FINE-TUNE YOUR DATABASE AND TAME DIRECTORY DEMONS
HINTS AND TIPS FROM OUR READERS
David Stanton's review of BetterWorking Eight-in-One (October 1989) mentions a deficiency in the database—the Find function works on only one field at a time. I've used other database programs which suffer from this deficiency, as well as the inability to sort on more than one field at a time. I've devised a simple solution I'd like to share with your readers.
Set up a "key" field in your database which contains multiple pieces of information. You can then sort on this key field.
For example, I have my checkbook ledger sorted in a database. Suppose I want to enter a check issued to John Doe on August 24, 1989. Enter 082489Doe in the KEY field, where 082489 is the date and Doe is the last name of the payee.
Enter all checks in this fashion and, when the key field is sorted, you'll be able to produce a ledger sorted by month, day, year, and last name.
Now comes the important part. To find all checks written in August, simply search the key field with wildcards. In my database program, that would be 08??89*, which matches all of the days in August (because of the ??) and all last names (the *). To pull up all checks written to John Doe last year, you'd use FIND ????88Doe.
James A. McKnight
Drive You Crazy
You bought a PC with both 5¼- and 3½-inch floppy drives so that you could purchase software in either format. However, you soon discovered that it isn't that easy. Your new game came on 5¼-inch disks and insists on being installed from drive A. Unfortunately, your 5¼-inch drive is B.
The obvious remedy to this problem is to edit the INSTALL.BAT file, replacing all occurrences of A with B, or to copy the files to the proper hard disk directories manually. Either solution is a daunting task for the computer novice. With a little DOS trickery, though, you can fool your system into thinking that drive B is drive A and vice versa.
The ASSIGN command will let you give a drive a new name. The format is
ASSIGN drive = newname
where drive is the letter identification for the drive that gets the new name, and newname is the new drive letter.
If your program's install batch file thinks the 5¼-inch drive is A, ASSIGN will correct that assumption. Just put the offending disk in your 5¼-inch drive and type
ASSIGN A = B A: install
where install is the name of the installation program or batch file. When you've completed the process, type ASSIGN on a line by itself. ASSIGN without any parameters clears all of the assignments.
Be careful with this command. FORMAT and DISKCOPY will ignore it, as will some copy-protected programs that look for a key disk in drive A. It's best to make your assignment, execute the batch file, and then clear the assignment immediately to avoid confusion.
Drives from A to Z
How would you like to have all of your word processing files on drive E, games on F, and GW-BASIC programs on G? When you first organized your hard disk, you sectioned things off using subdirectories. Now you can make navigating your system even easier by using the SUBST command to trick DOS into thinking those subdirectories are separate, physically attached drives.
First decide the highest drive letter that you'll be using. If it's higher than E, you'll need to add a line to the CONFIG.SYS file. Suppose that M will be the highest drive specification you want to use (Z is the absolute maximum). From the root directory, type COPY CON:CONFIG.SYS and press the enter key, type LASTFILE = M, hit the F6 key, and press the enter key; then reboot your computer.
Now you can define the drives using the SUBST command. Suppose you want F: to refer to your WordStar subdirectory. Type SUBST F: C: \ WS and press the enter key. Typing DIR F: will now give you a directory of the WS subdirectory. Many other DOS commands will work with the F drive specification.
To have your new drives work automatically, add lines to AUTOEXEC.BAT specifying the aliases.
Several DOS commands won't work with a substituted drive. They are ASSIGN, FORMAT, BACKUP, RESTORE, LABEL, JOIN, DISKCOPY, DISKCOMP, and FDISK.
Richard C. Leinecker
Do you have advice that makes a PC more productive? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Send your tip, no matter how brief, to COMPUTE! Feedback, P.O. Box 5406, Greensboro, North Carolina 27403. If we publish your suggestion, we'll send you a gift.