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Laughing Rock Technology, LLC

Is there a way to customize the right click menus in Vista?

cstonaha : July 22, 2009 1:53 pm : Hints Tips and Q&A

QUESTION:
I like my Vista computer but I’m wondering, is there a way to customize the right click menus. When I right click a file, there are a bunch of options there that I never, ever use but I have to wade through all that to get to the one I want. Can I remove some of them?

ANSWER:
Many applications install their own items in the right context menu when you install them. After a while, if you install lots of these apps, your context menu can get pretty cluttered up, and some of these menu items may be unused and unwanted. Even if you uninstall the programs, the items may stay in the context menu.

You can remove items from the context menu by editing the registry. The items are contained in the following key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ * \ shellex \ ContextMenuHandlers

Delete the keys for the items you don’t want. Be sure to back up the registry before editing it.

If you’re not comfortable with editing the registry, there are free third party tools you can use to remove and add context menu items. One is FileMenu Tools, which you can download at
http://www.lopesoft.com/en/

*Thanks again to Deb Shinder for her help with this one!

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Can I merge my Outlook calendar with my colleague’s Outlook Calendar so that we both see the same calendar at all times?

cstonaha : June 17, 2009 9:03 am : Hints Tips and Q&A

This is a question that was submitted to us by one of our clients, Waddell and Reed in Wyomissing PA. Connor and Courtney at that office have a business partnership that completely hinges on communication and collaboration. The problem is that they work as one person and everything on one of there calendars needs to appear on the others and vice versa.

Many people will tell you that this is not possible without paying for an expensive Exchange Server through Microsoft and also buying third party software to facilitate the synchronization. While we are huge fans of Microsoft’s Exchange Server and recommend it to many of our clients, there are situations where it simply isn’t the right fit.

Bottom line, we were able to help them achieve this goal without purchasing any third party software. All they needed was an internet connection!

If this is a problem you are encountering at your company, please just contact us through this site and we will be sure to get you the full solution so that you can continue to use Outlook while synchronizing your calendar with others.

P.S. This solution also makes it SIMPLE for you to synchronize multiple calendars to your Windows Mobile device or other smart phones!

Happy Computing,

The Laughing Rock Team

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How to disable “In Private” browsing in IE 8

cstonaha : May 27, 2009 8:36 am : Hints Tips and Q&A

Microsoft got lots of praise from privacy advocates for including the “In Private” mode in Internet Explorer 8, which lets you surf without storing cookies, saving history or cache information or otherwise leaving tracks of what sites you’ve visited. This is good when using public computers – but some parents have written to say they don’t want their kids to be able to so easily erase the traces of where they’ve been on the family computer. Well, if you’re one of those, you’ll be happy to know that it’s pretty easy to disable “In Private” browsing. Here’s how to do it in Vista Business, Enterprise or Ultimate or in the Windows 7 RC:

1. Click Start and in the Search box, type gpedit.msc to open the local Group Policy management console.
2. In the left pane, navigate to Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Internet Explorer | InPrivate
3. In the right pane, double click the setting “Turn off InPrivate browsing”
4. Select Enabled and click OK to prevent the use of the In Private feature.

*Thanks to Deb Shinder for this one!

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How can I keep my computer protected and Virus free?

cstonaha : May 4, 2009 7:43 am : Hints Tips and Q&A

Unfortunately, this is a question that we get entirely to infrequently.  Protecting your computer and consequently your data, is a very proactive thing.  Viruses, adware, spyware, malware, bloatware, etc… are all desperately trying to get into your computer to stake their claim.  Once they do, their next goal is to make it as hard as possible for you to remove them so they can stay as long as possible.  Waiting for a virus or some other form of malware to infect your computer before taking action will certainly make your life more difficult than simply taking a few precautions on a regular basis to help avoid the infection in the first place.  Here is a good list of key steps in helping to keep your computer protected:

  • Keeping your software & Operating System up to date.
  • Keep either a bi-directional firewall installed/up to date and running at all times or a hardware firewall such as a router.
  • Keeping an up to date antivirus/antispyware installed & active always.
  • Running scans on a regular basis with AV software.
  • Staying off the p2p (LimeWire, Grokster, iMesh, etc…) sites or sites that offer “cracked” software.
  • Being very careful on social networking sites. I won’t click links posted unless I can verify it is safe.
  • Watching what you download. If you want to try out an app, try to research it & read reviews before downloading.
  • Is what you are downloading free … why?
  • Don’t open emails that you are not expecting and those that you are, handle with care.  Attachments should never be opened right from the email.  Always save them first. If you are not sure, ask the sender what the file is supposed to do & if they meant to send it.
  • Spam should be outright deleted by either using antispam software or asking your ISP if they have spam filtering software. Ecards/postcards should be deleted unless you know/trust the sender and even then you should ask first)
  • Watching the kind of of search results that come up & being choosy which results you click. If it looks suspicious, skip it.
  • Not clicking links in IM/IRC/Chat programs unless you can determine for sure it is safe.
  • Not accepting files in IM/Chat unless you can trust the sender & have asked what the file is/know what it does.
  • Back up important stuff regularly & preferably have the backups kept on offline storage. I use an external hard drive which is only connected when I do my backup.
  • If a PC on your network is found to be infected — get it off the network so it does not spread.

These are just a few tips to help you computing happy and virus free into the future.  As always, please contact us with any questions or if you believe your computer has been infected.

The Laughing Rock Team

P.S. Thanks to our friends at the Sunbelt Security Labs and Tammy Stewart for their help with the above list.

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How Do I Get Rid of The Annoying Balloon Notifications In Windows XP

cstonaha : April 13, 2009 12:14 pm : Hints Tips and Q&A

How Do I Get Rid of The Annoying Balloon Notifications In Windows XP

QUESTION: I use my own firewall solution so have the XP firewall shut off. XP installs a little icon in the lower left corner next to the time. It is in the shape of a red medallion with an X in it. How can I remove it from there. Every time I restart after an install, it pops up a balloon saying my machine is unprotected and this is starting to really bother me! HELP!!! Otherwise, Service Pack 3 went in with no problems this time around. Could you include something about how to get rid of this annoyance?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, there is no way to turn off only specific balloon notifications, but you can turn off all system tray balloon pop ups by editing the registry. Please see the instructions here (Remember, improper usage of the registry can permanently damage your computer and files.  Always remember to backup your registry before making changes and if you are not comfortable working in the registry, contact us through this site for support):

  1. Open your favorite registry editor
  2. In the left pane, navigate to:
    HKEY CURRENT USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced.
  3. Right click an empty space in the right pane and select New, then select DWORD value
  4. Right click the new entry and select Rename. Give it the name EnableBalloonTips
  5. Double click the entry and in the Value Data field, give it a hexadecimal value of 0
  6. Close the registry editor

You’ll need to log off and log back on before the change takes effect, and the balloons will be disabled only for the current user. If you log onto the computer with a different user account, the balloons will still appear.  If your issue is purely with the firewall, you can also open the Windows Security Center and under firewall, choose “I have a firewall solution that I will monitor myself.”  This will stop the security center from notifying you that the windows firewall is turned off.

Thanks and happy computing!

The Laughing Rock Team

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