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Annoying isn't it? I spend an hour filling in a lengthy form on a Web page only to be told after I submit it that it's missing an item. My fault, sure, but when I hit my browser's back button--zap!--everything's gone. Now I have to start from scratch. Annoying?
Overcome it: Instead of growling, fix your browser's cache settings to hold on to the information. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, Internet Options, select the General tab, choose Settings, and then check Every time you start Internet Explorer. In Netscape, click Edit, Preferences, double-click Advanced, and click Cache. Set the memory cache to at least 1024KB, and the disk cache to a minimum of 7680KB. Then clear both caches. Note that you may have to click your browser's refresh button to see a revisited page's dynamic data.

RealOne Running Amok

Annoying isn't it? Iirritating RealNetworks' RealOne Player. It's infuriating how RealOne salts my PC with desktop icons and browser links. The program also lights my fuse when it offers me confusing choices for audio and video file associations.
Overcome it: If you're installing RealOne from scratch, pay close attention to each screen. Always choose a custom installation to see more options. On the Program Location and Desktop Settings screen, uncheck the locations you think are nonessential. I unchecked all of them; I knew that a RealOne icon would end up in my Start menu anyway. At the Default Media Player screen, choose Customize, scroll through the choices, and carefully select which of the 14 audio and video file types you want to associate with RealOne. Already have RealOne (or RealPlayer) on your PC? Dump all of the program's icons except the one you use most often, such as the one on your desktop. Next, remove the RealOne shortcut from your system tray. (You don't need it, since the player loads automatically whenever you open an associated file.) Remove Unwanted Icons From Your System Tray" for more help.

Annoying isn't it? The systemtray fills with junk and half of it is surely useless.
Overcome it: Msconfig to the Rescue. Microsoft provides tools to tweak your system tray, but they rarely tell you about these gems. To check what programs Windows loads at start-up, select Start, Run, type msconfig, and click the Startup tab. My rule? Uncheck an item, and if problems occur, open Startup and check it again. But whatever you do, never uncheck the TaskMonitor, Explorer, or SystemTray items in this list--Windows needs them to work properly

PDF Blues

Annoying isn't it? I just hate it when I try to read a Portable Document Format file on a Web page, and Adobe Acrobat Reader 5 insists on opening right in my browser. On top of that, a small Acrobat applet loads into memory, taking up system resources. Still more grating, that applet doesn't unload when I close the reader.
Overcome it: It's simpler, more efficient, and just as fast to open Acrobat Reader separately. First, launch the reader from your Start menu, select Edit, Preferences, choose Options, and uncheck Display PDF in Browser. Now when you select a PDF file while browsing, you'll see a File Download box. The reader starts automatically when you choose 'Open'. On the other hand, if you use the reader integrated with your browser, you can unload the applet after closing your browser by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete, choosing Acrord32, and clicking End Task. In Windows XP and Windows 2000, choose the Processes tab in Task Manager; then select AcroRd32.exe and click End Process

Dialog-Box Dilemmas

Annoying isn't it? It bugs me no end that every Microsoft program automatically tries to save every file I create in the My Documents folder. I never use that folder and I never will, except by accident. It's also the last place I'd think to look for a file I've misplaced. Another thing: Microsoft Office apps don't let me add or remove items from the left panel of the Open and Save dialog boxes, so I'm stuck with the History, My Documents, Favorites, and My Network Places shortcuts there.
Overcome it: There may be no cure for the My Documents dumbness, but I stopped the aggrevation by using utilities to make dialog boxes work my way. Start with FileBox EXtender, a $20 utility that adds two buttons to file-open and file-save dialog boxes that show your favorites and recent folders. The program also makes many unresizable Windows file dialog boxes larger. If you use Windows XP, grab a free copy of Tweak UI: It permits you to add up to five favorites to Common Dialog box panels. Just choose Common Dialogs, click Custom places bar, and select an option from each drop-down menu.

Autocomplete Overload

Annoying isn't it? I do like the way Internet Explorer's AutoComplete stores what I type into Web address fields and forms. Not familiar with it? Instead of entering the same things repeatedly, I just double-click a field to bring up a history of entries. What's nettlesome is having to wade through a long list of ancient entries.
Overcome it: When I see an entry I rarely use, I select it and press Delete. Now and then I do major housecleaning and dump the entire list of Web-form entries. Open IE, click Tools, Internet Options, select the Content tab, choose AutoComplete, and then click the Clear Forms button.

PC Noise Pollution

Annoying isn't it? PCs are way too loud. Their hard disks grind, their fans whine, and their cases clatter. Bothersome? Yes. Insurmountable? No way.
Overcome it: You can reduce the noise with a few simple tweaks. First, turn your PC off, remove the case cover, turn the system back on, and use a car mechanic's stethoscope--or just a paper-towel tube--to isolate the noise source (don't forget to turn your PC off and put the case cover back on when you're done). If your hard drive chatters, make sure the screws attaching it to the PC case are tight, and examine the bracket holding the drive to confirm that it's tightly connected to the PC. Check the gap around the case cover for vibrations; if you detect any, wedge in a piece of cardboard or use sealing foam. If you're careful, you can lubricate the cooling fans by removing the sticker covering the lube hole and dripping one drop of oil into the hole. Wipe off any excess oil and then either reapply the sticker or replace it with tape.

Show Me the Menu

Annoying isn't it? Office 2000 and Office XP insist on hiding menu options that I haven't used for a while. They call it a feature. I call it a pain. I want to see all my menu options without waiting or making an extra click.
Overcome it: 'Custom' menus are the default in Office; but once you change this setting in one Office app, it affects every other installed Office program in one fell swoop. In Word, click any empty spot on the toolbar, choose Customize, Options, and check Always show full menus. Voilą: No more ą la carte Office menus.

Dynamically Dumb XP Menus

Annoying isn't it? First Windows XP hides infrequently used icons in the system tray, then it adds program shortcuts to my Start menu's left pane.
Overcome it: Take charge of your system tray icons: Right-click the Start button and choose Properties, select the Taskbar tab, and uncheck Hide inactive icons. Or decide for yourself which system tray icons you want to see and which you want out of the way: Leave Hide inactive icons checked, click Customize, and then choose each icon one at a time and set its Behavior to Always show, Always hide, or Hide when inactive. If you don't want XP to add items to its Start menu list of frequently used programs, reopen your Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box, choose the Start Menu tab, click Customize, and set 'Number of programs on Start menu' to a figure of your choosing

Menus Moving Like Snails

Annoying isn't it? I'm primed for a fast PC experience: I have a speedy 1-GHz processor with 512MB of RAM on my XP system. But here I am, tapping my fingers, watching menus fade interminably into existence.
Overcome it: You want sharp, crisply appearing menus? In Windows 98 and Me, right-click the desktop, choose Properties, and select the Effects tab. With one monumental click of the mouse, uncheck that confounded Use transition effects for menus and tooltips option. In Windows XP, right-click the desktop, choose Properties, click the Appearance tab, and then Effects. Now uncheck Use the following transition effect for menus and tooltips. Feels better, no?

Foggy Clear Type Settings

Annoying isn't it? I have a new Lap Top with XP and looked forward to seeing crisp, sharp fonts on the screen. But nope, XP just ignored my hardware and forced me to dig around to find my LCD's type-display settings on my own. The same on a PC with LCD display.
Overcome it: As XP won't do it for us, we'll have to do it ourselves: Right-click anywhere on the desktop, choose Properties, select the Appearance tab, and click the Effects button. Make sure that the 'Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts' option is checked, and choose ClearType from the drop-down menu. If you would like to do even more fiddling around with your ClearType settings, grab a free copy of ClearTweak

I've Been Setup Again

Annoying isn't it? When I download a program or an upgrade, the last thing I want the file named is 'setup.exe' or 'install'. Because I don't always install the program right away, I may lose track of it. Worse, other downloads invariably have the same name, making it even harder to figure out which is which. What a pain.
Overcome it: I have a seperate folder Download with subfolders like tweak, than I simply rename the file in the Save As dialog box before I download it, using the program's name and version.

Image Resizing the IE 6 Way

Annoying isn't it? Internet Explorer 6 has an irksome way of handling large or odd-size images: It resizes the image to fit the screen. I prefer viewing an accurate rendition. (Yes, even if I have to use the scroll bars to see the whole enchilada.)
Overcome it: Don't stand for this interference. Open IE and choose Tools, Internet Options. Select the Advanced tab, scroll down to the Multimedia options, and uncheck Enable Automatic Image Resizing.

Right Place, Wrong Time

Annoying isn't it? Some people never check their PC's clock to see if the time and date are accurate. My e-mail program sorts incoming messages by date, so their messages get lost among the old ones I haven't yet deleted from my in-box.
Overcome it: If you use Windows XP, first double-click the time in your system tray (it's just to the right of the taskbar). Next, select Internet Time and then check Automatically synchronize with an Internet Time Server. Choose time.nist.gov from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, if you use Windows 98, Me, or 2000, you can solve your timing dilemma by downloading the free Atomic Clock utility, which keeps your PC synchronized and up-to-date with the exact time.

Hyperlinks From Hell

Annoying isn't it? When I'm writing in Word or WordPerfect and I type a URL or e-mail address, the program automatically creates a hyperlink. I know many people like this feature, but I wish the default was not to create a hyperlink.
Overcome it: In Word, click Format, AutoFormat and choose the Options button. Under Replace, uncheck Internet and network paths with hyperlinks. Click OK and then Cancel (unless you would like to autoformat the document). In WordPerfect, click Tools, QuickCorrect, select the SpeedLinks tab, and then uncheck Format words as hyperlinks when you type them.

Fix Your Font Size

Annoying isn't it? It drives me nuts when every other Web page I visit has a different font size: One's too small, and the next one's too big.
Overcome it: In Internet Explorer, select Tools, Internet Options, choose the General tab, click the Accessibility button, and check Ignore font sizes specified on Web pages (the wording varies depending on your IE version). In Netscape 6 and 7, choose Edit, Preferences, select Fonts (double-click Appearance if you don't see 'Fonts' listed), and then either check Use my default fonts or uncheck Allow documents to use other fonts, depending on your version (the wording of these choices also varies). Web developers take note !

Annoying isn't it? Winamp, Windows Media Player, and all the other media players I've tried are behemoths. All I really want to do is play some soothing music while I work and not feel overwhelmed with features, gaudy skins, and razzle-dazzle visualizations flashing in my face.
Overcome it: I canned the bells and whistles with Chime's TrayPlay, a tiny player with no superfluous features. It has all the controls I need, including random play and volume. TrayPlay's a freebie that parks itself in my system tray, so it doesn't take up space on my taskbar.

Reclaim Your IE Home Page

Annoying isn't it? Could some Microsofty (other than a representative from the marketing department) please tell me why every time I upgrade Internet Explorer, it changes my home page to MSN and adds a half-dozen new items to my Links bar? I'm never going to join, and I'm not going to follow those links. Ever.
Overcome it: Luckily, changing the home page back to my choice is easy. Navigate to the page, choose Tools, Internet Options, and click Use Current in the 'Home page' area under the General tab. (By the way, you can thwart home-page interlopers by clicking Use Blank.) The added links? Just right-click them and choose Delete.

Speed-Ups That Drag You Down

Annoying isn't it? I get, weel annoyed, whenever I try a Web accelerator program that actually slows me down or stops me from visiting some pages. Then I have to take hours to track down why it happens.
Overcome it: The problem is that a domain's IP address tends to change over time. If you don't regularly update your speed-up utility, the out-of-date address mappings listed in the Hosts file prevent access to the domain. Meanwhile, the DNS server continues to handle domains not listed in Hosts, which explains why you can get to some sites but not to others. Remedying the problem is easy: Search your hard disk (using Start, Find or Start, Search) for a file called 'hosts' (don't enter an extension). The only entry not starting with '#' should be ' localhost'; if there are other lines without '#', delete them. Or if you want to avoid editing the file, rename it something like 'hosts.bak', forget about it or just delete it.

Invasion of the Icons

Annoying isn't it? Why in the world do some programs bombard my PC with icons? One on the Start menu, another on the taskbar, and a third plopped onto my desktop? One's plenty, and where it goes should be my choice. Also, it may be a beautiful day in the Network Neighborhood (aka My Network Places), but why does Windows make it impossible to delete that icon, as well as those for Internet Explorer and Outlook, from my desktop?
Overcome it: I usually breeze through the installation routine of the programs I load on my PC, but watching it more closely is smart. Some programs are actually polite and ask you about icon placement. If yours aren't, think shortcuts--that's all most icons are, and it's okay to blast any icon with a shortcut arrow into the Recycle Bin. The Windows icons? Blow them away with Tweak UI. Bonus tip: To make your desktop an icon-free zone, right-click it, choose Arrange Icons by (in Windows XP) or Active Desktop (in Windows Me and 2000), and uncheck Show Desktop Icons. Note that 'Show Web Content' must be checked. In Windows 98, right-click the desktop and choose Active Desktop, View As Web Page. Then click Properties, select the Effects tab, and check Hide icons when the desktop is viewed as a Web page. Don't worry: You can still get fast access to your desktop shorcuts. Right-click an empty spot on the taskbar and choose Toolbars, Desktop ( Toolbars, New Toolbars... in Windows 98). Now maximize your taskbar space by dragging the new toolbar's title, Desktop, to the right until only it and the double-greater-than sign are showing. Click the chevrons to have your desktop shortcuts appear in a pop-up menu.

Stubborn System Restore Points

Annoying isn't it? Maybe it's me, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why Windows makes it so hard to delete old System Restore points on my PC.
Overcome it: In Windows Me and XP, open My Computer, right-click your C: drive, select Properties, and click the Disk Cleanup button. When the dialog box appears, click its More Options tab and get rid of old, space-hogging restore points by clicking the Clean up button under System Restore.

Return Receipts Rankle

Annoying isn't it? People who try to slip a return receipt request into e-mail they send me. Like they think I won't read it otherwise? I give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they don't realize return receipts are a breach of e-mail etiquette.
Overcome it: I reject the request and tell the writer how to turn the feature off. If you compose e-mail in Eudora, just don't click the Return Receipt button on the toolbar. In Outlook, click Tools, Options, choose the Preferences tab, select E-mail Options, and then click Tracking Options. Make sure Request a read receipt for all messages I send is unchecked. If you use Outlook Express 6, click Tools, Options, choose the Receipts tab, and make sure Request a return receipt for all sent messages is unchecked. If you want to keep your e-mail reading habits to yourself, check Never send a response in Outlook, or Never send a read receipt in OE.

All Screwed Up

Annoying isn't it? A friend called. "I can't open my Compaq PC to add a network card" he boomed. "The screws look like little rivets, and I don't have a screwdriver that fits."
Overcome it: Compaq and other PC manufacturers seem to take delight in bewildering their customers by using Torx screws that have six shallow flanges, unlike the four on traditional Phillips screws. If you need to open the case, you have to buy a Torx T-9 screwdriver, which is available at most hardware stores.

Lost DSL/Cable Connections

Annoying isn't it? At a customer I spend a couple of frustrating hours trying to figure out why his DSL connection can't access the Internet. I check all connections with utility programs, reconfigured pop-up and ad blockers, fiddled with Windows' TCP/IP settings, and call tech support. Still nothing.
Overcome it: After a long and wet pub-lunch inspiration struck. A simple, 2-minute reboot of the DSL (or cable modem) was all took to get them back online. The mystery is why there isn't a diagnostic tool that can tell you it's time to reset your Internet access device.

Cramped IE Windows

Annoying isn't it? Who decided that Internet Explorer's new browser windows should open to the same small size, even though I used to always maximize my browser windows before I close them? You'd think the program would remember and open the new window in the same state as the last one I closed.
Overcome it: Here's his solution in a nutshell: When you want to open a link on a Web page in a new, full-size window, don't right-click it and choose 'Open in New Browser Window' ('Open Link...' in Windows 98). Instead, click your IE shortcut to open another full-size browser window, then go back to the first window and click the link. The page will open in the second window as big as life.


Some of the DDT's (dont do that) there is nothing to do about except maybe complain to the Bill's of the world when they are speaking in a village hall near you.

Whenever my system freezes and I have to reboot my PC, Windows paternally tells me as it's reloading that I shouldn't have turned it off without exiting correctly. Well, fine, here is the deal: I won't do unauthorized restarts if you won't crash.

Stop fleecing me: If you run a small business, a government agency, or a corporation, Microsoft happily gives you a discount on Windows XP, Office, and many other products by way of a site license. The company will also gladly give a price break to students. But if your family has more than one PC (an increasingly common circumstance), you're stuck buying a separate copy of the programs for each machine.

Error messages rarely tell us anything. And what in the world does Windows 98's notorious 'You have performed an illegal operation and the system will shut down' error message mean? Hey, I never perform an illegal anything.

Programs that automatically (and arrogantly) install themselves in my Startup group without my permission make my cross. Worse are the dunderheads that place components in a hidden spot in the Registry, making it even tougher to find and eradicate them.

Windows 2000 and XP do one thing right (yes). All the important data is in the Documents and Settings folder, making regular backups a breeze. Then they muck it up by filling the folder with temporary and cache files, along with other junk that I have no desire to back up.

Why do vendors treat drivers as an afterthought? Microsoft's solution is to scare the living daylights out of us when we install an uncertified driver.

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