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Lowell Heddings

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.

Reader Jeffrey wrote in with a problem – The New Contact Group button wasn’t showing up when he went into his Vista Contacts folder. After checking, I noticed I had the same exact problem.

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Ever since Windows Vista came out, I’ve been trying to figure out how to increase the size of the tiny Windows Vista taskbar preview windows. I’ve scoured the registry, used process monitor to try and find hidden registry keys, and looked at every setting I could find anywhere with no luck.

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In honor of hitting the 10k subscriber mark here at How-To Geek, I’ve decided to deviate from the normal how-to articles and write up a short list of the smaller geek sites I read the most frequently that you might not have heard of.

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If you’ve become addicted to using keyboard launchers like I have, you might have encountered the scenario where Katapult became extremely slow for no apparent reason. The problem is most likely because you’ve got a big music library in Amarok, and Katapult starts searching your music library by default after you type a single character.

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Most people familiar with Linux have used the top command line utility to see what process is taking the most CPU or memory. There’s a similar utility called htop that is much easier to use for normal tasks.

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So you’ve started using Katapult, but your distro doesn’t show the Katapult icon in the system tray by default. How do you get to the configure dialog? For that matter, how do you bring back the system tray icon?

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One of the greatest mysteries to me is why most file managers don’t have tabs - it makes performing tasks so much simpler. I’ve found a lightweight file manager for Ubuntu called PCMan that gives you most of the functionality from Nautilus, but also has tabs.

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If you’ve been experiencing the problem where you can’t add files to Windows Media Player’s library no matter what you do, then you probably have a corrupted database, and you’ll need to delete it and then re-add all of your media to the library.

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I recently set my Kubuntu box to use seamless Microsoft application integration so I can use Windows applications that look like they are natively running in Linux, although they are really running in a hidden virtual machine. Really a very sweet option, similar to running Parallels with Coherence on a Mac.

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Did you know that you can drag sidebar gadgets to the desktop, and then Close the sidebar? This tip might be obvious to many of you, but judging from all the emails I get on the subject, I felt that I should write an article about it anyway.

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One of the more irritating things about Windows Vista is that you can’t easily get to your Network Connections list – at least not without clicking through half a dozen links in the control panel. I’ve previously written about how to make a shortcut to the Network connections list, but how about just adding them to the built-in start menu search?

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Note: This is the first edition of the Geek Comic, which will be a weekly comic featuring the Geek and a number of other interesting characters. Subscribe to the RSS feed for the latest comic as well as your daily dose of How-To articles. Suggestions for new comics are welcome.

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Having switched from Ubuntu to Kubuntu recently, the first thing that irritated me beyond all reason was that single-clicking on a file or folder immediately opens the file instead of selecting it. Since I use Windows and Ubuntu on a daily basis, it’s just frustrating that it works differently in KDE.

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If you are a Firefox power user like I am, then you probably have dozens of tabs open all the time. After trying a number of different options, I’ve finally settled on using multiple rows of tabs as the best option.

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One of my friends contacted me a while back asking why the default setting in Outlook 2007 is to not mark items as read until you switch to a different email, which leaves the new mail notification sitting in the system tray even though you’ve clearly read the email.

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You have a directory full of log files that you want to import into Excel or a database so you can do some processing on them… but there are hundreds of files… how do you make them into a single file?

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If you receive an error saying “Tunepimp (MusicBrainz tagging library) returned the following error: “Fingerprinting of .mp3 files is not supported” when you are attempting to fill in the tags on your mp3 files using Amarok’s MusicBrainz plugin, then you’ve come to the right place.

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One of the best new features in Outlook 2007 is the To-Do bar, where you have quick access to your calendar as well as your task list. Unfortunately, the default setting of showing all of your tasks regardless of date can be overwhelming for anybody that has a lot of tasks, and just isn’t all that helpful.

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Ever since my friend Daniel educated me on the great “Open Resource” feature in Eclipse, I decided I needed the same feature in Visual Studio as well. After browsing around, I finally found a comparable plugin called VSFileFinder that will work in Visual Studio. It’s not quite as good, but it’s pretty decent.

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After becoming addicted to the new experimental Google Beta Shortcuts that let you navigate through results with your keyboard, it started to irritate me that I didn’t get to use the shortcut keys when I use a quick search in the Firefox address bar using the “?” keyword. Good thing it’s a very simple to change.

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So you’ve got MySQL on your web server, but it’s only opened to local ports by default for security reasons. If you want to access your database from a client tool like the MySQL Query Browser, normally you’d have to open up access from your local IP address… but that’s not nearly as secure.

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After a dozen times of accidentally sending a Word 2007 document to co-workers still stuck on Office 2003, I’ve decided to make Word save in the Word 2003 format by default. (you can do the same thing in Excel)

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When I need to perform a repetitive task such as checking my email or switching to an open IM window, the quickest option is to assign a hotkey directly to the window, so I can toggle the window minimized/restored with nothing more than a single keystroke.

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If you are like me, you’ve just gotten the news about the new Google Desktop client for Linux, and you are removing the current Beagle search for Ubuntu so you can replace it with Google instead.

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If you’ve been using the default movie player in Ubuntu to play videos, you might have noticed that there’s no way in the application to clear the recent history of watched movies. This could cause issues if you happened to open a video that you don’t want other people to see in your list.

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