Most readers would probably agree that staying informed isn’t as simple as it once was. Since you’re reading this email newsletter commentary, it’s likely that you regularly use email for information-gathering purposes. And email isn’t a bad choice.

I get an average of 5000 email messages per week: 60 percent is spam, which is handled by filters and various antispam tools; the other 1500 to 2000 messages I get each week are messages that I need to at least skim for content, which means I spend about two hours daily dealing with email. However, my point isn't about how to deal with email but rather how to efficiently gather information. For me, the most efficient way is to join email membership lists, read blogs, and keep track of news sites. To do so, I use a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) client and RSS feeds.

RSS clients provide you with an easy-to-scan list of headlines and links to information posted to sites, blogs, and newsgroups that you've subscribed to. Although you'll still receive unwanted information from many publicly subscribed feeds, you can easily scan the headings to choose the data that you find useful. The information in a feed can range from complete news stories or technical bulletins to a simple notification of a Web site update.

Google, MSN, and Yahoo! offer the ability to link RSS feeds to your personal pages on those sites. Therefore, you can access the information feed from any computer connected to the Internet, and you don't need to use an explicit RSS client. Personally, I use an RSS client because it gives me more detailed control over the feeds and it's easier for me to use and navigate, but plenty of folks are happy with the Web-based approach. Adding and deleting RSS feeds from your client is easy, and it's much simpler than subscribing and unsubscribing to email lists.

Microsoft offers a guide to using RSS for Microsoft feeds, and you can access it at the URL below. The site also has links to a few RSS readers that Microsoft has tested with its feeds (and with Windows) to assure that they work properly. Many other RSS readers are available, some as freeware and others as commercial products, so you can pick the levels of features and functionality you want in your RSS client. I've listed another URL where you'll find more information about RSS, as well as links to RSS feeds about Microsoft products and technologies. I've also listed a link to RSS feeds for "Windows IT Pro" columns, news, and commentary. As a consumer of Internet-based information, you owe it to yourself to give RSS a look.

Microsoft RSS feeds: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/guide/rss.mspx

Information about RSS and specific Microsoft RSS feeds: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/rss/default.mspx

"Windows IT Pro" RSS feeds for columns, news, and commentary: http://www.windowsitpro.com/rss

Tip--This week, I was able to solve a problem that one of my clients was having with the Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) uninstall process. Despite assurances from both the software vendor and me, my client was sure that the SP2 update was causing his business software to misbehave. So, on his own initiative, he decided to start removing SP2 from his computers.

I got involved when I received a late-evening plea for help over the phone. It seemed that after the uninstall, my client's computers were rebooting to a screen with no taskbar. A little research showed me that this was a known (and easily solved) problem.

Apparently, SP2 uninstall fails to correctly rewrite data on a specific registry key. Writing the correct data to that key solves the problem.

In the absence of a taskbar, launch your registry editor by using the Task Manager File | New Task (Run) command.

1. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\RpcSs 2. In the right pane, double-click ObjectName. 3. Change the value data from NT Authority\Network Service to LocalSystem. 4. Click OK. 5. Exit the editor, and reboot.

For what it's worth, removing SP2 didn't solve my client’s problem; the cause turned out to be a driver problem.