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June 20, 2002—In this issue:
- Is a Bootable MS-DOS Floppy of Any Use These Days?
2. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Wal-Mart Offers Linux-Based PCs
- Special 2-for-1 Subscription Offer!
- Tip: Repeated Error Messages After a Windows XP Crash
- Featured Thread: NT 4.0 User Files Lost
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Hotkeys Speed Up Routine Tasks
- Manage Personal Logon and Password Info
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(David Chernicoff, News Editor, [email protected])
Many of this UPDATE's readers are small Value Added Reseller (VAR) and Value Added Dealer (VAD) shops, often with only one or two employees, who need the tips and tricks we provide to help them work more efficiently. I've come to know a few of these readers, and even before I started writing this column, I had friends in the computer-reseller business. Last week, one of these friends called me in a minor panic. As are many small shops, his is in a rural area; his customers are small businesses, and in most cases, the computer store nearest to his customers is a drive of an hour or two. My friend often needs to travel 100 miles to service a client's network, so not having to make such trips too often is an important part of his business model.
He was in a panic because he had recently upgraded a client's computers, spending a day on site to make sure everything was working correctly. The next day, the client called to tell my friend that both servers whose hardware he had just upgraded had crashed—both giving the same error message. Trying to diagnose dead computers over the phone with a nontechnical person can be quite a headache, but my friend managed to figure out the problem. Each server needed to have its BIOS upgraded—a step my friend had prepared for by bringing floppies with the updated BIOS to the customer site. However, in the press of the day, he had forgotten to upgrade the BIOS. He was confident that he could walk the customer through the BIOS upgrade process over the phone, but a major hurdle appeared—booting the Windows 2000 Servers to upgrade the BIOS required an MS-DOS boot floppy, and the client had only the Win2K CD-ROM. My friend's contract guarantees a 4-hour response time. He hoped I had a solution so that he wouldn't need to spend a day driving out to the client's site just because of a DOS floppy.
My first suggestion was a tool Web site ( http://www.bootdisk.com ) that includes links to boot images for a number of different OSs, including MS-DOS and DR-DOS, both of which my friend could use for the BIOS upgrade boot. The only problem with this idea was that one of the dead servers was the client's edge machine; without that server, the client didn't have Internet access.
Fortunately, I recalled that one of the third-party tools on the Win2K CD-ROM actually makes an MS-DOS boot floppy as part of its setup. With a little searching, I discovered that the Computer Associates (CA) not antivirus software in the \ValueAdd\3rdParty\CA_ANTIV folder on the Win2K CD-ROM contains a makedisk.bat file that creates a bootable DOS floppy with the antivirus software. By running the batch file on a client system, my friend's client could take the floppy that the file creates, delete all the antivirus software, and end up with a boot disk that would perform the necessary BIOS upgrade.
Rather than being down for the day, the client's systems were up and running within 3 hours of the client reporting the problem to my friend. All problems aren't this easy to solve, but it's nice to know that you can handle some problems fairly simply. And it's also a good reminder to keep at least one bootable MS-DOS floppy handy.
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2. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Following its controversial move to sell PCs without Windows or any other OS, US retail superstore Wal-Mart has added several Linux-based PCs to its online store's product list. The PCs, which range in price from $300 to $600 without a monitor, use the Lindows variant of Linux and offer a choice of AMD Duron, Intel Celeron, or Intel Pentium 4 microprocessors. Wal-Mart is the first nontechnical retailer to offer Linux on branded PCs.
"The price of software has priced many people out of computing," said Lindows CEO Michael Robertson. "With \[Wal-Mart's offerings\], you get a $300 computer, then for $99, you get unlimited \[online\] access for a year. Any applications that you want, you pay the one-time fee, then you download as much as you want \[from the Lindows Click-N-Run online service), then it's yours forever."
Wal-Mart specs the PCs with a Web browser, email application, MP3 player, audio CD player, Microsoft Office-compatible viewers, and several other applications and games. "These computer systems are a perfect low-cost alternative to computers preloaded with Microsoft Windows," a note on the company's Web site reads. For more information, visit the Microtel PCs with Lindows OS page on Wal-Mart's Web site.
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(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])
As storms have blown through the Northeast this year, I've been dealing with the problem of brief but frequent power failures. All of my critical systems have their own UPS systems, and I use software to automate shutdown and startup to protect the data on those systems. Unfortunately, one evening when I wasn't in my office, one of the UPS systems on one of my Windows XP machines died while it was repeatedly rebooting and cycling the power, letting the computer crash and cycle repeatedly. On boot, the computer generated an error message: "This system has recovered from a serious problem. A log of this error has been created." Unfortunately, the error message appeared on every boot—even after I had fixed all the problems that the crash caused.
A little research indicated that a corrupted System Restore feature caused the error messages. One of the unprotected power failures must have occurred while the daily System Restore was running. Fixing the problem was a simple matter of turning the System Restore process off, then back on. To perform this procedure, follow these steps:
- Open the Control Panel System applet.
- Select the System Restore tab.
- Check the Turn off System Restore check box.
- Click OK.
- Reboot the computer.
- Reopen the System applet.
- Clear the Turn off System Restore check box.
- Reboot the computer.
Paolo has a user who lost all his files in the Windows NT 4.0 domain—all that remains is an empty folder. To read more about the problem or to help, join the discussion at the following URL:
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Judy Drennen, [email protected])
TB Labs released Hot Keyboard 2.0, a utility that speeds up routine tasks by creating hot keys. Hot Keyboard Pro lets you quickly fill out forms on the Web, enter logons and passwords, and send routine notes to customers and colleagues. Hot Keyboard 2.0 runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Windows 9x and costs $29.95. Contact TB Labs at [email protected] or go to http://www.hot-keyboard.com.
SOW announced Big Crocodile 3.3, software for advanced Internet users with new features for storing and managing authorization parameters. The password-keeping utilities are designed for managing personal logon and password information. Big Crocodile prevents possible data loss and provides efficient, convenient access to authorized resources both on the Web and in your corporate network. Big Crocodile runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT, and Windows 9x and costs $19.95 per copy. Contact SOW at [email protected] for more information.
6. CONTACT US
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