Tracert helps you find bottlenecks on Internet HELP LINE

August 10, 1998|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

For the last couple of months, I have had problems getting to certain Internet sites. It takes anywhere from 4-20 minutes for each of these sites to load. Numerous other sites load just fine. I use a dial-up access through a Salt Lake City ISP with a local franchise in Downers Grove, Ill. I have talked to my ISP's tech support on several occasions, and they think it is a "central trunk" problem here in Chicago.

A handy DOS program called tracert.exe built into Windows 95 )) and Windows 98 actually lets people who can't get through to a slow Web site see where their Internet connection is breaking down. Tracert (short for trace route) gives a readout as your machine attempts to move from server to server en route to the Web page you have ordered up. Tracert fixes nothing, but at least it shows you which connection is freezing up when you try for a problematic Web site.

The next time you dial up your Internet connection, minimize the browser window and then call up the DOS prompt and type in the program name tracert along with the Web site address you want to check. For example: tracert www.cnn.com.

The diagnostic software will send a test message to the Web site and print out on your screen line by line each hop made until the CNN Web site is reached. If you can't get through, the last line displayed will be the bottleneck.

I received a data program by e-mail containing 27 files varying in size from 23k to 338k. They were written using Simple Text, but my translator will not open any of the files larger than 45k.

Is there any way I can increase the operating capacity of Simple Text so I can open the files that are larger than 45k?

While your problem is taking place on a Macintosh, the same problem and the same sort of solutions apply to lots of folks running Windows as well. The basic text editor in Windows called Notepad only handles files of 16k, while Apple's Simple Text version peters out above 45k. The easiest solution on either platform is to call up a word processor, which your machine almost certainly has on its hard drive, and just open the large file with the word processor.

There is a wealth of shareware designed to fix the text editor limitation at the software area on America Online or such Web sites as shareware.com or tucows.com.

Send e-mail to jcoateribune.com.

A quick and dirty fix is to point your Web browser at the file, which will let you review its contents but won't let you make any changes. To do this, click on the file selection on the top of the browser screen, then use the "open" box that comes up to find the text file

There is a wealth of shareware designed to fix the text editor limitation at places like the software area on America Online or such Web sites as shareware.com or tucows.com.

I have a PowerPoint '97 file that was just over 1.4 megabytes in size. I deleted a few slides and saved it. It is now over 2.2 megabytes. Why does removing slides make the file bigger? Also, how can I shrink it to fit on a 1.4 floppy?

Microsoft's slide show creation software, PowerPoint, has a feature called Pack and Go that is meant to allow users to create a large slide show on one computer and then save it on floppy disks or other storage devices for later use on another computer. Pack and Go compresses the data as part of the process.

If you simply save your show rather than choose Pack and Go from the file menu, the file can be a lot larger, as you have discovered. That 2.2-megabyte file is no problem, really, because Pack and Go will let you move presentations larger than the 1.4-megabyte single floppy maximum onto multiple floppies.

Meanwhile, all computer users who still need to use floppy disks to store the huge files that are commonplace should know about the shareware program PKZip, which not only compresses files but also allows a user to save files larger than the 1.4-megabyte floppy disk maximum by spanning the data over a multiple floppies.

The most direct way to get to PKZip is the Web site maintained by PKWare Inc. at pkware.com.

I have been running Windows 3.11 for several years on a 486DX100, 3.1-gigabyte hard drive, internal tape backup, 20-meg RAM machine. I've hesitated to change to Windows 95 because of all the DOS programs I am running under 3.11, and several computer-literate people have warned that I'm asking for trouble if I change to Windows 95. What's your opinion?

Here's the deal: Huge improvements have been made in the installation process for Windows 98 over those for Windows 95, making it far easier to upgrade your Windows 3.1 machine to 98 than was the case with 95. But your 100-megahertz 486 machine just barely meets even Microsoft's own liberal specifications for a bare-bones machine running Windows 98. I would recommend DTC you stick with the monster you've got rather than courting a new one.

The problem with relatively low-powered machines such as yours is that Windows 98 takes a terribly long time to load, and it also takes a lot longer to load and run individual applications.

That said, once you have the computer booted up and the software running, Windows 98 actually makes 486s run a bit faster. But the boost you get really isn't worth the wait every time you boot up the machine or load a program.

Send e-mail to jcoateribune.com.

! Pub date: 8/10/98

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