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November 28, 2001

By Karen Kenworthy

IN THIS ISSUE

Now this is more like it! For weeks it's been unseasonably warm here at the secluded Power Tools workshop. But finally, a real winter storm is on its way!

They say we'll have 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground by daybreak. Already tonight, the lights of distant houses are twinkling through tree branches, and a gauzy curtain of softly falling snow. Time to make a pot of warm cocoa, sit near the fireplace, and catch up with a few friends ...

Directory Printer Sorts

Scarcely a week goes by without a note from a reader, writing about the venerable Directory Printer. Born back in the Fall of 1997, this program was an immediate hit, and remains one of the most popular Power Tools.

Now at the ripe old age of four, the program has undergone many changes. In addition to printing the names of all folders and files in any disk drive or folder, it can also print the size of each file, plus the date and time each file was created, last accessed, and last modified. It can even list each file's attributes, such as Read-Only, Hidden, and System.

A while back the program was updated, adding the ability to highlight "executable" files, files that could, in theory, contain a virus or other harmful code. Another option added the choice "Print with DirPrn" to the context menus that appear when you right-click a file or folder's icon.

Whew! But despite these features, and a few more, people still write suggesting additions to the Directory Printer. And the most commonly requested feature is "sorting."

Now, at first I was confused. After all, the Directory Printer has always sorted files exactly the way you wanted them -- as long as you wanted them listed in alphabetical order.

But any other order wasn't available. Until now. The new Directory Printer v3.1 allows you to view your files sorted in five different ways. For example, Directory Printer can now list files in order of size. This makes it easy to locate very large files when disk space is running short.

The new Directory Printer can also print files sorted by creation date, revealing which files are new arrivals, and which are long-time residents. Another option, to sort by "date of last modification," lets you see the files that have changed recently. Or if you sort by "date of last access" you can see which files aren't being used, and which are used every day.

Lastly, you can still ask Directory Printer to sort the good, old- fashioned way: by file name. But even then, you have a new choice available. In addition to sorting files in the normal, ascending order (a through z), you can reverse the sort by specifying a descending sort order (z through a). The same choice is available when sorting by file size, creating date, modification date and date of last access, allowing you to see the largest, smallest, oldest or newest files first.

If you'd like to try the new Directory Printer, just drop by its home page at:

http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptdirprn.html

As always, the program is free, and so is its Visual Basic source code!

'Net Monitor Tip

Recently, a lot of folks have also written, asking questions about the Power Tool known as 'Net Monitor. One of the most often asked questions is "Why do its tests of my web site fail with the error message 'Wrong Page'?"

As long-time readers will recall, 'Net Monitor allows you to enter the URLs of one or more web pages. It then periodically tests these pages, to see if their web servers are operating correctly.

But what, exactly, is correct operation for a web server? First, 'Net Monitor must be able to locate the web server, converting the site's domain name (something like www.microsoft.com) into the corresponding IP address (something like 207.46.197.113).

If this step fails you or your server may not be connecting to the Internet. Or the server may not have an entry in the Internet's Domain Name Server database (which converts domain names into IP addresses). In these cases, the 'Net Monitor records the failure with a description such as "Lookup Failed".

During the next step, 'Net Monitor must connect to the server being tested, and submit a request. If these steps fail, your Internet connection, or that of your server, may be at fault. Or the server's software may be refusing our connection or request. In 'Net Monitor's test log you may see messages such as "Connection Timeout" or "Request Refused".

If the web server does accept our request, 'Net Monitor awaits the server's response. This can consist of a number (known as a Result Code), indicating a failure. Or the reply might be the entire contents of a web page.

Now you might think that if 'Net Monitor receives a web page in response to its test request, all is well. And maybe so. But what if the page sent by the server isn't the page that should have delivered? What if the page describes some sort of system failure? Or perhaps it's a page from someone else's web site?

To detect these sorts of failures, the 'Net Monitor allows you to specify a "signature," a short string of text that must appear in the web page returned by the web server. If the signature text is missing, 'Net Monitor logs a "Wrong Page" error.

The signature text should be something unusual, something that appears in the web page being tested, but not likely to appear in other web pages. And by default, 'Net Monitor looks for the signature:

- - 'Net Monitor - -

which is pretty unusual. :)

Often this is placed inside an HTML comment, as:

<!-- - - 'Net Monitor - - -->

to hide the signature from web browsers. But you can specify any signature you like, or even turn off 'Net Monitor's signature checking feature altogether.

Karen's CD Goes International!

A few months ago I began offering "Karen's Power Tool CD," a disc containing the most recent versions of all my Power Tool programs, plus two bonus Power Tools not available anywhere else, and a special setup program that makes installing them easier. The CD also comes complete with a "business" license to use the Power Tools on the job.

In addition, the CD includes the Visual Basic source code of every Power Tool. You'll also find back issues of all our Power Tools newsletters, the text of some of my old Windows Magazine articles, and even an index of all these newsletters and articles.

I've been very gratified by your response to the CD offer. Many of you have written to say how helpful you've found the CD and its contents. Best of all, the proceeds from the CD make it possible for me to continue writing this newsletters and the Power Tools programs.

Unfortunately, when the CD was first offered, it was only available to residents of the US. But during the last few days I've finished work on changes to our secure order-processing web site that allow people from almost 100 countries order the CD. I've also researched customs and postal regulations, so now I'm able to *ship* CDs to all those locations too. :)

Where ever you live, the web address for ordering CDs hasn't changed. It's still:

http://www.karenware.com/cd.html

And the price is the same too, just 29.94 US dollars. That still includes shipping, via First Class Mail to US addresses, and Airmail Letter-Post to all other destinations. The US Post Office assures me this means deliver times of 7 days or less, world-wide. And we all know the Post Office is never wrong. :)

Hopefully, these colorful CDs will make their ways into Christmas stockings around the world. And if you have a big family, or would like to make a purchase for your company, drop me a note at karenk@karenware.com for special volume prices.

Wow! Look at the time! The sun will be up in a couple of hours. And I want to be the first to make some footprints in all that new snow!

So I guess we'll have to stop for now. But until the next time we meet, if you see me playing in the snow, or on the 'net, be sure to wave and say Hi! Just don't throw any snowballs my way. :)