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Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Scott Rhoades

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Posted: 3 Jun 1999

Novell Client Basics

Novell Client for Windows is the software that enables you to log in to the network. That's about all it does, right? Well, no, not really.

The client includes some features that can actually make your day-to-day job easier. I'm not talking about technical stuff like configuration settings and optimization and other under-the-hood gizmos. I mean, there are doodads right there on the dashboard that make it easier to get where you're going on the network.

You can find many of the client's features by right-clicking that big red N on the system tray. You might not even have noticed that icon when the client was installed on your workstation, but it really is there and it's a good thing to know about.

Right-click on the icon and a menu appears, listing a whole bunch of things you can do with the client.

This article focuses on two of those menu items, Browse To and Configure System Tray Icon.

Browse To

Let's start with the Browse To option.

I'm sure this has never happened to you:

There's this directory on the network that contains files or apps that you need to access fairly often and it's like fifty levels down in the directory structure. At least it seems that way. You use it a lot, but not enough that you want to automatically map a drive to that directory when you log in. Unfortunately, it's also not often enough for you to remember where the directory is, so you're always asking Fred, the guy in the next cube, where the files are. Now Fred's getting sick of you asking. He's stopped inviting you to parties and, well, it's kind of an ugly scene.

Or, there are several directories that you use all the time, but you don't want to use up valuable drive letters on all of them because it makes it a pain to find the drive you want in My Computer. You also don't want to remember where all of those directories are. Besides, there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, and you've already used most of them.

Or maybe you're just plain tired of it taking half the day to log in because of all the drive mappings that have to be completed at login just so you don't have to remember all those network directories you like to use.

Never happens, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.

You can use the Browse To feature to create a custom list of network locations that you access often. Once they are in the list, they are right there at your fingertips (or your mouse pointer--do you have to be so technical?) when you need them without you having to automatically map drives when you log in or go looking for them. Well, you'll still have to go find them, but only once, when you want to add them to the list.

First, select the Browse To option. Once you've done that, you could use My Computer or Network Neighborhood to browse to the location. Those are good options, but there are quicker ways to open those two browsers. The really useful thing about the Browse To feature happens when you click Edit Browseable Path. A dialog box appears. It might not be the world's greatest dialog box, but if you have any of the problems described above, you'll like what it does.

You can type the path to the frequently used location, or you can click the Browse button and go find the location. Either way, once you've specified the location, click Add. From now on, unless you go in and remove the path using the same dialog box, that location will automatically appear in a list of paths when you click the Browse To option. No more mapping the drive when you log in. No more searching through a billion levels of a convoluted directory structure. Best of all, no more pestering poor Fred. You and Fred can be buds again.

Configure System Tray Icon

Now we'll move on to Configure System Tray Icon. Yeah, I know I said that I wasn't going to get into technical junk like configuration and optimization, but the icon is one thing you might want to configure. That's because you have a certain amount of control over what happens when you click on the big red N. And it's easy.

The way the client ships, Network Neighborhood opens up when you double-click the icon. Network Neighborhood is the Microsoft utility that makes it so you can browse the network. There's probably a Network Neighborhood icon on your desktop already. The problem is, if you need to browse the net while using an application that covers your whole screen, getting to Network Neighborhood means resizing or minimizing the application. That's not very convenient, especially if you need the application to use the whole screen and you often need to browse the network. As long as the Taskbar is set to Always On Top (right-click the Taskbar and click Properties to check this setting), the N icon is readily available and can be clicked, even if the app is maximized.

Now, hold down the Shift key while double-clicking the N icon. The Novell Map Network Drive dialog box opens. You can use this dialog box when you want to connect to a location somewhere on the network so you can use network files or applications. When you map to a location, that server, volume, or directory is assigned a disk letter and can be opened in My Computer.

Both of these default actions are nice and convenient. In fact, they are probably among your most frequent network tasks. But what if you'd rather have some other client feature pop up, one that you use more often? For example, what if you want an easier, faster way to open the Novell Login dialog box? That's where the Configure System Tray Icon feature comes in.

You can configure the icon so that the tasks you perform most frequently, or the tasks you most often forget how to do, happen when you double-click or Shift+double-click the icon. Best of all, the Configure System Tray Icon features makes it easy to make the icon do what you want it to do, rather than what some engineer at Novell thought you might want it to do.

Go ahead and right-click the icon, then click on the Configure System Tray Icon option in the menu. The Configure System Tray dialog box opens. There are two actions that can be configured.

To configure the action that occurs when you double-click the icon, open the list of possible actions by clicking on the down arrow.

Let's take a quick look at each of the items in the list of configureable actions.

Disconnect Network Drive

If you're connected to a drive somewhere on the network, and you just plain don't wanna stay connected for whatever reason (like if you got a message from your network administrator saying that a server is going down) you can disconnect from that drive. You can always do that by selecting Disconnect Network Drive after right-clicking the N menu, but if it's something you do a lot, you might want to configure the icon so you can do it faster.

My Computer

If you often need to open My Computer but it's covered by applications, or the icon is just plain hard to find because you've got so many icons on your desktop, solve the problem by configuring the N icon to open My Computer for you.

NetWare Connections

The NetWare Connections dialog box lets you see your current connections, detach from any you want to close, and set one connection as your primary connection. It's easy enough to do from the N menu, but it can be even easier if you need it to be. You can open the dialog box by double-clicking or Shift+double-clicking the N icon, if you configure the icon.

NetWare Login

You use the client to log in to the network. That's why it's there. You can make accessing the Novell Login dialog box a step or two faster by--well, you know. This is especially helpful if you don't automatically log in to the network when you start your workstation. For example, if you use a laptop that's not always connected to the network, you probably don't automatically log in when you start the computer.

Network Neighborhood

This default action has already been described, above. In short, it opens the Network Neighborhood browser.

Novell Capture Printer Port

If you need to capture a port in order to print (if you do, you already know what this means and if you don't, you don't need to know), you can do so from the N menu. If you do it a lot, you can configure the icon so it's a little faster to access the feature.

Novell Client Properties

If you often change the client properties on your workstation, you can do it from the N. Generally, this is not a good idea, and is probably not something you would do often enough to make it a default action. But if you're a network administrator or if your job is to test or optimize the client, then it might be helpful to make this a default action. But most people should just leave those properties alone.

Novell End Capture

Again, if you know what this means, you probably use it, and if you don't, you don't. If you do, you can make it easier in the usual way.

Novell Map Network Drive

I've already described this default action. Basically, it's what you do when you want to connect to a server, volume, or directory on the network and make that object show up on your workstation as though it were an ordinary disk drive, with its own drive letter and everything.

Send Message

If you like to pester your coworkers with little messages--I mean, if you often need to inform your colleagues of important work-related events, the Send Message feature makes it possible. If you do it a lot, you can do it a little faster by making the Send Message feature a default action for the icon.

Whew. That was a big tangent, but I hope it was helpful. Where were we? Oh yeah. Those are the things you can choose from for the default action when you double-click the N icon. By a strange quirk of fate, they are also the things that you configure to happen when you Shift+double-click the icon. Configure the icon so that the action you use most happens when you double-click the icon, and the action you use second most happens when you Shift+double-click the icon.

That's All There Is to It

So that's it. Those two little options, barely noticeable in the N menu, can actually simplify your life on the network. They can reduce the number of clicks needed to perform a frequent action and make it easy to find oft-used network directories without having to go through the time-consuming process of mapping 20 drives at login or the impossible process of remembering a dozen long, convoluted paths.

And you thought all the client did for you was let you log in.

About the author: Scott Rhoades

Scott lives life on the edge. When not jumping off cliffs or snarfing hot peppers, he's performing really daring and dangerous stunts--like leading the Novell Client doc team.

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