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Windows-Help.NET Newsletter16 Jan. 1999, Vol 2 No. 3

 April Fools Bug?

by Arie Slob

Dear Windows-Help.NET subscriber,

Another bug is about to hit Microsoft Windows users. Although not before April 1 2001. A Massachusetts programmer (Richard Smith) reported this bug, which will hit every Windows PC in the US in 2001.

The bug causes some Windows applications to ignore the Daylight Savings Time (DST) for a whole week, apparently because April 1 2001 falls on a Sunday. The problem was traced back to a Windows DLL file, MSVCRT.DLL. Now you would think that wouldn't be to difficult to fix would you? Well, there's a snag: some applications contain their own copy of the file (I found 4 different versions on my system), and all of these would, presumably, have to be replaced by the software vendor. Microsoft has confirmed the bug, and is working on a fix...

Richard Smith has posted a simple Web page for people to test their browsers for the problem - both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator are affected by the bug.


Intel has just unveiled its latest processor, the Pentium III (code name "Katmai"). The new chip is supposed to be released by the end of February. The main difference from the Pentium II is the addition of a new instruction set, dedicated to 3D gaming & 3D rendering and all other applications that require floating point processing of arrays of numbers. Up until now this Instruction Set has been referred to as KNI (Katmai New Instructions). The Pentium III also includes some other small improvements. The new processor is set to debut at 500MHz on launch date.

The Pentium III will fit in existing BX-motherboards. In another 3 months or so Intel should release a new chipset ("Camino"), offering a 133MHz front side bus (FSB).

The "hottest" chip at the moment however is definitely the Celeron (see picture). Last week Intel released the latest additions to this "family", the 366 and 400HMz versions, both running a 66MHz FSB clock. These new versions are also available in socketed versions. The socket is called "Socket 370" (Intel has lost its imagination?), and will lower the price of CPU & motherboard manufacturing when compared with the Slot 1 used for previous Celerons & the Pentium II / III. Most new Socket 370-motherboards come with onboard sound, so you'll get a lot of "bang" for your buck!

Intel also disclosed the Intel Pentium III Xeon™ processor brand name targeted for the server and workstation market segments.

"That's nice", I can hear some of you saying, "but what about AMD's offerings?" Well, for once, AMD is making some inroads in the mobile (notebook) chip market. When AMD released it's first mobile version for the K2-6, running at 333MHz, it became the industry (speed) leader - at least for a while.

There has been much talk about the K6-3. It should be a winnerů. It should finally be able to beat Intel for speed... Yea sure, but when are they shipping? Latest rumors are not before April this year (on the shelves), which means that the Pentium III will be out at least a month before...


Securing your NT Network

Many IT administrators tend to overlook the foundation of security-strong server administration. Learn what you can do to implement security features at the most basic level from this TechNet article.

If you need any assistance with NT, post a message to the Windows NT Forum on the Windows-Help.NET BBS!

  Highlights  

Tweaking Toolbox for Windows
Tweaking Toolbox for Windows (TTW) is a utility that helps you to customize your Windows 95/98 interface, by configuring and personalizing its look and feel. The easy-to-use interface lets you configure dozens of hidden Windows 95/98 settings from the Start Menu, Desktop, MS-DOS prompt, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and many more. Check out the new version 1.10!

Web site | Download [213KB]


Novell Releases Y2K Tools
Novell released its Year 2000 Information Ferret product, after successfully testing it last December on 10,000 Novell NetWare users. The tool is a Win 95/98/NT client-based tool that queries server file information for Novell products, identifying their year 2000 status.

More information on the Novell Web site.


MS Close Combat III
It's summer 1943. You're right in the middle of Germany's Eastern Front offensive - code-named Operation Citadel. What's at stake? Only the greatest tank battle in World War II history...

The Battle of Kursk in western Russia historically involved as many as 6,000 tanks, 4,000 aircraft, and 2 million fighting men. This time around, it all boils down to you.

The Close Combat III trial version puts you in charge of either the German or Russian forces in one pivotal battle of Kursk entitled "Prelude to Citadel".

Web site | Download [25.35MB]

Requires DirectX 6 (Win95/98 P-133MHz 32MB RAM)


Microsoft Releases Euro Tools Guide
Microsoft has set up a Euro Tools Guide at their TechNet Web site to provide you with information about third-party euro tools focused on Microsoft products.


Industry related news headlines

  How to test your PC's BIOS for Y2K compliance
 

Your computers BIOS passes current date & time to the operating system, and in case of an older system could pass on an incorrect date to the operating system (OS).

The root of the problem is the computer's Real-Time Clock (RTC), which stores dates in seven registers (seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years & century). The century register is the culprit because it doesn't change automatically. Because of this, the BIOS has the task of setting the century register. Either the BIOS has to overwrite the century register when the time comes, or it should recognize that the 19 is incorrect, and pass a 20 to the OS when a date is requested.

You can easily test your BIOS for compliance:

  1. Make a Bootable Floppy disk. To do this, simply put an empty floppy disk in your drive, and while in Windows, start Windows Explorer. Now right-click on the icon for your Floppy (A), and from the menu choose Format. Under Other options, select Copy system files. Now click on Start to format the disk.
  2. Now restart your system, with the floppy. Note that a setting in your BIOS regulates whether your machine will look at the floppy drive first, so if you're in doubt as to whether your machine is starting from the floppy, consult your manual to change this setting, if necessary.
  3. At the command prompt (A:>) type Date [hit enter], and change the date to 12-31-1999.
  4. Do the same with Time, setting the time to 23:59.
  5. Switch off your system, and wait at least 1 minute.
  6. Restart your machine, and at the command prompt type date [hit enter].

 

If the year doesn't read 2000, you have a problem! (use the date/time commands again to reset your system to the current date/time).

There are, of course, many small utilities written to check this for you, one of them is MPC.EXE [23KB]. Just unzip it from within Windows, and then run MPC from the command prompt (it will install in C:\MPC by default).

If that was all there was to it, I could end the article here.... But, as usual, there are exceptions (don't you love exceptions?).

Award software sold a BIOS that reads the RTC incorrectly, and assumes that every time you reboot, it's the 20th century, no matter what the century register of the RTC is telling. This BIOS was sold in the period 24 April 1994 till 31 May 1995. To test for this flaw, just run the test again, but pick a start date in the year 2000. This will give the RTC a valid century register. There are also some RTC's which lack a century register, you can use the same test above to test for this flaw.

Your BIOS failed the test?

If your BIOS failed the Award test, or the RTC lacks a century register, you must update your BIOS, or use an other third-party fix. One of many companies providing fixes is Unicore, a division of Award.

If your PC is just unable to detect the change from 1900 to 2000, you can save your money, and fix it yourself, with little effort. Just wait for the year 2000 to arrive, and boot your PC with a floppy disk. Typing Date will result in 1980 (the BIOS received 1900 from the RTC, but DOS only goes back to 1980). Now change the date to 2000 and restart your PC. The year should now read 2000.