Windows Vista may be the next big thing, but it still contains enough quirks and unaccountable behaviors to vex anyone. This unique guide not only discusses the most irritating features of the latest Microsoft operating system and how to get around them, but also explains how to improve Windows and do more with the software than Microsoft intended. You'll find information on setup, installation, upgrade from other Windows versions, the revamped interface, new security features, user accounts, troubleshooting, and the markedly improved Internet Explorer 7. Other chapters cover a wide range of key topics:
Media Center - tips on photos, videos, music, TV tuners, HD, and the media center engine
The Registry - explains the background and tools for working with Windows' database of settings
Tinkering Techniques - offers hacking-style customization and problem-solving topics
Networking and Wireless - includes LAN setup, WiFi sniffers and access points, connection sharing, firewalls, routers, and FTP
Scripting and Automation - introduces simple programming using the Windows Scripting Host for automating repetitive tasks
No other book takes our patented cranky, solutions-oriented approach. Our collection of tips, tools and techniques will improve your experience with Windows Vista, so you can control the OS -- rather than the other way around.
Chapter 1 Get Started with Windows Vista
Editions of Vista
Install Windows Vista
Migration to Windows Vista
Chapter 2 Shell Tweaks
Customize Windows Explorer
Working with Files and Folders
Chapter 3 The Registry
The Registry Editor
The Structure of the Registry
Registry Tasks and Tools
File Type Associations
Chapter 4 Working with Media
Handling Online Video
Sound and Music
Photos, Pictures, Images
Media Center Annoyances
CD and DVD Drives
Chapter 5 Performance
Trim the Fat
Make Your Hardware Perform
Chapter 6 Troubleshooting
Crashes and Error Messages
Dealing with Drivers and Other Tales of Hardware Troubleshooting
David A. Karp is the author of the bestselling Windows Annoyances series of books and the founder of Annoyances.org. His other books include eBay Hacks and Windows XP Pocket Reference. David also writes for PC Magazine and is the co-author of Windows XP in a Nutshell.
The animal on the cover of Windows Vista Annoyances is a horned frog (genus Ceratophrys). Named for the triangular flap of skin at the edge of their upper eyelids, horned frogs can grow to a length of six to eight inches and are generally as wide as they are long. Their rotund build, coupled with the fact that they have extremely large mouths, has earned them the nickname "PacMan frog."
The coloration of the horned frog can be quite varied, and helps to camouflage it against the ground of the South American jungles in which it makes its home. Species include the Ornate (Ceratophrys ornate; specific to eastern Brazil and Argentina), Cranwell's (Ceratophrys cranwelli), and Columbian (Ceratophrys calcarata) horned frogs.
Females are generally larger and not as brightly colored as males. They're also less vocal--unlike the more conventional "ribbit" or "croak," the male's vocalization sounds have been compared to bovine bellowing.
Horned frogs are voracious eaters whose diet consists of insects, lizards, mice, and just about anything they can get their huge mouths around--in fact, frog owners are encouraged to keep their pet horned frogs separated to minimize the risk of cannibalism. This insatiable appetite can have fatal consequences; they have been found dead in the wild with the remains of an impossible-to-digest victim still protruding from their mouths.
A fiercely aggressive creature, the horned frog will attack anything it sees as a threat, even animals many times its own size and bulk. It can inflict painful bites, and a row of sharp teeth in its upper jaw makes it nearly impossible to let go once it has captured its prey. Its vicious reputation has given root to an Argentinean superstition suggesting that if a horned frog bites the lip of a grazing horse, the horse will die (in actuality, horned frog bites are not poisonous). Amazon villagers have been known to wear high leather boots called botas escuerzas to repel attacks by the highly territorial Amazon horned frog.
I asked to review this O'Reilly book on Microsoft Vista with the idea of taming the Vista-beasty. When answering a call from a client who hasn't spent the extra bucks for a state-of-the-art PC to run Vista, the most often heard request is "My new computer is as slow as a snail. How can I speed up this thing?" Windows Vista Annoyances to the rescue! While it is true that you can often Google great fixes or answers, this book has answers to questions I didn't know enough to ask and I like having all my tools in one package for easy portability. In other words, I like having a book to take with me to a client's location for easy reference as questions arise. As an added value, this book is available in digital format online through Safari (http://safari.oreilly.com). The last page of the book gives details on how to take advantage of the free 45 day access.
The author states that his intent in writing this book is to help the reader solve problems and resolve issues. The Preface is titled "Why am I annoyed?" and continues with how this book of solutions, hacks and tips can help the Vista user become self-empowered by understanding the technology. The book is divided into nine chapters and two appendices.
Get Started with Windows Vista
Working with Media
Networking and Internet
Users and Security
Scripting and Automation
I installed Vista Home Premium on a PC that couldn't be called "state of the art" even when I purchased it a few years ago, so I felt I could easily understand the frustration of my callers who had an out-of-the box PC slug. I had added a GIG of RAM to my DELL E510, bringing the total up to 2 GIG. My big handicap according to my Vista rating analysis was the video card, an NVIDIA 7300 LE. So, my first stop was Chapter 5: Performance.
The first part of this chapter provided information on disabling entertaining, but unnecessary, animation and display effects, and speeding up the menu actions. There were very good explanations, tips, and assessments of resource usage for each of the options listed in the Visual Effects tab's of the Performance Options dialog. Disabling a slew of options definitely improved my computer's response time, but seemed to prevent the display of the cards in the Solitaire game packaged with the OS. This game makes great use of animated windows for laying out the cards and dealing the deck. Since playing a game or seven is critical to my well-being, I re-enabled the "Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing" option. This seemed to restore proper functioning of the game without affecting the computer's performance. Disabling most of the GUI candy did add a lot of zip to the machine. This chapter also has a substantial section on the "Aero" Glass interface. I had disabled most of the resource intensive features associated with "Aero", but for those with less than ready-for-Vista PCs who feel Glass would enrich their computing experience, the author has a number of helpful suggestions and tips for improving the performance of your hardware and software. There is also a section on bringing a Glass-like interface (not quite Glass), to Vista Home Basic.
The 'Windows Experience Index' provides a system of rating your computer's processor, memory, graphics, gaming graphics and primary hard disk. There are explanations of the five categories, how the rating is arrived at, and suggestions for maximizing it. The Base Score is determined by the lowest subscore. My PC's performance rating was a whopping 3.2 due to my NVIDIA 7300 LE video card's Gaming graphics capabilities and absence of Pixel Shader 3.0. As recommended, I updated the graphics card driver and clicked the link to 'Update my score' in the Performance Information and Tools dialog. Alas, I'm stuck at a score of 3.2. The chapter continues with a section on improving battery life when running Vista on a laptop, managing IRQ priority, and overclocking your processor, There is an in-depth section on Hard drive maintenance that begins with defragging your hard drive and continues with managing the Prefetch feature, optimizing virtual memory and cache settings, transferring Windows to another hard drive, and ends with copious amounts of great tips and instructions on the broad topic of disk management.
Next stop was chapter 8, page 480, to learn how to work with that UAC (User Account Control) thingy. The constant UAC dialogs and its impact on Legacy software are the second biggest sources of aggravation for my callers. The author explains that this is Microsoft's attempt to control the unrequested attacks on Windows-based PCs. The advantages of this new feature are listed. UAC can prevent malware from doing stuff to your PC without your approval. It can make it more difficult for individuals to unwittingly damage files and registry settings. And if a password is required at each UAC prompt, the casual user, who doesn't know the password, is further protected from himself. Next, the bad news is itemized. Programs that weren't written with UAC in mind may not install or run properly. Prompts can be frequent and very annoying and intrusive. It can be easily defeated by a knowing hacker. The average user will just click continue without even reading the message, defeating the whole security aspect.
The section continues with ways to fix a program that either won't install or function properly due to the UAC prompt. If you really want to turn it completely off, you'll find out how next. I read that if I had purchased the Ultimate or Business editions of Vista, I would have access to the Security Policy Editor. I tried to run secpol.msc file on my Home Premium, but received a message that it couldn't snap in. With this tool you can adjust the Local Policies Security Options to allow applications that aren't UAC aware to run without completely disabling the protection to your PC. I wish I had read this portion of the book before buying the limited Home Premium version of Vista to install on my machine!
This is a must-have book for anyone who has just purchased a new Vista machine and would like to understand what they bought. When the OS doesn't behave as expected, you can often find a happy resolution on these pages and gain a sense of self-satisfaction from fixing a problem yourself. They say that knowledge is power and this is the book to give you the information you need to feel in control of your Vista experience.
I have prevouisly purchased the "Windows XP Annoyances" and utilized it.
The "Windows Vista Annoyances" is excellent, a must have for Vista user. I have also utilized the information in the book on Windows Server 2008 Workstation. Yes, I did say workstation and same tips work. It is great to take out the bloat that Vista utilizes, but of course, if you want all the bells and whistle have fun.