and solve a few problems in his 10-user network. All the computers in this network are less than a year old and run either Windows XP or Windows Me. All are Pentium 4 machines with at least 256MB of RAM and only a few applications installed. Even so, these computers were experiencing random blue screen crashes and system hang-ups while users browsed the Internet, and I hoped to find the cause. I started with the oldest computer in the office, a 10-month-old Dell running Windows Me. My first step was to go to the Windows Update site and scan the local system for missing updates. I discovered that, despite the fact that my friend regularly ran the Automatic Updates feature on the computer (and swore that he had run the feature recently and had accepted the updates), I found when I manually scanned the computer that 6 necessary Critical Updates, 44 Windows updates, and 2 driver updates were available for installation. I figured that my next step would be to install the updates and see whether doing so mitigated the system's overall problems. My plan was easier stated than accomplished. Two hours later, the computer was completely updated and has been running rock solid ever since. But I never expected the update process to take 2 hours. Even with a fast Internet connection, downloading large updates, installing them, then rebooting between updates can eat up your time. A large part of the problem I faced with my friend's computer was that after I installed some of the recommended updates and rescanned the system, I discovered that I was going backward. I had a larger number of Critical Updates to install than before I had begun the update process. This situation was due to my having upgraded the computer to Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6.1, which introduced several required updates to secure that application. Further complicating the situation is that certain updates, such as for IE and DirectX, can only be processed by themselves; you can't process them in batches with other updates, as most other updates allow. To be fair, I spent the first hour of my updating adventure upgrading the OS. I spent the second hour on the Office Product Updates site ( http://office.microsoft.com/productupdates/default.aspx), where I discovered multiple updates that had to be installed independently and came upon problems that one update caused that required another update to fix. But after 2 hours I was able to scan the computer from both update sites and receive no reports of required or even recommended updates for Windows that were of use to my friend's company. The Windows Update site offers updates that are available for the OS but unnecessary for many users (e.g., the update for the Microsoft .NET Framework). The importance of staying updated is underscored by the fact that the computer I've described was the least stable of all the computers in my friend's office, yet after I applied the appropriate updates, that computer has now been running for more than a week with no problems. The moral of my story is this: Don't rely on the Windows OS Automatic Updates feature exclusively. Proactively check for new updates and, if you support users in small or remote offices, make sure they do the same.
2. READER CHALLENGE
(contributed by Kathy Ivens, [email protected])
Solve this month's Windows Client problem, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by January 2, 2002. You must include your full name, street mailing address, and phone number (all required for shipping your prize). I choose winners at random from the pool of correct answers. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents. (My email software doesn't respond to a request for a receipt.) Look for the solution to this month's problem at http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/print.dfm?articleid=27563 on January 23, 2003. Problem:
Rodney is an IT staff member at a company that has been replacing Windows NT member servers and workstations with Windows 2000 machines. He's in charge of receiving the new computers and installing the OS. Rodney's assistant, John, noticed that Rodney partitioned each Win2K machine's drive, formatting one volume for FAT and the other volume for NTFS. Rodney explained that installing the OS on the FAT volume made it easier to replace OS files from a boot disk in the event of a startup failure caused by corrupted files. "Clever," responded John, "but Windows 2000 includes a tool that does the same thing, so you should stick to NTFS." Question 1
What Win2K tool is John referring to? Question 2
Which of the following services are not part of NTFS?
3. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
As a special thank-you to Windows XP users, Microsoft this week released a series of Winter Fun Packs for XP that offer a wide range of winter-themed content designed for Windows Media Player 9 Series, Windows Movie Maker 2, and XP functionality such as digital photography, communications, and Web browsing. Four Fun Packs are available. The Windows Media Player 9 Series Winter Fun Pack includes new winter-themed skins; Picture It Visualization 2: Winter Edition, with more than 25 unique visualizations; Yule Log Visualization; and 12 holiday-themed Auto Playlists. The Digital Video with Windows Movie Maker 2 Winter Fun Pack includes new title background, sounds, and music for making holiday videos. The Digital Photography, Communications, and Browsing Winter Fun Pack includes holiday digital photo greeting card templates and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 Holiday Favorites. The Winter Fun Screensavers pack includes two exciting new 3-D-animated screensavers. In addition, Microsoft has posted a series of articles covering everything from creating the ultimate holiday mix to sharing holiday joy with Windows Messenger. These articles and the free Fun Packs are now available from the Microsoft Share Holiday Joy Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/experiences/holiday/default.asp).
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(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected]) One of Windows XP's new options is the taskbar button grouping feature. When you use this feature, you can combine multiple open documents from the same program into one taskbar button. When you click that button, a list displays of all the program's open documents. You need only click any document in the list to access it. By default, XP activates taskbar button grouping when so many documents from one program are open that the document display buttons on the taskbar become too small. In my experience, XP activates taskbar button grouping when I have between 14 and 19 Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) windows open, regardless of the size of the buttons. The same situation seems to hold true with my Microsoft Office documents (i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Wordpad, Notepad) when I have between 14 and 19 open simultaneously. The unpredictability of the feature annoys me at times. I can get it under control to a certain extent, although not to the degree I'd like. I'll keep working on finding a way to get more control, but until I do, here's what I've discovered so far. Take the following steps:
- Launch regedit.
- Open the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced registry subkey.
- Create a TaskbarGroupSize subkey of type REG_DWORD.
- Set the value of the TaskbarGroupSize subkey from your preference among the following values:
0 - Retain the default behavior
1 - Group by size (large to small)
2 - Create a group when two or more similar buttons appear
3 - Create a group when three or more similar buttons appear
- Reboot for the change to take effect.
Forum participant "AHarrold" is looking for a way to search by type (e.g., .exe, .zip) for files that have been renamed (e.g., to .doc). He wants to search the hard disks on his users' machines to find games and other programs that users have renamed to disguise them. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:
6. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Sue Cooper, [email protected])
BackRex Software released BackRex Expert Backup 2.0, a desktop profile backup tool that lets you back up and restore your users' personalized settings or migrate them to a new computer or OS. The software can save customizations of Windows OSs, and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), Office, Outlook, and Outlook Express applications. BackRex Expert Backup can also save recently opened documents. The software costs $39.95 for a single-user license. Contact BackRex Software at [email protected].
Spearit Software announced Move Me, a pay-per-use Windows migration utility. After you download and install the free utility on both the original and target computers, Move Me verifies that your PCs can communicate and reports how much data will be migrated. If you choose to continue the migration, you pay $14.95 to move the original machine's applications, data files, and settings to the target PC, leaving the new computer's preinstalled software intact. For more information, contact Spearit Software through its Web site:
7. CONTACT US
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