Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 2003 / 1 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764


Stop pop-ups by killing the other Messenger; better than manual underlining; cannot access the Internet when I use the LAN connection on the wireless computers, and cannot share files when choosing wireless connection on them

By James Coates

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | (KRT) Q. I have a brand new computer with Windows XP and cannot seem to get rid of the Windows Messenger Instant Message feature that interrupts me throughout the workday. I have disabled Windows Messenger in the Set Program Access and Defaults section of Control Panel, and I have also "unchecked" Messenger in the Add/Remove Windows Component dialog.

But I continually get Windows Messenger Service pop-ups, and they are all from sites selling software to block such pop-ups forever! Is there a way to really uninstall Windows Messenger?

Also, some of these messages say things like, "The fact this message got through shows your system is vulnerable to attack by hackers." Is this true? I have current, regularly updated versions of McAfee Firewall, VirusScan and Privacy Service.

N.P. Sternad@comcast.com

A. Your note describes correctly how to disable Microsoft's version of the IM software that many businesses shut down to prevent workday distractions, but you, I fear, are facing a cigar of an entirely different color.

Those Windows Messenger pop-ups are not the Microsoft Messenger but rather a hole in the operating system with the similar name of Windows Messenger--and they are every bit as nasty as you describe them.

The offending Windows Messenger feature is a so-called service built into the operating system, along with dozens of others, all designed to handle some aspect of moving data on the computer or on any network, including the Internet. It is designed to let network administrators send brief messages to various workstations but is very easy for hackers to compromise.

They just monitor Internet traffic and record the IP addresses that each computer broadcasts while online. Then the hacker invokes the Windows Messenger Service to send advertising pitches to each grabbed IP address. The operating system cooperates by popping up an official-looking window that appears much like the Microsoft Messenger but contains the advertising pitch. Naturally, those who use this tactic are the same ones who promote spyware, viruses and other outrages

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So here is how to disable this other Messenger in Windows XP: Click on Start and Run, then type in the command "services.msc" and tap return. In the list of services that pop up, scroll to Messenger Service and click the Stop command in the panel to the left.

Q. I'm sure that by now your inbox is full of e-mails about your answer concerning document changes and underlining/strike-throughs. But since your advice is usually so good, I felt that the reader needed to have a better suggestion than manual underlining. What the reader wants to do is "track changes," and there is a built-in function in MS Word to do this. Under Tools/Track Changes, select "Highlight Changes" and all changes to the document will be tracked. Then, by right-clicking on the highlighted changes, the user can accept the change or not.

Bruce Hill@dcwis.com

A. As you predicted, Mr. H., I got mail-bombed by readers who greatly prefer the Track Changes feature in Windows to my suggestion about how to meet U.S. Patent Office rules that require alterations conform to this style: All text being deleted from a proposal must be done in strike-through, and all text added done in underlining.

This is a generally accepted style in collaboration by typeset documents, and the Track Changes module in Word is designed to exactly do that. Once invoked by putting a check mark in the Highlight Changes box under Tools/Track Changes, all of this happens automatically. I should have anticipated the reaction from readers that I suggest this solution rather than the one I did, which is to simply highlight all text that was changed and then use the strike-through and underline commands in the Format tool to make the alterations.

I was picturing a problem in which a document was changed, and the alterations showing the changes needed to be made after it had been saved, like if I wanted to do strike-throughs of lines in your e-mail after receiving it. In that case, Track Changes will not work as well as my suggestion.

But more to the point, if you open a document and switch on Track Changes as you do the alterations in real time, this built-in tool will deliver exactly what is needed as you type. Thanks to all who made this point.

Maybe it's because we prima donna writers hate to see our own work changed by editors that we are kind of blind to this useful feature in the world's most heavily used text-editing software.

Q. I have a cable modem and a wireless router that connects a network of computers using Ethernet cards and hard wiring to another set of computers that are connected using wireless receivers.

I used the XP wizard to configure my network, which created a LAN connection and a wireless connection separately on the wireless computers. Hard-wired computers function as desired, but wireless ones do not.

I cannot access the Internet when I use the LAN connection on the wireless computers, and I cannot share files if I choose the wireless connection on them.

Is there a way to make the wireless computers work the same way as the hard-wired ones?

Ahmet Unal, St. Louis

A. Like a bridge over troubled waters, as songster Paul Simon might say, the newest Windows operating systems come with a networking feature that is designed to allow the networking of a collection of computers that all have different types of connections, such as your hard-wired Ethernet and wireless setup.

It's called--drum roll, please--the Windows Network Bridge. To invoke it, just click on the Network Connections display reached by clicking on Start, then Control Panel and Network Connections.

In the next window you will find icons for the Ethernet and wireless connections. Click on the Advanced tool at the top of the Window and select Bridge Connections. This will create an icon for the bridge separated by a line from the icons for the Ethernet and wireless. Drag those two icons into the bridge, and your two networks will become one with each other and the Internet.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.

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