Issue # 46
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Happy Thanksgiving everyone from Eaton, Ohio!
Well after paying $20 bucks for turkey (canned) for two at a truckstop... I got to thinking about the old days...hehe. It wasn't that long ago that truck drivers got a free meal when they
were on the road on a holiday. Showers were free, fill your tanks and get a discount on your lunch, green stamps, and they'd even wash your windshield!
Well, it seems that software is heading the same way. No, I've never gotten a free meal by buying a program :-) But it was normal that after you bought a piece of software that
updates, patches, and minor improvements were free. The only time you had to pay again was only if major changes were made.
Now anytime a change is made, a small feature is added, or the program is patched to work with the latest version of Windows, it's time to buy a new version! Sure, some companies give you
a small upgrade discount, but I figure that I've spent about $120 bucks trying to stay current on Drive Image alone in the last year.
I realize that times change. I just think that paying for software multiple times per year is just nuts. Shall we talk about Windows? Let's see...$89 bucks for Win95 upgrade,
then $149 for an OEM version of Win95B (I wanted FAT32 and there was no upgrade path), Then came Win98 for $89, then the SE updates (the only way to get ICS) for $40, and now $49.95 for the WinME
upgrade. So, in other words I've paid about $417 bucks for the privilege of having a current version of Windows for the last five years. Has anyone seen the movie, "The Money Pit"?
Based on what I've been reading so far it sounds like Netscape 6 is a pass at the moment. Too many people can't even get it to install correctly! Apparently, it still has
problems with Java, and is a little on the slow side compared to IE. I guess I'd have to recommend waiting until the first patch comes out.
Here's some info that some of you may not be aware of. No matter who your ISP (Internet Service provider) is, or what free email service you use, your mail box (where your incoming email
is stored until you retrieve it) has a size limit. How much space you get varies from place to place. If your mail box is full when a new email comes in it gets "bounced". That
means it gets sent back to the sender....you don't get it, and you aren't told that your mail box is full or that you've missed some email. This is one reason why sending large attachments
without prior permission is such a bad idea, you could overfill someone's mail box!
For instance, on the last mailing of the PuterGeek.Com News, seven of you didn't get it because your mail box was full and it was bounced back to me. The bad part is that those seven
people won't even know that they missed an issue unless they check the website.
Nine of you got it late (by a day or three) because the mail server at your ISP was either down, or too busy. This is not really a bounce, but the sender will get a notice that the email
could not be sent, but that they'll keep trying to send it for 5 days.
So if you get a lot of attachments, you may want to find out what the size limit is of your mail box. Just call your ISP and ask.
In case you're wondering...I don't resend the newsletter if it bounces, and the only time I remove an address is if the bounce says that the user is unknown.
I know I mentioned this a few issues ago, but since we have a lot of new subscribers I thought I'd bring it up again. I'm sure like me, you have a few 'puter horror stories... you know the
kind about how you tried to install a new sound card and suddenly your printer stopped working ... well, here's your chance to tell it to everyone! Take a look at:
to get an idea of what I'm talking about, then write your horror story and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with a subject of "New horror story". let me know if I can use your name and state/country too. I'll put it on the website
where others can read them. This is one way to show support for other 'puter users. When something bad happens to your 'puter it's nice to know you're not the only one with these types of
Now on with the good stuff!
--Windows Me: "The most important new piece of software in 2000"?
We knew we liked Windows Me, with its superior digital media features, home networking capabilities, and more. But the press seems to be positively in love with Me! Still trying to decide whether or
not to buy? Find out why Reuters called Windows Me "the most important new piece of software in 2000."
--Install the new, free MSN Explorer!
MSN Explorer has everything you need to make surfing the Web and communicating with friends and family easier than ever. This all-in-one package offers pleasure for those seeking to browse the Web,
e-mail and instant message friends, chat, listen to music, and more.
FREE ONLINE TRAINING
New for you! The Insider Learning Center is offering FREE training on Microsoft's most popular software programs and Web technologies - online and at your own pace! Take a class from beginning
to end or select individual lessons to sharpen specific skills.
IE 5.5 VS OFFICE 2000
I've installed Internet Explorer 5.5 on one of my machines and it
went quite well, give or take a coupla hours for the download.
Hey, sometimes I live dangerously just for you WOWsers - I needed
the heavy-duty encryption, and figured I'd give 5.5 a try, in
spite of its bad-boy reputation.
IE 5.01 Service Pack 1
works like a champ, but I know a lot of people who break out the
garlic and wooden stakes whenever the topic of IE 5.5 comes up.
Even in its latest incarnation, IE 5.5 causes a lot of problems
on a lot of systems.
Here's yet another reason to avoid IE 5.5, if you're using Office
2000, with or without the Service Release. We're waiting on
Microsoft for definitive word - this problem hasn't hit the
Knowledge Base yet - but the situation is bad enough that you
should NOT upgrade to IE 5.5, at least until we know Microsoft's
side of the story.
If you're running Office 2000 and install IE 5.5, "Detect and
Repair" in Office 2000 will break. When you go into Add/Remove
Programs and click "Repair" - or you go into Help and click
"Detect and Repair" - halfway through the detect/repair process
you'll get the message, "Error 1931 - The Windows Installer
service cannot update the system file C:\Program Files\Common
Files\Microsoft Shared\VGX\VGX.DLL because the file is protected
by Windows. You may need to update your operating system for this
program to work correctly."
And at that point, you're hosed.
Ed Bott has been warning me vigorously to stay away from IE 5.5,
for quite some time. Ed's anything but an alarmist, and I trust
his judgment implicitly. I suggest you do, too. Besides, as Ed
points out, what does IE 5.5 give you that you can't get in IE
5.01 SP 1?
Customer service workers at Amazon.com's Seattle headquarters have started
a drive to form a union.
The workers hope to gather support from a majority of the 400 or so customer
service representatives in Seattle. They hope to obtain union recognition
and eventually a collective bargaining agreement."
Corel to Sell Linux Line?
With all of the changes that have been happening at Corel lately (the
departure of their CEO, the deal with Microsoft, etc.) it is still quite
surprising to hear that as Corel continues to review its business, they have
mentioned that it is possible that they would sell their Linux line (sell
that part of the company). I'm sure all of the Microsoft conspiracy
theorists will love this.
Microsoft Meets with Hacker
"Microsoft last week met with Dimitri, the Dutch hacker who recently mocked
the software giant by hacking into one of its Web servers twice within one
Dimitri, a 19-year-old information technology student, visited Microsoft's
Dutch office near Amsterdam airport. There he met with the company's public
relations manager and three staffers, Microsoft confirmed.
Earlier this month Dimitri, who is known only by his first name, hacked into
the same Microsoft Web server twice, the second time after Microsoft had
said the security hole was patched. Dimitri created files on Microsoft's
system boasting of his hack, and alerted the media.
Both Microsoft and Dimitri are very secretive about their meeting. According
to experts it's the first time ever Microsoft has met with somebody who has
hacked into a Microsoft Web server."
A statistician would barf--- it's a self-selected and too-small sample
to be truly reliable or projectable--- but the reader emails about
Netscape 6 are running about 10 to 1 in the negative. Other sites with
larger samples (CNET, for example) shows a narrower gap, but with
Netscape still on the losing end of the equation (about 6 to 4
negative, in the CNET example).
Many readers have had trouble with various errors on installation or
at run-time. The delightfully unhelpful "-214 DOES_NOT_EXIST" and "-
322 INIT_STUB_ERROR" are the two most-commonly reported Netscape 6
error messages I'm hearing about.
Others readers complained about the size and bloat of the package,
which they felt is at odds with the claim of N6 being compact. But
part of that is due to the less-than-gentle ministrations of AOL.
The heart of the N6 browser is the "Gecko" engine, which is actually
fairly small. But the engine by itself isn't a browser, and requires
an additional layer of programming to make it fully functional as a
normal app. AOL then encrusts the basic browser with additional layers
of, er, stuff to brand the browser and tie it into AOL's marketing
machine and partner services. The final result is fairly porcine.
You can reduce N6's bulk somewhat by selecting the "Custom" install,
which gives you some control over the downloaded components. It also
gives you the option of saving the files locally, so you don't have to
re-download the files.
I've installed N6 three times here. The first failed to download
fully. The second downloaded and ran, although with a start-up error
message. The third download hung on "Configuring Realplayer8. Please
Wait." I'll keep trying until I get a fully-functional download to
Gateway Blows It
Over the years, I've bought many many PCs. I've rotated through a
number of vendors and chip types, and probably have bought more boxes
from Dell, Gateway and Micron than from any other sources. I've gotten
good PCs and service from all three companies.
But now, I'm taking Gateway off my list.
Last month, I ordered a new system from Gateway--- a top-of-the-line
unit running an AMD 1.2GHz processor and equipped with all the bells
and whistles. I knew that the 1.2GHz processors were in short supply,
so I expected a delay, and indeed, at order-time, I was given a
projected ship date that was further out than usual.
The date came and went. I contacted Gateway. They cited the chip
shortage, and gave me a new date. OK. That was not too unexpected.
But then that date came and went without a peep from Gateway. When
time continued to pass and nothing was happening with my order, I
finally called Gateway to cancel. I bounced through their phone system
and human operators until I got to a person who supposedly was high
enough in the food chain to be able to cancel my order. She argued
with me(!), and wanted to talk me out of canceling. I finally said
something like "Look, I just want to cancel the order, OK?" She wished
me luck (!!) and hung up on me.
I've written to Gateway and asked for in-writing confirmation that my
order was cancelled, but so far have heard nothing back. As of this
morning, the Gateway automated order-tracking service shows my order
is still in the system.
No, I won't accept delivery of the system if it comes, and yes, I will
tell my credit card company to withhold payment to Gateway.
But you know, when supervisory-level account reps are hanging up on
customers, you know something bad is going on inside a company. It
will be a very, very long time before I consider any Gateway PC again,
and I suggest you think long and hard about risking your money on a
Gateway system, too.
NOTE: Take a look at http://www.putergeek.com/gateway/
for my take
on this subject - Peter
Adobe PDF Conversion by E-mail
Unearthed by a Lockergnomie
"You can now submit multiple URLs in a single e-mail message as well as submit PDF files to Adobe as MIME attachments. See below for more details. There are three e-mail options you can use to
convert Adobe PDF documents to a format that is more accessible to screen reading software. The e-mail address you use depends on the conversion format you want, plain (ASCII) text or HTML, and
whether the PDF is on the Internet or local media. If the Adobe PDF is on the Internet, you can mail the URL (web address) of the PDF in the body of an email message. The converter will mail back the
translation of the PDF file."
Optimizing Windows NT/2k for Performance
"When starting troubleshooting performance problems or when trying to optimize Windows NT while working with Windows NT Performance Monitor, it isn't always easy to choose from the large number
of performance monitor objects and counters. This article helps you pick the right counters and objects. Below you'll find performance checkpoints for the following possible bottlenecks: memory,
processor, physical disk, network, or network components. The information in this article applies to: NT Workstation 3.5 / 3.51 / 4.0, Server 3.51 / 4.0, as well as Windows 2000 Professional, Server,
and Advanced Server."
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Last Revised: 11/23/2000