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Originally published Friday, June 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM


Advisor notification helps manage add-ons

Q: Is there a way to disable the "performance advisor popup" that loads at the startup of Internet Explorer 9? Once again, Microsoft has...

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Q: Is there a way to disable the "performance advisor popup" that loads at the startup of Internet Explorer 9? Once again, Microsoft has given its users something they don't need and didn't ask for. It actually says one can speed up browsing by disabling certain add-ons. This seems a little redundant, as under Tools, there is a Manage Add-ons option.

— James Johnson,

Tigard, Ore.

A: I assume you're talking about the Add-on Performance Adviser.

The more add-ons you have installed to use with the browser, the slower the browser will get. That Performance Advisor popup is actually a way for you to easily access the Manage Add-ons utility — with a twist.

The popup, unlike Manage Add-ons, lets you set a delay threshold that will trigger the popup. By default, it is set to 0.2 seconds. In other words, if you enable an add-on that takes longer than 0.2 seconds to load you'll get the popup. If you don't want to see the popup, simply set the threshold to, say, 1 second and you'll probably never see it again.

The drawback is that you may want to see it again — if you want to change the threshold. And there's no way to get it to show apart from editing the Windows registry. To do so, launch regedit.exe — found in the Windows directory — and navigate to Computer — HKEY_CURRENT_USER — Software — Microsoft — Internet Explorer — MAO Settings. In the window to the right, double-click on AddonLoadTimeThreshold value. In the Edit DWORD value window, change Base to Decimal and then change the Value entry to 200.

Q: We have had our Vista Dell XPS computer in the shop twice recently for a virus. We have the System Mechanic program. Would it be OK to install SuperAntispyware and Malwareybytes also to help prevent viruses?

Also, since we had it "fixed," we get music coming through for some reason. Any ideas?

— Joy Brimhall

A: First things first. You haven't mentioned that you are running an anti-virus program, and none of the programs you cite is an anti-virus program. System Mechanic is a utility that looks for and fixes a variety of things that inhibit the computer's performance. But it doesn't offer protection from viruses.

So, yes, please make sure you have a decent anti-virus program running. And, yes, I do recommend running an anti-spyware program as well. Both types of applications are needed.

As for that music you're hearing, it's hard to say what the cause might be. If you have external speakers and you're using poorly shielded wires they may be picking up radio signals.

If you don't have external speakers, the most likely cause is that you've installed a program or gadget that accesses an Internet radio channel.

Q: I run Windows XP on an HP PC. A couple of days ago I loaded a blank DVD to burn some media.

However, it would not burn. The blank disk would not eject until I used a paper clip to manually open the tray. Furthermore, whenever I try to play recorded CDs or DVDs, they are not recognized and nothing can be played in the drive. I do not know a lot about how to repair this but have tried updating drivers. I have re-booted several times, as well. It may be that the drive has just worn out and no longer works. Any ideas on what I can do?

— Ted Williams

A: Yes, I'd say the drive is toast. It's not uncommon for perfectly good drives to not recognize a blank writeable CD or DVD. But in such cases it should still eject the CD when so commanded. The good news is that CD/DVD drives are really inexpensive.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to or, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at


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