Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 160 / JANUARY 1994 / PAGE 50

Four tips. (Windows Workshop) (Column)
by Clifton Karnes

Program Order

Problem: When you run a program by specifying its filename without an extension and there is more than one program with that name, Windows uses the extensions to decide which program to run. In other words, with the two programs MYPROG.EXE and MYPROG.COM, Windows, by default, will search for and run the COM program first. This is inefficient, however, if you use mostly Windows programs, which are EXE files.

Solution: Change the order Windows uses to search for programs.

Background: Both MS-DOS and Windows look for programs in a certain order. DOS first checks to see if the command issued is an internal DOS command; next it looks in the current directory and on the path for files in this order: COM, EXE, and BAT. Windows doesn't check to see if the command is internal, but it runs programs in the same order: COM, EXE, and BAT, followed by PIF.

The big difference between Windows and DOS is that Windows lets you change the order in which it runs programs. If most of the programs you run are Windows programs, which always end in EXE, then having the system search for COM files before EXE files is unnecessary overhead.

Step by step:

1. Run SysEdit and make WIN.INI active.

2. Find the Programs= entry in the [Windows] section. it will probably look like this.

Programs=com exe bat pif

3. Edit the line so it reads as follows.

Programs=exe com bat pif

Note: When you run a program, you can eliminate the search in DOS or Windows by including the extension along with the filename. For example, if you specify NOTEPAD.EXE instead of NOTEPAD, neither DOS nor Windows will search for other files named NOTEPAD.

Make Sound Recordings

Longer Than 60 Seconds

Problem: Sound Recorder has a maximum default recording length of 60 seconds.

Solution: Create a blank sound file to insert in another file.

Step by step:

1. Run Sound Recorder and record for 60 seconds with your microphone turned off.

2. Save this file as BLANK60.WAV (don't forget the WAV extension).

3. Whenever you want to extend the recording time of a file, open BLANK60.WAV; choose Edit, Insert File; and insert another copy of BLANK60.WAV in the file.

Note: BLANK60.WAV is 2.5MB in size. You'll have to have a substantial amount of RAM and disk space to make sound files longer than the default 60 seconds. One solution is to make a second, shorter blank sound file to insert. I've created a file called BLANK15.WAV, which is a blank 15-second sound file. I simply insert this as many times as necessary to increase the length of BLANK60.WAV.

A Solid, Nonblinking Cursor

Problem: Windows' blinking cursor can be irritating.

Solution: Change the blinking cursor to a solid one.

Step by step:

1. Run SysEdit and activate WIN.INI.

2. In the [Windows] section, find the CursorBlinkRate= entry.

3. Change the value to CursorBlinkRate=-1.

4. You can test your cursor by running Control Panel, Desktop and clicking on OK.

Note: The default blink rate is 530, with a range of 0-1200. These numbers determine how long, in milliseconds, the cursor will be displayed, so larger numbers mean a slower cursor. The value - 1 turns the cursor on. You can change the cursor blink rate in Control Panel, but you can't turn blinking off, as we have done by editing the WIN.INI file and adding a -1 to CursorBlinkRate.

Save File Manager Settings

Problem: When you set up File Manager just the way you want it, the normal way to save your settings is to select Save Settings on Exit, close File Manager, run it again, and turn off Save Settings on Exit.

Solution: Shift-double-click on File Manager's Control-menu box.

Step by step:

To save your settings at any time, simply hold down the Shift key and double-click on File Manager's Control-menu box.

Note: There is a similar (and better-known) way to save settings in Program Manager by clicking on its Control-menu box, but most people don't know you can do the same with File Manager.

These four tips are taken from my new book, Essential Windows Tools (published by COMPUTE books). All are drawn from the chapter "52 Essential Power Tips."