Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vista, We Hardly Knew Ye

Published by Sunbelt Software Manage Your Profile Privacy Policy
Vol. 2, # 62 - Mar 12, 2009 - Issue # 71 
 Vista, We Hardly Knew Ye

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Vista, We Hardly Knew Ye
    • Follow-up: Social Networking Evolution and Etiquette
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Remote Desktop on Vista Home - Revisited
    • Protect your data by moving it off the Windows partition
    • Is Microsoft planning to dump the IE browser engine?
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to display the hierarchical folder path instead of "breadcrumbs"
  5. Vista Security
    • Critical vulnerability affects Vista kernel
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • DreamScene: How do I use it?
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Windows Explorer crashes if you try to remove the $WINDOWS.OLD folder
    • IE doesn't work correctly with very long name for Favorite
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • You'll be able to turn off IE - and other Windows components - in Win 7
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • Koi Fish 3D Screensaver

My Antivirus Is Killing My Netbook - Now What?

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Editor's Corner

Vista, We Hardly Knew Ye

Vista was released in November 2006, about two and a quarter years ago. However, it is still thought of as a "new" operating system to many Windows users, and a good number have resisted adopting it and stuck to their old "tried and true" XP OS, even going so far as to downgrade to XP when they buy a new computer that comes with Vista installed.

Now many Vista users have already "moved on" and are running Windows 7 as their primary operating system, even though it's still in beta and even though Microsoft says not to use beta software on productivity machines. Many would argue that Win 7 is already more stable as a beta than Vista was when it was released (some even say it's more stable than Vista is now, with SP1). I'm also hearing from die-hard XP users who have given Windows 7 a try and are not looking back. Even my son, in a recent article about why Linux isn't triumphing over Windows, called Vista "a bump in the road" for Microsoft:

I think Vista got a bad rap. For those of us who embraced it, Vista offered features and functionality that XP doesn't. The XP default GUI looks clownish and child-like up against the slick Aero interface, and going back to XP after you've become accustomed to Vista can leave you frustrated, longing for your Windows Explorer Favorites and preview pane, the Start Menu Search bar, the clickable "breadcrumbs" path, and your sidebar gadgets. Vista's Complete PC Backup can be a lifesaver, as anyone who's had to use it knows, and built in programs like the Snipping Tool, Windows Photo Gallery and an improved Paint make it easy to do basic graphics and photo manipulation "out of the box" without installing third party software.

Still, even those of us who loved it at first sight had to admit that Vista has its faults. It's a resource hog, pure and simple. It won't run on most netbooks or other low powered or older computers, and if it does, it does it so painfully slowly that it's barely useable. Even some high priced laptops that came with Vista installed didn't run it acceptably without a lot of tweaking. On a top of the line system, Vista is a dream. On that super cheap new system or the old Pentium 4 that used to run XP so well, maybe not so much.

Then there's UAC. I won't go so far as to say that User Account Control was the main reason for Vista's lack of popularity among the tech press, but it certainly didn't help. By creating UAC, Microsoft was responding to a demand for increased security, but in general, end users don't like security; it keeps them from doing what they want to do. And when that security gets in your face every time you try to install a program or even open up the Device Manager, people get annoyed very quickly. For many folks, UAC became the defining feature in Vista, and not one that they appreciated.

Unfortunately, UAC rears its ugly head most often during your first few hours with a Vista machine, because that's the time when you're making lots of configuration changes and installing all your applications. Later on, when you have things more or less stabilized, you don't see it so much - but by then it's already made a lasting (and unfavorable) impression. This feature alone caused many people I know to give up on Vista before they ever got to know it, and go back to the familiar comfort of an XP that didn't nag them so much.

That's a shame, because they missed out on all the good things about Vista. In fact, though, quite a few of the people who use Vista every day are missing out on its best features, too. We get used to doing things a certain way, so even when a faster or more efficient method comes along, we stick with the old way. I still see many Vista users open a program by hunting through several layers of the Programs menu for it, even though it's much quicker and easier to just type the program name in the Search box. They click Start | All Programs | Accessories | Command Prompt instead of just typing cmd in the Search box. Every time they access a network folder, they navigate in Explorer to Network | Computer Name | Share | Folder, instead of putting commonly used resources in the Favorites section so they can go there with one click. They don't utilize the Recent Places option that can quickly get you back to the file you were working with earlier.

Service Pack 1 made Vista more stable and also helped to speed up performance a bit. After installing the service pack, along with some tweaks of my own that included uninstalling a lot of the Sony software that was preinstalled, I did get my Vista laptop running in a workable manner - albeit without Aero. Now Microsoft is getting ready to release Service Pack 2, but no one seems to be very excited about it. If you want to check it out ahead of time, the release candidate (RC) is "out there" now:

There are a few interesting additions to functionality, such as the integration of Blu-ray recording in the OS - but how many of us have Blu-ray burners on our systems? And there's still no built-in Blu-ray playback software, so to actually watch our expensive Blu-ray movies we're stuck with the same three options we had before: Cyberlink, Arcsoft and WinDVD9, all of which cost around $80.

Another new feature in the service pack is support for Bluetooth 2.0. Again, this will be useful for a subset of Vista users, particularly laptop users, but it's irrelevant for many others. Another boon to those with Vista portables is the enhanced wireless. Perhaps more universally useful are the improvements to search functionality, with an automatic upgrade from Windows Search 3.0 to 4.0. You can read more about what's in SP2 here:

But is the service pack too little, too late? Will Vista users even bother to install it, or just tread water and wait for the release of Windows 7? What about you? Are you one of the Windows 7 beta testers who have already put Vista behind you? Are you eagerly awaiting a switch to the new OS when the final release comes out? Or have you gotten comfortable with Vista and plan to stick with it for a while? Or do you feel as if you're still learning about Vista? Do you take advantage of its new ways of doing things, or do you still do most things in Vista the same way you did them in XP? Are you ready to say goodbye? Let us know your opinions and experiences at

Follow-up: Social Networking Evolution and Etiquette

In last week's editorial, I took a closer look at how online communications have evolved from email and chat to today's full-featured social networking tools, and discussed some of the etiquette issues that have come about as a result of the new technologies. The topic struck a chord with many of our readers, who wrote to give their thoughts and opinions.

Later on, I did more thinking about the topic and did a follow-up post on my blog, where I addressed some additional related issues. You can read those thoughts here:

Some of you came up with some of the same concerns I had in my addendum. Paul S. wrote: "My fear is primarily professional since what you (or your friends!!) say since can and will be held against you by your employer (and others as well). If I could 'categorize' all of my 'friends' ... like Casual Acquintances, Close Friends, Family, Professional, etc.... and then could tag my posts against those when I made them so that only those categories could view that post... I might be more willing to use it. Then if I log a pic of my family vacation I could make it available to "Family and Close Friends" only -- etc. etc. Then control that people can only see posts tagged to their role as my friend... that way posts from my casual acquanitances couldn't be [easily] read by my professional contacts..., etc."

Ken D. pointed out how many of the little "games" that go around on Facebook and other social sites can create risks of identity theft: "I am surprised how willing some people are to post information about themselves that comes darn close to revealing sensitive information . You may have seen the 'Name Game' in FaceBook where you post a Note using info like your mother's and father's middle name, your first pet's name, and the make/model of your first car to create some humorous anecdotes ... It isn't long before someone who you have 'friended' has a lot of personal details all collected in one convenient place. These details are often used in security verification forms like password resets. So, how well do you trust that High School classmate that you barely knew in school and have not seen in twenty years?"

Whereas many see the social networking technologies as a means to reach out and connect with others, some see them as merely a vehicle for feeding self- absorption. Jeff B. wrote, "So we have discovered this generation's great flaw. They really believe they are that interesting. So much so that they need a facebook, linkedin, or twitter presence so they can tell the masses. These are the same folks who are sure that everything else is about them as well. Narcissism comes to mind ... People, wake up. Get interested in something besides self."

Edward's story reminds us that different people "take to" new technologies differently. He wrote: "My daughter (40), my grand daughters (18, 24), my daughter-in-law (36), sister-in-law (58) all have face book pages. This means all the people that they know, some of whom I know. They nagged my wife to get a page and she finally gave in and I set it up for her. They are all rabid bookers and my wife cannot see the point. I think she has been on the page 3-4 times in the 3 months since I set it up. I add pictures for her occasionally and that is it. All the ladies wonder what her problem is. I see the samplings of postings and I can see that it is something of a game to them and a place to let their friends and family know what is going on in their lives and interact with all those people they can see only rarely and sometimes not at all (distant family). I can see the point but my wife can't."

It seems that in general, younger people are quicker to embrace SN. For example, Matthew S. writes, "As a young social networking user (I'm only 22) I have to say facebook has literally changed my life. I have used the site to check up on old flames, and make sure the girl I just met doesn't have a boyfriend (without asking and seeming too forward). I use facebook to invite friends to parties (much easier to check who RSVP'd and send updates), tell them about trips, and ask for help. Social networking is the future, and I embrace it with open arms. The next move? Laws. There needs to be better legal jurisdiction on content management, personal property and accountability."

Wolf K. said, "Face to face is still my primary mode, closely followed by e- mail, snail mail (I like to send postcards), and phone I also blog, but my audience is small -- "select" is the term I prefer ;-). Some of my younger relatives added me to their FaceBooks a couple of weeks ago, and there was a flurry of twitter-like writing on the wall, but this died down almost immediately. Fact is, electronic networking is not nearly as satisfying as face to face. It never will be." I agree - but in today's world we are often separated by geography or time commitments and unable to do as much F2F communication as we might like. In that case, electronic methods can fill in the gap quickly, easily and relatively inexpensively. I would certainly like to see my daughter more often, but she lives a thousand miles away, and our schedules often conflict so that at a time when I'm free to talk on the phone, she's working or sleeping and vice versa. But with electronic communications, we can keep in touch without waiting days on the postal service.

Finally, Gregory J. brought up this interesting question: "So, you're attending 'enlightening and interesting presentations' yet you're all blogging, tweeting, and updating Facebook entries. Has the cyberworld extinguished every last flicker of common courtesy, or is this perfectly acceptable in the land of technogeeks? I assume the presentation is being delivered by a live person who deserves your attention - how is all the laptop manipulation any different from whipping out USA Today or a good book in the face of your enlightening and interesting presenter?"

It's a perfectly valid issue for someone who's used to the more traditional presentation model. However, as both an attendee and an occasional presenter, I can tell you that yes, in the land of technogeeks, it's normal for most of the people in the audience to have their laptops open and connected to the Internet. In fact, I take extensive notes in OneNote on every presentation I attend, and as a presenter, I don't take the fact that someone is typing away to be a sign of inattentiveness, any more than I would if that person were jotting notes on a pad with a pencil. Most tech presenters are happy when their sessions result in lots of tweets, blog posts or Facebook posts - since it means people are listening, and repeating what they're saying. And in many cases, the presenters are connected, too, and reading questions and comments from the audience in real time on their own laptops or smart phones.

This points out the fact that rules of etiquette, along with the technologies themselves, are always evolving.

Thanks to all of you who wrote on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Quotes of the Week

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. - J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

Goodbye. I am leaving because I am bored. - George Saunders (last words)

The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything - or nothing. - Lady Nancy Astor (1879-1964)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

Backups? We don't need no stinking backups! Synchronization isn't anything like backing up, it's better! Easy too!

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

One easy to remember password gives automatic access to all my online passwords and usernames. I love the autofill feature.

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Remote Desktop on Vista Home - Revisited

In last week's Question Corner, we had someone ask how to connect to a Vista Home Premium computer with Remote Desktop services. I answered that the Home editions don't include the server portion of Remote Desktop and offered an alternative, VNC. Reader Bob H. reminded me that there is another way: if you install Windows Live Mesh on your Home Premium system, you'll be able to access it through Remote Desktop just as you access your Business, Enterprise or Ultimate machines. You can also use Live Mesh with XP SP2 or above or even Mac OS X 10.5 or above. Do note that Live Mesh is still a beta product, but it does offer a way to make Home edition computers act as Remote Desktop servers (hosts). You can find out more about Live Mesh at

Protect your data by moving it off the Windows partition

By default, Windows saves your documents, pictures and other irreplaceable user data on the same hard disk partition where the operating system is installed. But that means if you end up having to reformat and reinstall Windows, you'll lose not just the applications that you've installed but also your data. Sure, you back it up to another location regularly ... or do you? Even if you do, it can simply things a lot if you just store your data on a separate partition or even a separate physical hard drive. First you'll need to move your existing data, then direct Windows to save to the new default location. This article in PC World by Lincoln Spector tells you how to do that in Vista:

Is Microsoft planning to dump the IE browser engine?

Nobody knows for sure, but rumors are floating around the web that the company might be planning big changes for the next version of its web browser (after IE 8). Talk is that a new Microsoft browser might be based on the WebKit platform or Gazelle, which is an alpha version of a Microsoft research browser that acts like an operating system and offers security advantages for web pages with dynamic elements (of course, the name also implies that it will be fast). Is dumping IE a good idea, or not? Read more here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to display the hierarchical folder path instead of "breadcrumbs"

Personally, I like the "breadcrumbs" path view in Vista (Computer --> Maxtor (D:) --> Pictures --> SFTrip) because you can click any point at it and go there - it's quick and efficient. But some readers have complained that they want to see the old style hierarchical path (D:\Pictures\SFTrip) instead. Well, that's easy enough:
  1. In Windows Explorer, hold down the ALT key
  2. Press and release the D key
  3. The path is highlighted, so you can copy it to your keyboard with CTRL+C
  4. To get back to the "breadcrumbs" view, press the ESC key.
If you want to keep the breadcrumbs, but need to copy the path, just right click an empty space in the address bar after the path and you can select "Copy Address" or "Copy Address as Text." Note that these same procedures work in Windows 7, too.

Vista Security

Critical vulnerability affects Vista kernel

This month's Patch Tuesday saw the release of three new security bulletins. The one rated critical affects the kernel of most currently used Windows operating systems, including Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003/2008 as well as Vista. The other two issues are rated as important, a step down from critical, but could allow for spoofing attacks whereby network traffic could be redirected to the attacker's computers. Read more about these here:

Vista Question Corner

DreamScene: How do I use it?

I finally got around to installing the DreamScene moving screensaver on my Vista Ultimate, but it doesn't seem to work. Am I doing something wrong? I used Windows Update to install it and it looked like it installed. Thanks! - Beau G.

DreamScene actually gives you animated desktop wallpaper, rather than a screensaver. If you've installed the DreamScene application, you may need to then enable it. Perform these steps:
  1. Click Start | Control Panel and then Programs, Programs and Features
  2. Select "Turn Windows features on or off"
  3. Scroll down to Windows Ultimate Extras and put a checkmark in the box labeled "Windows DreamScene"
  4. Wait while the progress bar tells you that the feature is being configured
  5. Reboot the computer
Now when you right click the desktop and select Personalize, under "Choose a desktop background," you should "Windows DreamScene Content" in the menu, so you can select a video to use for your wallpaper. Be forewarned that DreamScene may take up a lot of resources on low powered computers, but if you have the resources to run it, it is very cool looking.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Windows Explorer crashes if you try to remove the $WINDOWS.OLD folder

If you have a computer that you upgraded to Vista from XP, it has a hidden system folder called $WINDOWS.OLD that contains files from the XP installation. If you decide that you don't need those and want to free up some hard disk space, you can remove the folder - but in some cases, Explorer may crash when you try to do so. What's up with that? Read about the cause and how to resolve the issue in KB article 931702 at

IE doesn't work correctly with very long name for Favorite

Maybe you like to be really descriptive in naming your Favorites items in Internet Explorer. That's cool - but don't get carried away with it. When you add a page to Favorites, you're asked to type a name for it but if you enter a name that's more than 221 characters, strange things may happen - such as IE refusing to remove the focus from the Add Favorite box, or hanging altogether. This is a limitation of IE 7 and the only workaround is to use shorter names. Read more in KB article 911860 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

You'll be able to turn off IE - and other Windows components - in Win 7

One of the big complaints from the EU and others who accuse Microsoft of antitrust violations is that applications like the Internet Explorer web browser and Windows Media Player are built into the OS and can't be easily disabled. Well, with Windows 7, they'll no longer be able to make that claim. Recent builds of the Win 7 beta allow you to turn off IE, WMP, Windows Search, the indexing service, the gadget platform and several other components, as easily as unchecking a box. The files for disabled features aren't loaded by the OS, but you can turn the features back on without hunting through your cabinets for your installation disc. Find out more about these new options here:

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

Koi Fish 3D Screensaver

Enjoy A Moment Of Delightful Harmony In Front Of This Peaceful Breathtaking Animated Scenery

Would you love to have our own beautiful KOI fish pond to enjoy a school of brightly-colored Koi swimming tranquilly in their beautiful aquatic habitat? So would we. Why not get the next best thing? The 3PlaneSoft team creates some of the most realistic screen savers on earth and this one is no exception. Koi Fish 3D provides an easy way to enjoy the natural beauty, sounds, unbelievable animation and lifelike visual reproduction of the spectacularly colored Koi Fish fishing swimming in glassy moving water currents. Accompanied by authentic Japanese musical strings, this experience is just right for changing a stressful environment into a peaceful moment. It is an ideal way of relaxation both for office workers and home users. Stunned and charmed by its magical beauty, you even won't be able press the key to stop the screensaver! VistaNews readers can enjoy the free trial version download here.

 About VistaNews

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