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September 30, 1996

Slide apps away from the Taskbar with freeware

The Taskbar in Windows 95 has always been a bit awkward to use. Microsoft Corp. wanted to place it at the top of the screen -- like, ahem, the Macintosh -- but it could never figure out a way to keep the title bars of applications from getting covered up underneath the bar. Because such a title bar is hidden, the window can't be moved down and displayed normally. Microsoft "solved" this problem by making the Taskbar default to the bottom of the screen, from which menus pop up, rather than down as expected.

Many people, myself included, prefer the Taskbar on top, where it remains close to the menus of applications. Of course, you can always right-click the bar, click Properties, then turn on AutoHide and Always on Top to enable you to reach the Taskbar only when necessary. But now there's a better way.

ShoveIt is a freeware program that automatically pushes applications' title bars out from under the Taskbar when needed. To get it, set your Web browser to

This site, run by Phil Hord, a software engineer at Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc., also features Wiper95, which minimizes and restores all windows with a single click, and KeyBlock, which turns off key combinations, such as Ctrl+Alt+Delete, for kiosk applications.

My thanks to David Lewis for raving about these programs.

Everybody's a comic

My co-author Davis Straub and I talked about the new edition of Windows 95 Secrets with Internet users in real time on Sept. 12 using Microsoft Comic Chat.

This program, released on Microsoft's Web site a few weeks ago, depicts people as cartoon characters typing to each other using Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The program assigns the characters, draws the balloons, and scales each frame automatically. I found the comic characters' dialog to be more fun than watching drab text scroll down my screen.

The fragment of conversation shown below is from Talk City, a moderated IRC site that hosts numerous topics. To participate, set Netscape Navigator 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0 to and download EZTalk Java chat client.

To use Comic Chat, go to and follow the instructions for downloading.

The new edition of the book, Windows 95 Secrets Gold (list price $50), has updated information on a separate CD-ROM. The full 1,000 pages of text are online and can be integrated with Windows 95 Help. The set is available in bookstores or by calling IDG Books at (800) 762-2974. If you already have the book, the updated information is available alone on the CD (list price $20).

Brian Livingston is the coauthor of the new Windows 95 Secrets and author of three other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

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Copyright © 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


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