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Home Automation - Wired and Wireless CamerasFollow Up on "Is Hacking a Noble Profession?"
HINTS, TIPS, TRICKS & TWEAKS
Disable Windows Search for Looking inside Zip FilesChange the Windows XP Logon Prompt MessageDebunking the "Speed Up your Windows XP Box with IRQ Prioritization" MythPrevent Windows Media Player from Monopolizing Your Processor
HOW TO'S: ALL THE NEW XP FEATURES
How to Create WAVs Longer than 60 Seconds in the Windows XP Sound Recorder
WINXP SECURITY: UPDATES & PATCHES
xp-Antispy List of Windows XP Spyware FixesBeat Down Malicious Popups with NoAds
UPGRADING & COMPATIBILITY ISSUES
Windows XP Media Center Edition Coming to a PC Near YouPossible Solution for the Blue Screen Infinite Loop ProblemMicrosoft Virtual Machine Down for the CountHow fast is your CPU?Stop Microsoft Works from Auto-updating
WINXP CONFIGURING & TROUBLESHOOTING
How to Get Help with Windows XP Questions and ProblemsModem Settings Are Missing After You Remove and Re-Insert Your ModemError Message "Unable to Find Playable File" in Windows Media Player for Windows XPInternet Explorer Does Not Retry Bad Proxy Server for 30 MinutesData Loss May Occur After Reinstalling, Repairing, or Upgrading Windows XP
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
Home Automation - Wired and Wireless Cameras
Have you ever watched the Jetsons? George and Jane lived in a high-tech home that had all the conveniences! Video phones, flying cars, and what looked like microwave ovens! We're not yet close to the Jetson's lifestyle, but we're inching our way there. One thing you can do to get closer to that Jetson lifestyle is to set up remote cameras around your house.
What camera technology should you use? You can use a "wired" technology, where the cameras are connected to each computer via some kind of cable. We have several Windows XP computers in our home (and home office) that have "Web cams" connected to them via a USB cable. The computers are always on and the cameras are always running. We could sit and watch the cameras all the time, but we're more concerned with intrusion detection. We use a program called "HomeWatcher". HomeWatcher is really cool in that it works as a motion detector! If you want more info on this, check out:
The wired technology is nice if you're on a tight budget and have several old computers sitting around the home and office. But if you want to do it right, you should check into wireless cameras. The Wireless camera solution allows you to put cameras in just about any nook or cranny you want. Although our Publisher used Windows 2000 in his Wireless camera roll out, the X10 software he used will work in Windows XP as well. Check out his experience with Wireless cameras at:
Cameras that allow you to see what's going on in empty rooms and outside are just a start. There's a lot more you can do with your computers and home automation. What are you doing in the area of home automation? Have you integrated Windows XP with your home automation solutions? What kind of cool things can you do with home automation and Windows XP or other Windows operating systems? Let us know!
Follow Up on "Is Hacking a Noble Profession?"
We got a lot of responses to the "Is Hacking a Noble Profession" piece. There were two distinct groups: one group wanted to see all hackers attached to concrete galoshes and thrown into the sea; another group felt that hackers were generally a pro-social collection of geniuses who were being unfairly mixed up with criminal "crackers".
I certainly understand how the first group feels. These people told us their experiences of rebuilding a Web site or server after a "hacker" destroyed it. Sometimes valuable data was lost, and sometimes it was just a matter of spending many hours or days getting the site back up. These people felt hackers were no different than the scum who walk the streets with spray paint and kerosene, defacing the neighborhood and committing arson with great abandon.
The other group wanted us to know that hackers and crackers are not the same thing. Hackers are people who want to get to know how the operating systems, applications, computer and network hardware work. They poke and prod it like a physician examining a patient. A cracker is a member of the criminal underclass. It's the crackers who deface and destroy Web sites; it's crackers who break into home and corporate networks to delete or change data. It's crackers who steal credit cards, identities and even human lives.
OK, the media messed things up for the poor hackers. The media are typically quite clueless whenever they talk about technology, so it's no surprise that they messed up the hacker and cracker distinction. I think the media felt "hacker" was a scarier term, and that cracker should be reserved as a racial epithet. Whatever the reason, they certainly blurred the distinction between the hacker and the cracker.
Until next week,
Tom Shinder, Editor
(email us with feedback: <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=WinXPnews Issue #39">email@example.com)
Disable Windows Search for Looking inside Zip Files
The Windows XP Search feature allows you to find the stuff that's lying around your hard disks. But those hard disk searches can get painfully slow if you have a lot of compressed archive files (like .zip and .cab files) lying around your disks. You can speed your searches by disabling this feature. Just open the Run command from the Start menu and type the following in the Open text box:
regsvr32 c:\winnt\\system32\ zipfldr.d l l /u
(d l l with no spaces)
Then do your Search. If you want to turn this feature back on again, just run the above command again, but without the "/u" switch.
Change the Windows XP Logon Prompt Message
How about jazzing up that Windows XP Logon Prompt message? Right now, it probably says "Enter a user name and password that is valid for this system". You can do better than that! You just need to do a minor Registry Edit.
Click Start and click the Run command.
Type Regedit in the Open text box and click OK
Navigate to the following Registry key:
HKEY LOCAL MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\ CurrentVersion\Winlogon
Click the Edit menu, point to New and click on String Value.
Rename the value to LogonPrompt and double click on it.
In the Edit String dialog box, type in your customer message in the Value data text box. Click OK.
Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.
Debunking the "Speed Up your Windows XP Box with IRQ Prioritization" Myth
Yikes! We've been caught with our pants down again. It appears that the IRQ Prioritization tweak I shared with your last week was bogus. Who would have guessed? I could have sworn that the system seemed faster, and I do know that the system locked up after making the change. Nevertheless, Jamie Hanrahan of Windows Driver Consulting and Training (www.cmkrnl.com) provides a compelling explanation for why this does not work:
"There is an easy (although I must admit not definitive) way to demonstrate that the system is unaware of this registry value. To do this requires the www.sysinternals.com utility called "strings". If you're not familiar with it, it's a Win32 character-mode version of something Unix has had for decades (not that I'm a Unix fan...) You use it like so:
c:> strings file.d a t
and it emits all printable sequences of characters from file.d a t, one per line. It's very useful when searching exe's and the like for things like file names, registry keys and values, etc. (And it's a favorite cracker's tool.) Much better than examining diskprobe output looking for printable strings! And unlike the Unix version this one works for either Unicode or Ascii.
Ok, so we do this:
c:> strings \windows\system32\ntoskrnl.e x e >ntstrings.txt
Actually that produces more output than is useful. Let's try a minimum string length of 8, that being the number of characters in "priority":
c:> strings \windows\system32\ntoskrnl.e x e -n 8 >ntstrings.txt
Add the -a option to get the ascii strings instead:
c:> strings \windows\system32\ntoskrnl.e x e -a -n 8 >ntstringsa.txt
Now of course we open ntstrings.txt and ntstringsa.txt in Notepad, or your favorite other text editor.
If you search in the files for, for example, "LargeSystemCache" or "DisablePagingExecutive", you WILL find them. Those are the constant strings compiled into the exec by which it looks up those well-known registry values.
But you WON'T find "IRQ8Priority". In fact you won't even find "priority" by itself, in either the ASCII or unicode strings -- otherwise we could still think that the system was building up the name "IRQ8Priority" from shorter strings, perhaps looking for IRQ0Priority, IRQ1Priority, etc., with the number being a variable.
Actually we could still think that; the string could be "assembled" from even smaller fragments, and that's why I say this isn't absolutely definitive -- but I think this is very unlikely. Some other data points:
Interrupts -- IRQs -- don't even HAVE a concept of "priority" in the NT family; they do have something called "IRQL" (interrupt request level) associated with them. But the interval timer interrupt is already assigned a higher IRQL than any IO devices, second only to the inter-processor interrupt used in an MP machine.
The NT family of OSs don't even use the real-time clock (IRQ8) for timekeeping in the first place! They use programmable interval timer (8254, on IRQ0) for driving system timekeeping, CPU time accounting, and so on. IRQ8 is used for profiling, but profiling is almost never turned on except in very rare development environments.
The same "strings" output will show that another long-written-about registry hack, IoPageLockLimit, is also missing in action. This one at least used to be there, in Win2K RTM and earlier; in Win2K SP1 they kept the mechanism but the limit was then spec'd by a new value, IoPageLockPercentage; in Win2K SP2 and later they dropped the whole thing.
I have to conclude that all reports of increased performance after making the IRQ8Priority registry change, and IoPageLockLimit on Win2K SP1 and later, are due to _post hoc_ fallacy and/or placebo effect. IoPageLockLimit at least worked at one time (though the values suggested on almost every web site that mentions it actually cause the system to end up using its default of 512K anyway!). I don't know where the IRQ8Priority thing came from; it's too obscure to have been made up out of whole cloth -- maybe it was valid for some version of Win9x?"
Thanks Jamie! For those of you who added this entry, just go back into the Registry and delete the value you created and restart the computer.
Prevent Windows Media Player from Monopolizing Your Processor
I noticed after installing the Windows Media Player Bonus Pack (<a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/bonuspack.asp" target="_top">http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/bonuspack.asp) the player would try to take over the processor and lock up the system for a few moments when moving from one song to another in the playlist. This can be rather irritating if you're trying to work in a Word document and suddenly the display freezes up until the song changes. One way to fix this problem is to lower the priority of the Windows Media Player application. Here's how:
Right click on an empty area of the taskbar and click the Task Manager command.
Click on the Processes tab. Click on the Image Name column header to get the list of processes alphabetized.
Find the wmplayer.e x e entry and right click on it. Point to Set Priority and click on Low entry. Minimize the Task Manager or close it.
Now the WMP won't interfere with your other tasks. However, if you're doing something that's processor intensive, you might hear some skips in the music.
How to Create WAVs Longer than 60 Seconds in the Windows XP Sound Recorder
If you've used the Windows XP Sound Recorder application, you probably noticed it can't record anything longer than 60 seconds. After one minute, the "tape" runs out! It seems like you should be able to make the electronic "tape" used in the Sound Recorder last longer than 60 seconds. If you think it should be possible, you're right!
The trick to creating a longer tape is to join shorter tapes. Here's how you do it:
Click Start and point to All Programs and then point to Accessories. Point to Entertainment and then click on Sound Recorder.
Record a "blank tape". Click the Red "Record" button and let it run until it stops in 60 seconds. You can see your electronic tape progress as the slider bar moves from left to right. When the tape runs out, the slider bar will stop moving.
Click the Edit menu and then click the Copy command. Click the Edit menu and click the Paste Insert command. Notice that the Length has changed? You can see the Length in the right side of the dialog box.
Repeat step #2 again. Your tape should now be 240 seconds (4 minutes). Using this method, the tape will double each time you repeat step #2. I like to make a tape of 32 minutes. You can always cut off the pieces you don't use later.
Save the tape. Click File and then click the Save command. In the Save As dialog box, type in a name for the tape. I usually call it something like Blank32Minutes so that I know that it's a blank tape and how long it is.
Close the Sound Recorder and open it up again. Click File and then click the Open command. Open the blank tape you saved.
Press the Red "Record" button and record your message. When you're done recording, click on the Square "Stop" button. Click on the Edit menu and click the Delete after current position. You'll see a dialog box informing you that everything after the current position will be deleted. Click OK.
Click the File menu and click the Save As command. Save the file with a different name. This allows you to keep the current recording and leave your blank tape unchanged.
Now you know how to make recordings with the Windows XP Sound Recorder and you know how to make them more than a minute long. Cool!
xp-Antispy List of Windows XP Spyware Fixes
You might have heard that Windows XP comes pre-loaded with a good deal of software that some might call Spyware. What are those Spyware components and how can you whack the built-in Spyware? You could use a tool called xp-AntiSpy which you can download for free at:
If you're a "do it yourself" kind of person and want to know exactly what xp-AntiSpy is doing to fix your computer, check out:
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820SE-xp-AntiSpy_fixes&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820SE-xp-AntiSpy_fixes
Beat Down Malicious Popups with NoAds
We continue the drum beat to whack all popups. Last week we nuked the dreaded popups with WebNuke! This week we'll beat them down with a nice program called NoAds. NoAds is free and is easy to use. If you're looking around for good free popup stoppers, check out NoAds at:
Windows XP Media Center Edition Coming to a PC Near You
Microsoft is rolling out yet another version of Windows XP by the end of the year. This version will be called "Windows XP Media Center Edition" and it's souped up to give you a better PC entertainment experience. It's hard to tell what this version of XP will include. Media Center Edition sounds like a version of Windows XP Home Edition with support for Personal Video Recording (sort of a like a digital VCR for recording television programs). However, when you look at the screen shots of XP Media Center, it looks like it might just be an ultra dumbed down version of XP that just has PVR capabilities along with the normal music and picture viewing capabilities that come with Windows XP Home or Professional. Head on over to see if you can figure it out at:
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820UP-XP_MC_Edition&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820UP-XP_MC_Edition
Possible Solution for the Blue Screen Infinite Loop Problem
A few week's ago I mentioned a popular and painful problem many Windows XP users were having: the Blue Screen Infinite Loop (BSIL). Some of you wrote in that you had the same problem, but didn't have a fix! Gudiri wrote in with some interesting advice on how to handle the problem. Maybe it will work for you!
"...At first, I thought it was just a driver error because I was using Windows 2000 drivers, so I searched the net for the right drivers. Going to forums, I found there were a lot of people experiencing the same problem. I found drivers for my video adapter and installed them; still no improvement. This made me frustrated and hopeless, so I just decided to go back to my previous OS: Windows 2000, but every now and then I would try to run XP on my machine. I collected all the drivers I needed and tried them again; still it would not work. Then I came across the VIA explanation of the infinite loop, and they were saying it is because the video card does not receive enough power. That's why it slows down. The processor keeps sending information to the video card but the video card would not respond. You could check it out at this link:
This gave me an idea. After a year of searching for the fix, I found an explanation that XP has a driver that does automatic speed stepping for the processor; thus lowering the voltage consumption of the whole system. I thought "if I can disable that thing I would be able to work with XP". One time I was still using Windows 2000 I was playing a game using just battery power (I have a notebook), the game crashed. I found out that I could just set the power setting to have the processor not speed step and use the full power and it did not crash. This gave me the idea to fix the infinite loop error. I re-installed XP. This time I set the power scheme to Desktop Home/Office instead of Portable/Laptop. Guess what? No more infinite loop.
It is possible the other people using XP who experience this problem might have overlooked this tiny detail. I am not sure that this will fix all computers with the same problem, but it is possible. Maybe you guys can share this solution I discovered to help them get the most out of XP.
I hope that this will help. Additional note: make sure you get the right drivers for your device from the computer manufacturer or the device manufacturer. Then reset power scheme. Also, this result was observed through a Compaq Presario 1710TW notebook."
Microsoft Virtual Machine Down for the Count
Many thanks to our loyal readers for banging me over the head with a cluestick. I don't know how I missed it, but it appears Microsoft is no longer offering its Microsoft Java Virtual Machine via Web download. This is pretty bad news to those Windows XP users who haven't had a chance to download the Microsoft Virtual Machine. Windows XP didn't come with it, and you can't see Java Web sites without it! Microsoft was sued by Sun Microsystems, and part of Sun's claim was Microsoft exceeded its license when it allowed the Virtual Machine to be downloaded over the web. If anyone has a link to the Microsoft VM files, we'd appreciate if you would send it in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org You'll be helping thousands of Windows XP users who haven't had a chance to get the file yet. For more info check out:
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820UP-MS_Virtual_Machine&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820UP-MS_Virtual_Machine
How fast is your CPU?
How fast is your CPU? There are a couple of places you can check. The first place is in the System Properties dialog box. You can open the System Properties dialog by right clicking on the My Computer icon on the desktop and clicking the Properties command. Click on the General tab and you'll see the processor rating and how fast it's currently running. The second place to check out is the System Information applet. Just open the Run command and type msinfo32 in the Open text box and click OK. The system summary page will show your processor speed and a lot of other cool information too!
Stop Microsoft Works from Auto-updating
Last week I shared with you a problem Jody Harkey was having with Microsoft Works trying to autoupdate too often. I got a number of responses from readers wanting to help. The best answer came from Kris and Smokey Olberg. They said to "check the help file!" Good idea. Here's the relevant information:
"If you don't want to know about the program updates that are available, you can stop the dialog box from appearing.
Click the Customize tab.
To turn notification on, select the Notify me of program updates to Works box.
To turn notification off, clear the Notify me of program updates to Works box.
To show a list of updates that have been available in the past, but you have not selected, click the Show ignored updates button. The next time you are connected to the Internet and updates are available, you can select any of the previously ignored or new updates.
If you turn off notification and turn it back on later, you can choose from all the updates that were available during the time you had notification turned off. "
Many thanks to all of you who wrote in with solutions!
How to Get Help with Windows XP Questions and Problems
Every week you all send me great questions about your Windows XP problems. I wish I could answer them all! I am able to answer a few of your questions, but sadly, many of them go unanswered. If I'm not able to answer your questions, please check out my article in a previous edition of the WinXPnews on getting help with Windows XP. You'll be glad you did!
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Sunbelt_Newsgroups&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Sunbelt_Newsgroups
Modem Settings Are Missing After You Remove and Re-Insert Your Modem
Many of you use an external modem because you can take it from computer to computer. That's pretty convenient, especially with Windows XP. Windows XP allows you to "hot plug" your modem so you don't have to restart. But there's just one problem: your modem settings are lost when you unplug and replug the modem. Ouch! For more info on the problem and a link to the hotfix check it out at (the fix should be free):
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Modem_Settings&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Modem_Settings
Error Message "Unable to Find Playable File" in Windows Media Player for Windows XP
A couple of you have written in about a problem you're having with the Windows Media Player. The issue is with the My Music folder. There's an option to Play All when you open the My Music folder. Some of you can't do it! You get an error that says "Unable to find playable file" in spite of the fact that you have lots of playable files. The problem is that some other rotten problem may have nuked your Registry settings. For the fix check out:
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Media_Player&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Media_Player
Internet Explorer Does Not Retry Bad Proxy Server for 30 Minutes
Here's something I never heard of before. Did you know that Internet Explorer keeps a list of "bad proxy servers"? If Internet Explorer isn't able to contact a Proxy server, it puts that server in its bad proxy list for 30 minutes! Even if the proxy server was only down for a few seconds, if IE couldn't contact it, it's going to be marked bad for 30 minutes. For a Registry fix that allows you to change the bad proxy list timer check out:
<a href="http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Internet_Explorer&mid$20735872207328" target="_top">http://www.winxpnews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id0820CO-Internet_Explorer
Data Loss May Occur After Reinstalling, Repairing, or Upgrading Windows XP
It's almost an epidemic! We get dozens of emails every week from people who lost data when upgrading or reinstallation Windows XP. What's up with that? What data is lost? Why is the data being lost? Is there a way to prevent the data from being lost? With a little planning and crossed fingers, you might be able to save your data! For the details check out:
BattleBots: The Official Guide
View the metal-crunching destruction from the front lines with this fully authorized guide to one of today's hottest TV shows. Browse through photographs of every major BattleBot--including construction diagrams--and get details on weight, speed, and weapon type. Meet the people behind the crowd-pleasing, spark-flying robot demolition and get step-by-step instructions for building your own fierce fighting machine. Informative and entertaining, this book kicks BOT!
These documents are provided for informational purposes only. The information
contained in this document represents the current view of Sunbelt Software
Distribution on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because
Sunbelt must respond to changes in market conditions, it should not be
interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Sunbelt and Sunbelt cannot
guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of
INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF
ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND FREEDOM
The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this
document. This document may be copied and distributed subject to the
following conditions: 1) All text must be copied without modification and all pages
must be included; 2) All copies must contain Sunbelt's copyright notice and any
other notices provided therein; and 3) This document may not be distributed
for profit. All trademarks acknowledged. Copyright Sunbelt Software
Distribution, Inc. 1996-2002.
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