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Windows 9X Special Interest Group

 
  Windows 9X SIG Report

by John S. Krill jskrill@jps.net

Welcome to the Windows 9X SIG

The primary purpose of the Windows SIG is to answer questions you have about Windows 9X (Windows 95 and Windows 98.) They can be: problems (software and hardware,) software suggestions (utilities, applications, etc.,) and how-to requests. Or you can just visit and learn about Windows 9X by being there. The meeting is held in Science 130 from 9am to 11am. You can show up and leave at anytime.

Note: Bring a 3.5", 1.4MB floppy. I generally have ZIPed files full of information.

Change In Room Assignment To Science 130

Hopefully we will be in Science 130 this month (I had planned on October.) With all the equipment I setup it is much more convenient to be in Science 130. We can also get a modem line into this room when we need it or whenever no one else is using the phone line.

Midnight in the Date of Windows 98

A small bug in the five-month-old Windows 98 can cause personal computers to display the wrong date if users turn on or reboot their machines in the second or two just before midnight. Because of this "midnight bug," some PCs will jump ahead two days, while the calendars in others won't roll over to the new date and thus will be one day behind.

Windows 98 Update Procedures

The concept is simple: Toss all the updates, revisions, new drivers, patches, and fixes that emerge for Windows onto a single website, then use an ActiveX control to filter them for each user. Part of Microsoft's Zero Administration Windows program, Update Manager can both install and uninstall system files contained on the site.

To use it, you first launch the HelpDesk, then click on the Windows Update Manager link. The system automatically connects you to the Internet, then to Update's website. It starts by examining hardware and software components on your PC (checking Registry and configuration files), matching them to its database. The system then offers a list of files with more recent creation dates, explaining their functions and asking if you want to download and install them.

Once you've used the Update Manager site, you'll see a third button, History, that tells you exactly what you've been doing online. You also can remove previous updates and return your configuration to its original form.

Windows 98 Help

HelpDesk

The new Windows 98 HelpDesk builds technical support right into the operating system, a technique that began with the extensive help files and wizards in Win 95.

We found HelpDesk discreetly tucked into the Start menu. The HelpDesk links to an HTML file offering four levels of support: local Help, browsing the online version of MS's Getting Started book, Web help, and troubleshooting your system.

Home-based Help

Windows 98's new internal help system is HTML-based. It's not entirely seamless; the HTML "pages" load not into a browser, but into a special help engine that shows you the HTML help files.

Web help

Windows 98's Web Help link takes you straight to the Win 95 Support Online page. There's a short registration process, then you gain access to the support online database. Web Windows 98 support includes links to the Knowledge Base, Troubleshooting Wizards, FAQs, and other resources.

When A Peripheral’s Software Driver Is NOT

This is an experience that happened to me when I purchased a laser printer for a travel agency. The travel agency required a printer to print out the customer’s travel schedule. It wouldn’t be used for much more. In the future I plan to create templates in Word for Windows so that travel agents can easily print various form letters. So I purchased a small laser printer that has good resolution (600dpi) and was easy to use (aren’t they all.)

After getting the printer out of the box and cabled to the computer it was time to install the printer driver. The printer came with a CDROM and a floppy. I went through the ‘Add New Hardware’ procedure and installed the printer driver that was on the floppy. The test printing resulted in a blank page. I went to the CDROM because it had an online manual. Browsing the CDROM I found another printer driver. I installed this driver because it was different than the one that was on the floppy. The test page that was printed was also blank.

To play it safe I called the manufacture and tried to get customer support. Their automated phone system had me punching various numbers. In the end I had to guess which button to punch for their laser printers since they weren’t on the list. I guessed right and was put on hold. 10 minutes later I got a human. I know it was 10 minutes because 10 times a recording told me I was the next in line and the average wait was 1 minute.

When I described my problem their first suggestion was that I had the wrong printer cable. If I didn’t have 25 years experience in this business I would have spent the next two days trying to purchase the proper cable. As it was I knew they were blowing nonsense. The second suggestion was a right on.

Now here is where the stupidity starts. The problem was that none of the manufacture’s software drivers worked. That’s right, they give you non-functioning software. The only driver that worked was the one supplied by Microsoft on the Windows 95 CDROM. What you installed was the Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet 4 printer driver.

I should have known. This is a very common problem with off-brand equipment manufactures. Even though this manufacture (who shall remain nameless) is well known, almost all laser printers will default to a Hewlett-Packard model. And almost always the manufacture’s software doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter what peripheral you purchase there will be a standard device that it supports. For printers it’s Hewlett-Packard. So when purchasing hardware always make sure you have the default software driver for that device.

A Good Starting Point For Getting Y2K Information

The Year 2000 (Y2K) crisis is now getting attention. Do you work for a company that has computers? Are they PC’s connected via a server? If so you have a good chance of fixing your Y2K problems. You will have problems. And it’s a good bet your company has done nothing to resolve the Y2K problem. It will be your responsibility to verify that your portable, desktop, and home computers have been checked and fixed. This includes the hardware and software.

So how do I get information on how to inspect and repair any Y2K problems I may have? There is no one location. You need to go to your computer manufacture, and all software manufactures’ web sites and hope they have information on how to test and repair each item. You can also go to a site that has been setup just for Y2K issues. One such site is PC Magazine’s Y2K site. They discuss the problem’s history. Have utilities for testing your hardware and software (very general categories such has Windows 9X.) Their is also a page that lists other Y2K web sites. Note: The October 6th issue of PC Magazine’s cover story is the Y2K Crisis.

So visit the site: http://www8.zdnet.com/pcmag/special/y2k/index.html

If you come to the Win9X SIG meeting you can get a web site on floppy that lists sites that I have found. It also has articles relating to the Y2K problem that I have gotten from news organizations. Another page lists Web sites you can visit. A utility to check your PC hardware is also provided. Bring a blank floppy or $1 and I will give you what I have on the Y2K problem.