Holiday Tips Extravaganza

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My editor, Kim, the one who oversees these newsletters, started kvetching the other day. "More tips," she said, "that's what readers want." I can't argue (and even if I did, it wouldn't do any good). So today, tips that could make your computing life more productive.

Clean PCs Are Happier (And Faster)

You can increase the life of your computer by getting the dust off the fans, cleaning the vents, and removing the crud from the CPU's heat sink fans. It's important to keep the keyboard and other peripherals clean too; read my January 3 blog to find out how.

Fix Windows XP Taskbar Woes

I don't know what I did, but when I booted up none of the minimized programs I had running were in the Taskbar. Read my February 21 blog to find out how I fixed the problem.

Eight Tips for a Faster Hard Drive

My hard drive was yelling bloody murder because I hadn't defragged in months. Once I did it, my PC's performance increased. That's because even a fast, 10,000RPM drive spends an inordinate amount more time looking for files it needs rather than accessing them. For defragging tips--and more advice--read my March 1 blog.

Control Your Inbox

My wife uses Microsoft Outlook. I was watching her check e-mail the other day, and I couldn't help noticing that she wasn't using many rules. That's troubling because she's married to an alleged computer expert (whatever will people think?); besides which, she's missing out on some great ways to keep organized. Go to my April 17 blog for my advice on the subject.

Dig This: When I buy something with my credit card, my scrawl on the electronic dotted line is illegible. I've recently added little doodles and an occasional happy face. Apparently I'm not the only scribbler. Check out the Credit Card Prank site for the story of a super-scrawler.

Top Tricks for Safe, Smart Downloads

I download lots of files, and I'm guessing you do too. Besides videos, I'm always looking for smart utilities and trialware. In May I did a two-parter on download tools and tips. Go to my May 2 and May 3 blog entries for the scoop.

Free Tech Support on the Web

Back in May I told you how to use search engines to get online support, and how to post to forums and get personalized help. Read my May 8 entry on OfficeMax's CtrlCenter (and other sites), and my May 9 blog on forums.

Cheap(er) Replacement Inkjet Cartridges

Inkjet cartridges are too expensive, but I found a company selling refilled replacement cartridges at a reasonable price. Read my June 21 blog for details.

Dig This: Think you have terrific geography skills? Take your Lufthansa for a quick trip and see if you can land in the right country. (Careful, it's addictive.)

Smart Tips for E-Mailing

Are you guilty of sending annoying e-mail? Of course you are. That's because what you (or I) think is cool can drive someone else up the wall. Read my July 3 blog for tips on being less annoying.

Inkjet Printer Tips and Tweaks

Back in August I did a couple blogs with tips from readers on getting the most out of your printer's consumables. Read my August 7 entry for reader's favorite ink vendors; and my August 8 entry for tips on eking the last drops out of your ink-jet cartridge.

Dig This: FreeRice is a nifty vocabulary game--and believe it or not, the site really does donate rice to the United Nations World Food Program. [Thanks, Ken C.]

Windows Tips for a Trouble-Free PC

Back in August I spent some time talking about some simple things you can do to keep your computer running smoothly. Read my August 27 blog for help cataloging your apps; my August 28 blog has tips for getting product keys for your Windows apps, using System Restore, and more.

Reduce Printing Costs

Even though I buy recycled and remanufactured printer cartridges, I'm still stunned by the cost. So short of shoplifting, I'll try practically anything to save ink. Back on September 27 I blogged about some tips and downloads that save me some dough.

Make Office 2007 Look Like Office 2003

Not everyone likes the look and feel of Office 2007. If you yearn for the familiar menu of Office 2003, you now have an option. It's an add-in from Addintools: Classic Menu for Office 2007. Read my October 15 blog for details.

Troubleshoot Your Electronics With Retrevo

At first, I thought Retrevo was a typical shopping site. It does supply information about retailers and online stores--but it's light years ahead of mere shopping sites. It finds details about electronics, the minutiae that are essential when I'm looking for before I buy a product, or if I'm having a problem. Read my November 19 blog for the scoop.

Go Wireless--Without Wi-Fi

Want to network your home office or business? In addition to wireless and Ethernet cables, you've got a third alternative: Use your electrical wiring. For the scoop on HomePlug AV, read my December 5 blog.

Dig This: There's still plenty of time for you to decorate your PC, or just waste some time, with these Christmas diversions. The 12 Day$ of Chri$tma$ gives you some idea what the 12 days of gifts will run you. Respect Soft Christmas Tree lets you plaster a Christmas countdown clock onto your desktop. Not enough, you say? How about a whole collection of assorted holiday screen savers and other time-wasting nonsense.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.
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