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Diary of a Homepage
Part 8 (January 2002 - June 2003)

Part 1 (February - June 1996) || Part 2 (June - September 1996) || Part 3 (October 1996 - March 1997) || Part 4 (April 1997 - December 1997) || Part 5 (January 1998 - December 1998) || Part 6 (January - December 1999) || Part 7 (January 2000 - December 2001) || Part 8 (January 2002 - June 2003) || Part 9 (June 2003 - August 2003) || Part 10 (August 2003 - April 2007) || Part 11 (May 2007 - September 2007) || Part 12 (October 2007 -December 2007) || Part 13 (January 2008 - August 2008) || Part 14 (September 2008 -> June 2009) || Part 15 (July 2009 -> August 2009) || Part 16 (September 2009 -> December 2009) || Part 17  (January 2010 -> October 2010 ) || Part 18 (November 2010 -> December 2010) || Part 19 (January 2011 - September 2011) || Part 20 (October 2011 - March 2012) || Part 21 (April 2012 - July 2012) || Part 22 (August 2012 - September 2012 ) || Part 23 (October 2012 - December 2012) || Part 24 (January 2013 - December 2013) || Part 25 (January 2014 - December 2014 || Part 26 (January 2015 - December 2015 || Part 27 (January 2016 - October 2016) || Part 28 (November 2016 -> ) || Back to the home page

1st May 2003

Networking with Windows XP

It has been a long time since I put anything into the Diary but I have been provoked by my first skirmishes with Windows XP networking - readers may recall that the last Diary started with networking and the preparation of my Guide to Painless Networking. The results stood the test of time and I have set up many simple networks very quickly without hassle or problems. That is up to a few days ago when I tried to introduce a machine with Windows XP Home to a small simple network. It took 4 hours to get to a working and even then it was not to what I consider a totally secure state. It seemed that Painless Networking will need an upgrade for Windows XP and this section of the Diary starts with that journey of discovery.

Windows XP is the first major change in interface since the step from Windows 3.1 (aka Windows for Workgroups) to Windows 95. In some ways it is simpler with many Wizards and more consistent but many allege that underlying many of the changes is the desire to make more and more money by Microsoft by forcing upgrades. The support for earlier systems is being rapidly reduced so there are no fixes or patches any more for Windows 95, on sale less than 5 years ago and furthermore XP no longer supports the networking protocols that used to believe to be the most logical and secure choice. Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 used NetBEUI as the prime choice of Network protocol, by Windows 98 IPX/SPX was perhaps the favoured choice although NetBEUI, IPX/SPX and TCP/IP were all loaded by default with any network adapter. Now only TCP/IP is loaded by default, IPX/SPX can installed easily although the name has been subtly changed to put one off and NetBEUI is unsupported but I understand can be hunted out from the CD at your own risk and without further technical support.

The case against TCP/IP for simple LANs Superficially it may seem a very attractive and logical solution to use TCP/IP for local area networks as well as for Internet access but it has a major flaw - it makes it very easy for a machine to be hacked into from the Internet. The whole philosophy behind the way I set up Networks in "Painless Networking" was that of Gibson at the Gibson Research Corporation who produces the definitive Internet Connection Security analysis Software (Shields UP!). The philosophy was basically to totally separate the protocols used for external access to the Internet (TCP/IP) via a DialUp Adapter (Modem or similar) and Local Area Network access via at Network Adapter Card by using NetBUI and/or IPX/SPX and ensuring there were no "bindings" between TCP/IP and any non-essential Internet Services, in particular the "File and Printer Sharing" Services. If that was rigorously enforced then a Firewall was a luxury rather than an essential.

A world without NetBEUI The lack of support for NetBEUI in a Windows XP machine make adding one to an existing Network between Windows 9X machines a bit of a minefield. Running the Network Wizard in Windows XP and using the option to create a floppy disk to run on the other machines, providing they are new enough to run Windows 98, is the Microsoft proposal. If they are older then they are considered unsupported, useless and have to be thrown away as they processor and memory requirements of the latest bloatware is mind blowing. I initially tried many ways to get the machines to talk without TCP/IP and eventually had to give in and load TCP/IP on all of them and disable the Firewalls. This got me to the point where I could detect/work out where to put holes through the Firewalls for the LAN as set up by the XP Network Wizard. The Firewalls (ZoneAlarm) are now absolutely essential as they are now the prime protection against hacking. It took 4 hours to get to a less than satisfactory point whilst I would normally have been finished in 4 to 14 minutes on a Windows 9X machine, depending on what I had to load and how many resulting reboots .

Information Sources I then retreated to search for more information - unfortunately GRC had little to offer on XP but I found two sites worthy of a pause The World of Windows Networking http://www.wown.com and Practically Networked http://www.practicallynetworked.com/sharing/xp/addxp.htm between which I gained the background information to formulate a line of attack.

Doing without NetBEUI: Firstly it seemed to be worthwhile trying to do without the NetBEUI protocol which is no longer supported. It was a very simple, fast and safe choice and backward compatible but I was also loading IPX/SPX. I now assume that anyone still running Windows for Workgroups is probably capable of sorting out themselves so removing NetBEUI and concentrating on IPX/SPX is a good compromise in my approach to Painless Networking. Removing the bindings progressively on my home Network showed that NetBEUI was a luxury and IPX/SPX was sufficient with a mix of machines running W98 SE and Windows 95 OSR2. Perhaps the times to establish the Network are slower against which having only one protocol does offer less chance of confusion - I understand Using more than one protocol, can make networking with XP unreliable. I will therefore put notes into Painless Networking that NetBEUI can be considered redundant, probably even with the original Windows 95 with SP1 and removed. This should give an overlap in supported protocols between XP and existing networks. The only caution is that when the final binding to NetBEUI is unchecked NetBEUI disappears completely from the screens and I recall from somewhere that it is then difficult to reestablish on some systems due to some system flaw (ie it may be a one way journey).

IPX/SPX Settings without NetBEUI From general reading I have found that it is advised that one should tick the boxes for allowing NetBIOS to run over IPX/SPX although it worked in my case without and on the Advanced Tag - that I have now implemented on my Networks without NetBEUI. It is also suggested that one should define the Frame Type explicitly to be the same type on all machines rather than use Automatic configuration, the default. That is a change which is seems to have dubious benefit and it is not favoured in MS technical notes - it may be required if you have non Windows systems also on the Network. I have not implemented it.

The Windows XP end of the Networking We now have to attack the Windows XP end of the Networking. The various places and screens for configuration have been changed considerably - even many of the names have been changed. You have to work to find them as you end up directed by default to wizards. The Wizards carry out the configuration according to the Gospel of Microshaft which holds TCP/IP in the highest esteem despite the security problems I have mentioned. I had at this point gathered a lot of information and procedures which I needed to test and implement.

Some of what I have had gleaned was:

Windows XP Network setup to match a typical existing Network

The following section has been updated as I have proceeded to provide the relevant procedures for including in "Painless Networking" - It was not all so simple the first time! The main steps are:

  1. Disable your firewall and virus checking Before removing, installing or making significant modifications to anything to do with the Network, in particular unloading or loading Dial up Networking or TCP/IP, you should disable your firewall and virus checking. They may link into TCP/IP and give problems when the links disappear. Most Firewalls and Virus checkers have a flag to say if they should load automatically on startup which should be unticked and the system rebooted. After you have finished they should be re-enabled before you take too many risks.
  2. Set up Names: Firstly set up the Computer Name, Workgroup name and Computer Description - on XP this is via the Network Connections I prefer to
    • Go to the Control Panel and to change it to Classic View
    • Open Network Connections
    • Select LAN Connection at the bottom
    • Click Network ID on the Advanced drop down Menu at the top
      • Enter a Computer Description
      • A unique computer Name and
      • the same Workgroup name for all machines on the same network
      If you are selecting and setting the Name and WorkGroup for the first time on a new network it is best to use Upper letters and numbers only and to keep them less than 12 characters for

  3. Disable the Internet Connection Firewall: To disable ICF on the Local Area Network (LAN) Connection,
    • Open Network Connections,
    • Right click LAN Connection at the bottom and click Properties.
      The Properties sheet shows the network components associated with the connection.
    • Select the Advanced tab, then un-check the "Protect my computer and network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the Internet" box.
    • Windows XP asks you to confirm your decision to disable the firewall - Click OK to disable it.
    This step should also be done for the Internet Connections if you intend to use a separate Firewall such as ZoneAlarm.

  4. Add the IPX/SPX Protocol: IPX/SPX is fully supported in XP and is my prefered "safe" protocol which is used on networks set up as in Painless Networking. The name is slightly different with NW (for Netware) in the front.
    • Click Start, click Control Panel, and then Open Network Connections.
    • Right-click the LAN Connection and then click Properties.
    • On the General tab, click Install.
    • Click Protocol, and then click Add.
    • Click NWLink IPX/SPX/NetBIOS Compatible Transport Protocol and click OK.
      Two NWLink items are added to the connection's Properties
    • Restart your computer even if not requested and The IPX/SPX protocol should now be installed and working.

  5. Set up Bindings: By default, Windows XP binds all installed protocols to each network connection and service. We need to remove various bindings to limit the services using each protocol. The mechanism is very different to Win9X and in XP one should:
    • Open the Network Connections folder and on the Advanced drop down menu click Advanced Settings
    • Click the connection name under Connections. The appropriate bindings appear under Bindings.
    • To remove a binding, un-check the corresponding box. For example, we want to use IPX/SPX instead of TCP/IP for file sharing,so we un-bind TCP/IP from both File and Printer Sharing and Client for Microsoft Networks.
    • It is also necessary to right click the LAN Network Connection and click properties then untick the TCP/IP box to completely prevent TCP/IP being used instead of IPX/SPX.
    • Restart your computer even if not requested

  6. Sharing: The existing network will already have shared folders but you will need to set them up on the XP machine before you will see it over the Network. If you can not see the Sharing Tabs on the Properties of a Folder check File and Printer Sharing is enabled in the LAN configuration

  7. Testing: The Configuration should now be complete and you should be able to see the XP machine from the existing network and vice versa in Network Neighborhood/Network Places. One thing to note is that it can take a long time before Network Neighborhood/My Network Places fully updates for new machines and reconfiguration - this is because a Browse Master is automatically selected to retain Network configuration information and organise traffic and that process is not repeated until a change is recognised which can take a while. It took a long time before the XP machine was displaying up to date information although the Network was working fine from the other machines. Turning all the machines off and starting together may help.

  8. Security Testing and Firewalls: The use of the IPX/SPX protocol and breaking of all bindings between TCP/IP should now have closed the security holes inherent in the use of TCP/IP over a LAN but it is still wise to check the security both with and without the firewall using the the Shields Up tests at the Gibson Research Corporation.

  9. Windows XP Internet Connection Firewall: If you do not have a firewall it may now be possible to (re-)enable the simple built in Firewall on the Dial-up Connection without affecting the LAN - see above for the proceedure. I have not tried as I use ZoneAlarm, the excellent free firewall. If you do so repeat the Shields Up tests at the Gibson Research Corporation.

Back to the original Chronological story!

Having armed myself with all this information and drafted all the Neighborhood above it was time to go back to the system with the Windows XP machine and implement them.

Changes to existing Machines: I removed the redundant NetBEUI and TCP/IP protocols from all the original machines and checked that they could still talk to each other and then put the XP machine back.

Setting up the XP machine: I loaded and set up IPX/SPX as above. In the case of the XP machine you can not remove the TCP/IP protocol so I first broke all the bindings between TCP/IP, the Network Adapter and File and Print Sharing it would allow - at least there is no need to reboot. This still did not allow everyone on the network to see everyone else so I also unticked TCP/IP completely on the Network Connection Properties and bingo.

Patience: One thing to note is that it can take a long time before Network Neighborhood/My Network updates for new machines and reconfiguration - this is because it selects a Browse Master to retain Network configuration information and organise traffic and that process is not repeated until a change is recognised which can take a while. It took a long time before the XP machine was displaying up to date information although the Network was working fine from the other machines.

Adding NetBEUI to Windows XP Home This is for information only - it is not my prefered way forwards and only provided for completeness and to avoid my forgetting. The NetBEUI protocol is available but not supported on Windows XP. If you want to use it instead of IPX/SPX the files required are Netnbf.inf and Nbf.sys which can be found on the Windows XP CD-ROM in the Valueadd\MSFT\Net\NetBEUI folder. The following are for information and base a Microsoft technical note - I have not actually installed NetBEUI on an XP system


Tests on my own machine: Whilst doing all the tests on my own machine I tried a number of configurations for my own interest including various uses of TCP/IP with fixed and automatic IP addresses. I could not get TCP/IP to work alone on the OSR2 machine which needed NetBEUI or IPX/SPX as well otherwise it could not even see files marked as shared on itself via the network! This conformed my approach. I used a number of DOS utilities whilst trying out the various alternative TCP/IP approaches namely: I found and used the following DOS system utilities

Problems: I ended up making a lot of simultaneous changes and had a few machine fallovers so the message is to not make too many changes at a time and reboot between each one. In doing all this I lost connection between programs and the internet - the indications from the above types of test were that the so called Windows Socket "Winsock" had been corrupted.

The Search for a missing Windows Socket: I did various tests using Ping and Tracert in a MS-DOS window, unloaded and reloaded Dial Up Networking and TCP/IP completely and everything I could think of short of reloading Windows including applying any updates I could find such as the DUN 1.4 modification and other things which might force a reload such as Internet Connection Sharing (ICS). I finally found an excellent site which had a long page covering all such problems at Modem Help (http://www.modem-help.co.uk/modbrok3.html) which lead me to gradually narrow it to a damaged registry entry and a way to reset it which involved deleting a huge registry key and reloading TCP/IP and Dial up Networking - a last resort but one which worked much to my relief as I had been starting to look out all the information for my first reload of the Dell 700! The proceedure (here only for my own audit trail) was to find,export and delete the Corrupted WinSock2 registry key located at: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/System/CurrentControlSet/Services/WinSock2 then Uninstall the DUN and TCP/IP, reboot, Reinstall the DUN and TCP/IP, reboot, check and reconfigure TCP/IP if required, reboot and test. Read about the proceedure and the conditions when it may help at Modem Help before even thinking about it.

The future of the Diary and the Libretto:

Having once more started Diary up I have decided it still has a real use and will probably even add a few more bits to retrospectively cover the changes over the last year or so - ZoneAlarm 3.7.143 and McAfee Virusscan 7 (version 7.02.6000) now protect the machines, both are worthwhile upgrades which in the Pro versions also protect the XP machine I refer to above. Neither will work with Windows 95 so the time of 95 and the Libretto is coming to an end. I have squeezed IE 5.5 and ZoneAlarm 2.6.363 (the last one for W95) onto the Libretto giving it an extension in life and currently I can still get upgrades to the Virus definitions and the latest scan engine (4.2.40). for McAfee 3.0.4 which are incredibly still used in version 7.0. In fact the latest scan engine has not yet been automatically downloaded so I am ahead of most people!

More on ZoneAlarm version 3: The Version 3 ZoneAlarm has quite a different user interface but is easier to use when valid network traffic and internet programs/calls are intercepted. For example you have set up a home network using TCP/IP and re-enable ZoneAlarm. It will give you alerts as each machine "signs in". If you now go to the alert log you can highlight them and click Add and give them a name and you are then set up. The same applies if an ISP (eg Freeserve) needs to ping your machine before allowing an FTP transfer. It is still free and a "must have" piece of software to avoid being hacked.

7th May 2003

This is, once again, the working draft of a new page extending the features of The Howto Article on Popup Windows for Images

Advanced Popup Windows for Images

The Howto Article on Popup Windows for Images has been one of the most popular and I get a lot of feedback. I often get requests for information on how to add various "bells and whistles" such as titles and background colours. I have resisted making the original article too complex and put people off who know little JavaScript but instead provided this Advanced Popup Windows for Images supplement which gives a number of ideas for the more experienced JavaScript user and also "cut and paste" code for the less experienced.

There are many possible ways to make the additions including using the various Parameters associated with the Document Object. In practice this method gives problems with various Browsers as they implement the Document Object in different ways. This is especial true if the popup window has been opened with just the address of a graphic. The next promising looking way is to open the popup with a HTML page providing the framework and using the Document Object to change the graphic to the one required and similarly set a new title by a statements such as:

popup_window.document.images[0].scr = "new_graphic.jpg" ;
popup_window.document.bgColor = "Black"
popup_window.document.title = "Title of Page"

Even this does not work well with earlier versions of Opera and one is forced to create a separate little page for each popup.

It is however possible to reliably write the page on-the-fly using JavaScript writeln() statements and parameters passed via a function call. The following code demonstrates the technique and adds a title parameter and has the background colour set to black. It also centers the graphic giving identical displays with all browsers. If the window is open it is brought into the foreground and cleared, if not a new window is opened. The HTML is then written on-the-fly by a series of writeln() statements. It has not been used as much as the simple code but should not give any major problems and can be easily modified to special requirements without an extensive knowledge of JavaScript. The technique is used in the Embedding Video in Web pages article and on one of my commercial sites. It has been tested in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4+, Netscape 4+ and Opera 7+. Note - Earlier versions of Opera do not fail but do not display popup windows the same as other windows regardless how the code is created.

Advanced Popup Windows for Images

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
<!-- ;
var newwindow = ''

function popitup(url , title) {
if (newwindow.location && !newwindow.closed)
{ newwindow.focus(); newwindow.document.clear() }
else
{ newwindow=window.open('','','width=404,height=316,resizable=1') }
newwindow.document.writeln('<html> <head> <title>' + title + '<\/title> <\/head> <body bgcolor=\"black\"> <center>');
newwindow.document.writeln('<img src=' + url + '>');
newwindow.document.writeln('<\/center> <\/body> <\/html>');
newwindow.document.close();
}

function tidy()
{
if (newwindow.location && !newwindow.closed) { newwindow.close(); }
}

// Based on JavaScript provided by Peter Curtis at www.pcurtis.com -->
</script>


The code can be copied and pasted to replace the code on the current popup page but remember to add the additional title parameter to the call.

I am providing the same examples, from one of our travel pages, as on the main page, to try in all browsers. Decoration on the Sri Mariamman Temple Offerings in the Temple of Heavenly Bliss If you click on the images to left and right they will open in sequence in a correctly sized Window. Note how they come back to the foreground (in focus in the the jargon) when the thumbnails are clicked. If you drag the image window to a favoured place it will return to view in the same place. If you close the image Window it causes no problems, however when it reopens it will revert to the original place and size. You will also find that the image window is closed when the page is left (unloaded in the jargon), few sites tidy up extra windows. Note now there is a coloured background, window title and the picture is centred in all browsers.

If you only have a couple of different sizes such as vertical and horizantal pictures from a camera it is best to duplicate the simpler popup as the user can move them to different places and they will stay. This is impracticle when most of the images are different sizes. This is the situation when, for example, one is adding a series of screen dumps to an article on configuring Windows. The following code allows one to specify the size of the image with each call. We still reuse the popup window if we have clicked the same icon a second time or the size has not changed. If the size has changed we close the window and open a new one to match the graphic. The height and width parameters should be those of the image as they have the required padding added.

Code to cut and paste for Advanced Popup with Title and Image Size parameters

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
<!-- ;
var newwindow = ''
var wheight = 0
var wwidth = 0

function popitup(url , title, iwidth, iheight) {
if (wheight!=iheight | wwidth!=iwidth){tidy()};
if (newwindow.location && !newwindow.closed && wwidth==iwidth && wheight==iheight)
{ newwindow.focus(); newwindow.document.clear() }
else
{
pwidth=iwidth+20;
pheight=iheight+20;
newwindow=window.open('','','width=' + pwidth +',height=' +pheight + ',resizable=1');
wheight=iheight;
wwidth=iwidth;
}
newwindow.document.writeln('<html> <head> <title>' + title + '<\/title> <\/head> <body bgcolor=\"black\"> <center>');
newwindow.document.writeln('<img src=' + url + '>');
newwindow.document.writeln('<\/center> <\/body> <\/html>');
newwindow.document.close();
}

function tidy()
{
if (newwindow.location && !newwindow.closed) { newwindow.close(); }
}

// Based on JavaScript provided by Peter Curtis at www.pcurtis.com -->
</script>


The code can be copied and pasted to replace the code on the current popup page but remember to add the additional title and size parameters to the call. If you copy by hand beware as it is impossible to tell 2x single quotes '' from a double quotes " in many character sets.

15th May 2003

Disaster Strickes

Disaster has struck - I was crushed under a damaged and incorrectly adjusted Lift Bridge on the South Oxford Canal a week ago.

I am currently trying out the Accessability features in Windows such as StickyKeys for one handed typing and have obtained a Logitech Trackman Wheel Optical trackerball for when I can start to move fingures on the damaged arm but it will take a long time before much gets done - specialists estimate 2-3 months before bones in arm knit. Holiday and all commercial work on hold.

Logitech TrackMan Wheel Optical Trackerball: We found just what we needed in Argos. It comes with a USB cable and tiny adapter to PS/2. It was detected at turn-on by W98SE but it needed to be installed from CD to get all the features and to be able to adjust speed and acceleration. It does the job well with a ball on the side operated by the thumb and buttons and wheel operated by fingers with very little movement which is perfect as the slightest arm movement is still agony. StickyKeys is however very difficult as it clears when a key is pressed but not a mouse click so you can end up doing all sorts of unexpected operations.

24th May 2003

Disaster Strickes

More Disasters - Hard Drive Dies: Amost as soon as I thought In would be back in action the big machine died. The machine failed to boot up and there was an unusual noise from the drive during booting. Neither drive seemed to be recognised in the CMOS BIOS which was confirmed by looking in the CMOS Setup. It was time to take the lid off and disconect drives - firstly the important additional drive with all our data (backed up fairly recently!) and the easiest to get to. No change so it was either the controller/cable or primary boot drive which came with the machine. We got out an old 850 mbyte drive and connected in place of the 13 Gbyte drive and it was detected fine in the CMOS BIOS and during a boot from the floppy boot disk. Lesson 1 - make sure you make a boot floppy or you are comletely lost. The old drive had a system for the other machine so it was formated from the floppy boot DOS to give a clean start to install Windows 98.

Rebuilding Windows on the Dell Dimension T700r: This was the first time for a reinstall but fortunately all the CDs with Drivers and system software had been kept together in the box supplied along with the manuals. Lesson 2 - make sure you make sure the manufacturer has provided all the drivers and you know where they are. Even so it was far from a trivial activity to find the drivers etc required as the CDs covered many Dell machines. The basic Windows 98 SE system took about 45 minutes to install and provided very basic drivers for the fancy TrackerBall but only provided a 640x480 screen, no audio, no network card and no drivers for the StudioDV+ video card - 5 yellow error flags in Control Panel -> System -> Devices but none the disasterous sort where there are resource conflicts.

Rodents: The proper Trackerball was the most urgent and the CD was already to hand from the previous week - the proper drivers went in as expected. Lesson 3 - make sure you keep all the installation floppies or CDs for cards and perpherals, such as printers, you install where they can be found - otherwise it is a long search or big downloads.

Network card: The network card came next and the driver was easily found on the driver CD as I knew it was 3Com card. The .exe install program removed another yellow peril and I set up the network in a few minutes and we were back in communication.

Video and Audio Cards: This was more difficult as there were lots of Video Drivers for different cards although I knew it was a NVIDIA card. I tried two both of which gave me folders of drivers files. On going through the install process with a driver disk proceedure the first came back saying unsuitable but the second told me it had found compatible drivers and we were away with resolutions of 1600x1280 at 32 bit. There did not seem to be any drivers for the audio card on the CD but there was a complete one from Creative for the Soundblaster card and running that cleared a couple more yellow perils and gave sound back.

Selecting a drive: I now had confidence I had found everything and it was time after 6 hours to order a new drive - dabs.com turned out, as usual to be the cheapest and I ordered a Seagate Barracuda 80 Gbyte drive for £68 including VAT and delivery which came within 24 hours. There will always be a most cost effective size and I need plenty of space for video - the differential cost for the last 40 Gbytes was under £5. I believe all present drives are backward compatible on the EIDA bus standards 7200 drives are slightly faster for video work and larger buffers are again good but not worth paying for on an older slow machine. The choice of Seagate was partly price but also for compatibility with the existing secondary drive but mainly because of their software for partitioning, formating and system transfer

Pinnacle StudioDV+ : In the meantime I had a go at installing StudioDV+ which cleared the last serious yellow perils but did not work properly - it seemed to think I had a NTSC rather than PAL setup. I still do not know what caused it but a couple of uninstalls, reinstalls of the older version and a careful uninstall deleting directories and every file finally got a good install. Studio DV has always been tricky but I had hoped the version 7 upgrade would have been better - incidently the upgrade required the old CD to be inserted and, for the first time i had a real search.Lesson 4 - make sure you know where all versions of software are when you have bought an upgrade.

The rest of the standard software went in without problem although the 850 drive was now starting to give disk full problems when testing StudioDV+ so it seemed time to stop after adding the printer and installing a old spare ISA modem card which eventually auto-detected when I was just about to give up plugging it in and out and playing with adding serial ports etc. It turned out to be just bad contacts.

CD Writer: CD/RW drives get basic support for reading when Windows detects them but you need software to do any useful writing. I found a CD for Adaptec DirectCD and that set up the CD/RW and everything was back to virtually normal. Lesson 5 - make sure you have been supplied with the sources of all essential preloaded software, Dell is excellent but others are not so good.

Seagate Barricuda 80 Gbyte Drive: The drive arrived by which time I had found the CD which came with the last Seagate drive to help in jumper configuration, partitioning, formating, adding a system to make it bootable and for copying an existing Windows system disk across - much easier than the old DOS FDISK etc. Copies are downloadable from their web site if it does not come with the drive. The program can also change all references to a CD drive if it moves drive name when you add drives - I avoided it as the order of changes is critical on a complex system and it seemed better to not risk it. It took under an hour from unpacking to have it set up and running as the main drive.

The end result was that I was back up and running with all important software within 30 hours on the new drive. I still had to retrieve favorites, dictionaries, templates etc from my My Backup directory, still on the secondary drive. Lesson 6 - make sure you periodically export and back up your favorites, cookies, dictionaries and any other useful configuration files. I fortunately had even a backup copy of the desktop with all its links and folders. I also had to turn on DMA transfers for the drives which increases transfer rates dramatically (4-5 fold in tests for video work) Control Panel -> System -> Devices -> Disks Drives -> Generic drive controlers -> Properties -> Settings Tab. One may also need to look in the CMOS BIOS if it makes no difference. The new drive gives 28mbytes/sec read and 19 mbytes/sec write rates compaired to a requirement of 4/mbytes/sec for video work and 12.5 mbytes and 15 mbytes/sec for the Seagate 40 Gbyte drive previously used for video. Before DMA was enable both drives failed the test for suitability for video work. Note: Defragmenting drives also makes a big difference 50-100% is not unusual and also closing all background programs using EndItAll.

Paragon Partition Manager: A free copy of Paragon's Partition Manager 2000 was the feature on the Computer Shopper's last cover disk. This provided an oportunity to increase the partition size of my D: drive where my data sits on both machines and is shared over the Network. I had been apprehensive of using any partition software and had not wanted to spend over £40 on the de facto standard "Partition Magic" but I now had less to lose as I had the space to back everything up from the 40Gbyte drive. Paragon's Partition Manager 2000 is free because it is pre Windows XP and they hope to sell the new version. I installed it and read the help files carefully - they are a bit quaint but have actual examples of the more common tasks like the one I wanted to do. It is all a bit clunky and reminiscent of Windows 3.1 and there are several stages for what would seem to be a single task and it is slow. To increase a full 4 Gbyte primary partition to 8 Gbytes at the expense of a single almost empty, 36 Gbyte secondary partition on a 700 Mhz machine with fast drives took well over an hour for the three stages but it did what I wanted. It took almost as long to copy the 36 Gbytes on the drive to backup homes before I started so it could be worse. You can not work in Windows on the boot partition and I would be careful on the primary drive altogether. I also turned off the virus checker, used the EndItAll utility to stop all other programs possible and disconnected the network for safety and speed before starting. EndItAll is a Ziff-Davis Magazines Utility - search for it on their web site by name.

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Most recent significant revision: 30th May, 2003
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