Friday, 27 July 2001

Newsletter Issue 27, July 2001


Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 27, July 2001
Hi guys,
This time we looking at the first part of fixer-upper knowhow for when your PC gets sick. Check out the Emergency Recovery Procedures below.
And do you remember DOS? For those of you who, like me, suddenly have to use DOS because their machine has gone belly up, it is a useful thing to remember! Check out some of the common DOS commands and refresh your memory. 
Chamber Member?     TLAs for SMEs        Short & Hot Keys        Hot Linx
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Emergency Recovery Procedures Part 1

Owning a PC is a bit like owning a car. We drive it. Fast. And how many of us are interested in what's going on under the bonnet? Not too many of us <yeah, I know - unless you're a geek like me>. 
While there's nothing too much wrong with that idea in principle, things go wrong with computers far more often than they go wrong with cars. A little bit of PC savvy can save you CASH. And PAIN. And FRUSTRATION. 
Computer techies see a lot of problems that could have been easily fixed by the user, if the user had taken some basic precautions, done some maintenance and been able to do some of the basic analysis work to pin-point problems. 
All the following preparation, maintenance and fixes in this series of articles are for PCs running Windows 98, the most widely used domestic OS (operating system). Windows 95, NT, 2000 and Millennium Edition have similar functions, but the steps may be a bit different. Use help (F1 from the desktop) to guide you with the other OS versions.
This time we are looking at BEING PREPARED.

Record Registrations etc 
It's wise to keep a paper copy of your registration codes and original documentation for Windows, and for any new piece of software you install. For any software downloaded from the net, do a screen dump of the registration screen and print it out. 
PRINT OUT A HARDCOPY! If your PC is down, you won't be able to check out the numbers within the programme. Keep all this stuff together where you can find it again when you need it. 
If your PC is second-hand, make sure you get all the software registration numbers with the machine. And check that they are the right ones when you get the PC - there is nothing worse than trying to reinstall Windows 95 and the code won't work because it is a Windows 98 code; and the ex-owner has gone to Papua New Guinea...
Some PC problems will require you to reinstall your software, so you need to keep your registration and code number information handy. I usually keep EVERYTHING that comes with my PC in the keyboard box. Perfect size to slide into a cupboard with every piece of information and blurb that came with the PC.
Software
Ensure you keep all your software in the same place with your registration numbers. The CDs etc will also fit nicely into your keyboard box.
If your PC is second-hand, make sure you get all the reinstall software with it. Remember that the owner of the hardware owns the software. 
Check that you have the following:
  • Windows install CD & registration 
  • Modem software (if not supplied with Windows or updated since the installed Windows version) 
  • Sound card software (if not supplied with Windows or updated since the installed Windows version) 
  • Direct fax software (if not supplied with Windows or updated since the installed Windows version) 
  • Network Card software 
  • Quick Restore CD 
  • Applications Software (Word, Publisher, Photoshop etc) 
  • Peripheral device software for hardware sold with the PC (printer, scanner, mouse, ergonomic keyboard, joystick etc)
Back ups
Yet another of my favourite topics. Get into a regular habit of backing up important files. If those files total more than a few megs, buy a CD writer.
Remember that if you have kids, they are likely to be downloading heaps of music and other drama. To avoid the earache if the home PC turns turtle, go for the CD writer  rather than relying on floppies, which only hold 1.44MB... and floppies won't even take 1/2 of one song.
Get a Zip drive if you don't have many megs of stuff - and if you don't plan on getting too much more in the near future.  
  •  CD Writer holds ½ a Gig per CD (500 meg). Cost is about $300. Media cost is about $5 for rewritables, $2.50 for recordables only (write once)
  • Zip drive holds 100 meg per Zip Disc (or new ones can be up to 250 meg). Cost is approx $300. Media cost is about $30.
Move your Outlook.pst file into your backed-up area (usually My Documents), restart Outlook and when the software tells you the Outlook.pst file is missing, point it to the new location of the file. Then the most you can ever lose in the event of an HD crash is the email addresses and correspondence since you ran your last backup. 
Have three back-ups uses in rotation. This is called grand-parenting. Use number one the first time, number two the second and number three the third. Then use number one again for your fourth back-up etc etc. That way you have a reasonable back-up history in case of accidentally - and unnoticed - deleted files or viruses with date macros.
Back up each week or fortnight if you are not using the PC that much. I only back up twice a week overall, with important individual files being backed-up in-between times on completion of projects.
Schedule a recurring reminder into Outlook. If all this is too scary for you - give me a call & we'll do some training!

Antivirus 
Prevent problems BEFORE they start. You have all heard me banging on about getting your anti-virus up to date. You all know that viruses come in many shapes and sizes and can attack through email attachments, downloaded programs, documents and sometimes on shop-bought software. 
Virus-checkers tell you when a virus is present. The anti-virus part of the programme finds and removes the virus. When an infected file cannot be cleansed, it is deleted; and when this happens you need to replace the deleted file either from your Windows CD, or downloaded from the internet. 
The two biggest anti-virus suppliers are Norton and McAfee. For about $80 NZ each year you are protected. These systems also offer "live updates" where you connect weekly to the website and update your virus definitions. With the annually renewable contract your live updates can be set up so they are automatic. 
Ensure that you are on the net at the time your update is scheduled for, or it won't happen.
A word of warning: don't buy an anti-virus CD off the shelf in New Zealand. It will be at least 6 months old, and you will have to update a heap of virus definitions before you can even use it. You pay only once and then get your updates off the websites, but your anti-virus engines (the powerhouse that drives the software) and drivers are not updated. 
When changing anti-virus brands, ensure that you uninstall the original before loading the new. Having more than one anti-virus program installed at a time will give your PC serious indigestion.
Startup Disc 
In the unlikely event of your computer refusing to run Windows when you turn it on, you'll need a startup, or boot disk. Booting off this disk (turning on the computer with the disk inserted) starts up DOS, the black-screen operating system that lurks underneath Windows. 
From there you can use programs to search for errors, restore damaged startup files, fix a corrupted registry and do other PC rescue jobs. From DOS you can also copy files to floppies (see next article for all the gen on that).
  1. Insert an empty disk into the floppy drive and click on Start | Settings | Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs | Startup Disc
  2. Select the tab Create Disk
  3. Insert a formatted & empty floppy & let the PC do its thing
  4. Label the floppy & keep somewhere safe
Catch you next time when we look at spring cleaning.

Getting back to DOS

Do any of you remember those old DOS commands? Recently I had to go back to all that again through a client's PC having crashed in Windows from a virus. So here's a bit of a refresher course for us all.
A few basic DOS commands are worth knowing, especially if you've booted the computer from a startup disk and want to try to rescue important files. All commands should be typed at the C prompt (the "C:>"), then keying Enter.  
CAUTION: remember that DOS cannot recognise folder or file names longer than eight characters. Names will be truncated to six characters followed by tilde and a number like "xxxxxx~1". If you have two files named - for example - Hardy Street Shop Front.jpg and Hardy Street Shop Side.jpg, they would be titled hardy~1.jpg and hardy~2.jpg respectively. This truncation process follows normal alphanumeric rules, but ignores spaces.
  • dir asks for the directory. It displays the list of files and subfolders within your current folder. dir/p gives you a page at a time, dir/w displays in columns 
  • a: or b: or c: or d: or e: Switches between the floppy disk, zip disc, hard drive, CD-ROM or CD-RW drive (depending on your drive's allocated letter)
  • cd folder Change directory to a subfolder within the folder you're in. For example, typing cd windows while in the c:drive will take you to the Windows directory. Typing cd desktop from c:drive there will take you to the Desktop folder. To see where you are at any time check the prompt.
  • cd\folder\subfolder allows you to jump multiple folders, for example you could go straight to the Desktop by typing cd\windows\desktop or to the My Documents folder from c: type cd mydoca~1
  • cd\ takes you back to the "root directory"; the folder at the top of the tree
  • copy drive:\folder\filename.doc drive Copies a file from a named folder on one drive to another drive. For example if you want to copy a document called vital.doc from My Documents to a floppy drive, type copy c:\mydocu~I\vital.doc a:
  • copy *.* An asterisk stands for "anything". This lets you copy all files (with any prefix or suffix) from a named folder. So if you want to copy the entire contents of My Documents to a floppy, type copy c:\mydocu~1\*.* a:
  • rem dir To remove a directory in dos, type rem dir and the file name. Eg to remove the folder My Documents, type rem dir mydocu~I
  • md To create a new directory, be in the folder you wish to have a subfolder in. Key md and the name of the new folder. Remember that you can't create folder names longer than 8 characters in dos. Eg to create a new folder called "new' key md new

Joining Up

Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? 
If you aren't, is it just something that you haven't thought about, or do you feel that being a member wouldn't have benefits to you?
I once thought that the Chamber of Commerce was a retail organisation. Then Commerce Nelson invited me to breakfast. 
At that breakfast Marilyn talked discounts. My decision to join was clinched by getting a discount on my phone account; which alone saved me 50% of my membership sub in the first year. 
However, while discounts got me in, my reasons to now stay a member couldn't be more different. I stay a member for the Networking… and note that capital "N". You rub shoulders with a very broad range of people through attending functions, seminars and Biz courses; people with whom you would not meet otherwise. You have the opportunity to speak to people outside your industry, problems get solved laterally, you make new contacts, make new friends, get new clients and hear of different ways of meeting common admin issues.
For tiny organisations like mine, the Chamber is my business data warehouse. Commerce Nelson speaks on behalf of the business community. And that means me. Personally. They get the latest goss on legislation and regulation affecting regional business. They lobby for us while we are too busy being head down and bum up working in our businesses to think about preparing a submission on the strategic impacts of important issues like... regional development. Roading. Infrastructure.
The Commerce Comment newsletter reminds me about courses and keep me up to date with regional happenings. 
Like all things, the more you put in, the more you will get out. This year I am on the membership committee; and am getting even MORE value in Networking from my sub. Developing membership  strategies with the team has improved my work in my own business. 
Saving money got me in. Generating more business keeps me in.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • DOS, Disc Operating System. This is the black screen operating system for your PC that makes Windows appear suddenly so much more user-friendly!
  • 8/3, Old DOS file name protocol - file & folder names of only 8 characters, and files with suffixes (or "file name extensions") of only 3 characters to determine what programmes should open them
  • Suffix: another couple through from NetworkSolutions(not available in NZ as yet);
    .cc = suffix of the Cocos Islands in the South Pacific (a dependency of Australia)
    .tv = Suffix of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, guaranteeing the country of 10,000 a minimum of $4 m US per annum for the next 10 years. Television missed out.
    .ws = Western Samoa's suffix
    .to = Tonga's suffix
    .cx = Christmas Island's suffix
    .cv = Cape Verde's suffix
If you want to check out what any others there are, go to http://www.computeruser.com/resources/dictionary/noframes/nf.domains.html 
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
Another Function key for you - this time it's all you can do in MS programmes with a straight F11
Sick of having to scroll down so much to read a page? 
  • Internet Explorer 5 and Windows Explorer both have the ability to hide the toolbars and task bars by the simple press of a button. Once Internet or Windows Explorer is open simply press the F11 key located at the top of the keyboard to switch between full screen mode (no toolbars etc) and standard mode.
    F11 - full screen on.
    F11 again - full screen off and normal screen on.
    Within full screen mode you will be able to view more of the Web site or files compared with the standard view containing the toolbars and icons.
  • F11 also has hidden functions in Access. It takes you from the switchboard into the back of the database. Extremely useful for where the menu bar has been removed to stop that very thing!
  • F11 in Word takes you to the next field - And users of "Q1" will find F11 very useful for updating fields in Q1 documents.
  • F11 in Excel will automatically create a vertical bar graph of whatever data the cursor is in and insert the graph as a new tab in your active Workbook.
  • F11 in Outlook 2000 will put the cursor into the Find Contacts window so you can key the name you wish to find (this is damn useful too!)
  • F11 has no straight function in Windows, FrontPage, Publisher, or PowerPoint.
Hot Linx
Are you a Skydiver or a Shark? A Critic or a Rock Star? Dunno? So go check out eMode, and take their Ultimate Personality Test to find out. These PhD-certified tests provide members with accurate-ish, concise and entertaining looks into their personalities. Thoroughly entertaining. I am an astronaut, a chosen one, a german shepherd and a station-wagon: all at once! Check it out at http://www.emode.com/ 
Need some help with programmes? Check out the free helpdesk services at http://www.eclipx.com/ 
Want puzzles, games, and general fun online? There's also a daily crossword for a bit of brain strain at http://www.thinks.com/ 
The Science fiction and fantasy site has a monthly online magazine going back to July 1997, a large author directory and much more. Find out all about SciFi legends at: http://www.sfsite.com/ 
Drop by FreeAnswers website and ask a computer question in English, just as you would talk to a techie. The search engine taps directly into Microsoft's Knowledge Base, as well as several other manufacturers' information sources, at http://www.freeanswers.com/ 


                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here