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Mysticgeek

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

Since I gave up iTunes and went to Foobar2000; I have also decided to research other portable mp3 players as well.  I ended up purchasing a Creative Zen V Plus.  I have always been a fan of Creative products and this little guy does not disappoint.  I have the 4GB model which allows me to store enough music and podcasts for trips and long walks.

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SpywareBlaster is a great freeware utility to add to your arsenal to combat evilness on the Internet.  SpywareBlaster is a shield against harmful malicious software that can cause problems with your PC.  While nothing is 100% effective … using this light utility and keeping Spybot Search and Destroy’s Immunization Database current will protect you very well.

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If you’re a guitar player practicing with a metronome is very important in improving your timing and rhythm.  If you don’t own one or do not always carry it with you, emusicinstitute.com has a very cool free online Metronome you can use.   Just make sure your speakers are hooked up and your off to practice land.

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This will liven up your week a bit.  You may be thinking… “oh another web browser … big deal”.  Well, Opera has a lot of interesting features to play with.  Right now I don’t see it replacing Firefox by any means, but it is a fun toy none the less.  The people in the opening install screen are having fun!  What more evidence do you need???  Let me show you.

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Thanks to The Geek’s bounty program we now have an incredibly useful application to increase the Taskbar Preview Pane in Vista.  But what if you don’t like the preview panes?  To keep everything fair and balanced I will show you how to disable the panes entirely.

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Throughout my years of working IT I have come across some very unique user setups in Outlook.  Some users will tweak every thing to the point it is barely useable, at least if you’re not familiar with how they set it up.  If you need to use a co workers computer or a “spare’ while you’re waiting on IT to fix your machine, here is an easy way to at least get the reading pane familiar.

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Collecting responses from a group of people is something very common in an office environment. Whether you are trying to ask what type of pizza to order for a meeting, or taking a vote on who’s going to quit next, what you need is a poll.

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Most of you who are running Vista should know by now that Microsoft introduced major updates for Vista.  For a full detailed summary of what is included read The Geek wrote a great article reviewing the updates.  One of the updates includes better Vista Aero performance with NVIDIA graphics cards. 

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Technology in our world is constantly evolving at an incredibly rapid rate.  The consensus in the IT industry is to stay ahead of the curve.  If you misstep the IT bus leaves you behind with the Pentium II’s.  It leaves  you stuck, trying to achieve the unachievable… stuck in a horrifying downward spiral… a desolate void… or a classic?

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I personally cannot stand the “bread crumb” toolbar Microsoft makes us use as a default.  I really wish this was an option to enable or disable.  I see a lot of praise for this new feature with people saying “it makes navigation extremely fast” … Am I alone here?  Am I the only one who sees no benefit to this?  When i am navigating an OS I get there via a straight line .. I have no reason to go back somewhere else along the journey.  I am a proponent of shortcuts for frequently used paths.  When I want to view the traditional path of a certain location, it actually requires an additional mouse click!  How is this more efficient?  How does that speed things up? 

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In a previous article we showed you how to quickly clean out your inbox.  Here we will show you how to have more control over what is kept and what is not.  Let’s look at a way to archive the older items so your inbox is not so cluttered up.

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A very cool utility to analyze and keep track of everything running on your computer during startup is Autoruns.  This handy little utility displays everything running on your computer when you start up.  Sure you can use the built in utility in Windows “msconfig” however your not getting the full picture with msconfig.  Autoruns on the other hand will go through and list everything running and the order in which it start up!  Here I will show you the difference between MSCONGIG and the Autoruns program on a computer running Windows Vista.

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I am starting a new Sunday feature where I will post something cool for you to keep on hand so your Monday doesn’t suck.  For lack of a better title the feature is called “Make Monday Not Suck”  I am going to feature something to do on your PC while at work.  So when the boss is breathing down your neck about statistics and the usually “blah… blah”  you can forget about it and relax with cool games or tricks i will feature to take your mind off your case of “The Mondays”.

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One of my hugest pet peeves is the Language bar.

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This week I had the opportunity to check out Microsoft’s System Center Essentials (SEC) 2007.  I thought I would share this with all of our IT geek’s out there.

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Here is how to manage basic Windows Home Server settings.  Screen shots speak for themselves so here we go!

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Windows Home Server is still in beta stage but when it is officially released we will have all the information you will need to effectively manage your home server.  Here is a quick tutorial on how to add a new user to your home server.

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Here is a quick tip to add some extra flair to paragraphs in your Word 2007 documents to help them stand out.

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Call them what you want Gadgets, Widgets, Gizmo’s … but what they are is stupid.  I have not found a single gadget that is anything but annoying.  None of these little eye candy toys do a thing to enhance my computing experience.  On the contrary, they annoy me and eat up valuable computer resources that could be spent on more productive computing.  When I first installed Vista I think I played with it for 5 minutes then got bored. 

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If you are using a router in your home network it is very important to keep your firmware updated.  Firmware is software which is embedded into your router’s hardware.  Since a majority of people own Linksys wired or wireless routers, I will show the steps on Linksys WRT54GS.  Depending upon the brand of router you own the steps will vary but the process is basically the same. 

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You do not have to settle for MTV’s Urge music store when using Windows Media Player 11.  In fact you have a several stores you can choose from.  The list of stores include Napster, emusic, puretracks and others.  You also can use video download stores also such as MovieLink. 

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A lot of times people at the workplace try creative ways to claim ignorance about important matters…  Excuses like “I didn’t get your email” is one that seems to come to mind.  In Outlook 2007 you can easily resend the message in question.

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I don’t know about you but anytime I have to use a CRT monitor anymore I just cringe. Yes there are still high quality CRT monitors out there, but they are such dinosaurs. CRT’s are so huge, clunky, and in the way. I am a huge fan of saving space in my computing work area and flat screens certainly accomplish that. Not to mention the other important benefit of LCD monitors which is power consumption.

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I have just started to play around with Access 2007 and so far my thoughts are indifferent. I am not sure how well the “Ribbon” is going to play out. I work in Access Databases a lot with my job and I am pretty comfortable with the way things have been. I have gotten used to the Ribbon in Word, Excel, and Outlook. In fact it seems to make those tasks more fun. I have been really holding off on Access though.

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Today a reader had a very good question about lsass.exe is the Microsoft security management process for domain access and local security policies.  Simply put it manages who logs on to your PC and/or Server.  There are a few viruses that mimic this process.  The Sasser virus was one of the more popular attacks a few years ago.  The Sasser worm would exploit lsass.exe so that XP would start a countdown of 60 seconds advising you to save your work.  Every time you rebooted your machine this would keep happening.  This process is located in C:WindowsSystem32 in either a PC or Server.  If you were to find it in any other location in your system … it is a virus.   

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