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volume 10 number 2 february 2005 TipSheet

Welcome to the February issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll continue a series of tips on Stopping Aggravations, from a recent issue of PC World.


If you don't need complex software suites with dozens of features you never plan to use, why buy them in the first place? Many free applications do the job without complications like product activation or digital rights management schemes. Here are a few.

INSTEAD OF Microsoft Office you could use OpenOffice and save yourself $300, 200MB of storage, and 128MB of RAM Comments OpenOffice, a completely free alternative, lacks the security problems, assistants, and background apps Microsoft Office brings along.

INSTEAD OF Windows Media Player you could use Quintessential Player and save yourself from having to deal with the constraints of digital rights management Comments The Quintessential Player can play any video or audio file format except QuickTime and Real.

INSTEAD OF Internet Explorer you could use Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, or any other browser and save yourself from the danger of ActiveX and security flaws that let spyware and worms get on your PC Comments Internet Explorer might get patches to fix its many bugs, but repairing our trust in the browser will take longer.

INSTEAD OF McAfee VirusScan you could use AVG Anti-Virus and save yourself $50 to $70 to purchase the software, and $20 to $30 a year for renewals Comments AVG is an award-winning, simple, powerful, and utterly free antivirus program.

INSTEAD OF Norton Internet Security you could use ZoneAlarm 5, or Windows XP SP2 and save yourself $70 Comments With free firewalls like this, who needs to buy one?


While it's good to eliminate unneeded services, applications, and other PC clutter, going too far can turn a PC that's merely annoying into a nonfunctioning one. If you run Windows XP, the System Restore tool can and will save your behind (and your system) if you ever cross the line that divides PC simplification from a PC lobotomy.

In general, if you're not sure whether uninstalling or disabling a program or service is a good idea, leave it be. Google is a great way to find out what a particular program is--just search for the file name. Be certain you know what a program or service does before you disable it, lest you turn off something Windows needs to boot.

To prepare for that possibility, make a bootable Windows XP emergency recovery CD before you start simplifying. Once you make the CD, test it, then put it somewhere safe and pray you'll never have to use it.

You're better off disabling those things you know are unnecessary, and then monitoring the PC for a day, just to make sure you haven't broken something. Always proceed with your simplification carefully, disabling one service or program at a time, and then rebooting to see if its absence causes a problem on startup.

If all is well, create a new restore point using Windows XP's System Restore tool, which takes snapshots of your system configuration and can restore a botched simplification effort with a few mouse clicks. Creating a restore point with this tool is easy: Choose Start, All Programs (or Programs), Accessories, System Tools, System Restore, select Create a restore point, click Next, enter a description of the restore point (such as 'right before starting simplification'), and then click Create.

System Restore also lets you create a restore point before you install new software, allowing you to back out of any unwanted changes the new program makes to your system. Thanks to System Restore and the emergency recovery CD, you can feel relatively free to simplify without much risk of turning your PC into a paperweight.

Copyright 2005, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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