Hewlett Packard


Techtalk - November 1999

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Dave Moss reviews Executive Software’s Diskeeper Frag Guard, LapLink FTP and Digital Dashboard.

I remember when the word was that fragmentation was a thing of the past. The Windows NT Filing System had arrived and there was no longer any need to worry about our files being scattered to the winds, or our hard disk being split into a myriad of tiny lumps of free space. The truth of course was somewhat different. NTFS suffered from fragmented files and fragmented free space as much as the next OS, and so the need arose for an NTFS defragmenter. Executive Software filled that gap with the splendid Diskeeper*, and version 5.0 recently arrived chez moi, in both server and workstation versions. The most obvious difference, noticeable before I even got around to stripping off the wrapping was that it now serviced Windows 95 (OSR2 or higher) and 98 as well as Windows NT.

Even Windows 2000 got a mention on the front of the box, but that was in respect of update information waiting to be revealed once I’d opened the box. Once you register, you’ll be told where to go and get the update when Windows 2000 actually ships. This would appear to be a free upgrade too, so hats off to Executive Software on that score.

For those who use Windows NT, Diskeeper 5.0 has a further trick up its sleeve that is called Frag Guard. This is used to help cut down Master File Table (MFT) and paging file fragmentation, and handily it also provides you with an automatic boot-time defrag option. Be warned that the latter can take a while to run, but if you want to sort your directory structure out, defrag the paging file, or sort out the MFT, these actions can only be carried out before Windows NT has actually started.

Nip over to http://www.execsoft.co.uk/ to find out more, and to download a 30-day trial version so that you can test this excellent tool out now, if you don’t already use it of course. If you do, well it’s time to upgrade. While you are there, check out Undelete for Windows NT 4.0 too. It comes in both server and workstation versions, but this time the workstation tag means it will only run on Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, and the server tag means it will only run under Windows NT 4.0 Server. Both Executive Software products covered this month require Windows NT to be running Service Pack 3 as a minimum.

Do you use FTP a lot? I certainly do. Currently my favourite product is the highly impressive BulletProof FTP, but I would also like to direct your attention to LapLink FTP. This product, if nothing else, provides you with a handy group of preset FTP sites to go and investigate, and the tools to add more to the list in as easy a manner as you might wish. You can have multiple connections running at the same time, and the friendly Explorer-like interface lets you forget you are connected at all as you happily move files about from one location to another with a simple click of the mouse button. So, beware of that if you are on a dial-up connection. It happens to be free too; all you have to do is register the 30-day trial version once you’ve got it. Find out more at http://www.laplinkftp.com/.

Want to improve you position in the office? Then make sure that you have all the important information right there at your fingertips. Sound familiar? It should. Information At Your Fingertips (IAYF) has been a Microsoft chant for some time.

The latest item they have come up with is the Digital Dashboard, part of the overall Digital Nervous System. Basically speaking, it is a technology that enables you to customise Microsoft Outlook 2000 so that it becomes a fully featured information service provider. You do this by modifying the Outlook Today page, stuffing it full of information from a wide variety of places. Naturally, having Office 2000 and the Office Web components will be a prerequisite here, but you can actually do so many cool things with this technology you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

The key is that the Outlook Today page is actually HTML, so you can use any elements you might expect to be able to use in that environment. The Office 2000 Web components are obvious choices with their Pivot Table/Chart/Spreadsheet components, but you can have data sources from SQL Server, data via ODBC, implant ActiveX controls, Java applets and so on. You can also place Outlook items on the page, giving you instant access to mail folders, tasks, your calendar and so on.
Check it out at http://www.microsoft.com/digitalnervoussystem/km/digitaldashboard.htm

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