Ezine 127 – A reminder of stuff you may have forgotten
As I write this week’s ezine, I have in mind IT professionals who have neglected some of the following Windows basics. In my mind’s eye, it’s not that you don’t know about these features, it’s more that you have buried them under a pile of more urgent items. My aim is to jog your memory.
- Error Reporting – Yes
- ‘Root’ Explorer
- Dr Watson
- System Restore
- Windows 8 Desktop Charms
Probably the very first computer configuration that you ever made was to change the mouse’s speed. But have you adjusted its settings recently? Does your new super-duper mouse have extra settings to tweak such as Vertical Scrolling speed? Do you have a wireless mouse? How is the battery, what is the signal strength? Start –> Control Panel.
When you hold down the spacebar, or the dash key, does it take ages to repeat? Speed up, take a trip to the Control Panel –> Keyboard. Did you know that your cursor has a ‘Blink Rate’? Investigate.
When Windows or MS office halts, it often produces an Error message saying: ‘Do you want to report this error’? For years’ I ignored the ‘Yes’ button. In fact, I was so angry that the machine was not doing what I wanted, that I was in no mood to help Microsoft or anyone else.
Then one day I had a conversion of biblical proportions. I pressed ‘Yes’ by mistake. Lo and behold, a friendly message appeared saying words to the effect of: ‘Guy you can cure this error if you follow this link and download a fix’. More amazingly, when I clicked the hyperlink it actually downloaded a patch and solved the problem without a reboot. I was impressed, and now I am an advocate of saying ‘Yes’ to Error Reporting’s. Try pressing the ‘Yes’ button the next time you get an Error Reporting dialog box. [You won’t have to wait long says my friend ‘Mad Mick’]
When you launch Windows explorer it is possible to set the focus, or the ‘Root’ to a particular folder. The secret is mastering the /e, and / root, switches. For example, create a short cut to Explorer and then in the ‘Target’ box, append thus:
explorer.exe /e, /root, "C:\Documents and Settings"
Important: there is a comma after /e, and another after /root,. Be adventurous and try a different folder, the only reason that I chose Documents and Settings is that most people have such a folder location on their current machine. [‘Mad’ Mick says the /select switch is more interesting than the /root].
Check what’s happening at your system startup. I bet that you will find one or more suspicious programs. In my case it was dwtrig20.exe. When I examined the certificate and file size, it turned out to be Dr Watson, but viruses often masquerade as this executable. As I said earlier, I bet you knew about MSCONFIG, but when was the last time you actually went tot he Run box and typed msconfig.
Talking of Dr Watson, do you ever run drwtsn32? Personally I never do, but always feel slightly guilty that I should call for Dr Watson when I am troubleshooting.
Do you know what your System Restore setting is? On or off? The idea is that the operating creates a restore point each time you reboot, or each day if you leave the machine on. The dilemma with disaster recovery protection lies between a wanting a feature, and the amount of disk space it absorbs. My overall point is that you may have forgotten whether your machine’s Restore is set to on or off.
For once, I am not going to tell you how to find System Restore, instead, I want you to ask Help and Support to find ‘System Restore’. To tell the truth the settings are different on XP and Vista, and System Restore. Also Mad Mick reports that System Restore does not exist on Windows Servers.
DXDIAG is an old favorite of mine from XP days. In Vista it helped me troubleshoot a Direct X problem with the headphones. I must confess, previously I thought that Direct X was only used for the display graphics, I did not realize that sound devices used DXDIAG too.
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Will and Guy Humor
This week Will returned from his holiday in Latvia. When the plane finally came to a halt Will asked the captain, ‘Did we land, or were we shot down?’ See how his plane landed here.