PCs All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies 2nd Edition

PCs All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies 2nd Edition
PCs
ALL-IN-ONE DESK REFERENCE
FOR
DUMmIES
‰
2ND
EDITION
by Mark L. Chambers
PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies,® 2nd Edition
Published by
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
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New York, NY 10022
www.wiley.com
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Published simultaneously in Canada
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About the Author
Mark L. Chambers has been an author, computer consultant, BBS sysop, programmer, and
hardware technician for more than 20 years.
(In other words, he’s been pushing computers
and their uses far beyond “normal” performance limits for decades now.) His first love
affair with a computer peripheral blossomed
in 1984 when he bought his lightning-fast
300 Bps modem for his Atari 400 — and now
he spends entirely too much time on the Internet and drinks far too much
caffeine-laden soda.
His favorite pastimes include collecting gargoyles, following St. Louis
Cardinals baseball, playing his three pinball machines and the latest computer games, supercharging computers, and rendering 3-D flights of fancy
with TrueSpace — and during all that, he listens to just about every type of
music imaginable. (For those of his readers who are keeping track, he’s up
to 1,200+ audio CDs in his collection.)
With a degree in journalism and creative writing from Louisiana State
University, Mark took the logical career choice and started programming
computers. However, after five years as a COBOL programmer for a hospital
system, he decided that there must be a better way to earn a living, and he
became the Documentation Manager for Datastorm Technologies, a wellknown communications software developer. Somewhere in between organizing and writing software manuals, Mark began writing computer books; his
first book, Running a Perfect BBS, was published in 1994.
Along with writing several books a year and editing whatever his publishers
throw at him, Mark has recently branched out into Web-based education,
designing and teaching a number of online classes — called WebClinics — for
Hewlett-Packard.
Mark’s rapidly expanding list of books includes Building a PC For Dummies,
Scanners For Dummies, CD and DVD Recording For Dummies, Mac OS X All-inOne Desk Reference For Dummies, Microsoft Office v. X Power User’s Guide,
BURN IT! Creating Your Own Great DVDs and CDs, The Hewlett-Packard Official
Printer Handbook, The Hewlett-Packard Official Recordable CD Handbook, The
Hewlett-Packard Official Digital Photography Handbook, Computer Gamer’s
Bible, Recordable CD Bible, Teach Yourself the iMac Visually, Running a Perfect
BBS, Official Netscape Guide to Web Animation, and the Windows 98
Troubleshooting and Optimizing Little Black Book.
His books have been translated into 12 different languages so far — his
favorites are German, Polish, Dutch, and French. Although he can’t read
them, he enjoys the pictures a great deal.
Mark welcomes all comments and questions about his books — you can
reach him at [email protected] or visit him at MLC Books Online (his Web
site) at www.mlcbooks.com.
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my daughter in-between, Chelsea Chambers —
fashion designer, mathematician, and audiophile — with all my love.
Author’s Acknowledgments
Books don’t produce themselves — and no book that I’ve written is complete
without a round of sincere thanks (and applause) that’s due to everyone
involved!
First, my appreciation to my technical editor, Vinay Veeramachaneni, who
spent weeks checking every fact and verifying every menu choice in this
book. I do a lot of technical editing myself, and I can tell you that it’s no
simple task to wade through this many chapters . . . it takes a combination of
long nights and lots of soda.
This is my second All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies volume, and again,
the Wiley Composition Services team has outdone itself in designing and
preparing the material. All the beautiful formatting in this book (including
every single figure and screen shot, all the step-by-step procedures, and the
regular appearances of Mark’s Maxims) is a testament to this team’s hard
work.
As with all my books, I’d like to thank my wife, Anne, and my children, Erin,
Chelsea, and Rose, for their support and love — and for letting me follow my
dream!
And I won’t forget the support, the patience, and the guidance of Tiffany
Franklin, my Acquisitions Editor, and Linda Morris, my Project Editor. Tiffany,
I hope I kept any headaches to a minimum, even with a tome this size. And
Linda, you deserve a parade for helping me deliver two monster books in a
row! My heartfelt thanks to you both.
What can I tell you about the best copy editor on the planet? Teresa Artman
scrutinized the entire manuscript with the perfect combination of tenacity
and precision . . . and as a result, you can actually understand what I was
trying to communicate. Her humor and invaluable editing skills are reflected
in every paragraph of this book, and she should run for President!
Publisher’s Acknowledgments
We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form
located at www.dummies.com/register/.
Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:
Acquisitions, Editorial, and
Media Development
Production
Project Editor: Linda D. Morris
Associate Acquisitions Editor:
Tiffany D. Franklin
Senior Copy Editor: Teresa Artman
Technical Editor: Vinay Veeramachaneni
Editorial Manager: Kevin Kirschner
Senior Permissions Editor: Carmen Krikorian
Project Coordinator: Nancee Reeves,
Dale White
Layout and Graphics: Karl Brandt,
Amanda Carter, Brian Drumm,
Lauren Goddard, Joyce Haughey,
Stephanie D. Jumper, Michael Kruzil,
Kristin McMullan, Tiffany Muth,
Shelley Norris, Ron Terry,
Julie Trippetti
Media Development Supervisor:
Richard Graves
Proofreaders: Andy Hollandbeck, Betty Kish,
Susan Moritz, Carl William Pierce,
Kathy Simpson, Brian H. Walls
Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth
Indexer: Anne Leach
Cartoons: Rich Tennant
(www.the5thwave.com)
Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies
Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher
Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher
Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director
Publishing for Consumer Dummies
Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher
Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director
Composition Services
Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services
Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services
Contents at a Glance
Introduction .................................................................1
Book I: PC Hardware ....................................................7
Chapter 1: Starting with the Basics..................................................................................9
Chapter 2: Additional Toys Your PC Will Enjoy ............................................................23
Chapter 3: Connectors, Ports, and Sundry Openings..................................................41
Chapter 4: Maintaining Your Hardware .........................................................................49
Book II: Windows XP ..................................................63
Chapter 1: Shake Hands with Windows XP ...................................................................65
Chapter 2: The Many Windows of Windows .................................................................85
Chapter 3: Windows XP Basics .....................................................................................105
Chapter 4: Customizing Windows XP...........................................................................131
Chapter 5: Maintaining the XP Beast ...........................................................................161
Chapter 6: Taking Control of the Control Panel..........................................................185
Chapter 7: Easy XP Troubleshooting ...........................................................................213
Book III: The Internet................................................227
Chapter 1: Making Sense of the Internet .....................................................................229
Chapter 2: Adding a Dialup Connection to Windows XP...........................................243
Chapter 3: Protecting Your Internet Privacy...............................................................251
Chapter 4: Cruising the Web with Internet Explorer..................................................263
Chapter 5: Harnessing Your E-Mail...............................................................................281
Chapter 6: Instant Messaging Done Right ...................................................................303
Book IV: Microsoft Works ..........................................317
Chapter 1: An Overview of Works ................................................................................319
Chapter 2: Word Processing in Works .........................................................................329
Chapter 3: Working with Spreadsheets .......................................................................345
Chapter 4: Using the Works Calendar ..........................................................................361
Chapter 5: Having Fun with Works Database..............................................................373
Book V: Office XP .....................................................385
Chapter 1: Introducing Office XP..................................................................................387
Chapter 2: Using Word ...................................................................................................399
Chapter 3: Putting Excel to Work .................................................................................429
Chapter 4: Performing with PowerPoint......................................................................455
Chapter 5: Doing Database Magic with Access ..........................................................481
Chapter 6: Staying in Touch with Outlook ..................................................................499
Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos .............523
Chapter 1: Scanning with Gusto ...................................................................................525
Chapter 2: Dude, MP3 Rocks! ........................................................................................545
Chapter 3: Making Movies with Your PC .....................................................................559
Chapter 4: I Can Make My Own DVDs? ........................................................................579
Chapter 5: I’m Okay, You’re a Digital Camera .............................................................599
Book VII: Upgrading and Supercharging ....................617
Chapter 1: Determining What to Upgrade...................................................................619
Chapter 2: Adding RAM to Your Hot Rod ....................................................................627
Chapter 3: Scotty, I Need More Power! ........................................................................633
Chapter 4: Adding Hard Drive Territory to Your System ..........................................641
Chapter 5: Partying with USB, FireWire, and Hubs ....................................................651
Chapter 6: Pumping Up Your Sound and Video..........................................................657
Book VIII: Home Networking .....................................665
Chapter 1: Do I Really Need a Network? ......................................................................667
Chapter 2: Ethernet to the Rescue ...............................................................................675
Chapter 3: Going Wireless .............................................................................................697
Chapter 4: Sharing Your Internet Connection.............................................................711
Index .......................................................................725
Table of Contents
Introduction..................................................................1
What’s Really Required ...................................................................................1
What’s Not Required........................................................................................2
About This Book...............................................................................................2
Conventions Used in This Book .....................................................................2
Stuff that you type..................................................................................2
Menu commands ....................................................................................3
Display messages ...................................................................................3
How This Book Is Organized...........................................................................3
Book I: PC Hardware ..............................................................................3
Book II: Windows XP ..............................................................................3
Book III: The Internet .............................................................................3
Book IV: Microsoft Works ......................................................................4
Book V: Office XP....................................................................................4
Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos....................................4
Book VII: Upgrading and Supercharging..............................................4
Book VIII: Home Networking .................................................................4
Icons Used in This Book..................................................................................4
Book I: PC Hardware .....................................................7
Chapter 1: Starting with the Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Defining Basic Terms .......................................................................................9
Hardware ...............................................................................................10
Software .................................................................................................11
Peripherals ............................................................................................12
The Common Components of a Desktop PC...............................................13
The computer .......................................................................................14
The monitor ..........................................................................................16
The keyboard and mouse....................................................................16
Speakers ................................................................................................18
Desktop PCs versus Laptop PCs ..................................................................18
RAM and Processors: The Keys to Performance .......................................19
Your Friend, Your Operating System ...........................................................20
Chapter 2: Additional Toys Your PC Will Enjoy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
Printers............................................................................................................24
Inkjet versus laser printers .................................................................24
Photo printers.......................................................................................26
Label printers........................................................................................27
Scanners ..........................................................................................................28
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Keyboards, Tablets, and Pointing Things ...................................................30
Tickling keys wirelessly .......................................................................30
Putting a tablet to work .......................................................................30
Repeat after me: Buy a trackball! .......................................................31
Big-Time Game Controllers ...........................................................................32
Video and Digital Cameras............................................................................33
External Drives ...............................................................................................35
Portable hard drives and CD/DVD recorders ...................................35
Backup drives .......................................................................................37
USB flash drives....................................................................................37
Surge Protectors and UPS Units ...................................................................38
Chapter 3: Connectors, Ports, and Sundry Openings . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Using USB Stuff ...............................................................................................41
Riding in the Fast Lane with FireWire..........................................................43
Your Antique Serial Port................................................................................44
The Once-Renowned Parallel Port ...............................................................44
Meet Your Video Port ....................................................................................45
Audio Connectors You’ll Likely Need ..........................................................46
Keyboard and Mouse Ports on Parade........................................................47
Chapter 4: Maintaining Your Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
When Should I Move My PC? ........................................................................49
Avoiding Dust Bunnies ..................................................................................50
Watching Your Cables....................................................................................51
Cleaning Monitors and Scanners .................................................................52
Cleaning Your Mouse and Keyboard ...........................................................53
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer .......................................................54
Cleaning laser printers ........................................................................54
Changing inkjet cartridges ..................................................................56
Calibrating your printer.......................................................................57
Cleaning inkjet cartridges ...................................................................60
Should you refill used inkjet cartridges?...........................................60
Book II: Windows XP ...................................................63
Chapter 1: Shake Hands with Windows XP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
Why Windows XP, Anyway? ..........................................................................66
Shutting Things Down ...................................................................................67
Shutting down completely ..................................................................67
Restarting your PC ...............................................................................68
Using standby mode ............................................................................68
Yes, your PC can hibernate .................................................................69
Logging off .............................................................................................69
Your Windows XP Controls...........................................................................70
Icons.......................................................................................................70
That constantly changing cursor .......................................................70
Table of Contents
xi
The Start menu .....................................................................................72
The taskbar ...........................................................................................73
Menus and toolbars .............................................................................75
Using Bill’s Funky Keys..................................................................................76
The Windows keys ...............................................................................77
The Shortcut key ..................................................................................77
Other PC-specific keys.........................................................................78
Using the Windows XP Help System ............................................................78
Displaying Help.....................................................................................79
Searching for specific help ..................................................................80
Yelling for assistance ...........................................................................82
Chapter 2: The Many Windows of Windows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85
Managing Windows Means Productivity .....................................................85
Opening and closing windows ............................................................86
Scrolling windows ................................................................................87
Minimizing and restoring windows ....................................................89
Maximizing and restoring windows ...................................................90
Moving windows...................................................................................90
Resizing windows .................................................................................91
Switching windows...............................................................................91
A Field Guide to Icons....................................................................................92
Hardware icons.....................................................................................93
Program icons.......................................................................................94
File icons................................................................................................94
Folder icon ............................................................................................96
Shortcut icons.......................................................................................96
System icons .........................................................................................98
Selecting Icons................................................................................................99
Selecting a single icon..........................................................................99
Selecting multiple contiguous icons by dragging ..........................100
Selecting multiple contiguous icons by clicking ............................100
Selecting multiple separated icons by clicking ..............................100
Using the Toolbar.........................................................................................102
Chapter 3: Windows XP Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105
Running Applications from the Start Menu ..............................................106
Running Applications from Your Hard Drive ............................................107
Running Applications from a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM ...............................108
Exiting a Program .........................................................................................109
Putting Your Files in Order .........................................................................110
Copying and moving stuff..................................................................110
Creating a new folder .........................................................................113
Deleting stuff with mouse and keyboard.........................................113
Displaying properties.........................................................................113
Renaming items ..................................................................................114
Emptying the Recycle Bin ...........................................................................115
Recovering Items from the Recycle Bin ....................................................116
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Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces .................................................117
Tossing the Recent Applications list................................................117
Using the Run item .............................................................................118
Accessing printers and faxes ............................................................119
Working with your network...............................................................121
Configuring the Start menu ...............................................................122
Handling the Taskbar...................................................................................123
Switching programs ...........................................................................123
Controlling the notification area ......................................................124
Adding Quick Launch icons ..............................................................125
Configuring the taskbar .....................................................................126
Terminating a Program with Prejudice......................................................127
Formatting a Floppy Disk ............................................................................128
Chapter 4: Customizing Windows XP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
Personalizing Your Desktop........................................................................132
Changing the background .................................................................132
Using themes.......................................................................................133
Changing system sounds...................................................................134
Switching Views and Sorting Items............................................................135
Adjusting toolbars..............................................................................137
Using the Explorer bar.......................................................................138
And don’t forget the Folders view! ...................................................140
What’s This Stuff in the My Documents Folder? ......................................141
Share the Documents...................................................................................143
Using Favorites .............................................................................................143
Adding a favorite ................................................................................144
Organizing favorites ...........................................................................144
Creating a Shortcut ......................................................................................145
Multiuser Operation ....................................................................................146
Logging in ............................................................................................147
Be my guest.........................................................................................148
Fax Me, Please ..............................................................................................149
Setting up faxing under Windows XP...............................................149
Sending and receiving faxes..............................................................151
Doing the Multimedia Thing .......................................................................152
Playing your MP3 files .......................................................................153
Viewing and downloading digital photographs..............................154
Recording your own CDs ...................................................................156
Watching a DVD movie ......................................................................158
Chapter 5: Maintaining the XP Beast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .161
Device Manager: The Hardware Tool.........................................................161
Checking Your Hard Drives in Windows XP..............................................164
Defragmenting Just Plain Rocks .................................................................167
Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff......................................................................170
Safeguarding Your System with System Restore......................................174
Have At Thee, Foul Virus!............................................................................177
Table of Contents
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Windows XP Boot and Recovery Options.................................................178
Using Safe mode .................................................................................179
Using the Last Good Configuration ..................................................179
Using ASR ............................................................................................180
Using Windows Update ...............................................................................181
The fully automatic way ....................................................................181
The (somewhat) manual way ...........................................................182
Chapter 6: Taking Control of the Control Panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .185
But First, Put the Control Panel on the Start Menu! ................................186
Configuring the Date and Time...................................................................188
The Time Zone tab .............................................................................188
The Internet Time tab ........................................................................188
Changing Display Settings...........................................................................189
The Themes tab..................................................................................189
The Desktop tab .................................................................................190
The Screen Saver tab .........................................................................190
The Appearance tab...........................................................................191
The Settings tab..................................................................................192
Scheduling Tasks..........................................................................................193
Adjusting the Power Options......................................................................195
The Power Schemes tab ....................................................................196
The Advanced tab ..............................................................................197
The Hibernate tab ..............................................................................197
The UPS tab.........................................................................................197
Tweaking the Keyboard...............................................................................198
The Speed tab .....................................................................................198
The Hardware tab...............................................................................199
Adjusting Thy Mouse...................................................................................199
Configuring Internet Properties .................................................................200
The General tab ..................................................................................201
The Security tab .................................................................................202
The Privacy tab...................................................................................202
The Content tab..................................................................................203
The Connections tab..........................................................................204
The Programs tab ...............................................................................205
The Advanced tab ..............................................................................206
Adding or Removing Programs ..................................................................206
Fine-Tuning User Accounts .........................................................................208
Configuring Phone and Modem Options ...................................................210
The Dialing Rules tab .........................................................................210
The Modems tab.................................................................................211
The Advanced tab ..............................................................................211
Chapter 7: Easy XP Troubleshooting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .213
Relax and Breathe Easy ...............................................................................213
The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step.............................................215
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Drastic Things That You Won’t Do Often ..................................................221
Using Automated System Recovery.................................................221
Re-installing Windows XP..................................................................222
HELP! Additional Troubleshooting Resources .........................................223
The Windows XP Help system ..........................................................224
Microsoft tech support......................................................................224
The Microsoft Web site......................................................................225
Those unsupported newsgroups .....................................................225
Book III: The Internet ................................................227
Chapter 1: Making Sense of the Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229
Exactly What Is the Internet, Anyway?......................................................229
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection.........................231
Exploring the potential of the Web ..................................................231
Communicating via e-mail .................................................................233
File transferring via FTP ....................................................................234
Communicating with instant messaging .........................................235
Reading newsgroups ..........................................................................235
Using Web cams and Web videoconferencing ................................237
Understanding Internet Connections ........................................................238
Dialup connections ............................................................................238
ISDN connections ...............................................................................238
DSL connections .................................................................................239
Cable modem connections................................................................239
Satellite connections..........................................................................240
So What Exactly Do I Need? ........................................................................241
Chapter 2: Adding a Dialup Connection to Windows XP . . . . . . . . . .243
Gathering the Incantations .........................................................................243
Making the Physical Connection................................................................244
Creating a New Connection in Windows XP .............................................245
Is My Connection Alive? ..............................................................................249
My Connection Appears to Be Dead..........................................................249
Chapter 3: Protecting Your Internet Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .251
So What Can Really Happen?......................................................................251
Common Sense Goes a Long Way ..............................................................253
Passwords ...........................................................................................253
Risky behavior ....................................................................................254
E-mail....................................................................................................256
Your Friend, the Firewall .............................................................................257
Using the built-in XP firewall.............................................................259
Commercial firewall alternatives......................................................260
Using Antivirus Software.............................................................................261
Table of Contents
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Chapter 4: Cruising the Web with Internet Explorer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .263
Running Internet Explorer...........................................................................263
The Explorer Window and Basic Controls ................................................264
More buttons for your buck..............................................................266
Finding a home page ..........................................................................268
Navigating the Web ......................................................................................269
Simplifying surfing with Favorites....................................................269
Searching for the hay in the needlestack ........................................271
Downloading Files ........................................................................................273
Keeping Track of Where You’ve Been........................................................276
Printing and Saving Web Pages ..................................................................277
Putting the Web in print ....................................................................277
Saving the best (for last) ...................................................................278
Chapter 5: Harnessing Your E-Mail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .281
Introducing the Outlook Express Window ................................................282
Setting Up Your Mailbox..............................................................................285
The Three R’s: Receiving, Reading, and Replying ....................................288
Sending E-Mail to Friends and Enemies ....................................................291
Sending and Receiving File Attachments ..................................................294
Spam: I Hate It! Truly I Do!...........................................................................296
Working with the Address Book.................................................................298
“Hey, Who Are You Now?” ...........................................................................301
Chapter 6: Instant Messaging Done Right . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .303
Selecting a Chat Client.................................................................................303
AIM .......................................................................................................304
ICQ........................................................................................................305
Running Windows Messenger.....................................................................306
Configuring Windows Messenger...............................................................307
Keeping Track of Friends and Family ........................................................309
Chatting with Your Brethren.......................................................................311
Selecting a Status .........................................................................................314
Squelching the Unwelcome Few.................................................................315
Book IV: Microsoft Works...........................................317
Chapter 1: An Overview of Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .319
What Can I Do with Works?.........................................................................319
Word processing.................................................................................320
Spreadsheets.......................................................................................321
Calendar...............................................................................................322
To Dos ..................................................................................................322
Databases ............................................................................................324
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Introducing the Task Launcher ..................................................................325
Displaying Help within Works.....................................................................326
Chapter 2: Word Processing in Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .329
Running the Word Processor......................................................................329
Your Word Processing Tools.......................................................................330
Typing Text ...................................................................................................331
Selecting and Editing Text...........................................................................332
Finding and Replacing Stuff ........................................................................333
Formatting Fonts and Paragraphs .............................................................335
Formatting Bullets and Numbered Lists ...................................................337
Adding Graphics...........................................................................................338
Adding Tables ...............................................................................................340
Checking Your Spelling................................................................................341
Printing Your Documents ............................................................................342
Chapter 3: Working with Spreadsheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .345
Running the Spreadsheet ............................................................................345
Introducing the Spreadsheet Window .......................................................346
A Word about Works Spreadsheets ...........................................................347
Navigating the Spreadsheet and Entering Data........................................348
Selecting and Editing Cells..........................................................................349
Formatting a Cell, Row, or Column ............................................................350
Choosing a number format ...............................................................351
Changing cell alignment ....................................................................351
Changing the text formatting ............................................................352
Formatting the borders .....................................................................352
Choosing shading options.................................................................353
Inserting and Deleting Rows and Columns ...............................................354
Using Easy Calc ............................................................................................354
Adding a Chart..............................................................................................357
Printing Your Documents ............................................................................358
Chapter 4: Using the Works Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .361
Checking Out the Calendar .........................................................................362
Selecting a Calendar View ...........................................................................363
Adding and Editing Appointments.............................................................365
Searching for Specific Appointments ........................................................367
Filtering Appointments................................................................................368
Exporting Appointments .............................................................................369
Printing Appointments ................................................................................371
Chapter 5: Having Fun with Works Database . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .373
Getting Started with Works Database........................................................374
Whoops! What’s this dialog box mean?...........................................374
Elements of the Works Database window .......................................374
Table of Contents
xvii
Creating a Database and Entering Data.....................................................376
Editing a Database .......................................................................................380
Sorting and Searching for Specific Records..............................................380
Building Reports...........................................................................................381
Printing Database Documents ....................................................................384
Book V: Office XP......................................................385
Chapter 1: Introducing Office XP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .387
The Components of Office XP ....................................................................387
Word .....................................................................................................388
Excel .....................................................................................................390
PowerPoint..........................................................................................391
Access ..................................................................................................392
Outlook ................................................................................................394
Putting the Office Clipboard to Work ........................................................396
Using the Office Help System .....................................................................397
Displaying the Help system...............................................................397
The three tabs of justice....................................................................398
That silly paper clip, Clippit .............................................................398
Chapter 2: Using Word . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .399
Running Word ...............................................................................................400
The Elements of Word .................................................................................400
A Word about the Views ..............................................................................403
Normal view ........................................................................................403
Outline view ........................................................................................403
Print Layout view ...............................................................................404
Web Layout view ................................................................................404
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text............................................................405
Typing like the wind...........................................................................405
Selecting what you will ......................................................................406
Editing text in Word............................................................................407
Finding and Replacing Stuff ........................................................................408
Building Tables .............................................................................................410
Adding Bulleted and Numbered Lists........................................................412
Adjusting Tabs and Margins .......................................................................413
Setting margins with the ruler ..........................................................413
Setting margins from the menu ........................................................414
Setting tabs with the ruler.................................................................415
Setting tabs from the menu ...............................................................415
Applying Formatting ....................................................................................416
Font formatting ...................................................................................417
Paragraph formatting.........................................................................418
Using AutoFormat ..............................................................................419
Adding Graphics...........................................................................................421
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Doing the Collaboration Thing ...................................................................423
Using revision marks..........................................................................423
Using Comments.................................................................................424
Using highlighting...............................................................................425
Printing Your Document..............................................................................425
Creating Web Pages with Word...................................................................426
Chapter 3: Putting Excel to Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .429
Running Excel ...............................................................................................430
Waltzing Around the Excel Window...........................................................430
Selecting, Entering, and Editing Cell Data .................................................432
Filling a cell to the top .......................................................................432
Moving around the worksheet..........................................................433
Selecting cells the easy way..............................................................433
Editing cell contents ..........................................................................434
Working with Numbers and Dates .............................................................435
Working with Rows and Columns ..............................................................437
Resizing rows and columns...............................................................437
Inserting blank cells ...........................................................................438
Inserting cells from the Clipboard ...................................................439
Inserting rows and columns..............................................................439
Formatting in Excel ......................................................................................440
Font formatting ...................................................................................440
Cell alignment .....................................................................................441
Changing borders and shading.........................................................441
The Basics of Excel Formulas .....................................................................442
Working with Graphics in Excel .................................................................446
Adding a Chart..............................................................................................447
Linking Cells..................................................................................................450
Adding Headers and Footers ......................................................................451
Printing Your Worksheets ...........................................................................452
Chapter 4: Performing with PowerPoint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .455
Getting Your Bearings in PowerPoint ........................................................455
Changing Views ............................................................................................458
Normal view ........................................................................................458
Slide Sorter view.................................................................................458
Notes Page view..................................................................................459
Slide Show view ..................................................................................459
Creating Slides ..............................................................................................460
Inserting slides....................................................................................461
Inserting a document .........................................................................462
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text............................................................462
Adding text ..........................................................................................463
Moving within text fields ...................................................................463
Selecting text and objects .................................................................464
Editing text ..........................................................................................465
Moving slide elements .......................................................................465
Table of Contents
xix
Installing Graphics in Your Slides ..............................................................466
Applying Templates and Schemes .............................................................467
Entering Notes ..............................................................................................470
Using Movies and Sound .............................................................................471
Building and Running a Slide Show............................................................472
Making a Transition ’twixt Slides ...............................................................475
Using Pack and Go .......................................................................................476
Printing Your Document..............................................................................479
Chapter 5: Doing Database Magic with Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .481
Running Access ............................................................................................482
A Quick Tour of the Access Window .........................................................482
Creating Tables with the Wizard ................................................................484
Creating a Form with the Wizard ...............................................................488
Entering and Editing Fields Manually ........................................................493
Using Queries................................................................................................494
Using Access Templates..............................................................................496
Printing Your Data........................................................................................496
Chapter 6: Staying in Touch with Outlook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .499
Running Outlook ..........................................................................................500
Elements of the Outlook Window...............................................................500
Configuring Your Mail Account ..................................................................502
Reading and Replying to E-Mail..................................................................505
Composing and Sending Messages ............................................................508
Using File Attachments................................................................................510
Keeping Track of Your Contacts.................................................................512
Entering a contact ..............................................................................513
Editing a contact.................................................................................515
Using the Outlook Calendar........................................................................515
Creating an appointment...................................................................516
Displaying appointments in Outlook Today ...................................518
Printing within Outlook ...............................................................................519
Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos..............523
Chapter 1: Scanning with Gusto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .525
What Happens Inside a Scanner? ...............................................................525
Your Friend, the Flatbed..............................................................................527
Popular Scanner Features ...........................................................................529
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro ..........................................................530
Acquiring the image ...........................................................................530
Rotating and cropping images ..........................................................535
Converting and saving the image .....................................................537
Scanning Do’s and Don’ts............................................................................539
Those Irritating (Or Invaluable) Copyrights.............................................540
Adding a Copyright Line..............................................................................541
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 2: Dude, MP3 Rocks! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .545
An MP3 Primer..............................................................................................546
Ripping Your Own MP3 Files.......................................................................547
Listening to Your Stuff .................................................................................550
Downloading to an MP3 Player ..................................................................552
Using Other Sound Formats........................................................................553
WAV format..........................................................................................554
WMA format ........................................................................................554
AU format ............................................................................................554
AIFF format ..........................................................................................554
MIDI format .........................................................................................555
Burning Audio CDs from MP3 Files ............................................................555
Chapter 3: Making Movies with Your PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .559
Getting the Lowdown on ArcSoft’s ShowBiz.............................................559
Rounding Up Clips and Images...................................................................561
Building Your First Movie............................................................................563
Adding Transitions without Breaking a Sweat .........................................566
Adding Special Effects without Paying George Lucas .............................568
Adding Sound ...............................................................................................570
You’ve Just Gotta Have Titles! ....................................................................571
Previewing Your Oscar-Winning Work.......................................................573
Saving and Burning Before Traveling to Cannes ......................................574
Creating a digital video file on your hard drive..............................574
Recording your own CD or DVD .......................................................576
Chapter 4: I Can Make My Own DVDs? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .579
Welcome to MyDVD .....................................................................................580
Menus ’R Easy!..............................................................................................582
Changing the Look of Your Menus .............................................................589
Trimming Movies with Panache.................................................................591
Time to Preview............................................................................................594
Burning Your DVD and Celebrating Afterwards .......................................596
Chapter 5: I’m Okay, You’re a Digital Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .599
How Does a Digital Camera Work? .............................................................600
The Pros and Cons of Digital Photography...............................................602
Digital Camera Extras to Covet ..................................................................605
External card readers.........................................................................605
Rechargeable batteries ......................................................................606
Lenses ..................................................................................................606
Tripods ................................................................................................607
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs.................................607
The Rule of Thirds..............................................................................608
The Rule of Asymmetry .....................................................................608
Using lighting creatively ....................................................................610
Organizing Your Pictures.............................................................................612
Downloading Your Images...........................................................................613
Table of Contents
xxi
Book VII: Upgrading and Supercharging .....................617
Chapter 1: Determining What to Upgrade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .619
Making Performance Upgrades: CPU, Motherboard,
and Memory ..............................................................................................620
Upgrading your CPU and motherboard...........................................620
Adding memory ..................................................................................621
Expansion Upgrades: USB 2.0 and FireWire..............................................621
Making Storage Upgrades: Internal and External Drives ........................622
Adding a hard drive............................................................................623
Adding a recorder or a tape drive ....................................................623
Making Sound and Video Upgrades: Sound and Video Cards ................624
Sound cards on parade......................................................................625
Deciding which video card is right for you.....................................625
Chapter 2: Adding RAM to Your Hot Rod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .627
Figuring Out What Type of Memory You Need.........................................627
RDRAM.................................................................................................628
DDR.......................................................................................................628
SDRAM .................................................................................................628
EDO.......................................................................................................628
Deciding How Much RAM Is Enough .........................................................629
Installing Extra RAM ....................................................................................630
Chapter 3: Scotty, I Need More Power! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .633
Hey, Do I Need to Do This?..........................................................................633
Selecting a New Motherboard ....................................................................635
Installing a Motherboard and CPU.............................................................635
Installing an Athlon XP or Pentium 4 CPU.......................................636
Installing your motherboard.............................................................638
Chapter 4: Adding Hard Drive Territory to Your System . . . . . . . . . . .641
The Tale of Virtual Memory ........................................................................641
Recognizing a Well-Dressed Hard Drive ....................................................643
Size definitely does matter................................................................643
How fast is your access? ...................................................................644
What does rpm have to do with hard drives? ................................644
Internal versus External Storage ................................................................644
Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive ........................................................646
Chapter 5: Partying with USB, FireWire, and Hubs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .651
Comparing USB Ports ..................................................................................651
I Vote for FireWire ........................................................................................653
Or Do You Just Need a Hub? .......................................................................653
Installing a Port Card ...................................................................................654
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Chapter 6: Pumping Up Your Sound and Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .657
Sound Card Features to Covet....................................................................657
3-D spatial imaging .............................................................................657
Surround sound support ...................................................................658
MP3 hardware support ......................................................................659
Game and FireWire ports...................................................................659
MIDI ports............................................................................................659
Shopping for a Monster Graphics Card.....................................................660
Pray, what slot do you need? ............................................................660
Exploring the differences between chipsets...................................661
Other video card features that you’ll want .....................................662
Installing Sound and Video Cards ..............................................................663
Book VIII: Home Networking......................................665
Chapter 1: Do I Really Need a Network? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .667
Discovering the Advantages of a Network................................................667
File transfer .........................................................................................667
Sharing that there Internet................................................................668
One word: Games! ..............................................................................669
Shared documents and applications ...............................................670
What Can I Connect To? ..............................................................................670
What Hardware Do I Need? .........................................................................671
What Software Do I Need?...........................................................................672
To Network or Not to Network . . . .............................................................672
Chapter 2: Ethernet to the Rescue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .675
A Quickie Ethernet Primer ..........................................................................675
Hardware That You’ll Need .........................................................................677
Cables...................................................................................................677
Hubs .....................................................................................................679
NICs ......................................................................................................679
Switches...............................................................................................680
Heck, let’s buy a kit! ...........................................................................680
Doing the Cable Dance ................................................................................680
Configuring Windows XP for Your Network..............................................681
Ah, sweet DHCP ..................................................................................682
Browsing the neighborhood .............................................................686
Sharing folders and documents........................................................688
Printing Across the Network ......................................................................689
Using a Standard Hub with a Cable or DSL Modem.................................693
Troubleshooting Your Network..................................................................693
Windows XP doesn’t recognize my NIC...........................................694
No lights show up on my network card(s) or hub .........................694
Nothing shows up when I browse ....................................................695
I can’t connect (or print) to a shared printer .................................695
Table of Contents
xxiii
Chapter 3: Going Wireless . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .697
Understanding Wireless Networking .........................................................697
How does wireless compare with wired? ........................................698
The standards involved .....................................................................699
AC and phone line networking .........................................................703
Ensuring Security on Your Wireless Network...........................................704
Using Wireless Hardware in Windows XP .................................................706
Preparing to install.............................................................................706
Installation tricks................................................................................706
Making the connection ......................................................................708
Chapter 4: Sharing Your Internet Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .711
Why Share Your Internet Connection? ......................................................711
Sharing through Software in Windows XP ................................................712
Sharing through Hardware..........................................................................714
Wired sharing devices .......................................................................715
Wireless sharing devices ...................................................................718
Why You Need NAT ......................................................................................720
The Magic of Virtual Private Networking..................................................721
Index........................................................................725
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Introduction
W
hat’s the definition of a reference book? Well, I like to think of this
book as a snapshot. Sure, it’s a very heavy photograph, weighing in
at over 700 pages — but nevertheless, it captures the current state of
today’s PCs, including hardware, the most popular applications, and of
course, the latest and greatest incarnation of the Windows operating system
that we all cherish (in this case, Windows XP Home and Professional).
That covers a lot of ground, especially when you consider how the PC has
branched out into all sorts of new directions in the last few years. What
used to be primarily a simple word processing platform in the early days of
DOS has now become a hub for digital video and CD-quality audio, an optical recording center, an Internet communications system, a digital darkroom, a 3-D gaming console, an office productivity center . . . the list goes on
and on. Therefore, fitting the features and functionality of today’s PCs into a
single volume was a challenge for me — and it proved singularly rewarding
as well because PCs are both my career and my favorite hobby!
With that comprehensive approach in mind, this book still holds true to the
For Dummies format: step-by-step instructions on each major feature within
Windows XP, Microsoft Office, and other popular PC applications, with a
little personal opinion, my recommendations, and my attempts at humor
mixed in to add spice. I take the time to explain each topic for those who
have just entered the PC universe, but you’ll uncover plenty of advanced
information as well. With this book in hand, you can set up a wireless network, navigate an Excel spreadsheet, diagnose hardware problems, and
even work magic with your digital camera.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy this book and that it will help open up the
countless possibilities offered by your PC. Thanks to the efforts of all those
software developers, engineers, and hardware manufacturers, you and I get
to play!
What’s Really Required
Here’s a short section for you — you need a PC, preferably running
Windows XP.
(I told you it was short.)
2
What’s Not Required
What’s Not Required
If you’ve read any of my earlier books, you already know the score. But just
in case you haven’t (hint, hint), here’s the list of what you won’t be needing:
✦ A degree in computer science: Computers are supposed to be easy. I
like ’em that way, and I get very testy when faced with anyone who tries
to make a PC artificially complex. ’Nuff said.
✦ All sorts of expensive software: Because Microsoft Office is so doggone
popular, it’s included here — but virtually everything else is either
included in Windows XP or is cheap to get.
✦ An Internet connection: Some folks should be reminded that PCs are
quite productive by themselves. Naturally, you need an Internet connection to use Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, but you don’t have
to be online to enjoy your computer.
About This Book
Each of the eight mini-books in this Desk Reference squarely addresses a specific topic, and there’s no need to read this whole book in a linear fashion. You
certainly can, if you like, but it’s not necessary. Instead, each mini-book (and
on a lower level, each individual chapter) has been designed to be self contained. You can jump from chapter to chapter, pursuing information on what
you’re working on right now — and happy in the knowledge that when you do
decide to invest in a digital camera (or a scanner or a memory upgrade), it’s
covered!
Conventions Used in This Book
Like other For Dummies books, this volume uses a helpful set of conventions
to indicate what needs to be done or what you’ll see onscreen.
Stuff that you type
When I ask you to type something, like a command or an entry in a text box,
the text appears like this:
Type me
Press the Return key to process the entry.
How This Book Is Organized
3
Menu commands
When I give you a specific set of menu commands to use, they appear in the
following format:
Edit➪Copy
In this example, you should click the Edit menu and then choose the Copy
menu item.
Display messages
If I mention a specific message that you see on your screen, it looks like this
on the page:
This is a message displayed by an application.
How This Book Is Organized
Time for a quick summary of what’s included in those eight mini-books
(with cross references where appropriate, included at great expense).
Book I: PC Hardware
It’s not a PC without the hardware. In this mini-book, I discuss both the
standard equipment (like your monitor, keyboard, and mouse) and optional
things that you can attach (like a scanner or a game controller). I also cover
the different ports on your PC and the proper methods of maintaining your
PC hardware.
Book II: Windows XP
A mini-book for the XP generation — with everything that you need to know
about today’s most popular PC operating system, including the basics,
advanced customizing topics, the included applications, maintenance, and
(insert ominous chord here) . . . troubleshooting.
Book III: The Internet
The obligatory Internet stuff fills this mini-book. Discover how to navigate
the Web, block that infernal spam from your e-mail, fritter away countless
hours with instant messaging, and — most important — keep yourself
secure while you’re online.
4
Icons Used in This Book
Book IV: Microsoft Works
Most people call Works “the programs I got with my PC.” But as you discover in this mini-book, there’s no shortage of features or functionality
within Works (even though it’s usually overshadowed by the behemoth
that is Microsoft Office). You’ll find out how to use each of the Works
applications and how to use them in tandem to accomplish tasks.
Book V: Office XP
Okay, so I decided to cover the behemoth as well. Microsoft Office comprises Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook — and the gang’s all
here, with each application covered in a separate chapter. If you use Office,
you’ll treasure this mini-book — if not, you’ll still enjoy it as a spellbinding
work of nonfiction. (Sure, Mark.)
Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos
Your PC is now a digital, multimedia production center — and a great combination for watching video and listening to music, to boot. In this mini-book,
I show you the latest cutting-edge fun that you can have with your DV camcorder, your MP3 player, and your digital camera . . . wait until you show
your home movies on DVD!
Book VII: Upgrading and Supercharging
The gloves come off in this mini-book: If you’re hankering to turn the corner
and become a PC power user, use these chapters to help you upgrade your
PC’s hardware, including your system RAM, your CPU and motherboard,
your graphics card, and even external connections like USB 2.0 and
FireWire. “To the Batcave!”
Book VIII: Home Networking
The final mini-book is devoted to one of the fastest-growing segments of
the PC population — those folks who are adding a home (or small office)
network. In these chapters, I demonstrate how to install your own wired network as well as how to expand with the latest wireless technology. Then I
turn your attention to security so that you can use your network without
fear of intrusion.
Icons Used in This Book
In a book stuffed to the gills with icons, my editors have decided to use —
you guessed it — more icons. Luckily, however, the book’s icon set acts as
visual signposts for specific stuff that you don’t want to miss.
Icons Used in This Book
5
A Tip icon points to a sentence or two that might save you time, trouble,
and quite possibly cash as well.
Consider these tidbits completely optional, but if you’re captivated by
things technical — as I am — you’ll find trivia of interest here. (A good feature for those who enjoy cutaway drawings of the Titanic and those who
actually know what JPEG means.)
Speaking of the Titanic, always read the information next to this icon first!
Your PC is usually a very safe harbor, but icebergs can appear from time to
time if you’re not careful.
As you might expect from its name, this icon highlights stuff that you might
want to, well, remember.
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PCs All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Book I
PC Hardware
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Starting with the Basics ......................................................................................9
Chapter 2: Additional Toys Your PC Will Enjoy ................................................................23
Chapter 3: Connectors, Ports, and Sundry Openings ........................................................41
Chapter 4: Maintaining Your Hardware ..............................................................................49
Chapter 1: Starting with the Basics
In This Chapter
Defining hardware, software, and peripherals
Identifying the common components of all PCs
Comparing laptop and desktop PCs
Understanding RAM and your PC’s CPU
Defining the operating system
I
f your name is Hemingway or Faulkner or King, the first chapter is always
the toughest to write. For me, however, this chapter will be fun to write
because it tackles the basic questions, such as what components make up
your PC and why you need an operating system. You’ll discover more about
the specific parts of your PC that determine how fast it is, and I also discuss
the pros and cons of choosing a laptop over a desktop PC.
If you’re a hardware technician or a PC power user, you might decide to
eschew these basic concepts and move on . . . and that’s okay. But if you’re
new to the world of IBM personal computers or you’re going to buy your
first PC, this chapter is a great place to start. In fact, you’d be amazed by
how many folks I talk to who have owned a PC for a year or two and still
don’t know some of the terms that you’ll read here!
Here’s the first Mark’s Maxim for this book:
It takes a solid foundation to build a power user.
So read on!
Defining Basic Terms
My high school chemistry teacher, a learned man whom I have always
admired (even then), always told us, “Never jump into anything before defining your terms.” (Thanks, Mr. Owen. Because of you, I succeeded in not
blowing myself to pieces!)
10
Defining Basic Terms
Before you venture farther, commit these terms to memory, and you’ll have
taken a giant first step toward becoming a PC power user.
There’s no reason to walk around with this stuff tattooed on your arm; you
certainly don’t need to know these technicalities just to check your e-mail
or use Microsoft Word. However, when you grow more knowledgeable about
Windows and your PC, you’ll find that these terms crop up in your computer
conversations more and more often.
Hardware
In the PC world, hardware is any piece of circuitry or any component of your
computer that has a physical structure. For example, your computer’s monitor is a piece of hardware, as is your PC’s floppy disk drive. Even those components that you normally can’t see or touch — the ones that are buried
inside your case — are considered hardware, too, like your PC’s motherboard and power supply. (And yes, your computer’s case is technically a
piece of hardware as well, although it’s not electrical.)
Figure 1-1 illustrates a common piece of hardware — in this case, a video
card with an Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) connector.
Figure 1-1:
Hardware
like this
video card
is, well,
hard.
Defining Basic Terms
11
Software
When you hear folks discussing a software upgrade, patch, or update, they’re
talking about (you guessed it) yet another piece of software! However, the
upgrade/patch/update program isn’t designed to be run more than once;
rather, its job is to apply the latest features, bug fixes, and data files to a
piece of software that’s already installed and running on your PC, updating
it to a new version. (Virtually all software developers refer to successive versions of their software, such as Version 1.5 or Version 3; the later the version,
the more features that the software includes.)
Typically, think of software as an application that you buy or download,
such as Microsoft Works or Windows Media Player (see Figure 1-2).
However, the term software actually applies to any program, including
Windows itself and the driver programs that accompany the hardware that
you buy. Unfortunately, computer viruses are software as well.
Figure 1-2:
Listen to the
latest MP3s
with
software
from
Microsoft.
Starting with the
Basics
The other side of the PC coin is the software that you use. Software refers to
any program that you run, whether it resides on your hard drive, a floppy
disk, a CD-ROM, or somewhere on a network.
Book I
Chapter 1
12
Defining Basic Terms
And software might be cheap!
You’ll probably encounter two other types of
“ware”: freeware and shareware. Freeware is
a program that’s either been released into the
public domain — in which case the author generally releases the programming code needed
to modify it or maintains the rights to it — but
you can still use it for free.
Shareware, on the other hand, is not free: You
get to try it before you buy it; if you like it, you
send your payment directly to the author.
Because there’s no middleperson (you won’t
catch me using a sexist term) and you’re not
paying for an expensive box or advertising,
shareware is usually far cheaper than a similar
commercial program.
Before using freeware or shareware, check to
make sure that the author offers regular
updates. When you work for peanuts, you’re not
going to be able to afford a Quality Assurance
Department or comprehensive beta testing!
From time to time, you might see the word firmware in a magazine or on a
hardware manufacturer’s Web site. This sounds like a strange beast, but I
can explain: Firmware is the software instructions that you find stored in
the internal memory or the internal brain of a piece of hardware, so it’s not
quite software, and it’s not quite hardware. For example, your CD or DVD
recorder has a firmware chip inside that controls the mundane tasks
required to burn a disc. Generally, you won’t have to fool with firmware,
but a manufacturer might release a firmware upgrade to fix bugs that have
cropped up with a piece of hardware (or even add new features). To upgrade
firmware, you run a software utility program supplied by the manufacturer.
Peripherals
Peripherals comprise things that reside outside your PC’s case, which can
include all sorts of optional hardware. Examples include
✦ Printers
✦ External CD recorders (such as the model shown in Figure 1-3) and hard
drives
✦ Web cams
✦ Graphics tablets
✦ Joysticks and other game controllers
✦ Network hardware such as Internet-sharing devices
✦ Scanners and digital cameras
The Common Components of a Desktop PC
13
Peripherals connect to your computer via the ports that are built into the
back (and often the front) of your PC. I go into more detail on ports in
Chapter 3 of this mini-book; any PC power user worthy of the name will be
able to identify any common port on a computer on sight. (If you’re a hardware technician, you can identify them in the dark, like how a soldier knows
his weapon. Don’t ask me why — I’m not at liberty to discuss it.)
Figure 1-3:
This
particular
CD
recording
peripheral
enjoys
sunshine
and clean
air.
The Common Components of a Desktop PC
“Aw, crikey . . . look what we have here, mates! This little beaut is a PC —
step back now, mind ya, for if one of these digital guys goes bonkers, it’ll
spread itself all over yer bloomin’ desktop!”
Although a PC is hardly a crocodile, your system can grow like one — and it
can become just as unwieldy and tough to move. Turn your attention to the
components that you’ll find equipped on just about any PC that you buy (or
assemble) these days.
Book I
Chapter 1
Starting with the
Basics
I should point out that three pieces of external hardware that are found on
every PC — your monitor, keyboard, and your mouse (or trackball or touchpad) — are generally not considered peripherals because they’re required to
operate your PC. Call ’em hardware instead.
14
The Common Components of a Desktop PC
The computer
The computer itself is housed in a case, which protects all the internal parts
from damage. (Unfortunately, dust will still find its way inside, which is why
I recommend that you remove the case at least once a year and blow all that
dust out by using a can of compressed air.)
Techs refer to your PC by any of the following names:
✦ Box.
✦ CPU. (You’ll meet your PC’s actual CPU — which is a single integrated
chip — later in this chapter.)
✦ Chassis.
✦ $*Q(#*$*!%. (Reserved for special occasions.)
Consider thy form factor
Not all PCs are created equal; several different form factors are available.
(Geez, yet another two-dollar word for a fifty-cent concept.) A form factor
determines the height and “spread” of your computer, depending on the
case. (In the original days of the IBM PC, all computer cases were designed
to straddle your desk, parallel to the floor; however, folks soon realized that
a PC takes up far less room if it stands vertically.)
Your desktop PC’s case can look like any of the following:
✦ The standard tower machine: Because a tower case (see one in Figure
1-4) gives you the largest number of expansion bays and room for multiple fans, they’re the case favored by PC power users and network
administrators. Tower cases are often placed on the floor because they
are sometimes too tall for your computer desk.
✦ The mini-tower machine: The standard case offered with most PCs, the
mini-tower is simply a shorter version of a tower case. The mini-tower is
suitable for home and standard office workstation use.
✦ The lunchbox and pizza box machines: These are the smallest PC
cases of all, built for those areas where space is at a premium (or you
know ahead of time that expansion won’t be required in the future).
These machines are often used in larger corporate offices, hospitals,
banks, and the like. Figure 1-5 shows a pizza box case, which sits flat on
your desktop rather than standing upright.
The Common Components of a Desktop PC
15
Book I
Chapter 1
3 1/2-inch floppy bays
Figure 1-4:
No tower in
Middle
Earth can
compete
with the
tower PC
case!
Power, turbo, and reset buttons
Keylock
Figure 1-5:
It’s a lean,
mean, pizza
box
machine.
3 1/2-inch floppy drive bay
Turbo, power, and reset buttons
Custom colors are great (for a while, anyway)
You might be interested in buying a PC with a special color scheme.
Typically, these machines are black or brushed aluminum, but I’ve seen
Starting with the
Basics
5 1/4-inch half-height bays
16
The Common Components of a Desktop PC
them in every color of the rainbow as well. (I particularly fancy the neon
green and Florida orange.)
Personally, I think these works of art are fun, but I will caution you up front:
Finding a neon green CD-ROM drive in any store — online or otherwise —
is more difficult than getting a teenage girl off the telephone. Therefore, you
might find it difficult to maintain that exotic color scheme when you start
upgrading your hardware because most of the civilized world uses PCs that
are off-white or beige. Black computers are the easiest to match because
black is the second-most popular color.
Of course, if you’re a Macintosh owner, all bets are off . . . but that’s another
book entirely.
The monitor
Today’s monitors come in two different varieties:
✦ The traditional CRT monitor: The cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor
is big, brassy, and less expensive to buy than a liquid crystal display
(LCD) monitor, but it uses more electricity, gets hot while you use it,
and emits all sorts of radiation. (Nothing harmful, mind you, but it’s
there all the same.) Because CRT monitors use older technology that’s
similar to a TV set, they’re bulky, but they’re also significantly cheaper
than an LCD monitor, especially at larger screen sizes such as 19" and
21". Most CRT monitors are flat-screen models; older designs with
curved screens tended to distort the image that you see.
✦ The LCD monitor: LCD monitors — also called flat-panel monitors —
share the same technology as laptop computer screens, so they’re very
thin and use much, much less electricity than a CRT monitor. (Many are
even designed to hang on the wall.) LCD screens emit neither heat nor
radiation. In fact, the only downside to an LCD monitor is the price.
Either type of monitor is fine for a home or office environment, but (naturally) I recommend an LCD monitor if you can afford one. The larger the
monitor size, the easier it’s likely to be on your eyes, and the more windows
and documents that you can stuff on your desktop at once.
The keyboard and mouse
Keyboards are rather mundane. Virtually all today’s models have the
Windows-specific keys that will help any PC power user — but I still have a
suggestion or two:
The Common Components of a Desktop PC
17
Figure 1-6:
Ergonomic
keyboards
are user
friendly.
✦ Keyboard tasks are easier with one-touch buttons. Many keyboards on
the market today — and most that ship with today’s systems — feature
one-touch keys that you press to automatically display your e-mail program or Web browser, print a document, or mute your computer’s audio.
Even if you don’t use the standard functions for these keys, they can generally be reprogrammed to work with other applications. For example,
I’ve reprogrammed the Print key on my server’s keyboard (which isn’t
connected to a printer) to run my network management application
instead.
On the other side of the coin, most PC power users will eventually find
themselves looking for a different mouse or pointing device; the standard
equipment mouse rarely gets the job done unless you’re buying a more
expensive system that comes with a premium mouse. Mouse-y features
to consider include the following:
✦ Cordless mice: These mice are sans tails: Instead, they use a built-in
infrared (IR) emitter to communicate with a separate base station,
which in turn connects to your PC. The base station often acts as a battery charger when you’re not using your PC. Many folks find these mice
liberating because there’s no tail to drag around and because you can
place the mouse farther away from the computer.
Book I
Chapter 1
Starting with the
Basics
✦ Consider an ergonomic keyboard. That cool, curved appearance that
makes ergonomic keyboards such as the Microsoft Natural Keyboard
Elite stand out in a crowd isn’t just for looks. You’ll find that you can
type longer, faster, and with less strain on your wrists if you use an
ergonomic keyboard, as shown in Figure 1-6.
18
Desktop PCs versus Laptop PCs
✦ Optical operation: Optical mice advantages include no mouse ball to
clean, far fewer moving parts, and better control — no wonder that optical pointing devices are so popular! If you’re still using a mouse with a
ball, jettison it and pick up an optical mouse.
✦ Multiple buttons: Of course, any self-respecting PC mouse has two
buttons, but most of the new offerings include a programmable third
button and a scroll wheel, which you use to scroll the contents of a page
just by turning the wheel with your fingertip. (For example, I have the
middle button programmed as a double-click.)
✦ Trackballs and touchpads: Many tech types swear by these alternatives
to the traditional mouse. To use a trackball, which is kind of like a giant
stationary mouse turned on its back, you move the ball with your
thumb or the tips of your fingers. With a touchpad (like what’s found
on many laptops), you move the tip of your finger across a pressuresensitive pad.
Speakers
Today’s multimedia PCs are just as attractive to an audiophile as a traditional stereo system. If you think that you’re limited to two desktop speakers and a chintzy volume knob, I invite you to contemplate the latest in PC
speaker technology:
✦ Flat-panel speakers: Like LCD screens are to CRT monitors, so are
flat-panel speakers to older PC speakers. Most flat-panel speakers are
less than half of an inch thick yet provide the same power and punch
as their older brethren.
✦ Dolby Surround sound: I get into more detail about high-fidelity PC
audio in Book VII, Chapter 6. For now, suffice it to say that with the right
sound card and multiple speakers, your PC can equal the clarity and
realism of a home theater system. And consider this: What home theater system will let you play the latest 3-D games?
✦ Universal Serial Bus (USB) digital connections: For the ultimate in sound
quality, today’s best digital speakers connect to your system through the
USB port — you can say goodbye to old-fashioned analog forever.
Desktop PCs versus Laptop PCs
“So should I buy a desktop or a laptop PC?” Naturally, if the portability of a
laptop PC is a requirement for you — if your job or your lifestyle demands
plenty of travel every year — you really have no choice but a laptop computer. Luckily, today’s laptops are virtually as powerful as desktop PCs, so
RAM and Processors: The Keys to Performance
19
you no longer have to feel like a second-class citizen, even when it comes
to features such as high-resolution graphics, larger hard drives, and CD/DVD
recording, which used to be very expensive options in the laptop world.
✦ Laptops aren’t as expandable as desktops. Although you can hang
plenty of peripherals off a modern desktop (using USB and FireWire
ports), desktops are just plain easier to expand and upgrade (especially
the processor and your graphics card, which are practically impossible
to swap on a laptop).
✦ Laptops are much more expensive. My friend, you’ll pay dearly for that
portability. So if you don’t need it, jump to the desktop side of the fence.
It’s as simple as that.
✦ Laptops cost much more to repair. If the sound card fails in your desktop,
you can replace it yourself with a new, relatively inexpensive adapter card.
However, if the sound hardware fails in your laptop, it’s time to pull out
your wallet because you can’t fix it yourself, and the entire motherboard
inside the unit will probably need to be replaced. (Remember, part of that
portability stems from the fact that laptop manufacturers tend to put all
the graphics and video hardware on the motherboard to save space.)
Luckily, most of this book will still be valuable to laptop owners. Just ignore
the parts about upgrading the components that you can’t reach.
RAM and Processors: The Keys to Performance
When you hear PC owners talking about the speed and performance of their
computers, they’re typically talking about one of three different components
(or all of these components together, as a group):
✦ Your system memory, or random access memory (RAM): The more
memory that your PC has and the faster that memory is, the better your
PC will perform — especially Windows, which enjoys memory like a hog
enjoys slops. I tell you more about slops — sorry, I mean memory — in
Book VII, Chapter 2.
✦ The central processing unit (CPU): Most of today’s PCs use either an
Intel Pentium 4 or its cheaper and slower cousin, the Celeron. The other
popular processor is the AMD Athlon XP, along with its cheaper and
slower cousin, the Duron. The speed of your processor is measured in
either megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz), with 1 GHz equaling 1000
MHz. The faster the speed of your processor, the faster your PC will perform. (I go into this big-time in Book VII, Chapter 3.)
Starting with the
Basics
However, if you’re sitting on the fence and portability is a lesser requirement,
I generally recommend a desktop system for the following three reasons:
Book I
Chapter 1
20
Your Friend, Your Operating System
✦ The graphics processing unit (GPU): This is the chipset used on your
video card. The better the chipset, the faster and the more realistic 3-D
graphics that your PC can produce. For the skinny on graphics cards,
visit Book VII, Chapter 6.
To display what type of processor your PC uses, its speed, and how much
RAM your PC has, right-click My Computer in Windows 98/2000/Me/XP and
then choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears. You should see
a dialog box appear like the one in Figure 1-7 with these interesting facts.
Figure 1-7:
Display your
System
Properties
in Windows
XP.
Your Friend, Your Operating System
Windows, which is your PC’s operating system, is the program that you run
in order to
✦ Navigate through the files on your hard drive.
✦ Run other programs.
✦ Listen to music, view pictures, or watch movies.
✦ Copy, move, and delete things, and much more.
Actually, Windows is composed of hundreds of smaller programs, but you’ll
rarely notice anything else running. Instead, Windows presents a cohesive
and relatively easy-to-use interface to the world. (The tech word interface
simply means the design of the screen and the controls that you see when
you’re using software.)
Your Friend, Your Operating System
21
I should mention, however, that Windows isn’t the only operating system
that runs on a PC. For example, you can run Unix, Linux, BeOS, OS/2 Warp,
or even good old-fashioned DOS. To be honest, your PC’s hardware couldn’t
care less — but it’s a good bet that the programs that you want to run are
designed for Windows, and much of the hardware in your PC either won’t
work or will be harder to configure if you use another operating system.
Therefore, I heartily suggest that you stick with Windows XP: The various
flavors of Windows are the choice of the vast majority of PC owners.
Book I
Chapter 1
Starting with the
Basics
In this book, when I refer to Windows, I’m talking about Windows XP. In my
opinion, XP is the easiest-to-use and most stable version of Windows that
I’ve ever used, and I heartily recommend that you upgrade to it if your PC
meets the minimum requirements. To see the requirements for both the
Home and Professional versions of Windows XP, visit Microsoft online at
www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/evaluation/default.asp. (Book II is
completely dedicated to Windows XP — there’s another reason to upgrade!)
22
Book I: PC Hardware
Chapter 2: Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
In This Chapter
Comparing printers
Adding a scanner to your system
Upgrading your input devices
Adding a game controller
Introducing digital cameras and digital video (DV) camcorders
Adding new storage to your system
Protecting your PC with a surge protector or an uninterruptible power
supply (UPS)
Y
ou’ve bought your PC — congratulations! — or you’ve decided to
finally turn on that totem pole of a desktop computer that you’ve been
looking at for the last six months. Here’s a friendly warning for you in the
form of a Mark’s Maxim: Serious computing requires serious peripherals.
In other words, those PC owners who are hoping to get the maximum return
and explore the maximum power of their computers will need additional
stuff (peripherals, as you can read in Book I, Chapter 1) that connect to your
PC to take care of a specific job. Printers are a good example; a PC certainly
won’t produce hard copy by itself.
In Chapter 1 of this mini-book, I discuss hardware and software. This chapter
is designed as both a showcase and an introduction to PC peripherals that
will familiarize you with the most popular additional toys for your computer.
Some of these devices are covered in great detail later on — for example,
scanners have all of Book VI, Chapter 1 to themselves — and others are
covered primarily right here.
One warning: This chapter can be hazardous to your wallet or purse.
24
Printers
Printers
The first stop in the world of peripherals is the most common (and most folks
would say the most useful) device of all: the system printer, which allows your
PC to produce hard copies of documents, artwork, and photographs.
Inkjet versus laser printers
In the digital days of yore — in other words, more than five years ago —
making a choice between an inkjet and a laser printer was ridiculously easy.
After all, laser printers were prohibitively expensive, and they couldn’t print
in color. Therefore, every home PC owner picked up an inkjet printer and
got on with his or her life. These days, however, the line between inkjet and
laser printers has blurred, so here’s a list of the advantages of each so that
you can shop with the right type of printer in mind.
Laser printer advantages
Today’s monochrome laser printers start at around $200–$300, which is still
mind-bendingly weird for an old hardware hacker like me who still remembers the days when the absolute cheapest (and likely refurbished) laser
printer that you could find would set you back $1,500–$2,000. Advantages
of the laser printer include
✦ Speed: A laser printer can turn out pages more quickly than an inkjet
printer.
✦ Low cost: Over time, toner costs for a laser printer will total far less per
page than refilling/replacing inkjet printer cartridges.
✦ Quiet operation: A laser printer is generally quieter than low-cost inkjet
printers — which is a big deal in a quiet office, where the printer usually
occupies a central location.
✦ Best quality text: No inkjet printer — no matter how much you pay
for it — will ever turn out black text and line graphics as crisp as a laser
printer.
Also, if you can afford the $1,000 for a color laser printer, you’ll find that it
offers better quality color output than most low-cost inkjet printers. With
these advantages in mind, pick a monochrome laser printer if most of the
pages that you’ll print will be text and if color isn’t a requirement. You’ll
be glad that you chose that laser model after you’ve gone three months
without changing a single toner cartridge!
Printers
25
The monochrome laser printer shown in Figure 2-1 can produce 12 pages
per minute without blinking an eye. (If it had one.)
Inkjet printers are still cheaper than laser printers. You can find an acceptable color inkjet printer for under $100 anywhere on the planet, and they’re
still the color printing solution for the home PC owner. Other advantages
include
Figure 2-1:
Invest in a
low-cost
monochrome
laser printer
for
document
printing.
✦ Versatility: A color inkjet can print on many types of media, including
craft paper and T-shirt transfers.
✦ Smaller size: This saves you space on your desktop.
✦ Larger paper sizes: If you spend more, you can add a large-format inkjet
printer to your system that can print 11 x 17-inch or larger items.
The inkjet printer in Figure 2-2 costs less than $300 yet includes both Ethernet
and Universal Serial Bus (USB) connections. It can print laser-quality black
text at seven pages per minute and photo-quality color images at five pages
per minute. You can even set this model to print on both sides of the paper.
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
Inkjet printer advantages
Book I
Chapter 2
26
Printers
Photo printers
Photo printers are specifically designed to create photographs that rival any
35mm film print. They either use the best quality inkjet technology, or they rely
on dye-sublimation (dye-sub) technology (also called thermal wax printing).
A dye-sub printer transfers heated solid dye from a ribbon to specially coated
paper, producing the same continuous tones that you see in a photograph
produced from a negative. Photo printers can often accept memory cards
from digital cameras directly, so you don’t need a PC to print your digital
photographs.
Figure 2-2:
This inkjet
printer
produces
stunning
photoquality
color.
Although a number of different sizes of photo printers are on the market,
most are smaller than typical inkjet printers. (They can’t use standard 8.5 x
11-inch paper, and they can’t print black text, which makes an inkjet printer
far more versatile.) Both photo and inkjet printers can produce borderless
images (just like a film print), but a true dye-sublimation photo printer is far
slower than an inkjet, and the special paper and dye ribbon that it requires
make it much more expensive over the long haul.
If you’re a serious amateur or professional digital photographer, a photo
printer is worth the expense. For a typical home PC owner, however, a
standard color inkjet printer is the better path to take.
Printers
27
Label printers
For example, the LabelWriter 330 Turbo can produce all these materials
with aplomb:
✦ Address and shipping labels, complete with your logo
✦ ID badges
✦ CD and DVD labels
✦ Bar codes and U.S. mail codes
✦ File folder labels
✦ Floppy disk labels (for those who still use floppy disks, anyway)
✦ VHS tape and cassette labels
Figure 2-3:
A personal
label printer
is a
convenient
tool for
printing all
types of
labels.
When you design your labels, the software that ships with the LabelWriter
330 Turbo gives you control over fonts, time and date stamping, line drawings, and even thumbnail photographs. You can rotate and mirror text or set
up bar coding with ease. Plus, you get the capability to print labels directly
from applications such as Outlook, Word, ACT!, and QuickBooks.
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
Before I move on, I’d like to discuss a popular new class of printers — the
personal label printer, like the DYMO LabelWriter 330 Turbo that I use
(www.dymo.com). These printers might look a little like toys — they’re not
much bigger than the label tape that they use — but I’ve found that a label
printer is worth twice its weight in gold (see Figure 2-3).
Book I
Chapter 2
28
Scanners
Just as valuable as the output, however, is the sheer convenience that you
get from one of these printers! A label printer frees you from the hassle of
designing and preparing labels on your inkjet or laser printer, and you don’t
have to hunt for your label sheets every time that you need to print a new
batch. (Anyone who’s fought tooth and nail to align and print a bar code or
address labels on a standard laser printer knows just what I mean.)
The LabelWriter 330 Turbo uses a USB connection and sells for about $200
online.
Scanners
Scanners are interesting beasts — and man, you get a lot of bang for your
buck! In fact, a perfectly serviceable USB scanner (as shown in Figure 2-4) is
waiting for you at your local Maze O’ Wires store for under $100, and it can
do all of the following:
✦ Produce digital images from magazine and book pages, photographs,
and just about any other printed material. These images can later be
edited to your heart’s content, sent as an e-mail attachment, or
recorded to CD or DVD.
✦ Read text from a printed document into your word processor. This
trick is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and can save you
hours of typing.
✦ Produce images that you can fax with your PC’s fax/modem.
✦ Produce images from transparencies or slides (with the right
attachment).
✦ Create copies of a document (in concert with your printer).
Figure 2-4:
This
scanner can
bring all
sorts of
printed
material to
your PC
monitor.
Scanners
29
Specialized scanners are designed especially for things such as bar codes
and business cards. A unique favorite of mine is a digital, hand-held pen
scanner (see one in Figure 2-5) with which you can recreate what you draw
or write on special sheets of paper in the included notebook and a special
type of self-adhesive notes. I use the Logitech io (www.logitech.com). No
more stuffing napkins with scribbles all over them into your jacket pocket
after lunch! You can also use the io to enter appointments and To Do data
into Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes and also flag information that should
be automatically entered into an e-mail message when you connect the pen
to your PC. (It uses a USB connection.) If you’re like me — constantly
moving back and forth between old-fashioned pen and paper one minute
and a mouse and Adobe Illustrator the next — you’ll find that the io is
worth every penny of the $200 that you’ll pay for it.
Figure 2-5:
A digital
pen is a
specialized
scanner.
I go into more detail on scanners in Book VI, Chapter 1. For now, just remember that they are the very definition of the cat’s pajamas.
Book I
Chapter 2
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
Plus, prices on the better scanners have been dropping for some time now.
For example, the ScanMaker 4900 from Microtek (www.microtek.com) is
priced under $200, yet it scans at a quality that five years ago would have
cost you more than $500. This scanner contains seven one-touch buttons
on its front. You can e-mail, copy, or even create PDFs from the original —
or even run your OCR software with a single punch of a button. Sassy!
30
Keyboards, Tablets, and Pointing Things
Keyboards, Tablets, and Pointing Things
Gotta have ’em. Using a PC without an input device is . . . well, I guess it’s
like playing ping-pong without paddles. In this section, I discuss the
upgrades that you can make to your PC’s existing keyboard and mouse.
(Although they’re technically not peripherals, as I mention in Book I,
Chapter 1, some of these hardware devices are too cool not to cover.)
Tickling keys wirelessly
As I discuss in the previous chapter of this mini-book — and as you can read
in Book II, Chapter 1, when I start talking XP — Mr. Bill has remodeled the
hoary PC keyboard in his own fashion, adding extra keys that make it easier
to control Windows. If you’re using a PC built in the last few years, you’ll
already have these keys handy. I mention a few keyboard features to look for
in the previous chapter of this mini-book, such as ergonomic keyboards that
can help reduce the strain of typing on your wrists. But what if you want to
relax in a better chair several feet away from that big-screen monitor?
Enter the wireless keyboard, which is the perfect complement to a wireless
mouse or trackball. The wireless keyboard shown in Figure 2-6 is a combination of both a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse that use the Bluetooth
short-range wireless network technology I cover in Book VIII, Chapter 3.
This keyboard is festooned with no less than 11 one-button hotkeys and
even includes a set of audio CD player controls for listening to your music.
Figure 2-6:
This
wireless
keyboard/
mouse
combo is
the nomad’s
dream.
Putting a tablet to work
If you’re a graphic artist, a professional photographer, or someone who
wants to paint or draw freehand, consider a graphics tablet (shown in
Keyboards, Tablets, and Pointing Things
31
Figure 2-7), which allows you to draw or make notes with a stylus in the
familiar old-fashioned method. Like an ergonomic keyboard, a tablet can
also help ease the strain on your wrist.
A typical tablet like the Intuos2 from Wacom (www.wacom.com) has no batteries or cords on the stylus, and it even comes with its own mouse. The
tablet uses a USB connection to your PC, and it sells for about $350 on the
Web — that’s the 6 x 8-inch model. (The 9 x 12-inch model is about $100
more.)
Figure 2-7:
A graphics
tablet
makes
drawing a
breeze.
Repeat after me: Buy a trackball!
I can’t work with a traditional mouse any longer — I’m now firmly set in the
trackball camp. A trackball offers a number of benefits:
✦ Compact: Trackballs require far less space on your desktop because
just the trackball moves (instead of the entire device).
✦ Control: Many folks find that using a trackball provides a finer level of
cursor control.
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
“But what about the fine control I get with paper or canvas?” No problem!
Today’s tablets can recognize thousands of different levels of pressure.
Some can even detect the angle of the stylus, allowing you to tilt your virtual
brush in graphics applications like Photoshop and Painter for special effects
with watercolor, chalk, and pencil filters.
Book I
Chapter 2
32
Big-Time Game Controllers
✦ Cleanliness: A trackball stays cleaner than a mouse. (Even optical mice
get dirtier than trackballs.)
Figure 2-8 illustrates a trackball mouse that you control with your thumb; other
trackballs use the first finger to control the ball. This particular model uses
either a USB or PS/2 connection to your PC and sells for about $35 online.
Figure 2-8:
A trackball
is much
more
efficient
than the
traditional
mouse.
Big-Time Game Controllers
Ah, do you remember the old Atari joysticks that ushered in the age of the
video game (and the Atari personal computers after that)? A plastic tube, a
base with a single red button, and a cord . . . what more could you possibly
want, right?
Because modern game players want a lot more than one button, witness the
arrival of the game controller (which I think has a much grander sound than
just a joystick). For example, check out the controller shown in Figure 2-9 —
does that look like an old-fashioned joystick to you? In fact, this model is
more like a combination of a mini-keyboard and a gamepad (reflecting the
current complexity of PC games, which rely as much on the keyboard as
the pointing device that you’re using). Your entire hand fits on top of the
controller, much like a trackball, and your fingers use the keys while your
thumb operates the gamepad directional control. (You can also use this
controller along with your regular mouse or trackball.) This model, which
sells for about $30 online, can even be programmed to fit your preferences
for each individual game that you play. Sweet!
Video and Digital Cameras
33
Book I
Chapter 2
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
Figure 2-9:
It’s a bird, it’s
a plane . . .
no, it’s the
latest in PC
game
controllers!
Another popular feature of today’s game controllers is force feedback, where
the controller actually rumbles or provides resistance to your hand that
matches the action onscreen, such as a steering wheel that gets tougher to
turn in curves or a joystick that shakes each time that your WWII fighter is
hit by enemy fire.
Consider the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback steering wheel, which has
the same optical tracking mechanism as today’s optical mice and trackballs.
It even has its own onboard processor, which keeps track of what’s happening
within the game and activates the wheel’s internal motors to provide the
matching feedback. (Naturally, it also has programmable buttons. What a
surprise.) Anyway, you get the steering wheel and a set of pedals to boot
for about $100, making you the hit of your NASCAR crowd!
Video and Digital Cameras
Images and full-motion video have traditionally been based on film (which
retains an image when exposed to light) or magnetic tape. That whole
approach, however, is now strictly ’90s . . . and very early ’90s to boot.
Today’s digital cameras and digital video camcorders have heavy-duty
advantages over film cameras and tape camcorders:
✦ No processing at Wal-Mart is required. Your digital images can be downloaded directly to your PC.
✦ Editing is easy, using programs like Adobe Photoshop and Paint Shop
Pro (for digital images) and Adobe Premiere (for video).
✦ No film rolls to buy. Instead, you simply delete images from your digital
camera after they’re downloaded.
34
Video and Digital Cameras
✦ Your images and videos can be saved to a CD or DVD for permanent
storage.
✦ Images can be sent via e-mail or displayed on your Web page.
✦ You can create your own DVD movies from your video clips.
A specialized model of DV camcorder (about the size of a baseball) is
designed especially to sit atop your desktop PC: a Web cam. Folks use them
to send digital video over the Internet, to add a video signal to their Web
pages, or to record simple movies from their chair. Web cams have been in
use as Internet videoconferencing tools for years now; most are under $100;
and they use either a FireWire or USB cable connection to your PC.
Figure 2-10 illustrates a typical digital camera, which looks and operates
much like its film counterpart. Figure 2-11 shows a camcorder, ready to
record straight to digital video, which you can transfer over a FireWire connection to your PC.
For the skinny on digital cameras, see Book VI, Chapter 5. And for a look at
how the video clips that you take with your DV camcorder can be turned
into movies, see Book VI, Chapter 3.
Figure 2-10:
The image
maker of the
new
millennium:
the digital
camera.
External Drives
35
Book I
Chapter 2
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
Figure 2-11:
With a
digital
camcorder,
you can
record your
footage on
a DVD.
External Drives
Next, consider how simple it is to add fast storage — or the ability to record
your own CDs and DVDs — to today’s PCs. If you’re the least bit nervous
about digging inside your PC’s innards in order to add more hard drive
space, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s easy to connect a fast external
hard drive to your system . . . providing that you have the FireWire or USB
2.0 ports available on your PC. (If you’re not familiar with these high-speed
connections, fear not: I launch into a complete discussion of both of these in
Book VII, Chapter 5.)
In fact, not every form of external storage even needs a cable. Read on to
see what I mean.
Portable hard drives and CD/DVD recorders
Forget the huge external hard drives of just five years ago. Those doorstops
have been replaced by slim, trim models (see Figure 2-12) that run faster
and are more reliable and yet are no bigger than a pack of playing cards. At
current prices, you can pick up an external 40GB hard drive for about $350
that is a mere one inch thick and shock resistant yet can connect effortlessly to PCs with either FireWire or USB 2.0 ports.
36
External Drives
Figure 2-12:
This
external
40GB drive
means
mobile
storage.
On the CD and DVD recording scene, you’ll find four major types of drives:
✦ CD-R/CD-RW drives: Can store around 700MB on a CD
✦ DVD-R/DVD-RW drives: Can store 4.7GB on a DVD
✦ DVD-RAM drives: Can store 9.4GB on a double-sided DVD
✦ DVD+R/DVD+RW drives: Can store 4.7GB on a DVD
The RW in the drive moniker stands for rewriteable, meaning that you can
reuse a CD-RW, DVD-RW, or DVD+RW over and over. All these recorders can
produce audio CDs and standard data CD/DVDs, but only the drives that can
record the DVD-R and DVD+R formats are likely to create a DVD movie that
can be played in your standalone DVD player. Unfortunately, the rewriteable
DVD-RW and DVD+RW standards aren’t compatible with each other, and
they’re not compatible with most standalone DVD players, either; you’ll
have to watch your discs on your PC. (Insert sound of palm slapping forehead here.)
The current morass that is the DVD standards battle is too complex to go
into in this chapter. If you’d like the full story about what works with what
and how to record any type of disc under the sun (audio, video, data, and
even a mix), I can heartily recommend my book CD and DVD Recording For
Dummies, by Wiley Publishing, Inc. (It’ll keep your library consistent, too.)
External Drives
37
Backup drives
Instead, you now have three choices to pick from when backing up your
system:
✦ DVD recorders, especially DVD-RAM drives, which can store over 9GB
per double-sided disc.
✦ Online backups, using a commercial Internet backup service. (This is
really only a viable solution if you’re using a broadband connection to
the Internet; backing up a big hard drive takes too long over a pokey
56KB modem.)
✦ External FireWire and USB 2.0 backup hard drives like the 200GB
Maxtor Personal Storage 5000DV (www.maxtor.com), which allows you
to start a full, automated backup of your system by pressing the button
on the front of the drive.
The Maxtor unit isn’t cheap at $450, but how much are your documents and
files worth? No matter what backup method you use, I strongly urge you to
do your duty as your PC’s guardian and back up your system!
USB flash drives
The final storage toy is a little something different: the USB flash drive,
which is a keychain-sized unit that needs no batteries and has no moving
parts! Instead, it uses the same method that digital cameras use to store
images. Your files are stored on memory cards (either removable cards or
built-in memory inside the unit). Most USB drives now range anywhere from
16MB to 256MB of storage, and after you plug them into your PC’s USB port,
they look just like any external hard drive (or a whomping huge floppy disk),
but they can be unplugged and carried with you in your pocket. These
drives don’t need any extra software — Windows 2000 and XP recognize
them instantly — so they make a great “digital wallet.”
Figure 2-13 illustrates a 128MB flash drive that sells for about $50 online. It
even includes a write-protect switch so that you can safeguard your data
from being accidentally erased.
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
Backup drives used to mean inexpensive, slow-running tape drives —
however, today’s typical 60GB and 80GB drives are simply too humongous
for such tapes to be worth much anymore. Heck, I remember when everyone backed up to floppy disks, and now even the highest-priced digital
audio tape (DAT) drives are losing ground fast in the backup storage world.
Book I
Chapter 2
38
Surge Protectors and UPS Units
Figure 2-13:
Carry
128MB in
your pocket
with a USB
flash drive.
Surge Protectors and UPS Units
You know, one clear sign of a PC power user is at the end of the PC’s power
cord. True power users will use either a surge protector or a UPS to safeguard their system. However, I always make sure that I stress the following
fact when I’m talking about surge protectors and UPS units: Neither will be
able to protect your PC from a direct lightning hit on your home or office
wiring! (That’s just too much current for any commercial surge device to
handle.)
Otherwise, using both a surge protector and a UPS will help guard against
less serious power surges, and both will provide additional AC sockets for
your rapidly growing system. If you can afford to spend $200–$300, the UPS
is the better choice because of the following reasons:
✦ Safety nets: A UPS provides a number of extra minutes of AC power if
your home or office experiences a power failure — generally enough so
that you can close any documents that you’re working on (like that
Great American Novel that you’ve been slaving over for 20 years) and
then shut down your PC normally.
✦ Auto shutdowns: More expensive UPS models can actually shut down
your PC automatically in case of a power failure.
✦ Current cleaners: Most UPS units filter the AC current to smooth out
brownouts and noise interference from other electronic devices.
✦ Audible alerts: Some UPS units sound an alarm whenever a power failure or significant brownout occurs.
Surge Protectors and UPS Units
39
If you’re using a dialup or digital subscriber line (DSL) modem connection,
make sure that you get a surge protector or UPS that will also protect your
modem from electrical surges — that juice can travel just as easily across a
phone line as across your power line.
Book I
Chapter 2
Additional Toys
Your PC Will Enjoy
The number of minutes that your UPS will last during a power failure
depends on the power rating of the battery. Don’t forget, however, that a
honking big cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor will use much more power than
the PC itself, so you should allow for it when deciding on which UPS to buy.
40
Book I: PC Hardware
Chapter 3: Connectors, Ports,
and Sundry Openings
In This Chapter
Connecting USB devices
Connecting FireWire devices
Putting the antique serial port to rest
Recognizing the PC parallel port
Connecting your monitors
Locating the jacks and ports on your sound card
Connecting your mouse and keyboard
I
n the beginning (okay, last century), there was the serial port and the
parallel port — who would have needed anything else? If you could
afford a printer back then, it was connected to the parallel port, and your
modem (or perhaps your mouse) was hooked to your serial port. End of
story.
Today’s typical PC sprouts those same two ports. And although you can
still use them with a printer, modem, and even a mouse, you’ll also find a
number of relatively new connectors that greatly expand the range of
peripherals that you can add to your system. In this chapter, I help you
make sense of the various ports and sundry openings that you’ll find on the
back of your PC.
Using USB Stuff
The first port on the tour is rapidly becoming the most important standard
PC connector. A Universal Serial Bus (USB) port (see Figure 3-1) allows you to
connect all sorts of peripherals, and it’s even becoming popular for connecting keyboards and mice. Intel is responsible for this most versatile of ports.
42
Using USB Stuff
USB connector
USB ports
Figure 3-1:
The docking
procedure
for a USB
port.
A USB connection is the cat’s pajamas because
✦ It’s plug and play. You don’t even need to reboot your PC after you
connect a USB device because Windows automatically recognizes the
connection, and you can start using your USB peripheral immediately.
✦ One port supports dozens of devices. A single USB port can support up
to 127 different devices, either connected in a daisy-chain configuration
or by using a USB hub. I doubt that you have that many connections to
handle. (But if you do, please take a photo of your system with your digital camera and send the picture to [email protected] because I can
hardly wait to see it.)
✦ It’s relatively fast. The two current standards for USB devices are the
older USB 1.1 standard (which still delivers data transfer speeds that
are many times that of a traditional serial port) and the USB 2.0 standard (which is the fastest connection currently available for the PC).
Riding in the Fast Lane with FireWire
43
I discuss USB connections in greater detail in Book VII, Chapter 5; for now,
just remember that any device with a USB port connection is a better choice
over the same device with a serial port or parallel port connection.
Until recently, the FireWire port (often referred to by its more official name,
IEEE 1394) was the fastest port on any personal computer and has therefore
become the standard for digital video (DV) camcorders and high-resolution
scanners — both of which produce honking big files that need to be transferred to your computer as quickly as possible. Believe it or not, Apple
Computer is the proud parent of FireWire.
The original FireWire standard has now been overtaken in raw speed by USB
2.0, but because FireWire has been around far longer, it’s in no danger of disappearing any time soon. In fact, I personally would pick FireWire over USB
2.0 every time because none of my current crop of digital gear will recognize
USB 2.0.
Unlike USB ports — which are included with every PC today — FireWire
ports are generally available as optional equipment, so make certain that
you have a FireWire port before spending the big bucks on that new DV camcorder. (Of course, you can always buy an adapter card to add FireWire ports
to your computer.) Like USB, FireWire is also a plug-and-play connection; a
FireWire port can support 63 devices (using a daisy-chaining technique).
Find more information about FireWire in Book VII, Chapter 5, where I introduce the new FireWire 800 standard, which ups the ante in the port speed
race, churning an incredible 800 Mbps (or twice as fast as original FireWire)!
Back off, SCSI!
Many hardware technicians and technowizards are familiar with Small Computer
System Interface (SCSI) connectors. SCSI was
the original high-speed, daisy-chaining technology that allowed you to add a string of multiple
devices (a SCSI chain) both inside and outside
your PC’s case. Even today, SCSI internal hard
drives are some of the fastest on the market.
However, external SCSI devices are somewhat
scary: A SCSI chain is much harder than USB
2.0 or FireWire to configure. In fact, I’ve devoted
entire chapters to it in some of my older books.
External SCSI devices aren’t plug and play, and
an external SCSI peripheral is much slower
when it comes to transferring data than the
newer USB/FireWire technologies.
For these reasons, I advise even PC power
users to give SCSI the cold shoulder when considering an external device unless your PC
already has SCSI hardware, and you’re experienced with configuring SCSI hardware. Take my
word for it; you’ll be glad you did.
Connectors, Ports,
and Sundry
Openings
Riding in the Fast Lane with FireWire
Book I
Chapter 3
44
Your Antique Serial Port
Your Antique Serial Port
Okay, perhaps the serial port isn’t antique, but it is one-half of the original
Dynamic Duo that first appeared with the premiere of the IBM PC.
Today, most peripherals have jumped the serial ship and joined the USB
bunch. However, you can still find the following serial devices from time to
time (usually used, and probably on eBay):
✦ Modems
✦ Game controllers (especially the more complex joysticks)
✦ Digital cameras
✦ Personal digital assistant (PDA) docks for Palm and Pocket PC units
Serial devices aren’t plug and play, so you’ll have to reboot your PC before
Windows will recognize a serial device. Also, serial devices — especially
modems — might require additional manual configuration inside Windows,
such as editing files with Notepad and turning off certain port features.
All in all, go USB. Everyone else is, and it’s a good thing.
The Once-Renowned Parallel Port
Ah, I remember those days . . . the early 1980s, when the parallel port was
truly the Queen of the PC Connections. Printers were hideously expensive
peripherals that only a doctor, lawyer, or Supreme Court Justice could
afford. And if you did have a printer, it was connected to your PC’s parallel
port with all the pomp, grace, and grandeur of the RMS Queen Elizabeth II.
(Perhaps I need more Diet Coke.)
Figure 3-2 illustrates the standard PC parallel port as it appears today.
Unlike the serial port, the parallel port is still somewhat useful today; a large
number of parallel port printers are still manufactured, and the parallel port
is also used with other peripherals such as Zip drives and scanners (usually
with older PCs without USB support).
I’m sorry to report, however, that the parallel port’s days are numbered.
The popularity of the USB port as a printer connection has doomed the parallel port to obsolescence, and we can wave goodbye to her with a wistful
smile. Again, like the serial port, Mark’s Maxim prevails:
Buy USB. You’ll be happier.
Meet Your Video Port
45
Book I
Chapter 3
Parallel port
(25 pins, male)
Many laptops feature an infrared port (commonly called an IrDA port, short
for Infrared Data Association) that can be used to communicate with devices
such as PDAs and other laptops. Windows provides full support for an
infrared connection. However, these ports don’t do diddly-squat if the external peripheral that you’re trying to communicate with doesn’t have its own
IrDA port — and not many do, so you won’t be able to use this whiz-bang
technology with many devices.
Meet Your Video Port
At last, a port that’s been around for many years and still rocks! Yes, friends
and neighbors, today’s video cards still use the same 15-pin, D-SUB video
port that originally appeared with the IBM Video Graphics Array (VGA)
specification. However, another new face is on the block: the 29-pin, DVI-I
port, which is used to connect digital flat-panel (liquid crystal display; LCD)
monitors. Figure 3-3 shows a typical video card that offers both ports
onboard.
If you’re wondering, virtually every card that has both of these video ports
can actually use two monitors at once (either showing an expanded desktop,
where your mouse moves seamlessly from one monitor to the other, or two
separate and discrete desktops).
In a pinch, a DVI-VGA adapter allows you to use the DVI-I port to connect a
standard cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor, so you can use two analog monitors instead.
Connectors, Ports,
and Sundry
Openings
Figure 3-2:
A grand old
dame of the
PC world,
the 25-pin
parallel port.
46
Audio Connectors You’ll Likely Need
Standard VGA
monitor connector
Figure 3-3:
Many cards
offer both a
VGA and a
DVI-I
connector.
DVI-I
connector
Audio Connectors You’ll Likely Need
Today’s speakers connect to your PC’s sound card in one of three ways:
✦ Through standard analog Line-Out/Speaker jacks on the card: These
are the familiar audio jacks that you’ll find on the card itself, just like the
headphone jacks on your MP3 player or boom box. Most PC speakers
use these jacks, shown in Figure 3-4.
✦ Through standard analog RCA jacks on the card: Some cards also
include the RCA jacks that most folks associate with a stereo system or
a VCR. These jacks are more convenient than the Line-Out/Speaker
jacks because you don’t need a miniplug-to-RCA adapter to use your
stereo system with your PC’s audio output.
✦ Through the USB port: Surprise! It’s our new-old-friend making another
appearance. This time, your speakers can use any USB port on your
system for a digital audio connection — analog gets tossed out the door,
and audiophiles can wax enthusiastic about their pristine digital sound.
Keyboard and Mouse Ports on Parade
47
Book I
Chapter 3
LINE
IN
MIC
Figure 3-4:
The
business
end of a
typical PC
sound card,
with
speaker
jack and
game port.
VOLU
ME
GAME
You’ll also find a PC game port on most audio cards, allowing you to connect
a joystick or other game controller. The game port is going the way of the
dodo (thanks once again, as you can guess, to USB game controllers), but
they’re still quite common on today’s sound cards.
Keyboard and Mouse Ports on Parade
The final stop on the port tour is the ubiquitous PS/2 keyboard/joystick
port. Figure 3-5 illustrates the plug that fits in these ports. Each port is
typically color coded and marked with an icon to indicate which piece of
hardware gets connected where.
I hate to bring it up, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, many
PC hardware manufacturers are turning to USB keyboards and USB mice.
(See why I stress just how important USB is to the modern PC?) In this case,
however, I see no real advantage to using a USB keyboard or mouse over a
PS/2 keyboard or mouse because the latter really don’t require any configuration, and they’re not constantly being unplugged and reconnected.
Connectors, Ports,
and Sundry
Openings
SPKR
48
Keyboard and Mouse Ports on Parade
Make sure arrow
is on top
Figure 3-5:
A PS/2
keyboard/
mouse
connector.
Awesome
sight, isn’t
it?
Chapter 4: Maintaining
Your Hardware
In This Chapter
Moving your PC the right way
Dusting your PC
Keeping cables under control
Cleaning your monitor and scanner
Freshening your mouse and keyboard
Practicing printer maintenance
W
ith the right credit card balance, anyone can buy a supercharged
$2,500 PC — but maintaining that expensive equipment is another
kettle of fish altogether. Although your PC’s case might appear to be a
closed environment, those fans draw in dust while they’re cooling things
down . . . and what about peripherals such as your printer and scanner,
which are always more exposed to dust, dirt, and contaminants? The only
PC that I’ve encountered that doesn’t need regular maintenance is the
model that you can buy in The Sims.
In this chapter, I cover the basic cleaning and maintenance necessary to
keep your hardware in top shape — long enough for it to become a seriously
outdated antique! (And that’s coming from the proud owner of two antique
RadioShack computers and three antique Atari computers.)
When Should I Move My PC?
Counter to popular myth, even a desktop PC can go mobile whenever it
wants. Of course, you won’t be stowing it with your other carry-on items on
a plane, but if you’ve been challenged to a LAN game at someone’s apartment or you’re moving to a new home, you’ll find that your PC actually
enjoys chaperoned trips. (Rather like a dog, without the tongue out the
window.)
50
Avoiding Dust Bunnies
Here are the guidelines that you should follow when moving your PC:
✦ Never move your PC until it’s completely powered down. In this case,
move means any movement whatsoever (even nudging your PC’s case a
few inches across your desktop). Harken to this particularly important
Mark’s Maxim: Never move your desktop PC if it is running. (Even
laptop computers shouldn’t be jolted or jerked around while they’re
running.) Many PCs have only a handful of moving parts, such as fans,
CD/DVD recorders, and hard drives — but brother, any movement while
the latter two are still spinning carries the possibility that you can
shorten the drive’s operational life. Always give your PC at least ten seconds after it shuts down before you pick it up.
✦ Never set your PC upright in a seat or the floor of your car. We’ve all
seen the videos of crash test dummies . . . and your beloved digital
friend doesn’t have a car seat in case you come to a sudden stop. You
can actually use seatbelts to secure your PC in a vehicle, but I think it’s
just easier to lay your PC’s case down flat on the floor of your vehicle.
The same also goes for your monitor, which is also dangerous (for itself
and your head) when airborne for short distances.
✦ Use a towel if necessary. If your PC has to ride on top of a surface that
might scratch your case, wrap your PC in a towel or blanket to protect
its finish.
Avoiding Dust Bunnies
Think I’m kidding? Dust bunnies are real — and they seem to reproduce as
fast as their namesake, too. Thanks to your trusty can of techno-nerd compressed air, however, you can banish that dust from your PC and get back
to work or play.
Here’s a checklist of what to do:
✦ Open and dust your PC at least once a year. Consider it a birthday present for your computer. Unscrew or unlatch your PC’s case and use your
compressed air (available at any office supply store) to blow any accumulated dust from the motherboard, adapter cards, and cables. If allowed to
accumulate, that dust can act as a comfy heat-retaining blanket over your
PC’s circuitry, and overheated components have a significantly shorter
lifespan. (For proof, check out the fans at the back of your PC’s case and
the fan on top of the processor. Heat is the enemy.)
Watching Your Cables
51
✦ Wipe down your PC’s case and your monitor with a clean, dry cloth
every few months. You should never use any household solvents to
clean your PC’s case, but antistatic cleaning solutions and cloths are
made just for cleaning computer hardware, which you can find at your
local computer shop or office supply store.
Are you facing a stain that won’t come off your PC’s case, even when
you use an antistatic cleaning cloth? Then try my secret weapon: Armor
All protectant (which you’ve probably been using on your car’s rubber
and vinyl for years!). Apply a small amount of Armor All directly on the
stain and try again.
✦ Avoid eating around your PC. I know; it’s difficult not to snack while
you’re on the Internet, but at least be diligent about cleaning up afterwards and never park anything liquid anywhere near your computer!
✦ Keep your workspace clean and open. Surrounding your PC with
papers and knickknacks might optimize your desktop space (or at least
help you feel more human around an inhuman boss), but you’ll be contributing to the accumulation of dust inside your computer. And, in the
worst case, you’ll actually be blocking the flow of air. I try to leave at
least six inches of free space around the base of my PC at all times.
If your PC must be located in a dusty environment, consider an air cleaner
and ionizer unit. I use one in my office, and I find significantly less dust to
clean from my PC every year.
Watching Your Cables
With the popularity of external Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire
peripherals these days, the forest of cables sprouting from the back of your
PC can look like Medusa on a bad hair day. Normally, this isn’t a problem . . .
until you decide to move your PC, or you want to repair or upgrade an internal component. Talk about the Gordian knot!
Here’s a list of tips for keeping your cables under control:
✦ Use ties to combine and route cables. I’m a big fan of the reusable
Velcro cable tie strips that you can find at your local office supply store.
With these ties, you can easily combine cables that are heading in the
same direction into a more manageable group. You can also fasten these
cable ties to the underside of your desk or behind furniture to keep
network and power cables hidden and out of danger.
Book I
Chapter 4
Maintaining Your
Hardware
✦ Remove dust that’s settled on the fan blades. Speaking of fans, use
your compressed air to get rid of any additional dust on fan blades and
within air intake holes. In order to properly ventilate and cool your PC,
these openings need to be free of dust bunnies.
52
Cleaning Monitors and Scanners
✦ Label your cables! Sure, you can tell the source and destination of
some cables at a glance — for example, network cables are pretty easy
to spot — but what about your USB printer and scanner, which both use
the same type of cable? If you must move your PC or unplug cables regularly, avoid the ritual of tracking each cable to its source by doing what
techs and computer shops do: Use a label machine to identify the tip of
each cable with the peripheral name.
✦ Tighten those connectors. “Gee, my monitor was working last night.
What gives?” If you didn’t use the knobs on either side of the video
cable connector to tighten things down, small shifts in position over
time could make cables work loose.
✦ Check your cables for damage periodically. I have a cat. Do you have a
cat? How about a dog? If so, don’t be surprised to find a chewed cable
one morning . . . and pray that it isn’t a power cable. (I keep all animals
away from my office for this reason — not to mention the mess that a
shedding dog can leave around your PC.) Of course, cables can also be
damaged by bending or stretching them, so I recommend checking each
cable at least once a year; I combine this ritual with my PC’s yearly
cleaning.
Cleaning Monitors and Scanners
Most PC owners are aware that they should keep the glass surfaces of their
monitor and scanner clean — but beware, because you can do more harm
than good if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here are the guidelines that I
recommend you follow when working with monitor and scanner glass:
✦ Abrasives are taboo! Even some household glass cleaners — which you
might think could be trusted — can scratch the glass in your monitor or
flatbed scanner when used with a rag or paper towel. With a scanner,
small scratches can mean real trouble because a scratch can easily
show up in your images at higher resolutions. Therefore, I recommend
that you use only a dry, soft photographer’s lens cloth (which won’t
scratch) or lens cloths with alcohol that are made specifically for
monitors and scanners.
✦ Never spray liquids onto a flatbed scanner. If liquid gets under the glass
and into the body of the scanner, you could end up with condensation on
the inside of the scanner when you use it. Again, a dry, photographer’s
lens cloth is a good choice . . . or pre-moistened lens cloths, which don’t
carry enough alcohol to do any harm. (I launch into scanners full-scale in
Book VI, Chapter 1.)
Cleaning Your Mouse and Keyboard
53
✦ Use a cover for your scanner. Scanners are somewhat different from
most external peripherals. They don’t generate any heat while they’re
on (unlike an external hard drive), and most of us only use a scanner
once or twice a week. Therefore, your scanner is a perfect candidate for
a cover that will keep it clean . . . and, by no small coincidence, you’ll
find such covers at your local office supply store.
Cleaning Your Mouse and Keyboard
“Natasha, why we must clean Moose and Squirrel?” (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)
Mice and keyboards get grimy — fast — because your PC’s keyboard and
pointing device are constantly in use, and they get pawed by human hands.
(Of course, you could always wear surgical gloves, but what about your kids?)
Never fear. Here’s a list of guidelines that will help you keep your pointing
device and keyboard clean and working:
✦ Do the Keyboard Shake! No, it’s not a new dance craze, but it is the
best method of cleaning accumulated gunk from your keyboard, and I
recommend doing this at least once a month. Turn your keyboard
upside down and shake it vigorously back and forth; prepare to be
amazed (or grossed out, especially if the whole family uses your PC).
✦ Buy an optical mouse or trackball. (You’ll thank me.) If you’re still using
an old-style mouse with a ball — how very ’80s — clean it once a month
as well. Unscrew the retaining ring on the bottom, remove the mouse ball,
and use a cotton-tipped swab dipped in tape-cleaning alcohol (which is
90+ proof and will leave no residue) to clean the rollers inside. Also, make
sure that your mousepad is clean and dust-free, and you’ll prolong the life
of your rodent. (Chapter 1 of this mini-book talks trackball.)
An optical mouse or trackball doesn’t need to be cleaned anywhere near
as often (if ever) — that’s why I keep crowing about them.
✦ Find yet another use for your compressed air. Your keyboard can
collect debris that can’t be shaken free. If so, using compressed air will
likely blow it free (unless it’s alive and well dug-in, but I haven’t encountered anything like that in my travels so far).
Book I
Chapter 4
Maintaining Your
Hardware
✦ Monitors should never be opened. Never take the cover off a cathode
ray tube (CRT) monitor, even if it needs cleaning. Why? Well, your PC’s
monitor is one of the two components of your system that carry enough
voltage to seriously hurt you (the other being your PC’s power supply).
If your monitor needs to be serviced or cleaned on the inside, take it to
your local computer shop. (Find more about monitors in the first chapter
of this mini-book.)
54
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
Time to consider a peripheral that not only needs cleaning but can also
contribute mightily to its own mess. If you’ve ever had to clean up spilled
laser printer toner, I think you know what I mean. Printers have all the necessary features that make them prime targets for regular maintenance:
✦ They’re open to the outside world.
✦ They’re stuffed full of complex moving parts.
✦ They’re constantly running out of ink or toner.
✦ They act as a magnet for dust.
In this section, I show you how to clean and maintain yon printing instrument. Consider this section as the maintenance highlights from my HP
Printer Handbook, Second Edition, by Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Cleaning laser printers
Your laser printer contains a mortal enemy — toner, that insidious stuff that
seems to have a diabolical mind of its own. Luckily, most cartridges are at
least partially sealed, and only older models of laser printers can produce a
really nasty Three Mile Island-level spill. If any toner escapes, however, you’ll
quickly find that it’s a very fine powder that’s sensitive to static charges and
that immediately heads to every corner of your printer. Those nooks and
crannies can be a real pain to clean. And because toner can permanently
stain clothing and carpet — and it’s harmful to pets and kids — you should
be doubly careful to keep toner inside the cartridge where it belongs.
Therefore, please take the time to completely read the instructions for your
specific laser printer before you install that first toner cartridge. Also avoid
shaking the cartridge unless the manufacturer recommends a particular
motion to help distribute the toner evenly.
If you do spill toner, head to your local office supply store for toner clean-up
cloths. These handy wipes contain a chemical that attracts toner and keeps
it on the cloth. Oh, and don’t use warm or hot water to wash toner off your
hands — toner can literally melt and adhere to your skin!
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
55
Although you should follow the specific instructions for your brand and
model of laser printer while cleaning the interior, here’s a list of the parts
that are generally covered in a good cleaning:
✦ Corona wires: These wires (see Figure 4-1) transfer a static charge to
the paper to attract toner, but if they get dusty, you’ll immediately see
spotting and degraded print quality in your printed documents. Most
manufacturers advise that you use a clean, dry cotton swab to gently
wipe the wires. You should find the wires close to the paper rollers
inside your printer. (Look for labels added by the manufacturer that
point to them and also check your printer’s manual if necessary.)
Feed rollers
Figure 4-1:
In this case,
a Corona is
not a beer.
Corona wires
✦ Toner guard: These felt pads trap excess toner before it gets on your
documents. You might receive a new toner guard set with each cartridge, but in a pinch, you can probably remove the pads from your
printer and rub them on a clean cloth to remove that built-up toner.
✦ Paper feed rollers: Use a cotton swab soaked in alcohol to clean the
buildup from your paper rollers, as shown so artistically in Figure 4-2.
Figure 4-2:
Cleaning the
paper feed
rollers can
make a big
difference.
Cotton swab
Book I
Chapter 4
Maintaining Your
Hardware
Never attempt to clean the interior of your laser printer while it’s on!
Laser technology uses very high temperatures to bond toner to paper, so
you could be subject to serious burns if you’re not careful. I always make
sure that a laser printer has been off for at least 30 minutes before I clean or
service it.
56
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
✦ Fan vent: Yep, your laser printer has its own fan — remember the
intense heat that I mention a few paragraphs ago? And just like the fan
cleaning that I recommended for your PC, it’s a good idea to use compressed air to blow any dust from the fan and the ventilation grill.
I highly recommend using the laser printer cleaning sheets that you can find
at your local office supply store. These papers are treated to remove dust
and excess toner from the printer’s paper path, which you normally wouldn’t
be able to clean. Plus, they’re very easy to use: You just run them through
the printer as if they were regular sheets of paper. If your printer resides in
a dusty or smoky room, these sheets are worth their weight in gold.
Changing inkjet cartridges
Here are two methods of determining when you need to change the cartridges in your inkjet printer:
✦ The automatic route: Most inkjet printers on the market today have
onscreen alerts that appear when the ink level of the cartridge is low.
Or, like you see in Figure 4-3, your printer might actually be able to
display the amount of ink remaining in a cartridge. (A very valuable
trick, indeed, especially for students with term papers looming in the
near future.)
Figure 4-3:
Checking
the ink
levels on
late-model
inkjet
printers is
a cinch.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
57
After you know that you need to change your cartridges, however, the general procedure is the same for virtually every inkjet printer that I’ve ever
encountered:
1. Open the top of your printer.
This will cause most printer models to politely center the carriage to
provide you with access to the cartridges.
2. After you have access to the cartridges, turn your printer off.
Never try to change the cartridges in a printer that’s still powered on!
(Your fingers will thank me.)
3. Lift or turn the latches holding the ink cartridge in place.
Most inkjet printers have at least two cartridges — one for black and
one for color — so make sure that you’re working with the right cartridge before you remove it.
4. Remove the used cartridge and consider refilling it.
I discuss the pros and cons of refilling cartridges later in this chapter.
5. Load the new cartridge and fasten the latch to hold it down.
6. Turn your printer back on and close the lid.
Calibrating your printer
This maintenance task is reserved only for inkjet printer owners. (My, aren’t
we lucky?) Calibration refers to the proper alignment of the inkjet cartridge
nozzles to both the paper and each other; without a properly calibrated
printer, your print quality will degrade over time. This is usually the problem when folks complain that lines appear fuzzy in artwork or when colored
areas in printed images start or stop before they should.
If you hear a professional photographer or graphic artist talk about color
calibration, that’s something completely different; color calibration is the
process of color matching between the colors that appear on your monitor
and the colors produced by your printer. Most of us will never need that
level of precise color, and most inkjet printers now allow you to make
changes to the hue and saturation of your prints by simply dragging a slider
in a printer’s Properties dialog box. But if you need to perform a full color
calibration, check your printer’s manual for more information about using
Windows color profiles.
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Chapter 4
Maintaining Your
Hardware
✦ The “Man, I can barely read this page!” method: If you have an older
inkjet printer, you might not receive any warning at all about the ink
levels in your cartridges — but when they’re empty, pardner, you’ll
know.
58
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
Your printer will automatically calibrate itself when you first load a new
cartridge, so I recommend that you calibrate either three months after
installing a new cartridge or when you notice that your print quality is
suffering . . . whichever comes first. (Of course, the time period will vary
according to how often you use your printer and the length of your average
printed document.)
Although each brand (and sometimes each model) of printer has different
onscreen controls for calibrating output, you should be able to access them
from the printer’s Properties dialog box. Follow these steps in Windows XP:
1. Choose Start➪Printers and Faxes (or Start➪Settings➪Printers and
Faxes, depending on how your Start menu is configured).
You see the available printers on your system (see Figure 4-4).
2. Right-click the printer that you want to calibrate and then choose
Properties from the pop-up menu that appears.
A dialog box somewhat similar to Figure 4-5 appears.
Figure 4-4:
Preparing to
calibrate a
printer in
Windows
XP.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
59
Book I
Chapter 4
Maintaining Your
Hardware
Figure 4-5:
The
Properties
dialog box
for a typical
HewlettPackard
inkjet
printer.
3. If the printer’s calibration function isn’t visible from the General tab,
you might have to search for it on the Advanced tab. You can try
clicking the Printing Preferences button as well — in my case, I have
to do that and also click the Services tab.
If it still fails to appear, check your printer manual for the location of the
calibration controls; some printer manufacturers provide a separate
application that you can run to display your maintenance toolbox.
Figure 4-6 illustrates the calibration dialog box for my HP printer.
4. Run the calibration. (In my case, I click the Calibrate button.)
The process takes under a minute and uses a single sheet of paper.
Figure 4-6:
Ready to
calibrate,
Captain!
60
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
Cleaning inkjet cartridges
Here’s yet another fun task limited to just inkjet owners. I usually clean my
inkjet cartridge nozzles about once every three months or whenever the
output from my printer suddenly starts showing streaks of horizontal white
lines. (As you’ve probably guessed, the nozzles control the placement and
amount of each droplet of ink.) The good news is that you won’t need a
bucket and a scrub brush for this chore; instead, your printer can take care
of cleaning its own cartridges (with your approval, of course).
A new inkjet cartridge provides your printer with a brand-new set of nozzles, so you should restart that three-month period when you change cartridges. However, if you refill an inkjet cartridge — which I discuss in the
next section — you should clean the cartridge nozzles immediately after the
refilled cartridge has been reinstalled.
Like the calibration controls that I discuss in the preceding section, the location of your printer’s cartridge cleaning controls is very likely buried somewhere within its Properties dialog box, or it’s available when you run the
maintenance program supplied by your printer manufacturer. To display the
Properties dialog box for your printer, follow the procedure that I cover earlier.
Figure 4-7 illustrates the cleaning controls for my HP inkjet printer. I just
click the Clean button, wait about a minute, and I’m done.
Figure 4-7:
Preparing to
clean my
inkjet
nozzles.
Should you refill used inkjet cartridges?
I’ll be honest with you: I don’t refill inkjet cartridges, and I don’t recommend
that you do, either. The only real advantage to refilling cartridges is the
money that you save over buying a new cartridge. As a fellow inkjet owner
myself, I feel your pain when you’re standing in the checkout line at
Wal-Mart with a $40 cartridge in your hand.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Printer
61
However, here are the reasons why I buy new cartridges — consider these
the facts that you won’t see when that refill kit TV commercial appears for
the umpteenth time:
✦ You get substandard ink. One of the reasons why ink refills are cheaper
is that the quality of the ink used in the refill kits is usually never as
good as the ink in a new cartridge. That second-rate ink can cause color
changes or uneven coverage and might also end up taking longer to dry
(resulting in Smear City).
✦ You’re reusing the nozzles. I mention cleaning cartridge nozzles in the
previous section. Unfortunately, those nozzles are not meant to be
reused, and refilling a cartridge can result in clogs. You’ll have to clean
your cartridges far more often, and the quality of your printer’s output
might drop appreciably over time when you use a refilled cartridge.
Thus my decision and my recommendation — let someone else suffer
below-par print quality by refilling their used cartridges.
Maintaining Your
Hardware
✦ You’ll probably get messy. Even if you’re experienced at refilling an ink
cartridge, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up with a toxic spill.
Make sure that you cover your work surface with a plastic sheet and
don’t wear anything formal.
Book I
Chapter 4
62
Book I: PC Hardware
Book II
Windows XP
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Shake Hands with Windows XP ........................................................................65
Chapter 2: The Many Windows of Windows ......................................................................85
Chapter 3: Windows XP Basics ..........................................................................................105
Chapter 4: Customizing Windows XP................................................................................131
Chapter 5: Maintaining the XP Beast ................................................................................161
Chapter 6: Taking Control of the Control Panel ..............................................................185
Chapter 7: Easy XP Troubleshooting ................................................................................213
Chapter 1: Shake Hands
with Windows XP
In This Chapter
Celebrating the advantages of Windows XP
Starting and shutting down Windows XP
Introducing Windows controls
Using the keyboard
Searching for help
Contacting Microsoft for support
O
f all the many Windows flavors that I’ve seen over the last decade —
everything from mixed berry to plain vanilla — Windows XP Home
and Professional are the best versions that I’ve ever used. The XP operating
system offers the top appearance, performance, and functionality available
for your PC today . . . as long as you’re using an Intel Pentium 4 or Advanced
Micro Devices (AMD) Athlon XP processor. (If you’re using a Pentium II or
Pentium III machine, I’d consider sticking with Windows 98SE because your
PC doesn’t have the necessary horsepower to provide real performance in
Windows XP.)
Note: There are actually two different editions of Windows XP: Home Edition
and Professional. (You can tell which version you have when you start your
PC because Windows XP displays an identifying welcome screen while it’s
loading.) The Home Edition omits a handful of networking and security features found in XP Professional (the most glaring being the lack of the
Backup Wizard), but for a typical home PC owner or small office PC user,
the two end up being just about identical in look, taste, and smell. And
everything that you find in this chapter applies to both versions of XP.
(When disparities occur later in this mini-book, I’ll send up a flare.)
In this chapter, I present you with the beginning of your Windows XP
manual — the invaluable, indispensable paper volume that you didn’t get
when you bought XP or bought your PC. (Can you tell that I used to write
66
Why Windows XP, Anyway?
software user manuals?) This book assumes no prior experience with XP,
so I start with shutting down your PC and the most important controls and
keys that you’ll use in the following chapters.
Why Windows XP, Anyway?
If you’re wondering why I consider Windows XP to be the pick of Microsoft’s
litter — and why you shouldn’t run an older version, such as Windows 2000,
Millennium (Me), or 98SE — allow me to point out its advantages as well as
the occasional downside.
✦ It’s attractive: Microsoft has gone to a lot of work to make XP a graphics
jewel — menus fade in and out, 3-D effects abound, and even your
mouse has a fashionable shadow under it. (This graphics banquet has
its cost: You’ll need a Pentium 4 processor, at least 256MB of random
access memory [RAM], and a graphics card made in the last two years
to enjoy these visual perks without slowing down your PC.)
✦ It’s fast: With a PC built within the last year or so, XP will perform better
than older versions of Windows — and that includes Windows 2000,
which was used as the foundation for XP.
✦ It’s easier to use: No downside here! Older versions of Windows made it
harder to take care of chores such as creating an Internet connection
and adding a printer to your system. The folks in Redmond have been
working overtime to help automate these processes.
✦ It supports the latest standards: Again, this is nothing but good. XP can
handle all the acronyms that you want (but might not yet know): MP3,
MPEG, JPEG, USB, Wi-Fi, DSL, and many more. (All those cryptic
escapees from a bowl of alphabet soup get explained in this book.)
Unlike older versions of Windows — which either don’t support the
latest technology at all or do require additional software to use — XP
has built-in support for today’s neatest toys.
✦ It’s harder to crash: Windows XP is descended from Windows 2000,
which in turn dates back to Windows NT — and all three are more crash
resistant and reliable than the Windows 95/98/Me crowd. XP also
includes better protection for system files; for example, you can set a
restore point that can be used as a backup if your system files are corrupted. Fewer crashes and better reliability mean that you can actually
get up from your PC for lunch without worrying whether it will still be
running when you return.
Shutting Things Down
67
How much space does Windows XP need?
On my desk is an original copy of Microsoft
Windows/286 — version 2.1 of Windows, which
dates back to the late ’80s and was designed for
80286-powered PCs. I keep it as a conversation
piece. The entire installation took a whopping
seven, low-density floppy disks, and only one
actually holds the operating system! (The other
six disks store applications, fonts, printer drivers, and such.)
Remember, however, that those figures don’t
include the extra hard drive territory that XP will
demand for things such as temporary files and
virtual memory, so it’s best to add another
500MB (or even 1GB) to those totals. With
today’s hard drives, a spare gigabyte of space
is easy to come by, so there’s no reason to feel
claustrophobic.
Shutting Things Down
After you install Windows XP, starting (or, as techno-types continue to call
it, booting) your PC is as easy as pressing the power switch. Some diagnostic
and troubleshooting options are available during the startup process, but I
cover those in detail in Chapter 5 of this mini-book. For now, just remember
the power switch.
There’s more to consider, however, when you’re ready to shut down
Windows XP. In this section, I discuss the five methods that you can use
to shut down XP partially or completely.
Shutting down completely
The first option is the full deal: turning off your PC completely. Choose
Start ➪Turn Off Computer, and XP displays the Turn Off Computer dialog
box that you see in Figure 1-1. Click the Turn Off button, and your PC will
(eventually) turn itself off.
Windows XP tries to be a friend by automatically closing any applications
that you’re currently running before it shuts down. However, if a program has
an open document or file that hasn’t been saved, the application is supposed
to prompt you to save your changes first. Note that I said supposed there:
Some misbehaving or badly written programs won’t prompt you before they
Book II
Chapter 1
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
Over the years, Windows has inflated like a
Macy’s Parade balloon on Thanksgiving Day.
Installing Windows XP Home will cost you at
least 1.5GB in hard drive space; if you choose
XP Professional, you need at least 2GB. (And
you can forget the floppies — Windows is only
available on CD-ROM now.)
68
Shutting Things Down
zap themselves out of existence, so don’t use the Turn Off or Restart options
unless you’ve manually saved all open documents (or you trust any application that’s open, such as Microsoft Word).
Figure 1-1:
What’ll
it be —
shutdown,
restart, or
standby?
Restarting your PC
Restarting your PC comprises shutting down Windows XP and then immediately turning it back on again. (Restarting is also called rebooting.) To restart
your computer, choose Start➪Turn Off Computer; from the Turn Off
Computer dialog box that appears, click the Restart button. You don’t
need to actually press the power button to turn your PC back on again.
Dame Windows, she can do it all.
You might need to restart when you install new software or upgrade existing
software. (You’ll typically see a dialog box that displays with a Restart
button.) I also recommend rebooting if your PC starts acting flaky — like
when error messages keep appearing, programs refuse to close, or strange
graphics appear on your desktop.
Using standby mode
Standby mode immediately puts your PC in a low-power mode: The monitor
goes black, and XP appears to shut down. However, you can return to your
work just as you left it by pressing one of the arrow keys on the keyboard
or moving the mouse. It’s rather like your monitor waking up from a screensaver snooze; it saves electricity and makes it easier to return to your work
“already in progress.” To go into standby mode, choose Start➪Turn Off
Computer; from the Turn Off Computer dialog box that appears, click the
Stand By button.
Shutting Things Down
69
Not all PCs support standby mode. Check your PC or motherboard manual
to see whether you can use this feature. If you can use XP’s standby mode,
you can also set your PC’s power switch to activate standby mode rather
than turning off the computer. Or your PC can go into standby mode automatically after a certain amount of inactivity. For more information, see
Chapter 6 in this mini-book.
Manually save your documents before putting your PC in standby mode
because putting your machine into standby mode does not save the files
that you’re working with to your hard drive. You’ll lose everything if your
PC is hit with a power failure, and you haven’t saved your documents.
Yes, your PC can hibernate
Like standby mode, your PC’s motherboard must support XP’s hibernation
mode. First enable hibernation mode: Open the Windows XP Control Panel,
choose Power Options, click the Hibernate tab in the dialog box that appears,
and then mark the Enable Hibernation Support check box. Click OK to save
your changes. When you want to put your machine in hibernation mode,
choose Start➪Turn Off Computer; then click the Hibernate button in the
Turn Off Computer dialog box that appears. (You can also set your PC to
automatically hibernate when a certain period of inactivity has passed, and
most laptops can be set to hibernate automatically when you close them.)
Logging off
Your final choice when leaving your PC is to log off. This leaves your PC
running, but others can log on to the PC if they enter a valid username and
password. Like a true shutdown, logging off an XP machine automatically
closes most applications and any open documents.
Windows XP keeps track of each different user’s account data and documents, so you can be assured that everything that you don’t want seen by
others remains private. Yet, if you want to share a document with other
users on your system, you can make use of shared folders that allow others
to open and edit your files. I go over multiuser operation in Chapters 4 and 6
of this mini-book, so don’t worry . . . all will become clear there.
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
Hibernation is a variation of standby mode that’s popular with laptop
owners. It takes longer for your PC to switch to hibernation mode or to
return from hibernation, but that’s because a snapshot of XP (including all
open applications and files) is saved to your hard drive. Unlike standby
mode, a power failure while your PC is hibernating won’t result in lost files!
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70
Your Windows XP Controls
To pass the computing torch to someone else, choose Start➪Log Off to display the Log Off dialog box and then click Log Off again.
Your Windows XP Controls
After you become an expert in starting and shutting down your PC, survey
the landscape of Windows XP. Here I show you what the various graphical
WUDs (short for Wondrous User Devices) represented on your desktop and
how you can use them to exercise your will within.
Icons
The first stop on your journey is the lowly icon . . . often jeered and often
the target of a string of impassioned and unprintable words. Yet, icons are
still the building blocks of today’s graphic user interfaces (GUIs; that’s a
10-cent synonym for operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, and
Linux, which all use a mouse). Believe me, icons will be around long after
you and I are no longer worried about PCs.
Icons look like a picture, and that’s no accident because they are simple representations of different locations and items on your computer. For example, Windows XP displays different types of icons to represent things such
as the following:
✦ Files and folders
✦ Programs that you can run
✦ Hardware such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives, and printers
✦ Internet connections
✦ Other computers on your home or office network
Figure 1-2 shows a gaggle of different types of icons in their natural environment. I go into much more detail about what you can do with icons in the
next two chapters of this mini-book. For now, just remember their versatility
and that they represent something else on your system besides a thumbnailsized picture.
That constantly changing cursor
Within Windows XP, your mouse cursor is more than just a focus for your
clicking finger — although that is its main use. When it’s not pointing the
way (depending on the desktop action that you’re performing or the application that you’re running), your cursor can also
Your Windows XP Controls
71
Book II
Chapter 1
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
Figure 1-2:
I have
always
depended
on the
kindness
of icons.
✦ Show status: Indicate that your PC is busy doing something, such as
loading a file or applying your last command.
✦ Show selection: Specify the text or graphics that you want to select (in
order to do something nefarious, I’m sure).
✦ Show location: Indicate a position in a document where you can move.
✦ Show file movement: Show that you’re copying or moving files between
locations on your system.
By the way, you can also click your right mouse button (right-click) when
your mouse cursor is resting atop something to display a pop-up menu that
includes commands that are specific to the item that you’re hovering over.
(To techno-nerds, the term for this pop-up is a contextual menu. Geez.) For
example, if you right-click a digital photograph that you’ve saved to your
hard drive, you can choose to preview it, edit it, or print it. Personally, I’m a
big fan of contextual menus because they usually contain everything that
applies to a particular file. Some programs, such as Paint Shop Pro, actually
add their own commands to the contextual menu.
72
Your Windows XP Controls
If you encounter a strange cursor shape or animation within a program that
you’re running, you can usually refer to the program’s manual to determine
what the heck your little friend is trying to tell you.
For even more interesting things that you can do with your mouse cursor,
check out Chapter 6 of this mini-book.
The Start menu
Another familiar face that you’ll see often in Windows XP is the Start menu,
as shown in Figure 1-3. Someone at Microsoft should get a steak dinner for
this one. The name actually fits the purpose because you can start virtually
every activity and task that your PC can perform from this one menu.
Figure 1-3:
The
invaluable
Start menu.
To use the Start menu, move your mouse cursor to the bottom of your desktop until the Start button appears at the lower-left corner. Click the Start
button to display the Start menu, move your cursor to the desired icon or
command, and then click.
Your Windows XP Controls
73
Highlights of the Start menu include
✦ The All Programs pop-up menu, where you can choose to run any
program that you’ve installed on your PC.
✦ The Recent Applications list on the left, which makes it easy to run
a program that you’ve used . . . well . . . recently.
✦ The My Documents menu, where you can load all sorts of documents
that you’ve created yourself or saved to your hard drive (such as
photos, videos, and music).
✦ The Control Panel, where you configure Windows XP to your
preferences. (Chapter 6 of this mini-book centers on the Control
Panel.)
✦ The Run command, which allows you to run a program by actually
(gasp!) typing its name.
✦ Access to your system printers and fax/modem.
✦ Access to your network locations, such as your Internet connection
and any home or office network that your PC can use.
I discuss all these controls in later chapters of this mini-book — but you’ve
got to admit that it’s really sassy to have all of ’em together in one place!
(Note, however, that your Start menu will look different from mine because
I customized mine to fit the way that I work, and I’ve also been running my
own set of programs.)
The taskbar
The next stop on the XP Express — no pun intended, but I’ll take it, anyway —
is the taskbar, which is that little strip of buttons and miniature icons that
runs along the bottom of the screen. Like the Start menu, the taskbar is
another great control that you can use to accomplish all sorts of things, and
it remains out of sight until you need it. (Depending on the settings that you
choose for your taskbar, it might remain hidden until you move your mouse
cursor to the bottom of the screen, see Figure 1-4.) I talk more about configuring the taskbar in Chapter 3 of this mini-book.
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
✦ The Search command, which can help you track down specific files,
folders, or locations within your system.
Book II
Chapter 1
74
Your Windows XP Controls
Figure 1-4:
The taskbar
revealed.
Start button
Buttons for open windows
Status area
Don’t worry if your taskbar doesn’t look like mine in the figure. The appearance of the taskbar varies according to the programs that you’re running
and the custom controls that you’ve added to it. In other words, the taskbar
is another of those controls that quickly becomes personalized to your
needs, depending on the programs that you install and the programs that
are currently running. The taskbar allows you to
✦ Switch quickly between applications that are running.
✦ Run the programs that you specify with a single mouse click.
✦ Control background programs that normally run hidden, such as
Norton AntiVirus.
✦ Control hardware such as your printer and modem.
✦ Connect and disconnect Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire
peripherals such as a digital camera and an external DVD recorder.
Your Windows XP Controls
75
✦ View the time and date.
✦ Access the Start menu.
You’ll find the full scoop on the taskbar in Chapter 3 of this mini-book.
Menus and toolbars
Here’s one more set of Windows XP common controls, which are found in
just about any program that you run because they’re part of Microsoft’s
grand user interface design standard. (Thus making all Windows programs
easier to understand and use, often without the need to refer to that ridiculous Web-based user manual.) Both of these common controls — menus and
toolbars — are shown in the multipurpose Figure 1-5.
Book II
Chapter 1
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
Figure 1-5:
Menus and
toolbars
abound
in the
Windows
world.
The miracle of menus
Menus are the drop-down secret to life itself. Each menu contains either a
group of similar commands or a group of commands that fall under the
same category. To use a menu, you can either
✦ Go mousing: Click the menu name and then click the command from
the list that appears.
✦ Go digital: Hold down the Alt key, press the underlined letter in the
menu name (a hot key), use your cursor keys to choose a command,
and then press Enter to use it.
76
Using Bill’s Funky Keys
For example, to open a file in virtually any Windows application, click the
File menu at the top of the window and then click Open from the drop-down
list that appears. Alternatively, while holding down the Alt key, press F (the
hot key for the File menu) and then press O (the hot key for the Open
menu).
Those tremendous toolbars
A toolbar is a collection of buttons that allows you to use the most common
menu commands in a program with a single click. Typically, toolbars appear
at the top of a program window, but many applications (such as Adobe
Photoshop, for example) either have floating toolbars that exist as separate
windows or have toolbars that can be resized and relocated anywhere in the
application window. Some applications will let you go even further. For
example, the toolbars in Microsoft Word can be customized with buttons
for the menu commands that you use the most.
To illustrate how easy it is to use a toolbar, consider opening a file. If the
application that you’re using has a File Open button on the toolbar, click it.
End of story. (The moral is: Toolbars rule!)
To display the name of a toolbar (which is usually all you need to identify it
or to jog your memory), leave your mouse pointer motionless on top of the
toolbar button for a moment or two. Such motionless conduct is called hovering among techno-types.
Using Bill’s Funky Keys
Not all Windows-specific controls are meant for your mouse. Thanks to the
Power of Bill, today’s PC keyboards come complete with additional keys
that are tied directly to Windows, so you can use your keyboard for navigation instead of your mouse. As any PC power user will tell you, the mouse
that can move faster and more efficiently than your fingertips hasn’t been
(and likely never will be) invented. Just wait until Bill gets those new letters
that he wants in the alphabet!
Most of the keys on your computer keyboard work like they do on standard
typewriters. For instance, pressing Shift in combination with another alphabetic key still creates a capital letter. PC keyboards, however, also sport
nifty special keys for navigation, functions, and (sometimes) Windowsspecific commands. For your reference, Figure 1-6 illustrates a typical
modern 104-key PC keyboard.
Using Bill’s Funky Keys
Esc
Figure 1-6:
The PC
keyboard . . .
still the
fastest
Windows
controller
around.
Function keys
F1
Esc
~
!
`
1
Tab
Caps
Lock
@
F2
#
2
3
Q
W
A
Shift
Crtl
$
4
5
&
6
7
T
F
C
F5
^
R
D
X
F4
%
E
S
Z
F3
V
F8
*
(
)
9
U
H
B
F7
8
Y
G
F6
I
J
N
K
M
Ctrl
Num Lock
F9
0
-
O
P
\
{
}
[
]
"
;
Enter
'
?
,
.
/
Alt
F12
Prnt
Scrn
SysRq
Scroll
Lock
|
=
:
L
F11
+
>
Windows keys
F10
_
<
Alt
77
Shift
Ctrl
Shortcut key
Pause
Num
Lock
Break
Insert
Home
Page
Up
Delete
End
Page
Down
Caps
Lock
Num
Lock
/
*
7
8
9
Home
PgUp
4
5
6
1
2
3
End
PgDn
0
.
Ins
Del
Scroll
Lock
-
+
Enter
Enter
Ah, the Windows keys — they rests snugly between the Alt and Ctrl keys on
both sides of the spacebar on your keyboard. You can press either of these
keys at any time to display the Start menu. Additionally, a number of other
keys can be used in combination with a Windows key. Just hold a Windows
(Win) key down and try one of the keys listed in Table 1-1.
Table 1-1
Windows Key Combinations
Sequence
Action
Win+D
Displays the Windows desktop (even with other programs running)
Win+E
Runs Windows Explorer, where you can manage your files
Win+F
Opens the Search/Find Files dialog box from which you can locate a
file or folder
Win+R
Opens the Run dialog box from which you can run a program by
typing its name
The Shortcut key
Remember how enamored I am of contextual menus? A quick poke at the
Shortcut key — which is located on the right side of the keyboard between
the Windows and Ctrl keys — will act as a right-click (displays a contextual
menu) when you’ve selected an icon anywhere in Windows. After the pop-up
menu appears, you can use your cursor keys and the Enter key to choose a
command.
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
The Windows keys
Book II
Chapter 1
78
Using the Windows XP Help System
Other PC-specific keys
These old friends have been around since the days of Genghis Khan — or at
least the beginnings of the IBM PC, whichever came first. Anyway, these
keys still come in quite handy in the Windows world.
✦ Enter: PC keyboards have two of these beauties: one above the Shift key
on the right side of the alphabetic keys and the other at the lower-right
of the numeric keypad. Within your word processor, of course, pressing
Enter creates a new paragraph. But elsewhere within Windows, pressing
Enter almost always starts a command or selects an item. (A friend of
mine still calls this the Submit key. He’s great fun at parties.)
✦ Escape (Esc): Press Esc (far upper-left on your keyboard), and you’re
jetted off to your favorite vacation spot with a ton of cash to spend and
your favorite movie star. (No, not really — although Bill is rumored to
be working on the new enhanced Escape key.) Actually, you use Esc to
back out of things. Pressing Esc can cancel many commands, close
some windows, and exit dialog boxes.
✦ Num Lock: Press this key (upper-left of the numeric keypad) to toggle
those keys between the numbers (great for spreadsheets and data
entry) and navigational keys (note the cursor arrow symbols on the
2, 4, 6, and 8 keys).
✦ Control (Ctrl) keys: These two keys (either side of the spacebar) are
used in conjunction with other keys for editing and keyboard commands within many applications. For example, pressing the combination Ctrl+B within Microsoft Word makes selected text bold.
✦ Function keys: These 12 sentinels across the top of your keyboard are
used for different purposes throughout Windows — and in many cases,
even within specific applications (hence the generic name). They’re usually abbreviated as F1 through F12.
Other keys on your keyboard will also have specific uses within every application. To become a power user of a certain application, consult that program’s Help system for the special keystrokes that it uses. You’ll zip through
documents while others plod along!
Using the Windows XP Help System
Speaking of help, I’m happy to say that Windows XP comes with the best
Help system that’s ever shipped with any version of Windows. It even has
online components that you can refer to for the latest information on
features (and the occasional bug). With the Help system, you can
Using the Windows XP Help System
79
✦ Locate specific help on nearly any topic.
✦ Follow task tutorials that guide you step by step through all sorts of
procedures (such as printing, troubleshooting, and updating Windows
with the latest patches).
✦ Search the Microsoft Windows XP newsgroups (with an Internet
connection).
✦ Scan tips and tricks from Windows experts (with an Internet connection).
✦ View the latest headlines on new XP features (with an Internet
connection).
Displaying Help
✦ Press F1 while on your desktop. Click anywhere on your desktop and
then press the F1 key to load the top-level Windows Help system
window that you see in Figure 1-7. (Check out that spiffy toolbar at the
top of that window!) Note: If you’re currently using a program, pressing
F1 will display the Help system for that program.
Figure 1-7:
The font of
all things
Windows —
the XP Help
system.
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
The two methods of displaying Help within Windows itself are
Book II
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80
Using the Windows XP Help System
✦ Click Help from the Start menu. This is yet another neat function of the
Start menu.
Searching for specific help
After the XP Help window is displayed, feel free to click any of the links (the
bolded words) to display the corresponding topic. However, you’ll usually
visit the Help system to search for specific help on a Windows feature or
command. To search for a word or phrase within Help, follow these steps:
1. Click within the Search box at the top of the Help window.
2. Type the word or phrase that you want to search for and then press
Enter.
The fewer words that you enter, the better the chance of getting a
match that will address your topic.
The Help system hums happily to itself for a few seconds and then displays the results page that you see in Figure 1-8. (I searched for the
phrase burning a cd in this example.)
Figure 1-8:
The results
of a typical
search
through the
Help
system.
Using the Windows XP Help System
81
3. To display the information in a topic, click the topic name (found in
the Search Results area).
Windows displays the information in a separate pane, as shown in
Figure 1-9, with all occurrences of your word or phrase highlighted so
that they’re easier to spot.
Some steps have links (look for underlined text), which you can click to
open the dialog box or window in question or run the program mentioned in the Help text. (This really makes it easy to fix something, especially when you don’t quite know where that one particular setting is
within the XP behemoth.)
To move backward through Help topics to where you started, click the Back
button on the toolbar at the top left of the Help window.
Book II
Chapter 1
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
Figure 1-9:
Your search
can provide
you with a
step-by-step
Help topic.
82
Using the Windows XP Help System
Some search results will return technical articles — consider them Tips for
Techno-nerds — that relate to the topic that you’ve found. Technical articles
can include bug fixes, workarounds, or just explanations of what precisely
is happening when you use a Windows feature. To display the technical articles for a topic, click the Microsoft Knowledge Base divider bar that appears
in the Search Results pane.
Yelling for assistance
If you can’t find what you’re looking for within the Help system, you can
turn to Microsoft for direct support. From the top-level Help menu (refer to
Figure 1-7), click the Get Support link (under the Ask for Assistance heading)
to display the Support window that you see in Figure 1-10. (You can also
click the Support button in the toolbar.)
Unless you have a very knowledgeable friend who has already mastered the
Remote Assistance feature of Windows XP, I strongly urge you to avoid using
the Ask a Friend for Help option. This involves your friend connecting to
your PC over the Internet and gaining control of XP . . . with all the possible
nastiness that entails. Personally, I recommend that you turn to Microsoft
support instead.
Figure 1-10:
Go to the
top for
support.
Using the Windows XP Help System
83
In the Support window, click the Get Help from Microsoft link — you’ll need
an Internet connection, of course, like any undertaking in the civilized world
these days — and then click the Ask a Microsoft Support Professional link
for help. Note that you’ll have to set up a Passport account, if you haven’t
already, but this is a free service and actually comes in handy when you’re
using instant messaging and surfing the Web. You can choose from nocharge assistance (where you’ll need to provide a Microsoft Product ID
number) or general assistance (currently $35 per incident). Depending on
the option that you choose, you might get a Web-based e-mail form or a realtime chat with a support representative.
Book II
Chapter 1
Shake Hands with
Windows XP
If you lost your Internet connection or you don’t have an e-mail address, naturally, you can also contact Microsoft for support by telephone . . . at least
for now. (Insert ominous chord here.) If you opt for phone support, you’ll
get two incident reports and installation support for free (not including the
cost of the toll call), but after that, Microsoft will charge you $35 for each
successive incident.
84
Book II: Windows XP
Chapter 2: The Many
Windows of Windows
In This Chapter
Managing windows
Recognizing icons
Selecting one (or many) icons
Using toolbars in Windows XP
D
oing things graphically is what Windows XP is all about. The idea of
visual control is at the heart of today’s graphic user interfaces (GUIs),
like Windows and Mac OS X (and Linux, when it’s wearing the right
makeup).
In this chapter, I introduce you to the graphical building blocks of Windows
XP. Plus, I show you the “antique” keyboard combinations that are even
faster than a speeding mouse. (Hey, any power user will tell you that
pressing a sequence of two or three keys is often faster than clicking!)
Managing Windows Means Productivity
What’s that on the horizon? Oh boy, it looks like another of those weighty
Mark’s Maxims:
Learn the Zen of the window and become a power user.
In this section, you do just that — and your efficiency and speed in XP will
amaze your friends and family. (And that’s what it’s all really about, right?)
Windows XP has a helpful feature that displays a short pop-up description
of the controls in a window. If this book isn’t handy, you can find out the
function of a button or widget by leaving your mouse pointer sitting motionless on top of the control in question. (Interesting trivia fact: This mouse
action is hovering.)
86
Managing Windows Means Productivity
Opening and closing windows
You rarely need to manually open a new window in XP, which is a trademark
of good design from the Redmond troop. XP will automatically open a
window when you
✦ Run Explorer (as shown in Figure 2-1). Just double-click the My
Computer icon on your desktop.
✦ Run most Windows applications. Some programs, however, run in the
background or don’t automatically create new document windows.
✦ Create a new document in a Windows application.
By default, the left portion of the Explorer window contains common tasks
and locations within XP. Personally, I prefer the older-style navigation tree
that you see in Figure 2-2, which dates back to previous versions of
Windows. To display this view, click the Folders button in the toolbar at the
top of the window . . . more on toolbars later in this chapter.
The Close button
Figure 2-1:
The most
common XP
window is
the Explorer
window.
Managing Windows Means Productivity
87
The Folders button
Book II
Chapter 2
The Many Windows
of Windows
Figure 2-2:
You can
navigate
through the
Explorer
window
quickly with
the Folders
view.
You will, however, need to close windows often to keep your desktop tidy
and to free up system resources for other things. To close a window, move
your mouse pointer over the Close button — the red button with an X at the
top-right corner of the window, as shown in Figure 2-1 — and then click the
left mouse button. Alternatively, you can usually choose File➪Close from the
window’s menu.
“But what if I have an open document in a window?” There’s a safety net in
place within any well-behaved Windows application (such as Word or
Photoshop, for example): The program will first ask you for confirmation
before it closes a window containing an unsaved document.
Scrolling windows
Suppose that you’re reading page one of a six-page document, and you
decide to jump ahead to page five — unfortunately, page five is nowhere in
view. (In the same vein, you could be using Explorer to navigate a hard drive
with dozens of folders, and the folder that you want is farther down within
that gaggle of folders.) How do you get to the item or the information that
you want to see?
88
Managing Windows Means Productivity
That’s the job of those unsung heroes, your scroll bars (as shown in Figure
2-3). To move through the contents of the window, just click in the area
above or below the scroll button or click the up and down buttons at the top
and bottom of the scroll bar. (Note: If your document is wider than the application window, you’ll get a horizontal scroll bar as well. It works the same
way, just moving the contents of the window to the left or to the right.)
To really move like the wind within a window (bad pun that I won’t repeat),
you can even click the scroll button and drag it. When you drag something,
you first click it — in this case, the scroll button — and then hold down the
mouse button while you move the mouse in the desired direction. You’ll find
more uses for dragging later in this chapter.
Up and down buttons
Scroll button
Figure 2-3:
Use scroll
bars to
easily view
a large
document
or display
lots of items.
Scroll button
Up and down buttons
Scroll bars
Managing Windows Means Productivity
89
Many applications allow you to scroll through the contents of a window
with your keyboard arrow (navigation) keys. And pressing the Page Up and
Page Down keys should move you an entire page at a time through the contents of a window.
Minimizing and restoring windows
Sometimes you want to keep a window open, but you don’t want it on your
desktop. For example, you might be checking a Web site in Internet Explorer,
and you need to copy a picture into a Word document. How do you get the
Internet Explorer window out of your way temporarily without closing it?
This is a job for the Minimize button, as shown in Figure 2-4.
Maximize button
Minimize button
Figure 2-4:
The window
control
buttons are
old friends
of any
power user.
The Many Windows
of Windows
Minimizing a window hides it. Well, more accurately, the window is stored as
a button in your taskbar at the bottom of the screen. To return the window
to its original glory, simply click the button in the taskbar. If you have a large
number of windows open, the taskbar might sprout its own set of scroll buttons so that you can actually scroll through the minimized windows within
the taskbar.
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Managing Windows Means Productivity
The XP taskbar also uses another trick if you have a large number of windows
open. Separate windows within a single application are grouped together as a
single taskbar button, but a number appears on the button label to indicate
that multiple windows are minimized from that program. You can click and
hold — place the mouse pointer atop the taskbar button and then press and
hold the mouse button — to display a pop-up menu of the different windows,
and then you can select the right window from the menu.
“So does a program continue to run when it’s minimized?” Good question.
Most do, but some applications will pause when minimized (such as games
or video players) and then restart when the window returns to the desktop.
Maximizing and restoring windows
If you’ve already guessed that maximizing a window is the opposite of minimizing it, pour yourself another soda as a reward! Maximizing a window
expands it to fill the entire screen, giving you plenty of elbow room to work
with. In fact, applications such as Microsoft Word will take advantage of a
maximized window by displaying as much of your document as possible,
using automatic word wrap.
If the window isn’t maximized, click the Maximize button once — it’s the
middle button in the group at the upper right, as shown in Figure 2-4. After
the window expands, the multitalented Maximize button turns into the
Restore button. When you click the Restore button, the window returns to
the original dimensions that it had before you clicked the Maximize button,
and that doggone button morphs back into the Maximize button again.
(“Ethel, make it stop!”)
Moving windows
When you need to move a window from one area of your desktop to another,
Windows XP is there for you. On a typical day, I end up juggling multiple
windows like the world’s worst circus clown. (Alternatively, you can buy a
larger monitor. Yeah, right.)
To move a window to another piece of desktop real estate, click and drag
the window’s title bar — that colored strip at the top of the window that displays the application or document name — and the entire window will
follow. When the window is in the right place, release the mouse button to
drop it.
To arrange multiple document windows within an application, choose
Window➪Arrange All, and the document windows line up in an orderly
fashion so that you can choose one.
Managing Windows Means Productivity
91
Resizing windows
A window can be resized to different dimensions as necessary — sorry, no
triangles, though. Simply move your mouse pointer over the lower-right
corner of the window or to one of the sides of the window until the mouse
cursor changes to an arrow icon. Then click and drag to move that window
in the indicated direction.
Switching windows
Figure 2-5:
The active
window is
the belle of
the XP ball.
Book II
Chapter 2
The Many Windows
of Windows
Although you can easily open 10 or 15 windows within your XP desktop,
keep in mind that only one window is actually active at once. And the active
window takes precedence, appearing on top of other windows, because it’s
the window that you’re currently viewing, editing, or using. Windows that
are currently open on your desktop — and not minimized — are inactive
windows. They’re dimmed (or shaded) to indicate that they’re currently
offline. (Note, however, that you can still copy or move files to an inactive
window, which I demonstrate in the next chapter of this mini-book.) You can
see both the active and several inactive windows in Figure 2-5; in this case,
Internet Explorer owns the lucky active window.
92
A Field Guide to Icons
To switch to a different window, you can
✦ Click anywhere within the desired inactive window.
✦ Move your mouse to the taskbar and click the desired application or
window button.
✦ Cycle through the open applications by holding down the Alt key and
repeatedly pressing Tab until the window that you want becomes active.
Note that you can still use a window’s Minimize, Maximize/Restore, and
Close buttons even when it’s inactive. Also, an application might continue to
run while its window is inactive.
A Field Guide to Icons
Here I begin my discussion of icons with a classic Greek comedy. (Those
readers familiar with my books will already know about my propensity for
vignettes.)
XP and The Iliad
(with apologies to Homer)
As the play opens, Hector is tussling with his new installation of XP. He’s
knee deep in an Explorer window that’s filled to the brim with icons.
Hector: “I want to run Microsoft Word! Which of these furshlugginer
little pictures stands for the program, and which of these are my documents? What do I double-click? Help!”
[Enter proud Odysseus, hero of the Trojan War and experienced XP power
user.]
Odysseus: “Do not panic, good Hector. You see, Microsoft Word has its
own program icon, and each Word document that you create uses the
Word document icon. The same is true for everything from Excel to
Adobe Acrobat.”
Hector: “So how do I learn which is which?”
Odysseus: “Read the manual that you got with the application or open
an Explorer window and look in the folder where you saved a document
from the application. Each software developer creates a unique program
A Field Guide to Icons
93
and document icon combination, but most of them are pretty self
explanatory.”
Hector: “Or I could eschew icons completely by running Word from the
Start menu, and then I can load the document that I want from Word’s
File menu, right?”
Odysseus: “That’s right, or you can even double-click the document
icon itself within that Explorer window, and it will automatically load
Word with that document.”
Hector: “Hey, bud, that’s in the next chapter. And where’s that Trojan
horse that I lent you?”
Odysseus: “Whoops . . . busted again. I’m out of here!”
In this section, I help Hector (and you) out by identifying each type of icon
and showing some common examples.
Don’t be afraid to right-click an icon to see its properties. Just put your mouse
pointer over the icon in question and press the right mouse button once,
which displays a pop-up contextual menu. Click Properties, and you can see
what application created a document — or, as XP calls it, opens with — as well
as other nifty stuff that I discuss at several points in later parts of this book.
Hardware icons
Only a select few hardware devices have their own icons in XP, but you’ll be
surprised at what does, including rather nebulous things such as network
and Internet connections. These hardware icons tend to hang out on your
desktop or in a top-level Explorer window.
Here’s a representative list of hardware that’s represented by XP as icons,
many of which are shown in Figure 2-6:
✦ Hard drives
✦ CD and DVD-ROM drives
✦ Printers
✦ Removable storage such as floppy drives, Zip drives, and portable
Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash drives
✦ External devices such as MP3 players and digital cameras
The Many Windows
of Windows
Fin
Book II
Chapter 2
94
A Field Guide to Icons
Figure 2-6:
A wellordered
passel of
hardware
icons.
In general, you can open, activate, or control a hardware device by doubleclicking its icon (depending on what type of hardware device it is). Find
more on this in appropriate spots later in this book.
Program icons
Because you already know about program icons (thanks to Hector and
Odysseus), I won’t go into much detail here. Double-clicking a program icon
runs the application from an Explorer window or your desktop, and a single
click will suffice from the Start menu.
Figure 2-7 illustrates a number of well-known program icons.
File icons
Technically, document icons are actually a subspecies of file icons, which
can represent any type of data file on the planet. Windows XP actually has a
couple of generic icons that it uses to represent files that it doesn’t recognize, so every file on your system — and I mean every file — can be represented by some kind of an icon.
A Field Guide to Icons
95
Book II
Chapter 2
The Many Windows
of Windows
Figure 2-7:
A number
of program
icons
caught on
camera.
Like a document icon, XP will attempt to open any data file that you doubleclick. If XP knows the application that created the file, the program runs
automatically to display the file. On the other hand, if XP doesn’t recognize
the file type, you get a dialog box that looks like Figure 2-8, where you can
choose to
✦ Instruct Windows XP to look for an updated file type list by using the
Web service (which requires an Internet connection).
✦ Select the program (from a list) that you want to use to load the file.
Figure 2-8:
Specify how
Windows
XP should
handle
unrecognized files.
96
A Field Guide to Icons
Figure 2-9 parades a selection of common file icons.
Figure 2-9:
File icons
that you
might meet
in Windows
XP.
Folder icon
Folders use the same icon, as shown in Figure 2-10. And as you already
know, a folder holds (and organizes) other items, which can include both
icons and subfolders.
Shortcut icons
Shortcuts are represented by unique icons. Although they look much like a
regular icon, a thorough examination will reveal a curved arrow at the
bottom of the image. (The phrase Shortcut to might also appear at the
beginning of the icon label.)
Think of a shortcut as a signpost or a link to another item within your XP
system. For instance, you can set up a shortcut to Norton Disk Doctor that
will run the program just as if you had clicked directly on the program icon
in the Start menu or had double-clicked the program icon in the Explorer
window.
A Field Guide to Icons
97
Book II
Chapter 2
However, because shortcuts only take up a few bytes of hard drive real
estate, they come in handy when you’re customizing your desktop or organizing a folder. This allows you to set up a program to be run from any folder
(without requiring that you dig down with Explorer). Too, a shortcut can be
easily tossed into the Recycle Bin after you’re finished with it because it’s
actually not a part of the original application.
In fact, many games and applications now offer to add a shortcut to your
desktop during installation, and I usually take ’em up on the offer. A desktop
shortcut is very convenient, and the software developer knows that you can
delete it quickly and easily if necessary. You can also move a shortcut to the
taskbar, which I cover later in this mini-book.
Because a shortcut is only a link to a program (or folder, or even a hardware
device), you can create multiple copies for different locations in your
system and still not waste a tremendous amount of hard drive territory. (A
friend of mine always creates a folder on his desktop with shortcuts to all
the documents and files relating to his latest project. That way, he can
immediately work on anything relating to that project and just delete the
folder with the shortcuts after the job is done.)
Never try to simply copy or move an application that you’ve installed in
XP from one folder to another. Not only is the application not likely to
work (because it can’t find any of its support files), but you also won’t be
able to use the Add and Remove Programs feature to uninstall the application later! (More on uninstalling software the right way later in the book.)
The Many Windows
of Windows
Figure 2-10:
The unsung
hero — the
common
folder icon.
98
A Field Guide to Icons
Instead, create a shortcut — which I demonstrate in Chapter 4 of this
mini-book — and move that shortcut to the desired location.
Figure 2-11 shows off a number of shortcut icons, along with their original
source icons.
Shortcut icons
Figure 2-11:
Shortcut
icons are a
great way to
organize
your stuff.
System icons
The final type of icons represents a system function or a system location
in Windows XP, such as My Computer, the Recycle Bin, or My Documents.
Most of these important icons can’t be moved or relocated — XP wants
them left where they are, thank you very much — but you can use them or
right-click them to display a context-sensitive pop-up menu. For example,
right-clicking the Recycle Bin displays a menu with a number of choices
that directly apply to deleted files.
I discuss these icons and what they represent in various spots throughout
the book (especially in Chapter 4 of this mini-book).
Selecting Icons
99
Selecting Icons
After you become familiar with icons, you might be wondering how you can
manipulate them. I go into more detail in the next two chapters of this minibook, but for now, you need to know how to select one or more icons: that
is, how to highlight the icon(s) that you want to use when performing the
next action (such as copying, moving, or deleting the selected icons).
I should note at this point that XP offers different ways to view the contents
of a folder, which I discuss later in this mini-book. For example, you can display icons in a list format as well. The methods of selecting icons, however,
do not change.
To select a single icon, click it once — you’ll notice that XP has highlighted
it to indicate that it has been selected. Figure 2-12 shows a highlighted single
icon in a window, along with other icons for comparison.
A selected icon
Figure 2-12:
One
selected
icon within
a window.
The Many Windows
of Windows
Selecting a single icon
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100
Selecting Icons
Selecting multiple contiguous icons by dragging
To select a group of icons that are next to each other, click your mouse in a
part of the window above and to the left of the first icon, and then drag the
mouse down to a spot below and to the right of the last icon that you want
to select. Figure 2-13 illustrates the selection box that Windows XP draws;
any icons within the box are selected and highlighted.
Selecting multiple contiguous icons by clicking
Another method of selecting a group of contiguous icons is to select the first
icon in the group by clicking it, holding down the Shift key, and then clicking
the last icon that you want to select. This method is especially handy when
viewing files in list mode, as you see in Figure 2-14.
Selecting multiple separated icons by clicking
Whoops, Figure 2-15 shows a number of selected icons that aren’t contiguous. How do you select them? In this case, click the first icon that you want
to select, hold down the Ctrl key — don’t stop holding it down — and then
click each additional icon that you want to select. After you select everything that you need, release the Ctrl key.
Figure 2-13:
Drag a box
around
multiple
contiguous
icons to
select them
all.
Selecting Icons
101
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The Many Windows
of Windows
Figure 2-14:
Select icons
in list view
with the
mouse and
keyboard.
Figure 2-15:
Select icons
that are in
different
neighborhoods.
To deselect an icon that you pick by mistake, click it again. Remember:
You must continue holding down the Ctrl key until you’ve finished selecting
what you want.
102
Using the Toolbar
Using the Toolbar
The final stop in the graphical Windows world — at least in this chapter —
is the toolbar. Most Windows applications now use toolbars; you can see in
Figure 2-1 that the Explorer window has its own toolbar. Each button typically replicates one of the application’s popular menu commands and performs the same function as if you had selected the menu command.
If you already know how to click a button in Windows, you know how to use
a toolbar: Just move your mouse pointer on top of the desired button and
click the left button once. Whoosh!
However, not all toolbars are stuck at the top of a window. For example,
check out Figure 2-16, which illustrates a favorite image editing application
of mine: Paint Shop Pro. Note that this application has toolbars across the
top and both sides of the screen, along with — gasp! — floating toolbars
that you can click and drag to wherever you like!
Figure 2-16:
Man, dig
those crazy
toolbars!
Using the Toolbar
103
Where am I going with this? Well, I’m suggesting that you read the manual
for an application thoroughly because often you’ll find that you can customize that application’s toolbars with just the commands that you want.
Why take up valuable space on that toolbar with a Print button if you don’t
have a printer? I show you how to customize toolbars in several spots
throughout the book, but for now, just enjoy using toolbars because they
can save you all kinds of time.
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The Many Windows
of Windows
104
Book II: Windows XP
Chapter 3: Windows XP Basics
In This Chapter
Starting an application
Exiting an application
Moving, copying, and deleting items
Creating new folders and renaming items
Recovering valuable stuff from the Recycle Bin
Using and configuring the Start menu
Working with printers
Using and configuring the taskbar
Terminating a misbehaving program
B
oot camp is over — now it’s time to discover some of the more
advanced tasks within Windows XP.
For example, no PC owner can ever hope to become a power user without
becoming good friends with both the Windows XP Start menu and the XP
taskbar. You need to know how to run programs, whether they’ve been
installed and appear on the Start menu, or whether you have to track ’em
down and run them from your hard drive or CD-ROM drive.
Files and folders need to be copied, moved, or removed; deleted files need
to be permanently erased (or recovered, in case of an accident); and new
folders need to be created while you’re using your PC. You might need to
change printer settings, shut down a program that’s no longer responding,
or locate another computer on your local network with the shared file that
you have to copy to your hard drive. All these tasks are basic, yet a surprising number of PC owners are in the dark about these basics — they still
know only one way to exit a program, or they aren’t aware that you can
change the characteristics of a printer by just right-clicking it and choosing
Printer Preferences!
That’s what this chapter is all about — delving into the different methods of
taking care of basic tasks within Windows XP. Here you find how to handle
all these tasks and more!
106
Running Applications from the Start Menu
I even show you how to format a floppy disk — because of contractual
obligations.
Running Applications from the Start Menu
First things first: XP becomes a lonely place indeed if you can’t run any
applications. To run a program from the Start menu, follow these steps:
1. Move your mouse pointer to the bottom-left of the screen and click
the Start button on the taskbar.
Or, if you have a keyboard with Windows keys, press one of them to display the Start menu. (Your keyboard probably has two of these critters.
Just look on either side of the Alt keys, which are on either side of the
spacebar. The Windows keys look like the fluttering Windows flag.)
Figure 3-1 illustrates the Start menu and taskbar. Any applications that
you’ve recently used will probably appear in the Recent Applications
list on the left side of the Start menu.
Figure 3-1:
The Start
menu and
taskbar —
truly a
Dynamic
Duo.
Running Applications from Your Hard Drive
107
2. To run a recently used application again, click the application name,
and dance around the room because you were able to do things The
Convenient Way.
3. If the program doesn’t appear on the Recent Applications list, click
All Programs.
Whomp! XP displays all the applications that you’ve installed on your
PC in a cascading (another term for “rather hard to manage sometimes”)
list. Program groups (think of them as subfolders) are displayed as
menu items with arrows at the end of their names, whereas individual
applications are stuck at the end.
4. Move your mouse pointer carefully to the program group that
contains the application you want to run — it will display yet another
pop-up menu.
Sooner or later, you’re going to track down the doggone program that
you want, so be patient. (I’ve actually seen program groups that have
two or three subfolders!) If the program appears by itself at the end of
the All Programs menu, you can rejoice.
5. Click the application name to run it.
Many software developers include supplementary programs with the actual
application, like utilities, game editors, and the like. That’s nice of them —
but unfortunately, those additional application icons can get kind of confusing, so make sure that you’re clicking the Real Deal to avoid embarrassment
(and the hassle of exiting a program that you didn’t want to run in the first
place).
Running Applications from Your Hard Drive
Often you’ll want to run a program from the forested undergrowth that is
your hard drive. Perhaps you’ve downloaded a program from the Web, or
you’re running a shareware application that doesn’t install itself in the All
Programs menu. Follow these steps:
1. Double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop to open the
Explorer window (behold it in Figure 3-2).
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If you’ve recently installed a number of programs, they might appear
loitering at the end of the All Programs menu. You can arrange everything in alphabetized order again by right-clicking anywhere in the All
Programs menu and then choosing Sort by Name from the pop-up menu
that appears.
108
Running Applications from a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM
Figure 3-2:
Running a
program
from the
Explorer
window.
2. Double-click the hard drive that contains the program that you want
to run.
If necessary, continue clicking folders and subfolders until you see the
desired application. This, good reader, is navigating, and I do a lot of
navigating in this book!
3. Double-click the application icon to run it.
Running Applications from a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM
By default, Windows XP loves to be helpful. So usually when you load an
application’s CD-ROM into your drive to install the program, XP automatically runs the installation program for you. However, from time to time, you
might need to venture onto Planet Optical and run a program directly from a
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. Follow these steps:
1. Press the button on your CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive to eject the tray;
load the disc (shiny side down) and press the button again to retract
the tray.
If the application’s installation menu appears, just click the Close button
or click Exit/Quit to shoo it away.
Exiting a Program
109
2. Double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop to open the
Explorer window.
3. Double-click the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive that contains the desired
application.
If necessary, navigate to the location of the program by double-clicking
any folders and subfolders. (See? I told you that you’ll be navigating XP
all the time!)
4. Double-click the application icon to run it.
Exiting a Program
To shut down a program, use one of the following methods:
✦ Click the Close button (the big X) at the top-right corner of the
window.
✦ Choose File➪Exit.
✦ Press Alt+F4. This doesn’t work on all programs, but many still honor
the old Exit keyboard shortcut.
If you haven’t saved any open documents and you try to exit an application,
most Windows programs will prompt you for confirmation so you won’t lose
your stuff by accident — as shown in Figure 3-3, where I’m trying to exit
Word without saving this chapter. No, Mark, don’t do it!
Figure 3-3:
Word won’t
allow you to
exit without
considering
open files.
Windows XP
Basics
After you perform whatever magic you need within an application, I recommend exiting the program. Of course, you can leave it running, like a Web
browser, but most of the time, you’ll avoid slowing down your PC’s performance by closing unnecessary applications. (Even when you’re not directly
using a program, Windows XP spends processor time and memory keeping
it ready for you.)
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Putting Your Files in Order
Where the @#&! is the @#&! Alt+F4 key?
If you’re scanning your PC’s keyboard in vain for
the Alt+F4 key, you should stop now: There is no
single key named that on any keyboard. Instead,
Alt+F4 stands for a key sequence — it’s actually
two keys pressed together. When you see two
keys conjoined by a plus sign, press the first key
and hold it while pressing the second key. For
example, if I tell you to press the sequence
Ctrl+C (which copies a selection), I’m asking
you to hold down the Ctrl key while you press
the C key. After you press the C key, you can
release the Ctrl key.
Most Windows XP sequences use one of three
keys as the first key: Alt, Shift, or Ctrl. You can
press the specified key on either side of the
keyboard, so lefties might press the Shift key
that’s under the Enter key. It’s all gravy to XP. In
fact, most PC owners are familiar with the Ctrl+C
(copy), Ctrl+X (cut), and Ctrl+V (paste) sequences.
Some rare key sequences involve three keys:
The first two keys are held down while you
press the third one. The most famous three-key
sequence, of course, is the infamous Three
Finger Salute — the legendary Alt+Ctrl+Delete
sequence that would reboot a PC running DOS.
In Windows XP, applying the Three Finger
Salute displays the Windows Task Manager,
which I discuss a bit more later in this chapter.
Putting Your Files in Order
Next, consider how you’ll manage files in Windows XP. You can use the
Explorer window to take care of your chores, as you’ll see in this section.
You can find file management alternatives to Windows Explorer. One of my
favorites is Total Commander (shown in Figure 3-4), which is a popular $30
shareware favorite for many years now. Total Commander is list based, so
you see and select more than the traditional icon view in Explorer. (I show
you how to switch views in the next chapter of this mini-book.) You can
download a copy to try out from www.ghisler.com.
Copying and moving stuff
To copy selected files and folders from one Explorer window to another —
or to the desktop or to a drive — you can use one of these methods:
✦ Click the selected items and drag them from one Explorer window to
the destination Explorer window. Of course, this requires you to open
two Explorer windows, but that’s life in the big XP. Also, note that in
order to copy from one location on a drive to another location on the
same drive, you must hold down Ctrl while you drag. Otherwise,
Windows XP assumes that you want to move the items instead. (If
Putting Your Files in Order
111
you’re copying something from Drive C to a location on Drive D, you
don’t have to hold down the Ctrl key.) You can always tell when you’re
copying something with the mouse because XP adds a small plus sign
(+) to the items while you drag.
✦ Right-click the selected items and drag them to their destination.
IMHO (short for In My Humble Opinion on the Internet), this is always
the better choice than copying with the left mouse button. Why? Well,
you don’t have to hold down Ctrl — Windows XP pops up a menu when
you release the mouse button and asks whether you want to copy or
move the file. Much more civilized, don’t you think?
✦ Choose Edit➪Copy from the Explorer menu, click in the destination
Explorer window, and then choose Edit➪Paste. From the keyboard,
you can press Ctrl+C to copy or Ctrl+V to paste.
Figure 3-4:
Total
Commander
is a great
alternative
to Explorer.
Windows XP
Basics
✦ Click Copy This File/Folder from the Explorer Task pane. XP displays
the Copy Items dialog box that you see in Figure 3-5; navigate to the destination and then click the Copy button. If you like, you can create a new
folder first. Remember, click the plus signs (+) to expand drives and
folders or click the minus signs (–) to contract them. From the menu,
choose Edit➪Copy to Folder to display the Copy Items dialog box.
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Putting Your Files in Order
Figure 3-5:
Preparing to
copy a file
via the
Explorer
window
Task pane
method.
To move selected items, use one of these methods:
✦ Right-click the selected items and drag them to their destination.
Again, my favorite — release the mouse button and choose Move from
the pop-up menu that appears.
✦ Choose Edit➪Move from the Explorer menu, click in the destination
Explorer window, and then choose Edit➪Paste. From the keyboard,
you can press Ctrl+X to cut or Ctrl+V to paste.
✦ Click Move This File/Folder from the Explorer Task pane. The Move
Items dialog box looks just like the Copy Items dialog box that I mention
earlier, and it works the same way.
If you attempt to copy or move files that already exist in the target folder
or drive, Windows XP will prompt you for confirmation before overwriting
anything.
If you need to reverse direction when navigating — for example, if you click
one subfolder too many and now you need to return to the previous folder —
don’t forget about the Back button on the Explorer toolbar, which functions
just like the Back button in Internet Explorer. (The Back button resides in the
upper-left corner of the Explorer window.)
Putting Your Files in Order
113
Creating a new folder
Creating new folders is the cornerstone to good organization in Windows XP.
Dumping everything in your My Documents folder is a bad idea because it
will rapidly resemble a sold-out rock concert (complete with additional files
struggling to get in).
To create a new folder within the current location in Windows Explorer, use
one of the following methods:
✦ Choose File➪New➪Folder. Explorer adds the new folder icon and also
opens a text box underneath it in which you can type the folder name.
✦ Click Make a New Folder from the Explorer Task pane.
Deleting stuff with mouse and keyboard
Kinda sounds like “Deleting Stuff with Moose and Squirrel,” don’t you think?
(Boy, howdy, sometimes I turn into a real laugh riot. Usually when I’ve had
very little sleep.) Anyway, if you need to delete unnecessary files or folders
from your system, Windows Explorer can handle that as well.
Use your mouse to select the items that you want to trash and then choose
File➪Delete. Alternatively, you can right-click the selected items and then
choose Delete from the pop-up menu that appears. If you’re into dragging
things, you can drag an item from the desktop or an Explorer window and
drop it on top of the Recycle Bin.
From the keyboard, just select the unwanted items and press Delete. It
doesn’t get any easier than this, folks.
Deleted stuff gets whisked away to the Recycle Bin — but that stuff may not be
permanently deleted quite yet. (More on your Recycle Bin later in the chapter.)
Displaying properties
You might want to display an item’s Properties dialog box for an item for a
number of reasons:
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Windows XP
Basics
✦ Right-click any open spot in the Explorer window and then choose
New➪Folder from the pop-up menu that appears. Note that I said open
spot — if you happen to right-click an icon or control, you’ll get a completely different pop-up menu, so pick an unoccupied parcel of territory.
114
Putting Your Files in Order
✦ If it’s a shortcut, you might want to find the location of the original file.
✦ If it’s a folder, you can see how much total space the folder uses and
how many files it contains.
✦ If you’re displaying a drive’s properties, you can see how much free
space the drive has left, or you can scan it for errors and then defragment it. (More on scanning and defragmenting in Chapter 5 of this
mini-book.)
Here’s the point: Every item on your XP desktop and in an Explorer window
has a Properties panel, and the contents change depending on what the
item is. Throughout the rest of the book, I show you how to use the
Properties settings for all sorts of items.
To display the properties for an item, right-click it and then choose
Properties from the pop-up menu that appears. For example, Figure 3-6 illustrates the properties for my drive C.
Figure 3-6:
Displaying
the
Properties
dialog box
for a hard
drive.
Renaming items
You have four ways to rename an item in an Explorer window. Here’s the
first half of the process (telling XP what it is that you want to rename).
Emptying the Recycle Bin
115
✦ Click the item once, pause a second or two, and then click again.
Unfortunately, this takes a bit of experience to do reliably.
✦ Click the item to select it and then press F2.
✦ Right-click the item and then choose Rename from the pop-up menu
that appears.
✦ Click the item to select it and then click Rename This Item from the
Task pane.
Regardless of which method you use, XP opens a text entry box with the
current name. To delete the current name completely, just type the new
name. To use a portion of the original name, click in the text box and use
your cursor keys and the Delete key to remove the unwanted characters.
“Mom, where do we empty the recycled files?” Techno-nerds still chuckle
about “recycled” ones and zeroes, but the XP Recycle Bin is a popular spot
on your desktop, and you’ll eventually have to empty it. (You can tell
whether it’s holding deleted items because a discarded document
suddenly pops up in the bin.)
To delete the contents of the Recycle Bin, right-click it and then choose
Empty Recycle Bin from the pop-up menu that appears.
Windows will eventually delete older items from the Recycle Bin
automatically — or when you use the Disk Cleanup Wizard. However,
you’ll free up space every time that you empty the Recycle Bin, and sometimes that extra space can come in very handy on a drive that’s filled to
the brim.
By default, Windows will prompt you for confirmation before deleting your
trash. If you feel that such clucking is overdoing things and you want to
banish this file deletion confirmation, right-click the Recycle Bin and choose
Properties to display the settings that you see in Figure 3-7. (If you’re wondering how my Recycle Bin got its name, I use Symantec’s Norton Utilities,
which includes the Norton Protected Recycle Bin — and it allows you to
name your Recycle Bin whatever you like.) Click the Global tab and then
clear the Display Delete Confirmation Dialog check box to disable it.
Windows XP
Basics
Emptying the Recycle Bin
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Recovering Items from the Recycle Bin
Figure 3-7:
Turning off
that darned
file deletion
dialog box.
Recovering Items from the Recycle Bin
Here’s a feeling that we’ve all shared from time to time: You suddenly realize
that you just dropped your Great American Novel into the XP Recycle Bin by
mistake. (Hint: If you back up your files on a regular basis, you won’t panic
nearly as much as the poor PC owner who has never backed up.)
However, there’s still a chance that you can recover from your mistake and
recover that orphaned Word document from the Recycle Bin! (The quicker
that you try a rescue after you realize the error, the better; read on to discover why.) Follow these steps:
1. Double-click the Recycle Bin to display its contents.
2. Select the item(s) that you want to restore.
3. Click Restore the Selected Items from the Recycle Bin window Task
pane. Alternatively, you can right-click a single item and then choose
Restore from the pop-up menu that appears.
The Recycle Bin is great, but it’s not a perfect solution because Windows XP
might use the space taken up on your hard drive by a deleted item to store
new data, which will make restoration impossible. That’s why I recommend
that you restore a deleted item as soon as possible — I try to do it immediately after I catch my mistake.
Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
117
Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
Ready to disassemble the Start menu? That’s what this section is all about:
helping you gain control of the ungainly (yet extremely useful) Start menu
and customizing it for your specific needs. (I won’t be discussing the My
Documents folder here because I cover that in the next chapter of this
mini-book.)
Tossing the Recent Applications list
You can read how to use the Recent Applications list at the beginning of this
chapter, but if security is an issue, you might want to disable it. After all,
does your boss really need to know that you recently played Tetris,
Dungeon Siege, and DOOM III? I think not.
1. Right-click the Start button and then choose Properties from the popup menu that appears.
This displays the Task Bar and Start Menu Properties dialog box that
you see in Figure 3-8.
2. Click the Customize button to display the dialog box that you see in
Figure 3-9.
Figure 3-8:
Yep, the
Start button
has its own
Properties
dialog box.
Windows XP
Basics
To disable the list, follow these steps:
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Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
Figure 3-9:
Customizing
the Start
menu
begins here.
3. Click in the Number of Programs on Start Menu box and type a zero.
While you’re here, you can specify large or small icons for the Start
menu and also toggle the display of Internet and e-mail items on the
Start menu. (If you do decide to enable the Internet and/or E-mail check
boxes, you can click their respective drop-down list boxes to choose the
applications that will run when you click the menu items.)
4. Click OK and then click OK again.
Using the Run item
You can run any application from the Run item on the Start menu. Just click
Run, and you’ll see the dialog box shown in Figure 3-10.
Figure 3-10:
Run
programs
from here.
Click in the Open text box and type the actual filename of the application
that you want to run; or, you can click the Browse button to navigate to the
application. If you’ve recently used the Run dialog box to start the same
application, click the arrow at the right side of the Open drop-down list box
and choose that application from the list.
Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
119
When the filename appears in the Open box, click OK to run it.
When you’re using the Run dialog box, remember that the name of the program you want to run might not be the same as the actual application filename — and you must enter that actual application filename! For example,
you can run Microsoft Word from the Run dialog box, but entering word or
word.exe will result in an error. In fact, the filename that you need to enter
is winword.exe.
Accessing printers and faxes
This is also the place for changing the settings provided by your printer manufacturer’s XP driver. For example, you can likely change the print quality, and
perhaps you can clean your inkjet’s print nozzles or check on your ink levels.
Right-click the desired printer icon and then choose Printing Preferences to
see what you can change. What you see depends on your printer manufacturer. In Figure 3-12, which illustrates the Printing Preferences dialog box for
my HP PhotoSmart inkjet printer, is an example of what you might see.
Figure 3-11:
My Printers
and Faxes
window.
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To add a printer or install fax support, choose the Printers and Faxes item
from the Start menu. Your Printers and Faxes window will likely contain different printers than mine does in Figure 3-11, but the items in the window’s
Task pane will be the same. (Read more about installing fax support in the
next chapter of this mini-book.)
120
Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
Figure 3-12:
Display the
preference
settings for
your inkjet
printer.
To choose your default printer throughout XP, right-click the desired printer
and then choose Set as Default Printer. Windows XP adds a check mark
symbol to the printer’s icon to indicate that it is the default printer.
Note that XP also displays several advanced printer settings on a printer’s
Properties dialog box, including printer sharing (which I cover in Book VIII)
and color management for color printers.
Windows applications are likely to use one of three different methods to
print:
✦ Choose File➪Print.
✦ Click the Print icon on the program’s toolbar.
✦ Press Ctrl+P.
To display (and control) pending printing jobs, click a printer to select it
and then click the See What’s Printing item (assuming that you’re printing
something) of the Printers and Faxes window Task pane. This displays the
dialog box that you see in Figure 3-13, which lists details about the pending
printer jobs. You can pause all your print jobs on the selected printer by
choosing Printer➪Pause Printing; to restart the printer, click the Pause
Printing menu item again. (If your printer is on a network, you need
Administrator rights to pause all print jobs.)
Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
121
Figure 3-13:
View, pause,
and cancel
print jobs
here.
To pause a single print job, click the desired job in the list and then choose
Document➪Pause. To resume printing, click the desired job in the list and
then choose Document➪Restart.
Click My Network Places (on your desktop) to open shared folders on other
networks (including File Transfer Protocol [FTP] servers on the Internet).
From here, you can
✦ Open a network place for moving, copying, or opening documents.
Just double-click the network icon to open it.
✦ Add a new network place. Click this item in the window’s Task pane to
run the Add a Network Place Wizard, which will walk you through the
short process of creating a new icon in the My Network Places window.
✦ View network connections. This item displays all the available network
connections recognized by Windows XP (as shown in Figure 3-14); note
that all these connections might not be active at this moment. (For
example, I have two FireWire IEEE 1394 ports on my main Windows XP
machine, but I’m not using either of them on a FireWire network. XP
doesn’t care — it displays them anyway.) You can also display the properties of a network connection from this window by right-clicking the
connection icon.
✦ Set up a network. XP actually makes setting up a network as easy as
possible. I explain the entire procedure in Book VIII, Chapter 2.
✦ View workgroup computers. Click this Task pane item to see the other
computers assigned to the same workgroup as you on your local
network.
I refer to many of these network Task pane items throughout later chapters
of the book, so remember how you got here.
Windows XP
Basics
Working with your network
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122
Putting the Start Menu through Its Paces
Figure 3-14:
Hey, I know
those
network
connections!
Configuring the Start menu
I’m not quite ready to leave the Start menu yet — at least, not until I discuss
the Advanced panel of the Customize Start Menu dialog box. (Remember
from earlier in the chapter?) Right-click the Start button, choose Properties,
choose Customize, and then — finally! — click the Advanced tab to display
the settings that you see in Figure 3-15.
From here, you can modify a number of features of the Start menu:
✦ Open submenus: If you’d rather click a submenu in the All Programs list
instead of watching them pop up and down like crazed frogs, disable
this check box.
✦ Highlight Newly Installed Programs: This feature displays programs
that you’ve just installed with a highlighted band in the All Programs
list. If you have a huge number of installed programs, enable this check
box, and you’ll be able to locate that new application much more easily.
Handling the Taskbar
123
✦ Start Menu Items: This scrolling list allows you to specify what you
want shown on the Start menu and whether certain items should be
shown as a link (which opens a separate window) or as a menu.
✦ Recent Documents: Remember the Recent Applications list? The Recent
Documents list works the same way, only it contains recently opened
documents rather than recently used programs. Again, if you’re worried
about your security (or your reputation) and you don’t want others to
know what you’re doing, you can disable the list entirely.
Book II
Chapter 3
Windows XP
Basics
Figure 3-15:
Putting the
whammy to
the Start
menu
settings.
Handling the Taskbar
Yep, it’s yet another XP control. This time, I’m talking about the taskbar,
which is that loyal strip of screen real estate that appears at the bottom of
the screen — or at the side, or the top. (More on this in a second.) In this
section, I tell you more about the often-neglected taskbar.
Switching programs
The primary use of the taskbar — and one that’s been around since
Windows 95 — is to allow you to easily switch between the windows of the
programs that you’re running. You can switch between programs by clicking
your mouse pointer on the taskbar button for the program that you want
to use.
124
Handling the Taskbar
Shhh . . . there’s also another method of switching programs that doesn’t
use the taskbar — and since we’re on the topic, I’ll tell you about it here.
You can press Alt+Tab to move between the programs that you’re running.
To step through the programs, hold down Alt while you press Tab repeatedly, and you’ll advance through your programs like Tiny Tim tiptoeing
through the tulips.
Controlling the notification area
Next on the Taskbar Hit Parade is the notification area — that’s the far right
end of the taskbar, as shown in Figure 3-16. Most of these icons represent a
program that’s running. In the figure, for example, you can see the tiny
Norton AntiVirus computer icon and my PowerStrip icon (which looks like a
tiny monitor), which indicate that these programs are running. However,
you can also see the Volume icon (which you can click to set your PC’s
volume or mute sound altogether) as well as my laser printer icon.
Figure 3-16:
Your
taskbar,
your friend.
Quick Launch icons
Dimple handles
Program buttons
Notification icons
So what did you glean here? (“Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?”) Not everything in
the notification area is a program; rather, the icons that appear there indicate (or notify you about) things that are available and things that are currently happening on your PC. You can, however, right-click most notification
icons to display pop-up menus. Typically, the menu allows you to control
whatever program or feature the notification icon represents (including the
ability to close or exit, if the icon represents a program that’s running).
If you see an arrow pointing to the left at the end of your notification icons,
XP is hiding the icons that you haven’t used recently to make more room for
program buttons. To see these hidden icons, click the arrow.
Don’t need the clock in the notification area? Then right-click in any open
space on the taskbar, choose Properties, and clear the Show the Clock
check box (as shown in Figure 3-17) to disable it.
Handling the Taskbar
125
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Adding Quick Launch icons
At the left end of the Taskbar — next to the Start button — you’ll find the
Quick Launch icons, which are probably the least-appreciated icons within
Windows XP. You can right-click and drag any program icon, file icon, or
folder icon down to the Quick Launch area, release the mouse button, and
then choose Create Shortcut. From that point on, clicking the icon in the
taskbar runs the application, opens the document, or opens the folder.
Naturally, your space on the Quick Launch portion of the Taskbar is limited,
so I recommend that you add only the programs, folders, and items that you
use the most. I even added the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel icon to
my Quick Launch buttons. It’s easy to right-click and drag any Control Panel
icon to the taskbar when you configure the Control Panel as a menu, as I
show you in Chapter 6 of this mini-book.
“Hey, I can’t put anything on the Quick Launch area!” That’s probably
because the taskbar is currently locked, which prevents anyone (including
you) from inadvertently dragging a Quick Launch icon off to the desktop or
from making any changes to the dimensions or location of the taskbar.
Right-click anywhere on the taskbar itself (and not on an icon or control),
Windows XP
Basics
Figure 3-17:
Displaying
the Taskbar
properties.
126
Handling the Taskbar
choose Lock the Taskbar to unlock things, and then try again. After you’re
done arranging the taskbar as you like it, it’s a good idea to lock it again.
If you don’t need the Quick Launch area of the Taskbar, you can reclaim that
space from the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box. Right-click
any open part of the taskbar, choose Properties, and then clear the Show
Quick Launch check box to disable it.
Configuring the taskbar
Would you rather have your taskbar on the left or right side of the XP desktop? How about at the top of the desktop? No problem. First, make sure that
the taskbar is unlocked; then click in the center of the bar and drag it to any
other side of the screen. (Check out Figure 3-18.)
Figure 3-18:
Whoa! For
those who
gravitate to
the right. . .
Terminating a Program with Prejudice
127
While the taskbar is unlocked, you can also
✦ Expand it by clicking the edge closest to the desktop (where the thin
strip appears) and dragging it up.
✦ Resize the Quick Launch and notification areas by clicking the
dimpled handles on the taskbar and dragging them.
✦ Swapping the default locations of the Quick Launch and program buttons by dragging the dimpled area to the left of the Quick Launch area
to the right of the second dimpled line.
Terminating a Program with Prejudice
Sometimes a program just decides to misbehave. At least things are better
in Windows XP than they were in Windows 98 or Me, where one locked program was likely to lock the entire machine. In XP, you should be able to
force a nonresponsive program to quit without losing any open files or
having to restart your PC — although I always save my files in the other
applications, just in case!
To force a locked program to terminate, follow these steps:
1. Press Alt+Ctrl+Delete to display the Task Manager and then click
the Applications tab, as shown in Figure 3-19.
2. Click the name of the application that’s causing the problems.
It will usually be marked Not Responding in the Status column.
3. Click the End Task button to initiate the terminate sequence.
Note: It might take several seconds for the terminated program to disappear, or you might need to repeat this step two or three times to force
termination.
XP displays a dialog box saying that the program will not shut down
properly.
Book II
Chapter 3
Windows XP
Basics
Now that you see how easy it is to alter the taskbar, you’ll understand the
necessity of locking it! Don’t forget to batten down the hatches after you
have things just as you want them. When the taskbar is locked, the dimpled
handles disappear, and the strip along the desktop edge of the taskbar disappears as well.
128
Formatting a Floppy Disk
Figure 3-19:
Control the
Task
Manager,
and you
control XP.
4. Click the End Now button.
The program will disappear from the Applications list.
5. Click the Close button to close the Task Manager.
By the way, you can also restart and shut down Windows XP from the Task
Manager. Click the Shut Down menu to see these choices. To see who’s
logged in to your machine — either locally or remotely — click the Users
tab, where you can also disconnect or log off any undesirables.
Formatting a Floppy Disk
I’d rather you not. Honestly. Let me tell you my story.
Several years ago, I lost an irreplaceable document that was very near and
dear to my heart. The floppy that it was stored on gave up the ghost, and I
was left a broken man (for at least half a day). It was then that I embarked
upon a sacred mission to banish the floppy disk from my PC . . . and from
the PCs of all those who would heed my call:
✦ Those who have also lost valuable data to the vagaries of the Plastic
Pretender, where data can be readable one second and unreadable the
next
✦ Or those who have realized that practically nothing fits within 1.44MB of
space any longer
Formatting a Floppy Disk
129
✦ Or those who have encountered the recalcitrant floppy that will read
perfectly well on one PC and stubbornly refuse to be read on another
✦ Or those who need compatibility between PCs and Macs
✦ Or those who are sick and tired of that grinding sound and the slow
transfer rate of that prehistoric magnetic media
For an entire decade, I have carried on this fight in every book that I’ve written. Here’s your chance to join me. Just repeat the following chant:
“Begone, floppy! Leave my sight! I banish you forever to the Land of Old
Technology. As it is written, so shall it be done.”
USB drives are fast, too, with transfer rates up to 12 Mbps. The new USB 2.0
Flash drives will really rock, offering transfer rates of up to 480 Mbps! My
USB 1.0 Flash drive has 32MB of storage space and cost $30, but you can get
a drive with up to 512MB of storage for a mere $250. All hail the new King of
Personal Storage!
To sum up, a classic Mark’s Maxim:
With a Flash drive, you’ll never lose a document to a floppy again.
Aw, geez, my editors say I have to tell you how to format a floppy. Something
about a contract that I purportedly signed. Okay, it’s your data’s funeral, not
mine. Floppy disks (like Zip disks and hard drives) must be formatted before
they can (unreliably) store any data; this prepares the magnetic surface of
the disk to hold stuff.
Load the floppy that you want to format. Just locate the goofy drive bay that
looks like it could eat a graham cracker and push the disk into it until you
hear a satisfying click that sounds like you stepped on a June bug. Doubleclick My Computer (on your desktop) to display the drives on your system.
Right-click the floppy drive (probably named A for Abysmal) and then
choose Format to display the dialog box that you see in Figure 3-20. If you
need to create a floppy that will boot a PC into DOS, mark the Create an
MS-DOS Startup Disk check box to enable it. Click Start . . . and good luck.
Windows XP
Basics
Instead, I offer you the USB Flash Drive, which works perfectly on any PC
with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port. And if the PC is running at least
Windows 98SE, you shouldn’t need any installation software or drivers.
Most of these drives are so small that they fit on your keychain, and they
even work with Macintosh and Linux computers. They’re sturdy, with no
moving parts to wear out. And because a USB Flash drive is Plug and Play,
you can connect and disconnect it without having to reboot your PC.
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Formatting a Floppy Disk
Figure 3-20:
If all you
have is a
floppy. . .
Chapter 4: Customizing
Windows XP
In This Chapter
Customizing your desktop background
Fine-tuning the toolbars
Using Explorer bars
Understanding the My Documents folder
Working with Favorites
Understanding multiuser computing
Sending and receiving faxes in Windows XP
Playing MP3 files in Media Player
Viewing and downloading digital photographs
Recording your own data CDs in XP
I
f you’ve followed along so far in this mini-book, you’ve been a slave to
the Microsoft defaults. That might be status quo for novice XP users,
but if you want to mold Windows XP into your operating system (and thus
become a PC power user), you must master the customization features
within XP. Just say “No!” to Icons view, or the Explorer window Task pane,
or that too-familiar desktop background — add your favorite sound effects
from The Rocky Horror Picture Show to your XP experience. (I boot up every
morning to the lilting sounds of “The Time Warp,” much to the consternation of our family cats. Drop me a line at [email protected], and I’ll send
you my custom sound scheme from the film.)
This chapter ties what you need to transform your PC from a personal computer into a personal tool — which, I might add, should be the end goal of
every hardware manufacturer and software developer, including the
Microsoft crowd. In these pages, I do my part: You discover how to optimize
your toolbars for productivity, share your computer with others in a multiuser environment, visit your favorite Web sites directly from the Explorer
window, and send and receive faxes with your PC’s fax modem. I also introduce you to Windows Media Player, which you can use to enjoy all sorts of
digital multimedia. And stick around for brief look at viewing/downloading
digital photographs. I even show you how to burn a CD-R with data files from
your hard drive . . . without buying an expensive CD recording application!
132
Personalizing Your Desktop
So, good reader, prepare yourself — turn that cookie-cutter machine with its
vanilla Windows XP into your personal custom-made muscle PC, and take it
up a notch!
Personalizing Your Desktop
Don’t get me wrong — I like the soothing blue sky and calm green hills of the
typical Windows desktop. After a few weeks, though, you’ll say to yourself,
“Self, you spent two grand on this system. Why not jazz it up a little bit?” In
this section, I show you how to take care of spicing up the look and sound of
Windows XP.
Changing the background
First up on the makeover tour is the most popular trick — changing your
desktop background to something more palatable. Windows XP prefers
JPEG and bitmap images for your background.
Follow these steps to select a new background:
1. Right-click anywhere on the open space of your current desktop and
then choose Properties from the menu that appears.
In other words, don’t click an icon or Windows XP control, like the Start
menu.
2. Click the Desktop tab to display the settings that you see in Figure 4-1.
Figure 4-1:
The Desktop
tab of the
Display
Properties
dialog box.
Personalizing Your Desktop
133
3. To choose a desktop image from your Windows folder, click it in the
Background list.
To rebel completely against background images, click None.
Alternatively, you can load your own image by clicking the Browse
button and navigating to the location of the image; then just doubleclick the image file to load it.
4. You can choose to stretch an image that doesn’t quite fit across your
entire desktop by selecting Stretch from the Position drop-down list
box. If the image is too small to stretch, pick Center to put it in the
middle of the desktop; or if the image is a repeating pattern,
choose Tile.
5. To set the desktop to a solid color — or to change the color of the
Any changes you make are reflected in the Preview window. After the preview looks good, click Apply to try out the background; if you like what you
see, click OK. If the result would make Andy Warhol cringe, try again.
Using themes
A Windows XP theme is a package deal: Selecting a theme gives you a background, a color scheme, an icon set, and sound effects. Themes are available from Microsoft, or you can download themes (of varying quality) from
sites all over the Web. To choose a theme, follow these steps:
1. Right-click anywhere on the open space of your desktop and then
choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears to display the
Themes settings of the Display Properties dialog box (see Figure 4-2).
2. Click the Theme drop-down list box and click a theme to view it in
the Sample window.
3. To create a theme of your own based on the current desktop settings,
click the Save As button.
Yup, you get the standard Save As dialog box, in which you name your
custom theme.
4. When you’re satisfied with the theme, click the Apply button to check
it out on your desktop; or click OK to close the Display Properties
dialog box.
Customizing
Windows XP
desktop that surrounds a centered image — click the Color dropdown list box and then click the desired color.
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Personalizing Your Desktop
Figure 4-2:
We got
themes to
meet every
need.
Changing system sounds
Windows XP offers a number of events that can be heralded by system
sound files in WAV format. Follow these steps to assign sounds:
1. Choose Start➪Control Panel➪Sounds and Audio Devices and then
click the Sounds tab to display the settings that you see in Figure 4-3.
Figure 4-3:
The sounds
of Windows
XP.
Speaker icons indicate that a sound
has been assigned to an event.
Switching Views and Sorting Items
135
2. To choose an existing sound scheme, click the Sound Scheme dropdown list and then click the scheme that you want.
3. To assign sounds individually to events, click the desired event
within the Program Events list box and then click the Sounds dropdown list box to display all the sounds that have been installed
within XP.
To hear a sound, click the right-arrow Play button. (When you assign
a sound to an event, XP marks that event with a tiny speaker icon.)
4. You can also use WAV format sound files from another folder on your
hard drive; click the Browse button, navigate to that folder, and then
double-click the file to load it.
5. When you’re ready to rock, click OK to close the Sounds and Audio
Devices Properties dialog box.
Switching Views and Sorting Items
Next, allow me to discuss the different views within Windows XP Explorer —
and how you can switch between ’em in a flash.
To switch between views in the Explorer window, open the Views menu from
the toolbar (in Figure 4-4, see how the menu drops down). Your choices are
✦ Thumbnails: This view displays images and video clips as thumbnails
(tiny pictures), but be warned: It can take XP a significant amount of
time to process a folder containing a lot of images, especially on an
older machine with less than 256MB of RAM. In this view, folders contain pictures that are displayed as tiny thumbnails of the images that
they contain . . . sassy indeed!
✦ Tiles: Choose this view to make items appear as icons on well-spaced
tiles at regular intervals, thus making it easy to click an item without
running something else by accident.
✦ Icons: This view is a traditional favorite, where each item appears as an
icon. However, spacing is much tighter than the Tiles view, so longer
filenames are often abbreviated (and you must be more careful when
clicking).
✦ List: Another long-standing favorite, List view features each item
arranged in list format — one entry per line.
Customizing
Windows XP
If you create your own custom sound scheme, don’t forget to click Save
As to save it under a unique name so that you can load it in a flash in
the future.
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Switching Views and Sorting Items
✦ Details: If you like the List view but wish you had more information on
each item, choose the Details view. Again, the Details view takes a little
more time to display, so expect a delay before you see the statistics —
the larger the folder, the longer it takes.
To sort the items in the Explorer view to your particular fancy, choose
View➪Arrange Icons By and then choose the sorting criteria that you want
to use. (I find that Name, Type, and Total Size are the most useful.)
Note that you can also elect to group items together — choose
View➪Arrange Icons By➪Show in Groups.
To keep your icons from straying all over creation, choose View➪Arrange
Icons By➪Auto Arrange. With the Auto Arrange feature turned on, Windows
XP arranges everything in orderly rows for you. (Note that this option is
only available in Thumbnails, Tiles, and Icons views.)
Figure 4-4:
Choose your
view in the
Explorer
window.
Switching Views and Sorting Items
137
Adjusting toolbars
Toolbars used to be static controls but not any more. With Windows XP, you
can add and remove buttons to create The Perfect Explorer Toolbar! Follow
these steps:
1. Right-click the toolbar in the Explorer window and then choose
Customize from the menu that appears.
This displays the Customize Toolbar dialog box that you see in
Figure 4-5.
You can also choose View➪Toolbars➪Customize if you’re averse to
right-clicking.
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Customizing
Windows XP
Figure 4-5:
Why settle
for the
default
toolbar?
2. From the list on the left, click the button that you want to add and
then click the Add button to include it on the toolbar; to remove an
existing toolbar button, click the button name in the list on the right
and then click the Remove button.
3. To fit more icons on the toolbar, click the Icon Options drop-down list
and then choose Small Icons.
4. To choose the placement of button labels — or to remove them
altogether — click the Text Options drop-down list box.
5. Need to modify the placement of a toolbar icon? Click it in the
Current Toolbar Buttons list and then click either the Move Up or the
Move Down button to redistribute it just so.
6. Click Close to save your changes.
138
Switching Views and Sorting Items
To toggle the display of individual toolbars within the Explorer window,
right-click the Explorer bar and then click the toolbar that you want to hide
or display.
Using the Explorer bar
The default Explorer window displays the Task pane, which is a multipurpose “control thing” on the left side of the Explorer window (the hoopla is
a-happenin’ in Figure 4-6). It provides you with a number of commands that
apply to whatever you’re viewing. For example, you can make a new folder
or share the current folder on your network. You can also display the details
on the currently selected item.
However, that’s not the only set of controls vying for the left side of the screen:
Enter the Explorer bar. Besides looking rather suave, it can help you with
Figure 4-6:
The Task
pane is a
useful
conglomeration of
commands.
Switching Views and Sorting Items
139
✦ Searching for all sorts of things: Choose View➪Explorer Bar➪Search
(or press Ctrl+E) to display the Search Explorer bar, as shown in Figure
4-7. (Actually, it feels more like a wizard than a plain toolbar.) Click the
item, person, computer, or piece of information that you want to search
for, and the Search Explorer Bar leads you through a series of questions
to help you fine-tune your search.
✦ Jumping to Favorites: Choose View➪Explorer Bar➪Favorites (or press
Ctrl+I), and you’ll see your Favorites collection listed in the Explorer
bar. A single click of any Favorite jumps directly to it. (More on
Favorites later in this chapter.) You can also click the Favorites menu
(within the Explorer window) and click a Favorite from there.
Figure 4-7:
Locating
things is
easy from
the Search
Explorer
bar.
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Customizing
Windows XP
✦ Watching and listening to multimedia: Choose View➪Explorer
Bar➪Media to see and hear the latest multimedia files from
WindowsMedia.com (see the left side of Figure 4-8) or to listen to
Internet radio. (Note that at least a 56 Kbps dialup connection is recommended for listening to Internet radio stations.) Media Player controls
are included at the bottom of the Media Explorer bar, so you can take
care of mundane chores like adjusting volume, switching tracks, or stopping and starting playback.
140
Switching Views and Sorting Items
Figure 4-8:
Invite
Hollywood
and
Nashville to
your
Explorer
window.
✦ Returning to where you’ve been: Choose View➪Explorer Bar➪History
to display the Web sites and documents that you’ve used recently — to
return to a Web site or load a recent document, just click the name.
As you might imagine, the History Explorer bar can get rather crowded
after a long day at the keyboard. To help sort the chaos, click the View
button at the upper-left of the History Explorer bar, and you can sort by
date or site visited or by the total number of times that you’ve visited
each site or document.
And don’t forget the Folders view!
Probably the most familiar of the Explorer bars is the Folders Explorer bar,
as shown in Figure 4-9. It’s the old standby “tree” display (from Windows 3.1
and 95/98) of the folders on your system. You don’t even have to use the
View menu to display the Folders Explorer bar, either. It’s remained so popular (and so convenient and fast and useful) that the XP Explorer window
contains a Folders button on the toolbar.
What’s This Stuff in the My Documents Folder?
141
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Windows XP
Figure 4-9:
The mighty
Folders view
is as
everlasting
as a
redwood.
From within the Folders Explorer bar, click a drive or folder to expand it and
display its contents. You can also click a plus sign (+) to expand an item or
click a minus sign (–) next to an item to collapse it again. The Explorer
window is updated automatically with the contents of the drive or folder
that you’re viewing.
What’s This Stuff in the My Documents Folder?
Windows XP gives each user a separate My Documents folder, which you
can reach in a number of different ways:
✦ From the Windows XP desktop
✦ From the Start menu
✦ From the Other Places section of the Explorer Task pane
✦ From the My Documents button in Save (As) and Open dialog boxes
142
What’s This Stuff in the My Documents Folder?
If you’re in a hurry, you can get to your My Documents folder from anywhere in a flash: Press the Win+D key sequence (using either of the
Windows keys on your keyboard) to display your desktop, press the Home
key (which highlights the upper-left icon, which in this case is the My
Documents icon on the desktop), and then press Enter (to open it).
As you can see in Figure 4-10, the My Documents folder is a regular repository of everything that’s yours, including stuff like
✦ Your images, video clips, and music
✦ Your games
✦ Your downloaded files
✦ Your personal Web sites that you’ve created
You’ll also find many subfolders created by different applications in the My
Documents folder, as well as things like theme files, background images, and
Office XP documents. That’s because the Redmond Gang wants you to use
the My Documents folder as your center of operations, and most software
developers respect the Microsoft standard. Thus, most programs will default
to installing themselves there and saving their documents there as well (or to
one of the standard subfolders within My Documents, like My Pictures).
Figure 4-10:
Your XP pad:
the My
Documents
folder.
Using Favorites
143
If you’re using Microsoft Backup, you should definitely use the My
Documents folder because that’s what Backup uses for source files as a
default.
You can create as many subfolders in the My Documents folder as you like,
and it’s a logical place to keep your stuff (at least on your C drive, where
Windows XP is usually installed).
Remember, there’s actually a separate My Documents folder for each user
that you’ve created in Windows XP, so the stuff that you see in your My
Documents folder won’t be the same as what Brother Elroy sees in his My
Documents folder. What Windows XP displays is keyed to the active user
account.
By the way, the contents of the My Documents folder are also hidden from
other users, so you can’t put a document there and expect other users of
your PC to be able to reach it. Instead, use the Shared Documents folder,
which you can reach from the Windows Explorer Task pane. When you copy
a file or folder to the Shared Documents folder, anyone using another
account on your PC can open and copy the file.
By default, the Shared Documents folder is not shared amongst the other
PCs on your network — it’s only used with files shared locally among users
of the same PC.
Using Favorites
Yep, you also have access to your favorite Web sites from within the
Explorer window. Earlier in this chapter, I talk about the Favorites Explorer
bar, and you might already know about how to use Favorites within Internet
Explorer (which I explain in Book III, Chapter 4). But how does one add
Favorites without using Internet Explorer? That’s what this section is all
about.
Ever wonder why the XP Explorer window and the Internet Explorer window
look so similar — or why it takes so little time to jump to a favorite Web site
inside the Explorer window? Well, bunkie, it’s because Microsoft made a
decision some time back to merge its Windows operating system with its
Web browser. After missing the early Internet boat, His Gateness decided to
embrace the Internet with open arms, so now the traditional Explorer
window is actually generated with the same code that runs Internet
Explorer.
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144
Using Favorites
Adding a favorite
You can add a Favorite from the Explorer window in two ways. First, however, bring up the Favorites Explorer bar by choosing View➪Explorer
Bar➪Favorites (or press Ctrl+I).
✦ From the Favorites Explorer bar: Click the Add button, and Windows
XP displays the dialog box that you see in Figure 4-11. Type a new name
(if you like) and click the Create In button to select the Favorites folder
where you want to store the entry. Then click OK to save the Favorite.
Figure 4-11:
My favorite
way to add
a Favorite.
✦ From the Favorites menu: Choose Favorites➪Add to Favorite to display
the same dialog box. Type a new name (if you like) and click the Create
In button to select the Favorites folder where you want to store the
entry. Then click OK to save the Favorite.
Organizing favorites
To organize your Favorites, either click the Organize button on the Favorites
Explorer bar or choose Favorites➪Organize Favorites. XP displays the
dialog box that you see in Figure 4-12.
✦ To add a new Favorite folder: Click the Create Folder button to add a
new folder (which appears in all Favorites locations near you).
✦ To move a Favorite into a folder: Click the desired Favorite, click the
Move to Folder button, click the destination folder, and then click OK.
Creating a Shortcut
145
✦ To rename a Favorite: Click the desired Favorite, click the Rename
button, type the new name, and then press Enter.
When you’re done organizing your Favorites, click Close to return to the
Explorer window.
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Figure 4-12:
Now do you
really want
disorganized
Favorites?
Hmm?
Creating a Shortcut
In Chapter 2 of this mini-book, I introduce you to shortcuts — now it’s time
to create them. Here are two methods of creating a shortcut:
✦ Right-click an icon: From the pop-up menu that appears, choose Create
Shortcut, and XP does just that — a new shortcut appears in the same
folder as the original icon. You can then copy or move the shortcut to
another location on your system.
✦ Drag an icon: Right-click the icon and drag it to the location where you
want to place the shortcut. When you release the mouse button, choose
Create Shortcuts Here from the pop-up menu that appears.
Ever wonder where the shortcut’s original file is located? To find out, rightclick the shortcut, choose Properties from the resulting pop-up menu, and
then click the Shortcut tab to display the Target field (see Figure 4-13). The
target path points to the original file.
146
Multiuser Operation
Figure 4-13:
Clearing a
path to a
shortcut’s
target (so
to speak).
Multiuser Operation
Earlier in this chapter, I mention the Shared Documents folder: where the
local users on your PC can share files and folders. That’s an example of
multiuser operation. Unlike a network environment — where multiple computers are connected — a multiuser PC need not be part of a network.
Instead, different people use the same PC; each person has their own user
account; and Windows XP keeps track of everyone’s Control Panel preferences, Explorer views, desktop backgrounds, Favorites files, and all the
other sundry things that I show you how to customize XP in this mini-book.
In this section, I discuss how multiple folks can share a single workhorse PC.
Windows XP offers three different user account levels:
✦ Administrator: In this level, the user has full access to the Control
Panel, can manage other user accounts, and can install programs and
hardware. If you’re the only person who will be using your PC, Windows
XP sets you up with an Administrator account — as it should.
✦ Limited: In this level, the user can only change the account password,
can’t install hardware or software, and has full control over only those
files that he or she creates. If you’re setting up accounts for others and
you’re less than impressed with their computing skill, by all means give
them Limited accounts!
✦ Guest: More on the Guest account in a tad in the upcoming section, “Be
my guest.”
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147
Logging in
Your first chore when you sit down to a multiuser PC is to log in. This step
identifies you to XP and allows the operating system to load and apply all
your custom settings. You can log in to Windows XP in a number of ways:
✦ Boot your PC with multiple users active: If you start Windows XP with
more than one user account, you’ll either get the Welcome screen or the
Logon screen (more on the difference between the two in a moment).
✦ Logoff from the Start menu: Click the Start menu, click Log Off, and XP
displays either the Welcome screen or the Logon screen. If you’re using
Fast User Switching (which I explain in a second), you’ll see the dialog
box in Figure 4-14; otherwise, you’ll simply be prompted for confirmation before the logoff actually takes place.
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Figure 4-14:
Which will it
be — logoff
or switch?
✦ Switch users: If you’ve enabled Fast User Switching, you can allow
another person to log on without actually closing any of your programs.
Just make doggone sure that the other user knows not to turn off the PC
completely! (XP helps prevent any tragedies by displaying the number
of programs that the original user is running on the Welcome or Logon
screen.) After the switched user completes his session, he should
simply log off so that your programs remain running. Click the Start
menu, click Log Off, and then click Switch Users.
So what’s the difference between the Welcome screen and the Logon
screen? A big one: the password prompt! You see, if you’ve configured XP to
use the Welcome screen, a user logs on by simply clicking her username on
the screen, and whoosh! She’s logged in. On the other hand, if you’ve disabled the Welcome screen, a user has to
✦ Type the correct username — and it had better be spelled correctly.
✦ Type the correct password — ditto.
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Multiuser Operation
The logon method that you use depends on your security needs. If you live
with a trusted roommate or spouse and you can be reasonably sure of who’s
sitting at the keyboard, by all means bypass the unnecessary security and
use the Welcome screen. (It’ll save you countless fruitless logon attempts
because you missed a letter of your password.)
To choose between the Welcome screen and the Logon screen — or to
enable Fast User Switching — you need to visit the Control Panel and open
the User Accounts Wizard (see Figure 4-15). I demonstrate how to use the
Control Panel and how to reach the User Accounts Wizard in Chapter 6 of
this mini-book.
Be my guest
Before I cast off from Multiuser Land, I should elaborate on the third type of
user account: the Guest account is perfect for someone who needs to use
your PC right this moment but isn’t going to need an account in the future.
The Guest account
✦ Doesn’t require a password.
✦ Can’t be duplicated or deleted — there is only one Guest account.
✦ Can be turned on or off. Again, this is done from the User Accounts
Wizard accessed from the Control Panel.
Figure 4-15:
You can
create,
modify, and
delete user
accounts
from the
Control
Panel.
Fax Me, Please
149
So what exactly can a Guest do? Basically, the Guest account has the same
abilities as a Limited user account: The Guest can use your PC, but Windows
XP prevents that person from abusing your PC.
Fax Me, Please
Yep, I know that many readers are exclaiming, “Hey! I didn’t know that
Windows XP could act as a fax machine! That is positively trick!” And indeed
it is — all you need is a fax modem, a telephone line, and the instructions in
this chapter.
There are actually four separate programs that you use to handle faxing in XP:
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✦ The Fax Configuration Wizard
✦ The Fax Cover Page Editor
✦ The Fax Console
Unfortunately, Microsoft — for some unknown reason — doesn’t install
these fax programs during a default installation of Windows XP. (Sound of
hand slapping forehead twice.) Here’s the drill. Stick your XP installation
disc in your CD-ROM drive. Click Start, click Printers and Faxes, and then
click Set Up Faxing in the window’s toolbar. XP whirrs busily to itself and
copies a number of files from your XP installation disc. You’re returned to
the Printers and Faxes window, and you can now configure Windows XP to
send and receive faxes. Sigh.
Setting up faxing under Windows XP
Sigh Part 2. After you get the fax programs installed, you need to configure
the fax support within Windows XP before you tell folks that you’re ready to
accept calls from their fax machine. Follow these steps to set up your fax
service:
1. Choose Start➪All Programs➪Accessories➪Communications➪Fax➪Fax
Console.
(Whew. Way to bury this thing, Redmond.) After all that work, XP
obligingly displays the first screen of the Fax Configuration Wizard.
2. Click Next to continue.
The wizard displays the rather frightening screen that you see in
Figure 4-16.
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✦ The Send Fax Wizard
150
Fax Me, Please
Figure 4-16:
Man, that
is one
boatload of
text boxes.
3. Yep, by law, you’ve got to type at least your full name, fax number,
and company name — but put the rest in, too, because it’ll come in
handy. Then click Next to continue.
4. In the screen that appears, select the device that will be used to send
faxes from the drop-down list box. Also specify here whether
• You want the fax modem to pick up automatically (after a certain
number of rings).
• You should manually answer incoming fax calls.
Then click Next to continue.
5. Time to enter your TSID, or Transmitting Subscriber Identification.
You can use up to 20 characters, so you have enough space to identify
you or your business. This is the string sent when you call another fax
machine to send a fax; it identifies your name or company in the recipient’s fax transmission report. Click Next to continue.
6. Type another 20 characters for your CSID, or Called Subscriber
Identification.
Most folks use the same string as the one entered for the TSID. This string
appears on the fax machine that’s calling you. Click Next to continue.
7. You must specify where received faxes are to be routed:
• Print it on the printer that you select in the drop-down list box.
• Save a copy in the folder that you specify.
• Choose both options.
All incoming faxes are also stored in the Fax Console Inbox. Click Next
to continue.
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151
8. All done! Click Finish.
XP opens the Fax Console (as shown in Figure 4-17).
Sending and receiving faxes
If you’ve followed along the previous two sections, you are now XP-faxsending-empowered. To send a fax, follow these steps:
1. In its native application, open (or create) the document that you want
to fax.
For example, fax a Word document from within Word.
2. Press Ctrl+P to display the Print dialog box.
3. Click the Printer drop-down list box and then choose the fax device.
4. Click Print.
5. After the Send Fax Wizard launches, click Next to continue.
Figure 4-17:
Your first
glimpse of
the Fax
Console.
Customizing
Windows XP
Click the Preferences button to switch between Normal (200 x 200 DPI)
and Draft (200 x 100 DPI) quality. Draft is quicker, but it’s, well, draft
quality.
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Doing the Multimedia Thing
6. Type the name of the recipient and the person’s fax number. Or, if
he’s in your Address Book, click the Address Book button and choose
the contact from there.
(Optional) If you like, you can enter multiple recipients and click Add to
include them in the list.
When you’re done, click Next.
7. (Optional) Adding a cover page is optional but highly recommended.
a. Choose a cover page template from the drop-down list.
b. Type a subject line. (If you like, you can also add notes.)
c. Click Next to continue.
8. Choose the transmission priority and a scheduled time to send the fax
(any time from immediately until 24 hours from now) and then click
Next to continue.
9. Verify the settings on the final wizard screen.
• If they check out okay, click Finish.
• To back up and fix something that’s wrong, click Back and, um, fix it.
If you configure XP for automatic reception of incoming faxes after a specified number of rings, you really don’t have to do anything to receive faxes
other than keep your PC running and stay off that telephone line. (See Step 4
in the previous section for the lowdown on how you want the fax call
answered.) However, if you specify manual answering for incoming faxes,
you have to follow these steps for each incoming fax:
1. Choose Start➪All Programs➪Accessories➪Communications➪Fax➪Fax
Console to run the program.
2. When you hear the phone ring, choose File➪Receive a Fax Now.
3. Verify that the incoming fax has been properly detected by watching
the Fax Monitor; the Fax Console also displays a Reception Complete
dialog when the fax has been received.
Doing the Multimedia Thing
The final stop on this customization trip concerns multimedia. Windows XP
can be dead boring without liberal doses of digital audio, digital photographs,
Doing the Multimedia Thing
153
and DVD movies! In this section, I show you how to enjoy all sorts of digital
entertainment as well as how you can record your own CDs from within
Windows XP.
Playing your MP3 files
MP3 files are the modern solution to crystal-clear, high-quality music that’s
✦ Standardized and compatible: MP3 files are supported within every
computer operating system these days, along with countless personal
music devices, hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs), and palm
PCs.
✦ Easy to record on CD-Rs: Same copyright argument, same excuse on my
part — but it is currently legal to make “compilation discs” of MP3
songs as long as you own the original audio CDs.
To play MP3 files within Windows XP, you can double-click an MP3 file
within the Explorer window. Unless you’ve installed an alternate MP3 player,
XP cranks up Windows Media Player, as shown in Figure 4-18, and begins
playing the music immediately.
If you’re wondering what the heck all the dancing lights mean, they’re what
Microsoft calls a visualization — essentially, a fun “optical oscilloscope” that
constantly changes. To switch to the next visualization, click the small,
right-arrow button at the bottom left of the visualization window. To turn
visualizations off completely, just choose View➪Visualizations➪No
Visualizations.
The familiar controls at the bottom of the Media Player window are shown
in Figure 4-18 as well. You can click and drag the progress slider to change
your current point in the song or to mute or pause the playback.
For a complete discussion of MP3 files — including how you can “rip” your
own digital music from existing audio CDs — see Book VI, Chapter 2.
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✦ Easy to create, copy, and share: Okay, perhaps too easily created,
copied, and shared . . . but I’m just reporting on what you can do, not
involving myself in the ongoing copyright debate over MP3 distribution.
(And, like the bumper sticker on the back of my Jeep reads, “MP3 is not
a Crime.”)
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Doing the Multimedia Thing
Figure 4-18:
Dean Martin
sounds just
fine in
digital form.
Stop button
Play/Pause button
Volume Progress slider
Mute
Viewing and downloading digital photographs
If you’ve got a digital camera, Windows XP has three features that you’ll
want to try:
✦ Thumbnails view: I discuss the Thumbnails view within the Explorer
window at the beginning of this chapter. As I mention there, it’s slower
than List or Icons view, but if you’re sifting through a folder full of digital
images and you want to move, copy, or delete some, Thumbnails view is
the row to hoe. Figure 4-19 illustrates a folder from my digital photograph collection as seen in Thumbnails view.
✦ Preview: If you haven’t installed an image editor like Photoshop or
Paint Shop Pro, you can still view a picture on your hard drive by
double-clicking it. Windows XP runs the Viewer program, as shown in
Figure 4-20. (Viewer also displays received faxes.) The toolbar at the
bottom of the Viewer window lets you zoom in or out, rotate the image,
annotate it, print it, or copy it to another location.
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155
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Figure 4-20:
Previewing
a
photograph.
Customizing
Windows XP
Figure 4-19:
View
thumbnails
of your
digital photo
folder.
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Doing the Multimedia Thing
✦ The Camera and Scanner Wizard: This wizard kicks in automatically
when you connect your Universal Serial Bus (USB) digital camera to
your PC, allowing you to view images and choose which will be downloaded to your PC.
You’ll find much more information on digital cameras and these features in
Book VI, Chapter 5.
Recording your own CDs
Most CD and DVD recorders are accompanied by their own recording
programs — like Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 (see Figure 4-21), by Roxio
(www.roxio.com).
For complete coverage of today’s popular CD and DVD recording software,
pick up a copy of my book CD and DVD Recording For Dummies, by the good
folks at Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Figure 4-21:
The Cadillac
of CD
recording
software:
Easy
CD & DVD
Creator 6.
Doing the Multimedia Thing
157
However, you can record a data disc within Windows XP without a separate
commercial CD-recording application. Grab a blank CD-R and follow these
steps:
1. Load the blank disc into your CD recorder.
Windows XP displays a dialog box asking what the heck you want to do
with the disc.
2. Click Open Writable CD Folder Using Windows Explorer from the list
and then click OK.
If you’re not planning on installing a CD-recording application any time
soon, mark the Always Do the Selected Action check box to enable it
before you click OK.
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3. Double-click My Computer (on your desktop) to open the Explorer
While you copy the files, they’re actually magically transported to a special folder on your hard drive. Note: Nothing has actually been recorded
yet, as XP continues to remind you!
4. When you’re ready to burn the disc, double-click My Computer and
then double-click the CD recorder icon to display the files in the storage folder.
Note that each ghostly file or folder icon carries a funky down-arrow,
which indicates that it’s been stored and is now awaiting the Great
Writing.
Make sure that you’re copying less than a total of 650MB for a standard CD-R! For some furshlugginer reason, Windows XP doesn’t check
to make sure that you have enough room on the disc before the recording begins. Therefore, take a moment and select all the files that you’re
going to burn; then right-click them and choose Properties from the
resulting pop-up menu to see how much space that they’ll need.
5. When you’re ready to record and you’ve verified that there’s less
than 650MB of data to be burned, click Write These Files to CD in the
Task pane.
6. Type a volume label for the disc (up to 16 characters long) and then
click Next.
7. Sit back and relax — this can take some time (anywhere from 5 to 20
minutes, depending on the speed of your drive).
Customizing
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window and then select the files that you want to record to the CD
folder window by choosing the File➪Send To➪CD Drive menu command. Or, just right-click the file(s) that you want to copy and then
choose Send To➪CD Drive from the pop-up menu that appears.
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Doing the Multimedia Thing
The disk cognoscenti
Want to avoid looking like an idiot when talking
with a PC power user? Then listen up. The
round, shiny object that you load into your
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive is a disc, ending
with a c — and not a disk, ending with a k. The
latter word more accurately describes your
hard disk or a Zip disk. (Think Latin, think Greek,
think discus, think discography — it’s just plain
round.) Anyone who pretends to be a PC power
user and talks oh-so-knowingly about a
CD-ROM disk or DVD disk is a dweeb. Shun
them like you would dandruff.
Watching a DVD movie
I’ve got to be completely honest with you — I don’t like the Windows XP
Media Player as a DVD player. That’s because it doesn’t have many of the
features of a commercial software DVD player like PowerDVD or Sonic’s
CinePlayer (see Figure 4-22). However, it’s free . . . and it doesn’t crash (two
of the characteristics of truly fine software).
Figure 4-22:
Sonic’s
CinePlayer
is a fullfeatured
DVD
software
player.
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159
To watch a DVD movie disc within Windows XP, run Media Player by choosing Start➪All Programs➪Windows Media Player. Click Play; click DVD, VCD,
or CD Audio; and then select the movie from the pop-up window. You can
switch between the window display and a full-screen display by pressing
Alt+Enter. To capture a still image from the film, press Ctrl+I.
Plus, you get the same familiar set of control buttons that appear at the
bottom of the Media Player window. They work for everything from MP3
files to digital video clips to DVDs. Oh, joy . . . rapture.
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Book II: Windows XP
Chapter 5: Maintaining
the XP Beast
In This Chapter
Scanning your hard drives for errors
Defragmenting to speed up your PC
Backing up your files in XP
Using System Restore
Using boot and recovery options in XP
Taking Windows Update for a ride
M
aintenance. It’s important, and you’ve got to do it — so why not make
it exciting? Instead of dull preventive care, think of the pit crew
around an Indy car, and . . . well, on second thought, that might be a stretch.
Anyway, you’ve gotta do it.
You might not find this chapter overly exciting, but if you follow on a regular
basis the procedures that you find here, I guarantee that you’ll be happy
with the performance and stability of your PC running Windows XP. And
who knows? Maybe that Indy pit crew job will materialize someday. (Even
if it doesn’t, you’ll have the smoothest-running PC on the block, and that
counts for a lot.)
Device Manager: The Hardware Tool
The first stop on your maintenance tour is the Windows XP Device Manager,
which I recommend that you check at least once a month. Device Manager is
essentially a status window that displays the operating status of each of the
hardware devices in your PC as well as the peripherals connected to it. With
one glance, you can see any hardware device that Windows has marked as a
troublemaker, and locating trouble is the first step in solving it.
Now, don’t panic at the idea of rooting around in your hardware. In fact, the
idea of a hardware conflict is easy to understand. Just about every hardware
device in your PC needs a unique pathway to be able to communicate with
the CPU and other devices. For instance, your modem must be able to send
and receive data to and from the Internet without getting spurious stuff
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Device Manager: The Hardware Tool
that’s actually meant for your printer. (Imagine the fun that you’d have if
your hard drive and your CD or DVD-ROM drive kept exchanging data by
accident . . . harrumph.)
To keep things straight, Windows XP assigns two values that identify
devices: a direct memory address (DMA) and an interrupt request (IRQ).
Because each device in your PC needs a unique data path — think of your
e-mail or your home address — devices need unique settings for DMA and
IRQ as well. If a value is shared between two devices, Windows XP might
lock up because the operating system has no idea whom it’s talking to and
where the data is coming from.
Luckily, Windows XP does a great job allocating these hardware resources,
especially if you’re using Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire peripherals. However, sharing problems do still crop up from time to time with older
hardware that might not have an up-to-date driver. (A driver is a program
that tells Windows XP how to communicate and use a specific hardware
device.) Not only can Device Manager display what devices are causing trouble, but it can also help you update the drivers for that device.
Follow these steps to use Device Manager in Windows XP:
1. Right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop and choose
Properties from the pop-up menu that appears to display the System
Properties dialog box; then click the Hardware tab.
2. Click the Device Manager button to open the Device Manager window
that you see in Figure 5-1.
If a device in the Device Manager window is marked with a yellow exclamation point or a red check mark, it might be in conflict with another device,
which, in turn, might also be marked by a yellow exclamation point.
3. To check for possible conflicts with a particular piece of hardware,
right-click the marked device and then choose Properties from the popup menu that appears to display its settings (as shown in Figure 5-2).
If nothing is flagged, skip to Step 5 — Windows XP has given your hardware the all-clear! You might also find helpful information in the Device
Status display.
• If a Driver tab appears in the device’s Properties dialog box, you can
try updating your system with the latest driver for the device. (Go to
Step 4.) This often fixes things right away.
• If no Driver tab exists, scurry on to Step 5.
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Figure 5-2:
Display the
settings for
a specific
hardware
device.
Maintaining the
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Figure 5-1:
Check for
possible
problems in
Device
Manager.
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Checking Your Hard Drives in Windows XP
4. Click the Driver tab and then click the Update Driver button to run
the Hardware Update Wizard.
The wizard will lead you through the process of checking for a new
driver online or from a floppy disk or CD-ROM supplied by the
manufacturer.
Don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s Web site for drivers as well.
5. Click OK to return to the Device Manager dialog box and then choose
File➪Exit to close the Device Manager window.
If you made changes, Windows XP will prompt you for confirmation
before rebooting your PC.
If updating the driver doesn’t do the trick, display Device Manager again and
click the Troubleshoot button on the General tab to run the Troubleshooter.
(That’s Microsoft’s fancy name for the Help system, which will lead you
through possible solutions to the problem.)
Checking Your Hard Drives in Windows XP
Here are two very common misconceptions concerning hard drives I think
that I should clear up right here:
✦ Hard drives do malfunction. Oh, yes. Even if you’ve never had a hard
drive crash, you’ve likely heard about them. Even so, today’s hard
drives are generally so reliable and so long lasting that folks often
forget. Hard drive errors can be physical (caused by a malfunction in the
drive’s hardware) or logical (where the error is in the format or the data
stored on the drive). If your PC is caught by a power failure and file corruption occurs, you’re the victim of a logical file error.
✦ Errors might not be immediately noticeable. Most logical errors won’t
cause your PC to crash, and they might not affect files that you’re currently using, so they often go unnoticed. (They share this trait with
computer viruses, which use stealth to hide themselves.) Over time,
logical errors can cause real damage to your files and documents, so
catching them quickly is vital.
For these reasons, scanning your PC’s hard drives often (both internal and
external) for potential problems is important. Microsoft makes this easy in
Windows XP by providing an error-checking feature that you can reach from
a hard drive’s Properties panel (for you crotchety Windows old-timers, think
ScanDisk). Follow these steps to scan a hard drive for errors:
Checking Your Hard Drives in Windows XP
165
1. Double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop to display the
hard drives on your system.
2. Right-click the hard drive that you want to scan, choose Properties
from the pop-up menu that appears, and then click the Tools tab to
display the buttons that you see in Figure 5-3.
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Figure 5-3:
Microsoft
hides these
programs
away, but
power users
know where
they are.
3. Click the Check Now button to display the Check dialog box, which
has the settings shown in Figure 5-4.
Figure 5-4:
Preparing to
check a
hard drive
for errors in
Windows
XP.
Always enable the Automatically Fix File System Errors check box.
4. To check the drive’s hardware for physical errors, select the Scan for
and Attempt Recovery of Bad Sectors check box and then click Start.
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Checking Your Hard Drives in Windows XP
Note: This can take a very long time (as in two or three hours) on larger
drives (60GB or larger). I recommend that you use this feature once
every three or six months because today’s drives rarely exhibit bad
sectors until the entire drive crashes.
When the scanning program finishes, you’ll see one of two windows:
• The scan completed without you needing to reboot.
Just click OK to close the scan and return to the desktop.
• The scan completed, and you do need to reboot.
If the scanning program determines that you need to reboot
Windows XP to finish the error checking, click OK to close the scan.
You’ll need to reboot manually (the scan is actually scheduled to run
the next time that you boot XP). Shut down any other programs that
might be running, choose Start➪Turn Off Computer, and then click
Turn Off.
Shut down any open applications that you’re running and then
reboot your PC.
Windows XP automatically completes the check-up during the boot
process.
I prefer (and highly recommend) using New Technology File System (NTFS),
which is the hard drive format first introduced with Windows NT. A hard
drive formatted as an NTFS volume is much more reliable than the old
FAT16/FAT32 formatting used in Windows 95, 98, and Me — and it’s much
harder for logical errors to crop up under NTFS.
Commercial utilities are also on the market that can check your hard drive
for errors; the most popular and best-known is Symantec’s Norton Utilities
(www.symantec.com), which includes Norton Disk Doctor (shown in Figure
5-5). I usually recommend the Norton line of programs, but in this case, Disk
Doctor really doesn’t do much more than XP’s built-in, error-checking feature.
Figure 5-5:
Norton Disk
Doctor can
also scan
your drives
for errors.
Defragmenting Just Plain Rocks
167
Defragmenting Just Plain Rocks
Another program that you can reach from any hard drive’s Properties dialog
box is the Disk Defragmenter. I admit that it’s a strange name, but returning
file fragments to their proper place can significantly increase your hard
drive’s performance. (Techno-nerds call this running a defrag. Très nerd.)
So what the heck are fragmented files? Here’s the straight skinny: Each time
that you delete or move files from one spot on your PC to the other, you
open up sections of your hard drive so that new files can be stored there.
When you’re ready to save a file, however, it might not fit into any one of
the open areas on your hard drive, so Windows XP saves the file in pieces,
or segments, across several open sections.
Of course, this assembly process takes more time if the file has been broken
in more pieces. And when your drive is really fragmented with little segments of thousands of files that Windows XP has to keep track of, your hard
drive performance really starts to suffer. Fragmentation slows everything
down, and Windows XP has to work harder every time that you open or
save a file.
The XP Disk Defragmenter restores the files on your drive to smooth, unbroken data storage territory. (Think the Bonanza spread, but with ones and
zeroes instead of cattle.) Figure 5-6 illustrates your drive before you run Disk
Defragmenter, and Figure 5-7 shows your drive afterwards. The program
reads fragmented files, combines those nomadic segments, and then saves
the defragmented file back to the disk. Outstanding!
I recommend defragmenting your hard drives when you’re not using your
PC because the process takes much less time to finish. Most PC owners
defragment at nights or on weekends. Shutting down programs that are
running in the background also helps. Just display the taskbar; in the notification area at the right, right-click each icon for programs that you don’t
need, and then click Exit or Close to shut them down.
Maintaining the
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As an example, suppose that you’re downloading a 300MB game demo,
but your hard drive doesn’t have 300MB of contiguous open space handy.
Windows XP decides to save 50MB in one spot, 120MB in another, and the
rest in a third open space. When you decide to install the demo and run
the file, Windows XP automatically pulls the right data from these different
spots on your hard drive and assembles the pieces back into the original
file. (I bet you didn’t know all that was happening when that little green light
blinks on and off, but then, XP can be a mysterious beast.)
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Defragmenting Just Plain Rocks
Hard drive platter
Segment 1 of the file
Figure 5-6:
Fragmented
files sap
performance from
your hard
drive.
Segment 2
Segment 3
Segment 1
Segment 2
Figure 5-7:
Wow!
Check
out the
contiguous
sectors on
that platter!
Segment 3
Defragmenting Just Plain Rocks
169
To run Disk Defragmenter, follow these steps:
1. Double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop.
2. Right-click the hard drive that you want to defragment, choose
Properties from the pop-up menu that appears, and then click the
Tools tab (refer to Figure 5-3).
3. Click the Defragment Now button to open Disk Defragmenter, which
you see in Figure 5-8.
4. In the list at the top of the window, click the drive that you want to
defragment and then click the Analyze button.
Figure 5-8:
Defragmentation is like
aspirin for
your PC.
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This shows you a display of just how badly defragmented your drive
really is. (The more red that you see in the Estimated Disk Usage before
Defragmentation bar, the worse the fragmentation.)
170
Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff
Disk Defragmenter displays a dialog box with its recommendation (view
the analysis, run the defrag, or simply close the application).
5. If warranted, click the Defragment button to start cleaning up that
hard drive.
Disk Defragmenter requires that the drive have at least 15 percent of its
total space free, so you’ll have to delete files and programs that you don’t
need if your drive is full.
Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff
In this third part of your hard drive triple-header, I talk about how you can
back up your hard drive to safeguard your data against future calamity. I’m
not going to lecture you here — oh, what the heck, yes I will — DO IT. All
smart PC owners take the trouble to save their stuff. Back up on a regular
basis, and someday (it might be years from now) you’ll send me an e-mail
message at [email protected] with the subject “Thanks, Mark, My Backup
Saved My Tail!” Then we can both celebrate that you did the smart thing.
By default, the XP Backup or Restore Wizard is included only with Windows
XP Professional, but with a little harmless hacking, you can install it from
the XP Home installation disc. Double-click the My Computer icon from your
desktop, right-click your CD-ROM drive icon, and then click Explore. Locate
the \valueadd\msft\ntbackup folder and then double-click the
NTBACKUP.MSI icon, which will install Backup for you.
How often is often enough when it comes to backing up your data? That
depends completely on how often your data changes. The idea is to back up
often enough so that you always have a recent copy of your important files
close by. If you wait too long to freshen your backup, you’ll find that you’ll
spend far too much time restoring the changes that you made between backups. For example, a small business or home office with a large, constantly
changing database might back up anywhere from every night to every three
days. (If you decide that you have to back up every night, you might want to
consider a commercial backup solution that can be automated.) On the other
hand, a typical home PC might require a backup only once a month.
If you’d rather not use the XP Backup or Restore Wizard, either buy a commercial backup application or consider copying your most important files to
a CD-RW or a Zip disk on a regular basis — including the contents of your
My Documents folder. You’ll still have to reinstall Windows XP and your
major applications if you have a crash or your computer is stolen, but at
Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff
171
least the irreplaceable stuff is safe. Do not use a floppy disk for this important job because floppy disks are unreliable and might not be readable on
another PC. (I hate floppies, really I do. Have you noticed?)
Unfortunately, the Backup or Restore Wizard doesn’t support CD or DVD
backups, but most commercial backup applications, such as Retrospect
from Dantz (www.dantz.com), do allow disc backup. If you use Retrospect
or another commercial backup program, I recommend that you use rewriteable DVDs as your backup media — alternatively, you can always use CDRWs, but you’ll need several more discs.
Although you can’t use CDs or DVDs to back up with the XP wizard, you can
back up to
✦ Zip disks. (I recommend the latest high-capacity 750MB Zip disks to
make things easier.)
✦ A network folder. (This uses space on your network’s file server or
another PC’s hard drive.)
✦ A USB 2.0 or FireWire external hard drive that’s especially made for
backups. (Nothing works as fast as another hard drive!)
✦ Floppy disks. (Oh . . . yes, you can use floppies. But please don’t. It’ll
take a lifetime to back up anything , and those floppies will last as long
as a snowman in Miami.)
To back up your files with the XP Backup or Restore Wizard, follow these
steps:
1. Double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop to display the
hard drives on your system.
2. Right-click the hard drive that contains the files that you want to back
up, choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears, and then
click the Tools tab.
3. Click the Backup Now button to run the Backup or Restore Wizard
and then click Next to continue.
4. Select the Click Back Up Files and Settings radio button and then click
Next to continue.
The wizard displays the options that you see in Figure 5-9. Decisions,
decisions.
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✦ A tape drive supported by Windows XP.
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Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff
Figure 5-9:
Select
options for
the Backup
or Restore
wizard.
• If you’re the only one using the PC and you want a fast backup of
the most important things on your system, select the My
Documents and Settings radio button.
You should only use the My Documents and Settings option if you’ve
used the default My Documents folder to keep all your personal files
and documents. (Because I have, I save media and time by choosing
the My Documents and Settings option.)
• If others also have separate accounts on your system, you can
back up their stuff as well by selecting the Everyone’s Documents
and Settings radio button.
• You can also select individual files and folders by selecting the Let
Me Choose What to Back Up radio button.
If you put your documents and files in folders that you create yourself
(as opposed to using the default My Documents folder), you should use
the Let Me Choose What to Back Up option.
You’ll notice that you can also go the whole route and back up the entire
drive — but only if you’re using XP Professional — by selecting the All
Information on This Computer. This option uses Automated System
Recovery (ASR), which I describe later in this chapter, and ASR is not
included in XP Home. Remember, Microsoft thinks that XP Home users
won’t have installed the Backup or Restore Wizard. Sorry about that.
5. Click Next to continue.
If you select the Let Me Choose What to Back Up radio button in Step 4,
you’ll see the Items to Back Up page of the Backup or Restore Wizard
that you see in Figure 5-10.
Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff
173
Figure 5-10:
Specify your
own files
and folders
to back up.
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To expand a folder, click the plus sign next to it.
b. When you’ve marked the items you want to back up, click Next to
continue.
The wizard prompts you for the location where you want to save the
backup data, as well as its name, as shown in Figure 5-11.
Figure 5-11:
Select a
backup
target
location
and then
name it.
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a. Enable the check boxes for the files and folders that you want to
back up.
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Safeguarding Your System with System Restore
6. To choose a destination drive, click the Choose a Place To Save Your
Backup drop-down list box; to choose a specific folder, click the
Browse button.
7. Type a descriptive name in the Type a Name for This Backup text box
and then click Next.
I recommend that you use today’s date as part of the name as well as
the name of the source drive.
The wizard displays a summary screen like the one that you see in
Figure 5-12.
8. If you approve of the settings, click Finish, and the backup process
begins.
To restore from a backup that you’ve made, load the backup media, follow
Steps 1 through 3 above, and then mark the Restore Files and Settings radio
button. The wizard will display the backups that you’ve made and allow you
to select the files and folders that you want to restore (using the same file
selection boxes that I describe in Step 5). Click Finish and breathe a sigh of
relief.
Figure 5-12:
Check the
backup
summary
before the
fun begins.
Safeguarding Your System with System Restore
Remember when you were a kid, and you held your fingers crossed behind
your back when you made a promise? A “take-back” was a big deal back
then. And even though you’re all grown now, XP gives you the chance to
say, “I take it back!” if an installation goes awry.
Safeguarding Your System with System Restore
175
This great feature is System Restore, which allows you to set restore points
(think of them as snapshots of your important system files) that you can
return to whenever XP experiences problems. Most folks turn to System
Restore if the installation of new hardware or software causes instability in
XP; I’ve also used it when a system file has accidentally been erased or
altered. Note that System Restore can recover only your XP system files, so if
you accidentally trash Aunt Harriet’s prized family brownie recipe, you’re
still out of luck. (Symantec’s Norton Utilities includes Norton Protection for
your Recycle Bin, which can help you recover Aunt Harriet’s treasure from
accidental deletion.)
XP automatically saves restore points on a regular basis (at least once every
day), but you can follow these steps to manually create a restore point as a
safety net — for example, if you’re about to install a new device.
Follow these steps to create a new restore point:
1. Choose Start➪All Programs➪Accessories➪System Tools➪System
Restore to run the System Restore wizard (see Figure 5-13).
Figure 5-13:
Preparing to
save a new
restore
point.
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After you apply a restore point, XP must reboot. Therefore, I recommend
closing down any applications that you have running with open documents
before you run the System Restore wizard.
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Safeguarding Your System with System Restore
2. Select the Create a Restore Point radio button and then click Next.
3. In the following wizard window, type a descriptive name in the
Restore Point Description box — something like XP before adding
new video card — and then click the Create button.
XP displays a confirmation message indicating that the restore point
has been successfully saved.
4. Click Close to return to your desktop.
If you need to use a restore point to recover from a calamity, follow these
steps:
1. Choose Start➪All Programs➪Accessories➪System Tools➪System
Restore to run the System Restore wizard.
2. Select the Restore My Computer to an Earlier Time radio button and
then click Next.
The wizard displays the calendar view that you see in Figure 5-14.
Figure 5-14:
Choose a
restore
point to use.
Have At Thee, Foul Virus!
177
3. Click a date (when you created the restore point) to display the points
that you can use for that date in the list box on the right, click the
desired point to highlight it, and then click Next to continue.
XP displays a confirmation message with information about the point
that you chose.
4. Click Next to apply the restore point.
Have At Thee, Foul Virus!
Viruses are much harder to ignore these days. The number of viruses circulating today has jumped dramatically, and you read about viral attacks constantly in your newspaper and your favorite news Web sites. What’s more
incredible, Microsoft doesn’t include any antivirus protection in Windows
XP! Luckily, antivirus software has not only stayed current with “infection
technology.” In fact, the good guys are now out in front, and I’m happy to
report that in 2003, it’s child’s play to surround Windows XP with a protective antiviral wall.
How easy? Just install either Norton AntiVirus 2003 ($50; www.symantec.
com), shown in Figure 5-15, or McAfee VirusScan 7 ($60; www.mcafee.com),
and sit back and watch the viruses beat themselves to deletion trying to get
to your system. Unlike the antivirus software of 1992, when you had to scan
for viruses from the DOS command line once a day, everything now works in
real time. Although you can (and should) still scan your entire system manually once every 6 months or so, your antivirus program will monitor every
document that you open and every program that you run in the interim. It’s
actually fun to open your e-mail and see viral-laden spam identified and
killed before you even open the message.
These packages will cover the entry points used by viruses to reach your
PC, including
✦ Your e-mail
✦ Programs that you download or receive on disk or CD from others
✦ Office documents that might contain dangerous macros
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One of the first book chapters that I ever wrote concerned viruses — that
was way back in 1992. I recommended a number of antivirus applications
(only one has survived to this day: McAfee VirusScan) and a number of
guidelines to help readers avoid viral infection. Unfortunately, many folks
ignored viruses back then and paid the price later.
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Windows XP Boot and Recovery Options
Figure 5-15:
It’s that
Norton guy
again. This
time, he’s
kicking viral
butt.
However, here is one important task that you must never take for granted,
and it’s definitely a Mark’s Maxim:
Keep your antivirus data files up to date, or you’re toast.
This step is so important that today’s antivirus programs can automatically
update their data files without your help! (As long as your PC can connect to
the Internet, anyway.) Why? Well, without the latest data files, your
antivirus software is out of date, and the latest viruses can attack your
system undetected.
Windows XP Boot and Recovery Options
Ninety-nine percent of the time when you boot Windows XP, you’ll be talking
on the phone, or pouring another Diet Coke, or perhaps looking through
your (paper) junk mail. That’s because XP requires no help when it’s running normally. You just press your PC’s power button and wait.
However, if your PC isn’t working correctly, you might need one of the
options available during XP’s boot process. In this section, I take you on a
tour of what you can do in Windows XP before your attractive desktop
appears.
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179
Using Safe mode
Think of Safe mode as generic Windows XP. If a hardware device conflict is
locking up your PC, or if a driver that you recently installed or updated is
causing Windows to crash, you can use Safe mode to run XP in a strippeddown mode.
In Safe mode, external devices can’t be used, and much of the functionality
available with your internal hardware will also be disabled. For example,
you’ll immediately notice that your fancy video card is using the lowest resolution possible at 640 x 480 . . . but at least you can move or delete files and
use Windows Explorer.
You’ll also notice two other specialized forms of Safe mode:
✦ Safe mode with networking (where XP loads network drivers and services so that you can log on to your network). If you need to copy files
from a network server or copy your latest documents to a network
drive for safekeeping (just in case), this is the Safe mode to use.
✦ Safe mode with command prompt (where Windows XP loads in Safe
mode but reverts to that cryptic DOS-like command prompt). This
option should be used only at the request of a tech support person.
Using the Last Good Configuration
Here’s another boot option that’s a favorite with anyone who’s facing severe
problems with Windows. XP automatically stores the last-known, working
system configuration — including drivers that were loaded successfully and
system settings that worked — and offers that as a choice on the Advanced
Options menu. By choosing this option, you effectively reset your XP configuration to how it was before your problem cropped up. It doesn’t work
every time — for example, it won’t restore missing system files — but it’s a
much better choice than reinstalling Windows, using ASR (see the following
section), or the hassle of restoring from your backup (see the earlier section
“Safeguarding Your System with System Restore”).
To use this feature, reboot your PC and press the F8 key when you see the
scrolling-line display. From the Advanced Options menu, choose Last Known
Good Configuration and then press Enter.
Maintaining the
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To use Safe mode, reboot your PC and press the F8 key when you see the
scrolling-line display (before the Windows banner screen appears, so you
only have a second or two). Then choose Safe Mode from the Advanced
Options menu and press Enter.
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Windows XP Boot and Recovery Options
Using ASR
Automated System Recovery (ASR) is a feature of the Backup or Restore
Wizard that I cover earlier in the chapter. With ASR, you XP Professional
users can restore your Windows XP configuration in case you have a massive meltdown, and your Windows system files have been damaged so
badly that using a restore point won’t work. Note that I’m just talking to
XP Professional owners now because ASR isn’t included in XP Home.
To create an ASR image, follow the backup procedure that I provide in the
earlier section “Be Smart: Back Up Your Stuff.” In Step 4, select the All
Information on This Computer radio button. This launches the ASR portion
of the wizard, which will lead you through the rest of the process. (It’s actually just like the regular backup process except that the wizard prompts you
to load a floppy disk to store partition information; you’ll need this floppy
disk in a second.)
However — listen up here — an ASR recovery does not restore your documents and other data! The ASR security blanket only includes your system
files and XP system configuration, which Windows XP will use to recover
itself. You have to back up your personal files, data, and documents with the
process that I describe earlier.
When the dreaded moment arrives, and Windows is dead in the water —
hopefully never — you can restore using ASR by following these steps:
1. Load your XP Professional installation disc into your CD or DVD
drive.
2. Close any open applications and reboot your PC.
You might have to press a specific key to boot your PC with the XP
Professional installation disc.
3. Look for the prompt that tells you to press F2 to use ASR and then
pounce on that key like a fierce jungle cat.
4. Load the floppy disk created by the Backup or Restore Wizard.
5. Load the backup file that you created during the ASR process and
follow the instructions that appear.
In effect, Windows XP actually reinstalls itself by using the configuration
data and system files from your ASR backup . . . pretty neat, I think. (I just
hope that I never have to use it.)
Using Windows Update
181
Using Windows Update
Windows Update is a gas. It automatically searches for XP patches and
upgrades from Microsoft and then applies them while you relax. This is a
good thing because any piece of software as complex and powerful as
Windows XP is going to need frequent patching (especially since every
hacker on the planet wants a piece of His Billness). The two methods of
using Update are that you can either leave it completely to XP or that you
can run Windows Update manually.
The fully automatic way
1. Right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop; from the pop-up
menu that appears, choose System Properties.
2. From the System Properties dialog box that appears, click the
Automatic Updates tab, which displays the settings that you see in
Figure 5-16.
Figure 5-16:
Set
Windows
Update for
automatic
operation.
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XP can take care of virtually all the update process in the background, so
you’re not bothered with it. To configure Update to run automatically, you
must be logged in as an Administrator user. Follow these steps:
182
Using Windows Update
3. Select the Keep My Computer Up to Date check box to enable it.
4. For completely automatic updates at a scheduled time, select the
Automatically Download the Updates, and Install Them on the
Schedule I Specify radio button.
5. Click the first drop-down list box to select the day for updating and
then click the second drop-down list box to choose the time.
6. To have XP notify you when updates have been downloaded, select
the Download the Updates Automatically and Notify Me When They
Are Ready to Be Installed radio button.
XP displays a message in the taskbar’s notification window, allowing you
to see what you’re installing beforehand. (Some folks care; others
simply want the latest updates.)
7. Click OK to return to your desktop.
The (somewhat) manual way
You can also run Windows Update at any time. Perhaps you’ve heard of an
important patch that Microsoft has just released, or you just want to
impress your spouse. For whatever reason, follow these steps:
1. Open Internet Explorer (just click its icon on your desktop).
Yep, that’s one of the easiest ways to get to Windows Update — at least,
I find it the easiest. (Plus, the manual version of Windows Update actually runs inside Internet Explorer, so it makes sense.)
For the lowdown on Internet Explorer, skip ahead to Book III, Chapter 4.
2. Choose Tools➪Windows Update to display the page that you see in
Figure 5-17.
3. Click Scan for Updates.
After a bit of thrashing and churning, Internet Explorer updates the
panel on the left of the screen with any updates it finds, and the number
of updates in each category is displayed.
4. Click the desired category to view its updates
A short description of each update is given, and you can click the Read
More link to display more information.
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Figure 5-17:
The
Windows
Update
welcome
page.
5. To add an update item to the download list, click the Add button next
to the item’s description.
Note: Items in the Critical Updates and Service Packs category are
automatically added for you, but some items must be downloaded and
installed separately from other items. Update will take care of this for you.
6. After you mark all the update items that you want to apply, click
Review and Install Updates.
This displays the summary page that you see in Figure 5-18, where all
the updates to be downloaded and applied are listed for you.
7. Click the Install Now button to begin the update process, following
any onscreen instructions.
Note that if XP must reboot to install a critical update or Service Pack, you’ll
have to rerun Windows Update to install any other update items.
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Using Windows Update
Figure 5-18:
Make one
last check
of the
proposed
updates
before
you go.
Chapter 6: Taking Control
of the Control Panel
In This Chapter
Configuring the Control Panel the right way
Setting your PC’s date and time
Tweaking your display settings
Adding scheduled tasks
Fine-tuning power options
Adjusting your keyboard
Changing mouse settings
Fine-tuning power options
Setting Internet options
Removing programs the right way
Configuring user accounts
Setting your phone and modem options
P
icture this: You’re the engineer on the bridge of the starship Enterprise —
the first one, the real Enterprise — and Captain James T. Kirk suddenly
bellows, “I need more power!” in your direction. Where do you turn? What
panel has the right randomly blinking lights and the right fake switches?
In the Windows XP galaxy, my friend, you (and Scotty) need go no farther
than the XP Control Panel (where all the switches are real). Just about all
the check boxes, drop-down list boxes, and buttons that determine how
Windows XP acts are available from this one menu item. And in this
chapter, I show you how to poke a tiny flashlight into the most commonly
used Control Panel dialog boxes to fix your starship’s shields. (Whoops.
I mean, customize Windows XP for your needs.)
Sorry — like most other first-generation techno-nerds, I really enjoy my
Star Trek.
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But First, Put the Control Panel on the Start Menu!
But First, Put the Control Panel on the Start Menu!
To open the Windows XP Control Panel the right way, it should be configured
as a pop-up menu on the Start menu. The default Windows XP category view
is about as convenient as a car wash in a monsoon: You can use it, but why?
A true PC power user will jettison the default Control Panel in a heartbeat.
Follow these steps to configure the Control Panel as a Start menu pop-up:
1. Right-click the Start button and then choose Properties from the
menu that appears.
2. In the Properties dialog box that appears, click the Customize button
and then click the Advanced tab to display the settings that you see in
Figure 6-1.
Figure 6-1:
Configure
the Control
Panel as a
Start menu
pop-up.
3. In the Start Menu Items list, find the Control Panel section and then
select the Display as a Menu radio button.
4. Click OK to exit the Advanced settings and then click OK again to
save the change to the Start menu.
Voilà! Now click Start, move your mouse pointer over the Control Panel
menu item, and revel in all that pop-up goodness, as shown in Figure 6-2!
Now you can access any of the Control Panel dialog boxes that I cover in the
rest of this chapter with just two mouse clicks.
But First, Put the Control Panel on the Start Menu!
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Figure 6-2:
That, sir and
madam, is a
power user
Control
Panel.
You’ll note that each Control Panel dialog box sports two spiffy buttons:
Apply and OK. These actually do the same thing — any changes that you’ve
made get saved — but here are two important differences:
✦ OK: When you click OK, the dialog box closes, and you can make no
more changes to that dialog box. Because many Control Panel dialog
boxes have multiple panels (each of which might have a setting that you
want to change), it makes sense to click Apply if you need to hang
around.
✦ Apply: When you click Apply, Windows XP makes the setting change
immediately. Usually, a setting change won’t do anything obvious right
off the bat, but if you’re working in the Display Control Panel dialog box,
you’ll usually be able to see what changed (like your background or
your screen resolution). If you don’t like the effect that you’ve just
wrought, you can easily choose another setting without the hassle of
opening the dialog box again.
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Configuring the Date and Time
Configuring the Date and Time
The first stop on the Control Panel tour is the Date and Time Properties
dialog box. Check out its first tab, Date & Time, as shown in Figure 6-3.
Figure 6-3:
Oh dear, is
that the
time?
Settings on this tab include
✦ The month and year boxes: Click the month drop-down list box to
choose the current month. Then use the up- and down-arrow buttons to
set the year, or you can just click directly in the year box and type the
year.
✦ The calendar display: To select the current day, click it in the calendar
display.
✦ The Time clock: You can either click the hours:minutes:seconds display
and then click the up- and down-arrows to set the time, or you can —
I love this — click and drag the hands of the clock. (Gotta love that
Microsoft, eh? An analog anachronism in a digital world.)
The Time Zone tab
Click the Time Zone tab to set your current time zone via the drop-down list
box. You can also set Windows XP to automatically adjust for daylight
savings time.
The Internet Time tab
The last tab of this Properties dialog box is my favorite: Click Internet Time
to display the settings that you see in Figure 6-4. If you’ve got an Internet
Changing Display Settings
189
connection that you use every day — either a dialup or an always-on digital
subscriber line (DSL)/cable modem connection — you can set XP to automatically set its own clock by using an Internet time server! Forget setting
the clock manually.
Book II
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Taking Control of
the Control Panel
Figure 6-4:
Yet another
use for “that
Internet
thing.”
Select the Automatically Synchronize with an Internet Time Server check
box to enable it and then click the Server drop-down list to select a time
server. I personally prefer the time.nist.gov server because the idea of
handing over my PC’s time to the Redmond Empire is somewhat unsettling.
(Sure, Mark — like they don’t already control your waking hours through
Windows XP?)
Changing Display Settings
Most PC owners have seen the Display settings shown in Figure 6-5. You can
also get to them by right-clicking any open space on your XP desktop and
then choosing Properties from the pop-up menu that appears.
The Themes tab
On the Themes tab, you can click the Theme drop-down list and choose a
Microsoft desktop theme. Or, you can save your own theme with your current desktop background, color scheme, icons, and sounds by clicking the
Save As button and then typing a new name in the File name box. Then click
Save to seal the deal.
190
Changing Display Settings
Figure 6-5:
Display
properties
are available on
a desktop
near you.
The Desktop tab
Click the Desktop tab to choose a background from the list there. If you want
to load your own picture, click the Browse button and then navigate to the
location of the image. (XP automatically updates the Preview image in the
middle of the dialog box.) Although an image with a lower resolution can be
stretched to fit across your entire desktop from the Position drop-down list
box, don’t be surprised if it loses quality. Instead, pick Center to put it in the
middle of the desktop — or if the image is a repeating pattern, choose Tile.
To use a plain-color background, choose None in the Background list, click
the Color drop-down list, and then pick your favorite shade.
Click Customize Desktop on the Desktop tab to specify which icons you
want to appear on your desktop or to choose different icons.
The Screen Saver tab
Click the Screen Saver tab to configure these settings:
✦ The screen saver: Click this drop-down list to choose a Microsoft
screen saver or a screen saver that you’ve installed yourself.
Changing Display Settings
191
Beware some screen savers
It’s very easy to write a “bad” screen saver —
by that, I mean a screen saver that can slow
down or even hang your PC. (Because of their
popularity, screen savers are also prime targets
for spreading viruses.) Therefore, take care
when adding a new screen saver to your
system that’s not from Microsoft. Your antivirus
program should be running, and you should
watch your PC’s performance carefully after the
screen saver has been running to make sure
that it hasn’t caused any problems.
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✦ Preview: Click this button to see how the selected screen saver will
look. To return to the Display dialog box, move your mouse.
Click the up- and down-arrows to choose the delay period before the screen
saver will kick in. You can optionally require your user password to be
entered before the screen saver will return you to Windows XP.
Click the Power button to display the Power Options tab, which I describe
later in this chapter.
The Appearance tab
This tab is home to these settings:
✦ The windows and buttons style: Click this drop-down list box to switch
between the flashy, oh-so-modern Windows XP appearance and the hohum, mundane classic Windows appearance.
✦ Color scheme: You can select a color scheme that applies throughout
Windows XP from this drop-down list box.
✦ Font size: If you’re having trouble reading smaller text on your desktop —
like icon labels, for example, or menu titles — click this drop-down list
box and then choose Large or Extra-Large fonts.
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
✦ Settings: If the screen saver has any configuration options (like toggling
sound effects on or off, or increasing the number of flying small appliances on the screen at once), you can set them by clicking the Settings
button.
192
Changing Display Settings
To select or disable the animated transition effects for menus — or to
switch between large and regular icons — click the Effects button.
If you’re running Windows XP on an older Pentium III PC (or you’re using a
video card that’s two or three years old), I recommend disabling the
Transition Effects and the Show Window Contents While Dragging check
boxes of the Effects dialog box.
Click the Advanced button to set the color and text formatting attributes for
desktop screen elements such as title bars, menus, and scrollbars.
The Settings tab
From the Settings tab (as shown in Figure 6-6), you have the following smorgasbord to choose from:
✦ Screen Resolution: Click this slider and drag it to set a new screen
resolution.
✦ Color Quality: Whenever possible, leave this value set to 24-bit or 32-bit
color. However, if you have an older video card, you might not be able
to display higher resolutions at these color-quality levels.
Figure 6-6:
A familiar
sight for
most XP
power
users.
Click the Troubleshoot button to display the Windows XP Video
Troubleshooter. Clicking the Advanced button displays a number of video
Scheduling Tasks
193
card and monitor-specific settings; generally, unless you’re told by a technical support person to change these, leave these alone.
Scheduling Tasks
Follow these steps to add a scheduled task:
1. From the Control Panel menu, choose Scheduled Tasks➪Add
Scheduled Task.
Windows XP runs the Scheduled Task Wizard, which displays its welcome screen.
2. Click Next to continue.
The wizard displays a list of suggested applications (see Figure 6-7).
Figure 6-7:
Select a
program to
schedule.
3. If the program that you want to run is in the list, click it. If the program isn’t in the list, click the Browse button, navigate to the location
of the application, and double-click it. Then click Next to continue.
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Taking Control of
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If you need Windows XP to automatically run a program at a certain time
every day (or at a regular period), you can schedule that task from the
Control Panel. For example, you might like to run a network-monitoring program on your office PC each night after you’re gone. (Or, in my case, I like to
run the great freeware utility Ad-Aware 6 from LavaSoft (www.lavasoft.
com), which helps remove “ad-ware” surreptitiously installed by many shareware applications and online Web stores; I’ve set it up as a regular, daily
scheduled task. Some ad-ware programs monitor the Web sites that you visit
or send information back to the developer about your system . . . actions
that I label as JPI, or Just Plain Intolerable.
194
Scheduling Tasks
4. The next wizard screen prompts you to type a descriptive title for
your new task and choose the schedule period (schedule choices
include One Time Only, When My Computer Starts, and When I Log
On). Then click Next to continue.
The contents of the next wizard screen depend on the schedule period
that you pick. For example, Figure 6-8 shows the settings for the daily
schedule.
Figure 6-8:
Daily
settings for
a scheduled
task.
5. Select the settings that you need and then click Next to continue.
The next wizard screen prompts you for your XP account information.
Why? Well, because by default, the task is scheduled to be run in your
name.
6. Click in the Enter the Password box, type your XP user account password, press Tab, and type it again to confirm it. Then click Next to
continue.
If you change your XP user account password, you should also update
your password on your tasks. Otherwise, a task with an improper password might prevent you from logging on later! To update the password
for a specific task, choose Start➪Control Panel➪Scheduled Tasks,
right-click each task in the pop-up menu that appears, and then click
Properties to display the Properties dialog box for the selected task.
Click the Set Password button on the Task pane, type the new password
in the Password box, and then type it again in the Confirm Password
box. Click OK to save your password change.
By the way, you can also temporarily disable a scheduled task from the
same Task Properties dialog box. Just clear the Enabled (Scheduled
Task Runs at Specified Time) check box. When you want the task to run
again, return to this pane and enable the check box.
Adjusting the Power Options
195
7. The final wizard screen (as shown in Figure 6-9) summarizes the task
schedule that you’ve created.
Click Finish to close the wizard.
Figure 6-9:
Begone,
ad-ware —
my scheduled task
will take
you out!
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Open the Control Panel menu and choose Power Options to display the
dialog box that you see in Figure 6-10.
Figure 6-10:
Select a
power
scheme
here.
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
Adjusting the Power Options
196
Adjusting the Power Options
The Power Schemes tab
The Power Schemes tab allows you to choose a default power scheme,
which controls the steps that it takes to conserve power. Power conservation is a handy trick for laptop PC owners but still important for desktop PC
owners as well. The settings include
✦ Power Schemes: Click this drop-down list to specify a power scheme
(either one of the default schemes or one that you’ve saved by using the
Save As button).
✦ Turn Off Monitor: Here, select the amount of inactivity that Windows
XP will wait through before switching your monitor to standby mode
(where the screen goes blank, and the power light usually flashes or
turns a different color). The monitor is automatically turned back on
when you move your mouse or press a key.
Today’s liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors use less power than traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) models, but you’ll save a surprising amount
of money when any monitor is switched to standby. In fact, your monitor
probably uses more electricity than your PC! Therefore, I always set this
value to the smallest amount of time that I can (without the feature becoming a hassle or inconvenience, where I’m constantly having to awaken my
screen). For me, this is typically the After 30 Mins setting.
✦ Turn Off Hard Disks: Click this drop-down list to determine how long of
a period of inactivity Windows XP will wait through before powering
down your hard drive. I know that sounds dangerous, but it’s actually a
harmless feature that will save you energy because your hard drives will
no longer be kept spinning unnecessarily. Like your monitor in standby
mode, a mouse movement or a key press will return your hard drives to
active duty.
✦ System Standby: Most PCs made in the last two or three years support
standby mode, in which the entire PC (instead of just your monitor and
hard drives) switches to low-power mode. Click this drop-down list box
to select the period of inactivity required to activate standby mode.
Again, mouse activity or the press of a key on your keyboard should
return your PC to life, with all programs and files intact. However, some
older PCs might require you to press a button on the PC’s case to return
to full power.
After you choose your power scheme settings, you can click the Save As
button to save the scheme under a new name.
Adjusting the Power Options
197
The Advanced tab
If you need to tweak the operation of your PC’s power button or configure
the task bar icon, click the Advanced tab. The settings on this tab include
✦ Always Show Icon on the Taskbar: If you’re using a laptop PC, the
power taskbar icon shows you an approximate estimate of your remaining battery power (as a tiny battery, no less, which slowly drains of
color). When your laptop is plugged into an AC outlet, the icon also
displays when your battery is charging. (Of course, desktop PC owners
can disable this check box and regain room in the taskbar.)
✦ Prompt for Password: This is a similar security feature to the screen
saver password check box. You can require XP to prompt for your user
password before you’re allowed to return from standby mode.
The Hibernate tab
As I explain earlier, your PC can hibernate instead of entering standby mode.
The difference is one of security for your data. In hibernation mode, the contents of your PCs memory are saved to your hard drive; thus, if a power failure
occurs, you won’t lose any work. “Waking up” from standby mode is quicker
than hibernating because the data doesn’t have to be reloaded from disk, but
you run the risk of losing your files.
Select the Enable Hibernation check box to use hibernation mode. Note that
some PCs won’t be able to use hibernation because their motherboards lack
this feature — in such cases, the Enable Hibernation check box is grayed out.
The UPS tab
If your PC’s uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit supports Windows XP’s
status mode, this tab will display both an estimate of how long the UPS will
run in case of a power failure and the condition of the battery. (You’ll find
more about UPS units in Book I, Chapter 2.)
Most UPS manufacturers come with an install CD that configures the manufacturer and model settings on this dialog box, but if you must set things
manually, click Select and then choose your UPS and the serial (or COM)
port that it’s using.
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
✦ When I Press the Power Button: PCs made in the last two or three
years allow you to actually specify what action Windows XP should take
when you press the power button on your computer: You can opt to
shut down the PC, do nothing (think the wandering fingers of a three
year old), prompt for the action to take, or switch immediately to
standby mode.
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Tweaking the Keyboard
Tweaking the Keyboard
Choose the Control Panel menu and choose Keyboard to display the
Keyboard Properties dialog box, as shown in Figure 6-11.
Figure 6-11:
Customize
your
keyboard
settings
here.
The Speed tab
You can use the settings on this tab to customize your keyboard to fit your
preferences:
✦ Repeat Delay: Drag this slider to specify how long Windows XP will wait
before repeating a character when you hold down a key. (If you’re a
slower typist and your keys keep repeating, set this slider closer to
Long.)
✦ Repeat Rate: Drag this slider to set the rate at which characters are
repeated when you hold down a key.
To test the repeat delay and repeat rate, click in the test box and hold down
a key.
Adjusting Thy Mouse
199
The Hardware tab
If you have multiple keyboards (or an input device configured as keyboard,
like some specialized game controllers), you can display the properties of
that device (including information about any driver software that it
requires) or troubleshoot it from this tab.
If you’re having problems with your keyboard, click the Troubleshoot
button to display the Windows XP Keyboard Troubleshooter, which is a
wizard that leads you through the keyboard troubleshooting process.
Adjusting Thy Mouse
Figure 6-12:
My Logitech
trackball
has these
Control
Panel
settings.
No matter which pointing device you own, however, you’re likely to find the
following settings. They might be named slightly differently, but they should
be there, nonetheless.
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
The settings that you see when you choose Control Panel➪Mouse will vary
according to the manufacturer of your mouse. For example, my Logitech
trackball displays a completely different Mouse Properties dialog box (see
mine in Figure 6-12) than does a Microsoft mouse because Logitech supplies
its own mouse driver.
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Configuring Internet Properties
✦ Middle button function: You can specify what action is produced when
you click the middle button on a three-button pointing device.
Possibilities might include a double-click; cutting or copying; maximizing or minimizing the active window; or even running a program that
you specify. (Personally, I have mine set as a double-click because it prevents accidental double-clicking with the left button, which sometimes
happens when you only wanted to click the left button once.)
✦ Pointers: You can usually choose either a Windows XP pointer scheme
or assign your own pointer symbols.
✦ Mouse trails: This feature adds a number of trailing pointers when you
move your mouse. This is a very helpful trick when you’re using a
laptop because the mouse pointer is often hard to find on a laptop
screen. Visually impaired PC owners might also find this helpful.
✦ Acceleration: If you enable acceleration, your mouse pointer moves
faster the farther you move it. This is a good idea for those running
their desktops at a whopping 1600 x 1200 resolution, where the mouse
can seem to take forever to get anywhere!
Configuring Internet Properties
Next on the Control Panel hit parade is the always-fascinating world of
Internet Properties (Figure 6-13 bears all). Sit back for the ride, folks, ’cuz
this is gonna be a big ’un. (And that’s partly because many of the settings
that should be tucked away in Internet Explorer are instead dumped here.)
Figure 6-13:
My
heavens,
what a
dialog box!
Configuring Internet Properties
201
The General tab
This tab allows you to set
✦ Your Home Page: In the interests of brevity, you’ll find a complete discussion of this setting in Book III, Chapter 4.
✦ Temporary Internet Files: Internet Explorer (IE) uses these cache files
to speed up the display of pages that you’ve already seen, but after a
while, they can become true hard drive hogs. You can elect to delete all
the temporary files in one fell swoop by clicking the Delete Files button,
or you can simply click the Settings button and drag the file folder disk
space slider to 3 or 4MB. (That will prevent too much waste, and you
won’t have to use the Delete Files button any longer.)
✦ Your History: Again, a lot of this stuff applies only to IE. I discuss the
History file in detail in Book III, Chapter 4.
✦ Colors: Click this button to specify the colors that you want to use for
links (both visited and new), the default text color on Web pages, and
the default background color on Web pages.
✦ Fonts: A click here specifies which fonts are used when a Web page
doesn’t include its own font definition.
✦ Languages: Internet Explorer can display multiple languages. Click here
to select which languages you need or to add extra language packs that
you’ve downloaded.
✦ Accessibility: To force IE to use your font style, font color, and font size —
no matter what the page is designed to do — click this button. (These
features help folks with limited eyesight who have customized their
browser font settings.)
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
You might be wondering what cookies are doing in this dialog box. The
name actually has nothing to do with baked goods in this context.
Instead, Web cookies are small files that are saved to your hard drive by
your Web browser to allow Web sites to automatically determine who
you are. (Ever wonder how Amazon.com always knows that it’s you who
is visiting? That’s because of a cookie.) Most cookies are innocuous
(and some sites even require them), but they can be used to store information about you, the sites that you visit, and the type of Web browser
that you use. So, if you like, you can click the Delete Cookies button and
wipe ’em out. Also, many Internet security programs — such as
Symantec’s Norton Personal Firewall (www.symantec.com) — will take
care of cookies as well by either blocking them or by prompting you to
determine whether you want to accept them.
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Configuring Internet Properties
The Security tab
You’ll see the settings shown in Figure 6-14 on the Security tab:
✦ The Web content zone: Betcha didn’t know that you could specify different security sites for the Internet as a whole, your local company
intranet, and the Web sites that you trust (and those that you’d like to
restrict), did you? Click the desired icon to set the security level for that
zone. To add sites to the zone that you’ve selected, click the sites
button.
✦ The security level: Drag the slider here to specify a security level, and
Windows XP displays the actions that it will take based upon the security level that you choose. You can build your own custom security level
by clicking the Custom Level button, or you can return this zone to
what Microsoft feels is appropriate by clicking the Default Level button.
Figure 6-14:
Set your
browser
security
level.
The Privacy tab
The Privacy tab is another “slider” tab, as you see in Figure 6-15. However,
the settings that you find here affect only the Internet zone:
✦ The privacy level: Drag the slider to choose an overall privacy setting for
the Web sites that you visit. Note: This also controls the cookies that I
mention a bit earlier in this section. Each privacy level is described next
to the slider. To import an existing IE privacy preferences file — something that your company might ask you to do — click the Import button.
Click the Advanced button to override the cookie handling at the privacy
level that you’ve chosen; you can specify your own cookie handling here.
Configuring Internet Properties
203
✦ Web site privacy: Heck, if you’re really interested in security, you can
even click the Edit button to specify the cookie handling for individual
Web sites! This might be just the ticket if a site that you like to visit
requires you to use its cookies, but you eschew cookies otherwise.
(Man, that is one ridiculous sentence. Who named these things,
anyway? Pee Wee Herman?)
Book II
Chapter 6
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
Figure 6-15:
Privacy is
easy to
set — or
override, as
necessary.
The Content tab
Here’s a tab that will interest every parent who’s concerned about kids surfing the Web (hang ten on Figure 6-16). The Content tab settings here include
✦ The Content Advisor: You can enable the Content Advisor to protect your
kids, but be aware that it’s nowhere near perfect. Although to be honest,
no Web content filter really is, including the expensive commercial programs. Why? Well, some sites rate themselves incorrectly. And other sites
include valuable medical and artistic information that might inadvertently
trigger alarms — for example, if you’re searching for information on the
human body for a science project. Anyway, to choose a level of content
safety, just click the Enable button and drag the “offensive” slider.
My recommendation is that you enable this feature only if you feel that
it’s absolutely necessary — and that you don’t rely on it as a foolproof
solution. (Instead, many parents simply limit Internet access to one
computer and keep a close eye on what’s being seen. This isn’t a
foolproof idea, either, but in my opinion, it’s better than relying on
imperfect software.)
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Configuring Internet Properties
✦ Certificates: These controls allow you to verify your identity to a Web
site; many companies use certificates to ensure the privacy of their
intranet data. Certificates can get pretty complex, which is why most
normal human beings don’t bother with ’em.
✦ AutoComplete: With AutoComplete enabled, IE automatically fills out
online forms, Web addresses, and user name/password combinations
that you’ve previously entered on a site. Click the AutoComplete button
to specify which types of data you want filled out. You can also clear
your AutoComplete history or clear the passwords in the history.
✦ My Profile: Click this button to select an Address Book entry that IE
should use as your Personal Profile. This is typically used only when
sending an e-mail message from a link on a site or when a site requests
your personal information. (Naturally, I get edgy about this one, so be
careful what you enter in your profile.)
Figure 6-16:
Filter and
certify
content —
or automatically
add it.
The Connections tab
The settings on this tab can be used to set up a dialup Internet connection,
a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connection, or a special proxy server
configuration; you can also modify your local area network (LAN) Internet
connection. Again, this ground is covered in other chapters, so I won’t
repeat myself here. To wit:
✦ Setting up a dialup connection is covered in Book II, Chapter 3.
✦ Setting up a VPN connection is covered in Book VIII, Chapter 4.
Configuring Internet Properties
205
✦ Setting up a LAN connection to the Internet is covered in Book VIII,
Chapter 2.
To set up a proxy configuration, you’ll need several pieces of information
from your network system administrator or your Internet service provider’s
(ISP) technical support department. And you should only set up and use a
proxy server at their specific request because configuring or using one
incorrectly can seriously mess around with your dialup and VPN connections. Therefore, leave any proxy settings alone unless you’re told to change
’em. (I do the same thing, so don’t feel bad.)
The Programs tab
✦ The program that runs when you edit a Web page
✦ The default e-mail application within Windows XP
✦ The default program that Windows XP uses when you read and post
Usenet newsgroup messages
✦ The program used for your Internet voice communications
✦ The Internet calendar application used within Internet Explorer
✦ The default contact list or Address Book used while you’re on the
Internet
Figure 6-17:
So, like,
what
program
does what?
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
Figure 6-17 illustrates the Programs tab; from here, you can choose which
programs handle your Internet functions, including
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Adding or Removing Programs
Note that a program that you install might overwrite these settings.
You can also choose to reset Internet Explorer to its default home and
search pages from this tab.
If you use both IE and another browser (like Netscape), you’ve probably
been nagged about whether Internet Explorer should be rightfully returned
to its spot as the default browser. To get rid of this irritating dialog box,
mark the Internet Explorer Should Check to See Whether It Is the Default
Browser check box.
The Advanced tab
The final tab on the Internet Properties dialog box is chock-full of dozens of
individual features that you can enable and disable. These settings affect
both Internet Explorer and many other Internet applications, so they’re
often mentioned in program manuals (and in hushed tones around late-night
campfires). The options are divided into seven rather nebulous categories;
some are a little more self-explanatory than others — like those in the
Browsing and Multimedia categories — but most are pretty cryptic.
Because it would take an entire chapter just to explain each setting — and
you won’t use 90 percent of them unless you’re asked to by your ISP, network administrator, or clergy — I’ll recommend that you right-click any field
and then click the What’s This? pop-up to display the individual help text for
that option.
Click OK to save your settings.
Adding or Removing Programs
Every Windows XP user should be familiar with the Control Panel dialog box
in Figure 6-18 because the Add or Remove Programs dialog box is the one
truly safe method of uninstalling applications from your system.
(Alternatively, some programs add an uninstall menu item in their All
Programs folder; this is fine, too, because it’s basically just a different way of
starting the same procedure.)
Let me reiterate: Never uninstall an application by simply deleting the
program and its folder! This can raise all sorts of havoc within XP — your
XP Registry file will eventually end up looking like Bourbon Street after a
particularly long night of Mardi Gras revelry. (And that’s A Bad Thing.) In
the worst-case scenario, deleting a program folder willy-nilly can even lead
to lockups and affect other programs that you didn’t even know were distant cousins to the original application.
Adding or Removing Programs
207
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Taking Control of
the Control Panel
Figure 6-18:
You want to
uninstall a
program?
You talk
to me.
Follow these steps to remove a program safely:
1. Click Control Panel from the Start menu and then choose Add or
Remove Programs.
After a few seconds, the Add or Remove Programs dialog box appear.
You’ll see a list of the programs that you’ve installed within Windows XP.
2. Click the application entry in the list.
The entry expands to display more information, including a
Change/Remove button.
If you’re having problems locating a program, you can click the Sort By
box at the upper-right of the dialog box to sort by Name, Size,
Frequency of Use, and Date Last Used.
Sorting by size is a great way to see which applications are taking up the
most space on your crowded hard drive. Removing a program at the top
of the list that you don’t need will free up a surprising amount of territory.
3. Click the Change/Remove button.
This will launch the application’s uninstall procedure, which varies
according to application and manufacturer.
4. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the uninstall process.
208
Fine-Tuning User Accounts
Unfortunately, some uninstall procedures don’t remove all the files associated with a program. Games, for example, are famous for leaving orphan
folders with Save files. Also, if you’ve relocated a shortcut that was placed
on your desktop, that shortcut won’t be deleted because it’s in a different
place. Therefore, I always take a moment to check to make sure that a program folder has been completely dusted after running the uninstall procedure. After you’ve officially uninstalled the application, you can indeed
delete any orphan folders left on your drive without fear of toasting your
system.
To help keep your drive cleaner and fresher smelling, you can also use a
commercial uninstall program like CleanSweep from Norton (www.symantec.
com). It can remove orphans for you as well as duplicate files and all sorts
of temporary files that would otherwise take up space. In fact, CleanSweep
(see Figure 6-19) can actually monitor the programs that you install and
make doggone sure that they’re completely uninstalled when you no longer
need them.
Figure 6-19:
Hey, that’s
Norton
CleanSweep!
A tidy app
indeed.
To close the Add or Remove Programs dialog box, click the Close button at
the upper-right corner.
Fine-Tuning User Accounts
The User Accounts Control Panel dialog box isn’t really a dialog box. As you
can see in Figure 6-20, it’s actually a classy and helpful wizard that features
full onscreen instructions for everything you do. (Way to go, Big M!)
Fine-Tuning User Accounts
209
Therefore, I won’t go into step-by-step detail concerning each function, but I
would like to take a moment to list what can be done from the wizard
because everyone who shares their machine with others will likely need to
perform some type of magic with a user account.
Book II
Chapter 6
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
Figure 6-20:
The truly
magnificent
User
Accounts
Control
Panel
wizard.
From the wizard, you can
✦ Create a new account.
✦ Change your account name.
✦ Change a pesky password.
✦ Change the picture associated with an account.
✦ Change the type of account. (You can choose either Administrator or
Limited.)
✦ Turn the Guest account on or off.
✦ Specify whether your users see the Welcome screen or a login prompt.
✦ Turn on fast user switching (where one user doesn’t have to fully log off
to allow another user to log on).
210
Configuring Phone and Modem Options
Configuring Phone and Modem Options
The last commonly used Control Panel dialog box is the Phone and Modem
Options dialog box, as shown in Figure 6-21.
Figure 6-21:
Setting up
locations is
easy in
Windows
XP.
The Dialing Rules tab
From this tab, you can create or switch locations. Whoops, you haven’t been
properly introduced: A location holds a single dialing configuration for your
PC’s modem. This includes
✦ The local area code
✦ Any dialing prefixes or numbers necessary to access an outside line
✦ Any codes required by your long distance or international carrier
✦ The ability to disable call-waiting
✦ Whether the PC should use tone or pulse dialing
Of course, locations are a great feature for those who travel extensively with
a laptop PC because you can set up a different location for each town that
you visit often. In old Madrid one day and Berlin the next? No problem, just
change locations and — bam! — you can make a call or connect to a local
dialup provider without any fuss. Click the New button to set up a new location, or click the Edit button to change the rules for the selected location.
To switch to a new location, just click it in the list.
Configuring Phone and Modem Options
211
The Modems tab
If you have more than one modem connected to your PC — or if you’re using
a laptop and a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association
(PCMCIA) modem — you can add or remove the modem from your system
from this tab or modify its properties (like turning down or turning off that
doggone speaker).
Click Add to run the Add Hardware wizard, which will help you install a new
modem. Click a modem to select it from the list and then click Remove; you
can then unplug an external modem safely (or shut down your PC and
remove an internal modem).
The Advanced tab
However, if you do have instructions to install a new provider, click Add to
select it from the Add Provider list. To delete a provider, select it from the
Provider list and then click Remove. Select a provider from the Provider list
and click Configure to change its properties.
Taking Control of
the Control Panel
This is definitely not a tab to mess around with unless you have specific
instructions from your ISP or modem manufacturer’s technical support
department. These telephony providers are actually software drivers and
sundry pieces of your operating system that control how Windows XP handles your modem. (If that description sounds scary, I meant it that way.)
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Book II: Windows XP
Chapter 7: Easy XP
Troubleshooting
In This Chapter
Taking a moment to relax
Troubleshooting your hardware and software
Using Automated System Recovery (ASR)
Re-installing Windows XP
Locating troubleshooting help
I
hate my Rubik’s Cube. I’ve never been able to solve the silly thing, and it
just sits on my desk taunting me, driving me to distraction until I grab it
and make yet another futile attempt to match up all those squares. (Perhaps
I’m in need of cube therapy.) What really gets me, though, is how a 10-year
old kid can pick up that same cube, spend 45 seconds turning it in some
wizard way, and then drop the solved puzzle and move on to something different. Geez! Why is such a difficult thing so easy for some people to do?
Troubleshooting Windows XP has the same frustrating effect on most PC
owners. You sit, staring at the keyboard, wondering why your operating
system no longer works right and how you can fix it. Often, the solution is
to call a friend or family member who can help — or, in the worst case, pack
the entire heap up and take it to a computer shop where techno-types smile
that mysterious little smile and fix your problem in 45 seconds. And then
charge you an arm and a leg.
This chapter is here to help you tackle your XP troubleshooting puzzle. It
might take more than 45 seconds, but you’ll feel an enormous sense of
accomplishment. Plus, you might avoid lightening your wallet.
Relax and Breathe Easy
Here’s the first step in Mark’s Troubleshooting Procedure: When the
going gets tough, the techs relax. That’s right, I said relax. Even though
Windows XP — or your PC in general — is acting crazy, keep these important points in mind:
214
Relax and Breathe Easy
✦ Never blame yourself. Even the most nimble-fingered computer programmer or hardware technician can make a mistake. (Heck, I’ve heard
that even His Billness makes them every so often.) Accidents eventually
happen — and, as with poorly written software or viruses, the fault
might not even be yours, anyway. Don’t treat yourself to a guilt trip.
✦ Remember your backup. As long as you take my advice throughout this
book (ahem! back up your data!), you won’t lose your life’s work.
✦ This, too, shall pass. Even when hardware and software fail, you can
find the problem. And remember that it’s only temporary . . . certainly
not unsolvable. (Not even my Rubik’s Cube is impossible to solve.) You
will be able to get your PC back.
✦ Help is available. Besides friends and family, PC user group members,
and resources that you can find on the Internet, you can always turn to
the tech experts at your local computer store for professional help at a
price. (But wouldn’t it feel great if you could fix it yourself?)
And one final tip while you’re preparing to troubleshoot:
✦ Your PC is not against you. The troubleshooting process is not a battle
between you, your hardware, and your software. Many folks tell me that
they find it very easy to personalize the anger they feel and direct it
towards that inanimate hunk of metal, plastic, and silicon. Stay calm,
and remember this important Mark’s Maxim:
Don’t take out your frustration on your PC (no matter how uncooperative it seems).
To illustrate this last point, here’s an honest-to-goodness true story that I
love to tell. In the days of DOS, before Plug and Play or automatic configurations within Windows, adding a Small Computer System Interface (SCSI)
adapter card and even just one SCSI device to your PC was a feat on the
order of Hercules cleaning the Augean Stables. An old friend of mine — who
was actually quite handy with a screwdriver and normally very well versed
in PC hardware — spent over six continuous hours attempting to install a
standard SCSI card and a SCSI hard drive in his 386 PC. He didn’t curse, and
he didn’t scream. I’ll never forget the look of utter peace on his face when he
good-naturedly clamped the recalcitrant card in his metal vise and proceeded to melt that SCSI adapter with his portable torch.
He uses Windows XP these days — but he never has forgiven the SCSI interface standard.
The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
215
The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
Time for the star of our show: Mark’s Step-by-Step XP Troubleshooting
Procedure! You’ll note that this process doesn’t center completely on software because it’s often hard to tell at the beginning whether the problem at
hand is caused by Windows XP or by your PC’s hardware.
1. Simply shut down Windows XP.
Always check for hard drive errors after you’ve been forced to shut
down XP by simply turning off your PC. For instructions on how to scan
your drives for errors, see Chapter 5 of this mini-book.
2. If you’ve reset your PC and the problem continues, double-check all
the cables leading to your PC.
Yes, I know this sounds ridiculous, but I’ll bet you your next paycheck
that they do this on nuclear submarines, too. You might not have problems with your AC power cord, for example, but it’s very easy to accidentally unplug other connectors from your PC — like your keyboard,
network, or external devices such as your modem and printer. If you’ve
recently moved or bumped against your PC, loose connections are
prime suspects for all sorts of mischief.
If you’ve just replaced a cable, and a peripheral is now an expensive
doorstop (or your network suddenly no longer recognizes your PC), try
a spare cable that you know works. Although bad cables are rare, they
do happen. (Bad Ethernet cables have been known to cause insomnia.)
3. If all your cables are shipshape, your next mission is to sit — and
think.
Take a moment to consider any software or hardware that you’ve recently
installed that might be causing (or contributing to) the problem. This is
why I always install new hardware or software one piece at a time: It’s very
easy to tell which new addition is wreaking havoc. A PC that was originally
chugging along nicely can suddenly turn rogue with one seemingly
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Troubleshooting
Many folks often don’t have to move past this first step. Believe it or
not, a simple shut down will solve a good 25 percent of the temporary
glitches that you might encounter, such as a frozen mouse or a lockedup PC resulting from a power failure. Shutting down works because it
resets all your PC’s hardware (and XP itself), returning everything to
normal. (By the way, if you can’t reach the Start menu because your PC
is locked up tight or the mouse doesn’t move anymore, you have the
right to simply press and hold your power button until your PC turns
itself off.)
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The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
innocent change. (Note that this also includes any program or operating
system updates, patches, or upgrades that you might have just applied.)
I also use System Restore points liberally when installing new stuff. Find
more on the System Restore utility in Chapter 5 of this mini-book.
4. Still no go? Time to shut down and remove any offending external
devices — such as an external hard drive that’s dead in the water —
to see whether your PC suddenly returns to normal.
If so, that peripheral is your prime suspect, so try it on another PC to
determine whether the device is still working. Also try using another
cable. If the peripheral works fine on another PC, your problem lies in
either the device driver or the device configuration that you’ve set up in
XP. Check the manual for the device, re-install the device driver, and —
if all else fails — contact the manufacturer’s technical support.
5. Uninstall any programs that are misbehaving or locking up XP and
then re-install them.
Before you apply a patch or upgrade, try using the application to see
whether it still exhibits the problem. If not, the software developer
has (as Desi so eloquently put it) “some ’splainin’ to do.” Visit the
developer’s Web site and check for information about compatibility,
especially with Windows XP Service Pack patches, which often wreak
havoc on unprepared software.
6. If you’ve recently made changes in the Control Panel, the System
Properties dialog box, or your networking dialog box, take a moment
to revisit those settings and verify that they’re still correct.
Unfortunately, anyone can easily and accidentally change a setting
within one of the Control Panel applets. To make sure that you don’t disturb something, just click Cancel if everything looks okay.
7. If you’re still having problems, check your hard drives (see Figure 7-1).
Use the procedure that I demonstrate in Chapter 5 of this mini-book to
verify that your drives are free from disk errors.
8. Scan your hard drives and removable disks.
I talk about antivirus software throughout the book; I use Norton
AntiVirus from Symantec (www.symantec.com), as shown in Figure 7-2.
Each time that you run a scan, take a second to make sure that you’re
using the latest antivirus signature data file from the developer’s Web
site. Or, if you’re using Norton AntiVirus, you can schedule LiveUpdate
to automatically check for updated virus data files.
The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
217
Figure 7-1:
Check your
hard drive
often for
errors.
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Easy XP
Troubleshooting
Figure 7-2:
Scan your
system with
Norton
AntiVirus.
9. Verify that you’re still connected to and receiving packets from your
home or office network — or, if you’re using a broadband connection, your cable modem or digital subscriber line (DSL).
a. Display your network connections (as shown in Figure 7-3) by
choosing Start➪Connect To➪Show All Connections.
b. Check to make sure that each connection reads Enabled.
If your network is down, XP has a nasty habit of slowing down to a crawl
when you open files or use Windows Explorer . . . and many applications
that expect a network connection as their divine right can lock up
tighter than Fort Knox. Don’t forget to berate your network administrator or tech staff — boy, they just love it when you do that!
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The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
Check network connections
Figure 7-3:
Check the
status of
your
network
connections.
10. If you’re using a shareware or freeware screensaver, realize that a
slew of really badly written screensavers readily available for download on the Internet can take XP on a permanent vacation.
To test whether your favorite Care Bears screensaver is causing those
intermittent lockups, use the following steps.
a. Right-click your desktop, choose Properties, and then click the
Screen Saver tab.
b. Choose None and then click OK.
c. Reboot and use your PC for a day without any screensaver — or
choose one of the XP screensavers provided by Microsoft, which
are proven stable.
The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
219
11. Check whether another user with Administrator access might have
changed the write-protect status of your applications or your
documents.
This step is for those who share a PC with other users by taking advantage of XP’s multiuser features.
This is usually the case when Word complains that it doesn’t have the
rights to open a document that you were working on yesterday. Have a
user with an Administrator account log in and verify the permissions on
your applications and document files (more on this in Chapter 4 of this
mini-book).
12. Even if you can boot in Safe mode, first try the XP System
Configuration Utility (see Figure 7-4), which can help you diagnose
where the trouble lies in your boot process.
Note that you can try a Diagnostic Startup (which offers more functionality than Safe mode), or you can choose a Selective Startup and
specify which boot steps to enable.
b. After you choose your boot options, click OK and then reboot
Windows XP.
Figure 7-4:
Try a
selective
startup with
the System
Configuration Utility.
Easy XP
Troubleshooting
a. Run the utility by choosing Start➪Run, typing msconfig in the Run
dialog box, and then clicking OK.
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The Troubleshooting Process, Step by Step
To disable just one startup program, click the Startup tab and clear the
check box alongside the offending application. This makes it a breeze to
troubleshoot problems that you encounter when installing new software
that loads automatically during the boot process. You can repeat this
process to disable more than one startup item. If Windows XP suddenly
boots correctly and your problem appears to be solved, immediately
uninstall the program that you last disabled and contact the software
developer’s technical support.
13. If you’re still with me, it’s time to get serious with your hardware and
display Device Manager (see Figure 7-5), as I describe in Chapter 5 of
this mini-book.
Make sure that XP hasn’t flagged any of your hardware devices as either
disabled or not working; if a component is flagged with an exclamation
point, a little investigation might very well turn up the solution to the
problem.
Figure 7-5:
Device
Manager is
a handy
diagnostic
tool.
At this point, you’ve exhausted most of the easier troubleshooting chores
and fixes that you can perform. It’s time to get drastic.
Drastic Things That You Won’t Do Often
221
Safe mode to the rescue
If your PC is locking up before you even get a
chance to click the Start button (or freezes
before your desktop icons even appear), it
becomes nearly impossible to get far enough to
fix anything. Although you can boot from the
Windows XP install disc, your choices are
severely limited. Even when you know what
needs to be done (like a specific driver file that
needs to be deleted or a device that needs
removed in Device Manager), the old witticism
remains true: “You can’t get there from here.”
If your PC is in the midst of a breakdown and
you can’t reach Windows, you’ll find indepth
Safe mode coverage in Chapter 5 of this minibook.
Drastic Things That You Won’t Do Often
As I say at the beginning of this mini-book, Windows XP is much harder to
crash than previous versions of Windows. In fact, it even attempts to automatically fix system files that are corrupted by other programs by using the
Windows File Protection feature. However, the folks in Redmond can only do
so much to armor-plate their favorite son. You might end up with a PC that
makes even the most dedicated PC technicians shake their heads in
defeat . . . and if that happens, it’s time to read this section.
Using Automated System Recovery
As I mention earlier, I take full advantage of XP’s System Recovery utility.
But if your PC is in truly bad shape and you can’t run the System Recovery
program, your next step will likely be to run the XP Automated System
Recovery (ASR) feature, which you can activate during the boot cycle.
I cover ASR in detail in Chapter 5 of this mini-book, so I won’t go into
specifics here. Just remember that ASR is only available with Windows XP
Professional, so if you’re running Windows XP Home, you can forget that I
even brought up the idea. (Sorry.)
Book II
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Easy XP
Troubleshooting
Luckily, Windows XP maintains an old friend
from the days of Windows 95 and Windows 98:
Safe mode, which is the alternate boot-up mode
where device drivers are disabled (generally a
very good thing if your PC is experiencing bad
karma) and you once again have access to
Windows Explorer and basic XP functionality.
Although Safe mode isn’t always available —
sometimes Windows XP is so badly obfuscated
that even Safe mode won’t work — it’s a valuable addition to your troubleshooting toolbox.
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Drastic Things That You Won’t Do Often
Re-installing Windows XP
If your entire operating system is in serious jeopardy — that is, it won’t
boot, or it locks up every single time you use it as soon as your mouse
cursor appears — you can re-install Windows. (Microsoft also calls this
remedy a repair installation or an in-place upgrade.)
So-called learned people in the world will swear up and down that you
should never, never re-install Windows XP. Mention such a drastic step to
these self-appointed experts, and they’ll immediately start whooping,
“There’s no reason to do it, and you might possibly launch a thermonuclear
warhead at Nepal if you diddle with a single setting. Just suffer! After all, it’s
Windows.”
Well, good reader, I’m here to tell you the honest truth. You certainly won’t
be re-installing Windows XP every weekend but only as a last resort after
you’ve tried ASR and consulted with the techs at your local computer repair
shop. However, there are situations (like the two I just mentioned) where
re-installing your operating system might solve your problem.
Back up whatever personal files you can from your system before reinstalling Windows XP. (Perhaps use Safe mode, which I mention earlier in
this chapter.) Also, if you’d like to try to keep the personal files that are on
the drive, do not choose a clean install, which basically wipes out the existing Windows installation.
If your PC came equipped with a system restore CD-ROM, note that using
a system restore disc is not the same thing as re-installing just Windows
XP! When you use the manufacturer’s system restore disc, your hard drive
will probably be completely erased and reformatted, and the hard drive
will be restored to the exact condition that it was in the first time when you
booted your PC. All your files, applications, and settings will be gone, and
you’ll have to set up all your multiuser accounts as well! If there’s no other
way, and you can’t re-install Windows XP from an actual Windows XP installation CD-ROM, please make certain that every file you want to save has
been safely stored on a Zip disk or CD-R disc before you use the system
restore disc. (Oh, and don’t trust a floppy disk with the backup job.
They’re far too unreliable.)
If you did receive (or buy) a bona fide Windows XP installation CD-ROM,
follow the instructions that accompanied the CD-ROM to install Windows
XP. Make sure that you choose to Upgrade on the Welcome to Windows
Setup page when prompted for the installation type. However, here are a
few tricks that I want to mention first:
HELP! Additional Troubleshooting Resources
223
✦ You might have to re-install some applications. Although the information that most programs place in the Registry (and in their own .ini
files) won’t be affected by a re-install, some applications might no longer
work after you re-install Windows XP. (If you’re re-installing Windows XP,
you’re dangling from the end of your rope anyway, so you might as
well go for the gusto and take the chance of having to re-install a few
applications.)
✦ You need the same product key. If Windows XP came pre-installed on
your PC, you should find the product key on an official-looking sticker
somewhere on the PC’s case.
You can back up the Windows XP Product Activation file. It’s named
wpa.dbl, and you’ll find it in your C:\Windows\System32\ folder. This
file can be copied back into the same folder after you’ve re-installed XP,
if necessary (as long as you haven’t made any drastic changes to your
hardware in the interim).
✦ You’ll lose all your System Restore points. Of course, if you can’t get to
’em, they don’t do that much good . . . but I wanted to mention the loss,
anyway.
Once again, the best-laid plans of mice and trackballs (sorry about that) can
go awry, but as long as you’ve backed up your personal files and important
documents, you will persevere! (even if you do have to perform that clean
install and manually reload your files and applications).
HELP! Additional Troubleshooting Resources
If you have an XP troubleshooting question, you might be able to make a
phone call to your local computer shop for a quick answer — even after the
warranty expires — but most folks I know turn more often to the source.
After all, Microsoft built the doggone thing.
In this final section, I discuss the three troubleshooting resources offered by
Mother Bill. (And there’s even an option that doesn’t require the Internet.)
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Easy XP
Troubleshooting
✦ You have to reactivate Windows XP. Remember how you had to activate Windows XP when you first installed it or first started your new
PC? Activation is Microsoft’s new anti-piracy protection scheme; luckily,
the folks in Redmond have made allowances for catastrophe and will
allow you to reactivate a legitimate copy of Windows XP.
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HELP! Additional Troubleshooting Resources
The Windows XP Help system
I show you how to use the Help system in the very first chapter of this minibook. (See, I told you I like to plan ahead.) But I’d also like to point out that
the Microsoft Knowledge Base entries that you’ll find in Help (which, to no
one’s surprise, are pulled directly from Microsoft’s Knowledge Base Web site)
are particularly valuable when you’re troubleshooting problems with XP.
I also like to use the Search within Previous Results feature when digging for
troubleshooting information in the Help system. For example, if I’m trying to
diagnose a problem with a video card, I can search for video card troubleshooting and then search within just those results for media player. You’ll
find the Search within Previous Results check box when you display the
results of a top-level search, as shown in Figure 7-6.
Microsoft tech support
Microsoft offers both online and telephone technical support, using real
human beings. This is probably the most valuable, free troubleshooting
resource around, along with the technical support that you receive from the
manufacturer when you buy your PC. Because all Microsoft products have
different support telephone numbers, check your XP documentation for the
proper number to call.
Figure 7-6:
Dig for
specific
information
by
searching
within
previous
results.
HELP! Additional Troubleshooting Resources
225
The Microsoft Web site
Of course, you can also always find Microsoft online (if you can still get
online with the trouble that you’re encountering) at www.microsoft.com.
The Microsoft Web site is stuffed full of information, and each product typically has its own home page. For example, you can visit the XP site at
www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/default.asp and download that seasonal screensaver that you wanted so badly. (Yeah, right.)
Those unsupported newsgroups
Don’t provide anyone with any personal information within these newsgroups because the individuals with whom you’re talking do not work for
Microsoft. (This is a common sense Internet thing.)
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Troubleshooting
Called Windows newsgroups within Windows Help, don’t be fooled into thinking that these Usenet newsgroup discussions are moderated or monitored
by Microsoft in any way. Therefore, you’ll get plenty of opinions (and what
passes for wit on the newsgroups) if you post a troubleshooting question
here, but there is a chance that someone else will recognize the trouble that
you’re having and volunteer a solution. Take any solution you’re handed,
however, with a whopping big grain of salt.
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Book II: Windows XP
Book III
The Internet
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Making Sense of the Internet ..........................................................................229
Chapter 2: Adding a Dialup Connection to Windows XP ................................................243
Chapter 3: Protecting Your Internet Privacy....................................................................251
Chapter 4: Cruising the Web with Internet Explorer ......................................................263
Chapter 5: Harnessing Your E-Mail ....................................................................................281
Chapter 6: Instant Messaging Done Right ........................................................................303
Chapter 1: Making Sense
of the Internet
In This Chapter
Defining the Internet
Exploring Internet technologies
Comparing Internet connection methods
Checking your PC’s minimum hardware and software requirements
W
hile the Internet continues to grow and change before our eyes, it
seems to be getting more complex instead of simpler to use. The
search tools once used to locate stuff just five years ago (such as ARCHIE
and GOPHER) are practically extinct now, and more everyday uses for the
Internet become less exotic seemingly every month . . . instant messaging,
Web cams, blogs. I know some folks who have told me they’re ready to
throw their modems out the window and return to the blissfully ignorant
days when we all wrote letters with (gasp) paper stamps affixed.
If you’re somewhat wary of the Internet, however, don’t give up hope. In this
chapter, I explain what’s available online, using actual English words of
fewer than five letters. (Usually. I might have to hyphenate some of the
techno-nerd terms, however.) If all you currently do online is visit sites on
the Web and communicate through e-mail, you’re missing out on a ton of
cool activities, and you’re likely a year or two behind the latest Internet
technologies. Hey, I live for this stuff.
So stick with me here to gain a good grasp of what you can do via the
Internet and what types of Internet connections are, well, hip and happening. You can then jump to the other chapters within this mini-book for indepth coverage of major Internet applications such as your Web browser
and e-mail program.
Exactly What Is the Internet, Anyway?
Many of the PC owners whom I talk to are convinced that the Internet is a
real substance. They’re not quite sure whether it’s animal, vegetable, or
mineral, but they’re sure that they’ve either got it or want it inside their
computer. (It’s probably a tiny, glowing ball: a cross between Tinkerbell
and St. Elmo’s fire.)
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Exactly What Is the Internet, Anyway?
Seriously, though, you don’t need to know what the Internet is in order to
use it. From a PC owner’s standpoint, you’d actually be correct (in a way) if
you said that the Internet begins at the phone connection or the cable
modem coaxial cable. Therefore, if you’d like to skip to the next section and
avoid a glance underneath the hood (or if you’ve already read my description of the Internet in another book), be my guest.
Still here? Good. To find out a little more about how your PC connects to the
online world, Figure 1-1 illustrates the process.
The Web server
where the site's
pages are stored
The ISP's server
Your PC
Figure 1-1:
An eagleeye view of
the Internet.
Local connection over
phone lines or cable
Long distance connection
over the major network
trunk lines that service
Internet traffic
When you connect to the Internet, here’s a brief description of what’s actually happening when you visit a Web site via a Web browser:
✦ Your PC connects to an ISP. ISP is the techie slang for Internet service
provider, which allows you access to the Internet proper. Your ISP
account will usually include reserved space on its computers for your
own Web site as well as one or two e-mail addresses. This is analogous
to you dialing the telephone for a voice call, using a specific number
that will connect you to the other party.
✦ Your ISP locates the Web site across the Internet. You might hear
techie types talk about pipelines when they discuss the Internet.
Although no physical pipes are involved, the term makes a certain
warped sense. In this case, your ISP uses the desired Web site’s name
(its Universal Resource Locator; URL) that you request to locate the
computer that it resides on (a Web server) and then creates a pipeline
between your PC and the server. (For example, the URL www.mlcbooks.
com leads to my Web site, which runs on my coal-driven Pentium III
server in my office.)
✦ Your computer communicates directly with the Web server. After you
make a connection with a Web site, a Web page displays in which you
can click links and images to send commands to the Web server, which
loads other pages or even sends your PC packing to other Web servers.
(How rude!) This is much like the end result of a voice telephone call:
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
231
You’re conversing with the other party, using a language that you both
understand.
This is the essence of everything that you do on the Internet: computers
connecting with other computers (no matter where on the planet they might
be) and exchanging information of various types (e-mail messages, Web
pages, or a real-time video signal).
So how does your ISP know where that particular Web server is on the
network? I won’t go into any crush-depth detail here, but here’s the quick
version. Every computer on the Internet is assigned an address — Internet
Protocol (IP) address for short — that identifies it to other computers. (This
address is technically a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
[TCP/IP] address. No glazing over of the eyes yet.) This IP address takes the
form of four groups of numbers separated by periods, like this example:
192.168.1.100. (Sophisticated computers keep track of who has what IP
address and also what English-language Web address, like Microsoft.com, is
tied to what IP address.)
See? Like I said, it’s beautifully organized chaos, and I’m proud to say that
my Web server adds three or four additional Web sites to the billions on the
planet!
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
Exploring the potential of the Web
Start with the familiar. When it comes to the wonders of the modern
Internet, you just can’t get any more mundane and humdrum than the World
Wide Web. Heck, my kids actually don’t remember the days when a TV commercial didn’t list a company’s Web site or when schoolwork didn’t involve
an online search. (The endless cycle continues: What did we do before the
Web? Or microwave ovens? Or air conditioning? Or the telephone? Or a
sharpened stick?)
Surfing the Web
Visiting Web sites is as simple as starting your browser (in this case,
Internet Explorer, as shown in Figure 1-2), typing in a Web site address in
the Address field, and pressing Enter. Boom. (That’s my company Web site,
MLC Books Online.) Folks will surf for all sorts of reasons, including online
shopping, research, and banking.
Making Sense
of the Internet
Whew! Now that the egghead description is complete (for those who gave a
hoot), here’s what you can actually do when your PC is connected to the
Internet. You’ve got the Web to explore; you can host your own site and
keep journals online; you can keep in touch with e-mail; and more.
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Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
Figure 1-2:
Web browsing is as
easy as
typing in an
address.
I discuss Internet Explorer (IE) in all its exquisite design in Chapter 4 of this
mini-book.
A Web site’s extension (the three-character suffix behind the period) can
help you keep track of the major categories of sites. Some common ones are
✦ .com: A commercial or business site
✦ .org: Usually a club, organization or nonprofit group
✦ .gov: A federal or state government Web site
Building a Web site
Aha, here are more interesting waters. Despite the somewhat magical
techno-wizard reputation of Web masters and Web designers, you can run
your own Web site to support your needs whether it concerns your hobby,
your business, or your grandchildren. You need
✦ A little creative work
✦ The proper type of Internet connection, whether an always-on connection such as cable, a digital subscriber line (DSL), or a network
✦ The right software, such as the Windows XP Web Publishing Wizard or
Microsoft’s FrontPage
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
233
Unfortunately, all the intricacies of designing and building Web pages and
running a Web site are beyond the scope of this mini-book, but a short stroll
through the shelves of your local bookstore will provide you with dozens of
books devoted completely to the subjects of Web design and Web server
setup. I can personally recommend the great books Building a Web Site For
Dummies and Creating Web Pages All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies,
both from Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Blogging along on the Web
Until about a year ago, I would have thought that blogging was a bread pudding that’s gone bad or a B-movie monster. However, now that I run my own
Web log, or blog for short, I’m much more sophisticated. (Can’t you tell?)
Blogs, the latest cutting-edge Internet technology in writing a diary, are Web
sites that are updated on a fairly constant basis by an individual, crammed
full of daily entries like a journal. Instead of keeping your journal private,
however, the idea behind a blog is to share your thoughts with anyone
who’s interested — family members, co-workers, or fellow hobbyists. Blogs
usually include the books and music that the person is currently enjoying as
well as links to other sites that the person favors.
You’re welcome to immerse yourself in my random thoughts on my blog, On
the Trail of Fred Garvin, at http://theblog.mlcbooks.com. War and Peace
it ain’t, but I certainly do have my opinions.
Communicating via e-mail
Long before the arrival of the Web, the Internet provided a number of truly
valuable services — and today, Internet e-mail is still the most important
thing that I do online. Avoiding spam like a bull fighter, I can converse with
folks planet-wide and send them all sorts of stuff: Microsoft Office documents, programs, Web links, and even photos of my 1964 Cadillac two-door
hardtop (lovingly named Princess Grace), as you can see in Figure 1-4.
Anyone running Windows XP can use Outlook Express to send, receive, and
manage e-mail. I think that Outlook Express is one of the best free programs
that Microsoft has ever produced . . . and to that end, Chapter 5 of this minibook is dedicated to Outlook Express.
Book III
Chapter 1
Making Sense
of the Internet
If you’re interested in blogging, try the blog creation program I use: Blog,
by Fahim A. Farook, which is available on his Web site at http://scope.
nortiq.com/index.htm. Figure 1-3 illustrates the server side of the program, where you type or paste your entries. If you’d rather create a site
directly on the Web (without using your PC as a server), try Blogger at
www.blogger.com.
234
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
Figure 1-3:
Blogging
can be
good fun.
If you travel often or you need to check your e-mail on any computer with a
Web browser, you can use a Web-based e-mail account like those offered by
Microsoft’s Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) and Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com).
Most Web-based e-mail services are free, but in order to get the really choice
features — like spam filtering or additional space for attachments — you
must subscribe for a monthly or yearly fee.
You can also use applications that will allow you to run your own mailing
list, which is an automated e-mail discussion group, usually concentrating
on a specific topic or supporting a specific company/product. Check out the
Arrow Mailing List Server at www.jadebox.com/arrow for a good example
of a shareware mailing list server.
File transferring via FTP
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is one of the bona fide dinosaurs of the Internet;
unlike other antique Internet applications, however, FTP is still alive and
doing very well, thank you. You can use FTP to transfer files to and from
remote computers; the computer that you connect to runs (you guessed it!)
an FTP server.
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
235
Figure 1-4:
Now that,
ladies and
gentlemen,
is a car . . .
even in
e-mail.
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Chapter 1
Communicating with instant messaging
E-mail is great, but what if you want to share that gossip now? With
Windows XP and Microsoft Messenger, you can chat with others by typing
your messages in real-time — as long as your family and friends are online
and available, you can now communicate with them in seconds.
For the full details on Messenger (and other instant messaging programs
from folks other than Microsoft), check out Chapter 6 of this mini-book.
Reading newsgroups
Think of newsgroups as huge discussion boards. Most aren’t moderated, and
virtually all participants choose to remain anonymous, so opinions and
arguments abound . . . and often escalate into the dreaded flame war, where
Making Sense
of the Internet
Internet Explorer provides built-in support for FTP transfers, but IE is definitely on the Spartan side when it comes to features. If you’re planning on
using FTP often, I recommend that you use a separate application to transfer files. Figure 1-5 illustrates AceFTP 3 Pro, my FTP program of choice. It’s a
shareware bargain at only $30 when you download your copy; you can register at the Visicom Media Web site, www.visicommedia.com.
236
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
dozens of messages get heaped on some poor defenseless, unsuspecting
new member (called a newbie in newsgroup vernacular). Remember, there’s
no sheriff in town, so most newsgroups are wild, lawless territories.
With that understood, I absolutely adore newsgroups! Each newsgroup is
dedicated to a certain topic, be it Elvis, WWII fighter planes, The Simpsons,
or something in-between. Thanks to the specific nature of newsgroups, subscribing (joining) to only those newsgroups with information that you find of
interest is relatively easy. Your ISP will usually provide you with access to its
newsgroup server when you sign up.
And newsgroups offer more than just the chance to discuss a topic: Many
groups are dedicated to certain types of file downloads, so you can share
images, sounds, movies, and even programs with others. I’ve also found
newsgroups to be invaluable sources of free tips and advice — always taken
with a grain of salt, naturally.
As a first stop before you join the group scene, pick up a copy of my favorite
freeware newsreader: Xnews, written by Luu Tran, and available on his Web
site at http://Xnews.newsguy.com. Figure 1-6 shows Xnews in action. As a
free alternative, try Google Groups at http://groups.google.com — it’s
all Web based, so no additional software is necessary.
Figure 1-5:
Do the FTP
thing with
AceFTP 3
Pro.
Exploring the Possibilities of Your Internet Connection
237
Figure 1-6:
Share a
piece of
your mind
with Xnews.
Book III
Chapter 1
Using Web cams and Web videoconferencing
Is the widespread use of video on the Web still so far away? Large corporations that have nationwide or global offices have been using Web videoconferencing for some time, but they have the super-fast T1 connections to the
Internet that can easily handle video data. Regular folks with dialup modem
connections, however, simply don’t have the bandwidth for decent video
streaming.
The recent popularity of high-speed broadband connections such as DSL
and cable make it much more likely that you’ll be able to offer a video feed
that’s larger than a postage stamp. So who knows?; maybe the large-scale
acceptance of Web video conferencing really is just over the next technological hill.
Making Sense
of the Internet
I shouldn’t forget one of the cornerstones of Web technology that’s been
“right around the corner” now for three or four years: the ability to send
video from one computer to another by using a special type of minimal digital video (DV) camera: a Web cam. For some time now, early adopters have
been trumpeting the idea of Web videoconferencing (where several folks can
get together over the Net for a real-time video meeting).
238
Understanding Internet Connections
Understanding Internet Connections
If you’re wondering what DSL stands for or how the speed of a cable modem
connection stacks up against your old phone modem, here I discuss each of
the common connection types as well as their pros and cons.
Dialup connections
Still the single most common type of Internet connection, the hoary dialup
modem dates back to the days of the early ’80s. Dialup connections use
standard telephone lines. In fact, you can consider a dialup connection to be
a telephone call between two computers.
Dialup pros
✦ Simple equipment: A dialup connection requires only a standard voice
telephone line and an inexpensive modem.
✦ Easy access: Dialup Internet access is available anywhere that telephone service exists.
✦ Less cost: ISPs charge a minimal amount for dialup access
($10–$25/month, as long as you’re calling a local access number).
Dialup cons
✦ Busy signals: A dialup connection might leave your telephone line busy
(depending on the feature set offered by your modem).
✦ Slow speed: A dialup connection is much, much slower than all other
forms of Internet access.
✦ Reconnection hassles: Your PC must dial your ISP each time to make a
connection before you have online access.
Dialup access still has its merits, but I wouldn’t recommend a dialup connection unless your Internet needs are limited to e-mail and five minutes’
worth of browsing a day.
ISDN connections
I’ll be brutally honest: Avoid ISDN at all costs. (ISDN stands for Integrated
Services Digital Network — or, as witty hardware types call it, It Still Does
Nothing.) Heck, I’m not even going to recommend it in place of a dialup connection. ISDN was the first broadband connection method that used regular
phone lines, and all the techno-wizard pundits predicted that ISDN would be
the cornerstone of civilization as we know it.
Understanding Internet Connections
239
Unfortunately, ISDN hardware is more expensive and complex than any
other high-speed connection technology, and you still have to dial up. That’s
right, it’s not always on like the better broadband technologies that I discuss next. Plus, the least expensive ISDN connection is only a little more
than twice as fast as a dialup connection, yet DSL and cable are much faster.
For these reasons, ISDN never had a chance and has been completely
obscured by DSL and cable. Don’t touch ISDN with the proverbial ten-foot
pole.
DSL connections
DSL, which turns out to be what ISDN was supposed to be, is one of the two
most common high-speed connections. As long as you’re within the DSL
service area of your telephone provider and your ISP, you can move to DSL.
DSL pros
✦ Always-on connection: No dialing necessary before you surf
✦ Fast: True broadband access speeds
✦ Basic equipment: Uses standard telephone wiring
DSL cons
✦ More cost: You must either rent or buy a DSL modem, which is more
expensive than a familiar dialup modem.
✦ Limited access: DSL access might not be available in your area.
I recommend DSL for anyone who spends more than an hour a night online
or who specifically needs faster data transfer.
Cable modem connections
Cable Internet access just plain rocks; it’s the other popular broadband connection technology on your block.
Cable pros
✦ Always-on: No dialing necessary
✦ Very fast: True broadband access speeds (in some areas, faster than DSL)
✦ Simple equipment: Uses your cable TV coaxial cabling
Making Sense
of the Internet
✦ Cost: ISPs usually charge at least double the cost of a dialup Internet
account for a DSL account.
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240
Understanding Internet Connections
Cable cons
✦ Cost: Cable access is about twice as expensive as a dialup account.
✦ More cost: You must either rent or buy a cable modem.
✦ ISP limitations: A limited number of ISP choices accompany cable
access (generally, it’s one ISP or none at all).
Cable access speeds vary according to how many fellow users are connecting to the Internet in your neighborhood: The more people who are
connected, the slower your access will be. (Keep that in mind if you’re renting an apartment.) Mind you, the difference might not be significant. I have
cable modem access, for example, and because my average connection
speed is about one-third faster than the DSL in my area, I still end up with
faster surfing and download speeds. Therefore, a bit of checking and speed
comparison is in order before you choose between cable and DSL in your
area.
I recommend cable for folks who spend more than an hour a night online or
who specifically need faster transfers.
Satellite connections
A satellite Internet connection provides the fastest transfer speeds of all,
but (as you might have guessed) satellite technology is also usually the
most expensive. You usually rent your equipment (an internal adapter card)
from your ISP, and the account is typically more expensive as well. Bad
weather or heavy cloud cover can also slow your connection. However, if
you’re living in the middle of Alaska and can’t get anything else but long
distance access to an ISP, the satellite route will likely be the way to go.
Here is one possible caveat about satellite service (depending on what type
of satellite equipment you install): Don’t throw away your dialup modem
quite yet! You see, your Internet data is beamed to your home or office from
a satellite overhead — hence the speed — but the data that you send back
to your ISP might actually be transferred over a standard dialup modem
connection.
Normally, this isn’t a big deal because you’ll probably be sending a very
small amount of data compared with what you receive: Web page addresses,
e-mail, and the like. On the other hand, if you must upload large files to an
FTP server or you want to host a Web site, the slow crawl of your dialup
connection will likely drive you batty.
So What Exactly Do I Need?
241
The latest satellite service uses the satellite antenna to both send and
receive data, so a dialup connection is no longer necessary. Check with your
satellite ISP for information about what type of connection is offered and
how much it will cost before you sign on the dotted line.
So What Exactly Do I Need?
Here’s the list of minimum requirements to achieve an Internet connection
from your PC:
✦ Your PC: Natch. Windows XP is preferred in my little chunk of the
universe.
✦ An Internet account from a local ISP: Most larger ISPs will offer at least
dialup and DSL. If you choose cable or satellite access, your ISP is actually the company providing the connection.
✦ A modem of one sort or another: Whether a telephone modem, a DSL
or cable modem, or a satellite adapter, you just can’t connect a cable to
your PC and expect it to work.
✦ A service call (for cable or DSL access): You can connect a telephone
modem by yourself, and most satellite systems are do-it-yourself, but a
service technician will have to perform a number of magic tricks if you
choose cable or DSL access.
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Making Sense
of the Internet
242
Book III: The Internet
Chapter 2: Adding a Dialup
Connection to Windows XP
In This Chapter
Obtaining the right account data
Checking your physical connection
Adding a dialup connection to Windows XP
Troubleshooting a faulty Internet connection
A
lbert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” When it comes to adding an Internet connection, however, our
friend Albert is just plain wrong. (No disrespect intended — Albert was truly
a genius.)
You’ll find that this chapter is definitely a work of nonfiction — and for good
reason, too. For most PC owners, the process of “installing the Internet”
(as I’ve heard it called) seems to be one of the most daunting tasks possible.
And that’s a shame because adding an online connection is really a simple
process . . . it’s just full of all sorts of strange and weird numbers and snippets of data.
This chapter removes the mystery so that you can get — and stay — online!
Gathering the Incantations
Unfortunately, setting up an Internet account is still not a plug-and-play
operation, but that’s not the fault of Windows XP. Rather, blame it on how
the Internet works (which I discuss in the previous chapter of this minibook) and the information that other computers need to know before they
can communicate with your PC. Without the proper setup, you can have the
fastest network connection to the Internet on the planet, and plugging in
your PC will provide you with absolutely zip — or, as my dad used to say,
“The big diddly-squat.”
244
Making the Physical Connection
But don’t lose hope! Before you get waist-deep in the Sea of Nervous
Tension, let me reassure you that there are only a few MIVs that you need to
gather (that’s my own abbreviation, short for Mysterious Internet Value).
Plus, they should all be given to you (for free) by your Internet service
provider (ISP) when you sign up for an Internet account!
Here’s a list of the required information that you’ll need to set up your
Internet access in Windows XP via a dialup modem:
✦ Your ISP account name and password: Note that this is often different
from your e-mail account username and password. This is the first
troubleshooting question that I ask when folks tell me that they can’t
connect.
✦ The local access number provided by your ISP: Note that many ISPs
offer more than one local access number.
✦ The name of your ISP: If you have multiple accounts from the same ISP,
you’ll want to use a more descriptive name, such as Business account
and Personal account.
Now, of course, that’s not all the gobbledygook that you’ll get from your ISP,
but that’s all that you need to know to handle the steps in this chapter. The
rest of the arcane knowledge is required later in this mini-book, when I
cover Outlook Express in Chapter 5 . . . but by that time, you’ll be a certified
techno-nerd.
Making the Physical Connection
First, make sure that you’re plugged in. You’ve likely heard the horror stories about recalcitrant PCs that stubbornly fail to accept an Internet connection only to find later that the doggone thing simply wasn’t hooked up
correctly.
Before you delve into the next section, here’s a list of the physical connections necessary for each type of Internet access:
✦ If you’re using a dialup connection, your modem needs to be connected to the telephone wall jack. If you’re using an external modem,
make sure that it’s connected to either your Universal Serial Bus (USB)
or serial port. (See Book I, Chapter 3 for more on ports.)
✦ If you’re using a digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable connection,
your modem needs to be connected to the telephone wall jack (for a
DSL connection) or your cable TV coax connection (if you’re using cable
access), and your PC’s network card should be connected to the modem
Creating a New Connection in Windows XP
245
with an Ethernet cable. As I mention in the previous chapter, both of
these Internet technologies are typically installed by a professional, so
you shouldn’t have to worry about your physical connections. (In fact,
if you have a DSL or cable connection, you might not need anything in
this chapter, either, because most install techs are very nice individuals
and usually set up the entire shootin’ match for you.)
✦ If you’re using a satellite connection, your PC’s network card should
be connected to the satellite dish’s signal box with an Ethernet network
cable.
If you need to transfer an Internet connection that was working on a previous computer, use the File and Settings Transfer Wizard. You’ll find it by
choosing Start➪All Programs➪Accessories➪System Tools➪Files and
Settings Transfer Wizard. (Why Microsoft continues to call these programs
Accessories, I will never know . . . it sounds like this wizard is a vanity mirror
in a new BMW.)
Creating a New Connection in Windows XP
Of course, your ISP might also have provided you with complete instructions for setting up your account in XP — in fact, I’d look sideways at the
ISP if it didn’t — so feel free to follow those instructions instead of the
steps in this section. Of course, if you didn’t get any instructions, you’re
still covered.
✦ You’ve already signed up for an account with a local ISP.
✦ Your ISP didn’t provide a set of detailed instructions — thanks a heap.
✦ You’re using a dialup modem.
As I mention earlier, it’s very likely that a DSL or cable modem installation
will either be performed for you, or the equipment will be accompanied by
a very detailed set of instructions. Don’t forget this Mark’s Maxim: If the
manufacturer or your ISP gives you more specific instructions than the
generic steps that you see here, use those instead!TM (It’s what I would
do . . . you won’t hurt my feelings.)
With that said, take a deep breath and follow these steps:
1. Choose Start➪Control Panel (or Start➪Settings➪Control Panel,
depending on how your XP Start menu is set up) and then doubleclick the Network Connections icon.
Adding a Dialup
Connection to
Windows XP
This procedure covers the most common scenario, where
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Chapter 2
246
Creating a New Connection in Windows XP
2. Click Create a New Connection in the Task pane to the left (which
displays the New Connection Wizard that you see in Figure 2-1),
and then click Next.
Figure 2-1:
The friendly
face of
the New
Connection
Wizard.
3. Click Connect to the Internet and then click Next.
So far, so good, but the screen in Figure 2-2 is where some people go
astray.
4. Because you’ll be using the settings supplied by your ISP, select the
Set Up My Connection Manually radio button and then click Next.
Figure 2-2:
Repeat
after me:
“I’ll do this
manually.”
Creating a New Connection in Windows XP
247
If you jumped into this process without first signing up with an ISP,
Microsoft actually does a creditable job of helping you choose an ISP:
a. Select the Choose from a List of Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
radio button and then click Next.
b. In the next screen that appears, mark the Select from a List of
Other ISPs radio button and click Finish.
You’ll be provided with a list, and the wizard leads you through an
alternate path to righteousness.
5. Type the name of the ISP (or an identifying name that you can
remember) into the ISP Name box and then click Next.
6. Type the local access number provided by your ISP and then click
Next.
If the number is a toll-free call, don’t forget to add the 1- prefix. On the
other hand, if your ISP doesn’t provide a local access number and you
have to call long-distance to connect, run (do not walk!) to your telephone and cancel that account! (These days, no one should have to
incur long distance charges on top of Internet access! Look for a local
ISP instead.)
The resulting wizard page (shown in Figure 2-3) looks like a real bear,
but it’s a teddy when you know the drill.
Book III
Chapter 2
Adding a Dialup
Connection to
Windows XP
Figure 2-3:
Set up
your ISP
account
name and
password
here.
7. Type your user name and password provided by your ISP into the
corresponding boxes and then type your password again into the
Confirm password box to make sure that it’s correct.
248
Creating a New Connection in Windows XP
For security, the wizard displays round bullet characters instead of the
actual letters and numbers that you type.
If this is your primary Internet account:
a. Enable the Make This the Default Internet Connection check box.
b. Always — always — enable the Turn on Internet Connection
Firewall for This Connection check box.
Security is a good thing, as you’ll find out in the next chapter.
If you’re sharing your computer with another person and you don’t
want them to be able to use your account, disable the Use This Account
Name and Password When Anyone Connects to the Internet from This
Computer check box.
8. Click Next to continue.
The final wizard screen shown in Figure 2-4 sums up what you’ve done
and the settings that you chose.
That’s it! See — I told you it was (practically) painless.
Figure 2-4:
Huzzah!
You’re a
bona fide
Internet
Connection
Specialist.
In the final wizard window, I recommend selecting the Add a Shortcut to
This Connection to my Desktop check box. Although Windows XP automatically connects to the Internet when a program requests it (such as Outlook
Express), the desktop shortcut makes it easy to connect whenever you want
with a simple double-click.
My Connection Appears to Be Dead
249
Is My Connection Alive?
The final step in your odyssey is the testing: Have you successfully connected your PC to the Internet? The easiest way to test your work is to run
Internet Explorer and try loading a popular site, such as CNN.com or
Amazon.com. After you type the site name in the Address box and press
Enter, your PC should automatically dial out. (You might not hear the dial
tones, but Windows XP should display a progress dialog box to let you know
what’s going on.)
If your browser displays the site, you’re online! Or, as pilots say, “You’re in
the pipe, five by five.” (I don’t know why.)
My Connection Appears to Be Dead
If you don’t end up clapping your hands in celebration, here are the
common troubleshooting tips that I always offer to my consulting
customers:
✦ Check your physical cable connections. It’s always possible that your
external modem simply isn’t plugged in, connected to your PC, or connected to the phone jack. An internal modem needs only a cable from
the correct port on the PC to the wall phone jack.
✦ Verify the telephone number provided by your ISP. Dial the phone
the old-fashioned way using the exact sequence of numbers that you
entered for the ISP’s phone number in Step 6 of the previous section. If
you hear the familiar screeching banshee wail of a modem on the other
side, you know that the number is correct.
✦ Double-check the account name and password. If Windows XP displays
a dialog box saying that your account name or password isn’t correct,
make sure that you typed your ISP account username and password and
not your e-mail account username and password. If all appears okay, a
call to your ISP’s technical support is in order.
Adding a Dialup
Connection to
Windows XP
Speaking of correct ports, remember that most modems have two ports
on the back: one is for the cable running to your wall jack, and the
other allows you to plug in a regular telephone to the back of the
modem so that you can use your telephone line in the old-fashioned,
human-powered manner. Make sure that you plug your phone line from
the wall socket into the right port, which is usually decorated with an
icon showing a wall jack.
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Book III: The Internet
Chapter 3: Protecting Your
Internet Privacy
In This Chapter
Understanding the risks of the Internet
Using your common sense online
Using Windows XP’s built-in firewall
Using a commercial firewall program
Protecting your PC against viruses
A
m I really taking any risks with my computer or my privacy when I’m
online?
That is one of the most common questions that I receive from my readers. I
wish that I could assure you that security accompanies the once-unimagined
freedom of the Internet — but unfortunately, the opposite is true. For once,
the popular media’s perception of computer crime is quite accurate: With
your Internet connection comes the possibility of exposure to hackers and
con artists.
But just what can happen online? How much is hype, and how much is
reality? With the right precautions and a little additional hardware and software, you can be reasonably sure that you’re well insulated from the bad
guys on the Internet! In this chapter, I provide you with everything that you
need to know — the same recommendations that I’ve made to my friends
and family for over a decade now — to protect your privacy online.
So What Can Really Happen?
Before I present you with the worst that the Internet can offer, please keep
these two important points in mind:
✦ Are you a target? The very likely answer is “no” — I’m glad to say that’s
my answer as well. Virtually all private citizens really don’t draw the
attention of the serious hackers and other bad guys on the Internet.
Hackers would rather attack someone famous, the government, or a
corporation instead of spending their time trying to get a copy of your
252
So What Can Really Happen?
Word documents, your e-mail, and your Quicken data. (Of course, hackers are getting younger and younger these days, so it’s possible that you
might be targeted as a practical joke or a juvenile prank. To me, there’s
nothing remotely humorous about attacking someone else’s online
personal life . . . the effect is the same.)
✦ Are you a tough nut to crack? Yes! (Or at least you will be after you
institute the safeguards in this chapter.) Plenty of “open PCs” are on the
Internet, whose owners haven’t protected themselves, so (like any car
thief) a hacker will focus on the easy mark — or in this case, the
“unlocked PC.” In fact, with the right protection, it’s virtually impossible
for a hacker to even detect your presence on the Internet, much less try
to invade your privacy, thereby preventing most of the nasty scenarios
that I’m about to describe.
Okay, now take a deep breath and relax. Here’s what can actually happen
to you with an Internet connection or a network with a shared Internet
connection:
✦ Others might try to contact you or other members of your family.
Believe me, there are some truly unpleasant and sleazy individuals who
can use all the great communications features of the Internet for the
wrong reasons. They can use Microsoft Messenger, Web discussion
boards, e-mail, or newsgroups. With common sense and diligence, you
can stop these people from communicating with you.
✦ You could be the target of identity theft. The con game is alive and
well and thriving on the Internet, where your credit card number,
address, and personal information should be guarded like the jewels
that they are.
✦ Hackers can turn your PC into an Internet weapon. If a hacker can
gain access to your PC, your PC can be fooled into participating in
attacks against public Web servers and File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
servers. Remember the denial-of-service attacks that occurred a couple
of years ago? Such attacks can actually shut down Web sites like eBay,
Amazon.com, and Yahoo!. In simple English, the hackers manipulate PCs
that they have “appropriated” over the Internet to flood these Web sites
with millions of simultaneous connections, causing the Web server to
simply freak out.
✦ The files on your network could be read or erased. Woe unto those
who run an unprotected network — especially a wireless network,
which can be accessed from outside your home or office.
✦ Your system could be hit with a virus or harmful macro. Most of us
have already heard of the havoc that a virus infection can wreak on
your system — deleted files or even empty hard drives.
Common Sense Goes a Long Way
253
I told you that it was a grim list . . . but if all these bad things actually happened to the majority of people who go online, the Internet wouldn’t be anywhere as popular and important today as it is. Most of us use our common
sense — a most valuable commodity that can help safeguard your Internet
presence.
Common Sense Goes a Long Way
And with it comes one of the best of Mark’s Maxims, which I hope you’ll
immediately commit to memory: If something seems like a bad idea
online, it probably is. You see it happen all the time on the Internet.
People give out sensitive (personal and financial) information and communicate with others on a level that they would never do over the telephone or
through the mail. Chalk it up to the siren song of the online world and the
charms of technology, I guess.
Take a second to review a number of common sense guidelines that should
govern your time online.
Passwords
Here are the guidelines that I recommend following when using passwords:
✦ Use random passwords. I know that using random passwords is a
hassle, but they work. Even adding a single number to the end of a word
can mean the difference between someone guessing your password and
your identity remaining pristine. Some operating systems and online
sites recognize the difference between uppercase and lowercase characters, and you can also mix cases to make your passwords even better.
Remember: Never use something that’s easily guessed, such as the
names of family or friends, or your birth date.
✦ Use a different password for each site and server. If you connect to a
dozen systems and need a dozen passwords each night when you’re
online, this will probably not be feasible — I understand that. However,
for the majority of the PC owners online, only three or four passwords
are used on a daily basis; in that case, using multiple passwords helps
keep things as secure as possible.
Book III
Chapter 3
Protecting Your
Internet Privacy
First, consider the password: It’s not an elegant solution to the problem of
security, but it’s been around since the early days of the online bulletin
board systems (or BBSes, for short) in the late ’80s and early ’90s. No one
has found an easier way to protect your identity on the Internet — unless, of
course, you want to install fingerprint sensors on everyone’s keyboard.
(Such sensors actually exist right now, but don’t hold your breath waiting to
see them in common use.)
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Common Sense Goes a Long Way
✦ Do not write down your passwords. If you store that sheet of paper or
Post-It note in a safe, you’re okay. A desk drawer, on the other hand,
makes that crib sheet a bad idea.
✦ Don’t share passwords. Or why use them at all? ’Nuff said.
✦ Use Internet Explorer’s AutoComplete feature sparingly. Most Web
browsers can automatically store many passwords for you, but I don’t
recommend using this feature. I show you how to turn off this feature
within Internet Explorer later in this mini-book (in Chapter 4).
Of course, your lifestyle might make it easier to skirt some of these recommendations. For example, if you live by yourself, you’re already considerably more secure than an office worker surrounded by fellow employees.
Just evaluate your own need for security and follow as many of these guidelines as possible. (See there? I can be reasonable.)
Risky behavior
Next, consider a number of online practices that are sadly lacking in (you
guessed it) plain, common sense. Although you might find it hard to believe,
each of these mistakes is committed countless times every day by intelligent individuals (who should really know better).
✦ Divulging personal information to strangers during a chat. Chatting is
great fun unless the total stranger whom you’re chatting with asks for
personal information. (Is the person on the other end of this conversation really a 17-year-old cheerleader from Omaha?)
✦ Offering personal information in Internet newsgroups. This is especially bad. These newsgroups are public discussion areas, and posting
anything personal is asking for trouble. (It’s no accident that virtually
everyone who participates in a newsgroup uses an alias and a fake
e-mail address.) Also, these messages remain on newsgroup servers for
years, so a single telephone number or e-mail address that you’ve
divulged can come back to haunt you in years to come. After something
has been posted on a newsgroup, it’s there to stay in the great pile of
searchable data that is the Internet.
✦ Replying to spam. Just ignore those irritating junk e-mail messages in
your Inbox, even if they claim that by replying, you’ll remove your name
from their list. (Yeah, right, and I’ve got some great oceanfront property
in Kansas for you, too.) By replying to spam, you’re actually verifying
that your e-mail address is correct, and you’ll get double or triple the
messages overnight.
Common Sense Goes a Long Way
255
✦ Allowing just anyone to access your PC remotely. Windows XP
includes a remote control feature that allows someone on the Internet
to use your PC as if they were sitting at the keyboard. Do not use this
feature unless you’re absolutely sure of the person who’ll be controlling your PC — such as a technical support representative or your Aunt
Harriet. Remember, the person controlling your PC can delete files and
open your personal documents at will. (Sobering thought, ain’t it?)
✦ Downloading files from a site that you don’t trust. It’s up to you to
decide which sites are trustworthy. But if you do download anything, at
least make sure that you’re protected by a good antivirus scanning program when you run the program.
✦ Buying something from an online store without a secure connection.
Reputable online stores will establish a secure connection between
their Web server and your browser. Information is encrypted, so it can’t
be easily intercepted. (Of course, this is especially important when
you’re entering your credit card information.) If a small padlock icon
appears in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window — as
shown in Figure 3-1 — you’ve got a secure connection. If the connection
isn’t secure, don’t enter any personal information and don’t provide
your credit card number — just find another store that does offer a
secure connection!
Dodging those personal questions
I generally don’t provide my real name, age,
address, or phone number on most Web sites,
either. If a Web site demands such personal
information and I don’t trust the company
or organization, I use false information. (And
coincidentally, I receive very little spam on my
private e-mail accounts. Go figure.) I know that
sounds dishonest — and it’s going to burn any
Web master who might be reading this — but
why do I have to enter my personal information
just to download a demo or use a free service?
I’m a Web master myself, and I don’t need that
information from casual visitors to my sites.
Naturally, if you’re registering a piece of hardware or software — or if you’re contacting
technical support — you should provide the
required information.
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Protecting Your
Internet Privacy
✦ Opening e-mail attachments without a good antivirus program.
These include executable (or .exe) files and Word documents. E-mail
attachments are becoming the prime method of distributing viruses.
And because the virus uses the victim’s e-mail program to replicate
itself, those horrid e-mail booby-traps can actually originate from your
“e-friends and e-family”!
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Common Sense Goes a Long Way
Figure 3-1:
When
buying
online, a
padlock is a
good thing.
The padlock icon indicates a secure connection.
E-mail
I mention spam in the previous section. You can fight back, you know. Most
e-mail applications have their own built-in armor plates, called filters or
rules, which allow you to automatically move junk mail to a separate folder,
where it can be quickly perused and tossed at your leisure. I show you how
to enable spam protection in Outlook Express in Chapter 5 of this mini-book.
By the way, get in the habit of at least reading the subject lines for probable
spam; that way, you can verify that an honest-to-goodness valuable message
didn’t get accidentally tagged as junk.
Personally, however, I’ve ramped things up a notch. Because my public
e-mail address, [email protected], is readily available in my books and
on my Web sites, I needed an anti-spam application with more power and
flexibility than Microsoft Outlook had to offer. I invested in McAfee’s
SpamKiller, shown in Figure 3-2, which works with any e-mail program.
It provides advanced features such as
Your Friend, the Firewall
257
Figure 3-2:
McAfee’s
SpamKiller
is a great
junk mail
manager.
Book III
Chapter 3
✦ Automatic updates with the latest filters from McAfee
✦ Configurable Friends List with verified e-mail addresses
✦ The ability to send complaints about spam messages to the sender’s
Internet service provider (ISP)
You can purchase and immediately download SpamKiller from the company’s Web site at www.mcafee.com for about $40.
Your Friend, the Firewall
Believe me, good people, your firewall will be your best friend if, for some
reason, a serious hacker does indeed become interested in accessing your
PC or your network. A firewall is a software application or a separate hardware device (or both) that performs a number of duties:
Protecting Your
Internet Privacy
✦ Customized filters for all sorts of criteria (things such as text contains,
subject contains, and starts with)
258
Your Friend, the Firewall
✦ It masks your PC or network from others on the Internet, making it practically impossible for a hacker to locate your PC (much less attack it).
✦ It prevents incoming Internet traffic for the services that you specify
(such as Web and FTP services), as illustrated so very well by Figure 3-3.
✦ It monitors outgoing traffic and blocks any activity that you’ve specified
(for example, visits to particular Web sites or any Microsoft Messenger
communications).
Allowed
to pass
Your PC
Figure 3-3:
The Internet
traffic that
you want
gets in
through a
firewall.
Networked computers sharing
your Internet connection
Firewall
(can be
hardware,
software
or both)
Allowed
to pass
Blocked
Web servers
FTP servers
Hackers and
crackers
So which is better? A hardware or software firewall? That depends on the
number of PCs on your network — if you have one — and the level of security that you need:
✦ For a single PC (or a shared Internet connection through Windows XP)
with typical home/home office security, the built-in Windows XP firewall
will be all that you need.
✦ For a network of several PCs — or for any environment where you
demand the best security — turn to a hardware firewall device. For
example, Figure 3-4 illustrates some of the port protection features that
are built into my Internet router.
If you’re using an Internet-sharing device — such as an Internet router,
switch, or hub — that includes NAT, then celebrate! NAT stands for Network
Address Translator, which performs the masking that I mention earlier. Most
devices with NAT support also include a hardware firewall. Check the
device’s manual to be sure.
Your Friend, the Firewall
259
Figure 3-4:
My Internet
router
can be
configured
to block
just about
anything.
Book III
Chapter 3
If you’ve perused Chapter 2 of this mini-book, you’ll know that I recommend
that you enable the built-in firewall in Windows XP when you create your
Internet connection — it’s the Internet Connection Firewall (or ICF for
short).
There really isn’t much to set or configure with ICF — it’s either on or off,
period. You’ll need a user account with administrator access to enable or
disable ICF. Follow these steps:
1. Choose Start➪Control Panel➪Network Connections and then click
your Internet connection to display the Status dialog box.
2. Click Properties and then click the Advanced tab to display the ICF
check box (in the Local Area Connection Properties dialog box), as
shown in Figure 3-5.
3. Select the check box to enable or disable it as necessary and then
click OK.
Protecting Your
Internet Privacy
Using the built-in XP firewall
260
Your Friend, the Firewall
Figure 3-5:
Watch your
ICF there,
friend.
ICF is a smart puppy; it shouldn’t interfere with any of the Internet activities
that a typical home PC owner is likely to try. However, many multiplayer
games have trouble sharing your PC with a firewall, and you can’t use ICF
if you’re also using XP’s Virtual Private Networking (VPN) feature, which
I chew on in Book VIII, Chapter 4. If a specific program has problems with
ICF, check the program’s manual to see whether you need to make changes
to accommodate a firewall.
Of course, you can easily disable a software firewall for an hour or so while
you use an incompatible Internet application, and the chance that someone
would pick that very moment to hack your system is quite small. I’ve done
this before, but believe me — I don’t do it very often.
Commercial firewall alternatives
Okay, suppose that you have a number of programs that just won’t work
with ICF, and you need those doggone applications to survive on planet
Earth. Perhaps you’d rather spend a little cash (say $50) for more features
and power than ICF can offer. No problem: Enter commercial firewall
programs such as Norton Personal Firewall 2003, from Symantec, www.
symantec.com (shown in Figure 3-6).
I use Norton Personal Firewall instead of ICF because I need many of its
enhanced features:
✦ Web ad and pop-up blocking, which prevents me from losing my
temper over the spread of wanton commercialism while I’m using
Internet Explorer
Using Antivirus Software
261
✦ Automatic security updates from Symantec
✦ The ability to control the access of individual applications to the
Internet
✦ Control over what specific personal data that I want to allow to be sent
over the Internet
✦ Adjustable security alerts, which tell me when a program is attempting
to access the Internet
I can heartily recommend Norton Personal Firewall — it works, and it’s
highly configurable for those who need flexibility so that everything that
needs to run works right (and everything that you’re guarding against still
hits that brick wall).
Hey, how about a free test of your new firewall? No, pardner, I’m not offering
to hack into your system. Instead, I’m inviting you to visit Gibson Research
Corporation at www.grc.com where you can try out ShieldsUP!! This great
free online utility checks your Internet connection for a number of entranceways popular with hackers and even gives you advice on how to fine-tune
your firewall to close ’em up.
Book III
Chapter 3
Protecting Your
Internet Privacy
Figure 3-6:
My favorite
Internet suit
of armor —
Norton
Personal
Firewall
2003.
Using Antivirus Software
The last stop on the Internet security tour is a good antivirus program.
Windows XP contains no built-in, robust virus protection. Instead, look to
McAfee for VirusScan or Symantec for Norton AntiVirus; either program will
do a great job protecting your computer from viral attack.
262
Using Antivirus Software
As I see it, the two most important points about any antivirus program are
✦ Real-time scanning: Whatever you run or load, your antivirus program
should check it before your PC is exposed. I also appreciate the fact that
Norton AntiVirus checks all my Word and Excel documents for dangerous macro viruses. With real-time scanning, the need to check your
entire hard drive for viruses is reduced to once every three months or
so instead of once every week.
✦ Automatic and frequent updates: The best antivirus protection in the
known universe isn’t worth a plug nickel the moment you stop applying
updates. Without updates that contain the latest virus signatures, your
antivirus program becomes vulnerable to the newest strain. (A signature
is a set of characteristics that your antivirus program can use to spot a
particular virus.) Therefore, make sure that the antivirus program that
you choose is updated often and automatically — both McAfee and
Symantec excel in providing at least one or two updates a month.
Figure 3-7 illustrates Norton AntiVirus at work.
By the way, Norton AntiVirus also works inside Outlook and Outlook
Express, checking both the incoming file attachments that you receive and
the outgoing files that you send . . . just in case.
Figure 3-7:
I don’t fear
viruses
with Norton
AntiVirus
on the job.
Chapter 4: Cruising the Web
with Internet Explorer
In This Chapter
Starting Internet Explorer
Introducing the browser window and controls
Adding and using Favorites
Searching for Web sites
Downloading files
Using the History file
Printing and saving Web pages
A
nd the answer to that unspoken question is, “Yes, you still need this
chapter, even if you’ve been using Internet Explorer now for the last
several years.”
You see, Internet Explorer (and any Web browser in general) is one of the
simplest applications on the planet to use, requiring only three or four buttons on the toolbar to operate most of the absolutely necessary functions.
Many PC owners that I’ve met don’t even know that Internet Explorer (IE)
offers a ton of additional features to help you organize sites, print pages
just-so, and search for the Web content that you need.
In this chapter, I show you the power user side of Internet Explorer — it’s
time to supercharge your surfing!
Running Internet Explorer
Here are a number of methods that you can use to start IE. (After all, the
Web has its tentacles in practically everything, right?)
✦ Double-click the IE icon on your desktop.
✦ Choose Start➪Internet Explorer.
✦ Click the IE button on the Quick Launch portion of the taskbar.
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The Explorer Window and Basic Controls
✦ Click an embedded link (a HyperText Transfer Protocol/HyperText
Markup Language [HTTP/HTML] hyperlink in many applications and
documents, such as Word and Excel documents).
✦ Run Windows Update (weird, but you can surf after you update XP).
Don’t forget that you can choose Start➪Run to display the Run dialog
box, where you can use your fingers for something other than clicking.
Type iexplore in the Open box and then press Enter (or click OK, if you
absolutely have to click something). This runs Internet Explorer, but you
can get even fancier: Type iexplore, followed by a Web site address (like
iexplore mlcbooks.com), and then press Enter or click OK. The program
runs and automatically loads my Web site.
The Explorer Window and Basic Controls
After Internet Explorer unveils itself in all its stately grandeur — as you can
see in Figure 4-1 — note the following major controls and important spots,
in order of appearance from top to bottom:
✦ The menu: You knew that was coming, right? Note the standard
Windows application menu, containing commands that I discuss for
the rest of this chapter. At the far upper-right, you’ll see an animated
Windows flag, which waves brilliantly in the cyber-breeze whenever
IE is busy loading content from a Web site or searching for a page.
✦ The Standard toolbar: Again, no big surprise here. The Standard buttons toolbar display can be toggled on and off from the View➪Toolbars
menu (as can the rest of the bar family, whom you’re about to meet).
✦ The Address bar: Here’s where you’ll type (or paste) the URLs for Web
sites. You can click the drop-down list box to see those addresses that
you’ve recently visited. Click a site in the list to return to it with a minimum of fuss.
✦ The Links bar: Home of the Web sites that you visit most often, you can
add sites to the Links bar and jump to them with a single click. (More on
how you can add and remove sites from your Links bar in a bit.)
✦ The Explorer bar: I don’t know why Microsoft calls this huge panel a
bar — but then again, who gives a flip? Anyway, no matter what you call
it, you’ll find this configurable panel very convenient. It can be toggled
between displaying all sorts of information, including your Favorites,
your surfing History, and the Internet Explorer Search box. To display
the Explorer bar, you can choose View➪Explorer Bar and then choose
the panel that you want to see, or you can press the shortcut key combinations that I provide later (see “More buttons for your buck”). To
banish the Explorer bar from your Internet Explorer window, click the
Close button at the top-right corner of the bar.
The Explorer Window and Basic Controls
265
The links bar
The standard buttons toolbar The menu
The address bar
Figure 4-1:
Internet
Explorer —
what a rush.
Book III
Chapter 4
The Explorer bar
The status bar
✦ Content window. Believe it or not, the IE window actually shows you
Web content, too (amongst all the bar family). Clicking an underlined or
graphic link in the content window whisks you somewhere else (either
within the same site or on a completely different Web site). The Content
window often contains underlined text and graphical icons that transport you to other pages when you click them. Other Windows-style
controls — such as drop-down list boxes and text entry boxes — can
also be displayed and used as part of your surfing. It all depends on the
Web master who designed the page that you’re viewing . . . or the Web
mistress, as the case may be.
One of my favorite IE keyboard shortcuts is Ctrl+N, which opens a
new Internet Explorer window with the current page loaded. Opening a
new window comes in handy when you suddenly need to compare the
contents of two Web pages because you can navigate to the second
page without disturbing the first.
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
You can resize the width of the Explorer bar by hovering your mouse
pointer over the right edge of the bar until it turns into a double-arrow
cursor. Then click and drag the separator to the desired spot.
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The Explorer Window and Basic Controls
✦ Status bar: Last and smallest — but certainly not the least — the
Internet Explorer status bar displays important information about the
page that you’re viewing, including the all-important Secure Sockets
Layer (SSL) encryption icon. If you do a lot of online shopping, you’ve
seen this tiny lock icon when you’re entering your personal data or
credit card number; it indicates that the site you’re visiting is secure,
which means that the encrypted information you’re typing can’t be
intercepted by hackers. If you rest your mouse pointer on a link or a
photo on a Web page, the status bar also displays information about
that item.
More buttons for your buck
Just in case you’ve never been properly introduced to the default buttons
on the toolbar, they include
✦ Back: With a click of the Back button, Internet Explorer returns to the
last page you visited, and each subsequent click of the Back button
takes you a page farther back. You can also press the Backspace key on
your keyboard to move backward.
✦ Forward: If you’ve clicked Back, you need a way to return, right? Click
the Forward button to take you to the next page (or pages) where you
originally were, in forward order. From the keyboard, you can press
Alt+→ (right-arrow navigation key) to move forward.
If you notice that the Back button is disabled (grayed out), you haven’t
visited at least two sites yet. If the Forward button is disabled, you
haven’t used the Back button yet. (Little did we all know that the
Internet Explorer toolbar had a PhD in quantum physics.)
✦ Stop: Refreshingly self-explanatory. Click Stop to cancel a page from
loading. Pressing Esc does the job from the keyboard.
✦ Refresh: Clicking the Refresh button reloads the contents of the current
Web page, which allows the Web server to update the page with any
new information. (Good for connections to news sites like CNN.com.)
You can press Ctrl+R or F5 to refresh as well.
✦ Home: Click this button to immediately jump to your home page. Mine
is Google.com, for example, which makes a Google search always one
click away. From the keyboard, press Alt+Home.
✦ Search: Clicking this button displays the Search pane in the Explorer
bar, which I cover later in the chapter (see “Navigating the Web”).
Pressing Ctrl+E does the same thing.
✦ Favorites: Click this button to display the Favorites pane in the Explorer
bar. (Again, more on this later in this chapter.) Press Ctrl+I from the
keyboard.
The Explorer Window and Basic Controls
267
✦ Media: Click this button to display the Media pane in the Explorer bar.
The Media pane allows you access to the latest in multimedia content
from WindowsMedia.com, such as video, music, and Internet radio
stations.
✦ History: Click the History button to display the History pane in the
Explorer bar or press Ctrl+H. I discuss History later in this chapter
(see “Keeping Track of Where You’ve Been”).
✦ Mail and News: Clicking this button launches Outlook Express, which
allows you to read and send e-mail and participate in Usenet newsgroups. The next chapter in this mini-book provides all the details on
Outlook Express.
✦ Print: A click of this button (or pressing the Ctrl+P shortcut) prints the
contents of the current page.
To display a short one- or two-word description of a toolbar button, just
leave your mouse pointer motionless over the button for a second or two.
You can customize the toolbar with a number of different functions —
choose View➪Toolbars➪Customize to display the dialog box shown in
Figure 4-2.
Book III
Chapter 4
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
Figure 4-2:
Customize
the Internet
Explorer
toolbar
here.
From the left column, click the button that you want to add and then click
Add to place it on the toolbar. To remove a toolbar button that you don’t
use, click the offending button (in the right column) and then click Remove.
To change the sequence of buttons in the right column, click the button that
you want to move and then click either the Move Up or the Move Down
button to change its position on the toolbar. Click the Text Options dropdown list box to determine where the button label text should appear or to
ban button labels entirely. Also, you can click the Icon Options drop-down
list to toggle between large and small toolbar icons.
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The Explorer Window and Basic Controls
“The Story of Little URL”
Every Web-touring saga begins with the URL —
short for Uniform Resource Locator — that
identifies every Web site on the planet. It’s commonly called a Web address because the URL
is as unique as a traditional mailing address.
Most URLs begin with the now-oh-so-darnubiquitous www. prefix. However, Internet
Explorer doesn’t actually require that you type
the triple-w when you’re entering a new Web
address to visit. For example, if you just type
cnn.com into the Address bar and then press
Enter, IE automatically adds the www. prefix for
you. You get to visit CNN.com and save four
characters of typing to boot. Also, you need
never type the http:// portion of the URL
because IE always tries to load an address as a
Web site unless you specifically indicate that
you’re trying to connect to a File Transfer
Protocol (FTP) site by using the ftp:// prefix.
Also, you might have noticed recently that a
number of sites no longer use the triple-w at all.
Therefore, don’t assume that an URL starts with
www., or you might not be able to load the page.
Instead, always enter the URL exactly as it’s
given to you.
After you’re satisfied with your new creation, click the Close button to save
your changes. Click the Reset button at any time to return to the toolbar
configuration that you originally had.
Finding a home page
I always encourage everyone on the planet to choose your own home page.
If you’re constantly returning to the same spot on the Web, you’ll find that
your home page can greatly speed up your surfing, which is why I use
Google as my home page. From within Internet Explorer, follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the desired page.
2. Choose Tools➪Internet Options to display the dialog box that you see
in Figure 4-3.
3. On the General tab, click the Use Current button to set the home page
to your current page.
Alternatively, if you just want Internet Explorer to start very quickly
each time that you run it, click the Use Blank button instead. (Using a
blank home page is a great way to prevent Windows XP from dialing out
each and every doggone time you start Internet Explorer.)
4. Click OK to save your changes and return to the browser window.
Navigating the Web
269
Figure 4-3:
There’s
no place
like home
(page).
Navigating the Web
However, here are other methods of navigating to a new site:
✦ Click a link within another Web page.
✦ Click the Home button, which takes you to your home page.
✦ Click a Web link in a document, e-mail message, or an application.
✦ Click an HTML file from Windows Explorer.
✦ Click a Favorite within the Explorer bar or from the Favorites menu.
✦ Use the Search panel in the Explorer bar.
In this section, I tell you more about the last two options: Favorites and the
Search panel.
Simplifying surfing with Favorites
After you select a Web page as a Favorite, you can easily reach that site
quickly (and without a forest of sticky notes appearing all over your
monitor). To add a Favorite, display the page that you want within IE and
use one of these methods:
Book III
Chapter 4
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
Earlier in this chapter, I talk about how you can visit a site by typing or pasting a URL directly into the Address bar and pressing Return. Internet
Explorer will automatically show you any sites with a matching address
while you type the URL. And if you’ve visited the site before, just press
Enter when you see the proper address appear.
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Navigating the Web
✦ Choose Favorites➪Add to Favorites, which displays the dialog box that
you see in Figure 4-4. Type a new name (if necessary), click the Create In
button to select the Favorites folder where you want to store the entry,
and then click OK.
✦ Press the Ctrl+D keyboard shortcut, which adds the site as a Favorite
without any prompting.
✦ Click the Add button in the Favorites panel.
Figure 4-4:
Add a Web
page as
a Favorite
here.
To add a Favorite to the Links bar, display the Favorites panel and click and
drag the desired Favorite to the Links folder. You can also add the current
site to the Links bar by dragging the icon at the left of the URL in the
Address bar directly to the Links bar.
After you set up your Favorites, using them is simplicity itself:
✦ From the Favorites menu, click the desired Favorite.
✦ Click the Favorite itself on the Favorites bar — if it’s not displayed, click
the Favorites button in the toolbar. (To show the contents of a folder in
the Favorites panel, give it a click.)
✦ Click the desired Favorite on the Links bar.
When you add Favorites, you’ll find them easier to use if you spend a
moment to organize things. Follow these steps:
1. Choose Favorites➪Organize Favorites to display the Organize
Favorites dialog box that you see in Figure 4-5.
Alternatively, click the Organize button on the Favorites bar.
2. Click the Create Folder button to add a new folder, which appears in
both the Favorites menu and the Favorites bar.
Navigating the Web
271
3. To move a Favorite into a folder, click the desired Favorite, click the
Move to Folder button, click the destination folder, and then click OK.
4. To rename a Favorite, click the desired Favorite, click the Rename
button, type the new name, and then press Enter.
5. When you’re done organizing your Favorites, click the Close button
to return to the browser window.
Figure 4-5:
Organize
your
Favorites
any way
that you like.
To modify the URL that’s connected to a Favorite, right-click the Favorite
and then choose Properties (from the contextual menu that appears) to
display the Properties dialog box that you see in Figure 4-6. Click the Web
Document tab, type (or paste) the new address into the URL text box, and
then click OK to return to the Web.
Searching for the hay in the needlestack
To search for a specific Web site amongst the billions on the planet, use the
Search bar. Follow these steps:
1. Press Ctrl+E to display the Search bar, as shown in Figure 4-7.
2. Type a complete sentence — but as short and lucid as possible — into
the What Are You Looking For? text box and then press Enter.
If Internet Explorer finds any matches, they appear in the content
window.
3. Click a page link to view that page.
Book III
Chapter 4
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
To change the order of the Favorites from the Organize Favorites dialog box,
just click and drag a Favorite to its new spot and release the mouse button
to drop it.
272
Navigating the Web
As a shortcut, you can also search by typing Find whatever (whatever is
what you’re looking for, like Find popcorn) in the Address bar and then
pressing Enter. I use this one a lot. Figure 4-8 shows the result of my attempt
to find Elvis.
Figure 4-6:
Change a
Favorite’s
URL here.
Figure 4-7:
See Dick
search —
use the
Search
bar, Dick.
Downloading Files
273
Figure 4-8:
You can
search for
The King
from the
Address bar
as well.
Book III
Chapter 4
Downloading Files
Downloading files is a simple operation, indeed. When you click a download
link within a Web page, Internet Explorer automatically downloads the file to
your hard drive.
However, note this catch: Unless you’re running an antivirus program that
will check your downloaded files, you might be receiving a malignant virus
instead of a bona fide treasure. That’s why Internet Explorer displays the
dialog box that you see in Figure 4-9 when you click a download link that
includes an executable program.
So how best to handle this situation? Here are my recommendations:
✦ If you’re using an antivirus program such as Norton AntiVirus or
McAfee VirusScan, go ahead and click Save — these programs can
check the file when you run it.
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
Although using the Search bar is good, it’s still somewhat primitive compared with using either Google or Yahoo!, which are dedicated search sites.
Therefore, don’t forget that you can make your favorite search engine site
your home page, or you can add a Favorite with your search engine site to
your Links bar.
274
Downloading Files
✦ If you’re not using an antivirus program, click Save. After you’ve saved
the file to disk, don’t run it until you close any open applications and
disconnect from the Internet. However, I’d much, much rather that you
proceed immediately to your closest software store and buy a copy of
Norton AntiVirus or McAfee VirusScan! An unprotected PC is a perfect
target for viruses from downloaded files or e-mail attachments.
✦ Do not click Open unless you’re downloading a patch or update from
Microsoft’s Web site. It’s always a better idea to execute the download
from your drive instead of on the fly.
When you click Save, IE prompts you for the location where you want to
store the file, as shown in Figure 4-10. You can choose to use the original file
name, or you can type a new name. Click Save to begin the download.
Here’s a pickle. You see an image that you’d like to download from a Web
site, but it’s actually not a file that’s set up for downloading — instead, it’s
part of the Web page itself. No problem: Just right-click the image that you
want and then choose Save Picture As from the menu that appears. Internet
Explorer prompts you for the location where you want to save the file.
You can also choose Print Picture, or you can instantly make the picture
become your Windows desktop background by choosing Set as Background.
(Unfortunately, Internet Explorer can’t make a small picture look good
across your entire desktop — or a low-resolution shot into a better-quality
background — so use this feature only with larger, high-resolution pictures.)
Keep in mind that displaying an image as your background is different from
using it in your documents: “Copyrights, people, copyrights!”
Figure 4-9:
IE warns
you of
possible
problems
when
downloading.
Not all downloaded files can be run immediately. Many sites compress, or
archive, their download files by using the Zip standard, which saves time
(because the compression reduces the file size) and saves hassle (because
multiple files are archived into a single file). Zip archives end (predictably
enough) with the extension .zip. To restore the archive, or decompress it,
you need a Zip file utility, and there’s none better than WinZip, from WinZip
Downloading Files
275
Computing (www.winzip.com). I’ve been a loyal customer of this great
shareware program (shown in Figure 4-11) for many years now.
Figure 4-10:
Where do
you want
it, Mac?
Book III
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Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
Figure 4-11:
Preparing
to unzip
the contents
of a Zip
archive.
276
Keeping Track of Where You’ve Been
Keeping Track of Where You’ve Been
Bet you didn’t know that you were building a history when you tour the
Web. But what happens if you need to return to a site that you visited an
hour ago, and you don’t remember the URL or how you got there?
Don’t worry. The History list (see Figure 4-12) makes it easy to retrace your
virtual steps. To display the History list, click the History button in the toolbar or press Ctrl+H. You can immediately return to any page in the list by
clicking it.
Note that Internet Explorer keeps track of your history on a site-by-site
basis, with all the pages on each site grouped together in a single folder.
However, you can also display the History list by using other sort criteria.
Just click the View drop-down list box at the top of the History bar, and you
can specify a sort order based on the date visited, the sites that you visited
most often, and the sites in the order that you visited them today.
You can also search for a specific word or phrase within the History list.
Click the Search button at the top of the History bar and then type that
word or phrase in the Search For text box. Click the Search Now button to
display any sites that contain matching text in the page title.
Figure 4-12:
Display
the history
of your
recent Web
explorations.
Printing and Saving Web Pages
277
If you’re somewhat leery of keeping a History file at all, choose Tools➪
Internet Options. From the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box,
you can specify how many days that IE should keep the History list. Set the
Days to Keep Pages in History to zero, and Internet Explorer will disable the
History list altogether. You can also click the Clear History button to immediately delete the current contents of the History list.
Printing and Saving Web Pages
From time to time, you’ll want a printed copy of the content on a Web page.
Or you might want to actually save the page itself, complete with all its
content, graphics, and links, to a set of files on your hard drive. In this
section, I serve you these two palatable options.
Putting the Web in print
I could say that printing a Web page is as simple as clicking the Print button
in the toolbar (or pressing Ctrl+P) — and technically, I’d be right. But there’s
really more to it than that . . . specifically, the Options tab in the Print dialog
box, as shown in Figure 4-13.
Book III
Chapter 4
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
Figure 4-13:
Print a Web
site from IE.
If the page that you’re printing uses frames — a method of putting different
panels on a Web page, each with its own content — you can choose to print
the page in three different ways:
278
Printing and Saving Web Pages
✦ As laid out onscreen, which prints the entire Web page.
✦ Only the selected frame, which prints only the contents of the active
frame on the page. You can usually activate a frame by clicking within it
or by using a scroll bar within the desired frame.
✦ All frames individually, which prints out the contents of each frame
separately.
By default, IE prints only the current page. However, you can print out the
current page and any documents that it links to by enabling the Print All
Linked Documents check box. This is a good choice if you want to print the
contents of a Web site with multiple pages.
You can also choose to print an index of links that appear on the page that
you’re printing. This index is a handy tool when the printed page has a large
number of links that lead to other documents that you might need. Select
the Print Table of Links check box to enable it.
Saving the best (for last)
Occasionally I run across a page that I want to save in its entirety.
Sometimes because I need to view it offline, while I’m traveling, or if a large
number of images accompanies the page. Internet Explorer makes it easy to
save the currently displayed Web page as a set of files on your hard drive.
Simply follow these steps:
1. Choose File➪Save As, which displays the special Save Web Page
dialog box that you see in Figure 4-14.
Figure 4-14:
Preparing to
save a Web
page to disk.
Printing and Saving Web Pages
279
2. Type a name for the saved page in the File Name text box and then
navigate to the desired location on your PC.
3. Click the Save as Type drop-down list box and choose Web Page,
Complete.
This is my favorite, where the program stores the entire kit and caboodle so that you can display the page from the file just as it appeared
online.
Generally, I don’t recommend choosing Web Page, HTML Only, or Text
File because you’re likely to end up with either a partial page of text or
a bunch of meaningless HTML commands.
4. Click Save to begin the download process.
IE creates an HTML file that you can double-click to display the page, which
links to a separate folder that contains all the images and documents from
the original page.
“Yo, Adrian! Who typed that?”
Complete off for certain types of data, or you
can turn it off completely. Choose Tools➪Internet
Options to display the Internet Options Control
Panel dialog box and then click the Content tab.
Click the AutoComplete button to specify which
types of data that you want filled out; if you’re
already nervous, click the Clear Forms and
Clear Passwords to wipe any AutoComplete
data for online forms and passwords.
This is all friendly and downright convenient,
but what if you’re more interested in privacy
or security? No problem. You can toggle Auto
For a detailed discussion of these Internet
Options — many of which affect Internet
Explorer — check out Book II, Chapter 6.
Book III
Chapter 4
Cruising the Web
with Internet
Explorer
If Internet Explorer suddenly starts completing
Web site addresses and fields within online
forms — like your name, your address, or even
your password — don’t panic. There’s no reason
to call Ghostbusters. You’re seeing Internet
Explorer’s AutoComplete feature, which automatically fills out online forms, Web addresses,
and user name/password combinations that
you’ve previously entered on a site.
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Book III: The Internet
Chapter 5: Harnessing Your E-Mail
In This Chapter
Touring the Outlook Express window
Configuring your e-mail account
Receiving and reading your incoming mail
Replying to a message
Composing and sending a new message
Sending and receiving e-mail attachments
Blocking that dastardly spam
Using the Address Book
Working with identities in Outlook Express
E
-mail rules the Internet roost. Sure, the Web gets a lot of attention, but
what one single service provided by the Internet would cause the most
chaos if it were interrupted? That’s right . . . the lowly Internet e-mail message that invites you to lunch or informs you of a new baby (or brings you
junk advertising that promises to refinance your home at 2%). Without
e-mail, most of today’s business world would be left stricken — and you
wouldn’t get those blonde jokes in your Inbox every morning. The mind
reels — the soul cries out for more Diet Coke at the very thought.
Because of this mind-boggling importance of e-mail, Microsoft put a lot of
work into designing a truly first-class e-mail application for Windows XP.
Not only is it free, but (believe it or not) it’s almost as good as the full-blown
Outlook that you receive when you buy Office XP! You don’t get some of the
really powerful features of Outlook, but as an e-mail application, Outlook
Express can stand proudly on its own.
In this chapter, I describe how you can keep track of your e-mail messages,
your contacts, and your identities in Outlook Express. You’ll discover how
to ward off junk mail messages as well as how to attach Aunt Gertrude’s Big
Bang Brownie recipe to the next e-mail that you send. (For the brownie lover
on your Contacts list.)
282
Introducing the Outlook Express Window
Introducing the Outlook Express Window
Before you venture into the world of Internet communications, get familiar
with the controls that you’ll be using in the Outlook Express window (catch
the hoopla in Figure 5-1). They include
✦ The menu: Your standard Windows XP application menu: Click a menu
family to display the menu items. You can then click a menu item to
perform that action.
✦ The toolbar: Click a toolbar button to perform the same function as the
corresponding menu item. You can customize the toolbar by adding and
removing buttons. Just choose View➪Layout and then click the
Customize Toolbar button to display the dialog box that you see in
Figure 5-2. (You can also right-click the toolbar and then click Customize
to display the same dialog box.) Click the button that you want to add
from the list on the left and then click Add to include it on the toolbar;
to remove an existing toolbar button, click the button name in the list
on the right and then click the Remove button. You can also specify
large or small toolbar icons and whether the toolbar buttons have
labels.
✦ The Outlook bar: Those folks who have used Outlook 2002 are already
familiar with this unique toolbar. You can use it to immediately switch
between different views, like contents of your Inbox, Drafts folder, and
Sent Items folder.
✦ The Folders list: Click any folder icon in this tree display to display the
contents of that folder.
To add a new folder to the Folders list, right-click any folder in the list
and then click New Folder from the pop-up menu that appears. Outlook
Express displays the Create Folder dialog box that you see in Figure 5-3,
where you can type a name for your new folder and select the existing
folder that will act as its “parent.” Click OK, and the new folder appears
in the Folders list.
✦ The Message pane: The messages in the currently selected folder are
displayed in list form in the Message pane.
✦ The Contacts list: This window contains a list of the e-mail addresses in
your Address Book.
✦ The Preview pane: Clicking a message in the Message pane displays it
in the Preview pane (without the hassle of actually opening the message
in a separate window). After all, we are a people interested in convenience, are we not?
Introducing the Outlook Express Window
Folder list
Menu
283
Message pane Toolbar
Figure 5-1:
The Outlook
Express
window in
action.
Book III
Chapter 5
Contacts list
Status bar
Preview pane
Figure 5-2:
Make
changes to
the Outlook
Express
toolbar
here.
The Preview pane is a highly configurable little beastie. Choose View➪
Layout to display the Window Layout settings that you see in Figure 5-4.
The Preview pane can be hidden, or you can display it below or next to
the Message pane. You can also toggle the display of the header in the
Preview pane, which displays the To, From, and Subject fields from the
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
Outlook bar
284
Introducing the Outlook Express Window
message being previewed. (If you’ve got a ton of mail, losing the header
can help conserve screen space.) You can also mark the check boxes to
display or hide various pieces ’n’ parts of the Outlook Express window.
✦ The status bar: Last — and actually pretty much least — is our old
friend, the status bar. You can get basic totals on the number of read
and unread messages in this bar as well as your Online/Offline status.
(The program is typically offline if you’re not connected to the Internet.)
It also shows you when Outlook Express is sending and receiving mail.
You can easily adjust the size of any pane in the Outlook Express window:
Move your mouse pointer over the divider bar that you want to move until
it turns into opposing arrows and then drag to relocate the bar.
Figure 5-3:
Add a new
folder to
the Folders
list here.
Figure 5-4:
Fix your
window
layout
“just so.”
Setting Up Your Mailbox
285
Setting Up Your Mailbox
Even the mightiest barrage of e-mail begins with a single step. Well, actually
two steps, because you have to start Outlook Express for the first time . . .
but then, mind you, you’re down to a single step! I’m talking about adding at
least one e-mail mailbox account to your Outlook Express configuration;
without a mailbox account, you get diddly-squat.
To create a mailbox account, follow these steps:
1. Choose Tools➪Accounts to display the Internet Accounts dialog box
that you see in Figure 5-5.
Figure 5-5:
Creating
a new
account
with
zest and
panache.
Book III
Chapter 5
menu that appears to display . . . tah-dah! a wizard!
No, not the Gandalf guy. Even the Dark Lord Gates himself couldn’t
afford that kind of talent.
3. Type your name as you’d like it to be displayed when you send
messages and then click Next to continue.
4. Type the e-mail address that your Internet service provider (ISP) gave
you and then click Next to continue.
Figure 5-6 illustrates the next screen, which prompts you to enter your
incoming (POP3) server and outgoing (SMTP) server addresses. If that’s
as coherent to you as the scribbling on the blackboard in a particle
physics class, refer to the documentation or instructions provided by
your ISP. That stuff has to be there somewhere because your ISP has to
supply it, and you can’t just make it up.
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
2. Click the Add button and then click the Mail item from the pop-up
286
Setting Up Your Mailbox
Figure 5-6:
Can’t we
all just be
servers
here today?
5. Click Next to continue.
6. Enter the e-mail account name and e-mail password supplied by your
ISP, as shown in Figure 5-7.
See why those ISP folks get paid the big bucks? They have to supply you
with a lot of stuff.
7. Make sure that you’re entering your e-mail name and password — a
combination that’s typically different from your account logon name
and password that you use to connect to the Internet — and then
click Next to continue.
Figure 5-7:
Enter your
e-mail
account
name and
password
here.
Setting Up Your Mailbox
287
Did your ISP’s documentation and instructions tell you to select the
Log on Using Secure Password Authentication (SPA) check box? If not,
you’re going to throw a brick to your e-mail server instead of a password . . . or, in layman’s language, you won’t be supplying the right type
of password, and you’ll never be allowed to retrieve your mail. You
should only enable SPA when you’ve been specifically told to do so by
your ISP. (Harrumph.)
If your PC is located in a secure spot — nestled in your family’s game
room, for example, or bolted down in the back of your 1972 Ford LTD
station wagon — it’s okay to leave the Remember Password check box
marked. Outlook Express won’t bug you for a password each time that
you connect to send and receive mail. However, if your PC is sitting on
your side table in your dorm room — the room with the door that
anyone can open with a paper clip — I highly recommend that you clear
this check box to disable it and thus avoid the embarrassment of someone sending messages that purport to come from you.
8. That’s it! Talk about painless! Click Finish.
Your new e-mail account appears in the Internet Accounts dialog box.
9. Click Close to return to Outlook Express.
Figure 5-8:
Lucky you . . .
you can
edit mail
account
properties
at any time.
Book III
Chapter 5
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
Note that you can return to the Internet Accounts dialog box at any time to
change the settings on your e-mail account. Click the account in the list and
then click the Properties button, which displays the Mail Properties dialog
box that you see in Figure 5-8. Most of this stuff will never change, but occasionally an ISP will change the name of an e-mail server or set up new security measures that require a change on your end.
288
The Three R’s: Receiving, Reading, and Replying
The Three R’s: Receiving, Reading, and Replying
Time to check your e-mail? Click the Send/Recv button on the toolbar.
That’s it.
Okay, okay — you can press Ctrl+M as well. Whoops, I’m being secretive.
Here’s the chop: Outlook Express will connect to the Internet (if necessary),
and new messages will show up as bolded entries in the Message pane.
You can double-click a message to open it; Outlook Express displays the
message in its own separate window (as in Figure 5-9).
If the Preview pane is visible, you can scan a message by clicking it once
(or by using the up- and down-arrow keys to move through the list). As soon
as you’ve scanned or read a message, it’s marked as read, and the bolding
disappears.
If you encounter a message from someone who’s not in your Address Book
and you want to add that sender, right-click the message in the Message
pane and then choose Add Sender to Address Book from the pop-up menu
that appears. The e-mail address appears in the person’s e-mail address in
the Contacts list.
Figure 5-9:
Reading an
incoming
message.
The Three R’s: Receiving, Reading, and Replying
289
“There is Another. . . .”
One look at the new message or reply windows,
and it’s apparent that Outlook Express only
supports regular carbon copies. But wait . . . is
that really true?
even add the e-mail addresses of the other folks
to his or her Address Book.) In some cases,
sending regular carbon copies can be a serious
breach of privacy.
You can also send a blind carbon copy (Bcc),
which is a carbon copy message to recipients
in which the e-mail addresses of the other
recipients are hidden. (If you send standard
carbon copies of your message, each recipient
can see who else received the message — and
To expose the Bcc Easter egg within a new
message or reply window, choose View➪All
Headers. Boing! There it is! Other than the extra
privacy, Bcc addresses are handled in the same
manner as Cc addresses.
To reply to an incoming message, follow these steps:
1. Click the desired message in the Message pane list to select it and
then click the Reply button on the toolbar.
If you’re reading the message in its own window, click the Reply button
within the window. You can also click the Reply All button to send your
reply to others who also received the message (including those who
received carbon copies).
A Reply window appears (feast on Figure 5-10) with the insertion
cursor at the top of the message box. The text of the original message
is included under the Original Message header, and Outlook Express
has already filled in the To field with the name of the person who sent
the original e-mail.
2. Although Outlook Express has already inserted the prefix Re in front
of the original subject line, you can click in the Subject box and type
a new subject if necessary.
3. If you want to send the reply to more than one person, click in the
Cc (carbon copy) box and type the addresses manually (separated
by semicolons).
Alternatively, click the Cc button to choose names from your Address
Book (as shown in Figure 5-11).
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
You can also choose to forward a message, allowing you to add a comment to the body of the original message before you send it to the new
recipient(s). To forward a message, click the Forward button instead of
the Reply/Reply All button.
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The Three R’s: Receiving, Reading, and Replying
Figure 5-10:
Let’s just
reply to that
message,
shall we?
Figure 5-11:
Extract
addresses
from your
Address
Book.
4. Click in the message box — if necessary — and type the contents of
your message.
You can select text that you want to spice up by clicking and dragging
across it and then applying formatting to it from the Formatting toolbar.
Sending E-Mail to Friends and Enemies
291
You can also add attachments (use the procedure that I outline in the
upcoming section “Sending and Receiving File Attachments”).
If the Formatting toolbar isn’t present in the reply window — or if the
Formatting menu is disabled — you’re writing your e-mail message in
plain text. Choose Format➪Rich Text (HTML), and all your formatting
controls will be available. However, I’m personally not a big fan of
Rich Text (HTML) messages for two reasons. One: Not all e-mail programs handle HyperText Markup Language (HTML) messages properly
(especially older e-mail applications running on Linux or Windows 98).
Two: Rich text messages are much larger than plain text messages and
can take longer to send and receive.
5. When you’re ready to send your message, click the Send button to
usher it on its way immediately (or press Alt+S from the keyboard).
You can save the message in draft form and delay sending it until later
(choose File➪Save and then close the window); the message appears in
your Drafts folder.
6. (Optional) To send a draft message, double-click the Drafts folder to
open it, double-click the message to open it, and then click Send.
You can also move a draft message to your Outbox, and it will be sent
the next time that Outlook Express connects to the Internet to send and
receive mail; to move a draft message to your Outbox, choose
File➪Send Later.
To delete a message that you no longer need from any folder, click the
message in the Message pane list and then press Delete or click the Delete
button on the toolbar. The messages are deposited in your Deleted Items
folder and can be retrieved if necessary.
Sending E-Mail to Friends and Enemies
If you need to send a message to one of your contacts in your Address Book,
nothing could be simpler. Just right-click the person’s name in your
Contacts list and then choose Send Email from the pop-up menu that
appears. However, sometimes you have to send a message to a person
who’s not listed in your Contacts list: Click the Create Mail button on the
toolbar or choose File➪New➪Mail Message.
Either way, Outlook Express opens the New Message window that you see
in Figure 5-12. Here’s the rest of the story:
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
Messages that you’ve sent are deposited in your Sent Items folder. You can
peruse them at any time if your memory needs refreshing.
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292
Sending E-Mail to Friends and Enemies
Figure 5-12:
Say, isn’t
that a new
message
window?
1. If the recipient isn’t in your Contacts list, click in the To box and then
type the e-mail address.
Of course, you can also add carbon copies and blind carbon copies by
clicking the Cc and Bcc buttons, respectively.
2. Click in the Subject field, type the subject for this message, and then
press Tab to move to the message editing box.
3. Type the text of your message; if it’s set as an HTML message, apply
any desired formatting to the text.
4. Add attachments to your message, if necessary.
Find more on this later in this chapter.
5. If you’d like to check the spelling in your message, click the Spelling
button on the toolbar.
If Outlook Express encounters a word with — shall we say, “questionable”
spelling — you’ll see the dialog box shown in Figure 5-13. To substitute
the word in the Change To box, click the Change button; to substitute a
word in the Suggestions list, click it and then click the Change button.
(If you’ve mangled the word several times in the same message, click
the Change All button instead.)
Sending E-Mail to Friends and Enemies
293
Figure 5-13:
Speelling iz
often
sumwatt
importunt.
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6. Does this message deserve immediate attention? “Help, Mom, I’m
stuck in Vienna with no cash!” If so, click the Priority button on the
toolbar and then choose High Priority from the drop-down list box.
This doesn’t actually send the message any faster, nor does it travel
with any extra gusto. However, it will show up with a priority flag in the
recipient’s e-mail application.
7. If you’d like to verify that a message has been read, choose Tools➪
Request Read Receipt.
Note: This will not guarantee that you’ll receive notice when the message
has been read. The recipient is prompted for confirmation beforehand,
so a read receipt can be canceled.
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
Did you spell thakamology correctly? If so, you can choose to ignore
this occurrence (click the Ignore button) or ignore all occurrences (click
Ignore All) to avoid further unnecessary nagging during a spell check. If
you use thakamology quite a bit in your messages, click Add to add the
word to the Outlook Express dictionary, and the program shan’t bother
you again.
294
Sending and Receiving File Attachments
8. Ready to ship it? You have the same options available as you have
when replying to a message:
• Click Send to send it immediately.
• Choose File➪Save (or press Ctrl+S) to save it in your Drafts folder.
• Move the message to your Outbox by choosing File➪Send Later.
Sending and Receiving File Attachments
Why limit your messages to that silly message box? Break out of the box
with file attachments! Just about any type of file can be attached to a
message, and you can save that file to your hard drive from within the read
message window. (And yes, that includes most files sent to you by your
friends with those funky Macintosh and Linux computers!)
Unfortunately, some file attachments that you might receive should be
immediately cast out. I’m speaking, naturally, about e-mail viruses and
macros with a homicidal bent, which are becoming as common these days
as the generic junk mail messages that you receive every day. Luckily, you
can use an antivirus program like Norton AntiVirus (from Symantec, at
www.symantec.com) that will automatically scan attachments for any dangerous programs before you use them. Never open an attachment without
proper antivirus protection! And that includes attached files that you’ve
received from folks whom you know and trust! (They could unknowingly
be hosting a virus themselves — some of these bugs are smart enough to
actually replicate themselves by enclosing copies of themselves in innocuouslooking messages!)
With that stern admonishment in mind, here’s how you can add an attachment to your outgoing message:
1. Reply to a message or compose a new message.
2. Click the Attach button on the toolbar to display the Insert File dialog
box.
3. Navigate to the location of the file(s) you want to attach; then click
the first filename to select it.
To add more than one file, hold down Ctrl while you click.
4. Click the Attachment button to add the files to the message.
Outlook Express displays attached files in the Attach box within the
header area of the message dialog box (as shown in Figure 5-14).
Sending and Receiving File Attachments
295
Figure 5-14:
An attached
file is displayed
in the
message
header.
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You might be wondering why folks don’t use file attachments for everything
instead of resorting to those silly CD-ROMs for big file transfers. Well, it
takes a very long time to download a big file over a dialup connection, so
all ISPs put a limit on the size of an individual message and all its attachments. This limit usually rejects any message over 1 or 2MB in total size.
(The exact limit is determined by both your Internet e-mail server and the
recipient’s e-mail server.) Therefore, I recommend limiting your total attachment size to 1MB or less. It’s easy to tell when your attachments are too
doggone big: Either your ISP’s mail server or the recipient’s mail server will
send you an error message that your original e-mail is undeliverable.
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
When you receive an e-mail message with an attachment, a paper clip icon
is displayed next to the message entry in the Message pane. To download
an attachment from an incoming message, right-click the file attachment in
the header and then choose Save As to select a spot on your system where
the file will be stored. (From within the Message window, right-click the
attachment in the Attach box and then choose Save As from the pop-up
menu that appears.)
296
Spam: I Hate It! Truly I Do!
Spam: I Hate It! Truly I Do!
Is there anyone on the planet who’ll actually open a message promising
instant hair regrowth? Or a once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunity? Or
some sort of illicit physical offer that you neither want nor need? Why does
junk mail exist? Aren’t these spam-slingers just wasting their time?
Good questions, all . . . but for some reason, junk mail continues to accumulate on your Internet doorstep. Not even the government can stop it —
something about that pesky Bill of Rights — but you can sure doggone
reduce the flow of spam to a trickle by using the mail-blocking feature within
Outlook Express.
When you receive a junk mail message from someone, click it in the Message
pane list and then choose Message➪Block Sender. Outlook Express displays
the confirmation dialog box that you see in Figure 5-15. If you want to sweep
the active folder clean of every trace of the sender, click Yes; to leave this
message and any others in the active folder, click No.
Figure 5-15:
We won’t
be getting
any more
mail from
this “entrepreneur.”
Use this method to block all messages from a specific e-mail address. Any
mail that you receive from that source will now be dumped directly into
your Deleted Items folder. (You can still look at it there, of course, just to
verify that the proper trash was picked up.)
However, nefarious junk mail villains can still get around a blocked
sender list by changing their sending address: For example,
[email protected] suddenly becomes [email protected]
justanexample.com or something similar. Does this mean that you have
to continue to suffer?
Not in the least, good Internet citizen! You can also block an entire domain
name, which is the part of an e-mail address that follows the @ sign, like
[email protected] That way, no matter what silly username they try
to use, Outlook Express will still throw anything that they send straight into
Spam: I Hate It! Truly I Do!
297
the trash. To block an entire domain name, first add a sender to the blocked
sender list by using the process that I outline above and then follow these
steps to knock them out completely:
1. Choose Tools➪Message Rules and then click Blocked Senders List.
Outlook Express displays the Message Rules dialog box that you see in
Figure 5-16.
Figure 5-16:
We’re
comin’
for you,
spammer. . . .
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pletely can.
Boy howdy, do I hate spammers, or what? Yes, indeed I do.
3. Click the Modify button.
You’ll see the Edit Sender dialog box, as shown in Figure 5-17.
Figure 5-17:
Edit a
blocked
address to
wipe out
anything
from an
entire
domain.
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
2. Click the address of the offending twit whom you want to com-
298
Working with the Address Book
4. Click in the Address field and delete everything in front of and
including the @ sign so that the only thing left is the domain name
(such as mlcbooks.com).
By the way, please don’t really block mlcbooks.com. You can be sure
that I’ll never distribute unsolicited mail to anyone.
5. Click OK and then click OK again to return to the Outlook Express
window.
You can add an address or an entire domain to your blocked list by accident. To return that address or domain to good standing, display the
Message Rules dialog box again, click the address in the blocked list, and
then click Remove.
If you get a message from an obvious spam tycoon who includes a line about
how you can oh-so-conveniently “unsubscribe” from his mailing list, don’t
do it! This is a scam that’s designed to verify that your e-mail address is
valid; if you unsubscribe, you’ll end up with a regular tidal wave of junk
mail.
Working with the Address Book
The Contacts list in Outlook Express is usually all most folks will need for 99
percent of their workday. I explain earlier in this chapter how you can add
contacts simply by right-clicking the author’s e-mail address in a message;
that’s the most common action that you’ll take.
However, you can reach the Address Book proper from within Outlook
Express. Just click the Addresses button on the toolbar, and the Address
Book window appears (behold Figure 5-18).
Figure 5-18:
Open the
Address
Book from
within
Outlook
Express.
Working with the Address Book
299
From this window, you can
✦ Create a new contact: Click the New button on the toolbar and then
choose New Contact (or just press Ctrl+N); the Address Book displays
that contact’s Properties dialog box, like you see in Figure 5-19. Click in
each field that you need to complete to add the contact’s information.
To save your new contact, click OK.
Figure 5-19:
Adding a
new contact
from the
Address
Book.
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✦ Send an e-mail message: Select a contact, click the Action button on the
toolbar, and then click Send Mail. You’ll be returned to the Outlook
Express window, where you’ll find a brand-new New Message window
(already addressed to the contact, naturally).
✦ Make a voice phone call: If your modem has a telephone connected to
it, you can use your modem as an auto-dialer to place a call to the contact. (After you hear the phone ringing, pick up the handset on the
phone, and you’re in business.) Select a contact, click the Action button,
and then click Dial. The Address Book displays the New Call dialog box
that you see in Figure 5-20, where you can tweak any dialing properties
or select from multiple telephone numbers stored for the contact. When
you’re ready to dial, click the Call button.
Harnessing
Your E-Mail
✦ Edit an existing contact: Click the contact that you want to edit. Then
click Properties from the toolbar to display that contact’s Properties
dialog box, which includes all the fields that you originally saw when
you created the contact. You can click in any field to either change
existing data or add new information. To save your changes, click OK.
300
Working with the Address Book
Figure 5-20:
Preparing
to use my
modem
as an
auto-dialer.
✦ Create groups: A group is a collection of individual e-mail addresses
that you can refer to as a category, like your bridge club or your department within your company. After you create a group, you can address
e-mail messages to all group members easily without messing with
carbon copies. Press Ctrl+G or choose New➪Group from the toolbar to
display the Group Properties dialog box shown in Figure 5-21. Type a
name for the group and then click the Select Members button to add
members from your Address Book. Click Close, and you’ll see that the
group entry appears in the folder tree at the left of the Address Book
window.
✦ Import contact data: You can import vCard information from others. A
vCard is a small text file that contains all the contact information for one
or more people in a standard format that you can pass around to others
like a virtual business Card. (Cute, eh?) Address Book can also import
contacts stored in another Address Book file (which end in the .wab
extension). To import, choose File➪Import and then choose the file
type that you want to read from the pop-up menu. Address Book will
prompt you for the location of the import file.
Figure 5-21:
Creating an
Address
Book group.
“Hey, Who Are You Now?”
301
✦ Export a vCard file: To export a single contact in vCard format, first
select the contact record that you want to export and then choose
File➪Export. From the pop-up menu that appears, choose Business Card
(vCard), type a filename, and then navigate to the spot where you want
to save the file. Click Save to create the vCard file, which you can then
send as an attachment to an e-mail message or place on your Web site
for others to download.
“Hey, Who Are You Now?”
From time to time, you might find that you need to be someone else on the
Internet — at least, in your e-mail. For example, you might use your real
name for personal e-mail that you send from the office, but you might also
represent your company (as a technical support representative, for example).
Microsoft calls these different manifestations identities.
Luckily, Outlook Express can help you with your multiple personality
needs — rather frightening, I admit, but Microsoft has always been thorough in designing applications! To create an alternate identity within
Outlook Express, follow these steps:
1. Choose File➪Identities and then click Add New Identity, which opens
the dialog box that you see in Figure 5-22.
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Harnessing
Your E-Mail
Figure 5-22:
Yes, you can
become the
Masked
Avenger . . .
in e-mail,
anyway.
2. Type a descriptive name for this identity and decide whether you
want to password-protect it. If you do need the protection, enable the
Require a Password check box and then click the Change Password
button to set the password. Finally, click OK to continue.
3. Outlook Express prompts you to determine whether you want to
switch to your new identity immediately. Click Yes to switch or click
No to keep your current identity.
You’re deposited at the Manage Identities dialog box (yup, in Figure 5-23).
302
“Hey, Who Are You Now?”
Figure 5-23:
Hey, wait a
second; I’m
the Masked
Avenger!
4. From this dialog box, you can add more identities, modify an existing
identity, and delete an identity.
If you work quite a bit with multiple identities — I won’t ask — you can
specify which identity to use throughout Windows XP when you run an
application (and which identity to use as your default).
5. Click Close to return to Outlook Express.
After you establish your new identity, you can switch to it at any time within
Outlook Express. Choose File➪Switch Identities to display the dialog box
that you see in Figure 5-24. Click the identity that you want to assume (and
enter the password if necessary) and then click OK to become — well —
someone else, I guess.
Figure 5-24:
Switching
to another
identity in
Outlook
Express.
Chapter 6: Instant Messaging
Done Right
In This Chapter
Comparing Messenger with the competition
Running Windows Messenger
Setting your Messenger configuration
Building a Messenger contact list
Chatting with others
Changing your Messenger status
Blocking unwanted communications
T
he ability to communicate with someone else halfway across the globe
is nothing new. Just ask Benjamin Franklin, who would tell you that the
U.S. Postal Service was a civilized and modern convenience. And the ability
to communicate by typing to someone via your computer? Heck, any SYSOP
(System Operator) like myself who was worth the title offered real-time
chatting between users on the Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) that were
so popular in the ’80s and ’90s before the arrival of the Internet.
Ah, but combine the two — real-time chatting over the Internet between an
entire group of people — and you have something really amazing. In this
chapter, I show you how to use Windows Messenger to communicate in
style (as long as you have an Internet connection, that is).
Selecting a Chat Client
Although Windows Messenger is included in Windows XP, you have other
choices for your instant messaging application. And before I jump into
Messenger, I’d like to mention the competition (just in case you like choices).
Like Windows Messenger, both of these programs display chat messages
on your screen within a few seconds after they’re sent, which is the definition of instant messaging. You’ll also find universal support for transferring
files and images while you’re chatting, adding icons and symbols (called
304
Selecting a Chat Client
emoticons or smileys), text formatting, and a list of your favorite people that
you can use to check who’s online. However, note this downside: At the time
of this writing, each different application has a completely separate membership group, so if you’re using AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), you can’t communicate with someone using Windows Messenger or I Seek You (ICQ). Such
is the Tower of Babel (or is that Babble?) that results from proprietary software developers. (Sigh.)
AIM
AOL Instant Messenger (or AIM, as it’s popularly known) is the free messaging application distributed by America Online. And, to debunk a popular
myth, you don’t have to be a member of America Online to use AIM.
Figure 6-1 illustrates AIM in action.
Figure 6-1:
AIM at
work in
Windows —
play nicely,
fellows!
AIM works fine in Windows 95 or later. Its features include
✦ Skins that you can apply to customize the appearance of your AIM
window
✦ Integration with Outlook Express, where you can display your Buddy
List and send messages from within Outlook Express
✦ Voice support for honest-to-goodness verbal communication (between
AIM members with the right hardware)
✦ A typing indicator that appears to show you that someone else is
preparing a message to you (a great boon for those One-Finger Wonder
[OFW] typists)
✦ A commercial enterprise system that allows offices to use AIM
(along with providing network administrators a method of controlling it)
Selecting a Chat Client
305
In order to use AIM, you have to set up a screen name — think register —
but it’s a simple process, and AOL won’t hound you to join. (At least AOL
hasn’t hounded me.) You can download the program from www.aim.com.
ICQ
The other well-known alternative to Messenger is ICQ — short for I Seek You
(which I’ve always felt is stretching the mechanics of an acronym about as
far as possible). You can download the free version, as shown in Figure 6-2,
from www.icq.com. ICQ Lite (which doesn’t offer the advanced features of
ICQ Pro 2003a, like e-mail checking and keyword people searches) runs fine
in Windows 98 or later.
Figure 6-2:
ICQ Lite is
a perennial
favorite
among the
chat crowd.
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Chapter 6
✦ The ability to send messages to cell phones and wireless pagers
✦ Internet (or IP) telephony, where ICQ members can talk from their PC
to a honest-to-goodness standard telephone
✦ Peer-to-peer applications such as games
✦ A chat history feature that saves all that important dialog for later
perusal
✦ Multilingual support so that you can type to friends in any language
supported within Windows
ICQ assigns you a unique user number when you join; the number acts as
your ID number (much like your unique e-mail address), and others can
connect to you by using your user number.
Instant Messaging
Done Right
You’ll find that ICQ, one of the first instant messaging programs to reach the
public, offers a number of very powerful options as well:
306
Running Windows Messenger
Running Windows Messenger
If you decide to follow The Gates Way and use Windows Messenger, you can
also use MSN Messenger, which offers the same functionality and is tied
closely to Microsoft’s MSN Web site. Version 5.0 of MSN Messenger, as
shown in Figure 6-3, runs only under Windows XP. You can download it from
www.msn.com.
If you’re already using Microsoft’s Hotmail service for Web-based e-mail,
Messenger not only automatically uses your Hotmail ID, but it also keeps
you updated in the Messenger window with the number of unread Hotmail
messages. To open Internet Explorer and read any unread mail, just click the
New E-Mail Message(s) link in the Messenger window.
Figure 6-3:
The MSN
Messenger
window.
Configuring Windows Messenger
307
Here are two ways to access the Messenger window:
✦ From the Start menu: Choose Start➪All Programs➪Windows Messenger.
✦ From the taskbar icon: If you see a Messenger icon in the notification
area of the taskbar (which looks like a little round-headed person),
double-click it. (Clicking the Messenger icon once displays a menu with
common Messenger commands, so it’s not really necessary to doubleclick to send a message.)
If you haven’t set up a Microsoft .NET Passport yet, you’ll have to do so
before you can use Messenger. Click the Click Here to Sign In link to run the
Passport Wizard, which will lead you through the sign-in process. The .NET
Passport is a sort of common “universal” user name and password that can
act as your logon for all sorts of Microsoft Web sites and online services.
Configuring Windows Messenger
The default configuration settings for Messenger will fly straight for just
about everyone, but here are a handful that I’d like to specifically cover just
in case you’d like to fine-tune how the program works. From the Messenger
window, choose Tools➪Options to display the Options dialog box that you
see in Figure 6-4.
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Instant Messaging
Done Right
Figure 6-4:
Set your
preferences
within
Messenger.
308
Configuring Windows Messenger
On the Personal tab:
✦ My Display Name: Here you can change the name that Messenger
displays when you chat.
✦ My Public Profile: Click the Edit Profile button to change your MSN
user profile that others can display or match when using the Member
search feature.
My Status: If you don’t type a message or use the Messenger window
for a specified number of minutes, your account is listed as Away within
the Messenger system, and your friends will know that you’re not immediately available. However, you can alter the inactivity delay period or
even disable the check box altogether and always be listed with the
Online status. Personally, I like the five-minute default value for the
Away feature.
On the Messages tab:
You can format message text by selecting the font to use in your messages
and enabling or disabling emoticons/smileys.
On the Privacy tab:
If you want to be accessible only by those folks on your Allow List (which
I cover later in this chapter), enable the Only People on My Allow List
Can See My Status and Send Me Messages check box. You can also view
which Messenger members have added you to their contact lists and also
force Messenger to prompt you for your password when you check your
Hotmail messages.
On the General tab:
✦ Sign In: Use these options to configure whether Messenger starts automatically when Windows XP boots and whether the program should
sign in automatically whenever your PC is connected to the Internet.
✦ Alerts: From here, you can specify when you want Messenger to alert
you of specific events, like when a person on your contact list comes
online or if you receive e-mail on your Hotmail account. I recommend
leaving the Display Alerts When a Message Is Received check box
enabled so you’ll know that you have a new message even when you’re
knee-deep in an Excel worksheet or a Word document.
Feel free to modify any of the configuration settings as you like, but remember that you can exit without saving any changes to the Messenger options
by clicking the Cancel button (just in case you decide that you’d rather
back out).
Keeping Track of Friends and Family
309
Keeping Track of Friends and Family
Messenger allows you to keep a contact list, which is essentially a simple
address book that you can use to display the online/inactive/not online
status of your friends and family. The contact list appears within the
Messenger window, grouped by the current status of its members.
To add a contact to Messenger by using the person’s e-mail address or a
Microsoft Passport sign-in name, follow these steps:
1. Click the Add a Contact button in the Messenger window, which
displays the Add a Contact Wizard that you see in Figure 6-5.
2. Select the By E-Mail Address or Sign-in Name radio button and then
click Next.
3. In the following wizard window, type the person’s e-mail address into
the text box and then click Next.
If Messenger can’t locate that MSN member’s account, you can send a
message to the person telling them you’d like them to join MSN so that
you can jaw with them.
4. If the person’s account is found, Messenger adds the person to your
contact list.
5. Click Finish to exit the wizard.
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Instant Messaging
Done Right
Figure 6-5:
Add a
contact via
a sign-in
name or
e-mail
address.
310
Keeping Track of Friends and Family
To add a contact by using your Hotmail Address Book, follow these steps:
1. Click the Add a Contact button in the Messenger window.
2. Select the From My Address Book radio button and then click Next.
The wizard displays your contacts from your Hotmail account, as
shown in Figure 6-6.
Figure 6-6:
Add a
contact
from your
Hotmail
Address
Book.
3. Click (highlight) the name that you want to add and then click Next.
On this last wizard screen, you can choose to send an e-mail message to
the person stating that you want to chat with this person via Messenger,
offering information on how to install it.
4. Click Finish to exit the wizard.
To remove a person from your contact list, click the entry once to highlight
it in your list and then press Delete. Messenger will prompt you for confirmation before removing the contact.
To share your contact list with others — or to copy your work contact list
to Messenger on your home PC — choose File➪Save Contact List. After you
save the file to disk and transfer it to the other PC, choose File➪Import
Contacts from a Saved File.
Even though you add someone to your contact list, you’re still not quite
home free. The person whom you added sees a dialog box prompting for
permission to allow you to chat — and this new contact can also block you
from seeing and contacting him/her. This precaution makes it tough for
lounge lizards (and worse) to cruise through Messenger looking for new
victims.
Chatting with Your Brethren
311
To make more room for a longer contact list, choose Tools➪Show Actions
Pane to toggle it off. Remember that you can still reach all the same actions
from either the Actions menu or by right-clicking a name in the contact list.
Chatting with Your Brethren
After you successfully add folks to your contact list, you’re ready to party!
Follow these steps to initiate a chat session:
1. Double-click any name that appears in the Online section of the
contact list.
Double-clicking a name in the Not Online section automatically creates a
new e-mail message because you’re obviously not going to be able to
chat with that person in real-time if they aren’t online at the moment.
Messenger displays the Conversation window that you see in Figure 6-7.
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Instant Messaging
Done Right
Figure 6-7:
Begin a
Messenger
chat here.
To send a message from the menu system, choose Actions➪Send an
Instant Message. You can also right-click any name in your contact list
and choose the same actions from the pop-up menu that appears.
2. Click in the bottom text box and type your message.
3. To insert an emoticon at the current cursor position in the text box,
click the Emoticons drop-down list (see Figure 6-8) and then click the
desired symbol.
312
Chatting with Your Brethren
Figure 6-8:
You need
just the right
smiley face.
4. To change your message font attributes, click the Font button to
display the dialog box shown in Figure 6-9.
From here, you can choose a different font, change the size and color of
your text, or add italic and bold attributes. Click OK to return to the
Messenger window.
5. When your message is ready to send, press Enter or click the
Send button.
Figure 6-9:
Change
the font of
your text
messages.
Chatting with Your Brethren
313
You can also send a message to the selected name in your contact list by
clicking the Send an Instant Message button at the bottom of the Messenger
window.
You’re not limited to a single person when you chat. Click the Invite
Someone to This Conversation button (under the I Want To heading), and
Messenger prompts you for the name of the contact whom you want to
invite into your current conversation. Click OK to send the invitation. Again,
the other party will have the chance to decline if he/she doesn’t like the
crowd that you’re seeing.
Like ICQ, Messenger also provides support for the following:
✦ Video: Click the Start Camera button to use your Web camera to send
video to the other person. (Naturally, this works much better over a
broadband connection.)
✦ Audio: If you and the other person have microphones (or, preferably,
headsets) set up within Windows XP, you can actually talk to one
another directly. Click the Start Talking button, and Messenger will
attempt to set up an audio conversation.
✦ Sending files: To send a file or image to the other person, click the Send
a File or Photo button. Messenger displays the familiar Open dialog box,
where you can select the desired file. Note: The person on the receiving
end must approve the transfer before it will begin.
✦ Interacting using applications: You can run the Microsoft Whiteboard
application to draw on a shared virtual whiteboard.
✦ Phone calls: If you’ve signed up with an Internet telephony provider,
click the Make a Phone Call button. This service allows you to use a
headset connected to your PC to make a call to anyone over his telephone. (Again, this isn’t a free service.)
✦ Launching multiplayer games: If Messenger recognizes a Microsoft
game with multiplayer support on your hard drive, you can start a
multiplayer game. For example, I use this feature to start a multiplayer
game of MechWarrior Mercenaries.
Instant Messaging
Done Right
✦ Linked browsing: This is a really neat feature. Click the Browse the Web
Together button, and you both simultaneously see the same Web pages!
Either of you can click links, making it a neat way to demonstrate things
or even virtually shop together. (Unfortunately, both parties must be
subscribing MSN 8 members, or this feature won’t work.)
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314
Selecting a Status
Before you decide to use the Ask for Remote Assistance feature, make
doggone sure that you’re talking to a reliable person whom you know and
trust — not someone who happens to be sitting at his keyboard — and
definitely not a party that you’ve just met! Remember, Remote Assistance
allows the other person to directly manipulate your copy of Windows XP,
and nasty (I mean truly nasty) things can happen at the hands of an illmeaning (or just inexperienced) person.
If you want to view the profile information associated with a Messenger
member, right-click her name within your contact list and then click View
Profile; this can include the person’s e-mail address and any personal
information that she’s specified as visible.
To leave a chat, you simply close the Conversation window.
Selecting a Status
As I mention earlier in this chapter, Messenger will automatically change
your status to Away if you don’t use Messenger for five minutes.
However, you can change your status at any time, which is a good idea if
you step away from your PC for a soda. When you change your status,
Messenger instantly updates your icon in other’s contact lists.
To change your status, click the My Status drop-down list box at the top of
the Messenger window and then choose the desired status (as shown in
Figure 6-10). Alternatively, you can choose File➪My Status and then click the
status that you want from the pop-up menu that appears.
To change your status so that you look like you’re completely offline, you
can choose Appear Offline, which actually moves you to the Not Online
section of the contact list.
Squelching the Unwelcome Few
315
Figure 6-10:
Changing
your status
is a cinch.
Book III
Chapter 6
From time to time, you’ll encounter folks whom you simply would rather not
communicate with at all. Sorry, but even Microsoft can’t produce a program
that can turn away the common Internet Turkey. Luckily, you can manually
take care of turkeys in Messenger (when you recognize ’em for what they
are, anyway).
✦ From the contact list: If you’re mad at an ill-mannered individual — who
also happens to be in your contact list — you can block any further
communication with them by right-clicking that name in your list and
then choosing Block from the pop-up menu that appears.
Instant Messaging
Done Right
Squelching the Unwelcome Few
316
Squelching the Unwelcome Few
✦ From the Conversation window: Click the Block button from within
the Conversation window. If you’re chatting with multiple folks, you
can click the name of the offending person and then click Block to
screen out just that person. To unblock the person, click the blocked
name again to select it and then click the Unblock button (which
toggles between Block and Unblock.)
A blocked name appears with a red slash mark in your contact list. However,
you can unblock the person if you have a change of heart by right-clicking
the blocked name and then choosing Unblock from the pop-up menu that
appears.
Book IV
Microsoft Works
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: An Overview of Works ....................................................................................319
Chapter 2: Word Processing in Works ..............................................................................329
Chapter 3: Working with Spreadsheets ............................................................................345
Chapter 4: Using the Works Calendar ..............................................................................361
Chapter 5: Having Fun with Works Database ..................................................................373
Chapter 1: An Overview of Works
In This Chapter
Understanding the separate applications in Works
Using the Task Launcher
Accessing the Works Help system
I
like Microsoft Works.
It’s a guilty feeling — a little like kicking back with a marathon of Gilligan’s
Island, Petticoat Junction, or The Love Boat. We all know that Microsoft Office is
the most popular and powerful application suite on the planet — but deep
down inside, doesn’t everyone like the underdog, like its little brother, Works?
For many PC owners who don’t need complex and expensive features (like
all those weird Excel formulas and 500 different PowerPoint business templates), Works fits the bill quite nicely, thank you!
In this chapter, I introduce you to the surprising stuff in “that program I got
free with my PC,” as well as how to get help throughout the program. After
you’re done here, you’ll have an overview of what Works can do, and you’ll
be ready to delve into the following chapters in this mini-book — each takes
an in-depth look at one of the major applications in Works. (Online, you’ll
find the headquarters for Works at www.microsoft.com/products/works/
default.asp.)
Oh, and forget about the guilt. Works is a classic, just like The Beverly Hillbillies.
What Can I Do with Works?
Works 7.0 is a productivity suite — in other words, a number of discrete
applications that share data and use the same general commands and much
of the same menu system. With Works, you can take care of all these tasks in
a single sitting:
✦ Edit and print your résumé in the Word Processor
✦ Pare those unnecessary expenses from your home budget with the
Spreadsheet
✦ Create a list of chores that need doing around the house with the
Organizer
320
What Can I Do with Works?
Hopefully, you can avoid this last particular set of tasks. Anyway, in this section, I provide a description of each of the applications that are packed into
Works.
Word processing
Figure 1-1 illustrates the Microsoft Works Word Processor, which can handle
your text documents with aplomb.
Figure 1-1:
The Works
Word
Processor
and a
typical
project.
The high points of the Word Processor include these features:
✦ Embedded Web hyperlinks, database fields, and watermarks
✦ Mail Merge and label printing support with the Works Database
✦ Linked images, spreadsheets, charts, and tables that can be automatically updated
✦ Templates and projects for all sorts of printing projects, such as
brochures, greeting cards, newsletters, and flyers
✦ Mail Merge support with the Works Database (for more on this, see the
section entitled “Databases” later in this chapter)
What Can I Do with Works?
321
✦ A thesaurus, a spell checker, and a grammar checker
✦ The same AutoCorrect feature found in Word, which corrects the words
that you commonly misspell or omit
✦ Graphics produced by the WordArt font editor and a clip art library
If you happen to have any Word documents lying around your hard drive
that need to be opened, the Works Word Processor can use them. (As
Microsoft reminds us, however, Word contains advanced features that
Works doesn’t, so some features that appear in your Word document won’t
work in Works.)
Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets don’t rank up there with pizza and computer games in popularity with home PC owners, but when you need to view figures and relationships between numbers in an easy-to-comprehend fashion, you’ll be glad
that Works includes the Spreadsheet application, as shown in Figure 1-2.
Works Spreadsheet can open documents created with Excel without batting
an eyelash.
Book IV
Chapter 1
An Overview
of Works
Figure 1-2:
It looks like
Excel Lite —
boy, now
isn’t that a
disturbing
thought?!
322
What Can I Do with Works?
Outstanding features of the Works Spreadsheet include
✦ Automatic wizards to help you create lists and charts
✦ AutoFormat, which can apply a preset formatting template to a selected
area
✦ Functions and formulas for complex calculations
✦ The Easy Calc Formula Creation Wizard
✦ The ability to manipulate named cells and groups
✦ Header and footer support
✦ Borders and shading for professional-looking printed spreadsheets
Everyone knows that spreadsheets make great tools for budgeting and
income forecasting, but I can vouch for the ability of a spreadsheet to help
organize a soccer team as well.
Calendar
The Works Calendar (see Figure 1-3) is a thing of beauty to anyone who wants
to organize a busy digital lifestyle. Just think, actually being able to plan the
rest of your life around board meetings, golf games, and those endless socialite
parties. (Yeah, right — try band practice, 30-minute lunch (cough) “hours,”
and Recycle Pickup Day.) Regardless of your high-society standing, Calendar
will likely become an indispensable application for you within a few weeks.
The best features in Calendar include
✦ Event and appointment scheduling
✦ Configurable reminders for upcoming events
✦ Multiple calendar views
✦ Categories to help you organize your events and information
✦ Support for repeating events and appointments
✦ HyperText Markup Language (HTML) calendar exporting for posting
your calendar to a Web site
If you share calendar data with others, you’ll also be happy to know that
Works Calendar supports vCalendar files (the standard import/export
format for exchanging appointments and events between calendar programs) — trade and swap your calendar with your friends. What fun!
To Dos
Whoa, Nellie, that almost looks like To DOS — nope, I’m not trying to drive
you back to the days before Windows! Figure 1-4 captures the essence of the
What Can I Do with Works?
323
To Do list, which is the backbone of the Works My Projects Organizer. Yep,
that’s really the name . . . I know it’s a little long, but this screen keeps
everything on your To Do list organized by project — what you’re working
on and when everything is due. Again, this is classic stuff — suitable for
business or personal use, too.
In fact, Works can automatically generate a To Do list according to the type
of project or event that you’re planning. For example, the Plan a Party project automatically includes tasks and templates such as invitations, printing
maps, a guest list, and even thank-you cards. (Too bad your PC can’t help
you clean up afterwards.)
After you complete your To Do list, you can associate different types of documents with it — perhaps you’ve got a great invitation already prepared —
and you can “connect” that document on your hard drive with the Invitation
To Do item. (When the invitation needs printing, click that To Do item to
open the invitation document and print it; then mark the To Do item as completed.) You can print your task list, import appointments into Calendar, or
even generate a Web page with your schedule! Microsoft got it right with
this one.
Book IV
Chapter 1
An Overview
of Works
Figure 1-3:
Works
Calendar
is nononsense
and easy
to use.
324
What Can I Do with Works?
Figure 1-4:
Keep
everything
on schedule
with the My
Projects
Organizer.
Databases
Last (but certainly never, never least) is the Works Database, which is the
repository for all your information — everything from the folks on your
Christmas list to the ingredients in your fudge brownie recipe. Figure 1-5
illustrates the Works Database.
Works Database includes all sorts of fun features:
✦ An automated ReportCreator for building custom reports based on the
data that you specify
✦ A form view and form designer
✦ A list view for fast data entry and editing
✦ Data security through a write-protect mode
✦ Field formatting with automatic default values for each field
✦ Filters that you can create to display only certain records
Naturally, the Database application works in league with all the other Works
programs to share your data seamlessly wherever it’s needed. In plain
English, that means that you’ll never type your address again (no matter
whether you’re writing a letter, creating a bill planner, or creating an
appointment with your dentist).
Introducing the Task Launcher
325
Figure 1-5:
Yes, a
normal
human
being can
create a
database.
Introducing the Task Launcher
“Mark, these combined applications and this seamless cooperation are just
plain sassy — but what holds all this stuff together? Where do I start?”
The answer, good reader, is the Works Task Launcher, as shown in
Figure 1-6. Consider this your combination Works entryway/desktop
alternative/project launching pad. From the Task Launcher, you can
✦ Open projects that you’ve already created
Book IV
Chapter 1
✦ Create a new blank project (which launches the My Projects Organizer)
✦ Launch any of the separate applications that I discuss in earlier sections
of this chapter
✦ Load a specific task document, such as a financial worksheet or a photo
frame
✦ Synchronize a Palm Pilot or a Pocket PC with data from Works
✦ Run Outlook Express or Internet Explorer
✦ Display a history of the documents that you’ve worked on
An Overview
of Works
✦ Check or edit today’s (or any day’s) appointments
326
Displaying Help within Works
Figure 1-6:
It all starts
here — the
Works Task
Launcher.
After you’re comfortable with Works, I recommend leaving the Task
Launcher running the entire day. Believe me; you’ll be using it constantly.
Displaying Help within Works
To take full advantage of Works, you need to know about its comprehensive
Help system. A program this size and with this many features can rapidly
turn into a headache without the right information and guidance. Luckily,
Microsoft has provided Works with a great context-sensitive Help system
(see Figure 1-7).
To activate help in Works, use one of the following methods:
✦ Click the question mark icon, which appears in various places throughout Works (such as the menu bar and the Help pane)
✦ Press Alt+H to display the Help menu and then click Microsoft Works
Help
✦ Press F1
✦ Click any of the Quick Tours hyperlinks anywhere in Works
Displaying Help within Works
327
Figure 1-7:
Discover
how to look
for help in
all the right
places.
After the Help pane appears, you can ask the Help system a specific
question by typing it into the Answer Wizard text box and then clicking
the Search button. In order for this feature to work, keep your questions
as short and as specific as possible.
If the Help pane displays an underlined hyperlink that you’d like to see, click
it just like you’d click an underlined Web link in Internet Explorer. To display
the Help system contents, click the Context button on the button bar at the
top of the Help pane. Note: You can also display the Help Index or print the
current Help topic from the button bar.
Book IV
Chapter 1
An Overview
of Works
328
Book IV: Microsoft Works
Chapter 2: Word Processing
in Works
In This Chapter
Running the Works Word Processor
Introducing the word processing window
Selecting and editing text
Finding and replacing text
Formatting text and paragraphs
Formatting bulleted and numbered lists
Inserting graphics
Checking your spelling
Printing your documents
T
he Works Word Processor is a faithful companion — not as fast or as
functional as that thoroughbred of word processing, Microsoft Word,
but it does come from the same lineage, and you’ll find lite versions of many
of the same features hanging out under the Word Processor’s menu system.
Because Works is often shipped as standard equipment with Windows XP
Home Edition, you might have had it installed on your PC for months,
tucked away in a corner.
Let this chapter be your guide to the basics of the Word Processor. Discover
here how to type, select, and edit text; how to format your document; add
graphics; search for and replace text; and much more. Oh, and don’t forget
the projects that you can open from the Works Task Launcher. They can provide you with a foundation for many a common document, so you can get
right to work composing your prose.
Running the Word Processor
First things first — you can run the Works Word Processor in the following
ways:
330
Your Word Processing Tools
✦ Double-click the Works shortcut on your desktop to run the Task
Launcher and then click the Word Processor icon at the top of the
screen.
✦ Double-click a Works Word Processor document within Windows
Explorer or on your desktop.
✦ Choose Start (or press a Windows key, if your keyboard is so equipped)
and then choose Programs➪Microsoft Works➪Microsoft Works Word
Processor.
Your Word Processing Tools
The Works Word Processor main window appears in Figure 2-1. Naturally, it
has many similarities to its elder brother Microsoft Word, but you’ll notice a
number of important differences as well.
Ruler
Menu
Figure 2-1:
The Works
Word
Processor
at work.
Status bar
Editing window
Toolbars
Typing Text
331
The major controls include
✦ The menu: Familiar and functional, the menu system sports the usual
suspects.
✦ The toolbars: Far simpler than the system in Word, the Works Word
Processor has only two toolbars (Standard and Formatting). Click a toolbar button to perform the same task as the corresponding command on
the menu system. Unlike in Word, however, these buttons can’t be
added or removed, and these toolbars can’t be relocated. You can, however, toggle the display of large toolbar icons by choosing View➪
Toolbars➪Large Icons. (If the window is too small to display all the toolbar icons, click the small, double-arrow icon pointing to the right at the
end of a toolbar to choose from the buttons that didn’t fit.)
To make more room in the editing window, you can toggle the display of
the Standard or Formatting toolbars. Just choose View➪Toolbars and
then click a specific toolbar in the menu to toggle it off or on.
Each menu item that’s replicated on the toolbars carries the icon next
to it, so you can quickly locate the toolbar button that performs the
same action as a particular menu command.
✦ The editing window: This section of the window represents your virtual page, in which you type your text and add graphics and tables.
✦ The ruler: A very versatile control, the ruler can be used to set tabs,
margins, and indents . . . or, you can use it to gauge page dimensions.
(Go figure.)
✦ The status bar: You can use the Word Processor status bar to track your
current page number as well as to immediately tell the status of your
Caps Lock key, Num Lock key, and insert/overwrite mode.
Typing Text
By default, the Works Word Processor enters text in Insert mode, in which
new characters are inserted at the cursor point, pushing existing characters
to the right. You can also toggle into Overwrite mode by pressing the Insert
key; in Overwrite mode, new characters that you type overwrite any existing
characters.
Book IV
Chapter 2
Word Processing
in Works
In this program — as with any word processor — the insertion cursor (which
looks like a blinking bar) indicates where new text and graphics will appear.
You can relocate the insertion cursor by clicking the I-beam-shaped mouse
pointer in the desired spot; from the keyboard, use the movement keys provided in Table 2-1.
332
Selecting and Editing Text
Table 2-1
Movement Shortcut Keys in the Word Processor
Key
Movement
Left arrow (←)
Moves the cursor one character to the left
Right arrow (→)
Moves the cursor one character to the right
Up arrow (↑)
Moves the cursor to the preceding line
Down arrow (↓)
Moves the cursor to the next line
Ctrl+←
Moves the cursor one word to the left
Ctrl+→
Moves the cursor one word to the right
Ctrl+↑
Moves the cursor one paragraph up
Ctrl+↓
Moves the cursor one paragraph down
Page Up
Moves the cursor up one screen
Page Down
Moves the cursor down one screen
End
Moves the cursor to the end of the current line
Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line
Ctrl+Page Up
Moves the cursor to the top of the previous page
Ctrl+Page Down
Moves the cursor to the bottom of the current page
Ctrl+Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl+End
Moves the cursor to the end of the document
Selecting and Editing Text
You can use both the mouse and the keyboard to select text and graphics in
the Works Word Processor. With the mouse, click and drag the I-beam
cursor across the text (or graphics) to be edited or formatted. (You can also
automatically select a word under the I-beam cursor by double-clicking.)
Table 2-2 illustrates the keyboard commands for selecting text and graphics.
Table 2-2
Selection Shortcut Keys in the Word Processor
Key
Selection
Shift+←
Selects one character to the left of the cursor
Shift+→
Selects one character to the right of the cursor
Shift+↑
Selects characters to the previous line
Shift+↓
Selects characters to the next line
Shift+End
Selects characters to the end of the current line
Shift+Home
Selects characters to the beginning of the current line
Shift+Page Down
Selects characters to the next screen
Finding and Replacing Stuff
Key
333
Selection
Shift+Page Up
Selects characters to the previous screen
Ctrl+Shift+←
Selects characters to the beginning of the word
Ctrl+Shift+→
Selects characters to the end of the word
Ctrl+Shift+↑
Selects characters to the beginning of the current paragraph
Ctrl+Shift+↓
Selects characters to the end of the current paragraph
Ctrl+Shift+Home
Selects characters to the beginning of the document
Ctrl+Shift+End
Selects characters to the end of the document
To select a line of text, click anywhere to the left of the line outside the
margin. You can also select a large amount of text and graphics by using the
mouse and keyboard in unison. Click to place the insertion cursor at the
start of the material that you want to highlight and then hold down Shift
while clicking at the end of the material. The Word Processor selects everything in between.
To select the contents of the entire document from the menu system,
choose Edit➪Select All — but be careful of your next action because whatever you do affects the whole shootin’ match! (And don’t forget Ctrl+Z,
which is the Undo command; using this command reverses the last action
that you took.)
The editing keys shown in Table 2-3 are available after you select text or
graphics in the Word Processor editing window. Also, you can perform
actions from the toolbars or the menu system that will affect only the
selected text.
Table 2-3
Editing Shortcut Keys in the Word Processor
Function
Any character
Replaces the selected text
Delete
Deletes the selected text and graphics
Ctrl+X
Cuts the selection and places it on the Clipboard
Ctrl+C
Copies the selection to the Clipboard
Ctrl+V
Replaces the selection with the contents of the Clipboard
Finding and Replacing Stuff
Need to locate the only occurrence of unseen in a 20-page school report?
Then it’s time to put Find and Replace to work — and I show you how you
can quickly jump to any page in your document.
Book IV
Chapter 2
Word Processing
in Works
Key
334
Finding and Replacing Stuff
Follow these steps to use Find or Replace:
1. Choose Edit➪Replace or press Ctrl+H.
This displays the Find and Replace dialog box as shown in Figure 2-2,
with the Replace tab selected. (The Find dialog box has the same fields
but no Replace With text box.)
Figure 2-2:
The Find
and Replace
dialog
box —
an unsung
work of art.
2. In the Find What field, type the word or phrase that you need to
locate or change.
If you’ve searched for the same string earlier in this writing session, just
click the down-arrow next to the box and select that string from the
drop-down list.
3. Type the word or phrase that you want to substitute in the Replace
With field (or click the down-arrow and choose a Replace With value
that you’ve used earlier in this session).
If you need to search for a formatting character — such as a tab or paragraph mark — click the Special button and then click the desired special
character from the menu that appears.
4. Need to look further? Click the Find Next button to find the next
occurrence or click the Replace button to replace the next occurrence.
Alternatively, you can throw caution to the wind and click the Replace
All button to locate and replace all occurrences of the word or phrase.
(Just be careful and remember to use the Undo command from the Edit
menu to recover from a Find and Replace disaster!)
5. When you’re done, click the Cancel button.
To jump directly to a specific page in your document, click the Go To tab,
type the desired page number in the Enter Page Number field, and then click
the Go To button. You can also jump to different tables in your document
as well.
Formatting Fonts and Paragraphs
335
Formatting Fonts and Paragraphs
Like most other Windows applications, the Works Word Processor includes
the Big Three of text-formatting attributes:
✦ Bold: Press Ctrl+B or click the Bold button (B) on the Formatting toolbar to add emphasis to the selected text.
✦ Italic: Press Ctrl+I or click the Italic (I) button on the Formatting toolbar
to italicize the selected text.
✦ Underline: Press Ctrl+U or click the Underline (U) button on the
Formatting toolbar to underline the selected text.
To display the other text formatting options, select one or more characters
and then choose Format➪Font, which displays the settings that you see in
Figure 2-3:
✦ Font: Click the font name that you want to use or click the Font dropdown list box on the Formatting toolbar.
✦ Size: This box lists the size of the selected characters (in picas); select a
size from the list or type a specific size directly into the Size box.
✦ Color: Click the font Color drop-down list to choose a color. (Automatic,
which is the default, selects the best font color according to the background color of the printed page. Black is usually the best choice with
white, no?)
✦ Effects: Select any of the Effects check boxes to enable or disable that
attribute — the application displays the results in the Sample window.
Book IV
Chapter 2
Word Processing
in Works
Figure 2-3:
Need to
make a font
change?
You’re in the
right place.
336
Formatting Fonts and Paragraphs
To use paragraph formatting, click anywhere in a paragraph (or select the
entire paragraph) and then choose Format➪Paragraph to display the settings that you see in Figure 2-4:
✦ The indentation: You can use these settings to create custom indented
paragraphs — but there’s no need to use them to create bulleted or
numbered lists because you can create those automatically from the
toolbar. (More on this in a moment.)
✦ The alignment: Paragraphs can align to the left or right margin, or you
can choose to center them in the page. A paragraph can also be justified,
which stretches each full line in the paragraph from the left to the right
margin.
✦ The spacing: Click the Spacing tab to specify double spacing or to
choose a custom line spacing amount.
Figure 2-4:
Paragraph
formatting
is our
specialty.
You don’t have to select text first in order to use these formatting features in
the Works Word Processor. If no text or no paragraph is currently selected,
the Word Processor applies your font and paragraph changes to any new
text that you type at the current location of the insertion cursor.
The Works Word Processor also includes the Format Gallery (see Figure 2-5),
which you can display from the Formatting toolbar; alternatively, you can
choose Format➪Format Gallery. From the Gallery, you can
✦ Click the Format All tab to set the font formatting for your entire document. Click and drag the Font Set slider to choose a font family, and
click and drag the Color Set slider to choose a balanced color scheme.
✦ Click the Format Item tab to set the font formatting for the currently
selected text. Click the Font Set drop-down list button to choose a font
family; then click the font size from the list. Click the Color Set dropdown list button to select a color scheme.
Formatting Bullets and Numbered Lists
337
Figure 2-5:
Use the
Format
Gallery to
gussy up
your
documents.
Formatting Bullets and Numbered Lists
You can instantly format bulleted and numbered lists within the Word
Processor with a single click on the Formatting bar. But first, the more
lengthy (and customizable) method . . . just follow these steps:
1. Click anywhere within the desired paragraph.
2. Choose Format➪Bullets and Numbering to display the Bullets and
Numbering dialog box that you see in Figure 2-6.
3. Choose the list format that you want.
• Numbered list: For a numbered list, click the Numbered tab; you can
specify what type of numbering to use, the starting number, and the
indent values.
4. Click OK to apply the formatting.
Word Processing
in Works
• Bulleted list: On the Bulleted tab, click the type of bullet graphic
that you want to use. You can also change the default bullet indent
and specify a different indent for the bullet text.
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338
Adding Graphics
Figure 2-6:
Create a
custom
bulleted list
here.
These niceties are also available from the Formatting toolbar. Just click the
Numbering or the Bullets buttons on the Formatting toolbar to create numbered or bulleted lists with the default settings. You can also click the
Decrease Indent and Increase Indent buttons to alter the position of the text
by a tab stop.
Adding Graphics
What’s a document without graphics? Boring! To insert a picture or a clip art
image, click in the desired spot to move the insertion cursor to that point
and then use one of the following methods:
✦ Paste it from the Clipboard. Press Ctrl+V to paste a graphic from your
Windows Clipboard (check it out in Figure 2-7). Remember: You can
only paste items from the Clipboard after you’ve copied them to the
Clipboard by pressing Ctrl+C.
✦ Insert it from a file. If the graphic is stored on your hard drive, choose
Insert➪Picture➪From File. Word displays the Insert Picture dialog box,
complete with a Preview window (so that you can see what the file
1991pickup.jpg really is instead of guessing). Navigate to the location of
the image and click the filename once to preview it. When you’ve found
the perfect picture, click the Insert button.
✦ Insert a clip art image. Choose Insert➪Picture➪Clip Art to display the
Insert Clip Art dialog box shown in Figure 2-8. To locate clip art by a keyword, type a search word into the Type a Keyword text box (on the Find
tab) and then click the desired type of graphic in the Select a Media
Type list box. Click the Search button to display thumbnail images of
any matching clip art or photographs. To browse through the Works
Adding Graphics
339
clip art collection by category and subcategory, click the Browse tab.
Again, you can specify what type of media that you want to browse.
When you’ve located the artwork that you want to use, click the thumbnail and then click the Insert button.
Figure 2-7:
A pasted
graphic
inhabits a
Works Word
Processing
document.
Book IV
Chapter 2
Word Processing
in Works
Figure 2-8:
Need clip
art? It’s
right here!
340
Adding Tables
If a thumbnail for a clip art image has a tiny CD-ROM icon in the corner,
you’ll have to load your Microsoft Works CD-ROM in your PC’s drive to
insert that image.
Adding Tables
If you’re faced with the task of adding text in column format to your Works
document, consider using a table. The Works Word Processor includes a
number of predesigned table formats.
To add a table, follow these steps:
1. Click in the desired spot within your document.
2. Choose Table➪Insert Table to display the dialog box shown in
Figure 2-9.
Figure 2-9:
Construct a
sturdy table
for your
document.
3. Click within the Number of Rows and the Number of Columns text
boxes and then type the number of rows and columns, respectively,
that you need for your table.
4. If you need to specify a particular row height and column width, click
the up- and down-arrows next to the corresponding boxes to set the
dimensions in inches.
5. In the Select a Format list box, click the formatting that you’d like to
apply.
The program automatically updates the Example window to show you
how the finished table will appear.
6. Click OK to insert the table.
7. Click in each table cell and type the information for that cell.
Checking Your Spelling
341
Having trouble determining where to begin typing in a table cell? Click the
Show All button (looks like a big backward P) in the Standard toolbar or
choose View➪All Characters to toggle the display of paragraph and placeholder marks. Then click in front of the placeholder within each cell. (This is
also a good method of keeping track of those pesky paragraph marks, which
determine where a paragraph format begins and ends.)
Checking Your Spelling
I’ve yet to meet a person who can nail down every spelling monstrosity without flinching. (For example, consider the word anaerobic — and yes, I had to
check that.) Luckily, you can use the built-in spell checker within the Works
Word Processor to fix those embarrassing literary flubs before you print.
By default, the Word Processor underlines misspelled words with a wavy red
line while you type. Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t recognize a valid
word because that word isn’t in the program’s dictionary. You can fix the
spelling of these words on the spot. Just right-click the wavy-red-underlined
word, and the Word Processor displays a pop-up menu of likely spellings
from its dictionary, as shown in Figure 2-10. Click the correct spelling, and
the Word Processor automatically replaces it. (If the word is spelled correctly, you can add it to the program’s dictionary so that you won’t have to
correct it again; just click Add from the menu instead.)
Book IV
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Word Processing
in Works
Figure 2-10:
Fix a broken
word here.
342
Printing Your Documents
Every good writer turns to a thesaurus from time to time to revive a stagnant word. If you need a synonym for a word, select it and then press
Shift+F7 to display the Thesaurus dialog box that you see in Figure 2-11. If
you find the word that you need, click it in the list on the right and then
click the Replace button to automatically replace the selected word.
Figure 2-11:
What’s a
good
synonym for
synonymous,
anyway?
You can also correct your spelling in one fell swoop. If you have any underlined potential spelling errors, press F7 and you can view each potential
problem as well as any suggested spellings. (You can also add valid words to
the dictionary from here, too.)
Printing Your Documents
Before I bid adieu to the warm shores of the Works Word Processor, I should
discuss how to print your documents . . . unless, of course, you plan to only
admire them onscreen. (Not very likely.)
As a first step, choose File➪Print Preview; see how this looks in Figure 2-12.
This will show you how the document will appear when printed, giving you
the opportunity to correct any problems before you spend time, paper, and
toner (or ink). Click the Close button to exit Print Preview mode.
When you’re satisfied with the appearance of your document, you can print
by using any of these methods:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. Why wait? A
click of this toolbar button immediately prints the entire document with
the current settings.
✦ Click the Print button in the Print Preview window. Talk about convenient! This prints the document immediately with the current settings.
✦ Choose File➪Print. If you need to specify additional copies or limit the
print job to only certain pages, use this method (which displays the
Print dialog box). Here, you can also choose a target printer if you have
Printing Your Documents
343
multiple printers available or display the printer-specific options supported by the printer’s software driver (click the Properties button).
✦ Press Ctrl+P. This keyboard shortcut is an alternate method of displaying the Print dialog box.
You can also choose File➪Send (or click the Send button on the Standard
toolbar) to automatically create an e-mail message with the Works Word
Processor document attached. Neat!
Figure 2-12:
Check your
document
before you
print.
Book IV
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Word Processing
in Works
344
Book IV: Microsoft Works
Chapter 3: Working
with Spreadsheets
In This Chapter
Starting the Works Spreadsheet
Touring the Spreadsheet window
Selecting and editing text
Formatting cells, rows, and columns
Inserting and deleting rows and columns
Using Easy Calc
Adding a chart
Printing your spreadsheet
O
h, heavens, it’s a spreadsheet. That immediately means that it’s complex, right? For once, you’ve met a spreadsheet application that breaks
the mold: The Works Spreadsheet is the easiest application that I’ve ever
used for such things as arranging numbers, forecasting important numeric
trends, and taking care of a household budget. And unlike Excel — which
many folks find just too doggone powerful and too confusing — the Works
Spreadsheet application is specifically designed with the home PC owner
in mind.
In this chapter, I provide you with the explanations and procedures that you
need to begin using the Spreadsheet program. You discover how to enter,
select, and edit data; how to format that data to fit your needs; and how to
create formulas the easy way. You also see how to create a chart as well as
how to print your Spreadsheet documents. When you combine these building blocks with the task-oriented Spreadsheet projects found in the Works
Task Launcher, you can proudly proclaim to all, “I’m the master of my
spreadsheet!”
Running the Spreadsheet
To begin using the Works Spreadsheet application, use one of these methods to start the program:
346
Introducing the Spreadsheet Window
✦ Double-click the Works shortcut on your desktop to run the Task
Launcher and then click the Spreadsheet icon at the top of the screen.
✦ Double-click a Works Spreadsheet document in Windows Explorer or on
your desktop.
✦ Choose Start (or press a Windows key) and then choose
Programs➪Microsoft Works➪Microsoft Works Spreadsheet. (The
Windows keys bear the waving Windows flags and are located on either
side of your spacebar, if your keyboard is so equipped.)
Introducing the Spreadsheet Window
Figure 3-1 illustrates the Spreadsheet window, which will be familiar territory to you if you’ve used Microsoft Excel.
Row
header
button
Column
header
button
Menu
Toolbar
Figure 3-1:
The Works
Spreadsheet
main
window.
Zoom control
Editing window
Status bar
A Word about Works Spreadsheets
347
The highlights of the window include
✦ The menu: The Spreadsheet program sports the standard commands
that you know (and I explain many in this chapter).
✦ The toolbar: Only one toolbar is necessary in this Works application. A
click of a toolbar button works the same as selecting the corresponding
item from the menu system. (To make more room for cells in the editing
window, you can choose View➪Toolbar➪Show Toolbar to hide the toolbar.) The Spreadsheet toolbar is static and can’t be customized or
removed, but you can display a larger set of toolbar icons by choosing
View➪Toolbars➪Large Icons. (If the program displays a small doublearrow icon at the end of the toolbar, the window is too small to display
all the buttons — just click the double-arrow icon to select one of the
extra buttons.)
To display a pop-up description of a toolbar button, hover your mouse
pointer over it for a second, and its name will pop up.
✦ The editing window: The Spreadsheet editing window contains the
cells that are familiar to anyone who’s ever worked with a spreadsheet
application. Here you type numbers, text, graphics, charts, and formulas into these cells.
✦ The row and column header buttons: You can click these buttons to
select an entire row or column at one time, and they come in handy
when you need to adjust the dimensions of a row or column. (I mention
more about the buttons later in the chapter.)
✦ The Zoom control: Click the plus or minus buttons next to the Zoom
box (located in the far lower-left of the window) to magnify or shrink
the view in the editing window. (Zooming out is a great way to see more
of your spreadsheet at once.)
✦ The status bar: The Spreadsheet status bar contains information about
the possible commands that you can choose (depending on what’s
selected) as well as the status of your Caps Lock key, Num Lock key, and
insert/overwrite mode.
Although the Works Spreadsheet loads and saves files in its own Works 7.0
format (which ends with the .xlr extension), Microsoft has included support for Excel files as well. To load an Excel file, follow these steps:
1. Choose File➪Open (or press Ctrl+O) to display a standard Open
dialog box.
2. Click the Files of Type drop-down list and then choose Excel SS
(*.xl*).
Working with
Spreadsheets
A Word about Works Spreadsheets
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Navigating the Spreadsheet and Entering Data
3. Navigate to the location of the Excel file and then double-click it to
open it.
Because Excel is a much more powerful program, however, the Works
Spreadsheet isn’t able to support a number of Excel features. The list of
unsupported features includes
✦ Cell comments.
✦ Data validation.
✦ PivotTables. (They’re converted to simple data.)
✦ Charts. (They must be re-created by using the Works Spreadsheet charting commands.)
✦ Images and pictures. (Works Spreadsheet doesn’t support images or
pictures.)
Works also cannot handle rows beyond 16,384 or more than 2,047 characters in a cell.
If you’ve protected any cells in a worksheet — or the entire worksheet itself —
that protection must be removed in Excel before you can open the file in the
Works Spreadsheet. (For more information on Excel worksheets, visit Book V,
Chapter 3.)
Navigating the Spreadsheet and Entering Data
You can use the scroll bars to move around in your spreadsheet, but when
you’re entering data into cells, moving your fingers from the keyboard is a
hassle. (The same is true of just about any program that uses the keyboard
to enter data, including the Works Word Processor and the Works Database.)
For this reason, the Spreadsheet has a number of movement shortcut keys
that you can use to navigate, and I provide them in Table 3-1. If you commit
these to memory, your productivity will shoot straight to the top.
Table 3-1
Key
Movement Shortcut Keys in the Works Spreadsheet
Movement
Left arrow (←)
Moves the cursor one cell to the left
Right arrow (→)
Moves the cursor one cell to the right
Up arrow (↑)
Moves the cursor one cell up
Down arrow (↓)
Moves the cursor one cell down
Selecting and Editing Cells
349
Key
Movement
Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current row
Ctrl+Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the active worksheet
Ctrl+End
Moves the cursor to the last cell in the worksheet with a value
Page Down
Moves down one screen
Page Up
Moves up one screen
Enter
Moves the cursor one cell down (also works within a selection)
Tab
Moves the cursor one cell to the right (also works within a
selection)
Shift+Enter
Moves the cursor one cell up (also works within a selection)
Shift+Tab
Moves the cursor one cell to the left (also works within a
selection)
Ctrl+arrow key
Moves the cursor to the corresponding edge of any range
containing data
After you navigate to the right cell and you want to enter data, either click it
with the mouse, press the spacebar, or press F2 and then begin typing.
When you’re ready to move on, press Enter (to save the data and move one
cell down) or press Tab (to save the data and move one cell to the right).
Selecting and Editing Cells
Often, you’ll want to perform a function on more than one cell at a time —
for example, if you’re formatting the contents with the Bold attribute. In this
section, I show you how to select multiple cells and how to edit the contents
of a cell.
You can use the mouse to select cells in the Works Spreadsheet:
✦ To select a single cell, click it.
✦ To select a range of multiple adjacent cells, click a cell at any corner of
the desired cells and then drag the mouse in the desired direction.
✦ To select a row of cells, click the numeric heading button at the left of
the row.
To use the keyboard to select cells, employ the shortcuts in Table 3-2.
Working with
Spreadsheets
✦ To select a column of cells, click the alphabetic heading button at the
top of the column.
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Formatting a Cell, Row, or Column
Table 3-2
Cell Selection Shortcut Keys in the Works Spreadsheet
Key
Selection
Ctrl+A
Selects all cells in a worksheet
Shift+←
Selects one cell or column to the left (depending on the current
selection)
Shift+→
Selects one cell or column to the right (depending on the current
selection)
Shift+↑
Selects one cell or row above (depending on the current selection)
Shift+↓
Selects one cell or row below (depending on the current selection)
Finally, let me discuss editing the existing contents of a cell. By using the
mouse, you can double-click a cell to edit it and then click and drag to select
characters. From the keyboard, select the cell, press F2 to edit it, and then
use the shortcuts shown in Table 3-3 to select and edit the contents.
Table 3-3
Cell Selection and Editing Shortcut Keys in the Works Spreadsheet
Key
Selection
Shift+←
Selects one character to the left of the cursor
Shift+→
Selects one character to the right of the cursor
Shift+End
Selects characters to the end of the text
Shift+Home
Selects characters to the beginning of the text
Any character
Replaces the selected text
Alt+Enter
Starts a new line within the same cell
Delete
Deletes the selected text or the character to the right of the
insertion cursor
Ctrl+X
Cuts the selection and places it in the Clipboard
Ctrl+C
Copies the selection to the Clipboard
Ctrl+V
Replaces the selection with the contents of the Clipboard
Esc
Cancels the edits made to a cell
Formatting a Cell, Row, or Column
After your data has been entered into a cell, row, or column, you still might
need to format it. The Works Spreadsheet gives you a healthy selection of
formatting possibilities. In this section, I discuss each one.
Formatting a Cell, Row, or Column
351
Choosing a number format
Number formatting determines how a cell displays a number, such as a dollar
amount, a percent, or a date. (Actually, the number format also controls the
appearance of numbers used as text values in certain cases, like when you
use Text and True/False.) Things such as decimal places, commas, and
dollar/percentage notation are included in number formatting.
To specify a number format, follow these steps:
1. Select the cell, row, or column that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Number.
Alternatively, you can right-click the selected cell, row, or column and
then click Format from the pop-up menu that appears. Works Spreadsheet
displays the Format Cells dialog box that you see in Figure 3-2.
Figure 3-2:
Format
numbers
here.
3. Click the type of formatting that you want to apply.
4. Click OK to apply the formatting.
Changing cell alignment
You can also change the horizontal and vertical alignment of text and numbers in the selected cells. (The default alignment for text is flush left; the
default alignment for numbers is flush right.) Follow these steps:
Working with
Spreadsheets
The program displays the settings for that type; each type of formatting
includes different options. You’ll also see a sample window that shows
you how the selected formatting will look within the selected cells. The
default number formatting is the General format.
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Formatting a Cell, Row, or Column
1. Select the cell, row, or column that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Alignment to display the Alignment tab of the
Format Cells dialog box.
3. Click the desired horizontal position and vertical position within the
cells.
4. To prevent Works Spreadsheet from wrapping text values that don’t
fit on a single line, select the Wrap Text within a Cell check box to
disable it.
5. Click OK to apply the formatting.
Changing the text formatting
Need to set apart the contents of some cells? For example, you might need
to create text headings for some columns and rows or to highlight the totals
in a spreadsheet. Follow these steps to change the formatting of the text displayed within selected cells:
1. Select the cell, row, or column that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Font to display the Font tab of the Format Cells
dialog box.
3. From the Select Font list, click the font that you want to use and then
click the style that you want to apply.
You can also apply the bold, italic, or underline attributes to selected
cells from the toolbar.
4. Click the desired size (in picas) in the list or click in the Size box and
then type the desired size.
5. Choose a font color or leave the field set to Automatic, which tells the
program to change it as necessary.
6. If you need underlining or strikethrough formatting, enable the corresponding check box.
7. If you want to use this formatting scheme as your default formatting
throughout the document, click the Set as Default button.
8. Click OK to apply the formatting.
Formatting the borders
You can also add special formatting to the borders surrounding a cell, a row,
or a column; again, this is a great trick to use when something needs to
stand out. To format the borders of cells, rows, or columns, follow these
steps:
Formatting a Cell, Row, or Column
353
1. Select the cell, row, or column that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Border to display the Border tab of the Format Cells
dialog box.
3. Click to select a border color from the scrolling list (or use Automatic
to have the program choose a contrasting color).
4. Click the desired Line Type.
5. Click the Border Location buttons to specify no border, a standard
outline border, or an inside grid.
6. To design a custom border, click the Border Location buttons.
The results are shown in the sample window. (A cell can contain two
separate text areas.)
7. Click OK to apply the formatting.
Choosing shading options
Shading the contents of a cell, row, or column is helpful when your spreadsheet contains subtotals or logical divisions. Follow these steps to select the
shading or pattern for the selected cells:
1. Select the cell, row, or column that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Shading to display the Shading tab of the Format
Cells dialog box.
3. Click the desired shading color from the Select Color list (or use
Automatic to have the program choose a contrasting color).
4. Click the desired color for any pattern that you want to apply (or
use Automatic and let Spreadsheet do the work).
5. Click to select a pattern from the Pattern list and admire your
handiwork in the Preview window.
6. When you’ve achieved the right effect, click OK to apply the
formatting.
Working with
Spreadsheets
To choose a predesigned formatting scheme for a range of cells equal to or
less than 100 cells x 100 cells, choose Format➪AutoFormat to display the
dialog box that you see in Figure 3-3. Choose the desired format from the list
at the left and then specify whether the selected range contains column/row
headers and column/row totals. (The Preview window displays the formatting scheme at work.) When you like what you see, click OK.
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Inserting and Deleting Rows and Columns
Figure 3-3:
Put
AutoFormat
to work.
Inserting and Deleting Rows and Columns
What’s that? You forgot to add a row, and now you’re three pages into your
data entry? No problem. It’s easy to add (or delete) rows (or columns).
Really — it is! First, select the row or column for the insert or delete operation. (If you insert, the new row or column appears in front of the selected
row or column.) Right-click the selected row and then select either the Insert
Row or the Delete Row radio button. Or you can right-click the selected
column and then choose Insert Column or Delete Column from the pop-up
menu that appears.
Remember, you can also take care of such business from the Insert menu.
(Personally, I like to right-click.)
Using Easy Calc
Sorry, but it’s time to talk about formulas. These equations calculate values
based on the contents of cells that you specify in your spreadsheet. For
example, if you designate cell A1 (the cell at column A by row 1) to hold
your yearly salary and cell B1 to hold the number 12, you can divide the
contents of cell A1 by cell B1 with this formula
=A1/B1
to give you your monthly salary. By the way, formulas in the Works
Spreadsheet always start with an equal sign (=).
Using Easy Calc
355
“So what’s the big deal, Mark? Why not use a calculator?” Sure, but what if
you wanted to calculate your weekly salary? Instead of grabbing a pencil and
paper, you can simply change the contents of cell B1 to 52, and boom! — the
spreadsheet is updated to display your weekly salary.
That’s a simple example, of course, but it demonstrates the basis of using
formulas (and why spreadsheets are often used to predict trends and forecast things such as budgets). However, building those formulas can be a real
pain, and that’s why Microsoft wisely chose to add a friendly wizard called
Easy Calc to the Works Spreadsheet. To use Easy Calc to generate a formula,
follow these steps:
1. Choose Tools➪Easy Calc or click the Easy Calc button on the toolbar
(looks like a little calculator).
The first screen of the wizard appears, as shown in Figure 3-4.
Figure 3-4:
Starting the
Easy Calc
wizard.
2. Click the operation that you want to perform (functions).
By default, Easy Calc only shows five of the most basic functions, but
you can choose from a huge list of other functions (arranged by category) if you click the Other button. After you choose the function for
the formula, click Next to continue.
the individual cells (or drag the mouse to highlight a group of cells)
that will be used in the calculation.
Alternatively, you can type in the cell numbers in the Range box, separated by either commas or colons. Easy Calc displays the formula in the
box at the bottom of the dialog box.
Working with
Spreadsheets
3. On the second wizard screen (see Figure 3-5), you’re asked to click
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Using Easy Calc
Note: The fields that you see here vary depending on the type of function that you select. For example, if you’re adding numbers, there’s only
one Range box, but there are separate boxes for the Numerator and
Denominator if you’re dividing numbers. Click Next to continue.
Figure 3-5:
Select the
cells to use
in the
calculation.
4. Click the cell in your spreadsheet where the result of the calculation
will display (as shown in Figure 3-6) or type the cell reference (like
A1 or F3) into the Result At box.
Figure 3-6:
Choose a
cell to
display the
result.
5. Click Finish to create the formula and copy it to the result cell.
Instead of displaying the formula, the cell that holds the formula displays the result of the calculation. If you want to edit or delete the formula, click the result cell, and the formula is displayed (and can be
edited) from the toolbar.
Adding a Chart
357
Adding a Chart
Sometimes, you just have to see something to believe it — hence the ability
to use the data that you add to a spreadsheet to generate a chart. Follow
these steps to create a chart:
1. Select the cells that you want to chart (including any column or row
labels that you might have created).
2. Choose Tools➪Create New Chart or click the New Chart button on the
toolbar (looks like a bar graph).
The program displays the dialog box that you see in Figure 3-7.
Figure 3-7:
Generating
a chart is a
snap.
3. Click the thumbnail representing the type of chart that you want to
create.
The Preview window is updated to illustrate how the finished chart will
look.
enable it. To display gridlines on the finished chart, select the Show
Gridlines check box to enable it.
6. To display the additional settings that many of the chart types have,
click the Advanced Options tab (see Figure 3-8) and change them as
necessary.
Working with
Spreadsheets
4. Type a new title for your chart in the Chart Title text box.
5. If you’d like to add a border, select the Show Border check box to
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Printing Your Documents
Figure 3-8:
Set
advanced
options for a
chart here.
7. Ready to go? Then click OK, and the Works Spreadsheet displays the
chart.
You can switch back to the spreadsheet view by choosing
View➪Spreadsheet; likewise, you can display the chart again by
choosing View➪Chart.
Each Works Spreadsheet document can have several charts, and they’re
saved with the Spreadsheet document. To delete or rename a chart, click
the Tools menu and then click Delete Chart or Rename Chart.
Printing Your Documents
It’s time to put your spreadsheets on paper! But first, choose File➪Print
Preview (or click the Print Preview button on the toolbar) to see exactly
how your printed data will look. If you’re not satisfied, you can click Close
and make any edits or formatting changes before you print.
You can use any of these methods to print a Works Spreadsheet document:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. If you don’t
need to make any changes to your printer settings, click this toolbar
button to immediately print the entire document.
✦ Click the Print button in the Print Preview window. Clicking this
button also prints the document immediately with the current settings.
Printing Your Documents
359
✦ Choose File➪Print. Choose this method if you want to change any settings on the Print dialog box, like the number of copies. Click the
Properties button to set printer options that are provided by the manufacturer’s software driver.
✦ Press Ctrl+P. Pressing this keyboard shortcut also displays the Print
dialog box.
Choose File➪Send to automatically create an e-mail message and attach the
open Works Spreadsheet document. (This is a good timesaver if you mail
your documents on a regular basis.)
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Working with
Spreadsheets
360
Book IV: Microsoft Works
Chapter 4: Using the Works
Calendar
In This Chapter
Running the Works Calendar
Introducing the Calendar window
Selecting a view
Adding and editing appointments
Finding a specific appointment
Filtering appointments and events
Exporting appointments
Printing your Calendar
I
s your daily schedule kept somewhere within a heap of sticky notes, napkins, and business cards? I used to be even worse — I tried to keep much
of my busy schedule in my head, including both my personal and business
appointments. That included everything from media interviews to soccer
practice dates . . . and somewhere along the way, I was constantly forgetting
something important. (Usually a birthday or a lunch date — you know, the
so-called secondary events that seem to embarrass you so badly when you
forget ’em.)
If you’ve begun to use the other applications in Microsoft Works, don’t sell
the Works Calendar short. If you take the time to enter your appointments,
recurring events, and dates (such as anniversaries and birthdays), you’ll be
able to view, search through, and print your upcoming schedule on a
monthly, weekly, or daily basis. It makes all the difference in the world!
In this chapter, I take you on an excursion through the Calendar, and you
discover how to use it to organize — and finally master — your schedule.
362
Checking Out the Calendar
Checking Out the Calendar
You can run the Works Calendar in either of two ways:
✦ Double-click the Works shortcut on your desktop to run the Task
Launcher and then click the Calendar icon at the top of the screen.
✦ Choose Start (or press a Windows key) and then choose
Programs➪Microsoft Works➪Microsoft Works Calendar. (The Windows
keys look like the waving Windows flag and are located on either side of
the spacebar, if your keyboard is so equipped.)
Cast your eye upon Figure 4-1, and you’ll see the Works Calendar in action.
Menu
Toolbar
Figure 4-1:
The Works
Calendar
main
window,
displaying
the Day
view.
Category filter
Editing window
The highlights of the window include
✦ The menu: See your old friend, the menu bar — somewhat shorter in
this application but still as useful as ever.
Selecting a Calendar View
363
✦ The toolbar: Calendar displays only one toolbar; clicking a toolbar button
has the same effect as choosing the corresponding menu item from the
menu system. To hide the toolbar and make more room for the editing
window, choose View➪Toolbar➪Show Toolbar; you can also choose
View➪Toolbars➪Large Icons to display a larger set of toolbar icons.
✦ The editing window: Works Calendar always has some type of calendar
view visible in the editing window, allowing you to add, view, or edit
appointments.
✦ The Category Filter: This panel allows you to specify which appointment categories are shown and which are hidden. (More on this in a
moment.) You can display or hide the Category Filter by clicking the
Category Filter toolbar button (to the immediate left of the Help question mark button) or by choosing View➪Show Category Filter.
Selecting a Calendar View
The Calendar offers three different views. You can zero in on a single day
(refer to Figure 4-1), display an entire week’s appointments (as shown in
Figure 4-2), or zoom out to view a month’s calendar at a time (check it out
in Figure 4-3).
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Using the Works
Calendar
Figure 4-2:
It looks like
a busy week
in Works
Calendar.
364
Selecting a Calendar View
To change the view, you can either
✦ Click one of the three view buttons on the Calendar toolbar.
✦ Choose View and then choose Day or Week or Month.
✦ Press Alt+1 for the Day view, Alt+– (minus sign) for the Week view, or
Alt+= (equal sign) for the Month view.
To move between days, weeks, or months, click the Previous and Next buttons on either side of the date display, and they change to match the view
that you’re using.
No matter where you wander in the past or future, you can always jump
immediately to today’s date. Just click the Go to Today button on the toolbar. It’s the key to time travel.
Go to Today
Figure 4-3:
How can a
month go by
so fast?
Day, Week, and Month view buttons
Adding and Editing Appointments
365
Adding and Editing Appointments
Of course, the heart of the Works Calendar is the appointments that you set.
After all, without appointments and events, you might as well stick with a
paper calendar thumb-tacked to the wall of your cubicle!
To set up an appointment, follow these steps:
1. Double-click the date (or, in the Day view, the time) when the appointment will begin.
Alternatively, you can click to select a time or date and then click New
Appointment on the toolbar, or choose File➪New Appointment, or even
press Ctrl+N.
Calendar displays the New Appointment dialog box that you see in
Figure 4-4.
Figure 4-4:
Add a new
appointment
here.
2. Type a title for the appointment (or, if you’ve already entered
appointments earlier in this Calendar session, click the drop-down list
box to choose a previously entered title) and then press Tab.
to choose a location that you’ve already used.
4. If you want to add a category, click the Change button, select one or
more category check boxes to enable them, and then click OK to save
them.
Although choosing a category is not required, I show you later in this
chapter how categories help you when searching through and viewing
appointments.
Using the Works
Calendar
3. Type a location (if necessary) or click the Location drop-down list box
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Adding and Editing Appointments
5. By default, the appointment starts at the time slot that you doubleclick (or select). However, you can click the Appointment Starts and
Appointment Ends drop-down list boxes to set the time and date for
the beginning and end of the appointment.
If you select the All-Day Event check box, the time list boxes disappear.
6. For appointments that reoccur at the same time slot, select the Make
This Appointment Repeat check box to enable it and then click the
Recurrence button to display the Recurrence Options dialog box that
you see in Figure 4-5.
Figure 4-5:
Set options
for a
recurring
appointment
here.
7. Set the date, range, and time options as needed and then click OK to
return to the New Appointment dialog box.
8. To set a reminder that will alert you at a specified time before the
appointment, click the Reminder drop-down list box and select the
time that the reminder should appear before the appointment is
scheduled.
9. You can jot down any notes about this appointment in the Reminder
box; just click in the box and type your notes.
10. When all is set how you like, click OK to save the appointment, which
now appears in your Calendar.
Note that if a reminder has been set, the Calendar application displays a
bell icon next to the appointment title.
You can easily edit an upcoming appointment. Just double-click the appointment title to display the Edit Appointment dialog box, which is exactly like
Searching for Specific Appointments
367
the New Appointment dialog box (except for the dialog box title, of course).
Anyway, make any changes to the appointment that you need and then click
OK. If you’ve changed the day or date, the Works Calendar automatically
moves it to its new position in your schedule.
To delete an appointment, right-click the appointment or event title and
then choose Delete Item from the pop-up menu that appears.
Searching for Specific Appointments
Need to know precisely when you last attended a meeting or to locate a certain reminder or note that you made to yourself? No problem — Works
Calendar allows you to find appointments based on three criteria:
✦ A keyword in the title or notes
✦ The time that the appointment begins or ends
✦ The category that you assigned to your appointments
Follow these steps to find specific appointments:
1. Click the Find button on the toolbar (look for the little binoculars) or
choose Edit➪Find.
You can also press Ctrl+F. Calendar displays the Find dialog box that
you see in Figure 4-6.
Figure 4-6:
Searching
for an
appointment
in a
haystack.
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For example, you can enter a word or phrase for a keyword search or
you can select the appointment’s beginning or end and the time period
for a time search.
Using the Works
Calendar
2. Click the desired tab to select the type of search.
3. Enter the specific criteria.
368
Filtering Appointments
4. Click the Find Now button.
Calendar displays any matching appointments in a list at the bottom
(see the results in Figure 4-7).
You can double-click any of the matching appointments to edit them, or
you can delete an appointment by selecting it from the list and then
clicking the Delete Item button.
5. To begin a new search, click the New Search button. Or, if you’ve
found what you need, click the Close button of the Find dialog box to
return to the Calendar main window.
Figure 4-7:
Eureka! I’ve
found it!
Filtering Appointments
The appointment categories that you select in Calendar can help you selectively filter (or hide) some types of appointments and events from view. This
comes in especially handy if you’ve added both business and personal
appointments and you want to concentrate on one or the other, or if you’d
like to hide recurring events such as birthdays and anniversaries. (But don’t
forget to turn that particular filter off . . . take it from someone with a bad
memory for birthdays.)
To filter one or more categories from view, click the Category Filter button
on the toolbar or choose View➪Show Category Filter. To clear them, select
Exporting Appointments
369
the check boxes of any appointment categories that you don’t want to see,
and the appointments and events that were assigned to those categories
will be hidden.
To close the Category Filter until you need it again, click the Category Filter
toolbar button again.
Exporting Appointments
After you take the trouble to organize your Calendar, that data can become
pretty doggone important to you. This is yet another reason to back up your
PC on a regular basis, but I cover that elsewhere in the book. (And I tend to
nag readers about backups. Like you haven’t noticed.)
Works Calendar gives you the ability to export your calendar information for
use in other programs or for transfer to your palm PC or personal digital
assistant (PDA). Of course, this only creates a copy of that data; the original
data remains safely where you want it, in your Works Calendar data file.
To export data, follow these steps:
1. Choose File➪Export and then choose one of the three types of export
data. The three types are
• vCalendar: vCalendar files use a standard file format recognized by
most Personal Information Manager (PIM) programs (like Microsoft
Outlook) and many PDA calendar programs. You can select the starting and ending date for your calendar data, and you can also choose
to include only filtered appointments or all appointments and
events. By using vCalendar files, you can easily “trade and collect”
appointment schedules with co-workers. After all, knowing when
your boss is attending that meeting with your presentation is A
Good Thing.
• HTML: Awesome! Choose this option to create a HyperText Markup
Language (HTML) file in one of three formats: a Day list, a Week list,
or a Month list (see Figure 4-8). You can specify the start date and
time as well as the ending date and time. Calendar also allows you to
include only your current appointments (as displayed by using the
Category Filter) or all appointments. You can optionally add details
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Calendar
You might have already used the equivalent business-card data file,
called a vCard, to transfer contact information between programs or
computers. vCalendar files use the .vcs extension. From within
Microsoft Outlook, you can choose File➪Import and Export to
export them from your Works Calendar.
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Exporting Appointments
of the appointment; otherwise, Calendar includes only the appointment title. After you export your calendar as an HTML file, you can
add it as a separate page to your company intranet or even to your
public Web site. This is a great trick if you maintain a club or organization’s Web site . . . post an up-to-date calendar of club events!
Figure 4-8:
Create a
Web page
from your
Calendar
data.
• Tab-Delimited: As old programmer curmudgeons like myself always
say, “If you can’t beat ’em, use tab-delimited.” This option creates a
simple text file with your appointment data arranged in tabbed
format. It’s a pain to import (because you have to manually specify
what information is in what column before it can be imported), but
tab-delimited data is practically a universally recognized standard
(even in other types of programs, like Excel). Bottom line: If the destination application or computer doesn’t support vCalendar, you’ll
have to use tab-delimited. On the bright side, you can select the starting and ending date for your Calendar data, and you can choose to
include only filtered appointments or all appointments and events.
2. Enter the desired settings for the file format you chose (as I mention
earlier) and then click OK.
After a bit o’ churning, Works displays a standard Windows Save As
dialog box.
3. In the Save As dialog box, navigate to the location where you want to
store the file, type a descriptive name in the File Name text box, and
then click Save to create the file.
To tackle the other side of the coin — that is, to import vCalendar data from
another program — choose File➪Import.
Printing Appointments
371
Printing Appointments
What would a PC-based calendar be without the ability to print your
appointments and events? Would you use it to organize your schedule? (I
can guarantee you that I wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial ten-foot, polelike object.)
With Works Calendar, you can choose any of these methods to print your
calendar:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. This displays
the Print dialog box, as shown in Figure 4-9, from which you can choose
which style of hard copy you need, the time and date range to include,
and whether the printed document should cover all your appointments
and events or only those currently displayed in the Category Filter.
Figure 4-9:
The Works
Calendar
Print dialog
box.
✦ Choose File➪Print. Again, this displays the Print dialog box.
✦ Press Ctrl+P. You get one guess. . . .
Using the Works
Calendar
Unlike other Works applications, Works Calendar doesn’t include a Print
Preview function, and you can’t specify multiple copies or change any
printer-specific options.
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Book IV: Microsoft Works
Chapter 5: Having Fun
with Works Database
In This Chapter
Running Works Database
Creating and opening a database
Entering new data
Editing a database
Sorting or searching your database
Building reports
Printing database documents
I
have fun with Works Database all the time. No, really!
Mind you, not the straight-laced, business-oriented, ho-hum inventory database or the dry customer database of a home business — although those
are great examples of the versatility and value of a well-maintained database
in the business world. (Think of a database as a collection of different pieces
of information that you can search and arrange as you like.) No, my databases are very personal: I use them to track my audio CD collection, and
they help me keep tabs on my stacks of DVD movies. I even have a database
that’s dedicated to all three seasons of Batman TV episodes! (For a look at
my Bat-fanaticism, check out The Original BatCave at http://batcave.
mlcbooks.com — it’s a hoot.)
Even if Bat-Databases (Zowie!) aren’t your thing, in this chapter, I show you
how to put Works Database to work for you — handling whatever type of
data you need to store, search, edit, and display. You discover how to generate reports, how to search and sort your data records, and how to edit an
existing record to update or correct it. Create your own data warehouse.
And if you value your data, you’ll have fun (when it’s all typed in, that is).
374
Getting Started with Works Database
Getting Started with Works Database
Works allows you two methods of starting the Works Database application:
✦ Double-click the Works shortcut on your desktop to run the Task
Launcher and then click the Database icon at the top of the screen.
✦ Click Start (or press a Windows key) and then choose Programs➪
Microsoft Works➪Microsoft Works Database. (The two Windows keys,
if your keyboard is so blessed, look like the waving Windows flag and
are located on the same row as the spacebar.)
Whoops! What’s this dialog box mean?
Hey, wait a second! Unlike the other applications in the Works suite, the
Database doesn’t open its main window when you first run the program.
That’s because the Works Database really doesn’t have a single main
window! Instead, the starting point for a Database session is the dialog box
that you see in Figure 5-1, which has only three options:
✦ Blank Database: Select this radio button if you want to create a brand
new database by defining each field . . . in other words, you’re building
things from the ground up. If you choose a blank database, you’ll be
ushered into the Database window that I discuss in the next section.
✦ Template: When you choose this option, the Works Task Launcher is
loaded (if it’s not already running), and you see a list of the predesigned
Database task templates, like Home Inventory worksheets and recipe
books. Click a task in the list on the left and then click Start This Task.
(You can either use the database as is or tweak it by editing it later.)
✦ Open an Existing Database: If you’ve already built a database and you
want to edit the data that it contains, add new records, or print it,
choose this option. The Database application displays a standard Open
dialog box that you can use to locate and load your database file. (By
the way, a Works Database file ends with the extension .wdb.)
In database-speak, a field is a value — such as your last name, age, or your
blood type. A record, on the other hand, is a complete group of fields that
describe one person, place, or thing. Thus, your record might contain your last
name, age, blood type, and telephone number. The next person in the database
has a unique record as well, composed of the same fields as your record.
Elements of the Works Database window
Although Works Database doesn’t really have a single main window, it does
have a window that you’ll use when creating a new database, editing existing data, or entering new data. Figure 5-2 illustrates this Database window.
Getting Started with Works Database
375
Figure 5-1:
Shall we
run, pass, or
kick?
The controls on this window include
✦ The menu: Here lies the standard Works menu system, with a new menu
family — the Record menu — added for good measure. (More on this
menu in a bit.)
✦ The toolbar: Like Works Calendar, Database has only one toolbar, and
you can click a toolbar button to perform the same action as the corresponding menu item on the menu system. Choose View➪Toolbar to
hide the toolbar and expand the editing window; choose this menu item
again to display the toolbar. You can customize the buttons on the
Database toolbar by choosing Tools➪Customize Toolbar.
✦ The editing window: In Works Database, the editing window displays
the data values within each record and allows you to edit them.
✦ The records: This list of records in the database appears only in List
view (choose View➪List or click the List View button on the toolbar).
(Find this button to the immediate right of the Underline button.) Each
row represents a single record.
✦ The status bar: The status bar provides context-sensitive help and also
displays the status of your Num Lock and Caps Lock keys; it also shows
information while you’re in different modes (like the word EDIT when
you’re editing data in a record).
You can also toggle off the Spreadsheet-style gridlines in List view. If they
offend your eye, choose View➪Gridlines to toggle them off.
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Having Fun with
Works Database
✦ The Zoom control: Like the Zoom control in the Works Spreadsheet,
you can click the plus or minus Zoom buttons (far-bottom left) to magnify or shrink the view. I often zoom out with the minus key to 75%,
which allows me to pack more records on the screen without losing
too much legibility.
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Creating a Database and Entering Data
Database
Record
check boxes
Field box
Menu
Toolbar
Figure 5-2:
The
Database
List view
window.
Zoom control
Editing window
Status bar
Creating a Database and Entering Data
If you elect to start a new blank database, you’re met at the door with the
Create Database wizard dialog box that you see in Figure 5-3.
Follow these steps to create your new datahouse:
1. Type a name in the Field Name box.
I always use something descriptive, such as Last Name or Salvos Fired (for
that database that I created to keep track of my Battleship winnings).
Creating a Database and Entering Data
377
Figure 5-3:
Works
Database
starts
asking
questions.
2. Select the radio button for the format that you prefer.
Works Database uses your choice to format a data value and might also
use it for basic error checking (like if you try to type the letter A into a
Date field).
3. Select the proper appearance of the data format from the
Appearance list.
This is how you want your data to display onscreen and when it’s
printed out. For example, if you select the Time format, you can choose
to display either hour:minutes or hour:minutes:seconds, or you can go
completely hog-wild and choose military (24-hour) time. (Note: Some
formats offer fewer options . . . or, in the case of the General format,
you see no options at all.)
4. If the data field should have a default value, select the Automatically
Enter a Default Value check box and enter the default value in the
accompanying text box.
5. When everything is done, click the Add button.
The program adds a column for the field that you created — in Figure 5-4,
it’s LastName — and clears the Create Database dialog box for your
next value (which now reads Field2).
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Having Fun with
Works Database
If the user types in nothing, Works Database will automatically use any
value that you enter in this box. For my Battleship database, for example,
I might have a Win/Loss column, and the default value could be Win — if I
play a mean game of Battleship. Or, if I’m making a recipe database, the
number of servings might default to 6 if there are 6 people in the family.
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Creating a Database and Entering Data
Figure 5-4:
The first
brick in my
new data
warehouse.
6. Repeat Steps 1 through 5 for each field that you want to add to your
database — or, if you’re done with adding fields, click Done.
After you create your database, the program provides two methods of
entering your data:
✦ By using List view: You can enter data in the same List view that you
used to create your database. (Click the List View button on the toolbar.)
✦ By using Form view: Form view, as shown in Figure 5-5, displays a
single record at a time in a user-friendly format for data entry, just like
the blanks in a printed form. Click the Form View button on the toolbar
to switch to Form view.
Entering data is the same within both views: Simply click your mouse
pointer in the desired field and then type. When you’re done entering data,
you can press Tab to move to the next field or press Shift+Tab to move to
the previous field.
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379
Figure 5-5:
Entering a
record in
Form view
looks like
this.
Use these buttons to move between records in Form view.
In List view, all the records in your database are shown within the Database
window, and you can use your old friends — the scroll bars, Page Up/Page
Down keys, and pressing Ctrl+Home/Ctrl+End — to leap about. Within Form
view, however, you need some sort of a control to move between records.
That control is the Record box at the lower left of the form, right above the
status bar. The Record box always displays the current record number, but
don’t forget the four navigation buttons surrounding it:
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the bar at the left to move to the first record
in the database.
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the right to move to the next completed
record.
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the bar at the right to move to the last
completed record in the database.
Having Fun with
Works Database
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the left to move to the previous record.
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Editing a Database
Editing a Database
After you enter your data and you’re able to keep track of your customer
information, what do you do if the data in a field is incorrect? That’s part of
the beauty of a database: Your information is easy to modify and update.
You can use either List view or Form view to make your changes (whichever
you find easier to use).
To change the contents of any field, follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the record that you want to change.
In List view, use your scroll bars. In Form view, either use the Record
box (see the preceding section) or search for the record (as I describe
in the next section).
2. To select it, click the field that you need to change and then press F2.
The program switches to Edit mode.
Note that you can also enter the field value in the Field box on the
toolbar.
3. Type the new data value.
Depending on the data format, you might need to select the original
value with your mouse (or use the Shift+arrow keys) first.
4. Press Enter to save your changes and update the field.
By the way, you’re not locked in to a particular database design when
you’ve entered data. To insert new fields before or after a selected field
in your database, choose Record➪Insert Field. You can also delete the
selected field from your database. (These commands are a great way to
fine-tune a database that you originally created from a Works Database
template.) You can also insert or delete selected records from the
Record menu.
Sorting and Searching for Specific Records
Works Database allows you to organize and search through the records in
your database:
✦ By sorting your records: Choose Record➪Sort Records; the program
displays the Sort Records dialog box that you see in Figure 5-6. Click the
Sort By drop-down list box to specify a primary sort field. If necessary,
you can select a second- and third-level sort by clicking the Then By
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381
drop-down list boxes to choose additional fields. (You can also choose
whether the sort will be in ascending or descending order.) Click OK to
sort your database. For example, this feature comes in handy when you
want to organize your DVD movie database by the year that each film
was released; if you know that a particular movie hit the theaters in
1979, this might help you track it down.
Figure 5-6:
Preparing to
sort my
database by
last name.
✦ By searching for a specific record: Choose Edit➪Find or click the Find
button on the toolbar. (From the keyboard, press Ctrl+F.) The Database
opens the Find dialog box as shown in Figure 5-7. In the Find What box,
type the text that you want to find and then select either the Next
Record or the All Records radio button to determine which record(s)
will be matched. Then click OK.
Figure 5-7:
Look for a
specific text
string here.
Building Reports
1. Choose Tools➪ReportCreator to bring up the first screen of the
ReportCreator.
2. Type a name for your new report and then click OK to continue.
The program displays the ReportCreator dialog box that you see in
Figure 5-8.
Having Fun with
Works Database
In addition to storing your data (and displaying it when you need it), Works
Database can produce another valuable product: a database report. To
create a report, follow these steps:
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Building Reports
3. On the Title tab, select the appropriate radio button to specify
whether the report should be displayed in Portrait or Landscape
mode and then click Next to continue to the Fields tab.
Landscape is generally a better pick if your records contain a large
number of fields.
Figure 5-8:
Choose an
orientation
and font for
the report.
4. On the ReportCreator Fields tab (as shown in Figure 5-9), you can add
the fields that you want included in the report by selecting them from
the Fields Available list and then clicking the Add button. (Or to add
all fields at once, click the Add All button.)
By default, ReportCreator adds the field names, but you can toggle field
names off (by enabling the Show Field Names at Top of Each Page check
box), or you can specify that the database records should be summarized and totaled but not listed in detail (by enabling the Show
Summary Information Only check box).
5. Click Next to continue to the Sorting tab.
Figure 5-9:
Select the
fields to add
to your
report.
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383
6. On the Sorting tab: Set the primary, second-level, and third-level sort
fields as necessary; choose ascending or descending sort order; and
then click Next to continue to the Grouping tab.
The Sorting tab is essentially a duplicate of the Sort Records dialog box
discussed in “Sorting and Searching for Specific Records” earlier in this
chapter.
7. If you specified any sorting on the Sorting tab, you can arrange your
records together in groups based on when the sorted field changes,
as shown in Figure 5-10. Click Next to continue to the Filter tab.
For example, if you’re sorting on LastName, each identical last name is
grouped together in a separate section of the report (even on a separate
page, if you like).
Optionally, you can group according to the first letter, as in grouping by
all last names beginning with C. If you specify a second-level or thirdlevel sort, you can also group by those criteria.
Figure 5-10:
Group
records in
the report
by their
sorted last
name.
8. If you’ve set up a filter and you want to apply it to this report, click it
in the list at the left; to build a new filter for this report, click Create
New Filter. Click Next to continue to the Summary tab.
For more information on filters, refer to your Works documentation and
the Works Database Help file.
9. On the final ReportCreator panel, you can apply specific summaries
to fields in your report (such as adding together all the goals scored
by your soccer team over a season or averaging the goals per game).
This summary information can be displayed at the end of each group or
at the end of the report.
Having Fun with
Works Database
A filter hides records that match the filter criteria.
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Printing Database Documents
10. Click Done to generate the report.
Works Database switches to Report view to display your report. You can
show the report again at any time by clicking the Report View button on the
toolbar. (If you have multiple reports, you’re prompted for the name of the
report to display.)
Reports can be renamed, duplicated, or deleted, and you can change the
sorting, groups, or filtering on an existing report. All these functions are
available from the Tools menu when you’re in Report view.
Printing Database Documents
Works Database can print out lists of records, or records as forms — or you
can print a report that you’ve generated. Whatever you decide, I highly recommend that you use the File➪Print Preview command to double-check
your document before you print it.
When you’re ready, you can use any of these methods to print:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. This immediately prints a Database document with the current printer settings.
(Or, if you haven’t changed any Print settings earlier in this session,
Database uses the default settings.)
✦ Click the Print button on the Print Preview toolbar. This also prints the
document immediately by using the current (or default) Print settings.
✦ Choose File➪Print. Database displays the Print dialog box, from which
you can specify which type of document you want as well as the
number of copies and any restrictions on what should be printed.
✦ Press Ctrl+P. Press Ctrl+P to display the Print dialog box.
Book V
Office XP
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Introducing Office XP ......................................................................................387
Chapter 2: Using Word ......................................................................................................399
Chapter 3: Putting Excel to Work ......................................................................................429
Chapter 4: Performing with PowerPoint ............................................................................455
Chapter 5: Doing Database Magic with Access ................................................................481
Chapter 6: Staying in Touch with Outlook ..........................................................................499
Chapter 1: Introducing Office XP
In This Chapter
Working with Word
Using Excel
Creating with PowerPoint
Keeping track of data with Access
Managing information with Outlook
Working with the Office Clipboard
Using the Office Help system
I
ntroducing Microsoft Office XP is a little like introducing Beethoven’s
Fifth Symphony. We’re all familiar with it, we all think that it’s a true work
of art, and we all wish that we had the royalties (or, in Bill’s case, the mound
of cash generated by licensing).
That familiarity might be your ticket to skipping this chapter. For instance,
most PC power users need no overview of Office; they know what it can do,
what the different applications are for, and how to access the Office Help
system. Heck, chances are good that you’re already using at least Word or
Excel every day or that you already rely on Outlook to handle your e-mail
and personal contacts.
But, just like the intricacies of Beethoven’s masterpiece, there’s a ton of substance to absorb within Office XP. Perhaps you’ve only used Word and you’d
like to know what the rest of the stuff that you’ve paid for can do. Or maybe
you’re brand new to the PC scene and you just bought Office XP. For those
folks who need a formal introduction to the rest of this mini-book, I present
to you this chapter — it provides a little information on each of the separate
Office applications so that you can pursue the more in-depth information in
the later chapters.
The Components of Office XP
I first mention the idea behind a productivity suite in the previous minibook. Like Works, Office XP is designed to produce a wide range of documents, covering most of the tasks that you need to accomplish in a home
or office environment. However, Office XP is far more powerful than Works,
388
The Components of Office XP
including features and functionality that Works doesn’t have. (In some
configurations, Microsoft ships Works with Windows XP Home Edition and
ships Office XP with Windows XP Professional Edition.)
In this section, I describe each of the Office XP applications and provide
you with an idea of what you can accomplish.
Word
Microsoft Word, the world’s best-selling word processor for Windows, is
an institution these days. Sold as a separate title, it forms the foundation of
Office XP. You can see a typical Word window in Figure 1-1. Word is suitable
for creating any kind of document from a simple one-page letter to a booklength manuscript. It also includes features designed for creating scientific,
academic, and technical documents as well as powerful collaborative tools
for workgroups.
Figure 1-1:
Gaze upon
the cultural
icon that is
Microsoft
Word.
The Components of Office XP
389
Other important features that set Word apart include
✦ Sophisticated tables: Gotta have ’em, and Word delivers . . . complete
with a wide array of sorting, numbering, shading, and border options.
✦ Collaboration tools: If you share editing chores with others on documents, you’ll welcome the ability to highlight or use revision marks.
(This is a trick that enables Word to track any changes with colored text
to show who did what and when. As a writer who works with editors, I
can attest that the “why” factor can prove a bit more nebulous.) You
can also compare two Word documents, add comments, and implement
a basic version control system. Word documents can be write protected
as well (to keep unnecessary fingers away from your work).
✦ Spell-checking: Whether you use the default spelling dictionary or
create your own custom dictionary, Word’s spell-checking feature can
be a lifesaver. And if you’re looking for exactly the right word (utterance/remark/exclamation), you’ll flip over the thesaurus.
✦ Artwork and graphic tools: Sure, you can use clip art, but you can also
draw your own graphics or even add all sorts of 3-D effects to titles,
sidebars, and callouts.
✦ Powerful macros: Why type the same stuff or format the same text
over and over? With Word’s macro feature, you can automate all sorts
of repetitive tasks . . . and it’s easy to record a macro, too.
✦ Printing: Word can zoom or scale your printed pages and even collate
longer documents. With plug-ins like Adobe Acrobat, you can also produce PDF files from within Word.
✦ Advanced search and replace: You can find and replace just about anything in a Word document. There’s even an option to search phonetically, or you can search according to specific formatting. (“Hey, Earl,
how can we find every italicized word in this 50-page list?”)
For a more complete overview of Word, skip to the next chapter of this
mini-book.
Introducing
Office XP
✦ Complete control over all levels of document formatting: This
includes the appearance of everything in a Word document from the
character level to the entire manuscript. (Believe me, it can handle a
book this size without batting an eyelash.)
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The Components of Office XP
Excel
Microsoft Excel (see an example window in Figure 1-2) is much more than
just a spreadsheet application. It’s a regular jack-of-all-trades in the Office
XP lineup, handling everything from a simple family budget to complex statistical and financial forecasting. Like Word, Excel is also sold separately, but
it really comes into its own when a worksheet is linked with data in other
Office documents.
Figure 1-2:
If it’s a
worksheet,
it must be
Excel.
Excel offers support for
✦ Lists: Excel can generate (and automatically update) lists as you need
them, or you can use the complete set of list tools to build your own
from scratch.
✦ Smart tags: These are used to embed and link to all sorts of external
data from within your worksheet — contacts, stock quotes, e-mail messages, and more.
✦ Charts and reports: If your data needs to be charted or you need to
generate reports to your exact specifications, look no farther than
Excel!
The Components of Office XP
391
✦ Forms: Offices all around the world rely on Excel for building customized forms. You can print them or complete them onscreen and
save the worksheet for later use.
✦ Functions: You can use the predefined functions provided by Excel or
use the recommendations provided by the Function Wizard. Excel even
pops up the arguments for a function when you enter it!
Read through Book V, Chapter 3 for more on this handy application.
PowerPoint
Slide-based and PC-based presentations used to be a business-only proposition, but now many schools are teaching kids how to create their own presentations as part of their classwork. PowerPoint, illustrated in Figure 1-3,
is the king of the PC presentation application, with dozens of predesigned
templates and styles to help you deliver professional results. Plus, you’ll
find that it’s easy to build either a standalone, self-running presentation or
a manual presentation under your control.
Figure 1-3:
Creating a
class
presentation
with
PowerPoint.
Introducing
Office XP
✦ Formulas: Excel provides task-based examples for common formulas
and even includes an error-checking option that checks for potential
problems with the formulas that you create.
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The Components of Office XP
Highlights of PowerPoint include
✦ Easy-to-use design tools: No graphic design experience is necessary
when using PowerPoint. Even a normal human being can handle the
placement of elements. Master slides make it easy to apply global
changes across your entire presentation, too.
✦ Presentation print preview: Check out your entire presentation before
you print a single slide. And you can check out different layouts for
notes pages and handouts as well.
✦ Notes and handouts: Use PowerPoint to easily produce notes for your
reference or handouts that you can print for members of your audience.
✦ Support for multiple screens: With multiple monitors, you can display
a special Presenter’s view during your presentations. This separate display allows you easier control over the sequence of your slides and
makes it easy to track the elapsed time.
✦ Animation and transition effects: Keep your audience interested in
your message with animation on your slides and transitions between
major sections.
✦ Graphics control: You can rotate or flip images, use the automatic
layout feature to adjust the design when you insert objects, and display
a grid when aligning elements on your slides.
For more on PowerPoint, see Book V, Chapter 4.
Access
I think that Access (as shown in Figure 1-4) is the unsung hero of Office XP.
In fact, I bet that many folks have no idea that Access is included when they
buy Office XP. (I’ve encountered a number of experienced Office users who
have never even heard of the application.) However, when you tell folks
what they can do with Access, they quickly become its most fervent supporter. You can create a database in just a few minutes, complete with
reports, charts, and even Web pages that display data on demand. It’s a
great way to store whatever data is important to you — without requiring a
degree in software engineering.
Top features of Access include
✦ Sophisticated error checking and validation: Let Access double-check
the data that’s entered. You’ll cut down on human error and help ensure
the accuracy of your database.
The Components of Office XP
393
✦ Connect with SQL servers: If your business uses large-scale, corporatelevel Structured Query Language (SQL) database applications, you can
use Access to pull that information into your own database projects.
✦ Customized queries and reports: What’s the use of keeping a database
if you can’t view that data intelligently? Define relationships that help
define trends or predict problems.
✦ Web reports and database access: Offer data from your Access files
to others on your office intranet (or to anyone who connects to your
Web site).
✦ Forms: Build professional-looking data entry and special input dialog
boxes that can collect information and act on that data automatically.
(Hey, you’re a database programmer now!)
Hone your database magic skills with Access in Book V, Chapter 5.
Figure 1-4:
Take control
of your data
with
Access.
Introducing
Office XP
✦ Database encryption: If you need to keep your databases secure,
Access can encrypt the entire file automatically each time that you
use it.
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The Components of Office XP
Outlook
Ah, Outlook — no other single application has done so much for so many.
(I know it’s sure done a lot for my organization.) Outlook, as shown in Figure
1-5, is a combination of an e-mail manager and a PIM (a rather ridiculous
acronym that stands for Personal Information Manager), which keeps track
of your contacts and your schedule. Although you get Outlook Express for
free with Windows XP, the full-blown Outlook that ships with Office XP is a
far superior program because it additionally includes features like
✦ Contact tracking, which ties together all the Office documents and
e-mail associated with a contact
✦ An event calendar
✦ Appointment reminders, which appear onscreen at the time that you
specify to make sure that you don’t miss The Big Date
Figure 1-5:
Is it a PIM?
Is it an
e-mail
application?
Outlook is
both!
The Components of Office XP
395
Dig that crazy Office shortcut bar
I won’t go into detail about the Office shortcut bar
in this book because it’s an optional element —
and because I show you how to run each of
these programs within the chapters of this minibook. (Plus, you probably already know how to
use the File➪New and the File➪Open commands.) However, if you’re not using the Office
shortcut bar (and you installed it), try it out by
choosing Start➪All Programs➪Microsoft Office
Tools➪Microsoft Office Shortcut Bar.
Some of the top Outlook features include
✦ Group scheduling: Not only can Outlook handle your personal calendar, but you can participate in a shared common schedule with others
in your workgroup.
✦ A truly awesome Find function: Imagine being able to search all your
e-mail messages, all your appointments, and all your scheduled tasks
for the word pickle — well, whatever you want, naturally.
✦ Calendar coloring: Mom always said, “If it’s color coded, it’s easier and
faster to use.” Evidently, the folks in Redmond agree because you can
assign colors to appointments.
✦ Support for Hotmail accounts: If you use Microsoft’s Hotmail Webbased e-mail service, Outlook can retrieve those messages for you.
✦ Mailbox cleanup options: It’s a messy job, but you’ve got to do it . . . or
do you? Outlook can automatically archive older messages, or you can
manually clean your Inbox according to the message date or size.
✦ Onscreen reminders: Let Outlook prompt you to attend that meeting or
make that phone call. You can set reminders with an audible alarm or
keep things quiet with an onscreen notification dialog box.
Discover how to stay in touch (and organized) with Outlook in Book V,
Chapter 6.
Introducing
Office XP
The Office shortcut bar is the launch pad for
everything that’s Office. From this toolbar, you
can create a new Office document, open an
existing Office document, and run any Office
application.
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Putting the Office Clipboard to Work
Putting the Office Clipboard to Work
The Office Clipboard (shown in Figure 1-6 as it appears in Word) is essentially
a supercharged version of the standard Windows XP Clipboard. It’s specially
designed to hold, display, and paste multiple items from one or more Office
documents. For example, you can copy an amount from an Excel spreadsheet, a contact name from Outlook, and even a company logo graphic from
PowerPoint — and then copy all those items into a Word document.
Figure 1-6:
Collect
items from
several
Office
applications
with the
Office
Clipboard.
You can display the Office Clipboard task pane at any time by choosing
Edit➪Office Clipboard or by pressing Ctrl+C twice.
When you display the Office Clipboard, anything that you copy from the Edit
menu (or with the Ctrl+C shortcut) is added to it instead of to the XP
Clipboard. After it’s on the Office Clipboard, you can right-click items to
selectively paste or delete them (which you can’t do from the system
Clipboard). To paste all the items at once, click the Paste All button in the
task pane; to clear everything in one fell swoop, click the Clear All button.
Note that any items that you add to the Office Clipboard stay there until you
exit all Office applications, and they aren’t affected by the single item stored
on the Windows XP Clipboard. Now that, my friends, is handy.
Using the Office Help System
397
Using the Office Help System
Figure 1-7:
Putting
Office Help
to work in
Excel.
Displaying the Help system
You can display the Office Help system for the Office application you’re
using by
✦ Clicking the question mark icon in the Standard toolbar
✦ Pressing F1
✦ Pressing Alt+H to display the Help menu and then clicking the application Help menu item
Introducing
Office XP
No introduction to Microsoft Office XP would be complete without information on the excellent Office Help system, as shown in Figure 1-7. Believe me,
the Help system is especially helpful in Excel and Access. For example, it can
save your derrière when you need assistance with a complex formula or
function in Excel!
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Using the Office Help System
The three tabs of justice
Click the Contents tab to display the familiar Windows Help tree structure,
where clicking the plus sign next to a topic opens it up and allows you to
click individual Help pages.
Click the Answer Wizard tab to type a short, specific question in honest-togoodness English, and then click the topic that covers your question to display the corresponding Help page.
Click the Index tab to search for a specific keyword within the Help system.
Any topics containing the word are displayed in the list, and you can
double-click a topic to jump to it.
You’ll notice that Office Help also displays a number of common Help topics
for the current application, or you can visit a Microsoft Web site for additional Help resources. Underlined hyperlinks will display additional information if you click them.
That silly paper clip, Clippit
Oh, and I shan’t forget about our old friend, the Office Assistant. He’s been
around since the Big Bang, and you either love him or hate his guts.
(Microsoft considered dropping him from Office XP, but a sudden, unexpected outpouring of user support saved him at the last minute.)
Actually, this animated Help gadget is simply a friendlier version of the
Answer Wizard box, but some Office XP users swear by his occasional
random antics. (When he’s turned on, the Office Assistant keeps track of
your work and can actually appear on his own if the application perceives
that you might be having trouble!)
If you find the Office Assistant to be too much of a distraction, you can turn
him off from the Help menu. (You can also assign him a different look — the
Assistant can become a bouncing ball, a cat, Merlin the Magician, or even a
soothing animated Planet Earth. No, I’m not kidding.)
Chapter 2: Using Word
In This Chapter
Starting Word
Changing views in Word
Typing and editing text
Using Find and Replace
Creating tables
Setting tabs and margins
Formatting your document
Printing in Word
Building Web pages in Word
I
t’s time to dive into Word — probably one of the top five most-used applications on the face of this planet. I first used Word as a character-based DOS
program — yes, it’s that old. And even then, it was easy to use and produced
flawless printed pages . . . which, in my opinion, are the two all-important
requirements for any word processor.
Today, Word is the cornerstone of most PC-based word processing; it’s versatile enough to perform equally well for everything from a kid’s homework
to the most professional-looking yearly report. Therefore, this chapter starts
with the basics — key shortcuts and the different views that you can use in
Word — and ends up delving into more advanced topics, such as collaborative features and Web page creation. Enjoy!
One note about this chapter (and the others in this Office mini-book) — as
Popeye might say, “It ain’t quite completes.” A casual walk through any computer bookstore will convince you that there are a dozen 400-page books
that completely concentrate on Word (or Excel, PowerPoint, or Access), so
you won’t find tons o’ advanced features or tons o’ complex tips in these
30-or-so pages. However, what you will find is good, solid coverage of the
most commonly used Word features, and that’s enough to take care of the
vast majority of common documents that you might require.
400
Running Word
Running Word
Enough talk! To start Word, use one of the following methods:
✦ Double-click the Word shortcut on your desktop.
✦ Choose Start (or press a Windows key)➪All Programs➪Microsoft Word.
✦ If you’re using the Office shortcut bar, click the Word icon.
✦ Double-click a Word document within the Explorer window or on your
desktop.
✦ Are you ready for a really fast trick? If you have a keyboard with the
Windows keys (they look like the Windows waving flag), press Win+R
(hold down the Windows key and then press R), type winword, and
then press Enter. This opens the Run dialog box, and winword is the
actual executable name for Word. Whoosh!
As an author, I use Word more than any other application on the planet . . .
except, perhaps, for Doom III. Anyway, if you use Word every hour of your
business day, add it to your Quick Launch bar like I did. As you can read earlier in the book, that’s the left part of the taskbar that rests snugly against
the Start button. Choose Start➪All Programs and then right-click and drag
the Word icon to the Quick Launch bar. When the plus sign cursor appears,
release the mouse button and then choose Copy from the pop-up menu that
appears. Voilà! Now you can summon Word with a single click from the
taskbar.
The Elements of Word
After Word has churned its way onto the screen, you’ll see the program’s
window, which should look something like Figure 2-1. (I say something like
because I’ve customized my Word toolbars to my taste, which appears not
to match the prevailing thought in Redmond. The default screen looks somewhat different.)
Although you probably know most of the guests invited to the party, here’s
a quick rundown of who showed up:
✦ The menu: No surprise here. However, Word does turn on what I call the
“shortified” menus by default, so you see only what you’ve been using
recently. (To see the rest, you have to click the down button at the
bottom of the menu.) This drives me up the wall, so I force the display
of the full menu. To do this, choose Tools➪Customize, click the Options
tab, select the Always Show Full Menus check box to enable it, and then
click Close to save the change.
The Elements of Word
401
Hey, did you ever notice those little icons next to the items in Word’s
menu system? For example, open the File menu, and you’ll notice a tiny
printer next to the Print menu item. Well, bucko, those aren’t there by
accident — in fact, those icons match the button icons used on Word’s
toolbars! Peruse the menu system and take a moment to match the
menu item that you’re using with its corresponding toolbar button — if
that particular toolbar is displayed, of course. After you learn the different toolbar buttons by heart, the convenience of clicking kicks in, and
you’ll never use that menu item again!
Ruler
Menu
Toolbars
Figure 2-1:
One
application
to rule them
all: the
mighty
Microsoft
Word.
Editing window
Status bar
Book V
Chapter 2
Using Word
✦ The toolbars: And geez, what toolbars they are! Clicking a button on
one of these toolbars does the same job as the corresponding menu
commands. If you see a small double-arrow icon pointing to the right at
the end of a toolbar, you can click it to display additional icons that
didn’t fit at the current window size. To select which toolbars you want
to see within Word, choose View➪Toolbars and then click a specific
toolbar in the pop-up menu to toggle it off or on.
402
The Elements of Word
Toolbar is not a dirty word
Let’s talk toolbar customizing for a moment.
Move your mouse pointer to either end of a toolbar, and you’ll note that it turns into a funky, fourdirection cursor. This indicates that you can now
click and drag to relocate the toolbar to any side
of the screen. Or, if you drag the toolbar to the
middle of the window, it magically turns into a
floating toolbar that can be repositioned like any
other window.
Also, you can add or remove buttons by clicking the down-arrow button at the end of a toolbar; choose Add or Remove Buttons and then
mark the name of the toolbar from the pop-up
window that appears. Mark the check boxes
next to an individual button name to toggle the
display of that button on or off, as shown in this
figure.
✦ The editing window: This is where all the real work takes place. Type your
text here and add graphics, tables, and all sorts of specialized tomfoolery.
✦ The ruler: Word’s ruler can be used to keep track of page dimensions,
of course, but you can also use it to set tabs and margins. (More on this
in the later section “Adjusting Tabs and Margins.”)
A Word about the Views
403
A Word about the Views
Speaking of views, Word can display your document in more than just one
mundane way. You can switch between views by clicking the View menu and
then clicking the desired view (each appears as a separate menu item), or
you can click the view buttons at the bottom-left corner of the editing
window, right above the status line. Take a gander at this selection of views.
Normal view
Normal view is your plain vanilla, default viewing mode (as shown earlier in
Figure 2-1). However, I’ve always found Normal view to be the quickest to
use when I’m typing or when I’m editing an existing document. Remember:
What you see in Normal view might definitely not be what you get when you
print, so switch to Web Layout or Page Layout views to edit the appearance
of a document. And use Print Preview (click the Standard toolbar icon that
looks like a document with a magnifying glass) to check on the appearance
of the printed pages before you send ’em to the Monster of Toner. The first
button at the lower left selects Normal view.
Outline view
In Outline view (check it out in Figure 2-2), the structure of your document
is the important thing, much like the outlining that you learned in grade
school. Word’s Outline view allows you to change and rearrange the sections of your entire document (except that this time, you get to use a click
of the mouse instead of that doggone eraser). Within Outline view, you can
click the symbol next to any heading and drag it to a new spot — just
release the button to drop the section at the insertion point. Headings and
sections of body text can also be reassigned to different levels by clicking
the symbol next to the heading and dragging it to the left (to promote it) or
to the right (to demote it). You can select Outline view by clicking the fourth
button at the bottom-left corner of the editing window.
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Using Word
✦ The status line: You’ll find all sorts of statistics on the status line,
including the number of pages in your document, the current line and
column position of the text cursor, and even the distance from the top
of the page to the text cursor. (Currently, it’s at 7.6 inches.) Also, you
can use the buttons at the far left of the status line to change your view
mode. Come to think of it. . . .
404
A Word about the Views
Figure 2-2:
Hey, an
outline that I
really like
for a
change!
Print Layout view
I recommend switching to Print Layout view when you need to design the
look of your page because you can easily work with page elements such as
columns and graphics by clicking and dragging them from place to place.
(You can also click most elements and drag their borders to new locations.)
If you’re familiar with desktop publishing programs like Adobe PageMaker
or FrameMaker, you’ll feel right at home in Print Layout view. Click the third
tiny button at the left of the status line to switch to Print Layout view.
Web Layout view
Finally, the Internet side of things. In Web Layout view, Word adds any background that you specify, places images where they will appear in a Web
browser, and wraps the text to fit the window size. You can use this view to
design a document that will be saved later as a Web page. Click the second
button at the lower left of the Word editing window to use Web Layout view.
If you’re building Web pages within Word, don’t forget the Web Page Preview
feature, which operates just like Print Preview — you’ll see exactly what
your page will look like in Internet Explorer. (Probably because Word automatically runs your Web browser and automatically loads the document!)
To use the Web Page Preview, choose File➪Web Page Preview.
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text
405
Figure 2-3:
Go,
Document
Map, go!
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text
Ready to start your first foray into the editing window? In this section, I discuss the three all-important things that you’ll be doing most often during
your Word session: typing new text, selecting existing text, and editing existing text.
Typing like the wind
Okay, I know this seems like a no-brainer — and typing in Word is indeed
pretty simple. First, locate the insertion cursor (which looks like a blinking
bar) where you want in the editing window (by clicking the mouse pointer,
which looks like a tiny I-beam, or by using the movement keyboard shortcuts listed in Table 2-1). Tickle the ivories to enter your text.
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Chapter 2
Using Word
And don’t forget Document Map. It’s a great convenience when moving
quickly through large documents. Just choose View➪Document Map, and
Word opens a separate pane at the left side of the editing window (as shown
in Figure 2-3). To close Document Map, just choose View➪Document Map
again. You can move immediately to any heading within your document by
clicking it within Document Map.
406
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text
You can press Insert to enter Overwrite mode, in which the new characters
that you type overwrite any existing text; to return to Insert mode, in which
new characters are inserted at the cursor point, press the Insert key again.
Table 2-1
Key
Movement Shortcut Keys in Word
Movement
Left arrow (←)
Moves the cursor one character to the left
Right arrow (→)
Moves the cursor one character to the right
Up arrow (↑)
Moves the cursor to the preceding line
Down arrow (↓)
Moves the cursor to the next line
Ctrl+←
Moves the cursor one word to the left
Ctrl+→
Moves the cursor one word to the right
Ctrl+↑
Moves the cursor one paragraph up
Ctrl+↓
Moves the cursor one paragraph down
Page Up
Moves the cursor up one screen
Page Down
Moves the cursor down one screen
End
Moves the cursor to the end of the current line
Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line
Ctrl+Page Up
Moves the cursor to the top of the previous page
Ctrl+Page Down
Moves the cursor to the top of the next page
Ctrl+Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl+End
Moves the cursor to the end of the document
Selecting what you will
My father always used to say, “Nothing is perfect the first time around” —
and a Word document is no exception. However, don’t break out the Liquid
Paper for your screen! Instead, use the mouse to select text or graphics by
clicking and dragging the I-beam cursor across the text that you want to
change or format or use the selection keyboard shortcuts provided so
conveniently by Table 2-2.
To select a word, just double-click it — to select a graphic, click it once. To
select several pages of text, click to place the insertion cursor at the start of
the text that you want to highlight and then hold down Shift while you click
at the end of the text.
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text
Table 2-2
407
Selection Shortcut Keys in Word
Selection
Shift+←
Selects one character to the left of the cursor
Shift+→
Selects one character to the right of the cursor
Shift+↑
Selects characters to the previous line
Shift+↓
Selects characters to the next line
Shift+End
Selects characters to the end of the current line
Shift+Home
Selects characters to the beginning of the current line
Shift+Page Down
Selects characters to the next screen
Shift+Page Up
Selects characters to the previous screen
Ctrl+Shift←
Selects characters to the beginning of the word
Ctrl+Shift+→
Selects characters to the end of the word
Ctrl+Shift+↑
Selects characters to the beginning of the current paragraph
Ctrl+Shift+↓
Selects characters to the end of the current paragraph
Ctrl+Shift+Home
Selects characters to the beginning of the document
Ctrl+Shift+End
Selects characters to the end of the document
Editing text in Word
After you select the text and graphics that you want to change, you can then
pick an action (either from the toolbars or the menu system) or use one of
the editing keyboard shortcuts shown in Table 2-3.
Table 2-3
Key
Editing Shortcut Keys in Word
Function
Any character
Replaces the selected text
Delete
Deletes the selected text and graphics
Ctrl+X
Cuts the selection and places it on the Clipboard (or the Office
Clipboard, if it’s displayed)
Ctrl+C
Copies the selection to the Clipboard (or the Office Clipboard, if
it’s displayed)
Ctrl+V
Replaces the selection with the contents of the Clipboard
Using Word
Key
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Finding and Replacing Stuff
Finding and Replacing Stuff
I don’t know about you, but manually tracking down every single occurrence of the word salacious in my Word documents is not my idea of fun!
(Okay, perhaps not salacious — substitute your own most common word
there.) Anyway, Word provides you with all the Dynamic Duo of Find and
Replace, which ensures that no word or phrase in your document can
escape your all-seeing eye.
To perform a Find or Replace, follow these steps:
1. Choose Edit➪Replace or press Ctrl+H.
This displays the Find and Replace dialog box that you see in Figure 2-4.
Actually, the Find command (choose Edit➪Find or press Ctrl+F) displays
the same dialog box, but you see the Find tab instead. You’ll note that
this dialog box floats above the Word window. And, unlike other active
dialog boxes, you can continue to click, select, and type in the Word
window while the Find and Replace dialog box is open.
2. Type the word or phrase that you need to locate or change in the
Find What text field.
If you’ve already searched for the target string earlier, click the down
arrow next to the box and select it from the drop-down list box.
3. To replace any matches with something new, type the word or phrase
that you want to substitute in the Replace With text field.
Again, if you’ve already used the new value to replace something earlier
in this writing session, just click the down arrow and choose the desired
value from the drop-down list box.
Figure 2-4:
Substituting
salacious
with
demure is
child’s play
with
Replace.
Finding and Replacing Stuff
409
4. To find the next occurrence, click the Find Next button; to replace the
next occurrence, click the Replace button.
You can also click the Replace All button to locate and replace all occurrences of the word or phrase. However, I recommend clicking Replace
one time first just to make sure that you’re indeed matching what you
think! If the correct word or phrase is replaced, click Replace All to
finish the job.
Remember that you can immediately use Undo after any Word action
goes awry. In this case, if you suddenly find that you’ve replaced every
the in your document with thee by accident, choose Edit➪Undo Replace
or use the Ctrl+Z keyboard shortcut.
5. If you used Find Next or Replace in the previous step, Word selects
the next occurrence.
You can continue your Find or Replace activities, or you can click
Cancel if you’re done.
That’s the mundane side of Find and Replace. However, if you click the More
button at the bottom of the Find and Replace dialog box, as in Figure 2-4
(which switches the More button to Less), you’ll see all sorts of interesting
options that can help you fine-tune your search, including
✦ Match Case: By default, Find and Replace are case-insensitive toys —
mark this check box to make capitalization matter.
✦ Find Whole Words Only: When this check box is disabled, Word
matches portions of a word, which comes in handy when changing
tenses, prefixes, or suffixes. To force Word to match only the exact
string that you entered, select this check box to enable it.
✦ Use Wildcards: A throwback to the days of DOS, wildcards allow you to
search for specific combinations of letters or numbers in your target
string. Unix folks call this pattern matching. (Check the Word Help
system for a complete list of wildcards.)
✦ Sounds Like: If you know what the target word sounds like but you can’t
spell it, enable the Sounds Like check box, and Word will locate matching words that sound the same. For example, role will match roll.
✦ Find All Word Forms: Enable this check box to locate all forms of the
target noun or verb — tenses, plurals, and such. Trick indeed!
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Using Word
Click the Special button to display a pop-up menu of special and nonprinting characters that you can insert at the cursor position in the Find
What or Replace With boxes. For instance, if you need to search for (or
replace using) a graphic, a Tab character, or a caret character, you can
pick it from the Special button menu.
410
Building Tables
To perform a search based on any sort of formatting (such as character or
paragraph formatting or a specific language within your document), click
the Format button and then select the appropriate type of formatting from
the pop-up menu that appears.
Building Tables
Tables are great for displaying . . . well . . . tabular information. (Stunning
stuff.) But that information need not be uniform, and you can add all sorts of
eye candy (like shading) and different types of borders.
Follow these steps to add a standard table to your Word document:
1. Click within your document to place the insertion cursor in the
desired spot for the table.
2. Choose Table➪Insert➪Table to display the Insert Table dialog box
that you see in Figure 2-5.
Figure 2-5:
Inserting a
table into
a Word
document
is easy.
3. Click in the Number of Columns text box and type the number of
columns that you need in the table.
4. Click in the Number of Rows text box and type the number of
columns that you need in the table.
Building Tables
411
5. Select the AutoFit Behavior option that you prefer.
6. Click OK to create the basic table structure, as shown in Figure 2-6.
7. Click in each cell (in front of each of the markers, which I like to call
Space Invaders) and type the value.
You can apply the same formatting attributes to the text in a table cell,
too. For example, I select the top row of a table and then press Ctrl+B to
create bold column headings.
This provides you with a basic table. Right-click the table itself, choose
Borders and Shading from the pop-up menu that appears, and be amazed at
all the fun fashions that you can use to decorate that simple frame! You can
change the type, width, and color of the border, for instance; or click the
Shading tab and choose your own colors, shading, and patterns (either for
the entire table or just for the cells that you select).
Figure 2-6:
A new table,
ready for
your values.
Using Word
The default, Fixed Column Width, is fine if all the values that the table
will hold will be uniform in length; however, I recommend that you
choose AutoFit to Contents if you need to save space in your document,
or if certain values are far longer than others. If you’re creating a Web
page, select AutoFit to Window.
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Adding Bulleted and Numbered Lists
Adding Bulleted and Numbered Lists
Creating bullets and numbered lists automatically in Word is a cinch. Follow
these steps:
1. Click anywhere within the paragraph that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Bullets and Numbering to display the dialog box that
you see in Figure 2-7.
3. Click the type of bullet formatting that you want to apply to the paragraph, or click the Numbered or the Outline Numbered tabs to create
a numbered list or outline (respectively).
To use your own bullet graphic or use a character from a favorite font,
click the Customize button to specify a bullet or to change the bullet
and text positions (see the result in Figure 2-8).
4. Click OK to apply the formatting.
You can also use the Numbering and Bullets buttons on the Formatting
toolbar to create lists with the Word default formatting. The Formatting
toolbar is also the home of the Decrease Indent and Increase Indent buttons,
which alter the position of the text by a tab stop each time that you click
them.
Figure 2-7:
Select a
bullet format
from Word’s
impressive
selection.
Adjusting Tabs and Margins
413
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Using Word
Figure 2-8:
Customize
your bullets
and
numbered
lists.
Adjusting Tabs and Margins
Call ’em throwbacks to your typewriter days, but tabs and margins are still
with us. After all, these two settings are largely responsible for the appearance of your pages — and how much text and graphics each page can hold.
Word respects these two elders by providing multiple methods of setting
tabs and margins; in this section, I show you how to configure tabs and margins by using both your mouse and your keyboard.
Setting margins with the ruler
Follow these steps to set up margins by using Word’s horizontal and vertical
rulers:
1. Change to Print Layout view by clicking the Print Layout button at
the left of the status line.
2. Move your mouse cursor over the end of either of the shaded bars on
the ruler.
These bars indicate the current margin, and the mouse pointer will turn
into a twin-arrow cursor to indicate that the bar can be moved (as
shown with the right margin in Figure 2-9).
3. Click and drag the arrow cursor in the desired direction.
4. Release the mouse button to set the new margin value.
414
Adjusting Tabs and Margins
The two-arrow cursor indicates a margin can be moved.
Figure 2-9:
Set margins
with the
ruler.
Setting margins from the menu
Follow these steps to set margins from the File menu:
1. Choose File➪Page Setup, which displays the Page Setup dialog box
that you see in Figure 2-10.
2. Click in the appropriate Margins text box (for the margin that you
want to change) and then type the desired value in inches.
3. Click the arrow of the Apply To drop-down list and then select Whole
Document.
To apply margin changes to just a part of the document, select the
desired text before opening the Page Setup dialog box and then choose
Selected Text from the Apply To drop-down list. If you want the margin
change to apply to the remainder of the document starting at the current position of the insertion cursor, choose This Point Forward instead.
4. Click OK to save your changes and return to your document.
Adjusting Tabs and Margins
415
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Using Word
Figure 2-10:
Set margins
from here.
Setting tabs with the ruler
Word offers several different types of tabs, including left, center, right and
decimal- or bar-aligned. To add a tab stop with the ruler, follow these steps:
1. Click anywhere within the paragraph where you want to place the tab.
2. Click the Tab button at the upper-left corner of the editing window —
it appears at the left side of the ruler — until you’ve selected the type
of tab that you need.
To check the current tab type, just leave your mouse pointer hovering
on top of the Tab button until the tooltip description appears.
3. Click the desired spot on the ruler where you want to place the tab.
To help you keep track of your tab, Word automatically adds a tab stop
mark (looks like the old-fashioned tab pointer on your trusty manual Olivet
typewriter) on the ruler.
Setting tabs from the menu
Follow these steps to set a tab stop from the menu:
1. Choose Format➪Tabs to open the Tabs dialog box as shown in
Figure 2-11.
2. Click in the Tab Stop Position field and then type the position of
the new tab stop in inches.
416
Applying Formatting
Figure 2-11:
Hey, isn’t
Tab an
antique diet
cola?
3. Select the desired Alignment option.
4. To add a leader to the new tab stop, select one of the Leader
selections.
A leader is a character that’s used to fill the open space that normally
appears when you press the Tab key. Leader characters are often used
in a table of contents, telephone list, or restaurant menu.
Word sets your default tab stops to every half inch; to choose a new
default value for tab stops, click in the Default Tab Stops field and type
the new value (in inches).
5. Click the Set button to set the new tab.
6. To clear a tab stop, click the tab stop that you want to remove within
the list on the left and then click Clear.
Or you can clear all the tab stops in one fell swoop by clicking the Clear
All button.
7. Click OK to return to your document.
Applying Formatting
Word offers a number of different formatting commands. At the lowest level,
you can manually format individual characters by changing their attributes.
At the highest level, you can set Word to automatically format your document
while you type! In this section, I describe how to fine-tune your formatting.
Applying Formatting
417
Font formatting
You probably already know the trio of attributes that I like to call The Big
Three:
✦ Italic: Press Ctrl+I to italicize the selected text.
✦ Underline: Press Ctrl+U to underline the selected text.
Of course, each of The Big Three is represented by a separate button on the
Formatting toolbar (B, I, and U). But there’s a heck of a lot more font formatting
where that came from — you can also add these attributes to selected text:
✦ The font family: (No relation to the Addams Family.) Choose
Format➪Font to display the Font dialog box that you see in Figure 2-12
and then click the font name that you want to use. (Alternatively, click
the Font drop-down list box on the Formatting toolbar.)
✦ The size: Click the desired font size (in picas) from the Size list or type
the size that you want directly into the Size text box.
✦ The color: You can click the Font Color drop-down list to choose the
latest fashion color for your text.
✦ The standard effects: Select check boxes in the Effects section to
enable an effect, and Word automatically updates the Preview window
with the results.
Figure 2-12:
The Font
dialog box
is a busy
metropolitan
location.
Using Word
✦ Bold: Press Ctrl+B to add emphasis to the selected text.
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Applying Formatting
✦ The spacing: Click the Character Spacing tab and then choose the
amount of space between characters, or you can raise and lower the
characters by the amount that you specify. Word shows you the fruit of
your labor in the Preview window.
✦ The text animations: Click the Text Effects tab, and . . . wow! Check out
the optional animation effects that you can add to any font! Again, Word
updates the preview to show you what kind of exotic creature that
you’ve created.
Note that you don’t need to actually select text to use font formatting. If no
text is specifically selected, Word simply applies your font changes to any
new text that you type at the current location of the insertion cursor.
Paragraph formatting
Word is a consistent machine. And, as you might expect, formatting a paragraph is very similar to formatting individual characters. (Note, however,
that not every separate text element on a page is actually a true American
paragraph; in order to qualify, the text block must end with a paragraph
mark, which is represented by that weird backwards P symbol.)
Because Word normally hides formatting marks, you probably won’t see any
paragraph marks in your document unless you specifically tell Word to display them. You can do this by choosing Tools➪Options and enabling the
Paragraph Marks check box on the View tab. Personally, I like to be able to
see where my paragraphs come to a halt because I do quite a bit of formatting on manuscripts (and it makes a great difference whether you select a
paragraph with or without the paragraph mark)!
Commonly used paragraph formatting attributes include
✦ The alignment: Choose Format➪Paragraph to display the Paragraph
dialog box (that you see in Figure 2-13) and then click the Alignment
drop-down list box. Word can align text to the left or right margin or
center the paragraph in the page. You can also choose to justify a paragraph, which adds extra spacing to stretch each full line in the paragraph from the left to the right margin.
✦ The indentation: As I show you in the earlier section “Adding Bulleted
and Numbered Lists,” you can automatically add bullets and line numbers to your text. From the Paragraph dialog box, you can specify the
amount to indent the selected paragraph as well as what kind of indent
to use.
Applying Formatting
419
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Using Word
Figure 2-13:
Need to
format a
paragraph?
✦ The spacing: Click the Line Spacing drop-down list box of the Paragraph
dialog box to choose double spacing or to specify a precise line spacing
of your own choosing. This is also the place where you can add extra
space before or after a paragraph.
These commands are also conveniently located as buttons on the Formatting
toolbar.
Using AutoFormat
Before I leave the fair shores of formatting, I’d like to mention another
“either you love it or you hate it” feature. This one ranks right up there with
the Office Assistant. I’m talking about Word’s AutoFormat feature, which —
true to its name — automatically recognizes what it feels should be formatted and then takes care of the task for you . . . whether you want it to or not.
To illustrate: If you type an asterisk at the beginning of a line and press
Enter at the end, AutoFormat figures, “Oh, that crazy human actually wants
a bulleted list item” and thus formats the paragraph with an indent and a
bullet character and then adds another bullet for your next item. The same
thing happens with numbered lists, too. Try typing 1. at the beginning of the
line and pressing Enter just to see the results.
420
Applying Formatting
Now don’t get me wrong. If you’re a newcomer to Word or you don’t need
precise control over the formatting in your document, AutoFormat can be a
true timesaver and a big help. (Pause.) However, if you do need that precise
formatting control, AutoFormat suddenly becomes a nightmare when you’re
forced to helplessly watch Word do what it thinks is right.
Therefore, here’s how to disable AutoFormat — which is on by default —
just in case you find it nerve-wracking instead of helpful:
1. Choose Tools➪AutoCorrect Options and then click the AutoFormat As
You Type tab to display the settings shown in Figure 2-14.
Figure 2-14:
No, Word!
Bad AutoFormatting
program!
No biscuit!
2. To completely disable AutoFormatting while you type, disable all the
check boxes and then click OK.
Note that you can still run AutoFormat on your entire document at once
at any time — just choose Format➪AutoFormat.
3. Click OK to save your changes.
(And you can bet that I didn’t use AutoFormat to create this numbered list,
either. Harrumph.)
Adding Graphics
421
Adding Graphics
✦ Paste it from the Clipboard. If you’ve copied a graphic to your
Windows or Office Clipboard, you can paste it to the current cursor
location (as shown in Figure 2-15).
✦ Insert it from a file. If the graphic is stored on your hard drive, choose
Insert➪Picture➪From File. Word displays the familiar Insert Picture
dialog box, from where you can navigate to the location of the image.
Click once on the filename to select it and then click the Insert button.
✦ Insert a clip art image. Choose Insert➪Picture➪Clip Art to display the
Insert Clip Art panel. Type a keyword in the Search text box, click the
Search In drop-down list box, and then choose All Collections. Click the
Search button to display thumbnail images of any matching clip art. As
you can see in Figure 2-16, I’m not the only person who loves Halloween!
Figure 2-15:
Add a
graphic
from the
Clipboard.
Using Word
You have a number of different ways to add graphics to your Word document. After you click in the desired spot (which moves the insertion cursor
to that point in your document), use one of the following methods:
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Adding Graphics
Figure 2-16:
A search for
Halloween
produced
these clip
art images.
✦ Scan or download an image. Choose Insert➪Picture➪From Scanner or
Camera, and you can actually insert an image directly from either of
these peripherals! What you see next depends on your scanner or
camera’s TWAIN (technology without an interesting name) driver. For
instance, Figure 2-17 illustrates the dialog box displayed by my HP scanner, so you might have to refer to the device manufacturer’s user
manual for more information on what does what.
Figure 2-17:
Insert an
image into
Word via
your
scanner.
Doing the Collaboration Thing
423
Doing the Collaboration Thing
Using revision marks
If several editors have their hands in a single document, revision marks
are the only way to go. Everyone can make changes (Word assigns different
colors to each), and those changes can be reviewed and applied (or discarded) on an individual basis, or you can accept or revert all changes at
once.
To use revision marks, choose Tools➪Track Changes (or, if you’re a toolbar
person, click the Track Changes button on the Reviewing toolbar. Make this
toolbar show by choosing View➪Toolbars➪Reviewing.) Now you’ve told
Word to track anything that anyone does within the document. Nothing
appears to happen . . . at least, that is, until you make any change to the
document. Continue typing or edit as you like. Word formats the changes
that you make with a unique color, underlining them to make things easier
to see. Deleted text and graphics are shown with the strikethrough attribute.
When you’re ready to review the revision marks in a document, display the
Reviewing toolbar. I highly recommend that you work with revision marks
using the toolbar because using the menu can get a little ponderous. Click
the Next button on the toolbar to jump to the next revision and then click
either the Accept Change or Reject Change button. (For just a second, you’ll
feel like you have the ol’ Caesar thumb . . . you know, the one that Caesar
gets to use in any gladiator movie.)
Just in case you don’t quite have the power of Caesar, you can always save
the revised document under another filename before you decide for or
against the edits. (Even a Roman emperor could use a little insurance.)
To accept in one fell swoop all the changes made with revision marks, click
the arrow next to the Accept Change button to display the drop-down list
box, and then click Accept All Changes in Document. To toss out all those
silly edits, click the arrow next to the Reject Change button and then choose
Reject All Changes in Document. The nerve of some people, tampering with
perfection!
Using Word
Word includes several features for managing collaborative documents —
keeping things straight about who revised what or perhaps adding
comments and highlighting to indicate where changes are necessary.
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Doing the Collaboration Thing
Using Comments
Next, take a look at Comments, which allow others to flag a document without directly changing its contents. To add a Comment, select the text that
you want to comment on and then choose Insert➪Comment (or click the
New Comment button on that now-familiar Reviewing toolbar).
Word displays a color marker at the word or point where you made the
Comment and opens the Comment window, which you see at the bottom
of Figure 2-18. The insertion cursor is also automatically relocated in the
Comment window, so you can type your Comment text, which is marked
with the name and date/time. When you’re done, click anywhere in the editing window to continue or click the Reviewing Pane button in the Reviewing
toolbar to toggle it off.
If you need more room to view the comments, click and drag the bar separating the Comment pane from the editing window to relocate it.
Figure 2-18:
Editors just
love that
Comment
pane.
Printing Your Document
425
When you’re ready to review comments, you can
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✦ Review the comments in a document by using the Next and Previous
buttons on the Reviewing toolbar.
✦ Double-click the shaded header in the Comment pane, which automatically switches Word into Print Layout view and displays the comment.
Of course, you can’t “apply” a comment, but you can delete those that
offend. Just click anywhere in the commented text and then click the Delete
Comment button on the Reviewing toolbar (or just right-click the Comment
marker in the text and then choose Delete Comment from the pop-up menu
that appears).
Using highlighting
Ever wish that you could turn the editing clock back to paper and those
classy neon yellow highlighter markers that you used in school? Fear not:
Word can take you there as well. Follow these steps to highlight text in your
documents:
1. Display the Formatting toolbar (View➪Toolbars➪Formatting) and
then click the Highlight button (it looks like a fat, smelly marker).
a. To select a color, click the down-arrow next to the Highlight
button and then click the desired color.
b. To erase previous highlighting, click None.
2. Select the text to highlight.
3. When you’re done highlighting, turn the feature off by clicking the
Highlight button again.
Printing Your Document
Word offers you a number of different ways to print an open document:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. This immediately prints the entire document by using the printer’s default settings.
✦ Choose File➪Print. Although it takes longer, the Print dialog box that
you see in Figure 2-19 gives you more control over what gets printed and
what printer you use — including the number of copies and the option
to print only part of the document. (To display the printer-specific
Using Word
✦ Hover your mouse pointer on top of the highlighted comment marker in
the text.
426
Creating Web Pages with Word
options supported by the printer’s Windows XP software driver, click
the Properties button.)
✦ Press Ctrl+P. This method also displays the Print dialog box.
Figure 2-19:
The Word
Print dialog
box.
Creating Web Pages with Word
Although it’s no FrontPage, Word can actually step in as a serviceable Web
page creation tool! After you create a document, follow these steps to turn
that document into a Web page:
1. Choose File➪Save As Web Page to display the special Save As dialog
box that you see in Figure 2-20.
Figure 2-20:
Preparing to
save a Web
page.
Creating Web Pages with Word
427
2. Click the Change Title button and then type a title for this page.
3. After Internet Explorer displays this text in the browser’s title bar,
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click OK.
Web Page.
5. Navigate to the spot where you want to save the file and type a new
filename for the page.
You don’t need to add a HyperText Markup Language (HTML) extension
because Word does that automatically.
6. Click Save.
Word creates an HTML page and a separate folder that contains any
graphics that are necessary to display the page; all you have to do is
move both to your Web server.
Figure 2-21 illustrates one of my Web sites that I created completely in Word.
Because some of the advanced formatting that you can use in Word doesn’t
translate at all to a Web page, the application does the best job that it can.
But at least you can rely on Word to produce a Web page that will load in virtually every browser on the planet.
Figure 2-21:
A page from
a Word-built
Web site.
Using Word
4. Click the Save As drop-down list box and make sure that it’s set to
428
Book V: Office XP
Chapter 3: Putting Excel to Work
In This Chapter
Running Excel
Presenting the Excel window
Typing, selecting, and editing cell text
Handling numbers and dates
Manipulating rows and columns
Formatting cells in Excel
Understanding Excel formulas
Inserting graphics
Adding charts to your worksheets
Linking cell values
Adding headers and footers
Printing worksheets
E
xcel is scary.
There, I said it. Most Office XP users know that Excel is one doggone powerful and versatile tool, but it has a reputation for being difficult to learn. (Not
to mention all those strange, foreign-looking formulas and functions . . .
heck, I can barely remember my long division. And don’t even get me
started on my kid’s math homework.)
In this chapter, however, I can help you with that common Excel-phobia that
grips the novice who runs Excel for the first time. I show you the basics of
selecting cells and entering cell values, manipulating rows and columns, formatting numbers and dates, and adding graphics. And yes — believe it or
not — I get you started on the road to understanding and using formulas
to calculate the values that you need. After all, that’s the real power behind
Excel — plugging in values to see what happens.
As Thomas Edison, a personal hero of mine, never said, “After Excel formulas are your friends, the world is your oyster.” (Then again, he certainly
could have said it, and perhaps no one was around to write it down. Yeah,
that’s it.)
430
Running Excel
Running Excel
You can start the number-cruncher that is Excel in any of the following
ways:
✦ Double-click the Excel shortcut on your desktop.
✦ Choose Start➪Microsoft Excel.
✦ If you’re using the Office shortcut bar, click the Excel icon.
✦ Double-click an Excel document within Windows Explorer or on your
desktop.
✦ If you’ve added an Excel icon to your Quick Launch bar, click it.
✦ Press Win+R, type excel in the Run dialog box that appears, and then
press Enter. (That’s assuming that your keyboard is equipped with
Windows keys, which look like the waving Windows flags and are
located on either side of the spacebar.)
Waltzing Around the Excel Window
The Excel main window (as shown in Figure 3-1) has one immediate drawback, and Microsoft has never really been able to address it: Excel simply
looks complex from the moment that you start it! However, don’t be intimidated by all those cells. When you take a second look, the familiar Office
controls are still there.
Although you know most of the guests invited to the party, here’s a quick
rundown of who showed up:
✦ The menu: As expected, the Excel menu system shares a number of
commands with other Office programs.
✦ The toolbar: This puppy is the very seat of convenience in Excel. Most
of the menu commands are replicated on the toolbar, where a single
click performs the same action. Note that the Excel toolbar includes a
unique field called the Formula Bar, in which you can type in a formula
for a cell or view a formula that’s already associated with the selected
cell. (More on formulas later in the chapter.) If there’s not enough room
to display all the icons on the toolbar at the current window size, Excel
displays a small double- arrow icon pointing to the right at the end of a
toolbar; you can click it to display the additional icons.
To specify which toolbars are displayed, choose View➪Toolbars and
then choose the toolbar that you want to toggle on or off.
✦ The sheet tabs: These nifty tabs allow you to jump between worksheets
and charts in the Excel window. Just click a tab to switch to that worksheet.
Waltzing Around the Excel Window
431
✦ The editing window: Each individual square in the editing window is a
cell, which can hold text, numbers, tables, and graphics.
Before I launch into a discussion of cells, however, let me clear up a
common misunderstanding among novice Excel users concerning the difference between a workbook and a worksheet:
✦ Workbook: A workbook acts just like a file folder in a filing cabinet, storing all the worksheets required for a single project. Because a workbook
acts as the container for worksheets, it’s the file that you’re working
with when you create a new project or when you load and save in Excel
(and is featured in the task pane for that reason).
✦ Worksheet: A worksheet is what you actually use to enter data, graphics, and charts. You can create a new worksheet inside the current
workbook at any time. To switch between worksheets in the current
workbook, use the sheet tabs.
Toolbars
Menu
Figure 3-1:
The Excel
main
window.
Status bar
Sheet tabs
Editing window
Task pane
Putting Excel
to Work
✦ The status bar: The Excel status bar displays information about calculations and the contents of cells.
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Selecting, Entering, and Editing Cell Data
Selecting, Entering, and Editing Cell Data
As I mention earlier, a cell is one individual block within a worksheet, and it
can hold a number of things:
✦ Numeric values
✦ Text
✦ Graphics
✦ Formulas and functions (which are used to calculate new values)
In this section, I show you how to select one or more cells, enter data into a
cell, and edit existing cell data.
Filling a cell to the top
To enter data in a cell, just click it and begin typing. The cell changes into a
data entry box, as shown in Figure 3-2. After you’re done entering data,
press Enter (to move one cell down) or Tab (to move one cell to the right).
See there . . . I told you it was easier than it looks, didn’t I?
Figure 3-2:
To enter
data into a
cell, just
type.
Selecting, Entering, and Editing Cell Data
433
Later in the chapter, I discuss the Formula Bar, which is another method of
entering stuff — in this case, a formula — in a cell.
An Excel worksheet can grow to absolutely momentous proportions. And
even at the highest screen resolutions, you’re still limited to the same
onscreen space as any other Office document. Therefore, your scroll bars
are very important controls in Excel; use them often and in good health.
You can also use a number of keys and keyboard shortcuts to get to the
right place in your worksheet, as shown in Table 3-1.
Table 3-1
Movement Shortcut Keys in Excel
Key
Movement
Left arrow (←)
Moves the cursor one cell to the left
Right arrow (→)
Moves the cursor one cell to the right
Up arrow (↑)
Moves the cursor one cell up
Down arrow (↓)
Moves the cursor one cell down
Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current row
Ctrl+Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the active worksheet
Ctrl+End
Moves the cursor to the last cell in the worksheet with a value
Page Down
Moves down one screen
Page Up
Moves up one screen
Alt+Page Down
Moves one screen to the right
Alt+Page Up
Moves one screen to the left
Enter
Moves the cursor one cell down (also works within a selection)
Tab
Moves the cursor one cell to the right (also works within a selection)
Shift+Enter
Moves the cursor one cell up (also works within a selection)
Shift+Tab
Moves the cursor one cell to the left (also works within a selection)
Ctrl+arrow key
Moves the cursor to the corresponding edge of any range containing
data
Selecting cells the easy way
The next topic is selecting one or more cells, which you’ll do before performing an action on the entire group. You can use the following mouse
actions to select cells in Excel:
Putting Excel
to Work
Moving around the worksheet
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Selecting, Entering, and Editing Cell Data
✦ To select a single cell, just click it.
✦ To select a range of multiple adjacent cells, click a cell at any corner of
the desired cells and then drag the mouse in the desired direction.
✦ To select multiple nonadjacent cells, hold down Ctrl while you click
them.
✦ To select a column of cells, click the alphabetic heading button at the
top of the column.
✦ To select a row of cells, click the numeric heading button at the left of
the row, or press and hold Shift while pressing the arrow keys.
You can also select a graphic by clicking it once. Table 3-2 illustrates how to
select cells from the keyboard.
Table 3-2
Cell Selection Shortcut Keys in Excel
Key
Selection
Ctrl+spacebar
Selects all cells in the current column
Shift+spacebar
Selects all cells in the current row
Ctrl+A
Selects all cells in a worksheet
Shift+←
Selects one cell or column to the left (depending on the
current selection)
Shift+→
Selects one cell or column to the right (depending on the current selection)
Shift+↑
Selects one cell or row above (depending on the current
selection)
Shift+↓
Selects one cell or row below (depending on the current
selection)
Of course, you can also use your mouse or keyboard to select existing data
in a cell:
✦ With your mouse, double-click the cell, and it again changes into a textediting box. You can then click and drag to select characters for editing,
just like you do in Word.
✦ From the keyboard, select a cell and then press F2. You can use the keys
and shortcuts shown in Table 3-3 to select the contents for editing.
Editing cell contents
After you select the desired data, you can choose an action from the toolbars or the menu system or use one of the editing keyboard shortcuts (also
shown in Table 3-3).
Working with Numbers and Dates
Table 3-3
435
Cell Editing Shortcut Keys in Excel
Selection
Shift+←
Selects one character to the left of the cursor
Shift+→
Selects one character to the right of the cursor
Shift+End
Selects characters to the end of the text
Shift+Home
Selects characters to the beginning of the text
Any character
Replaces the selected text
Alt+Enter
Starts a new line within the same cell
Delete
Deletes the selected text or the character to the right of the
insertion cursor
Ctrl+Delete
Deletes the text to the end of the line
Ctrl+X
Cuts the selection and places it in the Clipboard (or the Office
Clipboard, if it’s displayed)
Ctrl+C
Copies the selection to the Clipboard (or the Office Clipboard, if
it’s displayed)
Ctrl+V
Replaces the selection with the contents of the Clipboard
Esc
Cancels the edits made to a cell
Working with Numbers and Dates
Excel includes the font formatting basics on the standard Office Formatting
toolbar — which I cover in a bit — but you also need to familiarize yourself
with a different type of formatting that’s unique to spreadsheet, statistical,
and financial applications. It’s called number formatting, and it controls the
appearance of all sorts of numbers, including
✦ Dollar amounts
✦ Dates
✦ Times
✦ Telephone numbers
✦ ZIP codes
✦ Social Security numbers
The characteristics that specify a particular number format include
✦ The number of decimal places that appear
✦ The notation that represents negative numbers (a minus sign or
parentheses)
Putting Excel
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Key
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Working with Numbers and Dates
✦ Whether a comma placeholder separator appears in the numbers
✦ Whether a number carries a dollar sign or a percent sign
Excel provides a whopping 11 different number formatting categories. Or, if
you like, you can go a little wild and create your own custom format that can
be applied whenever necessary.
To specify a number format, follow these steps:
1. Select the cells that you want to format.
2. Choose Format➪Cells or press Ctrl+1 to make Excel display the
Format Cells dialog box that you see in Figure 3-3.
Figure 3-3:
Apply
number
formats to
selected
cells here.
By default, Excel uses the General format for cells, which basically
means they have no specialized number format at all.
3. On the Number tab, click the formatting category that you need. For
example, if you’re working with dates, click Date.
Excel displays the different format types for the category that you select
as well as a sample of how the formatted numbers will appear.
4. If you need number formatting for a specific geographic location,
click the Locale drop-down list box and pick the right spot on the
planet.
This field might not appear for some format types.
Working with Rows and Columns
437
5. Click the type of formatting that you need from the Type list.
Again, this field might not appear for some format types.
By the way, the General number format often works for a simple whole
number. Excel displays up to 11 digits, but a decimal counts as a digit; so,
for example, the numeral 11.11 actually counts as five digits. Excel then uses
scientific notation for values over 11 digits (or those too big to fit in the
cell). I don’t know about you, but my puny budget doesn’t even begin to
strain 11 digits.
Working with Rows and Columns
I won’t lie to you; every Excel worksheet is a haven for rows and columns.
(No big surprise there.) However, you’re definitely not constrained to the
default arrangement of cells, and you can even insert rows and columns in
an existing worksheet if necessary. In this section, I show you how to take
charge of your troops.
Resizing rows and columns
Changing the dimensions of any row or column is easy — and often a
requirement when adding a longer line of text or when you need to display
multiple lines of text in a cell.
To resize, follow these steps:
1. Move the mouse pointer on top of either divider line at the desired
row or column heading.
The mouse pointer turns into a bar with opposing arrows to indicate
that you’re in the right spot.
2. Click and drag to reposition the dividing line (see how this looks in
Figure 3-4).
To make the job easier, Excel displays a pop-up menu that tells you the
new height (for rows) or width (for columns).
3. Release the mouse button when the row or column is at the desired
dimension.
Putting Excel
to Work
6. Click OK to apply the formatting and return to your worksheet.
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Working with Rows and Columns
Figure 3-4:
Resizing
rows and
columns is
a cinch.
Inserting blank cells
You can plug new blank cells into a worksheet at any point. Follow these
steps:
1. Select a range of cells.
Note: You have to select the same number of cells that you want to
insert. For example, if you want to insert two cells at a point in your
worksheet, you should select two cells at that location.
2. Choose Insert➪Cells.
Excel displays the Insert dialog box, as shown in Figure 3-5.
Figure 3-5:
Preparing to
insert a
passel
o’ cells.
Working with Rows and Columns
439
3. Choose which direction the selected cells will move by selecting
either the Shift Cells Right or the Shift Cells Down radio button.
4. Click OK.
Inserting cells from the Clipboard
You can also insert cells with what you’ve cut or copied from another spot.
Follow these steps:
1. Cut or copy the desired cells by using the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+X
or Ctrl+C, respectively.
2. Select the cell at the upper left of the desired location.
3. Choose Insert➪Cut Cells/Copied Cells.
These menu items appear immediately after you cut or copy cells.
Excel displays the Insert Paste dialog box (see Figure 3-6).
Figure 3-6:
Inserting
cells that
I’ve copied.
4. Select either the Shift Cells Right or the Shift Cells Down radio button
to determine which direction Excel will move the adjoining cells.
5. Click OK.
Inserting rows and columns
To insert one or more rows or columns in your worksheet, follow these
steps:
1. Click any cell in the row below (or the column to the right) of the
desired spot.
Inserting multiple rows or columns works just like inserting multiple
cells: You need to select the same number of rows or columns that you
want to insert.
Putting Excel
to Work
Alternatively, select the Entire Row or the Entire Column radio button to
shift the row or column, respectively, containing the selected cells.
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Formatting in Excel
2. To insert rows, choose Insert➪Rows.
3. To insert columns, choose Insert➪Columns.
Formatting in Excel
Excel includes the standard font formatting that you expect from an Office
application, but you’ll also find that you can modify a number of unique
attributes for cells, rows, and columns. In this section, I explore the basic
formatting tricks that you can pull.
Font formatting
Like Word, you can easily apply the Big Three font attributes from either the
toolbar or a keyboard shortcut:
✦ Bold: Press Ctrl+B to add emphasis to a selected cell’s contents.
✦ Italic: Press Ctrl+I to italicize a selected cell’s contents.
✦ Underline: Press Ctrl+U to underline a selected cell’s contents.
To apply other font attributes to selected cells, choose Format➪Cells to display
the Format Cells dialog box. Then click the Font tab to display the standard font
settings that you see in Figure 3-7. They include the font family, size, color, and
standard effects.
Figure 3-7:
Excel
provides
all sorts
of font fun.
Formatting in Excel
441
Cell alignment
Click the Alignment tab on the Format Cells dialog box, and you see the
settings in Figure 3-8. Here you can
✦ Specify the indent for the contents of a cell.
✦ Modify the orientation of cells — hey, dig those crazy angles!
✦ Choose to wrap text to fit cell dimensions or shrink the text to fit the
size of the cell.
✦ Change the right-to-left/left-to-right direction of text in the cell.
Unless you specify otherwise, Excel always aligns numbers, dates, and times
to the right of a cell. Negative numbers are preceded by a minus sign or are
enclosed with parentheses; a single period is recognized as a decimal point.
By default, text is displayed as left aligned within a cell.
Figure 3-8:
Modify the
alignment
attributes of
selected
cells here.
Changing borders and shading
Need to add a kick to certain cells to make them stand out, like a heading or
a total? Click the Border tab on the Format Cells dialog box to display the
settings shown in Figure 3-9. From this tab, you can
✦ Choose a line style and color.
✦ Specify no border, a standard outline border, or an inside grid.
✦ Design a custom border by using the buttons. (Excel displays the effects
of your work in the Border preview window.)
Putting Excel
to Work
✦ Change the horizontal and vertical alignment of the characters in
selected cells.
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The Basics of Excel Formulas
Figure 3-9:
Modify cell
borders
here.
Click the Patterns tab to display the color selector that you see in Figure 3-10.
You can choose just a color or combine a color with a pattern by clicking the
Pattern drop-down list box. Excel displays a sample block to illustrate the
effect that you create.
Figure 3-10:
Can I do
plaid?
The Basics of Excel Formulas
Okay, talking about spreadsheet formulas might give you the creeps. (I know
that they’re not a favorite topic around my dinner table.) However, it’s
important to understand how to enter formulas correctly in Excel, or you’ll
end up with a lot of cells stuffed full of data and nothing else.
The Basics of Excel Formulas
443
Examples of simple formulas include
✦ =A1–125: This instructs Excel to subtract 125 from the value in cell A1.
✦ =C9/B4: This instructs Excel to divide the value in cell C9 by the value in
cell B4.
See? All that math that you studied was worth it! Formulas always include at
least one operator as well, which in the previous examples are the minus
sign (–) and the division sign (/).
Excel calculates formulas in sequence from left to right following the equal
sign (just like you and I were taught in school). However, you might need to
force a calculation to be performed out of order within a formula, and you
can do it with parentheses. To illustrate, I expand on the original example:
=50*(A1–125)
Without the parentheses, the contents of cell A1 would be multiplied by 50
first, and then 125 would be subtracted from that total. With the parentheses, however, Excel first subtracts 125 from the value in A1 and then multiplies that total by 50.
To insert a formula in a cell, follow these steps:
1. Click in the cell that should hold the formula.
It will also display the calculated value, so this is usually the cell that
will display a total or the final value.
2. Type an equal sign (=) to alert Excel that you’re going to enter a
formula.
3. Type the remainder of the formula and then press Enter.
You can also click your mouse pointer in the Formula Bar and enter the formula there. As you can see in Figure 3-11, the Formula Bar always displays
any formula that you enter in the selected cell.
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A single cell in a worksheet can hold constants — like text or numbers that
you type into a cell yourself — or formulas, which perform calculations
based on the contents of specific cells and ranges of cells. Formulas in Excel
start with an equal sign (=), so they’re easy to spot. Also, a formula typically
includes a cell reference, like F3 (which stands for the current value in the
cell located at column F, row 3).
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The Basics of Excel Formulas
If you change a number in a cell that’s used in a formula, the value of the cell
containing the formula is automatically changed to reflect the new number.
For example, suppose that I add the formula
=A1+B1
in cell C1 of my trusty worksheet. If I put the number 1 in cell A1 and the
number 5 in cell B1, cell C1 will show . . . anyone? Yes, you there . . . that’s
right! Cell C1 will contain the number 6. However, if I change the number in
A1 to 3, C1 is automatically updated with the number 8 because the formula
will now calculate 3 + 5 and return the number 8.
To enter the same formula into a range of cells, select the cells, type the formula, and then press Ctrl+Enter. (This is great for those repetitive worksheets that calculate the performance of players on a team or a salesman in
a department.)
Formula bar
Figure 3-11:
You can
enter or
check a
formula in
the Formula
bar.
The Basics of Excel Formulas
445
If you don’t see a solution in the General Templates that are installed with
Excel, click the Templates on Microsoft.com link on the taskbar — you’ll
need an Internet connection, of course. Excel automatically loads the
Template Gallery on the Office XP Web site, which contains dozens of templates for all sorts of Excel projects. They’re all free, ready for your downloading pleasure.
Figure 3-12:
Save time
with Excel
templates.
For example, you’ll find all sorts of task-oriented Excel templates that were
specifically created to help with chores such as
✦ Remodeling your kitchen
✦ Maintaining a checkbook register
✦ Tracking stock values and quotes
✦ Billing clients and customers
✦ Keeping an allergy log
✦ Planning a baby shower
✦ Generating a grocery list
I told you that this program was versatile!
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With just the simple basics that I outline in this section, you can build a
home budget or a mortgage calculator. But then again, why not use the builtin templates provided by Excel? Click General Templates on the Excel task
pane, click the Spreadsheet Solutions tab to open the panel that you see in
Figure 3-12, and then double-click the desired template icon to create a new
worksheet, complete with snappy formatting, predesigned formulas, and
built-in instructions!
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Working with Graphics in Excel
Excel also offers another other important resource that you can use when
pondering formulas: the Excel Help system. And it’s but a click away of the
question mark toolbar icon. To search for a specific need — such as calculating the days remaining before a date — type a short question or phrase
into the Answer Wizard box, like count down days before xx, and then
press Enter. To see the list of commonly used formulas, type the word formula into the Answer Wizard box and then click Examples of Commonly
Used Formulas in the topic list on the left.
Of course, formulas (and their siblings, functions, which are predefined formulas that use arguments taken from cell values) can get very hairy very
quickly. (There’s a lot more to do with a powerful spreadsheet than just add
two numbers together.) Because I have limited elbow room here, I must
move on. However, I can recommend the bestselling Excel 2002 For
Dummies, by Greg Harvey, for a complete tour of everything Excel. It’s by
Wiley Publishing, Inc., naturally.
Working with Graphics in Excel
Your worksheets aren’t limited to text. Like any other Office XP application,
you can import pictures with aplomb. Click the cell at the upper-left corner
of where the graphic should be located, and then
✦ Paste it from the Clipboard. After you copy an image into the Clipboard
by pressing Ctrl+C, you can press Ctrl+V to paste the graphic into your
worksheet from your Windows or Office Clipboard.
✦ Insert it from a file. To insert a graphic file from your hard drive, choose
Insert➪Picture➪From File and then navigate to the location of the image.
Click the filename once to select it and then click the Insert button.
✦ Insert a clip art image. Choose Insert➪Picture➪Clip Art to display the
Clip Art panel. Type a keyword in the Search text box, click the Search
In drop-down list box, and then choose All Collections. Click Search to
display thumbnail images of any matching clip art. When you find the
image that you’re looking for, click it to insert it into your worksheet.
✦ Scan or download an image. Choose Insert➪Picture➪From Scanner or
Camera to acquire an image directly from your scanner or camera. Your
scanner or camera manual will include information on what settings are
available when acquiring an image.
As you can see in Figure 3-13, Excel doesn’t give a hoot about limiting an
inserted graphic to specific cells, rows, or columns. Just use the resizing
handles around the border of the image (also visible in Figure 3-13) to
change the dimensions of the image. Click and drag a handle to expand or
contract the image. To move the image, click in the middle of the image and
drag it any which way.
Adding a Chart
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Figure 3-13:
No rows or
columns
can hold
this tiger!
Adding a Chart
Another hit among the Excel crowd are charts, which can present your precious data in the easy-to-digest fashion that we all crave in our digi-frenetic,
Internet-straddled, talking-head world. (Easy, Mark. Sorry about that.)
Social commentary aside, you have two choices for displaying charts:
✦ A separate chart sheet within the current workbook: Your chart gets
its own fantabulous tab — pun gleefully intended, seeing as how I’m
strung out on Diet Coke — and you can display it at any time, just like
any other worksheet.
✦ An embedded object within a worksheet: The chart acts like a picture,
to be relocated and resized just like any other graphic.
No matter which type of chart you decide to use, your journey begins with
the Excel Chart Wizard. Follow these steps to add a chart:
448
Adding a Chart
1. Select the cells containing the data you want to include in the chart
(with column and row labels, if you’ve created any).
2. Choose Insert➪Chart, which displays the first screen of the Chart
Wizard, as shown in Figure 3-14.
Figure 3-14:
The Chart
Wizard is in
the house.
3. Click the desired chart type from the list on the left.
The wizard updates the sub-type thumbnails on the right. (No need to
stick with the boring column, bar, or line chart . . . try a cone or pyramid
or even a doughnut chart! Mmm . . . doughnuts.)
4. Keep refining the chart or accept it as is.
• Click Next to continue to the second wizard screen.
or
• Click Finish to use the default values, and the chart is created as
an embedded graphic in your worksheet.
To display a thumbnail preview of how your chart will look with the
selected sub-type, click and hold the Press and Hold to View Sample
button.
5. Click Next on the second wizard screen.
Because I’ve already selected a range, Excel has filled in the data range.
Adding a Chart
449
6. Add a title and label your axis on the third wizard screen or relocate
the legend (as you can see in Figure 3-15) or hide it completely and
add labels for specific values on the chart.
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Figure 3-15:
Add legend
filigree to
your chart.
7. Click Next to continue.
8. The final Chart Wizard screen (as shown in Figure 3-16) prompts you
for the Big Decision: whether you want your chart created as a separate sheet (with the name that you specify) or whether you want it created as an embedded graphic in any current sheet in your workbook
(which you can choose from the drop-down As Object In list box).
Figure 3-16:
So which
type of chart
will it be?
9. After you select the type of chart, click Finish, and the wizard will
generate it for you.
Figure 3-17 illustrates a chart sheet that I created within a workbook.
450
Linking Cells
Figure 3-17:
A
completed
chart in
sheet form.
Linking Cells
Another powerful feature that’s a big favorite with Excel power users is the
ability to link values. That is, when one value changes in one of the worksheets, it’s automatically updated when you display the other worksheet!
For example, if cell A1 is linked to cell E3 on a worksheet, whatever value
you place in cell A1 automatically appears in cell E3.
To create a link between cells on the same worksheet, follow these steps:
1. Select the cell that contains the data that you want to link to another
cell.
2. Press Ctrl+C or click the Copy button on the Standard toolbar.
3. Click the cell that you want to link to and then press Ctrl+V to paste
the value.
Note that Excel displays a pop-up icon next to the cell when you press
Ctrl+V.
4. Click the pop-up icon to display the menu that you see in Figure 3-18
and then select the Link Cells radio button.
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451
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Figure 3-18:
Link cells
from the
Paste popup menu.
Adding Headers and Footers
When printing a worksheet, headers and footers can contain quite a bit of
valuable identifying information. And that’s from someone who has waded
through a year’s supply of printed personnel worksheets from a mid-sized
company.
To add headers and footers to the active worksheet, follow these steps:
1. Choose View➪Header and Footer to display the Header/Footer pane
of the Page Setup dialog box (see Figure 3-19).
2. Click the Header drop-down list box and choose a predesigned
header.
3. Click the Footer drop-down list and choose a footer.
4. Click OK to save your changes and return to the worksheet.
452
Printing Your Worksheets
Figure 3-19:
Add
standard
headers and
footers to a
worksheet
here.
Click the Custom Header or the Custom Footer button to get all artistic and
design your own header or footer format (check it out in Figure 3-20). Click to
place the insertion cursor in the proper section — the left, center, or right section of the design — and then click the template buttons to insert the preformatted element(s) that you want to add, like the time or date. (You can also
type your own text instead of using a template.) When your header or footer
is set up as you like, click OK to return to the Page Setup dialog box.
Figure 3-20:
Create a
custom
header and
footer here.
Printing Your Worksheets
When you’re ready to print the active worksheet (or worksheets, if you have
more than one workbook open) in Excel, take a moment to use the Print
Preview feature. Choose File➪Print Preview or click the Print Preview
button on the Standard toolbar.
Printing Your Worksheets
453
To print without the cell grid, choose File➪Page Setup and then click the
Sheet tab of the Page Setup dialog box. Clear the Gridlines check box to disable it. (You can also choose to turn off the row and column headings from
this panel.)
After you’re satisfied that you’ll get what you expect, use one of these methods to start the printing process:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. This immediately prints the entire active worksheet(s) from the printer’s default
settings.
✦ Choose File➪Print. This displays the Print dialog box that you see in
Figure 3-21. From here, you can select from multiple printers, print multiple copies, or print only specific pages from the worksheet. Click the
Properties button to set any printer-specific options supported by the
printer’s Windows XP software driver. When you’re ready, click the Print
button.
Figure 3-21:
The Excel
Print dialog
box.
✦ Press Ctrl+P. This method also displays the Print dialog box.
✦ Click the Print button of the Page Setup dialog box. This displays the
Print dialog box as well.
You can also print selected cells/rows/columns or the entire workbook at
once. From the Print dialog box, select either the Selection or the Entire
Workbook radio button.
Putting Excel
to Work
To print the contents of certain cells in your worksheet, select the cells first
before you open the Print dialog box and then enable the Selection radio
button on the Print dialog box.
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Book V: Office XP
Chapter 4: Performing
with PowerPoint
In This Chapter
Working with the PowerPoint window
Changing views in PowerPoint
Importing and inserting slides
Adding text and graphics
Using templates and schemes
Adding movies and sound to slides
Creating a slide show
Choosing transitions between slides
Printing in PowerPoint
Using Pack and Go
N
eed a slide show? How about a set of professional-looking transparencies for that overhead projector? Have no fear; Microsoft PowerPoint
is here! PowerPoint has always been easy to use, but with the XP version,
you have even more graphically gorgeous templates to use, and the ability
to add movies, and transitions, and CD-quality audio, and . . . whoops, I’m
getting a little ahead of myself.
In this chapter, I provide you with the basics of PowerPoint — you’ll find out
how to accomplish the most common tasks. If you’re brand-spanking new to
the program, you see how to spice up that blank slide with text and graphics, and I also show you the power user keyboard shortcuts to use in
PowerPoint. If you’re already familiar with the PowerPoint window, you also
find out how to create a Pack and Go package — no, I’m not kidding, that’s
what it’s called — and add all sorts of spiffy transitions to your slide shows.
Get ready to find out why so many PC owners of all ages love PowerPoint!
Getting Your Bearings in PowerPoint
You can run PowerPoint in a number of different ways:
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Getting Your Bearings in PowerPoint
✦ Choose Start➪All Programs➪Microsoft PowerPoint.
✦ Double-click the PowerPoint shortcut on your desktop (or your Quick
Launch bar, if you’ve added an icon there).
✦ If you’re using the Office shortcut bar, click the PowerPoint icon.
✦ Press Win+R, type powerpnt in the Run dialog box that appears, and
then press Enter. (This assumes that your keyboard is equipped with
Windows keys, which look like waving Windows flags and are located on
either side of the space bar.)
When you first run PowerPoint, the application’s main window looks
remarkably simple (as shown in Figure 4-1), but you’ll quickly find that this
program is no pushover. The digital-and-silicon equivalent of a ’69 Dodge
Charger is lurking behind the curtain!
In lieu of formal introductions, here’s a quick guide to what you see
onscreen:
✦ The menu: Typical in every respect.
✦ The toolbar: Another familiar old friend. Clicking a toolbar button performs the same action as selecting the corresponding menu command.
If a small double-arrow icon pointing to the right appears at the end of a
toolbar, all the icons on the toolbar can’t be displayed at the current
window size; just click the arrows to display the additional icons. You
can also choose which toolbars are displayed: Choose View➪Toolbars
and then click the toolbar that you want to toggle on or off.
You can relocate toolbars just about anywhere in the PowerPoint
window. Move your mouse pointer to either end of a toolbar and then
click and drag when the pointer turns into a four-direction cursor. A
nomadic toolbar can be relocated to any side of the screen, or you can
pull it into the editing window to make it a floating toolbar. In Figure 4-1,
for example, my Drawing toolbar is located at the bottom of the screen.
To customize a toolbar, click the down-arrow button at the toolbar’s
end, click Add or Remove Buttons, and then click the name of the toolbar. PowerPoint displays a pop-up menu with a list of all the buttons on
that toolbar, and from there you can enable or disable the check box
next to a button name to show it or hide it.
✦ The editing window: You design your slides here, adding graphics and
text and moving slide elements around the layout guide. The editing
window also does double-duty in other view modes, which I discuss
in a bit.
✦ The ruler: Get a grip on dimensions. You can also use the ruler as a
guide when placing objects on your slides.
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Slide pane
Outline pane
The ruler
Menu
Task pane
Figure 4-1:
PowerPoint
is a
graphical
muscle car
. . . really!
Status line
Notes pane
Editing window
Normal view
Slide Sorter view
Run Slide Show
✦ The Slide and Outline panes: Click on either tab to switch between a
numbered thumbnail display of the slides in your presentation (the
Slide pane) or a display of the text on each slide in outline format (the
Outline pane). The Slide pane helps you navigate quickly — you can
simply click on a thumbnail to jump to that slide — and the Outline
pane helps you organize your presentation.
You can also click the vertical scroll bar in the editing window to move
through the slides in your presentation.
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Toolbars
458
Changing Views
✦ The Task pane: Here, PowerPoint displays a selection of its most
common tasks. You can hide the Task pane to make more room within
the editing window by choosing View➪Task Pane. (Another click on the
same menu item displays the Task pane again.)
✦ The status line: Like other Office applications, PowerPoint’s got one of
these, too. It displays information about your current view as well as
information relating to the currently selected slide or pane.
Each of the panes within the PowerPoint window can be adjusted. For example, if you don’t need the Slide pane at the moment, move the mouse pointer
over the border between the Slide pane and the editing window until it turns
into those nifty opposing arrows, and then click and drag to enlarge the editing window.
Changing Views
You can view the PowerPoint application window in a number of different
views. In this section, I give you the details on the ones that you’ll use most
often.
Normal view
Normal view, which is the default in PowerPoint, is the best view for adding
and editing text and graphic objects. You can display your slides in Normal
view by choosing View➪Normal or by clicking the Normal View button at the
lower-left corner of the PowerPoint window (above the status line). ’Nuff said.
Need to see what your elegant color slides will look like when printed on a
monochrome laser printer? Choose View➪Color/Grayscale and then choose
Grayscale (With Shading) or stark Black and White. When you and Toto are
done, return to the land of Oz by choosing Color from the same menu.
Slide Sorter view
Figure 4-2 illustrates Slide Sorter view, where the slides in your presentation
are arranged in a larger, easier-to-see format. It’s not just the scenery that’s
important, however: You can also click and drag thumbnails to move them
and reorder the flow of your presentation. You can also right-click a slide to
delete it or to add a completely new slide (a great thing when you’ve forgotten to include something).
To switch to Slide Sorter view, choose View➪Slide Sorter or click the Slide
Sorter View button at the lower-left corner of the PowerPoint window.
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Figure 4-2:
Watch
closely,
folks. The
Slide Sorter
is quicker
than the
eye.
Notes Page view
Choose View➪Notes Page to view a full-size layout for your Notes pages
(which I discuss later in the chapter), as shown in Figure 4-3. The top portion of the Notes page contains the corresponding slide from your presentation. From this view, you can edit the text in your Notes pages just like you
edit the text boxes in your slides (as opposed to the Notes pane, which is
somewhat cramped if you have a large number of notes to enter for a slide).
Slide Show view
Oh, no — this is not your Aunt Harriet’s idea of a slide show. (“Enough with
the beach pictures, Harry!”) Instead, this displays a PowerPoint slide show
using the slides from the open presentation. I cover slide shows later in the
section “Building and Running a Slide Show,” so hang tight.
To activate the Slide Show view, choose View➪Slide Show, press F5, or click
the Slide Show View button at the lower-left corner of the PowerPoint
window. (Note that this runs the show from the current slide, so you won’t
see any preceding slides.)
460
Creating Slides
Figure 4-3:
Use Notes
Page view
to put the
spotlight on
your notes.
Creating Slides
As a personal favor to you, PowerPoint creates a new, blank first slide each
time that you start the program (or each time that you create a new presentation, by either using the Blank Presentation command in the Task pane or
by clicking the New button on the Standard toolbar).
To add a new slide to a presentation, follow these steps:
1. If you already have a number of slides in the presentation, click an
existing slide in the Slide pane.
The new slide is inserted after the selected slide.
If you have only one slide, the new slide is appended at the end. Go
figure.
2. Choose Insert➪New Slide or click the New Slide button on the
Formatting toolbar.
Or, for a real treat, right-click the Slide pane and then choose New Slide
from the pop-up menu that appears. Or heck, you can even press
Ctrl+M. Geez, Microsoft, do you think we have enough options here?
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461
PowerPoint adds the new slide to the Slide pane and displays it in the
editing window.
Have you got existing slides in your presentation that you’d like to use as
the model for new slides? No problem! Instead of creating blank slides from
scratch, PowerPoint allows you to duplicate one or more existing slides as
well. Click the slides that you want to duplicate in the Slide pane (hold down
Ctrl while clicking to select multiple slides) and then choose Insert➪Duplicate
Slide menu item. After the new slide(s) appear, you can move them individually within the Outline or Slide panes by dragging them to their new home.
(And when the slides are moved, they are automatically renumbered.)
If you need to wax a slide, right-click it in the Slide pane and then choose
Delete Slide from the contextual menu that appears. It’s a goner. Again,
renumbering is automatic.
Inserting slides
If you have another PowerPoint presentation with slides that you need for
your current project, you can insert them by following these steps:
1. Click a slide in the Slide pane where the inserted slides should
appear.
An inserted slide appears after the slide that you click in the Slide pane.
2. Choose Insert➪Slides from Files to display the Slide Finder dialog
box that you see in Figure 4-4.
3. Click the Browse button.
PowerPoint displays a standard Windows Browse dialog box.
4. Navigate to the folder containing the existing PowerPoint presentation, click the file to select it, and then click Open.
5. Click Insert All to insert all the slides in the file.
6. To pick one or more slides, click the thumbnail(s) representing the
desired slides to select them (a gray border appears around selected
slides) and then click the Insert button.
7. Click Close to return to your presentation.
Performing with
PowerPoint
Note: Each slide is given a sequential number as you add it, which
comes in handy, such as when you want to print only certain slides.
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Figure 4-4:
You can
easily
import
slides from
another
presentation.
Inserting a document
You can also insert the contents of a Word document directly into your
slides as an outline. This is a great option for those who need to pull the text
for a presentation from an existing document, like a student who needs to
provide both a written assignment and a PowerPoint presentation on the
same material.
Follow these steps to insert a document:
1. Click a slide in the Outline pane where the inserted text should
appear.
2. Choose Insert➪Slides from Outline.
PowerPoint displays the Insert Outline dialog box.
3. Navigate to the location of the document and then click the filename
to highlight it.
4. Click the Insert button.
Naturally, you get the best results if the document that you’re inserting is
written in outline form, but I’ve found that PowerPoint does a surprisingly
good job importing just about any kind of Word document.
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text
After you create a blank slide — or insert slides from an existing PowerPoint
presentation, or perhaps insert text from a Word document — you’re ready
to type and edit text. Luckily, this section is about exactly that.
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463
Adding text
While you type, the text is updated on the thumbnail in the Slide pane, and
the text is also displayed in the Outline pane.
You can also edit text in a slide directly from the Outline pane. Just click and
drag to select the text that you want to change and then type to replace it.
Moving within text fields
Table 4-1 provides the movement shortcuts that you can use while typing
text in a PowerPoint field.
Figure 4-5:
Preparing to
type within
a text box.
Performing with
PowerPoint
You’ve probably already noticed the huge Click to add xx prompts all
over your slides. Reminds me a little of Alice in Wonderland, with little slides
running around your feet bearing signs that read Click Me! Anyway, things
couldn’t get much easier. Just click the text, and PowerPoint erases it and displays an insertion cursor just like the one in Microsoft Word (see Figure 4-5).
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Table 4-1
Text Field Movement Keys in PowerPoint
Key
Movement
Left arrow (←)
Moves the cursor one character to the left
Right arrow (→)
Moves the cursor one character to the right
Up arrow (↑)
Moves the cursor to the preceding line
Down arrow (↓)
Moves the cursor to the next line
End
Moves the cursor to the end of the current line
Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line
Ctrl+←
Moves the cursor one word to the left
Ctrl+→
Moves the cursor one word to the right
Ctrl+↑
Moves the cursor one paragraph up
Ctrl+↓
Moves the cursor one paragraph down
Ctrl+Home
Moves the cursor to the beginning of the text box
Ctrl+End
Moves the cursor to the end of the text box
Ctrl+Return
Moves to the next title or body text entry box
To switch between titles or body text entry boxes with your mouse, click
once on the box that you want to edit. You can add a text box by choosing
Insert➪Text Box.
Selecting text and objects
After you enter text editing mode, you have a number of keyboard shortcuts
at your disposal for selecting text that needs to be changed. Table 4-2 provides these selection keys as well as selection shortcuts for slide objects.
Table 4-2
Text Field and Object Selection Keys in PowerPoint
Key
Selection
Shift+←
Selects one character to the left of the cursor
Shift+→
Selects one character to the right of the cursor
Shift+↑
Selects characters to the previous line
Shift+↓
Selects characters to the next line
Ctrl+Shift+←
Selects characters to the beginning of the word
Ctrl+Shift+→
Selects characters to the end of the word
Tab
Selects the next object
Shift+Tab
Selects the previous object
Ctrl+A
Selects all objects, slides, or text (depending on your view)
Typing, Selecting, and Editing Text
465
You can also get the mouse into the selection act: Double-click a word in a
text box to select it, and you can select multiple objects on a slide by holding down Shift and then clicking each object.
From the keyboard, you can use the shortcuts shown in Table 4-3 to play
Frankenstein with the contents of a text box.
Table 4-3
Text Field Selection Keys in PowerPoint
Key
Function
Any character
Replaces the selected text
Enter
Starts a new line
Delete
Deletes the selected text or object
Ctrl+X
Deletes the selection and places it in the Clipboard (or the
Office Clipboard, if it’s displayed)
Ctrl+C
Copies the selection to the Clipboard (or the Office Clipboard, if
it’s displayed)
Ctrl+V
Replaces the selection with the contents of the Clipboard
You can choose Format➪Font to display the Font dialog box (as shown in
Figure 4-6). And from there, you can add all sorts of attributes, change the font
family or font size, and determine the color of the text. The Formatting toolbar provides many of these same commands in convenient mouse-click form.
Moving slide elements
Naturally, the elements on your slide — text boxes and graphics — aren’t
embedded in cement. You can use your mouse or the keyboard to move
these elements to a different location around the slide.
✦ To move an element with the mouse: Click the object to select it (you
get that funky four-direction cursor again) and then drag it to the
desired spot. (For text boxes, click the frame. For graphics, click in the
center of the image.)
✦ To move an element with the keyboard: Press the Tab key to cycle
through the elements on the slide. After the desired item is selected,
press the arrow keys to move it. This is great when you need fine control over the placement of an object, but remember not to click a text
object. That puts you in edit mode, and as you can read in earlier parts
of this section, the cursor keys have different uses when you’re editing.
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Editing text
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Installing Graphics in Your Slides
Figure 4-6:
Change font
attributes in
PowerPoint
here.
Installing Graphics in Your Slides
No good presentation is complete without a dog or a pony — don’t ask me
why, I just work here. Add graphics to your slides to capture (and securely
hold) your audience’s attention. From personal experience of watching
many a boring presentation (thankfully, not my own), I can tell you that a
pure-text presentation will have your audience heading for a restroom
break in less than five minutes.
Follow these steps to add a graphic from your hard drive to a slide (or, if
you’re using Notes Page view, to your Notes page for the slide):
1. Click the desired slide in the Slide pane.
2. Choose Insert➪Picture➪From File.
PowerPoint displays — you guessed it — the Insert Picture dialog box.
3. Navigate to the folder where the image is stored and click that file to
select it.
4. Click the Insert button.
The image can be resized by clicking and dragging any of the circular handles arranged around the edges (check out the toast graphic in Figure 4-7),
or you can drag the entire image by clicking in its center and dragging the
graphic to its new home.
If you’re inserting an image that might be updated later — for example, a
graphic of your company’s stock price — click the down-arrow next to the
Insert button and then click Link to File instead, which will automatically
reload the image from disk each time that you display the slide in PowerPoint.
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Figure 4-7:
See those
handles?
Use ’em
whenever
necessary.
As always, an image can be pasted into your slide from either the Windows
Clipboard or the Office Clipboard. And yes, our old friend, the Clip Art pane,
is also available in PowerPoint! (Again, this is the beauty of an application
suite.) To insert clip art, choose Insert➪Picture➪Clip Art, choose the
graphic that you want, and then click the Insert button.
If your system has a scanner or digital camera connected to it, you can also
acquire an image directly into PowerPoint. Choose Insert➪Picture➪From
Scanner or Camera and adjust your scanner or camera’s settings as necessary. When the image is ready, it’s placed on the slide just as if you had
loaded it from disk.
Applying Templates and Schemes
Repeat after me: “Templates in PowerPoint are sassy things.” That’s because
a design template can change the entire appearance of your slides with just
a click or two of the mouse. Templates can control
468
Applying Templates and Schemes
✦ The position of the objects on your slides
✦ The background design
✦ The fonts and formatting used in text objects
✦ Animation effects
✦ The color scheme
Plus, a design template can be used at any time — even when you’ve got an
entire presentation’s worth of slides already built!
A scheme is a little less powerful than a template, but that’s on purpose. A
scheme applies just one aspect of a template, so you can apply a design that
you like and then change the colors in one fell swoop . . . or perhaps change
just the animations used in a slide show.
To apply a design template or scheme, follow these steps:
1. Click the Design button on the Formatting toolbar or choose
Format➪Slide Design.
PowerPoint opens the Slide Design pane that you see in Figure 4-8.
Figure 4-8:
Select a
design
template for
your slides.
Applying Templates and Schemes
469
2. Choose the type of template or scheme that you want to apply from
the three categories at the top of the Slide Design pane.
3. Apply the template or scheme.
• To apply the template or scheme to all the slides in your presentation, click the arrow next to the design thumbnail that you want to
use and then click the Apply to All Slides button.
• To apply the template or scheme to only certain slides in your
presentation, select them in the Slide pane, click the arrow next to
the desired design thumbnail, and then click the Apply to Selected
Slides button.
If you’re applying an animation scheme, click the Apply to All Slides
button at the bottom of the pane.
PowerPoint immediately updates your presentation with the new design
(like the spiffy one shown in Figure 4-9), so you can either approve or disapprove on the spot. Feel free to try on all sorts of new looks. Microsoft won’t
charge you for the privilege (at least for now).
Figure 4-9:
I must have
gone to art
school to
produce
that, right?
Performing with
PowerPoint
You can select a design template, a color scheme for your current
design, or an animation scheme for your slide show. (More on slide
shows later in the chapter.)
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Entering Notes
Entering Notes
Notes are a handy tool, allowing you to jot down reminders and information
about a slide (without those notes actually appearing on the slide itself).
Many folks also print the contents of the Notes pane as handouts — I show
you how to print them later in the chapter.
Although PowerPoint has support for more formal handouts, I’ve found that
the printed Notes pages (which, as I mention earlier, also boast the images
of the slides in your presentation) work just fine for distribution to your
audience.
To enter notes, just click in the Notes pane and begin typing (check out
Figure 4-10) or you can paste text directly into the pane. If you like, you can
also edit the notes for a slide from the Notes Page view, as I describe earlier
in the chapter. To add graphics to your Notes page, you must use Notes
Page view — and note that any graphics that you add in Notes Page view
are not visible in Normal view. To enlarge the Notes pane as I have in Figure
4-10, click the divider at the top of the Notes pane and drag it upward.
Figure 4-10:
Use the
Notes pane
to hold
those lastminute
reminders.
Using Movies and Sound
471
Using Movies and Sound
To add multimedia to a slide, follow these steps:
1. Click the desired slide in the Slide pane.
2. Choose Insert➪Movies and Sounds➪xx From File (where xx could be
either Movie or Sound) to display the ubiquitous, all-knowing Insert
Movie/Insert Sound dialog box.
3. Navigate to the folder where the image is stored and then click the
file to select it.
4. Click the Insert button.
PowerPoint will prompt you to decide whether the movie clip or audio
track should play automatically when the slide appears in a slide show
or whether it should be activated when you click it (see the prompt in
Figure 4-11).
Figure 4-11:
PowerPoint
can play a
clip or
sound automatically
or by your
leave.
5. To make the clip play automatically, click Yes.
Figure 4-12 illustrates both a movie and a sound clip inserted into a slide. To
play the movie clip within the editing window, right-click the clip and
choose Play Movie from the pop-up menu that appears. You can pause the
clip by clicking; stop it altogether by right-clicking it.
Performing with
PowerPoint
PowerPoint allows you to add video clips and audio to your slides.
Naturally, these won’t work too well with those presentations that use transparencies (no surprise there), but you’ll like the effect if you use a laptop
screen, monitor, or a liquid crystal display (LCD) projector!
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Movie clip
Audio icon
Figure 4-12:
A movie clip
and a
sound, hard
at work in a
PowerPoint
slide.
The sound icon appears on your slide like any other object. If you’ve added
a track from an audio CD (Insert➪Movies and Sounds➪Play CD Audio
Track), the icon changes to a CD-ROM. To play the movie or sound clip
within the editing window, right-click the clip and choose Play Movie or
sound from the pop-up menu that appears. You can pause the clip by clicking; stop it altogether by right-clicking it.
Although a movie object can be moved and resized just like a graphic, don’t
be surprised if expanding it by a large amount causes it to turn jaggy (roughedged). Movie clips (and even images in JPEG, bitmap, or TIFF format) are
created at a fixed dimension, and they might not look that good when
stretched like taffy.
Building and Running a Slide Show
As I mention earlier in the chapter, you can choose to view your presentation as a slide show whenever you like. Follow these steps to run your own
show:
Building and Running a Slide Show
473
1. Click the Slide Show View button above the status bar, choose Slide
Show➪View Show, or press F5.
2. Click the mouse button or press N (or Enter, or the right-arrow key) to
move to the next slide.
To move backwards to the previous slide, press P (or Backspace, or the
left-arrow key).
3. Click the mouse button on the final screen in your presentation to
return to the PowerPoint window or press Esc at any time to exit.
That’s the basic method of running a slide show. However, PowerPoint also
allows you to build a self-running show that needs no intervention — and
you can even choose to limit user input, which is a good feature in case
strange fingers hit the keyboard.
To create a self-running show from the open presentation, follow these steps:
1. Choose Slide Show➪Set Up Show to display the Set Up Show dialog
box that you see in Figure 4-13.
2. Select the Browsed at a Kiosk (Full Screen) radio button to enable it.
In kiosk mode, there are no controls or visible window, and the slide
show fills the entire screen.
Figure 4-13:
Preparing a
self-running
slide show.
Performing with
PowerPoint
PowerPoint takes control, switches to a full-screen display, and shows
the current slide in the presentation.
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3. Choose the slides that you want to display.
• To show ’em all, select the All radio button.
• To show a selection of slides, select the From/To radio button and
then enter the starting and ending slide numbers in the appropriate
fields; you can type the numbers directly in the boxes or use the up
and down buttons next to each box.
4. Select the Using Timings, If Present radio button.
This sets the slide show to advance slides automatically. Your viewers can
also click the mouse button to advance to the next slide, but everything
else is disabled in kiosk mode except the Esc key, which exits the show.
5. Select the Loop Continuously Until ‘Esc’ check box to enable it.
Your slide show will repeat endlessly until the Esc key is pressed.
6. Click OK to save your changes.
If your PC or laptop has a 3-D hardware-accelerated video card — and most
PCs built within the last two or three years do have one — selecting the Use
Hardware Graphics Acceleration check box is always a good idea. This can
greatly improve the speed and smoothness of your presentation.
To run your show, choose Slide Show➪View Show. I listed the basic slide
show control keys that you can use during a presentation in Table 4-4.
Table 4-4
Slide Show Control Keys in PowerPoint
Key
Function
slide number+Enter
Jump to a specific slide
W
Toggle the display of a white screen
B
Toggle the display of a black screen
S
Stop or restart an automatic slide show
Shift+F10
Display a shortcut menu
Ctrl+Shift+B
Start the slide show from the current slide
Ctrl+U
Hide onscreen controls and pointer in 15 seconds
Ctrl+H
Hide onscreen controls and pointer immediately
F1
Display the slide show control list
Making a Transition ’twixt Slides
475
Making a Transition ’twixt Slides
To add transitions to your slide show, follow these steps:
1. Switch to either the Normal or the Slide Sorter view.
I find this task much easier in Slide Sorter view.
2. If you want to apply a transition to selected slides, highlight all the
slides to be preceded by the same transition.
3. Choose Slide Show➪Slide Transition to display the Slide Transition
pane that you see in Figure 4-14 (or click the Transition button on the
Slide Sorter toolbar).
Figure 4-14:
Selecting
slide
transitions
is fun and
easy.
Performing with
PowerPoint
One way that you can add a little life to a long slide show is the inclusion
of transitions, which are animated effects that occur in between slides.
However, remember that a little goes a long way when it comes to transitions. You want your audience to pay attention to the content in your
presentation and not gawk at the visual spectacle of your transitions.
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4. Click a transition in the Apply to Selected Slides list to check it out.
As long as the AutoPreview check box is enabled at the bottom of the
Slide Transition pane, PowerPoint will give you a short animated preview of the effect.
5. Click the Speed drop-down list box to choose the speed of the effect
(slow, medium, or fast) — and believe me, fast in this case means
really, really fast!
To see the effect again, click the Play button at the bottom of the Slide
Transition pane.
6. To add sound to the transition, click the Sound drop-down list to see
your choices.
(I’ve gotta admit that the typewriter and the applause sounds are
favorites of mine, but you have to address the audience . . . the CEO of
your company might not approve.) To play the sound continuously until
the next slide that has another sound is up, select the Loop Until Next
Sound check box.
7. Decide whether the slide should advance with a mouse click (the
default) or whether it should advance automatically after a delay
period that you set.
Enable both, and you get the best of both worlds: A click works;
otherwise, the slide advances automatically.
8. To apply the same transition to all the slides in your show, click the
Apply to All Slides button.
Otherwise, you can close the Slide Transition pane when you’re done
assigning transitions.
Using Pack and Go
I know, I know, that sounds really weird. (Even the professionals in Redmond
can shrug their shoulders from time to time.) Anyway, you can use
PowerPoint’s Pack and Go feature to package a PowerPoint presentation to
run on another Windows PC. PowerPoint runs a wizard that magically condenses everything into one file, which is easier to copy or upload. (Consider
it one of those magic pills that grows into a dinosaur or a spaceman when
you drop it in water.)
“But what if my good friend doesn’t have a copy of Microsoft PowerPoint
installed?” Good question, and Microsoft has the answer: You can optionally
include a copy of the PowerPoint Viewer in your packaged presentation.
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477
To create a Pack and Go (urgh!) Presentation Package — or PGPP for short,
if you love ridiculous abbreviations to go with ridiculous names — follow
these steps:
a Zip disk) instead of to a folder on your system, load the media into
the drive.
3. Choose File➪Pack and Go to display the Pack and Go Wizard (as
shown in Figure 4-15), click Next to continue . . . and stop snickering!
Figure 4-15:
Preparing to
. . . well . . .
pack and
go.
4. On the next wizard screen (see Figure 4-16), you have the option of
including only the open presentation (the default) or picking other
presentations to put into the same package. When you’re finished
making your selection, click Next.
Figure 4-16:
Select the
presentations to
pack.
Performing with
PowerPoint
1. Open the presentation file that you want to package.
2. If you want to save the file to removable media (like a floppy disk or
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Using Pack and Go
Honest, I’m not doing this on purpose. If you want to ship multiple presentations, select the Other Presentation(s) check box to enable it and
then click the Browse button; this opens an Open dialog box, allowing
you to locate and select the other presentations.
5. The wizard asks you to specify the target location for the package. All
removable drives are listed, or you can click Choose Destination and
then click Browse to specify a folder on your hard drive. Click Next to
continue.
6. If you’ve included linked graphics or any even slightly unusual fonts
in your package, select both of these check boxes to include them
in your package (as shown in Figure 4-17) and then click Next to
continue.
Figure 4-17:
Always
include
linked files
and
TrueType
fonts.
I mention linked graphics earlier in the section “Installing Graphics in
Your Slides.” If you package a presentation that displays linked graphics, those images will either have to be on the destination PC (and in the
same exact folder structure), or you have to include them in your package file. Otherwise, the graphics won’t show up in those slides.
Take it from someone who’s done a lot of work with service bureaus:
Assume nothing, and always include linked files! (That’s why the Include
Linked Files check box is enabled by default.) However, you’re also
assuming that the destination PC has the same fonts. To make absolutely
sure that your presentation can be viewed on any PC running Windows,
I recommend that you also enable the Embed TrueType Fonts check box
as well.
7. The wizard screen shown in Figure 4-18 is where you can add the
Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer . . . or can you?
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479
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Performing with
PowerPoint
Figure 4-18:
You can
add the
PowerPoint
Presentation
Viewer.
If your PC doesn’t have the Viewer installed, you can’t add it to the
package — the Viewer for Microsoft Windows option is disabled — so
you have to click the Download the Viewer button, which opens Internet
Explorer to the proper page on the Microsoft Web site. (On that page,
just click Download on the right side of the page.) When the download
is finished, close the Internet Explorer window; now you can enable the
Viewer for Microsoft Windows option. Click Next to continue.
8. Click the Finish button to close the wizard and create your package.
When the package file is copied to the destination computer, double-click
it in Windows Explorer to unpack the files and then double-click the
PowerPoint Viewer to run it (or load PowerPoint on the destination PC
and open the presentation file as usual).
If you update your presentation, you must run the Pack and Go Wizard again
to repackage it. However, you can save it on the same drive or in the same
folder, and PowerPoint will prompt you for permission to overwrite the original package.
Printing Your Document
The final stop on the PowerPoint tour is the Print function. In addition to
your slides, you can also print several other types of documents, including
your Notes pages and any handouts that you’ve created.
Don’t forget that you can use Print Preview to verify how things look before
you print. (On the Standard toolbar, look for the icon that bears a document
with a magnifying glass.)
480
Printing Your Document
To print the slides from the entire presentation by using the default settings,
you can simply click the Print button on the Standard toolbar. However, if
you choose File➪Print (or press Ctrl+P), PowerPoint offers you quite a bit of
control over what gets printed and how it looks, as you can see in Figure 4-19.
From this dialog box, you can choose
Figure 4-19:
Preparing to
print in
PowerPoint.
✦ The printer to use
✦ The number of copies
✦ The documents to print (from the Print What drop-down list box)
✦ Color or grayscale (from the Color/Grayscale drop-down list box)
✦ Whether to surround your slides, Notes pages, and handouts with a
frame (the Frame Slides check box)
✦ Whether to print the entire presentation, specific pages, or a range of
pages
As I mention in other Office chapters in this mini-book, your printer’s software driver might offer additional settings. To display these settings, click
the Properties button next to the Name drop-down list box.
Chapter 5: Doing Database
Magic with Access
In This Chapter
Starting Access
Touring the Access window
Creating tables
Creating forms
Building a query
Printing your data
Using templates in Access
W
hat? You’ve never used Access? Don’t sweat it: There’s a good
reason why Access isn’t everyone’s bag of potato chips. Much like
Excel, Access can be more complex and harder than the average application
for the novice to use. Hence, the relative obscurity of Access compared with
Office applications like Word and PowerPoint. (Based on what I see in my
appearances at user group meetings, even Works Database is better known!)
However, Microsoft has done its best to help bring Access to the home
PC owner. Wizards abound, and the Access Help system is one of the most
extensive in the Office XP suite. (It’s no coincidence that the other standout
in the Help system is Microsoft Excel.) I’m happy to report that you can now
take care of basic Access chores — like building tables and forms — without
requiring a degree in particle physics. In this chapter, I introduce you to
those basics and show you how to keep track of really important data . . .
like your collection of porcelain chicken planters.
If you’re interested in taking the plunge and trying everything that Access
has to offer, I can heartily recommend the more comprehensive book Access
2002 For Dummies by John Kaufeld, by Wiley Publishing, Inc. He has the
elbow room to cover Access from one end of the menu to the other. You can
also pick up a copy of the helpful Access 2002 For Dummies Quick Reference,
by Alison Barrows — also by Wiley Publishing, Inc. A good working knowledge of Visual Basic and VBScript is a great help, too.
482
Running Access
Running Access
You can use any of the following methods to start Access:
✦ Double-click the Access shortcut on your desktop.
✦ Choose Start (or press a Windows key) and then choose All
Programs➪Microsoft Access. (The Windows keys, if you’re so blessed,
lurk on either side of the Alt keys on your keyboard.)
✦ Double-click an Access database or project file.
✦ If you’re using the Office shortcut bar, click the Access icon.
✦ Press and hold a Windows key on your keyboard while pressing R to
bring up the Run dialog box. Type msaccess in the Open text box and
then press Enter.
A Quick Tour of the Access Window
As you can see in Figure 5-1, the initial Access window looks somewhat
empty when you start the application by itself (without a data file). That’s
because the idea behind Access is to accept, store, display, and edit information in a free-form manner — and you can create your own look-and-feel
for the program.
Here’s a quick rundown of the elements within the Access window:
✦ The menu: This offers many of your Office XP favorites, like the Office
Clipboard on the Edit menu (which can hold any sort of Office data for
use within the Office XP application suite).
✦ The toolbars: Access is somewhat lean on the toolbars — only three of
’em — but the toolbar buttons can save you a dozen mouse clicks per
hour because they perform the same action as the corresponding menu
commands. To toggle the display of each Access toolbar, choose
View➪Toolbars and then choose the toolbar name to toggle it off or on.
To position a toolbar at a different area in the Access window, move
your mouse pointer to either end of the toolbar until it turns into a fourdirection cursor and then drag the toolbar to relocate it to any side of
the screen. (You can even create a floating toolbar — which can be
moved as an independent dialog box — by dragging the toolbar to the
middle of the window.)
A Quick Tour of the Access Window
483
✦ The editing window: In Access, the editing window is more of a container for the tables that you create as well as other windows and displays. However, I’ve used that name already for Word, Excel, and
PowerPoint, and I’m not going to stop now.
✦ The Database window: One of the windows that you’ll use most often,
the Database window allows you to create and edit database objects
(such as tables, queries, and forms, which I discuss in a bit). Figure 5-2,
which you can find in the following section, illustrates the Database
window.
✦ The status bar: In Access, the status bar displays the current status of
your Num Lock, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock keys, and also provides
simple help messages and information about database fields. Not exciting stuff, but such is the life of a status bar.
Toolbars
Menu
Figure 5-1:
Creating a
new
database in
Microsoft
Access.
Status bar
Editing window
Task pane
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Magic with Access
To add or remove buttons from a toolbar, click the down-arrow button
at the end of the control and then choose Add or Remove Buttons. Click
the toolbar name, and you can click next to individual buttons to toggle
them on or off.
484
Creating Tables with the Wizard
Creating Tables with the Wizard
Tables in Access are interesting database beasties: They look like the tables
that I discuss in the earlier Word chapter of this mini-book, but they store
information as fields (or individual pieces of data, like your telephone
number) within records (each record contains all the fields describing one
person, place, or thing). Tables are the building blocks of an Access database. A name and address of a customer, for example, might make up a
record; the customer’s first and last name, street address, city, state, and ZIP
code are all fields within that record.
A table uses the Datasheet view, which organizes fields as columns. Records
appear as rows.
The easiest way to create a table is to use the Table Wizard. Follow these
steps:
1. Click the Blank Database item in the task pane at the right side of the
window.
If the task pane is hidden, you can display it by choosing View➪
Toolbars➪Task Pane.
Access opens the File New Database dialog box, which operates just like
a standard Windows Save dialog box except that you’re creating a blank
database instead.
2. Type a descriptive name for your database in the File Name field and
then click the Create button.
To open an existing database that you’ve recently been using, click the
filename in the Open a File list in the task pane or choose File➪Open.
(From the keyboard, press Ctrl+O.) Access displays the Database
window that appears in Figure 5-2.
Figure 5-2:
The Access
Database
window.
Creating Tables with the Wizard
485
3. Click the Tables button at the left — if necessary — and then doubleclick the Create Table by Using Wizard entry in the list on the right.
Figure 5-3:
Invoking the
hoary Table
Wizard.
4. Click a sample table that sounds similar to the table that you need,
click each sample field in the center list that you want to add to your
database, and then click the single right-arrow, which adds the
selected fields to the Fields in My New Table list.
Clicking the double right-arrow adds all the fields in the sample database. You can rename any field in the Fields in My New Table list by
clicking it, clicking the Rename Field button, and then typing the new
name in the dialog box that appears.
If you decide that you want to remove a field from your list in the rightmost column, click the offending field name and then click the single
left-arrow. Or click the double left-arrow to completely empty your field
list and start all over again.
You can use fields from different sample tables to create your ideal table —
just click each sample to browse its contents.
5. After the list on the right has the fields that you need, click Next to
continue.
6. Type a descriptive name for your Access table (top-left of Figure 5-4).
You also have the option to pick your own primary key field to uniquely
identify each record in your database. The primary key is a unique value
(like a Social Security number) that can be used to identify each record
in your database.
Doing Database
Magic with Access
Now you’re admiring the first screen of the Table Wizard, as shown in
Figure 5-3. In the leftmost column, Access gives you a number of sample
tables to choose from, arranged by either business or personal
categories.
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Creating Tables with the Wizard
Figure 5-4:
Specify a
table name
and your
primary key
option.
• Select Yes to allow Access to set the primary key for you.
• Select No if you want to set it yourself.
If you choose No and you want to specify your own primary key, you
get three choices in the extra wizard screen that appears (as shown
in Figure 5-5).
Figure 5-5:
To refine
your table,
choose a
truly unique
primary key
field.
7. Click Next to continue.
8. (Optional) Click the What Field Will Hold Data That Is Unique for
Each Record? drop-down list box and then choose a field with a
unique value for each record.
When I’m creating a database to store information about customers or
clients, I usually pick a customer ID or Social Security number.
Creating Tables with the Wizard
487
9. (Optional) In this screen, you must also decide the following:
• Whether the primary key field will be a number
• Whether the primary key field will be a combination of letters and
numbers that you add yourself manually (like a Social Security
number)
10. Click Next to continue.
On the final Table Wizard screen (see Figure 5-6), you can choose to
modify your table fields, begin typing data into the table immediately
(see Figure 5-7), or have Access can automatically create a form — an
easy screen dialog box for entering data — for your new table.
Figure 5-6:
What’s to
follow after
you
complete
your table?
11. Choose what you fancy and then click Finish.
The table that you created now shows up in the Database window when you
click the Table button. (Check it out in Figure 5-7.) You can open it to enter
additional records (or view or edit existing records) at any time by doubleclicking it within the Database window.
To delete a table, just click it once (to highlight it in the Database window)
and then press Delete. Access will prompt you for confirmation before
trashing the file.
I describe how to enter data directly into a table a little later in the chapter.
First, I’m going to delve into creating a form with the Form Wizard.
Doing Database
Magic with Access
• Whether you want Access to generate a new number in the key field
automatically (like a customer ID that automatically increments each
time that you add a record)
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Creating a Form with the Wizard
Figure 5-7:
A raw look
at your
table, which
is ready to
accept data.
Creating a Form with the Wizard
Creating your own form is not a necessity — after all, the form that’s automatically generated at the end of the table-creation process by the Table
Wizard is just fine. Figure 5-8 illustrates the generic data entry form that the
wizard produced for me automatically. By using forms, anyone can input
data into your database, even if they’re not familiar with the database creation process or if they’ve had little experience with Access.
Figure 5-8:
Access
automatically
generates
simple
forms.
Creating a Form with the Wizard
489
However, you’re not stuck with the generic data entry form. You can create a
custom form for a database table by using the Form Wizard. Follow these
steps to build your own form from scratch:
1. Click the Forms button at the left of the Database window and then
double-click the Create Form by Using Wizard entry in the list on the
right.
The first screen of the Form Wizard appears, as illustrated in Figure 5-9.
Figure 5-9:
You can
build a new
form from
scratch.
2. From the Tables/Queries drop-down list box, choose the table that
will be linked to this form.
To specify the fields that will appear in the form — not all of them need
be included, of course — click each field in the Available Fields list that
you want to include in the form and then click the single right-arrow.
(Like with the Table Wizard, you can also click the double right-arrow to
add all the fields in the table.) When you click each field, it is moved to
the Selected Fields box.
3. When the Selected Fields list on the right has the fields that you need,
click Next to continue.
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By default, all forms are saved within the Forms category in the Database
window with the same name as the corresponding table. You can enter data
into a table by clicking the Forms button to display a list of your forms and
then double-clicking the corresponding form to run it. Forms are also used
to display existing data in a table. For example, if I just want to find out the
length of the film Alien, I can just display the record for that film within the
form.
490
Creating a Form with the Wizard
To remove a field from the Selected Fields list, click the field name that
you don’t want and then click the single left-arrow; to completely empty
your field list and start all over again, click the double left-arrow.
From the wizard screen shown in Figure 5-10, you can select from a
number of predesigned formats, including the Datasheet layout (which
looks very similar to Excel or Works Database) and the standard
Columnar layout that Access uses when it generates a form automatically.
Figure 5-10:
Time to
choose a
layout for
your new
form.
4. Select the layout that you need and then click Next to continue.
5. Select the style that will be used with your new form (see the list of
choices in Figure 5-11).
A form style includes a background pattern, color scheme, and font
selection.
Figure 5-11:
A style can
enhance the
look of your
Access
form.
Creating a Form with the Wizard
491
Access updates the Preview window with a sample of how things will
look.
click Next to continue.
The final Form Wizard screen shown in Figure 5-12 prompts you for a
descriptive title for your new form. You can choose to open the form
immediately to add records or view existing records, or you can edit the
design of the form.
Figure 5-12:
You’re
nearly
finished
building
your Access
form.
7. Click Finish to exit the Wizard.
Check out the custom form that I created for my video collection in
Figure 5-13! “I’m so international and so very professional. . . .”
Figure 5-13:
Hey, I could
be running a
video store
with a
database
like this
one!
Doing Database
Magic with Access
6. When you’ve chosen the most fashionable look for your Access form,
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Creating a Form with the Wizard
To delete a form that you no longer need, click it once to highlight it in the
Database window and then press Delete. You’ll be prompted for confirmation before the file is deleted. Note: Deleting a form will not delete any data
from your tables.
So how do you use a form? Entering data is probably more intuitive within a
form than any other method in Access because a form looks so doggone
much like an online form that you’d encounter on a Web site. (If you’re familiar with the Microsoft Works Database that I cover in the preceding minibook, you’ll feel right at home here.) The instructions that you need to use a
form are this simple:
1. To enter data, click your mouse pointer in the desired field and then
type.
2. To move to the next field, press Tab.
3. To move to the previous field, press Shift+Tab.
4. To close the form and save your data, click the Close button at the topright corner of the form.
If a field has the value (AutoNumber), it indicates that the field will be automatically incremented when you close the table. For example, if the previous record had a 5 in that field, the next record that you add will
automatically use a value of 6 in the field.
The control for moving between records is also very similar to Works
Database: It’s the Record box at the lower-left of the form, which displays
the current record number. To navigate between records, use the navigation
buttons around the Record box:
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the bar at the left to move to the first record
in the table.
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the left to move to the previous record.
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the right to move to the next completed
record.
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the bar at the right to move to the last completed record in the table.
✦ Click the arrow pointing to the asterisk at the right to move to the end
of the table and add a new record.
Entering and Editing Fields Manually
493
Entering and Editing Fields Manually
Follow these steps to enter or edit a field value in a table:
1. Select the record that you want to enter or change by either clicking
it with the mouse or by using the Tab/Shift+Tab combination to move
to it.
2. Type the new data value; depending on the data format, you might
have to select the contents with your mouse (or the Shift+arrow keys)
and the original value first.
Access displays a pencil icon at the far left of the record to indicate that
you’ve made a change to the record (upper-left of Figure 5-14).
This icon indicates a changed record.
Figure 5-14:
Editing data
values in
Datasheet
view.
Doing Database
Magic with Access
I’ll admit, I get pretty enthusiastic about forms: They’re easy for computer
novices to use, and they look quite professional. However, you can view,
enter, and edit your data directly from the table itself. Access calls this the
Datasheet view. And because the table displays many records at once in
rows, it’s often faster than using a form.
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Using Queries
3. If you’re entering data in a new record, press Tab to move to the next
field.
4. Click within any other record to save the new values.
5. To edit another record, begin again at Step 1.
Each time that you enter a value in the empty record at the bottom of the
window, Access automatically adds a new empty record; however, if you
create a new record by mistake, just press Esc to cancel your edits.
Using Queries
In Access-speak, a query is a method of viewing only selected data fields. For
example, you might want to see just the customer ID, number of orders, and
product ID so that you can tell what items in your store are selling well.
Queries can help you analyze trends or perform a simple summary on one
or two fields in your database. Naturally, there’s a wizard to help you create
a query, so that everyone can try it — even without suspenders, a beard,
and a pocket protector.
Follow these steps to create a query:
1. Click the Query button at the left of the Database window and then
double-click the Create Query by Using Wizard entry in the list on
the right.
Figure 5-15 illustrates the first screen of the Simple Query Wizard.
Figure 5-15:
Select query
fields for
data mining.
Using Queries
495
2. Click the Tables/Queries drop-down list box to specify the table that
(Alternatively, click the double right-arrow to add all the fields in the
table.) Like the Form Wizard, you can remove a field from the Selected
Fields list by clicking the field name that you don’t want and then clicking the single left-arrow. (Or you can send all the fields packing by clicking the double left-arrow.)
3. When the Selected Fields box contains every field that you want in
your query, click Next to continue.
4. In the next wizard screen that appears, choose either a detail or summary query (see the choices in Figure 5-16) and then click Next to
continue.
• A detail query includes every field in each record that contains any
of the specified fields.
• A summary query allows you to calculate the sum, average, minimum, or maximum of numeric fields, like a simple Excel function.
Figure 5-16:
Will that be
a summary
or detail
query?
5. Type a descriptive name for your query, specify whether you want to
open the query immediately or modify the design created by the
Simple Query Wizard, and then click Finish to generate the query.
The query returns your data in a standard Datasheet view so that you
can enter new records or edit the fields displayed in your query, just as
if you were looking at the entire record in a table or a form.
Your new query appears in the Database window when you click the
Query button, and you can open it to view or modify it by doubleclicking it within the Database window.
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Magic with Access
will be linked to this query; then choose the fields that will appear in
the query by clicking each desired field in the Available Fields list
and then clicking the single right-arrow.
496
Using Access Templates
You can delete a query by clicking it in the Database window and then pressing Delete. Access will prompt you for confirmation before deleting the file.
Using Access Templates
Although most folks tend to design their own databases for specific purposes, Access comes with both a number of built-in templates and a rather
bodacious number of templates that are online at www.microsoft.com.
To use a general template, display the task pane, click General Templates,
and then click the Databases tab to display the selection of templates that
you see in Figure 5-17. Double-click a template icon to load it.
Figure 5-17:
Access
includes a
good
selection of
starter
templates.
You’ll find dozens of high-quality, predesigned templates grouped by category on the Microsoft Web site. From the task bar, click Templates on
Microsoft.com, which will load Internet Explorer and display the Microsoft
Office Template Gallery.
Printing Your Data
Before you decide to put your data on paper, I always recommend that you
use the Access Print Preview feature. Just choose File➪Print Preview or
click the Print Preview button on the Standard toolbar. Many times I’ve been
Printing Your Data
497
thankful that I checked first to verify that what I expected to print was actually what was going to appear on the hard copy!
✦ Click the Print button on the Standard toolbar. The contents of the
active window are immediately printed with the current settings.
✦ Choose File➪Print. Use this method to print just selected pages (or the
currently selected records in a datasheet window). You can also select
from multiple printers or specify multiple copies from the Print dialog
box. If you need to change any printer-specific options supported by the
printer’s Windows XP software driver, click the Properties button. When
you’re ready, click the Print button.
✦ Press Ctrl+P. This method also displays the Print dialog box.
Doing Database
Magic with Access
Access can print from just about any view, whether the active window is
displaying a table, a form, or a query. When you’re ready to print, choose
one of these methods:
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Book V: Office XP
Chapter 6: Staying in Touch
with Outlook
In This Chapter
Running Outlook
Introducing the Outlook window
Setting up your Outlook e-mail account
Reading and replying to incoming mail
Sending messages
Adding file attachments to messages
Entering contacts
Creating appointments
Using the Outlook Today screen
Printing within Outlook
I
f you’re not using Outlook, run — do not dawdle — to your bookshelf and
grab your Office XP CD-ROM. You see, you’ll need it to install Outlook. It’s
that good, and using just about anything else — including that old workhorse, Works Calendar — is strictly second best. (No offense to those other
applications; it’s just that Outlook can organize just about everything in
your life better than any other program that I’ve ever used — without
becoming confusing or complex.)
In this chapter, I provide you with the basics that you need to use Outlook
as your comprehensive e-mail, address book, and calendar application.
You’ll be attaching messages, making appointments, and sending blind
carbon copies in no time at all. I also mention a number of tips that I’ve
found helpful in my experience with Outlook.
For a complete discussion of everything that Outlook 2002 can do and store,
you’ll obviously need more than just a single chapter. And I can’t recommend a better book than the bestselling Outlook 2002 For Dummies by Bill
Dyszel (by Wiley Publishing, Inc.). My copy has become quite dog eared
since I bought it, and I fear that I’ve put several cracks in the book’s spine
from constant use . . . always a first-rate indicator of a good book.
500
Running Outlook
Running Outlook
You can start Outlook by using any of the following methods:
✦ Double-click the Microsoft Outlook icon on your desktop.
✦ Choose Start➪All Programs➪Microsoft Outlook.
✦ If you’re using the Office shortcut bar, click the Outlook icon.
✦ Press a Windows key while holding down R (Win+R) to bring up the Run
dialog box; type outlook in the Open text box and then press Enter.
Look for the two Windows keys on your keyboard; they reside in the same
stratosphere as your spacebar and Alt keys. If ya got ’em (and you probably
do), they bear the waving Windows flag.
Elements of the Outlook Window
Figure 6-1 illustrates the Outlook window in all its glory.
Toolbars
Menu
Figure 6-1:
The king of
e-mail
applications
is in the
house.
Outlook bar
Folder list
Status bar
Preview pane
Message pane
Elements of the Outlook Window
501
Here’s a quick rundown of the elements within the Outlook window:
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✦ The menu: Standard fare on any Office XP application.
You can easily add or remove buttons from a toolbar: Click the downarrow button at the end of the control and then choose Add or Remove
Buttons. Click the toolbar name on the menu that appears and then
click next to individual buttons to toggle them on or off.
✦ The Outlook bar: You can use this specialized toolbar to jump between
the different views and functions within Outlook. For example, you can
immediately view the contents of your Inbox, or you can click the
Contacts icon to check a telephone number from your Address Book.
✦ The Folder list: This tree display allows you to select an Outlook folder.
Just click the desired folder, and the contents are displayed in the
Message pane.
✦ The Message pane: This pane’s primary job is displaying the messages
in the current folder; however, in other views (like the Contacts or Tasks
view), the contents change to match the data that you’re displaying.
✦ The Preview pane: If you click a message in the Message pane, the contents are displayed in the Preview pane. This is a neat way to see what’s
contained in the message without actually opening the message in a
separate window.
Virtually any pane can be resized in Outlook. Move your mouse pointer
over the divider bar until it turns into opposing arrows and then drag to
relocate the bar.
✦ The status bar: Outlook’s status bar typically displays the total number
of messages in a folder or the total number of contacts in your Contacts
list — you get the idea. (Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate the totals.
The status bar is a good soldier in the fight to hold down RIE, or
Runaway Inbox Expansion — but that’s about it.)
Staying in Touch
with Outlook
✦ The toolbars: Outlook can display up to three toolbars. A click of each
toolbar button performs the same action as the corresponding menu
command. To make additional room on the (somewhat) crowded
Outlook window, choose View➪Toolbars and then click the toolbar
name to toggle it off or on. The Outlook toolbars can also be relocated
within the program window: Move your mouse pointer to either end of
the toolbar until it turns into a four-direction cursor and then drag to
relocate the toolbar. (It “sticks” to the sides like glue.) To create a floating toolbar (which can be moved like an independent dialog box), drag
the toolbar to the middle of the window.
502
Configuring Your Mail Account
Configuring Your Mail Account
First things first. In order to use Outlook, you need to set up a mail account.
Adding a mail account within Outlook involves — surprise! — a wizard. (I
think that someone got the message in Redmond that wizards are A Good
Thing.) Follow these steps to add an Internet e-mail account within Outlook:
1. Choose Tools➪E-mail Accounts to display the wizard screen you see
in Figure 6-2, select the Add a New E-Mail Account radio button, and
then click Next.
Note you can also use this wizard to modify an existing account.
Figure 6-2:
The E-mail
Accounts
Wizard.
2. Select the type of e-mail server that you’ll be using (see the choices
in Figure 6-3) and then click Next to continue.
For virtually all home PC owners, that’ll be a POP3 server, which is the
common choice with most dialup and digital subscriber line (DSL)/
cable Internet service providers (ISPs). (Enough abbreviations for
one sentence?)
You can also set up a separate account for a Web-based HyperText
Transfer Protocol (HTTP) server (like Hotmail). If you’re connecting to
an office e-mail server, check with your network administrator to determine what you need to select on this screen.
Configuring Your Mail Account
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Figure 6-3:
Choosing
your e-mail
server can
be fun. Oh,
yeah.
Figure 6-4 illustrates the E-mail Settings screen for a POP3 server. Make
sure that you have any instructions or account information from your
ISP handy when you enter each value because your ISP will have to
supply ’em. (Guessing will do no good.) If security isn’t a problem at
your location, mark the Remember Password check box to enable it. (If
you don’t enter a password, Outlook will prompt you each time that you
connect to the server to send or receive mail.)
Figure 6-4:
Time to type
in all those
settings that
your ISP
gave you.
504
Configuring Your Mail Account
3. Type your name into the Your Name box and then type the e-mail
address supplied by your ISP into the E-mail Address box. Your Logon
Information is actually your e-mail account username (probably the
part of your e-mail address to the left of the @ sign), and Outlook fills
it in with that string as a default; type your e-mail account password
into the Password box.
Did you notice the similarity between User Information and Logon
Information? Good eye; mistaking these two easily confused combinations for each other often leads to frustrated and irate calls to your ISP’s
technical support number.
If you need to specify a name for the account or add your company’s
name to the account, click the More Settings button and enter them on
the General panel.
4. After you complete all the boxes, you can double-check your account
information by clicking the Test Account Settings button.
Outlook attempts to connect to the specified server and download a
sample message.
Any errors are reported within a separate window. Click Next when
you’re ready to move on.
5. Click Finish to exit the wizard.
To remove an account or to specify a new account as the default, run the
wizard again. On the first screen that appears, select the View or Change
Existing E-Mail Accounts radio button. From the resulting window, as shown
in Figure 6-5, make the appropriate changes.
Figure 6-5:
Remove or
change an
account
here.
Reading and Replying to E-Mail
505
When you create a mail account, Outlook creates a folder that contains the
data that you store in your Personal Folders as well as all the messages that
you’ve created. As you can imagine, this jewel of a folder is a prime candidate for backup. By default, you’ll find these folders in the Documents and
Settings folder under your XP user account name, but they’re buried deep;
look in the \Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder.
Reading and Replying to E-Mail
Naturally, receiving and reading your incoming mail is the primary thrust
behind Outlook, and it’s easy to check all your accounts at once. From the
menu system, choose Tools➪Send/Receive or click the Send/Receive button
on the Standard toolbar — or press F9. (To send and receive from just a
specific account, choose Tools➪Send/Receive and then choose the desired
account from the resulting pop-up menu.)
Oh, joy! “You’ve got mail” — and it’s not a chunk of worthless spam that
you want to immediately delete. (More on eradicating spam later in this
chapter.) New messages appear as bolded entries in the Message pane;
double-click the message to open it in a message window (as shown in
Figure 6-6). If you’d rather scan your mail, click the message once, and it
will be shown in the Preview pane. (If the Preview pane is missing, choose
View➪Preview Pane to toggle it on or click the Preview Pane button on the
Advanced toolbar. If you’re not interested in previewing your mail, this is a
good thing to toggle off because you’ll see much more of the Message pane
that way.)
To add the author of an incoming message to your Contacts list, just rightclick the person’s e-mail address in the From field (while the message is displayed in a message window) and then choose Add to Contacts from the
contextual menu that appears. (More about adding contacts later in the
chapter.)
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Staying in Touch
with Outlook
If you rely heavily on Outlook to store all your important information, I
beseech you — even more than usual — to back up your doggone hard
drive! You might be able to re-create most of your résumé, but how about
every single telephone number that you’ve ever stored in Contacts or every
single e-mail message that you’ve ever received? Do it. Back up!
506
Reading and Replying to E-Mail
Figure 6-6:
Reading a
message in
its own
window.
Does one of your incoming messages deserve a pithy reply? (Otherwise
called “returning a piece of flaming e-mail” — all in fun, of course.) If so,
follow these steps to reply to it:
1. Click the desired message in the Message pane list to select it and
then click the Reply button on the toolbar.
If the message is currently open in its own window, you can also click
the Reply button within the message window.
Was the original message addressed to additional folks besides yourself? If so, you can send your reply to everyone who received a carbon
copy of the original message by clicking the Reply to All button on the
toolbar instead of Reply.
Outlook opens the Reply window that you see in Figure 6-7, with the
insertion cursor already hanging out at the top of the message. Outlook
includes the text of the original message, too — just look underneath
the header ———Original Message——— to see the original message. The
To field is already completed, filled with the name of the person who
sent the original e-mail.
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Figure 6-7:
Preparing to
reply to a
message.
You’ll notice that Outlook automatically adds the prefix RE: to the
beginning of the original subject line, but feel free to click in the Subject
box and type a new subject if you like.
2. (Optional) To send carbon copies of the reply to other individuals,
click once in the Cc box and enter addresses manually (separated by
semicolons) or click the Cc button to select names from your Outlook
Contacts list (see Figure 6-8).
Don’t forget that the text of the original message is included. If necessary, you can delete it manually to preserve that all-important privacy.
“Hey, can’t I send blind carbon copies too?” (That’s where the recipients
of carbon copies don’t see the others who have also received a copy.)
You surely can . . . but for some strange reason, Outlook hides the Bcc
field in the reply header unless you specifically display it. To do so,
choose View➪Bcc Field. Bcc addresses are entered in the same manner
as Cc addresses.
508
Composing and Sending Messages
Figure 6-8:
Selecting
names from
my Contacts
list for
carbon
copies.
3. Go ahead — type like the wind! After you enter the text of your message (and formatted it, if you like, by using the familiar formatting
controls on the toolbar), you can add attachments.
I cover attachments later in this chapter, in the section wittily titled,
“Using File Attachments.”
4. When all is in readiness, click the Send button to send it immediately.
To save a draft of the message without sending it immediately, click the Save
icon in the toolbar and then close the window. The message appears in your
Drafts folder; to send it later, double-click the Drafts folder to open it,
double-click the message to open it, and then click Send.
You can also choose to forward a message, allowing you to add a comment
to the body of the original message before you send it to the new recipient.
To forward a message, click the Forward button instead of the Reply button.
Then sally forth, following the instructions that I detail within this section.
Composing and Sending Messages
Sometimes a reply just isn’t enough; instead, you need to stir up trouble by
initiating the e-mail conversation. To compose and send a new message,
follow these steps:
1. Click the New toolbar button in the Standard toolbar or press Ctrl+N.
Outlook displays the new message window that you see in Figure 6-9.
Composing and Sending Messages
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Figure 6-9:
Creating a
new
message
begins here.
2. Address your message.
• If the recipient for this message isn’t in your Contacts list: Click in
the To box and type the e-mail address.
• If you do have the recipient for this message in your Contacts list:
Click the To button and then choose the person from the Select
Names dialog box that appears. You can also add carbon copies and
blind carbon copies from this dialog box.
Click OK to return to the new message window.
3. Click in the Subject field, type the subject for this message, and then
press Tab to move to the message editing box.
4. Type the text of your message and apply any desired formatting to
the text.
5. Add any attachments.
Use the procedure that I show you in the next section.
510
Using File Attachments
6. Send the message.
• Now: Click the Send button to send it immediately.
• Later: Alternatively, you can click the Save button on the toolbar to
save the message in your Drafts folder, as I explain earlier in the preceding section.
The ability to save your e-mail messages is a really neat feature,
especially if you’re composing messages offline on your laptop without an Internet connection. You can turn that idle time spent waiting
in the airport into productive time. When you get back to your home
or office and your Internet connection, send each message as I
describe earlier.
Using File Attachments
Next, turn your attention to file attachments — you can include all sorts of
files with your e-mail messages, such as
✦ Office documents
✦ Pictures, sound clips, and short video clips (no message should have
more than 2MB of total attached files)
✦ Programs and data files
If the recipient of your message is using Outlook (or another popular e-mail
application), she should be able to save and use the files that you send just
as if they had been stored on a floppy disk or a CD-ROM.
Attaching files and sending them to your friends with Macintosh and Linux
computers is a great way to swap documents that can be read on multiple
platforms (like a Word document, for example).
ISPs place a maximum ceiling on the size of an individual message — and
that includes any attachments. How much is too much? The typical limit is
under 2MB for a single message, but the exact limit is determined by both
your Internet e-mail server and the recipient’s e-mail server. With this in
mind, another Mark’s Maxim appears:
Never send a 300MB video clip to your best friend and expect it to
arrive in one piece!
You’ll know that you’ve exceeded the maximum message size if you receive
an error message from either server that declares your original e-mail to be
undeliverable. The noive of some people!
Using File Attachments
511
Here’s how to send an attachment:
Insert➪File.
Outlook displays the Insert File dialog box.
3. Navigate to the location of the file(s) that you want to attach and then
click each one.
For multiple messages, hold down Ctrl while you click.
4. Click the down-arrow next to the Insert button and then click Insert
as Attachment to add the files to the message.
Attached files appear in the Attach header area of the message dialog
box (see Figure 6-10).
If someone sends you an attached file, right-click the file attachment in the
header and choose Save As from the pop-up menu that appears; then
browse to select a spot on your system where the file will be stored.
Figure 6-10:
I’ve added a
number of
pictures to
this e-mail
message.
Staying in Touch
with Outlook
1. Reply to a message or compose a new message.
2. Click the Insert File button on the Standard toolbar or choose
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Keeping Track of Your Contacts
Repeat after me: “Mark, I promise never to run an attached file unless I’ve
manually scanned it — or unless my scanning software has already scanned
it automatically!” E-mail viruses and malicious macros are widespread these
days, and running any attachment (even one from someone that you know)
without protection is just asking for trouble.
Keeping Track of Your Contacts
Enough with the e-mail! Outlook can also take care of your contacts, like any
other good Personal Information Manager (PIM). To display your contacts,
click the Contacts icon on the Outlook bar or click the Contacts folder in the
Folder list. The Contacts window appears, as shown in Figure 6-11.
To jump directly to a specific first letter of a contact’s last name, click the
desired letter on the button strip down the right side of the Contacts screen.
Figure 6-11:
Maintain
Contacts
information
here.
Keeping Track of Your Contacts
513
So what can one do with a contact? Of course, half the value of the Contacts
window is the ability to simply store your Address Book entries in an organized central location, but you can also
✦ Set up an appointment or a meeting request with that contact.
✦ Set a new task or journal entry for that contact.
All these sundry actions are available when you right-click any contact
entry displayed in the Contacts window.
Entering a contact
To enter a new contact from the Contacts window, follow these steps:
1. Press Ctrl+N or choose File➪New➪Contact.
Outlook displays the Contact window that you see in Figure 6-12.
Figure 6-12:
Enter a new
contact
here.
Staying in Touch
with Outlook
✦ Create a new e-mail message to that contact.
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2. Click in any field to enter information such as the person’s telephone
number(s), job title, home address, and Web page address.
Entry is completely free form; the only fields that you should always
enter are the person’s name and his e-mail address.
If a field has a down-arrow button next to it, you can click the button to
display additional fields of the same type. For example, click the downarrow next to the business phone field, and you can click to display the
person’s pager or home fax machine number.
3. To display additional fields, click the Details tab (see Figure 6-13);
from this panel, you can enter the person’s birthday and anniversary,
their spouse’s name, and other such data.
4. When you’ve entered all the data for a contact, click the Save and
Close button on the toolbar.
Figure 6-13:
You can
enter
additional
contact
data on the
Details
panel.
Using the Outlook Calendar
515
Editing a contact
To close the window and save the updated information, click the Save and
Close button again.
Using the Outlook Calendar
If I told you that Outlook is also a full-featured calendar program, would you
believe me? Yep, this program is a regular Swiss Army knife! To display the
Calendar, click the Calendar icon on the Outlook bar or click the Calendar
folder in the Folder list. Figure 6-14 illustrates the Calendar window.
Figure 6-14:
The Outlook
Calendar
window.
Staying in Touch
with Outlook
It’s easy to add new information to an existing contact or even edit the data
that you’ve already entered. Just double-click a contact entry in the
Contacts window. Outlook opens the same window that you used to enter
the contact information — of course, the data that you’ve already added to
the contact is still there, but everything can be edited if necessary, and you
can add new data.
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Using the Outlook Calendar
Click the appropriate button in the Standard toolbar to display the different
Calendar periods, which are highlighted within the Calendar window:
✦ Day (a single day)
✦ Work Week (a five-day work week)
✦ Week (a full, seven-day week, beginning on Sunday and ending on
Saturday)
From these views, you can set appointments that will appear on your
Calendar.
Creating an appointment
To create a new appointment for your Calendar from the Calendar window,
follow these steps:
1. Press Ctrl+N or choose File➪New➪Appointment.
Outlook displays the Appointment window that you see in Figure 6-15.
Figure 6-15:
Add a new
appointment
to your
Outlook
Calendar
here.
Using the Outlook Calendar
517
2. Type a descriptive subject for the appointment, press Tab, and then
type the location for the meeting.
3. (Optional) You can set up this appointment as an online event.
a. Select the This is an Online Meeting Using check box.
b. Click the drop-down list to the right of this check box and choose
the Internet conferencing application that you’ll be using.
By default, Outlook assumes that you’ll use Microsoft NetMeeting.
Big surprise there, right?
4. Set the start and end times for the meeting.
a. Start: Click the Start Time drop-down list, choose the date for the
appointment, and then click the start time.
b. End: Likewise, click the End Time drop-down list boxes and set the
ending date and time for the appointment.
c. All Day: If the appointment will last all day, select the All Day Event
check box to enable it, and Outlook will disable the End Date and
Time fields.
5. (Optional) If you need a reminder from Outlook before the appointment, mark the Reminder check box and choose the period of
time that you need to reach your appointment after the reminder
appears.
You can click the Reminder Sound button to choose an alarm sound to
play as a little added “encouragement.”
6. From the Show Time As list, choose a status for the appointment.
The appointment status will show up in your Calendar as a shaded or
colored block.
By default, Outlook uses Busy as the status for a new appointment.
7. Click in the notes box at the bottom half of the Appointment window
and type any free-form comments or notes that you want to associate
with this meeting.
Staying in Touch
with Outlook
To use a location that you’ve used previously, click the Location dropdown list box and select it from the list.
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8. Click the Categories button at the bottom of the Appointment window
to assign a category to this appointment.
The program displays the Categories dialog box, as shown in Figure 6-16.
Figure 6-16:
Categories
help you
organize
your
appointments.
You can group your appointments into categories such as VIP,
Suppliers, or Personal. Note that you can assign multiple categories
to an appointment.
9. After everything’s set, click the Save and Close button to add the
appointment to your Calendar.
Displaying appointments in Outlook Today
To view your daily appointments and summarize your entire existence
each morning — pretty cool when you think about it — click the Outlook
Today icon in the Outlook Bar. Outlook displays the screen that you see in
Figure 6-17, with everything that’s happening today arranged on a single
screen. This, folks, is a neat trick, and I use Outlook Today throughout my
workday.
To display the specifics about an appointment or task, double-click the item.
Printing within Outlook
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Figure 6-17:
Hey, there’s
my day!
Printing within Outlook
Believe it or not, you can print just about any data from Outlook in its
native form — and considering the wide variety of information stored
within Outlook’s copious environs, that’s quite a feat. Depending on the
current view and the selected item(s), you can print anything from the
contents of an e-mail message to your appointment schedule and your
Contacts list.
Like with the other Office XP applications, I strongly recommend that you
pause long enough to use the Print Preview feature. (Figure 6-18 illustrates a
Print Preview from an e-mail message.) When you’re displaying the view that
you need within Outlook and you’ve selected any specific items, choose
File➪Print Preview (or click the Print Preview button on the Standard toolbar) to view how things will look.
520
Printing within Outlook
Figure 6-18:
Always use
Print
Preview —
it’s the
secret to
Office XP
happiness.
Remember how I just finished crowing about how great the Outlook Today
view is? And here we are talking about printing. Hmmm . . . what better way
to print a reminder of what you need to do during the day than by printing
the Outlook Today screen? It’s your entire day on one sheet of paper.
When you’re satisfied with the preview, use one of these methods to print:
✦ Click the Print toolbar button on the Standard toolbar. Outlook immediately prints the screen or selection with the printer’s current (or
default) settings.
✦ Choose File➪Print. Outlook displays Print dialog box that you see in
Figure 6-19. Note: The specific settings on the Print dialog box will
change depending on your current view or the items that you select to
print. The Print dialog box allows you to set the page style, print multiple copies, select the target printer (including network printers, as I’m
using in Figure 6-19), and select a range of pages to print. To set any
printer-specific options provided by your printer’s driver, click the
Properties button. After you set the printer options that you need, click
Print.
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Figure 6-19:
Printing to a
network
printer from
within
Outlook.
✦ Press Ctrl+P. The handy keyboard shortcut also displays the Print
dialog box.
✦ Click the Print button on the Print Preview or Page Setup dialog
boxes. Clicking the Print button on either dialog box also displays the
Print dialog box.
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Book VI
Fun with Movies,
Music, and Photos
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Scanning with Gusto ........................................................................................525
Chapter 2: Dude, MP3 Rocks! ............................................................................................545
Chapter 3: Making Movies with Your PC ..........................................................................559
Chapter 4: I Can Make My Own DVDs? ............................................................................579
Chapter 5: I’m Okay, You’re a Digital Camera ..................................................................599
Chapter 1: Scanning with Gusto
In This Chapter
Understanding scanner technology
Shopping for a flatbed scanner
Acquiring an image
Rotating and cropping your scans
Converting and saving scanned images
Guidelines to follow while scanning
Handling copyrighted material
A
scanner might rank as one of the most versatile pieces of hardware
that you can slap onto your PC. With an investment of anywhere from
$100 to $400, you can add the ability to copy and fax printed documents
(with a modem and printer, of course), create digital images from all sorts of
materials, and even use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to read text
from documents directly into your PC’s word processing application.
What’s inexpensive isn’t always easy to use, however. You’ll have to choose
from different types of scanners that use different types of connections to
your PC — and to produce the best results, you need at least an introduction
to the basics of scanning. You also need the skinny on cleaning a scanner,
deciding on an image format, and handling copyrighted material.
In this chapter, I provide you with an introduction to the basics of scanning.
Consider these recommendations, tips, and tricks as a quick-start guide
from my book Scanners For Dummies, by Wiley Publishing, Inc. If scanning
catches your fancy and you decide to delve deeper, I’d naturally be honored
if you would add that volume to your home or office library as well. (By the
way, if you’re planning to copy your face — or any other body part — you
don’t need to read this chapter. Just visit your local copy center or stay a
little late at the office . . . um, and be discreet.)
What Happens Inside a Scanner?
I can’t say that it’s Party Central inside your scanner; in fact, most popular
scanners on the market today actually have very few moving parts, so the
entire device is rather boring compared with a CD recorder. Plus, you don’t
526
What Happens Inside a Scanner?
really have to know how your scanner does its job to use one, so you can
skip to the next section with a clear conscience.
Still with me? Then read on to discover how this magic box can turn a
printed document into a digital image. Check out Figure 1-1.
Low current
returned
Scanner head
moving across
original
Light
Figure 1-1:
A scanner
captures an
image, line
by line.
Scanning
head
Medium current
returned
Light
Scanning
head
High current
returned
Light
Scanning
head
Scanner
glass
Dark surface
Medium surface
Light surface
Here’s how it works:
1. The scanner’s sensor (an array of photosensitive cells) moves one line
across the material that you’re scanning. (In some scanners, the material actually moves past a fixed sensor; this gets important pretty soon.)
The sensor is paired with a strong light source that illuminates whatever you’re scanning.
2. As the sensor moves past the original, each cell sends a level of current
corresponding to one dot (a pixel) of the reflected light from the material. For example, scanning the white part of a printed page results in a
far different signal than scanning the black text on the same page.
3. Your scanner’s electronic brain (tiny as it is) collects all the signals from
each pixel, resulting in a digital picture of one line of the original.
4. The scanner sends the data from the scanned line to your PC.
5. The sensor (or the material) advances one line, and the entire process
begins again at Step 1.
Your Friend, the Flatbed
527
I often compare this process with taking a digital photograph of each line of
your document and then laboriously pasting those separate images together
in an image-editing program. Luckily, you don’t have to do the hard work:
Your PC collects each line sent by the scanner and builds the document for
you, usually while you watch. Technology is grand that way.
Your Friend, the Flatbed
Presenting the Mark’s Maxim for this page:
Buy a flatbed scanner.
Figure 1-2:
Nothing
pleases like
a flatbed
scanner.
Comparatively, with a sheetfed scanner, the material that you’re scanning
moves through a system of rollers while the sensor remains stationary.
Printer manufacturers typically use sheetfed scanning hardware in all-inone or multifunction devices, which combine the functionality of a printer, a
scanner, a fax machine, and a copy machine in one svelte case. Gotta be
honest, though; I don’t recommend sheetfed scanners. And before all you
owners of sheetfed scanners out there in PC Land begin reaching critical
mass and flooding my e-mail inbox, let me attest to the one major advantage
to sheetfed scanners like the one that you see in Figure 1-3: They do take up
far less space. (I know this from personal experience because I have both
sheetfed and flatbed scanners in my office.)
Scanning
with Gusto
Figure 1-2 illustrates a flatbed scanner preparing to do its duty; note that the
top lifts up, just like a copy machine. The sensor head moves in a flatbed
scanner while the material that you’re scanning remains motionless on top
of the scanning glass. (In a second, you’ll discover why a motionless original
is a good thing.)
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Your Friend, the Flatbed
Figure 1-3:
A sheetfed
scanner
looks much
like a fax
machine.
“Okay, Mark, I’ll byte: If I can save valuable desktop space with a sheetfed
scanner, why are you such a die-hard supporter of flatbed models?” Dear
reader, here are the top three reasons why you should pick a flatbed:
✦ They deliver a better quality scan. Because the original material
remains fixed in a flatbed (compared with the moving original in a
sheetfed), you have less chance of shifting, allowing a flatbed to deliver
a better scan with more detail.
✦ They’re versatile: If an original can fit on top of the flatbed’s glass, you
can scan it — pages from a book, very small items such as business
cards, or even items such as clothing. With a sheetfed scanner, you’re
limited to paper documents, and you have to use a clear plastic sleeve
to hold those business cards. (Many sheetfed scanners won’t accept
small items at all.)
Sheetfed owners: Keep those documents as pristine as possible —
meaning no torn edges, no staples, and no antique documents that
could suddenly decide to decompose inside the hard-to-reach areas of
your all-in-one unit.
✦ They have fewer moving parts: Sheetfed scanners can easily jam if the
original document doesn’t feed correctly — and I’ve found them less
reliable over the long run than flatbed models because sheetfed scanners require more cleaning and adjustment.
Popular Scanner Features
529
If you’ve already invested in a sheetfed model, don’t despair; there’s no
reason to scrap your hardware. However, you’ll have to limit yourself somewhat in your material . . . unless, of course, you don’t mind tearing pages
from books and magazines to scan them.
Here are other specialized types of scanners:
✦ Negative scanners: These expensive models are especially designed to
produce the best possible scans from film negatives. They do nothing
else, so versatility isn’t their claim to fame.
✦ Business card scanners: Again, the name says it all. These portable
scanners capture images and information from standard-size business
cards. They’re often used in conjunction with laptop computers or
palmtop computers.
Popular Scanner Features
Here’s a list of the minimum features that I typically recommend for home or
home office use when you’re shopping for a flatbed scanner:
✦ An optical resolution of at least 600 x 1200: Without delving too deeply
into the details of scanner resolution — the number of pixels that your
scanner can capture — you should reject any scanner that offers less
than 600 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi). Note that you should be checking
the optical (also often called raw) resolution and not any resolution
figure that’s enhanced or interpolated. Those are just fancy words that
indicate that the scanner’s software is adding extra dots in the image.
I call ’em faux pixels because they aren’t actually read from the original.
Just ignore any enhanced or interpolated resolution figures when shopping for a scanner.
✦ Single-pass operation: If a scanner can capture all the color data that it
needs in one pass, it takes less time (and introduces less room for registration error) than a scanner that must make three passes across the
same original. ’Nuff said.
✦ One-button operation: Most of today’s scanners offer one or more buttons that can automatically take care of common tasks. For example,
one button might scan the original and create an e-mail message with
the scanned image as an attachment, and another might scan the original and automatically print a copy on your system printer. I’m all about
convenience.
Scanning
with Gusto
✦ Pen: A pen scanner captures only a single line of text at once, but
they’re easy to carry around and can be used with a laptop computer
and OCR software to read text from documents into a word processing
application.
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Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
✦ A minimum of 36-bit color: The higher the bit value, the more colors
that your scanner can capture. Ignore any scanner that can’t produce at
least 36-bit color; most of today’s scanners can produce up to 42-bit
color.
✦ A transparency adapter: Whether it’s optional or included with the
scanner, the ability to add a transparency adapter allows you to scan
film negatives and slides with much better results.
✦ USB or FireWire connection: Although a number of the most inexpensive scanners still offer parallel port connections (which share the
parallel port with your printer), steer clear of them. Instead, I strongly
recommend that you choose a scanner that uses either a Universal
Serial Bus (USB) connection (good) or a FireWire connection (much
better). Of course, your PC will need the prerequisite ports, as I explain
in Book I, Chapter 3. These Plug and Play ports are much faster than a
parallel connection.
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
Scanner manufacturers ship a bewildering number of different capture
(or acquisition) programs with their hardware, so there’s no one proper way
to scan an original. However, scanners that comply with the TWAIN standard
can be controlled from within popular image editors such as Photoshop
or Paint Shop Pro. TWAIN, for you acronym nuts, stands for nothing . . .
literally. Okay, I fibbed; TWAIN means technology without an interesting name. Devices that are TWAIN compatible are operating systemindependent — that is, interchangeable between Windows and Macintosh.
Any TWAIN-compatible hardware device can work with any TWAINcompatible image editor or software application . . . pretty sassy, no?
Acquiring the image
In this section, I demonstrate how to use a typical USB Hewlett-Packard
scanner within Paint Shop Pro, which is my favorite image editor. If you
follow along with this procedure, you’ll end up with an image that you can
edit within Paint Shop Pro, convert to another format, or simply save to
your hard drive. (I can heartily recommend Paint Shop Pro for its Big Three
features: It’s much, much cheaper than Photoshop, almost as powerful, and
much easier to use!)
Assuming that you have Paint Shop Pro loaded on your computer, follow
these steps:
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
531
1. Double-click the Paint Shop Pro icon on your desktop or choose
Start➪Programs➪Jasc Software➪Paint Shop Pro.
The main program window shown in Figure 1-4 appears.
2. Choose File➪Import➪TWAIN.
3. From the pop-up menu that appears, choose Select Source to select
which TWAIN source you’re using to capture the image.
The Select Source dialog box that you see in Figure 1-5 appears.
4. Highlight the TWAIN entry for your scanner (in my case, it’s HP
PrecisionScan LT 3.0) and then click the Select button.
Figure 1-4:
The Paint
Shop Pro
main
window.
Book VI
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Paint Shop Pro can also acquire images from most digital cameras.
(I told you that this was a great program, didn’t I?) From the Import
menu, choose TWAIN, choose Digital Camera from the pop-up menu that
appears, and then click Access. In Chapter 5 of this mini-book, I demonstrate how to acquire images using the Windows XP Camera Wizard, but
if you grow as enamored of Paint Shop Pro as I am, you might prefer to
use Paint Shop Pro to download your photographs as well.
532
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
Figure 1-5:
Select your
scanner
from the
Select
Source
dialog box.
5. Choose File again, choose Import and TWAIN, and then choose
Acquire from the pop-up menu that appears.
At this point, Paint Shop Pro invokes the scanner’s TWAIN driver, so if
you’re using another brand of scanner, the resulting dialog box will look
different; however, the same controls should be available if you explore
a bit. Figure 1-6 shows the Acquire dialog box for my HP scanner.
6. Click the Start a New Scan button.
Your scanner should rumble to life, and eventually the Acquire dialog
will produce a thumbnail image of the original, as shown in Figure 1-7.
(That’s me in Alaska, making friends with the local wildlife. Eat your
heart out, Sir Edmund Hillary.)
7. If you’re satisfied with the dimensions of the image and the automatic
settings chosen by your scanning software, click the Send the Scan
Now button.
Figure 1-6:
My HP
scanner is
ready to go.
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
533
Figure 1-7:
Use the
thumbnail
image to
resize the
capture
area.
Book VI
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The result appears as a new image within Paint Shop Pro, as shown in
Figure 1-8, ready for you to edit and experiment to your heart’s content.
Figure 1-8:
The finished
scan
appears in
Paint Shop
Pro.
534
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
However, if you need to fine-tune the image before sending it to Paint Shop
Pro in Step 7, here are the common settings that you can change in most
scanner drivers, along with what you’ll accomplish. (With my scanner
driver, you click the icon buttons under Step 3.)
✦ Output type: This setting controls what type of image file that the
scan will produce. Typically, you’ll want a color photograph in 24-bit
(or 16.7 million) colors, but other choices might include a Web image at
256 colors, a grayscale image, a black-and-white drawing, or simple text
(that’s been optimized for reading with an OCR program).
✦ Image boundaries: Use this feature to click and drag the boundaries of
the scanned image. For example, I recommend moving the scanned
image border inside any extraneous material on the edges of the original, such as text that surrounds a picture that you want from a magazine page. By reducing the size of the actual scan, your image file is
smaller, and the scanner takes less time to do its job — plus, you’ll
eliminate the need to crop that extraneous part of the image later within
Paint Shop Pro.
✦ Image scale: Figure 1-9 illustrates the scale options for my HP scanner.
Note that I can use the original image size, or I can scale the scanned
image by a specified percentage. Also, I can set the width or height of
the scanned image in inches, and the software automatically calculates
the proper proportion change for the other dimension.
✦ dpi (or resolution): A setting of 150 dpi is usually fine for scanning photographs or documents, but if you’re planning on enlarging an image with
a lot of detail, you might want to specify a higher resolution. However,
this will significantly increase the size of the finished image file.
Figure 1-9:
Adjust the
size of the
scanned
image.
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
535
Rotating and cropping images
After the scanned image is safely in Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop, you’re
free to have fun — fixing problems big and small, removing portions of the
image that you don’t want, or even zooming in to view and change individual
pixels.
Although a complete discussion of image editing is far too in-depth of a
subject for this chapter — in fact, you can find dozens of books on Paint
Shop Pro and Photoshop on the shelves, including the step-by-step coverage of image editing in Scanners For Dummies — I’d like to cover the two
most common procedures that are required for most scanned images:
✦ Rotation: An image that’s literally standing on end or displays upsidedown needs to be rotated (turned).
To rotate an image that you’ve scanned so that it displays in the proper
orientation, follow these steps:
1. Scan an image into Paint Shop Pro.
Read how in the previous section.
2. Choose Image and then choose Rotate to display the Rotate dialog
box (as shown in Figure 1-10).
Figure 1-10:
Rotate
an image
from here.
3. Select either the Left or the Right radio button to specify the direction
of rotation.
4. Select a Degrees radio button to rotate the image (usually either 90 or
180 degrees) or select the Free radio button and then enter a specific
amount of rotation in its accompanying text field.
5. Click OK to rotate the image.
Scanning
with Gusto
✦ Cropping: An image with too much extraneous background needs to
be cropped (trimmed). Cropping an image can significantly cut down its
file size.
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Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
To crop a scanned image, follow these steps:
1. Click the geometric selection tool — it looks like a dotted rectangle —
on the left toolbar.
2. Click in the top-left corner of the image area that you want to keep;
then, while holding the mouse down, drag the selection rectangle to
the lower-right corner of the desired area.
3. Release the mouse button to select the area.
Paint Shop Pro indicates the area you’ve selected with an animated
dotted line, as shown in Figure 1-11.
4. Choose Image and then choose Crop to Selection to remove everything outside the selection box; see the results in Figure 1-12.
If you make a mistake, you can always click the Edit menu and choose Undo
to cancel the last action that you performed.
The geometric selection tool
Figure 1-11:
Select an
area of an
image
before
cropping it.
Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
537
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Figure 1-12:
The image
is cropped.
Converting and saving the image
When you’re finished editing your image, your new work of art is ready to be
saved to disk. That takes me to discussing another feature of Paint Shop
Pro: the ability to convert the existing image format into a format that might
be more suited to your needs.
Think of a format as the structure of the image file — which, after all, is a
data file just like the programs that you run and the documents that you
save. The format is the method that the image data is organized within the
file. I’m not going to go into a huge discussion of the different formats in this
section; rather, I just indicate which formats are better for certain applications and which ones you should avoid for those same applications.
You want to consider converting an image that you’ve scanned because
✦ Some formats can save space. The winner in this first category is definitely the JPEG (or JPG) image format, which is a file compression
format that can save you several megabytes over image formats such as
Windows bitmap (BMP) and uncompressed TIFF.
✦ Some formats maintain image quality. The reason why JPEG images are
so small is that they use a form of compression (rather like that used in
Zip files) to crunch the file size down to a minimum. Unfortunately, that
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Basic Scanning with Paint Shop Pro
compression can result in degradation of the image over time; each
time that you open and edit a JPEG file, it can lose a tiny bit of detail. If
archival image quality is your aim, throw file size limitations to the wind
and use BMP or uncompressed TIFF; they’re huge in size, but they preserve image quality no matter how often you open them.
✦ Some operating systems prefer certain formats. Naturally, those folks
on the Mac and Linux side of the fence might have problems loading
and using an image in Windows (BMP) format. For compatibility reasons,
consider saving your image in TIFF format, which is well supported on
just about every computer in use today.
✦ Some formats are better suited for the Web. Virtually all Web pages
use JPEG and GIF images, which are the common formats recognized by
all browsers. GIF images are well suited for smaller graphics such as
buttons and animated banners, but JPEG images are better for inline
graphics and full-size images that are designed to be downloaded.
Okay, now that you know whether your image needs converting, follow
these steps to save (and optionally convert) your image within Paint
Shop Pro:
1. Choose File➪Save As to display the dialog box shown in Figure 1-13.
Figure 1-13:
Convert the
format of a
scanned
image here.
2. To convert the image to another format, click the Save as Type
drop-down list and then highlight the desired format.
3. Type a filename in the File Name field.
4. Some formats allow you to choose additional settings — click the
Options button to display them.
Scanning Do’s and Don’ts
539
For example, Figure 1-14 shows the settings that you can change for JPEG
images within Paint Shop Pro. Generally, I recommend sticking with the
defaults, but if you need these advanced options, make your changes
and then click OK, which will return you to the Save As dialog box.
Figure 1-14:
Change
advanced
settings for
a JPEG
image.
Book VI
Chapter 1
Scanning Do’s and Don’ts
Today’s scanning software helps to make the scanning process easier than it
was just three or four years ago, but here are a number of tried-and-true
guidelines that you should follow for the best results from your hardware.
Here’s a cheat sheet of rules that every scanner owner should follow:
✦ Don’t place heavy objects on your scanner’s glass. Believe it or not,
I’ve heard horror stories of people trying to scan bricks and rocks —
usually trying to capture a particular color or pattern for an e-mail
attachment or a Web graphic. Besides the possibility of a cracked or a
broken scanner glass, rough or pointed objects can cause scratches
that will show up in your images.
Don’t forget that paper clips and staples are public enemy number one
for your scanner. Please remove them before you place your original!
✦ Do work with the largest possible original. The larger the original, the
better quality image that you’re likely to get. (Sure, you can scan a
postage stamp, but use a higher dpi setting so that you have enough
pixels to enlarge the image later.)
✦ Do clean your scanner glass with the right material. Never spray glass
cleaner directly on the glass: Too much liquid on the glass can leak
under the surface, causing condensation later. Instead, use a soft photographer’s lens cloth or a monitor wipe premoistened with alcohol,
which evaporates quickly. I clean my scanner glass at least once a week.
Scanning
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5. Click the Save button.
540
Those Irritating (Or Invaluable) Copyrights
✦ Do add as much memory to your PC as you can afford. The more
memory that you add, the easier and faster your PC can handle larger
scans. Remember that some of those scanned images might end up
being 40 or 50MB in size. Also, any image editor will perform much
better with additional memory. If you’re using Photoshop or Paint Shop
Pro on a regular basis, I recommend a minimum of 256MB. Memory, my
friend, is cheap.
✦ Don’t overwrite your original scan. If you’re experimenting with a
scanned image — for example, if you’re applying filters or changing the
color balance for an artistic effect — keep the original as is and save a
copy with your changes. After you’ve applied changes in an image
editor and saved those changes, you usually can’t backtrack to the
quality of the original image.
✦ Do keep your scanner drivers up to date. Like other hardware devices
that I mention throughout this book, check your scanner manufacturer’s
Web site often for updates to your scanning software and for Windows
drivers.
✦ Don’t use outdated or specialized image formats. PC owners should
avoid Microsoft Paint (MSP) images. (I like to call these little-known and
less-recognized formats by a single collective acronym — WIF, which
stands for Weird Image Format.) My point is simple: By using one of the
major image formats (TIFF, JPEG, BMP, or GIF), you give others a better
chance to load and work with your scanned images.
Those Irritating (Or Invaluable) Copyrights
Of course, copyrights aren’t so doggone irritating if you happen to be the
creator of a work of digital art (whether it be a photograph, a painting, or a
poem). As an author, I’m personally all for copyrights. However, as a scanner owner, you might find yourself walking a legal tightrope without a pole
when you decide to include scanned material in your own documents.
Like I said, I’m an author — not a lawyer! (I do know some great lawyer
jokes, but that’s not the same as a law degree.) Therefore, before I describe
some of the common myths about copyright law, let me say that you should
always consult with a knowledgeable copyright lawyer. These guidelines are
here to help, but they’re not a substitute for bona fide legal advice.
With that well-worded disclaimer in mind, here is a selection of the most
common fallacies concerning copyrighted material:
✦ “I got it off the Internet, so it must be public domain.” Wrong. It
doesn’t matter where you got a creative work — from the Internet, a
publication, or even off the wall of a subway tunnel. If you use anything
that you didn’t create completely by yourself, you need permission
from the author.
Adding a Copyright Line
541
✦ “I added a line and some shading to this scanned image, so now it’s
mine.” Embellishing an original work does not make it yours. (After all,
I can add an extra line of lyrics to any Beatles song that you can name,
but that doesn’t give me the copyright to “Eight Days a Week.”)
✦ “This photograph didn’t carry a copyright mark, so the scan is my
original work.” Nope. An original work, whether a document, a photograph, or a scribble on a napkin, doesn’t need any mark (although a
copyright mark does reinforce your copyright claim). In the legal world,
a copyright is bestowed automatically in most cases as soon as the
creator completes the work.
✦ “Why, the very act of scanning this photograph gives me the copyright.” I don’t hear this one often. Evidently, by creating a digital copy,
these folks think that they can magically acquire the copyright. (Sound
of palm slapping forehead.) Why didn’t I think of that before? Oh, yes,
now I remember — it’s not true. Simply changing the form of a work
doesn’t release the creator’s copyright.
✦ “This artwork was drawn a hundred years ago — the copyright doesn’t
apply to me.” Before you assume that a copyright has expired on a
work, check with a copyright lawyer. Descendents of the original copyright owner might now own the rights to the work.
Adding a Copyright Line
If you’d like to add a copyright line to the work that you’ve scanned, Paint
Shop Pro can help you out there as well. Run the program and follow these
steps:
1. Choose File➪Open to display the familiar Windows Open dialog box.
2. Navigate to the location of the scanned image file, click it to highlight
the file name, and then click the Open button.
3. Click the text icon on the left toolbar (it looks like a capital letter A).
4. Click the cursor in the area of the image where you want the mark
to appear.
Paint Shop Pro displays the Text Entry dialog box as shown in Figure 1-15.
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with Gusto
✦ “This is a not-for-profit project, so I can include this artwork.” This
might be true, but only if you’re using a clip art collection or royalty-free
photograph archive that gives you specific rights to use intellectual
property in your work. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter whether your work
is for profit or nonprofit — a copyright applies to the original work in
either case.
542
Adding a Copyright Line
Figure 1-15:
Select
the font
characteristics for a
copyright
line.
Text tool
5. To select a new font, click the Name drop-down list.
From the Text Entry dialog box, you can also change the size of the
text as well as its color and characteristics (such as bold, italics, and
underlining).
6. After the font in the Sample Text display appears as you want, click
within the Enter Text Here box and type the text of your copyright
line.
A typical copyright mark reads like this: Copyright (c) [year] by [name],
All Rights Reserved. (Naturally, you’ll want to substitute the current
year and your name where I’ve indicated.) Figure 1-16 illustrates an
image with a copyright line added.
7. Save the new image under a new filename by choosing File➪Save As
and entering a filename in the Save As dialog box that appears.
Adding a Copyright Line
543
Book VI
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Figure 1-16:
My image
sports a
copyright
mark.
544
Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos
Chapter 2: Dude, MP3 Rocks!
In This Chapter
Understanding the MP3 format
Ripping MP3 files from an audio CD
Playing MP3 files
Downloading MP3 music to your MP3 player
Comparing other audio formats with MP3
Burning audio CDs from MP3 files
C
an you name one or two truly revolutionary technologies that have
arrived in the last ten years? Perhaps CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, mobile
telephones, or the Jerry Springer Show? (Okay, that last one was a deliberate
attempt at humor.) Anyway, historians often claim that no person can accurately point to a world-changing technology in his or her lifetime because
we just don’t have the perspective to recognize its importance when it
happens.
Well, guess what? MP3 is here in your lifetime; it absolutely rocks; and my
friend, it is indeed one of those revolutionary technologies. You can quote
me on this, with a Mark’s Maxim that will make me a visionary (who wears
glasses):
The creation and distribution of digital music will permanently
change everything in the recording industry, including the career of
every musician on the planet.
To be honest, that’s not really such an earth-shattering prediction . . . in fact,
it’s already happening! In this chapter, I tell you what’s so incredibly cool
about MP3 digital music, how you can create your own MP3s, and — here’s
the spoiler — why the recording industry would love to stop you from using
MP3 files altogether.
(Yes, MP3 is legal when used correctly. Sorry, Big Brother Music.)
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An MP3 Primer
An MP3 Primer
First off, what is a furshlugginer MP3, anyway? Things can get real technical
real fast here, and that’s not what this book is about — therefore, here’s my
definition of the MP3 process for Normal Human Beings:
When you create (or rip) an MP3 (short for MPEG-1 Layer 3) file, you’re
capturing (or sampling) an analog sound recording and saving that
audio in digital form.
Clear as mud? Here’s another way to think of it: MP3 files store music and
audio in the same fashion that music is stored on an audio CD — as a string
of binary characters. It’s all zeroes and ones, but your PC — and Macs, and
MP3 players, and even many personal electronic devices such as personal
digital assistants (PDAs) and portable stereos — can decode that binary
information and re-create it as the original analog signal.
Note that just about any CD-ROM drive — including the read-only variety —
can rip tracks, so you don’t need a CD or DVD recorder to do the job. The
process is technically called digital audio extraction, but you and I call it
ripping.
Here are more parallels between audio CDs and MP3 files:
✦ A typical MP3 file corresponds to a single track on an audio CD
(which makes sense because virtually all MP3s are ripped directly
from audio CDs).
✦ MP3 files offer the same — or even better — audio quality than
audio CDs.
✦ Like the tracks on an audio CD, MP3 files can contain information about
the song title and artist.
✦ Like the music on an audio CD, the quality of an MP3 recording stays
pristine no matter how many copies of that MP3 file you make. Because
it’s digital, there’s no degradation when you make additional copies of
an MP3.
✦ A series of MP3 files can be recorded (or burned) onto a blank CD-R,
creating a new audio CD. You can even burn MP3 files from many
different CDs to produce your own compilation discs.
Because an MP3 file is just another data file to your PC, you can do many of
the same things with an MP3 file that you can do with other digital media
files (such as an image from your digital camera). For example, you can
Ripping Your Own MP3 Files
547
✦ Send ’em: Send smaller MP3s as e-mail attachments.
✦ Download ’em: Allow MP3 files to be downloaded from your Web site or
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server.
✦ Save ’em: Save MP3 files to removable media such as Zip disks, CDs and
DVDs, and Universal Serial Bus (USB) Flash drives.
Of course, this very portability is a double-edged sword because it makes
MP3 music easy to copy — which, under copyright law, is another synonym
for steal. I discuss what you can and can’t legally do with your MP3 files at
the end of the chapter.
Table 2-1
Bit Rates for MP3 Files
Audio Books
FM Stereo
Quality
Near-CD
Quality
Audio CD
Quality
Audiophile Quality
48 Kbps
64 Kbps
96 Kbps
128 Kbps
160/192/256/320 Kbps
Ripping Your Own MP3 Files
To demonstrate just how easy it is to rip MP3 files from an existing audio
CD, I’ll choose an audio CD from my collection at random — hmmm, how
about the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, and his classic album Come
Fly with Me — and then extract a set of MP3 files that I can listen to with my
Apple iPod MP3 player.
For this demonstration, I’ll use my favorite software for ripping MP3 files on
the PC: MUSICMATCH Jukebox 7.5, from MUSICMATCH (www.musicmatch.
com). You can download the basic version of Jukebox for free from the company’s Web site or upgrade to the Pro version for a mere $20.
Here’s the first inkling of the copyright controversy, which I’ll wade into at
the end of this chapter: You can only legally rip MP3 files from audio CDs
that you’ve bought for yourself! By ripping songs from a friend’s CD — or
even an audio CD that you borrowed from the public library — you’re violating copyright law. (In this case, I own this audio CD, so I can legally create
MP3 files from it for my own personal use. However, I can’t give those MP3
files to anyone else, or I’m in violation of copyright law.)
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The audio quality of an MP3 file is determined by the bit rate at which it is
sampled. The higher the bit rate, the better the sound file (and the larger
the size of the physical MP3 file itself, which makes sense). Table 2-1 lists
some of the common bit rates for different types of MP3 files — anything
over 128 Kbps is actually better than the quality of audio CD tracks.
548
Ripping Your Own MP3 Files
Now that Perry Mason has had his say, follow these steps to create your
own MP3 files from an audio CD:
1. Choose Start➪All Programs➪Musicmatch➪Musicmatch Jukebox to
run the program, which displays the main window that you see in
Figure 2-1.
Figure 2-1:
The familiar
curvaceous
lines of
MUSICMATCH
Jukebox.
2. Load the audio CD into your drive.
Jukebox displays the track names in the playlist pane, shown at the
right in Figure 2-2, and begins to play the CD. Because I don’t want to
listen to the disc right now, I click the Stop button (which sports a
square shape) on the program’s control panel.
Figure 2-2:
Jukebox
can automatically
play an
audio CD.
3. Before you extract any tracks, you must configure the MP3 settings
within Jukebox.
a. Click the Options menu.
b. Choose Recorder.
c. Click Settings to display the Settings dialog box shown in
Figure 2-3.
In this case, I want my MP3 tracks for my iPod player, so I want CDquality music. Typically, this will be your best choice as well, unless
you need the smallest possible MP3 file sizes (use 8 Kbps) or you’re
ripping something like an audio book.
Ripping Your Own MP3 Files
549
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Figure 2-3:
Always
configure
(or check)
your MP3
settings
before you
rip.
4. Click the Recording Format drop-down list box and choose MP3;
then select the CD Quality (128 Kbps) radio button.
If you want to listen to the tracks while you rip ’em, clear the Mute while
Recording check box. Click OK to save any changes that you’ve made
and return to Jukebox.
If you have more than one CD or DVD-ROM drive in your PC, check to
ensure that the Recording Source is set to the proper drive before you
leave the Settings dialog box.
5. To start the actual ripping process, click the Record button on the
control panel (bottom left); like a VCR or cassette recorder, it has a
red dot on it.
Don’t click the Record button under the track list (bottom right), which
burns a CD with the contents of the list. (You don’t need to record a disc
that you already have!) Jukebox displays the Recorder pane that you
see in Figure 2-4, complete with the track names already listed.
6. Mark the tracks that you want to rip.
By default, Jukebox automatically rips all the tracks on the disc, so
they’re all checked. If you don’t want to rip a track, just clear the check
box next to the track title. Note that you can click the None button to
remove all the checks, which makes it easier to rip only one or two
tracks from an entire CD.
550
Listening to Your Stuff
Figure 2-4:
The
Recorder
pane
appears
when you’re
ready to rip.
7. Let the ripping begin! Click the red Record button on the Recorder
pane, and then sit back and watch the progress for each track, as
shown in Figure 2-5.
The completed MP3 files are placed in a separate folder within your My
Music folder, complete with the artist name and album title.
Figure 2-5:
Keep an
eye on the
progress of
your rip.
Listening to Your Stuff
After you’re riding the digital wave of the future and you’ve ripped a number
of MP3 files, you’re ready to enjoy them. Here are a number of different ways
to listen to MP3s on your PC, using both MUSICMATCH Jukebox and the
built-in MP3 support in Windows XP:
✦ Double-click an MP3 file in Explorer. Double-clicking an MP3 file loads
the program associated with MP3 audio on your system. By default, this
is Windows Media Player, but if you’ve installed another MP3 player —
such as Jukebox, or the great freeware media player Winamp (www.
winamp.com, shown in Figure 2-6) — Windows will play the file with
that program instead.
✦ Right-click an MP3 file and then choose Play from the menu that
appears.
✦ Run an MP3 player application such as MUSICMATCH Jukebox.
Listening to Your Stuff
551
If Windows XP is using the wrong application to play MP3 files — for
example, if you want Windows Media Player to run when you double-click
an MP3 file — it’s time to change the association for the file. Right-click the
MP3 file and choose Open With from the menu that appears; then click
Choose Program to display the Open With dialog box that you see in
Figure 2-7. Click the application with which you want to play your MP3
files, make sure that the Always Use the Selected Program to Open This
Kind of File check box is enabled, and then click OK.
Book VI
Chapter 2
Figure 2-7:
Change the
association
for an MP3
file here.
Dude, MP3 Rocks!
Figure 2-6:
Another
freeware
favorite,
Winamp,
hard at work
playing
MP3 files.
552
Downloading to an MP3 Player
If you’re using Jukebox, follow these steps to listen to one or more MP3 files:
1. Choose Start➪All Programs➪Musicmatch➪Musicmatch Jukebox to
run the program.
2. Click and drag the desired MP3 files from an Explorer window and
drop them in the Jukebox playlist pane.
If you select multiple MP3 files, they’re played in order.
3. To skip to the previous and next tracks, click the Previous and Next
buttons on the Jukebox control panel — huge surprise there, right?
MP3s are easy to pause while you’re retrieving your toaster pastry from
the toaster. Just click the Pause button to pause the audio and click it
again to restart the playback.
Jukebox remembers the songs that you added to your playlist, so if you
want to start over with a clean slate, click the Clear button at the bottom
of the playlist. Also note that you can repeat the playlist by clicking the
Repeat button. To save a playlist for future use, click the Options menu,
choose Playlist, and then click Save Playlist — you can open the playlist
file later by pressing Ctrl+O.
Downloading to an MP3 Player
Here’s yet another significantly cool thing that Jukebox can do for you:
It can download MP3 files to your personal MP3 player for your portable
listening pleasure. For example, I use my iPod, which has 5GB of storage,
a built-in 5-hour battery, and a very fast FireWire connection. (Although PC
owners might not like it, the iPod is another masterpiece of design from our
friends at Apple Computer, www.apple.com. Luckily, it works on the PC as
well, when using MUSICMATCH Jukebox.) I can heartily recommend this
sweet machine as the best MP3 player on the market today.
To use a supported MP3 player with Jukebox, you must first download the
proper device plug-in from the MUSICMATCH Web site. This process is easy
because Jukebox takes care of it automatically. After the plug-in is in place,
follow the steps in the previous section to add MP3 tracks to your playlist
(or to load an existing playlist).
To download the songs in your current playlist to your MP3 player, follow
these steps:
1. Plug your MP3 player into the USB or FireWire port.
Windows should automatically recognize that you’ve plugged the
device in.
Using Other Sound Formats
553
2. Choose File➪Send to Portable Device.
The Portable Device Manager window that you see in Figure 2-8
displays.
Book VI
Chapter 2
Dude, MP3 Rocks!
Figure 2-8:
Preparing to
download
MP3 files to
my iPod.
3. If you want to rearrange any of the tracks before downloading them,
click the track title that you want to move and then drag it to its new
location in the window.
You can also click the Add button to add extra MP3 files, or you can
click the Remove button to delete the selected track from the MP3
player playlist. (Note that this will not delete the MP3 file from your
hard drive . . . just the playlist. Whew.)
4. After the Portable Device Manager playlist is just the way that you
want it, click the Attached Portable Devices folder in the left pane
of the window and then click your MP3 player to select it.
5. Click the Sync button to copy the songs to your MP3 player.
6. After the copying process is complete, click the Eject button, unplug
your player, and jam!
Using Other Sound Formats
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other sampled sound formats out there on the Internet (and sometimes swapped between PC
owners). However, the MP3 format is now so popular for music that these
554
Using Other Sound Formats
other formats have been reduced to storing Windows sound effects and
such. Some sound editors can convert audio between different formats, but
if you’re working with music, you can’t lose with MP3.
WAV format
Microsoft’s Windows Audio/Video (WAV) audio format is the standard
format used by Windows for playing sound effects, and it’s also used in
games and on the Web. Your browser should recognize and play WAV audio
files like a familiar old friend. Although WAV files can be recorded at audio
CD quality — and therefore can be used to record music — MP3 files offer
the same (or better) quality and are much smaller in comparison. All current versions of Windows include a simple sound recorder that can capture
WAV files by using a microphone plugged into your PC.
WMA format
Not to be outdone by MP3, Microsoft has recently been pushing the WMA
format (short for Windows Media Audio) as a real contender for the Best
Digital Audio Format crown. Indeed, WMA files are as high in quality as MP3
files, and WMA audio can be recorded in multichannel 5.1 Surround sound.
However, I don’t see the challenger from Redmond usurping MP3 anytime
soon. For once, I think that the open standard is stronger than any proprietary standard that Microsoft will attempt to enforce. For example, many
current MP3 players won’t recognize or support WMA tracks — and
portable MP3 players sure don’t need Surround sound.
AU format
The Audio Unix (AU) format was introduced by Sun Microsystems, so
(as you would expect) it’s a popular standard for systems running Unix
and Linux. AU audio files are typically lower quality than MP3 files, but
they’re even smaller in size, making them popular on many Web sites.
Luckily, both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator can play AU files
with ease.
AIFF format
Apple once used the Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) sound file format
as standard equipment within its operating systems, including music files.
However, these days the Cupertino Crew has switched wholeheartedly and
completely to MP3, so AIFF has already started down the road once taken by
the dinosaurs. (Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X still recognize AIFF files for sound
effects, but that’s about it.) Although AIFF files can be recorded at CD quality,
they’re simply huge, so don’t expect to find them on the Web or on your
personal MP3 player.
Burning Audio CDs from MP3 Files
555
MIDI format
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files aren’t actually digital audio
but instead are directions on how to play a song — kind of like how a program is a set of directions that tells your computer how to accomplish a
task. Your PC or a MIDI instrument (like a MIDI keyboard) can read a MIDI
file and play the song back. As you might guess, however, MIDI music really
doesn’t sound like the digitally sampled sound that you’ll get from an MP3
or WMA file. I discuss MIDI support when I cover upgrading your sound card
in Book VII, Chapter 6.
Burning Audio CDs from MP3 Files
I got the music in me — illegally?
“Okay Mark, everything that I’ve read in this
chapter is cool beyond belief — now, what’s
this you’re telling me? My MP3 collection might
be illegal?” It’s possible . . . it all depends on
where you obtained the original audio CDs!
Here’s the rule: If you didn’t buy the audio CD
and you don’t own it, you can’t legally rip any
audio. Period.
The reasoning behind this copyright law is
similar to the law governing the duplication of
computer programs, where only the owner is
generally allowed to copy a piece of commercial software. By law, any copy of a program
that you make is to be used for backup purposes; you can’t give that copy to anyone else,
and it can’t be loaded on anyone else’s PC.
Likewise, you can create all the MP3 files from
your own audio CDs that you like, and you
can listen to them with your personal MP3
player — but you can’t give those MP3 files to
anyone else. You also can’t distribute them over
the Web or Internet newsgroups, and you can’t
give one of your Best of Slim Whitman compilation CDs to your friend.
Music publishers are considering a number of
different copy protection schemes that can help
safeguard audio CDs from wanton ripping. Only
the future will determine just how successful
these schemes will be. You know how tricky
those hackers can be, and it’s likely that any
copy protection will be broken sooner or later.
Of course, not everyone follows these rules to
the letter. As a matter of fact, I don’t know any
folks who spend their nights tossing and turning because they ripped tracks from Johnny
Cash at Folsom Prison. However, it’s my duty to
make sure that you know the legal ramifications
of The Rip Thing. End of story.
Dude, MP3 Rocks!
Return with me to the multitalented MUSICMATCH Jukebox so that I can
demonstrate how to burn your own audio CDs from your MP3 collection.
The resulting disc is a perfect match for any home or car CD player and can
also be played in your PC’s CD or DVD drive. (Both the free version and the
Plus version of Jukebox can burn CDs, but here I describe how to record a
disc by using the Plus version.)
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Burning Audio CDs from MP3 Files
To record an audio CD from MP3 files, follow these steps:
1. Build your playlist within Jukebox as you normally would.
2. When you’ve added all the tracks that you want to record, click the
Burn button at the bottom of the Playlist pane.
Jukebox displays the Burner Plus window that you see in Figure 2-9.
3. Like the Portable Device Manager window that I describe earlier
(see “Downloading to an MP3 Player”), you can rearrange the order
of the tracks on your audio CD by clicking the desired track title and
then dragging it to its new location in the window.
To add more songs, click the Add button; to remove the selected track
from the disc layout, click the Remove button.
This does not delete the offending MP3 file from your hard drive.
The Burner Plus window keeps track of the percentage of space that
you’ve used with the current playlist as well as the remaining time left
on the disc layout (measured in seconds). You can use these totals to
determine how many additional tracks you can squeeze onto your CD.
Figure 2-9:
Arrange
MP3 tracks
before
burning
them to an
audio CD.
Burning Audio CDs from MP3 Files
557
4. Make sure that the first button next to the disc name is selected.
This button, which carries a musical note icon, specifies that you want
to record an audio CD (rather than an MP3 CD or a data CD).
5. Load a blank CD-R into your recorder.
Only certain audio CD players can read a CD-RW (rewriteable disc), so
always use write-once CD-R media for true compatibility with all audio
CD players.
6. Click the Burn button on the Burner Plus window, sit back, and relax
while your new disc is recorded.
Book VI
Chapter 2
Dude, MP3 Rocks!
558
Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos
Chapter 3: Making Movies
with Your PC
In This Chapter
Importing video clips
Assembling a movie
Adding transitions
Using titles
Using special effects
Adding a soundtrack
Previewing your movie
Saving and recording the finished film
H
ave you long harbored the urge to make your own film? You pick the
subject — from your kid’s kindergarten graduation to a science fiction
action flick worthy of Arnold himself. You edit your footage, add professionallooking transitions and special effects, and even set the mood with a custom
soundtrack recorded on your aunt’s antique Hammond organ. Ladies and
gentlemen, this is the definition of sweet — and it’s all made possible by
your PC. (For the full effect, buy a canvas director’s chair and a megaphone.)
In this chapter, I demonstrate how you can use footage from your digital
video (DV) camcorder — or, with the right equipment, even the footage that
you’ve recorded on tape — to produce your own film. Your finished work of
visual art can be saved to a CD-R or DVD-R or stored on your hard drive for
use on your Web pages.
Getting the Lowdown on ArcSoft’s ShowBiz
My filmmaking tool of choice is ShowBiz, which is a popular, entry-level
$79 video editor from ArcSoft (www.arcsoft.com), as shown in Figure 3-1.
ShowBiz has far more features than Windows Movie Maker (which ships
with XP Home and Professional Editions), and I find it easier to use. The
program runs on Windows 98 SE/Me/2000, too.
560
Getting the Lowdown on ArcSoft’s ShowBiz
Media library
Player
Album view mode button
Figure 3-1:
ArcSoft
ShowBiz
makes it
easy to
edit and
enhance
your movies.
Storyboard
Timeline
After you install ShowBiz, you can run it from the Start menu by choosing
Start➪All Programs➪ArcSoft➪ShowBiz.
Take a moment to examine the ShowBiz main window, and you’ll see the
four major controls that you’ll be using:
✦ Media library: Consider this collection your treasure chest of things
that you can add to your film. Movies can contain any mix of items from
these four categories: media (includes video clips, still images, and
audio), transitions (effects that occur between the clips and images),
special effects, and text.
✦ Player window: It sounds self-explanatory, and (for a change) it actually
is. The Player window allows you to play back and view your movie
within ShowBiz while you’re working on it.
Rounding Up Clips and Images
561
✦ Storyboard strip: If you’re familiar with the concept of storyboarding in
cinematography — where sketches of scenes are arranged to create a
paper mock-up of the film — you’ve probably already guessed that you
use this strip to add items from the Media library list. And you’d be
right. These media clips, audio clips, and effects are the building blocks
of your finished movie.
✦ Timeline strip: Click the Timeline tab at the top of the Storyboard strip,
and voilà! — you switch to the Timeline strip, where you can trim or
expand the length of effects and transitions. The Timeline strip is also
the control that you use to add and edit the soundtrack for your movie.
Rounding Up Clips and Images
However, throwing together a hodgepodge of unorganized clips is (to say
the least) not particularly creative or satisfying. (Imagine trying to build Star
Wars by using clips from Gone With the Wind, and you’ll see what I mean.)
Before you build your first work of cinematic art, you must import your own
video and still images into one or more albums, which is the name that
ShowBiz gives to each of those tabbed sections within your Media library.
Each item in an album is actually a link to a file on your hard drive.
To import video clips or images that are saved to your hard drive, follow
these steps:
1. Click the Media tab at the top of the Media library.
2. Click the Add button that appears under the list (which, strangely
enough, bears a book with an arrow).
3. From the Open dialog box that appears, navigate to the location of
the video, photograph, or sound effect that you want to add, click the
file name to select it, and then click the Open button.
4. Click New Album in the drop-down list or click an existing album to
import into an existing album.
You can create a new album — ShowBiz won’t allow you to add items to
the Sample album, which contains preloaded ShowBiz clips — or add
the item to an existing album using the oddly unnamed drop-down list
box located beneath the library tabs.
Making Movies
with Your PC
A video editor like ShowBiz allows you to use raw footage, or video clips,
transferred to your hard drive from a DV camcorder (or downloaded from
the Web, or taken from a royalty-free video clip collection). You can also
import digital photographs and use them anywhere you like within your
movie — even directly from your scanner or your digital camera.
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Rounding Up Clips and Images
Some types of media albums have advanced settings for the items that
they contain, as shown in Figure 3-2; if you’re presented with a dialog
box like this, you can make any changes you like or simply click OK to
keep the current settings.
ShowBiz displays the new album (if you created one) or adds the item
to the existing album that you chose.
Figure 3-2:
Some types
of media
items have
their own
properties
that you
can set.
To display thumbnails of album items, click the Album view mode button at
the upper-right of the Media library. This toggles the thumbnail feature on
and off. To rename an album, click the album name to select it, type a new
name in the drop-down list box, and then press Enter.
ShowBiz allows you to sort an album in many different ways, such as by size
or date. Just click the Sort button (which sports a capital A and Z conjoined
with an arrow), choose the desired sort order, and then click OK. Sorting
makes it easier to locate a specific item in an overstuffed album.
Never the TWAIN shall meet
TWAIN. You’re probably saying to yourself,
“Self, that’s the most ridiculous acronym
yet.” Well, it sounds silly, but you’ll be tickled to
hear that it stands for technology without an
interesting name. Never let it be said that
techno-types don’t have occasional flashes of
humor! (By the way, if you’re not completely
acronym-happy by now, visit VERA — the
Virtual Entity of Relevant Acronyms, no less —
on the Web at http://cclib.nsu.ru/
projects/gnudocs/gnudocs/vera/
vera_toc.html, and you can discover the
true meaning of computer-related acronyms to
your heart’s content.)
Building Your First Movie
563
Besides the method I describe earlier, here are three other easy ways to
import items:
✦ By downloading them: ArcSoft offers registered users the opportunity
to download new media items from the ArcSoft Web site. These freebies
include new transitions, still images, audio clips, and sample video clips.
✦ By capturing video and audio: If you have a video capture board or a
FireWire port on your PC, you can capture video from your VCR or
camcorder. Hook up your video source, click the Capture button in the
Movie section of the ShowBiz window, and then click the Record button
(the button with the red dot) to save the video (or just the audio component) to a new album within the library. (For information on connecting your video hardware, refer to the user manual for your video
capture card and camcorder.)
Building Your First Movie
You import all the pieces of your new film — video, photographs, and audio
effects — and you arrange them into orderly albums, ready for use in
ShowBiz. Now it’s time to grab your megaphone and start creating. You’ll
start by adding items on the linear Storyboard strip, which you use to literally assemble your movie, moving from left to right on the strip.
I recommend mapping out the general flow of my film on paper — even as a
simple list of scenes, titles, and images — before I start creating it. However,
ShowBiz makes editing so easy that many folks can simply build a film on
the fly, following their inspiration where it takes them. Go figure.
Anyway, when you’re ready for the real work, follow these steps:
1. Start ShowBiz by choosing Start➪All Programs➪ArcSoft ➪ShowBiz.
Or, if you’re already using the program, click the New button (under
the Project menu).
2. To add either a video clip or an image, click the Media tab in the
library to view the corresponding type of items; if you’ve built multiple
albums, you can switch between them by clicking the drop-down list
arrow next to the album name.
Making Movies
with Your PC
✦ By acquiring images from your scanner or camera: If your scanner or
digital camera is TWAIN compatible — and just about every decent
model is — connect your hardware and then click the Acquire button
(which bears a tiny digital camera and scanner) to import items directly.
ShowBiz will prompt you to select the image source from the available
TWAIN-compatible hardware devices. Again, the process varies according to the hardware that you’re using, but if you’re experienced with
scanning or downloading images, you’ll be in familiar waters.
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Building Your First Movie
If you need help identifying an item, view any item in the Player window
before you add it to the strip by right-clicking on the element in the list
and then choosing Preview Media from the pop-up menu that appears.
3. To include an item, add it to the strip in either of two ways:
• Click and drag the item from the library directly to the storyboard.
or
• Click the item in the library to select it and then click the Add Media
button at the bottom of the library.
ShowBiz adds the item to the next open media square on the strip.
Figure 3-3 illustrates a video clip that I added as the first scene in my
film.
When you have multiple items on the storyboard, you can change the
order in which they appear on the strip by clicking and dragging an item
from one media square to the desired media square.
4. Delete any item that you’ve added to the strip by right-clicking the
item on the strip and then choosing Delete from the pop-up menu that
appears, as shown in Figure 3-4.
Figure 3-3:
I’ve added
a video
clip to the
beginning
of the
storyboard.
Building Your First Movie
565
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Chapter 3
Making Movies
with Your PC
Figure 3-4:
Delete an
item (or the
whole
enchilada).
Decided that you don’t need that (somewhat disturbing) image of Uncle
Milton feeding the family dog? No problem! I wholeheartedly agree.
5. To trash everything that you’ve added to the strip and start over,
right-click any item on the strip and then choose Delete All Videos
and Images from the pop-up menu that appears.
Remember: All Hollywood directors occasionally throw tantrums.
To display the properties of an item on the Storyboard strip — for example,
the format of a video clip or its location on your hard drive — right-click the
item in the strip and choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears.
Figure 3-5 illustrates the file information for a video clip on my storyboard.
566
Adding Transitions without Breaking a Sweat
Figure 3-5:
Check
properties
for a video
clip here.
Adding Transitions without Breaking a Sweat
Imagine a film that cuts directly from scene-to-scene with no fade-ins, fadeouts, dissolves, or wipes. These are all types of transitions — and without
transitions, your movie will end up moving at a frantic pace. (I call it jarring
the audience; most horror films are shot with few transitions.) Of course,
this might be your intention with some projects, but it’s not likely to be your
goal with most films that you make. In this section, I demonstrate how to
add transitions to your film.
Transitions can be placed on the Storyboard strip only after you’ve added at
least one video clip or still image. After the strip contains at least one item,
follow these steps:
1. Click the Transitions tab in the library to display the list of transitions. (Click the album drop-down list to select a different category
of transition effects.)
ShowBiz has a cool feature to help you decide which transition you
want to use: Rest your mouse pointer on top of a transition in the list for
a few moments, and the item actually animates to demonstrate how the
transition will appear onscreen.
2. After you choose the perfect transition for this point in your film,
click the desired transition entry in the media list to select it.
3. Click the Add Transition button (below the library) to copy the transition into the next open transition square on the strip.
The effect is placed in front of the clip.
Note: Transition squares are smaller than media squares, and they’re
marked with a filmstrip icon with a diagonal cut. Figure 3-6 illustrates
the list of wipe transitions in the library list.
Adding Transitions without Breaking a Sweat
567
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Making Movies
with Your PC
Figure 3-6:
Add transitions to tie
your clips
together.
This icon indicates a transition.
4. To delete a transition that you’ve added to the strip, right-click the
transition square on the strip and then choose Delete from the pop-up
menu that appears.
Or, to get really radical, choose Delete All Transitions — from the same
pop-up menu — to remove all the transitions in your film with one fell
swoop.
To add the same transition throughout your movie, right-click any transition square on the strip and choose Apply Transition to All. (You can
even add a different transition between all the items by right-clicking
and choosing Random Transition to All. However, I personally don’t use
this feature because I think it generates a very haphazard film. Think
Monty Python’s Flying Circus . . . without the humor.)
As you experiment with transitions, you’ll begin to understand where
your movie needs them to link scenes and still images together, as well as
where you can simply cut from one item to the next. Remember, one of the
cardinal rules of filmmaking is to maintain the focus of your audience on
your message: Too many transitions are distracting.
568
Adding Special Effects without Paying George Lucas
Adding Special Effects without Paying George Lucas
I haven’t mentioned the Timeline strip yet because the first step of movie
making is to edit the clips and still images in your movie and add transitions (all of which is taken care of on the Storyboard strip). After you finish
these tasks, click the Timeline tab to switch to the display that you see in
Figure 3-7. From here, you can add special effects, incorporate a soundtrack
and text titles, and then modify the starting and ending points for each.
Note that the Timeline strip also has four smaller mini-strips (bottom-left of
Figure 3-7). The upper two, Text and Effects, allow you to edit the text and
special effects that you add; the lower two, Audio 1 and Audio 2, allow you
to edit the two audio tracks you can add to your movie. (I discuss each of
these in the sections to come.)
To refresh your memory on what’s happening in your film at any point on
the timeline, rest your mouse pointer over the desired spot for a moment,
and ShowBiz displays a pop-up that tells you the name of the transition,
clip, or still image that you added previously on the Storyboard strip.
Figure 3-7:
Add the
bells and
whistles
in the
Timeline
strip.
Adding Special Effects without Paying George Lucas
569
When most of us think about special effects in the movies, Star Wars and
Harry Potter come to mind: light-sabers, flying brooms, and invisibility
cloaks. (I really, really want one of those.) However, in the world of video
editing, an effect is a special visual appearance that you add to the video.
For example, ShowBiz allows you to
✦ Flip your movie’s alignment (horizontally or vertically)
✦ Add virtual raindrops or flames
✦ Display your movie on the side of a blimp
✦ Turn a video clip into a neon sign
Because ShowBiz is an entry-level (and hence relatively low-powered) video
editor, you can have only one effect active at a time, but you can place
multiple consecutive effects throughout your movie.
To experiment with effects, follow these steps:
1. Switch to the Timeline strip display and click the Effects tab in the
library to check out the available effects.
Again, you can choose another album of effects by clicking the album
drop-down list box.
2. Click the desired effect in the list to highlight it.
3. Click the Add Effect button (bottom of the Media list).
This copies the selected effect into the next open block on the Effects
row, located above the Timeline strip (see Figure 3-8).
4. To determine where your new effect will start and end during the
movie, hover your mouse pointer over the beginning or ending edge
of an effect block in the Effects row and then click and drag the edge.
To move the entire effect to another spot, simply click and drag the
effect block up or down the row to the desired spot.
Naturally, you can toggle back and forth between the Storyboard strip and
the Timeline strip as you work. In fact, one of the things that I enjoy most
about video editing is the freedom to try new things. With just a few clicks
of the mouse, you can add and delete clips, tinker with the effects, and just
generally monkey around with timings and placement until you get precisely
the film you want. How about them apples, Mr. Hitchcock?
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Chapter 3
Making Movies
with Your PC
Maybe these effects aren’t appropriate for your sister’s wedding video, but
when the subject of your movie is fun and games or when you want to
create a new film noir masterpiece in stark black-and-white, effects are just
the ticket. (Horrible pun intended.)
570
Adding Sound
Figure 3-8:
Heat things
up with
the Flame
effect.
Adding Sound
What movie is complete without a stirring soundtrack? For example, would
the zombies in Return of the Living Dead have been anywhere near as scary
without that punk rock playing in the background? Or how about the signature scary chord every time you saw any body part from the monster in
Creature from the Black Lagoon?
With ShowBiz, you can add two audio tracks to your film; typically, I use one
for the soundtrack and a second one for any additional narration or sound
effects that weren’t recorded with the video clips.
If a video clip already contains audio, you don’t have to add anything.
(In fact, most of the sample video clips provided with ShowBiz already have
their own audio.) However, you can still overlay — or, as videoheads call it,
dub — extra music or sound effects, which will play along with the audio
from the clip.
In addition to the sample audio provided with ShowBiz, the program also
accepts audio in MP3 and Microsoft WAV formats, and you can add your
audio tracks to the library in the same manner as video clips and still
photographs.
You’ve Just Gotta Have Titles!
571
To add a soundtrack, follow these steps:
1. Switch to the Timeline strip display, click the Media tab in the library,
and then choose either the Sample Audio album or an album of audio
that you’ve added yourself.
Click the album drop-down list box to choose another album.
2. Click the desired audio entry in the list to select it.
3. Click the Add Media button to add the selected audio.
It will appear in the next open block on the Audio 1 or the Audio 2 row
below the Timeline strip.
4. To move an audio block to another point within your film, click and
drag the block to where you want it.
Unlike an effect, however, you can’t adjust the beginning and ending
points for an audio clip.
You’ve Just Gotta Have Titles!
In movie jargon, titles can be anything from the opening titles of your film to
the ending credits. With ShowBiz, you can open your film with impressive
titles that fill the screen, or you can thank your brother for being Best Boy,
Grip, or Gaffer. (I have no earthly idea what those exalted individuals do,
but they must be pretty important.)
To add titles, you can use either of two methods (or mix both methods in
one film):
✦ Add a text item from the library: With the built-in animated text formatting provided by ShowBiz, you can impress your audience with your
powerful message. (This is the easier method, but you’re restricted to
the text formats provided by ShowBiz.)
✦ Insert a still image, that you’ve created, from the library: If you need a
specific title to match your exact specifications — for example, something incorporating a company logo — create a digital image with
Photoshop or another image-editing program and then add the image to
your library. A title that you build yourself outside of ShowBiz is added
to a media square just like a video clip, so follow the steps in the earlier
section “Building Your First Movie.”
Book VI
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Making Movies
with Your PC
Just like when adding an effect, each audio clip appears as a block.
ShowBiz adds the audio block to the Audio 1 row until that row is filled,
and then the clip is added to the Audio 2 row.
572
You’ve Just Gotta Have Titles!
To create and add a text item, follow these steps:
1. Click the Text tab in the library.
Feel free to click the album drop-down list box to choose different
categories of text effects.
2. Click the desired entry in the album list to select just the right text
effect.
3. Click the Add Text button to add the text effect into the next open
block on the Text row (above the Timeline strip).
For most of the text effects, ShowBiz will display a Text settings panel
like the one illustrated in Figure 3-9. In addition to typing the text for the
effect, you’ll typically be able to choose a font type, the size and color of
the letters, and even niceties such as shadows, blurring, and the intensity (or opacity) of the letters.
4. After you type the text and set the type options, click any other block
on the Timeline strip to return to your work.
Large view
Normal view
Figure 3-9:
Would you
give your
film anything less
than 36point titles?
I think not.
Full-screen view
Previewing Your Oscar-Winning Work
573
Text blocks can be adjusted and moved just like the visual effects: Simply
click and drag the beginning and ending edges of the text block, or click the
block and drag it to a new location.
Previewing Your Oscar-Winning Work
Okay, I know you’re itching to see what your next masterpiece looks like.
Lucky for you, ShowBiz allows you to preview your work any time. Of
course, your Storyboard strip must contain at least one video clip or still
image, or you’ll have nothing to preview. These are the two different
Preview modes:
✦ Preview the complete movie: To view the entire film from beginning to
end, click the Entire Movie button under the Player window and then
click the Play button. Like most other video editors, ShowBiz must
apply the effects that you’ve selected before the film can be shown.
This process is rendering, and it can lead to a considerable wait on older
PCs. (This is the reason why professional video editors crave the most
powerful personal computers on the market . . . otherwise, they tend to
keel over from sheer boredom while the rendering drags on.)
ShowBiz generally has to render your effects any time that you preview a
film if you’ve changed anything. Therefore, I advise that you save a fulllength preview until you’ve finished as much of your effects work as possible.
When you click Play, ShowBiz displays a yellow line across the Timeline or
Storyboard strip to show you the current point in the film, which comes in
handy when you need to check the synchronization of different elements in
your film with one another, such as effects, titles, or audio. The program
also displays the total duration of the selected clip (or the entire movie) as
well as the elapsed time.
The other controls under the Player window operate much like they do
in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. To stop the preview, click the Stop
button (it’s the button with the yellow square); to pause the film at the
current point, click the Play button again. You can also reposition the preview at any point within your film by clicking and dragging the slider underneath the Player window.
Making Movies
with Your PC
✦ Preview the current clip: To see how a single clip or image will look,
click the desired media square on the Storyboard strip to select it and
then click the Active Clip button (which appears under the Player
window). Click the familiar Play control — the right-pointing triangle —
to start the preview.
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Saving and Burning Before Traveling to Cannes
For a larger preview, toggle the Player window into expanded mode with the
three View buttons at the top-right corner of the Player window. You can
choose between Normal view (the default), Large, and Full-screen.
Saving and Burning Before Traveling to Cannes
I think that Cannes is somewhere in France . . . or perhaps Belgium. Anyway,
it’s a big thing among filmmaking legends like you and me, so you’ll want at
least one copy of your finished masterwork to carry along with you. Luckily,
ShowBiz allows you to save your films or even record them to a disc — both
of which I cover in this last section.
You can always save your work in progress. To save a project that you’re
working on to your hard drive for later, click the Project button in the upperleft corner of the ShowBiz window and choose Save. Windows opens the
familiar Save As dialog box, where you can specify a location and a filename.
After your project is completed, here are two methods that you can use to
produce a finished movie.
Creating a digital video file on your hard drive
If you simply want to watch your film on your PC monitor — without necessarily burning it to a CD or DVD — this is the best option. Just don’t forget
that it can take several hundred megabytes or more of space to store a
single movie. Follow these steps:
1. Click Save (located in the Movie group at the upper-left of the
window).
ShowBiz displays the Save dialog box that you see in Figure 3-10.
2. Type a filename and click the Browse button to specify a location
where the video file will be stored.
If you enable the Add to Album check box, your movie becomes a clip
that you can use in future projects; just click the Album drop-down list
box to specify the destination album. (Why re-edit that chariot race
over and over? Turn it into stock footage!)
3. Click the Format drop-down list box to choose the format (MPEG1,
MPEG2, QuickTime MOV, or Windows AVI format).
I usually choose either MPEG2 (which is the most common format and
can be readily viewed on Mac OS and Linux) or Windows AVI (which is
limited to PCs, but any machine running Windows 98 or later can view
your movie).
Saving and Burning Before Traveling to Cannes
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4. Click the Settings button to specify options such as the frame size and
audio quality.
The Format dialog box opens.
Check out the settings for MPEG-2 in Figure 3-11. Naturally, your movie’s
file size will grow if you choose larger frame sizes, higher frame rates,
and the better audio and video quality settings.
After these settings are correct, click Save to return to the Save dialog box.
Figure 3-11:
Specify
settings
for a digital
video file
here.
Making Movies
with Your PC
Figure 3-10:
Save your
masterpieces here.
576
Saving and Burning Before Traveling to Cannes
5. Click OK to create the DV file.
ShowBiz allows you to save your film as a video e-mail file, which is small
enough to attach to an e-mail message and send to anyone running
Windows. This is guaranteed to amaze and delight your Dad, who will think
you’ve been hobnobbing with Bill Gates.
Recording your own CD or DVD
For me, this is the neatest option of all. You can walk up to that smug knowit-all at your local video store and boast that you have the world’s only
video CD copy of My Family Reunion Bloopers 2003! (Heck, tell him you’ll be
happy to burn him a copy for a small fee.)
To record your movie on a CD or DVD, follow these steps:
1. Rest your tired mouse pointer atop the Export button in the Movie
group and choose CD/DVD from the pop-up menu that appears.
ShowBiz snaps to attention and displays the Make CD dialog box that
you see in Figure 3-12.
Figure 3-12:
Houston,
we are go
to burn!
2. If ShowBiz recognizes a CD recording application on your system,
click the Select Device drop-down list and select your CD or DVD
recorder.
Saving and Burning Before Traveling to Cannes
577
If your drive doesn’t appear, don’t panic — that means that ShowBiz
doesn’t recognize any compatible recording programs. Instead, select
the Save a Copy to Disk check box to enable it. Then type a filename,
click the Browse button to specify a location where the video file will be
stored, and record it manually later with your CD recording software.
3. To save your movie as a clip in the library album that you specify,
select the Add to Album check box.
4. Click the Format drop-down list to choose the type of disc that you
want to burn.
The most compatible choice (and the one I use most often) is Video CD
File, which can be played on virtually any DVD player and on most PCs
as well.
the film.
The Format dialog box opens.
The default settings for the Video CD and DVD formats are optimized for
those specific media types, so leave these settings alone unless you’re
sure of what you’re doing. (Repeat after me: “Defaults are usually good
things.”)
6. Click Save to apply any changes and to return to the Make CD
dialog box.
7. Click OK.
ShowBiz automatically cranks up your CD-burning software to handle
the rest of the job.
If you’re going to create a DVD, make sure that you use the DVD File format,
which results in a much higher-quality MPEG-2 image. (As you might expect,
you won’t be able to burn this monster video to a mere CD, so most of us
will stick to the Video CD File format.)
If you’re feeling somewhat lost inside your CD recording software, I can
heartily recommend a sister book in the For Dummies series that can answer
your burning questions. (Sorry, that pun was uncalled for, and my editors
should have removed it.) Anyway, CD and DVD Recording For Dummies can
walk you through all the tricks that your faithful CD or DVD recorder can
perform. From Wiley Publishing, Inc., it’s written — blush — by yours truly.
You’ll be creating all sorts of audio, data, and video CDs in no time . . . with
aplomb, too. (I think that’s a good thing.)
Making Movies
with Your PC
5. Click the Settings button to select the proper quality settings for
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Book VI: Fun with Movies, Music, and Photos
Chapter 4: I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
In This Chapter
Creating a menu
Selecting a style
Trimming your clips to fit
Previewing your DVD menu
Recording a finished DVD video
Recording a DVD volume
Y
ou know, as a PC owner — and a dedicated movie fan with my own
digital video (DV) camcorder — I honestly can’t think of a current technology in the world of personal computers that’s more exciting than burning
my own DVD videos! That’s why I chose the title for this chapter: DVD
recording is new enough and sounds so much like rocket science that even
many PC power users don’t know much about it. (Another large cross section of PC owners knows that recording DVDs is possible on a PC but thinks
that it’s too complex or far too expensive.)
With the recent drop in the price of DVD-R drives — and the availability of
easy-to-use DVD authoring software like MyDVD 4 — recording your own
DVD videos is now kid’s stuff. Trust me: You can do this, and it won’t cost
you an arm and a leg. Your DVD videos will have professional-looking
menus, and they’ll run on standard DVD players. But instead of watching
Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’ll be watching your family at Walt Disney
World. (And unlike those tapes, your DVD home movies will never wear out!)
MyDVD 4 can also create video CDs with MyDVD, which means that the
program even accommodates those of us with antique CD-RW drives. Note,
though, that a video CD has much less storage space than a DVD, so your
movies must be much shorter. (Usually about an hour.) Also, the video
quality of a video CD is nowhere near as good as that of a DVD. Therefore,
I eschew video CDs in this chapter and concentrate on recording DVDs by
using existing video clips and multimedia files from your hard drive.
580
Welcome to MyDVD
Welcome to MyDVD
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of MyDVD 4, from Sonic Solutions (www.sonic.
com); for about $80, you can produce truly professional-looking DVD movies
on your own PC. To begin your foray into the world of Digital Versatile
Discs (or whatever the heck DVD means — check out the nearby sidebar),
either double-click the MyDVD icon on your desktop or choose Start➪
All Programs➪Sonic➪MyDVD➪Start MyDVD. The program displays the
combination welcome screen and wizard that you see in Figure 4-1.
From the opening wizard, you can choose to
✦ Create a new MyDVD project or edit an existing project.
✦ Transfer video Direct-to-DVD.
✦ Edit an existing DVD and then re-record it.
✦ Run the MyDVD tutorial, which is HyperText Markup Language
(HTML)-based (and launches Internet Explorer).
✦ Display the MyDVD Help system.
Figure 4-1:
The Sonic
MyDVD
wizard
screen.
Welcome to MyDVD
581
To bypass the wizard screen entirely and jump to the MyDVD main window,
select the Don’t Show This Window Again check box to enable it.
Speaking of the MyDVD main window, click Create or Modify a DVD-Video
Project to begin your first project. Figure 4-2 illustrates the program’s main
window.
Of the slew of different DVD formats out there, only one is compatible with
virtually all DVD players: That’s DVD-R, the record-once version of the DVDRW (rewriteable disc). If you burn a DVD project on a DVD-RW, DVD+R, or
DVD+RW, it might not run on your DVD player. Or, even worse, it might run
fine on yours but be completely useless on your Aunt Betty’s machine.
+R/RW and -R/RW are different formats, too, and they’re not compatible!
I do believe that a Mark’s Maxim is in order:
Toolbar
Figure 4-2:
Your DVD
wonderland — the
MyDVD
main
window.
DVD remote control panel
Content window
I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
The only way to be completely sure that a DVD produced by your
recorder will work on a particular DVD player is to actually try it!
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Menus ’R Easy!
I should know what DVD stands for . . .
. . . and the rest of the civilized world is still
scratching its head as well. Normally, I’m pretty
sure about what an abbreviation stands for, but
in this case, I have two choices!
minds as a video storage medium. (After all,
DVD movies caught on like wildfire — there
was none of that VHS-versus-beta waffling that
the 30-something crowd remembers.)
When the DVD standards were being developed, everyone agreed that the recordable
version of the new disc would be useful for all
sorts of neat things — not just for storing video,
but for backups, data, superior audio, and anything else that a PC owner could think of with
4.7GB of free space handy. Therefore, everyone
proudly agreed that the new standard should
be called DVD, short for Digital Versatile Disc.
Everyone went home and celebrated.
During that same time, everyone without a DVD
standards book handy took one look at the
abbreviation and exclaimed, “That’s got to mean
Digital Video Disc, right?” Now, even most computer books and Web sites claim that Digital
Video Disc is the original meaning!
However, it took three or four years for recordable DVD technology to arrive at a price point
that regular folks could afford. And by that time,
DVD had become firmly entrenched in people’s
That leaves us with one of the most interesting
abbreviations this side of TWAIN (technology
without an interesting name). And whether you
side with the original translation or the popular
meaning, everyone still agrees that DVD technology is the cat’s meow. (You can still celebrate
if you like.)
Menus ’R Easy!
DVD authoring programs allow you to build a menu system that can be controlled by a DVD player’s remote control; the person viewing your disc will
press buttons to select from the menu choices that you’ve laid out. After
you build the menu framework, you essentially connect your video clips to
the menu system. MyDVD also enables you to add screens with still photos
from your digital camera or scanner. I always think of an art gallery, where
the walls provide a backdrop for the paintings (and where those silly little
rope fences are supposed to guide you to the proper place). (Personally,
I jump right over the fences — which is why I’m barred from visiting any
art galleries in my town.)
In the past, DVD authoring software was a confusing nest of weird-looking
arrows, funky technical terms, and configuration settings that would give a
Mensa member a splitting headache — but applications like MyDVD (and
iDVD in the Mac world) have revolutionized how you construct a DVD video.
The default style used in MyDVD is Allegro, which has a musical feel to it.
A MyDVD style is a combination of a menu background, a button appearance,
and a font format. (More on this in the next section.)
Menus ’R Easy!
583
In this example, I show you how to build a menu system with a video clip,
a submenu, and a still image slideshow. Follow these steps:
1. First, change the menu title to something more appropriate than
Click here to change text (refer to Figure 4-2).
Okay, it’s catchy and instructive, but I doubt Uncle Milton would be
impressed.
a. Click the title, which opens a text editing box (see Figure 4-3).
b. Type the new title for your disc menu and then press Enter to
save it.
2. Add your first video clip to your menu.
MyDVD displays a standard Open dialog box.
b. Navigate to a specific clip on your hard drive and double-click it
to load it.
This displays your first menu button, as shown in Figure 4-4, with
the clip filename as the default button label.
Figure 4-3:
Change
the title for
your menu.
I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
a. Click the Get Movies button in the toolbar at the left of the
window (or press Ctrl+G).
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Menus ’R Easy!
Menu button
Figure 4-4:
Add video
clips to
your menu.
Disc space remaining
MyDVD can accept all three of the Big Three digital video formats: AVI,
MOV, and MPEG. Therefore, you don’t have to convert your video clips
from one format to another before you use them in your projects.
3. If you wish, change the title on the button to something more
appealing.
a. Click the text under the clip button.
MyDVD opens a text editing box.
b. Type the new label for the button and then press Enter to save it.
You just created your first menu! (A little rudimentary, of course, but you
could actually save the project and record it at this point.) By the way, keep
an eye on the disc-shaped graph in the lower-left corner of the MyDVD
window. When you add menus, photos, and video clips, it’s updated to show
how much space is available on a disc (and how much space remains on a
typical 4.7GB recordable DVD).
Menus ’R Easy!
585
If you’re going to record your project onto a video CD, click the drop-down
list next to the disc graph to switch between different DVD format capacities.
You can now add a submenu to your DVD menu. A submenu is a branch
command that takes you to another menu level under the top-level menu.
I use submenus for organizing different clips and images by date or subject.
For example, you could create a single DVD with clips from an entire year
and then add submenus for vacation video clips, Christmas videos, and
school clips.
To create a submenu, just follow this yellow brick road:
1. Click the Add Sub-menu button on the left toolbar to create the
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Chapter 4
Untitled Menu button that you see in Figure 4-5.
A submenu button
Figure 4-5:
A submenu
button in
its natural
habitat.
I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
Note: The default icon for the submenu is different from a video clip
button, which uses a frame from the clip itself.
586
Menus ’R Easy!
2. To change the label on the submenu button to something appropriate,
click the text under the submenu button, type the new label for the
button, and then press Enter to save it.
Look at the structure of the submenu screen. Double-click the submenu
button to display it (see the results in Figure 4-6). MyDVD always adds
two new navigation buttons to the bottom of the new screen:
• Home: Clicking this takes you back to the main Title screen of the
menu.
• Previous: Clicking this takes you back to the previous menu
screen, which is handy for when a submenu appears within
another submenu.
These buttons also work while you’re creating the menu; just double-click
a navigation button to use it. (After all, you need a way to move between
menu screens.)
Figure 4-6:
An empty
submenu
screen.
Home
Previous
Menus ’R Easy!
587
Other than the Home and Previous buttons, a submenu works just like the
top-level Title menu. You can add another video clip by clicking the Get
Movies button (as I demonstrate earlier) or the Add Slideshow button or
even add another menu level with another submenu. However, note this one
thing that you can do with a submenu that you can’t do to the Title menu
screen: A submenu can be deleted. (This makes sense because your project
always needs a Title menu.) To delete a submenu, display it, right-click the
menu background, and then choose Delete Menu from the pop-up menu that
appears.
Speaking of deleting items, you can also delete any button that you’ve
added to a menu by right-clicking it and then choosing Delete Button from
the pop-up menu that appears. Again, deleting a button is like deleting a
menu: You remove everything that was linked to the button — so MyDVD
again prompts you for confirmation, just to make sure.
Onward. To add a slideshow to your submenu, walk this way.
1. Click the Add Slideshow button (left side of the main screen).
MyDVD opens the Create Slideshow dialog box that you see in
Figure 4-7.
2. Click the Get Pictures button (left side) to display the Open dialog
box. There, select one or more pictures from your hard drive for your
slideshow and then click the Open button, which displays the images
in the filmstrip.
At the bottom of this screen, check out how MyDVD keeps track of
how much space the show takes on the DVD as well as the length of
the show.
3. To choose a specific picture as the slideshow button image, click the
desired image in the filmstrip and then click the Button Image button
on the left toolbar.
4. To control the delay for each image and choose an audio soundtrack
(in MP3 or WAV format), click the Settings button, which displays the
Slideshow Settings dialog box as shown in Figure 4-8.
5. Click the Advanced tab to choose an optional transition that will
appear between slides.
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Deleting a submenu also deletes any buttons (and the corresponding content) that might still be on the submenu. For this reason, MyDVD will prompt
you for deletion confirmation. To verify that you want to delete everything
on the current menu from your project, click OK. (Note, however, that deleting a submenu doesn’t permanently delete any video clips that were on it
from your hard drive. That would be the very definition of A Bad Thing.)
588
Menus ’R Easy!
Figure 4-7:
Choose
photos
for your
slideshow.
Figure 4-8:
Set your
slideshow
options
here.
6. After you add all the photos that you want to your slideshow filmstrip,
click OK to save your changes and return to the submenu screen.
Figure 4-9 shows the slideshow button (Untitled Slideshow) on the submenu. (You’ll probably want to change the label on the slideshow button
as well. Just click the text, type in a new name, and then press Enter.)
Changing the Look of Your Menus
589
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I Can Make
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Figure 4-9:
Your completed
submenu.
You’ve finished your menu system — in a minimum of short steps, no less!
Press Ctrl+S to save the project, enter a filename when MyDVD prompts you,
and then click Save to store your masterwork on your hard drive.
Changing the Look of Your Menus
At this point, you might be satisfied with the results of your work. If so,
you’re ready to move to the next section. However, what if your video clips
and photo slideshow have nothing to do with music? At this point, it’s time
to dump Allegro (no offense) and choose a menu style more fitting for the
content of your disc. MyDVD includes special styles for holidays and all
sorts of events as well as themes based on colors.
You can switch styles at any time during the development of your DVD
menu. Generally, I wait until the end because I can see the entire effect
with the fonts, colors, and button borders on the different elements in my
project.
590
Changing the Look of Your Menus
To choose a new style, follow these steps:
1. Click the Edit Style button in the top toolbar.
This displays the Edit Style dialog box that you see in Figure 4-10. Here,
you can choose from two different types of menu styles. By default,
MyDVD uses nonanimated graphics.
Figure 4-10:
Change the
style to fit
the mood of
your DVD
content.
2. To use an animated style, choose Motion Styles from the drop-down
list box at the upper-left of the Edit Style dialog box.
3. Click the style that you want from the scrolling list at the left of the
dialog box.
The preview window is automatically updated with the new style.
To use the new style as it is, click OK. Figure 4-11 illustrates the menu
system that uses the Sports 01 style. You can also use the options on the
Edit Style dialog box to choose a favorite background picture, button frame,
or background music track for your style. And, in turn, if you want to use it
for future MyDVD projects, you can click the Save as Custom Style button to
create a new style under the name you provide. (For instance, I create new
styles with my own background pictures and save them for later.)
Trimming Movies with Panache
591
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I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
Figure 4-11:
Now you’re
ready for
that soccer
footage.
To pick a photo (or a video clip) of your own as a background, click the
Choose button next to the Select Custom Video or Still Background dropdown list box in the Edit Style dialog box (refer to Figure 4-10).
Trimming Movies with Panache
Unfortunately, it’s rare that a video clip will begin or end precisely where
you want; most clips have extraneous stuff that needs to be trimmed
away. Instead of loading your clips in a full-blown video editor like Adobe
Premiere — which is a much more powerful and ponderous program than
you need for this simple task — MyDVD gives you the ability to trim the
beginning and ending of your clips from within the program. Truly sassy!
This great feature even goes one better: It doesn’t actually remove any material from your video clips, so you don’t have to spend any time saving or
converting them (which can take minutes, even on the fastest PC). Instead,
the MyDVD trim process only marks the beginning and ending points that
you choose for a clip, leaving the original digital video file untouched on
your hard drive.
592
Trimming Movies with Panache
To trim a clip, follow these steps:
1. Navigate through the menus that you’ve created until you find the
menu screen with the video that you need to trim.
2. To begin trimming the clip, double-click it.
MyDVD displays the Trimming dialog box as shown in Figure 4-12. Three
thumbnail frames show you the start of the clip, the frame used as the
button image, and the ending of the clip.
Figure 4-12:
Just a trim,
please.
Drag the slider where you
want the clip to begin.
Drag the slider where you
want the clip to end.
Drag to change the button image.
3. Click and drag the green slider (which corresponds to the Start
Frame) to the desired location where you want the clip to begin.
MyDVD automatically updates the Start Frame preview to show you the
new starting frame.
You can also click the slider that you want to move and press the leftand right-arrow keys to move backward and forward one frame at a
time.
4. Click and drag the red End Frame slider to the desired location
where the clip should end.
You can use the updated End Frame preview image to gauge where you
are in the clip.
Trimming Movies with Panache
593
5. To choose a different frame for the image that will appear on the
video button, click the thumbs-up marker and drag it until you see
the desired frame in the Button Image preview image.
This is a great feature when your video starts with a black screen.
6. When you’re done trimming, click OK to set the markers and return
to the menu screen.
If you’d rather start over and try again, click Reset and follow these
steps anew.
Figure 4-13:
Hey, Ma,
MyDVD just
popped up
ArcSoft
ShowBiz!
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I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
Trimming a video clip is different from actually editing the video. But if you
happen to have both MyDVD and ArcSoft ShowBiz installed on your PC, you
can click the Edit Video button in the top toolbar to edit your video clips.
In fact, MyDVD automatically launches ShowBiz (see Figure 4-13), which
I conveniently cover in the previous chapter of this mini-book. (Anything
for my readers!)
594
Time to Preview
Time to Preview
Would a Hollywood studio release a movie these days without a trailer? Not
very likely . . . and MyDVD allows you to preview your disc before you burn
it. I’m all for avoiding the possibility of wasting a recordable DVD because
something was wrong with my videos or my menu system. In Preview mode,
MyDVD will display your project just as it will appear in a DVD player. You
even get a virtual remote control that you can use to test out your menu
system.
Dig that crazy safe zone!
Did you know that your TV has a safe zone?
Well, at least it does to a video editor. The safe
zone refers to the actual height and width
dimensions of the TV signal that’s displayed
by an NTSC (or North American Standard) television. An NTSC signal is somewhat larger than
the television screen. That additional border
helps prevent you from seeing any distortion at
the edges of your picture, but it also means that
you could conceivably chop off part of the
background or a video clip.
To verify that your movies look good in the safe
zone before you record them, use MyDVD’s safe
zone border. The program displays a rectangle
that marks the boundary of the safe zone, as
shown in this figure. To turn on the safe zone
border, choose View➪Show TV Safe Zone. To
turn it off, choose the menu item again.
Now if they could only invent a gadget to edit
out that reality-TV trash that they show these
days.
Time to Preview
595
To enter Preview mode at any time, click the Preview button on the bottom
of the screen (or press Ctrl+P). Your menu system appears exactly as it will
onscreen, and the remote control pad (which is normally disabled) is ready
to use, as shown in Figure 4-14. Click any button to simulate the press of
that button on your DVD player’s remote control.
Click the Title button to display the Title menu, and click the Menu button
to display the last menu that you used.
After you’ve checked each button and function on your menu, click the
Stop button on the remote control to exit Preview mode. You can then make
any changes that you need to make to your menu, or you can record your
project to disc.
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Figure 4-14:
Preview
your work
before you
record
the disc.
A simulated remote control
596
Burning Your DVD and Celebrating Afterwards
Burning Your DVD and Celebrating Afterwards
Here it is — the moment that you’ve been waiting for with such anticipation!
But before you decide to spend a disc on your project, I should mention that
MyDVD can actually create two different types of DVD videos:
✦ A standard DVD video: This is a physical DVD-R that can be loaded in
a DVD player.
✦ A DVD volume: If you select this method of recording a DVD, the files
aren’t actually burned to a disc. Instead, MyDVD records them to a separate folder on your hard drive, where you can either record them later
or view them with a software DVD player like Sonic’s CinePlayer, as
shown in Figure 4-15. (This is a great option if you’re working on a
laptop and you’re using an external FireWire or USB 2.0 DVD recorder,
but you don’t happen to have the recorder handy. You can save the
project as a DVD volume and burn it later when you get back to your
home or office.)
Figure 4-15:
You can
watch DVD
volumes
with Sonic’s
CinePlayer
viewer.
Burning Your DVD and Celebrating Afterwards
597
To burn a DVD video from your project, follow these steps:
1. Load a blank disc into your recorder.
2. Click the Burn button on the remote control pad on the bottom of
the MyDVD window (or press Ctrl+D).
MyDVD prompts you to save the project.
3. Click Yes, type a filename, and then click Save.
The program displays the Make Disc Setup dialog box that you see in
Figure 4-16.
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I Can Make
My Own DVDs?
Figure 4-16:
Preparing
to burn a
DVD video.
4. If you have more than one recorder on your system, click the Device
drop-down list to choose which drive will be used.
5. Click in the Copies box and type the number of copies that you want
to make.
I recommend leaving the Write Speed setting at Auto; that way, your
DVD recorder can record at a slower speed if the DVD media that you’re
using doesn’t support full-speed burning.
6. Click OK and sit back to watch your recorder do the work.
To save a DVD volume, follow these steps:
1. Choose Tools➪Make DVD Folder.
MyDVD displays the Browse for Folder dialog box that you see in
Figure 4-17.
2. Click the location where the DVD volume folder should be stored.
3. Click OK to begin creating the DVD volume.
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Burning Your DVD and Celebrating Afterwards
Figure 4-17:
Select a
location
for a DVD
volume.
Chapter 5: I’m Okay, You’re
a Digital Camera
In This Chapter
Understanding digital camera technology
Evaluating the advantages of digital photography
Buying extras (besides your camera)
Composing photographs for better results
Organizing your images
Downloading your images
I
’ll be the first to assure you that I’m no Ansel Adams, yet I’ve been capturing moments and memories on film for most of my life now, and I’ve
slowly worked my way into what most folks would deem semiprofessional
photography. (That means I can shoot a decent portrait, I take on a commission from time-to-time, and I have a reasonably well-stuffed camera bag.)
Does that mean I’m loaded down with expensive 35mm cameras and a
dozen different varieties of film? Definitely not! I’ve never been darkroom
material, and film photography no longer excites me. These days, I work
entirely with digital cameras, which don’t use traditional film at all. Why
digital? My entire portfolio of digital photos — which would easily fill up
a dozen traditional bound photo albums — fits comfortably on a 700MB
CD-ROM. I can display those photographs on practically any PC or print
hard copies that are almost impossible to tell from film prints. I don’t spend
a dime on film processing, either — and when you take 10 to 20 images a
day, that savings really adds up.
I’d like to spend a chapter introducing you to the world of digital photography. You’ll discover how a digital camera works, why it’s better in many
respects than a film camera, and how to move images that you’ve taken
from your camera to your PC. If you’re interested in shooting better pictures, I’ll also cover a number of well-worn basic rules used by professional
photographers all over the world. You’ll also discover how to download
your images from your digital camera (by using the features that are built
into Windows XP) and how to catalog your photographs (thus making it
easier to locate a specific image).
600
How Does a Digital Camera Work?
One more thing before I get started: I should mention that I’m the author
of the HP Digital Photography Handbook, by Wiley Publishing, Inc. If you’re
hungry for a much more comprehensive, in-depth look at digital photography (after you finish this appetizer of a chapter), you’ll find it a valuable
guide. Plus, it’s a full-color book — the pictures look much better!
How Does a Digital Camera Work?
A common misconception surrounds today’s digital cameras: Because they
don’t use film and because they produce pictures as data files, many folks
think that digital cameras must use a radically different method of capturing
an image. Actually, your family film camera and that power-hungry, batterymunching digital camera that you got for Christmas are remarkably similar
in most respects.
As you see in Figure 5-1, a film camera has a shutter that opens for a set
amount of time (usually a fraction of a second), admitting light into the body
of the camera through at least one lens. (Of course, that lens can be
adjusted to bring other objects at other distances into focus, or different
lenses can be tacked on.) Figure 5-2 illustrates (up to this point, anyway)
that your film camera and its digital brethren work exactly the same.
Shutter opens for a
fraction of a second
to admit light
Figure 5-1:
A film
camera
captures
your image
on lightsensitive
material.
Motor winds exposed film
Film reacts
to light
Lens adjusts to
focus on the subject
Unexposed film
The big difference is the method that each of these two types of cameras
uses to record that incoming light. To wit:
How Does a Digital Camera Work?
601
✦ A film camera uses a strip of light-sensitive celluloid coated with silver
halide, which retains the image. The film must later be developed, and
the negatives/positives that are produced can be used (reproduced,
usually on photographic paper) to make copies of the photograph.
✦ A digital camera, on the other hand, uses a grid (or array) of photosensitive sensors to record the incoming pattern of light. Each sensor
returns an electrical current when it’s struck by the incoming light.
Because the amount of current returned varies with the amount of light,
your camera’s electronic innards can combine the different current
levels into a composite pattern of data that represents the incoming
light: in other words, an image, in the form of a binary file.
Book VI
Chapter 5
Figure 5-2:
In a digital
camera, the
light triggers
a set of
photosensitive sensors.
Light strikes sensor array
RAM Card
Lens adjusts to
focus on the subject
electrical
signal
Image data is stored
in the camera's
RAM card
If you’ve read some of my other books on CD recording and scanning, you
already know about binary, which is the common language shared by all
computers. Although your eye can’t see any image in the midst of all those
ones and zeros, your computer can display them as a photograph — and
print the image, if you like, or send it to your Aunt Harriet in Boise as an
e-mail attachment.
“Wait a second, Mark: How does the image file get to my computer?” That’s
a very good question because naturally, no one wants to carry a PC around
just to shoot a photograph. Your digital camera stores the image file until
you can transfer (download) it to your computer. Different types of cameras
use different methods of storing the image files:
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
Shutter opens
to admit light
602
The Pros and Cons of Digital Photography
✦ RAM cards: Random access memory (RAM) cards (the most common
storage method) are removable memory cards that function much like
the memory modules used by your computer. In fact, some cards are
actually interchangeable with personal digital assistants (PDAs) and
palmtop PCs. The most popular types of media include CompactFlash
(www.sandisk.com), SmartMedia (www.microtech.com), and Memory
Stick (www.sony.com) cards, generally ranging from 8 megabytes (MB)
to 256MB or 512MB of storage. When the card is full of images, you
either download the images from the card to free up space, or you can
eject it and put in a spare empty card.
✦ Hard drives: Yep, you read right; some cameras have their own
onboard hard drives, and others use tiny removable hard drives that
are roughly the same size as a RAM card. Naturally, these little beauties
can easily store a gigabyte (GB) or more of your images. (Geez, I’m old
enough to remember when a full-sized computer hard drive couldn’t
store that much.)
✦ Floppy drives: Okay, I know that I rant on and on throughout this book
about how unreliable floppies can be and how I use them only as a last
resort, yet some digital cameras use floppies to store photos. (Guess
what? I don’t like those cameras. Go figure.) If your camera uses floppies, make doggone sure that you get your images backed up to your
computer’s hard drive as soon as possible. Because of the larger images
produced by today’s cameras, floppy-based digital cameras are rapidly
disappearing from the market.
✦ CD-RW drives: Here’s the ultimate: a camera that can burn your digital
photographs directly onto a CD-R or CD-RW! Although these cameras
can be a little bulkier than models that use RAM cards, this just plain
rocks. As you might expect, you’ll pay a premium price for one of these
jewels.
If you’re wondering approximately how many images you can fit onto a specific RAM card, remember that most of today’s 2- to 3-megapixel cameras
produce images about 200–300K at their highest quality mode.
The Pros and Cons of Digital Photography
I mention earlier in this chapter that I’ve switched completely from my
35mm single lens reflex (SLR) cameras to a (rapidly expanding) collection of
digital cameras. However, there’s a lot more to like about the digital revolution than just cutting the expenses of film and processing. Other advantages
include the following:
The Pros and Cons of Digital Photography
603
✦ Digital prints are versatile. The digital photographs that you take can
be enclosed in e-mail messages, burned as CD-ROM slide shows, or displayed as your PC’s Windows desktop and screensaver. Of course, you
can also print them; and with today’s special inkjet papers, your images
can end up on things like greeting cards and T-shirt transfers.
If you’re interested in producing prints from your digital photographs in
the shortest time possible, check out one of the latest inkjet printers
that can directly accept memory cards from your digital camera. Heck,
with one of these inkjet marvels, you don’t need a PC. Some of these
printers can even rotate and resize images as well.
✦ Easy editing with your PC. Imagine everything that can go wrong with a
picture: a bad exposure, a case of red eye, or perhaps a tree sprouting
from someone’s head. With a digital photograph, you can reduce or
eliminate these problems altogether; with the proper editing, a bad picture becomes mediocre, and a good picture can become a work of art.
Bonus: After the images are on your PC, you can edit or print them
immediately.
✦ Manage your photographs on location. Imagine being able to review a
shot as soon as it’s taken. With a traditional film camera, you’re stuck
with what you’ve taken, and you won’t see the results until that roll of film
has been developed. A digital camera, however, gives you the freedom to
actually manage your images. For example, you can view each image on a
memory card and delete the ones that you don’t need to free up space.
Using the camera’s liquid crystal diode (LCD) screen also allows you to
review a photograph as soon as you’ve taken it. Don’t like the way a particular photograph turned out? If you review each shot as soon as you’ve
snapped it — which I always do — you can try to retake most pictures
immediately! (Of course, this feature won’t help you if the UFO has
already zipped over the horizon, but it’s darned handy on vacation.)
Many digital cameras on the market these days can also do double-duty as
simple video camcorders — at least for 30, 60, or 120 seconds — using a feature called movie mode. Some cameras can even record audio along with the
video; the amount of time that you can record depends on the amount of
storage available, so a digital camera with a 128MB memory card can capture
many more seconds of video than a camera with only a 16MB memory card.
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I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
✦ Look, Ma, no developing! With a digital camera, you have practically
instant access to your photographs. Save yourself the trip to the photo
store — even a one-hour photo lab can’t match the five minutes that it
takes to connect your camera to your PC (with a Universal Serial Bus
[USB] or FireWire cable) and download your images to your hard drive.
(And you’ll also avoid the ravages of a misaligned development machine
or a clumsy operator.)
604
The Pros and Cons of Digital Photography
However, all is not perfect in the digital world . . . not yet, at least. Film cameras aren’t doomed to share the fate of the dinosaurs because traditional
film photography still has these advantages over digital photography:
✦ Film cameras are still less expensive. Although digital cameras have
dropped considerably in price over the last few years, film cameras still
provide better resolution and image quality for a lower initial price. In
fact, at the time of this writing, any inexpensive film camera under $100
can still take a better photograph than a $300 digital camera. Of course,
if you’re willing to spend more, you’ll narrow the quality gap . . . but not
for long. While digital camera prices continue to drop, an average digital
camera will eventually be able to take a shot that’s as good as a film
camera.
How can you tell which digital cameras produce better images? While
shopping for a digital camera, keep the camera’s megapixel rating in
mind — that’s the number of pixels (or individual dots) in an image that
the camera can capture. Here’s another Mark’s Maxim to keep handy:
The higher the megapixel value, the better the image quality, the
more expensive the camera, and the larger the photographs that you
can print.
As a rule, a 2-megapixel camera is suitable for most casual photography,
but amateur photographers will prefer at least a 3-megapixel camera.
Cameras in the 4- 5-megapixel range can match a typical 35mm camera
in quality.
✦ Film cameras are better at capturing motion. Most consumer digital
cameras in the 2- and 3-megapixel range still have trouble taking shots
of subjects in motion, such as sporting events. (This is because of the
longer delay required for those photosensitive sensors to capture the
image.) Today’s more expensive, higher-megapixel cameras are much
better at motion (stop action) photography.
✦ Man, do those digital cameras use the juice! Unlike a film camera, a digital camera relies on battery power for everything, including that powerhungry LCD display. If you’re in the middle of shooting a wedding and
you haven’t packed a spare set of batteries, you have my condolences.
A film camera is far less demanding on its batteries.
✦ You need those ports. If your PC doesn’t have USB ports (or, for a more
expensive camera, FireWire ports) handy, you’ll have to add an adapter
card that provides the correct type of port for your camera.
As you might have already guessed, many photographers have chosen to
carry both traditional film and digital cameras, which allows them to use
whatever best fits the circumstances (depending on the subject and the
level of control that they need on location). For me, the long-term savings
Digital Camera Extras to Covet
605
and convenience of my digital cameras — and the ability to review my
photographs as soon as they’re taken — makes them the better choice.
So what can you do with digital photographs? A heck of a lot more than a
film print, that’s for sure (at least on your PC and in the online world)!
Common fun that you can have with a digital image includes
✦ Printing ’em. Today’s inkjet printers can produce a hard copy on all
sorts of media (everything from plain paper to blank business cards and
CD/DVD labels), but naturally you’ll get the best results on those expensive sheets of glossy photo paper.
✦ Using them on your personal or business Web site. Jazz up your Web
pages with images from your camera.
✦ Creating slide shows. Check your camera’s software documentation to
see whether you can create a slide show on your hard drive (or on a
CD-ROM) to show off your digital photographs.
✦ Using them in crafts projects. Plaster your digital photographs on
T-shirt transfers, buttons, greeting cards, and all sorts of crafts.
Digital Camera Extras to Covet
No one gets a pizza with just sauce, and the extras are important in photography, too. If you’ll be taking a large number of photographs or you’re interested in producing the best results from your camera, consider adding these
extras to your camera bag.
External card readers
As I mention earlier, the majority of modern digital cameras connect to your
computer via a USB cable to transfer pictures. The downside to this is that
you can’t take more shots until the downloading process is complete. If
you’re in a hurry or if convenience is important, buy an external card reader
that takes care of the downloading chores for you. Simply pop the card into
the reader (which in turn connects to your PC’s USB port), load a backup
memory card into your camera, and you’re ready to return to the action.
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
✦ Sending them as e-mail attachments. I get a big kick out of sending
photos through e-mail! As long as you add a total of less than 2MB of
images to an e-mail message, the recipient should receive them with no
problem. (And then the attached files can be viewed, printed, or saved
to the recipient’s hard drive.)
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Digital Camera Extras to Covet
External card readers are also the best solution if you have an older digital
camera that connects to your PC’s serial port. Because a serial connection
is as slow as watching paint dry, you can speed things up considerably by
ejecting the memory card from your camera and pushing those pictures to
your PC through a much faster USB connection. An external reader is cheap,
too, usually running less than $50.
Rechargeable batteries
Gotta have ’em. I’m not kidding. You’ll literally end up declaring bankruptcy
if you use your digital camera often with single-use batteries. For example,
one of my older 2.1-megapixel cameras can totally exhaust four AA alkaline
batteries after one session of 20 photographs.
Here are the three major types of rechargeable batteries to choose from:
✦ Nickel-cadmium (NiCad): NiCad batteries are the cheapest and are
available in standard sizes, but they drain quickly and take longer to
recharge.
✦ Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH): NiMH rechargeable batteries provide the
middle of the road between higher cost and longer life; they take less
time to recharge than NiCad batteries, and they last longer, but they’re
not as expensive as LIon batteries.
✦ Lithium-ion (LIon): These are the best batteries available. They provide
more sustained power over a longer period than either of the other
types, but they’re the most expensive, and they’re hard to find in standard sizes. Your camera might need an adapter to use them.
Just as you would an extra memory card, I recommend carrying a spare set
of charged batteries in your camera bag. The Boy Scouts are right on this
one: Be Prepared.
Lenses
Like their film brethren, most medium-priced and higher-end digital cameras
can use external (add-on) lenses. Although your digital camera is likely to
have several zoom levels (both digital and optical), photographers use a
number of specialized lenses in specific situations. For example, consider
these common extra lenses:
✦ Telephoto: Using a telephoto lens provides you with tremendous, longdistance magnification, but you don’t have to be James Bond or a
tabloid paparazzo to use one. For example, wildlife and sports photographers use telephoto lenses to capture subjects from a distance.
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs
607
(Referees tend to get surly when you stray on the field just to photograph the quarterback.)
✦ Macro: These lenses are especially designed for extreme close-up work;
with a macro lens, you can capture images at a distance of a few inches.
(They’re great for making your fiancée’s engagement ring look much,
much bigger.)
✦ Wide-angle: A wide-angle lens can capture a larger area — what photographers call the field of view — at the expense of detail. These lenses
are often used for scenic or architectural photographs.
Don’t forget a decent lens cap and a photographer’s lens cleaning cloth to
help prevent scratches on those expensive lenses!
When most people think of tripods, they think of unwieldy, 5' tall gantries
suitable for launching the Saturn V. Yes, some tripods do meet those requirements, but they’re absolutely required for low light, time-lapse, and professional portrait photography.
My camera bag also stows two other platforms that are much smaller:
✦ Mini-tripod: My Ambico mini-tripod can hold my cameras anywhere
from 2 inches to 4 inches above the table. I use it in concert with my
macro lens for shooting my scale models from a realistic perspective.
✦ Monopod: My collapsible monopod (which looks just like a walking
stick) can hold the camera steady for quick shots on just about any
surface. It also works great when you trip over exposed roots in the
forest . . . but you didn’t hear me admit to that.
Although a tripod isn’t a requirement for the casual photographer, you’ll
find yourself wishing for one quickly if you move to more serious amateur
photography. They sell tripods at Wal-Mart for a reason.
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs
If you’d like to remain firmly in the point-and-shoot casual photography
crowd, you can comfortably skip any discussion of composition — that’s the
process (most call it an art) of aligning your subject and compensating for
the available light at your location. Composition isn’t a requirement for
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
Tripods
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The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs
simple snapshots, but if you’re going to create true visual art, you need the
time to prepare your subject, your viewing angle, and your lighting.
In fact, what if I told you that composing a shot can result in less cropping
and editing time on your computer — and that you’ll end up taking better
photographs? If you follow the tips that I provide in this section, I can just
about guarantee that you’ll discover at least one FRP in every set of images
that you download! (FRP, coined by a favorite instructor that I had in journalism at LSU, means First Rate Photo — the kind of photograph that you’ll
be proud to display on your wall.) The example photographs in this chapter
are taken from my personal FRP collection.
And despite what you might have heard about composing photographs, it
only takes a few seconds before each shot to make a difference. Take it from
me — with practice, you’ll compose your shots automatically.
The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is the foundation of good composition for most photographers. Applying this guideline helps draw the eye toward multiple subjects
or to the focus of interest while maintaining balance within the frame. To
use the Rule of Thirds, simply split the frame in your viewfinder into nine
equal areas, as shown in Figure 5-3, “Time Tunnel.” Align your subject(s) and
the surroundings (where possible) along either
✦ A line crossing the frame
or
✦ One of the intersections where two lines meet
The Rule of Thirds works exceptionally well when taking photographs of
landscapes or architecture, as you can see in Figure 5-4. This photograph,
“View from Hoover Dam,” uses the rule to draw the viewer’s eye along the
river until it disappears around the bend.
That’s all there is to it. If you take a moment to examine the composition of
the photographs in your favorite magazines, you’ll see this time-tested classic rule followed over and over.
The Rule of Asymmetry
The second rule of composition often used in photography, the Rule of
Asymmetry, presents the subject against a number of minor subjects as well
as the background. Asymmetrical composition revolves around a relationship that you build between the major subject and either one or more minor
subjects or the background itself. Following this rule, you merge different
combinations of the three basic shapes — the square, the circle, and the
triangle — to form a new outline or contour.
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs
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Figure 5-4:
The
movement
of the water
flows
closely
along one
line and
ends at an
intersection.
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
Figure 5-3:
Divide your
photograph
by the Rule
of Thirds.
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The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs
To illustrate, take the still life in Figure 5-5, “Cultures.” Here I mix a light circular shape (the instrument) with strong rectangles (the skis). I find that an
asymmetrical composition works better when you feature a sharp contrast
level between light and dark elements or between strong color patterns and
shadows.
Figure 5-5:
Add interest
with a
classic
asymmetrical composition.
I always make it a point to experiment with different camera angles — for
instance, moving to the side or below the subject, as in “Warbird” (see
Figure 5-6). Of course, sometimes you won’t have the luxury of extra time to
try something different, but I think that you’ll like the results. (And remember, you’re not wasting any film.)
Using lighting creatively
Before I finish this quick tour through photo composition, turn your attention to lighting. Virtually every digital camera made these days has an automatic flash feature, and this is usually a good thing to use. However, if your
camera allows you to disable the flash, you’ll take better photographs in
many different situations.
The Lazy Man’s Guide to Composing Photographs
611
Book VI
Chapter 5
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
Figure 5-6:
Experiment
with
unusual
camera
angles.
Here’s a list of exposure do’s and don’ts for those who want to compose
with light:
✦ Do make use of existing light when possible, if you can disable your
camera’s flash. Natural lighting can really make the photo.
✦ Don’t attempt to photograph your subject through a sheet of glass or
plastic if you’re using a flash. Also don’t pose your subject against a
reflective background — you’ll create hotspots or flash reflections.
✦ Do use a tripod (or brace your camera if possible) when taking photographs without flash (which requires a longer exposure time to capture
the image).
✦ Don’t use a flash if your subject is illuminated internally or with spotlights, such as a neon sign or a statue at night.
✦ Do use your PC’s image editor — such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro —
to enhance the contrast for underexposed shots. You can also change the
hue and saturation levels for the colors in a photograph with your image
editor. In Chapter 1 of this mini-book, I cover some of the basics within
Paint Shop Pro (like cropping and rotating images, converting images to
different formats, and saving them to disk).
612
Organizing Your Pictures
Shadows can add a tremendous visual impact, as shown in my photograph
“French Quarter Staircase” in Figure 5-7. In this case, I needed no additional
light, but I’m not above using an isolated spot flood (light source) to cast the
shadow effect that I want. Even a flashlight can do the job in a pinch.
Figure 5-7:
Remember
that
shadows
can be your
friend.
Organizing Your Pictures
If you’d rather not stare at a meaningless collection of filenames, here are
some tricks that you can use to help you locate a photograph that you
stored on your hard drive or a CD-ROM full of images. First, organize your
photos into folders based on the date, location, or subject of your photographs. Also, use the long filename support in Windows XP to better
describe your photograph. After all, it’s easier to visualize Goats Grazing
Outside Nepalese Village.jpg than nepgoats.jpg.
To take your organization a step further, use an image-cataloging program
such as Media Center Pro from Jasc Software (www.jasc.com). This great
application not only handles images but sound files and video clips as well.
The contents of your photo collection are shown as thumbnails (small
images), making it easier to spot the photograph that you’re looking for.
Plus, Media Center Pro can create a slide show from your images, and you
can export pictures to the Web with the HyperText Markup Language
(HTML) pages that the program creates. At $30 for the downloadable version, Media Center Pro is an invaluable tool for any amateur (or professional) photographer.
Downloading Your Images
613
Downloading Your Images
Before you launch into the downloading process, make sure you’ve taken
care of those dull prerequisites:
✦ Make sure that you’ve installed any software that came with your digital
camera or card reader; this ensures that any USB or FireWire drivers are
installed before you connect.
✦ If you’re connecting your digital camera directly to your PC and it has
an AC adapter, make sure that you plug the camera in to the AC adapter
first; this can save you an hour of recharge time!
Although most digital cameras come with their own software, Windows XP has
its own built-in wizard for downloading images. (If your camera comes with its
own downloading software, it’s a better idea to use that program instead, but
at least XP can likely do the job alone in a pinch.) If your camera or card reader
is supported within Windows XP (check the manufacturer’s Web site or the
specifications on the side of the box) and you’re not using your camera or card
reader’s software, you’ll see the Scanner and Camera Wizard screen (as shown
in Figure 5-8) when you plug in the USB cable from your camera.
Figure 5-8:
Let
Windows
XP help you
download
images from
your
camera.
Book VI
Chapter 5
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
✦ Connect the cable that came with your camera (or your external card
reader) to the corresponding port on your PC . . . which is very likely
your PC’s USB port. If you’re using a card reader, eject the memory card
from your camera and load it into the slot in the card reader (as shown
in the card reader’s documentation). For more details on ports, visit
Book I, Chapter 3.
614
Downloading Your Images
To complete the download process using the wizard, follow these steps:
1. In the welcome wizard screen, click Next to advance to the second
screen, as illustrated in Figure 5-9.
Figure 5-9:
Select and
rotate
images
before
they’re
transferred.
Rotate your image by clicking either of these buttons.
By default, the wizard copies all the images from your camera.
2. To leave an image on the camera without transferring it to your PC,
select the check box next to the image to clear it.
Click the Clear All button to deselect all the images, which comes in
handy when you just want to select one or two pictures to download.
3. To rotate an image, click the desired photograph to highlight it and
then click either of the rotation buttons below the thumbnails.
4. After you select the images that you want to transfer and you rotate
any shots that need attention, click Next to continue.
5. In the next wizard window (see Figure 5-10), type a descriptive name
and then choose a destination folder or drive where the images will
be saved.
• Name: Windows XP uses this name as the basis for the image. In this
example, the filenames will be Fun Photos 001.jpg, Fun Photos
002.jpg, and so on.
Downloading Your Images
615
• Destination: If you want to use a location that you’ve used before,
click the drop-down list box, and the wizard displays it. To choose a
new location, click the Browse button, navigate to the desired spot
on your system, and then click OK.
Book VI
Chapter 5
I’m Okay, You’re a
Digital Camera
Figure 5-10:
Choose a
name and
destination
folder for
your photographs.
6. To delete the images from your camera after they’ve been successfully transferred to your PC, select the Delete Pictures from My
Device After Copying Them check box to enable it.
7. Click Next to begin the transfer.
The wizard displays the progress window that you see in Figure 5-11.
As soon as the transfer is complete, the next wizard screen appears.
8. After the images have been transferred, you can choose to publish
them to a Web site that you choose or to order prints of your photographs from a photo printing Web site. If you simply wanted to transfer the photographs, select the Nothing radio button.
9. After you make this choice, click Next.
10. In the final wizard screen that appears, click the Finish button to
return to Windows XP and then unplug your camera from your PC.
616
Downloading Your Images
Figure 5-11:
Watch the
progress
of your
photographs
from
camera
to PC.
Book VII
Upgrading and
Supercharging
Contents at a Glance
Chapter 1: Determining What to Upgrade ........................................................................619
Chapter 2: Adding RAM to Your Hot Rod ........................................................................627
Chapter 3: Scotty, I Need More Power! ............................................................................633
Chapter 4: Adding Hard Drive Territory to Your System ..............................................641
Chapter 5: Partying with USB, FireWire, and Hubs ........................................................651
Chapter 6: Pumping Up Your Sound and Video ..............................................................657
Chapter 1: Determining
What to Upgrade
In This Chapter
Knowing when to upgrade your CPU and motherboard
Figuring out whether you need additional memory
Determining whether you need extra ports
Considering a hard drive upgrade
Evaluating a CD/DVD recorder or a tape backup drive
Deciding on audio and video improvements
M
y father always said, “Son, never take a long trip without a road map
handy.” This is why our old family Plymouth had six metric tons of
paper maps for every state in the Union stuffed into the glove compartment,
ready to be pulled out just in case we went astray. (Now I just visit Yahoo!
and use the Maps service — progress marches on.)
Consider this introductory chapter a road map to upgrading your PC: what
you can do, what you should add or replace, and what your benefits will be
after the dust has cleared. After you read this PC upgrade primer, you’ll be
able to easily determine what you need to upgrade, and you can jump to
the proper chapter within this mini-book to find the specifics.
One note before you jump in: Upgrading your PC is not a difficult job! All it
requires is
✦ The courage to remove your computer’s case. (Believe me, you’ll get
used to it.)
✦ The ability to follow step-by-step instructions.
✦ Basic skills with a screwdriver.
With that in mind, read on to determine what you need to turn your PC back
into a hot rod.
620
Making Performance Upgrades: CPU, Motherboard, and Memory
Making Performance Upgrades:
CPU, Motherboard, and Memory
I’ve cordoned off these first upgrades into a separate category that I call performance upgrades; that is, they give your PC an overall performance boost
that affects all the programs that you run, including Windows XP.
Upgrading your CPU and motherboard
A central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of your PC. A significant upgrade
to your CPU usually results in more than just replacing the CPU chip itself.
For example, if you decide to upgrade from a Pentium III computer to a
Pentium 4, your PC’s motherboard will probably need to be replaced as well.
The motherboard is the largest circuit board in your computer’s case — it
holds the CPU, memory, and all the rest of the electronics — so this is probably one of the most technically demanding upgrades that you can make.
Naturally, replacing your computer’s brain with the next generation of chip
will result in faster performance. How much faster depends on the speed of
the chip — which is usually specified in megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz
(GHz) and whether you’re skipping a generation. For example:
✦ Upgrading from a Pentium 4 1.5 GHz processor to a Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
processor will result in a speed increase. And because the chip generation remains the same, you’ll probably be able to use your current
motherboard. However, the performance increase might not actually be
significant enough to be noticeable in many of your programs . . . you’re
not really advancing very far.
✦ On the other hand, upgrading from an 800 MHz Pentium III processor to
that same Pentium 4 1.7 GHz will change your plodding plowhorse into
Shadowfax (the uber-stallion from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings). Not
only are you installing a CPU that’s much faster, but you’re also upgrading from Pentium III technology to Pentium 4 technology — and the
tasks that you perform now will finish in a fraction of the time.
Hence this Mark’s Maxim:
Upgrade your CPU and motherboard only when you’re either moving
to a new generation of processor or when you’re at least doubling the
speed of your current CPU.
Anything less is a waste of time and effort (unless the CPU fairy dropped a
new chip on your pillow for free).
Expansion Upgrades: USB 2.0 and FireWire
621
Adding memory
I’ll be honest — adding memory (random access memory, or RAM) is my
favorite performance upgrade, and I recommend adding memory far more
often than I recommend upgrading a CPU/motherboard combo. Here’s why:
✦ Memory packs performance punch. Any PC tech will tell you that
dollar for dollar, adding additional memory results in a far more significant performance boost than simply upgrading your processor by a few
megahertz. Windows will use every bit of that additional memory (bad
techno-nerd pun intended there), and everything that your PC does will
be faster.
✦ Memory is cheap. I’m talkin’ really, really cheap. Most folks can now
afford to max out their memory capacity. (The total that you can add is
dependent upon your motherboard, so check with the PC manufacturer
or the specifications for your motherboard to determine the maximum
amount of memory that you can add.)
✦ Memory is easy to install. Compared with upgrading a motherboard
and CPU, adding memory is one of the simplest upgrade tasks that you
can perform in the bowels of your machine.
Here’s Mark’s Maxim for memory:
Add additional memory to your PC before embarking on a CPU and
motherboard upgrade.
Expansion Upgrades: USB 2.0 and FireWire
Consider adding ports onto an older PC — what I call expansion upgrades.
Although adding or upgrading ports won’t speed up your computer, you’ll
be able to connect a wider range of external devices — and those devices
are likely to run faster, transferring data to and from your PC at many times
the rate of your pokey old serial and parallel ports.
Like the RAM upgrade that I discuss earlier in this chapter, adding Universal
Serial Bus (USB) or FireWire ports to your PC is a relatively easy upgrade. All
this involves is removing the cover from your PC and adding an adapter card
to one of the open slots on your motherboard. Remember, this is how that
original cadre of IBM engineers — the ones who designed the architecture of
the first PCs — intended for you to add functionality to your computer, so it’s
practically a walk in the park.
Determining What
to Upgrade
’Nuff said.
Book VII
Chapter 1
622
Making Storage Upgrades: Internal and External Drives
Because I discuss USB 2.0 and FireWire ports earlier (see Book I, Chapter 3),
here I just reiterate the major differences and what each type of port will do
for you:
✦ USB 2.0: This is the faster version of the USB port, with blazing speed
and the ability to connect to older USB 1.x hardware. Unless you’re
using an external FireWire drive, digital camera, or digital video (DV)
camcorder, USB 2.0 is the best choice for adding state-of-the-art,
modern portage (ports for scanners, external hard drives, CD/DVD
recorders, fax machines, printers, and the like) to your PC.
✦ FireWire: If you’d like to upgrade your PC for use with your DV camcorder — or if you’re interested in adding a fast external hard drive or
DVD recorder — FireWire is your port of choice. Also, FireWire peripherals are usually easy to share with Mac owners because every modern Mac
made within the last two or three years has at least one FireWire port.
If you already have USB or FireWire ports on your PC and you’ve simply
run out of connections — for example, you have two USB ports, and you’re
using one for your printer and one for your Web cam — you don’t need
to add yet another set of ports. Instead, you just need a nifty little device
called a USB or FireWire hub, which plugs into one of those ports and turns
it into four or eight additional ports! (Think of the familiar AC extension
cord, which plugs into one of your wall power sockets and allows you to
plug three or four cords.)
Making Storage Upgrades:
Internal and External Drives
Why limit yourself to that sorry patch of digital real estate that originally
shipped with your PC? I’m talking about your hard drive, a tape backup unit,
or perhaps a slower, older CD recorder. Upgrading these devices is a storage
upgrade because you use these devices to permanently store (or record)
data for later use.
Hard drives and CD/DVD recorders are both constantly dropping in price
(and adding extra capacity and features), which is fortuitous because
today’s operating systems and applications tend to take up more and more
hard drive space. Therefore, it’s only natural that most serious PC users will
eventually decide to add a second drive (or replace their existing drive with
a new unit).
Making Storage Upgrades: Internal and External Drives
623
Adding a hard drive
The vast majority of today’s PCs use Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE)
hard drives, which can be mounted internally (within your PC’s case) or
externally (by connecting to a USB or FireWire port).
Here’s how to tell which type of drive you should choose:
✦ Internal: Choose an internal drive if you don’t mind opening up your
PC’s case and installing a new drive. (I show you how later, in Chapter 4
within this very mini-book.) Internal drives are significantly cheaper
than external drives, and they’re somewhat faster than even an external
FireWire or USB 2.0 drive. Finally, you won’t use any more of your
precious desktop space.
✦ External: Choose an external drive if you’d rather not open your computer, or if you have no available hard drive bays left in your computer’s
case. (Don’t laugh — techno-types can fill up even the largest tower case
with all sorts of devices.) External hard drives can be shared among
computers that have the same ports, and you can simply unplug an
external drive and carry it with you. (How’s that for security?)
Adding a recorder or a tape drive
However, today’s FireWire and USB 2.0 drives are almost as blazing fast as
their internal brethren! Therefore, as long as you have a USB or FireWire
port, you now have the same choice that I describe with hard drives: Either
stick it in your machine or leave it outside: It’ll work like a charm either way.
One final word about today’s tape backup drives: They’re beginning to disappear from the PC landscape because today’s recordable DVD formats can
hold 4.7GB (or even more) on a single disc — and DVD recorders are faster
and more reliable than most tape drives. Therefore, before you invest in a
hideously expensive Digital Audio Tape (DAT) backup drive, consider
buying a (comparatively) inexpensive rewriteable DVD drive instead and
use that for your backups.
Book VII
Chapter 1
Determining What
to Upgrade
CD/DVD recorders and backup tape drives have been around for years now,
but only with the advent of USB and FireWire have they become attractive to
the PC power user. In years past, hardware manufacturers had to depend on
the PCs parallel port to connect these peripherals. (If you had real money,
you could get an external Small Computer System Interface [SCSI] drive, but
I recommend avoiding SCSI altogether; read why when I describe SCSI hardware in the sidebar “Just let SCSI fade away . . .” elsewhere in this chapter.)
The PC’s parallel port was never designed for high-speed data transfer, so
parallel port drives were as slow as your Aunt Gertrude in her ’53 Pontiac.
624
Making Sound and Video Upgrades: Sound and Video Cards
Just let SCSI fade away . . .
Officially, the acronym SCSI stands for Small
Computer Systems Interface, but for most PC
owners, it used to stand for waking nightmare.
Before the arrival of FireWire and USB, a SCSI
adapter card was the only way that you could
add fast external devices to your PC. In fact,
you can add multiple SCSI peripherals to the
same card, like a SCSI scanner and a SCSI CD
recorder. Unfortunately, SCSI hardware has
always been more expensive. SCSI devices
were also once notoriously difficult to configure,
and even today’s SCSI implementation — which
offers more automated setup features — is
nowhere near as reliable and easy to install as
either FireWire or USB 2.0. (Forget Plug and
Play — the running gag is that SCSI is Run and
Hide or Plug and Pray.)
Both FireWire and USB 2.0 ports can handle
more external devices than a SCSI port, and
they can transfer data at speeds that are fast
enough to allow SCSI to fade into the archaic
computing past. Take the word of a graying
techno-Gandalf here: You’re better off without
SCSI, good buddy.
Making Sound and Video Upgrades:
Sound and Video Cards
To finish my road map of PC upgrades, consider the hottest video and audio
cards on the market today. There are more reasons than just gaming to add
or upgrade your PC’s eyes and ears: for example, maybe you’d like to move
up to a sound card with Dolby Surround sound support or perhaps a video
card with video capture capability. Like the addition of USB and FireWire
ports, these upgrades are pretty simple: Just take the case off your PC,
remove your current sound or video adapter card, and plug the replacement
card in its place.
Before I jump in to a discussion of these cards, I should note that some of
today’s motherboards have their sound (and/or video) hardware on the
motherboard instead of on separate adapter cards. If you have a motherboard with either a built-in video card or sound card, you should be able to
disable the onboard hardware so that you can add your upgrade card.
Typically, you must either display your PC’s Basic Input/Output System
(BIOS) and disable the onboard hardware from there, or you need to move a
jumper on the motherboard. Read your motherboard user manual to discover which avenue to take.
Making Sound and Video Upgrades: Sound and Video Cards
625
Sound cards on parade
A number of specialized sound cards are available for the discriminating
audio connoisseur — which, no doubt, you are. Consider these gems:
✦ An MP3 card: If you’re an MP3 wizard with a hard drive’s worth of MP3
digital audio files, you’ll appreciate one of these specialized audio cards.
An MP3 card contains a hardware encoder/decoder, which speeds up
your PC’s ripping (another name for the process of creating MP3 digital
audio files from existing audio CDs) and MP3 playing performance. With
one of these cards (which typically run about $100–$150), you can listen
to (or rip) the Talking Heads while using Photoshop, and the sound
quality stays just as good.
✦ A 24-bit card: For the absolute best in audio reproduction, a card such
as the Audigy 2 from Creative Labs can produce 24-bit audio (that’s
192 KHz for you audioheads), which is far superior to the sound produced by virtually all audio CD players. The fact that these cards can
also support DVD audio and carry a built-in FireWire port is just the
whipped cream and cherry on the sundae. Expect to pay a prime price
for one of these cards, usually in the $200 range.
Deciding which video card is right for you
When you think about upgrading a video card, please do not — I repeat, do
not — just think “gamers only.” A number of specialized video cards are on
the market that have nothing to do with games. (Okay, I admit it . . . gamers
like myself do indeed love video cards.) Here’s a cross section of what’s
available:
✦ A gamer’s card: The latest 3-D video cards (equipped with GeForce4 and
Radeon chipsets, from NVIDIA and ATI, respectively) simply kick serious
tail no matter whether your favorite games involve mowing down Nazis,
building a civilization one stone at a time, or matching wits with your
computer over a chess board. If you haven’t seen the realistic 3-D figures
that these cards can produce, visit the Maze o’ Wires store at your local
mall and ask a salesperson to crank up the latest game. Of course,
Windows will display ho-hum applications faster with one of these cards
as well. Many 3-D gaming cards also offer dual monitor support so that
you can run two monitors side-by-side for a really big desktop.
Book VII
Chapter 1
Determining What
to Upgrade
✦ A Surround sound card: These cards are specifically designed for 3-D
environmental audio within games as well as full support for Dolby
Surround sound as you watch DVD movies on your PC. Naturally, you’ll
need more than two mundane speakers from Wal-Mart to enjoy the full
effect — which is why a premium set of speakers is usually included with
these cards. Again, look for these cards to set you back around $200.
626
Making Sound and Video Upgrades: Sound and Video Cards
These high-end 3-D cards run tremendously hot — after all, they’re
practically separate computers themselves — so they usually have their
own fan on the card itself. However, if you’re planning on installing the
card in an older PC, I recommend having at least two fans installed in
your case — that’s one for the power supply (which is standard equipment) and at least one auxiliary fan (to help circulate air to all those hot
components).
✦ An MPEG card: These cards are specifically designed for encoding and
decoding Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) digital video (usually
from a DVD, but hardware MPEG support is also very useful for doing
serious video editing on your PC). Like the MP3 card that I describe in
the previous section on audio cards, the idea is simple: Let the card do
the video grunt work instead of your PC’s processor, and everyone is
happier.
✦ A capture card: This popular video upgrade card allows you to capture
an incoming analog video signal and convert it to digital video. For
example, you can connect your VCR or older analog VHS-C camcorder
into the card, convert the signal to digital video, and then record CD or
DVD backups of your home movies. I’ve even seen these cards used to
capture footage from Xbox games — if you can display it on your TV,
you should be able to capture it with one of these toys.
Chapter 2: Adding RAM
to Your Hot Rod
In This Chapter
Determining what type of memory you need
Understanding the myth behind “minimum RAM”
Installing additional memory
W
hat’s not to like about a memory upgrade? As I discuss in the previous
chapter, the dinero required for extra random access memory (RAM)
is a mere pittance compared with a new CPU (or CPU and motherboard combination). Plus, RAM is easy to install, requiring only that you remove your
PC’s case and plug in the modules. Your PC should recognize additional RAM
immediately, with no silly drivers required. Also, additional RAM will make
everything run faster in Windows . . . both the applications that you run and
the operating system itself.
“Mark,” you say, “there’s got to be a hitch somewhere.” True: The problem
is that you have so many different types of RAM modules to choose from.
Therefore, read through this chapter before you buy your RAM modules and
keep these pages handy when you upgrade.
Figuring Out What Type of Memory You Need
To begin a primer on memory, review the different types of RAM available
for PCs made within the last five years or so.
One tip before I begin: If you’re considering installing a new motherboard
and CPU on an older PC, you might want to double-check to make sure that
the new motherboard will still use the same RAM type and speed as your
current motherboard. (To check, visit the manufacturer’s Web sites to compare the specifications for your existing motherboard and the new toy, or
you can refer to the documentation for both motherboards.) If not, the RAM
that you add now won’t do you any good when you upgrade your motherboard. If you have your eye on a significant motherboard/CPU swap in the
near future, I definitely recommend that you upgrade the motherboard,
CPU, and RAM all at the same time. For example, the memory modules
that work with your older Pentium III PC aren’t likely to work with a fast
Pentium 4 motherboard. In cases like this, I recommend simply ordering a
628
Figuring Out What Type of Memory You Need
populated motherboard, which comes complete with a preinstalled CPU and
the amount of RAM that you specify.
RDRAM
Rambus dynamic random access memory (RDRAM) modules are very expensive, but they’re the fastest memory modules available on the market today,
with access speeds up to 1200 MHz at the time of this writing. If your PC
uses RDRAM, it’s really cooking already, so you probably won’t be upgrading
for a speed increase anytime soon. (More likely, you’re preparing to add
more memory to your existing RDRAM motherboard.)
DDR
Double Data Rate (DDR) modules are the fastest standard 168-pin Dual
Inline Memory Module (DIMM) available; they’re commonly used on today’s
Pentium 4 and Athlon computers that run Windows XP. The double in the DDR
name is significant because a DDR module effectively doubles the speed of the
module (compared with older synchronous DRAM [SDRAM] memory). Also,
DDR memory is assigned a speed rating as part of the name, so it’s commonly
listed as DDR266 or PC2100 (for the 133 MHz speed versions) and DDR333 or
PC2700 (for the 166 MHz version). As you might guess, the faster the access
speed, the better the performance. The speed rating that you should choose
is determined by the memory speeds that your motherboard supports. DDR
memory modules have one notch on the connector and two notches on the
each side of the module.
SDRAM
SDRAM (sometimes called SyncDRAM) takes the form of standard 168-pin
DIMMs. These modules are standard equipment for most Pentium III and
some older Pentium 4 machines. SyncDRAM runs at an access speed of
133 MHz, and it’s the most common memory type used for PCs these days.
SDRAM memory modules have two notches in the bottom and only one
notch on each side.
EDO
Older Pentium motherboards used Extended Data Output (EDO) memory in
the form of 72-pin Single Inline Memory Modules (SIMMs). Typically, you
must add SIMM memory in pairs.
If you’re planning on adding memory to a motherboard that uses EDO modules, I strongly urge you to instead upgrade the Big Three — motherboard,
CPU, and memory. (I don’t intend to offend, but I’ll be blunt: Your PC is so
far behind the performance of today’s models that it just isn’t worth adding
EDO memory to your older motherboard. Plus, EDO memory is now much
Deciding How Much RAM Is Enough
629
harder to find and is actually getting more expensive over time. Just chalk
that up to the price of running antique hardware.)
Here are two methods to determine what type of memory modules your current motherboard requires and what memory speeds it can handle:
✦ Check the specifications: Refer to the motherboard manual. Or, if you
purchased your PC from a manufacturer, check the documentation that
accompanied the computer. If you didn’t get any manuals with a used
PC, visit the company’s Web site for memory compatibility information
or specifications. This is definitely the preferred method because you
won’t have to open your PC’s case until you’re ready to install the new
RAM modules.
Figure 2-1:
A DDR
DIMM,
caught in
the open.
Deciding How Much RAM Is Enough
Every motherboard has a maximum amount of memory that it can support.
You can install the maximum amount by filling up all the motherboard’s
memory banks (sockets) with modules of the right type.
Time for another Mark’s Maxims:
Whenever possible, buy RAM modules of the same brand at the same
time from the same dealer.
Book VII
Chapter 2
Adding RAM to
Your Hot Rod
✦ Check the existing modules: If you can’t find any documentation, specifications, or data on the Web concerning your PC’s RAM modules, it’s
time to remove the case from your computer. (For more details on
removing the cover, see the step-by-step procedure at the end of this
chapter.) Look for the memory slots on your motherboard; DDR modules look like Figure 2-1. (Note: You might have more than one module
already installed on your PC.) Your RAM modules might have a descriptive label (which will allow you to read the specifics without actually
taking anything out); however, it’s more likely that you’ll have to remove
one and take it to your local computer shop. Use the instructions later
in this chapter to remove a module; then protect the module in an
empty CD-ROM jewel case when you take it for identification. The good
techs should be able to tell you what type and speed of memory you’re
using when presented with the module.
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Installing Extra RAM
This will ensure that you are spared any compatibility problems when you
install the modules. (Theoretically, any RAM module of the same type and
speed should work with any other brand of RAM, but I date back to the earlier days of PCs when using memory chips from different manufacturers
would result in errors and a locked computer.) In fact, I still hear tales of
compatibility problems, even in our new, improved fresher-smelling world.
However, not everyone can afford to take their PC’s memory to the max —
even with today’s prices, buying half a gigabyte of RAM modules can set you
back. Therefore, the following table illustrates my recommendations for the
minimum amount of RAM that you’ll need to run the different versions of
the Windows operating system comfortably on your PC. (By comfortably, I
mean my opinion of decent performance, perhaps with a copy of Microsoft
Word running. Of course, memory-hungry applications such as Adobe
Photoshop will only run their best with plenty of memory elbow room to
spare, so I’d consider this the bare minimum.)
Windows 98
Windows NT
Windows Me
Windows 2000
Windows XP
64MB
64MB
128MB
128MB
256MB
You might notice that my recommendations sometimes don’t jibe with
Brother Bill’s — that’s because the folks in Redmond literally mean the least
you can get away with when mentioning minimum memory requirements.
With 24MB of RAM, Windows 98 is slower to awaken than my kids on a
school day. Personally, I actually like to use my computer and not wait half
an hour for a scanned image to load.
Installing Extra RAM
Ready to install your new RAM upgrade? Follow these steps to install a typical SDRAM or DDR module:
1. Cover your work surface with several sheets of newspaper (to protect
your case).
2. Unplug your PC and place it on top of the newspaper.
3. Remove the PC’s case.
Most PC cases are held on with two or three screws; just remove the
screws and slide the case off. (Don’t forget to stash those screws in a
safe place.) Other cases are hinged, often with a lock. If you’re unsure
how to remove your PC’s case, check the manual that accompanied
your computer.
Installing Extra RAM
631
4. Touch the metal chassis of your case to dissipate any static electricity
on your body.
An electrical charge can send your new RAM modules to Frisco . . .
permanently.
5. Locate the DIMM slots.
Check the motherboard manual, which should have a schematic that
will help you locate the slots. Typically, the RAM modules are found
close to the CPU, in the center or one corner of the motherboard.
6. Turn your PC’s chassis so that the DIMM slots are facing you (as
shown in Figure 2-2) and make sure that the two levers on the side of
the socket are extended.
Note that the notches cut into the connectors on the bottom of the
memory module match the spacers in the sockets themselves, so you
can’t install your modules the wrong way. (Smart thinking there.)
Figure 2-2:
Align a DDR
module with
its socket.
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Chapter 2
push down with a light pressure to seat the module.
8. While you push down, the two levers at each side of the socket
should move toward the center, as shown in Figure 2-3, until they
click in place.
After you correctly install the module, the two levers should be tightly
flush against the sides of the memory module to hold it securely.
Figure 2-3:
Hey, those
levers just
clicked into
place!
9. Slide the cover back on your PC and secure it.
10. Move your PC back to its place of honor and plug it in.
11. Restart your computer and prepare to enjoy a faster PC!
Adding RAM to
Your Hot Rod
7. Align the connector on the bottom of the module with the socket and
632
Book VII: Upgrading and Supercharging
Chapter 3: Scotty,
I Need More Power!
In This Chapter
Evaluating your need for a CPU/motherboard upgrade
Shopping for features
Installing a CPU/motherboard upgrade
U
pgrading your central processing unit (CPU)/motherboard — the Big
One — is the most costly and the most complex upgrade that you can
make to your PC. In this chapter, I discuss what you should look for in a CPU
and a motherboard . . . and the very real possibility that you shouldn’t upgrade
this combo at all. (Hey, I’m always open minded, upfront, and cutting edge.)
If you do decide to upgrade, take heart. You’ll find the proper step-by-step
procedure in this chapter.
Hey, Do I Need to Do This?
Before you read another sentence of this chapter, take note of yet another
Mark’s Maxim:
Postpone a CPU/motherboard upgrade as long as possible.
I know that sounds a little silly, considering that there are several pages of
perfectly good tips and procedures remaining in this chapter, but I stand by
my maxim. Here are four good reasons:
✦ A CPU/motherboard combo is one of the most expensive upgrades
that you can make to your computer. First consider upgrading random
access memory (RAM) and your video card. Adding RAM and a faster
video card is (usually) cheaper than upgrading a CPU/motherboard
combo. And depending on the types of applications that you run, the
RAM/video card upgrade might actually provide a better performance
boost than using a new CPU and motherboard. (Side benefit: The
longer that you postpone a CPU/motherboard upgrade, the more of a
performance jump that you’ll get when you finally do take the plunge.)
634
Hey, Do I Need to Do This?
✦ A CPU/motherboard combo is one of the most difficult upgrades to
install. To facilitate this upgrade, you’re going to have to take out every
adapter card and unhook every wire and possibly even disassemble
parts of your case — then do it all again in reverse. (That’s what we
techies call “putting it back together.” My Dad used to tell me I’d have
to eat anything left over after fixing the family car, so I got very careful
very quickly about assembly.)
✦ A CPU/motherboard combo has dependencies. Hmm . . . strange term
here, so let me explain. You see, no matter how fast your new motherboard and CPU combo might be, it will still depend on your existing
adapter cards — including video, sound, modem, and port cards — to
take care of putting video on your monitor, sound in your speakers, and
Internet data in your browser (respectively). Therefore, if you upgrade
to a blazing fast CPU/motherboard combination but you’re still using a
five-year-old video card, your 3-D games might still end up as slow as
Aunt Harriet in her Plymouth Volare.
✦ You might have to scrap your existing memory modules and power
supply. Along the lines of the previous reason, using a new CPU/motherboard combo might force you to dump all the memory modules that
you’ve been collecting over the last few years as well as that low-rated
power supply. You can sell ’em on eBay, of course, but don’t expect a
whopping amount back.
With these reasons in mind, I recommend that you upgrade your motherboard
and CPU only when you’ve exhausted the other possibilities — upgrading RAM
or your video card, for example. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eventually
put a new heart and brain in your PC. Just don’t resort to major surgery until
it’s really necessary.
Which is better: Intel or AMD?
Chip choice time. Intel and AMD are the two
leading processor manufacturers. I can honestly say that both the Pentium 4 (Intel) and the
Athlon XP (AMD) are great processors, so let
price and the chip speed be your guide. Just
make sure that you get the right CPU for your
motherboard because every motherboard is
specifically designed for one brand of CPU. In
general, AMD processors are less expensive
than Intel processors of the same performance
level.
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
635
Selecting a New Motherboard
Keep these guidelines in mind while shopping for a new motherboard to
match your CPU of choice:
✦ Determine what type of motherboard fits in your PC’s case. Virtually
all PCs manufactured in the last few years use ATX cases and ATX motherboards, but it never hurts to make sure. Older cases might use AT or
Baby AT motherboards. If you need help with classifying your case, take
it to your local computer shop and have a technician tell you.
✦ FSB means Front Side Bus. The higher the bus speed on your new
motherboard, the better the performance — and the more expensive
the RAM modules. (At higher bus speeds, more data is sent to the CPU
at one time, and the data arrives there faster; from an efficiency and performance standpoint, this is A Good Thing.) Most CPUs will work with a
range of bus speeds.
✦ Shop for the best controllers. Today’s motherboards have onboard
hard drive controllers that vary widely in performance, so make sure
that you compare the controller’s rated speeds and supported hard
drives when shopping for a motherboard.
✦ Consider onboard FireWire, Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0, and network hardware. Why force yourself to add a separate adapter card
later when you can buy a motherboard with networking, FireWire, and
USB 2.0 ports built in?
I highly recommend that you buy one of the package deals — a CPU already
installed on the motherboard of your choice — offered by most PC Web stores.
This will simplify both your shopping (you’re guaranteed to buy a motherboard and CPU that work together well) and your installation. Trust me!
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
Before you decide to launch into a motherboard/CPU swap, carefully read
over the following procedure and then visit the nearest bathroom. (No, I
don’t expect you to be sick; I want you to stand in front of the mirror.) Look
yourself in the eye and ask yourself honestly, “Can I do this? If I can do this,
do I really want to do this?”
Scotty, I Need
More Power!
✦ RAM capacity is important. Check what type of RAM is supported and
the maximum amount of RAM that the motherboard can accept. (For
more information about the RAM types on the market today, check the
previous chapter.)
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636
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
If your answer is a confident “Yes,” by all means continue with your
upgrade, and may you have the wind always at your back.
If, however, your answer is an uncomfortable “Maybe,” don’t forget that you
can always take your PC to a local computer shop and have the techs there
install your new hardware for you. This is the only spot in this entire minibook where I even consider the option of professional installation. Of
course, anything in this mini-book can be professionally installed, but a
CPU/motherboard combo is often more difficult and more of a hassle for the
typical PC owner than any other upgrade.
With that said — and if you’re still reading on — then get to work!
Installing an Athlon XP or Pentium 4 CPU
If you didn’t buy a combo motherboard with the CPU already installed,
follow these steps to install your processor before you install the
motherboard:
1. Touch a metal surface.
Static is bad. You know the drill.
2. Locate the CPU socket on your motherboard — it’s the largest socket
on the planet, with several dozen pins.
Check the motherboard manual if you have a problem finding it.
The CPU socket is also called a ZIF (short for Zero Insertion Force)
socket, which means that you can quickly install and remove the CPU
without undue pressure on the chip (and with as little danger of bending the CPU pins as possible). The little lever clamps the CPU firmly to
the motherboard, as you will see.
Pay close attention to the markings on your new CPU. “What markings,
Mark?” Well, cast your eyes on Figure 3-1, which illustrates different
types of markings on both CPUs and sockets. Look for a stubby corner,
a tiny groove, or a dot or triangle on one corner of the chip — that
marked corner will match up with the socket’s marked corner. If you
can’t locate the marked corner, your motherboard and CPU manuals will
identify them for you.
3. Raise the ZIF lever on the side of the socket to unlock the socket.
4. Align the CPU chip on top of the socket, matching marked corners
and double-checking your pin placement from the side of the chip.
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
Chip type 1
CPU
Marked edge
or
Marked edge
Figure 3-1:
Match
marked
corners on
the CPU and
the socket.
637
CPU
Marked edge
or
Socket type 1
Socket type 2
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Chapter 3
5. Use your fingertips to gently press down evenly on the edges of
The chip should settle in until the pins aren’t visible from the side.
Do not force your CPU! If it doesn’t comfortably settle into place, put it
down and retreat to the comfort of your motherboard and CPU manuals.
Breaking the pins on your CPU will turn it into an extremely expensive,
nonfunctioning brooch.
6. Lower the ZIF lever on the side of the socket to lock the CPU in place.
7. Clamp the fan on top of the processor.
Note: You might need to apply a special glue or compound between the
fan plate and the processor before you install the fan.
8. If your CPU fan has a separate power cable, plug it into the proper
connector on the motherboard.
The location of the CPU fan plug will be listed in your motherboard
manual.
Relax. Breathe deeply. Congratulations!
Scotty, I Need
More Power!
the chip.
638
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
Installing your motherboard
Time to put that granddaddy of all circuit boards inside your case. Grab
your screwdriver and follow these steps:
1. Unplug your PC and move it onto your work surface.
2. Remove the cover from the case.
Keep the screws handy, naturally.
3. Work that anti-static magic by touching your PC’s metal chassis.
4. Unscrew and remove all the adapter cards, placing them on top of a
handy sheet of nearby newspaper.
5. Unplug all cables leading to your motherboard.
Note: You might also have to remove sections of your case as well as all
internal devices such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives, and your floppy
drive. (I told you this was going to be a bear, didn’t I?) Because all cases
are designed differently, this might take a little investigation on your part.
6. After the motherboard is completely uncovered, remove all the screws
and nonconductive washers holding down the motherboard and put
them in a bowl, keeping them separate from any other screws.
Carefully note the location of the screw holes and any plastic spacers
securing the old motherboard to the case before you remove them. This
will save time later. If necessary, grab a piece of paper and a pencil and
sketch a quick drawing of which holes you should use when installing
the new motherboard.
7. Reach into your PC’s case and gently work the old motherboard free.
Take the time to make sure that you don’t scratch the surface of your
motherboard on exposed metal or sharp edges. A deep-enough scratch
can ruin the delicate circuitry etched into the surface of the board.
8. After the old motherboard is clear, put it in the anti-static pouch that
protected your new board, and start wondering who will buy it. (If
any plastic spacers were attached, remove them and put them with
your motherboard screws.)
9. Holding the motherboard by the edges, carefully place it inside the
case to align it. Keep the memory modules and CPU side facing up
and toward you, ensuring that the adapter card slots line up with the
slots in your case (see Figure 3-2).
10. Check to determine which screw holes in your motherboard line up
with which screw holes in your case.
Note that your case will likely use three or four screws to actually hold
the board, but other spots on the board might need to be supported by
those plastic spacers; the spacers slide under metal grooves in the case.
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
639
Slot covers
Case
Screw and spacer holes
Motherboard
Figure 3-2:
Check the
alignment of
your new
motherboard.
Adapter card slots
11. If you need to add spacers, remove the new motherboard from the
case and push the spacers through the holes from the bottom of the
board until they snap into place (as shown in Figure 3-3).
12. If you had to remove your motherboard in Step 11, slide it back
into the case (making sure that all the plastic spacers are correctly
positioned).
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Scotty, I Need
More Power!
Push
in
Figure 3-3:
Add
spacers, if
needed, to
the new
motherboard.
640
Installing a Motherboard and CPU
13. Check each corner of the motherboard to make sure that it’s separated from the metal of the case and doesn’t wobble.
14. Secure the motherboard with the screws and washers from Step 6,
being careful not to overtighten them.
15. Plug the power cables, hard drive, floppy cables, and case control
cables back into the new motherboard.
Because every motherboard is different, you’ll have to rely on your
motherboard manual to locate what goes where. (This is why I’ve never
tossed a motherboard manual in the trash.)
16. Reinstall any drives or case chassis parts that you had to remove in
Step 5.
17. Reinstall your adapter cards, connecting any cables that you had to
remove back to their original location.
18. After you double-check every connection, replace the cover on your
case.
19. Plug your PC back in and boogie.
It is now appropriate to book a vacation to Disneyland.
Chapter 4: Adding Hard Drive
Territory to Your System
In This Chapter
Understanding virtual memory
Selecting the proper drive
Choosing an internal or external drive
Adding a second internal drive
H
ere is what I call the Elbow Room Hypothesis: Both mankind and his
computer tools will expand to fill whatever room they’re given. If
you’re bent on becoming a PC power user, I can assure you — in fact, I can
downright guarantee you — that the largest hard drive that you can buy
today will eventually be filled in the future. As you discover in this chapter,
even Windows XP demands a chunk of hard drive territory . . . both when
you install it and when it’s running.
Hence the explosion in hard drive capacities over the last five years or so.
I’m old enough to remember when a 1GB drive was an unheard-of dream.
Heck, I still have the first hard drive that I ever owned: a huge RadioShack
15MB (yes, you read right, fifteen megabyte) Disk System that I used with my
TRS-80 Model IV. (Oh, did I mention that those 15 megabytes of storage cost
me over $1,000 in 1983 and that the drive is about the size of a typical
modern PC case?) I use it as a combination monitor stand, conversation
piece, and possible proof of past visits by extraterrestrials.
Luckily, you can upgrade your PC’s hard drive with ease either by connecting an external drive or by upgrading your current internal hard drive.
Alternatively, you can simply cast yourself to the four winds with abandon
and keep your current internal drive and add a second drive. This chapter
is your road map.
The Tale of Virtual Memory
“Wait a furshlugginer minute here, Mark — you cover memory upgrades in
Chapter 2 of this very mini-book. Why bring it up now?” Good question, and
the answer lies in the fact that the pseudo-RAM called virtual memory actually exists on your hard drive rather than as memory modules on your
motherboard.
642
The Tale of Virtual Memory
Now that you’re totally confused, here’s the explanation: Today’s modern
operating systems (meaning Windows XP and 2000, Mac OS 9 and OS X,
Unix, and Linux) all use a trick called virtual memory to feed your applications the memory that they need. Suppose that your PC has only 64MB of
random access memory (RAM) installed, but you’ve just run Photoshop and
demanded that it load a 30MB high-resolution digital image. If Windows XP
were limited to using only your computer’s physical RAM (the memory modules that you’ve installed on your PC’s motherboard), you’d be up a creek
because Windows XP requires a minimum of around 24MB of memory itself,
and Photoshop takes a significant chunk of memory to run. And on top of all
that, you’re loading 30MB of data, too! With the size of today’s documents
and the amount of RAM needed by memory-hungry mega-applications, your
64MB PC literally can’t do its job. And don’t forget, you’re probably running
more than one application at once. What’s a computer to do?
As you can see in Figure 4-1, Windows turns to your hard drive for help. It
uses a portion of the empty space on your hard drive to temporarily hold
the data that would otherwise be held in your computer’s memory. In this
case, our hardworking silicon warrior uses 64MB of hard drive space, so
the total memory available within Windows (using both 64MB of physical
memory and 64MB of virtual memory) is now 128MB, providing more elbow
room to work with. Your programs actually don’t know that they’re using
virtual memory — Windows takes care of everything behind the scenes, so
Photoshop thinks that you have 128MB of physical memory.
Without virtual
memory
64 MB system RAM
64 MB of RAM
Figure 4-1:
Windows
XP creates
memory
space from
the free
space on
your hard
drive.
With virtual
memory
128 MB system RAM
64 MB of RAM
64 MB of hard
drive space
Recognizing a Well-Dressed Hard Drive
643
Now that you understand how virtual memory works, commit this Mark’s
Maxim to heart:
Always leave enough empty hard drive space for Windows to use as
virtual memory!
How much is enough? I try to leave at least 1 or 2GB free on the C: drive at
all times on my Windows XP machines. A PC that runs out of hard drive
space is a terrible thing to see; applications will start to lock up, you might
lose any changes that you’ve made to open files, and Windows will begin
displaying pitiful error messages begging you to close some of your open
application windows (or even restart).
Also, note that virtual memory is always — and I mean always — slower
than true physical memory. After all, that data has to be written to and read
from your hard drive instead of super-fast memory modules. This is why I’m
such a proponent of adding as much RAM to your PC as possible because
the more memory that you add, the less likely that Windows XP will need
to resort to virtual memory.
PC techs call your computer’s use of virtual memory drive thrashing because
Windows must constantly write to, read from, and erase data from your
hard drive. When you run out of physical memory; the hard drive activity
light never seems to go out. And yes, if you’re wondering, all that activity
will shorten the life of your hard drive.
When you decide to take the plunge and add storage space, reading this
section helps you shop by separating the good specifications from the
gobbledygook.
Today’s PCs use Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics (EIDE) hard drives.
Although a PC can use an internal Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI)
hard drive, anyone using expensive and complex SCSI hardware is already a
PC power user and can probably skip this chapter without a second glance.
Size definitely does matter
Virtually all EIDE drives on the market today are 31⁄ 2" format, meaning that
they can fit within a typical floppy drive/hard drive combo bay within your
computer’s case. Unfortunately, some mini-tower cases have only one or
two of these 31⁄ 2" bays.
Adding Hard Drive
Territory to Your
System
Recognizing a Well-Dressed Hard Drive
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644
Internal versus External Storage
Therefore, if you’re planning on parking that 31⁄ 2" drive within a much larger
51⁄ 4" bay — the kind used with CD- and DVD-ROM drives — you’ll need a
metal framework called a drive cage kit. In effect, the hard drive is mounted
into the drive cage, which in turn is mounted in the PC’s 51⁄ 4" bay. Most
drives don’t come with a drive cage kit, so you’ll need to buy one at your
computer shop. (They usually run about $10.)
How fast is your access?
When you see a drive’s access (or seek) time listed, that’s the amount of
time (in milliseconds; ms) that it takes the drive to read or write data.
Naturally, a lower access time is desirable — and usually somewhat more
expensive. Drives with access times below 10 ms are usually at the top of
their price range, especially when the drive in question has a higher
revolutions per minute (rpm) rating.
What does rpm have to do with hard drives?
In the world of personal computers, just like in the world of the Indy 500,
the abbreviation rpm means revolutions per minute. (However, I’m counting
the revolutions that the magnetic disk platter turns inside the drive.) And,
with a refreshing constancy, a higher rpm hard drive means better performance, just like a beefier engine’s rpm’s mean greater speed in auto racing.
Most of today’s IDE drives fall into one of two rpm ranges:
✦ 5,400 rpm: These drives are standard equipment on most older PCs and
can also be found on low-cost Pentium 4 computers. As reliable as
vanilla ice cream, one of these drives will get the job done . . . but
don’t expect whipped cream and a cherry.
✦ 7,200 rpm: These faster drives are found on today’s high-performance
PCs. 7,200 rpm drives used to be 10–20 percent more expensive than
their slower brethren, but lately, the cost on these faster drives has
dropped to about the same price point.
I heartily recommend that you select a 7,200 rpm drive when upgrading any
Athlon or Pentium 4 computer. The significantly faster read/write performance on one of these drives will pep up your entire system.
Internal versus External Storage
I address the idea of internal and external peripherals in a number of places
elsewhere in the book, so I won’t go into a crazy amount of detail here.
Suffice it to say that I recommend using an internal hard drive whenever
Internal versus External Storage
645
✦ You don’t need to share the drive among multiple computers or take it
with you while traveling.
✦ Your PC has an additional open drive bay, or you’re willing to upgrade
the existing drive.
✦ You want to save money.
As you might expect, with those criteria, I usually push internal hard drives
on both my unsuspecting consulting customers and myself as well. Figure 4-2
shows the curvaceous rear end of a typical modern hard drive. (Well, at least
it looks curvaceous to a techno-nerd like myself.)
Don’t get me wrong — external drives are neat toys. However, they cost
significantly more than their internal counterparts, and you’ll lose some of
your precious desk space accommodating them. Most external drives also
have their own power cord, meaning that you have to pull yet another AC
wall socket out of your magician’s hat. If you really do need an external
drive and you want to save yourself the hassle, consider a drive that’s powered over a Universal Serial Bus (USB) or FireWire connection, which means
no additional power cable worries.
Figure 4-2:
You need
all the
connectors
that fit on an
EIDE hard
drive.
Power supply
connector
Ribbon cable
connector
Master/slave
jumper
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Chapter 4
Adding Hard Drive
Territory to Your
System
If someone tries to give you a USB 1.x hard drive — or, heaven forbid, if
you’re thinking of buying a used USB 1.x hard drive — I beg you not to do it!
The first generation of USB drives were ridiculously slow. In other words,
your kids are likely to graduate from college before you finish transferring a
single gigabyte’s worth of data from that drive to your PC. Keep a safe distance from that tired drive and call your local antique hardware shelter.
646
Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive
Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive
For most current PC owners, the easiest method of adding more hard drive
space is to add a second hard drive to your system. I cite three very good
reasons for this:
✦ No backup is required. Of course, you should be backing up your current
hard drive anyway. (If not, shut this book immediately and back up your
drive!) Adding a second drive eliminates the setup that you’d have to
perform if you upgraded your current drive because you won’t have to
restore the current contents of your old drive to the new drive.
✦ Most PCs have at least one open drive bay. Unless your computer is
already stuffed to the gills, you should have enough room to add a
second hard drive. If it is stuffed to the gills, you’ll either have to
upgrade the current drive or add an external FireWire or USB 2.0 drive.
✦ It’s like . . . well . . . more for less. Rather than replace your existing
30GB drive with a 60GB drive — and end up with only 30GB more
room — I always find it more attractive to leave the original drive as is
and add that second drive, resulting in the full 60GB that you paid for.
(Remember: You will eventually use that space. Trust me.)
Are you girded and ready for battle? Then follow this procedure to add a
second internal hard drive to your current system:
1. Cover your work surface with several sheets of newspaper.
2. Unplug your PC and place it on top of the newspaper.
3. Remove the case screws and slide the case off, putting the screws
aside in a bowl or cup.
If you’re unsure how to remove your PC’s case, check the manual that
accompanied your computer.
4. Touch the metal chassis of the computer to dissipate any static
electricity.
5. Verify the jumper settings on the back of your original drive, as
shown in Figure 4-3. If necessary, change the existing drive to multiple drives, master unit (or just master) by moving the jumper to the
indicated pins.
If you haven’t encountered jumpers yet, they’re the tiny plastic and
metal shunts that you use to configure hard drives and CD/DVD drives.
Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive
647
Cable se
le
Slave ct
Master
Figure 4-3:
Change
jumper
settings on
an EIDE
drive when
installing a
second hard
drive.
6. Set the jumpers on the back of the new drive for multiple drives,
slave unit (often listed as just slave unit).
7. If your new drive needs a drive cage to fit into the desired bay, use
the screws supplied by the drive manufacturer to attach the cage rails
onto both sides of your drive.
For more on drive cage kits, see the earlier section, “Size definitely does
matter.”
8. Slide the drive into the selected bay from the front of the case,
making sure that the end with the connectors goes in first and that
the exposed circuitry of the drive is on the bottom.
9. Slide the hard drive back and forth in the drive bay until the screw
holes in the side of the bay are aligned with the screw holes on the
side of the drive (or the drive cage rails).
10. Tighten the drive down to the side of the bay with the screws that
came with the drive (or your cage kit), as illustrated in Figure 4-4.
Book VII
Chapter 4
Adding Hard Drive
Territory to Your
System
Your jumper configuration will probably be different than Figure 4-3.
Most hard drive manufacturers now print the jumper settings on the top
of a hard drive. If the settings aren’t printed on the drive, you can refer
to the drive’s manual or visit the manufacturer’s Web site and look up
the settings there. If all this seems a little exotic, the terms are really not
risqué; master means primary (and if you have at least one drive, there
must be a master device), and slave means secondary. Other than that,
the devices are treated the same way by your PC.
648
Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive
Figure 4-4:
Secure your
new friend
in place.
11. Choose an unused power connector and plug it in, making sure that
the connector is firmly seated (see Figure 4-5).
Joyfully, there’s only one way to connect a power cable to a hard drive:
the right way.
12. Plug the other connector from the hard drive cable into the back of
the drive and make sure that the cable is firmly seated.
Note that both hard drives will use the same cable, so you might need
to unplug the original drive from the cable and switch connectors. Don’t
worry: It doesn’t matter which connector goes to which drive as long as
the jumpers are correctly set.
5V
Figure 4-5:
A drive
without
power is
a paperweight.
DC Inpu
t
GND
12V
Adding a Second Internal Hard Drive
649
Check for a blocked hole in the cable connector, which should align
with a missing pin on the drive’s connector. This alignment trick, called
keying, helps ensure that you’re installing the cable right-side up.
However, don’t panic if the cable isn’t keyed: Remember that the wire
with the red or black marking on the cable is always Wire 1 and that it
should align with Pin 1 on the drive’s connector (see Figure 4-6).
Pin #1
Figure 4-6:
Connect the
drive to the
data cable.
prepare it for use.
Adding Hard Drive
Territory to Your
System
13. Replace the cover on your PC and tighten its screws.
14. Plug your PC back in and turn it on.
15. Run the drive formatting utility that accompanied your new drive to
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Chapter 4
650
Book VII: Upgrading and Supercharging
Chapter 5: Partying with USB,
FireWire, and Hubs
In This Chapter
Comparing USB 1.x with USB 2.0
Using FireWire for high-end fun
Extending your system with a hub
Adding a USB or FireWire card
I
n the days of the early IBM PCs, practically every device that you added
was internal (located within the computer’s case). Because so few peripherals existed that you could add to your system, this really wasn’t a problem.
Naturally, the parallel port took care of the printer (if you could afford one), and
as the modem grew in importance, it took up residence with the serial port.
Today, however, PC cases are shrinking. When it comes to size, I can’t tell the
difference between many new desktops and my kid’s PlayStation. Less internal
room means more need for external stuff. Also, because of the huge increase in
the number of portable devices that you can add to your computer, those toys
are naturally designed to be external, such as digital cameras, MP3 players,
and the like. The days of the PC as a monolith are over.
So what’s a poor CPU to do? Enter the two star ports of the digital age:
Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire. Talk about sassy: They’re fast,
offer plug-and-play convenience, and won’t hassle you with arcane errors
or strange settings. Plus, you can use them to connect practically everything
but the kitchen sink to your computer simultaneously.
In this section, I share the joy as we party with these two ports together.
Comparing USB Ports
You might think that all USB ports are the same, but they’re not. In the
beginning, only USB 1.x was available. Sure, USB 1.x was a fine little port
(easy to use and requiring no configuration) but only a few times faster than
an old-fashioned serial connection. To be honest, a FireWire device will wipe
the floor with the first generation of USB devices when it comes to speed.
Two or three years ago, the list of peripherals that really required 400 Mbps
652
Comparing USB Ports
of transfer speed was limited to digital video (DV) camcorders and external
audio/visual (AV) hard drives used by video professionals. Today, that list
has expanded.
To illustrate:
✦ Digital cameras that produce images with bigger file sizes.
✦ High-resolution scanners that need to churn out images with 200MB of
pixels.
✦ External high-speed CD and DVD recorders; USB 1.x external CD
recorders are limited to about 4X speed — and don’t even dream of
recording a DVD over a USB 1.x connection.
✦ MP3 players — including my favorite, Apple’s iPod, which was the first
MP3 player to use a FireWire connection.
Check out Table 5-1 to see just what a dramatic lead FireWire offered in connection speed.
Table 5-1
Comparing Speeds of Popular PC Ports
Port
Year Appeared on PCs
Transfer Speed (in
Megabits/Second)
PC serial
1981
Less than 1 Mbps
PC parallel
1981
1 Mbps
USB (version 1.1)
1996
12 Mbps
FireWire 400 (version A)
1996
400 Mbps
USB (version 2.0)
2001
480 Mbps
FireWire 800 (version B)
2003
800 Mbps
Enter USB 2.0, the latest specification. This new generation of port ups the
ante, delivering 480 Mbps, which handily tops the original FireWire specification, version A. It’s backward compatible with older 1.1 devices, so you
won’t have to start all over with your USB hardware, but naturally, only
those peripherals that support the new 2.0 standard can take advantage
of the warp speed increase.
Not to be outdone, a new FireWire 800 version B specification — which can
pump an unbelievable 800 Mbps between your PC and an external device —
has been finalized and has begun showing up on Macs in the first months of
2003. I predict that this new port will appear on PCs by the end of 2003 as
well. The new version of FireWire is also backward compatible, but the connector is different; to connect a FireWire 400 device to a FireWire 800 port,
you need an inexpensive go-between adapter.
Or Do You Just Need a Hub?
653
I Vote for FireWire
Even with the new 2.0 USB specification, I’m still a FireWire kinda guy, and
not just because it has a cooler name. Here’s why:
✦ Device support: FireWire has been around since 1996 on most DV
equipment, so it’s a well-recognized standard. On the other hand, USB
2.0 has only been around for about a year, so don’t expect to see a
high-speed USB port on an older DV camcorder.
✦ Control over connection: Ignore the engineer-speak. Basically, this
feature allows you to control your FireWire device from your PC. For
example, if you have a DV camcorder with a FireWire (or IEEE 1394,
which is the techie name for FireWire) port, you can control your camcorder from your keyboard. Just click Play within your editing software,
and your camera jumps into action just as if you had pressed the Play
button on the DV camcorder itself. Although USB can send a basic
signal or two to the device (for instance, a command to erase an image
from your digital camera), it’s nowhere near as sophisticated as the
control over connection possible with a FireWire connection.
“Hey, Gladys, the external USB drive isn’t getting any power. And I’ve got it
plugged in and everything!” Of course, that drive might not be plugged in to
the wall socket for AC power — an easy troubleshooting task — but if you’re
using a USB device that’s powered through the USB port itself, the problem
might be more insidious. Some USB ports don’t provide the full power support called for by the USB standard because they’re designed only for connecting mice, keyboards, and joysticks. Therefore, try plugging that USB
drive into another PC’s USB port to see whether it wakes up.
Or Do You Just Need a Hub?
A technician friend of mine has a great T-shirt with the logo Got Ports? If
your PC already has FireWire or USB ports but they’re already all taken, you
don’t need to install an adapter card to provide your computer with additional portage. (Of course, you could eject one of those devices and unplug
it each time when you want to connect your digital camera, but that probably involves turning your PC around and navigating through the nest of
cables on the back.)
Book VII
Chapter 5
Partying with USB,
FireWire, and Hubs
✦ Mac and PC compatibility: The current crop of Macs does not offer
USB 2.0 ports; you get USB 1.1 ports. However, every single Mac leaving
Cupertino (or wherever they’re manufactured) comes equipped with at
least one FireWire port. This compatibility allows me to pull my DVD
recorder from my PC and plug it right into my Mac. (I prefer life without
hassles.)
654
Installing a Port Card
PC power users eschew such hassles. Instead, buy a hub, which is a splitter
box that turns one USB or FireWire port into multiple ports. (Don’t get a
USB/FireWire hub confused with a network hub, which is an entirely different
beast altogether.) Although using a hub fills a port, you’ll gain four, six, or eight
ports in the bargain (depending on the hub), and everything stays as convenient and plug-and-play as before. (Engineering that’s both simple and sassy.)
Don’t forget to check whether some of your USB/FireWire devices have
daisy-chaining ports on the back that will allow you to connect another
device. You can tell that a device is designed for daisy-chaining by checking
whether it sports two of the same type of port (like a scanner that has two
USB ports). If so, you should be able to daisy-chain additional devices. A
series of daisy-chained devices will likely help you avoid buying a USB or
FireWire hub because everything is still linked to one physical USB or
FireWire port on the back of your PC.
By using these methods, you can theoretically plug 63 devices into one
FireWire port and 127 devices into one USB port. Heck, not even James Bond
can stack gadgets that high!
Installing a Port Card
Here’s where the original modular design of the IBM PC (all those many, many
moons ago) comes in handy. If your computer didn’t come with USB 2.0 or
FireWire ports, you’ll find that adding new ports to your PC is as simple as
plugging in an adapter card into a slot at the back of your motherboard. A
typical FireWire/USB 2.0 combo card costs around $100 and gives you two
USB and two FireWire ports. Follow these steps to do it once the right way:
1. Cover your work surface with several sheets of newspaper.
2. Unplug your PC and place it on top of the newspaper.
3. Remove the case screws and slide the case off, putting the screws
aside in a bowl or cup.
If you’re unsure how to remove your PC’s case, check the manual that
accompanied your computer.
4. To dissipate any static electricity, touch a metal surface before you
handle your new adapter card or touch any circuitry inside the case.
Yes, I know I keep haranguing you about static electricity — but it’s
important. I typically touch the metal chassis of the computer.
Installing a Port Card
655
5. Locate an adapter card slot of the proper length at the back of your
computer case.
This should be a Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) slot, which
is the standard adapter card connector in today’s PCs.
6. Remove the screw and the metal slot cover at the back of the case, as
shown in Figure 5-1.
Because you won’t need them again, put these in your spare parts box.
7. Pick up your port card by the top corners and line up the connector
on the bottom of the card with the slot on the motherboard.
The card’s metal bracket should align with the open area created when
you remove the slot cover from the back of your PC.
Never try to force a connector into a slot that’s smaller! Older 8-bit
cards have smaller connectors, and they won’t accept a PCI card.
8. After the connector is aligned correctly (as shown in Figure 5-2),
apply even pressure to the top of the card and push it down into the
slot until the bracket is resting against the case.
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Chapter 5
Partying with USB,
FireWire, and Hubs
Figure 5-1:
Remove the
slot cover
and screw
before
installing a
new card.
656
Installing a Port Card
Figure 5-2:
Alignment!
Alignment!
Make sure all
notches line up
9. Place the screw in the corresponding hole in the bracket and tighten
it down.
10. Place the cover back on your PC and replace the screws that you
saved from Step 3.
11. Plug your PC back in and turn it on.
12. Run the installation disc that came with your port card or load the
driver disc when prompted by Windows.
Chapter 6: Pumping Up
Your Sound and Video
In This Chapter
Selecting a sound card
Upgrading your video card
Installing your new toys
T
echnology has advanced so much that at last we’ve reached the point
where the personal computer lives up to all that personal entertainment
hoopla. You know, the idea that your PC is at the center of your gaming,
audio, and TV environment. Or, as I’ve been putting it for the last couple
of years (yet another one of Mark’s Maxims):
One box to rule them all and in the den to find them.
However, putting your PC at the center of your digital lifestyle is a bit difficult if
you’re still stuck with a subpar sound card, or if your computer’s video card is
more than a year or two old. Look at what you’re missing out on: Closing your
eyes and enjoying Dolby Surround sound with better-than-CD quality audio,
watching TV with TiVo-style control on your PC’s crystal-clear monitor, and
playing games where you can behead a super-realistic, 3-D orc with extreme
prejudice. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a good time to be alive!
If your system needs an audio/visual upgrade, you’ll find what you need to
know right here.
Sound Card Features to Covet
The first stop on your audio-visual upgrade tour is your PC’s sound card
(naturally). Shoppers, in this section, I show you what to look for when
comparing sound cards.
3-D spatial imaging
Most PC owners think of 3-D sound as a pure gamer’s feature, but nothing
could be further from the truth. Sure, today’s games are even more fun when
you can use your ears as well as your eyes to locate your enemy, but 3-D
sound comes in handy when you’re listening to audio CDs or playing digital
658
Sound Card Features to Covet
audio files from your hard drive. With audio files and music, 3-D spatial
imaging can add an auditorium or concert hall effect, where the stereo
separation is enhanced.
Surround sound support
With a Dolby Surround sound card and the right speakers, your PC can
deliver Dolby Surround sound while you’re listening to audio CDs or watching DVD movies on your PC. (For me, the biggest hassle wasn’t the extra
cost or upgrading my PC’s sound card: It was finding the space for all five
speakers around my already crowded computer desk!)
High-end Surround sound cards such as the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 from
Creative Labs can deliver Dolby Digital 6.1 Surround sound, 24-bit/192 KHz
audio playback (which is far superior in quality than even a commercial audio
CD), and 3-D imaging for your games — and all for about $120 from most Web
stores. In fact, this card even has an optional, front panel control that you can
add to an empty drive bay, so you don’t have to move your PC to plug in all
your speakers and other external sound hardware. Life is truly good.
Figure 6-1 illustrates an old friend to any PC audiophile: A subwoofer not
only adds realistic, deep subsonic bass to your music but to your games as
well. Whether you’re experiencing the grinding of tank treads or launching a
Hellfire missile, a subwoofer provides the necessary sonic punch. Most subwoofers should be placed on the floor where the vibration isn’t a factor.
Figure 6-1:
All hail your
subwoofer,
king of the
PC speaker
system.
Sound Card Features to Covet
659
MP3 hardware support
Although I discuss MP3 files in detail in Book VI, Chapter 2, I want to mention them again here because anyone who’s heavily into MP3 digital audio
will really appreciate a sound card with built-in MP3 hardware encoding and
digital effects. That MP3 hardware feature relieves your PC’s processor from
the job of ripping and playing MP3 files so that you can rip music while you
edit a digital photograph in Photoshop with nary a drop in performance. No
stuttering audio or long delays, especially on older PCs.
Many hardware MP3 sound cards also allow you to introduce the same concert hall environmental effect that I mention earlier to the MP3 files that you
create . . . now your garage band can claim to have played Carnegie Hall.
Game and FireWire ports
Many sound cards are equipped with a little something extra: a FireWire
port or an IBM game port like the one shown in Figure 6-2, which was once
a dear friend of any PC game player (because it used to be the only way to
hook up most joysticks and external game controllers). Lately, most PC
controllers have switched to the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, but it’s still
a plus for a sound card to include a game port. Older game peripherals —
like many joysticks and flight throttles — won’t work with USB, so it’s a
legacy thing. (Chapter 5 of this mini-book delivers the goods on FireWire.)
Before I move on, I have to address musicians and their Musical Instrument
Digital Interface (MIDI) ports. A sound card with standard MIDI ports
allows you to connect synthesizers and many different electronic musical
instruments, such as drums and keyboards, to your computer. With a
MIDI instrument connected, your computer can play MIDI music files on the
instrument, or you can play the instrument and record the music as a MIDI
file on your computer.
Note, however, that most of today’s sound cards can play MIDI music files
without attaching an instrument, so it’s not necessary to buy a card with
built-in MIDI ports just to play MIDI music files.
Pumping Up Your
Sound and Video
MIDI ports
Book VII
Chapter 6
660
Shopping for a Monster Graphics Card
SPKR
LINE
IN
MIC
VOLU
ME
Figure 6-2:
Gamers,
take note:
You get a
free port
with most
sound
cards.
GAME
Shopping for a Monster Graphics Card
Having a terrific graphics card isn’t all about blasting aliens to kingdom
come. A fast 3-D video card can speed up the display of digital video and
even Windows XP itself. In this section, I clue you in on what to look for
when considering a video card upgrade.
Pray, what slot do you need?
Although today’s video cards look like any other typical adapter cards, they
actually fit in either of two types of motherboard slots:
✦ Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP): The fastest video cards for today’s
Athlon and Pentium 4 computers use a dedicated AGP slot; no other
adapter cards will fit into this slot. (Refer to your motherboard or PC
manual to make sure that you have an AGP slot before you buy an AGP
video card.) AGP video cards provide the best performance, but they’re
usually a bit more expensive than their Peripheral Component
Interconnect (PCI) counterparts.
Shopping for a Monster Graphics Card
661
✦ PCI: These video cards fit into a standard PCI card slot, so they work
with just about any PC motherboard currently available. However, you’ll
encounter a performance hit when you use a PCI video card; if your
motherboard has an AGP slot available, I strongly recommend that you
use an AGP video card instead.
Rate the performance of a particular card while you’re shopping by checking
on the box or the manufacturer’s Web site for benchmark results that you can
use to compare with other cards. Try the popular benchmark program 3DMark
2001 SE ($40, from www.futuremark.com). You can also run Quake III or Unreal
Tournament 2003 and compare the maximum frames-per-second that the card
can display (the higher the frame rate, the better). You can also find up-to-date
reviews of the latest cards and video chipsets at Tom’s Hardware on the Web
at www.tomshardware.com.
Exploring the differences between chipsets
Short trip. There really aren’t any differences between chipsets, which are
the separate Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) “brain” that powers today’s
top 3-D video cards. Allow me to explain. The two major players in the PC
video card chipset battle are
✦ ATI: ATI Technologies (www.ati.com) has been producing popular
video chipsets for a decade now, including its Rage line. Typically, ATI
video cards are somewhat cheaper than NVIDIA cards, and many motherboard manufacturers build ATI video hardware directly onto their
products. Lately, ATI’s new Radeon 9700-series chipset has been a big
winner with performance that even tops the latest GeForce4 cards.
And here’s the payoff — the latest offerings from either of these companies
will deliver more performance than PC gamers are likely to need for at least
a year. In fact, I’ve been told recently by my friends at NVIDIA that they’re
appealing directly to the PC game development community, attempting to
help develop games that actually use all the hardware power featured on
the cards. (Ahh, for once . . . hardware that doesn’t suddenly turn outdated
in six months. Sassy.)
Book VII
Chapter 6
Pumping Up Your
Sound and Video
✦ NVIDIA: The cutting-edge crew at NVIDIA (www.nvidia.com)
has produced some of the fastest video cards for the PC in recent
years, including the classics RIVA TNT and TNT2 as well as the
GeForce/GeForce2/GeForce3 series. The latest NVIDIA chipset, the
NVIDIA GeForce4, is just plain awesome. In fact, very few games or 3-D
applications on today’s software market can actually push a GeForce4
card to its limit. (I know because I have a GeForce4 TI4200.)
662
Shopping for a Monster Graphics Card
Other video card features that you’ll want
Naturally, you can evaluate more than just chipsets and connectors when
comparing video cards. Keep an eye out for these features and specifications while you shop.
Onboard random access memory (RAM): Like your motherboard, your
video card carries its own supply of memory. Today’s cards typically
include anywhere from 32–128MB of memory. Again, the general rule is to
buy a card with as much onboard RAM as possible. More RAM equals higher
resolutions with more colors onscreen.
Driver and standards support: Any PC video card should fully support the
Microsoft DirectX video standards — currently at DirectX 9.0. Gamers will
also appreciate robust OpenGL support (an open video standard that’s
becoming very popular in 3-D action games). Support for these standards
should be listed on the box.
Maximum resolution: The higher the resolution that a card can produce,
the more that your monitor can display at once — and not just in games, but
documents, digital photographs, and your Windows desktop. For example, I
like to write manuscripts at a resolution of 1152 x 864 instead of 1024 x 768
because I can see more of the page in Microsoft Word without scrolling.
Today’s cards can reach truly epic resolutions, such as 2048 x 1536; personally, however, I don’t work at such stratospheric resolutions often because a
few hours of work usually leaves me with eyestrain (and possibly a
headache as well).
The maximum resolution that you can display on your system is also
dependent upon the monitor that you’re using. Therefore, if you upgrade to
the latest video card but you’re still using an old clunker of a monitor with a
maximum resolution of 1024 x 768, you’re stuck there. (Time to invest in a
new display.) For more about your monitor, see Book I, Chapter 1.
Video capture and TV output: A card with these features can create digital
video footage from an analog TV signal (that’s the video capture part) and
transfer the image that you see on your monitor to a TV, VCR, or camcorder
(that’s the TV output part). If you need to produce a VHS tape with images from
your PC, or if you want to create video CDs or DVDs from your home movies
on VHS tape, spend a little extra on a video capture/TV output card. For example, the ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500 has both of these features built in.
TV tuner: A card with a built-in TV tuner can actually turn your PC into a TV
set, including the ability to pause and replay programs on the fly (like how a
TiVo unit works with a regular TV). You can use a traditional antenna or connect the card to your cable or satellite system. Just don’t let your boss know
Installing Sound and Video Cards
663
that the new video card that the company bought gives you the ability to
watch your favorite soaps in a window on your desktop . . . you’re supposed
to be working.
Multiple monitor support: Many of today’s video cards allow you to connect two monitors to one card. You can either choose to see two separate
desktops, or you can opt to make the two monitors into a seamless desktop.
Imagine the size of your Windows workspace when it’s spread across t