5 Tips Give Your Vista PC The Personal Touch

It's time to add some more sophisticated options to your Vista palette.
>> Shut Off UACs: That would be User Account Controls, warnings that are intended to prevent you from installing spyware and virus-laden programs. In practice, they distinguish not a whit between authorized apps from major vendors and worms written by the kid down the street, and all too often cry wolf. UACs are managed via Vista's Windows Security Center.

You can shut off the UACs using the taskbar's Windows Security Alerts icon as your starting point. You also can get to the Windows Security Center via the Control panel. Move through Start > Control Panel > Check this computer's security status. Next, click on the left-side link within the dialog box, "Change the way Security Center alerts me." That opens the "Do you want to be notified of security issues?" box. To kill the UAC notifications, select "Don't notify me and don't display the icon."

While ditching the UACs gets rid of a nuisance, it leaves unaddressed the very real problem of Vista security. So if you're going to do this, you'll need to install a separate, heavy-duty security program.

Smartflip's rotating view of apps

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Smartflip's rotating view of apps
>> myFireFox: Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox have been the subject of many comparisons. But while Firefox once held the lead in terms of look and feel, it's been leapfrogged by IE7. One solution, which melds the performance of Firefox with the freshened presentation of IE, is myFireFox, an IE7 theme simulator found on Mozilla's add-on site.

A couple of pointers: You have to be in Firefox to install myFireFox. Enable the theme-shifter by going to Firefox's "Add-ons" menu under "Tools" (click "Use Theme"). When you relaunch Firefox, you'll see that the forward/back navigation toolbar has adopted the IE7 theme, but you'll wonder about the absence of the "favorites" and some other icons. To get them to appear, click on Firefox's file menu and open a new tab. Overall, it's a nice thematic addition to a browser that's still the one to beat.

>> Vista Sidebar Gadgets: There's an easy way to broaden your choice of Vista Sidebar Gadgets. The paucity of Gadgets was a serious issue at Vista's launch in January. The basic OS install includes only a baker's dozen of the tiny applets, which are designed to reside permanently on your desktop and keep you updated on time, date, weather, stock prices, and your CPU's processing load.

Now the Gadget shortage is a thing of the past. Microsoft's Windows Live gallery includes 37 pages of Vista Gadgets, including such novelties as a Dual-Core CPU meter and a Windows Mail applet, which lets you monitor your e-mail from the Sidebar. Want more? Then try a free tool from Mesa Dynamics called Amnesty Generator, which converts Google gadgets for use with Vista.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer