[AI] The computer helper: Taming your pesky PC

vishnu ramchandani vishnuhappy at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 16 23:33:27 EDT 2007

The computer helper: Taming your pesky PC 


Washington: Remember the last time you booted your PC
and it left you alone to get your work done - without
messages or beeps or dialogue boxes asking you
to grant permission for this or that? Those days seem
to be long gone. 

Matters have only gotten worse with the introduction
of Windows Vista, which has brought the problem of
PC-related work interruptions to a new level. How
can you get rid of the beeps and pings and
work-stopping messages? Read on for some answers. 

Q: My Windows computer makes a beep or a noise every
time I make a little mistake. How can I turn these
sounds off without losing my ability to hear my

A: Good news: the sounds Windows makes for various
"system events" - including annoying you with a beep
when you make a mistake - are separate from the
audio controls that allow you to hear your music. So
all you need to do is to turn off the sounds for
system events. 

Here's how. Open the Windows Control Panel, and open
the Sounds and Audio Devices section. In Vista, open
Hardware and Sound, and then click Sound. From
the resulting Sounds dialogue box, click the Sounds
tab and use the Sound Scheme drop-down list box to
select the No Sounds option. Confirm your choice
if asked, and then click OK to exit. 

>From that point on, Windows should not bother you with
beeps when you make an error, but you will still hear
music from audio CDs, movies, and MP3 files.

Q: Windows Vista is driving me mad with these dialog
boxes that ask me to grant permission each time I
install a program or perform other tasks. How can
I prevent this? 

A: You need to turn off Vista's User Account Control,
otherwise known as UAC. UAC is designed to alert you
whenever a program initiates an action that can
make changes to your system. These actions can include
installing programs, deleting certain files, or
changing installations. 

It's easy to disable UAC if you do not care for these
prompts. Open Vista's Control Panel and type UAC into
the search bar at the top of the screen and
then select the link labelled Turn User Account
Control (UAC) on or off. Follow the instructions for
turning UAC off. 

Remember, however, that UAC is an important part of
the security enhancements provided by Windows Vista,
so turning UAC off leaves you vulnerable to malware
attacks in the same way that Windows XP did, to some
extent. UAC prompts will be most annoying when you
first configure a system, since you'll be installing
lots of applications, but once your system is fully
configured, you should experience relatively few
annoyances due to UAC. 

Q: How can I get rid of the balloons in the taskbar of
XP that tell me when some software or device has done

A: What you're referring to are notification balloons
common in both XP and Vista. They're designed to alert
you when a change has been or is being made
to your system, when downloaded updates are ready to
be installed, or when changes have occurred to your
system behind the scenes. 

As you've discovered, however, they can be annoying if
they do not contain information that's useful to you.
For instance, if you deliberately turn off
the Windows firewall, you probably do not want a
notification balloon telling you that the Windows
firewall is not active. 

Microsoft will have you alter a setting in the
complicated system registry, as explained in this tech

But in XP, there's an easier way. Download and install
Tweak UI for XP from this location:
http://World Wide

Once installed, open Tweak UI from the Windows Start
menu. Select Taskbar and Start Menu and remove the
check mark in the box labelled Enable Balloon Tips.
Click OK to exit. 

In Vista, open the Start menu, and type gpedit.msc.
Press Enter. In the resulting dialog box, navigate to
User Configuration, Administrative Templates,
Start Menu, and Taskbar. Enable the option labelled
Remove Balloon Tips on Start Menu. Click OK and you're

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