How This Book Works
Most computer books are set up to teach you a whole program, from start to finish. Not this book. Instead, it gives you the cream of the crop, and each hint can stand on its own. While many of the hints are, in fact, inter-related (who would want to know about wireless Internet tricks without also finding out about security?), a lot of the hints here involve a single trick or solution that isn't related to any other hint in the book.
The cool thing about this arrangement is that you can just open the book anywhere , read a hint, marvel at how cool it is, and then jump back 63 pages to read about another amazing trick. Think of it as the "Choose Your Own Adventure" of computer books.
A Special Note: The Registry
Some of the hints in this book require you to work with the Registry , a vast database inside Windows XP that contains all your system settings and vital stats. Because you can edit the settings, the Registry is a very powerful tool for customizing XP. (In fact, you actually change the Registry all the time without knowing it. For example, whenever you change a setting using the Control Panel, behind the scenes XP changes the Registry to put that new setting into effect.)
If you've never used the Registry before, fear not ‚ you can easily master it. Chapter 15, " The Registry ," is devoted to teaching you exactly what you need to know to run the Registry tricks throughout this book. Despite the geeky nature of the Registry (and the weird language in the Registry hints), Chapter 15 is surprisingly digestible, and it walks you through the process for running the Registry tricks. Your grandmother could catch on in about 15 minutes. Seriously.