February 28, 2000

By Karen Kenworthy


Last week I mentioned how hard it is for family and friends to understand what programmers do all day. Even my Mom and Dad are confused, wondering why anyone pays me money for staring at a computer screen for hours, and occasionally typing a few words. Despite using computers themselves, they can't completely make the connection between what I do, and what they see on their computer screens.

Well ... you know what happened next. Almost immediately I heard from many of you, reporting the same sorts of experiences and feelings. But to my surprise, many of you who wrote aren't computer programmers. It turns out, in this technological world, a lot of our jobs aren't well understood. I wonder how long before none of us know what anyone else is doing? :)

Adaptec + Win2000

I also heard from many of you, after complaining last week that Adaptec's popular EZ-CD Creator program did not support Windows 2000. More than one person wrote to say that EZ-CD Creator version 4.0 does indeed support Win 2000. And reported the older version 3.5 would support the new operating system soon.

That was confusing, because the Windows 2000 setup itself told me to uninstall my copy of EZ-Creator 4.0 before it was willing to upgrade my computer. I had also visited Adaptec's Web site, to confirm this problem and find out Adaptec's schedule for a Win2000-compatible release. The page I found is at http://www.adaptec.com/support/faqs/cdrecos.html. It clearly states that EZ-CD Creator versions 3.x would never support Win2000. The table also shows that version 4.02, the first to support Win2000, would not be released until the end of March, 2000.

Knowing that my gang couldn't be wrong, I looked into the matter further. After spending more time at Adaptec's Web site, I discovered the following message at http://webcheckup.adaptec.com/ecdc-win2k/win2k-ECDC4.html: "Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4 is Windows 2000 compatible."

The page goes on to say that the current version does not support USB- or Firewire-based CD writers, and that an update is forthcoming. Perhaps that's the source of the confusion. But whatever its source, I'm grateful to the folks who wrote and set the record straight!

Registry Ripper!

I wasn't able to play with my CD-Writer last week, but that didn't keep me away from my computer. What started as a simple tool to help me debug other programs has become our latest Power Tool. In the spirit of the online music revolution, I've named our new tool the Registry Ripper.

Like MP3 and other music "rippers," our Ripper reads data and converts it to another format. But our program doesn't read audio CDs. Instead it searches your Windows Registry, your computer's storehouse of configuration settings and other important bits of information about your computer and applications. The Ripper stores the information it finds in a text file that you, or a computer program, can read and understand. In a nutshell, the Ripper lets you backup portions of your Registry, and even move entries from one computer to another.

Now you already have a program that can search your Windows Registry. It's called RegEdit.exe, and it resides in your \Windows directory. RegEdit can even write all, or selected portions of, your Registry to a text file. So why do we need the Ripper?

First, the Ripper's search feature is better than RegEdit's. When asked to search for a particular string, RegEdit displays each matching Registry entry as it is found. You must click an OK button to proceed to the next match. Only one matching entry is visible at a time. The Ripper displays all matching entries in a list box, where you can view them, and compare them, at your leisure.

When writing Registry entries to a text file, RegEdit has another limitation. It can only export a single "tree," or groups of consecutive entries, at a time. But what if the data you want to copy is scattered throughout the Registry? This often happens. With the Ripper, it's no problem. Just specify A bit of text that all the related entries have in common, such as "Cookie" or "Adaptec." The Ripper will find them, and with the click of a button, export them to a single file.

Finally, the Ripper has one other advantage over RegEdit. Unlike RegEdit, the Ripper can't delete or alter any of your Registry's valuable data. It only reads your data, and optionally writes it to a new file. That file can later be used to update a Registry, but we'll get to that in a moment ...

Registry Cloning

When you run the Registry Ripper, you'll see a place to enter a bit of text. The Ripper will later find all Registry entries that contain this text. The Ripper also displays a group of checkboxes, allowing you to tell it which portions of the Registry to search. Below these is the list box where the Ripper displays its results. And across the bottom of the program's window are buttons labeled "Rip" and "Save" Click the Rip button, and the Ripper will begin its search. Click the Save button, and the program writes the information it found to a text file you select.

The text file can have any name you choose. But by default, its name will end with the characters ".REG." This type of file is often used to store Registry entries. In fact, RegEdit creates one when you ask it to export Registry entries.

When you double-click the icon of a .REG file, RegEdit automatically copies the file's contents to the Windows Registry. This habit makes it easy to clone sections of your Registry, moving them to other computers. Just use the Ripper to copy selected Registry entries to a file, move that file to another computer, then double-click the icon of the file to complete the job. Your information now resides in both Registries!

You can use this trick to quickly move program setting from one computer to another. If you search, for example, your Registry for entries containing the text "Countdown," you'll find all the data stored by my Countdown Timer II Power Tool. Export those entries to a file, move them to another computer, and viola! You'll now remember those important meetings and anniversaries no matter where you compute.

If you'd like to try the new Registry Ripper, download your free copy at https://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptregrip. As always, its Visual Basic source code is available too. And while you're there, check out the latest versions of my Cookie Viewer, and Countdown Timer II. See if you can spot their new features before I talk about them next week!

But before I go, I want to share something Earle Holden wrote, after hearing about the trouble my Mom and Dad have understanding the job I do: "What does it matter if they understand or not, the important thing was ... you were there! My daughter is a photo scientist, I love to hear about her day, and what she does, but I don't have a clue to what she's talking about most of the time. But oh how I love knowing that she cares enough about me to talk about it. PS: Daddies have a special place in their hearts for their little girls."

Earle, your little girl has a very special daddy. Thanks for reminding me of what's really important. And get well soon. That "little" girl needs you.

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