\[Editor's note: Share your NT discoveries, comments, experiences with products, problems, and solutions and reach out to other Windows NT Magazine readers (including Microsoft). Email your contributions (under 400 words) to Karen Forster at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your phone number. We will edit submissions for style, grammar, and length. If we print your letter, you'll get $100.\]
You can host multiple Domain Name System (DNS) names for specific customer areas with only one IP address on your Web server. All you need is Web server software that supports Active Server Pages (ASP), such as Windows 95 Peer Web Server or Windows NT Internet Information Server (IIS). Just follow these three simple steps:
- Change your Web server administrator default home page to default.asp rather than (or along with) default.htm.
- Change your root directory home page and other virtual directory home pages to the new .asp extension.
- Add the following ASP code to the top of your Web server root directory default.asp home page. This code redirects each alternative DNS name to the appropriate virtual directory:
When you have this code in place, customers entering another.dns.name will bypass your default home page and go directly to the designated home page. By enabling and using ASP code in your Web pages, you can provide many other customization and automation benefits in addition to this simple solution for handling multiple DNS names.
A Tip on a Tip
Rick Cogley's tip "Open a CMD View of Explorer Folders" in the November 1997 Reader to Reader was a great idea. But after using it for about an hour, I grew tired of the many clicks required to use SendTo->newcmd. So I made some simple modifications. Now I only need to right-click the folder I want to go to and select Command Prompt. With this modification, you can also select a Drive Folder. Here is how to modify Cogley's tip in Windows NT Explorer:
- Copy this batch file into your c:\winnt directory:
REM NEWCMD.CMD @echo off CD "%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9 TITLECMDStartedat:%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9 from Batch %0 START /B
- Select Options under View.
- Tab to File Types.
- Select Folder.
- Click Edit to edit the Folder Type.
- Select New to add a new option.
- Under Action, enter: Command Prompt.
- Under Applications used to perform action, enter: C:\WINNT\NEWCMD.CMD.
- Click OK, and exit Explorer.
An Important Connection
I'm the systems administrator of a small NT network consisting of two NT servers—a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) and a Backup Domain Controller (BDC)—and several workstations. For some time, I had problems with not being able to log on to the network when adding workstations. When I tried to synchronize the PDC and BDC, I received error messages in the log and error notices on other workstations telling me to reestablish the trust relationship. I assumed that trust relationships applied to only multidomain networks and suspected that I had somehow created more than one domain in the network.
After studying several NT books, however, I discovered that you must connect your PDC to the network before loading the BDC. (Simply referring to the domain by the same name is not enough.) Although many systems administrators might automatically make this connection first, I didn't because I have an experimental network in which I often reload software and rebuild machines in the network. Now that I have reloaded the BDC with the PDC connected to the network, I have no problems.
The Install from Hell
My experience with running Netscape Communicator 4.03 on Windows NT Server 4.0 with Service Pack 3 is that Communicator 4.03 is solid and its browser performs faster than Internet Explorer (IE) 4.0's browser. However, I didn't like the new mail user interface. In addition, I needed to access other email accounts on Exchange and Compuserve. So I decided to migrate to Outlook 97.
Outlook doesn't import Internet email from Netscape, but Outlook Express does. So I figured that I could load the email into Outlook Express and then export it to Outlook 97. But first I had to install IE 4.0, which turned out to be the install from hell.
Microsoft gave Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the opportunity to brand their copies. Branding gives ISPs access to the title bar, Favorites, and the desktop. When I installed IE 4.0, I discovered that my ISP had gone wild with this access, so I tried to uninstall the program. The Registry still contained numerous orphan entries, and IE 4.0 files were still all over the system drive. I erased all the offending files I could find, but I'm sure I didn't get all of them.
Then I went to the ZD Net and downloaded all 60MB of cabinet (.cab) files. Despite the presence of these files, IE's Active Setup still wanted to go to the Web to download files. Thus, I had to manually extract the cabinet files and manually edit the setup file.
When I was editing the setup file, IE 4.0 gave me a choice of directories. But when I executed the setup, IE put a few token files in my chosen location and then promptly installed most of the files in another location—Program Files on the system drive. The system drive happens to be the smallest drive. (Afterward I learned that you can change a value in the Registry to control where IE installs the files. This value is at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\microsoft\windows\currentversion\programfilesdir.)
With IE installed in locations ordained by the Microsoft gods, I examined the results. My most painful discovery was the use of URL files to keep track of bookmarks. This usage is akin to using .LNK files to keep track of menu entries.
IE's approach to keeping bookmarks is wasteful compared to Netscape's approach. I am using a small FAT partition for the system partition. The cluster size is 8KB, which means that every bookmark takes up 8192 bytes. My 127 bookmarks take up more than 1 million bytes—and this calculation doesn't include any space that directory entries use. Netscape used only 23,505 bytes to keep track of my bookmarks and much more. I only wish Netscape would let me specify an external mail program or give me access to multiple mail connections.
As all Windows NT graphics professionals know, NT is a stable, robust operating system, with graphics routines in the kernel. As a result, NT is a splendid operating system for graphics work. However, MetaTools—the makers of Kai's Power Tools, Kai's Photo Soap, KPT Bryce, and more—doesn't seem to agree.
About a year ago, I bought Kai's Power Goo. The sales representative had assured me that Kai's Power Goo would work with NT 3.x and NT 4.0. It didn't.
I went to MetaTools' Web site to find a fix. MetaTools had no fix but promised to release one shortly. Over the past year, I have regularly checked the Web site for the promised fix and have been disappointed each time.
Then I went to the Voice and Vision exposition in Helsinki, Finland, where I saw a demonstration of Kai's Photo Soap. I asked the demonstrator about my problem. She put me in touch with Matti Hallikainen, who had fixed the problem by replacing the axiom.dll file in the %SystemRoot%\system32\ directory with one that he created. Hallikainen mailed me the file, and my Kai's Power Goo has worked perfectly ever since. This file is available for free download at http://max.nma.fi/index.php?pg=goo.
MetaTools' Web site at http://www.metatools.com/goo/goo.html states that, "Kai's Power Goo is a 32-bit native application, optimized for Intel-based Windows 95 and NT and Apple Macintosh/Power Macintosh platforms." How can Kai's Power Goo be optimized for NT if it doesn't work under NT?
I am bothered by your insensitivity toward MCSEs. I spent hours studying for my MCSE, which I received September 18, 1997. On October 4, 1997, I received your letter outlining the new Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) logo and revised benefits.
I began reading your letter with anticipation, believing that MCSEs would be receiving additional benefits for supporting your products. But soon I discovered that you stopped offering MCSEs 10 free incidents of technical support effective September 15, 1997. On top of this disappointment, you insulted my intelligence by printing "MICROSOFT ANNOUNCES NEW BENEFITS FOR MCPs" at the top of the letter.
I'm upset at your "new benefits" for two reasons. First, although Technet and your Web site are good resources, speaking to a high-level technician is necessary at times. Second, MCSEs should be receiving more—not fewer—benefits. Increasing MCSE's benefits would not only thank the engineers who support your products, but also provide marketing value.
Your "new benefits" are a slap in the face for your MCSEs. I can't believe you have the audacity to dump on those who support your products.
Restore Your NT OS
You probably religiously perform backups to protect your data, but how often do you restore your Windows NT operating system (OS)? When a hard disk crashed in one of my servers, I discovered that the restore process is largely undocumented, especially for restoring the OS and Registry.
After many tribulations, I discovered one way that consistently works: using the NT backup utility with a local tape drive. When an NT system partition crashes because of a media or other failure, you can restore the OS from a backup. The backup must contain the Registry files. In other words, when you perform a backup, you need to select the Backup Local Registry check box.
You can determine whether your current backup contains the Registry by cataloging the tape and viewing the directory C:\<system root\system32\config. Your backup includes the Registry if the following files (which have no extensions) are in the directory: Software, System, Security, and Sam.
Once you have a full backup (including the Registry), you can use Ntbackup to restore the OS. Before you start the restore, make sure you have a good hard disk that contains enough space to hold two instances of NT (400MB is usually safe). Then you can follow these steps:
- Install NT into a new directory and name it. You do not need to configure networking or any components beyond a standard installation.
- Reboot the machine. By default, your machine will reboot into the new installation.
- Configure the tape drive.
- Perform a catalog of the tape to view the directories.
- Find the <system> root directory, which will be winnt35 or WinNT for default installations for NT 3.51 and NT 4.0, respectively. Mark it for restoration by selecting the check box next to the directory. Click Restore.
- Find the Alternate Path box in the restore dialog screen. Enter the path to the <system> root of the original NT installation. The directory name of the system root must be the same as the name of the installation you are recovering. In other words, use the same directory names you used when you backed up the image. Click OK to restore.
- Instruct Ntbackup to overwrite any existing files.
- Select the Verify check box in the restore screen. By verifying the files, you can make sure you have restored all the files correctly.
- Run the restore.
- Remove the read-only attribute so you can edit the boot.ini file. Change the ARC boot path to the directory containing your new restoration.
- Reboot the system. The machine will boot into your restored NT OS. You can remove the temporary installation of NT by deleting the directory that you created in step 1.
- Force a domain synchronization if your system has a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) or Backup Domain Controller (BDC). The synchronization will refresh the security identifiers for your machine across the domain. You might receive NetLogon service errors until the synchronization is complete.
- Restore applications if necessary. You can restore applications over the old directories by instructing the restore program to overwrite existing files.
A Driving Issue
I have read several letters in Windows NT Magazine from readers frustrated with the lack of Windows NT drivers for the HP OfficeJet Pro printer/copier/scanner. Being an NT Workstation user who has just purchased this printer, let me shed some light on the driver issue.
The drivers for this printer will ship with NT 5.0. However, HP is writing NT 4.0 drivers for this printer. HP has developed a beta version of the NT 4.0 driver for the OfficeJet Pro 1150C. You can download the beta driver at http://www.officejet-prosupport.com/oj1150c/drivers/index.html.
HP is planning to officially release the NT 4.0 driver in the first quarter of 1998. HP will distribute the driver through its Web site at http://www.hp.com/go/officejet-pro. In the meantime, you can use the beta version or even HP DeskJet 850C drivers. The HP DeskJet 850C drivers are not ideal, but they work.
In the Trenches, Too
After reading Paula Sharick's "Phone Home! Phone Home!" in "Tech Stories from the Trenches" (October 1997), I feel compelled to relate my problems with a software vendor that refuses to supply information its customers need.
I was upgrading my company's accounting package, 20/20 Software's MAS90, from version 2.0 to version 3.0. Because my company was migrating from a Novell NetWare 3.11 server to an NT 4.0 platform, I called 20/20 Software's technical support line for guidance. The representative assured me that MAS90 3.0 would run under NT 4.0, with NT Workstation 4.0 for the client machines.
To prepare for the upgrade, I downloaded and read all the necessary documents (including the installation manual) from 20/20 Software's Web site and made sure that my system complied with all the requirements. I was ready for the upgrade.
The upgrade went smoothly. Soon the company accountant and his assistant were running MAS90 3.0. The outlook was sunny.
Then a cloud showed up. The accountant experienced file corruption, so he called 20/20 Software's technical support. A representative told the accountant that the file corruption probably resulted from the upgrade.
The cloud soon burst into a storm. The accountant came to me three more times over the next 2 days with the same problem. The third time, I became very suspicious and got involved. I called 20/20 Software's technical support for assistance, but the representative told me I had to complete a form detailing the network configuration and error message. Reluctantly I agreed and waited for the representative to fax the form to me.
When I got the fax, I couldn't make heads or tails of the questions, so I called technical support again but got a different representative. After I explained my dilemma, he responded with one question: "Have you configured your printers using the Device Configurator?" I hadn't because I hadn't heard about the Device Configurator.
The representative told me that, by default, the NT command prompt prints to the last file opened instead of to LPT1. As a result, when the accountant generated a report, the program sent the print output to the data files. In other words, the program was corrupting the data! To fix this problem, I created a device for the Windows default printer in the program. Since I installed this device, the accountant has not had any file corruption.
After the storm had cleared, I investigated why customers weren't informed about the default problem. I learned that this problem, which had been discovered 7 months earlier, would be addressed in MAS90's new installation manual. But a future installation manual doesn't help those who are currently installing the software.
Change the Command Line
In Windows NT Explorer, you can create a shortcut icon to open a directory. This shortcut works well for directory browsing but not for setting up a menu system because you still see the directories that are above the current directory in the tree structure. However, you can create a shortcut that pretends any directory is the root directory.
The command line for this shortcut usually reads something like \\server\share\directory. If you change the line to read %windir%\explorer.exe /root, \\server\share\directory, you will designate that directory as the root. Thereafter when you hit the shortcut button, you will go to that root directory.
If you want the directory to open in the Explorer mode, change the line to read %windir%\explorer.exe /e, /root, \\server\share\directory. If you want to see your start menu in the Explorer view, use %windir%\explorer.exe/e,/root, "%userprofile%\start menu" as the command line.