Thursday, October 21, 2010

Connectivity and/or performance issues with certain wireless hot spots

If you find that you get poor performance, or the network connection is dropped altogether when you connect to certain wi-fi hot spots with your Vista or Windows 7 computer, this may be because the wireless access point or router does not support 802.11 power save protocol. There are a couple of methods you can use to work around the issue. Find out about them in KB article 928152 at

Can't connect to the Internet anymore

I have a Windows 7 computer that could connect to the Internet fine before. Now suddenly I can't get online with it. I have to use my old XP computer to get online. So it's obviously not a problem with my ISP since the XP computer still works. What can I do?

Always start troubleshooting at the hardware level. Make sure your network cable is connected (and try swapping it out for a different Ethernet cable) or if you're using wi-fi, make sure wireless is turned on. Many times I've seen people forget to reenable wi-fi after disabling it on a plane and then think there was something wrong with the computer.

If all that checks out, run the built in network troubleshooter in Windows 7. This article tells you how:

If that doesn't work, try booting the computer in safe mode with networking, and/or try booting without loading third party applications (clean boot mode). You can find out more about that here:

Why Do So Many Geeks Hate Internet Explorer?

It’s common knowledge that almost every single geek hates Internet Explorer with a passion, but have you ever wondered why? Let’s take a fair look at the history and where it all began… for posterity, if nothing else.

Contrary to what you might think, this article is not meant to be a hate-fest on Internet Explorer—in fact, we’re pretty impressed with the hardware acceleration and new features in Internet Explorer 9—but keep reading for the whole story.

In the Beginning There Was IE, and It Was Good?

We’ve all been so used to thinking of Internet Explorer as that slow, buggy browser that is behind the times, but it wasn’t always that way—in fact, way back when, Internet Explorer pioneered many innovations that made the web what it is today.

Here’s a quick tour through the easily forgotten history of the infamous browser:

1996: Internet Explorer 3

This version of the browser, introduced in 1997, was the first browser to implement CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Yes, you’re reading that correctly—in fact, it introduced many new features like Java applets and sadly, ActiveX controls.

1997: Internet Explorer 4

IE4 introduced a blazing fast (at the time) rendering engine as an embeddable component that could be used in other applications—this was a lot more important than people realize. This version also introduced Dynamic HTML, which allows web pages to dynamically change the page using JavaScript, and added Active Desktop integration.

Even more weird? Seems like nobody remembers this anymore, but IE4 was actually cross-platform—you could install it on Mac OS, Solaris, and HP-UX—and by the time IE5 was released, IE4 had reached a 60% market share.

1999: Internet Explorer 5.x

Microsoft invented Ajax. Wait… what? That’s right, it was this version of IE that introduced the XMLHttpRequest feature in JavaScript, which forms the underlying technology behind every web application you’re using today—you know, like Gmail. Of course, the term “Ajax” wasn’t actually coined until years later by somebody other than Microsoft, but this release supported everything required to make it work.

So Yes, Microsoft Innovated

From IE3 until IE6, Microsoft used all their resources to simply out-innovate the competition, releasing new features and better browsers faster than Netscape. In fact, Netscape 3 Gold was a buggy piece of junk that crashed all the time, and Netscape 4 was extremely slow and could barely render tables—much less CSS, which would often cause the browser to crash.

To put it in context: web developers used to complain about Netscape the same way they complain about IE6 now.

What Made It Go So Very Wrong?

The trouble all started when Microsoft integrated IE into Windows as a required component, and made it difficult to uninstall and use an alternate browser. Then there was the whole business with them exploiting their monopoly to try and push Netscape out of the market, and a lot of people started to view Microsoft as the evil empire.

Microsoft Stopped Trying

By the time Microsoft released Internet Explorer 6 in 2001, complete with lots of new features for web developers, since there was no competition and they had a 95% market share, Microsoft just stopped trying—seriously, they did nothing for 5 years even after Firefox was released and geeks started migrating left and right.

Microsoft-Specific Features

The whole problem with Microsoft’s innovation is that much of it was done in ways that didn’t follow the web standards—this wasn’t as big of a problem when Internet Explorer was the only game in town, but once Firefox and Webkit came around and started following the standards correctly, suddenly it became a huge problem for web developers.

Security Holes and Crashing

Since Microsoft decided they didn’t need to try anymore, and they didn’t keep up with the competition from Firefox and other browsers, bugs and security holes just cropped up left and right—really terrible ones, too. For instance, this code is all that is required to crash IE6:

IE7 and IE8 Were Too Little, Too Late

It took 5 years after IE6 for Microsoft to finally get around to releasing IE7, which added tabs and made the browser slightly more tolerable, but for web designers it was still a nightmare to deal with, and only complicated the issue since now you had to make pages render correctly in two lousy browsers instead of just one.

It took another 2.5 years for Microsoft to finally release Internet Explorer 8, which greatly improved CSS support for web developers, and added new features like Private browsing, tab isolation to prevent one bad page from taking down the whole browser, and phishing protection. By this point, most geeks had already moved on to Firefox, and then some of us to Google Chrome.

Here’s the Real Reason Geeks Hate IE

Just because we’re geeks doesn’t mean we hate everything that’s inferior and outdated—in fact, we often love retro computing—that’s why we love Atari, NES, Commodore 64, etc. We take pride in our geek knowledge. So why’s Internet Explorer a different story?

Here’s a couple of reasons that fueled our hatred of the buggy browser, and finally put us all over the edge:

Supporting IE is Like a Fork in the Eye for Web Devs

Here’s a sample of a day in the life of a web designer: You spend hours making sure that your page looks great, and you test it out in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Opera. It looks great, awesome!

Now you open up IE and the page looks like somebody put it into a blender and hit the Whip button. Then you spend double the amount of time trying to fix it to look tolerable in IE6 and IE7, cursing loudly the entire time.

Geeks Forced to Use Internet Explorer

And here’s where we come to the real issue—the whole reason that geeks can’t stand Internet Explorer:

Geeks everywhere were forced to use Internet Explorer at work even when there are better browsers, forced to support it for corporate applications, forced to make sure web sites still work in IE, and we couldn’t convince everybody to switch to a better browser.

Geeks don’t hate something that’s inferior—but they do hate it when it’s forced on them.

The Good News: The Future Might Be Brighter

Thankfully it seems like Microsoft has finally learned from their many, many mistakes in the browser world. They are below 50% in the market share wars, and they’ve finally learned to focus on using web standards.

Internet Explorer 9 is about to be released, it’s got a shiny new interface that looks a lot like Google Chrome, blazing fast hardware acceleration, and supports HTML5 surprisingly well—in fact, it’s so much better that 34% of our readers said they will switch to IE9.

Microsoft is billing Internet Explorer 9 as the browser that’s going to change the world, and they aren’t wrong—they just aren’t mentioning that they were the only ones holding the web back with their anemic browsers. And now that mess is finally over.

Make Microsoft Word Always Use Plain Text for Pasted Text

Are you tired of pasting text into Word, only to find that the pasted text included colors, formatting, links, and more from its original source? Here’s how you can keep pasted text from messing up your documents. By default, Word will keep the formatting of text and other content you past into a document, including links, colors, size, font, and more. This can be annoying at best and at worst, can mess up the other formatting in your document.

If you copied a large amount of text or images from a site, or if your internet connection happens to be slow, Word may even freeze temporarily while it’s retrieving and pasting the content. That’s no fun.

Word does have one saving feature: you can click the little popup under pasted text and select Plain Text to get just the text and none of the formatting. However, that’s 2 extra clicks. If you just want to paste the text, and nothing else, you’ll want to change the default setting. Thankfully, it’s easy. If you just pasted text, just click the popup and select Set Default Paste.

Alternately, open the Options pane in Word manually from the File backstage menu or the Office orb in Word 2007.
Select the Advanced tab, then scroll down to the Cut, copy, and paste settings section.
Here you can change a wide variety of pasting options. To switch to pasting text only by default, select Keep Text Only in the drop-down menus. You can change the settings for all options, or just change the ones you wish. We often want to keep the formatting if we’re pasting within the same document, so we left the first option at default, then switched all the others to Keep Text Only.

Once you’ve changed the settings, try pasting some text to make sure it works right. Now it should just paste the text, even if your paste included an image, link, or other text formatting. This is great for the default setting, and makes everything much quicker.

Or, if you decide you want to include the formatting, links, or other content from the paste, just click the popup and select Keep Source Formatting. This way, you’ll only have to click extra if you need the extra content.

Now you can save time and get just the text you want from websites, other programs, and more without waiting for a large paste and taking the time to tweak it.