Every version of Windows can do more...and each new version finds new ways to drive folks bonkers. If you’ve upgraded to Windows XP, you know it’s true. Yeah, XP is full of cool new digital features, but where’d they hide the old controls and settings you’d finally figured out? Sure, XP does practically everything automatically -- but what happens when it does that stuff wrong?
What happens is, you get a copy of Windows XP Headaches, by Curt Simmons. Simmons identifies some 300 of XP’s biggest annoyances and shows exactly how to resolve them.
XP is full of nitty little frustrations where that wry old saying applies: It’s not a bug -- it’s a feature. “Windows XP keeps putting stuff on the Start menu without my permission.” “Windows Media Player keeps opening automatically when I insert a CD.” “The Desktop Cleanup Wizard keeps running without my permission.” You’d be forgiven for wondering: Whose side is this computer on, anyhow? Simmons puts you back in control.
Then there are the security-related issues, some relating to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, and many relating to XP’s user accounts. (For example, all the stuff you can’t do if you’re not logged in as an administrator). For many home users, this represents yet another layer of hassle to get beyond. You don’t have to learn a whole lot to solve these problems, but you do need to know a few things -- and you can learn them here.
Of course, there are bigger problems, too -- and that’s when you’ll really appreciate owning this book. Your computer stops responding while you’re installing XP, or gives you a file copy error message, or a Stop or Error message. You get XP installed but can’t connect to Microsoft’s ever-lovin’ online activation system. Your system crashes and won’t reboot properly. You try to use System Restore, and now things are really fouled up. Patiently, one step at a time, Simmons walks you through the solutions to all of these problems.
We’ve been jumping around, but Simmons doesn’t. He systematically covers all of XP, beginning with interface headaches (screen doesn’t look right, taskbar won’t stay put); file and folder headaches ("I didn’t mean to 'recycle' that file, what do I do?") and user account headaches ("I don’t want to use the Welcome screen.") Next, he offers solutions to roughly a dozen of the most common problems with Windows’ applets (“I can’t create a new Address Book entry”; “I thought there was a scientific calculator here somewhere but all I can find is a conventional one”).
There’s extensive coverage of hardware hassles: what to do when Windows XP won’t recognize your new scanner or digital camera; or when XP won’t let you create a new partition on your new hard drive; or when all the devices hanging off your USB hub work fine -- except your printer.
Even more chapters are dedicated to the Internet. How to share your Internet connection (or stop sharing it), and what to do when Internet Connection Sharing squawks about IP conflicts. How to use Internet Connection Firewall and understand what it’s doing. How to get Internet Explorer to dial the Internet connection you want to use, instead of the wrong one; how to change your home page. There’s also a full chapter on Outlook Express (“I accidentally put someone on my blocked senders list; how do I get them off?”
If you’re using Windows XP on a home network, you’ll appreciate Simmons' thorough coverage of the myriad troubles you might encounter. (All your computers work fine on the network except one -- why? You can’t share a folder or printer -- why?) By the way, in most cases, the headaches Simmons uncovers apply to both Windows XP Home and Professional, but there are a few special circles of hell for users of one or the other, and Simmons covers these as well.
If you want to make the most of Windows XP, get Simmons’ other book, How to Do Everything with Windows XP. But if you want to keep Windows XP from getting the best of you, rush out and get this one: Windows XP Headaches. (Bill Camarda)
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.