Thursday, April 23, 2009

Web-based Services: What's in it for You?

Published by Sunbelt Software Manage Your Profile Privacy Policy
Vol. 2, # 68 - Apr 23, 2009 - Issue # 77 
 Web-based Services: What's in it for You?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Web-based Services: What's in it for You?
    • Follow-up: The Right Tool for the Job
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Yes, Virginia, there will be a public beta of Office 2010
    • Switcher: For an "Expose-like" experience in Vista
    • Number of Windows Media Center users is growing
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to open a command prompt in a particular directory
    • How to hide a drive in Vista
  5. Vista Security
    • Tech companies join the government to raise security awareness of students
    • End to end trust: Microsoft's focus on security and privacy
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Vista computer doesn't work on my network
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Error message on Vista computers with multiple TV tuners
    • Some services don't start after repeated rebooting
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Windows 7 RC coming soon
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • The Ultimate Troubleshooter: Possibly The Most Complete And Most Effective PC Tuning Program Ever Written

Your Current (free) Antivirus Costs You $200!

Huh? Yes, you read that right. Do the math with us for a sec. We recently asked you how much you paid for your Personal Computer and peripherals. The vast majority answered that it was about $1,000 total. Now, the average old-style antivirus (paid or free) you install, hijacks about 20% of that PC, in CPU and Memory. Bingo, there's your lost 200 bucks! Time to switch don't you think? Get VIPRE. It's not a resource hog, does not slow down your PC, and is only $30 per year. Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE for yourself:

Editor's Corner

Web-based Services: What's in it for You?

We've talked about "cloud" services here before, and an overwhelmingly majority of our readers are not enthused about the idea of having web-based services replace local applications and storage. But what about using the cloud as a supplement to your existing computing experience? Many individual computer users and small businesses are experimenting with free online services such as those offered by Microsoft's Windows Live services and Google Apps. Can the integration of web services with traditional computing make your life easier? That's what we set out to examine this week, focusing primarily on Windows Live services.

In the corporate world, many workers are used to sharing their documents with others via a SharePoint server. Setting up a SharePoint server on your home network, though, can be a bit of a challenge if you aren't an IT pro - not to mention the fact that it's pretty expensive since you have to buy the Windows Server operating system and Client Access Licenses (CALs) for the users who connect to it. If your document sharing needs are a little less complex, you can use an Office Live Workspace for collaboration instead. All you need is a free Windows Live account (note that you'll also need to have Microsoft Silverlight installed to upload multiple documents). You can create separate workspaces for different projects, share each workspace with the friends, family members or co-workers you choose, and specify whether each can simply view your documents or edit them. There are included templates to help you set up specific types of workspaces, such as a workspace for a particular class you're taking or a project you're working on, or one for organizing a job search, and versioning is supported. If you install Microsoft SharedView, you can even share your desktop with a collaborator. Here's a video demo that shows how to create and use workspaces:

If you're planning a party, wedding, grand opening or other event, Windows Live Events is a web service by which you can create a web site for the event, compile your guest list, send invitations and keep track of responses. You can easily publish a blog post about the event to your associated Live Spaces site, or start a web discussion about it. You can automatically add the event to your calendar (Outlook, Apple iCal, or the Yahoo! or Google calendar), and you can create a photo album associated with the event.

Another service that can be difficult and expensive to run locally is a listserver. If you'd like to create your own Internet discussion group, you probably don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for traditional listserver software like L-Soft's Listserv or Lyris ListManager, or hassle with setting up Majordomo (a free list automation program that runs on UNIX). Instead, you can use a web-based Group service such as Windows Live Groups (Yahoo and Google also provide group services). It's easy to create a group on the Windows Live Groups web site; just give it a name and it will be assigned a URL ( and a group email address ( You can set it up so that anyone can request to join (you still have to approve) or you can make it "invitation only." In addition to the email list, you can have web-based group discussions. Groups with 20 or fewer members can even have group chats in Windows Live Messenger. Go here to create a new group:

Hosting a blog site on your own server is something else that you, as a typical computer user, probably don't want to deal with. For instance, to use WordPress - one of the most popular web log hosting applications - you need to set up an Apache web server and install the PHP scripting language and a MySQL database server. If you'd prefer to spend more of your time creating content and less time maintaining the infrastructure to manage it, using a web-based blog hosting service makes sense. There are quite a few free services out there, including Blogger (owned by Google), and Typepad. I use Windows Live Spaces, in part because I like its easy integration with the Windows Live Writer blogging application (however, you can also use Live Writer with the other services mentioned above). You can even publish to your blog from your mobile phone. Find out more about Windows Live Spaces at

One complaint I have about Live Spaces is that you can only have one blog per Windows Live ID. That means, to have multiple blogs (one for tech topics, one for personal posts, and one for political matters), I have to create multiple Windows Live ID accounts. The good thing is that Windows Live now allows me to link those multiple accounts together, so that I don't have to log out and log back in to switch accounts. Find out more about linking Live IDs here:

Here's something else for which the cloud serves a useful purpose: sharing photos with your family and friends. Yes, you could set up a web server on your computer and post your pictures there for others to view, or create an FTP server from which they could download your photos - but once again, it's a bit of trouble and it can also introduce a security issue if you allow other folks to access your system from the Internet. It's easier and in many ways safer to upload the photos you want to share to a web-based photo sharing service. There are plenty to choose from, and most are free. Google operates Picasa, Yahoo! has Flickr, and Microsoft offers Windows Live Photos, which is integrated with their Windows Live SkyDrive (more on that later). You can create separate photo albums and share them with others. With group albums, other people have permission to add photos, too. You can also organize photos into slideshows and tag the people in your photos. And with Windows Live for Mobile, you can share your photos as soon as you take them with your camera-enabled mobile phone. Find out more about the service here:

In general, I don't want my data "out there" someplace, where I don't have control over it. I store it on my own hard drives and make backups to other computers on the local network and to removable media. It's a good idea, though, to also back up certain data to an off-site location just in case a natural disaster destroys your home or office and all those copies of your "stuff." If the data is sensitive, you may want to burn it to a DVD and put it in your safety deposit box. If security isn't an issue, but the files are irreplaceable (for instance, personal photos), a good option is to upload copies to an online storage or backup service such as IDrive or ADrive, where you can get from 2 to 50 GB of space free. I use Windows Live SkyDrive, which gives you 25 GB of free storage space. It's easy to use, with drag and drop support, and each folder has a URL so you can send the address to others in email and they can access your files (if you've given them permission) just by clicking. This is also a good solution when you have files that you need to access from different places (for example, if you're going on vacation and want to be able to get to certain files from your hotel room, but don't want to set up your home computer for remote access and don't want to have to copy all the files onto your laptop or a removable drive. Read more about SkyDrive here:

There are other cloud services available as part of Windows Live Services, such as Hotmail, contacts management and the online calendar. I like the ones I've mentioned above because they integrate nicely with my local applications such as Microsoft Office programs, the Photo Gallery photo editing program, Movie Maker and more. For home or small business/home office users, these services provide a very cost effective way to take advantage of the cloud on your terms - without giving up the many advantages of using local applications and storage.

For businesses with more sophisticated needs, Microsoft offers a different cloud solution: Microsoft Online Services. It's a subscription service that gives you, for $15 per month per user, hosted Exchange, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Live Meeting and Microsoft Office Communications Online. You get the same server applications that enterprises run, but you don't have to have an IT staff to maintain them. You can even try it out at no cost for 30 days - and unlike with many free trials for subscription services, you don't have to provide credit card info and worry about whether you'll be charged even if you cancel at the end of the evaluation period. For more information, see
Tell us what you think about using cloud services in conjunction with, rather than instead of the traditional computing model. What cloud services do you use, and which ones would you be interested in using? What services would you like to see that aren't available now? If you don't use online services, what's your reason? Control issues? Security concerns? Just don't have the need? Let us know your opinions at

Follow-up: The Right Tool for the Job

Last week's editorial stirred up a bit of passion - both from those who agreed with me and from those who didn't. I carried the theme further in my blog post titled "The Right (Social Networking) Tool for the Job" at

Meanwhile, we got plenty of responses to my original examples regarding using the right Office application (Word vs. Excel vs. Access) and using the right operating system for the hardware and situation. Will said, "About Excel text documents.... I thought I was the only one that hated it. It's such a waste of time and resources. It's good to know I'm not the only one."

Gayle B. said, "My problem is with the people that use Microsoft Works when they have MS Office installed on their computer. Works has never been compatible with Office and has never been compatible with anything (but it is free)." And Bob C. wrote: "Sometimes using the right tool can also get you into trouble. I used Microsoft Publisher to write a book, then I was requested to write a Kindle edition. I can't find a easy way to do it without going back to my original word documents and constructing an entirely new book using HTML."

And sometimes it's true that the right tool for you isn't the same tool that's right for someone else. Bob Y. noted that "Yes, I often feel that I'm using the wrong tool to do a particular job. But, it is a tool that I know how to use, so I use it. While Access may be the more preferred tool to use, the steep learning curve required for occasional use, tends to encourage me to slog along with an Excel worksheet or even a Word table."

And Herb D. brings up this very good point: "There is such a bewildering profusion of software out there anymore that I don't know how anyone can make an intelligent decision about which software to use. When you are retired or work strictly from home, you don't have the chance to talk to others, at coffee or lunch, about their experience with software that you haven't used. In this case, you are left with whatever you can get from the internet or folks like yourself that write about software. Also, for most of us, there is an expense that we can't afford to just experiment with software and then find out it isn't what we need. So, we tend to stick to the things we know."

Bill P. provided another example: "Your article on using the right tool, particularly your example with Excel struck a chord with me. I am an RF engineer and although Excel is a great tool for quick calculations, it falls flat on its face for doing scientific calculations. Especially if the calculations involve logarithms. I recently had the need to check a cascaded noise figure calculation for a complex receiver, which I calculated using Maple (my preferred mathematics software). I discovered that the Excel spreadsheet was in error by more than 5 dB! For those not familiar with decibels, that is an error of more than 3X!"

Neal S. had this to say: "My biggest gripe is with people trying to use Excel to create graphs when there are far more intuitive and capable ways of doing so. Excel was created for business types mostly, and I have to assume that its graphing capabilities are adequate for those purposes. But for the sort of graphing flexibility I need for scientific education and research, it is far too primitive."

We do have a number of Excel-for-everything fans. Joe N. said, "I am one of those folks that tend to use Excel for everything from text tables to calendars to statistics. Part of it is that both I, and my peers (from evey discipline) at work understand how to use it. In the past several folks have attempted to adopt Access, but it just wasn't intuitive or simple enough."

Several of you told me that I could have pasted the Word table directly into Excel. Well, that was the first thing I tried, but it didn't work at all - in fact, it made quite a mess. This was probably due to the Excel template that I was given, and not the fault of Excel itself. Either way, it didn't work in this case.

Some of you have a cadre of very specialized tools. Kenneth F. said, "As a writer, I have one essential tool type, the word processor. I don't have just one word processor, however, but four, each one having different advantages over the others. The oldest is there because of a lack of automated means of translating its data files to another word processor's format, and one is there because it handles just one file correctly, whereas the next version of it does not. The remaining two are extensively used, each having features and capabilities lacking in the other. Luckily, their interfaces are similar enough to avoid my becoming confused by their differences."

As for choosing the right operating system, sometimes it's the use that matters more than the hardware. Mike S. wrote: "Agreed on all points, but I have to say that I am one of those nuts who installed Vista on his netbook. After replacing the weak SSD with a 80GB hard drive and adding an additional GB of RAM, I installed Vista Ultimate but repackaged it using vLite. It works great! I don't try to do more with it than what it was intended for, using it for only email, simple web surfing and posting to my blog, but I still have that 'cool factor' with all of the eye candy and the security that Vista affords me."

There were many, many more responses but we don't have the room to print them all here. Thanks to all of you who wrote this week!

'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

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

Freedom is a possession of inestimable value. - Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. - Lily Tomlin (1939 - )

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do. - Dale Carnegie (1888 - 1955)

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


Before You Kick that Computer to the Curb. Free PC Diagnostic Scan

GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

I need a real program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

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.

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!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Yes, Virginia, there will be a public beta of Office 2010

Rumors had been swirling around the Internet that Microsoft's beta testing of the next generation of Microsoft Office - now named Office 2010 - would be closed, with only selected persons getting to try out the new Office suite. Microsoft has squashed those rumors, announcing last week that there "definitely will be" a public beta, although the date for that release has not yet been disclosed. Read more here:

Switcher: For an "Expose-like" experience in Vista

Many folks who use both Macs and PCs believe that Vista's task switcher doesn't quite live up to Expose, the program included with OS X for switching between applications and windows. Now there's a way to get that same experience on your Vista computer, with a free utility called Switcher. You can see screen shots, read more about it, and find out where to download it here:

Number of Windows Media Center users is growing

Microsoft recently stated that Windows Media Center is used by over 13 million people per month and attributed the growth in market to new content. My guess, though, is that the biggest reason WMC is finally becoming popular is the fact that it's built into Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions. Consumers buying new PCs with these operating systems installed are discovering WMC and happy to find that they can record TV programs on their computers without paying a monthly fee as they have to do with TiVO and cable/satellite company-supplied DVRs. With XP, you could only get Media Center by purchasing a special (and expensive) Media Center PC with Media Center Edition installed by the OEM. Read more here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to open a command prompt in a particular directory

Of course you can open the command window and just navigate to the directory you want. But there's a faster and easier way to open the command prompt in a particular location from Windows Explorer. Here's how:
  1. In Explorer, navigate to the directory where you want to open the command prompt.
  2. Hold down Shift while right clicking the folder or a file that's in that directory.
  3. Select Open Command Window Here.

How to hide a drive in Vista

Maybe you have a drive that you never use (perhaps that's the one on which XP is installed on a dual boot computer) or maybe you want to have a "secret" partition that isn't obvious when someone else looks at the contents of your computer. This won't render the drive inaccessible (you can still get to it by typing in the path) but it will keep it from being displayed in Computer and Explorer.
  1. Open your registry editor and in the left pane, navigate to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer (if there is no such key, right click Policies, select New Key and name it Explorer)
  2. In the right pane, right click an empty space and select New, then 32 bit DWORD Value
  3. Rename the new value NoDrives
  4. Follow the directions here to determine what value to enter in the Value Data field:

Vista Security

Tech companies join the government to raise security awareness of students

Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and other big tech firms are joining forces with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a volunteer program whereby IT professionals will go into schools to educate elementary and secondary students on the dangers of Internet predators, data thieves, and scam artists. Find out more about it here:

End to end trust: Microsoft's focus on security and privacy

At this year's RSA security conference in San Francisco, Microsoft presented its vision of a safer Internet based on what it's calling "end to end trust," a four-point program that's part of the company's push to create more secure software and better protect their customers from Internet threats. Read more here:

Vista Question Corner

Vista computer doesn't work on my network

Ok, I've been sticking with XP until now. Finally had to buy a new computer when mine died and it comes with Vista. My problem is it won't work on my home network. I have a cable Internet connection and a router I've had for about seven years. I have another computer with XP (wife's) that still works fine on the network. I checked and I have Vista set up to get an IP address automatically but when I check the ipconfig it doesn't look like it has an IP address on my network. Can you help or do I have to format this disk and go back to XP to have home networking again? Thanks. - Sid J.

If your Vista computer isn't being assigned an IP address, it may be because of a difference between the way XP and Vista are configured by default in relation to DHCP discovery packets. There is a registry edit that you can make to disable the DHCP BROADCAST flag in Vista to fix the problem. Be sure to back up the registry first. Read all about this problem and get the instructions for editing the registry here:

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Error message on Vista computers with multiple TV tuners

If you have more than one TV tuner installed in your Vista Home Premium or Ultimate computer, you may see an error message at startup that says "Windows Media Center Receiver Service stopped working and was closed." This can be fixed by installing Service Pack 1 or 2, or by installing a hotfix that is intended to correct this specific problem. Find out more in KB article 938928 at

Some services don't start after repeated rebooting

If you reboot your Vista computer multiple times, you may find that some services, such as the DHCP client service, don't start as expected. This is because of a problem with Services.exe not checking driver status of the services correctly. There is a hot fix package available to fix the problem. Find out how to get it from KB article 960014 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Windows 7 RC coming soon

Microsoft has confirmed on their web site that the release candidate (RC) of Windows 7 will be available for public download next month, and there will be no limit on the number of product keys available. This should avert a situation like the one that occurred when the public beta was released in January, when Microsoft's servers were overloaded by wannabe beta testers who were afraid they wouldn't get a copy since the company said the beta would be available for a "limited time." The RC is expected to remain available at least through June and won't expire until June 1, 2010.

Microsoft has asked current beta testers not to upgrade from the beta to the RC, because this may expose bugs that would not occur in the normal process of upgrading from Vista or installing clean. However, they did provide instructions that will allow you to upgrade a beta to RC if you insist on doing so even though the RC installation routine by default won't allow it.

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

The Ultimate Troubleshooter: Possibly The Most Complete And Most Effective PC Tuning Program Ever Written

A staggering 65% of problems which a PC encounters (PC slowness, temporary freezes, full lockups, crashes, blue screens, sluggish behavior), whether in business or at home, are not caused by hardware problems, they are not caused by spyware, they are not caused by viruses - they are caused by background tasks belonging largely to legitimate and often well-known software you use every day! Do you know if all the tasks that eat up resources are really needed each time you boot up? Not as many as you might think! Are you confident enough to know which to kill off? Find out how you can safely get rid of some of these resource eating freeloaders.

 About VistaNews

What Our Lawyers Make Us Say
These documents are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Sunbelt Software on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Sunbelt must respond to changes in market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Sunbelt and Sunbelt cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.


This newsletter and website and may contain links to other websites with whom we have a business relationship. Sunbelt Software does not review or screen these sites, and we are not responsible or liable for their privacy or data security practices, or the content of these sites. Additionally, if you register with any of these sites, any information that you provide in the process of registration, such as your email address, credit card number or other personally identifiable information, will be transferred to these sites. For these reasons, you should be careful to review any privacy and data security policies posted on any of these sites before providing information to them.

The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document. This document may be copied and distributed subject to the following conditions: 1) All text must be copied without modification and all pages must be included; 2) All copies must contain Sunbelt's copyright notice and any other notices provided therein; and 3) This document may not be distributed for profit. All trademarks acknowledged. Copyright Sunbelt Software, Inc. 1996-2009.

VistaNews Archives
Looking for a past issue? Missing an issue? Accidently deleted an issue? Trying to find that article that pointed you to that cool site? All our newsletters are archived and are searchable:

About Your Subscription to VistaNews
This is a posting from VistaNews. You are subscribed as
Your personal VSN Number is: O52HI2

To manage your profile, please visit our site by clicking on the following link:

If you have feedback or wish to write to the editor, write to us at

Sunbelt Software
33 North Garden Avenue
Clearwater, Florida USA 33755

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for understanding that we need to prevent the nasties.

Terms of Use

Personal & Educational Use Only This blog consists mainly of FREE newsletters from computer web gurus that I receive. I thought you might like to see them all in one place than try to discover them on your own. A moderate amount of editing may be done to eliminate unrelated repetitious ads or unnecessary text which bloat the post. However I have given the authors full credit and will not remove their site links because you deserve to see where it comes from and they deserve to get credit for what they have written. Your use of this site is simply for educational purposes. For more computer-related help go to: CPEDLEY.COM for free software, advice and tips on low cost products which are very helpful. If you want to contact the editor, please go CPEDLEY.COM and check the Contact page for email address.