Tuesday, 31 July 2001

Newsletter Issue 28, July 2001


Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 28, July 2001
Hi guys,
This time we are onto the second part of our fixer-upper knowhow series for when your PC gets sick. Check out Emergency Recovery Procedures Part 2 below.
We are also looking at a couple of time management reminders in  Smart Scheduling Tips
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Emergency Recovery Procedures Part 2

Last time we talked about the things to do BEFORE your PC went belly up. This time we are still being proactive - but looking at system maintenance. As you know, techies see a lot of problems that could have been easily fixed by the user, if the user had known some basic maintenance. 
All the following maintenance items are for PCs running Windows 98 OS (operating system). 
While Windows 95, NT, 2000 and Millennium Edition have similar functions, the steps may be different. Use help (F1 from the desktop) to guide you with the other OS versions.
As well as being prepared for disasters, it's a good idea to keep things tidy. Computers get full of junk - file fragments, temp files that haven't been deleted, corruptions and zips. All this stuff gobbles up valuable processing speed.
Clearing Out Temp Files
When you create and/or open files, temp files are created for holding your data between formal saves, or are created when opening email attachments. Then when you close out of a programme, the temp file is erased. Normally.
However, when you crash, the temp file is not deleted… and the tmp files build up quite fast. You can end where the combined load of system tmp files can cause crashes or lock up your software. Consumer magazine has recently recommended that your system have fewer than 10 tmp files. 
So to keep everything manageable, we have to go to our cache of temp files and physically clear it out. This tmp storage is located in C:\Windows\Temp. The procedure;
  • Go to C:\Windows\Temp 
  • Select all files (Ctrl & A) and key delete. 
  • We then use the Find function to locate and delete the other temp files lost in the remainder of our system;
  1.  Close all open programmes (including the office toolbar, Outlook, antivirus and log off the net) 
  2. Right-click on the Start button on your taskbar. Select Find from the pop-up menu (or "Search" if you are using Windows 2000/Me) 
  3. Ensure you are on the Name & Location tab (the default tab). In the "Named" field, enter *.tmp (asterisk dot t m p). Tmp is the suffix associated with temp files. 
  4. In the results window, select all files (Click on first file, hold the Shift key down & click on the last file in the list) and key delete. If some of the files wont delete, it is because they locked and are still being used by a programme (even if the programme is closed - the PC thinks they are still in use). Ignore those ones and try again next time you clean up. 
  5. Repeat the search for *.bak, *.old, *.log, *.prv, *.shs, *.gid, *.fts, *.chk and *.wbk. 
Defrag 
Fragmentation occurs when files are copied then deleted, leaving gaps of data. After a while the hard drive starts to resemble a punch-card with holes everywhere. In order to access one program or file the computer might have to read "bits" of it from many different places on the spinning discs which make up the hard drive. 
Defragging rearranges the data for more convenient access. You should definitely  defrag after removing any large programmes. 
  • Close everything running (including your anti-virus program)
  • Disable your screen-saver (right click on the desktop, select Properties then the Screen Saver tab & select "None" & click Apply, then OK) 
  • Disable low-power standby (Start | Settings | Control Panel | Power. Change all power savings to "Never" & click Apply, then OK)
  • Click on Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter. 
Depending on the size and fragmentation of your drive the process may take anything from 10 minutes to 10 hours! It's best left overnight. 
Scandisc 
This scans your hard drive for lost clusters, invalid times/dates on files, and bad sectors (physical flaws on disc), and repairs what it can. To run;
  • Click on Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools |ScanDisk. 
This also takes a while to run (about an hour).

Deleting Old Files  
Search for old documents, pictures and sound files in My Documents, My Music & My Downloads.
Don't send anything to the recycle bin unless you know what it is, and you are sure that you don't need it any more. 
When you're confident nothing vital has been ditched that shouldn't have been (you might want to wait a few days to decide this), right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on the destop, and select Empty Recycle Bin
Removing Old Programmes 
When you have software on your system that is now redundant, DON'T just delete the folder. This won't clear the registry data, shortcuts, and driver files installed into the Windows directory. 
To delete;
  • select Start | Settings | Control Panel | Add/ Remove Programs
  • On the Install/Uninstall tab, highlight the program you want uninstalled from the Automatic Removal field list, then click the Add/Remove button
  • A message may appear saying there are shared driver files and do you want to delete them - ALWAYS say "No to All"
  • There also may be a message stating that there were shortcuts that could not be removed. You will have to remove these manually from your desktop or wherever you put them initially. You may also have to manually remove folders 
If a program doesn't uninstall successfully, try reinstalling it again, then re-uninstalling. 
Clearing Internet Cache Files 
The cache is where recently visited websites are stored, to increase the page / site loading speed if you return there. 
This can cause a problem however, if the page you have loaded in your cache has a mistake in it. Each time you return to that page, it will load from your cache: complete with mistake.
You can delete the cache in Explorer by;
  • clicking on Tools | Internet Options
  • In the Temporary Internet files panel click Delete Files
  • With Netscape Navigator click Edit| Preferences | Advanced | Cache | Clear Disk Cache. 
Deleting Cookies 
Some websites keep track of how often you've visited and your preferences, by saving a tiny file, called a cookie, on your hard drive. 
Cookies can be very useful. Cookies recognise "you" as "you" so that you get your personalised settings each time you return to the site. For example, if you set your Google preferences, next time you go to Google your search will run with your selected settings. 
You can purge some or all of your cookies occasionally by opening the folder C:\ Windows\Cookies. Select as many as you require and key delete. 
Managing Email 
Don't be afraid to dump messages in the deleted items box. Any good e-mail software will let you move messages to a deleted folder before they're permanently erased. 
Transfer messages to the deleted items folder whenever they're no longer pertinent, but don't delete them from your system until you're absolutely sure you won't need them again.
If something turns nasty with Outlook, and a reinstall doesn't work, you can recreate your mail folders by deleting the old one. The default location for Outlook is C:\Windows\Outlook.pst. NB This will delete ALL your preferences & email - inbox, outbox & sent mail.
You can also pull the old Outlook.pst off onto a CD if you think it is taking up too much system room and start again. My Outlook.pst file is currently about 100 meg.
Eudora attachment folders can get weighty, as attachments are not removed from the original email folders when they're saved elsewhere. Find the email folder and manually delete the contents. The default location for Eudora is C:\Program Files\Qualcomm Eudora\Attach.
If you are a Netscape user, you can compact your email folders. Open Netscape. Go to Message Centre. Go to the File Menu and select compact folders
  • Also don't forget to empty your deleted items bin regularly in any email software. 
Revise Favourites / Bookmarks 
You should also tidy up your Internet Favourites/Bookmarks. 
Arrange them into folders, update links which have changed and remove sites you no longer visit.
Empty the Recycle Bin
And don't forget to empty the recycle bin!
Catch you next time when we look at problems.

Smart Scheduling Tips

Here are three very quick & very smart scheduling tips. Things that we all know we should do, but tend to forget about... 
DON'T OVERBOOK
There is a fine art to setting up an effective schedule, so that it is just full enough of the most useful activities. 
Too full and you're liable to exhaust yourself. 
Too loose and you're wasting precious time that can be used to work towards your goals. 
PAD YOUR TIME
If you think something is going to take you 15 minutes to complete, pad the time you schedule for that task by an additional 15 minutes. 
Most people underestimate the time it takes to do things (pick me, pick me!!). If you earmark 15 minutes to get to your next meeting, and you run into traffic, (a) you're going to be late, and (b) you're going to throw the rest of your schedule off. 
Pad your time, and if you finish the task early, you're free to start something else. Or simply take a break. Or do what I do - and carry that reading that I want to get done in the back of my folder.
USE THE TIME OF DAY THAT WORKS BEST
Always schedule tasks that require your undivided attention at the time of day when you're most alert and energetic. 
For some of us, this is first thing in the morning. For others, it may be late afternoon. Or 1 am. Use your day to your best advantage to suit your personal energy levels.

On-Line Yet? No? Well Don't Panic

Not so long ago, the press were reporting more than one pundit as saying, "Any business which isn't on the Internet in two years will be out of business!" 
Do you believe that? Don't. It's crap.
The truth is much simpler. The World Wide Web is no more nor less useful than any other business tool that there is out there. It is another piece of business literature. It puts your brand out into the marketplace in another medium. Thats all.
There are a number of questions that you need to ask yourself BEFORE going onto the net. And they are:
  • What things am I currently doing in business that I could IMPROVE on the web?
  • How much will it cost to set up? Design work? Software? Hosting?
  • What branding components need to go on line? What will work? What won't work? 
  • Will my sales increase on line?
  • Will my costs fall?
  • Will my competitive position improve?
  • Will my website open up new markets?
  • If the web opens up new markets, what increase in demand can I meet?
  • How responsive can I be to an increase in demand? 
  • What do I have to do to get people to come & see my site? What costs are associated with that?
  • What load will electronic brochures or e-commerce put on my existing business systems?
  • What changes will I need to make to my existing systems?
  • Can I make back the costs of setting up a website?
  • Are my customers likely to use a website?
  • What products of mine would they be likely to buy on the web?
  • Can my staff adapt easily to the web environment? What training will they need?
  • What extra security to I need to have?
  • What legislative tangles might there be with the Fair Trading Act? The Consumer Guarantees Act? Overseas legislation? What about tax?
  • What currency should I accept?
  • How do I complete credit card transactions on line? How secure is it?
  • How often can pages be updated? Can I learn to update it myself?
  • Should I have an on line newsletter? (generally "No" to this one - most people read these off line: something like about 66% of people would rather have it emailed then read at their own leisure)
  • Who do I need to see to get this information?
And no businesses are the same. Think through the issues and then don't rush. 
Check out a load of sites and make a list of what you LIKE before you start looking at design work. Go to a web designer with some clear outcomes in mind and an example of your branding.
It constantly amazes me how many sites look nothing like the rest of the company's literature. Be consistent and make your branding work for you.

TLAs for SMEs

There are no TLAs for you in this newsletter. Maybe next time!
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 F10
  • F10 to make the menu bar active in Windows (for all Windows programmes: Word, Access, Frontpage, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint). 
  • What this means is by keying F10, the File menu is highlighted. By clicking the down arrow in the keyboard, the File menu will open. Clicking the right arrow button once will move the menu selection to the Edit menu, twice to the Format menu etc.
  • VERY useful if the mouse "falls off".
  • In Word, this active menu is called "Menu Mode" but is exactly the same thing as "Active Menu Bar".
Hot Linx
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Fancy yourself as a space cadet? Need to know where you are going or how to recognise the neighbourhood when you get to the Lagoon Nebula? Then the Hubble Space Telescope site is the place for you. Check it out at http://hubble.stsci.edu/  
Feeling a bit "under the weather"? Caught a virus along with that magnum of champers last night? Then you may need to check out http://www.hairytongue.com/ . Beware. This site is NOT for the faint hearted 
Interested in the faintly passé subject of Nostradamus? Check his prophecies out here at http://esoterism.com/nostradamus/bien2.htm 

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