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While what you create using your computer is a unique expression of who you are, how you use your computer probably isn't. Nearly every Windows XP user follows the same Start menu path to launch programs, uses the same standard techniques in programs like Windows Explorer and Outlook Express, and performs the same customizations that don't go much beyond changing the wallpaper. However, there are those of us who qualify as the "post-novice" user, who think that doing things the "official" way is too slow, less ...
While what you create using your computer is a unique expression of who you are, how you use your computer probably isn't. Nearly every Windows XP user follows the same Start menu path to launch programs, uses the same standard techniques in programs like Windows Explorer and Outlook Express, and performs the same customizations that don't go much beyond changing the wallpaper. However, there are those of us who qualify as the "post-novice" user, who think that doing things the "official" way is too slow, less efficient and less powerful than there is potential for with Windows XP. Microsoft Windows XP Unleashed will take you beyond the standard-issue default settings and program wizards to shortcuts, new customization techniques, workarounds for common problems, and warnings on how to avoid the pitfalls of Windows XP, including those associated with Service Pack 2. Along the way, you'll learn about all kinds of insider details, undocumented features, powerful tools, and background facts that help put everything about Windows XP into perspective.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
—T. S. Eliot
My goal in writing Microsoft Windows XP Unleashed, Second Edition is to cover the good, the bad, and, yes, even the ugly of Windows XP. In particular, I give you complete coverage of the intermediate-to-advanced features of Windows XP. This means that I bypass basic topics, such as wielding the mouse, in favor of more complex operations, such as working with the Registry, maintaining and troubleshooting your system, networking, and getting around the Internet.
I've tried to keep the chapters focused on the topic at hand and unburdened with long-winded theoretical discussions. However, there are plenty of situations in which you won't be able to unleash the full power of Windows XP and truly understand what's going on unless you have a solid base on which to stand. In these cases, I'll give you whatever theory and background you need to get up to speed. From there, I'll get right down to brass tacks without any further fuss and bother.Who Should Read This Book
To keep the chapters uncluttered, I've made a few assumptions about what you know and what you don't know:
I assume that you have knowledge of rudimentary computer concepts such as files and folders.
I assume that you're familiar with the basic Windows skills: mouse maneuvering, dialog box negotiation, pull-down menu jockeying, and so on.
I assume that you can operate peripherals attached toyour computer, such as the keyboard and printer.
I assume that you've used Windows for a while and are comfortable with concepts such as toolbars, scrollbars, and, of course, windows.
I assume that you have a brain that you're willing to use and a good supply of innate curiosity.
To help you find the information you need, this book is divided into seven parts that group related tasks. The next few sections offer a summary of each part.Part I: Unleashing Day-to-Day Windows XP
Part I examines your basic workaday Windows chores and reveals their inner mysteries, allowing you to become more productive. Topics include the myriad ways to get Windows XP off the ground (Chapter 1), how to use Windows XP to work with files and folders (Chapter 2), getting the most out of file types (Chapter 3), dealing with digital media (Chapter 4), installing and running applications (Chapter 5), and working with user accounts (Chapter 6).Part II: Unleashing Essential Windows XP Power Tools
The chapters in Part II get your advanced Windows XP education off to a flying start by covering the ins and outs of five important Windows XP power tools: Control Panel, group policies, and Tweak UI (Chapter 7), the Registry (Chapter 8), and the Windows Script Host (Chapter 9).Part III: Unleashing Windows XP Customization and Optimization
In Part III you dive into the deep end of advanced Windows work: customizing the interface (Chapter 10), performance tuning (Chapter 11), maintaining Windows XP (Chapter 12), troubleshooting problems (Chapter 13), and working with devices (Chapter 14).Part IV: Unleashing Windows XP Modem Communications
Part IV takes a good, hard look at the modem and shows you the theory behind modem communications (Chapter 15) and Windows XP features—such as Phone Dialer, HyperTerminal, Microsoft Fax, and NetMeeting—that use the modem (Chapter 16).Part V: Unleashing Windows XP for the Internet
Part V shows you how to work with Windows XP's Internet features. You start by getting the details behind TCP/IP, the language of the Internet (Chapter 17). From there, you learn how to get the most out of a number of Internet services, including the World Wide Web (Chapter 18), email (Chapter 19), and newsgroups (Chapter 20). This part ends with an extensive look at the Internet security and privacy features that come with Windows XP (Chapter 21).Part VI: Unleashing Windows XP Networking
To close out the main part of this book, Part VI takes an in-depth look at Windows XP's networking features. You learn some useful networking theory, how to set up a small network, and how to administer that network (all in Chapter 22), how to access your network from remote locations (Chapter 23), and how to troubleshoot network problems (Chapter 24).Part VII: Appendixes
To further your Windows XP education, Part VII presents a few appendixes that contain extra goodies. You'll find a complete list of Windows XP shortcut keys (Appendix A), a detailed look at using the Windows XP Command Prompt (Appendix B), a batch file primer (Appendix C), and a glossary of terms (Appendix D).Conventions Used in This Book
To make your life easier, this book includes various features and conventions that help you get the most out of this book and Windows XP itself:
Throughout the book, I've broken many Windows XP tasks into easy-to-follow step-by-step procedures.
Things you type
Whenever I suggest that you type something, what you type appears in a bold monospace font.
Filenames, folder names, and code
These things appear in a monospace font.
Commands and their syntax use the monospace font as well. Command placeholders (which stand for what you actually type) appear in an italic monospace font.
Pull-down menu commands
I use the following style for all application menu commands—Menu, Command, where Menu is the name of the menu that you pull down and Command is the name of the command you select. Here's an example: File, Open. This means that you pull down the File menu and select the Open command.
Code continuation character
When a line of code is too long to fit on only one line of this book, it is broken at a convenient place and continued to the next line. The continuation of the line is preceded by a code continuation character (¬). You should type a line of code that has this character as one long line without breaking it.
This book also uses the following boxes to draw your attention to important (or merely interesting) information:
Note - The Note box presents asides that give you more information about the current topic. These tidbits provide extra insights that give you a better understanding of the task at hand. In many cases, they refer you to other sections of the book for more information.
Tip - The Tip box tells you about Windows XP methods that are easier, faster, or more efficient than the standard methods.
Caution - The all-important Caution box tells you about potential accidents waiting to happen. There are always ways to mess things up when you're working with computers. These boxes help you avoid at least some of the pitfalls.
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I. UNLEASHING DAY-TO-DAY WINDOWS XP.
1. Customizing and Troubleshooting the Windows XP Startup.
2. Exploring Expert File and Folder Techniques.
3. Mastering File Types.
4. Working with Digital Media.
5. Installing and Running Applications.
6. Getting the Most Out of User Accounts.
II. UNLEASHING ESSENTIAL WINDOWS XP POWER TOOLS.
7. Using Control Panel, Group Policies, and Tweak UI.
8. Getting to Know the Windows XP Registry.
9. Programming the Windows Script Host.
III. UNLEASHING WINDOWS XP CUSTOMIZATION AND OPTIMIZATION.
10. Customizing the Windows XP Interface.
11. Tuning Windows XP's Performance.
12. Maintaining Your Windows XP System.
13. Troubleshooting and Recovering from Problems.
14. Getting the Most Out of Device Manager.
IV. UNLEASHING WINDOWS XP MODEM COMMUNICATIONS.
15. Getting Started with Modem Communications.
16. Putting Your Modem to Work.
V. UNLEASHING WINDOWS XP FOR THE INTERNET.
17. Implementing TCP/IP for Internet Connections.
18. Exploring the Web with Internet Explorer.
19. Communicating with Internet Email.
20. Chaptericipating in Internet Newsgroups.
21. Implementing Windows XP's Internet Security and Privacy Features.
VI. UNLEASHING WINDOWS XP NETWORKING.
22. Setting Up and Accessing a Small Network.
23. Making Remote Network Connections.
24. Troubleshooting Network Problems.
Appendix A: Windows XP Keyboard Shortcuts.
Appendix B: Using the Windows XP Command Prompt.
Appendix C: Automating Windows XP with Batch Files.
Appendix D: Glossary.