I'd Like to Do Windows: YAU PC

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Toronto Computes, October 1999

Richard Sanford asked:

How can an amateur learn the essentials of Windows programming? Preferably starting with assembly, basic, or fortran?

Alan replied:

You REALLY don't want to try to program Windows applications in assembly language! Really.

Probably the best tool for an amateur to start with is Microsoft's Visual Basic... it adds drag-and-drop interface creation tools with a core of Basic-- a language that is much less fiddly than most other popular programming languages-- C/C++ or Java, or Pascal/Delphi.

The Dummies books are OK ways to get started-- Visual Basic 6 for Dummies (for example).

Of course, you also need a copy of Visual Basic, to do this... Some of the books around include a limited-use version of VB... for example, I like:

Sams' Teach Yourself Visual Basic 6 in 24 hours by Greg Perry, which includes a CD-ROM with "Visual Basic 5 Control Creation Edition".  (US$19.99)

Alternatively, if you already have a copy of MS Word or Office, its macro-language, Visual Basic for Applications, is in fact, a quite powerful sub-set of Visual Basic, and makes a quite usable tool for learning VB programming, without having to spend extra money.

Wayne Young wondered:

Is the CD Writer able to save a file or two at any one time, just like a HD does, assuming the CD is re-writable?

Alan explained:

Virtually all recent CD-ROM drives are able to read multi-session CDs-- as a result, CD-R/RW drives can write files at various times-- even on a write-once CD-R disk.

Software such as the popular Adaptec Direct-CD (bundled with many CD-R drives, including HP's) allows users to choose to use a CD-R/RW disk as they would a big floppy-- to write to it using Explorer/My Computer, save from programs-- I even use it to back up machines across my network.

So yes-- you can do what you're describing... even on lower cost CD-R disks.

Dennis Brown asked:

If I want to remove something from the Registry to keep it from loading automatically upon boot up, what area in the Registry would I find these items in?

Alan answered:

There are several Registry areas that you want:


Check in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion
AND in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion

You may find items repeated in both HKEYs, or some appearing only in one.

(Note that in Win98, there may also be a Run- area for items removed from Run (by unchecking them in MSConfig.. items here don?t run automatically. )

You may want to back uplinese you want to remove, by selecting the line, and then using the File/Export command to make a copy that can be added back in if needed. Alternatively, rather than deleting the line, modify, by-- for example-- adding a semicolon (;) in front of the existing text.

Bob Leggate commented:

Hi Alan:  Great Column - Keep up the good work!!

Jason Lamb's July 1999 question about a "screen print" struck a chord - I have been using a freebie program for several years now called "PrintKey" which is available at several software sites (ZD Net etc.) It is an independant program which in essence reactivates the old
"PrintScreen" button. It gives a "snapshot" of the page on the screen, with several additional graphic toys to try - partial screen, magnifier, etc.  For a free program, it?s great.  Have a look.

Alan replied:

Aww shucks! Thanks for the tip!

Peter Prasad asked:

My school age daughter has an old Window 95 computer with a 1.7 g. hard drive. Every time she starts the computer, before being fully loaded, a message will appear on desktop as ?There is not enough memory to load the registry or registry is corrupted. Some devices may not function properly.? How can this message be eliminated?

Alan replied:

Most often, this is caused by a lack of free DOS conventional memory?even on computers with lots of RAM. Try increasing the amount of conventional (DOS) memory?open CONFIG.SYS in a text editor such as DOS EDIT or Windows Notepad (assuming it does eventually start up Windows), and add the following three lines to the top of the file:


That should create enough free conventional memory (i.e. below the 640kb DOS limit) to help.

Joey Zisman wondered:

I have a Zoltrix external modem?it doesn?t have a volume control, but it makes a lot of noise when I dial into the Internet. How can I keep from waking my parents when I go online in the middle of the night?

Alan responded:

In the Win9x Control Panel, double click on the Modems icon. Choose your model from the list, and click on the Properties button. Go to the Connection tab, and click on the Advanced button. You?ll see a space labeled Extra Settings. Adding ?ATM0? will turn off the sound completely, while ?ATL0? will lower the sound.

These settings will work with most modems?not just your model. And it?s nice to see a younger person concerned about his parents!

Search WWW Search www.zisman.ca

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan