A simple way to dial up a favorite radio station

ASK JIM

March 08, 2007|By JIM COATES | JIM COATES,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I really enjoy listening over the Internet to radio station KKJZ in Long Beach, Calif. I stream it through the Windows Media Player, where it is one of a great number of items, including songs, play lists and videos. There must be an easier way to get to that one station than click on find URL, find favorites, browse favorites, then find the KKJZ file among all the files and click on it.

- Wayne S. Shapiro, aol.com

There is a way to put that radio station a single mouse-click away using a drag-and-drop technique favored by some folks who are utterly committed to accessing a single spot on the Internet and don't want to wade through bookmarks either in the Web browser or in the music player software.

You can create an icon for any Web page that can either reside on your monitor's desktop display or be tucked away in the Windows Quick Launch bar immediately to the right of the Start button.

A little-used feature in Web browsers running on Windows machines lets users go to the spot desired on a site, click once on the tiny icon in front of the listing in the browser's address box and then drag it to the desktop. On the desktop, that address (also called URL for uniform resource locator) will appear as an icon with the distinctive "E" used to activate the Microsoft Internet Explorer program itself. Thereafter, a click on that icon will take you to the exact page where you found it.

As a refinement to this strategy, some users place these special icons in a Quick Launch area in the task bar at the bottom of the screen to avoid losing them in cluttered desktop displays. Some Windows users have the Quick Launch toolbar activated from the beginning, but too many others don't and haven't heard of this handy tool.

To activate Quick Launch, give a right-click with the cursor on the taskbar just right of the Start button. In the pop-up display that appears, select Toolbars and then move down to put a check alongside the one for Quick Launch. This puts a few icons next to Start, including one to view the desktop with all open windows minimized and one for the Windows Media Player.

Few seem to know, however, that Quick Launch also can be used to hold special Web addresses.

I am at my wit's end with my two sons' computers. They both have IBM laptops and use them a lot for gaming, surfing the Web, instant messaging and, of course, schoolwork (ha!). Occasionally, I will use the laptops and always find they are riddled with spyware and viruses to the extent that they are almost unusable. I have bought software that takes care of viruses and spyware, but it never seemed to work the way it should. I don't want to add more software to the mix and would rather have a disk that I can use on any computer that disinfects the entire machine. I feel adding an anti-virus/anti-spyware program will just complicate things. Anything you might suggest would be most appreciated.

- Trey Reynolds, directorshipsearch.com

If I had that kind of magic bullet, I'd be out drag-racing with Bill Gates in our matching private Bombardier jets. But even though I'm a Ford Taurus kind of guy instead of a jetsetter, I can suggest a couple of steps that might satisfy your needs.

One of this pair of potential fixes does not require buying any additional software, as you desire. The other does require one more program, but it will simplify rather than complicate the situation.

The first suggestion is to back up any schoolwork and other data created on the machines. Then haul out the CDs with the system-restore software and bring these laggard laptops back to their original out-of-the-box state. For a couple of lads deep into games, text messaging, chats and Web surfing, this shouldn't be all that difficult.

The system restore could be done every six months or so, and your problems would be solved with each new start. However, doing this full system restore involves removing all of the software loaded onto the computer. Reinstalling a lot of programs can be a bother, so you might consider something like Symantec's Norton Ghost, a program that creates an exact duplicate of the hard drive and stores it on DVDs or an external USB hard drive.

If you take a clean machine fresh from a system restoration and then load all of the software and data you want, Ghost can create an exact copy of the drive at that happily unsullied point. Then down the road, after the machines have picked up a load of garbage, viruses and spyware, you can use the other side of the Ghost program to restore the hard drives once again.

Ghost was created way back in the pre-Windows days by technical support experts who used it to create a master hard-drive configuration and then place it on all of the computers used by a company, so everybody would be seeing the exact same thing on their screens.

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