Windows IT Library UPDATE--the monthly report from Windows IT Library, your free online technical reference.
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January 15, 2003--In this issue:
1. BOOK REVIEW - The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book: A Complete Resource from the Desktop to the Enterprise
2. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Windows Scripting Solutions for the Systems Administrator
- Back By Popular Demand--Don't Miss Our Security Road Show Event!
3. NEW FROM WINDOWS IT LIBRARY - Windows NT Troubleshooting
- Windows 2000 Authentication
4. NEW BOOKS IN PRINT - 802.11 Security
- Visual Basic .NET Developer's Handbook
5. NEW EBOOKS - The Insider's Guide to IT Certification
- Custom CGI Scripting with Perl
6. WINDOWS IT LIBRARY TOP FIVE - The Microsoft Outlook E-mail and Fax Guide
- Optimizing Windows NT
- Microsoft Windows NT Server Administrator's Bible: Option Pack Edition
- Microsoft Windows NT Secrets: Option Pack Edition
- A+ Certification: How to Pass Your Exams
7. TECHNICAL TIP - Finding Windows NT Registry Keys
8. CONTACT US See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
* THE WINDOWS XP/2000 ANSWER BOOK: A COMPLETE RESOURCE FROM THE DESKTOP TO THE ENTERPRISE
Author: John Savill
Published: October 2002
Soft cover, 1360 pages
If you use or administer Windows XP or Windows 2000, given the complexity of these OSs, you're likely to run into a problem sooner or later. When that happens, to whom, or to what, can you turn for immediate assistance? A good place to start is "The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book: A Complete Resource from the Desktop to the Enterprise." This book has been written with a variety of readers in mind: professional Windows systems administrators, owners and managers of small businesses, and home users.
John Savill, author of "The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book," is well qualified to write such a text. Savill holds MCSE and Windows NT Most Valuable Professional (MVP) certifications and has authored "The Windows NT and Windows 2000 Answer Book: A Complete Resource from the Desktop to the Enterprise." He also is responsible for the content of John Savill's Windows NT/2000 FAQ Web site ( http://www.ntfaq.com ), is a contributing editor to a number of publications, and works as an independent consultant to banking institutions.
As you might expect, a book that covers the intricacies of both XP and Win2K (the book also touches on NT 4.0) is not small. The nearly 1400-page book is organized into 38 chapters. A small sample of the topics covered includes service packs, system configuration, user configuration, desktop environment, registry, recovery, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), and multimedia.
Each chapter begins with a brief explanation of the basics for a particular topic; for example, the purpose of Active Directory (AD) or the implementation of Group Policy within a Windows environment. This introductory material also contains a discussion of any relevant installation concerns. The next part of each chapter concentrates on the more advanced and sophisticated configuration options and actions. For instance, in the chapter on batch files, a short introduction walks you through what's required to write, and then execute, a basic batch file (the example that Savill uses explains how to send a simple text message to the screen). The remainder of the chapter expands on this foundation and explains such things as the different commands you can use within batch files, how you can call a subroutine in a batch file, how you can call a batch file from within another batch file, and how you pass parameters to a batch file. Even if you've never written a batch file, by the time that you've read to the end of this chapter, you'll have gained a good grasp of what's required. Most likely, you'll also have attained the confidence to experiment with batch files.
Less experienced Windows professionals will probably find the short amount of introductory material that appears at the beginning of each chapter useful. Seasoned Windows professionals, however, will most likely prefer to skip directly to the FAQs, which are the meat of this book. The content of the FAQs themselves demonstrates the depth and type of material that's tackled throughout the text. For example, the book contains introductory and background FAQs, such as "FAQ 1.1: What does NT stand for?" and "FAQ 3.19 Does Windows XP contain any Easter Eggs?" But the majority of the FAQs are designed to be hands-on and to show readers how to accomplish specific tasks; for example, how to change settings. A typical example is the last FAQ in the book (in the chapter devoted to Internet Security and Acceleration--ISA--Server 2000): "FAQ 38.14: Why is my ISA Server using 50 percent of available memory for the RAM proxy cache?" This particular FAQ contains simple, easy to understand (and to implement) directions for modifying the amount of memory that the ISA Server uses. By the time you've finished this book, you'll have been exposed to hundreds of questions and, more importantly, read the answers that relate to the core functionality common to both XP and Win2K.
One of the most appealing features of "The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book" is that the FAQs aren't padded with unnecessary information. The author has written each FAQ clearly and concisely and, where extra clarification is needed, provided an appropriate number of screen shots. As Savill points out in the book's introduction, "this book is a technical book; the answers are to the point and do not include extra narrative--when you need a solution, you need a solution. When a description is useful, I provide one, and in all cases, the information provided is consistent with that needed to achieve your goal and where appropriate to solve your problem."
As a reader, I appreciate the way Savill organized the FAQs. He structured the text so that "each entry is self-contained--that is, you don't have to read other FAQs to understand any one FAQ." Savill adds that the book "starts off with the core chapters describing the basic concepts of Windows, including an explanation of how to install Windows, and then moves on to customization and descriptions of domain concepts and optional components."
An important concern that pertains to such a large and technical book like "The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book" is whether you read through it sequentially from start to finish, or whether you skip around and read only those chapters that seem relevant to you. Another alternative is to place it in a readily accessible spot on your bookshelf so that you can quickly grab it whenever a problem occurs. How you read the book, of course, comes down to personal preferences and needs. But if you do have sufficient time available to read it all the way through, I agree with Savill when he says that "gaining an understanding of elements that you don't currently use will open up the true power of Windows and potentially give you new and more efficient ways to achieve your day-to-day tasks."
The idea for the "The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book" came from Savill's FAQ Web site. If you're an XP or Win2K user (or you're responsible for maintaining their use by others), you should bookmark the site and visit it regularly. The site hosts discussion forums on topics such as Win2K, NT, Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange Server, Outlook, IIS, Web Administration, SNA, Systems Management Server (SMS), Small Business Server (SBS), BackOffice Server 2000, Windows Me, and Windows 9x. Although the FAQ topics covered in the book are represented on the site, you'll find a large number of additional FAQs on the site.
For more information about "The Windows XP/2000 Answer Book," visit the publisher's Web site ( http://www.awprofessional.com ). You can view the book's table of contents or click on the Preface link to read the introduction to the book to discover Savill's reasons for writing the book (along with the objectives that he set for himself when doing so). The third chapter of the book, devoted to XP, has been provided online as a sample chapter. Sample FAQs included in that chapter are "FAQ 3.1: What is the difference between Windows XP Professional Edition and Windows XP Home Edition?" and "FAQ 3.22: What upgrade paths does Windows XP support?"
The publisher's Web site also contains an Index link, which opens a .pdf file that contains the book's complete index. This online index is an excellent resource, because it allows anyone thinking about purchasing the book sight unseen over the Internet the opportunity to see if the book contains content that they require. More publishers should follow this practice.
Windows IT Library Guest Reviewer
For more book reviews, visit the Windows IT Library Web site.
* WINDOWS SCRIPTING SOLUTIONS FOR THE SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR
You might not be a programmer, but that doesn't mean you can't learn to create and deploy timesaving, problem-solving scripts. Discover Windows Scripting Solutions, the monthly print publication that helps you tackle common problems and automate everyday tasks with simple tools, tricks, and scripts. Try a sample issue today at http://www.winscriptingsolutions.com/rd.cfm?code=fsei262lup
* BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND--DON'T MISS OUR SECURITY ROAD SHOW EVENT!
If you missed last year's popular security road show event, now's your chance to catch it again in Portland, Oregon, and Redmond. Learn from experts Mark Minasi and Paul Thurrott about how to shore up your system's security and what desktop security features are planned for .NET and beyond. Registration is free so sign up now! http://www.winnetmag.com/roadshows/security2003
* WINDOWS NT TROUBLESHOOTING
Learn all the tweaks, tips, and administration shortcuts necessary to keep a Windows NT environment trouble-free. This reference contains detailed solutions and preventive techniques for the most common NT hotspots. http://www.WindowsITlibrary.com/documents/book.cfm?documentid=638
* WINDOWS 2000 AUTHENTICATION
This chapter looks at the most important OS security service--authentication--and how it's implemented in Windows 2000. Learn about the Win2K authentication architecture and the nuts and bolts of the Kerberos authentication protocol, such as how it compares with Windows NT LAN Manager (NTLM) and how it can be used as a single sign-on (SSO) solution between different OSs. http://www.WindowsITlibrary.com/content/617/06/toc.html
* 802.11 SECURITY
This book gives you a broad basis in the theory and practice of wireless security and dispels some of the myths along the way. If you're a network, security, or systems engineer, or anyone interested in deploying 802.11b-based systems, you'll want this book beside you every step of the way. http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/80211security
* VISUAL BASIC .NET DEVELOPER'S HANDBOOK
If your goals involve Web programming, this book offers detailed instruction that will help you achieve them. You'll learn to use Visual Basic .NET to build and deploy XML-based Web services, create ASP.NET-based Web applications, and implement support for mobile devices. As you progress, you'll master some of the trickier aspects of form design, solve tough database connectivity challenges, and secure your applications with built-in Microsoft .NET features. http://www.sybex.com/sybexbooks.nsf/booklist/2879
* THE INSIDER'S GUIDE TO IT CERTIFICATION
This book offers guidelines for choosing the best study guides, helps you save hundreds of dollars, and suggests ways you can become successful in IT. The amount of time you'll save preparing for your certification exams will more than make up for the time that you spend reading this book. http://winnet.bookaisle.com/ebookcover.asp?ebookid=13475
* CUSTOM CGI SCRIPTING WITH PERL
This book, a resource for Web developers and programmers who program Common Gateway Interface (CGI) applications in Perl, is designed to function as both a comprehensive reference to the fundamentals and a hands-on tutorial with detailed examples for creating and customizing CGI applications for the Web. You'll learn important CGI basics such as how to set up a server for integrating CGI scripts and how to work with HTTP variables. You'll also get a complete review of all the Perl syntax needed to create CGI programs and learn how to upload and test scripts and how to use libraries effectively.
* THE MICROSOFT OUTLOOK E-MAIL AND FAX GUIDE
Written for Microsoft Outlook end users and the administrators who support them, this volume explains all the real-world tasks that you're likely to encounter when working with Outlook, plus many timesaving techniques that take you beyond the basics.
* OPTIMIZING WINDOWS NT
With the expert advice of Sean Daily, you'll quickly learn how to tune your Windows NT system to get the most performance out of your existing network. This book offers working solutions for everyday networking problems and includes hundreds of benchmarking, maintenance, troubleshooting, and recovery tips.
* MICROSOFT WINDOWS NT SERVER ADMINISTRATOR'S BIBLE: OPTION PACK EDITION
This book, with specific coverage of the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack add-ons, can help you plan, install, configure, manage, optimize, and connect NT Server 4.0 to the Internet.
* MICROSOFT WINDOWS NT SECRETS: OPTION PACK EDITION
Packed with the kind of notes, tips, and workarounds that come only from years of working day-in and day-out with a product, this book will help you optimize the performance, reliability, and security of your network.
* A+ CERTIFICATION: HOW TO PASS YOUR EXAMS
This book walks you through all the skills tested in Computing Technology Industry Association's (CompTIA's) CompTIA A+ certification exam--both the A+ Core Hardware exam and the A+ OS Technologies exam.
* FINDING WINDOWS NT REGISTRY KEYS
This tip is excerpted from Beth Sheresh, Doug Sheresh, and Roger Cowart's "Microsoft Windows NT Server Administrator's Bible: Option Pack Edition" (IDG Books, 1999).
One of the biggest headaches in working with the Windows NT registry is remembering where a particular key is stored so that you can view or modify its value entries. Fortunately, Registry Editor supplies a simple search function. Here's how to find a key within the registry:
-- Click the Registry Editor window containing the subtree that you want to search. Navigate to the highest point in the subtree where you want the search to begin.
-- On the View menu, click Find Key.
-- Type the name of the key that you want to find. If you're sure of its capitalization, click to select the Match case checkbox. If you've specified the entire key name, click to select the Match whole word only checkbox. You can search for the partial name of a key by clicking to clear the Match whole word only check box.
-- Click Find Next. If it finds a match to the key for which you're looking, Registry Editor positions you to that key in the database. If it finds the key that you want, click Cancel. If you want to continue the search, repeat this step until you've found the key that you want.
Fortunately, some enterprising software developers have created third-party tools that can simplify your search in the registry. For example, the Somarsoft DumpReg utility dumps the NT registry as text, making it easy to find keys and values matching a particular string. Entries can be sorted according to the time that they were last modified, letting you see changes made by recently installed software. You can download an evaluation copy, which has printing and Clipboard functions disabled, from http://www.somarsoft.com. A fully functional version costs $10.
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