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Living with Windows? These utilities can help prevent malware and crapware infestations

I've abandoned Windows in favor of Linux (Ubuntu) over the last several years, so I don't suffer from malware/crapware infestations (they never really hit me much, me being hyper-vigilant about installing stuff on my systems...) I've moved all family members off Windows as well, if they want me to help maintain their computers.

For those of you working with Windows (and hence subject to all the usual vexations associated with it), these two software utilities look promising:

What is ielowutil.exe and why is it running on my computer?

If you're anything like me, you've noticed that Internet Explorer 8 and 9 seem to be accompanied by a child process named ielowutil.exe. The file properties description for this process isn't very helpful, and, in fact, might lead you to believe that it has something to do with your computer's microphone!

The file description reads: Internet Low-Mic Utility Tool. This sure sounds like it's doing something with your microphone, doesn't it? It turns out that this is a misleading description.

Windows Disk Defragmenter - Open Source and Free Alternatives

Ever since Windows Vista, the built-in disk defragmenter seems a bit... crippled.

No graphical progress display. No visual analysis. No visual or other indication of current fragmentation status.

I suppose this is intended to hide the computer's complexity from the average user.

But: Sometimes you need to know the fragmentation status of one or more disk drives. Sometimes you need greater control over the defragmentation process. Sometimes you need the power user option. Then what?

Revert to XP-Style Alt-Tab ('Coolswitch') behavior in Windows 7 and Windows Vista

If you are a longtime Windows user (as I am, I've been using Windows since version 1.03 in 1987), you've probably developed some deeply-ingrained habits.

On of my most oft-used techniques from the old days: Switching between desktop windows using the Alt+Tab key combination, A.K.A. 'Coolswitch'. Windows 7 and Windows Vista have altered this feature, and not for the better, in my opinion.

Wacom Cintiq 21ux -- simply awesome!

The Wacom CINTIQ 21UX (DTK2100) 21-Inch Pen Display is just awesome. I'm thinking of ordering one soon.

Seems like many online vendors are backordered one to two weeks. Is this due to popularity or is there a production issue that's preventing shops from restocking?

Microsoft Windows Tips

Here's a collection of Microsoft Windows-specific tech tips.

7 things make Windows 7 (and other versions) easier

These are some of my favorite Windows system tweaks and usage tips. I usually customize every new computer or Microsoft Windows installation using some or all of the items found here.

In most cases, I won't tell you how to make each tweak–that's been done ad nauseum–so I'll share my suggestions and provide links to instructions on how to make the changes.

This article is presented in multi-part 'book' form; please see the links below.

Improve your vision: expand or improve your Windows computer's display quality

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 suitable hardware
Why? Because sometimes your current display is too small, cramped, or hard to read.
How? It depends on your system configuration, desired enhancements, and your budget.

Speed access to your favorite or oft-used Windows applications using shortcuts

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? It helps to have quicker access to your frequently used Windows applications.
How? Create desktop shortcuts. Create "Quick Launch" toolbar shortcuts. Create custom keyboard shortcuts to speed-launch your favorite applications by pressing a key combination.

Speed up your Windows system by reducing or eliminating auto-starting applications

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? Because you grow weary of waiting for your Windows system to be ready to use.
How? Eliminate some of those notification area icons. Uninstall those programs you never use.

Helpful utilities and information

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