Power User: A guide to XP Pro

John McCormick

Government users just migrating to Microsoft Windows XP Professional will find a particularly handy feature: Word for XP can load multiple documents into an open document.

Select File, Open and highlight several files. When you press Enter, multiple new windows appear. But select Copy, Esc, and you return to the original document. Now select Paste.

Need a logo or other special symbol? To work in XP Pro's Private Character Editor, select Start, Run and then enter the word eudcedit. It's a snap to build custom characters pixel by pixel.

Once you've designed a new alphabet or special character for your office or professional discipline, you access it via Start, Run and typing charmap. Look in All Fonts (Private Characters), which will become the top entry in the fonts list. All Fonts won't appear on the list until you have created at least one custom font with eudcedit. Charmap also appears under Programs, Accessories, Systems Tools.

I wouldn't trade Symantec Corp.'s Norton Personal Firewall for it, but XP has its own Internet Connection Firewall. Minimalist in nature, it watches only incoming data, not what leaves your PC.

To activate or modify ICF, go to the Control Panel and select Network Connections, then right-click on the connection you want to protect. Select Properties, Advanced where ICF is the top item.

ICF can protect dial-up, digital subscriber line and cable modem connections. Although it's a modest tool, it generates a security log file at c:\WINXPPRO\pfirewall.log.
To activate logging, highlight the link in Network Connections, choose Properties and, under the Advanced tab, click on Settings at the bottom. Then click on Security Logging and make your selections.

If you're having trouble with a virtual private network connection to your office, disable ICF. The same goes for local networks, so check whether ICF is enabled. If so, it will cause trouble.

If you run XP Pro on an older system, perhaps one upgraded from Windows 98, you're already aware of slow performance even with plenty of RAM.

Some overhead is the fault of XP's fancy graphics. To stop wasting system resources, open the System Properties applet in the Control Panel and choose the Advanced tab. Go into Performance Settings, Visual Effects. Here you can choose 'Adjust for best performance' or just eliminate things you don't want. You'll see a lot of cycle-wasting fluff.

I opted for 'best performance' and saw an improvement even though I'm running XP Pro on a high-end 2-GHz Pentium 4 with 512M of RAM. Dumping icon shadows and similar junk also sweetened up an older PC I recently loaded with XP Pro.

System Properties, Advanced is the place to modify the way XP reports errors to Microsoft Corp. If you're tired of seeing as many useless error messages as pop-up ads, you might want to make some changes here.

John McCormick is a free-lance writer and computer consultant. E-mail him at powerusr@yahoo.com.

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