Monday, November 2, 2009

Get Your Family Life Organized

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #95 - Nov 3, 2009 - Issue #403

 Get Your Family Life Organized

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Get Your Family Life Organized
    • Follow-up: XP - good to the last drop
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • More on the XP Smart Phone
    • XP netbooks are still outselling Windows 7 netbooks
    • Restore Vista backup to XP
    • How to create a Windows XP/Windows 7 dual boot configuration
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to make Windows XP your default operating system in dual boot with Ubuntu
  5. XP Security News
    • Top Ten Scariest Technologies
  6. XP Question Corner
    • What happened to the folder list in XP Explorer?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Unable to Change Visual Style of Windows and Buttons
    • Certain files cannot be replaced or updated
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • PCmover® Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant™

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:

 Editor's Corner

Get Your Family Life Organized

There are all sorts of tools that help businesses stay organized - personal digital assistant software for keeping appointments straight and storing contact information, collaboration web sites so multiple people can work together on documents or presentations, project management programs for tracking progress on jobs. But family life today is much more complicated than it used to be back when a note on the refrigerator would suffice to keep everyone "in the loop."

Sure, you can use those same business tools at home but they aren't really geared for family activities. Luckily, hardware vendors, software makers and online services providers have recognized the need and have come out with solutions you can use to keep your family members in touch and aware and make sure they all get to where they need to be on time.

With the slow but inexorable rise of the touch screen, the concept of a kitchen computer is becoming more and more popular. I wrote about the latest HP TouchSmart that lives in our kitchen in our sister publication, Win7News, a few weeks ago. You can read about it at

HP's TouchSmart software includes an interface for leaving notes, which can be either typed/handwritten sticky note type notes, or audio or video recordings. You just "pin" them to the message board for other family members to see. No more worries about them falling off the fridge or cork board. Of course, you don't have to invest in a relatively expensive touch capable machine to have a functional kitchen computer. In fact, it's a great idea for recycling an older system when you get a new one. You can set up an XP computer in the kitchen and add a freeware notes program. There are several of them listed here:

The next application you'll want is a calendar where you can keep up with lunches, lessons, rehearsals, school meetings, sports practice and games, and all the other activities that family members engage in. There are many free calendaring apps out there, too. Here are just a few that you can download:

The problem with these types of solutions is that they only run on the computer on which they're installed. What if you're at a friend's house or the library or at work and you need to check on the family calendar or leave a note? You could use the "old fashioned" method and just call or email someone who's at home and ask them to do it for you, but that doesn't work if no one is at home - and there are far more elegant solutions. One answer is to use remote desktop software to access the family computer and do what you need to do. If your family computer runs XP Pro, you can set it up to be a remote desktop server and you can use the remote desktop client that's built into all versions of XP, Vista and Windows 7 to log on and do anything on the home computer that you'd be able to do if you were there. If the home computer runs XP Home, you can install a VNC server program on it, such as RealVNC, and then install the VNC client on the computer from which you want to access it. That doesn't work if you're at a public computer where software installation isn't allowed, but it can be a good option if you want to access your home computer from your office. Alternatively, you can use an online remote desktop service such as GoToMyPC, but you do have to pay for it.

An easier option is to use a web-based service for your family organization instead of a local application. You can use it on your family/kitchen computer but you can also access it from any computer, anywhere, as long as it has a web browser. One such service that has been recommended by some of our readers is Cozi. It was designed specifically for families and it's free. It includes a family calendar, customizable lists that you can share (shopping lists, grocery lists, to do lists), reminders/messages and a family journal.

The signup process is quick and painless. You're asked for your email address and a password, and a "family name" which can be anything. You aren't required to give an address or phone number or even your last name if you don't want to. When you log on for the first time, you'll be asked to identify who's in your family by first name and email address (you can, of course, add others later). You can put appointments on the calendar and they will be color coded by family member name. For the average family, the simplicity of the interface and the fact that it's made specifically for families is a big benefit. I also like that you can synchronize Cozi with your Outlook calendar. Check it out here:

Of course, with a little bit of technical inclination, you can easily adapt other online services to serve your purposes. Windows Live, for example, has a "groups" function by which you can create a venue for a group of people with a joint calendar, to-do lists and discussions. It's not specifically set up for family use but it will certainly work for that. Find out more at

Although the group calendar doesn't sync with Outlook, you can create an individual Windows Live Calendar that will sync through the Outlook Connector, and then you can share it. Find out more about that here:

Another web-based alternative is the Google calendar, which can also be shared with others and will sync with Outlook and also with Apple iCal and Mozilla Sunbird. There is an offline access option, by which you can view the calendar (in its most recent incarnation when you went offline) without being connected to the Internet. See

The web services can be accessed from your smart phone, too, so you don't have to have a computer with you to check on the family schedule. And a really nice thing about all of these web services is that they're free (although if you set them up to send you text messages, you may have to pay your cell phone provider for those). I guess the down side is that you'll no longer have a good excuse for forgetting your anniversary or missing your kid's play.

Tell us how you keep your family's busy schedules organized. Do you try to keep it all in your head, use the old paper-based methods, or have you gone more high tech? What program(s) do you use and how well is it working for you? Are you using apps that came with the computer, freeware, commercial programs or a web service? What do you like most and dislike most about the method you use? We invite you to discuss this in the forum at

Follow-up: XP - good to the last drop

In last week's editorial, I wrote about some ways you can continue to get the most out of Windows XP and even add some of the new functionalities and security advantages of Vista and Windows 7 to your XP computer.

A number of readers say they plan to stick with XP indefinitely. Others are flexible; they'll take whatever operating system comes with their computers as they buy new ones, but have no plans to upgrade the old ones. Money was given by many as a reason for not upgrading, at least anytime soon. In an economy that has so many folks on a tight budget, it just makes sense to stay with the tried- and-true until/unless you really need something new. That's why I have no plans to replace my 2007 Saturn anytime in the near future. If I were in the car business, I might feel differently - but I'm in the IT business, so I'll spend my money on new computers and software instead of new vehicles.

Minnesota Slim mentioned getting "hooked" on Windows 7 during the betas and RC, and I've heard a number of others say the same thing. They installed the free versions and now they're agonizing over what to do when the RC times out next year. XP is a great operating system but it's hard to go backwards and I have come to take many of Windows 7's new features for granted - and really miss them when I have to work on an older system.

It really baffles me when people write things like this: "Microsoft has created a larger and more unstable OS each and every time it comes out with a new OS. I have nothing against XP, but Vista is trash like ME was, and it looks like W7 is the next 2K. I will wait until W8 or W9 for their next "XP". They keep adding trash to the OS, they do not slim it down and make it smaller, faster, better, more stable ... Hey Microsoft! Start slimming down your OS's, remove the bloatware and crapware you constantly seem to be adding. Leave that to companies like HP, Dell, Sony ECT. That we can remove no problem. The stuff you put in you integrate into the OS itself and we can't remove." Thousands of people who tested and are now running the final version of Windows 7 will tell you that's just not true.

Windows 7 is smaller, faster, better and more stable than Vista. Microsoft removed dozens of "bloatware" applications (mail, calendar, Photo Gallery, contacts, instant messenger, etc.) from Windows 7 that were built into Vista and/or XP - and was criticized by many people for doing so. In fact, the most frequent complaint I get about Windows 7 is that they left out this or that that was in Vista or XP. In addition, with Windows 7, Microsoft has made it quick and easy to remove applications that do come with the OS, including Internet Explorer - they are not "integrated and irremovable." There are lots of good reasons to stick with Windows XP; there's no reason to say inaccurate things about the new OS in order to justify that decision.

Thanks to all of you for participating in this discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called Win7News? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

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Quotes of the Week

Years ago my mother said to me, "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. - Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) in "Harvey" (1950)

Dig where the gold is ...unless you just need some exercise. - John M. Capozzi

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. - Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)

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

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Moving to Windows7 from XP? Did you know that scenario is NOT supported by MS? Keep your apps without reinstalling:

Search for a driver and you get a ton of Driver Software offers instead. But how do you know which one is good? Try Driver Genius 9.0. Free scan.

Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.

Unclog Vista! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

More on the XP Smart Phone

We reported a month or so ago that a Chinese company was coming out with a smart phone that runs Windows XP. Now it's official: the phone is available for pre- order and comes with up to a gig of memory and a solid state drive as big as 120 GB. Those are some serious resources for a phone. You can find out more and see some screenshots of the user interface here:

XP netbooks are still outselling Windows 7 netbooks

Interestingly, as of October 31 - more than a week after the official release of Windows 7 - netbooks with XP were still the best sellers on Amazon. And it's not a matter of money; some of the Windows 7 netbooks are listed at less than twenty bucks less than their XP cousins. Read more here:

Restore Vista backup to XP

If you've backed up your data in Vista, and you now want to go back to XP and have that data available there, you can do it because Vista backs up files in the standard .zip format, which XP can handle with no problem. But going the other direction is a little harder - to restore data you backed up in XP to a Vista computer, you'll need to install a special utility. Find out more here:

How to create a Windows XP/Windows 7 dual boot configuration

If you've decided to give Windows 7 a try but you aren't quite ready to fully commit yet, you might want to consider dual booting the two operating systems so you can go back into XP if you decide you miss it, or if you have an application that won't run properly on Windows 7. In this TechRepublic article, Greg Schultz describes the process of creating an XP/7 system that will let you have the best of both worlds.

 How To: Using XP Features

How to make Windows XP your default operating system in dual boot with Ubuntu

Lots of people are trying out Ubuntu, one of the currently most popular distributions of Linux. Why not? After all, it's free. Many are installing it to dual boot with their Windows OS, which is a good idea since many Windows applications that you may rely on to do your work don't run in Linux. However, you may notice that its boot loader takes over and makes Ubuntu the default operating system, and that might not be what you want. To change that behavior, you need to edit the Grub boot loader menu. Here's how:
  1. Boot into Ubuntu
  2. Click Applications | Accessories | Terminal to open a command line window
  3. At the command prompt, type sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst
  4. When prompted, type your password
  5. In the file, find the following section:

    ## default num
    # Set the default entry to the entry number NUM. Numbering starts from 0, and
    # the entry number 0 is the default if the command is not used.
    default 0

  6. Change the 0 to the number of the Windows boot section, which should be 4 on a typical dual boot system where you installed Ubuntu after XP
  7. Save the file with the changes
It's a good idea to back up the file before you edit it. See this page for instructions:

 XP Security News

Top Ten Scariest Technologies

New technologies (and some of the old ones) are very cool - but when it comes to security, being on the cutting edge can be a little frightening. This slide show looks at ten scary technologies, and you're probably using at least a few of them.

 XP Question Corner

What happened to the folder list in XP Explorer?

Here's a mystery. When I open Windows Explorer in my XP computer now, on the left side where there used to be a list of the drives and folders, now it's just blank. I've installed some programs but I don't know which one caused this or even if that was the cause. Is there any way to track down the culprit and fix it? I'd be thrilled if you can help me fix it without reinstalling the operating system! - Kendrick C.

It's not a unique problem and it's usually caused by a problem in the registry. Sometimes when you install or uninstall applications, this can happen. You don't have to figure out what application was at fault in order to fix it, though. It can be done with a registry fix, and you don't even have to manually edit the registry because someone else has done it for you. Just download the file at the end of this article and run it (but back up your registry first, as you always should do before making changes to it):

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

Unable to Change Visual Style of Windows and Buttons

If you try to change the visual style of windows and buttons in Windows XP Professional, you might get an error message, or you might just find that the changes are not applied. This can happen because of a setting in Group Policy. What? You didn't make changes to Group Policy? Well, some third party applications do it for you. You can fix the problem by editing the Group Policy. To find out how, see KB article 555512 at

Certain files cannot be replaced or updated

If you have Windows SteadyState installed and Windows Disk Protection set to temporarily keep user changes on your XP (or Vista) computer, you might discover that certain types of files cannot be replaced or updated. What's up with that? There's a workaround, which you can find in KB article 960838 at

 Fav Links

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

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

 Product of the Week

PCmover® Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant™

The Only Way to Upgrade Your Existing Windows XP Computer to Windows 7.

Only 14 of the 66 upgrade scenarios detailed by Microsoft® are supported by Windows 7® and upgrading from XP to Windows 7 is not supported. PCmover® Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant™ is the only way to upgrade your existing Windows XP computer to Windows 7. You don't have to worry about reinstalling all of your programs, files and settings and no need to find all of your old CDs and serial numbers. It's all moved automatically for you including: Microsoft Office, Design Programs, PC Games, Instant Messengers, Financial and Tax Software, Spreadsheets, Photos, Videos, Music, Podcasts, Desktop, Backgrounds, Icons, Browser Settings, Favorites/Bookmarks, Internet & Network Settings. Wizard driven interface does all the work! WXPNews readers can buy it with a $10.00 in shopping cart discount. If you've been waiting to upgrade from XP this is a great opportunity. Get it now.

 About WXPnews

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