While we're all waiting expectantly for Windows 98 to be released and make our lives better and easier, we can make some improvements to our Windows 95 and Windows NT systems.
Remember RegClean? It's a Microsoft utility that cleans up problems with Windows Registry files. I wrote about RegClean several times last year, when I reported that Microsoft had removed it from its Web site. It seems RegClean wouldn't run after Internet Explorer 4.0 was installed. (Ah, yes, that's the browser that's so integrated with Windows 95.)RegClean 4.1a reappeared on Microsoft's site a few weeks ago. The new download is now compatible with both NT and Win 95 (including Explorer 4.0). It's worth trying.
I reported that RegClean cleared up a problem on one system that made every running application crash, one by one, whenever Windows' ShutDown routine was run.
RegClean also fixes other problems.
For example, if you install Version 1.0 of Microsoft's Visual InterDev, then select Custom Controls from the Tools menu of Visual Basic 4.0, you get error messages such as: "Object server not correctly registered." This is because Visual InterDev creates invalid entries in the Registry. RegClean straightens this out. It also cures erroneous keys installed by custom controls developed with Visual Basic 5.0.
Now that RegClean 4.1a is available, you should use it rather than older versions. RegClean 3.0 and 4.0 inadvertently remove Registry keys needed by the Automation functions of Word 97, Excel 97, Access 97, PowerPoint 97, and Outlook 97. If this happens to you, and you get errors such as "Object required" or "OLE automation error", you can run a free Microsoft utility called Idisp.exe to restore the needed keys. Set your browser to support.microsoft. com/support/kb/articles/q165/8/61.asp.
When RegClean 4.1 was released, it resolved these issues, but remained incompatible with NT.
Version 4.1a of RegClean works with both NT 4.0 and 3.51, as well as Win 95. You can download the new RegClean from support.microsoft.com/ support/kb/articles/Q147/7/69.asp.
RegClean 4.1a has even spawned a sister program, RegMaid. RegMaid cleans up after you delete OLE projects created with Microsoft's Visual C++ and Microsoft Foundation Classes. Details are at support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/ q156/0/78.asp. Thanks to reader Ralph Marotta for keeping tabs on RegClean for me.
Speed too: an update
Many readers have told me their throughput improved after they upgraded their x2 modems to the new V.90 standard. A few lost between 2Kbps and 4Kbps. If the V.90 upgrade works more slowly for you, you can default to x2 by adding S32=66 to the command string for Sportster modems and S58=32 for Courier modems. In Win 95, double-click the Dial-Up Networking icon in My Computer, then right click the icon for your connection. Click Properties, Configure, Connection, Advanced, enter the proper string into the Extra Settings field, and click OK.
More on that modem mayhem
In my column on K56flex and x2 modems, I quoted Jack Rickard of Boardwatch magazine (see ARN, May 6, 1998 page 60) as saying the slower K56flex speeds he had measured were the result of digital impairments at his local telephone company's central office. But in fact, he said the impairments were found in the ISPs he called. I misunderstood his comments and stand corrected.
Officials at Rockwell Semiconductor, which makes a K56flex chip set, want me to let you know the same software that upgrades K56flex modems to the new V.90 standard can be used to go back if you have problems. The company is working on a generic upgrade program that could upgrade all Rockwell-based modems, but for now you need a different program for each modem brand name. See www.56k.com for a list of available downloads.
Explorer, IIS don't get along
Microsoft's Internet Explorer has been much in the news of late. Microsoft doesn't want to distribute it separately from Windows 98. Only two years ago there were as many as 10 Internet browsers available. Now there are just two or three, at a price (zero) that doesn't encourage start-ups. If there's any hope that consumer choice will remain alive in the software industry, it's due to the fact that sometimes Microsoft products don't work well together, even when they have every advantage.
The latest example involves Explorer 4.0x and Internet Information Server (IIS) 4.0, which runs on Windows NT. It seems that Explorer 4.0 frequently crashes when you retrieve a Web page containing Java or Active Server Page (ASP) scripts from IIS 4.0.
Microsoft's recommendation? "Use IIS Ver-sion 3.0", a company statement reads, or "use Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 3.0 to access an IIS 4.0 computer".
Something old, something new?
So the solution is to use an older version of one product. Actually, Microsoft does have an IIS patch it's testing internally, so if this problem affects your servers, you may be able to persuade the company's technical support people to share the patch with you. For details, go to support.microsoft.com/support/zkb/articles/q183/2/83.asp.
The problem is that IIS doesn't put a correct header in its HTTP output. Microsoft says the crashes happen most often when users access IIS through Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0, but they also occur without a proxy server's being involved. That's why the patch relates to IIS, not Proxy Server 2.0. After the fix has been tested to Microsoft's satisfaction, it should become part of a new service pack.
I'd like to thank Bruce Kratofil and Bruce Brown for calling this to my attention. They have more information on their BugNet sites: www. bugnet.com/bugalert.html and www.bugnet. com/free1.hmtl.
A somewhat unrelated problem that affects IIS 4.0 and Proxy Server 2.0 is that users of both Version 4.0 and Version 3.0 of Explorer receive "11001 Host Not Found" errors - even though the host appears to be fine. Microsoft says this occurs because the default Web site in its Microsoft Management Console has an IP address set to the IP address of the site's internal network interface card. One solution is to open your Default Web Site Properties dialogue box and switch the IP Address field to "All Unassigned". Details are available at: support. microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q184/0/31.asp.
Finally, I've learned that an obscure Windows NT Registry setting can make Explorer and IIS more stable. Querying a database or retrieving a large ASP file can cause random errors in Explorer 3.0 and IIS 3.0.
The solution Microsoft suggests is simple: change the value of "BufferingOn" in the Registry from 0 to 1. This value is found by running NT's Regedt32.exe and locating Hkey_ Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\ Services\W3SVC\ASP\Parameters.
The change prevents errors by storing the information for the browser in a buffer. Details are available at support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q164/0/73.asp.
Brian Livingston is the co-author of several best selling Windows books, including the most recent Windows 95 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to email@example.com He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.