Network Places in Windows 7

By Dave Peiser

It seems that the big brains at Microsoft decided to change the way the "Network Places" function works in Windows 7. With WIndows XP, once you had a list of places you had visited, the list stayed in the Network Places list. Windows 7 dynamically creates this list based on what it sees is available on the network.

While one might think this is a good thing (only showing what it truly available on the network), it doesn't always work. In particular, if you have something funky going on and restart your network router, systems that were previously unavailable might become available, but they don't show up in the list. There's also no way to look at all systems in a workgroup.

So how to deal with this?

It is possible to create shortcuts to network locations that will stay available, just like they did in Windows XP. The following instructions will show you how to create a shortcut on your desktop that opens up this list. It is important that the items on this list are reachable on the network when you do this (for example, you can ping them or manually open a folder up with a run command). If you're not sure if the systems are available, just follow these instructions and if the instructions work, you should be fine!

Step 1.

Right-click on a blank area on your desktop. Select New / Shortcut

In the box, put:  explorer.exe shell:NetHood

Click Next

Change the name from explorer.exe to Network Places

Click Finish

Step 2.

Double-Click on this new shortcut. A blank window will open up

In the empty white area, right-click. Select New / Shortcut

For location, you will type the name of the computer you want to connect to, with \\ before the name. So if the computer you want to connect to is "JOESPC" then type \\JOESPC One thing to note here – sometimes systems have a long descriptive name, such as "Joe's Dell PC in the back bedroom". The long name will not work – you need to use the shorter windows name.

Click Next

Click Finish

If you have more locations you need access to, just repeat step 2. This list will now also appear if you go to "Computer" under a section labeled "Network Locations"

I want to give some credit for some of this post to the info I found in this thread: 

Please let me know if this works for you, or doesn't work for you!

Some Tips for Improving the Speed of Internet Explorer and Eliminating Error Messages

By Dave Peiser

Lately I’ve run into a number of situations where Internet Explorer is very slow or error messages are displayed every time the user exits. Some IT consultants might tell you to use Mozilla Firefox and stop messing around with Microsoft’s browser, but I see that as a last resort. There are a few things worth trying to improve the situation. Here is a list of things I do when troubleshooting slowness and errors:

  1. Run a spyware scan – If you haven’t scanned for spyware lately, it is quite possible that a deviant program has made its way onto your system and is slowing things down. The best program I recommend is Spyware Doctor. Great free programs are available at Search for Lavasoft Ad Aware or Spybot Search + Destroy. One thing to note: there are a lot of programs that claim to clean up spyware but actually are spyware themselves, so don’t automatically trust any vendor pushing anti-spyware software.
  2. If you’ve scanned for Spyware and things are still slow, disable all the Internet Explorer “Add-Ons” and see if this makes a difference. “Add-Ons” are small programs that run every time you use Internet Explorer, and they typically have something to do with bigger programs you’ve loaded on your system like Adobe Acrobat, a search program or antivirus program. You disable them by opening Internet Explorer and clicking on “Tools”. Then select “Manage Add-Ons”. Then “Enable or Disable Add-ons”. One by one, select an Add-On by clicking on it, and then click on Disable. Do this for all the add-ons and click OK. Close Internet Explorer and re-open it and see if this made a difference. If it did, then one-by-one, enable the add-ins until you figure out which one is causing problems. Or, just leave them all disabled, if nothing is missing that you care about.
  3. One culprit of late with Internet Explorer issues has been Adobe Acrobat. I’ve worked on several situations (including my own computer) where Acrobat caused error messages to occur when using Internet Explorer. This especially seemed to be caused when two versions of Acrobat were installed – both the free Acrobat Reader and a version that allows you to create PDFs (Standard or Pro). The solution is to uninstall all versions of Adobe Acrobat, confirm no Acrobat Add-ons are still in Internet Explorer, and then reinstall just one version of Acrobat.
  4. Another culprit is the Google Toolbar. I now have worked on two systems that had significant increases in speed with Internet Explorer after uninstalling the Google Toolbar. One system that was taking 30 seconds to load Internet Explorer was improved to a 1-2 second load. Amazing! Now, I don’t necessarily want to pick on Google. Other toolbars might do the same thing. I just haven’t had the chance to test this with other toolbars.

That’s my list. Please let me know if you have any suggestions to add to the list. (Click “comments” below this posting to make suggestions).

Technical update to my last post regarding using Gmail to filter spam

By Dave Peiser

Today, I tried following the advice from my March 21st post with a different customer, and noticed one  thing that needs to mentioned. I noticed a problem after setting things up: when my customer replied to emails, the emails had the gmail address as the "From" address. This wasn’t good, because the "From" address should be their address. The solution to this was to modify the email account settings (Tools/Account Settings) and put the address in the field labelled "E-mail address".