Music Files and your Laptop; Using the Runas Utility

As a fairly regular traveler, shuttling between Pennsylvania and Colorado at least once a month, my greatest appreciation of Windows 2000 comes from its support for notebook users. I can't remember the last time I had to shut down my notebook; I rely on the Hibernation feature to turn the system off. Battery life is consistently good; even with my now antiquated Dell Latitude CPi notebook (366 Celeron with 128MB of RAM), I can make it cross-country with a battery in each accessory bay, with plenty of battery life to spare.

I'm not the guy you see on the airplane who has turned his notebook into a personal entertainment center; I rarely watch movies on a computer, and I'm only a sporadic gamer. But I do listen to music while traveling and writing, which used to mean lugging along a CD player of some sort. I've tried using the computer as a CD player, but running the CD-ROM drive continually is not battery friendly. So I grab several hundred Windows Media Audio (WMA) files off my music server at home and download them to my notebook. A single gigabyte of disk space holds close to 400 96KB WMA files, and a decent set of full-ear folding headphones (I use the Sony MDR-V600) makes flying a much more enjoyable experience.

If you're wondering why I don't use MP3 files, here are a few reasons. First, I haven't been using Napster to acquire the roughly 20,000 music files I have on my home server: I've ripped the CDs that I own. Also, WMA format, in the middle bandwidths, is more efficient than MP3, with a 96KB WMA format being equivalent (in terms of sound quality and noticeable artifacts) to a 128KB MP3 format. Hence the files are smaller. I've even been known to copy three or four CDs' worth of 96K WMA files to a 128MB Compact Flash card to use with the Compaq Aero 1530 Pocket PC I'm currently trying to get used to. Windows Media Player is included in Windows CE 3.0, so I can even have a selection of tunes with me when I'm not carrying my notebook. It works for me, and I think it works well enough to recommend it to others. Your mileage may vary.

This week's tip:
Have you ever gone to a user's machine to fix a complaint only to find that when you logged on with your Administrative account, the problem disappeared, or the built-in Windows 2000 tools you need to fix or diagnose the problem aren't available to you because of the limited rights the local user has to his own machine?

I'm sure you already know that you can connect to any network machine, and Win2K or Windows NT prompts you for username and password to the network resource if the current account isn't authorized. You can use Win2K's Runas utility to accomplish the same thing. Runas lets you run any application, control panel utility, or shortcut as a different user. There are several ways to make the utility available; however, they're not consistent throughout the UI.

To run an executable as a different user, hold down the Shift key and right-click the target file. Select Run As from the context menu, which prompts you for the user context (username and password) that you want to use.

This method doesn't work if you are selecting a Control Panel applet, however. First select the applet (left-click), then Shift+right-click to bring up the context menu with the Run As option.

You can also use Runas to open a Command Prompt window, either by launching it with the Start, Run option or by creating a shortcut to the Command Prompt and treating the shortcut like any application, as described above. Any command line utilities you run in that window will run in the context of the Runas selected user.

Typing "runas" at the command line returns these instructions for its use:
RUNAS \[/profile\] \[/env\] \[/netonly\] /user:<UserName> program

   /profile     if the user's profile needs to be loaded
   /env         to use current environment instead of user's
   /netonly     use if the credentials specified are for remote access only
   /user        <UserName> should be in form [email protected] or DOMAIN\USER
   program      command line for EXE  


> runas /profile /user:mymachine\administrator cmd
> runas /profile /env /user:mydomain\admin "mmc %windir%\system32\dsa.msc"
> runas /env /user:[email protected] "notepad \"my file.txt\""

Note: Enter user's password only when prompted. Note: [email protected] is not compatible with /netonly.

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