PuterGeek.Com News
Issue # 39

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Hello everybody!
We're at home for about 20hrs so I thought I'd get caught
up.  I've been tweaking PuterGeek.Com, making small changes, fixing broken hyperlinks and so on.  I think I've just about got it all set.

The new downloads page is now up at
and I've put up two boot disk images.  These images will
create a new bootdisk just by double-clicking on the image after you download it.  They both provide generic CD-ROM support and include the text version of my Win95 install white paper.  Come check them out, I must say I think they're pretty cool!

If you haven't been to PuterGeek.Com in the last 10 days or
so you should visit when you get a free moment.  There have been quite a few changes to the site.  Besides getting a whole new look, I've completely ditched the FrontPage server extensions!  This has resulted in about a 20% speed increase across the whole site!

On 8/24/00 I sent out a quick note about the website
overhaul.  I also asked you guys to all take a moment to "rate my newsletter" at infojump.com.  On the "nav" bar on the left side is a rating button that you can use to rate my newsletter from 1-5, with 5 being the highest rating.  I had hoped to see some 200+ votes by now, but thanks to the 17 of you who took the time to do so.

One of the main reasons for the website, as well as the free newsletter is that I believe... "What goes around, comes around.".  So please, when you get a free moment, take the time and rate my newsletter for me.  It's the little things like this that help me feel motivated to continue this work.  Thanks!

There's a new poll up now, and for those of you that think
the poll questions are stupid.....help me out!  Send me some questions (along with up to 10 possible answers) and I'll use them!  Here's your chance to find out what other people think.

I should soon have my preliminary results on Windows ME up on the website.  So far it looks interesting.  Nothing to
die for, but it does look to be more stable, and DLL hell *may* become a problem of the past.

Do any of you have any 'puter horror stories?  Are they
funny, or sad, or enough to make you throw your 'puter out the window?  I'm not talking about the ones you see getting forwarded to everyone via email, rather your own personal horror stories.

If you have some you'd like to share, just sent them to me
as a plain text email to webmaster@putergeek.com with the subject of "Horror story".  If I like them, I'll put some of them up on the website.  Be sure to tell me whether or not to use your name, and please tell me the city, state, and country you're from.

For the longest time I've wanted to play with a Mac.  But
I'm sad to say, no one has stepped forward to give me one :-)

Well since I just received a thank you (thanks again,
you-know-who in Alaska) in the form of a check, I've decided to use it (as a down payment) on an iMac!  I ordered a "ruby" iMac 400mhz, 128 meg of ram, 10 gig HDD, etc....

Not a speed demon to be sure, but it'll be good enough to
learn on.  <snicker>  I don't even know how to set the IP and the gateway IP when I put it on my network.  I guess it's time for me to buy "iMacs for dummies"!

Now, on with the good stuff!

From the Funnies http://users.erols.com/hmmd

1) Arachnoleptic fit (n.) The frantic dance performed just
after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

2) Beelzebug (n.) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets
into your bedroom at 3 in the morning and cannot be cast out.

3) Bozone (n.) The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer,
unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4) Cashtration (n.) The act of buying a house, which renders
the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

5) Caterpallor (n.) The color you turn after finding half a
grub in the fruit you're eating.

6) Decaflon (n.) The grueling event of getting through the
day consuming only things that are good for you.

7) Dopelar effect (n.) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem
smarter when you come at them rapidly.

8) Extraterrestaurant (n.) An eating place where you feel
you've been abducted and experimented upon. Also known as an E-T-ry.

9) Faunacated (adj.) How wildlife ends up when its
environment is destroyed. Hence faunacatering (v.), which has made a meal of many species.

10) Foreploy (n.) Any misrepresentation or outright lie
about yourself that leads to sex.

11) Grantartica (n.) The cold, isolated place where art
companies dwell without funding.

12) Hemaglobe (n.) The bloody state of the world.

13) Intaxication (n.) Euphoria at getting a tax refund,
which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

14) Kinstirpation (n.) A painful inability to move relatives
who come to visit.

15) Lullabuoy (n.) An idea that keeps floating into your
head and prevents you from drifting off to sleep.
From the Langalist www.langa.com

CleanUp On Reboot?

"Jack C" was the first of many readers to wonder about
automating the cleanup process by inserting Cleanup.Bat in the Autoexec.bat file (or CALLing it from there) so that the cleanup will run automatically on every restart:

     Some folks might find it useful to incorporate the
clean.bat lines in their autoexec.bat file. Throwing caution to the winds,  I pasted the contents to my autoexec.bat file, removed the pause, added a line to clean up the Juno ads and voila, my daily      startup gets it all. (Sorry, Juno). You have a fine "Langa List"-
     -- Jack C.

Most times, that approach will work fine. But not always:

Many setup and installation programs require a reboot---
often, they work this way: They go as far as they can, place new files in a Temp area, ask you to reboot, and then finish the rest of the installation or setup after the reboot by using the files in the Temp area.

If you run Cleanup.Bat as part of your Autoexec.Bat, it will
dutifully clean out all files in the Temp areas. So, after reboot, the setup program will look for the files it needs in the Temp area and won't find them: The setup/install will fail, perhaps leaving your system with a half-installed

That's why I created Cleanup.Bat as separate, stand-alone
file. You can place it in your Autoexec.bat if you wish, but you may be asking for trouble the next time you install a new piece of software.

NOTE: It's happened to me! - Peter

Fastest, Smallest, Free Browser?

This press release caught my eye:

     Enigma Browser 2.5 for Win95/98!

Ithaca, NY - August 22, 2000 - Sutton Designs, Inc. has
just released the latest version of the Internet Browser,
the Enigma Browser 2.5 for Win95/98. Weighing in with a kernel size of only 25k, the Enigma Browserr 2.5 remains FAST, FREE, SMALL, and SECURE!

Enigma Browser 2.5 is also not affected by Brown
Orifice (like Netscape's Communicator), and is not affected by ActiveX Rendering Control issues (like the Internet Explorer).  Enigma is a full, smooth, and lean Internet Browser and File Viewer! FAST, not bloated like the leading browsers on the market, and FREE, unlike Opera, the Enigma Browser 2.5 also uses NO Ad Banners, Adware, SPYBOTS or Spyware.

     Enigma Browser 2.5 utilizes the underlying Windows
operating system, but does not require that any other browser be concurrently installed. Enigma does Javascript and frames, switches from site to site seamlessly fast. Designed for Windows 95/98, Enigma doubles as a full screen file viewer.

I'll be taking a look at Enigma in the next few weeks. If
you want to explore it on your own, check it out at

Those "MSCREATE.DIR" Files

Ever wonder what the heck those MSCREATE.DIR files are?
Chances are, you have a bunch of 'em scattered around your system, and some people use tools (like Cleanup.Bat) to delete 'em.

As I wrote it, Cleanup.Bat doesn't touch MSCREATE.DIR files: They're zero-byte files that appear once and just sit there: They don't grow or proliferate. They're created by the MS Office Setup program to identify directories created by or altered by Office setup. The Office Uninstall and Maintenance (Add./Remove components) apps looks for the
"MSCREATE" markers in empty directories: If a directory contains nothing but the MSCREATE marker, Office will delete the directory.

So, removing the MSCREATE files won't really save any space, and may interfere with Office's attempts to clean up after itself.  My recommendation: Leave the MSCREATE files alone.

If you'd like a fuller explanation, several readers sent in
links to the details at

Once on that page, scroll down to "Problems Encountered In
Running Setup."

(Thanks to all who sent in mail on this topic!)

"We Interrupt This Broadcast..."

If this were TV or radio, I'd begin by saying "We interrupt
this broadcast.." You see, I was in the middle of bringing you a series on how to "Save Your Butt With DOS." That is, how to use DOS to perform various low-level diagnostic, maintenance and repair tasks on your Windows system.

Part One of the series ---
http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/15.htm - set the context and gave the essential ground-zero information; it also contained a plethora of DOS-related links to get you started. Part Two ---
http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/16.htm -
detailed how to create a custom boot or "emergency" disk; a better boot disk than the one that may have come with your copy of Windows, or that you can make via the
Control Panel "Add/Remove Software" applet. Part Three ---
http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/17.htm ---
helped you stock your DOS toolkit with interesting, worthy--- and mostly free!--- DOS tools.

The fourth installment was intended to be all about batch
files, and in preparation, I'd cobbled together a little demonstration file that cleaned up parts of your hard drive that sometimes don't get thoroughly cleaned by other utilities, such as Windows' "Disk Cleanup" Wizard. I was going to use that very simple file as a guinea pig to show how any batch file can be optimized and modified; or how you can create your own batch files to automate all kinds of low-level tasks outside of Windows.

We'll still do that in a future column, but, in TV/radio
fashion, "we interrupt this series" because of the extraordinary response to that innocent-seeming cleanup batch file that I've discussed in recent issues
(see http://www.langa.com/current.htm#1 )

Many readers reported that the cleanup file recovered
hundreds of megabytes of disk space that they couldn't otherwise recover; and a few readers reported truly staggering gains of up to 12 gigabytes of space!

Even some expert readers who were using every trick they
knew to keep their drives clean---including using automated, commercial cleanup applications such as the $40 "Window Washer"--- found my little free file
saved them tens to hundreds of megabytes that otherwise had been wasted.

That suggested to me that hard drive cleanup is a worthy
subject in its own right, and that many people might benefit from a discussion of the best ways to scrub your hard drive clean of junk files--- for free!

So that's what my current "Explorer" column at WinMag.Com is about: free, easy ways you can recover wasted space on your C: drive or Windows 98 partition. (You can generalize the principles to any other drive, partition or OS.) I can almost guarantee you'll gain anywhere from tens to
hundreds of megs. And although you probably won't gain the full 12GB that one astonished reader got--- I think you'll be happy with the results.

Along the way, I'll show you two BRAND NEW, improved
versions of Cleanup.Bat--- and a very slick little Registry patch that can add Cleanup.Bat to your Recycled Bin menu, so your cleanup tools will be in one place.

When you're done, you'll probably have gained enough space on your hard drive to be the equivalent of what constituted an entire new hard drive just a few years ago--- but unlike those physical drives, you've gained all that space on your current drive, and for free!

The new article will be available today (2000-08-28, midday
[UT-4]) click on over to http://www.winmag.com , look for the "Explorer" link, check out the column! (Alternate access to the column:
http://www.winmag.com/columns/default.htm Note that if you arrive before the column is posted, you'll only see previous columns listed.)

Within 24 hours of posting the brand-new (and free!)
versions of CleanUp.Bat on Monday, over 30,000 people downloaded at least one of the files! I can't imagine how much disk space was freed up in the aggregate, but maybe we'll all be responsible for a tiny downtick in hard drive sales in coming months. 8-)

If you don't have the latest copy of CleanUp.Bat yet, grab
it at http://www.langa.com/cleanup_bat.htm . (And please click an ad banner while you're there to help defray my costs for the bandwidth---Thnx!)

To my surprise, not many people have downloaded reader Mick Hickson's way- cool Reg patch that adds CleanUp.Bat to your Recycle Bin's menus. I don't know why; it's very cool! You can check it out at
http://www.langa.com/cleanup_reg.htm .

The full article on disk cleanup (at
http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/18.htm ) also is generating a ton of email, and some good reader comment in the BBS area attached to that article. I'll highlight several of the most interesting responses in
the next items, below.

From Microsoft www.microsoft.com

Even though you can't yet get your hands on a retail copy of Microsoft's new operating system for home users, Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), there's plenty of excitement happening before the release date of September 14, 2000.

--Order Windows Me
Pre-order Windows Me by September 10, and it'll be at your door on September 14--the same day it arrives in stores!  Order now and you'll even get free shipping.

--Windows Me gives you the perfect photo opportunity
If you've ever lost a set of pictures because you loaded the film incorrectly, or had an important shot ruined by redeye, you're ready for a digital camera. They're more affordable than ever, and Windows Me makes working with digital photos a snap.

--Get your game on with Windows Me
Want to experience pure gaming bliss? DirectX 7.0 multimedia services in Windows Me give you improved graphics and sound, a boost in game performance, and even help configure your gaming hardware.

--Movin' on up
As if all the great features in Windows Me weren't enough,
Microsoft announces special pricing for users who upgrade from Windows 98!
Read the press release for details.

--Take your library with you
Microsoft Reader is free software for eBooks that brings you the all of the joys of reading--to your computer. ClearType(tm) display technology delivers outstanding text clarity, and smart features allow you to highlight, bookmark, make notes, and look up words in the built-in dictionary.

Here's part two....(actually, I screwed up and sent it
before I was done)

From Microsoft www.microsoft.com

--Home sweet home network
Go behind the scenes with a Microsoft visionary and get the inside scoop on what the future holds for home networking and networked devices. You'll also learn how to start taking advantage of the latest networking technologies right away with Windows Me. (No duct tape or drills required!)

--More network news
Read more about home networking in Windows Me, including several real-life scenarios, in the third installment in a four-part series about Windows Me from Microsoft PressPass.

>From Pecoguru http://www.pericson.com/

The Best Start Page For Your Web Browser?

If you're using Internet Explorer (according to recent
surveys most of you are) there's a great feature that lets
you export your Favorites to a single file. That's very
useful when you want to back up your Favorites; one file is
much easier to handle that a separate file for each link in
your Favorites folder. But you can use the Favorites file
as your browser's start page to get immediate access to
your Favorites links.

First you have to export your Favorites to a file. Start
Internet Explorer and select Import and Export from the
File menu. Click Next on the welcome screen, choose the
Export Favorites option and click Next. Select the folder
you wish to have as the root for your exported Favorites
(to export all, click 'Favorites' once). When you're done
click Next. Choose the Export to a File or Address option,
click the Browse button, and specify where you want the
exported Favorites file to be saved. Click the Save button.
In the Export Favorites Destination window click Next. The
Import/Export wizard tells you it's completed. Click Finish
to create a file with all your Favorites as clickable links
in it.

Now, open Internet Explorer, go to the Internet Options
window by selecting it from the Tools menu. In the Home
page section enter the path to the Favorites file created
above. Begin the path with "file:/// " (without the quotes)
and replace all backslashes (\) with slashes (/) just like
in an Internet address. A complete path may look like this:
file:///C:/Windows/Desktop/bookmark.htm . Click OK.

Every time you launch Internet Explorer without specifying
a page to load, all your Favorites will be displayed in a
list, and all the links can be clicked to navigate your
browser to the appropriate URLs. Be sure to export your
Favorites to a file again every time you change them, or
you won't have the updated list of links as your start page.

If you're using Netscape Navigator it's even easier. You
see, Navigator saves all your Bookmarks in a file called
bookmark.htm located in your user profile's folder. For
example, if your user profile is called PEricson the
bookmark.htm file is in the C:\Program
Files\Netscape\Users\PEricson folder. The good thing with
this is that if you update your Bookmarks Navigator will
automatically recreate the bookmark.htm file; no need to do anything manually to have the updated list of links showing up when you launch Navigator.

To have Navigator display your bookmarks as the start page, go to Preferences in the Edit menu. Select 'Navigator' in the Category list. Make sure 'Home page' is checked in the Navigator starts with section, and then enter the path to your bookmark.htm file in the Location field in the Home page section. Use the style described above when entering the path. If you want to make it real easy for you and avoid typing errors, open the bookmark.htm file in Navigator, and instead of typing the path click the Use Current Page button. The path to the file will automatically appear in the Location field.

Having your Favorites or Bookmarks links on the first page
your browser displays can be really useful, since it's
highly probable you visit those sites often and some of
them maybe every time you're connected. And frankly, can
there be a better browser start page than one that consists of *your* favorite links and not someone else's? I doubt it.

NOTE: I love this trick! - Peter

Merge .REG Files Silently

If you wish to merge a .REG file with the Registry, my
guess it that you double-click on each of the files or
right-click and select "Merge." No problem so far, but what
if you have to merge say six different .REG files? When you merge a .REG file with the Registry you normally have to confirm that you want the file to be merged. When the
process is complete a window will appear letting you know
if the information was successfully merged with the
Registry. If you want to merge six files six confirmation
windows will appear and then six information windows. I
find this somewhat annoying, and that's why I decided to do something about it. You can use my solution too, so keep reading to find out how.

I know that the regedit.exe file has a switch (/s) that
allows .REG files to be merged without any windows popping up ("s" stands for "silent"). But opening up a DOS prompt and typing the command over and over again just changing the name of the .REG file to merge isn't really my thing. I wanted a simpler way of silently merging .REG files with the Registry. I did some thinking and then came up with the following solution.

You can apply this trick by one of two ways; either you
follow the instructions below, or download a .REG file from
my website that does all the work for you (download link at the bottom of this article). Please read the entire article
to be sure exactly what the .REG file does.

First, open Registry Editor: select "Run" from the Start
Menu and type "regedit" in the field. Press the OK button
or the Enter key. Then navigate to
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\regfile\shell. Create a new key
called "mergesilently" by using the Edit menu. Next, double click on the "Default()" string in the just created key and enter "Merge Silently" as its value. Create a subkey to the "mergesilently" key called "command" and set the value of the "Default()" string to "regedit.exe /s "%1"" (note that there should be quotes only around "%1" in the value below; the quotes around the whole command are there to indicate what to type).

Now you should have a new menu item named "Merge Silently" in the context menu that appears when right-clicking one or more .REG files. Selecting the item will merge the selected file(s) with the Registry without any windows popping up.

If you feel unsure on how to apply this function (don't
mess around in the Registry unless you really know what
you're doing), I've created a .REG file that does all the
stuff described above and uploaded it to my website. You
can download it (for free, of course) from
http://www.pericson.com/downloads/merge_silently.reg . After downloading the file just double-click it to merge its
content with the Registry, thereby enabling the "Merge
Silently" option.

To remove the "Merge Silently" menu item, open Registry
Editor, go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\regfile\shell, and delete the key named "mergesilently."

I hope this trick has made it less annoying for you to
merge .REG files with the Registry.

From the Win Insider www.winmag.com


I guess it's a giant software company's prerogative. After
some internal debate, Microsoft made an about face, deciding to stay Tweak UI's execution. Good decision. This strange little program, which has been around for as long as Windows 95, enjoys a large, almost cult following. While there's nothing it does that most of us couldn't hop into the Registry and do ourselves, Tweak UI offers the changes power users like us want to make, and it's just plain faster. We've grown accustomed to it.

Tweak UI is the work of a single programmer at Microsoft,
Raymond Chen, who has quietly updated Tweak UI for each new version of Windows. Factions within Microsoft put the kibosh on the version updated for Windows 98 Second Edition, and Tweak UI was removed from the Windows CD at that time -- mostly because OEM PC
makers didn't want to have to support it.

The word came last Friday that Microsoft had changed its
mind.  Perhaps Insider readers played a part in that, though we'll probably never know. Microsoft is now saying it will release a final version of Tweak UI 2000 for Windows Me around the new operating system is officially available in stores: about a month from now on September 14.


This is a very preliminary report on Internet Explorer 5.5.
More than 400 of you have sent me your often-detailed experiences with IE 5.5. Thank you! It's going to take a while to wade through them all. But I've gotten through the first 100 messages.  They're about equally split between those who've had no trouble with the browser suite upgrade and those who have some sort of problem. Of the people who've been bitten by something, the percentage of those who've had a really bad experience is roughly 40 percent.  If you're keeping score, that means 20 percent of the respondents had big problems. (Please note: Nothing about this is statistically valid.)

Even though I haven't worked my way through all the
messages, I've seen enough to know that I have to eat my words about IE 5.5. What follows is a list of symptoms and problems that multiple people have experienced. I've divided it into Large and Small problems. What I didn't know before you took the time to write me with your experiences was the scope and variety of the big problems. It's because of that, and because IE 5.5
delivers so little real advantage over IE 5.0, that I've decided to place Internet Explorer 5.5 on Windows Insider's "Don't Install It" list.

--- Large Commonly Experienced IE 5.5 Problems --
1. System-wide performance slow down. Virtually every person who reported this problem also noted that uninstalling IE 5.5 fixed the problem.

2. Inexplicable crashes, sometimes related to the MSHTML.DLL file.

3. Occasional IE and OE freeze up requiring Ctrl-Alt-Del.

4. Lots and lots of people have this problem: Very poor
program and Web page loading performance. Greg McKenzie writes: "it takes 40 seconds for IE5.5 to load compared with about 5-10 seconds for IE 5.0." People also report that IE 5.5 doesn't load pages reliably, tending to time out, while other browsers installed on the same system have no problems.

5. System hangs on first reboot (and all subsequent ones)
after what appeared to be successful installation. Reader Tony Heaton smartly solved this problem with by using the DOS-based SCANREG /RESTORE option.

6. Loses application reliability when multiple IE windows
are opened. On some PCs, the instability begins when only two or three IE windows are open. Other people describe that symptom beginning at eight or nine open IE windows.

7. MSN Messenger appears to be problematic for some people. Justin Sulvetta wrote: "MSN Messenger causes odd behavior when using hyperlinks; to get around that, I just disable/kill that module as soon as I start up 5.5 and performance is far better."

8. Java applications no longer work.

--- Small Commonly Experienced IE 5.5 Problems ---
1. Windows Explorer-related problems are a definite trend.
Mark Adelman described his folder problems this way: "When in Windows Explorer, when I try to pull down the folder list, I get two actions instead of one: The drop down rolls down and then rolls right back up." Microsoft told Mark that this problem was due to a conflict with his Microsoft IntelliPoint mouse driver, and that he should uninstall IE 5.5 until a newer IntelliPoint driver is made available. For the record, I use the IntelliPoint driver
with IE 5.5 and have no problems. So this isn't a universal
problem. But a lot of people have reported to me that
they're having "unwanted double clicks."

2. Download problems, sometimes involving spontaneous closes of the IE browser window.

3. Printing problems. Lots of different kinds of printing
problems, in fact, such as:

  * An extra blank sheet of paper ejected during IE
  * Unwanted inverse order printing.
  * Won't print to Epson dot-matrix printer.
  * Unable to print MapQuest map using Adobe PDFWriter.

4. Browser window size/position problems, such as:

  * Sometimes IE windows open up minimized.
  * OE messages windows don't remember size and position.

5. Strange user interface problems
  * Intermittently won't allow access to any menu or toolbar
options while continuing to browse perfectly. (This may be
related to #4 under Big Problems.)
  * Disappearing System Tray icons for other applications.
  * Win98's FreeCell game won't work.

That's it for this time....

Peter Crockett - webmaster
website: http://www.putergeek.com
mailto: webmaster@putergeek.com
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Last Revised: 10/23/2000