San Francisco Peninsula Computer Club logo

Return to Home page
Return to Newsletter page

Vol. 16  No. 4  Supporting PC Platforms Newsletter:..Jul - Aug. 2000

Hints ... on Windows 
Book Review:  
Final bytes 

 Independence Day means . . . 

Not so fast!  Before you figure that the July monthly meeting is this Thursday, take a look at the calendar. This is July, which means your editor is heading off for the site of this year's American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) Symposium, this year in Orlando, Florida. In order to accommodate that trip and this month's bi-monthly news-letter, this issue is coming out a full week early, depending on how quickly the fingers can rattle the keyboard, and how quickly the snail mail delivery system can make appointed rounds on either side of the Independence Day holiday. With what may well amount to a five-day "holiday" for some, a quick reminder that this month's meeting is  July 13 at 7:30 p.m., the usual room. 

For the past handful of years, this summer period meant looking forward to one trip or another. Prior to the Major Shrink of GT Power's bulletin 
board network, and that of most other BBS systems, your editor (and former 
BBS System Operator) would have had plans to visit with other GT Sysops, as we were known during the period of BBS systems in their heyday. 

Since attending the Toronto, Canada, Get Together over another July 4 
holiday in 1994 (their fireworks com-petition was fantastic!), visits have been made to Lafayette, Louisiana (Cajun cooking is hot enough to cook 
itself!); Nashville, Tennessee (Music City USA); and Louisville, Kentucky 
(on the hottest day in their history: 111 degrees!). Scattered between several of these were two hosted here in the Bay area by Judy Oliphant and your editor. 

In addition to the GT Network Get Togethers, my wife's AIFD Sympo-sium typically is scheduled around the July 4 holiday, in large part due to 
almost no other major convention activity being scheduled at this time of 
year, and florists having a holiday from all the holiday flower sales at other times throughout the year. Each hotel hosting this event is happy to have it, given that it fills rooms on a holiday when most people are off doing other activities away from the city. 

This is the one time each year when floral designers from all across the 
globe get together to exchange ideas on every floral-related topic under the sun. One of the few conventions anywhere where the attendees dress DOWN, for what should be obvious reasons: hands-on, floral foam, glue and paint, 15-18 hour days. Their presidential banquet and ball on the last night of each year's Symposium is just the opposite - black tie formal. 

Previous cities hosting this annual event have ranged from Atlanta in 
1994, to Boston two years ago, and a pair already in San Francisco, 1993 
and last year. While several cities are regulars for this group, the occasional alternate location does pop up. Orlando and San Diego (next year) are exceptions to the rule, usually, of Boston, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco. (Incidentally, one of the side benefits of going to Boston is being able to sit on the Charles River Esplanade while listening to the Boston Pops Orchestra perform, as we did two years ago for the last concert of the July 4th "pops" concerts.) 

This year's AIFD Symposium brings with it far more activity here than we 
would normally experience. In addition to preparing her College of San Mateo students for their competition, Lois was also busy preparing a book which combines the Oriental "feng shui" with floral designing. Entitled "Feng Shui Seika," the book is still in the final stages of being printed. Add to it the necessity of putting together a one-hour stage presentation for this year's AIFD Symposium intended to help promote this book, and you can imagine how busy she's been since early in the year. All of this in and around her schedule of classes at CSM during the spring semester. 

The book and stage presentation have been underwritten by a floral design 
school in Osaka, Japan, Enshinka International, the same school that has 
had Lois visiting with them on a hand-ful of occasions over the past few 
years, usually for a week each trip, to explain the Western Line Design 
school of floral arranging, and to some degree the European school of floral designing. 

One of the added advantages to this annual event is our filling out the week with at least a few days of vacation. Included within those few days is a visit to at least one or more museums in the host city. I'm not sure how many museums might be located in Orlando at this moment, but other sites have provided their share of art treasures to visit. Needless to say, this was yet another benefit of visiting Boston two years ago. Not to mention the city tour in a museum piece, one of the World War II-era "Ducks," those motorized vehicles capable of running on city streets and traveling on the water, too. 

Hints ... on Windows 
By Ernest Hintz 

This is a new column designed to assist SFPCC computer club members. This 
column is written with the cooperation of Bob Wallace’s (SFPCC alternating editor) assistance in editing and making sure that the "hints" make sense and the 
English is clear. Thanks in advance, Bob. If you have any additions or any questions,  e-mail 


Making Space by deleting leftovers (WIN9x) 

1. With Windows Explorer, open the TEMP folder (C:\Windows\Temp) and look to see if there are a lot of files and folders in this directory. Should you find any, you can safely delete them and you may find you have recovered some space. 

NOTE: If you have just completed the installation of a program, make sure to restart your computer before you do the above. However, if you suspect one of these files contains critical data, open it in a text editor. If you see anything that looks important, copy and paste into a new document for safekeeping. 

Making More Space by deleting leftovers (WIN9x) 

2. If your PC doesn't shut down properly, Windows will run ScanDisk the next time you boot. If it finds lost fragments, it will delete them for you. Before doing that, however, it asks if you want to save them as files. Unfor-tunately, it doesn't say where it puts them or what the new files are called. Here's how to find them. Open Tools/Find/Files or Folders and search the root directory for file*.CHK. Typically, the files are named FILE0000.CHK, FILE0001.CHK, FILE0002.CHK, and so on. If you're 
looking to free up disk space, you can delete any old files you find. As with the above, if you suspect one of these files contains critical data, open it in a text editor. If you see anything that looks important, copy and paste into a new document for safekeeping. 

Speeding up your computer's file system (Win9x) 

3. Changing your computer's File System typical role from "Desktop 
computer" to "Network server" usually makes your computer a bit more 
responsive, especially if you work with numerous applications open. How you change this is: Click on the Start button, move your cursor up to 
Settings and click on Control Panel, click on System, click on Performance 
tab. The first tab you will see is Hard Disk, in the "Typical role of this computer:" click on the pull-down arrow and click on Network server. 
Then click Ok and Ok, at which point your computer will ask to be rebooted. Incidentally, there is also a free program that you can download from the Internet called "cacheman" that allows additional settings. 

Cleaning your computer's registry (Win9x & NT) 

4. If you find your computer tends to run slower and slower, maybe Windows 9x registry needs to be cleaned. Download from Microsoft "REGCLEAN." As of this writing, the latest version is 4.1a, build 7364.1. Put this into a folder and locate it with Windows Explorer and click on it to run it. In some cases you may have to run it again after you restart Windows. 
Incidentally, this program will also work with Microsoft NT. Also, some 
have reported some positive use using this program with Windows 2000. 

Rebuilding your icons, etc. (Win9x & NT) 

5. Find your icons are not showing correctly? Install Powertoy (written 
by Microsoft employees). You can either download from Microsoft or locate it on your Windows 98 install CD, under \tools\reskit\powertoy . Right click on tweakui.inf file and install. Then open Windows Control Panel (if you're unsure how to get to the control panel, see item 2 above) and 
click on the Tweak UI icon and click on the right arrow until you see the 
repair panel. Click on the repair panel and you should see in the box 
"Rebuild Icons." Click on Repair Now to rebuild your computer icons. Tweak UI has numerous other functions, and is a very powerful tool, so be careful with the changes you make. 

Faster Windows Restart (Win9x) 

6. Sometimes you need to restart Windows to make a settings change take effect. But there's a faster way. Select Shut Down from the Start menu, 

then press and hold the Shift key when you click on Restart the Computer, then (still holding down the Shift key) click OK. When the screen prompt reads "Windows is now restarting," you can let go of the Shift key. Performing this action bypasses the boot sequence. 

Print System Summary (Win9x) 

7. Right-click on the My Computer icon and select Properties from the 
context menu. Click on the Device Manager tab, then the Print button. 
Select the "All Devices and System Summary" radio button, then click on 
OK. This will give you more information about your hardware, IRQs, ports, memory usage, devices and drivers than you ever wanted to know. Keep this printout handy for future reference. 


New Windows 9x Password (Win9x) 

8. If you forget your Win95 password, just press Escape at the password box, bring up the MS-DOS Prompt and enter dir *.PWL at the WINDOWS folder to find your .PWL files. Delete the one with your name in front of it. 
Restart your system and enter a new password when prompted. 

F4 Function Key in Internet and Windows Explorer (Win9x, NT, Win2k) 

9. The F4 function key opens the Address drop-down menu and high-lights it so you can quickly use your arrow keys to navigate local or network 
drives, plus My Computer and Desktop folders. 


Windows Internet Explorer & Dial-Up Connection (Win9x, NT, Win2k) 

10. Save time with your Dial-Up Connection. If you're at a Web Page which has numerous selections, instead of left clicking your way on to the next 
window and then clicking back to the page and having to wait for the page to reload again and again. Instead, put your icon on the next page you wish to open, RIGHT click and open a new window and when you're done with 
that page, just close it and open the next window. Incidentally, it is more ideal if you have Windows Internet Explorer NOT maximized so you can 
easily switch from page to page. This "hint" is also ideal for downloading 
numerous files from a site, and you can then go on in a new window browsing 
the internet, understanding that your browsing will be a bit slower than 
usual since your connection is also feeding the download you have 

Close Multiple Folders (Win9x, NT, Win2k) 

11. If you have windows open simultaneously, assuming you've set up Folder Options, available under the View menu, to display each folder in its own window. Closing all these open folders down one by one can take numerous clicks. Shortcut is to close all the open folders at once by holding down the Shift key and click the Close button on the last window you opened. 
This will close all the windows you opened from that last window all the 
way back to My Computer. 

End task to recover from lock-up (Win9x) 

12. NT and Windows 2000 users have taskmanager that allows the user to 
shut down a task. In Windows 9x, if you want to see what programs are 
running or you want to shut down a task since your system just locked up 
on you. Well, before rebooting your system, try ending the current task. 
Press Ctrl-Alt-Del ONCE (if you do it more than once your system may 
reboot/restart) to open the Close Program dialog box. Select the task 
that you last started that may have caused your system to lock up. More 
likely you will also see next to the program name a message saying "Not 
Responding" in parentheses. Highlight that item and click the End Task button. After a few seconds, a separate End Task dialog box will pop up, explain-ing that the program is not responding. Click End Task again, and with any luck, Windows will proceed to close just that program. However, if you press Ctrl-Alt-Del and absolutely nothing happens, you more than likely have to press reset or shut off your computer and restart. 

NOTE: By reviewing the list of programs on the list and you see one that should not be running, it is possible that your computer is running a Trojan.  You can verify this by running your virus scanner. 

Accessing Desktop (Win9x, NT, Win2k) 

13. How often have you had your screen covered with open folders and 
wished you could access your Desktop?  Quick and easy way is to select Start/ Run, type a period in the command line and hit Enter. Your WINDOWS\ DESKTOP folder will open instantly. 


14. When you hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete, you'll see a list of what's running on 
your computer. If by chance you discover drivers/programs running that 
you don't need or want, start the Win98 System Configuration utility by  typing MSCONFIG in the Run command line and pressing Enter. Click on the 
StartUp tab and deselect the items you think you might be able to live without. Click on OK and reboot. If you later realize you need one of the items you deselected, go back and re-select it. 

Cable Modem or DSL Users or long hour dial-up connection (INTERNET) 

15. It is very important for those of you that either have a constant cable modem or DSL connection to the Internet to protect your computer and 
your computer data from some "energetic crafty wizards" with less than positive intentions for your computer. Suggest looking up the following URL for some detailed information: 
[All on one line. -Ed.] 

In brief: The most obvious is, if your computer is network sharing a drive 
or folder, make sure it is password protected. Obtain software firewall 
or better yet, obtain hardware firewall. At this writing for DSL or Cable 
Modem users, the best hardware bang for the buck is the Linksys BEFSR41 
router/firewall, since it is fast and gives reasonably good protection if set up properly. 

Is protecting your data from viruses & trojans worth $20? 

16. For years, good common sense tended to be reasonably good protection from viruses and trojans. However, the computer community "energetic crafty wizards" have figured out how to attach these destructive items even to images. Moreover, obtaining a text file from your best friend is no longer a sure thing that some virus or trojan has not crept into your friend's computer. So if you conclude that your time and data is at least worth $20, get a virus scanner. 

 Book Review

"The Official  eBay" Guide to Buying Selling, and Collecting Just About Anything," by Laura Fisher Kaiser & Michael Kaiser 

By Marsha Brandsdorfer 

My good friend Ellen in Arizona is a dedicated Pez dispenser collector.  These "dispensers" hold "Pez" candies and usually have different character features on them to attract children.  However, many adults like to collect these toy candy holders and Ellen is a huge collector.  However, to add to her collection dispensers that she cannot find in stores in her area, Ellen likes to buy through the Internet web site, eBay.  eBay, after all, is the largest "auction" site in the world. 

"The Official eBay™ Guide" is authorized by the software company eBay, Inc. which is based in San Jose, California.  A person probably does not necessarily need to use this book to learn how to buy and sell on eBay, since instructions and "help" information are available on the web site.  However, I read the book from cover-to-cover and found it to be an excellent reference guide.  If you were to purchase the book, you don’t have to read all 262 pages.  I did this for review purposes. There is a handy index at the back of the book and even more helpful is the Table of Contents page, which tells you where to find such information as: "registering to become part of the eBay community"; "what eBay charges per item (that you place for sale on their site)"; "demystifying the bidding process"; and "eBay’s privacy policy." 

Coincidently, eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar, because his wife Pam (who was then his fiancée)  was a huge collector of Pez dispensers and told Pierre that she wished she could find other Pez collectors to sell and buy dispensers in order to enhance her collection.  It occurred to Pierre that the Internet might be a good medium to accomplish this, since the Internet was growing at an astounding rate.  With so many millions of people getting involved with the Internet, and the Internet’s capability for providing interaction between people (i.e., e-mail and chat rooms), Pierre thought Pam could easily touch base with other collectors.  Pierre came up with the idea for eBay, an auction site where people could buy and sell collectibles, and he figured it would help Pam and others get in touch with other collectors, of Pez, and other items. 
So, was launched to the public in September 1995, and it has taken off and expanded to such a degree that most individuals, if they haven’t personally used the site to buy or sell, at least know about it.  eBay is occasionally in the news.  When the site was halted this past winter for a few hours by a hacker who jammed and congested the site with thousands of fictitious e-mails, eBay was in the news.  When there was an auction sale of a supposedly rare painting a few months ago, eBay was in the news.  I’ve also seen newspaper articles about the finances of eBay, how it is doing in the stock market, etc. 

"The Official eBay™ Guide" states that when eBay started that the only two categories available were "Collectibles and Computers."  According to this guide, there are now more than 1,600 listings of categories and subcategories.  The back of the book lists many of these categories, which include: (a) Automobile: collector vehicles, general vehicles, accessories, cars, trucks, RVS; (b) Books: general, audio, children, big little books, classics, reference, computers, fiction, adventure, mystery, romance, pulps, paperbacks, rare, first editions; © Music: general, blues, rock, jazz, rap, instrumental; (d) Animation Art: general, hand-painted, etc., etc.  Well, you get the idea. 

I have a friend Elaine who works for eBay in San Jose, and she says that most of the people who work for eBay are educated from some of the top colleges in the country.  They are always trying to better the site, make it easier to use, give instructions on-line in a clear, concise way, but she says it is a stressful place to work.  I imagine that since it is a growing company, there is always much to do.  I asked Elaine if they advertise, and she said that eBay does not advertise; that they obtain their new customers through word of mouth recommendations from their present customers.  I had an e-mail pal named Beth who was looking for some special Star Trek trading cards.  After looking in some local stores and having no success, my friend Ellen suggested that I recommend to Beth to use eBay.  Sure enough, Beth found the trading cards at this auction site, bid on them, won the bid, and is now a proud owner of the trading cards she wanted for her Star Trek collection. 

To use eBay, it seems to be quite simple.  I have not, to date, personally used the site to buy or sell anything.  However, the book says that the first thing a patron must do is register and it guides the reader with step-by-step instructions on how to do this on pages 20 through 23.  By registering you are providing basic information to eBay regarding your e-mail address, regular name, address and phone number, etc.  Throughout the book, readers are assured that eBay values your privacy and that their web site is safe, etc.  They also tell you what to do if you do have a problem with an item you bought or sold, etc.  I haven’t heard any personal "horror" stories, so I assume that eBay is worthy of its reputation. 

The book explains what eBay charges the seller for listing items on the auction site, how the bidding works, etc.  There are very specific details, so all this information is excellent for reference.  Throughout "The Official eBay™ Guide," the writers also have inserted stories conveyed by present customers of eBay and their experiences.  Some of these are interesting.  Of course, since this book is authorized by the company, they do not print any "bad experiences" anyone has had.  Since I personally have not heard of any, I cannot rely them here.  I assume, however, since the site has been around almost five years now, it is commendable. 

I do recommend this book for those individuals who would like to use and would like to have a handy reference guide, or for those who would like to read about eBay and the experiences of others.  I’ve seen this book in numerous book stores, including Keplers in Menlo Park.  Happy bidding! 

Final bytes 

By Bob Wallace 

Just another quiet Saturday at home, aside from its being a holiday weekend that typically finds most people far out of town, if they choose to put up with all the extra traffic a "typical" summer holiday  is likely to generate, despite gasoline prices going steadily up. It’s difficult to recall that it was only in February 1999 that oil companies were paying (I trust you’re sitting down) $10.00 per barrel for crude. 

Within the past couple of weeks, lots of stories about gas prices, bare-bones reserves of electrical power due to too much heat causing Americans to crank up their air conditioners to help keep them cool, both at work and at home. Gas prices in the Midwest have jumped by about 50 cents per gallon, in part due to the transportation problem tied to a ruptured pipeline between St. Louis and Chicago/Milwaukee, and the mandated use of "re-formulated gas" (RFG) in Chicago and Milwaukee that, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pronouncements, help clean up the air. 

One has to wonder about all the claims being made by government agencies, each of which is charged with doing "A" and/or "B" to garner this or that result, followed by another round of screwing down the regulations that they, too, are responsible for, and in most instances, highly unaccountable to anyone for. First, we’re charged, as an agency of the government, with making the "standards" that we’ll live by, then enforcing those standards by whatever it takes to do it. Second, we’ll ratchet up the regulations to make it even more palatable for us to live, and then insist upon those higher standards being put in place and enforced. Anyone else see an insidious pattern going on here? 


One of the apparent casualties of the telephone service interruption in San Bruno the last week of June may be Judy Oliphant’s telephone, which also means her Internet e-mail capabilities have been impacted. What follows as the Calendar is from memory of a discussion some time ago as to which topics might be in which month. This may or may not be accurate, aside from the Potluck dinner in August. 

July 13: Sirius and DSL lines 

August 10: Potluck dinner 

September 14: Jerry Havnar on a subject Win. 98 Control and Help files 




Return to Home page
Return to Newsletter page