Back to 9/96 Recommended
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 9/96 News: NT Vendors Reducing RISC

9/96 Letters

Fred Langa's seven deadly Web sins struck a
chord that continues to resonate, and readers
want to know more about upgrading and tuning their systems.

Storage Squeeze

David W. Methvin's "Tune It" feature (Summer special issue) stated that a good way to get some of the advantages of compression without the performance hit is to use the Plus Pack's DriveSpace3. Please elaborate a little. I do not want to compress files, just use the smaller cluster size for storage.
Keith P. Miller, via the Internet

Editor's reply: DriveSpace3 will compress files, and when it does, it uses the smaller cluster size. Consequently, you will not get the advantage of the smaller cluster size unless you compress files. Perhaps you want something like PartitionMagic, which lets you repartition your drive to get the smaller cluster size without DriveSpace3. (See Optimizing Windows.)

A thousand times nano

In the "Tune It "article (Summer special issue), you said "Constant swapping is very time-consuming and slow, since a hard disk is 10 times slower than RAM." Then in the "Upgrade It" article, you said, "Disk access times are on the order of milliseconds, while memory access times are measured in nanosecondsÑa million times quicker." There seems to be a discrepancy here of about 105. Even I know that nanoseconds are millionths of a second, or a thousandth of a thousandth, which means RAM is 1,000 times faster than a hard disk. I take it you had different people writing these two articles, which would account for the discrepancy. Help me out here, guys.
Gerald J. Parr, Tacoma, Wash.

Editor's reply: You're right on that second point. Access times for memory are 1,000 times shorter than those for disks. However, our statement that RAM is 10 times faster than a hard disk is correct, because disk data-transfer speeds are not related, except peripherally, to access times. The access time for a disk drive is a measure of how long it takes to locate the data. Transfer speed measures how fast the data can move, once located.

It's the content, stupid

Fred Langa gave some excellent pointers and ideas on how to create a useful Web page (Start, June). My pet peeve is lack of good content. Most pages have a whole lot of style and a minute amount of substance. And secondly, I don't care how fantastic the image map is if I can't get where I'm going.
David Lewis, via the Internet

I agree with every one of Fred Langa's points. Web developers need to remember that content is the most important part of a site. The way I judge Web sites is pretty simple. Anything that makes it easier for the user to find the piece of information that he or she is looking for is a plus. Anything that makes it harder to do so, or anything that annoys the user, is a minus. I'll visit a particular site again only if I'm able to find the desired data without encountering too many minuses.
Larry Werner, via the Internet

Your article on the "Seven Deadly Web Sins" was right on the mark. But you did leave one out. I have often done searches with Webcrawler-type search engines, only to find myself on a page with no index, no forward button, no backward button and no links to any other page; essentially a dead-end page. Webmasters should be careful about leaving surfers out in the cyber-Twilight Zone.
Doug Fletcher, via the Internet

One SIMM, two SIMMs

In your article on system upgrades ("Upgrade It: CPU," Summer special issue), you state, "Pentium systems can't make use of 16MB SIMMs. So if the RAM configuration in your existing 486 system consists of one 16MB, 72-pin SIMM, plan on swapping it out at the going exchange rate." While this may be true if all you want is 16MB of RAM, your statement is misleading. It makes it sound as though 16MB SIMMs simply cannot be used in a Pentium system. That's not the case. Pentium systems require SIMMs to be installed in pairs, so one 16MB SIMM would not work for 16MB of memory. However, two 16MB SIMMs would work just fine for 32MB of memory.
Les Herrman, via the Internet

Editor's reply: Our intention was to say that you cannot use that single 16MB SIMM from your old 486 to put 16MB of RAM in your Pentium system. As you correctly state, Pentiums require SIMMs to be used in pairs.

Regarding your advice on swapping out 16MB SIMMs: This is almost solid advice. You can certainly sell the SIMM and trade up to EDO. However, you actually have another option. You could opt to keep the SIMM, get another just like it and have 32MB on your Pentium board.
Jonathan Harrison, via the Internet

Playing with a handicap

The Intel Pentium processor has been around for several years. So why are software companies still writing applications for 486 and even 386 systems? It's true that today's software is more powerful; however, graphics and multimedia have developed at an appallingly slow rate. All of my multimedia applications were designed for someone running Windows 3.1x on a 486/33 with 4MB of RAM. What about me? I've got 10 times the system, yet the software design forces me to suffer the handicaps of the slowest system.
Douglas Bayne, via AOL

Cracking the safe

After reading Karen Kenworthy's article "Don't Let Sloppy Users Mess Up Your Setup," (Power Windows, July) I followed the advice using Policy Editor and saved the new file that was created. I had all the passwords in place, and everything seemed to work just as Karen said it would. Then I asked my son to try to get into my setup. To my disbelief, he got in by shutting down, restarting in Safe Mode, going into the Policy Editor to undo and saving. Is there something I may have missed?
Ron Wilson, Sturgis, Mich.

Editor's reply: You have a very clever son. Safe Mode does indeed allow you to run the Registry and Policy Editors, so you can recover from otherwise fatal changes to the Registry. As always, there's a tradeoff between security and the ability to recover from errors. The Safe Mode back door is a product of that conflict.

A note to add to Karen Kenworthy's article regarding Win95 system policies. I found that if you boot up in Safe Mode, you can run poledit.exe without having to deal with any passwords. I found this out when I accidentally restricted myself in a late-night session.
Kent Schrader, via the Internet

Taps for OS/2

John Ruley's death knell for the "original" OS/2 (Enterprise View, July) is about as timely as a requiem for MS-DOS 5.0. If the original OS/2 dies, it's because both IBM and Microsoft abandoned it. IBM is pursuing the corporate and SOHO markets and de-emphasizing the consumer market.

Microsoft is eliminating OS/2 support out of desperation. OS/2's survival has never depended on support from Microsoft. The fact that MS is bullying OS/2, which holds less than 5 percent of the consumer market, tells us that OS/2 is not marginal at all and is only going to proliferate, especially with the release of OS/2 Warp Server. The taps you hear playing is being piped in from Redmond.
Leonard Narrow, via the Internet

What's the deal?

Can anyone offer a reasonable explanation for the continued high price of RAM chips? Of all the computer hardware components, this is the one part that has not followed the typical price decrease curve. Common sense leads one to expect that hardware prices will drop as the volume produced rises over time. Usually, there is a race to modernize and upgrade to newer technologies, but in your typical SIMM chip, not much has changed over the last three years; they don't have moving parts and they rarely fail. Yet even with the advent of EDO RAM, the price of your run-of-the-mill 70ns chip remains high.
Vaughn K. McVey, via the Internet

Try this

In NewsTrends, you explained how to change the default delay incorporated in the System Registry for the Start menu in Windows 95 (Notes from the Lab, June). Those who prefer to avoid changing the Registry should note that "Tweak UI" included in MS Power Tools ( has a menu-speed slider control under the General tab that does exactly what you described.
Ken Stillwell, via the Internet

We want to hear from you! Please send your letter and phone number to: Letters, Windows Magazine, One Jericho Plaza, Jericho, NY 11753, or by e-mail to We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity.

Back to 9/96 Recommended
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 9/96 News: NT Vendors Reducing RISC