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August 2001 Issue


Below, find our archived issue of the 5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter.






5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter

August 2001 Issue

Inside this issue:

1) Important note from the editor
2) Industry Update
3) Intel Processor History
4) Common File Formats
5) Helpful Web Sites
6) Safe Mode
7) Blocking Cookies
8) Questions and Answers
9) Contact Information
[1] Important note from the editor:

Well folks, this is the last newsletter from this list server. Listbot is no longer going to offer a free list service. This has forced me to move to a new free list server. Many of you have received the invitation to the new list and many of you have not responded. If you have deleted the mail in error and you still wish to be on the 5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter mailing list then you can join by going to the 5 Star Support main page and joining from there. <>

I hope to see all of you back on the list, but for those of you that don't come back, I bid you a fond farewell! I'll see the rest of you over at the "Coollist" server. Now, just kick back and enjoy the newsletter.
[2] Industry Update:
by Dean Kent

What a difference a year makes. In the first half of last year, the industry was forecasting double digit growth in semiconductors, after a strong 1999, and was ignoring warning signs that PC sales were slowing. Even the perennial money losing DRAM manufacturers were upbeat. Then, the bottom fell out last Christmas and the industry has been severely shaken. Some analysts are claiming that 2001 will be one of the worst years that the semiconductor industry has ever seen, and the PC market is looking just as gloomy.

What is interesting is that while the large manufacturers are suffering greatly, the smaller niche players seem to be doing reasonably well by focusing on specialty needs, allowing them to make greater margins due to less competition. These are markets that Intel, ASUS, Dell, etc. don't view as worthwhile because they are relatively small. However, one market that has gained the attention of everyone is the workstation/server market. It seems that everyone is recognizing that there are still good profits to be made here, and Intel seems to be going after this market with a vengeance, as will be discussed later. 

Though several larger motherboard manufacturers claimed, in response to my last survey at the end of April, that they were seeing some increased shipments, it appears that May turned out to be pretty dismal for the top tier companies. The four largest Taiwanese motherboard makers normally ship something on the order of 3 million motherboards per month. In May, total shipments for these four manufacturers is reported to have been under 1 million, creating a great deal of concern in the industry. It is not clear at this time whether any particular platform was exempt, however unofficial reports indicate that these manufacturers were holding on to a lot of inventory at the end of the month, including Socket A boards. On the other hand, several of the Tier 1 manufacturers indicated that Pentium 4 shipments recently picked up fairly significantly.

There is a lot of speculation about why the PC market is so slow, but I am wondering if at least part of the problem is uncertainty by the larger volume purchasers (i.e., business) with regard to stability and reliability of products due to short product cycles and rapid-fire releases. I am reminded of the mid-1990's, just prior to the release of the Pentium platform when there was a lot of publicity about component incompatibilities. Intel solved that problem by offering the whole package (chipset, motherboard and processor), and eventually dominated the market. Perhaps this is a hint for those wanting to remain competitive over the next few years, and Intel seems to be once again focusing on the keyword 'stable' in their marketing material (i.e., Corporate Stable Platform is a phrase that has been mentioned to me).


[3] Intel Processor History:

The computer you are using to read this page uses a microprocessor to do its work. The microprocessor is the heart of any normal computer, whether it is a desktop machine, a server, or a laptop. The microprocessor you are using might be a Pentium, a K6, a PowerPC, a Sparc or any of the many other brands and types of microprocessors, but they all do essentially the same thing in approximately the same way. 

A microprocessor - also known as a CPU or Central Processing Unit - is a complete computation engine that is fabricated on a single chip. The first microprocessor was the Intel 4004, introduced in 1971. The 4004 was not very powerful - all it could do was add and subtract, and it could only do that four bits at a time. But it was amazing that everything was on one chip. Prior to the 4004, engineers built computers either from collections of chips or from discrete components (transistors wired one at a time). The 4004 powered one of the first portable electronic calculators. 

The first microprocessor to make it into a home computer was the Intel 8080, a complete 8-bit computer on one chip introduced in 1974. The first microprocessor to make a real splash in the market was the Intel 8088, introduced in 1979 and incorporated into the IBM PC (which first appeared in 1982 or so). If you are familiar with the PC market and its history, you know that the PC market moved from the 8088 to the 80286 to the 80386 to the 80486 to the Pentium to the Pentium-II to the new Pentium-III. All of these microprocessors are made by Intel and all of them are improvements on the basic design of the 8088. The new Pentiums-IIIs can execute any piece of code that ran on the original 8088, but the Pentium-III runs about 3,000 times faster! 


[4] Common File Extensions:

Below is a list of common file extensions that I have compiled over time. I just wanted to share this list in hopes that it will be helpful to some of you.

.gif - a graphics file format 
.arc - arc compressed archive file 
.html- hypertext markup language document 
.bak - backup file 
.ico - icon file (You have this below)
.bat - MS-DOS batch file 
.inf - information text file (They're not all text files; for TweakUI, 
the .inf file is - if I remember correctly - actually the installation file.) 
.ini - initialization file (contains Windows settings) 
.jpg - a graphics file format 
.pdf - Portable Document Format (The native file format for Adobe Systems' Acrobat)
.log - log files containing information in text format 
.com - executable program file 
.tif - tagged image file (a graphics file format) 
.ttf - true type font 
.txt - text file 
.csv - comma separated values (text based records listing)
.doc - usually an MS Word document file 
.dot - template file for MS Word 
.zip - compressed file containing larger file(s) 
.xls - Microsoft Excel worksheet data file. 
.mid - "midi" file (usually music) 


[6] Safe Mode:
by anonymous source 
(posted using the 5 Star Support Web Site)

Safe Mode is a special way for Windows to load when there is a system-critical problem that interferes with the normal operation of Windows. The purpose of Safe Mode is to allow you to troubleshoot Windows and try to determine what is causing it to not function correctly. Once you have corrected the problem, then you can reboot and Windows will load normally. 

There are several things that happen when Windows boots in Safe Mode that differ from a standard boot: 

Safe Mode does not run the autoexec.bat or config.sys files. Most device drivers are not loaded. A device driver is the software that Windows uses to interact with a piece of hardware, such as a printer or scanner. 
Instead of the normal graphics device driver, Safe Mode uses standard VGA graphics mode. This mode is supported by all Windows-compatible video cards. 
Himem.sys, which is normally loaded as part of the config.sys script, is loaded with the /testmem:on switch. This switch tells the computer to test the extended memory before continuing. 
Safe Mode checks the msdos.sys file for information on where to find the rest of the Windows files. If it finds the files, it proceeds to load Windows in Safe Mode with the command win /d:m. If it does not find the Windows files, it will run to bring up a C: prompt. 
Windows boots using a batch file called system.cb instead of the standard system.ini file. This file loads the Virtual Device Drivers (VxDs) that Windows uses to communicate with the standard parts of the computer. 
Windows now loads the regular system.ini file plus win.ini and Registry settings. It skips the [Boot] (except for the shell and device lines) and [386Enh] sections of system.ini and does not load or run any programs listed in win.ini. 
The Windows desktop loads up in 16 colors and at a resolution of 640 x 480 with the words "Safe Mode" in each corner. 
Safe Mode starts up automatically if Windows does not boot on the previous attempt. You can also invoke Safe Mode by pressing F5 or by pressing F8 and selecting it from the boot menu. 

So what should you do if your computer boots to Safe Mode? First, try to determine what has changed on your system that could have caused Windows to fail to boot properly. If you have added any kind of hardware, go to the Control Panel and remove it and uninstall the software driver for that device. Then attempt a reboot. If Windows boots properly, you can be reasonably certain that there was some type of conflict with the device and try to resolve it. 

Use this same method if you have loaded a new game or application sometime recently. Go to the Control Panel, click on Add/Remove Programs and remove the software. Try a reboot and hopefully you will get a normal Windows boot. 

If the problem is definitely not new hardware or software, then you most likely have a corrupted Registry. In this case, you will quite likely have to perform a new installation of Windows to set things right. 


[7] Blocking Cookies:

Cookies are those electronic bits of data that are implanted on your hard drive when you visit many sites. Mostly they are quite benign and enable the site to recall your name, account data, and so on, without the need to reenter the information each time you return to the site. Your browser will block all cookies if you wish, but that greatly impedes navigation throughout much of the Web. Here's another innovative way to deal with them in Netscape Communicator.

Locate the cookies.txt file in your browser path, usually Program Files/Netscape/users/(username). Examine the file with any text editor, delete the ones you don't want, and save the rest back to the same folder. Write-protect the file by right-clicking on it, select Properties, check Read-only and click OK. From your browser screen, click Edit|Preference, and under Advanced, make sure that Accept All Cookies is selected. Those sites setting cookies, in effect, believe the cookie is accepted, and Netscape does not issue an error message when the file cannot be written to.


[8] Questions and Answers:
developed from 5 Star Support

<>Question: How do I lock in an address in Internet Explorer?

Answer: Open IE, go to "TOOLS", "INTERNET OPTIONS", click on the "CONTENT" tab. Click the "AUTOCOMPLETE" button. Check the items you would like to enable. Select "OK". Select the "ADVANCED" tab. Scroll down to "use inline autocomplete for web addresses" box or "use inline autocomplete in windows explorer". Check the box to enable. 


<>Question: I am not able to shut off Content Advisor, can you help?

Answer: To close Content Advisor, follow the instructions below: 
1) Close Internet Explorer 
2) From the Desktop, click on Start | Find | Files or Folders 
Ensure that the box marked Look In shows the C: drive and not another drive letter or folder 
3) In the Named box, type: ratings.pol and click "Find Now". 
4) If you find this file, delete it and close this window. If you do not find this file, continue with the steps below. 
5) Open the Control Panel and double click on the Internet icon 
6) Click the Content tab 
7) Click on Disable ratings. If ratings are already disabled, click on the settings button, and then just put a setting in and hit OK. This will create a new ratings.pol file, so it should stop giving you the error about invalid configuration. 
8) Type the Supervisor Password, and then click OK. 

If you don't know the Supervisor Password, continue with the steps below:

The following instructions involve making changes to your Windows Registry. I strongly advise making a back up copy before making any changes.

1) Close the Control Panel. 
2) Click on Start> Run 
3) Type in: regedit and click OK. 
4) Follow this path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Policies/Ratings folder. 
Click on the "Ratings" folder to open its contents in the right pane. 
5) Now, in the right pane there will be a key labeled "key." Right-click on this entry and select Delete. 
6) Close the Registry Editor and reboot your computer. 

After your computer restarts, you can now return to Step 6 in the first section and disable the Content Advisor. 


<>Question: Can you help me with instructions on how to change from Windows NT to Windows 98?

1) Ensure you have the drivers for the present hardware, i.e. Graphics card,
Sound Card etc. before continuing....
2) Use the "DEBUG" fix once booted from a "MS-Windows Boot Disc" to
completely trash the partition table of the drive (sounds harsh, but gives
best results), please seek this from the Microsoft Knowledge base,
3) Using said "MS-Windows Boot Disc" partition the drive using FDISK, set
FAT32, preference of splits is up to you, 30Gb here as one entire drive.
4) Using "MS-Windows Boot Disc", at the A:\ prompt "FORMAT C: /s /u" ...
Minus "'s to Format the drive!
5) Insert the Windows 98 CDROM in the CD drive, ** CD drive: from here on
refers to the drive letter assigned to this device **
6) At the A:\ prompt type C:
7) At the C:\ prompt type MD WININST
8) At the C:\ prompt type CD WININST
9) At the C:\WININST prompt type COPY CDdrive:\WIN98\*.*
10) At the C:\WININST prompt type SETUP
11) Follow the screen.

<>Question: My hard drive is making a funny rattling noise, what could this be?

Answer: One possible solution is to check to see if you have an excess amount of dust built up on your fan blades. Remove the dust and the noise should go away.


<>Question: Netscape will not load. I get a repeated error message "NETSCAPE caused an invalid page fault in module MCSCAN32.DLL at 0167:021f088c." Uninstall and reinstall did not fix the problem. Can you help?

Answer: Try updating your McAfee virus scanner .DAT files and this should solve your problem.


<>Question: Can you help me find USB support software and drivers for Win95 OEM OSR21 (version 4.00.950b)?

Answer: You can find the USB upgrades for Win95b at the MS download center, downloaded them into your c:\windows\system\Vmm32. Once downloaded find the specific file in the Vmm32 folder where it was directed to reside, double click on the file to extract it as it downloads in zip format and once extracted install the Logitech QuickCam Pro software. 


[9] Contact Information:

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