Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.


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    Chapter 14. Starting up a computer

    When you start Windows XP up, many programs and program modules are loaded in. This means that a part of the software is activated quite automatically by Window's start-up, often without us noticing it.

    Gradually, as you install more and more software into the computer, the start-up is expanded with more and more small programmes, which programmers want to be loaded in at the start-up. A lot of it is ok but at some time or another, the start-up has to be tidied up.

    MSConfig

    Windows has a little program for system configuration that shows what really happens during a start-up.

    1.    Type on the Windows-key+r to run a program. Then type msconfig Enter

    2.    A little program is opened with six tabs, each one describing an aspect of Windows' configuration:

    3.    Select the last tab called Start. Now you can see the programs that are automatically loaded in during a start-up:

    4.    So you can select the programs, which are not to be activated after start.

    5.    Windows has to be restarted for the alterations to work.

    StartUpCop Pro

    The American computer magazine PC Magazine has a collection of utilities you can purchase from their website for $10. See the web-address www.pcmag.com, and click on Downloads.

    There are a lot of goodies here. One of the programs is called StartUpCop, and it works like a little policeman watching over the computer's start-up.

    Figure 78. Monitoring of the start-up programs in Windows XP.

    StartUpCop Pro makes it possible to edit in programs, which are loaded during a start-up. And if you have said no to the loading of a program, then in won't come back again. Start-upCop Pro blocks unwanted programs effectively.

    In addition to this StartUpCop Pro watches over what is installed in a computer. Not just ordinary programs. If you, for example, install an update (SP1) to Microsoft Office 2003, this will result in a new system file (advpack.dll), which will be loaded during every Windows start-up. StartUpCop Pro reacts immediately with an alert during installation, so I can decide whether I will accept the update or not:

    Figure 79. Every time new programs try to sneak in, they are caught red-handed!

    Windows Task Manager

    When programs are loaded either during the computer's start-up or while you are working with Windows, they are active in the computer. They tie up both the CPU's power and work memory.

    But what is actually running on your computer? You can see this by typing Ctrl+Alt+Del, which opens Windows Task Manager. Two tabs describe the current tasks. Foremost you can see the loaded active programs. If you have an unmanageable program, which doesn't react to the mouse or the keyboard, then it can be closed by clicking on Close task:

    At the bottom in the left corner you can see how many active tasks there are in the computer. There are many more tasks than active programs; as every single user program consists of several tasks.

    On the tab Tasks you can see a list of these tasks. Try looking at them in your own computer. It's a bit difficult to assess what all these tasks are about.

    Figure 80. A selection of active tasks.

    TaskPower

    It can be very sensible to watch the tasks, which run in the computer's work memory. Unfortunately the Windows Task Manager isn't very helpful when it comes to understanding the tasks. This is why the above mentioned PC Magazine has developed a little utility called TaskPower. This is a sort of heavily improved version of Windows Task Manager.

    TaskPower displays the same tasks as the Task manager does but it gives better descriptions of the individual tasks. You can clearly see what they are doing and you can get more information by right clicking on the individual task, which incidentally can be stopped with Kill:

    But TaskPower has more. On top of displaying the active programs and tasks, there are two other tabs, which display the services and drivers, which are running in the operating system.

    There are 44 active tasks on my computer at the moment, both Windows Task Manager and TastPower agree on this. These tasks have been started by the 9 user applications, which are active. But on top of this, 88 services have been loaded, of which 56 are running. Services are also tasks, which are processed in the computer's RAM but they belong to Windows.

     

    Applications

    9 active applications

    Tasks

    44 active tasks, which have been started by the applications

    Services

    88 tasks, of which 56 are running, all of them a part of the operating system Windows

    Drivers

    159 in all, of which 94 are active

    Figure 81. A snapshot of a computer at work, here reported by TaskPower.

    TaskPower also displays, which drivers have been loaded by Windows. TaskPower isn't a program you use every day. But in situations where you simply cannot understand what is going on in your computer, then TaskPower is an excellent tool, which can throw light on the different tasks, services and drivers. See too the website www.processlibrary.com for more information about Windows' tasks.

    Figure 82. TaskPower describes the driver programs.

    Other utilities

    There are many fine utilities, which can be downloaded from PC Magazine. You can, for example, use Shortcut Manager to tidy up in the hundreds of shortcut files, which are found in all sorts of places in Windows on the desktop, in the task bar, etc.

    Figure 83. Clearing up in shortcut files with the little program Shortcut Manager.

    I can also name Robotype, which supplies text expansion to Windows programs. It makes keyboard input more effective, especially if you write a lot. You make your own collection of abbreviations (for example w for Windows, if you need to use this word many times.)

    Figure 84. The utility Robotype supplies autotext, a function, which is found in the program Microsoft Word. But Robotype works in all programs and dialog boxes.


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