Thursday, March 31, 2005

Remote File Access is a secure file sharing service that allows you to access your files remotely, and share them with other people over the Internet. The basic service is free, but they also have a higher-end service that requires a subscription fee. See the 'Subscription Plans' web page for more information about features and fees.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

System Information Utility

Another great system's diagnostic tool that comes with Windows is the System Information utility. This utility can display information about your systems hardware (i.e.: DMA, IRQs, I/O, etc.), OS, and software (such as: Microosft Office if it is installed).

A nice feature of this utility is that you can save the data from it as a text report. This allows you to e-mail the data to a company's technical support to help them diagnose problems with your system.

To launch the System Information utility:
- From the Start menu, select Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Information.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Windows System Diagnostic Utility

Windows provides a great diagnostic tool for getting detailed information on your system's hardware and software. This tool's purpose is for diagnosing problems with Microsoft DirectX software, but it can also be used for displaying certain hardware information and diagnosing problems with your system (such as your sound card and video card).

To launch the DirectX Diagnostic Tool (aka DXDIAG):
- From the Run... command (Start menu|Run...) type "DXDIAG.EXE".

Monday, March 28, 2005

Windows Device Manager

When you run into problems with Windows and a piece of hardware attached to your computer, you will probably need to use the Windows Device Manager to correct it. The Device Manager allows you to add, change, manage, or get details about your hardware's configuration.

To open the Device Manager.
  • Right-click on 'My Computer' and select Properties (or just open the System Control Panel).
  • Click on the Hardware tab, then press the Device Manager button.
  • In the Device Manager console window, just double-click on any device icon to get more detailed information, or change its configuration.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Remove Unused Programs

Do you have several programs that you installed a long time ago, and you want to get rid of them because you never use them. You can use the 'Add or Remove Programs' control panel to remove these items from your system.

This control panel will help you safely remove these programs from your system. Although, there is a catch these programs need to have registered themselves in this utility, and provided some type of uninstall program. Most modern applications register themselves with this control panel, but there are older programs and applications that don't include a method for removing the software after it has installed.

To access the Add or Remove Programs control panel:
  • Open the Control Panel folder (from the Start menu, select Control Panel)
  • Double-click the 'Add/Remove Programs' applet.
  • Click on the program that you want to remove, then press the Remove button.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Changing the Size of the Recycle Bin

Did you know that by default, Windows allocates up to 10% percent of each hard drive for files thrown into the Recycle Bin. If you have a large hard drive that can be a lot of wasted space (ie: on a 100GB drive, that is 10GB of disk space).

With today's high capacity hard drive, you might want to consider setting this to a lower value like 1% percent (on a 100GB drive, that is 1GB of disk space). To change the size of the Recycle Bin:
  • Right-click the Recycle Bin, select Properties.
  • Move the slide bar until it read '1%' (or whatever else you like)
  • Press the OK button.
If you change this setting or not, you can always recover this disk space by emptying the trash can. Although, when your Recycle Bin is full, this can interfere with files be written to the disk if there is no space available. So by keeping it at a lower setting, this can help prevent this inconvenience from happening.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Using Disk Cleanup Utility

Are you running out of disk space on your hard drive, you can help recover this space by removing unnecessary temporary files, emptying your Recycle Bin, and compressing old files. Microsoft includes a tool called 'Disk Cleanup' that can delete these files with a relative level of safety.

To launch the 'Disk Cleanup' utility, from the Start menu select Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup. When you start the application, the first thing it will do is calculate the amount of space it will save you. Then place a checkmark next to the types of information (such as deleting temporary files) that you want to delete. Finally press the OK button when you're done.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Service Pack 2 is Coming (Like It, or Not...)

Microsoft allowed companies to temporarily prevent their computers from downloading Service Pack 2 (SP2) through automatic updates. This delay was suppose to allow these companies to test and update their systems to make sure that they will be compatible with this new service pack.

However, there was a time limit placed on this mechanism, and its up on April 12th. SP2 will be automatically delivered to all Windows XP computers with Automatic Update enabled after this date.

For more information click on the link above.

Monday, March 21, 2005

MS-DOS Calculator

Have you ever needed to perform a quick calculation at the command prompt, well your prays have been answered. Below is the source code for an MS-DOS calculator that I created. It utilizes the MS-DOS command prompt's ability to perform basic math functions.

To create the CALC.BAT batch file, follow the instructions below:
- Open the Notepad, by typing "NOTEPAD.EXE" and press the Enter key in the Run... command.
- Select the text below and Copy it (Ctrl-C) from your browser window, then switch to the Notepad application and paste (Ctrl-V) the text into it.
- Save the file (Ctrl-S) as 'C:\WINDOWS\CALC.BAT'. (This allows you to run the command from anywhere).
- Then close the Notepad application.

@echo off
:: ----------------------------
:: Name: MS-DOS Calculator
:: Description: Perform quick calculations from the MS-DOS prompt.
:: Author: Jason Savitt
:: Version: 1.01
:: Web Site: also visit
:: Notes: - Requires Windows XP, 2003 or higher, although it may run
:: on Windows NT 4.0 and 2000 (not tested).
:: - Place the file in the %WinDir% (i.e.: C:\Windows)
:: to make it available from any where on your system.
:: ----------------------------

rem Creates the equation from the passed parameter from the command line.
if "%1" == "" goto DispHelp
set Equation=%1
if "%1" == "" goto DispEqu
set Equation=%Equation%%1
goto BuildEqu
rem If the equation is empty, then it displays help

rem Performs the equation and displays the results
set /a Results=%Equation%
echo %Equation% = %Results%
goto ExitProg

rem Display help screen
echo The command line calculator supports the following operators, in
echo decreasing order of precedence:
echo ^(^) - grouping
echo ^! ^~ ^- - unary operators
echo ^* ^/ %% - arithmetic operators
echo ^+ ^- - arithmetic operators
echo , - expression separator
echo For example:
echo - calc 5+5
echo - calc (5-5)*10
echo - calc 20/5
goto ExitProg

exit /b

To use the calculator, open the MS-DOS prompt then type "calc 5 * 5" (or whatever else you want) and press the Enter key. To get calculator Help, just type "calc" and press key Enter key.

The command line calculator supports the following operators, in
decreasing order of precedence:

() - grouping
! ~ - - unary operators
* / % - arithmetic operators
+ - - arithmetic operators
, - expression separator

For example:
- calc 5 + 5
- calc (5 - 5) * 10
- calc 20/5

Note: This batch has only been tested on Windows XP, although it should work on Windows NT4 or 2000. It will not work on Windows 95/98/ME, the MS-DOS prompt doesn't support the necessary functions need in order for it to work.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Advanced Calculator Functions

There is more to the Windows Calculator, then meets the eye. You can enable the advanced features of the Calculator, to perform more complicated math equations for handling statistics, trigonometry, factorials, and more.

- Launch the Windows calculator (Start | All Programs | Accessories | Calculator)
- From the View menu, select the Scientific option.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hide Your Computer in the Network Neighborhood

Do you want to prevent your computer from showing up in everyone's Network Neighborhood on your local private or company network. There is a very easy process to do this:
  • Open the Run... command (click Start button, and select Run...)
  • Type: "net config server /hidden:yes", press the Enter button.
This will only prevent the Network Neighborhood on other computers on the network from displaying your computer name. This won't prevent other utilities from identifying your computer that don't respect this flag. You will need to install some type of firewall (software or hardware) to really protect yourself.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Total Recall: Desktop Search Utility Comparison (Review)

PC Magazine wrote a great article comparing the most popular free desktop search utilities available on the Internet. When you compare these utilities to the desktop search functionality that comes with Windows XP, it is primitive in comparison. The 'Yahoo! Desktop Search' utility got the highest ranking, but I would also check out 'Google Desktop Search' and 'Copernic Desktop Search' utilities.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Scanning Your Hard Drives for Errors

Sometimes hard drives can just go bad, due to several factors such as: errors, age, or workmanship. To keep your hard drive running at its peek performance and protect it from other miscellaneous problems, it's a good idea to scan your hard drives for errors from time to time.
  • Open the Windows Explorer
  • Right-click the drive that you want to check for errors and select Properties.
  • Click the Tools tab.
  • In the 'Error-checking' section, press the 'Check Now...' button.
  • A new window will appear, showing you the check disk options.
Normally, the drive will only be scanned for errors and the results reported. Although, if you check the 'Automatically fix file system errors' check box, the tool will automatically attempt to fix the problems it finds. To perform a deeper file system scan for bad sectors, you can check the 'Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors' check box.
  • Press the Start button.
The disk check will go through three phases. If problems are found, the tool will notify you.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Quickly Access the Windows Calculator

There are times that you need to activate the Windows Calculator quickly. Instead of navigating through the Start menu, you can setup a keyboard shortcut to the application.

- On an empty area of the Windows desktop, right-click and select New > Shortcut.
- When the 'Create Shortcut' dialog box appears, type "calc" (without quotes) and press the Next button.
- Press the Finish button to create the new shortcut.
- Right-click the new Calculator icon, and select Properties.
- When the file properties dialog appears, click in the box next to the 'Shortcut key'.
- Type in your desired shortcut. For example, press CTRL-ALT-C.
- Press the "OK" button.

Now all you have to do is press the shortcut key you created, and the Calculator will appear. To delete the keyboard shortcut, open the file properties dialog box click the box next to 'Shortcut key', and press the Delete key.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Microsoft Outlook 2GB Personal Folders Limits

If you're using Microsoft Outlook 97, 98, 2000, or 2002; and your personal folders (.PST) file or offline folders (.OST) file grows over 2GB. You will get the following error message: ' Errors have been detected in the file . Quit all mail-enabled applications, and then use the Inbox Repair Tool.' This is caused by a feature of the older versions of Outlook not being able to handle files larger then to 2GB in size.

Oulook's 'Inbox Repair Tool' cannot repair this problem. To repair this problem you will need to download a tool from Microsoft. The way this tool work is by truncating the .pst file to under 2GB (2GB+ of free disk space is required to use this utility).

Note: Any of the truncated data will be lost.

- OL: Oversized PST and OST Crop Tool (296088)
- Exchange 2000 Tool: PST2GB

Thursday, March 10, 2005

NTFS File Security

(For Windows XP Pro)

If you're hard drive is formatted with the NTFS file system, you can specify which users and groups of users have the rights to access the different files and directories on your computer.

To set access permissions on a file or directory:

- Open the Windows Explorer.
- Right-click on a file or directory, and select "Properties".
- Click the Security tab.
- Select a user or group to modify their permissions. You can also add more users or groups
- Use the checkbox to add, change, or remove permissions.
- Press the OK button to apply the new permissions.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Converting Your Hard Drive to NTFS

If your computer's hard drive is still formatted with the older FAT16 or FAT32 file system, you should consider upgrading it to NTFS. NTFS has several advantages over the older file systems, for example:
  • More resistant to file corruption caused by a system failure.
  • Support for file/directory security.
  • Support for larger hard drives partitions.
  • Support for files sizes greater then 2GB.
  • and more.
To convert your hard drive's file system to NTFS:
  • Open an MS-DOS window (from the Run... command, type "CMD" and press the Enter key).
  • Type "convert /fs:ntfs c:" (change 'c:' to any drive letter you want to convert) and press the Enter key.
Notes: This process will take several minutes to complete, depending on the size of your hard drive. This process can not be interrupted once it is started, doing so could corrupt your data. You can not revert the hard drive back to it's original file system once the process is completed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Truth of RAM Optimizers

There are a lot of programs on the Internet are being sold or given away as RAM Optimizers. These programs promise to increase the speed and stability of your system. Although, the truth of the matter is something different.

RAM Optimizers will degrade system performance rather then improving it. They might appear to be working by making more memory appear as it is available, but this illusion comes at a cost. RAM Optimizers work by increasing the available-memory counter, while forcing other data and processes out of memory.

Normally a program will try to keep its code and data in memory for speed reasons. Although when you run a RAM Optimizer, it will try to force the programs and its data into virtual memory, in order to free up your physical RAM. This will in turn slow down your computer, because programs will have to read data back into RAM from your hard drive in order for the CPU to access them. Remember, your hard drive is much slower then your computer's RAM.

Ways to speed up your computer:
- Disable any start-up programs or services that you're not using.
- Install more RAM in your computer.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Digital Camera Tips

If you own a digital camera, you might want to check out the collection of hundreds of digital photography tips at this site. All the tips are divided into different categories, so that you can find the ones that are most relevant to your interests.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Microsoft Changes the Product Activation Process reported that the product activation process for Windows XP is going to be changing. People who buy their computers from a major PC vendors, will be required to have vendor activate the Windows for them. These users will no longer be able to activating their copies of XP over the Web.

The main problem with this change arises, when you have to reinstall XP from the recover disks you got from your OEM. You'll be required to call Microsoft and answer a series of questions designed to prove you have a legitimate copy before you can activate it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Lamest Computer Accessories

How would you like to own cup holder and cigarette lighter for your computer. This device fits in the an empty 5.25" drive bay.

The biggest problem with this device is that it encourages, drinking and smoking right in front of the computer. Both of which are not good for your computer.

You need to make you own judgement of the product yourself.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Windows Update

Windows Update is one of the more important security sites that you will need to visit to keep the operating system and Internet Explorer up-to-date. This site also has more then security, it has optional updates like the .NET Framework.

You can bypass visiting this site all together by making sure that Automatic Update is enabled (with the exception of optional updates).
  • Open the Control Panel.
  • Open the System control panel.
  • Click the Automatic Update tab.
  • Make sure the "Automatic (Recommended)" radio button is selected.
  • Press the OK button.
Note: If you have Service Pack 2 installed, this option will be enabled by default.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Testing Your Defenses (Part 2)

Do you know if your anti-virus protection is working correctly? European Institute for Computer Anti-Virus Research (EICAR) has created a benign virus test pattern to make sure that anti-virus software is working.

When your anti-virus software detects this pattern, it should alert you to its existent. If your software doesn't detect this test pattern then it could mean that your anti-virus software: doesn't support the EICAR test pattern, the software is miss configured, or it just doesn't work very well.