BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2002

  

 

BOOT CAMP 234 (16/07/02)

 

WINDOWS XP TIPS

 

Last week we looked at how to switch off or disable some of Windows XP’s more annoying features; this week, XP customisation plus several performance and productivity tips, so without more ado…

 

XP has a wealth of alternative mouse pointer and cursor schemes. Go to Mouse in Control Panel and click the Pointers tab then the Scheme’ drop down Menu. (If you are in Category View click Appearance and Themes then Mouse Pointers). If you are using XP Pro have a look at Dinosaur or if you are of a musical disposition try Conductor; in XP Home you should also find Ocean and Sports schemes.

 

Windows Explorer has several new features for displaying and sorting files and folders. One of the most useful is Show In Groups, which is enabled on the View menu. You can now select the type of grouping that you require, if you click on the Name header the groups will be alphabetical, click on ‘Type’ and they will be sorted so that documents, images and spreadsheets etc. are grouped together. As a further enhancement you can enable Show In Groups in Details, Icons, Tiles and Thumbnails Views.

 

The security features in XP are obviously a welcome change to Windows 9x, which is about as a secure as a wet teabag, however, forgetting your logon password could be a major inconvenience. You could write it down somewhere but that rather defeats the object, however, XP does have a recovery utility that you should make use of if you are prone to forgetfulness. With a blank formatted floppy to hand go to Control Panel, click on User Accounts then your account name. In the Related Tasks pane on the left select the item ‘Prevent Forgotten Password’, pop in the floppy and follow the on-screen instructions. If you forget your password XP will give you the option of using your recovery disc to help you to reset your password so keep it in a safe and secure place and don’t for heaven’s save label it ‘Password Recovery’…

 

Sooner or later XP, like all incarnations of Windows, slows down as it becomes overloaded with redundant files and Registry entries so if your machine is starting to get a bit sluggish try this quick and simple trick that should help to speed it up a bit (or maybe even a lot…). Go to User Accounts in Control Panel and create a new account, make sure it’s an Administrator type and this will allow you to copy across and export all of your data files and settings from your old account in to the new and hopefully much livelier one.

 

Here’s a useful tip if you want to make sure your children switch the PC off at a particular time, or even limit your own usage to prompt you to go home/get to bed at a reasonable hour. XP has a built-in utility called Shutdown that can be programmed to switch the PC off after a predetermined delay. To use Shutdown go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘cmd’ (without the quotes) and this will bring up a DOS type window. Now type the following command: ‘shutdown.exe –s –t xx’, where  –s is the shutdown ‘switch’,  -t is the time switch and xx is the delay in seconds. So, if you want the PC to shutdown in 15 minutes, say, the command would be: ‘shutdown.exe –s –t 900’. When the Enter is pressed the countdown begins, with a dialogue box on the screen showing the time left and warning the user to save their work. For a full list of the switches available for this utility just type shutdown.exe at the command prompt.

 

This tip is mainly for advanced uses and it should help XP boot up a little faster and improve performance. Like previous versions of Windows a large number of programs and utilities are loaded during boot up, not all of them are necessary and they can gobble up memory and resources. One quick and easy way to find out what they are is to go to Run on the Start menu and type ‘services.msc’. This will bring up a list of all of the programs that can run or are presently running in the background. To find out what each one does simply right click on it and this will display a dialogue box with a description and a ‘Start Type’ drop-down menu with Automatic, Manual or Disable options. Here are some Services that you may find, these are not usually needed by non-networked home PCs and can be safely disabled:

 

Alerter
Clipbook
Computer Browser
DHCP Client

Distributed Link Tracking Client

DNS Client

Fast User Switching
FTP Publishing Service

Human Interface Access Devices
IIS Admin Service

IPSEC Policy Agent

Indexing Service
Messenger
Net Logon
Remote Procedure Call Locator
Remote Registry Service

RIP Service

Run As Service

Server
SSDP Discovery Service

TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper
Universal Plug and Play Device Host
Upload Manager
Windows Time
Wireless Zero Configuration
World Wide Web Publishing Service

Workstation

 

NB. Only disable one Service at a time and if you run into problems simply switch it back on.

 

Next week –  Shareware Top Ten

 

JARGON FILTER

 

DOS

Disc Operating System, in Windows 9x a program that runs independently of Windows responsible for controlling disc drives, organising data and memory resources. In Windows XP DOS is a background utility that allows access to some of the computers inner workings

 

SWITCH

Extra functions (or instructions) added to the end of DOS command

 

THUMBNAIL VIEW

Option in Windows Explorer to display picture files as small ‘thumbnail’ sized images 

 

 

TOP TIP

The internal clocks in most PCs are usually fairly accurate but they can drift by a few seconds a week. XP has a useful facility that allows you to synchronise your PC to an atomic clock when you are connected to the Internet. The next time you are online double click on the time display on the taskbar and select the Internet Time tab, check the item ‘Automatically Synchronise…’ and click the Update Now button. If the time-server web site selected by default is slow to respond or busy you can find a list of alternate servers at: http://www.eecis.udel.edu/%7Emills/ntp/clock2.htm

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