[Problems and Fixes]Some things you Hate about Windows Vista and How to Fix them

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[Problems and Fixes]Some things you Hate about Windows Vista and How to Fix them

Post  Admin on Sat Aug 09, 2008 6:59 pm

A list of ten or so of the most aggravating things about Windows Vista, but also ways you can fix them.

1. I Can’t Stand Those Nagging Permission Screens
You can take either of two approaches to Vista’s nagging permission screens:

Microsoft’s preferred approach:
Before automatically clicking the Continue button, ask yourself this question: Did I initiate this action? If you deliberately asked your PC to do something, click Continue for the PC to carry out your command. But if the permission screen pops up unexpectedly, click Cancel, because something’s wrong.

The easy way out:
Turn off the permission screens. Unfortunately, that leaves your PC more susceptible to viruses, worms, spyware, and other evil things tossed at your PC during the course of the day.

Neither option is perfect, but that’s the choice that Microsoft’s given you with Vista: Listen to your PC nag you or turn off the nags and instead trust your own antivirus and antispyware programs. I recommend Microsoft’s preferred approach — it’s much like wearing a seatbelt when driving: It’s not as comfortable, but it’s safer. Ultimately, though, the choice lies with your own balance between comfort and safety.

Vista Keeps Asking Me for Permission!

When it came to security, Windows XP was fairly easy to figure out. If you owned an Administrator account — and most people did — Windows XP mostly stayed out of your face. Owners of the less powerful Limited and Guest accounts, however, frequently faced screens telling them that their actions were restricted to Administrator accounts. But with Vista, even Administrator accounts get the nag screens, and often for the most innocuous actions. Vista’s more secure than Windows XP, so you’ll constantly brush up against Vista’s barbed wire fence. Standard account holders see a slightly different message that commands them to fetch an Administrator account holder to type in a password.

Of course, with screens like this one popping up constantly, most people will simply ignore them and click Continue — even if that means they’ve just allowed a piece of spyware to latch onto their PC.

When Vista sends you a permission screen, ask yourself this question:
Is Vista asking permission for something I did? If your answer is yes, then click Continue to give Vista permission to carry out your command. But if Vista sends you a permission screen out of the blue, when you haven’t done anything, click Cancel. That keeps the nasties from invading your PC.

2. I Can’t Copy Ripped CDs and Purchased Music to My iPod

You won’t find the word “iPod” mentioned in Vista’s menus, help screens, or even in the Help areas of Microsoft’s Web site. Microsoft’s competitor, Apple, makes the tremendously popular iPod, and Microsoft’s ignoring it in the hopes it will go away.
What won’t go away, though, are the problems you’ll face if you ever try to
copy Media Player’s songs into an iPod. You face two hurdles:

a. Songs purchased from Media Player’s music store, URGE, only come in a copy-protected WMA (Windows Media Audio) format, and iPods can’t play them.
b. Songs copied from CDs with Media Player won’t play on your iPod, either. They’re also stored in a WMA format.

The second hurdle has a solution: Tell Media Player to convert your CD’s music to MP3 files, which any portable music player can play — even an iPod. Follow these steps to make the switch:
1. Open Media Player by clicking the Start menu, choosing All Programs, and choosing Windows Media Player.
2. Press Alt, choose Tools from the drop-down menu, and select Options.
3. Click the Rip Music tab and choose MP3 instead of Windows Media Audio in the Format drop-down menu.
4. Click OK to save your changes.

By ripping your music to the MP3 format, you’ll ensure that your library of ripped music will be compatible with any music player you buy now or in the future.

3. The Menus All Disappear
In Microsoft’s zeal for giving Vista a clean look, the programmers swept away the folder menus used for the past decade. To reveal a folder’s missing menus, press Alt. The menus appear, letting you choose the option you’re after.

To keep the menus from disappearing again, click the Organize button (shown in the margin), choose Layout, and choose Menu Bar from the pop-up menu.


4. Parental Controls Are Too Complicated

Vista’s new Parental Controls let you control exactly what your kid can and can’t do on the PC. (I explain the detailed options in Chapter 10.) But if you just want Vista to hand you a synopsis of what your kid’s been up to on the PC, follow these quick steps:

1. Click the Start button, click Control Panel, choose User Accounts and Family Safety, and choose Parental Controls.
The Parental Controls window appears, listing each account holder’s name.
2. Click the name of your child’s user account.
The Parental Controls Settings window appears, showing a list of buttons.
3. In the Parental Controls section, click On, Enforce Current Settings.
4. In the Activity Reporting section, click On, Collect Information about Computer Usage.
5. Click the OK button.

Each week or so, check out your child’s activity report by following Steps 1 and 2 in the preceding steps, but, in Step 3, choose View Activity Reports. There, Vista shows you a quick, one-page synopsis of what your kid’s been up to on the Net.

To zero in on suspicious areas, click your child’s Account Activity area in the task pane along the left. It’s all there: names of people sending and receiving your child’s e-mail and instant messages, the songs and videos played, the Web sites visited, names of any downloaded programs, log-on and log-off times, the number of hours spent at the keyboard, and similar information.

5. The “Glass” Effects Slow Down My Laptop


One of Vista’s much touted special effects, Aero Glass, may be too special to be practical. Aero Glass lets you see bits and pieces of your desktop in each window’s frame. The effects also let some programs, like Vista’s chess game, “float” in the air, letting you watch the game from all angles. But the calculations required for those visual gymnastics slow down PCs that don’t have high-powered graphics — and that includes many of the current crop of laptops. With Aero Glass, Windows XP’s once snappy Freecell may crawl across the screen of your laptop.

Even worse, it may drain your batteries to a fraction of their battery life. If you don’t like the extra burden Aero Glass dumps on your PC, turn it off by following these steps:

1. Right-click a blank part of your desktop and choose Personalize to summon the Control Panel.
2. Choose Window Color and Appearance.
If you spot the words Open Classic Appearance Properties For More Color Options, click them. Otherwise, move to Step 3.
3. Choose Windows Vista Basic as the Color Scheme and click OK.

If that’s still too slow, try choosing Windows Standard or even Windows Classic in Step 3.

To turn Aero Glass back on for impressing your friends, follow the first two steps in the preceding list, but choose Windows Aero in Step 3.

If Vista’s still not snappy enough, right-click Computer on the Start menu, choose Properties, and select Advanced System Settings from the task pane on the left. Click the Settings button in the Performance section, choose Adjust for Best Performance, and click OK.

6. I Can’t Figure Out How to Turn Off My PC

Windows XP’s Start button offered a convenient Turn Off Computer button. Vista, by contrast, places two buttons in that convenient spot, and neither one turns off your PC. The one on the left puts your PC in a “low power state,” and the other quickly password protects your account when you walk away for a short period.

To turn off your PC, click the arrow on the right of the two buttons and choose Shut Down. To transform the left button (shown in the margin) into a simple On/Off switch, follow these steps:

1. Click the Start button, choose Control Panel, choose System and Maintenance, and choose Power Options.
2. In the task pane along the left, click Choose What the Power Buttons Do.
3. Select Shut Down from the Power Button’s pull-down menu, and click Save Changes.

7. Windows Makes Me Log On All the Time

Windows offers two ways to return to life from its swirling and churning screen saver. Windows can return you to the opening screen, where you must log back on to your user account. Alternatively, Windows Vista can simply return you to the program you were using when the screen saver kicked in.

Some people prefer the security of the opening screen. If the screen saver kicks in when they’re spending too much time at the water cooler, they’re protected: Nobody can walk over and snoop through their e-mail. Other people don’t need that extra security, and they simply want to return to work quickly. Here’s how to accommodate either camp:

1. Right-click a blank part of your desktop and choose Personalize.
2. Click Screen Saver.
Windows Vista shows the screen saver options, including whether or not Windows should wake up at the opening screen.
3. Depending on your preference, remove or add the check mark from the On Resume, Display Logon Screen box.
If the box is checked, Windows Vista is more secure. The screen saver wakes up at Vista’s opening screen, and users must log on to their user accounts before using the computer.
If the box isn’t checked, Windows Vista is more easygoing, waking up from the screen saver in the same place where you stopped working.
4. Click the OK button to save your changes.

If you don’t ever want to see the opening screen, then use a single user account without a password. That defeats all the security offered by the user account system, but it’s more convenient if you live alone.

8. The Taskbar Keeps Disappearing

The taskbar is a handy Windows Vista feature that usually squats along the bottom of your screen. Sometimes, unfortunately, it up and wanders off into the woods. Here are a few ways to track it down and bring it home. If your taskbar suddenly clings to the side of your desktop — or even the roof — try dragging it down: Instead of dragging an edge, drag the taskbar from its middle; as your mouse pointer reaches your desktop’s bottom edge, the taskbar will suddenly snap back into place. Let go of the mouse, and you’ve recaptured it.
Follow these tips to prevent your taskbar from wandering:

To keep the taskbar locked into place so that it won’t float away, rightclick the taskbar and select Lock the Taskbar. Remember, though, that before you can make any changes to the taskbar, you must first unlock it.

If your taskbar drops from sight whenever the mouse pointer doesn’t hover nearby, turn off the taskbar’s Auto Hide feature: Right-click a blank part of the taskbar and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. When the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box appears, click to remove the check mark from the Auto-Hide box on the Taskbar tab.
(Or, to turn on the Auto Hide feature, add the check mark.)

While you’re in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, make sure that a check mark appears in the Keep the Taskbar on Top of Other Windows check box. That way, the taskbar always rides visibly on the desktop, making it much easier to spot.

9. I Can’t Keep Track of Open Windows
You don’t have to keep track of all those open windows. Windows Vista does it for you with a secret key combination: Hold the Alt key and press the Tab key, and the little bar appears, displaying the icons for all your open windows. Keep pressing Tab; when Windows highlights the icon of the window you’re after, release the keys. The window pops up.

Or, if your PC has powerful enough graphics, click the Flip 3D button (shown in the margin) next to the Start button. Vista “floats” all the open windows onscreen. Click the window you want to bring to the forefront. Or, flip through them all by pressing Tab or your keyboard’s arrow keys.

Or, use the taskbar, that long strip along the bottom of your screen. Covered in Chapter 2, the taskbar lists the name of every open window. Click the name of the window you want, and that window hops to the top of the pile.

10. I Can’t Line Up Two Windows on the Screen

With all its cut-and-paste stuff, Windows Vista makes it easy for you to grab
information from one program and slap it into another. With its drag-and-drop
stuff, you can grab an address from a contact’s address card and drag it into a letter in your word processor.

The hardest part of Windows Vista is lining up two windows on the screen, side by side, to make for easy dragging. That’s when you need to call in the taskbar. First, open the two windows and place them anywhere on the screen. Then turn all the other windows into icons by clicking their Minimize button

Now, right-click a blank area of the taskbar and then choose either Show Windows Stacked or Show Windows Side By Side. The two windows line up on the screen perfectly. Try both to see which meets your current needs.

11. It Won’t Let Me Do Something Unless I’m an Administrator!

Windows Vista gets really picky about who gets to do what on your computer. The computer’s owner gets the Administrator account. And the administrator usually gives everybody else a Standard account. What does that mean? Well, only the administrator can do these things on the computer:

a. Install programs and hardware.
b. Create or change accounts for other users.
c. Install some hardware, like some digital cameras and MP3 players.
d. Read everybody else’s files.

People with Standard accounts, by nature, are limited to fairly basic activities.
They can do these things:
a. Run installed programs.
b. Change their account’s picture and password.

Guest accounts are meant for the babysitter or visitors who don’t permanently use the computer. If you have a broadband or other “always on” Internet account, guests can browse the Internet, run programs, or check their e-mail. If Windows says only an administrator may do something on your PC, you have two choices: Find an administrator to type his password, authorizing the action; or convince an administrator to upgrade your account to an Administrator account.

12. My Print Screen Key Doesn’t Work


Windows Vista takes over the Print Screen key (labeled PrtSc, PrtScr, or
something even more supernatural on some keyboards). Instead of sending the stuff on the screen to the printer, the Print Screen key sends it to Windows Vista’s memory, where you can paste it into other windows.

If you hold the Alt key while pressing the Print Screen key, Windows Vista sends a picture of the current window — not the entire screen — to the Clipboard for pasting.

If you really want a printout of the screen, press the Print Screen button to
send a picture of the screen to its memory. (It won’t look like anything has
happened.) Then click Start, choose All Programs, select Accessories, open
Paint, and choose Paste from the Edit menu. When your picture appears, choose Print from the File menu to send it to the printer.

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