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Paul McFedries is a full-time technical author who has worked with computers in one form or another since 1975 and has used Windows since version 1. He is the author of more than 60 computer books that have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. His recent titles include the Sams Publishing books Microsoft Windows Vista Unleashed, Second Edition, and Microsoft Windows Home Server Unleashed and the Que Publishing books Networking with Microsoft Windows Vista, and Build It. Fix It. Own It. A Beginner’s Guide to Building and Upgrading a PC. Paul is also the proprietor of Word Spy (www.wordspy.com) a website devoted to tracking new words and phrases as they enter the English language. Please feel free to drop by Paul’s personal website at www.mcfedries.com.
In this Introduction
Hundreds of millions of people use Windows every day, and it’s a safe bet that some of them would not describe themselves as happy Windows campers. Regardless of skill level, most people have something they dislike about Windows, and they often have a whole laundry list of gripes. “Why can’t Windows do this rather than that?” “Why does Windows do X instead of Y?” “Wouldn’t it be great if Windows could do Z?” Scratch the surface of most Windows users and you’ll come upon a seething cauldron of unmet needs, unrequited desires, and unending frustration at being stuck with Windows the way it is.
However, a funny thing happens when you tell people that it doesn’t have to be this way, that they don’t have to put up with the out-of-the-box Windows experience: An initial skepticism soon gives way and their eyes light up with an almost forgotten feeling—hope. Specifically, the hope that they really can make Windows smarter, safer, faster, more flexible, and more aligned to their needs.
The secret behind this hope? Tweaks, tweaks, and more tweaks! Most people think that Windows is set in stone, but that apparently solid surface is really just a thin veneer that Microsoft slaps onto Windows to ensure that new and fumble-fingered users don’t get into trouble. Strip off that veneer and a whole world comes into view, one that’s eminently tweakable, moddable, hackable, customizable, and personalizable. Within this world lie tools and technologies that anyone can use to tweak and tune almost every aspect of Windows, from startup to shutdown, from the interface to the Internet, from security to scripting.
Tweak It and Freak It: A Killer Guide to Making Windows Run Your Way is your guide to this tweakable Windows landscape. With a lighthearted and lightly irreverent tone, and with a bare minimum of jargon and technical claptrap, this book takes you through hundreds of useful, unique, and easy tweaks designed to improve Windows Vista and Windows XP. The key words here are useful, unique, and easy:
My goal with this book is to empower you to take a hands-on, do-it-yourself approach to tweaking Windows. In the end, you’ll no longer have a version of Windows that Microsoft thinks you should have, but rather a tweaked and tuned version that suits the way you work and play.
This book is aimed at Windows users who have a gripe, a beef, or an ax to grind and are looking for ways to overcome their Windows woes and shortcomings with targeted, easy-to-implement tweaks and tune-ups. This book will also appeal to curious users who want to travel down different Windows roads, rebellious users who want to thumb their noses at standard-issue Windows techniques, and power users who want to get the most of Windows.
To that end, this book includes the following features:
To make your life easier, this book includes various features and conventions that help you get the most out of this book:
Throughout the book, I’ve broken many building, upgrading, and repairing tasks into easy-to-follow step-by-step procedures.
Things you type
Whenever I suggest that you type something, what you type appears in a bold monospace font.
Filenames, folder names, and code
These things appear in a monospace font.
Commands and their syntax use the monospace font, too. Command placeholders (which stand for what you actually type) appear in an italic monospace font.
Pull-down menu commands
I use the following style for all application menu commands: Menu, Command, where Menu is the name of the menu you pull down and Command is the name of the command you select. Here’s an example: File, Open. This means that you pull down the File menu and select the Open command.
This book also uses the following boxes to draw your attention to important (or merely interesting) information:
Note - ?The Note box presents asides that give you more information about the current topic. These tidbits provide extra insights that offer a better understanding of the task.
Tip - The Tip box tells you about methods that are easier, faster, or more efficient than the standard methods.
Caution - The all-important Caution box tells you about potential accidents waiting to happen. There are always ways to mess things up when you're working with computers. These boxes help you avoid those traps and pitfalls.
I had such a good time writing this book that I actually ended up writing too much! Way too much, in fact, but that’s not a problem in this day and age because what wouldn’t fit between the covers of the book can easily fit between the covers of my website. And that’s just what I’ve done: Six of this book’s chapters are available online at my site. Just point your favorite web browser to http://www.mcfedries.com/TweakItFreakIt.
These files are also freely available from Que Publishing at http://www.informit.com/title/0789738228. There, you’ll also find information on Que’s other products.
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