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7/96 How To: Optimizing Windows

Don't Toss Windows 3.1x ... Yet

By John Woram

ONE OF MY COMPUTERS has long suffered under the weight of three versions of Windows. It started out as a Windows 3.1 system, and when I got Windows for Workgroups (WFWG) a few years ago, I installed it into a separate directory. At the time, this was handy for comparing the two versions. When Windows 95 came along, I again installed into a separate directory. For a while this, too, was convenient. It let me compare how each version performed the same task under the same hardware configuration. It also gave me a fallback position in case it turned out Windows 95 wasn't all things to all people (or at least to one of them).

By today's standards, this old 486/50 is no power machine. And its 500MB hard drive, which was big in its day, is getting smaller and smaller. Rather than continue whining, I've decided to break out the pruning shears and snip some stuff I don't really need anymore. It's been a long time since I did any of those A/B comparisons, and even if Win95 is not quite operating system nirvana, it's better than its predecessors. I never look at Windows 3.1 anymore, I almost never look at WFWG, and besides, I could use the disk real estate.

But before I dump the whole works into the big bit basket, I'd like to preserve a few items, at least for now. Here's a look at two of them, and my rationale for saving them.

Paint vs. Paintbrush

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Make It Fit

Win95 replaces the old Paintbrush (PBRUSH.EXE) applet with the new Paint (MSPAINT.EXE) applet. Like its predecessor, Paint is often derided by graphics gurus, who need something a lot more powerful to produce spectacular color graphics. Nevertheless, both are quite good, especially when you consider their price.

Win95 probably erased your old Paintbrush as part of the setup procedure and left a new PBRUSH.EXE in your C: \WINDOWS folder. But this isn't the real thing; it's just a 5KB stub that redirects calls to Paintbrush to Paint, which resides in the C: \PROGRAM FILES\ACCESSORIES folder. The new applet adds many improvements, while doing everything the old one did.

Except for one little thing. Have you ever created a bitmap that's just a bit too big to fit on a single printed page? The old Paintbrush applet had a handy scaling option in its Print dialog box, which would print the bitmap at say, 80 percent of its original size, or at whatever size it took to get it on the page. Although this function is missing from Win95's Paint, you can use the Image menu's Stretch/Skew option to resize the bitmap horizontally or vertically. (Depending on your video configuration, this feature may "skew" up your image's color definition.)

Although this feature goes a step beyond the old version, allowing you to resize an image either horizontally or vertically, it also resizes the actual bitmap. This is something you may not want to do, because if you accidentally save the resized image, you'll have lost your original. You'll have to remember to exit without saving, or undo the size adjustments, if you don't want them to be permanent.

If this concerns you, you can erase the PBRUSH.EXE stub file and expand fresh copies of PBRUSH.EXE and PBRUSH.DLL from your old Windows 3.1x diskettes into the C: \WINDOWS folder. Now, if you run PBRUSH, that's what you'll get, so you can run off a quick resized print without actually changing the bitmap itself. The new Paint applet is still there for everything else.

Another alternative is to open your Win95 word processor and import the bitmap into a document file by choosing Insert/Picture. Highlight the image and place the mouse pointer over either right-hand corner. When the diagonal double-arrow appears, drag the corner as required until the image fits comfortably within the page margins. (If you try this within Paint, you simply move the image around the viewing area without changing its size.) As a double-check, use the Print Preview mode to verify that the entire image fits on the page.

Of Clipboards and ClipBooks

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Share Your Raciest Files

WFWG enhanced the old Windows 3.1x Clipboard Viewer with a ClipBook Viewer, which, like its predecessor, was largely ignored. For many users, it was just one more invisible element that silently took care of cuts and pastes and didn't deserve close attention. ClipBook did, however, offer an interesting feature to anyone willing to look for it. The feature permitted you to view a local clipboard's contents, as well as any shared clipboard images, on other network-connected computers. So, a user might copy a little excerpt to the local clipboard, and others at remote sites could paste that excerpt into their own document. A few text paragraphs, a bitmap or some cells from a spreadsheet could pass back and forth via a simple cut-and-paste operation.

If you were one of those who became accustomed to clipboard sharing, you may have noticed its absence in Win95. As a Microsoft technical paper clearly explains, "The Clipboard Viewer tool that is included with Windows 95 does not have sharing functionality."

End of discussion? Not quite. "The Clipboard Viewer tool that is installed with Windows 95 ..." would be more accurate. On the Win95 CD sits a full-featured version of ClipBook, quietly waiting for anyone who would seek it out. There's even a little text file that invites you to "Use this utility to view the clipboard contents ... and to share these images over the network." To install it, from Control Panel, double-click on Add/Remove Programs, select the Windows Setup tab and then click on the Have Disk button. Click on the Browse button, select the x: \Other\ClipBook folder (where x is your CD-ROM drive letter), then click on the OK button until the Have Disk sheet appears. Put a check next to ClipBook Viewer and click on the Install button to complete the procedure. Your Accessories group should now show ClipBook Viewer, as opposed to the default Clipboard Viewer. The Viewer's new menu bar should offer File, Edit, View, Window and Help menus, while the former applet showed only File, Edit, Display and Help.

You may need to perform one more step, because in order to actually use clipboard sharing, the Network Dynamic Data Exchange utility (NETDDE.EXE) must be running. In Win95, some applications run it automatically, and some-including ClipBook Viewer-don't. If you're not sure about this, open ClipBook Viewer's File menu. If the only options are Open, Save As and Exit, NETDDE.EXE isn't running. If that's the case, exit ClipBook Viewer, run NETDDE and reopen it. The File menu should now show the Share, Stop Sharing, Connect and Disconnect options. To save the minor bother of remembering to run NETDDE before you open ClipBook Viewer, just put a shortcut to it in your StartUp folder so it runs every time Win95 opens. Then repeat all this on at least one other machine and you'll be ready to start sharing clipboard images between systems.

To check the new ClipBook Viewer, highlight anything you like and copy it (or just press Print Screen tocopy the Desktop to the clipboard). When you first open ClipBook Viewer, its title bar probably reads ClipBook Viewer - [Clipboard] and nothing but the just-copied image is visible. If so, select Cascade from the Window menu. This reduces the Clipboard window size, and you should see a minimized Local ClipBook icon near the bottom of the screen (which probably reads "Local Cl . . ."). Open that window, which for the moment will be empty. You may already see this window grayed out behind your new clipboard.

Now, select Edit/Paste. You'll be prompted to enter a name for the image currently on the clipboard, and when you do, it will be pasted into your local ClipBook, and a Share ClipBook Page dialog will prompt you for your sharing instructions. To view this shared ClipBook page from a remote computer, select File/Connect from that computer's ClipBook Viewer and enter the name of the remote computer. When you click on the OK button, a new window opens and its title bar reads ClipBook on \\REMOTE COMPUTER NAME. The window shows the local ClipBook's contents on the remote computer.

You can view the contents of a local or remote ClipBook in one of three formats: Table of Contents shows a simple listing of available images and Thumbnails shows thumbnail images that may even display realistic versions of the images. This seems to work best on text images, and you may actually be able to read some of the words, or at least get a sense of paragraph layout. Finally, the Full Page option displays a single highlighted image in the entire ClipBook window. If you want to copy a remote image to the local clipboard, highlight it in the remote window and select Edit/Copy. That image is now on your local clipboard, and you can paste it into any open document.

The ClipBook Viewer is even useful on a non-networked computer, because it allows you to save and

conveniently retrieve multiple clipboard images. Just set up the local ClipBook window to show Thumbnails, double-click on any one to show it full screen and copy it to the clipboard if you decide to paste it into a document.

When you save a clipboard image to the local ClipBook, it's saved as a .CLP file in the C: \WINDOWS folder, and such files can be huge. That's because the clipboard saves the image in a variety of formats so you can paste it into whichever document you open. For an illustration, enter a few numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and save it as, say, TEST.XLS. Highlight those cells and copy them to ClipBook Viewer. Save the image as TEST.CLP. If you go to Explorer you'll see the Excel file is 15KB while the ClipBook file is 53KB.

If you open ClipBook's View menu, you'll see some two dozen formats listed, most of which are grayed out, indicating the format is available but can't be viewed via the clipboard. But if you open your word processor's Edit menu and select Paste Special, you can paste the image in as an Excel Worksheet, formatted (RTF) or unformatted text, a picture or a bitmap. Or you can paste the excerpt into another Excel file in any of a dozen formats. ClipBook stores these and all the other formats within a single .CLP file, which accounts for its large size. When you save a clipboard image to the local ClipBook, Windows gives the saved file a cryptic name, such as CBK5376.CLP or something equally uninformative. So, if you discover some leftover .CLP files in the C: \WINDOWS folder, open the ClipBook Viewer to see what each contains. If it's something you no longer need, select Edit/Delete to get rid of it.

These remnants of Windows past-one taken from your version 3.1x distribution diskettes, the other as close as your Win95 CD-are nice little tools to keep on hand, even after you've otherwise decided you no longer need Windows 3.1x around.

Warning: Paste with caution

In several informal test runs, I was unable to make a successful connection to a remote system on a network. I was also unable to open certain graphic images due to their size. A simple Print Screen image can easily be close to 1MB, and that may present problems for a variety of reasons, among them network traffic, system resources and memory. Maybe the reason Microsoft left this out is because although it's handy, it's not bulletproof.

Senior Contributing Editor John Woram is the author of Windows Configuration Handbook (Random House, 1993). Contact John in the "Optimizing Windows" topic of the WINDOWS Magazine areas on America Online and CompuServe.To find his E-Mail ID Click Here

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