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Windows XP For Dummies First Edition Corrections

Note: All of these errors have been corrected in the current, second edition of Windows XP For Dummies, published in 2004.

Lots of people examine each book before it’s printed. After I write the book, I read it at least three times. My editor reads it. The copyeditor reads it. The technical editor reads it. The proofreader reads it. The sales and marketing departments skim through it. Yet, mistakes still slip through, making fools of us all. These mistakes have been found since “Windows XP For Dummies” hit print, listed by page and chapter. (Some have been corrected in later printings, as noted.)

Introduction, Page 3:
Brian Livingston didn’t write Windows XP Secrets

I didn’t know that anybody read book introductions, but apparently somebody did. And they noticed that I recommended “Windows XP Secrets” by Brian Livingston as a good book for folks seeking some advanced Windows XP information.

Brian Livingston stopped writing his “Windows Secrets” books when Windows XP arrived, as he simply doesn’t like the operating system.

However, several bookstores — online and off — still list Livingston as the author. Actually, another author, Curt Simmons, wrote the book.

Introduction, Page 6:
The www.dummies.com/windowsxp site doesn’t work!

My publisher added a plug for their own Web site where they’d include answers to reader’s questions and list book updates. Unfortunately, the publisher’s link now brings up a rather abrupt error message.

The new link seems to be at http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA/DummiesTitle/productCd-0764573268.html, but this link may stop working, too.

Finally, the publisher’s current site doesn’t include updates to the book. Instead, I keep this list of corrections to Windows XP For Dummies on this Web page, adding new corrections as I hear of them.

Chapter 3, page 45; Chapter 15, page 306:
The “How to Install a Driver” bait and switch

These two pages refer the reader to chapters containing information on installing drivers. Unfortunately, neither chapter number is correct, so here’s the real scoop.

Windows comes with drivers needed to install most of the things you’d want to attach to your computer — if they’re compatible with Windows XP. However, sometimes you’ll want to install something that’s either too new for Windows XP to know about or too old for it to remember. In that case, you need to find a Windows XP driver for that particular part. (Finding drivers is covered on Chapter 3’s page 45. Hint: If you can’t find a driver for your part, look for a “Windows 2000” driver, instead.)

If Windows XP doesn’t automatically recognize and install your newly attached piece of hardware after it’s turned on, follow these steps to install a new driver.

  1. Right-click My Computer from the Start menu and choose Properties.
  2. Click the Hardware tab and click the Add Hardware Wizard button.

The Wizard guides you through the steps of installing your new hardware and, if necessary, installing your new driver.

Chapter 3, pages 55-56:
Microsoft replaced ScanDisk with another disk-checking program.

Windows 95, 98, and Millennium used a program called ScanDisk to check a hard drive for errors. Windows XP uses the Windows 2000 equivalent, which is no longer named ScanDisk.

To check a hard drive for suspected errors, open My Computer from your Start menu, and right-click on the drive you want to check. Choose Properties, then click the Tools tab of the Properties window. Click the Check Now button to check the hard drive.

Feel free to select both available options: Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.

For the official Microsoft explanation, head to Microsoft Knowledgebase article Q315265.

Chapter 4 and Chapter 9, User Accounts:
Computers must be formatted with NTFS to ensure User Account security

Microsoft recommends that a Windows XP computer’s hard drive be formatted using the newer, more powerful NTFS than the older FAT or FAT32 systems. If you’re upgrading your computer to Windows XP, select the NTFS option while installing.

Unfortunately, many computer manufacturers ship their Windows XP preinstalled on a drive which hasn’t been formatted with NTFS. What does this mean to you? Well, if your computer’s hard drive isn’t formatted with NTFS, your User Accounts aren’t secure. Users can peek into each other Users’ files, if they know where to look. People with “Limited” and/or “Guest” accounts can still install programs and delete important files.

To see how your hard drive is formatted, open My Computer, right-click your hard drive icon, and choose Properties. If you see the word NTFS next to File System, you’re okay. If you see FAT or FAT32 next to File System, your computer isn’t as secure as you might think.

To ensure that your User Accounts function the way they’re described in the book, convert your FAT or FAT32 hard drive to NTFS by using the Windows XP’s Convert command. Microsoft explains the procedure on its Web site. Read it carefully and print it out before making the conversion.

Chapter 9, page 139:
The “Network Without a Hub” Issue.

The first sentence after the checkmarked item atop page 139 currently says,

Finally, you need a goody called a hub, where you plug in all the cables. Every computer needs to snake its cable into a single hub, as shown in Figure 9-8.

This is technically incorrect, because you can use either a cheaper or a more expensive way to bypass the hub, depending on your network setup. The two methods work like this:

  • The Cheap Way: If you’re only connecting two computers, don’t bother with a hub. Feico Nater, the book’s Dutch translator, says he merely connects the two computers with a “crossed cable,” a special breed of 10BaseT network cable available at most computer stores. A crossed cable connection doesn’t require a hub, it works just like a network, and it costs much less. Just run the cable between the two computers’ network cards, and skip the hub entirely.
  • The More Expensive Way: If you’re running several computers on your network, consider a “switch box” instead of a hub. It costs a little more, but it distributes the flow of data more efficiently, resulting in a faster connection.

Chapter 10, page 175:
Notepad’s Word Wrap feature moved to the Format menu.

For the past decade, Microsoft’s programmers placed Notepad’s “Word Wrap” feature on the “Edit” menu. With Windows XP, they moved Word Wrap to the “Format” menu, catching me — and the book — unaware.

Chapter 11, page 189:
Checking to see if a folder’s empty.

The top of the page states that there’s no way to know if a folder is empty unless you open it. Actually, if you rest your mouse pointer over a folder and wait a few seconds, a pop-up often displays the size of the folder’s contents and lists its first few files.

Chapter 11, page 196:
You can rename groups of files.

Although the book says you can’t rename groups of files, you can rename them by doing this:

  1. Highlight the files you’d like to rename.
  2. Right-click the first file on the list and choose Rename.
  3. Rename the first file —  Hawaii, for instance — press Enter.

Windows XP renames the first file as Hawaii, then gives the name to the rest of the highlighted files, tacking on consecutive numbers:
Hawaii(1), Hawaii(2), Hawaii(3), etc.

Chapter 12, page 210
Missing link to Marshmallow Bunnies Web site
The Bunnies Survival Tests Web site is no longer available.

Chapter 12, page 227
Smart Tags are not Pop-Up Advertisements

A section titled, “Little Boxes keep popping up on the Web pages” refers to Microsoft’s Smart Tags feature. However, it can easily be confused with those annoying advertisement windows that pop-up all-too-often at some Web sites.

They’re completely different things. When I was writing the book, Microsoft planned to add Smart Tags to Windows XP and Internet Explorer. Smart Tags consisted of purple dotted lines beneath words shown on a Web site. When people moved the mouse over the word, a dumb little box popped up, offering to whisk you away to find more information about that item. Usually, that information was found on a Microsoft Web site.

After public outcry, Microsoft removed the feature from both Windows XP and Internet Explorer. But they left it in Office XP, so I left the section in the book, since many new computers come with Office XP bundled with Windows XP.

However, Smart Tags are not the same as those annoying advertisements that pop up unannounced in Web sites.

Several third-party products purport to block those pop-up advertisement windows in Internet Explorer, but they’re all a bit clumsy at this stage of the game so I can’t recommend one. In a few months, however, you might find them more reliable and stable. Let me know if you find one that works effectively for you, and I’ll post its link here.

In the meantime, check out FireFox — a third-party Internet browser. It’s much better than Internet Explorer, and it offers an option to block “pop-up” ads in its preferences.

Chapter 12, page 236:
The word “News” doesn’t always work for Newsgroups

The instructions for signing up for Newsgroups in Outlook Express recommend using the word “News” for the News (NNTP) Server name. Unfortunately, many Internet Service Providers no longer use the word “News”. If following the book’s instructions lead to the error message “server is not found,” call your Internet Service Provider’s customer service people and say, “What’s the name of my Newsgroup server?” The replacement name will probably be something like, “provider.news.west”.

Chapter 12, page 236:
What’s Office Express?

In the last line of the fourth paragraph, Office Express should really be Outlook Express.

Chapter 13, Windows XP Media Player:

What’s Media Player Really Called?

This chapter refers to Windows XP’s version of Media Player as Windows Media Player 8. It isn’t. It’s officially called “Windows Media Player for Windows XP.” See, that particular version of Media Player only comes with Windows XP. Everybody else is stuck with Windows Media Player 7.1, which lacks CD burning capabilities and other fancier doodads found in Windows XP’s version.

Chapter 21, page 361:
Windows XP Home does have a Backup Program

In describing the differences between Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional, I say, “that Windows XP Professional adds a backup program. That’s true, it does install a backup program and place it on the Start menu. But Windows XP Home also comes with a backup program. But it doesn’t install the program, nor does it put it on the Start menu. Instead, the backup program remains hidden on your Windows XP Upgrade or Full Install CD, and you must install it yourself. Microsoft officially explains the process here, but this is the gist:

    1. Double-click the Ntbackup.msi file in the following location on the Windows XP Home Edition CD-ROM to start a wizard that installs Backup:

(Replace the words CD-ROM Drive with the letter of your CD-ROM drive.)

  1. When the wizard is complete, click Finish.

The Wizard will install the Backup program to your computer, and add it to the Start menu. (You should see the little “New Program Installed” message by your Start button, and the highlights will lead you to the actual program.)

Potential problem alert: Some computers that come with Windows XP pre-installed don’t include a copy of the Windows XP CD. Instead, they include a “Restore” CD. That CD simply restores your computer to the state it was in as it left the factory. It’s not an original Windows XP installation CD.

Index, page 387:
The Index says that information on Windows CE is located on Page 18 when it is actually located on Page 16.

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