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Issue #202: June 5, 2011

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Dear, sweet, kind, gentle Geeks: I’d like to use a bit of precious column space to remind you that I.G.T.M. is a just a newspaper column.  There are a few people out there in Geek-land who like to think of it as a computer repair business, and who have unreasonable expectations of what they’ll get when they e-mail me.  Or when they call me during dinner.  Or when they come to my home (yes, it has actually happened).  As much as I love my Geeks and helping you to get your computers humming along, please understand that I am not in the business of providing personalized service 24×7.  By all means, keep writing in with your questions, as they are the fuel that has driven this column for nearly four years.  But please don’t get angry with me if I don’t e-mail you back within a few minutes, or if I don’t offer to jump in my truck and drive across town at 7:00 PM at night to get your Wi-Fi back online.  Thanks for your understanding.  We now return you to this week’s issue, already in progress.

Q: I recently got suckered into installing Internet Explorer 9, and now I can’t access any of the features that I used to use!  The menus are gone, the refresh button is gone, the zoom feature is gone.  Like you always say – “Thanks, Bill!”  Can you tell me how to get this stuff back, or should I just go back to my old version? 

– Jeff C.
Niceville, Fla

A: One thing about popular software is that it’s never the same for very long.  Microsoft in particular has a habit of studying how people use their software, and then trying to adapt and change it to meet how they perceive people using it.  That’s a nice goal, however it makes for a constantly changing playing field for many who would rather see what they already have simply working properly than see it get a complete makeover, complete with new bugs and security holes.  With that having been said, IE9 is actually not a bad little upgrade.  It’s faster than previous versions, and Microsoft seems to have made a concerted effort to get the browser out of the way to make more room for the web content that you’re after in the first place.  All it takes is a little reading to learn how to find the stuff they’ve hidden.  Menus can be placed back on the screen if you like, but they are a single keystroke away.  Just hit ALT, and they pop right up, then conveniently hide again until you need them again.  The refresh function is now integrated into the Address bar.  To refresh, click the circular arrow; or even easier, just hit <F5>.  Zooming is available via the View menu, by pressing <Ctrl> while using the mouse’s center wheel, or via several shortcut keys, such as <Ctrl>+0 to return to standard zoom. 

Well, it’s hurricane season again, for those of us who live along the coast.  Your computer and the Internet are some of the most important tools in your storm preparedness arsenal.  Here are some useful links for you to add to your favorites list that may come in handy in the months to come:

National Hurricane Center:  www.nhc.noaa.gov

Very Geeky Hurricane Tracker: StormPulse.com

National Doppler Radar: radar.weather.gov

Hurricane Names for the next 5 years: tinyurl.com/HurcNames

General Hurricane Information: www.hurricane.com

That last one contains lots of cool links to such necessary topics as hurricane preparation checklists, what to put in a Hurricane Supply Kit, places to sign up for e-mail advisories of developing storms, and much more.

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