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September 26, 2002 - Vol. 2, Issue No. 32
By Scot Finnie
IN THIS ISSUE
According to Microsoft, there have been over five million downloads of Windows XP Service Pack 1 in the first two weeks of its availability. The company also says support calls have been fewer than anticipated.
But despite those high notes, I've received emails from many Scot’s Newsletter readers about problems they've had with SP1. There are always problems with any software that gets installed on millions of PCs. That's even more true of something like a service pack that isn't extensively beta tested. I've heard about woes that were real doozies, such as: unable to install SP1, unable to boot Windows after SP1 installation, instigates product activation, unable to install applications, crashing and instability, severe performance issues, and serious problems with AOL 6. But so far, those aren't clear trends with lots of people reporting the same thing. With many of the problems, uninstalling SP1 makes them go away.
But there are some issues that have been encountered pretty widely. Device driver issues, for one. Win XP with SP1 decides that a different device driver is required for this or that device, and the new driver causes a problem. (I've also personally seen the opposite, where a new driver solved a minor problem.) But another problem commonly befalls Outlook Express users who have configured multiple Identities. Apparently, they are unable to switch to a second identity. And some other people describe an inconsistent process where switching identities works sometimes but not others. Bess Huff, Neil J. Mackie, and several others described the problem exactly the same way. Neil wrote:
The problem I have with XP SP1 is that Outlook Express's "switch identity" no longer works. The program restarts but doesn't change identities. The workaround is changing the option to have Outlook Express start in a particular identity. If this is switched off then the "switch identity" works at the expense of having to choose an identity every time Outlook Express starts. There's a second difference with Outlook Express after SP1. Outlook Express used to launch with my inbox opened and newsgroups closed. After installing SP1 the reverse is true. Though minor, that's an annoying change.
The workaround Neil describes should be temporary while Microsoft delivers a patch or fix for the problem. I contacted the company, but it was still looking into the matter at press time. One or two people also reported to me that they had problems with losing Outlook Express data when they uninstalled SP1. I don't have a lot of detail about that, but I just wanted to warn OE multiple identity users that at least temporarily, it might be better to live with this problem until the details are sorted out.
The Java VM
Another perplexing area is the Java Virtual Machine that's included with XP Service Pack 1. First, I gave out some bad information last time. It was based on a conversation I had with someone at Microsoft, but I should have double checked it. The version of the JVM installed with SP1 is not v.1.4.0_01. Thanks to Dean Adams and Alex Nichols for pointing this out to me. Both believe that the SP1 JVM is 5.00.3805. Alex adds:
While SP1 includes the build 3805 MS Engine, it only installs it where there is no other Java VM in place on the system. It does not update any previous JVM. So if you have, say, version 3802 from February 2002, you will still have that version after SP1. You'll also still be exposed to the vulnerability for which build 3805 was released in a Critical Update in March. I hope Microsoft will take action. Meanwhile, the March Critical update will still appear in Windows update. You can also get it out of the SP1 Network version by running that through its extraction of files again, and copying MSJAVX86.EXE out of its temporary folder before proceeding or canceling. Then you can run it later.
There's been a lot of confusion too, because right after SP1 came out, Microsoft released a security patch that's available on Windows Update and AutoUpdate for its Java Virtual Machine. That patch is post SP1.
More than anything, I'm miffed that Microsoft didn't provide a separate way to uninstall the SP1-derived Java VM in Add or Remove Programs. The service pack installs the JVM without so much as a by your leave and then you're stuck with it to boot. Bad decision.
Some people say that SP1 does not install Microsoft's Java VM at all, regardless of whether there's a previous version of the JVM.
At this point, I don't know what's true. Since Microsoft has been mum to me on these points so far, I'll let you know when I know.
There are enough reports of serious problems with SP1 in the Microsoft newsgroups that, at this point, I'd have to recommend against installing SP1 until things shake out. There's just not enough advantage to it to bother. I have installed every critical update on Windows Update, and so have many, many other people. Most of us are having no problems there. That's the way to go for now.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in with their SP1 experiences. We're not done with this one yet, so keep the emails coming.
If you've learned about workarounds or fixes to problems caused by Windows XP Service Pack 1, please drop me a note and tell me about it.
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In Progress: Sygate Personal Firewall 5.0 Pro Review
I intended this week to deliver an in-depth review of Sygate Personal Firewall 5.0 Pro. The product has been hailed by PC World, Fred Langa, and many others, and I decided to really put it through its paces. I don't have the review this time because in testing it, a strange anomaly surfaced that Sygate's engineering crew and I have our heads together about and are trying to figure out. Because the research is still in progress, the review isn't ready to go. But, I can share this with you. After a few false starts, I was able to confirm that Sygate's firewall and intrusion-detection features provide excellent security protection. I'll have the lowdown for you in the next issue. In the meantime, I can share this much with you: If you're an ardent Sygate supporter, you have reason to be proud of your choice.
Norton Internet Security vs. PC Flank Follow-up
The final version of Norton Internet Security 2003 (NIS2003) is now installed and running here at the SFNL Labs. Look for a write-up in the Let's Fight Spam section (later in this issue) about NIS2003's new antispam features. And also, expect a full-blown review of this product in the near future.
I wanted to follow-up on the PC Flank vs. Norton Personal Firewall comments I made in the last issue of SFNL. PC Flank's stealth test uncovered a problem with Norton Personal Firewall 2002 and Norton Internet Security 2002 that I described last time. I also reported that in the new version of those two products, released since the last issue of Scot’s Newsletter, this problem would fixed, according to Symantec.
I tested it, and it is fixed. I don't want to over-emphasize the problem PC Flank discovered. I believe it to be relatively minor. On the other hand, I prefer the new behavior. This is the way things are supposed to work. I'm glad PC Flank made a point of this, and that Symantec responded.
Because of the whole experience, I've decided to add some of PC Flank's Stealth Test to the Scot’s Newsletter Firewall Test Suite. PC Flank has several other interesting tests that I'm also evaluating.
The Linksys Firewall Router Model BEFSX41
A few issues back I included an announcement in the Product Beat section about Linksys's new Firewall Router product, which is similar to the company's four-port broadband routers but includes true firewall features such as stateful inspection. Linksys promptly sent me an evaluation unit of the BEFSX41 and I tried it out for a few days. I ran into several problems with it -- enough that I had to pull it out of my production environment. None of the problems was terrible, but collectively they were more than just annoying. One problem, for example, was that I could no longer use an FTP client to access my website (or any FTP destination). I also had problems of random drop-offs of my AT&T Broadband connection. I couldn't be sure that was caused by the Linksys Firewall Router, but they stopped when I removed it.
Long and short, I'm not currently recommending this product. However, Linksys has just released a new firmware version which it believes will fix at least some of the issues I had, including the drop-off problem. I couldn't get to it in time for this issue, but I will report on it in the next issue. If the product seems ready, I'll also give you a full review.
ZoneAlarm Releases 3.1.395 Update
Following the release of ZoneAlarm 3.1 Pro, the Plus and Freeware versions of ZoneAlarm got a small incremental upgrade. If you're using the product, you probably got a pop-up window notifying you of the new code.
One of the things I can tell you about ZoneAlarm 3.1 in general, by the way, is that Zone Labs made product do a much better job of uninstalling itself. I recently had occasion to thoroughly uninstall ZA 3.1 Plus on one machine, and I was gratified to find that my job had already been done for me by the Zone Labs engineers. There are a handful of Registry entries left behind a folder log of your ZoneAlarm alerts, but near as I can tell they're harmless, and probably just make reinstalling, if that's what you intend to do, more convenient.
One thing I would like to see Zone Labs do is fully uninstall the firewall, but leave behind the decisions you've made to train it for application accesses of the Internet (including trusted networks) and at least some basic program settings. Before you install any firewall, you should uninstall all previous firewalls. That includes previous versions of ZoneAlarm, even if you're installing a newer version. A clean install of any firewall is very, very good practice indeed. But if you have to retrain your firewall, you may be loathe to go through all that again. All firewall developers need to make this easier for us. ZoneAlarm is not alone with this problem, but since it has the largest market share, it should take the lead.
On a related subject, with the 3.1 versions of ZoneAlarm all out there now, this is a good time to ask you about experiences with ZA 3.1. If you're using ZoneAlarm 3.1 Standard, Plus, or Pro, send me your comments, good or bad. Please include your actual version number, if possible. Also, it would be useful to know what CPU and operating system you're running.
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Norton Internet Security 2003
The newest spam-fighting product is a small set of functionality in Norton Internet Security 2003 (NIS2003) called Spam Alert. NIS2003 is just coming out right now, so this is brand new. I'm using and liking the simple NIS2003 spam feature as I write this. It's in no way a full-featured spam-fighting utility, though. It's very light weight. Part of the reason it's so simple is that Norton already sniffs your email for viruses and worms. It was easy for the company to add a signature-checking feature that automatically identifies about 70 percent (rough estimate) of the spam you get. When it identifies a potential spam message, all it does is modify the subject of the message by appending the phrase "Spam Alert:" to the beginning of the subject. And that's all Spam Alert does. Norton Internet Security's Help file explains how to configure Outlook, Outlook Express, or Eudora to automatically route any Spam Alert message to a local spam folder. (I call mine "Spam Slammer" but a more generic label might be "Junk Mail.") There's an Advanced dialog where you can configure custom spam-catching and message-permission filters -- although it's not all that easy to get to. And Norton Internet Security's LiveUpdate feature automatically downloads new spam signatures whenever the Norton folks create them.
Spam Alert isn't perfect. But in only a few days, it had trapped literally hundreds of spam messages in my mailbox. And it's just so painless because it's virtually invisible on your system. One caveat: It did tend to tag some things as spam that really aren't. But it's easy enough to keep an eye on that. All in all, it's a good stopgap while you're waiting for the real one to come along.
How YOU Fight Spam
About 100 people wrote me with their suggestions for fighting spam. I think we can all benefit from their experiences. Even so, 100 emails was a smaller number than I expected. If you've been holding out on me, please forward your thoughts on how to slam the spam.
From the initial suggestions -- excluding MailWasher (see the review that follows) and ChoiceMail -- the products or services below are th e ones most recommended by SFNL readers, starting with the most popular solutions. I believe all these products or services have at least a 30-day free trial so you can test it before you buy. And some are freeware or in free public beta.
1. Cloudmark's SpamNet, currently free while in beta
Notes: I would be very interested in this one if it supported Eudora Email. For the moment, it only supports Microsoft Outlook 2000 and XP, although an Outlook Express version is planned. Since it doesn't support Eudora, all I can really tell you right now is that SpamNet more than any other is getting raves from a lot of people. And there's good reason for that. SpamNet is community based. In other words, it's a peer-to-peer solution that automatically shares identified spammers with each other. The product integrates with Outlook, so there's no second program to work with too. If you're an Outlook user, I recommend checking this one first.
2. Sunbelt Software's IHateSpam, $29.95
Notes: This product also looks interesting, but it supports Outlook and Outlook Express only.
3. McAfee's SpamKiller, $39.95
Notes: A lot of SFNL readers are using this product right now. It's not the kind of product that engenders fanatic loyalty, but none of its users are giving up on it either.
4. James Farmer's SpamPal for Windows, freeware
5. Giant Company's Spam Inspector (was Postal Inspector), $19.95
6. Blue Squirrel Software's Spam Sleuth, $29.95
7. Spam Arrest's SpamArrest, $19.95 for six months of service
Notes: This is a lot like ChoiceMail (which I discussed in recent back issues), but without the local software. It has a Web-based configuration screen that controls your settings hosted on the Spam Arrest server. The primary drawback is that it can only handle one email account and configuring exceptions may be cumbersome. The advantage is that it's a pure service (there's no software to install) and so it's completely invisible.
Since the last issue of Scot’s Newsletter, I performed an extensive trial of MailWasher 1.32.9 (the latest "stable" version), the freeware product available from MailWasher.net. This product is a cult favorite. But after testing it, and giving it every chance, I had to hang it up.
The basic problem is in its underlying architecture. It's designed to poll your email before your email package does. I don't know about your emailer, but mine runs 24 x 7 and is configured to check mail every 8 minutes or so. Even when I configured MailWasher to check mail every three minutes and throttled Eudora back to every 12 minutes, that didn't help. Because, you see, MailWasher requires a lot of user mediation. You have to make decisions about each message awaiting you on the mail server and then click the Process Mail button before your mail package just goes ahead and snags your mail. An impossible task in my environment. Bottom line: MailWasher is designed for people who check email once or twice a day and/or who close their email program after each use. My guess is that it works quite well that way, judging by how many people have recommended it to me over the last six months.
MailWasher has some well thought out features. For one thing, it offers full-message-preview of messages that haven't come down from the server yet. That's a great aid for deciding whether something is spam or not. ChoiceMail should be able to do that. Also, MailWasher is very easy to understand and configure. And I like the feature that allows you to bounce mail back to spammers (although there are probably situations where that causes more trouble than it's worth). Perhaps its best feature, though, is the ability to access data from spam blacklists, such as SpamCop and ORDB. Of course, those lists are not infallible, and I know many companies, especially ISPs and newsletter authors or distributors, who have found themselves listed as spammers who in fact are not. But with MailWasher, you are in complete control of what gets marked as spam and what does not.
A couple of details about MailWasher that should be rectified in some future version. There is no easy way to allow an email message without applying it to the Friend's List (or white list). Sometimes you want to accept a message, but don't want 14 others from the same place tomorrow. The product also doesn't have a way (that I can figure out) to protect you from spam in your own name. It's very common these days for spammers to send you spam ... from you. That is, from your own valid email address. My guess is that could become even more common event in future. Finally, I could do without the large, annoying nag advertisement that perpetually runs at the top of the MailWasher program window. Enough already. You can disable this by sending the program author, Nick Bolton, $20 -- something he deserves. But I hope he comes up with another way to ask for it. Something a little less in your face.
Bolton notes on his website that MailWasher 2.0 with Hotmail support is due out soon. If there are any significant new features (other than Hotmail support), I'll look at the product again.
Finally, I mentioned in the last issue that several readers had written to tell me that MailWasher blocks my newsletter as potential spam. And After I wrote that, several more readers wrote to tell me that it doesn't block Scot’s Newsletter. I tested it with default MailWasher settings, and it did not block most issues of the newsletter. But it did tag one Text issue I tested as potential spam. I don't know why, since all the issues are very similar. I use a standard template. Since you have to process each sender manually, the first time anyway, it shouldn't be that difficult for most people to allow any newsletter they want to receive in MailWasher.
I know many of you want to tell me why I'm all wet about MailWasher. Feel free to do so.
[Read the first installment in the I Hate Spam series | Read the next installment.]
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The poll is closed now, so don't bother sending in any new responses, but 3,800 of you responded over a week and a half to my question: What's your primary operating system.
I found the results surprising. For example, Linux outscored Windows 95 and Windows 3.x combined. Windows XP outpolled all else; its users outnumber the sum of all Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE users. And Windows 2000 users, though fewer than Windows 98 SE users, aren't far behind. I goofed, and accidentally omitted a Windows NT answer, but only eight people wrote in Windows NT in the Other Operating System answer -- another surprise.
Here's the actual number of responses to last issue's poll question, what's your primary operating system:
Windows XP: 1,486
Windows 98 Second Edition: 1,018
Windows 2000: 631
Windows 98: 276
Windows Me: 232
Windows 95: 41
Mac OS X: 29
Windows NT: 8
Mac System: 4
Windows 3.x: 1
A few conclusions: The people currently running either Windows XP or Windows 2000 number 2,117 and are the majority of the SFNL readers responding to the poll. The combination of all Win9x operating system users, 95, 98, 98SE, and ME, is 1,585. Even though the Linux count is only 52, it's still a significant number. SFNL doesn't offer a ton of Linux coverage, after all. I expect that number to grow, and I hope to include more Linux coverage in the future. I was even more surprised by the number of Mac OS X responses, and it is similarly significant.
My takeaway from the poll is that I was right to add Windows XP coverage last year, and I will continue to do so. I will also not abandon Windows 98 any time soon, and Windows 2000 and Windows Me will both be covered here.
As I've written in the past, Windows 95 and Windows 3.x are being deemphasized by this newsletter. Windows NT isn't far behind them. And Windows Me will be next. But I've changed my mind about one thing: With the exception of Windows 3.x, all versions of Windows (but Windows 3.x) will be available for testing in the SFNL Labs for the foreseeable future. I recently upgraded my Windows 95 PC, reinstalling the seven-year-old operating system fresh and upgrading the system's RAM. I clean-installed Windows Me on another test machine. The newsletter's offices also sport several instances of Windows 98 and 98 Second Edition, and several Win XP machines, including both Home and Professional installations. Rounding that out are two Win2000 PCs and one NT 4.0 box. [Editor's note: Blah, blah, blah. We have way too many PCs! You should see how agitated Scot gets when I tell him I want more kids than computers. --Cyndy]
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1. Windows XP
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to firstname.lastname@example.org/snl and put "Next_Windows_XP" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
2. Linux (any version)
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to email@example.com/snl and put "Next_Linux" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
3. Macintosh OS X
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to firstname.lastname@example.org/snl and put "Next_Mac_OSX" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
4. Windows 2000
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to email@example.com/snl and put "Next_Windows_2000" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
5. Windows Me
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to firstname.lastname@example.org/snl and put "Next_Windows_Me" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
6. Windows 98 Second Edition
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to email@example.com/snl and put "Next_Windows_98SE" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
7. OS/2 (any version)
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to firstname.lastname@example.org/snl and put "Next_OS2" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
8. Unix (any version)
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to email@example.com/snl and put "Next_Unix" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
9. Other Operating System (please explain in message)
Click the link above and send the message. Or create an email to firstname.lastname@example.org/snl and put "Next_Other_OS" (without quotation marks) in the subject line.
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Making List Icon View the Default
Question: I am using Windows 98. When I invoke programs or shortcuts such as My Computer or My Documents, I want the display to show the "List" view-- not the "Folders" or "Icon" view. I would like that to be my default display-- all the time. Not just when I change it this time. Can that be done? --Bill Honeywell
Answer: There are two ways to solve this problem. If you look deeply into the folder options of any folder window, you should find a large button labeled "Like Current Folder." This button sets the default state of all folder windows to be like those of the current folder. So if you configure all the visible formatting and default behaviors of the current folder -- such as icon size, alignment, wrapping, toolbar customizations, status bar, and so on -- and then press this button, you will create the default you desire. Different versions of Windows put the Folder Options dialog in different places, but you'll find it somewhere on the menu of any open folder window. Windows XP changes the name of the button to "Apply to All Folders."
In some versions of Windows, Like Current Folder works most of the time. It may not apply to any folder that has "Web content" in folders enabled. In that case, you may be frustrated, because no matter how you twiddle the controls, your default settings may only be default in most of the folders, not all of them.
The second way to fix the problem works with older versions of Windows (such as Windows 95), that don't have the Like Current Folder button. You may also find it useful in newer versions of Windows because it's fast and easy. Follow these steps:
Drag and drop the C: drive out of My Computer onto the desktop. Close My Computer. Double-click the C: drive icon. Configure the view of that folder exactly as you like it. Then hold down the Ctrl, Alt, and Shift keys while simultaneously clicking the X box (the one that closes the folder) in the upper right corner of the C: folder window.
This should do the trick for you.
There's one caveat. Depending on how often you customize specific folder windows, you may find that Windows eventually forgets the default you created with Ctrl-Alt-Shift-X box. You may have to redo them once a week, once a month, or once a year. Windows 95 had a limited memory for such settings. Eventually that memory overflowed and it began overwriting older settings. --S.F.
Windows 98 SE Updates
Question: I bought a new PC in April 2000. It came with Windows 98 SE (v.4.10.2222) preinstalled. The motherboard had the infamous Intel 820 chip set with the Memory Transfer Hub problem that caused spontaneous shutdowns. As part of my attempt to repair the system, I reinstalled the operating system from the disc that came with the PC. Much to my chagrin it was not Win98SE but the original Windows 98 (v.4.10.1998). My dealer would not replace the CD. I bought the $19.95 Win98SE Updates CD direct from Microsoft and installed it on top of Win98 and was back in business. Eventually my dealer replaced my motherboard and the problems went away. My question is this: Would it be possible using the Windows 98 Updates CD to reinstall Windows without first installing the original Windows? Can I use the SE CD to Load SE as a clean install? Or do I have to buy the Win98SE Upgrade CD? --Sal Bashara
Answer: No, it is not possible to install Windows 98SE with the Updates CD without installing Win98 first. What's more, there were problems with that $20 Updates CD that could come back to haunt you at some future time. It was buggy. Nothing serious, but enough bugs to warrant avoiding it, as I cautioned Windows Insider readers to do back in the summer of 1999. My best advice to you is to go out and buy the Windows 98SE Upgrade CD ($90) while you still can. It isn't going to be around for much longer. --S.F.
XP Upgrade Drawbacks
Question: Hello! I just found your newsletter doing a Google search on installing Windows XP. A past SFNL article pointed out several things I did not know about installing Windows XP. I have one PC that has Windows 98 on it. I want to upgrade to Windows XP and so thought I had to buy the full version. When I read your Q&A it said that I could actually purchase the upgrade version and still do a clean install. Wonderful! I realize I need my Win98 CD to verify that I have a prior version, but once installed, will I ever need the Win 98 CD again? Even if I had to re-install win XP? To make sure I understand this correctly, is it true that the Upgrade version is the same as the Full version, just cheaper because of owning a previous windows version? --Melissa Kramer
Answer: The answer to your last question is ... almost. There are only very slight differences between the Upgrade and Full install versions of Windows XP Pro or Windows XP Home edition. The differences are sufficiently slight that they don't warrant the extra cost between the Upgrade and Full versions, assuming you have a previous version of Windows that is eligible for upgrade.
To answer your first question: The only time you would need your Windows 98 CD again is if you wiped your hard drive clean and tried to do a clean install of Windows XP again. That may sound like a remote possibility, but I don't think you should take it lightly. If a specific CD is required to reinstall any software in your system, it should be in your possession at all times. --S.F.
Upgrading Without a Win9x CD?
Question: Thanks for the continued great work on your newsletter. I find it a valuable and interesting tool. I have a question. I am ready to upgrade my home pc from Win 98 to Windows XP Home. I want to do a clean install. But since I will be using the upgrade version (saving ~$100.00 over the full version), the program has to go find proof that I am a legally licensed user of Windows 98. My PC came pre-loaded with the software and I have no CD to offer proof otherwise, hence I believe I must leave something behind, but what? Any suggestions or a point in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. --Cory Shoultz
Answer: I think you will have to buy the full version of Windows XP. You either have to perform an upgrade install or possess the CD to a previous version of Windows to do a clean install. As you know, if you had the Win 98 CD, setup would prompt you to insert that CD to prove your ownership of an approved previous version of Windows -- in other words, one that is eligible for the discount you pay on the Upgrade version of XP.
In your circumstance, I would try calling Microsoft's support line and explaining your situation. They might be able to help you. I would also suggest calling your PC maker, especially if you have a recovery CD from that company. It's possible that there's a specific way to authorize the upgrade that your PC maker provided for. --S.F.
Whither WinFax In SystemWorks 2003?
Question: Can you or will you comment on Symantec's decision not to include WinFax with System Works Pro? In the last couple of releases (2001 and 2002) they included at least the lite version which sufficed. I don t see it in the specs for 2003? --Steven R. Wilkinson
Answer: I asked Symantec to comment on this question, and here's the response I was given.--S.F.
WinFax Pro 10.02 continues to be available to customers as a full retail product. Every year we interview customers to see what new features or continuing features interest them most. For this reason we have added power user oriented utilities like Performance Test and Process Viewer, while removing WinFax Basic Edition.
If the user already has WinFax installed, the Norton SystemWorks 2003 installation will recognize it and ask the user whether it should be kept on the system. It will be available from the Start menu but no longer integrated in the user interface.
In this way, we hope to minimize the impact to an upgrading or longtime customer, while increasing new product value to new customers.
Send your burning question to the newsletter and look for an answer in a future issue.
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What's different? Numion.com polls literally about 40 well-known sites on the Internet (in your choice of geographical region or world wide) and then creates an average surfing speed. Definitely worth a try
You'll find many other items of interest on Numion.com, including tests of website performance, which are very useful to anyone who runs a website. Check out the nifty online calculators too.
Numion.com is clearly worthy of Scot’s Newsletter Link of the Week status. The programming author of the site is also working on some other cool stuff that I hope to tell you about in the future.
Have you discovered a relatively unknown Windows- or broadband-oriented website that everyone should know about? Please send me the URL, and let me know why you liked it.
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Windows XP/2K/ME/98+IE5: Sort the Start Menu Alphabetically
Does it tick you off that even the vaunted Windows XP has the annoying habit of adding newly added programs to the bottom of the Start > All Programs menu? Here's the easy fix, and it works in most versiosn of Windows and anywhere in All Programs (called simply Programs in W2K/ME/98+IE5) or its submenus. In some Windows versions, it also works on the main Start menu.
To see it in action, open the Start Menu, choose All Programs (or Programs), right-click anywhere on the All Programs submenu, and choose "Sort By Name." Windows instantly sorts the menu alphabetically, placing the folders on top and the programs below. You can still change the order of items on the Start menu just by dragging and dropping them too.
Windows 98: The Compleat Guide to the Win 98 Easter Egg
An Easter Egg is a code segment in a software application buried by some of its programmers as a sort of stunt. There's a large multimedia Easter Egg in Windows 98 that runs movie-like scrolling credits of the Windows 98 development team. There are two ways to launch the Windows 98 Easter Egg. It works in either the original Win 98 or Win 98 Second Edition. Pay close attention. The first one is tricky. You may need a world atlas to accomplish it.
1. The Official Way to Run the Win98 Easter Egg
To initiate the official Windows 98 Easter Egg, open your Date/Time control panel and select the Time Zone tab. (In Win98 SE, open the Regional Settings control panel instead.) Hold down the Ctrl key and left-click in the vicinity of Cairo, Egypt. (It's just to the left of the innermost point of the Nile river, which is the longer of the two rivers on the African continent's northeastern coast.) While depressing the Control key, drag to the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee (roughly a tad left of the point half way between the Great Lakes and Florida). Let go of the mouse button -- but keep holding the Control key. Next, click and drag from Memphis to Redmond, Washington (the northwestern-most state of the 48 contiguous United States). Now let go of the Ctrl key and your mouse button. The Win98 music and credit screen should start. If they don't, keep trying, and vary your drop points slightly. It's pretty tricky; it requires you to hit a precise spot for each stop along the road from Cairo (a recurring Microsoft code name for a sort of nirvana version of Windows).
2. The Cheater's Win98 Easter Egg
Geographically challenged? Growing weary of trying to make the Easter egg run? Beginning to think it's all a big scam? Here's the easier way:
Right-click any blank space on the desktop, and choose New, Shortcut. Copy and paste the following line of text into the command line field:
"C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Microsoft\WELCOME\WELDATA.EXE" You_are_a_real_rascal
(Outlook Express users, you may need to paste to a Notepad window first, and then copy and re-paste to the Command line field.) Give the new shortcut the name "Cheater's Win98 Easter Egg," and click Finish.
Now right-click the new shortcut and choose Properties. The "Start in" field should show this line:
If not, add it. One little but crucial thing left to do. Click the down arrow to the right of the "Run" field and choose "Minimized." Click OK. Now just double click the icon to see the Easter Egg any time you want to.
So far as I know, Windows 98 Second Edition was the last version of Windows to have a large Easter Egg.
Do you have a Windows or broadband tip you think SFNL readers will like? Send it along to me, and if I print it in the newsletter, I'll print your name with it.
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