June 25, 2002

By Karen Kenworthy


It's true. I don't get out much. :)

During most of my life, I've lived within a few hours of the place I was born. When I do travel, I quickly grow homesick, longing for the comforts of the secluded Power Tools workshop, and the many friends and family members who live nearby.

Locale Sweet Locale

But our little binary buddy, Microsoft Windows, is a real globe trotter. At this very moment copies of Windows are running on every continent on earth. You'll find it running on ships and submarines, on and under each of earth's seas and waterways.

Windows lives above the earth too. Few airliners take to the air without at least one copy running in their cabins. Windows runs on the International Space Station, and the American Space Shuttle, too.

There's no doubt about it -- Windows gets around. :)

Being a homebody, I've often wondered how the digital jet set lives. So recently I spent some time rifling through Windows' travel bags. I wanted to learn how Windows can be reasonably comfortable in so many different countries and cultures. How does it know where to call home, and how does it adapt to various languages, and local customs?

The answer, it turns out, begins with something Windows calls a "Locale ID" -- a number that tells Windows where it lives, and often, how to behave.

Now, you might think a single number can't reveal a great deal. But a Locale ID is really three numbers in one. Among the 32 bits making up each Locale ID are 10 bits that tell Windows the preferred language spoken by the computer's owner or user. Another 6 bits indicate the actual country or region where the computer user resides. Four more bits distinguish between various "sorting orders," or ways to alphabetize text in various languages. And the remaining 12 bits of each Locale ID are not currently used.

Local Customs

That's just the beginning. Windows' Locale ID also determines the default value of over 100 of "Regional Options." These settings control how Windows displays text, dates, times and numbers. Programs that run under Windows can also view these settings, allowing them to tailor their behavior to each locale, if they choose.

Several of the settings found in Windows' Regional Options are just names. You'll find the name of the user's language and country, in both English and the local language. Other settings specify the local names for the seven days of the weeks, and for the 12 (and sometimes 13) months of the year.

Another setting indicates which calendar should be used. Windows understands 12 different calendars, including several types of Gregorian calendar (the type used in most of the Western world), Hijri (Arabic lunar), Hebrew (Lunar) , Thai and Japanese (Year of the Emperor). Related settings tell programs the first day of the week, and how to display dates and times.

Several of the Regional Options are related to money. One tells programs the name of the local currency, while another reveals the currency's abbreviation or symbol. Others settings let programs know how many fractional digits should be displayed when dealing with monetary amounts.

Non-cash numbers haven't been forgotten either. Windows has settings that tell programs what character to display as a number's decimal point. Other settings indicate how negative and long numbers should be displayed. There are even settings that indicate the local system of measurement (metric or U.S.), and the local standard printer paper size!

New Profiler

Several of these settings can be viewed by you and I, via Windows Control Panel. Just select Settings, then Control Panel, from Windows' Start menu. When the Control Panel's folder appears, double-click its Regional Options icon.

When the Regional Options dialog is displayed, you'll see several settings including your Locale ID (it may be called your "location" or "locale"). Feel free to explore these settings, but be careful. The Regional Options dialog also allows you to change your settings, and the wrong settings may cause some programs to fail or misbehave.

If you'd like a safer alternative, check out the latest version of Karen's Computer Profiler. This popular Power Tools displays over 200 bits of information about your computer, including network settings, Windows version, and information about your computer's memory, disk drives, printers, and more. The latest version also displays almost 40 of Windows' regional or locale settings, including several not displayed by Windows' Control Panel.

The new Profiler also sports a "Save to Disk" button, allowing it to save your computer's information to a disk file. From there the information can be printed, shared with others, or imported into a document or spreadsheet.

Another new feature is for advanced users or system administrators. It allows you to run the Profiler from a command line, shortcut, script, or batch file. If the command line used to launch the Profiler contains "/Save" followed by the name of a disk file, the Profiler's information will automatically saved to that file.

To give the new Computer Profiler v2.0 a try, visit its home page at:


There you can download your free copy of the program. If you'd like to see how the program works, you can download the program's Visual Basic source code too!

And as always, if you prefer the convenience of a CD, or want to support Karen's Power Tools, visit my CD home page at:


There you can order your own copy of Karen's CD, complete with the latest Computer Profiler. Your CD will also include the most recent versions of every other Power Tool, plus three bonus Power Tools programs not available anywhere else (one automatically downloads and installs updates to the Power Tools programs). The CD even has all the back issues of my newsletters, and a special license that lets you use all the Power Tools at work!

There's a bit more to say about the new Computer Profiler. But that will have to wait until after my upcoming trip -- to my bedroom for a little nap. :)

But when I'm awake again, look for me on the 'net. And if you see me there, be sure to wave and say "Hi!"

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