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.)
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.
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
Doug Fletcher, via the Internet
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
Jonathan Harrison, via the Internet
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
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
Kent Schrader, via the Internet
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
Leonard Narrow, via the Internet
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
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
(www.microsoft.com) has a menu-speed slider control under the
General tab that does exactly what you described.
Ken Stillwell, via the Internet
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