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 20 things you didn't know about Windows XP

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PostSubject: 20 things you didn't know about Windows XP   Mon Sep 20, 2010 3:06 am

You've read the reviews and digested the key feature enhancements andoperational changes. Now it's time to delve a bit deeper and uncoversome of Windows XP's secrets.

1. It boasts how long it can stayup. Whereas previous versions of Windows were coy about how long theywent between boots, XP is positively proud of its stamina. Go to theCommand Prompt in the Accessories menu from the All Programs startbutton option, and then type 'systeminfo'. The computer will produce alot of useful info, including the uptime. If you want to keep these,type 'systeminfo > info.txt'. This creates a file called info.txtyou can look at later with Notepad. (Professional Edition only).

2.You can delete files immediately, without having them move to theRecycle Bin first. Go to the Start menu, select Run... and type'gpedit.msc'; then select User Configuration, Administrative Templates,Windows Components, Windows Explorer and find the Do not move deletedfiles to the Recycle Bin setting. Set it. Poking around in gpedit willreveal a great many interface and system options, but take care -- somemay stop your computer behaving as you wish. (Professional Editiononly).

3. You can lock your XP workstation with two clicks ofthe mouse. Create a new shortcut on your desktop using a right mouseclick, and enter 'rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation' in thelocation field. Give the shortcut a name you like. That's it -- justdouble click on it and your computer will be locked. And if that's noteasy enough, Windows key + L will do the same.

4. XP hides somesystem software you might want to remove, such as Windows Messenger,but you can tickle it and make it disgorge everything. Using Notepad orEdit, edit the text file /windows/inf/sysoc.inf, search for the word'hide' and remove it. You can then go to the Add or Remove Programs inthe Control Panel, select Add/Remove Windows Components and there willbe your prey, exposed and vulnerable.

5. For those skilled inthe art of DOS batch files, XP has a number of interesting newcommands. These include 'eventcreate' and 'eventtriggers' for creatingand watching system events, 'typeperf' for monitoring performance ofvarious subsystems, and 'schtasks' for handling scheduled tasks. Asusual, typing the command name followed by /? will give a list ofoptions -- they're all far too baroque to go into here.

6. XPhas IP version 6 support -- the next generation of IP. Unfortunatelythis is more than your ISP has, so you can only experiment with this onyour LAN. Type 'ipv6 install' into Run... (it's OK, it won't ruin yourexisting network setup) and then 'ipv6 /?' at the command line to findout more. If you don't know what IPv6 is, don't worry and don't bother.

7.You can at last get rid of tasks on the computer from the command lineby using 'taskkill /pid' and the task number, or just 'tskill' and theprocess number. Find that out by typing 'tasklist', which will alsotell you a lot about what's going on in your system.

8. XP willtreat Zip files like folders, which is nice if you've got a fastmachine. On slower machines, you can make XP leave zip files well aloneby typing 'regsvr32 /u zipfldr.dll' at the command line. If you changeyour mind later, you can put things back as they were by typing'regsvr32 zipfldr.dll'.

9. XP has ClearType -- Microsoft'santi-aliasing font display technology -- but doesn't have it enabled bydefault. It's well worth trying, especially if you were there for DOSand all those years of staring at a screen have given you the eyes ofan astigmatic bat. To enable ClearType, right click on the desktop,select Properties, Appearance, Effects, select ClearType from thesecond drop-down menu and enable the selection. Expect best results onlaptop displays. If you want to use ClearType on the Welcome loginscreen as well, set the registry entry HKEY_USERS/.DEFAULT/ControlPanel/Desktop/FontSmoothingType to 2.

10. You can use RemoteAssistance to help a friend who's using network address translation(NAT) on a home network, but not automatically. Get your pal to emailyou a Remote Assistance invitation and edit the file. Under theRCTICKET attribute will be a NAT IP address, like 192.168.1.10. Replacethis with your chum's real IP address -- they can find this out bygoing to [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] -- and get them to make sure that they'vegot port 3389 open on their firewall and forwarded to the errantcomputer.

11. You can run a program as a different user withoutlogging out and back in again. Right click the icon, select Run As...and enter the user name and password you want to use. This only appliesfor that run. The trick is particularly useful if you need to haveadministrative permissions to install a program, which many require.Note that you can have some fun by running programs multiple times onthe same system as different users, but this can have unforeseeneffects.

12. Windows XP can be very insistent about you checkingfor auto updates, registering a Passport, using Windows Messenger andso on. After a while, the nagging goes away, but if you feel you mightslip the bonds of sanity before that point, run Regedit, go toHKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer/Advanced and create a DWORD value calledEnableBalloonTips with a value of 0.

13. You can start upwithout needing to enter a user name or password. Select Run... fromthe start menu and type 'control userpasswords2', which will open theuser accounts application. On the Users tab, clear the box for UsersMust Enter A User Name And Password To Use This Computer, and click onOK. An Automatically Log On dialog box will appear; enter the user nameand password for the account you want to use.

14. InternetExplorer 6 will automatically delete temporary files, but only if youtell it to. Start the browser, select Tools / Internet Options... andAdvanced, go down to the Security area and check the box to EmptyTemporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.

15. XPcomes with a free Network Activity Light, just in case you can't seethe LEDs twinkle on your network card. Right click on My Network Placeson the desktop, then select Properties. Right click on the descriptionfor your LAN or dial-up connection, select Properties, then check theShow icon in notification area when connected box. You'll now see atiny network icon on the right of your task bar that glimmers nicelyduring network traffic.

16. The Start Menu can be leisurely whenit decides to appear, but you can speed things along by changing theregistry entry HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Control Panel/Desktop/MenuShowDelayfrom the default 400 to something a little snappier. Like 0.

17.You can rename loads of files at once in Windows Explorer. Highlight aset of files in a window, then right click on one and rename it. Allthe other files will be renamed to that name, with individual numbersin brackets to distinguish them. Also, in a folder you can arrangeicons in alphabetised groups by View, Arrange Icon By... Show In Groups.

18.Windows Media Player will display the cover art for albums as it playsthe tracks -- if it found the picture on the Internet when you copiedthe tracks from the CD. If it didn't, or if you have lots of pre-WMPmusic files, you can put your own copy of the cover art in the samedirectory as the tracks. Just call it folder.jpg and Windows MediaPlayer will pick it up and display it.

19. Windows key + Breakbrings up the System Properties dialogue box; Windows key + D brings upthe desktop; Windows key + Tab moves through the taskbar buttons.

20.The next release of Windows XP, codenamed Longhorn, is due out latenext year or early 2003 and won't be much to write home about. The nextbig release is codenamed Blackcomb and will be out in 2003/2004.
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