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Windows Client UPDATE--Do You Need a Wired Backup Connection?--March 3, 2005

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1. Commentary: Do You Need a Wired Backup Connection?

2. Reader Challenge
- February 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
- March 2005 Reader Challenge

3. News & Views
- Intel Spotlights Dual-Core and 64-bit Processors at IDF

4. Resources
- Tip: Creating More than Nine Partitions on a Windows XP Computer
- Featured Thread: New Women's IT Forum

5. New and Improved
- Monitor PC Assets
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: Do you Need a Wired Backup Connection? ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

I've been using the Vonage Voice over IP (VoIP) phone service for about 4 months and have been very happy with it. For my small-business needs, it has proved to be quite useful. The flat-rate monthly charge makes budgeting phone expense easy; the online control panel simplifies tracking inbound and outbound calls; the voicemail services are effective and simple to use, and the ability to add additional numbers in different area codes has come in handy. However, over the past week, I had a major setback--and it had nothing to do with the Vonage service itself.
As a precaution, I configured the VoIP service to forward calls to my business cell phone so that I don't miss any calls. I use that cell number as a general backup for the VoIP service, and for communications when I'm not in my physical office. I didn't expect to need more than the cell service as a backup until last week.
My Internet service is provided through Comcast Cable. The service has worked well since I switched to it more than a year ago from my previous satellite-based Internet connection. However, over the past few weeks the service had gotten flakey, with service drops stretching into 12-hour periods and random drops throughout the day.
I contacted Comcast and went through all the rigmarole of level-one tech support; with my explanation to the support tech that I had already tried everything he was telling me to do falling on deaf ears. I did find some of the support tech's suggestions faintly humorous--suggestions that had no relationship at all to the failure of the cable modem to connect, but that's for another column.
As I expected, the problem was with the lines running to my home. In the midst of a pretty good-sized blizzard, a Comcast repair team showed up and confirmed that fact, although they couldn't repair the problem because of the weather. So I was left with an unreliable Internet connection, which meant that my phone service was now in the same state. But because my calls were being forwarded to my cell phone, I didn't miss a call.
But I did lose the ability to send email. With the flaky Internet connection, I couldn't maintain a connection with my ISP's mail server--it kept timing out. To add insult to injury, I couldn't just dial up to my ISP; I didn't have a land line that would let me do so. Without a stable Internet connection, I was cut off from my email, which is a major problem for me.
The end result is that Comcast has got me back up and running, and my email is functioning again, but for a while, I was stuck traveling to the nearest hotspot (which wasn't that near) to send mail. Now I'm seriously considering adding a plain old telephone service (POTS) line to my office as a backup to my Internet connection. It does make me wonder what the future will be for VoIP if users determine they still need a hardwired phone connection. The VoIP decision for me was an easy one; it was the only way I could keep my business phone numbers when I moved my office. But for users just starting out in a new location, opting to go without wired phone service could present a real problem.


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==== 2. Reader Challenge ====
by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

February 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
Congratulations to the winners of our February Reader Challenge. First prize, a copy of "Securing Windows Server 2003" goes to Trish Carroll of Iowa. Second prize, a copy of "Windows Server 2003 in a Nutshell," goes to Jorge de Almeida Pinto of The Netherlands. Both books are from O'Reilly Associates Publishing. Visit to read the answer to the February Reader Challenge.

March 2005 Reader Challenge
Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by March 16, 2005. You must include your full name, and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win).
I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I'm a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on March 17, 2005.

The March 2005 Challenge:
During one of those "funny stories about users" sessions that IT professionals tend to engage in, one Help desk supervisor sheepishly told an amusing story about himself. He regularly holds classes to help users learn how to perform basic tasks so that he doesn't need to teach each user individually from the Help desk. During a class on mapping drives in Windows XP, he explained that instead of using My Network Places many times each day to attach to the same shared remote resource, users could get to a mapped drive quickly from the My Computer window. He told class members to open My Network Places, right-click the icon for the shared resource they'd been using, and choose Map Network Drive. He followed that with the easy instructions for assigning the drive letter.
Everyone in the class was enthusiastic about the concept of mapped drives and expressed their satisfaction about doing something so useful with just a couple of mouse clicks. For the next hour, this poor guy took phone calls that started with "it doesn't work." Why didn't his instructions work?

==== In the News ====
by Keith Furman, [email protected]

Intel Spotlights Dual-Core and 64-bit Processors at IDF
Intel outlined its product roadmap at Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2005 in San Francisco. The roadmap includes a heavy emphasis on dual-core processors and 64-bit computing. The 3-day conference began with a keynote address by outgoing CEO Craig Barrett who touted the company's wide range of technology and previewed the chip giant's upcoming releases. Find out the details at the following URL:

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==== 4. Peer to Peer ====

Tip: Creating More than Nine Partitions on a Windows XP Computer
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

Recently, I was setting up a Windows XP computer to do some testing of the various virtual machine (VM) software flavors currently available. As part of the setup, I had planned to create 10 physical partitions on a 300GB drive so that I could have completely separate installations of OS and product on the same computer. However, I found that the test computer consistently booted into the wrong partition. An examination of the boot.ini file showed that only nine partitions were identified. The problem turned out to be an XP bug that allows only nine partitions to be created properly. The 10th partition is given the number 1 in the boot.ini file. Manually editing the boot.ini file fixed the problem.

Featured Thread: New Women's IT Forum
Join the Women's IT Forum, where we're discussing what it means and how it feels to be a woman working in a male-dominated profession. Find support, resources, community, and just a darned-good continuing conversation. Both women and men are welcome.

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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Gayle Rodcay, [email protected]

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