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Strange shortcuts and forgetful faxes

Strange shortcuts and forgetful faxes

Shortcuts are one of the new little conveniences in Windows 95. Shortcuts are the command lines behind most of the items in your Start menu and represent some of the objects on your Desktop.

Like the icons in the old Windows 3.1 Program Manager, shortcuts consist of commands to open a particular application or document. To create a hot key to launch a shortcut, first right-click the shortcut. Then click Properties, Shortcut, click inside the Shortcut Key box, and press any letter.

But unlike Program Manager icons, shortcuts can be placed in almost any folder. They even have a limited capability to track a file when you happen to move the target of a shortcut (although generally not if you move it to a different drive).

Windows 95 displays odd behaviour each time you create a shortcut. You can see this for yourself if you right-click an icon on the Desktop, such as the Recycle Bin, then click Create Shortcut. Win95 places another Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop, but with the longer title Shortcut to Recycle Bin.

The extra verbiage is unnecessary, because the Shortcut icon bears a little arrow inside a box to indicate that it is a shortcut.

Some people have suggested that Windows would stop adding on the "Shortcut to" if you renamed several shortcuts to delete the extra words. After you did this five or six times, the stories went, Win95 would stop adding the prefix. Finding out the real story involved an interesting look behind the curtains of Win95. As is the case with many other aspects of Win95, the full truth is neither as simple nor as easy as you might think.

The "Shortcut to" work-around is an experiment by Microsoft to add adaptive behaviour to Win95. In other words, the OS "notices" what the user is doing and adjusts its behaviour to fit the user's preferences.

The implementation of such adjustments is maintained in the Registry. When you start Win95 for the first time, a value named "link" is set to a default value of 20. Every time you create a shortcut, this value is increased by one and written to the Registry. If you created the Recycle Bin shortcut I mention here, you should be able to fire up Regedit.exe and see the value of "link" by selecting Hkey_Current_User, Software, Microsoft, Windows, Current Version, Explorer. Because the value of "link" is stored in hexadecimal maths, the number 21 will look like 15, and so on.

Each time you rename a shortcut to remove the "Shortcut to" prefix, the value of "link" is reduced by five. When "link" equals zero, Win95 stops adding the prefix to your shortcuts.

So far, so good. But a bug in the adaptive behaviour prevents this from being a permanent fix. If "link" equals zero and you restart Windows, the value is set back to 20 - as if you'd just installed Win95.

Fortunately, there's an easier way to defeat this behaviour than manually renaming shortcuts every time you start Windows. A free program, PowerToys, includes a Control Panel applet called TweakUI that turns off the behaviour from a dialogue box. To download PowerToys, just set your Web browser to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/software/powertoy.htmI learned about the link value from Ronald Beekelaar, a Dutch consultant who wrote about it in Woody's Underground Office, a Web-based newsletter about Microsoft Office applications. Subscriptions cost $A99 from sales@mcc.com.au. Check out Woody's Goodies available at http://www.wopr.com/wopr Fax mattersWindows 95 provides a basic fax capability through Exchange Server, complete with cover pages. But, in a bizarre interaction, you may not see any cover pages listed in the Compose New Fax wizard or in the Microsoft Fax Default Cover Page section of its properties sheet.

This can happen merely because you've recently backed up your system. Many backup programs turn off a flag called the Archive bit on files that have been backed up. The Archive bit, which has been around as long as DOS, allows the backup program to indicate which files have been safely copied to tape or disk.

This enables the backup program to perform only an incremental backup the next time around, saving only those files that have changed since the last backup. Whenever you create or modify a file, its Archive bit is turned on.

Unbelievably, fax cover pages become "invisible" to Microsoft Fax and Exchange if the Archive bit has been turned off for .CPE files. This invis-ible quirk can also occur, according to Microsoft, if you create a cover page in an unknown format, regardless of the setting of the Archive bit.

Fortunately, there is now an easy cure. Microsoft has developed a free file, known as COVER_PG.EXE, that updates the .DLL and other files in Windows 95 that cause this problem. To get COVER_PG.EXE (a 144K file), create a temporary folder for the file. Then set your browser to http://www.microsoft.com When Microsoft's home page appears, click the Support icon. (It looks like a life preserver.) Then click the heading Free Software. In the dialogue box that appears, select Windows 95 as the product and type cover page as the text to search for.

You should see a window that allows you to click COVER_PG.EXE to download it. Save the file in your temporary folder. When the transfer is complete, find the file in Explorer and double-click it. After a few files are extracted and copied to your Windows System folder, you'll see a message to restart Windows. Do so, and your problem should be cured.

You now have the ability to delete or archive the COVER_PG.EXE file. If you can't download this file, you can work around the problem manually by right-clicking .CPE files in Explorer, selecting Properties, and turning on the Archive bit for each one.


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