Saturday, December 21, 2002

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How can I divide a large file into smaller segments so it can be sent via email or backed up to a floppy disk?

One option available to you is to use a freeware program known as HJ Split. The beauty of this tool is that it is tiny and no installation is necessary to run it. Just double click on the the file's icon, select the file you wish to break up, let HJ Split know the size of the resulting chunks you would like to create and finally click on the start button to begin the process. HJ Split will also recombine these files for you once they reach their final destination, so if you want to email them to a friend make sure you also send them the program itself.

Since most people will already have installed on their system some sort of compression tool, you may instead like to create a spanned, compressed archive. Winzip, Winace and Winrar are equally adept at this task so you may as well use whichever one you happen to have installed.

Take Winzip, for instance; to span a file across multiple disks, create a zip file in the usual manner and when requested to choose a location to store the resulting archive in, select your floppy drive. If the file exceeds the capacity of a single disk, when it becomes full, Winzip will request you to insert another disk to which it can continue backing up your data.

From within the same menu, it is also possible to use Winzip to chop up compressed archives using arbitrary cut off points and save the files to your hard drive.

You want to create a rar archive instead? You would wouldn't you, you awkward so and so. ;) Luckily, that's no more difficult than spanning a zip file. Locate the files you wish to add to your rar archive and highlight them, right-click on one of them and select 'add to archive'. When the 'archive name and parameters' menu appears, give your archive-to-be an appropriate name and then in the box that reads 'split to volumes, bytes' type in, or select the size of the data chunks you would like Winrar to create. Click OK and your task is complete. That wasn't too painful, was it?

Monday, December 16, 2002

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To browse or not to browse, that is the question

Here's a good tip for anyone who still pays for their time online by the minute (you silly people you!). Have you ever found a really interesting, information packed web site which you'd love to read from start to finish, but couldn't concentrate on it because you were constantly watching the clock? Well the ideal solution is to download the pages to your hard drive so you can read them offline at your leisure without running up a huge phone bill.

While you can save individual pages one by one using your browser's save button, this isn't exactly very convenient when you want to download a whole web site, which could include thousands of pages, images, movies and sounds. So what's the alternative? Web Zip, available from, will quite happily crawl through every page of a target web site and save an exact copy of it including its directory structure to your hard drive. Once you have given the program a few simple instructions regarding what exactly it is you wish to save, the transfer process is completely automated. Just one word of warning though; before hitting the start button remember to restrict the level of external links you want Web Zip to follow - specifying no exclusions at all is the equivalent of asking it to download the internet per se, rather than just the particular site you're interested in!

Friday, December 06, 2002

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What are .mdf and .mds files?

These constitute the native image file system of the CD/DVD cloning tool, Alcohol 120%. You can think of them as a proprietary version of the better known bin/cue duo. Mds files are tiny as they only contain the bare minimum of information required by the cloning software to successfully burn the relatively mammoth mdf, or image, file.

Other image manipulation tools such as ISO Buster and Ultra ISO will let you peek inside mdf images and extract their contents, but not create new ones.