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October 29, 2002—In this issue:
- Mobile Mishaps and the Laptop of the Month
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
- Microsoft Launches XP Media Center Edition
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
- Solving XP SP1 Network File Errors
- Print Management—Track and Quota User Printing
- Attend Our Free Tips & Tricks Web Summit
5. HOT RELEASES (ADVERTISEMENTS)
- Manage Printers, Profiles, & Policies!
- VeriSign - The Value of Trust
6. INSTANT POLL
- Results of Previous Poll: .NET Framework
- New Instant Poll: Laptop Purchases
- Featured Thread: Downloading in Windows XP Pro
- Tip: How Can I Stop Windows 2000 from Using an Encrypted Format When I Copy Encrypted Files to a Server?
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Manage Services and Account Passwords
- Schedule Backup Operations
- Submit Top Product Ideas
9. CONTACT US
See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, email@example.com)
The past few laptop models I've reviewed for my laptop-of-the-month columns have been what I call thin-and-light devices—ultra-mobile notebooks, generally without any internal optical disks, that sacrifice raw computing power for mobility, battery life, and low weight. These three characteristics are important to the frequent traveler, and although I'm not always on the road, my travels over the past few months have made me reconsider what's important in such a device. This month's laptop—the IBM ThinkPad X30, which I discuss below—has many of the same benefits and problems of the previous laptops I've reviewed. Fortunately, I've uncovered a few key components you can tune to make a laptop truly roadworthy.
As I've noted previously in Windows & .NET Magazine UPDATE, using a laptop is often an exercise in compromise. Although you can purchase true desktop replacement machines with beefy hard disks, enormous high-resolution screens, up to two optical disks, and mobile Pentium 4 processors that meet or exceed anything you'd see in a modern PC desktop, these devices are enormous and prohibitively heavy. I've carted various desktop replacements around the country over the years, and although I'm a big guy, such machines are unwieldy; I don't understand how others use them on the road.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the thin-and-light machines. These devices generally feature no internal optical disk (although the Fujitsu S6010 I tested in July bucks this trend), forcing users to use an external disk (bad) or a docking slice (good), although a docking slice generally provides more battery power at the expense of added weight. (Curiously, some slices don't add extra battery power; avoid these machines because the extra electronics will further diminish the life of your existing battery.) Thin-and-light machines usually feature mobile Pentium III processors, which top out at about 1.33GHz, smaller hard disks, and more stringent battery-saving techniques. Often, they include shared video memory, which further reduces performance, and a mono speaker (although headphone connections are in stereo).
Somewhere between these two extremes, another class of laptop devices exists that I'll call mainstream laptops. Although the size, weight, and processing power of these machines tend to fall in between the thin-and-light models and the desktop replacement models, you can find some models with high-end Pentium 4 chips.
I spent much of the past year traveling with various thin-and-light models, expecting that convenience and light weight would outweigh the performance trade-offs. So far, I've been disappointed. Looking back over my notes, some trends emerge. The machines delivered lackluster performance, slowing to a crawl when two or more top-tier applications (e.g., Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word) are running simultaneously. I usually run more than two applications at once, but I've learned to pare back my habits on the road.
However, I've finally figured out where the thin-and-light models' performance problems lie. On most thin-and-light laptops, shared video memory saps 8MB to 16MB of RAM, which can be fatal on a Windows XP-based laptop with just 256MB. I suggest you find a machine that features a video adapter with dedicated video memory instead of a device that uses shared video memory. Laptop makers use shared video memory because it saves battery life; in my experience, this configuration is often prohibitively slow. Also, consider upgrading the RAM. Increasing the RAM on the ThinkPad X30 (reviewed below) from 256MB to 384MB of RAM paid off in immediate performance benefits, and increasing the memory to 512MB further improved performance. Finally, test the machine with CPU power management turned off. Modern mobile processors use slower clock speeds when running on battery power. This functionality saves battery life, but it also kills performance.
The IBM ThinkPad X30
This month's Laptop of the Month, the IBM ThinkPad X30, is a stunningly crafted machine with ultra-low weight (about 3.5 pounds); a tiny, easy-to-use keyboard; and the same excellent feature set one expects from the company that makes the pinnacle of laptops. ThinkPads usually rise above the mediocrity that grips other laptop lines, and the X30 is no exception.
The X30 includes some interesting add-on features. You can get a media slice, which I like, although the review unit shipped with an external USB-based CD-ROM drive. IBM offers external DVD, CD-RW, and combination drives, any of which would have been preferable to the CD-ROM drive. But IBM did send an external battery that plugs into the bottom of the unit, increasing the laptop's weight to about 5 pounds and extending battery life past an unbelievable 7.5 hours. I took this machine on two massive road trips this month, and battery life was never a concern. I can't overstate how important battery life is. If you get an X30, get the external battery.
Like other thin-and-light models I've reviewed, however, the X30 has some problems. Performance was subpar until I increased the RAM. The "n" key stuck occasionally, making typing difficult. And the machine sometimes came out of hibernation mode on its own, which was a curiosity at first, then an annoyance when the machine woke up in my hotel room with the screen open, casting the room in blue light and waking me up. I eventually learned to shut down the device, but if this problem affects all X30s, IBM needs to develop a fix.
The X30, like all ThinkPads, comes at a premium. Configured as reviewed, the X30 will set you back about $2800 (or $3000 with the maximum 768MB of RAM). You can configure a model with dedicated video RAM, which I recommend. The X30 will satisfy the frequent traveler, assuming you take steps to overcome the device's performance limitations. Combine IBM's excellent hardware with the optional external battery, and you probably won't be disappointed.
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2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Today, Microsoft launches its latest Windows XP version, XP Media Center Edition (MCE), at a special event in New York City's Bryant Park. Mike Toutonghi, vice president of the Windows eHome Division, will join actor and comedian Tom Arnold and other celebrity guests for the launch, which also coincides with the North American availability of the Hewlett-Packard Media Center PC, which runs XP MCE. Microsoft's latest OS combines the power of XP with a remote control interface for digital media tasks and Digital Video Recording (DVR) functionality.
"Windows XP Media Center Edition greatly enhances consumers' ability to use their PC for both work and play," says Bill Gates, the chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft. "This newest member of the Windows XP family enables consumers to enjoy the best of what digital entertainment has to offer and takes us into an exciting new era of personal computing." For the complete story, visit the following URL:
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
(contributed by Paula Sharick, email@example.com)
In response to last week's article about the ever-morphing redirector components, reader Phil Rupp wrote to tell me that Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) clients on his network experience consistent problems accessing files stored on a Windows 2000 server. He wonders whether the two redirector components might be the problem. Rupp first noticed the problem after upgrading XP systems to SP1. After the upgrade, XP clients encountered a variety of error messages when trying to access remote files. Messages include slow performance messages, notification that files are corrupt or already open by another user, or messages that state the file is no longer available. Rupp noted that clients encounter these errors in a variety of applications, but only when accessing files hosted on a Win2K system.
According to Microsoft, the connectivity problems aren't related to multiple versions of the redirector code but do involve the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. The Microsoft article "'File or Network Path No Longer Exists' or 'No Network Provider Accepted the Given Network Path' Error Message When You Copy or Open Files in Windows XP SP1" at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;q329170 states that the client errors are the result of a bug in how the Win2K system hosting the shared resource processes signed SMB packets from an XP SP1 client. The protocol bug produces many error messages in a variety of circumstances. Clients might also experience delays accessing a remote file, and in some cases, hang and need to be restarted. Find out more about these connectivity problems and how to solve them at the following URL:
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6. INSTANT POLL
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Has your enterprise implemented the Microsoft .NET Framework?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 228 votes:
- 28% Yes
- 72% No
The next Instant Poll question is, "Which considerations are most important to you when making a laptop purchasing decision?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Transportability (i.e., size and weight), b) Power and functionality, or c) Price.
This XP Professional user suddenly can't download files from certain secure sites. He has tried various solutions, but none seem to help. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:
(contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com)
By default, when you copy locally encrypted files to a server, Win2K retains the encryption format. However, you might not want server-based files to be encrypted. For example, a laptop user might want to encrypt files locally for security reasons but want the server-based files to be unencrypted so that other users can view the files.
To stop Win2K from copying files to a server in an encrypted format, perform the following steps on the destination server:
- Start a registry editor (e.g., regedit.exe).
- Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem registry subkey.
- Select the NtfsEncryptionService value, then select Edit, Delete from the menu bar.
- Close the registry editor.
- Reboot the server for the change to take effect.
After you make this change, you'll no longer be able to encrypt files on the server and Win2K will decrypt any encrypted files that users copy to the server.
8. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Carolyn Mader, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lieberman & Associates released Service Account Manager 3.60, software that lets you view all services running on all machines. You can locate and change all instances of domain administrator accounts, manage account rights and memberships as part of the service account change, and see what services are running or missing from your servers and workstations. Service Account Manager runs on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT systems. Pricing starts at $499 for an Enterprise Starter Pack, which supports five licenses. Contact Lieberman & Associates at 310-550-8575 or 800-829-6263.
Dantz released Retrospect 6.0 for Windows, software that protects your data on file servers, desktops, notebooks, and line-of-business application servers. The software eliminates complex manual procedures for managing backup media and schedules backup operations. Retrospect is available in three configurations: Retrospect Professional for $129, Retrospect Single Server for $699, and Retrospect Multi Server for $1099. Contact Dantz at 925-253-3000.
Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to email@example.com.
9. CONTACT US
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