Maximize LCD Life
Does repeatedly turning my LCD monitor on and off wear out the light source, and thus shorten the life of the monitor?
J. Trent Corbett, Chesterfield, Virginia
Almost certainly not. The fluorescent light bulbs that are used to back-light LCDs continually pass through an on-and-off-like cycle while your monitor is in operation. The less time they spend cycling on and off, the longer they'll live.
But maintaining the screen at too bright a setting for a long time can leave yellow marks on the LCD itself. To extend its life, keep the display as dim as you can without causing discomfort as you work. Of course, your eyes are harder to replace than your monitor, so don't dim it to the point where it causes eyestrain.
Notebook LCDs, which are more expensive to replace, normally run with a dim light anyway to increase battery life.
Tell Windows to Knock Off the Restart Nags
It seems that every time Windows updates, it issues annoying reboot reminders every 5 minutes. To stop the pop-ups in XP Pro or in Vista Business or Ultimate (but not in XP Home or Vista Home Premium, unfortunately), select Start, Run (just Start in Vista), type gpedit.msc, and press Enter. Navigate in the Group Policy Object Editor's left pane to Local Computer, Policy, Computer Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Update. In the right pane, double-click Re-prompt for restart with scheduled installations. In the next dialog box, select Enabled, and set the number of minutes to something very high, such as 600. Click OK and close the Group Policy Object Editor.