Langa Letter: Ten More Ways To Make Windows XP Run Better
Fred Langa examines free add-ons and utilities that further refine and improve your operating system.
ClearType lets you adjust the boldness or opacity of your on-screen fonts, resulting in more readable type on some systems--especially on laptops and PCs with flat-screen LCD displays.
ClearType is built into XP; the basic on/off control is part of the Display/Properties/Appearance/Effects menu. But you'll get far better control of ClearType by visiting this page to activate it and to choose the specific settings that work best on your system.
"Wntipcfg" is the "Windows NT IP Configuration" Tool; a graphical, point-and-click way to control and get information about your IP configuration. It replaces XP's built-in command-line tool, which is harder to use.
Once installed, Wntipcfg lets you easily see the addresses of any/all network cards in your system; to see how long each address is good for; and if you wish, to force the address to be released and renewed on demand. (This can be a fast and easy way to change your numeric Internet address, making it harder for hackers to find you.)
Wntipcfg is free. The download and additional information is here.
Limit "Universal Plug And Play" Support
This and the following two items are free downloads from Internet guru Steve Gibson.
"Universal Plug And Play," or uPnP, is a network-oriented outgrowth of the more familiar basic PnP (Plug and Play) hardware standard from the mid-1990s. UPnP will probably become more important in the future, but relatively few devices and services make use of it now. If it's not something you use (I don't) it makes sense to disable uPnP temporarily. This lets your firewall close--and preferably stealth--the uPnP port, so crackers can't break in, and in fact can't even see that there's a PC online if they look for that port.
The easiest way to control uPnP is with Steve Gibson's tiny, free "UnPlug n' Pray" utility, which I've installed on all my PCs. When you run it, the software tells you if uPnP is active; and if it is, offers to disable it nondestructively. Or, if uPnP is disabled, the utility lets you turn it back on with a click. This way, you can turn off uPnP now and yet reactive it easily on demand at any point in the future, should you need to.
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