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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Readers provide feedback on Windows Key, System.ini tweak, and ICANN elections

FEEDBACK FROM READERS is the best part of my job. For example, in my July 31 column (see "More Windows Explorer tips from readers who want to get the most out of their file manager"), I mentioned some shortcuts that use the Windows Key.

Reader Jonathan Rice recommends a free utility, WinKey. It lets you redefine the Windows Key using almost any key combination, not just the ones Microsoft chose. You can get it from

Edwin Yuen has a favorite for Windows NT and Windows 2000: Ctrl+Shift+Esc brings up the Task Manager.

To tweak or not to tweak

In my June 26 column (see "Improve the speed of Web pages, video, and other Net transfers in Windows 2000 and 9x"), I passed along a suggestion to improve throughput on network interface cards under Windows 95 and 98. The tweak adds a line to your System.ini file. The line supposedly sets aside 4MB of RAM for a buffer to speed network transfers, including Internet access via a LAN.

But I've received opinions from readers that this doesn't work. For example, David Reed writes that "adding cache sounds good, but is reported to be Internet folklore."

I got this tip from,a Web site published by U.S. Interconn, a consulting firm on Microsoft TechNet's recommended list.

When I asked about my readers' concerns, U.S. Interconn Vice President Philip Filipov told me the company has received more than 100 e-mail messages stating that the trick helps and more than 100 stating that it doesn't make a difference. He says he'd remove the tip from if testing debunks it.

Microsoft spokeswoman Pami Katcho checked and reports, "All involved have confirmed: This is a hoax."

Still, I've received several messages from readers who the trick helped. Jim Jackson wrote that his PC would always crash when transferring files larger than 500KB across his home network. "After adding the buffer statements to the System.ini file," Jackson says, "this machine no longer freezes."

I must admit I'm stumped. But even its critics agree that it does no harm. Perhaps it just has a very strong placebo effect!

An ICANN update

I reported in my July 10 column (see "ICANN is making crucial decisions about the Web, but the whole world isn't watching") that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will allow voting members to elect five of its 19 directors. But the staff had recommended that candidates (other than those nominated by a board committee) be required to get 10 percent of the active members to visit a Web page and "endorse" them.

Fortunately, the board voted at its July 16 meeting, in Yokohama, Japan, to lower the requirement to 2 percent.

One director will be elected from each of five regions of the world. Independent candidates seem to be achieving the 2 percent threshold in the South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions. In the U.S./Canada region, Cisco engineer Karl Auerbach has the most endorsements: about 2.3 percent.

This process was due to end on Aug. 31, to be followed by a campaign and an voting period from Oct. 1 through Oct. 10. But the ICANN staff, in what looks a lot like election tampering, has decided to keep member "activation" and nomination open until Sept. 8.

ICANN CFO Andrew McLaughlin said in a statement that "we would like to see a greater percentage of the applicants get activated to participate in the member-nomination process." But if more members become active without realizing that a separate step is needed to help an independent candidate get on the ballot, Auerbach (an advocate of ICANN reform) could slip below 2 percent, which seems to be ICANN's desired result.

Voter registration closed July 31. If you became a member, you must activate your membership at Click Activate Membership, then enter the password ICANN sent you via e-mail and the PIN they sent you via postal mail.

Then, if you live in the United States or Canada, click the Endorse a Candidate link to help Auerbach get the 2 percent he needs simply to appear on the ballot. Thanks.


Operating Systems

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