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Introduction - Pg. xii

xii Introduction Never let a computer know you're in a hurry. -- Anonymous The world's gardeners have told us for years that if you want to keep your plants healthy and happy, then you should talk to them in a kindly, soothing voice. The world's gardeners are, I suspect, an eccentric bunch, but who can argue with their success? Certainly not me, so perhaps that's why I've taken to talking to my computer using the same gentle, comforting tones. "Now, my good fellow, I have a very important deadline tomorrow, oh yes, and I just need you to be a good boy and not crash between now and then. Okey-doke?" (This is made much easier by the fact that I work at home.) I think that, subconsciously, I view my computer as though it's the electronic equivalent of some deranged lunatic who'll snap at the least provocation. Or perhaps I see it as more of a fragile, high- strung, Southern belle type, a digital Blanche DuBois who is depending on the kindness of a stranger (that is to say, me) to keep it together. Of course, what's really happening here is that years of using various incarnations of Windows have made me certifiably paranoid. I've simply come to expect that Win-dows will do something weird or toss me some semicomprehensible message that will have me scratching my head for hours. So even though it has been well over 10 years since Windows 3.0 was foisted upon an unsuspecting world, Windows remains both devilishly difficult and fiendishly fickle. Windows can, in other words, make any of us feel, temporarily, like a complete idiot. That, in the end, is why I wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Windows XP . My goal here is to help you and Windows XP get along. If you aren't a computer wizard (and don't even want to be one), this book is for you; if you have a job to do--a job that includes working with Windows XP--and you just want to get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible, this book is for you; if you don't want to learn about Windows XP using absurdly serious, put-a-crease-in-your-brow-and-we'll-begin tu- torials, this book is for you. No experience with Windows XP? No problem. In fact, this book doesn't assume you have any previous experience with any version of Windows. I begin each topic at the beginning and build your knowledge from there. So even if you've never used a computer before, this book will get you through those crucial (and scary) early stages. No time? No problem. With The Complete Idiot's Guide to Windows XP , you get just the facts you need--not everything there is to know. This means I avoid long-winded discussions of boring, tech- nical details. Instead, you get all the information in short, easy-to-digest chunks that you can quickly skim through to find just the tidbits you need.