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June 2004 - Vol. 4, Issue No. 57

By Scot Finnie

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Review: IBM ThinkPad T42 15" LCD | Top Product!
  • Zone Labs Ships Antivirus with ZoneAlarm 5.0
  • Perspective on Microsoft's XP Service Pack 2 Plans
  • Verizon DSL vs. Comcast Cable Follow-Up
  • Fourth Annual Broadband Poll Results
  • Your Favorite Windows XP Tips
  • For Linux Explorers: Lost Password!
  • Scot's Newsletter Stuff
  • Link of the Month: eBay and Shopping Revisited
  • Tip of the Month: When Win XP/NTFS Won't Boot
  • Newsletter Schedule
  • Subscribe, Unsubscribe, Change Your Subscription


    Review: IBM ThinkPad T42 15" LCD | Top Product!
    In the January and February issues of this newsletter I wrote an in-depth, long-term review of a relatively old product, the IBM ThinkPad T40p 2379-D3U.

    Although I found some things to nit-pick at, particularly in the follow-up story, I've been using the ThinkPad T-series notebooks for most of a year now and I still love them. Although that 2379-D3U eval. machine went back to IBM, I currently own two ThinkPad T41 units, have a third from my company, and a couple of days ago received the newly released T42 that IBM sent me for review. My wife better keep me away from eBay or I'll probably grab her one too. [Editor's note: What's yours is mine, dear. --Cyndy]

    The New T42
    So you're probably getting the message that I like the ThinkPad T-Series notebook line. The new T42 model is a package of goods. The eval. unit I received, model 2373-CWU, is up-level with the new 15-inch LCD screen and a 5400-RPM 80GB hard drive. It also comes with the 1.8GHz Dothan model 745 Intel (Centrino) Pentium M chip, which Intel debuted in early May. The new CPU is the first from Intel using the 90-nanometer process. But the data point I like best is the 2MB of onboard Level 2 cache. That's four times the amount of cache on Pentium 4 chips and twice the amount found on previous Pentium M processors. Larger onboard RAM cache is a big part of the reason why Pentium M processors feel at least as fast as Pentium 4 chips running significantly faster clock rates. If the data is already in the onboard cache, faster clock rate isn't going to beat cache.

    The 2373-CWU's 15-inch screen is both its main advantage and main disadvantage. Despite sharing many of its innards with T41 and T40 ThinkPads, the 15-inch LCD T42 models have a redesigned case and a wider footprint. The case is also slightly thicker top to bottom. IBM's design people sculpted the edges of the case to make it look smaller than it is. But I don't find the increased size to be any detriment at all. The only significant trade-off is that 15-inch LCD T42 weighs 5.7 pounds, including its DVD/CD-RW drive. (A similarly equipped 14.1-inch-LCD T41 model weighs 4.9 pounds.) The larger display, beefier display hinges, and wider case all contribute to the added weight. It won't bother you on your lap at all. But stow it in a notebook case and carry it around a large airport or a convention hall, and you'll be painfully aware of its heft.

    That was the downside to the big screen. For me, there's also considerable upside to that extra diagonal inch of screen size. IBM's native 1400-by-1050-pixel resolution on some T40/41 notebooks makes the desktop and user interface controls so tiny as to be unusable on a 14.1-inch display. While you can switch to 1280-by-1024-pixel or smaller resolutions, these non-native LCD resolutions rely on software interpolation resulting in far less crisp text and images. Don't believe me? Compare the two side by side.

    That extra diagonal inch makes all the difference for usability though. The 15-inch screen is just large enough to make working at 1400 x 1050 for hours at a time a realistic endeavor -- instead of a headache in the making. (Note: The most expensive T42p models offer 1600-by-1200-pixel resolution, called UXGA. I haven't tested this, but I suspect that for all but the youngest eyes, long-term use may be similarly painful.) The 15-inch screen is paired with the 64MB ATI Mobility FireGL T2 video circuitry and a "FlexView" wider viewing angle (on some models, including the 2373-CWU). Some T42 models also offer 128MB of VRAM. The display is especially bright with excellent contrast, well saturated colors, and crisp edges even on the diagonal. The extra screen real estate combined with IBM's excellent UltraNav pointing system -- the only notebook mouse-replacement that equals a desktop PC mouse -- means that you can realistically get your job done on this notebook PC just about anywhere. The built-in 802.11a/b/g wireless networking makes wireless access both as easy and as fast as it gets. Plus, IBM makes the best notebook keyboard in the business. For serious business users (or anyone who loves great hardware), this particular combination of features is hard to ignore.

    Epilogue
    Take a moment to add that up: Everything you need to work on this notebook PC with the same high level of concentration and efficiency you would on a top-notch desktop PC is built into this well designed notebook. That whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts advantage is at least equal to the disadvantage of is roughly three-quarters of a pound extra weight over the 4.9-pound T41. (IBM is also offering the T42 in several variations with the 14.1-inch screen.)

    For my money, this is the perfect desktop-replacement notebook for telecommuters or anyone who frequently takes work home from the office -- especially if you also want to tote it to the occasional tradeshow or corporate event. It's not the right notebook for students who regularly drag their laptops to classes or anyone who travels on business more than half a dozen times a year. But for casual portability and maximum screen real estate and workability, the 15-inch T42 is absolutely peerless.

    Although they're a tad pricey, IBM's ThinkPads define the current state of the art in notebook design. The more I use this the T42 15-inch model as my primary satellite computer, the more I appreciate the shrewd compromise IBM struck in designing it. For desktop replacement and light traveling, the T42 is the best portable computer ever made.

  • Top Product! | ThinkPad T42 Model 2373-CWU, IBM, Phone: 888-SHOP-IBM (888-407-7426), Support, Press Release, IBM List Price: $3,159, eBay T42 search

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    Zone Labs Ships Antivirus with ZoneAlarm 5.0
    Zone Labs introduced a new version of its well known ZoneAlarm firewall software as well as a brand new antivirus application. The new ZoneAlarm security duo comes at two price points, $70 and $20. The $70 version, called ZoneAlarm Security Suite, is bundled with ZoneAlarm Pro 5.0 and all the extras, including personal data privacy protection, Web content filtering, pop-up blocking, and instant messaging security.

    I received an early copy of the gold version of ZoneAlarm Security Suite a couple weeks ago and quickly installed it on four machines to get a feel for it. Zone Labs licensed the antivirus engine from Computer Associates. A lot of SFNL readers who use the CA product have praised it in the past. The big issue has been user interface design. Zone Labs appears to have fixed that aspect. Think of ZoneAlarm's antivirus as Norton AntiVirus Lite, and you've get the feel for it. It doesn't have everything that the NAV offers. For example, it scans inbound email but not outbound. But it's easy to configure, self updating, and best of all seems to have a very low system-resources footprint. I like the feel of the program. If tests out in all regards, it could become a new standard for me on all but my main machine. But a lot of testing is still needed.

    Automatic Program Control
    One of the best features of ZoneAlarm 5.0 is a technology that's been evolving with recent versions of the firewall. In this iteration, Zone Labs calls it Automatic Program Control. If it works as billed, ZoneAlarm has the chance to push Norton Personal Firewall 2004 out of the limelight. Using expert rules that Zone Labs has been building for quite some time, ZoneAlarm 5.0 can actually make smart, automatic decisions about how to handle application requests for port access. Automatic Program Control has an Internet component, which means that Zone Labs can adjust automatic behavior in response to the changing security environment or as information becomes available about new applications. Of course, Zone Labs lets you turn off Automatic Program Control. There's also a manual setting that puts you in control while giving you the information delivered by Automatic Program Control.

    My first test of the manual version of Automatic Program Control was disappointing. When the ZoneAlarm pop-up message appeared for Windows' infamous svchost.exe process, ZoneAlarm's dialog informed me that there was no information about this program. I'm not sure whether Automatic Program Control's servers weren't up when I tried (in advance of the actual ship date of the product), or whether the program that was making use of svchost.exe to access the Internet wasn't identifiable by ZoneAlarm. The result was no change over the essentially confusing user experience we've seen from virtually all software firewalls. But the serious testing is still to come on ZoneAlarm 5.0.

    Zone Labs is effectively charging $20 for its new antivirus package. You pay $19.95 for the new ZoneAlarm 5.0 with Antivirus package. This version of ZoneAlarm equates to the free for personal use editions of earlier versions of the firewall. Zone Labs will also continue to distribute its basic firewall, updated to 5.0, free for personal use. The ZoneAlarm Plus version is being discontinued, however. ZoneAlarm Pro 5.0, without the antivirus program, will sell for $50.

    Along with the good news about the new ZoneAlarm 5.0 there is some bad. People are reporting problems with the new ZoneAlarm antivirus technology and the firewall. I've heard reports of email-scanning conflicts with all recent versions of Norton AntiVirus and also with Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). You can read for yourself about these issues at Scot's Newsletter Forums. Or check Zone Labs' forums.

    Zone Labs also offers FAQs for its three paid products:

  • ZoneAlarm Security Suite 5.0 FAQ
  • ZoneAlarm Pro 5.0 FAQ
  • ZoneAlarm 5.0 with Antivirus FAQ

    Revert to ZoneAlarm 4.5
    So many people are having early difficulties with ZoneAlarm 5.0 that I thought I'd pass along how to back out of ZA5. This information is the gist of a thoughtful post from Scot's Newsletter Forums moderator ChrisP. First, follow the instructions in this Zone Labs tech document for uninstalling the new version of the company's software. The 4.5 version of the ZoneAlarm firewall is the one I recommend until the dust settles. Here's a direct download link for ZoneAlarm 4.5 free for personal use. If you have the Pro version of 4.0 or 4.5, so much the better. I prefer the Pro versions of this maker's products.

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    Perspective on Microsoft's XP Service Pack 2 Plans
    None of this should surprise anyone: Microsoft delayed Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) until later this summer. The company is rumored to be planning to give away CDs in retail stores. And the software giant has made it patently clear that it has no intention of making it possible for people with pirated copies of Win XP to upgrade to the forthcoming security-focused service pack.

    Why? Because Microsoft is about two things right now: Making money and making Windows a lot more secure. Microsoft is always about money. (What company isn't?) And despite one or two moves to the contrary, Microsoft has for about two years been highly focused on stemming the tide of negative publicity about Windows security. (Reason: See the first thing Microsoft is about.)

    So it should come as no surprise that Microsoft, a company that remakes itself just about every day, has these leanings:

    1. It will ship Windows XP Service Pack 2 when it's good and ready to do so. Don't expect a rush to market for XP SP2. Some people bemoan the fact that we were ready six months ago (at least!) for the security features the new service pack has to offer. Of course, that's true. But a lot of things can go wrong with an ambitious service pack too. Better to get it right the first time. Microsoft is right about this.

    Therefore, I don't expect to see the final version of Windows XP Service Pack 2 before Labor Day begins to loom. Problems with application compatibility -- especially with enterprise Web applications -- and also the need for third-party security ISVs to develop and release patches to their programs to make them Windows Security Center detectable, mean that rushing isn't a good idea.

    2. Microsoft wants all 210 million or so Windows XP PCs on the planet to gain access to the Windows XP Service Pack 2 code. The sooner that happens, the sooner most XP PCs will be protected by at least a rudimentary firewall that shields inbound port access, especially by malicious software that seeks to glom onto unsuspecting PCs. Even so, don't expect free XP SP2 CDs on computer store shelves (or, as one Microsoft exec put it, a darkening of the skies with XP SP2 CDs a la AOL in the 90s). Why? Because not every Windows PC is a Windows XP PC. Free is a powerful thing on a retail store shelf. Free could cause Windows ME owners to try to install XP SP2 on their machines.

    Obviously, XP SP2 will be free to download. But I would not be surprised if Microsoft decided to send the XP SP2 via mail for free to anyone who filled out a Web form request or called a toll-free phone number.

    3. So if Microsoft is so bent on getting XP SP2 out to the masses, isn't it a contradiction that it has decided not to allow people with pirated copies of Windows XP to install the security upgrade? I think so. But remember Microsoft's primary drive: Money. If most Windows XP PCs are protected, then the few that are left to spread the bad seed can't damage the rest.

    But something Microsoft made a point of explaining to me recently is worth passing along. The software maker doesn't actually block product activation of a new service pack on every illegal installation of Windows. Most pirated copies of Windows are traceable back to only a handful of product IDs. In the Service Pack 1 timeframe, only two product IDs had been distributed far and wide as "cracks." That list must be a good deal longer now, but it's only widely distributed product IDs that are being blocked by the software giant. So this doesn't affect everyone.

    By the same token though, many people who have purchased used PCs or new PCs from disreputable dealers may have pirated copies of Windows XP without knowing it.

    I guess when it comes down to a debate between priorities -- security vs. revenue -- one side of the argument always has more juice.

    Next Up for XP SP2
    Expect a public download of Release Candidate 2 just about any minute now. As with other public releases of Windows software, I recommend that you hang back unless you can test it on an unimportant test machine that you don't mind wiping or restoring a cloned image on. And never install a beta of a Windows version or service pack over another beta; never install the final released code over a beta. If you install a beta, be prepared to forfeit your Windows installation. Even though Windows XP SP2 pre-release versions to date have all included working uninstall routines, that does not mean that the results are good to go long term.

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    Verizon DSL vs. Comcast Cable Follow-Up
    A lot of interesting email arrived after last issue's head-to-head broadband comparison review of Verizon DSL and Comcast Cable. Some of the most interesting and conflicting missives contained disagreements with or corroboration of my contention that sharing the Comcast cable connection seemed to be disallowed, based on my reading of the four documents that comprise Comcast's Terms of Service.

    In particular, I draw your attention to Comcast's Home Networking Amendment. Even a casual reading of this document implies to me that the Home Networking package is required for Comcast customers to network and share the cable connection -- even if the company isn't actively going after people who network without the package. I intend to go directly to the company and find out. If I learn something different, I'll let you know. I agree that other parts of the various Comcast documents are ambiguous on the point, and they also seem to change frequently.

    One possible explanation might be that exceeding Comcast's unstated limit on maximum data transfer per month could be resolved by upgrading to the Home Networking package, where perhaps the unstated limit may be higher. But I'm just making this up as I go along.

    This much is certain: The Comcast Home Networking package is $67.95 a month, and it lets you network up to 5 computers to your cable modem. If you also order cable TV from Comcast, the Home Networking package is $52.95. For an extra $5 a month, Comcast leases you the cable modem and also the router. The standard cable Internet service (not the "Home Networking" package) is $45.95 a month if you get cable TV too.

    So, I'm not sure where I was wrong in the last issue in saying that Comcast wants to gouge its customers for $7+ a month for the privilege of sharing a cable Internet connection. Check it out for yourself. Scroll down to the "High-Speed Internet" area. (This page changes frequently.)

    Verizon DSL to Get Faster
    Meanwhile, only a few days after my review was published, Verizon openly committed to two different improvements to the performance of its DSL package. According to a Verizon announcement, beginning in the second quarter of this year (in other words, any day now) the upstream performance of Verizon's DSL service will be improved from 128kbps to 384kbps. The company also announced that it intends to add a third performance tier, 3Mbps downstream / 768kbps upstream, beginning some time this summer. Verizon is also releasing Voice over IP (VoIP) services that will make use of DSL lines to carry voice data.

    There have been some reports, including this brief story from Broadband Reports, that Verizon is considering stretching the distance to the CO to 18,000 feet to provide service to a wider circle of customers. So far, though, I haven't been able to get corroboration of that from Verizon.

    And if you want a peek at the real future of phone-company provided broadband, keep an eye on Fiber to the Premises (FTTP).

    Thanks to SFNL reader Daniel Faulkner and others who contributed significantly to this story.

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    Fourth Annual Broadband Poll Results
    It took two issues to get this poll right, but in the end, we did by getting over 8,000 poll responses. The results are not terribly surprising -- although cable-modem penetration usage is very high by this newsletter's audience. Here are the highlights:

  • Just under 50% of you have cable Internet
  • About 28% of you have some form of DSL
  • About 15% of you are stuck with analog dial-up Internet access.

    Those are the three biggest response buckets. Satellite and fixed wireless Internet access methods are the next largest, with each claiming about 2% of the Scot's Newsletter audience. All other access types, including T1, ISDN, fiber optic, and hotspot wireless access -- account for miniscule percentages. It's worth noting that only one person reported power-line broadband access. If you want to know why I haven't covered power-line broadband, that's why.

    I probably shouldn't draw this conclusion based on the results of this poll, but it would seem that something over 80% of Scot's Newsletter readers have some form of broadband Internet access faster than ISDN. Pretty darn good, everyone. I'm glad for you. There's nothing else like having information at your fingertips.

    This year's poll was structured differently than the previous Annual Broadband Reader Polls. But for reference, see the 3rd Annual Broadband Reader Poll.

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    Your Favorite Windows XP Tips
    Let's work on this together. Windows XP has been out since October of 2001, now it's 2.5 years later and it's time for Scot's Newsletter to do a special issue on the best Windows XP tips. I'll be beating my head against the wall coming up with my favorites, but this story will be a lot better if you contribute your very best tips too.

    A Windows XP tip must work in Windows XP. It's OK if it works with other versions of Windows too, but I need step-by-step instructions for Windows XP. Please be clear and detailed. Don't assume I know what you're driving at. You might have the best tip in the world, but if I can't figure it out, I'm not going to be able to include it. Credit will be given to all successful contributions, but to do that I need your first and last name. (I never publish email addresses!)

    When you send your tip(s), include two things:

    1. What does the tip do? It should add functionality, refine the user-interface, or prevent or fix a common Win XP malady.

    2. How do you implement the tip. Please describe this step by step, and don't skip steps you feel are obvious. It's OK to write something like this: "Click Start > Run > type MSCONFIG > press Enter" when you mean to click the Start menu button, choose Run, type msconfig in the "open" field, and press the Enter key. But please make sure you've given me every step involved. Don't worry about your writing being confusing. I can usually figure that out.

    These things are *not* tips:

    1. A shareware program that does something cool. I define a Windows tip as something you do to Windows XP that does not require the use of third-party software. Feel free to send me info like this too, but send it to: mailto:potw@scotsnewsletter.com

    2. A Microsoft knowledgebase article that warns about a problem or provides a download of some sort. That doesn't mean all KB articles aren't tips. Some Microsoft KB articles very definitely contain instructions that are tips.

    3. A .REG file that you download and double-click to make a change in your System Registry. (Although the change contained in that .REG file may well be a tip. And the .REG file could be part of the tip.)

    One last point: If you got this tip from a website, forum, newsletter, or book, please let me know about that. And a URL would be appreciated. I've never met a tip I couldn't improve significantly, but I also always try to give credit where credit is due.

    I have high hopes that -- with your help -- this may be one of the most popular stories in Scot's Newsletter this year. Here's where to send your tips: xptips@scotsnewsletter.com

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    For Linux Explorers: Lost Password!
    What if one day you sat down to your computer, and couldn't remember your user password? It could happen. Senior moments, blonde moments, Mom's-heimers -- call it what you will -- but every so often the humans among us lose random bits of data. And, because it's bad security (or rather no security) to write down your passwords, here's how you can login despite the forgotten password.

    IMPORTANT: The tips in this document require the use command-line commands. For more information about how to read and execute Linux command-line prompts and commands, please check the Linux Clues' Linux Cheat Sheet, especially Linux Prompt Basics and Linux Command-Line Nomenclature.

    Lost User Password
    So you forgot your user password, eh? The following steps assume you've forgotten your user password but remember your root password. If you don't remember your root password, skip down to that section.

    Start by logging in as root. (If you're not sure how to do that, read Logging in and out as Root on LinuxClues.com.) Next, open a terminal or console and type the three lines that follow. (Remember, don't type the pound symbol, that shows you're logged in as root.)

    # passwd {type your username here without the curly brackets}
    Type in a new password    (Ignore the error message you'll probably get.)
    Type in the new password again.

    Log out as root and back in as user with your new password.

    Of course, this fix assumes you remember your root password. What do you do if you forget your root password? Not possible? Ok, just imagine you disappear on a fantastic vacation, sans PC. (It COULD happen.) Let's say you spend a glorious two weeks of baking your brains in the sun, or hiking up the sides of mountains viewing stunning vistas. Day after day after day. Then after 14 days of this you head back home, where you power up the PC, go to login and have brain fade trying to remember your root password. What should you do? Well, we'll show you.

    Lost Root Password
    IMPORTANT: Physically disconnect your PC from the network and the Internet -- pull the Ethernet cable out, eject the wireless card, whatever. Just make sure you're offline. This is to protect your PC from possible Internet-borne attack while you're repairing the password. Please heed this warning and follow this safety procedure. Linux is vulnerable during these steps.

    Follow this two-step process. Because the first step varies from distro to distro, we're presenting several alternatives, including an advanced version. The second step is pretty much the same across the board.

    Step 1: Red Hat and Mandrake
    Start with install CD #1 and boot with it. As the first screen appears, press F2 and type:

    rescue    (Type "linux rescue" for Red Hat.)

    The computer should boot into rescue mode. The screen will display several options. Select: "mount the existing partitions" and go to the shell/console prompt. (Mandrake users: Boot into "failsafe" from the Lilo menu instead.)

    Step 1: SuSE
    Boot from your first install CD and press F1 at the first screen, then choose "Rescue System" from the menu and at the prompt type:

    root    (You do not need a password.)

    Step 1: Other Distros
    Boot from your first install CD (or any live CD like Knoppix) and at the boot prompt type:

    linux single    (For Knoppix type "knoppix single" without the quotes.)

    The computer will boot in single user mode. You will see an odd looking prompt that might look something like: "sh-2.05b#".

    Step 1: Advanced Alternative
    If you're a regular reader of Scot's Newsletter and you carried out the Rescue CD Linux Explorers tip from the last newsletter issue, you already have a Linux rescue CD, which is required for this alternative to Step 1.

    By booting with your rescue CD (or to a live Linux CD, such as Knoppix), you can bypass Step 1, mount the partition and, while logged in as root, skip right to Step 2 and make the changes to the files Step 2 requires.

    Step 2
    After following Step 1 as appropriate, type the following at the prompt:

    # cd /etc    (For Knoppix, first you must change directory to the partition with your lost-password distro.)

    Step 2 requires you to make changes to these two files: "passwd" and "shadow." Type this line:

    # vi passwd    (This opens the file with the Vi editor.)

    Next, press the I key, which places the Vi editor in Insert mode.

    For more on the Vi editor, see the Vi Editor edition of Tips for Linux Explorers.

    The first line of the passwd file will probably look like this:

    root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash

    Carefully delete the "x" after "root:" being sure to leave the colons in place. The first line should now read:

    root::0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash

    Save the file by pressing the Escape key and then typing:

    ZZ

    To edit the second file, type:

    # vi shadow

    Press the I key to place the Vi editor in Insert mode.

    The first line of the shadow file is a long scrambled string of characters. Change it to:

    root::::    (That's four colons.)

    Save the file by pressing the Escape key and then typing:

    ZZ

    Now you can reboot your computer. Log in as your normal user, open a console, and type:

    $ su
    # passwd

    And set the new root password. Log out as root:

    Ctrl-D

    And the job is done!

    Congratulations! You've now reset your lost password. You should plan on never, ever going on another extended vacation again (or getting older, or having kids, and so forth) -- so this will never happen again. After all, there's nothing more important than Linux. Right? Priorities, people!

    Sources
    Most of the material you find in Tips for Linux Explorers comes from Bruno of Amsterdam, one of the moderators of the popular All Things Linux forum at Scot's Newsletter Forums.

    Bruno is helped by All Things Linux co-moderators Peachy and Teacher, as well as other forum members who have posted in the highly useful Tips for Linux Explorers thread (from which LinuxClues.com and the Linux Explorers section of Scot's Newsletter are adapted). Previous installments of Tips for Linux Explorers can be found at LinuxClues.com.

    For Linux Explorers is content-edited by Cyndy. (Scot copy edits.)

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    Scot's Newsletter Stuff
       - Hosting Changes Coming
       - "Text Edition" Error
       - The Ultimate Boot CD Is Back

    Hosting Changes Coming
    Thought you might be interested in a couple of program notes about the newsletter and the Scot's Newsletter Forums. We're moving both the newsletter's website and its forums to a new Web host some time over the next couple of weeks. The forums is also being upgraded to a new software version. As a result, I expect some upheaval here and there. Even the scotfinnie.com domain, which I know that some of you visit occasionally, will be changing Web hosts. By toward the end of June, everything should be back up and running -- hopefully much better than it has been. No Web addresses will be changing in the process, and there will be no interruption in subscription services.

    "Text Edition" Error
    Nearly half of Scot's Newsletter's almost 50,000 subscribers, about 22,000 subscribers, take the HTML edition of the newsletter. Newsletters that have two editions, like HTML and Text, actually have two different lists. In using the Lyris list server newsletter distribution software provided to me by my newsletter distributor, Dundee.net, I made the same error the last two issues in a row. I sent the HTML edition correctly, and then I forgot to change the manipulate the tool to switch to the Text edition list. It's easy to forget this because there's little visible onscreen to indicate what list you're in. But I've done this correctly many other times. Bottom line, though, I wound up sending the Text version of the newsletter to the HTML list.

    If you normally receive the Text edition of the newsletter -- your newsletter arrived normally. But HTML subscribers got both a normal HTML edition and a second copy that was labeled "Scot's Newsletter - Text Edition. Some HTML subscribers whose email programs expect to see HTML only, saw that Text edition as a scrunched up mess that was impossible to read. But the worst thing is that literally hundreds of people thought they had somehow gotten double subscribed to the newsletter. When they tried to unsubscribe from the Text edition, they were told by the subscription tools that they weren't on that list and so couldn't be removed. It was a royal mess up.

    Just for the record, no one was added to the Text list by accident. And there's nothing wrong with your subscription either. I made a big mistake that I'm hoping never, ever to repeat.

    The Ultimate Boot CD Is Back
    Unfortunately only a few hours after I sent the last issue of the newsletter, the Link of the Month site -- the Ultimate Boot CD -- went down hard for several days. The explanation for what happened is listed at the top of the site's home page, so you can check it out there. Bottom line: It's working now.

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    Link of the Month: eBay and Shopping Revisited
    I'm doing something a little different with Link of the Month this time. In February's Shopping Savvy and April's Link of the Month I covered price-comparison tools and online stores for computer equipment. I got many, many responses from readers who also tried the sites and stores I mentioned. A few of you disagreed with my TigerDirect and Froogle recommendations, but for the most part, there has been general agreement, especially about NewEgg.com.

    Although you need your wits about you when you use it, eBay is being added to the Link of the Month list this week. It's the best shopping site bar none. I use it all the time, and any discussion of online shopping that excludes eBay just isn't realistic. I have gotten my very best deals on computer equipment through eBay. I don't recommend it for casual use, however. EBay is retail hardball.

    Based on both my personal experiences and the experiences of the many readers who wrote to me, here's a longer list of sites you may find useful:

    Price-Comparison Sites

  • PriceWatch
  • PriceGrabber
  • Shopper.com
  • PriceScan
  • ResellerRatings
  • BizRate

    Online Stores

  • NewEgg
  • MWave
  • California Computer
  • AccuPC
  • Computer Geeks
  • Cyber Guys
  • Directron
  • Computer Giants
  • PC Cables
  • Memory Suppliers

    There's a whole other class of sites that I haven't included, the good deals places, which is typified by these two:

  • EDealInfo
  • TechBargains

    There are many other deal-finding sites. I'm not as big a fan of these sites as many of you are. I think because I tend to focus on a specific model and then try to home in on the best price for it. I'm not looking for discounted goods in most cases. But I may come back and cover these sites separately.

    A couple of my own opinions. The most frequently recommended price-comparison tool by SFNL readers was PriceWatch. But frankly, while I used to be a big PriceWatch fan, the site just hasn't held up for me. PriceGrabber is my first preference. Next to PriceGrabber I check Shopper.com and PriceScan. A lot of this, though, tends to be about what products you're searching. I tend to be looking for ThinkPad T-4x series notebooks these days. ;-)

    This is a little strange, but even though I only recently named Froogle as a Link of the Month, I no longer think it's such a hot place to go. While it was still labeled as "beta," I found it to have more ads on the right column of search-results pages. For the searches I run, it seems to have fewer ads than it used to have. And it also doesn't seem to turn up other price-comparison sites as much as it used to. That, to me, was the big advantage of Froogle. It was like a meta-price-comparison search tool. Froogle's own results tend not to be very low priced. Some search site could clean up by doing this the right way. I'm going to give Froogle some time to shake out, but if it doesn't get better soon, it's coming off the Link of the Month list.

    Have you discovered a relatively unknown Windows or broadband related website that's a little amazing? Please send me the URL so I can check it out and let everyone know about it.

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    Tip of the Month: When Win XP with NTFS Won't Boot
    This is a real-world story. It happened to my wife Cyndy, and it could happen to anyone. Cyndy's notebook got left on for several hours on battery power. When the battery died, the computer didn't self-hibernate (the way it should), and the result was that the Software hive of her Windows XP Pro System Registry was damaged to the point that the computer would not boot. Here's a description of the kinds of error messages you get when that's the case:

  • How to Troubleshoot Registry Corruption Issues

    Not only wouldn't it boot, but the two biggest built-in helpers in a boot problem situation also didn't work:

       - Last Known Good Configuration
       - Safe Mode

    Both of those are available from the text-mode boot menu that comes up when you have trouble booting Windows XP. And generally speaking, those are the first things you should try if you have boot trouble. But if those tools don't work -- and especially if you're using the NTFS file system -- your options narrow greatly after that. You could boot your computer to a DOS boot disk, but you won't be able to access the NTFS volume from DOS. You can boot to your Windows CD and access the Recovery Console, but Microsoft has purposely limited the usefulness of Recovery Console for security reasons.

    So what do you do?

    Contrary to popular belief, you're not completely without remedy in this situation. The first thing to try is chkdsk /r. Start your computer by using the Windows Setup floppy disks or your Windows XP CD. You may also have created Recovery Console disks or have added a Recovery Console option to your boot menu. At the "Welcome to Setup" screen, press F10 or press R to repair, and start the Windows Recovery Console.

    After you start the Windows Recovery Console, you receive the following message: "Microsoft Windows Recovery Console. The Recovery Console provides system repair and recovery functionality. Type EXIT to quit the Recovery Console and restart the computer.

    1: C:\WINDOWS

    Which Windows Installation would you like to log onto?"

    Type 1 or the number for the appropriate Windows installation.

    You'll be prompted for the Administrator password for the machine. (If there's no password, just press Enter.) Once you get past this hurdle, you'll be presented with a DOS-like command line. Type the following line and press Enter:

    chkdsk /r

    If your System Registry has a corrupted hive this process may take quite a while, and it may appear to restart. But let it run.

    On Cyndy's computer, this step did the trick. But if it doesn't work for you, there's another solution that makes use of the Recovery Console to do a manual restoration of a previous System Restore point. The directions are complex and very poorly written, but they just may save you in a dire circumstance. Check out this Microsoft knowledgebase article:

  • How to Recover from a Corrupted Registry that Stops WinXP from Booting

    Here are some additional Microsoft knowledgebase articles that you should save for reference:

  • A Description of the Safe Mode Boot Options in Windows XP
  • How to Start Your PC Using the Last Known Good Configuration in WinXP
  • A Description of the Windows XP Recovery Console
  • How to Install and Use the Recovery Console in Windows XP
  • 'The Password Is Not Valid' Error Message Appears When You Log On to Recovery Console in Windows XP
  • Exploring Boot Options and Recovery Console in Microsoft Windows XP
  • How to Troubleshoot Registry Corruption Issues
  • How to Recover from a Corrupted Registry that Stops WinXP from Booting
  • How to Gain Access to the System Volume Information Folder
  • Other Useful Links from AumHa.org

    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.

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    Newsletter Schedule
    You may have noticed that beginning with this issue of the newsletter I've switched to a monthly dating system. My aim is to deliver each issue of the newsletter on or before the first of each month.

    You can always find out when the next issue of Scot's Newsletter is expected to appear by visiting the Scot's Newsletter home page?

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