More Back Issues
Let’s Fight Sp@m!
NetBEUI and Win XP
Letter Mail Donate
Recommend Scot’s Newsletter to a Friend!
May 9, 2002 - Vol. 2, Issue No. 25
By Scot Finnie
IN THIS ISSUE
To Bob Cringely: My heart-felt condolences. I have a six-month old baby girl, and I can't even imagine how devastated you must be. But I also admire your courage and ingenuity. If there's some way I might contribute to Chase's cause, I would be very pleased to do so.
Back to the Top
Perhaps the worst offender is a message I've received repeatedly whose subject line reads: "W32.Klez.E removal tools." That subject couldn't be further from the truth; if you open this attachment, you're unleashing the W32.Klez.gen@mm virus on your PC. The subjects of similar messages say "Worm Klez.E immunity" and "W32.Elkern removal tools." Other notable message subjects containing virtual bombs include "Look my pretty girlfriend" (sic), "A special powful tool" (sic), "A WinXP patch," and "IE 6.0 Patch." It seems clear that you don't need to be great with the English language to send out Klez. And also that you think you have a sense of humor. I even got one that read: "Hello, scot,eager to see you." Yeah, right.
By and large, my antivirus program (I'm currently using Norton AntiVirus 2002 -- because of something I'm testing -- even though I recommended against it) is keeping up with the Klez barrage. But I have found some messages that Norton missed with suspicious attachments (like Setup.exe) from people I didn't know. That's why I say it's only a matter of time.
There are things you can do to prevent disaster on your PC in these strange times. The most important ones are at the top:
1. Buy, install, and regularly update (at least weekly) a top-notch antivirus program. I like the products from Trend Micro, Norton, and Panda. Be sure to renew your annual subscription to the antivirus updates. That's money well spent.
2. Outlook and Outlook Express users, you must install all the security patches for your version of Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer. Windows Update handles Windows and Internet Explorer. Outlook users in particular need to visit the Office Product Updates site as well.
While you're at it, stay up to date on all things Office-related with Jim Powell's The Office Letter newsletter.
3. Never, ever open an attachment in an email message from someone you don't know. All sorts of file types can run automatically when you click them -- not just .EXE and .SCR files. Start out by assuming any file attachment is a program, not a file. And it's sad to say, but you're also better off assume it's a malicious file.
4. Never open an attachment from someone you do know if anything about the message or the attachment is surprising or out of context. If you have even the slightest doubt, don't open the attachment. Contact the sender, and ask him or her to verify that the attachment was sent intentionally.
5. Avoid opening messages whose topics sound too good to be true, like someone posing as someone you know or like Spam. Most malicious code borne by email requires you to click it. But there are some variants that begin to work on your PC as soon as you open the message. The most likely type of email to do that would be HTML or other graphical or animated mail, but there are no guarantees. And using a mail preview window is no protection either. In fact, with some email programs, a preview window may unleash the bad stuff without notice.
6. If you use Outlook or Outlook Express, your address book is frequently targeted by email worm and virus creators who use your address book to proliferate their destructive seeds. Even if you have one of these programs installed but don't use it, it can still be harnessed to send out viruses without your knowledge, so long as you have email addresses in the address book. Your first line of defense is to add your own email address as a contact in your Microsoft address book. If the virus triggered a virus message from your PC, you would in all likelihood receive a copy of the message sent to others. Hopefully, that would alert you to the problem.
7. A variation on the same idea is a tip supplied by SFNL readers Rasa Petrovic and also Charlie and Jan Knutsen. I've tested it, and the tip works, though it makes assumptions about how email worms or viruses send email to replicate themselves. It's not going to work with all malicious code; it's not a panacea; but for Outlook and Outlook Express users, it's worth doing.
Open your email address book and add a New Contact. In the first name field type *000 (that's an asterisk followed by 3 zeros). Two zeros, four zeros, !000, or others -- so long as the new entry appears at the very top of your address book. (Varying this name is preferable because if everyone uses the same contact name, virus writers may wise up and delete a specific entry.)
In the box where you would enter the email address, type XXX_WormAlert, replacing XXX with your own first name. Click Add, and click OK when the address book wonders whether you really want to add an invalid email address. Close your address book, and your done.
How it's supposed to work: When a virus attempts to send out one message to all the recipients on your contact list, your email program will halt the sending of the message because the first (lowest alphabetical) address is invalid. No messages will go out at all, and a dialog box will open showing you that XXX_WormAlert is the address with the problem. If you ever see that error message, you know that either you've accidentally sent an email to your invalid email address Contact, or a virus is at work on your system, attempting to replicate itself to all recipients in your address book.
The offending message will probably remain in your Outbox, ready for another attempt. Go in there and delete it, update your antivirus program, and run a full scan of your system.
Real-world analysis: I tested this tip with Outlook Express 6.0. What I found was that it didn't matter what I named the XXX_WormAlert New Contact entry. I tried naming it ZZZ and that still halted the transmission to all the recipients. I decided not to change the tip because I'm not sure whether that's the case with all versions of Outlook Express and Outlook. But I want to stress that you shouldn't rely solely on this tip. It's just one of many measures you should take. There's a reason why it's toward the bottom of the list here.
8. Several programs provide added protection that prevents you from running executables and scripts that arrive on your computer. ZoneAlarm has a built-in routine that renames executable attachments to prevent them running. The latest version of the program provides support for a lot more file types.
I prefer my friend Jason Levine's Script Sentry utility, which I've mentioned before in Scot’s Newsletter.
It's also free if you like, or you can donate to Jason's cause. You'll find other downloadable programs on his website, Jason's Toolbox. Also, check out his Test Your Email Defenses routine to see whether your PC is prepared to protect you from malicious
9. Be aware that most antivirus makers provide free tools for ridding yourself of common viruses and worms. For example, Symantec offers this downloadable tool for W32.Klez.gen@mm.
10. Of all the things on the list, there's one thing you can do that will almost certainly prevent your computer from transmitting email-borne viruses: Stop using the Outlook or Outlook Express email programs. I recommend Eudora, PocoMail, or The Bat! Mind you, using an alternative email program won't prevent you from getting virus messages. But it's a start.
Do you have other safe email tips to pass along to Scot’s Newsletter readers? Forward them to me, and if I think they're useful, I'll make sure they get published.
Back to the Top
Last issue I explored the option of using a well-known boot manager, V Com's System Commander, to manage the process of installing Windows 98 SE in a second partition of a Windows XP PC running on NTFS on the C drive.
I was eventually successful in making this work using an undocumented setup command, supplied by V Com. But the whole thing was tougher than I'd expected, and not convenient. To its credit, since my experience and the last issue of this newsletter, V Com has posted information that describes the problem I have and provides the setup switch information that solved it for me.
No matter how you look at it, System Commander 7.0 isn't optimized for this purpose, and Microsoft's Win 98 setup routine just isn't that XP savvy (it is pretty good with NT 4.0, and to a lesser extent, Win2000). I'm hoping that a future version of SC will do better at this.
It's worth noting that, for unknown reasons, some people have no trouble with Windows 98SE's setup detecting a pre-existing XP installation as I did. But at least two SFNL readers have reported they had the exact same problem using System Commander to do exactly what I was trying to do. So I'm not alone. (What's more, this does not appear to be something System Commander caused, it just didn't solve the problem.) In a way, I'm glad I've hit what's probably the toughest nut with my test machine. My goal (as always) is to find one solution that works for all.
I decided to piece together my own way of solving the problem. I started with the "Dual Booting with Win9x" section of Craig Stinson and Carl Siechert's "Windows 2000 Professional Expert Companion," a book I recommend. It did provide some sound pointers (especially on what to do when an attempt to install Win 98 gets you into trouble). But the basic insights the book delivers work more with Windows 2000 than with Windows XP (not surprisingly). Microsoft has actually made the process a bit tougher under XP.
There's no way around the fact that any sort of do-it-yourself solution requires you to create a new partition. There is at least one free disk-partitioning tool that several SFNL readers have recommended. (I have not tested it.) It's called Ranish Partition Manager.
If you're bound and determined not to spend money doing this, I guess Ranish is the way to go. I used the $40 Paragon Partition Manager for my testing. I probably would have used PowerQuest's PartitionMagic 7.01, but I've increasingly found it to be buggy in the Windows XP environment. The Paragon utility is a slightly better product for XP.
Another decision I made along the way was to try to use the built-in Windows XP boot loader instead of resorting to a third-party boot manager. That makes the job a little harder. A large number of readers have recommended a freeware boot manager called XOSL.
So if you want to diverge from the route I took, and you want to do it without spending money, that may be your best route.
The NTFS file system has many advantages. But one of its disadvantages is that FAT32 partitions can't see NTFS partitions. That's why it often makes sense on multiboot PCs to convert the Windows XP partition to FAT32. That also simplifies the process of making repairs in the event you run into trouble configuring multiboot. And I found it to be an imperative for making this particular job go off without a hitch. So I'm recommending a FAT32 conversion. If later on you find that you miss NTFS, you can always use your utility of choice to convert back. (Actually, one of my two solutions requires you to stick with FAT32.) Just remember to check whether your cluster size is 512-bytes if you do convert back to NTFS. If it is, review the back issues of Scot’s Newsletter listed on this page for help that will improve your disk performance significantly.
Trials and Lots of Errors
With the new FAT32 partition in place, the next step was to try various solutions. SFNL readers have sent me a ton of suggestions about how to solve multibooting problems. And some of their ideas are in what follows. But let me say at the outset that the scope of this multiboot series is very specific: Installing Win98 over Windows XP with NTFS. Multiboot is a huge topic. I may cover another aspect of it again in the future, such as Win2K and WinXP multibooting. Or Linux and Windows multiple booting (which is actually relatively easy, by comparison). Many good tips have been sent to me that are off-topic, but I save them all.
The suggestions that were on point were also highly varied. Some people suggested using a utility, such as PowerQuest PartitionMagic or Paragon Partition Manager, to hide the XP NTFS directory. PartitionMagic won't hide the boot partition, and although Partition Manager does allow you to do this, it just got me into trouble. While I was then able to boot to the Windows 98SE Full Installation floppy boot disk, when I attempted to run the Win 98SE install routine, my hidden drive C became my inactive drive F. And, of course, the system wouldn't boot.
Hiding the partition may work in some instances if you follow a specific set of steps. It would be possible to make the NTFS directory a higher drive letter, set it as inactive, and hide the partition. Then configure your FAT32 directory as Drive C, make it bootable and active. But with this approach, you will have to futz around with either the Windows XP installation or the Windows 98 installation. Or more likely, you will have to reinstall Windows XP over itself, using the Repair option (not Recovery Console). In fact, this solution, in part, was suggested by SFNL reader John Schmidt. I didn't wind up adopting it as my recommended solution although it shows promise.
In fact, if you have accomplished this feat yourself, I want to hear about it. Remember, the goal is to start out with Windows XP and NTFS and wind up with Windows XP over NTFS on drive D and Windows 9x over FAT32 on drive C. The kickers: You don't have to reinstall your applications, and you're using Windows XP's boot manager. If you've got a method that works, send it to me, and I'll test it (details are preferred). If it works, I'll publish it and give you credit.
Some of the other suggestions included adding a second physical hard drive or pulling the data cable on one of your hard drives. This approach (they're really both the same idea) only works if you have two physical drives. Most people, I don't think, do. And there are cheaper ways to accomplish it. Still, this is relatively easy to accomplish if you have two physical drives in a desktop PCs or two removable drives in a notebook PC. The trick is changing the drive letters assigned to the drives, something you can do in a variety of ways.
After fairly extensive testing, there are really only two methods I recommend. Again, both methods require a dynamic partitioning utility. I used Paragon Partition Manager, which sells for about $40 on the Internet.
Before I go any further, though, here's the traditional disclaimer folks. I've spent hours looking for a solution that I think will work for everyone, while at the same time being relatively easy to implement. But I can't promise your results won't vary. If you get into big trouble, please feel free to email me. But don't expect my support on this. In other words, use these recommendations at your own risk.
Method 1: The first approach isn't a new idea, but it's perhaps the best one. I'm talking about kissing your existing Windows XP installation goodbye and starting over. This method requires you to reinstall your apps, and its fairly arduous, but you can revert to NTFS if you want to later on (Method 2 requires FAT32 permanently).
From Windows XP, repartition your drive into two partitions, converting drive C to FAT32. With this method, you have a choice of leaving drive D as NTFS, since that's the new home of Windows XP. When it doubt, convert both drives to FAT32 -- that's the most reliable course.
Copy any files or program installations you want to save from drive C to drive D. Reboot to a Windows 98 boot disk and install Windows 98SE on Drive C. Once that mission is fully accomplished, reboot to your Windows XP CD and install Windows XP on Drive D. Choose the Setup Windows XP option, and then the Repair existing installation selection. That process will automatically configure a multiboot menu. You will have to reinstall all your applications, but you probably won't have any device driver glitches. And the end result is a bulletproof multiboot installation of both operating systems.
Note: If you've always wanted to have Windows 2000 on there too, make three partitions and install Win 98 first, Windows 2000 second, and Windows XP third. Win 2K will create a multiboot menu, and then Win XP will modify it. On some of my machines I have 98, NT 4.0, Win 2K, and XP. So long as you install them in that order, this works perfectly.
Method 2. This approach owes almost everything to Doug Knox, Microsoft MVP, whose website I've pointed out in the past. I tested Doug's solution thoroughly and it does work when many other suggestions either worked partially or worked only in certain settings. It's the best option if you don't want to do Method 1. It's also a lot easier than Method 1, taking very little time. Not much longer than it takes to install Windows 98, in fact. Best of all, it preserves your existing applications for XP.
There's just one catch: With this solution you can't go back to NTFS when you're done. You wind up with Windows XP on drive C and Windows 9x on drive D. Win9x needs to be able to read certain files on the primary drive in order for it to boot properly, and it can't read anything on an NTFS partition. It is possible to monkey around making different drives primary, but you're probably begging for a problem (this is something I may follow up on in future issues).
Some people will find it a plus that you wind up with Windows XP in drive C and Windows 98 in drive D. Personally, I consider it a drawback if only because Windows XP (and Microsoft) view it as somehow "wrong." Sooner or later it might get you into trouble with future OS installs or upgrades. But it does work, and I recommend it wholeheartedly if Method 1 isn't for you.
Step By Step: Adding Win98 The Easy Way
1. Follow the same steps for creating a second partition on your drive, converting both partitions to FAT32.
2. While you're still in XP, check this page on Doug's site. Follow the first three steps under "Repairing the Windows XP Boot Loader" section there to create the Read.scr file and copy it to your Windows 98 floppy boot disk. (You can also click a link on Doug's site and just save the file directly down to the boot floppy. That's what I did.)
3. Check your Windows 98 floppy boot disk and make sure it contains the Debug.exe file. (Windows 98 SE Full Install floppy disks do not hold this file.) But if you made a Windows Startup Disk via Control Panel, you should be all set. You'll find Debug in the C:\Windows\Command folder of any Windows 9x PC. It must be the same exact version of Windows 9x as the one you're installing.
4. Reboot the computer with your Win 98SE floppy boot disk. If you have a Full Install boot floppy, choose the option to launch Setup from the CD. With an Upgrade boot floppy (one you made with Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Windows Startup Disk), choose the option to boot with CD-ROM support. Change the DOS prompt to your CD drive by typing its drive letter at the DOS prompt and pressing Enter. Then type Setup and press Enter again.
I've seen a lot of variation in the initial Win98 setup screens depending on the state of your hard drive, the file systems you have installed, and which version of Windows 98 you're using (that is, Full Install or Upgrade version; most OEM versions will not work). If you have FAT32 on all partitions, you may or may not be greeted with a screen that tries to get you to exit setup because you have another version of Windows installed. If you see this screen, choose the option whose gist is ... continue anyway. Other times when I have run the installation, the Windows 98 install goes off without a hitch, as if DOS was the only OS in the world.
If for any reason Setup will not let you proceed, exit out of it and try initiating the set up process with this command line:
setup /d /NTLDR (Note: All caps on NTLDR are required)
For the record, you will be destroying Windows XP's simple boot loader as part of this process. But we'll fix that in a little bit, so don't worry about that.
5. There's really only one part of the Windows 98SE installation where you need to pay attention. The "Select Directory" screen defaults to installing Windows 98 in the C:\Windows.000 folder. Choose the "Other Directory" option instead, and on the next screen type D:\Windows (where D is the drive that represents the drive partition where you want Windows 98 to reside). Note: Do not try to install it on the same drive with Windows XP.
After that, Win 98 Setup should continue as usual. When you get done with all the rebooting and everything, you're ready to start the next step. The state of affairs on you computer at this point should be that you effectively have a Windows 98-only computer. Windows 98 is on drive D, and it starts and runs fine. But you're given no option at start up to load Windows XP.
6. Next, boot the computer with your Win 98 floppy boot disk again, choosing to boot without CD-ROM support. At the A:> prompt type this line and press Enter:
What's going on here is that the script is creating the Bootsect.dos file, which is required to multiboot Win9x with Windows XP (or earlier NT-based OSes).
7. The next step is to boot from your Windows XP CD. To do that, your computer must be capable of CD booting. If it is not, create Windows XP floppy boot disks. If you're having a problem with this, though, it is a lot more likely that your computer is capable of booting to a CD, but the functionality is disabled. You may need to press a key during system boot or change a setting in your BIOS (or both). On my Compaq Armada M700 test machine, I get a message during boot that says "Press any key to boot from CD."
8. Either way, your Windows XP CD must be in the CD drive. Let the CD or floppy boot disks load all the way. When the disk churning stops, a Setup screen will ask whether you want to set up Windows now, repair it with Recovery Console, or quit Setup. Choose "R" for Recovery Console. Once it loads, press "1" to choose C:\Windows, and type your XP administrator's password. If you don't think you have an administrator's password or if you've got XP Home, just press Enter. With the C:> prompt showing, type this word and press Enter:
Type "y" (without the quotation marks) to confirm the action when prompted. Then remove your CD and Type "Exit" and press Enter. Your machine will reboot.
9. At this point, you should be confronted with Windows XP's multiple-boot menu, which will give you 30 seconds to make a decision between Windows XP and Windows 98. In my tests, Windows 98 came up as the default version -- that is, the one that loads automatically if no selection is made. I wanted to change that. I also wanted to shorten the 30-second delay. While it's possible to edit the Boot.ini file, whose contents control the boot menu, there's an easier way.
With XP running, choose Start > Control Panel > System. Click the Advanced tab. Then click the "Startup and Recovery Settings" button. Under the "Default operating system" heading, you'll find a drop-down that lets you choose the default operating system. Beside "Time to display list of operating systems," you'll find a scroll box showing numbers of seconds. Change it to read 5, 10, or 15 seconds -- whatever delay you prefer. I use 10 seconds.
You can also edit the words that appear on the boot menu by editing Boot.ini directly. Start by removing the Read-only attribute. To do that, right click the C:\Boot.ini file, choose Properties, and remove the check mark beside Read-only. Then open Boot.ini with Notepad and carefully edit the words in quotation marks after the equals signs. Save the file when you're done, and remember to reset the Read-only attribute.
If you've got multiboot suggestions, questions, or comments, send them right here.
Back to the Top
This was pointed out to me by SFNL reader Adam Porter, and I've come to agree with him completely on the point. Recovery Console lacks the facility that DOS's Edit.com (or the older Edlin) provided. There's no text editor! What was Microsoft thinking? You can't easily fix your Windows XP installation if you can't, for example, edit Boot.ini. Even more ironic, Edit.com is supported from the XP command line, just not in Recovery Console. The one time you need it most, it's not available.
Microsoft, in its infinite protect-us-from-ourselves wisdom provides a Recovery Console command called Bootcfg that automates the process of editing Boot.ini. This is a useful tool under the circumstances, but it's no replacement for a text editor. Now I'm sure someone has figured a way around this Recovery Console idiocy. If you've found a better way, send it to me and I'll let everyone know about it.
Another supremely dumb Recovery Console limitation that I can't pass up mentioning is the fact that the Change Directory command prevents you from accessing any folder on your PC but the root and Windows directories. Why? I'm thinking this is a security thing, but I'm willing to bet that most people would rather take the risk.
Finally, the DiskPart utility -- which is like a very light version of Fdisk -- is so limited as to be nearly helpless. It's ridiculous that Recovery Console's tools are so limited. One of the reasons many people refuse to switch to NTFS is that it's tough to extricate yourself from disk trouble under NTFS. (Under FAT32, DOS tools like Fdisk are available to you, but Fdisk can't manipulate NTFS partitions.) Microsoft needs to give long hard thought to the tools it's delivering in Recovery Console. Because the way things are now, it should probably be called Partial Recovery Console. Even the Automated System Recovery (emergency disk) goes awry, in my opinion, under Windows XP. I prefer the Windows 2000 version.
Back to the Top
By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, the Web host poll never really panned out. There were no clear trends, no diamonds in the rough that were clearly head and shoulders above every other Web host. I had to scrap the notion of either finding a new host that way or awarding a winner. There just wasn't one. That isn't to say that people nominated bad Web hosts. There just isn't enough to differentiate them on paper to make any sort of reasonable recommendation.
Back to the SFNL site, Jason Levine has developed a new ASP/CDONTS subscription center for me. It also provides settings for both the HTML and Text versions of Scot’s Newsletter -- including the ability to do a Change of Address from a Text version to the HTML version. At the same time, I was about to roll out a new domain name for the newsletter: scotsnewsletter.com.
All of this was to happen this week, except for one thing: Jason's new subscription center isn't working under SectorLink. You see, the script Jason developed works perfectly on his site (in fact, it's running there now, but only as a temporary test). When we place the same code on my SectorLink site, the routine throws an error message. Here's the kicker: Jason's website is also hosted by SectorLink. Huh?
After a day of wrangling with SectorLink support, I finally got to the bottom of it. SectorLink's newer servers (which I'm on), have increased anti-spam measures that prevent me from accepting email addresses with domains that are anything other than email@example.com. This is supposed to prevent mail-relaying. And for many applications, that's fine. But not for this one. I'm only sending messages to one place, my newsletter distributor's list server. But the messages need to have return addresses from you, my subscribers, or the newsletter distributor won't be able to process your subscription changes. No matter what, it's not even possible to use my CDONTS script to send spam.
In my opinion, all these anti-spam measures are hurting everyone BUT the spammers. This is the third Web host in six months whose anti-spam measures are making it impossible (or at least tough) for me to provide the newsletter subscription center that Scot’s Newsletter readers need. One way or another, I'll get this worked out. But I may have to leave SectorLink to do it. It's too bad, too, because I really liked them otherwise.
SectorLink refuses to move me to one of its older servers, like the one Jason is on. But SectorLink says that the CDONTS script can be modified to do what I want to do. And I ran a simple test that showed they might be right about that. Jason is still working on it, though. Perhaps he'll come up with a solution. Maybe by next issue.
The good news is that as soon as this is fixed, the HTML version of the newsletter will be out of beta testing. It will also be much easier to change your subscription address or change from Text to HTML. You'll know as soon as I do.
Back to the Top
Back in October of last year, Scot’s Newsletter told you about the new Windows XP version of Tweak UI. I included a download link to the Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP page, and went on my way, not thinking much more about it. The entire PowerToys tool set was installed on one of my XP machines, though. I haven't had trouble with it. I've also used it infrequently.
At some point late last year, Microsoft quietly yanked the Windows XP PowerToys, and posted a message that the utilities would return in April of 2002. True to its word, Microsoft re-released the new Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP a couple weeks ago, on April 23.
In the new release, Tweak UI appears to be exactly the same, and it has the same version number. The only thing that differs is that you no longer install all the PowerToys as one set, selectively installing or uninstalling. That was pretty slick, but I'm not unhappy with installing the programs individually. Tweak UI is the best of the bunch. But you may find something else that solves a problem for you. They're worth taking a look at. You'll find descriptions next to the download links.
As with all previous versions of Tweak UI and the PowerToys, this one is completely unsupported by Microsoft. Use them at your own risk. Past versions have not caused serious problems. But two things you need to know: 1. These are only for Windows XP; 2. You must uninstall any previous version of Tweak UI before installing a new one. Here's how to uninstall Tweak UI, no matter what.
For users of Windows 98/98SE/Me/NT4, if you want the version of the PowerToys for your Windows version, as well as detailed steps on how to install them smoothly, see the Best of Scot’s Newsletter page called Step-by-Step: Installing Tweak UI 1.33. I've just updated it. Along with the instructions, you'll find download links for Tweak UI and the PowerToys.
Back to the Top
Answer: Good question, Edward. I'm sure a lot of other people are wondering about this too. First, it is definitely possible to use the crossover cable with two computers. Second, you wouldn't use a router to network computers, you would use a switch or hub. Third, there is no speed or compatibility advantage to using a switch over using a crossover cable. You use the same software either way, and it's all built into Windows.
The one question you should ask yourself is this: Can you see a third PC in your future? If so, then I would recommend getting a 4-port switch now, two standard Ethernet cables, and two NICs. I like Belkin for some hardware, but I wouldn't choose them for this type. I suggest Netgear or Linksys. To be specific, I like Netgear network interface cards (NICs) and Linksys switches for home use.
Here's how you would configure things with the crossover cable:
1. So long as you have only two computers and you're not sharing a broadband connection, the crossover cable method is the least expensive and it has no downside. You still need two Ethernet NICs. The brand I recommend is Netgear, and I strongly prefer the older FA310TX Netgear PCI cards. These sell from Microwarehouse for about $20, and the last time I checked that vendor had a large supply. I just bought some there myself.
2. When you buy your NICs, get the crossover cable at the same time. A crossover cable looks just like a standard RJ-45 Ethernet cable, but the wiring pin-out is a little different. Crossover cables are used in very specific applications. In this application, it allows two computers to network without having to be switched. Buying them from a company like Microwarehouse, or even in your local computer store, is pretty easy these days. You should have no trouble. Most crossover cables come with a marker or label that says "Crossover" on it, or it may say "X-over."
3. The hardware part of this is pretty simple. You install the network cards, one in each PC. Follow the installation instructions that come with your NICs for installing the driver. The Netgear cards have been around for a while, so most versions of Windows (98 and on) recognize them automatically. Once that's done, connect the crossover cable between the ports on the back of the NICs on the two PCs.
4. Each computer needs to have networking protocols and a network client installed in order to network. This is accomplished in the Network Control Panel. (Under Windows XP, Control Panel > Network Connections > Local Area Network > Properties.) You should find these items listed in the there:
* Client for Microsoft Networks
* An adapter for your NIC
* A dial-up adapter
* TCI/IP for both your NIC and your dial-up adapter
* File and Printer Sharing
That's the minimum needed to make networking work. If you have AOL, a VPN, or other networking oriented products installed, you may also find other items already in your network stack. Leave those alone.
I would also suggest installing either NetBEUI or IPX/SPX and NetBIOS support (the last two go together). XP doesn't have NetBEUI readily available, but it is on the Windows XP CD. To get started, I recommend installing Microsoft's IPX/SPX-compatible protocol instead. In fact, based on what you've told me, most probably the first thing you'll have to add is IPX/SPX (most of the rest will already be there). You turn on NetBIOS by getting properties for IPX/SPX after it's installed. The two computers should be able to network even without adding it, but they may not network reliably.
You also need to enable sharing. Under Win9x/Me, there's a button for that on the initial Network Control Panel dialog. At the least, you'll want to share files. It's usually already installed under Windows XP, although Microsoft will put you through the wringer actually sharing your drives. More on this in a moment.
5. Your network and each of your PCs needs a one-word name. Under Windows 98 you add that by double-clicking the Client for Microsoft Networks entry in Network Properties. You'll find appropriate fields for Computer and Workgroup names. The Computer names have to be different; but the Workgroup name has to be the same on both PCs.
Under Windows XP, this is a bit more difficult. Click Start > Control Panel > Right-click Network Connections > Choose Properties. From the menu, choose Advanced > Network Identification > Change button (or you may have to click Network ID). Enter your computer name and Workgroup name. "Workgroup" is an acceptable name for a Workgroup, but only if your network isn't connected to the Internet. (Technically, when you dial-up to the Internet, your network will be connected to the Internet.)
6. In order to network via TCP/IP, each computer needs to have an IP address. On a bigger network, IP addresses are usually assigned to individual computers by centralized software or hardware. But on this small network, that isn't really necessary. Windows has a built-in feature that allows TCP/IP to work in this setting. When an IP address isn't assigned to a TCP/IP networked PC by a server (and you won't have a server, you're setting up a peer network), Windows automatically assigns an IP address to itself. And it does that in a way that other Windows computers will be able network with automatically. This should work for you.
If it doesn't, there's one common trick to try. Click Start > Run > type "winipcfg" without quotation marks > press Enter to run the IP Configuration program. Under Windows XP, you run the Command Prompt and type "ipconfig" on the command line; type "ipconfig /?" for instructions. In WinIPConfig, select your network card from the drop down. If you buy Netgear NICs, it'll say Netgear FA310TX, or something like that. Then click the Release button. Wait until the program is finished releasing the IP address, which may take a minute or two. Then click the Renew button. Do this first on one PC, and then restart both PCs. Check networking (by double clicking Network Neighborhood or My Network Places on newer versions of Windows) on the desktop. Assuming your hardware is correctly installed and the cable is a crossover and is correctly plugged in to both NICs, and you've installed the proper networking services, this should work.
There's another way around the problem, assigning static IPs. To do that, get properties for your TCP/IP item in Network Properties (under Windows XP, that's "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)"). Click the radio button for "Use the following IP Address" and enter one of these two IP addresses, one on each machine (they must have different IP addresses):
The subnet mask should be:
You can leave the Default gateway blank.
7. The last step is sharing. Although each workstation should be visible in the other computer's Network Neighborhood, you won't be able to access the other computer via the network until specific devices (hard drives, printers, specific directories on hard drives) are shared. To share a hard drive under 98, open My Computer, right-click a hard drive, and choose Sharing from the context menu. You need to give the shared drive a name. Something like "Drive_C" will suffice. But the choice is yours. Under Access Type, specify whether other computers connecting to this one will be able to read only, be able to read or write ("Full",) or be able to Read Only or Read and Write based on password. As a starting point, choose Full, in your setting. If you're concerned about limiting access, you may want to choose another option.
Windows XP attempts to prevent you from sharing devices, especially whole hard drives. In your case, though, it's not a big deal. Start the same way, in My Computer by right-click a drive and choosing Sharing and Security. You're going to have to make your own way through this pathetically convoluted wizard. I can tell you this, I keep telling the wizard to get out of the way and share my drive. -- S.F.
Direct Cable Connection Under Windows XP
Question: Has a past edition of Scot’s Newsletter addressed the issue of setting up a Windows Direct Cable Connection (DCC) between a Windows XP system and a Windows 98 system? Or barring that, are you acquainted with a source that sheds light on this problem? XP doesn't seem to provide a path similar to Start > Programs > Accessories > Communications > DCC that is provided in Windows 98. Any thoughts would be genuinely appreciated. -Paull Palmer
Answer: First, Direct Cable Connection is a means of connecting two Windows PCs (versions beginning with Windows 95) via their parallel ports that simulates a network connection. When it works, it allows you to share files between two PCs. But it was really designed to copy files from one computer to another on an ad hoc basis -- not provide ongoing network functionality.
To find out how to set up Direct Cable Connection under Windows XP, check the Help facility: Start > Help and Support > Search for "Direct Cable Connection" > Under Pick a Task, choose "Make a direct network connection using a DirectParallel cable." In addition to very specific step-by-step instructions for how to set this up under XP, you'll find info on where to get the proper cable to make it work.
That's the good news. The bad news is that DCC has never worked reliably. I have personally spent hours messing with it trying to get it to work. I recommend against even bothering. It also only gets more complex trying to use it between Windows 98 and Windows XP. If you want a quick and dirty way to connect two PCs, get yourself two Netgear network cards (I recommend the FA310TX PCI and the FA511 PC Card models), and a crossover Ethernet cable. Poof, instant network. (See previous Q&A.) We're talking a $50 investment if it's two desktop PCs. Money very well spent. The advantage is that you have a permanent 100Mbps network connection for your investment. DCC provides nothing like that. It sounds good, but it isn't. Give it a miss. --S.F.
About Office XP Product Activation
Question: I read in one of your newsletters where a person could buy Microsoft Office XP and install it on more than one home PC and a notebook. Is this true? Who do I contact to get additional "install certificate numbers?" --Melissa Kramer
Answer: Yes it's true about Office XP (and some versions of Office 2000). The Office XP EULA (End User's License Agreement) differs from the Windows XP license. The Office license allows you to install the application suite on a desktop PC and a portable PC. And they have no way of knowing whether it's installed on two desktops or two notebooks. The phone number to call shows up on your Product Activation screen automatically when you attempt to activate the second installed copy via the Internet.
Here's how it works. You install Office XP on your second PC. After you get done installing, you have, I think, 50 launches of any Office module before you are required to activate the product (or it will stop working). The first time you launch any Office program, it will bring up the activation screen. If you attempt to activate via the Internet you'll get an error message after a minute or so saying this copy of Office XP has already been activated. But it will provide the option of calling the Microsoft Activation phone number. And the activation screens will walk you through the steps. Once you explain that you're installing Office XP on your portable machine, the phone rep should provide you with an activation ID number that you must type into a screen to activate your second copy of Office XP. If you ever uninstall this second copy of Office XP, you'll have to call back and get a new activation ID. --S.F.
Uninstalling Tweak UI 1.33
Question: I was surfing the Net to see if I could find information about uninstalling Tweak UI. I am running Win98 SE and downloaded the Tweak UI from the Internet some time ago but would like to uninstall it. So far I have been unsuccessful in finding how to do that short of reformatting my HD and reinstalling Windows from scratch. Can you help? --Helmuth Reindel
Answer: Tweak UI uninstalls like any other app, from Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs applet. Are you not finding it there? Or is the uninstall routine not working? Well, not a problem. Tweak UI is a very simple application. It does not do anything bad to your system at all (assuming you install the correct version). The 1.33 version for Windows 98/98SE/Me/NT4 consists of four or five files:
C:\Windows\Help\Tweakui.gid (may not appear)
But the easiest way to find them is by using Windows' search facility to find files named:
If you can't remove this little program from Add/Remove Programs, I would just delete the files. The only significant registry entry is:
There you can just delete the "Tweak UI" entry. This entry is just there to load Tweak UI on system launch. It will do nothing if you delete the files. You can also disable it using MSCONFIG if you're Registry shy.
You may also find an entry here that you can delete:
You'll find the uninstall string here, you can delete it too:
Hope this helps. --S.F.
Send your burning question to the newsletter and look for an answer in a future issue.
Back to the Top
He's also the president of V Communications (also known as V Com), the folks who make System Commander and several other utilities. While working with Frank on System Commander and Windows XP, he passed along a link to his personal website, The OS Files. It's a cool place because it identifies roughly 50 operating systems -- those from the past, present, and future -- and gives details about them. There's also a section on Free OSes. It's a cool place. Check it out. Well deserving of Link of the Week honors.
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.
Back to the Top
When you have a dial-up connection established, and you try to use Fast User Switching feature to switch to another user, the dial-up connection drops. Kelly's solution is to click Start > Run > and type "regedit" without the quotation marks to launch the System Registry Editor. Navigate to this area of the Registry:
Right-click any blank area in the right pane. Choose New > String value. Name the new value KeepRASConnections. Double click the new value, type 1 (that is, the number "1"), click OK. Reboot the computer.
I'm on record as not being a big fan of automatically loading .REG files, which when double-clicked instantly modify the Registry. In this case, though, it makes sense, since you're adding a new item. If, as Kelly writes, working in the Registry is not to your liking and you'd prefer to download a .REG or .VBS file that will edit it for you, or if you want to check out other Windows XP dial-up tips from Kelly, check out the page on Kelly's site where this tip is shown.
This tip can also be used, says Doug Knox, to allow the Windows XP Guest account to access the Internet via dial-up (normally considered impossible). Simply make the change, log on to an account that does have dial-up access, and make the connection. Then use Fast User Switching to switch to the Guest account. The connection remains active and the Guest account can browse the Net.
Kelly also maintains the Windows XP from A-Z website.
Consider this to be the second Link of the Week this week. The A-Z list links primarily to Microsoft Knowledgebase articles or provide info by topic right in the list. I guarantee you that you'll find something you didn't know about XP if you walk through the different letters. Cute idea.
Do you have a Windows or broadband tip you think SFNL readers will like? Send it along to me, and if I print it in the newsletter, I'll print your name with it.
Back to the Top
The Fine Print
If you like this newsletter, I need your help spreading the word about it. Please share it with friends and co-workers, and encourage them to sign up! It's free.
Visit the new Scot's Newsletter Forums.
Subscribe, Unsubscribe, Change Email Address or Message Format
You can unsubscribe at any time; I don't believe in captive audiences. The website subscription center is the easiest way to manage your Scot’s Newsletter subscription. Changes take only a minute or two. You must select your message format — Text or HTML — even for address changes or unsubscribes.
To help with the cost of creating and distributing the newsletter, I accept contributions via PayPal and Letter Mail. For more information on donations:
Send comments, suggestions, or questions about this newsletter. Don't be bashful about telling me what you like or don't like. Send emails related to editorial content (only) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please address advertising inquires (only) to: email@example.com
How to Link to Scot’s Newsletter
Copyright © 2001-2007 Scot Finnie. All Rights Reserved.
Ten Myths About Copyright Explained.
You are subscribed to Scot's Newsletter HTML EDITION as: $subst('Recip.EmailAddr')