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?
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.
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.
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.
Unwanted Icons From Your System Tray
it? The systemtray fills with junk and half of it is surely useless.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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
Menus Moving Like
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Play Big Sounds the Mini Way
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 '127.0.0.1 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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
All Screwed Up
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.