2007.03.05  Automatic Windows XP Login

After downloading fixes from Windows Updates page or via Automatic Updates, you may notice that Windows XP no longer logs into your account automatically. This is usually caused after the installation of .NET Framework from Microsoft. It creates an additional user account called ASP.NET, which you can see in the Control Panel User Accounts applet. But, you neither need to remove this update nor delete this account.

Click Start, Run and type CONTROL USERPASSWORDS2, and click Ok. Select the user account from the list (the account to which you want to automatically logon). Uncheck Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer option, and click Ok. Type the user account password and complete the process.

For Windows XP Home, don't try to auto-login as the built-in Administrator, as you'll receive an error message.

2007.02.24  Speed up Windows Shut down

To increase the speed at which windows shuts down you can make an adjustment in the Windows Registry.  Change the WaitToKillServiceTimeout from 20000 to 5000 as shown below.  Go to 'Start" select "Run" then type 'regedit'.  When Regedit starts up open the tree as shown below.  click on Control to show the values on the left side of the screen.  Double click the WaitToKillServiceTimeout line and change the value in the window that opens up.  Click "OK".  Exit the Registry Editor.

2007.02.24: Lions and Tigers and Bears! O MY!

I recently ran across the following on the difference between spyware, adware, and viruses.  I've recreated it in it's entirety here in hopes that maybe it will help you understand your computer a little better.  Thanks to C/Net and Pete Z. from Los Angeles.

For what it's worth, spyware and viruses, while often lumped into one big category are, in fact, two ever so slightly different critters. It may seem like a matter of mincing words, but a virus, by definition, is something that causes harm to your computer--something that replaces program files, guaranteeing the virus runs every time you execute a program. Modern viruses tend to take over your computer to send out spam, launch denial of service attacks, and the like. They tend to make things run really, REALLY slow.

Spyware, on the other hand, by definition is a program that (as the name suggests) spies on you--it reads where you've visited on the Web, sending that information back to usually nefarious sources who use that information for whatever purpose.

Spyware's kissing cousin--adware--by definition, is a program that hijacks your Web browsing experience by serving up pop-up ads, redirecting you to Web sites that have nothing to do with where YOU want to go.

Now, here is where things get tricky. While Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee, Panda, AVG and most of the other big name antivirus people will generally agree on what a virus is - there is NO 100% consensus on what is spyware or adware.

A few years ago, a number of companies tried creating a consortium of sorts to come up with a general agreement on what actually constitutes spyware and adware. When one of the more notorious companies that actually created (and may still be creating more) spy/adware actually was allowed to join this consortium, it was like the wolf was among the sheep and the whole project pretty much failed. The lesson learned from this: People can be bought and the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

As it is now, it never hurts to have multiple solutions - i.e. spyware and adware killers - installed. Why? Because we're still at step 1 - defining what IS and what ISN'T spyware/adware. What one application (AdAware, for instance) considers spyware/adware, another might let slide entirely while the other program may find offense at an application that the first totally ignores. And the third might find something that the other two completely missed.

As far as Windows Live OneCare goes - the jury's still out. Sure, Microsoft has invested plenty in creating the product, but like any version 1.0 product, there are bound to be issues.

But then again, nothing IS perfect. There have been few issues with Symantec products in the past year - and it's been around for years. I'm sure, if someone wanted to be really annoying, they could find vulnerability in a basic "Hello World" program to exploit.

So, for what it's worth, it's probably not a bad idea to keep AdAware, Spybot and the SpywareBlaster around and run them regularly! Ok.. So the three of them might suck up maybe 100 MB of your hard drive, but disk space is cheap. At any rate, it's cheap insurance that's free for the most part.

But the key thing to remember is to RUN them periodically - once a week, at least or at the first sign that your computer is doing something funny or starting to run slower than usual. These apps will do you absolutely NO good just sitting on your hard drive unless you USE them.