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11/96 Letters

Readers appreciate Fred Langa's one-year analysis of Windows 95. Plus, there were strong reactions to a reader's letter about RAM prices, one of Mike Elgan's Win95 tips and our "Safety on the Net" feature.

When You're Right, You're Right

Fred Langa's article about what's right about Win95 (Start, August) should be e-mailed to every editorial columnist in the PC mag arena. The press has been awful on Win95. It's good to see someone of Fred's caliber getting down and dirty with Win95 before he praises or trashes it. As Fred suggests, your choices of PC manufacturer, software and hardware vendors are what make the difference.
W. Keith Brown via the Internet

In Fred Langa's column, he states, "Speaking of Win95, consider the paradox it's created. No OS has ever been adopted by so many in so little time.... But, inexplicably, and totally contrary to the numbers, someWin95 as a dog or a dud." To date, I would have to say that Fred's analysis is, by far, the best and fairest I've ever read.
Brett Yahoudy via the Internet

The club for computers

In response to John Yacono's article ("Defend Your Data," September), there is an important problem with the password-protected screen saver: It is unfortunately not necessary to know the password to change it or disable it altogether. As long as the waiting time hasn't elapsed, anyone can go into CONTROL PANEL\DISPLAY\SCREEN SAVER and change or disable passwords. An annoying but effective protection against this is to set the waiting time to one minute just before leaving the computer, wait till the screen saver kicks in, and then when you return, reset it to whatever waiting time is convenient. Also, there are many inexpensive ($16-$25) disk locks that insert into the floppy drive and make the computer say "error non-system disk" when trying to boot.
Moshe Gaerman via the Internet

Editor's reply: Fortunately, when you invoke a screen saver as a service, it loads immediately (it doesn't wait for the timeout interval). For times when you simply walk away from your machine, you can define hot spots on the screen that start the screen saver as soon as you move your cursor into them. Your disk lock tip is excellent.

Reality check

I can't figure out Vaughn K. McVey's complaint (Letters, September). In 1987, RAM cost me $300 per megabyte for my brand-new 286 machine. Less than one year ago, a 4MB 70ns SIMM was approximately $125. Today's price is under $100 for a 16MB 60ns SIMM.
Richard S. Mansfield via the Internet

Has Vaughn K. McVey looked at ads in magazines, newspapers and mail-order catalogs in the last three years? In 1993, 1MB of SIMM memory ran about $50 mail-order and more in the stores. Today, 1MB of 30-pin 70ns DRAM sells for about $10. On a per-megabyte basis, 8MB and 16MB 72-pin DRAM SIMMs are even cheaper. Compare this 80 percent drop in price with changes in other components, and you'll see that memory is one of the greatest (and most cost-effective) upgrade bargains to be had.
Fred Kaufman via the Internet

I have to disagree with Vaughn K. McVey's statement about RAM prices being so high. Maybe the SIMM has been devalued like the dollar, but 8MB is still 8MB.
Bob Bliss via the Internet

Questionable pursuits

I understood the article "Safety on the Net" (August) was promoting cautious use of the Web to protect your system, but fuzzing out the URL on page 170 wasn't enough. In reality, the article thinly veiled key clues that would tempt an otherwise naive Web-surfer into investigating activities not suitable to honest pursuits.

Jon Lenihan via the Internet

I applaud your article "Safety on the Net." However, in your attempt to discourage hacking, you actually encouraged it by including a screenshot of the Web site. And in an ironic twist, that hacking site included a tool for disabling the PGP program you also included as a screenshot.
Gary F. Spradling via the Internet

In alerting the public to safety on the Net, you took a great risk. By including the screenshot of that hackers' Web site, even with the URL grayed out, you put my system and the whole network at risk.
Andrew Dorsett via the Internet

This must be a joke

I read with shock the suggestion that users should get a "clean slate" every six months by backing up their hard disks, reformatting and reinstalling all of their applications (WinTips, August). As a 15-year veteran of PCs and a professional network engineer and administrator, I think that such a suggestion for the average home user or office worker is not only bad advice but borders on insane. Backing up and reinstalling is outrageously time-consuming. How many office workers or computer administrators have time to reinstall all their software every six months? How many home users would want to spend their relaxation hours doing this?
David Koppy via the Internet

When I read your recommendation for everyone to reformat their hard disks, I thought it was a joke! How can you make such a recommendation? All of those miscellaneous INI settings, configurations, CONFIG.SYS, memory management, proper sound card and CD-ROM settings, etc. would be gone. I truly believe your recommendation to be reckless and irresponsible, and a disservice to your readers. Reformatting a hard disk should only be the option of last resort, and that option is usually only recommended by technical people who know how to properly troubleshoot and resolve Windows issues.
John Ream via the Internet

Say the secret password

A couple of people wrote that you can bypass the passwords on POLEDIT if you boot to Safe Mode (Letters, September). There is a way around this: If you add the line BOOTKEYS=0 to the end of MSDOS.SYS, F8 and F5 will have no effect on the boot process. But this is still not 100 percent secure. Unless you disable booting from drive A:, someone could boot a floppy and edit MSDOS.SYS, re-enabling F8 and F5.
Jason Itell via the Internet

On the FrontPage

I have to disagree with your review of Microsoft FrontPage 1.1 (Winlab Reviews, August). I have used FrontPage since it was called Vermeer FrontPage. I've found that the interface is an excellent start. As for ISPs, how else can you achieve built-in security at the administrator, author and user levels? Also, there are many special tools like Search, Discussion Webs and HTML Includes. The one frustrating limitation that James E. Powell mentioned, "You can view HTML source, but cannot edit it," is simply not true. There are two ways to do this: 1) through the Extended Button on page properties and 2) by opening the document in Notepad from the Explorer view. And there is indeed a form wizard, right above the frame wizard. When you select New from the menu, it does just what Mr. Powell said he wished it would.
Dean Livingstone via the Internet

Editor's reply: If built-in security requires extensions that ISPs won't support, the product is of less value to the general user, Microsoft's target audience. There are, indeed, many special tools, but several distinguishing features depend on these extensions without adequate warnings. It's true that you can always edit HTML source using another application; my point is that there is no integrated editor you can select from a menu choice or toolbar button in FrontPage itself (as you can to view the source).

Protect the Net's future

With the flood of people who are now hooked into the Internet, it was simply a matter of time before direct sales people found another way to irritate the public. These ads are unsolicited and almost completely unchecked. The unique problem with this compumarketing is that the receiver pays a service provider for this dubious privilege. For the first time in the history of commerce, a potential customer directly pays for part of the cost of advertising. The Internet is a great boon to our economy. We must look ahead and see to it that compumarketing does not set back the healthy growth of the Internet.
Jason Robinson 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.

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