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What You Need to Know about All Things PC

   

Volume 1 Number 1

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The Naked PC - http://www.TheNakedPC.com
What You Need to Know about All Things PC

Publisher:  Lee Hudspeth and T.J. Lee

Editor:     Dan Butler

This issue is for Friday, July 3, 1998 - Vol. 1 No. 1


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Table of Contents

01. Letter from the Publisher
02. Upgrade on the Cheap, Just in Time for Windows 98
03. Lynx: A Must-have, Screamin' Fast, Free, Vastly Underrated
    Browser
04. Lynx Tips and Tricks
05. Lynx Online Resources
06. Featured FAQ - Internet Explorer 4.01 Service Pack 1, Active
    Desktop, and the Fix to a Reboot Bug
07. Featured Windows 95/98 Tip - Windows Explorer at Your
    Fingertips
08. Featured Book Recommendation - "Webmaster in a Nutshell
    (Deluxe Edition)" by Spainbour & Quercia
09. Featured Product Recommendation - 'Net Pal by Kookaburra
    Software
10. Featured Web Page Recommendation - Fawcette's VBA Objects (an
    extensive graphical resource about VBA Object Models from
    AutoCAD to Visio)
11. Newsworthy - a potpourri of current events
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


01. Letter from the Publisher

Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Naked PC (TNPC). Working
day in and day out with your PC is like a marathon roller coaster
ride, plenty of ups and lots of downs. We've got a prescription
for you, a regular dose of The Naked PC! Here at TNPC we vow to
help make your daily PC experience a more productive one. There
are plenty of good books, newsletters, and ezines out there (we
should know -- we write and contribute to them. Like the good
neighbor who's also a computer consultant, we're going to offer
you -- for free -- our latest thinking and advice on what you
need to know about your PC. Friendly, accurate, to the point, no-
nonsense advice from people you can trust, just as though we're
sitting right there at your office or home.

So, we'll deliver our latest PC discoveries, thoughts,
experiments, epiphanies, bug fixes, tips, and enhancements, all
rolled up in a neat cyberpackage straight to your email Inbox.
What about the range of material? We'll cover a very broad
spectrum, from hardware to software, from the low end to the high
end, from easy to hard. After all, your PC is a tremendously
versatile tool. We'll always have an eye on helping you get more
out of your computer than you're getting now.

In this issue we run the gamut from Internet browsing with Lynx,
to Microsoft's Active Desktop, to hardware that makes Windows 98
really zing, plus some regular columns: recommendations for
useful books, Web pages, and products, and our listing of
newsworthy news tidbits. In upcoming issues we'll delve into how
to maintain your privacy on the Web, unique uses for Jaz drives
and CD-ROM burners, plus software productivity tips. We'll answer
your questions and never forget the thing that most users want
from their computers: to get their work done so they can turn it
off and have a life.

So, who are the folks at the wheel of this truck full of
gleaming, merciless truth?

Lee and T.J. are co-founders of PRIME Consulting Group, Inc.
(http://www.PRIMEConsulting.com) and, in addition to managing the
firm, have written and co-authored a number of computer books,
most recently Outlook Annoyances, Office 97 Annoyances, Excel 97
Annoyances, and Word 97 Annoyances, these with Woody Leonhard.
They also regularly write for PC/Computing magazine, and are
frequent contributors to Woody's Office Watch.

Dan Butler is the Webmaster for Union Pacific Resources Group,
Inc. He's also the founder of PlanB Consulting, a firm that
develops Web sites and other forms of hypermedia for clients
across the nation. Dan's background is in software solutions,
data analysis, and documentation. He has provided solutions using
Perl, JavaScript, VB, VBA, WordBasic, and Lotus 1-2-3 that range
from simple work enhancements to full replacements for complex
processes, on systems that run the gamut of mainframe, VMS, Unix,
and PCs.

So, enough about us. We've told you what we have in mind, but
most of all we want to hear from you. Comments, criticisms, your
own tips and heuristics for surviving the minefield of daily PC
usage, fire away. We're listening. Contact us at
tnpc@PRIMEConsulting.com.


02. Upgrade on the Cheap, Just in Time for Windows 98

With Windows 98 fresh on the retail shelves, now is a good time
to get your system up to par. The area that will make the biggest
difference in your overall performance is the amount of memory
(RAM) you have on your system. The second biggest consideration
is having disk space to spare.

If you're running Windows 95 with less than 48 Mbytes of RAM, or
Windows NT with less than 96 Mbytes of RAM, you should consider
upgrading your system memory. And if you're not measuring your
free disk space in gigabytes, think about adding a hard disk.
Those numbers are based on our personal experience.

Start keeping your eyes on the sales ads. This week one of us
picked up a 5.1 Gbyte Western Digital hard drive and 64 Mbytes of
EDO RAM for just under $300. The kicker is that the purchaser
gets $120 back in rebates! The ad said "buy these items and get
Windows 98 for free" but the fine print showed that it was really
a rebate of $90 with another $30 cash rebate on the hard drive.
This was hard to pass up and this system is now running 80 Mbytes
of RAM and it really makes a difference. With all that extra hard
drive space, this system will be able to safely test Windows 98
without destroying the existing Windows 95 configuration. You can
too if you follow our painless upgrade procedure, coming up in a
future issue of The Naked PC newsletter.


03. Lynx: A Must-have, Screamin' Fast, Free, Vastly Underrated
    Browser

If your browser has kidnapped your hard disk, and seems to be
browsing the Web at a snail's pace, consider using a much leaner
browser that's text-only. It's name is Lynx.

Lynx is a super-fast non-graphical browser. That's right, no
graphics, just the text ma'am. And it's f-r-e-e.

So, how fast is fast? In tests we conducted using Internet
Explorer 4.01, Navigator 4.05, and Lynx 2.7 to load the New York
Times' home page from a standing start (read: browser not already
running), Lynx was between 80% and 90% faster (an average of 5
seconds vs. 26 for IE and 61 for Navigator). If you turn off
images in IE and Navigator and these browsers are already
running, their times improve, but Lynx still wins (5 seconds vs.
8 for IE and 6 for Navigator).

Using Lynx can save you some serious time and money. Say you
visit the same 10 pages every day and Lynx saves you a full
minute on each page. You've saved an hour a week in Lynx versus
the other browsers. Just think: an hour saved each week amounts
to 50 hours saved in a typical work year. And yes, Lynx has full
bookmark support.

To get your copy, go to the LYnx BInary Distribution Outlet
(LYBIDO) at http://www.crl.com/%7Esubir/lynx/binaries.html
LYBIDO provides numerous distribution sites for a variety of
operating systems. We got our Win32 version from
http://www.fdisk.com/doslynx/lynxport.htm (a 616 KB download that
works on Windows 95/98/NT).

Compare the Lynx download size to a whopping 25 MB for a full
Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 download and 19 MB for Netscape
Communicator Pro 4.05. It's 97% smaller! The same relationship
holds true when you consider disk footprint sizes: Lynx at 2.1 MB
versus Netscape Communicator Pro at 50 MB. Laptop users who are
always running out of room take special note.

On to setup. Lynx has no setup program, so you have to roll your
own. Here are three easy steps:

1. Grab the download (for Win32 it's lynx_w32.zip) and create
whatever folder hierarchy you want. For this exercise we'll
use C:\Program Files\Lynx.

2. Move lynx_w32.zip into C:\Program Files\Lynx, unzip it using
your unzipper's "Use Folder Names" option. You get several
files in the Lynx folder, along with three sub-folders: help,
icon, and samples.

3. Double-click lynx.exe to run it. (Use the sample MS-DOS batch
file Lynx\samples\Lynx.bat as a starting point for your own
batch file if you wish.)

When you first start Lynx, focus on the last three lines of
condensed instructions. Since Lynx is a keyboard-controlled
browser, you may feel like you're backsliding a decade or so, but
relax, you can still use your mouse to click links as in
Navigator or Internet Explorer. Once you get used to the keyboard
you'll be amazed how fast you can surf. Have fun and explore.
Here are some tips on navigation, control, and configuration.

To go to a site, press G ("Go"); you'll see a pithy "URL to open"
prompt on the command line (third line from the bottom). Type in
the URL just as you would in any other browser and press Enter.
Don't blink! Bookmarks are supported (press A to add the current
page, V to view your bookmark list).

If you need help, press H or ?.

To quit with a confirmation prompt, press the unshifted Q key.
Press Shift+Q to quit unconditionally with no prompt. Go to
http://www.slcc.edu/lynx/faq/kbd_summary.html for a navigation
key summary. You'll be amazed by the cool things Lynx can do.

Among Lynx's compelling and intriguing benefits, consider:

* Lynx starts and exits much faster than bulky desktop browsers,
is much faster rendering documents, and has a miniscule disk
footprint.

* Lynx is ideal for folks who are visually impaired when used in
conjunction with Braille or screen reading software.

* Personal digital assistants (read: devices with miniature
displays) can use Lynx as a browser.


04. Lynx Tips and Tricks

For documentation on Lynx command line switches, start at the
main help page, go to the Lynx Help Menu, follow the "Lynx Users
Guide" link, from the Table of Contents follow the link entitled
"The Lynx command line." Some quickies...

To start Lynx with no caching:

lynx -cache=0

To print documentation about command line switches to the screen:

lynx -help

or to a text file:

lynx -help>anyfile.txt

To start Lynx at a specific URL:

lynx http://www.yourdomain.com

To change the way Lynx behaves via its configuration file instead
of command line switches, open the file lynx.cfg with Wordpad.
This file is self-documenting (see the top of the file).


05. Lynx Online Resources

Helpful online resources:

* http://www.slcc.edu/lynx/ - Lynx's development history

* http://www.access.digex.net/~asgilman/lynx/FAQ/ - a collection
of questions, answers, posts, replies, and the like; maintained
by Al Gilman

* http://mdc.net/~ellen/lynx.htm - another good Lynx FAQ

* http://world.std.com/~adamg/ugh.html - the worst site of the
month, as in "dehanced" for Lynx


06. Featured FAQ - Internet Explorer 4.01 Service Pack 1, Active
    Desktop, and the Fix to a Reboot Bug

You just got Program X installed and configured the way you like
it, and were even getting used to its bugs, when out comes an
upgrade, patch, maintenance release, service pack, whatever...
there's a new version to contend with. Deja vu, eh? This just
happened with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.01. There's
now an upgrade called Service Pack 1 (SP1). We recommend you get
it. Here's the story.

If you're on a LAN (full-fledged or peer-to-peer) you no doubt
have drive mappings. If you also want to run any version of
Internet Explorer 4 prior to SP1 along with Active Desktop under
Windows 95, you're out of luck. Why? Because whenever you shut
down or restart your PC with this combination your system will
hang. Eliminating drive mappings isn't acceptable, but we have
found one partial workaround for restarts: restart in MS-DOS
mode, exit, then come back in; of course this won't work for
shutting down unless you have a multi-boot PC.

Microsoft's relevant Knowledge Base article
(http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q178/9/41.asp)
identifies Shell32.dll as the culprit but doesn't tell you where
or how to get an updated file. We're here to tell you how, thanks
to SP1. SP1 fixes this problem on the PCs we've tested. When you
install SP1's Active Desktop you get a new Shell32.dll (version
4.72.3110.6). IE 4.01's Shell32.dll was 4.72.2106.4. To upgrade
to SP1, from Internet Explorer select Help / Product Updates and
follow the instructions from there.

We've informed Microsoft program management about this so look
for an updated MSKB article soon.

Final note: even if you don't use Active Desktop, or you do but
don't aren't on a network, go ahead and upgrade to SP1. It fixes
numerous bugs and addresses Year 2000 issues; for a complete
laundry list see:
http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q185/9/59.asp
(You'll have to register with the Microsoft site for this page.)

07. Featured Windows 95/98 Tip - Windows Explorer at Your
    Fingertips

If you don't already have a shortcut to Windows Explorer -- we're
talking about Windows Explorer (Win95's file manager), not
Internet Explorer the browser -- in your Startup folder, you
should. We use this application so often that we always want it
running. If you have a Windows-enhanced keyboard, pressing
Windows (the Windows key) plus E pops up a new instance of
Windows Explorer, focused at My Computer.

Here's a Windows Explorer enhancement utility that, once you
start using, you'll never want to do without (or get stuck using
someone else's PC that doesn't have it): the Send To Extensions
PowerToy. It's free at:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/contents/powertoys/w95
pwrtoysset/default.asp. Now when you right-click on any folder or
top-level device, choose the Explore From Here command to open a
new Windows Explorer window focused on that folder/device, set as
the highest branch in the tree list so you can quickly work on
that folder or its files without disrupting the appearance of
your other Windows Explorer window.

And if you really want to know what you're getting into with the
PowerToys, have a look at our extensive article "Return of the
PowerToys" on:
http://www.PRIMEConsulting.com/articles/wuonarticles.html


08. Featured Book Recommendation - "Webmaster in a Nutshell
    (Deluxe Edition)" by Spainbour & Quercia

Published by O'Reilly; ISBN 1-56592-3057. The Deluxe Edition
comes with a CD-ROM that contains the full text of the following
works... HTML: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition, JavaScript: The
Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition, CGI Programming on the World Wide
Web, and Programming Perl, 2nd Edition. This book is the single
best investment that a beginner, seasoned, or veteran Webmaster
can make. Order from Amazon at:
[Note the Deluxe Edition is no longer available. The link below is to the regular edition.]
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1565923251/tnpcnewsletter/


09. Featured Product Recommendation - 'Net Pal by Kookaburra
    Software

'Net Pal manages choosing among and firing up your DUN (Dial-up
Networking) connectoids to connect you with the Internet. 'Net
Pal puts a phone icon in your system tray to represent the active
connectoid. Double-click it to inspect the current connection:
connect speed, IP address (useful if you're assigned an IP
address dynamically by your ISP), and how long you've been
connected (current session and month-to-date, the latter is a
nice feature if you're paying surcharges). You can configure 'Net
Pal with the hourly surcharge rate and it will calculate your
costs; it tracks up to 12 months of connection history for each
of your connectoids. You can set a ping interval to keep your
connection alive, too. Extremely handy given that more and more
ISPs are automatically disconnecting users after 10 minutes of
inactivity. 'Net Pal is a snap to set up and use, and is a very
reasonable $19.00US. Download the shareware version for a 30-day
trial from: http://www.kburra.com/npal.html


10. Featured Web Page Recommendation - Fawcette's VBA Objects

If you're a programmer using object models for products that are
compliant with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), you no doubt
have longed for a thorough, Web-based, up-to-date, graphic
schematic for these complex models. These models often contain
hundreds of objects, methods, and properties, so such a graphic
road map would be priceless. Well, your search is over.

Fawcette's VBA Objects is an extensive graphical resource about
VBA Object Models from AutoCAD to Visio. If you're into VB, VBA,
VBScript, or any development effort that uses Microsoft Office
object models, or object models by other ISVs who have licensed
VBA, this is the place to go for the object model skinny, in some
cases with sample source code! Check out:
http://www.inquiry.com/objects/ (These are the same
folks who publish the superb Visual Basic Programmer's Journal.)


11. Newsworthy - a potpourri of current events

*- Check out the latest FAQs on the PRIME Resources Site! Get
the scoop on a number of topics from PRIME FAQs like "Stopping
Applications from Starting When Windows Boots Up" at:
http://www.PRIMEConsulting.com/faqs/faq3456.html

*- If you're running Microsoft NetMeeting 1.0, 2.0, or 2.1, you
should get the patch that fixes the NetMeeting Speed Dial Issue
(read: bug). Chances are small that you'll ever run afoul of this
bug, but the fix is free and a relatively quick download. Pick it
up from:
http://www.microsoft.com/ie/security/?/ie/security/netmbuff.htm

*- Be sure to read PC/Computing Magazine's article "Undocumented
PC Secrets". Many of the tips in this informative piece were
contributed by T.J., Dan, and Lee, the publisher/editors of this
newsletter. For the online version, go to:
http://www.PRIMEConsulting.com/articles/pccmagazine.html

*- For more of what we consider to be newsworthy, surf to our
Annoyance Update page (updated nearly every single day!) at:
http://www.PRIMEConsulting.com/annoyances/officeupdate.html


DISCLAIMER
Personal computers are individual machines with performance that
can vary with components, software, and operator ability. The
Naked PC is not responsible for the manner in which the
information presented is used or interpreted. Also, although we
work hard to provide you with accurate Internet links in The
Naked PC, we are not responsible for Internet links herein that
represent sites owned and operated by third parties. We are not
responsible for the content, accuracy, performance, or
availability of any such third-party sites.


REDISTRIBUTION POLICY
We encourage you to forward this newsletter to your friends,
associates, and colleagues for their review and enjoyment.
However, please do so only by sending it in full, thereby keeping
the copyright and subscription information intact. We do request
that, once they've reviewed an issue or two, they subscribe
independently rather than continue to receive issues from you.
This helps TNPC grow and prosper, thereby funding its continued
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Also, if you wish to post this newsletter to a newsgroup or
electronic discussion group, you may do so if you preserve the
copyright and subscription information. Thanks.


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  tnpc@PRIMEConsulting.com

Check out our 24x7 Web bulletin board. If you've got a technical
question about PC issues, or suggestions of your own, this is the
place to hang out:
  http://www.PRIMEConsulting.com/cgi-local/annoy.pl


Copyright (c) 1998, PRIME Consulting Group, Inc. and Dan Butler.
All Rights Reserved. The Naked PC is a trademark of PRIME
Consulting Group, Inc.
ISSN: pending



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