December 6, 1999

Window Manager, Brian Livingston

Readers explain how to use an undocumented hardware utility and search the Web faster

I'VE WRITTEN ABOUT several controversial topics in the past few weeks, and, before too long, I hope to summarize all the comments I've received. Meanwhile, here are tips from readers on some new topics.

Free hardware information
An e-mail tipster known to me as Harry from New Zealand writes about an undocumented and unsupported utility in Windows 98 called the Microsoft Hardware Diagnostic Tool, or Hwinfo.exe. This tool can provide you with a quick and easy check on a PC's hardware to solve a problem or prevent a potential conflict from becoming a problem.

To start Hwinfo, you must use an undocumented switch, /ui (it stands for "user interface"). Click the Start button, then click Run, then type hwinfo.exe /ui into the Run dialog box and click OK.

When Hwinfo starts up, it presents a daunting list that includes scores of hardware configurations and Registry settings. You can make sense of this list in various ways.

1. Pull down the View menu and select Devices With Problems. This limits the display to only those hardware conflicts that are causing some sort of error message. If you don't see any problems, you can thank the Windows gods.

2. Pull down the View menu and select Resource Summary. This displays a handy list of the memory locations, Direct Memory Access (DMA) channels, input/output addresses, and interrupts that your hardware is using. The list also includes the names of programs that Windows automatically runs from the Registry every time it starts up. (If you see programs listed in the Registry that you prefer not to run, don't delete them from the Registry manually; use the Add/Remove Programs control panel if possible.)

Hwinfo contains the same information you can get from the documented (and supported) Microsoft System Information tool. To see this alternative, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and System Information. Under the Hardware Resources tree, you can select DMA, I/O, and other options to get the same details you see in Hwinfo.

The benefit of using Hwinfo is that this information is presented in a single text window, unlike the multiple document interface of System Information. This makes it easy to copy and paste sections of the display into an e-mail message, print all or part of the output, and so on. Try it.

Microsoft provides explanations of System Information listings at support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q184/0/75.asp. Some information on Hwinfo is at support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q185/9/56.asp.

Search all search engines

Reader Bob Weeks suggests a way to search the Web better and faster.

Earlier this year, I wrote about searchenginewatch.com, a Web site that is trying to standardize the syntax rules used by major search engines (See "Finally, an effort is under way to make Net searches easier," www.infoworld.com/printlinks).

A different approach is being taken by Eureka, a sort of search engine for search engines (www.gocee.com/eureka). This site has created a standard input form for 80 or so different Web directories. You don't need to know the syntax for each one. Eureka defaults to using the best method for whichever search engine you choose. For example, different search engines treat queries such as windows bugs differently. Some interpret this as windows AND bugs, others process it as windows OR bugs, while others assume you require "windows bugs" to appear as a complete phrase.

Eureka solves this dilemma for you by boiling searches down into three main possibilities: Match All Words, Match Any Words, and Match the Phrase. More advanced options are also available if you still need them.<

Eureka was created by Kenneth Churilla, the developer of the Silicon Valley Web Directory. He includes a critique of each search engine, and a valuable treatise on promoting your Web site.

Readers Harry and Weeks will receive a free copy of More Windows 98 Secrets for being the first to send me a tip I printed.


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