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Window Manager
Brian Livingston
Stupid font tricks

THIS WEEK I'LL share with you some tips on Notepad, free fonts, and virtual CDs.

Automatic Notepad log

I wrote at the beginning of the year about secret settings you can use in Windows 2000 and some older versions of Windows that allow you to save your preferred headers, footers, and margin settings in Notepad, that long-lived text editor we've all used from time immemorial (see Window Manager, Jan. 15).

Reader Brian Wilcox writes in to remind us that Notepad has another little-known trick.

If you type .LOG as the first line of a text file, Notepad inserts your system's current time and date every time you open that file. To work, the line must begin with a period and must be spelled with all capital letters.

This is handy when you want to keep a running record on a particular topic. It's not exactly a time-and-billing system, but it's fine for those little tasks where you want to remind yourself of when you recorded particular notes.

You can also pull down Notepad's Edit menu and choose Time/Date or simply press F5 to insert the current time and date into any document at any location.

Where does Notepad gets its time and date formats? From whatever preferences are set in your Regional Settings control panel.

Wilcox will receive a free copy of Windows 2000 Secrets for being the first to send a tip I printed.

Free TrueType fonts

I last wrote about TrueType fonts when Microsoft came out with its free "core fonts for the Web" package. These fonts, released in the early days of Internet Explorer, were designed to improve readability in browsers.

If you haven't already got 'em, you should definitely download some of these free fonts at

But there are a lot more free fonts now than there used to be, and Microsoft's font pack only scratches the surface.

Some of the best are from the Chank Company's Web site, based in Minneapolis. Over the years, artist and typographer Chank Diesel and his colleagues have created a collection of 40 professional-quality TrueType fonts in both Windows and Mac formats that are free for the downloading.

These aren't fonts that I'd recommend using to print the financial tables in your next corporate annual report. They're edgy and attention-grabbing; for example, the new typeface Dekapot Masss inserts stray dots and dashes in a decorative but unpredictable way.

Start at, then click the "Free" icon in the site's navigation bar and begin your exploration from there.

If the free fonts are too hip for you, the site sells 30 different packages of commercial TrueType fonts to bring in some money. Chank also accepts payments through the Amazon Honor System from people who used the free fonts and want to encourage the production of more (a detailed explanation of how this works is on the site).

Everyone can use more free fonts, so send me links to your own favorite resources. Chank himself is currently running a contest to find the best Web sites that offer at least some fonts for free. Entries close on June 10 (see, and winners will be announced on July 14.

In the meantime, a whole printer's case worth of free-font links can be found at End the monotony of Arial and Times Roman!

New ways to use CD contents on a hard drive

I wrote recently about ways to make CD files that are copied into a hard disk folder appear to be an actual CD drive (see April 2 and May 28 Window Manager). This can be done for performance reasons, for laptops, or for any application that supports a drive letter rather than a folder name.

Microsoft is now providing a tool to do this for Windows XP beta testers. The VirtualCD utility consists of a front-end file, VCDControlTool.exe, and a driver file, VCDROM.sys.

The Redmond, Wash., company posts new builds of Windows XP in the ISO file format used on CD-ROMs. In the past, testers would download a new XP build, burn the ISO image files onto a CD, and then install from that CD. Using VirtualCD, you can simply place the downloaded image in a folder, then redefine that folder as a virtual CD drive. Even Windows Explorer is fooled into displaying the folder with a drive letter and a little CD-ROM icon.

VirtualCD is available to testers at It works in Windows 2000 and XP, but not in NT or Windows 9x. It may be included in XP when the new OS ships.

If you aren't a tester, you can use the tips on Windows' Map Network Drive, Subst, and Net commands from my previous columns. Even better, the free 32-bit vSubst program at and the $39.95 VirtualCD Drive Emulator at, (which offers file compression) both provide provide features that the Windows Subst command doesn't.

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