Stories by Preston Gralla

Windows XP SP3 RC2 first look: Be prepared to be underwhelmed

If you've been waiting with bated breath for XP SP3, you can start breathing normally now. It changes so little in XP that you won't even notice it's there. But hidden and underneath the hood, as I'll explain, there are a few worthy changes.

The best Internet Explorer add-ins

A browser by itself is a poor thing, letting you browse the Web, but little else. To get the most out of the Web, you need add-ins that give your browser plenty of extra features.

Hands-on Vista SP1: Better but slower?

The final version of Vista SP1 focuses on under-the-hood improvements to reliability, security and performance, with very few changes made to the interface or Vista's features. Think of it as a giant, glorified set of patches and fixes rather than a clear and visible change to the operating system.

10 great free downloads for your network

Got a small network, home network, medium-size network -- even an enterprise network -- and want to get the most out of it? Then I've got good news for you: 10 free pieces of software that can make your network easier to use, troubleshoot and maintain. These freebies will help everyone from networking pros to networking newbies and everyone in between.

8 top tips for IE 7

Don't like the way Internet Explorer 7 looks or works? Then change it. There are plenty of ways you can hack it, tweak it or just make it simpler to use. In this article, you'll find out how to speed up IE's display of Web sites, build your own Search Bar engine, get control over how IE prints Web pages, navigate with several essential keyboard shortcuts and more. These tips work in both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Some of the tips are quite simple to perform, while others are more advanced. Some even require Registry hacks.

15 must-have Firefox tricks

What good is a browser unless you can tweak it, hack it and bend it to your will? No good at all. The more you can hack it, the better it is. And that means that Firefox must be a great browser. It's infinitely customizable, via editing a text file called userChrome.css, making changes via a command called about:config, and using free add-ons to extend the features of the browser.

First look: Office Live Workspace

Microsoft's Office Live Workspace, just released into beta, makes it easy for small businesses, workgroups and organizations to collaborate online and share documents. Even individuals who want to track projects and access documents from more than one PC will find it useful. It's a surprisingly sophisticated service, and although there remain rough edges and puzzling oversights (which may or may not be addressed in the commercial release), it's a very impressive piece of work, especially considering its price tag -- free for the moment.

Vista SP1 RC targets Vista's innards

The just-released Windows Vista SP1 Release Candidate (RC), like the previous beta, does more to improve the internal plumbing of Windows Vista than it does to make any major changes to the interface.

Review: The good, the bad and the ugly of Facebook apps

A little over a year ago, social networking site Facebook opened its doors to nonstudents, and since that time, businesspeople and the computer-savvy have flocked to it. A big reason for the site's allure is not just the number of people who use it, but also the thousands of applications on the site -- mini applets that use the power of social networking for everything imaginable.

The tweaker's guide to the Windows Registry

If you plan on tweaking any version of Windows, you're going to have to get friendly with the Windows Registry, a database of information that defines how your PC works, including every part of Windows and its applications and interface. Editing the Registry is often the best way to tweak Windows. In fact, it's the only way to make certain changes.

The ultimate tweaker's guide to Windows

Don't like the way Windows works? Who does?

Vista SP1 offers no features, focuses on tweaks, security

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), just delivered to a group of approximately 12,000 beta testers, offers no dramatic interface changes, nor does it add new features to the operating system. Instead SP1 focuses on improving performance, reliability and application compatibility, and it extends support to emerging hardware such as the exFAT file system that will be used by flash memory storage and consumer devices. However, SP1 does change the way Windows search works, allowing third-party programs such as Google Desktop Search to integrate more easily into the operating system.

Vista SP1 beta brings changes to search function

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), the beta of which was just released by Microsoft, is designed to improve Vista's performance, reliability and security. And even though Microsoft doesn't publicize the change, SP1 also alters the way Vista's search works, allowing you to substitute an alternate search tool of your own for the one built into Windows.

How to protect your wireless network

Bad guys don't target just big, corporate networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network at home or in a small office, intruders may be after you, such as casual "war drivers" who troll city streets, looking for unprotected wireless networks.

Sound off: Why you need wireless protection

If you've got a wireless network at home or at your business and don't take special care to protect it, well, you're playing Russian roulette -- and the chamber is loaded with multiple bullets.

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