Online comics

I love reading the funnies. I’m subscribed to three separate services which send my favorite comics by email every day. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy reading them online as much as I did in the newspaper, but in fact email funnies are better, because I don’t have to even catch a glimpse of the ones I hate. (I remember reading a funny little tidbit by some guy who felt the same way – how just seeing a comic he hated drove him nuts. Can’t remember who it was.)

Anyway, some of my favorites, in no particular order, are Sherman’s Lagoon, Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, Monty, The Duplex, (Th)ink, Calvin and Hobbes (even as reruns), and Bliss (which I really miss!) I recently started reading Six Chix, Tod the Dinosaur, Pardon My Planet, TOBY, Frazz, and Graffiti, but I haven’t made up my mind about them yet.

As of today, I’m also a fan of Suzy Becker, whom I learned about from Hilary Price, cartoonist of Rhymes With Orange. So thanks for that, Ms. Price! 🙂

When I was a kid, I *loved* Garfield, but now it’s part of the can’t-even-stand-to-catch-sight-of-it group.

Disable IE Information Bar

I hate the Internet Explorer information bar with a passion. You know the one, it says stuff like “Your security settings do not allow websites to use ActiveX controls installed on your computer,” and I’ve done about a million searches trying to find out how to disable it. The answer is invariably “go into options and enable ActiveX for scripting.” The problem with this solution is that it assumes I want ActiveX to work, when in fact, I deliberately disabled it because I don’t want Flash to run in IE, but I do want it to run in FireFox. Anyway, the good news is I finally figured out how to get rid of it.

1. Download TweakUI*

2. Back up your files and registry. I’ve never had a problem, but there’s no reason to take any risks.

3. Start TweakUI. Click + next to About, then Policy, then the Run Group Policy Editor button.

4. Browse to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Security Features > Information Bar

5. Open Internet Explorer Processes and select Disabled, then do the same for All Processes.

6. Restart IE and no more Information Bar!

*TweakUI has all kinds of fun options, like the ability to prevent applications from stealing focus and get rid of otherwise undeletable desktop icons.

Read all the French magazines you can handle

Last week I subscribed to the Éco-forfait WWF illimité, a new option from French publisher Relay that allows you to download as many of their 400 French magazines as you can read, plus donates a euro a month of your 18-euro subscription to the World Wildlife Fund. I downloaded over 20 magazines on news, culture, food, wine… it’s fantastic. For info, see the bottom-left corner of the Relay site.

Amazon Kindle

While I was in New York, I received my Kindle in the mail, and I absolutely love it. The books download very quickly, the screen is easy to read, it’s lightweight… everything is good. Plus, it’s amazing to hold this device that is about the size of one book and know that it can hold 200! Sure cuts down on luggage. Of course, I can’t use the wireless feature in France, but all I have to do is attach the Kindle to my computer and transfer the new books that way. All in all, a great buy.

Going backwards, technologically

I’ve been working full-time online since New Year’s Day 2000. I made do with dial-up internet until just a couple of years ago, when I was able to get cable. Now that I’m moving to Costa Rica, I’ll be back to dial-up, which is going to be really difficult. I’m trying to download all of the patches and software updates I can find while I still have high-speed access – fun, fun, fun. 😉

Free MP3s

Do you have a favorite site for downloading music? I’ve tried iTunes and I just can’t stand having it installed on my computer. Someone recommended LimeWire to me, but I don’t really get it. I’ve had some luck just Googling the name/artist of songs I want, but I still have a list of several dozen that I can’t find. Any suggestions?

Google’s Gmail

Every once in a while, I glance at the Google blog, just to see what they’re on about. I found their It’s the little things in Gmail post rather annoying. I mean sure, I like some of the features they mention, but there are even littler things I’d like (and have requested), such as the ability to sort my inbox by date or by title, and a way to remove the chat folder (even though I have my interface set to “standard without chat,” there’s a stupid chat folder sitting there). These are little things, but they annoy me big time.

I do love Gmail, though, and have invitations if anyone wants to give it a try.


So I bit the bullet and downloaded IE7. Despite its many flaws, I liked Internet Explorer 6, but I was very worried about IE7. I gave Firefox and Opera another try, but I just don’t like them, particularly the fact that my wonderful discovery on making tooltips invisible didn’t work in Firefox. So this weekend I backed up my whole computer and downloaded IE7. The installation went fine, though I had to reinstall a couple of other programs, including Microsoft Money.

There are some things that are better: the tabbed interface, though I’m still not used to having to look at the top of the screen to see the open windows, rather than the bottom; when I go to Gmail, I no longer get a blank screen and have to refresh; and when I hover over a link, I always see the URL in my status bar (for some reason, certain links didn’t show in IE6), rather than having to right-click > view properties. On the other hand, IE7 is far less customizable than Microsoft claims. I hate the security alerts, but managed to disabled most of them. I also figured out how to do some of the customizing I needed – I’ll share more about all of that later.

Disable tooltips!

For years now, I have been annoyed and exasperated by tooltips in Windows XP. They pop up unexpectedly, obscuring what I’m trying to read (in Internet Explorer, on my desktop, in the Control Panel) or type (in FrontPage – why must it tell me to use ctrl+click every time I hover over a link? After 7 years of web design, I know, believe me). Most of the time, tooltips are worthless. For years I have been trying to find a way to disable them, with little success. Tweak UI (a Windows configuration utility that I highly recommend) helps some, and there are various registry hacks that get rid of a few of more, but nothing that disables all of them. Today, I discovered a brilliant piece of software called AlphaXP. While it doesn’t disable tooltips, it does the next best thing: it makes them invisible.

AlphaXP actually has a whole bunch of features related to transparency, but the only one I care about is the one that lets you set the transparency of tooltips. Putting it at 100% makes them invisible. It’s not free, but the $15 price tag is well worth the disappearance of my number 1 Windows pet peeve. Note that the “lite” (free) version of the software doesn’t offer this feature, though I’m sure it’s a fine program for other transparency needs.

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