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Microsoft Windows

Group taskbar entries to eliminate clutter and help you find things quickly

This page is part of a 7-part story, 7 things you can do to make Windows 7 (and other versions) easier to use.

Applies to: All
Why? Sometimes it's a lot easier to find the window you are looking for on the taskbar if it's not cluttered with dozens of windows.
How? It depends on the Windows version you're using.
On Windows XP, download and install TweakUI.

Use handy Windows shortcut keys

This page is part of a 7-part story, 7 things you can do to make Windows 7 (and other versions) easier to use.

Applies to: All, with Windows Enhanced Keyboard connected.
Why? Because it provides several useful shortcuts that makes living with Windows a bit easier.
How? Learn and use the available shortcut keys.
The misunderstood and mostly ignored Windows Logo Key () is one of my favorite keys.

Windows Errors - find and fix them

Windows 7, XP and Windows Vista Troubleshooting

Find and fix DLL errors in Windows 7, Vista and XP

When you encounter a Dynamic-Link Library error (DLL error) or related Windows 7, XP or Windows Vista error, what can you do about it? How can you track down the source of the problem and, one hopes, fix the problem?

With a little bit of Windows troubleshooting skills one can usually find the problem and fix it. If a Windows error of this type is troubling you, it can be fixed in most cases with some effort.

Living without antivirus software

[adsense:728x15:5447199818]Ok, I'll admit it. I've been living dangerously for the last several years.

To be blunt: I refused to install any kind of antivirus or personal firewall software on most of my computers (but see Update 1/1/2012, below.) This included a Windows XP Home system that was used by my children as a web surfing / email / game system. I suffered zero infections during this time. (The only time I ever suffered a malware infection was before, when I did rely on Norton Antivirus to protect the kids' computer.)

Why do I refuse to use these massively popular widely-used products? Simple. I am convinced that in my case, they may cause more harm than good, and that they foster a false sense of security - leading some users to engage in riskier behavior.

Further, antivirus software is almost always behind the curve - by definition, the antivirus people are playing catch-up with the malware writers. It's a good living for them, but I choose not to contribute to it.

As a software developer, I cannot afford any downtime due to buggy software, and yes - antivirus software has bugs. Not long ago, one major antivirus package ran amok, causing widespread damage by deleting harmless user data and programs.

Visual Studio .Net 2003 standard include directories

Just in case anyone needs this, I thought I'd list this here. I needed to restore the standard include directories for Visual Studio .Net 2003. So, without further ado, here they are:

$(VCInstallDir)Include
$(VCInstallDir)atlmfc\include
$(VCInstallDir)PlatformSDK\include\prerelease
$(VCInstallDir)PlatformSDK\include
$(FrameworkSDK)include

WhyReboot™

Why Reboot?

Exodus WhyReboot™ is a small (~100KB) "Portable" Windows application that helps you decide whether to reboot your computer after running an installer. It does this by displaying a list of "pending file operations" (rename, delete, etc) that will occur after rebooting your computer. Quite often, no reboot is really needed.

You can download the utility by clicking the file attachment link at the end of this article.

December 18, 2006 news flash: Version 1.0.1.537 now available. See our news release for more information.

Ministry of Silly Prompts

"Would you like to restart your computer now?" Arguably the most aggravating prompt displayed by your Windows-based computer.

When I woke up this morning, I said to myself, "I think I'd like to reboot my computer several dozen times today!"

Why should you have to reboot your Windows-based computer so many times when installing software? Why do Microsoft Windows product installers insist on a reboot?

Another preinstalled software mop-up operation

I had the 'honor' of rescuing yet another victim of a pre-installed software nightmare. A new co-worker was working with his notebook (a Hewlett-Packard, recent vintage, less than a year old with Vista Home Basic installed).

The complaint? Minimum five (yes, FIVE) minute boot time from power-on to desktop interaction.

After a cursory examination, I found that it wasn't a hardware problem, nor was it due to memory limitations: the system had 512MB RAM, Vista was using just over 300MB with no other applications running (yes, that's a lot, but this is Vista, after all).

Remove unwanted items from the Vista Welcome Center

You can remove items from (or add items to) the Vista Welcome Center.

Another Anti-virus related SNAFU

In the news: another SNAFU related to malfunctioning anti-virus software. See: Symantec breaks Chinese XP systems due to a false positive.

Microsoft hurts own market dominance - WPA, WGA

[ed. note: this was originally posted on 6/30/2006 09:21:00 AM]
There were stories going around about Microsoft having the ability to 'pull the plug' on XP installations if Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is not installed on a user's machine:

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