Options – add $0.00

"Why isn't that included?" I always ask this after reading the options listed on the invoice page stuck to the inside of a new car window. "Who wouldn't add that option?" is often my next question.

The base model of a new car can look positively naked after running your finger down the list of expensive goodies that dealers hope you'll add to "dress up" your new car.

Some of the options seem so integral to the car's enjoyment or safety that I wonder which infamous auto-industry genius first thought of stripping them for separate sale as options. The idea was brilliant no matter how resentful it makes me feel.

Some car options are grouped so that in order to get one particular option, you must buy a package that includes options you may not want. To me, this feels like buying a puppy from an owner who somehow found a way to make fur an option -but only if you buy it packaged with a lifetime supply of leather spiked collars.

What if you purchased a product, and then discovered that a number of fantastic options, about which you never knew, were available for it? I'm talking about options that add fun, control, and safety -all for free! Well, you can. This product is Microsoft Windows XP, and I am willing to share its free options with you for only four easy payments of $29.99 if you log onto www.fleece-em.com.

OK, that's not a real web address (yet) and even though I could use the $119.96 from each of you, I'll share for free. You can thank me later.

Go to Microsoft.com. In the search box type powertoys and follow the top results link. You'll see a list of programs available for free download. These PowerToys add useful functionality to Windows XP. They can help you synchronize folders, resize images for email, magnify part of the screen and even use your webcam for time-lapse photography.

My favorite is called TweakUI (User Interface) which allows you to customize the appearance of your Windows environment in ways that would normally require direct, dangerous tampering with the Windows registry. TweakUI makes it easy and safe to fine tune mouse click speed, My Computer settings and over forty other Windows features that will dress up your "base model" Windows XP product at no extra cost.

PowerToys are created by developers outside of Microsoft, so tech support isn't available from Microsoft, but PowerToys have been tested to be safe enough for Microsoft to include on their web site. Enjoy.

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