press here to print Newsletter
Issue 24 - November 10, 2007
Table of contents:
Is microsoft losing its grip?
Criminals are misunderstood:
Tech tip:
Ghost mail:
Vista review:

Editorial::[ TOP ]
Today is Remembrance Sunday in the UK, and in the US I believe it is Veteran's Day. I hope we can all find time to remember those who fought in our name and died so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.

That brings me neatly to the "idiot of the week" award. It goes to Hilary Beach. She is the half-witted Mayor of Chepstow who asked the local regiment to march in today's parade without their rifles. She said "Everybody is worried about the rise in gun crime." and then blathered on about what awful things guns were. Yes Hilary, but anyone who can link the rise in gun crime to the heroism of the armed forces deserves nothing but contempt.

In this edition we poke fun at the giants of the computer industry, as usual, share some tech tips, offer some free downloads that you will enjoy, and point you at some sites that will stir your imagination.

You can add your two pennyworth in our Talkback section.

Phil Dodd.

Is microsoft losing its grip?[ TOP ]
Eight years ago Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson of the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., officially declared Microsoft a monopoly. This fanned the flames of consumer dissatisfaction and lead to a series of court cases, mainly in Europe, claiming Microsoft was a bully and was throttling competition.

There are some who believe those heady days are over for Bill's boys and that Microsoft is no longer the all pervasive force it once was. You can read all about here:,139458/article.html

As I read the article I shed a tear or two for Microsoft, and if you believe that you will also believe that Microsoft will no longer dominate the world of computers and be in all our lives in one way or another.

Criminals are misunderstood:[ TOP ]
If I suggested to you that burglars were predominately nice people who broke into your house and wrecked your furniture because they were simply proving they could do it, and that this was a good thing, you'd think I was barking mad.

A chap called Jonathan Strickland has grasped this particular cudgel on behalf of the hacker community. Apparently these destructive little nerds are a boon to society and the media are at fault for giving them a bad name. I'm not making it up, you can read it here:

Jonathan, you need to get out more.

Patches:[ TOP ]
Microsoft has announced it is releasing only two patches next week. Does this mean they are getting things right? I doubt it, it probably means they've all been to a conference and the work will have to wait: They have announced two security updates for Tuesday to fix flaws in Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003. One of the two is a leftover from October that was bumped at the last minute.

For the interested few:

Tech tip:[ TOP ]
Have you ever started your computer to find that the desktop, taskbar and start menu have disappeared? Many have, either as a result of an update that went wrong or spyware/virus activity. If it was working fine yesterday a system restore might fix it, but how to start it?

You can start System Restore using the Task Manager. This is the procedure:

1. Press Ctrl, Alt and Del to open task manager. Click on File, then New task.

2. In the box that opens, type
Press OK.

3. This will open a folder, find a file called rstrui and double click to run it.

System Restore will appear and you can select a restore point.

Ghost mail:[ TOP ]
I was asked about the same annoying glitch three times in the last two weeks, so it seems to be a common problem. Sometimes Windows XP will show unread emails when you get to the login screen, but when you look, there are none there.

I found the fix here:

On that page you'll find instructions for doing the fix manually, and also two files you can download and run to do the work for you. One file turns off the mail counter (which I assume will also reset it to zero), and the other turns it back on again.

It would be a good idea to do a registry backup first.

Vista review:[ TOP ]
I read an interesting review of Windows Vista the other day (apparently Vista is one year old). It was a scathing review, damning Microsoft for foisting a poor quality product on the public. I went back to look at it today and it has vanished! Far be it from me to suggest that this is anything more sinister than a server going down, but I can't help wondering.

I've decide to conduct the review of Vista by canvassing friends and colleagues for their experience of it. If you would like to contribute to this project, please send your comments to and put Vista in the subject line.


Download:[ TOP ]
Advanced Windows Care is a Windows optimisation utility. It offers two main options: Repair and Repair And Optimize. The former fixes Registry entries and cleans out your operating system. The latter does the same thing and tweaks Windows for maximum performance.

You can get it by logging on to and heading for our downloads section, where you will find over 200 free programs to enjoy.

Talkback:[ TOP ]
The mailbag contained good news this week. Nancy Wall wrote:
"I love it. I've read every word and plan to check out some of the things you've mentioned. This is not only informative, it's fun!! Please keep it up".

I will be inviting Nancy to dine with me one evening!

Daniel Mata weighed in with:
"I enjoy the delivered to my e-mail address because it is seriously informative, yet expressed in a light-hearted humorous tone."

However, not everyone was pleased:

"Hello, and thanks for inviting to give our opinion. I enjoy the Protonic reports as I find them useful, informative and charismatic...but have trouble reading them because of the rather small print AND with a graphic background. I tried to use my Outlook Express 6.0 to enlarge the print but it didn't work on Protonic.

If this could be modified, it would be a tremendous happiness to me and many others... :o)" was from Adela

Adela, I have asked our coding team to look at this, and they will as soon as they finish playing World of Warcraft. Phil.

If you have anything to say (anything at all) please email and we'll publish it.

Credits[ TOP ]
Editor Phil Dodd

Thanks to:
Victor Gascon for allowing me to steal his material.

Bill Gates for continuing to produce products that seldom work perfectly, thus keeping in business.

Linux developers all over the world, without whom computing would lack any humour.

Comments or Feedback:

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