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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Forums: Posters worry about the future of flying with laptops, from TabletPC

This blog entry was gleaned from, a Featured Community Web site on August 19, 2006.

on August 19, 2006.


Posters discuss the possibility of having to pack laptops in checked luggage as they look for solutions to possible problems associated with new restrictions.


by Joli Ballew

Expert Zone Columnist


Great Tip: Nine applications for more secure computing including free apps from Microsoft by MediaBlab on August 23, 2006.

This blog entry was gleaned from, a Featured Community Web site.


Here you’ll find 9 apps that will help make your computing experience more secure through encryption, anonymity, creating barriers or just helping to actively watch for bad stuff on your PC. Two you may be particularly interested in are the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer and Windows Defender, both free Microsoft products.


by Joli Ballew

Expert Zone Columnist


The items on this WebLog are provided as is with no warranties and confer no rights. See Microsoft Information on Terms of Use. [more]

Tip: Keep control of sent email, posted September 9, 2006, The Kim Komando Show.

This blog entry was gleaned from The Kim Komando Show, a Featured Community Web site.


Unlike postal mail, e-mail can be readily copied, forwarded or archived. Once you send an e-mail, the recipient can do anything with it. Your musings could end up forwarded to strangers. Worse, your words could end up online in someone's blog. Learn how to protect yourself in this well t hought out article.


by Joli Ballew

Expert Zone Columnist


The items on this WebLog are provided as is with no warranties and confer no rights. See Microsoft Information on Terms of Use.


Forum Discussion: Safely personalize Windows XP with free themes and screensavers without acquiring spyware September 21, 2006, Forums.

This blog entry was gleaned from NeoWin.Net Forums, a Featured Community Web site.


A new XP user wants to know how to personalize his computer with free themes and screen savers without acquiring spyware. Posters respond with sites they’ve used without problems


by Joli Ballew

Expert Zone Columnist


The items on this WebLog are provided as is with no warranties and confer no rights. See Microsoft Information on Terms of Use.


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How to Preview Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2

Expert Zone Columnist Tony Northrup tells you how tech enthusiasts can get a jump start on this important new update for the operating system. [more]

Using Multiple Monitors with Windows XP

Columnist Tony Northrup explains how to configure Windows XP to use multiple monitors. [more]

Live Webcast: MVP Charlie Russel on How to Get and Install Windows XP Service Pack 2

View a live webcast Wednesday by MVP Charlie Russel, and learn how to obtain and install Service Pack 2, and how to find help in the online community. [more]

Wireless Home Networking Improvements in Windows XP Service Pack 2

MVP Tony Northrup tells how to use new features in SP2 for connecting to a wireless network at home or at a public hotspot. [more]

Resolving Home Networking Issues

Expert Zone Columnist Charlie Russel looks at common home networking problems and provides solutions. [more]

Using Photoblogs and Galleries: Creative Ways to Share Your Photos with Windows XP

Columnist Sharon Crawford explains how to join the photo-sharing community by posting your pictures in a photoblog or gallery. [more]

Sharing Your Product Reviews to Help the Community of Windows Users

Jake Ludington discusses how Windows XP users benefit from product reviews and ratings on the Windows Marketplace Web site. [more]

Optimizing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and Media Center Extender Networks

Columnist Barb Bowman explains how to enjoy digital entertainment throughout your home by setting up a wireless Media Center Extender network. [more]

Internet Explorer Add-ons

Sandi Hardmeier reviews some of the fun and useful features of browser add-ons for Internet Explorer. [more]

File Corruption in Outlook Express

Tom Koch talks about e-mail file corruption, the causes, and how to avoid it. [more]

Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Gaming Performance Benchmarks

Columnist Joel Durham ran a series of benchmarks comparing gaming performance on a system running Windows XP SP1 to one running Windows XP SP2. [more]

How to Secure Your Wireless Home Network with Windows XP

Columnist Barb Bowman explains how to secure a wireless network using the latest wireless security standards. [more]

Answering Some Common Windows XP Home Networking Questions

Columnist Charlie Russel tackles three common questions about home networking that frequently arise when he's helping Windows XP users in the online community with their home networks. [more]

Using Your Tablet PC for Networking and Working Remotely While Traveling

Tablet PC Community Writer Jeff Van West takes his Tablet PC on the road and explains how to back up data, use hot spots, and create a Windows Journal trip book. [more]

Getting Older Games to Run on Windows XP

Joel Durham describes how to use the Program Compatibility Wizard, search for user-created fixes, find product updates and patches, and introduces a couple of tools that can help improve your gaming experience. [more]

Transfer, Edit, Archive, and Share Your Photos Using Media Center

Columnist Bob Thrasher shares some in-depth strategies for managing and enjoying your digital photos with Media Center. [more]

Tablet PC vs. Laptop: How Do You Choose?

Columnist Jeff Van West suggests you look at performance and range of use requirements when deciding between a Tablet PC and a laptop. [more]

Schedule TV Show Recording over the Web Using MSN Remote Record Service

Columnist Justin Harrison explains how to schedule TV program recordings for your Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 -based PC over the Web. [more]

Exploring Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

In this overview of Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Columnist Charlie Russel explains what hardware and software it supports. [more]

How to Use Speech Recognition Profiles and Dictionaries with a Tablet PC

Columnist Jeff Van West explains how to use Table PC Input Panel to customize speech recognition profiles and user dictionaries. [more]

Using forums to answer questions about Windows XP

Columnist Joli Ballew explains how to successfully search for solutions and post questions in non-Microsoft discussion groups. [more]

Optimize game settings for performance and looks

Gaming writer Joel Durham, Jr. explains how to configure game settings so they fit with your hardware configuration and provide the perfect level of detail for gaming. [more]

Best Practices for Partitioning a Hard Disk

Columnist Mitch Tulloch explains how to choose a disk partitioning scheme that helps you be better organized, more productive, and helps ensure the integrity of your data. [more]

Set up a secure wireless network using Windows Connect Now

Columnist Barb Bowman explains how to use Windows Connect Now to set up a secure wireless network without worrying about complicated network configuration issues. [more]

How to monitor the health of your PC

Columnist Mitch Tulloch explains how to use the tools in the Windows XP Help and Support Center and third-party programs to check your computer's system health. [more]

How to have a video conversation with MSN Messenger

Columnist Joli Ballew explains how to install MSN Messenger, set up a webcam and microphone, and have video conversations. [more]

Find and Record Movies with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005

Lead Software Developer Scott Sanders enjoys watching and recording movies. He explains how Media Center makes it easier to find, watch, and record more movies than he could possibly watch. [more]

Should you build or buy a new Media Center PC?

MVP Terri Stratton builds her own Media Center PC. [more]

Vacation with your Tablet PC

Tony Northrup explains how a Tablet PC can make your vacation more fun and relaxing and provides tips for taking your Tablet PC on vacation. [more]

Troubleshoot Networking Problems in Windows XP

Charlie Russel explains how to troubleshoot problems on your Windows XP network. [more]

Create your own group with MSN Groups

Columnist Joli Ballew introduces you to MSN Groups and shows you how to create a group of your own. [more]

Optimizing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Xbox 360, and Media Center Extender Networks

Columnist Barb Bowman explains how to enjoy digital and gaming entertainment throughout your home by setting up a wireless Media Center Extender network. [more]

Find the right RSS reader for you

Galan Bridgman explains how to find and use an RSS reader to subscribe to and read RSS syndications. [more]

Previewing the Windows Vista interface and user experience

Barb Bowman has been beta testing Windows Vista and shares a preview of what's new and visually exciting in the upcoming operating system. [more]

Organize and transfer music and movies to portable media devices with Windows Media Player 10

Columnist Justin Harrison explains how to use Windows Media Player to transfer music and movies to portable devices. [more]

Preparing for an Upgrade to Windows Vista

Columnist Joli Ballew explains how to prepare for a clean installation of a new operating system by backing up your software, media, and personal data. [more]

Add fun and functionality to your Tablet PC with Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP

MVP Terri Stratton introduces some of the Microsoft PowerToys available for Tablet PC. [more]

Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system: Better together

Columnist Tom Bunzel explains how to enhance productivity by leveraging Windows Vista features in 2007 Office system programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. [more]

Milpitas Network Launches

The land of up to three Wi-Fi networks is live with EarthLink: The city may eventually have coverage from MetroFi, EarthLink, and the Wireless Silicon Valley project. EarthLink is offering 30 days of free use starting today to promote the 10-square-mile network. Thereafter, service runs $4 for an hour, $16 for a three-day pass, or $22 per month from EarthLink. The company will resell access to other providers. Their press release cites PeoplePC as a third-aprty reseller, but that firm is owned by EarthLink.... [more]

Per-Minute Hotspot Access at 15,000 UK Locations

Divine Wireless charges 8p per minute for access to The Cloud, BT OpenZone, and Surf and Sip: The company is aggregated 15,000 locations across the UK into a metered network. The tariff runs £4.80 per hour in intervals of 8p per minute; this is still cheaper than OpenZone's £6 per hour walk-up rate, which is also the minimum time you can purchase from OpenZone.... [more]

Connexion In-Flight Replacement Figuratively Up in the Air

The Wall Street Journal reports that the efforts by Lufthansa, Panasonic Avionics, and others to have a transition plan in place for Connexion's demise are delayed: Panasonic made the surprise announcement a few months ago that they were considering launching a Connexion successor which would use a lighter-weight set of gear (less weight = less fuel) and a smaller antenna (less drag = less fuel) that would allow them to charge less and also push a lot more bandwidth over the same Ku band satellite connection. They would also have a much lower transponder bill in their formulation. Boeing isn't involved in this successor effort, but is supportive of the notion. The Journal says that despite the involvement of Lufthansa, which has the most planes in the world equipped with Connexion gear, and the participation of satellite operator SES and Connexion integrator ViaSat, that they still can't get a deal together. Because of unspecified "financial and regulatory complications," th e timetable is now stretching into 2008, if the various interested airlines and partners can pull it together even then. My research into the costs of in-flight broadband using the alternative Inmarsat fourth-generation satellite network--two of three satellites launched so far--has made me think that unless a Ku band solution can be developed, we won't see anything like inexpensive broadband in the air via satellite and not outside the Americas. It's just too expensive. Mobile phone calls will travel over Inmarsat's links because of the potential high per-minute calling rate and the low bandwidth required relative to almost any purpose that requires the Internet. In the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, AirCell will likely be able to deliver a cost-effective air-to-ground broadband system. They pushed back their launch date from potentially late 2007 to early 2008 a few months ago. AirCell has a US spectrum license, but believes they can negotiate with the other countr ies involved for an extension into their territories, as Verizon AirFone did with their service. The costs for AirCell are enormously lower than they were for Connexion because no satellite leases are involved, and the equipment is substantially less. An article at CNN today mentions AirCell and Connexion when talking about Emirates Airlines expected January 2007 launch of in-flight mobile phone use via an onboard picocell. Emirates will use OnAir's system.... [more]

Gefen Announces UWB Products (Again)

A/V equipment maker Gefen says they'll ship several ultrawideband cable replacements in 2007 (release not yet on site): The company will ship the Wireless USB Extender, a four-port USB hub that connects via UWB to a USB dongle on a computer, for $249 in January. Of course, last January, they said, "Cable-free USB 2.0 extension is a reality for...Gefen...The unit...marks the initial release of UWB-enabled product for the US market." Ha, ha! Just kidding! We meant, January 2007! Last year's product, which they claimed to "showcase" at CES wasn't really shown. At Macworld Expo, a few days later, I asked Mr. Gefen himself for a demo, but they didn't even have a plastic brick as a prototype. Belkin had a plastic brick at their booth, but it had no innards. Both Belkin and Gefen had planned to be the early partners of Freescale, which now is apparently out of the UWB business, as far as the tea leaves suggest. (They still have this very slight page describing that part of their op erations.) UWB chipmaker Wisair, a member of the WiMedia Alliance, has developed the reference design from which Belkin and Gefen have derived their products. The device supports connections at up to 30 feet; Gefen promises 30 feet and a wall for coverage. It does require an AC power source, and all the associated USB devices plug into it. So it's hardly free of cables, but it's rid itself of a host-to-USB cable. With integrated UWB, every peripheral will have Certified Wireless USB built in, allowing each to be separately powered and located, rather than spoked off a hub. Belkin has been stating for several weeks that their Cable-Free USB Hub would be available Any Time Now. Most recently, they posted a press release on Dec. 4 stating that mid-December was the target date. As of today, the product isn't even listed on their site--not to mention available for purchase. They had the temerity to write this in that press release: "As the first UWB product to hit the U.S. market ..." A little premature, folks. (Their list price is $200; can Gefen sustain $250 on the basis of their brand?) Is this vaporware? Not quite. They're just all a bit too eager to push the releases out before the product has shipped. At CES, I believe several dozen USB products will be demonstrated, although almost none will be shipping. Perhaps none demonstrated will be shipping. But within a quarter or so, there should be a number of items actually available for purchase, probably at too high a price point except for certain markets and some early adopters. Compare $200 or $250 for this early UWB-with-UWB hub with $3.19 for a 15-foot USB cable. Gefen, by the way, has also said that they will have two somewhat more interesting UWB items later in 2007--wireless component audio and wireless HDMI extenders. HDMI sounds particularly useful, as it would be lovely to stop snaking cables behind television sets. It could also be extremely nice in situations where you'd like the TV se t mounted separately from the rest of a home-entertainment system. Update: Gizmodo has some more pricing details. The component audio extender apparently handles 1080i, which I don't get, given that 1080i is a video standard. It will cost $1,500 and reach 300 feet, line of sight, which is far beyond UWB standards. In fact, there is some concern that attempts to push the limits of UWB will run afoul of the principal of non-interference based on FCC rules. The wireless HDMI extender will use Tzero technology, spit 400 Mbps over 30 feet, and carry up to 1080i resolution for $500. There's also a VGA extender, Gizmodo reports.... [more]

Ma Bell Reunites

It's not quite a family reunion, but the new AT&T has had its buyout of BellSouth approved by the FCC in a 4-0 vote: The combined firm comprises a large fraction of the original AT&T, but with long-distance no longer a viable business, cell phone operators (including jointly owned Cingular) in fierce customer competition, and the future of broadband a monopoly and duopoly business--it's not your father's AT&T. The merger was approved with AT&T agreeing to a host of conditions, including net neutrality, the provision and sale of naked DSL lines, and the divestment of its 2.5 GHz frequency holdings. BellSouth will receive $86b in stock; the combined firms produce $117b in revenue and operation, serve 35m customers, and handle 68.7m phone lines in their territory. Verizon, Qwest, and Embarq (the spunoff division of Sprint) represent the vast majority of the rest of the old Bell infrastructure. One of the FCC's conditions will damper interest in metro-scale Wi-Fi in the combined AT&T/BellSouth territory: the company must offer new customers basic DSL for $10 a month for 30 months. AT&T has what has been a 12-month deal for $15 per month in its territory, but BellSouth has charged no less than $25 per month. At $10 per month, that sucks some of the life out of the use of Wi-Fi as a DSL or cable replacement for low-end wired broadband, and could affect dozens of cities' plans, and the ability for operators like EarthLink and MobilePro, which have contracts already in cities covered by the new AT&T. A couple of related conditions also could cause a hiccup in metro-scale Wi-Fi. The combined company must offer free broadband modems to those replacing AT&T and BellSouth dial-up services with broadband. Those modems are generally free-after-rebate today, and AT&T can charge more on its higher-tiered service to recover the modem cost. More significant, however, is the company's consent to offer broadband in every city in which it is the local phone company. Currently, that's a market-by-market policy with conditions sometimes negotiated by individual states. They can use alternates to wired broadband, such as satellite broadband, to cover as many as 15 percent of homes in the market. This could put AT&T in a position where it builds out more Wi-Fi (as it is doing now in Riverside, Calif., with MetroFi) or force them into a partnership with Sprint or Clearwire for rural mobile WiMax to fill any gaps. Sprint and Clearwire will certainly be chomping at whatever 2.5 GHz leases that AT&T has to sell. Sprint has said it would pass 100m people around its network launch next year; Clearwire said it has licenses that cover 200m people in the US. Licenses are not in great supply, and Sprint owns a huge percentage of the band. It's possible that the broadband condition might allow AT&T to broker a combination deal and sale with one of the two future mobile WiMax firms acting as the broadba nd provider for rural or less-served customers in AT&T markets. The FCC also requires that AT&T offer naked DSL--which will run 768 Kbps downstream for $20 per month--for 30 months after the merger is complete, allowing customers to have broadband without phone service bundled with it. Naked DSL is often used to provide VoIP. AT&T has also pledged to abide by network neutrality principles insofar as they won't discriminate in what traffic passes over their network. They had considered offering a fast tier of services that would throttle transfer speeds from Web sites and Internet services that hadn't paid AT&T fees for premium access. The approved merger means that Cingular has one daddy now (it's not a mommy, let me tell you), with 100-percent ownership in AT&T's hands. This may allow AT&T to integrate Cingular fully with its other offerings, providing a seamless quadruple play in its landline markets with fixed voice, mobile voice, data, and IPTV in one package. This might also allow Cingular to push faster on fixed-mobile convergence; they've already committed to IMS, but they could adopt interim steps to pick up more of the voice over IP and voice over Wi-Fi market.... [more]

New Simpy Firefox 2.0 Extension

New month has started, and here is a first bit of Firefox-related good news for Simpy users. Andu upgraded the existing Firefox extension to work with the newly released Firefox 2.0. The new extension version is 0.2, and you can get it directly from Andu, while we wait for it to get onto the official Mozilla Addons site. Thank you Andu!

By the way, you can see Andu's name on Simpy contributors page. If your name should be there, but it is not, please let me know. [more]

Backend Surgery Tonight

Tonight (in EST timezone), November 22, 2006, at yet undetermined time, Simpy will be down for maintenance and some backend surgery. The service will regain consciousness after the anesthesia wears off, which should be about an hour or two after it gets knocked out. [more]

Up Down Up Down Up Down Up - I Won!

The last week was a week from hell for Simpy. After a successful backend surgery, which included a performance fix and an upgrade of one of the backend component, Simpy was quickly able to take on more traffic than before. Not long after I was done patting myself on the back, I realized that something was awry with the service, but it took me a whole week to get to the bottom of it and fix it. This is why, if you visited Simpy last week, you might have caught Simpy being turned into a Gremlin.

Why am I sharing this? Because I would like to apologize for the past week's instability, and to let you know that the service is stable again. [more]

Revenue Giveaway Change

It has been nearly a year since Simpy started giving away 100% of the revenue made from some of the ads shown on its pages. If you missed the announcement, you should read Announcement: Simpy is Profitable. While the numbers are not as high as those in Web 2.0 Disruption, a solid number of Simpy users entered their Google AdSense IDs. The reason I decided to share and give this away to people is because I wanted to recognize the value that they and their bookmarks bring to Simpy. However, what if people who once entered their AdSense IDs leave and stop using Simpy? I feel it makes sense for Simpy to continue sharing revenue with people, as long as they actively keep sharing their bookmarks. With that in mind, I did a bit of looking and foun d that at the moment a little less than a quarter of users who entered their AdSense IDs are still actively using Simpy. Starting from the next Simpy release, the revenue will be shared only with those people who are still actively using Simpy. I think that's fair. I've had this change in mind for a while now, but just got around to making the appropriate modifications and posting this announcement now. It's called tying the lose ends as this year comes to its end. [more]

Windows Vista Capable PCs

Learn about choosing a Windows Vista Capable PC for the Windows Vista edition and features that are right for you. [more]

Windows Vista Makes Backup and Recovery Simple

Columnist Mitch Tulloch explains the new and improved backup and restore capabilities in Windows Vista. [more]

4 ways to control your e-mail inbox

Productivity expert Sally McGhee talks about 4 ways to help you process your e-mail more efficiently. [more]

Lessons learned: 7 tips for working on team Web sites

Productivity expert Sally McGhee gives 7 tips her company has learned in setting up and using their team Web site. [more]

How organized are you? Take our quiz to find out.

Are you as organized on your computer as you would like to be - from the way you access files and folders to the way you manage notes, e-mail, or your schedule? Find out. [more]

Configuring your Tablet PC for business success

Columnist Michael Linenberger shows how you can configure your Tablet PC to make the move from your desktop easy and productive, as well as conserve your battery. [more]

5 ways to save time during conference calls

Author and technology expert S.E. Slack shares tips on using Windows NetMeeting to make conference calls more productive. [more]

Timesaving tips for working with pictures

Learn easy ways to add impact to your reports, presentations, e-mail messages and more by including the right image. [more]

5 ways Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 helps you get more done

Learn to find what you need more quickly, eliminate printing mishaps, save time with better RSS feed support, and avoid being "phishing" bait. [more]

Sell your stuff on eBay

Getting set up to sell on eBay is quick and registration is free. But before you start auctioning off your unwanted goods, be sure you're aware of the fees for selling and of the potential risks involved in any e-commerce transaction. [more]

Erase objects from photos

You have a great photo of you and your significant other walking on a beach. The only problem is that every other couple in the area was walking on the beach with you and that's not the picture you really want. No problem-you simply remove the other people. [more]

Prepare your PC for back to school

Your back-to-school preparations should include reorganizing and cleaning up your PC. From purging unwanted files and basic hard-drive housekeeping to installing new software and identifying reliable sources of information, learn how to get your computer ready for the new school year. [more]

Read all about it—find books and excerpts online

If you like to read, see this list of popular book-related Web sites. Find out where to go to read books and book excerpts for free, plus the best sites for purchasing new, used, and rare books. [more]

Create a wine cellar with the help of your PC

Are you a wine lover? Get tips on how to create your own wine cellar with the help of your PC. Plus, find links to some great resources for wine shopping and learning. [more]

Go ahead, break your camera!

TipTalk columnist Robbin Young recently broke her digital camera. Learn how she chose a new one, and two good reasons why breaking your camera might not be so bad. [more]

Project kit: Craft custom calendars you can really use

Create useful and tasteful custom calendars on your computer. Tami Peterson Lewiski, author of Digital Decorating, shows you how easily it's done. [more]