Article, January 2003
Lockergnome's Win XP Tips
by Chris Pirillo, Chief Lockergnome
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Windows Update Transfer Details
Windows Update hasn't been faring too well lately; it's caused a few users some unnecessary headaches. It'll say something along the lines of: "Here, I think you need this patch." When, in fact, you don't. Mike Vigneau passed along an interesting tip for those of us who want to know what's happening when we're using this particular Microsoft tool.
This tweak has been confirmed with Windows XP and 2000 systems, although it may work in earlier versions of Windows as well. What we're going to do is set the transfer dialog to "debug" mode. This way, we can keep an eye on what's happening - at each stage in the process. Fire up the Registry editor and fly to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Active Setup. Enter a new String Value and label it: "SteppingMode" (sans quotes).
Edit the String and give it a value of Y. The next time you use Windows Update, its actions should be a little more descriptive. If you ever wish to disable the verbosity, simply switch this value to N. If you want another way to grab these downloads, consider using the Corporate version of Windows Update (a quick search on Google will provide the appropriate URL).
Driver Queries and Wasted Space
What's the quickest way (in Windows XP) to get a list of the currently loaded drivers including module names and descriptions)? Get out of the GUI; you're better off at the command line for this tip. Browse to your desktop folder for simplicity's sake usually found at C:\ Documents and Settings \ [Username] \ Desktop). Now, at the command line, enter: "driverquery /V > drivers.txt" (sans quotes). That /V provides a more "verbose" output. Other notable switches include /FO (which formats the output as a table, list, or comma separated values) and /SI (which provides details about any signed driver).
Open that freshly-created drivers.txt file and you'll be in business. On a more entertaining note, do you remember the music that played when you first started Windows XP? Ya know, the one that sounded like an Enigma tune? If you wanna hear it again, you can find it at C:\ WINDOWS \ system32 \ oobe images \ title.wma. Of course, if you want to free up 3 MB worth of space, you can delete it and the intro.wmv file sitting next to it.
Built-in Spell Checker
Quite honestly, there's no excuse for spelling errors anymore. Typos were frequent in the days of the typewriter; misspellings were common in the handwritten letter era. Though, there's virtually no quick way to spell check a word when you're in anything other than a "Microsoft Office Spell Checker" supported application.
Lockergnomie Tom Maenner had issues with the feature in Outlook Express after he upgraded to Windows XP. "I had to locate ‘csapi3t1.dl_' on the Windows XP CD and expand it as ‘csapi3t1.dll' in this directory: C:\ Program Files \ Common Files \Microsoft Shared \Proof. Worked like a charm."
I'm not certain if this will work on every machine, but it's worth trying if the tool isn't operational for you. If you dork up words every other minute, consider turning on the "Spell Check before Sending" feature in your default e-mail client. It's and its, than and then, their and they're, or any other homophone may slip through the cracks. Butt at least you won't look like a total fool--just a parshal one. Even online, credibility counts.
Digital Media (the non-Lockergnome kind) is wonderful when it works. Most people use it in their digital camera or PDA (as do I). Transferring data from a portable device to the PC is relatively painless. Lockergnomie Glen Fabian pointed out something recently posted to COMPACTFLASH.ORG (the CompactFlash Association): "By default, Windows XP will format any CompactFlash card of 64MB or more with FAT32 format. Digital cameras and other devices use the FAT (FAT16) format and can not operate with a FAT32 formatted card. Either format your CompactFlash card in your camera or select FAT format to format your CompactFlash card in a Windows XP PC."
Even if you don't use CF media or Windows XP, this is something to keep in mind. And do you need another reason to own a laptop? My Pocket PC is a Walkman of sorts; I put new MP3s on it every day. However, transferring them via any USB (1.1) connection is slow as molasses. I picked up a PCMCIA CF adapter for under five bucks a few weeks ago (they're inexpensive to begin with). Trust me, that will speed up the process. Visit PCMCIA.ORG for more information.
Media Access Control
It's no secret that 802.11b networks are not very secure; we've discussed this point at length in the past. When you enable wireless connectivity through your access point, you should filter out non-registered MAC (Media Access Control) addresses if your WAP supports this feature. A MAC address is unique to every network card on the market. Any Wi-Fi device may see your wireless access point, but it won't be able to use the WAP unless its MAC address matches the (manually entered) filter. Nice, huh?
Okay, so how do you determine a network card's MAC address? Either use WINIPCFG or IPCONFIG. You're looking for a hexadecimal string - twelve digits long (six sections of two hex characters each). This is easy to find when you're on your own machine, but what about those connected to your network? As your home network expands, this information will become increasingly important. You could use your router's DHCP table to view the addresses, or you could use Windows XP's GETMAC command line utility (also available as a free Windows 2000 Resource Kit download).
Copyright 2002 Lockergnome LLC. Reproduced with permission. . Article reproduction coordinated by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group. Chris Pirillo developed Lockergnome, a series of e- mail publications delivered weekly to over 250,000 people. His best-selling book has been recognized as the Bible of E-mail Publishing. Chris also hosts a daily TechTV and weekly radio show. He is the Windows columnist for Smart Computing's Computer Power User magazine and the content coordinator for the annual Gnomedex technology conference. Visit http://www.Lockergnome.comClick here to return to top