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Scot’s Newsletter

Windows and Broadband Information You Can Use!

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October 17, 2001 - Vol. 1, Issue No. 14

By Scot Finnie

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Get Ready for Windows XP (and XP Q&A)
  • Reader Poll: Your Next Operating System
  • Upgraded SFNL Website and Email
  • Product Beat: ZoneAlarm 3.0
  • More on the Java VM (and IE 6.0)
  • Norton AntiVirus 2002 Vs. SirCam
  • About ... The Last Issue
  • PC and Broadband Q&A
  • For Subscribers Only
  • Word 2002 Flashing Titlebar Patch
  • Link of the Week: Two Top Networking Links
  • Tips of the Week
  • Happy News
  • Subscribe, Unsubscribe, or Change Your Address.


    Get Ready for Windows XP (and XP Q&A)
    With October 25 -- Windows XP's launch date -- just over a week away, I find myself increasingly ambivalent about making the move to the new OS. I'm about as equally interested in running Linux on my primary desktop as I am on installing Windows XP. So chances are I'll wind up with 98SE, Windows XP, and Linux (possibly Red Hat) in a multiboot environment. There are 10 PCs arrayed around me, and many have multiple boot configurations. So this would be nothing new. But generally speaking, I have run only one OS on my main PC for the last several years. Because of my split decision on XP, multiple boot may be the right decision right now. I know many of you have written to me that you're doing the same thing.

    I know that many SFNL readers are planning to make the move to XP over the next few weeks. Some have already done so, in most cases by buying a new PC. But something like half of you (see the Reader Poll that follows) are eager to make the XP switch.

    I'm here to tell you that the Windows XP upgrade experience is pretty good. Not perfect, of course, but better than previous generations of Windows. I've said this before, but it bears saying again. Windows XP makes clean installing as easy as it gets. Just boot to your Windows XP retail disc and follow directions. But you have to be prepared to sacrifice your disk in order to get the full value, which includes the NTFS file system. (You can run XP over FAT32 if you want though.) XP's setup will let you repartition and reformat your disk as needed when you're going for the full "experience

    If you're leery of all that, though, just run the upgrade install. With your current version windows (Windows 98, NT 4.0, Windows 2000) running, insert your upgrade XP disc in the machine and follow the onscreen instructions. It'll all seem pretty familiar, especially to Windows 2000 users. Actually, it's the decisions that you make before you get to this point that are stumping some people.

    Preparing for XP
    Before you even buy Windows XP, you should run Microsoft's free Windows XP Upgrade Advisor tool, which you can download from their Web site. The 32MB download is designed to run on your system in advance of XP installation. It advises you about both showstoppers and partial problems with hardware and software pertaining to an XP upgrade. You might be surprised at the number of software issues you might have to work through. Unlike other "upgrade advisors," this one is truly useful and worth your time -- especially if your PC is two or more years old or if you're running Win9x.

    The Upgrade Advisor is the same tool that Windows XP Setup uses to scan your system for compatibility issues. I understand that the Upgrade Advisor is currently available only for U.S. language versions of Windows. According to Microsoft, International sites may be offering Upgrade Advisor in the future, so check with your local language Microsoft site for availability.

  • Download the Upgrade Advisor

    You can use the Upgrade Advisor as long as your current Windows version is eligible for upgrade to Windows XP. That means that it won't run on Windows 95, 3.x, or NT versions prior to 4.0.

  • Check for Windows XP Upgrade Eligibility

    One of the things you may be confused about is the two different versions of Windows XP, Home and Pro. Some facts: From Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000, you have to upgrade to Windows XP Pro. Of course, if you were doing a clean install, you could install Home Edition. From Windows 98 or ME, you opt to upgrade to either Home or Pro, depending on how much money you want to shell out.

    Which version do I recommend? Surprisingly, Home edition isn't so bad. Toward the end there, Microsoft addressed the couple of issues I had with it. Most people will probably be happy with the Home version. But don't guess. Check out the XP Home and Pro differences straight from the horse's mouth. There's also a less useful bullet-point marketing description of the different XP versions.

    Windows XP Q&A
    Because I haven't done Q&A in a while, you're getting a double dose in this issue. First, these XP specific questions and answers, and later on in the newsletter, the usual PC and Broadband Q&A.

    Can I Clean Install With XP Upgrade Version?
    Question: To do a clean install of Windows XP Professional do I need the full version or can I do it with the upgrade version? When I installed Windows Me (upgrade version) I ended up having to do a clean install. During the setup process I was asked to insert a prior version Windows CD. I had the full version of Windows 98SE which is what I inserted. It wasn't in there long enough to copy any files. I suspected at the time that the upgrade version of Me actually contained the full version. Will this work the same way with Win XP? Thanks. --Jeff Scionti

    Answer: Let me see if I can rephrase this question for you. You asking this, I think: If you buy the less expensive upgrade version of Windows XP but you want to do a clean install, will Windows XP's setup routine prompt you to authenticate your Windows ownership by inserting your previous version Windows CD? The answer, as I understand it, is yes. Unfortunately the XP discs that were distributed to the press appear to be the Full Install variety, so I can't test it for myself. I hope to get upgrade discs in the near future. But I'd be surprised if it worked otherwise.

    Let me clarify something else. The only disadvantages of the upgrade install versions of XP are that they must be installed over Win98, NT 4.0, or Win2K, or you must authenticate your ownership of one of those operating systems. The full install version doesn't install any more code than the upgrade version does. Also, you can use the full install disc to perform an upgrade installation. The Windows XP Upgrade costs about $100 less. The reason it costs less is because you get a discount as an owner of a preexisting version of Windows.

    Product Activation Over Time
    Question: I read with interest a previous article you wrote on Win XP. Just on the product activation, and Microsoft's support system. Microsoft has recently stopped supporting products such as Windows 95 and Windows 3.x. What happens when they stop supporting Windows XP? Will you still be able to call up and get a product key? What is your view on that? P.S. I'm still using Windows 95, but have been considering an upgrade to Windows XP. --Roger Kennell

    Answer: This is an excellent question, one I asked Microsoft about recently. The answer I received was that Microsoft will support product activation indefinitely. And that's good news. But I have the exact same concern you do about this. Based on the fact that you're still using Windows 95, I advise you against upgrading to Windows XP. Windows 98SE is a good OS. Or Windows 2000. Skip Windows Me and XP.

    I'm not sanguine about the longterm usability of Windows XP because of product activation. Over time I think a good percentage of users are liable to wind up encountering complex activation issues. The longer you keep a Windows XP machine, the more likely you are to run into trouble with it. --S.F.

    A lot of people are about to install Windows XP or buy it with new PCs and they're going to say, "What's the big deal about product activation? Those computer journalists are making a mountain out of a molehill." The truth is, there are no short-term problems with product activation. It's easy to do, and for a good while anyway, you probably won't have any problems. But there are longterm ramifications. --S.F.

    Product Activation, Number of Machines
    Question: I have a question about product activation for Office XP. Microsoft says that you are allowed to install Office XP on one desktop and one laptop. (Note: The retail license for Windows XP allows only one installation at any given time. The OEM license allows you to install only to the PC you bought Windows XP with.) My question is will they know the difference when you call them for the second activation number, whether it is a laptop or a desktop system. --Randy Lynch

    Answer: They have absolutely no idea at all. I have already heard of people conning them into three IDs because they have a work machine, a work laptop, and a home desktop. Of course, it's all up to the Product Activation rep, but Microsoft has told them to be lax about this -- in the early going anyway. For many of us, though, this notion of conning Microsoft into a second or third personal use installation rankles. Microsoft has every right to protect its intellectual property, but as I've said before, I for one believe that one person should be able to install software on multiple machines. I think it's ridiculous that Microsoft's license calls for installation on X number of machines for personal use. I have 10 PCs in SFNL Labs. I'm the only one who ever uses any of them. According to Microsoft's lawyers, I should buy 10 copies of Office XP and ten copies of Windows XP. In my business, books and magazines and newsletters, we can't get away with that sort stuff. --S.F.

    MultiMon in XP Home Edition?
    Question: I've been discussing the question of the difference between the Home and Professional versions of Win XP with a friend of mine; we both want to have dual-monitor (a.k.a. MultiMon) support, but we simply cannot find any reliable information on whether both versions support this or only one. We have read magazine articles, looked through books on XP ... to no avail! Do you know the answer? (I told my friend "If anyone knows the answer or can dig it out, it's Scot!" ). --Britta (last name withheld)

    Answer: Great question. And I do have the answer. Both versions do support Multiple Monitor (MultiMon). Originally, Microsoft was only going to include it in the Pro version, but several of us in the press -- including yours truly -- were very vocal about that not being the right thing for them to do. Microsoft listened, and changed it. That's probably why a lot of people have been confused. --S.F.

    Send your burning Windows XP questions to the newsletter and look for an answer in a future issue.
    Back to the Top


    Reader Poll: Your Next Operating System
    More than 3,000 people sent in responses to the poll last time that asked: What's your next operating system? That's a sizable return that gives me a clear indication of what everyone is thinking. Almost half of those respondents, some 1,459, said that Windows XP is where you're headed. That makes Windows XP, and Microsoft, the clear winner among Scot’s Newsletter readers. Not really a surprise, but good to know.

    Some interesting dynamics were set up by the other responses though. About 400 people said they were moving to Windows 98 or Win98SE. That number was larger than I expected. Another 720 said they didn't know or weren't planning to upgrade, and about 80 percent of those people reported that they're currently running some flavor of Win98 on at least one machine (or in a multiboot environment). The rest were predominantly Win2K. So that's a little over 1,100 of those who responded, or a little over 30 percent, who are planning to stick with Win98 instead of moving to XP. A small handful say they'll reevaluate XP whenever Service Pack 1 arrives.

    Some other interesting statistics: 530 people responded that they're planning to move to Windows 2000 and not to Windows XP. Another 206 are making the move to Linux. And only 82 people said they were migrating to Windows Me. Only 40 SFNL readers said they'd be moving to Mac OS X.

    Some other interesting tidbits came from the 24 people who reported that they'd be changing to an operating system I didn't specifically list in the poll. Among the OSes they named were FreeBSD, eCom Station (an OS/2 licensee), IBM OS/2 Warp 3.0, Sun Solaris, BeOS, and QNX.

    I see a dichotomy in this data. There's a clear push for Windows XP. Personally, I expect that push to grow, not diminish. The early word-of-mouth reports on Product Activation from people who buy and install Windows XP will be very positive. The initial experience of WPA is quite good. Most people will install it and forget all about it. The bad press about PA will be forgotten. And I think the new Windows will sell pretty well.

    The other half of the dichotomy is this: Whenever there's a major new version of Windows, a significant number of people hang back, extolling the virtues of the known over the unknown. But that number usually dwindles rapidly after a year or two. What I see from this data is that Windows 98/Second Edition may have a much longer shelf life than previous versions of Windows.

    My guess is that none of this falls outside of Microsoft's own internal predictions for Windows XP. The press slathered product activation with negative coverage for about a month and then forgot about it. The OEM PC makers are hungry for Win XP because they need something new, and also Windows XP really does have a chance to eventually cut down on tech support costs. (In the short run, six months to a year, I expect it to raise tech support costs because it is different enough to give Win9x users a little trouble.) Given the PC downturn, Microsoft isn't expecting that much. Internally.

    Maybe PC sales will turn back up next year; maybe not. Either way, I don't see Windows XP being the catalyst that picks PC sales up by the bootstraps. The day has past when Microsoft's operating systems move new hardware in huge significant ways. Sure, Microsoft will reap big rewards on the fact that it is the OEM desktop OS supplier of choice. But that's the hardware moving the operating system. The other way around isn't as big a deal as it once was. I think that's about to come home to roost with Windows XP.

    Back to the Top


    Upgraded SFNL Website and Email
    If you tried to email me or visit the Scot’s Newsletter website over the weekend you may have run into all sorts of errors, including bounced email and "page not found" on the website.

    But all that's fixed. My previous web host, HostPro, merged with Interland. I liked HostPro, but the new policies at Interland included the fact that the company wanted $50 to "upgrade" me to one of the Interland service packages. Customers can continue with their "legacy" HostPro packages, but no modifications to service levels would be allowed. Interland was dealing itself that "collect $50 from every customer" card, like the one you get in Monopoly. I said: I don't think so.

    So about a week ago I decided to shop around for a new Web host. After a lot of research, it came down to ReadyHosting.com and Hostway.com. I went with the latter, mostly because ReadyHosting seems a bit wet behind the ears. Besides, I get a kick out of being hosted on a Linux server. (ReadyHosting is exclusively Win2000.) My domain name change went into effect late on Friday of last week. Due to an inadvertent Hostway error I had a total outage over the weekend -- no mail and no website. Many of you wrote to let me know, but the emails of many others probably never reached me. I'd especially like to thank Michael Horowitz, though, who ran some quick NSLookup tests and realized that there was a problem. When I forwarded Michael's message to Hostway, my buddy Ron there was able to fix the problem quickly.

    So Hostway solved the initial problems and everything was looking good until I realized on Tuesday that I was consistently having problems connecting to Hostway's mail server. I won't go into all the details, but it turns out that Hostway only allows a customer to send/receive three email accounts simultaneously. Now if you're an Outlook Express or Outlook 97/2000 user, this three-account limit isn't a problem. Those email packages stagger simultaneous email account logins by managing them serially. But Outlook XP/2002 and Eudora Email (the one I use) hit the server in parallel. The result being that neither works with Hostway's servers if you have more than three email accounts you check regularly.

    Or so I thought. After contacting Ron at Hostway about this problem, he did what I should have done. He checked the help files for Eudora and realized there's an obscure EUDORA.INI setting, MaxConcurrentTasks=x, that controls simultaneous tasks. The default is 10 tasks. When I changed it to 3 tasks, the problem disappeared. And Eudora still rapidly checks about a dozen accounts in total (both at Hostway and elsewhere). It just works more reliably now.

    For fellow Eudora users, I offer the link below. Click it to see and change your maximum concurrent tasks setting. (And if you don't have Eudora installed, this isn't going to work, ok?) Note: If your connection is dial-up, this setting doesn't affect you.

    x-eudora-option:MaxConcurrentTasks

    Takeaways
    As part of the process of switching domains, I also overhauled the underlying encoding for the website. I've switched from straight HTML to simple JavaScript for controlling the left-hand navigation column and footers. This is much easier, and it also reduces the amount of code -- which should improve performance of the pages. I also changed relative links for virtually every page on the site (all except the HTML newsletter issues themselves). And that switch could introduce some goofs here and there. I've already stepped on a few. If you come across a broken link, please let me know.

    I've tested the new version of the site under Windows with Internet Explorer 5.x and 6.0, Netscape 6.1, Netscape Navigator 4.7x, and Opera 5.x. It works fine with all of them. Under Linux the site looks pretty good in both Mozilla and Opera. I haven't had time to check other Linux browsers.

    Some of you have asked me recently to cover domain/web hosting/website experiences. It's a bit far afield of what this newsletter covers, but if you want me to do a one-time something on the topic, send a message letting me what you'd like me to cover and I'll put it in the hopper.

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    Product Beat: ZoneAlarm 3.0
    Zone Labs recently toured the U.S. talking to editors and writers about its forthcoming 3.0 version of ZoneAlarm, expected toward the end of the year. The big news is apparently an improved interface, as well as new tutorials and wizards -- although I got little detail about these changes from the company. The press release states: There's "a new 'home page'-style overview details system security status at a glance, including summary statistics and quick-links to important security items. In addition, a completely redesigned, more informative alert analyzer includes more information about alerts generated by the software as well as improved logging facilities for better real-time analysis of these alerts. There are also some new security features. I'm slated to receive a beta of the product, and I'll write more about this when I can.

    It appears that that's where the 3.0 Standard (free for personal use) and 3.0 Pro versions overlap. Most of the rest of what's new apparently applies only to ZA Pro. Here's a bullet-point summary of those improvements:

  • Security: ZA Standard and Pro 3.0 will scan application components to monitor any possible replacements of .DLL files. The press release states: "Once a user gives an application permission to access the Internet, both ZoneAlarm 3.0 and ZoneAlarm Pro 3.0 'fingerprint' all components of the application, as well as the application itself, to ensure that a hacker cannot plant a Trojan horse or other malicious code that masquerades as an approved application on that PC."

  • Security: ZA Pro 3.0 will provide active content control, that is, the ability to monitor and lock down ActiveX, JavaScript, and other web-based programmatic activities.

  • Network Controls: ZA Pro 3.0 improves on the 2.6 Pro's popular active network connection features by showing a page of all the networks you're connected to, including wireless, and by giving you the ability to name networks. The press release states: "A new network status display details what networks are active and whether those are 'trusted' or 'untrusted'. In addition, as new networks are identified, including wireless networks, pop-ups allow naming of the network and assignment to a trusted or untrusted zone for easier administration."

  • Network Management: The cooperative gateway enforcement in ZoneAlarm Pro 3.0 will support more protocols, and will include improved VPN support, including status reporting.

  • Privacy: ZA Pro 3.0 will offer a performance-based ad blocking module that allows you to block only those ads that take too long to load. The threshold is user selectable. You can also block specific types of ads, like pop-ups.

  • Privacy: ZA Pro 3.0 adds cookie controls
  • Enterprise: Zone Labs is introducing a whole new line of products called Integrity. It's the enterprise version of ZoneAlarm, and it's also based on Zone Labs' True Vector engine.

  • OS support: All versions support Windows XP, as well as all recent versions of Windows.

  • Pricing: Zone Labs hasn't set pricing yet, an indication that may be considering a price increase for ZA Pro 3.0.
  • Does your company have a new computer product of interest to this newsletter's readers? Submit it to Product Beat.

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    More on the Java VM (and IE 6.0)
    Actually, Sun calls it the Java Runtime Edition. Whatever you call it, IE 6.0 lacks this chunk of code. Reader Wayne Fisher writes that I didn't tell the whole story when I wrote about the lack of a Java Virtual Machine in IE 6.0 back in September.

    And Wayne has a point. He writes: "Users who upgrade from a prior version of Internet Explorer that contained the Java VM will continue to have Java support. IE will use the already-installed Java VM. It is only users who do a clean install of IE 6.0 or who get IE 6.0 as part of Windows XP who will not have Java installed by default. Something else: Apple has updated its QuickTime software and provided a new Active X applet to support IE 5.5 and up."

  • Apple QuickTime Download Page

    So, it's true, just because you install IE 6.0 doesn't mean you automatically won't have a Java VM. Still, competing browser suites, such as Opera 5.x and Netscape 6.x, offer you the choice of installing with or without Sun's Java VM. And I think Internet Explorer should be distributed the same way. The Java 2 1.3.x versions of Sun's product are markedly better than their predecessors.

    Which brings me to another point. My apologies to all because I gave the wrong link back in that September 18 issue of SFNL for the "latest" Java Runtime download. Finding anything on Sun's website is difficult to say the least -- especially anything related to Windows. But I've tracked it down.

  • Java 2 Runtime Environment 1.3.1_01

    Internet Explorer 6.0
    I haven't forgotten that I owe you some in-depth information about Internet Explorer 6.0. I've received well over a hundred detailed responses about IE 6.0 experiences. Boil it down: 90 percent of the responses are something to the effect of "no problems." The rest describe pretty serious issues.

    Not to minimize the woes of people who are having trouble with IE 6.0, but the numbers are low. This is normal, for some people to have nasty problems. So far, IE 6.0 is looking like the most reliable version of Microsoft's browser in a long time.

    Back to the Top


    Norton AntiVirus 2002 Vs. SirCam
    I've promised coverage of Norton SystemWorks 2002, and I have been working on that -- but I've run into a snag. Such a big snag, in fact, that I had to remove SystemWorks 2002 from my machine and replace it with SystemWorks 2001. The snag wasn't a bug or any sort of improper operation. It was a user interface change that simply caused me no end of grief. Norton AntiVirus 2002's email protection no longer gives you the option to automatically delete the virus-infected attachments of inbound messages. Instead, it insists on prompting you about what you want to do with those attachments each and every time.

    For a couple of months now I've been under siege by the computer of a woman (not an SFNL subscriber) who lives in Australia. Her computer is infested with SirCam, and for weeks and weeks and weeks it's been sending me between 100 and 200 emails a day, each with a 200K Excel or Word document file. At first my mailbox kept filling up, and my ISP kept sending me warnings. Then I realized what was going on. Norton AntiVirus 2001 was automatically deleting the attachments, so the messages were downloading. But if my email package was running constantly, my mailbox would quickly fill to overflowing.

    I tried contacting this person who was effectively spamming me, but she never responded to numerous messages. Eventually, I tried contacting her ISP (Hotkey.net.au), but got no satisfaction there. After several weeks I was able to work with someone at my ISP to get her messages filtered out. I hope they're bouncing back her way. There have to be people who leave their PCs running for a week or two. But after a couple of months of this, I began to feel that it might be deliberate.

    Bottom line: When I installed SystemWorks 2002 while this was going on, there wasn't any way to automate the process of handling these SirCam infected messages. I was forced to make several clicks per inbound message to dispatch them. That meant my mailbox would fill up again overnight.

    When I contacted Symantec about this through the company's PR agency, all I got was a vague response that the developers might someday add some sort of fix for this, but nothing is currently available.

    The Upside
    It's really a shame too because there's a lot to like about Norton SystemWorks 2002. Some of the things I like best about the new SystemWorks include a new modular install process that looks and acts a lot like the Microsoft Office install system. The big news is that you can selectively install or uninstall Norton Systems 2002 components. I've been asking them to do this for almost four years. It's an excellent improvement to the package. The only drawback is that you can't selectively uninstall smaller aspects of the modules -- even the Norton Utilities features.

    Another improvement that I've yet to really check out thoroughly is that Norton AntiVirus 2002 no longer uses the funky method it used to (POProxy) to screen email for viruses. The new method no longer entails making changes to your email packages configuration for each mail account. I don't know yet whether it's safer. POProxy had some security risks of its own. But Symantec is moving in the right direction.

    In general, the user interface for SystemWorks 2002 seems streamlined. The product includes CleanSweep 2002 and Norton Ghost 2002 as part of the bargain. Norton Antivirus does a better job of automatically repairing virus-infected files and automatically updating virus definitions. It also protects against transmission of viruses by checking outbound as well as inbound mail.

    On paper, I really like Norton SystemWorks 2002, but until I can be comfortable having it installed on my main machine, I can't recommend it. Symantec should spend more time talking to people in the field about its products before it ships them. Streamlining the UI in such away that you lose functionality isn't always a good thing. In this case, no automatic delete has me thinking about switching brands. It seems like such an obvious thing.

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    About ... The Last Issue
    Last issue I broke format and wrote an opinion piece about the state of the computer industry. Ninety-five percent of those who wrote me about it were in total favor of most or all of my comments. The most common first word in the emails you sent was "Wow!". And I was glad to hear it. In a future issue, I'll print parts of the more interesting responses.

    But the other five percent of the people who wrote me on this one were livid. A few people disagreed but mostly these folks were incensed that there weren't any tips or that I've migrated too far away from what they signed up for. Several people unsubscribed. One particularly annoying guy demanded his $5 donation back. Say what?

    Let me assure you that I'm not moving away from what I've always done. I will continue to cover Windows and broadband. The one thing that's perhaps a little hard to fathom until you've been reading this newsletter for a while is that I let current events take the newsletter where it wants to go. In other words, if there are a lot of new broadband routers or personal firewalls, you get reviews of those products. If there's a new Windows version, you get a lot of coverage there. A lot of people turning to Linux? I've added coverage here and there. If I feel like spewing out a rant, I'm going to do that now and then.

    As you can see from this issue, I'm back to the tried and true format. There's advice, insights, tips, Q&A. Lately the broadband stuff has been slowing down. Well the broadband industry is slowing down right now. There's not a lot that's new. But don't worry, I haven't lost interest.

    So keep your shirt on; and keep your subscription turned on. Whatever it is you're most interested in ... I'll get back to it.

    Oh, by the way, despite some people unsubscribing in protest, the percentage of new subscriptions went up pretty markedly. Both Linux Today and ExtremeTech Forum linked to the newsletter, and there were discussions among the Linux faithful -- some pro, and some con. Eh, mostly con. But I think they might have taken it a little personally. Just an observation. A handful of posters on the Linux Today site clearly got my message: Paul Hubert, Tim Wasson, and Jack T to name some. Anyway, thanks to those of you who passed along information to me about these links, and also to all those who posted about Scot’s Newsletter and the contents of the last issue.

  • Linux Today (scroll down for discussion area)
  • ExtremeTech

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    PC and Broadband Q&A

    -- Are Hardware Firewalls Really Firewalls?
    Question: I'm in the market for a SOHO network gateway/firewall/router solution for a network of five or more PCs sharing a cable modem. I really favor using a hardware solution. The NetGear FR314 is the current front-runner in my selection process, but I am intrigued by your statement "...the FR314 doesn't obviate the need for a software firewall" from your past review of this product.

    It is the "true firewall" features that interest me in the FR314, and I am not sure why I should be concerned about it failing the outbound LeakTest if it secures the network from a zombie program being planted there in the first place. The others I was considering are the Linksys BEFSR41 and the D-link DI-804 (or 704). I am also considering the Netopia Rxx00 series.

    In the configuration you mention in the newsletter, the FR314, ZoneAlarm Pro, and an anti-virus package, I assume that ZoneAlarm would need to be installed on each PC, which I do not want to do for expense reasons and client PC performance and management reasons. Are there any routers out there in the same price category that would obviate the need for a software firewall? Also, while I prefer a hardware solution, will a software solution like WinRoute Pro offer a more robust solution? Further, would ZoneAlarm Pro also need to be used in addition to WinRoute? --Greg Hoover

    Answer: The Netgear is an excellent product. It's not a full-fledged firewall, despite what its makers call it. For full protection, you need both a software firewall and a hardware device. That goes double for WinRoute and every single Internet-access-sharing product I've tested (which is a lot), whether software or hardware. Frankly, the less expensive RT314 and ZoneAlarm or Norton Internet Security do a great job. Similarly, the Linksys, D-Link, and Netopia products are all about equal. (I haven't tested any Netopia models yet, however.)

    Although I have explained this before in back issues of both Scot’s Newsletter and the Broadband Report, I'll go over it lightly again. Most broadband router products afford protection based not on firewall features but on Network Address Translation (NAT), a process that makes your ports "invisible" on the Internet. The Netgear FR314 (and other firewall hardware router products) adds firewall features that guard against specific types of attacks, often of the Denial of Service variety. They also add stateful inspection, a sort of built-in intelligence that examines inbound activity in context for improper behavior. Those things are great. But when you test firewalls in the real world, you find that ZoneAlarm really does a fine job. I've proved this over and over again to myself and others. And I'm not alone in that assessment.

    In case you missed it, here's my firewall test methodology.

    Your reasoning for not using ZoneAlarm surprises me a little. ZoneAlarm does not extract a noticeable performance hit and it's also not difficult to manage. It's also not all that expensive. In your setting it would be something like $40 a workstation for ZA Pro 2.6. That's a very small price to pay for full protection.

    I recommend against using a software Internet-sharing solution like WinRoute (or WinProxy or WinGate). They are less reliable, slower, and they use system resources. An external hardware solution for sharing an Internet connection and dynamically assigning IP addresses is far more reliable. It's also easier to setup and easier to maintain. --S.F.

    Why Baby Bells Need Competition
    Question: I'm a little confused by the comment about the "baby bells" as noted below. Can you elaborate a little? It seems to me that they would (at least in the short run) offer increased competition (which means lower prices). I'm not sure I'm following you on this one, so I would appreciate some additional insight. --Fred Wisdom

    Answer: I think you're referring to the DSL Deliverance item in a back issue of Scot’s Newsletter. I'm not quite sure what you don't understand so I'll try explaining again. When a company like Verizon, SBC, Pac Bell, etc., has an out-and-out lock on DSL in an area, there's no incentive for that company to roll out service -- except on its own often slow terms, which minimize expenditure and maximize revenue. There's no incentive for them to respond to the market. They have a captive customer base.

    Perhaps you're thinking that the baby bells are in competition with the cable companies. And, of course, they are. But what I'm talking about are the CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers). Covad, Rhythms, and others set themselves up in that business, competing with the baby bells for high-speed Internet access subscribers. And while they were in a position to do so, millions more people have received DSL than they would have otherwise. Including yours truly. I would not have DSL if it weren't for the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which required the baby bells to open up the central exchanges to competitors. So long as the baby bells have a monopoly, they'll be in no rush to foot the huge bill for infrastructural improvements needed to roll out new services to new customers. Verizon, for example, still has not rolled out DSL service to my town -- despite the fact that I've had Covad-supplied DSL for two years.

    If you need more evidence, consider this. DSL is a lot older than most people realize. The phone companies sat on it because they made far more money on ISDN, which is several orders of magnitude slower than DSL. Does this answer your question? --S.F.

    Problems Setting Up Multiboot
    Question: I have a minor problem I'm sure you can easily help me with. I installed Windows ME on Drive C and Windows 2000 (FAT32) on Drive E. For some reason it seems that when Windows 2000 is installed it creates a small partition, approximately 8MB and is Drive D. A dual boot was not set up but there is a BOOT.INI file in the root directory containing this text:

    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

    Can I just add C:\="Microsoft Windows ME" at the end of the above file to gain the choice of booting either to Windows 2000 or Windows ME? --Richard Chandler

    Answer: The short answer is "no." Just adding a line to BOOT.INI won't solve this one. The usual way to handle this is to install Windows 9x (in this case, ME) first and Windows 2000 second. When you do that, and answer prompts correctly during the Win2K install, you will wind up with a properly configured dual boot.

    However from the information you've given me, I think you should be concerned about the disk partitioning on your PC. Did you have no Drive D: before installing Windows 2000, but you did have a Drive E:? If so, how were you forcing drive C: and drive E: with no drive D:? That could be the root of your problem. Or it's possible that your partitions were improperly set up prior to installing Windows 2000, that you had a leftover partition from a Windows NT installation (which may have been in a FAT volume?), or even that your hard drive is improperly configured in BIOS. This actually might not be a simple problem, but a serious and complex one. When partitions appear on their own, pay attention, and get to the core of the trouble promptly. You don't want to mess with your data, OS installation, or program installations. File systems can wreak havoc when they go bad.

    If you have PartitionMagic 5.0 or newer on this machine, I would run that utility -- which often fixes problems with partitions as a matter of course. It will also let you delete partitions and reset the size of the partitions dynamically. I would like to help you more with this, but I don't really have enough information to diagnose the problem. --S.F.

    Dual Boot Drive Question
    Question: I have two hard drives on my PC: one 20GB partitioned as a single disk with 5GB free and one 4GB partitioned as single disk with 500MB free. Will I be able to dual-boot Windows XP with Windows Millennium Edition without re-partitioning either of my hard drives? --Mehraj. Dalwai

    Answer: No. You need more free disk space. WinXP will want to install in its own partition, and in the second partition (the one without Windows Me in it). You need at least 1.5GB free to install WinXP. It's not going to use all that drive space after the installation. But 500MB isn't big enough to truly use any more. If you repartition the first drive using PartionMagic 5.0 or 6.0, you should be fine. Move some of those free 5GBs to a new second partition. But consider getting a much larger second hard drive and dumping the 4GB hardware. --S.F.

    Send your burning question to the newsletter and look for an answer in a future issue.
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    For Subscribers Only
    I get a small but steady number of complaints from people who want me to make the back issues of this newsletter more generally available on the Scot’s Newsletter website. I had an email from a fellow not long ago who was pretty bitter about the fact that I hadn't updated the main SFNL home page to show that the latest issue of SFNL. He also criticized me because my email address isn't prominently displayed on newsletter's home page. And of course, this "reader" was not a subscriber.

    I can sympathize with the man's frustration though. I personally prefer the website version to the text version of the newsletter because it's easier to read and scan. But I have a problem. There's no future for me in producing a Web column. The only viable mechanism is the email newsletter. Everything I do on the SFNL website is aimed at supporting the newsletter, not the other way around. So I ask everyone to be a subscriber -- especially during this period where I am rebuilding my subscriber base.

    But I also try to make it easy for anyone who is a subscriber to skip the text newsletter in favor of the Web to access back issues, special "Best Of" content (which you'll be seeing more of in the future), and to access the latest version of the newsletter. So, for subscribers only, here are some links you might want to bookmark:

    The Latest Version of SFNL:
    http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/current.htm

    This link magically transports you to the latest version of the newsletter on the website. It gets updated at the same time that I create the HTML version of a new SFNL edition and send out the text email version.

    SFNL Back Issues:
    http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/backissu.htm

    You'll find this Back Issue link at the top of every edition of this newsletter sent via email. Check out the Back Issue page for the Best Of content, as well as links to the back issues of Windows Insider and Broadband Report, each of which still contain a ton of useful information.

    Take a quick look at the way I construct URLs for the newsletter. You should find it pretty easy to type them into the address bar of your browser. Each edition is numbered by its "issue number." At the top of this issue of the newsletter, you'll find a link to the website version. In this issue, that link is:

    http://www.scotsnewsletter.com/14.htm

    The Web address for the previous issue of the newsletter ended in "13.htm" and the URL for the next issue (scheduled for October 30) will end in "15.htm".

    I hope this information makes it more convenient for subscribers to work with Scot’s Newsletter content. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to dash them off to me.

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    Word 2002 Flashing Titlebar Patch
    Microsoft did it. They fixed the biggest problem I discovered in Word 2002. In case you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, see these back issues of SFNL:

  • Working Toward a Word 2002 Fix
  • Two Ongoing Word 2002 Problems

    In short, when I launch Word 2002 from the Quick Launch bar (icons next to the Start button) under Windows 98 or Windows 98 Second Edition and immediately open any dialog box, the program effectively locks up. The dialog box doesn't appear, and Word's title bar begins to flash in helplessness. Clicking anything in the Word 2002 window has no effect. If you click the program button for Word 2002 in the taskbar (which also flashes), the program window minimizes and then the dialog you requested opens.

    Based on a lot of work I did with them, they were able to localize the problem and fix it. They recently sent me a new version of WINWORD.EXE, and I've confirmed that they have indeed fixed it. The patch will be available as a HotFix probably several weeks from now that anyone can download. There's a pertinent Knowledgebase article you might want to bookmark if you've had this problem too.

  • Q286857 WD2002 - Dialog Box Doesn't Open After Quick Launch

    I've asked Microsoft to let me know when the patch is generally available, since many of you wrote me that you had the same problem with Word 2002. When it become available, I'll put a short item in the newsletter.

    Sometimes things do work out.

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    Link of the Week: Two Top Networking Links
    It's two-fer week. I couldn't choose between two of my favorite networking support links: Da LAN Tech and Steve DeRose's guide to CAT5 computer network wiring. Both are very worthy Link of the Wink aware winners, and both are repeats from the back issues of Windows Insider and Broadband Report (newsletters I penned for Windows Magazine and Winmag.com).

    To be honest, classifying Da LAN Tech as a networking resource is putting to fine a point on it. This site has a wide variety of useful materials. I just happen to really like the networking stuff. And then there's the name. Don't miss the security section though. It's great too.

    Steve DeRose's guide to CAT5 computer network wiring actually helped me out once when I was building my own Category 5 Ethernet cable and I got turned around on the pin-out. This is an old fashioned Web help page that offers a lot of insight and explanation.

    Have you discovered a relatively unknown Windows- or broadband-oriented website that everyone should know about? Please send me the URL, and let me know why you liked it.

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    Tips of the Week
    This week I'm revisiting two previous tips with expanded coverage. Next time, I hope to cover some of the many great suggestions I received in response to the tip recently about how to access the Microsoft Knowledgebase. So stay tuned.

    Even More on FDISK /MBR
    The link you provided in May of to Ted's Tech Site as Link of the Week had some links to undocumented FDISK options. It appears there may be a /CMBR option that will allow you to specify a specific drive other than the C: drive (which is FDISK /MBR's default). I found this information at the following sites, listed at Ted's under hard core DOS section.

    Note: The original Undocumented FDISK site, by Michael Jacobsen, apppears to be no longer available on the 'Net. The following links include some copies of Jacobsen's site, and some others like it:

  • Copy of "Undocumented FDISK"
  • Free FDISK
  • Notes on FDISK's Undocumented Switches
  • Shhh! The Undocumented DOS Commands
  • MS-DOS 7 FDISK
  • The FDISK Page
  • Fix A Fried MBR
  • AXCEL216's Max Speed
  • Ted's Tech Site

    Some of the stuff applies to the Windows versions of the MS-DOS tools. --Leslie Coke

    More On Screensaver Login Tip
    Whoa, I wish I had a dime for every message I got on this tip from a couple of issues ago. The overriding message went something like: "Hey, Scot, this can be defeated nine ways to Sunday. And what's more, all you have to do is hold down the Shift key while Windows starts to prevent programs from launching from the StartUp folder."

    I think I was pretty plain in stating that this isn't a serious way around the Win9x "Cancel" login issue. There's only really one solution to that: Windows NT/2000/XP. Win9x just isn't designed to lock out people who don't have a password.

    Several people also sent me somewhat erroneous alternatives. Microsoft Family Login, a network client, is designed to aid this problem. Like this screensaver tip, it will prevent inexperienced users from logging on. But it's no panacea. I've also found it to be a little quirky. If you're interested in trying it, you already have it in more recent versions of Win9x. You can add it from Network Properties.

    There's a Registry hack that's made the rounds that I'm not going to pass along to you. Really it isn't a big deal. The same Registry change is provided by System Policy Editor. The problem is that if your PC is not on a network, or it's on a peer network but not client/server domain-style network, you can literally lock yourself out of your own computer. Not worth it, folks.

    Finally, if you want to prevent someone from bypassing the password-protected screensaver by using the Shift key, all you have to do is make the screensaver startup run as a service in System Registry. (Personally, I prefer the StartUp folder only because I can easily defeat it. Anyone computer experienced enough to remember the Shift key thing will know four other ways to get in. What's the point?)

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

    This works because the shift key does not bypass anything in the registry, just the Startup folder on the Start Menu.

    Reader Paul Kinney (among others) contributed to this follow-up.

    Home Favorites
    Reader Al Kraybill writes: "Your discussion of ISP branding leftovers reminded me of a setup I've been using in Netscape Navigator for years. I use my bookmarks as my homepage. In Netscape this is done by setting the homepage location to the line below, but I haven't been able to figure out how to do this in IE. do you know?"

    file:///c|/Program Files/NETSCAPE/users/default/bookmark.htm

    (Note the c| drive on which your Program Files folder is stored, and you may have to replace "default" with a specific user name.)

    Internet Explorer doesn't have a pre-made Favorites page. IE stores user-saved URLS as separate icons in the C:\Windows\Favorites folders. By contrast, Navigator's Bookmarks are entries in the Bookmark.html file. Because they're all in one HTML file, it's easy for you to open them as the home page. It is possible to make IE's Home button point to the C:\Windows\Favorites folder, but if you do that, you'll get that folder instead of the browser each time you launch IE from it's icon -- which is a little disconcerting. So I don't think there's a good way to do this. Thanks for the Navigator tip.

  • Best of SFNL: Repair the 'Branding' Changes ISP Software Wreaks on Your PC

    Do you have a Windows or broadband tip you think SFNL readers will like? Send it along to me, and if I test it and print it in the newsletter, I'll print your name with it.

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    Happy News
    In a short while, God willing, the world will contain a very special new person whom I already love dearly. My wife and editor, Cyndy, is eight months pregnant with our child. So, if at some point in the relatively near future this newsletter doesn't appear in your mailbox when you might have expected it -- you'll know why. After that, expect me to be ornery and grumpy for a while. Well, now that I think about it that won't be much of a change. ;-)

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