Before doing almost anything to text in a word processor, like making it bold, changing its typeface, or moving it to a new spot in your document, you have to highlight the text you want to affect. For millions of people, this entails dragging the cursor extremely carefully, perfectly horizontally, across the desired text. And if they want to capture an entire paragraph or section, they click at the beginning, drag diagonally, and release the mouse button when they reach the end of the passage.
That's all an enormous waste of time. Selecting text is the cornerstone of every editing operation in a word processor, so there are faster and more precise ways of going about it.
For example, double-clicking a word highlights it, instantly and neatly. In fact, by keeping the mouse button pressed on the second click, you can now drag horizontally to highlight text in crisp one-word chunks--a great way to highlight text faster and more precisely. These tricks work anywhere you can type.
In most programs, including Microsoft's, additional shortcuts await. For example, triple-clicking anywhere within a paragraph highlights the entire paragraph. (Once again, if you keep the button pressed at the end of this maneuver, you can then drag to highlight your document in one-paragraph increments.)
In many programs, including Word and WordPad, you can highlight exactly one sentence by clicking within it while pressing Ctrl.
Finally, here's a universal trick that lets you highlight a large blob of text, even one that's too big to fit on the current screen. Start by clicking to position the insertion point cursor at the very beginning of the text you want to capture. Now scroll, if necessary, so the ending point of the passage is visible. Shift+click there. Windows instantly highlights everything between your click and your Shift+click.
The Ease of Access center offers a single page of options designed to make the keyboard easier to use if you have limited dexterity. There are four primary features here:
Mouse Keys let you use the number keypad to control the arrow cursor. (It's useful if you can't use the mouse, or if you can but you want more precision in a graphics program.) Pressing the 2, 4, 6, and 8 keys on this pad moves the mouse around your screen--down, left, up, and right.
If you click "Set up mouse keys," you see where you can control how fast the cursor moves. You can also turn on "Hold down Ctrl to speed up and Shift to slow down" to do just what it says: Make the cursor jump in larger increments when you press Ctrl or smaller increments when you press Shift. As a convenience, you can also indicate that when the NumLock key is tapped, you want the numbers to type numbers instead of moving the cursor.
Sticky Keys is for people who have difficulty pressing two or more keys (such as Ctrl, Alt, and Shift combinations) at once.
Once this feature has been turned on, you can press keys of a specified combination one at a time instead of simultaneously. To do so, press the frist key (Ctrl, Alt, or Shift) twice, which makes it "stick." Then press the second key (usually a letter key). Windows responds exactly as though you had pressed the two keys simultaneously.
Here again, a setup page awaits--click "Set up Sticky Keys." Here, you can indicate that you want to be able to turn on Sticky Keys by pressing the Shift key five times in a row. Another option makes Windows beep when a key is double-pressed and "stuck"--a confirmation that you're about to trigger a keyboard shortcut.
Toggle Keys makes the computer beep whenever you press the Caps Lock, Num Lock, or Scroll Lock keys. You don't have to be disabled to find this option attractive, since the confirmation beep prevents you from looking up after five minutes of typing to find a page of text tHAT lOOKS lIKE tHIS.
Finally, there's Filter Keys. In Windows, holding down a key for longer than a fraction of second produces repeated keystrokes (such as TTTTTTT). When you turn on Filter Keys, though, Windows treats a repeated key as a single keystroke, which can be useful if you have trouble pressing keys lightly and briefly.
The "Set up Filter Keys" link offers an option that lets you use the right-side Shift key as the on/off switch for the filtering mode (by pressing Shift for 8 seconds): "Turn on Filter Keys when right SHIFT [key] is pressed for 8 seconds." It's also the home to the new Bounce Keys option, which helps filter out unwanted keystrokes, and an option that puts a stopwatch-like icon in the Notification Area when you're in Filter Keys mode.
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> What happened to AutoRun?
What the heck? I've inserted a flash drive that I know contains a software installer, but it doesn't run automatically like it did in Windows Vista. What's going on?
Microsoft made a big change in Windows 7: It turned off the ability for software installers to autorun from USB gadgets like flash drivers.
Why? Because the bad guys were using the AutoRun feature as an evil backdoor for installing viruses and other nasties on your PC. You'd insert a flash drive, and bing!--something would auto-install without your awareness.
Nowadays, if you really want to run an installer from a flash drive, choose Start->Computer, open the drive's icon, and run the installer manually by double-clicking it.
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> Credential Manager
Credential Manager, formerly called "Stored User Names and Passwords," lets you teach Windows to memorize your corporate account names and passwords. It's not the same thing as the Web-browser feature that memorizes your password for everyday Web sites (like banking sites). Instead, Credential Manager stores passwords for shared network drives and corporate-intranet Web sites, the ones where you have to enter a name and password before you even see the home page.
# Page. 322
> iSCSI Initiator
You've already been warned that iSCSI Initiator is for system administrators, and you still want to know about it?
iSCSI Initiator is a way of connecting your computer to hard drivers on almost any kind of network--even across the Internet.
In the old days, accessing such externally stored data was painfully slow. If you needed a file on that distant hard drive, you didn't dare work on it "live" from across the network; it would be just too slow. So you'd download the files to your computer first, work on it, and then upload it when you were done.
And that's why Microsoft created iSCSI. It's not as fast as using your computer's internal hard drive, but it's a big improvement. Ever walked on one of those moving sidewalks between airport terminals, zooming past the people who are working on the ground? That's the kind of speed boost iSCSI gives you.
To make this work, your computer initiates the process of finding and connecting to the target iSCSI storage device across the network. (That's why this applet is called iSCSI Initiator, get it?)
Your computer must have an iSCSI service running on it, and the ports that iSCSI uses must be open on your computer's firewall. (The applet offers to do this part for you.) Once the service is started and the ports are open (or you've cancelled through the prompts), you can get to the iSCSI Initiator dialog box and configure its settings. It's at that point that you really need a highly paid network professional to configure the settings, because it's filled with such fun settings as CHAP or IPSec authentication, the IP address of the RADIUS server, the IP address of the target device, and more.
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> The Story of God Mode
It started on a blog called jkontherun.com: the crazy rumor that Microsoft had created a secret Control Panel view called God Mode, and that only power users could access it.
Crazy thing is, it’s true. “God Mode” is a simple folder that brings all aspects of Windows 7 control—Control Panel functions, interface customization, accessibility options—to a single location.
To create this all-powerful Control Panel folder, start by creating an empty folder anywhere. Give it this name:
One typo, and you’re toast. But if you type it correctly, the folder transforms into a strange little icon called GodMode. Open it, and you get the super-cool Control Panel view shown here, with major headings and minor ones in a tidy alphabetical list—and even a “Search GodMode” box at the top. Fantastic! Convenient! Slick! Secret!
As it turned out, the bloggers had gotten just about everything about God Mode wrong. It isn’t unique to Windows 7, it isn’t unique to the Control Panel, and it isn’t actually called God Mode.
Turns out it was in Vista, too. And “God Mode” is a name the bloggers came up with; in fact, you can type any folder name you want before the first period. Call it Master Control Panel, or All Tasks, or whatever.
And it turns out, finally, that this Control Panel thing isn’t secret; it’s a documented shortcut for programmers. Actually, “God Mode” is only one of a dozen summary folders you can create. You can also create folders that offer lists of what’s in the Action Center, desktop gadgets, the Devices and Printers window, and so on.
Here are a few of the folders you can create. In each case, you can type anything you want before the period, as long as the hexadecimal code that follows is correct.
There are many more, as a quick Google search will tell you. Not all of them work in Windows 7 (sometimes, the folder you’re renaming with the magic name simply doesn’t change its icon and adopt its new personality). And of course, there’s not a whole lot of point in going to this trouble; if you really want direct access to a certain Control Panel applet, you can simply drag it to your desktop right from the Control Panel window!
But even if it’s not that secret, not that special, and not that new, it’s still cool.
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> RemoteApp and Desktop Connections
With Windows 7, Microsoft continues its service to the world's corporate IT nerds. As in the past, these corporate system administrators can "publish" certain programs, or even entire computers, at the company headquarters--and you, using your laptop or home computer, can use them as though you were there.
But in Windows 7, these "published" resources behave even more like programs right on your PC. They're listed right in your Start menu, for heaven's shake (in a folder in All Programs called, of course, "RemoteApp and Desktop Connections"), and you can search for them as you'd search for any apps.
The whole cycle begins when your company's network nerd provides you with the URL (Internet address) of the published program. Once you've got that, open the RemoteApp and Desktop Connections control panel, and then click "Set up a new connection with RemoteApp and Desktop Connections."
A wizard now appears; its screens guide you through pasting in that URL and typing in your corporate network name and password.
When it's all over, you see a confirmation screen; your new "connection" is listed in the control panel; and the folder full of "published" remote programs appears in your Start menu, ready to use.
# Page. 338
> Windows CardSpace
Ever have to fill out a form on the Internet--name, address, email address--only to go to a different site that requests exactly the same information?
Of course you have. Everyone has, and it's annoying as heck.
CardSpace is Microsoft's attempt to solve that duplication-of-effort problem. You're supposed to create a profile containing this kind of information, like a digital ID card. You show your card at a site, and the site gets your information off the card, saving you all that retyping.
Before you get too excited, though, there is a catch. CardSpace works only with Web sites that are, ahem, CardSpace-compatible--and there aren't many of them.
To get started, click "Add a card." Specify whether you want to create a Personal card or a Managed one.
Personal cards store your name, email, address, phone, birthday, and so on. You can even add a photo. Managed cards are cards given to you by a business or institution, like a bank or credit card company. They contain some information about you, but mostly they point at the company that is managing the card. When you use a Managed card in transaction with a Web site, the site retrieves private information (such as a credit card number) from the company that issued the CardSpace card. It confirms that you are who you say you are, have the right to use the card, and the right to use the private information the managing company has for you.
# Page. 348
Tip: Some modern WiFi routers offer a feature called WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). If you press it at this point, it will transmit the password automatically to your PC, saving you the trouble of filling in the password yourself. (This technology is great because it transmits a huge, complicated password that nobody would ever be able to guess. But it's not so great because if any other WiFi gadget--one that doesn't have the WPS feature--tries to get online, you'll have to type in that endless password manually.)
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The first time you connect to a new network--the first time you use a wireless hot spot, the first time you connect to a dial-up ISP, the first time you plug into an office network--you see "Set Network Location" dialog box.
Windows is asking you to categorize the network you've just joined. Is this a Public network, like a coffee-shop hot spot? Is it a Work network--a corporate network that's likely to be staffed by security-conscious network geeks? Or is it your own Home network, where you don't have to worry so much about hackers?
The choice you make here has absolutely nothing to do with the physical location, no matter what the dialog box says. Instead, it tells Windows how much security to apply to the network you've just joined.
If you choose Public, for example, Windows makes your computer invisible to other computers nearby. (Technically, it turns off the feature called network discovery.)
That's not ideal for file sharing, printer sharing, and so on--but it means hackers have a harder time "sniffing" the airwaves to detect your presence.
If you say a network is Public, you may be visited quite a bit by the "Unblock?" messages from the Windows firewall. That's just Windows being insecure, asking for permission every time any program (like a chat program) tries to get through the firewall.
Note: The only difference between Home and Work is that you can use the new HomeGroups feature on a Home network.
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> Wrong Network Type--Oops
Oh dear. When I connected to my home WiFi network, I clicked Public by accident. Now I can't see any of my shared files, music, printers, and so on. What to do?
You should change the location to the Home or Work settings, which are less paranoid. In these settings, network discovery is turned on, so you and your PCs can see each other on the network and share files, music, printers, and so on.
To change a connection from one "location" (that is, security scenario) to another, connect to the network in question. Now open the Network and Sharing Center. There, you see the name of the miscategorized network--and you see "Public network" (or "Home network" or "Work network") under its name. Click that phrase to reopen the box, where you can choose another location type.
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> Commercial Hot Spots
Choosing the name of the hot spot you want to join is generally all you have to do--if it's a home WiFi network.
Unfortunately, joining a commercial hot spot--one that requires a credit card number (in a hotel room or an airport, for example)--requires more than just connecting to it. You also have to sign into it before you can send so much as single email message.
To do that, open your browser. You see the "Enter payment information" screen either immediately or as soon as you try to open a Web page of your choice. (Even at free hot spots, you might have to click OK on a welcome page to initiate the connection.)
Supply your credit card information or (if you have a membership to this WiFi chain, like Boingo or T-Mobile) your name and password. Click Submit or Proceed, try not to contemplate how this $8 per hour is pure profit for somebody, and enjoy your surfing.
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> Secret Hot Spots
It’s entirely possible for you to be standing right in the middle of a juicy, strong WiFi hot spot—and not even know it. Its name doesn’t show up in the Connect To list. It turns out that the owner can choose whether or not the hot spot should broadcast its name. Sometimes, he might want to keep the hot spot secret—to restrict its use to employees at a coffee shop, for example, so that the common customer riffraff can’t slow it down. In these cases, you’d have to know (a) that the hot spot exists, and (b) what its name is.
If you do know the name of one of these secret hot spots, open the Connect To list from your system tray. You see the invisible hot spot identified here, sure enough, but only as “Other Network.” Click it, and then click Connect. Now you have to type in the network’s exact name (and password, of course, if there is one) before you can proceed. This method is great for quick encounters with hidden hot spots. If you want the option to have your laptop hop onto the secret hot spot automatically whenever it’s nearby, the process is slightly more complex.
Click your Network icon; click “Open Network and Sharing Center.” Click “Set up a new connection or network”; in the next box, click “Manually connect to a wireless network.” Now you’re asked to type the hot spot’s name and password—and you have the option to turn on “Start this connection automatically.” Also turn on “Connect even if the network is not broadcasting,” despite the warning (which is saying that a dedicated hacker nearby could learn the hot spot’s name by using special “sniffing” software). Click Next, Next, and Close.
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> Inbound vs. Outbound
These days, the Windows Firewall can protect both inbound and outbound traffic. (The Windows XP firewall handled only inbound traffic.) But the factory setting is not to block outgoing signals.
Now, inbound signals are a much bigger threat than outgoing ones. Still, some spyware, Trojans, and malicious software “phone home”—that is, once secretly installed, it sends out an invisible note telling the world that it’s ready to be used to attack your PC. Some may try to attack other computers near it. And some turn your PC into a zombie: basically a spam relay station. Your PC could be pumping out millions of junk-mail messages a day, and you wouldn’t even know it.
Windows Vista didn’t have an outbound-blocking firewall at all. So why did Microsoft add outbound-blocking to Windows 7, and then ship it turned off?
The theory is that if your PC is locked down tight enough with antivirus software, antispyware software, and an inbound firewall, you won’t get any infection that could send outbound signals in the first place. Meanwhile, you’re saved the incessant pinging of the “Are you sure?” messages you’d get every time a normal program tried to connect to the Internet.
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> Firewall Settings
To see the ways you can adjust the Windows Firewall, click “Turn Windows Firewall on or off” in the left-side task panel. (Authenticate yourself if necessary.)
The resulting screen lets you tweak the settings for each location (Public, Private, Domain) independently. You have these options:
* Block all incoming connections, including those in the list of allowed programs. When you’re feeling especially creeped out by the threat of hackerishness—like when you’re at the coffee shop of your local computer-science grad school—turn on this box. Now your computer is pretty much completely shut off from the Internet except for Web browsing, email, and instant messaging.
* Notify me when Windows Firewall blocks a new program. Windows will pop up a message that lets you know when a new program has attempted to get online, on the off chance that it’s some evil app. Most of the time, of course, it’s some perfectly innocent program that you happen to be using for the first time; just click Allow in the box and go on with your life.
* Turn off Windows Firewall. Yes, you can turn the firewall off entirely. There’s very little reason to do that, though, even if you decide to install another company’s firewall; its installer turns off the Windows Firewall if necessary.
You also might be tempted to turn off the firewall because you have a router that distributes your Internet signal through the house—and most routers have hardware firewalls built right in, protecting your entire network.
Still, there’s no harm in having both a hardware and software firewall in place. In fact, having the Windows Firewall turned on protects you from viruses you catch from other people on your own network (even though you’re both “behind” the router’s firewall). And if you have a laptop, this way you won’t have to remember to turn the firewall on when you leave your home network.
# Page. 372
> Date Execution Prevention
Data Execution Prevention (DEP), one of Windows 7’s advanced security features, isn’t well-known, but it protects you against a variety of threats. It monitors important Windows services (background programs) and programs to make sure that no virus has hijacked them to your PC from within its own system memory. If DEP finds out an attack is under way, it automatically closes the offending service or program.
DEP comes set to protect only Windows itself—not other programs. You can, though, ask DEP to monitor every program on your system, or just programs that you specify. The upside is better protection; the downside is that DEP could conflict with those programs, causing them to run erratically or not at all. In such cases, though, you can always turn off DEP protection for the affected programs.
(Note: If DEP suddenly starts interfering with important Windows files and features, a recently installed program could be at fault. Try uninstalling it, or inquire if the publisher has a DEP-friendly version; that may solve the problem.)
To turn on DEP for some or all programs: Open the Start menu. Start typing advanced system until you see “View advanced system settings” in the results list; click it. In the Performance section, click Settings, and then click the Data Execution Prevention tab, shown here. Select “Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select,” and then click OK.
Should you find that DEP interferes with a program, click Add, and then follow the directions for selecting it. Incidentally, at the bottom of the Data Execution Prevention screen, you can see whether or not your PC offers DEP circuitry, which reduces its speed impact. If not, Windows runs a software-based version of DEP.
# Page. 376
> The Terminology of Cookies
Before you begin your cookie-fortification strategy, you'll have to bone up on a little terminology. Here are a few explanations to get you started:
A first-party cookie is created by the site you're currently visiting. These kinds of cookies generally aren't privacy invaders; they're the Amazon type described above, designed to log you in or remember how you've customized, for example, the Google home page.
Third-party cookies are deposited on your hard drive by a site other than the one you're currently visiting--often by an advertiser. Needless to say, this kind of cookie is more objectionable. It can track your browsing habits and create profiles about your interests and behaviours.
Explicit consent means you've granted permission for a Web site to gather information about your online activity; that is, you've "opted in."
Implicit consent means you haven't OK'd that info gathering, but the site assumes that it's OK with you because you're there on the site. If a Web site uses the implicit consent, it's saying, "Hey, you're fair game, because you haven't opted out."
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> Add-On Manager
Internet Explorer is more than just a browser. In fact, it's practically a kind of mini-operating system that lets lots of little add-on programs run inside of it. The most common category of these plug-ins is called ActiveX Explorer; for example, the Flash add-on makes possible animations and movies on YouTube and many other sites.
But ActiveX controls and other add-ons can cause problems. Install too many, and your browser can get sluggish. Sometimes add-ons conflict with one another, resulting in an Internet Explorer crash. And some--this is the really nasty part--may actually be malicious code, designed to gum up your browser or your PC.
You'll know when some page needs an ActiveX control to proceed. You'll see a yellow warning bar just under the address bar, letting you know you have to click to proceed. (If you're pretty sure this is a reliable Web site that really needs to install this add-on feature, click the information bar; from the shortcut menu, choose Allow Blocked Content.) Gone are the days when evildoers could invade your PC by downloading these things without your knowledge.
To help you get a handle on your plug-in situation, choose Tools->Manage Add-ons. You get a list of all your add-ons and ActiveX controls. They're listed in several different categories, like those that are currently loaded into Internet Explorer and ActiveX controls you've downloaded.
Highlight one to read details about it, and to summon the Disable, Enable, and (in some categories) Remove buttons.
(Hint: Before clicking any of these buttons, do a Google search on the name or the file name. You'll find out soon enough if the plug-in is trustworthy. Be especially wary of add-ons in the Browser Helper Objects [BHOs] category. These can be useful, but also very dangerous.)
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> Protect Your Home Wireless Network
Public wireless hot spots aren't the only ones that present a theoretical security risk; your wireless network at home harbors hacker potential, too. It's theoretically possible (barely) for so-called war drivers (people who drive around with laptops, looking for unprotected home WiFi networks) to piggyback onto home networks to download child pornography or send out spam.
This one's easy to nip in the bud:
Turn on wireless encryption. When you first set up your WiFi router (your base station or access point), you're offered the chance to create a password for your network. Thake the chance. (Modern wireless routers offer two different types of password-protected encryption, called WEP and WPA. If it's available, choose the more modern, more secure one, which is WPA.)
You then have to enter the password when you first connect to that hot spot from each wireless PC on your network.
Ban unwanted PCs. Many routers include a feature that lets you limit network access to specific computers. Any PC that's not on the list won't be allowed in. The feature is called MAC address filtering, although it has nothing to do with Macintosh computers. (A Media Access Control address is a serial number that uniquely identifies a piece of networking hardware.)
Not all routers can do this, and how you do it varies from router to router, so check the documentation. In a typical Linksys router, for example, you log into the router's administrator's screen using your Web browser, and then select Wireless->Wireless Network Access. On the screen full of empty boxes, type the MAC address of the PC that you want to be allowed to get onto the network.
Type all the MAC addresses into the boxes on the Linksys router, click Save Settings, and you're all done.
Place your router properly. Placing your WiFi router centrally in the house minimizes the "leaking" of the signal into the surrounding neighborhood.
# Page. 413
> Compatibility View
For years, Internet Explorer didn't respect the programming conventions of the Web. Web-page designers would carefully follow the rules to create, say, a picture with a 3-point blue box around it--but in Internet Explorer, it would look wrong. Microsoft just said: "We're the 800-pound gorilla. We do things our own way."
So Web designers had to use all sorts of programming hacks and kludges, writing the HTML code for their sites so that they'd look right in Internet Explorer. (Many went to the effort of designing a different site just for the "all other browsers" category. Which version you'd see when you visited that page depended on what browser you had.)
But with millions of people choosing other free Web browsers, Microsoft realized that it couldn't remain cocky forever. So in Internet Explorer 8, it cleaned up its act; this version, for the first time, strickly sticks to modern Web standards.
The irony, of course, is that now all those millions of pages written for the old IE now look funny in the new IE!
Now Microsoft gets to know what it feels like to be one of the other browsers, the ones that have always worked properly.
In any case, if you find a Web page that looks odd, or the text spills out of its box, or the buttons don't line up, or whatever, you can use Compatibility View. You can turn it on in either of two ways:
Click the Compatibility View button. It appears on the address bar automatically whenever you're on a page that hasn't been updated for IE8.
Choose Tools->Compatibility View.
In this mode, IE8 impresonates IE6, believe it or not, displaying the page the way the creator intended. IE will remember to use this view for this Web site until (a) you turn Compatibility View off, or (b) the site is rewritten for IE8.
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> RSS: The Missing Manual
In the beginning, the Internet was an informational Garden of Eden. There were no banner ads, pop-ups, flashy animations, or spam messages. People thought the Internet was just the greatest.
Those days, unfortunately, are long gone. Web browsing now entails a constant battle against intrusive advertising and annoying animations. And with the proliferation of Web sites and blogs, just reading your favorite sites can become a full-time job.
Enter RSS, a technology that lets you subscribe to feeds--summary blurbs provided by thousands of sources around the world, from Reuters to Microsoft to your nerdy next-door neighbor. News and blog sites usually publish RSS feeds, but RSS can also bring you podcasts (recorded audio broadcasts), photos, and even videos.
You used to need a special RSS reader program to tune into them--but no longer. Internet Explorer can "subscribe" to updates from such feeds so you can read any new articles or postings at your leisure.
The result? You spare yourself the tedium of checking for updates manually, plus you get to read short summaries of new articles without ads and blinking animations. And if you want to read a full article, you can click its link in the RSS feed to jump straight to the main Web site.
Note: RSS stands for either Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Each abbreviation explains one aspect of RSS--either its summarizing talent or its simplicity. (Web feeds and XML feeds are the same thing.)
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Tip: Lots of Web sites have their own "Print this Page" buttons. When they're available, use them instead of Internet Explorer's own Print command. The Web site's Print feature not only makes sure the printout won't be chopped off, but it also eliminates ads, includes the entire article (even if it's split across multiple Web pages), and so on.
# Page. 429
> POP, IMAP, and Web-based Mail
When it comes to email, there are three flavour of accounts: POP (also known as POP3), IMAP (also known as IMAP4), and Web-based. Each has its own distinct feeling, with different strengths and weaknesses.
POP accounts are the most common. A POP server transfers your incoming mail to your hard drive before you read it, and then deletes the original copies on the Internet. From now on, those messages live on your computer, and it's up to you to save them, back them up, or delete them. (You can configure Mail not to delete the messages from the server, but most ISPs don't give you much disk space. If your mailbox gets too full, the server may begin rejecting your incoming messages.)
IMAP servers are newer than, and have more features than, POP servers, but as a result, they're not quite as common. IMAP servers are Internet computers that store all your mail for you, rather than making you download it each time you connect. The benefit? You can access the same mail regardless of which computer you use. IMAP servers remember which messages you've read and sent, too.
One downside to this approach, of course, is that you can't work with your email except when you're online, because all your mail is on an Internet server, not on your hard drive. And if you don't conscientiously delete mail manually after you've read it, your online mailbox eventually overflows. Sooner or later, the system starts bouncing fresh messages back to their senders, annoying your friends and depriving you of the chance to read what they have to say.
Free Web-based servers like Hotmail also store your mail on the Internet. You can use a Web browser on any computer to read and send messages; then again, most POP accounts these days offer that feature, too. Web email is slower and more cumbersome to use than "regular" email accounts.
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> Blind Carbon Copies
A Bcc: or blind carbon copy is a secret copy. This feature lets you send a copy of a message to somebody secretly, without any of the other recipients knowing. The names in the "To:" and "Cc:" fields appear at the top of the message for all recipients to see, but nobody can see the names you typed into the "Bcc:" box. To view this box, choose View->All Headers in the New Message window.
You can use the "Bcc:" field to quietly signal a third party that a message has been sent. For example, if you send your coworker a message that says, "Chris, it bothers me that you've been cheating the customers," you could Bcc your boss or supervisor to clue her in without getting into trouble with Chris.
The Bcc box is useful in other ways, too. Many people send email messages (containing jokes, for example) to a long list of recipients. You, the recipient, must scroll through a very long list of names of sender placed in the "To:" or "Cc:" field.
Buf if the sender uses the "Bcc:" field to hold all the recipient's email addresses, then you, the recipient, won't see any names but your own at the top of the email. (Unfortunately, spammers--the miserable cretins who send you junk mail have also learned this trick.)
# Page. 441
> About Mailing Lists
During your email experiments, you're likely to come across something called a mailing list--a discussion group conducted via mail. By searching Yahoo.com or other Web directories, you can find mailing lists covering just about every conceivable topic.
You can send a message to all members of such a group by sending a message to a single address--the list's address. The list is actually maintained on a special mail server. Everything sent to the list gets sent to the server, which forwards the message to all the individual list members.
That's why you have to be careful if you're actually trying to reply to one person in the discussion group; if you reply to the list and not to a specific person, you'll send your reply to every address on the list--sometimes with disastrous consequences.
# Page. 462
> Newsgroups Explained
Newsgroups (often called Usenet) started out as a way for people to conduct discussions via a bulletin board--like system, in which a message is posted for all to see and reply to. These public discussions are divided into categories called newsgroups, which cover the gamut from photographic techniques to naval aviation.
These days, Usenet has a certain seedy reputation ass a place to exchange pornography, pirated software, and MP3 files with doubtful copyright pedigrees. Even so, there are tens of thousands of interesting, informative discussions going on, and newsgroups are great places to get help with troubleshooting, to exchange recipes, or just to see what's on the minds of your fellow Usenet fans.
# Page. 580
> If Your Printer Model Isn't Listed
If your printer model isn't in the list of printers, then Windows doesn't have a driver for it. Your printer model may be very new (more recent than Windows 7, that is) or very old. You have two choices for getting around this roadblock.
First, you can contact the manufacturer (or its Web site) to get the drivers. Then install the driver software as described in the previous section.
Second, you can use the printer emulation feature. As it turns out, many printers work with one of several standard drivers that come from other companies. For example, many laser printers work find with the HP LaserJet driver. (These laser printers are not, in fact, HP LaserJets, but they emulate one.)
This instructions that came with your printer should have a section on emulation; the manufacturer's help line can also tell you which popular printer yours can impersonate.
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> Installing Fake Printers
If your printer has two paper trays, switching to the secondary one is something of a hassle. You must spend time making the changes in the Print dialog box, as described later in this chapter. Similarly, switching the printout resolution from, say, 300 dpi to 600 dpi when printing important graphic documents is a multistep procedure.
That's why you may find it useful to create several different icons for the same printer. The beauty of this stunt is that you can set up different settings for each of these icons. One might store canned settings for 600 dpi printouts from the top paper tray, another might represent 300 dpi printouts from the bottom one, and so on. When it comes time to print, you can switch between these virtual printers quickly and easily.
To create another icon, just run the Add Printer Wizard a second time, as described on the preceding pages. At the point in the installation where you name the printer, invent a name that describes this printer's alternate settings, like HP6-600 dpi or Lexmark-Legal Size.
When the installation process is complete, you see both printer icons--the old and the new--in the Devices and Printers window. Right-click the new "printer" icon, choose "Printing preferences" from the shortcut menu, and change the settings to match its role.
To specify which one you want as your default printer--the one you use most of the time--right-click the appropriate icon and choose "Set as default printer" from the shortcut menu.
Thereafter, whenever you want to switch to the other set of printer settings--when you need better graphics, a different paper tray, or other special options for a document--just select the appropriate printer from the Select Printer list in the Print dialog box. You've just saved yourself a half-dozen additional mouse clicks and settings changes.
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> Controlling Printouts
Between the moment you click OK in the Print dialog box and the arrival of the first page in the printer's tray, there's delay. Usually, it's very brief, but when you're printing a complex document with lots of graphics, the delay can be considerable.
Fortunately, the waiting doesn't necessarily make you less productive, since you can return to work on your PC, or even quit the application and go watch TV. An invisible program called the print spooler supervises this background printing process. The spooler collects the document that's being sent to the printer, along with all the codes the printer expects to receive, and then sends this information, little by little, to the printer.
Note: The spooler program creates huge temporary printer files, so a hard drive that's nearly full can wreak havoc with background printing.
To see the list of documents waiting to be printed--the ones that have been stored by the spooler--open the Devices and Printers windows, right-click your printer's icon, and then choose "See what's printing" to open its window.
Tip: While the printer is printing, a printer icon appears in the notification area. As a shortcut to opening the printer's window, just double-click that icon.
The printer's window lists the documents currently printing and waiting; this list is called the print queue (or just the queue). (Documents in the list print in top-to-bottom order.)
You can manipulate documents in a print queue in any of the following ways during printing:
Put one on hold. To pause a document (put it on hold), right-click its name, and then choose Pause from the shortcut menu. When you're ready to let the paused document continue to print, right-click its listing and choose Resume.
Put them all on hold. To pause the printer, choose Printer->Pause Printing from the window's menu bar. You might do this when, for example, you need to change the paper in the printer's tray. (Choose Printer->Pause Printing again when you want the printing to pick up from where it left off.)
Add anther one. As noted earlier, you can drag any document icon directly from its disk or folder window into the printer queue. Its name joins the list of printouts-in-waiting.
Cancel one. To cancel a printout, click its name and then press the Delete key. If you click Yes in the confirmation box, the document disappears from the queue; it'll never print out.
Cancel all of them. To cancel the printing of all the documents in the queue, choose Printer->Cancel All Documents.
Note: A page or so may still print after you've paused or cancelled a printout. Your printer has its own memory (the buffer), which stores the printout as it's sent from your PC. If you pause or cancel printing, you're only stopping the spooler from sending more data to the printer.
Rearrange them. If you're used to, say, Windows Me, it may take you a moment--or an afternoon--to figure out why you can't simply drag documents up or down in the list of waiting printouts to rearrange their printing order. In Windows 7, the procedure is slightly more involved.
Start by right-clicking the name of one of the printouts-in-waiting; from the shortcut menu, choose Properties. On the General tab, drag the Priority slider left or right. Documents with higher priorities print first.
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> Printing at 39,000 Feet
Printing any document is really a two-step procedure. First, Windows converts the document into a seething mass of printer codes in the form of a spool file on your hard drive. Second, it feeds that mass of code to the printer.
When you're not connected to your printer--for example, when you're sitting in seat 23B several miles over Detroit--you can separate these two tasks. You can do the time-consuming part of the printing operation (creating the spool files) right there on the plane. Then, later, upon your happy reunion with the printer, you can simply unleash the flood of stored spool files, which then print very quickly.
To set this up, right-click the icon for your printer in the Devices and Printers window. From the shortcut menu, choose "See what's printing." Then, on the Printer menu, choose "Pause printing." That's all there is to it. Now you can merrily "print" your documents, 100 percent free of error message. Windows quietly stores all the half-finished printouts as files on your hard drive.
When the printer is reconnected to your PC, right-click its icon once again, choose "See what's printing," and then click "Pause printing" again to clear this setting. The printer springs to life almost immediately, spewing forth your stored printouts with impressive speed.
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> Location-Aware Printing
Speaking of shared printers, if you're running the Professional or Ultimate edition of Windows 7 and working on a laptop computer, you can let Windows handle the printing chores that arise when you move from one network to another. Windows uses a feature called location-aware printing to do this.
When you're at home, for example, and printing to your family's homegroup printer, Windows uses that as your default printer. When you head back to the office the next day and log onto your company's network, Windows knows which printer you used the last time you printed at the office and switches to that printer as the default.
To associate printers with a particular network, choose Start->Devices and Printers, and then select one of the printers you've installed. On the toolbar, click "Manage default printers."
In the resulting dialog box, you can tell Windows to always use the same printer as your default (if that's your preference) or change default printers network to network. Use the Select Network and Select Printer lists to assign the printers you want to use.
# Page. 604
> Of Hubs and Power
If your PC doesn't have enough built-in USB jacks to handle all your USB devices, you can also attach a USB hub (with, for example, four or eight additional USB ports), in order to attach multiple USB devices simultaneously.
Whether the jacks are built in or on a hub, though, you have to be aware of whether or not they're powered or unpowered jacks.
Unpowered ones just transmit communication signals with the USB gadget. These kinds of USB gadgets work fine with unpowered jacks: mice, keyboards, flash drives, and anything with its own power cord (like printers).
Powered USB jacks also supply current to whatever's plugged in. You need that for scanners, Webcams, hard drives, and other gadgets that don't have their own power cords but transmit lots of data.
The bottom line? If a gadget isn't working, it may be because it requires a powered jack and you've given it an unpowered one.
# Page. 614
> The Curse of the Yellow ! Badge
A yellow circled exclamation point next to the name indicates a problem with the device's driver. It could mean that either you or Windows installed the wrong driver, or that the device is fighting for resources being used by another component. It could also mean that a driver can't find the equipment it's supposed to control. That's what happens to your Webcam driver, for example, if you've detached the Webcam.
The yellow badge may also be the result of a serious incompatibility between the component and your computer, or the component and Windows. In that case, a call to the manufacturer's help line is almost certainly in your future.
# Page. 648
> When Good Drives Go Bad
I was surprised when the Check Disk dialog box found some problems with my hard drive. I don't understand what could have gone wrong. I treat my PC with respect, talk to it often, and never take it swimming. Why did my hard drive get flaky?
All kinds of things can cause problems with your hard drive, but the most common are low voltage, power outages, voltage spikes, and mechanical problems with the drive controller or the drive itself.
An inexpensive gadget called a line conditioner (sold at computer stores) can solve the low-voltage problem. A more expensive gizmo known as an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) maintains enough backup battery power to keep your computer going when the power goes out completely--for a few minutes, anyway, so you can shut it down properly. The more expensive models have line conditioning built in. A UPS is also the answer to power outages, if they're common in your area.
Voltage spikes are the most dangerous to your PC. They frequently occur during the first seconds when the power comes back on after a power failure. A surge suppressor is the logical defence here. But remember that the very cheap devices often sold as surge suppressors are actually little more than extension cords. Furthermore, some of the models that do provide adequate protection are designed to sacrifice themselves in battle. After a spike, you may have to replace them.
If you care about your computer (or the money you spent on it), buy a good surge suppressor, at the very least. The best ones come with a guarantee that the company will replace your equipment (up to a certain dollar value) if the unit fails to provide adequate protection.
On the other hand, insufficient power is just as dangerous as voltage spikes. If you own a desktop PC, chances are good that the built-in power supply is strong enough for whatever components your PC was born with. But if you're upgraded--adding a faster hard drive or a beefier video card, for example--you may be pushing your PC's power supply to its limits.
If you're doing a bunch of upgrades to convert an entry-level office PC into a gaming powerhouse, then make sure you're including a newer, stronger, power supply among those upgrades.
# Page. 658
Your PC can grab data from RAM (memory) hundreds of times faster than from the hard drive. That's why it uses a cache, a portion of memory that holds bits of software code you've used recently. After all, if you've used some feature or command once, you may want to use it again soon--and this way, Windows is ready for you. It can deliver that bit of code nearly instantaneously the next time.
When you leave your PC for a while, however, background programs (virus checkers, backup programs, disk utilities) take advantage of the idle time. They run themselves when you're not around--and push out whatever was in the cache.
That's why, when you come back from lunch (or sit down first thing in the morning), your PC is especially sluggish. All the good stuff--your stuff--has been flushed from the cache and returned to the much slower hard drive, to make room for those background utilities.
SuperFetch attempts to reverse that cycle. It attempts to keep your most frequently used programs in the cache all the time. In fact, it actually tracks you can your cycle of work. If you generally fire up the computer at 9 a.m., for example, or return to it at 1:30 p.m., SuperFetch will anticipate you by restoring frequently used programs and documents to the cache.
There's no on/off switch for SuperFetch, and nothing for you to configure. It's on all the time, automatic, and very sweet. (Actually, you can turn it off via Services->SuperFetch)
# Page. 665
> Moving Virtual Memory
So how do you move the virtual memory swap file for more speed?
Well, you don't, really.
Virtual memory is a trick computers use to keep a lot of programs open at once--more, in fact, than they technically have enough memory (RAM) for. How do they manage keeping so many software balls in the air? Easy--they set some of them down on the hard drive.
When you bring Photoshop to the front, for example, Windows frees up the necessary memory for it by storing some of the background program's code on the hard drive. When you switch back to, say, Microsoft Word, Windows swaps Photoshop for the Word code it needs from the hard drive, so that the frontmost program always has full command of your actual memory.
In the days of yore, power geeks argued that you could eke out a little extra speed by relocating this setting-down area--the swap file--to another hard drive. A clean, fast, dedicated drive, for example.
These days, though, that's a lot of effort for very little noticeable speed boost, if any. Today's hard drives are a lot faster than they once were, and a lot better at handling multiple simultaneous requests for data.
Anyone who really wants to move the swap file to a different drive is probably the kind of power user who'd go whole hog, adding a RAID 0 or RAID 0+1 hard drive setup (and if you know what that is, you're enough of a techie to know how to set it up). That would speed up a lot of other aspects of the PC, too.
If you're still determined to move the swap file, though, you can do it. Open the System Properties dialog box. (Right-click Computer in the Start menu; choose Properties.) Click "Advanced system settings." Click the Advanced tab.
In the Performance section, click Settings. In the next dialog box, click the Advanced tab. (Are you getting the idea that this is an advanced technique?) Under "Virtual memory," click Change.
Turn off "Automatically manage paging size for all drives," highlight the new destination hard drive for the swap file, and then click OK.
# Page. 666
> Resource Monitor
This little app (type resource into the Start menu) is a dashboard for your PC's guts: its processor chip (CPU), memory, and disk space. It shows you how much of your PC's horsepower and capacity is being used up, and by what.
Even when you're only running a program or two, dozens of computational tasks (processes) are going on in the background. The top table of the Overview screen shows you all the different processes--visible and invisible--that your PC is handling at the moment.
Some are easily recognizable (such as wmplayer.exe, meaning Windows Media Player); others are background system-level operations you don't normally see. For each item, you can see the percentage of CPU being used, how much memory it's using, and other details.
You can isolate one program (or one set of them) using the checkboxes down the left side of any Resource Monitor list; read the details of your selection in the lower half of the window. You can add or delete columns (right-click a column heading, choose Select Columns); you can also drag them to rearrange them or adjust their widths.
The tabs above the list let you drill down into the details of you CPU, memory use, disk space, and network activity.
Normal people living normal lives probably won't root around in Resource Monitor much. But in times of troubleshooting, either you or your designated tech guru may find its information very helpful indeed.
# Page. 668
> Volumes Defined
You won't get far in this chapter, or at PC user group meetings, without understanding a key piece of Windows terminology: volume.
For most people, most of the time, volume means "disk." But technically, there's more to it than that--a distinction that becomes crucial if you explore the techniques described in this chapter.
If you open your Computer window, you see that each disk has its own icon and drive letter (C:, for example). But each icon isn't necessarily a separate disk. It's possible that you, or somebody in charge of your PC, has split a single drive into multiple partitions, each with a separate icon and drive letter. Clearly, the world needs a term for "an icon/drive letter in the Computer window, whether it's a whole disk or not." That term is volume.
With Windows 8's dynamic disks, you can do more than partition one hard drive into multiple volumes--you can also do the reverse, as described in this chapter. If you've installed more than one hard drive, you can actually request that Windows represent them on the screen as one volume. This way, you can have as many hard disk drives in your computers as you want and combine their storage space into a unit, represented by one icon and drive letter.
# Page. 670
Note: If you've just installed an additional hard drive, Disk Management notices the next time you start it up. It prompts you to initialize the new disks; select the partition style you want to use. In most cases, you should choose the proposed format, MBR (Master Boot Record, which has been used by Windows and MS-DOS for years). The dialog box will tell you when the other choice, GPT (the newfangled GUID Partition Table, used by PCs that are designed around a replacement for the venerable PC BIOS called EFI), is appropriate. Click OK.
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> Extending a Volume
One big advantage of dynamic disks is that you can extend an existing volume whenever you feel like it, just by allocating additional disk space to it. If, for example, you run out of space on a volume you've named Data, and you still have some unallocated space on some other disk, you can simply add it to the Data volume to make it bigger. The unallocated space you specify becomes a permanent part of the Data volume. (Note that this is a one-way trip. Once you've added free space to a dynamic volume, it becomes part of that volume permanently, or at least until you delete the volume--and its data--and recreate it.)
The disk space you use to extend the volume can come from either the same disk or another dynamic disk (in which case you create a spanned volume). Note, though, that you can't extend the system volume, nor any volume that was originally a partition created by another operating system.
# Page. 672
> What About Extending Basic Disks?
Windows 7 allows you to extend (and shrink) basic disks as well as dynamic disks. Previously, you'd have to buy a program like Partition Magic to perform this kind of operation.
But why would you want to resize your basic disk? In most cases, your basic disk already takes up the entire physical disk drive. However, many computer manufacturers devote several gigabytes of precious disk space to storing restore images so you can quickly and easily restore your computer to its factory-fresh state (minus the new-compter smell).
You may not need these restore images. Maybe your PC manufacturer provided a utility program that can generate a set of installation discs, or will sell you a set for a small fee, or maybe you bought a full retail copy of Windows 7 (not an upgrade version). The point is, though, that if you're sure you'll never need the volume that contains your restore images, you may be able to delete it and extend your C: drive into the space you freed up.
To delete a partition, right-click it in the Disk Management window; from the shortcut menu, choose Delete Volume (this is a good time to pause and think about how fresh your backups are). Once you've done that, you can right-click your C: drive and select Extend Volume.
You can just as easily shrink your C: drive, perhaps to make room for dual-booting another operating system such as Linux.