I've written recently about security risks for Microsoft Windows users when connected to the Internet. Reader Eric Pogroski points to a feature of Windows 2000 that can help. You can shut off your "always-on" Net connection when not in use.
Along with hardware and software firewalls, this makes you invisible to hackers. In Win2000's Explorer, right-click the My Network Places icon, then select Properties. Right-click Local Area Connection, then click Disable. To connect again, repeat these steps, but click Enable. Does anyone have a screen-saver to do this automatically after a period of inactivity?
Get thee to Computer Management
In my January 31 column, I wrote that you could click Start, Run, and run the command CompMgmt.msc in Win2000. This is useful because the Administrative Tools program group menu, in which the handy new Computer Management applet is found, doesn't automatically appear if you upgraded from Windows 9x.
Reader Kevin Eddy found an even faster way to get to the Computer Management applet. Right-click the My Computer icon on the Win2000 Desktop. Then click Manage; there you are.
Don't touch that mouse!
I reported several weeks ago that Win2000 doesn't support USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices when Windows is in Safe Mode. This is a safety feature, because a USB port might be causing the problem that initiated Safe Mode. But it makes it hard to recommend using USB mice or keyboards -- as you might on a "legacy-free PC" -- because you'd hardly be able to do anything in Safe Mode to cure whatever ails you.
Bruce Kratofil, one of my co-authors of Windows 2000 Secrets, follows issues around USB. He reports that Win2000 detects a USB keyboard or mouse as new hardware if you restart Win2000 after plugging the device in to a different USB port.
Among other things, this can keep a Compaq Legacy-Free Computer from waking from standby using the keyboard or mouse. Compaq officials say that you can keep this problem from occurring by turning on "Allow this device to bring the computer out of standby" in the Keyboard or Mouse control panels. Details are at Compaq Customer Advisories.
Of course, if you can't bring the PC out of standby, you can't use the Control Panel. So you may have to remove all power and then reboot to do the fix.
Sloppy drivers for floppy drives
Windows 95 and 98 users are still having problems with floppy drives. For example, opening a dialog box for My Computer, File Open, or File Save-As can take forever while Windows checks for a (nonexistent) floppy disk in the A: drive.
Nevell Greenough reports that a poorly implemented floppy driver can cause this behaviour. Ironically, such programs as Microsoft Backup and Seagate Software's Direct Tape Access install this driver, even when you use a non-floppy device, such as a SCSI or parallel device, for backup.
The driver in question is named Drvwq117.vxd. If you use a tape drive that's attached to a floppy connector, you're stuck with this driver, and you'll just have to live with it. But if not, you can clear up the problem by getting rid of the file.
To do this, boot to DOS (hold down Ctrl after the memory self-test, then select Command Prompt) and rename the file to Drvwq117vxd.old or whatever you like. The file should be found in C:\Windows\System\IOsubsys. There are many references to other problems with this driver. Search on the driver name at your favorite search engine if you're having floppy difficulties.
Tipsters Pogroski, Eddy, and Greenough will each receive Windows 2000 Secrets for being the first to send in tips that I printed.
Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 2000 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to Brian Livingston. He regrets he cannot answer individual questions.