The Bug Report

The only Bug that's good for your computer!

A Publication of the Greater South Bay PC Users Group

Volume 19 Number 10

October 2001


Windows Top Ten Tuneup Tips

Library News

INTERNET TALK

Ulead PhotoImpact 6 Product Review

 

Windows Top Ten Tuneup Tips

Edited by Art Silverglate

Use these tips to help Windows run better, eliminate random lockups, error messages or freeze ups, and before you reinstall Windows, start an OS upgrade, or install new ware.

1. UPDATE VIDEO DRIVERS

Go to the companies website and download the latest drivers for your card and operating system. Try device manager first and note the type of card and model number you have. Dxdiag run from the Run window may even tell you. If you know you have a PCI video card, you can try this utility to see if it identifies the chipset. PCI video cards were the most popular type installed from 1995 to 2000.

There may even be third party utilities already installed on the system that will tell you your video card make and model and chipset.

You may however, have to take the cover off and possibly take the card out to find exactly the type of adapter you have. There are 4 types of video cards, ISA, PCI, AGP, and VLB. ISA and VLBs were popular on most 486s. AGPs most often come with brand new systems now.

Onboard video means that the video chipset is on the system board. You can still look for the model and numbers on the video chipset, but keep in mind onboard video is proprietary, and you may have to get your drivers from your computer manufacturer or motherboard maker.

Usually you can read the chip model and number that's printed on the largest chip. You can then usethat info to search for the right drivers. Or you can use the FCC ID number if itís printed on it and look up the manufacturer here.

If you are having a problem with your video settings or drivers and have to reinstall them try the hints listed here.

2. RUN ANTI-VIRUS FROM DOS

Do a chkdsk in DOS. If you have less than 655,360 total bytes of memory you may have a boot sector virus.

However, some systems use 1 K (1024 bytes) of memory for the BIOS. Other systems use 2K (2048 bytes) of memory for shadow RAM. You must take this into account before CHKDSK can be used as an accurate measure of whether or not a system is infected with a virus. Please refer to the hardware manufacturer to see if the system uses part of the MS-DOS 640K of memory. Also, most disk managers and some multiple boot managers may also use base memory to operate.

The safest way to get rid of a boot sector virus is to make a bootdisk on a different computer with an operating system that matches the computer you want to disinfect, then run an anti-virus from DOS. Or, another option is, to first download a bootdisk file from this site ano make it on a known clean system.

Use a DOS based scanner after you boot with the floppy on the "possibly infected" system, remove the bootdisk, put in the anti-virus program and run it. Currently I use F-Prot which is also available here.

If you have a disk manager running such as ez-drive then you have to watch the screen and then hit the key it tells you, to allow you to boot from a clean floppy.

While using a bootdisk and anti-virus will properly identify and remove 99.5% of boot sector infections, there are times when you actually have to write zeros to the drive to remove it. If you are sure you don't have a disk or boot manager running then you can also use fdisk /mbr to remove a virus in the mbr.

Booting from a clean disk and then running an anti-virus also allows effective removal of most macros, trojans, and other general viruses that infect your windows, AOL, and document folders.

3. BACKUP

Backup your registry, system.ini, win.ini, autoexec.bat, and config.sys before you start tweaking, and when your system is running fine. Learn how to restore all these files from DOS in advance. There are many third party programs that do this well. Personally, I use COP f.2.

If you have to or want to do it, manually go to DOS and C:\ and type copy autoexec.bat, autoexec.bak, copy config.sys, and config.bak. Now go to C: \Windows and type copy system.ini, system.bak, win.ini, and win.bak. Lastly, while still in C: \Windows, type attrib -h.-r -s system.dat, attrib -h -r -s user.dat and copy system.dat, system.bac, and user.dat, and user.bac. Now reset the attributes by typing attrib +h +r +s system.dat and attrib +h +r +s user.dat.

4. DISABLE UNNEEDED BACKGROUND APPS

Background apps. and TSRs run~from the following places:

autoexec.bat and config.sys in the root directory C:\ load= and run= in Win.ini in the C:\Windows folder

[386Enh] section of System.ini, and also in C:/Windows [boot] section of System.ini, look for lines with an .exe and path at the bottom of the section.

Backsround applications may also run from the following:

C:\Windows\Winstart.bat

C:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp

Registry keys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run,RunServices, or RunOnce and HKEY CURRENT USER\Software\Microsoft \ WindowsCurrentVersion\Run

To disable a line in autoexec.bat or config.sys use the edit command in DOS or sysedit in Start Run and put a rem with a space after it in front of the line. To disable a line in win.ini or system.ini put a ;;; in front of the line.

To remove a key from the registry launch regedit, navigate to Run, RunServices, and RunOnce and right click on the key and choose delete.

There are also very good MS and third party programs which also do this well, saving you from doing it manually like msconfig ire 98 which is launched from the Run line, or Startup Cop 1.0 which runs in both Windows 95 and 98.

However, first try to disable any background app by using its configuration utility and untick lines that say 'launch on startup" or similar.

5. SAFE MODE

Boot to safe mode and remove all duplicate devices and hardware items in Device Manager. Double click on each device and then click on each dupe and select remove. Run Scandisk and Defrag in Safe Mode. Have your drivers CDs and/ or floppies handy in case you need them afterwards.

Boot to Command prompt only and run scandisk there, and do a full surface scan if you are having major problems or run Scandisk on C: from a proper bootdisk.

If your system is always finding the same device over and over again, use Safe Mode to delete

all references to the device in Device Manager then, when you reboot, it will find the device and load the drivers automatically most of the time. If not, repeat the process but have your drivers disk handy.

6. TEMP AND CACHE FILES

The most important folders to keep clean are C: \Windows\Temp and/or C:\Temp or C:\Tmp. Some computers also save .tmp files in C:\Dos. It's OK to delete all *.tmp files in any of these folders.

Cache files are either kept in a subfolder in your browsers' location, AOL subfolder, or in one of the C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files folders. Delete all cache files on a regular basis for best results. Delete all *.chk files in the root directory. Empty your Recycle Bin. Clear out Recent Documents. Clear out the C:\Windows\Recent folder.

Remember, once again, to also clean out the recycle bin. To keep files from going there press Shift when you hit Del if you are using Explorer.

7. SCREEN SAVER AND POWER MANAGEMENT

Disable your screen savers or set them to 1 hour.

If you use power management set me timeoffs to 2 hours for your hard drive and monitor. Standby doesn't' work correctly on many desktops. I suggest not to use it at all.

8. DODGY AND UNNEEDED APPS

Disable FindFast. Disable any third party program that "claims to" keep your system from crashing. Disable any "Fix Windows Automatically" programs. Disable one anti-virus scanner if you have 2 running in the background. Disable any third party Windows Memory Management programs. Look for any noide keys in the registry and delete them.

Disable USB in cmos setup or in Device Manager if you.are not using any USB devices.

Many bootup and shutdown delays are caused by network services and protocols you don't need. Look in Control Panel Networks and remove the ones you don't use. Next, go to Control Panel | Add/Remove programs and uninstall any apps you are not using. Often, the latter while freeing up hard drive space will also remove hundreds of registry entries as another benefit.

You can also use a utility like Easy Cleaner to remove any keys in the registry that are not required or point to folders that don't exist anymore.

9. HARDWARE

Take the cover off, get a can of compressed "air" and blow out all your fans and power supply. Make sure all the fans are working. There is usually one in back on the power supply, one on the CPU, and one in the lower front of your case. Check that all cables are in snugly, especially power supply cables to the hard drivels) and Cdroms. If loose, try a different one or get a Y connector.

Remember to always destatic yourself by touching the metal case each and every time you touch any component. Reseat the cards and memory if you are having rebooting problems or random shutting down problems.

If windows wont install and/or you are getting fatal errors while installing it, you can try disabling the onboard cache memory using the cmos setup utility. Onboard cache is famous for going bad. Corrupted registry errors and/or BSODs and Fatal Exceptions are often due to bad or cheap broker class ram.

Adding more ram can hardly ever hurt as, while you use your system and keep upgrading to the latest versions of your favorite software you also have to upgrade your ram to keep up with the larger files.

10. STORAGE SPACE

Make sure yoy have at least 100 to 200 Mbs free on your C: drive at all times. 200 is a must if you are running Win98. Goto Add/Remove Programs and uninstall any software you are not using. If space is still tight put the swap file on another hard drive or partition. Make sure there are less than 225 files [including folders] in your root directory C:.

Microsoft recommends that NT5 users maintain at least 2 GIG free on C:.

[Art Silverglate is Secretary of Colombia Baltimore Users Group [CBUG], P.O. Box 125, Columbia, MD 21045]

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Program News

by John Sellers

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Special Meeting

Donít forget our meeting on Tuesday, October 23rdat El Segundo Library. The subject will be Adobe Photoshop. For particulars refer to the write up in the September BUG REPORT.

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November Programs

A representative from Pacific Image will make a presentation of their "PrimeFilm 1800" desktop negative and slide scanner at our next regular meeting.

Turn your boxes of negatives into digital pix with this low-cost film scanner. You donít need a digital camera to store or email pictures.

Getting pictures into your computer has never been easier. Here is a scanner with a difference: instead of scanning prints on a flat bed, it is designed to handle slides and negatives. While most film scanners are aimed at professionals, this is designed for the home user. It renders up superb images in both black and white and color.

The PrimeFilm 1800 desktop negative scanner runs just $199 and performs like a scanner that costs a thousand more (individual user group discount $169 and $160 each for group purchases of 10 or more).

Its small size fits nicely alongside other gear, and its USB connection makes set-up a snap. Install the scanning software and drivers, attach the cable, plug in the power, turn it on, and you're ready to go It also comes ready-to-go with drivers and scan software for use on a Macintosh or PC (the 1800i version of the scanner is built in translucent iMac blue.).

Specifications 1,800 dpi, 268 x 166 x 66mm, 36-bit colour depth, 35mm maximum scan area.

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Also in November

Later in the month, we will have, as guest speaker, Dana Berkowski, representing Microsoft, who will describe their latest version of the ubiquitous Windows operating system. The date and location will be given in the November newsletter.

"Windows XP"

The freedom to do what you want at home and at work Ė simply, reliably, and securely Here are just some of the areas youíll learn about in Windows XP:

 

Digital Photos: Record lifeís memories by easily acquiring, organizing, and sharing digital photos.

Music: All-in-one place for the discovery, download, storage, and playback of the highest quality digital music.

Video: Everything you need to create, share, and enjoy videos on your computer

Entertainment: Personal entertainment system for great gaming and high-quality DVD videos.

Communication: Communicate and share with your friends and family using instant messaging, voice, and video conversations.

Connected Home: Easily connect and share the computers and devices in your home.

Help and Support: Invite a friend or support professional to connect to your computer over the Internet and fix a problem or answer a question.

 

While youíre waiting, you can test-drive Windows XP Professional Release Candidate 2. Try before you buy! Details can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/preview/.

You don't have to call ahead or registerósimply show up and experience the newest version of Microsoft Windows XP.

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Library News

by Bob Hudak

 

 

 

 

September was a very bad month for me due to a personal loss. Which is my excuse for not having much material for you this month.

Randy Whittle made a demonstration of Powerquest products at our last general meeting. He made mention of a program called COA2 which will help you move a program from one location to another. I have this program on disk for you. In our hardware SIG we run into this problem when members add a new drive and it changes the drive letter assignment. Here are the words from the text file that comes with the program. "COA2, an update of PC Magazine's COA utility, lets you move a program to a new location without breaking it. When you install a program under Windows, the system builds a web of connections that make it difficult to move the program anywhere else. If disk space constraints force a move, or if adding a new device causes drive letters to change, the system can lose track of essential files. References to the program are stored in shortcuts, INI files, and the system registry. COA2 tracks down all references to the old address and replaces them with the new address. When the changes are complete, it presents you with a list of changes and gives you the option to undo any of them, if necessary. Note that COA2 does not actually move any files. It reports moves and name changes to the system." This new version offers Windows 2000 support and an improved user interface. COA2 was written by Neil J. Rubenking." Pick up a copy. Well worth the $3.00.

The other good point Randy brought forth was that having two physical drives was a good way to deal with backing up your data files. You save your data in a folder on your main drive and then back it up to the second drive. This is quick and painless. Use WinZip to compress the data and you will not need a very large drive. The club has three drives for sale. A 120mb, a 340mb and a 850mb. Priced from $10 to $20. Grab one and if you need help installing it, bring your computer to the hardware SIG on Tuesdays.

Talking about backing up, I read a good article by Susan Ives in the Alamo PC news letter. I will try to get a copy of it. To sum up what she was saying is that computer hardware changes so rapidly you need to migrate your important data to new media as it comes into vogue. Remember just a short time ago we all had 5 1/4" drives? (I still do) Some of our members lately ran into the need to transfer data from 5 1/4" disks so they could use it. Well, if you are saving pictures or other data for your family to use 50 years from now, it better be on the "new" media as it becomes available. What we are using today will more then likely not be with us in 2050. Susan also mentioned that if you have data that requires a particular program to run, you had better save a copy of the program along with the data files. I am keeping a good DOS machine to pass along with all my 5 1/4" disks to my family. Think about it.

 

 

 

INTERNET TALK

By Frank Chao

 

 

 

 

 

A warm welcome to the 38th article in this series about your access to the Internet.

REPORTING SUSPECTED TERRORIST ACTIVITY

The FBI has established a Web site for you to report any suspected terrorist activity.

http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp

You can provide them information anonymously. Your information may save someone's life. The FBI's Website also has current information on the on-going investigation regarding the disaster at the former World Trade Center building.

INTERNET EXPLORER 6

"Internet Explorer 6" has been available from Microsoft's Website since August 27th. You can get it by going to:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/ie6/

I have been using it on my "Windows 98 Second Edition" computer without problems since the beginning of September. The new and enhanced features of this Web browser are delineated at:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/whatsnew/default.asp

Version 6's ability to let you print Web pages to a printer have vastly improved over Internet Explorer 5

WINDOWS XP BETA 2

During the past two weeks, I have been experimenting with Windows XP Beta 2 (Build 2505). It boots up in half the time that Windows 98 Second Edition does. It comes with "Internet Explorer 6"(IE6) and IE6 (running inside Windows XP Beta 2) downloads Web pages faster than IE6 running on my "Windows 98 Second Edition" computer. It also comes with a lot of neat new-fangled features that I have not tried yet, so I will try them out and report back to you.

My initial reaction is that "..XP.." is great! Similar sentiments have also been expressed by various computer gurus who write articles in magazines such as "PC Magazine".

AOL PROTEST

A protest against AOL's massive CD distribution has established a Website at

http://www.nomoreaolcds.com

These folks feel that AOL's massive distribution of their installation CD's is deleterious for the environment.

TRAFFIC SCHOOL ONLINE

Two neighbors of mine, in separate incidents, received traffic citations for significantly exceeding the posted legal speed limit while driving their respective cars. Both accepted an offer from the Traffic Court to attend traffic school. Both attended traffic school from the comfort of their homes by going to

"Traffic School On Line" at:

http://www.trafficschooltogo.com

CLASSICAL NOVELS VIA E-MAIL

A free service that sends you a chapter a day of a classical novel is available at

http://www.classic-novels.com/

Some of the members of the Los Angeles Computer Society are subscribing to this mailing list. It is a free way to get in some quality fiction reading each day. The novels that are currently available are:

Dr. Faustus - Christopher Marlowe

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
The Inferno - Dante Alighieri
Don Quixote - Cervantes
The Arabian Nights - Sir Richard Burton
Penguin Island - Anatole France
Classic Quotes - Daily Quotations from Literary sources.

More novels will be available in the future.

INTERNET EXPLORER VERSUS NETSCAPE

Some Websites are optimized for Internet Explorer(IE) and some are optimized for Netscape. This means that, if you are accessing a Website with IE and it is real slow or locks up, you might have better luck with Netscape, AND vice versa. This is especially true for making purchases or financial transactions on-line. For example, if you are at a Website using Netscape and you are attempting to purchase some mutual funds and the darn thing locks up:

Run "Control + Alt + Delete"

Click on "<name of Website> - Netscape" in the "Task List" to highlight it.

Click on the "End Task" button.

Wait (sometimes up to 2 minutes) for your computer to ask you if you are sure that you want to end the task.

Then access the same Website using Internet Explorer.

 

REPORT ON DSL IN TORRANCE

Several homeowners in north and south Torrance (California, U.S.A.) reported to me that their DSL lines fail about once or twice a week. They stated that, in order to restore their connection, they have "reboot their DSL modems". This is a simple procedure whereupon one turns off the power switch on the DSL modem, and then turns it back on again.

E-MAIL COMMUNICATIONS IN TIMES OF DISTRESS

Liz Orban and I would like to remind everyone that, in times of distress, you should use e-mail instead of telephones whenever possible in order to help save vital communications resources for government and military agencies. Even if you use a dial-up modem (which connects to your telephone line) to connect to the Internet, the use of e-mail reduces your utilization of communications resources that belong to telephone companies.

WAYS TO CONTACT ME:

If you have any questions or problems, I can be contacted by the following methods:

1. Leave a voice message for me at 310-768-3896.

2. Send me e-mail at: fchao@elcamino.cc.ca.us

3. Send "snail" U.S. Postal Service mail to

Frank Chao

PO Box 6930

Torrance, CA 90504-0030.

Or sell your computer and take up oil painting instead !

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Ulead PhotoImpact 6 Product Review

by Jerry Evans GSBUG

My background - I am a retired educator and a photographer that has a high level of interest in web site creation. In regards to photography, I have taught beginning, intermediate and advanced levels of photography classes at the high school level and I have also taught basic and portrait photography to adults. I am currently a active member of two camera clubs, have done photo judging, and photographed weddings over a thirty-year time span Currently, I have focused my attention upon digital imaging and web site creation. I use Photoshop and ImageReady and have a good foundation in HTML manipulation, with some CSS and JavaScript thrown in. I have also worked with Dreamweaver - I am writing, with this background perspective, about my experiences and comments with PhotoImpact 6.

Ulead PhotoImpact 6 is the latest version of an imaging program that has been available for several years. Each upgrade has received improvements and updates. Ulead, with offices in Torrance, California, has made Version 6 a significant upgrade to what previously was a very capable image editing program.

The software includes the basic PhotoImpact program, plus two additional modules, one is the Album feature and the other is the GIF Animator. Adobe Acrobat 4 is also included, plus a new version of QuickTime. The minimum program requirements are Windows 95, or newer, 64 MB of RAM, and approximately 250 MB of hard drive space, plus additional HDD swap space, if necessary, for large files. It takes about 20 minutes to load the program from the CD using a P200 computer.

There is a lot of software packed into the package which has a MSRP of $99 - more usable software than one would expect. I believe this company has been providing image editing products to the consumer since 1992. In addition to the programís basic image editing capabilities, Ulead has added many easy to use features for those users who need to create web pages. If that is the user's goal, then keep reading; if not, stop here, because most of the "goodies" included with this software provide features and benefits for creating images and text for web page authoring.

The following is a capsule summary of what is new in this software release, much of which points toward Web page creation:

I. An integrated Web solution for Web designers:

 

a. The ability to design entire Web pages, then output these pages as HTML files that the program creates.

b. A convenient plan to enter text content in one's Web pages, plus the ability to add images as necessary.

c. Create and manage hyperlinks and image maps, without having much hyperlink or mapping knowledge as the program does most of the work.

d. The capability to easily update a Web page or a series of Web pages after the initial creation process.

e. The ability to preview your web page work on your browser.

f. Free Web hosting is available on Ulead's site.

II. Enhanced creativity for graphics and images:

 

a. The ability to easily generate and manipulate vector-based objects and text.

b. An Object Stamp tool that reportedly enhances images with unique flair (this function was not tested).

c. Many excellent features for text option and effect manipulation, including animated text.

d. Some really good, eye-catching animations.

e. The ability to convert RGB color images to monotone.

f. Many object layer editing functions for transparencies and masks.

g. Toolbars and buttons that can be customized by the user.

 

There are three main parts to this program;

1. PhotoImpact

This is the main part of the software, providing the power for image editing, web page design, and web graphics.

One can manipulate an image about as much as one would like to do. Some processes have been automated by a wizard, which can for example automatically straighten, crop, brighten, adjust contrast, focus, remove redeye, cover scratches, improve color balance, and even add a frame. Of course, there are provisions for the user to control all of these functions individually as well. There is support for acquiring images from a scanner or from the Internet, plus a calibration device for both input and output devices. One can import all or just a part of an image. This is quite helpful when working with images that are too large for the user's PC memory capabilities. A screen capture function works quite well. One can zoom in and out, do some cloning, modify hue and saturation, work with layers, cut/copy/paste with ease, do cloning, select parts of the image by several different methods, and modify and/or move image selections; It appears that all of the usual image editing features are available to the user, including many features that are found in other high-end programs, including Photoshop.

A really interesting feature is Easy Palette. This is a grouping of creative effects, with a thumbnail image generated to show how that effect will appear on the final image. You can add lightning, clouds, rain or snow, insert some fireworks, place fireflies circling an object, set an object on fire, and hundreds of similar outstanding effects.

2. Album

This is a powerful tool for image file management. It helps the user organize and catalog one's files visually through the use of thumbnail images. Also available is a drag and drop feature for easy maintenance, and a searchable database of fields and categories for those with large collections of images stored on the hard disk. Also there are many additional features that allow the user to share images on the Web.

3 GIF Animator

This tool provides for the animation of images and of text. I have done some animation with Image Ready 2.0 which is a similar program, but did not attempt to utilize this feature.

Final comments;

This program has all of the image editing features I would want or need in this type of a application. It is easy to crop an image, with enhanced selection tools that make the process very simple, and also provides help in selecting those ugly backgrounds and replacing them with, for example, a beautiful blue sky. The user can darken or brighten those selections, modify the hue and saturation of either parts or the whole image. The program allowed me to do all of the image manipulations that I have learned to do in Photoshop. However, there is always a learning curve to contend with, including having to unlearn the commands, keystrokes, and toolbar icons of similar programs.

The features which apply to Web authoring were quite intriguing to me. I have spent hours writing "code", which would have been significantly reduced if I had used this program - and the results would have been much better also. I will probably return to some early "creations" that I made with other software and redo them with the Web page creation tools contained in this program.

The Album feature will certainly prove to be beneficial to anyone that has a large collection of image files. I have many images, but not a lot of them are in digital form, yet. Possibly this program will help me organize image files so effectively that I won't need to use the ACDsee program that I am currently using for this purpose.

Overall, I would recommend this program for its easy image editing tools and because it does the job so well. Also most features are not difficult to learn. The manual is easy to follow and the help menu serves its purpose well. There are tutorials available on CD and on the Ulead Web site (www.ulead.com). Additionally, I would recommend this program for the many Web authoring features that provide essential tools for the Web designer. These tools are very functional and quite creative. Not many programs have managed to put all of these fine features in one package and at such an economical price.

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